Culture

Culture Without God

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Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

Proverbs 29:18

 

As the above video indicates, a bad culture does not lead to brutal regimes.  The sick culture, like the brutal regime, are merely symptoms of a vast illness that was diagnosed by Aleksander Solzhenitsyn three decades ago:

 

More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.

Since then I have spent well-nigh fifty years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.

What is more, the events of the Russian Revolution can only be understood now, at the end of the century, against the background of what has since occurred in the rest of the world. What emerges here is a process of universal significance. And if I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, here too, I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: Men have forgotten God.

One can have a healthy culture only when there is an atmosphere of hope.  In the absence of a belief in God despair grows in the human heart like fat on a pig.  To escape from that despair the usual culprits are called upon:  alcohol, drugs, sex, violence, all in an ultimately futile attempt to fill the God sized hole in one’s soul.  →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

A Real Job

I’ve had it suggested that I write about motherhood a bit; be careful what you ask for.

 

….Yeah, I’m posting on that.  Some idiot talking head makes a slam at a grandmother with MS and everyone has to comment about it.  I think I have something worth saying, though, rather than just talking about it because it’s big.

 

I’m a stay at home mom.  A home-maker.  A house wife.

 

I have worked outside the home, before I got married, in a very similar field—I was a Petty Officer in the Navy, specializing in calibration. (Making sure things that measure are accurate enough.)  Before that, I was in another similar field, at least sort of—I was a ranch kid.

 

Perhaps some folks look at those things and are curious—what on earth is the connection between being a mother, working with cows and fixing stuff that’s used to fix planes and ships?

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American Taliban

Here’s some news out of Egypt.

An Egyptian court has ordered the government to ban pornographic websites in order to protect society and its values.

The decision and a similar initiative in parliament has fed into fears by liberal and secular Egyptians that their country is moving down the path to fundamentalist Islam, following a sweeping victory by Islamists in parliamentary elections.

The ruling came from a lower court and can be appealed. Three years ago a court made a similar ruling, but it was not enforced because at the time, officials argued filtering systems were not effective.

Meanwhile, in California . . .

Desert Sun Resort owners and Orange County residents John and Elizabeth Young filed a lawsuit March 16 in Orange County Superior Court against 500 unnamed defendants asking a judge to rule that the resort’s policy against children does not violate state law.

KNX 1070?s Margaret Carrero reports the couple were dumbfounded when they received a letter last month seeking penalties and damages over their policy against allowing kids on their property.

…The lawsuit was filed in response to a letter the Youngs received Feb. 17 from Palm Springs attorney David Baron — written on behalf of “certain individuals” — which threatened legal action against the clothing-optional resort “for maintaining and enforcing a No Children Allowed Policy and a Couples-Only Day Pass Policy”.

Listening to some individuals on the left you would think that America is but a regime away from a full-throated theocracy.  Something tells me we are very, very far away from realizing the delusional nightmares of said individuals.

Our Country

So to sum up: we now live in a country where students at ostensibly Catholic universities testify on national television before Congress that they are freely engaging in pre-marital intercourse, and that the university’s failure to pay for their $100 per month contraception is severely cramping their style – as they pay on the order of $50,000 per year for the privilege of said education.

But Rick Santorum is considered kooky and extreme.

 

The Culture War

I know that there are those among you who do not like harsh rhetoric.  Heck, one of my most recent posts was about the militaristic rhetoric of the president.  Yet, sometimes we need to take a look around at what’s happening and realize that something like a culture war is truly raging.

There was no clearer demonstration of this fact than the HHS mandate regarding health insurance coverage of abortificants, contraception, sterilization, and other grave evils.  The impact of this ruling has been stunning.  Not only has the decision outraged conservative Catholics, but even erstwhile left-wing Catholic defenders of the president have taken this decision to be the last straw.  Bishops, often reticent to enter the political fray, have issued clear condemnations of this decision, even suggesting that Catholics engage in civil disobedience.  The mild-mannered visiting priest at our parish offered a blistering homily, discussing how this mandate violates the very principles that this country was founded upon. Like the ents awakening from their slumber, Saruman and his orcs – meaning President Obama and his allies – have awakened a sleeping giant.

