John Adams and the Church of Rome

Thursday, October 15, AD 2009

John Adams, second President of these United States, was a man of very firm convictions.   Once he decided to support a cause, most notably American independence, nothing on this Earth could convince him to change his mind.  In regard to religion he was raised a Congregationalist.  Although described as a Unitarian, I find the evidence ambiguous in his writings and I suspect he remained at heart a fairly conventional Protestant.  As such he was unsympathetic to the Catholic faith by heredity, creed and conviction.  However, he did attend Mass on occasion, and his writings about these visits show attraction mixed with repulsion.

On October 9, 1774 Adams and George Washington attended a Catholic chapel in Philadelphia during the First Continental Congress.  He reported his thoughts about the visit to his wife and constant correspondent Abigail:

“This afternoon, led by Curiosity and good Company I strolled away to Mother Church, or rather Grandmother Church, I mean the Romish Chapel. Heard a good, short, moral Essay upon the Duty of Parents to their Children, founded in justice and Charity, to take care of their Interests temporal and spiritual.

This afternoon’s entertainment was to me most awful (Adams here means awe-inspiring and not the more colloquial use of the term common in our time.) and affecting. The poor wretches fingering their beads, chanting Latin, not a word of which they understood, their Pater Nosters and Ave Marias. Their holy water– their crossing themselves perpetually– their bowing to the name of Jesus wherever they hear it– their bowings, and kneelings, and genuflections before the altar. The dress of the priest was rich with lace– his pulpit was velvet and gold. The altar piece was very rich– little images and crucifixes about– wax candles lighted up. But how shall I describe the picture of our Saviour in a frame of marble over the altar, at full length, upon the cross in the agonies, and the blood dropping and streaming from his wounds.

The music consisting of an organ, and a Choir of singers, went all the afternoon, excepting sermon Time, and the Assembly chanted– most sweetly and exquisitely.

Here is everything which can lay hold of the eye, ear, and imagination. Everything which can charm and bewitch the simple and the ignorant. I wonder how Luther ever broke the spell.”

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18 Responses to John Adams and the Church of Rome

  • Good stuff. I’ve heard similar sentiments from traditional conservative Protestants. Pomp has its fans. I’d love to see a return of the high and low Mass distinction. The high being a High TLM and the low being a Novus Novus Ordo (guitars, drums, and hand holding).

  • That is a very sound proposal restrained radical.

  • Note to restrainedradical: NO need not be guitars, drums and hand holding. To the contrary, in my experience, that isn’t that case at all. The Holy Father celebrated the NO when visiting the U.S. – was that as irreverent as you suggest?

  • In his description of the aesthetics of the Mass, are we sure Adams is reacting positively? If he is a man of New England prejudices, such things, even if “affecting” and able to “charm and bewitch” are negative. With a low opinion of humanity, the fact that it amazes him that Luther could succeed in leading people away from Catholicism isn’t necessarily praise for the Church – after all, the people were bewitched!

    Additional information on Adams and Catholicism can be found here: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1990710/posts
    and here: http://blog.beliefnet.com/stevenwaldman/2008/04/was-john-adams-an-anticatholic.html.

    In both those cases, Steven Waldman sees in Adams’s letter about the Philadelphia Mass nothing but criticism. I confess to being unsure on the topic; I originally read it that way, but my understanding of the word “awful” was based on the current conventional usage.

    One comment that I thought Don might be sympathetic too, if it were applied to the post Vatican II current of thought in the order, is Adams’s assessment of the Jesuits: “This Society has been a greater Calamity to Mankind than the French Revolution or Napoleans Despotism or Ideology. It has obstructed the Progress of Reformation and the Improvements of the human Mind in Society much longer and more fatally.”

  • Adams was a cross-grained personality Zach. He normally phrased a compliment within a criticism. Something he disliked like the Catholic Church received the full brunt of this habit. As to his comment about the Jesuits, it reminds me that Jesuits were banned from Massachusetts under penalty of death in 1647. Ah for the halcyon days when enemies of the Church were the ones ladling harsh criticism upon the Jesuits.

  • “I wonder how Luther ever broke the spell.”

    Two words: Marty Haugen

    Of course it took a few centuries 🙂

  • Good stuff.

    In my opinion the NO (or Ordinary Form) can be celebrated reverently.

    But in my opinion because of the many NO Masses I have attended in my short life, I have never, ever seen a NO Mass done well or correctly. Until I came to the Anglican Use of the Latin Rite Mass and fell in love with this beautiful Liturgy.

  • Donald:

    This is the first time I’ve ever encountered such a relatively reverent portrayal of a vehemently anti-Catholic like Adams — and, quite ironically, from such a devout and respectable Catholic as yourself.

    While I myself may respect the man for his significance in our American history, other than that, I regard him with as much personal respect as I would a Cromwell or a Cranmer.

  • There’s a striking contrast in just a few of Adams’ paragraphs. First this:

    Here is everything which can lay hold of the eye, ear, and imagination. Everything which can charm and bewitch the simple and the ignorant.

    I doubt Adams considered himself simple and ignorant, but it sounds like he’s been charmed and bewitched a bit despite himself. Are only the simple and ignorant drawn to beauty?

    Before that, there’s this:

    But how shall I describe the picture of our Saviour in a frame of marble over the altar, at full length, upon the cross in the agonies, and the blood dropping and streaming from his wounds.

    He’s clearly disgusted by the crucifix. Not beautiful at all, in his eyes. I hear echoes of his horror in my Protestant New England mother’s thoughts about some of the more graphic imagery used by the Church.

    The beautiful and the grotesque together: Drawn to one and repulsed by the other, Adams doesn’t seem to be able to make sense of it…

    Nor does this guy:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/oct/14/relics-saint-therese

    Many are drawn, but the teaching is hard, and they walk away.

  • “Adams doesn’t seem to be able to make sense of it.”

    True and tragic.

    “This is the first time I’ve ever encountered such a relatively reverent portrayal of a vehemently anti-Catholic like Adams — and, quite ironically, from such a devout and respectable Catholic as yourself.”

    Truth to tell e. I feel sorry for Mr. Adams. He grew up in an intensely anti-Catholic environment. Unfortunately for him no Road to Damascus experience occurred to him. However, his comments indicate to me that, in spite of himself, he felt on some level an attraction to the Church. He reminds me of the rich young man who walked away from Jesus after the young man learned the cost of discipleship. To embrace the Faith for Adams would have meant turning his back on everything that mattered to him: his Protestant faith, his heritage, his family and his education. I can be sympathetic for someone like Mr. Adams who lacks the light that guides us, especially when the antipathy he felt towards the Church, as far as I know, never tainted his actions as a public official. Adams always stood foursquare for freedom of religion, and in this country that is all Catholics have ever asked.

  • Donald:

    Well, I am appreciative at least of how your entry provides us a somewhat refreshingly different perspective from which to view Adams’ anti-Catholicism, however distasteful I find the man to be personally. Objectively speaking, the man is a great historical figure; yet, on a more intimate note, there remains much to be desired upon closer inspection, particularly regarding one fierce prejudice of his which he could not help but be explicit.

  • I agree with Donald. Adams was a man of his times and place and Massachusetts in the 18th century was clearly not Catholic-friendly. I believe it was only a generation before Adams that religious freedom was actually enacted in Massachusetts, except for those of the “Popish” faith.

    It would be hard to describe Adams as a Unitarian, since the Unitarians were not established as a denomination until about 50 years after Adams death.

    I recently read a book about the role of Sundays in both Britain and New England, including the time of Adams. Strict sabbatarians pretty much ruled in New England in those days. Their expectation was that you attended church services on Sunday essentially all day, which featured a sermon by the preacher that would be at least an hour in length. Very dour, you didn’t dare nod off, no smiling allowed on Sunday at any time or anywhere. The “competition” so to speak for how Sunday should be lived was “the Continent,” where the Church of Rome essentially said “go to church for an hour or so and then relax.” There was great resistence to such a slack observance of the sabbath, but, over time, the Catholic approach prevailed. I suspect that some of Adams’ reaction is based on his experience and assumption of how Sunday “should” be observed.

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  • Trust me, John Adams was not at all attracted to Roman Catholicism. On the contrary he was repulsed, if fascinated, by its lack of attention to the First Commandment, and its prosaic and pedestrian, if spare, use of English.

    If Cathilocs are truly interested, they must study the Pilgrims, the Puritans and those who spent blood and treasure to come here to establish a new country and a new covenant in order precisely to avoid the synergy of Church and State that was extant in their native countries of Europe.

  • Actually Irish Catholics who emigrated to this country had more than enough of state enforced Protestantism, so we Catholics have little to learn from the Pilgrims and Puritans on that score. Incidentally, the Puritans had nothing against an established Church as long as they ran it, as the period of their rule in Massachusetts amply indicates. As for Mr. Adams, his diary entries and letters speak for themselves.

  • It is strange to me that you people can’t see what he was saying when he says “I wonder how Luther ever broke the spell”.

    He wonders, is amazed, that Luther was ABLE to.

    He contemplates the pomp and stage work, the “glamour” of the artifice, notes the ignorant simple peoples not even comprehending the language the chants are in, and is amazed that Luther was able to break the spells hold. Part of the amazement was obviously at Luthers toolset, bland un-glossy reason to combat the pomp, and yet, successful !. Hence his wonder.

