At the Catholic Herald today comes an important story offering an overview of the Muslim Brotherhood’s activities in Egypt and the plight of Christians who are now suffering greatly in the aftermath of the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.
Further political success may come the Muslim Brotherhood’s way. The interim military government which followed Mubarak has announced parliamentary elections in September and presidential elections two months later. Reflecting on the potentially huge political changes to come, one bishop told us: “Under Mubarak the Muslim Brothers were under Gestapo control; they were underground. Now they are very visible. They may get up to half the seats in the next election. This is a great concern for us. There was a strong message awaiting us when we met Coptic Catholic Patriarch Cardinal Antonios Naguib in his office in Cairo. A gentle, self-effacing man, Patriarch Naguib wasted no time in saying: “Now is the moment to really participate in the evolution of society. What matters is to have confidence in our beliefs and to have the strength to express our message.”
Be sure to read the whole thing. Regular readers at my blog know that I’ve tried to keep abreast of the situation in Egypt even since long before the ousting of Mubarak. I consider the article to be an accurate accounting of what is happening there, from a Christian perspective. If you read only one article on Egypt, read the article at Catholic Herald.
Remember that President Obama and the mainstream media supported the ousting of Mubarak while conservatives in America (notably, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton) expressed serious concerns since Mubarak was successfully holding the Muslim Brotherhood at bay. In Five Revolutions Backed by George Soros, in February, I expressed misgivings about Soros funding of the revolution. Egyptian Christians have expressed some mild disdain for such criticisms, but as things become more and more bloody there, perhaps those critics have changed their minds.
At FrontPageMag, for your consideration: The Muslim Brotherhood’s Penetration of the Obama Administration.
Below is the latest news about the Muslim Brotherhood from around the web. Be aware that opinions in these links are very diverse and may or may not be entirely accurate portrayals of what is occurring with the Muslim Brotherhood. Please use good judgment.
On Twitter, follow @Nefrette (Nefrette Halim) and @CopticNews for updates on the plight of Christians in Egypt. On Facebook, my friend David Nageh does a good job sharing updates from the perspective of a Christian in Egypt.
Many thanks to the Catholic Herald for their excellent reporting on Egypt’s Christians.
Would you like to know where Republican candidates for President stand on the issue of preserving traditional marriage? Here they are, in their own words, in alphabetical order. Only those candidates and potential candidates who could be found expressing their position on video are included. If you find video for others not included here, send me an email and I will add them as an update.
Suggested things to look for include:
1) Whether or not the candidate is expressing a position that is in keeping with Catholic teaching on this issue.
2) Whether or not you believe the candidate is comfortable defending his/her position.
3) Whether or not you believe the candidate has an eloquent and convincing message.
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann:
Businessman Herman Cain:
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie:
Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman:
Congressman Ron Paul:
Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty:
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney:
Former Senator Rick Santorum:
Vice President Joe Biden was in Rome today to mark the 150th anniversary of Italy’s unification. While there, he met privately with Pope Benedict XVI. Biden is a Mass-attending Catholic who supports “abortion rights”. Many of the Catholic faithful have called for his excommunication due to his support for abortion. No official announcement has been made, as of this writing, in regard to this visit.
In February, 2009, pro-abortion Congresswoman and then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met privately with Pope Benedict XVI. The Vatican issued a statement afterward that was widely considered to be a scolding.
“His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in co-operation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development.”
Official announcements from the Vatican are available at the Vatican Information Service blog.
The latest from Chicago:
From WLS, Chicago:
Father Michael Pfleger celebrated his 62nd birthday Sunday as well as his first mass since being reinstated as pastor of Saint Sabina Catholic Church.
Father Pfleger apologized to his congregation for the unsettled period over the past three weeks during his suspension, but he expressed his gratitude to Francis Cardinal George and encouraged parishioners to do the same.
The cardinal suspended Pfleger following comments Pfleger made about leaving the church rather than being removed from Saint Sabina.
Pfleger today said that his words were misinterpreted.
I have personally spoken to four members of St. Sabina parish and have found them to be sincere, caring people who love Jesus…but who have not really been taught the Catholic Faith, particularly the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. I do not think it is fair to refer to the parishioners as “disobedient” or “dissenting”. It has become clear to me that, though Fr. Pfleger has done much good in the community, particularly for young people, his failure to instruct his flock in core teachings of the Faith has resulted in the fullness of the Faith being hidden from them, something that can only be detrimental to their spiritual lives, not beneficial.
As always, I ask for prayers for the members of St. Sabina parish, for Fr. Pfleger, and for Cardinal George. Let us pray for the return of this prodigal son who has taken a positive step in reflecting a sense of obedience to Holy Mother Church. All things are possible with God.
Apparently there is a big flap between Rick Santorum and John McCain on the issue of waterboarding (enhanced interrogation) which was used to gain the cooperation of Khalid Sheik Mohammed — cooperation that led to his giving information which enabled our forces to find Osama Bin Laden.
Read “The Waterboarding Trail to Bin Laden: Former CIA Director Michael Hayden said that as late as 2006 fully half of the government’s knowledge about the structure and activities of al Qaeda came from harsh interrogations”
I have been back and forth on the waterboarding issue, but I have come to the conclusion that this whole thing is being blown out of proportion due to a lack of understanding of what waterboarding is. Today, Mark Shea, who I love and respect, is engaging in some brutal ad hominem against Rick Santorum. So who is right and who is wrong here? Let’s take a step back, a deep breath, and consider the facts.
