So many books! So little time!

Monday, December 13, AD 2010

So many books! So little time! And, unfortunately, not enough to afford them all. Erasmus’ motto, “When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes” worked during college, but is hard to get away with once you’re married with children and have a spouse to answer to. =)

We’ve heard much lately of Pope Benedict’s interview with Peter Seewald: Light of the World: The Pope, The Church and The Signs Of The Times, regarding which Ignatius Press’ Carl Olson has been doing a magnificent job rounding up reviews and discussion across the web; and George Weigel’s “sequel” to his reknowned autobiography of John Paul II: The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II — The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy, and Patrick W. Carey’s biography Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ: A Model Theologian.

Here are a few more on the horizon that might be of interest to our readers (and which are definitely on my “to read” list from 2010).

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3 Responses to So many books! So little time!

Captain Blood and History

Sunday, December 5, AD 2010

I love history.  To me it is endlessly fascinating, the never ending chronicle of the triumphs and tragedies of mankind, filled with adventure, courage, cowardice, wisdom, folly and all those elements that make great novels.  I therefore find it  distressing that so many people think history is dull and are indifferent or even hostile to it.  Distressing but understandable.  Too many historians seem to write with the unstated desire to make their subject matter as dull and dreary as they can manage.  A useful corrective to this are good historical novels, which can often awake  in readers a love of history.  One of the great practioners of the craft was Rafael Sabatini.

Writing at the end of the Nineteenth and the first half of the Twentieth, Sabatini wrote with color and verve and his historical novels, the best known of which is Captain Blood, were historically accurate as well as being vastly entertaining. Children can often come to love history if it is demonstrated to them that it does not have to be dull, and a great historical novel can help accomplish this.

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8 Responses to Captain Blood and History

  • Thank you!

    Hooray for Captain Blood!

    And here’s a (gesture) for Lord Jeffries!

  • To me, many historical writers seem to be feverishly working to make “their subject matter as dull and dreary as they can manage”, most of the rest are revising history to support their current world views.

    For Catholics interesting in the “world war” fought in the 16th century between the protestants and Catholics a fine history would be Garrett Mattingly’s The Armada. In one volume he gives a comprehensive overview of that entire campaign from all the various angles and sides.

  • Captain Blood is indeed an excellent work, and Sabatini at his best rivals Scott quite easily, to my mind. Thanks for the post.

  • Thank you gentlemen. Even before I became an attorney, my favorite part of Captain Blood was the courtroom back and forth between Peter Blood and Chief Justice Lord Jefferies. Alas I cannot find the whole brilliant sequence on line, but here is the ending:

  • One of the great things about Sabatini is that a great deal of his work (including three of his four most famous novels: Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk and Scaramouche) are all in the public domain (see Project Gutenberg or So, if you can read them for free on any device that supports ebooks like the Kindle or a Smartphone.

    I will say that one problem I had with Captain Blood though is that it is at least somewhat anti-Catholic. Its a fun read, but the villains are all Catholic (or Catholic sympathizers) and the heros are all Protestant.


  • A point Bill, although ironically Peter Blood is Catholic, at least when it suits him to be.

Waiting for Blood

Tuesday, November 23, AD 2010

I’ve been ending day lately with an hour or two of reading Jose Maria Gironella’s, The Cypresses Believe in God, a massive novel set on the eve of the Spanish Civil War. Given the novel’s sheer size, and that it starts out spending so much time just giving a sense of early 30s Spain as a place and time, as the civil war itself begins to approach one feels with the characters a certain creeping unreality, as the descent of politics and then society as a whole into factional violence seems to become first imaginable, then possible, and finally inevitable.

Having fallen asleep, as it were, in 1935 Catalonia, it was with an odd sense of unreality that I clicked on a link this morning and found a New York Times columnist declaring it impossible to work with his political opponents peacefully and darkly predicting “there will be blood”.

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13 Responses to Waiting for Blood

  • That is not news.

    In the 1960’s and 1970’s, violence was their (SDS, weathermen, SLA, black panthers, etc.) MO.

    I don’t read the NYT. It’s replete with detritus – class envy, distortions, exaggerations, fabrications, class hatred, omissions, left-wing ideology.

    The totalitarians have been waging class war for over 100 years. Until recently, the liberals’ program was to disarm we the people so they could “peacefully” take away our liberties and property.

    I was a boy scout. Be prepared.

    PS: imagine if Sarah Palin, or any other tea party fanatic, said or wrote such hate-filled nonsense.

  • Gironella’s trilogy is the finest novel I have ever read. It is impossible to claim to understand the Spanish Civil War without reading it. Krugman is a highly educated jackass.

  • I recall reading the memoirs of a nationalist fighter pilot, Combat Over Spain, where he mentions that an anarchist decided to shoot up his sister’s wedding for no appreciable reason, this was before the Spanish Civl War, leaving her blind. The remarkable thing to me is that he mentions it so matter of factly, as one would discuss a relative who had experienced an injury in a car crash. When political violence becomes that endemic in a society, normal life becomes a cold war that inevitably will become a hot one. I think the US will be spared this, in spite of the maunderings of idiots like Krugman.

  • Krugman strikes a properly combative pose to go with his article. Somebody help him before he bursts a blood vessel

  • I think, for the most part, both parties are to blame. Both the democrats and republicans are more interested in grabbing and holding onto as much power as they can, and both sides will use any technique they think they can get away with to do.

    The extension of the Bush Tax cuts is an example of this. The majority of democrats and republicans agree on extending the cuts for all but people making over $250,000. Neither side is willing to compromise on this last little bit, despite the fact that they both agree on 90% of the total.

    Now this is an issue of tax policy. While I am sure one can argue that the taxes on those making $250,000+ a year are too high (or not high enough depending on your perspective), this really can’t be an issue of principal here like it might be for issues like abortion or the wars we are fighting.

    Both sides seem to be letting all of us take a tax hit (since even the those making more than $250,000 will keep the tax cuts for income up to that amount) to score points with their base.

  • The good news is that Krugman isn’t representative of anything other than a small slice of elite opinion. The man immolated his credibility by defending Obama’s annihilating deficit spending after railing for years against Bush’s smaller (but still problematic) deficits.

    Partisan shills aren’t a good barometer of overall public opinion.

  • The irony is that by recklessly impugning other people’s motives and character, Krugman has done more than his share to poison political discourse for nearly ten years now. In so doing, he sacrificed his reputation among the bulk of those of that public which reads topical commentary as well as damaging his reputation among economists. What he got out of it, who knows?

    Argentina endured a violent economic contraction and multiple political crises without much more than some riots, so I would not pay too much attention to this prognostication. Still, if he want’s to bring it on, he ought to remember that the American military likely does not have a network of Grand-Orient lodges to be mobilized on behalf of neo-Jacobins and Marxists and that Manuel Azana died in exile, broke and alone.

  • “What he got out of it, who knows?”

    A Nobel Prize?

  • Phillip stole my answer.

    The last few years has proven that the quickest route to winning some prize or the other is to trash conservatives (see, e.g., Krugman, Gore, Carter, Obama, Katie Couric, Kathleen Parker, Tina Fey, etc.)

  • Actually, he won the John Bates Clark medal about 20 years ago. He was authentically respected for his theoretical work in the economics of trade. As far as I am aware, he has not published applied research in macroeconomics, nor has he published theoretical or applied work in finance. He is channelling other economists when he is writing on the current situation.

    He also wrote topical commentary and general interest books which were not sectarian pieces. They were favorably reviewed in National Review ,among other places. About ten years ago, he did a complete about face and began writing what he writes now. Why is a mystery.

    Sorry to be literal-minded, but Kathleen Parker is about the only person on that list whose career of late has benefitted from trashing Republicans, et al, becuase it makes her a useful mannequin on CNN and op-ed pages.

  • I suppose my point is that each of the people I listed have won major prizes over the last few years, the justification for which can only be explained as their having received either the “Not Named George W. Bush Award” or the “Outstanding Achievment in Anti-Palinism Award”.

  • When elitists like Krugman start whining about how the country is “ungovernable”, watch out.

    It wasn’t too long ago that Thomas Friedman of the same publication lauded the the Chinese government. These people are intoxicated by power, they believe that sufficiently enlightened and educated will can bring order to chaos (much of which government caused in the first place).

    Whereas I believe that if the government would simply protect our natural rights, we would do that all on our own.

  • Gore, Carter, and Obama all won the Nobel Peace Prize, which originates in the Norwegian legislature and is of scant value except for the cash. (Or if it did mean something, awarding it to B.O. promptly debased it thoroughly). I would say you’re right, though. I hadn’t thought of that.

Proxy Morality: Taking Sides in History

Tuesday, August 10, AD 2010

Generally speaking, I think we would say that moral behavior consists of choosing to do right in one’s actions. However, there are a number of instances in which we tend to think of ourselves as behaving virtuously despite not having actually undertaken any action. These are means by which we tell ourselves that we have demonstrated we are “good people” without the burden of actually doing good things.

