Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Spring or Winter?

Troubling, but not all that surprising news coming out of Egypt. Guess who's rising to power? From the Telegraph:

Islamist parties on course to dominate Egypt's parliament

Islamist parties are on course to dominate Egypt's first post-revolution parliament after taking most votes in early results from the first round of elections.

Both the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), which is backed by the Muslim Brotherhood, and its rivals agreed that it was leading the count in the first tranche of nine out of Egypt's 27 governorates, including its two most important cities, Cairo and Alexandria.

More unexpected was the apparent success of the FJP's radical rival, Nour, which represents a movement of Salafis inspired by the puritanical political Islam of Saudi Arabia.

"the puritanical political Islam of Saudi Arabia." Great. Just great.

Aaron Rogers on Faith

Green Bay Bishop David Ricken and Aaron Rogers

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers opened up about his relationship with Christ in this 2010 piece from Athletes in Action. Here are a few snippets:
Rodgers grew up in a home where his parents, Ed and Darla, were Christian models for Aaron and his brothers, Luke and Jordan. “I grew up knowing what a stable relationship was by my parents’ example and how it centered on Christ,” Rodgers says, “When our family had its ups and downs, I knew my parents relied on God for everything and He always got us through those rough spots.” ...

When it comes to talking to others about his faith, Rodgers is not one who preaches or pushes his faith on others. “I like the saying from St. Francis of Assisi, ‘Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words.’ I try to live my life in a way that reflects my faith in the Lord,” Rodgers says. “I don’t like to get in peoples’ faces. The best way for me is: Let your actions talk about your beliefs, start a relationship with others, then finally there is a chance for questions.”

Like any Christian, there are struggles Rodgers faces. “It is my daily walking in faith and dealing with life issues and not giving into temptation that can be very challenging,” he adds. “I am always struggling in finding time to daily grow in my faith. If you are not in the Word or focusing on Christ, or into prayer, you can’t help but slip at times.”

______

Here's a clip on from The Compass, Green Bay's diocesan paper.
It's no surprise who football fans in the Diocese of Green Bay say is their favorite quarterback (hint: Discount Double-check). But there are more than Aaron Rodgers' incredible athletic skills that make him a winner.

As most people in Packers country know, Rodgers is a man of intelligence, wit, high character -- and he possesses darn good acting skills. But how many people know that Rodgers is a fan of St. Francis of Assisi?

And, Rogers is a strong pro-lifer!


AFP photo

China Meddling


From the AFP:
The Vatican on Wednesday said it disapproved of the presence of an excommunicated Chinese bishop at an ordination ceremony, having asked that no "illegitimate" clergy take part.

The ordination of Luo Xuegang in Yibin in Sichuan was approved by both China's official church and the Vatican -- a sign tensions could be thawing after a run of ordinations without papal approval which had irked the Holy See.

But while Holy See spokesman Federico Lombardi said the ordination was "positive", the Vatican was not happy about the presence of bishop Lei Shiyin, who was excommunicated in June after he was ordained without papal approval.

"The participation of the illegitimate bishop... arouses disapproval and bewilderment among the faithful," he said.

Walker Stands Pat


From Politico:
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is facing a possible recall in his state, showed no signs Wednesday that he was fazed by voters who want him ousted.

Touting the economic growth and lower taxes that the Badger State has seen under his leadership, Walker said in an interview with Fox News that he would “look forward” the chance to campaign on the reforms he has put in place.

“If come next May or maybe early June, if they actually have the signatures and it forces a new election, all of those issues will be up on the ballot. But I look forward to that,” he said. “I’d love to have the chance to talk to the voters of Wisconsin again to tell that story.”

Asked if he believes he will win reelection, the governor predicted that his accomplishments will trump the attacks made against him.

Decoding Obama

Victor Davis Hanson limns the lessons we've learned from Barack Obama's fading presidency. This one stood out. From National Review Online:
We have learned from Obama that the messianic presidency is a myth. Obama’s attempt to recreate Camelot has only reminded us that JFK’s presidency — tax cuts, Cold War saber-rattling, Vietnam intervention — was never Camelot. We shall see no more Latinate presidential sloganeering (“Vero Possumus”), no more rainbow posters. Gone are the faux-Greek columns, the speeches about seas receding and the planet cooling — now sources of embarrassment rather than nostalgia. Chancellor Merkel won’t want another Victory Column address from someone who ducked out on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Obama himself will not lecture crowds any longer about the dangers of their fainting when he speaks; Michelle will cease all the nonsense about “deign[ing] to enter the messy thing called politics” and finally acquiring pride in the U.S. when it nominated her husband. Even Chris Matthews’s leg has stopped tingling. There will be no more Newsweek comparisons of Obama to a god. Even the Nobel Prize committee will soon grasp that it tarnished its brand by equating fleeting celebrity with lasting achievement.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Green Days


A little bird sporting a Green Beret forwarded this story to me and I thought I'd share it. Congratulations to the Special Forces! From War On Terror News:
Fifty years ago, on November 24, 1961, President John F Kennedy, officially authorized the wear of the distinctive headgear of the Green Beret for US Army Special Forces. It was a decision that overrode the opinions of conventional Army Generals at the time and the result of the commander of US Army Special Forces at Ft Bragg, NC risking the backlash from conventional officers by ordering the wear of the unauthorized headgear in a parade the President was watching.

Mother Teresa talks with William F. Buckley Jr.

WFB poses the question, "Why did God permit pain?"

Cardinal Burke

Here's a short interview with Cardinal Raymond L. Burke in which he discusses his work, his background and the Liturgy.

Swinging to the Tune of Kennedy


ABCNews discusses the likelihood that Justice Kennedy, a man Newt Gingrich once called "a one-man constitutional convention," will be the swing vote on Obamacare.
If the Supreme Court breaks down along its usual ideological lines on the vote on the health care law, Justice Anthony Kennedy -- known as the swing vote on the court -- could be the one to decide whether the government can require almost every American to buy health insurance or pay a fine.

When the court hears the case on the Affordable Care Act in March, advocates, experts and the media will parse every question from Kennedy, hoping for a hint of his views on the merits of the case.

Reunion

From The Blaze:
An 83-year-old Holocaust survivor reunited last week with the Catholic family that rescued her and her family, hiding them from the Nazis in Lithuania.

The Thanksgiving reunion was 66 years in the making, but Mary Katz Erlich, now a grandmother of nine, had no trouble recognizing 81-year-old Aurimas Ruzgys or his 83-year-old sister Egle when she met them at the airport.

“I wouldn’t be sitting here and talking to you today if not for them,” Katz Erlich told Boston Fox affiliate WFXT-TV.

