Thursday, June 30, 2005

A Catholic Experience says, "Learn From Your Mother"

(hat tip [for the image of our Mother] to the great blogger who I "borrowed" this from. If you see this, email me, so I can credit you properly.)

A recent visitor offers This advice on learning from Mary. He got my attention when he posted the Magnificat:

Magnificat – (Luke 1:46-55)

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lonely servant.

From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation.

He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.

Mary models the path of discipleship like no other saint or apostle. She has always said yes to the Lord. She has questioned him, but she has always obeyed him. One time she even led the Lord by following him. Only the Mother of God could convince the Son to reveal his glory before he thought he was ready. Mary accomplished this by telling another to "do whatever he tells you." Mary has always said yes.

That is our mission as his disciples. We must always say yes to Jesus Christ. We must go wherever he sends us, do whatever he demands of us, be the person he calls us to be. Sure, it's difficult to give up our dream of our life. It's humiliating to die to ourselves when we live in a culture that worships ourselves. But have we suffered for our obedience as Mary has? Her heart was pierced by the sword all throughout her life. She even held her beloved son in her arms after others brought him down from the cross. She did not refuse our God even then. What would our excuse be to refuse him now?

Mary always said yes. We are called to do the same.

eucatastrophe: The Holy Father on Catholicity and Unity

Nikki from eucatastrophe has the Holy Father's homily on the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul.

The Divine Right of Supreme Court Justices

New Commandments appropriate for the Public Square have just been unveiled by the SCOTUS. Guranteed to evade any conflict with the establishment clause, these updated rules are guaranteed to save Reasonable civilization as we know it. The first three truly encapsulate their power to preserve the common good from that messy democratic process:

1. We are the Supreme Court thy God. Thou shalt not have strange courts before us (Though we can appeal to foreign courts when it suits us).
2. Thou shalt not take the names of the justices of the Supreme Court thy God in vain
3. Remember thou keep the First Monday in October.

Rumors abound that an entire updated version of the 613 Mitzvot is set for release soon. A spokesmen for the Court declined to comment.
"It's about time," said one Reasonable observer of the Court that refused to give her name, "These new commandments will clear up a lot of confusion."

"There won't be any more of the Court's valuable time wasted on Foolish issues like religious symbols in public. They wanted it; they got it. Let's move on."

Hat tip to The Curt Jester for another masterpiece of satire.

Great! Former Hostage-Taker now President

AP has this disheartening story here. It's word against word. Some of the US hostages believe The new Iranian President was among their captors. The former students that stormed the US Embassy in Tehran deny this. Here's some of the back-and-forth:

Iran's president-elect belonged to the group that seized the U.S. Embassy in 1979, but he played no role in either capturing or holding Americans hostage, according to friends, associates and a former hostage-taker interviewed Thursday.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the hard-liner elected Iran's new president last week, initially opposed the embassy takeover, although he later dropped his opposition, an aide said.

A former hostage-taker also said, "He was not part of us."

But Ahmadinejad, 49, may have been among the hundreds of students uninvolved in the holding of the hostages who nevertheless had access to the embassy during that period.

Five former U.S. hostages said they recognized Ahmadinejad and were certain he was one of the hostage-takers. One hostage said Ahmadinejad interrogated him during 444 days of captivity and appeared to be the students' security chief.

Two former hostages - William J. Daugherty and Don A. Sharer - said they believe Ahmadinejad is in the photos e-mailed to them by the AP.

Former hostage David Roeder said he could not tell whether Ahmadinejad was shown in the photos. Instead, Roeder said, he recognized him from TV footage.

"It's sort of more mannerisms," he said.

The Mullahs desperately need to hold on to power. The young aren't buying into their program. The economy stagnates. Afghanistan on one border and Iraq on the other may become stable democracies. Hezbollah is under siege. The Israelis and Palestinians attempt to secure peace. It's a bad day to run Iran as the Islamofacist theocracy that it has become.

Now the Mullahs may have set the board so that a former hostage-taker of Americans holds the highest executive office of Iran. Plus, the government insists on moving forward on its nuclear plan. Desperation for power can lead to stupid decisions. It looks as though Iran's power-brokers are making a lot of them.

Speaking of the land up North

Episcopals are getting Foolish! CNS reports that the "Canadian bishops protest vote allowing gay marriage". The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops refuses to go away:

Archbishop Brendan O'Brien of St. John's, Newfoundland, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, said passage of the bill meant Canadians were "witnessing a dangerous deterioration of their communal values."

That deterioration is evident, he said, in the high rates of divorce and abortion and in declining birthrates.
Canada had taken "another unfortunate step toward eliminating civil and social recognition and appreciation for the unique importance of the committed relationship of a man and a woman in marriage," Archbishop O'Brien said in a statement.

He also raised concerns about the lack of respect for freedom of conscience evident in the vote.

"Members of Parliament were forced to follow a political deadline and to vote along party lines on an issue which deeply divides and troubles Canadians," he said. "This is an ominous sign of what can be expected in future debates on the application of Bill C-38 in the provinces and territories with regard to human rights legislation and the solemnization of marriage, as well as regarding school policies on moral and social questions."

Some of them are showing some unusual spine for Western prelates:

Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic of Toronto said the archdiocese would not recognize the court ruling.

"Marriage will be celebrated only as the union of a man and a woman open to the bringing forth of children," he said. "Our pastoral work, our Catholic schools and our Catholic social services are committed to upholding Catholic teaching on marriage."

Good for them. An immoral law is no law at all. A law that defies the rule of law in order to ensure compliance is the dictate of a tyrant. Consider this Bill C-38 just such an act, says Catholic Civil Rights League President Phil Horgan:

The Catholic Civil Rights League, in a June 29 statement, predicted a scenario of litigation, human rights complaints and challenges to charitable status, despite the passage of an amendment to the bill designed to protect religious institutions.

"The rights of marriage commissioners to refuse to perform these marriages, the rights of church organizations to control the use of their properties, the rights of parents and school teachers to address what is taught in family life programs are just some of the problems that are going to land in courts and human rights' tribunals because of this law,"

Fools in Canada are up against quite the attitude. Get a load of an Attorney General's "professionalism':

Attorney General Irwin Cotler described the vote as the culmination of a drama for equal rights that began with the 1982 institution of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

He said he sought to meet with religious leaders over the course of the debate, and trusted they would come to accept the legislation once they realize "the sky will not fall."

You see, the Reasonable in Canada say, you Fools get all upset over so little. So we have different moralities. Big deal. We'll all get along just fine.

If you keep yours to yourself.

Now, perhaps there are those Reasonable people believe I'm being unfair. Well, then maybe they should ask somebody else.

Like Bishop Henry. All he did was act like a Bishop. In other words, he would not keep "his" morality to himself. Therefore, he must face the tribunal. No one must hinder in any way the celebration by all of the One Thing that Matters. Especially a Fool like the good Bishop.

The Liberals face a conundrum. The hard left of their base will not allow them to pull back from their commitment to Bill C-38. However, 40% of the Liberal MPs and half of the country still oppose "Gay marriage". The Tories have an opportunity to wedge the Liberals. Muslim and traditionally Catholic immigrants such as the Portugese may well have reasons to abandon the Liberals come the next election. Meanwhile, AdScam still looms over the ruling party's head. With the right effort, Fools in Canada could rally enough support for the Tories to take control.

The sun has not set on the Lion yet. The Reasonable may have won this battle. The victory could cost them the war. May the Fools north of the border make it so!

I got a little carried away...

at North Western Winds. Actually, it was here. I responded with a comment a wee too long. Here's an excerpt from the commentor to whom I corresponded:

"There can be no mutual holistic act of self-giving between them"

Respectfully, I have to dismiss this outright. On what possible grounds is this statement made? If we look at mutual, and holistic, and self-giving, each one of these terms can apply to the same-sex couples that I have known personally.

One might equally say that vegetarian couples can't have a self-giving relationship, or that couples who own lawnmowers can't be "mutual".

Please understand that I think it's completely fair for you to say that SSM is outside the Church's teachings, or even the will of God, or not natural. But I do object to the illogic of employing terms such as "self-giving" when it's demonstrable that gay couples are indeed capable of such relationships.

It seems to me that THIS is the root of the cries of bigotry: when one claims that SSM is immoral, that's a fair comment, but when one claims that gay couples can't be unitive, that's easily construed as bigotry when run through the filter of logic and fairness, in my opinion.

To these concerns, I replied specifically (my responses are bold):

But I do object to the illogic of employing terms such as "self-giving" when it's demonstrable that gay couples are indeed capable of such relationships.

Ah, I see. So the very argument that rationally calls into question the morality of homosexual activity and "gay marriage"--without reference to sectarian doctrine of any kind--is the argument you object to as "illogical".
Let's try it again, then, shall we?