There are several different ways we do this which I’d like to address under the description of “proxy morality”, by which I mean instances in which someone assigns virtue to himself through no more action than identifying himself with some good which is performed by someone else. The first of these, one which I think people of all ideological persuasions fall into at times, is that of taking sides in history.

It is by now an old saw that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it, and I think there is a good deal of truth in this. Further, it can be of some moral benefit for us to look to history for people and actions to admire. The moment in which we find ourselves suddenly faced with some difficult moral decision is typically not the moment at which are most un-biased or deliberative, and so having clear examples to follow, if they are well chosen, can be a significant benefit.

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3 Responses to Proxy Morality: Taking Sides in History

Science and Technology in World History

Monday, July 5, AD 2010

Technological history is a unique point of view that always caught my eye.  David Deming of the American Thinker gives us a brief synopsis of his latest contribution in this genre.  Keep in mind how integral Christianity was to the recovery of Europe after the barbarian invasions and the safekeeping of knowledge by the monastic system that allowed Europe to recover and blossom into what we now call Western Civilization:

Both Greece and Rome made significant contributions to Western Civilization.  Greek knowledge was ascendant in philosophy, physics, chemistry, medicine, and mathematics for nearly two thousand years.  The Romans did not have the Greek temperament for philosophy and science, but they had a genius for law and civil administration.  The Romans were also great engineers and builders.  They invented concrete, perfected the arch, and constructed roads and bridges that remain in use today.  But neither the Greeks nor the Romans had much appreciation for technology.  As documented in my book, Science and Technology in World History, Vol. 2, the technological society that transformed the world was conceived by Europeans during the Middle Ages.

Greeks and Romans were notorious in their disdain for technology.  Aristotle noted that to be engaged in the mechanical arts was “illiberal and irksome.”  Seneca infamously characterized invention as something fit only for “the meanest slaves.”  The Roman Emperor Vespasian rejected technological innovation for fear it would lead to unemployment.

Greek and Roman economies were built on slavery.  Strabo described the slave market at Delos as capable of handling the sale of 10,000 slaves a day.  With an abundant supply of manual labor, the Romans had little incentive to develop artificial or mechanical power sources. Technical occupations such as blacksmithing came to be associated with the lower classes.

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2 Responses to Science and Technology in World History

  • The Europeans developed the stirrup which made possible heavy cavalry of armored knights. Before that cavalry rode in on the flanks of infantry and either fired arrows or threw javelins. Then retired. With the stirrup, the knight would remain on his war horse even waffter he skewered his foe.

    In my wasted youth (I was drinking more tha I was thinking) I had to take a course in European history in the Middle Ages. One of the books assigned was on technological developments in the Age. That was Spring 1970.

  • Could this be why BHO has just made ‘reaching out to the Muslim world’ foremost mission for NASA?

    That’s a great idea, they are killing us with low tech, so we should help them acquire high-tech so they can kill us better. Liberals are so smart.

David, Nathan and Freedom

Monday, June 14, AD 2010

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.

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4 Responses to David, Nathan and Freedom

  • Today is Flag Day and the 235th anniversary of the United States Army.

    Pray for our gallant troops!

    Pray for Victory and Peace!

    God bless America!

  • The essence of this story of David and Nathan was captured by a French priest, Fr. Louis Evely, several years ago in his inspiring book “That Man is You”. Anyone who is interested in deepening their understanding of Christ’s message and/or increasing their insight of the Word of God should try to find a copy of this heart awakening read. You’ll never want to part with it because it opens ones eyes to the light of truth like no other.

    It has been out of print for some time but well worth a search for this treasure.

  • This Old Testament reading is an important one in the field of Catholic Apologetics.

    Most if not all protestants deny that the priest has the authority to forgive sin in the sacrament of Penance; that a priest is not needed, we can go straight to Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins.

    However, in this passage of scripture, we see Nathan being given the authority by God to forgive David his heinous sin, and the penance is the death of his son born to Bathsheba from their illicit union.

    This is a clear scriptural precedent for confession of sins to a priest. Of course, the protestants have other arguments, but they will not deny the scripture.

  • Good post. My comment is here:

    My point of view may be a bit different. And no, I am not a troglodyte. I simply despise and loathe liberalism and progressivism.

Inventing Jesus

Thursday, June 3, AD 2010

Ross Douthat has a good post on his NY Times blog responding to Adam Gopnik’s New Yorker piece on the search for “the historical Jesus”.

James Tabor, a professor of religious studies, in his 2006 book “The Jesus Dynasty,” takes surprisingly seriously the old Jewish idea that Jesus was known as the illegitimate son of a Roman soldier named Pantera—as well attested a tradition as any [emphasis mine — RD], occurring in Jewish texts of the second century, in which a Jesus ben Pantera makes several appearances, and the name is merely descriptive, not derogatory.

The whole problem with two centuries worth of historical Jesus scholarship is summed up in those seven words: “As well attested a tradition as any.” Because obviously if you don’t mind a little supernaturalism with your history, a story about Jesus being a Roman soldier’s bastard that dates from the second century — and late in the second century, at that — is dramatically less “well attested” than the well-known tradition (perhaps you’ve heard of it) that Jesus was born of a virgin married to Joseph the carpenter, which dates from the 70s or 80s A.D. at the latest, when the Gospels of Luke and Matthew were composed. Bracket the question of miracles, and there’s really no comparison: Giving the Roman soldier story equal weight with the accounts in Matthew and Luke is like saying that a tale about Abraham Lincoln that first surfaced in the 1970s has just as much credibility as a story that dates to the 1890s (and is associated with eyewitnesses to Lincoln’s life).

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5 Responses to Inventing Jesus

  • I’m not holding my breath for the “New Yorker” hit piece on the historical Muhammed.

  • Good quote and good subject — it’s easily one of my favorites (which I think might be obvious).

  • People invent their own gods, so why not invent some history while they’re at it? 🙂

  • This of course all comes from the anti-Christian writer Celsus. Go to the link below to read all about it.

    This recycling of a hostile Jewish slur against Jesus, was of course something unknown at the time of Jesus because it was invented after the fact as Christianity converted many Jewish congregations, and ill-will became the norm between the two faiths.

    The Gospels relate many slurs against Jesus, including the charge that he was possessed by demons, so our earliest source materials do mention what adversaries were saying, without a hint of this being mentioned. Tacitus, a pagan Roman senator who mentions Jesus in his writings circa 118 AD, says nothing of this.

  • Here is another “as well attested a tradition as any” (related by Cassius Dion through Edward Gibbon) that academics ought to take seriously: Simon Bar Kokba.

    “During Roman times the Jews were exceptionally intractable. They were unable to endure contact with others not of their race. They reacted with extreme vigor and obsession with ‘purity.’ They feared death less than the profanity of idolatry. They violently revolted when forced to pay taxes to idolaters.

    “The possibly mythic Zionist arch-hero Barchachebas –’Simon Bar Kokba’ – led an infamous messianic revolt against Rome during Emperor Hadrian’s reign – circa 135 AD. Humanity was shocked at the recital of the horrid cruelties they committed in Egypt, Cyrene, and Cyprus where they dwelt in treacherous “friendship” with the unsuspecting natives. They committed furious massacres: Cyrene – 220,000 dead; Cyprus – 240,000 dead, Egypt – uncounted dead. Mutilations and atrocities were recorded.” See Dion Cassius and Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

Enemies No Longer

Monday, May 31, AD 2010

The American Civil War was the bloodiest in our history, a total war of attrition waged on our own territory, which an at times none to congenial peace. It is, thus, all the more inspiring to read about the reunion which was held at Gettysburg in 1913, celebrating the 50th anniversary of one of the war’s bloodiest battles. An open invitation was made to all those who had served in either army, north or south, and been honorably discharged, and more than 50,000 men came to the three day event.

Personnel from the United States Army Quartermaster Corps and Engineer Corps arrived at Gettysburg National Military Park in 1912 to plan military and civilian support for the encampment. The engineers surveyed the field adjacent to the fields of “Pickett’s Charge” where they laid out the arrangement for “The Great Camp”, divided into areas for Union veterans and for Confederate veterans. Soldiers installed utility systems, erected hundreds of tents to house the veterans, built picnic tables, benches, and boardwalks throughout the camp. By the first of June the sprawling Great Camp occupied 280 acres, included 47 1/2 miles of avenues and company streets, was lit by 500 electric arc lights, and 32 bubbling ice water fountains were installed. Over 2,000 army cooks and bakers manned 173 field kitchens, ready to provide three hot meals per day for veterans and camp personnel alike….

