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October 2004 Archives

October 17, 2004

Dawson Says...

"As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy"

- Christopher Dawson

Keep Your Finger on the Pulse of the Polls

For those of you who are political junkies, and can't get enough polling data, check out Rasmussen Reports. They update their presidential poll numbers daily, along with the more important electoral college projections, and also keep tabs on several key congressional races. Bush commands 48.3% of the vote and Kerry 46.2% right now.

The Shape of the Catholic Legal Academy

One of the promising new developments taking place in the era of the "new evangelization," is the revival of Catholic scholarship. While Catholic philosophy and jurisprudence might be said to be the anchor of this intellectual renaissance, it has taken Catholic legal scholarship a bit longer to catch up. However, a group of young Catholic legal scholars has developed a blog dedicated to developing an authentically Catholic outlook on the substantive areas of law and juriprudence. The blog can be accessed at mirrorofjustice.com. Expect to see numerous postings from this blog in the future.

At the moment, however, there is an interesting (and sometimes) frustrating conversation going on over at MOJ regarding Catholics, politicians, and the Eucharist. It may be troubling for some to witness the almost reflexive anti-Bush responses from some of rising Catholic stars in the legal academy. The debate is worth looking at to examine political outlooks (and to a certain extent, the state of Catholic moral theology and social thought) within the Catholic academy today. I have to give kudos to my friend Prof. Rick Garnett for keeping the debate grounded in common sense (and maybe even orthodoxy?). You decide. Check it out.

October 18, 2004

Kerry and Cuomo Excommunicated?

Alliance Defense Fund's Alliance Alert has a press release from the fellow who brought the heresy charge against Kerry in the canonical court. Apparently, he was on Raymond Arroyo's show on Friday night sharing the results of his consultation with the Vatican. The story can be accessed at this link.

See No Evil, Hear No Evil

There is a sophisticated foreign policy theory making the rounds in the global political community of which we should all take careful note. For those of you who haven't been following this, it's called the Sand Doctrine. It runs something like this:

If a state, nation or power is committing atrocities, and this fact comes to the attention of another state, nation or power, the concerned nation's proper course of action is to politeley ask the offender(s) to reconsider their actions. Having done such, the concerned nation should, according to the Sand Doctrine, proceed to forcefully place its collective head in the sand, thus assuaging any lingering concerns it may have.

Now if another state, nation, or power should come along, with similar concerns, and being unsatisfied with the Sand Doctrine, proceed to take unilateral action against this same agressor, perhaps through some show of force, the previously concerned nations shall promptly remove their heads from the sand, and chastise this nation for destroying their illusions of peace.

I know this sounds like an abstract satirical exercise, but I'm not making this up. According to CNN, Kofi Annan just invoked the Sand Doctrine yesterday. Check it out here.

While unenlightened statesman may still cling to the erroneous notion that exposing evil makes it less harmful, proponents of the Sand Doctrine have learned that safety, security, and peace are truly in the eye of the beheaded, err, I mean beholder.

October 19, 2004

I've Been Down on David Brooks Lately, But....

Here is a great piece by David Brooks in today's NY Times. I've thought Brooks has been a little stale since switching over to the Times from his spot at The Weekly Standard, but this one pulls no punches. Sooner or later he will realize that liberals are not going to like him whatever he says.

Canonist Ed Peters dissects the Kerry excommunication flap

This thing has been all over the blogosphere and even appeared in today's New York Times. I'll put my money on Ed Peters's analysis.

Where We're At on the Abortion-Breast Cancer Link

For those that think the Abortion-Breast Cancer link is winning hearts and minds, a recent legal decision chronicled here calls into question the credibility of this information. We have a long way to go on the scientific front if we are going to make this charge stick.

So Long FCC, Hello Pornography

With Howard Stern's recent migration to satellite radio for a meager 100 million, people are starting to take notice of the world of satellite radio. But why the migration? According to Stern, "The Super Bowl did us in."

With the FCC starting to crack down on the growing salacious content in the various broadcast media, radio broadcasters are realizing that if they want to keep sex selling, they need a new marketplace. Enter satellite radio, and XM 205.

XM Radio, one of the two satellite radio companies, already has a Playboy channel (XM 205) in its premium channel lineup. For an extra $2.99 a month in addition to your regular XM Subscription (they are waving the $4.99 activation fee right now) you too can get in on:

Playboy Radio - XM 205

This isn't your Grandma's radio! Based on Playboy TV's hit show Night Calls, join your hosts, Juli and Tiffany, for a romp on the wild side. Sexcetera reporters cover the sensual world with captivating stories on the world of sex. Experience Judge Julie's unique brand of justice on Sex Court, 60 sizzling minutes of erotic fiction on Sexy Stories, and great advice from the Playboy Advisor. Order Playboy Radio today by activating online or calling Listener Care at 1-800-XMRADIO (1-800-967-2346).

