Donald R. McClarey
I sincerely suspect that contemporary liberalism is descending into madness. Either that or people are playing very elaborate practical jokes:
A Nebraska school district has instructed its teachers to stop referring to students by “gendered expressions” such as “boys and girls,” and use “gender inclusive” ones such as “purple penguins” instead.
“Don’t use phrases such as ‘boys and girls,’ ‘you guys,’ ‘ladies and gentlemen,’ and similarly gendered expressions to get kids’ attention,” instructs a training document given to middle-school teachers at the Lincoln Public Schools.
Jonah Goldberg at National Review Online has a great piece explaining why every political issue is a cultural issue:
Anyway, here’s the point I intended to get to much earlier. I’m coming to the position that every issue is a cultural issue. According to the Thomas Frank view, there are two kinds of issues: real issues and cultural (or social) issues. And, if he had his way, all elections would hinge on “real issues.” He writes in What’s the Matter with Kansas: “People getting their fundamental interests wrong is what American political life is all about. This species of derangement is the bedrock of our civic order; it is the foundation on which all else rests.”
This is of course, warmed-over Marxist twaddle. Frank thinks his view of economic interests is the only defensible view and everything else is boob bait for bubbas (Pat Moynihan’s orthodox liberal ad hominem for Clinton’s push for welfare reform) or what the Marxists call “false consciousness.” Much like Lena Dunham’s sex scenes, the list of things that are wrong with this is very long. People vote on the kind of community or country they want to live in, period. That means that taxes are a legitimate issue, but it also means that guns and abortion and free speech are just as legitimate. Liberals implicitly understand this, even if they lie about it routinely in their rhetoric. They are the first to invoke the language of values and right-and-wrong on the issues they care about, whether it is gay marriage or immigration or civil rights. And they are entirely right to do so. Where they are wrong is when they employ the language of “real issues” to dismiss any value-laden arguments that help conservatives win elections. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:
Hollywood, CA–At a press conference today outside his estate in Beverly Hills, acclaimed director Peter Jackson announced his plans to make a 72-film adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion. “It was the next logical step after doing Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit,” Jackson said. “In Lord of the Rings, we took over a thousand pages of novel and adapted it to the big screen in three extremely long films. Then in The Hobbit, we took a children’s book a fraction the length of Lord of the Rings, and also made it into three extremely long films.”
Jackson then unfolded his plan for Tolkien’s The Silmarillion, which begins with a mythological account of the creation of Middle Earth and culminates in the great battles of the Elves during the First Age. “The first film in the series is set to come out in Summer 2016. Then, every two years from 2018 to 2160, the following installment will be released.”
Returning to the original cinematic backgrounds of the Lord of the Rings movies, Jackson made an executive decision to save costs for shooting the outdoor scenes, and had his studio purchase the entire island of New Zealand. “In the long run it will cost us a lot less. Plus, now the citizens of New Zealand are the property of our studio, so we get free labor to build sets.”
Movie buffs and Tolkien nerds alike are ecstatic over the news, and Jackson, as usual, is enjoying the attention, teasing them about the contents of some of the 72 movies they can look forward to. “16 of the movies will be almost exclusively footage of the elven-folk doing various dances, and I don’t want to say much, but The Silmarillion: Part 49 is subtitled Gandalf Smokes his Pipe.” →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Your Highnesses have an Other World here, by which our holy faith can be so greatly advanced and from which such great wealth can be drawn.
Christopher Columbus, letter to Ferdinand and Isabella, 1498
Something for the weekend. With Christopher Columbus day coming up, a trilogy of pieces on Christopher Columbus. From 1936 Fats Waller belting out Christopher Columbus. A jaunty tune whose cheerful historical illiteracy is set forth early in the song with the claim that Columbus did not have a compass:
Mister Christopher Columbus
Sailed the sea without a compass
When his men began a-rumpus,
Up spoke Christopher Columbus!
There’s land somewhere
‘Til we get there
We will not go wrong,
If we sail with a song.
Since the world is round-o
We’ll be safe and sound-o
‘Til our goal is found-o
We’ll just keep rhythm-bound-o
Since the crew was making merry,
Mary got up and went home.
There came a yell for Isabel
And they brought on the rum and Isabel.
No more mutiny, no.
What a time at sea!
Christopher made history.
Mister Christopher Columbus
He used rhythm as a compass.
Music ended all the rumpus,
wise old Christopher Columbus.
(Latch on Christy, yeah! Uh huh! Yes, yes, yes!)
(Well, looky there!