But our anger is not enough, nor are our prayers.  Patrick Archbold puts it all in perspective today.

As I said, this is just the latest battle, but it’s one we must win.  We can’t win the war here, but we can lose it.  And to win a war you don’t just need chaplains, you need generals.

In the wake of the Obama Administration’s decision to force contraceptives on Catholic institutions many Bishops have been calling for prayer and fasting, and that is right and just.  But when faced with an existential threat, you don’t just pray the Nazis away, you have to fight on all fronts.

It is fine to pray that the Nazis will stop being Nazis, but it is also right and just to pray for good aim.

Our Bishops need to realize what is at stake here and act accordingly.  Many Bishops have already written letters and made videos condemning the unconstitutional actions of the administration.  That is good, but more is required.  Open and vocal defiance is required. The Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin issued a letter this Sunday in which he proclaimed “We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second-class citizens.” That is a good start.  Every Bishop needs to do the same. It must be made clear that we WILL NOT COMPLY.

Yet even more will be required. Some have called for very visible civil disobedience by the Bishops to the point of getting arrested.  I think this may be a good idea. Yet even more.  Kathleen Sebelius is at the spear point of this war on our Church promoting and now forcing abortion and contraception at every turn.  If the scandal caused by this “Catholic” woman does not merit excommunication, the remedy is meaningless.  Any Catholic who is complicit in this war must be held to account, publicly.  This is a war.

We will not comply.  We should never have to choose between being a Catholic and being an American.  This is an existential threat for the Church in this country as well as for the life of the country as a whole.  If we are to win the war, we must win this battle and we need generals willing to fight to the last.

If you are not convinced that we are in the midst of an all out assault on religious values, here’s another story to consider. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

You Mean Rick Santorum is Not a Libertarian? Burn Him at the Stake!

I’m going to need to recant my placement of RedState at the top of my favorite blogs list.  Now that Rick Santorum has emerged as probably the leading not-Mitt candidate in the GOP presidential sweepstakes, they, along with a few other conservative websites, have gone absolutely bananas over the prospect of Santorum becoming a leading candidate.  Sure, they all hate Mitt Romney, but can we truly tolerate a candidate who says extremist things like this:

This whole idea of personal autonomy, well I don’t think most conservatives hold that point of view. Some do. They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do, government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulations low, that we shouldn’t get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn’t get involved in cultural issues. You know, people should do whatever they want. Well, that is not how traditional conservatives view the world and I think most conservatives understand that individuals can’t go it alone.

My goodness.  I can just see Santorum delivering these remarks on a balcony with a hammer and sickle proudly displayed behind him.  Did he also poound a shoe on the podium, because the man must surely be just shy of being an out and out Communist.

Jeff Emanuel has unearthed two more shocking quotes that reveal Santorum’s obvious Stalinist tendencies. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Becoming My Father

One of the more annoying and awkward moments of my life was watching the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards with my dad.  We had two cable-ready televisions in the house, and I guess my mother was watching the other one.  So I had to endure three hours of my father’s ongoing social commentary during the show.  Here was a show that featured performances of bands I actually wanted to watch: Def Leppard, U2, Nirvana, Pearl Jam and, most importantly, Guns N’ Roses, yet my father had to interject himself every thirty seconds to express his contempt and disgust for what was happening on screen – except for Eric Clapton performing “Tears in Heaven,” because evidently Eric Clapton was the only artist who had debuted since Django Reinhardt that didn’t draw my father’s ire. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

There’s A Law About That?

