A Disgrace to the Forces of Evil

 

 

Cardinal Newman once opined that to be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant.  Most atheists I have encountered lend support to this adage by their shocking ignorance of the most basic facts of History.  Unlike the atheists of yesteryear, some of whom could be quite challenging with their knowledge of History, most contemporary atheists are so ignorant of History that debating them is to engage in instruction rather than debate.  John C. Wright, a science fiction author and convert from atheism to Catholicism, encounters one of the new breed of ignorant atheists:

 

 

Hmph. I just came across another antieducated sophophobe who declared there to be a war between science and faith, especially the Roman Catholic Church.

I asked him to name the Papal Bull or Encyclical, or any other official document of the Church prohibiting or condemning the practice of scientific inquiry. He did not know what a ‘bull’ was.

I asked him if he knew anything about science and the history of science, and he said yes. I asked him for the evidence of any Catholic interference, or even lack of enthusiastic support, for any scientific inquiry of any kind, in any time or place?

He mentioned Galileo. I asked him if he knew the circumstances of Galileo’s trial, or what Galileo was accused of? He said no. I asked him if he knew who Cardinal Bellarmine was. He said no.

I asked him if he had read Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences? He did not even know what the book was, much less who the characters in it were, or what positions in the contemporary debates they represented.

(Do I need to mention that I read this book in school? I went to a good school, where the education is what mathematicians call a ‘positive sum game’ that is, I ended up more educated than when I went in. His school left him with less education than when he went in.)

I did not bother to ask him if he knew what, precisely, Galileo had discovered, or what proofs he gave to support his various theories.

I did not ask him to tell me what the Galilean satellites were, much less name them (off the top of my head: Io, Europa, Callisto, Ganymede. If I am wrong, and Amalthea is one of them, shame on me. If got them in order, more to my glory.)

Calibrating my questions to the level of someone without a Saint John’s College level of education,  I asked him if he knew who Abertus Magnus, William of Ockham, Roger Bacon, Nicholas Steno were. He said no.

I asked him who invented the mechanical escapement used in clockwork. Or when. He did not know what mechanical escapement was. (Villard de Honnecourt circa 1237, in case you are wondering.)

Recalibrating my question to the high school level, I asked him if he knew who Pascal was, Copernicus, Descartes. He said no. Mendel. No. Still no.

He then told me that all the European inventions in mathematics and medicine came from the Muslim world. I asked him if he knew where Andalusia was, or when the Reconquista happened. Did not recognize those terms. I asked him what religion the people were in the lands conquered by the Muslims in the Seven, Eighth, and Ninth Centuries, et cetera? He guessed that they were some sort of pagans.

I did not bother to ask him if he knew who Abu Hamid al-Ghazali was.

He did not even know enough to raise and throw into my face the old, tired, and oft- efuted slander about Hypatia the neoplatonic philosopher (always described as a female scientist) being flayed to death by a Christian mob wielding sharpened clamshells.

In other words, I could have argued in favor of the War between Science and the Church better than he. He had not even memorized his side’s own talking points.

He was a disgrace to the forces of evil. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Fifth Chances

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

 

From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:

VATICAN––It was reported earlier this week that an outgoing Argentinian born man, whose every single word is misconstrued and misrepresented by friends in the media, has for some reason, resolved to give them an additional 12,000 more words to have fun with. “If you think about it, what’s the worst that could happen?” said the man as he neglected to write down even just a handful of key statements that he could use during the interview so as to avoid the chance that someone misunderstand what he trying to say. “Sure, up till now every single, solitary word or sentence I’ve said, be it from the pulpit or plane, has allowed those who hate the Church to twist the meaning of what I actually meant…but you know, I believe in fifth chances.” At press time, the man has agreed upon an upcoming Mad Libs type interview with MSNBC, in which he would send the media outlet a dozen thousand word statement about Catholic moral teaching, with select words and sentences removed to allow easier room to misrepresent. Continue reading

John Wayne and the Sands of Iwo Jima

 

 They told me to get you into shape so you can handle a piece of this war.

