One of the great comedic talents of his day, Gene Wilder passed away yesterday at age 83. Like so many in Hollywood, Wilder was a political liberal. Unlike so many in Hollywood, he remembered that his function was to entertain, and that people did not come to his films to hear him spout of on politics. I will miss him.
When it comes to the Clintons the normal rules that apply to the rest of us apparently do not apply to them. For example, in a FOIA act lawsuit brought over the Clinton e-mails by Judicial Watch, a conservative group, Hillary Clinton’s chief of state Cheryl Mills was deposed and her deposition was videotaped. Prior to Mills’ deposition, her lawyers requested that it not be released to the public, so it could not be used against Clinton for partisan political purposes. In a bizarre ruling, Judge Emmet Sullivan agreed that the video of the depositions could not be released to the public, but that transcripts of the depositions could be released. He then, sua sponte ( by the court’s unilateral action) made this decision applicable to all depositions taken in the case.
Legal suits, in most cases, are public matters. The public normally has a right to access to the materials of such a lawsuit, absent matters that a court finds to be subject to some sort of legal privilege. There is no legal privilege protecting materials in a lawsuit from being used for political purposes.
Fortunately Phelim McAleer, an independent filmmaker, is dramatizing the depositions. Only the text of the depositions is used in the films. McAleer is used to telling the stories the news media tries to ignore for political reasons. He has just finished filming on a movie about abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who he describes as the most prolific serial killer in American history. He is kickstarting his project to dramatize the Clinton e-mail depositons. Go here if you wish to contribute. I did.
The above is the dramatization of the deposition of Huma Abedin. Abedin is the right hand gal of Hillary Clinton. Clinton has referred to her as a second daughter. I think she is the closest thing that Hillary Clinton has to a friend on this planet. Abedin is up to her neck in scandals involving influence peddling via the Clinton Foundation while Clinton was Secretary of State. In e-mails she has noted that Clinton is often confused and needs naps. Continue reading
The 2016 Larry was saved from the stockpot, too. He was destined for dinner when several concerned citizens worked with a group called iRescue Wildlife, Inc., to intervene, the Miami Herald reports.
Larry had been reserved for one family’s dinner when the activists offered to buy him and send him to freedom, ABC News reports.
“They really opened up my eyes and it got me a little emotional,” Melluso told ABC. “We went ahead and donated the lobster to them.”
The Larry-savers made plans to ship him to the Maine State Aquarium, which said it would accept him, quarantine him and then decide what to do with him after that. There was a swift response from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
They called on the aquarium to let Larry loose.
“Lobsters are smart, unique individuals who feel pain and suffer in captivity,” PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said in a statement. “PETA is calling on the Maine State Aquarium to let this elderly crustacean live out his golden years in freedom and peace.”
Alas, Larry’s golden years were never to be.
He arrived at the Maine Aquarium … less than alive.
Jeff Nichols, communications director for the Maine Department of Marine Resources, says that there’s always a challenge in shipping a live animal.
“Maine lobster dealers do it all the time … they ship live lobsters all over the world, but it’s something that is part of their business practice and their area of expertise,” he told NPR. “This was a situation where, you know, it was somebody trying to figure it out.”
The first attempt to ship Larry was scuttled when FedEx sent him back. And unfortunately, he spent some time on freshwater ice, Nichols says, which isn’t ideal for a marine animal.
The Florida activists repackaged him, with some coaching from the Maine State Aquarium’s staff, and sent him again, the Portland Press Herald reported on Wednesday:
“Larry was packed in a Styrofoam clamshell with seaweed and frozen gel packs intended to keep him cold. The Styrofoam package was then put in another box, providing extra cushioning and protection from leakage. iRescue did not respond to questions about the shipping cost.
“The packaging method has worked in the past for others who have shipped live lobsters to the aquarium, Nichols said. But when staffers opened the box Wednesday around noon, they found a motionless crustacean and broken gel packs.
“Unsure whether Larry was dead or alive, a staffer touched the lobster’s eye, but found it dry and unresponsive.”