The first veterans arrived on June 25 and within days the Great Camp swelled to overflowing. Every veteran was provided a cot and bedding in a tent that would hold eight men. Meals were served from a kitchen at the end of each company street and varied from fried chicken suppers to roast pork sandwiches with ice cream for desert. By the end of the reunion, the army kitchens had supplied over 688,000 meals to reunion participants. Invariably the days were hot and the thermometer topped 102 degrees on July 2. Heat exhaustion and physical fatigue resulted in hospitalization of several hundred veterans. Over 9,980 patients were treated by medical personnel for ailments ranging from heat exhaustion to stomach disorders. Remarkably, only nine veterans passed away during the week-long encampment. Despite the heat and often dusty conditions, nothing could keep the aged men in camp and hundreds wandered the battlefield. Many visited battle sites where they or their comrades had been fifty years before. Confederate veterans especially were pleased to find old cannon mounted on metal carriages to mark the locations where their batteries had been during that fateful battle. Invariably, the presence of khaki-clad US Army personnel caused a lot of excitement. The soldiers were there to guard camp supplies, give demonstrations, and provide services to the veterans who delighted themselves discussing the modern weapons of war. Many an aged veteran was eager to explain how much things had changed in fifty years to any soldier who was handy and army personnel were constantly entertained by the old soldiers at every turn. [source]

One of the major events of the reunion was a reenactment of Pickett’s Charge. Confederate veterans assembled to walk the three-quarters-of-a-mile across open fields towards Union lines, retracing the charge which on which fifty years before 12,500 men had set out and suffered 50% casualties. As union veterans watched the men in gray approaching them across the field again, many eyes were far from dry. And as the Confederate veterans approached the wall, their old adversaries broke ranks and came forward to meet them, not with lead and steel this time, but with the embraces of friendship.

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One Response to Enemies No Longer

  • All war, particularly civil war, is immensely sad.
    I watched a doco today on the civil war in Sierra Leone – what a heart-wrenching, brutal and incomprehensible war that was. The effects are still destroying 40% of the population.

    It is an amzing thing that the reconciliation of combatants can happen so spontaneously – kind of Godlike, don’t you think?

Brits Forgetting Winston Churchill

Thursday, May 13, AD 2010

Hattip to Allahpundit at Hot Air.  One in five British adults were unable to identify a picture of Winston Churchill in a recent survey.

As part of the survey, carried out to mark this week’s 70th anniversary of Churchill’s prime ministerial tenure, more than 1,136 people were asked to identify three prominent 20th century PMs including Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair.

One in five (19%) adults failed to name Churchill, with the figure rising to 32% of 25 to 34-year-olds and 44% of those aged 16 to 24.

Following the pattern, researchers projected the rough date when the leaders would no longer be recognised, with Churchill’s demise predicted in 80 years’ time…

The survey, which involved people naming black and white headshot photos of the prime ministers, saw Churchill mistaken for Stephen Fry, Robert Hardy, Michael Gambon, Charlie Chaplin, Oliver Hardy, John Betjeman and Roy Hattersley, the Royal Mint said…

Kevin Clancy, head of Historical Services at the Royal Mint, added: “It’s shocking that one of our greatest statesmen runs the risk of potentially being forgotten.

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12 Responses to Brits Forgetting Winston Churchill

  • Pathetic.

  • I should add don’t blame the schools, Don. They are busy with more important things like teaching the kids “how” to learn and ensuring high self-esteem. Who cares what happened 50 years ago?” The dude was probably just some old white guy.

  • True Mike. The schools obviously have to keep their priorities straight: politics and sensitivity first, knowledge if there is time.

    The truly dismal aspect of this is that more than a few of the teachers are probably not that clear on Churchill, probably dimly remembering him from a politicized survey course on British History they took in high school or college.

  • Perhaps I’ve found a way to make children reconnect with Churchill:

  • I bet more than 1 in 5 Americans won’t be able to identify FDR. School is where you’re locked up while your parents work. We learn from TV.

  • “We learn from TV.”

    God help us all.

  • Yet only in 2002 Winston Churchill was voted the greatest Briton by over 500,000 votes. A little more representative than 1000 in this survey. Besides which if the poll was taken in London then it is almost like the pool was undertaken in a foreign country, London is so cosmopolitan now.

    Saying that, we live in a culture which recognises only youth and celeb gossip which is a fairly recent import from the USA, (thank you USA!!). If you’re not in the media ever other day then you aren’t anyone!!

  • Sorry for the typo, it should have been ‘poll’, not pool.

    I live about 15 miles from Sir Winston Churchill’s family home – Chartwell which is now part of the National Trust. Visting there is like stepping through history, letters from all the world leaders during World War II and post war. Gifts from all over the world in gratitude for his efforts and with a library full of books he’d written. I came out feeling very insignificant. I learnt more there than in all the lessons at school.

  • If we learn everything from TV, then I suspect that Britons would fare better in this poll if taken today. Mr. Churchill appeared in an episode of Dr. Who a few weeks ago, so he should by now be readily identifiable. 🙂

  • Bear in mind the article was in the UK newspaper the Daily Mail, I was once offered a
    copy free with a Latte and refused to accept it. My dad used to read
    it and it always wanted to make me slit my wrists.

    On the wider note about engaging the younger generation, I have twin
    boys of 14 and if anything as a result of the likes of the History
    channel etc they have a better appreciation of history and WW2 than I
    ever did at their age. They have recently come back from a WW1 tour of
    Belgium, we didn’t do that sort of thing when I was a lad.
    I wrote a book with my boys in mind called Churchill’s Secret Skills
    which takes Winston’s WW2 talents for running the war and applies them
    to modern business. I figured if I could keep them interested enough
    to read it through to the end then I had just about pitched it right.
    You have to keep it engaging and throw in as much humour as possible.
    Teenage kids are a tough crowd

  • I can sort of understand mistaking him for Oliver Hardy by a photograph.

  • I bet plenty of British school kids have heard of the Spitfire, though.

A Papal Audience in Autumn 1941

Sunday, May 9, AD 2010

Venerable Pius XII always believed that it was part of his duties as Pope to be accessible to virtually everyone who wished to see him.  His audiences would normally be crowded as a result.  In the autumn of 1941 he held an audience which was no different.  Italians, pilgrims of all nations, German soldiers (German soldiers flocked to see the Pope until the Nazis forbade such visits, fearing the influence the words of the Pope, in direct contradiction to the doctrines of National Socialism,  might have on the Landsers.), humanity from across the globe, all eager to see, and perhaps have a word with, the Vicar of Christ on Earth.

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6 Responses to A Papal Audience in Autumn 1941

Devon, England, Laying Claim to Americas Lost Colony

Saturday, May 8, AD 2010

I found this article by Andrew Hough of London’s Daily Telegraph quite interesting since it touches on the Lost Colony which is sometimes called the Roanoke Colony in present day North Carolina.

The Lost Colony is the first English attempt of setting up a settlement in the new world, ie, present day America.

The following is the article on the residents of Devon, England, laying claim that they were the original colonists of this Lost Colony:

Andy Powell, mayor of Bideford, north Devon, wants to use DNA testing to prove residents from the port town settled in the US three decades before the Pilgrim Fathers sailed there.

Mr Powell is trying to raise money for the research, which he hopes will prove his town’s “pivotal” role in the history of modern America.

He hopes advances in the science will enable scientists to link people from Bideford with descendants of a lost colonist.

His attempts centre on the story of the “lost colony”, where in 1587 Sir Walter Raleigh organised a colonial expedition of settlers including John White, a governor.

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3 Responses to Devon, England, Laying Claim to Americas Lost Colony

  • That’s so awsome. He sounds like the most fun mayor in England.

  • My Lumbee ancestors have said for hundreds of years (oral history even today) that we are descendants of Manteos Tribe and the colonists. It would be so amazing if the DNA backs up our oral histories. If so, we will finally have the ‘written proof and scientific proof’ to validate the oral histories of our forefathers. 🙂

  • I’m living half the time in Edenton, NC, and have visited Roanoke Island several times, read a dozen good recent histories on this subject, and would like anyone who has a similar interest to contact me..My own belief, shared by several recent studies/books, is that the 126 Lost Colonists did not head northward to the Chesapeake Bay area; but westward, on the Albemarle Sound and could have settled in what is the Dare County Peninsula (Beechtown and Sandy Ridge areas in what is not the Alligator National Wildlife Refuge) immediately to the west of Roanoke Island; also, some may have gone to what is today, Buxton, on the Outer Banks; others may have easily made their way further west about 65+ miles, to the western (inland) end of the Albemarle Sound, near Cashie, Chowan, and Roanoke rivers–all which empty into the Sound in that location. Very likely too that some of them became part of the Lumbee Indian tribe–as well as other tribes existing at that time, near the coastal plains near the Sound.

Traditionalism vs. Classical Liberalism on Liberties

Friday, March 5, AD 2010

One of the continuing trends of agrument, in the insular intellectual cage match which is the political Catholic blogsphere, is whether classical liberalism (of the sort seen in the Scottish Enlightenment and among the founders of the US) is an individualist ideology which is unacceptable from a Catholic point of view.

