Tuesday, May 31, 2005

From St. Peter's Helpers: May 2005

a wonderful tribute to Mary, on the last Marion day of May in the year of the Eucharist:

Many women, if they were expecting a child, would refuse to hurry over the hills on a visit of pure kindness. They would say they had a duty to themselves and to their unborn child which came before anything or anyone else.

The Mother of God considered no such thing. Elizabeth was going to have a child, too, and although Mary's own child was God, she could not forget Elizabeth's need—almost incredible to us, but characteristic of her.

She greeted her cousin Elizabeth, and at the sound of her voice, John quickened in his mother's womb and leapt for joy.

I am come, said Christ, that they may have life and may have it more abundantly. [Jn. 10, 10] Even before He was born His presence gave life.

With what piercing shoots of joy does this story of Christ unfold! First the conception of a child in a child's heart, and then this first salutation, an infant leaping for joy in his mother's womb, knowing the hidden Christ and leaping into life.

From eucatastrophe: Civil unions dismiss fatherhood

An insightful perspective close to home, right here

I've seen the kids in school that don't live with their fathers. More often then not, I see them in the Discipline office. They're responsible for a greater percentage of my classroom management problems. Their mothers have a harder time controlling them. I once witnessed the mother of a student facing serious discipline complain that she couldn't get her son in the house. "I talk to him, but he doesn't listen to me."

Can you guess where the Father was? I thought so.

If we pretend that Family is just another set of socially-contructed relationships based on traditional patriarchy--and that they can be re-constructed in more "equitable" ways--then we miss the seed of Revelation that they contain. Families truly are a Domestic Church, and when a mother and father, united in marriage, raise children, God is present in a unique way through their union. This can't simply be raised up from the roots by women in a lesbian relationship, men in a homosexual relationship and even a cohabitation of a man and woman. It comes from the matrimony of man and woman in Christ.

In Dafur, a Second Sudan aid worker arrested

According to the BBC:

The UN says that about 180,000 people have died in the two-year conflict in Darfur, and more than two million driven from their homes.

But Kofi Annon still won't call it genocide

And now another aid worker is arrested:

Mr Hoedt was arrested in Darfur and flown to the capital, Khartoum, under police escort.

United Nations Sudan envoy Jan Pronk has condemned the "smear campaign" in Sudanese newspapers against aid workers, accusing them of fabricating reports of rape.

"MSF Holland and all the other MSF have saved many lives of Sudanese people," he said.

This, one day after his boss is arrested:

MSF Sudan director Paul Foreman was arrested on Monday and later released on bail, over a report on rape.

BBC Africa analyst Martin Plaut says the charges are part of a drive by Sudan to end western criticism.

The Sudanese authorities deny accusations that they back the Arab Janjaweed militias alleged to have committed widespread atrocities, such as mass killings and mass rape.

They also deny that the scale of the violence is as severe as reported by aid agencies.

Isn't it heartwarming that Sudan sits on the Human Rights Commision of the UN? They sure know how to handle the help there. Maybe the Sudanese government wouldn't have such a problem if they didn't use Arab Militias to exterminate Africans. Ah, but that wouldn't be very reasonable to expect such things. And the Sudanese government is so very reasonable.

Almost as reasonable as the UN, which has done next to nothing to stand firm against Sudan. Calling the massacre by its true name--genocide--would automatically compel the Security Council to act. Mr. Annan seems incapable of even this basic act of diplomatic assertion. Perhaps he's too busy white-washing his corrupt cabinet or laundering his son's oil-for-food skimmings.

Or maybe he's waiting until every Sudanese African is dead or in refugee camps.

In the meantime, those that offer assistance to the people can consider themselves enemies of the state. It's clear that Khartoum does.

A Foolish Woman's Opinion--from The Gleaner

Right here:

"Allowing stem cell research on embryos is like taking life into your own hands and playing God...deciding who will live and who will die. Each cell is the beginning of life, without these cells there would be no life, no stem cells, nothing!

Those who think life begins at birth need to reconsider their thinking on this issue. To justify the taking of another life to start another is barbaric. Only our maker has the right to decide our fate."

What more needs to be said?

Once, we as a society shuddered to even consider these possibilities. They had the stench of Nazism. These days, we seem to have gotten over it. At least, the Reasonable have. That's why it's good to hear that one reader of Reasonable rags like the Gleaner is a Fool. More power to you, Mrs. Ashby. Laugh out even louder. The Truth has to get through some time.

Sailing on a Raft of Reasonables

Ah, Massachussets, home of Patriots' blood,
Where revolutionary paths
tear down the folk to mud.

If you could hear your loudest son
call crying from the grave,
If you could hear John Adams' roar
would you then let him save?

Or turn from tempests past
to face a future unadorned,
with trite traditions once so loved
now left behind and scorned!

The Reasonable say:

Supporters of embryonic stem cell experiments hope to transform Massachusetts into a center for cutting-edge research into the cure and treatment of spinal cord injuries and diseases like diabetes and Parkinson's.

The bill does not include any funding for the research, but Senate President Robert Travaglini, a Boston Democrat, said the Senate may consider devoting taxpayer money to the research in the future.

The nearly-Foolish says:

he Republican governor vetoed the bill last week because it allows the cloning of human embryos for use in stem cell experiments - a practice Romney said amounts to creating life in order to destroy it.

Romney has said he supports research using either adult stem cells or cells extracted from leftover frozen embryos from fertility clinics.

So Massachussets seeks to follow New Jersey in becoming the next Moloch-R-Us franchise. Wonder what that's done for the Garden State? Nothing much, since embryonic stem-cell research hasn't lead to any medical breakthroughs, or even promising research:

Republican Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, a possible 2008 presidential contender, told ABC's "This Week" the Senate should instead move forward on approving a bill passed almost unanimously in the House.

That measure would provide funds for collecting adult stem cells from umbilical cord blood.

"I've been taught a lot of lessons from the Democrats lately, so I've got some ideas on how one can get this done," Brownback said. "And I think it's important that we move forward."

Brownback indicated he would use every procedural option available to him to prevent making taxpayer pay for research that destroys human life and hasn't yielded results in 20 years.

"I have conveyed to Senate leadership that we must do everything we can procedurally to stop unethical embryonic stem cell research in the Senate," he said.

Now, there's a Fool for you. Senator Bromback demonstrates principled leadership here. Considering Representative Chris Smith's (R-NJ) bill may make its way through the House, other Republican senators should stand with him and not pander for the seemingly easy but ultimately fruitless pro-em/stem vote.

In My Homestate of NY, Catholics Take Action In Albany, The Capital.

Kathy Peters was expressing her anguish over the plight of Catholic schools to New York state Assemblyman Brian M. Kolb of the 129th District, which includes Seneca County, as well as parts of Cayuga and Ontario counties.:

n Kolb’s office, Peters told the assemblyman that Catholic schools are closing more and more frequently due to rising expenses that drive up tuition rates and drive parents away. Government could help Catholic schools through such measures as the extension of tax credits to parents who pay Catholic-school tuition, she said.

“There are ways to save Catholic schools without using tax dollars to save them,” said Peters, former principal of St. Michael's School in Newark.

Kolb expressed sympathy to Peters and her colleagues, residents of the Diocese of Rochester’s Finger Lakes region. However, he noted that the state’s politically powerful public-school teachers’ unions oppose such school-choice measures as tuition tax credits and publicly funded tuition vouchers that might help parents finance nonpublic education.

This is one of the growing issues in which I part way with my union. The reason is simple: I hold to Catholic teaching on Family. Parents are the first teachers of their children. Since they hold this fundamental responsibility, they should enjoy the support of the state and localities to carry out this responsibility. Tax credits for Catholic Schools or public vouchers of one kind or another can be prudent ways of providing this support.

As an urban HS teacher, I understand my collegues' concerns. Too little money in education budgets makes its way to the local schools. Bloated bureacracies and idiotic regulations suck up precious funds and choke off needed innovation. With this dysfunctional culture in operation, it's small wonder that teachers get their backs up at anything that even smells like it will take money away. It's more than a fear of lost positions. It's a fear that we won't have the resources we need to serve the kids that voucher-financed families leave behind.

While I understand these concerns, I do not entirely share them for reasons I shared above. I also do not believe that money for vouchers must mean less money for "public schools". A fair system of distribution for these vouchers would preclude such arbitrary cuts. Besides, parents have the right to educate their children. This must not be taken away from them simply to preserve the status quo.

There are other encouraging signs of Catholic advocacy of state policy. There are also ho-hum interpretations of Catholic Social Teaching aka "social justice", which is another way of saying tax-and-spend, that quite frankly well-meaning Catholics should reconsider. Especially if they want to serve the poor in solidarity, they'll need to consider which incentives state policies encourage, not simply lofty goals of lifting up the poor through government programs.

This article from the Catholic Courier in Rocester also explores how the NY Conference of Catholic Bishops resists some of pro-abort Pataki and his cohort's attempts to coerce Catholic Charities to defy its Catholic Conscience. In particular:

The state Catholic conference, in collaboration with Protestant plaintiffs, has challenged the mandates in state courts, and an Appellate Division decision on the matter is expected in the next several weeks.

