Lepanto

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On October 7, 1571 the forces of the Holy League under Don Juan of Austria, illegitimate half brother of Philip II, in an ever-lasting tribute to Italian and Spanish courage and seamanship, smashed the Turkish fleet.  This was the turning point in the centuries-long struggle between the Christian West and the forces of the Ottoman Empire over the Mediterranean.  The Holy League had been the work of Pope Saint Pius V, who miraculously saw the victory in Rome on the day of the battle, and he proclaimed the feast day of Our Lady of Victory to whom he attributed the victory.

For a good overview of the battle of Lepanto read this review by Victor Davis Hanson here of  The Victory of the West: The Great Christian-Muslim Clash at the Battle of Lepanto by Niccolò Capponi.

Before the battle Don John of Austria went about the ships of his fleet and said this to his crews:  ‘My children, we are here to conquer or die. In death or in victory, you will win immortality.’  The chaplains of the fleet preached sermons on the theme:  “No Heaven For Cowards”.    Many of the men were clutching rosaries just before the battle.  Admiral Andrea Doria went into the fight with an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe aboard his ship.  Back in Europe countless Catholics were praying rosaries at the request of Saint Pope Pius V for the success of the Christian fleet.

At the hour of the battle, and this fact is very well attested, the Pope was talking to some cardinals in Rome.  He abruptly ceased the conversation, opened a window and looked heavenward.  He then turned to the cardinals and said:   “It is not now a time to talk any more upon business; but to give thanks to God for the victory he has granted to the arms of the Christians.”  So that Catholics would never forget Lepanto and the intercession of Mary, he instituted the feast of Our Lady of Victory.  To aid in this remembrance G. K. Chesterton in 1911 wrote his epic poem Lepanto:

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White founts falling in the courts of the sun,
And the Soldan of Byzantium is smiling as they run;
There is laughter like the fountains in that face of all men feared,
It stirs the forest darkness, the darkness of his beard,
It curls the blood-red crescent, the crescent of his lips,
For the inmost sea of all the earth is shaken with his ships.
They have dared the white republics up the capes of Italy,
They have dashed the Adriatic round the Lion of the Sea,
And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss,
And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross,
The cold queen of England is looking in the glass;
The shadow of the Valois is yawning at the Mass;
From evening isles fantastical rings faint the Spanish gun,
And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun. ']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Ted Cruz on the Courts Mandating Gay Marriage

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At the same time, the candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the Government upon vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made in ordinary litigation between parties in personal actions the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their Government into the hands of that eminent tribunal.

Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address

 

 

God bless the Federal judiciary!  After having such a smashing success in “resolving” the abortion issue by legalizing it, they have “resolved” the gay marriage debate by mandating it.  Senator Ted Cruz (R.Tx.) is having none of it:

The Supreme Court’s decision to let rulings by lower court judges stand that redefine marriage is both tragic and indefensible. By refusing to rule if the States can define marriage, the Supreme Court is abdicating its duty to uphold the Constitution. The fact that the Supreme Court Justices, without providing any explanation whatsoever, have permitted lower courts to strike down so many state marriage laws is astonishing.

This is judicial activism at its worst. The Constitution entrusts state legislatures, elected by the People, to define marriage consistent with the values and mores of their citizens. Unelected judges should not be imposing their policy preferences to subvert the considered judgments of democratically elected legislatures.

The Supreme Court is, de facto, applying an extremely broad interpretation to the 14th Amendment without saying a word – an action that is likely to have far-reaching consequences. Because of the Court’s decision today, 11 States will likely now be forced to legalize same-sex marriage: Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Utah, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming. And this action paves the way for laws prohibiting same-sex marriage to be overturned in any state.

It is beyond dispute that when the 14th Amendment was adopted 146 years ago, as a necessary post-Civil War era reform, it was not imagined to also mandate same-sex marriage, but that is what the Supreme Court is implying today. The Court is making the preposterous assumption that the People of the United States somehow silently redefined marriage in 1868 when they ratified the 14th Amendment.

Nothing in the text, logic, structure, or original understanding of the 14th Amendment or any other constitutional provision authorizes judges to redefine marriage for the Nation. It is for the elected representatives of the People to make the laws of marriage, acting on the basis of their own constitutional authority, and protecting it, if necessary, from usurpation by the courts.