Is waterboarding “torture”? I would agree with these remarks below from Fr. Brian Harrison at Catholic Culture:
Even deciding what exactly we mean by torture is not easy. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes it as “physical or moral violence” (CCC 2297); the definition given by the 1984 United Nations Convention on Torture is “the intentional infliction of severe pain.” The words violence and severe are themselves somewhat vague. Who draws the line — and where? — as to which specific practices are harsh enough to correspond to those words? What has become clear in the contemporary debate is that while many shudder-evoking practices (which needn’t be spelled out here) are recognized by everyone as meriting the name torture, there is no consensus about whether other less extreme interrogation techniques really count as torture: for instance, sleep deprivation, being kept under harsh temperatures or in uncomfortable positions, or “waterboarding” (which causes a brief, panic-inducing sensation of being about to drown but no pain or injury). Since no Catholic magisterial intervention so far offers any real guidance for resolving this controversy, the only methods we can be sure are included under “torture,” when that word appears in Church documents, are those in the former group.
“Inducing panic”, such as we find in waterboarding, is not “torture”. Considering that it is not torture in the first place, all other points appear to be moot.
Rick Santorum responded on the Mark Levin Show yesterday to the false claims that he endorses the use of torture. (CLICK HERE to watch video at The Right Scoop to hear his remarks.)
Again, I’ve been back and forth on the issue, because I did not understand fully what waterboarding is and how the Church defines “torture”. Now, I know. It’s not torture and it did gain information necessary to capture Osama Bin Laden. It was not used to force anyone to confess a crime but to gain information. The intent was to defend life and the action was not torture. Case closed.
Related at Catholic Online: Silence on Santorum is Deafening: Republican Establishment Sends Signals
Related at WMUR, New Hampshire: Conversation with the Candidate, Rick Santorum
The Catholic Church has, for two millenia, in keeping with the Incarnation, defended the dignity of all human beings. One example of this is the Papal Bull issued by Pope Paul III in 1537, Sublimus Dei, regarding the “enslavement and evangelization of Indians“.
The enemy of the human race, who opposes all good deeds in order to bring men to destruction, beholding and envying this, invented a means never before heard of, by which he might hinder the preaching of God’s word of Salvation to the people: he inspired his satellites who, to please him, have not hesitated to publish abroad that the Indians of the West and the South, and other people of whom We have recent knowledge should be treated as dumb brutes created for our service, pretending that they are incapable of receiving the Catholic Faith.
We, who, though unworthy, exercise on earth the power of our Lord and seek with all our might to bring those sheep of His flock who are outside into the fold committed to our charge, consider, however, that the Indians are truly men and that they are not only capable of understanding the Catholic Faith but, according to our information, they desire exceedingly to receive it. Desiring to provide ample remedy for these evils, We define and declare by these Our letters, or by any translation thereof signed by any notary public and sealed with the seal of any ecclesiastical dignitary, to which the same credit shall be given as to the originals, that, notwithstanding whatever may have been or may be said to the contrary, the said Indians and all other people who may later be discovered by Christians, are by no means to be deprived of their liberty or the possession of their property, even though they be outside the faith of Jesus Christ; and that they may and should, freely and legitimately, enjoy their liberty and the possession of their property; nor should they be in any way enslaved; should the contrary happen, it shall be null and have no effect.
This is an inconvenient truth for those who would have us believe that Christopher Columbus’ Catholicism had something to do with the mistreatment of Native Americans after the arrival of Europeans to North America. Indeed, though men may fail, the teachings of the Church never have, never do, and never will.
Just as the Church defended Native Americans 474 years ago this month (May 29, 1537), so today the Catholic Church continues to defend — through Her very clear teaching — the most vulnerable of all, the unborn child. Just as in the time of Sublimus Dei there were Catholics who protested the Church’s guidance, so today there are Catholics who deny the humanity and dignity of the innocent unborn child.
Most, if not all, Americans today understand the evil of slavery precisely because of the good work of Christendom, but most particularly the Catholic Church which stands as a visible beacon to the world. Satan devises his manner, but the Light continues to shine. So it is that I have hope that some day, Americans will look back upon this time as the brutal age of abortion, and Catholic politicians who did not stand against it will have the most shameful place of all in the annals of history.
Spanish American philosopher George Santayana once noted, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Fallen man will make essentially the same mistakes that his forbears have made unless he learns from the lessons of history. For this reason, the study of political and philosophical history is essential to understanding current political theory in order to ensure that dangerous philosophies — those which threaten the inalienable rights of human persons — may be identified and rejected through reasoned, free and informed debate before their dangers become brutal reality. People educated in the lessons of history are people wise enough to reject its horrors. So it is that I have come to understand the necessity of learning more about Marxism in light of the current administration’s political machinations which seem to be, on some level, inspired by it.
Main Currents of Marxism: The Founders – The Golden Age – The Breakdown by Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski is widely hailed as the definitive work on the subject and his book is credited with “laying some of the paving stones that would eventually lead to the Solidarity movement”, a movement which itself led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. As I read through this volume, which is actually three books in one, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on what I am learning from it. This will be part one in a series and covers the introduction.
Avoiding subjective presumptions.
Kolakowski outlines the reasoning behind the methods he uses to offer an accurate history of Marxism. He immediately mentions the German philosopher Karl Marx and notes that the very fact that Marx was German may, in and of itself, invoke in the reader certain presumptions about his philosophy. When we make an assessment about something, we always bring our subjective experiences to the table with us. One might be familiar with the differerent schools of thought in the world and presume that Marx, because he was German, held a philosophy somewhat consistent with the German philosophers most commonly known at the time in which the reader is living. Subjective presumptions like this often get in the way of finding out the truth about something. I recall once hearing a teacher tell her class in Kentucky that she had moved from Pennsylvania and was surprised when she got to Kentucky that there were not many people running around barefoot. Reality is very often completely inconsistent with what we presume must be true. Kolakowski sets out to answer questions about the Communism of his day by studying the history of Marxism with a determination not to let subjective presumption get in the way.
