Advent Light in Darkest Night

Sunday, December 18, AD 2011

 It is time to awaken from sleep. It is time for a waking up to begin somewhere. It is time to put things back where God the Lord put them.

Father Alfred Delp, SJ

During Advent 1944 Father Alfred Delp, a Jesuit, wrote a reflection on Advent.  Go here to read it.  It is a fine Advent meditation.  The circumstances of its writing demonstrate that the light of Christ, which I have always felt most strongly during Advent, can permeate any darkness.  Father Delp wrote it while he was a prisoner of the Gestapo in Nazi Germany.

Alfred Delp first saw the light of this world on September 15, 1907 in Mannheim Germany.  The son of a Catholic mother and a Protestant father, he was raised as a Protestant although he was baptized as a Catholic.  He was confirmed in the Lutheran church in 1921.  Following a bitter argument with his Lutheran pastor, he embraced Catholicism, made his first communion and was confirmed.  His Catholic pastor, seeing rare intelligence in the boy, arranged for him to continue his studies.

In 1926 he joined the Jesuits.  In 1937 he was ordained as a priest.  His further philosophical studies curtailed at  the University of Munich due to his anti-Nazi beliefs, Father Delp worked on a Jesuit publication until it was suppressed by the Nazis in April 1941.  He was then assigned as rector of Saint Georg church in Munich.  All the while he was helping Jews escape into Switzerland.  Father Delp’s Jesuit provincial Augustin Rosch was active in the anti-Nazi underground.  He introduced Father Delp to the Kreisau Circle of anti-Nazi activists.  Father Delp taught Catholic social teaching to the Circle and arranged contacts between them and  Catholic leaders.

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Messianic Prophecies: Isaiah 7: 11-16 and 9: 1-7

Saturday, December 3, AD 2011

Something for the weekend.  Lo How a Rose Ere Blooming.  Continuing on with our Advent examination of major Messianic prophecies, we come to Isaiah 7: 11-16:

11 Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the  depth, or in the height above.

12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD.

13 And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?

14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

15 Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.

16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.

and Isaiah 1-7:

1Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.

2The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

3Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.

4For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.

5For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.

6For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

7Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Saint Cyril of Alexandria commented upon this passage:

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6 Responses to Messianic Prophecies: Isaiah 7: 11-16 and 9: 1-7

  • With all due respect to St. Cyril of Alexandria, is there any reason why this prophecy could not refer BOTH to the birth of Hezekiah and to the birth of Christ?

    The mother of Hezekiah would have been a young unmarried woman — which in that culture was normally synonymous with being a virgin — at the time. Isaiah was saying that by the time the son she would eventually have with King Ahaz had reached the age of reason, “the land that thou abhorrest” (Assyria?) would no longer be a military threat, and the country would enter an era of relative peace and prosperity. Hezekiah would go on to be one of Israel’s greatest and holiest kings, sort of a second coming of David in some ways.

    Even if that was Isaiah’s intended meaning, why could not God have meant it as a foreshadowing of the ultimate salvation to come through His Son? God does sometimes speak through people even when they don’t realize it. For example, when the high priest Caiphas talked about it being better that “one man should die for the people”.

  • Possibly Elaine, although as Saint Cyril points out many portions of the prophecies simply do not apply to Hezekiah. Of course it is not only Christians who have seen these as Messianic prophecies, but also many Jews down through the ages. There is of course an understandable irritation by some Jewish scholars that Christians seek to use Old Testament passages to assert that they foretell Christ, but there is also a strong tradition of Jewish scholarship that sees such passages as foretelling the Messiah, although they reject that Christ was he. Such an expectation was commonplace in the time of Christ as this passage from the Roman historian Suetonius’ Life of Vespasian indicates:

    “There had spread over all the Orient an old and established belief, that it was fated for men coming from Judaea to rule the world. This prediction, referring to the emperor of Rome -as afterwards appeared from the event- the people of Judaea took to themselves”.

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  • Isaiah 9:6 prophesied that the child will be called “God the Mighty.” Why would a newborn baby be called God? Therefore, this prophecy refers to Jesus Christ.

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Messianic Prophecies: Wisdom 2: 12-20

Saturday, November 26, AD 2011




Something for the weekend.  O Come, O Come Emmanuel.  We start Advent tomorrow, and my thoughts have been turning to the many messianic prophecies in the Old Testament that are applicable to Christ.  I do not think there is adequate treatment in contemporary catechesis of the remarkable string of prophecies in the Old Testament that find their completion in Christ.  All Catholics need to be familiar with these prophecies, for they are an anchor for our Faith.  One example is Wisdom 2:12-20:

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Advent: God So Loved The World

Sunday, December 12, AD 2010

Advent might be summarized by John 3:16:   “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

In daily life it is often easy to lose sight of the fact that we are always in the hands of an infinitely loving God who became one of us, His creatures, as a result of that love.  Men often fear and deny God I think out of a profound belief that they are unworthy of this love.  Peter, the prince of the apostles, after meeting Christ asked Him to leave him because Peter was a sinful man.  In our times, drenched in cynicism and wallowing in sin, love is in short supply it seems, and the idea of a loving God is one that many of us flee from and attempt to futilely deny.  This attitude calls to mind this passage from the Screwtape letters:

The truth is I slipped by mere carelessness into saying that the Enemy really loves the humans. That, of course, is an impossibility. He is one being, they are distinct from Him. Their good cannot be His. All His talk about Love must be a disguise for something else—He must have some real motive for creating them and taking so much trouble about them. The reason one comes to talk as if He really had this impossible Love is our utter failure to out that real motive. What does He stand to make out of them? That is the insoluble question. I do not see that it can do any harm to tell you that this very problem was a chief cause of Our Father’s quarrel with the Enemy. When the creation of man was first mooted and when, even at that stage, the Enemy freely confessed that he foresaw a certain episode about a cross, Our Father very naturally sought an interview and asked for an explanation. The Enemy gave no reply except to produce the cock-and-bull story about disinterested love which He has been circulating ever since. This Our Father naturally could not accept. He implored the Enemy to lay His cards on the table, and gave Him every opportunity. He admitted that he felt a real anxiety to know the secret; the Enemy replied “I wish with all my heart that you did”. It was, I imagine, at this stage in the interview that Our Father’s disgust at such an unprovoked lack of confidence caused him to remove himself an infinite distance from the Presence with a suddenness which has given rise to the ridiculous enemy story that he was forcibly thrown out of Heaven. Since then, we have begun to see why our Oppressor was so secretive. His throne depends on the secret. Members of His faction have frequently admitted that if ever we came to understand what He means by Love, the war would be over and we should re-enter Heaven. And there lies the great task. We know that He cannot really love: nobody can: it doesn’t make sense. If we could only find out what He is really up to! Hypothesis after hypothesis has been tried, and still we can’t find out. Yet we must never lose hope; more and more complicated theories, fuller and fuller collections of data, richer rewards for researchers who make progress, more and more terrible punishments for those who fail—all this, pursued and accelerated to the very end of time, cannot, surely, fail to succeed.

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3 Responses to Advent: God So Loved The World

  • Nice post Don.
    I’ll have to plagiarise it for my next practice homily. 😉

  • Thank you Don! I have always been intrigued by the concept that many men spend their lives hiding from the love of God. Francis Thompson touched on this in his unforgettable The Hound of Heaven:

    I fled Him down the nights and down the days
    I fled Him down the arches of the years
    I fled Him down the labyrinthine ways
    Of my own mind, and in the midst of tears
    I hid from him, and under running laughter.
    Up vistaed hopes I sped and shot precipitated
    Adown titanic glooms of chasme d hears
    From those strong feet that followed, followed after
    But with unhurrying chase and unperturbe d pace,
    Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
    They beat, and a Voice beat,
    More instant than the feet:
    All things betray thee who betrayest me.

    I pleaded, outlaw–wise by many a hearted casement,
    curtained red, trellised with inter-twining charities,
    For though I knew His love who followe d,
    Yet was I sore adread, lest having Him,
    I should have nought beside.
    But if one little casement parted wide,
    The gust of his approach would clash it to.
    Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.
    Across the margent of the world I fled,
    And troubled the gold gateways of the stars,
    Smiting for shelter on their clange d bars,
    Fretted to dulcet jars and silvern chatter
    The pale ports of the moon.


Newman: Reflections at the Beginning of Advent

Monday, November 29, AD 2010


“Thine eyes shall see the King in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.” Isaiah xxxiii. 17.

 YEAR after year, as it passes, brings us the same warnings again and again, and none perhaps more impressive than those with which it comes to us at this season. The very frost and cold, rain and gloom, which now befall us, forebode the last dreary days of the world, and in religious hearts raise the thought of them. The year is worn out: spring, summer, autumn, each in turn, have brought their gifts and done their utmost; but they are over, and the end is come. All is past and gone, all has failed, all has sated; we are tired of the past; we would not have the seasons longer; and the austere weather which succeeds, though ungrateful to the body, is in tone with our feelings, and acceptable. Such is the frame of mind which befits the end of the year; and such the frame of mind which comes alike on good and bad at the end of life. The days have come in which they have no pleasure; yet they would hardly be young again, could they be so by wishing it. Life is well enough in its way; but it does not satisfy. Thus the soul is cast forward upon the future, and in proportion as its conscience is clear and its perception keen and true, does it rejoice solemnly that “the night is far spent, the day is at hand,” that there are “new heavens and a new earth” to come, though the former are failing; nay, rather that, because they are failing, it will “soon see the King in His beauty,” and “behold the land which is very far off.” These are feelings for holy men in winter and in age, waiting, in some dejection perhaps, but with comfort on the whole, and calmly though earnestly, for the Advent of Christ.

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Advent and Anti-Christ, Part IV

Sunday, December 20, AD 2009

The fourth and final part of my presentation of the four sermons on the Anti-Christ delivered by John Henry Cardinal Newman before his conversion during Advent in 1835.  Part I is here, part II is here and Part III is here.

In this last sermon Newman speaks of the persecution that will attend the reign of the anti-Christ.  In Newman’s day, living memory could recall the savage persecution that the Church endured dring the initial years of the French Revolution.  In our time, we have the blood-stained last century when millions of Christians were martyred for their faith.  It is all too easy to suspect that those terrible persecutions were trial runs for the persecution of the Anti-Christ.  The last century brought to reality these words of Newman:  “Let us then apprehend and realize the idea, thus clearly brought before us, that, sheltered as the Church has been from persecution for 1500 years, yet a persecution awaits it, before the end, fierce and more perilous than any which occurred at its first rise.” Certainly all prior persecutions pale before what Christians experienced in the Terrible Twentieth.

This is an interesting passage from Newman’s sermon:  “Again, another anxious sign at the present time is what appears in the approaching destruction of the Mahometan power. This too may outlive our day; still it tends visibly to annihilation, and as it crumbles, perchance the sands of the world’s life are running out.” I assume that Newman was thinking of the decline of the Ottoman Empire of his day, the sick man of Europe.  Freed from this adversary, perhaps Europe would unite behind one man, reform or revive the Roman Empire, and bring about the conditions for the Anti-Christ.  Small wonder that Hitler was frequently deemed the Anti-Christ during his lifetime.  Of course Hitler was not the Anti-Christ, but perhaps merely one of myriads of anti-Christs who have arisen and fallen in the centuries since the coming of Christ, or perhaps he is a precursor of the Anti-Christ.

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3 Responses to Advent and Anti-Christ, Part IV

  • Actually (if I’m not mistaken), the sermons as they exist now were published as #83 in Tracts For The Times in 1838, but they are a development of a series of sermons preached in 1835.

    Are you familiar with the short postscript Newman wrote for their publication? It’s rather interesting.

  • Thank you for the info DB. I have corrected my posts to indicate 1835 as the year of delivery. I was unfamiliar with the postscript. Bishop Horsley’s letter quoted in the postscript is stunningly prophetic.

  • The passage of the letter of Bishop Horsley quoted by Newman:

    ‘The Church of God on earth will be greatly reduced, as we may well imagine, in its apparent numbers, in the times of Antichrist, by the open desertion of the powers of the world. This desertion will begin in a professed indifference to any particular form of Christianity, under the pretence of universal toleration; which toleration will proceed from no true spirit of charity and forbearance, but from a design to undermine Christianity, by multiplying and encouraging sectaries. The pretended toleration will go far beyond a just toleration, even as it regards the different sects of Christians. For governments will pretend an indifference to all, and will give a protection in preference to none. All establishments will be laid aside. From the toleration of the most pestilent heresies, they will proceed to the toleration of Mahometanism, Atheism, and at last to a positive persecution of the truth of Christianity. In these times the Temple of God will be reduced almost to the Holy Place, that is, to the small number of real Christians who worship the Father in spirit and in truth, and regulate their doctrine and their worship, and their whole conduct, strictly by the word of God. The merely nominal {108} Christians will all desert the profession of the truth, when the powers of the world desert it. And this tragical event I take to be typified by the order to St. John to measure the Temple and the Altar, and leave the outer court (national Churches) to be trodden under foot by the Gentiles. The property of the clergy will be pillaged, the public worship insulted and vilified by these deserters of the faith they once professed, who are not called apostates because they never were in earnest in their profession. Their profession was nothing more than a compliance with fashion and public authority. In principle they were always, what they now appear to be, Gentiles. When this general desertion of the faith takes place, then will commence the sackcloth ministry of the witnesses … There will be nothing of splendour in the external appearance of their churches; they will have no support from governments, no honours, no emoluments, no immunities, no authority, but that which no earthly power can take away, which they derived from Him, who commissioned them to be His witnesses.’

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Pray for the Unemployed this Advent and Christmas

Wednesday, December 16, AD 2009

In my brief life on earth I have not experienced such high unemployment amongst my family and friends this year than ever before.  As each week passes I hear of another friend or acquaintance who has lost his or her job.