Spokesman for the Catholic conference also notes another way in which the conference is taking on policy: the Network:

He noted that the 13,000-member Catholic Advocacy Network is one tool the conference has used to mobilize Catholic voters. Most members are notified via e-mail of pending legislation that concerns the conference, Poust noted. The conference urges network members to act on important bills by linking them to draft messages about bills on the conference's Web site that the network members can then forward to their own legislators with the click of a mouse.

We've had some success in terms of applying pressure to members of the Legislature to back off sponsorship of bills that we oppose," Poust said. "An e-mail campaign to the governor a while back was instrumental in gaining the release of funds for mandated services in our schools that had been appropriated but not released. We expect the successes to multiply with the numbers."

If Catholics can influence policy through the collaborative participation of citizens, then NY stands a greater chance of becoming a better state for all New Yorkers. If the Reasonable powers that call for a pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia and pro-embryonic stem-cell research world (and locking down school funding for solely public schools) control the agenda, God help all New Yorkers.

From Catholic World News : Peruvian cardinal rips hedonism, neo-paganism

Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, Archbishop of Lima and Primate of Argentina confronts the Spirit of this Age in this interview, where He puts the smack-down on the -isms

Among his points:

*We see ideological current ranging from Marxism to liberalism, collectivism to radical individualism, agnosticism to syncretism... We are presented with a new sort of feminism which fails to recognize maternity as God's most valuable gift to women and upholds homosexuality as a sexual option rather than the disordered inclination which it is.

We see this new current in which everything is relative and nothing is definitive because the ultimate measure is always I, myself, and my personal whims.

*Faithful to the Gospel the Church always intervenes with truth and firmness, denouncing attacks on life and the family. This can be seen in the countless statements issued by the bishops of Peru on these matters in recent years.

The prestige of the Church as "watchman of the Peruvian soul" emerges also from surveys: it is the institution most highly esteemed for preaching the faith and defending the sacred right to life and it could not be otherwise. Continually and in many different activities in parishes, schools, and church movements the Church in Peru strives to promote the Gospel of life and the family.

*The mission of the Catholic Church is to preach faith in Christ to all peoples. This permanent task is multiform: parish catechesis, religious instruction in schools, administration of the sacraments, Sunday Mass homilies, ministry of hospital chaplains, in convents, spiritual retreats… and many other useful Church events, Eucharistic Congresses, youth days, voluntary helpers assisting the sick, lay associations which are beacons of religiosity.

In Lima at present we have a city mission, Remar Mar adentro, involving hundreds of thousands of people in parishes, schools, confraternities and Church movements with the mission to bring people to conversion, to turn their hearts towards God._ These are all channels for teaching Catholic doctrine and morals, the social doctrine which defends the rights or workers while not forgetting their duties.

Read the whole thing.

From the AP: Gitmo Detainees Say They Were Sold

Get the story here!

It appears to be a story of grave injustice. There are Arab and Chinese Muslims fleeing Afghanistan, lured by greedy tribesman that see US dollar signs on their foreheads. There's the system of bounties that the US authorities use to secure terrorists from local Pakistani tribesmen. Open and shut--Gitmo bad, captives innocent, shut it down. Right? Wrong.

Buried in the story is this:

The military-appointed representative for one detainee - who said he was a Taliban fighter - said the prisoner told him he and his fellow fighters "were tricked into surrendering to Rashid Dostum's forces. Their agreement was that they would give up their arms and return home. But Dostum's forces sold them for money to the U.S."

Several detainees who appeared to be ethnic Chinese Muslims - known as Uighurs - described being betrayed by Pakistani tribesmen along with about 100 Arabs.

They said they went to Afghanistan for military training to fight for independence from China. When U.S. warplanes started bombing near their camp, they fled into the mountains near Tora Bora and hid for weeks, starving.

One detainee said they finally followed a group of Arabs, apparently fighters, being guided by an Afghan to the Pakistani border.

"We crossed into Pakistan and there were tribal people there, and they took us to their houses and they killed a sheep and cooked the meat and we ate," he said.

That night, they were taken to a mosque, where about 100 Arabs also sheltered. After being fed bread and tea, they were told to leave in groups of 10, taken to a truck, and driven to a Pakistani prison. From there, they were handed to Americans and flown to Guantanamo.

"When we went to Pakistan the local people treated us like brothers and gave us good food and meat," said another detainee. But soon, he said, they were in prison in Pakistan where "we heard they sold us to the Pakistani authorities for $5,000 per person."

Here, we have a Taliban fighter tricked into surrendering. We have Chinese muslims training to fight for independence from China. Trained by whom? Most likely, Al Queda and the Taliban? And why do they want independence? Most likely to establish some type of sectarian State. In other words, they're terrorists. Another says they "followed a group of Arabs, apparently fighters"...

Why were they following fighters? Surely they had to know who these Arab fighters were retreating from, right?

These are supposed to be innocent Muslims caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Perhaps they didn't directly fight US forces or allies. However, some of these innocents received aid from the enemy. Others trained to engage in terrorism against another sovereign state. They don't sound to innocent to me!

The rest sounds like he-said, he-said. But don't just take my word for it. Read the article and judge for yourself.

Gay Bloc MP Tells Catholic Bishop Christian Marriage Teaching is Morality of the “Flintstones”

Unk! Must light fire! Get skins for winter! Where woman!

What? Me talk like caveman? Well, Me must be one!

Menard say so.

After all, anyone that believes Catholic and Christian teaching on marriage adhere to “stone age” morality:

Responding to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops' statement that laws must be in accord with natural law and reason, Menard, a self-confessed active homosexual, accused Archbishop Marcel Gervais of Ottawa of adhering to "“stone age" morality.

Menard said that the insistence that marriage be linked to the raising of children is an idea "“from the time of the Flintstones."

The Reasonable Bloc Quebecois MP of Canada has no problem insulting Archbishops and anyone else that dares get in the way of the one thing that matters. Archbishop Gervais gave a measured and Foolish response:

Gervais told the committee that laws must respect the "order inscribed in nature. Once laws contradict this natural order, they become unjust," the Archbishop said. "They then risk creating division and dissension, and so breed social disorder." Archbishop Gervais has been among the tiny number of Bishops in Canada to have publicly supported their colleague, Calgary'’s Bishop Fred Henry, who is currently fighting a Human Rights Tribunal complaint over his comments supporting Catholic teaching on homosexuality.

Apparently the right to circumvent the meaning of marriage trumped others' right to religious freedom. Catholics are apparently as free to believe in their teaching as they like as long as they keep it to themselves. At least, until the Boot-Stompers kick in the door. Just ask Dominic Tse, Chinese-Canadian representative of the Jubilee Centre for Christian Social Action:

"My son came to me one day saying that last year their class took a vote on same sex marriage,” Tse said. “I asked him being my son, what did you vote. He said he didn't vote. Why not? '‘Because I'm scared for my life.'"

In light of the proven spuriousness of Liberal Party assurances that religious freedoms would not be curtailed by the bill, Gervais asked the committee how the federal government would ensure that Canadians, not just religious officials, would be protected from anti-religious discrimination. Gyapong writes that the MP'’s "“seemed deaf to repeated arguments that religious freedom was already under attack in Canada."

"Will those who believe in the historical definition of marriage henceforth be victims of discrimination?" Gervais asked

If only the Fools would be Reasonable, the Reasonable say. "Now", they mutter to themselves, "we'll have to make them reasonable."

Late Night/Early Morning Inspiration

I'm not usually up at this hour in the morning (US EST-NY, currently 1:43AM and counting). Tonight, I couldn't sleep. Maybe it was the coffee. Maybe it was the RSS feed not feeding. I don't know.

So, here I am. I hit TTLB ecosystem and found Living By Faith. Bloghost Nicole presents a metaphor for us to begin to grasp Christ's sacrifice here.

Now, my son sleeps in the room next door. I read this parable and know how far I am from our Father's love. For if it were my son, the world could whither. How could I give him up? I'm human, a sinner among sinners in the final analysis. This much of a Fool I doubt I can be. From a mightier reserve of heart than any Father could muster, our Creator poured forth his own Son like a libation, so that through his Blood we could become our Father's children again.

All I can do before the humility that is my true state of being is fall upon my knees and thank God for his gift of Jesus even as I plead for his Mercy ever new. For we are a pilgrim Church on Earth. We are residents of the Hospital, and fatal relapse awaits our lack of vigilence.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Katherine Kersten raises a hornet's nest

A number of Minniapolis Star Tribune readersreaders take issue with this column by Katherine Kersten

I particularly like this doctrinaire watch-dogging from this Foolable:

the implication that Archbishop Flynn is out of step with the former pope is simply wrong. Criticism of capitalism's effects on low-income people throughout the world was one of the most consistent themes of John Paul's papacy.

