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November 2004 Archives

November 1, 2004

What This Election Means on a Cultural Level

I am going to make some sweeping generalizations with this post, but bear with me. I think the election will be decided by two major cultural groups, and the result will show which group is stronger and more on the rise. It also could mean that one of the two parties has a more successful GOTV effort, but I think that people's willingness to vote still is based upon which of these two categories they fit into. I think these two categories of voters represent the middle 50 percent of the electorate, and not the party activists or conservate/liberal ideologues. Because they are the "swing voters," they say a lot about the broader culture and where it is headed.

The first category of people votes in the here and now. This is their frame of reference. They vote for what is good for their pocketbook (short and long term), their immediate security, and which candidate will least interfere with their chosen way of life or that of their immediate family and friends. This group will vote overwhelmingly for Kerry. George Bush's agenda for reform and moral clairity is perceived as a real threat to the short-term good of these groups. The bloc comprises seniors worried about the vitality of their health care and social security benefits, college students worried about rising tuition, folks that have lost their jobs recently, minorities and women who are beholden to a system that institutionalizes a theory of racial and gender oppression, people that live non-traditional lifestyles and believe that truth comes from within and is theirs to make and validate, government bureaucrats who are threatened by ANY sort of spending cuts. What is good for them is good for America. They love Kerry's moral agnosticism. His foreign policy resonates because while it appears to focus on immediate threats, it avoids any sort of moral confrontation and eschews costly endeavors that are not guaranteed to have some large-scale effect on the global terror phenomenon. Kerry's many spending plans appeal to the entitlement culture that these folks represent and are designed to ease their fears of doing without for any sort of time. On a cultural level, that includes the validation of their personal lifestyle choices and autonomy. I am not trying to totally write off this bloc of Kerry voters as moral degenerates, and I am sure these folks are capable of sacrifice and virtue, my point is that when it comes to politics and voting, these median voters vote "me first." This is not a totally unfathomable result, but just a fact. One could argue it is a natural and good impulse. I am skeptical. While the Bush camp has done its part to appeal to naked self-interest, it is clear that two visions are at stake here. The MSM has said that there are stark differences in this election. I agree, and now seek to describe the other class of median voters.

The second category of median voters bases its selection on the long-term. They operate under a moral code that exists outside of their own personal points of reference and believe that upholding this code and creating a society that conforms to it is the long-term goal that should be pursued. Furthermore, they understand that the War on Terror is a long-term struggle that will have its costs and that everyone will have to sacrifice. Bush's economic policies resonate with these "Long-Term" voters because (with the exception of tax cuts) they present a coherent vision of what is deemed "The Ownership Society," a more participatory economy. Without reform, entitlements will be exhausted. Admittedly, there may be short-term costs to reform along with the transformation of the economy and globalization which causes jobs to leave our shores. But the vision the president is offering allows for transformation and the creation of a culture of economic opportunity in a dynamic economic system. The incumbent president, ironically, is the candidate of reform and vision, while his challenger is the reactionary ("let's return to the Clinton days") and status quo candidate. This is only possible when a candidate has staked his candidacy on the idea that Americans are still a visionary people. President Bush still has faith in America. John Kerry does not. That is the difference. I would love someone like David Brooks to come in and nuance these points, but in my little bit of time here this morning, this will have to do.

One final caveat, while I have noted that each of these categories swings largely to one candidate, it by no means implies that one candidate will not have any of the other type of voter. Bush will certainly pick-up some of the "Here and Now" voter, especially with his tax cutting record, and Kerry will certainly pick up those voters whose values are at the top of their concerns. These value voters, however, will be of the cultural Left.

To back up my analysis, I have provided a link to what I think is the most authoritative of the polls: the Mason-Dixon. The poll asks voters a number of questions on why voters vote for and prefer the candidates do on a whole range of questions from the economy and values to health care and terrorism. Compare what I have said with these results.

The winner of this election will have the opportunity to lead our country in a profoundly important direction with a clear governing vision and mandate. It will be because one vision of who we are and where we are going triumphed over another. If it is the group that will support Kerry, it will be a strong indicator that America represents little more than a nation of bio-tech consumerism and naked self-interest clothed in multilateralism and dialogue. It will confirm our enemies worst impressions, provide an administration that will further those impressions, and lead this nation deeper into nihilism and decline, the sort decried by Pope John Paul II in Centesimus Annus and Evangelium Vitae. I am not saying that President Bush is any sort of savior, but his administration gives a platform and a space through which those people of faith and long-term vision can work to restore the moral and cultural order of this nation. Despite his talk of being an altar boy, John Kerry is hostile to this vision and will grease the wheels of a moral agnosticism that is strongest threat to the long-term of health of Western civilization.

The Culture War is very real and there are still minds and hearts to wind. Neither group of median voters is static, which makes the battle more important. This election says a lot about where we are headed culturally. Let's watch the exit polls and post-election statistics to see if I am right.

A Blogger is Born

Congratulations go out to Seventh Age blogger Jason Adkins and his family, who welcomed a new little boy, Dominic Michael Adkins, into the world on Saturday.

Ideology, the Tie That Blinds

Last week we shared with you information on the Voices of Iraq documentary that was opening here in the U.S. Today, we have an update from a left leaner who was in attendance.

Unsuspectingly, I went to this 'Voices of Iraq' premiere - as did a few hundred other people (the theater was full). Things started well. The producer praised Mpls as a great city where people are "open" to independent film and non-mainstream ideas. He said - a little vaguely, I now think - that Michael Moore is a brilliant filmmaker who has developed a "new genre" of documentary. The predominantly Kerry-buttoned audience clapped enthusiastically and then we watched the movie...

