Thursday, August 7, AD 2014

Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently for the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, addresses at Midwest Conservative Journal the perennial question of what to do when a child decides to go astray:

From the dawn of time, parents everywhere have dreaded having to face that terrible moment when one of their children rejects the family religious tradition:

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2 Responses to Kids!

  • I actually knew a pagan guy in college (very into LARPing). I believe his family was/is Catholic. We had a conversation once about what it would be like to raise a child as a pagan. He couldn’t really answer my questions. Will your kids go to pagan Sunday school? Will the whole family dance around the back yard naked on the full moon? As far as I know he’s still a pagan according to Facebook, and he has a kid. This dinner conversation might be in his future.

  • “This dinner conversation might be in his future.”

    Indeed. There was a moment in the real life Mutiny on the Bounty after the mutiny where Captain Bligh tells Fletcher Christian that he found it quite difficult even with Naval regulations, the authority of the King and patriotism to keep the crew from running amok. Bligh predicted that without any of these things Christian would find it impossible, and so it proved. Christianity has 2000 years of prayers, thoughts, actions, institutions and writings that stretch back to the dawn of history behind it. If it finds it difficult to keep the young faithful, made up faiths like contemporary paganism have little chance of doing so.

Environmentalist Proponents Jump The Shark

Friday, October 1, AD 2010

An environmental confederation in the UK got the talented screenwriter Richard Curtis to produce a short film, ironically called No Pressure, for the 10:10 campaign, an effort to remind people to do their part in reducing carbon emission 10% by 2010 AD.

Unfortunately for the environmental movement the film backfired because it reinforced the image that beneath the surface environmentalists will do anything once in power to make it compulsory to follow their vision for the future, which includes violence.

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15 Responses to Environmentalist Proponents Jump The Shark

  • ++ Pretty hilarious. I was sure it was some kind of comedic jujitsu, an anti-enviro-mental send-up. It’s not available at 1010’s website which made me more suspicious. But Richard Curtis’ wikipedia entry says that he in fact did make the video in support of the group, but they had to take it down from their website because of outrage over its gory “no pressure” message.
    ++ Either way, great comedy always has an element of believability – you just know the enviro-mentals secretly wouldn’t mind the rest of us disappearing in a pink cloud of goo.

  • Thomas,

    I can’t believe it got past the writing stage!

    These guys live in a world of their own.

  • I cannot fathom how anyone with the 10:10 campaign could possibly have believed that this ad would have benefited their cause.

  • I was shocked that it was that bad…that’s unbelievable.

  • Maybe Curtis watched Monty Python’s “How Not To Be Seen” video a few times too many?

  • Elaine: The MP videos are very funny, but that is because they are not espousing any particular political viewpoint. So I (or anyone) can simply accept them as absurd.

    Showing children and employees and soccer players blown up because they do not subscribe to a particular political philosophy moves the 10:10 video into a universe of its’ own. The Python skit was a lark – this commercial descends into radical evil. The message is: “Conform or be killed.” Lovely. I have no problem imagining the teacher hectoring the students to believe in the importance of one child per couple (for the environment, dontcha know!). A couple of children object and are blown up.

    This illustrates liberal fascism better than Jonah Goldberg’s book does.

  • That’s horrifying. How could anyone but a psychopath find that funny?

    It’s worth a look though (for adults who have been forewarned) because I think it gives us a glimpse into the mind of the film’s producer and undoubtedly the minds of eco-fascists in general. They hate humanity.

  • You gotta admit that this is much more efficient than what the Nazis had going on. To these 10:10 people the real travesty of Auschwitz was its unspeakably huge carbon footprint.

  • You gotta admit that this is much more efficient than what the Nazis had going on.

    Yeah, the device used to blow up dissenters just magically knows who the naysayers are.

    To these 10:10 people the real travesty of Auschwitz was its unspeakably huge carbon footprint.

    Well, in all fairness, the Nazis did “recycle” hair, gold teeth, and skin. That should win them some points among the 10:10 crowd.

  • Pretty darn passive-aggressive, if you ask me.

  • I agree that 10:10 is infinitely more offensive and less funny than “How Not To Be Seen”. At least Monty Python had the good sense not to show their victims’ blood and vital organs splattering everywhere in graphic and stomach-churning fashion. However, I cannot help but wonder if the 10:10 creators weren’t, shall we say, “inspired” by Monty Python but took the premise way too far.

  • Remix time!

  • In the 21st century Environmentalism and radical Islam are what the Communists and Nazis were for the 20th century.

  • Pingback: Environmental Culture of Death « The American Catholic

Sacred and Holy?

Sunday, September 5, AD 2010

And they cried with a loud voice, saying:  How long, O Lord (holy and true) dost thou not judge and revenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? Apocalypse 6:10

If you listen closely you can hear the attendants (which include the mayor of our fine city of Houston Anise Parker) at this “dedication” commenting on their newly “sacred and holy” ground. They are speaking of the largest abortuary in the United States.

If we are moving toward, or already in, a post-Christian civilization then should we be surprised that those who promote and support abortion and other anti-life policies impart a religious sheen on their actions?  After all, human sacrifice was present in almost all pagan religions to some extent with the Aztec sacrifices being among the most infamous.  These people are willing and proud worshipers of Baal and, unless we pray, fast and offer Masses in reparation for these sins, we will only allow this evil to grow and ever more innocents slaughtered at the altar of “Choice”.

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5 Responses to Sacred and Holy?

  • Walter,

    Thanks for posting this.

    It’s a crying shame that the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston has the largest abortuary in their backyard.

    I’d like to know if there was a Catholic priest present at the ceremony and what is his name. I only say this because the attendees were reading from a pamphlet that said “holy and sacred ground”. Sounds very Catholic to me.

    That and Carol Alvarado, a Catholic state representative is shown prominently in this video. She is also (or was) on the board of directors of Planned Parenthood of Southeast Texas (Houston).

  • Yeah thanks for posting this.. I get sick listening to that mayor and state rep – notably misguided by a passion that can’t see the truth… Please people from Houston vote them out…

  • “holy and sacred ground” sounds very Catholic to me”

    It could just as easily be Episcopalian, since a lot of their liturgy “sounds Catholic” too (in some cases, more Catholic than the current Novus Ordo).

  • McClarey posted some homilies by Cardinal Newman this past Lent that addressed the neo pagan-atheism that will plague our times.

    It seems we may be experiencing that right now. Secularization of society, practical atheism, and a president with an ideological bent toward socialism, liberation theology, collective salvation and Mohammadism (he may not be a Muslim, but he is certainly sympatico).

    Add that to Human child sacrifice (abortion), use of magic potions (drug and alcohol abuse), sexual rites (cohabitation, pedophilia, pornography, sodomy, homosexualism, ‘gay marriage’, incest, polyamorous unions, etc.) and a generally hedonistic culture.

    We, orthodox Catholics, are nothing more than a remnant in a culture that is more pagan and evil than pre-Christian Rome.

    Time for the saints to rise up.

  • I noticed that the woman in red was clearly embarrassed and did not want to pronounce the word “abortion”.

    They perfectly well know what they are doing and desperately try to delude themselves into thinking that they are not murdering anyone.


Natural Does Not Equal Good

Wednesday, September 1, AD 2010

“Unnatural, mummy? You tell me, what’s nature’s way? If poison mushrooms grow and babies come with crooked backs, if goiters thrive and dogs go mad and wives kill husbands, what’s unnatural?”
Richard, The Lion in Winter

One of the claims to which people seem peculiarly susceptible at the moment is that if something is “natural”, it must be good. “Natural” foods are believed to be uniformly healthy. The finding that some particular behavior (say, polyamory) is found in nature is taken to be some sign that it is a good thing.

I think a fair amount of this results from our culture having lost a sense of tragic vision in regards to nature — we naturally assume that unless some active force comes along and makes things bad, that they will be good. This could not be farther from a traditional view of nature. While neo-pagans are sure that being “in tune” with nature would be a blissful and pleasant state, real pagans of the ancient world saw the natural forces that were bound up with their gods as capricious, sometimes cruel, and almost always unconcerned with the impact of their actions upon mortals.

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51 Responses to Natural Does Not Equal Good

  • Darwin,

    I think the appeal of “natural” things is really a reaction against the scientistic arrogance of the modern technocracy. And I think that is a good thing.

  • They’ll argue that it’s natural, but won’t admit the possibility that defects also occur in nature.

  • I think the appeal of “natural” things is really a reaction against the scientistic arrogance of the modern technocracy. And I think that is a good thing.

    Actually, I think that’s a really good point, Joe. And that can be a valuable check to our “we can do anything we want” modern outlook. I often find myself pointing to what we are and how we work as creatures in order to say, “No, human beings aren’t meant to work this way.”

    At the same time, I think there’s an unhealthy way to turn to nature as well.

    So sure, Bonobos engage in casual group sex to defuse social tensions and reduce conflict. They also at times engage in cannibalism. I don’t think that the fact these critters are comparatively closely related to us and exhibit these behaviors means those behaviors are “good”.

  • If we all acted on our natural desires, Charlize Theron wouldn’t get a moment’s peace. The men of the world would amass around her house and fight to the death for the chance to be with her.

