Christianity is not the creed of Asia and Africa at this moment solely because the seventh century Christians of Asia and Africa had trained themselves not to fight, whereas the Moslems were trained to fight. Christianity was saved in Europe solely because the peoples of Europe fought. If the peoples of Europe in the seventh and eighth centuries, on up to and including the seventeenth century, had not possessed a military equality with, and gradually a growing superiority over the Mohammedans who invaded Europe, Europe would at this moment be Mohammedan and the Christian religion would be exterminated.
May the soul of journalist James Foley, a Catholic, beheaded by the terrorists of ISIS, rest in peace. May he now be enjoying the Beatific Vision. May those responsible for his foul murder receive justice to the full for this deed in this world and the next.
One of the services your humble servant performs for readers of this blog is to send to the trash the insane comments which we receive before you have to be exposed to them. However, for your amusement I will now reveal a comment we received under the Only Dead Christians post:
Of course, Israel and the U.S. are behind ISIS (which is not an Islamic group, but a satanist one hiding behind Islam to try to destroy it), and so they, the Anglo/American/Zionist Empire, and not Muslims, are behind the killing of Christians.
Once you realize that not one Muslim had anything to do with 911, rather, it was a CIA/Mossad operation, it all starts to make sense. The purpose is to demonize Islam, so Christians will go to war with Islam instead of its real enemy, Zionism. Continue reading
Ronald S. Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress, in an op ed in The New York Times wonders why there is silence over the slaughter of Christians by jihadists around the globe:
WHY is the world silent while Christians are being slaughtered in the Middle East and Africa? In Europe and in the United States, we have witnessed demonstrations over the tragic deaths of Palestinians who have been used as human shields by Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls Gaza. The United Nations has held inquiries and focuses its anger on Israel for defending itself against that same terrorist organization. But the barbarous slaughter of thousands upon thousands of Christians is met with relative indifference.
The Middle East and parts of central Africa are losing entire Christian communities that have lived in peace for centuries. The terrorist group Boko Haram has kidnapped and killed hundreds of Christians this year — ravaging the predominantly Christian town of Gwoza, in Borno State in northeastern Nigeria, two weeks ago. Half a million Christian Arabs have been driven out of Syria during the three-plus years of civil war there. Christians have been persecuted and killed in countries from Lebanon to Sudan.
Historians may look back at this period and wonder if people had lost their bearings. Few reporters have traveled to Iraq to bear witness to the Nazi-like wave of terror that is rolling across that country. The United Nations has been mostly mum. World leaders seem to be consumed with other matters in this strange summer of 2014. There are no flotillas traveling to Syria or Iraq. And the beautiful celebrities and aging rock stars — why doesn’t the slaughter of Christians seem to activate their social antennas? Continue reading
It is sometimes easy for Catholics to forget that their popes have their own personal tragedies to endure, just as we all do:
Pope Francis was deeply grieved, the Vatican’s official broadcasting service said on Tuesday, after the deaths of three relatives killed when their car slammed into the back of a truck on a highway in central Argentina.
A nephew of the pope, Emanuel Bergoglio, who was driving the car was in serious condition following the accident just after midnight on Monday. The nephew’s wife, 35, and two children aged 2 years and 8 months died.
“The pope has been informed and is deeply grieved by the tragic news. He asks all those who share his pain to join with him in prayer,” said a statement on the website of Radio Vaticana. Continue reading
The City of Lights liberation by the Allies began seventy years ago today. It started, fittingly enough, with uprisings of Free French resistance forces throughout the city, launching attacks on the German garrison. Some 800 Free French fighters would die in these attacks. The Free French quickly held most of the city, while lacking the firepower to attack German strongpoints. The entry into Paris of the 2nd Free French armored division on August 24, along with the 4th US infantry division, caused the capitulation of the German garrison on August 25, and Paris went mad with joy.