Christy’s grabbed the Santa Maria and he’s going back!
Yeah, ahhh looky-there!
In the year 1492,
Columbus sailed the ocean blue… what’d I say?)
From 1949 the musical score from the technicolor movie Christoher Columbus. The film is forgotten today, which is a pity. While containing a plenitude of the usual historical howlers that period films are ere too, Fredric March gives us a powerful, albeit irascible, portrayal of the Admiral of the Ocean Sea. Definitely worth watching. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Any understanding of this nation has to be based, and I mean really based, on an understanding of the Civil War. I believe that firmly. It defined us. The Revolution did what it did. Our involvement in European wars, beginning with the First World War, did what it did. But the Civil War defined us as what we are and it opened us to being what we became, good and bad things. And it is very necessary, if you are going to understand the American character in the twentieth century, to learn about this enormous catastrophe of the mid-nineteenth century. It was the crossroads of our being, and it was a hell of a crossroads.
An episode of an excellent series on YouTube, the Civil War in Four Minutes, the above video takes a look at the differing interpretations of the War by Americans. The Civil War is, of course, an immense event in American history, perhaps the immense event in American history. Most Americans I think do not understand how huge it is, simply because we think we are familiar with it, and because we are still too close to it in time for us to gain the historical perspective to judge. The many, many differing interepretations of it: a glorious war for human liberty, a valiant defense of States’ Rights, the war against the rebellion, the second American revolution, a needless conflict, etc, often say more about the times when the interpretations are made, than they do the Civil War itself. Almost my entire life I have been studying the conflict. However, the scholarly necromancy that we perform in historical texts can, at best, only put before our eyes pale shadows of what the War was like for the men and women on both sides who lived the triumphs and tragedies of a conflict so vast as to perhaps dwarf all our other historical experiences as a people. Sadly, perhaps this scene from the John Adams miniseries sums up the daunting, if not futile, task of presenting to succeeding generations the reality of an event as historically significant as the Civil War: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Robert Royal at The Catholic Thing tells us that questions about the current pontificate are not restricted to blogs:
I reported on some of the pope’s harshness towards upholders of tradition in yesterday’s Synod Report, an odd homily that might be taken to mean all those over the centuries who had upheld the indissolubility of marriage were somehow authoritarians and self-serving legalists. But the responses to the pope in private – again, beyond the usual conservative suspects and into more neutral, mainstream figures – has been equally tart: “a Latin dictator,” “a Peron,” someone who likes to be center stage in the limelight. And perhaps the most shocking comment of all from more than one person: “His health is bad, so at least this won’t last too long.”
The directives at the start of a meeting like this often betray not where the organizers believe things are going, but where they fear they will not. The pope’s talk about a spirit of openness Monday may fall into that category. There are knowledgeable figures in Rome who believe that if real openness occurs, heads will roll. Some already have.
Then there was Hungarian Cardinal Péter Erdő who, in an opening statement, proposed to take doctrinal questions off the table and deal solely with pastoral questions. That’s a consummation devoutly to be wished, but easier said than done. Many of us remember that Vatican II was a pastoral council, or so we were told. How did so many people get the impression it had also changed doctrine and, in fact, did do so in many Catholic institutions?
It’s important to see all this in perspective. Normally, a bunch of bishops gathering to discuss a handful of well-worked theological matters is of no interest to the world and little interest even to most Catholics. A Catholic journalist said to me just this weekend that he wasn’t much of a “court follower,” meaning he didn’t pay much attention to intrigues within the Vatican. A good attitude – when it comes to petty gossip about who’s in or out, up or down. But as we know from the history of Vatican II, given the modern media environment, what happens in Rome and how it gets reported can affect Catholic life around the globe in incalculable ways. Theologians and moralists may then waste decades that might have been better spent on other subjects just trying to correct simple errors.
“Xavier Rynne” (i.e., Fr. Francis X. Murphy) famously produced a series of polarizing Letters from Rome in The New Yorker during the Council, which virtually created in America what Benedict XVI called the “Council of the Media” as opposed to the real Council, which the young Ratzinger attended, applauded, and help shape. A Church concerned to carry out its proper teaching function today cannot fail to recognize the importance of assuring that its work is perceived as clearly as possible – in an age when every word of a pope, president, prime minister, even sports figures gets merciless scrutiny. Further, social media is everywhere – even the pope takes selfies now, and they get sent around.