    When did we accept this idea that all desires are to be indulged, anyway? I know you could trace it back to the Romantic movement, or the Enlightenment, or ultimately to the Fall, but no one actually believed it. It was a theory. Humans would sit around and talk about how cool it would be to do whatever we wanted, then our moms would call us for dinner, and we’d obediently go home. The only new thing under the sun is that we actually think that this nonsense is a workable life vision.

  • “If we all acted on our natural desires, Charlize Theron wouldn’t get a moment’s peace.”

    First I would have to know who she is Pinky. If we get past that hurdle, I am sure my good wife would help make certain that my natural desires, such as they are, would keep themselves firmly in check. 🙂

  • If we all acted on our natural desires, Charlize Theron wouldn’t get a moment’s peace. The men of the world would amass around her house and fight to the death for the chance to be with her

    We need a comment of the year award at TAC. That’s awesome, lol.

  • All this shows is that people confuse fallen desires as natural desires, and engage heresy by saying nature is not good. Got it.

  • So, while we must make it clear that what is natural IS good (and that is why NATURAL LAW is valid), we are not always engaging the world according to nature (and why people misconstrue natural law by assuming fallen mode of being as being what is natural).

  • Henry,

    When most people talk about something being “natural” they mean “found in nature”. That is the sense that I’m using here.

  • Tone aside, Henry’s probably right.

  • I think there’s a general recognition that not everything natural is good but I also think people are skeptical of messing with nature in ways we don’t fully understand. Some of it is warranted. Things once thought safe have been proven to be unsafe. Some of it is due to ignorance of the science and some of it is due to the fact that the science is unclear. I see a paradox here. On social and economic issues, conservatives like to argue that we should be cautious because we don’t know the unintended consequences of changes. But on environmental issues, liberals make the same argument.

  • “So sure, Bonobos engage in casual group sex to defuse social tensions and reduce conflict. They also at times engage in cannibalism. I don’t think that the fact these critters are comparatively closely related to us and exhibit these behaviors means those behaviors are “good”.”

    Much the same can be said for Bobos.

  • Much the same can be said for Bobos.

    Now, that is in contention for comment of the year. Ha!

  • There is “nature” and then there is “natural law”. For the Catholic Church the natural law is God’s law. For a very complete and nuanced discussion of natural law and how it should be incorporated into the laws of the State, I would recommend reading Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical “Libertas”. If you don’t want to read the whole thing you can read my article on it here:
    Pope Leo XIII on Freedom

    The cult of freedom is one of the central problems which American society faces. Unrestricted freedom is not a blessing; it’s a curse. When America drops the teachings of Jesus Christ as the basis for morality, then it is left with no basis for morality at all. This is clear from reading the decision by Judge Walker on Proposition 8. Morality is one of those things that is not subject to reason. The same arguments that the Judge uses to say that religious arguments are absurd with regards gay “marriage” can be applied to just about any moral issue.

  • “Now, that is in contention for comment of the year. Ha!”

    As soon as people start saying you’re the best, every young kid with a revolver comes gunning for ya.

  • You’re right, Pinky. I’m blowing this blog and heading for safer waters. Vox Nova. No one shoots straight there.

  • Baba,

    If we had more freedom, and less judicial tyranny, Prop 8 would have been upheld.

  • It’s not surprising that both Dan Savage and Andrew Sullivan are enthusiastically pushing this book. Both men are 1. gay and strongly in favor of gay marriage and 2. are or have been quite promiscuous. They want to have their cake and eat it too. They want the financial benefits and societal respect accorded marriage, but they also wish to continue to sleep around. If polyamory can be widely accepted as “natural” and thus superior to “oppressive” old monogamy, then they can continue to bedhop after marriage without censure.

    It’s hardly stop the presses! news to anybody that people may be attracted to other people besides their spouses. It’s also not news that some married folks will yield to temptation. What is a modern twist is the rather sad need some people have to have all of their own sexual quirks and proclivities and tastes applauded and approved of by “society.”

    What those people wish to avoid thinking about is the idea that unlike bonobos and dogs and chickens, humans form deep relationships with their mates. A hen does not suffer agonies because tonight her true love Col. Foghorn Leghorn is spending the evening with another cute chick. Anybody I’ve known who has favored polyamory (and gee, sorry guys, but it always seems to be men who argue that polyamory or polygamy are natural and therefore we women are much too hard on straying mates)ends up saying people, i.e. women “shouldn’t” shouldn’t suffer agonies, shouldn’t be possessive, shouldn’t get all hurt and unreasonable. Sorry, but they are and those feelings of betrayal and agony and hurt are every bit as “natural” as polyamory.

    What hedonists also ignore is that “nature” is pretty darn hard on the promiscuous. Before AIDS, there was syphilis and there are still quite a few lesser STD’s which can make one’s existence very uncomfortable.

  • Joe. You seem to be taking the Libertarian view towards freedom. This is the logical conclusion of the view that absolute freedom trumps all other values. This is the creed of the cult of freedom. “I believe in Freedom.” (Or Liberty if you prefer.)

    Catholic teaching is quite different. It emphasizes submission to God’s will which results in a very different kind of freedom which is freedom from sin. We are all slaves, we just serve different masters. A judge who is serving God can and should do everything possible to change a law that is against God’s will. So there is a justification for judicial activism if used properly.

    In fact there is nothing inherently good about democracy. If “we the people” are not guided by God’s law, then democracy is just another form of dictatorship. In fact Pope Benedict XVI talked about a “dictatorship of relativism”:

    “Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be ‘tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine’, seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.”

    You notice that the Church of Christ is not a democracy. (And neither are most businesses.) I think the “overturning popular opinion” argument is one of the weakest, and is a position that is being taken because it conveniently suits the purposes of those opposing gay “marriage”. If we concede that religion should not be the basis for morality and therefore the law, then we have lost not only the battle but also the war. The biggest flaw in the Constitution is that it does not mention God, but this is in line with Enlightenment thinking. And now we are seeing where this flaw finally takes us, which is back to the morality of the ancient Greeks.

  • Why does “it’s natural” almost always boil down to “I wanna”?

  • “Sorry, but they are and those feelings of betrayal and agony and hurt are every bit as “natural” as polyamory.”

    More so Donna, since without those type of feelings it is impossible for the deepest of love to occur, something that hedonists eventually learn to their cost. When everything is reduced to the physical and the surface, with no intention of deeper attachments being formed, it becomes completely meaningless, and often sooner rather than later.

  • Good Morning baba,

    I understand these principles in our personal lives. Free Will gives us the freedom to do whatever we wish; which is to say that we are entirely free to either follow God’s plan or go it on our own. Ultimately, there are consequences to choices and true freedom is the ability to sleep soundly because we are ready to be taken home at His command.

    I wonder if I might persuade you to tie this into the larger civil society though? I suspect that most readers and bloggers here agree and understand the principles you state. But, once we get past our personal lives, there is a bit of a vacuum as to the application. Perhaps you are saying that, while the larger civil society SHOULD be organized to direct us towards those principles, as a practical matter, it is not and never will be?

    I suspect that the last statement is true and look to the experience of the Israelites – each reorganization of society around different leadership principles meant to “correct” the defect of not following God’s commands and each failing miserably – and Christ’s admonition to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s for support. Do I have it right?

  • I’ve always refuted the natural=good argument (such as is found in “Marijuana grows in nature so it’s okay”) with “Arsenic is natural. Are you going to ingest some of that?”

  • G-Veg. I guess we need to ask why the US was successful at implementing a democracy, while in France it failed. I think this is because the US did not fully embrace enlightenment principles the way France did. The US did not reject Christianity, but rather embraced it. This kept the US from falling into a dogmatic death spiral like what happened in France.

    In the US there was an undeclared truce that was worked out between the deists that wrote the Constitution and the vast majority of the population which were Christians. The deists while not believing in Christianity took care not to denounce it – at least not in public. (The exception being Thomas Paine in “Age of Reason”.)

    There was an unwritten concordat (if you will) that delineated the boundaries between the state and Christianity. (In contrast in France under Napoleon there was an actual written concordat with the Vatican concerning the roles of the state and the Church in education and marriage, etc.)

    This arrangement worked well enough in the US until the 20th century. The biggest factor I think was the emergence of mass communication (radio, TV, movies) which was quickly seen by the Humanist forces as a powerful weapon which could be used in a cultural war. The dogmatism imposed by the state from above (by force) was replaced by a creeping dogmatism that infiltrated into the individual conscience through constant exposure (via the media) to enlightenment ideals.

    So to answer your question, the solution is not to impose Catholic doctrine in a dogmatic fashion from above. The only solution is to nurture a Christian conscience in individuals, and then encourage those individuals to work through society to make changes from within. This probably means that in the future Christianity will become a dwindling minority in the US. Of course we need to remember that for God all things are possible, and we must continue to have faith in His Plan.

  • Well, I just can’t stay away! 😉

    Henry is right. We need to be careful to distinguish between natural desires and fallen desires. Natural desires are rightly ordered desires–ordered according to the meaning and purpose of human existence. Fallen desires are disordered (yet still natural and still good) desires–ordered contrary to the meaning and purpose of human existence.

    So while the feeling of sexual attraction that a man may have for a man is still *natural*, it is disordered, and hence, fallen.

    Yes, everything is natural. But no, not everything is ordered as it should be. Sexual attraction, and sexual behavior, is ordered toward the purpose and meaning of sexuality.