Things rarely occur in real life exactly as written on paper.
Kolakowski notes the difficulty in his endeavor being primarily that one cannot precisely connect the dots between the words of a particular philosophy on paper and a social movement of people who follow that particular tradition and thereby prove that one absolutely beget the other with no other factors having impact. As a Catholic, I see this dynamic in the Church which defines through theMagisterium what is believed by Catholics to be absolute dogma leading us to the highest good while, due to man’s fallen nature, the highest good is never fully manifest among her members as a whole. There are Catholic saints alongside those who betray the doctrine through various levels of dissent. So it is with any philosophy, even if the philosophy ostensibly guides a large number of people. The historian should do his work with the understanding that what Marx wrote on paper should not necessarily be presumed to be exactly what Communism became as a social movement of living, breathing people. So it is that we cannot reasonably indict Karl Marx alone for Communism, nor say that Communism is fully Marxist, to the absolute exclusion of everything else. Kolakowski argues that the social movement itself, though it may represent itself as the body of true keepers of a given ideology, is generally quite stronger than the ideology itself.
The particular rallying point of any movement is one key to understanding it.
All movements have their rallying point. For the current Tea Party movement, which is decidedly anti-Marxist, the rallying point is widely credited to the February 19, 2009, plea by Rick Santelli from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Though this came decades after Kolakowski penned “Main Currents of Marxism“, his claim that other factors cause social movements to evolve over time is ringing true in the Tea Party movement now, less than three years after the rallying point. It is because of this inevitable evolution that we find it difficult to delineate with accuracy what ideals make one a “true” Tea Party “patriot” or “representative”. This same difficulty faces Kolakowski in his examination of Marxism, and he argues that for any “historian of ideas”, the correct question on this matter should be to find out what ideas caused the rallying point in the first place.
No single, flawed human being can represent the epitome of a philosophy.
Kolakowski offers an important caution, that it is a fruitless endeavor, at least in the context of historical analysis, to insist that only those who hold to the particular idea(s) that launched the rallying point are the “true” representatives of the movement. A president may be “Marxist”. He may even be a “true” Marxist, but at the same time disagree on key issues with other “true” Marxists. The leader of the movement does not necessarily precisely define the movement or the ideology, nor vice versa. Further, there may be different groups which carry the banner of “Marxist” (or “Tea Party”, or “Progressive”, as the case may be), and movements may change from generation to generation. These are all difficulties for historians of philosophy. The primary reason for this point is to explain that while a study of the history of a philosophy entails the study of the ideas of individuals who clearly, on some level, hold forth that philosophy, this process of discovery is misused if it is given as reason to classify certain individuals as being absolutely “true” or absolutely “false” representatives of that philosophy. Certainly, people have their loyalities to particular political leaders, and fallen man will seek to put a brand name on his hero or his opponent in order that others may be encouraged to follow, or reject, that leader. We see this phenomenon at times in the Tea Party movement with the debate on who leads the movement and with the Left’s attempt to smear the brand “Tea Party” in order to discredit its leaders. Such debates, inevitable due to man’s human nature, are reflections of the very same difficulties Kolakowski describes as being problematic during his Communist-era historical study of Marxism.
The role of culture in the development of philosophy.
Culture plays a significant role in the development of philosophy, and Kolakowski describes his view of the role of culture as being similar to that of the German writer Thomas Mann. Mann did not seek to absolve German culture of the evils of Nazism. Rather, he approached the question by seeking to find those aspects of German culture which allowed Nazism to take root. Though Mann was, as a citizen of Germany, a part of the very same German culture he studied, he did not seek to protect Germany from learning hard truths about the culture which may or may not have facilitated the horrors of fascism. The very clear influence of Nietzsche did not, after all, occur within a vacuum. Again, we see this point about culture holding true in America today with the Tea Party laying claim to the hallmarks of American civilization in the use of imagery of the Founding Fathers, the American flag, the American Bald Eagle, etc.. This cultural imagery represents America’s historic opposition to totalitarianism. Meanwhile, as the far left rejects the idea that one culture is better than another, there is backlash against the use of American imagery and, often, the propogation of Islam in an attempt to establish it as a major cultural component of our national identity. An interesting question to pose might be whether or not the “multi-cultural” far left in America has a culture itself and, if so, what does that culture look like? Also, is there, as with a power vacuum, a danger in having a “cultural vacuum”?
Limitations regarding the flow of information.
There are practical limitations in studying the history of Marxism specifically. Among them is the fact that so many of Marx’s works were not even in print until the Communist Revolution had already taken place, though they were later considered by Communists to be essential works. Fortunately, in this age of more advanced technology, it is far easier to offer for mass distribution the writings of college student Obama, community organizer Obama, or Senator Obama so that the public might examine trends in his thinking and whether or not those trends are the source of his current policies as president. Unfortunately, this did not happen. Another difficulty is that Marx addressed multiple fields — “basic philosophic anthropology, socialist doctrine, and economic analysis” — and that varities of opinions abound, not only on the particular division of fields, but also on the question of how (and whether) they are related. We see this same difficulty in our examination of the far left in America as a movement made up of various dimensions including radical environmentalism, multiculturalism, anti-capitalism, etc. Despite this variety of “talent” and goals, it is still possible to assess similarities in thinking which are common threads in the philosophy.
The role of tradition.
We will always find, even in the anti-tradition Left, a certain level of adherence to traditional thinking. Though the “democrat” may reject the idea that tradition is worthy of our consideration, surely he points to figures from tradition, like the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Abraham Lincoln (both of whom were Republicans) and claims them as forbears.