Marriage is a question for the States. That is why I have introduced legislation, S. 2024, to protect the authority of state legislatures to define marriage. And that is why, when Congress returns to session, I will be introducing a constitutional amendment to prevent the federal government or the courts from attacking or striking down state marriage laws.

Traditional marriage is an institution whose integrity and vitality are critical to the health of any society. We should remain faithful to our moral heritage and never hesitate to defend it. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Devastating

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In regard to the colored people, there is always more that is benevolent, I perceive, than just, manifested towards us. What I ask for the negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice. The American people have always been anxious to know what they shall do with us… I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are worm-eaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! … And if the negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! If you see him on his way to school, let him alone, don’t disturb him! If you see him going to the dinner table at a hotel, let him go! If you see him going to the ballot box, let him alone, don’t disturb him! If you see him going into a work-shop, just let him alone, — your interference is doing him positive injury.

 

January 26, 1865-Frederick Douglass, abolitionist and Republican –

 

 

I have had my eye on State Senator Elbert Lee Guillory (R.La) for a while now.  Go here to read an earlier post.  Now he has unleashed a devastating ad against Senator Mary Landrieu (D.La).  Robert Tracinski at The Federalist explains why this could have national significance:

This ad immediately needs to be given massive funding and run in a continuous loop on Louisiana television for the next month.

Guillory himself is exactly the kind of spokesman the Republican Party needs to recruit on the national level. He will be running for lieutenant governor of Louisiana next year, which should give him a good platform.

The power of Guillory’s message comes from a combination of the quiet dignity of his manner (he has an air of old-fashioned Southern formality), his roots in a down-at-heels black community, and the clear failure of the big promises made to blacks on behalf of the welfare state.

That’s the key issue. Since the launch of the Great Society, Democrats have thrown money into the welfare state, specifically promising that this would lift blacks out of poverty. Fifty years later, it is hard to claim that this has achieved any of what it claimed it was supposed to do.

The results are particularly bad in the big cities. I noted recently that the reason Democrats think income inequality is such a winning political issue is because the districts they control have been turned into two-tier class societies divided between a small enclave of upper-middle-class whites and vast blighted areas where poor black and Hispanic people live. Megan McArdle notes a similar way in which New York City has stratified itself by chasing the middle class into the suburbs while providing subsidies that keep the poor in the city without really ameliorating their condition.

So the federal welfare state and Democratic management of the big cities has not helped poor blacks; it has merely herded them onto vast urban reservations where their function is to serve as reliable political clients of the Democratic Party.

I have described this as the Southern Strategy in Reverse:

From the 1970s to the 1990s, the Republican Party flipped the votes of Southern whites—but they neglected and comprehensively lost the black vote. Now Democrats are hoping to hold onto their death-grip on minority voters, and they are counting on this vote to rise—but they are pursuing this strategy at the expense of throwing away the white vote. I’m not sure that this quite captures the awfulness of the whole “coalition of the ascendant” strategy. Because it hitches the Democratic Party’s future to voting based on racial and ethnic loyalties, it is basically a strategy that consists of playing the race card from now until the end of time.

As despicable as this strategy is, it is also contains the seeds of its own destruction. The more dependent Democrats become on the racial vote, the more vulnerable they are if they lose any of it. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

A Satire, Not an Instruction Manual

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Infant’s flesh will be in season throughout the year, but more plentiful in March, and a little before and after; for we are told by a grave author, an eminent French physician, that fish being a prolific diet, there are more children born in Roman Catholic countries about nine months after Lent than at any other season; therefore, reckoning a year after Lent, the markets will be more glutted than usual, because the number of popish infants is at least three to one in this kingdom: and therefore it will have one other collateral advantage, by lessening the number of papists among us.