Something which it strikes me as reasonable to consider in this regard is that classical liberalism, with it’s definition of individual rights, was in many ways a reaction to new trends in Monarchy. The 1600s and 1700s had seen the restraints which tradition, the Church and simple lack of communication and resources had traditionally placed monarchies fade away. Through much of Europe, monarchies became more centralized and absolute, less traditional. In Britain, this (combined with economic and religious tensions) let to the English Civil War, and by the early 1700s English monarchy had been successfully limited and existed essentially at the sufference of Parliament and the liberties of the unwritten English constitution. On the continent, however, the drive towards absolutism continued.

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6 Responses to Traditionalism vs. Classical Liberalism on Liberties

  • Good post Darwin, and you are right.

    The rights of Englishmen that were asserted by the American colonists dated back to the Magna Carta, if not further, before even the Norman Conquest. And Jefferson did not “copy” John Locke in writing the Declaration, as so many seem to think. He may well have been influenced by Catholic political thought!

  • Diane Moczar’s summary of the medieval political order:

    “Authority from above, democracy from below”.

    You had the communal governance of open-field villages, chartered boroughs, merchant republics, provincial estates & estates-general and a considerable body of customary law. Within the Church, you had the general chapters of religious orders. Conciliar, deliberative, and elective institutions were not a modern innovation, and the Church co-existed with them for centuries.

  • It is interesting to note how much the civic republicanism of the Romans impacted the American founding. We don’t discuss this much by comparison to the French enlightenment and the British thinkers.

    Razib Khan recently had an enlightening post related to this in the context of the American founding:

    I’ve always thought American colonists could be generalized by three strands: Enlightenment thought, moralistic therapeutic diesm (the South used to be paganistic by comparison to the Protestant orthodox North!), and Roman civic republicanism.

  • That is a pretty interesting take on it, Darwin.

  • Johnathan,

    Have you been reading and stealing my ideas!?


    I’ve been saying pretty much the exact same thing, only I’ve put it down as liberalism, classical republicanism, and Christianity – so as not to weigh down the terms too much. But essentially we agree.

  • I agree that “classical liberalism, with it’s definition of individual rights, was in many ways a reaction to new trends in Monarchy.”

    But I don’t think that’s so much the issue. Rather, it’s that the overarching conceptual framework of the natural law was lost in liberalism’s project. Even in the case of those scholars who take issue with classical liberalism’s philosophy of rights tout courte (e.g. Rowland), the broader issue remains the either absent or denuded concept of natural law.

Cardinal George Opens Cause for Sainthood for First African-American Priest

Wednesday, March 3, AD 2010

[HT: Devin Rose] The Catholic News Agency has news on a cause for sainthood opened by Cardinal George for Fr. Augustus Tolton:

Fr. Augustus Tolton, a man born into slavery who became the first American diocesan priest of African descent, is now being considered for canonization. Cardinal Francis George announced on Monday that the nineteenth century priest’s cause for sainthood has been introduced in the Archdiocese of Chicago.

“Many Catholics might not ever have heard of Fr. Augustus Tolton; but black Catholics most probably have,” the Archbishop of Chicago wrote.

Born in Missouri on April 1, 1854, John Augustine Tolton fled slavery with his mother and two siblings in 1862 by crossing the Mississippi River into Illinois.

“John, boy, you’re free. Never forget the goodness of the Lord,” Tolton’s mother told him after the crossing, according to the website of St. Elizabeth’s Church in Chicago.

The young Tolton entered St. Peter’s Catholic School with the help of the school’s pastor, Fr. Peter McGirr. Fr. McGirr would later baptize him and instruct him for his first Holy Communion. Tolton was serving as an altar boy by the next summer.

The priest asked Tolton if he would like to become a priest, saying it would take twelve years of hard study.

The excited boy then said they should go to church and pray for his success.

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3 Responses to Cardinal George Opens Cause for Sainthood for First African-American Priest

  • There’s a great book about him called “From Slave to Priest” by Caroline Hemesath. Ignatius Press publishes it.

  • Father Augustus, pray for your son in Chicago. Santa subito!

  • “Fr. Tolton was ordained (in 1886) for the southern Illinois Diocese of Quincy.”

    Actually, by that time it was the Diocese of Alton, the see city having been moved in 1857. The see city moved again to Springfield in 1923 so the present Diocese of Springfield in Illinois can also claim Fr. Tolton as one of its priests.

German Woman First To Write About Her Own Post-WW2 Suffering

Saturday, February 27, AD 2010

It has long been known that a huge number of German women suffered from a tidal wave of rape and sexual abuse at the hands of Russian soldiers in the closing days of World War II. Some estimates have put the number of women raped at over two million. As described in recent works such as Beevor’s The Fall of Berlin 1945 and Merridale’s Ivan’s War: Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945, this abuse was in some ways instituted (whether intentionally or not) by Soviet propaganda which emphasized to Russian soldiers that they must avenge the rape of Mother Russia, and inflict a humiliation on the German homeland which would assure it would never again attack them.

Regardless of the causes, this epidemic of abuse held an especially dark place in the German post-war experience. Although the abuse itself was well known, it was almost never discussed in the first person. No German woman had written about her experiences of abuse at the hands of Russian soldiers under her own name until this year. (A few anonymous books have been written, most famously A Woman in Berlin, and a very small number of studies based on interviews with survivors have been conducted, though due to unwillingness to talk about that time in Germany’s history, by the time people became willing to discuss the topic many of the original victims were already dead.)

Der Spiegel features an extended article about Gabriele Köpp, the first German woman to write a memoir under her own name about these experiences. Köpp is now 80. In 1945, she was just 15.

Köpp has now written a book about those 14 days and about the rapes, titled “Warum war ich bloss ein Mädchen?” (“Why Did I Have to Be a Girl?”). The book is an unprecedented document, because it is the first work of its kind written voluntarily by a woman who was raped in the final months of World War II, and who, years later, described the experiences and made them into the central theme of a book….

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5 Responses to German Woman First To Write About Her Own Post-WW2 Suffering

  • Wow. Very sensitive treatment of a topic that’s been largely unmentioned for sixty five years. That you for the article, as well.

  • The wholesale rape of German women by Soviet troops was the final obscene act in a war which had been waged without pity or decency by both sides on the Russian Front. I would note that not all Soviet units behaved like animals towards German women, but a high proportion did. In Soviet memoirs of the war, when the subject is touched upon, the writer will usually indicate that his unit did not engage in such conduct, but other units did. The front line combat units were usually the best disciplined when it came to leaving the civilian population alone, but the follow up rear units often seemed to be eager to commit atrocities. I have always thought there must be a special place in Hell for soldiers who mistreat women.

  • It’s my understanding that for women of a certain age, and of certain cultures, being raped was considered a fate worse than death, and victims were treated as “damaged goods”. This might be one reason Gabi’s mother was so cold toward her — she just didn’t want to think about or be reminded of what had happened to her daughter. Of course rape was a taboo subject even in our own country up until about the 1970s or so.

    The same attitude underlies the so-called “ethnic cleansing” rapes committed by Serbians against Bosnian Muslim women during the Balkan war of the 1990s. The Serbians knew that victims would be treated as defiled and unsuitable for marriage, especially if they got pregnant by their attackers; and any children born of such assaults would be treated as outcasts. The result would be fewer Bosnians in the future.

    Another frightening possibility that even Gabi does not mention is this: if she stopped having her periods afterward, she likely assumed (at least at first) that she was pregnant; and given the circumstances, I would imagine many of these victims may have attempted to abort themselves or find someone who would. I can only wonder what kind of trauma was involved there.

    I agree wholeheartedly with Don that there must be a special place in Hell for soldiers who abuse women and children like this.

  • It wasn’t only German women who were raped. My mother was a teenager in Hungary when the Russians came in. She had several harrowing close calls where by God’s grace she wasn’t raped,but the girls she was with were. And yes, there were women who handed girls over to the Russians, often to avoid the same fate themselves. As for Gabi’s mother, it is highly likely that she was also raped and she dealt with it by being cold with her daughter. The Russians also didn’t care who they raped. Beevor and others tell of Russian slave workers who were raped by their own soldiers after they were freed from their German captors. German Communists often complained that their women were also raped.

  • I am the daughter of a ‘Russian Baby’, a child born to a mother who was one such mentioned rapes. My grandmother was wandering the Baltic Sea with her 15 year old son and 8 year old daughter in 1945. When the Russians came upon them and started to ravage both her and her daughter they shot the boy who tried to come to thier aid. The men took thier turns with my Aunt and Grandmother, left my Uncle dead and then delighted in grinding thier dirty boots into her hand made linens. My Granny picked up what was left, her daughter and my mother growing inside her. They eventually came to Canada. My mother was barely tolerated, married young to an alcholic and bore 3 daughters. We are not tolerated, in fact we hardly exist. My Aunt, unable to heal her childhood trauma, bore a son who was tought to disrespect my family. He started violating my little body when I was 5. When my Aunt learned of the abuse when I turned 13 it was as if she was relieved someone else finally got it. I think she hates us and I have a hard time not feeling hard. I feel like I’m living her rape every day.