Peter Kreeft in the Badger State

From the Wisconsin State Journal:
To certain Catholics, Peter Kreeft is a rock star.

That was evident Nov. 18, when nearly 500 people filled an auditorium at the Bishop O'Connor Center in Madison to hear him talk.

Kreeft, a Catholic author and Boston College philosophy professor, had been asked by the Catholic Diocese of Madison to speak on whether "a Catholic can be a liberal." Kreeft called it "a very challenging question" and said he'd never spoken on it before. ...

Coming in for the most criticism were elected officials who call themselves Catholic yet support abortion rights.

During the Q&A, an audience member brought up the Kennedy political dynasty and how a group of leading theologians and Catholic college professors had met with Kennedy family members in the mid-1960s and came up with a way for Catholic politicians to support a pro-abortion rights platform with clear consciences.

Kreeft said these Catholic advisers "told the Kennedys how they could get away with murder." Kreeft then made one of his boldest comments of the evening, suggesting the theologians who first convinced Democratic politicians they could support abortion rights and remain Catholic did more damage to the Catholic Church than pedophile priests.

"These were wicked people. These were dishonest people. These were people who, frankly, loved power more than they loved God," Kreeft said. "Sorry, that's just the way it is. In fact, I'd say these were even worse than the child molesters — though the immediate damage they did was not as obvious — because they did it deliberately, it wasn't a sin of weakness. Sins of power are worse than sins of weakness. Cold, calculating sins — that's straight from the devil."

Kreeft is a national treasure, without a doubt one of the best thinkers and writers out there. His Christianity for Modern Pagans, a lyrical blending of Pascal and Aquinas, is definitely in the top five of my favorite books list. His Back to Virtue: Traditional Moral Wisdom for Modern Moral Confusion is also in the top five. Simply brilliant.

Here's an excellent essay Kreeft wrote on relativism, entitled A Refutation of Moral Relativism. It's a great resource, certainly worth bookmarking.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Those In-flight Meals

If you need a good laugh, read this letter from a passenger who flew on Virgin Airlines. He was completely stunned by what was put before him to eat. He snapped some pictures and sent off an incredibly witty letter to the president of the airline. Very funny. The competition is tight, but his description of the cookie, one cookie delivered in a zip-lock bag, takes the cake for me. From the Telegraph:
By now I was actually starting to feel a little hypoglycaemic. I needed a sugar hit. Luckily there was a small cookie provided. It had caught my eye earlier due to it’s baffling presentation: [see image 4, above].

It appears to be in an evidence bag from the scene of a crime. A CRIME AGAINST BLOODY COOKING. Either that or some sort of back-street underground cookie, purchased off a gun-toting maniac high on his own supply of yeast. You certainly wouldn’t want to be caught carrying one of these through customs. Imagine biting into a piece of brass Richard. That would be softer on the teeth than the specimen above.

The Changes Today

Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist, Milwaukee

From the Agence France-Presse:
After 40 years of praying in exactly the same way, English-speaking Catholics around the world had a challenge waiting for them Sunday when they turned up to Mass.

The Mass liturgy, or the text of the most sacred Roman Catholic rite, has been re-launched across the English-speaking world to comply with the Vatican's wish for a more traditional and spiritual tone. ...

As I read this, I thought to myself, "After 40 years of praying in exactly the same way..." Really? Newsflash: Liturgy changes pretty dramatically from parish to parish. For several decades now, liturgical improvisation and innovation (more accurately called abuses) all determined by the caprice of the pastor, have become the norm. One of the principle and legitimate grievances of traditional Catholics is precisely the lack of uniformity in liturgy from parish to parish. You never know what you're going to get. Some parishes are more traditional, while many are more progressive, with freewheeling pastors high-fiving left and right as they process down the aisle (a friend experienced this one), laywomen offering a "reflection" after the Gospel, liturgical dancing, replete with ribbons and rock bands, name tags, and so on. It's been a rough ride, folks. Nothing has been "exactly the same way" when it comes to Liturgy in the United States for the past 40 years.

The article has some common, predictable mistakes. For example:
Changes are frequent, but small, rather than structural. There is nothing on the scale of the revolution brought by the Vatican's abandonment in the 1960s of the centuries-old Latin Mass.

Of course, the Latin Mass was never "abandoned" by the Vatican, despite the best efforts of some. No, it's still alive and well, and growing, drawing scads of young seminarians and young families with lots of kids. I've been attending Mass in the extraordinary form for several months now, so I've missed out a bit on the goings on involving the changes that took effect today. An affinity for constancy, as opposed to flux and improvisation, is one of the common bonds that unite those who attend the Latin Mass.

The new translation is a great thing, don't get me wrong. It's a necessary first step toward recovering our true liturgical heritage and ending the still-widespread liturgical silly season in the United States. Hopefully, the other fixes, such as recovering authentic sacred music, augmenting Sacramental reverence, reintegrating Latin into the liturgy in accordance with Vatican II, etc., will be coming down the pike sooner rather than later.

Newt on Debates

Friday, November 25, 2011

Old-World Chapel in Milwaukee

The other day, I paid a visit to Saint Joseph Chapel on Layton Boulevard in Milwaukee. For almost a century now, the site has been under the solicitous care of the School Sisters of Saint Francis, a religious order tracing its roots back to Schwarzach, Germany. Dedicated in 1917, Saint Joseph Chapel is, quite simply, one of the most stunning architectural and spiritual gems I have come across in the United States. Historically and aesthetically, Saint Joseph Chapel certainly ranks in the top tier of churches in the Milwaukee Archdiocese. And with our generous array of gothic and baroque churches peppering the South Side and elsewhere, that is no small accomplishment. In fact, long ago, Milwaukee architect Richard Philipp based the chapel’s design on careful first-hand studies of Europe’s most splendid churches.

To be honest, I learned about this chapel only the day before I first visited it, having chanced upon a brief description of the chapel online. A native of Milwaukee, I have a general awareness of most of the historic Catholic churches here, and so I couldn’t believe that I never even heard of Saint Joseph Chapel. After reading a few snippets about the colorful mosaics, the exquisite altars hewn from the finest Italian Carrara marble, the 114 stained glass windows (all imported from various European cities), and most interestingly for me personally, the distinct Relic Chapel, I knew I had to see this place for myself, and soon. As it turns out, it was only a short ten-minute drive from my front door.