    When he says “Here is everything which can lay hold of the eye, ear, and imagination. Everything which can charm and bewitch the simple and the ignorant”, he means to damn the churches use of pomp and trickery as propaganda to fool the gullible.

  • Thank you for your strenuous efforts in pointing out the obvious Apteryx. Perhaps you could also explain why he kept coming back time and again. The disdain is there, but also wonder at the beauty of it all. Unlike many people, internet atheists for example, Adams was able to contemplate that he might be wrong:

    “yet, perhaps, I was rash and unreasonable, and that it is as much virtue and wisdom in them to adore, as in me to detest and despise.”

Charles Carroll: Our Catholic Founding Father

Saturday, July 4, AD 2009

Charles Carroll of Carrollton was a delegate to the Continental Congress and later United States Senator for Maryland. He was also the only Catholic to have signed the The Declaration of Independence. One of the wealthiest men in the colonies, it is reported that — upon fixing his signature,

a member standing near observed, “There go a few millions,” and all admitted that few risked as much, in a material sense, than the wealthy Marylander.

(The Life of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, 1737-1832, by Kate Mason Rowland).

A new biography, American Cicero: The Life of Charles Carroll (Lives of the Founders) (ISI) will be published in February 2010. (Tip of the hat to Carl Olson). The author, Dr. Bradley J. Birzer, was recently interviewed by the Washington Times:

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Read The Declaration on the Fourth

Monday, June 29, AD 2009

In my family each year we have a group reading of the Declaration of Independence.  The kids enjoy it and so do Mom and Dad.  Each year I am struck by a timeless quality of the words. 

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

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41 Responses to Read The Declaration on the Fourth

  • For younger kids, try playing a video or recording of Schoolhouse Rock’s “No More Kings,” “Fireworks”, and “The Shot Heard ‘Round The World.” My daughter and I love these and to this day I sometimes catch myself humming these tunes.

    In fact it wasn’t until I listened to “Fireworks” with my daughter that I realized that five people worked on writing the Declaration (“And though some people tried to fight it,/A committee was formed to write it,/Benjamin Franklin, Philip Livingston, John Adams, Roger Sherman, Thomas Jefferson,/they got it done…)

  • A pure statement of Enlightenment era liberalism. Worship at its temple if you will!

  • Tony, that a total statist such as yourself would have little but scorn for the Declaration is of absolutely no surprise.

  • A pure statement of Enlightenment era liberalism. Worship at its temple if you will!

    We’ll be sure to pass that along to anyone tempted to worship the Declaration, rather than think about it and debate it as the posts suggests.

    Thank you for adding your characteristically thoughtful perspective on matters U.S. to this discussion.

  • “We Americans have a wonderful heritage..”

    You have a system of government than is no better or no worse than that of compatable countries. Get off the American exceptionalist hobby horse. And it most assuredly is an Enlightenment-era liberal dcoument — if that’s your cup of tea, fine, but stop pretending it is something else.

  • The idea Tony that men derive their rights from God is as old as civilization, as is the idea that governments that push their people too far leave them no choice but to revolt. To label these as solely the product of the Englightenment is to overrate the Enlightenment and to underrate the rest of recorded history. The American Revolution was a great reminder of first principles regarding government and individual liberty.

    Your lack of appreciation for the role of the American Revolution in ushering in the modern era of individual liberty is as unsurprising as it is ahistoric. When it comes to America you hate the country and the horse it rode in on. What else is new.

  • So what do you think MM believes: That humans are created unequal? That God doesn’t endow us with rights? That governments are better when they rule by dictat rather than by the consent of the governed?

  • “a total statist such as yourself..”

    Sorry, nice try, but my objection comes from the Catholic faith. As I grow older, I’m less drawn to Murray, and more to Schindler, when it comes to making peace with American liberalism. One major distinction is between the indidualism of liberalism and the person of Catholicism.

  • You have a system of government than is no better or no worse than that of compatable countries.

    Assuming that you mean “comparable”, it would probably be most helpful if you would list for everyone what you consider to be 5-10 comparable countries.

  • Man, this is torture – on the one hand we’re treated to yet another cliche trodden display from Tony, on the other hand this is one of the times that the cliche trodden response is half-right. Jefferson is actually an embodiment of the type of Enlightenment secular-left thinking that is problematic. The Declaration itself is less of a true ideological marker than a very good lawyer’s brief making the argument for rebellion. I am perhaps one of those that puts less stock into the document, but that said, it is one of Jefferson’s greatest accomplishments (that’s as much praise as you’ll ever get out of me for the man.)

  • I’ve a funny feeling that somebody who comes in here and denies the real presence would get a more sympathetic hearing than one who criticizes the American founding myth.

    Where do I “hate” the country? And how does one display emotion toward a geographic entity with administrative borders? Doesn’t make much sense.

    Let me repeat what I said – the American system is no better and no worse than countless other systems in the modern world. How is that “hate”? Its political system is in no way superior to (say) that of any European country today. And no, the world does not owe a debt to the US, except to the extent that all owe a debt (in one form or other) to Enlightenment-era liberalism (and as I said before, there are many benefits of this system, but also many problems).

    But you need to put the American exceptionalist mullarky to bed. God does not favor the USA in any special manner. The USA has no prophetic role in the world. Winthrop was wrong, and Reagan was wrong to invoke Withrop. This is Calvinist clap-trap, and shame on Catholics for swallowing it hook, line, and sinker.

    The only aspect that is 100 percent allied with Catholicism is the right to life. Aside from this, there is a wide chasm between the Church’s approach to freedom, and this definition of liberty. And the “pursuit of happiness” is directlty utilitarian — true freedom is marked by choosing good and avoiding evil. Don’t you see this “pursuit of happiness” utilitarianism leads to materialism, hedonism, a sexual free for all, divorce, abortion, gay marriage? This is what happens when you replace “happiness” with the “good”, when “individual” replaces “person”.

  • 5-10 comparable countries? That’s easy. UK, France, Germany, Ireland, Australia, Italy, Poland, Belgium, Austria, Netherlands, Norway, Iceland, New Zealand, Canada etc etc etc.

  • Which of these countries has a founding document based on the personalist philosophy of the Church?

  • And given that most of those are in the EU, how do you square their denial of a Christian heritage with America’s foundational sins?

  • Tony, but for the United States of America, you would now be penning hymns of praise to the latest successor of Hitler or Stalin, or be in a concentration camp or a gulag. As for the hatred you feel for America, anyone who has any knowledge of your body of work on the net would be left in no doubt as to the extreme contempt you feel for this nation in which you make your living.

  • I’ve a funny feeling that somebody who comes in here and denies the real presence would get a more sympathetic hearing than one who criticizes the American founding myth.

    Um….what? I think it’s fine to criticize the Declaration of Independence and American exceptionalism. I’ll do so myself in various contexts. It is your tendency to caricature and misrepresent others I find wearisome (e.g. worshiping the Declaration above). As to the real presence, I have no idea what you’re talking about. Was there a thread I missed?

  • Which of these countries has a founding document based on the personalist philosophy of the Church?

    None, which is really my point. Donald keeps trying to pin me as somebody who “hates” America. That makes no sense. It’s perfectly fine to work with this system of government, and direct it toward the common good. It has some virtues, and some problems. I could say the same with most systems of government. But must still note the flawed anthropology, and we must desist from assuming it is the greatest system in history.

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  • It’s perfectly fine to work with this system of government, and direct it toward the common good. It has some virtues, and some problems. I could say the same with most systems of government. But must still note the flawed anthropology, and we must desist from assuming it is the greatest system in history.

    Why can’t a Catholic believe it is the best system in history (or the worst except compared to all the others, if you prefer)? It’s a matter of opinion, not doctrine. I’m fairly ambivalent about the matter, but I don’t see why someone couldn’t take a position. Enlightenment anthropology may be flawed, but it doesn’t follow that the Declaration can’t be interpreted in a Catholic manner or that the U.S. government in practice is worse (or better) than Ireland’s for example.

  • “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

    What here is inconsistent with a Catholic anthropology?

  • I’ve a funny feeling that somebody who comes in here and denies the real presence would get a more sympathetic hearing than one who criticizes the American founding myth.

    This is an odd sort of thing to do: Assume that someone would do something that you don’t like, and then blame them for it. And silence in the face of heresy is an odd thing to accuse the authors of this blog of, when it’s been observed on several occasions that on your own blog there tends to be deafening silence when people show up and dissent from Catholic teaching, so long as they do so from a cultural leftist point of view.

    5-10 comparable countries? That’s easy. UK, France, Germany, Ireland, Australia, Italy, Poland, Belgium, Austria, Netherlands, Norway, Iceland, New Zealand, Canada etc etc etc.

    So you’d say that it’s in no sense better or worse that the UK has a state church (which is, from a Catholic point of view, schismatic and heretical) of which it’s monarch is the head?

    And you would certainly not consider the lack of a guarantee of free exercise of religion in France, where public signs of religion are banned and many church’s remain state owned, is no more or less preferable to the US approach?

    Etc, etc?

    Look, the US is certainly not perfect or chosen by God any such silliness, but that doesn’t mean that its differences from other nations are a matter of complete indifference either.