This is the worst recession I have seen and I don’t see any signs that it will let up for the next 9-12 months.  So I find it appropriate that a simple request to all our readers to make time this evening prior to going to bed and include those that are unemployed, especially those with families and dependents in your prayers.

With extra time on our hands the unemployed can remain steadfastly busy by working on their faith through prayer and service.  For when work does come around there will not be time for such activities.

The following prayer is a traditional Catholic prayer that I have used from time to time due to the nature of my work of being an independent contractor and one that helps to put life in proper perspective and order:

Dear Lord Jesus Christ,
You wanted all who are weary
To come to You for support.
Lord, I am worn out
By my inability to find work.

Guide my steps to a righteous path;
Give me the patience
To find opportunities with a future.
Calm my worries and fears
As my financial responsibilities mount.
Strengthen my resolve;
Embolden my heart to open doors;
Open my eyes to see life beyond rejections.
Help me believe in me.

Let me realize other ways
To bring about Your kingdom on earth.
Let me grow as a person
That I may be worthy
For Your greater glory.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,


Saint Joseph has been especially helpful for me and I strongly recommend him for those seeking employment:

Dear Saint Joseph, you were yourself once faced with the responsibility of providing the necessities of life for Jesus and Mary. Look down with fatherly compassion upon me in my anxiety over my present inability to support my family. Please help me to find gainful employment very soon, so that this heavy burden of concern will be lifted from my heart and that I am soon able to provide for those whom God has entrusted to my care. Help us to guard against bitterness and discouragement, so that we may emerge from this trial spiritually enriched and with even greater blessings from God.


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11 Responses to Pray for the Unemployed this Advent and Christmas

  • Thank you for this post. I’ve been unemployed for six months, and I’m thankful that I have so much support from my family and friends. I often wonder, when job after job falls through for me, whether God is sending those jobs to people who simply need work more than I do. We should trust that God has a perfect plan for us, and that the right work will come at the right time, at the right place. Praise God!

    Saint Joseph, pray for us!

  • St Joseph is a powerful intercessor. Once had to sell our house quick. Old farmhouse that the real estate agent said would have almost no one interested in. Also said we wouldn’t make our asking price. In four days had two offers both above asking price. Accepted the final offer on March 19th.

  • My prayers for all the unemployed. Nate, I hope you will soon find employment in which you can exercise your considerable talents.

    Tito, these are the worst economic times I can recall in my lifetime.

  • Thank you. I’ve been underemployed for over a year and have been doing a perpetual novena to St. Joseph.

    Also, let’s pray for hasty trips to the unemployment line for our elected officials!

  • “Also, let’s pray for hasty trips to the unemployment line for our elected officials!”

    Hear! Hear!

  • I’ll say a prayer for the under- and unemployed too. We had many layoffs at my place of employment 6 months ago but things are stable – for now. My director warned us today that in another 6 months, we may be in for more belt-tightening, so I am grateful to God for having a job now. Heaven knows what 6 months will bring.

  • Nate and Steve, I’m here with ya. Right now I am earning about 1/4 what I earned monthly this time last year. That’s rough. I am also grateful for the immense support of family and friends, and for the talents and disposition that God has given me. Naturally, I am not a happy-go-lucky guy, but as the last several months of underemployment have worn on, God has given me a greater and greater sense of his presence and providence. That awareness has helped me to be confident, and even happy on a deeper-than-what’s-happening-now basis. I mean, I find myself enjoying experimenting with new recipes for rice and beans. Lolol. Believe it or not, I am actually living in the 3rd or 4th most expensive county in the country on an income below the poverty level, without having lost a pound or gone without shoes – although, mine are starting to look pretty ratty. It’s grace. Grace, grace, grace. He has blessed me with such amazing friends and family, and has given me just enough work to keep from having to beg from strangers or impose upon family.

    I have been trying to fill my time productively: resumes and job hunting, building side businesses, charitable work, odd jobs, prayer, watching favorite movies, socializing with friends, blogging, helping out neighbors. A former coworker of mine was downsized, and very quickly secured a new job. At first I was bitter, but then I realized that he probably needs it more than me. For starters, he has very little family in the area. Now, I find myself happy that he has the job rather than me – if it comes down to a cosmic either-him-or-me. God has taught me so many lessons on this sort of extended retreat.

    God is preparing for each of us just the right thing; and even now, we are exactly where he wants us. That is a consoling thought!

  • Nate, Ryan, et al,

    I’m with you guys on this as well. I have to say that the most fruitful time in my life thus far has been being unemployed.

    Right now is the best time to work on our virtues.

    My spiritual growth has developed by leaps and bounds and I am ever thankful for this.

    God does know what is best for us and we can never thank Him enough for these times.

    Patience, prudence, and faith has been the lessons I am learning these past few months and I am ever more grateful for them.

    Have a great Advent everyone!

    P.S. …and pray to send our politicians to the unemployment line, preferably all of them. They’re rich enough as it is anyways. 😉

  • Lol. You know, at first reaction, I thought the repeated prayer against our politician’s employment was a bit mean-spirited. Your last post has got me thinking, Tito.

    They have got a enough money, haven’t they? Moreover, they are, for the most part, entirely unqualified for the positions that they hold. And last of all, unemployment might teach them a thing or two. Their unemployment, moreover, would probably mean a replacement of their increasingly insane and wicked policies.

    So I’m with you – here’s to our politicians’ sanctification. Lololol.

  • This has been the worst year I can remember. My cousin and her husband both lost their jobs at the same time and there’s a 20% unemployment rate in their town. They are probably going to lose the house, the car, the truck and their marriage.

  • Hey Dymphna,

    Yeah, I have a lot of family in Michigan, where unemployment has been high since the 70s and has reached 27% in this past year. One of my uncles just landed a job after two years of unemployment and two brushes with foreclosure. When he called my mom to tell her, he was almost weeping he was so happy to have work again.

    Such times are hard ones in which to seek and find the hand of God at work. That is the concrete challenge that we face; we also need to help each other see the hand of God at work. If we fail to do so, then we will fall into despair of God’s love… we will forget he loves us. It is so hard to see that in such times. We must spend time, much time in prayer, asking not for our will, but for his, which is surely better.

The Claremont Reviews Advent Interview with Fr. James V. Schall

Tuesday, December 15, AD 2009

Since 2002 Ken Masugi, a senior fellow of the Claremont Institute and lecturer in Government at Johns Hopkins University, Washington DC, has conducted Advent interviews with James V. Schall, S.J., author of over thirty books on political theory and theology. Fr. Schall teaches in the Government Department of Georgetown University.

The interviews themselves are a delight to read and span a variety of topics from current events to the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI to issues in philosophy, theology and ethics — and sometimes, in addition, what books Fr. Schall himself is reading at that particular moment in time.

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Advent and John the Baptist

Friday, December 11, AD 2009

In Advent my thoughts frequently turn to John the Baptist, the last, and the greatest, of the prophets who foretold the coming of Christ.  The Jews lived in expectation for many centuries for the coming of the Anointed One, the Christ.  It was left for the Baptist to be His final herald.  His cries for repentance in preparing the way for the Lord are a useful reminder to us as to the proper spirit to celebrate the birth of Christ.

Of the film portrayals of John the Baptist, my favorite is that of Charlton Heston in the movie The Greatest Story Ever Told, who conveys well the sheer force of the Baptist’s message and the courage with which he conveyed it.  John came to testify to the Truth and nothing would stop him from doing it, not even death as the last 2000 years can attest.

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Advent and Anti-Christ, Part II

Sunday, December 6, AD 2009



Part II of my presentation of the four sermons on the Anti-Christ given by John Henry Cardinal Newman during Advent in 1835 before his conversion.  Part I is here.

In this second sermon Newman concentrates on what we can glean of  the Anti-Christ  from Scripture and from the writings of the Fathers of the Church.  One thing stands out in this sermon for me.  The idea that the reign of the Anti-Christ may involve both ferocious atheism and a return to paganism.  This seems like a contradiction, but Newman points to the French Revolution:

In that great and famous nation which is near us, once great for its love of CHRIST’S Church, since memorable for deeds of blasphemy, which lead me here to mention it, and now, when it should be pitied and prayed for, made unhappily our own model in too many respects,-followed when it should be condemned, and admired when it should be excused,-in the capital of that powerful and celebrated nation, there took place, as we all well know, within the last fifty years, an open apostasy from Christianity; not from Christianity only, but from every kind of worship which might retain any semblance or pretence of the great truths of religion. Atheism was absolutely professed; -yet in spite of this, it seems a contradiction in terms to say it, a certain sort of worship, and that, as the prophet expresses it, “a strange worship,” was introduced. Observe what this was.

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138 Responses to Ole Timey Country Simple Christmas

  • MI,

    You put another smile on my face.

    You’ve given me so much joy and laughter I only wish I could return you the favor.

    Do you want a Christmas grape or a Christmas hog?

  • Tito – Do you know why this blog post is offensive? Who do you think you might be offending?

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  • I posted the following response to Michael at the link above, but he deleted it (ironically, given his objection to censorship in the linked post). I believe it’s the first time I’ve had a comment deleted. In any case, all ‘you’s’ and ‘you’res’ are addressed to Michael:

    If you’re unfamiliar with the red state guys (and it appears you are), you’ve completely misinterpreted their whole schtick:

    1) They are conservatives, making videos for conservatives (including rural conservatives);

    2) They make fun of liberals and/or fringe-ish elements of the right;

    3) They send-up themselves in a self-aware way to suggest that the liberal stereotype of stupid rural Americans is inaccurate. Now, their humor is certainly not to everyone’s taste, but you’ve completely missed the point if you think the video is intended to denigrate rather than amuse people who live in rural American (much less Appalachia, which isn’t even mentioned in the video).

    4) The video also makes fun of effete urban dwellers for their squeemishness at killing a pig, when they have no reservations about eating a ham sandwich.

    5) This: His post has received comments pointing out how offensive it is and that he owes his readers an apology. is basically a lie. I read your comments (although I did not delete them), and they provided no rationale for your objection other than an all-too-characteristic combative tone. I had no idea after reading them: a) Why you found the video offensive; or b) Why you couldn’t be bothered to articulate your grievance.

    6) I would submit there is a tension in the link above between Michael’s professed concern for charity and the content of the post. In any case, I wish Michael well. Michael is feel to free outraged; I am sorry he does – and I did not post the clip originally – but I think his outrage is based on a needlessly offensive misinterpretation.

  • 5) This: His post has received comments pointing out how offensive it is and that he owes his readers an apology. is basically a lie. I read your comments, and they provided no rationale for your objection other than an all-too-characteristic combative tone.

    I deleted your comment because you accused me of lying when I did no such thing. The sentence you quoted of mine is the truth. The fact that I did not provide a “rationale” to your liking is irrelevant. Tito was told the video was offensive and asked to apologize.

    I think his outrage is based on a needlessly offensive misinterpretation.

    This is a typical defensive reaction. “It’s all just a misinterpretation.”

  • Humor more subtle than “And then the Fascist Republican choked to death!” is wasted on the Catholic Anarchist.

  • I deleted your comment because you accused me of lying when I did no such thing. The sentence you quoted of mine is the truth. The fact that I did not provide a “rationale” to your liking is irrelevant. Tito was told the video was offensive and asked to apologize.

    Michael, your post says that:

    Unfortunately, he is not oblivious. His post has received comments pointing out how offensive it is and that he owes his readers an apology

    This strongly suggests that you provided some sort of explanation for why you were offended. But, as you concede, you provided no such explanation, and did not even to attempt engage Mr. Edwards charitably. I think your post is misleading and deceptive on that score.

    Moreover, context matters here. You have been known to take offense at everything from the 4th of July to Thanksgiving. Mr. Edwards was likely as ‘oblivious’ as I was to what you found offensive (violence against pigs was my guess), and you made no attempt to explain prior to posting your cry for a more charitable blogosphere. Implying, as your post does, that you attempted to address this civilly first but were met by derision, is simply inaccurate.

    This is a typical defensive reaction. “It’s all just a misinterpretation.”

    Well the good news is that anyone reading this thread can judge the matter for themselves. I certainly don’t understand the clip to be a mean-spirited polemic against people who live in rural America, and I think a review of some of the other Red State clips would provide context to confirm that view. But, as I said, I don’t begrudge anyone the opportunity to offer a different interpretation. I could be wrong. Either way, I think you’re post is somewhat misleading and it’s certainly uncharitable. To say this is not to say the clip brilliant or high art or anything else.

  • I don’t find the RSU guys terribly funny, but I confess to finding some humor in a twisted sort of way at the thought that the most caustic and outright hateful blogger in Catholic blogosphere is calling someone out on being uncharitable and offensive, then having the nerve to call for more “charity” in the blogosphere. Funnier is that he moderates to ensure opposing comments don’t get though, yet criticizes someone for deleting his objection.

  • most caustic and outright hateful blogger in Catholic blogosphere

    Priceless! May I quote you? May I put down that you you wrote this on the Second Monday of Advent?

  • This strongly suggests that you provided some sort of explanation for why you were offended.

    It “strongly suggests” no such thing. And I admit that I did not offer an explanation to Mr. Edwards. I thought he was smart enough to see why the video is offensive. I guess he’s not.

    But, as you concede, you provided no such explanation, and did not even to attempt engage Mr. Edwards charitably.

    You have no evidence that I did not engage him charitably. Why is it “uncharitable” for me to simply tell him that his video is offensive and that he owes his readers an apology? If anyone could be charged with lying, sir, it is you.

  • In other news, the Red Green Show is deeply offensive to rural Canadians and PBS is ordered to stop broadcasting it immediately less they offend our neighbors to the north. Shame on them for thinking that a show made about Canadians by Canadians is not inherently offensive to Canadians.

  • I saw the comment awaiting moderation and I thought it was a joke.

    As in, “this is so unfunny it’s offensive to my comedic sensibilities.”