    Perhaps when someone says, ‘it is natural’, we should ask: well, what do you mean by ‘natural’? Do you mean that it is part of the natural order and oriented toward the purpose of that order? Or do you mean simply that you saw it happen somewhere at some time?

  • And now I promise to go back to my Amish-Catholic web-free zone. God bless, everyone.

  • To Joe’s point in his first paragraph, Fr. Benedict Ashley OP has made the compelling point that Romanticism (which values nature in the sense which Darwin uses it) and modern technocracy are two sides of the same coin. I wish I could flesh out his point more, but the book in which he makes the point (Choosing a Worldview and Value System) is currently boxed up for an office move! In any case, it’s a provocative point which might be worth following up upon.

  • Chris. The Romantics, if you’re talking about people like Percy Shelley, were anti-religious, so they fit in nicely with the thinking of Darwin and Huxley. The “theory” of evolution is largely a pretext to attack religion – especially the Bible. Shelley’s “Prometheus Unbound” reveals his anti-religious thinking. Prometheus is the Titan who stole fire from the gods of Mt. Olympus, who are used to represent religion. The fire which Prometheus gave to Man is used to represent technology.

    The hope of Darwin, Shelley and others (Malthus, Huxley, etc.) is to unbound science (Prometheus) from religion. This is the same sort of Enlightenment thinking that drives the French Revolution and socialism. One of the things that results from this is the absolute separation of Church and State. (Notice also the similarity between Prometheus and Lucifer the “light bearer”.)

    Shelley’s wife, Mary Shelley, wrote Frankenstein. The complete title is “Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus”. You can see that even back then they were thinking of how Man could create a new form of life. The ultimate goal of this movement is for Man to become like God. This is Nietzsche’s Superman. (“God is dead.”) This is also the origins of the eugenics (“good gene”) movement.

    Today we have people like Craig Venter playing God through biotechnology. And we have the Humanists telling us how wonderful stem cell technology is – especially if they can use human embryos to experiment on – because this paves the way for creating a real life “Modern Prometheus” (Frankenstein).

    And the flip side of this is people creating a robot with artificial intelligence which is another way for Man to become God. The ultimate goal is to create a “Transhuman” which goes beyond natural evolution to create a new species of Man that incorporates both biological and computer technology. (Also nano-technology.) I’ve explored some of these ideas on my blog:
    Agnostica Eugenica Transhumana – A Dragon’s tail
    Iron Man as Prometheus Unbound

    So yes, Romanticism and Technology are oddly coupled. The Romantics would probably have been deists that looked to nature as their god and would have been revolting against Christianity since they would say that it Christianity against scientific reasoning. Not very “romantic” if you ask me, but then Humanist aren’t very humane either.

  • Clarifications:

    Henry is right. We need to be careful to distinguish between natural desires and fallen desires. Natural desires are rightly ordered desires–ordered according to the meaning and purpose of human existence. Fallen desires are disordered (yet still natural and still good) desires–ordered contrary to the meaning and purpose of human existence.

    Natural inclinations are rightly ordered through the acquisition of virtue (or through growth in the infused virtue). Fallen desires may be equivalent to desires not yet ordered by reason, or it may mean disordered desires. That they may have a good object does not mean that the desire itself is good, if it is opposed to reason.

    So while the feeling of sexual attraction that a man may have for a man is still *natural*, it is disordered, and hence, fallen.
    An analysis relying upon hylomorphism:
    A defect may be said to be natural in so far as it proceeds from matter and not form. I deny that SSA is natural in the sense that it is proper to the form. Those who wish to make same-sex attraction natural are implicitly arguing this.

    Yes, everything is natural. But no, not everything is ordered as it should be. Sexual attraction, and sexual behavior, is ordered toward the purpose and meaning of sexuality.
    The problem is ordering — if same-sex attraction is unchosen and pre-rational, then it makes no sense to say that it is not ordered as it should be, since order comes with reason and not prior to it. Unless you mean that it is not ordered with respect to the author of that desire, God Himself. This is akin to saying that God made them homosexual even though He wants them to be heterosexual.

    One cannot “order” a desire which has for its object that which is intrinsically opposed to reason. One can only not act in accordance with it.

    Thus to say SSA is “natural” without the necessary clarifications is to concede too much to the homosexual agenda.

  • Baba-
    argument slightly weakened by Frankenstein (and the storyline, which has been copied to the point of parody) being a classic story of why it’s bad to play god– you’ll lose everything you love.

  • PB-
    I think the “order” they’re talking about is from a specific theory– short version, in the ideal world it wouldn’t exist. No natural disasters, no babies with crooked backs, no inborn perverse desire. I can’t remember which philosopher it was, one of the classics?

  • Apropos to this interesting topic is an essay written by Paul Griffiths that was published in April or May in First Things, in which he denies our epistemic ability to distinguish between natural and unnatural desires given the fall. That essay caused a big ruckus, but I think its main point holds, and is an important point for American Catholics to keep in mind. (For one thing, it eviscerates the pretensions of new-natural law theorists who pretend as though we can read off from the structure of practical rationality a conclusion about same-sex marriage, among other things.)

  • WJ

    Paul is right, and I have discussed similar topics before when dealing with the problems behind “natural law.” The issue is not that the idea behind “natural law” is in error, nor that there is an element of truth which we can get to when addressing it, it is, however, limited and obscured by sin. For an interesting thinking who writes on the problems of natural law, I would always recommend Ellul. I think he goes too far (too much Barth and negativity toward the human) but I do think he reminds us concerns.

  • WJ — FT is for subscribers only, so I can’t comment on it, but there is this: Desires Natural and Unnatural: A Reply to Paul Griffiths

    As for a book that touches upon the concept of nature, see Steve Long’s latest.

  • The “not a choice” supporters should explain why they do not approve of incest, bestiality and ephebophilia or paedophilia (all very “natural” to those who commit them, who will claim that they “do not have a choice”). Instead, the liberals pick a particular perversion (homosexuality) and decide that *that* is all right because it’s “natural”.

    If they do approve of all the other abominations, they shouldd say it out loud so that the majority of decent (if gullible) people may become fully aware of their evil thinking.


  • WJ & Henry,

    Sadly, I’m not a First Things subscriber at the moment, so I can’t get to Griffiths’ essay right now, though I’ll make a point of seeking it out in a month or two when it comes out from behind the subscriber-only wall.

    It does certainly strike me, at a practical level, that one of the big problems with natural law is that it is hard to get people of differing viewpoints to agree on what it is. There is most certainly a reality of how things work in regards to our nature and the nature of the world which we can know through experience and observation. But there’s also, obviously, a lot which goes on in nature and can thus be observed which is not natural in the sense of conforming to our nature/ideal form.

  • pb,

    I had not read that response. Thanks. I wonder, though, if the response of Snell doesn’t just push the problem to a different level. Snell writes:

    “The Thomist never looks at the soul to find some natural shape to its structure; the Thomist examines the intentions of the human being, the “why?” and “what for?” of action. A person does x. Why? Well, for the sake of y. He or she intended y and so chose x. This is the domain of intelligibility, of form.”

    But I take it that one of Griffiths’s major points–a point supported by Augustine, Nietzsche, and Freud–is that the answer to “why?” is never so tidy as a typical new natural lawyer would present it as being. At issue is not the contention that such a domain of intelligibility exists (at least not for Augustine, which distinguishes him from Nietzsche), nor that that domain does not, if fully understood, reveal the hierarchy of ends culminating in God (which distinguishes Augustine from Freud), but that our *epistemic* access to such intelligibility is so impaired that, beyond the most general or abstract level (say, the level of the primary precepts of the natural law), we must simply throw up our hands. This, I take it, is the Augustinian alternative to what many perceive as the naive optimism of new natural lawyers.

    Of course, both positions are well within orthodoxy; though they sometimes issue in very different assessments of what can or should be expected of a polity not formed by Christ and his Church, and consequently of whether, for example, arguments against gay-marriage should have any rational force for those not already being formed in Christ.

  • “The Thomist never looks at the soul to find some natural shape to its structure; the Thomist examines the intentions of the human being, the “why?” and “what for?” of action. A person does x. Why? Well, for the sake of y. He or she intended y and so chose x. This is the domain of intelligibility, of form.”

    I don’t know what sources he has consulted, but Snell is just wrong on this point if this is meant to be exclusive. The Thomist looks not only at the intention but also at the external act. But as to the more important point — how is our epistemic access. I don’t think it’s a problem with the intelligibility of ends, as those who advocate same-sex marriage, for the most part, appeal to the same set of goods. The question is of the means, and whether the means is correctly ordered to the ends. And yes, here it is possible that the lack of order in the soul, whether it be through vice or an unnatural inclination, can affect our moral reasoning. The problem is not with the reasoning or the “intelligibility” but with will’s influence on the act of judgment.

    Now, the “real world situation” may be the same regardless of which account is better, but even there I’d disagree with what you wrote to a point — just because arguments for certain laws do not have rational force for some people does not mean that those laws should not be put into effect. Good Catholic moral theology (or Catholic teaching, for that matter) has never endorsed the sort of egalitarianism which demands that all laws must be assented to by all before they can be promulgated.

  • pb,

    We are really not very far away from each other, are we?

    I agree with you that Snell’s (and Finnis’ and George’s) is an attenuated Thomism. I suspect that the reason why it is so is that–at least in Finnis and Grisez–the is/ought distinction is accepted as the starting point for ethics.

