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3 Catholic Hospitals To Close Allegedly Because Of Obamacare?

CatholicVote is mounting a campaign to bring attention to 3 Catholic Hospitals that are closing. The CEO said that ObamaCare “absolutely” factored into the decision.

This is certainly a troubling concern, made more so by the allegations that the White House, the local media, and Sr. Keehan have tried their best to quiet the story.

However, one has to be cautious. The report that CV apparently relies on is based on a doctor’s opinion-a doctor that does not appear to have any knowledge of the actual discussions at the hospitals in question. This unnamed doctor alleges that it is due to Obamacare restricting the ability of the hospital to collect Medicare reimbursements and thereby making its debt unbearable.

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TAC College Football Rankings: Week 6

There are few stories, if any, better in college football than Jarrett Lee. A guy booed off the field in 2007 for his INTs, including a game where he got crushed in the Swamp, comes back to lead LSU to come from behind wins against Tennessee and then again at the Swamp. The Mad Hatter is 6-0.

Mad props to South Carolina. Used the bye week to perfection and embarrassed a team last week had their fans booking trips to Glendale.

Finally, some real chaos. Bama’s lost their margin for error. Ohio St., Oregon, and Nebraska look like the favorites to finish undefeated in their conferences. LSU & Auburn remain undefeated in the SEC. Oklahoma and Michigan St. also remain underdogs to win out their conference. And the BCS Busters remain undefeated (Boise St., TCU, & Utah). Apparently, Boise St. is likely to be #1 when the BCS comes out next week but truly only LSU & Auburn control their own destiny.

So who gets #1? Is a one-loss Bama team better than an undefeated BCS Buster? This is a week to fight over the rankings, so let’s get to them after this reminder that LSU inspires its fans to pursue holiness!

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TAC Pro Football Rankings: Week 4

Is anyone any good? Jeesh, I know Texas is a horrible place to visit, but surely the Superbowl is worth the incursion? After all, Louisiana is right next door.

Last year was year of the Titans, with the Colts, Vikings, and Saints clearly in another league. This year, everyone has significant problems. The Colts have dropped 2 games. Favre wants to go back to Miss. The Saints have a plethora of injuries and the offense hasn’t looked great.

Each team seems to have an inexplicable loss on their record. The Jets opener against the Ravens, the Pack’s loss to the Bears, etc. After Week 4, you have a pretty good sense usually of where everybody stands. Everyone has significant improvements that need to be made; the question is who can make them in time to get into the playoffs, as it seems that unlike last year, once you’re in the playoffs it’s anybody’s game.

To the rankings!

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TAC College Football Rankings: Week 5

Update: There was a glitch that prevented the rankings from showing. The glitch is fixed and the rankings are up.

You may be wondering why there is a big picture of the Blessed Mother to lead off the post. It’s simple. I and the rest of us clad in purple & gold owe her. Big time. On the 4th down play and the last play of the game (both of them), I was furiously saying the Hail Mary in the LSU student section. If those flags aren’t miraculous intercession, I don’t know what is. I have prayed like that during a game twice-the NFC championship game against the Vikings and the LSU v. Auburn game in 2007 (Byrd’s catch with a second left-the most beautiful pass & catch I’ve seen in Death Valley). These Tigers are going to kill me, and even though they should have slaughtered the Vols, that was a rare and fun experience.

In the rest of the college football world, we now have clear front-runners in the top 2 conferences. Oregon will need a major upset to lose the PAC-10, and Alabama made quite a statement to the rest of the SEC West. In the Big 12, Oklahoma looks to take the Big 12 South with the win in the Red River Rivalry. The Big 10 is still wide open, and the ACC is anyone’s guess.

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CatholicVote & Endorsements

The folks of CatholicVote had some objections to my post Tuesday. Brian Burch had this to say in the comment box:

Thanks Michael for your post, though I am compelled to respond and disagree with much of what you and others have written. I do believe that the questions you raise are highly relevant to the conversation occurring within the Church today about the proper role of the laity in public life, and especially American politics. I should also note for those that don’t know, Michael has been, and continues to be, a guest blogger on CatholicVote.org and we continue to welcome his contributions (and disagreements) on our site should he choose to cross post there.

CatholicVote.org was founded specifically to champion the cause of faithful citizenship from a distinctly lay perspective. As such, we seek to serve the Church by assisting the laity with material, catechetical resources, news and commentary, and tools for evangelization (videos, ads, etc) that incorporate an authentic Catholic worldview as applied to our civic life, in pursuit of the common good. To be sure, the issues that involve intrinsic evils, or questions that involve the “non-negotiable” issues are always treated as foundational, and not open to compromise or debate for Catholics. Our programming has almost exclusively been focused on the life issue, for example.

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TAC NFL Rankings Week 3

Well, this has been boring, right? Steelers, Bears, and Chiefs are undefeated, just like we expected. Yawn.