    It honestly never dawned on me that anyone would actually find that offensive as in politically incorrect.

  • It really doesn’t make sense to you, Darwin and Joe, that “Appalachian humor” could be offensive? That’s really not surprising, considering its history. Read my post on Dick Cheney’s West Virginia incest joke.

  • Shame on them for thinking that a show made about Canadians by Canadians is not inherently offensive to Canadians.

    “Canadians” doesn’t mean anything. By your logic, some white Christian Canadians could make an insulting video about Muslim Canadians and you would defend it by saying it was a video “about Canadians by Canadians.” Makes no sense.

  • Perhaps the point only makes sense to those of us who watch radically conservative TV stations like PBS, Michael. The Red Green Show is a comedy sketch/sitcom produced by the Canadian broadcasting service which centers around a rural, small town in Canada. The humor mostly centers around rural/small town jokes, and schemes of the main character (a handyman named Red Green) to get projects finished quickly using junk, duct tape, and a minimum of actual work.

    Whether this makes it offensive to rural Canadians is not a topic I’d consider myself an expert on, but as I recall it’s the longest running comedy show in Canada, and it usually gets late night PBS slots here in the US as well.

    In other words: get a grip. While it’s true that there are negative stereotypes out there about Apalacia, not every piece of rural humor is a part of this phenomenon.

    And really, it’s a little hard to take a plea for civility and charity seriously, when it’s couched in “I hardly ever talk to these people because they’re all fascist, nationalist, militarists anyway” terms. If there’s one person in the Catholic blogsphere in little position to throw stones when it comes to falsely stereotyping others, it would be you.

  • Michael,

    I love you man.

    I deleted your comment because it had no explanation as to what you were offended by. No one, including John Henry nor Joe Hargrave nor Darwin deleted your comment, I did.

    If you read the tags to this post it is tagged as “humor”. If that didn’t give it away then I’m not sure how else to explain to you the humor done on the show.

    I thought conservatives poking fun at conservatives would be funny! Which I found it was funny. I just discovered the site last week and this was the only one that got me to chuckle enough to post it.

    Anyways I suggest you can offer up your suffering to God for all the poor rural folk!


  • Michael,

    You need to check up on the definition of Calumny.

    Out of curiosity I just read your post and it falls well short of charity.

    I will be praying for your change of heart.

  • “most caustic and outright hateful blogger in Catholic blogosphere”

    Michael, I’ve said as much to you before.

  • Oh… my…

    It’s hard for me to comprehend just how this video clip is offensive, let alone how it singles out Appalachia. As one who has been graced to live in Texas for 28 years of my life, and being familiar with a variant rural Texas culture (my family hails from one of these rural towns near the Red River), I can assure you that this “podunk-ness” is not unique to Appalachia.

    I don’t think it’s a stretch to find similar types of this rural culture in other states, such as LA, MS, AL, and GA. Then again, it shouldn’t be relegated to the south either. There are similar variants out here in the northwest as well. E. WA, ID, MT, and WY.

    To those of you whose state I have failed to mention with respect to rural culture, I apologize; I’m not as cosmopolitan as others.

  • Michael, I’ve said as much to you before.

    Well there you have it. I must be “hateful” then if you two experts think so.

  • MI,

    I don’t think the clip was malicious in intent.

    On the other hand, your characterization of this blog as “quasi-fascistic” is a little offensive to me.

  • I don’t think the clip was malicious in intent.

    That does not make it unoffensive. We can do and say things that are offensive and not “intend” to do so. When someone I know informed her relatives that she was pregnant and it became known to one particular relative that the father is black, the relative replied “I hope it was one of the smart ones.” When confronted about this comment she replied that she did not intend to be insulting or racist, but her comment was clearly both. Tito’s video is offensive to some people. He should apologize. The fact that he didn’t “intend” it to be offensive is irrelevant.

    On the other hand, your characterization of this blog as “quasi-fascistic” is a little offensive to me.

    Well, I didn’t “intend” it to be offensive. In fact, I said that the blog has quasi-fascist tendencies, and I was in fact referring to one of your contributors in particular. Fascism is a word with a meaning. Whether that word is applicable to the contributor in question can be debated. But my use of the word was not intended to be insulting. just a statement of what I perceive to be fact. The video under discussion, on the other hand, makes rural people the butt of a series of jokes. There is no comparison, in my opinion.

    John Henry – I’m not into caricatures and ridicule. You may consider criticism of persons to be simple caricature and ridicule, but careful, you might be asked to defend such charges. At which point you will retreat from the conversation.

  • It’s not my thing, because I don’t think of myself as being “Red State” in the way that the Red State Update guys are talking about, but I can’t help seeing this crusade of Michael’s as being a bit like going after Woodie Allen with the accusation that all his movies constitute drawing humor from negative stereotypes about New York Jews.

  • MI,

    I really don’t find the video offensive. It seems like people poking light-hearted fun at themselves. I don’t think the content is malicious.

    As for your comment, there’s no comparison. To me that video looks like rural people making light of some of their own tendencies.

    Your comment, on the other hand, was deliberately offensive, and it originally didn’t single out a person, (it reads: “I don’t typically refer to this particular blog in my posts, as it’s usually too easy a target what with its nationalistic and quasi-fascist tendencies.”) and the addition of the word “tendencies” doesn’t make it any better.

    So now we learn that you didn’t mean the blog, but a person, and that you don’t even think the “person in question” really is a fascist, or “quasi-fascist”, but only might be.

    You know what I call that? Dangerous, reckless, offensive, and hateful. You owe this entire blog an apology.

  • I mean, I guess it would be okay if, instead of calling a black person a n-word, you said they just had “n-word tendencies.”

  • Fascism is a word with a meaning.

  • Tito’s video is offensive to some people.

    It’s offensive only to those who choose to take offense.

    Life would be so much more fun if you were able to chill out about, well, anything.

  • Priceless! May I quote you? May I put down that you you wrote this on the Second Monday of Advent?

    Sure, but “Feast of St. Ambrose” has nicer ring to it than “Second Monday of Advent”. Just sayin’.


    (No offense to twits. Or saints for that matter. Nor to Appalachians, Texas rednecks, blue collar grunts, corporate fat-cats, quasi-fascists, anarchists, and Amish witchdoctors on medical disability. Maybe a little offense to lawyers. No animals were harmed in the writing of this post, but I did just eat one for dinner.)

  • S.B. – Great life philosophy you have there: Chill out! Have fun!

    No thanks.

  • Michael:

    How is your “faith-filled” blogging different than it was two weeks ago?

  • Michael,
    Must be tough to view every suggestion as a philosophy.

  • Michael,

    I’d switch to decaf if I were you.

  • Oh for heaven’s sake. I clicked over here from Vox Nova, unable to imagine what terrible calumnies MI was referencing…wondering what I would encounter and..

    it’s the Red State Update Guys.

    Catch a clue, Michael.

    These guys are Middle Tennesseeans (from Murfreesboro, I think, right outside of Nashville) who created these characters – they are of that place, in that place, and people in the area love them. Real Live Southerners are not offended by RSU so you need not fret, okay?

    I mean…seriously?

  • Ellen – Being from the South does not mean that one’s jokes are automatically not offensive. I mean… seriously.

  • “Fascism is a word with meaning” – is that all you have to say for yourself?

    Fascism is a politically charged epithet that is commonly used to smear people without having to engage their ideas, a way of associating a person or an idea with the most vile regime of all time. You darned well know it too.

    You characterized this entire blog as “quasi-fascistic” in your post at VN for everyone to read. That is a slander. It was reckless, dangerous, offensive, and hateful.

    Why should anyone ever take anything you have to say seriously ever again, when you can’t admit you did something wrong and apologize for it?

  • “Why should anyone ever take anything you have to say seriously ever again?”

    In my first go-round with Michael, I referred to Matthew 18, that a person should be rebuked first in private, then with a few witnesses, then in front of the whole community. If the person refuses to change his behaviour, there’s probably no reason to take him seriously again.

  • Fascism is a politically charged epithet that is commonly used to smear people without having to engage their ideas, a way of associating a person or an idea with the most vile regime of all time. You darned well know it too.

    Yes, just so. And for michael to call for civility of discourse is a severe irony. He has been specifically called to task on the hatreds, demeaning behavior, inflamations, assignment of negative motives, ect. by a variety of folks from a variety of backgrounds and opinions. This includes one former blogger that was widely respected but understandably became dismayed by a bitter spirit of contention, one that drove several people away.

    It’s not proper to speculate about “real life,” but the e-persona is so lacking in charity and good faith as to not be viewed as anything more than an occasional, amusing distraction.

  • [Reflexive accusations that other members of the conversation are racists removed as needlessly uncharitable, inflammatory and, of course, false.]

    Joe – Yes, that is all I have to say regarding my use of the term “fascism” other than this: if you think it refers only to one regime, you need a better reading of history.

  • But usually when the humor is at someone else’s expense, it should be questioned.

    Says michael in the VN thread. But if these guys are poking gentle fun at anybody, it’s at themselves, not someone else. Of course, given that he, in years of writing, has never shown the slightest capability for wit (let alone that of the self-deprecating kind), it might be chalked up to simple unfamiliarity with the very concept.

  • racists

    Well, of course – we’ve disagreed at various points. It’s a shame the e-persona is incapable of dialogue better than that sort of junk, as michael seems like a bright guy with interesting things to say. Maybe at some point he’ll actually take to heart the many criticisms from many different corners.

  • MI,

    So you won’t apologize for your reckless, dangerous, offensive, hateful comment? You’re content to wallow in hypocrisy?

    You brazenly labeled this blog “quasi-fascistic” for your audience. That is the issue. Your pathetic evasions will not be addressed.

  • [Reflexive accusations that other members of the conversation are racists removed as needlessly uncharitable, inflammatory and, of course, false.]

    I’m shocked, shocked, to hear that on the Second Tuesday of Advent!

  • From redneck humor to accusations of racism. Brilliant troll, there MI. Brilliant!

    Now, back to redneck humor… I saw this on the wall at Babe’s some time ago (BTW, their food is excellent!):

    M R farmers
    M R not
    O S A R, C M M T pockets
    L I B! M R farmers

  • Big Tex – Like you said, it’s not just in the Appalachian south. I’ve seen plenty of rural culture across New England. Rednecks are rednecks, God bless’em.

  • Joe – I do not apologize for saying that this blog has “quasi-fascist tendencies.” Let me explain. You are no doubt aware of the contributors I am referring to. (As much as I disagree with some of your views, for example, I would not characterize you as a fascist.) I characterize said contributors’ views as “fascist” not to be mean or insulting or sensationalistic, but because their views clearly resemble the characteristics of the historical political tendency of fascism, broadly understood. That is, I am not simply looking to compare said contributors to Hitler or whatever other narrow understanding of “fascism” you might have. And since said contributors write for this blog, the latter can rightly be said to have “quasi-fascist tendencies.”

    I hope I am being clear. I find it really strange that you and others here feel free to invoke the various totalitarianisms of history, e.g. communism, Nazism, fascism, etc. when it suits you (such as when you all post about Hugo Chavez) but when those on the left do so, we are simply being “insulting” and “hateful.” If we cannot use a political term like “fascist” without getting bent out of shape, then we risk allowing fascism to continue to appear in new forms, even “american Catholic” forms.

  • because their views clearly resemble the characteristics of the historical political tendency of fascism

    This basically constitutes saying, in long form, “I said the blog was fascist because I think it’s fascist”. You’ve gone no where in regards to actually listing out views espoused by contributors which you actually consider to be fascist. One hates to speculate, but I can’t help wondering if this is basically because to you “fascist” basically means “supported the Iraq war” or “considers the military to be something other than wholly evil.”

    A basic definition of fascism (which, as you admit, is a word with a meaning) would be:

    Fascism is a political ideology that seeks to combine radical and authoritarian nationalism with a corporatist economic system, and which is usually considered to be on the far right of the traditional left-right political spectrum.

    Fascists advocate the creation of a single-party state, with the belief that the majority is unsuited to govern itself through democracy and by reaffirming the benefits of inequality. Fascist governments forbid and suppress openness and opposition to the fascist state and the fascist movement. Fascism opposes class conflict, blames capitalism and liberal democracies for its creation and communists for exploiting the concept. Fascism fashioned itself as the “Complete opposite of Marxian socialism…” by rejecting the economic and material conception of history, the fundamental belief of fascism being that human beings are motivated by glory and heroism rather than economic motives, in contrast to the worldview of capitalism and socialism.

    In the economic sphere, many fascist leaders have claimed to support a “Third Way” in economic policy, which they believed superior to both the rampant individualism of unrestrained capitalism and the severe control of state socialism.

    [I would actually quibble with elements of this, but I think it certainly passes the “commonly accepted” test.]

    So, the question would be: Who on this blog, in Michael’s opinion, thinks that capitalism and democracy are the cause of communism, supports the creation of a single party state, supports centralized direction of industry (rather than free market policies), and thinks that people are given a sense of meaning through the state’s pursuit of militarism and glory.

    Fascism is, indeed, a word with a meaning. The question is, does Michael know that meaning, or does he just get a wonderfully “grad school bad boy” feeling when he throws the word around.

  • If I had to guess (and I don’t, but i will anyway), I’d say Michael would cite various contributors support for the war in Iraq and perhaps Don’s posts on military chaplains as evidence of a fascistic tendency. I don’t share that view for a number of reasons, not least of which is that even patriotism/nationalism is not necessarily fascist, and saying someone is a fascist when they’re ardently opposed to most of what fascism stands for (i.e. rejecting centralization of industry, the single party state, and the idea that glory is the sum bonnum of human ambition) is a misuse of the term. One could as easily call Michael a fascist because he supports the centralization of the health care industry if meeting one condition is sufficient to earn the label. But Michael is entitled to make that argument, however implausible I or others find it.