Jonathan Swift, A Modest Proposal (1729)

To sell abortion, arguments about feminism, a woman’s right to choose, equality, freedom, etc., are used for the masses, but the forces that were behind the drive to legalize abortion tended to be clear, at least when talking among themselves, that eugenics was the prime motivation.  Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 81, remembers those days clearly, and, no doubt to the dismay of many contemporary liberals, tends to be fairly honest about that motivation.  Kevin Williamson at National Review Online examines how the eugenics motivation still is the driving force behind abortion:

 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, having decided for some inexplicable reason to do a long interview with a fashion magazine (maybe it is her celebrated collection of lace collars), reaffirmed the most important things we know about her: her partisanship, her elevation of politics over law, and her desire to see as many poor children killed as is feasibly possible.

Speaking about such modest restrictions on abortion as have been enacted over the past several years, Justice Ginsburg lamented that “the impact of all these restrictions is on poor women.” Then she added: “It makes no sense as a national policy to promote birth only among poor people.”

This is not her first time weighing in on the question of what by any intellectually honest standard must be described as eugenics. In an earlier interview, she described the Roe v. Wade decision as being intended to control population growth, “particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.” She was correct in her assessment of Roe; the co-counsel in that case, Ron Weddington, would later advise President Bill Clinton: “You can start immediately to eliminate the barely educated, unhealthy, and poor segment of our country,” by making abortifacients cheap and universally available. “It’s what we all know is true, but we only whisper it.”

In 1980, the punk band the Dead Kennedys released a song called “Kill the Poor.” In it, singer Jello Biafra considers the many benefits to be had from the policy he is singing about: the elimination of “unsightly slums,” the lowering of welfare taxes, reduction of overcrowding, reduction in crime, etc. “The sun beams down on a brand new day,” he declares, “Jane Fonda on the screen today convinced the liberals it’s okay.” To be sure, Mr. Biafra wasn’t singing about abortion; his tongue-in-cheek proposal was for the relatively antiseptic measure of striking poor neighborhoods and housing projects with neutron bombs, eliminating the populations but preserving property values. A ghastly and satirical proposal, to be sure, but not really so different from the case that Justice Ginsburg and others of her ilk make for eliminating those “populations that we don’t want to have too many of.”

“We only whisper it.”

The economist Steven Levitt, for example, has argued that abortion helped to bring down crime rates; that probably isn’t true, but it has not stopped abortion enthusiasts from incorporating crime-reduction into their case for killing the poor. Abortion as a tool of population control remains very much in vogue, particularly with international organizations: “To avoid a world with deteriorating social, economic, and political stability, with the concomitant loss of personal and national security, we must ensure that safe abortion is made available,” writes the American population-control activist and academic Steven Mumford, who also advocates mass sterilizations. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

PopeWatch: Jesuitical

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Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa alerts us to a Jesuitical touch as the Synod on families opens:

ROME, October 4, 2014 – “La Civiltà Cattolica” has waited until the eve of the synod to break the silence that it had maintained until now on the most controversial question: whether or not to allow second weddings after a failed marriage.

And in taking the field it has fully espoused the cause of the innovators, with Cardinal Walter Kasper in the lead, who is cited from the very first lines as a beacon of reference.

“La Civiltà Cattolica” is not just any sort of magazine. Written exclusively by Jesuits, its drafts pass inspection by the Vatican authorities before publication. Pope Francis and the current director of the magazine, Fr. Antonio Spadaro – who has by now become the prince of his interviewers and interpreters – have the closest of working relationships.

In order to call the synod to “openness” on second marriages, “ La Civiltà Cattolica” has made a surprise move. It has dusted off the Council of Trent, precisely that Council which more strictly than any other reaffirmed the unity and indissolubility of the bond of marriage.

That same Council, however – as “La Civiltà Cattolica” recalls – abstained from formally condemning second marriages as practiced in the Eastern Churches, not only among the faithful of the Orthodox rite, but also – in some areas of mixed confession – among Catholics in union with Rome.

What induced the fathers of the Council of Trent to make this gesture that the magazine calls one of “ecumenism” ahead of its time was the case of Catholics living in the Greek islands of the Republic of Venice, who with the permission of their Latin bishops attended Orthodox churches and services. The Venetian ambassadors asked the council to allow these Catholics to maintain their “rites,” including the possibility of contracting second marriages in the case of adultery.

After an animated discussion, the council fathers approved the request with 97 votes against 80, and reformulated the canon that reaffirmed the indissolubility of marriage, avoiding any direct condemnation of the Eastern practice of second marriages.

