Grant, a failure all of his life except for war, marriage and his last valiant race with the Grim Reaper to finish his memoirs and provide for the financial security of his family; seemingly a dull plodder, but possessed of iron determination and an uncanny ability to never let the trees obscure the forest; happily married and a firm believer in God, but subject to bouts of depression, usually when his wife was absent, when he would grasp for the bottle; the shabby little man who won the greatest war in American history.
On March 24, 1865 Grant sent out his movement order for the Army of the Potomac and the Army of the James. Grant planned a vast move to the west to force Lee to come out of his entrenchments to avoid Grant outflanking him on his right. While this was going on, Sheridan would strike with the Union cavalry to sever the rail lines linking Richmond and Petersburg to the dwindling remainder of the Confederacy. Grant planned for the movement to begin on March 29, 1865, taking advantage of the good weather that had dried the roads. The Appomattox campaign was about to begin. Continue reading
- Was Jesus a nonviolent pacifist?
– Kids climbing on a statue by the Vietnam War Memorial? End of civilization as we know it or no big deal? Or maybe something in between.
- Who says economics can’t be exciting? Well, pretty much everyone, but it can be enlightening.
The best way to (in Barack Obama’s 2008 words to Joe the Plumber) “spread the wealth around,” is, Tamny argues, “to leave it in the hands of the wealthy.” Personal consumption absorbs a small portion of their money and the remainder is not idle. It is invested by them, using the skill that earned it. Will it be more beneficially employed by the political class of a confiscatory government?
– On a related note, James Lileks on the power of the Apple watch. He takes some fun shots at those who lament the unequal distribution of goodies.
It’s so different today. Every morning an executive in a $100,000 car is driving through the housing projects, when suddenly he really, you know, looks around for once, and understands. Like the hero of Metropolis, he clasps his hands to his breast and cries out with his newfound solidarity with the toiling and the idle. Half of these guys pull over, toss someone the keys, and take the bus the rest of the way. So if you put them in cars where they can’t look out, they will never develop social conscience. Also, all personal jets should have glass bottoms and fly at a maximum altitude of 750 feet.
– Chefs weigh in on the central question of our time? Is Chicago style deep dish pizza even pizza?
I’ve never been a fan. I feel like it’s a lasagna with a crust.
Bread with tomato sauce is how I’d describe it. But to each his own.
Anyone looking at photographs of Lincoln in 1860 and 1865 can’t help but see how much the War aged him. By March 1865 Grant thought that Lincoln could use some time away from Washington, and suggested to him that he visit Grant at his headquarters at City Point, Virginia on the James River. Lincoln readily agreed and on March 23, 1865 left for City Point, along with his wife and Tad. In his last month of life, he would spend eighteen days at City Point. Continue reading
Save ceremony, save general ceremony?
And what art thou, thou idol ceremony?
What kind of god art thou, that suffer’st more
Of mortal griefs than do thy worshippers?
What are thy rents? What are thy comings in?
O ceremony, show me but thy worth!
PopeWatch has a great deal of sympathy for any Pope. Elevated to the throne of Peter, a normal life is gone forever, and so many simple things become impossible for them. This was demonstrated by Pope Francis in this poignant story:
After revealing earlier this month that he missed being able to grab a slice of pizza in peace, Francis received a delicious surprise from an Italian pizzeria on Saturday — a handcrafted pie in the Vatican’s colors delivered straight to his popemobile.
“The only thing I’d like to do is to be able to go out one day without anyone recognizing me and go get a pizza,” the pope said during an interview with the Mexican broadcaster Televisa.
Roberto Biscardi, owner of Pizzeria Don Ernesto in Naples, told The Huffington Post that his team jumped into action after hearing the pope’s comment.
“Pizza is the most important food in Naples,” Biscardi wrote to HuffPost. “That was a great occasion for us to give the Pope the love we have for him. He is a great person.”
The pizzeria’s head chef, Enzo Cacialli, used the Vatican’s official colors, white and gold, as inspiration. The pizza was topped with white buffalo mozzarella and yellow cherry tomatoes, with an added layer of fresh ricotta cheese, Biscardi said. With dough, Cacialli spelled out the words “Il Papa.”
In a YouTube video, Cacialli can be seen scrambling over a security barrier to hand the pope his creation. The pope’s vehicle slowed down slightly and Francis grabbed the pie with both hands.
“He said: ‘Thank you, son. I will eat it later,’” Biscardi said.
Or rather no doubt make the ears of his staff ring since I suspect that Bishop Bootkoski will not be picking up the phone himself. The Lepanto Institute is doing what I am sure bishops truly hate: exposing them when they cravenly crawl in reaction to “outrage” when Catholic teaching is supported by a Catholic teacher:
Bishop Paul Bootkoski is playing defense these days, as a series of radio commercials urge Catholic faithful around the country to call the bishop and ask why a Catholic schoolteacher may lose her job for rejecting arguments for gay “marriage” on her private Facebook page.