Fighting the Evil Empire

Tuesday, February 16, AD 2010

Whether as a sign of intellectual curiosity or general aimlessness, I often find myself reading about random subjects late at night. The other night, I found myself reading about Finland in World War II.

It’s an interesting subject. Finland was invaded by the USSR in 1939, at pretty much the same time they occupied the Baltic states and split Poland with Germany.

In the Winter War of 1939-1940, the Finns successfully slowed the Soviet advance, and eventually the USSR agreed to a peace treaty. Finland was forced to cede the parts of her territory she had not yet won back from the Soviets, but 90% of the country’s territory remained intact. This itself was an amazing military feat for such a small country. It’s also interesting in that they essentially out-Russianed the Russians. Just as Napoleon’s and Hitler’s armies bogged down and froze while trying to invade Russia, the Soviets bogged down and froze while trying to attack Finland, which was even better versed in winter warfare than Russia.

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51 Responses to Fighting the Evil Empire

  • Finland was fighting a just war from beginning to end.

  • For Finland, it was either ally with Germany, or revert to being another Russian province.

    I applaud what the Finns did in beating back an atheist regime.

    I’m curious as to how Finland resolved their “war” with Britain?

  • There are also parallels here with Franco’s Spain.

  • I see absolutely no parallels whatsoever.

  • There are if you consider that Franco received assistance in his war efforts from Germany and Italy. Much to the chagrin of the Axis powers Franco didn’t return the favor. The parallel being that Franco fought a just a war while having bad allies who waged an unjust war.

  • That would be the *only* parallel.

    Franco was fighting for the freedoms of the Spanish people against atheist enemies that were determined to “transform” Spain.

    /begin sarcasm of Henry K. connecting Finland’s war with Soviet Russia to Franco’s war against the atheistic “Republican” regime.

    Just like Obama and Rahm Emmanuel want to “transform” America into another European socialist state.

    /end sarcasm;

  • Franco was fighting for the freedoms of the Spanish people against atheist enemies that were determined to “transform” Spain.

    Describing Franco as fighting for the freedoms of the Spanish people is a bit much, I think.

  • Franco was fighting for the freedoms of the Spanish people against atheist enemies that were determined to “transform” Spain.

    Not much unlike Finland was, right? Granted it was civil war rather than war against an invading army, but invading army in Finland was also knee deep in supporting one or more of the SCW factions.

  • Wars do make strange friends but I am not sure the lines are ever clear. the USSR was allied with Nazi Germany until it was decided that Leninist Communism was less masculine that National Socialist Communism. Then the evil special interests within our borders who financed both the Nazis and the Soviets decided that German Communism should be painted as right-wing fascism and the Soviet Communism should be painted as Democratic Socialism so that the USA would become the ally of the Soviets against the Nazis who were destined to lose and then the USA and the USSR could divide Europe and eventually the USA/USSR European alliance would become the USSA. Of course all this happened before Obama was born otherwise they just might have tried him from the beginning. 🙂

    Nothing new under the sun.
    Wasn’t Finland ruled by Catholic Sweden before and after the Protestant Heresy? I also think Sweden ruled Finland until she was conquered by the Russians, Orthodox Czars not atheist Leninists.

    Sadly, it is unlikely that nation would be able to mount a successful, just war against such fierce foes today. For that matter I don’t know if we have what it takes to liberate the world from the Axis powers either.

    Rome died due to diminishing warrior capacity which was preceded by the moral debasement of her young men by effete Greeks – sounds like a typical college campus today, especially where ROTC is not welcome. I wonder if that is why the president wants his own ‘civilian corpsmen’ (pronounced CORPSE-MEN).

  • RL,

    I don’t know what SCW is.


    That or be executed for practicing Catholicism. Religious freedom.

  • “Franco was fighting for the freedoms of the Spanish people against atheist enemies that were determined to ‘transform’ Spain.”

    Franco’s rebellion was an effort to preserve “traditional” Spain, which was rather loosely defined inasmuch as his coalition included both the agri-traditionalist Carlists and the more revolutionary Falange, with a broad swath of rightist elements in between. As far as the Falange goes, he pretty well neutered it before the end of the war, and it was a mere adjunct to his government. It was to his great fortune that the Republic was even more fractious than the Nationalist coalition.

    If you had told Franco that he was fighting for “freedom,” he probably would have blinked in utter incomprehension. I guess to the extent good Spaniards were free of the Reds and anarchists, yes, he was fighting for that kind of freedom–freedom *from*. He was fighting for a Spain rooted in its traditional past, including the Church, the monarchy and what was left of her overseas possessions. Which is why Hitler’s adventures interested him not at all, even when Nazi Germany looked to be victorious.

  • Say all you want about Franco and some of it may even be true but he supported the Church and killed Communists. At the time, in that context he was the choice to make. It is sad when we have to choose between the lesser of two or more evils but fallen man is likely to put us in that position often.

    Sort of like picking progressive Republicans who want to kill babies despite what the platform says against progressive Democrats who want to kill babies because that is what their platform says.

  • AK,

    Yes, Finland was under Swedish rule and then under Russian rule.

    Through Russian efforts to engender friendly relations with their new Finnish lands, the Russians allowed greater autonomy and widespread use of Finnish (to undermine Swedish).

    This eventually backfired since the Finns actualized a greater sense of nationhood that resulted in independence around 1907, with permanent independence after WWII.

    Rome also died due to abortion. Since many Roman couples saw it as an inconvenience, infanticide rose. Also, male Romans didn’t want to have sons since Patricide began to rise as well. So throw that in with no desire for baby girls and their moral debasement of those children that did “survive” and there you have it, Blue state New York and California, I mean, Rome.

  • Dale,

    We are in agreement then. Franco was fighting for freedom from his atheistic adversaries.

    Franco was also clever enough to sideline the Carlists to the point of making them part of the furniture instead of the process.

  • Here’s to eliminating Communism in all of its manifestations! (raising a bottle of Shiner brew)

  • Within the last week or two, I assured someone (who claimed that conservatives were using rhetoric that suggested they were likely to start a coup) that I’d never heard a conservative compare Obama to the Spanish communists and anarchists in the ’30s. I guess I need to be more careful what I say…

    Two thinks I think it’s important to keep in mind:

    – While I have no doubt in my mind that Franco was preferable to the socialist/communist/anarchist forces on the Republican side of the Spanish Civil War, that’s hardly a ringing endorsement, nor should we make it so. Sure, he defended the Church rather than persecuting it, but to list the Christ Rock line, “You’re supposed to do that.”

    – While Obama’s inside clique would doubtless like to see the US looking much more like modern European social democracies (and I think that would be a bad thing), those social democracies are nothing like as despicable and oppressive the Spanish Republicans. Sure, I think they’re too government heavy, but I think they fall within the range of things which one might in good conscience advocate, while the Republican cause clearly didn’t.

  • Say all you want about Franco and some of it may even be true but he supported the Church and killed Communists.

    He also killed a lot of Catholics.

    I’m having visions, however, of another 100+ comment thread that has nothing to do with the original post, so I’ll leave it there.

  • Tito,

    You bring up a great point re: Roman abortions. It is amazing that the Republic that razed Carthage for her child-sacrifice and salted the land to ensure that the abominable practice did not spread.

    Imagine that the great liberator, honest-broker and moral backbone of the world would raze an entire civilization to prevent the sacrifice of children only to turn around and begin the same practice albeit for convenience and not direct sacrifice to devils. It is a good thing no one else would be so stupid to do that. Wait. Where am I?

  • Darwin,

    To make you feel better I was mocking Henry K. for connecting Finland’s war with Soviet Russia to Franco’s war against the atheistic “Republican” regime.

    I was being sarcastic.

    In no way does Obama’s administration resemble that of the God-hating Spanish Republicans.

  • BA,

    And leave all the fun of dissecting Finnish Nationalism contra Soviet Expansionism!

    Or how about the only time in history that a democracy declared war on another democracy, ie, Britain declaring war on Finland!

    Gerald Naus may even make a guest comment appearance.


  • SCW – Spanish Civil War.

    Why was Franco’s betrayal of the Carlists seen as a good thing? In my mind, it was one his greater faults.

  • BA,

    Franco killing Catholics is like shooting fish in the barrel to get to the crabs.

    By default 99% of Spaniards were *Catholic* by baptism alone in Civil War Spain.

  • RL,

    I didn’t say it was a good thing.

    I was just “showing off” my Spanish Civil War knowledge.

    I myself think it of a very bad thing indeed.

    Imagine how Spain would have turned out if the Carlists had any influence at all by the end of the war, *sigh*.

  • Tito,

    To make you feel better I was mocking Henry K. for connecting Finland’s war with Soviet Russia to Franco’s war against the atheistic “Republican” regime.

    Henry’s comment wasn’t out of line. I thought I demonstrated that. Parallel doesn’t indicate same. Finland was fighting an atheistic republic too. ironically enough, that athiestic republic had the most influence on Spain’s atheistic republic. There’s another parallel.

