As a rule, I’ve found that the greater brain a man has, and the better he is educated, the easier it has been to mystify him.
-- Harry Houdini
For some slice-of-life reading this Hallowe'en, check out this interesting piece in TakiMag about the unlikely friendship and falling out of two of the great entertainers of their age, Harry Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Arise, O Lord, and judge your own cause. Remember your reproaches to those who are filled with foolishness all through the day. Listen to our prayers, for foxes have arisen seeking to destroy the vineyard whose winepress you alone have trod. When you were about to ascend to your Father, you committed the care, rule, and administration of the vineyard, an image of the triumphant church, to Peter, as the head and your vicar and his successors. The wild boar from the forest seeks to destroy it and every wild beast feeds upon it.
Rise, Peter, and fulfill this pastoral office divinely entrusted to you as mentioned above. Give heed to the cause of the holy Roman Church, mother of all churches and teacher of the faith, whom you by the order of God, have consecrated by your blood. Against the Roman Church, you warned, lying teachers are rising, introducing ruinous sects, and drawing upon themselves speedy doom. Their tongues are fire, a restless evil, full of deadly poison. They have bitter zeal, contention in their hearts, and boast and lie against the truth.
We beseech you also, Paul, to arise. It was you that enlightened and illuminated the Church by your doctrine and by a martyrdom like Peter's. For now a new Porphyry rises who, as the old once wrongfully assailed the holy apostles, now assails the holy pontiffs, our predecessors.
Rebuking them, in violation of your teaching, instead of imploring them, he is not ashamed to assail them, to tear at them, and when he despairs of his cause, to stoop to insults. He is like the heretics "whose last defense," as Jerome says, "is to start spewing out a serpent's venom with their tongue when they see that their causes are about to be condemned, and spring to insults when they see they are vanquished." For although you have said that there must be heresies to test the faithful, still they must be destroyed at their very birth by your intercession and help, so they do not grow or wax strong like your wolves. Finally, let the whole church of the saints and the rest of the universal church arise. Some, putting aside her true interpretation of Sacred Scripture, are blinded in mind by the father of lies. Wise in their own eyes, according to the ancient practice of heretics, they interpret these same Scriptures otherwise than the Holy Spirit demands, inspired only by their own sense of ambition, and for the sake of popular acclaim, as the Apostle declares. In fact, they twist and adulterate the Scriptures. As a result, according to Jerome, "It is no longer the Gospel of Christ, but a man's, or what is worse, the devil's."
Let all this holy Church of God, I say, arise, and with the blessed apostles intercede with almighty God to purge the errors of His sheep, to banish all heresies from the lands of the faithful, and be pleased to maintain the peace and unity of His holy Church.
For we can scarcely express, from distress and grief of mind, what has reached our ears for some time by the report of reliable men and general rumor; alas, we have even seen with our eyes and read the many diverse errors. Some of these have already been condemned by councils and the constitutions of our predecessors, and expressly contain even the heresy of the Greeks and Bohemians. Other errors are either heretical, false, scandalous, or offensive to pious ears, as seductive of simple minds, originating with false exponents of the faith who in their proud curiosity yearn for the world's glory, and contrary to the Apostle's teaching, wish to be wiser than they should be. Their talkativeness, unsupported by the authority of the Scriptures, as Jerome says, would not win credence unless they appeared to support their perverse doctrine even with divine testimonies however badly interpreted. From their sight fear of God has now passed.
[after a list of specific errors taught by Luther...]
With the advice and consent of these our venerable brothers, with mature deliberation on each and every one of the above theses, and by the authority of almighty God, the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and our own authority, we condemn, reprobate, and reject completely each of these theses or errors as either heretical, scandalous, false, offensive to pious ears or seductive of simple minds, and against Catholic truth. By listing them, we decree and declare that all the faithful of both sexes must regard them as condemned, reprobated, and rejected . . . We restrain all in the virtue of holy obedience and under the penalty of an automatic major excommunication....
Moreover, because the preceding errors and many others are contained in the books or writings of Martin Luther, we likewise condemn, reprobate, and reject completely the books and all the writings and sermons of the said Martin, whether in Latin or any other language, containing the said errors or any one of them; and we wish them to be regarded as utterly condemned, reprobated, and rejected. We forbid each and every one of the faithful of either sex, in virtue of holy obedience and under the above penalties to be incurred automatically, to read, assert, preach, praise, print, publish, or defend them. They will incur these penalties if they presume to uphold them in any way, personally or through another or others, directly or indirectly, tacitly or explicitly, publicly or occultly, either in their own homes or in other public or private places. Indeed immediately after the publication of this letter these works, wherever they may be, shall be sought out carefully by the ordinaries and others [ecclesiastics and regulars], and under each and every one of the above penalties shall be burned publicly and solemnly in the presence of the clerics and people.
Or, as I like to call it, I need to check my spam filter more often. The two news items below were kindly sent to me but were lost in my hotmail spam filter. Here they are: A local Catholic couple have produced a song and music video in support of the Bishops' effort on protection of conscience. Jennifer Brinker covered this in the Review. And, if you are in Fort Worth, TX on November 8, Fisher-More College is presenting its next Year of Faith Lecture Series installment: A Night with G.K. Chesterton. Information here. Oh technology! You have your limits!
I thought I would pass on this action request from parentalrights.org about the effort to prevent the parental rights- and homeschooling- infringing CRPD convention from being ratified by the US Senate during the upcoming lame duck session:
The Looming Threat of the CRPD
This summer a powerful effort was made in the U.S. Senate to adopt the U.N.’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), a human rights treaty like the CRC. And like that instrument, the CRPD also provides that “the best interests of the child” should be a primary consideration in all cases concerning children. This is a “term of art” in international law which is used to defend and promote the idea that governments and not parents should make decisions for children.
The CRPD passed out of Senate committee on July 26, and was brought to the floor for a general consensus vote on September 19. If Senator Lee of Utah had not been present to halt the maneuver, CRPD ratification may have passed then and there.
Take Action to Halt This Dangerous Treaty!
We have long believed that the lame duck session poses a big threat regarding this treaty, and we are even more convinced as it draws closer. That’s why right now is the time to act.
We need to make sure that when the Senate reconvenes in two weeks they know we are still watching, and we still oppose this treaty. We need your help tomorrow, October 31, to get that message out through a concerted one-day social media campaign.
Here’s all you need to do:
1. Post to your Facebook wall or Twitter feed (or both!) that you oppose this treaty as a violation of parental rights and American sovereignty. Include the “hashtags” #CRPD or #UNCRPD in your posts so that others looking for comments on this topic will see what you have to say.
If you don't have a Facebook or Twitter account, consider creating one just for this purpose - it is that important!
2. Using the same hashtags, find your senators’ Twitter feeds or Facebook fan pages and leave a comment there. They will not see your page, but they have staffers monitoring theirs who will see your comments and take note.
3. Pass it on to all of your friends. A lot of organizations have come out in support of this treaty because they simply do not understand the impact it will have on American and international law. We must make our voices heard before it is too late!
Here is an example of how to use a hashtag in a Twitter feed comment (“tweet”): “Oppose the #UNCRPD – a violation of #parentalrights and U.S. self-government!”
(The sample tweet also uses our own #parentalrights hashtag, but your comments do not have to.)
Please post several comments or tweets in your own words throughout the day to keep this issue in front of policy makers and the general public.
Then, be ready for a call blitz to the Senate – coming soon! Thank you for standing with us to keep these treaties from taking away our parental rights!
