Father Z comments on the silencing of Sister Jane and his conclusions are sobering:
You probably saw my post Sister explains the situation. Spittle-flecked nutty, bullying, intimidation ensue.
Sr. Jane Laurel, OP, gave a talk at a Catholic High School. Hell broke loose.
If you want to sample her talks, go HERE. Her talk at the High School was “Masculinity & Femininity: Difference & Gift”. Presentations with that title are on that website. Listen to a few. At the High School, Sister included comments about homosexuality, divorce and single parents. Some people lost their minds. Read more here.
I suspect that what happened, to build this up into such a thing, is that parents heard vague reports – I say vague because teens are such great sources of accuracy in reporting – about her remarks from their politically-correctly conditioned children and, stung in conscience, got out the pitchforks and torches.
The nutty built up into grand mal nutty in the form of the increasingly inevitable “town hall” meeting.
Am I entirely off base here? Did Sister actually say things that were so outrageous, so unacceptable, so lacking in truth and in charity, that the resulting furor was appropriate, proportionate and justified? Really? Go listen to some of her talks using that link, above. Does it seem likely?
Now I read that Sister is going to have a sabbatical. HERE
It looks as if Alinsky’s Rules were at work here. “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself. … Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”
Look. This is just the starting line for some observations.
It seems to me that this sad episode is one of many which reveal the building in our midst of a mob mentality akin to that which drove the Salem Witch Trials. If you speak in public now with any clarity about the Church’s teachings on sexuality, marriage, etc., or avert to conclusions which rational people reach about the same derived from the Natural Law, you will be met with fury. “I saw Lizzie Procter speaking with the devil!” Well… bad example, since most of the people who will join the snarling pack likely don’t believe in the devil.
There is a new and twisted “normal” coalescing. This new “normal”, violating the dictates of reason, will prompt the more aggressive and ideologically driven to impose iron norms, which, when violated, will spark vicious attacks from the now easily manipulated mob.
Watching episode in Charlotte build, I had the image of one of those mobs protests a G8 meeting. In these mobs there are professional instigators, anarchists and so forth, who are dedicated to getting the crowd of the curious, the young, the dumb, the enthusiastic, etc., whipped up into a frenzy. Then, as the frenzy rises, someone pitches a garbage can through a shop window and the havoc begins.
What is happening in our society that accepts so readily the hounding to ruin of the head of some business because he says that he supports true, natural marriage and does not endorse homosexual unions?
Surely there is something of a mob mentality building, and swiftly. The speed is driven by the new phenomenon of social media arriving in your hand 24/7. It is also driven by the erosion of the ability of many to reason (thanks to decades of poor education) and incessant mass media exaltation of self-satisfaction and base carnality, which also switches off higher functions.
But there is also something of the demonic in this present movement. Continue reading
John C. Wright, Catholic convert and science fiction author, has a brilliant post at his blog, John Wright’s Journal, in which he examines the threat to freedom posed by the contemporary left:
It is darker than you think. Perhaps you have heard about speech codes on campus, about the intolerance of the Left, about their mob tactics, their fetid hypocrisy, and you thought we who complain about it were exaggerating.
You perhaps thought that, at least here in America, certain ideals and values were so much a part of our way of life, so deeply embedded into the hearts of the people, that there was no real threat to our beloved freedoms.
Those ideals and values are not a part of our way of life any longer. They have not been for twenty or thirty years. We are past the tipping point, and it will be a very, very difficult struggle to get back up the pebbly slope to the brink of the cliff down which we fell.
I could list any number of examples from my own field, starting with the expulsion of Theodore Beale from SWFA based on a false accusation by a leftist, going through my editor at Tor books having his child taken from him based on a false accusation, and ending with my agent at Tor books being fired due to a false accusation by a leftist.
I will content myself with a single item of evidence; you can find countless additional items from sources as wide ranging as the monstrous Peter Singer to the absurd Pajama Boy Ethan Krupp.
A creature named Korn writing in the Harvard Crimson calls for an end to Academic freedom.
I am not kidding, I am not exaggerating, and I am not making this up. Here is the link:
Allow me to quote at length, lest I be accused of misrepresenting the true sewer depth of evil being promoted here, the bland banality of the call for chains and gags. Continue reading
His Holiness Pope Francis was saddened to learn of the death of Baroness Margaret Thatcher. He recalls with appreciation the Christian values which underpinned her commitment to public service and to the promotion of freedom among the family of nations. Entrusting her soul to the mercy of God, and assuring her family and the British people of a remembrance in his prayers, the Holy Father invokes upon all whose lives she touched God’s abundant blessings.