The Lepanto Institute, headed by Michael Hichborn, aired two radio ads during the Rush Limbaugh’s and Sean Hannity’s radio shows on WOR on two days. “It’s wrong that a Catholic school teacher is fired for defending Catholic teachings on a Facebook post,” he said.
Last Friday’s ad encouraged listeners to “call Bishop Bootkoski now, 732-562-1990” and “ask him whose side he’s on: Catholics who defend our faith or Hollywood liberals who mock it.”
“Tell Bishop Bootkoski to put our values ahead of political correctness,” he said.
Another ad that ran yesterday accused the bishop of “trying to cover up her firing.”
Controversy and confusion has surrounded Patricia Jannuzzi who – depending on whose story you believe – is or was a 57-year-old teacher of theology at Immaculata High School in New Jersey. Continue reading
Salvation to all that will is nigh;
That All, which always is all everywhere,
Which cannot sin, and yet all sins must bear,
Which cannot die, yet cannot choose but die,
Lo, faithful virgin, yields Himself to lie
In prison, in thy womb; and though He there
Can take no sin, nor thou give, yet He will wear,
Taken from thence, flesh, which death’s force may try.
Ere by the spheres time was created, thou
Wast in His mind, who is thy Son and Brother;
Whom thou conceivst, conceived; yea thou art now
Thy Maker’s maker, and thy Father’s mother;
Thou hast light in dark, and shutst in little room,
Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb.
- Today’s manufactured news outrage: Ted Cruz goes on Obamacare.
Inconceivable! How could the most prominent anti-Obamacare Senator buy insurance through Obamacare? Errr, because he basically had to. His wife is going on a leave of absence from her position at Goldman Sachs, so the Cruz family had to make a decision.
Cruz currently gets his insurance through his wife’s plan. That insurance is suspended once she takes a leave of absence to campaign with him, leaving him with three options. He can decline to purchase insurance, which no husband and father with the means to get coverage would ever do. His wife could use COBRA to keep her Goldman Sachs insurance intact for another 18 months, which would cost the family a bunch and would leave them uninsured circa October 2016 when the coverage lapses (assuming Mrs. Cruz hasn’t returned to work by then). Or he can follow the Grassley rule and buy an unsubsidized ObamaCare exchange plan, as federal law requires of members of Congress. Why, oh why, might Cruz prefer what’s behind door number three notwithstanding his ferocious opposition to ObamaCare? Anyone want to guess why a guy running for president as a loud-and-proud populist might choose to subject himself to the same unpopular program that millions of Americans are coping with right now?
As Cruz himself noted, he also wants to abolish the IRS and yet he continues to pay taxes. Double hypocrite!
– I guess “hands up don’t shoot” only garners media attention under certain circumstances.
Two high school freshmen were arrested in connection with the killing of a man walking his dog last week in Philadelphia’s Overbrook section. A third teen, who police say actually pulled the trigger, is still on the loose.
Brandon Smith, 15, was arrested Thursday and charged in the murder of James Patrick Stuhlman, who plead for his life before he was gunned down while walking his dog along the 6400 block of Woodcrest Avenue last Thursday night, police said.
“At one point he did plead for his life,” said Clark. “He said, ‘please don’t shoot me, please don’t shoot me,’ and they still shot him one time.”
Stuhlman usually took his 13-year old daughter with him on these walks. Fortunately she didn’t go this time.
– So we’ve pretty much reached the end of western civilization. It’s been nice knowing you.
“Get Hard” casts Ferrell as a casually racist investment banker brought down for a crime he didn’t commit. To prep for prison, he hires a black car wash attendant (Hart) to teach him how to survive in the Big House. He just assumes Hart’s character is a thug, even though he’s a squeaky clean family man. Let the barrage of racial stereotypes commence.
The movie is evidently poking fun at racism. But you see, poking fun at racism is now, according to the geniuses who are decrying this movie, racist.
Oh, it gets worse.
Another Variety story suggested the fact that Ferrell’s character isn’t eager to perform oral sex on a man might be “homophobic.”
That’s it, I’m tapping out.
– A rather thoughtful rumination by Yuval Levin on the philosophic underpinnings of conservatism and libertarianism.
Conservatism inherently points in this direction for reasons that are anthropological, sociological, and epistemological (if you’ll pardon my street slang). We conservatives tend to see the human person as an incorrigible mass of contradictions: a fallen and imperfect being created in a divine image, a creature possessed of fundamental dignity and inalienable rights but always prone to excess and to sin and ever in need of self-restraint and moral formation. This gives us high standards but low expectations of human affairs and makes us wary of utopianisms of all stripes. It also causes us to be more impressed with successful human institutions than we are outraged at failed ones, and so to be protective of our inheritance and eager to build on the longstanding institutions of our society (rather than engineer new ones) to improve things because they are likely to possess more knowledge than we can readily perceive—and more than any collection of technical experts, however capable, is ever likely to have.