General Charles de Gaulle, normally a rather cold and distant man, gave a speech in liberated Paris on August 25, 1944 that gave full voice to this rapture: Continue reading
As predicted here, it is up fast and down fast for the ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, terrorists. Strategy Page continues to provide the best coverage of events in Iraq on the net:
August 19, 2014: Kurdish troops have forced ISIL (al Qaeda in Iraq and the Levant) fighters out of the Mosul Dam on the Tigris River. ISIL seized control of the dam on August 3 rd. This is the largest dam in Iraq and because of shoddy construction during the 1980s requires constant maintenance to prevent it from failing. If the dam did come down over half a million Iraqis could die from the flood and subsequent water shortages. The Kurds had been defending the dam since the Iraqi Army ran away in early June. ISIL also seized two nearby Kurdish held towns as they went after the dam.
This ISIL advance was not unexpected because the Kurds stretched themselves thin by trying to replace the Iraqi Army while also building and defending a new fortified border to incorporate Kirkuk and nearby oilfields. The Kurds asked for air support from the United States but did not start receiving it until the 8th. The Americans had already shipped in ammo and light weapons and some additional American trainers and advisors.
ISIL hit the Kurds with multiple columns of vehicles carrying armed men. This force included some suicide bombers and there were more ISIL gunmen coming from more directions than the small Kurdish force could handle. After a day or so of holding off ISIL the Kurds were ordered to withdraw and they did that in an orderly fashion on the 3rd. The Kurds organized a counterattack force and moved to regain the lost territory once the U.S. agreed to resume air support. There are still some ISIL gunmen in the vicinity of the dam, as well as some mines and booby-traps the Islamic terrorists set before they left. Kurdish forces are taking care of this.
In the Euphrates River Valley, near the town of Haditha, local Sunni tribes have rebelled against ISIL to maintain control of another major dam. This is a major setback for ISIL, which expected the Sunni tribes to support them and take care of local security. It’s an old story being replayed. The local tribesmen are not happy with ISIL efforts to force a strict Islamic lifestyle on them. Iraqi and Syria Sunnis have come to prefer educating their daughters and enjoying TV and videos. There is even more tolerance for buying alcoholic beverages from local Christians who have long been allowed to sell this stuff because their religion does not forbid it (and their worship services actually use wine). Also unpopular is the ISIL attitude that anything they do is above reproach. The Sunni tribes that ISIL expected to be allies and take care of administering the newly conquered territories have increasingly refused to go along. While the Sunni tribes like the measure of law and order ISIL has imposed they are not willing to accept all the other features of ISIL rule. The secular Sunnis (mainly the surviving Baath Party organizations) initially believed they could work with ISIL but have since turned against the strict forms of Islam ISIL insists on. Meanwhile ISIL has antagonized many Islamic conservative groups by destroying shrines and even mosques ISIL considers heretical despite the fact that most Sunni Arabs tolerate these places because they are very popular, and bring in a significant amount of tourist business from foreigners and religious pilgrims. Continue reading
Andrew Brown at The Spectator has some interesting comments about the money making potential of being Richard Dawkins:
But the $85 a month just touches the hem of rationality. After the neophyte passes through the successively more expensive ‘Darwin Circle’ and then the ‘Evolution Circle’, he attains the innermost circle, where for $100,000 a year or more he gets to have a private breakfast or lunch with Richard Dawkins, and a reserved table at an invitation-only circle event with ‘Richard’ as well as ‘all the benefits listed above’, so he still gets a discount on his Richard Dawkins T-shirt saying ‘Religion — together we can find a cure.’
The website suggests that donations of up to $500,000 a year will be accepted for the privilege of eating with him once a year: at this level of contribution you become a member of something called ‘The Magic of Reality Circle’. I don’t think any irony is intended.
Pope Francis was asked yesterday if he approved of the US airstrikes against the ISIS terrorists in Iraq:
“In these cases where there is unjust aggression, I can only say that it is licit to stop the unjust aggressor. I underscore the verb ‘stop’; I don’t say bomb, make war — stop him. The means by which he may be stopped should be evaluated. To stop the unjust aggressor is licit, but we nevertheless need to remember how many times, using this excuse of stopping an unjust aggressor, the powerful nations have dominated other peoples, made a real war of conquest. A single nation cannot judge how to stop this, how to stop an unjust aggressor. After the Second World War, there arose the idea of the United Nations. That is where we should discuss: ‘Is there an unjust aggressor? It seems there is. How do we stop him?’ But only that, nothing more.” Continue reading
History is not melodrama, even if it usually reads like that. It was real blood, not tomato catsup or the pale ectoplasm of statistics, that wet the ground at Bloody Angle and darkened the waters of Bloody Pond. It modifies our complacency to look at the blurred and harrowing old photographs — the body of the dead sharpshooter in the Devil’s Den at Gettysburg or the tangled mass in the Bloody Lane at Antietam.