Did other people know it was sponsored by the IAFA and the FDD (FDD members include Newt Gingrich, R. James Woolsey and Richard Perle)? Apparently, judging by this film (450 hours of footage, edited down to less than an hour and a half), the overwhelming majority of Iraqis are very happy and cheerful these days. They adore the police and they laugh about the Abu Ghraib abuse revelations. None of the so-called insurgents are Iraqis because Iraqis would never. When asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, one beaming little boy said, "American!"

Some members of the audience were infuriated with a sense of having been duped by the promos, which were clearly *aimed at liberals.* Here and there, extroverts stood up from their seats and shouted "Propaganda!" and "They're lying to you!" along with various epithets, marching out of the
theater in little clusters.

There was no Q & A afterward.

The film opens at the Lagoon (and in ten other can-you-say-Swing-State cities) tonight.

Such a perfect illustration of the blinding character of ideology.

I must confess I haven't seen the film, but the discounting of it based solely on the content regardless of its veractity is chilling to say the least.

Ideology, the Tie That Blinds II

With election day just around the corner, polling data is flying everywhere. Normally, we like to say the numbers don't lie, but in the case of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, you have to wonder.

In a poll released today, the Star Tribune claims Kerry leads Bush in Minnesota 49% to 41%.

This is in sharp contrast to Minnesota Public Radio's poll that finds Bush ahead 48% to 47%.

Of course the bias of the Star Tribune polls is nothing new. They were shown to underrepresent Republican voters in 2002, a charge that has been renewed again this year, and will be easily confirmed in 48 hours.

Congratulations to the Star Tribune, for proving once again, that ideology is the tie that blinds!

November 2, 2004

Bush Sign Stealers Caught Red Handed

I have heard a lot about sign stealing this election, but last evening it became a reality when my wife and I encounterd some Bush sign stealers.

It was about 11:00 P.M. and we were on our way home when my wife exclaimed she saw some people stealing a Bush sign. We did a quick U-turn and followed the vandals who had apparently replaced a Bush sign at 1818 Goodrich in St. Paul with a Kerry sign.

We trailed them for several blocks, and when they noticed us a high speed chase ensued. My wife was able to get their license plate number, a small blue car with MN plate LJU-636. After tailing them for 5 more minutes, we passed them, wagging our fingers at this group of four highschool students, and proceeded home to notify the authorities.

I think we definitely shook them up a bit, and hopefully discouraged further vandalism, but it serves as a stark reminder of how some will stop at nothing to win this election.

Home Alone America

NY Times says, "new salvo fired in the mommy wars." Once the election is over, we'll get to muse on some actual policy questions. This new book by Mary Eberstadt is sure to make the vendors of the theory of male cultural hegemony mulitple shades of red in the face. Buy it and give it to all of your denim jumper wearing mother friends to validate them and the great work they do.

Why Democrats Want Open Voting

One of the issues this election raised by the democrats has been the call to let people vote at any precinct in their state rather than only in the precint where they are registered. Republicans have opposed this on the grounds that it opens the doors for tremendous voter fraud.

Yesterday evening, I learned why the democrats are so inclined. When I got home, in addition to a message from President Bush asking me to vote for him, there was also a message from a democrat volunteer encouraging me to vote for Kerry.

The ironic thing, my polling place, as identified by the democratic volunteer in the message, was incorrect.

November 3, 2004

Star Tribune Bias Confirmed

We reported here a few days ago about the biased polling practices of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Now that the election is just about over, we have more hard data to back up our claims.

In their final poll before the elction, the Star Tribune claimed Kerry led Bush in Minnesota 49% to 41%, or an 8 point spread.

With 98% of MN precincts reporting, the results are Kerry 51% and Bush 48%.

This means the Star Tribune was within 2% for their Kerry prediction, well within the poll's 3.7 margin of error, but was off by 7% for their Bush prediction, a goof well outside the poll's margin of error on the Republican side, and proof yet again, that ideology is the tie that blinds.

Visionary America

Bill Bennett (unknowingly) responds to my post from Monday about the cultural implications of this election at National Review Online. I think my analysis was surprisingly correct, and the majority of Americans and swing voters are more of the visionary type than the "me-first" voter. Now begins the conversation about what ideals America stands for, culturally and on the foreign policy level.

November 4, 2004

Union Leaders: Coming Soon To A Church Near You

While terrorism and the economy dominated mass media framing of the presidential election, a sleeping issue ended up costing Kerry the election, the big R.

Already pundits are warning the nation about the rise of religious conservatives (I can't help but wonder what a religious liberal would look like) and the tremendous wealth and power that they wielded to win the election.

As the democrats do their post mortem on the election, they are realizing they may need to extend an olive branch to those "religious conservatives" if they ever hope to recapture the whitehouse. Interestingly enough, union leaders are already trying to figure out how they can bridge this gap. The only problem, they don't know any "religious conservatives."

As the article notes:

"We have to have that dialogue, but first we have to identify and locate those people," said Burga. "We have stayed away from their issues until now. Now, it's come to the point where the Democratic Party is going to have to have that dialogue."

It will be interesting to see how this unfolds, maybe a born again Hillary Clinton in 2008?

The Day the Enlightenment Went Out

In an angry editorial in today's New York Times, Garry Wills laments that perhaps the Enlightenment has died in the USA with the 2004 election, for "[c]an a people that believes more fervently in the Virgin Birth than in evolution still be called an Enlightened nation?" It's a good question to ask. Though he seems to overlook the 49% or so of America that is still on his side.

And in a striking moment of clarity that sheds more light on the US, the international community, and the war in Iraq than anything else I've seen in the Times, or heard from the Kerry campaign, he notes:

The secular states of modern Europe do not understand the fundamentalism of the American electorate. It is not what they had experienced from this country in the past. In fact, we now resemble those nations less than we do our putative enemies.