That’s what I’m gonna do and that means I’m gonna tell you what to do every day,

how to button your buttons and when to blow your noses.

If you do something I don’t like I’m gonna jump and when I land it’ll hurt.

I’ll ride you until you can’t stand up. When you do, you’ll be marines.

John Wayne as  Sgt. John M. Stryker, Sands of Iwo Jima

Something for the weekend.  The Marines’ Hymn.  Seventy years ago the battle of Iwo Jima was underway as the Marines took a giant step forward towards Tokyo.  The film  Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) earned John Wayne his first Oscar nomination as best actor.  (Broderick Crawford would win for his stunning performance in All The King’s Men.)   Wayne was initially reluctant to take the role, partly because he had not fought in World War II, and partly because he saw script problems and didn’t like the character of Sergeant Styker as initially written in the screen play.  (There is evidence that Wayne, 34 at the time of Pearl Harbor, and with 3 kids, did attempt to volunteer in 1943 for the Marine Corps with assignment to John Ford’s OSS Field Photographic Unit, but was turned down.) 

Wayne was convinced to take the role because the film had the enthusiastic backing of the Marine Corps, which viewed it as a fitting tribute to the Marines who fought in the Pacific, and to help combat a move in Congress to abolish the Corps.  Marine Commandant Clifton B. Cates went to see Wayne to request that he take the role and Wayne immediately agreed.  (Thus began a long association of John Wayne with the Marine Corps, including Wayne narrating a tribute to Marine Lieutenant General Chesty Puller.)

Appearing in the film were several Marine veterans of the Pacific, including Colonel David Shoup, who earned a Medal of Honor for his heroism at Tarawa, and who would later serve as a Commandant of the Corps, and Lieutenant Colonel Henry Crow who led a Marine battalion at Tarawa.  The Marines’ Hymn is sung in the film after the death of Wayne’s character, one of ten films in which a Wayne character died, and as the raising of the flag is recreated.

Taking part in the flag raising were Rene Gagnon, Ira Hayes and John Bradley, the three survivors of the six flag raisers.  (The three men who raised the flag and subsequently died in the battle were Franklin Sousely, Harlon Block and Michael Strank.)  (First Lieutenant Harold Schrier, who led the flag raising party that raised the first, smaller, flag on Mount Suribachi, and who was awarded a Navy Cross and a Silver Star for his heroism on Iwo Jima, also appeared in the film.)  The flag on top of Mount Suribachi could be seen across the island, and was greeted with cheers by the Marines and blaring horns by the ships of the Navy.  A mass was said on Mount Suribachi at the time of the flag raising and I have written about that here. Continue reading

Marie Harf: State Department Airhead Talking Head

 

When Chris Matthews is the voice of reason you know you are in trouble.  Marie Harf, that walking testament to the fact that it is often difficult to tell the Obama administration from a Saturday Night Live skit, has apparently lost a promotion due to her concern for the “root causes” of the Islamic death cult ISIS:

Not so fast! The Daily Mail reports that Harf’s “jobs for jihadis” campaign has made her such a laughingstock that she will be passed over:

Marie Harf, the embattled State Department deputy spokeswoman who insisted this week that helping ISIS jihadis find gainful employment was a better strategy than killing them, is not in line for a promotion when her boss moves to the White House on April 1, a State Department official said Thursday.

Harf said Monday night on MSNBC that “lack of opportunity for jobs” in the Middle East should be America’s focus in the war against the ISIS terror army. She refused to back down Tuesday night on CNN, insisting that the Obama administration should “get at the root causes” of terrorism. “It might be too nuanced an argument for some,” she sniped at her legions of critics.

Those mockworthy moments, a State Department official said Thursday, “are going to keep her from the top job.”

“Jen’s move to the White House isn’t something that happened overnight,” the official said, “and Marie’s TV appearances were an audition of sorts, a test run, and she failed spectacularly.”