And of course, just like with cable, because these are subscription services, the FCC regulation of obscene content is minimal at best. Not to mention the fact that no one is complaing.

According to an FCC report complaints of indecency are on the rise, but there were only 36 total complaints against cable programming last year, a number that stands at 28 so far this year. And satellite radio? The FCC doesn't even track it.

I Wonder Who is Getting Sold Out on This Deal...

In another Vatican about-face, it seems that someone didn't go through the right channels before they communicated with the LA canon lawyer bringing the heresy claim against Kerry. I wonder if this is going to be another "It is as it was" event where the Church loses its credibility (again). See this post from Catholic News Service.

The Church Stands Athwart History, Yelling "Stop!"

Two interesting posts here and here of Church officials thinking wrong thoughts that will certainly not go unpunished.

Left Good. Right Bad. It's Called Art

This fantastic zinger in today's L.A. Times hits Hollywood close to home. A conservative hero? Fuhgeddaboudit.

Perspective

I love these stories. You don't have to be an intellectual or know a lot of theology to be a Christian. I hate to use these stories as rebuttal material to Evangelicals who are always complaining about Catholics not knowing their faith (in the sense that they cannot respond to the usual so-called refutations of Catholicsim), but this gets right to the core. Christianity is, as Flannery O'Connor says, a "habit of being." Thanks to Rob Vischer over at Mirror of Justice and condolences to his family.

This Will Be One Ugly Election

Here is a story about voter fraud that will worry any supporter of the President. And, it turns out, this one is close to home. Here at the University of Minnesota Law School, I've received flyers from "non-partisan" voter "protection" groups to ensure that Republicans don't steal the election like they did the last time. Last week, the neo-Marxist National Lawyers Guild was holding training sessions. The non-partisan contact person had an email address at wellstone.org. Here is a great post that was in the Law School e-newsletter:

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is interested in finding
law students who are willing to serve as Democratic poll watchers in
South Dakota. They anticipate a very close Senate race this year, and
they would like to make sure that every legal vote counts and that no
voter fraud occurs. In particular they want folks to help out at
polling places on Native American reservations.

(Oh, I should mention the contact person for DSCC and the NLG is one and the same.)

Ironically, the Democrats want more workers on the reservations, those same reservations that were the source of massive votes for Tim Johnson in 2002 and raised many suspicions of serious voter fraud. I'm sure they want to "protect" the integrity of the system. As though there will be swarms of Republicans ready to intimidate on the reservations. Seriously. This is going to be an ugly and fraudulent election. I'd like to say that neither party has a monopoly on virtue, but today's crack-cocaine story about sums it up for me as far as what the Democrats will do this time around. As Hugh Hewitt says, "If it's not close, they can't cheat." Bush landslide, please.

How Catholicism Can Renew Democracy

ZENIT had this interview with Dr. Kenneth Grasso, a noted political philosopher, on what Catholicism can contribute to democracy and democratic political theory. A great read for those (and others) that think Catholicism and the republican form of government established by the Founders are necessarily at odds.

Female Martians Invading Soon

Woman may historically be from Venus, but that will be changing soon, if Big Pharma has its way. Riding the Viagra wave is a new patch for women that can unleash their sexual desire with, you guessed it, testosterone.

According to CNN, "The testosterone patch looks very promising. It may be the answer for what women are looking for for a libido lag in menopause..."

Of course since sex is the single most important thing in life, and menopause has banished millions of women from participating fully in the sexual realm in their later years, this liberating development should be hailed by all of us.

Then again maybe it just lends creedance to the age-old saying, when it comes to hegemonic patriarchy, if you can't beat them, join them!

Catholic College Gives Kerry A Helping Hand

This Thursday, some of Minnesota's finest Kerry supporters including Garrison Keillor, Louise Erdrich, Robert Bly, and others will gather at the College of Saint Catherine "to inspire and mobilize Minnesotans to Get Out the Vote on November 2 and elect John Kerry President" [ full story ].

Needless to say, this isn't the first time a Catholic institution has forgotten about its catholicism. The University claims they are merely renting the space, and their hands are tied, but when the event has been billed as "Artists for Kerry" from the outset, culpable ignorance is hard to argue.

