Established Churches

Tuesday, April 7, AD 2015



Instapundit gives an example of the type of established churches we have on many campuses in this land:


Members of the Virginia Tech football team have been accused of acting disrespectfully at a campus sexual assault awareness event.

Players were required to attend a Take Back the Night event on March 26. The event was organized by a campus female activism group and featured sexual assault survivors speaking about their experiences as victims. Multiple attendees accused the players of infringing upon the “safe space” the event is intended to foster, according to The Roanoke Times.

Take Back the Night is a national organization that seeks “to end sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual abuse and all other forms of sexual violence.”

Several attendees wrote letters to the student newspaper, the Collegiate Times, complaining about the players’ behavior. The players arrived late, said they did not know why they were attending the event and spent much of the time looking at their phones, the letters said.

“[T]heir judgmental remarks made it very hard to feel safe,” one wrote. “When survivors took the stage, there was nothing respectful in the way the football team took it, especially in reference to transgender survivors. I am deeply offended and horrified by the disrespectful nature that the players displayed.”

Honey, you’re a caricature. Your pointless, politicized event got all the respect it deserved, and then some. Generally speaking, captive audiences aren’t especially appreciative. More here: “Womanspace at Virginia Tech, a campus organization for feminist activism, has coordinated the event at Tech for 26 years, with this year’s version featuring speakers from the transgender community as well as survivors of sexual assault.”

UPDATE: From the comments: “I was born and raised in Cuba. I have certain memories of staged rallies.”

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12 Responses to Established Churches

  • I am convinced that this is but yet another weapon of the “crush masculinity/ fatherhood etc” machine–all done by diabolically using a good (rape is bad) as deceitful camouflage for their intent to destroy normal societal functioning.
    Our moral atrophy has been but a case of decades of Christianity hiding in the social justice closet while all the perverted passions are coming out with their demons as cheerleaders.

  • They complain about rape yet want to be libertine sexual hedonists. Really! Liberal. Progressive. Democrat.

  • “Our moral atrophy has been but a case of decades of Christianity hiding in the social justice closet…”

    Actually, now the social justice crowd has a new cause in “transgender survivors”

  • Our culture is the way it is today in large measure because Christian Churches especially the Catholic Church lost it’s courage to stand-up for Christian morality and decided that ‘opening it’s windows to the world’ was the way to become relevant and influential. Now, in the most ironic turn of events, some in Vatican leadership wish accept and support our cultural corruption. It will take an Act of God to help turn this around.–many many.

  • Don Lond: “I am convinced that this is but yet another weapon of the “crush masculinity/ fatherhood etc” machine–all done by diabolically using a good (rape is bad) as deceitful camouflage for their intent to destroy normal societal functioning.”
    This is another weapon as the deceitful camouflage for their intent to destroy the image of God in man, the sovereignty of God over man and the sovereign person. Rape is especially heinous because it violates the sovereignty of the victim to give informed consent, a free will act, to the (act) crime. Any and every crime is a violation of God’s law and the image of God in the human being, the proof of a man’s soul, the metaphysical part of man, the human being. It was the burden of proof on Sarah Weddington of Roe v. Wade that was not forthcoming. It was Roe’s burden to prove that there was no human soul with sovereign personhood in the newly begotten human person in the womb. A miscarriage of Justice is a crime.

  • The New Millenials understand that they are sovereign persons made in the image of God, probably visited by the souls of 60 million innocents murdered in the womb. Anyone under the age of 41 is a survivor of genocide in America.

  • Every rapist today who has not be struck dead by God is a walking miracle.

  • “Requiring people to go to an event encroaches on that safe space,” Sahai [Womanspace co-President Malavika Sahai] said. “If you don’t want to be there, you really shouldn’t be there.”

    Compulsory attendance would appear to have been imposed by “Athletic Director Whit Babcock and coach Frank Beamer,” as part of their own programme.

  • The Inquisition of the Middle Ages is a more apt metaphor than “church” or “religion.”

  • My favorite line: “honey, you’re a caricature”
    also Love that photo graphic
    petulant (adj.)
    1590s, “immodest, wanton, saucy,” from Middle French petulant (mid-14c.), from Latin petulant …”wanton, froward, saucy, insolent,” present participle of petere “to attack, assail; strive after; ask for, beg, beseech”… Meaning “peevish, irritable”
    first recorded 1775, probably by influence of pet (n.2).
    Related: Petulantly.

  • No. The inquisition had set rules and procedures about things like “evidence.” The inquisition also kept better records.

  • Ernst: Point well-taken. The only things these people accomplish are massive, unnecessary hells here and in the hereafter.

To Hate Liberally

Friday, December 19, AD 2014




Spengler (David P. Goldman) takes a look at the blind fury that seems to be the distinguishing characteristic of the Forces of Tolerance these days:


They really, really hate us. George Orwell wrote a morning “Two Minutes Hate” session into the daily life of his dystopia in 1984. One blogger notes that 2,000 of Rachel Maddow’s facebook fans wished that Ted Cruz would fall into an open elevator shaft. What would he have made of the hyperventilating hatred that liberals display against conservatives? Over at National Review, Katherine Timpf reports on a hate manifesto published by the chair of University of Michigan’s Department of Communications. Republicans “crafted a political identity that rests on a complete repudiation of the idea that the opposing party and its followers have any legitimacy at all.” wrote Prof. Susan Douglas. “So now we hate them back,” she explains. “And with good reason.”

In fact, they have their reasons to hate us. They are being silly. We know they are being silly, and they know we know, and they can’t stand it. It isn’t quite how we repudiate the idea that the opposing party has any legitimacy at all. But we can’t stop giggling.

“Reductio ad absurdum” does not begin to characterize the utter silliness of liberals, whose governing dogma holds that everyone has a right to invent their own identity. God is dead and everything is permitted, Zarathustra warned; he should have added that everything is silly. When we abhor tradition, we become ridiculous, because we lack the qualifications to replace what generation upon generation of our ancestors built on a belief in revelation and centuries of trial and error. Conservatives know better. G.K. Chesterton said it well: “Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.”

The antics of the “small and arrogant oligarchy” that controls the temples of liberal orthodoxy have turned into comic material that Monty Python couldn’t have dreamed up a generation ago. There are now dozens of prospective genders, at least according to the gender studies departments at elite universities. What do the feminists of Wellesley College do, for example, when its women become men? The problem is that no-one quite knows what they have become, as a recent New York Times Magazine feature complained:

Some two dozen other matriculating students at Wellesley don’t identify as women. Of those, a half-dozen or so were trans men, people born female who identified as men, some of whom had begun taking testosterone to change their bodies. The rest said they were transgender or genderqueer, rejecting the idea of gender entirely or identifying somewhere between female and male; many, like Timothy, called themselves transmasculine.

Use the wrong terminology and you’re burned for a bigot. There used to be jokes such as: “How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, and it’s not funny.” You can’t tell that sort of joke about  Wellesley because the LGBTs never will agree on the lightbulb’s gender. There are rare cases of babies born with ambiguous genitalia, to be sure. There also are a few individuals obsessed from early childhood with the idea that they were born in the wrong body. They have difficult lives and deserve sympathy (but not public mandates for sex-change operations). Gender ambiguity in its morphological infinitude as a field of personal self-development, though, has become the laboratory for cutting-edge liberal thinking, the ultimate expression of self-invention. LGTB Studies (or “Queer Studies”) departments have or soon will be established at most of America’s top universities, classifying, advocating and defending an ever-expanding number of newly-categorized gender identities.

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8 Responses to To Hate Liberally

  • But why do the taxpayers have to bear the expense of this very personal, very unnecessary, rather queer choice?

  • Mary, I think they hate you for that pun. 😉

  • Nate Winchester: “Mary, I think they hate you for that pun. ;)”
    What pun? The question remains. Why should the taxpayer pay for a sex change? I cannot go on vacation because somebody needs a sex change and my taxes must increase?
    Johnathan Gruber said that American taxpayers are too stupid to know what is good for them and must have what is chosen for them (at taxpayer costs) imposed on them. Taxation without representation.
    A transgendered individual was exorcised and the priest asked the devil his name and the devil responded “women changer”. “We, the people” have to pay for the devil?
    and while I am ranting: If a gay couple goes to a gay bakery and is refused service, is it still sexual discrimination?
    I know of a situation where the couple came from another state to a doctor because of herpes. The doctor cared for them but the receptionist refused to take their money or handle the payment they paid. Discrimination or self-preservation?
    And then there are the signs of drug use or HIV/aids or unsanitary hygiene, gay or straight, must the proprietor of a business forfeit self-preservation to accommodate such vague and unequal Justice? Criminalizing the exchange of informed consent is not the business of government.
    Thanks for listening

  • Liberalism is politicized envy. Wrath is another of the seven deadly sins. Think about it for 15 seconds and you will realize that leftists only have seven commnadments which are the seven deadly sins.