We can’t argue with that. Still, Psaki set a low bar, and if the administration was looking for someone to follow in her footsteps, it is hard to see why Harf wasn’t the perfect choice.

 

untitled

 

 

Continue reading

Gator’s Back on the Menu

 

 

 

Father Z advises us of this taste treat for our Lenten repasts:

 

:

I have posted on this in the past, but repetita iuvant as we say in Latin.

ORIGINAL:

Someone sent me a copy of a letter written by the Archbishop of New Orleans to a member of his flock about eating alligator during Lent.  The answer is “yes”.  You may eat alligator during Lent.

This is old news to readers of this blog, of course.  Last year I posted this, which ought to have settled the whole thing:

QUAERITUR: Abstinentia de carne lacertina aut crocodrillina

Ex lectoris e-pistulis extractum:

Reverendo patro Ioanni Zuhlsdorfo discipulus C. salutem et commemorationem in precibus suis. Gratias meas, sivis, ob opum tuam tibi agere volo. [Acceptae.] Mihi, catholico iuveni et discipulo in collegio liberalum artis et liberalum (aut impudicarum) mentum, scripturae tuae magnam auxilium fuerunt. Mox Ludovicianam meabo. Quaeritur: Sineturne corpus alligatoris feria VI in Quadregesima sine violando abstinentiam Quadragesimae edere?

Ossificatus manualista impoenitens respondeo de paginis Compendii Theologiae Moralis (Sabetti-Barrett) n. 331, :

Nomine carnis veniunt omnia animalia in terra viventia ac respirantia, ut communiter admittunt theologi ex regula tradita a S. Thoma vel, ut S. Alphonsus innuit, n. 1011, animalia quae sanguinem habent calidum; vel illud quod consuetudo regionis ut carnem habet; vel, si nec consuetudo praesto sit, dubium solvi potest considerando mentem Ecclesiae in sanciendo delectu ciborum, ut comprimendae ac minuendae carnis concupiscentiae per salutarem abstinetiam consuleret; examinetur, an huiusmodi animal simile sit aut dissimile iis quorum esus interdictus est et an illius carnes humano corpori validius nutriendo et roborando idoneae dignoscantur; et si ita appareat, ista caro inter vetitas est ponenda. Benedict XIV., De syn. dioec., lib.11, c. 5, n. 12. Haec quatuor multum deservient omni dubitationi solvendae.

Ergo, crocodrilli et lacertae inter reptilia sunt et amphibia.

Edi ergo possunt feriis sextis et tempore Quadragesimae

Omnibus tamen diebus ab eis edimur!

So, there you have it.

You can eat alligator and crocodile on Fridays of Lent.

Continue reading

Are You Now, Or Have You Ever Been, A Libertarian?

 

Libertarians

 

As faithful readers of this blog know, I have absolutely no use for the late Ayn Rand, a  puerile novelist who got rich on the formula of writing didactic libertarian novels like Atlas Shrugged, and filling them with smut at a time when smutty mainstream novels were still a rarity.  I also have little use for libertarians, the perfect political philosophy for fifteen year old nerds.  However, , at The Stream, is quite correct about a new form of “red baiting” going on in Saint Blog’s today:

 

Today Catholic circles are seeing the exact same tactic, except that now the use of guilt-by-association and false implication is serving the cause of big-government statists. The targets are conservative Catholics who distrust the modern secular state, and the smear-word is not “Communist” but “libertarian,” which is then connected with the thought of Ayn Rand. Welcome to the age of the Rand-baiters.

An entire conference held last summer at Catholic University of America was devoted to such Rand-baiting, to speeches that said, implicitly or explicitly, that Catholics who oppose the expansion of government and the large-scale redistribution of wealth are “dissenters” from Catholic Social Teaching. Listening to them speak one would imagine that opposing the leviathan state was a heterodoxy on par with supporting partial-birth abortion and euthanasia. Austin Ruse wrote a fine response to this conference, which provoked a sneering answer from Matthew Boudway at Commonweal.