Kerry will be in town that day, and rumors are flying that he may make a guest appearance, but this has not been confirmed. Kudos to Matt Abbott who broke this yesterday. Shame on Saint Catherine's for not taking a stronger stand.

October 20, 2004

This is Getting Shadier and Shadier, and the anti-Kerry forces are looking more and more foolish

It turns out Balestrieri, the L.A. canon lawyer, may be playing fast and loose with the facts of the letter from Fr. Basil Cole, OP. Ed Peters has the relevant info over at his blog. In addition, Jimmy Akin has a thoughtful post on the whole situation. As much as Kerry may be completely duplicitous on this issue, we have to be honest in our description of the situation.

This Is Definitely Not Funny

In a devestating blow to the world of sarcasm as we know it, Dave Barry has decided to put his 20 year humor column in the Miami Herald on hold. Word is he may make for the typewriter again in a year or so, but until then, I think I'll just stop reading the paper.

Though characterized as a humorist, he probably has more political acumen than the two presidential candidates combined. Take for example his approach to social security:

"I care about our young people, and I wish them great success, because they are our Hope for the Future, and some day, when my generation retires, they will have to pay us trillions of dollars in social security"

You gotta love it!

Read all about his "retirement" here.

It Doesn't Take A Patriot Act to Censor A Village

While the left is conviced they were free until the Patriot Act came along, a story in St. Paul that has nothing to do with the Patriot Act but should have the ACLU up in arms has gone largely unnoticed.

Apparently a high school student was arrested last Thursday night and charged with disorderly conduct for some poetry he had written. No threats toward the presidency, no school shooting plans, just some, work that, "caused concern because it referred to guns, death and suicide."

The student claims "his only intent was to express his feelings in poetry and that he did not intend to harm anyone" but I guess some things just aren't allowed in public schools anymore, personal expression being one of them.

October 21, 2004

Bishops Start Making Sense of Stem Cells

While the Catholic Church has been consistently painted as being opposed to stem cell research, the U.S. Bishops are finally fighting back with a print advertising campaign that draws the distinction between adult stem cell research which is permissible, and embryonic stem cell research which is not.

Slated to run in USA Today and The Washington Times, hopefully this campaign will offer some clarity to this complex issue.

Read all about it here.

October 22, 2004

Kerry Losing Points with Catholics

In an article published yesterday, Robert Novak illustrates how Kerry is losing points with Catholics on the abortion issue.

Here is an excerpt:


"John Kerry's promise in the last presidential debate that he would impose an abortion litmus test on Supreme Court selections deepened anxiety of pro-life Catholics. For Charles J. Chaput, Roman Catholic archbishop of Denver, and Brian P. Golden, a Democrat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, election of a pro-choice Catholic spells disaster."

Definitely a good read.

The Case of the Disappearing Check Float

In a move that may send you bouncing all the way to the bank, the Check 21 Act takes effect on October, 28th. Legislation intended to bring banking into the 21st century, Check 21 allows banks to process checks electronically.

While there are many complicated implications of this, the main thing you need to know is checks that you write may clear a lot faster. And be sure to check your bank statements, as some checks may get paid twice (once the conventional way, and once the electronic way).

Gone are the days of writing check beyond your available funds, counting on the check clearing time to save the day. Isn't technology wonderful?

Chaput Defends Democracy in NY Times

While I am not an avid reader of the New York Times, it was heartening to see Archbishop Chaput defending democracy and the Church's role in it on the Op-Ed page of the Times today.

He points out that:


Lawmaking inevitably involves some group imposing its beliefs on the rest of us. That's the nature of the democratic process. If we say that we "ought" to do something, we are making a moral judgment. When our legislators turn that judgment into law, somebody's ought becomes a "must" for the whole of society. This is not inherently dangerous; it's how pluralism works.

Democracy depends on people of conviction expressing their views, confidently and without embarrassment. This give-and-take is an American tradition, and religious believers play a vital role in it. We don't serve our country - in fact we weaken it intellectually - if we downplay our principles or fail to speak forcefully out of some misguided sense of good manners.

Go Archbishop! I dare say the Church is one of the great defenders of democracy in the midst of an increaingly intolerant society.

Needless to say, he takes a hard line against abortion. But he is quick to point out the other side is not playing fair:

People who support permissive abortion laws have no qualms about imposing their views on society. Often working against popular opinion, they have tried to block any effort to change permissive abortion laws since the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. That's fair. That's their right. But why should the rules of engagement be different for citizens who oppose those laws?