Rankings…BEFORE the jump! (gotta keep you on your toes). Comments by me (MD), MJ (MJ), and Paul (PZ).

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers (4) – The most complete team in the NFL–without Big Ben (MJ)
  2. Indianapolis Colts – As is the case with Green Bay and New Orleans, one gets the sense that Indy hasn’t really kicked into high gear yet, which is just truly terrifying to ponder. (PZ)
  3. New Orleans Saints (TIE w/ Indy) – Losing a game coming off a Monday nighter on the West Coast isn’t the end of the world, but when you’re a field goal miss away from a win against the main division rival, it hurts. (MD)
  4. Green Bay Packers – Outplayed the Bears for 57 minutes (MJ)
  5. Chicago Bears – Has there ever been a softer 3-0 team?  Maybe the 2006 Bears.  They have a soft schedule coming up, so they may be able to coast by for a while, but something tells me we will be soon shown that they are indeed who we thought they were.(PZ)
  6. New York Jets – So is the secret recipe just letting Mark Sanchez throw the ball? (MJ)
  7. Atlanta Falcons – They got the win, but barely against a Saints team not at 100% (Porter, Bush out + short week). They won’t get that lucky again.
  8. Baltimore Ravens – Not sure about this team; we’ll find out this week when they play the Steelers (MD)
  9. Kansas City Chiefs – This isn’t going to last, but I can’t really keep an undefeated team out of the top ten.  Jamaal Charles is just absolutely explosive, and they need to stop giving Thomas Jones the majority of the carries.(PZ)
  10. New England Patriots – Not the best two weeks of Pats football. (MD)

Others receiving votes: Eagles & Texans

Dropping out: Texans, Dolphins, and Chargers

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TAC College Football Rankings Week 4

This weekend was the first opportunity for me to rejoin my brethren in purple & gold, and enjoy the tailgating, so college football has officially begun. Notes from the week:

  • 8:15 games are lame, made more so with long TV timeouts. I didn’t get home till 1:45 (granted, I waited out the traffic at a nearby apartment but still).
  • The Big East in in trouble. No one in the Top 25, with all three marquee teams losing this weekend (WVU, Pitt, & Cincy).
  • The ACC is a mystery to me. With GT losing and UNC’s troubles, hard to pick a favorite. Miami looks good, and NC State is undefeated, but the Hokies don’t have a conference loss yet and made a good statement against BC.
  • As of right now, the SEC West has the teams ranked #1, #10, #12, and #15 in the AP poll. Your chaos of the season will ride on what happens there (as well as what happens when Florida plays some of those teams-starting this week when Bama is rewarded for its efforts v. the Hogs by meeting the stronger-looking Gators at home). You may begin an “S-E-C!” chant now.
  • Do you think Brian Kelly & Notre Shame expected to be 1-3 right now?
  • What happened to Georgia? They got creamed by Moo U. and sit firmly behind Vandy in the SEC East. Very sad.
  • The Heisman race continues to intrigue. Ingram, despite missing a few games, looks solid. Robinson was out for much of the game but looks ok. Pryor handled business, and Peterson added another special teams TD. I will say that I acted very dignified when peterson scored his TD and did the Heisman pose. And by dignified, I mean jump up and down so much that I almost knocked my sister down. However, I did resist putting that picture as the lead this week (saving it for a future week, perhaps?)
  • Right now, I think conference ranks are 1. SEC, 2. PAC-10, 3. Big-10, 4. Big 12, 5. MWC, 6. ACC, 7. Boise St. 8. Big East.
  • This week, Idaho receives no votes in the TAC poll. In a unrelated story, the TAC poll gains nation-wide credibility (love ya, tito!)

Ok, rankings after the jump.

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TAC College Football Rankings: Week 3

No upsets before midnight central standard time made for a fairly quiet rankings; this week we lined up more or less with the AP poll (though Tito and I threw it some curves). Some random thoughts of my own before the rankings:

Could we please stop with the Locker for #1 pick and Heisman? This is the second game he’s blown this year. He shouldn’t still be on a Heisman ballot. The Heisman is between Pryor, Robinson and Patrick Peterson (his interceptions this weekend were insane) at this point.

If Ole Miss had listened to their fans and made Admiral Ackbar their mascot, maybe they would have known that Vanderbilt & Jacksonville St. had the potential to be A TRAP! (Seriously, Ole Miss is terrible and Ackbar is a better choice than the moronic suggestions they’ve come up with so far to replace Johnny Reb. of course, the stupidity & lack of creativity of Ole Miss’s student body is how we got stuck with the lame “Magnolia Bowl” title between LSU & Ole Miss /rant.)