    I suppose that I am not as certain as you are that the question “why are you doing x?” is as easily answered as you present it as being. It may be that these parties, while they appear to agree, are in fact using the same terms in equivocal senses; it may be that each party is doing x for some reason other than what he/she presents to him/herself upon refletion, and that he/she really has no access to a determinate answer to this question, etc.

    But of course I grant that, assuming a non-equivocal response, the arguments most usually turn upon whether the means advocated by each party in the dispute align with or fall away from the ends toward which they are directed.

    I also agree on what you say about law at the conclusion of your comment. I’d just want to add that, once you realize that certain laws do not and cannot be expected to have rational force for large sectors of the population, you are then faced with the *prudential* decision about how the Church should act in relation to it. To take up the case of same-sex marriage, for example, Paul Griffiths holds (unsurprisingly) that Catholics should forget about what the American polity can or cannot be rationally persuaded of and should instead refocus their energies on revitalizing their own ecclesial community, hoping by doing so to display the beauty of Christian sexuality and thus, God willing, gain converts. Robert George has a different answer to this question, of course. And they both seem to me to be well within the Catholic tradition.

  • WJ, apparently not! It seems likely that I’d disagree with the substance of Griffith’s argument, but I do agree with his practical recommendations for the most part–though I do see a place for some sort of “political activism” at the local or state level in those areas where such can be effective.

  • Would that I was as well read!!! It has been a fascinating discussion to watch unfold. Thank you.

    I wonder though if the personal experiences of Catholics are as conflicted as the theoretical framework seems to suggest we should be.

    I know what I do is wrong and I know why it is wrong from the moment that it enters my head. It is not a rational response. I simply “know” that a particular act is wrong. Unfortunately, I often do it anyway. Tragically, I frequently analyze before action – specifically recognizing both that the particular act is wrong and that there are alternatives. It is this reality – knowing what is wrong and consciously choosing to do it – that condemns me.

    I have absorbed tens of thousands of rules that are at play behind the scene – “do unto others…, Thou shalt not…, It is unlawful… etc.” and I do not doubt that the basis of the conscious conscience is formed rather than imbued. My experience though is that there is a deeper understanding – something that drives the eyes down in shame before reason kicks in – at work. It is THAT force that I think of as “natural law.”

    It is my experience that the force that wells up from beneath reason is a surer test of right and wrong than my later analysis. It is haunting in a way that cannot be managed or manipulated, it can only be accepted or rejected. All of the rules that are laid on top, even those which come verbatim from Scripture, can be maneuvered around: I apply exceptions and allowances that let me get some of what I want (and know to be wrong) – like I am negotiating with God.

    In case I’ve failed to make my point clear, my experience has been that I simply “know” (perhaps “feel” is a better word) that something is wrong and then, after I have done it, reason kicks in to explain away my culpability. Even if reason cannot fully exonerate me, the exercise allows me to imagine that I am not as guilty. And yet I am ashamed and that shame is the surest proof that no reasoning can take away the reality of my sins.

  • Reading over what I wrote, I had one thought to share: those “tens of thousands of rules that are at play behind the scene” tend to be extremely valuable for avoiding the opportunity for sin more than as the reason for knowing that something IS a sin or that I ought to avoid it. It is because I know the Golden Rule (and because I know that “what goes around, comes around” that I DON’T embarrass someone I dislike at a meeting. That particular acts are unseemly removes opportunity to sin.

  • G-Veg, pb, and WJ,

    Why not get a pic to your name?

    Go here:

  • Thanks for the pointer. Let us see if it took.

  • Me thinks I need to go back to the drawing board. The images is of St. Michael but it is too complicated for so small as space. Shrunk down, it is unintelligible.

  • Simple, elegant, bespeaking better days for the Keystone State…

  • Of course, I should have emptied my cache first.

  • I don’t want to kill this thread though. There is an important discussion about natural law going on. Forgive me for dragging it into the trivial.

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The New Paganism: Climate Change

Wednesday, January 6, AD 2010

The Pagans are coming out of the woodwork, or more properly named, coming out of the ice sculpture.

What is turning into an annual event in Fairbanks, Alaska, a frozen ice sculpture of Al Gore, or what the locals call “Frozen Gore”, was unveiled.

Steve Dean sculpted the two-ton ice block in tribute to Al Gore and his ‘theories’ of man-made Global Warming.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports with my emphases and comments in this truncated article:

This year’s version includes special effects, thanks to a system that pipes the exhaust from a Ford F-350 out of Gore’s open mouth. Compeau [who funded the ice sculpture] will fire up the truck periodically this winter to create the “hot air” effect.

50 years [ago]. The average temperature for 2009 was 27.8 degrees in Fairbanks, about one degree warmer than normal, said Rick Thoman, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Last winter, however, was unusually cold in Fairbanks. Temperatures in the winter months of 2008-09 were about 4 degrees below normal, according to National Weather Service figures.

The mocking tribute of Al Gore and the pseudoscience that he uses is cause for concern.  We need to start a movement to begin the separation of science and state in order to protect Americans from environmentalist fanatics such as Al Gore.

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73 Responses to The New Paganism: Climate Change

  • Al Gore is hardly a fanatic. Environmental fanatics attack whaling boats, live in trees for a few years. Gore wrote a book, won a prize, and has speaking gigs. No different from any other celebrity.

    I’ll grant you that celebrity is never a good engine to drive an issue, modern media outlets aside. But if you want to whine about paganism, look to the movement that has taken over every Sunday and holiday: professional sport.

  • Todd,

    Fanatics is defined as a person with an extreme and uncritical enthusiasm or zeal, as in religion or politics.

    I think that fits Mr. Gore well.

    Don’t you know that we should listen to celebrities on how to vote? 😉

  • One who elevates the spotted owl over the needs of families, for instance, the loss of 30,000 logging jobs, is a fanatic. It is madness.

  • If I can put my excessive reasonability hat on:

    – I’d say that it’s not political programs based on “science” that are a problem, but rather programs which are based on fundamental mistakes about human dignity. Eugenics treated people as only being worth the sum of their traits, and treated humanity as an improveable commodity. It violated basic human dignity when it forced “defective” people to be sterilized. None of this has anything to do with the “science” of eugenics (which turned out to be wrong as well) but rather with not respecting human dignity. Similarly, environmentalists suffer from a poor understanding of human dignity when they get into thinking of humanity as a “cancer on the planet” or see human lives as worth the same or less than animal lives, or seek to violate human life in order to reduce the effects of humanity on the planet.

    – There are some interesting ways in which environmentalism can fit into the same slot which paganism appealed to in the human mind, but I don’t think it’s right to simply equate environmentalism and paganism.

    – Gore is a bozo in part because he gets the actual science involved wrong — and one of the big problems with a lot of environmental advocacy is that it proposes changes which would have very little measureable impact on the scientific metrics involved, yet would involve a lot of negative impacts on society.

    – I’m not jazzed about the idea of a “separation of science and state”. To the extent that science is a way of knowing about the universe, one doesn’t want to rule it out of influencing political thinking any more than one wants to rule religion out of political thinking. However, it’s important to understand that science does not and cannot make moral or policy prescriptions. It can’t say “We must pass this law”. It’s only predictive, as in “If we make this change, this will be the result.” Anyone who claims that science says more than that is selling something.

  • DC

    You are right, environmentalism is not paganism, though both pagans and Christians can be environmentalists. As Pope Benedict himself has made clear, environmentalism is intricately connected to Catholicism and its pro-life message. If there are non-pro-life environmentalists encouraging evil, as there are, that must not be used to judge environmentalism itself– rather, it should be used as an example of where some environmentalists need to come to grips as to why one should be an environmentalist- reasons which include the whole of the Gospel of Life.

    ” “Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated with such realities as climate change, desertification, the deterioration and loss of productivity in vast agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity, the increase of natural catastrophes and the deforestation of equatorial and tropical regions? Can we disregard the growing phenomenon of ‘environmental refugees’, people who are forced by the degradation of their natural habitat to forsake it – and often their possessions as well – in order to face the dangers and uncertainties of forced displacement?” Pope Benedict XVI.

    Don’t call him pagan!

  • However, it’s important to understand that science does not and cannot make moral or policy prescriptions.

    Good points in your comments, though in the past eugenicists were able to pass the Racial Integrity Act.

    And I’m sure environmentalists will be pushing for radical legislation to tax and control American lives following the Copenhagen Climate Conference.

  • Tito

    Just because someone makes a statue does not mean they are pagans; are you going to say all the artists in the world, unless they are making icons and statues of the saints, are making idols?

  • “I think that fits Mr. Gore well.”

    Disagree. Mr Gore has his post-political career. He’s far from exuding the qualities of the extremists of the environmental movement.

    Now, Mr Gore may be far away from denizens of the anti-science or anti-AGW wings, and certainly extremists on their side. Distance doesn’t equate with extremism.

    I’ll back up much of DC’s comment. Eugenics is a horrific, anti0life pseudo-science. I don’t see any reasonable connection with the green movement. It might be that some greens advocate population control as part of an uninformed strategy. I don’t see eugenics gaining traction in either the mainstream green movement or in society at large.

    Steering human beings away from hydrocarbon fuel makes great sense politically, economically, and scientifically.

  • HK,

    Of course not.

    Art can be used as a beautiful expression of God.