Sincerely, Michael Ramey Director of Communications & Research
My first reaction was to think, "Well, it sure did a bang-up job of it." But I initially let it go.
Today, however, I read the article more closely and was struck by one quote which really gets to me, as it is the kind of mantra that is repeated as fact without any empirical evidence. It is just assumed as a "duh" point-- namely, that the vernacular language of the new Mass made it easy for ordinary Catholics to understand and led to greater participation in the Mass.
Here is the relevant paragraph:
Sister Catherine Vincie, RSHM, of Aquinas Institute gave a detailed
report on the work of the council document. She noted that the landslide
vote in favor of the document was a surprise to many. The liturgical
movement had its roots in the late 19th century, she said, benefiting
from the discovery of liturgical tests of the early centuries and the
role played by monasteries. It led to the active participation of the
faithful and greater understanding of the rites, Sister Catherine said.
Now, the first thing with which I would quibble is Sr. Catherine's linkage of the Conciliar document on the Mass with the Liturgical Movement of the Nineteenth Century. Probably the most well-known figure in the Liturgical Movement was Dom Prosper Gueranger, author of The Liturgical Year. Yes, the Liturgical Movement sought to increase the "comprehension" and "participation" of the laity at Mass. But merely using these terms does not mean that the movers in the Liturgical Movement would have agreed with the Mass that arose by committee after the Council was long finished. I can't see Dom Gueranger beaming down from Heaven over the promulgation of the New Mass as the capstone of all his efforts. Moreover, the conciliar document on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, did not call for many of the novelties that appeared in the Novus Ordo Missae of 1969. Yet all of this is always assumed. Just assumed. So, of course the Mass in English will cause English speakers to understand "what's going on" and thus will cause them to better "participate" in it. And yet, it really hasn't. Has it?
So, though I try not to comment on articles online, in the end I couldn't resist. It's probably a mistake, and maybe the Review won't even run it. But here it is:
"It led to the active participation of the faithful and greater understanding of the rites, Sister Catherine said."
Sure it did--a bang-up job! And yet I don't know if the cataclysmic
drop in the number of Catholics who regularly attend Mass since 1969
really bears that theory out, though.
Along those lines, one reason often given for translating the
liturgical texts into the vernacular was ostensibly to ensure that the
faithful understood what was going on during the Mass. I wonder then
why so many priests spend so much time during Mass ad-libbing a tutorial
course on why such-and-such action of the Mass is taking place at
such-and-such a time, and giving mini-homilies throughout the liturgy.
DIdn't the vernacular solve the comprehension problem?
Or is it that the transcendence and mystery of the ancient Mass were
removed with no increase-- or perhaps a decrease-- of comprehension?
A mixed legacy, at least.
________________ I sometimes like to ask my Ordinary Form-attending friends and family who harp on the increased "active participation" at Mass this question: "At what moment of Mass are you most intensely, actively participating?" In my experience, the answer comes back 98% of the time as, "During the consecration/Eucharistic prayer."
To which I respond, "And what are you saying-- vocally, audibly-- at that moment?"
In other words, we don't need necessarily to hear ourselves speak to have a profound participation in the Sacred Liturgy.
About 2% of the time, the person responds with, "At Communion." And, though in the new Mass the Communicant says, "Amen," to the words, "The Body of Christ," essentially this is not a conversational moment either. So, I say, don't just assume that the changes to the Mass led to greater participation. After all, it is easier to participate more fully in the Mass if one actually attends Mass. So, if the changes in the Mass led to a steep decline in regular attendance, tell me again how the new Mass led to greater participation?
I don't think I jinxed the Cardinals last week when I posted about being spoiled by good baseball in this town, but they sure seemed to take the opportunity to stop playing good baseball ever since. I didn't take last night's loss too badly, because I immediately reflected on the fact that a very flawed team took its measure of talent and circumstance and still nearly went all the way, just a year after losing the second best player the team ever had, its manager, and several key players to injury. Count your blessings, I said to myself. How many fans in other cities would take the last thirteen months in exchange for a lifetime of disappointment (yes, I'm talking to Cubs fans)? And the situation in St. Louis, baseball-wise, looks good for the foreseeable future. Because as a Catholic matters of the temporal world always provide fodder for the spiritual life, if we just look at them in a different way, the above reflection made me think about the state of the local Church. Principally, I reflected on the loss of our "manager" and "key players" in the last several years, and the effect their departure has had on the local scene. It is no secret that I greatly prefer the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, and the traditional modes of Catholic practice in general. It is no secret that I greatly admire Cardinal Burke and his work here in revitalizing the faith. It is no secret that I love St. Francis de Sales Oratory and the work of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. Between 2004-2008, so much good was done on so many fronts of Catholic restoration in this Archdiocese that it was hard to keep track. Not only did the traditional Mass Apostolates grow, receive new and bigger Mass locations, and attract scads of new members, but in every area of the Church there was measurable improvement. The seminary became a beacon of vital, orthodox teaching, with growing numbers of seminarians-- particularly from this Archdiocese. Devotion to the Eucharist and to the Sacred Heart were consistently encouraged. The tenets of the faith, and the laws of the Church were defended against heresy, schism and dissent. The flock was shepherded by a caring shepherd who did not live in the world of ambiguous formulations of the teachings of Christ-- he stood by the "hard sayings" that make up part of the "easy yoke" and "light burden" of the faith.
Cardinal Burke's policies defended the faith, provided clarity, and embraced the whole of Catholic Tradition. His policies were vindicated by the actions of the Holy Father. Cardinal Burke was ahead of the curve on the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. He was ahead of the effort (late in coming as it was) to hold Catholic politicians to their faith in the exercise of their offices and to stand up to the anti-Catholic secular government. Because he led, the faithful followed. Because he was faithful, he was attacked.
But Catholics were grateful for their shepherd, and I for one started this blog to do whatever small part I could to defend and support him. Over the years, this blog has done some good, and some bad, and has mostly been lame. But I don't regret starting it or writing it.
Since the Cardinal's elevation and departure for his post at the Apostolic Signatura, the momentum has waned a bit. Mr. Bozek continues to draw his check in a Church that is not his. Cardinal Burke's enemies in the press, the community and (unfortunately) in the Church have lost their timidity. The seminary has lost key faculty and there is a drop in local vocations. Though the traditional Mass Apostolates remain and are still growing, the rate and momentum of growth are less. The Burke reign was like a powerful and refreshing wave that hit the beach, seemingly out of nowhere.
Waves hit the shore, then recede.
It would be easy to point out the lack of the powerful wave these days, just as it would be easy for a Cardinals fan to focus on last night's loss and the departure of the old manager and key players. I know it's easy, because I've done it. Use this blog as an example: It still gets an amount of daily readership that is humbling to me, and which boggles my mind. But when Cardinal Burke was here, and when the growth of the traditional Mass really took off, the regular readership was about double what it is now. Moreover, my energy and desire to keep writing it were about ten times what they are now-- no doubt you've noticed.
And back then Saint Louis was not only relevant in the current events scene of the Universal Church, it was actually abeacon of hope. A leader. A light to others. In addition to more empirical measures, I personally know many people to came to live in St. Louis just because of the excitement of what was happening here. Some have now moved on, each for reasons unique to them, I guess. And St. Louis has resumed its role as a walking "slow news day". It is easy to complain. It is easy to point out the wave that is gone.