Robert Penn Warren, The Legacy of the Civil War
Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels for the Church so frequently that I have called him Defender of the Faith, has a very interesting post today which combines my two passions of the Civil War and the Catholic Church:
In 1961, at the start of the United States Civil War Centennial observances, LIFE magazine asked Robert Penn Warren for an essay about the effects of that war on subsequent US history. That essay eventually became a small book entitled The Legacy of the Civil War which is still in print and is well worth your time.
It’s slightly more than one hundred pages and if you’re not as glacially slow a reader as the Editor is, you can probably polish it off in an hour or less. Warren, a Kentuckian, is equally harsh with both sides, as he should be. But the curse which was laid upon the South as a result of that war was something that Warren labels the Great Alibi. I’m transcribing directly from the book so any errors are mine:
By the Great Alibi, the South explains, condones and transmutes everything. By a simple reference to the “War,” any Southern female could not too long ago, put on the glass slipper and be whisked away to the ball. Any goose could dream herself (or himself) a swan– surrounded, of course, by a good many geese for contrast and devoted hand-service. Even now, any common lyncher becomes a defender of the Southern tradition, and any rabble-rouser the gallant leader of a thin gray line of heroes, his hat on saber-point to provide reference by which to hold formation in the charge. By the Great Alibi, pellagra, hookworm and illiteracy are all explained, or explained away, and mortgages are converted into badges of distinction. Laziness becomes the aesthetic sense, blood-lust rising from a matrix of boredom and resentful misery becomes a high sense of honor, and ignorance becomes divine revelation. By the Great Alibi, the Southerner makes his Big Medicine. He turns defeat into victory, defects into virtues. Even more pathetically, he turns his great virtues into absurdities–sometimes vicious absurdities.
It occurred to me that one of the most terrible tragedies of the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandals is that it granted something like Warren’s Great Alibi to the Catholic left, the Christian left and other enemies of the Gospel.
For example. You’re a Catholic theologian of leftist leanings or a feminist nun. You have publicly written that not only should Katharine Jefferts Schori be allowed to preach in Catholic parishes, she should also be allowed to concelebrate the Mass.
The Vatican calls you out. How do you respond? Easy. You simply invoke the Great Christian Alibi in the same way as Sister Elizabeth Johnson [No relation - Ed] does here:
A nun who drew U.S. Catholic bishops’ ire with what they consider radical feminist writings fired back Friday (Aug. 15), saying their investigation of women’s orders is wasteful when financial mismanagement and sexual abuses are being covered up.
“When the moral authority of the hierarchy is hemorrhaging due to financial scandals and many bishops who … cover up sexual abuse of children, a cover up that continues in some quarters to this day, and thousands are drifting away from the church … the waste of time on this investigation is unconscionable,” Johnson said.
And debate is officially over. Who are you, you male member of the church hierarchy, to lecture me about anything at all, considering that the MALE hierarchy of this church covered up the sexual abuse of CHILDREN?
Leaving aside the psychological trauma of the victims, the Great Alibi freely provided to the enemies of both the Catholic Church and the Gospel may actually be the single most damaging thing to emerge from the sexual abuse scandals.
Because how do you answer it? Continue reading
Janet Harris, writing in The Washington Post, wishes pro-aborts would stop calling abortions a “difficult decision”:
Contrary to numerous movies and “very special” television episodes portraying abortion as an agonizing, complex decision (“Obvious Child” notwithstanding), for many it is a simple choice and often the only practical option. A 2012 study published in the journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health found that the vast majority of women seeking an abortion — 87 percent — had high confidence in their decisions. This level of conviction contrasts with the notion that millions of women vacillate over whether to have an abortion.
