PopeWatch: Galatians


When the Pope engages in exegesis of Scripture, PopeWatch has the sick fascination of someone viewing an impending car crash.  From Vatican Radio:


The Pope pointed out three “attitudes” that we can have with regard to the Spirit. The first is that which Saint Paul rebuked in the Galatians: the belief that one can be justified through the Law, and not by Jesus, “who makes sense of the Law.” And so they were “too rigid.” They are the same kind of people who attack Jesus and who the Lord called hypocrites:

“And this attachment to the Law ignores the Holy Spirit. It does not grant that the redemption of Christ goes forward with the Holy Spirit. It ignores that: there is only the Law. It is true that there are the Commandments and we have to follow the Commandments; but always through the grace of this great gift that the Father has given us, His Son, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. And so the Law is understood. But don’t reduce the Spirit and the Son to the Law. This was the problem of these people: they ignored the Holy Spirit, and they did not know to go forward. Closed, closed in precepts: we have to do this, we have to do that. At times, it can happen that we fall into this temptation.”

The Doctors of the Law, the Pope said, “bewitch with ideas”:

“Because ideologies bewitch; and so Paul begins here: ‘O stupid Galatians, who has bewitched you?’ Those who preach with ideologies: It’s absolutely just! They bewitch: It’s all clear. But look, the revelation is not clear, eh? The revelation of God is discovered more and more each day, it is always on a journey. Is it clear? Yes! It is crystal clear! It is Him, but we have to discover it along the way. And those who believe they have the whole truth in their hands are not [just] ignorant. Paul says more: [you are] ‘stupid’, because you have allowed yourselves to be bewitched.”

The second attitude is grieving the Holy Spirit. This happens “when we do not allow Him to inspire us, to lead us forward in the Christian life,” when “we don’t let Him tell us, not with the theology of the Law, but with the liberty of the Spirit, what we should do.” That, the Pope said, is how “we become lukewarm,” we fall into “Christian mediocrity,” because the Holy Spirit “cannot do great works in us.”

The third attitude, on the other hand, “is to open ourselves to the Holy Spirit, and let the Spirit carry us forward. That’s what the Apostles did, [with] the courage of the day of Pentecost. They lost their fear and opened themselves to the Holy Spirit.” In order “to understand, to welcome the words of Jesus,” the Pope said, “it is necessary to open oneself to the power of the Holy Spirit.” When a man or a woman opens themself to the Holy Spirit, it is like a sail boat that allows itself to be moved by the wind and goes forward, forward, forward, and never stops.” But this happens when we pray that we might be open to the Holy Spirit:

“We can ask ourselves today, in a moment during the day, ‘Do I ignore the Holy Spirit? And do I know that if I go to Sunday Mass, if I do this, if I do that, is it enough?’ Second, ‘Is my life a kind of half a life, lukewarm, that saddens the Holy Spirit, and doesn’t allow that power in me to carry me forward, to be open?’ Or finally, ‘Is my life a continual prayer to open myself to the Holy Spirit, so that He can carry me forward with the joy of the Gospel and make me understand the teaching of Jesus, the true doctrine, that does not bewitch, that does not make us stupid, but the true [teaching]?’ And it helps us understand where our weaknesses are, those things that sadden Him; and it carries us forward, and also carrying forward the Name of Jesus to others and teaching the path of salvation. May the Lord give us this grace: to open ourselves to the Holy Spirit, so that we will not become stupid, bewitched men and women who grieve the Holy Spirit.” Continue reading

Trump on Lincoln

My personal favorite in the debate last night.  Clinton’s attempt to invoke Lincoln deserved Trump’s comeback.  It reminds me of the politician who said that his opponent reminded him of Abraham Lincoln, if one could imagine a short, fat, corrupt and lying Abe.