    The real problem to me is that Michael doesn’t make the argument. He generally calls people names, writes obtuse one-liners, and then refuses to engage in a civil conversation. It’s the laziness that bothers me the most. It shows a lack of good faith and a refusal to treat others as people rather than objects to be derided. I’ve read Michael write about civility and charity any number of times; I hope one of these days he tries to put it into practice on-line. To take a recent example, if he’s going to write a post about the absence of charity in the blogosphere, he would do well not to casually insult people with unspecified charges of quasi-fascism in the second paragraph of the post.

  • Darwin – You might continue reading your Wikipedia article where it goes on to discuss the variety of understandings of fascism, rather than relying on its first paragraph for a rigid definition. Although I realize how many right wing Catholics are obsessed with clear black and white doctrines, as a tendency rather than a clear doctrine, fascism takes a variety of forms. It is debatable, for example, that fascism was/is anti-capitalist. Michael Parenti for example demonstrates how Italian fascism and Nazism were both pro-capitalist and undermined workers movements.

    I think Parenti as well as Chris Hedges (who draws on Umberto Eco) make a strong case for the continued existence of fascist tendencies in the united states and they do a good job of identifying characteristics of american fascism, many of which are present at various times on this blog.

    But to use your Wikipedia article as an example and starting point, I think many of the characteristics it lists are right: nationalism, authoritarianism, expansionist imperialism (including obsessive and unquestioning defense of america’s expansionist history), social darwinism (although some here would not admit it, such a worldview is embedded in their arguments), machismo and rigid gender roles (usually linked with militarism), racism, etc.

    To these we could add some of Eco’s identified characteristics, such as the complete rejection of “modernism” or the critical spirit, fear of difference (including sexual difference — anything that is not stereotypically “male”), the view that life is “permanent warfare” (or in John Milbank’s words, an ontology of violence), “contempt for the weak,” obsession with heroism, etc.

    Some of these characteristics are clearly present as well in some of your contributors’ take on Catholicism. Such a syncretism could rightly be called, in Dorothee Solle’s words, “Christo-fascism.”

  • One hates to speculate, but I can’t help wondering if this is basically because to you “fascist” basically means “supported the Iraq war” or “considers the military to be something other than wholly evil.”

    So no, the first speculation of yours has nothing to do with my claims about this blog. Neither does the second really, but I do think there are contributors here who are undeniably militaristic, although they would defend themselves through supposed “traditional” Catholic teaching, or by claiming that they simply do not “consider the military to be . . . wholly evil.”

  • Are you going to register a formal complaint again? I think you should, if for no other reason than it made me laugh out loud when I read it the first time.

  • The discussion of fascism reminds me of a scene from one of my favorite movies, where a newly arrived (to 1980s Spain) U.S. Navy officer is talking to his cousin and a young man mumbles “facha” at him as he walks by:

    – What does facha mean?

    – It’s slang for ”fascist.”

    – Fascist?

    – Don’t worry, they call everyone that. Comb your hair, wear a tie, you’re a facha. A military uniform? Definitely facha.

    – So, facha is something good, then. If it referred to the political movement
    Mussolini led, I’d be offended. Men wearing this uniform died ridding Europe of fascism.

    Then, later:

    – They obviously didn’t mean facha in the positive sense.

  • Michael,

    Though you throw a few names around in an attempt to make it sound as if you are well read on the topic, your basic sequence of conversation has come around to this:

    1) Fascism is a word with a definition, and some people on this blog fit it.

    2) (when confronted with an example of the common usage of the term fascism) Actually, fascism is a word with lots of definitions, some of which surely fit some of you, because I don’t like you.


    Your reading of political theory and 20th century history is about as informed as your ability to understand the writing or worldviews of people you don’t like. Frankly, this “oh yeah, you’re a fascist” attempt is about as lame as similar attempts by those on the right to label everything they don’t like as “socialist” or “communist”. And, indeed, seems to stem from a similarly dualistic understanding of modern political paradigms.

  • As Darwin notes above, Michael, retreating to a higher level of generality doesn’t help you out much here. If you’re using a definition of fascism other than the commonly accepted one, then the burden’s on you to specify that when you make the charge. Which you did not do. Otherwise, you will be (rightly) understood to be using the common definition, and should either apologize or edit the post. You’re attempting to dance around that now by name-dropping and insisting it’s only silly conservatives who bother to pay attention to the meaning of words, but that’s not particularly helpful when you’re also insisting that you have an alternative definition in mind.

    As to the alternative definitions you’ve suggested, it seems to me that as fascism is removed to the level of generality you’re describing, it loses its descriptive usefulness and becomes just another lazy way of saying ‘people I don’t like’. Which, after all, is basically what comes across in the post.

  • I think there’s one other thing at work here. There’s a tendency among bloggers to take their rivalries overly seriously. I’ve been reading about the blogger at Little Green Footballs having denounced conservatism recently. Certain bloggers are counter-denouncing him, and each other. The feud affects almost no one, but it seems big within a small community.

    The fact that this current AC/VN dustup took place under an “Ole Timey Country Simple Christmas” clip should be an indicator of how silly it is in the grand scheme.

  • Yeah, Pinky, it is silly. But the same could be said for most hobbies besides blogging. Personally, I enjoy the give-and-take. I bear Michael no malice, and wish nothing but the best for him (if not all of his arguments and casual assertions of fascism).

    I read the LGF formal denouncement and had a similar reaction to yours; everyone there seemed to treat the happenings on that blog as a life-and-death event. The author there clearly intended to provoke people, and he did.

    But this thread is a recreational activity for all involved; no one has their job or political future tied up in this. Hopefully, we can take this type of conversation a little less seriously than highly trafficked political blogs where people have careers and serious matters at stake. Michael called us (or some of us) fascists. This isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but I don’t feel bad about challenging the assertion.

  • I should add, incidentally, that:

    a) I make no demand for (and to be honest have no interest in) “an apology” from Michael. While such an apology might carry great value according to the principle of scarcity, I really don’t see how one blogger calling another group of bloggers a name is the sort of thing one needs to demand an apology for. I just think it’s foolish when people misuse words self-indulgently.

    b) I must admit to being mildly amused that Michael name drops Umberto Eco at me, in that Eco is an author that I’m very much familiar with — though I’ve primary ready Eco’s work on semiotics, aesthetics, and his fiction (in other words, what he’s known for) and must confess I’m unaware of his being a major expert on fascism. It would certainly be interesting to see what Eco has to say on the topic, as his writing is always interesting. But it’s not as if history or political theory is his main line.

    If I’ve gone far off the deep end here and failed to account for all sorts of wonderfully broad definitions of fascism — I know we have among our contributors and regular readers at least one PhD and one MA in political science, who I am sure are qualified to set both Michael and me straight in regards to any transgressions we may have made.

  • Darwin, you did not present us with “the” common definition of fascism. You presented us with the first paragraph of a Wikipedia entry. And then you accuse me of not being “well read” on the topic?

    John Henry – You have made two claims: 1) that I adhere to an “alternative” definition of fascism, and that 2) I have retreated to a level of generality that makes my understanding of fascism meaningless. I am not sure how I can be guilty of both.

    I’m also puzzled by the fact that you charged me with throwing around a word without defining it. When I defined it, referring to specific thinkers and characteristics, you still claim that I have simply come up with “just another lazy way of saying ‘people I don’t like'” without engaging what I have said in any sense.

    It’s almost as if you are thinking to yourself “Well, Iafrate, yes, many of us here at The American Fascist Catholic do believe many of the things you call ‘fascism,’ but since your definition of fascism like your understanding of many other political terms (imagine that coming from someone with contrarian political views!) is not the ‘common’ definition, we can dismiss you as simply ‘not liking us.’ Your criticism is therefore invalid.”

    If you wish to adhere to a definition of “fascism” that protects the concept from actual critical use, that is fine. I’ve gotten specific about the destructive characteristics that your blog demonstrates. Many people would call it “fascism” or at least “quasi-fascism.” Agree or don’t, but many of the bloggers here are guilty of the specific things I have listed.

    Pinky, you are right about the silliness of the discussion. The serious issue that I blogged about is the demeaning character of the post above. The “fascist” comment (the term I actually used was “quasi-fascist tendencies”) was a peripheral comment in my post. In blowing up about the comment (a comment that I have made many times before), it has become a convenient way for Tito and the other bloggers here to avoid dealing with the fact that this is an insulting, demeaning post. It’s a shame that they will not retract it and apologize. Their excuse-making, had it been in reference to black people, would be scandalous. Since it is in reference to simple poor, white, “ignorant” rural folks, they say “get a grip.”

    Makes me wonder if any of these fools have actually encountered any real rural people, or if Sarah “one-of-us-folks” Palin is the closest that they have ever gotten.

  • Citing Eco on fascism is the mark of a poseur. His definition is so ridiculously broad (rejection of modernism, fear of difference, etc.) that it could apply to lots of things that have no connection whatsoever to the historical danger of actual fascism. Thus, in practice — as we see here — Eco’s definition is usually just an excuse to use the term “fascism” to say nothing more intelligent than “I don’t like you.”

  • Michael,

    I didn’t quote the Wikipedia entry because I considered it to be in some sense to be definitive, but because in this case (as is often the case with encyclopedia entries) it was fairly representative of the consensus view on the topic.

    Further, you actually made no effort to describe how people on this blog had expressed fascist or “quasi-fascist” views, rather you listed off a number of rather vague characteristics which you proclaimed to be fascist, and then asserted in bald fashion that these views are “clearly present” in the writing of some of our contributors.

    And frankly, some of your alleged characteristics of fascism simply don’t make any sense if one knows anything about the history of actual fascist regimes. For instance, you list “the complete rejection of ‘modernism’ or the critical spirit” — well, critical spirit, yes, obviously. Fascism freqently involves the embrace of an all encompassing statist and cultural unity. However, fascism certainly did not reject modernity — indeed, it was one of the primary claims of fascist regimes that liberal democracy was an outmoded and corrupt system, and that fascism’s centralization, strength and unity would bring about _true_ modernity rather that dissolute aimlessness.

    In the end, while this has been, at least, an amusing diversion, it would seem that we’ve reached the point of a certain futility.

    As for your continuing indignation about the Red State Update video: It would seem the point of contention is that you for some reason consider yourself in a position to define the interests and feelings of those in Appelacia, and then in fact expand that to be a blanket advocacy for “rural people” (as if this were some unified group). I’m not clear why you consider yourself a sort of cultural rural values czar, but there doesn’t seem to be a clear reason why other should accept your authority in this regard. If a couple guys from Tennessee want to create humor about a group which they consider themselves to belong to, you’re welcome to unamused, but I’m unclear how you get to issue cultural and moral fatwas against them, just as you don’t get to tell us Hispanics whether George Lopez is funny, or tell Jews whether Woody Allen is funny. If this was Saturday Night Live doing hick jokes, you might have a bit of a case. But it’s hard to go after people making insider jokes about their own cultural group and insist that they’re being insensitive.

  • MI,

    So the presence of one or two people here who have tendencies you believe are “quasi-fascistic” is justification for you to smear the entire blog with a political swear word? At best the allegation of fascism is a serious charge that ought to be backed up with serious evidence. I don’t know how you would react if someone here said that Vox Nova had “communist tendencies” – maybe you wouldn’t care, but I would say you were in the right if you did.

    Using the word communist or fascist to describe a political leader is one issue; using it to smear fellow Catholics in the blogosphere is another.

    Because you can’t admit your own faults, because you are so blind and egregious in your hypocrisy, your credibility when pointing out the faults of others is absolutely zero. No one here is listening to you, and in fact, everyone is inclined by their healthy instincts to pretty much think or do the opposite of what you are peddling.

    Everything you do here – everything you have done, or ever will do here – is a complete waste of time.

    Unless of course you own up to your mistake, in which case, all of us here will be eager to forgive and forget, including me.

  • Also, good point, Darwin, about fascism.

    Franco in Spain, Salazar in Portugal, and certain factions of the far-right in other countries from Croatia to Czechoslovakia were careful to distinguish themselves from fascism.

    This I discovered while researching Christopher Hitchen’s fraudulent claims that fascism was a Catholic movement. Traditional right-wing Catholics viewed fascism as a modernist, neo-pagan ideology. Mussolini was a secularist and a socialist when he developed the doctrine of fascism, and only “converted” to Catholicism after the fascist coup for political reasons.

    This is all old news. Authoritarianism and fascism have always been distinguished in political theory. And I may as well note that while the Church condemned Hitler and Mussolini in different documents and in different ways, it never condemned Franco or Salazar, and, as far as I know, gave those regimes her blessing. Given what the Iberian leftists were doing to the clergy in the name of the glorious revolution, not to mention lay Catholics, it isn’t surprising. Whatever the flaws of the Franco regime, rule by the communist and anarchist vermin that opposed him would have been several degrees worse. I would say the same, by the way, about the right-wing contras who raped and murdered nuns in Latin America. Sandinista rule seems preferable to that.

    Of course, to communists and others on the far-left, anything to the right of center may as well be “fascist.” Marxists make no distinction between Franco and Hitler – both were fascists. Why? Because both violently opposed communism. One is either, ultimately, when the pretensions of liberal democracy are swept aside, either a communist or a fascist in this worldview, modernist or traditionalist, Catholic or pagan, syndicalist (as in Spain/Portugal) or corporatist (Italy).

    Back to the issue at hand – no one on this blog is fascist. Authoritarian, maybe – nationalist, perhaps, though I don’t think simple patriotism is “nationalism” and certainly not fascism. The Church has never made a condemnation of, and in fact has made a virtue of, a healthy patriotism, distinguishing it from nationalism and imperialism.

    That is to say, I don’t believe anyone here has crossed the line.