Catholic philosopher G.K. Chesterton wrote on the topic of “democrats” and their rejection of tradition:
Tradition may be defined as an extension of the franchise. Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our father. I, at any rate, cannot separate the two ideas of democracy and tradition; it seems evident to me that they are the same idea. We will have the dead at our councils.
Surely, the Communist regime had the deceased Karl Marx at their “councils” in the form of adherence to his ideas. So, too, we may endeavor through the research of common threads to see if Karl Marx is similary seated at the table with President Obama’s Cabinet.
The impossible goal of Utopia.
Considering the many challenges involved in the analysis of a philosophy, Kolakowski resolves to focus his efforts “on the question which appears at all times to have occupied a central place in Marx’s independent thinking…” which is the question of how one can possibly adopt a utopian ideal when there exist so many variables that contribute to what is, in reality, an inevitable diversity of opinions and of outcomes. There is a further difficulty, as well, that Kolakowski points out. Marxists believe that history has “progressed”, and will continue in a “progressive” manner, in stages of class warfare, with the end result being “true” socialism. I am reminded of a quote from our progressive President Obama which he borrowed from Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:
“Dr. King once said that the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice.”
The “bending arc” toward “justice” is one way of describing Marxist thought about history’s “progressive” stages toward socialism. Unfortunately for us, the “moral universe” of Marx rejects both tradition and natural law, finding its basis in economics and class warfare, unlike Dr. King’s “moral universe”. King said that law not rooted in natural law is unjust. Dr. King himself borrowed his quote on the arc of the moral universe from Theodore Parker, who inspired Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and was a proud grandson of Captain John Parker, American Revolutionary leader at the Battle of Lexington and Concord. Perhaps the historians of the future can sort out the reasons why a progressive would use a quote about justice from a Christian preacher who stood firm on the justice of natural law. Was President Obama’s quote an act of preserving or usurping traditional values? I would argue that it is an usurpation.
Indeed, values and philosophies are carried on from generation to generation, from sea to shining sea and beyond. Some preserve while others usurp. I look forward to reading more of “Main Currents of Marxism” and sharing my thoughts with you as I delve deeper into the history of Marxism.
Archbishop Timothy Dolan, a bishop I have admired most of all for the heroic effort he has put into encouraging priestly vocations, has an excellent article on his blog reminding us of a reality we should have learned in the last two millenia:
Popes, cardinals, bishops, priests, deacons, nuns, brothers are human.
That means, we are sinners.
Yes, religious people are people….and people sin.
He goes on.
Our faith is not in popes, cardinals, bishops, priests, or even in monsignors. Nope: our faith is only in Jesus. He and He alone will never let us down; He will never sin; He and He alone will never break a promise; He and He alone deserves our absolute trust and confidence.
That’s why it’s especially tragic when someone leaves Jesus and His Church because of a sin, scandal, or slight from a priest or bishop. If your faith depended on us, it was misplaced to begin with. We priests and bishops might represent Jesus and shepherd His Church, however awkwardly — but we are not Jesus and His Church.
I think I should share a bit about my story as a convert in order to help expand on his points. I never really knew Jesus growing up. My parents were protestant and, being big believers in the protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura, made sure that I had a Bible in my hands and expected that I would figure it out. I had a problem accepting Jesus in the manner that my parents had, though. I could not get past John 6:
The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.”
Mind you, many people will believe as those who quarreled, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” In order to both ask that question and persist in asking it, you have to posses in your mind an unbending idea that it is an impossible thing. That belief that it is impossible is what protestants have not, and possibly cannot, overcome. It is those who continue to believe that it is an impossible thing who continue to reject what Jesus said in reply to their objection.
As a fifteen-year-old daughter of protestants, I understood what He was saying, and I understood many of the supporting parallels throughout Scripture, on some level. I had no problem believing that it “could” be possible. After all, God is the Creator of all flesh. I understood on a very basic level “why” He would ask us to believe this very incredible thing in order to have eternal life. The only thing I did not know was “how” He could do it. I knew of no church that taught such a thing. For this reason, I could not accept that Jesus was the Son of God…..just yet. I made a promise to God the Father, if you will show me “how” this is possible, I will believe that Jesus is Your Son, join that church, and follow Him always.
It was in 1982 that I made that promise to God. I was very sincere, but I was apparently not ready yet because it was not until Ash Wednesday, 1991, that God finally showed me “how”. The first time I ever attended a Catholic Mass (apart from the funeral of one of my parents’ friends when I was a small child), I witnessed the Holy Mass and knew “how” Jesus made possible what He commands in John 6. I had found God, at last, after a life of what might be called a sort of agnosticism. My joy was immense, and remains to this day, but especially at Holy Mass.
And nothing the priest says in his homily, and no sin that any priest anywhere commits, can take away from that joy.
It is for this reason that, for the life of me, I cannot even get my mind around why there is a propensity on the part of so many to act as if the whole world is crumbling because priests and bishops are sinners….or who act as if the Church is evil because some priests have sinned. Jesus is in the tabernacle: Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.
When people protest due to the sins of some priest somewhere in the world, I always think of the words of St. Peter, the first Pope:
From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
Jesus is present in the tabernacles of Catholic churches (and only Catholic churches) worldwide. When I hear someone speak of leaving Him, it is what St. Peter must have felt in that moment that I feel. Simply dumb-founded.
Read Archbishop Timothy Dolan’s article: A Blessed Holy Week
In the course of my meanderings around the political blogosphere for well over two years, I’ve sought to offer up a Catholic perspective on the issues of the day. As I look interiorly during this Lenten season, I am seeing myself a bit differently than I expected to. What I expected to see in this opportunity to reassess my spiritual life, was a soul in bit of disrepair, still on the right track, but needing a simple nudge to be able to surge onward with more Christian vigor than before — to be better equipped to win the battle (intellectual battle, that is) in the year ahead. Instead, I see a soul that is careening forward as mightily as before, but that has switched tracks altogether.