    Given that these countries all have different constitutions and structures of government, if you really think there is absolutely nothing to choose between them then you must think that the differences have no value. Thus, for instance, despite all your talk, about health care it must be a matter of total indifference whether one has an approach such as that of the US or one like the UK or France.

    Sheesh… A little precision of expression please.

  • MM,

    Let’s take it point by point. Let’s start here:

    “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certian unalienable rights…”

    “The ultimate source of human rights is not found in the mere will of human beings[307], in the reality of the State, in public powers, but in man himself and in God his Creator. These rights are “universal, inviolable, inalienable”[308]. Universal because they are present in all human beings, without exception of time, place or subject. Inviolable insofar as “they are inherent in the human person and in human dignity”[309] and because “it would be vain to proclaim rights, if at the same time everything were not done to ensure the duty of respecting them by all people, everywhere, and for all people”[310]. Inalienable insofar as “no one can legitimately deprive another person, whoever they may be, of these rights, since this would do violence to their nature”[311].” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church 153)

  • And then this:

    “…Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers, from the consent of the governed…”

    “395. The subject of political authority is the people considered in its entirety as those who have sovereignty. In various forms, this people transfers the exercise of sovereignty to those whom it freely elects as its representatives, but it preserves the prerogative to assert this sovereignty in evaluating the work of those charged with governing and also in replacing them when they do not fulfil their functions satisfactorily. Although this right is operative in every State and in every kind of political regime, a democratic form of government, due to its procedures for verification, allows and guarantees its fullest application.[803]” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church)

  • And this:

    “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

    “401. …Recourse to arms is seen as an extreme remedy for putting an end to a “manifest, long-standing tyranny which would do great damage to fundamental personal rights and dangerous harm to the common good of the country”.[825]” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church)

  • Really it seems the Declaration is in accord with the Church’s Social teaching.

  • Bravo Phillip! This type of thought and debate about the Declaration was precisely what this post was intended to inspire!

  • Phillip, do you see the core difference between the “person” of Catholic social teaching and the “individual” of liberalism?

  • These words are now forgotten, the country is nothing more than a dish served only to rich corporates. I hope one day people do start to act on these words. but now the government is just destroying American people. See: http://eventsoftheworld.wordpress.com/2009/06/12/american-economy-a-highway-robbery/

  • Phillip, do you see the core difference between the “person” of Catholic social teaching and the “individual” of liberalism?

    Why don’t you try explaining it instead of making snippy comments that evade the core of the argument.

  • Actually I would copy from Maritain’s analysis that I read a year ago and don’t recall from memory but I don’t have the book in front of me. Essentially my thoughts are as follows.

    Jacques Maritain sought to reestablish the understanding of the human person as a unity of body (matter) and soul (spirit.) Through this unity, a realist view of epistemology is again possible. For it is through sense experience provided by the body and the action of the rational soul upon this sense data that one knows the world. One realizes a world that has being independent of one’s own thoughts or will. It is not my ideas that form the world but rather real, existing objects that have being that inform my thoughts. We in turn can reflect upon ourselves and be aware of our own being. From this we can also see that we along with others around us come into and in turn pass out of being. From this one comes to realize one’s own being as well as that of others is limited and contingent in nature.
    Given this contingency, there comes the realization that there is necessarily a Being that is not limited or contingent. This Being which transcends the world, calls all contingent beings into existence. This Being as a result is not of the world and in turns orders it to an end that is transcendent – unlimited Being itself. This knowledge is not the result of complicated philosophical development however, but rather the result of the intuition of true reason open to all men. Thus apart from Hobbes, Maritain maintains there is the reality of the spiritual. At the same time as opposed to Kant, this immaterial reality is discernable by human reason that calls us to an order that transcends our reason and ourselves. Thus for Maritain metaphysics is possible and necessary for a true understanding of what it is to be man.
    Man’s reason is not capable of discerning all truth due to the limits of human reason. Natural reason cannot attain to the fullness of supernatural truth. Thus reason must receive Revelation to complete its understanding of Truth. This openness to Revelation does not deny or destroy reason however, but raises it above what it can achieve alone and perfects it. It is through Revelation then, they we come to see that this Being is not merely a transcendent, self-thinking spirit, but rather a living, tri-personal God. As such, this God is a community of perfect persons in perfect communion with the other. As pure persons in perfect act there is no individuality or sense of part for the good of all is the good of each person. This good is the Divine Essence of Divinity co-equal in each person.
    Man as created by the Triune God necessarily reflects this triune nature. As created being, human nature is not the same as God’s and can only analogically be spoken of in reference to the Divine Essence. What then is man? Maritain distinguishes between the human being as an individual and as a person. Human beings are individuals in that they are individuated in matter. But this individuation does not define the person as an individual is incapable of fully developing his self in solitude. Rather, as a reflection of the Divine Persons, the human person is ordered to others in his very nature. For God as triune persons is not pure self-reflective thought but is necessarily giving in His Being and in calling others into being through the creative act. God, who is self-knowledge and self-gift, in turn becomes the image of our nature which is called to knowledge and gift. Also by our relatedness to God as first cause and final end of our being is the source of the dignity of the person. This is an end which is not temporal nor material but eternal and spiritual.
    Thus the person is a subject with the dignity of a transcendent destiny. But while this destiny is supernatural, it does not detach oneself from this world. In both the material and the spiritual order human beings are called to participate in the common good. In virtue of their individuality, humans are part of and have obligations to the social order. But in virtue of the supernatural end to which they are called, persons cannot be reduced to a simple part of that order. At the same time, man’s realization of his personality leads him to fulfill this in gift of self – a gift that works to true justice out of love in the social order. This proceeds from a respect for true reason and thus the legitimate autonomy of the secular sphere. True advances in science, social rights, etc are respected as is the legitimate use of reason to determine the proper means of ordering the social order in accord with the good. Through this truly autonomous secular reason informed by transcendent truth, it is possible to create a society that is “truly human and progressive.” This is fully realized through the ordering of society to promote the supernatural end of the persons comprising it. This is thus Maritain’s vision of a true and integral humanism in which man, cognizant of his dignity and true end, embraces what is truly good in human reason and self-giving for the good of all.

    Thoughts?

  • Also,

    Why don’t you acknowledge that the principles in the Declaration are consistent with Catholic thought. A tremendous accomplishment considering it was written almost a hundred years before the first social encyclical. An exceptional accomplishment one might say. Given the circumstances, with multiple different policital forces at play among the 13 colonies, it is also quite amazing that the group of men involved could have come up with it. One might say it was almost Providential.

  • OK, here’s the one-line version. The “individual” is sovereign — in other words, he has the right to do as he wishes as long as he does not trample on the toes of another. The “person” is only defined in the sense of a relationship to others — this is a Trinitarian anthropology. Here’s the longer version, from one of my co-bloggers: http://vox-nova.com/2008/03/11/person-vs-individual/

    To take a somewhat different context that makes the same point, the Catholic perspective is not so much “I think, therefore I am”, but “I am thought of, therefore I am”.

  • As my discussion of the person notes in its Trinitarian foundation. So how is Enlightenment individualism expressed in the principles as stated in the Declaration? And you haven’t answered the question if the principles of the Declaration are consistent with Catholic Social thought.

  • To take a somewhat different context that makes the same point, the Catholic perspective is not so much “I think, therefore I am”, but “I am thought of, therefore I am”.

    Actually, I don’t think that’s the case at all, at least not in the stark terms that you’ve put it. The fact that persons exist in relationship does not mean that they are defined by being perceived by others.

    “I am thought of, therefore I am,” would suggest that the person does not have objective existence and nature.

  • Phillip, do you see the core difference between the “person” of Catholic social teaching and the “individual” of liberalism?

    The question you should ask of yourself MM is, can a thing be objectively good or just or in supportive of the dignity of the person regardless of whether the people who instituted it had an erroneous worldview? Can someone attempt to come from the right place and end up with a wrong or bad idea?

    I’ll make a hypothetical here. If someone is against abortion and works to end it because he thinks the moon god is offended by the practice, is his desired outcome less preferable to a Catholic who thinks abortion is a matter of women’s liberation, reproductive freedom, or subsidiarity in action?

    Point is, if the Angelic Doctor penned those words from the DoI you’d probably have no problem with them.

  • The “individual” is sovereign — in other words, he has the right to do as he wishes as long as he does not trample on the toes of another. The “person” is only defined in the sense of a relationship to others — this is a Trinitarian anthropology.

    So Robinson Crusoe isn’t a “person”? Or what?

    It’s still perfectly mysterious what political implications you think you can draw from this purported distinction, and why.

  • I would say he is a person if only in his relationship with God. Just as a hermit is. The point is that there are no real, solitary individuals. Such a concept only exists in philosophy. Rather everyone is a individual person that as called to relationship with others. Such Enlightenment philosophies that argued there are radical individuals may have had some impact on the Founding Fathers but the extent is still unclear and far from making definitive pronouncements about the impurity of the Declaration and other founding documents.

    Rather the Declaration and other such documents are in part idealistic and in part practical. The practical reality that all persons are individual persons is encompassed in the thought of the Declaration and is again consistent with Catholic thought.

  • Again from the Compendium. Note that the Church teaches that the person finds purpose at the individual and social level. Any philosophy that does not take this into account is flawed from a Catholic perspective.