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
Secretary of State
The gracelessness and blind hatred that governs much of the Left was put on full display with the death of Margaret Thatcher, the greatest prime minister Britain has had since World War 2, with organized street demonstrations “celebrating” her passing.
Thatcher, who personified the phrase “true grit”, I think would have welcomed their hate as the finest tribute to her work. She opposed the Left and its goal of an ever expanding state with all the wit, courage and eloquence she could muster, and she had a considerable store of all three qualities. This accolade from Milton Friedman in 1979 explains just what an extraordinary politician Thatcher was:
We have become so accustomed to politicians making extravagant campaign promises and then forgetting about them once elected that the first major act of Margaret Thatcher’s government— the budget unveiled on June 12—was a surprise. It did precisely what she had promised to do.
Margaret Thatcher campaigned on a platform of reversing the trend toward an ever more intrusive government—a trend that had carried government spending in Great Britain to somewhere between 50 per cent and 60 per cent of the nation’s income. Ever since the end of World War II, both Labor and Tory governments have added to government-provided social services as well as to government-owned and -operated industry. Foreign-exchange transactions have been rigidly controlled. Taxes have been punitive, yet have not yielded enough to meet costs. Excessive money created to finance deficits sparked an inflation that hit a rate of over 30 per cent a year in mid-1975. Only recently was inflation brought down to the neighborhood of 10 per cent, and it is once again on the rise.
Most important of all, the persistent move to a centralized and collectivist economy produced economic stagnation. Before World War II, the British citizen enjoyed a real income that averaged close to twice that of the Frenchman or German. Today, the ratio is nearly reversed. The Frenchman or German enjoys a real income close to twice that of the ordinary Briton.
Margaret Thatcher declared in no uncertain terms that the long British experiment was a failure. She urged greater reliance on private enterprise and on market incentives. She promised to reduce the fraction of the people’s income that government spends on their behalf, and to cut sharply government control over the lives of British citizens. Her government’s budget is a major first step. It reduces the top marginal tax rate on so-called “earned” income from 83 per cent to 60 per cent, on “unearned” income from a confiscatory 98 per cent to 75 per cent. At the same time, it raises the level of income exempt from income tax and cuts the bottom rate from 33 per cent to 30 per cent. It proposes to cut government spending significantly, to sell some of the government’s industrial holdings and to promote the sale of government-owned housing units to their occupants. It loosens foreign-exchange controls substantially as a first step toward their elimination.
One retrograde step, in my opinion, is an increase in indirect taxes—the British general sales taxes, or VAT. This increase, which partly offsets the decrease in direct taxes, combined with lower spending will reduce government borrowing, facilitating a restrained monetary policy and releasing funds for private investment. The purpose is admirable. However, once taxes are imposed, it is hard to cut them. From the long-run point of view, it seems to me preferable to resort to a temporarily higher level of borrowing rather than to a possibly permanently higher level of indirect taxes.
I would also have preferred to see exchange controls eliminated completely rather than by degrees. The controls serve no constructive purpose. Eliminating them gradually only prolongs the harm and preserves a mischievous bureaucracy.
But these are quibbles. I salute Margaret Thatcher and her government for their courage and wisdom in moving firmly and promptly to cut Britain’s bureaucratic straitjacket. Britain has enormous latent strength—in human capacities, industrial traditions, financial institutions, social stability. If these can be released from bondage, if incentive can be restored, Britain could once again become a vibrant, dynamic, increasingly productive economy. Continue reading
All we have of freedom, all we use or know—
This our fathers bought for us long and long ago.
Ancient Right unnoticed as the breath we draw—
Leave to live by no man’s leave, underneath the Law.
Lance and torch and tumult, steel and grey-goose wing
Wrenched it, inch and ell and all, slowly from the King.
Till our fathers ‘stablished, after bloody years,
How our King is one with us, first among his peers.
So they bought us freedom—not at little cost
Wherefore must we watch the King, lest our gain be lost,
Rudyard Kipling, The Old Issue
Give an A to Sarah Conly for boldly proclaiming what many of our liberal elites believe but are too wise to state openly:
our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
His one hundredth birthday is a good time to view the above video by Milton Friedman on the loss of freedom. Dead since 2006, Friedman’s words ring as true in 2012 as they did in 1980 when the video was taped, as to how our freedom is frittered away in ever greater reliance on an ever more powerful State.
The people who run the fast food chain Chick-fil-A are serious Christians. They close their 1,608 restaurants on Sundays even though they lose a huge amount of revenue doing so. The President of Chick-fil-A has spoken out against gay marriage. As a result Democrat politicians, who have as much understanding of freedom of speech as they do morality, have decided to punish a legal business.
