4 Responses to The Korean War: It Was Worth It

  • This is an amazing image, juxtaposed with Victor Davis Hanson’s thoughts.

    Someone should do the same with the southern tip of Florida v. Cuba.

  • I have not served in the Armed Forces. I would not approve of my sons joining the Armed Forces if a schmuck such as Clinton or Obama were to be President. Having said that, one regret is that the North Koreans were not pushed back to China to end the war. It may not have been possible without further escalation. The poor Koreans stuck in the North, like the Cubans, have beencondemned to live under the worst form of government ever since.

  • We now know [cf. The Fifty Years’ War] that Stalin was planning on starting WW3 (an invasion of Europe) in 1952, and that he stopped Kim from invading South Korea in 1949 because he wanted his own nuclear weapons first. Thanks to our access to Soviet records in the early 1990’s we know that Stalin saw the Korean War as a test of Western resolve, as was surprised when Truman saw it the same way. WW3 got pushed off to 1954 at the earliest, Stalin died in 1953, and the new Soviet leadership then shelved the idea. Was it worth it? You bet it was, though perhaps not every detail was (PF, we successfully pushed back the Communists to Pyongyang. We might have been able to stay there had we negotiated a truce then and there and recognized Red China)

    Vietnam would have been worth it also, had not the basic strategy been so flawed and the resulting tactics so ineffectual.

  • Those lights in the area of South Korea seen in the photo and the darkness of North Korea are due in certain measure to the difference between each country’s nuclear policies. South Korea eschews the use of nuclear weapons, but has an active nuclear energy program. It generates 20.5 GWe from 23 nuclear reactors which supply between 22 and 29% of the country’s total electric consumption, operating at a capacity factor of 95%. Its home-grown pressurized water reactor design by KEPCO – the APR-1400 which is a modified Combustion Engineering System 80+ design – has been marketed around the world. South Korea is now building four of these behemoths at Barakah in the United Arab Emirates. In fact, I was offered a job at Barakah several years ago.

    Now North Korea’s nuclear policy is simple: it uses a small modified Russian RBMK (the kind of reactor at Chernobyl – graphite moderated, light water cooled) as a plutonium-239 weapons breeder. Most of its electricity comes from burning dirty brown coal imported from China. That electricity in turn is used in large measure for the military. It has no peaceful nuclear energy program. Its atheist communist leadership would rather the citizens starve to death in the cold and dark than to be prosperous like the south.

    Atheists and communists can never be trusted with the power of the atom, nor can their close cousins: liberals, progressives and feminists.

Shut Up, They Explained

Friday, October 28, AD 2016

 

Kimberly Strassel for Prager University reveals the ongoing attempt by the left in this country to shut people up.  If Trump wins the election, and the polls are off, the left can thank their own brownshirt tactics in convincing many Americans that here, in the land of the free and the home of the brave, keeping one’s mouth shut is the better part of valor if one’s sentiments are not politically correct.  I blog under my own name.  Partially that is because it is part of my nature to stand up for what I believe in, but partially it is because I have been self-employed for thirty-one years.  In today’s climate, if I were not self-employed, I doubt if I would be blogging under my own name, if I were blogging at all.  My ancestor, Major Andrew McClary, did not die on Breed’s Hill in 1775 so that generations later Americans would live in fear of expressing their heart-felt sentiments.  We can do far better than this, and we owe it to our honored war dead to do so.

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19 Responses to Shut Up, They Explained

  • I use my own name here and on Facebook because I am an ornery soul. Intimidation tactics irritate me. (It is a prideful impulse that I work hard to contain.)

    Quite often, folks are surprised that I keep so much of my Facebook posts public. Really, the only ones I make private are ones that would identify my residence and the ones that include personal pictures. On occasion, I am looking for confined input that excludes interlopers but that is rare.

    I understand the impulse to hide what we think. We live in a world of ready access and that means ever increasing means for hurting others. There are seriously vindictive and mean people out there and they really don’t recognize that causing someone to lose their job over an internet post is both wrong and bad for society as a whole.

    I may regret my openness someday but I have such a viscerally negative reaction to being shouted down, silenced, cowed, that I can’t bring myself to do otherwise.

  • I have noted Dave that courage is infectious. Bravo for your stand.

  • For maximum irony… youtube tried to censor pragerU (or rather, I think people tried to use youtube’s system to censor them)

    But more than 15 videos are “restricted” on YouTube, a development PragerU announced this month. This means the clips don’t show up for those who have turned on filtering—say, a parent shielding their children from explicit videos. A YouTube spokesperson told us that the setting is optional and “based on algorithms that look at a number of factors, including community flagging on videos.” Yet it’s easy to imagine a flood of users reporting a political video—microagressed college students have a lot of free time—and limiting a viewpoint’s audience.

  • God Bless you both, David and Mac.
    .
    This is the essence of totalitarianism. – only thing they are not disappearing/murdering the opposition, YET.
    .
    Orwell wrote an essay on the passing of Gandhi. In it he explained that Gandhi could not have succeeded against a regime (Stalin, Hitler, Hillary come to mind) where there was no freedom of assembly (and just as importantly association – fake Catholic groups subverting the Church) and no free press (the lying media is the statists’ ministry of truth – censors and vilifies opposition views). As such, the opposition can’t get out the “word” and has no chance to kick-start a mass movement. Also, feverishly working for totalitarianism are the ideologues that totally control public education and universities – 24/7 brainwashing young minds – a low to moderate IQ mind is a terrible thing to waste.
    .
    Don’t forget, 19 November 2016 is National Ammunition Day – buy a hundred rounds of your favorite caliber.

  • Your making your honorable ancestors very proud Mr.McClarey..very proud.
    It’s Patriots like you and your love for freedom and neighbor, that is providing decency in a culture bent on immortality and deceitfulness.

    Keep these finely tuned posts going.
    Please.

  • “Your making your honorable ancestors very proud Mr.McClarey..very proud.”

    Thank you Philip. To quote Tolkien, I am a lesser son of great sires, but I do what I can.

  • Oops…. immorality. However immortality is found in only two locales. Some in this day and age prefer the smoking section.. forever.
    Thanks for blowing the smoke away.
    The air is so much cleaner and the endless singing and praising of God is so worth this struggle in this valley.

    btw. Thanks for not putting me on “moderation,” due in part to my numerous grammatical errors. 🙂

  • Before I employed a pseudonym, the Red Guard (they are both in the Catholic Church and out) would regularly find out about me and contact my employer about my views and asking the CEO if they wanted to risk employing such a dangerous person. “DId they know the public relations impact it would have?”
    ..
    I finally was mysteriously let go from one position, because employing a person with such views on social networks are, well, “problematic and a distraction to our mission”.
    ..
    It would be wonderful to be completely autonomous and independent, but I have to think about Mrs. Phoenix and my brother who is my dependent, and “be smart”. Yes, one must “shut up” as they explain.

  • Thanks Donald for all you do to make the truth visible and understandable to all of us.

    I wonder, have you lost any clients because of your courageous actions?

  • No, not to my knowledge. I don’t discuss politics with clients unless they bring the subject up. I did have a deranged old woman call my office several years ago yelling how TAC was funded by Vatican gold. (I wish.).

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2012/08/24/don-theres-a-nut-on-the-phone/

  • Vatican Gold?

    Oh…. I remember now.
    Vatican Gold! aka..holy smoke.
    Boy. That was in the seventies man.
    Good stuff. ?

  • Steve, I use a pseudonym b/c my surname is rare. I’m easily found and I hate dragging off bodies from the front lawn. Plus, the village PD wouldn’t understand.
    .
    More importantly, the warden ordered me to use the alias.
    ,
    I’d prefer Vatican ammo. And, it appears that they’re giving the gold to those on the other (in charity, I didn’t type “wrong”) side of Church teachings.

  • If Hillary is elected, forget the 19th…, shop when the stores open on the 9th. Barry will remember how ammo and gun sales soared after each of his elections and he may be emboldened to curtail supplies by executive order. In fact executive orders may be released fast and furious, since Madame President being of the same philosophy won’t rescind them.
    I have friends who as children escaped from Communist Hungary and Cuba. Their failed and successful escape stories are to be remembered. Life before and after the Revolutions. One friend’s mother is still living. Her mind is still sharp. She tell us about her freedom fighting husband and of the Castros’ “transition” of Cuba and how slippery the slope is becoming in this country.

  • TAC is the best! A variety of thought provoking and thoughtful posts. Some posts are just plain humorous , entertaining or prayerful. TAC attracts commentators from all over the world and from all walks of life. The comments are from so many angles of thought that they are never dull.
    Donald R. McClarey, obviously you are man of superior intelligence and talents. Thank you for taking your time in creating and maintaining this blog. In a time of strife world wide, in the Church and our USA, The-American-Catholic is much needed.

  • OCT 30 MY INCURSION INTO COMMUNISM.
    “The person has no value except that he is a member of the Communist Party” Karl Marx.
    The sovereign person is endowed with innate and unalienable human rights that define the person’s civil rights. The person is irreplaceable. The person is self-determined.
    “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,….”
    Amendment IX: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage other retained by the people. …THE UNANIMOUS DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE and THE CONSTITUTION.
    Original thinkers glory in the reality of man’s existence as a sovereign person made in the image and likeness of God; in the image and likeness of “their Creator”.
    Pay your taxes. Shut up or you will be sorry for a very long time. What has changed freedom to communism?

  • Timmo Kaine makes the argument crystal clear why one can’t vote Democrat. Tim Kaine: “The Catholic Church Will Change Its Same-Sex Marriage Stance Or It Will be Banned From The U.S.”

  • He, Kaine, is in line with das Führer.
    “Religions must change……”

  • CAM: Right. I’m on a continual ammo buying spree. Already have a boat load of .223 FMJ., 30 cal., 12 ga 00 buck. Also, amassed some extra hootch. The Clinton gang will tax alcohol and tobacco to the skies to pay for rationed health care. And, when the entire corrupt house of cards crashes, it will be barter material.
    .
    Also to your point, a fellow I worked with (RIP – 1992) escaped Cuba soon after Castro seized everything. His history was harrowing and awe-inspiring. Not a few of those who helped him get out risked their lives. His family owned a small coffee wholesale firm one day, the next day the Castro gang owned it. We all know how that has worked out.

  • The person has the freedom “to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Our First Amendment. “Shut up and pay your taxes” is taxation without representation.

5 Responses to The Speech Every High School Principal Should Give

Our Will Be Done

Wednesday, October 28, AD 2015

 

Quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat

 

 

My favorite living historian Victor Davis Hanson has a brilliant post on the rot that infects the West:

 

Sanctuary cities illustrate how progressive doctrine can by itself nullify the rule of law. In the new West, breaking statutes is backed or ignored by the state if it is branded with race, class, or gender advocacy. By that I mean that if a solitary U.S. citizen seeks to leave and then reenter America without a passport, he will likely be either arrested or turned back, whereas if an illegal alien manages to cross our border, he is unlikely to be sent back as long as he has claims on victimhood of the type that are sanctioned by the Western liberal state. Do we really enjoy free speech in the West any more? If you think we do, try to use vocabulary that is precise and not pejorative, but does not serve the current engine of social advocacy — terms such as “Islamic terrorist,” “illegal alien,” or “transvestite.” I doubt that a writer for a major newspaper or a politician could use those terms, which were common currency just four or five years ago, without incurring, privately or publicly, the sort of censure that we might associate with the thought police of the former Soviet Union.

It is becoming almost impossible in the West to navigate the contours of totalitarian mind control. Satirists can create cartoons mocking Christ, but not Mohammed. If a teen brings a suspicious-looking device of wires and gadgetry to school, he will be suspended — unless he can advance by his religious or ethnic background some claim on victimization.

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6 Responses to Our Will Be Done

  • “Might makes right” sums up the left. Obama, and this pope, are perfect exemplars. There is no objective standard to their moral code. It is just their ability to enforce their beliefs that makes them “right”.

  • “Quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat“
    .
    “Whom God wishes to destroy, He first makes insane.”
    .
    Destruction is imminent for insanity is overwhelming.

  • The alt-right (with uncharacteristic precision and creativity) have coined a term for what he describes: “anarcho-tyranny”.

  • Like a stopped clock, Al Gore recently got right one thing. People are more stupid, see presidential election results 2008 ands 2012. He blamed global warming. I blame public schools and the post-modern academy that traded the truth for the asinine, liberal narrative. For them, truth is that which advances the agenda.
    .
    They start with the premise, say, income inequality was a major aspect of the Roman Republic, and “prove” it by agitated appeals to emotion (not fact or logic), calumnies, distortions, exaggerations, fabrications, false equivalences, fantasies, misdirections, non sequiturs, omissions (ignore it), projections of 21st century amorality, repetitions, spins, unsupported conclusions.

  • Probably not the best example since income inequality was a major aspect of the Roman Republic. Social and economic inequality is the rule and not the exception for almost all of human history.

    But yes, foot-stomping is the preferred method of argument amongst liberals.

The Civil War and Slavery

Wednesday, August 19, AD 2015

We’re not fighting for slaves.

Most of us never owned slaves and never expect to,

It takes money to buy a slave and we’re most of us poor,

But we won’t lie down and let the North walk over us

About slaves or anything else.

                              We don’t know how it started

But they’ve invaded us now and we’re bound to fight

Till every last damn Yankee goes home and quits.

Stephen Vincent Benet, John Brown’s Body

 

I certainly agree with video above from Prager University that the Civil War was started over slavery.  As Jefferson Davis stated in his initial address to the Confederate Congress:

 

In the meantime, under the mild and genial climate of the Southern States and the increasing care and attention for the wellbeing and comfort of the laboring class, dictated alike by interest and humanity, the African slaves had augmented in number from about 600,000, at the date of the adoption of the constitutional compact, to upward of 4,000,000. In moral and social condition they had been elevated from brutal savages into docile, intelligent, and civilized agricultural laborers, and supplied not only with bodily comforts but with careful religious instruction. Under the supervision of a superior race their labor had been so directed as not only to allow a gradual and marked amelioration of their own condition, but to convert hundreds of thousands of square miles of the wilderness into cultivated lands covered with a prosperous people; towns and cities had sprung into existence, and had rapidly increased in wealth and population under the social system of the South; the white population of the Southern slaveholding States had augmented from about 1,250,000 at the date of the adoption of the Constitution to more than 8,500,000 in 1860; and the productions of the South in cotton, rice, sugar, and tobacco, for the full development and continuance of which the labor of African slaves was and is indispensable, had swollen to an amount which formed nearly three-fourths of the exports of the whole United States and had become absolutely necessary to the wants of civilized man. With interests of such overwhelming magnitude imperiled, the people of the Southern States were driven by the conduct of the North to the adoption of some course of action to avert the danger with which they were openly menaced. With this view the legislatures of the several States invited the people to select delegates to conventions to be held for the purpose of determining for themselves what measures were best adapted to meet so alarming a crisis in their history. Here it may be proper to observe that from a period as early as 1798 there had existed in all of the States of the Union a party almost uninterruptedly in the majority based upon the creed that each State was, in the last resort, the sole judge as well of its wrongs as of the mode and measure of redress. Indeed, it is obvious that under the law of nations this principle is an axiom as applied to the relations of independent sovereign States, such as those which had united themselves under the constitutional compact. The Democratic party of the United States repeated, in its successful canvass in 1856, the declaration made in numerous previous political contests, that it would “faithfully abide by and uphold the principles laid down in the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions of 1798, and in the report of Mr. Madison to the Virginia Legislature in 1799; and that it adopts those principles as constituting one of the main foundations of its political creed.” The principles thus emphatically announced embrace that to which I have already adverted – the right of each State to judge of and redress the wrongs of which it complains. These principles were maintained by overwhelming majorities of the people of all the States of the Union at different elections, especially in the elections of Mr. Jefferson in 1805, Mr. Madison in 1809, and Mr. Pierce in 1852. In the exercise of a right so ancient, so well established, and so necessary for self-preservation, the people of the Confederate States, in their conventions, determined that the wrongs which they had suffered and the evils with which they were menaced required that they should revoke the delegation of powers to the Federal Government which they had ratified in their several conventions. They consequently passed ordinances resuming all their rights as sovereign and Independent States and dissolved their connection with the other States of the Union.

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39 Responses to The Civil War and Slavery

  • Here is how I responded to this last week on Facebook:
    ***
    “Note to historians:

    “Dualistic interpretations and explanations that are utterly lacking in nuance; engaging in demonization; arrogant displays of cultural and/or regional superiority; inattention to (or completely glossing over) those details that detract from the particular “narrative” you seek to create; and, in general, triumphalist, oversimplified, chest-thumping bravado, constitute utter rubbish as history.
    ***
    “And I don’t care what your credentials are, what rank you hold, how proud you are of the uniform you wear, or which institution of higher learning you work for. If you do the above, you’re crap as a historian.”

  • I followed up with this:
    ***
    “I hope that I’m an honest enough student of history that I can acknowledge the fact that differences over slavery and over the South’s economic reliance thereon and Northern reactions thereto were at the root cause of the division between North and South. With that in mind, I utterly reject neo-Confederate interpretations that seek to diminish the primary role slavery played in leading up to the War.
    ***
    “But I also utterly reject the sort of “Nyah, nyah, you suck!” chest-thumping jingoism that seeks to downplay all other considerations that went into the decisions of 11 states to secede. Did Virginia secede over slavery, after having initially voted down secession in convention? Or did Virginia secede over Lincoln’s decision to call up troops from Virginia to invade their fellow Southern states? Did Robert E. Lee resign his commission in the U.S. Army — a decision over which he seems to have agonized — over slavery?
    ***
    “Any “historian” who glosses over the differences between why, for example, South Carolina seceded a mere 4 months after Lincoln’s election and why Virginia ultimately voted to secede, and goes straight for “ALL Southerners who supported secession and/or who fought for the South did so with the sole intention to keep black people in bondage” is not being an honest broker. Col. Ty Seidule is NOT an honest broker. He is a political HACK.
    ***
    “My objection to Col. Seidule is primarily to the tone of his presentation, to what he has left unsaid, and to his appearance of having a simplistic, dualistic ulterior agenda beyond presenting historical facts.
    ***
    “As noted above, I don’t seek to downplay our Nation’s sordid history regarding chattel slavery. I hope that this comes through in many of my posts about the American Revolution — I’ve noted on at least two occasions the irony of American patriots producing prose about freedom from bondage and all men being created equal, yet punting on the issue of slavery for future generations to have to deal with, all the while their supposed British oppressors were actually proclaiming freedom for slaves. I’ve said many times before: history is rarely as cut-and-dried as some try to make it. You will very rarely find simplistic answers to the questions history presents to us.”

  • Amen, Jay. While slavery was in some sense the proximate cause of the War of Northern Aggression, there are important facts that do not neatly line up with the current anti-Confederate hysteria.

    Virginia’s secession is exhibit #1. My state did not want to secede and, as the first among the southern states, had voted against secession… until Lincoln insisted on forcing states to raise armies and traverse states in order to invade South Carolina and other seceding states. It was then, and only then, that Virginia took the principled position that the Federal government has no constitutional authority to send armies into peaceful states, such as Virginia, and make those states party to an invasion of a sister state.

    As usual, history is more nuanced than the narrative of the victors. Certainly there were firebrands who wanted to secede over the issue of slavery. But there were Northern firebrands also, like John Brown, who hoped to provoke a war to end slavery, which would be an entirely lawless unconstitutional war, since like it or not, slavery was a practice guaranteed protection under the Constitution. And, contrary to Lincoln’s change of heart on the issue, no state, combination of states, or the Federal government, had (or have) a right to invade a state simply because they disapprove of a lawful practice of that state.

    But if the claim is “the Civil War was caused by slavery” I deny it as an incomplete statement: Virginia’s secession alone proves that for at least for Virginia, the direct “but for” cause of the war was Lincoln’s demand that a peaceful state provide troops for an invasion of a sister state, and allow that invasion force to traverse the sovereign territory of the state.

  • An excellent summation of how Virginia tried to avoid the extremes of Lincoln and the deep south states: http://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Virginia_Constitutional_Convention_of_1861

  • I wish I could have said that, Jay Anderson.

  • As a Southerner, I have friends who are descendants of slaves, and friends who are descendants of slaveowners. Is it prudent to uproot an entire society from top to bottom, in order to correct a grave injustice? I know that my friends have differing opinions on that question. Sometimes, it works, e.g. Germany and Japan post-World War II. Sometimes, it does not work, e.g. Iraq.

    I do not rejoice over the sufferings of others. Making an extrapolation from Southern history, it seems that Iraq may face 100 years of violence before she ever finds peace again.

  • “We’re not fighting for slaves.
    Most of us never owned slaves and never expect to,”
    The example of the British West Indies showed that slavery was of dubious economic value to the slave owner. The cost of sugar production showed a small but significant fall after abolition. Free labour could be hired when needed, paid piece-rate and laid off when not required and capital was not tied up in a wasting asset. A very significant part of the compensation was paid to bankers and others with interests in security in slaves.
    Walter Bagehot, usually a shrewd observer, believed that many in the South saw slavery as an essential police measure for the control of the black population, not primarily as an economic issue at all.

  • The whole “northern aggression” argument is, to put it mildly, bunk.
    Virginia’s argument and its modern-day advocates is basically that a government may not respond to a coup d’etat by sending in loyal troops.

    As for why so many non slaveholders fought for the south, they were tied to the slave economy just as much as slaveholders. Plantation owners ginned and marketed cotton for local farmers. Thousands of jobs depended on moving and housing slaves who were transported from one market to another. For a modern parallel just picture just image all the jobs that depend on long-haul truckers (motels, restaurants, services stations).

    The war was caused by the South’s Satanic pride — oops! I mean “honor”.
    Like today’s pro-choice and gay-marriage advocates they would not be satisfied until everyone admitted was slavery was a positive good and legal everywhere.