Catholics have an obligation to work for the common good and the dignity of every person. We see abortion as a matter of civil rights and human dignity, not simply as a matter of religious teaching. We are doubly unfaithful - both to our religious convictions and to our democratic responsibilities - if we fail to support the right to life of the unborn child. Our duties to social justice by no means end there. But they do always begin there, because the right to life is foundational.

For Catholics to take a "pro-choice" view toward abortion contradicts our identity and makes us complicit in how the choice plays out. The "choice" in abortion always involves the choice to end the life of an unborn human being. For anyone who sees this fact clearly, neutrality, silence or private disapproval are not options. They are evils almost as grave as abortion itself. If religious believers do not advance their convictions about public morality in public debate, they are demonstrating not tolerance but cowardice.

Check out the whole article.

Advertising Enters The Matrix

While a few of us are still living outside the matrix, the number living inside is soaring, and advertisers are chasing the green pill. The fact that the $10.7 billion spent on video games surpassed box office receipts means there is money in them thar consoles, and now there are ads too.

From an advertising perspective, it makes sense, but as more real brands find their way into virtual worlds, the distinctions between the two become blurred. As the article notes:


Billboards in a subway scene could feature a new movie trailer one day and the hottest new energy drink the next. Promotions could be tailored to geography, so that players in New York and California might see different versions of a car ad.

While consumerism may appear as a prominent theme, I'm not so sure there will be many churches appearing on the streets of Grand Auto Theft 4. In fact, you can bet that religion will be largely erradicated from these "virtual worlds" unless of course the U.S. bishops ante up some advertising dollars...

October 23, 2004

Do We Really Do Our Best Thinking on the Can?

The London Telegraph reveals that a new archaeological discovery proves that Martin Luther wrote his 95 theses on the toilet. Perfect. In a very entertaining article historians marvel at this new find that gives a "three-dimensional quality" to this famous text. Hmmm....

The Catholic Voter

J. Bottum of The Weekly Standard has written the most astute article of this political season on the Catholic voter. I wonder if the Catholic voter is simply a myth because of an ineffective catechesis from our pastors and/or a willful refusal to appropriately form one's conscience within the Body of Christ?

October 25, 2004

Iraq Unplugged

While the media seems to be running stories on Iraq every day, they never seem to give you a sense of what life is really like over there. Based on the papers, you would think every person in Iraq witnesses a car bomb or a kidnapping daily.

Enter another Iraq documentary that opens this week, Voices of Iraq. Apparently, the producers gave video cameras to 150 Iraqis and had them provide accounts of their lives in their own words.

According to the official website:


Beginning amidst the Falluja uprising in April, going through the marshlands in the South, the Kurdish communities in the North and ending in September of this year, thousands of ordinary Iraqis became filmmakers to reveal the richness, complexity and emotion of their lives.

I'm not sure what agenda, if any, the film offers. While it claims to uphold the sacred value of "objectivity," as a video editor, I know firsthand that what you keep and what you cut is the difference that makes all the difference, but it should be an interesting film nonetheless.

Muslims Not Playing Nice - Blockade Catholic School

While John Kerry and company wonder why we can't just get along with the Muslims, this article from The Jakarta Post serves as a harsh reminder that some Muslims aren't always so reasonable.

I reproduce the entire article here, as the link was a little sporadic:


Workers demolish wall blocking Catholic school

JAKARTA (AP): Indonesian officials Monday knocked down a brick wall erected by a hardline Islamic group to block access to a Catholic school it accused of converting local Muslims, police and school officials said.

The Sang Timur Catholic school to the west of Jakarta was closed in early October when the Muslim group built the two-meter-high wall in front of its gates.

Local government workers demolished the wall hours before former Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, who is a well-known interfaith activist, arrived to discuss the issue with local people.

"The former president said we need to be tolerant of each other," said Derikson Turnip, a priest at the school. "We should not resort to violence because of our differences."

Christians make up about 10% of Indonesia's 210 million people.

More than 80% are Muslims, making it the world's largest Islamic country.

Turnip had previously denied the school was trying to convert local Muslims.

It wasn't clear why the local government knocked the wall down Monday after allowing it to stand for three weeks.

Muslims and Christians mostly live in harmony, although disputes are often sparked over the building of new churches and aggressive proselytism.


I don't think the Koran explicitly condemns the construction of walls around Catholic schools, but surely there is a better way to respond to proselytism.