The author of the article, Fr. Giancarlo Pani, a professor of Christian history at the University of Rome “La Sapienza,” reconstructs the debate that took place at the Council of Trent with a wealth of details and with all the references to the passages from the Gospels and from the Church Fathers made by the bishops and cardinals who spoke at the Council.

But when his turn comes to examine the practice of the undivided Church of the first centuries, Fr. Pani falls back entirely on the reconstruction made by Giovanni Cereti in the 1977 book “Divorce, new marriages, and penance in the primitive Church” – which was also the main, if not the only, source of reference used by Cardinal Kasper in his address to the consistory in February of 2014 – ignoring all of the subsequent studies conducted by illustrious patrologists like Henri Crouzel and Gilles Pelland, also Jesuits, who tore this reconstruction to shreds.

The thesis that emerges from this article of “La Civiltà Cattolica” is that Trent made a gesture of “evangelical mercy” that the synod that is about to open should adopt and reinforce, on behalf of “those Christians who suffer through a failed conjugal relationship.”

In reality, there was no beginning of “openness” to second marriages at Trent, but simply the decision not to enter into direct conflict on this point with the Orthodox Churches, with a prudence that was also exercised over the previous centuries and maintained afterward. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

The Truth About the Crusades

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Breitbart tells us about a new series on EWTN:

 

But in the Middle Ages, kings and knights of Christendom set forth to push back against the inroads of Islamic forces into majority Christian areas in the Holy Land and beyond. Once considered a noble, if ultimately failed, campaign to make sacred sites safe for Christian pilgrims, over the last century or so, the Crusades have gradually become recast as an imperialist surge against peaceful people.

Like many notions currently promulgated by academia and the media, it’s a near-reversal of what actually happened over the course of centuries. As with any great human endeavor, the Crusades had their share of stupidity, brutality, greed, and misadventure, but that is only a piece of the whole story.

And of all the people asked to comment on the Crusades–from scholars to reporters to filmmakers to novelists to activists–one group seldom allowed to have its say is the Catholic Church, whose history is inextricably linked with that of the Crusades.

From October 8-11, at 10 p.m. (ET) each night, EWTN presents The Crusades, a four-part series shot on location in seven countries (Turkey, Israel, France, Austria, England, Spain, and Slovakia). Described at the EWTN blog as “a well-rounded understanding of an important historical event,” each episode features original dramatizations, original music recorded in Europe, and commentary from historians specializing in the period.

These historians are Professor Jonathan Phillips, professor of Crusading History at Royal Holloway, University of London; Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith of Cambridge University, one of Britain’s leading experts on the Crusades; and Professor Thomas F. Madden, chair of the Department of History at St. Louis University, who not only focuses on the Crusades but on the larger issue of the Christian-Muslim conflict.

Preceding the premiere on Wednesday, October 8, airing at 8 p.m. ET is a special episode of EWTN Live, with EWTN staffer and Middle Eastern scholar Father Mitch Pacwa interviewing Stefano Mazzeo, writer, producer, and host of The Crusades, and Madden, author of A Concise History of the Crusades.

In advance of this, on Sunday, October 5, at 10 p.m. ET, EWTN airs Franciscan University Presents Myths About the Crusades, with commentary from Dr. Paul Crawford, professor of medieval history at California University of Pennsylvania (located in the Pennsylvania town of California, near Pittsburgh), along with host Michael Hernon and panelists Dr. Regis Martin, professor of theology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville (Ohio), and Catholic convert and theologian Dr. Scott Hahn. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Can We Call Them Pro-Aborts Now?

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The next time some pro-abort attempts to argue that no one is in favor of abortion, point them to this article by Sady Doyle at In These Times, her ending gives you the gist of what she is saying:

 

Most profoundly, Pollitt’s book is a call for us all to reclaim and speak out about the truths we know. Personally, I like abortion. I’ve never needed one. I’m still glad to have the option. I’m glad for the people I’ve known who got pregnant at the wrong time, with the wrong people, and didn’t have their lives ruined by it.

If Pollitt gets her way, more of us might feel free to admit that, hey: We like abortion.  →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Cali or Kali ?