Larry hadn’t made it. Continue reading
Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa notes criticism of the concept of Pope Emeritus:
In his retreat on the Vatican hill, Joseph Ratzinger just won’t keep quiet. Neither in the written nor in the spoken word.
In the anticipation of the early autumn release of his book-length interview with Peter Seewald, a new monumental biography will arrive in bookstores tomorrow, written by his friend the theologian Elio Guerriero, introduced with a preface by Pope Francis and ending with an interview of the ex-pope conducted by the author, previewed on August 25 by the newspaper “la Repubblica”:
In the interview, Ratzinger once again explains that the only reason for his resignation of the papacy was his loss of energy. Thereby contradicting his successor Francis, who in an interview last July 3 with “La Nación” asserted that the abdication of Benedict XVI “had nothing to do with anything personal.”
But there is one point, among others, one which the two latest successors of Peter agree. Both of them give credence to the figure of the “pope emeritus,” a figure that however has no precedent, whether historical, theological, or juridical.
Francis writes in this regard, in the preface to the book previewed on August 24 by the newspaper “Avvenire”:
“For the Church, the presence of a pope emeritus in addition to the one in office is an innovation. [. . .] It expresses in a particularly evident manner the continuity of the Petrine ministry, without interruption, like the links of a selfsame chain joined together by love.”
Not only that. It is known that the prefect of the pontifical household, Georg Gänswein – who as Ratzinger’s personal secretary before, during, and after his pontificate is certainly the person closest to him – has pressed much further in setting forth this contemporaneous presence of the two popes, according to him almost “an expanded ministry,” “in common,” with “a collegial and synodal dimension’:
But it is not known to what extent Ratzinger may share the reckless ideas asserted in public by his secretary. What is ever more certain, however, is that some of the most competent and authoritative figures of the circle closest to the ex-pope are absolutely opposed to them.
One of these is Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, an illustrious Church historian, who last July spoke out in tough critical terms not only against the figure of the “pope emeritus,” but also against the goodness of Ratzinger’s abdication itself:
Another is Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca, a luminary of canon law and secretary of the supreme tribunal of the apostolic signatura, who in an interview with Andrea Tornielli for “Vatican Insider” on August 25 ripped to pieces the juridical and theological sustainability of the title “pope emeritus” being applied to one who has abdicated the papacy:
Sciacca is bound to Ratzinger by a longstanding and solid friendship, which still lives on after his abdication. And this friendship lends that much more power to his criticism against the title of “pope emeritus,” which Ratzinger was the first to attribute to himself.
In the body of the interview, Sciacca demolishes the ideas of those who maintain that by abdicating Benedict XVI has renounced only the active exercise of the papal “ministry,” but has kept its “munus.”
But it is at the end – reproduced below – that the canonist’s criticisms are aimed against the figure of the “pope emeritus,” of which he spares practically nothing. And Sciacca also advances reservations on the abdication of the papacy in general.
It will be interesting to unearth, in the future spoken and written forays of ex-pope Ratzinger, some indication of his judgment on this double barrage of friendly fire aimed right at him by the unimpeachable Sciacca and Brandmüller.
Pope emeritus? An aberration
From the interview with Giuseppe Sciacca on “Vatican Insider,” August 15, 2016
Q: What do you think of the designation of “pope emeritus.”
A: The expression “pope emeritus” or “pontiff emeritus” would seem to denote a sort of pontifical authority distinct from a further type of exercise of it. An exercise not identified, never defined in any doctrinal document, and impossible to comprehend, that is taken to have been the object of resignation. Arguing in this way, part of the pontifical authority would remain with the emeritus, even if, as is said, the exercise of it is prohibited. But the prohibition of the exercise of that which by its nature is essentially free in its exercise (potestas) is nonsense. The irrationality of this idea and the possible interpretive errors that stem from it therefore appear evident.
Q: You would have preferred the title of “bishop emeritus of Rome” for the pope who resigns?