    “384. The human person is the foundation and purpose of political life.[775] Endowed with a rational nature, the human person is responsible for his own choices and able to pursue projects that give meaning to life at the individual and social level. Being open both to the Transcendent and to others is his characteristic and distinguishing trait. Only in relation to the Transcendent and to others does the human person reach the total and complete fulfilment of himself. This means that for the human person, a naturally social and political being, “social life is not something added on” [776] but is part of an essential and indelible dimension.”

  • By the way, MM, nice jaw-dropper over on Vox Nova. I mean, how did you not think of the fact that teenage birthrates are inversely related to abortion rates? That is, Obama-voting states have more abortion, which is why their teenage birthrates are lower. For evidence, see http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/06/pro-life-states-have-lower-abortion.html

    Congrats on that.

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  • MM, I’m surprised that you haven’t at least changed the graphic after the obvious has been pointed out . . . not that I expect you ever to correct an intellectual error, but you do occasionally try to keep up the pretense of being against abortion, a pretense that is utterly belied by ridiculing “red states” for having less abortion.

23 Responses to Flag Day

  • No, today we Catholics are celebrating the Feast of Corpus Christi, Christopher, not “Flag Day.”

  • $gt$lt))&gt ~J

    This one work?

  • Sheesh, Michael. Didn’t you notice that Chris himself put up a Corpus Christi post earlier today?

    Most of us are capable of noting more than one thing a day.

  • Which, by the way, is one Corpus Christi post more than michael or anyone else at Vox Nova has written.

  • Like the kid said to Geena Davis’ character in League of Their Own, “Can’t we do both?”

  • Heather – Nope. Jesus said we can’t serve two masters. Remember?

  • S.B.

    Very good observation. I would appear that Iafrate is defined more by the rejection of one master rather than the embrace of another master.

  • Observing a holiday /= “serving a master.”

  • I would appear that Iafrate is defined more by the rejection of one master rather than the embrace of another master.

    You have no basis on which to make a “point” like this.

  • You have no basis on which to make a “point” like this.

    If I were to guess, I’d say that basis would be that you spend a lot more time behaving in an un-Christian fashion towards those you think are too “nationalistic” than you do writing anything that suggests much positive attachment to Catholicism.

    That certainly doesn’t mean this impression is accurate. Many people use the internet simply as a place to blow off and thus put only their less likable characteristics on view there. However, I can at least see how someone would come to that conclusion given the comments you generally make here.

    Food for thought…

  • If I were to guess, I’d say that basis would be that you spend a lot more time behaving in an un-Christian fashion towards those you think are too “nationalistic” than you do writing anything that suggests much positive attachment to Catholicism.

    If one of the main concerns that I express on your blog and elsewhere is the PROFOUND misunderstanding of Catholicism such that these syncretistic displays of patriotic Christianity become uncritically routine, then it is not very surprising that you (and whoever else) might consider my views and approach to be “un-Christian.”

    We simply don’t agree on what Christianity even is. Food for thought…

  • Actually, I was referring to the manner of your comments more than the content. You’re often quite rude and dismissive to other people, and are much more quick to characterize and denounce than to explain or persuade.

    I must assume that we do in fact agree on what Christianity is — we both profess the same Nicean creed and adore and receive the same Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist. We are members of the same Body of Christ, follow the same earthly shepherd of the Church, worship at the same liturgy, and profess assent to the same Scriptures and Traditions.

    So it would seem to me pretty clear that you and I and all of those who write here do agree at root on what Christianity is — which is why people are put off and perplexed by your frequent characterizations of others as not really being Catholic; being syncretists; worshipping war and mammon, etc.

  • So apparently Christianity consists of dissent from moral teachings that the Church has put beyond dispute for thousands of years, while engaging in unremitting intellectual pride and outrage over faux “sins” against much more hesitant, prudential, and occasional teachings about economics (teachings that, when read out of context and exaggerated beyond all recognition, are taken to imply a firm stamp of condemnation on everything that can be called “capitalist”).

  • Darwin – Despite appearances, you and I do not agree on what Christianity is.

  • Darwin:

    For once, I’m inclined to agree with your interlocutor. I’ll even go so far as to disagree with your brotherly attempt to find common ground on the Nicene Creed.

    The two of you may recite the same Creed on Sundays, but there’s no reason to think you attach the same meanings to all the words.

  • Yeah, I guess you two are right.

    I guess this way I can at least not have concience pangs that I should step in when I see someone assailing Michael as not really being Catholic.

  • I was at a conference this weekend. A video was shown of a Richard Rohr lecture. A lot of individuals were taken in with him and his view of Catholicism. I think this is a similar case where people’s perception of what Catholicism is are quite different. Rohr and his like are on a very different wavelength.

  • You have no basis on which to make a “point” like this.

    Presumably, you mean other than your name? You freely call yourself the Catholic Anarchist. Anarchy is a rejection, an “anti” rather than a “pro,” in this case anti-government rather than pro-anything. Your Catholicism merely modifies your anarchy (hence Catholic Anarchy).

    Having read a lot of your stuff, I think it’s safe to say I very rarely if ever read anything other than you tearing something down rather than trying to propose something new, something Catholic. Indeed, you’re more focused on attacking America than promoting an alternative Catholic identity.

    Before you jump down my throat for this, allow me to point something out. SB noted that you had never posted about Corpus Christi. This is excusable; one doesn’t have to post about all the feasts. However, you constantly berate Memorial Day as a pagan alternative to All Saints Day. Yet in all your years of blogging you have not once recognized All Saints day but you post faithfully on Memorial Day. Is is that unreasonable to think that you are more concerned in truth with attacking Memorial Day with promoting All Saints Day?

    While I have no doubt that you are trying to live a Catholic life, you have allowed a small tenet of Catholicism to consume it at the very least in your blogging.

    As a result, as Darwin said, you are extraordinarily abrasive in conversations and the good parts of your message (and yes I do think you make good points sometimes, like protesting flags in the sanctuary which I initially disagreed with you on) are lost in the static.

  • Presumably, you mean other than your name? You freely call yourself the Catholic Anarchist. Anarchy is a rejection, an “anti” rather than a “pro,” in this case anti-government rather than pro-anything. Your Catholicism merely modifies your anarchy (hence Catholic Anarchy).

    I actually do not call myself “the Catholic Anarchist.” Donald calls me that. Not sure how you manage to mix the two of us up. I go by my real name.

    My website is indeed called “Catholic Anarchy,” but it’s certainly not intended to mean that “Catholic” modifies “Anarchy.” I actually thought about this for a while, as I imagined that objection would be raised. But when it came down to the sound of the name of the blog, “Catholic Anarchy” had a better ring than “Anarchist Catholic.” If I had to do it over again, maybe “Anarcho-Catholic” would have been a better choice.

    Anyway, your charge that I hold anarchism above Catholicism really holds no water. I think I have been quite clear on my blog what I mean by anarchism and why I use the term. (See the “about” page and the quote from Servant of God Dorothy Day on her use of the word “anarchism” to describe the Catholic Worker. But should you be interested in asking me questions on any positions I hold in order to “test” whether I am more of an anarchist or more of a Catholic, I’m game. I just won’t do it here in the comment box of this particular blog, as you are pushing me into some more personal territory regarding my faith. But you know my email address by now. By all means.

    Having read a lot of your stuff, I think it’s safe to say I very rarely if ever read anything other than you tearing something down rather than trying to propose something new, something Catholic. Indeed, you’re more focused on attacking America than promoting an alternative Catholic identity.

    What I propose as an alternative to americanist values is precisely historical Catholicism. The concerns I have in the blogging world are pretty specific, yes, and I am very interested in helping to expose the heresy of american patriotism. I see how you would consider that “negative.” But from my perspective, and from the perspective of Catholic and secular radicalism, “tearing down” is not negative but positive. Consider, from your own perspective, whether you would consider “tearing down” the abortion industry to be a “positive” or a “negative” thing. Maybe you’ll see what I mean.

    However, you constantly berate Memorial Day as a pagan alternative to All Saints Day. Yet in all your years of blogging you have not once recognized All Saints day but you post faithfully on Memorial Day. Is is that unreasonable to think that you are more concerned in truth with attacking Memorial Day with promoting All Saints Day?

    Again, I don’t see these things as being in conflict. My criticism of Memorial Day (which is hardly “constant,” but simply annual) is a way of shedding light on the meaning of All Saints Day. In other words, I do not “attack” Memorial Day for no reason, but to point out the meaning of Christian feasts which we simply take for granted, not fully understanding the socio-political dimension of what we are celebrating.

    While I have no doubt that you are trying to live a Catholic life, you have allowed a small tenet of Catholicism to consume it at the very least in your blogging.

    Which tenet?

    As a result, as Darwin said, you are extraordinarily abrasive in conversations and the good parts of your message (and yes I do think you make good points sometimes, like protesting flags in the sanctuary which I initially disagreed with you on) are lost in the static.

    This is a fair critique. I realize that being abrasive turns some folks off. I would choose a different tone depending on the kind of writing I am doing. Some of my influences (both theological and political) are awfully abrasive and catch similar criticism. That’s fine. I know that, in my experience, sometimes hearing a critical point of view from an “abrasive” source was just the wake-up call that I needed. But it doesn’t work for everyone, and I recognize and am fine with that.

