“The worst catastrophe in China’s history, and one of the worst anywhere, was the Great Famine of 1958 to 1962, and to this day the ruling Communist Party has not fully acknowledged the degree to which it was a direct result of the forcible herding of villagers into communes under the ‘Great Leap Forward’ that Mao Zedong launched in 1958. To this day, the party attempts to cover up the disaster, usually by blaming the weather. Yet detailed records of the horror exist in the party’s own national and local archives. . . . Starvation was the punishment of first resort. As report after report shows, food was distributed by the spoonful according to merit and used to force people to obey the party. One inspector in Sichuan wrote that “commune members too sick to work are deprived of food. It hastens their death.”
Between 2 and 3 million of these victims were tortured to death or summarily executed, often for the slightest infraction. People accused of not working hard enough were hung and beaten; sometimes they were bound and thrown into ponds. Punishments for the least violations included mutilation and forcing people to eat excrement.
Communists are as bad as Nazis, and their defenders and apologists are as bad as Nazis’ defenders, but far more common. When you meet them, show them no respect. They’re evil, stupid, and dishonest. They should not enjoy the consequences of their behavior.
Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit
Pope Francis made one of his trademark hyperbolic statements on Tuesday:
Pope Francis said on Tuesday that poverty is the great teaching Jesus gave us and we can find his face among the poor and needy. Stressing that the poor are not a burden but a resource, he said he wished that both the city of Rome and the local Church community could be more attentive, caring and considerate towards those in need and that Christians could knee before a poor person.
Go here to read the rest. He also said that poverty is the great teaching that Christ left us.
How is a Catholic to respond when a Pope constantly makes statements that are bunk? If such statements were not frequent, say once a year for example, perhaps passing them over in silence might be the preferred strategy. When the statements are frequent, I think it is the duty of Catholics to speak out, so here goes.
Saying that Catholics should kneel before the poor is as wrong as saying Catholics should kneel before the rich. Catholics should kneel to no one but God. If the Pope was attempting to say that Catholics should attempt to help, care and love the poor, surely he has the vocabulary to do so without making a statement that so easily can be regarded as an attempt to transform the poor into a false idol.
Likewise poverty was not the great teaching that Christ left us. The great teaching that Christ left us is to love God and our neighbor. We love God by following Christ and His Teachings as given to us by the Church. We love our neighbor by attempting to do good to all mankind, which includes the poor, just as it includes the rich, our enemies and those we find personally annoying and offensive. How this love is demonstrated can be a complex issue in myriad circumstances, but Christ’s teaching that all men are brothers is at the heart of Christianity with love of God. Continue reading
The Pope spoke out against wage disparity between men and women this week:
In discussing the causes of family dissolution, Pope Francis said, “The Christian seed of radical equality between men and women must bring new fruits,” in our time. “The witness of the social dignity of marriage shall become persuasive,” he continued, “precisely by this way: the way of witness that attracts.” The Holy Father went on to say, “For this reason, as Christians, we must become more demanding in this regard: for example, [by] supporting with decision the right to equal retribution for equal work; disparity is a pure scandal.”
Go here to read the rest. PopeWatch does not doubt that there are many nations in the world, most of them Islamic, where women are treated like dirt. However, for the United States, the idea that there is a wage disparity between men and women performing equal work is simply not true.
Christina Hoff Sommers puts the lie to this myth:
MYTH 5: Women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns—for doing the same work.
FACTS: No matter how many times this wage gap claim is decisively refuted by economists, it always comes back. The bottom line: the 23-cent gender pay gap is simply the difference between the average earnings of all men and women working full-time. It does not account for differences in occupations, positions, education, job tenure or hours worked per week. When such relevant factors are considered, the wage gap narrows to the point of vanishing.
