Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Healthy Purge

From the Telegraph:
Georgia passes law to destroy Soviet-era monuments and street names

Georgia will destroy Soviet-era monuments and change any street names which refer to its Communist past, MPs have decided.

The parliamentarians passed a new law on Tuesday, aimed at distancing the country from its former master Russia.

Ties between Russia and Georgia have soured since President Mikheil Saakashvili ousted post-Soviet leader Eduard Shevardnadze in the 2003 "Rose Revolution" and vowed to move the country out of Moscow's sphere of influence.

Visiting Keats


"A thing of beauty is a joy forever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health and quiet breathing."
-John Keats - Endymion: Book I


"And can I ever bid these joys farewell?
Yes, I must pass them for a nobler life,
Where I may find the agonies, the strife
Of human hearts"
- from Sleep and Poetry

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Pray for our troops, those of yesterday and of today.









Laughing Out Loud

Female Special Ops? That was the reaction when I read the following, from the Assocated Press:
WASHINGTON – It's a dramatic tale.

Elite Navy SEALs storm a walled compound in Pakistan and take out the world's most wanted terrorist.
Footnote: They were all men.

While America's last 10 years of war have propelled women into new and far more risky roles across the military, there are still some doors that are closed. Chief among those are the special operations forces.

But perhaps that door is inching open.

"As a philosophical thing, there shouldn't be anything that's closed off as a career," said Navy Secretary Ray Mabus. And while he is quick to note there is a ban on moving women into combat and infantry jobs, Mabus said more and more women are working with special operations forces in support roles. And he did not rule out the idea that a qualified woman could eventually become an elite commando.

Still, Mabus cautioned that it would take time. "We're going to have to take some careful, well-thought-out steps in that direction," he said.

It's going to take more than time. Give it up.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Anyone Surprised By This?

From Nick Allen, writing for the Telegraph?
Conservative columnist and author Ben Shapiro accused television executives and writers of pushing a liberal agenda in several high profile American television entertainment shows.

His book "Primetime Propaganda" will show how the "most powerful medium of mass communication in human history became a vehicle for spreading the radical agenda of the left side of the political spectrum," according to the publishers HarperCollins. ...

One of the founders of Sesame Street told him that the show had sought to address how conflict could be resolved peacefully after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Was Shakespeare Catholic?


Interesting. From the Telegraph:
William Shakespeare was probably a Catholic, according to the Archbishop of Canterbury in an exploration of spirituality and secularism in the Bard's plays.

Dr Rowan Williams discussed the themes with Simon Russell Beale, the great Shakespearean actor, in one of the most eagerly-anticipated talks of the festival.

Little is known of Shakespeare's life and there is no direct evidence of his religious affiliation, but Dr Williams said he believed him to be a Catholic. "I don't think it tells us a great deal, to settle whether he was a Catholic or a Protestant, but for what it's worth I think he probably had a Catholic background and a lot of Catholic friends and associates.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Restoration in Progress

Amid the sadness of daily life for Christians in Egypt, an inspiring story from Reuters:
CAIRO (Reuters) – Mohammed Fathi worked his brush gently over an icon of Virgin Mary and baby Jesus, removing soot from its surface inside a church gutted in an attack by Islamist militants this month.

"It takes a lot of careful work to do that," Fathi said. "We have to do a lot of tests with chemicals to try to restore the icon to its original condition."

The 26-year-old is one of a vast group of mostly Muslim craftsmen tasked with restoring St Mary's Church in the Cairo suburb of Imbaba after militants set it on fire on May 7.

Egypt's military rulers have ordered its restoration at a time when tensions between Christians, who account for about 10 percent of Egypt's population, and Muslims are on the rise.

New Bishop, Fresh Air



Most welcome news today for Milwaukee Catholics, as Father Don Hying is set to become the next auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. I am told that he is an excellent priest.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Time for Choosing

The chorus is getting louder for Paul Ryan to run for president.