First up was Thomas Menino, mayor of Boston, who sent an unintentionally hilarious letter to the president of the company. This Boston Herald editorial noted the humor:
But which part of the First Amendment does Menino not understand? A business owner’s political or religious beliefs should not be a test for the worthiness of his or her application for a business license.
Chick-fil-A must follow all state and city laws. If the restaurant chain denied service to gay patrons or refused to hire gay employees, Menino’s outrage would be fitting. And the company should be held to its statement that it strives to “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation, or gender.” But beyond the fact that Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays, the religious beliefs of the company’s top executive don’t appear to control its operations.
The situation was different when Northeastern University blocked a proposed Chick-fil-A amid student protests. In that case, a private institution made its own decision not to bring the company in as a vendor. But using the power of government to freeze the company out of a city sends a disturbing message to all businesses. If the mayor of a conservative town tried to keep out gay-friendly Starbucks or Apple, it would be an outrage.
Ironically, Menino is citing the specific location along the Freedom Trail as a reason to block Chick-fil-A. A city in which business owners must pass a political litmus test is the antithesis of what the Freedom Trail represents. History will render judgment on the views of Chick-fil-A executives. City Hall doesn’t have to.
Next up was Chicago’s mayor Rahm Emanuel, former Chief of Staff of President Obama. Ben Shapiro at Breitbart gives us the details: Continue reading
Beginning for two weeks, up to Independence Day, the Bishops are having a Fortnight For Freedom:
On April 12, the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a document, “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty,” outlining the bishops’ concerns over threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad. The bishops called for a “Fortnight for Freedom,” a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, from June 21-July 4.
Bishops in their own dioceses are encouraged to arrange special events to highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. Catholic institutions are encouraged to do the same, especially in cooperation with other Christians, Jews, people of other faiths and all who wish to defend our most cherished freedom.
The fourteen days from June 21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome. Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for religious liberty.
We here at The American Catholic are participating in the Fortnight For Freedom with special blog posts on each day. This is the first of these blog posts.
The video at the top of this post is a scene from the classic movie, The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941), based upon the short story by Stephen Vincent Benet, in which Daniel Webster bests Satan in a jury trial to save the soul of New Hampshireman Jabez Stone. In this scene Daniel Webster addresses a jury of the damned, all villains of American history. I have always thought this speech one of the most eloquent statements of what it means to be an American.
In regard to Freedom it reminds us that it is just not a word: Freedom is not just a big word — it is the bread and the morning and the risen sun. It was for freedom we came in boats and ships to these shores. It has been a long journey, a hard one, a bitter one. There is sadness in being a man, but it is a proud thing, too. Out of the suffering and the starvation, the wrong and the right, a new thing has come, a free man. When the whips of the oppressors are broken, and their names forgotten and destroyed, free men will be walking and talking under a free star. Yes, we have planted freedom here in this earth like wheat. This is the priceless treasure that Goverment encroachments like the HHS Mandate begin to take away from us.
Yesterday Pope Benedict capped off his visit to Cuba with a huge mass in Revolution Square in Havana. The theme of his homily, freedom, probably made the Cuban officials at the mass squirm, at least I certainly hope so. Here is the text of the Pope’s homily:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
“Blessed are you, Lord God…, and blessed is your holy and glorious name” (Dan 3:52). This hymn of blessing from the Book of Daniel resounds today in our liturgy, inviting us repeatedly to bless and thank God. We are a part of that great chorus which praises the Lord without ceasing. We join in this concert of thanksgiving, and we offer our joyful and confident voice, which seeks to solidify the journey of faith with love and truth.
“Blessed be God” who gathers us in this historic square so that we may more profoundly enter into his life. I feel great joy in being here with you today to celebrate Holy Mass during this Jubilee Year devoted to Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre.
I greet with cordial affection Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino, Archbishop of Havana, and I thank him for the kind words which he has addressed to me on your behalf. I extend warm greetings to the Cardinals and to my brother Bishops in Cuba and from other countries who wished to be in this solemn celebration. I also greet the priests, seminarians, men and women religious, and all the lay faithful gathered here, as well as the civil authorities who join us.
In today’s first reading, the three young men persecuted by the Babylonian king preferred to face death by fire rather than betray their conscience and their faith. They experienced the strength to “give thanks, glorify and praise God” in the conviction that the Lord of the universe and of history would not abandon them to death and annihilation. Truly, God never abandons his children, he never forgets them. He is above us and is able to save us by his power. At the same time, he is near to his people, and through his Son Jesus Christ he has wished to make his dwelling place among us in.