Brian Kelly is not a good coach, or at least not from what I saw Saturday night. A bizarre 4th & 1 decision to go for it in Notre Dame territory late in the 4th quarter as well as being totally unprepared for an obvious fake field goal situation makes me question Kelly. Coming from a fan who puts up with Les Miles’s gambles, that’s saying a lot.

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Benedict at Westminster

The text of Benedict’s keynote speech on his trip to the UK is here; video of the speech can be found here.

Obviously, you read or watch the speech in its entirety, but I will present a few highlights for readers:

And yet the fundamental questions at stake in Thomas More’s trial continue to present themselves in ever-changing terms as new social conditions emerge. Each generation, as it seeks to advance the common good, must ask anew: what are the requirements that governments may reasonably impose upon citizens, and how far do they extend? By appeal to what authority can moral dilemmas be resolved? These questions take us directly to the ethical foundations of civil discourse. If the moral principles underpinning the democratic process are themselves determined by nothing more solid than social consensus, then the fragility of the process becomes all too evident – herein lies the real challenge for democracy.

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Politicians and Church Platforms

MM is leading a campaign to protest a book-signing of Newt Gingrich’s latest book to be held at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in D.C. The book is “To Save America: Stopping Obama’s Secular-Socialist Regime” and Amazon provides a description.

For once, I agree with MM: the book-signing is a bad idea. I’m a very big believer of separation of church from state, and I don’t like the appearance that the Church is being co-opted here. The book isn’t religious; it’s political. Even if I would agree with what he says in the book, I’d rather it not be promoted by being offered at a Catholic bookstore, much less be publicized through a book-signing.

Unfortunately, this is not the grounds that is offered to oppose it. Instead, we find references to Newt’s “hyper-partisan” nastiness, his racism, and his serial adultery. I don’t wish to get into an argument about the virtues and vices of Newt’s career or his potential presidential candidacy (in part b/c being of the generation I am, I have little knowledge of what Newt did). However, I do find it useful for thinking about how the Church interacts with politics, in part b/c it’s not the only example in the last week. Tony Blair wrote a column published on the front page of the Vatican’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, in anticipation of the Pope’s visit to the UK. There are a number of problems with Blair’s political career from the Church’s view, including his support for legalized abortion, gay marriage  and  the invasion of Iraq. While it doesn’t appear that Blair has political aspirations any longer, it brings up the question of how much past political failings ought to deter Church officials from granting a stage to politicians, particularly repentant ones?

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TAC Pro Football Top 10

We promised pro rankings, and here they are. I promise not to abuse my discretion as poster to unnecessarily promote the official team of all orthodox Catholics, the New Orleans Saints…

…after I post that picture. Ok, now I’m done. Maybe.

Same deal as the college ranks, though we decided that debating whether the Browns or Rams were the worst team was boring, so we limited it to the top 10. Voters are myself, Tito, and Paul Zummo. Cue the ranks! Continue Reading

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Fides et Ratio

Today is the anniversary of what might be John Paul II’s most important encyclical, Fides et ratio. Although I have not the time to give it a full treatment, if you have not read it I strongly urge you to do so as soon as possible. Catholicism’s eager embrace of reason & philosophy not only sets it apart from most other religions but also positions it to best respond to the philosophical failures that are hurting the modern world. If the modern world is to find some redemption, it will be because these words are heeded:

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

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TAC College Football Rankings: Week 2

Last week we debuted our fearless college rankings here at TAC. This week saw chaos in the middle and back as our #11, 12, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, and 24 teams all lost. Some of the chaos is surely due to this man:

The first lesson we need to learn is that if we keep ignoring the Federalist Papers, Madison will strike down our football teams. The other lesson is that it’s great to not be an ACC fan.

This week the rankings take on two new additions: our own Dave Hartline and Evangelical Catholicism’s M.J. Andrew. If you’re a Catholic blogger, and you’re interested in writing rankings, shoot me an email at michaelrdenton”at” gmail. com. Let’s see those rankings now, shall we?

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TAC College Football Rankings: Week 1

Idaho Vandals QB & NFL Prospect Nathan Enderle

So we’re trying a new feature here at TAC. Since we noticed we have a lot of college football fans, we thought it might be fun to start our own rankings system. This way, we have an excuse to talk college football every week in a Catholic setting. B/c we thought of it this week, this ranking is coming out on Thursday but the others should be coming out on Mondays.

Here’s how it’ll work. People will send in their rankings and I’ll assign points to them (25 for 1st, 24 for 2nd, etc.) and then average out the points and rank the teams according to that. Then I will take that score along with the computer models and…just kidding. No computer models.

My hope is that it’ll build and we’ll get more people involved (and if you want to submit rankings, let me know-you don’t have to write for TAC). At the end of the year, we may even do a special bowl pick-em thing if it seems popular enough.

Rankings follow after the jump ?