From Jonah Goldberg, writing for National Review Online:
If Ryan ran, he would probably drive the other candidates farther away from his own plan while forcing them to come up with serious alternatives of their own. Many think that if he got the nomination, he would clean Obama’s clock in the debates.

It’s a lot to ask. He has three young kids and would have to get organized and funded from a cold start for a long-shot run. But politics is about moments, and this one is calling him. Unless someone suddenly rises to the challenge, the cries of “Help us, Paul Ryan, you’re our only hope!” will only get louder.

No one but Ryan can respond as effectively to the scare tactics cropping up like weeds regarding his budget plan. This will be one of, if not the central issue of the next election. He has become the public face of the Republican position. A brilliantly effective communicator to boot, it makes complete sense that he run. The others in the field, while good men, cannot hold a candle to Ryan.

Getting Beyond Histrionics

What exactly is the Path to Prosperity? Watch this short video for an excellent breakdown of the problem regarding Medicare and the two very different solutions offered by the president and Paul Ryan.



And here, Ryan refutes Obama seriatim:

Monday, May 23, 2011

Making Progress on Life

Don't expect to find these results on the evening news today. From CNSNews:
(CNSNews.com) - Sixty-one percent of American adults—including some who describe themselves as “pro-choice”—told Gallup in a survey conducted May 5-8 that abortion should be illegal in all or most circumstances.

Are you listening, Paul?

Eric Cantor Nudges Paul Ryan?

From Politico:
Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Monday that Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan should run for president.

The Virginia Republican, asked Monday if Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, should run, Cantor said “sure,” adding that Ryan shows “real leadership.”

It’s a striking statement from the No. 2 House Republican, who is the highest-level lawmaker to call for Ryan to enter the 2012 contest. Other conservative figures started the unofficial draft Ryan push after Gov. Mitch Daniels announced he wouldn’t jump into the race this weekend.


And I'll add, shame on any "Republican" senator who looks askance at Ryan's plan and, along with Harry Reid and Co., votes against it. Have they learned nothing over the past few years?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

End in Sight for Zapatero


The rain in Spain may be coming to an end.

Certainly good news to sleep on, from the Associated Press:
MADRID – Spain's ruling Socialists suffered a crushing defeat to conservatives in local and regional elections Sunday, yielding power even in traditional strongholds against a backdrop of staggering unemployment and unprecedented sit-ins by Spaniards furious with what they see as politicians who don't care about their plight.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said the result was due punishment of his government for the state of the economy — the jobless rate is a eurozone high of 21.3 percent. But he said he had no plans to move up general elections, which must be held by March of next year, and pledged to press on with job-creating reforms despite the loud outcry of opposition to his party.

The win for the conservative opposition Popular Party puts it in even a stronger position to win the general elections and return to power after eight years of Socialist rule.

Zapatero is, without a doubt, one of the most driven, anti-Catholic leaders in the Western world. From the get-go, he has pursued one policy after another that has cut at the heart of traditional values and mores in Spain. He still has some time left in office (unless an early general election is called, which is doubtful) but tonight's outcome is a good indicator of what voters will do with him in '12, hopefully the same thing ours will do with Obama.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

2012: Could It Be Cain?

This is excellent. A friend sent it to me and while watching it, I knew I had to post it.



"You will get called 'racist' simply because you disagree with the president who happens to be black. Well, they call me 'racist' too, because I disagree with the president who happens to be black. So go figure."
-Herman Cain

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bad Art

Reason number 30,002 why I loathe modern art. This metal monstrosity in Rome is supposed to be JPII. ugh...




What were they thinking?

Texas Life

From MSNBC:
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Governor Rick Perry on Thursday signed into law a measure requiring women seeking an abortion to first get a sonogram.

"Gov. Perry was pleased to sign this important legislation, which bolsters our efforts to protect life by ensuring Texans are fully informed when considering such an important decision," Perry spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger told Reuters on Thursday.

The Republican governor had designated the bill as an emergency legislative priority, which put it on a fast track.