  • Oh come on folks, this is funny! The way I see it, it’s reminding people that the “old timey country simple Christmas” of yesteryear, which many of us might idealize or be nostalgic about, wasn’t all that great… how many of us would want to go back to slaughtering our own hogs?

  • I think it’s also in the tradition of tall tale nostalgia like the Four Yorkshiremen (“There were a hundred and fifty of us living in t’ shoebox in t’ middle o’ road.” “Cardboard box?” “Aye.” “You were lucky. We lived for three months in a paper bag in a septic tank.”).

    There are a lot of possible reactions to that sort of comedy, but to be offended on behalf of Yorkshiremen is to fail to understand what the sketch is.

  • I’m unclear how you get to issue cultural and moral fatwas against them, just as you don’t get to tell us Hispanics whether George Lopez is funny, or tell Jews whether Woody Allen is funny.

    Nor, despite his repeated attempts to speak on behalf of all the minorities of the world, does michael get to tell blacks whether they have the right to enjoy Chris Rock.

  • Man, I hope michael never finds out about Hee Haw, what with its farmer’s daughter jokes and self-deprecating humor galore. My grandparents — who had a small farm in Arkansas — loved that show. I’m sure they would have been even more amused to know that some leftist poseur was offended on their behalf.

  • Joe, I think that’s a good quick summation. Similiar to Darwin’s correct point: And frankly, some of your alleged characteristics of fascism simply don’t make any sense if one knows anything about the history of actual fascist regimes.

    It’s always curious how many folks on the left throw around the term as a catch-all meaning “those I don’t like”…..because fascism as a historical movement tended to understand itself to be a big part of the movements of the left! In Italy and Germany especially the Fascist parties, including very much the Nazi Party, competed for support with the Communists, one reason why the groups became blood enemies. After Trotsky was exiled, the Fascists and the Communists were both “modern” (and no one has a good quick definition of what that meant/means), nationalist, and strongly statist. The difference was socialism in one country vs. socialism international (controlled by Moscow). That was the argument.

    Fascism and communism were strongly opposed to the two main currents of early 20th Century European “conservatism” (and here we must generalize awkwardly about conservatism, which arose, with roots in Burke after the Second World War as an organized movement to large-scale industralization, corporatism, and Wilsonianism in foreign policy): throne and altar monarchy, and the right-liberalism of British-based economic thought.

    “Fascist”, in other words, is not of the “right” – and we see this even today in a party I think most would agree could be fairly labeled “fascist” – the BNP. Their economics are far “left” and their hyper-nationalism belongs neither to the right or the left broadly defined, but draws from both the Conservatives and Labour as a political movement needing votes, as their appeals cut across various anxieties such as economic displacement and cultural change.

    Context is king. michael, once again, if you want to throw around heated terms, you should bring the details and examples.

  • “Everything you do here – everything you have done, or ever will do here – is a complete waste of time.”

    Hee hee! Joe, I want that printed on my coffee mug at work.

  • “Everything you do here – everything you have done, or ever will do here – is a complete waste of time.”

    That actually sums up how I feel about the law on bad days!

  • Elaine, you’re right: it’s funny. More redneck humor to amuse us fascist folks:

    Hee Haw
    Jeff Foxworthy
    Larry the Cable Guy

  • And of course, there’s Southern Culture on the Skids for our listening pleasure. I believe Camel Walk was getting some air play on the radio back in the 90’s. It was an ode to Little Debbie snacks.

    Say, you don’t think there’s anyway I could get that quarter from underneath your pointy boot, do ya? All I want is just one more oatmeal pie.

  • I was going to post this last night, but our power has been out all night and all morning.

    Darwin, I’m not trying to impress anyone with the names I “dropped.” I hardly think Chris Hedges or Michael Parenti would be impressive names to any of you. I was asked to describe what I meant by fascism and I did so, giving credit to some people that I have read on the topic. Of course I am not as well read on fascism as your buddies with Ph.D.’s and M.A.’s in political science. I don’t claim to know as much as them. My field is theology. I look forward to their comments, though I figure if their political/ethical commitments are the same as yours, they will be looking to use their knowledge to obscure actual existing fascism rather than illuminate i. But we’ll see I suppose.

  • For instance, you list “the complete rejection of ‘modernism’ or the critical spirit” — well, critical spirit, yes, obviously. Fascism freqently involves the embrace of an all encompassing statist and cultural unity. However, fascism certainly did not reject modernity — indeed, it was one of the primary claims of fascist regimes that liberal democracy was an outmoded and corrupt system, and that fascism’s centralization, strength and unity would bring about _true_ modernity rather that dissolute aimlessness.

    You mean there might be — gasp! — contradictions in the characteristics of fascism when it comes to modernity?? You mean, like american right-wing conservatism, saying it is suspicious of or opposed to modernity, yet falling for it all along?! No way! (Indeed, yet another parallel.)

    No one here is listening to you…

    Right. I can’t tell whose responses to me are longer – yours or Darwin’s.

    Man, I hope michael never finds out about Hee Haw, what with its farmer’s daughter jokes and self-deprecating humor galore. My grandparents — who had a small farm in Arkansas — loved that show. I’m sure they would have been even more amused to know that some leftist poseur was offended on their behalf.

    The fact that some rural folks find such things funny does not mean it is not offensive or wrong. The fact that some black people find various black comedians funny does not mean that other black people should not be offended by it. And in either case, you do not have the right to tell those who are offended to “get over it.”

    And Darwin – Could you at least learn to spell the words APPALACHIA and APPALACHIAN? Can you do that for us, at least, when you make fun of us?

  • The “name dropping” and “poseur” charges are yet another example of how uncharitable you folks are.

  • I don’t think fascism neatly fits into either left or right molds, to be honest. Economically it has always been rather conventional and centrist – which is yet another reason why Franco, Salazar, and even Pinochet do not qualify as “fascist.”

    But I want to look at some of MI’s claims about fascism and this blog in particular.


    One can be a nationalist without being a fascist. What are pro-war Democrats in the final instance? Why is it that the right is accused of imperialism and nationalism when Democrats have embroiled us in more international wars? Bosnia and Serbia were “peace keeping missions”, right? And Vietnam was what again?


    Again, one can be authoritarian without being a fascist – though I don’t think anyone here is, and I find it rather odd that a blog that is also routinely accused of “liberalism” and “individualism”, two things hated by fascists, is also accused of being authoritarian.

    “expansionist imperialism (including obsessive and unquestioning defense of america’s expansionist history)”

    The part before the parentheses is so broad it could be extended around anyone who supported the Iraq War. While I believe it was a neo-con power grab, I recognize that plenty of people believe there were legitimate reasons for the war. Bottom line: no one on this blog endorses imperialism, we simply disagree as to whether or not certain wars can be classified as imperialist. Big difference.

    And again, Democrats are just as, if not more so, imperialistic than Republicans.

    “social darwinism (although some here would not admit it, such a worldview is embedded in their arguments)”

    Whose? I completely disagree. Even our most right-wing contributors believe in Christian charity, which has no place in a Social Darwinist worldview in which the weak necessarily perish by the will of the strong.

    Again, what we have are disputes over application of a principle – some here believe that the poor are better helped by private charity and actually harmed by government intervention. I disagree with that notion (much of the time, anyway), but I recognize its validity and I don’t believe it is anti-Catholic, let alone Social Darwinist.

    “machismo and rigid gender roles (usually linked with militarism)”

    Which I am sure the Church as a whole could be accused of – after all, if you oppose abortion, you necessarily hate and want to oppress women in the far-left view of the world. Do you think Eco and Parenti view opposition to abortion as anything other than “machismo” and an attempt to establish “rigid gender roles”?

    Be careful who you cite, fellow Catholic, for views about what constitutes fascism. Adherence to the basic teachings of the Church on birth control and abortion may make you a possible latent fascist, a “repressed” angry male who hates women and wants to force them to breed.

    “racism, etc.”

    No one here is a racist.

    “To these we could add some of Eco’s identified characteristics, such as the complete rejection of “modernism” or the critical spirit”

    As if everyone on the left were completely embracing of “the critical spirit” – what IS the “critical spirit” anyway? Please. Anyone told to submit to authority whines that their “critical spirit” is being silenced.

    As for “modernism”, I think we’ve already shown that fascism is a modernist movement rejected by right-wing authoritarians precisely for that reason. Franco and Salazar, for instance, wanted the Church to play a much greater role in society than Hitler or Mussolini ever did. Hitler especially suppressed the Church, not only in Germany but in all of the occupied countries, and in the “Table Talk” conversations discusses his future plans to completely destroy the Church. Fascism elevates the state above the Church, and tolerates the Church only insofar as she is subordinate to the state – THAT ALONE might suffice to establish fascism’s modernist character. It doesn’t go as far as communism, recognizing the existing religion as a more expedient tool than creating a new one around Marx and Lenin, but it goes far enough. On the other side of the coin, the Iberian dictators gave the Church a great deal of autonomous control over many aspects of social life. This is a massive difference, and relevant because I am fairly certain that if anyone here were going to embrace authoritarianism, it wouldn’t be of the fascist variety.

    “fear of difference (including sexual difference — anything that is not stereotypically “male”)”

    Or perhaps arrogantly reading “sexism” into every defense of tradition… maybe that’s a characteristic of the totalitarian communist left that makes up these lists?

    I won’t go on. The point is, no one here holds to all or even most of the objectionable things on this list, and the Church herself holds to some of them, such as “rigidly” defined gender roles (“rigid” in the eyes of leftists, that is).

    “Some of these characteristics are clearly present as well in some of your contributors’ take on Catholicism. Such a syncretism could rightly be called, in Dorothee Solle’s words, “Christo-fascism.””

    Do you have any evidence of this?

    I think every contributor here has or would sign the Manhattan Declaration, for instance, which declares that we as Christians will put our adherence to basic Christian principles before our allegiance to the state or obedience to the dictates of Caesar.

    What fascist would do such a thing? Fascism elevates the state above the Church, above religion, above any sort of independent spirituality. That is precisely why right-wing Catholics rejected it in favor of their own authoritarian projects.

  • I also have to add, with that Declaration in mind, that the notion that anyone here is fascist is even more ridiculous.

    Everyone here is strongly, if not fanatically, pro-life. What could be more incompatible with fascism, which declares that there are no natural rights, that individuals exist only to serve and glorify the state?

    In a fascist state, such as Nazi Germany or Mussolini’s Italy, or what Mosley proposed for Britain, eugenics would be a key policy, weeding out “the weak” through genetic engineering, racial purity laws, state organized breeding (the “Strength through Joy camps”), etc. Abortion would necessarily play a role in this, as would the systematic elimination of the mentally ill or even the less-than-bright.

    To even remotely suggest that anyone on this blog would sign off on policies such as these is not only insulting but stupid. But that is precisely what one does when one bandies about the word “fascist” or “quasi-fascist.” No worldview could be more opposed to fascism than Catholicism, even “right-wing” Catholicism.

  • Everyone here is strongly, if not fanatically, pro-life. What could be more incompatible with fascism, which declares that there are no natural rights, that individuals exist only to serve and glorify the state?

    No, most of the contributors here are strongly, if not fanatically, ANTI-ABORTION. Not “pro-life.” In fact, with the exception of abortion, some contributors here are profoundly anti-life.

    You are right, Joe, that non-fascists exhibit some of the characteristics I listed. This is true for just about every political category though.

    The fact is, the more characteristics from that list that one has, the more he or she begins to look like a fascist. Some of your fellow contributors would be wise to consider that.

    You going to approve my other comments above or what?

  • And Joe, FYI, the Manhattan Declaration is a complete joke.

  • BA,


    That was a pretty decent film at the time.


    So Santa Claus is a facha also?

  • Of course I am not as well read on fascism as your buddies with Ph.D.’s and M.A.’s in political science. I don’t claim to know as much as them. My field is theology.

    Boy, you could have fooled me.

  • Paul,

    Darwin is like Einstein who was a clerk but did physics as a side hobby.

    Darwin does law and theology as a side hobby!

  • MI,

    It’s not my post, so I don’t tinker with the comments.

    Why is the Manhattan Declaration a joke? Have you read it? Why don’t you cite for me the amusing passages. But before you do, let me know that you understand the point – that fascists demand total subordination to the state, while the Catholics on this blog, I think any fair-minded person would argue, would reject fascist demands to comply with eugenics and mass murder.

  • And by the way, putting “nationalism” on a list of characteristics that makes up fascism is about is interesting as putting “concern with poverty” on a list of characteristics that makes up communism.

    It’s true, but meaningless. What is relevant are those aspects of fascism that cannot be absent without ceasing to be fascism. I would argue that the total subordination of the Church to the state, on pain of repression, banishment or destruction is a characteristic of fascism that a) is necessary and essential to fascism (and communism, when and where it allows the Church to exist at all) and b) would be rejected by anyone on this blog.

    That’s to name only one, of course. I’ll say again – no one on this blog is even remotely fascist.