But I think that is not the right way to look at it. And it is time for some gratitude. When the tide is rising, each wave that hits the shore does recede. But the next wave hits higher. And if you move back to your spot on the beach without taking this fact into account, you will get washed out to sea-- or at least very wet. Hence, in this time of waiting for the next wave, I resolve to be grateful. Grateful for what we had, yes, but also grateful for what we have now. I came to the Traditional Catholic party very late, and it was easy to be spoiled by the magnitude of recent success. But if you could have told some of my friends who lived through 196519691984 1988 that in 2012 they would have a stable and beautiful place to attend the traditional Mass and an Ordinary who would leave them alone to do just that, they would have jumped for joy. So I am grateful for the present good. But more than anything, I resolve to be grateful for what is to come. After all, Christ is victorious. Nothing and no one can stop Him. All that is to come is from His will. And I believe Mary's Immaculate Heart will triumph, as she said at Fatima. I know that the wave that no worldling can withstand is coming; whether there is much or little suffering that we must endure before it comes is irrelevant. And the Spirit and the Bride say: Come. (Apoc.22:17) So, I will write on through the days between, and I thank you for reading here. Hopefully we will all be there to witness the better things to come.
I saw this lovely and helpful quote from St. Therese on the Saint Louis Crusade site, and thought I'd post it here: We should never allow kindness to degenerate into weakness. When we
have scolded someone with just reason, we must leave the matter there,
without allowing ourselves to be touched to the point of tormenting
ourselves for having caused pain or at seeing one suffer and cry. To run
after the afflicted one to console her does more harm than good.
Leaving her to herself forces her to have recourse to God in order to
see her faults and humble herself. Otherwise, accustomed to receiving
consolation after a merited reprimand, she will always act, in the same
circumstances, like a spoiled child, stamping her feet and crying until
her mother comes to dry her tears.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Her Last Conversations (Washington, D.C. Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1977)
Verbatim, from Rorate Caeli: Rorate has learned and can confirm that Bishop Richard Williamson,
one of the four bishops consecrated by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and
co-consecrated by Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer on June 30, 1988, in
Écône, Switzerland, for the Society of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX) has been removed from membership in said society by its Superior General, and can now be considered a former member.
The removal comes at the end of an internal procedure that included
repeated entreaties by the higher authorities of the Society regarding
Williamson's decisions and actions that apparently went unheeded.
Catholic theologian Fr. Edward Richard, back at his blogging best, takes on the Mass-as-entertainment disease affecting our parishes: ______________________ "The God Show"
In this year of faith, we have many reasons to examine ourselves and see how we can improve the living out of our faith. In terms of human achievement, when the only “duty” we hold anyone to, including God and ourselves, is that we get all we can, we can be sure that we will eventually lose everything of value. You simply cannot be a friend of God and excuse yourself from offering him the praise that is due by the complete sacrifice of your life. Authentic worship will always reflect that. This seems to be a most important moral matter.
I have an image to plant in your head. It's a TV “unreality” show. It's called the God Show. It happens every Sunday in Christian churches everywhere and the show is all about which of those churches can supply the most entertaining, participative, funny, feel-good experience that one can find. It's all about getting more people and more money, and, coincidentally keeping people from complaining about how boring Mass is.
One of the foundational principles of every religious sentiment is that God is supreme and is to be honored, adored and worshipped. What does worship mean? And why is it necessary? I ask this because it is easy to slip into thinking that God is like a kindly grandfather who would never punish his grand children. In these times, we do not often see God as one to whom profound sacrifice is to be offered. In modern terms, people today tend not to "feel" as though the most profound acts of sacrifice and worship are owed to God. Note, I did just say owed to God. This is a matter of justice and, thus, moral duty. One of the modern and popular errors regarding religion is thinking that religion and worship should make us feel good. Unfortunately, this thinking presents a great obstacle to spiritual growth. This sort of thinking turns the Mass into something we do for us, not something we offer to God and to which He invites us. It means that we will not conform our minds and hearts to God’s will, but to our collective view of the “values” we inject into worship at Mass.
When Jesus asks the question, Who among you would give your children a snake when they ask for bread, he turns the world's way of thinking on its head. We cannot say this of anyone or anything else, but we can say it of God: God only acts for your good. If that action of God looks like punishment or penance, and indeed it does at times--even in the case of his dearly beloved Son Jesus--it is always a door opening to supreme happiness. One might not like the taste of the medicine, but in God's way, this medicine always restores to health and always makes you better than you were before.
Authentic worship involves both elements, giving glory to God and the sanctification of believers. What current or trend is it that has virtually removed the Cross from our religious practice? Why has Catholic worship so often been made to try to be a vehicle that for recognizing this thing or that thing? Why do so many think that the way we celebrate Mass is supposed to be something that makes one feel happy? Are we really supposed to feel like we have had fun when we come to Mass? Or when did preaching in all the Christian communities turn into an ongoing monologue on ways to feel good about oneself?
There is no person's life that will allow them to believe for very long that living a good and holy life will not involve the carrying of the Cross. What a disservice we do to our God and to our faith when we turn Sunday into "The God Show." I do not deny that we can admit a little light-heartedness into our Sunday experience, but I ask you, how is it respectful of the truth of your life, if worship of God does not pull you more deeply into the mystery of Christ's suffering and sacrifice. Shouldn't you leave here understanding that your sorrow over a child's trouble has been taken up into the mystery of Christ's sacrifice? Shouldn't the reality of serious illness, anxiety about one's security, or loss of the love of one's life reflected in not only the way we feel, but also in what we say and do in our Sunday worship?
The person who understands the act of worshipping God will be disposed to finding true meaning in Christ's offer to us to take unto himself the trials and tribulations, humiliations, self-sacrifice, and genuine surrender into what we offer the Father at each Mass. This becomes a way life. Through him and with him and in him, all glory and honor is yours. From the offering of Christ, who takes to himself our sufferings and fears, we leave with an assurance that the week ahead will also be an offering of sarifice and praise to the Father that leads to true happiness for all eternity. We will see in that week and in each day a preparation for that final day when at last all of our burdens will be laid at His feet. We proclaim your death and profess your resurrection until you come again.
I enjoy baseball, and I used to love it. I still love playoff baseball. As a Cardinals fan I have been spoiled by usually good, and often great, baseball for the past sixteen years or so.
So, today, a couple of quick hits on the AL and NL Championship Series.
The most storied franchise in the AL got swept by the Tigers. So, Yankees players, why did you get swept? "It was our fans' fault."
And while A-Rod blamed two weeks of postseason futility at the plate, saying it “sucked the energy out of us," another player privately made a far more indicting observation: that the ballclub was affected by the hostility from the fans at Yankee Stadium last weekend.
“I really think the booing spooked a lot of guys," the player said. “A lot of guys hadn’t been booed before, and they couldn’t believe how nasty it got in the stands."
Obviously Nick Swisher admitted to being sensitive to such treatment after Game 2, but the player said Swisher was far from alone in his reaction.
“A lot of guys were talking about it in the clubhouse," he said. “I was surprised by how much it bothered them. I really don’t think they ever recovered."
If that’s true, well, so much for the big, bad Yankees.
I thought, well, that sure makes New York fan/media/team dysfunction the polar opposite of the fan/media/team treacly-sweet love fest we have in St. Louis.
I mean, anyone who has lived in this town for a day, or who even waits out a layover at Lambert Airport (do we still have any of those?) has had to endure the mantra of how St. Louis has the best fans in baseball, the most knowledgeable fans in baseball, etc. In short, the best baseball town anywhere. Baseball heaven, right? And, we have absolutely no chip in our shoulders towards more 'happening' cities on the coasts, do we? ;-).