  • Victor Davis Hanson has documented how many Union soldiers who began Sherman’s march through Georgia with indifference to slavery were actively anti-slavery by the time they reached Savannah. They saw the reality of slavery in a way that no museum could recreate today and still expect their patrons to keep their meals. As Don McClarey has alluded, It is really hard to advocate for slavery’s place as a casus (and continuous) belle without facing the fact that people’s perceptions and motives changed during the course of the war, and not only for tactical political reasons.

  • No one here has taken issue (at least I haven’t) with the FACT that slavery was the cause of the war. I have taken issue with Col. Seidule’s slanted presentation of the facts (not to mention his glossing over and completely ignoring those facts that detract from narrative).
    ***
    But not to worry. The view of the “Satanic South” has apparently prevailed in our culture so that monuments of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson will be removed wherever they are located, and those once-honored men and the men who fought for them will no doubt be seen by posterity as little more than the American version of Nazis. And not even historical reenactments of battles will be safe from the ban hammer of the zeitgeist:
    ***
    http://www.thefederalistpapers.org/us/breaking-liberals-now-forcing-cancellations-of-civil-war-reenactments
    ***
    Rather than comparing the “Satanic South” to “today’s pro-choice and gay-marriage advocates” that will “not be satisfied until everyone” conforms to the “correct” view of things, you might want to look at those forces for “progress” for whom victory was not enough — those who seek to wipe out all historical vestiges that don’t conform to “the right side” of history.

  • I think the formal/material distinction works for the motivations of the participants in the Civil War.

    For some, slavery was the formal cause from the beginning–what they were expressly fighting against or for–Jeff Davis, radical Republicans.

    For many Unionists, it became their formal cause after the Emancipation Proclamation, though many Unionists would disavow that long after it was issued (e.g., George McClellan).

    For your average Johnny Reb who didn’t own slaves, I think he could quite credibly deny that he was deliberately fighting *for* slavery right to the very end. That wasn’t the formal reason he took up arms, and he was being honest about that.

    But for everyone, the war was materially about slavery, and what drove the conflict.

  • Dred Scott died in 1858, denied citizenship, sovereign personhood, and freedom. Using the Fifth Amendment, Scott became eminent domain, property of his owner, not to be taken away from his owner. Maybe the Civil War was not about slavery but about, defining the human being as a person, a battle still being waged in Roe v. Wade.

  • “All historical eras are equally near to God.” –Leopold von Ranke

  • “The war was caused by the South’s Satanic pride — oops! I mean “honor”.
    Like today’s pro-choice and gay-marriage advocates they would not be satisfied until everyone admitted was slavery was a positive good and legal everywhere.”

    OK, let’s not overstate the case. The *logic* of the slaveholder argument (and of the Dred Scott decision) led to a claim that slavery should be universal. Lincoln certainly argued that during and after the debates with Douglas. And, indeed, at least one popular pro-slavery extremist (George Fitzhugh) argued that all free laborers should be enslaved, regardless of color. That said, I don’t think most southerners, even the “fire eaters” ever argued that it should be universal across all states. Their essential argument was that it should be preserved where it was and that they be allowed to take slaves into certain of the territories. And that seemed to be the national consensus with the passage of the Compromise of 1850. Then Stephen A. Douglas and Roger Taney blew that consensus to bits with the Kansas-Nebraska Act and Dred Scott, respectively.

  • and Johnathan Swift argued that Irish babies (of which some people claimed that there were too many) must be eaten before two years old as after two years old the babies got tough.
    That all men are slaves for having to work for their bread by the sweat of their brow is true. That one person can own another person to deny them their freedom and sovereignty, or cannibalize them or buy and sell them as property. It is a miscarriage of Justice to define the human person as property…as all men are created equal…as “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” Did Taney read our founding principles?

  • Yes he did, and like Napoleon, the pig of Orwell’s fable, he thought some were more equal than others.

  • Last time I checked, Roger Taney was not a Confederate. Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky and Missouri were slave states, but they stayed in the Union. So please stop painting the South with a broad brush.

  • I do not know Taney’s state of residence . I do know Taney’s state of mind. Taney was politically correct… but he still had not read…that “all men are created equal and that “We, the people hold these truths to be self-evident truths. But not Taney. Did Taney not consider himself one of the people? Then Taney impeached himself…and everyone who held that the Negro, Dred Scott, was not a sovereign person also impeached themselves. North or South, anyone who did not hold these self-evident truths, that all men are created equal, were responsible for the Civil War. The Confederate states rejected The Declaration of Independence when it came to self-evident truths, and then used The Declaration of Independence to declare their independence. Wouldn’t you say?

  • Funny me, I actually believe in the rule of law and the vitality of the Constitution. That document grants express powers to the federal government. Nowhere in those express powers do I find that the federal government has the right to demand that states provide troops. Nowhere do I find the right for the federal government to send armies through a state, such as Virginia, without its consent, for whatever reason.

    And nowhere do I find the authority for the federal government to abolish by force of arms a practice entirely within the power of individual states.

    Sorry, but Virginia was perfectly within her rights to resist Lincoln’s unconstitutional attempt to compel her to provide troops and a venue by which the federal government would attack a sister state.

    Slavery was a moral evil, but was permitted under the constitution. Was abolishing it worth the discarding of the constitution and the establishment of a centralized federal government that would never again respect constitutional restraints and its limited role under the system of federalism devised by the founders? Perhaps the person who equated the south with pro-choice and gay marriage advocates could tell us, since those two evils have become federalized as a direct result of the passage of the 14th Amendment, a Reconstruction amendment forced on the country by the triumphant radical Republicans.

  • Lincoln had declared martial law under the Constitution, suspended habeas corpus and the press from denigrating him as president with martial law power. This is a good subject to familiarize oneself for when Obama declares martial law under constitutional powers, but not to save the Union but to impose one world government under the godless world bank.

  • Slavery was never permitted under the Constitution. The South had laws to execute any person who would teach a Negro how to read and write. The South denied the Negro the acknowledgement of personhood and citizenship. The Negro had no rights without personhood. See Frederick Douglass See Fort Sumpter. Once the southern states had joined the Union it was not their right to secede.

  • “Nowhere in those express powers do I find that the federal government has the right to demand that states provide troops. Nowhere do I find the right for the federal government to send armies through a state, such as Virginia, without its consent, for whatever reason.”

    Constitution: Article One, Section Eight:
    “Clause 15:

    To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

    Clause 16:

    To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;”

    Militia Act of 1807:

    Ҥ 332. Use of militia and armed forces to enforce Federal authority

    Whenever the President considers that unlawful obstructions, combinations, or assemblages, or rebellion against the authority of the United States, make it impracticable to enforce the laws of the United States in any State or Territory by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, he may call into Federal service such of the militia of any State, and use such of the armed forces, as he considers necessary to enforce those laws or to suppress the rebellion.”

  • “Was abolishing it worth the discarding of the constitution and the establishment of a centralized federal government that would never again respect constitutional restraints and its limited role under the system of federalism devised by the founders?”
    .
    Ben Franklin commented on the ratification of the Constitution, “You have a republic, if you can keep it.” The CW and the stuff committed likely were the beginning of the end of the republic. Today, we operate under the whimsical misrule (and ruination) of omnipotent men and women; corrupt and incompetent bureaucrats, elites, politicians; not laws.

  • “The CW and the stuff committed likely were the beginning of the end of the republic.”

    Rubbish on stilts. The Tories in the Revolution, many of whom had their property confiscated and went into exile at the end of the War, would have loved to have been treated as the erst-while Confederates were after the War. The Civil War has zip to do with the pathologies that currently beset the nation.

  • Rubbish on stilts.

    People do tend to confuse priority with causality.

    If you were serious about this, T. Shaw, you’d understand that the beginning of the end of the Republic occurred when wire-pullers intent on expanding the reach of the central government outrageously mis-interpreted ‘To establish Post Offices and post Roads;’ to mean the federal government could build post roads rather than merely designate post roads. William Voegli, take it away…

  • Slavery was a moral evil, but was permitted under the constitution. Was abolishing it [i.e. the Moral evil of slavery] worth the discarding of the constitution and the establishment of a centralized federal government that would never again respect constitutional restraints and its limited role under the system of federalism devised by the founders?

    Could this be the same Tom whos been haranguing us all this month about the immorality of The Bomb? Why, if I didn’t know better, I’d think you were just here to troll.

  • I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more thorough refutation of an argument than Don’s response to Tom above. I doff my cap, sir.

  • “Could this be the same Tom whos been haranguing us all this month about the immorality of The Bomb? Why, if I didn’t know better, I’d think you were just here to troll.”

    Without the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Tom might well be speaking Japanese.

  • Is there anyone in this forum who would be in favor of dropping a nuclear bomb on Atlanta or Vicksburg in order to shorten the Civil War?

  • If the Confederacy had killed twenty million civilians in the War, with a death toll of 300,000 each month? Sure. Since they didn’t, no.

  • Mico Razon: If the atomic bomb were dropped on Atlanta Georgia or Vicksberg, make no mistake, the blood guilt and the guilt would be all Jefferson Davis’ and any other individual who gloried in the enslavement of another human being and the denial of sovereign personhood to the other person. Start with Roger B. Taney.

  • “Dred Scott died in 1858, denied citizenship, sovereign personhood, and freedom.”

    Not quite — he died a free man, at least. At the time Scott filed his original suit for freedom in Missouri in 1846, he “belonged” to the widow of an Army doctor who had taken Scott to duty stations located in free states and territories (giving Scott a basis for claiming he was legally free). Several years later, while the case was still winding its way through the courts, the widow married a staunch abolitionist. She later “sold” Scott to a relative of his original owner, who was NOT favorably inclined toward slavery, and who clearly intended Scott’s suit for freedom to be a test case. This owner freed Scott, his wife and his daughters shortly after the Supreme Court decision; the only reason he didn’t do so sooner was to keep the court case alive.

    Today, one of Scott’s twice-great-grandchildren runs a foundation in St. Louis dedicated to preserving Scott’s memory and to promoting genuine, faith-based racial justice:

    http://www.thedredscottfoundation.org/dshf/

  • Fascinating Elaine. I was unaware of the Dred Scott Foundation.

  • Scotland had its equivalent of Dredd Scott – the case of Knight v Wedderburn, but with a very different result..

    A Scottish gentleman, Mr. John Wedderburn of Ballendean, who owned plantations in Jamaica, bought Mr Joseph Knight In 1762 from the commander of a vessel, in the African trade.

    In 1769, Wedderburn came over to Scotland, and brought Knight along with him, as a personal servant. Knight wished to learn a trade and Wedderburn paid for his apprenticeship with a barber in Dundee.

    Knight continued in Wedderburn’s service until 1774 and married Annie Thompson, a fellow-servant of Wedderburn. He had got her pregnant and Wedderburn dismissed her from his service, but allowed her to lie in at Ballendean, paid her doctor’s bills and for the funeral of the child, who died. She moved to Dundee and Knight continued the relationship. Thompson fell pregnant again and Knight married her. All this appears to have led to a falling out between Knight and Wedderburn.

    Knight decided to leave Wedderburn’s service. Wedderburn had him arrested and the local justices found “the petitioner entitled to Knight’s services, and that he must continue as before.”

    Knight saved up his pocket money and took proceedings to suspend the warrant before the Sheriff of Perthshire (the sheriff is a judge in Scotland). The Sheriff Depute, John Swinton, pronounced an interlocutor without proof, finding “the state of slavery is not recognized by the laws of this kingdom, and is inconsistent with the principles thereof; that the regulations of Jamaica, concerning slaves, do not extend to this kingdom;” and repelled the defender’s claim to a perpetual service. Mr. Wedderburn having reclaimed, the Sheriff found, “That perpetual service, without wages, is slavery; and therefore adhered.”

    Wedderburn took the case to the Court of Session, where Knight was represented by Mr. M’Laurin, afterwards Lord Dreghorn and Mr. Maconochie, afterwards the great Lord Meadowbank.

    Lord Kames declared that “we sit here to enforce right not to enforce wrong” and the court emphatically rejected Wedderburn’s appeal, ruling that “the dominion assumed over this Negro, under the law of Jamaica, being unjust, could not be supported in this country to any extent.”

  • Perhaps I should have added that, at the hearing in presence, Henry Dundas, the Lord Advocate and future 1st Viscount Melville, led for Knight.

    The Lord Ordinary took it to report, upon informations and these were drawn by M’Laurin and Maconochie. Being a question of general importance, the Court ordered a hearing in presence, and afterwards informations of new, upon which it was advised.

    It is much to the credit of the Scottish Bar that a litigant of such slender means was so ably represented by the leaders of the profession.

    Wedderburn was also reperesented by two future judges, Mr. Ferguson, afterwards Lord Pitfour, and Mr. Cullen, afterwards Lord Cullen

  • Thanks for posting this Michael! It is rather sobering to compare the history of slavery in other English-speaking and European nations with the history of American slavery. I don’t believe any other nation had to resort to civil war to end slavery — IIRC, Brazil was the last Western Hemisphere nation to abolish slavery in 1888, but they did so by a system of gradual emancipation somewhat similar to those proposed in the U.S. prior to the Civil War.

  • Haiti did. The horrific violence involved may have had a role in hardening Southern resistance to ending slavery. I doubt if slavery would have been abolished so easily in Great Britain if slavery had been wide spread in Great Britain. The prime slave holding regions of the British Empire were far from Great Britain and lacked the political clout of the American South, or the ability and willingness to rebel.

    In regard to slavery, a good case can be that in much of the contemporary Arab world it goes on under other names. Migrant workers held in debt slavery and treated abominably in many cases by their “employers”.

  • Elaine Krewer wrote, “IIRC, Brazil was the last Western Hemisphere nation to abolish slavery in 1888, but they did so by a system of gradual emancipation somewhat similar to those proposed in the U.S. prior to the Civil War.”

    Lord Melville, in Parliament and as a government minister, favoured a gradual abolition of the slave trade, as a prelude to emancipation. Of course, as an advocate, he would never allow his personal views to affect the way he represented his client’s interests.

    One of the judges in Knight v Wedderburn, was Lord Auchinleck, father of James Boswell, Johnson’s biographer. He delivered a trenchant opinion: “Although in the plantations they have laid hold of the poor blacks, and made slaves of them, yet I do not think that is agreeable to humanity, not to say to our Christian religion. Is a man a slave because he is black? No. He is our brother; and he is a man, although not of our colour; he is in a land of liberty, with his wife and child, let him remain there.”

    Don’t forget, most British plantation owners did not live on their plantations; a majority never even visited them. For them, it was an investment pure and simple; very different that to the American system.

    The serious opposition came from the ship-owning and underwriting interests; slave-owners were given handsome compensation, much of which went to the British banks that held the slaves in security. Slave traders, by contrast, got nothing. These was not a cause to excite general sympathy.

The Ten Commandments and Freedom

Thursday, June 11, AD 2015

And one of them, a doctor of the Law, putting him to the test, asked him, “Master, which is the great commandment in the Law?” Jesus said to him, “‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind.’ This is the greatest and the first commandment. And the second is like it, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 22:  35-40

 

Dennis Prager, the founder of the Prager University series of videos, notes that the structure of the Ten Commandments follows what Jesus taught:

I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

You shall have no other gods before me.

You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your manservant, or your maidservant, or your cattle, or the sojourner who is within your gates; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the LORD your God gives you.

You shall not kill.

You shall not commit adultery.

You shall not steal.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s.

The Ten Commandments begins with our duties to God and ends with our duties to our fellow men. 

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One Response to The Ten Commandments and Freedom

Social Justice=More Power to Caesar

Friday, December 5, AD 2014

 

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.

C.S. Lewis

 

 

A fascinating video from Prager University with Jonah Goldberg noting that liberals tend to use social justice as a catch phrase to pursue a new program by government.  In that context the phrase has little meaning with as little substance as saying “I support policy A and policy A is “good”.”

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43 Responses to Social Justice=More Power to Caesar

  • “those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
    .

    “those” use their conscience to deny us the use of our conscience in determining what and how we, the people, will express our “social Justice.” FREEDOM from conscience is freedom from civilization.

  • George Steele Gordon: “Intellectuals, especially in the social sciences, have a nasty habit of thinking that, ‘This is the way the world should be, therefore this is the way the world can be.’
    .

    “Sometimes the mind just boggles.
    .

    “The Atlantic has an article this month with the title “Americans Want to Live in a Much More Equal Country (They Just Don’t Realize It).” I am always curious when intellectuals announce that the people (who in the American constitutional system serve as the sovereign power) don’t know what’s good for them (What’s the Matter with Kansas?) or don’t even know what they want.
    .

    “Implicit in all of these revelations, of course, is the firmest, if never directly expressed, belief of the Left: That the average person is too stupid to run his own life, let alone make public policy decisions. Those few, those happy few, that band of liberal intellectuals, must do that for them.”
    .

  • As the wag once wagged, “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity; pick two.”

  • Of course, that doesn’t really work, because you can have liberty and brotherhood, or you can have equality and brotherhood. but you can’t have liberty and equality without subordinating one to the other.

  • Arrogating to oneself another person’s free will is a very serious crime against humanity, trespassing the personhood, violating the sovereignty of the victim.

  • Ernst Schreiber:”Of course, that doesn’t really work, because you can have liberty and brotherhood, or you can have equality and brotherhood. but you can’t have liberty and equality without subordinating one to the other.”

    .
    Mutual respect, each one for the other, can and does make it work. A person does not have to love his neighbor in politics as in religion. And sometimes love does not encompass “like”, but one must absolutely respect himself and his neighbor. Respect gives us liberty and equal Justice. There is no such thing as equality since men are all created differently by “their Creator”. For example: Same -sex practitioners are seeking marriage equality in a court of law. The court of law may only deliver equal Justice, never equality, because equality is something the court does not have the power nor authority to deliver. Equal Justice is giving to each individual what he truly deserves: murder to the murderer, hatred to the hater, love to the lover, acknowledgment of God to God, ad infinitum.

  • Didn’t you post this video before, Don? No big deal if you did (it is a good one) but I just get the strangest feeling of deja vu…

    Ah there we go, back in march.

  • Ah, a sure sign that I have been working too hard in the law mines. I had completely forgotten about that earlier post!

  • Speaking of law mines, Don do you work with patents or can recommend a honest lawyer who does?

  • The thing is there are certain social doctrines of the Church that Catholics must adhere to. For example, healthcare is a right according to the catechism and papal magisterium. It would be nice if the Church would elucidate exactly what we have to believe in these areas so as to separate the wheat from the chaff. Probably too much to hope for a modern day syllabus of economic errors.

  • “For example, healthcare is a right according to the catechism and papal magisterium.”

    There is never a right to a material thing Tom, because such a right is unenforceable. The Church can say that people should make certain that the poor do not go without healthcare, but a right implies enforcement of the right, or it wouldn’t be a right, and the power to compel other people to supply the healthcare for those who lack it. Such powers are beyond the capabilities of the Church, and today we see the welfare states who have sought to do this heading towards insolvency.

  • Only if the case is in Central Illinois would I be able to recommend an attorney. Send me a private e-mail and I will see what I can do.

  • I’m not sure how that works Donald in light of Church teaching. Pope Benedict taught in CARITAS IN VERITATE that there is both a right to food and a right to water. Aren’t those material things and essentially the same as the right to healthcare?

  • Yep and just as unenforceable. Popes can say whatever they please, but they lack the power to grant enforceable rights, and if a right is not enforceable it isn’t a right. The bitter truth of course is that none of us have a right to any material thing. Everything we get in a material way is earned by sweat, either ours or someone else. If we pay for what we get the sweat is voluntary. If the government compels A to give a good to B, the sweat is involuntary. There are many words for that type of situation, but right is not one of them.

  • What you say makes sense but then we have the clear teaching of the Popes. I would have hoped that Pope Benedict, a brilliant mind, would have considered your points about unenforceable rights. I guess I’m back to my original statement. We need clear teaching in these matters with points like yours considered/debated and then ultimately excommunications for those who refuse to adhere.

  • “those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

    Which also explains how harassing Christmas shoppers, badgering school children attempting to sing Christmas carols, blocking commuters from getting to/from work, etc. can all be excused in the name of “justice”… because if Eric Garner, Mike Brown, et al., can’t enjoy Christmas, no one should!

    There is another passage from Lewis’ Screwtape Letters where Lewis, in the persona of the demon Screwtape, explains how a person can be trained to direct their feelings of charity or benevolence to objects that are, for all practical purposes, imaginary, while at the same time treating the real people they see every day with contempt and malice. What some of these “shut it down” protesters are doing is a perfect example: in the name of charity and justice for dead men whom they never met, and about whom they know nothing other than what has been filtered to them though select media sources, they inflict inconvienience (at best) or outright cruelty (at worst) on living people standing right in front of them.

  • “Pope Benedict taught in CARITAS IN VERITATE that there is both a right to food and a right to water.”

    There are a couple of different ways such a statement can be interpreted. The most logical and defensible interpretation IMO is that it is wrong to needlessly or deliberately interfere with the right of others to obtain food, water, healthcare, etc. via legitimate means. It does not, IMO, necessarily mean that these goods must be actively provided to everyone at government expense regardless of the cost to others.

  • The “rights” fallacy was famously exposed by Rousseau.
    “Each man alienates, I admit, by the social compact, only such part of his powers, goods and liberty as it is important for the community to control; but it must also be granted that the Sovereign [the People] is sole judge of what is important,” for “ if the individuals retained certain rights, as there would be no common superior to decide between them and the public, each, being on one point his own judge, would ask to be so on all; the state of nature would thus continue, and the association would necessarily become inoperative or tyrannical.”