Where else do we find fundamentalist zeal, a rage at secularity, religious intolerance, fear of and hatred for modernity? Not in France or Britain or Germany or Italy or Spain. We find it in the Muslim world, in Al Qaeda, in Saddam Hussein's Sunni loyalists. Americans wonder that the rest of the world thinks us so dangerous, so single-minded, so impervious to international appeals. They fear jihad, no matter whose zeal is being expressed.

Though I'm sure he doesn't recognize his genius, that's one of the best articulations of the need for unilateral action on the part of the US that I have seen yet. Keep it up Garry, you are starting to catch on!

November 5, 2004

Kinsey, On the Big Screen Just in Time for Christmas

If you thought Michael Moore has an agenda, you haven't seen anything yet.

Still reeling from an across-the-board sweep of gay marriage bans this election, the left is back at it again with Kinsey, a movie of the famous 1940's sex researcher whose flawed findings laid the foundation for the sexual revolution and the normalization of homosexuality.

To give you a feel for the film, here is an excerpt from the article referenced above:

To the disappointment of the director and cast of the film, the Institute could not release the massive amount of sex questionnaires and tapes collected by Kinsey and his staff, including video tapes of volunteers having sex in the attic of his research lab at Indiana University.

As Kinsey began to explore America's sexuality, he came to the difficult discovery that he was bisexual, which led to an affair with a young male researcher, Clyde Martin, played convincingly by Peter Sarsgaard.

In the film, Sarsgaard is the seducer and the two lock in a passionate, semi-nude kiss after interviewing homosexuals about their sex lives.

The film is slated to open just in time for Christmas, Dec. 17th I believe, but our friends at Catholic Outreach have some plans of their own to counter this propoganda piece.

You can learn more from Kinsey's greatest critic, Dr. Judith Reisman. And if you want to get a feel for Kinsey's legacy, check out the Kinsey Institute.

French Law Could Squelch Church Teachings

A proposed law to ban anti-gay speech that is winding its way through the French political system is causing some serious concerns for Catholics in France. The primary issue is the law is vague and, "could prevent clerics from expressing their opposition to legalising gay marriage."

Polls Prove Bush Stole the Election

Just when you thought Bush won the election fair and square, some Kerry supporters are whining that Bush stole the election again this year.

Apparently the reasoning goes something like this. Exit polls are more accurate than actual votes, and this proves the election was stolen because Kerry was ahead in many of the exit polls.

Hmmm. Why do we bother to count actual votes again?

November 6, 2004

Media Embezzling Catholic Pastor

As you may have heard, Rev. Joseph W. Hughes was accused today of embezzling $500,00 from his New Jersey church over the course of the last few years.

The case is quite similar to that of Rev. Charles Betts, who was also accused of embezzling about $494,000 from a New York church about a month ago.

Despite many similarities, there are two notable differences in these cases.

First, the case of Rev. Joseph W. Hughes has become an AP wire story appearing in over 50 media outlets in the first day, while the story of Rev. Charles Betts was only covered in 5 or so New York media outlets.

The other difference? Rev. Joseph W. Hughes is a Catholic priest, Rev. Charles Betts is not.

Hmmmmm. Makes you wonder doesn't it.

Osama Update

For those of you keeping tabs on our Muslim friends, here is the full text (in English) of Osama bin Laden's pre-election advice for us.

November 7, 2004

Why the Left Will Continue to Lose

The period of self-introspection has begun for the Democrats. A number of plausible theories have been argued as to why they soundly defeated, but none of these have come from the lips of Democratic leaders or the glitterati that support them.

My favorite comment has been how the Democrats need to "get religion." This amounts to letting people know that they go to church and care about families. Once they hold their nose and do this, then they will win all of those votes back. Nevermind that Christian voters are smart enough to figure out that you can talk about faith and religion all you want, but if you assault the very things you claim to cherish, you will be a hypocrite and no more. Ironically, John Kerry talked about how faith without works was dead. He claimed that the proposition life begins at conception was an article of faith. For some reason, his faith motivated him on other issues, but his faith led to no works on the abortion question. Democrats cannot really believe that all it will take is to pay some lip service to religious themes and all of a sudden they will be able to make inroads into the "values voter" populace. Or do they?

Furthermore, their ignorance of religion will handicap them. It is as though they believe that the totality of religious or moral arguments, or arguments made by known religious believers, are simply random quotations from Scripture (which everybody knows are totally contradictory) and then simply yelling them loud enough and intimidating people with them. For the substance of this argument, see Nicholas Kristof's article in yesterday's NY Times. Democrats just need to fill their rhetorical suitcase with some Scripture quotations and problem solved! The ignorance and the arrogance are astounding. The Left can talk about faith and family all it wants, but if it nominates judges who feel it is their role to be social engineers and at the same time limiting the expressive outlets for people of faith, and subsumes the responsibilities of families, churches and local communities into the federal government, then it will continue to lose because people of faith are not as dumb as they think.

Maureen Dowd's column in today's NY Times is the perfect example as to why this current breed of Democrat will utterly fail win the hearts and minds of the average American voter. It is because they really hate the average American voter. It is amazing that someone who claims to represent the ideals of "civilization" can't stand to live with someone who may think differently from her, or may have valid reasons besides bigotry and other deep-seated pscyhological issues for thinking or voting the way they do. People are so funny when they kick and scream hysterially like little children. Savor this one.

November 8, 2004

Rainbow Sash Update

As we reported here a few weeks ago, the latest Rainbow Sash confrontation happened this weekend at the St. Paul Cathedral. Read all about it in today's St. Paul Pioneer Press.