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 “I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

Quote from the Bhagavad Gita, where Vishnu transfoms himself into Kali, the Hindu goddess of death, that flashed through the mind of Robert J. Oppenheimer after witnessing the first atomic bomb test.

As faithful readers of this blog know, my dog Baby passed away at age 14 in May.  Go here to read about it.  Yesterday my bride and I adopted a Jack Russell terrier, Cali, from the McLean County Humane Society in Normal, Illinois.  The staff were friendly and efficient, and we were in and out in 40 minutes.  I regard it as propitious that we adopted Cali on the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi.cali01a →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

October 5, 1864: Hold the Fort

Map of Allatoona

 

Few battles have inspired a hymn, but the successful defense by a Union garrison of Allatoona Pass, fought 150 years ago,  did.  At a meeting held in Rockford, Illinois, on April 28 through April 29, 1870 Daniel Webster Whittle, formerly a Major in Sherman’s army and now an evangelist and hymn writer, regaled an audience with the tale of how the garrison at Allatoona withstood the Confederate attack, with Union signal flags from Sherman signaling the defenders:  “Hold the Fort; I am coming!”.  In the audience was hymn writer Philip Paul Bliss who was inspired to write the hymn Hold the Fort: 

Ho, my comrades, see the signal,
Waving in the sky!
Reinforcements now appearing,
Victory is nigh.

“Hold the fort, for I am coming,”
Jesus signals still;
Wave the answer back to heaven,
By thy grace we will.”

See the mighty host advancing,
Satan leading on,
Mighty men around us falling,
Courage almost gone!

“Hold the fort, for I am coming,”
Jesus signals still;
Wave the answer back to heaven,
By thy grace we will.”

See the glorious banner waving,
Hear the trumpet blow!
In our Leader’s name we’ll triumph,
Over every foe.

“Hold the fort, for I am coming,”
Jesus signals still;
Wave the answer back to heaven,
By thy grace we will.”

Fierce and long the battle rages,
But our help is near,
Onward comes our great Commander,
Cheer, my comrades, cheer.

“Hold the fort, for I am coming,”
Jesus signals still;
Wave the answer back to heaven,
By thy grace we will.”

Although Major Whittle had almost all the facts right, Sherman, as Sherman noted in a letter in 1875, did not use the exact words hold the fort, although as he later wrote that was clearly the intent of his messages to the garrison.  What was actually singaled to the defenders was:  Sherman is moving in force; Hold Out!  General Sherman says Hold Fast. We are coming.

The hymn proved very popular and Whittle and Bliss toured the country, speaking to audiences and leading the singing of the hymn, including a memorable tour of the Allatoona battlefield in 1876, where they gave an emotional rendition of the hymn.  Here is the account of the battle by Sherman in his memoirs: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

PopeWatch: Drawing the Line

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

VATICAN–Pope Francis said in his morning Mass on Monday that if Martians came to him asking to be baptized he wouldn’t turn them away, but that when it came to krakens, unicorns, minotaurs, and British elves, he would have to say “absolutely not,” Vatican radio reports.

“If, for example, tomorrow an expedition of Martians came, and some of them came to us, here… Martians, right? Green, with that long nose and big ears, just like children paint them…and one says, ‘But I want to be baptized!’ What would happen?”

Pope Francis would not be one to turn away someone seeking baptism, even if they were an alien. He urged clergy to foster an open door policy for all to receive church teachings including Martians, but also urged them to not get carried away, and to immediately deny any golems, Chineese dragons, and even the Loch Ness Monstor.

Although the pope’s message was one of inclusion, saying “the Holy Spirit is not always predictable,” he justified his exclusion of other never seen creatures such as sirens and chupacabras by saying that he had to “draw the line somewhere.”

Pope Francis is not the first one to hint at alien baptism. Vatican scientist Guy Consolmagno suggested in 2010 that aliens might have souls and could be baptized if they asked for it.