This anthropology informs our sociology. The conservative vision of society is moved by a low opinion of the capacity of individuals to address complex problems even as it is informed by a high regard for the rights and freedoms of those individuals. It therefore seeks for social arrangements and institutions that counterbalance human failures and encourage individual moral progress while respecting human liberty and dignity. And it finds these in the mediating institutions of a free society—families, communities, civic and religious groups, markets, and more—that stand between the individual and the state.
Much more at the link.
– The Curt Jester provides some musings on “Mass Etiquette.” Yep, I’ve had many of these thoughts at Mass as well.
Continuing our series on screen portrayals of Pilate that I began in 2011 during Holy Week. The posts on portrayals of Pilate by Rod Steiger, Richard Boone, Barry Dennen, Hristov Shopov, Telly Savalas, Frank Thring, Stephen Russell, Greg Hicks and Cyril Richard may be viewed here, here, here, here here , here, here, here and here.
Stephen Moyer portrays Pilate in the upcoming National Geographic TV Killing Jesus, which is being shown on Palm Sunday at 7:00 PM Central Time. Based on the book Killing Jesus, by Bill O’Reilly, who improbably has reaped a fortune from Killing Lincoln, Killing Kennedy, Killing Patton and now Killing Jesus, I will watch this and attempt to rid my mind against my settled conviction that O’Reilly is a buffoon and a blowhard of the first order. To be fair I have watched both of the television movies based on Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy and enjoyed both of them.
Stephen Moyer is the first screen portrayal of Pilate in the Screen Pilates series whose performance has not yet been released to the public. I am bringing it to the attention of the blog now, in order for blog readers to watch the film and give their opinions regarding the performance in the combox after the movie. Moyer has described himself as a lapsed atheist so that might add an interesting touch to his portrayal.
From the film clip it appears as if Moyer might be portraying Pilate as a harried politician, but no assessment of the performance will be made by me until after the film when I will update this post.
Well that was disappointing. Moyer played Pilate as a weak man. Throughout the film Caiaphas is putting pressure on him to have Jesus executed. After Jesus is scourged, Pilate says that scourging is enough, and that He may not survive the scourging anyway, since many do not. Caiaphas repeats the demand, Pilate nods weakly, and Jesus is crucified. No second trial before Pilate. No Ecce Homo, no Barabbas and no washing of hands. It was like watching Hamlet in a version where the “To Be or Not to Be” speech is cut. A waste of three hours.
One of the interesting aspects of the current pontificate is how freely conflict within the Church is breaking out into the open. Courtesy of Rorate Caeli, here is the takedown by Cardinal Cordes of Cardinal Marx:
Vatican City. Authorised summary of a letter to the editor of the “Tagespost” from March 7, 2015, in which Paul Josef Cardinal Cordes, former president of the papal work COR UNUM, publicly refutes some statements made by Reinhard Cardinal Marx and Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabrück at the plenary meeting of the German bishops in Hildesheim:
At the last plenary meeting of the German bishops, statements of their president were made public which were neither officially published nor denied by the conference’s secretariat. Since words of the most prominent representative of German Catholics give directions and [since these statements] furthermore caused a stir in the media, it makes sense to publicly contradict some of the positions expressed, also in order to limit the confusion they have caused in several places.In these statements, the president [Marx] noted that in the universal Church ‘certain expectations’ are directed towards Germany. This is astonishing. A poll of the ‘Bertelsmann foundation’ showed that only 16.2 percent of the West-German Catholics believe in almighty God as a person they can encounter, all other Catholics equate ‘God’ with a faceless providence, anonymous fate, or a primordial power – or they simply deny His existence. Therefore we have little reason to boast against churches in other countries about our faith.Moreover, it is not only astonishing that the German Church supposedly enjoys such great respect within Catholicism. More irritating still are the theological blurs and statements, in which the President of the Bishops’ Conference plainly declared that “We are no local branches of Rome. Each Conference is responsible for the pastoral care in its cultural environment and, as it most proper task, has to proclaim the Gospel in its own way.” As a social ethicist Cardinal Marx may know much about the dependency of branches of large corporations. In an ecclesiastical context, such statements should rather be rather left to the village pub.What, however, is meant with the “responsibility” for the “pastoral care in a cultural environment”? Undoubtedly, the President of the German Bishops’ Conference has such competence for questions like the new edition of a hymnal [Gotteslob, new edition recently released in the German-speaking world], or for decisions on pilgrim routes to Altötting [Marian shrine]. However, the debate on the problems of remarried divorcees is another matter. It is bound to theology, which forms its centre. Therefore, even a Cardinal cannot, almost as in a coup, separate pastoral care from doctrine – unless he wants to ignore the meaning of the words of Jesus, which oblige us in Faith, and the binding definitions of the Council of Trent.The fundamental sense of community, a central theological-spiritual foundation upholding the universal Church, seems to be of little relevance in his [Marx’s] statements from Hildesheim, although bishops have promised explicitly such “Unity with the College of Bishops under the Successor of St Peter” at their consecration. The