Quotes Suitable for Framing: Christopher Columbus

“No one should fear to undertake any task in the name of our Saviour, if it is just and if the intention is purely for His holy service. The working out of all things has been assigned to each person by our Lord, but it all happens according to His sovereign will, even though He gives advice. He lacks nothing that is in the power of men to give Him. Oh, what a gracious Lord, who desires that people should perform for Him those things for which He holds Himself responsible! Day and night, moment by moment, everyone should express their most devoted gratitude to Him.”

Christopher Columbus

Scott Adams’ Take on the Debate





Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, has had probably the most acute analysis on this strange campaign this year.  Here is his take on the debate:


I just watched the debate on replay. Trump won bigly. This one wasn’t close. And keep in mind that I called Clinton the winner of the first debate, and I now endorse Gary Johnson, primarily to avoid being called an alleged enabler of alleged sex abusers and their alleged enablers. That basket of deplorables includes both Bill and Hillary Clinton (the alleged doer and the alleged cleaner-upper) plus Trump and his alleged misdeeds.

Some quick reactions…

1. When the Access Hollywood tape came up, Trump dismissed it as locker room banter that he regrets. You expected that part. The persuasion move was that he quickly contrasted that “small” issue with images of ISIS beheadings, and cage-drownings. It was a high ground maneuver, a powerful visual anchor (like the Rosie O’Donnell move from his first primary debate), and a contrast play. In this framing, Trump cares about saving your life while Clinton cares about your choice of words. I realize the issue is Trump’s alleged deeds, not his words. But in terms of debate persuasion, Trump nailed it hard.

2. Clinton’s body language was defensive. Trump is physically larger and prowled the stage. He won the optics. It only got worse when a fly landed on Clinton’s face mid-answer. Both candidates looked perfect in terms of wardrobe and hair, given what they have to work with.

3. Trump threw in enough random details about Syria to persuade viewers that he knows more than they thought he knew. And he did a great job selling the idea that he knows more than the generals (as ridiculous as that sounds), at least in terms of not announcing where we plan to attack. I agree with the moderator who said there might be good reasons for announcing attacks – such as giving time for civilians to leave – but it wasn’t quite a counter-argument. Trump succeeded in looking informed on Syria, and at the same time reinforced the “can’t keep a secret” theme for Clinton.

4. Trump’s pre-debate show with Bill’s alleged victims dismantled Clinton’s pro-woman high ground before the debate even started. I didn’t see the pre-debate show, but I assume it was impactful. It had to be. Clinton looked shaken from the start.

5. The best quotable moments from the debate are pro-Trump. His comment about putting Clinton in jail has that marvelous visual persuasion quality about it, and it was the laugh of the night, which means it will be repeated endlessly. He also looked like he meant it.

Clinton’s Abe Lincoln defense for two-faced politicking failed as hard as anything can fail. Mrs. Clinton, I knew Abe Lincoln, and you’re no Abe Lincoln. You know that was in your head. Or it will be. 

6. Most of the rest was policy stuff that no one understands or cares about. We don’t know how to fix Obamacare or what to do with TPP. But by acting competent on these and other policy issues, Trump gains more than Clinton in persuasion.

7. Trump attacked Clinton on emails, and did a good job. His base needed that.

8. Clinton had to defend her “deplorables” comment. She said she regretted it. Regret isn’t what the public wanted to hear. That’s about her. They wanted to hear that she doesn’t think that way. She failed to address the emotional part of that topic, and that’s a persuasion fail. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Bear Growls: Leftist Cardinals



Our bruin friend at Saint Corbinian’s Bear takes a look at the three new US cardinals appointed by Pope Francis:

Cupich, Tobin, and Farrell new U.S. Francis Cardinals, signaling a switch away from culture wars. Actually, it signals a switch away from Catholicism. And the Bear shall continue to be right when he says again and again that things are far worse than you think in Jorge Bergoglio’s Church. Now he is consolidating his gains.

The Church in America shall be more the Democrat PAC. It shall continue to sacrifice ecclesiastic physiology for ecclesiastic pathology. It will perpetuate the anti-Catholic leftist party who will elect the next pope in Francis’ image. More Muslim refugees; more running cover for renegade nuns; and more excuses for Muslim terrorism. More support for women deacons; even women deacons delivering homilies.