“If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (Jn 8:31). In this text from today’s Gospel, Jesus reveals himself as the Son of God the Father, the Saviour, the one who alone can show us the truth and give us genuine freedom. His teaching provokes resistance and disquiet among his hearers, and he accuses them of looking for reasons to kill him, alluding to the supreme sacrifice of the Cross, already imminent. Even so, he exhorts them to believe, to keep his word, so as to know the truth which redeems and justifies. Continue reading
As a young convert I was very much intrigued by the ongoing discussion between Richard J. Neuhaus, George Weigel, Michael Novak and Fr. Robert Sirico — and their critics, ranging from David Schindler (editor of Communio) to Tracey Rowland and Alisdair MacIntyre. This has sometimes been described as a debate between ‘Catholic neocons’ and ‘Catholic paleocons'; ‘Whig-Thomists’ vs. ‘Augustinian Thomists’ (the latter by Tracey Roland in a famous two-part interview with Zenit).
The discussion was centered on such questions as:
One of my chief sparring partners online was David Jones, founder of the blog la nouvelle theologie. While my time of late has been preoccupied with readings in other subjects (and other pursuits), David has kept up with new developments in this ongoing discussion. Among them, the recent exchanges between Catholic-traditionalist-turned-libertarian Dr. Thomas Woods and his chief critics, Thomas Storck and Christopher Ferrara (of The Remnant)– about which David would like to offer the following remarks in a guest post:
In the Mass Readings last Sunday, for the reading from the Old Testament we had Nathan the Prophet denouncing King David for his sin of adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of her husband Uriah the Hittite after Bathsheba became pregnant with his child. It is a familiar tale for us, and the familiarity conceals from us just how remarkable it is and how important for us it is, not just in a religious sense but also in our secular lives.
A forgotten masterpiece from Hollywood, King David (1951), helps remind us of the importance of the two great sins of David and their aftermath. David is well-portrayed by Gregory Peck. No longer the shepherd boy, he is now an increasingly world-weary King. God who was close to him in his youth now seems distant. Rita Hayworth gives a solid performance as Bathsheba, David’s partner in sin. The best performance of the film is by Raymond Massey as Nathan. Each word he utters is with complete conviction as he reveals the word of God to those too deafened by sin to hear it. In the video clip above we see this when David attempts to argue that the soldier who died when he touched the Ark of the Covenant may have died of natural causes. “All causes are of God”, Nathan responds without hesitation. He warns David that he has been neglecting his duties and that the people are discontent.
A trailer for a documentary from the Acton Institute. This documentary examines the role of Judaism and Christianity in creating the conditions which led to the concept of human freedom cherished in the West. A number of short clips from the video are available on-line and I will be using them in posts in the days to come. In regard to the trailer I would state the following propositions for discussion: (1) The clash between Church and State that characterized Western Europe in the Middle Ages was a fundamental pre-condition for the concept of limited government as it developed in the West; (2) the insistence of the Church that all men and women were equal in the eyes of God established the basis for the concept of human rights; and (3) that as a Western society becomes divorced from its religious roots the very concept of freedom as it has been understood in the West becomes difficult to maintain from a philosophical standpoint.
When Catholics justified their decision to vote for Obama, they did so on two grounds: healthcare and foreign policy. The premise was Obama would actually save lives through healthcare and through his more peaceful foreign policy, thus outweighing the damage he would do through his promotion of abortion.
I never found that premise convincing. Not only did I think they underestimated the damage abortion does, but I also believed that they were ignoring what Barack Obama was actually promoting in his foreign policy. To make a long story short, I think most people assumed that since Obama was a Democrat who had opposed the war in Iraq that he would be the opposite of Bush when in truth their positions are very similar.
Since taking office, Obama has largely followed the lead of his predecessor. However today news is coming out that he has surpassed his predecessor in circumventing due process: Obama has authorized the CIA to kill a US citizen believed to be involved in terrorism (H/t Vox Nova).
The idea that an American citizen can be killed without a trial outside of battle is a troubling one, regardless of whether you voted for Obama or not. The death penalty is something that should be used only rarely (if at all-I’m w/ the bishops that it’s not good in modern America), and if used then used in the context of a trial. The rights of trial are not merely procedural technicalities but safeguards designed to protect the dignity of life: that is, regardless of what someone has done, freedom & human life itself are so precious that we take it away only after a deliberate and careful process.
To take away human life outside of self-defense is a power no one, including the President, possesses. One will hope that the media will publish this and emphasize it so that public pressure will dissuade Obama from taking this course of action. Unfortunately, one has to doubt that that hope will be realized.