*People are made up of body, mind and spirit.
*People live their lives as an integrated whole of body, mind and spirit.
*A man and woman that truly love each other as themselves, or even greater than themselves, choose to unite themselves together in marriage.
*This union is therefore one of body, mind and spirit.
*The fundemental expression of this union, sexual intercourse, is therefore an expression that unites them physically, mentally and spiritually. (Note that I include the emotional under the term mental for simplicity's sake)
*Physically, the sexual act provides for the couples mutual exchange of each other's essence. They share with one another their ability to participate in the procreation of new life.
*Therefore, the sexual act in marriage expresses the unitive and procreative reality that is a marriage.
*Only men and women are capable of such integrated union that ultimately unites them to each other and opens the way for new life to enter the world.
*Thus, only a man and a woman can marry.


it seems to me that THIS is the root of the cries of bigotry:

I wondered when this inevitable accusation would come forth.

when one claims that SSM is immoral, that's a fair comment, but when one claims that gay couples can't be unitive, that's easily construed as bigotry when run through the filter of logic and fairness, in my opinion.

Your entitled to your opinion. To your concern that my argument is the "root of the cries of bigotry", I would say your concern is not with me. It's with the Fathers of Western Civilization.


My apologies to Curt. BTW if you haven't been there yet, Northwestern Winds is a fabulous blog. You're missing out.

What do you think of these?

Which of these do you prefer for the Holy Fool profile photo?

Let me know!

Spain falls to the Collective

The Reasonable in Spain have spoken. Marriage means whatever we say it means. If you don't like it, that's too bad. Be happy we let you Fools keep your heterosexual marriage legal. For now. My Way News has the story.

OK. Perhaps I wax hyperbolic about the security of traditional marriage's legality. It's place in society is certainly no longer secure. The Spanish people, as represented by their parliment, have officially begun to surf on quicksand. It's only a matter of time before their society begins to sink. Yet the celebration is all about "rights":

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero noted this in debate before the vote.

"We were not the first, but I am sure we will not be the last. After us will come many other countries, driven, ladies and gentlemen, by two unstoppable forces: freedom and equality," he told the chamber.

Zapatero said the reform of Spanish legal code simply adds one dry paragraph of legalese but means much more.

(AP) Supporters of gay marriage hug under a multi-coloured flag outside the Spanish parliament in...
Full Image
He called it "a small change in wording that means an immense change in the lives of thousands of citizens. We are not legislating, ladies and gentlemen, for remote unknown people. We are expanding opportunities for the happiness of our neighbors, our work colleagues, our friends, our relatives."

Spain now stands diametrically opposed to the American people on the issue:

The measure passed the 350-seat Congress of Deputies by a vote of 187 to 147. The bill, part of the ruling Socialists' aggressive agenda for social reform, also lets gay couples adopt children and inherit each others' property.
A survey released in May by pollster Instituto Opina said 62 percent of Spaniards support the government's action on this issue, and 30 percent oppose it. The poll had a margin of error of 3 percentage points. But surveys show Spaniards about evenly split over whether gay couples should be allowed to adopt children.

Compare these figures on the support of "gay marriage" to those of Americans:

CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll. April 29-May 1, 2005. Adults nationwide.

"Do you think marriages between homosexuals should or should not be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages?" N=492, MoE ± 5 (Form A)

%ShouldBe Valid %ShouldNot Be %Unsure
4/29 - 5/1/05 39 56 5
3/18-20/05 28 68 4
7/19-21/04 32 62 6
3/5-7/04 33 61 6
2/16-17/04 32 64 4
2/6-8/04 36 59 5
12/03 31 65 4
10/03 35 61 4
6/03 39 55 6
1/00 34 62 4
2/99 35 62 3
3/96 27 68 5

Yes, the approval in the US for "gay marriage" trends up. Even so, a clear majority of Americans oppose "gay marriage". Compare that to the clear majority of Spanish voters that "support the government's action" to legalize "gay marriage."

Europe has succumbed to secularization. Perhaps it will recover its religious sensibility. Until it does, more measures like those passed by Spain will march through the halls of European parliments. More of them will pass. The Dictatorship of Relativism continues to reign. The gay collective assimilates without hinderance. Resistance is futile.

Or is it? a majority of Americans still oppose the collectivists. Many in Christian and muslim Africa and Asia stand against them as well. Fools abound everywhere. Listen for their laughter. It may soon send shivers up the spines of those Reasonable people that continue to march off the cliff for others "rights". Even in Massachussets, the only state in the Union to permit gay marriage--and that one by judicial fiat, at least in the beginning, Fifty percent of state residents oppose "gay marriage".

There's hope that common sense will soon reign again even in the midst of this all-to-common nonsense that characterizes our age. Hope lay unrecognized when Mary held the corpse of her son. These times could be every Fool's Golgotha. That's good news. Remember what happened after Golgotha circa 2000+ years ago? Chesterton once observed that Christ's Church had the peculier and inconvenient (at least to secular progressivists) habit of continually rising from the dead. Everytime the powers that be dropped the last dirt on her tomb, she burst forth young and vibrant once again.

This is the springtime of the new evangelization. It's time to climb some rooftops. There's shouting to do!

Take the Survey!

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

You won't regret it.

OpinionJournal's Peggy Noonan says, "A plague on all your houses!"

"What's wrong with them?" That's how she begins. Who's them? Everybody. In Washington, that is. Guess how she ends. "What is wrong with them?" Get the story here. Hat tip to Michael from Southern Appeal. So what problem does Ms. Noonan have with our great leaders? This one:

In normal America if you have a high character you don't wrestle people to the ground until they acknowledge it. You certainly don't announce it. If you are compassionate, you are compassionate; if others see it, fine. If you hold to principle it will become clear. You don't proclaim these things. You can't, for the same reason that to brag about your modesty is to undercut the truth of the claim.
How exactly does it work? How does legitimate self-confidence become wildly inflated self-regard? How does self respect become unblinking conceit? How exactly does one's character become destabilized in Washington?

I honestly have no answer for her. I've never lived or worked in Washington. The only elected office I can recall holding, outside of the boy scouts and TAU Alpha Upsilon Fraternity, was as a board member of the Coop in which I used to live. I can't recall any spikes in egos or unnecessary needs to prove my character.

Perhaps Washington has finally caught that wonderful distillation of popular culture known as the Oprah factor. I speak of the self-help culture that originated in the legitimate Twelve Steps of AA and Al-anon. The one that then mutated into the most bizzare and relativistic self-congratulation-as-modesty behaviorism you'll ever see. Courtesy of Oprah. Her television show provided the forum necessary for the myriad "12-steppers" that came out of the dysfunctional woodwork to achieve mass popularity. She effectively made it OK to air your dirty laundry and congratulate yourself on whatever virtues you happened to have after your survival.

It's only a working theory, however. I'm open to suggestions. Besides, it's real late here in NY at this hour. What do you think?

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Contemplating the Laundry reminds us of what really matters

Jordan of Contemplating the Laundry has the conclusion of this Christianity Today editorial. The money quote:

'Christians' first political responsibility is to be the church, and by being the church they should understand that their first political loyalty is to God, and the God we worship as Christians, in a manner that understands that we are not first and foremost about making democracy work, but about the truthful worship of the true God.'

Christians are here to bring Christ to the world. We do this through our participation in his life here and now, which subsists in his Body, the Church. We pray, participate in his sacraments and serve our neighbors. Thus, we share Christ's presence with the world one relationship at a time.

Any social order and polity that facilitates this is the platform for which we stand. Any that impede this we must oppose. Thus, our loyalty to any form or substance of politics is only as a means to implementing our devotion to our true Sovereign. That may be difficult for some of us to hear. Life is difficult. So is Living in Truth and Love. However, when we place our trust in the Lord, then we find that such a difficult life is truly an easy yoke and a light burden. Compared to the slavery to sin that we have been freed from, such lifting of our Cross to follow him is privilidge.

Even as I say this, I sense my own concupescience roar within me. I feel temptation's seductive carass. But I know where temptation has led me before. I know, too, that my sins continue to be legion, but that in Christ I am forgiven and made whole and holy. Thus, I do not need to live as though this moment were all I had. I do not need to acquire whatever pride, power or pleasure the darkness that passes for our culture demands that I pursue. I am free to follow the King. If I chose.

It is a choice all face. May all of us make the wise one.

Behold! Men arise in the west! They are Foolish Episcopals!

Alleluia! The Catholic Bishops of Oregon take a stand for marriage. The Catholic Sentinel has the story Behold:

Amendments meant to be friendly to churches have not won support from the Oregon Catholic Conference for a bill legalizing civil unions and protecting homosexuals from discrimination.

A panel in the Oregon Senate last week revived a version of Senate Bill 1000, which was expected to win approval on the Senate floor at press time.