The FCC is coming under fire from Congress for lax oversight of kids’ programming.  So what’s the problem?  Is Joe from Blue’s Clues working a little too blue, if you catch my drift?  Are the explicit drug scenes from Yo Gabba Gabba getting a little too out of control?  Is the lack of parental oversight of Max and Ruby sending a bad message?

No, none of that.  Evidently there are too many commercials.

I am not making this up.

TV watchdog groups say the Federal Communications Commission needs to better target kids’ programs that have too many commercials, and they want the commission and Congress to strengthen oversight of the Children’s Television Act.

Fueling the drive is a Government Accountability Office report issued last week that highlights FCC shortcomings in enforcing the landmark 1990 law intended to raise the quality and educational value of children’s programming while also limiting advertising. The report said the FCC has been lax in ensuring compliance from cable and satellite providers and questioned the commission’s guidelines for determining the educational value of children’s shows.

You mean to tell me there is a law out there that dictates the amount of commercials that can be shown during children’s programming?  Surely you jest.

Congress crafted the law in response to a decrease in educational shows during the 1980s that corresponded with an uptick in commercial blitzes during children’s programming. To shield youngsters from excessive commercials, the law restricts advertising during children’s programs to 10.5 minutes per hour on weekends and 12 minutes per hour on weekdays.

I repeat: there is a law, passed by Congress, signed by a President, that actually dictates the amount of commercials that are to be shown during kids’ shows.  The government of the United States deemed this an issue worthy enough of oversight.

Moreover, there are people who think the government isn’t doing enough.

During the Clinton administration, the FCC was “paying attention to children’s education, and the quality of children’s programming improved,” said Dale Kunkel, a child media expert and a communications professor at the University of Arizona.

“We slowly moved to a posture in the 2000s where they completely ignored the issue and the broadcasters offered whatever they want,” he said.

Wait a second.  Broadcasters can offer programs that viewers have the option to watch, or not watch?  What is this, a free country or something?

Look, I’m all for making sure that the airwaves are generally clean for kids.  While parents have the ultimate responsibility for watching their children and making sure that the content of what they’re viewing is appropriate, it’s helpful to be assured that they’re not going to watch all the animals from Franklin get a little too friendly (and at least they’ve finally had the decency to put some clothes on little bear).  But do we really need the government to dictate the quality of educational programming available, or the precise amount of commercial time airing on television?  Is there anything that busybodies won’t ask the government to oversee?

The Crushing Burden of Having a Real Life

John Hawkins talks about a little kerfuffle that emerged over remarks made by Kay Hymowitz:

“Before [today], the fact is that primarily, a 20-year-old woman would have been a wife and a mother,” author Kay Hymowitz told the crowd of about 100 for the Manhattan Institute in New York City. Men would have been mowing lawns and changing the oil in their family sedans instead of playing video games and watching television. In previous decades, adults in their 20s and 30s were too busy with real life for such empty entertainment, Hymowitz says. “They didn’t live with roommates in Williamsburg in Brooklyn and Dupont Circle in D.C.

Hey, I didn’t have a roommate when I lived in Dupont Circle.  All 400 square feet of that place were entirely mine!   And I’ll have Kay know that I broke up my Madden playing and television watching with at least 20-30 minutes of work on my dissertation per day.  Hmmm, maybe that’s why it took me five years to finish it.

In all seriousness, this is a fairly innocuous statement, or at least it is for those of us who don’t have a secularist perspective on happiness.

Cue the angry liberals.

Amanda Marcotte, famed for a writing style that makes Maureen Dowd look like George Will, as well as for her way TMI-laden posts about her sex life, is none too pleased:

I think it’s important to remember that no matter how much huffing and puffing and rationalization goes on, a great deal of conservative ideology can be summed up as “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy”. Or even just the fear that someone might just be having fun, at least without clearing it with the authorities first that they’re the right race and income level to feel pleasure.