We live in troubling times. The threat of economic disaster looms. The culture has become more and more corrupt. Christian persecution is rising on a global scale, ranging from pressures on youth in American classrooms to outright slaughter in the Middle East. These manifestations of the world groaning in labor pains can be intense, particularly for a political blogger whose job it is to read the headlines and the stories about injustice day in and day out. This Lent, I see the toll that it has taken on my own soul. It has become clear to me that I am spending far too much time on making intellectual arguments to win the great debates of our time, but not nearly enough time practicing kindness and sharing the Love of Jesus Christ with others.
As Catholics, we have a great blessing in being given the Truth….and not only the Truth, but the Fullness of the Truth. How often I have forgotten that the Fullness of the Truth includes Love, not merely the ability to Reason rightly in accordance with the precepts of our Faith. It is not enough to merely know the Truth intellectually. We must also Live the Truth so that we may bring others to the Light of His Eternal Love. These intellectual battles will always exist, in every age, but the main battle that we should be concerned with is the one within ourselves and in how we treat each other as fellow human beings.
The Church is called to continue Christ’s work on earth, leading those whose hearts are open to her mission into communion with the Triune God. There will never be a shortage of opposition on the part of the world as on the part of the heart of fallen man. (“Cor ad cor loquitur” John Henry Cardinal Newman’s Coat of Arms, Newman Friends International)
Just as it is not enough to merely know the Truth intellectually, it is not enough to simply “perform”, either:
“Neither theological knowledge nor social action alone is enough go keep us in love with Christ unless both are preceded by a personal encounter with him. I have found that it takes some time to catch fire in prayer. This has been one of the advantages of the Holy Hour. Sitting before the Presence is like a body exposing itself to the sun to absorb its rays. In those moments one does not so much pour out written prayers, but listening takes place. The Holy Hour became a teacher for me. Although, before we love anyone we must have knowledge of that person, nevertheless, after we know, it is love that intensifies knowledge.” (“Treasure in Clay“, Archbishop Fulton Sheen)
Love teaches….and if we fail to Love, then we fail to know in fullness the Truths we boldly proclaim. Not only that, we set up limitations on our ability to grow even more completely into the Fullness of the Truth.
Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves. (Fides Et Ratio, Encyclical of Pope John Paul II)
I’m a bit appalled by myself, having taken it upon myself to argue so frequently the Truth that Reason alone is not enough…that Moral Reasoning is the right path….and yet have failed to live this in my interactions with people on a personal level.
To all whom I have offended, I ask forgiveness and a chance to start anew. I have committed myself to a renewed effort to Live what the Church proclaims, and not to merely stand with her to proclaim it. I offer a renewed effort to be Christ to those around me. Before I can change the world, I have to first be willing to change myself.
Please let me know if, and when, I fail.
God bless you.
About the Seventh Station: Jesus Falls a Second Time
My Jesus, often have I sinned and often, by sin, beaten Thee to the ground beneath the cross. Help me to use the efficacious means of grace that I may never fall again.
In Florida, a judge has ordered the use of ‘Ecclesiastical Islamic Law’ to decide a case among litigants in a suit involving an internal dispute at a mosque. Why are some so accepting of the idea that the melding of “Mosque and State” in American jurisprudence is acceptable? I submit that, at least in some cases, political motivations stand in the way of intelligent, reasoned debate on issues related to Islam. Leftist disdain for the Right and the leftist political doctrine of multiculturalism cripple their ability to reasonably debate these issues.
Those critical of Islam and the terror which is born from it are frequently accused of trying to pigeon-hole all Muslims into one category of believers who are seeking Islam’s domination. In this accusation, the reality that some actually do seek to do just that is brushed under the rug. Though I would agree that not all Muslims desire that political Islam should become a part of America’s legal system, it is clear that the desire for Islam to dominate in America does exist among some Muslims. There is perhaps no more serious example of this than in attempts to make Islamic Law hold precedence over American Law.
Many on the Left will leap to the defense of Islam at every turn. It is true even in this case, even though the leaders of the mosque themselves argue that Florida law should hold precedence. Why would the Left press for Islam when the mosque itself argues the contrary?
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the Left has introduced new doctrines that are Marxist in nature, but that have a non-Soviet flavor which may make them more palpable to Americans. One such doctrine — “multiculturalism” — has replaced “melting pot” thinking all too frequently in America. Multiculturalism is one avenue through which Sharia courts in America could gain more acceptance whereas this could not happen wherever the traditional “melting pot” thinking is applied.
In our traditional “melting pot” society, immigrants “blend in”. They accept the basic values of the American system into which they have moved while retaining those elements of their culture which do not trample over the most basic American values. For instance, in Chinatown, Americans can experience the flavor of Chinese culture, but still be fully American and retain all the freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution. There is no need to be concerned that on a visit to Chinatown, you might automatically become a citizen of China or be otherwise subject to Chinese law. You’d be hard pressed to find an American on the Right or the Left who does not accept Chinatown as a highly welcome part of American society. Chinatown is a textbook example of America’s “melting pot” values system.
Multiculturalism is the polar opposite of the “melting pot.” “Multiculturalism,” a “major ideological successor” of Soviet-style Marxism, rejects the idea that immigrants should “blend in” to the American system of values.
Values like universal human rights, individualism and liberalism are regarded merely as ethnocentric products of Western history. The scientific knowledge that the West has produced is simply one of many “ways of knowing.” In place of Western universalism, this critique of the West offers the relativism of multiculturalism, a concept that regards the West not as the pinnacle of human achievement to date, but as simply one of many equally valid cultural systems.
