One of the reactions of PopeWatch to the Green Encyclical is bloat. The whole thing could have weighed in at 50 pages without any loss of content. The committee who put this together needed a good editor. As a public service, PopeWatch will now provide a slimmed down version of the Encyclical.
1.Saint Francis liked the environment and so should we.
2.The world is in a sad shape from pollution and it is our fault.
3.This encyclical is as important as Pacem in Terris that was released in 1963.
4.The Pope cites Pope Paul VI on the environment so that you won’t think he is a hippie Pope off on his own hook.
5.Ditto as to Pope John Paul II.
5.Ditto as to Pope Benedict.
6.The Pope cites Patriarch Bartholomew because he is an environmental alarmist like the Pope and because modern pontiffs never miss an opportunity to suck up to the Orthodox, even though they all tell us to take a hike eventually when it comes to reunification.
9.Let’s drag Saint Francis back in and ahistorically paint him as an enviro-nut.
10.More Saint Francis.
11.More Saint Francis.
12.More Saint Francis.
13.Man made harm to environment is a big problem and we all need to work together to solve it.
14.If you think this whole environmental doom and gloom is idiocy you are in denial and part of the problem. Continue reading
I have been viewing with some mirth the joy of the Left in regard to the release of the Green Encyclical. Prior to Pope Francis, most of those celebrating were intensely hostile to the papacy, viewing it as enemy number one on their path to the ever elusive socialist utopia. Now they think they have a pope on their side. Of course, in regard to the Green Encyclical we have Pope Francis being celebrated by the Left for doing something which was anathema to them before he came on the scene: a pope judging science. Leftist accusations aside, that is something the Church has rarely done, for sound reasons. Most ecclesiastics lack the education to make sound judgments on science. Plus, the conclusions of science are always being modified as new data is studied, and for an institution that exists to expound the Timeless Truths of Christ, it is dangerous to seek to mix in with those Truths opinions on science which are bound to be wrong in part in the fullness of time. Thus the Pope is being celebrated by the Left for agreeing with them, although his manner of agreeing with them can just as easily be turned against them when a future pope has different opinions on science, if a future pope is foolish enough to wish to do what the Pope has just done. It is one of the features of our time that the clergy, doing a lousy job by and large in expounding the Gospel, are eager to give their opinions on subjects they are frequently bone ignorant about, merely parroting, in the main, beliefs of the Zeitgeist popular among the chattering classes, and the clergy are always members in good standing of that group.
Father George Rutler at Crisis Magazine explains why having the Church sit in judgment on the conclusions of science is a very bad idea indeed:
Pope Francis’ encyclical on the ecology of the earth is adventurously laden with promise and peril. It can raise consciousness of humans as stewards of creation. However, there is a double danger in using it as an economic text or scientific thesis. One of the pope’s close advisors, the hortatory Cardinal Maradiaga of Honduras said with ill-tempered diction: “The ideology surrounding environmental issues is too tied to a capitalism that doesn’t want to stop ruining the environment because they don’t want to give up their profits.” From the empirical side, to prevent the disdain of more informed scientists generations from now, papal teaching must be safeguarded from attempts to exploit it as an endorsement of one hypothesis over another concerning anthropogenic causes of climate change. It is not incumbent upon a Catholic to believe, like Rex Mottram in Brideshead Revisited, that a pope can perfectly predict the weather. As a layman in these matters, all I know about climate change is that I have to pay for heating a very big church with an unpredictable apparatus. This is God’s house, but he sends me the ConEd utility bills.
It is noteworthy that Pope Francis would have included in an encyclical, instead of lesser teaching forms such as an apostolic constitution or motu proprio, subjects that still pertain to unsettled science (and to speak of a “consensus” allows that there is not yet a defined absolute). The Second Vatican Council, as does Pope Francis, makes clear that there is no claim to infallibility in such teaching. The Council (Lumen Gentium, n.25) does say that even the “ordinary Magisterium” is worthy of a “religious submission of intellect and will” but such condign assent is not clearly defined. It does not help when a prominent university professor of solid Catholic commitments says that in the encyclical “we are about to hear the voice of Peter.” That voice may be better heard when, following the advice of the encyclical (n.55) people turn down their air conditioners. One awaits the official Latin text to learn its neologism for “condizione d’aria.” While the Holy Father has spoken eloquently about the present genocide of Christians in the Middle East, those who calculate priorities would have hoped for an encyclical about this fierce persecution, surpassing that of the emperor Decius. Pictures of martyrs being beheaded, gingerly filed away by the media, give the impression that their last concern on earth was not climate fluctuations.