But the proposal, which would create a parallel to marriage for homosexuals, is not expected to pass in the House. There, a competing bill supported by the state’s Catholic bishops would OK reciprocal beneficiaries, a more limited legal relationship that would allow benefits of survivorship, health decisions and other areas for any pair, including same-sex couples.

Marriage between a man and a woman is best for society, especially children, the state’s bishops said in an April letter on the issue. Oregon voters last year approved a law limiting marriage to one man and one woman.

They have struck the wolves. The sheep remain unmolested. For now. May the Holy Spirit stir up the resolve of all Bishops of the West. May their defense of Christ's teaching on the integrity of Marriage and the family stand before every outrageous attack the Reasonable launch. It's good to know that these Bishops can be such Fools!

Thoughts from the Right on Robert P. George on the Beginning of Human Life

Mr. George continues to preach the word. This time he's interviewed by Katherine Jean Lopez of NRO. Thoughts from the Right has the story here. He has concerns about the current national dialogue regarding ESCR. His principle question: Why doesn't Mario Cuomo want to stanBut I would have thought that Mario Cuomo would want to stand with those of us who affirm the inherent and equal dignity of every member of the human family. Surely he would wish to uphold against the Singers of the world Jefferson's "self-evident" proposition that all human beings are created equal with those that support the self-evident truth that all people, of whatever stage of development, deserve the right to live? Here's an excerpt:

NRO: Is he just ignoring reality ?

George: Yes. In dodging the moral argument against embryo killing, he
[Mario Cuomo] is ignoring the basic facts of human embryology and developmental biology. There is no mystery about when the life of a new human individual begins. It is not a matter of subjective opinion or private religious belief. One finds the answer not by consulting one's viscera or searching through the Bible or the Koran; one finds it, rather, in the basic texts of the relevant scientific disciplines. Those texts are clear. Although none of us was ever a sperm cell or an ovum, each of us was, at an earlier stage of development, an embryo, just as each of us was an adolescent, a child, an infant, and a fetus. Each of us, by directing his own integral organic functioning, developed himself (sex is determined from the beginning) from the embryonic, into and through the fetal, infant, child, and adolescent stages, and into adulthood with his unity and determinateness intact. One's identity as a human being does not vary with or depend upon one's location, environment, age, size, stage of development, or condition of dependency.
But I would have thought that Mario Cuomo would want to stand with those of us who affirm the inherent and equal dignity of every member of the human family. Surely he would wish to uphold against the Singers of the world Jefferson's "self-evident" proposition that all human beings are created equal.

Mr. George answers his own question, of course. If Mario Cuomo made that stand, where could he run for cover to justify his position on abortion? There would be no philosophical escape route. His party will never allow any compromise on the "right" to abortion. One does not dilute the Sacrament to Moloch. Therefore, he hides. He hides from scientific and ethical truth. He hides from the doctrine of his own Roman Catholic Church. He hides in the rationalization that so many of his Catholic democratic compatriots utter: "I'm personally opposed, but I can't impose my morality on others." Funny, I always thought that morality belonged to everyone. I thought there was one morality. Some may have a more full understanding of morality than others, just as some have a more full apprehension of truth than others. But there's no such thing as "my truth" or "your truth." There's no personal morality. I suspect that Mr. Cuomo knows this. Still, a good soundbite is a good soundbite.

Thus have the Reasonable vitriated reason, so that only the Fools can still practice it in its authentic form. Mr. Cuomo has become such a sad characterture of himself. He would do everyone, Reasonable and Foolish alike, a great service if he just went quietly into the night. I wouldn't bet a sip of guiness that he will.

Episcopal Foolableness in the West

In canada, Prime Minister Paul Martin wants to have his cake and eat it to. He's pushed Canada's "gay marriage" bill successfully through parliment. He also wants everyone to know what a "faithful" Catholic he is. The trouble is that his bishop, Ottawa Archbishop Marcel Gervais, appears to agree with him. Lifesite news has the story.

Behold the tragically typical pastoral approach taken by too many Western Bishops: pointed out that "Prior to this incident the media has often referred to Mr. Martin as a 'devout Catholic' which Bishop Henry told his flock required correction. He explained further that "However, this incident goes further in that it is Mr. Martin himself claiming to be a 'very strong Catholic' while at the same time pressing for gay marriage."'s request for comment from Gervais ended by noting "This is giving a very confusing message to Catholics and worse for non-Catholics in Canada and the world who are misled in their beliefs about Catholicism and the Catholic Church."

Archbishop Marcel GervaisIn response, Gilles Ouellette the Director of Communications for Archbishop Gervais wrote, "The Archbishop has asked me to inform you that his position on this topic remains unchanged and that he stands by his previous comments on the issue."

Those previous comments sent to via Mr. Ouellete on March 23, 2005 had the Archbishop saying about the Prime Minister "To me he is also a faithful member of my cathedral parish." The Archbishop's comments concluded, "While I do not agree either with his argument or his conclusion on same sex marriage, I do not think, at this time, his position merits refusing him communion."

Contrast Archbishop Gervais' shameful enabling of Mr. Matin's dis-membering of Christ with these Bishops' bold and prophetic calling out of Mr. Mugabe's violations of Catholic Social Teaching:

Now, almost four weeks after the event, countless numbers of men, women with babies, children of school age, the old and the sick, continue to sleep in the open air at winter temperatures near to freezing. These people urgently need shelter, food, clothing, medicines, etc. Any claim to justify this operation in view of a desired orderly end becomes totally groundless in view of the cruel and inhumane means that have been used. People have a right to shelter and that has been deliberately destroyed in this operation without much warning. While we all desire orderliness, alternative accommodation and sources of income should have been identified and provided before the demolitions and stoppage of informal trading. We condemn the gross injustice done to the poor.

Sometimes the best pastoral approach is complete and blunt honesty. Mr. Mugabe abuses Christ's body to the point of gravely imperiling his own soul. He brings untold amounts of suffering and societal destruction on his own countrymen. Could any less than a bold proclaimation of his condemnable behavior suffice? While Mr. Martin has not actively ravaged his people in the same way, he has certainly sown the seeds of his country's destruction. His policies enable many people to remain in a state of grave sin. His support of "gay marriage" mocks Catholic teaching on the sanctity of marriage, which itself supports the cellular level of all society, the family. He can't claim that he is following Christ when Christ's voice on earth, the magisterium and deposit of Faith held by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, has condemned what he praises. Archbishop amy believe he is acting in the spirit of Christian compassion by not challenging Mr. Martin. What he's doing is ensuring the Prime Minister's spiritual ruin and aiding Canada's destruction.

Only in Christ are Christians truly a force that can evangelize the world. Only in Christ do all receive the salvation that restores them to Truth and Love. When Christians break from Christ, they can't pretend to be a part of him and still expect to fulfill his mission. We Catholics depend on our shepards in the Episcopacy and the Presbyterium to remind us when we have strained or broken our relationship with our savior. We deserve their honesty, not pastorally correct nicieties. Christ, the world and ourselves deserve better than that.

J. Grant Swank, Jr. smells Foolables

Christian Churches together won't say what they believe. That's why J. Grant Swank, Jr. smells something. It's something with the same aroma as the World Council of Churches. It's the Same Old Thing. That's what he says in this column for MichNews. Note what he sees and what he doesn't hear:

"U.S. Christians Nearing a New Unity" was the headline. I searched the report for a theological underpinning to the venture; but there was none.

Until the group pronounces publicly for all believers to read that doctrinal base upon which it proposes to rest, there will be legitimate suspicions as to what this group is all about.

The World Council of Churches for years has lost out to the biblically moored because of diluting its theological base. If that occurs again with this new group, it’s bound to falter just as the WCC has faltered.

The report states that nothing is finalized within the group unless all representatives agree on it.

Does that mean that all representatives agree on the divinity of Jesus, the Bible as divine revelation without question, the existence of both heaven and hell, salvation through Jesus Christ’s atonement on Calvary, the need for each individual to experience a personal commitment to Christ as Redeemer, and so forth?

It is hoped that this new group is grounded upon a genuinely solid biblical understanding; otherwise, evangelical Protestants and devout Catholics and traditional Orthodox adherents will not think of becoming a part of still another ecumenical group that lauds social service while ignoring the biblical, divinely inspired mandate.

Mother Theresa holds a certain pride of place in the hearts of many Catholics. She was called a living Saint since at least 1981, when I first heard my fifth grade teacher call her one. One sees her and sees care for the poor, unless one is either a raving lune or Chris Hutchinson. How did she find the strength to care for the poor, sick and dying in one of the most impoverished cities on Earth?

She would say it's simple: She picked up the Cross Christ gave her and followed him. To respond in such faith, she needed a strong commitment to her Catholic Faith. She had it, and then some. Her obedience and loyalty the the magisterium, in particular to Pope John Paul the Great, differentiated her from so many others that commit to social justice. She once remarked that the fruit of abortion is nuclear war. She has also said that the greatest sadness she's known comes from seeing people receive the Eucharist in her hand. Few would challenge the orthodoxy of her faith!