I can see the Left’s embrace of the ideological doctrine of multiculturalism — as opposed to a “melting pot” — reflected in the exposition of Sharia Law as a system of law that is equally valid to other systems of law. An example of this is a recent report at Salon by Justin Elliott. Though Elliott has taken great pains to claim that Tea Party protests against radical Islamists are “anti-Muslim hate,” he admits to having little idea about what Sharia Law is.
Indeed, anti-Muslim political operatives have been warning of “creeping sharia” and “Islamist lawfare” for years, though the anti-sharia efforts have gained new prominence in recent months.
But even basic facts about sharia — what is it? how is it used in American courts? — are hard to come by. So I decided to talk to Abed Awad, a New Jersey-based attorney and an expert on sharia who regularly handles cases that involve Islamic law. He is also a member of the adjunct faculties at Rutgers Law School and Pace Law School. He recently answered my questions via e-mail.
Here we have a writer at Salon who is operating from a presumption that the protests against Sharia are “anti-Muslim” efforts by “political operatives.” He claims these protests are based in bigotry, instead of what they really are — legitimate concerns about support for terror and anti-Semitism at the Islamic Circle of NorthAmerica.
Operating from a foundation of disdain for the Right, he hangs on to the presumption that the protests are not legitimate opinions expressed by citizens but, instead, are a campaign run by “political operatives”. It is from that foundation of flawed belief that he builds. Further, in realizing that he is completely ignorant of Sharia, he seeks to build his arguments against those who would seek to discredit Islam by doing research made up entirely of an email exchange with one Muslim attorney.
It is in this manner that the Left’s knee-jerk disdain for the Right, the doctrine of multiculturalism and downright ignorance about Islam are so often found together in a formula that causes them to jump to the defense of Islam in every issue…even issues wherein they are taking the position opposite of a mosque that is opposed to Islamic supremacism in our courts.
We hear a lot about the “Far Right” in America’s political discourse on Islam. Indeed, the Far Left and their ideological doctrines contrary to America’s founding values are very much at play in these debates. Let us not forget that important point.
In an address in Ireland for the 2011 report by Aid to the Church in Need on Christian persecution, Archbishop Bashar Warda of northern Iraq did not mince words about the plight of Christians and other non-Muslims in his country. Christians in Iraq face “near genocide” due only to their non-Muslim status as the Iraqi government muddies the waters of jurisprudence.
What we Iraqis are suffering is a crisis in cultural change. We are living in a region which cannot decide if it is for democracy or for Islamic law. It cannot decide if it is for the rights of human beings to live in freedom in all its exciting and challenging forms, or if it is for the control of the spirit and the minds of its people.
Since 2003, roughly a million Iraqi Christians have either fled their native homeland or been massacred. The damage wrought by Islamists has also taken its toll on Christian buildings dedicated to serving and uplifting the downtrodden.
Now I would like to talk to you about the systematic bombing campaign of Iraqi churches. The first Iraqi church was bombed in June, 2004 in Mosul. Following that event, successive campaigns have occurred and a total of 66 churches have been attacked or bombed; 41 in Baghdad, 19 in Mosul, 5 in Kirkuk and 1 in Ramadi. In addition, 2 convents, 1 monastery and a church orphanage was bombed.
While Islamists have insisted on blowing up, killing, or otherwise suppressing everything and everyone identified as Christian in Iraq, the Church there has been seeking to build. In January, it was announced that the Church, with the assistance of Aid to the Church in Need, would minister to the Christian community in northern Iraq, the area Christians are fleeing to, by building a university and a hospital.
Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil said both schemes would provide jobs, training and other opportunities for thousands of Christians flooding into the relative security of Kurdistan, away from the religious violence, especially in Baghdad and Mosul.
Speaking after a committee of faithful and clergy met to advance the schemes, Archbishop Warda said: “The plans we have been developing over the past few months are symbols of hope for the Christian presence in our country.”
Christians defend life, education, employment, and religious freedom while Islamists seek only to destroy them. This is an all too familiar theme that has not been missed by Cardinal O’Brien of Britain.
The Qur’an (Quran, Kuran, Koran, Coran or al-Qur’?n), the religious text ostensibly revealed to Muhammad by “Allah” through the angel “Jibril”, is considered by Muslims to be the “final revelation” of ‘Allah”. In it, we find fables about various persons who are also mentioned in the Torah and in the Christian New Testament. Among them is “Isa”, who Muslims claim is Jesus.
Though Christians believe Jesus to be the Son of God and the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Muslims consider “Isa” to be merely a prophet, in much the same manner that Jews and Christians consider Elijah to be a prophet. Muhammad also is considered a prophet; the last one sent by God and, therefore, because he ostensibly brought the “final revelation”, he is deemed by Muslims to be the most special prophet of all. As a “prophet”, “Isa” holds a special place in the mind of Muslims. Among the more zealous Muslims, we may find a willingness to strongly defend the name of “Isa”, who they will sometimes refer to as “Jesus”. For this reason, it is sometimes perceived that Muslims hold “Jesus” in higher honor than even Christians do. Since zeal for error should never be mistaken for holiness, it’s important that we understand more precisely what it is that Muslims believe about “Isa” (“Jesus”).
As a convert who was raised in a protestant home, I completely understand what it’s like to know “about” Jesus without really “knowing Jesus”. Today, Ash Wednesday, 2011, is the twentieth anniversary of my recognizing the Real Jesus in the Eucharist. Because of my own life experience, I understand that ignorance can be remedied through the grace of God and through our willingness to spread the truth about the Real Jesus provided that those who do not really know Jesus are willing to accept that their current view of Him is not altogether the truth. For this reason, it is important that we understand what Muslims believe, on some level, and be willing to engage them in dialogue and also to pray for their understanding of the Real Jesus.