  • Michael Iafrate, I think you have patriotism muddled with nationalism. Admittedly, so do many others, but I think your opposition to nationalism would work better if you tried to separate it from patriotism (which is encouraged by the Church, rather than nationalism, which is condemned).

  • John – Of course I realize that patriotism vs. nationalism is an important distinction. But on the contrary, I don’t think I’m the one mixing up the two. Most americans think they are “just” being patriotic, but they are in fact nationalistic.

    Yes, the Church encourages patriotism. But the patriotism encouraged by the Church need not be linked to the nation-state form, as that has only been in existence for a few centuries. I am all for being authentically patriotic, but not linking it to the nation-state. This is why I can proudly identify as Appalachian.

    I blogged about this a couple times at Vox Nova: the idea of an authentically Catholic patriotism that resists the nation-state form.

Propaganda

Sunday, April 5, AD 2009

Various sides of our modern political spectrum often thrown around the term “propaganda”. I’ve had it explained to me by those on both the far left and far right that our news media is nothing but propaganda. In the process, we perhaps forget what real propaganda looks like. While looking up vintage Donald Duck cartoons for the kids, I ran across this little gem about the importance of paying your taxes. (The IRS did not yet have the power to do withholding during WW2, and so government revenues relied upon people actually handing over money to the government at intervals through the year.)

Of course, this is incredibly mild compared to the propaganda put out by communist and fascist regimes during the 30s and 40s. But next time someone tells you that the Bush era was dominated by knee jerk patriotism and propaganda, consider the FDR era by comparison.

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17 Responses to Propaganda

  • Save for Texas!

    I know, Donald Duck said save for taxes.

    There is a stark difference between what ‘W’ was accussed of doing and what real propaganda looks like (albeit a mild form).

  • Remember, Papa Stalin with his Gremlins from the Kremlin will beat Hitler to a pulp!

  • Ah yes, that was a classic. My daughters went around singing, “We are Russian gremlins,” for days after seeing that one.

  • There is a stark difference between what ‘W’ was accussed of doing and what real propaganda looks like (albeit a mild form).

    Tito, can you explain what the difference is, precisely? And I mean YOU, not you waiting around for someone else to explain it and then you saying “what he said.”

  • When the vast majority of [congressional] democrats voted for the war [in Iraq] with the same information that Bush received from intelligence [reports].

    Then after the fact these same democrats claim they were hoodwinked, even though they received the same intelligence [reports].

    What he will say.

  • Michael I.

    The Iraq war.

    What he will say.

  • How I wish everyone still had to save up the money for their taxes as the self employed do. Yesterday I had the annual ritual of sending off a rather large lump sum check to the IRS after spending most of the day preparing my tax returns and wrestling with fairly arcane provisions in the tax code. A pleasant way to spend the day, right up there with root canal work. Of course this goes hand in hand with my long expressed desire that election day be held on April 15. With Congress having just passed a 3.5 trillion dollar budget, I imagine quite a few Americans will be having a much closer relationship with the IRS as taxes go through the roof eventually to pay for this folly. I can imagine the type of Donald Duck cartoons Walt the conservative would be making now if he was still with us!

  • Withholding is doubtless the most insidious tool for growing government ever devised.

  • I’d rank withholding a distant second to Communist revolutions myself, but I agree it’s insidious.

  • And I guess the divine right of kings was pretty good in its day too, eh?

    Perhaps I can reformulate: the most insidious tool for the growth of government which has ever been implemented in our country.

  • Tito, once more: can you explain what the difference is, precisely?

  • Michael,

    I don’t see that Tito owes you an explanation of how there is an order of magnitude difference between New Deal and WW2 era propaganda and anything that the recent Bush administration did. It’s a fairly obvious claim.

    If you want one or two examples, however:

    As during WW1, the government very explicitly told the entertainment industry what was expected of it, and made it clear there would be consequences if the proper message was not put out. No such thing happened during the last eight years.

    Again as in WW1, WW2 propaganda relied heavily upon negative stereotypes (the Jap, the Hun) which were applied with a broad brush. This was in keeping with the idea of total war in which civilian activities and industrial work were seen as being just as much a part of the war effort and fighting. By contract, in the Iraq and Afghan wars the government constantly made it clear that our issue was not with Iraqis and Afghans in general, or Arabs in general, or Muslims in general. Some of the more feisty right wing figures complained extensively about how many times Bush referred to Islam as “a religion of peace”. This is not to say that no one used distancing stereotypes, it’s a very natural reaction during war to characterize the other, but there was a huge difference in the sort of tone which the government and entertainment establishment tried to put out compared to during the Great War and WW2.

    Overall, I think those differences are positive.

  • Ah, now, let me guess… Tito will chime in, saying “what he said.”

    I think you over-emphasize the differences. The u.s. dove into a pattern of propagandizing during the world wars, one that has continued ever since, up to and including the Obama administration. I think emphasizing the Bush administration’s use of propaganda, too, over other uses of propaganda since WWII (Clinton’s constant invocation of the black, single, lazy, welfare-receiving mother image, for example) is a bad move as well. But there is no doubt that the Bush administration has used propaganda and lies. u.s. propaganda has become more subtle, and no longer requires direct orders from Washington to Hollywood, but the propaganda is just as real and just as deadly.

Father of the United States Navy

Wednesday, March 25, AD 2009

john_barry_by_gilbert_stuart

1745 was a busy year in the history of the misnamed British Isles, with Bonnie Prince Charlie doing his best to end the reign of the Hanover Dynasty in England, so I guess it is excusable that no note was taken of the birth date of John Barry in Tacumshane, County Wexford, Ireland.  During his childhood John received, along with all the other excellent reasons given to Irish Catholics over the centuries to love Britannia, good reason to look askance at the British when his father was evicted from his poor little farm by their British landlord, and the family went to live in the village of Rosslare.

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3 Responses to Father of the United States Navy

Mitsuo Fuchida: "From Pearl Harbor to Calvary"

Sunday, December 7, AD 2008

As Donald notes, today is “the day that will live in infamy” — the anniversary of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.

When I was young, I learned of the story of Captain Mitsuo Fuchida of the Imperial Japanese Navy, famous for leading the first wave of the attack on that fateful day of December 7, 1941. Wounded in the battle of Midway, he spent the rest of his life as staff officer, and was actually in Hiroshima only a day before the bombing (he was saved by a call from Headquarters asking him to return to Tokyo).

What is particularly fascinating about his life, however, is what happened after the war:

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23 Responses to Mitsuo Fuchida: "From Pearl Harbor to Calvary"

  • A powerful story. I enjoy reading conversion stories and this one doesn’t fail.

  • I had heard of the Fuchida conversion before. Truly remarkable. A testament to the power of faith. Most Japanese after the war were astonished at how well-behaved and friendly the great majority of the American occupation troops were. They had been told that Marines had to kill a parent before being allowed to join the Corps and that they ate dead Japanese! On the other hand most Americans were surprised at how much they liked the average Japanese after they got to know them. More than a few Japanese war brides came back with American troops after the war, some starting families in Paris, Illinois, my home town.

  • And yet how many of you would still defend the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Not to mention the bombs he have dropped repeatedly on Iraq?

  • And Catholic Anarchist how would you post comments in freedom if braver and better men than yourself hadn’t fought to give you freedom? Your ingratitude is as selfish as it is predictable. You inhabit your comfortable leftist bubble of an existence only because a high price has been paid in blood to give you freedom as a completely unearned gift. That you spit in the face of these men says everything about you and nothing about them.

  • The bravery of soldiers is irrelevant to the concern that I raised.

    Freedom is from God, not from warmaking. Your god is an idol.

    And you didn’t answer my question.

  • Freedom Catholic Anarchist, like life, comes to us from God through human instrumentalities. Men can fight to defend freedom just as they can fight to take freedom. Women can give life through birth or take life, for the moment due to politicians like the one you voted for for President in the last election, through abortion. Your statement is factually incorrect, just like your theology as to war.

  • You didn’t answer my question. Does your religion allow you to challenge your country’s foundational acts of violence? Or does a sacred silence surround them?

  • “Does your religion allow you to challenge your country’s foundational acts of violence? Or does a sacred silence surround them?”

    The Catholic Church condemned American victory in the Revolutionary War? The things you learn on the internet! I view American military operations Catholic Anarchist as I would any military operation: to be lauded or condemned based upon the circumstances of the event. Good actions taken of course in a bad cause do not transform the cause into a good cause, just as bad actions taken in a good cause do not transform the good cause into a bad cause. An SS unit sacrificing itself to prevent Soviet soldiers from attacking an East Prussian village filled with evacuating civilians in 1945 was a good act which did nothing to transform Hitler’s war into a good cause. Canadian troops cutting the throats of captured Germans, as they did on D-Day, was an evil act which did not transform the Allied effort in WW2 into a bad cause.

  • You have not answered my question.

  • I’m not clear how your original question is even relevant to the post, Michael. I seem to recall that all of us have discussed the atomic bombings at the end of WW2 extensively before. But that’s not the topic of this post.

    Or is it that you can’t allow any topic touching on WW2 in the Pacific to come up without taking a moment to stoke a feeling of moral superiority by demonstrating that you are able to judge history more harshly than anyone else?

  • While I am glad I was not in a position to make the decision, and I do not understand how this relates to the post, I think that the bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were immoral.