Thus it was a chuckle that I read this little quip from a Grantland roundup by Shane Ryan of yesterday's sports action:
Adam Wainwright threw seven innings of four-hit ball and the Cardinals offense roughed up Tim Lincecum in an 8-3 win over the Giants, giving them a 3-1 lead in the NLCS. As usual, St. Louis fans used the win to congratulate themselves for their moral superiority over America's coastal cities.
Matt Carpenter, subbing for an injured Carlos Beltran, hit a two-run homer to lead the Cardinals to a 3-1 win over the Giants and a 2-1 lead in the NLCS. "Look, we're not saying for sure that Jesus is rooting for our team," said a statement released by Cardinals fans. "But how many times can you be led by a Carpenter before you start saying, OK, maybe something's happening here? Are we crazy? Are we being unreasonable? Or deep down, are the rest of you jealous that Jesus is a Cards fan? Be honest."
Look for this guy in an XXXXL size Prince Fielder replica jersey during the World Series. Wait, an authentic replica of a Fielder jersey? Then that's just a Medium.
Thou hast nor youth nor age But as it were an after dinner sleep Dreaming of both.
HERE I am, an old man in a dry month, Being read to by a boy, waiting for rain. I was neither at the hot gates Nor fought in the warm rain Nor knee deep in the salt marsh, heaving a cutlass, 5 Bitten by flies, fought. My house is a decayed house, And the jew squats on the window sill, the owner, Spawned in some estaminet of Antwerp, Blistered in Brussels, patched and peeled in London. 10 The goat coughs at night in the field overhead; Rocks, moss, stonecrop, iron, merds. The woman keeps the kitchen, makes tea, Sneezes at evening, poking the peevish gutter.
I an old man, 15 A dull head among windy spaces.
Signs are taken for wonders. “We would see a sign”: The word within a word, unable to speak a word, Swaddled with darkness. In the juvescence of the year Came Christ the tiger 20
In depraved May, dogwood and chestnut, flowering judas, To be eaten, to be divided, to be drunk Among whispers; by Mr. Silvero With caressing hands, at Limoges Who walked all night in the next room; 25 By Hakagawa, bowing among the Titians; By Madame de Tornquist, in the dark room Shifting the candles; Fraulein von Kulp Who turned in the hall, one hand on the door. Vacant shuttles Weave the wind. I have no ghosts, 30 An old man in a draughty house Under a windy knob.
After such knowledge, what forgiveness? Think now History has many cunning passages, contrived corridors And issues, deceives with whispering ambitions, 35 Guides us by vanities. Think now She gives when our attention is distracted And what she gives, gives with such supple confusions That the giving famishes the craving. Gives too late What’s not believed in, or if still believed, 40 In memory only, reconsidered passion. Gives too soon Into weak hands, what’s thought can be dispensed with Till the refusal propagates a fear. Think Neither fear nor courage saves us. Unnatural vices Are fathered by our heroism. Virtues 45 Are forced upon us by our impudent crimes. These tears are shaken from the wrath-bearing tree.
The tiger springs in the new year. Us he devours. Think at last We have not reached conclusion, when I Stiffen in a rented house. Think at last 50 I have not made this show purposelessly And it is not by any concitation Of the backward devils I would meet you upon this honestly. I that was near your heart was removed therefrom 55 To lose beauty in terror, terror in inquisition. I have lost my passion: why should I need to keep it Since what is kept must be adulterated? I have lost my sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch: How should I use it for your closer contact? 60
These with a thousand small deliberations Protract the profit of their chilled delirium, Excite the membrane, when the sense has cooled, With pungent sauces, multiply variety In a wilderness of mirrors. What will the spider do, 65 Suspend its operations, will the weevil Delay? De Bailhache, Fresca, Mrs. Cammel, whirled Beyond the circuit of the shuddering Bear In fractured atoms. Gull against the wind, in the windy straits Of Belle Isle, or running on the Horn, 70 White feathers in the snow, the Gulf claims, And an old man driven by the Trades To a a sleepy corner.
Tenants of the house, Thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season. 75
There is something more than ironic in a schism within a group accused of schism for the last quarter century. I have written on the Society many times; you can search the blog for my essential take. But this development is in no way good.
Disobedience to proper authority in a religious community is typically dealt with by a process set out by Canon Law, with the ultimate authority resting with the Holy Father. Of course, this assumes there is a regular chain of command where the community submits to the legitimacy of the process. Hence, Bishop Fellay occupies quite the tough spot.
As long as the Superior General could act the sole spokesman for the Society, then with one voice and will negotiations with Rome that would bring the whole group under the same agreement was at least possible, however likely or unlikely.
Bishop Williamson has made this nearly impossible, whether in good faith or not, and whether unfairly treated or not. Gleeful modernists in the official hierarchy were thus able to separate a possible agreement with "the SSPX" and bishop Fellay from any promises to the reluctant three, and especially to the central casting villain Bishop Williamson. Faced with some internal strife and the new CDF leadership changing terms at the last minute, with everyone's hopes raised high, Bishop Fellay had to reject new CDF language or face the destruction of his Society-- or so it seems, as none of us is privy to the actual texts under consideration.
If Rome and all SSPX bishops had agreed, the possible schism would end; regardless of how many priests or laymen followed suit, it wouldn't be macro-important. A real schism requires apostolic succession.
The only winner in this debacle is Satan, and those useful idiots who carry out his will in preventing the restoration of the beauty of the liturgy and the faith it embodies and guards.
If I were a Catholic attendee of the SSPX, I would be sick over this. But then every Catholic should be sick over this. There are lots of villains in this drama, and they can be found in London, Econe and Rome alike-- only the Good Lord knows who they are.
Corapi aborted his "rogue ministry." I can only pray Williamson does, too. Before it starts would be best.
And the Holy Father can end this whenever he wants.
42:1 Iúdica me, Deus, et discérne causam meam de gente non sancta, * ab hómine iníquo, et dolóso érue me. 42:2 Quia tu es, Deus, fortitúdo mea: * quare me repulísti? et quare tristis incédo, dum afflígit me inimícus? 42:3 Emítte lucem tuam et veritátem tuam: * ipsa me deduxérunt, et adduxérunt in montem sanctum tuum, et in tabernácula tua. 42:4 Et introíbo ad altáre Dei: * ad Deum, qui lætíficat iuventútem meam. 42:5 Confitébor tibi in cíthara, Deus, Deus meus: * quare tristis es, ánima mea? et quare contúrbas me? 42:6 Spera in Deo, quóniam adhuc confitébor illi: * salutáre vultus mei, et Deus meus. V. Glória Patri, et Fílio, * et Spirítui Sancto. R. Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, * et in sǽcula sæculórum. Amen.
Sorry that posting has been scarce lately. I've had some minor health issues, nothing serious, but I haven't had the opportunity to do any major writing. Hopefully back in the saddle tomorrow or Tuesday.
Rorate Caeli links to this article by Kenneth Wolfe in the Washington Post on the occasion of the the 50th Anniversary of the convocation of the Second Vatican Council. Until the dust settles on what is left of the Church, rocked as it has been for fifty years, I don't think we can reflect often enough on the revolution foisted on the Church in the name of this Council. We need to know what happened, to be armed with knowledge of the truth, to address the current situation and to do the works of evangelization and apologetics.
Vatican II at 50 by Kenneth J.Wolfe
Fifty years ago today the Second Vatican Council began with a clear
indication of who had gained control of the Catholic Church’s direction.