  • Liberals like to think of themselves as “unique” and “cutting-edge”. Except for the fact they embrace a tired, old socialist philosophy penned 165 years which has been proven time & again to be an utter failure – LOL! And then we have the “fashionable” leftists who march in mental lock-step with each other because of their collective inability to think …. how “unique” is that?

  • Perhaps, as some say, liberalism is a mental disorder. Beyond “rare cases of babies born with ambiguous genitalia”, men self-identifying as women and women self-identifying as men is madness. What if I self-identify as Napoleon?

  • A Cloney: “Liberals like to think of themselves as “unique” and “cutting-edge”. Except for the fact they embrace a tired, old socialist philosophy penned 165 years which has been proven time & again to be an utter failure – LOL! And then we have the “fashionable” leftists who march in mental lock-step with each other because of their collective inability to think …. how “unique” is that?”
    Atheism, abortion, human sacrifice, sodomy, self abuse and tyranny have been around as long as man has survived on the earth. These barbaric evils were prohibited by the community as a means of self-preservation and survival. What the Supreme Court has done in permitting atheism, legalizing human sacrifice and self-abuse is to impose a real burden and the cost of the practice of these vices, taxation without representation, on real freedom and the free exercise of religion, conscience and the proper ownership of tax money. Legalizing these evils as a freedom, rather than as a vice, for an individual, makes the innocent persons responsible and liable for the crimes against truth and the general welfare, the common good. The Supreme Court forgot the virtue of equal Justice; the Justice that they must apply to all citizens and for all citizens without prejudice. The questions the Court must ask are: “Is atheism good for the human person? “ “Is human sacrifice good for the human person?” “Is sodomy good for the human person?”
    Our Founding Fathers outlawed atheism with the First Amendment “or prohibit the free exercise thereof.” Our Founding Fathers outlawed human sacrifice in drawing the Constitution for the purpose “of securing the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” The Supreme Court has ignored these founding principles our Founding Fathers. Has the Supreme Court forgotten that their very existence is constituted by our Founding Fathers and predicated on their founding principles? The Supreme Court is established by our Founding Fathers to deliver equal Justice to all citizens and sovereign persons, the sovereign person of Jesus Christ, the sovereign person of the newly begotten, innocent, human person in the womb, the standard of the Justice the Court is to deliver, the innocence the Court must uphold to deliver Truth and Justice, their reason for being.
    If the Supreme Court goes the way of evil into the darkness will there still be a Constitution? …an American nation of the United States? Atheism, abortion and sodomy are evils outlawed by our Founding Principles. Will the Court uphold our Founding Principles or will the Court establish a new nation conceived without life, without liberty, without human conscience, without human freedom from tyranny, and with the imposition of evil, and with the extortion of the right to self preservation and property?
    Johnathan Gruber said that the American people are too stupid to know what is good for them. Here is a man who was paid to inscribe the evils of atheism, abortion and sodomy into our Founding Principles to cause the citizens to forfeit their tax dollars to pay for them.
    If anyone does not adhere to our Founding Principles, they are FREE to leave. These individuals are guaranteed the freedom to leave.

  • The United States of America is the political culmination of thousands of years of human progress led by the light of the Judeo-Christian understanding of human nature and our relationship to the Divine source of Justice and Truth. Obama came along, wanted to “radically transform” the country, and we voted him in ….twice. We twice demonstrated that at least a numerical majority of us were “stupid” enough to vote for someone with a statist totalitarian agenda and allow him to nearly wreck the country.

A Jealous Faith

Sunday, September 7, AD 2014

a jealous faith

The excerpt below from a column by Francis Cardinal George is an indication of why, although he has often been a disappointment as an administrator, I will miss him when he is no longer at the helm of the Chicago Archdiocese:


Nonetheless, many Catholics in the American colonies thought their life might be better in the new country than under a regime whose ruling class had penalized and persecuted them since the mid-16th century. They made this new country their own and served her loyally. The social history was often contentious, but the State basically kept its promise to protect all religions and not become a rival to them, a fake church. Until recent years.

There was always a quasi-religious element in the public creed of the country. It lived off the myth of human progress, which had little place for dependence on divine providence. It tended to exploit the religiosity of the ordinary people by using religious language to co-opt them into the purposes of the ruling class. Forms of anti-Catholicism were part of its social DNA. It had encouraged its citizens to think of themselves as the creators of world history and the managers of nature, so that no source of truth outside of themselves needed to be consulted to check their collective purposes and desires. But it had never explicitly taken upon itself the mantle of a religion and officially told its citizens what they must personally think or what “values” they must personalize in order to deserve to be part of the country. Until recent years.

In recent years, society has brought social and legislative approval to all types of sexual relationships that used to be considered “sinful.” Since the biblical vision of what it means to be human tells us that not every friendship or love can be expressed in sexual relations, the church’s teaching on these issues is now evidence of intolerance for what the civil law upholds and even imposes. What was once a request to live and let live has now become a demand for approval. The “ruling class,” those who shape public opinion in politics, in education, in communications, in entertainment, is using the civil law to impose its own form of morality on everyone. We are told that, even in marriage itself, there is no difference between men and women, although nature and our very bodies clearly evidence that men and women are not interchangeable at will in forming a family. Nevertheless, those who do not conform to the official religion, we are warned, place their citizenship in danger.

When the recent case about religious objection to one provision of the Health Care Act was decided against the State religion, the Huffington Post (June 30, 2014) raised “concerns about the compatibility between being a Catholic and being a good citizen.” This is not the voice of the nativists who first fought against Catholic immigration in the 1830s. Nor is it the voice of those who burned convents and churches in Boston and Philadelphia a decade later. Neither is it the voice of the Know-Nothing Party of the 1840s and 1850s, nor of the Ku Klux Klan, which burned crosses before Catholic churches in the Midwest after the civil war. It is a voice more sophisticated than that of the American Protective Association, whose members promised never to vote for a Catholic for public office. This is, rather, the selfrighteous voice of some members of the American establishment today who regard themselves as “progressive” and “enlightened.”

The inevitable result is a crisis of belief for many Catholics. Throughout history, when Catholics and other believers in revealed religion have been forced to choose between being taught by God or instructed by politicians, professors, editors of major newspapers and entertainers, many have opted to go along with the powers that be. This reduces a great tension in their lives, although it also brings with it the worship of a false god. It takes no moral courage to conform to government and social pressure. It takes a deep faith to “swim against the tide,” as Pope Francis recently encouraged young people to do at last summer’s World Youth Day.

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6 Responses to A Jealous Faith

  • John 15:18-27
    18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all this they will do to you on my account, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 It is to fulfil the word that is written in their law, ‘They hated me without a cause.’ 26 But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; 27 and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning.

  • Actually, the second paragraph explains my disappointment with Cardinal George. He, like many Catholics, sees America as a misguided, Enlightenment project. In his book, he can find nothing good to say about America for the first 60 pages or so. Then, we find that the only good thing he can make out is that it is multicultural. So the only good thing about America is that it is something else.

    He was also hook, line and sinker for Obamacare with the usual USCCB caveats. Now he finds that big government is not so nice. Hmmmm.

  • Love him are hate him, Limbaugh often talks about the “Marketplace of Ideas.” We have freedom of speech in this country, and what has the bishops chosen to talk about?
    Well, in the 20 years I’ve been Catholic, it hasn’t been contraception, abortion, marriage or any non-negotiable. It’s been “the rich are bad,” “sexism is bad,” “discrimination against homosexuals and undocumented workers is bad,” and “Government support for this or that is good.”
    There is so much they could have done many moons ago to promote NFP, marriage, and real health care, but they choose instead to do Al Smith dinners, “pass the trash”, and look the other way as Georgetown, Fordham, and ND lost their way.
    Even now it is not too late to jump into that Marketplace and try to make the case for Christ. The US, for all her assaults on religious freedom, is not the Middle East, with Islam on the march.
    I have no confidence our bishops will engage that Marketplace with the “Non-Negotiable ideas” with any fervor.

  • In modern American discourse, the ruling class knows it is “imposing its own form of morality,” but won’t own up to being a religion. Which is one reason why I’m skeptical that appeals to religious freedom will succeed, when only one side comes clean about its religious intent to form consciences, especially the consciences of children. And so it may be more useful to frame more of our arguments in terms of freedom of conscience, and conscience rights, appealing to all who dissent from the state religion.