I do not question that Kersten can publicly disagree with the archbishop and remain a good Catholic. I do wish she would acknowledge that it is she, not the archbishop, who is dissenting.

I still laugh when I hear Foolables cry "dissent" over doctrine that calls for the Faithful to address matters prudently, and thus can disagree with one another and even with our Pope and Bishops and still remain Catholic. It's funny because they never seem that concerned about dissent when addressing doctrine on intrinsic evil such as abortion or euthanasia--except to erroneously lump capital punishment into the mix.

Meanwhile, Ms. Kersten addresses that unspoken fundamental that complicates every Foolable's effort to totalitarize "Social Justice":

If the proposition that high taxes benefit the poor is correct, the luxury boat tax that Congress passed in 1990 was the perfect tax. It sought to raise revenue by targeting only the richest Americans, who could well afford to pay, and slapping a 10 percent tax on fancy boats.

Problem was, the rich didn't pay the tax. They just went to the Bahamas to buy their boats. But the tax devastated the domestic boat-building industry. Tens of thousands of working-class people -- shipyard workers, carpenters, janitors at boat stores -- were thrown out of work. Congress hastily repealed the tax.

The lawmakers who proposed the luxury boat tax may well have been motivated by compassion. Unfortunately, reality trumped wishful thinking. In the end, these officials hurt the very people they intended to help.

Those that cry out "Catholic Social Teaching" when calling for higher taxes on the wealthy to pay for services to the poor sometimes forget to add subsidiarity to their list of CST principles. That's the one that calls for federated associations to exercise mastery in their own field and receive assistance, not bureacratic interference, from higher authorities. Civic groups, affiliations of charities and churches, regional government policy and the like could all work in concert to assist the poor. The State doesn't have to play Daddy Warbucks with other peoples' money! When they do, situations like what Ms. Kersten described are more likely to take place.

Archbishop Flynn has certainly voiced the party line of the USCCB. That line may not consider the ramifications of fallen people's incentives. This doesn't mean he should not speak out, as another snarky reasonable reader points out:

Katherine Kersten's May 26 column was not only informative, but illustrates why politicians should stick to politics and theologians should stick to church issues.

While Mr. Adams may be right that His Excellency's grasp of economics leaves something to be desired, he's dead wrong on say ing the Archbishop should stick to "church issues". It's that kind of religion-is-a-private-affair nonsense that has brought our society into freefall by our reasonable elites.

What Archbishop Flynn has done is prophetically cry out for justice for the poor. That his chosen method will not get the job done is almost irrelevent. It's one thing to acknowledge that an undertaxed economy will become more efficient--and this means more jobs. It's another to see to it that no one is left behind. Are the powers that be in Minnasota working in some manner to achieve that, as best they can? In fact, are we as a society?

The last thing that we Fools should do is to rely on that phrase "prudential judgement" the way Foolable dissenters rely on the phrase "freedom of conscience". Are we interested in showing solidarity with the poor or not? How will our prudential judgements and use of subsidiarity accomplish that?

LA Times: Benedict Urges Dialogue Among Christians

At his first mass outside Rome:

'We cannot communicate with the Lord if we are not communicating among ourselves,' he told tens of thousands of followers gathered for the open-air celebration in the seaport of Bari. 'I ask all of you to decisively take the path of spiritual ecumenism, which in prayer will open the door to the Holy Spirit, who alone can create unity.

John Paul the Great hoped that Christianity could "breathe with two lungs". Perhaps Benedict XVI will succeed in fulfilling that Hope. Praise be to God if he can. All Christians must unite in our Foolishness if we are save the Reasonable from themselves. Rather, Christ will save them best through us when we are united with each other in Him.

From Against The Grain

a phenomenal offering of Memorial day tributes from across the blogosphere and beyond.

Check it out!

Faith and the Human Drama according to Peter John Cameron, O.P.

Over at Godspy

Hat tip to Being or Nothingness and Wired Catholic

Whoa. I'm still swimming in ideas trying to understand it. Perhaps that's because I face a temptation to commit a truly reasonable act. Push back a date, send out some notices and host meetings before a deadline issued by my boss the second week of May; Do it, and I'm set. Reasonably speaking.

Drama speaks to us in the primordial essense of our being. When it engages the truth, it demonstrates people that struggle with Truth and Right. Tragedies in particular do this in and effective way, for the tragic flaw of a play's protagonist often drives the conflict that defines the tragedy. Think of the hubris of Oedipus for example.

So, too, our Faith. We face the dramatic decision each day of acting in accord with our interests now or acting according to His Righteous call, whatever it costs us. This is especially true when we are faced with the call to responsibly address our mistakes. We can either turn to Him and make whatever ammends we can, or we can turn to ourselves and begin the cover-up. CYA, after all, greases the wheels upon which the world turns.

If our Liturgy misses anything in its constant need to reinvent itself for modern, reasonable tastes, it is that it loses touch with the fundamental drama of incarnation and redemption. Christ literally holds our salvation in his outstretched arms, and everyone around him at the time of his passion gives him reason to give up on us all. Yet he dies, and thus saves us all nonetheless. He rises, and thus restores nonetheless. We celebrate this fundamental drama and join our struggles to His in this celebration. We celebrate it whenever we face the conflict between the way we are and the way God calls us to be.

Drama opens us to reality. The Drama of the Eucharist opens us to Reality. Can we afford not to be apart of that?

Even when being a part of it costs us this side of Sunday?

A look at the challenges of evangelizing teenagers

We the Church have a long way to go if this article represents the norm.

Teens like Angie Casebolt require a different kind of evangelization:

The 19-year-old NKU student was raised Catholic but fell away from the church during her teenage years because she felt "forced into" religion - and she has no plans to return to an institution she views as outdated and rigid.

"I try to be a good person. I think that if there is a heaven - you never know - that if I'm a good person, it doesn't mean I have to go to church every week. It doesn't mean I have to go to church at all," she said. "I don't really relate with it very much. It's kind of funny: people go to church and then as soon as they're leaving church, they're fighting for spots in the parking lot, to get out of the parking lot quicker. It just doesn't make a lot of sense to me."

She would like to see the church accept female priests and relax its conservative positions on abortion and other social issues. But she's doesn't see that happening.

Formation appears to be a challenge in Dioceses everywhere. Here in NY, formation in my parents generation was as rule-centered as you can imagine--DO THIS DON"T DO THAT. My generation experienced the "GOD IS LOVE" mantra without the fullness of context required to live that reality in relationship. I developed in my own formation after College, even though I went to Catholic Schools for 12 years--and High School with the Salesians!

Dr. Christian Smith of the National Study of Youth and Religion touches on the kind of change in formation that today's teens may need:

"Rethinking basic commitment to and programs for youth is key. Adults intentionally building relationships with teens is key. Investment by the church at multiple levels is important. (And) more intentional and creative teaching and higher expectations of youth is important, I believe."

The bottom line is that everyone growing up in the Faith needs to experience relationship with the Lord in the midst of His People, the Church. If they don't experience this vibrant reality in both formal catechism and daily family life, then they'll join the ranks of the Angie Casebolts.

Memorial Day History

Today is the observation of Memorial day. By tradition, it's also the historic day itself. Here is a history of Memorial day.

It includes a petition to support bill S 189, a proposal to restory Memorial day to its historic date of May 30th, rather than the last Monday of May in which it has been observed since 1971. Supporters of this bill believe that it will encourage greater recognition and traditional observation of the true meaning of Memorial Day.

What's unfortunate is that such a bill is even required. I'm reminded of the lyrics of that country song: "Have your forgotten?"

Unfortunately, even after 9/11, many in our country act as though they have.

Whatever anyone's opinion of wars in general or the Iraq War/War on Terrorism in particular, the fact remains that we enjoy our freedom by the blood of our fallen servicemen. Memorial day must be more than just another day off to throw barbeques. Honoring the dead is the corellary of that traditional Corporal Work of Mercy, Bury the Dead.

If we do not honor the dead for whom we owe our liberty, exactly how grateful are we for that gift? And if we are not grateful for that gift because we take it for granted, how long can we expect to hold onto it before it is taken away?

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Love Your Enemies--whether you like them or not

Mark Shea has often observed that the scandal of Roman Catholic Christianity is not the Church's doctrine on sex but its teaching on Mercy. Judging from this reflection posted by Julie from Happy Catholic, St. Augustine might agree:

That your enemies have been created is God's doing: that they hate you and wish to ruin you is their own doing. What should you say about them in your mind? "Lord be merciful to them...

This is one of the greatest reasons why the Reasonable shake their heads at the Fools. Who could understand? Christ is, after all, "a stumbling block to Jews and nonsense to Gentiles."

Yet, this is Christ's commandment to us. It's also the example he lived--from the cross, no less.

Live mercy. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Jonathan Bennette over at Ancient and Future Catholic Musings discusses Hope

Check it out here

It's too easy to forget that Hope is a gift:

this strength to hope does not depend on our own power, but the grace of the Holy Spirit. In fact, hope is not merely a virtue, but what is called a theological virtue and is "infused," not something we can earn.