  • DC,

    I suspect that modern social democracies in Europe are considerably less oppressive than those envisioned by the perpetrators at the end of WWII. I suspect that Commies intended more Soviet-style governments than the namby-pamby nanny-state welfare of Europe today. It is a ruse, the nice social democracies like the UK, Sweden and the USA are designed to get us used to servitude so we will be happy in a global feudal order. You know those nice scientific dictatorships that medicate and indoctrinate you into being a happy slave.

    Makes you wonder why the Finnish and the Spanish bothered fighting for liberation at all.

  • RL,

    You have to admire the Finns though.

    A small republic of barely 3-4 million fought to a standstill the then 70 million strong (or more) Soviet Empire.

    Put it in the context that the USSR was also able to absorb Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia, in addition to half of Poland and a sliver of Romania.

    Contrast that to what Finland did and it is utterly amazing.

  • At the risk of starting another bizarre tangent:

    You bring up a great point re: Roman abortions. It is amazing that the Republic that razed Carthage for her child-sacrifice and salted the land to ensure that the abominable practice did not spread. Imagine that the great liberator, honest-broker and moral backbone of the world would raze an entire civilization to prevent the sacrifice of children only to turn around and begin the same practice albeit for convenience and not direct sacrifice to devils.

    I seem to be bad at guaging when people are being arch in this thread, but if this is meant seriously, I’m aware of no evidence that the Roman Republic razed Carthage because of its tendency towards infant sacrifice. The impetus behind Carthago delenda est was more driven by the first two Punic wars, and in particular the lingering memory of Hannibal’s invasion of Italy. Further, exposure of infants was an accepted practice in the Roman Republic back to the earliest days.

    I’m certainly an admirer of the Roman Republic as seen in sources like Polybius, but at a moral level, they were distinctly pagan in their outlook and practices.

  • The little I know about the razing of Carthage is that both Darwin and AK are correct. That or I’ve watched one too many skewed PBS specials on the subject.

    Yes, the Romans practiced infanticide for quite a while, though it may have increased towards the end of its epoch.

    If not, it definitely contributed to Romes decline combined with other factors.

  • I’ll take responsibility for the bizarre tangents, thank you very much.

    I have no source to site for what I wrote above. I think I heard it on radio from the mouth of a priest who was also an historian. But I have no facts to back it up.

    It does make some sense though. Romans were certainly pagans but they seemed to have a deeper insight into the natural law than the barbarian pagans and event he middle-eastern fertility cults. After all, God had Joshua raze the people of Palestine before Israel entered the promised land and yet he allowed the Macabbes to call on Rome to come to the aid of Israel.

    Additionally exposure of infants may have been tolerated and even accepted but that is a more practical discarding of a life rather than a willful sacrifice to demons. I am not excusing child exposure, yet for a non-Christianized pagan society it is understandable and I can see how they would be horrified by sacrificing children to ‘gods’.

    Then again, I may not know what I am talking about.

    To try to bring this back I am fairly confident that modern Finland has gone the way of Carthage and Rome. Abortions are provided ‘free’ in their nationalized ‘health care’ system. Maybe they will be razed soon.

  • I thought the Spanish always had the same liberties as we did? 😉

  • I’m aware of no evidence that the Roman Republic razed Carthage because of its tendency towards infant sacrifice.

    Your the student of the classics. I think he is referring to a thesis advanced by G.K. Chesterton. I cannot remember in which work.

  • BA,

    As of this post we’re about 67 comments short of a 100.

    See you guys later, I have a class to attend to.

  • Both sides in the Spanish Civil War engaged in sickening atrocities during the war. Both sides were none too choosy in regard to who they accepted aid from. Both sides aimed to establish authoritarian regimes, outside of the Basque Republicans on the side of the Republic, and some of the Catholic groups on the side of the Nationalists. The big difference between the two sides was the massive persecution that Catholics suffered in the Republic, outside of the Basque controlled areas.

  • So you’re saying that war is hell and total war is totally hellish.

  • Spanish civil wars certainly tend to be hellish AK. They make our Civil War look like a very well behaved military exercise by comparison. Having said that, I have always found the Spanish Civil War of the last century endlessly fascinating. All that was best and worst in Spain was on full display. Jose Maria Gironella’s magnificent trilogy of novels on the War are an excellent starting point for anyone wishing to understand the war and why Spaniards fought each other so savagely: Cypresses Believe in God, One Million Dead and Peace After War. They are the best novels I have ever read and left me with a much deeper understanding of the War and of Spain.

  • Chesterton made that argument about child sacrifice in Carthage in The Everlasting Man. As usual, Chesterton was a good writer and a poor historian. Horror over Carthaginian child sacrifice played absolutely no role in Rome’s desire to obliterage Carthage.

  • Thanks for clearing that up. OK, so Rome simply razed Carthage because Rome did not want to have to go back and fight them again and again and again. It seems as if North Africa has a war resiliency. I suppose if Jefferson had finished the Barbary Pirates once and for all we would not be dealing with piracy in the same seas today.

    The war in North America of the 1860s (I have yet to be convinced that it was a civil war) was fairly brutal. Many consider it the first war of the pre-nuclear modern age. I am not as familiar with the Spanish Civil War (I am convinced that it was a civil war), but I understand it was extremely brutal. It makes sense that atrocities would occur during a mutli-faction civil conflict then a conflict between the organized armies of two countries (if’n y’all don’t recognize the CSA as a separate country, then at least concede that there were only two sides to the conflict).

  • AK, the organized armies on both sides committed the bulk of the atrocities in the Spanish Civil War. Mass executions, with only the quickest of drum head military trials, if that, was the rule for both sides. Most Spaniards on all sides were convinced that the only way to bring peace was to physically eliminate their adversaries. The Spanish Civil War is an object lesson of what unchecked political hatreds can lead to.

  • I wouldn’t go so far as saying that both sides committed equal amounts of atrocities. The Republicans by far committed more heinous acts in depth and volume with an exceeding amount of enthusiasm.

    According to argueably the best Christian historian alive, Warren H. Carroll, comparing the atrocities of the Nationalists on par with those of the Republicans is a gross error when conveyed against the reputed facts.

    Remember that the overwhelming amount of history written on the Spanish Civil War were written by the Republicans. Which is ironic since it generally known that the victors are the ones who write history.

    So when Donald says that “both” sides committed atrocities, I hope that he was saying it rhetorically and not of equal number and depth.

  • Tito

    While I support the Franco side of the civil war, and indeed, own coins of Franco and books written by people who were involved with the war on his side, obviously both sides did commit grave evils. Moreover, Warren Carroll is not arguably the best Christian historian alive; he is far from the best, in fact. He often gets history wrong — look to his discussion on SAINT Photius (yes, he is a Saint in the Catholic Church) and look to any relevant modern historical treatise on the Photian Schism — he shows his rather shallow approach quite well when you compare the two.

    Give me Christopher Dawson any day (alas he is not alive). And if you want a living historian, check out Eamon Duffy!

  • Christopher Dawson is the Ratzinger of Christian history. I need to put the book down and digest what I just read. He is very good and is prominent in my miniature library.

    Eamon Duffy is on my Amazon list of books to buy and I look forward reading his works!

  • In regard to the Spanish Civil War Tito, if you take into account the post war executions, which were massive, by the Nationalists, the body count of the Nationalists was higher. I am sympathetic to the Nationalist cause due to the demonic anti-Catholicism of most of their opponents and the fact that most of the leaders who wielded power within the Republic were intent on setting up a totalitarian state of one sort or another. However, the Nationalist leadership were not saints. They set up a fairly squalid dictatorship, engaged in massive atrocities and showed almost no mercy to their defeated adversaries.

  • The best, and I think most objective, historian of the Spanish Civil War and the Franco regime is Stanley Payne.

    Warren Carroll’s The Last Crusade is not a bad book on the first year of the Spanish Civil War. He is obviously completely in sympathy with the Nationalists, but his work is a useful corrective to many other historians of the War who are completely in sympathy with the forces of the Left.

  • What Donald said about the post-war executions. Franco was not merciful. That his enemies would have been no more merciful had they triumphed is no absolution.

    Alas, it is highly likely that the executions were popular with the Nationalist population at large. A grandson of Spanish Nationalists was an exchange student at my high school, and was delighted to give me the Nationalist perspective on the Civil War. He mentioned that the Republicans had brutally murdered his great uncle and, IIRC, some other members of his family. The exchange student still hated the Republicans, flipping a picture of “La Pasionaria” the bird.

  • “The exchange student still hated the Republicans, flipping a picture of “La Pasionaria” the bird.”

    I would have joined him in that Dale! “La Pasionaria” was a real piece of work. By the end of the Civil War almost all families in Spain, including Franco’s, had a member of the family who had been murdered by the other side. Most of the victims executed by the Nationalists probably had committed hideous crimes. The true injustice of course is that no such justice was ever visited on the Nationalist victors in this world.