  • With all of their plethora of faults & nauseating abandonment of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the peddling of government influence as a way to better society, the USCCB is the only current source of such writings/religious thought addressing the current shredding of our society’s fabric that I can find in the realm of American “Christianity.” In my experience, the Protestants leadership does not even understand the battle.

Sagebrush Rebellion II

Monday, April 21, AD 2014


A perennial issue in the West is the amount of land owned by the federal government and the Clive Bundy confrontation, go here to read all about it, has brought it to the fore:


There’s a modern tea party political element to it, but it goes much farther back to when many western territories achieved statehood in the 19th century, working out deals with Washington (as Mormon Utah did over what adherents at the time called “plural marriages”).

The map accompanying this article shows the difference between the West and the rest of the country. Here’s a list showing percentages of federal land by state, according to the Congressional Research Service. It includes the US Bureau of Land Management, the US Forest Service, National Parks, and military bases: Nevada 81, Alaska 62, Utah 67, Oregon 53, Idaho 62, Arizona 42, California 48, Wyoming 48, New Mexico 35, Colorado 36.

State lawmakers say they’re better prepared to manage such lands, both for the environment and for regional economies.

“There is a distinct difference in the way federal agencies are managing the federal lands today,” Sen. Fielder said. “They used to do a good job, but they are hamstrung now with conflicting policies, politicized science, and an extreme financial crisis at the national level. It makes it impossible for these federal agencies to manage the lands responsibly anymore.”

Utah has led a legislative charge to demand relinquishment of title to certain lands that exclude national parks and wilderness study areas, reports the Deseret News in Salt Lake City.

The “Transfer of Public Lands Act,” signed into law by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert in 2012, set the stage for a formal showdown with the government by demanding action under threat of lawsuit, the newspaper reports. Other states are exploring similar options.

Often, the political fight centers on some hapless species of plant or animal threatened with extinction and protected under federal law – like the northern spotted owl in Oregon or the desert tortoise in California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. Sometimes federal agencies are caught in the middle, trying to apply the “multiple use” doctrine to lands in dispute.

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9 Responses to Sagebrush Rebellion II

  • I am not sure why the Federal government should own any of it, unless it is something like a military base, etc. Even the parks like Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Isle Royal, etc. Surely they can be managed better by the State governments. (I am not sure they would do worse.)

  • Observation from the lower classman; It seems to me that the government can and has been used by shameful individuals to financially support their own agendas. F D A with Monsanto exec. (formerly) then posted as FDA czar. This lack of oversight relating to conflict of interest is a NORM in D.C.
    Could it be happening in this rancher case and the “China” interest?

  • Even the land that we do own is subject to so many Federal regulations that if that really want it, or want to keep you from using it the way you want, they can go after it and cause you all kinds of problems.

  • Government of the people, by the people and for the people is more than poetic allusion. Why does the government not pay taxes? Because the government constituted by the citizens operates at the will of the people, for the people, and by the people.The government, all government is created to serve the people as set forth in the Preamble to The Constitution for The United States.
    “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
    “We, the people “provide for the common defence”. We, the people own the government , federal, state and local. We, the people own the military bases made up of our citizens, operated by American citizens and paid for by the people.
    However did the federal government, itself a creature of the people, create bureaucracy and laws that violate the real property of the people? And without the people’s consent?
    The real estate, as opposed to authority and/or sovereignty, belongs to the people. This fact ought to have been included in the by-laws of every bureau. Every function of the government proves this fact. Criminal prosecution must be done where the crime is committed, not only because the state must punish the wrongdoer but because the state and its people did not prevent the crime, therefore, the people of the state must prosecute the crime.
    If someone comes into one’s home and tells them how to operate their home, that person has transgressed himself and the home. The government and all of its created agencies operates at the will of the people.
    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.” From The Declaration of Independence.
    The above citation is represented here for finer interpretation especially for those office holders in government who choose to abuse their elected office.
    The trouble with Gaia is that she, or it, or whatever, is not a real person, but the construction of another person’s imagination. Kind of like Mickey Mouse or Minnie or Zeus. It is important to recognize that our God is three Persons in one Supreme Sovereign Being. Jesus Christ is the Revelation of the Person of God.
    Gaia has no sovereignty. Any sovereignty over persons by Gaia is tyranny, pure and simple, akin to bank robbery. “You do what I tell you or I will hurt you…tyranny.”
    Aren’t public officials forbidden to use their office for personal gain? Even one dollar of gain or influence? See Abscam.

  • Harry Reid is a person, a creation of God. Government is a creation of sovereign citizens, a creation of man. A person who cannot tell the difference between himself, as a person, and his office as his obligation and duty deserves neither.

  • *blink*

    Well, that explains a lot of the BS I get from friends that grew up back east– they have no idea what the stupid “unimportant” regulation stuff is about.

    Oh, and according to the Western Livestock Journal from April 14th, the BLM was trying to ship the cows to Utah to auction…without any of the required paperwork.

    Hope the Utah take back the land law works out.

  • A typical Washington bureaucrat would see it this way – that Washington should be controlling the land in the rest of the country like it does out West.

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  • I am told that in Communist countries, the “federal” government owns quite a bit of land.

Competing Religions

Thursday, February 14, AD 2013


Christopher Johnson, the non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently for Mother Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, points to an editorial of The Washington Post that hopes the next Pope will not be so Catholic:

Roman Catholics?  You have my deepest sympathies.  You guys are going to have a LOT of crap to put up with over the next month and a half:

The hallmark of Pope Benedict’s tenure, for better or for worse, was fierce resistance to those changes. He rejected calls by Catholic progressives for reconsideration of doctrines such as celibacy and the ban on women in the priesthood; at a time when acceptance of the rights of gays and lesbians is rapidly spreading across the world, he was outspoken in condemning homosexuality as “unnatural” and unacceptable. With sectarian tension growing in Europe as well as the Middle East, he eschewed dialogue with Muslims and infuriated many by quoting a condemnation of Islamic theology as “evil and inhuman.”

Some of Pope Benedict’s most important achievements came in response to the backlash triggered by his reactionary acts. Pilloried for having suggested before a tour of AIDS-stricken Africa that the use of condoms “increases the problem,” he later suggested that the use of a condom by an HIV-infected person to avoid infecting a partner could be a positive step. After angering Jews by rehabilitating a bishop known as a Holocaust denier, the pope prayed at Auschwitz and published a book exonerating the Jewish people for the death of Jesus.

Pope Benedict will leave behind a church facing the same debilitating problems that loomed after the death of Pope John Paul II — above all, how to remain relevant to an increasingly secular world and to its own changing membership. This pope’s response was to insist that only uncompromising adherence to past doctrine could preserve the faith. Catholics who seek a different answer will have to hope that a college of cardinals dominated by the pope’s appointees will choose a more progressive successor.

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32 Responses to Competing Religions

  • The accompanying photo reminds me of a quote by William F. Buckley:
    “Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.”

  • I have to wonder if press bias has as much effect as we think. That editorial is about half opinion, half incorrect information. Reading it is like playing charades, trying to guess the real event from its mis-description. But then I think, they do that with everything. Every single thing that I know about, I can find errors in the coverage of. If I attend something, it’ll get falsely described. I wonder if we all just filter out the nonsense reflexively.

    In czarist Russia, in the Soviet Union, and for all I know in present-day Russia, no one ever believed the official story about anything. By censoring the news, they created a situation where any rumor was assumed to be more truthful than any official account. I’ve heard it argued that in the Soviet era, the whole point was to make a news story as false as possible, not because anyone would believe it, but because it broke people’s spirits to have to pretend to believe the stuff. The more outrageous the falsehood, the more dehumanizing it was to feign assent to it.

    So when I read this WaPo nonsense, part of me is afraid for the souls that think they know the Church based on the press’s reporting of it. But another part of me thinks that no one believes the press any more, about anything.

  • when people die are they going to go to catholic heaven, baptist heaven, methodist heaven ect ect?

    religious institutions are big money making machines, i wonder what our LORD/JESUS thinks about all this?

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  • when people die are they going to go to catholic heaven, baptist heaven, methodist heaven ect ect?

    No. There is only one heaven.

    religious institutions are big money making machines, i wonder what our LORD/JESUS thinks about all this?

    For whom? The flagship Anglican parish in my home town, chock-a-bloc with attorneys and corporation executives, employed a grand total of ten people. It had that many because it operated a day care center on site. That would be the most affluent parish in the most affluent denomination in the metropolitan region. The rector of that parish lived well, but rather less well than most of his parishioners and less well than the real-estate developer who bought the rectory when the vestry decided future rectors should own their own homes. Another parish in that same denomination (just down the road) lived hand to mouth under the inept financial administration of the schoolteachers who made up the majority of its vestry. The rector was over paid, but still earning less than he might have in the engineering career he had abandoned. That particular parish had a rector, a sexton, and a secretary.

