Donald R. McClarey
One of the interesting aspects of studying history is to view public figures, blessed with long lives, and see the roles they played at different periods in their life. Frank Sinatra, who towards the end of his life was noted primarily for his body of work as a singer, associations with the Mafia, and stories about his frequently extreme personal behavior, was quite the political activist as a liberal in his younger days. (He would switch to the Republican party after being snubbed by JFK during the Kennedy administration.) One example of this was when he gave a concert in Gary, Indiana, to help solve a problem with racial strife in that city. Blacks from the South had been attracted to Gary by wartime jobs, as was the case with many Northern cities, and this influx led to racial turmoil. The city had one integrated high school, Froebel High School. White students protested integration by organizing two walkouts that attracted national attention.
Sinatra had recently cut a record, The House I Live In, pleading for tolerance. Probably both in an honest effort to help, and to gain much needed positive publicity after being attacked for draft dodging during the War, Sinatra gave the concert on November 1,1945.
The draft dodging rumors were unfair. Sinatra had been designated a 4-F by his draft board due to a perforated ear drum, caused during his delivery at birth, chronic mastoiditis and mental instability. ”During the psychiatric interview, the patient stated that he was ‘neurotic, afraid to be in crowds, afraid to go in the elevator, makes him feel that he would want to run when surrounded by people. He had comatic ideas and headaches and has been very nervous for four or five years. Wakens tired in the A.M., is run down and undernourished. The examining psychiatrist concluded that this selectee suffered from psychoneurosis and was not acceptable material from the psychiatric viewpoint.”
Sinatra was met in Gary by a large and enthusiastic integrated audience, with both black and white teenage girls in rapturous hysterics as he sang.
Sinatra got some good national publicity and doubtless his heart was in the right place. The concert of course did nothing to resolve the racial disputes since only in Hollywood are such deep rooted problems dealt with so easily as by a concert. Continue reading
Jeb Bush has come under fire for answering a very stupid question by saying yes, if he could go back in time, he would kill Baby Hitler. Of course the proper answer to this question is that he would kidnap Baby Hitler and have him reared by a nice Jewish family. If we needed proof about just how foolish our politics have become this question being asked, and Bush answering it, is Exhibit A.
 Jesus Christ, yesterday, and today; and the same for ever.  Be not led away with various and strange doctrines. For it is best that the heart be established with grace, not with meats; which have not profited those that walk in them.  We have an altar, whereof they have no power to eat who serve the tabernacle.
Conservatives within the Church had another statement from the Pope as to how he feels about them:
“However, we know that there are many temptations we must resist. I will present you at least two of them. The first is that of Pelagianism, which leads the Church not to be humble, selfless and blessed. … Often it leads us even to assuming a style of control, of hardness, normativity. Rules give to the Pelagian the security of feeling superior, of having a precise orientation. In this it finds its strength, not in the soft breath of the Spirit. Faced with the ills or the problems of the Church, it is useless to seek solutions in conservatism or fundamentalism, in the restoration of outdated forms and conduct that have no capacity for meaning, even culturally. Christian doctrine is not a closed system incapable of generating questions, doubts and uncertainties, but it is living, it knows how to disturb and to encourage. Its face is not rigid, it has a body that moves and develops, it has tender flesh; Christian doctrine is called Jesus Christ”.
“A second temptation is the gnosticism that leads us to place our trust in logical and clear reasoning that, however, loses the tenderness of our brother’s flesh. … The difference between Christian transcendence and any other form of gnostic spiritualism resides in the mystery of the Incarnation. Not putting into practice, not leading the Word to reality, means building on sand, remaining in the pure idea and degenerating into intimisms that do not bear fruit, that render its dynamism sterile”. Continue reading
Out of the focal and foremost fire,
Out of the hospital walls as dire,
Smitten of grape-shot and grangrene,
(Eighteenth battle, and he sixteen!)
Spectre! Such as you seldom see,
Little Giffen, of Tennessee.
“Take him- and welcome!” the surgeons said;
“Little the doctor can help the dead!”
