A lady once asked him how he came to define ‘pastern’, the knee of a horse: instead of making an elaborate defence, as might be expected, he at once answered, “Ignorance, Madam, pure ignorance.”
James Boswell, Life of Johnson
Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist looks at the contemporary media and concludes that the main problem with it,is the arrogant ignorance that abounds among the younger members of the Fourth Estate:
The real problem is the arrogance that goes with the ignorance. Take Kate Zernike’s 2010 attempt at an expose of the ideas that motivate tea party activists that ran in the New York Times. She wrote:
But when it comes to ideology, it has reached back to dusty bookshelves for long-dormant ideas. It has resurrected once-obscure texts by dead writers — in some cases elevating them to best-seller status — to form a kind of Tea Party canon.
Who are these obscure authors of long-dormant ideas? She points to Friedrich Hayek, for one. Yes, the same Hayek who won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1974 and died way, way back in … 1992. Whose Road To Serfdom was so obscure that it has never been out of print and was excerpted in Reader’s Digest, that obscure publication with only 17 million readers. The article doesn’t get around to actually providing any insight into these activists’ philosophy and it’s probably a good thing considering that this is what she has to say about “the rule of law”:
Ron Johnson, who entered politics through a Tea Party meeting and is now the Republican nominee for Senate in Wisconsin, asserted that the $20 billion escrow fund that the Obama administration forced BP to set up to pay damages from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill circumvented “the rule of law,” Hayek’s term for the unwritten code that prohibits the government from interfering with the pursuit of “personal ends and desires.”
Oh dear. Where to begin? How about with the fact that “rule of law” is not Hayek’s term. The concept goes back to, well, the beginning of Western Civilization and the term was popularized by a 19th century British jurist and constitutional theorist named A.V. Dicey. It’s not an unwritten code, by definition. The idea that this would be an obscure concept to someone says everything about Zernike and the team at the New York Times and precisely nothing about Ron Johnson or Hayek or that sector of citizens of the United States who retain support for the rule of law.
A few weeks ago, David Brat beat House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a stunning upset. The media didn’t handle it well. You might say they freaked out. Among other things, reporters sounded the alarm about a phrase Brat used in his writings that, they said, suggested he was a dangerous extremist: “The government holds a monopoly on violence. Any law that we vote for is ultimately backed by the full force of our government and military.” As National Review‘s Charles C.W. Cooke noted:
“Unusual” and “eye-opening” was the New York Daily News’s petty verdict. In the Wall Street Journal, Reid Epstein insinuated darkly that the claim cast Brat as a modern-day fascist. And, for his part, Politico’s Ben White suggested that the candidate’s remarks “on Neitzsche and the government monopoly on violence don’t make a whole lot of sense.”
Unusual, eye-opening, and non-sensical, perhaps, to people who had never studied what government is. But that group shouldn’t include political reporters, who could reasonably be expected to have passing familiarity with German sociologist Max Weber’s claim that “the modern state is a compulsory association which organizes domination. It has been successful in seeking to monopolize the legitimate use of physical force as a means of domination within a territory.”
Pastern: The knee of a horse. (This is wrong. When Dr. Samuel Johnson was once asked how he came to make such a mistake, Boswell tells us he replied, “Ignorance, Madam, pure ignorance.”)
One of the major problems over the past half century in the Church is almost complete ignorance about what was actually written at Vatican II. Father Z gives us a grand example:
Someone sent me a PDF of a flyer from the Diocese of St. Petersburg in Florida promoting a series of talks on Sacrosanctum Concilium.
Hopefully the talks will be great.
The flyer, however, isn’t so great. There are a series of statements which perpetuate goofy notions that have been circulated for a long time. Let’s have a look with my emphases and comments:
- Did you know that before the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy we did not always have Old and New Testament readings at Mass? (Chapter 2, #51) [This is a false statement. There are Old Testament readings in Extraordinary Form. Furthermore, every Mass includes texts from the Psalms. The Antiphon are mostly Old Testament.]
- Did you know that reception of the Eucharist under both kinds for the people came into practice after the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy? Before the document, people did not receive the Eucharist at every Mass and did not receive the blood of Christ at all. (Chapter 2, #55) [This is a misleading statement. Frequent Communion was strongly promoted by St. Pope Pius X. However, people still understood before the depredations that took place in the wake of and name of the Council that if you are not in the state of grace, you shouldn't go to Communion. Furthermore, this statement makes it seem that if people are not receiving the Precious Blood, they are somehow being deprived of receiving the Eucharist.]
- Did you know that before the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Mass was only offered in Latin – not in the multiple languages allowed today? (Chapter 1, #36) [This is a manipulative statement that also hides the truth of what the Council commanded. First, it is not entirely desirable that multiple languages be used, because the multiplication of languages has fractured our unity, both across borders and across centuries. The illicit elimination of Latin also slammed the doors of our treasury of Sacred Music. Moreover, the Fathers of the Council commanded that Latin be retained! They allowed for some limited use of the vernacular on occasions.]