Hope is called theological because it not only leads us toward God, but also because Christian hope comes only from God. Hope, like faith and love, are infused by God into the souls of his children as a gift.

Honestly, I struggle with this. When presented with the metaphor of "pray to God, but row to shore" I often swing between extremes of frantic work or frantic prayer. One without the other does not allow me to receive the infusion of Hope that the Holy Spirit gives, however.

I pray for the grace to more consistently pray and work together, so that I can more fully live in the Hope that he gives.

Happy Birthday Dad!

Today is my father's birthday. Frank Tassone was born on this day in the year of our Lord 19__. What? Am I stupid? You can get the last two digits of my Father's birthday when you pry them out of my cold, dead hand!

Happy Birthday, Dad. Many happy returns!

Friday, May 27, 2005

Orson Scott Card on The Riots of the Faithful

I've liked Orson Scott Card ever since Ender's Game. He's a talented writer that can convince you his characters are real. He's also a talented essay that grasps what's real. Here is evidence:

the media are no better than government at exercising unchecked power. When it's known that no one can punish you, a certain kind of person stops caring whether he hurts anybody. And such people tend to rise within any organization that doesn't work hard to have a conscience.


So during such a difficult time, even people who think the Iraq War or even the whole war on terror is a horrible mistake still have an obligation of loyalty to the nation that offers them protection, prosperity, and freedom.

I mean, what kind of idiot breaks a hole in the hull of his boat during a storm, just because he doesn't like the guy at the tiller and thinks the storm could have been avoided?


Consider his judgement of the Media and the culture to which they demonstrate their unrelenting loyalty:

They are loyal to a community -- but it's not America.

It's Smartland. The nation of the newsmedia people. That's where they live. Not in America. These newspeople generally don't even know anybody, apart from "sources," who serves America in the military. Smartland consists of a very different crowd.

I know that crowd. I've heard them jeer at all the values that most Americans still care about, laughing at religious people, at the middle class, at suburbanites, at the poor ignorant saps who don't think correct thoughts all the time. You know -- the citizens of Heartland. Those poor sentimental fools who stood in line to see The Passion and who like Adam Sandler movies and who get tears in their eyes when they see the American flag and whose hearts break a little when it burns.

And yet the irony is that the reason the radical Islamists hate the West so much is primarily because of the unchecked and uncheckable excesses of the Smartish. From Hollywood to newspeople to the soft-subject professors in our universities, the culture that makes people like Osama bin Laden want to blow us up or crush us into dust is the culture of the R-rated movie, the anti-religion intellectual, the glorified abortionist, the babies-without-marriage crowd, and the what-me-worry media elite.

Meanwhile, he observes that radical muslims will achieve nothing by rioting and killing fellow muslims. On the contrary:

What the rioters haven't learned is that blowing up with rage accomplishes nothing except to make themselves look like big babies throwing tantrums. It doesn't make anybody in the world respect Islam more -- it makes us respect Islam less.

After all, when babies are prone to throwing tantrums, we may tiptoe around the house to avoid waking them up, but we don't give them the car keys. It's not respect you're giving them. You can't take them seriously as equals. You only avoid provoking them. They're a nuisance.

It's quite interesting, isn't it? "Smartland" as the heartland of the reasonable: yes, that fits. The utopian worship of nothing leaves a void in their hearts that they try to fill with empty icons, such as "tolerance", "multiculturalism", "self-determination", and the entire litany of unprinciples torn from their proper moorings in the Truth. This leaves the media prone only to find what proves its theory. Therefore, korans flushed down a toilet--a clear violation of multiculturalism--must be shown to the American people right away. For surely they will be outraged, right?

If only the media were as concerned about Catholic outrage when the Dung-covered Madonna was displayed at the Brooklyn Museum. If only they were concerned about Christians' feelings when "Piss Christ" was stuffed down our throats as "art". Ironic, then, that they rush to the defense of civilian-garbed combatants that fought US Special Forces in Afghanistan over the Qur'an.

And did we riot, when the media told us to "deal with it"? Did we kill each other in our rage? Strange, I didn't catch those headlines.

This is what we can expect. Fools understand. Since the Reasonable rule, what else could we expect? Respect? Did the Reasonable of Jesus' time respect him? Then why should we expect the Reasonable of today to respect us? Nothing demands the absolute loyalty that we Fools cannot give. Instead, we must laugh. We laugh with the Truth that He has already conquered the world. Then we gather what he has claimed, in his name, one soul at a time.

via Relapsed Catholic

Deny the Lie: Abortion rates DROP under President Bush's administration

Eve Tushnet relays this news via Amy Welborn. It appears that all the hype about abortions on the rise during GWBs term is all that--hype! Apparently, an opinion columnist used research sampling from perhaps 16 states and projected it for the entire country. The trouble is the organization from which he drew his research contradicted him, as the graph shows.

And when did this hype job first hit the media? October, 2004. How convenient.

Truth in proposition from even seamless-garment-inspired prolife activists is required of Christians. Seeing a problem that isn't there because one's politics wish it were so leads responsible people to irresponsibly see their own issues rather than the truth. I hope that was this columnists case. I shudder to think of what else it could be...

Northhampton in Great Britain gets new Bishop

The Pope has made another new appointment of Bishop, this time the first new Bishop in England in Wales:

He has asked Monsignor Canon Peter Doyle to become the new Bishop of Northampton.

Get the story here.

The new Bishops reaction to being chosen?

Monsignor Doyle said, “Humbled, stunned, surprised and excited to be called to be Bishop of Northampton, I can only place myself in the hands of God and ask for your prayers.


Lot of Easy-to-remember Pope Benedict XVI Domain Names FREE

Catholicism is contageous. Especially the Roman kind. Even the cybermarketers genuflect. At least, until the upload the content.

Um. Perhaps they could leave a domain name for the person with the name? Wouldn't that be a concept?

Nah! Just think how much traffic these get. What? Are a billion Catholics gonna just show up or something?


That's Right!

AP gets Catholicism wrong! What a concept. This time, AP actually corrects itself. Observe this correction in the La Times

Is. Not represents. In spite of what the McBrien wing says.

Jewish Popes?

That's the premise of this story from freelance writer Herb Geduld for the Cleveland JewishNews.com.

Here's one sampler:

Almost 1,000 years later, the first cardinal of acknowledged Jewish descent, Anacletus II, was elected as pope in 1130 by a majority of the College of Cardinals. Anacletus II, whose original name was Pietro (Peter) Pierleone, was the great-grandson of a Roman Jew, Baruch Pierleone, who with his entire family had converted to Catholicism 100 years earlier on Easter of 1030. Baruch took on the not-so-new name of Benedictus Christianus.

This is another indicator of how wise John Paul the Great's assessment of the Jewish people. When he called them our elder brothers in the Faith, he surely had Paul in mind, who said:

3 If the firstfruits are holy, so is the whole batch of dough; and if the root is holy, so are the branches.
But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place and have come to share in the rich root of the olive tree,
do not boast against the branches. If you do boast, consider that you do not support the root; the root supports you.
Indeed you will say, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in."
That is so. They were broken off because of unbelief, but you are there because of faith. So do not become haughty, but stand in awe.
For if God did not spare the natural branches, (perhaps) he will not spare you either.
(Romans 11:16-21)

Our Faith only makes sense because of the Jewish faith. Pope John Paul the Great understood this. Pope Benedict XVI appears to believe it as well, judging from some of his writings here. At the end of the day, we are brothers. Hopefully, we can consistently act like brothers. And not Cain and Abel, at that.

Archbishop tells editors where to put dissenting views

From Cathnews

Archbishop Foley has made it official: as far as Catholic media is concerned, the cafeteria is closed!

In a speech given in Florida to Catholic media personnel, Archbishop Foley paid tribute to Fr Reese, but said he agrees with a recent editorial in the US Our Sunday Visitor Catholic Newspaper and an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal that a priest-editor, who in some way is expected to represent the magisterium of the Church, "cannot appear to give equal weight in a publication sponsored by a religious community to articles which present the teaching of the Church and articles which dissent from it."

No one expects any other institution to give equal treatment of views antithetical to the institution. Why is the Catholic Church required to do so in order to be considered intellectually open and honest?


I'm published! Catholic Exchange has published an essay of mine in their daily feature the edge!

This is my first wide-audience publication. Needless to say, it's an exciting time in the Fool household. Yeah!

Welcome readers from Catholic Exchange! Have a look around and enjoy. Feel free to email me or leave comments. I'm glad you came by!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Promise of Benedict XVI at Christianity Today Magazine

A promising prediction of Benedict XVI's pontificate

It can only be for the greater glory of God that evangelical protestants and Roman Catholics can come together in greater cooperation and mutual respect. May our continuing journey together bear fruit in greater unity in this world and eternal life in the next.

Timothy Shortell, Ph.D., thinks you're a moral retard if you're religious

"...in the name of their faith, these moral retards are running around pointing fingers and doing real harm to others..." Timothy Shortell, Ph.D.