  • Michael, I thought there was little even to talk about. The massive annihilation of such a vast population of innocents has been thoroughly condemned by the Church. The disproportionate slaughter at Hiroshima and Nagasaki–and it was disproportionate, as that was the very intent of the bombings–have specifically been targeted as a gross violation. It is a great stain on our nation that we are the only ones to have actually dropped a nuclear bomb on a civilian target.

    If you need any rationale as to why I think dropping the nukes was immoral, it goes back to the question of whether it is moral to kill one innocent to save (insert whatever number you like) people. The murder of an innocent is always wrong, regardless of the perceived good that could be brought about. I understand very well the belief prevalent at the time that led Truman to drop the bombs: namely, that if it came to a land invasion of Japan, every man, woman, and child would rise up against American forces (as was seen in a number of island battles), and that the death toll of such a struggle would vastly outnumber the deaths brought about by dropping the bombs. So, his dilemma was to either kill a few hundred thousand innocents, or commission millions to be killed. And he made the mistake of believing that the numbers made all the difference.

    And at the risk of going even further off topic (which, by the way, is how God can work miracles in the life of even a hardened soldier from a culture fairly far removed from Christianity), your questions were:

    Does your religion allow you to challenge your country’s foundational acts of violence? Or does a sacred silence surround them?

    The short answer: of course we challenge any act of violence. Violence is extreme, and ever and always should be a last resort. Keep in mind, though, that violence is not forbidden, as long as certain conditions are met. We can challenge what has happened in the past and try to decide whether or not any particular act was justifiable. The thing to keep in mind, and why I even bother replying, is that there’s a difference between looking at the past to learn from it, and looking at the past merely to point fingers. Anymore, there’s way too much of latter, and almost none of the former.

    Frankly, Michael, your questions are by far more antagonistic than is reasonable. I may as well ask you, “does your fake religion even permit you to believe that Jesus Christ was both God and man?” Does that question even need to be answered?

  • If anyone is dying to know my own thinking on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I did a post on the question here back in August.

    Short version, I would agree with General Marshall’s contention that the bombs should have been better used against strictly military targets — however at the same time I think that Truman and the American leadership did what they thought was in the best interst of all, and that an invasion of the home islands would have been several times more destructive in loss of civilian life.

    More to the point, I don’t think anything is gained (and much is lost) in brining any discussion of WW2 history back to a ritual denunciation (and often an overly simplistic one) of the dropping of the atomic bomb. It seems especially odd in a post which was actually about the power of people to see beyond the conflict and recognize the enemy as human beings deserving of Christian love.

  • More than a few Japanese war brides came back with American troops after the war, some starting families in Paris, Illinois, my home town.

    The same happened to my home county, with one of the GIs returning to Ithaca, MI with a Japanese bride. I’ve always marvelled at the astonishing courage of those ladies, given the almost certain disapproval from family in Japan and the far from warm welcome many received here. Not to mention one of the biggest cases of culture shock imaginable. That has to be love.

    Now that I think of it, Gratiot County was home to all manner of “displaced persons” from WW2. We had a Wermacht radio operator move here with his wife and take up farming and a Polish cavalry officer who met his Russian wife in a German prison camp. The officer showed me a picture of his cavalry company of 70. Of them, 7 survived the war.

  • 1. Truly a remarkable story. Only one that The Great Scriptwriter could compose.
    2. Another day, another Iafrate rant against courage, heroism, the power of the Holy Spirit, etc. Must be miserable to be you, Mikey.

  • My views on the morality of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are of record and can be found by anyone googling my name and either Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I do not go into them here because I do not wish to see the Catholic Anarchist succeed in hijacking the thread on something completely unrelated to Christopher’s post. Time enough to replay the Annual Great Catholic A-Bomb Debate in August 2009.

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  • Don, why not link to your stated views, if you stand by your words in any meaningful sense?

  • Because Catholic Anarchist this is a thread about a conversion and I will not allow you to hijack it.

  • Unnecessary. You’ve participated in blog threads where I have discussed my position at great length.

  • I honestly don’t remember your position. But now I can guess it. If you’re embarrassed by your position, then I don’t blame you.

  • The only thing I am “embarrassed” about Catholic Anarchist in regard to my position on Hiroshima and Nagasaki is that each year in the A-Bomb debate I have to spend time refuting assertions made by people almost completely lacking in familiarity with the historical record. However, you will not goad me into debating you on the subject in a thread that has nothing to do with Hiroshima and Nagasaki, no matter what the past pastor of Obama’s church recently stated:

    “Today. Is December 7. The day that this government killed. Over 80000. Japanese civilians. At Hiroshima in 1941. Two days before giving an additional. 64000. Japanese civilians. At Nagasaki by dropping nuclear bombs on innocent. People.”

    http://www.foxnews.com/video-search/m/21616411/back_in_the_spotlight.htm

14 Responses to Sixty-Seven Years Ago

  • We must never forget. Sadly, too many people have never known at all.

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  • Marine Corps training taught us to kill efficiently and to try to survive.

    The direct opposite of the Gospel.

  • Ah Catholic Anarchist, I knew that this post would draw you like a kitten to cream.

    Too bad Christ didn’t have you around to advise Him to berate the Centurion instead of complimenting him:
    “5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.” 7 Jesus said to him, “I will go and heal him.” 8 The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. ”

    Then of course you could have told John the Baptist that he was wrong in his advice to soldiers in that he did not demand that they stop being soldiers: “Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages.”

    Finally, with you at his side no doubt Saint Paul would have dropped the military imagery that he used in some of his epistles.

    Time will not permit me to relate all the aspects of Catholic history that would have been changed if the Church dropped its just war teaching and accepted your view that all war is evil, so one example will have to suffice. No doubt God would have changed his revelation to the Maid of Orleans so she wouldn’t have written the following letter:

    “JESUS, MARY
    King of England, render account to the King of Heaven of your royal blood. Return the keys of all the good cities which you have seized, to the Maid. She is sent by God to reclaim the royal blood, and is fully prepared to make peace, if you will give her satisfaction; that is, you must render justice, and pay back all that you have taken.

    King of England, if you do not do these things, I am the commander of the military; and in whatever place I shall find your men in France, I will make them flee the country, whether they wish to or not; and if they will not obey, the Maid will have them all killed. She comes sent by the King of Heaven, body for body, to take you out of France, and the Maid promises and certifies to you that if you do not leave France she and her troops will raise a mighty outcry as has not been heard in France in a thousa nd years. And believe that the King of Heaven has sent her so much power that you will not be able to harm her or her brave army.

    To you, archers, noble companions in arms, and all people who are before Orleans, I say to you in God’s name, go home to your own country; if you do not do so, beware of the Maid, and of the damages you will suffer. Do not attempt to remain, for you have no rights in France from God, the King of Heaven, and the Son of the Virgin Mary. It is Charles, the rightful heir, to whom God has given France, who will shortly enter Paris in a grand company. If you do not believe the news written of God and the Maid, then in whatever place we may find you, we will soon see who has the better right, God or you.

    William de la Pole, Count of Suffolk, Sir John Talbot, and Thomas, Lord Scales, lieutenants of the Duke of Bedford, who calls himself regent of the King of France for the King of England, make a response, if you wish to make peace over the city of Orleans! If you do not do so, you will always recall the damages which will attend you.

    Duke of Bedford, who call yourself regent of France for the King of England, the Maid asks you not to make her destroy you. If you do not render her satisfaction, she and the French will perform the greatest feat ever done in the name of Christianity.”

  • I’m not asking you to be a pacifist, Donnie. I only wish you would accept just war teaching and take it seriously. And drop the whole idolatry thing.

  • I ask for nothing from you Catholic Anarchist and am therefore never disappointed. Your comment about idolatry is as feeble an insult as your using a diminutive of my first name. Schoolyard comments haven’t had an impact on me since 1968.

  • Tell me about the god you worship, Don.

  • You will find Him quite well described Catholic Anarchist in the Apostles’ Creed.

  • The fact that Christ didn’t address the matter explicitly does not mean that he condoned it. War by its very nature destroys what it tends to protect. The family is the building block of societies and war is a direct attack at that foundation. Men, women, and children die; it is no small matter and I think the “Catholic Anarchist” did not ask for anything contrary to basic Christian teaching on war. If man tried to engage with one another peacefully as quickly as man goes to war, the world would be more in accord with the Gospel.

    War is never a moral good; at best, it can be a justified morally neutral act to protect the common good from quickly spreading grave evil or in defense when all other measures have been exhausted.

    However to use the fact that the Lord didn’t address this in an opportune moment is a flawed argument in my view. There are a host of things Jesus didn’t specifically address, e.g. slavery — doesn’t mean that the Lord condones that either. Paul didn’t argue against slavery when talking to slave owners, does that mean the Catholic Church should reconsider its thinking on slavery?

  • No Eric, the Catholic Anarchist views all wars as evil and believes that the Church has been in error in adopting the just war doctrine. God was quite explicit throughout the Old Testament in deeming certain wars to be just. If the argument is made that Christ commands that His followers never participate in war then the burden of proof is on those make the argument. Catholics are not Quakers and absolute pacifism has never been a majority position in the Catholic faith at least since the time of Constantine. Our data for the first three centuries is so incomplete, and the Roman legions were so encrusted with pagan rituals, that I hesitate to draw conclusions from that time period as to the position of the Church as a whole as to military service. Certainly the Fathers of the Church found no moral difficulty with Christians serving in wars once the Emperor was Christian.