    Catholic clergy receive a stipend that was (at that time) about 60% lower than the salaries paid to Anglican clergy. They were also celibates, generally owned no real property and often no consumer durables worth more than a three-figure sum of money.

    Running a small eleemosynary and receiving compensation similar to what a school teacher might receive is not an ascetic life; neither is it a life that would be chosen by someone notably acquisitive.

    You do realize, do you not, that religious congregations have no profits to distribute?

  • “he was outspoken in condemning homosexuality as “unnatural” and unacceptable.”

    What a horribly false mischaracterization! The Church certainly asserts that homosexual attraction is “unnatural” (which it is, how is that a contentious claim?), but she never claims that the orientation itself, distinct from acting upon it, is “unacceptable!”

    The problem is that we live in a world where people are incapable of using logic and reason. There is no nuance, there is no appreciation for subtle differences. It’s almost impossible be taken seriously when this is how the media portrays you.

  • And by the way, Left liberals aren’t the only ones guilty of mischaracterizing what the Pope/Church says.

    Sean Winters had a fantastic article praising Benedict’s papacy, but he also made some incredible insights into American Catholics.

    I realize most of you won’t click through because it’s a piece from the National Catholic Register (I don’t blame you…this is the first half-way redeemable article from them that I’ve ever come across), so I’ll copy and paste the two most relevant paragraphs:

    “This concern for unity was evidenced in other aspects of his teachings. In his encyclical Caritas in Veritate, he was clear that the social justice teachings of the church and the teachings about sexual morality flowed from a single source and, in his mind, were irrevocably bound together. As I mentioned in my article at The New Republic yesterday, the fact that the pope was as devoted to social justice issues as he was to issues of sexual morality has been somewhat opaque in the U.S. because so many of his loudest supporters in the U.S. tended not to mention his commitment to social justice or minimized the radicalness of the demands he made in that regard. Catholic neo-cons dismissed his call for a conversion of Western lifestyles, his commitment to environmental protection, his denunciation of “unregulated financial capitalism” as a threat to world peace, his abiding lament at growing income inequality, and because these neo-con voices claimed to be authoritative and because the mainstream media does not know any better, Benedict’s rigorous critique of modern consumer, capitalist culture was underplayed. Whenever he spoke against gay marriage, however, the headlines of a reactionary pope could be found everywhere.

    The Catholic left, unfortunately, let the Catholic right define the narrative of Benedict’s reign. They, too, neglected the significance of his social teachings to focus on anything he said about sex or gender. More importantly, they failed to really wrestle with his challenge, to see all the issues the church addresses as bound together. Take this morning’s Washington Post. There, George Weigel is quoted as saying, “If you don’t sell full-throttle Catholicism, people are not going to buy it. Everyone knows the whole package is more compelling and interesting than some sort of Catholic hors d’oeuvres that leave you hungry.” This from the man who advised using red and gold pens to mark up Caritas in Veritate, ignoring the parts Weigel thought were not really from the pope’s hand. This from the man who can cite one paragraph, and one paragraph only, from John Paul II’s Centesimus Annus but never once has evidenced his compliance with, nor appreciation for, the call to a conversion of Western lifestyles contained in that same encyclical, nor its restatement of the church’s commitment to the rights of workers, nor those sections that question the very ethical and anthropological foundations of capitalism. I agree with Weigel about the need for “full-throttle Catholicism,” though I find his use of the verb “sell” telling. I just wish Weigel and other Catholic neo-cons actually engaged the full breadth of the church’s teachings instead of trying to distort and minimize those teachings about economic and social justice they disdain.”

  • @JL a small correction, Sean Winters’ article was in the National Catholic Reporter, not the National Catholic Register (which is usually steadfast in supporting Church doctrine)

  • @Kathy

    You’re absolutely right! My apologies. It’s so annoying that those two are so close in name, yet generally so far apart in terms of orthodoxy!

    Nonetheless, I suggest you all give Winters’ piece a chance.

  • Pinky, interesting thought. Of course, we Catholics know that confusion is a tool used by Satan. An individual that can’t trust anything he or she hears is an individual that is isolated and helpless against the devil. He or she is similarly shielded and resistant to Love.

  • JL – I read the article. I had two problems with it. First, it took the pettiness and infighting over messaging far too seriously. If a person tells a story about both sides’ pettiness, he always casts himself as the visionary who can see above it all. “The time for partisanship is over”, et cetera. I don’t think that anyone, even those involved in the trivial “left”/”right” squabbles, think they’re representing the fullness of the Faith.

    Secondly, the bit about Benedict saving the Church from being juridical and neo-scholastic. That didn’t sound genuine. It’s no different from saying “I like him”. It’s always easy to say that the people before the guy you like failed to resonate, because they failed to resonate with you. And there is something about a live person fleshing out an idea that makes it more compelling. But saying the Church wasn’t Christological enough? The Church is always walking the line between being formal and passionate. Each of its members walks that line. But it’s just weird that Winters praises Benedict for his organic hermeneutic at the same time he calls him a break from the past, and at the same time he complains about his heavy-handedness.

  • Art Deco, thank you for your comment. i believe that regardless of the church we attend, our worship is judged by the Lord. We do not earn browny points for aligning ourselves with a particular tradition, nor do we gain merit by associating ourselves with a worshipping community that claims an astonishing pedigree. We are one in the Spirit if we claim Christ as Lord and Savior, and this is the essence of true religion. He that worships him must worship him in Spirit and in truth.

  • @Pinky

    “First, it took the pettiness and infighting over messaging far too seriously.”

    It’s not really about the pettiness and infighting as evils in and of themselves, it’s about the fact that they obfuscate the entirety of Pope Benedict’s teaching. The problem isn’t primarily that “conservative Catholics” and their left-wing counterparts squabble amongst each other, it’s that they both latch on to one aspect of the pope’s teaching (sexual morality), and use it to define the pope and all he has to say in the terms of the American political spectrum. They’re too busy cramming him into pigeonholes that fit their own partisan paradigm to bother hearing out the rest of his message.

    Weigel is such an obvious example of this that it’s like he’s a living caricature. The audacity and presumption needed to go through a papal encyclical and decide what’s “legitimate” and what’s not is simply stunning. I don’t want to judge his intent, but it seems like he’s got a pretty bad case of the “conservative before Catholic” thing going on.

  • JL

    I am rushed today so I will have breaks in taking apart your flawed thinking.

    “In his encyclical Caritas in Veritate, he was clear that the social justice teachings of the church and the teachings about sexual morality flowed from a single source and, in his mind, were irrevocably bound together.”

    No problem there, Catholics agree God is the source of all good. However, the Church teaches that God holds some things to be evil (i.e. abortion, homosexuality). No one can ever condone those. However, in ordering the common good (justice) there are different legitimate solutions which people can licitly disagree with.

    “As I mentioned in my article at The New Republic yesterday, the fact that the pope was as devoted to social justice issues as he was to issues of sexual morality has been somewhat opaque in the U.S. because so many of his loudest supporters in the U.S. tended not to mention his commitment to social justice or minimized the radicalness of the demands he made in that regard. ”

    Conservatives don’t deny those social justice issues, they just disagree with the application of other’s solutions (see above). Rather, they see the preeminent issue as being that of the attack on the most vulnerable of our society – the unborn.

  • Weigel is such an obvious example of this that it’s like he’s a living caricature. The audacity and presumption needed to go through a papal encyclical and decide what’s “legitimate” and what’s not is simply stunning. I don’t want to judge his intent, but it seems like he’s got a pretty bad case of the “conservative before Catholic” thing going on.

    Oh go on. Actual disputes over political economy and social policy in this country involve questions of whether or not to replace extant public insurance schemes with vouchers, what sort of deductibles to put on public and private insurance programs, how to determine re-imbursement rates for physicians, and the balance between public and private insurance in financing medical care. You cannot repair to the social encyclicals to adjudicate these sorts of questions.

  • “You cannot repair to the social encyclicals to adjudicate these sorts of questions.”

    Exactually. Catholic Social Teaching definitively states that the Church does not propose specific solutions. The error of Sean Winters (and by extension JL) is that they believe it does. And they believe that those solutions happen to coincide with their political prejudices.

  • You cannot repair to the social encyclicals to adjudicate these sorts of questions.

    While I pretty much endorse most of what Art has said in response, I will throw in a word of caution. There are no specific guidelines to treat these issues within the magnificent treasure of Church magisterial teachings; however, the Church certainly proscribes certain – for lack of a better term – attitudes. Catholics need to approach economic issues in light of those guidelines.