Another fine example of our healthy and well-contributing higher education system. Brooklyn college associate professor Timothy Shortell, Ph.D., asserts the most reasonable absurdity in this online essay:

So, in the name of their faith, these moral retards are running around pointing fingers and doing real harm to others.

He refers to religious people, of course. He appears to have a special place in his heart for Christians:

In the heart of every Christian, though, is a tiny voice preaching self-righteousness, paranoia and hatred. Christians claim that theirs is a faith based on love, but they'll just as soon kill you. For your own good, of course.

Apparently, being a Ph.D gives one the gift to read men's hearts. I'm so glad he sees the inner Manson in me. I feel so much better now being so understood.

Thankfully, the reasonable administration and faculty no how to deal with such a wonderous paragon of reasonableness: they promote him!

Comrad Shortell is now chairman of the Sociology Department. Inside Higher Ed reports on the reaction from a motley assortment of fools and ambivalent reasonable folk such as the Daily News:

And to some in New York City, that’s reason enough why Timothy Shortell should not be allowed to assume the post to which his colleagues just elected him: chairman of the sociology department. Editorials and articles this week in The New York Sun and The New York Daily News have blasted Shortell as intolerant, quoted religious students as saying that they were offended by his writings, and demanded that the college do something.

Brooklyn responded quickly. Christoph Kimmich, the president, sent letters to the newspapers in which he announced that he had appointed three college officials “to investigate the situation” and report back. Kimmich deplored the “offensive, anti-religion opinions” of Shortell. “While his right to express these views is protected, what is not protected is the injection of views like these into the classroom or into any administrative duties he might assume as chair of the sociology department,” Kimmich wrote, adding that no one had complained that Shortell had in fact done so.

Can you guess how the good comrade doctor responded? If you guessed hissy-fit about "academic freedom" and irrelevence of private web essay to his "professional" responsibilities, you're right:

Shortell, in an e-mail interview, said, “Whatever else people try make of this, it is fundamentally an academic freedom issue. It is not simply my right to speak that is being threatened. If I can be denied the opportunity to lead a department based on presumptions about my political beliefs, so too can anyone else. Whose unpopular viewpoint will be questioned next?”


“It is a mistake to believe that simply because I have expressed my political views as a private citizen that I am unable to treat people fairly in my professional role. Any public university is going to attract a great deal of diversity. Indeed that is one of the things I enjoy most about Brooklyn College. I work all the time with people who are different from me in almost every way. There has never been any trouble. I treat people with respect and they reciprocate. That is how we all get along despite our differences.”

Sure, guy. Whatever you say. The fact remains that this so-called professional has demonstrated no capacity to address religious people seriously. I might attempt to fisk his wonderjargon of rhetoric, but the slicing and dicing would consume too much bandwith. His trolloped strawman of an argument doesn't stand up to the light of day. Perhaps if he were talking about South Pacific canabals of the 19th century or ancient pagans of the pre-minoan civilizations, he might have a point. But religion in general?

If his mouth-foaming is with the perceived incompatibility of reason and faith, he can thank Martin Luther--and later, the enlightenment philosophers--for that. Aquianis articulated beautifully the complex relationship between reason and Faith. Judaism lay the foundation for the Rule of Law. Christianity evolved nearly every sensibility that allowed for human rights and democratic institutions to this day. The very means of his employment is a fruit of medieval Catholicism. If these are the results of an excessive devotion to pre-scientific magid and the behavior of immature, irrational people then maybe we don't need scientific rationalists.

Besides his immense ignorance, the good comrade doctor shows not the slightest hint of sound judgement. Any number of religious students in his class would find themselves hard-pressed to not feel like their in a hostile environment. Just stumbling on his essay could be enough to make them feel coersed. He can try that separation of personal from professional line all he likes. Tell that to students paying tuition.

He's entitled to his view, ignorant though he may be. Is he entitled to be honored for his ignorance? If that is academic freedom, then sign me up! I'd love to move from the front lines of education to the ivory towers of higher education tenure. All I'll need to do is bash some religious folks and take bows to my wildly applauding fellow proffesoriats. To quote a collegue and good doctor in his own right: "Man, I love this country!"

David Brooks of the NYT sees "A Natural Alliance"

After agonizing over why "we Jews don't have megagogues" and why his books "don't sell 25 million copies", he gets to the business at hand and observes that

culture wars and wars against poverty don't mix:

My third thought, which may be more profound than the other two, is that we can have a culture war in this country, or we can have a war on poverty, but we can't have both. That is to say, liberals and conservatives can go on bashing each other for being godless hedonists and primitive theocrats, or they can set those differences off to one side and work together to help the needy.

He then observes who may agree with him:

The natural alliance for antipoverty measures at home and abroad is between liberals and evangelical Christians. These are the only two groups that are really hyped up about these problems and willing to devote time and money to ameliorating them. If liberals and evangelicals don't get together on antipoverty measures, then there will be no majority for them and they won't get done.

He supports this claim with recent, joint work by seemingly bitter enemies, and includes an intriguing development in Evangelical/Catholic relations:

Today I'll be at a panel discussion on a proposed antipoverty bill called the Aspire Act, which is co-sponsored in the Senate by social conservatives like Rick Santorum and social liberals like Jon Corzine.

And when I look at the evangelical community, I see a community in the midst of a transformation - branching out beyond the traditional issues of abortion and gay marriage, and getting more involved in programs to help the needy. I see Rick Warren, who through his new Peace initiative is sending thousands of people to Rwanda and other African nations to fight poverty and disease. I see Chuck Colson deeply involved in Sudan. I see Richard Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals drawing up a service agenda that goes way beyond the normal turf of Christian conservatives.

I see evangelicals who are more and more influenced by Catholic social teaching, with its emphasis on good works. I see the historical rift healing between those who emphasized personal and social morality.

I'm not certain when such an awareness of these developments first smacked him upside the head. Where has he been? Is he right? Is this such a new phenomena? Pat Robertson has been carrying out humanitarian work since 1978! This archived CT article discusses Jubilee 2000, which featured cooperation between Bono and the late Senator Jesse Helms. Habitat for Humanity, a Christian ministry, builds homes for the poor, and former President Jimmy Carter has made headlines hammering nails into new rooves with the ministry. While I'm glad that Evangelicals may be taking a closer look at Catholic Social Teaching, it's clear that Christians have done their part to serve the poor, even when that means teaming up with Liberals. It sounds to me like Mr. Brooks has made news by getting wet.

As to his earlier premise--that we can have a culture war or a war on poverty but not both--it fails on its face. Not only can both of these important reforms take place, they must take place. Part of bringing the Gospel to the culture is to stand firm for Life, freedom rooted in truth, the proper use of the gift of sex and support of families. Another vital part of Christian witness is to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and meet the needs of the poor. Does Mr. Brooks believe that the poor will be served by a culture that considers human life definable by convenience and as conveniently set aside? Do not the winds of euthanasia that blow fiercely since Terry Schiavo not trouble him? The poor will be the last considered for aid--and possible the first considered for disposal--should our culture continue its march to our Brave New World. Only Christ saves. Only His Gospel preached through word, sacrament and example will bring others to Him. That means facing down the culture of death and the consumerism that victimizes the poor. There's no either/or here. If we fail to fight and win one war, we will lose them both.

Faithful Catholic Professionals on Whitewashing History: The Catholic Church and the Americas

Faithful Catholic Professionals has an excellent take-down on a tired old meme. Get it here!

A sampler:

an important note to make is NO CLERGY traveled with Columbus on his maiden voyage. Some of the earliest impressions of churchmen come as late as 1511. Father Antonio de Montesinos, a Dominican priest, writes:

"This voice says that you are living in deadly sin for the atrocities you tyrannically impose on these innocent people. Tell me, what right have you to enslave them? What authority did you use to make war against them who lived at peace on their territories, killing them cruelly with methods never before heard of? How can you oppress them and not care to feed or cure them, and work them to death to satisfy your greed? And, why don't you look after their spiritual health, so that they should come to know God, that they should be baptized, and that they should hear Mass and keep the holy days? Aren't they human beings? Have they no rational soul? Aren't you obliged to love them as you love yourselves? Don't you understand? How can you live in such a lethargical dream? You must rest assured that you are in no better state of salvation than the Moors or Turks who reject the Christian faith."

He also explodes the myth that the Catholic Church supported slavery. Witness:

In the former, Saint Bathilde (King Clovis II's wife) worked to free ALL SLAVES as early as the seventh century. Saint Anskar had many run-ins with the Vikings over slavery (851). The Church would routinely BAPTIZE slaves in order they be treated with the full rights of Christians. Four hundred years BEFORE Columbus sailed, William the Conqueror (1027-1087) outlawed slavery. Saint Wulfstan (1009-1095) and Saint Anselm (1033-1109), both Bishops, forbade making Christians slaves.

The problem wasn't official Church teaching or sanction, the problem was, as it is today, THE UNWILLINGNESS OF PEOPLE TO FOLLOW CHURCH TEACHING AND INSTRUCTION.

