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Resquiescat in Pace: Charlie Gard

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

CS Lewis

 

 

Charlie Gard has died.  He was dealt a very rough deck of cards, but he also had two parents who loved him and fought an uphill battle for him and in that he was indeed fortunate.  His brief life heightened the new barbarism to which we are descending in which the all powerful State wields the power of death against the completely innocent.  The final indignity was that his parents were not permitted to have him die at home:

 

His parents and Great Ormond Street Hospital have been in a months-long legal battle over his treatment. Their final request to a judge this week was to be allowed to take Charlie home to die.

On Thursday, a judge ruled that Charlie will be moved to hospice and his life support will be removed at a time not publicly disclosed. He will not be allowed to go home, as his parents wished. Continue Reading

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Resquiescat in Pace: Adam West

 

William West Anderson, better known by his stage name of Adam West, has passed away at age 88.  As a kid I did not like the Batman show in which he starred in the sixties.  Too campy and too silly for even my childish tastes.  The show was a long term disaster for Adam West, typecasting him with a vengeance and largely destroying his acting career.  After a self destructive period involving lots of alcohol, he bore his ill fortune with grace and good will, directing a large amount of self deprecating humor at himself.  Eventually he established a respectable niche for himself in the entertainment industry.  Atque vale Mr. Wayne.

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Resquiescat in Pace: Michael Novak

 

 

A giant of our Faith has passed:

Michael Novak, a Catholic philosopher who helped carve a space for religion in modern politics, diplomacy and economics, arguing that capitalism is the economic system most likely to achieve the spiritual goods of defeating poverty and encouraging human creativity, died Feb. 17 at his home in Washington. He was 83.

The cause was complications from colon cancer, said his daughter Jana Novak.

Mr. Novak, who spent his formative years in the seminary, was widely recognized as one of the most influential Catholic theologians of his generation. He was the 1994 recipient of the Templeton Prize, which honors makers of an “exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension” and is accompanied by a monetary award exceeding that of the Nobel Prize.

In a measure of Mr. Novak’s influence within the Catholic Church, he was received and consulted by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. He was at times a professor, a columnist, chief U.S. delegate to the U.N. Human Rights Commission and, for several decades, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, the conservative think tank in Washington.

Mr. Novak was among several scholars who “brought serious religious thought to Washington in a way that it had not been present before,” George Weigel, a distinguished senior fellow at the Washington-based Ethics and Public Policy Center, said in an interview.

 

He credited Mr. Novak with demonstrating to an “audience of insiders” a “way of thinking that was not merely statistical or ideological but was perhaps more deeply reflective of enduring human questions and problems.”

Mr. Novak wrote a shelf full of books on topics ranging from nuclear weapons to atheism to social justice to sports. But he was best known for his economic writings, particularly the book “The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism” (1982).

“Democratic capitalism,” he wrote, is “neither the Kingdom of God nor without sin. Yet all other known systems of political economy are worse. Such hope as we have for alleviating poverty and for removing oppressive tyranny — perhaps our last, best hope — lies in this much despised system.”

 

 

 

 

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Resquiescat in Pace: John Hurt

 

One of the foremost British actors of his generation, John Hurt has passed away at age 77.  He played everything from Caligula to Winston Smith to the Elephant Man, but he will always perhaps be best known for his first major role, that of his portrayal of the villainous Richard Rich who betrayed Saint Thomas More for an office in Wales.  Hurt had the knack of all great character actors of disappearing into his roles.  He was always the character, and not John Hurt playing a character.  Unlike most British actors and actresses, he did not talk much about his politics, but he did view political correctness with disdain, calling it a threat to freedom.

 

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Resquiescat in Pace: Mary Tyler Moore

Mary Tyler Moore dead at 80?  Impossible! One of the favorite actresses of my youth, she was a master of comedy, perhaps not greatly appreciated for it because she made it look so easy.  To me she will always be associated with the years of my childhood in the sixties and seventies.  A reluctant icon of feminism, she was clear that she did not agree with radical feminists and that the most important role for any woman was that of mother.  A moderate liberal in her youth, she became politically conservative as she grew older.  Unlike many in her industry she did not seek to inflict her political opinions on her fans.  One of the treasured memories of her life was when she and her mother had a private audience with Pope John Paul II.  Like many comediennes and comedians, she had much sorrow in her life.  May she know the Joy Eternal in the world to come.