sentence “We cannot wait until a synod tells us how we have to shape pastoral care for marriage and families here” was hardly inspired by the ecclesiastical sense of ‘Communio,’ to say the least. This ‘anti-Roman instinct’ is not the invention of some scholars, but in the North [of Europe] a reality that displays strong centrifugal power. It is destructive to the highest degree to the unity of the Faith.It is, however, also correct that Cardinal Marx is not alone. The chairman of the pastoral commission of the conference, Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, came to his support by demanding that pastoral care and dogma had to cross-fertilise each other. This was supposedly a “historically important” insight, which he even calls a “change of paradigm.” For this purpose he even uses the conciliar constitution ‘Gaudium et Spes,’ where it is written that there was “nothing truly human that did not find an echo in their [i.e. the disciples of Christ] hearts.”From that he deduces that, “not only the Christian message must find an echo with men, but men must find an echo with us.” “In what relation stands the doctrine of the Church today with the everyday life of men? Do we sufficiently integrate the concrete experiences of people into doctrine? A total discrepancy between doctrine and life must not happen.” However, the attempt to deduce the content of Faith from the experience of human life is not as new as is claimed here, and it can especially not claim to be a “change of paradigm”.During the conciliar debate on the relevance of social or ecclesiastical phenomena for the Faith the arguments focused on the biblical expression “signs of the times.” However, the debate of the Council Fathers had as its result that it would be erroneous to discover the “signs of the times” in human life simply as a “source for the Faith”, and they explicitly rejected the embarrassing shortcut that a phenomenon challenging the Church would as such already be a source of the Faith (Locus Theologicus). On the contrary, the Vatican II constitution on “Divine Revelation” leaves no doubt that the Faith of the Catholic Church is nourished by Scripture and ecclesiastical tradition only. Independent of this unambiguous direction it would be paradox to attribute to a small group of members of the Church, who live in a spiritually pitiable but objectively irregular situation, the function of a source of the Faith.This problem does not touch directly most of the members of the Church practicing the Faith. May the pastors assembled in Rome this autumn also instruct these men and women on how their marriage can root them deeper and deeper in the Faith in Jesus Christ, so that they may become for many contemporaries witnesses of God’s power in the life of men. Maybe it will even occur to the synod fathers to express their respect to those who, out of fidelity to the marriage vows once made, do not enter any new union. Also they exist.
On March 25, 1865, the Army of Northern Virginia embarked on its last offensive. Here is the account of John B. Gordon, who commanded the assault on Fort Stedman:
My troops stood in close column, ready for the hazardous rush upon Fort Stedman. While the fraternal dialogue in reference to drawing rations from the cornfield was progressing between the Union picket and the resourceful private at my side, the last of the obstructions in my front were removed, and I ordered the private to fire the signal for the assault. He pointed his rifle upward, with his finger on the trigger, but hesitated. His conscience seemed to get hold of him. He was going into the fearful charge, and he evidently did not feel disposed to go into eternity with the lie on his lips, although it might be a permissible war lie, by which he had thrown the Union picket off his guard. He evidently felt that it was hardly fair to take advantage of the generosity and soldierly sympathy of his foe, who had so magnanimously assured him that he would not be shot while drawing his rations from the little field of corn. His hesitation surprised me, and I again ordered :
“Fire your gun, sir.” He at once called to his kind- hearted foe and said : ” Hello, Yank ! Wake up ; we are going to shell the woods. Look out; we are coming.” And with this effort to satisfy his conscience and even up accounts with the Yankee picket, he fired the shot and rushed forward in the darkness.
As the solitary signal shot rang out in the stillness, my alert pickets, who had crept close to the Union sentinels, sprang like sinewy Ajaxes upon them and prevented the discharge of a single alarm shot. Had these faithful Union sentinels been permitted to fire alarm guns, my dense columns, while rushing upon the fort, would have been torn into fragments by the heavy guns. Simultaneously with the seizing and silencing of the Federal sentinels, my stalwart axemen leaped over our breastworks, closely followed by the selected 300 and the packed column of infantry. Although it required but a few minutes to reach the Union works, those minutes were to me like hours of suspense and breathless anxiety ; but soon was heard the thud of the heavy axes as my brave fellows slashed down the Federal obstructions. The next moment the infantry sprang upon the Union breastworks and into the fort, overpowering the gunners before their destructive charges could be emptied into the mass of Confederates. They turned this captured artillery upon the flanking lines on each side of the fort, clearing the Union breastworks of their defenders for some distance in both directions. Up to this point, the success had exceeded my most sanguine expectations. We had taken Fort Stedman and a long line of breastworks on either side. We had captured nine heavy cannon, eleven mortars, nearly 1000 prisoners, including General McLaughlin, with the loss of less than half a dozen men. One of these fell upon the works, pierced through the body by a Federal bayonet, one of the few men thus killed in the four years of war. I was in the fort myself, and relieved General McLaughlin by assuming command of Fort Stedman.