Muhammad’s view of Jesus is fundamentally flawed, both in the Qur’an and in the “Hadith” which offers context for the Qur’an much like the writings of the Early Church Fathers offer context for the Christian Scriptures.
In the Qur’an, we can hear certain ‘echoes’ of stories from the Christian Scriptural account of Jesus. As an example, I will offer two passages from the Christian Scriptures about Jesus and a passage from the Qur’an about Muhammad’s “Jesus” character. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
When former Senator Rick Santorum, a faithful Catholic who appears to be preparing to run for president, made some comments recently in a speech in South Carolina, they were taken out of context in an article by Andy Barr at Politico. While Santorum’s remarks about historical revisionism of the Crusades were highlighted, Politico left out clarifying remarks which express Santorum’s views, albeit in a simple analogy, on what Christians should be doing to counter Islamic jihad. It should be noted that these remarks are in keeping with the advice of the Vatican for Christians faced with Islamic aggression.
‘From my perspective, I run a Christian school that has a liberal arts-focused education,’ said Oakbrook Headmaster Adair Hinds. ‘The students we had here … We’re trying to make them think. Having somebody make strong statements and take a stance, whether our students believe it or not or agree with it or not is not my concern. My concern is that our students are listening to what people say, listening to their opinions, and running it through their own mind, and basing their decisions on integrity.’
In other words, Santorum endorses the free exchange of ideas in an environment that is not hostile to dissent. This is an important point that was missed, probably because the leftist media really has no earthly idea what we are dealing with in the Islamic version of fundamentalism, not to mention ignorance of both history and the Vatican‘s official position on these matters.
There is talk of “Crusades” in the air, as of late. We see hype in leftist political media, warnings in anti-Catholic Christian media, and Islamopologetics about the historic Crusades in leftist Catholic media. Considering the reality of continuous Christian slaughter in the Muslim world by Islamists who kill even for what they define as blasphemy, it’s time to set the record straight.
There will be no ‘Crusades’ ordered by the Pope. Anyone who believes otherwise is delusional. It’s important to understand why this is so, in order to put this talk to rest, so that we can understand the reasonable way to ‘fight’ Islamic jihad.
On the Crusades, Santorum’s main point was that they were defensive wars, which is true. Further, the history of mankind has been a very long journey of coming to a fuller understanding of what human rights are. The idea of human rights began with the Creation story in Judaism and has progressed over time. It is the Judeo-Christian ethic upon which all human rights have their foundation through the course of history. History shows mankind evolving in his coming to a fuller knowledge about human rights gradually over time, beginning from the basic due process that God offered Adam and Eve in the Garden.
The fact of the matter is that the world was once a place where few human rights were recognized. It is not reasonable, then, for us to apply our understanding of human rights to the people of the Medieval Age.
What we can do is look at the core teachings of Judaism, Christianity and Islam and see what they are. Forced conversions have never been a part of the teachings of Judaism and Christianity, no matter what any of their members may have done as a result of their fallen nature and ignorance. For this reason, we can be sure that nothing like the popular understanding of the “Crusades” (as “Christian conquest” carried out by the Catholic Church) ever really did happen because the lens the vast majority of us are looking through distorts the picture.
If Andy Barr of Politico paid attention to the Vatican as much as I expect Santorum does, he might have been able to sort out what Santorum was attempting to present despite Santorum’s fumbling a bit over the issue. The actual plan of the Vatican is in keeping with what Santorum stated in regard to his Christian school. In order to ‘combat’ Islamic jihad, we must all commit to using our gift of reason in a manner that respects basic human dignity. In other words, we must commit to debating our disagreements in an atmosphere that is devoid of hostility. It should be called a “Crusade of Words” as it is limited to the arena of ideas. This is what Pope Benedict XVI has continually spoken out for during these troubling times by encouraging countries around the world — particularly Iraq, Egypt and Pakistan — to please respect religious freedom and provide security for religious minorities.
In a controversial speech delivered at Regensburg in 2006, Pope Benedict XVI pointed out that Christian theology requires the use of reason whereas Islamic theology rejects reason. In his 2010 “state of the union address” to the Catholic Cardinals, Pope Benedict warned of an ‘eclipse of reason‘ that is advancing now in the world. Though human beings in diverse cultures may disagree on many things, one thing is certain: if we lose our ability to reason with each other in a manner that respects human dignity — which, at minimum, includes our commitment not to kill each other because we disagree — then we will not prevail against the Islamists who have rejected both human dignity and the importance of reason in debates about that dignity.
This is the only ‘crusade’ that you will see promoted by the Vatican — a ‘Crusade of Words’ that acknowledges the basics of the dignity of the human person. In lands where Christians are being brutalized, you can be sure that they will ask for their religious freedom wherever there is hope in attaining it. Otherwise, they will flee, as in Libya, or die as so many are dying now in Egypt, Pakistan, Sudan and elsewhere in the Muslim world.
I am a contributor at NewsReal Blog and I disagree with some of my compatriots there on many issues. Many of these issues are serious issues that have to do with human dignity. One thing is certain, though. If you ask anyone at NewsReal Blog if the use of reason is important in order to defend basic human dignity — though we may define human dignity differently — I am certain that they will all answer in the affirmative. This is a ‘crusade’, of sorts, and we continually call on others to join us. We must arm ourselves not with violence but with reason and with true tolerance in the arena of ideas. Otherwise, the Islamists win.
It really is that simple.
Stacy McCain writes about an incest case that is all over the conservative political blogosphere: Palin-Hating Columbia Professor, Huffington Post Blogger, Busted for Incest
This quote from an article at Salon on the matter caught my attention.