    From Michelangelo to Bach, art has been an integral part of enhancing our spirituality and worship of God.

    But I’m sure you knew that already just as much as you know I was referring to much of the “science” that is used to control peoples lives in the climate change movement.

  • I don’t see eugenics gaining traction….”

    I don’t know – seems China’s one child policy got kudos at Copenhagen. That may not be eugenics per se, but it certainly seems like some traction in that direction.

  • I don’t think explicitly means what you think it does. Watch this:

    The Ten Commandments explicitly refer to Wensleydale Cheese – “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s [including his Wensleydale, Stilton, Cheddar, or other cheeses].

    mmmm, mmmm, delicious!

  • Why thank you for clarifying that Inigo Montoya.



  • Did you kill his father 15 years ago?

    Words have meaning, at least they used to. What does “environmentalism” mean? It seems to be an ideology and that makes it incompatible with Catholicity. That doesn’t mean aspects of it cannot be integrated into a Catholic worldview but environmentalism and Catholicity cannot go hand and in hand.

    Conservation, which may be part of environmentalism, is not only compatible with our faith, I am fairly confident that it is the first commandment from God, He told Adam to tend His Garden. Adam was not permitted to destroy or worship the garden, but he had to take care of it for God as His steward. Of course, Adam screwed up, so some of us, his children, worship the garden and others want to destroy the garden. Some of us, are sons of the Most High, if sons than heirs and we are not only heirs to His promise, but we are also heirs of His garden, our planet, and we want to tend His garden, conserve it, enjoy it, populate it with large Catholic families, use it to benefit others and glorify God. I don’t think that can be considered environmentalism.

    EnvironMENTALism is a mental disorder just like other ISMs including Communism, Socialism, Democratism, Mammomism, Liberation Theolgism, American Idolism, and yes, the cult of Al Goreism too. Heretics should be burned at the stake, or we can simply stake them and let the Anthropogenic Global Warming burn them eventually. 😉

  • One particular phrase grabbed my attention: “the science says…”

    One of the first principles of science is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.

    It’s often repeated: “but the science says…”

    It seems as though some of the scientists in the AGW debate (see the recent Climategate episode) have gotten caught up in being fooled themselves.

  • Big Tex,

    “the science says…” is the equivalent to what liberal extremists accuse Christians of saying “the Bible says…” when defending their position.

    It has become their religion, ie, science or what I call scientism, to use in place of God.


  • “It has become their religion, ie, science or what I call scientism, to use in place of God.”

    Another example of taking one’s own subjective situation and interpreting others’ actions,words, etc., as if they thought the same way you did.

    Scientists approach their vocation dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge, and if they’re lucky, wisdom. As in most all professions, some fail at both. Some even let science become their life, and these folks may be right, but they err in the social or political application of their “life.”

    I can appreciate that scientists and others trained in science would get frustrated at the intentional ignorance tossed their way in an attempt to form a logical dissent.

    What’s undeniable is that world temperatures have been on the rise due to natural cycles since the Renaissance. Trends toward warmer temperatures have ticked up at greater rates over the past century, more than would seem to be explained by the post-Little Ice Age trend. The attempt at rationalizing: “No, the weather isn’t getting warmer …” followed by “Okay, it’s getting warmer, but it’s not our fault …” followed by ” Okay, maybe we contributed some, but we can’t do anything about it …” has been all over conservative faces for the past decade or more.

    Even if climate change weren’t a worry, it would seem to make sense for the US to unilaterally cut its use of hydrocarbons for political reasons, if nothing else. Why would loyal Americans want to continue to use West Asian oil if we could develop alternatives at home? Why wouldn’t oil companies embrace the creativity and ingenuity of their homeland, if not their science staffs? If we’re talking about religion or quasi-religion here, let’s not let Big Oil and its followers off the hook.

  • When scientists cannot agree on the global warming trends, if there are any or even affected by man, then why do we have to listen to celebrities such as Al Gore who doesn’t even have a science degree?

    Especially with scientists heavily in opposition to the theory that man is the primary cause of global warming by 100:1, how can we take any of the science at face value at all?

    And I haven’t thrown in the fact of the huge climate controversy that came out of East Anglia university of doctored and made-up numbers. Europe has accepted that these figures are wrong, why hasn’t the liberal elite here in America?

    Because it is their religion.

  • Tito

    Which scientists and in which fields? Secondly, does the lack of agreement of scientists make for truth or that we can ignore the issue? After all, it’s a classical argument against Christianity: Christians can’t agree with themselves, so why be Christian?

  • Henry K.,

    Both you and I know the answer to your question.

    As Catholics we have the three pillars that hold up the Church: 1) Sacred Scripture, 2) Sacred Tradition, 3) the Magisterium.


  • “Just because someone makes a statue does not mean they are pagans”

    I wonder if that applies to soldiers who wear insignias, or regular American families that fly a flag on the fourth of July.

  • “When scientists cannot agree on the global warming trends …”

    This is just fantasy. Every climatologist knows the temperature trends are rising. All accept that the increase in temperature has accelerated over the past century or so. Has human industry the cause?

    100%? You’ll find some. 90%? 70%? Probably more like these numbers.

    This is like your attempted “expertise” on liberation theology. If you want to be taken seriously, bring a few climatologists to the discussion to raise the bar and challenge you. If you prefer to repeat political talking points and cocktail talk, then we mark another AC topic under the label “ignorance here,” and move on.

    And let’s be clear: there’s no problem with a person not educating her or himself on climate change. The problem is when such folks pretend to be serious commentators.

  • Todd,

    Now you’re just trashing me with no evidence.

    Keep up your malicious comments Mr. Pro-abortion ‘Catholic’ voter. (irony eh?)

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  • The Montreal Protocol was a good example of science working with government for the common good. CFC’s were destroying the ozone and most countries, including the US, took the advice of scientists and regulated it. I don’t think you will find many today who will dispute the fact that we would have been in big trouble if they had remained unregulated.

  • Tito,

    I think you are a serious commentator and I like your observations. My only concern is how big is your carbon footprint? Mine is huge but not as big as Al Gore’s.

    The assertion that Global Warming, Climate Change or whatever convenient moniker they are giving it this week is a religion is a very valid point that needs to be discussed more often.

    I tend to confuse most people because I don’t fit the stereotype of a ‘conservative’ so when a ‘liberal’ meets me for the first time they tend to let their guard down. After I play with their heads as if they were a drunken kitten I ease them into exposing the fallacy of their own argument (if you let a liberal talk long enough they will refute their own position and then deny it). Once the argument has been destroyed I acknowledge that they are actually a logical human being who is in severe self-denial. Then they lash out at me.

    When it comes to this particular topic their emotional reaction (it has to be emotional because if they tried to react reasonably they would have to acknowledge that they propose and invalid position) is to yell at me, “How can you not believe in Global Warming!*&^%?”

    If it isn’t a religion, why do they want me to believe in it? If it is a fact then belief is not needed. If belief is required then it is either a religion or a lie or a religion of lies.

  • Brian,

    The evidence is still out on CFC and the Ozone hole. It seems that was a cyclical thing and not caused by man.

    The more plausible analysis is that CFC were a convenient tool to bring about totalitarianism through environmental concerns. It didn’t work. So they moved on to something that is so prevalent and necessary for life to function, impossible to control and concerns everyone: CO2. By making warming as a result of carbon emissions the neo-paganism of environmentalism will place us all under the yoke of the spirit of this world.

    The conflict between environmental neo-paganism and the Catholic Church is inevitable. My money is on Christ’s Church.

  • What if some of us see idolatry in the stubborn refusal of some Americans to consider the possibility of global warming because it will require making changes, even modest sacrifices, to their consumerist lifestyle?

    You can see idolatry in any movement, which is why the charge doesn’t have any bearing on the truth or untruth of human induced climate change.

  • “The evidence is still out on CFC and the Ozone hole.”

    Odd since we’ve been able to verify most of it in laboratories. Not to mention that the ozone has been recovering now that CFCs have been regulated. But I guess you have your sources.

  • Every climatologist knows the temperature trends are rising.

    Aye, 0.6 C over more than a century. Bug me about somthing else.

  • I don’t dispute that the temperature of parts of the globe are increasing. I just haven’t seen any evidence that points the finger at man as the cause. I have also seen no evidence to indicate that any of the life-threatening measures proposed by enviro-fascist fanatics will do anything to reduce the temperature increases.

    I agree with you about certain aspects of ‘materialism’; however, other aspects of good stewardship of the material given have provided a rise in the standard of material well-being of God’s children. The wealthy man of 150 years ago had a lower standard of material well-being than a ‘poor’ American today.

    Someone please tell me why the same people running around screaming about global warming are the same ones always bitching and shivering because it is cold?

  • I think that given:

    a) the undemocratic nature of the massive, world-changing political program that the warming alarmists wish to impose upon the entire planet,

    b) the unfortunate existence of bona fide scientists who are skeptical of the contribution of human activity to global warming

    c) the pretty clear evidence that human civilization has survived historical periods considerably warmer than anything we may be facing in the near future,

    d) the climategate scandal that revealed dishonest attempts to alter and/or hide findings that ran against the ‘consensus’,

    and most importantly,

    e) the anti-life, population control, eugenicist ideology of many of the major players in the secular environmental movement,


    We have every right to be skeptical of this movement, to question and even resist its attempts to take control of the global economy through carbon taxes and other regulations, and to give the skeptical scientists and others a fair hearing.