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Catholics and Professional Football

As a person who has voted for a Republican, I am a fascist. As you may know, fascists want to control every aspect of people’s lives (and I don’t want to hear any fancy political science definitions to the contrary). With the college football season starting tonight and professional football starting a week from now, it is the perfect time to consider the ethical approach Catholics must take towards professional football. I have attempted this once before, but like Cassandra, no one really listened to my wise teachings. Therefore, I must witness once again by examining afresh all the professional football teams in light of Catholic teaching in order to determine whether Catholics may root for them while avoiding the fires of hell.

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In Memoriam

Today marks the 5th anniversary of the day Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans.

Many other commenters, far more versed in statistics and politics, will have plenty to say about the governmental failures in the disaster and the progress New Orleans has made in rebuilding. These are all very worthwhile, but as someone who lived in the New Orleans area before the storm, it’s not the story I think that’s most worth telling nor is it the one I’m most equipped to tell. While the government and insurance companies both reared their ugly and greedy heads in the aftermath, there’s only so much good one gets out of rehashing old arguments and injuries. I want to remember the good that God has done for me and the city from this storm.

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Why Satirical Catholic Blogs Fail

I finally returned to internet connectivity this week, which has meant catching up on news & blogs I have neglected. Part of this “reconnecting” included denying a facebook friend request from someone I never heard of-only to find out that this someone was a fake online persona created in the Catholic Fascist’s attempt at satire. Having looked over all of the posts there, I was struck by how eerily similar the site was to another parody group blog-The Spirit of Vatican II.

Both blogs employed a host of satirical characters with enough resemblance to real life to make laugh (I think whoever thought of danmclockinload deserves a guest post on TAC) at first, both got roaring laughter from their own partisans-and neither blog was funny after a few days.

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Not So Fast…

A Panel of the 9th Circuit has surprisingly issued a wise decision, deciding to allow Proposition 8 to remain in place while the 9th Circuit considers its constitutionality.

This was undoubtedly the right decision. It makes no sense to force a state to marry people while knowing that a later decision could invalidate all those marriages.

One hopes that this is the beginning of a trend in reversing Judge Walker, whose rulings in this case can best be described as what happens when judicial activism meets the dictatorship of relativism.

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Proposition 8 Struck Down, For The Time Being

By now I’m sure you all know that Proposition 8 was struck down by a federal judge. Who knows what will happen on appeal. There is much to be said, but I want to focus on one narrow and possibly tangential point. This phrase from the judge’s ruling, a phrase being reposted on facebook in many statuses:

“A private moral view that Same-sex couples are inferior to opposite-sex couples is not a proper basis for legislation.”

The absurdity of that sentence really struck me. There was nothing “private” about the view of the “superiority” of hetereosexual couples. It has been carried on through generations of communities and in the present day was represented by 52% of Californians. How a popular decision that represented thousands of years of ethical thinking and concern for the family became a private morality is baffling.

More troubling is the implication of the judge that a “moral view” is not a proper basis for legislation. Since when has this been the case? Our laws on pedophilia, minimum wage, health care, torture, human rights, etc. are based at least on part on “moral views,” views that in some respects may be just as if not more private than the ones the judge rejects today.

If morality is not a basis for legislation, what on earth is? Morality guides us in making decisions; without a moral or ethical compass (or perhaps even without a religious one) there is no basis for legislation to be made. Laws are supposed to help make society run better, but there is no way to make society run better unless you have a notion of what a “better society” looks like, and you don’t get to that notion without morality.

State recognition of homosexual marriage is one thing, but this ruling attacks the foundation of our government. Morality must have a place in the public sphere and must be one of the foremost foundations of legislation.

To be sure, the judge is simply smoke-screening for the fact that he is imposing his own standards of morality. But the fact that his statement rejecting a moral basis for legislation is being so celebrated should worry all Americans.

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Inception's Leap of Faith: Christianity v. Neo-Conservatives

My wife and I went to see Inception this weekend and I’ve been mulling over it the past two days. I’ve been looking through the internet to find a good analysis and, not finding one fully to my satisfaction, look Tolkien & Lewis’s advice and just wrote my own. If you haven’t seen the movie, I don’t know why you’re reading this but rest assured you will be lost. For those who did see it, I’ll see you after the break.

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Toy Story 3

I’ve become a very big fan of Pixar’s works, especially their recent works of Wall-E and Up. I don’t know what Pixar’s philosophical leanings are, but I think there’s a lot in their movies for Catholics of all ages to chew on. Indeed, Pixar provides some of the few films that are excellent visually and in plot, a rarity in Hollywood these days.

If you haven’t seen Toy Story 3, I recommend you (and your family) go do so. While I don’t think viewing the previous ones is an absolute necessity, much of the emotional punch of the film is added by the backstory and so I would do so.

If you have, come on below for all the spoilers and discussion of the movie.