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Nat Hentoff: Resquiescat in Pace

 

 

Nat Hentoff has died at the age of 91.  Hentoff was a life-long liberal who actually believed in things that liberals purport to believe in:  freedom of speech, civil liberties and tolerance.  He was a committed pro-lifer which in his social circles was akin to supporting cannibalism.  Hentoff didn’t care.  Throughout his life he did what he thought right, consequences to him be hanged.

Here is a column he wrote on my birthday in 1989:

 

Planned Parenthood recently assembled 13 distinguished civil rights leaders so that they might express their scorn for the notion that there is any moral connection between the Operation Rescue demonstrations “and the civil rights struggles of the 1960s.”

The leaders — including Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young, Julian Bond, John Jacob, Mary King and Roger Wilkins — deplored the pro-lifers’ “protests to deny Americans their constitutional right to freedom of choice. They want the Constitution rewritten.” And in the unkindest cut of all, these leaders — once themselves demonstrators against laws they considered profoundly unjust — compared the nonviolent Operation Rescue workers to “the segregationists who fought desperately to block black Americans from access to their rights.”

Actually, however, a more accurate analogy would link these pro-lifers to the civil rights workers of the 19th century, the Abolitionists, who would not be deterred from their goal of ensuring equal rights for all human beings in this land. They believed, as these 13 civil rights leaders later did, that social change comes only after social upheaval.

What the Abolitionists were opposing was the rule of law — ultimately underlined by the Supreme Court in its Dred Scott decision — that people of African descent, whether free or slaves, had “never been regarded as a part of the people or citizens of the State.” They had no rights whatever. They were the property of their owners, no more. The Abolitionists did indeed want the Constitution rewritten.

Now, the pro-lifers, aware that the Supreme Court has declared itself in error before, are protesting the holding in Roe v. Wade that “the unborn have never been recognized in the law as persons in the whole sense.” Although that decision also spoke of a time when the fetus becomes viable and then may be protected by the state, in fact we have abortion on demand.

As Justice Harry Blackmun said in Doe v. Bolton — decided on the same day as Roe v. Wade — the mother’s health is paramount, and that includes, among other things, “physical, emotional, psychological, familial” factors. Abortions can be obtained for these reasons, and more.

So, like the slave, the fetus is property and its owner can dispose of it. Increasingly, for instance, women are undergoing prenatal testing to find out the gender of the developing human being inside them. If it’s the wrong sex, it is aborted.

Pro-lifers who maintain the fetus should have equal protection under the law are not limited to those driven by religious convictions. There is the biological fact that after conception, a being has been formed with unique human characteristics. He or she, if allowed to survive, will be unlike anyone born before. From their point of view, therefore, pro-lifers are engaged in a massive civil rights movement. In 16 years, after all, there have been some 20 million abortions.

Some pro-lifers, like some of the abolitionists, feel that nonviolence, however direct, is insufficient. They are of the order of John Brown. As noted by James McPherson in “Battle Cry of Freedom,” Brown stalked out of a meeting of the New England Antislavery Society, grumbling, “Talk! Talk! Talk! That will never free the slaves. What is needed is action — action!”

Those relatively few — and invariably isolated — pro-lifers who follow John Brown’s flag are surely not in the tradition of Martin Luther King, and the 13 civil rights leaders have reason to keep them at a far distance. But Operation Rescue, and similar demonstrations, are not violent. Entrances are blocked, and so they were in some nonviolent civil rights demonstrations. There is shouting, some of it not very civil, back and forth across the lines, but so there was in the 1960s.

The only actual violence connected with Operation Rescue has been inflicted by the police, most viciously, in Atlanta where one of the Planned Parenthood’s 13 civil rights leaders is mayor. A member of the Atlanta City Council, Josea Williams — himself a close associate of Martin Luther King — has said: “We who were the leaders of the movement in the ’50s and ’60s are now political leaders. And we are doing the same thing to demonstrators that George Wallace and Bull Connor did to us.”

Hentoff was an atheist.  However, I hope that when he came before God for his Particular Judgment hundreds of millions of little character witnesses successfully pleaded his cause.

 

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Resquiescat in Pace: Brian Bergkamp

 

 

seminarian_kansas

A successful vocation:

 

Police in Kansas have announced that a body found last week in the Arkansas River near one of the city’s park is the body of Brian Bergkamp, a seminarian from the Diocese of Wichita.