Saint Peter, from his fishing days, had enough hydrometeorology to know that he could not walk on water. Then the eternal Logos told him to do it, and he did, until he mixed up the sciences of heaven and earth and began to sink. As vicars of that Logos, popes speak infallibly only on faith and morals. They also have the prophetic duty to correct anyone who, for the propagation of their particular interests, imputes virtual infallibility to papal commentary on physical science while ignoring genuinely infallible teaching on contraception, abortion and marriage and the mysteries of the Lord of the Universe. At this moment, we have the paradoxical situation in which an animated, and even frenzied, secular chorus hails papal teaching as infallible, almost as if it could divide the world, provided it does NOT involve faith or morals. Continue reading
If you have not read Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited – well, what’s wrong with you? You should really go read it. Like right now. I’ll be here when you get back.
Now that you’ve returned, let’s talk about the character of Rex Mottram. Rex, of course, is Julia Flyte’s fiance. He is a non-practicing Protestant, and he goes through the process of becoming a Catholic. Since the book is set in the 1920s, and thus pre-Vatican II, Rex is not subjected to RCIA. Instead, Rex meets with the Flyte family’s priest, Father Mowbray. Father Mowbray relates the following exchange:
“Yesterday I asked him whether Our Lord had more than one nature. He said: ‘Just as many as you say, Father.’ Then again I asked him: ‘Supposing the Pope looked up and saw a cloud and said ‘It’s going to rain’, would that be bound to happen?’ ‘Oh, yes, Father.’ ‘But supposing it didn’t?’ He thought a moment and said, “I suppose it would be sort of raining spiritually, only we were too sinful to see it.'”
This, along with Rex’s unquestioning acceptance of Cordelia Flyte’s description of Catholic doctrine are among the funniest aspects of the book. What this scene does is expose one of the silliest anti-Catholic prejudices, namely, that Catholics are expected to uncritically and unblinkingly accept every word uttered or written by a Pope as unequivocal truth. This makes hash out of the doctrine of infallibility, which this very educated audience understands applies only to ex cathedra statements regarding faith and morals.
This stereotype of Catholics has fueled anti-Catholicism here, to the point that Catholic politicians have had to fend off charges that they are, in essence, tools of the Vatican. Yet today we see a rise in the number of faithful Catholics who seem intent on giving credence to the stereotype.
An example of the genre is provided by a former TAC blogger who now writes, naturally, for Patheos. This is hardly the most egregious example of the type, but it is a handy showcase. Larry D of Acts of the Apostasy has a strawmen caricature-inspired satire of what not to expect from the (now released) Papal Encyclical. He then writes:
Bottom line? The encyclical will be Catholic, and will espouse and expand on Catholic teaching. Faithful Catholics needn’t get their biodegradable knickers in a twist over Laudato Sii. Those who are…well, they have an agenda to push. Will there be some things in the encyclical that might make us a bit uncomfortable? Sure, I fully expect it – because being a Catholic sometimes makes you a bit uncomfortable. Comes with the territory. Let the Right and the Left yammer about it – ignore them. Online at least – read the thing and be able to discuss it cogently and coherently with flesh and blood folks, like family members and coworkers.
Let’s unpack this a bit. He first accuses anyone who might be bothered by the encyclical as “having an agenda” to push, as though there could be no legitimate quarrel with anything the Pope writes. Further observe that Larry has pre-judged the criticism before it has even been offered. That’s right – before the encyclical had even been released and anyone knew officially what was in the document he determined that anyone who made a fuss had an agenda to push. So he’s criticizing the criticism, that hadn’t occurred yet, of a document that hadn’t even been released.We’re through the looking glass here people.
He then continues in a vein that is typical of the Rex Mottram Catholic: the Pope ain’t gonna say anything that is contradictory to Church teaching, so why the fuss? In other words, as long as the Pope doesn’t say anything heretical – and ipso facto he cannot – then why even raise a fuss?