Under the requirement, women will have to wait 24 hours after the sonogram before having an abortion, though the waiting time is two hours for those who live more than 100 miles from an abortion provider.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Best News I've Heard All Day

Granted, it's still early.

From FoxNews:
Republican opposition is steadily growing against controversial University of California-Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu, President Obama's nominee for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, potentially imperiling a judicial appointment for the first time in his presidency.

Senior Republicans launched an all-out push to quash the nomination, urging their conference colleagues to support a GOP-led filibuster.

"(Liu's) record reflects a carefully honed and calculated philosophy that he developed and advanced over the course of his brief career in the ivory towers of academia and which threatens the American tradition of limited constitutional government," Sens. Charles Grassley of Iowa, top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, and senior panel member Jeff Sessions of Alabama, wrote in a letter, obtained by Fox, to their GOP colleagues Wednesday.

I've noted Liu before on The Forum. His ideology is inimical to the philosophy of our founding and he has to be stopped.

----

Worth watching. Juan Williams makes no sense, by the way. Charles Krauthammer takes him to the woodshed.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

It's Over

Undisputed Loser and Winner

Despite his brilliance and often-great analysis, I had my doubts about Gingrich. The events of the past few days, however, have convinced me that he cannot and will not be the nominee. It's definitely one of those "What was he thinking?" moments. Gingrich has proven himself to be erratic and unreliable. He apologized to Paul Ryan for his stunning and absurd attack, but the damage to his credibility has been done.

MSNBC gets it right:
On NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said that the central test he will face in the 2012 campaign will be “whether I have the discipline and the judgment to be president.”

In the last 48 hours – after Gingrich expressed support for insurance mandates and linked Rep. Paul Ryan’s fiscal plan to “right wing social engineering” -- some conservatives have offered their own answers to that question.

And it’s not good news for the presidential hopeful. As Tuesday wore on, it didn't get much better.

The Wall Street Journal editorial page skewered Gingrich on Tuesday, writing that his comment on the Ryan plan “reveals the Georgian's weakness as a candidate, and especially as a potential President—to wit, his odd combination of partisan, divisive rhetoric and poll-driven policy timidity.”

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, whose state’s position as the third-in-the-nation primary makes her endorsement especially coveted, chimed in as well, calling Gingrich’s position on Ryan’s plan “absolutely unfortunate.”

“When you have a conservative fighting for real change, the last thing we need is a presidential candidate cutting him off at the knees,” she told CNN. ...

And this barrage of reproach came before Politico reported that between 2005 and 2006, Gingrich carried as much as $500,000 in debt to Tiffany’s, the luxury jewelry company. It’s not yet clear whether Gingrich has since paid off the debt or not, but as a presidential candidate he will have to file a personal financial disclosure form.

I feel that I should add here that the one man who comes out of all of this looking great is Paul Ryan. All the other candidates are outdoing each other to be the most vociferous in their defense of Ryan, proving that he is the man at the top. The instantaneous, fierce and collective reaction, from Republican leaders to regular citizens, seeking to shield Ryan from Gingrich's attack proves something about his (Ryan's) stature in the Party.

Again, should he run for higher office? Answer: YES.

Monday, May 16, 2011

On Boring, Lonely Materialism



Said Stephen Hawking:
I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I'm not afraid of death, but I'm in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first. I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.

How sad that a great mind like Hawking's can be, in the truly important things, so nihilistic, stunted and void of depth. It is incomprehensible how anyone could view the brain, and more importantly the human mind, with all of its mystery and proven potential for inspiration, vision and greatness, as nothing more than a computer. Greater minds, like William F. Buckley's, ask the question: Hamlet, J.S. Bach's Saint Matthew's Passion...What is the cause of inspiration that resulted in their creation? Can a solitary, computer chip fashion a Pieta, or The Last Judgement?

The article continues:
So if everyone is destined to power-down like computers at the end of their lives, what should humans do to lend meaning to their experience?

"We should seek the greatest value of our action," Hawking told the paper.

Again, how cold. "The greatest value of our action?" Someone should introduce Hawking to Pascal's Wager.