One accesses the chapel, not through the main entrance to the chapel, but through the main entrance of the Motherhouse. I was greeted at the front desk by a receptionist and, after inquiring about the chapel, I signed in and was given directions: take the stairs to the second floor, take a right and you’re there. Upon entering the chapel, let’s just say, I was not disappointed. The striking high altar and reredos in the distance competed with the richly illuminated, color-drenched stained glass windows for my eye’s immediate attention. After praying for a few minutes, I looked around and noted the elegant antique chandeliers, perhaps fashioned in brass, that were gracefully suspended by long chains from the vaulted ceiling. The centrality of the Holy Eucharist was most evident, as the white, chiseled marble of the high altar and reredos framed the large, golden tabernacle doors protecting the Blessed Sacrament. In the transept, to the left and the right, were four enormous baroque confessionals, carved from oak and engraved with amazing detail. Sunbeams penetrated the large stained glass windows running the entire circumference of the chapel. The quality of these windows, all imported from Innsbruck, Austria, is astonishing. I have never seen such beautiful stained glass in the United States, and in such rich abundance. At the highest points in the ceiling are two large stained glass oculi. These elegant windows to the heavens allow even more sunlight to cascade like water into the chapel. The rays of light streaming into the chapel blanket the sanctuary walls that are inlaid with enormous mosaics. The central design shows Christ handing the keys of the kingdom to Saint Peter. This mosaic is flanked by two more intricate stone and glass scenes, one of the apostles, each holding the instruments of their martyrdom, and the other depicting the Fourteen Holy Helpers, popular Saints in Germany dating from medieval times. Even the floor of sanctuary displays beautiful mosaic designs.

As I walked about looking high and low, a kind sister who had been busy cleaning the chapel approached me and graciously offered an impromptu tour. Sister Mary Alma pointed out the large golden and bejeweled reliquary under the side altar dedicated to the Sacred Heart, which holds the bones of Saint Leoninus. An early church martyr, the Saint’s revered remains were brought from the Catacombs of Saint Callixtus in Rome and have been venerated in Milwaukee’s Saint Joseph Chapel for generations. Having spent a few years living in Rome, and being very familiar with its mysterious and musty catacombs, I felt an immediate bond with this Saint.

Sister Mary Alma then singled out those sanctuary mosaics, offering a brief story for each one. She then led me behind the sanctuary to the Adoration Chapel, where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed and worshipped by the Sisters and the faithful who visit. This precious room, a sanctuary within a sanctuary, is more intimate than the larger chapel, and is just as beautiful, serving as a perfect setting for silent prayer. The chapel is shaped in a semi-circle, and its walls display large, exquisitely detailed stained glass windows of various Saints who, during their lives, demonstrated strong devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. Among the Saints depicted are Saint Clare of Assisi and Saint Anthony of Padua. The high altar in this chapel is also fashioned in brilliantly white Carrara marble. Two angels guard the tabernacle and suspend a dazzling crown of gold over our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Tiny white cherub faces also peek out from the marble.

Sister Mary Alma then took me into the sacristy and pointed upward to the paintings coating the walls. Each painting depicts one of the seven Sacraments of the Church, poignant reminders for a priest vesting before Mass. These precious works of art were painted in the early part of the 20th century by various Sisters of the Order. One painting shows Saint John Vianney hearing confessions. This holy priest was known to spend hours upon hours hearing confessions. Those huge, polished confessionals anchored in the transepts came to mind.

As we progressed with the tour, I inquired about the renowned collection of relics which I knew resided somewhere in the chapel. I already noticed a number of large gold reliquaries stationed at various points in the main chapel. Sister responded, “Oh yes, we have many relics here.” And she directed me upstairs to the Relic Chapel.

I was very interested to see this part of the chapel. Relics have a secure and revered place in the Church’s history, dating back to the earliest days of Christianity. Unfortunately, the veneration of relics has fallen out of practice in the United States, as many Catholics incorrectly view the displaying and honoring of the mortal remains of Saints as a morbid, or even bizarre practice, best left to medieval times. That’s why I was thrilled to see that the good Sisters of Saint Francis at Saint Joseph Chapel proudly uphold this ancient Catholic tradition. The chapel itself boasts hundreds of first-class relics of some of the most prominent Saints in the Church, including the Apostles and Saint John the Baptist, as well as many of the early Church martyrs. There are also numerous relics of the True Cross. The relics vary in size; some are just small slivers and specks of bone, while others consist of rather large pieces of bone. All are secured in intricately fashioned gold and silver reliquaries with tiny slips of paper that indicate in Latin the Saint represented therein. As I prayed alone in the calm silence of this chapel, I naturally thought of all the Saints who were represented in this room by their relics. I thought especially of the chosen men who were destined to become “fishers of men,” who set out in their boat into the calm silence of dawn and saw their Lord standing on the not-too-distant shore. You feel an indescribable proximity to the Saints in heaven when praying in the presence of their mortal remains here on earth.

Milwaukee-area Catholics should pay a visit to Saint Joseph Chapel, at 1501 South Layton Boulevard. This splendid sacred place is truly one of the archdiocese’s best-kept secrets, and it should be rediscovered by a new generation of Catholics. No doubt, visitors will experience first-hand the very best of the rich patrimony of the Catholic Church in all its splendor, in Sacrament and in art.

(Click on images to enlarge) A view of the sanctuary from the gallery. There were some post-Vatican II changes made, but they were tastefully done.

The sanctuary

The choir loft and organ, as well as the elegant brass chandeliers

The high altar of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel

Detail of the mosaic in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel

A view of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel's windows.

The Relic Chapel! I love relics, and there are hundreds of them here. Saint Joseph Chapel has one of the largest collection of relics I've seen.

Saint Michael the Archangel (and angry Satan) stained-glass window. There were numerous windows like this one, depicting various Saints.

Saint Agnes

Saint Francis receives the stigmata

The presentation of Mary at the temple

Saints Joachim and Anne with the Virgin Mary

The Annunciation

The Assumption

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanks be to God

Not if you ask Barack Obama. From FoxNews:
President Obama did not include any reference to God during his weekly address titled, “On Thanksgiving, Grateful for the Men and Women Who Defend Our Country.”

His remarks were void of any religious references although Thanksgiving is a holiday traditionally steeped in giving thanks and praise to God.

The president said his family was “reflecting on how truly lucky we truly are.”

This is just odd. There's no other way to describe it. Read the rest of it.

What President of the United States talks this way? "How truly lucky we truly are..." This holiday is so deeply linked to a public recognition on the part of our leaders of God's great beneficence that the president's conspicuous omission of any reference to God in his official address today borders on the scandalous. But you see, Barack Obama cannot help himself. The address is a perfect reflection of the man. This is how he sees the world. His agnostic, sterile Thanksgiving screed, devoid of any reference to God and loaded with empty platitudes and fluff, says a lot about the hollowness of the man, about his rootless background and his irreligious upbringing.