According to someone who was in attendance:

The three miracles that appeared to have happened yesterday were:
1. Father Tablot pleaded with the Rainbow Sashes to remove them before presenting themselves to recieve the Eucharist.
2. 50% of the Rainbow Sashes followed the instructions of the Father Ralph Talbot.
3. With Archdiocese and Cathedral approval, but not sponsorship, 500 Courage Ministry flyers were distributed after the 10:00 and 12:00 masses.

Come Lord Jesus!

Church Closing II

We alerted you a few weeks ago to the bankruptcy proceedings against the Catholic diocese of Portland, OR. The same situation is now unfolding in Tuscon, AZ.

Apparently, similar questions are being raised:

Parish property is believed to be worth at least $50 million, far more than the $16.6 million in assets the diocese listed in its bankruptcy filing.

James A. Hayes Jr., assistant professor at Western State University College of Law in Fullerton, Calif., says the decision on whether to include parish assets as part of the diocese "may forever change the legal rights of all churches" by giving civil authorities power over church property.

"If these assets are liquidated to satisfy the claims of abuse claimants, parishioners may literally be left without a house in which to worship," said Hayes, who has closely observed the case and a similar filing in Portland, Ore.

Hayes argues that without specific civil law governing parishes, church law takes over. Under church law, he argues, parishes are independent of the diocese, even though decisions such as church closures, pastor assignments and large expenditures are approved by a bishop.

Marci Hamilton, professor at Yeshiva University's Cardozo School of Law in New York, says that just the opposite applies. Without laws on how parishes should operate, the courts should turn to other documents, such as deeds that show ownership in diocesan hands, she said.

Just goes to show that the children of this world are far more adept at dealing with their own than the children of the light.

Evolution Gasping for Breath

Evolution's stranglehold on science curriculums is starting to weaken, as evidenced by a recent decision in Wisconsin to allow other accounts of creation to be taught.

Perhaps one of the most striking aspects of this development is the fear it is generating. As soon as evolution is dethroned as the sole acceptable account for our creation, people scream creationism, and make doomesday predictions of a new Scopes Monkey Trial.

Such fear mongering in the face of what amounts to nothing more than permission to raise questions about evolutionary theory, and discuss alternatives (a practice common in just about every other area of scientific inquiry) makes me wonder if the foundations of evolution are starting to give way. No doubt the strong showing of "religious conservatives" in the recent election is fuel on the fire.

I hope creationism doesn't assert itself with the same ideological force that evolution has, but some discussions of competing theories and world views in the classroom would be a welcome change. Who knows, kids might actually learn something!

Why I Don't Have My Own Column in National Review and Jonah Goldberg Does

So, yesterday, I tried to say something intelligent about the bigotry and ranting that the NY Times was publishing. Jonah Goldberg does an absolute smackdown on the hysteria of the Left. And brilliantly written I might add. Check it out.

November 9, 2004

UN Attacks Polish Abortion Ban

In yet another example of a Christian Europe that has lost its way, the United Nations is going after Poland, this time for their restrictive abortion law.

Reading straight from the NARAL play book:

The U.N.'s Human Rights Committee said in a review of Poland's civil and political rights that even women who were legally allowed abortions did not seem to be able to find hospitals willing to carry them out.

"The Committee reiterated its deep concern about restrictive laws in Poland, which might incite women to seek unsafe, illegal abortions, with attendant risks to their life and health," last week's report said.

Makes you wonder what sorts of "human rights" the UN still recognizes.

Cocoa and Oil, Chocolate and Crude

If you thought high crude prices were going to be the Grinch who stole this Christmas, you haven't been following developments in the Ivory Coast.

Civil unrest in the producer of 40% of the world's cocoa has sent cocoa futures to a five year high, raising concerns about chocolate prices as the holiday season approaches.

"With the new tensions, we suspect that buyers will be forced into paying a premium to extricate the main crop supply from the Ivory Coast," wrote analysts at the Hightower Report in Chicago

I can handle paying more at the pump, but don't take away my chocolate!

New Catechism Up For Approval

One of the items on the agenda for the U.S. Bishops at their upcoming meeting is the approval of a new catechism for use in the United States.

It will be interesting to see how the bishops have adapted the universal catechism to the Church in America. According to a press release from the U.S. Bishops:

The text follows the four-part general structure of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, starting with the creed and then treating the sacraments, moral life and finally prayer.

At times, the text addresses specific issues, concerns and questions arising from the social and cultural context in which U.S. Catholics live. Examples of issues addressed include various approaches to understanding the truth of Scripture, the relationship between science and faith, linking faith to everyday life and various pertinent medical moral issues.

The proposed catechism for adults includes 36 chapters. Each opens with a story or lesson of faith, many of them biographical sketches of American saints and other outstanding Catholics to “give us glimpses of how Catholics participated in the unfolding of American culture from Colonial days to the present.”

The catechism must be approved by 2/3 of the bishops in order to be sent on for final approval by the Holy See.

Drug Wars

One of the great legal battles on the horizon is right of conscience litigation. In particular, this situation arises when professionals are forced to participate in activities that they find to be in contradiction to their religious faith. This is a First Amendment freedom of expression issue.

One important case is that of Neal Noeson, a local pharmacist whom I've had the pleasure of meeting and is being represented by the Alliance Defense Fund, among other groups. What was once a local story has become national news. Neal refused to fill a prescription for the pill which got him into a bit of trouble when an indignant customer complained that he exists to simply fill her pharmaceutical desires, not regulate them.

Keep following these right of conscience cases as they work their way through the courts. As we "slouch toward Gomorrah" more and more folks will be affected by these issues in their place of work.

Episcopal Priest Hopes for the Demise of Christianity in this World

Gay bishops, Druidic worship, and now this?

November 10, 2004

Are You Kidding Me?