Read the jubilation at America magazine. BTW the author wants us to take him seriously, when he touts a book, “The Tweetable Pope: a Spiritual Revolution in 140 Characters.” That pretty much says it all about everything, the Bear reckons. Continue reading

Columbus, Catholicism and Courage


“This, indeed, is probably one of the Enemy’s motives for creating a dangerous world—a world in which moral issues really come to the point. He sees as well as you do that courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality. A chastity or honesty, or mercy, which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful till it became risky. “

C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

This is one of those years in which the government decreed Columbus Day, the second Monday in October, does not fall on October 12, the date, under the Julian calendar, when Columbus discovered the New World.  Columbus Day is observed also in Spain as Dia de la Hispanidad and Fiesta Nacional and as the charmingly unpc Dia de la Raza in most Latin American nations.

In this country Columbus Day used to be an uncomplicated celebration, especially for Italian Americans.  Now it has become controversial with Columbus blamed in some quarters for genocide against Indians and being the founder of the American slave trade.  As Dinesh D’Souza pointed out in this article in 1995 in First Things, the condemnation of Columbus today tells us far more about current political battles than it does about the historical record of Columbus.  From a modern standpoint there is indeed much to criticize Columbus for since, in most ways, he was a typical man of his time, as we are, in most ways, typical children of ours.  Among other views inimical to our time,  he saw nothing wrong about establishing colonies and bringing native peoples under the rule of European powers.  He had little respect for the religions of native people and wanted them to be Catholic, as, indeed, he wanted all the world to be Catholic.  (I see nothing wrong in this myself, but rest assured most of our contemporaries in this country would.)

Prior to ascending the pulpit to launch a jeremiad against someone of a prior time however, it might be useful to consider the criticisms that Columbus might have of our time.  The embrace of nihilistic atheism by so many in the West in our time would have appalled him. The easy availability of the most degrading types of pornography would have sickened him.  Our weapons of mass destruction he would have seen as a sign of the reign of the Anti-Christ.  Ecumenicalism he would have viewed as a turning away from the True Faith.  The celebration of abortion as a right would have seemed to him as the ultimate covenant with death.  The Sixties of the last century popularized the term generation gap, describing the difficulty that parents and their teenage offspring had in understanding each other.  Between our time and that of Columbus there is a generations’ chasm and the use of Columbus as a whipping boy in current political disputes only increases our problem of understanding him and his time. Continue reading

As Hillary Reaches for the Smelling Salts



Bill Clinton’s deposition on Monica Lewinsky.  A good thing to remember when Hillary rants tonight about how outraged she is about what Trump said.  Ah for the halcyon days of that Clinton’s presidency when parents had to shoo kids out of the room when the news came on, and when oral sex and the oval office became synonymous.  Trump is a pig, but having these characters act morally outraged over Trump is truly nauseating.

Columbus and the Virgin Mary


The Virgin of the Navigators is an alterpiece painted in 1536 by Alejo Fernandez for the chapel at the House of Trade in Seville.  Under the protection of the Virgin are depicted King Ferdinand II of Aragon, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, and, kneeling on the viewer’s right are Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci and one of the Pinzon Brothers.  In the background are gathering the peoples of the New World.  The painting was made five years after the appearance of Mary as Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico in 1531, and I wonder if word of this miracle had made its way back to Spain.