October 26, 2004

The End of the MSM (R)

Today's newest exposure of the Main-Stream Media (MSM) signals what has been in the works now for some time. There is a well-organized and intentional plan in the MSM to undermine the Bush administration and on a more general level, be a cheerleader for the Left. The New York Times and 60 Minutes, purportedly the essence of journalism excellence, have been caught red-handed trying to pull the strings on this election like a mad puppeteer.

The election aside, these events have signaled the final decay of the MSM. But we all lose. While journalism has always been ideological, there was at least a movement that sought to report the news as objectively as possible. That inspiration has died out. It seems that at least a few media sources must have universal credibility to sustain the necessary civility and civil discourse through which an ordered polity must deliberate on the toughest questions of the day. You can't do what politics is meant to do if no one agrees on the facts or even what the problems are. While Fox News and the Wall Street Journal are excellent news sources because they let both sides speak for themselves, a massive chunk of the population refuses to get their news from these two bogeymen because of the slant of their editorial pages. While each's readership and viewership grows as distaste for the MSM rises, will it be enough to lay the foundations for a new era of national conversation based on a new newspaper or media outlet of record? My suspicion is that they won't (especially Fox in the drive for dollars) and that for those really interested in the news and what is happening, one will have turn to the Internet in general, and the blogosphere in particular. Stephen, what sayeth you?

Rainbow Sash Part II

The Rainbow Sash Alliance, part of the Rainbow Sash movement is gearing up for another public demonstration in a Catholic Church near you November 7th. Apparently the goal this time around is:


[P]art of the larger, national effort, and comes under the shadow of the recent demand from Rome, sent via Archbishop Flynn, that St. Joan of Arc Parish take off of its website information about the parish's participation in the 2004 Twin Cities Pride celebration. 

While I can appreciate a desire on the part of the bishops not to politicize the Mass, particularly Communion, action will need to be taken at some point in time if these confrontations continue.

In my Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, home to some of the leading Sashers (as best I can tell), there was a show down at the Cathedral on Pentecost between Sashers and "Guardians of the Eucharist" during mass which was distracting for all involved, and it looks like a repeat is on the horizon, as we have confirmation that Sashers will be at the Cathedral of Saint Paul on Nov. 7th.

This action also appears to be partially in response to a crackdown on St. Joan of Arc, a "liberal" parish in the Archdiocese, for their liturgical abuses. It will be interesting to see how all this unfolds.

Come Lord Jesus!

Ouch!

Here is a stinging riposte to John Kerry's attempt to establish his Catholic bona fides on the fact he served as an altar boy. Turns out he is in some stellar company.

One issue?

In all of the hooplah over abortion, Catholic voters have to remember that those of us supporting the president justify our action on more than just one issue. Here is a scoop on the future of same-sex marriage under President Kerry. Remember, it's the FIVE issues that matter most.

Bush Prevents Abortion From Becoming Human Right

I know too many Catholics that think this is an election between tweedledee and tweedledum, especially on the life issues. Let me mince no words --- that is stupid. Read here.

Bigotry By Any Other Name

In this election cycle, I have generally found Republicans more friendly, and believe it or not more tolerant of opposing points of view, that those supporting the other guy.

And now, my personal experience has been vindicated by Richard Rushfield over at Slate.

Check out what happens to a journalist who wears Bush garb in donkey land and Kerry duds in the elephant jungle.

October 27, 2004

What's at Stake

The Drudge Report has this report of a reported al Qaeda tape threatening more attacks on America if Bush is re-elected. Ironically, this sort of thing helps the president tremendously. Unless we get attacked before the election, which would surely mean a huge Bush defeat.

National Review has a summary of the whole Iraq weapons scandal now known as Bomb Gate.

MSM RIP

Is there hope for the MSM (mainstream media) to preserve any sort of objectivity as election day approaches? Based on the events of the last 24 hours I think I concur with Jason the answer is becoming a resounding no. As Bomb Gate unfolds, the biases are becoming easier and easier to spot.

Despite the NBC reports discrediting the "news" dimension of this "breaking story," and a statement from 60 Minutes that they had planned to hold this recycled story until just before the election, all these angles have been set aside in today's New York Times, for an AP story that makes it sound like Bush and Kerry are just arguing back and forth and no one knows what really happened.

Hmmm. Do you think 60 Minutes relationship with the NYT has anything to do with this? HIGHLY unlikely.

I don't get quite as excited about the supposed withholding of a videotape of a new terrorist threat on America. It seems to me those are a dime a dozen, and source verification is important to separate hoaxes from hijackers. But I think ideology is trumping objectivity, and the public are the ones who are losing out.