I know I shouldn't be surprised by this behavior -- and I'm not, but these two particularly egregious outbursts of fascist intimidation from the Left are just shocking. Yes, I know, College Republicans can be annoying, but seriously angry mobs and baseball bats against a bunch of kids that are REALLY in favor of tax cuts? This later incident, ironically, took place in my hometown of Apple Valley, MN. Interestingly enough, the Pioneer Press has removed the story from any noticeable place on its Web site (I couldn't find it after a cursory browse). Would it be the same if the victim were a Kerry supporter?

The Silencing of Rocco Buttiglione ... And Other Ominous Signs in Europe

I'm not ready to call the curtains on Europe quite yet, but the recent purging of Rocco Buttiglione, philosopher and papal confidant, from the European Commission clearly because of his "unorthodox" views, is an ominous sign. Today, in the WSJ, Buttiglione has a nice essay on the differences between Europe and America in how each treats religion.

It will also be interesting to see how "tolerant" Europe responds to violent Islamic extremism. So far, it has been an opportunity for nationalist extremists to burn mosques themselves. This article in the International Herald Tribune describes the situation in Holland following the murder of a popular poet by Islamic extremists. It seems the violence on both sides is escalating, and the cultured bureaucrats don't know how to respond. This is the whole problem with "secular" Europe. In its abandonment of Christianity, it has lost the resources to both dialogue and effectively respond with threats to its civilization. In this vacuum, they will either lie down and perish (as they did when they cleaned a 'thou shalt not kill' sign off a wall not to offend Muslims) or the more grisly elements in their society will rise up and react in uber-violent ways, triggering a broader conflict. Pray for Europe.

Some Very Good News

Are Christians beginning to penetrate the commanding heights of the culture? This development at Yale University is a positive sign of changing times, maybe even a "seventh age"?

Bankruptcy, Coming Soon to a Diocese Near You

Joining the ranks of Portland and Tuscon, the Spokane diocese has decided to file for bankruptcy.

I realize that in many cases these diocese seem to have no choice, but with the status of individual parish properties relative to their (arch)diocese still up in the air, there may be a lot of Catholic parishes on the market soon.

Another issue looming on the horizon is whether these bankruptcy declarations are in good faith. According to an article by Marci Hamilton (not exactly a fan of the Church's handling of clergy abuse) "The purpose of Chapter 11 is not to permit defendants to avoid lawsuits, but rather to permit reorganization of an entity in actual or potential financial trouble. If the sole purpose is the former, the bankruptcy filing is not in good faith."

It will be interesting to see how all this plays out.

Something in the Water?

I heard an astute commentator on Minnesota Public Radio mention this morning that one thing nearly all of the blue states on the election map have in common is they are near water. The Pacific, the Atlantic, and the Great Lakes touch just about all of the blue states.

Maybe it's something in the water? Definitely merits further research!

November 11, 2004

Chesterton, We Hardly Knew Ye

Here is a fun look at the recently uncovered writings of our good friend Gilbert.


Open Book chronicles the intra-premillenial post-dispensationalist (or whatever you call them) fracas about competing series of eschatological fiction "thrillers" that have come out from the same publisher. The author of the 'Left Behind' series feels betrayed that his publisher would have the indecency to publish a competing set of (fiction, mind you) books that challenges the veracity of the so-called Rapture, after LaHaye and co. made the publishing house all sorts of money. How dare Tyndale House challenge his corporate Rapture monopoly?

Taking the Gays Out of Gay Marriage Bans

As the political pundits sort out the sweeping success of gay marriage bans this election cycle, one theme that has been emerging is that ignorant bigoted red state dwellers voted for these bans because they don't know enough homosexuals to appreciate the value of solemnizing homosexual romantic relationships.

Of course the problem with this line of thought is that it assumes the bans are more about gays than they are about marriage. This sort of thinking makes sense to some extent. If you have already written off marriage (as most costal dwelling blue state political pundits have) as merely a legal contractual arrangement between consenting adults, there would be no reason to pass a ban in defense of marriage, there is really nothing to defend from this perspective. Thus the logical conclusion is that these bans are necessarily an expression of intolerance towards gays.

If, one the other hand, you still believe that marriage does have some intrinsic worth, and thus still has meaning as a social institution, its preservation is not so much a reflection of hatred of homosexuals as it is a move to preserve an institution that has already been severely eroded by realities like no-fault divorce.

How quickly the pundits forget that it was pressure from gay rights groups and judicial activism in Massachusetts that necessitated these bans in the first place.

There has been a lot of talk lately about how we can reconcile our differences after the election, but in the case of gay marriage, I see no room for reconciliation. Contrary to the beliefs of political pundits that education is the answer, the opposition to gay marriage is not born of ignorance, but rather out of a respect for an institution they have dismissed that is under heavy attack. No amount of homosexual sensitivity training will turn the red states blue.

November 12, 2004

Christmas ("Holiday") Creep

I went into the grocery store today to buy some ice cream, and came out with a striking realization. Thanksgiving is no longer profitable.

In the past, the consumer powers that be tried to squeeze another buying season between Halloween and Christmas, Turkey Day, but not so this year. When I entered the store I was greeted by Christmas trees covered with fake snow (we haven't even had one REAL snowfall here in Minnesota) ornaments, wrapping paper, the whole package. There wasn't a turkey, in sight.

I guess the reasoning must be that it is cheaper to change the displays once for Christmas and extend the season, rather than going through the trouble of changing them twice. Plus, it makes the famous holiday shopping season even longer.

Maybe one day soon the consuming powers that be will catch up with the Church, and have the New Years noise makers and bubbly out for the first week of advent. Until then, may Thanksgiving, and the souls of all the faithfully departed holidays rest in peace.

The Importance of the Shared Meal

Today's WSJ has a great column on the comeback of the family dinner. It seems this movement is based right here in Minnesota.