So we took him and brought him where
The balm was sweet in the summer air;
And we laid him down on a wholesome bed-
Utter Lazarus, heel to head!
And we watched the war with abated breath-
Skeleton boy against skeleton death.
Months of torture, how many such!
Weary weeks of the stick and crutch;
And still a glint of the steel-blue eye
Told of a spirit that wouldn’t die.
And didn’t. Nay, more! In death’s despite
The crippled skeleton learned to write.
“Dear Mother,” at first, of course; and then
“Dear Captain,” inquiring about the men.
Captain’s answer: “Of eighty-and-five,
Giffen and I are left alive.”
Word of gloom from the war, one day;
“Johnston pressed at the front, they say.”
Little Giffen was up and away;
A tear-his first-as he bade good-by,
Dimmed the glint of his steel-blue eye.
“I’ll write, if spared!” There was news of the fight;
But none of Giffen. He did not write.
I sometimes fancy that, were I king
Of the princely knights of the Golden Ring,
With the song of the minstrel in mine ear,
And the tender legend that trembles here,
I’d give the best on his bended knee,
The whitest soul of my chivalry,
For Little Giffen, of Tennessee. Continue reading
(I originally ran this post back on Veteran’s Day 2010. I have updated it and am running it again since the passage of time renders it more urgent.)
Time is doing what the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese could not do: vanquishing our World War II generation. The youngest American veteran of that conflict would now be 88, and in the next fifteen years or so they will all be in eternity. Time now to express our heartfelt gratitude for what they accomplished for the country. They have been called the greatest generation. I am sure that most of them would reject that title, maybe putting in a vote for the generation that won the American Revolution or the generation that fought the Civil War. Modesty has been a hallmark of their generation. When I was growing up in the Sixties, most of them were relatively young men in their late thirties or forties. If you asked them about the war they would talk about it but they would rarely bring it up. They took their service for granted as a part of their lives and nothing special. So those of us who knew them often took it for granted too. Uncle Chuck, he works at the Cereal Mills, and, oh yeah, he fought in the Pacific as a Marine. Uncle Bill, he has a great sense of humor and I think he was in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrendered to MacArthur. When they talked about the war it was usually some humorous anecdote, often with some self-deprecating point. They’d talk about some of the sad stuff too, but you could tell that a lot of that was pretty painful for them, so you didn’t press them. They were just husbands and fathers, uncles and cousins. The fact that the janitor at the school won a silver star on Saipan, or the mayor of the town still walked with a limp from being shot on D-Day, was just a normal part of life, like going to school or delivering papers. Continue reading
Pope Francis has a penchant for slinging insults at people who have the temerity to think differently from him. Now you too can berate people just like Pope Francis! Mahound’s Paradise brings us the details:
One of the most annoying things about the Francis pontificate is how the mainstream perception of his personality and style are so at odds with the reality.
Exhibit A is “Who am I to Judge?” Francis is different (so goes the mainstream perception). Unlike most of his predecessors and the vast majority of priests and bishops in the Church’s 2,000 year history, he takes a nonjudgmental, mellow, live-and-let-live attitude. He’s not there to preach from on high about how others are sinners or about how some people are so wrong about this and that or whatever. What a breath of fresh air.
That is of course almost a complete inversion of the truth.
No pope in living memory has been such an inveterate judge, scold, lecturer, niggler and nag. Hardly a homily goes by without a nasty poke at one group or another for not being sufficiently loving or merciful or spiritual or God knows what all else including not putting one’s recyclables in the correctly colored bag. And the target of his nasty but often insipid or weird barbs is usually (though not always) Catholics or Christians.
Even if Francis were a paragon of doctrinal wisdom (which he oh so obviously is not), this would be troubling. His big thing is pastoral care, but no pastor worth his salt consistently insults his flock and makes them feel like schmucks compared to . . . their pastor. In a sane Catholic world Bergoglio would have flunked Pastoral Care 101 and been kicked out of seminary. I guess he could have then pursued his first vocation as a butcher.