“Any entity, no matter how many tentacles it has, has a soul,” Consolmagno said in a talk preceding the British Science Festival in Birmingham. “But when it comes to creatures like Bigfoot, cyclopes, and hydras, His Holiness is absolutely correct.” →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Abraham’s Daughter

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Something for the weekend.  Abraham’s Daughter.  One hundred and fifty years ago the presidential election was in full swing.  I doubt if this song was popular with either the Republicans or the Democrats since it mentions both Lincoln and McClellan, the two opposing candidates.  The composer Septimus Winner, yep, that was really his name, was probably a partisan of McClellan.  After McClellan was removed from command by Lincoln after Antietam, Winner was arrested for treason after he published “Give Us Back Our Old Commander: Little Mac, the People’s Pride”, a song which sold an astounding, for those days, 80,000 copies in its first two days on sale.  He was held until he agreed to destroy the unsold copies.  Nonetheless the song featured in McClellan’s campaign for president in 1864, and Grant’s campaign used it when Grant ran for president with the lyrics changed to be praising him.  Here is that song: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Dawkins the Fundamentalist Atheist

Dawkins Fundamentalists

Back in the seventies and eighties I read quite a few of the articles that appeared in The New Republic.  Although always left of center, the magazine at that time had little use for liberal pieties and published fairly iconoclastic articles shattering many idols of the left.  Alas those days are long ago, and The New Republic has fallen into the lock step ideological conformity that makes the portside of our politics such a gray place.  However, apparently, not always.  John Gray has a piece on Richard Dawkins, that must not be missed.  How good it is may be gauged by the anguished bleats of the faithless in the comments section.  I especially enjoyed this portion of Mr. Gray’s article:

Exactly how Dawkins became the anti-religious missionary with whom we are familiar will probably never be known. From what he writes here, I doubt he knows himself. Still, there are a few clues. He began his pilgrimage to unbelief at the age of nine, when he learned from his mother “that Christianity was one of many religions and they contradicted each other. They couldn’t all be right, so why believe the one in which, by sheer accident of birth, I happened to be brought up?” But he was not yet ready to embrace atheism, and curiously his teenage passion for Elvis Presley reinforced his vestigial Christianity. Listening to Elvis sing “I Believe,” Dawkins was amazed to discover that the rock star was religious. “I worshipped Elvis,” he recalls, “and I was a strong believer in a non-denominational creator god.” Dawkins confesses to being puzzled as to why he should have been so surprised that Elvis was religious: “He came from an uneducated working-class family in the American South. How could he not have been religious?” By the time he was sixteen, Dawkins had “shed my last vestige of theistic credulity.” As one might expect, the catalyst for his final conversion from theism was Darwinism. “I became increasingly aware that Darwinian evolution was a powerfully available alternative to my creator god as an explanation of the beauty and apparent design of life. … It wasn’t long then before I became strongly and militantly atheistic.”

What is striking is the commonplace quality of Dawkins’s rebellion against religion. In turning away from the milk-and-water Anglicanism in which he had been rearedafter his conversion from theism, he “refused to kneel in chapel,” he writes proudlyhe was doing what tens of thousands of Britain’s young people did at the time. Compulsory religious instruction of the kind that exists in British schools, it has often been observed, creates a fertile environment for atheism. Dawkins’s career illustrates the soundness of this truism. If there is anything remarkable in his adolescent rebellion, it is that he has remained stuck in it. At no point has Dawkins thrown off his Christian inheritance. Instead, emptying the faith he was taught of its transcendental content, he became a neo-Christian evangelist. A more inquiring mind would have noticed at some point that religion comes in a great many varieties, with belief in a creator god figuring in only a few of the world’s faiths and most having no interest in proselytizing. It is only against the background of a certain kind of monotheism that Dawkins’s evangelical atheism makes any sense.

Even more remarkable is Dawkins’s inveterate literal-mindedness. He tells us that “the Pauline belief that everybody is born in sin, inherited from Adam (whose embarrassing non-existence was unknown to St. Paul), is one of the very nastiest aspects of Christianity.” It is true that the idea of original sin has become one with a morbid preoccupation with sexuality, which has been part of Christianity throughout much of its history. Even so, it is an idea that contains a vital truth: evil is not error, a mistake of the mind, a failure of understanding that can be corrected by smarter thinking. It is something deeper and more constitutive of human life itself. The capacity and propensity for destruction goes with being human. One does not have to be religious to acknowledge this dark fact. With his myth or metaphor of the death instinct thanatos, Freuda lifelong atheistrecognized that impulses of hatred and cruelty are integral to the human psyche. As an atheist myself, it is a view I find no difficulty in sharing.