WFB on the existence of God. So refreshing and real after skimming the dry sermonizing of Hawking:

Pathetic Atheists Protest Catholic Procession in Granada

Still, the good Catholics had a strong presence and wouldn't let the devilish caterwauling from Zapatero's minions stop their procession.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Paul Ryan Takes Aim

Every time I hear Paul Ryan speak and explain his proposals, I come away more impressed. He needs to make sure that the opposition doesn't define him and overwhelm his message, as they are trying mightily to do, regarding his Path to Prosperity plan.




Now, he just needs to run for president. Seriously.

Good News

This comes as a welcome surprise. From the Associated Press:
Under pressure from more than five dozen House lawmakers, the Navy late Tuesday abruptly reversed its decision that would have allowed chaplains to perform same-sex unions if the Pentagon decides to recognize openly gay military service later this year.

In a one-sentence memo obtained by The Associated Press, Rear Adm. Mark Tidd, chief of Navy chaplains, said his earlier decision has been "suspended until further notice pending additional legal and policy review and interdepartmental coordination."

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Wager a Guess?

The "objective" judges listen to arguments

So three judges (two appointed by Obama and one by Clinton) are reviewing the merits of the challenges to the constitutionality of Obamacare. Gee, I wonder how they're going to come down in their decision.

Tell Chief Justice Roberts and Co. to suit up.

Interesting:

"Congress is attempting to regulate doing nothing..." -Virginia's Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli

Pat-down for 8 month-old

When will this madness stop? What a disgrace! It's another one of those utterly surreal situations. What's a free citizen to do? What can't be done to us at an airport in the name of "security protocol" nowadays? When do the sheep say "Enough!"

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Reviewing Islam

A fascinating piece by Michael Knox Beran, appearing in National Review Online:
The Islamic intellectual who seeks the regeneration of his faith finds promise in the mystic saints and learned faylas├╗fs (philosophers) of Islam’s golden age. But Islam today is very different from what it was in its springtime. A few years ago a U.N. report noted that “Spain translates in one year the number of books that have been translated into Arabic in the past 1,000 years.” Greece alone translates “five times more books every year from English to Greek than the entire Arab world translated from English to Arabic.” ...

Islam, to have flourished as it has, must put down deep roots in the soul. But in the present darkness even the spiritual virtues of Islam are blighted. Whatever is divine and true in its orthodoxy has been obscured by a vengeful and intolerant fanaticism. A wise soul might prefer a high, pure spiritual culture to what Emerson called the “vulgar aims,” the “erudition of sensation,” the “civility of trifles, of money and expense,” characteristic of a wholly materialist culture, as the West’s is perhaps coming to be; but the spiritual culture of Islam, in its most visible forms, seems no longer to be pure. On the contrary, it appears gloomy and bigoted — a machinery of intolerance and obscurantism manipulated by mob-masters and demagogues who, though they masquerade as holy men, derive power and profit from the malignant passions they excite.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Please, Enough, Stop

From the Telegraph:
Bristol Palin to star in her own reality TV show

Bristol Palin is to star in her own reality television show, and producers say she will allow cameras 'exclusive access' into her personal life for the first time.

The small American cable channel BIO said it had ordered 10 half-hour episodes of a documentary series that will follow Palin and her two year-old son Tripp as they move to Los Angeles and work for a small charity there.

Palin, 20, the unmarried elder daughter of Tea Party favourite Sarah Palin, became a celebrity in her own right last year by waltzing her way to the finals of Dancing With the Stars – despite having two left feet.

I'm going to be blunt. This is just surreal. I don't know what is driving B. Palin's popularity and the strange interest in her, that she continues to pop up here there and everywhere. What on earth has she done? Who is she? At least some of these annoying teeny bopper singers have a modicum of musical ability. (I said some.) But with Bristol Palin...there's just something odd about this entire episode. How someone so young, living all the way up in Alaska, ends up relocating solely because of her mother's political career, and who now lives this pseudo-celebrity lifestyle, there are just no words. Is it all just astroturf fame? Or is there really a genuine interest in her by a large segment of the public?