Blogs can help mitigate this, but audience is everything, and the Seventh Age Nielsen Ratings don't match CNN or the NYT, yet.

Story of a Story of a Soul

I went to see the new Therese movie the other night. It just squeaked into town for a week or so, and I had received some free tickets, so my wife and I decided to do our part to support "Catholic media."

The movie is definitely done in a true Theresian "little way." The film grain was distractingly grainy at times, many shots seemed out of focus, and the script seemed more like a series of episodic moments of Therese's life than a story. Perhaps a new genre? At any rate from a technical standpoint it leaves much to be desired.

I never felt that I connected with Therese, so I didn't really care much about what happened to her. There were a few humorous scenes in the convent that got the audience of eight laughing (my wife and I being 25% of the crowd) but it wasn't enough.

There were some touching moments, and I'm sure a few parents will relate to the "daughters leaving home" scenes, but as a whole it was a disappointment.

I'm sure the cast and crew did the best they could with what they had, but I think they should have tried to do less, or held out for more. Then again, maybe this was their way of capturing Therese's littleness. Enough pontificating for now.

Israel Blackmailing Bush Over Nazis Past

In a move that casts a tinge of doubt on Michael Moore's already tenuous claim that Bush and the Saudis are best buds, the Saudi government daily Al-Riyadh ran an editorial the other day regarding accusations that Bush's grandfather collaborated with the Nazis to bring Hitler to power.

Apparently, Israel got ahold of these doucments and has been using them to blackmail the Bush administration into serving their interests, or so the Saudi story goes.

"The delicate question is whether Israel cooperated with the ruling Bush family while knowing these secrets, according to the principle of whoever does you excellent service is your ally, even if in the past he had [ties] with the Nazis? Or perhaps this information is inaccurate or fictitious, and its publication has come at a time when the investigators don't have time to conduct a thorough investigation and to defend Bush, since the elections are fast approaching.
And regardless of whether these tales are true or not, the editorial concludes, "In any event, it is Israel that has gained the most from this."

And here I was complaining that our media had an agenda!

European Parliament Rejects Catholic Commisioner

In a move that illustrates Europe's total rejection of it's Catholic roots, an incoming group of European Union Commissioners was rejected because of the views of Italian Catholic Rocco Buttiglione, who was slated to take over in the area of Justice and Civil Rights.

His unacceptable viewpoints:


He considered homosexuality to be "a sin", suggested that single mothers were bad parents and said the point of marriage was to protect women.

Read all about it here.

October 28, 2004

In Defense of Nino Scalia

Because I am a law student, this blog will inevitably contain postings on legal matters and issues. No worries, however, they should be interesting to the civic-minded non-lawyer. Here is just one example. It is an op-ed in the New York Sun from a former SCOTUS clerk that responds to an anti-Scalia and Thomas ouerve in the NY Times. The original Times piece was sheer hysteria and hate. However, even intellectual opponents can agree, Scalia is no bronze-age fanatic.

Bob Casey, RIP

I implore all of our faithful readers to spend some time with this beautiful piece that was given as a speech at the Archdiocese of Denver's first annual Bob Casey Lecture. Gov. Casey was an ardent pro-life Democrat, who will be forever remembered as the "Casey" in the famous SCOTUS case "Planned Parenthood v. Casey." The speech is a stunning reflection on the rhetoric of "personally opposed but..." Please read this!

Sexual Abuse Could Cost You Your Church

As you may be aware, the Catholic Archdiocese of Portland has declared bankruptcy in an attempt to bring about financial solvency in the face of mounting sexual abuse lawsuits.

What you may not know, is every parish in the archdiocese could conceiveable be sold in the process. According to the October edition of the Catholic World Report (not available online), while cannon law views the archdicoese as a trust for individual parishes, the secular organization of the archdiocese is such that the property of each individual parish is all owned by the archdiocese.

The multi-million dollar question is whether the secular courts will allow cannon law to govern in this case (somehow, I don't think the proponents of the separation of Church and state will argue quite so vocally on this one). With only $50 million in assests and lawsuits in excess of $165 million pending, and more on the way, the property of the archdicoese, valued at $300-$500 million, becomes an attractive target.

Bottom line, the Son of Man may not be the only one with nowhere to lay his head when all is said and done.

More Examples of Ireland's Spiritual Sickness

Bishop thumbs his nose at Vatican stance on gay issues proclaims the gay media of the U.K. Having lived at Rome's Irish College, the situation in the Irish church is particularly weak. They will be ordaining only five priests this year, down from over 100 ten years ago. Their "elite" seminarians are full of ecumenical-speak without the proper theological foundations and show a hostility to traditional piety (in my experience). They seem to be where the American church was in the early 1970s -- excited about felt banners, feelings, guitars, and dialogue. Our Lady of Knock, pray for us.