Authentic living comes from authentic being. Action follows belief. The mind guides the body. Orthopraxy follows orthodoxy. If one does not have a relationship with Christ, one will fail to live as his witness. If one does not believe the Word and Tradition that ultimately comes from God through the Church, then one fails to have a relationship with him. The World Council of Churches has lost touch with the cornerstones of its relationship with Christ. It's small wonder that the faithful show a reluctance to support them. Until those that would seek social justice first emmerse themselves in personal mercy, they shall be clanging symbols and noisy gongs. They'll make plenty of noise but will ultimately change no hearts. They will bear lean fruit indeed.

Likewise, those that dwell only on belieft and knowledge of the Teachings of the Church, but fail to act on their blessed enlightenment, put themselves apart from God. Christ emptied himself so that he could live and die as one of us. Through his participation in our lives, we are saved. thus, through participation in his life do we live our salvation to the full. He has told us himself that when we help the most margenalized and needy, we help him. He has mysteriously identified himself with the poor and helpless from the beginning. Born of poor parents in a provincial backwater, Christ grew up with "no place to lay his head." He remained poor all his earthly life. Women and other disciples paid for his needs. This same Christ invites us to show Mercy on the poor, as he showed mercy on us when we needed it. Can we expect to live in the fullness of life in him if we don't follow his example and show mercy to another? Othopraxy must follow orthodoxy, or else it is no orthodoxy, but some pious illusion that covers for our own complacency.

Perhaps when ecumenical organizations demonstrate a clear commitment to orthodoxy and orthopraxy they will earn the loyalty of traditional Christians that they desire. Until they do, Christians will regard them with the suspicion they deserve.

A Blogstorm on the President's Iraq speech yesterday

Everyone's got an opinion! Read the speech here. There's loads of responses to it here. There's nothing profoundly novel in the President's exposition, as far as I can tell. He focuses on the reality of Iraq today, it's connection to US security Vis a vis the war on terror, and the consequences of Victory. And Defeat. Here's a sampler:

Our mission in Iraq is clear. We're hunting down the terrorists. We're helping Iraqis build a free nation that is an ally in the war on terror. We're advancing freedom in the broader Middle East. We are removing a source of violence and instability, and laying the foundation of peace for our children and our grandchildren.

The work in Iraq is difficult and it is dangerous. Like most Americans, I see the images of violence and bloodshed. Every picture is horrifying, and the suffering is real. Amid all this violence, I know Americans ask the question: Is the sacrifice worth it? It is worth it, and it is vital to the future security of our country. And tonight I will explain the reasons why.

Some of the violence you see in Iraq is being carried out by ruthless killers who are converging on Iraq to fight the advance of peace and freedom. Our military reports that we have killed or captured hundreds of foreign fighters in Iraq who have come from Saudi Arabia and Syria, Iran, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and others. They are making common cause with criminal elements, Iraqi insurgents, and remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime who want to restore the old order. They fight because they know that the survival of their hateful ideology is at stake. They know that as freedom takes root in Iraq, it will inspire millions across the Middle East to claim their liberty, as well. And when the Middle East grows in democracy and prosperity and hope, the terrorists will lose their sponsors, lose their recruits, and lose their hopes for turning that region into a base for attacks on America and our allies around the world.

President George W. Bush greets soldiers after delivering remarks on the war on terror at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Tuesday, June 28, 2005. White House photo by Eric DraperSome wonder whether Iraq is a central front in the war on terror. Among the terrorists, there is no debate. Hear the words of Osama Bin Laden: "This Third World War is raging" in Iraq. "The whole world is watching this war." He says it will end in "victory and glory, or misery and humiliation."
We see the nature of the enemy in terrorists who exploded car bombs along a busy shopping street in Baghdad, including one outside a mosque. We see the nature of the enemy in terrorists who sent a suicide bomber to a teaching hospital in Mosul. We see the nature of the enemy in terrorists who behead civilian hostages and broadcast their atrocities for the world to see.

These are savage acts of violence, but they have not brought the terrorists any closer to achieving their strategic objectives. The terrorists -- both foreign and Iraqi -- failed to stop the transfer of sovereignty. They failed to break our Coalition and force a mass withdrawal by our allies. They failed to incite an Iraqi civil war. They failed to prevent free elections. They failed to stop the formation of a democratic Iraqi government that represents all of Iraq's diverse population. And they failed to stop Iraqis from signing up in large number with the police forces and the army to defend their new democracy.

The lesson of this experience is clear: The terrorists can kill the innocent, but they cannot stop the advance of freedom. The only way our enemies can succeed is if we forget the lessons of September the 11th, if we abandon the Iraqi people to men like Zarqawi, and if we yield the future of the Middle East to men like Bin Laden. For the sake of our nation's security, this will not happen on my watch.
America and our friends are in a conflict that demands much of us. It demands the courage of our fighting men and women, it demands the steadfastness of our allies, and it demands the perseverance of our citizens. We accept these burdens, because we know what is at stake. We fight today because Iraq now carries the hope of freedom in a vital region of the world, and the rise of democracy will be the ultimate triumph over radicalism and terror. And we fight today because terrorists want to attack our country and kill our citizens, and Iraq is where they are making their stand. So we'll fight them there, we'll fight them across the world, and we will stay in the fight until the fight is won.

The President makes clear what every rational person should understand: This is no longer about WMDs or Saddam Hussein. This is not about oil or empire. This is not about Corporate welfare or oil company buddies. Iraq is a country that struggles in labor to give birth to a free society. Terrorists such as Al Zarqawi and Osama Bin Laden have chosen to confront the US here. Why? Their campaigns of terror have not succeeded in the past because of these men's stupidity. Why would they risk the resources of their organization on Iraq if they did not see it as critical to their triumph?

Iraq can become a model Arab democracy. It's presence will shatter the myth that the Great Satan oppresses all true believers. The Arab Street already wonders why they can't enjoy some of the freedoms that Iraqis begin to enjoy. The Lebonese drove Syria out of their country. Saudi Arabia, of all places, contemplates implementing municipal elections! Other dictatorships in the Middle East shudder because they know they can't hope to prevent their own people from seeking democracy if Iraq succeeds. The terrorists know that a fully functional Arab Democracy completely undermines their cause. No one will become suicide bombers if they live in a society that offers hope for a fulfilling life. Al Q'aida and it's ilk must defeat the Great Satan in Iraq or else there will be no ressurection of the Caliphate.

If the United States cuts and runs, The butchers behind 9/11 win a major victory. America will lose all credibility in the region. The dictatorships will tighten their iron grip and give disgruntled people no way out except the Wahabists' Jihad. Al Quaeda will swell with recruits. Homicide bombers will soon unleash calamity on the American Homeland. And why not? They already took down the Twin Towers and drove the infidel from Middle East. Who will stop them from beheading the Great Satan?

Besides self-preservation, there is the question of honor. President George H.W. Bush once called on the Shia to rise up against Saddam Hussein. They did so in the waning days of the Persian Gulf War. They believed that the Americans would support them since the Iraqi army had fled Kuwait. They were wrong. Some American commanders watched in shame as the remnant of Hussein's Republican Guard shattered the southern resistance. The United States has already betrayed the Iraqi people once. She can't afford to do it again.

People of good will can honestly ask if there are still "serious prospects for success" for the United States in Iraq. They can't say that the US has no business being there. The Iraqis and the terrorists have made it clear just how much business the world's last Super-Power has there.

The Reasonable take Canada

and the Gay Collective marches on! BBC NEWS reports that Canada's parliment has approved a bill that would legalize "gay marriages". Thus, Western Civilization continues to surf on quicksand. Details from this trainwreck:

The legislation that will allow gay marriage nationwide was drafted by Prime Minister Paul Martin's Liberal minority government.
The issue split the Liberal party, with the Cabinet minister for economic development in Ontario, Joe Comuzzi, resigning over the bill on Tuesday.

But supported by most members of the Liberals, the Bloc Quebecois and other allies, the legislation passed easily.

"We are a nation of minorities and in a nation of minorities, it is important that you don't cherry pick rights. A right is a right and that is what this vote tonight is all about," Mr Martin said before the vote.

The national co-ordinator of Canadians for Equal Marriage, Alex Munter, had said the bill's approval would be "a victory for Canadian values".

"I think this is going to be a proud and exciting day to be a Canadian because we are... affirming to the world that we are a country that is open, inclusive and welcoming," he said.

Marriage has been abolished in Canada. Instead of a union between a man and a woman--embodied souls whose complementarity form a union of life and love in which life comes forth. Marriage is now a legal contract between two consenting persons, whose idea of self disavows and dis-integrates his bodies. Once this tumor of denial settles into the culture of the Canadian public, watch divorces sky-rocket and co-habitation jump through the roof. If it isn't happening already, it will.