…I often find myself wondering, and today more than most days, how things can get this bad. It seems to me that if wingnuts put a tenth of much effort as they do into resenting others into improving their own home and sex lives, they’d be too busy being happy and blissful to give a f*ck what anyone else is doing. It’s just basic logic, and I wonder why not just do the math and go for it.

As Hawkins rightly points out, the irony of this statement is that studies show that “married people are happier than single people, religious people are happier than non-religious people, and conservatives are happier than liberals.”  I would also point out married people have more sex than single people, so if anything conservatives are the ones pushing people to more fulfilling sex lives, an observation I heard Alan Keyes make when he was running for President in 1996 (before he lost his mind).  Evidently in Marcotte’s world the only good sex to be had is when you get good and loaded at some slimy bar in the downtown DC, take some random stranger to your bed, and never see the guy again.  Boy that really sounds joy-filled to me.

It also never ceases to amuse me when I hear religious conservatives derided as being uptight about sex, the implication being that we’re not getting laid enough.  Yet, at the same time, we’re mocked for having such large families.  Hey, geniuses – how do you think we got those large families?  Biology may not be your strong point, as evidenced by Andy Sullivan’s deranged rants about Sarah Palin and the maternity of Trig, but try to put two and two together.

As dumb as Marcotte’s rebuttal is, Matt Yglesias takes the cake:

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A Bad Witness to the True Meaning of Christmas

It was December 21st and MrsDarwin and I were standing in the local branch of our bank, getting a cashier’s check for more money than I like to think about so that we could go close on our new house. These things take time, as people don’t normally come in and asked to cut large chashier’s checks, and as we were standing there I gradually became aware of an increasingly loud conserversation between an elderly male customer and a teller at the other end of the counter.

“I’m very offended,” he announced. “Very, very offended. And do you know why I’m offended?”

“Why sir?”

“Because I am a Christian and when I look around here four days before Christmas I don’t see a single Christmas decoration. Do you know how long I’ve been a customer here? I want to talk to your manager.”
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Real Sex vs. the Contraceptive Mentality (Part 2)

[Continued from Part 1]

Restraint, Relationships and Planning Parenthood

When I say that we “naturally want to avoid having children” at certain times, I would imagine that the image that comes immediately to mind is of birth control, abortion or infanticide, and most traditional societies have seen these in some form or other. However, I’d like to turn our attention to something so basic and so prevalent that we don’t think about it much.

From an anthropological point of view, the entire structure of our romantic and family relationships serves as a way to control childbearing, limiting it to situations in which offspring can be supported. Consider: Requiring that young women remain virgins until marriage ensured that children will not be born without a provider. Nor was the decision to marry, when it came, a strictly individual affair. Marriage was negotiated and approved by the wider families, because the families were in effect committing to help support the new family unit being created. Many cultures also required the husband’s family to pay a “bride price”, not simply as compensation for the lost contribution of the daughter to her own family, but as proof that the husband was of sufficient means to start a family.

Once in place, this set of cultural mores and laws provided an easy way to adjust to want or plenty:

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Mr. President, Not Even Close to Good Enough

Mr. President,

Last night you gave an address using the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as an opportunity to pontificate about many subjects. I am afraid that far from convincing me you are leading the federal government well in this disaster, you have removed beyond a doubt your indifference to the state of Louisiana. Since you rarely visited the state before the disaster (even when the un-repaired damage done by Hurricane Katrina should have called your attention), perhaps I, as a resident of this great state, can explain what you obviously don’t understand.

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The Importance of Sports in a Post-Modern World

In a few days the FIFA World Cup, which is one of -if not the- premier sporting events in the world, begins so I thought it might be a good time to reflect on the good of sports for those who don’t play them.

In modern sports, sometimes it’s hard to see this good. In sports today, we have college football conferences raiding each other in pursuit of the all-mighty dollar, destroying the wonderful regional nature of the game. We have Kobe Bryant, one of the all-time divas, two games away from yet another title. As Henry Karlson pointed out in a post a while ago, sports stars often find themselves in a position of privilege-both in terms of financial wealth and in terms of our excusal of their poor behavior (though I would attribute this in large part not solely to sports but also to the cult of celebrity we have today, which is another post for another day). We even had a stampede in anticipation of the World Cup.