Go here to read the rest.  Can we supply an example of this Rand Baiting?  Can we?  (Mark, you are missing your cue!)

I am similarly dubious. When I hear Ryan a) ceasing to pretend that he was never an acolyte of Rand and b) doing more than paying lip service to Thomas and citing more than the word “subsidiarity” to give his rhetoric a veneer of Catholic respectability, I will take his Sister Souljah Moment with regard to Rand seriously. Till then, I’m not buyin’ Ryan. He seems to me to be a particularly odious epigone of the Randian Class Warrior against the weak, dressing his class warfare with a few rags from Catholic social teaching to make it look nice. When the Randian jargon goes and is replaced with actual Catholic social teaching beyond the bare repetition of the sacred word “subsidiarity” (interpreted to mean “individualism and hostility to the state”) I’ll start to trust that he is serious. Continue reading

Patheos: Crickets Chirp

 

 

The American Catholic would like to take this opportunity to salute the extensive coverage given by Catholic bloggers on Patheos of the decision of Vatican official Father Thomas Rosica to threaten a defamation suit against blogger Vox Cantoris.  Go here to read about it.  What follows is that coverage:

 

“Crickets chirp.”

 

Way to go Patheos Catholic bloggers!  When something big happens in the Church, it is always news to you!

PopeWatch: Married Priests

 

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

 

I thought that Pope Saint John Paul II had resolved the issue of married priests?  Apparently not, judging from a remark the Pope made on February 10:

 

 

 

Continue reading

Robert Todd Lincoln Goes to War

 

Robert Todd Lincoln

 

A recent biography of Robert Todd Lincoln is entitled Giant in the Shadows and that is an accurate description of him.  One of the foremost attorneys of his day, a noted philanthropist, Secretary of War and Ambassador to the Court of Saint James, he lived a life of accomplishment, and from the election of his father as President, he knew that nothing that he did mattered to History and he would always be remembered for being the son of Abraham Lincoln.  It is hard being the son of a great man, and it is to his credit that Robert did not allow his accident of birth to overwhelm him.  Throughout his life he never ran away from his father and his memory, a man and a memory that he loved.  However, he was intent on being his own man, and his first major action demonstrating this was his desire to enlist in the Union Army.  His father was sympathetic to his desire to fight for his country but was fearful that his wife would lose what often seemed to be a tenuous grasp on sanity if harm should come to Robert and he be added to the ranks of the two Lincoln sons who had already died.  Nevertheless, he sided with Robert and told Mary on several occasions that many families had lost all their sons in the War and that Robert had to obey his conscience and join the Army.  Mary Todd Lincoln knew that it was a “noble and manly” impulse, as she called it, that led her oldest son to want to join the Army, but allowed her fears to long cause her to battle against his desire to serve.  It didn’t help that many of her relatives had already died serving in both the Confederate and Union Armies.

Abraham Lincoln, ever a born compromiser, found a solution which he set forth in a letter to Grant.

 

Lieut. General Grant:

Please read and answer this letter as though I was not President, but only a friend.  My son, now in his twenty second year, having graduated at Harvard, wishes to see something of the war before it ends.  I do not wish to put him in the ranks, nor yet to give him a commission, to which those who have already served long, are better entitled, and better qualified to hold.  Could he, without embarrassment to you, or detriment to the service, go into your Military family with some nominal rank, I, and not the public, furnishing his necessary means?  If no, say so without the least hesitation, because I am as anxious, and as deeply interested, that you shall not be encumbered as you can be yourself.

Yours truly

A. LINCOLN

Grant assured Lincoln that his son would be welcome as an officer on his staff.  On February 11, 1865, Robert joined the Army as an adjutant on Grant’s staff with the rank of Captain.  By all accounts he was a hardworking officer, and well-liked by his fellow staff officers.  He would have preferred a combat assignment, but by that time of the War he was probably more useful where he was.  The Union army had no shortage by the end of the War of seasoned combat officers, and with his Harvard education Robert was probably more useful as a staff officer than as a green officer in a combat command. Continue reading

Sue ‘em!