    His conclusion is well known, “whoever refuses to obey the general will shall be compelled to do so by the whole body. This means nothing less than that he will be forced to be free; [« ce qui ne signifie autre chose sinon qu’on le forcera d’être libre »] for this is the condition which, by giving each citizen to his country, secures him against all personal dependence.”

  • “forced to be free”

    Ah, what great evil came from that brief oxymoron.

  • The state does not own the citizen to give the citizen to his own country. The state may acknowledge the free will of the person to choose and guard his free will choice. Man defines his own freedom. Being freed from an overcrowded lifeboat as in J.S. Mills’ philosophy by being thrown into the sea for the common good is not freedom being imposed. Rousseau must have been an atheist because Rousseau believes that the state rules supreme. Divine Providence rules supreme. That is why we have the Second Amendment.

  • I keep going to the various concordances and search engines, and they cannot find these words in any language in any part of divinely inspired Scripture: “Social Justice” or “Social Gospel.” Did the libdissents have a new Council and mess with the canon of Scripture?
    T.Shaw: Didn’t you implicitly nail the current Admn and their MIT shill re: how they put ObamaDontCare over on the stupid US public – “That the average person is too stupid to run his own life, let alone make public policy decisions’
    Don R. McC: So good, so well done-should be an OpEd in NYT and WSJ and National [not] catholic [not] Reporter[not.
    Nate-Let me know where you are and I will see if I know someone in the area -Guy McClung, Registered US Patent Attorney

  • “Social Justice” is simply another term for “socialism”. This malevolent system illustrates what secular elitist Jonathan Gruber et al seek to impose – a system of equal misery, equal envy and equal subordination of the “stupid” by godless humanists. No thanks!

  • I think that a Christian cannot fulfill her/his charitable duties by giving the government/state/Caesar more of other people’s money or more power.
    .

    Orwell wrote that politics are essentially coercion and deceit.

    Washington wrote/said that government is power and, like fire, when controlled is beneficial; but when uncontrolled/unlimited, like conflagration, is highly dangerous.
    .
    The practical matter and experience is that the geniuses who think they know it all generally don’t and everything they attempt is ruined. So, the solution is to limit their power and their potential to mess up everything, including welfare for the poor. E.G., 50 years of Great Society and trillions of coerced transfer payment, and the USA has more poor people than it had in 1964.

  • Mary De Voe wrote:
    .
    FREEDOM from conscience is freedom from civilization.
    .
    St. Paul wrote in Romans 6:16
    .
    Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?
    .
    Freedom from informed conscience is enslavement to sin whose penalty is death.

  • Donald McClarey wrote:
    .
    “The bitter truth of course is that none of us have a right to any material thing.”
    .
    Correct. What each and every one of us deserve is death for putting the nails in Jesus’ Hands and Feet, the Crown of Thorns on His Head, the stripes on His Back, and the hole in His Side. St. Paul says in Ephesians 2:1-3 – note what Sacred Scripture at the end of this quote says that we do deserve:
    .
    “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.”
    .
    It is God’s Mercy that we do NOT get what we deserve: God’s wrath.
    .
    It is God’s Grace that we get what we do NOT deserve: God’s love.
    .
    It is not that a poor person has a right to bread and water and the other sustenance of life. It is that we as Catholic Christians, citizens of the Kingdom of God, have a moral and sacred duty to do works of mercy for the poor out of our individual resources. Never ever is this a duty of Government. Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s. If we do not, then we sacrifice on the altar of political expediency our adoption as children of God, and can and should expect to be segregated with the goats at the Final Judgment.
    .
    As far as I am concerned: Mors Atheismo Democratiaeque. Vive Christe Rex!

  • Paul W Primavera: “Freedom from informed conscience is enslavement to sin whose penalty is death.” Very well said, Paul.

  • Greg, drop me a line to my gmail. “simplegarak” in front of the @.

  • Don and TomM, may I jump in on your debate?

    Part of the problem is that there are many kinds of rights. We have a right to food, water, and air, but these are not civil rights, they are natural rights. As such there is no obligation under any proper constitution, written or unwritten, for government to provide them. In fact, it can be argued that to write such an obligation into a constitution is wrong, for reasons clear to anyone who critiques all but the mildest forms of socialism. The only purpose of government in the arena of natural rights is to not impede them (e.g., such as diverting food that would have fed 2-3 million starving people for alcohol for rocket fuel during peacetime, as Mao did during the Great Leap Forward; or requiring 20 year army enlistments without marriage, as the later Roman Republic did; or licensing the conception of children, as is currently done in China). A government that impedes a natural right is not legitimate.

    Human rights, such as education and healthcare, are not natural rights since we create them, but the same philosophy applies. Government may not impede them, say, by prohibiting private schools or homeschooling, or by establishing ‘death panels’ for medical review. In a few cases, such as education, it might make sense from a policy outcome viewpoint for government to intervene to ensure by a variety of mechanisms that some education is provided to all, but in no way is it obligated by any philosophy to do so.

    There are even limits to government’s role in the arena of civil rights, where government has an obligation as a provider. For example, we have a right to a free press and to keep and bear arms, but government is not obligated to purchase our word processors or weapons for us. The only place where civil rights affect human rights is on the issue of equal access, and even then we must look at such cases on their unique circumstances to see if we are not misapplying the civil rights regime (e.g., creating a right for equal access to higher education regardless of ability).

    TomM, does that help?

  • Guy, can you send me an email? I’m simplegarak at gmail. (dot com)

  • Whoops, sorry for the double post, didn’t see the first one appearing.

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  • Social justice is to have a proper job.
    Social justice is using what the community has given to you to prosper: an education and social stability.
    Social justice is not getting votes making believe that public money is for everyone. (there is never enough when everyone wants it).
    Social justice is to learn a trade or profession and not be a burden to your neighbors.
    Social justice is stopping being a parasite and help other membersof your community with less gifts than you. The opposite would be being a parasite.

  • TomD: “Part of the problem is that there are many kinds of rights. We have a right to food, water, and air, but these are not civil rights, they are natural rights. As such there is no obligation under any proper constitution, written or unwritten, for government to provide them. In fact, it can be argued that to write such an obligation into a constitution is wrong, for reasons clear to anyone who critiques all but the mildest forms of socialism. The only purpose of government in the arena of natural rights is to not impede them (e.g., such as diverting food that would have fed 2-3 million starving people for alcohol for rocket fuel during peacetime, as Mao did during the Great Leap Forward; or requiring 20 year army enlistments without marriage, as the later Roman Republic did; or licensing the conception of children, as is currently done in China). A government that impedes a natural right is not legitimate.”
    .
    Thank you TomD. This comment has helped me understand the Ninth Amendment, of having rights not inscribed in the Constitution.

  • T Shaw wrote, “Orwell wrote that politics are essentially coercion and deceit.”
    I think that Talleyrand, a consummate politician himself, was nearer the mark, when he said, “Governing has never been anything other than postponing by a thousand subterfuges the moment when the mob will hang you from the nearest lamp-post, and every act of government is nothing but a way of not losing control of the people.”

  • Mary de Voe wrote, “Rousseau must have been an atheist…”
    So far from being an atheist, Rousseau believed that atheists should be banished from society, “not for impiety, but as an anti-social being, incapable of truly loving the laws and justice, and of sacrificing, at need, his life to his duty.”
    He held society would fall apart, without a belief in “the existence of a mighty, intelligent and beneficent Divinity, possessed of foresight and providence, the life to come, the happiness of the just, the punishment of the wicked, the sanctity of the social contract and the laws.”
    Rousseau never abandoned the Calvinism of his native city, Geneva, and admired Calvin and Beza as statesmen, as much as theologians.

  • MP-S: I think your Talleyrand quote defines the “mindset” of many so-called liberals (I have known) who fear the mob and so pay (with other people’s money) the mob.
    .
    A republic (which once we “enjoyed” in the US) cannot exist where rival, hate-filled hordes (egged on by power-grabbing politicians) fear and loathe each other . . . [sigh] Ergo, the woefully deficient supply of ammuntion persists.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour:
    “T Shaw wrote, “Orwell wrote that politics are essentially coercion and deceit.”
    I think that Talleyrand, a consummate politician himself, was nearer the mark, when he said, “Governing has never been anything other than postponing by a thousand subterfuges the moment when the mob will hang you from the nearest lamp-post, and every act of government is nothing but a way of not losing control of the people.””
    .
    If the people are not filled with good will for the common good and general welfare, and mob rule is the wisdom of the constituency. it is better to adhere to what Hilaire Belloc loosely quoted said when ridiculed as a papist and rosary bead counter. Holding up his rosary for all to see, he said:”I pray these beads on my knees every night and pray that I do not have to represent you as my constituent.”

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour: “He (Rousseau) held society would fall apart, without a belief in “the existence of a mighty, intelligent and beneficent Divinity, possessed of foresight and providence, the life to come, the happiness of the just, the punishment of the wicked, the sanctity of the social contract and the laws.”
    .
    How strange then, that Rousseau would reject the remedy instituted by an all-loving God through Divine Providence, the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has been given to man to satisfy his immortal soul. Fulfilled souls make excellent citizens. The Catholic Church also separates the church from the state, which Rousseau seems to have confused here.

  • TomD: “Part of the problem is that there are many kinds of rights. We have a right to food, water, and air, but these are not civil rights, they are natural rights. As such there is no obligation under any proper constitution, written or unwritten, for government to provide them. In fact, it can be argued that to write such an obligation into a constitution is wrong, for reasons clear to anyone who critiques all but the mildest forms of socialism. The only purpose of government in the arena of natural rights is to not impede them (e.g., such as diverting food that would have fed 2-3 million starving people for alcohol for rocket fuel during peacetime, as Mao did during the Great Leap Forward; or requiring 20 year army enlistments without marriage, as the later Roman Republic did; or licensing the conception of children, as is currently done in China). A government that impedes a natural right is not legitimate.”
    .
    Thank you TomD. This comment has helped me understand the Ninth Amendment, of having rights not inscribed in the Constitution.
    .
    because it is through the individual citizen’s conscience can charity, humane treatment and largess be shared to the needy. It is not government’s duty to define charity for any citizen, although the government may deliver charity, acknowledging that all tax money belongs to the tax payer, even as it is administered by the administration. The tax payer has the final word in how his tax money is used.

  • JOHN C. WRIGHT at Instapundit: “Leftism is politicized envy.”

  • Hi, I’m new to this forum (I think), but anyway, you know, I was just reflecting about the whole thing about government/the intellectuals knowing what’s best for you etc. I know that line of thinking has gotten a hard knock in these blogs but in my country we’ve experienced the hardship that can be experienced when the majority or the masses are woefully ignorant and uneducated. We had a political party that governed our country for some 30 years, grew corrupt, and effectively raped the public Treasury of whatever funds were there. This continued until the people, rightfully so in my opinion, voted them out and installed a new government that stood for integrity and good governance. That new government inherited a Treasury that was almost run down to board through the thieving acts of prior corrupt politicians. They began the painful work of re-building the nation and keeping us out of the jaws of recession and economic meltdown. It required much sacrifice on the part of the population – salaries for example were slashed in the public sector in order to at least preserve jobs. In short, after about 4 years the country began to show signs of recovery and began to creep out of the pits of hell. By then election time had come around again and despite the best efforts by the incumbent government to explain to the populace that the sacrifices and pay cuts were necessary to restore the country to some level of recovery, the population would have none of it. All they knew was that this government had caused salary cuts and introduced VAT, etc and so they voted them out after one term in office – before they could fully effect the work of economic and social recovery – and re-voted in the old corrupt party who promptly began to undo all the good work done by the previous party. It was frustratingly sad for those of us who could appreciate the many tough decisions that had to be made by that government to get us back on track, but sorry to say, an illiterate populace threw us back into the dark ages…sigh…so that when T. Shaw, earlier shared that “Implicit in all of these revelations, of course, is the firmest, if never directly expressed, belief of the Left: That the average person is too stupid to run his own life, let alone make public policy decisions. Those few, those happy few, that band of liberal intellectuals, must do that for them.” Well, I dare to say that there is some truth in the saying that intellectuals must sometimes make decisions for non-intellectuals otherwise the world will collapse. A mother wisely makes the decision to give her young child some bitter cough medicine because in her wisdom she can see that the medicine will do well for the child even if the child with its limited understanding only deciphers that her mother is being cruel to her by giving her this awful tasting thing. Ok, well I haven’t hought through all the ramifications of this but I just wanted to share my country’s experience and indicate that sometimes those who are smarter need to make decisions for those who are less smart, not out of any sense of superiority or smug pride, but simply because the other doesn’t have the capacity to make that decision. It makes no sense asking the average plumber (no disrespect intended) to preside over national economic matters, because he is not so competent to act. My guess is that the solution is to try to upgrade the general intellect (and morality) of the masses so that they can make decisions that will augur to their and their generations benefit. Cheers!

  • Sean J. ” It makes no sense asking the average plumber (no disrespect intended) to preside over national economic matters, because he is not so competent to act. My guess is that the solution is to try to upgrade the general intellect (and morality) of the masses so that they can make decisions that will augur to their and their generations benefit. Cheers!”
    .
    Your guess is wrong, Sean J. Assuming that the general public is ignorant and needs to be augured to their and their generations benefit is outright garbage in and garbage out.
    If Joe the plumber is paying in his tax dollars for something he abhors, Joe knows it. Taxpayers are buying a product or rather being forced to buy a product that will not further their health and/or happiness. If Joe, the plumber makes a mistake out of ignorance, he has only himself to blame. If Joe, the plumber is forced against his free will and better judgement to accept anything that he abhors. it is tyranny. tyranny , tyranny. It is not, however, freedom.

  • Taxation without representation. That means that when a government hides behind closed doors to avoid telling its citizens what they will be spending our tax dollars on, the government is taxing the people without their informed consent, against their freedom. The government has become a regime of tyrants. oath breakers, constitutional betrayers and thieves.
    .
    For a government to make clandestine imperatives, whether it be Obamacare or amnesty, and use public money is a violation of the public trust.
    .
    When Bill Clinton was president, Hilarycare was put into place. Hilarycare sentenced doctors to two years in prison, federal prison, for any doctor who healed a patient without Hilarycare’s permission. Really criminalizing the act of healing as though Hilary were god. Never telling the doctors that this was going to make them inmates and ruin their careers. It is possible that Hilarycare was going to use the law to impose horrible fines and money penalties rather than real jail time, unless, of course, the doctor gave the court a hard time, but as Hilarycare was written, the doctors were going to federal prison for healing a sick person without Hilarycare’s permission.
    .
    The government does not have authentic authority to criminalize a morally and legally innocent act of humanitarianism. Nor does the government has the authority to make citizens’ taxes pay for this deliverance to hell.
    .
    Taxpaying doctors were the citizens who overturned such evil, when it came to their knowledge.
    .
    Now, we have Obamacare and amnesty. Taxation without representation, penalties without crimes sucking the life out of our nation while the government tells us that the people are to stupid to count their money.
    .
    Let us pray to God that “We, the people” are not to stupid to shake the monkey off our back.

Pope Francis Is Not Amused

Friday, November 14, AD 2014

A contribution to this equitable development will also be made both by international activity aimed at the integral human development of all the world’s peoples and by the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the State, as well as indispensable cooperation between the private sector and civil society.

Pope Francis to UN delegation, March 9, 2014

 

 

 

Prager University explains why our present system of taxation and fairness are not on speaking terms. My bride has described a possible sequel to this video:

SEQUEL (Suggested by Don’s wife Cathy):  Harry sells his house and moves out of the cul-de-sac, leaving Tom & Dick to fend for themselves (& argue with the much-less-“brotherly” new neighbor) in regard to any future neighborhood improvements — and the cul-de-sac is renamed “Detroit.”

 

 

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13 Responses to Pope Francis Is Not Amused

  • I’m beginning to question Pope Francis. First comes to mind, Does he call the celestial orb over which he presides, “Marxico”?

  • Lock in on the legitimate qualifier to “redistribution of economic benefits,” embrace the Reagan model, in which a rising tide lifts all boats, and declare victory over the social justice warriors.

  • T Shaw is correct – again.

  • Don’s wife hit the nail right on it’s head.

    We’ve got something similar down here in the south. It’s called “New Orleans”.

  • Harping on it constantly but if one reads “Jesuits” by Malachi Martin one may easily understand Pope Francis. It is Modernism, Relativism and Inculturation as propounded by radical Jesuits for many years. The Marxist tone of the Papal statement above to the UN assumes a socialized New World Order. Intellectually I think the pope is not exactly astute. Economically he is a provincial naif wedded to absurd Marxist philosophy from 150 years ago. No wonder Argentina and Vene zuela are economic basket cases. But they can always blame the US.

  • When you are a Jesuit, everything looks like a Reduction.

  • The Roman Pontiff, speaking to the United Nations, a pro-abortion and anti-Catholic body if there ever was one, was pleading for “the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the State…..”

    I wish I could have seen St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict in person. I would not cross the street to look at the current Roman Pontiff. I would travel to the next state to avoid him.

    I hope the Roman Pontiff, when he visits Poland on World Youth Day, extols the benefits of socialism. That I want to see.

  • Prager University is great.

    Send the Pope there for a couple of semesters…

  • Even if this was equitable it leaves out the corruption factor. When it comes to money corruption always follows. Even the Vatican ( Vatican Bank) is not immune to it. As a traditional Catholic, who goes to confession and receives the Blessed Sacrament at Mass, I wish, I wish the Church hierarchy would once point this out and shame (judge) the people who are breaking the 7th and 10th commandments by their corruption.

  • .
    Can we expect Pope Francis will soon begin appearing in Democrat commercials?

  • “A contribution to this equitable development will also be made both by international activity aimed at the integral human development of all the world’s peoples and by the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the State, as well as indispensable cooperation between the private sector and civil society.”
    .
    Does “indispensable cooperation” mean extorted? or how would Pope Francis go about getting such “indispensable cooperation” when Francis has crushed the hearts of truly charitable, conservative Catholics in the Friars and Sister of the Immaculate, and Cardinals Burke and Pell?

  • Yes, David Dunagan “…the corruption factor. When it comes to money corruption always follows. “

  • It is hard to stay “disinterested” in money. As a conservative I hope to keep money and it’s power in a healthy perspective. Liberals have the same problem…exalting money unable to not give too much attention to money- a claiming freedom from it but obsessed by it and it’s perceived power.

The Most Terrible Bomb That Ended The Most Terrible War

Friday, September 12, AD 2014

We have discovered the most terrible bomb in the history of the world. It may be the fire destruction prophesied in the Euphrates Valley Era, after Noah and his fabulous Ark.

Harry Truman, Diary entry-July 25, 1945

 

A bit late for the annual Saint Blog’s August Bomb Follies, but here is a new Prager University video by Father Wilson Miscamble defending Harry Truman’s decision to use the atomic bombs to bring World War II to a rapid conclusion.  I will repeat here what I wrote back on July 24, 2012 after Father Miscamble made an earlier video on the subject:

Getting the annual Saint Blogs August Bomb Follies off to an early start.  Father Wilson Miscamble, Professor of History at Notre Dame, and long a champion of the pro-life cause, defends the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the video above. The video is a summary of the conclusions reached by Father Miscamble in his recent book, The Most Controversial Decision.  Go here to read a review of the book by British military historian Andrew Roberts.  Go here to read a review of the book by Father Michael P. Orsi.  Go here to read a review by Michael Novak.

I echo the conclusions of Father Wilson Miscamble and appreciate his heroic efforts to clear up the bad history and inane American self-flagellation that has distorted a very straight-forward historical event.    I also appreciate his willingness to take the heat that his position has caused him.  Go here to read his response to a critique by Professor Christopher Tollefsen.  This portion of his response is something I have noted in regard to many critics of Truman, an unwillingness to address the consequences of not dropping the bombs:

It is when one turns to alternate courses of action that the abstract nature of Tollefsen’s criticisms becomes apparent. He criticizes Truman’s actions as immoral but offers no serious proposal regarding a viable alternative. Elizabeth Anscombe had naively suggested that Truman alter the terms of surrender, but such an approach only would have strengthened the hand of the Japanese militarists and confirmed their suicidal strategy. Tollefsen concedes that “it might well be true that greater suffering would have resulted from a refusal to use the atomic weapons in Japan,” but he backs away from any genuine discussion of what Truman should have done and of what that “greater suffering” might have involved. He provides no evidence that he has considered this matter at all. But should philosophers be able to avoid outlining what they would have done in the demanding circumstances that Truman confronted? I have always thought that moral reflection wrestles with the awful and painful realities. Tollefsen seems to want to stand above the fray, to pronounce Truman’s actions as deeply immoral and to leave it at that. It would have brought greater clarity to this discussion if he had confronted the alternatives seriously.

If Tollefsen were to engage the military issues involved in the war in the Pacific, I suspect he would be forced to raise further objections to the American military practices pursued well before the Enola Gay flew toward Hiroshima. Take as but one example the early 1945 Battle for Manila, in which approximately one hundred thousand Filipino civilians were killed. Some were killed by the Japanese, but many of this large number were killed by aggressive American air and artillery bombardments used, without particular regard for civilian casualties, as the American forces sought to dislodge an established enemy that refused to surrender. These harsh tactics could not meet Tollefsen’s criteria with regard to means. Given his unbending approach on moral absolutes, I assume he would condemn the action; but just what military means would he support in trying to defeat a foe that considered surrender the ultimate disgrace and who fought accordingly? Similarly, Tollefsen could hardly approve of the military force utilized in the taking of Okinawa and the high number of civilian casualties that resulted.

I suspect that Professor Tollefsen would be willing to say that it would be better to do absolutely nothing and to live with the consequences, if I may use that word, than to use morally questionable tactics. But the decision not to act undoubtedly would have incurred terrible consequences. Surely such inaction would carry some burden of responsibility for the prolongation of the killing of innocents throughout Asia, in the charnel house of the Japanese Empire. Is it really “moral” to stand aside, maintaining one’s supposed moral purity, while a vast slaughter is occurring at the rate of over two hundred thousand deaths a month? Isn’t there a terrible dilemma here, namely, which innocent lives to save? Would Tollefsen really have rested at peace with the long-term Japanese domination of Asia? Would that be a pro-life position?