- Did you know that the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy reestablished the adult catechumenate? The RCIA process was developed to bring adults (and children age 7 and above) into the Church. (Chapter 3, #64) [This statement is much ado about nothing. Adult converts and children above 7 were constantly being brought into the Church before the Council, and not in a one-sized mainstreams all method. Additionally, I can't tell you how many people I have spoken to who wished they had had the opportunity of private instruction rather than the silly RCIA stuff they had to endure.]
- Did you know that prior to the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, people were not expected to actively participate in Mass by responding, praying, or singing – people were there just to “hear” the Mass? (Chapter 2, #48) [This is a falsehood. Of course people were expected to participate actively at Mass, but actively in its most authentic sense of interiorly receptive activity. Furthermore, Popes throughout the 20th century urged people to make responses during Mass and clarified which parts they could participate in also with outward, vocal participation.]
- Did you know that the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy calls for conscious and active participation in Mass and affairs of the Church by all the faithful by reason of our baptism? It set in motion the ability for lay people, including women, who were previously not even allowed in the sanctuary, to be lectors, Eucharistic Ministers, [No!] altar servers, [altar girls were promoted contrary to the law] and hold leadership positions. (Chapter 2, #14) [This is incorrect. Before the Council began, during the Pontificate of Pius XII there was an important document on Sacred Music which promoted congregational singing and gave a clear, strong definition of "active participation". Also, lay people cannot be "Eucharistic Ministers". They can be ministers of "Holy Communion". Only the ordained are truly Eucharistic Ministers.]
These statements are misleading. They reflect an attitude of, “Before the Council, bad. After the Council, good.” It is not uncommon among people of a certain age to find a view that the Church really began with Vatican II. They want you simply to accept their premises (e.g., women being allowed into the sanctuary is a good thing). Continue reading
The above video is a salute to Rick Santorum, former candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, for understanding the essential nature of the Crusades as a defensive reaction to Islamic aggression. In the video below we have a rather mindless reaction to the same quote from a talking head from the liberal group Young Turks, who, judging from his comments, gained his knowledge of the Crusades from the laughably ahistorical crusader bashing flick Kingdom of Heaven (2005).
Ignorance of the depth displayed in the video above is always to be lamented, and is not unusual, as noted by Dr. Thomas Madden, one of the foremost of the scholars of the Crusades, who, over the past 40 years, have revolutionized our knowledge and understanding of that epoch:
The crusades are quite possibly the most misunderstood event in European history. Ask a random American about them and you are likely to see a face wrinkle in disgust, or just the blank stare that is usually evoked by events older than six weeks. After all, weren’t the crusaders just a bunch of religious nuts carrying fire and sword to the land of the Prince of Peace? Weren’t they cynical imperialists seeking to carve out colonies for themselves in faraway lands with the blessings of the Catholic Church? A couch potato watching the BBC/A&E documentary on the crusades (hosted by Terry Jones of Monty Python fame no less) would learn in roughly four hours of frivolous tsk-tsk-ing that the peaceful Muslim world actually learned to be warlike from the barbaric western crusaders. No wonder, then, that Pope John Paul II was excoriated for his refusal to apologize for the crusades in 1999. No wonder that a year ago Wheaton College in Illinois dropped their Crusader mascot of 70 years. No wonder that hundreds of Americans and Europeans recently marched across Europe and the Middle East begging forgiveness for the crusades from any Muslim or Jew who would listen. No wonder.
Jonah Goldberg, in his just released book Tyranny of Cliches, demonstrates that he is aware of the current scholarship on the Crusades:
The great irony is that the zealot-reformers who want to return to a “pure” Islam have been irredeemably corrupted by Western ideas. Osama bin Laden had the idea that he was fighting the “new crusaders.” When George W. Bush once, inadvertently, used the word “crusade,” jihadists and liberal intellectuals alike erupted with rage. It was either a damning slip of the tongue whereby Bush accidentally admitted his real crusader agenda, or it was a sign of his stunning ignorance about the Crusades. Doesn’t he know what a sensitive issue the Crusades are? Doesn’t he know that the Crusades belong alongside the slaughter of the Indians, slavery, and disco in the long line of Western sins?