Can a society founded on such erratic social behavior survive?

Once again, the Reasonable have seen "rights" in the illusion of personhood to which many of them prescribe. Reality denies their speculation, but reality doesn't matter. The Law has established rights, thus, rights will be enforced.

Northwestern Winds has some interesting thoughts on the current affair. He observes:

We bloggers forget that we are NOT representative of the population at large far too often. As Intelligentsia, we are far more prone to give in to various forms of gnosticism, divorcing ideas from the logistic considerations that normally drive people who spend their time working with things. Most of these people don't blog; but they might be persuaded to vote. This is about as settled as abortion, which 30 years on, is still contentious - as bad policy and bad law should be.

He's exactly right. Those politically liberal and libertarian pundits--North and South of the Canadian Border--that keep urging the Tories to "get over it" aren't paying attention to the people. The People are paying attention to their common sense. And common sense sees a big problem with "gay marriage". That's why the Fools may have the last laugh on this issue. With 40% of the Canadian Liberal party balking at the bill, and slightly over 50% against it, Paul Martin and his crew have an uphill battle when they face the eventual election. Canada still has a chance to pull herself out of the Reasonable quicksand. May all Fools pray that she does.

from BBC NEWS | Europe | EU stands by Turkish entry talks

BBC NEWS covers the latest developments in Turkey's bid for EU membership. Even as founding EU member France votes down the constitution, the Brussels Oligarch's push the inclusion of Turkey. Of course, no one appears to be in a hurry. Plus, future governments in France and Germany could vote no. As it stands, however, the march continues:

The European Commission says talks on Turkey's membership of the EU should start on time on 3 October with accession as a "shared objective".

The recommendation is made in a proposed framework for the talks, which member states must approve unanimously.

The commission says the talks should be open-ended, and that Turkey will not be able to join until 2014 at the soonest.

Its proposal comes as enthusiasm for enlargement wanes in the wake of French and Dutch votes on the constitution.

Meanwhile, the spin begins:

Despite the cooling of attitudes towards enlargement since the French and Dutch referendums, a Eurobarometer study published this week suggested that the issue had not been a major factor behind voters' rejection of the constitution.

The poll said only 6% of Dutch voters and 3% of French voters gave enlargement as the reason for their "No" vote.

I'd love to see the poll questions. Considering the murder of the Dutch Filmaker by an alleged Muslim fanatic, I doubt only 6% of Dutch voters renounced the Constitution over the EU's enlargement policy. In fact, if the question honestly addressed Turkey in particular, I'd bet a year's supply of Guiness that the number of Dutch no-voters jumps.

But this is Europe. The Reasonable have spoken. Move on, people. There's nothing to see here.

El Cid meets Ralph Reed

The Catholic Church in Spain refuses to die. Like it's troublesome founder, the Church rises from the death of irrelevancy. Controversy ensues. Especially within the Roman Catholic Church of SpainJohn Allen ("The Word from Rome") of the National Catholic Reporter has this close-up. Spain under the socialists has clearly tilted hard to the left. Spanish Catholics faithful to the magisterium have clearly been frustrated by Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero's seeming contempt for Tradition. The well-reported rally in opposition to Spain's Gay "Marriage" bill clearly delivers the message that Catholics will not roll over on the issue. The trouble for many Spanish Catholics, though, is whether such apparently partisan efforts will disrupt the unity of Catholics. The memory of Franco's national Catholicism still lingers among older Spanish citizens. Some may fear that an aggressive and political Catholic Church may remind too many Spaniards of those dark days. That could ultimately cause the Church's public efforts to backfire. Mr. Allen discusses the complexities right out of the gate:

In the highly polarized context of Spanish politics, strong rhetoric is par for the course. Even by that standard, however, the church-state clash that has gripped the country for more than a year has been nasty. Catholics angered by what they see as a Socialist onslaught in favor of gay marriage, divorce and other hot-button issues have accused the leftist government of seeking the “destruction of the church”; not to be outdone, the left has accused the church of never getting over its nostalgia for Franco and Spain’s version of a Fascist police state.

Since necessity is sometimes the mother of invention, observers across the Catholic world have been waiting to see if this crisis might stimulate Spanish Catholics to invent a new model of resistance -- a new battle plan, so to speak, for the struggle against what Pope Benedict XVI has called a “dictatorship of relativism” in the secular West.

That model made its debut on the streets of Madrid June 18 -- and to judge from the experience, it was as if El Cid had hired Ralph Reed.

On Saturday, throngs of Spaniards (organizers claimed 1.5 million, Spanish police said 166,000, and most estimates settled on around 500,000), along with 19 bishops, showed up in Madrid to demonstrate in favor of the family, and against a new gay marriage law. The most galvanized participants seemed to blend a robust, uncompromising defense of their country’s Catholic roots, in the manner of the legendary crusader El Cid, with the grassroots political savvy of America’s religious right, associated with former Christian Coalition strategist Ralph Reed.
At a glance
Nowhere are the culture wars hotter than in Spain, where the ruling Socialists are pursuing an ambitious program on gay marriage, divorce, euthanasia and other issues. Catholics are fighting back, and brought a half million people into the streets of Madrid June 18. Some Spanish Catholics believe this campaign, with parallels to the American religious right, is too partisan and divisive. The debate will have broader implications for the political role of the church under Benedict XVI.

In Rome, there’s keen interest in Spain, in part because Vatican officials worry that the Italian left may come to power in looming national elections and, to some extent, take their cues from their Spanish cousins; in part because Spain is key to Pope Benedict’s desire to reawaken the Christian roots of Europe; and in part because Spain is an important point of reference for Latin America, where almost half of the 1.1 billion Catholics in the world today live.

What is coming into focus in Spain may therefore hint at the broader political and cultural strategy of the Catholic church under Benedict XVI, and the tensions inside and outside the church that strategy might generate.
Some Catholics, however, including a portion of the country’s bishops, weren’t so thrilled with this kind of counterattack. To them, the muscular Catholicism on display June 18 seemed excessive -- too partisan, too confrontational, too reminiscent of the not-so-distant days of the Civil War, when church-state disputes in Spain often ended in blood.

The result is division among Spanish Catholics about the best way to defend the church’s message on life, the family and marriage. How that division is resolved, and the lessons learned from it, could have implications for Roman Catholicism everywhere.

He then makes a fair summary of the issues that the Spanish Church faces:

The Spanish experience thus throws several hard questions into relief:

* How to influence public affairs without becoming identified with a partisan political option, thereby alienating broad sectors of public opinion and aggravating divisions within the church.
* How to construct a comprehensive pro-family movement that would be as articulate about health care and housing as it is about gay marriage.
* How to ensure that street protests and political debate do not distract the church from evangelizing society from the bottom up -- since, among other things, political programs that don’t reflect a genuine social consensus seem destined to fail.

The Spanish scenario raises questions for the Church's engagement of Europe. Small wonder that the Vatican supports the rallies and the general approach of the groups that organized it. In the highly socialist world of Western Europe, there can be little effective evangelization of the culture without a corresponding prophetic cry to the Elite powers that govern the Nation-states. Not to mention Brussels! There's certainly the risk that the Catholic Church may inadvertantly initiate a backlash. What, however, are the long-term consequences of such boldness? Mass attendance is at record lows. Aside from the Italian referendum on IVF, etc. the Church had a terrible losing streak in European politics. True, state subsidies could go under attack. This pales in comparison to the consequences that will happen should the Church do nothing.

Catholicism is irrelevent to many elites. This attitude has filtered down to the average blokes over the last twenty-forty years. One of my brothers-in -law in Portugal attends Mass. The rest don't bother themselves, including my youngest nephews over there. They are the norm of Portugal, and Portugal is the norm of Western Europe. The Church needs to shake things up. She needs to convince Europeans that only the Gospel will satisfy the yearning of their hearts. They must demonstrate how relevent a person's relationship with Christ through his Body on Earth truly is. She must stand for those laws and policies that support the Truth about human dignity and the Common Good. She must boldly oppose those that don't.

If the Church fails to evangelize, then why should Europeans bother to change? If the Church comes off as not seeming to care about the Gospel, why should they? If the Church is to evangelize, then it must do so culturally and politically. If She fails to do either, she fails to do both.

This is certainly not the hierarchy's fight alone. In fact, evangelization of the world falls to the Laity. However, Catholics in Europe that want to work at turning back the tide need to know they're not alone. The encouragement, support and, where appropriate, leadership of bishops and priests will ensure that the laity evangelize with confidence. The Church in Italy and Spain have modelled how this can be done. The rest of Europe's Catholics should follow.

Poetic Justice

That's all there is to it! Thoughts from the Right asks the question: Justice Souter to Lose Home Because of Kelo? Behold (via one of his links):

Could a hotel be built on the land owned by Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter? A new ruling by the Supreme Court which was supported by Justice Souter himself itself might allow it. A private developer is seeking to use this very law to build a hotel on Souter's land.