  • Excellent links.

    I like reading objective history. Especially when it is on a favorite subject of mine like the Spanish Civil War.

  • My wife is going to be upset with y’all because I won’t take responsibility for all the books that I just put in my Amazon cart that y’all referenced.

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Pat Robertson, Haiti and History

Thursday, January 14, AD 2010


For the benefit of Mr. Robertson.  The Haitians revolted during the French Revolution and the reign of Napoleon I.  The Haitians were never ruled by Napoleon III (1852-1870), having their independence recognized in 1825 by France.  Although Voodoo has been sadly ubiquitous in Haiti, there is no evidence of a pact between Satan and Haitian insurgents, although Robertson is not the only person to propound this myth, which is quite common in some evangelical circles.  A good article debunking this myth is here and here.  This of course is far from the first time that Pat Robertson has said something factually challenged and insulting, although considering the vastness of the tragedy, Robertson expounding his kook theory at this point as Haiti mourns countless dead and lies prostrate is truly beneath contempt.  Certain Catholic religious orders enjoin silence for the good of the souls of their members.  Mr. Robertson could benefit by following their example.

For those wishing to donate to Catholic Relief Services for Haiti, here is a link.

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30 Responses to Pat Robertson, Haiti and History

  • Pat Robertson is a pathetic litlle man. God bless Haiti.

  • I’m not sure which disturbs me more… Robertson’s belief & propagation of this assertion, or the reactions to his comments I’ve read elsewhere which pile non sequiturs on top of one another. e.g. at Politico and The Political Carnival.

  • Some people hear the word “Christian” and think of the nonsense that Robertson spouts. He sets back the cause of the Faith in this country.

  • Perhaps Robertson may have gotten his facts mixed up, but there’s no denying that Haiti seems cursed. A National Geographic article calls the country “possessed by voodoo,” so even if the country did not make a pact with the devil directly, it seems to have done so indirectly by messing around with the occult.

  • At one time (late 70s-early 80s) I watched The 700 Club with some regularity and respected Pat Robertson as a man of God even though I didn’t agree with all his ideas. I still think he means well, but his advancing age combined with his fundamentalist (and from a Catholic point of view, heretical) interpretation of Scripture make him increasingly prone to ill-concieved statements like this.

  • Well at least he’s consistent, because he also blamed the US for 9/11.

    He needs to get a tattoo to remind him not to blame victims for natural disasters. Like one of Job’s self-righteous friends, “this is all your fault you sinner”, its only a tragedy when its personal, but not for someone else.

    Not to mention the fact that something like a pact with the devil is basically impossible to prove, and if anything the french revolution and the likes of Napoleon were far more satanic than whatever happened in Haiti.

  • Rev Robertson may have gotten cause and effect wrong. To wit it is the unfortunate tendency of men living at the mercy of nature, to enter into all sorts of pacts with the devil or even the Devil himself. One can observe this in other countries such as Indonesia and the Phillipines that are particularly prone to earthquakes and storms. In other words the Haitians fear the wrath of Nature and so try to come to some accomodation with Her through misguided and frankly evil rituals. Christians have a role to play in weaning away the Haitians from their voodoo fetishes. And it is a fact that devil worship will turn one’s soul into an ugly mess. But as Jesus Christ taught when the Tower of Siloam fell, all of us have sinned and are under the sign of the hourglass. I pray that God be merciful to the souls of the dead who had no time to prepare for a Confession.

  • I agree about the tower of siloam, a very relevant passage. I think voodoo and Paganism in general are about power and revenge and control, and seeking blessings from the god(s) of this age, as opposed to surrendering oneself to the Lord, essentially demon/Satan worship.

    Listening to Robertson’s comments one more time its as though he’s saying that they are basically victims from a curse of the past. Now we know that there are no curses in Christ, so he is lamenting the fact that they are not Christians, saying that it would not have happened if they were more Christian, and espousing the “generational curse” doctrine. The first one I agree with, but the next two I don’t.

  • “and if anything the french revolution and the likes of Napoleon were far more satanic than whatever happened in Haiti”


  • “the likes of Napoleon were far more satanic than whatever happened in Haiti.” Napoleon sold the Louisiana Territory to the United States after his brother-in-law was defeated in San Domingue. Some think it was the largest peaceful transfer of land from one nation to another. Maybe the Anglophiles here would prefer Louisiana remained in French control than receive a bargain from a “satanic” vendor.

  • I would be cautious about equating Napoleon and the French Revolution. Very different things with very different moral concerns.

  • Just because we tangentially benefited from the chaos and wickedness that took place in the French revolution, doesn’t mean that it was right, just that we as a competitor nation made out because they needed money. Besides, if the people of that territory identified themselves more as Americans than a French colony it was destined to happen.

    As far as I know, Napoleon rose to power out of the chaos and social dissarray that went on for years after the revolution. They got rid of the old and corrupt establishment and eventually got a secular dictator who led them to war. He was a classic “type of AntiChrist”.

  • Also, for some reason I doubt that Robertson would have blamed this on a generational curse if the earthquake had happened in Israel. It would just be an absolute irrational tragedy.

  • Robertson might want to note that Haiti is 95% Christian.

  • Napoleon did sign the 1801 Concordant with Pope Pius VII, thus ending the “official” persecution of the Church in France.

  • One writer thinks the French should pay Haiti reparations:

    Haiti’s chronic impoverishment began at its birth in 1804, when, having overthrown its French rulers in a bloody, 12-year slave revolt, the newborn nation was subjected to crippling blockades and embargoes. This economic strangulation continued until 1825, when France offered to lift embargoes and recognize the Haitian Republic if the latter would pay restitution to France—for loss of property in Haiti, including slaves—of 150 million gold francs. The sum, about five times Haiti’s export revenue for 1825, was brutal, but Haiti had no choice: Pay up or perish over many more years of economic embargo, not to mention face French threats of invasion and reconquest. To pay, Haiti borrowed money at usurious rates from France, and did not finish paying off its debt until 1947, by which time its fate as the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country had been well and truly sealed.

    One is not impressed with the state of former French colonies – Haiti, Benin, Algeria, Cote d’Ivorie, Vietnam, heck, throw in New Orleans,…, compare that dismal list with Hong Kong and Singapore. Former British colonies are certainly not all garden spots (think ME), but India is a rising democracy.

    While the French certainly squeezed Haiti, I think one also has to take into account the fact that Haiti is a very corrupt society. Like Africa, Haiti has received millions in aid money. What happens to it? Where does it go? Certainly not to the people living in shacks. We know Papa Doc certainly helped himself.

    That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t help those poor people now. But I’m at a loss to as to how one improves the lot of Haitians in the long run. Even getting them back to their pre-equakequake level of misery is going to be hard, since what little infrastructure there was is gone.

    One sobering thought: the few professionals, physicians, government officals etc. Haiti had were probably more likely to be in office buildings in Port-au-Prince and thus were more likely to die than someone in a shanty out in the country. I’m not saying professionals are more valuable or loved by God than poor farmers – just that it further complicates the question of how Haiti can function. How can you have a functioning society in this day and age if most of the literate people and professionals are dead?

  • The writer I referred to in the post above is Tunku Varadarajan. Here’s the link:

  • And Pinky might want to note that 75 to 90 percent of the Haitians practice voodoo, depending on whom you ask.

  • Donna V you cannot blame the French for this. They got the colonies whose populations have low IQs. The British Empire had a large Anglo component in the white nations. The societies of Hong Kong, Singapore are dominated by the Chinese and they are a major player in Malaysia. In India the British ruled with the help of the Brahmin and other educated castes. In all these cases the British were fortunate to find intelligent and capable races to work with. The French were not as fortunate, they had to do everything by themselves. Twenty or thirty ago I would have hesitated to voice these opinions, but I have come to the regrettable conclusion that quite a lot of the difference in performance between nations can be put down to race.

  • The varied fortunes of the predominantly black nations of the West Indies should be more than enough to argue against a racial explanation for Haiti. The sad truth is that Haiti has been badly governed from the time it was a French colonial possession, and that it lacks much in the way of natural resources.

  • It isn’t just Pat Robertson using the Haiti tragedy to push his own agenda.

    Jon Stewart of The Daily Show provides this excellent fisking of Robertson, Rush Limbaugh and Rachel Maddow for their attempts to use Haiti to promote their own agenda (warning: some questionable language):

    I never thought I’d see the day when Stewart would quote Scripture on the air… and use beautiful and appropriate passages from Isaiah and the Psalms to boot. “Have you read this book? …. You got all this, and you went with an urban legend about a deal with the devil!”

    Also, Rush’s statements and his reaction to a critical caller are perfect examples of what I cannot stand about his show and why I quit listening to it:

    Now it probably is true that Obama will find a way to benefit politically from the Haiti situation — any president would — but that does NOT mean that he really doesn’t care about the victims, or that everything he does will be bad or wrong; nor does it mean people shouldn’t give to help earthquake victims because they “already gave” through taxation.