The cross-blog discussion that was initiated on the topic of “social sin” has now evolved into a debate over the origins and causes of sin. In response to my post on social sin, Nate Wildermuth at Vox Nova posted his own ideas about the relationship between society and sin, forthrightly admitting that he was going to “venture into heretical pastures” in doing so.
My intention here is not to beat up on Nate. He has expressed to me that he feels I may not be understanding his argument, though I do believe I have made the attempt in earnest. Rather than dissect in detail his argument once again, I am going to put forth here what I already placed in a com-box, but would like to open up to wider discussion – that is, my own view of sin and human freedom. Then Nate or anyone else may issue whatever challenges they like to any of my premises or conclusions, and perhaps we will have some clarity on the issue.
This is a clip of Ronald Reagan warning us of socialized medicine, the very same bill that President Obama and the Democratic Party are trying to ram through congress.
Reagan warns us of how people such as six-time presidential Socialist Party candidate Norman Thomas, and many others, explained how to move their agenda of achieving a socialist state by a Foot-in-the-Door policy of socialized medicine. Which is eerily similar to what President Obama and the Democrats are doing, against the will of the people with their European socialized health care bill.
In a story those in homeschooling stories may already have heard about, Federal Judge Lawrence Burman issued a ruling in late January granting political asylum to a family of Evangelical Christians from Germany, on the basis that they faced religious persecution in Germany over their belief that they needed to homeschool their children in order to provide them with proper religious formation. With a number of writers, both American and European, pursuing a narrative in which Europe is far more civilized and tolerant than the US, this event provides an interesting example of how European laws are often, in practice, far more restrictive than people in the US would be comfortable with.
The family in question had suffered repeated fines for homeschooling their children, and had been threatened with jail time or loss of custody.
Uwe and Hannelore Romeike, who are evangelical Christians, say they were forced to go the the US because they wanted to educate their five children at home, something that is illegal in Germany….
In October 2006, police came to the Romeike home and took the children to school. In November 2007 Germany’s highest appellate court ruled that in severe cases of non-compliance, social services could even remove children from home.
Uwe Romeike told the Associated Press that the 2007 ruling convinced him and his wife that “we had to leave the country.” The curriculum in public schools over the past few decades has been “more and more against Christian values,” he said.
Archbishop George H. Niederauer of San Francisco addressed on January 13, 2010 a free will defense of abortion by Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House:
In a recent interview with Eleanor Clift in Newsweek magazine (Dec. 21, 2009), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked about her disagreements with the United States Catholic bishops concerning Church teaching. Speaker Pelosi replied, in part: “I practically mourn this difference of opinion because I feel what I was raised to believe is consistent with what I profess, and that we are all endowed with a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions. And that women should have the opportunity to exercise their free will.”
Embodied in that statement are some fundamental misconceptions about Catholic teaching on human freedom. These misconceptions are widespread both within the Catholic community and beyond. For this reason I believe it is important for me as Archbishop of San Francisco to make clear what the Catholic Church teaches about free will, conscience, and moral choice.
Catholic teaching on free will recognizes that God has given men and women the capacity to choose good or evil in their lives. The bishops at the Second Vatican Council declared that the human person, endowed with freedom, is “an outstanding manifestation of the divine image.” (Gaudium et Spes, No. 17) As the parable of the Grand Inquisitor in Dostoevsky’s novel, The Brothers Karamazov, makes so beautifully clear, God did not want humanity to be mere automatons, but to have the dignity of freedom, even recognizing that with that freedom comes the cost of many evil choices.
I was talking with a relative recently who was telling me about an incident a while back where the maintenance staff at the building he worked at had gone on strike and were picketing the building. Emails had gone out from the building management telling people not to get into arguments or cause incidents with the picketers, and it became a source of quite a bit of topic around the office. My relative was amused to hear expressed several times the sentiment, “That’s what makes our country different from the rest of the world. Here, they have the freedom to hold a protest like that.”
It if, of course, true that they have the freedom to picket their employer here. However, that’s not necessarily a contrast with the rest of the developed world. They could do the same in thing in Canada, or the UK or France or Germany, etc. There is, as my relative pointed out, a tendency at times for Americans to assume that because our country was very consciously founded in order to secure certain freedoms, that this means that people who don’t live in the US don’t have the same freedoms. Obviously, some don’t. One’s freedom of political and economic expression is severely limited if you live in North Korea or China or Cuba or some such nation. But there are many other countries in which people enjoy basically all the same freedoms that we do.
This American tendency to assume that we are the only ones to enjoy the freedoms outlined in our Bill of Rights is something which very much annoys many people who consider the US to be dangerously nationalistic, or who would prefer that we see the US as just one other region, not better or worse than others. Continue reading