Justice Souter's vote in the "Kelo vs. City of New London" decision allows city governments to take land from one private owner and give it to another if the government will generate greater tax revenue or other economic benefits when the land is developed by the new owner.

On Monday June 27, Logan Darrow Clements, faxed a request to Chip Meany the code enforcement officer of the Towne of Weare, New Hampshire seeking to start the application process to build a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road. This is the present location of Mr. Souter's home.

Clements, CEO of Freestar Media, LLC, points out that the City of Weare will certainly gain greater tax revenue and economic benefits with a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road than allowing Mr. Souter to own the land.

Oh, how priceless! There better be plenty of pictures of his face when the wrecking crew comes. Somebody bring popcorn!

UPDATE: The Reid Report has more interesting stories of Eminent Doman abuse. Among them:

In case you think it couldn't happen to you... The Institute for Justice, has documented more than 10,000 instances of government taking property from one person to give it to another in just the last five years. In Lakewood, Ohio they've even gone so far as to redefining the word "blighted." A home their can be considered blighted if it doesn't have the following: three bedrooms, two baths, an attached two-car garage and central air.

And for all you Marlin fans, you might want to start routing for Tampa Bay:

The county has said it may need to take as many as 50 homes near the site to build the ballpark under its power of eminent domain -- a government's authority to force a sale of property when it will use it for a public purpose.

Just look at the benefit to the community, though. This new stadium will do for Miami-Dade County what Yankee Stadium has done for the Bronx!

Justice Souter can be proud to know that his decision has helped so many. Including himself. Surely his community will benefit from the increased tax revenue of the Hotel. The sacrifice of his home is a small price to pay for progress. I'm sure he understands!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Hat tip to (CCL)Chris Wittwer for the Photo. Courtesy of Open Photo.

As of Tuesday, June 28, 2005, I am a free man! My school year is finished and I am on vacation until Tuesday, September 6, 2005.

Now, what does this mean for the Blog? It means I have LOADS of time to post! Barring a few days here or there, plus some professional development and curriculum design--I won't bore you with the details--I'm home all summer!

BTW I was excused with the thanks of the court last Friday. Jury duty is done! Soon as the jury returns a verdict, I'll tell you the sorid tale!

Y'all ready for this? I know I am. Let's blow the bandwidth off!

The Dafur Tragedy Continues

The world has forgotten the victims of genocide again. More than Fifty years after the horror of the Shoa, which provoked the cry heard round the world "never again!", refugees of the latest unchallenged genocide crowd in camps. Catholic News Service has this STORY: "Darfur's 2 million refugees languish in camps over security issues" At the heart of the article is the great irony that is the Sudanese Government:

The United Nations says at least 180,000 have been killed in the conflict in Darfur. Some 2 million residents of Darfur have been chased from their homes in a scorched-earth campaign that many have characterized as genocide.

International officials in Sudan report that, in an effort to get people out of the overcrowded camps, the government is paying families and providing transportation so that they may return to their villages. Yet many of the villages are nothing but ashes following two years of attacks by Arab militias aligned with government troops.

The government pays some refugees to go home? After allying with the very Arab militias that made these poor people refugees? What? Are they still trying to finish the job?

Bjorg Mide, director of ACT/Caritas Darfur Emergency Response, observes the obvious:

"The international community would like people to go home," Mide told Catholic News Service.

"If you really want the displaced to live a life of dignity, you don't want them to remain in the camps, where all they have is the bare minimum," he said. "By the end of the current rainy season we're going to have a lot of sick people, especially children with respiratory diseases. People need to go home to start rebuilding their lives. But they can't go home without security.

"The displaced need complete information beforehand, and they must be given the choice of whether they're going to return or not," said Mide. "We understand that the government wants people to go back home and rebuild their lives, and we appreciate that it is providing money and support, but the displaced are going back to nothing."

If Khartoum is serious about resettling refugees, It had better do more than provide more than just "money and support". It had better deploy the army to completely expel any militias from the afflicted areas. African Troops serving as peacekeeper can act as international observers of this campaign. Next, they had better fully revitalize the areas that the militias razed to the ground. In fact, the government had better improve the conditions of those villages so that refugees have an incentive to leave camps. Finally, Khartoum must accept the presence of international observers; periodic human rights inspections throughout the Darfur region by the International Red Cross/Red Cresent, UN human rights agencies and others; as well as continued African Union and UN peacekeepers (preferably ones that won't rape 14-year-old girls). Nothing less than a radical change of policy will convince anyone, least of all the refugees, that Sudan has ended the genocide that it began.

Secularism Has a Problem Reasonably Proving Itself

Curt at Northwestern Winds links to this First Things Article, "A Clash of Orthodoxies," by Robert P. George. He proves that Christian orthodoxy, as well as jewish, certain islamic and classical philosophical traditions outreason what he calls Orthodox Secularism. The irony is that Orthodox Secularism has claimed that religion in general, and Christianity in particular, only support moral positions from "Divine command", or religious revelation. Since not everyone believes the claims of any particular religion, no policies or ideology based on these claims must ever reach the Public Square. It's simply to unreasonable. Mr. George demonstrates that this is not the case. On the contrary, Christianity--and certain other religions--appeal to reason and draw conclusions accessible to any person that can think rationally. He then illustrates the intellectual poverty of Orthodox Secularism:

Secularists would have us believe that, apart from revelation, we have no reason to affirm the intrinsic goodness and moral inviolability of human life. That simply isn’t true. In fact, the secularist proposition that bodily life is merely instrumentally good entails a metaphysical dualism of the person and the body that is rationally untenable.

Implicit in the view that human life is merely instrumentally and not intrinsically valuable is a particular understanding of the human person as an essentially non–bodily being who inhabits a nonpersonal body. According to this understanding—which contrasts with the Judeo–Christian view of the human person as a dynamic unity of body, mind, and spirit—the "person" is the conscious and desiring "self" as distinct from the body which may exist (as in the case of pre– and post–conscious human beings) as a merely "biological," and, thus, sub–personal, reality.{2} But the dualistic view of the human person makes nonsense of the experience all of us have in our activities of being dynamically unified actors—of being, that is, embodied persons and not persons who merely "inhabit" our bodies and direct them as extrinsic instruments under our control, like automobiles. We don’t sit in the physical body and direct it as an instrument, the way we sit in a car and make it go left or right.

This experience of unity of body, mind, and spirit is itself no mere illusion. Philosophical arguments have undermined any theory that purports to demonstrate that the human being is, in fact, two distinct realities, namely, a "person" and a (sub–personal) body. Any such theory will, unavoidably, contradict its own starting point, since reflection necessarily begins from one’s own conscious awareness of oneself as a unitary actor. So the defender of dualism, in the end, will never be able to identify the "I" who undertakes the project of reflection. He will simply be unable to settle whether the "I" is the conscious and desiring aspect of the "self," or the "mere living body." If he seeks to identify the "I" with the former, then he separates himself inexplicably from the living human organism that is recognized by others (and, indeed, by himself) as the reality whose behavior (thinking, questioning, asserting, etc.) constitutes the philosophical enterprise in question. And if, instead, he identifies the "I" with that "mere living body," then he leaves no role for the conscious and desiring aspect of the "self" which, on the dualistic account, is truly the "person." As a recent treatment of the subject sums up the matter: "Person" (as understood in dualistic theories) and "mere living body" are "constructs neither of which refers to the unified self who had set out to explain his or her own reality; both of them purport to refer to realities other than that unified self but somehow, inexplicably, related to it." In short, "person/body dualisms" purport to be theories of something, but cannot, in the end, identify something of which to be the theory.

From these arguments one rationally concludes that the body, far from being a nonpersonal and indeed sub–personal instrument at the direction and disposal of the conscious and desiring "self," is irreducibly part of the personal reality of the human being. It is properly understood, therefore, as fully sharing in the dignity—the intrinsic worth—of the person and deserving the respect due to persons precisely as such.

The heart of Secular Orthodoxy's worldview rests on the duality of mind and body. The belief in the essential separation of the "person" from his or her "body" enables the orthodox secularist to see all morality in instrumental terms. Intrinsic good or evil remains denied. If this duality is rationally contradicted, then any legitimacy to an all-instrumental morality collapses. Mr. George demonstrates how Christianity contradicts this illusory concept of self without one reference to any exclusive doctrine.

In other words, the Reasonable that subscribe to secular orthodoxy are kidding themselves. They have constructed a philosophical tower of babble made up of rationalizations that cover a raw will-to-power. Their worldview is for naught; it can't hold up under the clear light of true reason and common sense. The Reasonable can only scream myths and lies at the Fools that so clearly have proved them wrong. Any effort by the State to establish this absurd Reasonableness as the only appropriate and "neutral" philosophical framework for the public square dooms society to a collision course with Reality.