After all, it’s been in the papers for a while. In 1999, Muslim leaders demanded that Pope John Paul II apologize for the Crusades. “He has asked forgiveness from the Jews [for the Church’s passivity in the face of the Holocaust], so he should ask forgiveness from the Muslims,” Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, told the New York Times.3 Across the country sports teams have been dropping their crusader mascots because they’re offensive to . . . someone. Wheaton College changed their seventy-year-old team name from the Crusaders to the Thunder (no word from Thor worshippers yet as to whether they are off ended). Even Campus Crusade for Christ opted to change its name to Cru partly because the word crusade has become too radioactive. “It’s become a flash word for a lot of people. It harkens back to other periods of time and has a negative connotation for lots of people across the world, especially in the Middle East,” Steve Sellers, the organization’s vice president told Christianity Today. “In the ’50s, crusade was the evangelistic term in the United States. Over time, different words take on different meanings to different groups.”4
I’ll say. Until fairly recently, historically speaking, Muslims used to brag about being the winners of the Crusades, not the victims of it. That is if they talked about them at all. “The Crusades could more accurately be described as a limited, belated and, in the last analysis, ineffectual response to the jihad—a failed attempt to recover by a Christian holy war what had been lost to a Muslim holy war,” writes Bernard Lewis, the greatest living historian of Islam in the English language (and perhaps any language).5 Historian Thomas Madden puts it more directly, “Now put this down in your notebook, because it will be on the test: The crusades were in every way a defensive war. They were the West’s belated response to the Muslim conquest of fully two-thirds of the Christian world.”6 Continue reading
Tavis Smiley claims that terrorist activities by Christians happens quite often in the United States. Not only does he make the claim that Christians do terrorism, but there are more terrorist acts done by Christians than by Muslims.
Mr. Smiley expressed these thoughts on a program hosted by Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS).
Here are his exact words:
“Oh, Christians, every day, people walk into post offices, they walk into schools, that’s what Columbine is – I could do this all day long. There are so many more examples of Christians – and I happen to be a Christian. That’s back to this notion of your idealizing Christianity in my mind, to my read. There are so many more examples, Ayaan, of Christians who do that than you could ever give me examples of Muslims who have done that inside this country, where you live and work.”
“Ken Pittman: Right, if you are a Catholic, and believe what the Pope teaches that any form of birth control is a sin. ah you don’t want to do that.
Martha Coakley: No we have a separation of church and state Ken, lets be clear.
Ken Pittman: In the emergency room you still have your religious freedom.
Martha Coakley: (…stammering) The law says that people are allowed to have that. You can have religious freedom but you probably shouldn’t work in the emergency room.”
A charming sentiment from Martha Coakley running for the Senate seat in Massachusetts. For this gem, I award Ms. Coakley the second American Catholic Know-Nothing Award. If I were living in Massachusetts, I would be out next Tuesday to cast my vote against this bigot.
Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. As someone who received an undergraduate degree in the teaching of social studies, I am never very surprised when a school administration decides to engage in an act of public stupidity, however, this incident is in a class all by itself.
A second grade student at the Maxham Elementary School in Taunton, People’s Republic of Massachusetts, was sent home from school after drawing a picture of Jesus on the cross. The student made the drawing in response to a class assignment that the students draw something that reminded them of Christmas. Apparently the student’s dullard teacher decided that the drawing of the cross was too violent. The school administration, in a move which hearkens back to the old Soviet Union placing dissidents in psych wards, decreed that not only would the child be sent home, but that he would have to undergo a psych evaluation.
I’ve never had much use for Jimmy Carter. I view him as in the running with James Buchanan for the title of worst President of the United States, and he has always struck me as a mean and spiteful little man. Now he adds the title of bigot to his list of dishonors. In an address to the World Parliament of Religions (You know that has to give God a good laugh!) the Solon of Plains is reported to have unloaded on both Southern Baptists and Catholics.
In opposition to the vast majority of authentic scholars and historians, Carter asserted: “It’s clear that during the early Christian era women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets.” He added: “It wasn’t until the 4th century or the 3rd at the earliest that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant position within the religious hierarchy.”
Contrary to the theorizing of Carter, Pope John Paul II taught, “The Lord Jesus chose men to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry.” He added: “the Church recognizes herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord himself. For this reason the ordination of women is not possible.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church; 1577)
Carter singled out the Southern Baptist Convention and Roman Catholic Church, claiming that they “view that the Almighty considers women to be inferior to men.” However, both Christian faiths hold to the Scriptural truth that God created men and women equal.
Carter suggests that only in permitting women to become priests and pastors could male religious leaders choose to interpret teachings to exalt rather than subjugate women. “They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter, subjugation,” he said.
“Their continuing choice provides a foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world,” said Carter. Carter goes on to list horrific violations against women such as rape, genital mutilation, abortion of female embryos and spousal battery.
Fertilizing embryos? You know, I never thought much of the intelligence of ex-President Clinton, although I stood in awe of his political skills, but I did think, based upon his colorful history, that he had the facts of life down pat. For his future reference, and the edification of anyone who agrees with him about fertilizing embryos, this video might be helpful. The fellow not correcting Clinton? Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the nominee of President Obama for Surgeon General until Gupta abruptly withdrew his name from consideration.
Update: Father Z is all over this story.