The circumstances matter, of course. Planned or wanted pregnancies involving fetal anomalies, or in which the health of the mother is in question, may require heart-wrenching decisions. But these situations are quite rare. A Guttmacher Institute survey of women in the United States seeking abortions found that 3 percent said the main reason was a fetal health problem, and 4 percent cited a problem with their own health. The percentage of women seeking an abortion because they were victims of rape or incest was less than 1.5 percent.
The far more common situation, accounting for 51 percent of all pregnancies among American women, is an unintended pregnancy, either mistimed (31 percent) or unwanted (20 percent). A 2008 study found that 40 percent of unintended pregnancies, excluding miscarriages, ended in abortion. It is in these cases that the portrayal of hand-wringing and soul-searching is more likely to be at odds with the day-to-day reality. Continue reading
Well chosen silence can be quite eloquent. Pope Francis gave an example of this during his visit to South Korea:
During the solemn visit, part of his prearranged itinerary to South Korea, the Holy Father and his entourage stopped for a moment and prayed in silence in front of hundreds of small white crosses representing victims of abortion. Accompanying the Pope was Father Lee Gu-won, a representative of pro-life groups in Korea and missionary to people without limbs.
The moment of prayer today came after the Pope visited Kkottongnae (“Village of Flowers”), a Catholic center about 60 miles south of Seoul which seeks to provide care and rehabilitation to the severely disabled, homeless and those afflicted by addictions. The Pope’s visit to the memorial was especially appropriate given the stigma of disability in Korea and that genetic deformities are often used to justify abortions.
On August 17, 1864 Grant was heartened when he received a telegram of support from President Lincoln. Go here to read about it. Grant remarked to his staff after reading the telegram: “The President has more nerve than any of his advisors.”
Lincoln had advised Grant: Hold on with a bull-dog gripe, and chew & choke, as much as possible. Unbeknownst to the President, Grant already had underway an operation to do just that. Major General Gouverneur K. Warren was ordered by Grant to take his V corps, supported by units of the IX and II corps and a small cavalry division, and move to the left to capture a section of the Weldon railroad, the main supply line for the Confederate forces at Richmond and Petersburg, which led south to Wilmington, the last major port of the Confederacy.
By 9:00 AM on August 18, 1864, Warren had brushed aside Confederate pickets and reached the Weldon railroad at Globe Tavern. He deployed a division of his corps to destroy track, held another division in reserve and set another brigade, deployed in line of battle, north to guard against Confederate attempts to retake the railroad. A.P. Hill, launching his attack at 2:00 PM used two divisions from his corps to retake Globe Tavern, but Warren counterattacked and recovered the ground he lost, his troops entrenching as night fell.
On the 19th, the IX corps reinforced Warrens V corps while the Confederates received three brigades of Major General William Mahones’ division along with “Rooney” Lee’s cavalry division. Mahone, cementing his reputation, after the part he played in retaking the Crater, as one of the best generals for the Confederacy in 1864, launched a slashing flank attack that captured two Union brigades. A Confederate frontal assault by Major General Henry Heth was easily repulsed, and the fighting ended with a IX corps counterattack leading to hand to hand fighting as nightfall brought a close to the day’s fighting.
Torrential rains on the 20th prevented large scale combat. Warren withdrew on the night of the 20-21 to a new fortified line. Confederate attacks failed to dislodge him, and the battle of Globe Tavern ended with the Union in permanent possession of several miles of the Weldon railroad which necessitated the Confederates to bring in supplies to Petersburg and Richmond thirty miles from the nearest section of the Weldon railroad not under Union control. Union casuaties were 4, 296 to 1,620 Confederates but the noose had been tightened around Petersburg and the Confederacy.
Here are the comments of General Grant on this operation in his Personal Memoirs: Continue reading
And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss,
And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross.
GK Chesterton, Lepanto
Hattip to Pat Archbold at Creative Minority Report. Father Robert S. Hewes recalls some very relevant history:
Getting all medieval..
“Does it please Thee, O God, to deliver into the hands of these beasts the defenseless children whom I have nourished with Thy Love?”
The words above stood out like a thunderclap.