Let me confess that I would prefer that my position had the clarity of Professor Tollefsen’s. It is a large concession to admit that Truman’s action was the “least evil.” Arguing that it was the least-harmful option open to him will hardly be persuasive to those who see everything in a sharp black-and-white focus. Yet this is how I see it. If someone can present to me a viable and more “moral way” to have defeated the Japanese and ended World War II, I will change my position. I suppose my position here has some resonance with my support for the policy of deterrence during the Cold War. I could recognize the moral flaws in the strategy but still I found it the best of the available options, and the alternatives were markedly worse. Interestingly, I think the author of Veritatis Splendor thought the same thing and he conveyed that view to the American bishops as they wrote their peace pastoral letter.

I trust that my pro-life credentials will not be questioned because I refuse to denounce Truman as a “mass-murderer.” Unlike Tollefsen, I do not think that my position initiates the unraveling of the entire pro-life garment. I believe Truman pursued the least-harmful course of action available to him to end a ghastly war, a course that resulted in the least loss of life.

Harry Truman knew that if he ordered the dropping of the bombs, a very large number of Japanese civilians would be killed.  He also knew that if he did not drop the bombs it was virtually certain that a far larger number of civilians, Allied, in territory occupied by Japan, as well as Japanese, would be killed, as a result of the war grinding on until the war ceased due to an invasion of  Japan, continued massive conventional bombing of Japan, or a continuation of the blockade which would result in mass famine in Japan.  He also knew that an invasion of Japan would have led to  massive, almost unthinkable, US military casualties, to add to the 416,000 US deaths and 670,000 US wounded that World War II had already cost.   The morality of Truman’s dropping of the bombs has been a subject of debate since 1945.  Comparatively little attention has been paid to the practical and moral consequences of Truman failing to act.  Father Miscamble is to be congratulated for examining this facet of Truman’s Dilemma.

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107 Responses to The Most Terrible Bomb That Ended The Most Terrible War

  • If it was their sons, husbands and fathers being murdered, yes, murdered by an unjust aggressor, they would joyfully applaud the end of the WWII by any and every means. Could we have afforded such “morality” in the face of the Bataan Death March, the slave camps of the Japanese, Iwo Jima and the numerous assaults on life, liberty and freedom? The least that they could do is admit that they were not there fighting for freedom, in harm’s way. laying their own life down. Hindsight is 20/20.
    .
    Ask them. Perhaps they would not approve of the invasion of Normandy on D Day.

  • The Japanese bear the guilt and bloodguilt for the civilian killed. Japan started a war of world domination and killed indiscriminately using the civilians as “shields”. Although the term “shields” was not used then, as it is now, that is exactly what the civilian population was for the Japanese.
    .
    The American soldier regretted and mourned the civilian death. The Japanese indulged in bloodlust.

  • I have looked at my comments and realized that our language no longer has the words needed to express the reality of WWII. America has become a nation of politically correct idiots.

  • I’m surprised to see a priest advocate for the grossly immoral principle that the ends (avoiding anticipated, guessed-at, and likely very inaccurate casualties figures) could justify the means (indiscriminate mass destruction of not just a military target but necessarilyvast civilian areas utterly unrelated to actual military activities).

    One doesn’t have to be a pacifist or a neo-Catholic social leftist to recognize that the utilitarian morality at play in the dropping of the bombs was evil, the capstone to a wicked notion of “total war” first enunciated in the 19th century.

    “Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation.” Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2314.

    “When, I wonder, did we in America ever get into this idea that freedom means having no boundaries and no limits? I think it began on the 6th of August 1945 at 8:15 am when we dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. … Somehow or other, from that day on in our American life, we say we want no limits and no boundaries.” –Fulton Sheen, that great tree-hugging leftist.

    “The cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are a message to all our contemporaries, inviting all the earth’s peoples to learn the lessons of history and to work for peace with ever greater determination. Indeed, they remind our contemporaries of all the crimes committed during the Second World War against civilian populations, crimes and acts of true genocide.” –Pope St. John Paul II (9/11/99 address)

    The vast majority (likely over 95%) of casualties of the bombs were civilian. The bombs were not really needed to destroy whatever military targets still existed in blockaded, devastated Japan (and targets that remained could have been, and all over Japan were, destroyed by far more accurate conventional bombing) but to send a message to Japan and compel an unconditional surrender.

    That is, these civilians were slaughtered not because there was such a vital military goal, but rather because the US wanted to terrorize Japan into quick unconditional surrender. The military “need” was a thin window dressing for the actual purpose of the bombs. Civilians were killed not because of military need but for political ends.

    Catholics who want to defend Truman in the apparent belief that when it comes to military matters the US can do no wrong, have to do incredible contortions of fact, history, and moral reasoning to escape the clear and unequivocal Catholic teaching that direct and indiscriminate mass killing of civilians is always and everywhere immoral.

  • Japan had erased the distinction between civilian and military in its population.

    The Japanese government did. I don’t know that it allows us to. ISIS erases the distinction between civilian and military with respect to the US – does the mean they are justified? The US erases distinction between terrorist and non-combatant in many of its drone attacks – does that mean it is right?

    It is not “Truman bashing” to observe he made a mistake. Just because it was a very difficult decision does not mean he can’t get it wrong.

    without the use of the bomb millions of more people would have died.

    This seems to be the linchpin argument. But how does this not amount to consequentialism or utilitariansm? The historical record also seems clear that the intent in bombing was specifically, among other things, to inflict sufficient casualties and destruction among the general populace (combatant or not) to force a surrender. The real question is whether or not it is licit to cause widespread casualties and destruction among noncombatants to achieve a perceived good. Answer that question, and Hiroshima/Nagasaki answer themselves.

  • “I’m surprised to see a priest advocate for the grossly immoral principle that the ends (avoiding anticipated, guessed-at, and likely very inaccurate casualties figures) could justify the means (indiscriminate mass destruction of not just a military target but necessarilyvast civilian areas utterly unrelated to actual military activities).”

    I am surprised by your surprise Tom since you commented quite vociferously when I posted this originally back in 2012. Of course you mischaracterize completely Miscamble’s argument and the historical record which was crystal clear that without the use of the bomb millions of more people would have died.

    “One doesn’t have to be a pacifist or a neo-Catholic social leftist to recognize that the utilitarian morality at play in the dropping of the bombs was evil, the capstone to a wicked notion of “total war” first enunciated in the 19th century.”

    Rubbish Tom. Ever heard of Genghis Khan? Total War is as old as the sacking of cities in Sumer. What was unusual about many conflicts in the 19th century was the restraint shown. Our own Civil War was a prime example of this.

    ““Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation.” Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2314.”

    Which would have come as a vast surprise to all the popes over the centuries whose armies besieged cities. Church teaching on war has taken a very utopian tone now that popes, since 1870, no longer wage war.

    ““When, I wonder, did we in America ever get into this idea that freedom means having no boundaries and no limits? I think it began on the 6th of August 1945 at 8:15 am when we dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. … Somehow or other, from that day on in our American life, we say we want no limits and no boundaries.” –Fulton Sheen, that great tree-hugging leftist.”

    Actually on foreign policy he often was. A prime example was his coming out against the Vietnam War in 1967.

    “The vast majority (likely over 95%) of casualties of the bombs were civilian.”

    False. Over 40,000 Japanese troops were stationed in Hiroshima and 9,000 in Nagasaki and every adult Japanese male between 15-60 was considered to be a member of the Volunteer Fighting Corps along with all unmarried females between 17-40. Japan had erased the distinction between civilian and military in its population.

    ““The cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are a message to all our contemporaries, inviting all the earth’s peoples to learn the lessons of history and to work for peace with ever greater determination. Indeed, they remind our contemporaries of all the crimes committed during the Second World War against civilian populations, crimes and acts of true genocide.” –Pope St. John Paul II (9/11/99 address)”

    John Paul II was close to being a pacifist by the end of his life. But of course if the Allies, often using methods he would condemn, had not won the war, it is quite likely he would never have survived it, as the Nazis planned to murder all Poles except for a handful they would keep as slaves.

    “That is, these civilians were slaughtered not because there was such a vital military goal, but rather because the US wanted to terrorize Japan into quick unconditional surrender. The military “need” was a thin window dressing for the actual purpose of the bombs. Civilians were killed not because of military need but for political ends.”

    Tom, read a bit of history. After Okinawa, no one in the American government wanted to see those type of casualties replicated on a giant scale in Japan. The idea that the Japanese were willing to surrender without the bomb is a fable.

    “Catholics who want to defend Truman in the apparent belief that when it comes to military matters the US can do no wrong, have to do incredible contortions of fact, history, and moral reasoning to escape the clear and unequivocal Catholic teaching that direct and indiscriminate mass killing of civilians is always and everywhere immoral.”

    A lot of projection going on there Tom. The Truman bashers usually believe that the US can do no good and show a shocking ignorance of the history surround the dropping of the bomb as you have just demonstrated.

  • Comparatively little attention has been paid to the practical and moral consequences of Truman failing to act.

    The problem is this misdirects the focus of the inquiry. Evaluating whether “[an] act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants” is licit in the first instance does not depend upon consequences, practical or ethical, of failing to act. In other words, if such act is intrinsically evil, no amount of practical or ethical alternative consequences can make it “un-intrinsically evil.” Before getting to these alternative issues, you first have to demonstrate the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not intrinsically evil without resorting to these alternatives to prove it.

  • I believe Truman pursued the least-harmful course of action available to him to end a ghastly war, a course that resulted in the least loss of life.

    But does that necessarily equate to the most ethical course? Turning the ISIS held territories into a glass parking lot might be the least harmful course of action in the sense of least loss of life (especially if ISIS has turned everyone within into an ISIS combatant, and killed or driven out most that are not). Is it the most ethical course?

  • “The Japanese government did. I don’t know that it allows us to.”
    As a practical matter it does. In a War if one side is not observing rules, the other side will not long term. One of the facets of the bomb decision is that Japan had established throughout the War that it observed no rules when it came to the way it conducted War. One side is simply not going to observe Marquis of Queensbury conduct in such an environment.

    “ISIS erases the distinction between civilian and military with respect to the US – does the mean they are justified?”

    No, but it certainly changes the extreme measures that must be taken to destroy them as opposed to an honorable foe who observes the rules of war.
    “The US erases distinction between terrorist and non-combatant in many of its drone attacks – does that mean it is right?”
    Once again, the conduct of one side cannot be looked at and judged without considering the conduct of the enemy being fought.

    “But how does this not amount to consequentialism or utilitariansm?”

    It is not consequentialism in war to take into account the number of civilian deaths that action, or non-action, may result in. Not to take such consequences into consideration reduces morality to a mere following of the rules of the game without consideration of the harm that will almost certainly result. These are not easy questions and the charge of consequentialism makes them no easier to resolve. We are responsible not only for what we do, but what we fail to do. In the situation of the dropping of the bomb Truman was going to be responsible for a large number of deaths no matter what he did.

    “It is not “Truman bashing” to observe he made a mistake.”

    The usual formulation is that he was guilty of a hellish sin.

    “The real question is whether or not it is licit to cause widespread casualties and destruction among noncombatants to achieve a perceived good.”

    A better question is what do you do in a situation where a larger number of innocents will die if you fail to take action that will kill a lesser number of innocents.

  • In the interest of transparency my father was in Okinanawa, having just gone through a brutal campaign under MacArthur, seeing civilians commit suicide out of fear (promoted by the Japanese govt) of the Americans. The next step in the war and for my father under MacArthur was the invasion of Japan. There are very good chances that if that had taken place I might not be typing this right now.

    Condemnations of President Truman are off the mark, to be honest. While he might have had some sense of what the Bomb could/would do, he had no previous knowledge of the program etc., no real time to evaluate the Bomb in any other category than how can we end this war as quickly as possible. Secondly, as we have discovered, even after the two Bombs elements within the military-industrial complex in Japan were pressing to carry on the war, and in fact if I am correct, almost caused a crisis in the government. Only the Emperor, who was not an innocent dupe in the whole build up of Japan to the war and in it , as often portrayed, finally said ‘enough is enough’.

    That being said, the question now is: is there any moral justification of nuclear arms in any war, battle etc. given the nature of the weapon etc based on Just War principles? On that there seems to be growing consensus that the Church is nuclear pacifist based precisely on her Just War principles.

  • “The problem is this misdirects the focus of the inquiry.”

    False. It illuminates an aspect of the problem not usually addressed: the moral culpability of doing nothing in the situation that confronted Truman. Critics, presumably, of Truman, if they had been in his place, would have been willing to see vast numbers of innocents die in order not to drop the atomic bomb. Does such a stance involve no responsibility, no moral culpability?

  • “Is it the most ethical course?”

    Such decisions can not be weighed in isolation. The ethics of not acting, or acting in another way, must also be placed on the moral scales.

  • Glad your Dad made it back alive Botolph. I had two uncles who fought in the Pacific who were convinced that without the Bomb they would have been buried in Japan.

    “That being said, the question now is: is there any moral justification of nuclear arms in any war, battle etc. given the nature of the weapon etc based on Just War principles? On that there seems to be growing consensus that the Church is nuclear pacifist based precisely on her Just War principles.”

    Except of course that the Church gave limited approval to nukes for deterence during the Cold War.

    http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/u.s._must_quickly_move_beyond_nuclear_deterrence_archbishop_obrien_urges/

    Church teaching in this area needs some careful examination to be understood.

  • What this issue boils down to is that if your moral reasoning results in a lot more dead people, including among the innocents that are allegedly your primary concern, you really have to reevaluate your moral reasoning.

    It is very easy to throw around accusations of consequentialism, but when all of your choices involve dead civilians, it is immoral not to choose the method that will result in the lowest death toll.

    An invasion of Japan would have made the earlier fighting in the Pacific look like pillow fights. Track down the film of Japanese civilians being trained to fight with bamboo spears, or learning how to roll under tanks wearing proto-suicide vests.

    As long as the Japanese military thought they could inflict serious casualties on the Americans, they believed they could defeat the invasion. Remember, the Japanese had defeated two invasions by the Mongols, the superpower of the medieval world, and they thought they could hurl another invader back into the sea. The bombs changed all that.

  • I think (dangerous) that mutually assured destruction kept “cold” the Cold War.

    And, it seems as if President Truman thought ending in a week WWII was a good idea at the time. I thank God I never had to make a decision such as that.

    My WWII Pacific navy veteran uncle (RIP) would offer to fight anybody that said they should not have bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He knew it saved lives, likely including his own.

  • My dad had flown dive bombers over Europe from April of 1944 into May of 1945, and in August was on a ship headed for Japan: so he was not unhappy about the bomb.

    Conventional scholarly wisdom now holds that Japan was ready to surrender anyway, especially after the Soviet declaration of war (which was a day or so after Hiroshima, as it happened, but was already scheduled). This meant there was no hope the Russians could negotiate a compromise settlement. The trouble is, the Japanese government gave no hint whatsoever that they had surrender in mind. Rather, they were promising the entire population would resist the invaders with bamboo spears. American casualties aside, the rational expectation was that the slaughter of civilians after D-day would make Okinawa seem like nothing.

    I find it a bit harder to,rationalize the Nagasaki bomb. But Truman had a horrible decision to make, and he acted as he thought best.

  • The negative precepts of the natural law are universally valid. They oblige each and every individual, always and in every circumstance. It is a matter of prohibitions which forbid a given action semper et pro semper, without exception, because the choice of this kind of behaviour is in no case compatible with the goodness of the will of the acting person, with his vocation to life with God and to communion with his neighbour. It is prohibited — to everyone and in every case — to violate these precepts. They oblige everyone, regardless of the cost, never to offend in anyone, beginning with oneself, the personal dignity common to all.

    But the negative moral precepts, those prohibiting certain concrete actions or kinds of behaviour as intrinsically evil, do not allow for any legitimate exception. They do not leave room, in any morally acceptable way, for the “creativity” of any contrary determination whatsoever. Once the moral species of an action prohibited by a universal rule is concretely recognized, the only morally good act is that of obeying the moral law and of refraining from the action which it forbids.

    Furthermore, what must be done in any given situation depends on the circumstances, not all of which can be foreseen; on the other hand there are kinds of behaviour which can never, in any situation, be a proper response — a response which is in conformity with the dignity of the person. Finally, it is always possible that man, as the result of coercion or other circumstances, can be hindered from doing certain good actions; but he can never be hindered from not doing certain actions, especially if he is prepared to die rather than to do evil.

    One must therefore reject the thesis, characteristic of teleological and proportionalist theories, which holds that it is impossible to qualify as morally evil according to its species — its “object” — the deliberate choice of certain kinds of behaviour or specific acts, apart from a consideration of the intention for which the choice is made or the totality of the foreseeable consequences of that act for all persons concerned.

  • Sadly, I am not an expert in history. Nor am I an expert in war. Nor do I like war. But in my youth I was a US Naval submarine reactor operator. As part of my submarine qualification I had to learn how to launch from the torpedo tubes in an emergency. We had nuclear weapons aboard. I even slept next to them in the torpedo room because berthing space was limited. If I had been ordered to launch (very unlikely given my rating), then with great fear and trepidation I would have done so.
    .
    By the way, for all those who hate nuclear weapons, do you support this?
    .
    http://www.usec.com/russian-contracts/megatons-megawatts
    .
    And just to make things perfectly clear, a nuclear reactor CANNOT undergo a nuclear explosion. Nuclear weapons require > 90% enrichment of Pu-239 or U-235 or U-233 in a specific geometry. Fuel for commercial reactors is < 5% of the fissile isotope and does not have the requisite geometry. Furthermore, while reactors fueled with U-235 do breed some small amount of Pu-239 from neutron capture by U-238, the Pu-239 is too mixed in with Pu-240 (non-fissile) to make a useful bomb. The North Koreans tried that and their bomb fizzled out – not a militarily useful weapon. Additionally, United States commercial used fuel is in zircalloy rods and contaminated with fission products, making it decidedly unusable for bombs. But it makes great fuel for Candu heavy water reactors, or liquid metal or molten salt fast neutron burner reactors. Want to get rid of all those long lived actinides and fissionable materials? Build a whole lot of these:
    .
    http://gehitachiprism.com/
    .
    Swords to plowshares! A little nukie never hurt anyone! 😀

  • War was not always organized around uniformed participants fighting around the edges of town of non-combatants. When did war become Not total war? Just curious.

  • Anzlyne is very perceptive. I do not know the answer to Anzlyne’s question. But perhaps war became not total war when with weapons like deuterium-tritium bombs we realized that we could destroy entire megalopolises in single blast. However, that realization dawned on civilized people in the US, the UK, France, the former Soviet Union and China. It restrains Pakistan, India, Israel and today’s Russia. It will not restrain Shiite Iran or the Islamic Jihadist terrorists should they gain nuclear weapons capability. Then war will be total and complete. 🙁

  • The atom bombings were immoral because they made no distinction between civilian and military targets. If there were a way to limit casualties to military targets, that would make bombing moral. Also, Japan is an island chain that does not produce its own oil. If Japan were blockaded, it would run out of oil and would have no way to stop an Allied invasion.

  • Mico Razon wrote, “If Japan were blockaded, it would run out of oil and would have no way to stop an Allied invasion.”

    Why would an invasion have been necessary at all? If Japanese forces were no longer occupying the territories it had invaded and its power to attack others had been neutralised, surely the only just object of the war would have been accomplished.

  • So given an argument that the atomic bombing of Japan did not meet just war criteria, I pointed out that a decision not to do one thing is a decision to do another. Would he please justify the decision not to use the bomb by the criteria of the the just war doctrine.

    The politest thing that could be said about the response is that he had never thought of the question.

  • Hank wrote, “I pointed out that a decision not to do one thing is a decision to do another”

    But that is to confuse the intended and the merely foreseen consequences of an action, as Miss Anscombe explained in her paper, “War and Murder.”

    “The distinction between the intended, and the merely foreseen, effects of a voluntary action is indeed absolutely essential to Christian ethics. For Christianity forbids a number of things as being bad in themselves. But if I am answerable for the foreseen consequences of an action or refusal, as much as for the action itself, then these prohibitions will break down. If someone innocent will die unless I do a wicked thing, then on this view I am his murderer in refusing: so all that is left to me is to weigh up evils. Here the theologian steps in with the principle of double effect and says: “No, you are no murderer, if the man’s death was neither your aim nor your chosen means, and if you had to act in the way that led to it or else do something absolutely forbidden.” Without understanding of this principle, anything can be–and is wont to be– justified, and the Christian teaching that in no circumstances may one commit murder, adultery, apostasy (to give a few examples) goes by the board. These absolute prohibitions of Christianity by no means exhaust its ethic; there is a large area where what is just is determined partly by a prudent weighing up of consequences. But the prohibitions are bedrock, and without them the Christian ethic goes to pieces. Hence the necessity of the notion of double effect.”

  • “If Japanese forces were no longer occupying the territories it had invaded and its power to attack others had been neutralised, surely the only just object of the war would have been accomplished.”

    Japan was occupying vast territories in 1945 and killing each month about 300,000 people on the Asian mainland. The cost in killed to remove them from those vast territories would have been immense. Additionally, even assuming, contra to everything that actually occurred, that Japan would have voluntarily relocated those troops back to Japan, without a fleet those troops would have had to been carried on US transports, the only way that Japan would have been neutralized would have been for the US to have stayed on a war footing and kept troops ready to attack Japan. Of course the ending of World War I demonstrated how well Germany was neutralized without invasion and occupation of all of its territories.