Daylight was coming. Through the failure of the three guides, we had failed to occupy the three forts in the rear, and they were now filled with Federals. Our wretched railroad trains had broken down, and the troops who were coming to my aid did not reach me. The full light of the morning revealed the gathering forces of Grant and the great preponderance of his numbers. It was impossible for me to make further headway with my isolated corps, and General Lee directed me to withdraw. This was not easily accomplished. Foiled by the failure of the guides, deprived of the great bodies of infantry which Lee ordered to my support, I had necessarily stretched out my corps to occupy the intrenchments which we had captured. The other troops were expected to arrive and join in the
general advance. The breaking down of the trains and the non-arrival of these heavy supports left me to battle alone with Grant’s gathering and overwhelming forces, and at the same time to draw in my own lines toward Fort Stedman. A consuming fire on both flanks and front during this withdrawal caused a heavy loss to my command. Continue reading
- Ted Cruz has announced his candidacy for the presidency, so cue the first round of GOP infighting, of which more is sure to come. I agree with parts of Sean Saffron’s take, though I think he is generally too dismissive of Cruz overall. All things being equal, I would prefer someone with executive experience. That being said, comparisons to Barack Obama are not completely fair. Yes, both men hadn’t served even half a Senate term before announcing their candidacies for the presidency, but that’s where the comparisons end. Barack Obama taught some constitutional law, while Ted Cruz argued cases before the Supreme Court (and won). Barack Obama’s main accomplishment was writing not one, but two autobiographies before actually doing anything of substance. Cruz’s pre-Senate experience dwarfs Obama’s. That doesn’t mean Cruz should be the leading contender, or that his lack of executive experience shouldn’t be an issue, but he’s not the GOP version of Obama.
Then there’s much other silliness regarding Cruz, as he’s attracted his own set of birther nonsense. Sorry, he’s a natural born citizen. Meanwhile Cruz has drawn criticism from such Republican luminaries as Donald Trump and Peter King, the latter of whom opined “So, to me, he is just a guy with a big mouth and no results.”Seriously, Peter King thinks that Ted Cruz has a big mouth and gets no results. Let that sink in. Next up we’ll be hearing from Bill Clinton and his concerns about Cruz possibly being sexually immodest.
– On the other side of the aisle, the Democrats are still wondering who might be able to fill-in in case Hillary bows out. Don’t you worry Democrats, you’ve got a can’t miss front-runner. You know who I’m talking about:
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley will be the choice of New York Democrats for president if Hillary Rodham Clinton is forced out of the race by her State Department e-mail scandal, a prominent Democrat has told The Post.
. . . .
O’Malley, an all-but-announced candidate who was on a campaign swing in Iowa over the weekend, “is the one who I think is going to emerge as the front-runner if Hillary is forced out,’’ said the Democrat, a strong Clinton backer whose views carry considerable weight with party members.
Here it comes.
– The Diocese of Metuchen offers us a real profile in courage.
This week the plot thickens, with the diocese telling the New Jersey press that Jannuzzi has never been told she was fired, and they are “baffled” why anyone (especially Jannuzzi’s family) is suggesting otherwise.
Yesterday, Patricia Jannuzzi’s lawyer finally spoke to the press in response to this statement, and what he said is not pretty for the diocese: “At every point in our discussions the diocesan lawyers told us repeatedly there was no way that Patricia Jannuzzi would ever come back to the Immaculata classroom under any possible scenario,” Oakley told MyCentralJersey.com. “On Thursday by phone, the diocesan lawyers told me clearly and finally that Patricia Jannuzzi would be terminated as of the end of August, end of discussion.”
– What could possibly go wrong by over-coddling our children? They can turn into hyper-sensitive snowflakes who can’t tolerate the idea that someone somewhere is expressing an opinion with which they disagree.
KATHERINE BYRON, a senior at Brown University and a member of its Sexual Assault Task Force, considers it her duty to make Brown a safe place for rape victims, free from anything that might prompt memories of trauma. So when she heard last fall that a student group had organized a debate about campus sexual assault between Jessica Valenti, the founder of feministing.com, and Wendy McElroy, a libertarian, and that Ms. McElroy was likely to criticize the term “rape culture,” Ms. Byron was alarmed. “Bringing in a speaker like that could serve to invalidate people’s experiences,” she told me. It could be “damaging.”
Ms. Byron and some fellow task force members secured a meeting with administrators. Not long after, Brown’s president, Christina H. Paxson, announced that the university would hold a simultaneous, competing talk to provide “research and facts” about “the role of culture in sexual assault.” Meanwhile, student volunteers put up posters advertising that a “safe space” would be available for anyone who found the debate too upsetting.