At any rate, I know Columbus would have loved the painting.  All of his life he had a special devotion to Mary, as demonstrated by the name of his flagship, Santa Maria, and his strict observance of sailors singing Salve Regina at around 7:00 PM after saying their evening prayers.  ( The full name of the Santa Maria was Santa Maria de la  Imaculada ConcepcionSaint Mary of the Immaculate Conception, which indicates that Columbus believed in the Immaculate Conception of Mary.)  On the return voyage from discovering the New World, when supplies were rapidly running out, Columbus and his crew promised pilgrimages to various Marian shrines if they made it back to Spain.  In his will Columbus left a legacy to build a church dedicated to Saint Mary of the Conception on Hispaniola, a wish, alas, his executors did not carry out.  Columbus would rarely write a letter without inserting this phrase:  Jesus cum Maria sit nobis in via. (May Jesus with Mary be with us on the way.)  Not a bad hope for all of us. Continue reading

Debate Open Thread



The second debate between Trump and Clinton starts at 8:00 PM Central Time tonight, and for lovers of political theater it promises to be exceptional.  Any other politician would be dead meat now but Donald Trump is not “any other politician.”  He isn’t a politician at all, as he has demonstrated time and time again in this campaign.  What began, I suspect, as a vanity ride for him, has turned into a political movement that has been consistently underestimated by his foes, including me.  Well, I am done underestimating Donald Trump.  Tonight promises to be an epic disaster for him, but I would not be surprised to see him throw away the political rulebook yet again and snatch a victory from a debacle.  We shall see.  For a political junkie like me, it does not get any better than this.


Update:  Trump has just held a news conference featuring Juanita Broaddrick, Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey and Kathy Shelton.  It looks like he is taking the nuclear option unless this is a pre-debate headfake.


Update:  Trump thus far, a half hour into the debate, is bringing his A game in the debate:  Calm, articulate and on the attack.  He has won most of the exchanges with Hillary.

Update:  An hour in Trump is more than holding his own.  Clinton came into this debate over confident and Trump came in knowing that he couldn’t afford another loss.  Frank Luntz’ focus group is showing that 17 think Trump is winning, 4 think Hillary is winning and 9 think it is a tie.

Update:  I called the first debate for Clinton and I think Trump is just as clearly the victor in the second debate.  A bravura performance considering the pressure Trump is under.

Update:  From the Luntz focus group:

Focus Group: Who are you willing to vote for?

BEFORE #DEBATE • Hillary: 8 • Trump: 9

AFTER DEBATE • Hillary: 4 • Trump: 18

Second Debate

I loved the show Rawhide when I was a kid and I imagine that there were more than a few ticked CBS viewers on October 7, 1960 when they tuned in to see the Western only to view two politicians debating!  Nixon wore television makeup for this second ever Presidential debate, unlike the first one, and most pundits at the time thought he won this second debate.  Nixon had spent little time actually practicing law, but he was good at the cut and thrust of verbal warfare, while Kennedy was better at set piece speeches.  Unfortunately for Nixon, viewership fell off by about twenty million viewers after the initial debate that he lost.  In those long ago days before the internet, if the debate wasn’t watched when first broadcast, it wasn’t going to be seen at all, except in the briefest of snippets on the evening news.

October 8, 1918: Alvin C. York Renders Unto Caesar



13And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and of the Herodians; that they should catch him in his words. 14Who coming, say to him: Master, we know that thou art a true speaker, and carest not for any man; for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar; or shall we not give it? 15Who knowing their wiliness, saith to them: Why tempt you me? bring me a penny that I may see it. 16And they brought it him. And he saith to them: Whose is this image and inscription? They say to him, Caesar’s. 17And Jesus answering, said to them: Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.

Mark 12:  13-17

So you see my religion and my experience…told me not to go to war, and the memory of my ancestors…told me to get my gun and go fight. I didn’t know what to do. I’m telling you there was a war going on inside me, and I didn’t know which side to lean to. I was a heap bothered. It is a most awful thing when the wishes of your God and your country…get mixed up and go against each other. One moment I would make up my mind to follow God, and the next I would hesitate and almost make up my mind to follow Uncle Sam. Then I wouldn’t know which to follow or what to do. I wanted to follow both but I couldn’t. They were opposite. I wanted to be a good Christian and a good American too.