Read the whole thing.


For a truly Good morning!

Hat tip to Faithful Catholic Professionals

Windswept Morn

Bowing branches sway
The song of dancing chimes call
Grey-eyed windswept Morn

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

When Darkness Falls

Tightness in the throat,
Like an unseen noose drawing closer and closer.
The cringe in the shoulder,
For an unbearable is inevitable,
Short breath, short breath, short breath.
The Fading light steals
The last hope.

All I remember:
The lost moments when
I sat to see the news,
Service left behind as "too tiring."
The passing hours, screen-tied
While opportunities for prayer passed by
The minutes spent
While she reads, breathes and sits

The shadow of the Cross, ensnaring,
In dread do I feel its timber bite my collarbone
Rage, for "how much more?" is my constant lament,
Though I never want to know.

When the light can only be imagined,
Then I must live my imagination.
When the road turns to torrent,
I must drag one foot in front of the other
Onward, one unendurable step after another,
One at a time, always.

For when Darkness falls,
We must listen,
Follow and serve even through our
Our broken hearts.
For only then will we see
The Light.

Photo by The Associated Press
Pope Benedict XVI greets the faithful from his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, near Rome, earlier this month. Benedict XVI prefers food from his native Bavaria.

Here is a light-hearted look at the cuisine our new Pontiff enjoys. I'm not much of a fan of German cooking; Beer is the Fatherland's import of choice for me. Still, I couldn't help getting hungry reading this. Enjoy!

Ecumenicism at Its Best

For the first time, a commemoration of the Holocaust was held at St. Joseph’s Oratory, the 100-year-old landmark shrine on Mount Royal and one of Roman Catholicism’s most important sacred sites

A collegue at work asked me, in all honesty, if Hitler's Catholicism has anything to do with his genocidal policies. I answered that the opposite was true. Hitler was an apostate (I actually used the more polite term "lapsed catholic") from the Faith. Secular totalitarian ideology and pagan fantasies fueled Hitler's rampage. This collegue was young and asked in ernest.

This article could serve as the final answer on the subject:

Duhaime and Ann Ungar, MHMC executive director, lit seven candles symbolizing the six million Jewish victims and, the seventh, the millions of other civilian victims of the Nazis and their collaborators. Schubert then sang Oseh Shalom.

Ungar delivered the main address, introducing herself as a child of Holocaust survivors.

“Yet, I stand before you today, in this centre of spiritual devotion, not as a Jew, but as a human being...The Holocaust is a story that transcends differences, it is a story about our common humanity, and the lack of humanity that characterized the majority of the world’s response.”

While the horror must be remembered, she said, “we must never forget that [the Holocaust] is also a story of hope” because of the heroism of those who saved Jews.

“While I must highlight the hatred that seized the heart of Europe, I will also bring to light the glimmers of hope, the pinpricks of light, that came out of that unspeakable darkness.”

Among those she recalled were the priests Roger Braun, Pierre Chaillet, Jean Fleury, Jacob Raile and Henri Revol, as well as the nuns Anna Borowska and Maria Skobtsova.

“They saved lives not only with food and refuge, but with heart, with empathy and with prayer.”

One of the most inspiring moments of this story was the fact that this wasn't the first event of its kind. These commemorations have taken place in Christian Churches across Montreal many times before:

The event was organized by Christian-Jewish Dialogue of Montreal, which has held Christian commemorations of the Holocaust for the past 24 years in different Catholic and Protestant churches.

President Jean Duhaime said that this was also the first time that the Montreal Board of Rabbis and the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre (MHMC) were official partners in a commemoration. The oratory’s commemoration was a Sunday morning Eucharist in the basilica and was attended by about 1,800 people. Several Holocaust survivors were among the members of the Jewish community present.

Although I cringed when I heard the Eucharist was involved, the following excerpt appears to have addressed this:

Presided over by the oratory’s rector Father Jean-Pierre Aumont, the French-language service combined elements of Christian and Jewish liturgy. As in past years, Duhaime said it had been agreed upon in advance with Jewish representatives what the Christian portions would be to avoid discomfort.

Christians and Jews have come a long way since the first emancipations of the camps. May we continue to walk the road together as best as we can. It's the least brothers can do.

The Kids are all right

Good things happen even in Massachussets. Fontbonne students stand for social justice

Now, don't cringe. I know that headline says "social justice". This is a case where the term applies. For instance:

Over the past several weeks, the young women have put that teaching into practice. Impassioned by one woman's tragic story, the students united to stand in solidarity with the victims of Darfur and spread the word about the social injustices taking place there.

"The work of these students truly teaches the 'love of God and neighbor without distinction,' and embodies the values of respect, responsibility, reverence and reconciliation to which we aspire," said Gadziala who is chairperson of the theology department and has been teaching social justice courses at the Catholic all-girls school since 1993.
Dubbing their effort "Ducks for Darfur," these young women have worked hard to educate fellow members of the Fontbonne community, legislators and the public about the atrocities, the genocide, taking place in Sudan's Darfur region.

Since many people throughout the world probably just stare blankly when any one mentions Darfur, it's good work that these women do. It must be. Even has-been politicians want to be seen recognizing it:

An affirmation of their efforts on behalf of the victims of Darfur recently came in the form of a written response from Senator John Kerry thanking them for their concern, a concern he shares: "I join you in condemning the horrendous humanitarian conditions in Sudan, including enslavement and ethnic cleansing, as part of the country's devastating civil war . . . I have been one of the leaders in promoting the importance of the situation in Darfur, first calling the atrocities in Darfur genocide in June 2004. I share your concern that the United States should be actively involved in the cessation of these human rights violations."

Now, maybe it's me. I held my nose to this line; it didn't quite pass the smell test. So, a little google brought me this

From this mess, I found this:

Here's a relevent excerpt:

In a June 7, 2004 campaign press release, John Kerry declared that:

"I believe that the United States and the international community must act immediately to apply effective pressure on the Government of Sudan to rein in its militia proxies and to immediately provide unrestricted access for humanitarian aid and aid workers."

And Senator Kerry also made explicit reference to Darfur in the context of the Rwandan genocide:

"The world did not act in Rwanda, to our eternal shame. Now we are at another crisis point this time in Sudan. The Sudan's western Darfur region demands the world's immediate attention and action." (Kerry Campaign press release, June 7, 2004)

A determination of genocide is clearly implied in this statement, but this is not good enough: Senator Kerry must declare publicly and explicitly whether he believes the evidence in Darfur supports a finding of genocide, and tell the American people and the international community what he would do if were President, and such determination were made.

Now, if the most Mr. Kerry did was imply genocide took place in Darfur by comparing what happened there to Rawanda, then Mr. Reeves is right. This would demonstrate, yet again, how elastic Mr. Kerry regards the truth. If He says now that "I have been one of the leaders in promoting the importance of the situation in Darfur, first calling the atrocities in Darfur genocide in June 2004, when he said then that "The world did not act in Rwanda, to our eternal shame. Now we are at another crisis point this time in Sudan,", He is posturing to gain respectibility on the backs of committed young women. Disappointing, but not surprising. Still, it surely highlights the important work of, yes, social justice, that these students have engaged. God bless them.

Parents win in Maryland

Wired Catholic reports that Montgomery Schools in Maryland have put the cabash on the controversial sex ed program that promoted Homosexual activity. Get the story here.

The Washington Times confirms it here.

What's interesting about this is that a Federal Judge actually applied a positive interpretation of the First Ammendment to stop this travesty from taking place. I'm grateful to see that the hard work of well-organized Foolish parents bore fruit. It's another sign that we're not powerless for the Zeitgest of Reasonableness. We can take a stand for our children and win.

From Dr. Blosser: Why liberal Catholics think authority is "repressive."

Postmodernism is the liberal worldview at its most honest. Everything boils down to power, and the more for the reasonable, the better.

To often, Fools of a liberal persuasion bend over backwards to far to be "with it" to the reasonable. Thus, they become foolable. It's a sad marsh of median mediocrity. The reasonable will not respect any part of their religious sensibility unless it forwards the Agenda. Fools will laugh too hard and loud to pay them any serious mind. Thus, the foolable often end up pouting. This is true especially for those Catholics with a tendency to enjoy cafeterias, as Dr. Blosser addresses here.

He delivers the opening salvo:

The short answer is that they think "authority" means power, whereas it does not. In the current postmodern milieu, these stepchildren of the masters of suspicion (Marx, Freud, Nietzsche)--particularly Nietzsche--think of authority as something reducible to power. The academy may speak of canonical writers and essential core requirements for cultural literacy within the liberal arts tradition, but these liberals know in their heart-of-hearts that beneath it all, knowledge is reducible to power. Likewise, the Church may speak of canonical scriptures, Sacred Tradition, and magisterial authority of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, but in their heart-of-hearts, these liberals know that religion, along with everything else, is ultimately reducible to power.