The tragedy of our time is that the Reasonable refuse to consider reason. They've tasted the forbidden fruit and have sought to be God, deciding for themselves what is right and wrong, and even real or illusory. It's left for Fools to embrace what reason truly is and witness to the integrated life. When we live in the truth and make appropriate use of the ordered goods of creation, we live in integrity. Living this way opens us to communion with God, for we have followed the path of virtue that leads to his Cross. It is the path carved by the Father's hand into the very fabric of creation. This path is more commonly known as the Natural Law.

We can forget it only at our peril. The Reasonable have chosen that peril, whether they know it or not. Since their influence on society alarmingly large, Fools have their work cut out for them. We have one big thing on our side, however. We have the Truth. For if Christ is Truth, as we foolish Christians seem determined to believe, then any truth that we witness will ultimately end in him. This means that even when we face the Reasonable with only the arguments of authentic reason, Christ becomes present to us through the very reason that we employ. For reason, properly understood, seeks out truth through rational inquiry. Reason reveals truth, and thus, reveals Christ.

Let's not forget that the next time we face the Reasonable. There's no reason to despair because Truth stands. The advent of a civilization of Love is not beyond our reach. It's as close as the next truly reasoned argument that we make to silence the Reasonable.

a voice from eden on the Billy Graham Crusade

Vox remarks that Catholics can learn from how Billy Graham preaches. He also observes what Protestants can learn from Catholics. Read what he says right here:

I imagined myself for a moment moving up there and joining the crowd. And once I arrive at the foot of the stage I would repent and be sorry for all the sins I’ve committed and ask for pardon. And then I would resolve to offer everything I have and am to God.

I would have connected to God intellectually, mentally, morally, and spiritually. I would have said “yes” to God at those levels.

But where’s the physical? I am a physical being and I respond to touch. After that rousing sermon, I wanted to be physically connected too. That was the bit I found lacking.

What the Eucharist offers me is a physical connection, a physical intimacy with God Himself. It is a physical touch–-an embrace from God through Christ’s Body and Blood.

He reminds me of the constant Catholic teaching regarding human nature. We are integrated beings: body, mind and soul together. We live holistic lives, whether we acknowledge it or not. Thus, our worship should be one of offering our entire lives to God and receiving him in our entirety. That is the significance of the Eucharist for Catholics. The ultimate prayer celebrates the ultimate sacrifice and results in our communion with the Ultimate, God!

Thus, we are nourished by our participation through prayer and sacrament with Christ's incarnation, passion, death and ressurection. We are nourished in mind, soul and body. We encounter Christ physically and spiritually.

It is this rich experience of worship that Catholics offer the world, in particular our separated Christian brothers and sisters. What they offer us, however, is an important gift. They offer us the example of gifted preaching.

These are confusing times. Those that believe no truth can be definitively known loudly proclaim this as though it were definite truth. Too many muddle along through life with some externalized sense of "having to go" to worship. Others believe they "don't need religion" because they're "spiritual". There's a deep hunger on the part of many for Truth and Love. Many want to be in the Lord's presence, whether they realize it or not. Before they come to any altar, they need to hear the Word of God. They need the Gospel boldly proclaimed. They need to truly meet Christ.

Preaching provides the introduction. Many have come to Christ through Billy Graham's bold presentation of the Gospel. They may not have experienced Christ in his fullness through the Eucharist, but they came foward at the altar call to receive him as best as they could. Would they have met Christ at all if Billy Graham hadn't preached?

When was the last time those that did not know Christ decided to come to him after the preaching of a prominent Catholic? Pope John Paul the Great absolutely preached the Gospel with passion and authority. Small wonder the masses came out to see him, especially the young.

Why haven't others accepted the call?

St. Francis of Assisi's famous counsel is relevent today. He is attributed with the saying that we are to "preach the gospel in everything we do. If necessary, use words." These days the necessity to speak could not be clearer.

UPDATE: Welcome, Happy Catholic readers!

Reasonable March to God-free Public Living Continues

The SCOTUS has spoken again. Don't let your public displays on public property be too overtly and solely "religious". We'll find it unconstitutional. Don't try to hide the cornerstone of our Judicial power--the 14th ammendment. We will make certain that you know who your masters are. We are the Law: SCOTUS has spoken.

Unfortunately, SCOTUS makes clear that the rights the Founding Fathers protected in the Bill of Rights apply only to the extent that Government says. Thus, self-evident though they are, these rights will operate if the State approves. But what if the State should be politically influenced by an extreme minority with an extreme agenda? What protections may the people enjoy from the capriciously enacted authority of such a State? SCOTUS does not answer. Nor do the Justices make clear the line in which religious displays cross the prohibition of the Establishment clause. Note Justice Souter's ambiguity in his majority opinion:

Writing for the majority in the Kentucky case, Justice David Souter upheld lower courts that found the counties' purpose in authorizing the displays in 1999 was religious, and that they were designed to be "an active symbol of religion (stating) 'the religious duties of believers.'"

Though after losing lawsuits the counties twice amended the displays to incorporate other texts of historic significance and adapted their statements of purpose, Souter said those changes were presented "only as a litigating position." He noted that earlier statements "were not repealed or otherwise repudiated."

"No reasonable observer could swallow the claim that the counties had cast off the objective so unmistakable in the earlier displays," Souter wrote. After describing elements of the amended county displays he found puzzling, such as the inclusion of a patriotic anthem but the omission of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, on citizenship rights ("the most significant structural provision adopted since the original framing"), he concluded: "If the observer had not thrown up his hands, he would probably suspect that the counties were simply reaching for any way to keep a religious document on the walls of courthouses constitutionally required to embody religious neutrality."

No, there shall be no "Active symbols of religion" in the public square. There shall be no "religious duties of believers" posted for all to see. None of that now; what would our Reasonable atheist friends say?

The Ten Commandments summarize the principles that all successful civilizations have practiced throughout history. They represent the centrality of the Rule of Law and the cornerstone of Human Rights. They establish the boundaries that any truly moral people need to meet in order to further the good of society. Perhaps that's why they're too much of an active symbol for the Court. After all, this is the same Court that ruled in Casey v. Planned Parenthood, 505 U.S. 833 (1992):

Our law affords constitutional protection to personal decisions relating to marriage, procreation, contraception, family relationships, child rearing, and education. These matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.

In light of this precedent, the Court is determined to continue the constitutional justification of the Absolute Individual. Any mandate for any one to observe morality that originates in any source other than the Individual's own consideration may not be tolerated if it's placed even in a courthouse. The Reasonable march further into the Quicksand of Secular Relativism. Who will pull them out?

Monday, June 27, 2005

Finally, tonight I leave you with good news:

Some Have Hats says, "Yes, there IS a good priest in L.A." Read about him here. Ms. Hall relates a comment from Amy Welborn's Open Book, in which the commentor observed the good priest address the identity of the Eucharist with his "congregation":

Last week you reported a survey of Catholics saying on only 40-something % still believe in the real presence. Well, this Sunday our Father Willy Raymond polled the congregation. He reviewed all three questions first. Then he asked, "who thinks the Eucharist is a great symbol?" One person raised their hand. Next, "does anyone think it's more of a 'memorial'?" Another single congregant raised his hand. Father Willy was stunned at this point, since the only question left was "who thinks Christ is truly present in the Eucharist, that it is the body and blood of our Lord?" To that question about 600 raised their hands. Father Willy smiled and stared at them for the longest moment.

We're talking Los Angeles. Worse, the West side. St. Monica's to be exact. 600 to 2. We're talking the "youth friendly mass." Teenagers mostly. Graduates of Catholic Religious Education. 600 to 2.

I'd like to say our Religious Education is pretty good, but I'm more inclined to attribute this to the tears of St. Monica. That's what brought me in the Church.

I remember how joyful the estranged Cursillista was that day. It was the third day of the Fall Men's Cursillo. We were between Rollos, and I had an opportunity to go to Graymoor's bookstore. While browsing, I encountered him. He looked like he was in his fifties. Since I had come in with some candidates, he had asked me what group I came with.

"Cursillo," I explained.

"Oh." His eyes dropped.

I asked him what his experience had been. Instead, he asked me what exactly were we learning about the Faith. I only got as far as explaining about the "Real Presence" when he smiled.

"Good. You give me hope then."

He had been introduced to the circus Catholicism that swept through the States after Vatican II. The scandal of seeing so many traditions thrown out of worship like used refuse had broken his heart. The annihilation of doctrine that occured along with the tradition-trashing strained his face. That's why he had hope when he heard the words Real Presence. Suddenly, the younger generations were being formed in the Faith once again, not the jumble of half-baked concoctions a bunch of misguided litergists and catechists cooked up.

Fr. Raymond sounds like a beacon that makes sure everyone sees the light. To even address the Real Presence has become something of a rarity; to have it addressed in Mahony's backyard? There's daring evangelization for you! Send more like him, Lord.