The Wichita Eagle Daily newspaper reported that a fisherman had spotted a piece of life vest floating in the water with a rosary attached to it. That discovery led to finding the body of the missing seminarian. The coroner confirmed it was Bergkamp and his family was given the news first.

Bergkamp, who was studying for the Kansas diocese at a Maryland seminary, had been missing since he saved the life of a woman who fell into the Arkansas River on 9 July. Three days later, he remained missing and was presumed to be dead.

Bergkamp, 24, was among five people travelling in separate kayaks when all got caught in turbulent waters. According to The Wichita Eagle, Bergkamp jumped from his kayak to save the woman before getting pulled under himself. He was not wearing a life jacket. The other kayakers made it to shore.

His family said his funeral and burial would be private. “Our prayers continue to be lifted up for the consolation of Brian’s family as they take the next step to honour the memory of their son and brother,” the Wichita Diocese said in a statement this week.

The diocese expressed “gratitude to God for his abundant graces offered to strengthen all impacted by Brian’s death, to the members of the recovery team and personnel of the Wichita Fire and Police departments, and to those others who have helped in any way throughout this tragedy”.

“Brian’s diocesan family is also thankful that his mortal remains will be able to be laid to rest and have a place at which continued prayers may be offered for his eternal well-being,” the statement said. Continue Reading

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Ray Bradbury: Requiescat in Pace

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9iyKI2pJbE
You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.
Ray Bradbury

When I was a boy I devoured science fiction, and I still read quite a bit half a century later.  Ray Bradbury, who died at 91 on June 5th, was not one of my favorite writers when I was young.  A bit too complex and little if any of the space opera that I enjoyed so much.  However, even then I knew that what I was reading in “Dandelion Wine” or “The Martian Chronicles” was writing of a very high order indeed.  In my teen years I came across “Something Wicked This Way Comes“, and this passage has always stayed with me:

Sometimes the man who looks happiest in town, with the biggest smile, is the one carrying the biggest load of sin. There are smiles & smiles; learn to tell the dark variety from the light. The seal-barker, the laugh-shouter, half the time he’s covering up. He’s had his fun & he’s guilty. And all men do love sin, Will, oh how they love it, never doubt, in all shapes, sizes, colors & smells. Times come when troughs, not tables, suit appetites. Hear a man too loudly praising others & look to wonder if he didn’t just get up from the sty. On the other hand, that unhappy, pale, put-upon man walking by, who looks all guilt & sin, why, often that’s your good man with a capital G, Will. For being good is a fearful occupation; men strain at it & sometimes break in two. I’ve known a few. You work twice as hard to be a farmer as to be his hog. I suppose it’s thinking about trying to be good makes the crack run up the wall one night. A man with high standards, too, the least hair falls on him sometimes wilts his spine. He can’t let himself alone, won’t let himself off the hook if he falls just a breath from grace.

Bradbury was a native of Waukegan, Illinois, his family eventually moving to Los Angeles.  A child of the Depression, Bradbury lacked the funds to go to college and instead educated himself in libraries as he pursued a career as a writer.  For ten years he visited libraries three days a week.  He wrote every day, a trait he recommended to all writers.  (It certainly is a handy habit for a blogger!)  He endured endless rejections and kept pecking away on rented typewriters until he became not only a financially successful writer, but, much more importantly, a good one.

Although Bradbury is known as a science fiction writer, Bradbury rejected the label, holding that almost all his fiction was better described as fantasy, and I tend to agree with him.  In any case, he is the last survivor of the Golden Age of Science Fiction to pass beyond our mortal sphere, and that thought leaves me sad.

In a field dominated by liberals, Bradbury was a fairly outspoken conservative.  He gave the execrable Michael Moore hell when he named one of his idiot bait films Fahrenheit 9/11.  Go here to read some of his unvarnished opinions on some of our recent presidents.

His masterpiece is widely regarded as Fahrenheit 451, a cautionary tale of a future totalitarian regime with a friendly face that bans books.  For a book lover like Bradbury there could be no greater crime:

The books are to remind us what asses and fools we are. They’re Caesar’s praetorian guard, whispering as the parade roars down the avenue, ‘Remember, Caesar, thou art mortal.’

The book, which came out in 1953, has several prophetic passages: Continue Reading