There are several problems with the line of thinking, and we’ve been over some of them in excruciating detail. I won’t address the potential problems with this specific encyclical because I haven’t read it. Generally, though, this sort of thinking both excessively elevates the Pope and diminishes him. It elevates him because it places large swathes of what he says and writes outside the bounds of legitimate criticism. It diminishes him by reducing him to nothing more than a vessel of speaking truisms about the faith. If the Pope is merely echoing basic tenets of the faith such as that we are meant to be stewards of creation and have grave responsibilities towards it, then so what? Why bother with a 200 page encyclical? He could have pretty much said the same thing in a 10-minute homily. Obviously, though, the Pope’s intention is to do much more with this. He is hoping to shape debate and push Catholics (and others) towards a certain course of action. Well if that’s the case, don’t we have the duty to take a step back and make sure that what the Pope is saying has merit to it?
You can see this attitude in the comments. When one commenter dared imply that the Pope’s opinion about the scientific data was not sacrosanct, someone replied, “Why do you place your understanding above the Pope’s in determining what is, and what is not, ‘supported by scientific data’?”
This brings us back to the Rex Mottram quote. The Pope has no special charism to interpret scientific data. If he sees a few clouds in the sky and predicts rain, it’s not disobedient for me to pull up my Droid, open the Accuweather app, and inform him that there is a zero percent chance of precipitation.
One last note. Another talking point that has been and will be repeated is that conservative Catholics who ignore, dispute, criticize, etc. this encyclical are no different than liberal Catholics who did the same to previous documents, especially Humanae Vitae. Anyone who does so would be guilty of Cafeteria Catholicism just the same.
I would concede that there is a danger that too many Catholics will raise up the “prudential judgment” banner too reflexively. I’ll also concede that Larry D, for instance, has a point in noting that sometimes being a Catholic makes you uncomfortable. Our disposition as Catholics should be that hen we read this or anything written by the Holy Father that we put our prejudices aside, and not mentally check out whenever he says something that might contradict something we believe.
What I will vehemently dispute is that any criticism of this or any document is just the same as the reaction to Humanae Vitae. People did not just object to certain facets of the encyclical. Rather, dissidents objected to the very core teaching of Church that Pope Paul VI was promulgating. Now, if Catholics object to the idea of being stewards of creation, then yeah, they’re hypocritical cafeteria-style Catholics. If we reject the fundamental idea of caring for the poor, that’s dissidence. I suspect, however, that there won’t be much of that style of reaction.
Go here to read it and put your initial thoughts in the comboxes.
Saint Corbinian’s Bear discusses something that PopeWatch has been musing about: the Green Encyclical may be the high water mark of Pope Francis:
We may be witnessing the high water mark of Pope Francis. The Bear has a feeling it’s downhill from here.
Why would the Bear say such a ridiculous thing now, of all times? The whole world has turned its gaze toward the Man in White.
First of all, what does he bring to the party, if it is permissible to put it like that? The only so-called science will be second-hand. Nothing new here. It’s not like he’s an expert in the field. The people who have been impressed with the climate change pseudologia fantastica thus far will continue to believe, and those who don’t, won’t. How many people do you think will really say, “Oh the Pope has come out on the subject of global warming, so I’m going to change my mind! Honestly, the Bear doesn’t think it will be very many.
The Bear does not expect many to actually read a 200-page encyclical. Sorry, but that’s the price you pay for writing a 200-page encyclical. The juiciest parts will be cherry-picked by talking heads. The shelf-life will be mercilessly short. The Bear does not expect this to have legs.
The release of the encyclical gives those playing along with global warming an opportunity to talk about it, and even do so in moral terms, which the encyclical will certainly include. And the climate realists will also get to sound off. Again, no big change. In order to be impressed by the moral implications of a scientific theory, one must be persuaded by the science.
Catholics will not change their minds. Expect liberal Catholics to bring up Humanae Vitae inappropriately, and type the phrase “cafeteria Catholic” a lot. The Bear does not recommend engaging them because they’re not really listening to your reasoned explanation.
The Bear believes it is unfortunate for a pope who is already suspect in some ways in the minds of many, to so unambiguously align himself with a goofy political fad and all its hangers on. The Bear’s theory is that global warming “ticks all the right boxes” for the Pope, economically and politically. He was powerless to resist. That’s about the most you can say. Continue reading
- The cannibal has left his lair.
- Le Moniteur Universel, March 9, 1815.
- The Corsican ogre has just landed at the Juan Gulf.
- Le Moniteur Universel, March 10, 1815.
- The tiger has arrived at Gap.