On Cohabitation

I was pleasantly surprised by this article, appearing in match.com, that presents a strong case for living separately before marriage (a given for couples for generations, but growing more rare by the year in our birth control-saturated culture). I thought these observation made by 25-year-old Kendall J. were excellent.
"The investment in a healthy relationship is more valuable to us than saving a few bucks. Statistics clearly show that couples who live together have a higher rate of divorce than those who don’t. Living together now would definitely benefit us in the short term. But if my marriage was to fall apart — whether I’m debt free or not — I will have lost something far more important than money." ...

But what about the wisdom that living together is a “breaking in” period that prepares you for marriage? “Many people say you need to ‘test the waters’ before getting married,” says Kendall, “but most people are really testing whether their partner fits into their lifestyle. Of course the other person doesn’t fit neatly into their life — marriage isn’t about that. Marriage is two imperfect people learning to live together. You have to decide from the moment you move in that leaving is not an option. That’s hard to do when it’s not accompanied by a marriage commitment.”

Modern Day Iconoclasm

From Politico:
A large cross that had been prominently displayed outside a chapel on an isolated military base in northern Afghanistan was taken down last week, prompting outrage from some American service members stationed there.

“We are here away from our families, and the chapel is the one place that feels like home,” a service member at Camp Marmal told POLITICO. “With the cross on the outside, it is a constant reminder for all of us that Jesus is here for us.” ...

“I really don’t understand why Christians are always attacked. If it was a crescent moon on top of a mosque, it would never be taken down,” said an Army serviceman.

“We would just like to know where the line is. The chaplains wear different religious symbols on their uniforms depending on which religion they are. Is that the next thing to be targeted?” added a second service member.

Sad. It didn't matter that troops on the frontline drew strength from that cross, ineffable strength to persevere under very harsh conditions. No doubt some officer received a call from on high and caved to pressure. I can see Obama's fingerprints all over this. Not that he ordered it directly, but instances like this are becoming commonplace under his reign of political correctness and multi-culturalism.

The First Thanksgiving

St. Augustine, FL, in 1565

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Forget the turkey, the silly Pilgrim hats and the buckles.

Forget Plymouth Rock and 1621.

If you want to know about the real first Thanksgiving on American soil, travel 1,200 miles south and more than 50 years earlier to a grassy spot on the Matanzas River in North Florida.

This is where Spanish Adm. Pedro Menendez de Aviles came ashore on Sept. 8, 1565. This is where he, 500 soldiers, 200 sailors, 100 civilian families and artisans, and the Timucuan Indians who occupied the village of Seloy gathered at a makeshift altar and said the first Christian Mass. And afterward, this is where they held the first Thanksgiving feast.

The Timucuans brought oysters and giant clams. The Spaniards carried from their ships garbanzo beans, olive oil, bread, pork and wine.

Sounds like quite the party. I like that food combination!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Chicago 51?

From The Ticket:
A state Republican legislator has introduced a bill to the Illinois General Assembly to separate the Chicago's county from the state--effectively making the midwestern city the 51st state in the union.

The bill, filed by State Rep. Bill Mitchell of Decatur Tuesday, would "enact legislation dividing Illinois and Cook County into separate states" because county residents "hold different and firmly seated views" on "politics, society, and economics" from people in the rest of the state. The bill's supporters point to higher tax rates and strict gun laws in the Chicago area and contend that the northern county is out of step with its Illinois neighbors.

Not a bad thought.

Venom


From The Ticket:
Late night host Jimmy Fallon apologized to Michele Bachmann Tuesday after his house band played an offensive song as she walked on stage during an appearance on his show Monday.

Fallon's house band, The Roots, played "Lyin' Ass Bitch" by Fishbone to welcome her to the late night show—a song most people, including Bachmann, didn't notice until Questlove, the band's drummer, hinted at it in a Twitter message. ...

But Fallon's apology doesn't appear to be enough for Bachmann, who accused NBC of sexism for not issuing an apology on behalf of the network. She told Fox News in an interview Wednesday whoever in the band chose the song should disciplined or fired and suggested NBC has a double standard in how it treats Republican women.

"This wouldn't be tolerated if it were Michelle Obama, and it shouldn't be tolerated for a conservative woman," Bachmann said, calling the song choice an "outrage."

Bachmann is absolutely right about the Michelle Obama scenario. Truly outrageous.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Witness


Denver Broncos QB Tim Tebow offered the following reflection on his relationship with Christ. He was responding to a critic who recommended that Tebow curtail somewhat his frequent references to Christ's influence in his life.
If you're married, and you have a wife, and you really love your wife, is it good enough to only say to your wife 'I love her' the day you get married? Or should you tell her every single day when you wake up and every opportunity?

And that's how I feel about my relationship with Jesus Christ is that it is the most important thing in my life. So any time I get an opportunity to tell him that I love him or given an opportunity to shout him out on national TV, I'm gonna take that opportunity. And so I look at it as a relationship that I have with him that I want to give him the honor and glory anytime I have the opportunity. And then right after I give him the honor and glory, I always try to give my teammates the honor and glory.

And that's how it works because Christ comes first in my life, and then my family, and then my teammates."

Climategate, Redux

From James Delingpole, writing for the Telegraph:
Breaking news: two years after the Climategate, a further batch of emails has been leaked onto the internet by a person – or persons – unknown. And as before, they show the "scientists" at the heart of the Man-Made Global Warming industry in a most unflattering light. Michael Mann, Phil Jones, Ben Santer, Tom Wigley, Kevin Trenberth, Keith Briffa – all your favourite Climategate characters are here, once again caught red-handed in a series of emails exaggerating the extent of Anthropogenic Global Warming, while privately admitting to one another that the evidence is nowhere near as a strong as they'd like it to be.

In other words, what these emails confirm is that the great man-made global warming scare is not about science but about political activism.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The EU Problem

From the perspective of Spain, Italy, France, etc., nations all subject to greater EU consolidation, does voting on the part of the Spaniard, the Italian, the French really matter anymore? It's a lesson that Americans should take to heart, as our own states have seen their power diminish to the point of becoming mere satellite outposts of the federal government.

From Daniel Hannon, writing for the Telegraph:
One of the curiosities of contemporary Europe is that, while people keep voting for Rightist parties, nothing much changes. Only three per cent of EU nationals now live under Left-led governments (those in Austria, Cyprus and Slovenia – I don't think we can count Greece any more). Yet spending continues to rise (except on defence), bureaucracies continue to grow, powers continue to shift from national capitals to Brussels. Which brings us up against a hard truth. As long as most laws come from Brussels, and as long as economic policy comes from Frankfurt, it really doesn't matter how you vote.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Reign of Terror Over


From the Associated Press:
MADRID (AP) — Spain's opposition conservatives are headed for victory and perhaps an absolute majority in parliament as voters braving staggering unemployment ousted the ruling Socialists, according to official results based on 20 percent of the votes cast.