    In any event I do not think the Catholic Anarchist is making a theological point but rather giving vent to the deep hatred he has for the United States, as demonstrated by such juvenile tactics on his part as not capitalizing America or the United States.

  • Eric, as to Christians and military service, I believe this letter of Saint Augustine to Count Boniface is instructive.

    http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1102189.htm

    The pertinent portion:

    ” Do not think that it is impossible for any one to please God while engaged in active military service. Among such persons was the holy David, to whom God gave so great a testimony; among them also were many righteous men of that time; among them was also that centurion who said to the Lord: I am not worthy that You should come under my roof, but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed: for I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes; and to my servant, Do this, and he does it; and concerning whom the Lord said: Verily, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. Matthew 8:8-10 Among them was that Cornelius to whom an angel said: Cornelius, your alms are accepted, and your prayers are heard, Acts 10:4 when he directed him to send to the blessed Apostle Peter, and to hear from him what he ought to do, to which apostle he sent a devout soldier, requesting him to come to him. Among them were also the soldiers who, when they had come to be baptized by John,— the sacred forerunner of the Lord, and the friend of the Bridegroom, of whom the Lord says: Among them that are born of women there has not arisen a greater than John the Baptist, Matthew 11:11 — and had inquired of him what they should do, received the answer, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages. Luke 3:14 Certainly he did not prohibit them to serve as soldiers when he commanded them to be content with their pay for the service.”

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  • Froom now on this man is my new hero. I can just say that I agreee 100%

7 Responses to Thanksgiving 1789

2 Responses to Our Oldest Ally

  • We dig the current Pres, Monsieur Sarkozy. Remarkably sane and clear-thinking chap. We most definitely dig the new Madame Sarkozy- Ms. Carla can come to any old White House state dinner, with or without hubbo. But the French have had their brains marinated by too much Marxist-socialist-existentialist-other ist stuff since WW II. We have problems with their love of any American eccentric- Jerry Lewis, Mickey Roarke, any number of jazz musicians. They also provided aid and comfort to Ira Einhorn- Philly-born spouter of what is now New Age bosh. Round about 1979, he murdered girlfriend Holly Maddux, stuffed the poor child into a box, and skipped off to Europe for well nigh 20 years. Spent much of that time in Burgundy, with la belle Francaise and le good life. In ’01, I remember hearing the whooshwhooshwhoosh of helicopter blades while in downtown Philly. Ol’ Ira was finally home for long stay in le hoosegow. So I got issues with France.

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17 Responses to We Have No King But Jesus

  • It would be nice to see this blog put into practice this insight that we have no king but Jesus. Nice words, but there is little behind them.

  • Not even Thanksgiving is a good enough reason to take a break from unfair generalizations and polemics, eh?

  • Catholic Anarchist you never let any American holiday go by without displaying your hatred of your native land do you? I truly do pity you.

  • The Feast of Christ the King is not an American holiday, Donald.

  • But you showed up and left your comment nearly a week after the Feast of Christ the King, as part of your fuss about people’s Thanksgiving posts.

    I must admit, Michael, I’m never quite clear what it is that you consider putting Christ above king to consist of — other than sharing your personal preferences and prejudices on a range of topics. And yet, I must asume that there are many ways to grant God proper place, respect, and worship in our lives other than being Michael Iafrate.

  • Darwin, that comment made no sense. Rephrase?

  • With less intricate sentence structure:

    You often comment that others put America before Catholicism. Your comment that it would be nice if people here “had no king but Jesus” seems very much along those lines.

    Your use of this accusation often seems to amount to, “You have different opinions about American culture and politics than I do!”

    I’m not clear why differing from your assessment of American culture and politics amounts to putting America before the Church. Surely being Michael Iafrate is not the only correct way to have a correctly ordered relationship to God and Country.

  • I’m not clear why differing from your assessment of American culture and politics amounts to putting America before the Church.

    But clearly I’m not critiquing just any difference of opinion, but the fact that so many bloggers here buy into American civil religion, most especially the pseudo-worship of soldiers. Many of you have more respect for U.S. troops than you do for the U.S. bishops. That’s a problem.

  • Depends on the soldier and the bishop 🙂

  • Michael,

    Like your open support of pro-abortion Obama than you do for U.S. Bishops?

  • Michael – caricatures and insults are easy – any drunk at a baseball game can do that much. If there is a specific position that I or someone else has taken that you think indicates membership in “American civil religion”, please bring it to our attention. You may be right after all; but sweeping generalizations don’t help anybody.

  • Michael,

    While “guy into American civil religion” is a wonderfully grad-school-ish phrase of derision, I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen you convincingly make the case that your opponents participate in it, other than simply making the assertion when people express sentiments you disagree with. Nor does your claim about the “pseudo-worship of soldiers” strike me as particularly sensible. Certainly, a number of us frequently express gratitude for the sacrifices that soldiers make. I’m sure that you would agree it is not easy or pleasant to be deployed in often primitive conditions, away from family, exposed to danger, and under obedience. I think most people recognize this and are thus thankful for the sacrifices which servicemen make on their country’s behalf.

    Many of you have more respect for U.S. troops than you do for the U.S. bishops. That’s a problem.

    Again, I’m not really sure what you mean by this.

    Certainly, there are many here who have criticized the USCCB as a body or bishops individually on various issues. Surely you can hardly criticize this, as you once (to my mind wrongly) accused the entire USCCB with the exception of one eastern rite bishops of lacking male genitals, simply because you thought the bishops should have used rhetoric similar to your own about the Iraq War.

    I would wager that everyone here respects the office of bishop more than the office of soldier. The soldier’s office is to obey and to have courage, willingness to sacrifice and suffer the deprivations of being in danger far from home. The bishop’s office is to be a shepherd to the people of Christ, providing them with both teaching and the sacraments. In that much, much more is expected of an individual bishop than of an individual soldier, it can hardly be surprising that it is easy to criticize bishops for not living up to their duties.

    While people should keep this in mind, and be hesitant to criticize the bishops excessively, I don’t really see how it could even be a reasonable comparison to argue that someone has more respect for soldiers as a group than for bishops as a group. Certainly not unless someone had been so foolish as to actually state the sentiment openly.

    Your making it against people here doesn’t really strike me as any more reasonable than if I were to say that you respected Chomsky more than the bishops.

  • Many of you have more respect for U.S. troops than you do for the U.S. bishops. That’s a problem.

    A phantom one, at best. Showing respect for our troops in no way diminishes our respect for our bishops, whether we blog about it or not. Frankly, I find that our soldiers are in much more need for our prayers and support, given the danger they’re in (not just of imminent death, but psychological trauma, and spiritual decay). But I don’t see how you come off making your accusation. Our soldiers work to gain us temporal good; our bishops work to gain us eternal spiritual good. That the latter is so obviously more valuable should barely warrant comment.

    Buy into American civil religion? How so? I suppose that if you believe people here at A.C. support unjust war and torture and lining the pockets of the rich at the expense of the poor, you have reason to believe we are in error. But maybe you’ll be willing to explain how those are even part of this “American civil religion” you mentioned. And maybe you’ll consider that there’s a difference between the “religion” and the practitioners. The U.S. is against unjust war, against torture, and dedicated to helping the poor and the righting of injustices. Where is that even in conflict with the Catholic Church? I’ll concede that we’ve had people, even presidents, that have not molded well to what America stands for, but then we’re arguing about sinners and application of principles.

    It would be nice to see this blog put into practice this insight that we have no king but Jesus.

    It would be nice to see something more substantive as a comment than just a snide statement. Really, Michael, I’ve read your comments for a while, and they mostly seem to have no point but to deride. Getting more insightful statements from you is like pulling teeth. Granted, I’ll give you that some of us have not been the most charitable towards you, but if you have valid concerns about what we’re doing here at A.C., it would be far more helpful, constructive, and enlightening–both for those of us who contribute directly and those who read here looking for insight–if you took some time not just to point out flaws, but even explain how you even believe we have these flaws, and what you think we should do to fix them.

    But clearly I’m not critiquing just any difference of opinion, but the fact that so many bloggers here buy into American civil religion,

    This is exactly my concern about your comments. You simply make this brash statement with nothing around it make it insightful or helpful. Maybe I’m just dense, but when you say “American civil religion”, what are you even talking about? Such a statement is pretty vacuous because there’s not context behind it. Maybe for you, it should be obvious that it means something like “worshiping G.W. Bush as God”, but for me, when you say “American civil religion” what I think of is the religion of “me before anyone else”, “no one can interfere with my ‘sexual rights'”, “as long as it doesn’t ‘hurt’ anyone else”, and so forth.

    DC tried to involve you into an actual conversation (though arguably not the best way of going about it) of how what we’re doing here places America before Church, and you respond with just another unsubstantiated assertion that we’re, in your opinion, placing America before Church. I know I feel, and probably most others feel, that you’re stating A, and then try to prove A by restating A.

    Moreover, these discussions we could be having are some of the important discussion to have. Yet it feels too much of the time that the conversation just becomes “You’re wrong–nuh uh–yeah huh–nuh uh–yeah huh–nuh uh–yeah huh….”