  • “If Japan were blockaded, it would run out of oil and would have no way to stop an Allied invasion.”

    We had a blockade of Japan. They had plenty of stored oil to resist an invasion. The blockade was also causing a famine that was likely to kill millions of Japanese in the fall and winter of 45-46. After the surrender MacArthur just narrowly avoided such a famine by threatening to resign unless huge shipments of food were sent from the US to feed the starving Japanese.

  • “The distinction between the intended, and the merely foreseen, effects of a voluntary action is indeed absolutely essential to Christian ethics.”

    Which tends to be a very academic distinction in waging modern war, something Ms. Anscombe knew little about. It was foreseeable with near certainty what the civilian death tolls would be if certain actions were followed by the Allies. We had seen in the liberation of Manila 100,000 civilians die in those military operations. In Okinawa, with Americans attempting to limit civilian casualties, far more civilians died than perished at Hiroshima. Under such conditions, foreseeability as a moral figleaf to hide behind is merely a way to avoid moral responsibility for not doing an action and allowing greater calamities to occur. Philosophers like Ms. Anscombe, responsible for no lives other than their own, can take moral comfort in such distinctions. Someone like Truman, having millions of lives depending upon his choice, does not have the luxury of doing nothing, having millions more die as a consequence, and then finding the words to explain to the relatives of the dead for the rest of his life how his course of action was really moral and correct.

  • The blame for civilian deaths belongs to the original aggressor. It belongs to Germany and to Japan. Nazi Germany had a program to develop an atomic bomb. Nazi Germany assisted Japan with Japan’s atomic bomb program.

    Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan caused, in all probability, more civilian deaths than in all wars before WWII.

    Blame them for starting the war. Blame them for waging war. Blame them for the deaths.

    They both started WWII because they were “aggrieved” at the conclusion of WWI.

    I am tired of revisionist historians who blame the USA for the atomic bombs. I never hear the screech about the Holodomor or the rape of Nanking or of Stalin’s concentration camps. Selective outrage is BS.

  • Which tends to be a very academic distinction in waging modern war, something Ms. Anscombe knew little about.

    Cannot say about Miss Anscombe, but I’ve noticed some of the people who remark on this subject have a mentality more appropriate to a board game than to either mundane or extraordinary decision-making. See this fellow here:

    http://www.crisismagazine.com/2014/down-the-slippery-slope-a-timeline-of-social-revolution

  • Penguins Fan: “The blame for civilian deaths belongs to the original aggressor. It belongs to Germany and to Japan.”

    .
    This is true and the foundation for understanding the war.

  • I find an eery parallel between the Pacific War with Japan during WWII and the present war since the 90’s with Islamicist-terrorists [Germany-Italy was actually a very different war given the Western and Judaeo-Christian cultures that remained in those countries despite National Socialism and Fascism] In both WWII Japan and the Islamicists (all of them-not just ISIS (ISIL)) we had/have:
    1) a non-rational mythologically based culture encountering “Western Civilization and the Modern Era” and seeing this as ‘the fight for their ‘spiritual’/cultural existence”
    2) therefore ready for ‘total war’ with ‘total cost’, seeing suicide as the ultimate heroic act

    With this in mind, I believe we are in for a major war, with major implications for the world. It eventually, no doubt, leave a good portion of the Middle East a spiritual-cultural void (look at Japan underneath its technologically jazzy veneer. Japan is demographically and culturally dying]

    How this war ultimately is conducted will have massive implications for the future of our own country and of the West

  • I find it interesting that Hiroshima and Nagasaki are included under “Eugenics” in the Crisis link. Is the author saying that it was racism against Japanese that led to the decision? Would the Bomb not have been dropped on Nazis?

  • I think there is one and only one legitimate argument for the bombings. If the civilian population could be considered to be actually military, then the bombings may have been, though not necessarily were, justified. I am not so comfortable as some here with declaring fisherman and clerks with bamboo spears to be truly military, but I do think that the argument can be made that killing them may have been moral. My position is that the bombings were wrong but understandable. Truman was neither a saint nor a monster in my estimation.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour wrote “Why would an invasion have been necessary at all? If Japanese forces were no longer occupying the territories it had invaded and its power to attack others had been neutralised, surely the only just object of the war would have been accomplished.”
    There are two answers to that question

    1) The original War Plan Orange did not foresee an invasion of Japan. It foresaw a determined blockade and bombardment of Japan to compel the country into a surrender that was not unconditional. Now, everyone who acknowledges the obvious immorality of the nuclear attacks needs to ask: how many civilian deaths from starvation, and in particular children, would have resulted from an actual 1945-47 blockade? The answer is hundreds of thousands if not millions. So, what is the higher morality of a blockade? The answer is: none. Anyone with a realistic view of war would realize that in the absence of real conciliation tactical alternatives often have no moral value over one another – all such choices do is move the innocent civilian deaths from one subpopulation to another. See http://www.amazon.com/War-Plan-Orange-Strategy-1897-1945-ebook/dp/B00BHOXR4E/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1410645939&sr=1-1&keywords=war+plan+orange for more info.

    2) The other issue has to do with the nature of surrender. If a nation has a leadership that causes a war, then the prevention of future wars requires the removal or discrediting of the leadership. For example, this did not happen after WW1 in Germany and so the stage was set for WW2. Whatever the outcome of the Pacific War, future peace required that the Japanese surrender be substantial enough to make real change in Japanese society. Except for the continued whitewashing of history in Japanese secondary schoolbooks this aim was accomplished. It is hard to say that a blockade would have accomplished this goal without some type of post-blockade occupation, and a blockade could not have made an occupation inevitable. One has to conclude that a of all options blockade posed the greatest risk of allowing Japanese militarism to survive and thus to fuel a future conflict.

  • Botolph, I agree with every single word you wrote. Every one.

  • Leaflets were dropped on the civilian population of Hiroshima and Nagasaki two weeks before the A-Bomb was dropped warning the inhabitants of the coming bomb.
    .
    Two weeks more than had Pearl Harbor.

  • TomD notes that “Now, everyone who acknowledges the obvious immorality of the nuclear attacks needs to ask: how many civilian deaths from starvation, and in particular children, would have resulted from an actual 1945-47 blockade?”

    The blockade would have been an entirely legitimate act of self-defence. Any deaths that resulted would have been caused by the obstinacy of the besieged and their government – Another application of the principle of Double Effect, for the deaths would have been foreseen, not intended.

    “If a nation has a leadership that causes a war, then the prevention of future wars requires the removal or discrediting of the leadership.” That could quite legitimately have been made one of the Allies’ war aims. The Second Treaty of Paris of 20 November 1815 that ended the Napoleonic Wars is an excellent example. There was no refusal by the Allies to negotiate with King Louis XVIII and his ministers, the king having resumed the throne on 8 July, following Napoléon’s second abdication on 22 June. France has never thereafter posed a threat to the peace of Europe.

  • “Any deaths that resulted would have been caused by the obstinacy of the besieged and their government – Another application of the principle of Double Effect, for the deaths would have been foreseen, not intended”

    It would seem that the principle of Double Effect needs a serious critique. If the obstinacy of the besieged government is what creates the double effect, then certainly the obstinacy of the Japanese government in its refusal to accept the Potsdam declaration in the face of obvious defeat introduced a double effect in the use of nuclear weapons.

    No, it would seem that what introduces double effect is the immediacy of the effect. The use of a nuclear weapon has immediate and obvious effects, the use of a naval blockade has effects that are not so immediate and obvious, but they are just as real. It takes a certain kind of mental ju-jitsu to impose a blockade knowing that the adversary’s obstinacy will lead to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of his civilians and still maintain that the deaths are “foreseen, not intended”.

    Go back and read Josephus’ account of the Roman siege of Jerusalem. The Romans actually allowed Passover pilgrims into the city because it would quicken the depletion of food stockpiles. Later, when the Jews began to throw the emaciated cadavers over the walls, Titus swore to the gods that it was not his fault and certainly not his intention. Well, yes it was, not to 100% of the responsibility perhaps, but responsibility cannot be avoided. A naval blockade further distances the cadavers physically, and so the double effect appears stronger, but the morality remains the same.

    It would seem that Double Effect is in large part a self-serving delusion. It’s only real basis is in the partial shifting of responsibility to the obstinacy of the opponent, and even then it fails if the opponent’s motive in refusing to surrender is fear of atrocity rather than pride.

  • Interesting post from the original article by Father Wilson Miscamble:

    “Take as but one example the early 1945 Battle for Manila, in which approximately one hundred thousand Filipino civilians were killed. Some were killed by the Japanese, but many of this large number were killed by aggressive American air and artillery bombardments used, without particular regard for civilian casualties, as the American forces sought to dislodge an established enemy that refused to surrender. These harsh tactics could not meet [Professor Christopher] Tollefsen’s criteria with regard to means. Given his unbending approach on moral absolutes, I assume he would condemn the action; but just what military means would he support in trying to defeat a foe that considered surrender the ultimate disgrace and who fought accordingly?”

    Very good question.

    During the siege of Intramuros Japanese Marines held over 100,000 Filipino civilians as human shields. Contra Fr Miscamble, Douglas McArthur was concerned that artillery would result in massive deaths of these people, so he ordered the use of dive bombers instead, hoping that the eyes of the pilots would minimize civilian deaths. The results were about the same as if artillery had been used.
    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intramuros#mediaviewer/File:Memorare_manila_monument.jpg

  • Part of the problem in the fight for Manila was that MacArthur was perhaps too concerned with civilian casualties and attempting not to inflict damage on a city he loved, and he placed considerable initial restrictions both on the use of artillery and airpower. The results were to slow the liberation of Manila while the Japanese were massacring civilians for their amusement, and lengthen the duration of the battle, without reducing civilian casualties, or, in the end, doing less damage to Manila which was devastated by the battle. American casualties were 6000 to 16000 Japanese (Virtually the entire Japanese garrison died fighting.). One can imagine the American and civilian casualties if the Americans had had to take Tokyo from a Japanese army of one million.

  • To outsiders it seems very… off to watch Catholics argue that the options which would result in MORE deaths are the moral ones.

    You could almost imagine a starving civilian looking at them and saying, “Well at least YOU feel better. At least YOUR hands are clean. Never mind that I might have lived, it’s all about you…”

    It’s like listening to a group argue that it’s so wrong to push little old ladies, they conclude that it’s best to stand by and let one be hit by an oncoming bus rather than push her out of the way. (and if you ever point this out, the group starts accusing you of demanding how soon you can run around and push old ladies)

    Do you ever stop and listen to yourselves?

  • “Do you ever stop and listen to yourselves?”

    The principle that innocents should not be killed Nate is a very strong one in Catholic teaching. These are not easy questions and I am glad that I belong to a Faith that takes them very seriously indeed.

  • Well put, Don and you are probably one of the best living credits to that faith.

    But when in a situation where ANY action (even no action) will result in innocents dying, to see many Catholics argue that the action which results in the MOST deaths is the “moral” one… one starts to wonder if they need to be reacquainted with that old teaching. (like Zippy’s ranting about abortion in the older post)

  • “But when in a situation where ANY action (even no action) will result in innocents dying, to see many Catholics argue that the action which results in the MOST deaths is the “moral” one”

    I think insufficient attention has generally been paid in reference to Hiroshima of the moral consequences of not dropping the bomb. That, and the fact that we do live in a fallen world, something that is demonstrated dramatically in war time where the least horrible option is often very gruesome indeed. Catholicism has always been clear that sins of omission can be just as deadly as sins of comission, something that is apparently often overlooked when weighing the morality of Truman’s decision.

  • Is there anything about war that is moral? But if war is forced, then one should aim to win quickly, and as decisively as possible. If that means basting apart the enemies’ cities with nuclear weapons so as to an immediate and complete surrender, then so be it. Maybe nothing is moral about it; From my past life of sin, I am a poor decision-maker in what is moral and what isn’t. But victory over a determined and intractable enemy is the right and correct thing to do, and in the case of WW II, the use of nuclear weapons averted a long, protracted struggle that would have killed far more lives on both sides of the struggle.
    .
    I wish I knew more about history and strategy. But I am just a nuke. I used to sleep beside those weapons in the torpedo room. I am glad war did not come in those days of the Soviet Union. I now dread that a culture and a government more insane than that of Imperial Japan – Shiite Iran or an Islamic Caliphate – will gain the weapons to which Japan and Nazi Germany aspired. And all this self-flagellation over Hiroshima and Nagasaki may sadly be forgotten in the radioactive ashes of a major American city. You’ll want war then. You’ll want the enemy defeated then.
    .
    By the way, was there anything moral about God telling Joshua to wipe out the pagan inhabitants of the cities in the Promised Land?

  • Paul W Primavera wrote:

    “By the way, was there anything moral about God telling Joshua to wipe out the pagan inhabitants of the cities in the Promised Land?”

    Or indeed doing the job Himself as per Sodom and Gomorrah…?

  • Donald R McClarey wrote, “The principle that innocents should not be killed Nate is a very strong one in Catholic teaching”
    In her 1958 paper, Modern Moral Philosophy, Miss Anscombe pointed out that “The prohibition of certain things simply in virtue of their description as such and such identifiable kinds of action, regardless of any further consequences, is certainly not the whole of the Hebrew Christian ethic; but it is a noteworthy feature of it.” It is also a fact that every academic moral philosopher since Sidgwick denies that any such prohibitions exist. For them, “the right action” is the action which produces the best possible consequences (reckoning among consequences the intrinsic values ascribed to certain kinds of act by some “Objectivists.”) It is for that reason that she coined the term “consequentialist” to describe them.
    The most a consequentialist can say is: a man must not bring about this or that – he cannot say that idolatry, adultery, making a false profession of faith are wrong without qualification, nor, indeed, that choosing to kill the innocent for any purpose, however good is wrong simply and without qualification.
    Of course, a Christian will say, “It is forbidden, and however it looks, it cannot be to anyone’s profit to commit injustice,” but that is an act of faith in the Divine Lawgiver, not a rational insight in a concrete instance.

  • TomD wrote, “it would seem that what introduces double effect is the immediacy of the effect.”
    No, it is the difference between what is intended and what is merely foreseen. If I push a murderous assailant off a high cliff, that is not murder, for I do not intend his death, but to end his attack. Similarly, a man may licitly jump to his death from a tall burning building in order to avoid the flames (S Alphonsus Liguori, Theologia moralis, lib. III, tractatus IV, cap. I, 367.

  • “No, it is the difference between what is intended and what is merely foreseen.”

    “merely foreseen” is mere word games in the example you raise. I would view the killing in the example as completely justified, but the death of the assailant was clearly intended.

  • “nor, indeed, that choosing to kill the innocent for any purpose, however good is wrong simply and without qualification.”

    Of course that has not been the position of the Church, else the Church could not have given sanction to the balance of terror during the Cold War. These are far more complex questions than those who raise the charge of consequentialist usually wish to ackowledge.

  • The civilians in Nagasaki and Hiroshima were warned to leave. It was incumbent upon the civilians to abhor that their nation was waging a war of aggression. If possible, the civilians were to literally rise up and stop their nation from waging an unjust war. Were these inhabitants of the doomed cities preparing to enjoy the spoils of an unjust war? Only the individual person knows his conscience. Non-combatants are called collateral damage, unintended victims caught in an unprovidential place. The unintended victims, collateral damage caused by the A-bomb is the guilt of Japan.
    .
    It was and is the duty of the U.S. military to impose Justice.
    .
    Many of the writers scrutinize the actions of the U.S. but none of the non-actions of the inhabitants and the necessary laying of guilt and the bloodguilt on Japan.

  • “No, it is the difference between what is intended and what is merely foreseen.” “merely foreseen” is mere word games in the example you raise.”
    Thank you Don, that was exactly my point.

    I don’t want to be misunderstood: the idea of Double Effect does have some value. Military personnel who are placed in impossible situations should not have to live with crippling guilt for the rest of their lives, and Double Effect offers the only worldly escape other than amorality (God’s forgiveness being the heavenly reconciliation).
    Another example can be found in law enforcement. Police cannot ‘shoot to wound’, an assailant can still inflict harm on the officer or others in such a case, and in most venues ‘shooting to wound’ is a legal admission that deadly force was not justified. Yet ‘shooting to kill’ is not something society wants to encourage in our fellow citizens who hold police powers. The way out is to train police to ‘shoot to incapacitate’, use force to stop the assailant, but do not intend his death even though incapacitation requires aiming at vital organs.

    So, I have to conclude that Double Effect has some moral value for people who must quickly make life or death decisions in situations that have limited options or a degree of compulsion. It would seem to have less moral applicability to wartime leaders in a faraway and secure capital, for them it does risk becoming a word game.

  • Donald R McClarey wrote, “I would view the killing in the example as completely justified, but the death of the assailant was clearly intended.”
    No, it is not intended. The test is this: would my intention be frustrated, if the assailant survived (by falling into the sea for example). The answer is plainly no; likewise the man jumping off the burning building.

    We see this in the case of in the case of the administration of a pain-relieving drug in mortal illness, where the physician knows the drug may very well kill the patient if the illness does not do so first. Nevertheless, the intention is to relieve pain; that intnetion is not frustrated, if the dose does not prove lethal.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour: I would not consider the double effect of an individual drug dosage or any medical procedure to be equivalent to the double effect of a military combat operation. Apples and oranges. Perhaps they become similar when dosages or procedures are considered across the population, but even then there is no real comparison. Unlike medical personnel (up to now, that is), military personnel are trained to kill, unlike civil police there is no double effect consideration in their training other than that required by adherence to international conventions. And training does impact culpability in any moral decision.
    So, I have to conclude that the use of Double Effect for the three groups were are considering (1- combat personnel, 2 – wartime civilian leaders, 3 – postwar critics like us) is not the same for a number of reasons, a few of which I have listed.

    The bottom line is this: if I am aware of the Double Effect principle, I can willfully use it to game the outcome of a moral decision, either while in the making or in a post facto critique. This gaming is little different than a repeat adulterer running to weekly Confession for forgiveness: he knows he is playing a game with the Sacrament. Same here with moral philosophy..

  • I cannot believe that after the leaflets were dropped warning of the bomb for two weeks, that that information did not get to the highest command in Japan. and what did Japan do, especially for its civilians? Japan refused to surrender. Only after the bomb did Japan surrender very late and very unwillingly.
    .
    If we are talking about war, let us include the enemy, especially the enemy’s refusal to surrender, to end the war which would have made the bomb unnecessary.
    .
    Double effect and consequentialism must include all aspects of the case. Japan caused the dropping of the A-bomb and refused to prevent it by surrendering. So, the U.S. must accept the guilt for defending the free world, truth and Justice. Yes, I will buy that but that does not make it right.

  • TomD
    St Thomas (ST II-II q 64. a 7) distinguishes a private individual killing in self-defence, where he says “Nothing hinders one act from having two effects, only one of which is intended, while the other is beside the intention. Now moral acts take their species according to what is intended, and not according to what is beside the intention, since this is accidental as explained above (43, 3; I-II, 12, 1). Accordingly the act of self-defence may have two effects, one is the saving of one’s life,the other is the slaying of the aggressor &c.”
    However, he would allow the police directly to intend the death of an assailant: “But as it is unlawful to take a man’s life, except for the public authority acting for the common good, as stated above (Article 3), it is not lawful for a man to intend killing a man in self-defence, except for such as have public authority, who while intending to kill a man in self-defence, refer this to the public good, as in the case of a soldier fighting against the foe, and in the minister of the judge struggling with robbers, although even these sin, if they be moved by private animosity.”

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour: “”it is not lawful for a man to intend killing a man in self-defence, except for such as have public authority, who while intending to kill a man in self-defence, refer this to the public good,””
    .
    Is not the victim both an individual and a citizen, as in citizen’s arrest and in killing for the common good? Put off by his first victim, the killer went off and got another victim. See the Gail Schollar rape and murder by Scott Johnson.

  • Don, whether there would have been 400,000 casualties in an invasion of Japan, or 4 million (no one knows what the number would really have been and there are conflicting figures), you are still ignoring the Church’s clear teaching that direct indiscriminate killing of the type that occurred at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, especially where very little actual military advantage was gained, is intrinsically immoral.

    No sleight of hand about how evil the Japanese were, no ridiculous attempts to cast the innocent women and children of those cities as “combatants,” no appeal to American self-interest in avoiding large military casualties, can right the wrong of the direct, intentional, indiscriminate slaughter of innocents. We wanted to terrorize the Japanese into unconditional surrender by slaughtering vast numbers of innocents and their cities. It was immoral. Period. Your arguments all reduce to mere consequentialism, with a good dose of ad hominem thrown in for good measure.

  • The Target Committee stated that “It was agreed that psychological factors in the target selection were of great importance. Two aspects of this are (1) obtaining the greatest psychological effect against Japan and (2) making the initial use sufficiently spectacular for the importance of the weapon to be internationally recognized when publicity on it is released.”

    The bombing thus was not even really a military exercise for a military goal in relation to the two cities, but a demonstration of power. For this “demonstration” 70,000 humans were killed, the vast majority of whom were civilians, that is, not members of the Japanese military.

  • What’s done is done, but the still-present moral dilemma makes me think of an old movie I saw about a fire in the garment district shirtwaist factory in NY. The girls were urged to jump out the windows to avoid dying by burning- and they did- just before God provided a better answer in the form of firemen breaking through the wall. Those few who waited on The Lord were saved.
    .
    Was there another solution for victory over Japan that was on the way ?

  • “Japan was at the moment seeking some way to surrender with minimum loss of ‘face’. It wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.”

    “Certainly prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.”
    – U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey’s 1946 Study

    “It always appeared to us that, atomic bomb or no atomic bomb, the Japanese were already on the verge of collapse.”
    – General Henry H. “Hap” Arnold

    And if the judgment of these experts, who had much more intimate, direct knowledge of the facts and situation than any of us, is not enough, I’ll leave off with what the Church has said about “total war” tactics like these:

    “With these truths in mind, this most holy synod makes its own the condemnations of total war already pronounced by recent popes,(2) and issues the following declaration.

    Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities of extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and man himself. It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation.”
    –Gaudium et Spes, #80.

  • We could not really predict what was going to happen with Japan, in light of the new freedom of Russia to wage war on her own eastern front after the victory of the allies in Europe.

  • Mary De Voe asks, “Is not the victim both an individual and a citizen, as in citizen’s arrest and in killing for the common good?”

    But St Augustine says (De Civ. Dei i) [Can. Quicumque percutit, caus. xxiii, qu. 8] “A man who, without exercising public authority, kills an evil-doer, shall be judged guilty of murder, and all the more, since he has dared to usurp a power which God has not given him.”

    And St Thomas says (ST II-II q 64 a 3) “As stated above (Article 2), it is lawful to kill an evildoer in so far as it is directed to the welfare of the whole community, so that it belongs to him alone who has charge of the community’s welfare. Thus it belongs to a physician to cut off a decayed limb, when he has been entrusted with the care of the health of the whole body. Now the care of the common good is entrusted to persons of rank having public authority: wherefore they alone, and not private individuals, can lawfully put evildoers to death.”

    So, this power is limited to the magistrate and to those acting with his authority and not to private individuals. That is why the fasces (an axe tied in a bundle of rods) was carried before magistrates of the Roman people, as the symbol of their authority to beat and behead Roman citizens.

  • The U.S, was unable to reach Tokyo by air with the bomb. Crippling the monster was all we could do.
    .
    Anzlyne: “Was there another solution for victory over Japan that was on the way ? ”
    .
    Yes, it is called the A-bomb. All else had failed.
    WWII in the Pacific was Japan’s war. Japan started it. It was up to Japan to end it.-
    .
    “Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities of extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and man himself. It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation.” –Gaudium et Spes, #80 “-
    .
    The population was warned by leaflet drop two weeks prior to the bomb.
    .
    “Japan was at the moment seeking some way to surrender with minimum loss of ‘face’. It wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.” – General Dwight D. Eisenhower
    .
    The Japanese had difficulty surrendering after the bomb.
    .
    “Certainly prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.” – U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey’s 1946 Study ”
    .
    Prove it.
    .
    “It always appeared to us that, atomic bomb or no atomic bomb, the Japanese were already on the verge of collapse.” – General Henry H. “Hap” Arnold – ”
    .
    Prove it.

  • MPS: To kill a man while acting in self defense is killing for the common good.
    .
    Some silly notes. The rapist chopped the woman’s head 47 times. The court asked if the rapist wanted to kill her or only inflict serious bodily injury. Yeah right. in New Brunswick, N.J.
    .
    And the assaulted must ask: “Are you going to kill me or only inflict serious bodily injury” and this from a maniac.
    .
    IF I have an ax in my hand and I am being assaulted, believe you me, he is going to get hit with it and then let him ask me if I wanted to kill him or only inflict serious bodily injury.
    .
    Someone once told me that if I get raped I should let it happen because “it is God’s will”. That someone ought to read the Old Testament where if the woman did not cry out and fight back, she was to be put to death too.
    .
    If the U.S. had means to end the war and did not, the U.S. would be guilty of extending the war. This ought to be capitalized.

  • “Japan was at the moment seeking some way to surrender with minimum loss of ‘face’. It wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.”
    Eisenhower said nothing like that at the time. As a matter of fact when Bradley told him about Hiroshima he expressed satisfaction that the War would be ended. He also later noted in this context that he knew nothing about military conditions in the Pacific being solely focused on Europe. His idea that Japan was seeking to surrender on any conditions that the US was willing to accept is false. Background on this and other quotes routinely dredgred up by Truman bashers in regard to Hiroshima may be read at the link below:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=A2Zv3VD6ptQC&pg=PA18&lpg=PA18&dq=bradley+eisenhower+hiroshima&source=bl&ots=pkr9is5FVa&sig=vFRLOlMjzcx_MiyK00F7s9UhRUo&hl=en&sa=X&ei=MiAXVMfIC9eiyASXk4JA&ved=0CB4Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=bradley%20eisenhower%20hiroshima&f=false

    “Certainly prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.”
    – U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey’s 1946 Study
    No, that is completely untrue.

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/005/894mnyyl.asp#

    Of course the Bomb Survey team assumed that we would continue to use conventional bombing against Japanese cities that had killed far more Japanese civilians that in the atomic bombings and that we would have maintained the blockade that by the fall of 1945 would have produced a full blown famine in Japan.

    “It always appeared to us that, atomic bomb or no atomic bomb, the Japanese were already on the verge of collapse.”
    – General Henry H. “Hap” Arnold

    Arnold and the other air lords assumed that conventional bombing along would have finished off Japan. Lemay, who had used firebombs to gruesome effect in Tokyo said at the time that he thought that even without the atomic bombs or the Soviet declaration of War the Japanese would have surrendered within a few days of when they surrendered. There is absolutely nothing in the historical record to support that declaration.

    And if the judgment of these experts, who had much more intimate, direct knowledge of the facts and situation than any of us, is not enough, I’ll leave off with what the Church has said about “total war” tactics like these:

    “With these truths in mind, this most holy synod makes its own the condemnations of total war already pronounced by recent popes,(2) and issues the following declaration.

    Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities of extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and man himself. It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation.”
    –Gaudium et Spes, #80.
    Which of course is directly contrary to the support that the Church gave to the use of nuclear weapons for deterrence during the Cold War.

    A good book for people interested in learning about the actual history of the atomic bombings:

    http://www.amazon.com/Hiroshima-History-The-Myths-Revisionism/dp/0826219624

  • Donald R McClarey wrote, “Which of course is directly contrary to the support that the Church gave to the use of nuclear weapons for deterrence during the Cold War.”
    Individual churchmen, even popes, have said and done some quite indefensible things. To borrow some examples from Bl John Henry Newman – St Peter on that occasion at Antioch when St. Paul withstood him, St. Victor, when he separated from his communion the Asiatic Churches, Liberius when in like manner he excommunicated Athanasius, Gregory XIII, when he had a medal struck in honour of the Bartholomew massacre or Paul IV in his conduct towards Elizabeth or Sextus V, when he blessed the Armada, or Urban VIII when he persecuted Galileo.
    All very different matters from the solemn teaching of a General Council.

  • The praxis of the Church is always important, especially when said praxis comes after a Council. Also, as noted by Newman, concluding what is infallible about a Council and what is not is not necessarily the easiest of tasks:

    “3. These conditions of course contract the range of his infallibility most materially. Hence Billuart speaking of the Pope says, “Neither in conversation, nor in discussion, nor in interpreting Scripture or the Fathers, nor in consulting, nor in giving his reasons for the point which he has defined, nor in answering letters, nor in private deliberations, supposing he is setting forth his own opinion, is the Pope infallible,” t. ii. p. 110. And for this simple reason, because on these various occasions of speaking his mind, he is not in the chair of the universal doctor.

    4. Nor is this all; the greater part of Billuart’s negatives refer to the Pope’s utterances when he is out of the Cathedra Petri, but even, when he is in it, his words do not necessarily proceed from his infallibility. He has no wider prerogative than a Council, and of a Council Perrone says, “Councils are not infallible in the reasons by which they are led, or on which they rely, in making their definition, nor in matters which relate to persons, nor to physical matters which have no necessary connexion with dogma.” Præl. Theol. t. 2, p. 492. Thus, if a Council has condemned a work of Origen or Theodoret, it did not in so condemning go beyond the work itself; it did not touch the persons of either. Since this holds of a Council, it also holds in the case of the Pope; therefore, supposing a Pope has quoted the so called works of the Areopagite as if really genuine, there is no call on us to believe him; nor again, if he condemned Galileo’s Copernicanism, unless the earth’s immobility has a “necessary connexion with some dogmatic truth,” which the present bearing of the Holy See towards that philosophy virtually denies.

    5. Nor is a Council infallible, even in the prefaces and introductions to its definitions. There are theologians of name, as Tournely and Amort, who contend that even those most instructive capitula passed in the Tridentine Council, from which the Canons with anathemas are drawn up, are not portions of the Church’s infallible teaching; and the parallel introductions prefixed to the Vatican anathemas have an authority not greater nor less than that of those capitula. 6. Such passages, however, as these are too closely connected with the definitions themselves, not to be what is sometimes called, by a catachresis, “proximum fidei;” still, on the other hand, it is true also that, in those circumstances and surroundings of formal definitions, which I have been speaking of, whether on the part of a Council or a Pope, there may be not only no exercise of an infallible voice, but actual error. Thus, in the Third Council, a passage of an heretical author was quoted in defence of the doctrine defined, under the belief he was Pope Julius, and narratives, not trustworthy, are introduced into the Seventh. This remark and several before it will become intelligible if we consider that neither Pope nor Council are on a level with the Apostles. To the Apostles the whole revelation was given, by the Church it is transmitted; no simply new truth has been given to us since St. John’s death; the one office of the Church is to guard “that noble deposit” of truth, as St. Paul speaks to Timothy, which the Apostles bequeathed to her, in its fulness and integrity. Hence the infallibility of the Apostles was of a far more positive and wide character than that needed by and granted to the Church. We call it, in the case of the Apostles, inspiration; in the case of the Church, assistentia.”

  • We find what is, in effect, a reiteration of the teaching of the Council in Evangelium Vitae – “Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, and in communion with the Bishops of the Catholic Church, I confirm that the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral.”

    It is difficult to see how this would not include the targeting of a civilian population that must contain some (infants, the infirm &c) who are innocent by any standards

  • Actually taken in an extreme sense that statement would forbid Catholics to engage in any warfare, since there are precious few military operations that do not involve foreseeable casualties for the innocent, which would be certainly good news for those who spit on everything the Church stands for and are not shy about using military force. John Paul II often denied being a pacifist, but he attempted to hedge in the use of force with so many restrictions, that the difference between him and a Quaker pacifist was purely theoretical. A cursory knowledge of Church history will demonstrate how diffent this was from the attitude of the Church towards war and force for 1600 years.

  • Mary De Voe, I have to take your side in your debate with Michael Paterson-Seymour.
    The statements by Sts. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas regarding ‘proper authority’ are simply outdated when it comes to personal defense. In today’s understanding of the nature of citizenship, we know that the citizen has the sovereign power to defend herself, at least in the American context of citizenship. Of course Sts. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas ideas regarding ‘proper authority’ still apply in any situation that goes beyond that which is required for the immediate defense of one’s person in the absence of the ‘proper authority’.
    Part of the problem is that Mr. Paterson-Seymour lives in a country where he is more subject than citizen, and where utopian elites have effectively criminalized self defense.

  • Here is what I know to be true based on the commandment to love one’s neighbor:

    1) The nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were immoral
    2) The conventional bombings of other Japanese cities were immoral
    3) An extended blockade of Japan that starved millions would have been immoral
    4) An invasion of the Japanese home islands in which schoolchildren carried out suicidal banzai charges would have been immoral
    5) Calling a truce in July 1945 in which the U.S. Navy sailed home and allowed the Japanese to continue their atrocities in China and elsewhere would have been immoral.

    This is why war is so evil. Once begun often no good choice exists, especially for the non-aggressor (aggressors can at least stop, apologize and compensate the victim). Yes, each choice listed above is different with different culpabilities and intended and unintended effects. The facts remain: the United States had no moral – in the absolute sense of the word – choice in 1945. Every practical course would have killed hundreds of thousands somewhere.

  • The most a consequentialist can say is: a man must not bring about this or that – he cannot say that idolatry, adultery, making a false profession of faith are wrong without qualification, nor, indeed, that choosing to kill the innocent for any purpose, however good is wrong simply and without qualification.
    Of course, a Christian will say, “It is forbidden, and however it looks, it cannot be to anyone’s profit to commit injustice,” but that is an act of faith in the Divine Lawgiver, not a rational insight in a concrete instance.

    1) Consequentialism is the only viable “common moral language” possible in a plural society. To invoke “consequentialism” as some kind of disqualifier only applies if the entirety of affected society is Catholic.

    2) The second a Divine Lawgiver is invoked, you have resorted to consequentialism yourself – because you consider the act of displeasing Him to be a far worse consequence than any alternative.

    In other words, consequentialism is nothing more than “logic of morality”. To say that it must be abandoned is to make the case that morality should not be reasoned or argued about at all, which I understood to be quite contrary to Catholic history.

    In summary, anyone that invokes consequentialism as heresy or other are just saying, “Shut up and stop thinking.”

  • Donald R. McClarey

    Concerning your comment on Church history and the Church’s attitude toward war and force for 1600 years.

    I would share a few points, Donald.

    There is and always has been “the Development of Doctrine”, most notably stated by Saint Vincent of Lerins at the end of the Patristic era and of course, Blessed John Cardinal Newman. What does not take place is an outright denial and negation of doctrine [although some have attempted to show that it has happened at certain times, and their reasons for doing so are varied, such personages as Blessed John Cardinal Newman in the nineteenth century and Avery Cardinal Dulles in our own era have sufficiently shown that the seeming contradictions do not in fact exist]

    Here my point is precisely on the Just War teachings of the Church (and not the negation or even neglect of them) the Church ‘more recently’ has condemned ‘total war’ [the just war principle of proportionality], and the indiscriminate bombing of whole cities and their populations [Here it is not just Hiroshima and Nagasaki what come into view, but Warsaw, Coventry, London, Dresden, Tokyo; in other words, the condemnation is not just for the use of nuclear arms but also conventional arms when used on this scale]

    Secondly, while there was an ‘allowance’ of nuclear deterence from the Catholic Church there is not an allowance etc of the use of the nuclear weapons precisely because of the principle of proportionality AND the killing of innocent human lives [and citizens who are not soldiers have always been considered innocents; they are non-combatants. This is the foundation of any and all terrorist bombings etc even today, whether 9/11 or other locations. Authentic or inauthentic declarations of war do not make all citizens of the country/countries warring-combatants]

    While the Church has developed her teaching she has not negated it. The early Church was not totally pacifist as many claim. The number of Roman soldier saints should give us a clue to that. However, over time the Church develops her teaching, in this case Just War Principles, an aspect of the social teaching of the Church. While the recent popes [going all the way back to Benedict XV] called for an end to the insanity of war etc. they never, rejected the Just War Teachings. In fact, Saint John Paul II added another principle {I might miss word it here] calling for ‘response to protect the innocent’, which he made during the crisis in the 90’s in the Balkans

    The Church follows the Prince of Peace and seeks world patterned in light of the Gospel. However until that time comes, in the Eschaton, She promotes her Gospel of Peace and Justice, of which the Principles of Just War are an essential part, just as individually chosen pacifism is an essential part. All members of the Church are called to be peacemakers, which can be and should be lived out by soldiers as much as by pacifists.

    IN the end it is really not the Church that has changed but ‘war’. Therefore, the Church has had to develop her teaching accordingly.

  • I left out: citizens of any and every city are innocents and non-comabatants-this is the foundation of the CONDEMNATION of any and all acts of terrorism—sorry lol about leaving that important wording out. My head gets ahead of my typing lol

  • “IN the end it is really not the Church that has changed but ‘war’. Therefore, the Church has had to develop her teaching accordingly.”

    That is not correct Botolph as a matter of historical fact. War has always been a very grim business indeed. The Albigensian Crusade for example demonstrates that total war, and the destruction of the populations of cities or entire regions, is not a recent innovation in War. What has changed is that since 1870 Popes no longer make war, so the practicality and applicability of teaching regarding warfare is no longer a consideration.

    “Secondly, while there was an ‘allowance’ of nuclear deterence from the Catholic Church there is not an allowance etc of the use of the nuclear weapons”

    With respect, that is gibberish. Nuclear deterrence was predicated on using nukes, if necessary. For the Church to be in favor of nuclear deterrence but simultaneously against the use, if need be, of the nukes is a non-sequitur.

  • Nate Winchester,

    You said, “Consequentialism is nothing but the logic of morality.To say that it must be abandoned is to make the case that morality should not be reasoned or argued about at all, which I understand to be quite contrary to Catholic history.
    In summary anyone who invokes consequentialism as heresy or other are just saying, “Shut up and stop thinking”

    Are you aware that the same Pope, St John Paul II who wrote Fides et Ratio, Faith and Reason [hardly someone who is saying “Shut up and stop thinking”, wrote in Veritatis Splendor [the Splendor of Truth]:
    that “consequentialism claims to draw the criteria of rightness of a given way of acting solely from the calculation of foreseeble consequences stemming from a given choice” and stated that this type of motal theorizing concludes that the foreseen proportions of ‘pre-moral” goods to evils in the alternatives available can at times justify exceptions to precepts traditionally regarded as absolute [see VS 75] John Paul rejected this form of moral theorizing declaring “they are not faithful to the Church’s teaching, when they believe that they can justify, as morally good, deliberate choices of behavior contrary to the commandments of the Divine and natural law” [VS 76]

    St John Paul continues. He writes that this way of evaluating human acts, “is not an adequate method for determining whether the choice of that concrete kind of behavior is ‘according to its species’ or ‘in itself’ good or bad, licit or illicit” because “everyone recognizes the difficulty or rather the impossiblity of evaluating all the good and evil consequences and effects-defined as pre-moral-of one’s own acts” [VS 77]

    St John Paul brings forth this fundamental point/teaching of the Church: “The morality of the human act depends primarily and fundamentally on the ‘object’ rationally chosen by the deliberative will [VS 78]

  • “The facts remain: the United States had no moral – in the absolute sense of the word – choice in 1945. Every practical course would have killed hundreds of thousands somewhere.”

    Bingo.

  • Donald,

    It is true, since 1870 ‘the popes’ have no longer make war because they no longer have territory to defend etc. The unification of Italy, a socio-political reality helped to redefine the mission of the papacy and with it the Church. In response, in the dogmatic declaration on papal infallibiity, the Church has defined that her territory (and thus what needs to be protected by popes and bishops) is faith and morality. It also shored up the self-identity of the Church vis a vis the world (not so enmeshed etc), however, having said that, the nature of war, from the time of WWI has changed in many ways and not just in weaponry. The Church at first stunned by what it was experiencing/witnessing had to return to its tradition with new questions, ones that had never even imagined before WWI and certainly WWII-that is the development of doctrine. While war has always been ugly, terrible etc, nothing like these wars ever existed before [and frankly we are in a new era with mass terrorism etc–what kind of moral response can/should be given to these forces?]

    As for distingushing nuckear arsenals as a deterrance and the use of nuclear arms, there are many pacifists and progressives who also believe they cannot be distinguished [neither of which grouping I know you don’t belong in] but the Church has had to make very fine distinctions that some consider ‘gibberish’. I mention two: when the Church ‘allows’ the removal of a woman’s cancerous womb while an unborn child is present-this is the principle of double effect, the child’s life is ended, yet that is not the intention of the procedure, but the horrendously sad effect of a necessary operation. Another would be the taking of the Pill for non-birth control measures (although I believe these are becoming less and less necessary) But I believe you get my point.

  • Botolph,

    Are you aware that the same Pope, St John Paul II who wrote Fides et Ratio, Faith and Reason [hardly someone who is saying “Shut up and stop thinking”, wrote in Veritatis Splendor [the Splendor of Truth]:

    No, but then I’m not Catholic. And as I pointed out (and you proved) the reasoning even quoted by JP2 ultimately still lies with the consequences.

    Take for example the situation that always seems to trip up anti-consequentialists: The attempted sacrifice of Issac. Killing kids? We all agree a pretty big no no. Never allowed? Ok, we also agree on that. Then it would be wrong and sinful for Abraham to have attempted to kill his son AND if at any point you want to say, “But God told him to”, that’s consequentialist thinking. You’re (or in this case Abraham) making a choice based upon the consequences.

    In other words, we all practice consequentialism, the only difference is the logic sort order (as we say in computer science) of the process. Whether some factors (such as orders from On High) weigh more or less than others (such as lives lost).

  • Oops, I glossed over this comment by Michael Paterson-Seymour: “However, he [St.Augustine] would allow the police directly to intend the death of an assailant”

    Well, St. Augustine might have allowed such a thing, but I wouldn’t, and I don’t think many in a modern Western democracy would allow it either. As I mentioned, we in the 21st century know it is possible for police to use deadly force to protect the innocent without introducing the intention to kill. I don’t agree with the creed of the Progressive Religion, but it is undeniable that real progress does exist. This matter is one of them.

  • Nate,

    No I nor JP II proved anything positive about Consequentialism. As he wrote, it is an impossiblity of knowing (or even claiming to know) all the consequences of a human act. What is possible however is to know “the object///rationally chosen///by the deliberative will”

    If you are not Catholic I certainly understand why you did not know of JPII’s writings etc. however, you are jumping into a Catholic world-view here. Want some water-wings lol? [meant with light heartedness ;-)]

  • “The unification of Italy, a socio-political reality helped to redefine the mission of the papacy”

    Which the popes fought tooth and nail against until the Lateran Treaty. For example, in the Syllabus of Errors Pius IX condemned these propositions:

    24. The Church has not the power of using force, nor has she any temporal power, direct or indirect. — Apostolic Letter “Ad Apostolicae,” Aug. 22, 1851.

    76. The abolition of the temporal power of which the Apostolic See is possessed would contribute in the greatest degree to the liberty and prosperity of the Church. — Allocutions “Quibus quantisque,” April 20, 1849, “Si semper antea,” May 20, 1850.

    Depriving the Church of secular rule may be a good thing or a bad thing. (Personally I think it is too soon to tell.) However, it is clearly something forced on to the popes against their will, and the office of the papacy has changed as a result, and the men who ascend to the papacy have also changed, lacking any experience of secular rule, which usually men had experienced before they were elected to the papacy pre 1870. This has had a major impact on Church teaching in how the Church looks at the World, War and Economics being two prime areas. Whether these changes are permanent, God, through History, will reveal in His good time.