A few months ago we wrote about The Pope Francis Little Book of Insults, a creation of the brilliant blogger at The Bones You Have Crushed May Thrill. Now a friendly party has taken those positively Shakespearean darts and put them into a Random Insult Generator. Every insult generated is from a documented Pope Francis homily, address, writing or similar. The citations can be found at The Bones.
To give you the flavor of it, I’m going to use it right now and record the first four results. The results are real and I will not edit them or redo it in any way. Hopefully we’ll get some good ones.
For another insult, refresh the page.
Pickled pepper-faced Christian!
For another insult, refresh the page.
Proud, self-sufficient, detached from the people, intellectual aristocrats, who closed their doors and resist the Holy Spirit!
For another insult, refresh the page.
Pagans with two strokes of Christian paint, so as to appear like Christians, but pagans nonetheless!
There, don’t you feel better? Doesn’t it get the blood going? Oh, heck, let’s do another:
Children! Afraid to dance! To cry! Afraid of everything!
“Gene Wilder and I went to do a film at Arizona State Penitentiary. I was up there six weeks. It was strange, because it was 80% black people, and what’s strange about that is there are no black people in Arizona. I’m not lying, they bus “motherlovers” in. I was up there and looking at all the brothers and it made my heart ache, all these beautiful black men in the joint, g-d d-mn warriors should be out there helping the masses. I felt that way, I was real naive. Six weeks I was up there, and I talk to the brothers, and I talk to ‘em. And thank god we got penitentiaries.
I asked this one, I said, ‘Why did you kill everybody in the house?’ He goes, ‘They was home.’ I mean, murderers. Real live murderers. I thought black people killed people by accident. No, these “motherlovers” was murderers.”
Late Comedian Richard Pryor
Hattip to commenter Nate Winchester who alerted me to this.
As is his wont of the past few years, Mark Shea eagerly has climbed aboard yet another Leftist meme of the moment:
When I contemplate the fact that the Land of the Free has a bigger prison population than Stalin, and I read about such Big Brotherism as this:
“The NIH inventors have developed a mobile health technology to monitor and predict a user’s psychological status and to deliver an automated intervention when needed. The technology uses smartphones to monitor the user’s location and ask questions about psychological status throughout the day. Continuously collected ambulatory psychological data are fused with data on location and responses to questions. The mobile data are combined with geospatial risk maps to quantify exposure to risk and predict a future psychological state. The future predictions are used to warn the user when he or she is at especially high risk of experiencing a negative event that might lead to an unwanted outcome (e.g., lapse to drug use in a recovering addict).”
I’m beginning to think that the American Experiment is winding up as a particularly spectacular display of Truth Cancer, whereby heresy winds up mutating into its diametrical opposite.
America started out as an anti-Catholic Puritan culture advertising itself as free of the legalism of papism. It is bidding fair to end as an apostate Puritan culture obsessed with an all controlling state attempt to legislate everything and jail everybody.
But at least it’s still anti-Catholic.
Go here to read the comments. Shea as usual did not bother to research the statement by Adam Gopnik, that we are jailing more people than were jailed in Stalin’s gulags, in the New Yorker article that he linked to. If he had, he would have quickly realized that although it is a Leftist buzz phrase, it has no foundation in reality. As commenter Nate Winchester noted, before he was banned by Shea, the actual figure is 2.2 million incarcerated rather than six million. At its height Stalin’s gulags had about five million people incarcerated at one time, although this is only a rough estimate and the figure is almost surely higher. Considering the mass murder that was part of the gulags, the exact prison population during a year in Stalin’s workers’ paradise is often reduced to guess work.
The weasel phrase “correctional supervision” probably was included by Gopnik to encompass supervision, conditional discharge and probation in the US. Most people who encounter the criminal justice system in this country never serve a day in jail. Supervision is a sentence where a conviction is stricken if the defendant does not run afoul of the criminal justice system within a certain time period, usually six months to a year. It is used routinely in traffic cases. Conditional discharge is a form of non-reporting probation. Probation often involves people who serve very brief sentences in county jails. About half the people incarcerated in the US are in county jails serving brief terms, usually a few days or weeks and most first offenders, even on low level felonies, never see the inside of a jail.