- Le Moniteur Universel, March 11, 1815.
- The monster slept at Grenoble.
- Le Moniteur Universel, March 12, 1815.
- The tyrant has crossed Lyons.
- Le Moniteur Universel, March 13, 1815.
- The usurper was seen sixty leagues from the capital.
- Le Moniteur Universel, March 18, 1815.
- Bonaparte has advanced with great strides, but he will never enter Paris.
- Le Moniteur Universel, March 19, 1815.
- Tomorrow, Napoleon will be under our ramparts.
- Le Moniteur Universel, March 20, 1815.
- The Emperor has arrived at Fontainbleau.
- Le Moniteur Universel, March 21, 1815.
- His Imperial and Royal Majesty entered his palace at the Tuileries last night in the midst of his faithful subjects.
- Le Moniteur Universel, March 22, 1815.
Napoleon was such a world spanning figure that it was fitting that he return for one last bow before he departed the stage of history. As Wellington said, the battle was a “damn close run” thing, and it is quite conceivable that Napoleon could have won, but for blunders by him and his subordinates. Would it have made any difference if he had prevailed? Likely not. Massive Allied armies were on their way, and a victory by Napoleon in 1815 in the Waterloo campaign would likely have meant as little as the many victories he won in 1814 prior to his forced abdication. By his return from exile Napoleon had demonstrated that he still posed a danger to the status quo in Europe, and after more than two decades of war Europe was not going to tolerate that.
However, let’s play pretend for a moment. Let us assume that Napoleon had stayed on his self-made throne, what then? He was prematurely old and he believed his time for war was past. If he kept France, I think he would have been content. France would doubtless have benefited from the good government that he could have bestowed on it, especially when he was no longer distracted by wars and rumors of war. The Austrians, ever the political realists, probably would have been willing to have allowed the return of his son and heir.
What would Napoleon have done with the time remaining to him, especially if that time were greater than what he achieved on Saint Helena? Assuredly he would have written his memoirs, and what books those would have been, especially if he chose to be honest! Perhaps he would have played schoolmaster of Europe, and conducted classes on the art of war. Such classes would have drawn officers from around the globe, eager to sit at the feat of the master.
Perhaps he would have put his spiritual affairs in order, as perhaps he did historically during his last years.
Alas for Napoleon he had none of these opportunities. In the immortal phrase of Victor Hugo, God was bored by him, and 200 years ago Napoleon’s stunning career came to an end. Let us give the last word on his career to the Emperor: Continue reading
After the issuance of the Green Encyclical today I assume that Catholics will be debating global warming. I thought we would kick off the debate here on TAC with Mark Shea representing both sides:
As you probably know, I’m skeptical of the Global Warming hype, not least because its marketers and packagers keep changing the name. First, it was “Global Warming,” then “Climate Change” (as if climate does anything besides change) and lately it’s “Global Climate Disruption.” I’m also skeptical that it is man made, and I think the dishonesty of some of the scientists in the field, not to mention the packagers and marketers, leaves me cold (clever pun, eh?). So, for instance, when I see evidence of rising sea levels that doesn’t always refer me back to the same remote island nobody knows anything about except that it might be a case of erosion and not rising sea levels, I will begin to take our melting ice caps more seriously.
Go here to read the rest.
I have always expressed ignorance of the science for the very good reason that I am not a scientist. I have always granted the premise that there is climate change for the very good reason that change is what climate does. Beyond that, I have always left the matter in the hands of experts to hash out because what do I know?
Go here to read the rest.
Now that the Green Encyclical is about to be released, a good question to ask is why is the Pope doing this? The answer is obvious and disheartening. The Pope, with a few notable exceptions, most significantly in regard to abortion, shares the prejudices of most left of center educated people in the West. For them the environment is the cause of causes, and they embrace it with a religious devotion. The added bonus of course is that global warming, or climate change, or whatever name the scam goes under, is an excellent excuse for more government. For the left of center the answer to virtually any problem is to scream for more government. Our Pope has a naïve faith in government and a distaste for free enterprise. This is not unusual when one considers his background. Argentina is largely an economic basket case because its political class has overwhelmingly embraced heavy government intervention in the economy, that has led to stagnant growth, crony capitalism and immense corruption, all in a country that is blessed with natural resources that should largely ensure prosperity. Thus we have the Green Encyclical which seeks to make the globe Argentina writ large.