Wage gap activists say women with identical backgrounds and jobs as men still earn less. But they always fail to take into account critical variables. Activist groups like the National Organization for Women have a fallback position: that women’s education and career choices are not truly free—they are driven by powerful sexist stereotypes. In this view, women’s tendency to retreat from the workplace to raise children or to enter fields like early childhood education and psychology, rather than better paying professions like petroleum engineering, is evidence of continued social coercion. Here is the problem: American women are among the best informed and most self-determining human beings in the world. To say that they are manipulated into their life choices by forces beyond their control is divorced from reality and demeaning, to boot. Continue reading
Sherman at the end of his memoirs has a chapter on the military lessons of the war. Two of the most prescient listed by him are the impact of the telegraph and railroads on the War:
For the rapid transmission of orders in an army covering a large space of ground, the magnetic telegraph is by far the best, though habitually the paper and pencil, with good mounted orderlies, answer every purpose. I have little faith in the signal-service by flags and torches, though we always used them; because, almost invariably when they were most needed, the view was cut off by intervening trees, or by mists and fogs. There was one notable instance in my experience, when the signal-flags carried a message. of vital importance over the heads of Hood’s army, which had interposed between me and Allatoona, and had broken the telegraph-wires–as recorded in Chapter XIX.; but the value of the magnetic telegraph in war cannot be exaggerated, as was illustrated by the perfect concert of action between the armies in Virginia and Georgia during 1864. Hardly a day intervened when General Grant did not know the exact state of facts with me, more than fifteen hundred miles away as the wires ran. So on the field a thin insulated wire may be run on improvised stakes or from tree to tree for six or more miles in a couple of hours, and I have seen operators so skillful, that by cutting the wire they would receive a message with their tongues from a distant station. As a matter of course, the ordinary commercial wires along the railways form the usual telegraph-lines for an army, and these are easily repaired and extended as the army advances, but each army and wing should have a small party of skilled men to put up the field-wire, and take it down when done. This is far better than the signal-flags and torches. Our commercial telegraph-lines will always supply for war enough skillful operators. Continue reading
Over at Catholic Education Daily, Kimberly Scharfenberger has done a yeowoman’s job in culling together some data concerning the nation’s Catholic colleges and law schools:
- They boast 65 alumni who are members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
- That’s 15% of the House’s membership, twice the number of Catholic 4-year institutions of higher education in the United States.
Is that political clout something about which the Church should be proud?
Scharfenberger reports that 50%+ of these Catholic college alumni/ae—38 to be precise—have votes on abortion that “should mortify their alma maters.”
Pro-abortion organizations such as the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) and Planned Parenthood have rated most of those 38 alumni/ae at 100%. In contrast, the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) has rated many of them at 0% when the vote comes to significant life-related issues.
Here’s the roll call of those 38 members of the U.S. House of Representatives who were educated at Catholic institutions and have consistently voted in favor of abortion rights:
- Brad Ashford (NE)
- Brendan Boyle (PA)
- Mike Capuano (MA)
- David Cicilline(RI)
- Gerry Connolly (VA)
- John Delaney (MD)
- Rosa DeLauro (CN)
- Mark DeSaulnier (CA)
- Deborah Dingell (MI)
- Sam Farr (CA)
- Lois Frankel (FL)
- Steny Hoyer (MD)
- Jared Huffman (CA)
- Hakeem Jeffries (NY)
- Eddie Bernice Johnson(TX)
- Bill Keating (MA)
- Ann McLane Kuster (NH)
- Ted Lieu (CA)
- Zoe Lofgren (CA)
- Stephen Lynch (MA)
- Sean Patrick Maloney(NY)
- Betty McCollum (MN)
- Gwen Moore (WI)
- Jerrold Nadler (NY)
- Rick Nolan (MN)
- Bill Pascrell (NJ)
- Nancy Pelosi(CA)
- Mike Quigley (IL)
- Charles Rangel (NY)
- Kathleen Rice (NY)
- Bobby Scott(VA)
- Albio Sires (NJ)
- Adam Smith(WA)
- Chris Van Hollen (MD)
- Juan Vargas(CA)
- Filemon Vela, Jr.(TX)
- Pete Visclosky(IN)
- Peter Welch(VT)
Another interesting factoid: Of those 38, 27 attended Jesuit institutions. 11 of them—25%—attended Georgetown University.
Something about which the Church should be proud? No.
About which the Church should boast? No.
Something those institutions should honor? No.
But, why did those obviously bright women and men choose to attend Catholic institutions in the first place? It mustn’t have been to learn to think about important matters—like the law and significant life issues—as Catholics do, to paraphrase Blessed John Henry Newman in his Idea of the University and St. John Paul II in Ex Corde Ecclesiae. Or, for that matter, natural law.