    To be a little more specific, I’ll go to a non-economic issue. It is manifestly incorrect to assert that Catholics are bound to oppose the death penalty. Church teaching throughout the century has not mandated an absolutist anti-death penalty approach. That said, Catholics who do support the death penalty do have to do more than pay lip service to the many qualifications the Church places on the practice. One cannot simply wave their hands and say that it is a prudential matter. If one has honestly wrestled with what the Church has laid down and can show where support for the death penalty is justified, then one may support the institution with a clear conscience.

    I will grant JL one thing – gasp! Conservative Catholics sometimes do suggest that economic policies are merely prudential matters. In a sense they are, but we can’t breezily dismiss what the Church has taught through the ages. I am certainly not suggesting Art or anyone here has done this, and Winters as usual demagogues and exaggerates the issue in an attempt to salve his own conscience. It’s just a mild note of caution about how we should approach these prudential matters as Catholics.

  • The Church is on firm footing as to goals: help the poor comes to mind. She is on much less firm footing frequently when she comes to means: the long ban against interest for example. Additionally, mistakes of fact remain mistakes of fact whether they are in Church documents or not. Consider this from 2267 of the Catechism:

    “Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”

    American prisons, and most prisons around the globe, are ongoing refutations of the argument that the State can render prisoners incapable of doing harm.

  • the long ban against interest for example. Additionally, mistakes of fact remain mistakes of fact whether they are in Church documents or not. Consider this from 2267 of the Catechism:

    Interest is the price of credit and in part derived from alternative opportunities. The implications and effects of charging interest are dependent on context. Medieval society (and early modern society – see Stanley Engerman on colonial America) featured rates of economic improvement that were glacial on balance and featured both sudden catastrophes and elongated periods of economic decline as well as advance (the latter 14th century and the early 16th century). In addition to that, the effect of charging interest in a cash poor agricultural society is not the same as in a modern society. Somewhere I have some lecture tapes which delineate the implications of charging interest in that context.

  • I will grant JL one thing – gasp! Conservative Catholics sometimes do suggest that economic policies are merely prudential matters. In a sense they are, but we can’t breezily dismiss what the Church has taught through the ages. I am certainly not suggesting Art or anyone here has done this, and Winters as usual demagogues and exaggerates the issue in an attempt to salve his own conscience. It’s just a mild note of caution about how we should approach these prudential matters as Catholics.

    I am not a close reader of the social encyclicals. As far as I can see, they rule out command economies (however inspired) and rule out most flavors of libertarianism. Getting more specific than that – and making sense of some apparent prescriptions – is a challenge.

  • “She is on much less firm footing frequently when she comes to means”

    True. Which is why, in her wisdom, the Church is stating more and more clearly that it does not have specific solutions. This is why the Church leaves to the laity, following the principles She lays out, to bring order to the world.

    “One cannot simply wave their hands and say that it is a prudential matter.”

    True again. Though one must be cautious. Not every pronouncement of an encyclical, apostolic exhortation etc. is binding on the conscience of a Catholic. This is not to pick or choose. Rather, the Church herself is taking from science, economics, historical understanding etc. to guide her. As understanding in these areas evolve, that guidance will change. The Church does indeed acknowledge this.

    An example I would posit is Climate Change (aka Global Warming.) Is the science on this definitive? If not, then is Church guidance on this open to reflection and correction? I would say that the science is not definitive and that Church reflections on the environment may shift some.

    Another issue, I know JP II in part argued against the death penalty citing that social science showed there was no deterrence effect of it. But that science may in fact have been flawed. In fact some current work shows the death penalty does deter crime. Will this change the Church’s judgment? It should if the change was based on such work.

  • Mobility of capital is desireable in any society, but most especially a cash poor one.

    I agree with Don re 2267. It’s expression of a factual assessment seems ideosyncratic and out of place in a catechism. The extent to which modern society can render violent criminals incapable of further violence requires a prudential assessment. And I point that out even though I’m generally opposed to the death penalty in the US.

  • @Art

    “Oh go on. Actual disputes over political economy and social policy in this country involve questions of whether or not to replace extant public insurance schemes with vouchers, what sort of deductibles to put on public and private insurance programs, how to determine re-imbursement rates for physicians, and the balance between public and private insurance in financing medical care. You cannot repair to the social encyclicals to adjudicate these sorts of questions.”

    Weigel wasn’t having a debate. He was pulling a Jefferson and cutting out what he didn’t like (not inferring that encyclical = scripture so please don’t go there). He consistently uses papal encyclical’s as binding commandments when they serve his purposes, so this amateur exegesis by him was a necessary reaction.

  • “I am rushed today so I will have breaks in taking apart your flawed thinking.”

    Sigh. This place would be far healthier without this unneeded internet combox bravado.

  • What Weigel did with Caritas in Veritate was pretty embarrassing. While there are usually several hands involved in constructing an encyclical, to go source-critical on it said more about Weigel than it did about Benedict.

  • “Sigh. This place would be far healthier without this unneeded internet combox bravado.”

    Back from retreat so I can respond. Thanks for not addressing the points I made. Instead you resort to pseudo-wit.

  • JL,

    Some more unpacking of the, um, internet bravado of Sean Winters.

    “nor its restatement of the church’s commitment to the rights of workers…”

    A commitment that is qualified. This as seen in Abp. Morlino’s prophetic response to the Wisconsin Public Union fiasco.

    “…nor those sections that question the very ethical and anthropological foundations of capitalism.”

    These foundations are not questioned per se. Otherwise JP II and Benedict XVI would not have had their qualified endorsement of Capitalism.

    Enough for tonight. But the reason I do not read Sean Winters much is that I routinely read the National Catholic Reporter. Someone leaves them in the back of Chuch. I take them home and read them before throwing them away. Unfortunately, every issue seems to say the same thing. Women priests, homosexual marriage, etc.

  • @Phillip.

    Of course it’s qualified. The right to life is qualified to. As is the right to liberty. Etc.

    Re: capitalism: I think critical acceptance is a better way to put it than “endorsement.”

    My approval of Winters and NCR went no further than the words that were written on that page.

  • The endorsement is in the wording of Centesimus Annus. Even if distributists disagree.

  • “The endorsement is in the wording of Centesimus Annus.”

    Prove it.

  • And quickly here from CA. I include the whole paragraph to show, as is frequently the case, a qualified endorsement. But an endorsement nonetheless.

    “34. It would appear that, on the level of individual nations and of international relations, the free market is the most efficient instrument for utilizing resources and effectively responding to needs. But this is true only for those needs which are “solvent”, insofar as they are endowed with purchasing power, and for those resources which are “marketable”, insofar as they are capable of obtaining a satisfactory price. But there are many human needs which find no place on the market. It is a strict duty of justice and truth not to allow fundamental human needs to remain unsatisfied, and not to allow those burdened by such needs to perish. It is also necessary to help these needy people to acquire expertise, to enter the circle of exchange, and to develop their skills in order to make the best use of their capacities and resources. Even prior to the logic of a fair exchange of goods and the forms of justice appropriate to it, there exists something which is due to man because he is man, by reason of his lofty dignity. Inseparable from that required “something” is the possibility to survive and, at the same time, to make an active contribution to the common good of humanity.”

Ross Douthat Asks if Liberal Christianity Can be Saved and His Readers Answer No

Sunday, July 15, AD 2012



It is always amusing to read conservative Ross Douthat’s columns in The New York Times and read the visceral negative reaction of almost all his commenters.  The New York Times of course is Holy Writ for most liberals in this country, and their seeing a conservative opinion piece in it is simply beyond the pale for most of them.

Today , Douthat asked if liberal Christianity can be saved, noting that liberal denominations are going the way of the passenger pigeon, the Edsel and conservative Democrats:

IN 1998, John Shelby Spong, then the reliably controversial Episcopal bishop of Newark, published a book entitled “Why Christianity Must Change or Die.” Spong was a uniquely radical figure — during his career, he dismissed almost every element of traditional Christian faith as so much superstition — but most recent leaders of the Episcopal Church have shared his premise. Thus their church has spent the last several decades changing and then changing some more, from a sedate pillar of the WASP establishment into one of the most self-consciously progressive Christian bodies in the United States.

As a result, today the Episcopal Church looks roughly how Roman Catholicism would look if Pope Benedict XVI suddenly adopted every reform ever urged on the Vatican by liberal pundits and theologians. It still has priests and bishops, altars and stained-glass windows. But it is flexible to the point of indifference on dogma, friendly to sexual liberation in almost every form, willing to blend Christianity with other faiths, and eager to downplay theology entirely in favor of secular political causes.       