The Huntington Crusades

In a prophetic 1993 article, Samuel Huntington warned that the conflicts of the 21st century will not be between nation states, but rather between civilizations, a clash of civilizations.

The "War on Terror" has been characterized as Bush's revenge on Saddam, a war over oil, a move to bring terrorists to justice, and an effort to liberate Iraq and spread democracy. But the more fundamental issue that has gone largely unmentioned, is that of religious faith.

Take for example, al-Qaida's words to President Bush after the Madrid train bombing:


"Your stupidity and religious extremism is what we want as our people will not awaken from their deep sleep except when there is an enemy.

"Kerry will kill our nation while it sleeps because he and the Democrats have the cunning to embellish blasphemy and present it to the Arab and Muslim nation as civilisation.

"Because of this we desire you [Bush] to be elected."

And the most recent video tape Jason mentioned a few days ago that has since been authenticated and aired is filled with references to the "war on Islam" and warns that America has brought this on itself for electing George Bush who has made war on Islam by destroying the Taliban and making war on Al Qaeda.

And you thought the Crusades were just an historical reality? Think again. Of course the challenge this time is to love the Muslims into the faith. Any ideas?

October 29, 2004

U.S. Bishops to Mull Pastoral On Marriage

With the U.S. Bishops meeting in but a few weeks, items on the agenda are already starting to trickle out. Among them, a proposed pastoral letter on marriage.

According to the NCCB:


If approved, the marriage initiative, to be carried out in three phases, would begin in January 2005 and extend at least through 2007. A preparation and development phase, including a process of consultation and research, would occur in 2005 and 2006. The writing and approval phase, dealing with the pastoral letter itself, would come in 2006 and 2007. Beginning in 2007, an implementation and follow-up phase would include publication of the pastoral letter and further implementation activities based on the main themes of the letter, carried out by various Conference committees and other groups, e.g., revision of marriage preparation national guidelines, models for parish ministry, specific resources and applications for different cultural groups, and TV/radio spots.

I wonder if the institution of marriage will still be around to defend in 2007 by the time the bishops figure out what they want to say about marriage, but at least it's a move in the right direction.

The Rise of the Muslim State

While most U.S. attention has been focused on Iraq and the elections, developments in Sudan should not be overlooked.

While Sudanese rebels are demanding that "Islam be kept out of government in the war-torn region of Darfur" their request has been rejected by government negotiators who insist Sharia law should apply in northern Sudan.

Of course if this were an isolated incident, there would be nothing to fear, but Sharia is on the rise internationally, and will be coming soon to a western democracy near you, a fact well documented at www.jihadwatch.org.

How do we cope with intolerant Islam? As any good postmodern will tell you, just rewrite the history for a safer, gentler Islam.

Mel Gibson is Passionately Against Prop. 71

Most folks have already heard about Mel Gibson's disrespectful repudiation of the memory of Superman. But this link gives you the details why this guy is more effective stating the truth of the silliness of embryonic stem cell research than politicians, the media, and even our bishops. Hat tip: Southern Appeal.

The Crisis of the American Male

One of the most important cultural trends in modern America (and I suppose the West in general) is the feminization of the American male. Modern feminism and the breakdown of the family have had a profound influence on the development of males in our society. Because a large portion of young men grew up without fathers, or were unfortunate to grow up as children of the Children of the 60s (who still act like children), boys do not know how to be men.

This cultural phenomenon has created a situation in which young men can be either characterized as "wimps" or "barbarians." Terrence Moore, an ex-Marine and classics professor, who now runs some high schools in Colorado wrote this fantastic piece in the Claremont Review of Books of which I am a subscriber and huge fan. Moore dissects this phenomenon of the crisis of manliness and what can be done. In a follow-up article called Heather's Compromise, Moore describes how he sees young women responding to the world of "Wimps and Barbarians."

Needless to say, we will be blogging more about this phenomenon, which from our perspective represents a deep sickness in the culture that trickles down into all areas of society. In the mean time, I wanted to let you all know about these articles, as well as a new book by Brad Miner, former literary editor at National Review. It is called The Compleat Gentleman and explores the basic elements of what makes a gentleman, and what things we need to encourage to renew these virtues among the men of today. In particular, Miner makes the claim that a gentleman is simultaneously a warrior, a monk, and a lover. I love it! Sounds strangely like Hilaire Belloc's message in "The Four Men" -- a must read and a real classic. Remember, a gentleman loves good beer and fine scotch as well!