The Interior Ministry said the center-right Popular Party had 179 seats in the 350-member lower chamber, against 109 for the Socialists. In the last legislature, the conservatives had 154 seats and the Socialists 169. An absolute majority is 176.

The Socialist party in Spain has been particularly insidious over the past eight or so years, infuriating Catholics by setting in place a number of horrendous, anti-Catholic, uber-liberal reforms. Over the years, Socialist Prime Minister José Luis Zapatero took gratuitous digs at President Bush during the latter's administration.

Questions remain as to how quickly, if at all, the new conservative majority will overturn the Zapatero-era laws. Time will tell, but I'm optimistic. I've been waiting for this day for years. Wherever you are, whatever you're doing today, find a way to celebrate this. Hopefully, our own election will go as well in a year.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Relic




From MSNBC:
According to a number of religious texts, Thomas the Apostle, or Doubting Thomas since he did not believe in the ascension of Christ until he touched Christ's wounds, also doubted the Virgin Mary's Assumption. It is said that she tossed her girdle, or what is now called a belt, that she had made from camel hair herself, to Thomas from above in order to make him believe that she had been lifted to heaven.

Today there are two parties that claim to possess the belt in its entirety: the Cathedral of Prato in Italy and the Vatopedi Monastery on Mt. Athos in Greece. Despite the claims of both the cathedral and monastery, thousands of people come out to see both pieces when they are made available for viewings. In Italy, the belt can be seen five times per year: Easter, May 1, Aug. 15, Sept. 8 and Dec. 24. On Mt. Athos, viewings are limited only to men, so the current showing in Russia is quite special.

The 'Occupy' Conceit

Rank hypocrisy and a relentless air of sanctimony are noted qualities of the left. The accepted standards of decency that everyone else abides by simply don't apply to liberals when they are fighting the "good fight." The righteousness of their cause exempts them from the law. This trait has been on glorious display in Wisconsin, as liberal activists and public sector union cronies (many from out of state) have been indefatigability harassing, stalking and threatening Republican legislators and even the governor.

Guy Stagg, writing for the Telegraph, discusses this as it relates to the Occupy movement:
The Occupy protestors do not represent people of all political outlooks and from all walks of life. Equally, their causes and concerns are not universal. Instead they are a bunch of pressure groups, fringe campaigns, and partisan causes, dressed up as a mass movement. Yet despite this fact, they pretend to speak for us all.

That pretence is the real objection I have to the Occupy Movement. The protestors think that they are on the side of goodness and virtue. So they are quite happy to assume the support of a general public that was never even asked. More worryingly, they are quite happy to ignore police eviction notices, and mock the traditional model of democratic accountability.

The Left has laid claim to morality. And the cultural establishment has let them, indeed it has all but supported them. But the truth is, you don’t have to be Left-wing to be good.

BXVI on Reason and Law

Pope Benedict XVI leaves the podium after addressing German lawmakers.

Back in September the Holy Father gave a brilliant address to the German Parliament on the origin of law and the ability of reason to discern what is right. I bookmarked it on my computer a while back and, after just revisiting it, I thought I'd share an excerpt here. It is so good that I found it very difficult to pull just one snippet. Every legislator in America should read this. It's a welcome dose of serious thought in an age of vapid talking points and appeals to emotions.
For the development of law and for the development of humanity, it was highly significant that Christian theologians aligned themselves against the religious law associated with polytheism and on the side of philosophy, and that they acknowledged reason and nature in their interrelation as the universally valid source of law. This step had already been taken by Saint Paul in the Letter to the Romans, when he said: “When Gentiles who have not the Law [the Torah of Israel] do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves ... they show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness ...” (Rom 2:14f.). Here we see the two fundamental concepts of nature and conscience, where conscience is nothing other than Solomon’s listening heart, reason that is open to the language of being. If this seemed to offer a clear explanation of the foundations of legislation up to the time of the Enlightenment, up to the time of the Declaration on Human Rights after the Second World War and the framing of our Basic Law, there has been a dramatic shift in the situation in the last half-century. The idea of natural law is today viewed as a specifically Catholic doctrine, not worth bringing into the discussion in a non-Catholic environment, so that one feels almost ashamed even to mention the term. Let me outline briefly how this situation arose. Fundamentally it is because of the idea that an unbridgeable gulf exists between “is” and “ought”. An “ought” can never follow from an “is”, because the two are situated on completely different planes.

Penn State and Society

“When we say ‘we don’t know what we’d do under the same circumstances,’ we make cowardice the default position.”

Mark Steyn makes an excellent point on our culture in the context of the Penn State scandal, and the terrible negligence of those who should have intervened and reported the abuse long ago. It's obviously not an easy subject to read about, but I think it is worth sharing.

From National Review Online:
I quote that line [above] in my current book, in a section on the “no man’s land” of contemporary culture. It contrasts the behavior of the men on the Titanic who (notwithstanding James Cameron’s wretched movie) went down with the ship and those of the École Polytechnique in Montreal decades later who, ordered to leave the classroom by a lone gunman, meekly did as they were told and stood passively in the corridor as he shot all the women. ...

That’s the issue at the heart of Penn State’s institutional wickedness and its many deluded defenders. In my book, I also quote the writer George Jonas back when the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were revealed to be burning down the barns of Quebec separatists: With his characteristic insouciance, the prime minister Pierre Trudeau responded that, if people were so bothered by illegal barn burning by the Mounties, perhaps he would make it legal. Jonas pointed out that burning barns isn’t wrong because it’s illegal, it’s illegal because it’s wrong. A society that no longer understands that distinction is in deep trouble. To argue that a man witnessing child sex in progress has no responsibility other than to comply with procedures and report it to a colleague further up the chain of command represents a near-suicidal loss of that distinction.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Walker Reformation

Syrian Slip

John Bolton comments on the Obama Administration's mishandling of Syria. From The Daily Beast:
The Arab League’s decision to suspend Syria is a serious blow to President Bashar al-Assad’s highly unpopular regime, and has led many to believe that its end is nigh. We can all certainly hope for Assad’s fall, but the real import of the Arab League’s tough stance is the escalation it represents in the Sunni Arab world’s growing confrontation against Shia Iran.

What should America do? Why, after decades of Syria supporting international terrorists, pursuing weapons of mass destruction, and brutalizing its citizens (using chemical weapons under Assad’s father), do we not pursue regime change?

Was Shakespeare a Closet Catholic?


From the Telegraph:
The Vatican's official newspaper has claimed there are "few doubts" that William Shakespeare was a Catholic.

L'Osservatore Romano, a week after proclaiming Tintin a Catholic hero, said the Bard's plays "teem with open references to the Catholic religion."

The newspaper reopened a debate which has raged ever since an Anglican archdeacon said of Shakespeare a few decades after his death: "He died a Papist."

In a lengthy article which appeared alongside a review of the new Shakespeare film, 'Anonymous', L'Osservatore Romano (The Roman Observer) said the references to purgatory in Hamlet and other plays betrayed distinctly Catholic beliefs and marked Shakespeare out as a crypto-Catholic.

The Church's Future


From the Associated Press:
COTONOU, Benin (AP) — Women wearing dresses bearing Pope Benedict XVI's portrait tried to climb flagpoles to catch a glimpse of him as he arrived Friday on his second trip to Africa, while security struggled to hold back African nuns trying to reach over the cordon to touch him.

Africa, where the 84-year-old pope is returning for the first time since his controversial comments on condoms two years ago, is the fastest-growing region for the Roman Catholic Church. Its rapidly growing congregations and pool of aspiring priests is helping breathe life into a church which has seen a steep decline in the Western hemisphere.

Conservative Revenge


The Socialist reign of terror in Spain is about to see its curtain call. From the Telegraph:
Spain fears for turning back clock on liberal reforms
Spain's conservatives are poised to be swept to power on Sunday on the back of economic turmoil, sparking fears the vote could turn back the clock on seven years of liberal reforms.

Polls predict a landslide win for Mariano Rajoy's Popular Party after a week that has seen Spain's borrowing costs soar to record levels raising fears that Spain could become the next victim of Europe's debt crisis.

Economic woes have dominated the campaign with the likely new leader pledging to restore the confidence of jittery financial markets and boost business, but little has been said of what other changes are afoot.

The socialists are being punished for their handling of the economic crisis that saw Spain lurch from boom to bust and unemployment soar to 22 per cent – twice the EU average – overshadowing their record of social reforms that has transformed the traditionally Roman Catholic country.

Since coming to power in 2004, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has enacted radical social reforms that would once have been unthinkable [in] Spain – legalising gay marriages, relaxing divorce laws and reforming the abortion law.

Let's hope that the conservatives move quickly to roll back Zapatero's legacy.

Crystal Catholic



From The Lookout:
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange County, California is buying Robert Schuller's celebrated Protestant Crystal Cathedral megachurch for $57.5 million, the LA Times reports. The spacious, light-filled house of worship is a "a monument of 20th century modernist architecture," the Times writes.

Schuller, 85, founded his ministry half a century ago and soon began starring in his own TV worship show, "Hour of Power." The church filed for Chapter 11 last year, and under the terms of its bankruptcy agreement can lease back the space for three more years before finding a new home. According to Catholic News Agency, there are more than a million Catholics in Orange County.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Egyptian Christians

The assaults on this beleaguered minority continue. From Reuters:
CAIRO (Reuters) - Twenty-nine people were injured in Cairo on Thursday when residents clashed with a group of Christians marching through the capital to commemorate those who died in confrontations with the army on October 9, state news agency MENA said.

The Coptic Christians were marching from Cairo's northern Shoubra suburb toward the landmark Tahrir Square in the city center when the clashes broke out.

"The locals in the neighborhood of Bulak attacked the group on their way to the square and threw stones at them," a security source told Reuters.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"Vatican II" vs. Vatican II

This is a short "conversation" that underscores the gulf between the predominant, conventional wisdom about the Second Vatican Council on the one hand, and what the Council actually taught on the other. Very funny.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Why Newt? Why Not?

Newt Gingrich discusses his record, his baggage, and his Catholic faith in this two-part interview.

Sit This One Out


Supreme Court Associate Justice Elena Kagan must recuse herself from the upcoming hearing on the constitutionality of Obamacare. But will she?

From CNSNews:
(CNSNews.com) - On Sunday, March 21, 2010, the day the House of Representatives passed President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, then-Solicitor General Elena Kagan and famed Supreme Court litigator and Harvard Law Prof. Laurence Tribe, who was then serving in the Justice Department, had an email exchange in which they discussed the pending health-care vote, according to documents the Department of Justice released late Wednesday to the Media Research Center, CNSNews.com's parent organization, and to Judicial Watch.

“I hear they have the votes, Larry!! Simply amazing,” Kagan said to Tribe in one of the emails.

An objective mind to sit in judgement on the case? Hardly. A remarkable find. Stay tuned...

-----

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, I have not found one report in the mainstream media about the Kagan-email story. More focus has been given to the science of the brain freeze, as it relates to Herman Cain and Rick Perry. Maybe Chelsea Clinton, NBC's latest reporter celeb., will be tasked to cover it.

End Game


From ABC News:
The Supreme Court announced Monday morning that it will hear a challenge to the Obama administration’s signature legislative achievement: the health care reform law.

In a paper statement the Court said it would focus on a case brought by 26 states, the National Federation of Independent Business and two individuals.

The case challenges the constitutionality of the law’s key provision, the individual mandate, that requires individuals to buy health care insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty.

As usual with controversial, high-profile rulings, all eyes will be on Justice Kennedy. I don't think there's any affection on the part of Kennedy toward Obama, especially in the wake of the latter's public upbraiding of the Court at the 2010 State of the Union address (over a ruling written by Kennedy). For what it's worth, I predict a 5-4 ruling to overturn Obamacare, followed up a few months later by Obama's defeat for reelection.

How difficult is it to see that, if the individual mandate is constitutional, Congress would effectively have zero restraints on what it can do to the people under the auspices of the commerce clause?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Battles Ahead


From the Associated Press:
The mood among many U.S. Roman Catholic bishops was captured in a recent speech by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia. His talk, called "Catholics in the Next America," painted a bleak picture of a nation increasingly intolerant of Christianity.

"The America emerging in the next several decades is likely to be much less friendly to Christian faith than anything in our country's past," Chaput told students last week at Assumption College, an Augustinian school in Worcester, Massachusetts. "It's not a question of when or if it might happen. It's happening today."

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meets Monday in Baltimore for its national meeting feeling under siege: from a broader culture moving toward accepting gay marriage; a White House they often condemn as hostile to Catholic teaching; and state legislatures that church leaders say are chipping away at religious liberty.

It's not surprising that Archbishop Chaput is among the more vocal in this fight. He's a great example of a true shepherd of souls.

On Liturgy and Unity


Archbishop John C. Nienstedt recently penned an excellent pastoral letter on the Sacred Liturgy, Do This In Memory of Me. Here is an excerpt that I found particularly relevant for today.
But unity does not mean “going along to get along.” That would be a false unity, and one that cannot endure. True unity, rather, must be rooted in the truth and in our adherence to it. For Catholics, unity means oneness in faith, as enunciated in the Creed and the authoritative teachings of the Church. This unity is manifested in our worthy reception of the sacraments, especially the sacrament of sacraments that is the Holy Eucharist, justly referred to as the “sacrament of unity.” As we are gathered around the one bread and the one cup, we are strengthened and summoned to form an ever greater unity of mind and heart with Christ Himself, so that we might be joined more closely to one another. Our unity with each other comes from this unity in Christ.

I remember as a junior in seminary college being sent to a national seminarians’ conference in Columbia, Missouri. The year was 1964. One evening I was invited to one of the hotel rooms to participate in “the Liturgy.” When I arrived, the room was dark and a number of seminarians were seated with “the presider” on the floor around a small table upon which had been placed a loaf of bread and large glass of wine. As the service began, it became clear to me that this was an experimental liturgy as the words being used were quite unfamiliar to me. I remember being offended at the arbitrary selection of secular readings and home crafted texts. When it came time to share in the one loaf and the one cup, I excused myself and went back to my room.

Recently, I read a quote from Pope Benedict’s earlier writings that reflect what I learned that night. As a Cardinal, the Pontiff wrote that when the Liturgy is “manipulated ever more freely, the faithful feel that, in reality, nothing is celebrated and it is understandable that they desert the Liturgy and with it the Church.”

To avoid such unfortunate results, then, it is necessary that parishes and priests be obedient to the rubrics and the definitive legislation concerning our common liturgical texts, actions and practices. Such obedience serves to better communicate and, in fact, realize that unity which is the heartfelt prayer of Jesus.

The question remains: why have so many in positions of leadership in the Church treated liturgical abuses and improvisations as not particularly important?

Apart from the exceptions like Archbishop John C. Nienstedt and Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, to mention a couple, you'd be hard pressed to find a bishop that takes a strong stance on this important subject. It's not that they encourage or endorse the abuses, but there's really not a muscular effort to stop them, outside of the perfunctory, feckless statement from time to time about following the rules. They don't seem to share the concern of then-Cardinal Ratzinger about the desertion of many Catholics stemming from abuses and the incoherent sentimentalism all too often found in liturgy.

Many of the clumsy "ministry" offices set up by the diocesan bureaucracy, ostensibly to evangelize, would be totally unnecessary if proper attention was given to correcting liturgical abuses. Of course, this diagnosis and recommendation would be seen as too simplistic by diocesan cognoscenti, who always know better. However in this case, the principle lex parsimoniae applies. Beautiful, reverent liturgy is not tangential to the goals of evangelization. It's no surprise that traditional parishes, representing both of the Novus Ordo and Extraordinary Form, are growing by leaps and bounds.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Martyr's Story



Here's an snippet from a very sad, yet inspirational story that I first read about in National Review about a young Christian student in Egypt who was beaten and killed by his fellow students and teacher for refusing to remove or cover his cross.

From Faith Freedom:
A Christian teenager was beaten to death by Muslim classmates at their school in Egypt after he refused to conceal his cross tattoo and necklace.

Ayman Nabil Labib (17) was set upon after his Muslim teacher told him to cover up the cross tattoo on his wrist; he refused and instead boldly displayed another cross that he was wearing under his clothes.

His parents said that their son was murdered in “cold blood”; first Ayman’s teacher nearly choked the teenager in the classroom, and then some Muslim students joined in the beating. Ayman fled to the toilets, where the assault continued. He died at the scene.

Newt's 21st Century Contract

If you have some time, watch this video. I can't help being deeply impressed by Newt Gingrich and his firm handle on the issues. He's remarkably clear and well informed on everything he brings up for discussion. None of the other candidates come close to Gingrich, in terms of knowledge, and it's no wonder he's getting a second look.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Christmas in Wisconsin


The greatest governor in the United States continues to send liberals into apoplexy. What is most edifying about Scott Walker is his utter fearlessness. He simply does not care what the left thinks about him. Walker's polished, Boy Scout image makes his most vocal critics come across as unhinged, truly non compos mentis. From the Associated Press:
MADISON — First, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker took on public sector unions.

Now he’s re-igniting the Christmas wars.

Walker said Monday that the evergreen decorated with ornaments and adorned with a star in the center of Wisconsin’s Capitol Rotunda is a Christmas tree, not a holiday tree as it’s been called for the past 25 years.

The roughly 30-foot-tall tree was called a Christmas tree from the first display in 1916 until 1985. That’s when politicians bowed to concerns about government endorsing religion and started referring to it as a holiday tree.

And oh, how the left is angry about this one. Read on.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Gingrich Inc.


Anyone paying attention to the Republican debates cannot ignore the stellar performances repeatedly given by Newt Gingrich. Time and again, he outshines the competition, and it doesn't even look like he's breaking a sweat. Creative and fresh ideas, a dizzying array of facts, piercing wit and smooth eloquence exude from the former Speaker of the House. While the rest of the candidates squabble like schoolyard children over a variety of minutiae, each attempting to outdo the next with catchy talking points, Gingrich, flashing a wry grin that reveals a thinly veiled disgust with the bickering, cooly introduces serious ideas and substance.

I was able to catch some of the Lincoln-Douglas debate between Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain. The debate originated with Gingrich and the idea was to embrace a format more conducive to a substantive discussion on the issues, giving much more time to allow for a free back and forth between the men, which also included greatly limiting the role of the moderator. Gingrich, who holds a doctorate in history, was simply masterful in the debate. What impressed me the most was how Gingrich, without pause, would routinely reference a scholarly book or study to back up his point on the subject at hand. On the question of entitlements and responsibility, Gingrich recommended reading a poignant letter that Abraham Lincoln wrote to his brother, explaining why he would no longer send him money upon request, as dependency and entitlement had clearly set in.

If he wins the nomination, he has said he would challenge Obama to seven Lincoln-Douglas style debates. Who wouldn't love to see that happen? There is no question that Gingrich would easily handle Obama in a meeting like that.

For more on Gingrich's growing appeal, read this article by Dorothy Rabinowitz, appearing in The Wall Street Journal:
Newt Gingrich's rise in the polls—from near zero to the third slot in several polls—should come as no surprise to people who have been watching the Republican debates, now drawing television viewers as never before. The former speaker has stood out at these forums, the debater whose audiences seem to hang on his words and on a flow of thought rich in substance, a world apart from the usual that the political season brings.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Translations and Revolutions

Pope Paul VI brings the Council to a close

For an outsiders perspective on the new liturgical translations coming in a few weeks, check out this story by the Associated Press:
RIVER EDGE, N.J. (AP) — Each Sunday for decades, Roman Catholic priests have offered the blessing — "Lord be with you." And each Sunday, parishioners would respond, "And also with you."

Until this month.

Come Nov. 27, the response will be, "And with your spirit." And so will begin a small revolution in a tradition-rich faith.

Not so much a revolution as a recovery.

The number of factually inaccurate premises in stories like this (if you read on), coming from both secular and religious sources, never ceases to amaze me. Among the more noteworthy errors on the question of liturgy and Vatican II, you'll often read the old canard about those revolutionary Vatican II directives that allegedly dismantled Latin in favor of the vernacular. This simply never happened. It is true that Latin was all but erased in nearly every parish in the United States after Vatican II, but the Council certainly never called for this. Read the documents!

An inch was given, in terms of the Council fathers encouraging the limited use of the vernacular (while leaving the core Latin prayers intact) and a mile was taken by pastors and bishops, who jumped on a small opening and blew open a gaping hole. Of course, conventional wisdom proffers the line that Vatican II was revolutionary when it came to the liturgy.

Students of revolutions know that, for a revolution to be authentic, it must represent a complete rupture with the past. (That is why the American Revolution is more accurately called the American War for Independence, as Americans sought to lay claim on ancient rights that had already been a part of English Common Law for centuries.) Vatican II did not call for a clean break from the past. A case can be made that the changes that followed the Council were in fact revolutionary and represented, in the very least, a crack, if not a rupture. As Bishop James Slattery recently said, regarding the consequences of the radical changes that occurred in liturgy,

"What we lost in a short period of time was continuity. The new liturgy should be clearly identifiable as the liturgy of the pre-Vatican II Church. Changes, like turning the altar around, were too sudden and too radical. There is nothing in the Vatican II documents that justifies such changes."

The Person Begins...

From The Christian Science Monitor:
Abortion rights in Mississippi are being tested with a referendum on the ballot Tuesday asking voters to amend the state constitution to redefine the term “person” to include “every human being from the moment of fertilization” or cloning.

Opponents charge the change – which both sides say is likely to pass – is a backdoor way to outlaw abortion that could put the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision in jeopardy. Redefining “personhood” under Mississippi's Bill of Rights will likely lead to court battles that may end up before the US Supreme Court.

The implications of this referendum are obvious. If such a law sees the light of day, what will it mean for the future of the enormously lucrative contraception industry? Many forms of birth control operate as efficient, easy to acquire, abortifacients, terminating the life of a person in its earliest stage. Surely, if the life of the human person is understood to begin at the moment of conception, it will force a second look at birth control, which is exactly why this measure is being cast as 'extreme' by those opposing it. After all, how can something so ho-hum, 'safe' and 'responsible' as birth control be bad?

Expect a great deal of resistance to this push, even among soi-disant conservatives who traditionally align themselves on the pro-life side of things, and portray contraception as the clean alternative to procured abortion. Sadly, society is simply too comfortable with artificial birth control.

For more on this, read Why Mississippi's 'Personhood' Law Could Outlaw Birth Control.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

In the Details





From Reuters:
ROME (Reuters) - Art restorers have discovered the figure of a devil hidden in the clouds of one of the most famous frescos by Giotto in the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi, church officials said on Saturday.

The devil was hidden in the details of clouds at the top of fresco number 20 in the cycle of the scenes in the life and death of St Francis painted by Giotto in the 13th century.

The discovery was made by Italian art historian Chiara Frugone. It shows a profile of a figure with a hooked nose, a sly smile, and dark horns hidden among the clouds in the panel of the scene depicting the death of St Francis.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Anarchists and Statists

Mark Steyn gets it right in his latest National Review piece on the Occupiers. Here's a snippet.
I don’t “stand with the 99%,” and certainly not downwind of them. But I’m all for their “occupation” continuing on its merry way. It usefully clarifies the stakes. At first glance, an alliance of anarchists and government might appear to be somewhat paradoxical. But the formal convergence in Oakland makes explicit the movement’s aims: They’re anarchists for statism, wild free-spirited youth demanding more and more total government control of every aspect of life — just so long as it respects the fundamental human right to sloth. What’s happening in Oakland is a logical exercise in class solidarity: The government class enthusiastically backing the breakdown of civil order is making common cause with the leisured varsity class, the thuggish union class, and the criminal class in order to stick it to what’s left of the beleaguered productive class. It’s a grand alliance of all those societal interests that wish to enjoy in perpetuity a lifestyle they are not willing to earn. Only the criminal class is reasonably upfront about this. The rest — the lifetime legislators, the unions defending lavish and unsustainable benefits, the “scholars” whiling away a somnolent half decade at Complacency U — are obliged to dress it up a little with some hooey about “social justice” and whatnot.

Friday, November 04, 2011

The EU Debacle


The Telegraph's Nile Gardiner spells out the reasons behind the European Union's failure.
Let’s hope the Obama presidency is the last US administration to back political and economic integration in Europe, and to lecture the British people on why they should be handing over their sovereignty to Brussels. A Europe of sovereign nation-states free to shape their own laws, policies and destiny, and linked through free trade, is in the best interests not only of Europe but the United States as well. The European Project has proved a disaster for prosperity and freedom in Europe, and has weakened NATO, the Special Relationship and the transatlantic alliance. Its demise should come as no shock, as the illusory dream of a European superstate begins to crumble amidst the ancient ruins of Greece.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Modern Man

An excerpt from a thought-provoking piece by William J. Bennett, appearing on CNN:
If popular culture is any indicator, manliness is on our minds. Six new TV shows this fall focus on man's role in society and the family, according to the Wall Street Journal. Three are appropriately titled, "Last Man Standing," "How To Be A Gentleman," and "Man Up!" Something is going on here.

In all these shows, men have become the butt of the jokes. From weakness to irresponsibility to immaturity, the modern idea of manhood is in doubt. A shift in cultural norms, a changing workforce and the rise of women have left many men in an identity crisis. It makes for good comedy, but bad families. ...

In developed Western countries, man has unprecedented freedom to chose, to a degree heretofore unknown, a life of his own wanting and design. A mere hundred years ago, man couldn't afford to dawdle in limbo between adolescence and manhood; manhood was thrust upon him for survival. Today, more opportunity lies at his feet than ever. Yet with this increased opportunity comes increased confusion, and the response on the part of some men has not been encouraging.