No, it must’ve been the institution’s reputation, the prestige associated with the degree awarded, and other such worldly honors and accolades.
“By their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:16).
To read Kimberly Scharfenberger’s article, click on the following link:
To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
Father James Schall, SJ, at The Catholic Thing, takes a look at one of the more popular modern buzzwords: sustainability:
The root of the “sustainability mission,” I suspect, is the practical denial of eternal life. “Sustainability” is an alternative to lost transcendence. It is what happens when suddenly no future but the present one exists. The only “future” of mankind is an on-going planet orbiting down the ages. It always does the exact same, boring thing. This view is actually a form of despair. Our end is the preservation of the race down the ages, not personal eternal life.
“Sustainability” implies strict population control, usually set at about two or three billion (current global population is around 7.3 billion, so many of us will simply have to disappear for sustainability’s sake). Sin and evil imply misusing the earth, not our wills. What we personally do makes little difference. Since children are rationed or even produced artificially as needed, whatever we do sexually is irrelevant. It has no real consequences in this life, the only one that exists.
Some talk of saving the race by fleeing to other planets. This leaves existing billions stuck here. The planet will disappear as the Sun cools. So the final “meaning” of the human race was that it “sustained” itself as long as possible. What is missing from this whole scenario is the notion of man’s “dominion.”
The earth and its resources, including its chief resource, the human mind, are given for the purposes for which each individual was created. Enough resources, including human mind and enterprise, are given for man to accomplish his purpose. When this purpose is accomplished, no more “resources” are needed. In this sense, the revealed doctrine that this world will end is the one that frees us from the dismal “sustaining” cycle that, presumably, goes on and on.
No doubt, while here, we should ”sustain” the world as a “garden” the best we can. But, as in the “beginning,” our key problems will not arise from the abundant Garden itself. They originate in our wills. The Garden does not exist for its own sake but for what goes on in it. This confusion is what is wrong with “sustainability.” Continue reading
On April 29, 1865, President Johnson in his second Presidential Proclamation postpones the national day of mourning that he proclaimed in his first Proclamation:
By the President of the United States of America
Whereas by my proclamation of the 25th instant Thursday, the 25th day of next month, was recommended as a day for special humiliation and prayer in consequence of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, late President of the United States; but
Whereas my attention has since been called to the fact that the day aforesaid is sacred to large numbers of Christians as one of rejoicing for the ascension of the Savior:
Now, therefore, be it known that I, Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, do hereby suggest that the religious services recommended as aforesaid should be postponed until Thursday, the 1st day of June next.
In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington, this 29th day of April, A. D. 1865, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-ninth.
By the President:
Acting Secretary of State. Continue reading
Hmmm. An old friend of Pope Benedict goes public with criticism of Pope Francis:
In a recent lengthy interview with the German Catholic journal Herder Korrespondenz in an issue especially dedicated to the theme of Pope Francis, the renowned and arguably most prominent Catholic philosopher in Germany, Professor Robert Spaemann, a long-time friend of Pope Benedict, has gone public with a strong criticism of Pope Francis that is being discussed nation-wide.
At the beginning of this interview-discussion that included also another German Catholic philosopher, Professor Hans Joas, Spaemann in a calm and differentiated way first acknowledged Pope Francis’ strengths and especially what he calls his “traditional piety”: “He speaks like a Latin-American bishop who is fully rooted in the piety of his people.” Spaemann continues:
“On the other side, in my view, his cult of spontaneity is not helping. In the Vatican, some people are already sighing: ‘Today, he has already again another different idea from yesterday.’ One does not fully get rid of the impression of chaos. And it is irritating how he prepares the Synod. It is the intention that two parties meet at the synod which the Pope wants to lead into a dialogue whereby he himself plays the role of a moderator. In the same time, however, he takes sides already in advance by favoring the position of Cardinal Walter Kasper, he has excluded the John Paul II Institute for Studies on the Family from the pre-Synod consultations and tries with the help of explicit pressure to influence those consultations.”
Spaemann then also criticized Pope Francis for dismissing personnel who have been close to Pope Benedict XVI: “Pope Francis always stresses his close bond with Pope Benedict. In certain ways that certainly also exists. But I wonder why he throws so many people out of the Vatican who had been called in by Benedict.”