What is the status of the Pope’s health?
Some people work an entire lifetime and wonder if they ever made a difference to the world. But the Marines don’t have that problem.
President Ronald Reagan, letter to Lance Corporal Joe Hickey, September 23, 1983
On November 10, 1775 the Continental Congress passed this resolution authored by John Adams:
“Resolved, That two battalions of Marines be raised consisting of one colonel, two lieutenant-colonels, two majors, and other officers, as usual in other regiments; that they consist of an equal number of privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken that no persons be appointed to office, or enlisted into said battalions but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve with advantage by sea when required; that they be enlisted and commissioned to serve for and during the present War with Great Britain and the colonies, unless dismissed by order of Congress; that they be distinguished by names of First and Second Battalions of American Marines, and that they be considered as part of the number which the Continental Army before Boston is ordered to consist of.”
At the various birthday celebrations by the Marine Corps today, the song given pride of place will of course be the Marines’ Hymn. The oldest of the official songs of a branch of the US military, the composer of the Marines’ Hymn is unknown, but is thought to have been a Marine serving in Mexico during the Mexican War, hence the “Halls of Montezuma”. The music is taken from the Gendarmes Duet from the Opera Genevieve de Brabant, written by Jacques Offenback in 1859.
Prior to 1929 the first verse used to end:
” Admiration of the nation,
we’re the finest ever seen;
And we glory in the title
Of United States Marines”
which the then Commandant of the Marine Corps changed to the current lines. On November 21, 1942, Commandant Thomas Holcomb approved a change in the words of the first verse’s fourth line from “On the land as on the sea” to “In the air, on land, and sea”.
My favorite rendition of the hymn is in the movie The Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) This film earned John Wayne his first Oscar nomination as best actor. (Broderick Crawford would win for his stunning performance in All The King’s Men.) Wayne was initially reluctant to take the role, partly because he had not fought in World War II, and partly because he saw script problems and didn’t like the character of Sergeant Styker as initially written in the screen play. (There is evidence that Wayne, 34 at the time of Pearl Harbor, and with 3 kids, did attempt to volunteer in 1943 for the Marine Corps with assignment to John Ford’s OSS Field Photographic Unit, but was turned down.) Continue reading
Forty years ago today the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank on November 10, 1975. Launched in 1958, she was then the freighter was the largest ship on the Great Lakes and she remains the largest ship to have sunk on the Lakes. For 17 years she transported taconite iron ore from Duluth to various ports on the Great Lakes.
The Fitzgerald left Superior on November 9, 1975 bound for a steel mill near Detroit. She and a companion ship SS Arthur Anderson were caught the next day on Lake Superior in a very severe storm with near hurricane. The Fitzgerald suddenly sank in 530 feet of water at 7:10 PM, 15 miles from the safety of Whitefish Bay. All 29 members of the crew perished, none of their bodies ever recovered.
The reason for the sinking remains unclear, although I lean towards the theory that some of the cargo hatches were not securely fastened, and that water leaking into the holds imperceptibly led to the sinking once the tipping point was reached.
The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald was written by Gordon Lightfoot after he read a story about the sinking. Continue reading
Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa believes that he knows what the Pope is going to do in regard to Communion for Catholics in adulterous marriages, and it is bad news for those who believe that Christ was not simply running His mouth when he gave his command regarding marriage:
ROME, November 7, 2015 – Last Wednesday, at the weekly catechesis in Saint Peter’s Square, after recalling that the synod fathers have delivered the text of their conclusions to him, Pope Francis limited himself to saying in sibylline language:
“This is not the moment to examine such conclusions, on which I myself must meditate.”
While waiting for the enigma on the pope’s future moves to be unraveled, nothing remains but to rely on an indirect but sure herald of his intentions: the Jesuit Antonio Spadaro with the magazine that he directs, “La Civiltà Cattolica.”
For Pope Francis, Fr. Spadaro is everything. Advisor, interpreter, confidant, scribe. There is no counting the things that he incessantly writes about the pope: books, articles, tweets. Not to mention the papal discourses that show the mark of his hand.