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Parish Shopping

As my wife and I are expecting in November, we’ve started to consider where we’re going to baptize the baby. Most churches that we’ve seen want you to be a parishioner before they baptize you. This has brought up the question of what parish we really belong to. We’ve found that that’s not an easy question.

Over the weekend, Tito had a post that inquired about the existence of good parishes in Las Vegas for his family. Some of the things he looks for are an orthodox priest faithful to the Magisterium, a beautiful Church, and a liturgy that aspires to beauty and lacks some of the folksy elements of post-Vatican II as well as the more scandalous aspects of the “spirit of Vatican II” like liturgical dancers.

None of those desires are unreasonable. In fact, those things are the rights of the faithful.

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The World Cup & American Idealism

If you read the comments here at TAC, no doubt you’ve seen the accusation that America suffers from a Calvinist dualism that sinisterly causes all of American conservativism’s woes like it was the Catholic Church in a Dan Brown novel. While these claims are exaggerated, there’s a bit of truth in the idea that when compared to Europe, we’re a little more dualistic.

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Mr. President, Not Even Close to Good Enough

Mr. President,

Last night you gave an address using the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as an opportunity to pontificate about many subjects. I am afraid that far from convincing me you are leading the federal government well in this disaster, you have removed beyond a doubt your indifference to the state of Louisiana. Since you rarely visited the state before the disaster (even when the un-repaired damage done by Hurricane Katrina should have called your attention), perhaps I, as a resident of this great state, can explain what you obviously don’t understand.

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Louisiana Close to Passing Pro-Life Measures

One of the many things that makes Louisiana the greatest state in the Union is that due to its high population of Catholics it is the most pro-life state on the issue of abortion. This allows Louisiana to develop and pass pro-life laws that legislators in other states can adopt.

The latest laws are no exception, though perhaps they are too late. You may remember how in the healthcare debate, Catholics promoting the bill often pointed out that insurance often covers abortion and that the federal bill was doing little to expand coverage for abortion over the current private insurance system. Some in that camp obviously believed that the Republicans were too wedded to big business/insurance to actually change that.

I was glad they pointed this out, as it exposed a situation which I believed pro-lifers would soon rectify. Indeed, Louisiana is very close to doing just that:

House Bill 1247 by Rep. Frank Hoffman, R-West Monroe, would bar private insurers from covering “elective” abortions, including by women who are victims of rape or incest. The only exception would be for abortion procedures performed to save the life of the pregnant woman

Sen. Gerald Long, R-Natchitoches, who handled Hoffman’s bill, said it was filed in response to the health-care overhaul bill approved earlier this year by Congress, which gives states the right to “opt out” of covering elective abortions. He said the legislation is meant to affirm Louisiana’s long-standing opposition to abortion.

Hoffman’s bill, which passed 28-3, must go back to the House for agreement with changes made by the Senate before it can go to Gov. Bobby Jindal‘s desk.

Hopefully more pro-life states will follow Louisiana’s lead.

But it does clearly show the problems with the positions adopted by Catholics who promoted Obamacare. They gave up on the pro-life movement’s ability to actually change things. While sometimes the GOP does justly cause pro-lifers to be close to despair, Louisiana shows that sometimes real pro-life change can come if only we work for it.

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The Importance of Sports in a Post-Modern World

In a few days the FIFA World Cup, which is one of -if not the- premier sporting events in the world, begins so I thought it might be a good time to reflect on the good of sports for those who don’t play them.

In modern sports, sometimes it’s hard to see this good. In sports today, we have college football conferences raiding each other in pursuit of the all-mighty dollar, destroying the wonderful regional nature of the game. We have Kobe Bryant, one of the all-time divas, two games away from yet another title. As Henry Karlson pointed out in a post a while ago, sports stars often find themselves in a position of privilege-both in terms of financial wealth and in terms of our excusal of their poor behavior (though I would attribute this in large part not solely to sports but also to the cult of celebrity we have today, which is another post for another day). We even had a stampede in anticipation of the World Cup.

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No More Generations?

On the NYT’s philosophy blog, there was an article written about the decision to have children. I didn’t realize it when I first read it, but it was written by notorious pro-abort Peter Singer (and by notorious, I mean that he’s pro-choice even after birth).

But very few ask whether coming into existence is a good thing for the child itself. Most of those who consider that question probably do so because they have some reason to fear that the child’s life would be especially difficult — for example, if they have a family history of a devastating illness, physical or mental, that cannot yet be detected prenatally

All this suggests that we think it is wrong to bring into the world a child whose prospects for a happy, healthy life are poor, but we don’t usually think the fact that a child is likely to have a happy, healthy life is a reason for bringing the child into existence. This has come to be known among philosophers as “the asymmetry” and it is not easy to justify. But rather than go into the explanations usually proffered — and why they fail — I want to raise a related problem. How good does life have to be, to make it reasonable to bring a child into the world?