From the Latin Mass to meatless Fridays to the concept of salvation,
numerous components of the faith were set to be reformed, led mostly by
clerical academics who had served on preparatory commissions. So
powerful were they that Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, a conservative who
headed what is now the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (which
the future Pope Benedict XVI would later lead), was vocally heckled and
silenced by his participating colleagues.
As described to journalist Robert Moynihan by Monsignor Brunero
Gherardini, who attended the council and lives at the Vatican, Cardinal
Ottaviani was addressing the 2,000 assembled bishops in October 1962:
“As he speaks, pleading for the bishops to consider the texts the curia
has spent three years preparing, suddenly his microphone was shut off.
He kept speaking, but no one could hear a word. Then, puzzled and
flustered, he stopped speaking, in confusion. And the assembled fathers
began to laugh, and then to cheer...” This was on day three.
It turns out, according to Monsignor Gherardini, that it was Cardinal
Achille Lienart, a leading liberal from France serving on Vatican II’s
board of presidency, who cut Cardinal Ottaviani’s microphone. Ottaviani
would later author a major critique of the vernacular Mass that came out
of the council, a plea to Pope Paul VI that fell on deaf ears.
Some of the reformist-oriented clergy participating in the Second
Vatican Council would eventually rise through the ranks of the Catholic
Church. Karol Wojtyla (the future John Paul II), who was a young
archbishop in Cracow, was seen as the liberal counterweight to Cardinal
Stefan Wyszynski, who was the conservative, yet popular, primate of
Poland. Father Joseph Ratzinger (the future Benedict XVI), was the
periti (theological expert) for Cardinal Joseph Frings of Cologne,
writing the cardinal’s speeches for the council, including one calling
Cardinal Ottaviani’s Vatican office too traditional and authoritative.
Even though Raztinger had been ordained a priest over a decade ago, his
attire throughout the Second Vatican Council was a secular business suit
The results of holding a council during prosperity in order to
modernize the institution quickly became disastrous. While countless
priests, brothers and nuns quit, most Catholics stopped attending Mass
and the remaining Catholics largely embraced dissent. Even Pope Paul VI,
who led most of Vatican II, reflected 10 years after the council’s
opening with an infamous observation that “from some fissure the smoke
of Satan has entered the temple of God.”
Fast-forwarding, the Latin Mass has made a comeback, in part because
of the rightward-drifting Pope Benedict. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, head of
the church in the U.S., writes about restoring meatless Fridays and
fasting. And the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), a traditionalist order
of priests, has forced the Vatican to address the substance of the
Second Vatican Council. Religious liberty and the Mass are at the heart
of the talks, including whether the SSPX is permitted to simply ignore
these pastoral (as compared to dogmatic) writings. Ecumenism, which was
called “the enemy of the Immaculata” by Saint Maximilian Kolbe, a
Franciscan priest killed in a Nazi concentration camp, is being weighed
and discussed after 40 years of visits to mosques, temples and other
non-Catholic houses of worship with little conversions as a result. To
contrast, when Pope Pius XII negotiated with the chief rabbi of Rome,
the rabbi converted to Catholicism and chose Pius’ name of Eugenio as he
Defenders of the Second Vatican Council from a center-right
perspective have insisted that nearly all negative indicators of the
Catholic Church have stemmed from the “spirit of the Council.” As
seminaries continue to close (all but one remains in Ireland), parishes
continue to merge and convents are redeveloped, a key question ought to
be what tangible, positive results have occurred in those five decades.
No one has been able to point to an actual statistical benefit of
Vatican II and its 16 documents. Ironically, the only current growth in
vocations is in religious orders such as the Priestly Fraternity of
Saint Peter that reject the new Mass and most of the liberalizations of
Fifty years later, the greatest accomplishment that can be said for
the Second Vatican Council is Pope John XXIII’s stated goal to “throw
open the windows of the Church.” Yet from conversions to Mass
attendance, it has produced nothing measurable in the upward direction.
Perhaps traditionalist Catholics, led by the SSPX, are onto something
when they call into question the council itself. Their solution is for
the pope to simply erase all 16 Vatican II documents and restore the
liturgy, teachings and discipline in place before the collapse of all
that was considered good and holy in 1962.
Today marks the feast of Our Lady's Divine Motherhood. This piece from Catholic Answers covers it reasonably well: Fundamentalists are sometimes horrified when the Virgin Mary is
referred to as the Mother of God. However, their reaction often rests
upon a misapprehension of not only what this particular title of Mary
signifies but also who Jesus was, and what their own theological
forebears, the Protestant Reformers, had to say regarding this
A woman is a man’s mother either if she carried him in her womb or if
she was the woman contributing half of his genetic matter or both. Mary
was the mother of Jesus in both of these senses; because she not only
carried Jesus in her womb but also supplied all of the genetic matter
for his human body, since it was through her—not Joseph—that Jesus "was
descended from David according to the flesh" (Rom. 1:3).
Since Mary is Jesus’ mother, it must be concluded that she is also
the Mother of God: If Mary is the mother of Jesus, and if Jesus is God,
then Mary is the Mother of God. There is no way out of this logical
syllogism, the valid form of which has been recognized by classical
logicians since before the time of Christ.
Although Mary is the Mother of God, she is not his mother in the
sense that she is older than God or the source of her Son’s divinity,
for she is neither. Rather, we say that she is the Mother of God in the
sense that she carried in her womb a divine person—Jesus Christ, God "in
the flesh" (2 John 7, cf. John 1:14)—and in the sense that she
contributed the genetic matter to the human form God took in Jesus
To avoid this conclusion, Fundamentalists often assert that Mary did not carry God in her womb, but only carried Christ’s human nature.
This assertion reinvents a heresy from the fifth century known as
Nestorianism, which runs aground on the fact that a mother does not
merely carry the human nature of her child in her womb. Rather, she carries the person of her child. Women do not give birth to human natures; they give birth to persons. Mary thus carried and gave birth to the person of Jesus Christ, and the person she gave birth to was God.
The Nestorian claim that Mary did not give birth to the unified person of Jesus Christ attempts to separate Christ’s human nature from his divine nature, creating two separate and distinctpersons—one
divine and one human—united in a loose affiliation. It is therefore a
Christological heresy, which even the Protestant Reformers recognized.
Both Martin Luther and John Calvin insisted on Mary’s divine maternity.
In fact, it even appears that Nestorius himself may not have believed
the heresy named after him. Further, the "Nestorian" church has now
signed a joint declaration on Christology with the Catholic Church and
recognizes Mary’s divine maternity, just as other Christians do.
Since denying that Mary is God’s mother implies doubt about Jesus’
divinity, it is clear why Christians (until recent times) have been
unanimous in proclaiming Mary as Mother of God.