Yet instead of attracting a younger, more open-minded demographic with these changes, the Episcopal Church’s dying has proceeded apace. Last week, while the church’s House of Bishops was approving a rite to bless same-sex unions, Episcopalian church attendance figures for 2000-10 circulated in the religion blogosphere. They showed something between a decline and a collapse: In the last decade, average Sunday attendance dropped 23 percent, and not a single Episcopal diocese in the country saw churchgoing increase.       

This decline is the latest chapter in a story dating to the 1960s. The trends unleashed in that era — not only the sexual revolution, but also consumerism and materialism, multiculturalism and relativism — threw all of American Christianity into crisis, and ushered in decades of debate over how to keep the nation’s churches relevant and vital.       

Traditional believers, both Protestant and Catholic, have not necessarily thrived in this environment. The most successful Christian bodies have often been politically conservative but theologically shallow, preaching a gospel of health and wealth rather than the full New Testament message.       

But if conservative Christianity has often been compromised, liberal Christianity has simply collapsed. Practically every denomination — Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian — that has tried to adapt itself to contemporary liberal values has seen an Episcopal-style plunge in church attendance. Within the Catholic Church, too, the most progressive-minded religious orders have often failed to generate the vocations necessary to sustain themselves.

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38 Responses to Ross Douthat Asks if Liberal Christianity Can be Saved and His Readers Answer No

  • Of course it cannot be saved because liberal Christianity does not exist. The Catholic Church continues to grow because it does not change in faith and morals. It is the church founded by Christ and Christ entrusted the Church to St. Peter and his successors. People are abandoning liberal Christian churches and joining the Catholic Church for that very reason.

  • Should liberal Christianity, whatever that is, be saved?

    I vote, “present.”

  • Liberal-ISM:

    I – Self – Me

  • PS, Rev Scotty McLennan just doesn’t get it, but he will one day.

  • “Why has the liberal voice been muted in liberal Christianity?” The question is: “Why has the voice of Christianity been muted in liberalism. The Sermon on the Mount is no longer allowed in the public square. The liberal Jesus Christ, God, the Father, God, the Holy Spirit is prohibited in the public school. Jesus could not give His Sermon on the Mount. The Lord, God cannot celebrate His Birthday at Christmas, because some “liberal”, “progressives” have disenfranchised the Lord, God, Jesus Christ, using HIs name to finagle their political ends. “Liberal” is an adjective to describe a person, not a group of individuals as the word “Christianity” does. As a “liberal” or “progrssive” I ought to be free to be a “liberal” or a “progressive” as I define liberalism, not as “a group of liberals” define me. When a “group of liberals” begin to redefine liberal Christianity, I, as an individual person, lose my liberty. Therefore, liberal Christianity is an artificial construct of persons who have been disenfranchised.

  • Mary wrote, “The Catholic Church continues to grow because it does not change in faith and morals.”

    What growth? First off, Catholicism is about finished in Europe and is in declining in America. Evangelical Christianity is cutting into Catholic numbers in Latin America, especially Mexico, and Islam is making greater strides in Africa at Catholicism’s expense.

    Vatican II a spawned a serious of disasters, wrote Catholic author Pat Buchanan.

    Here are some grim statistics he cited of Catholicism’s decline:

    Priests. While the number of priests in the United States more than doubled to 58,000, between 1930 and 1965, since then that number has fallen to 45,000. By 2020, there will be only 31,000 priests left, and more than half of these priests will be over 70.

    Ordinations. In 1965, 1,575 new priests were ordained in the United States. In 2002, the number was 450. In 1965, only 1 percent of U.S. parishes were without a priest. Today, there are 3,000 priestless parishes, 15 percent of all U.S. parishes.

    Seminarians. Between 1965 and 2002, the number of seminarians dropped from 49,000 to 4,700, a decline of over 90 percent. Two-thirds of the 600 seminaries that were operating in 1965 have now closed.

    Sisters. In 1965, there were 180,000 Catholic nuns. By 2002, that had fallen to 75,000 and the average age of a Catholic nun is today 68. In 1965, there were 104,000 teaching nuns. Today, there are 8,200, a decline of 94 percent since the end of Vatican II.

    Religious Orders. For religious orders in America, the end is in sight. In 1965, 3,559 young men were studying to become Jesuit priests. In 2000, the figure was 389. With the Christian Brothers, the situation is even more dire. Their number has shrunk by two-thirds, with the number of seminarians falling 99 percent. In 1965, there were 912 seminarians in the Christian Brothers. In 2000, there were only seven. The number of young men studying to become Franciscan and Redemptorist priests fell from 3,379 in 1965 to 84 in 2000.

    Catholic schools. Almost half of all Catholic high schools in the United States have closed since 1965. The student population has fallen from 700,000 to 386,000. Parochial schools suffered an even greater decline. Some 4,000 have disappeared, and the number of pupils attending has fallen below 2 million – from 4.5 million.

    Though the number of U.S. Catholics has risen by 20 million since 1965, statistics show that the power of Catholic belief and devotion to the Faith are not nearly what they were.

    Catholic Marriage. Catholic marriages have fallen in number by one-third since 1965, while the annual number of annulments has soared from 338 in 1968 to 50,000 in 2002.

    Attendance at Mass. A 1958 Gallup Poll reported that three in four Catholics attended church on Sundays. A recent study by the University of Notre Dame found that only one in four now attend.

    Only 10 percent of lay religious teachers now accept church teaching on contraception. Fifty-three percent believe a Catholic can have an abortion and remain a good Catholic. Sixty-five percent believe that Catholics may divorce and remarry. Seventy-seven percent believe one can be a good Catholic without going to mass on Sundays. By one New York Times poll, 70 percent of all Catholics in the age group 18 to 44 believe the Eucharist is merely a “symbolic reminder” of Jesus.
    Google “decline of Catholicism” and you get 66,000 hits.

  • @ Joe Green: This is the pruning of the branches that St. Paul discusses in Romans 11. There will be growth in orthodoxy. But the dead liberal branches will have to be pruned first. That’s makes for some bad statistics when it comes to mere numbers, but it makes for a healthy Church in the long run.

  • @Paul. Too much pruning and you’re down to a dead stump.

  • True, Joe, but the Lord is doing the pruning and we should trust Him.

  • Actually Joe there are about 5000 more priests in the world today than there were in 1999. Ordination rates are climbing in Africa and Asia, and among orthodox dioceses around the world including in North America and Europe. The Church has ever been in flux and has usuallly had a shortage of priests particularly in the New World. The statistics for priestly ordinations in this country in the fifties were unusually high for a number of reasons, many World War II veterans becoming priests on the GI BIll for example, and do not reflect the normal trend in ordinations in this country. In the future priests in this country are going to be much more orthodox than their predecessors and that should lend itself to more ordinations. Orthodox orders of nuns and sisters are doing quite well in obtaining new postulants. Mr. Buchanan is as reliable as to the future of the Church as he is in regard to the history of World War II.

  • What is disconcerting is that Douthat is as ever Douthat. Whatever his is, amusing or trenchant he is not. He is for the most part drily discussing a social phenomenon familiar to anyone who has been paying attention the last forty years, and even contrives a shot at evangelicals in the course of it (in his typical fashion). The man writes like David Broder and gets 323 paroxysms in response. The people commenting would do well to look at themselves in the mirror and ask if there is not something wrong with them (were they the sort to do so).

  • The fate of the liberal churches springs from the fact that those who reject authority will never succeed in imposing their own authority on others

    The Reformers having challenged the authority of the Church, on the basis of scripture, it was only a matter of time before Semler, Ernesti, and others challenged the authority of scripture on the basis of reason and private judgement. Strauss and the Tübingen School inevitably followed.

    Why, after all, should the Thirty-Nine Articles or the Westminster Confession be of more authority than popes and councils?

  • @Joe Green – Here’s a link that speaks to the growth of the Catholic Church. We have to remember that the Catholic Church is universal. While Europe is in a state of decline that is not true for the remainder of the world. Women entering religious orders are delcling in the existing orders affiliated with the liberal LCWR but if you take a look at the religious orders that are orthodox they are booming. I agree with Paul, the Holy Spirit is doing some pruning.

  • I think Joe agreen’s point is well taken. The concept of quality over quantity assumes that you have enough. The quality of a necessary product, whether it be wheat or priests, is important but there must be enough to feed the community.

    That having been said, it should be noted that the clergy accused of sexual abuse and non-criminal perversions peaked in the late 1970s and early 1980s among priests who entered the seminary in the 1960s. Couple that reality with Christ’s divinity denying nuns, Transubstantiating denying Jesuits, and drunken Christian Brothers, and you have a virtual whirlpool of intellectually decaying, Baby-Boomer Catholic Religious, dragging themselves and their charges into hell.