A: No, I maintain that this solution would be just as problematic, even though some authoritative canonists may have upheld it: pope, pontiff, or bishop of Rome are in fact substantially synonymous. The problem is not the substantive, “pope” or “bishop of Rome,” but the adjective “emeritus,” which bears a sort of duplication of the papal image.
Q: What hypothesis would you have preferred or would you like to suggest?
A: First of all I would like to preface: I am not among those who hope that the resignation of the papacy may become a custom. On the contrary! Purely as a working hypothesis, if we should wish to sketch out for the resigning pontiff a possible legislative forecast for the future, the most congruous solution would seem to me that of the conferral of the title of “former supreme pontiff.” Or that of stipulating the reinsertion of the resigner in the college of cardinals, in the order of bishops, by the new pope. And to emphasize the “singularity” of the new officeholder, in the hypothesis in which all the suburbicarian sees should be occupied, to insert him – ad personam – among the Eastern patriarchs who are members of the college of cardinals. “Salvo meliori iudicio,” as we are always accustomed to conclude the views that we advisors give to the dicasteries.
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August 29 is the feast day of the beheading of John the Baptist, the herald of Christ. Charlton Heston, in the video clip above, gave a powerful portrayal of the Baptist in The Greatest Story Ever Told, capturing the raw courage and energy that animated John the Baptist as a result of the blazing faith he had in God. Like Elijah, John came out of the wilderness to fearlessly proclaim the word of God, but what Elijah and the other prophets could only glimpse darkly, the coming of the Messiah, John saw with his own eyes. The last and greatest of the prophets, John fulfilled the role of Elijah as proclaimed by the prophet Malachi:
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. Continue reading
There is not, and there never was on this earth, a work of human policy so well deserving of examination as the Roman Catholic Church. The history of that Church joins together the two great ages of human civilisation. No other institution is left standing which carries the mind back to the times when the smoke of sacrifice rose from the Pantheon, and when camelopards and tigers bounded in the Flavian amphitheatre.
The proudest royal houses are but of yesterday when compared with the line of the Supreme Pontiffs. That line we trace back in an unbroken series, from the Pope who crowned Napoleon in the nineteenth century to the Pope who crowned Pepin in the eighth; and far beyond the time of Pepin the august dynasty extends, till it is lost in the twilight of fable. The republic of Venice came next in antiquity. But the republic of Venice was modern when compared with the Papacy; and the republic of Venice is gone, and the Papacy remains. The Papacy remains, not in decay, not a mere antique, but full of life and youthful vigour.
The Catholic Church is still sending forth to the farthest ends of the world missionaries as zealous as those who landed in Kent with Augustin, and still confronting hostile kings with the same spirit with which she confronted Attila. The number of her children is greater than in any former age. Her acquisitions in the New World have more than compensated for what she has lost in the Old. Her spiritual ascendency extends over the vast countries which lie between the plains of the Missouri and Cape Horn, countries which a century hence, may not improbably contain a population as large as that which now inhabits Europe.
The members of her communion are certainly not fewer than a hundred and fifty millions; and it will be difficult to show that all other Christian sects united amount to a hundred and twenty millions. Nor do we see any sign which indicates that the term of her long dominion is approaching. She saw the commencement of all the governments and of all the ecclesiastical establishments that now exist in the world; and we feel no assurance that she is not destined to see the end of them all.
She was great and respected before the Saxon had set foot on Britain, before the Frank had passed the Rhine, when Grecian eloquence still flourished at Antioch, when idols were still worshipped in the temple of Mecca. And she may still exist in undiminished vigour when some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul’s.
Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay, in his review of Von Ranke’s The Ecclesiastical and political History of the Popes of Rome, during the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. (1840)
John Huston’s film Moby Dick (1956) is a true work of genius. The only film version worthy of the novel, the screenplay was written by Ray Bradbury who in 10,000 words got to the essence of the 206,052 word novel. (Bradbury confessed when he was approached by Huston to do the screenplay that he had never been able to get through the novel.) A deeply religious film that asks questions about God and the human condition that still jar us, the most striking scene is the sermon on Jonah by Father Mapple, portrayed unforgettably by Orson Welles. Enoch Mudge who served as the chaplain of the Seaman’s Bethel in New Bedford and Father E.T. Taylor who served as the chaplain of the Seaman Bethel in Boston, served as the real life models for the fictional Mapple. (At the time of Melville any clergyman of age or authority was often accorded the title “Father” by his parishioners in Protestant churches, a distinction retained today only by Catholics, the Orthodox and a few Protestant churches.)
Welles suffered from a bad case of stage fright just prior to the scene and John Huston produced a bottle to help Welles fortify himself. Welles then did the scene letter perfect in one take. Here is the text of the sermon as written by Bradbury for the film:
And God prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. Shipmates, the sin of Jonah was in his disobedience of the command of God. He found it a hard command, and it was, for all the things that God would have us do are hard. If we would obey God, we must disobey ourselves.
But Jonah still further flouts at God by seeking to flee from him. Jonah thinks that a ship made by men will carry him into countries where God does not reign. He prowls among the shipping like a vile burglar, hastening to cross the seas, and as he comes aboard the sailors mark him.
The ship puts out, but soon the sea rebels. It will not bear the wicked burden. A dreadful storm comes up. The ship is like to break. The bo’s’n calls all hands to lighten her. Boxes, bales and jars are clattering overboard, the wind is shrieking, the men are yelling. “I fear the Lord!” cries Jonah, “the God of Heaven who has made the sea and the dry land!”
Again, the sailors mark him. And wretched Jonah cries out to them to cast him overboard, for he knew that for his sake this great tempest was upon them.
Now behold Jonah, taken up as an anchor and dropped into the sea, into the dreadful jaws awaiting him. And the great whale shoots to all his ivory teeth, like so many white bolts, upon his prison.
And Jonah cries unto the Lord, out of the fish’s belly. But observe his prayer, shipmates. He doesn’t weep and wail, he feels his punishment is just. He leaves deliverance to God. And even out of the belly of Hell, grounded upon the ocean’s utmost bones, God heard him when he cried. And God spake unto the whale, and from the shuddering cold and blackness of the deep, the whale breached into the sun and vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.
And Jonah, bruised and beaten, his ears like two seashells still multitudinously murmuring of the ocean … Jonah did the Almighty’s bidding, and what was that, shipmates? To preach the truth in the face of falsehood!
Now, shipmates, woe to him who seeks to pour oil on the troubled water when God has brewed them into a gale. Yeah, woe to him who, as the pilot Paul has it, while preaching to others is himself a castaway! But delight is to him who against the proud gods and commodores of this Earth, stands forth his own inexorable self, who destroys all sin, though we pluck it out from under the robes of senators, and judges. And eternal delight shall be his who, coming to lay him down, can say “Oh father, mortal or immortal, here I die. I have striven to be thine, more than to be this world’s or mine own, yet this is nothing. I leave eternity to thee, for what is man that he should live out the lifetime of his God?
Here is the much, much lengthier version from the novel (Too bad that time prevented Ray Bradbury from serving as Melville’s editor!) Continue reading
A current post at leftist Huffington Post brings their readership the bad news that in one week the Reuters Ipsos poll has shown Clinton’s lead tumble to five points from twelve points, and in a poll listing all four candidates, including the Libertarians and the Greens, Clinton’s lead drops to three points. (A Gravis Marketing Poll released yesterday shows Clinton’s lead dropping from five points to one point in a two way race.)
The hilarious thing with the Huffington Post piece is the edit at the end which includes this for their readers:
Editor’s Note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims-1.6 billion members of an entire religion from entering the US.
Go here to read it. The Huffington Post editors obviously think their readers are so stupid they will be unable to sort the white hats from the black hats without help.