Today I settled in at a local breakfast joint (confirming my wife's suspicions) to ingest my daily dose of caffeine and read about the Cardinals' victory. At 6:30 a.m. I expected a brief and quiet stop. Instead, I was treated to a Protestant men's Bible study in the middle of the cafe. Eleven guys walked in en masse and sat at a large table nearby. One of them wore a suit and was, I suppose, a pastor. It's hard to tell sometimes. Anyway, I figured them for Protestants for a few reasons. First, the leader told them all that today's Psalm for reflection was Psalm 90, by which he meant (as was confirmed a little later) Psalm 89. But that wasn't a clincher, as most Catholics use the Protestant numbering these days. Then the Leader began with an impromptu prayer that began "Father God...", and that is usually a dead giveaway. So, after announcing the Psalm, the leader asked all the men to go around and relate "When does your job feel most like work?" This was done. Each person spoke, and each was validated in turn. Then they read the Psalm in turns, and everyone gave their opinion about what God meant. There were a range of opinions as you can expect. When all was done, I reflected on a bunch of things, and decided to post on it. I do so with some trepidation, as I risk offending some Protestant readers, if there are any. I don't wish to do so, because of course the desire of these men to gather to study scripture, pray, and try to exercise their religion according to the lights they have is laudable. Nor do I judge their souls, nor do I think I am in any way better than them in matters of faith or practice. I didn't create the Catholic religion, and certainly she has been in no way increased in glory or truth because I am blessed enough to belong to her. I do not want to be the pharisee who thanked God he was not like that tax collector. All of the men in that Bible study may have "gone home justified," as Our Lord said. God bless them.
In the end I was struck by a number of things. 1. Due to the source of the meditation being a Psalm, I couldn't help but to compare this little gathering to the daily gathering of the Church through the Divine Office. This gathering also takes place in small gatherings of Catholics: religious communities, families, individuals. But, like the Church Christ founded, these local communities are tied to the universal Church in a mystical gathering of prayer. The same office, the same Psalms, are prayed throughout the world. The principle of this unity is the same as the principle of unity of the Faith-- Peter. And this praying of the Psalms, this office, is of antique origin. For example, Compline as we have it today (EF) is very nearly the exact arrangement of the office as prayed by St. Benedict in the Sixth Century, and the practice of praying the Psalms in the Church is of Apostolic origin. The Church in her role as Mater and Magister gives us the form and content. There is thus a connection in every hour of the Office to the Church local and universal, to the Church in the past, present and future, and to the Church in time and eternity. 2. I reflected, too, on the fact that there are reasons why it took me a while to determine whether the group was Protestant, reasons that point out some of the problems in the Church today caused mostly by the vocations crisis.
First, there is the lack of catechesis in our parishes and schools. There is a lack of teaching, spiritual guidance, and direction from our priests and bishops. There are a few places, but not many, where priests have the time-- and more importantly the inclination-- to provide adult catechesis, public recitation of the Divine Office, frequent confession and spiritual direction. What we get instead are variants of this bible study: a bunch of people sit around, read some scripture, and give their personal takes. There is no proper direction, and so the participants shift for themselves. I have experienced these studies myself. Some participants jockey to establish their take as the right one. Some people talk about themselves, their "faith journey", their job, their toothache, their children, or anything else that applies to them. "My name is Ralph, and I'm an alcoholic." And in that hallmark of Catholic Bible studies, people get their chance to complain about the Church's teaching on X, Y or Z based on their studied misinterpretation of what their translation of the bible says. And while we're at it, isn't this the problem with most spiritual retreats? Catholics used to have options. Now there are essentially three choices: 1) there is no priest and no retreat; 2) there is a priest to lead a retreat who will give an intentionally heterodox view of the the Faith; or 3) an ACTS or CRHP retreat where the alcoholics anonymous theme runs rampant. 3. Man hungers for God, and to practice right religion. If there are no shepherds, he will fend for himself. It's like a group of the more ambitious sheep deciding how to fend off the wolves, as the shepherd cannot be found or cannot be bothered. How many Catholics have fallen away by a lack of direction at their parishes, and have fallen into Protestant Bible studies at the invitation of well-meaning friends? Based on the offerings today, it is hard to distinguish the Protestant Bible study from the Catholic one, except for one area. In the Catholic Bible study, people wish that the teachings of Christ as manifested in Catholic dogma would change, and in a Protestant Bible study, people congratulate themselves on having left the Catholic Church and thus no longer must believe Catholic dogma. 4. Of course, the lack of priestly vocations goes back to a loss of the public proclamation and the private belief of bishops, priests and laymen in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, the 50th Anniversary of which we note this year. The failures of the Church hierarchy in the (at the very least) implementation of this Council are so well-known as to need no reiteration here. But the faithful themselves are not without blame. As St. Paul noted, there will has come a time when people will not endure sound doctrine, but having itching ears will pile up "teachers" unto themselves. There is no heresy believed that hasn't been enthusiastically welcomed by those of us who should know better, and who should humbly cling to the barque of Peter instead of grabbing the rudder. 5. Speaking from a purely temporal perspective, the weakness of the Church today, in light of the vocations crisis, is that priests are absolutely necessary for the Church to grow. Christ's Church is sacramental, and priests are required to effect five of the seven sacraments. Any person with a Bible and an opinion can go to the wilds of the Amazon and start a religion. Any member of his sect can disagree with him, get their own Bible, and start a new one. We need priests to teach authoritatively, to effect the sacrifice of Calvary on the altar, to give Holy Communion to starving souls, to forgive sins with the authority of God, to confirm in the faith, and to assist the dying on the way to salvation. 6. However, this temporal weakness is our spiritual strength. Christ promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church. No amount of incompetence or cupidity or impurity or other sinfulness of any of the Church's shepherds or sheep can change this. We must have absolute and humble reliance on the promises, goodness and power of Christ. He will not leave us without Shepherds, and we must pray for Him to send them to us and protect them from, and for, us. We read, study, meditate and benefit from scripture not only in our private reading but in every liturgy of the Church. In addition to the teaching component of the Sacraments, we also, and much more importantly, receive Christ Himself in Sacramental forms. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Instead of being a family that is content to read letters from or about a long-departed loved one, we are the family that lives in the presence of that loved one right now. We are with Him, receive Him, and can bask in His love for us. So what's the point of all this? I guess I don't know why I went on this tangent today, except to say that despite the good inherent in any Bible study, our faith provides so many more and better chances to foster our relationship with God, to know and to love His will, and to guide us on the road to Heaven. We need to embrace these, and to pray for the vocations to make them possible.
The story is laughable in and of itself, but what really tickles the funny bone is that the "drop" in abortions covers a period from 2008-2010. Yep, two years, two years ago.
Let's see-- contraception was made legal by the execrable Supreme Court decision of Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965. Abortion was made legal by the even more execrable Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade in 1973.
According to the baby executioner's favorite research agency, the number of abortions per year rose from under 200,000 per year in 1970 (some states allowed it then) to a high of 1.6 million per year in 1990 and then settling in around a mere 1.2 million victims of genocide since the early 2000s. The abortion rate per thousand for the last ten years or so has been steady at 20 per thousand.
Moreover, for what it's worth, the statistics cited in the article don't prove the claim, as it takes one statistic on the birthrate to teenage mothers, and then cites a completely unrelated statistic on repeat abortions (meaning to women who already had at least one-- you can only murder each baby once) in St. Louis among women of all ages. There is no necessary connection between any drop in the one being tied to contraception, as we see in the rise of abortions nationwide after contraception made available, and no connection between the two in any event, as they measure different facts and different groups. But, don't let facts get in the way of a political agenda.
As homeschooling becomes more and more popular nationwide, even secular universities are seeing an increase of matriculating homeschoolers. This article comes from the Truman State Index:
Homeschooled students adjust to life on campus by Emily Wichmer
Freshman Bethany Boyle’s high school football team is undefeated. She was at the top — and bottom — of her class and her mom was her teacher. Boyle was homeschooled.
This year, many students made the transition from a class size of one to a campus of about 6,000. For these students, the transition has been eye-opening.