The 87-year old Spaemann who had taught at important universities such as the University of Heidelberg and the University of Munich, also criticized Pope Francis for his way of electing new cardinals:
“Take the recent elections of new cardinals. There have now entered into the government of the whole Church completely unknown bishops who at times only have 15,000 Catholics in their dioceses. Bishops with larger dioceses, however, were passed by, even though one must have seen in them a certain extraordinary quality when they were chosen to be archbishops. Why are they then not called to the top? I ask myself, what will be the result in the end – next to a fleeting symbolic gesture? The upcoming Synod will especially have to show what the Holy Father intends.” Continue reading
Judging from his melodramatic “Sic, Semper Tyrannis!” at Ford’s Theater after murdering Lincoln, Booth perceived his role of assassin as being his greatest role, a chance to play in real life a doomed Romantic hero, an avenger of a wronged people. The last twelve days of his life, as he eluded capture must have been disappointing for him, as the newspapers he read, including those who had been highly critical of Lincoln, universally condemned his action. Perhaps he perceived that instead of being a hero, he was fated to be cast as a minor villain, remembered solely due to his slaying of a great hero. Booth wrote in his diary, “With every man’s hand against me, I am here in despair. And why; For doing what Brutus was honored for … And yet I for striking down a greater tyrant than they ever knew am looked upon as a common cutthroat.” Continue reading
Oh, this is rich, John P. Angelos, executive veep of the Baltimore Orioles, stands up for the rioters:
Brett, speaking only for myself, I agree with your point that the principle of peaceful, non-violent protest and the observance of the rule of law is of utmost importance in any society. MLK, Gandhi, Mandela and all great opposition leaders throughout history have always preached this precept. Further, it is critical that in any democracy, investigation must be completed and due process must be honored before any government or police members are judged responsible.
That said, my greater source of personal concern, outrage and sympathy beyond this particular case is focused neither upon one night’s property damage nor upon the acts, but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the U.S. to third-world dictatorships like China and others, plunged tens of millions of good, hard-working Americans into economic devastation, and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American’s civil rights protections in order to control an unfairly impoverished population living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state.
The innocent working families of all backgrounds whose lives and dreams have been cut short by excessive violence, surveillance, and other abuses of the Bill of Rights by government pay the true price, and ultimate price, and one that far exceeds the importances of any kids’ game played tonight, or ever, at Camden Yards. We need to keep in mind people are suffering and dying around the U.S., and while we are thankful no one was injured at Camden Yards, there is a far bigger picture for poor Americans in Baltimore and everywhere who don’t have jobs and are losing economic civil and legal rights, and this makes inconvenience at a ballgame irrelevant in light of the needless suffering government is inflicting upon ordinary Americans.
John P. Angelos is a poor little rich boy. He made his money the old fashioned way: he got it gratis from his Daddy, uber ambulance chaser Peter Angelos, the owner of the Baltimore Orioles. He is a liberal Democrat and has worked glove in fist with the Democrat powers that be in Baltimore, who have controlled the city since World War II, with one, count them, one Republican mayor from 1963 to 1967 to prove the exception to the rule. He is a big time donor to Planned Parenthood that wages a never ending war against urban black unborn babies. If there is a leftist cause in America that Angelos has not paid lip service to, it must be very, very obscure. In short, Angelos is a member in good standing of the liberal Democrat establishment that runs things in Baltimore and Maryland. Let us examine his statement:
Translation: you can ignore the part of my statement that was my window dressing prelude.
“but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore “
Oh, that is rich! Baltimore, above almost all other cities in the country except for Washington, has benefitted from government largesse over that same period. The growth of the federal bureaucracy in Washington has brought endless jobs into the areas that surround Baltimore. What has hurt Baltimore has been a completely corrupt government, former Mayor Sheila Dixon we are looking at you, and the legacy of the Baltimore riots of 1968 that accelerated white flight from Baltimore to its suburbs.
“to third-world dictatorships”
Angelos helped negotiate a two game series in 1999 between the Orioles and the Cuban National Team in Havana. Today, one-quarter of Oriole players are foreign, most of them from Third World nations.