Eye of the Tiber’s take on the Shea, Fisher firings by National Catholic Register:
Two National Catholic Register staff writers have been fired and are now facing possible public flogging after they allegedly had opinions and were outspoken about them.
The National Catholic Register on Monday terminated Mark Shea and Simcha Fisher from their positions as staff writers from the EWTN-owned newspaper. Reports from several bloggers say that they were fired for allegedly saying stuff that kinda pissed some Catholics off, but made other Catholics happy.
According to officials at the National Catholic Register, comments from Shea and Fisher on Facebook did not conform to EWTN social media standards that require articles be “within the safe confines of the Catholic bubble from which no debate or critical thinking may be had.”
An anonymous National Catholic Register official reported this morning that a phone call from EWTN chairman of the board and chief executive officer Michael Warsaw was made to the newspaper, asking, “Will no one rid me of these troublesome writers?”
Shea and Fisher were subsequently censured, and all Catholics who owned books by the accused were asked to burn them “effective immediately.”
“When it came down to it, it was tone,” said the anonymous National Catholic Register official who was being closely watched by an armed EWTN agent. “As everyone knows, EWTN’s audience is mainly comprised of dinosaurs, and dinosaurs don’t like loud noises. One of EWTN’s younger readers who was born in the Cretaceous Era complained that the tone of former staff writers Mr. Shea and Mrs. Fisher was loud. She said that the tone rattled her like a ‘Triceratops hearing the roar of a Tyrannosaurus Rex.’ It had nothing to do with their positions on certain topics, which have not only conformed with the vision of our newspaper, but which have also been celebrated by us for many years.”
“Our EWTN readers,” he went on to say, “are not good with handling people with tempers. St. Jerome, for instance, was known for his temper, which is why those at EWTN, praise be their name, have opened a commission with the Vatican to investigate the possibility of de-canonizing St. Jerome.” Continue reading
Something for the weekend. Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven. Written in 1801 it has always been among the more popular of Beethoven’s works.
Oh good! Dale Price at Dyspeptic Mutterings has posted a blog article for me to
One of the staples of Catholic apologetics is that the Catholic magisterium safeguards the truth and ensures a unity and clarity that Protestantism lacks.
I would not be so sure of that. In fact, I would say (and have said before) that the current pontiff is demonstrating that the magisterium is little more than the mouthpiece of the reigning pope and only safeguards whatever iteration of whichever truth he wishes to utter. In short, the magisterium is sola papam currentis.
Why no, I am not a Latinist? How could you tell?
This thought was driven home by a recent piece at the estimable One Peter Five: Amoris Laetitia and John Paul II by Josh Kusch.
In short, Kusch spells out with undeniable clarity that Amoris Laetitia expressly contradicts the magisterial statements of Francis’ predecessor, and does so in a particularly unsavory fashion–by either partial quoting or choosing to ignore prior statements altogether. For the latter, Kusch points out how the encyclical Veritatis Splendor flatly contradicts what Francis wants to say–so Francis ignored it. To wit:
The negative precepts of the natural law are universally valid. They oblige each and every individual, always and in every circumstance. It is a matter of prohibitions which forbid a given action semper et pro semper, without exception. (VS 52)
The negative moral precepts, those prohibiting certain concrete actions or kinds of behavior as intrinsically evil, do not allow for any legitimate exception. They do not leave room, in any morally acceptable way, for the “creativity” of any contrary determination whatsoever. (VS 67)
When it is a matter of the moral norms prohibiting intrinsic evil, there are no privileges or exceptions for anyone. It makes no difference whether one is the master of the world or the “poorest of the poor” on the face of the earth. (VS 96)
It would be a very serious error … to conclude that the Church’s teaching is essentially only an “ideal” which must then be adapted, proportioned, graduated to the so-called concrete possibilities of man. (VS 103)
It is in the saving Cross of Jesus, in the gift of the Holy Spirit, in the Sacraments which flow forth from the pierced side of the Redeemer, that believers find the grace and the strength always to keep God’s holy law, even amid the gravest of hardships. (VS 103)
As Kusch ably demonstrates, each contradicts certain central assumptions in the later text.