All that may be regrettable, but whatever the intention of the primary actors, people inside and outside the Church now believe, given media spin, that questions that were settled and largely known to be such during the past two papacies are now regarded as “open” again. And the unholy conspiracy between the heterodox and media outlets who smell a big story will make sure it’s hard for the Vatican to keep the message focused.
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On October 9, 1864 Sherman was still in pursuit of Hood but he recognized the futility of such operations to protect his railroad supply lines, as he made clear in a telegram to Grant on that date:
It will be a physical impossibility to protect the roads, now that Hood, Forrest, Wheeler, and the whole batch of devils, are turned loose without home or habitation. I think Hood’s movements indicate a diversion to the end of the Selma & Talladega road, at Blue Mountain, about sixty miles southwest of Rome, from which he will threaten Kingston, Bridgeport, and Decatur, Alabama. I propose that we break up the railroad from Ohattanooga forward, and that we strike out with our wagons for Milledgeville, Millen, and Savannah. Until we can repopulate Georgia, it is useless for us to occupy it; but the utter destruction of its roads, houses, and people, will cripple their military resources. By attempting to hold the roads, we will lose a thousand men each month, and will gain no result. I can make this march, and make Georgia howl! We have on hand over eight thousand head of cattle and three million rations of bread, but no corn. We can find plenty of forage in the interior of the State. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Apparently in the Synod some of the participants are concerned about language:
Speaking at this afternoon’s Vatican press briefing on the Synod on the Family English-language spokesman for the Synod, Fr. Thomas Rosica noted there has been much discussion about language in the Synod’s deliberations.
Fr. Rosica explained what he believed to be “one of the salient interventions” of the day, noting that according to the presenter, “language such as ‘living in sin’, ‘intrinsically disordered’, or ‘contraceptive mentality’ are not necessarily words that invite people to draw closer to Christ and the Church.”
“Marriage is already seen by many as being filtered in harsh language in the Church. How do we make that language appealing, and loving and inviting. We’re not speaking about rules or laws we’re speaking about a person who is Jesus who is the source of our faith, the leader of our Church, he is the one who invites us into a mystery.” →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Professor James Hitchcock has an interesting article over at The Catholic World Report on the breakdown of the authority of the Church:
The rejection of Humanae Vitae, and everything that followed, in a perverse way proved the success of the new religious education. In numerous ways—classroom instruction, sermons, retreats, publications—Catholics after Vatican II were told to follow their own inclinations on moral issues, that docility towards Church teaching was actually a betrayal of faith. In short, “reformers” discovered how easy it was to make water run down hill, to give the faithful permission to take the line of least resistance.
The reformist Catholic program now came simply to be equated with the secular liberal program. To Catholic liberals there remained two unresolved moral issues—war and poverty – but many Catholics remained “super-patriots” and bishops were condemned for not condemning the Vietnam War. Collectively the bishops supported the War on Poverty, but many lay Catholics started voting Republican.
Fidelity to Catholic social teaching required a synthesis of what came to be conflicting liberal and conservative positions—the welfare state on the on the hand and the pro-life and pro-family movements on the other. The Democratic Party, in which Catholics had for so long been a major force, was the natural agency for working out such a synthesis. Instead prominent Catholic Democrats, almost without exception, readily accepted the secular liberal agenda and pro-life, and pro-family Catholics gravitated towards the Republican Party, which had previously not attracted them.
Liberal Catholics emphasize the “lived experience” of the laity as a check on formal Catholic doctrine, a check that has, supposedly, demonstrated the rightness of contraception, homosexuality, and other things. Catholics today, it is claimed, are highly educated and can follow their own well-formed consciences.
But this is applied to sexual morality only. Businessmen who believe in the free market, for example, or soldiers who believe in the righteousness of the wars they fight, are accused of placing their own “lived experience” above the teachings of the Church. They are in effect guilty of heresy. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
(I am finally going to be completing this series of posts that I began in 2010. In preparation for that, I am reposting these articles in their order of appearance. They will appear once a week on Wednesdays.)
In this series of posts I intend to give rants against trends that have developed in society since the days of my youth, the halcyon days of the seventies, when leisure suits and disco were sure signs that society was ready to be engulfed in a tide of ignorance, bad taste and general buffoonery.
We will start off the series with a look at seven developments that I view as intensely annoying and proof that many people lack the sense that God granted a goose. I like to refer to these as The Seven Hamsters of the Apocalypse, minor evils that collectively illustrate a society that has entered a slough of extreme stupidity. Each of the Seven Hamsters will have a separate post. The first of the Hamsters is the Tattooed Vermin.