  • Botolph, I knew what I was getting into, that’s why my first comment was pointing out how a lot of this appears to Catholic outsiders.

    No I nor JP II proved anything positive about Consequentialism. As he wrote, it is an impossiblity of knowing (or even claiming to know) all the consequences of a human act. What is possible however is to know “the object///rationally chosen///by the deliberative will”

    No one claims to know all consequences, but what everyone does agree is that we all act based upon “best guess” and logic. Just to make sure I’m not misinterpreting something, I looked it up on wikipedia which says:
    “John Paul bases this on the argument that certain acts are so destructive to the human person that there are no extenuating circumstances that would allow them.”

    In other words, the consequences of the act (in this case, destructive to a person or personhood) are too great for it to be allowed.

    Consider as I said in the first comment. Some were claiming that the most moral choice is to blockade. To do so would have killed millions. Why is this moral? Because the consequences of it (in this case, the cost to the soul, only everyone’s dressing it up as breaking the Church’s or God’s laws, but that’s what both sum up as) are worse than the alternative – dropping the a-bomb.

    It’s not unlike Jonah Goldberg pointed in “Tyranny of Cliches” how labels are used (like non-ideological when the person, is – in fact – being ideological). Both sides are consequentialists here but only one side is trying to argue otherwise, even as they use consequence-style arguments. Even the quote by JP2 reads like someone trying to make a logical case against logic itself.

    And – as I also think some should acknowledge – consequenalism is the only option available when trying to talk about morals to those outside your system. I mean in this case, do you really think the Buddhist Japanese would have been that understanding about starving millions to satisfy your Catholic principles?

    It is somewhat ironic that many arguing against the a-bomb say that terrorists’ views of civilians are no different than America’s was that day. Yet never realize that much of their arguments rest on their religion… which is also what many terrorists use to justify their actions…

    Not you, Botolph, it just occurred to me while I was looking at something else.

  • Donald,

    We both agree that “God through history will reveal in His good time”

    I am not a “Hegelian” who believes in automatic “Progression”. However, neither do I believe there was ever a golden age [except of course Paradise itself] in a particular age or in the history of the Church, What future will unfold for the Church in the world I only have guesses. The ‘reason for my hope” as St Peter puts it in his First Letter is the victory of Jesus Christ, the presence of the Holy Spirit within the whole Church preserving her in holiness and her unity, catholicity and apostolicity and the promise of Christ the Lord Who states that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church founded on Peter and maintained in his successors (yes even though some were grave sinners) and the bishops in union with them.

  • We both agree that “God through history will reveal in His good time”

    I am not a “Hegelian” who believes in automatic “Progression”. However, neither do I believe there was ever a golden age [except of course Paradise itself] in a particular age or in the history of the Church, What future will unfold for the Church in the world I only have guesses.

    On that we all agree.

    Even the filthy protestants.

  • Nate, you wrote: “Even the quote by JP2 reads like someone trying to make a logical case against logic itself.”
    I don’t think it is that exactly. I think it is merely an acknowledgement that ultimately logic fails us in these matters. I’m sure you know that in Christianity we do deal with such things, and we call them Mysteries. The mystery of evil is of course one of the greatest, so great that it is (in my view) the only honorable reason to be an atheist.

  • Sorry, TomD, I was unclear. I meant “logic against logic” in a metraphorical/analogy sense, not literal. The literal use would be “using consequences to disprove consequentialism”.

  • Tom D. : “where utopian elites have effectively criminalized self defense.”
    .
    I am aware of this position.
    .
    Here is what I know to be true based on the commandment to love one’s neighbor: – 1) The nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were immoral 2) The conventional bombings of other Japanese cities were immoral 3) An extended blockade of Japan that starved millions would have been immoral 4) An invasion of the Japanese home islands in which schoolchildren carried out suicidal banzai charges would have been immoral 5) Calling a truce in July 1945 in which the U.S. Navy sailed home and allowed the Japanese to continue their atrocities in China and elsewhere would have been immoral.
    .
    The commandment to love one’s neighbor sometimes includes an A-bombing of his cities to educate him in the Fifth Commandment and in the self-defense of the individual human being. Capital punishment is an education to the criminal of the Fifth Commandment on an individual basis. Defensive war is also an education of the Fifth Commandment to the barbarian invasions. The A-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was an education to the barbarians in loving one’s neighbor and an education in equal Justice since the barbarians did not know how to love their neighbors, nor did the barbarians know the Ten Commandments.

  • Tom D.: “The mystery of evil is of course one of the greatest, so great that it is (in my view) the only honorable reason to be an atheist.”
    .
    There is no honorable reason to be an atheist. Divine Providence gave America the A-bomb to end the World War in the Pacific.

  • Mary, I think you could have put it more artfully. I’m not going to contort the Gospels to justify what was in fact a just war. All I am saying is that just wars still contain much immorality. A just war needs to be prosecuted with determination toward victory, but we cannot forget just how fallen from grace the circumstances of that justice and victory happen to be. And yes, victory in a just war may be God’s will, and I would hope it was God’s will, but I would be afraid to assume that it in fact was God’s will.

    As to there being honorable atheists, I can assure you they do exist, I know a few, and I know that they give attention to my religious views because I do honor them. Would you have it that they don’t listen? Did you ever see The Keys of the Kingdom?

  • The atom bombings were technically immoral, but there were mitigating circumstances:

    1. The Allies were fighting for a righteous cause, and Japan was fighting for an unrighteous one. This makes all the difference in the moral calculus. Imagine if the Axis Powers had successfully developed the atom bomb before the Allies and proceeded to drop it on an Allied city. Everyone would agree that such would be immoral.

    2. The Japanese gave the impression of being ready to fight, down to pots and pans if need be, to the last man. Imagine “We shall fight on the beaches” taken to an absurd extreme.

    3. Based on Mr. McClarey’s figures, 300,000 people were dying on the Asian mainland every month that the war continued. (I would question the morality, though, of liberating China from Japanese militarism, only to allow it to fall under Communism.)

    What would have made the atom bombings more morally secure? I am no expert here, but if we could pick a circle having a one-mile radius with a higher military-to-civilian ratio, that might be one way of selecting a target that minimizes civilian casualties.

    The Allies were fighting for the righteous cause, so we should be glad that we won the war. At the same time, there were aspects of our military strategy that warrant self-examination. By the time we dropped the atom bombs, we had already been firebombing Tokyo for several months. We were piling on one morally questionable act over another. It is morally imperative that we don’t just drop the bomb without examining our consciences. After all, it was a surfeit of pride that brought 1930’s Germany and Japan on the path to war. “Pride goes before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” -Proverb 16:18.

  • Nate Winchester wrote, “The second a Divine Lawgiver is invoked, you have resorted to consequentialism yourself – because you consider the act of displeasing Him to be a far worse consequence than any alternative.”

    One may indeed think so, but a primary characteristic of a Law theory of ethics is that you can be subject to a law that you do not acknowledge and have not thought of as law. Moreover, without a Law theory of ethics, the concept of “obligation” becomes vacuous or, at best, metaphorical, for “obligation” is purely juridical concept. As Miss Anscombe points out, with a Virtue theory of ethics, “ought” has the same sense as in “machinery needs oil, or should or ought to be oiled, in that running without oil is bad for it, or it runs badly without oil.” It does not mean that anyone is bound or obliged to oil it.

    Of course, morality can still be “reasoned and argued about.” We can argue, for example, whether, on a proper construction, Leviticus XVIII forbids marriage with a deceased wife’s sister, or whether the Levitical law is binding on Christians. This is not to deny, but to acknowledge its binding force.

  • Botolph wrote, “neither do I believe there was ever a golden age [except of course Paradise itself] in a particular age or in the history of the Church…”
    Indeed. Most of us, I suspect do have a favourite period and, when it comes to writers, their choice often tells us more about them than the age in question. Think of Chesterton and Belloc and the 13th century, or Bl John Henry Newman and the 4th

  • Divine Providence guided America’s war for independence. WWII is another war for independence. Freedom. Man is created in the freedom of God. Trying to take man’s freedom from him is a violation of the will of God.
    .
    I am sure that atheists are honorable. It is that “There is no honorable reason to be an atheist.” Tom D. You say: ““The mystery of evil is of course one of the greatest, so great that it is (in my view) the only honorable reason to be an atheist.” So why would any thinking person align himself with the “evil”, the total absence of God?
    .
    Mico Razon: “By the time we dropped the atom bombs, we had already been firebombing Tokyo for several months. We were piling on one morally questionable act over another. It is morally imperative that we don’t just drop the bomb without examining our consciences.”
    .
    Japan had not surrendered. Giving Japan time to rearm and reorganize could have been strategic to Japan’s victory. Japan needed to be driven out of the free world, as Saint Michael drove Satan out of heaven.

  • Nate Winchester: ““John Paul bases this on the argument that certain acts are so destructive to the human person that there are no extenuating circumstances that would allow them.” In other words, the consequences of the act (in this case, destructive to a person or personhood) are too great for it to be allowed.”
    .
    World War II was “so destructive to the human person” and man’s God given freedom, ” that there are no extenuating circumstances that would allow them.” World War II ought not to have happened.

  • Mary, the issue is that classic issue of theodicy. If God is good, why does He allow evil? If God allows evil, is He responsible for it?
    Do you have a good answer for these questions? I don’t and I don’t think anyone does. There are stock answers, which you can quote but which really don’t answer the problem. The best I can do is to acknowledge that, by sending His Son to die on the Cross, God understands the mystery of evil, has joined us in suffering under it, and promised by the Resurrection to overcome it. Such acknowledgement is an act of faith and hope; logic does enter into the decision to believe, but it is not primary.
    So an atheist who refuses to believe in God because evil exists is not “aligning” with evil, he is just making a rational decision based on the existence of evil and the conflicting definition of who and what God is. Perhaps the logical end is what you mean by “align”, since it does lead to despair, but in my experience most such atheists fail to follow though to the end of their logic.
    I have to conclude that by logic alone the atheist is right, and I thank God that I do not live by logic alone.

  • Mico Razon wrote “We were piling on one morally questionable act over another. It is morally imperative that we don’t just drop the bomb without examining our consciences.”
    Of course not. And that goes for every other alternative to the bomb. In looking over this thread, one can conclude that the moral problem of U.S. decisions in July 1945 ought to be remembered and taught for the rest of time.

  • The devil is a person with free will. If the atheist chooses to not believe in God because of evil in the world, then the athiest has already chosen to not believe in the devil. It is a package deal. The devil wants souls to believe he (the devil) does not exist. The atheist has not given himself a chance to choose to not believe in the devil by simply choosing to not acknowledge the existence of the devil. I guess any one who chooses to not acknowledge the devil has already made the devil a success and his partner in evil.

  • Mico Razon: “We were piling on one morally questionable act over another. It is morally imperative that we don’t just drop the bomb without examining our consciences.”
    .
    What makes one think that, for a moment, America did not weight the results of the A-bomb, that America did not examine our individual and national conscience? This whole post is about America’s WWII conscience. Can you live with the freedom bought by the A-bomb?

  • “Can you live with the freedom bought by the A-bomb?”

    I never said I don’t. I said, “The Allies were fighting for the righteous cause, so we should be glad that we won the war.” Can you live with the knowledge that we killed civilians in Vietnam?

  • “What makes one think that, for a moment, America did not weight the results of the A-bomb, that America did not examine our individual and national conscience? ”

    Maybe because the development of the bomb (the Manhattan Project) was a VERY closely guarded military secret that only a small circle of scientists and Presidents Roosevelt and Truman knew about? (Truman was told about it for the first time the day that Roosevelt died, I believe.) How could “America” have “examined its conscience” about dropping the bomb when 99.99999% of its citizens had no idea the bomb even existed before it was dropped?

  • I suspect my reaction in August 1945, if I had just lost a son on Okinawa, would have been: “My God! Why did my boy have to die invading Okinawa if they knew they had this in the pipeline?” For the vast majority of Americans at the end of a very bloody war, the debate would not have been whether to drop the bomb, but questions about why it could not have been developed earlier, and dropped, to spare more Americans from dying in the Pacific.

  • Elaine Krewer: ” How could “America” have “examined its conscience” about dropping the bomb when 99.99999% of its citizens had no idea the bomb even existed before it was dropped? ”

    Yes. So why is the American conscience being blamed for the A-bomb? Scientists did not know what would happen when the bomb was detonated. Some believed that the entire atmosphere would catch fire in a chain reaction. The bomb scared both sides, but it did end the war.
    .
    Mico Razon: Vietnam was guerrilla warfare. Children were used, as in ISIL, to carry bombs into the camps of our G.I.s
    .
    A firm belief in Divine Providence and the love of God for all people carries me through. I lost several friends in Vietnam. One friend I have is Vietnamese. $25,000 in gold got them onto a boat where they watched their family drowned in the sea after they were robbed. Later, they were picked up by pirates and raped and robbed again. They made it to America, but that is a whole book.

  • Ms. De Voe,

    As a human being, you ought to be bothered by the killing of civilians. If you do not have even the slightest tinge of regret over the killing of women and children, that would be disturbing. I would concede that the atomic bombings were probably morally justified. But that does not stop me from feeling some regret over the innocent civilians of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (Note that I am using the word regret, not remorse.)

    I do make a distinction between per se moral actions and morally justified actions. If an action is per so moral, it wouldn’t need any justification. An atomic bombing can never be a per se moral action; at best, it can be a morally justified action.

  • Mico Razon: Why do you say that I am not bothered by the killing of civilians? Didn’t George Patton tell his soldiers to “kill them with kindness”?

But Is It Art?

Wednesday, September 10, AD 2014

When the flush of a newborn sun fell first on Eden’s green and gold,  
Our father Adam sat under the Tree and scratched with a stick in the mold;  
And the first rude sketch that the world had seen was joy to his mighty heart,  
Till the Devil whispered behind the leaves: “It’s pretty, but is it Art?”  
  
Wherefore he called to his wife and fled to fashion his work anew—
The first of his race who cared a fig for the first, most dread review;  
And he left his lore to the use of his sons—and that was a glorious gain  
When the Devil chuckled: “Is it Art?” in the ear of the branded Cain.  
  
They builded a tower to shiver the sky and wrench the stars apart,  
Till the Devil grunted behind the bricks: “It’s striking, but is it Art?”
The stone was dropped by the quarry-side, and the idle derrick swung,  
While each man talked of the aims of art, and each in an alien tongue.  
  
They fought and they talked in the north and the south, they talked and they fought in the west,
Till the waters rose on the jabbering land, and the poor Red Clay had rest—  
Had rest till the dank blank-canvas dawn when the dove was preened to start, 
And the Devil bubbled below the keel: “It’s human, but is it Art?”  
  
The tale is old as the Eden Tree—as new as the new-cut tooth—  
For each man knows ere his lip-thatch grows he is master of Art and Truth;  
And each man hears as the twilight nears, to the beat of his dying heart,  
The Devil drum on the darkened pane: “You did it, but was it Art?” 
  
We have learned to whittle the Eden Tree to the shape of a surplice-peg,  
We have learned to bottle our parents twain in the yolk of an addled egg,  
We know that the tail must wag the dog, as the horse is drawn by the cart;  
But the Devil whoops, as he whooped of old: “It’s clever, but is it Art?”  
  
When the flicker of London’s sun falls faint on the club-room’s green and gold, 
The sons of Adam sit them down and scratch with their pens in the mold—  
They scratch with their pens in the mold of their graves, and the ink and the anguish start  
When the Devil mutters behind the leaves: “It’s pretty, but is it art?”  
  
Now, if we could win to the Eden Tree where the four great rivers flow,  
And the wreath of Eve is red on the turf as she left it long ago,
And if we could come when the sentry slept, and softly scurry through,  
By the favor of God we might know as much—as our father Adam knew.

Rudyard Kipling

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9 Responses to But Is It Art?

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  • OK – not my favorite – but the Babel reference was great.

  • I don’t know if it’s art but it’s Kipling so what’s not to like?

  • I love how he exposed his students with the phony Pollock “painting”.

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    .
    It is important to understand that when the person consents to sin and crime, even before the act, that person excommunicates himself from God, from the Catholic Church and from his people. The criminal is self-ostracized, no exceptions even with inclusive language.

  • The spirit of the times expects us to like ersatz art and worse, ersatz statesmen.

  • I just watched the video. Well done. It’s an interesting subject to me. I personally believe that truth, goodness, and beauty all have an objective element to them. You can talk about a subjective aspect of them to some degree – truth and opinion, goodness and values, beauty and taste. I know very few people who believe in the idea of objective beauty. It’s a somewhat unpopular idea even among staunch traditionalists.

    One part of me thinks that the notion of objective beauty is a battle for another time. A society can function without that notion, albeit in an ugly way. When we’ve lost the notion of objective truth, well, that’s a much bigger battle. On the other hand, if we help people to allow themselves to admit that there is good and bad art, maybe that will prod them toward a greater acceptance of objectivity.

    One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is consistency. I didn’t think that most people bothered with consistency in their personal philosophies – it requires more introspection than I though most people engaged in. But seeing the way that gay marriage and marijuana legalization have swept through the country lately makes me think that people actually think things through. I would have expected that the weight of old morality would have kept us from changing these laws, but it appears I was wrong.

  • “But seeing the way that gay marriage and marijuana legalization have swept through the country lately makes me think that people actually think things through.”

    Actually I rather think the reverse. I think many people today get their ideas from popular entertainment which actually explains a lot. Of course one must also recall that in regard to gay marriage it is largely judge imposed in most parts of the country, which supports my belief that a break down of moral reasoning, even an inability to do so except in the simplest of clichés, (I have a right to my own body, marriage equality, if I can have my beer he can have his joint), afflicts society as a whole and not just among those who never read a book.

  • I hope you’re right. Your thinking has fewer unpleasant implications, and it doesn’t require the assumption of intellectual consistency. There’s no way to untangle the ratios of cultural versus philosophical libertinism on the law.

What Is Social Justice?

Thursday, March 27, AD 2014

Jonah Goldberg for Prager University asks and answers what is social justice.  I agree with him that social justice usually in practice ends up with thieves employed by the government taking property from A, keeping a substantial cut, and throwing the much reduced remainder at favored B and C.  This poorly thought out Robin Hood theology is at the basis of the manifestly failing welfare states today.  It is the antithesis of the voluntary charity called for by Christ in the tale of the Good Samaritan and it is beyond shameful that powerful people within the Church still think that the State is the preferred medium for social justice.  For those completely destitute and unable to work through no fault of their own, State support is a last resort necessity.  Where the welfare state ideology, masquerading as social justice, has gone astray is in taking a last resort and always making it a first resort, with disastrous consequences that are obvious to all, and completely ignored by those who ever bleat “social justice” and usually mean “state control”.

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15 Responses to What Is Social Justice?

  • In Populorum Progressio, Pope Paul VI carefully distinguished the respective roles of private individuals and the public authorities, harmonising the demands of solidarity and subsidiarity:
    “33. Individual initiative alone and the interplay of competition will not ensure satisfactory development. We cannot proceed to increase the wealth and power of the rich while we entrench the needy in their poverty and add to the woes of the oppressed. Organized programs are necessary for “directing, stimulating, coordinating, supplying and integrating” (John XXIII, Encyc.letter Mater et Magistra: AAS 53 (1961), 414) the work of individuals and intermediary organizations.
    It is for the public authorities to establish and lay down the desired goals, the plans to be followed, and the methods to be used in fulfilling them; and it is also their task to stimulate the efforts of those involved in this common activity. But they must also see to it that private initiative and intermediary organizations are involved in this work. In this way they will avoid total collectivization and the dangers of a planned economy which might threaten human liberty and obstruct the exercise of man’s basic human rights.”

  • This is what frustrates me with talking with some Catholics (no really, I had this exchange with Bad Catholic once).

    They have in mind a meaning of social justice that we’ll call c!sj. Leftists have in mind a meaning (as demonstrated above in the excellent video) of social justice that we’ll call l!sj.

    Now in general discussions, many Catholics end up on the side of leftists because they hear them talk about “social justice” and assume c!sj is meant (when in fact it is l!sj), thus leftists are allies. Likewise when they hear rightists oppose “social justice”, they assume c!sj is meant. When in fact in both cases, the l!sj is what the left and right are meaning. Thus you have things like Shea’s post today, “A smart & moving letter”.

    If we were to use animals as metaphors, Catholics would be sheep (no offense, but the boss is a shepherd, remember?), rightists would be donkeys (because they can be used as guard animals), and leftists would be wolves in sheep’s clothing. Right & Catholic should be natural allies, but because the wolf wears a disguise and makes all the right noise, the donkey is dismissed as an enemy because it’s just too different.

    And so we have today, where the wolf has begun to eat the flock, while the sheep beg and plead for it to remember their old friendship.

    (and yes, the metaphor also applies to those sheep who say they’re against wolves and donkeys both and purely for sheep – if anything they are even easier to deceive than those who admit they have chosen a side)

  • There is a lot of talk about social justice. But with God there is only mercy on one side of the coin and justice on the other, and it isn’t called social justice. His eternal justice should scare the living hell right out of us. God doesn’t look just at income inequality. He sees more than 1 million babies murdered annually in the US, and the open promotion of same sex marriage and all the other innumerable crimes against humanity that cry out for vengeance, and His vengeance is a terrible thing. Just ask Kings Manasseh, Zedekiah and the others who thought differently.

    Domine Deus, miserere nobis et totius mundi.