 

 

Hmm, Father Tom Rosica, the English language assistant to the Holy See Press Office at the Vatican, is threatening to sue blogger Vox Cantoris.  Go here to read the letter from Rosica’s attorneys threatening such action.  Well, I wonder if this will be the way in future that the current powers that be at the Vatican deal with criticism?  Perhaps they have a new translation of Matthew 5: 11 that goes something like this:

Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake: because then ye can lawyer up and sueth the pants off the bastards.

Not Christian and not smart.  The Vatican has just started a brawl with all Catholic bloggers other than the most sycophantic.

PopeWatch: On Guard

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

 

The Swiss Guard is apparently taking the threat from ISIS quite seriously:

Rome, February 18 – The commander of Vatican City’s 110-man Swiss Guard said his forces are ready to defend Pope Francis from the terrorist militants of Islamic State (ISIS), in an interview with Italian daily Il Giornale on Wednesday.
    “Following the terrorists’ threats, we’re asking the guards to be more attentive and observe peoples’ movements closely. We can’t do more than that. If something happens we’re ready, as are the men of the Gendarmerie,” Colonel Christoph Graf said.
    Graf was recently promoted from the number-two spot under Colonel Daniel Rudolf Anrig, who left the top post on January 31 after eight years when Pope Francis sacked him in December amidst reports of Anrig being “overly dictatorial”.
    The Pontifical Swiss Guard has been providing protection for the pope since the 15th century and is Vatican City’s de facto military force, while the Gendarmerie Corps are the Vatican City’s police and security force.
    In a ISIS video released on Sunday showing the killings of 21 Egyptian Christian workers, an executioner said, “We will conquer Rome, by Allah’s permission”.
    Security at the Vatican remains “very high”, Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said Tuesday after bilateral talks with the Holy See including discussion of security. Continue reading

A Litany For Our Times

Saint Lawrence of Brindisi

 

 

Saint Lawrence was born in Brindisi in 1559.  God was doubtless chuckling when at the baptismal font he was given the name Julius Caesar by his parents. In 1575 he joined the Capuchins.  Due to his sharp mind and wonderful memory he excelled in his philosophical studies.  It was said of him that he knew  not only all the languages of Europe but most of those of the Near East.  He could quote from the entire Bible purely by memory.  He became a celebrated preacher, noted for making converts of non-Christians and the most obdurate of sinners.  He opened houses of his Order in France and Germany.  In 1602 he was made Vicar General of the Capuchins.  Made chaplain of the Imperial armies in 1601, in the attacks on Albe-Royal in Hungary where 18,000 Christians confronted 80,000 Turks, he placed himself ever in the forefront of the army in the midst of the fighting, armed only with a crucifix:  “Forward!” he cried, showing them the crucifix, “Victory is ours.” The army and its general ascribed the victory to God and to Father Lawrence.  Sent to evangelize Germany he converted many Protestants with his great learning, kindliness and the miracles that ever attended him throughout his life.  He was beatified in 1783, coincidentally the year of victory for the Americans in their Revolution.  In 1959 Pope John proclaimed him the thirtieth Doctor of the Church.

 

Here is a litany for Saint Lawrence written in 1919.  It speaks strongly to our time. Continue reading

For Old, Unhappy, Far-Off Things, and Battles Long

Will no one tell me what she sings?—
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago:
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day?
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
That has been, and may be again?