This is why one cannot overlook the account of the synod that Spadaro has written in the latest issue of “La Civiltà Cattolica,” as always printed only after its proofs went through Casa Santa Marta and received the placet of the supreme authority. Continue reading
Back during the 1970s I was in college as an undergraduate. I was unable to hear him consistently, but I always enjoyed Ronald Reagan’s daily three minute radio broadcasts whenever I head them. From 1975-1979 he gave over a 1000 of them and he personally wrote around 700 of them. This was an unusually effective mode of campaigning for President. He became a familiar figure to younger Americans who did not recall his Hollywood days, and honed his thoughts on the issues of the day. Derided as an “amiable dunce” by some of his opponents, Reagan came to the White House as a man with a well developed political philosophy who had thought and written about virtually all the issues he would confront as President. Reagan was far closer to being the mastermind portrayed in the hilarious Saturday Night Live skit linked below than he was to the idiotic actor of the fantasies of most of his political adversaries who stood by helplessly, shocked as he won the Presidency twice and became the most consequential president since Harry Truman. Continue reading
I am so glad that Dale Price is once again regularly blogging at his blog Dyspeptic Mutterings, since my motto has always been to
steal borrow from the best!
A useful short history of the king’s water can be found here.
Since 1965, Catholicism has had its own version of aqua regia, and the Church has been guzzling it. It’s called ecumenism, but it has gone well beyond rational discussion to a positive hysteria–ecumania, if you will. And it appears to have made ecumaniacs of the USCCB, what with their recommendation for expanded intercommunion.
Sounds positively ecumaniacal, in fact. A better dissolver of Catholic teaching you will not find.
Look, those close to me and my handful of devoted readers know I’m a convert from mainline Protestantism. I wasn’t practicing much before I converted. Honestly, if a Religion Detector Monitor had existed and I’d been hooked up to it, it probably would have read “Deist with a healthy measure of appreciation for Christendom and the Bible.”
I like to think that I’ve spent the last sixteen years becoming a somewhat useful disciple of Christ in His Catholic Church. Lord knows, I‘ve had my spiritual bumps on the way, and my worldview has shifted from 1999–in some ways, radically.
And my beloved wife and I have had some less than smooth sailing. We dropped her income when we had our second. And then our third came along–three kids in three calendar years plus 10 days. We’ve been crammed seven of us into 880 square feet with no basement or garage–that back in 2010. My car is older than all our kids. We’ve had other financial turbulence I’d rather not discuss.
Still, discipleship costs. I can accept that.
And then I read that we really need to share the Eucharist with the titular Evangelical Lutherans (as opposed to, say, the evangelical Lutherans in the Missouri Synod–from whom the late Fr. Neuhaus sprang). Despite the fact that, you know, they don’t believe in all that Catholic crap.
Huh. But, apparently, that’s not enough to deny the source and summit of the Christian life, the sacrament of Catholic unity, to members of an ecclesial community which is drifting further away from us in oh-so-many-ways.
The ELCA says that abortion is often a “morally responsible choice.” And while it claims to frown on abortions after “fetal viability,” baby-killing Doctor George Tiller was a member in good standing of the ELCA, as the church website solemnly notes. [And don’t even try to jump into my face suggesting I‘m happy with Tiller’s murder. WRONG.] Yeah–can’t wait to gather around the alt–er, table and sing Kumbaya.
But, we must march ahead. Forward, forward–-always forward, eh, yes? No.
I mean, really–communion with the ELCA immerses Catholic witness in a vat of aqua regia, turning her gold into powder. On what basis do we require anyone to hold to the Catholic faith–much less to be properly disposed–before approaching the altar?
If you have a daughter undergoing first communion prep, why does she have to go to confession before receiving when the Lutherans do not?
Or, more topically: Lutherans remarried after divorce: come on down for this moving ecumenical moment!