“I was homeschooled my entire life, kindergarten through twelfth grade,” Boyle said. “The first week at Truman [State], I had a bit of a culture shock. I just wasn’t used to being around so many people all the time, but it wasn’t bad at all. It just makes college so much more exciting.”
Boyle said she enjoys the different learning styles from her homeschooling experience, even if it required some adjustment. During her military science class, she said all the hands-on work made this course her favorite class.
Freshman Junia Weatherbie, who also was homeschooled, said she enjoys the community at Truman, too.
“I’ve really enjoyed talking to people who are so different than me and having conversations about crazy interesting things that I’ve never heard about,” she said.
College has offered new academic experiences to homeschoolers because it has allowed her to enjoy a variety of classes, Weatherbie said.
Weatherbie said her math class helped her discover a new passion for the subject. She said she didn’t enjoy math while she was homeschooled because she learned everything from a book. At Truman, she said, her calculus teacher presented the concepts in a new and exciting way. She said she enjoyed it so much, she is now considering becoming a math major.
Even though larger class sizes and active participation in class might take some getting used to, Boyle said there are advantages to homeschooling that have helped students in college. She credits her ability to keep up with assignments to her homeschooling experiences.
“The last two years of high school, my mom just gave me my curriculum and I had to pace myself on it, so I know how fast I can get through stuff,” Boyle said. “For example, I know I have to start reading pretty far in advance. I think homeschooling helped me develop study habits and know what I’m capable of.”
Sophomore Stephanie Bleikamp said she thinks homeschooling gave her a leg up during college. She said that homeschoolers have to be self-motivated and responsible for their own education. She said the transition to college was easy because of homeschooling.
Bleikamp said she has found it easy to make friends.
“There are a lot of cool people here,” she said. “It’s funny, though — a lot of people know me for a while before they find out I was homeschooled. They’re really surprised and say that I ‘don’t seem like a homeschooler,’ which is probably meant as a compliment.”
Boyle said she thinks some people have a stereotype associated with homeschoolers — and not a positive one. She said other people have told her that the ‘homeschool stereotype’ is someone who doesn’t know how to relate to people, is a nerd, only stays in his or her room and doesn’t get involved in anything.
“It’s a stereotype from a while ago that hasn’t been re-defined to what homeschoolers are really like today,” she said.
Boyle thinks the “homeschool stereotype” needs to be re-defined, pointing out that homeschoolers are involved around campus.
Boyle is involved with several on-campus groups, including TSODA and University Swingers. She’s also applying for Casa Hispánica, the Spanish Romance Language House in Missouri Hall.
“I think a lot of people I’ve talked to were surprised that I was in band and played soccer in high school, or that I had a graduation ceremony,” she said.
Boyle said the Truman community has been welcoming to homeschoolers and recommends the university to any homeschoolers looking at colleges.
“Truman is a great, friendly place where you can enter college and feel just like everyone else,” Boyle said. “I love it here.”
A great article by Tom Woods, the Catholic historian, on his journey from neoconservatism to libertarianism, thanks to his realization of moral problems posed by U.S. foreign policy and military interventions. I was slower to make the same journey, but the path he trod is familiar to me.
The Gulf War occurred when Woods was in college; I was in law school, but I reacted the same way. If you are an unquestioning cheerleader of Middle East policy, but think that but for that issue Ron Paul makes some good points, read this while standing in front of a mirror.
Twenty years ago, as I was completing my freshman year in college, I was a full-blown neoconservative. Except I didn’t know it. Having concluded that I was not a leftist, I simply decided by process of elimination that I must be a Rush Limbaughian.
Like most people, I was unaware that any alternative to those two choices existed, or that in some ways they were two sides of a common statist coin. In particular, I embraced a neoconservative foreign policy with gusto. The way to show you weren’t a commie was by supporting the U.S. military as it doled out summary justice to bad guys all over the world. And frankly, it was exciting to watch it all unfold on TV.
I never gave the human cost of war a second thought and became impatient with anyone who did. War was like a video game I could enjoy from the comfort of my home. Devastation and human suffering were quite beside the point: the righteous U.S. government was dispensing justice to the wicked, and that was that. What are you, a liberal?
The Persian Gulf War of 1991 was the first U.S. conflict of my college career. During the months-long U.S. military buildup in the Gulf known as Operation Desert Shield I eagerly promoted the mission to anyone foolish enough to listen.
When war came, it was swift and decisive. Very few American casualties were suffered, while the Iraqi forces were destroyed. Some 100,000 were burned alive by a chemical agent or buried alive in the desert while making a retreat.
Believe it or not, that actually bothered me, in spite of how voracious a consumer of war propaganda I was. No one defended Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, which he launched in response to that country’s slant oil drilling, but was the outcome of the Persian Gulf War not a terrible tragedy for the Iraqi people – virtually none of whom had had anything to do with Saddam Hussein’s fateful decision – all the same? A far poorer country than ours suddenly had a lot more widows and orphans, not to mention a great many civilian deaths to grieve over and much destruction to repair.
Mothers and fathers were crying themselves to exhaustion over children they had lost, or who, worse still, were dying agonizing deaths before their very eyes. There is no worse anguish for parents than to watch their children suffer and to be helpless to do anything about it.
Was it really right that we Americans should meanwhile be celebrating with a Bob Hope special, and – on cue – flattered by the ceaseless reminders that ours was the awesomest country ever?
It later transpired that the Kuwaiti government had hired a public-relations firm in the United States to sell the idea of military invasion to the American people. We later learned that the major atrocity story – that Iraqi troops had removed Kuwaiti babies from incubators and thrown them onto hospital floors – had been a fraud: the emotional young woman who testified to that effect in Washington turned out to be the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States.
Although I had strongly favored military action by the U.S. government from the start, in the wake of George H.W. Bush’s declaration of victory I could not stop thinking about the lopsided casualty counts, the waves of killing rained down on a ramshackle army facing the greatest military machine in the world. Now these were soldiers, not civilians, so by the logic of war I was supposed to hate them or at least not care about them, their deaths being cause for celebration rather than regret.
I was having trouble doing that.
I went to see my European history professor, Charles Maier, to discuss my misgivings about the war. Maier, a liberal in the New Republic mold, suggested I read a recent article in that magazine making the case for the war. I did, and (believe it or not) that helped to suppress any contrary thoughts for a while.
I was already beginning to read libertarian literature by the early 1990s because of my support for the market economy. My reading of the economic works of Murray Rothbard led inevitably to his philosophical works. The Rothbard essay “War, Peace, and the State” leaves an impression on the mind one can never quite shake.
Rothbard famously observed that one could uncover the libertarian position on X by imagining a gang of thugs carrying out the state action in question. If thugs can’t just grab your money, for instance, neither can a well-dressed group of thugs calling itself “the state.”
The lingering effects of war can inspire callousness even after the guns have fallen silent. Many of us have seen the notorious clip from 60 Minutes in which Madeleine Albright, then U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and soon-to-be U.S. secretary of State, declared that the price of half a million dead children as a result of the sanctions against Iraq during the 1990s had been “worth it.” Note that she did not dispute the figure. She looked the interviewer in the eye and said that the deaths of half a million kids were worth it in pursuit of one man she and her colleagues didn’t like.
Now suppose the Soviet Union, during the height of the Cold War, had killed half a million children in the course of a sanctions policy. We would never have heard the end of it.
One of the great triumphs of the government propaganda machine in self-described democracies is the “we are the government” line. It makes the subject population somewhat more compliant than it might be if a particular family passed down the power to govern from one generation to another, with no chance (short of outright revolution) that anyone else will ever hold the reins of power. More important, criticisms of their government’s foreign policy now come to be seen as personal affronts. We are the government, after all, so how dare you criticize “our” foreign policy!