The studies show that having family meal time increases children's health and academic performance. I suppose it has some other important benefits as well. While it shouldn't take a scientific study to prove what has always been common sense, having data like this will continue to help the pro-family movement. The forces of cultural degeneration can only butt up against reality for so long. Dan Quayle was right!

Interested in Something Different to Eat This Thanksgiving?

A buddy of mine from Memphis whom I lived with in Rome introduced me to the concept of turducken. This is a Southern/Cajun delicacy that might make a great holiday treat as a substitute for plain old turkey. It might be a great Red State meal option in this time of celebration as opposed to plain old Plymouth Rock Blue State poultry. Chicken, turkey, duck, and slice of crawfish. Oh my! I have linked to a story that supplies all of your turducken needs.

Pro-Choice Groups Oppose Healthcare Choice

In an ironic move, pro-choice groups find themselves opposing healthcare choice because it isn't pro-choice. I know it sounds complicated, but let me explain.

The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis are rolling out a new healthcare plan, a faith-based health insurance program for federal workers in Illinois.

The only problem? "The plan specifically will prohibit payment for contraceptives, abortions, sterilization or artificial insemination."

Never mind the fact that federal workers already have nearly 250 plans to choose from across the country, or that several federal plans already place limitations on contraceptive coverage. The abortion advocates are already riled up claiming that religion is taking over the state, and this is a backdoor move to erradicate contraceptive coverage all together. Is someone scared? I don't think it's the Franciscan Sisters.

November 13, 2004

Chaput A Long Shot to Lead U.S. Bishops

Archbishop Charles Chaput, the current shepherd of the archdiocese of Denver, is one of ten bishops in the running to take over as head of U.S. Conference of Bishops when they elect a new president at their meeting next week.

Odds are stacked against him, as the vice-president, currently Bishop William Skylstad, almost always takes over the presidency. But Skylstad is currently the bishop of Spokane, which recently declared bankruptcy, so some are speculating he may not be as much of a shoe in as usual.

Chaput is highly doubtful he will get the nod, but stranger things (like a Polish pope) have happened.

November 15, 2004

Christmas Creep Confirmed

So I was at the grocery store at about 11:30 P.M. Saturday night. And of course, the pallets full of food are everywhere, and you have to navigate a floor cleaning machine in every other aisle.

The cashiers were in a somewhat talkative mood, so I asked mine if the Christmas decorations were up early this year. She said they went up 1-2 weeks earlier this year than they have in the past. Strangely enough, she found this early Christmas somewhat offensive, but her take on it was that the weak economoy prompted retailers to start the holiday season early.

So there you have it, Christmas creep confirmed. May Thanksgiving RIP.

Skylstad To Head US Bishops

The U.S. Bishops elected William Skylstad of the now bankrupt diocese of Spokane to take over the reigns of the national conference.

And in an even more interesting development, Cardinal George was elected vice-president. This means that when Skylstad's term is up in three years, Cardinal George will most likely take over as head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Where Are Those Islamic Web Sites?

It seems that every time there is a beheading, kidnapping, or threatening video tape from Iraq, the information comes from an Islamic website, but the news stories never tell you where to find these sites.

Now you can. Check out this site, for a rundown of some Islamic websites with information on each one.

November 16, 2004

Janitor Leaves Catholic School Millions

Okay, so he had his own dry cleaning business before he became a janitor, but Gene Morlacci's generosity toward this Catholic college will not be soon forgotten.

Keeping Abortion Out of the Choir

In a gutsy move that will surely enrage abortion supporters everywhere, Fr. William Cleary did the unthinkable. He asked the choir director to step down. Why? Because he felt the Massachusetts state representative was singing the wrong tune with her public support of abortion.

Way to go Fr. Cleary!

Planned Parenthood Attacks Franciscan Health Plan

Last week we told you about the pro-choice opposition to healthcare choice as it relates to a new health insruance plan being offered to federal workers in Illinois.

Well, not being one to miss an opportunity to attack the Church and advocate contraception, Planned Parenthood decided this was such a major issue they needed an article on their main homepage to go after this egregious affront to reproductive choice.

ABC Proves Janet's Superbowl Snafu Was No Accident

In a move that illustrates television as a whole and specfically ABC is indeed slouching toward Gomorrah, Monday night football was running naked women yet again.

I didn't see the segment in question, but according to an article on Sport's Illustrated:

ABC's "desperate" bid at cross-promotion backfired on Monday Night Football.

The network's steamy intro to the Philadelphia-Dallas game, featuring a naked Nicollette Sheridan jumping into the arms of Eagles receiver Terrell Owens, drew complaints from viewers and the NFL.

ABC Sports apologized Tuesday for the segment, used a day earlier to promote the hit show Desperate Housewives and broadcast just nine months after another football flap -- the Janet Jackson Super Bowl fiasco.

Where to begin? The promo is dehumanizing, the show is dehumanizing, and it is just downright depressing that this is the best entertainment ABC has to offer.

I guess I'm not missing much keeping my TV in the closet.

November 17, 2004

Marian Apparition For Sale On E-Bay

I've never heard of the Blessed Mother appearing in a grilled cheese sandwich before, but Diana Duyser has the 10 year old sandwich to prove it.

Now she has decided to sell it, and currently it's going for over $20 million on eBay.

Personally, I think it looks more like Therese of Lisieux, but she probably wouldn't command such a premium.

Frozen Pizza Features Fake Cheese

In a move that will make former Catholic philanthropist Rose Totino turn over in her grave, I just discovered the other day that Totino's frozen pizza is now made with fake cheese. I'm not sure how long this has been the case, but cheese is the costliest item on your pizza so my guess is it is a recent cost-saving development on General Mills' part.