I don't think this kind of artificial lifestyle augurs well for the young Palin, long term. She's making lots of money, but at what cost?

How the scintillating glints of celebrity and wealth ensorcel!

"Change" and the Military

From CNS:

(CNSNews.com) – Anticipating the elimination of the military ban on homosexuality, the Office of the Chief of Navy Chaplains has decided that same-sex couples in the Navy will be able to get married in Navy chapels, and that Navy chaplains will be allowed to perform the ceremonies -- if homosexual marriage is legal in the state where the unions are to be performed.

The advisory came in the form of an April 13 memo issued to all chaplains, in which the Chief of Navy Chaplains, Admiral Michael Tidd, said the Chaplain Corps was revising its Tier I training manuals, which had previously indicated that same-sex marriages are not authorized on federal property.

Some see this kind of story as just another sign of the times, and nothing more. I disagree. Yes, it is a sign of the times, but it is very significant. Elections have consequences of course, and this kind of news is to be expected, sad as it is. Maybe the next (Republican) president will have the backbone to put the kibosh on the endless social tinkering within the military on the part of liberals in Washington.

The Vulgarians Take Over

From The Daily Caller:
Here’s an opportunity to relive your high-school poetry classes.

First Lady Michelle Obama has scheduled a poetry evening for Wednesday, and she’s invited several poets, including a successful Chicago poet and rapper, Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr., AKA “Common.” However, Lynn is quite controversial, in part because his poetry includes threats to shoot police and at least one passage calling for the “burn[ing]” of then-President George W. Bush.

Back in 2003, First Lady Laura Bush held a poetry evening, and she invited several poets to reprise the work of Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes and Walt Whitman. Although none of those poets had urged violence against a president, Bush canceled the event after left-of-center poets protested and threatened to disrupt the event.

This kind of fake "culture" so beloved by the doyens of left really sticks in my craw, bad art, and grotesque flotsam posing as gems of culture. One longs for the days when yes, even the Democrats had class. Think back, for instance, when JFK and Jackie hosted Pablo Casals in the East Room.

That was then...

Blame Pakistan?

Very interesting roundtable discussion:

Sunday, May 08, 2011

May

The Most Serene Visits la Serenissima

Some beautiful AP shots of the Holy Father's visit to Venice:


The Pope rode in the stunning "Doganessa", a gondola once reserved for the Doges of Venice.







Never rode in a gondola myself...too pricey. But oh, how I miss la Serenissima!

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Egyptian Fire


From MSNBC:
CAIRO — Christians and Muslims fought in the streets of western Cairo on Saturday in violence triggered by word of a mixed romance, Egypt's official news agency reported. At least five people were killed.

The clashes marked an escalation in tension between Egypt's Muslims and its Coptic Christian minority that has coincided with uncertainty surrounding the country's path after President Hosni Mubarak's ouster in February.

Ultraconservative Muslims have renewed protests in recent days accusing the church of abducting the wife of a Coptic priest who the protesters believe converted to Islam. Copts answered back by holding their own rally Friday outside the Orthodox Church to protest what they said was the "targeting of the church."

The Making of a SEAL



An excellent article by Lt. Cmdr. Eric Greitens, a Navy SEAL, appearing in The Wall Street Journal Online:
The pinnacle of SEAL training is known as Hell Week, a period of continuous tests and drills during which most classes sleep only a total of two to five hours. Every man has a different story of Hell Week; he remembers particular classmates and instructors, his own most difficult moments. But every Hell Week story is also the same: A man enters a new world aiming to become something greater, and having subjected himself to the hardest tests of his life, he has either passed or failed. ...

SEALs are capable of great violence, but that's not what makes them truly special. Given two weeks of training and a bunch of rifles, any reasonably fit group of 16 athletes (the size of a SEAL platoon) can be trained to do harm. What distinguishes SEALs is that they can be thoughtful, disciplined and proportional in the use of force.