Catholics–not so fast! Continue reading
American traitor Benedict Arnold, a 34 year old Connecticut merchant at the beginning of the Revolution, had considerable military ability, as he first demonstrated in his epic march through the Maine wilderness in September-November 1775 on his way to join in a two-pronged attack on Quebec, Brigadier General Richard Montgomery leading the other prong up Lake Champlain. Traveling over 350 wilderness miles, ill-supplied, Arnold’s force of 1100 was reduced to 600 starving men by the time they reached the Saint Lawrence River on November 9, 1775 across from Quebec. It was a miracle that Arnold was able to complete the march with such a sizable force. On November 8, Arnold sent off a report to Washington: Continue reading
A humanitarian is always a hypocrite, and Kipling’s understanding of this is perhaps the central secret of his power to create telling phrases. It would be difficult to hit off the one-eyed pacifism of the English in fewer words than in the phrase, “making mock of uniforms that guard you while you sleep.”
George Orwell, from a review of A Choice of Kipling’s Verse
Bill O’Reilly v. George Will in a battle of wits is akin to a theological debate between Mark Shea and Saint Thomas Aquinas. Will is very full of himself and personifies the phrase “arrogant stuffed shirt” but he does a public service by stating the obvious truth that O’Reilly is the most foolish type of fool: one who thinks he a sage. O’Reilly’s “Killing” books, written I assume by his co-author Martin Dugard, are the worst type of junk history: factually weak, shabbily researched, pedestrian, at best, writing, zero historical context and always, always a conspiratorial slant. They are fit only to serve as kindling.
Dugard sought research advice from former representative Christopher Cox (R-Calif.), who served in Reagan’s White House counsel’s office. Cox put Dugard in touch with former California governor Pete Wilson and several Reagan historians. Wilson and Cox warned that historians’ criticisms could hurt the book’s reception. Then O’Reilly charged on Fox News that Wilson and Cox somehow threatened him, adding gratuitously and falsely that Cox, as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, “presided over the mortgage debacle that collapsed the economy in 2007,” an explanation of the autumn 2008 collapse that is simply weird.
Cox put the book’s publisher in touch with Annelise Anderson, who, with her late husband, Marty, a longtime Reagan adviser, has authored and edited serious books about Reagan. She was offered $5,000 and given just one week to evaluate the manuscript. Having read it, she declined compensation, saying mildly, “I don’t think this manuscript is ready for publication.”
The book’s perfunctory pieties about Reagan’s greatness are inundated by its flood of regurgitated slanders about his supposed lassitude and manipulability. This book is nonsensical history and execrable citizenship, and should come with a warning: “Caution — you are about to enter a no-facts zone.”
From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:
Although “Merchants in the Temple,” by journalist Roberto Nuzzi is due out Thursday, EOTT was able to obtain an advance copy. Its publication comes just days after the Vatican announced the arrests of two high-ranking officials who reportedly spent close to € 157,000 on pogs.
The arrests of the Vatican officials marks a new chapter in what many are calling “Vatileaks,” which began in 2012 and peaked with the conviction of Pope Benedict XVI’s butler on charges he spent upwards of 3.7 million euros on Super Soakers, Tickle Me Elmos, and Slap Bracelets.
After Benedict retired, Francis was elected with a mandate from his fellow cardinals to reform the Vatican bureaucracy and clean up its finances. He set out to create a commission of experts to gather information from all Vatican offices to see where the money was going.
“Holy Father…there is a complete absence of transparency in the bookkeeping both of the Holy See and the Governorate,” five auditors wrote Francis in 2013, according to Nuzzi’s book. “Costs are out of control and it is quite difficult to meet with anyone, due to the fact that many in the Vatican are often too busy playing Candy Crush.”
“Every day I walk the streets of Rome and see the homeless and other citizens of this city,” one anonymous Vatican official told EOTT. “Not on purpose…I mean I’m not trying to see them. I’d rather not see them, but since the homeless and other Romans are there walking, I am often forced to look up so I do not trip, but when I look up, I begin to lose in Clash of Clans. When I lose, I need to spend more money on the app. Since it is typically the fault of a drunk homeless man bumping into me on my way to work, then it should be the homeless man that pays for the in-app purchase. But they have no money, so I simply take it from Peter’s Pence. And like that, we are even. It all makes sense now?” Continue reading