A quick observation will point out that Singer assumes that health is a requirement for happiness, an assumption well refuted by many anecdotes about the joy of those who suffer with illness.

However, I find it amazing that Singer is willing to attempt to determine how “good” a child’s life will be.

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Elena Kagan and the state of Democracy

I’m not sure I ever expected to wake up to read the New York Times coverage of a new nominee to the Supreme Court and find myself in agreement.

Of course, they think she’ll be a fine justice and I think she’s a pro-abort and could do without her. I also think she looks like Ursula from “A Little Mermaid,” which is less a comment on her than it is a comment on how many Disney movies I watch with my wife (curse you, Disney movie club!). That’s not what we agree on.

What we agree on is that she is a stealth candidate and that just by itself makes us uncomfortable. The official editorial reads:

President Obama may know that his new nominee to the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan, shares his thinking on the multitude of issues that face the court and the nation, but the public knows nothing of the kind. Whether by ambitious design or by habit of mind, Ms. Kagan has spent decades carefully husbanding her thoughts and shielding her philosophy from view. Her lack of a clear record on certain issues makes it hard to know whether Mr. Obama has nominated a full-throated counterweight to the court’s increasingly aggressive conservative wing.

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The words of the Pope on "Earth Day"

I don’t have much patience for “Earth Day” b/c it’s a made-up (holi?)day. I tried to avoid wearing green today and decided to take the day to announce that my wife & I are expecting to add to the environmentalists’ fear of overpopulation.

But environmentalism matters; we can’t be distracted by the sappy appeals to Mother Earth. Care for the environment is an important aspect of the faith as the Holy Father tells us:

51. The way humanity treats the environment influences the way it treats itself, and vice versa. This invites contemporary society to a serious review of its life-style, which, in many parts of the world, is prone to hedonism and consumerism, regardless of their harmful consequences[122]. What is needed is an effective shift in mentality which can lead to the adoption of new life-styles “in which the quest for truth, beauty, goodness and communion with others for the sake of common growth are the factors which determine consumer choices, savings and investments”[123]. Every violation of solidarity and civic friendship harms the environment, just as environmental deterioration in turn upsets relations in society. Nature, especially in our time, is so integrated into the dynamics of society and culture that by now it hardly constitutes an independent variable. Desertification and the decline in productivity in some agricultural areas are also the result of impoverishment and underdevelopment among their inhabitants. When incentives are offered for their economic and cultural development, nature itself is protected. Moreover, how many natural resources are squandered by wars! Peace in and among peoples would also provide greater protection for nature. The hoarding of resources, especially water, can generate serious conflicts among the peoples involved. Peaceful agreement about the use of resources can protect nature and, at the same time, the well-being of the societies concerned.

The Church has a responsibility towards creation and she must assert this responsibility in the public sphere. In so doing, she must defend not only earth, water and air as gifts of creation that belong to everyone. She must above all protect mankind from self-destruction. There is need for what might be called a human ecology, correctly understood. The deterioration of nature is in fact closely connected to the culture that shapes human coexistence: when “human ecology”[124] is respected within society, environmental ecology also benefits. Just as human virtues are interrelated, such that the weakening of one places others at risk, so the ecological system is based on respect for a plan that affects both the health of society and its good relationship with nature.

In order to protect nature, it is not enough to intervene with economic incentives or deterrents; not even an apposite education is sufficient. These are important steps, but the decisive issue is the overall moral tenor of society. If there is a lack of respect for the right to life and to a natural death, if human conception, gestation and birth are made artificial, if human embryos are sacrificed to research, the conscience of society ends up losing the concept of human ecology and, along with it, that of environmental ecology. It is contradictory to insist that future generations respect the natural environment when our educational systems and laws do not help them to respect themselves. The book of nature is one and indivisible: it takes in not only the environment but also life, sexuality, marriage, the family, social relations: in a word, integral human development. Our duties towards the environment are linked to our duties towards the human person, considered in himself and in relation to others. It would be wrong to uphold one set of duties while trampling on the other. Herein lies a grave contradiction in our mentality and practice today: one which demeans the person, disrupts the environment and damages society.

Not wasting resources has nothing to do with saving “Mother Earth” but rather everything to do with forming ourselves to not be dependent on material things and preserving things for others (both the poor of our generation and the future generations). In this, we are better formed to protect human dignity.

This shows just how detrimental it is for environmentalists to be pushing abortion & contraception to solve overpopulation; by teaching lack of respect for human dignity and selfishness, they are promoting the very behaviors that contribute to environmental damage.

So on “Earth Day” let us as Catholics reaffirm the Church’s holistic and inseparable teachings on human dignity and the environment.