John Hinderaker at Powerline points out that the Encyclical is as wrong in its premises as it is in its conclusions:
First, the Pope has no idea what he is talking about. His letter is full of factual errors. For example:
Scientific consensus exists indicating firmly that we are in the presence of a worrisome warming of the climate system.
This is false. There has been no net global warming for something like 18 years, according to satellite data, the most reliable that we have.
In recent decades, that the heating was accompanied by the constant rise in the sea level….
Sea level has been rising for approximately 12,000 years, first dramatically as the Earth warmed rapidly at the end of the last Ice Age, and much more slowly in recent millennia. Currently, the rate of rise of sea level is not increasing.
…and is also hard not to relate it to the increase in extreme weather events, regardless of the fact that we can not attribute a cause scientifically determined to each particular phenomenon.
Wrong again. Extreme weather events are not increasing. This isn’t an opinion, it is a fact: there is no plausible empirical claim to the contrary. In fact, for what it is worth, the climate models that are the sole basis for warming hysteria predict fewer extreme weather events, not more, because the temperature differential between the equator and the poles will diminish.
It is true that there are other factors (such as volcanism, and the variations of the orbit of the Earth, the solar cycle), but numerous scientific studies indicate that most of the global warming of recent decades is due to the large concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and other) issued mainly because of human activity.
Putting aside the fact that there hasn’t been any net warming during the last two decades, this is precisely the issue that is the subject of intense scientific debate–a debate that, it becomes increasingly clear, the realists are winning. For the Pope to wade into this controversy would be nearly inexplicable, absent some overriding motive.
That motive is, apparently, hostility toward free enterprise and the prosperity that it creates. Francis has manifested such hostility in previous statements, and it comes through again in his anti-global warming letter. Francis sounds like just another leftist: the solution to global warming is more state control to dictate how people live, and new international organizations to direct vast transfers of wealth and power. Continue reading
Rorate Caeli brings us this interview from 2008 by Tele Radio Padre Pio with Cardinal Carlo Caffara :
Q. There is a prophecy by Sister Lucia dos Santos, of Fatima, which concerns “the final battle between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan”. The battlefield is the family. Life and the family. We know that you were given charge by John Paul II to plan and establish the Pontifical Institute for the Studies on Marriage and the Family.
More detail from Jimmy Akin in regard to the leak of a draft of the Green Encyclical by Sandro Magister. (PopeWatch’s Italian is far too shaky for him to quote Magister until Magister comments in English):
6) How did Magister get the text?
This is unknown at present. In his article, he refers to the text having a “troubled” history and alludes to the first copies that the Vatican publishing house made having been pulped (destroyed) because of various places where they needed to be corrected.
It is possible that someone rescued one of the copies meant to be pulped and gave it to Magister. If so, he may have gotten it from a lower level person, such as a worker tasked with arranging for the copies to be pulped.
On the other hand, they could have come from someone higher placed.
If Magister’s text came from the batch that was pulped then that could explain why the Vatican Press Office said that it wasn’t the final version.
On the other hand, Magister may have been given a copy from a different batch, after some corrections were made. In any event, the Holy See Press Office says it isn’t the final copy.
7) How different will the final version be?
There is no way to know until Thursday.
Assuming that Magister is correct that a batch was pulped, this may have been due to nothing more than typos that needed to be corrected.
It is not at all uncommon for publishers to pulp runs of a publication that have typos which are caught at the last minute, assuming that the typos are significant enough. In my own experience with publishers, I’ve seen it done.
On the other hand, there may be more than typo fixes. This could happen, for example, if Pope Francis asked for certain editorial changes to be made and then, in the editorial process, these fell through the cracks and their absence was caught only at the last minute.
8) Why was the text leaked?
Without knowing who leaked it, there is no way to tell.
If it was a janitor who plucked a copy from a batch that were on their way to be shredded, it may simply have been that he knew Magister would be interested in a scoop and he wanted to be part of an exciting story (or possibly even be paid for his efforts).
Such an employee may not have read the text and there may be no larger agenda on his part.
On the other hand, if a person of higher stature leaked it—someone who had been entrusted with working on the text and read the content of the document—then there might be a deliberate intention to undermine the encyclical and its message.
9) How could the leak undermine the encyclical?
Part of the point of having an official release, with a press conference and everything, is to create on opportunity to get the document off on the best footing.