    If our choice is between a possibility that human activity might cause a slight rise in temperature and sea levels on the one hand, and shutting down all debate, levying massive taxes, and handing over more sovereignty to an international body that is vehemently opposed to Catholic teachings on sexual morality – I’ll take my chances with the C02.

  • “I’ll take my chances with CO2”.

    Heretic. Blasphemer. Burn him. Wait. No. Hargrave is made of carbon – if we burn him we’ll be contributing to global warming. What do we do? Mother Gaia save us. 😉

  • Some Copenhagen attendees saw it for what it was, a tool for the UN to establish a Marxist one-world government. Since this is all clearly anti-human and anti-Catholic (you know those evil breeders) it must be of the spirit of this world.

    Additionally, it seems that someone, probably the guy that designed the planet in the first place, set it up so that CO2 is absorbed in a stable ratio. It seems that since 1850 nature (no not Mother Gaia, just plain old planet Earth) has absorbed the CO2 that has been created, even the increased amount since man industrialized.

    As we face the worst winter in 25 years and global temperatures plummet, store shelves go bare over fears of being snowed in and ski addicts are in a frenzy we should re-think this whole global warming thingy.

    Let’s all say it together, “CO2 is our friend, Ohmmmmmm!” Televise that on C-SPAN.

  • “Now you’re just trashing me with no evidence.”

    Trashing you? Hardly. I had the course in climatology thirty years ago. I read the scientific literature. There is no discussion among scientists on warming trends. They’re happening.

    You’re also incorrect on my being pro-abortion. Been pro-life all my life. Another example of drawing illogical conclusions.

    “As we face the worst winter in 25 years and global temperatures plummet …”

    Another example of the dictatorship of relativism. Clearly AK doesn’t live in the southern hemisphere these days.

  • A few decades ago the EPA would have hesitated in classifying CO2 as a hazardous gas. By the time they are fourteen most youngsters would have learnt that for plants, CO2 + water + sunlight = oxygen + plant substance, and that CO2 is a byproduct of the respiration of almost all living things. The EPA are confident that the rot in the education system is so widespread that they fear no ridicule from the populace, they being too dumb to care.

  • Ivan,

    I fear that you might be right.

  • Todd,

    157 dead in India due to . . . extremely cold weather.

    Didn’t it snow in Saudi Arabia last year?

    NWS stated that we set 1200 cold temp records across the US last week, including Miami/Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Imagine the shock of all the yenta snowbirds; they wake up and think they’re back in Noo Yawlk.

    And, no I don’t live in the Southern Hemisphere. . I hail from North America by choice and the South by the Grace of God.

  • Sadly, Ivan is probably right, education has been so dumbed down intentionally by the designers of the god-state that most people wouldn’t know how to formulate a question. We have become a nation of parrots. Squak, poly want a cracker, squak, global warming.

    Nevertheless, to keep the remnant of thinkers quiet they will soon shift back to global cooling and the parrots will run around fearing a new ice age and calling for global taxes and population reduction (I think they are aiming for 500,000,000 according to the Georgia Guidestones).

    Warming, cooling, heck, just go with Global Climate Change. Nov. 2008 was proof that undefined ‘change’ works best on the Idiocracy generation that was born when slick willy became president, oh the horror, the horror!

    BTW – Todd, where I come from, you know the ignorant South, do you know what we call climate change? Seasons, you know, Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn – crazy, huh?

  • Brian, some of us also see the AGW scam as an excuse to further widen the scope of government and its’ control over the proles (Al Gore, aka Elmer Gantry, and the Beautiful People can of course, buy themselves out of the restrictions they wish to place on ordinary people by purchasing carbon credits. That the sale of carbon credits happens to enrich Al Gore, is, I am sure, just a concidence.)

    The very idea that “the science is settled, so shut up” is in and of itself profoundly unscientific. So is “hiding the decline” and jiggering data to come up with the results you want.

    It’s all utter rubbish. And I believe the snake-oil salesmen who have been peddling it know that very well. They want more power over human beings, that’s all. Unfortunately, the well-meaning and creduous are taken in, but fewer and fewer with each passing day (she typed, as she listened to winter storm warning reports on the radio predicting 10-12 inches and a bad commute tommorrow morning.)

    Brian, you are so quick to suspect corporate wrong-doing (and there are certainly corporate wrong-doers). Why do you frequently seem to assume that those who wish to expand the power of the state are driven by warm and fuzzy altruism? History says otherwise.

  • Hargrave,

    Yes it is sad. CO2 may or may not be a greenhouse gas working its effects according the Arrhenuis theory. That does not bother me, what struck me was the alactrity and insousiance with which the EPA made its pronouncement. There surely was someone there thinking “Hang on a minute, I myself am breathing out carbon dioxide every few seconds. Let us put this to the public in a different way.” No, they were bold enough to expect no contradiction from the public. It encapsulates for me what the bureaucrats really think about the proles.

  • Donna,

    History certainly states otherwise. Usually, the misanthropes that perpetrate government and corporate wrong-doing are the same ilk. Not just cut from the same cloth – they are the same ilk.

    Look at the Goldman Sachs-NY Fed-Treasury Dept incest that has been going on since the meltdown, actually since 1910 – but that’s another story. What about Imelt from GE, who stands to make trillions when we are forced to use crappy ‘green’ technology.

    Corporatism is alive and well in America. Funny how they pit the right against the left because of the left’s love of government, and the left against the right for the right’s love of big business – the enemy is the same. AGW is the perfect tool for the Big Government/Big Business club to rule us little people. Fools.

  • Donna,

    I’m sorry that I or others gave the impression that the “science is settled”. That seems to be a very misleading way of putting things. It is my understanding that science is never “settled” as a legal dispute might be. The way we look at things is constantly expanding or being revised by new discoveries, new data, and the way that the peer review process exposes ideas up to the critique of others.
    While we can talk about a “theory of global warming”, to be accepted or rejected, the reality is that there myriads of separate theories that attempt to explain climate data from various fields. When we speak of a consensus, we are not saying that somehow the majority of scientists have said “yea” in some kind of informal vote, if that were even possible. Consensus means that there some basic correlation between many different and independent attempts to explain the data. Kind of like Newman’s cumulation of probabilities. Some explanations are stronger than others, but the bigger picture, the paradigm, remains strong.

    Speaking of Newman, think of religious belief. When I ask you the reason why you or another believe in Christian revelation, the answer, I suspect, cannot be reduced to one idea. There are many ideas or reasons for why we believe what we do. Some, perhaps, are stronger than others.

    Many so called climate skeptic scientists question certain theories involved with global warming, but do not necessarily doubt the consensus, which seems quite strong.

  • “A few decades ago the EPA would have hesitated in classifying CO2 as a hazardous gas. By the time they are fourteen most youngsters would have learnt that for plants, CO2 + water + sunlight = oxygen + plant substance, and that CO2 is a byproduct of the respiration of almost all living things.”

    I’m not impressed with this argument. Nitric oxide is a hazardous waste and yet is essential to life. So what. It’s context that’s important. CO2, like anything else I suppose, become hazardous in the wrong context.

  • “… do you know what we call climate change?”

    AK, you’ve made the basic error in high school earth science, confusing weather with climate. Back to ninth grade, my friend.

  • Todd,

    I’m just curious – have you ever changed anyone’s mind about anything?

  • I had the course in climatology thirty years ago. I read the scientific literature. There is no discussion among scientists on warming trends. They’re happening.

    You missed this one:

    Sagan, Carl, Owen B. Toon and James B. Pollack
    “Anthropogenic Albedo Changes and the Earth’s Climate” Science, New Series, Vol. 206, No. 4425 (Dec. 21, 1979), pp. 1363-1368

    The money quote is on page 1367, second column:

    “All changes except for urbanization produce an increase in the Earth’s albedo and a cooling of the planet.”

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  • “All changes except for urbanization produce an increase in the Earth’s albedo and a cooling of the planet.”

    If only we had listened to science back in the 70s!

    We could have prevented this global ice age we are in the midst of, and worldwide famine that caused billions of deaths!

    When will people learn to trust the “settled science”!?

    Seriously, there were mainstream scientists calling for the building of CO2 FACTORIES to head off a coming ice age! Imagine if we had done it! Why should we ever listen to these people?

  • Back in the 60s and 70s there were papers that predicted cooling and papers that predicted warming (far more of the latter). The science behind cooling was weaker and was discredited by other scientists even before those predictions could play out. That is not inconsistency, that is how science works.

  • The inconsistency is in the alarmism. If they had just made their predictions quietly, that would be one thing. But with these predictions always come hysterical calls for drastic action.

    That is why this science is suspect. Because, as you rightly say, science is constantly being revised and updated. Yet if the science today is predicting a dangerous trend, then in the minds of some people, it is dangerous to wait and see if further developments will disprove today’s theory – we must “act now”, we must scare the children with stories of cute cuddly animals dying because of disaster X.

    Our “science czar”, hardly some backwater nobody, and his colleagues were among those who predicted the cooling and called for massive increases in CO2 emissions. Now they call for the opposite. The problem is with their alarmism and their draconian politics.

  • Joe, thanks for the question. Happy to respond: yes; I once talked a friend out of having an abortion. Amazing, but true, and apologies to my stalker who prefers to bring up my voting record.