And yet, the Vatican’s official newspaper is at pains to assert that the later text is, in fact, authoritative.
So Veritatis Splendor–with its forceful restatement of Catholic moral teaching–has been round-filed after less than a quarter of a century?
Anyone else see the problem here?
What I have not been able to suss out is precisely why I should salute Francis’ newest flag when he burnt John Paul II’s. His actions completely undercut his claimed “authority.”
Rather than call Amoris Laetitia “authoritative,” isn’t the honest answer “wait at least a couple of popes and then see?”
Of course, progs are brandishing it like new holy writ. To be expected, yes, but wholly dishonest if one is following McCormick’s contemptuous course. But I don’t see any honest reason why I should regard it similarly.
If this is Catholicism, then I never really understood it. And if the magisterium is just the press office of the current officeholder, then cue Flannery O’Connor. Continue reading
If you sometimes wonder why clerics sometimes do things that seem bizarre, always follow the money:
Leftist Billionaire George Soros donated $650,000 to groups lobbying American bishops in favor of “progressive” domestic policies, according to emails made public by Wikileaks. Soros used his Open Society Foundation and Faith in Public Life, two liberal organizations, to use the September 2015 visit of Pope Francis to the US to “shift national paradigms and priorities in the run-up to the 2016 presidential campaign.”
The group DC Leaks has released more than 2,000 documents from groups associated with Soros.
The money was donated in April 2015 and a report on the effort says successful achievements included “buy-in of individual bishops to more publicly voice support of economic and racial justice messages in order to begin to create a critical mass of bishops who are aligned with the Pope.”
“In order to seize this moment, we will support PICO’s organizing activities to engage the Pope on economic and racial justice issues, including using the influence of Cardinal Rodriguez, the Pope’s senior advisor, and sending a delegation to visit the Vatican in the spring or summer to allow him to hear directly from low-income Catholics in America,” another document states. Continue reading
Then did he raise on high the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, saying, “Bless this, O Lord, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy.” And the people did rejoice and did feast upon the lambs and toads and tree-sloths and fruit-bats and orangutans and breakfast cereals … Now did the Lord say, “First thou pullest the Holy Pin. Then thou must count to three. Three shall be the number of the counting and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither shalt thou count two, excepting that thou then proceedeth to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the number of the counting, be reached, then lobbest thou the Holy Hand Grenade in the direction of thine foe, who, being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it.”
A Reading from the Book of Armaments, Chapter 4, Verses 16 to 20
Ah, history is ever so much stranger than fiction:
A centuries-old hand grenade that may date back to the time of the crusaders is among a host of treasures retrieved from the sea in Israel.
The metal artifacts, some of which are more than 3,500 years old, were found over a period of years by the late Marcel Mazliah, a worker at the Hadera power plant in northern Israel.
Mazliah’s family recently presented the treasures to the Israel Antiquities Authority. Experts, who were surprised by the haul, think that the objects probably fell overboard from a medieval metal merchant’s ship.
The hand grenade was a common weapon in Israel during the Crusader era, which began in the 11th century and lasted until the 13th century, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority. Grenades were also used 12th and 13th century Ayyubid period and the Mamluk era, which ran from the 13th to the 16th century, experts say.
Haaretz reports that early grenades were often used to disperse burning flammable liquid. However, some experts believe that so-called ancient grenades were actually used to contain perfume. Continue reading
If Historiographers should be hardy enough to fill the page of History with the advantages that have been gained with unequal numbers (on the part of America) in the course of this contest, and attempt to relate the distressing circumstances under which they have been obtained, it is more than probable that Posterity will bestow on their labors the epithet and marks of fiction; for it will not be believed that such a force as Great Britain has employed for eight years in this Country could be baffled in their plan of Subjugating it by numbers infinitely less, composed of Men oftentimes half starved; always in Rags, without pay, and experiencing, at times, every species of distress which human nature is capable of undergoing.