The media hops on it all at once, creating something of a saturation effect in different news channels, and the Holy See has the chance—via the press conference and associated materials given out to the press—to frame the story its way.
For a text to appear early can let some of the air out of the official release, and it can allow the text to be framed in ways contrary to the spin that the Holy See wants put on it.
In this case, because we have a pre-final draft, it will also cause attention to zero-in on the changes that were made between this draft and the final one, which may cause people to speculate about why those changes were made and what significance they might have (if they’re just typos or edits that were accidentally omitted and later caught: not much).
Further, this event raises the specter of the VatiLeaks scandal, in which Benedict XVI’s own butler was funneling private Vatican documents to the press as part of his own agenda.
This event raises the question of whether there are additional leakers—or new leakers—who are in some way seeking to undermine Pope Francis. Continue reading
The unshrinking defence of the Holy Scripture, however, does not require that we should equally uphold all the opinions which each of the Fathers or the more recent interpreters have put forth in explaining it; for it may be that, in commenting on passages where physical matters occur, they have sometimes expressed the ideas of their own times, and thus made statements which in these days have been abandoned as incorrect. Hence, in their interpretations, we must carefully note what they lay down as belonging to faith, or as intimately connected with faith-what they are unanimous in. For “in those things which do not come under the obligation of faith, the Saints were at liberty to hold divergent opinions, just as we ourselves are,”(55) according to the saying of St. Thomas. And in another place he says most admirably: “When philosophers are agreed upon a point, and it is not contrary to our faith, it is safer, in my opinion, neither to lay down such a point as a dogma of faith, even though it is perhaps so presented by the philosophers, nor to reject it as against faith, lest we thus give to the wise of this world an occasion of despising our faith.”(56) The Catholic interpreter, although he should show that those facts of natural science which investigators affirm to be now quite certain are not contrary to the Scripture rightly explained, must nevertheless always bear in mind, that much which has been held and proved as certain has afterwards been called in question and rejected.
Leo XIII, PROVIDENTISSIMUS DEUS
As expected, the leaked Encylical is being translated. Here is the take of National Journal from what they have read:
1) Global warming is real
While the document largely focuses on theology and morality, it does go headlong into the science of the causes and impacts of climate change. The draft document says there is a scientific consensus that the climate is warming because of human actions, and that it is reflected in rising sea levels and increasing extreme weather events. The document even goes further into specific consequences of climate change on biodiversity and marine life, among others.
2) Fossil fuels are a problem
The encyclical states that fossil fuels, such as oil and to a lesser extent natural gas, should be phased out without delay in favor of renewable energy. While renewable power is built up, the encyclical says, it is permissible to rely on fossil fuels, but that overall, the extraction and burning of oil and gas is evil. The document further calls for countries to adopt policies that will reduce emissions of carbon dioxides and other gases.
One policy that Francis dismisses is the use of carbon credits, which he says could give rise to speculation rather than direct action to reduce emissions.
3) Governments should act on climate change—and do it right
The timing of the encyclical is no mystery—Vatican officials have said the document is meant to influence the United Nations climate talks in Paris this year. Francis repeatedly calls on governments to fight climate change, both domestically and through international agreements
Francis says previous international negotiations, specifically the 2012 UN meetings in Rio de Janeiro, produced ineffective results because countries were looking after the own interests rather than the common good. Francis also is calling on countries to set their own long-term policies on climate change, warning that environmental regulations should not change as governments come in and out of power. Continue reading
Someone leaked (or broke the embargo) of the full contents of the Pope’s new encyclical Laudato Si to Italian periodical L’Espresso. Sandro Magister has also made it available.
As faithful readers of his blog know, I am a biblioholic. Last week my bride and I were on vacation from the law mines, well for three of the days of last week, and we went to a fantastic book sale put on each year by the local chapter of the American Association of University Women in Naperville. This is a big sale with approximately 40,000 books. We purchased 45, well actually 46 because I accidentally picked up two copies of the same book, for $100.00. Here is a list of the books with commentary. Fortunately my bride shares to the full my biblioholism! She will be doing the commentary for 4-12 on the list.
1. From Savannah to Yorktown, Henry Lumpkin (1981)-Perhaps the best one volume modern study on the campaign waged by the British in the latter half of the Revolution to conquer the South. Lumpkin does a good job of detailing the savagery of this fighting, with Northern and Southern Tories in the ranks of the British adding an air of civil war to the conflict.