The safe space, Ms. Byron explained, was intended to give people who might find comments “troubling” or “triggering,” a place to recuperate. The room was equipped with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies, as well as students and staff members trained to deal with trauma. Emma Hall, a junior, rape survivor and “sexual assault peer educator” who helped set up the room and worked in it during the debate, estimates that a couple of dozen people used it. At one point she went to the lecture hall — it was packed — but after a while, she had to return to the safe space. “I was feeling bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against my dearly and closely held beliefs,” Ms. Hall said.
– On the other hand, even some on the left are starting to think this hypersensitive pc stuff has gotten way out of hand.
– Sure “Jackie” may have been completely lying, but her lies reveal much about a deeper truth. Or something.
– Huzzah! Some states are finally starting to see the light about daylight savings time. Unfortunately my state is not among them, and some want to keep it year round rather than jettisoning it altogether.
Perhaps Pope Francis can read this, courtesy of Rorate Caeli, if he can take time out from his climate change encyclical or dealing with the two greatest problems confronting the world in his opinion: lonely geezers and youth unemployment:
Ancient Statues and bas-reliefs were toppled down by bearded men who then proceeded to destroy them by using jackhammers. This is the latest video released by ISIS in Mosul. It is the continuation of a campaign against remnants of the past. Islamic State militants have been blowing up places of worship, feeding flames with books taken from libraries, and destroying a part of Nineveh’s city walls, the ancient Assyrian capital in the outskirts of present-day Mosul. These images, spread by a Twitter account used by the Caliphate, show the methodical destruction perpetrated in the rooms of what looks like a museum in Mosul. During the five-minute long video, we notice museum labels in Arabic and English describing exhibited artefacts. It is because of this that we have recorded the comments of Mons. Luigi Negri, the Archbishop of Ferrara-Comacchio.
I hope that the technological means which our society uses – and oftentimes abuses – can vividly preserve for future generations the images of such terrible scenes of barbarism which we have been able to see “live” in different parts of the world. This is rage, much more demented than barbaric, against the artistic expressions of one of the greatest ages of world culture, which have been handed down with devotion and respect from one generation to another, from one culture to another, from one civilization to another. And so culture and civilization are not exclusive, unlike the case of this horrendous ideology, even if it is religious. Culture and Civilization are inclusive and even know how to incorporate cultural and historical realities not born from the limitations of their proper milieu; thereby becoming all the more enriched.
It has rightly occurred to those few men of culture who yet still exist in this weak society, the great Catholic tradition which for ages and ages has welcomed the expressions of classical culture, both Greek and Roman, and then later on of other traditions even of the Far East.
It is enough to recall the passionate dedication, for example, with which the Benedictine school and later on, the Cistercian, have received, guarded, copied, recopied, and commented on the documents of classical tradition. It is this movement of reception and greater understanding that has produced the great culture of monasteries, of convents, and then of great universities, as taught to us in an incomparable manner by the great Fr. Chenu, and in Italy by the renowned Don Inos Biffi.
This capacity of reception, of respect, of greater understanding has been crushed. Its vilest expression is the destruction of the diverse. In reality as well, we Europeans have experienced this. We have seen before our very eyes the destruction of preceding traditions perpetrated, for example, by the French Revolution which European secularism still considers an undisputed point of departure. Regrettably, it is not only the secularists but it is also a certain sector of the Catholic world that considers the French Revolution as an unsurpassable event for the good.
In advance, the West has seen its own end. In the tragedy brought to completion within Mosul’s beautiful museum which preserved the highest masterpieces of artistry from a great culture; the West sees the death of its very own civilization which was called to mind in an unequalled manner by Benedict XVI in his misunderstood Regensburg address. The great Western Civilization is a civilization in which myriad ways of life, of thought, of customs have known and know how to encounter, understand, value, and contend with each other if necessary, for the sake of developing human life and history which is the mark of a civilization.
This civilization, whether we like it or not, is now ending if it has not truly and already ended. The horizon is marred by the black flag of the Caliphate, under which lies dead the freedom of conscience and of the heart, of movement, the liberty to live in a dignified way, and to profess one’s own convictions in a free and responsible manner.
This atrocity, all atrocities have been transformed into casual occurrences by the surreal fantasies of western man. He can quickly read of them in newspapers or on social networks; news headlines flashing at the bottom of the television while he eats tranquilly; as if they were current events from another world.
Civilization has ended. A society on the brink of death would not even have the capacity to initiate an authentic and critical examination of its own life. If it would do so, what shall be unveiled are all those who, knowingly or unknowingly, have arranged and continue to prepare in more diverse ways its own death. These are all those who have persecuted dialogue beyond all limits; all those who deep inside themselves have more fear of the Christian Faith than the barbarism of fundamentalist Islamic Ideology. Maybe, the responsibility can be claimed, above all, by all those who have apostatized; while apostatizing from Christ, they have apostatized from themselves. Since man is always intimately linked to a society; by apostatizing from themselves, they have destroyed civilization.