    We simply have to be better off without them.

  • The fate of the liberal churches springs from the fact that those who reject authority will never succeed in imposing their own authority on others

    I will go out on a limb and suggest that there was a seminal tendency of people seeking agreeable low-pressure employment, intellectuals not satisfied with digesting and making small incremental additions to a body of theological understanding who want to be ‘innovative’, and addled bourgeois who have a taste for cloying lectures and hymn singing. What you get is the Episcopal Church.

  • “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” – Mt. 7:24-27

    Parts of the Church were being built upon sand in the Bernardin days, introducing the values of Man and not clinging to the values of God; now the rains have come, the streams are rising and the winds are blowing and beating against it. Those parts of the Church not built upon the Rock will, and have already begun to, fall with a crash.

    Let the tempest rage.

  • @Mary, not to be disrespectful, but you are in denial, and so is Don, cherry-picking a few “positive” stats. A macro view undeniably shows not only Catholicism in decline but Christianity as a whole. Even other religions are losing adherents as reason and science make greater strides. In the O.T. the “curse of the law” was disease, poverty and death. If Christ was the end of the law, then why do we still have disease, poverty and death? Religion, whatever one you choose, fails on all accounts.

    I understand why people cling to religion in such an abysmal world. They need something/anything to believe in. As a cradle Catholic, I, too, once believed. But the experience of 70 years has demonstrated to me unequivocally that a) Life is not fair b) God is the author of Life c) God is unfair. We not only live in a world that is demonstrably imperfect but terribly flawed in countless respects. A world in which the supreme creature — man — is the worst of the lot; made, we are told, “in the image of God,” yet prone to evil and doomed to suffer. At bottom, Man is vile, (anagrammically evil) stupid and unworthy and I cannot believe in a God who would his waste time trying to perfect such a pathetic creature. I’d rather live in a world of dogs, which are superior in every way but so-called “intelligence.”

  • Joe, your woe is me agnosticism is as tiresome as your inability to accept data that contradicts the pessimism that you wallow in as a pig does her filth. Peddle your bitter angst elsewhere.

  • Zummo dismisses me as an “ignorant ass” and you call me a “pig wallowing in filth.”
    Yes, Jesus was right about one thing: “By their fruits ye shall know them.”

  • Yep Joe. Your fruits are bitterness and hopelessness and I have had enough of both. You are banned from this site.

  • Joe wrote, “But the experience of 70 years has demonstrated to me unequivocally that a) Life is not fair b) God is the author of Life c) God is unfair.”

    Ezekiel 18:25-29 says:

    25 “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ Hear now, O house of Israel, is it not My way which is fair, and your ways which are not fair? 26 When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies in it, it is because of the iniquity which he has done that he dies. 27 Again, when a wicked man turns away from the wickedness which he committed, and does what is lawful and right, he preserves himself alive. 28 Because he considers and turns away from all the transgressions which he committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 29 Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ O house of Israel, is it not My ways which are fair, and your ways which are not fair?


    We are getting precisely and exactly what we deserve.

  • Addendum: God did create life, but life is unfair not because of God, but because of Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God. It is sin that has made life unfair, not God. Indeed, it is our sin that has done that. It may seem like a remarkable example of the transitive law of logic to say, “a) Life is not fair b) God is the author of Life c) God is unfair.” But it is flawed logic because it is missing that key point: man rebelled, so God, being a Gentleman, gives man up to what he wants (i.e., sin) and the consequences thereof (i.e., disease, injury and death). St. Paul makes this very point over and over again in his Epistles.

  • To paraphrase Chesterton:

    “It’s not that liberal Christianity has been tried and found lacking, it’s that it’s…well, actually, now that you think about it…um,…well….ok, forget I said that.”

  • I can understand your banning of Joe (it does get tiresome). You would think he has never heard of free will. And image and likeness does not mean exactly the same. Like our Creator, we are given free will. The similarities don’t go much beyond that.

    Yes, his syllogism sucks. It should be A) God created life, B) we mucked it up, C) we suck.

  • The pessimism of Joe Green is sad. God is love and He continually calls us to conversion. Let’s hope that God’s grace can permeate Joe’s heart.

  • Yeah, I get a little tired of despair, but I feel for Joe. When you get to his vantage point, you see a lot of stupidity and horrible behavior. But his mistake is in seeing that as the sum total of man, or his basic essence. Man is a “ruined god,” to crib a turn of phrase from a sci-fi writer whose name I forget (Anderson?).

    Whether that ruin is tragic or contemptible depends upon one’s perspective. I think it’s both, but Joe chooses only contempt, which is at the root of his error.

  • While Joe accuses others of cherry picking facts, he does the same thing.

    Fact, the number of Catholic Priests worldwide are on the increase.
    Fact, the number of Catholics worldwide are on the increase too.
    Fact, liberal elements of the Church are dying while orthodox elements are growing.

    These are simple facts easily verified with minimal research by those that want a balanced view.

    In response to Zummo Joe quoted a snippet from Matthew 7:16, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” Unfortunately and typical to those of a liberal, agnostic or atheistic persuasion, his quote is totally out of context. To put it into context Joe needs to read

    Mt. 7:15-21 –

    “[15] Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. [16] By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? [17] Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit. [18] A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit. [19] Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire. [20] Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them. [21] Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the
    kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

    I think verse 15 describes Joe perfectly….his bitter views of mankind, the unfairness of God, the Church et al are certainly not good fruits. But Joe’s salvation is more important than arguing with him. He should read Mt. 7:21 above and take it seriously. Below is a link to a document that explains Catholic belief (doctrine) that outside the Church there is no Salvation (before other posters go bonkers please read the article). In this article it explains that unless one can claim ‘invincible ignorance’ of Catholic doctrine they cannot be saved outside the Church. Unfortunately it doesn’t appear that Joe can make this claim.

    We should all pray for his return to the faith.

  • Oooops, I forgot the link…here it is:

    Sorry about that.

  • My own reflection on humanity mirrors that of Stephen Vincent Benet in The Devil and Daniel Webster:

    “Then he turned to Jabez Stone and showed him as he was — an ordinary man who’d had hard luck and wanted to change it. And, because he’d wanted to change it, now he was going to be punished for all eternity. And yet there was good in Jabez Stone, and he showed that good. He was hard and mean, in some ways, but he was a man. There was sadness in being a man, but it was a proud thing too. And he showed what the pride of it was till you couldn’t help feeling it. Yes, even in hell, if a man was a man, you’d know it. And he wasn’t pleading for any one person any more, though his voice rang like an organ. He was telling the story and the failures and the endless journey of mankind. They got tricked and trapped and bamboozled, but it was a great journey. And no demon that was ever foaled could know the inwardness of it — it took a man to do that.”

    God became one of us, and gave His life for us. Two very salient facts for those who have only despair for Man.

  • That’s a good quote, Don.

    I was starting a little further back, though. Until you can get a glimpse of the idea that there was a Fall–that there is something still noble in us, despite our ruined visage, despite the nastiness we deck ourselves with–redemption doesn’t (yet) make sense.

  • It was in God’s mind to send His only begotten Son as Savior of manknd even before man sinned. It is God’s prerogative. The Fall removed our innocence but not our soul.

  • “But the experience of 70 years has demonstrated to me unequivocally that a) Life is not fair b) God is the author of Life c) God is unfair.” “Life is unfair” because man sinned against God. God is the author of a perfect life. “God is unfair” is victim bashing.

  • Catholicism is booming in Africa. I’m having trouble finding a consistent data source, but there are something like 100 million more African Catholics now than there were forty years ago. It’s not just population growth, either: the percentage of Catholics in Africa is increasing as well. The number of African priests has increased 25% since 2000.

    It’s true that the evangelicals have expanded a lot at our expense in South America. And a lot of the faster-growing parts of Africa are largely Muslim. But Catholicism overall is trending upward.

    Once you get past the percentages game, you can see that Asia has the greatest potential for changing the absolute total of religious membership. The relationship between China and the Church is worth watching.

  • Oh, and back to the point of the original article: these aren’t watered-down religions that are booming. Evangelical Protestantism, Islam, and Catholicism tend to be pretty serious. Even the, say, Anglicanism that’s expanding in Africa tends to be highly devout and moral. Not that African Catholicism is perfect: I was reading recently about the treatment of women in Africa, even within Catholic countries. Shocking rates of rape. But back to the main picture, again, people are more attracted to more demanding religions.

  • Pinky wrote, “…people are more attracted to more demanding religions.” A religion that demand little gives little, and a religion that demands nothing gives nothing.

    God requires everything, even our lives. What He gave in return was His only begotten Son – His very self.

  • a) Life is not fair b) God is the author of Life c) God is unfair.”