  • This seems like a good opportunity to present my definition of fascism, which I cobbled together from various other writers after reviewing some documents for my dissertation and reading Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism (a term coined by the socialist H.G. Wells, who called for a liberal fascism in a speech to the Young Liberals at Oxford):

    Fascism is the cult of state organized unity, and it was a movement of centralized planning, group identification, and willing obedience to a charismatic leader. This movement is collectivist and authoritarian – large, intrusive, and modernist, a rallying point to or a substitute for commonality, an organism that should nearly always respond when people “hurt.” Fascism should be understood as a supercharged nationalistic statism, finding its theoretical wellsprings in Hegelian historicism, Rousseau’s protean “general will,” Nietzschean will-to-power, Darwinian evolution, and a smattering of the Social Gospel thrown in for good measure—all of which overturned the older liberalism of Locke, the Enlightenment, and the American Founders. It is committed to an ever-expanding state, without any limits in principle. Fascism is a collectivist doctrine, worshipful towards the centralized state, socialist in economics, hostile to both tradition and capitalism — in short, a left-wing ideology opposed in almost every respect to classical liberal conservative individualism. Fascism was a religion, and the animating dogma of the faith was that all citizens must be together. It is belief in the primacy of the state as a historical actor: everything in the state, nothing outside the state. All the statist and collectivism -isms were reactionary in that they sought to repackage tribal values under the guise of modern concepts. Hitlerism was socialism for one race. Bolshevism was socialism for one class. Fascism is a religion of the state. It assumes the organic unity of the body politic and longs for a national leader attuned to the will of the people. It is totalitarian in that it views everything as political and holds that any action by the state is justified to achieve the common good. It takes responsibility for all aspects of life, including our health and well-being, and seeks to impose uniformity of thought and action, whether by force or through regulation and social pressure. Everything, including the economy and religion, must be aligned with its objectives. Any rival identity is part of the ‘problem’ and therefore defined as the enemy. Fascism has a grave moral defect: it fails to recognize the individual as the key social unit. Right economic reasoning begins not with the nation but with human action, and right social policy begins with the recognition that society is made up of individuals with souls. Fascism, on the other hand, by ignoring the individual soul, is socialism’s close cousin because it exults in the idolatry of the state. Contemporary progressivism is a political religion with its roots in German state theory, sharing a close family resemblance to fascism. Among the anatomical and genetic similarities: cult of unity, sacralization of politics, philosophical pragmatism, corporatism, relativism, Romanticism, hero-worship, collectivism. Here, corporations are a “partner” with governments, NGOs, the U.N., and other massive multinationals. The profit motive is “good” for efficiency and rewarding talent, but beyond that, there is a desire for order and predictability and planning. This mindset informs the entire class of transnational progressives, the shock troops of what H. G. Wells hoped would lead to his liberal-fascist “world brain.” They want big corporations and big government working in tandem with labor, universities, and progressive organizations to come up with “inclusive” policies set at the national or international level. That’s not necessarily socialism — it’s corporatism. This is the economic philosophy of fascism. Government is the senior partner, but all of the other institutions are on board, so long as they agree with the government’s agenda. The people left out of this coordinated effort — the Nazis called it the Gleichschaltung — are the small businessmen, the entrepreneurs, the ideological, social, or economic mavericks who don’t want to play along.

    I fail to see how any blogger here would approach this definition. And the term really needs to be out to pasture as an epithet.

  • Boy, you could have fooled me.

    Proving my point about lack of charity. Happy Advent.

    Why is the Manhattan Declaration a joke? Have you read it?

    Yes I have read it. The conservative tools who wrote it finally found an enemy who inspired them to finally get the balls to say “Jesus is Lord and we will stand up to the state!” And that enemy is gay people. They fancy themselves having written a new Barmen Declaration, which is totally hilarious. But it’s not even Christian.

    …let me know that you understand the point – that fascists demand total subordination to the state, while the Catholics on this blog, I think any fair-minded person would argue, would reject fascist demands to comply with eugenics and mass murder.

    You are summoning hypothetical issues in order to argue that the people on the blog are not fascists? Your point? I do think folks from your blog have justified mass murder, in fact.

    I would argue that the total subordination of the Church to the state, on pain of repression, banishment or destruction is a characteristic of fascism that a) is necessary and essential to fascism (and communism, when and where it allows the Church to exist at all) and b) would be rejected by anyone on this blog.

    Subordination of the church to the state does seem to me to be part of fascism, and I think that that idea would be rejected out loud by all of your contributors, but what would take place in practice? Clearly some of your contributors are Catholic in name only, or are Catholic with regard to the pelvic issues, while the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is their real religion. The church, then, is by default and willingly subordinate to the state for these people.

  • Michael I.,

    You’re grasping at straws now about being “anti-abortion” and “hating gays”.

    You really need to think twice and pray before you post your diatribes online.

    Now why is it you fled to Canada for again?

  • Clearly some of your contributors are Catholic in name only, or are Catholic with regard to the pelvic issues, while the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is their real religion.

    And here we have it.

    michael, your “ability” to read hearts, minds, and motives, especially when combined with the frequent name-calling, disdainful tone, and holier than thou posture, is one big reason why you have been called to task so often by such a wide variety of folks, and why one person I know we both highly respected wrote that you will be responsible for the hearts you harden.

    This sort of dialogue demonstrated above really is a destructive witness, and regardless of how much it might feel good in your mind to “stand up for the truth,” or whatever, your e-interactions do a lot more harm than good.

  • I don’t call people names jonathan.

    …why one person I know we both highly respected wrote that you will be responsible for the hearts you harden.

    I don’t know who you are talking about, but regardless, I am not responsible for people’s hardness of heart. And if they do not have ears to hear, that is not my responsibility either. But I do have a responsibility to call it like I see it, so I will continue to do that here at this blog with quasi-fascist tendencies. (If only it had more Christian tendencies!)

  • Michael I.,

    I deleted your last calumny.

    Keep up your uncharitable behavior and you’re back in the doghouse.

  • “I don’t call people names”

    “The conservative tools who wrote it…”

  • Well, we’re past the point of productivity. Good evening all. Feel free to email my handle at gmail if so inclined.

  • MI,

    First of all, the Declaration goes to great trouble to make it clear that it does NOT regard gay people as “the enemy.” It’s language could not have been any more clear, or any more respectful given what the Church and Scripture clearly teach about homosexuality. The reason this has become an issue is connected with the third major concern of the Declaration – religious freedom, which is something all Christians ought to stand up for, even those who wrongly disregard the immorality of homosexual behavior.

    Secondly, it is not clear to me at all that some of our contributors are “Catholic in name only.” Whatever faults some of us may have, the only person I would have accused of consistently and deliberately putting the interests of the American state ahead of Catholic teaching doesn’t even post here anymore.

    As for some of our contributors, it seems to me that any notion of support for, or calling attention to, some of the good things America has done over the past 230 years is enough to get them denounced by you and others as “nationalists.” I’m sorry, Michael, but patriotism is not a sin. The Catechism makes clear that love of one’s country is part of the virtue of gratitude, that we have a duty to defend our country and obey it’s laws (provided of course they do not conflict with God’s). I haven’t seen anyone currently here cross the line from patriotism into nationalism. Accusing Oscar Romero of hiding guns for communist revolutionaries might reflect poor and hasty judgment, but a fascist it does not make.

    I WILL say that I wish SOME of our contributors DID take a more critical approach to American history and foreign policy, but to call them fascist or even “quasi-fascist” because they don’t share the Howard Zinn view of American history or the Noam Chomsky view of foreign policy – if that’s what you think is accurate, I don’t know – is a malicious slander.

    That’s the point here. Your accusation of “fascism” is a serious charge. If you only meant it as a political swear word then it demonstrates your recklessness. And if you meant it as something more without providing evidence, then it demonstrates your laziness and hatred.

  • Michael,

    So since you’re pretty sure you don’t know as much about fascism as those with advanced degrees in political science, it might be time to point out that Joe Hargrave has an MA in the field (unless my memory serves me far wrong) and Paul Zummo holds a PhD in it.

    I apologize if my spelling offends you — while I’ve come far in improving it since I was young it’s not as good as I’d like, especialy when I’m writing late at night and trying to work on an RCIA presentation at the same time as following a blog thread. You can at least rest assured that my spelling errors (unlike some you may be familiar with) are always unintentional.

    Catching up on what I’ve missed over the last while, though, it looks to me as if the main issue is that you have very little ability to understand the views of those with whom you have political disagreements. Given that you seem to think about others through stereotypes, one can hardly be surprised if this thinking is often far off from the truth. It’s an unfortunate handicap, as it becomes impossible to think much about anything outside of one’s own head if one isn’t able to make some sort of attempt to understand other people’s worldviews from the inside. Perhaps this is something which has persisted from your right wing downs down until the present time?

  • I don’t call people names.

    Michael J. Iafrate Says:

    Thursday, August 6, 2009 A.D. at 12:45 pm
    Ignatius left the military, you twit.

    In fairness though, he was just calling it as he sees it. And since Michael is the model of charity and right-thinking I must yield to his word.


  • Michael I.,

    Again with the calumny.

    Your last warning.

  • Darwin – I’ve said this before, many times. I know the views you people hold very very well, because I used to share them.

  • Darwin – Having an advanced degree in political science does not make one’s political commitments crystal clear or ethical, I’m afraid.

  • Michael I.,

    You crossed the line of calumny into vicious slander and hate.

    I’m no longer approving your comments on this thread.

    You’ll have to hope that my colleagues approve your comments not directed towards me.

    Oh, and I still wish you a good Advent and Merry Christmas no matter how vile you are towards me.

  • Tito – You are a coward and nothing but.

  • I made an exception of approving Michael Iafrate’s last comment to show what I have to personally deal with when he does say something.

    I, as well as some of the others here at TAC, generally don’t approve of his comments since they remain mostly nonconstructive as well as embarrassing to himself.

    So from time to time we’ll let one of his comments to pass through so you are aware why his comments don’t generally get approved.

  • It also helps to give us a laugh.

  • Interesting thing about Woody Guthrie: when WWII started he wrote anti-war songs, but once Germany invaded the Soviet Union he switched to writing anti-fascist/pro-war songs (such as the one Michael links to). The irony of this whole discussion is that fascism has the negative connotations that it does precisely because America fought a war against it.

  • Darwin – Having an advanced degree in political science does not make one’s political commitments crystal clear or ethical, I’m afraid.

    I didn’t assert it was. But you suggested that those with degrees in political science might have a better understanding of fascism both in its common definition and in its many forms that your own, since it’s not your field. It would seem that the experts in the field that we have here all agree with those of us telling you that your accusations of fascism don’t fit at all with what fascism actually is. So by your own admission, it may simply be that you don’t know what you’re talking about in this instance.

    It’s okay. In certain cultural environments it’s easy to get into using the phrase “fascist” inexactly, or even ignorantly.

  • Darwin – I’ve said this before, many times. I know the views you people hold very very well, because I used to share them.

    Actually, if anything, that probably results in your knowing _less_ about the views of conservatives than if you’d never so described yourself. It is, generally speaking, far to easy to assume that because one once claimed alliegance to a set of beliefs that one therefore knows all there is to know about them, and the many defects of those who hold them.

    Would you say that people who were Catholic until high school and were vocal atheists by the time they are in grad school are generally people who can be relied upon to know the views Catholics hold “very very well”? Probably not.

    Similarly, I don’t see it necessarily holds that someone who went from being a Rush Limbaugh fan in high school to being an anarchist and “radical” in college is someone who can be counted on to have a mature or developed understanding of either conservatism or how conservatives tend to view the world.

    Further, your claim would rely on our assuming that we are suffering from false consciousness so incredibly deep that even when you characterize our beliefs as being radically different than we know them to be, that you somehow are right and we are wrong about what we think. Surely you can see how this would be a rather hard sell.

  • You have made two claims: 1) that I adhere to an “alternative” definition of fascism, and that 2) I have retreated to a level of generality that makes my understanding of fascism meaningless. I am not sure how I can be guilty of both.

    Well, we’re well past the point of diminishing marginal returns at this point, but I thought I might as well clarify this. You proposed an exceptionally abstract definition of fascism that does not comport with its common usage, as pointed out by, well, everyone else on the thread. This more abstract definition, stripped of most of the historical characteristics of fascism, renders the term much less meaningful. So, you both 1) used an alternative definition; and 2) that definition makes the term much less meaningful. It’s a bit of a bait-and-switch. You’re using the fascist tag with all of the unpleasant and horrifying historical baggage that comes along with it, but then trying to retreat to a higher level of abstraction when it’s pointed out that most of the elements of fascism (i.e. centralization of industry, the single party state, and glory as the sum bonnum of human ambition) simply don’t apply to the people you’re trying to label fascists.

  • Surely you can see how this would be a rather hard sell.

    Again, if you don’t buy what I’m “selling,” that is no responsibility of mine.

    You proposed an exceptionally abstract definition of fascism that does not comport with its common usage, as pointed out by, well, everyone else on the thread.

    It does not surprise me that “well, everyone else on this thread” disagrees with my use of the term “fascist” to describe them.

  • Joe – I’d be curious to know which of your former contributors you consider a fascist.

  • I think Joe was a little unclear and discussed people who post comments and contributors in the same paragraph (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, Joe). I don’t think we even have any ‘former contributors’. Unlike, say…

    It does not surprise me that ‘well, everyone else on this thread’ disagrees with my use of the term ‘fascist to describe them.

    Well, if you’re calling everyone on this thread a fascist, I’m not surprised either. You’re definition must be even broader and less useful than I’d previously thought. But the point wasn’t that they were disagreeing with you about whether they were fascists. They were disagreeing with your definition of fascism, regardless of whether you were applying it to them or not. For instance, I didn’t understand you to be calling me a fascist; I still thought (and think) you were using the term incorrectly. As you’ve conceded your lack of expertise in this area, I’m not sure what else there is to say.

  • Obviously I am not calling everyone in this thread a fascist. But I am not surprised that folks like yourself and Joe, considering your political commitments, would take issue with my use of the term to describe your comrades.

  • Again, if you don’t buy what I’m “selling,” that is no responsibility of mine.

    It depends on your objective. If you write words because you hope to convince anyone else in the world that what you are saying is true, then presentation matters; the ability to construct an argument matters; and the willingness not to attack other people using terms that you don’t understand matters as well. If, on the other hand, you simply write in order to ventilate your (obviously inexhaustible) supply of rage, then have at it.

  • S.B. – Just because folks at “The American Catholic” blog aren’t convinced by what I write on their blog does not mean I have not convinced anyone else in my life of anything. I am not worried about you folks.

  • As goofy as Michael’s use of the term “fascist” may be, it is easy enough to comprehend: any person who is not an anarchist has fascist tendencies. Now you have it.

  • Of course reason and evidence can play no role in our assessment of who is fascist – only our “political commitments.”