2. How to Stop a War, James Dunnigan and William Martel (1987)-Dunnigan is the founder of Simulations Publications Illustrated (dear old SPI) and the designer of numerous war games. After SPI went bankrupt in the early eighties and was sold to TSR, he began a career of writing books about war. This is one of his early efforts and contains his usual skillful use of historical examples to make his points.
3. An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire, Arundhati Roy, (2005)-The one dud in our purchases. Roy is a left wing loon and her tome reads like a fairly illiterate sophomore’s take on the world after having dozed through a class on Marxian Analysis of the World Crisis, while her boyfriend took occasional notes. She is a supporter of the Naxalites, a particularly bloody and futile Maoist insurrectionary movement that has been going on in India since 1967. This book is soon to be seen on e-bay.
4. Saint Louis and the Last Crusade, Margaret Ann Hubbard, (1958)-This and the following 4 books are all Vision Books children’s biographies of saints, in the original hardcover editions (not the Ignatius Press paperback reprints). Similar to Landmark Books, but on Catholic subjects and written from a Catholic perspective. This one is a biography of King Louis IX of France.
5. Katharine Drexel, Friend of the Neglected, Ellen Tarry, (1958)-A biography of St. Katharine Drexel (not yet canonized at the time of publication). Cathy read this to the kids for their afterschool “mommy school” when they were in grade school.
6. Saint Elizabeth’s Three Crowns, Blanche Jennings Thompson, (1958)-A biography of St. Elizabeth of Hungary; Cathy vaguely remembers reading about her to the kids during “mommy school” (might have been this book, or possibly a shorter account of her life elsewhere).
7. Saint Isaac and the Indians, Milton Lomask, (1958)-A biography of St. Isaac Jogues, one of the Jesuit “Blackrobes” who worked (and died) among the Indians in North America (mostly Canada). Cathy definitely remembers reading this one to the kids during “mommy school”!
8. Saint Thomas More of London, Elizabeth M. Ince, (1957)-A biography of St. Thomas More, of course; Cathy thinks homeschoolers could use this alongside a family viewing of A Man for All Seasons (preferably the 1960s version) as an introduction to the Reformation in England.
9. The Pattern Library, Crochet, Amy Carrol and Dorothea Hall, (1982)-An inexpensive crochet stitch dictionary for Cathy (if a family member knits or crochets, they’ll know what that is).
10. Knitting into the Mystery, Susan S. Jorgensen and Susan S. Izard, (2003)-A book on prayer shawl ministries coauthored by a female United Church of Christ minister (Izard) and a Roman Catholic laywoman (Jorgensen); mostly about the spiritual side of such groups, rather than making the shawls themselves (although 2 simple patterns – 1 each knit & crochet – are included); tries hard (maybe a little too hard) to appeal to an interfaith audience.
11. The Illustrated Afghan, Leslie Linsley, (1990)-A crochet afghan pattern book where the main panel or squares are done in plain Tunisian crochet (what Cathy says earlier generations called “afghan stitch”), and the intricate designs are cross-stitched on top.
12. Norwegian Rosemaling, Margaret M. Miller and Sigmund Aarseth, (1974)-A book on Norwegian folk art decorative painting on wood, featuring lots of stylized flowers/leaves/scrolls/etc.; looks a lot like tole painting (but don’t let a rosemaaling fan hear you say that!). We still have a couple of small rosemaalt items (a trinket box & a small decorative plate) Cathy acquired back in college while minoring in Scandinavian studies and connecting with distant cousins in Norway.
13. Socrates in the City, Eric Metaxas, editor, (2011)-A collection of lectures by such luminaries as Peter Kreeft, the late Father Richard John Neuhaus, the late Chuck Colson, et al on the big issues: God, Good, Evil, etc. Metaxas is a man to keep your eye on. He combines profound learning, a deep faith in God and a profound commitment to the pro-life cause. His biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer is a grand example of using the past to help illuminate the present.
14. Drummer Hodge: The Poetry of the Anglo-Boer War, M. Van Wyk Smith, (1978)-Now what list of books purchased by me would be complete without some obscure tomes. A good look at the poetry, and there was a fair amount of it, unleashed upon the world by the Boer War. Most of it was forgettable and much of it was bad, but looking at it helps us understand the passions roused by this controversial war.