Well if this is a sample of the glop being served up at the Synod, God help us all:
One of the six couples chosen to participate in the Vatican’s Synod on the Family had some rather controversial advice for the gathered leaders of the Catholic Church. Ron and Mavis Pirola, co-directors of the Australian Catholic Marriage and Family Council, spoke this afternoon to the 191 synod fathers. The text of their address was released today by the Vatican press office.
The Pirolas suggested as an example of “upholding the truth while expressing compassion and mercy” the Church should follow the example of their friends. “Take homosexuality as an example. Friends of ours were planning their Christmas family gathering when their gay son said he wanted to bring his partner home too,” they said.
“They fully believed in the Church’s teachings and they knew their grandchildren would see them welcome the son and his partner into the family,” added the Pirolas. “Their response could be summed up in three words, ‘He is our son’.”
The Pirolas concluded their instruction to the bishops regarding homosexuality, saying, “What a model of evangelization for parishes as they respond to similar situations in their neighbourhood! It is a practical example of what the Instrumentum laboris says concerning the Church’s teaching role and its main mission to let the world know of God’s love.”
The example of the ready acceptance of a son and his homosexual lover to a gathering where the grandchildren would welcome them into the family is not an example of love or mercy at all. It is in fact a capitulation to sentiment at the expense of both the child and the grandchildren. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
The Left isn’t having kids, so they insist on stealing yours.
Kevin Williamson at National Review Online looks at the brazen attempt in Connecticut, go here to read my take on it, to use the Sandy Hook massacre to increase regulation of homeschooling.
Home-schoolers represent the only authentically radical social movement in the United States (Occupy Wall Street was a fashion statement) and so they must be suppressed, as a malevolent committee of leftist academics and union bosses under the direction of Governor Dannel Malloy is preparing to do in Connecticut, using the Sandy Hook massacre as a pretext. The ghouls invariably rush to the podium after every school massacre, issuing their insipid press releases before the bodies have even cooled, and normally they’re after your guns. But the Malloy gang is after your children.
Malloy’s committee on the Newtown shootings is recommending that Connecticut require home-schooling families to present their children to the local authorities periodically for inspection, to see to it that their psychological and social growth is proceeding in the desired direction. For anybody even passingly familiar with contemporary government schools, which are themselves a peerless source of social and emotional dysfunction, this development is bitterly ironic.
Adam Lanza was the product of madness, but he also was very much a product of the public schools and their allied institutions. He was briefly — very briefly — homeschooled after his parents had exhausted every other option. His mental troubles began long before he was home-schooled and were in fact well known to and documented by the various credentialed authorities under whose management he spent his youth, from his kindergarten therapists to the scholars at Yale’s Child Study Center. Far from being removed from the public system, Lanza was still attending student club meetings at Newtown’s high school just before the horrific events at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
As City Journal notes, the Malloy gang says that Lanza’s educational and medical records support its proposals, which is curious: Its members have no access to those records. But a government commission says that it is so, so it must be so.
If you have not followed the issue closely, it is probably impossible for you to understand how intensely the Left and the government-school monopoly hate, loathe, and distrust home-schooling and home-school families. Purportedly serious scholars such as Robin West of Georgetown denounce them as trailer trash living “on tarps in fields or parking lots” and write wistfully of the day when home-schooling was properly understood: “Parents who did so were criminals, and their kids were truants.” The implicit rationale for the heavy regulation of home-schooling — that your children are yours only at the sufferance of the state — is creepy enough; in fact, it is unambiguously totalitarian and reduces children to the status of chattel. That this is now being framed in mental-health terms, under the theory that Lanza might not have committed his crimes if he had had the benefit of the tender attentions of his local school authorities, is yet another reminder of the Left’s long and grotesque history of using corrupt psychiatry as a tool of politics.
But take a moment to fully appreciate the absurdity of the Malloy gang’s assumption. Our public schools are dysfunctional, depressing, frequently dangerous places. Their architecture is generally penal, incorporating precisely the same sort of perimeter control as one sees in a low-security prison, with dogs, metal detectors, and the whole apparatus of control at hand. They are frequently run by nakedly corrupt, self-serving men and women who are not above rigging test scores to pad out their bonuses and who will fight to the end to keep pedophiles on the payroll if doing so serves their political interests, as in the case of California. They cannot even keep their teachers from raping their students, but they feel competent issuing orders that every family present its children for regular inspection in the name of the children’s “social and emotional learning needs.” →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Pope Francis has given good counsel to the participants in the Synod:
Pope Francis has said Catholics must speak their minds and not be afraid to offend him, during his address to the opening session of the family synod at the Vatican this morning.