Quite apart from the substance of the idea, there is no reason to suppose that the Genesis myth to which Dawkins refers was meant literally. Coarse and tendentious atheists of the Dawkins variety prefer to overlook the vast traditions of figurative and allegorical interpretations with which believers have read Scripture. Both Augustine and before him the Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria explicitly cautioned against literalism in interpreting the biblical creation story. Later, in the twelfth century, Maimonides took a similar view. It was only around the time of the Reformation that the idea that the story was a factual account of events became widely held. When he maintains that Darwin’s account of evolution displaced the biblical story, Dawkins is assuming that both are explanatory theoriesone primitive and erroneous, the other more advanced and literally true. In treating religion as a set of factual propositions, Dawkins is mimicking Christianity at its most fundamentalist. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

End Times Catechesis

On the bright side, a Christian-based movie is being released today.

Unfortunately that movie is this:

Left Behind

Well, they can’t all be The Passion of the Christ.

With Left Behind being released today, it’s probably a good time to brush up on what Catholics actually believe about the end times. In long form, there’s Paul Thigpen’s The Rapture Trap: A Catholic Response to End TimesFever. Even better is Carl Olson’s Will Catholics Be Left Behind? Meanwhile, Msgr. Pope has penned a blog post on the Catholic approach to the end times which helps sum up Catholic teaching on this matter.

As for you poor, brave souls who for some reason choose to view this cinematic masterpiece, I have a feeling you’ll be feeling envious of this man by the end: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

PopeWatch: Evita

 

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A new book has new details about the early life of Pope Francis, including a brief meeting with Eva Peron:

 

- Buenos Aires, September 26 – Pope Francis had a youthful brush with Evita Peron in Buenos Aires, according to a new book relating little-known details of Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s life, especially two formative spells in the city of Cordoba. “I saw Eva on one occasion when I went with my brother into a ‘unidad basica’ (Peronist chapter) looking for booklets for a piece of work in school,” Francis told the authors of ‘Quel Francesco’ (That Francis), Javier Camara and Sebastian Pfaffen, who handed the pope a copy in the Vatican Thursday.
    “She was there, she greeted us,” said the former archbishop of Buenos Aires.
    The only time the young Bergoglio saw Evita’s husband Juan Peron, he says in the book, was “when I had to go as school rep to the Teatro Colon for a meeting about education”.
    Quel Francesco delves into two times Francis lived in Cordoba and his encounters with various political groups, including “left-leaning” ones as well as Peronists. The first, when he was a novice of the Company of Jesus (the Jesuits), spans 1958-1960.
    “In March 1958 he arrived from Buenos Aires accompanied by his parents to enter into the novitiate of the ‘Sagrada Familia'”, the book relates, telling of the young man’s expectations.
    Later, the authors describe the future pope’s development – as well as “dark” patches – as a Jesuit priest between 1990 and 1992, before he was appointed auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires.
    On the political front, Francis reveals, “I have always been restless”.
    “During my teen years I had made an incursion into left-leaning circles,” he says, revealing that he accompanied young people of various political inclinations, including “obviously also Peronists”.
    But the pope stresses: “I never joined any party”. However, he cites similarities between “aspects of the Peronist doctrine and the Church’s social doctrine. “Those periods in Cordoba, to a certain extent, engendered spiritual solidity,” Francis reveals. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

October 3, 1864: Sherman’s Pursuit of Hood Begins

 

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Hood’s movement north seemed to be working.  On October 3, 1864 Sherman began his pursuit to protect his supply lines.  Below is his account of this in his memoirs, in which he mentions a telegram to Grant in which he describes what he would ultimately do:  leave Thomas to deal with Hood while he marchs with the forces under his command to the sea.  However, Sherman would lose a month before Grant agreed to this plan.