  • Maybe I’m just dense, but when you say “American civil religion”, what are you even talking about? Such a statement is pretty vacuous because there’s not context behind it.

    Sure there is. “ACR” is a term with a meaning. Perhaps you could look it up instead of saying that my statement has no meaning.

  • Still waiting on an argument or evidence Michael…

  • You’ll be waiting for a long time . . . his sneers aren’t often backed up by any rational thought process.

  • That a term has a meaning does not mean that it can be applied to a person or group without justification. I can thinking of a lot of terms which I might apply to you, which you would no doubt consider to be inaccurate descriptions, despite the fact that the terms do very much have meaning.

    If you’re talking about “American civic religion” in the sense coined by Bellah in the 60s, my recollection is that this was a sociological term used to describe a shared set of ideals, values, holidays and “civic rituals”. It does not necessarily designate, as you seem to imply, worship of the state — or indeed a reverential or religious attitude towards the state at all.

    Given your general attitude towards things American I can see why you would use it as a derogatory label — and perhaps you read people who do. Sociology is not particularly my bag. But even if so, you don’t appear to be making a sociological argument, but rather imagining that you’ve come up with a rather damning indictment of the general tenor here. And at least from a general knowledge of the term, I don’t see how your statement is meaningful.

3 Responses to The Toleration Act of Maryland

General Lee's Greatest Victory

Wednesday, November 12, AD 2008

robert-e-lee-hosrseback

“It’s a warm spring Sunday at Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church in Richmond. As the minister is about to present Holy Communion, a tall well-dressed black man sitting in the section reserved for African Americans unexpectedly advances to the communion rail; unexpectedly because this has never happened here before.

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10 Responses to General Lee's Greatest Victory

  • Thanks for bringing a tear to the eye of this old Texan/Virginian transplanted to Ohio.

  • My Dad was always an admirer of Robert E. Lee, and I agree that he was definitely a class act. as we would say. Some years ago, I visited the campus of Washington and Lee University in Virginia, and saw the Lee Family crypt, as well as the General’s office, which was left as it was during his tenure as president of the University. He was, in every sense of the word, a true Southern gentleman. Would that there were many more like him.

  • Donald,

    I remember reading this in Warren Carrol’s History of Christendom about General Lee. Just as Jay I became a bit emotional when I first read this.

    Thanks for posting this today in your column.

  • Beautiful story. As a native Virginian, I’ve always had a particular fondness for Robert E. Lee, although it seems to me that his decision to fight for the South probably led to a longer war. According to Wikipedia, he’s a descendant of St. Thomas More…had not heard that before.

  • A lovely story about one of Virginia’s finest. Lee was no supporter of slavery, and as I recall either never owned slaves or freed them early on.

  • I first read this in a book called Lee: The Last Years. I highly recommend reading this. Most histories end the story of Lee at Appomattox but this book starts there and gives the rest of the story of his life. Fascinating and admirable man.

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  • This is, indeed, a great story–one of my favorites about General Lee. I used this same anecdote in a recent lecture on “The Episcopal Church in North Carolina During the War Between the States.” However, I was a bit taken aback by your gratuitous criticism of President Obama. You had cited his election as proof of America’s racial progress. The sort of off-the-cuff comment–“a calamity for the unborn, and, I believe, for the nation”–detracted from the overall effect of your essay. Whether Obama is a great president or a terrible president has nothing to do with Robert E. Lee.

  • “The sort of off-the-cuff comment–”a calamity for the unborn, and, I believe, for the nation”–detracted from the overall effect of your essay. Whether Obama is a great president or a terrible president has nothing to do with Robert E. Lee.”

    I call ’em like I see ’em E.T., both in history and in politics.

Remember, Remember…

Wednesday, November 5, AD 2008

washington1

Today is Guy Fawkes’ Day in England.  This Catholic-bashing holiday is not observed in America and the Father of Our Country is largely the reason why.

“As the Commander in Chief has been apprized of a design form’d for the observance of that ridiculous and childish custom of burning the Effigy of the pope – He cannot help expressing his surprise that there should be Officers and Soldiers in this army so void of common sense, as not to see the impropriety of such a step at this Juncture; at a Time when we are solliciting, and have really obtain’d, the friendship and alliance of the people of Canada, whom we ought to consider as Brethren embarked in the same Cause. The defence of the general Liberty of America: At such a juncture, and in such Circumstances, to be insulting their Religion, is so monstrous, as not to be suffered or excused; indeed instead of offering the most remote insult, it is our duty to address public thanks to these our Brethren, as to them we are so much indebted for every late happy Success over the common Enemy in Canada.”

Order in Quarters, November 5, 1775

— George Washington

After the election results of last night, for those of us on the losing side, it is good to remember just how wonderful a nation America truly is.

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14 Responses to Remember, Remember…

  • I don’t remember where I read this, but when I find it, I’ll post it, but I read that George Washington converted to the Catholic faith on his deathbed.

    I’ll do some research to get more information on this. Just curious if any of our readers can supply some more information on this.

  • It would be nice if he had Tito, but the conversion story of Washington is merely a pious fable with no historical validity. A completely made up tale. However, throughout his life Washington was friendly to Catholics and contributed to the construction of a Catholic Church.

  • “Catholic Bashing”? or simply a tradition,harking back to a time when Catholic Plotters tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament.

    As a Catholic I participate,I even build a guy with my children,but I don’t take it personally,because I don’t identify with Guido Fawkes and the plotters. I have no wish to bomb people.

    Maybe you do?

  • Yes Catholic Bashing. Consider this charming traditional Guy Fawkes rhyme:

    “A penny loaf to feed ol’ Pope.
    A farthing cheese to choke him.
    A pint of beer to rinse it down.
    A faggot of sticks to burn him.
    Burn him in a tub of tar.
    Burn him like a blazing star.
    Burn his body from his head.
    Then we’ll say ol’ Pope is dead.
    Hip hip hooray!
    Hip hip hooray!”

    As for Guy Fawkes and the other plotters they were attacking a state that had made their religion a criminal offense and executed priests who attempted to minister to faithful Catholics. I would rise in revolt against such a government in an instant.

  • Don’t listen to the dhimmi troll.

  • B.C.,

    I would rise up as well. You’ve been dhimmitized by your Protestant Overlords.

  • I’m just happy he didn’t want to pick on us Canadians.

    Good lesson for the new guy.

  • I love Canadians!

    I’m just curious why PM Harper, of the ‘Conservative’ Party, is so bashful on dealing with life issues such as abortion and traditional marriage.

  • The plain truth is that a large part the Canadian electorate is paranoid about a hidden right wing agenda. Harpers’ Government is only in a minority situation in parliment and if he wants to survive he’ll have to wait and secure a majority position before he directly attacks life issues.

    But even then, it may not hit his agenda.

    If you think American Catholics don’t vote thier faith, Canadian Catholics are even less assertive. An entire generation threw in the towel.

  • The only ‘Catholic bashing’ bonfire night celebrations in Britain today are those in Lewes. But then they are also commemorating the seventeen Protestant martyrs burnt at the stake there. Throughout our history the Catholics have been persecutors as well as the persecuted. Bloody Mary had 300 Protestants burned at the stake due to their faith. If bonfire night is anti Catholic then the fourth of July is anti British. By the way I am C of E.

  • Comparing Guy Fawkes day to the Fourth of July is ludicrous. We did not have centuries following the Revolution during which English-Americans were discriminated against. Catholics in England during the reign of Bad Queen Bess had anti-Catholic law after anti-Catholic law heaped upon them. Catholics were not given full civil rights until the Catholic Relief Act in 1829. The Gordon riots in 1780 against the Papists Act of 1778 demonstrated the depth of anti-Catholic bigotry in England. Guy Fawkes Day is a legacy of bitter religious bigotry.

  • Well I certainly wouldn’t defend any of the monarchs from the House of Tudor who are, after all, known as the Terrible Tudors. It never ceases to amaze me how this one family has influenced English history so much. My religion is the product of a selfish and murderous womaniser called Henry VIII. His dissolution of the monasteries was the biggest criminal act of cultural destruction in our history. A visit to Fountains Abbey would bring tears to your eyes. Mary burnt Protestants and Elizabeth burnt Catholics. The roots of the British Empire lie with Elizabeth. The English Reformation was a bloody affair which resulted in the longstanding persecution of my fellow countrymen just because they looked towards Rome. I may be C of E but I don’t pray or go to Church and I think religion is a crock of ****. And Americans wonder why England is a post Christian society. Bonfire Night is a tradition and nothing more. If we lose this tradition because it’s not PC then what next, Remembrance Day, the Monarchy, Trooping the Colour?

  • Without Faith John what’s the point of tradition? I am a great believer in tradition but without Faith life is literally meaningless. The fact that some people have misused religion is no more an attack on Christianity than the fact that demagogues have misused democracy is an attack on democracy or the fact that some soldiers have committed atrocities is an attack on the legitimate role that the military plays as the guardian of society. In the last century we saw true post-Christian societies in the Soviet Union and in Nazi Germany and the results were horrific. I’ ll stand with Christ and good traditions.

  • http://proecclesia.blogspot.com/2006/02/in-honor-of-father-of-our-country-his.html

    With regard to Donald’s comment … There seems to be ample evidence to believe that George Washington converted.