    Art, the Sagan-Pollack paper addressed albedo, not atmosphere. Albedo is the reflectivity of planetary surfaces and cloud cover. The money quote basically says that except for small slivers of pavement and some buildings, human beings have no effect on the Earth’s albedo. Farms pretty much equal forests. The key piece here is that Sagan was an astronomer, not a climatologist.

    Carbon dioxide is an odorless, colorless gas. It prevents heat reflected from the earth’s surface from radiating out into space.

    Also, it might be that the result of climate change would be an ice age. Climatologists agree that atmospheric temperature trends will not gradually cool or heat the planet. At some point there seems to be a feedback mechanism to restore a certain equilibrium. If Greenland ice were to melt, for example, not only would shorelines be inundated around the world, but the infusion of cool, low salinity water in the North Atlantic might be enough to send the Gulf Stream to African instead of Europe. Nice for Algeria, Libya, and Egypt who might get grasslands to replace desert. Not so good for Europeans who might be crunched under glaciers.

    Most scientists are not alarmists. The alarmists I see are those like the bloggers on this site.

    Once the people in the discussion can concede the temperature trend is warming, and that human industry is the most likely reason for the accelerated uptick, then people can sit down and start getting serious about solutions.

    People who insist there is no warming or that it’s not their fault and we can’t change it anyway: these people have no place at the discussion. The tide (not to mention rising ocean levels) is against them.

  • Art, the Sagan-Pollack paper addressed albedo, not atmosphere. Albedo is the reflectivity of planetary surfaces and cloud cover. The money quote basically says that except for small slivers of pavement and some buildings, human beings have no effect on the Earth’s albedo. Farms pretty much equal forests. The key piece here is that Sagan was an astronomer, not a climatologist.

    Thanks for your explanation. The thing is, I know what albedo is. I read that paper 14 years ago and inspected it again last night. Sagan et al. were concerned with a number of factors which effect the earth’s albedo, most saliently the expansion of deserts, which they did attribute to anthropogenic factors. Dr. Sagan was an astronomer. He was also relentlessly topical, and the advance of deserts and global cooling were the anxieties du jour. A few years later, it was nuclear winter.

  • Thanks, Art.

    One important thing is that we need to separate the science from public policy. Scientists can bring facts, and some “relentlessly topical” scientists may decide they can suggest or promote solutions. I would say that the public policy addressing climate change will need to be carefully discerned with significant input from outside the scientific community.

    And nuclear winter, yes. I’d say that was a more likely outcome than a new ice age or melting ice caps on a few days in the 20th century.

  • Todd,

    “Once the people in the discussion can concede the temperature trend is warming, and that human industry is the most likely reason for the accelerated uptick, then people can sit down and start getting serious about solutions.”

    I will do no such thing, until the well-presented arguments of skeptical scientists are clearly and plainly, in a manner a layman such as myself can understand, are debunked. I want to see a serious engagement, a serious debate. I do not want to have a “consensus” rammed down my throat.

    You can scoff at this all you like; I don’t trust the institutions that are bringing me the “consensus.” They are human beings, not data-producing androids, with motivations and agendas, with careers and egos to protect.

    The secular environmentalists behind this movement have a vicious anti-life agenda. They are pro-abortion, pro-sterilization, and are now tying it all in with reducing carbon emissions. I’ve seen articles quoting scientists claiming that having children is bad for the planet, and the Chinese government claiming that its one-child policy has resulted in lower carbon emissions than it would have had – significantly lower.

    I don’t care how clearly the scientists see things – when the stakes are as high as they are politically, you are absolutely, completely wrong to say:

    “People who insist there is no warming or that it’s not their fault and we can’t change it anyway: these people have no place at the discussion. The tide (not to mention rising ocean levels) is against them.”

    The tide is not against them. In light of the climategate scandal, revelations of outright deceptions in Al Gore’s film, and other blunders by the global warming crowd, the skeptics have actually gained ground.

    A sound theory has nothing to fear from debate. The argument that the “science is settled” means nothing to me. How could I possibly know that? There are these people who say it isn’t, and who make convincing arguments in their own right.

    So, I mean, you can try as hard as you like to make people here feel stupid for not slobbering all over the mainstream scientists shoes as we kiss and venerate them, but its going to take a little more than ridicule from you to make the grade.

    I’ll make this offer: show me a good website or paper or something that takes on the main arguments of the skeptics from the standpoint of the mainstream, and I will diligently and happily read it.

  • Todd,

    my stalker who prefers to bring up my voting record.

    Interesting that I am the author of this article that I am now a stalker of your voting record.

    I enjoy pointing out that you are only a “self-identified” Catholic that is a Pro-Abortionist that voted for the most Pro-Abortion president in the history of America.

    Your points are pretty much mute since you’ve compromised your faith for the Democratic Party platform.

  • Joe,

    If you look, you will find plenty of material out there that addresses the skeptics point by point, as there is plenty of material that attempts to cast doubt on the idea of global warming. The question is, and I think you yourself brought this up on another post – how do we come to trust our sources?

    For me, methodology as much as content (of which I have a necessarily limited grasp) makes me tend to trust the findings of the IPCC or National Academy of Sciences for example, over some group or person that sets out with the sole purpose of trying to debunk global warming (or promote it!).

    Right off the bat, I would distinguish between scientists who have discovered flaws in the current understanding of some aspect of global warming and those who actively seek to present the strongest case against global warming. There is a big difference here, but unfortunately the two groups are confused. Scientists bring their findings under the critical review of others and try to make sense of their findings with the accumulated knowledge of their field and even beyond. Unfortunately, those with an agenda to promote or disprove the idea of global warming take specific findings out of their original context – that dialogue with the broader scientific community with its respective disciplines. That is not science.

    The IPCC on the other hand is very conservative (not necessarily always correct, btw) with its use of data. If a specific claim is in an IPCC report, you can almost guarantee that it is not simply one stand alone observation supporting it. This , in my view, puts the burden of proof on the skeptics to refute the massive case for global warming across many fields point by point. To this date, I have not seen this. Rather, you tend to get a list of what I mentioned above – random pieces of data taken out of their original context.

    That is why I will not recommend a site that takes on the augments of skeptics one by one..but rather point to one that looks at the bigger picture of what’s going on out there:

  • Brian,
    The linked site doesn’t seem overly helpful. Doesn’t seem to present overwhelming evidence against what skeptics raise. Only slightly more scientific than this site:

  • Tito, you may be a blogger, but you’re still a stalker. Your last post also reveals you to be an untruthful stalker. Feh. It’s your site. You can behave however you want to I suppose.

    Joe, as long as the discussion about climate change stays informal, you’re absolutely okay taking the position you take. I have no problem with it. If, however, you expect to be part of a serious debate, your own insistence on conspiracy theories will sideline you, not to mention your unwillingness to engage the topic broadly and seriously.

    The bloggers on this site have already conceded their willingness to tackle a disputed topic (example: liberation theology) but without the requisite knowledge and background. That’s okay too. Like LT, we know that we can expect a lack of curiosity and expertise when it comes to climate issues on this site.

    If you want to e-mail me with a specific request of literature I could suggest, I’m happy to find something suitable. Last word, gents: you’ve earned it.

  • “Last word, gents: you’ve earned it.”

    Promises, promises Todd. You would be much more effective as a commenter on this site if you would contribute something more than your trademark sneer and condescension which are always a poor substitute for reasoned argument.

  • “The linked site doesn’t seem overly helpful. Doesn’t seem to present overwhelming evidence against what skeptics raise.”

    Fair enough. I have found the site helpful to keep up to speed on what’s going on in climate science right now, but it certainly won’t answer everyone’s questions. I can’t resist one more recommendation – that presents the evolution of climate science bruises and all – without getting partisan: The Discovery of Global Warming (2003) by Spencer Weart.

  • Todd,

    You are so unbelievably smug.

    I expect to be a part of serious debate – for serious debate to exist – because the political stakes are unimaginably high.

    “Like LT, we know that we can expect a lack of curiosity and expertise when it comes to climate issues on this site.”

    I see. So in Todd’s world of Newspeak, a request for literature reflects a lack of curiosity. I asked MI for literature on LT, and I asked you for literature on “climate change” – but we’re not curious. Ok.

    Why do I have to email you? Just drop a title or a link. Is that hard?

    And I do not “insist” upon conspiracy theories – I accept their reasonability, their plausibility, because of the human propensity for evil and the historical record of proven conspiracies. In the case of global warming, we have already seen scientists con-spi-ir-ing to conceal data they didn’t like, block skeptics from the debate, and even express a hope that their critics didn’t know that there was a Freedom of Information Act.

    How can you look at all that and wave it away? At what point is it more crazy not to believe that something fishy is going on than to believe that there is?

  • Exactly Brian.

  • Very well …

    “Why do I have to email you? Just drop a title or a link. Is that hard?”

    That something might be hard is irrelevant. I don’t mind putting extra effort out there for a friend or colleague–if that person is serious. Why would I bother making suggestions on one topic when you’ve pretty much dismissed input on another?

    I’d recommend the Weart book. He has a web site, and apparently a revised 2nd edition of the 2003 book I read. It’s a good place to start.

    “You are so unbelievably smug.”

    Well, I do know what I’m talking about. I had a science background before I studied theology. I still keep up with serious science reading, including climatology. I think I know what I’m talking about when it comes to science, and I think I’m on safe ground in dismissing the so-called climategate.