 

 

 

Forrest having already made his appearance in Middle Tennessee, and Hood evidently edging off in that direction, satisfied me that the general movement against our roads had begun. I therefore determined to send General Thomas back to Chattanooga, with another division (Morgan’s, of the Fourteenth Corps), to meet the danger in Tennessee. General Thomas went up on the 29th, and Morgan’s division followed the same day, also by rail. And I telegraphed to General Halleck

I take it for granted that Forrest will cut our road, but think we can prevent him from making a serious lodgment. His cavalry will travel a hundred miles where ours will ten. I have sent two divisions up to Chattanooga and one to Rome, and General Thomas started to-day to drive Forrest out of Tennessee. Our roads should be watched from the rear, and I am glad that General Grant has ordered reserves to Nashville. I prefer for the future to make the movement on Milledgeville, Millen, and Savannah. Hood now rests twenty-four miles south, on the Chattahoochee, with his right on the West Point road. He is removing the iron of the Macon road. I can whip his infantry, but his cavalry is to be feared.

There was great difficulty in obtaining correct information about Hood’s movements from Palmetto Station. I could not get spies to penetrate his camps, but on the 1st of October I was satisfied that the bulk of his infantry was at and across the Chattahoochee River, near Campbellton, and that his cavalry was on the west side, at Powder Springs. On that day I telegraphed to General Grant:

Hood is evidently across the Chattahoochee, below Sweetwater. If he tries to get on our road, this side of the Etowah, I shall attack him; but if he goes to the Selma & Talladega road, why will it not do to leave Tennessee to the forces which Thomas has, and the reserves soon to come to Nashville, and for me to destroy Atlanta and march across Georgia to Savannah or Charleston, breaking roads and doing irreparable damage? We cannot remain on the defensive. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Anti-Catholic Bigot Appointed to Governing Board of Notre Dame

Father Jenkins and Katie Washington

 

Father Wilson Miscamble, a professor at Notre Dame, brings us this news, that, in morally saner times, would be regarded as a bad attempt at a joke:

Notre Dame’s Board of Trustees gathers on campus this week. Committee meetings will be held on Thursday, followed by the full board meeting on Friday, and then the much-anticipated football game against Stanford on Saturday. Not much is expected to emerge from the meetings themselves. It will be appear to be business as usual. But in fact, something deeply troubling will have happened.

Sadly, at Notre Dame – as indeed at many other Catholic universities – many board members are essentially passive bystanders selected mainly for their “giving potential,” as it is delicately put, rather than for their qualifications to fulfill the serious responsibility mandated for them in Ex Corde Ecclesiaeto maintain and strengthen the Catholic identity of the university.

Board members are usually not deeply familiar with Catholic higher education. They are easily “guided” by the administration to desired decisions. Whatever their limitations, however, many are no doubt committed Catholics who genuinely want Notre Dame to be an authentically Catholic institution. And most trustees have not damaged Notre Dame’s mission as a Catholic university.

This is about to change at the October meeting, when Ms. Katie Washington will take her “junior trustee” position on the board, to which she was elected last May. Ms. Washington was Notre Dame’s 2010 valedictorian and is now enrolled at Johns Hopkins Medical School.

In 2012, she joined several of her medical school colleagues in authoring an op-ed piece in the Baltimore Sun criticizing the Catholic Church’s position on the Obamacare contraception/abortifacient mandate. She revealed her belief that all religious employers should be required by law to provide contraception and abortifacient coverage whatever their religiously grounded objections.

Her op-ed singled out “national Catholic leaders” for reproach, and specifically criticized then Cardinal-designate Edwin O’Brien of Baltimore. Her animosity to the Church’s position – the very one which Notre Dame has embraced in its lawsuit against the Obama administration – was clear. She has not subsequently qualified or retracted her statement.

She presumably favors the continued federal coercion of those like the Little Sisters of the Poor whose conscience forbids them to agree to morally objectionable Obamacare provisions. Nonetheless, this supporter of the Obama Administration’s assault on the religious liberty of institutions like Notre Dame has gained appointment to the governing board of the university.

Regrettably, this appointment was made upon the initiative of University President Fr. John Jenkins and by vote of the twelve-member Board of Fellows, made up of six Holy Cross priests and six laypersons. It happened, however, without their being briefed on Ms. Washington’s hostility to religious liberty and Notre Dame’s claim of conscience. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Martyrs Read Joel Osteen Tweets

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From those delightfully twisted folks at The Luthern Satire.  May I suggest a follow up of martyrs reading selections from National Catholic Reporter editorials?

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