15. Churchill’s Secret War, Madhusree Mukerjee, (2010)-Ms. Mukerjee claims in her book that Churchill’s dislike of Indians contributed to the toll of the Bengal Famine of 1943-44. Arthur Herman, who wrote a recent joint biography of Churchill and Gandhi has written a devastating rejoinder. Go here to read it. I will reserve judgment until I have read the book.
16. Platoon Leader, Thomas R. McDonough, (1985)-I have been reading this book since we purchased it last Thursday and have completed it. It relates the story of the author as a newly graduated West Pointer, assigned as a First Lieutenant to command an understrength platoon occupying a village in a Viet Cong dominated section of Vietnam. McDonough relates his struggles to be a competent platoon commander as he learns all the things that the Army had failed to train him about and that were vital for him to learn quickly if he and his men were to survive and prevail. McDonough learned that when it came to stand up fights with the Viet Cong assaulting his village, American fire power would prevail and inflict heavy losses on the enemy. What was deadly for the troops were the drip, drip losses caused on daily patrols through booby-traps planted by the Cong. (Shades of IEDs in Iraq!) McDonough comes to respect and like almost all the men he commands, impressed by their courage and their willingness to fight for each other. He does not romanticize them, but he clearly shows the nobility of spirit of most of them as they stoically endure their tours. The burden of command lays heavily on McDonough, a constant theme of the book. This is illustrated when he sends a squad to swim in the ocean, hoping that the salt water will be good for their jungle sores, and be fun for the men. Two of the men are caught in the tide and drown, and McDonough blames himself for their deaths, learning the old military fact of life that when you are in command, everything is your responsibility. Continue reading
If any pro-lifers ever get tired or discouraged, please remember that the fate of “Baby Francis”, tossed away at the dawn of life like so much used garbage, is what we are fighting against:
In a simple, but dignified ceremony this morning in a section of Gate of Heaven Cemetery set aside for the repose of babies, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin presided over a Christian burial service for the unborn child he named “Francis,” fulfilling a commitment he made to officials five months ago after a fetus was found floating amid the sewage at a nearby wastewater treatment facility.
A tiny white casket, with “Baby Francis 2015” inscribed on a gold plaque affixed to one end, and flanked by flowers and a small teddy bear, rested upon a portable pine altar as the burial service was conducted under a brilliant blue sky.
“Now, we must entrust the soul of Baby Francis to the abundant mercy of God so that this beloved child may find finally a home in his kingdom,” Bishop Tobin prayed before a gathering of about 20 individuals representing the diocese and its active Respect Life Office and Human Life Guild.
Despite a five-month investigation into the case, not much is known about the circumstances in which the unborn child ended up at the Bucklin Wastewater Treatment Facility on January 12, when a worker saw what at first appeared to be a doll floating amid the slurry in a collection area of the plant’s Screen and Grit Building, according to the East Providence Police Department.
At the time, the Bishop offered a “decent and proper burial” for the unborn child, also offering prayers for his parents and the situation that led them to dispose of a child in such a tragic way. The State Medical Examiner’s Office indicated the child was a male, about 19-20 weeks gestation, but could not release the body while its investigation was ongoing.
On June 14, 1777 the Second Continental Congress passed this resolution:
“Resolved, That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”
The Flag was designed by member of Congress Francis Hopkinson who requested a quarter cask of wine for his services. Payment was denied him on the sound ground that he was already being paid as a member of Congress. Two years previously on June 14, 1775, Congress voted to adopt the New England militia army besieging Boston and so the Continental Army was formed.
I have always thought it appropriate that the Flag and the Army share the same birthday. The Flag is the proud symbol of the nation but without military strength to back it up, it would quickly become a mere colorful piece of fabric. John Wayne in a brief speech at the end of the movie Fort Apache (1948), part of John Ford’s cavalry trilogy, captured the spirit of the Army:
As did this passage the following year in the second of the cavalry trilogy, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon:
So here they are: the dog-faced soldiers, the regulars, the fifty-cents-a-day professionals… riding the outposts of a nation. From Fort Reno to Fort Apache – from Sheridan to Startle – they were all the same: men in dirty-shirt blue and only a cold page in the history books to mark their passing. But wherever they rode – and whatever they fought for – that place became the United States.
The song That Ragged Old Flag understands the necessity of men willing to fight for the nation, for the Flag, if the country is to endure: Continue reading