    Job… the poster child for life/God being unfair. God may be unfair, but he is just.

  • Asians are no less materialistic than Westerners yet the churches here are overflowing. The relative decline in church attendance is in large part due to the lack of continuous enforcement over the young. Now given a choice most youngsters would rather prefer to stay in bed than attend Sunday mass. This is excused as an expression of free will, which is of course a sacred right in the West; the rest of the world does not suffer from this to the same extent.

    Mr Green if your questing is sincere then God owes you an explanation. He is the Father after all. By doing all that is right, you will find Him as affirmed in one of the Easter prayers.

  • Ivan I agree with you. Materialism is not the whole problem. Our liberal culture gives youth in the culture too much latitude …. and unfortunately it can take a long time to get over some of the mistakes we make when young.
    Now for us to expect that teens can decide whether or not they should go to Mass is only the tip of the iceberg. Some think 7 and 8 year olds can self identify as gay, or born in the wrong sexual identity, or ask the government abortion through the public school system without the parent’s knowledge. As these young people encounter the results of their own actions they become more conservative and wiser as they grow older. Until then parents should exercise their traditional perogatives.

    Many of the 22 year olds who voted for Obama in 2008, will be 26 for this election and will not make that mistake again.

Douthat, Santorum and Tolerant Hate

Monday, January 9, AD 2012

The mocking of the Santorums for the manner in which they grieved over the death of their new-born son Gabriel Michael Santorum by Alan Colmes and Eugene Robinson has been explored in two previous posts here at TAC, and they may be read here and here.  Ross Douthat tackled the subject in the New York Times:

But if the attacks on the Santorums’ personal choices were incoherent (so incoherent, in fact, that both Colmes and Robinson soon backtracked), they were also entirely characteristic of our moment. This is the second consecutive election cycle in which a Republican politician has endured a bizarre obstetrics-related controversy; last time, we had the various conspiracy theories surrounding Sarah Palin’s pregnancy and her Down syndrome son.

In a sense, one could say that these kinds of invasive debates become inevitable once the traditional zone of privacy around public figures collapses. But it would be more accurate to say that the zone of privacy has collapsed precisely because of the deep moral divisions that these kinds of controversies reveal.

Privacy is a luxury of moral consensus. Nobody would have thought to politicize the premature birth and death of John F. Kennedy’s son Patrick, because abortion wasn’t a polarizing issue in the America of 1963. But if a white politician in the Jim Crow South had married a black woman, the relationship would inevitably have been seen as a political gesture as well a personal decision.

Today, we are less divided over race, but more divided over sex and reproduction. In a country that cannot agree whether fetuses are human beings, even questions like how to mourn and bury a miscarried child are inevitably freighted with ideological significance. Likewise, in a country where the majority of Down syndrome fetuses are aborted, the mere act of carrying a child with a genetic disorder to term — as both the Palins and the Santorums, whose daughter Bella has Trisomy 18, have done — feels like a political statement.

Go here to read the rest.  The column is a good restrained look at this issue.  What is truly interesting however, are the comments reacting to the column.  Almost uniformly, they are completely unsympathetic to Santorum and his family, and most say that his beliefs against gay marriage and abortion are so despicable that he is fair game for this type of criticism.  A random sample:

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5 Responses to Douthat, Santorum and Tolerant Hate

  • Many liberals are purely evil. We need to help them.

    In Christian charity, we need to work to bring them to virtue. We need to bring them the good news.

  • The militant homosexualists and abortionists have little fear of showing their true colours now. It may be a little late but war to the knife should be the order of the day when dealing these people. Trying to understand them, or to persuade them of the reasonableness of the Christian position is a pointless errand, as what enrages them is the mere existence of committed Christians. And when it comes in a package as attractive as Sarah Palin, it infuriates them even more, driving them into a fury like the sans culottes who paraded around with human heads on pikes.

  • they hate anything that recognizes the humanity of unborn children. pray for them.

  • I skipped through 155 comments on another site this morning about Mr Santorum. Their comment section was closed. I was amazed at the venom poured on the Santorums. At least one wrote as if they brought this up for political gain, seemed not to know it was in answer to a question on the campaign trail, upset his wife visibly. Others seemed to act as if the decision to accelerate the birth was an attemoted abortion, but ended in a premature delivery of an already dead baby. Not a fetus, bhy the way, but a baby. One OB GYN physician wrote that the drug given was perfectly normal. We all know the principle of double effect, we can do something to relieve a condition in the human body, even if it may result in death, whether the patient is a single man swith a specific medical condition or a mother with a difficult pregnancy. I know that dirty politics did not begin with the 24/7 news and the ingternet, blogs and social media. However the sickness is so much more evil today with hat 24/7 spread of hate, lies and one-sided attacks. The only cure is civilised discourse but I am off to drain the Atlantic before I tackle that one.


Global Warming as a Substitute Religion

Monday, July 11, AD 2011





In these days we are accused of attacking science because we want it to be scientific. Surely there is not any undue disrespect to our doctor in saying that he is our doctor, not our priest, or our wife, or ourself. It is not the business of the doctor to say that we must go to a watering-place; it is his affair to say that certain results of health will follow if we do go to a watering-place. After that, obviously, it is for us to judge. Physical science is like simple addition: it is either infallible or it is false. To mix science up with philosophy is only to produce a philosophy that has lost all its ideal value and a science that has lost all its practical value.

G. K. Chesterton

One of the more pernicious follies of our time is the mixing of politics, science and religion.  The Global Warming scam is a prime example of what a noxious brew can result from this.  Among many of the elites in Western society, environmentalism has taken on all the aspects of a religion.  The religious left has been eager to climb on to this new religion.  Based upon very dubious science, and fired with the faith that has traditionally been given to religion, powerful forces throughout the West are eager  to implement revolutionary changes in our society, most involving a radical expansion of government control over industry.

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12 Responses to Global Warming as a Substitute Religion

  • That is exactly what the religion of anthropogenic global warming is all about.

  • Another way in which belief in AGW is like a religion: it (allegedly) explains the problem of evil. Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires, and even earthquakes and tsunamis (I believe) are all blamed on global warming.

    Plus, people who scoff at the notion that God would send natural disaster as a punishment for sins like abortion (I don’t personally believe that either, but I say this just to make a point) have no trouble embracing the idea that “Nature” or “Mother Earth” sends them as punishment for using the wrong light bulbs, driving old cars, or simply failing to believe in the One True Faith. Case in point: the liberal blogger/commentator who stated a couple of months ago that residents of states affected by recent tornado outbreaks had it coming because they are represented by “climate change deniers.”

  • Plus, a large plurality of AGW adherents are better credentialed than the majority of “Cargo Cult” believers . . . [sigh].

  • Here’s the link to the blog post I referred to earlier:

    In fairness, however, it should be noted that even many liberals thought this sentiment was obscene and uncalled for.

  • Another way it’s a religion: it’s based on faith. Sure, you can postulate scientific theories based on evidence at hand, but in the end you really can’t prove that man is causing global warming. Even if you can demonstrate through data that the Earth’s temperatures are warming, there’s no way to conclusively prove that this is a result of human behavior or that these increased temperatures are beyond what is normal for the planet’s history.

  • “Thank heavens for a rambunctious new media:  talk radio and the internet, where ideological conformity is impossible to enforce.”
    This made me laugh. Ideological diversity from Limbaug to Hannity

  • Oh there are liberal talk show hosts on radio Kevin, but in a free market to gain listeners the vast majority of them are as popular as the plague. Cheer up Kevin, however, you still have National Public Radio which has found ways around that terrible requirement that a radio talk show needs to be entertaining to gain listeners.

  • Why is it that liberals think that anything that sounds like Marxist NPR is an example of diversity to be emulated?

    The fact of the matter is that Limbaugh and Hannity ARE examples of diversity opposed to the liberal Democrat group think of NPR and like-minded pseudo-news outlets, and it is this that liberal Democrats cannot stand.

    Democracy is only for the Democrats who all think the same way – anthropogenic global warming. Right wing conservatives don’t deserve a voice because that’s so diverse as to be opposed to diversity.

    And that is precisely the logic behind liberalism’s AGW.

  • I do not think it is a substitute religion or necessarily invalid as science. Some of the people promoting it are eminent scientists (e.g. Lonnie Thompson). Of course, so are some of the critics (and Dr. Thompson seems to have misplaced his raw data).

    The trouble is that it has decayed into a class and subcultural marker and a trough for organized appetites.

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  • What??? Now it is global warming. I am going to have to get rid of my train loads of parkas I bought in the 1970s when I was told we were going into the ice age because of human activity . . . maybe I can exchange the parkas for swim suits & sun screen . . .