More on this soon....

October 30, 2004

Naturalizing Porn in the U.K.

I've always thought British tabloids and newspapers were pretty trashy, especially the page six girl bit that has become a mainstay in the various British rags. However, because of more heavy-handed (bad pun?) restrictions on smut peddling in the U.K., the porn industry has never been able to be as public and, dare I say, out in the open as in the U.S. But of course, Larry Flynt, the self-proclaimed "smut peddler," is out to change all that by opening his very own specialty shop where even a teacher would feel comfortable. Flynt also challenged Britons to mobilize against these repressive anti-porn laws just as he did through the American court system. Is this really what we mean by the spread of American values?

For a great new book that attacks judicial supremacy and the Supreme Court for "playing quarterback to the smut industry" see Phyllis Schlafly's The Supremacists: The Tyranny of Judges and How to Stop It. We had Mrs. Schlafly in for a Federalist Society event, and she navigated a mine field of some tough questions to give one of the sharpest presentations on judicial activism I have ever seen. And she is 80 years old! God bless Phyllis Schlafly and her battles against folks like Flynt and his defenders in the commanding heights of the culture.

Trick or Treat

Amy Welborn has posted a few articles on the links between Halloween and All Saints and All Souls Days. The articles list some of the historical origins, as well as some fun ways to celebrate the season without it devolving into a pagan bacchanalia.

Canon 915: What Does It Really Mean?

Ave Maria Law School recently hosted a symposium entitled, "Public Witness?Public Scandal" which included a number of noted Catholic thinkers and their take on the requirements of Canon 915 and whether politicians should be denied the Eucharist. There are some great papers. Check it out. Hat tip: Open Book.

Chemical Abortions at a Target or Cub Foods Near You

As pharmacies make their way into grocery and discount stores, they bring with them a host of cures, and some abortifacients to boot. Perhaps this has been common knowledge for some time, but I just found out you can get emergency contraception at Cub and Target pharmacies, no appointment needed. The onslaught of the culture of death continues.

On Death and Taxes

With elections just around the corner, taxation rhetoric is running high. To that end I wanted to share with you an illustration that came my way (source unknown), that puts current U.S. tax policy in perspective.

Let's put tax cuts in terms everyone can  understand. Suppose that every day, ten men go out for dinner. The bill for all ten comes to $100. If they  paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

- The first four men (the poorest) would pay  nothing.
- The fifth  would pay $1.
- The sixth would pay $3.
- The seventh  $7.
- The eighth  $12.
- The ninth  $18.
- The tenth  man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that's  what they decided to do. The ten men ate dinner in the restaurant  every day and seemed quite happy with the  arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a  curve.

"Since you are all such good customers,"  he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of  your daily meal by $20." So, now  dinner for the ten only cost $80. The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our  taxes. So, the first four men were unaffected.  They would  still eat for free. But what about the  other six,  the paying customers? How could they  divvy up the $20 windfall so that everyone  would get his 'fair  share'?

The six men realized that $20 divided by six is  $3.33. But if they subtracted that from  everybody's share, then the fifth man and  the sixth man would each end up being  'PAID' to eat their meal. So, the restaurant owner suggested that  it would be fair to reduce each man's bill  by roughly the same amount, and he  proceeded to work out the amounts each  should pay. And so:

- The fifth  man, like the first four, now paid nothing  (100%  savings).
- The sixth  now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% savings).
- The  seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (28% savings).
- The eighth  now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
- The ninth  now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
- The tenth  now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than  before. And the first four continued to eat  for free. But once outside the restaurant,  the men began to compare their  savings.

"I only got a dollar out of the $20,"  declared the sixth man. He pointed to the  tenth man "but he got $10!"

"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the  fifth man. "I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got ten times more than  me!"

"That's true!!" shouted the seventh man.  "Why should he get $10 back when I got only  $2? The wealthy get all the  breaks!"

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!" The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him  up.

The next night the tenth man didn't show  up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate  without him.  But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have  enough money between all of them for even half  of the bill!

And that,  boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works.  The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up  at the table  anymore.

The Recent Exploits of Planned Parenthood

Southern Appeal's Feddie has a little collage of some of the recent exploits of Planned Parenthood among young people. Very classy. The children of Margaret Sanger are so creative!

About October 2004

This page contains all entries posted to The Seventh Age in October 2004. They are listed from oldest to newest.

November 2004 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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