Speaking to the gathered bishops he said the faithful must not keep things back just because they might be worried “what will the Pope think”, according to Catholic News Service.
“Speak clearly. Don’t tell anyone, ‘you can’t say that’,” he added.
Pope Francis went on to say that “the spirit of collegiality is to speak boldly and to listen with humility” and he also welcomed the lay men and women present at the synod. “You enrich our spirit of synodality,” he told them. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
On October 7, 1571 the forces of the Holy League under Don Juan of Austria, illegitimate half brother of Philip II, in an ever-lasting tribute to Italian and Spanish courage and seamanship, smashed the Turkish fleet. This was the turning point in the centuries-long struggle between the Christian West and the forces of the Ottoman Empire over the Mediterranean. The Holy League had been the work of Pope Saint Pius V, who miraculously saw the victory in Rome on the day of the battle, and he proclaimed the feast day of Our Lady of Victory to whom he attributed the victory.
For a good overview of the battle of Lepanto read this review by Victor Davis Hanson here of The Victory of the West: The Great Christian-Muslim Clash at the Battle of Lepanto by Niccolò Capponi.
Before the battle Don John of Austria went about the ships of his fleet and said this to his crews: ‘My children, we are here to conquer or die. In death or in victory, you will win immortality.’ The chaplains of the fleet preached sermons on the theme: “No Heaven For Cowards”. Many of the men were clutching rosaries just before the battle. Admiral Andrea Doria went into the fight with an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe aboard his ship. Back in Europe countless Catholics were praying rosaries at the request of Saint Pope Pius V for the success of the Christian fleet.
At the hour of the battle, and this fact is very well attested, the Pope was talking to some cardinals in Rome. He abruptly ceased the conversation, opened a window and looked heavenward. He then turned to the cardinals and said: “It is not now a time to talk any more upon business; but to give thanks to God for the victory he has granted to the arms of the Christians.” So that Catholics would never forget Lepanto and the intercession of Mary, he instituted the feast of Our Lady of Victory. To aid in this remembrance G. K. Chesterton in 1911 wrote his epic poem Lepanto:
At the same time, the candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the Government upon vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made in ordinary litigation between parties in personal actions the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their Government into the hands of that eminent tribunal.
Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address
God bless the Federal judiciary! After having such a smashing success in “resolving” the abortion issue by legalizing it, they have “resolved” the gay marriage debate by mandating it. Senator Ted Cruz (R.Tx.) is having none of it:
The Supreme Court’s decision to let rulings by lower court judges stand that redefine marriage is both tragic and indefensible. By refusing to rule if the States can define marriage, the Supreme Court is abdicating its duty to uphold the Constitution. The fact that the Supreme Court Justices, without providing any explanation whatsoever, have permitted lower courts to strike down so many state marriage laws is astonishing.
This is judicial activism at its worst. The Constitution entrusts state legislatures, elected by the People, to define marriage consistent with the values and mores of their citizens. Unelected judges should not be imposing their policy preferences to subvert the considered judgments of democratically elected legislatures.
The Supreme Court is, de facto, applying an extremely broad interpretation to the 14th Amendment without saying a word – an action that is likely to have far-reaching consequences. Because of the Court’s decision today, 11 States will likely now be forced to legalize same-sex marriage: Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Utah, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming. And this action paves the way for laws prohibiting same-sex marriage to be overturned in any state.
It is beyond dispute that when the 14th Amendment was adopted 146 years ago, as a necessary post-Civil War era reform, it was not imagined to also mandate same-sex marriage, but that is what the Supreme Court is implying today. The Court is making the preposterous assumption that the People of the United States somehow silently redefined marriage in 1868 when they ratified the 14th Amendment.
Nothing in the text, logic, structure, or original understanding of the 14th Amendment or any other constitutional provision authorizes judges to redefine marriage for the Nation. It is for the elected representatives of the People to make the laws of marriage, acting on the basis of their own constitutional authority, and protecting it, if necessary, from usurpation by the courts.
Marriage is a question for the States. That is why I have introduced legislation, S. 2024, to protect the authority of state legislatures to define marriage. And that is why, when Congress returns to session, I will be introducing a constitutional amendment to prevent the federal government or the courts from attacking or striking down state marriage laws.
Traditional marriage is an institution whose integrity and vitality are critical to the health of any society. We should remain faithful to our moral heritage and never hesitate to defend it. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading