Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Goal of Antinomianism: From Intellectuals to Underclass

Some excellent thoughts from Theodore Dalrymple, a british doctor who has worked in London's slums and prisons.  He comments on how British intellectual libertinism has shaped the lives of the British underclass.

A review of a recent biography of the logical positivist philosopher A. J. Ayer, in the Times Literary Supplement, enumerated the philosopher's personal virtues.  Among them was the fact that he was unconventional--but the writer did not feel called upon to state in what respect Ayer was unconventional.  For the reviewer, Ayer's alleged disregard of convention was a virtue in itself. 
Of course, it might well have been a virtue, or it might equally well have been a vice, depending on the ethical content and social effect of the convention in question.  But there is little doubt that an oppositional attitude toward traditional social rules is what wins the modern intellectual his spurs, in the eyes of other intellectuals.  And the prestige that intellectuals confer upon antinomianism soon communicates itself to nonintellectuals.  What is good for the bohemian sooner or later becomes good for the unskilled worker, the unemployed, the welfare recipient--the very people most in need of boundaries to make their lives tolerable or allow them hope of improvement.  The result is moral, spiritual, and emotional squalor, engendering fleeting pleasures and prolonged suffering.
This is not to say, of course, that all criticism of social conventions and traditions is destructive or unjustified; surely no society in theworld can have existed in which there was not much justly to criticize.  But critics of social institutions and traditions, including writers of imaginative literature, should always be aware that civilization needs conservation at least as much as it needs change, and that immoderate criticism, or criticism from the standpoint of utopian first principles, is capable of doing much--indeed devastating--harm.  No man is so brilliant that he can work out everything for himself, so that the wisdom of ages has nothing useful to tell him.  To imagine otherwise is to indulge in the most egotistical of hubris. 
Dalrymple goes on to explain the importance of intellectuals, cultural critics, and artists, and their power to shape either good or bad culture.  His words should motivate those of us working in academia, journalism, and the arts. The battle waged in our small arena, surprisingly, will shape the thoughts and lives of many ordinary people for the next couple of generations.  Our influence is broader than scholarly readership and gallery attendance numbers suggest. 
Having spent a considerable proportion of my professional career in Third World countries in which the implementation of abstract ideas and ideals has made bad situations incomparably worse, and the rest of my career among the very extensive British underclass, whose disastrous notions about how to live derive ultimately from the unrealistic, self-indulgent, and often fatuous ideas of social critics, I have come to regard intellectual and artistic life as being of incalculabe practical importance and effect.  John Maynard Keynes wrote, in a famous passage in The Economic Consequences of the Peace, that practical men might not have much time for theoretical considerations, but in fact the world is governed by little else than outdated or defunct ideas of economists and social philosophers.  I agree: except that I would now add novelists, playwrights, film directors, journalists, artists, and even pop singers.  They are the unacknowledged legislators of the world, and we ought to pay close attention to what they say and how they say it.  
Our cultural ideals have been handed to us by intellectuals of the past generation.  If we want our culture to change, the intellectuals of our day must hand the next generation a different set of ideals.  And along with those ideals, some inherited practical wisdom and mores from a rich, once lived, Christian tradition.

How to Make Antinomian Living Possible for the Disadvantaged

Dalrymple says that the antinomian ideals assumed by the British underclass, and the resulting moral and familial chaos, have been supported by the British welfare state.

Intellectuals propounded the idea that man should be freed from the shackles of social convention and self-control, and the government, without any demand from below, enacted laws that promoted unrestrained behavior and created a welfare system that protected people from some of its economic consequences.
Just as the IMF is the bank of last resort, encouraging commercial banks to make unwise loans to countries that they know the IMF will bail out, so the state is the parent of last resort--or, more often than not, of first resort.  The state, guided by the apparently generous and humane philosophy that no child, whatever its origins, should suffer deprivation, gives assistance to any child, or rather the mother of any child, once it has come into being.  In matters of public housing, it is actually advantageous for a mother to put herself at a disadvantage, to be a single mother, without support from the fathers of the children and dependent on the state for income.  She is then a priority; she won't pay local taxes, rent, or utility bills.
As for the men, the state absolves them of all responsibility for their children.  The state is now father to the child.  The biological father is therefore free to use whatever income he has as pocket money, for entertainment and little treats.  He is thereby reduced to the status of a child, though a spoiled child with the physical capabilities of a man: petulant, demanding, querulous, self-centered, and violent if he doesn't get his own way.  The violence escalates and becomes a habit.  A spoiled brat becomes an evil tyrant. 

Remember that this is all coming from a man with boots on the ground.  A doctor who has treated thousands of impoverished Londoners, and who has been witness to their lives and their relationship with the state.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Small Steps

From Fox News:
PHOENIX – Arizona's ban on abortions starting at 20 weeks of pregnancy will take effect this week as scheduled after a federal judge ruled Monday that the new law is constitutional.

U.S. District Judge James Teilborg said the statute may prompt a few pregnant women who are considering abortion to make the decision earlier. But he said the law is constitutional because it doesn't prohibit any women from making the decision to end their pregnancies.

The judge also wrote that the state provided "substantial and well-documented" evidence that an unborn child has the capacity to feel pain during an abortion by at least 20 weeks.

Samson's Echo

A fascinating article from the Telegraph:
Archaeologists excavating the tell of Beit Shemesh in the Judaean Hills near Jerusalem disclosed they had discovered an ancient stone seal that appeared to depict the Old Testament story of Samson's fight with a lion.

The tiny seal, less than an inch in diameter, shows a large animal with a feline tail attacking a human figure.

The seal was discovered at a level of excavation that dates it to roughly the 11th century BC, when Israelite tribes had moved into the area after Joshua's conquest of Canaan. It was a time when the Jews were led by ad hoc leaders known as judges, one of whom was Samson.

The location of the find, close to the River Sorek that marked the boundary between the Israelites and their Philistine foes, also indicates that the figure on the seal could represent Samson, according to Israeli archaeologists.

Over the Cliff/Rainbow

From Politico:
Democrats are set to include a pro-gay marriage plank in their convention platform for the first time in history, party sources confirm to POLITICO. The language was approved unanimously by a 15-member platform draft committee, and now heads for approval by the full platform committee in August.

The party’s Platform Drafting Committee agreed, unanimously, to approve the language at a meeting this weekend in Minneapolis.

In case there's any doubt about the kind of people running this party...

What are the bishops going to do/say about this embrace of radicalism? Will we see more than just statements?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

LIFE in Spain

From the AFP:
Spain's conservative government has provoked a storm among women's groups with plans to tighten abortion laws to make the procedure illegal in cases where the foetus is deformed.

About 100 people took part in a rally in Madrid's central Tirso de Molina square on Sunday to protest against the proposed reform which they argue will take Spain back to the era of the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco.

The crowd, mostly women, chanted "We give birth, we decide" and "Not one step backwards".

"It seems to us to be a throwback to the Franco dictatorship and we are not willing to accept under any circumstances measures that will take away our rights," said Justa Montero, member of the Feminist Assembly, one of the women's groups that organised the protest.

The government announced Friday it would alter an abortion law introduced by its Socialist predecessors in 2010 which gave women the legal right to abortion on demand for up to 14 weeks of pregnancy.

100 people...and we're supposed to think that abortion is popular and in demand?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Major Improvement

From the Associated Press:
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A vigorous supporter of California's same-sex marriage ban was named Friday as the next Roman Catholic archbishop of San Francisco.

The Vatican announced that Pope Benedict XVI selected the Rev. Salvatore Cordileone, the presiding bishop of Oakland, to replace Archbishop George Niederauer in October. Niederauer, 76, is retiring.

As an auxiliary bishop in San Diego four years ago, Cordileone, 56, was instrumental in devising an initiative to strip same-sex couples of the right to wed in California and then raising Catholic dollars to qualify it for the ballot.

He also was part of a statewide network of clergy that promoted the measure, known as Proposition 8. Campaign finance records show he personally gave at least $6,000 to back the voter-approved ban.

I have heard great things about Bishop Cordileone. He will face immense challenges and attacks, I am sure, given his new position in an ultra-liberal city, the home of Nancy Pelosi. We should all pray for him.

Small victory for religious freedom

Catholic business owners score win against ObamaCare mandate

The Catholic family that owns a Colorado-based company won a court victory in their battle to stop the Obama administration from requiring them to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and contraception, a mandate they say violates their religious beliefs and First Amendment rights.

Hercules Industries, a Denver-based heating ventilation and air conditioning manufacturer that employs nearly 300 full-time workers, got an injunction in federal court which stops enforcement of the controversial ObamaCare mandate. The company's lawyers said they needed the injunction immediately because if the mandate is enforced, it must begin immediately making changes to its health plan, which renews on Nov. 1.

The case is similar to ones brought by Catholic-based colleges that have refused to provide employee insurance with such coverage, except this time, it is a secular corporation.

Friday, July 20, 2012


I'll be in Puerto Rico for a week, so blogging from me will be a bit sparse. I hope to get some nice pictures of the Catholic sites of San Juan.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Great exchange

This little interview gets to the heart of the matter.

Who Built This?

Futile Attacks

From The Ticket:
The race for the White House remains a dead heat, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll, despite several weeks of tough attacks by Democrats on Republican Mitt Romney's tenure at the private equity firm Bain Capital and his refusal to release more of his tax returns.

The poll shows Romney at 47 percent and Obama at 46 percent among registered voters, a difference that's within the poll's three-point margin of error.

Obama is desperately trying to distract voters from his terrible record on the economy with his furious attacks on Romney's business background. It's sad and transparent. Thankfully, it looks like most voters aren't taking the bait.

Navy SEALs and Obama

This is good to hear, although not particularly surprising. From Politicker:
Today, Ryan Zinke, an ex-Navy SEAL and Montana State Senator, announced the launch of Special Operations for America, a political action committee dedicated to “the election of Mitt Romney and like-minded candidates.”

“Navy SEAL’s, Special Operations Personnel and Veteran’s across America have been outraged since Barack Obama conveniently took credit for killing Osama Bin Laden for political gain,” a statement announcing the launch of SOFA said. “The active duty military has no voice as they are forbidden to publicly engage in the political campaign process and it is career suicide for senior military leaders to speak out against the President.”

Read more about this here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Romney's Fire

Why I Support Concealed Carry

A remarkable video:

From The Gainesville Sun:
OCALA - The Internet cafe patron who shot and injured two men as they tried to rob the business will likely not face any criminal charges.

“Based on what I have seen and what I know at this time, I don't anticipate filing any charges,” said Bill Gladson of the State Attorney's Office for 5th Judicial Circuit.

Gladson said he has reviewed the security surveillance video from the cafe. While he still awaits final reports from the Marion County Sheriff's Office, he said the shooting appeared justified.

Samuel Williams, 71, who fired the shots, has a concealed weapons permit, according to the Sheriff's Office. Under Florida law, a person is allowed to use deadly force if he or she fears death or serious injury to themselves or others. As long as the person isn't committing a crime and is in a place where he or she has a right to be, they are considered to be acting within the law.

What Passes for Serious Leaders Today

This is pretty pathetic, from The Washington Examiner:
It's already started. Getting a jump on the anticipated hype coming this week around the last Batman movie, "Dark Knight Rises," the Obama-Biden campaign has decided who they want their leading men to play: Batman and Robin.

In a tweet sent out Sunday, the campaign showed President Obama and Vice President Biden high-fiving under the headline "Dynamic Duo."

We reported on Monday that some Democrats and foes of Mitt Romney were looking to use the movie and its villain against the Republican candidate. It's an easy move because the bad guy has a name that sounds just like the main target of Obama and Biden, Bain Capital, the firm Romney used to run. The villain's name: "Bane."

Now, The Dark Knight Rises actually looks really interesting, but come on, tying Romney to a comic book villain? Is this the best Team Obama can do? Things must be pretty dire in Chicago's political counsels.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Modern Martyrs Honored

From the AFP:
From the Bible of a murdered Pakistani government minister to the prayer book of a slain San Salvador archbishop, a Rome church has created a unique memorial to modern-day Christian martyrs.

At a time of outrage over anti-Christian violence in Africa, the exhibits at the Basilica of Saint Bartholomew are a poignant testament to thousands of Christians killed for their faith around the world over the past century.

The initiative was begun by late pope John Paul II in 1993 and the ancient church now draws a steady stream of pilgrims to pay tribute to victims from all Christian denominations including Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Giants Cast in Bronze

From the Associated Press:
GDANSK, Poland (AP) — Polish officials unveiled a statue of former President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II on Saturday, honoring two men widely credited in this Eastern European country with helping to topple communism 23 years ago.

The statue was unveiled in Gdansk, the birthplace of Lech Walesa's Solidarity movement, in the presence of about 120 former Solidarity activists, many of whom were imprisoned in the 1980s for their roles in organizing or taking part in strikes against the communist regime.

The bronze statue, erected in the lush seaside President Ronald Reagan Park, is a slightly larger-than-life rendering of the two late leaders. It was inspired by an Associated Press photograph taken in 1987 on John Paul's second pontifical visit to the U.S.

Chapel Visit

A couple of pictures I took during a visit

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel featured an overall great story about the Saint Joseph Chapel in the city. Hopefully it will generate more visitors to this special place.
To describe the chapel with words is as futile as describing a cloud. The way the light shoves through the stained glass. The carved angels and the perfect way their wings are set. The eyes of beautifully painted saints. The chapel's great volume coupled with its endless intricacies.

Better to look at the photographs, and better yet, to visit and see for yourself.

Better to see for yourself the 115 stained-glass windows, the largest collection of Austrian stained glass in the states, the Stations of the Cross carved from maple, the three altars carved from Italian Carrara marble (the chapel's marble also comes from Switzerland, France, Greece, Mexico and the United States), the fumed oak pews.

As you can see from the first image, the altar was moved way out in the sanctuary during the notorious era of church "renovations." But thankfully, it was done in a tasteful way, and the altar is still solid marble. The two gripes I have are that the pews in the main chapel have no kneelers (really odd) and secondly, the Communion rail was severely shortened. Other than that, this is an astonishing sanctuary that deserves far greater attention than it receives. I wrote a longer post on the chapel, featuring a number of photos, here.

With an eye to the future, I think it would be an excellent idea to give this chapel over to a younger, thriving religious order/society (imagine The Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter), that would be able to fully actualize the chapel's great potential. The sad truth is that the current order of nuns overseeing the chapel is getting smaller and older.

It's time to write the next chapter of the chapel's story.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


"2012 is perhaps a turning point for the United States. The upcoming elections loom as one of the most important in my lifetime. I'm very often asked to speak about our current foreign policy and the challenges that lie before us. However, we, as a country, are not going to be able to address any of those international challenges unless we first get our domestic house in order." -Condoleezza Rice

Fascinating, if true. From the incomparable Matt Drudge.

Men's Journal Does Milwaukee

From Men's Journal:
Cheese curds and Pabst Blue Ribbon may be king in Wisconsin, but Bloody Marys are the state's undisputed queen. Seriously, until you've tasted a handcrafted Wisco-style concoction dressed with everything from beef sticks to pickled portabellas to pepper jack–stuffed olives, you have no clue what a Bloody Mary can – and should – be. If you find yourself in Milwaukee over a weekend, jump on the "Bloody Third" Ward Bloody Mary Brunch Tour, a 2.5-hour walking tour of the hip, revitalized neighborhood's best Sunday-morning pit stops.

I'm going to have to look into this.

Melinda's Millions, the Pill and the Church

From The Independent:
Melinda Gates, billionaire philanthropist and practising Catholic, yesterday laid down the gauntlet to the Vatican by vowing to dedicate her life to improving access to contraception for women in the developing world.

At an extraordinary summit in London, Mrs Gates announced that the charitable foundation she set up with her Microsoft founder husband Bill was donating $560m to family planning services. ...

“Of course I wrestled with this. As a Catholic I believe in this religion, there are amazing things about this religion, amazing moral teachings that I do believe in, but I also have to think about how we keep women alive,” she said in an interview in advance of the summit.

“I believe in not letting women die, I believe in not letting babies die, and to me that’s more important than arguing about what method of contraception [is right].”

Read on and you'll find David Cameron's inane, patronizing comments. He gets embarrassingly giddy over the destructive power of birth control. Very sad.

Taxes and the 'Wealthy'

Thomas Sowell wrote an excellent piece that appeared in National Review. Here's a snippet:
But let’s go back to the notion of “spending” money on “the wealthiest Americans.” The people he is talking about are not the wealthiest Americans. Income is not wealth — and the whole tax controversy is about income taxes. Wealth is what you have accumulated, and wealth is not taxed, except when you die and the government collects an inheritance tax from your heirs.

People over 65 years of age have far more wealth — but lower incomes — than people in their thirties and forties. If Obama wants to talk about raising income taxes, let him talk about it, but claiming that he wants to tax “the wealthiest Americans” is a lie and an emotional distraction for propaganda purposes. ...

Ironically, the Obama campaign’s attacks on Mitt Romney for putting his money in the Cayman Islands substantiate the point that President Kennedy and others have made, that higher tax rates can drive money into tax shelters, whether tax-exempt municipal bonds or investments in other countries.

In other words, raising tax rates does not automatically raise tax revenues for the government. Higher tax rates have often led to lower tax revenues for states, the federal government, and other countries.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Republican Governors and Success

From Human Events:

You’ll also notice similarities between states that rank high on the CNBC list — namely that most of the leadership in those states supports economic policies that mirror the national Republican platform.

Here are the top 20 most-friendly business states according to CNBC:

4.North Carolina
5.North Dakota
7.South Dakota
19.New Hampshire

The top 10 features only one Democrat governor — John Hickenlooper of Colorado–who, it should be noted, is about as business friendly as any politician can be in today’s Democratic Party. In the top 20, there are only five Democratic governors.

Mass Notes

From Catholic News Agency:
Cork, Ireland, Jul 10, 2012 / 01:42 pm (CNA).- Cardinal Raymond L. Burke believes that the “excessive” use of concelebration – the practice of priests saying Mass collectively – can result in their unique role in the sacred liturgy being obscured.

“I don’t think there should be an excessive encouragement of concelebration because the norm is for the individual priest to offer the holy sacrifice of the Mass,” the head of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura told CNA July 9.

“If it is repeated too frequently, it can develop within him a sense of being another one of the participants instead of actually being the priest who is offering the Mass.”

Monday, July 09, 2012

Season of Madness in Archdiocese of Washington

Excuse the long citation here, but this story is too outrageous. A major American archdiocese has caved to a self-described Buddhist/active lesbian, while a solid, orthodox priest who courageously denied her Communion is thrown under the bus. I still say that Father Guarnizo did Ms. Johnson a favor by protecting her soul from grave sacrilege, but alas, arguing along those lines, i.e., traditional Catholic theology, is already getting too deep into the weeds for some, apparently.


A priest who denied communion to a lesbian at her mother's funeral is no longer in ministry with the Archdiocese of Washington, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese said Monday.

Rev. Marcel Guarnizo, who served at St. John Neumann parish in Gaithersburg, Md., was placed on leave in mid-March for engaging in intimidating behavior, NBCWashington.com reported at the time, and now he is leaving for good. ...

Johnson, a 51-year-old founding director of a small art center, attended her mom's funeral with her partner of nearly 20 years at St. John Neumann on Feb. 25. When it came time for communion, Guarnizo “issued a strong admonition that only Catholics in a state of grace can receive communion,” Johnson told msnbc.com.

“I went up. I was standing next to my mother’s casket and he covered the bowl, and said, ‘I cannot give you communion because you are with a woman, and in the eyes of the church, that is a sin.’ I stood there with my mouth open in a state of shock for -- I don’t know how long,” she said.

Guarnizo also didn’t attend her mother’s burial, Johnson said. She told msnbc.com on Monday that she was relieved by the archdiocese's move, although she thought it might have more to do with the alleged “intimidating” behavior than how she was treated at her mother’s funeral.

“It gives me great comfort to see that the Archdiocese of Washington acted swiftly initially not only to point out that his behavior was wrong and not in accordance with their policy but then to suspend him. And this final message from them says to me that, unfortunately, this was not a person that was meant to be in the ministry in this region,” she said. “Knowing that he will not be able to visit such pain on another family in the Washington archdiocese gives me and my family a lot of comfort.”

One positive aspect of what happened to her was that “it showed the very human face of the issue regarding the church and the church’s teachings, and behavior towards the LGBT community within the church,” she said. “I just wish that there was a more global and more positive church response to the LGBT community” on issues such as marriage equality and communion.

Homosexual Lobby in America: 1, Catholic Church in America: 0

Perry: Just Say 'No'

From The Washington Times:
Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Monday his state won't expand Medicaid or set up an insurance exchange, joining a growing number of Republican governors who are rejecting two key parts of President Obama's health care law.

"I will not be party to socializing health care and bankrupting my state in direct contradiction to our Constitution and our founding principles of limited government," Mr. Perry said.

Lingering Resentment

From CBS News:
(CBS News) Discord at the Supreme Court is deep and personal after Chief Justice John Roberts' surprise decision to side with the liberal justices in upholding a large portion of the president's health care plan. This discord is going to affect this Court for a long time - and no one has any idea how it will be resolved.

Conservatives feel a sense of betrayal. They feel that Roberts changed his mind for the wrong reasons.

If Roberts had been with the liberals from the beginning, sources tell me that would have been one thing; but switching his position - and relatively late in the process - infuriated the conservatives.

What has happened to our Liturgy?

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Greendale - The processional at the start of Mass at St. Alphonsus Church on Sunday morning was a bit unusual.

In addition to the cross and Bible held high, a tool belt and firefighter's helmet were carried out before the altar by congregants grateful to have a church. ...

Above the doors were banners that said "Welcome Home."

The first hymn sung at Mass was "All Are Welcome," a song with a double meaning in the newly constructed house of worship:

"Let us build a house where love can dwell and all can safely live, a place where saints and children tell how hearts learn to forgive. Built of hopes and dreams and visions, rock of faith and vault of grace, here the love of Christ shall end divisions."

I am often amazed at how the casual, careless tinkering with sacred liturgy is taken so lightly by so many who should know better and do more in terms of corrective measures. There are other, better ways to honor firefighters than this. And "All are Welcome"... Seriously, can't we get beyond this kind of schmaltzy, dated music? To whom does this kind of music appeal?

Bishop Morlino on "All Are Welcome":
Beautiful means, in the first place, embodying the truth. Some of the songs that we sing at liturgy contain lyrics which clearly are not true — for example, the song “All Are Welcome.” As a matter of fact, the liturgy takes place mystically in the heavenly sanctuary. All are welcome at the liturgy who truly seek salvation in and through Jesus Christ, by following God’s Will, as spelled out through His Son’s very Body, the Church. People who have little interest in doing God’s Will don’t fit at the liturgy. And certainly, by their own choosing, the poor souls who suffer in Hell for all eternity are not welcome. Those are simple, but true facts. Thus the song, “All Are Welcome,” gives an impression that the choice for the Will of Jesus Christ, as it comes to us through the Church, makes no difference; and nothing could be further from the truth. It could therefore be concluded that the song, “All are Welcome,” is not beautiful so as to be appropriate-for-liturgical-use. Being true is necessary before anything can be beautiful.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Indispensable Tips

Communion of Saint Teresa of Avila by Claudio Coello

An excerpt from a great post from Saint Peter's List, outlining Saint Teresa's excellent lessons in growing in holiness:
#1 Know Thyself

I began to think of the soul as if it were a castle made of a single diamond or of very crystal in which there are many rooms just as in Heaven there are many mansions[...]Now if this is so –and it is– there is no point in our fatiguing ourselves in attempting to comprehend the beauty of this castle; for, though it is His creature, and there is therefore as much difference between it and God as between creature and Creator, the very fact that His Majesty says it is made in His image means that we can hardly form any conception of the soul’s great dignity and beauty. It is no small pity, and should cause us no little shame, that, through our own fault, we do not understand ourselves, or know who we are. Would it not be a sign of great ignorance, my daughters, if a person were asked who he was, and could not say, and had no idea who his father or his mother was, or form what he came? Though that is great stupidity, our own is incomparably greater if we make no attempt to discover what we are, and only know that we are living in these bodies, and have a vague idea, because we have heard it and because our Faith tells us, that we possess souls. As to what good qualities there may be in our souls, or Who dwells within them , or how precious they are –those are things which we seldom consider and so we trouble little about carefully preserving the soul’s beauty.” Page 41-42

Friday, July 06, 2012

VP Ryan

Obama's Reckoning?

Jeffrey H. Anderson spells out the benefits of having Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's pick for vice president. I couldn't agree more. From National Review Online:
...Ryan would benefit Romney’s candidacy in unique ways. Here are just a few:

- Picking Ryan would excite and unite the party.

- By putting Ryan on the ticket, Romney would add the party’s single best spokesman on three huge issues: Obamacare, the budget, and the debt. Imagine Ryan debating Joe Biden — or Hillary Clinton.

- By adding such a heavyweight to the ticket, Romney would convey to the electorate how high the stakes are in this historic election.

- The pick would also show strength. By making it, Romney would (rightly) indicate that he’s not afraid of being overshadowed by anyone.

The 23-year age difference between Romney and Ryan makes them seem more like natural complements than like rivals, and by all accounts the chemistry between them is excellent. Moreover, younger voters are increasingly disillusioned with Obama, and putting the 42-year-old Ryan on the ticket would encourage many of them to give Romney a second look.

Rising Tension

From the AFP:
China's state-run Catholic church ordained a bishop on Friday in defiance of the Vatican, authorities said as they dismissed protests from the Holy See as "rude and unreasonable".

The ordination of Father Yue Fusheng occurred in the northeastern city of Harbin on Friday morning, said Yang Yu, a spokesman for the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA).

The Holy See had warned this week it deemed the consecration illegitimate and vowed to excommunicate priests who participated.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Caravaggio's Return

From the Telegraph:
Italian art historians 'find 100 Caravaggio paintings'

The sketches and paintings, if proved to be authentic, would be worth an estimated 700 million euros (£560 million).

Experts said that after two years of rigorous analysis, they had found “remarkable similarities” between the newly-discovered works, kept in a castle in Milan, and the known works of Caravaggio.

But the announcement came out of the blue, caused an immediate storm in the art world and raised as many questions as it answered.

The historians apparently managed to keep their research a secret for two years, but on Friday their findings will be published in a lavish, two-volume, 600-page e-book in four languages.

The works are believed to date from Caravaggio’s earliest years as a painter, when he was a young apprentice under Simone Peterzano, a mannerist painter in Milan, from 1584 to 1588.

Sniper School

A good follow-up to yesterday:

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

July 4

"All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God. These are grounds of hope for others. For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them." - From Thomas Jefferson's last letter, reflecting on the meaning of Independence Day

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

In Case Anyone Asks

Where the Bible came from: the Roman Catholic Church

It was the Roman Catholic Church which decided which books would make up the Bible.

Yes. True fact.

In fact, the final canon of Scripture, thereafter recognised by all Christians for over 1,000 years, was settled on 28 August 397 AD by the Council of Carthage after the example set by St Cyril of Jerusalem in 350.

This Council met under the supervision of the Bishop of Carthage, North Africa, and the Western Roman Emperor, Flavius Honorius, the decrees being later approved by the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, who later also approved the definitive translation of St Jerome called the Vulgate.

Redemption for Roberts

From Politico:
Liberals who celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision on health care may be nursing an ugly hangover after the justices dive back into their work this fall, with a docket likely to be loaded with controversial cases.

And left-leaning courtwatchers are already worried about the jurist who brought them such relief last week: Chief Justice John Roberts.

Some liberals contend that Roberts’s surprise crossover on the health care law has given him a free hand to craft and sign onto a slew of conservative opinions next year without suffering much of a public drubbing from Democrats and the press. With one major case, Roberts may have inoculated himself and the court against charges of partisanship.

Well, we got into this mess, apparently, because Roberts caved to outside pressure, which he shouldn't have cared about in the first place. But I still think that if any of the big cases involving the non-negotiables find their way to the Roberts court, he'll fall on the right side. This certainly was the case with the partial-birth abortion ruling of some years back.

I am as confident of this as I was a week ago? No.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Samson Reemerges

From Live Science:
A glittering mosaic of colored stones once decorated an ancient synagogue floor with scenes of the Biblical hero Samson getting revenge on the Philistines.

This newly excavated discovery in the ancient Jewish village of Huqoq not only depicts an unusual scene — Samson tying torches to foxes' tails in order to burn his enemies' crops — it's also remarkably high-quality, said dig archaeologist Jodi Magness of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

In a mosaic, "the smaller the cubes, the finer the work," Magness told LiveScience. "Our cubes are very small and fine."

The mosaic decorates part of a synagogue dating back to about A.D. 400 to 500.

Those Courts, Again

An excerpt from an article by Tim Stanley, appearing in the Telegraph:
A federal judge has rescued Mississippi’s last remaining abortion clinic. On Sunday, US District Judge Daniel P Jordan blocked implementation of a law stipulating that anyone performing abortions in a Mississippi clinic must be a doctor with privileges to admit patients to a local hospital. Such privileges are hard to get, and the clinic says that the mandate is being used to put them out of business. A hearing on July 11 will decide whether or not it can be delayed for a longer time. If the law does go into effect, many Mississippians will no longer be able to access low-cost abortions. The nearest alternative clinics are a 200 mile drive away in Alabama or Tennessee.

In many parts of America, all that now keeps the abortion industry afloat is the intervention of the courts.

The Visitation

Higher Love

From the Catholic Herald:
One day this woman will be a saint

Chiara Petrillo was a 28-year-old Italian mother who apparently refused life-saving cancer treatment that would have damaged or destroyed her baby. Her baby, Francesco, was born perfectly well. Chiara died.

Chiara’s funeral took place a few days ago in Rome. But Francesco was not her first baby. Her first, Maria, was found in the womb to be terribly disabled. Chiara and her husband Enrico refused repeated advice to abort Maria. The baby lived for 30 minutes, and was baptised, loved and mourned. Chiara and Enrico’s next baby, David, was found in the womb to have no legs. Further complications followed and once more he died soon after birth, cherished, loved and celebrated to the end. Then Chiara became pregnant with Francesco. Chiara was found in the fifth month to have cancer, but she would not accept any treatment that would harm her baby. Sometimes love is like that.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Saint Michael

Image of Saint Michael guarding the Eucharist, from the Pala d'Oro in Venice

A remarkable story:
What follows is a copy of a letter written by a young Marine to his mother while recovering from a wound suffered on a Korean battlefield in 1950. The Navy Chaplain Father W. Muldy, who had talked to the boy, his mother, and to the Sergeant in charge of the patrol, vouched for the veracity of the story.

Dear Mom,

I wouldn’t dare write this letter to anyone but you, because no one else would believe it. Maybe even you will find it hard, but I have got to tell somebody.

First off, I’m in a hospital. Now don’t worry, you hear me? Don’t worry! I was wounded, but I am okay. The doctor says that I will be up and around in a month. But that’s not what I want to tell you.

Remember when I joined the Marines last year? When I left, you told me to say a prayer to St. Michael every day. You really didn’t have to tell me that...ever since I can remember, you always told me to pray to St. Michael the Archangel. You even named me after him. Well, I always have! But when I got to Korea I prayed even harder.

Remember the prayer that you taught me?..."Michael, Michael of the morning, Fresh corps of Heaven adorning..." You know the rest of it. Well, I said it every day...sometimes when I was marching or sometimes resting. But always before I went to sleep. I even got some of the other fellas to say it.

Well, one day I was with an advance detail way up on the front lines. We were scouting for the Commies. I was plodding along in the bitter cold...my breath was like cigar smoke.

I thought I knew every guy in the patrol, when alongside of me comes another Marine I never met before. He was bigger than any other Marine I’d ever seen. He must have been 6’4" and built in proportion! It gave me a feeling of security to have such a body nearby.

Anyway, there we were, trudging along. The rest of the patrol spread out. Just to start a conversation, I said, "Cold, ain’t it?" And then I laughed! Here I was, with a good chance of getting killed any minute, and I’m talking about the weather!

My companion seemed to understand. I heard him laugh softly. I looked at him, "I have never seen you before. I thought I knew every man in the outfit."

"I just joined at the last minute," he replied. "The name is Michael."

"Is that so?" I said surprised. "That’s MY name, too!"

"I know," he said...and then went on..."Michael, Michael, of the morning..."

I was too amazed to say anything for a minute. How did he know my name, and a prayer that YOU had taught me? Then I smiled to myself: Every guy in the outfit knew about me! Hadn’t I taught the prayer to anybody who would listen? Why, now and then, they even referred to me as "St. Michael"!

Neither of us spoke for a time, and then he broke the silence. "We are going to have some trouble up ahead."

He must have been in fine physical shape, for he was breathing so lightly that I couldn’t see his breath. Mine poured out in great clouds! There was no smile on his face now. Trouble ahead, I thought to myself...well, with the Commies all around us, THAT is no great revelation!

Snow began to fall in great thick globs. In a brief moment, the whole countryside was blotted out. And I was marching in a white fog of wet, sticky particles. My companion disappeared.

"Michael!" I shouted in sudden alarm.

I felt his hand on my arm, his voice rich and strong. "This will stop shortly."

His prophecy proved to be correct. In a few minutes, the snow stopped as abruptly as it had begun. The sun was a hard, shining disc. I looked back for the rest of the patrol. There was no one in sight. We lost them in that heavy fall of snow. I looked ahead as we came over a little rise.

Mom, my heart just stopped! There were seven of them! Seven Commies in their padded pants and jackets and their funny hats. Only, there wasn’t anything funny about them now. Seven rifles were aimed at us!

"Down, Michael!" I screamed, and hit the frozen earth. I heard those rifles fire almost as one. I heard the bullets. There was Michael...still standing!

Mom, those guys COULDN’T have missed...not at that range! I expected to see him literally blown to bits! But, there he stood...making no effort to fire himself! He was paralyzed with fear ...It happens sometimes, Mom, even to the bravest. He was like a bird fascinated by a snake!

At least, that was what I thought THEN! I jumped up to pull him down, and that was when I got hit. I felt a sudden flame in my chest. I often wondered what it felt like to be hit...now I know!

I remember feeling strong arms about me, arms that laid me ever so gently on a pillow of snow. I opened my eyes, for one last look. I was dying! Maybe I was even dead. I remember thinking, "Well, this is not so bad."

Maybe I was looking into the sun. Maybe I was in shock. But it seemed I saw Michael standing erect again...only this time his face was shining with a terrible splendor! He seemed to change as I watched him. He grew bigger, his arms stretched out wide. Maybe it was the snow falling again, but there was a brightness around him like the wings of an Angel! In his hand was a sword...a sword that flashed with a million lights!

Well...that is the last thing I remember until the rest of the fellas came up and found me. I don’t know how much time had passed. Now and then, I had but a moment’s rest from the pain and fever. I remember telling them of the enemy just ahead.

"Where’s Michael?" I asked. I saw them look at one another. "Where’s who?" asked one.

"Michael...Michael...that big Marine I was walking with just before the snow squall hit us."

"Kid," said the sergeant, "You weren’t walking with anyone. I had my eyes on you the whole time. You were getting too far out! I was just going to call you in when you disappeared in the snow."

He looked at me curiously. "How did you do it, kid?" "How’d I do WHAT?" I asked...half-angry, despite my wound. "This Marine named Michael and I were just..."

"Son," said the sergeant kindly, "I picked this outfit myself, and there just ain’t another Michael in it! You are the only Michael in it!"

He paused for a minute. "Just how did you do it, kid? We heard shots, but there hasn’t been a shot fired from YOUR rifle...and there isn’t a BIT of lead in them seven bodies over the hill there."

I didn’t say anything. What COULD I say? I could only look open-mouthed with amazement.

It was then the sergeant spoke again. "Kid," he said gently... "Every one of those seven Commies was killed by a sword stroke!"

That is all I can tell you, Mom. As I say...it may have been the sun in my eyes...it may have been the cold or the pain. But that is what happened!

Love, Michael

Paul Ryan on John Roberts

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Once again, simply brilliant.

George Stephanopoulos tries to trip up Ryan, but soon learns what happens when one tries to lock horns with someone of Ryan's caliber. I hope Romney's people were watching this.


Get ready for your blood pressure to spike. From CBS News:
(CBS News) Chief Justice John Roberts initially sided with the Supreme Court's four conservative justices to strike down the heart of President Obama's health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, but later changed his position and formed an alliance with liberals to uphold the bulk of the law, according to two sources with specific knowledge of the deliberations.

Roberts then withstood a month-long, desperate campaign to bring him back to his original position, the sources said. Ironically, Justice Anthony Kennedy - believed by many conservatives to be the justice most likely to defect and vote for the law - led the effort to try to bring Roberts back to the fold.

"He was relentless," one source said of Kennedy's efforts. "He was very engaged in this."

But this time, Roberts held firm. And so the conservatives handed him their own message which, as one justice put it, essentially translated into, "You're on your own."

The conservatives refused to join any aspect of his opinion, including sections with which they agreed, such as his analysis imposing limits on Congress' power under the Commerce Clause, the sources said.

Instead, the four joined forces and crafted a highly unusual, unsigned joint dissent. They deliberately ignored Roberts' decision, the sources said, as if they were no longer even willing to engage with him in debate.