Friday, May 06, 2011

The "Me, Myself, and I" President

The inordinate degree to which this president refers to himself in speeches (a common trait of narcissists) has been commented on before by various observers. This piece from Victor Davis Hanson, and appearing in National Review Online, follows along that theme:
Here are a few excerpts from President Obama’s speech on Sunday night about the killing of Osama bin Laden.

“Tonight, I can report . . . And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta . . . I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden . . . I met repeatedly with my national security team . . . I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action. . . . Today, at my direction . . . I’ve made clear . . . Over the years, I’ve repeatedly made clear . . . Tonight, I called President Zardari . . . and my team has also spoken. . .These efforts weigh on me every time I, as Commander-in-Chief . . . Finally, let me say to the families . . . I know that it has, at times, frayed. . . .”

Most of these first-person pronouns could have been replaced by either the first-person plural (our, we) or proper nouns (the United States, America). But they reflect a now well-known Obama trait of personalizing the presidency.

Pro-bin Laden Rally...in London


From Express:
HUNDREDS of Osama bin Laden supporters clashed with English Defence League extremists today as a “funeral service” for the assassinated terror leader sparked fury outside London’s US Embassy.

Police stepped in to separate the chanting groups amid threats of violence from both sides.

US leaders were branded “murderers” by radicals, who warned vengeance attacks were “guaranteed” and shouted: "USA, you will pay."

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Dishonest Pelosi

From Commentary Magazine:
Here’s Nancy Pelosi from a press conference on September 7, 2006:

[E]ven if [Osama bin Laden] is caught tomorrow, it is five years too late. He has done more damage the longer he has been out there. But, in fact, the damage that he has done . . . is done. And even to capture him now I don’t think makes us any safer.

And here’s Nancy Pelosi yesterday:

The death of Osama bin Laden marks the most significant development in our fight against al-Qaida. . . . I salute President Obama, his national security team, Director Panetta, our men and women in the intelligence community and military, and other nations who supported this effort for their leadership in achieving this major accomplishment. . . . [T]he death of Osama bin Laden is historic. . . .

Will anyone hold Nancy Pelosi accountable for this? She represents everything that turns people's stomachs when it comes to politics and politicians: no principle except those which advance her priorities, totally Machiavellian, hypocrite par excellence.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The "CIA's Praetorian Guard"

A pretty impressive shot, no?

Very interesting, from the Associated Press:
WASHINGTON – The raid that killed Osama bin Laden will go down in history as the most important covert operation since 9/11, earning the elite Navy SEAL team that carried it out permanent bragging rights for finishing off the most-wanted terrorist on Earth.

It was a near-textbook operation, despite the near-failure of one of the helicopters carrying the raiders. They all made it into Osama bin Laden's high-walled compound in Pakistan, sliding down ropes in darkness, as they've done on so many raids hunting militants since al-Qaida declared war on the United States.

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"The tip of the spear."

Good Question

From Reuters:
WASHINGTON/ABBOTTABAD, Pakistan (Reuters) – Pakistan's president acknowledged for the first time on Tuesday that his security forces were left out of a U.S. operation to kill Osama bin Laden, but he did little to dispel questions over how the al Qaeda leader was able to live in comfort near Islamabad.

The revelation that bin Laden had holed up in a compound in the military garrison town of Abbottabad, possibly for years, prompted many U.S. lawmakers to demand a review of the billions of dollars in aid Washington gives to nuclear-armed Pakistan.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Table Talk

Is this a table?

I've been away for the better part of the past week, and just tonight I arrived home to find an article from a Catholic publication with the following observations about Sunday Mass:

"and the missed opportunities to embrace our loved ones and the stranger now coalesce in the bread and wine that is shared by all of us without discrimination or distinction."

"...Catholics have a weekly opportunity to come around a common family table."

"Each Sunday, amidst all our human activity, we have an occasion to slow down and bring our stories to the table of faith."

"Around the table, we simply slow down the cadence of our world and hearts and renew our mission before God's love."

"...but deep inside we trust that our running to and from has been transformed by the table bread and the words we have heard."