Hat tip to L.A. Catholic for the heads-up!

When Buddhists learn Buddhism from falled Christians

Ron at Life in Australia has This link to a First Things account of Buddhism and its complicated relationship to the West.

Apparently, Asian Buddhists owe their unified front to a lapsed Presbyterian:

Before Olcott arrived in Ceylon, Christian missionaries had achieved considerable success in Christianizing the island, particularly in its educational system. Buddhist monks had already begun resisting the missionaries, yet Olcott’s influence was decisive. Believing the Ceylonese were appallingly ignorant of their true religious heritage—and that this ignorance made them vulnerable to Christian missionaries—he embarked on a program to consolidate Sri Lankan Buddhism, becoming one of the most important anti-mission missionaries in modern history. He provided instruction and inspiration for Dharmapala, the “Homeless Protector of the Dharma,” who traveled to Japan, India, Burma, Thailand, Europe, and the United States, becoming what one history calls “the founder of international Buddhism.”

Mr. Leithart observes one of the many ironies that go around this story:

The ironies of this story run in many directions. Westerners who convert to Buddhism are frequently attracted to a form of Buddhism that is the creation of the modern world. Western converts are often attracted to precisely those features of Buddhism that owe most to liberal Protestantism: tolerance, elevation of reason, compatibility with science, hostility to elitism and hierarchy in religion, and so on.

What a surprise. Buddhism by baby-boomers is rehashed Liberal Protestantism in Eastern trimmings. No wonder so many of them feel so much at home in it. No wonder the traditional Buddhists are aghast! Another fine example of cultural diffusion at work. Brought to you by that great leveler of culture, Secular relativism. After all, if there is no God, anything goes. Why not wed the “masculine” technological superiority of the West with the “feminine” spirituality of the East? It's the only Reasonable thing to do.

Meanwhile, hear the Fools laugh out loud. If the Reasonable took a breather, they might hear why, once the Fools get themselves off the floor. "What's so funny?" They might ask

"Well, you're bonding the ultimate message of hope with the ultimate vehicle of despair," laughs one Fool in reply, "Exactly what are the kids going to look like?"

There you go. By your fruits will you know them, sayth the Lord. Exactly how good have been the fruits of a Western Buddhism? Has it altered the consumerism of one person? Has it fostered that encounter of silence in which one could listen to the One? Has it changed the face of the world as so many that first practiced it had hoped?

The Fools still await an answer. I get the feeling we'll wait a long time.

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Defender of Faith--but who's

From the Punditeer comes this interesting story in the TimesOnline of London. The heir of the British throne, and the successor to the head of the Church of England, wants to build a Mosque. In the country. Where hardly anyone is Muslim. Needless to say, people are upset:

According to an internal report obtained by The Sunday Times, Ron Pooley, a local resident, said he “disagreed with (the) mosque, which would be out of place and unpopular with existing residents”.

Pooley’s objection is thought to have led to the formation of the opposition group, which is now seeking 2,000 signatures on a local petition calling for the plan to be dropped.

Steven Briggs, a local resident, said he was aware of strong public feeling against the mosque. “I could think of a hundred other things local people would prefer,” he said. “A mosque is the last thing they would want.”

Another resident, Viscountess Long, wife of the 4th Viscount Long of Wraxall, said she understood the mosque was a sensitive issue. “I don’t know who thought this up,” she said.

Why, the Crown Prince of Wales, dear! That's who thought it up:

The Prince’s Foundation says the idea for the mosque was generated by “local interest” and is currently standing by its plans. However, it added that the mosque was just one of a large number of proposals and that the public consultation process was continuing.

The prince himself has made no secret of his support for Islam. He has an Islamic garden at his home at Highgrove in Gloucestershire.

He once famously described himself as “defender of faith” — upsetting those who believe that the heir to the throne should identify himself solely with the Church of England — upsetting those who believe that the heir to the throne should identify himself solely with the Church of England.

Well, now, isn't that precious. Perhaps Pope Benedict XVI should take a page out of His Highnesses playbook and spend some of that Peter's Pence on some Buddhist temples just off of St. Peter's Square. Or in the countryside! Yeah, that's an even better idea. It's not as though he's supposed to represent the interests of the Catholic Church. He's only the Vicar of Christ. After all, Prince Charles, the heir apparent, will one day serve as the Spiritual head of all Anglicans. Look at how he represents!

I had a different reaction to this then the Punditeer. I can laugh at the absurdity of this ridiculous situation. As sad as it is, it's also tremendously funny. It almost sounds like it belongs on Access Hollywood or Oprah. The Punditeer, on the other hand, depresses me with his sorrowful ponderings of this unfortunate event:

Charles, who is still not officially a Muslim, is out of step with his royal subjects. He believes. Not in Christ, but in Mohammed. Who will eventually give way–the people or the prince? Regardless of Charles, will the English ever resist Islamic encroachment when it will be necessary to avoid enslavement by it? Who wants to place a bet on the resistive powers of the Englishman against the fanaticism of the Arab?

The future of England is either Pagan or Islamic. A Christian comeback seems unlikely. Perhaps even a future English pope could not bring them back from the precipice.

He also demonstrates how despair can inhibit thought:

Europe is the home of the church, the Vatican, the place where the Apostle Peter’s remains are buried. Europe is one of the traditional power centers of the world, intellectually, economically, and politically.

If the church loses Europe, it may not survive. I suspect that’s the reason most leaders of the church point to encroaching secularism as the greatest threat to the church. Strengthening the church where it is weak and needing rejuvenation is a persuasive concept. This battle is at least as important as winning the race for souls in Africa or Latin America.

In today’s Europe, churches are empty while mosques are full. Few Europeans believe in the resurrection of Christ and therefore there is no basis on which to believe in Christianity. The English lost their empire and soon after, their faith.

Oh ye of little Faith. First of all, no informed Catholic would agree with his prediction that the loss of Europe would equal the death of the Church. Speaking about the Church on earth, our Savior said to the first Pope, "You are Peter, and upon this Rock, I will build my Church, and the Gates of the Netherworld shall not prevail against it." (Mt. 16:18) The Catholic Church, under the protection of the Holy Spirit, will resist all attempts by Death to end her. She has died with Christ; therefore, she has risen with him. If we stay with her, we share her destiny. Thus, the loss of European civilization, catastrophic as that may be, will not be sufficient to demolish the Church that Christ has built with his very blood.

The modern Europeans' general refusal to believe even in the Ressurection certainly should alarm the Faithful. Nothing good comes out of departing from Christ. This is especially true when the departure leads to the worship of Self, which too often disguises itself as paganism these days. Indeed, Merton said it well: "The worship of self is the worship of nothing. And the worship of nothing is hell." However, to say that a new evangelization is impossible is to deny history and the power of the Holy Spirit at work among Christ's disciples. Europe began as pagan empires. Therefore, Europe converted to the Faith. It may do so again. The real question remains is whether or not those called to bring the Gospel to Europe will answer the call. When they do, watch a new Evangelization sweep through the soul-numbing emptiness that now haunts the modern European.

No one may look into another's heart. Certainly, Prince Charles' behavior gives a Fool pause. However, a desire to accomodate a growing minority's religious sensibilities through a foundation is not a participation in the public square as a religious muslim. Charity demands that we not falsly accuse the Prince of Wales of any abandonment of his faith before more compelling evidence emerges. Frustration must never replace Faith. Courage is born out of endurance of fear, not it's indulgence.

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me." Jn 14:1

Insight Scoop 2004 on "Compendium of Catechism to debut."

Only in Italian for now, according to Carl Olson. Get the story here.

If you're not a regular reader of Ignatius Insight Scoop, bookmark it now. If you use Mozilla, live bookmark it!

ASCR accomplishes what ESCR proponents promise

It's not about the cures. It's not about the science. It's not even about the money. At least, it's none of the before the real reason for the support of Embryonic Stem Cell Research: it furthers the view that the embryo and fetus are just clumps of cell. It protects the Sacrament of Abortion that witnesses to the glory of the Great-I-Am. It reinforces the role of the state as the arbiter of all things. This way everyone pays homage to the One Thing that Matters. Of Faith and Reason offers a compelling proof of this here:

In its May 23 edition, the publication [Investor’s Business Daily] noted that there have been more than 250 clinical trials using adult stem cells. These trials have produced eighty therapies.
To date, there have been -- read closely -- no clinical trials and no therapies produced by embryonic stem-cell research.

When society continues to deny the humanity of the most defensless of people, the slaughter of the innocents remains policy. All of us become scarred by this Herodianism. All of us become little tyrants determined to keep our throne of Self-Determination by the blood of children. So fanatical are the Reasonable that push the ESCR agenda that any evidence such as this article will be ignored. It does not fit the picture. It's of no use. How outrageous. How sad. How typically Reasonable!