What do they use instead? Mozzarella cheese substitute of course. It's full of all sorts of yummy ingredients like (water, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, casein, potato starch, vital wheat gluten, sodium aluminum phosphate, salt, potassium chloride, citric acid, potassium sorbate, sodium phosphate, sodium citrate, titanium dioxide [to make it all look like mozzarella], maltodextrin, magnesium oxide, zinc oxide, vitamin a palmitate, riboflavin, vitamin b12).

I won't even get into the pork sirloin hips that they pass off as sausage, but suffice it to say you can learn a lot by reading a label, and I think I've had my last Totino's pizza.

The Mysterious (Christian) Ways of U2

The always-interesting Godspy.com has a wonderful article that explores the depths of the about-to-be-released U2 album "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb." The author believes that this is one of the band's finest albums. It was further evidence of my belief that rock music can be a vessel of the Gospel (more on that later) and that U2 is the best 'Christian' band out there. Get the disc for your friends, and especially your enemies.

A Mormon Pro-Lifer as New Head of the Democrats?

This may actually end up being the most important victory of the 2004 election: the transformation of the Democratic party. Take a look at this article about the Democratic coalition in New York being splintered by African-American and Hispanic Evangelicals.

The Elevation of Minor Morals

One of the major themes of Chesterton's writings was the elevation of minor morals (usually matters of taste and hygiene) above the major morals. It was a greater "sin" to have bad taste than bad ethics.

The proliferation of smoking bans in private establishments around the country is just such an example of this pernicious trend. That brilliant sage Professor Bainbridge has a well-written article describing the ins and outs of these bans from an economic and political perspective.

It is amazing that we live in a society where men cannot share a smoke together in fellowship, except in their own private homes.

Happy Anniversary to Us

Believe it or not, It was one month ago today on October 17th that we first launched The Seventh Age.

Over the course of our first month of life, we have generated over 100 unique entries that have been viewed over 3800 times. We've become a member of St. Blog's parish, broken a few stories of our own, and hopefully given you some great ideas to think about in the process.

So how are we doing? We'd love to hear your comments and critiques. What do you like? What can we improve upon?

November 18, 2004

Do You Really Need a Degree to Evangelize?

In what is certainly a curious development, Cardinal Maida of Detroit has created a new degree program called the Licentiate in the New Evangelization. Never known as one of the more "evangelical" of the bishops, the Cardinal has been allegedly putting this program together for years.

I'm not sure this institutionalizing of the New Evangelization is such a good thing. What sort of classes do you take for this degree? "Putting Your Nets Out For a Catch 3212: An Introduction to Parallels Between Fishing and Preaching." In all seriousness, are we going to have "new evangelization" experts? Will I have to attain a certain level of institutional competency before I can be a part of the New Evangelization? I'm just suspicious of more ideas hatched from chanceries.

In another fun story from the current bishops' meeting, our shepherds have decided to can an initiative to promote bible reading. Now I don't know their reasons for this, and maybe the proposal was a bad one from a theological perspective, but the purported reason the bishops gave for shelving the initiative was that they were concerned about the tremendous amount of material that already comes out of their office, and didn't want to start another program as a way to alleviate costs. Now, considering what other projects they could have shelved, this just seems foolish. Are these guys reall this clueless? (Sorry, I don't have the link to this story).

Forgive Me Father, For I Am Sick

I know Jesus often referred to himself as the divine physician (Mt 9:12 & Mk 2:17), but the medicalization of sin seems to be getting a bit out of hand lately.

Take for example the case of Fr. William A. Traylor. He was caught viewing pornographic material on a church computer, but after some treatment from the St. Louis Behavioral Medicine Institute, his pornographic problems have supposedly been cured, and he'll be back in the parish in time for Christmas.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for forgiveness, but the notion that pornography is merely a medical condition that can be easily treated seems naive at best, and advocacy of an abandonment of any personal responsibility.

"It's not my fault, I caught the Playboy virus. These things happen, but I've been treated." Or in the confessional, "Forgive me father for I am sick, it has been six weeks since my last treatment. Over the course of those weeks, I have contracted severe cases of greed and lust."

Speaking of that treatment, Father Traylor noted:

"The therapy program has given me a better understanding of my strengths and vulnerabilities, as well as a new set of insights and tools to be a healthier man and priest," the letter said. "For the disappointment, confusion and hurt my mistake has caused, I am sorry."

Sounds to me like he really needs a good dose of the theology of the body, and the rest of us could use a little more confession, one of the few known ways to nip this nasty medicalization of sin in the bud.

November 19, 2004

Divorce Now Law in Chile

In a move that reduces the number of countries forbiding divorce in the world to Malta and the Philipines, (Vatican City is another, and possibly Andorra for any sticklers in the house, Ireland caved in 1995) Chile has decided to allow divorce.

I am continually amazed that our social contracting world is so insistent that marriage contracts be nullifiable at the whim of either party. I wish credit card companies took the same view toward contractual obligations!

But the silver lining, if there is such a thing when it comes to divorce, is that Chile laid down some pretty exacting standards. Specifically:

The new law allows couples to get a divorce only after living apart for at least one year, if both spouses agree, and three years if only one party agrees.

The waiting period can be avoided if one spouse proves there has been violations of marital duties by a partner, such as domestic violence, homosexuality, prostitution, drug addiction or a criminal conviction.

The law also requires couples seeking a divorce to undergo counseling for at least 60 days.

If divorce is necessary in a pluarlistic society (a debatable question in itself), the Chilean version is definitely a refreshing departure from the no-fault version that has destroyed so many families, and wounded so many children.

Democrats Still Don't Get Religion

After being soundly beaten by the Republicans on "moral values" you would think the democrats would do a little more soul searching, but with the election not even a month behind us, they are already back at it, gearing up to try and keep abortion legal.