    You think I’m smug? You’ll find very few serious scientists wasting their time even talking to doubters like yourselves. They would call me foolish for even wasting my time in the attempt.

    And to be serious, I can’t tell with some of you AC bloggers if you’re serious or not. You post on LT and you participate in very long threads. Same with climate. You say you’re willing to review information, but you treat a scientific discussion as if it were some kind of political event. Either global temperatures are warming faster than they should be or they’re not. Human beings contribute to all, some, or none of that. Once the determination is made that planetary climate change is a problem, the focus shifts to solutions. It seems pretty clear that the politicians are struggling with public policy solutions at this point, and scientists are back to monitoring conditions.

    Look, I’m not going to fill up your comboxes with the science of climatology. You want me to write up a “reasoned argument?” I’ll be happy to write a guest post for you.

    If you want to continue discussing with me; send an e-mail. It’s time to move on from this thread.

  • “You think I’m smug? You’ll find very few serious scientists wasting their time even talking to doubters like yourselves. They would call me foolish for even wasting my time in the attempt.”

    So we should all be grateful that you’ve decided to lower yourselves down into the pit and commune with us lesser beings?

    Yes, I think you’re smug. I think that I couldn’t imagine a better way to completely turn people off from a cause than to have you as its spokesman. And I think you are incredibly naive if you think science is immune to politics.

    You really, honestly think you are above having to explain yourself, that it is a “waste of time”, that we should all see that, because of your “science background” we should all just shut the hell up and accept what you have to say, and be grateful for the condescending insults that accompany it.

    Please, I beg you, do not waste another second on us. You haven’t moved anyone’s mind an inch, if anything, you’ve moved people in the opposite direction. You really are wasting your time.

  • As for this:

    “I don’t mind putting extra effort out there for a friend or colleague–if that person is serious. Why would I bother making suggestions on one topic when you’ve pretty much dismissed input on another?”

    When did I do that? I’ve never dismissed input on anything.

    And really, its “extra effort” to find me one thing to read? Two minutes of your precious time? Are you serious? Please, don’t bother. We’re done.

  • You think I’m smug? You’ll find very few serious scientists wasting their time even talking to doubters like yourselves. They would call me foolish for even wasting my time in the attempt.

    Among the doubters is Richard Lindzen of MIT. He is one of only about two dozen scholars in meteorology and climatology who is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

  • Realclimate? This Mann-Briffa-Jones outfit? You are surely kidding me.

  • Hahaha…Captain Todd strikes again…the guy who has a science background extending from embryology to climatology…

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Advent and Anti-Christ, Part II

Sunday, December 6, AD 2009



Part II of my presentation of the four sermons on the Anti-Christ given by John Henry Cardinal Newman during Advent in 1835 before his conversion.  Part I is here.

In this second sermon Newman concentrates on what we can glean of  the Anti-Christ  from Scripture and from the writings of the Fathers of the Church.  One thing stands out in this sermon for me.  The idea that the reign of the Anti-Christ may involve both ferocious atheism and a return to paganism.  This seems like a contradiction, but Newman points to the French Revolution:

In that great and famous nation which is near us, once great for its love of CHRIST’S Church, since memorable for deeds of blasphemy, which lead me here to mention it, and now, when it should be pitied and prayed for, made unhappily our own model in too many respects,-followed when it should be condemned, and admired when it should be excused,-in the capital of that powerful and celebrated nation, there took place, as we all well know, within the last fifty years, an open apostasy from Christianity; not from Christianity only, but from every kind of worship which might retain any semblance or pretence of the great truths of religion. Atheism was absolutely professed; -yet in spite of this, it seems a contradiction in terms to say it, a certain sort of worship, and that, as the prophet expresses it, “a strange worship,” was introduced. Observe what this was.

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5 Responses to Advent and Anti-Christ, Part II

Moving Halloween to Saturday: Treat or Trick?

Thursday, October 29, AD 2009

In recent years Halloween has gone from a primarily child-oriented holiday to an occasion of commercial importance comparable to Christmas or Easter. National retail sales figures indicate that Halloween is the 6th biggest holiday for retailers — behind Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day — and rapidly gaining ground, particularly among young adults.

The trend has now sparked a movement of sorts — led by the Spirit Halloween retail chain — to move Halloween permanently to the last Saturday in October. Their online petition at this link ( ) asks Congress to lend its official endorsement to the change, although that would not be strictly necessary since Halloween is not a federal or national holiday.

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15 Responses to Moving Halloween to Saturday: Treat or Trick?

  • Darn, I wish Spirit Halloween had a combox. Darn, darn, darn!

  • I vote (B) a concession to worldliness and indifference.
    Vigils, feast days, birthdays… the actual dates count for something. I enjoy a movable feast as much as the next guy, but it should have a better excuse behind it than grubbing for cash or extending the weekend.

  • Remember that they then consolidated both Abraham Lincoln’s and George Washington’s birthdays to “President’s Day”.

  • Halloween and All Saints have a particular significance for me since my wedding anniversay falls on All Saints. If they change it, I will have to come up with some other way to remember, so I vote no. Or maybe I can convince my wife to celebrate the solemnity of our marriage along with All Saints, rather than the actual day of our wedding?

  • I think you make a compelling argument overall. Actually changed my mind, as a matter of fact.

    As to changing the date – I actually find it to be more confusing. When I’m looking at my calendar, it’s so much easier to assess the fixed-date holidays as compared to the floating ones. “Which weekend is that on this year?”

  • For the record, I also would vote “no”.

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  • Also, I really need to give credit here to Todd Aglialoro, now a writer for Inside Catholic, who many years ago when he worked for the Peoria Diocese Family Life Office, wrote a column for The Catholic Post titled “How Halloween Is a Very Catholic Thing.”

    It was in that article that I first came across the quote from Chesterton on paganism and Christianity. Unfortunately, I cannot find this article online anywhere, and I no longer have print back issues of The Post to refer to.

    If you happen to be reading this, Todd, thanks for the inspiration, and can you tell me where to find that article?

  • Instead of moving Halloween to Saturday, it needs to be moved right off the calendar. There is nothing good about it- junk food for kids, wild parties for adults, strangers ringing your doorbell all evening, drunks in the ER all night. Once again, America has taken a religious day and turned it into a mockery.

  • I understand your concerns, Annie, but by your standards, St. Patrick’s Day should probably be “moved right off the calendar” too.

    It lacks only junk food for kids and strangers ringing your doorbell… although strangers in an adjacent apartment who start their St. Paddy’s Day party at 2 in the afternoon are just as annoying 🙂 Likewise, it too is a religious holiday that has been pretty much turned into a caricature of itself, at least in the U.S.

    Also, I read somewhere many years ago that the government of Ireland, back in the late 50s or early 60s, briefly considered moving St. Patrick’s Day to September so there would be better weather for outdoor celebrations! Needless to say, that didn’t fly.

  • And speaking of moving holidays to weekends — if I remember correctly, students at U. of Ill. in Champaign observe something called “Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day” on the Friday or Saturday closest to the actual St. Paddy’s Day. The observance consists entirely of hanging out in bars and getting as drunk as possible.

    I suppose that no matter what happens to the Spirit Halloween petition drive, the preceding Saturday will become, if it hasn’t already, “Unofficial Halloween” for adult partying purposes anyway.

  • Goodness, perhaps someday the secularists will wish to ensure “Christmas,” which they will call “The Winter Holiday,” always falls on Friday so everyone gets a 3 day weekend.

    Awfully pesky the way things are now, when Dec. 25 can fall on a Wednesday. Once you remove the religious significance of these holidays, there’s no point to keeping to a set date.

  • Some of you should read up on history a bit.

    The reality is that the Church chose Dec 25th for Christmas in an attempt to add religious meaning to an already existent pagan holiday. There is circumstantial evidence that Jesus was actually born in April.

    Back to the holiday at hand…Halloween is and always has been a pagan holiday. The religious holiday that the Church attached to it (once again, in order to add a religious meaning to it) is All Saints Day. This petition doesn’t mention moving All Saints Day. In fact, you might end up with more people in the pews on Nov. 1st if they haven’t been out trick or treating and then stuffing themselves full of candy all night the night before.

  • Martha,

    I wasn’t aware that the Hebrews were pagans. Wasn’t Dec. 25th the date the temple was re-dedicated? It seems like a religiously significant date for the temple in Jerusalem and since Jesus refers to Himself as the temple – it makes sense, don’t you think?

    As for Halloween – move it, don’t move it – it doesn’t matter – for most of us, including the secularists, it is just a fun night to dress up act silly, beg for candy and share some frivolous entertainment with each other. There is a danger that the occult becomes cool, but I think for most people this is innocent fun. As for all the drunks, rowdy morons, witches and satanists – they are going to do what they do, with or without secular Halloween and they’ll do it on Oct 31 and/or the last Sat in Oct – do they really care?

    People are not skipping Mass on All Saints because of Halloween – how else do you account for all the other days they skip Mass?

    Holidays have the significance we give them. Christmas can be just a day to drink egg nog and get gifts. Easter can just be about chocolate eggs. We are not forced to worship God; we are just as free to worship ourselves – at least for a little while – then Bam! Halloween won’t mean a thing although some of the imagery might be familiar in hell.

  • Thanks for sharing with information. now i know more about holloween..please keep posting. I will visit again.