  • When I read this post, I immediately thought of the parable of the Good Samaritan giving comfort and life but also providing that others ought to give comfort and life in the spirit of social Justice. The good Samaritan loved the injured victim. The High Priest did not love the victim. Nor did the others. Compassion is social justice. Compassion is taught by compassionate people.
    .
    Our society reeks of selfishness. Selfishness is adored and glorified. Selfishness is the High Priest of the parable. “Hooray for me, to hell with you” as the saying goes.
    .
    Government is made up of people. Like the church, who, without priests cannot exist, so, too, the government, who, without citizens cannot exist. The government in and of itself owns nothing but must take from its citizens what it gives and uses. The citizens must exercise the virtue of compassion and give to others the means to survive, their just due. Giving to others what they want is extortion and taxation without representation for there is no group of citizens who owes another group of citizens what that other group demands or wants, but only what anyone and everyone needs to survive…and in love and compassion, a two way street. The victim could not have lived without a love for his rescuer. The Samaritan’s good works delivered the victim from evil.

  • Why can’t you just say “justice.” Isn’t “justice” enough? “Social” refers to “groups”, does it not? So isn’t “social justice” really “group justice?”

  • I believe justice is defined thus: “To reward or punish based on merit”.

    Are the actions here discussed a reward or a punishment?
    No?
    Then please; let’s drop the term “justice”.
    Social justice may refer, I suppose, to the punishment of a group/society. Paul P’s description is probably best.

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  • exNOAAman wrote “believe justice is defined thus: “To reward or punish based on merit”.

    Perhaps, the most famous definition is contained in the opening lines of the Institutes of Justinian, “Iustitia est constans et perpetua voluntas ius suum cuique tribuens” = Justice is the constant and perpetual intention to give to each his own.

    Thus, Ulpian says in the Digest, “Iuris praecepta sunt haec: honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere” = These are the precepts of the law: to live uprightly, not to harm another, to give to each his own [Dig.1.1.10.1 Ulpianus 1 reg]

    It is the foundational principle of the Roman and Civil law, the basis of the jurisprudence of every civilised nation.

  • “group Justice” would refer to the government which is a group. Social Justice would refer to society with government at its head. The voice of the people is Congress. The will of the people must be heard on the ballot.

  • It should be called “Socialist Injustice”

  • DJ Hesselius on Thursday, March 27, A.D. 2014 at 2:31pm (Edit)
    Why can’t you just say “justice.” Isn’t “justice” enough? “Social” refers to “groups”, does it not? So isn’t “social justice” really “group justice?”

    No, actually. That’s a large part of the point.

    The left is using “social justice” to mean treating people as parts of a group to be balanced; the right is more likely to think that “make laws that promote justice” is an inherent purpose of laws.

    Justice in the Catholic sense; read here: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08571c.htm
    It is a moral quality or habit which perfects the will and inclines it to render to each and to all what belongs to them. Of the other cardinal virtues, prudence perfects the intellect and inclines the prudent man to act in all things according to right reason. Fortitude controls the irascible passions; and temperance moderates the appetites according as reason dictates. While fortitude and temperance are self-regarding virtues, justice has reference to others. Together with charity it regulates man’s intercourse with his fellow men. But charity leads us to help our neighbour in his need out of our own stores, while justice teaches us to give to another what belongs to him.
    and
    Justice between man and man is called individual, particular, or commutative justice, because it is chiefly concerned with contracts and exchange. Individual justice is distinguished from social, for not only individuals have claims in justice against other individuals but a subject has claims against the society to which he belongs, as society has claims against him. Justice requires that all should have what belongs to them, and so the just man will render to the society, or State, of which he is a member, what is due to it. The justice which prescribes this is called legal justice. On the other hand, the individual subject has claims against the State. It is the function of the State to protect its subjects in their rights and to govern the whole body for the common good. Authority for this purpose is given to the State by nature and by God, the Author of man’s social nature.

    Pretty clearly NOT about balancing of groups— and small wonder that the more nasty folks would want this term destroyed!
    The rights aren’t granted by the state, but must be PROTECTED by it?
    Goodness.

  • Our church has always been the most successful and efficient engine for providing true SJ. The sad reality that when gov entities wish and even demand to take charge of this process only means a less efficient result and a less just reward.

  • Social Justice as explicated in this article has next to nothing in common with the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church. This is important to keep in mind as people rightly criticize and reject this ‘socialism in sheep’s clothing’. This is not Catholic Social Doctrine, which offers true light on the subject.

  • Botolph, good point, given that the left has hijacked the term.

  • According to Père Henri-Dominique Lacordaire OP, who re-founded the Dominicans in France after the Revolution and was reckoned the most eloquent preacher of his day, “”Between the weak and the strong, between the rich and the poor, between the master and the servant, it is freedom which oppresses and the law which sets free.”

Rational Evil

Wednesday, October 30, AD 2013

Dennis Prager , in this episode of his Prager University series of videos, takes on an ever popular heresy:  evil is irrational.  This heresy is popular for any number of reasons but doubtless it all boils down to the belief, completely unfounded in human experience, that reasonable people will agree on what is good and what is evil.  The experience of the last half century in the West should have knocked that bit of foolishness into a cocked hat.  Agreement on good and evil in practice is largely a matter of convention.   If the social norms of a people come under challenge, we quickly see apparently reasonable people disagreeing on such fundamental questions as whether an unborn child has a right to life, or whether sex outside of marriage is evil. 

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13 Responses to Rational Evil

  • I sometimes fancy that Natural Law thinking has done real harm to Christian witness and provided a cover for civic religion.
    The Neo-Thomists had developed a theory of Natural Law, based on Suarez’s interpretation, or rather, travesty of St Thomas. They had talked of a “natural order,” governed by Natural Law, consisting of truths accessible to unaided human reason, as something that can be kept separate from the supernatural truths revealed in the Gospel. This “two-tier” account of nature and grace was based on this view that the addition of “grace” was something super-added to a human nature that was already complete and sufficient in itself and apart from any intrinsic human need
    In the memorable exchange in 1910, in Blondel’s publication, L’Annales de philosophie chrétienne, between Maurras’s Jesuit defender, Descoqs and the Oratorian Lucien Laberthonnière, Descoqs, a follower of Suarez’s interpretation of St Thomas had allowed the political sphere a wide degree of political autonomy and he was prepared to detach “political society” from “religious society.” Laberthonnière had retaliated by accusing Descoqs of being influenced by “a false theological notion of some state of pure nature and therefore imagined the state could be self-sufficient in the sense that it could be properly independent of any specifically Christian sense of justice.”
    So far as I know, this exchange has never appeared in English, which is astonishing, as it was what united such disparate thinkers as Blondel, Maréchal, the Dominicans, Chenu and Congar and the Jesuits, Lubac and Daniélou. It was a fundamental moment for the Nouvelle Théologie, much as Keble’s Assize Sermon had been for the Oxford Movement.
    Thus, Maurice Blondel, insisted that we must never forget “that one cannot think or act anywhere as if we do not all have a supernatural destiny. Because, since it concerns the human being such as he is, in concreto, in his living and total reality, not in a simple state of hypothetical nature, nothing is truly complete (boucle), even in the sheerly natural order”
    Jacques Maritain, too, declared that “the knowledge of human actions and of the good conduct of the human State in particular can exist as an integral science, as a complete body of doctrine, only if related to the ultimate end of the human being . . . the rule of conduct governing individual and social life cannot therefore leave the supernatural order out of account” and “Man is not in a state of pure nature, he is fallen and redeemed. Consequently, ethics, in the widest sense of the word, that is, in so far as it bears on all practical matters of human action, politics and economics, practical psychology, collective psychology, sociology, as well as individual morality,—ethics in so far as it takes man in his concrete state, in his existential being, is not a purely philosophic discipline. Of itself it has to do with theology”

  • Preamble
    “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.”
    In the 52 words of the Preamble to the US Constitution, the Law of the Land lies the reason and purpose of the United States of America which cannot be corrupted, not changed because the Preamble addresses the human rights of : “We, the people of the United States of America”, past, present and future generations. The human rights of all people, the human species, conceived as sovereign persons, innocent and virgin, perfect, until visited by the sins of corruption and concupiscence of their fathers.
    Had Adam, the first human being, told Eve, his wife, that “NO” I am not eating the apple”, Eve’s corruption would have been annihilated, as a husband has rule over his wife’s vows, oaths and indiscretions. The human race might have come into being, as each individual might come into being under Adam’s correct, politically correct and perfect obedience to “their Creator” for the common good.
    Correctness is necessary for the common good. Correctness is spelled out in The Preamble. “ 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,” Our posterity are all future generations yet to be born known only to God in God’s infinite wisdom. “ and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and to our posterity” brought forward from all past generations, our posterity are guaranteed the “Blessings of Liberty”
    “do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” “do ordain”, that is to make into law and establish this law throughout the land.

    “Violation of the Preamble to the Law of the Land, our United States Constitution is violation of “We, the people”, past generations, the now generation and all future generations. The Law is alive and living in time and in eternity, now and forever.
    The dictates of being human are inscribed in the Preamble.
    If the Liberal Left does not like it, they can go live somewhere else. Being inhuman and overriding another sovereign person’s human rights is demonic. Evil is practiced by the demonic.

  • “Descoqs, a follower of Suarez’s interpretation of St Thomas…” “Human existence is the criterion for the objective ordering of human rights.” Francisco Suarez

  • But Suarez overlooked St Thomas, where he says, ““even though by his nature man is inclined to his ultimate end, he cannot reach it by nature but only by grace, and this owing to the loftiness of that end.” [In Boethius de Trinitate, q. 6, a. 4 ad 5.] for he says, “the happiness of any rational creature whatsoever consists in seeing God by his essence” [In IV Sent, d. 49, q. 2, a. 7:]

    Again, St Thomas says, ““The nature that can attain perfect good, although it needs help from without in order to attain it, is of more noble condition than a nature which cannot attain perfect good, but attains some imperfect good, although it need no help from without in order to attain it.” [ST I-II, q. 5, a. 5 ad 2] and he quotes Aristotle as saying “that which we are able to do through friends we can in a certain way do on our own.”

    This is also the teaching of St Augustine, when he says, in the first line of the Confessions, “You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

  • To the extent I’m following your reasoning Michael (if I’m following your reasoning because I’m not at all familiar with the debate you describe), I’d say that, at least as far as the good ol’ U. S. of A is concerned, our prevailing schools of social thought are predominantly structural and post-structural, i.e. social rather than moral, so I don’t see where natural law fits in to our present debates, except perhaps by its absence.

  • Excellent post. None are more evil than the quintessentially rational liberal who in defying self as god condemns unborn babies to death because it is the reasonable thing to do.

  • Ernst Schreiber
    Descoqs had urged Catholic support for Charles Maurras and his ultra-nationalist political party, Action Française because Maurras, though an atheist, who did not recognize the supernatural constitution of the Church, nevertheless had great esteem for the Catholic Church, along with the monarchy, as “the rampart of order” and assigned her a privileged position in his new order.
    Descoqs argued that Catholics could collaborate with positivists like Maurras, because “these latter have very just, though incomplete and ‘deficient’ ideas on several points: order, authority, [and] tradition.” (In other words, they were neo-fascists.) He maintained the natural order has “its proper value and relative independence” and insisted on maintaining the “essential distinction…between purely political and economic questions and moral and religious questions.” Laberthonnière, Blondel and their supporters insisted otherwise; for them, the two were inseparable. That was the crux of the quarrel.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour,
    You are certainly correct on the misreading/misinterpretation of Saint Thomas first by Suarez, then by the Neo-Thomists writing after the call by Pope Leo XIII for a return to Thomas as a perennial philosophical/theological system. I will not get into the specifics of the late 19th century French Political questions.

    Thomas was building his system fundamentally on Augustine, the Doctor of Grace. Thomas however enhanced the place of creation/nature, while Augustine had done so with grace. While Thomas emphasized the distinction of grace and nature ( in much the same way as Chalcedon emphasized the two natures of Christ) he never radically separated them, as did Suarez and the later Neo-Thomists ( actually creating a ‘Nestorian-like’ theology of nature and grace). Thomas held to the profound and fundamental unity of nature and grace given by Augustine (analogously giving us the unity of the Person of Christ of the Council of Ephesus). Thomas saw grace perfecting (or building on) nature. This axiom does not only give us the distinction of nature and grace, but reveals that nature is perfected, most fully itself when graced. As Saiint Irenaeus would write (in 187 AD) “The Glory of God is man fully alive and man fully alive sees the Face of God”. This is a far cry from the almost accidental relationship between nature and grace in Suarez et al.

    It is in this light that we need to see Thomas’ teaching on Natural Law. Thomas believed that the Eternal Law in the mind of God is revealed first in Natural Law then completed or perfected by Divine Law (revealed in both Old and New Testament). As nature is ‘perfected’ by grace, according to Thomas, so natural law is ‘perfected’ by Divine Law. This is fully revealed when we realize that what the New Testament reveals is the Law of the Spirit (grace) with Christ Himself as our new Norm.

    To return to the actual point of the above article, especially quoting Jihn Adams, then this dynamic, completing, fulfilling, perfecting relationship of grace to nature, reveals just how fundamental moral and religious people are to the commonweal.

  • Great post. Made me think of th evil of the Reign of Terror, dedicated as it was to Reason.

  • “Made me think of the evil of the Reign of Terror, dedicated as it was to Reason.”

    To eat of the Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was the REASONABLE thing to do:

    Genesis 3:6

    So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food [the lust of the flesh],
    that it was pleasant to the eyes [the lust of the eyes],
    and a tree desirable to make one wise [the pride of life],
    she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.

    But Jesus did NOT do the logical, REASONABLE thing in Luke 4:1-13 and Matthew 4:1-11.

    He did NOT turn the stones into bread [the lust of the flesh].
    He did NOT bow down to worship Satan at the sight of all the kingdoms of the world [the lust of the eyes]
    He being empowered as God did NOT dash Himself down from a great height [the pride of life]

    Reason unbridled by religious charity always leads to the dominance of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. It is unreasonable to humble one’s self. But to do otherwise is to forsake eternal life in Heaven for Esau’s REASONABLE bowl of porridge.

    1st John 2:15-17

    15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

  • I am not sure how to express this, but here it goes:
    There is some excellent argument offered at this site that when I have the time to read I am glad of it. However, it comes across as a closed discussion among a few individuals trying to prove this or that to the other one with a few listeners, like me, listening in. That’s fine if this is the purpose of The American Catholic. However, my first impression was that The American Catholic was intended to permeate the general American Catholic population, welcoming discussion, encouraging thought and dare I say, nourishing conversion while presenting Truth. Granted it would be a slow process and the general Catholic population is woefully ignorant of our faith, but it seems to me that is where we have to go and “elevate.”
    I have not often replied, but I have on a few occasions and only once did one person reply. Following the thread of several discussions it suggests to me the usual pattern is engagement of those few persons known in a sort of intellectual parry. Again, fine if that is your purpose and for the few, informative and interesting. But with no disrespect intended, in fact only admiration, I still yearn to discover a vehicle for reaching, inviting, enticing, engaging a broader population. Perhaps I am very mistaken and you have a large and growing participants. If so, I gladly stand corrected of my ignorant impressions.

  • We have far more readers than those who are actively involved in the comboxes. Our daily hits vary from a usual 4,500 up to a high of 12,000. Our hard core of commenters is usually about fifty individuals with the individuals changing somewhat over time. A highly popular post will usually have comments from people outside of the core. I am always interested in comments from people who do not regularly comment, because new insights are always welcome. (Unless they are crazy of course. 🙂 )

  • Kevin,

    Perhaps I have been one of those to whom you refer. I am sorry if I have come across as just wanting to carry on a conversation with just a few. That is not my intention

    I suggest you jump in. If it seems I have not really responded to your point. Point it out to me. Faith filled, reasoned questions and discussions are what we try to attain here

God and Suffering

Tuesday, October 15, AD 2013

 

As superb look at suffering by Dr. Peter Kreeft, courtesy of Prager University.  I agree with his division of suffering into what Man causes through our actions, wars are a classic example, and suffering caused by nature, the type of suffering caused by the seizure that took the life of my son Larry on May 19, 2013.  He is also correct that when we cry out against such suffering inflicted by nature we are appealing to a standard that presupposes a God, since nature cares not a whit about human suffering or the lack thereof.  It is only by belief in God that the scales of what occurs to us in this brief life are ever balanced.  To us death is often regarded as the greatest of evils.  To God physical death is merely our gateway to Him.  CS Lewis captured this perfectly in Letter 28 of his Screwtape Letters:

They, of course, do tend to regard death as the prime evil and survival as the greatest good. But that is because we have taught them to do so. Do not let us be infected by our own propaganda. I know it seems strange that your chief aim at the moment should be the very same thing for which the patient’s lover and his mother are praying – namely his bodily safety. But so it is; you should be guarding him like the apple of your eye. If he dies now, you lose him. If he survives the war, there is always hope. The Enemy has guarded him from you through the first great wave of temptations. But, if only he can be kept alive, you have time itself for your ally. The long, dull monotonous years of middle-aged prosperity or middle-aged adversity are excellent campaigning weather. You see, it is so hard for these creatures to persevere. The routine of adversity, the gradual decay of youthful loves and youthful hopes, the quiet despair (hardly felt as pain) of ever overcoming the chronic temptations with which we have again and again defeated them, the drabness which we create in their lives and the inarticulate resentment with which we teach them to respond to it – all this provides admirable opportunities of wearing out a soul by attrition. If, on the other hand, the middle years prove prosperous, our position is even stronger. Prosperity knits a man to the World. He feels that he is “finding his place in it”, while really it is finding its place in him. His increasing reputation, his widening circle of acquaintances, his sense of importance, the growing pressure of absorbing and agreeable work, build up in him a sense of being really at home in earth which is just what we want. You will notice that the young are generally less unwilling to die than the middle-aged and the old.

The truth is that the Enemy, having oddly destined these mere animals to life in His own eternal world, has guarded them pretty effectively from the danger of feeling at home anywhere else. That is why we must often wish long life to our patients; seventy years is not a day too much for the difficult task of unravelling their souls from Heaven and building up a firm attachment to the earth. While they are young we find them always shooting off at a tangent. Even if we contrive to keep them ignorant of explicit religion, the incalculable winds of fantasy and music and poetry – the mere face of a girl, the song of a bird, or the sight of a horizon – are always blowing our whole structure away. They will not apply themselves steadily to worldly advancement, prudent connections, and the policy of safety first. So inveterate is their appetite for Heaven that our best method, at this stage, of attaching them to earth is to make them believe that earth can be turned into Heaven at some future date by politics or eugenics or “science” or psychology, or what not. Real worldliness is a work of time – assisted, of course, by pride, for we teach them to describe the creeping death as good sense or Maturity or Experience. Experience, in the peculiar sense we teach them to give it, is, by the bye, a most useful word. A great human philosopher nearly let our secret out when he said that where Virtue is concerned “Experience is the mother of illusion”; but thanks to a change in Fashion, and also, of course, to the Historical Point of View, we have largely rendered his book innocuous.

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10 Responses to God and Suffering

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  • I’ve heard a number of Professor Kreeft’s talks and my wife and I got to meet him once…he is a very gracious man. He also did an adult Catechesis series, Luke E Hart, which is on the Knights of Columbus website in both PDF and audio book. It’s a good 30-part series for any Catholic raised in the latter half of the 20th century and beyond as well as anyone interested in a summary of the Catholic faith.

    On a related note, I find it intriguing that some of the best modern Catholic apologists weren’t cradle Catholics (Kreeft was Calvinist)…and Lewis, though he disappointed Tolkien by not swimming the Tiber, was an atheist before he joined the Church of England. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain is a pretty good work related to the topics of suffering as well. The audiobook is strangely appropriate for mowing a yard or working in a garden…

  • Sorry for your son, Donald. My prayers for you and your family.

  • Thank you Pedro. I believe my son is now enjoying the Beatific Vision and that is a great consolation.

  • For over 8 years, every day has been filled with some level of pain because both knees are affected with degenerative arthritis. I can barely make it around with a cane. I could moan and say why me? But I accept it as a blessing because it gives me a tremendous chance to emulate the suffering of Our Lord and offer it to help the poor souls in Purgatory atone. Advil helps blunt the pain but never completely removes it. I pray to God only for perseverance. I am confident that those I help are helping to sustain me. I am 86, and when I leave this world, I don’t believe I will leave it alone. That also sustains me, and I don’t think I will lose my joyful sense of humor until the day after.

  • “I am 86, and when I leave this world, I don’t believe I will leave it alone.”

    Right you are Robert!

  • So often, it seems to me, angelic children, like Larry, run ahead to enjoy the Beatific Vision, leaving their families in deep grief. Perhaps the suffering that families endure over the loss of a beloved child is refining, purgatorial, and is God’s way of preparing the bereaved for reunion with that beloved child to enjoy the Beatific Vision together for all eternity. Dostoyevsky wrote, “The darker the night, the brighter the stars, the deeper the grief, the closer is God.”

    May God and His Holy Angels surround you and your family with kindness and comfort.

  • Thank you Ginny! That is precisely the way I like to look at it. Larry was always running ahead of the family when we were going to some favored destination, and now I look upon him as a Heavenly Advance Guard for the rest of my family.

  • Pope John Paul II (and Job) taught:

    “Suffering – as I wrote in the Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris – […] Christ does not explain in some abstract way the reasons for sufferings, but says first of all: “Follow me”, Come, with your suffering share in this work of salvation of the world, which is realized through my suffering, by means of my Cross” (n 26). …

    “Suffering is transformed when we experience in ourselves the closeness and solidarity of the living God: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last…I shall see God my savior” (Job 19:25-26). With this assurance comes inner peace, and from this a spiritual joy, quiet and deep, springing from the “gospel of suffering” which understands the grandeur and dignity of human beings who suffer with a generous spirit and offer their pain “as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (Rom 12:1). This is why those who suffer are no burden to others, but with their suffering contribute to the salvation of all.”