After citing evidence from the usual reasonable suspects, he gets down to the business of showing them why they're alone and naked in the wilderness:

What is "authority," according to liberal dissenters? Nothing but the raw exercise of arbitrary power. In other words, they don't really believe the Church has anything like divine authority at all. This is why this idea (heavenly authority) is translated into that (power), which is something earthly, human, and mundane. But what is the Church's authority, really? To quote Peter Kreeft, it is nothing more than "author's rights." The author of a book has rights to it. The Author of the Church has rights to it. Likewise, those to whom He has delegated authority in the Church have the Author's rights to declare what is and what is not in accord with the Author's intended teachings and purposes. That is what lies behind Apostolic Succession. That is the meaning of the Church's authority. It is that authority (author's rights), which provides the sticking point that sticks in the liberal craw; because what it means is that The Faith can't simply be twisted, like a wax nose, in any arbitrary direction that prevailing whim would desire.

The funny thing is that some of the reasonable cited--such as the writers--would be the first to complain if editors were to twist their writings to convey an end totally unintended by them. Somehow, though, God's rights to the free gift of Faith that he has given us just aren't the same thing. The problem is they don't take God seriously. Therefore, when they look at the Roman Catholic Church, they see a historical institution run by celebate men that denies people their basic "rights". They fail to see the Body of Christ, or if they do (as in the foolable), they do not take seriously what that implies.

If they only knew what they were missing.

The Curt Jester has spoken: The Cafeteria is now Open!

For a good laugh, head on over to the Curt Jester, forThe Cafeteria is now Open!

Mix and match your doctrines. See if you win the Dowd prize!

The Other Stem Cell Bill

In all of the contraversy regarding the House's recent bill to authorize Federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research, This one passes under the radarCatholics in the Public Square has the story

Landmark legislation creating a new federally-funded stem cell therapeutic and research program for the scientifically sound collection and inventory of umbilical cord blood will be on the floor of the House of Representatives the week of May 23rd, [Catholic] Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) said today.

The Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act creates a new federal cord blood stem cell program, reauthorizes and expands the current federal bone marrow stem cell program, and establishes a new federally-funded data program with a single electronic access point so doctors and patients can research and tap into the therapy that is best suited to treat the life-threatening condition they are facing.

Considering the fact that adult stem-cell research holds the most proven prospects for developing cures to devestating diseases, This bill deserves the support of every person of conscience. There is no need for our nation to flirt with the scientific utopianism of the nazis in order to relieve our suffering citizens. The last thing Planned Parenthood and NARAL need is another revenue stream.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Over at Rerum Novarum

I. Shawn McElhinney has a beautiful summary of The Senate Democrats' recent filibuster psychosis

Quoting Hamilton and interpreting Madison, he comes to the conclusion that the Founders wanted Senate review of a President's nominations limited to strict circumstances. He explains:

Essentially, the primary reason the advise and consent rule was made was to prevent conflicts of interest in the president's nominations particularly political patronage and nepotism.{1} The framers saw that giving the Senate a broader authority than this in the process would infringe on the authority of the executive branch and create the kind of imbalance in government that the framers strove to avoid at every turn. But indeed that is what the Democrats have sought to do in their little charade of judicial filibusterin -all the while trying to cloak their noxious activities in the incense of a mythical "longstanding tradition." Hopefully this post demonstrates in reasonably brief fashion why that dog will not hunt.

The compromise settles nothing. The Judges are almost beyond the point here. Employing the most orwellian of rhetoric, the Democrats in the Senate would have the country believe that the most radical parlimentary procedure ever invoked in the Republic's history has been a part of Washington tradition. They are willing to circumvent the power of a sitting president in order to protect Judicially sanctioned sacrifice to Moloch. Considering the United States is at war, its the small wonder of the progressive and reasonable fourth estate alone that prevents these Senators from standing accused of treason. Do they really hate representative government so much that they would destroy the constitutional practice that allows it to exist. And yet they scream bloody murder that the Republicans won't let them abuse the constitution.

Mr. McElhinney gets it entirely right here.

Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right

Here I am stuck in the middle with you.:

When asked whether they agree more with intelligent design or evolution, an overwhelming majority of Jewish doctors (88%) and more than half of Catholic doctors (60%) said they agree more with evolution, while slightly more than half of Protestants (54%) agree more with intelligent design.

-- A majority of Catholic doctors (67%) agree with the statement that God initiated and guided an evolutionary process that has led to current human beings, while 11% believe that "God created humans exactly as they appear now." By contrast, less than half of Protestant doctors (46%) believe that God initiated and guided an evolutionary process, while 35% believe that God created humans as they appear now. The majority of Jewish doctors (65%) agree more with the statement that "humans evolved naturally with no supernatural involvement."

-- The majority of all doctors (78%) accept evolution rather than reject it and, of those, Jews are most positive (94%), Catholics are next (86%) followed by Protestants (59%).

-- Half of the doctors (50%) believe that schools should be allowed (but not required) to teach intelligent design.

-- More than half of Catholic doctors (62%) feel that schools should be allowed (not required) to teach intelligent design, conversely, more than half of Jewish doctors (59%) believe that schools should be prohibited from teaching intelligent design.

-- When asked whether intelligent design has legitimacy as science, an overwhelming majority of Jewish doctors (83%) and half of Catholic doctors (51%) believe that intelligent design is simply "a religiously inspired pseudo-science rather than a legitimate scientific speculation," while more than half of Protestant doctors (63%) believe that intelligent design is a "legitimate scientific speculation."

"Sympathy for the idea of intelligent design comes primarily from Protestant members of the medical community, although openness to consideration of intelligent design as a legitimate speculation is strong among Catholics but completely lacking among Jews," said Alan Mittleman, director of the Finkelstein Institute.

Why are jewish doctors so secular according to this study? Why are protestant doctors so seemingly in love with ID? Why are Catholics somewhere in the middle?

Ah, the joys of being the Fool!

But the Reasonable want the Church to get with the times...

>>> AsiaNews.it <<< Even as Jesuits and sisters of Mother Theresa expand Catholic presence in Afghanistan

Witness the truth of the Roman Catholic Church, the Body of Christ. Witness heroism that puts all the marxist dreams of the glassy-eyed reasonable to shame. This is Faith lived. This is Charity that reaps Heaven.

God bless them all, and may He keep them safe and serene as they work in his vineyard among his needy children.


"Sorry, Mr. Amrhine, but the pope is Catholic, and the church isn’t going anywhere".

Buy this man a beer! He rebutts a ridiculously reasonable column by the said Mr. Amrhine.

When Mr Amrhine wine:

Analysts of the Catholic church described the new pope, the former German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, as very conservative--a strict constructionist, to borrow a term applied to certain Supreme Court justices and nominees. But the observers added that during his tenure, a pope can change his views as he gains experience in the role. Yet while his papacy may evolve in the coming years, Pope Benedict is not likely to champion revision of church law on the issues mentioned above.

Mr. Rubin smacks him upside the hear:

Apparently, Mr. Amrhine can’t comprehend the idea of standing up for truth when it’s unpopular; nor does he understand what the pope’s job actually is.

The pope isn’t a theological dictator whose every whim becomes doctrine, but rather the guardian of the Catholic deposit of faith. He can’t change Catholic beliefs any more than the pro-abortion “Catholics” can.

To Mr. Amrhine's overheated charge of the Church's sexism:

While I'm unlikely ever to see eye-to-eye with a church that forbids the use of birth control, that would deny a woman's right to control her own body, and that, in my opinion, generally subjugates women...

Mr. Rubin doses him with the cool water of reality:

As for Mr. Amrhine’s charges of sexism, the church believes that the only perfect human person was a woman, Mary. She has taught from her inception the duties that husbands have to their wives, and that women can choose a life outside of marriage, an emancipation enjoyed in few non-Western societies to this day. No wonder the first Roman converts to Catholicism were predominantly women.

More power to Michael Rubin and any Fool like him. Whahoo!

From Christian Today: Overseas Priests to Revive Catholicism in Ireland

I love ironies. The nation that preached Christianity with such zeal stands in need of zealous missionaries. Those to whom the Irish brought the Faith now return it to them.
Missionaries march to the Emerald Isle.

But why has Ireland fallen so low? Is it the British? The Skotch? Losing the World Cup? No, apparently, it's the enticing dance of Western Europe:

According to an interview by Latimes with Cardinal Desmond Connell, retired archbishop of Dublin last month, he said, "Ireland has become part of the Western European scene. We have been moving in a secularising direction. But the pace of all this has been accelerated by the extraordinary leap forward in our country's prosperity."

"There's a lot of surplus cash around, and people are enjoying it. I have no trouble with that, but when they enjoy the immediate, they forget the ultimate."

With respect to the cardinal, I wonder if something else may be at play: nationalism.

As in, Catholicism was such an important part of Irish nationalism. Yet another Irony. For 1,000 years Catholicism provided the unity and strength of character for the Irish people in their struggle for their homeland. Once they achieved an independent republic, the principle aspiration of nationalism had been fulfilled. Catholicism may have suffered from Ireland's very success as an independent society. Along with growing economic prosperity and secularizing culture, the Irish Catholics face a perfect storm.