“plunged tens of millions of good, hard-working Americans into economic devastation”
True, the Obama administration, loyally supported by Angelos, has been an economic disaster for most Americans.
“and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American’s civil rights protections”
If Angelos were truly concerned about civil rights in Maryland, he and his Daddy have more than enough pull with the Maryland Democrat Party to make a difference in Maryland.
“of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state.”
Having rioters run wild is not the way to convince people that the police have too much authority. Perhaps an experiment could be conducted and have the police reduce their presence today around Oriole Park? Continue reading
A republic, if you can keep it.
Bravo to Professor Stephen Bainbridge:
To elites in his circles, Kingsfield continued, “at best religion is something consenting adult should do behind closed doors. They don’t really understand that there’s a link between Sister Helen Prejean’s faith and the workd she does on the death penalty. There’s a lot of looking down on flyover country, one middle America.
“The sad thing,” he said, “is that the old ways of aspiring to truth, seeing all knowledge as part of learning about the nature of reality, they don’t hold. It’s all about power. They’ve got cultural power, and think they should use it for good, but their idea of good is not anchored in anything. They’ve got a lot of power in courts and in politics and in education. Their job is to challenge people to think critically, but thinking critically means thinking like them. They really do think that they know so much more than anybody did before, and there is no point in listening to anybody else, because they have all the answers, and believe that they are good.”
“If I said something that was construed as attacking a gay student, I could have my life made miserable with a year or two of litigation — and if I didn’t have tenure, there could be a chance that my career would be ruined,” he said. “Even if you have tenure, a few people who make allegations of someone being hateful can make a tenured professor’s life miserable.”
Polycarp wasn’t threatened with people making his life miserable. He was threatened with being burnt at the stake. And he refused to deny Christ. And he went to his death thanking God for allowing him to be counted among the Church’s martyrs.
I am a sinner who is far from perfect. But I refuse to be a closeted sinner. So I am going to continue teaching and writing about Catholic Social Thought. And I’m going to go on having a picture of St Thomas More in my office. And I’m going to go on having many books on religion in my office. And I’m going to go on wearing my ashes to class on Ash Wednesday. And I’m going to go on pushing back when people infringe on freedom of speech and religion, especially on campuses.
And if my colleagues don’t like that, all I can say is “Come and Have a Go If You Think You’re Hard Enough.” After all, if I may be forgiven quoting the great reformer, “Here I stand; I can do no other.” Continue reading
After the massive bloodletting of the Civil War, one would have hoped that Death would have taken at least a brief holiday in the US. Such was not the case. On April 27th 1865, the SS Sultana, a Mississipi paddlewheeler steamer, constructed in 1863 for the cotton trade, was serving as a transport. Its cargo was appoximately 2500 Union soldiers, many of them former POWS, some of them survivors of Andersonville. The Union soldiers boarded at Vicksburg. The Sultana while in port at Vicksburg had a patch put on its steam boiler. The repair was clearly inadequate, a new boiler being needed. Continue reading
Two quotations from Thornton Wilder’s Our Town at the beginning of Act III:
“Now there are some things we all know, but we don’t take’m out and look at’m very often. We all know that something is eternal. And it ain’t houses and it ain’t names, and it ain’t earth, and it ain’t even the stars… everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings. All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you’d be surprised how people are always losing hold of it. There’s something way down deep that’s eternal about every human being.”
“Over there are some Civil War veterans. Iron flags on their graves…New Hampshire boys… had a notion that the Union ought to be kept together, though they’d never seen more than fifty miles of it themselves. All they knew was the name, friends – the United States of America. The United States of America. And they went and died about it.”
The first quote reminds me of this passage from CS Lewis:
“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”
How different our view of humanity if we view us as being merely intelligent animals or as immortal spirits sheathed in flesh.
The second quote is indicative of the old fashioned patriot that Wilder was, as demonstrated by his serving in the Army in World War I and in the Army Air Corps in World War II. Civil War veterans in his day were as far in time from him as World War II veterans are from us. Both groups of veterans, and the memory of them, serve as anchors for patriotism and heroism for the generations that came after them.
We are creatures of eternity but live in time and what we do in time echoes not only in eternity but for those who come after us. Continue reading