Most courts are concerned about parents preying on their children, [University of Akron law professor J. Dean Carro] said. “Regardless of the age of the child, there’s still a theory that a parent is always a parent, a child is always a child and, as a result, there truly can’t be a consensual sexual act.”
One might just as well say that a man is always a man and a woman is always a woman….right?
When two adults have an incestuous relationship, “consent” isn’t the issue. Natural Law is the issue here.
[T]he natural law is the rule of conduct which is prescribed to us by the Creator in the constitution of the nature with which He has endowed us.
In other words, God has put into all human beings a nature that is actually the reason for this quote from Stacy McCain in his article:
All together now: Eeeeewww! Yuck!
Yes, all of us together can say “Eeeeewww! Yuck!” because God has instilled in us a natural revulsion to such things. Deep down, we all know that incest is wrong, even if the two engaged in it are consenting adults. So, you see, ‘consent’ isn’t what makes something ‘moral’.
‘Natural Law’ is the basis for the claim that we have “inherent rights”. Any claim of validity for incest (or gay marriage, or other things contradictory to Natural Law) is a claim that Natural Law is invalid, hence it is a claim that the whole idea of “inherent rights” is invalid. (Watch Birth of Freedom for a better understanding of where the idea of “human rights” actually came from.)
Despite the fact that incest and homosexuality naturally cause most of us to say, “Eeeeewww”, there are a few holdouts who insist on engaging in behavior that is morally abhorrent. Some people do immoral things ‘because’ they are immoral. Also, Satan does exist and he does tempt us to do immoral things. He lies and tells us they are ‘okay’ or even that they are ‘good’. It has ever been so.
Though we are all full of holes, God will fill the holes with Himself if we will allow Him to. We are all connected to the past, to the future, to God, and to each other. Natural Law is a part of that connection…but the full truth is far bigger and far more beautiful than anyone (even myself) can imagine. I’ve decided to learn all I can about it and to grow into a better understanding of these Truths on my journey. I hope everyone will at least take a moment to consider “the big picture”…and not merely what makes us say “Eeeeewww”. It’s a lot deeper (and more important) than you might think.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.
In a January 31 press briefing, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs offered the first acknowledgement from the Obama Administration that the White House wants the Muslim Brotherhood, which spawned both Hamas and Al Qaeda, to have a place at the table as Egypt seeks to form a new government. Meanwhile, there has been continued silence on whether or not the Christians in Egypt should have any voice. Never before has this silence been so deafening as now.
As the Egyptian military launches RPGs against Christian monasteries, there remains no word from President Obama on the basic human rights of Christians. So, too, there remains no reporting in the Western “mainstream media” about these attacks even as Christians have marched to Tahrir Square to request religious freedom. Further, this morning comes news that Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Muhammad Rabaie al-Zawahiri has called for violence against Christians in Egypt. Why does the Obama Administration acknowledge the voice of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt but ignore the voices of Christians, in the midst of this brutal assault? Is it due to incompentence? Or is the Obama Administration more sympathetic to Islamists than to Christians? It’s a question that deserves to be answered clearly.
Nina Shea reports this morning about a letter from an Egyptian friend stating that Al-Qaeda leaderAyman Muhammad Rabaie al-Zawahiri has decided to take a strong leadership role, if you will, regarding Christians in Egyptian society.
Al-Qa’ida’s number two leader . . . Egyptian born Ayman al-Zawahiri has issued (actually yet to be released!!!!) a three-part message commenting on events in Egypt. In his second part of the message series, Zawahiri spends considerable time inciting violence against Coptic Christians and the Coptic Church. Zawahiri stated that Copts were one of the main problems leading to the situation facing Egypt today.
The Washington Post reports that the Egyptian military cabinet, which many who are concerned about radical Islam had hoped would maintain power when Mubarak stepped down, has “reshuffled” its membership. While two of these new members are Coptic Christians, the situation remains fluid as “tens of thousands” of protesters in Tahrir Square are demanding continued “reform” of the military cabinet. Clearly, it is no longer reasonable to give any kind of blanket approval to Egypt’s military cabinet as it is unknown what loyalties will be in the hearts of those who ultimately populate it. Meanwhile, as noted, troops on the ground are wreaking havoc on the Christian community in Egypt. The future of Christians in Egypt appears painfully hopeless in the face of these changes.
It is important to consider that al-Zawahiri is an Egyptian who was trained from his youth in the Muslim Brotherhood. He is the grandson of Rabi’a al-Zawahri, the former grand imam at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University which has been described as the “world’s leading center of Sunni Islamic thought“. Just prior to the Egyptian uprising, the top scholars at Al-Azhar University broke off dialogue with the Vatican in protest of Pope Benedict XVI’s protest of the massacre at Our Lady of Deliverance Church in Alexandria.
In specifically supporting a Muslim Brotherhood presence in Egypt’s government, President Obama has effectively aligned himself with Ayman al-Zawahiri and Al-Qaeda against the Christians of Egypt who are today under continued attack even in the Coptic monasteries. Considering, too, the presence of Muslim Brotherhood front groups right here in America, whose representatives can be found rubbing elbows with the President, making a joint statement for “tolerance” with some of our American Catholic bishops, and continually defended by the President’s leftist political base, how can we not be alarmed?
On January 7, 2010, President Obama said, “We are at war; we are at war with al Qaeda.” Americans certainly understand that we are at war with al Qaeda, but with his offering of support for the Muslim Brotherhood, an ally of Ayman Muhammad Rabaie al-Zawahiri who calls for the murder of Christians, we must ask, does President Obama prefer Al Qaeda to the Christians of Egypt?
We deserve a clear answer to that question.