Few generals in American history have been as aggressive as Robert E. Lee. Faced with a hopeless military situation in March of 1865, he decided that he had no alternative but to launch an attack. His starving army was down to 50,000 men, and with the lines around Petersburg and Richmond so extensive, when Grant began to move with an army nearly three times the size of Lee’s it did not take a military genius to realize that he would break Lee’s lines. However, if Lee could break Grant’s lines first, it might buy Lee time. Grant would perhaps consolidate his lines around the breakthrough and delay his Spring offensive. That might give General Joseph E. Johnston sufficient time to march up ahead of Sherman from North Carolina and link up with Lee. At that time Lee could attempt to defeat Sherman and then Grant seriatim. The plan relied far too much on hopes and wishes, but other than surrender, it was the best of the bleak options facing Lee. Continue reading
Starbucks, that purveyor of overpriced beverages by underpaid workers, decided last week to have a “conversation” on race with its customers, and after an avalanche of ridicule they have ended it.
Howard D. Schultz, the chief executive of Starbucks, said in a letter to employees on Sunday that baristas would no longer be encouraged to write the phrase “Race Together” on customers’ coffee cups, drawing to a close a widely derided component of the company’s plan to promote a discussion on racial issues.
Having baristas write on customers’ cups, Mr. Schultz wrote, “which was always just the catalyst for a much broader and longer-term conversation — will be completed as originally planned today, March 22.”
That end date had not previously been mentioned publicly, including during Mr. Schultz’s discussion of the initiative at the company’s annual shareholders meeting last week, but a company spokeswoman, Laurel Harper, said employees had been told about it.
Asked whether Starbucks was reacting to criticism, Ms. Harper said, “That is not true at all. When we initially began the Race Together initiative, what we wanted to do is spark the conversation, because we believe that is the first step in a complicated issue.”
The initiative, which began last week, was mocked with such vehemence on social media that the company’s senior vice president for global communications deleted his Twitter account because, as he wrote on Medium, he felt “personally attacked in a cascade of negativity.” Continue reading
 Then he shall say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels.
Matthew 25: 41
Yet another fruit of Pope Francis’ policy of giving interviews and then never giving any sort of explanation after the feathers hit the fan. From Mahound’s Paradise:
On to the Scalfari piece. It’s an editorial reflection in La Repubblica on what the journalist wants to see happen in the Church, so it’s not a new interview, per se. But he includes a part where he describes the Pope’s thoughts on the issue. Here is the relevant passage:
[…] Whoever has had the grace to meet Pope Francis knows that the egoism of the most dangerous enemy of our species. The animal is selfish because it is only guided by his instincts, the most important thing is their own survival. Man is also driven by socializing and he therefore feels love towards the other, in addition to the survival of the species to which he belongs. If egoism wins the upper hand and the love for others is suffocated, it darkens the divine spark which is in him and condemns himself.
What happens to these extinct souls? Will they be punished? And how?
Francis’ answer is unambiguous and clear: There is no penalty but the annihilation of that soul. All others live on to share the the happiness in the presence of the Father. The extinguished souls have no part in this feast, with the death of the body is its end and this is the motivation of the missionary Church: to save the lost. This is also the reason why Francis is through and through, a Jesuit. […]
This theological view is called Annihilationism, by the way, and it is the view of some sincere Protestant Christians. In fairness, it has some Biblical support (though I think the weight of Biblical evidence is strongly against it.) But it has never been a teaching of the Catholic Church. Indeed, it is a clear heresy. The current Catechism of the Church states:
(1035) The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, “eternal fire.” (Matthew 25:41) The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.
I have a unique perspective in writing this review for the movie; Do You Believe? In full disclosure, the screenwriters, Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman have become friends of mine. I met them about three years back while giving a talk at Family Theater in Hollywood, the old stomping grounds of the Rosary Priest, Father Patrick Peyton.
Later they took my wife and me to dinner after they read a screenplay of mine and expressed further interest in it. At the time, they were getting into the faith based arena after years of working with likes of Sylvester Stallone among others in more action themed movies. I was very impressed with their humility and their desire to want to become better Catholics. They did the all the right things, helping those in need and going to Mass and Confession as much as possible. Needless, to say that sort of humility is in very short supply in Hollywood. They had no big projects in the works and didn’t seem bothered by it. “We just trust in the Lord, He will supply our needs,” said Cary Solomon.
Their continued hard work, despite any faith based success may have culminated in what St. John of the Cross called the Dark Night of the Soul, before their leap into faith based entertainment bared any fruit. That hunger and passion for others to see the truth is evident in their films. Then a couple of years ago they told me they were working on a film, God’s Not Dead, which came out of nowhere and was the biggest grossing independent film of 2014. They had already begun work on Do You Believe before the success of God’s Not Dead was even realized.
In Do You Believe, we have a cast of divergent characters from various ages, racial and socio-economic backgrounds facing various life changing predicaments. We are blessed to have a star studded cast, with likes of Academy Award winning actress Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite etc) and other well known stars such as Sean Astin (Rudy, Lord of the Rings etc.) and fan favorites like Cybil Shepherd, Lee Majors, Ted McGinley. In addition there are rising stars such as the rapper Shwayze, Senyou Amoaku, Madison Pettis, Valerie Dominquez and former NFL bad boy Brian Bosworth.