William Wordsworth, The Solitary Reaper

 

 

An interesting collection in the video above of photos of Civil War generals during and after the War.  As the Civil War was drawing to a close one hundred and fifty years ago, the hundreds of thousands of photographs taken during the War ensured that it would not be remembered as other conflicts had been remembered.  Unlike, say, the American Revolution, the reality of the War would not be sweetened by a few score paintings that would fix the War visually in historical memory.    Unthinkable in 1865, even when the millions of men who had fought in the War were all dust, the photographs would remain to show a small part of what they saw.  John Adams, who feared that the true history of the American Revolution was lost forever and that posterity was being given myths instead of truths regarding the great times he lived through, would have hailed the advent of photography as helping to preserve some of the reality of the stubborn facts of history. Continue reading

Creepy Joe

Creepy Joe

Our beloved National Clown and Veep Joe Biden can’t keep his paws off the ladies.   The picture above is from the swearing in ceremony of the Secretary of Defense.  His poor wife looks visibly uncomfortable.  Biden apparently does this to every female he encounters.  I agree with a commenter at Hot Air as to how I would react to this.

 

 

 

Even without any violence, after seeing the shots made while he was giving his acceptance speech, if it were me I’d talk to my wife and find out what she thought the deal was… and if there was any indication at all that it was what it looked like, at the very least if I were him I would very publicly and loudly resign, and give my reasons why.

No, I’m not waiting for my successor to be sworn in. I’d make it known that the Secret Service is the only thing that keep me from showing up at his door with a baseball bat. And I’d make sure the media got to hear the same line from me again and again:

“My integrity is not for sale, Mr. Vice President, and neither is my wife.”

I’d suddenly have the support of every conservative in the country, probably all the moderates, probably even a fair number of feminists, and every male in the US who had any self-respect and any affection for his significant other regardless of their politics…including a fair number of his Secret Service detail, although they wouldn’t be allowed to say or do anything to indicate it. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Merchants of Death

 

 

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

In a Mass for the Copts martyred by ISIS, Pope Francis took the opportunity to miss the point again:

 

As he prepared to begin Mass in the Santa Marta Chapel, the Pope invited the congregation to join him in prayer for ‘our brother Copts, whose throats were slit for the sole reason of being Christian, that the Lord welcome them as martyrs, for their families, for my brother Tawadros, who is suffering greatly’.

He then prayed: “Be my protector, O God, a mighty stronghold to save me. For you are my rock, my stronghold! Lead me; guide me, for the sake of your name”.

Monday evening the Pope had made a personal phone call to Patriarch Tawadros, who is the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria, to express his sorrow at the brutal murder.

During his homily the Pope spoke of man’s capability for evil and destruction and condemned what he termed ‘merchants of death’, business people who sell arms to those at war, furthering a cycle of hate, fratricide and violence.  Continue reading

Larry and Ash Wednesday

ash_wednesday

(I will be reposting this each Ash Wednesday.)

My late son Larry always seemed to enjoy Ash Wednesday.  Two years ago in 2013 I went up with him to receive ashes.  He heard the traditional admonition:  “Remember man thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.” and had the ashes placed on his forehead.  He then did the normal circle turn that he did after receiving Communion, and we went back to our pew.

Little did we know that this would be Larry’s last Ash Wednesday.  He died in the wee hours of Pentecost in 2013 of a seizure.  (On that dreadful date I said to my wife that one of the greatest gifts God has given us in this life is our inability to see the future.)  Now Larry’s physical body is well on its way back to dust, awaiting the Resurrection when it will be reunited with his soul.

Larry is now in the land which knows not Ash Wednesday, but only Eternal Easter, and we are left to experience this Ash Wednesday without him.  I have always found Ash Wednesday to be a bleak day and it will be much bleaker yet without my son.  However, Ash Wednesday, like death, is not the end, but merely a beginning.  As Ash Wednesday is the portal to Easter, death is the portal to eternal life. 

Saint Paul noted almost 2000 years ago that if our hope in Christ was limited to this life only that Christians were the most pitiable of men, and that those who slept in Christ would then be the deadest of the dead.  Our hope, however, is not limited to this brief sojourn through this Vale of Tears.  Christ taught us to call God Father to remind us all that we are children of a loving God.  His resurrection revealed to us that God’s mercy and love is not limited to this world, but is for all eternity to those who love God and our neighbor. Continue reading

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