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Rural Ideal, Suburban Compromise

For those who spend quantities of time philosophizing about lifestyles, suburbia is almost universally reviled. Large tracts of similarly designed homes, each set on its patch of lawn, seem for many people to epitomize the problems of isolation, conformity, mass production, consumerism, or whatever the bugbear of choice may be. And yet, suburban life remains persistently popular.

Having spent the last month building a large raised vegetable bed and putting in this year’s expanded garden, such that I can now look out on the garden with my morning coffee in hand and not with satisfaction the growth of the tomato plants and the strangely obscene orange flowers of the zucchini and butter-stick squash, or go out in the warm evening when I return from work to gauge the progress of the pair of grape vines and the climbing rose bush, the explanation for this does not seem strange to me. There is, it seems to me, a desire that a great many of us have, despite our city-based jobs and cultural tastes, for a home and small plot of land we can call our own.

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The Personhood Initiative

Deal Hudson at Inside Catholic wrote recently about the divisions in the pro-life movement over the Personhood Initiative, a nation-wide effort to legally define “personhood” as beginning at the moment of conception. The testing ground for the initiative was Colorado, where the movement’s founder, an admirable 19 year-old by the name of Kristi Burton, hails from. The lowdown, according to Deal, is that,

Colorado voters turned down the amendment by a stunning 73 percent to 27 percent, in spite of support from Focus on the Family, American Life League, and legal advice from the Thomas More Law Center. But the effort had failed to gain the support of either National Right to Life (NRTL) or the Colorado Catholic Conference.

Whether or not that extra support would have resulted in a less unbalanced result, I cannot say. For those wondering why the Catholic Conference, and many American bishops are hesitant to embrace the PI, the concern was apparently that if it were taken to, and shot down by, the Supreme Court, it would have the effect of “actively reaffirm[ing] the mistaken jurisprudence of Roe.” According to Deal, however, some Catholic bishops are reconsidering their position on the PI.

Not long ago, in the context of the debate over the efforts of Bart Stupak and the pro-life Dems, I wrote about pro-life pragmatism. I argued that the much-derided “incrementalism” is actually the most viable way of winning the long-term war against the abortion industry in light of the facts about where the American electorate stands on abortion. With respect to the PI, and with all due respect to the founders and supporters of this movement, I must reaffirm that position.

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Pange Lingua Gloriosi

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Composed by Saint Thomas Aquinas for the Office of Corpus Christi (see CORPUS CHRISTI, FEAST OF). Including the last stanza (which borrows the words “Genitori Genitoque”—Procedenti ab utroque, Compar” from the first two strophes of the second sequence of Adam of St. Victor for Pentecost) the hymn comprises six stanzas appearing in the manuscripts

Pange, lingua, gloriosi corporis mysterium,
Sanguinisque pretiosi quem in mundi pretium
Fructus ventris generosi Rex effudit gentium.

Written in accentual rhythm, it imitates the triumphant march of the hymn of Fortunatus, and like it is divided in the Roman Breviary into stanzas of six lines whose alternating triple rhyming is declared by Pimont to be a new feature in medieval hymnody. In the  Roman Breviary the hymn is assigned to both Vespers, but of old the Church of Salisbury placed it in Matins, that of Toulouse in First Vespers only, that of Saint-Germain- des-Prés at Second Vespers only, and that of Strasburg at Compline. It is sung in the procession to the repository on Holy Thursday and also in the procession of Corpus Christi and in that of the Forty Hours’ Adoration.[1]

_._

[1] Henry, H. (1911). Pange Lingua Gloriosi. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved September 3, 2009 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11441c.htm

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