Alvin C. York

Drafted into the Army, serving in the All American division, Alvin C. York had a moral quandary.  A crack shot from years of hunting to feed his poverty stricken family in the hills of Tennessee, he was also a fervent Christian.  He loved his country but took literally the Commandment “Thou Shalt Not Kill”.  Requesting a ten day leave to go home, which was granted, he prayed fervently to God for an answer to his dilemma.

“As I prayed there alone, a great peace kind of come into my soul and a great calm come over me, and I received my assurance. He heard my prayer and He come to me on the mountainside. I didn’t see Him, of course, but he was there just the same. I knowed he was there. He understood that I didn’t want to be a fighter or a killing man, that I didn’t want to go to war to hurt nobody nohow. And yet I wanted to do what my country wanted me to do. I wanted to serve God and my country, too. He understood all of this. He seen right inside of me, and He knowed I had been troubled and worried, not because I was afraid, but because I put Him first, even before my country, and I only wanted to do what would please Him.”

So He took pity on me and He gave me the assurance I needed. I didn’t understand everything. I didn’t understand how He could let me go to war and even kill and yet not hold it against me. I didn’t even want to understand. It was His will and that was enough for me. So at last I begun to see the light. I begun to understand that no matter what a man is forced to do, so long as he is right in his own soul he remains a righteous man. I knowed I would go to war. I knowed I would be protected from all harm, and that so long as I believed in Him He would not allow even a hair on my head to be harmed.”

In the fall of 1918, York’s regiment participated in the Meuse-Argonne offensive, the largest American operation of the war.  On October 8, 1918, York’s regiment took part in an attack to seize German positions along the Decauville rail-line north of Chatel-Chehery, France.  The attack encountered savage German resistance as York noted in his diary:

The Germans got us, and they got us right smart. They just stopped us dead in our tracks. Their machine guns were up there on the heights overlooking us and well hidden, and we couldn’t tell for certain where the terrible heavy fire was coming from… And I’m telling you they were shooting straight. Our boys just went down like the long grass before the mowing machine at home. Our attack just faded out… And there we were, lying down, about halfway across [the valley] and those German machine guns and big shells getting us hard.

Sergeant Bernard Early was ordered to take 16 men including York and work his way around the German position to take out the machine guns.  Early and his men overran a German headquarters, when German machine guns opened up killing six of the Americans, and wounding three others, including Sergeant Early.  York, the reluctant soldier, now found himself in command of the remaining seven soldiers.

And those machine guns were spitting fire and cutting down the undergrowth all around me something awful. And the Germans were yelling orders. You never heard such a racket in all of your life. I didn’t have time to dodge behind a tree or dive into the brush… As soon as the machine guns opened fire on me, I began to exchange shots with them. There were over thirty of them in continuous action, and all I could do was touch the Germans off just as fast as I could. I was sharp shooting… All the time I kept yelling at them to come down. I didn’t want to kill any more than I had to. But it was they or I. And I was giving them the best I had. Continue reading

Politics Open Thread

The most hilarious feature in the above video is the idea that Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton are sleeping together.  Lots of political news, all of it unedifying.  We have Trump from 2005 talking to Billy Bush, yes a scion of that Bush family, braying about his attempt to physically seduce a married woman.  Trump is a pig about women?  Who knew?  Then we have hacks of Hillary’s three speeches to Goldman Sachs, for which she was paid $675,000 for slightly more than three hours of speechmaking, hitherto kept secret, back in 2013 where we learn, to our stupified amazement, that she says one thing in public and one thing in private as a matter of policy, and that she believes in utopian schemes, such as having a common market for North and South America powered by green energy.


Too much going on in the law mines today for me to do more than note all this in passing.  This open thread is your opportunity to comment on the political scene.  As usual, be concise, be charitable and, above all, be amusing!


PopeWatch: Checkmate




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


Society of St. Pius X chess grandmaster Larcel Mafebvre has turned four of his pieces into bishops without approval from the World Chess Federation, officials have confirmed.