All in all, "table" was used eight times in a relatively short article about Sunday Mass.

This all sounds benign, right? Warm and comforting to be sure. As you can tell from the quotes, the basic gist of the piece is that, in coming together as a family around a common table, Catholics are refreshed by meal and solidarity to face the frenetic world "out there." While innocent sounding enough, and surely with the best of intentions on the part of the author, the piece represents an all-too-common occurrence in Catholic discussions that reduces the Real Presence and the altar of sacrifice (and all that those words imply) to a less precisely definable and certainly more malleable concept of "table of faith."

As statistics make painfully clear, belief in and awareness of the Catholic Doctrine on the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist among Catholics is abysmally low. This is inexcusable, but not surprising. American society, since its beginning, has been heavily imbibed with a Protestant gloss that, unfortunately surfaces even within the Catholic Church in terms of how theological realities are understood and explained. Many Catholics believe the Eucharist is merely a symbol, an "it" rather than a Person, and that the "community" is the heart of the Church. It is our "coming together" as a family that constitutes the nodal of the Church. The Eucharist then, is a symbol of our bond of love. You see how a concrete definition of what, rather Who, the Eucharist is becomes more hazy as we focus more on ourselves? Incidentally, I've always taken to Flannery O'Connor's quip to a Protestant friend that, "If the Eucharist is just a symbol, then to hell with it."

Given the catechetical lacuna in the country regarding the teaching on the Real Presence, articles about the Holy Eucharist that appear in Catholic publications should veer away from the more Protestant-inspired lexicon of words like "table" and "table bread" and "bread and wine" and take up a more Catholic-derived parlance of words like "altar" and "sacrifice," "Body and Blood." "The altar of sacrifice" so much more strongly evokes a correct theological and liturgical construct than the rarefied and less earthy formula of "table of faith." I've found that one of Catholicism's most appealing traits lies in its earthiness: faith and works, grace and nature, soul and body.

To be honest, I would have struck the phrases "bread and wine" and "table bread" altogether. We're talking about Christ here! The former is downright Protestant in tenor, the latter smacks of table snacks, and "bread" should have at least appeared as "Bread." "Wine" should never be used when referring to the Precious Blood. This is not mere quibbling or scrupulosity over nomenclature. Over time, how we talk about reality, the words we choose, etc., has dire and far-reaching consequences on the belief and convictions of a people. When uncatechized or misinformed Catholics read over and over again about the "bread and wine" they receive at Mass, what (instead of Who) are they likely to think they are receiving?

Furthermore, the Church's teaching on the worthiness of individual Catholics to be able to receive Holy Communion does indeed make distinctions in terms of who may receive Our Lord in Holy Communion, i.e., those practicing Catholics who are in the state of grace, free of mortal sin. There is certainly no distinction when it comes to race, or social status, but when it comes to spiritual preparation, we need to be informed.

This was a piece that underperformed on a supremely important topic.

The Ghent Altarpiece or Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, by Jan Van Eyck
I love how this painting conveys such deep theological realities regarding the Eucharist.

SEAL Team Six

A look at the exceptional group that executed yesterday's incredible raid:

The Raid

How it unfolded:

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The American Way


Good morning America!

Here's to the Navy SEALs!

Regarding the demise of Osama bin Laden, I thought this take from Tim Stanley was fairly on the spot. From the Telegraph:
America is a nation of laws, but beneath all that fine sentiment about procedure there is a stronger hunger for natural justice. One is put in mind of the great, 19th-century historian Hubert Howe Bancroft, whose work on the Wild West discovered and defended an American tradition of personal, violent justice. Lynch law and vendettas, he wrote, were the informal exercise of a people’s will to obtain a verdict that the state was currently powerless to achieve. Europeans had been emasculated by their reliance upon formal law and bureaucracy. It was in the American wilderness that the individual was once again freed to pursue their own kind of rough justice. The assassination of Osama is as American as the shootout that killed Billy the Kid. It is a personal Wild West drama writ-large on the global stage