    It sounds like you have pre-decided to reject our arguments, as well as being “not worried” about us – so what exactly are you doing here?

    Are you just bored or something? VN not getting enough traffic to generate an interesting conversation so you thought you’d huff and puff over here and try to blow the house down?

    I’ll say it one more time. No one here is a fascist. In fact everyone here has been accused of “liberalism” and “individualism” so many times by your own comrades that to now bring up the charge of fascism seems even more ridiculous.

    If anything, as a sort of Christian Democrat/Red Tory I’M more authoritarian Tito, Don, Darwin or any of other conservative contributors, and you’ve already conceded that I’m not a fascist. I don’t know the point at which you stop calling people fascists – when they’ve totally rejected it’s economic program, it’s social program, it’s cultural program?

    Btw, John Henry, I was referring to a person who used to leave comments, not posts, here. I don’t want to name names.

  • Pure laissez faire ideology of capital can be summed up as:

    Ownership: Private
    Contraol: Private


    Ownership: Private
    Control: State


    Ownership: State
    Control: State

    I know of no state that has ever been 100% laissez faire. Almost everyone would agree the state should have some say in some instances regarding the control and use of capital (and in some cases the ownership). Most often the arguments are about how, where, when, and how much. And there is nothing inherently wrong with wanting some control by the state. I would argue, depending on what and how, it can be a mark of a just state as much as a mark of an unjust one.

    To the degree one desires private ownership of capital coupled with control from the state, the closer they come to the economical model of fascism.

    To the degree someone desires state ownership and control of capital they are communist.

    As someone pointed out above, it’s pretty funny hearing people being referred to as being infected by extreme liberal individualism in one breath and a fascist in another. However, assuming that model above a reasonably accurate way of viewing these things, one would one be inclined to consider a comparison between what many here advocate and what many over at another blog advocate and question who really have the fascist tendencies.

  • Joe,

    We cross posted and I saw you brought up the irony of the liberal > fascist thing. I was recalling it being said much earlier in the conversation, perhaps it was you who mentioned it earlier too. I was just too lazy to look it up to give credit. 😉

  • Phillip,

    Yes, he does supply an ample amount of comic relief. I especially enjoyed reading his rant on how evil Thanksgiving is.

  • It sounds like you have pre-decided to reject our arguments, as well as being “not worried” about us – so what exactly are you doing here?

    I came here to point out to Tito that his post is offensive. You are the ones who derailed the conversation by focusing on a peripheral comment in my post in which I referred to this blog’s “quasi-fascist tendencies.” I’m defending my use of that term to describe some of your contributors because you are the one’s “huffing and puffing” about it.

    BTW, Joe, I think I know which commenter you mean now. You’re right — I haven’t seen him haunting your blog for some time now. Maybe he is in the hospital recovering from a fight he got into? And you are right — the guy is a total fascist.

  • You pointed it out about 100 posts ago. You’re still here arguing with people whose views you supposedly don’t care about – why?

  • I came here to point out to Tito that his post is offensive.

    A claim that you’ve still never managed to back up with anything resembling an argument.

  • S.B. – If Tito posted something using “the N-word” would you demand an argument detailing why use of that word is offensive?

    Joe – Fantastic point! And since you people are still not interested in retracting a hurtful post and insist upon defending its appropriateness, it is clear to me that you deliberately choose to remain in dis-communion with your fellow humans. Hope you remember that before approaching the altar of God this weekend. See ya later!

  • We don’t think it was hurtful. We communicated that to you. I don’t see the problem.

    I mean, what are you saying here – that I ought to go to confession and say,

    “Bless me father, I have sinned – Michael Iafrate, the Catholic Anarchist, claimed that a post on the blog that I write for was offensive to rural poor people, and I failed to agree with him”


    Is that it?

  • Joe H.,

    Don’t forget to confess all the carbon dioxide you emitted from your person and lifestyle while you’re at it and ask for the intercession of Blessed Albert Gore of Tennessee.

  • If Tito posted something using “the N-word” would you demand an argument detailing why use of that word is offensive?

    If a fellow contributor posted something here which one of us actually thought was offensive, I don’t have any doubt that people would point it out. There’s a fairly diverse group of writers here and there seems to have been little fear of criticizing each other thus far.

    it is clear to me that you deliberately choose to remain in dis-communion with your fellow humans. Hope you remember that before approaching the altar of God this weekend.

    I guess I’m a bit confused by this. You were convinced that the video was offensive and others thought you were massively mis-interpreting the video. Who exactly does this put us in “dis-communion” with? You? The people you are convinced the video mocks (despite the fact we don’t think it mocks them)?

    I’ll admit, the idea that disagreeing with you on whether a humor video by and about rural red-staters is offensive somehow puts us in “dis-communion” in such a way as we should worry about when approaching the Eucharist strikes me as a bit odd — given that you’ve just spent several dozen comments calling your fellow Catholics fascists, and indeed have gone so far on occasion as to inform me that you do not belong to the same faith that I do.

    Is it the altar of Michael which we’re in discommunion with?

  • Its not the altar of Michael, but his version of Catholicism. I’ve come across it more and more of late in classes I’ve taken.

    Sadly, it really is a different faith.

  • I agree there are different faiths at work here. Very different. Different Gods. Different Christs. Different Spirits.

  • If Tito posted something using “the N-word” would you demand an argument detailing why use of that word is offensive?

    No, but that’s because the offensiveness would be obvious rather than completely of your own invention.

  • This, after MI and Professor Karlson railed against me for suggesting that certain people ought to leave the Church instead of trying to revolutionize it.

    I was called anti-Catholic, reckless, irresponsible, etc. And I didn’t even suggest they believed in a different Christ!

    I wonder if any of MI’s fellow Vox Novers will consider his comments here in the same way. Probably not.

  • I AM still curious why this example of redneck humor is offensive. Is Jeff Foxworthy equally offensive? What about Hee Haw? Beverly Hillbillies? Dukes of Hazard?

  • Joe – I’m not sure what is so controversial about the claim that many of us worship different Christs. I am accused of worshiping a “false” “politicized” Christ constantly by many of the folks here. How is that any different? And I never said you or anyone else ought to leave the Church.

  • Well let me say right now that anyone who says you worship a false Christ is probably wrong, and out of line.

    It may be that you selectively interpret Christ from one side, as some here might do from another. But a person would have to go as far as Hitler’s “Aryan Jesus” before I started accusing them of worshiping a different Christ, and I am fairly certain that no one here or at VN goes that far.

    But I will say that it probably follows from the worship of different Gods that there should be membership in different Churches.

  • Don’t you think there’s a major distinction between saying that someone has an incorrect understanding of Christ, or an incorrect understanding of the Church, and saying “we do not belong to the same Church” or “we do not worship the same God” or “we do not follow the same Christ”?

    One can use the turn of phrase loosely to mean that people have radically different understandings of Christ, but — given that what we actually mean is that there is one Christ, and people have understandings of Him which are, to varying degrees, correct — it seems to me that saying “we don’t worship the same Christ” seems like going down the road of, “I am a follower of Apollos”, “I of Paul”, “I of Michael.”

    And again, even if you do choose to go around talking about how we worship a different Christ than you do, it seems very odd to get all snippy after that an say that you hope we realize we’re approaching the altar in dis-communion. When you accuse others of not worshipping the same God, and not belonging to the same Church, the “how dare you be in dis-communion with me over YouTube” line of persuasion seems a little hollow.

    Myself, I certainly think that we belong to the same Church, receive the same Body of Christ and worship the same God — even though I do think that it is wrong (and suggests a somewhat mistaken understanding of Christ) when one dissents with Church teaching, as at times you have flirted with.

  • I didn’t say anything about us not belonging to the same Church. We obviously belong to the same Church.

  • If “we don’t worship the same Christ”, but we obviously belong to the same Church holds, then there’s definitely a problem regarding the understanding what the Church really is. It’s not a mere association like the Lions Club where membership is a thing of its own.

  • If “we don’t worship the same Christ”, but we obviously belong to the same Church holds, then there’s definitely a problem regarding the understanding what the Church really is.

    I would agree with that. We probably have very different ideas about what the Church really is, even though institutionally we belong to the same Church.

    Again, why is it controversial to point this out?

    II Corinthians 4:11, 14, “For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus, shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.”
    “We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.” (II Corinthians 4:18). How blessed to have grace to do this!
    There is no hope, no consolation in the things that are seen, the things we experience in this present world. They all remind us that we lie in the midst of death, and that “this life is nothing but a continual death.”
    But how different all these things become if we regard the things that are not seen, the things eternal! Then we look at the fact of Jesus, our Lord, in whose cross and resurrection we behold God’s way out of death into the glory of eternal life! And then all our present suffering and death are but ways of God unto that exceeding and eternal weight of glory!” Then “we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” (II Corinthians 4:16).
    For added comfort, read: II Corinthians 5:1-8.
    14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14, KJV).

    26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS (Luke 1:26-31, KJV).

    B. Mary was an example of holiness and virtue.

    She was highly favored.
    She was blessed among women.
    C. Mary was an example of faith in God.
    1 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word (Luke 1:38, KJV).
    14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren (Acts 1:14, KJV).
    D. Mary was an example of a suffering saint.
    19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered [them] in her heart (Luke 2:19, KJV)).
    25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.

    26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!
    27 Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home (John 19:25-27, KJV).
    E. Mary was saved by Grace through faith in her son and God’s Son.
    46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,
    47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour (Luke 1:46-47, KJV).
    44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:44, KJV).