9

A Second Victimization

Nicholas D. Kristof wrote another New York Times editorial condemning the Church. It’s not worth reading; it’s the same stuff about the Vatican is not the Church, but the real Church are the ones helping the needy (i.e. the ones doing what Kristof likes-except for obviously Mother Teresa b/c she didn’t like contraception) and the Church needs to expand its ideas on women and contraception in order to avoid the sex abuse crisis. For example

That story comes to mind as the Vatican wrestles with the consequences of a patriarchal premodern mind-set: scandal, cover-up and the clumsiest self-defense since Watergate. That’s what happens with old boys’ clubs

That’s not interesting. We’ve heard it before. What is interesting is his blog. He himself comments on the article.

One question that I’m still puzzling over is this: how much difference would it make if the Vatican did admit women as deacons, or ordain them? It’s certainly true that women can be abusers as well as men. The painful report of the Irish Commission of Inquiry last year made that clear, with accounts of nuns brutally mistreating children and in some cases raping them. Likewise, ordination of women is no guarantee of popular support: mainline Christian denominations have been ordaining women, and still losing ground to more conservative Evangelical denominations.

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12

Christian Legal Society v. Martinez

As I’m a week and a half from law school exams, I don’t have the time to do this justice but there’s an important case involving a group I’m involved in at law school that was argued in front of the Supreme Court today. In sum, the school banned the CLS (Christian Legal Society) because it wanted the Christian Legal Society members to be…well, Christians. The school defends itself on the idea that allowing any discrimination is intolerable and would open a slippery slope to racist groups (no, seriously-read the article and the questions of Sotomayor & Stevens. Glad that Obama appointment is doing well for Christians).

So pray for a just result that will protect the rights of Christians to assemble.

13

Looking into the Cloudy Ball

Tax day is a day when all Americans are reminded about the importance of politics and think about the importance of the political future so they can adjust their budgets accordingly. Most of the time in politics we have a reasonably good idea of what’s going on: what the issues are going to be, who the favorites in the next election are, who are the main blocs, etc. Of course, there are always surprises and upsets.

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27

Is John Paul II still great?

I’ve been asking myself that question as I’ve read the discussions about the sex abuse scandal and asked it again while I read Ross Douthat’s editorial at the NYT this morning. The most pertinent part is this:

But there’s another story to be told about John Paul II and his besieged successor. The last pope was a great man, but he was also a weak administrator, a poor delegator, and sometimes a dreadful judge of character.

The church’s dilatory response to the sex abuse scandals was a testament to these weaknesses. So was John Paul’s friendship with the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, the founder of the Legionaries of Christ. The last pope loved him and defended him. But we know now that Father Maciel was a sexually voracious sociopath. And thanks to a recent exposé by The National Catholic Reporter’s Jason Berry, we know the secret of Maciel’s Vatican success: He was an extraordinary fund-raiser, and those funds often flowed to members of John Paul’s inner circle.

Only one churchman comes out of Berry’s story looking good: Joseph Ratzinger. Berry recounts how Ratzinger lectured to a group of Legionary priests, and was subsequently handed an envelope of money “for his charitable use.” The cardinal “was tough as nails in a very cordial way,” a witness said, and turned the money down.

This isn’t an isolated case. In the 1990s, it was Ratzinger who pushed for a full investigation of Hans Hermann Groer, the Vienna cardinal accused of pedophilia, only to have his efforts blocked in the Vatican. It was Ratzinger who persuaded John Paul, in 2001, to centralize the church’s haphazard system for handling sex abuse allegations in his office. It was Ratzinger who re-opened the long-dormant investigation into Maciel’s conduct in 2004, just days after John Paul II had honored the Legionaries in a Vatican ceremony. It was Ratzinger, as Pope Benedict, who banished Maciel to a monastery and ordered a comprehensive inquiry into his order.

So the high-flying John Paul let scandals spread beneath his feet, and the uncharismatic Ratzinger was left to clean them up. This pattern extends to other fraught issues that the last pope tended to avoid — the debasement of the Catholic liturgy, or the rise of Islam in once-Christian Europe. And it extends to the caliber of the church’s bishops, where Benedict’s appointments are widely viewed as an improvement over the choices John Paul made. It isn’t a coincidence that some of the most forthright ecclesiastical responses to the abuse scandal have come from friends and protégés of the current pope.

Douthat is not alone here; most have pointed out (including Rod Dreher, who left the Church b/c of his disappointment w/ the abuse scandals) that Benedict has gone to great lengths to clean up the mess that his predecessor made. But does a “great” make that kind of mess?

Now I certainly think that JPII is a saint. I don’t think that’s in question. Interestingly enough, I have not gathered from the media’s coverage that they would disagree with that. In fact, I would say that he probably merits very serious consideration as a doctor of the Church for Fides et Ratio and “man and Woman He Created Them: a theology of the body” Heck, I even have a poster of him in my living room (which is useful for showing to Mormon missionaries when they ask if I’m religious).