Somehow, I don't believe that St. Patrick will allow his life's work to pass into oblivion. I'm sure he's giving the Savior an earful, even while we bloviate here. If missionaries are Fool enough to come to Erin, they're determined enough to succeed.

A Reporter's Portrait of Liberia

aHassan Kiawu reports on his native Liberia

Read the whole heartrending story.

Yep, give me that ol' time religion

The Reasonable have spoken: any society whose citizens choose to protect unborn children are suffering from:

two incompatible structures have conspired to keep the abortion debate on a medieval level.

Those two structures would be religion and politics, of course. so says Diren valayden, Outlook's Dublin Correspondent

He recites the usual tripe:

However, despite a blanket ban in many countries, every year there are 45 million induced abortions worldwide according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Of these 19 million are performed in unhygienic conditions, resulting in 70 000 deaths

Let's look at this closely. There are 19 million abortions "performed in unhygienic conditions." What are these conditions like, praytell. Dark alleys? Rusty wire hangers? Mr. Valayden does not say. How convenient. He then finishes his dire fact: ", resulting in 70,000 deaths." So, that's 70,000 deaths out of 19 million abortions performed. That means 18,930,000 women survived. 70,000 deaths from abortion (which is really more--double to who knows what) is 70,000 too many. However, when compared to how many women worldwide that make this tragic decision in "unhygienic conditions", it's a statistical insignificance. .37% of women who have abortions in these circumstances die. That's less than one percent.

But even one of these deaths is a catastrophe. Of course, it's the Catholic Church's fault:

However, the Catholic Church cannot be absolved from blame in this dismal situation. The late Pope John Paul II even likened abortion to the Holocaust. Such inflated remarks, comparing the tragedy of real, living people to that of anonymous unborn ones reflect the Church’s monolithic position on the subject.

And so must come the mandatory false dichotomy:

According to London’s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, foetuses feel pain only after 26 weeks gestation when the nerve and brain structures have fully developed. (Some scientists believe it takes place at 20 weeks). Clearly, religious teaching is at odds with science.

Yep. The presence of a soul is certainly indicated by the brain's biological capability to perceive pain. That's why the Terry Schiavo's of the world can be starved on judicial command, donchaknow. Besides, everyone can see when a soul is present. It shows up in the ultrasound, after all.

Then He goes one better. He spins the doctrinal history of the Church to indicate that abortion was once not condemned as a sin:

However, the Catholic Church did not always espouse a hard-line stance. Early Christian practice did not consider abortion a homicide. In the 5th Century, St. Augustine condemned abortion as a sexual sin. In the 13th Century, St. Thomas Aquinas, said that abortion was not a homicide, and believed the soul entered the body 40 days after conception for a male and 80 days for a female. That abortion was a sin, equal to murder and thus liable to excommunication, only took root in 1869, under Pope Pius IX.

Why do they always pick on St. Thomas anyway. What? Did he have an ultrasound hidden in his abbey somewhere? Oh, that's right, he is supposed to understand modern genetics five hundred years before its discovery! Of course!

Then must follow the mandatory disgust at those contradictory structures again, this time as intersected by Catholics:

Nothing has changed since, except for a hardening of attitudes. Last year, during the campaign for the presidency in America, Catholic groups called on priests to deny Holy Communion to politicians who dared to support abortion.

Yes, how dare the Catholic Church tell Catholics when they can and can't receive communion? Don't those old medieval celebates know that reception of bread from a mysoginistic, outdated oppressor is a constitutional right? Where would these outstanding citizens and "faithful catholics" be without their photo-ops?

And now for the opus of his Catholic-Church-as-power-player meme:

With its structure and influence, the Catholic Church represents a formidable opposition for pro-choice campaigners. Even the UN backs away in the face of such an edifice of moral values. Though the UNFPA is an advocator of post-abortion counselling, access to treatment for abortion-related trauma etc, it will not take a position, insisting that it is not pro-choice.

Cue the scary Latin chanting. Maybe he should have included some photos of Opus Dei flagellation. Might have made a stronger case.

So his argument appears to be:

1)Religion and Politics don't mix
2)Catholics can't get science, and
3)they change their teaching anyways, and
4)they exert far too much political power for anyone's good, since
5)their opposition to abortion means women die.

How reasonable. Sad, really. Just once, I'd like to blow apart a serious critique that didn't rely on tired stereotypes and forced hysteria. Ah, well: I digress.

If religion and politics do not mix, then perhaps Ghandi should have avoided leading Indians to the sea. Perhaps Martin Luther King Jr.'s efforts to lead boycotts threatened the state. Perhaps Oscar Romero was executed by lawful authority for subversion. It's funny how no one from the Progressive end of the pool protests the Church's clear teaching on solidarity with the poor. No one calls for Catholic Charities to close its doors. Few condemn the Church for calling humanity to be good stewards of the Earth. Somehow, it's only when The Church tells the world that it can't play God with other people's lives that Progressives like this columnist cry out. Hypocrisy is a poor substitute for principle.

The Catholic Church relies on the findings of science to more clearly understand how doctrine applies to everyday life. It is the work of modern embryology that provides the Church with confidence in saying that human life begins at conception. Besides, the abortion question rests more on philosophy and theology then on science. The beginning of human life is ultimately a metaphysical one. Since doctrine and philosophy develop, it's not at all inconsistent that the Church today defines the moment of human life differently then it once did. St. Thomas wasn't privy to the developments of doctrine that guided Pope Pius IX.

Pope Benedict XVI has praised the United States as a society that best balances Religion and Politics. His approbation rests on the fact that the US has never subscribed to the "Alter and Throne" States more common in Europe. Maybe I just don't get it, but this hardly seems like a clarion cry for an international theocracy headed by the Holy See. The Church counsels. She persuades. Societies are free to listen or not. If some do, that is their perogative. Progressives don't fear a marriage of religion and politics, they fear an inconvenient marriage of conscience and state, one that leaves no room for their utopian fantasies.

But the Reasonable have spoken: "Opposing abortion is medieval nonsense that kills women!"

Too bad for them that the Fools laugh too loudly to listen.

BTW, for more on the Church's historical view on abortion, click here.

From "Inside Higher Ed ": A "Disposition for Bias"

KC Johnson looks at the implications

His view in brief? The lunatics are running the asylum. Those that would be teachers must prove their bona fides to the new insanity. The one-sided politics of education educators has become the standard for acceptable practice and core of instruction.

I can tell you from experience that such an approach will hurt kids. They don't need advocates for social justice in the classroom. They need professionals that can teach them the content and skills that allow them to think for themselves.

A commentator to this story summarizes what kids need below, and how current teacher education programs are failing kids in this regard:

It was rare to find an ed school that even mentioned effective teaching in passing. Or skill at analyzing curricula. Or skill at designing instruction. Or knowledge of the preponderance of research, or even a hint that reading the research might be a good idea.
(emphasis mine)

For a similar perspective on a broader range of this trend, FrontpageMag has an interview with Professor Stanley Rothman.

Monday, May 23, 2005

'Night All!

It's quittin' time for your humble scribe.

Nighttime an empty
Bed with my name scrawled on it
Foretaste of Heaven.

The Papist throws the velvet down!

Witness his request for the attention of the Bishop of Charlotte

He points out what should be the obvious. Clearly the Chauncery elves in Charlotte can't understand the obvious. He spells it out for them:

The article then goes on to give the impression that the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) and Church teaching support revisioning God as "Mother." This impression, however, is simply mistaken. The idea that Scripture or Church teaching could be made to support such a view is simply not true.

While it is true--as everyone from the early Church Fathers to the contemporary Catechism of the Catholic Church (for online edition, click here) attests--that God's inner nature is humanly incomprehensible, that He transcends human gender, and that His tenderness and compassion may be expressed in feminine imagery (CCC 239), it is not true that the Church Fathers or the Catechism ever suggest that we may call Him "Mother." No Church Father says this. No catechism of the Church, past or present, says this.

It's amazing the lengths that the Foolable will go to blur their distinctions. They really seem to want a Faith that they can comfortably share at their dinner parties. I seem to recall, however, that the Savior made quite a spectacle of himself at some of these parties:

10 11 A Pharisee invited him to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee's house and reclined at table.
Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee. Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment,
she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner."
Jesus said to him in reply, "Simon, I have something to say to you." "Tell me, teacher," he said.
"Two people were in debt to a certain creditor; one owed five hundred days' wages 12 and the other owed fifty.
Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both. Which of them will love him more?"
Simon said in reply, "The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven." He said to him, "You have judged rightly."
Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair.
You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered.
You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment.
So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. 13 But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little."
He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."
The others at table said to themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?"
But he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

Don't you think they'd catch the general message? I mean, if you could take nothing else from this passage, maybe you could figure out that chilling with the popular might not be the best thing in the world? Is that TOO much to understand?

Apparently not.

Some of the Shepards need to grow spines. Dr. Blosser was all over this one this time. What about the others right now?