“Mr. Mafebvre has, without approval from the Federation, created bishops out of pawn pieces,” said World Chess Federation head Antonio Salamanca. “After speaking with Mr. Mafebvre regarding abiding by the new chess rules, wherein players are given the freedom to concelebrate the match, and to say the words of ‘checkmate’ in the vernacular, he has sadly decided to ignore our requests.”

Salamanca went on to tell reporters that Mafebvre had automatically incurred excheckommunication because of his disobedience.

“I must do what is in my conscience to preserve the dignity of the game,”  Mafebvre told EOTT in an exclusive interview. “Therefore, I have decided to consecrate four of my pieces into bishops to help my depleted side, for, from some Fischer, the smoke of Satan has entered the chessboard of God.”

At press time, one time follower of Larcel Mafebvre’s, Bavid Dawden, told EOTT that he has decided to become head of the World Chess Federation, though he only has three pawns to play with. Continue reading

Missouri Waltz



Something for the weekend.  Missouri Waltz.  Published in 1914, the melody was by John Valentine Eppel, arrangement by Frederic Knight Logan, with James Royce Shannon supplying the lyrics.  Initially the song sold poorly, but its popularity increased over the years.  After Harry Truman became President it became associated with him, and was played constantly when he appeared during his long uphill campaign throughout the nation in 1948.  In 1949 Missouri adopted it as its state song. Continue reading

Democrats Trying to Win Election in Traditional Manner


Democrats never change.  News from the Illinois county to my east:



Voter ID laws are racist. Asking questions about people during the voter registration process is xenophobia. If you reduce early voting periods you’re suppressing minorities. All in all, Democrats know that voter fraud is essentially an illusion created by Republicans in an effort to ensure that only rich white people get to vote. That’s why I’m sure that this story out of the Land of Lincoln can’t possibly be correct. (USA Politics)

The Kankakee County Attorney’s office is investigating at least three cases of voter fraud where people were offered bribes for voting.

In addition, State’s Attorney Jamie Boyd said, “several” vote-by-mail applications have been mailed in from people who live outside the county, The Daily Journal is reporting.

“This unprecedented action was taken in response to reports of individuals from Chicago offering gifts to potential voters in exchange for a vote for Kate Cloonen, Hillary Clinton and others,” Boyd said in the news release. “Our office takes seriously the obligation to protect the rights of citizens to vote for the candidate of their choice, and to do so without undue influence from special interest groups.

There was a time (back in the bad old days) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin when unscrupulous politicians would literally drive around and round up homeless people or those who were simply down on their luck and offer them a few bucks to go register to vote and cast a ballot for the politician looking to make the deal. In some cases it wasn’t even cash, but packs of cigarettes. You’re probably thinking that we’re talking about the Great Depression here (and I’m sure that went on, particularly in New York City) but we’re actually talking about two elections ago. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Sarah Out




The tight little world of the Vatican revolves around signs, and Edward Pentin brings us a rather clear one:



In a last minute change, Pope Francis will open the academic year at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family in Rome, replacing Cardinal Robert Sarah whom the Institute had originally scheduled for the task.

The news of the Holy Father’s attendance at the Oct. 27 inauguration comes just weeks after the Pope controversially hand-picked two prelates — Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia and Msgr. Pierangelo Sequeri — to head the institute.

The appointments caused some distress as Archbishop Paglia and Msgr. Sequeri, respectively the Institute’s new grand chancellor and president, have expressed views that critics say contradict the moral clarity of the Church’s traditional approach to marriage and the family, something the Institute has always tried to uphold.

Their arrival also came on the heels of the Synods on the Family when some elements of Pope St. John Paul II’s teaching on marriage and the family were sidelined by the synod organizers in favor of the kinds of views held by the new leadership.

Some see the replacement of Cardinal Sarah, who heads the Vatican’s department for liturgy, as a blow to the African cardinal whose preference for clarity when it comes to the Church’s moral teaching is well known. His substitution also follows his outspoken comments in July, advocating priests to celebrate Mass facing East, which earned him a reprimand from the Vatican. Continue reading

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