For that reason, opponents of American foreign policy should, when speaking on this topic, eliminate the pronoun “we” from their vocabulary. “We” did not kill those Iraqi kids. In 2002 and 2003 “we” did not repeat transparent untruths about the alleged threat posed by a devastated Iraq. “We” did not lay waste to an already-suffering country, killing hundreds of thousands and displacing four million others.
They did this. The American political class. We did not.
What some Americans did do, though, was to make sorry excuses for their political overlords. Some Americans defended a series of policies which, if pursued by the Soviet Union 30 years ago, they themselves would have condemned as grotesque violations of basic standards of morality. But with the U.S. government as the perpetrator, everything was different. They were as gullible on foreign policy as left-liberals are on domestic policy. They dutifully searched for evidence to corroborate their leaders’ claims, even when their leaders had long since abandoned those claims. They accepted the most transparent propaganda without batting an eye.
The insensibility to suffering
Until 1991, I had done pretty much the same thing. But following the Persian Gulf War I began to have doubts. Within a few years I had come to regret my laziness, and the readiness with which I accepted foreign-policy propaganda from the very people I knew I couldn’t trust when it came to the economy, the Constitution, or pretty much anything else.
The 19th-century writer Elihu Burritt noted the great sympathy the human race extended to those who have been the victims of misfortunes: famine, shipwreck, railway accidents, whatever. He then invited his readers to “compare the feeling with which the community hears of the loss or peril of a few human lives by these accidents with which the news of the death or mutilation of thousands of men, equally precious, on the field of battle is received.”
I was once blind to the effects of war on my own moral compass and to how callous I had become toward entire countries and the fellow human beings who inhabited them. When I collaborated with Murray Polner on We Who Dared to Say No to War: American Antiwar Writing from 1812 to Now (Basic Books, 2008), it was in a spirit of contrition and reparation for having once cheered on what I now know to be evil.
“I am getting more and more convinced that the war-peace question is the key to the whole libertarian business,” Rothbard noted privately in 1956. I am equally convinced. If we can’t get this right, who cares about the Department of Education or the minimum wage?
Congratulations to Matt Birk of the Baltimore Ravens for making a public, cogent, and courageous statement in support of marriage. It is always encouraging to see anyone in the mass entertainment business deviating from the party religion of death.
Birk is Catholic, a Harvard graduate, and a Pro-bowler. He and his wife are expecting their sixth child. So, we're a lot a like. Both Catholic, I mean.
He is pictured above with his coach, John Harbaugh, also a practicing Catholic. We'll wait to see the predictable cry of "hate speech" by that most intolerant of groups, the pro-sodomy lobby. From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
NFL's Matt Birk: Let's protect marriage -- and speech
Article by: MATT BIRK
Same-sex unions may not affect my marriage specifically, but it will affect my children.
It should come as no surprise that the National Football League supports the right of its players to share their opinions on important public matters, nor should it come as a surprise that I personally support my colleagues' rights to voice their opinions.
But the conversation during the last few weeks on the subject of same-sex marriage has told a different story -- one that appears to be drawing a false connection between supporting true American values like free speech and the institution of marriage, our most fundamental and important social institution.
I think it is important to set the record straight about what the marriage debate is and is not about, and to clarify that not all NFL players think redefining marriage is a good thing.
The union of a man and a woman is privileged and recognized by society as "marriage" for a reason, and it's not because the government has a vested interest in celebrating the love between two people. With good reason, government recognizes marriages and gives them certain legal benefits so they can provide a stable, nurturing environment for the next generation of citizens: our kids.
Children have a right to a mom and a dad, and I realize that this doesn't always happen. Through the work my wife and I do at pregnancy resource centers and underprivileged schools, we have witnessed firsthand the many heroic efforts of single mothers and fathers -- many of whom work very hard to provide what's best for their kids.
But recognizing the efforts of these parents and the resiliency of some (not all, unfortunately) of these kids, does not then give society the right to dismiss the potential long-term effects on a child of not knowing or being loved by his or her mother or father. Each plays a vital role in the raising of a child.
Marriage is in trouble right now -- admittedly, for many reasons that have little to do with same-sex unions. In the last few years, political forces and a culture of relativism have replaced "I am my brother's keeper" and "love your neighbor as yourself" with "live and let live" and "if it feels good, go ahead and do it."
The effects of no-fault divorce, adultery, and the nonchalant attitude toward marriage by some have done great harm to this sacred institution. How much longer do we put the desires of adults before the needs of kids? Why are we not doing more to lift up and strengthen the institution of marriage?
Same-sex unions may not affect my marriage specifically, but it will affect my children -- the next generation. Ideas have consequences, and laws shape culture. Marriage redefinition will affect the broader well-being of children and the welfare of society. As a Christian and a citizen, I am compelled to care about both.
I am speaking out on this issue because it is far too important to remain silent. People who are simply acknowledging the basic reality of marriage between one man and one woman are being labeled as "bigots" and "homophobic." Aren't we past that as a society?
Don't we all have family members and friends whom we love who have same-sex attraction? Attempting to silence those who may disagree with you is always un-American, but especially when it is through name-calling, it has no place in respectful conversation.
A defense of marriage is not meant as an offense to any person or group. All people should be afforded their inalienable American freedoms. There is no opposition between providing basic human rights to everyone and preserving marriage as the sacred union of one man and one woman.
I hope that in voicing my beliefs I encourage people on both sides to use reason and charity as they enter this debate. I encourage all Americans to stand up to preserve and promote a healthy, authentic promarriage culture in this upcoming election.
"The aim of public information is not to spread enlightenment at all. It is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same level, to a breed of standard citizenry, to put down dissent and originality."
U.S. District Court Judge Carol Jackson granted a motion to dismiss the complaint of Catholic businessman Frank O'Brien challenging the Obamacare contraceptive mandate. Not surprising, and I hope the case is appealed. If so, look for the Supreme Court to tell us how paying to kill babies is actually part of the Catholic Faith. Oh wait, Justice Roberts is Catholic so there's NO WAY he'll rule against us. From Bloomberg:
Contraceptive Mandate Challenge Thrown Out by Federal Judge
By Andrew Harris -
Oct 1, 2012 3:39 PM CT
U.S. District Judge Carol E. Jackson in St. Louis dismissed
the lawsuit filed earlier this year by Frank O’Brien and his
O’Brien Industrial Holdings LLC, which alleged the mandate
unconstitutionally violated his religious beliefs and the
Catholic philosophy he applied in running his business.
“This court rejects the proposition that requiring
indirect financial support of a practice, from which the
plaintiff himself abstains according to his religious
principles, constitutes a substantial burden on plaintiff’s
religious exercise,” Jackson said in her 29-page ruling on
The contraception requirement is part of President Barack Obama’s 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,
intended to create almost-universal health-care insurance
coverage. Attorneys for O’Brien and his business today filed
notice of their intent to appeal the judge’s decision.
The case is O’Brien v. U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services, 12-cv-476, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of
Missouri (St. Louis).
This quote of St. Thérèse of Lisieux is the caption the Institute used for this photo on its Facebook page, and very fitting indeed. The image is of Mother Caroline, Superior of the Adorers of the Royal Heart of Jesus Christ Sovereign Priest, receiving Holy Communion from His Eminence, Raymond Cardinal Burke.