Earlier this morning (August 11th) I was reading the entry in “Butler’s Lives of the Saints” for the saint of the day: St. Clare of Assisi, a friend and contemporary of St. Francis of Assisi in the 13th century.
I had not thought to have read such words from a Saint who followed her fellow-townsman Francis in the spirit of poverty and simplicity. As a line from a movie has it, Clare “got all medieval” that day.
Well, St. Claire WAS “medieval”.
However, the account of the events that lead to long-ago prayer of Claire are strikingly modern. An army in the service of (of all people) the “Holy Roman Emperor” in the year 1244 advanced on her city. This host was ravaging the area around Clare’s convent just outside Assisi and was largely composed of hired “Saracens” (i.e., Arab Muslim warriors) and approached the walls of her enclosure. She took herself to the wall, the Blessed Sacrament borne before her in a pyx and she faced the advancing Islamic troops. It was then she prayed the words that began this article.
Not very ecumenical we might think. Maybe she was too harsh?
After all, can’t we all just get along?
It takes two to get along.
You and I are used to assuming all people are basically good, and all religions are essentially good. How often do we think ‘we all believe in the same God”?
What is emerging and is rampaging today now in the form of “ISIS” or “ISIL” is an old story: militant Islam carrying the sword and demanding total submission to Allah as they conceive him to be. We are in merely the newest phase of a struggle that has gone on intermittently from 1400 years in the Middle East and has now spread West, as it once did. Continue reading
The gaunt man, Abraham Lincoln, lives his days.
For a while the sky above him is very dark.
There are fifty thousand dead in these last, bleak months
And Richmond is still untaken.
The papers rail,
Grant is a butcher, the war will never be done.
The gaunt man’s term of office draws to an end,
His best friends muse and are doubtful. He thinks himself
For a while that when the time of election comes
He will not be re-elected. He does not flinch.
Stephen Vincent Benet, John Brown’s Body
In August of 1864 the bottom seemed to be giving out from underneath the Union war effort. Grants’s drive against Richmond and Sherman’s drive against Atlanta seemed to have stalled, with Confederate armies holding tenaciously to both cities. Casualties, especially in the eastern theater of the War, had been appallingly high since the campaigning season opened in April, and after a massive effusion of blood the War seemed no closer to a Union victory. Northern governors feared draft riots in their cities in the face of a growing conviction that the South could not be conquered. On August 15, Grant wrote to Chief of Staff General Henry Halleck, in response to proposals that troops could be sent from the Army of the Potomac to put down draft riots:
CITY POINT, VA., August 15, 1864-9 p. m.
Washington, D. C.
If there is any danger of an uprising in the North to resist the draft or for any other purpose our loyal Governors ought to organize the militia at once to resist it. If we are to draw troops from the field to keep the loyal States in harness it will prove difficult to suppress the rebellion in the disloyal States. My withdrawal now from the James River would insure the defeat of Sherman. Twenty thousand men sent to him at this time would destroy the greater part of Hood’s army, and leave us men wherever required. General Heintzelman can get from the Governors of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois a militia organization that will deter the discontented from committing any overt act. I hope the President will call on Governors of States to organize thoroughly to preserve the peace until after the election.
U. S. GRANT,
Lincoln responded to Grant, and, if the anachronism may be allowed, his message back had a Churchillian ring to it: Continue reading
Vacations are always fun, although the older I get the more I find that I need a rest and recuperation period to recover from the vacation! (The work that no doubt has piled up on my desk in my absence makes such periods of after vacation rest brief indeed.) My son has started in at SIU law school and he has received the usual law school admonition that they will teach him to think like a lawyer. (What a terrible threat!) He seems to be off to a good start. GenCon was fun as always. The high point for me was when the family and I attended the 12:10 PM Assumption holy day mass at Saint John the Evangelist across from the convention center in Indianapolis. The mass began with the packed congregation belting out Hail Holy Queen, always one of my favorite hymns, and the congregation was so loud that I was able to sing at the top of my lungs, something I enjoy doing but that I rarely do since if I could be heard I fear it would quality as at least a misdemeanor if not a felony! I was then delighted to learn that the three priests concentrating the mass were all gamer priests from around the country there to attend GenCon and who were substituting for the pastor who was on vacation. Continue reading