But having the title of “the great” means something extra than sainthood, doesn’t it?

Of course, this is difficult b/c “the great” title has no requirements, no set guidelines. This can be a big deal, as often the rules determine the result (for example: the importance you attach to Superbowl wins affects whether you think Manning or Brady is superior. of course this question is irrelevant b/c Brees is better than both of them but I digress).

Adding further difficulty is determining how significant this scandal is. While I’m sure this has profoundly affected those who have suffered from child abuse, I’m not sure if this will be a big deal thirty, fifty, a hundred years down the road. Right now of course it seems huge but how many people will be aware of it in the coming generations?

For JPII to not be determined great, it would have to be that the sex abuse scandal made enough of a dent in his legacy. This is not a minor feat, as JPII deserves significant credit for stabilizing the Church following Vatican II (setting the stage for the current traditonalist revival), excellent contributions to theology (including Fides et Ratio and Theology of the Body), an excellent charismatic approach that changed the nature of the papacy, and-oh yeah-helping to peacefully bring down the Soviet Union.

I tend to think that in the end, he will be deemed great though for the moment I hesitate to use the term. In the end, I think this storm will pass and we’ll be left with the memories of a great man with great accomplishments. But I think it’s possible that in reflecting on the failures of JPII’s papacy that perhaps we’ll choose not to use the term, and that’s not a possibility many were entertaining 5 years ago when JPII came into eternal life.

I would really like to know how other people are approaching this problem. Please leave comments.

Of course, one has to think that if Benedict is doing better than JPII, and JPII is “the great”, ought perhaps Benedict be up for the term? Food for thought.

39

Stevens to Retire

Get ready for Obama appointment, Round 2.

Supreme Court Justice Stevens announces he will retire in the summer.

Not sure how the timing will work on this, especially as Obama and the Democrats try to avoid being too contentious right before the November elections. That might play in our favor as far as getting a more moderate nominee. It will also be interesting to see if the GOP can or will delay the nominee as they have the 41 votes to filibuster.

The names being thrown around are the same ones being thrown around before; we’ll see where he goes with this pick. Time to start praying again.

63

Obama Approves Assassination of Citizen

When Catholics justified their decision to vote for Obama, they did so on two grounds: healthcare and foreign policy. The premise was Obama would actually save lives through healthcare and through his more peaceful foreign policy, thus outweighing the damage he would do through his promotion of abortion.

I never found that premise convincing. Not only did I think they underestimated the damage abortion does, but I also believed that they were ignoring what Barack Obama was actually promoting in his foreign policy. To make a long story short, I think most people assumed that since Obama was a Democrat who had opposed the war in Iraq that he would be the opposite of Bush when in truth their positions are very similar.

Since taking office, Obama has largely followed the lead of his predecessor. However today news is coming out that he has surpassed his predecessor in circumventing due process: Obama has authorized the CIA to kill a US citizen believed to be involved in terrorism (H/t Vox Nova).

The idea that an American citizen can be killed without a trial outside of battle is a troubling one, regardless of whether you voted for Obama or not. The death penalty is something that should be used only rarely (if at all-I’m w/ the bishops that it’s not good in modern America), and if used then used in the context of a trial. The rights of trial are not merely procedural technicalities but safeguards designed to protect the dignity of life: that is, regardless of what someone has done, freedom & human life itself are so precious that we take it away only after a deliberate and careful process.

To take away human life outside of self-defense is a power no one, including the President, possesses. One will hope that the media will publish this and emphasize it so that public pressure will dissuade Obama from taking this course of action. Unfortunately, one has to doubt that that hope will be realized.

36

Speculating on Gomez

First of all, I need to introduce myself: my name is Michael Denton and I’m from what Tito calls the People’s Republic of Cajunland and what I call paradise: South Louisiana. As for my qualifications: well, like most other bloggers, I really have no idea what I’m talking about. If that’s a problem for you…well, then you probably don’t need to be reading blogs.

Anyway, today we heard the anticipated news that Los Angeles will soon see Cardinal Mahoney replaced with San Antonio’s Archbishop Jose Gomez. To read all about it, I suggest you head over to Rocco Palmo‘s site, as he is one of the few bloggers who actually does know what he’s talking about. In sum, Abp. Gomez is from the “conservative” order of Opus Dei and could be very different from his predecessor, who built a monstrous cathedral (not in a good way) and is known for hosting a Conference that annually provides Youtube clips for Catholics wishing to show others just how bad liturgical abuse can be. I don’t know if that’s very interesting though. While the liturgical element is certainly important, as the “Spirit of Vatican II” types are losing their foremost defender, I think we knew beforehand that Benedict was going install a replacement very different from Mahoney in liturgical views.

More important is how they’re similar.

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