  • “we tangentially benefited” doesn’t exactly express a high opinion of land and the citizens of 15 states…. “if the people of that territory identified themselves more as Americans than a French colony it was destined to happen”…After seeing three changes of government in a lifetime, the citizens of Louisiana hardly thought of themselves as Americans, especially the free men of color who realized they would lose enfranchisement; the states of New England threatened to secede over what they considered President Jefferson’s unconstitutional act and the incorporation of an “alien” (French, Catholic) culture into the United States. The response to Katrina shows how little the pre-Purchase attitudes have changed.

  • Paul: we “tangentially” benefited because America’s gaining of the land was not a direct result of the revolution, but the revolution did eventually lead to the purchase because they needed money.

    Unlike the situation in Haiti, I don’t particularly feel all that bad about Katrina, they were given ample warning and even told to evacuate, and many refused to listen or even prepare for what was coming. Surrounding areas were hit as hard, but the people heeded the warnings. When you’re told to leave and do nothing, that’s not Bush’s fault, that’s your fault. The loss of life and sufering was tragic, but not comparable to Haiti.

    Pax: Voodoo itself is fundamentally Paganism with some Catholic symbolism blended into it, so I’m not surprised the stats are so varied.

    Ivan: I disagree with your racial explanation, but the sad truth is that our continued financial support of haiti enables the corruption and status quo to continue.

    Bill O’Reilly is right that we need to help them, and that its also time to take a serious look at bringing accountability and an effective government and actual economy to the nation, “teach a man to fish” and so on. I’m not saying we should invade them, but enabling the status quo isn’t the right thing to do either.

  • Ivan: It’s not that easy. Thomas Sowell has pointed out that a disproportionate number of blacks with West Indian roots are among the black elite in this country; in Harlem in the 1920’s, they were nicknamed “black Jews” by other blacks because they were adept at business. Sowell thinks that, ironically, the extremely harsh conditions slaves endured in the West Indies has something to do with the relative success their descendants have enjoyed in the States. In the West Indies, the slaves who labored on the sugar cane plantations were not provided food or in some cases, even clothing, like American slaves were. They had to feed themselves from garden plots they tended after exhausting days chopping sugar cane and engage in trade to get cloth and other staples that were provided for American blacks. Cruel, but they developed a barter economy and a sense of self-sufficiency that American slaves did not. American slaves, who were used to having food, clothing and shelter given to them by their masters, had a tough struggle when freedom came, and not only because of the racial discrimination they faced. They weren’t used to operating in a market economy – something unscrupulous whites were quick to take advantage of. West Indians had more savvy.

    You can’t point to genetics because the slaves of the West Indies came from exactly the same genetic stock as the slaves of the American south.

    And yet, the success of the West Indians in the US has not been replicated in Britain, or indeed, in the West Indies itself.

    But the same is also true of the Chinese – an extremely successful, business-savvy minority in countries throughout the Far East. And yet the vast majority of Chinese were and still are very poor, even before the adoption of Communism.

    I’m not completely dismissive of IQ, but people who rely too heavily on that arugment forget that in most of the 3rd World, you have to be born either very rich or be very lucky to escape dire poverty, because the odds are stacked against you. The form of government one lives under is essential.

    Let’s not forget that Russia, a country far richer in natural resources than Haiti, has been miserably poor for centuries. They’ve produced scads of scientists, artists, and chess grandmasters, so I don’t think it’s because gray matter is lacking.

  • Donna V and others you have the better arguments, as you say IQ differences should not be the first cause for the situation in Haiti. Good governance is far more important. We will have to wait another 10-15 years to see the results.

  • Do any of you realize that 80% of these so called devil whorshipping Haitians consider themselves Roman Catholics? Do any of you realize that Pat Robertson and his followers hate Roman Catholics?

  • Bringing change to Haiti is the kind of thing these Washington crooks ought to be thinking about instead of spending tens of millions of tax payer dollars for a photo op in “Copen-Hoggen”, (as if its incorrect to say names in English).

    All they care about is making political hay, and I’m sure if it was there money they wouldn’t be so quick to throw it down rat-holes.

  • Actually, why don’t we send the current congress over to Haiti to govern them, because it might the one place that they will be an improvement in terms of corruption and incompetence.

  • Bernadette, Who, exactly, are you referring to when you ask if “any of us” know Robertson is anti-Catholic? In reading Donald’s initial posts and the ensuing comments, I’m not getting the impression that this blog is a gathering of the Pat Robertson Fan Club.

    And yes, we are aware that Haitians are Catholics, albeit their Catholicism is laced with a very large dose of paganism, i.e. voodoo. The country has more witchdoctors than it has physicians. Do you think that’s a good thing?

  • Ivan: I don’t discount the importance of IQ, by any means. Obviously, a person with an IQ of 90 is not going to become a nuclear physicist. But back in the 1960’s, the “nuture” arguments held sway and now the reverse seems to have happened, with people falling into biological determinism as a way of explaining why some individuals and countries do better than others.

    It seems to me being born with brains will only benefit you if A. you live in a society where there are ample opportunities to succeed and enough freedom to persue opportunities (ie a democracy) and B. your immediate culture values strong family ties, hard work, study, delaying gratification and so on. The Asian-American medical residents I know had all these advantages. One told me it was simply unacceptable for her to bring home a report card with B’s and C’s on it. If a person with the same potential has the misfortune of being born to a desperately poor family in Haiti, what are his or her chances? If there is no opportunity to go to school because you have to focus on simple survival, your potential will remain unrealized. If you’re an very bright person born to a dyfunctional single mom in the US, and everyone around you is indifferent to education and moral values, instead of becoming a doctor, you might become the leader of a drug cartel. The person with the IQ of 90, born into a loving family with a strong work ethic will contribute more to the well-being of society, even if that means working at a low-status but necessary occupation.

A Republic of Masters

Wednesday, January 6, AD 2010

Over the last few months, I’ve been gradually working my way through a set of lectures on the history of the United States by professors Staloff and Masur of the City College of New York — emphasis on the gradually as several months and 22 lectures in I’m around at around 1800.

One of the things that has been striking me is the discussion on the ideas about how a republic ought to function current among the colonists and the Founders’ generation. In early America, it was generally only male property owners who could vote — sometimes with an additional limitation on how much property you had to own. This was not, however, out of a desire to exclude the poor and empower the rich. (Though one could certainly see it that way, and I’m sure that some people did.) Rather, it’s purpose was to assure that only “masters” had a voice in the running of the republic(s). I use the term “master” not in reference to slavery, but in an almost feudal sense. A master was a man who owned property in the sense of owning some means of support: an estate, a farm, a business, etc. But this wasn’t just a position of power, it was also one of responsibility. A master was expected to assure the well-being of all those who worked for him or lived in his household/estate. Sometimes, these were one and the same. A master craftsman might well have one or two apprentices living in his house, with his family. Journeyman laborers might live in the shop, or also in his house. Even if his workers lived under another roof, a master was not merely an employer, he was also a patron and head of household to all who depended on him.

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3 Responses to A Republic of Masters

  • Recently some folks on another blog got into a discussion about whether property ownership requirements for voting ought to be reinstated.

    At least one respondent thought they should, because he did not want people being able to “vote themselves entitlements” without also being subject to paying the taxes involved.

    I didn’t agree with that idea completely — for one thing, I took offense to his seeming assumption that anyone who doesn’t own a home or land doesn’t have enough of a stake in the community to be worthy of voting; that would disenfranchise me (because I live in an apartment) and my mom (who lives in a nursing home) and many, many others. Moreover, I still pay income and sales taxes, my daughter attends the local public schools, and if property taxes go up significantly, my rent will go up too, so it’s not as if I have no stake whatsoever in the community.

    However, I CAN see where perhaps residency requirements for voting in state and local elections ought to be tightened up. Keep the 30 or 28 day limit for NATIONAL elections when people are moving within the U.S. (they are still American citizens after all with a stake in the outcome), but for state/local elections, make it at least 1 year, with an automatic waiver of the waiting period granted to anyone who 1) purchases a primary residence in that community, 2) opens a business in the community they live in, or 3) enrolls at least one of their children in a local school (public or private). Exceptions could also be granted on a case by case basis to cover other situations (e.g. a homeschooling family).

    Of course this is never gonna happen because various courts have ruled that long waiting periods interfere with people’s right to vote; but perhaps a system like this would revive the idea of people building up genuine connections to the community and gaining a sense of the common good before they make voting decisions.

  • More harmful to the proper functioning of the republic than a broad popular electorate was the Seventeenth Amendment. The Senate was the stop-gap to volatile and ill-conceived legislation. Now it’s just another body of shortsighted vote whores.

  • Funny thing is though, Rick, that the 17th Amendment was prompted by a number of scandals in the late 19th and early 20th centuries involving Senators who bribed or otherwise manipulated their state legislatures into appointing them. If that isn’t being “vote whores,” I don’t know what is.