    Mary is an example of faith and humility.
    Mary is an example of obedience.
    Mary is an example of holiness
    Mary is an example of perseverance
    JUDGING JESUS – Who He Really Is
    John 19:1-16 :
    By Rev Dr Gordon Moyes
    In our study of John’s Gospel, the last three weeks have seen us discuss different aspects of Pilate’s judgement of Jesus including his questions about truth in the light of the untrue accusations against him, and the way Pilate bowed to the pressure of the crowd. Tonight we consider Pilate judging Jesus. Jesus was brought to face judgement seven times. Before Annas and members of the Sanhedrin, the High Priest Caiaphas, Governor Pilate, King Herod, Pilate for a second time, and finally when Pilate brought Jesus before the people and pronounced to them that he found no basis for judging Jesus, the people rejected messiah and passed judgement on him. And Pilate, bowing to political pressure from the high priests and the will of the people, sentenced Jesus, a man whom he had just pronounced unworthy of death or any punishment, to death by crucifixion. There is new evidence concerning Pontius Pilate. The Australian historian Paul Barnett writes, “For an otherwise obscure governor of a minor province, with a small military command, Pontius Pilate is remarkably well attested in ancient sources”.
    Recently some coins Pilate had minted in 29 to 31AD have been found. They bear Roman religious symbols that the Jews despised. This caused a conflict between Pilate and the Jews. In 1961 two archaeologists excavating the Mediterranean port of Caesarea uncovered a two-by-three foot marble plaque with an inscription in Latin: “Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea, has presented the Tiberium to the Caesareans.” Here was historical proof of the existence of Pilate.
    Pilate is mentioned in the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, but also by Josephus the Jewish historian. Philo, the Greek-speaking philosopher in Egypt who describes “his venality, his violence, his thefts, his assaults, his abusive behaviour, his frequent executions of untried prisoners, and his endless savage ferocity.” Cornelius Tactitus, the greatest Roman historian said Pilate was a cruel and anti-Semitic governor. He provoked the Jews, defied their religious sensitivities and flouted the Roman convention of not causing trouble among conquered people. Pilate was head of the Province’s judicial system and taxation collection, paying funds for provincial needs, and forwarding the rest to Rome.
    Twice Pilate’s Jewish subjects exerted pressure upon him by threatening to complain to Rome about him. Philo says the Jews reported Pilate to Emperor Tiberius, who warned Pilate when Pilate violently squashed a demonstration at Mt Gerazim executing the ringleaders. Pilate was suspended and recalled to Rome in 37AD. He suicided in 39AD. Pilate was vacillating and uncertain due to the time of the trial of Jesus. Emperor Tiberias instituted a soft policy towards the Jews, following a period of anti-Semitism under his prefect Sejanus whom he executed. A decree went out from the Emperor that Governors should treat the Jews with fairness. Pilate’s behaviour towards the Jews changed dramatically. He now bent over backwards to appease them. The Sanhedrin knew that, and threatened Pilate “If you let this Jesus man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.” John 19:16
    During Passover, Jewish patriotism was at fever pitch. The governor was alert to suppress any sign of rebellion. Of the “many things” of which Jesus was accused before Pilate Mark 15:3 three are named: Lk 23:2 perverting the nation by exciting the crowds; forbidding giving of tribute to Caesar; claiming to be king. This accusation appears in all four gospels. Each repeats the word at least four times (John twelve times) in recounting Jesus’ trial and crucifixion. John says the accusers avowed their own exclusive loyalty to Caesar. John 19:12,15 The gospels depict Pilate as perplexed, uncertain, and anxious to shift the decision to others. He sends Jesus to Herod Antipas, Luke 23:6-13 who was visiting Jerusalem, but Herod had no jurisdiction there. Pilate then seeks to release Jesus instead of Barabbas, but is overruled by the clamour of the mob stirred up by the priests.
    So Pilate washes his hands, disclaiming any responsibility for Jesus death. Matt. 27:24 Pilate appeased the Jews to save his own hide. Three non-Christian writers mention Pilate’s role in the death of Jesus. The Roman historian Tacitus states Pilate had Jesus executed. The Jewish historian Josephus, adds Pilate did so upon Jesus’ being accused by prominent Jews of stirring up rebellion, although Jesus not involved in any political activity. But this was why the Romans executed him. Luke reported Luke 23:12 that after Jesus’ trial Pilate and Herod Antipas became friends. Only recently Herod too had executed someone very similar to Jesus, John the Baptist, whose teachings were so popular.
    The judgement area of the palace of the Roman Governor Pilate has been excavated and is known as Lithostrotos, or Gabbatha, the place of judgement. On the raised platform or bema stood the large judgement seat from which Roman justice was dispensed. Pilate was fetched from his slumbers as the first roosters crowed at the dawn of what was to be forever known as “Good Friday”. That night, Jesus was dragged through a series of illegal trials by the Jewish religious system. Annas, the godfather of an ecclesiastical dynasty, examined him in his house. Jesus was then dragged next door and before the current High Priest, the crafty Caiaphas, the son-in-law of Annas. His burial box for his bones, with his name upon it, was discovered four years ago. After being abused, Jesus was roughly taken to the chamber of The Sanhedrin, where a hastily assembled group, met illegally in a pre-dawn assembly. Caiaphas declared that it was essential for the sake of the nation that Jesus be put to death immediately. They did not need a fair trial. What they needed was a verdict! The Sanhedrin had no power to execute Jesus. So they sought the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate to grant execution quickly. They wanted the end before the people were aware what was happening. Jesus was dragged, still bound, from the Sanhedrin past the Temple area to the Tower of Antonia in the first light before sunrise. Pilate examined Jesus. He then sent Jesus back to the Jews declaring he could find no fault in Jesus, nothing worthy of death. But the Jews sent him back.
    They threatened that if Pilate did not find Jesus guilty and sentence Him to death, then the High Priests and Sanhedrin would themselves report Pilate to Rome as being indifferent to the threat of Roman security in the region. Pilate tried to release Jesus, as part of an amnesty granting a prisoner release each Passover. But the Jews would have no part of that. They would rather have a patriot, Jesus Barabbas, arrested for offences against the Romans, released instead of Jesus. Pilate’s wife urged him to release Jesus, as she dreamed of trouble if anything was done to Jesus. But faced with the blackmail of the scheming priests, he dismissed his wife’s fears and handed Jesus over to be crucified. The Governor had shown he wanted peace at any price. There on the Lithostrotos, the viceregal Pilate, clothed in his leather, purple robe and brass, faced his prisoner, whose hands were bound, his head and face bloodied, wearing only a seamless, homespun robe.
    Their eyes were steady for they each knew Pilate would deny justice rather than be questioned by his superiors from Rome. Truth, justice, integrity were being sacrificed for expediency and Pilate’s personal safety. Pilate asked: “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Does this question come from you or have others told you about me?” Pilate replied: “Do you think I am a Jew? It was your own people and chief priests who handed you over to me. What have you done?”. Jesus said: “My Kingdom does not belong to this world; if My Kingdom belonged to this world, My followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish authorities. No, my Kingdom does not belong here!”
    So Pilate asked him: “Are you a king then?”. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a King. I was born and came into the world for this one purpose, to speak about the truth. Whoever belongs to the truth listens to me.” “And what is truth?” Pilate asked. Without waiting for an answer, he walked out to the Jews and washed his hands of the whole matter. John 18:33-38 Jesus response and Pilate’s question are as valid today as at anytime in human history. Truth was integral to the nature and purpose of Jesus “I was born and came into the world for this one purpose, to speak about the truth. Whoever belongs to the truth listens to me.” Pilate was concerned for his own skin not for truth.
    Jesus was a person of integrity. He advocated living a life of truth. So His followers are committed to truth. Further His task was to speak about the truth. “…this one purpose, to speak about the truth.” No one ever accused Jesus of speaking a lie. But this means more: it means not only speaking the truth but speaking about the truth. Like Jesus, we should witness to God whose very nature is truth and to Jesus who said: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” Further still, His followers would listen to truth. “Whoever belongs to the truth listens to Me.” Jesus claimed that those who belonged to truth would listen to His word, and those who sought truth would ultimately find Him. Those who live by the values of this world sneer at the necessity of truth. “And what is truth?” they ask with Pilate. Their characters are untouched by truth. Their tasks do not take truth into account. Neither do they listen to truth.
    Christian people must choose to live a life of truth like that of Jesus, rather than a life of expediency like that of Pilate. How many people do you know who say one thing but when the test is on, vacillate and go the other way? How many people in our nation cannot be relied upon to stand up for what they know to be true? When the tough times comes, many melt into the crowd. In church and politics, at work and among friends, choose to be like Jesus and listen to truth and speak truth, stand up for truth and witness bravely. Compromisers and appeasers surround us and fill places of importance like Pilate. Regardless of the personal cost, stand up with Jesus who is truth and integrity.
    In all fields of life, men and women of integrity are required. Men and women who will listen to truth, speak truth and stand up for truth. In a morally corrupt and compromising world, Christians must stand incorruptible and uncompromising. Once the Prophet Amos, picture God holding a plumbline to measure people against its perfect line, to see if he could find a man who was straight and true. Amos 7 Once Pilate was to judge Jesus, but ever since, people have seen that against the straight and true character of Jesus, Pilate was found wanting. Two men were at the Judgement seat that day. But only one was judged! Do you ever judge Jesus? They who spend their time judging Jesus, find themselves, judged by Him and are found wanting!
    Today’s gospel lesson.
    Jaoh 2: 13. The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
    14. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers at their business.
    15. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all, with the sheep and oxen, out of the temple; and he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.
    16. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; you shall not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”
    17. His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for thy house will consume me.”
    18. The Jews then said to him, “What sign have you to show us for doing this?”
    19. Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
    20. The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?”
    21. But he spoke of the temple of his body.
    22. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.
    23. Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs which he did;
    24. but Jesus did not trust himself to them,
    25. because he knew all men and needed no one to bear witness of man; for he himself knew what was in man.

    What is in man that Jesus Knew?
    Pace and kindness,

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Advent and Anti-Christ, Part I

Sunday, November 29, AD 2009

Prior to his conversion to Catholicism, John Henry Cardinal Newman, soon to be Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman,  preached in 1835 a series of Advent Sermons on the Anti-Christ.  I have always found them extremely intriguing, and I am going to present them on each of the Sundays in Advent this year.

In this first sermon Newman gives us an overview of the Anti-Christ and the time of his appearance.  We see in this sermon Newman’s total command of history and how he uses this knowledge to draw out the implications of the few mentions of the Anti-Christ in Scripture.  Newman intellectually was always first and foremost a historian of the highest order and he puts this talent to good and instructive use in this sermon.  When Newman converted the Church gained one of the finest intellects of the Nineteenth Century or any century for that matter.  Much of Newman’s work concerned the working out of God’s plan for salvation through human history, and his examination of the Anti-Christ places that mysterious part of revelation into that plan.

“Let no man deceive you by any means:
for that Day shall not come,
except there come a falling away first,
and that man of sin be revealed,
the son of perdition.”

Continue reading...

21 Responses to Advent and Anti-Christ, Part I

  • How prescient Cardinal Newman was.

    Including Mohammad as a proto-Anti-Christ. Many have backed up Newmans assertion that heretical forms of Christianity such as Nestorianism contributed to the rise of Islam.

    Hilaire Belloc I believe (I don’t recall who exactly) called Islam another Christian heresy.

    How right he was!

  • You are right, Tito. Belloc said it in “The Great Heresies.”

  • Evil begets evil. But thanfully, God begets God, and what greater good is there than God?

  • I know we can’t know the timing of these things. I also know they will happen again and again with increasing frequency and severity until the final one; however, it sounds like the good cardical is talking of a conspiracy. Are we listening? Becuase it seems most people freak out and dismiss any time I hint of a conspiracy. Makes you think hmm.

    Could it be a liberal conspiracy? I am not referring to Demomcrat liberals or even Republican liberals, just liberal thought in general. Liberalism has some great aspects. I happen to like much of libertarian (the classical liberal) thought; however, liberal is also plagued with utility, permissiveness, license and radical individualism. Could this be the Devil taking us by the hand and making us his friends in our own undoing?

    Karl Marx certaintly thought so. He developed ideas, ideologies and an ‘economic’ theory that seek to do nothing other than totally destroy Western Civ. aka Rome aka Christendom. The tool he used to present his destructive agenda is Marxism/Communism and it’s newer forms of Critical Theory hidden away in liberalism, both the neo-con and the lefty-loony viriety.

  • Vince C.,

    I like the link in your name!

    I added it to our Catholic resources list.

    Keep up the great witness to our beautiful faith!

  • One point of clarification – John Henry Cardinal Newman is not yet identified as “Blessed” that is supposed to happen next year when the Holy Father visits England. Hopefully his canonization will follow sooner rather than later.

  • Let us pray for the conversion of the Antichrist, so that he, too, might enjoy the Beatific Vision and be an endless hymn of praise of God’s Mercy.

  • Thank you Dontex! I was gettting ahead of myself. It has been a long wait for we Newman devotees! I have amended the post.

  • The antichrist has always been at work ever since he decided to be greater than God. And his work is visible. Look at those that want anything that has to do with Christianity taken out, look at all the sexuality on TV, internet and so on. Look at sexual liberation men giving themselves to men, women to women “Because they gave up the natural order “ now where have I heard those words before; check out the driving force behind religions. Islam says that if one is not converted to Islam they need to be killed. Today the war is over oil, but after the crises is over, what reason will there be to go to war. I remember reading the story of the Jewish holocaust, and in a meeting of high ranking Nazi officials the final resolution was being discussed, and one general asked “ and after we do away with the Jewish people , who will be next “. After the oil war is over whom they will persecute.
    Read the story of Sodomma and Camorra why did God destroy them and see if those same reasons are not prevailing in our society today. Oh yes my dear brothers and sisters the anti-Christ is lose, angry and wild. He knows the day of the Lord is at hand. He also knows what awaits him.
    But fear you not because as the apostle said “IF I AM WIH THE LORD, WHAT EVIL CAN BEGET ME”
    Christ be with you all.

  • No Nick I’m afraid not! To pray for the conversion of the Antichrist would be in vain. He is confirmed in evil! It would be like trying to pray for the conversion of Satan and that you must know is impossible. The prince of Darkness is confirmed in Evil for all eternity.

  • I agree with Gabriel about Satan being confirmed evil for all eternity, though I am not sure if it is applicable to the anti-Christ.

    Satan, being created an angel by God has perfect knowledge. Angels are not human but are something akin to spiritual beings that had perfect intelligence. So when he consciously chose to oppose God it was final since in his own mind he thought better of himself instead of God.

    The anti-Christ will be a man, not an angle, so he (or she) will be imperfect, hence then he may still be able to repent.

    As Saint Theresa of Avila said, she still prays for Judas because we truly don’t know if he asked for forgiveness at the moment of his death.

  • Which antichrist? Nero, Mohammad, Marx, Hitler, or The Anti-Christ?

    I think many antichrists can repent but the final Anti-Christ, I am not so sure. He may be so closely tied to Satan that there is no hope for him. Isn’t he supposed to be slain and then rise again in mockery of Christ? If so, how is that possible unless Satan is completely animating and possesing him? If he is that given over to Satan I don’t think he can return to God, not that God wouldn’t have Mercy, but rather becuase the evil is so consuming that he wouldn’t consider surrender to God anything desireable.

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  • The Anti-Christ is Satan only in the form of a human being, just as Christ is God in a human form.
    Satan nor any of the fallen angels will be pardoned or can be pardoned for their sins and crimes, this is way they hate us humans so much cause we have the opportunity to repent they can’t and do not have the opportunity to repent. They knew and saw God as He is in all his glory.
    They literally saw and understood God but decided to go against him, freely and willingly.

  • Excellent point Rafael.

    Because they are angels they have perfect knowledge, hence they would choose not to repent if they were allowed to repent.

    I am not sure on this point, but the angels that followed Lucifer hated humans because God placed them above angels I believe.

  • I suppose it is possible that Anti-Christ is Satan but it is also possible that he is just another poor power-hungry, disobendient human given over to Satan through sin. Either way he is a problem and he loses.

    Tito, we are not above the angels. To my knowledge only one creature is above the angels and she is perfectly human, the Queen of men and angels, our Blessed Virgin Mary. The rest of us are lower than the angels and we are integrated with our bodies and struggle against our flesh. You are correct about the perfect knowledge of angels and their perfect and fixed free wills. Once an angel makes a choice it is eternally fixed. St. Michael will always serve God fully and Satan aka Lucifer will always be disobedient and he knows his time is short.

    I think Satan and the fallen angels (demons) rebelled against God not because He made us higher than angels but precisely becuase He made us lower than angels. I think when God showed them that He was taking human form, a lower form than an angel, their pride was bruised. The virtue opposite the vice of pride is humility. God humbled Himself to become a small, vulnerable, cold, poor, homeless baby. Satan went nuts and a third of heaven was cast out with him.

    Come Lord Jesus!

  • I see no evidence in Scripture that the anti-Christ will be an avatar of Satan.

  • No! I don’t believe the Antichrist is Satan himself. Satan also known as the dragon, the ancient serpent of old! Who gave his power, worldly glory, status to the beast, the Antichrist to make war with the saints and to conquer them and there was given to it (by Satan) power over every tribe and people and tonque and nation.
    And later, the beast or Antichrist was captured along with the false prophet who worked wonders to lead many astray and both were cast alive into the fiery lake of burning brimstone and also those that worshipped the image of the beast.
    Shortly after that St. Michael the archangel seized the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan and cast him into the bottomless pit.
    Since Satan is the prince of this world he can give his power and earthly glory to whom he likes!!!!

  • To read what the church teaches on the Antichrist go to click on encyclopedia click A find and click Antichrist.

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  • There is yet a better answer among the Fathers, in my opinion: that God, being life, imparts life to all he touches; and that by becoming man, he touched everlasting death, thereby transforming it into eternal life.

    I prefer this response because of its brevity, elegance, transcendence, and profound simplicity.

    But by all means, please do read St. Athanasius. He’s a top-notch theologian Saint by any standard.