Ted McGinley plays an Evangelical pastor named (Matthew) who ministers to a diverse flock of in Chicago. Pastor Matthew has his world rocked when he is asked by an elderly African American street preacher (Delroy Lindo) Do You Believe in the Cross of Christ? Pastor Matthew then witnessed the elderly street preacher confront a group of street thugs who attempt to steal a van. They threaten to shoot the elderly street preacher while he tells them that Jesus died so they would live a better way. Pastor Mathew relates what he has seen to his flock. He goes on to say that they must truly live the Christian life. In proving their sincerity, Pastor Matthew and his wife take in a homeless young pregnant woman.
The flock begins to fearlessly live their Christian lives; some take the needy into their homes, while others see their jobs threatened for not watering down their Christian beliefs. All of their lives build up and cross in a dramatic crescendo late one dark and rainy night. The cast plays their part to a tee; the rapper Schwayze plays a reluctant street thug who turns from a life of crime and tries to persuade others who simply laugh and threaten him.
Lee Majors character (J.D) is a wise old sage trying to help his heartbroken wife played by Cybil Shepherd deal with the death of their grown daughter. Brian Bosworth may be the surprise of the film, playing a dying ex-con who takes in a homeless mother and daughter. The former college football and NFL bad boy may well be living out a life of redemption before our very lives.
Two of the more interesting roles are played by Sean Astin (Dr. Farell) and Andrea Logan White (Andrea.) Moviegoers, especially those who enjoy sports themed movies will remember Astin for his role in Rudy. The everyman’s hero for his years of being plowed into the ground daily on the Notre Dame football practice squad, only to be given a chance to suit up for a game and be carried off the field after an improbable tackle.
Astin (Dr. Farell) plays an ego maniacal doctor who gets perturbed every time he sees a patient show any signs of religious beliefs. His only solace is his power attorney, money and prestige obsessed girlfriend, Andrea (Andrea Logan White.) They both spend what little free time they have stroking their egos and belittling the hapless religious believers they are forced to endure.
In the past faith based movies have been criticized for low budgets, poor scripts and little known actors and actresses. Obviously not the case here, as we are treated to a screenplay with many twists and turns from a star studded cast. I knew that to be the case when a sequence that included a pro-life adoption undertow was noticeable. I could see tears in my wife’s eyes as the message hit close to home for us. Continue reading
My bride and I attended the book sale of the Normal Public Library in Normal, Illinois on Friday March 20, 2015 to feed my bibliophilia addiction. For $50.00 my bride and I picked up quite a few books. She got several books and magazines on crocheting, she being on a crocheting crusade for the past two years. (I have to stay on the move in my house, lest I be covered over in afghans.) I thought there might be some mild interest in the books I picked out, and here they are:
1. Frontsoldaten by Stephen G. Fritz (1995)-A look at the common frontline soldiers of the Wehrmacht, and a tome that underlines this maxim of the British Army-Those who have not fought the Germans do not know war.
2. Hard Magic (2011) and Monster Hunter Vendetta (2010) both by Larry Correia. I have heard good things about science fiction/fantasy author Correia, but these will have been the first of his books I have read.
3. Hitler’s Renegades by Christopher Ailsby- (2004)-An interesting look at the non-German troops who fought with the Third Reich. The section on the Spanish Azul (Blue) division was a bit brief for my taste however.
4. Art in the Third Reich by Berthold Hinz-(1979)-Proof positive that most art produced under the auspices of the Third Reich can be described in two words: banal kitsch.
5. The Ancient Near Eastern Tradition by Milton Covensky-(1966)-Part of the Major Traditions of World Civilization, one of those multi-volume looks at world history which were all the rage in the sixties.
6. The Mughal World by Abraham Eraly-(2007)-A look at life in Mughal India by perhaps the foremost expert on that period.
7. Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey The River of Doubt by Candice Millard-(2005)-A masterful look at the Amazonian expedition of 1913-14 that almost killed Roosevelt.
8. History of the Byzantine Empire, vol. II, by AA Vasiliev-(1952)-I have always thought the best Byzantinists have been Russians, and perhaps the greatest of them was Vasiliev who emigrated from Russia in 1925 and who taught in the US for years.
9. Samuel Pepys Diary by Samuel Pepys-A Random House edition of selections from the diary of Pepys. Pepys was something of a rotter but he is never dull. At random on a page I see three passages. On the first he thanks God that it has been three years since he had a kidney operation to cut out a stone and that he is still free from pain. (I can empathize with his joy.) In the next passage he listens to a preacher at church who preaches like a fool. Finally he visits a friend, notes that his servant girl is pretty and searches her out for a kiss.
10. A History of French Literature by L. Cazamian-(1955)-A book that I trust will remedy my bone ignorance on the subject. Continue reading