The most telling part of all this, is their attempt to justify outreach to the moral majority without changing their positions. As was noted in an article in the New York Times a few days ago:

"Our platform and the grass-roots strength of the party is pro-choice," said Elizabeth Cavendish, interim president of Naral Pro-Choice America. The party needs more religious language, Ms. Cavendish said, but not new positions.

Hmm, more religious language, but no new positions. They really underestimate the intelligence of the faithful, and that will be their downfall.

November 20, 2004

The Cost of Political Prosperity

According to a recent survey released by Americans for Religious Liberty, Catholics remain the largest denominational group in the 109th Congress with a total of 153 seats, their highest total ever. Of those, 67 are Republicans and 86 are Democrats.

I find it striking that as Catholic political and economic power in the US has increased, fidelity to the teachings of the Church has decreased. When we were poor immigrants we built hospitals and schools, and looked after the poor. Now that we are wealthy and powerful we advocate for abortion.

The Judicial King: Subsidiarity Gone Awry

While our government in the United States is theoretically a democratic one, the increasing reliance on the judiciary to dictate everything from the meaning of marriage to acceptable physical education activites is erroding our democracy one decision at a time.

Case in point, the New York Courts are trying to decide if dodgeball should be allowed as a K-12 physical education activity.

Normally, you would think phy ed teachers, or schools, or at least school boards could sort out these sorts of "difficult" issues, but once the lawyers get invovled, subsidiary is out the window and judges, along with "experts," need to decide what kids can and can't do during gym class.

In this particular case, one girl's accidental fall may throw dodgeball out of New York, with many other states or students likely to follow or file suit.

The Inequality of Gay Marriage

Michael McDowell, the justice minister of Ireland, is already making noises that Ireland should legalize "civil partnerships," but with a curious stipulation.

While Ireland divorce law requires couples to be separated for a minimum of four years before they file for a divorce, the article notes of McDowell:

He said it would be unreasonable for Ireland to impose the same system on people ending a civil partnership. He said such people should be "free to formalize a new relationship" without waiting for four years.

Makes you wonder about the supposed commitment of these "committed relationships."

November 22, 2004

Be Careful!

Church can be dangerous to your health.

Bishop's Conference Wrap Up

The bishops are done meeting, but there are still a few lose ends to tie up. I was able to track down the article on the bishops' decision to abandon plans to release a statement encouraging Catholics to read the bible for financial reasons.

I'm not sure why such statements are so costly, but we here at The Seventh Age would be happy to write one and submit it to the bishops for approval, to help save them some $$$.

I also found it noteworthy that the bishops decided to focus in on three key areas of need for the Church in the US:

In the next group of votes, the bishops were overwhelmingly supportive of the idea that three themes — evangelization and catechesis, Eucharist and the other sacraments, and vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life — constitute the key pastoral issues the U.S. Catholic Church faces today.

I found this great news. Then I read the next paragraph of the article:

The bishops also agreed by a huge majority, 190-47, that outside experts as well as fellow bishops should participate in leading the discussions about how the bishops should address those issues.

If our bishops themselves aren't "experts" in these topical areas, than who is? It seems to me it is the "staff" and "experts" that have gotten the Church in the US in so much trouble so far.


You CAN speak authoritatively on evangelization, the Eucharist, and vocations, and we WILL LISTEN! No outside experts necessary!

November 23, 2004

Be Careful II

If the candles don't do you in, watch out for the armed robbers at daily Mass.

Abortion and Maternal Filicide

The latest Texas mommy turned murderer, Dena Schlosser, has reignited interest in mothers who kill their children.

While the media like to explain away these women as mentally ill, a look at the larger statistical picture reveals something is very wrong, that cannot necessarily be explained away by mental illness.

As the article notes:

Researchers, building on the work of Phillip Resnick, have shown that women tend to kill their own offspring for one of several reasons: because the child is unwanted; out of mercy; as a result of some mental illness in the mother; in retaliation against a spouse; as a result of abuse. Frequent themes are that they themselves deserved to be punished, that killing the children would be an altruistic or loving act, or that children need to be "erased" in order to save or preserve a relationship. Contrast this with the reasons men kill their children: Most frequently—like Garcia or Soltys—they kill because they feel they have lost control over their finances, or their families, or the relationship, or out of revenge for a perceived slight or infidelity. The consistent idea is that women usually kill their children either because they are angry at themselves or because they want to destroy that which they created, whereas more often than not, men kill their children to get back at a woman—to take away what she most cherishes.

In her testimony, post-abortion speaker Leslie Graves discusses how one day out of the blue, she felt like taking a knife to her body. It wasn't until years later she realized the source of these disturbing impulses was an abortion she had had in her early college years. I wish I could find the text online of Graves' testimony, as it provides great insight into the psychological world of post-abortive women. They know something is wrong, but they have no idea what.

I can't help but wonder what percentage of these maternal filicide cases involve women who have had abortions in the past, and feel unworthy of raising the children then have finally chosen to have, or feel a need to punish themselves.

This is armchair philosophy I'll admit, but the conclusion is definitely plausable. Anyone out there interested in doing the research?

Put Some Sparkle in Your Eyes

If you thought tounge piercing was hip, you are still stuck in the 21st century.

Thanks to technology, you can now get a star put inside your eye, to keep that sparkle 24/7.

But be warned, you may not get to keep your stars come resurrection.

November 24, 2004

The Wonder of Wonder Bread

The grilled cheese apparition we reported on last week has sold on eBay for about $28,000 to a casino of all places, spawning all sorts of rip off products and media buzz in the process.

Even the U.S. Bishops office got involved:

Sister Mary Ann Walsh, a spokeswoman for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, said yesterday that while Duyser "may be very sincere," the image sounded like an "optical illusion." She added that "the church is very leery of believing something like this. The sale on eBay is certainly curious." Asked if Duyser's claim nonetheless bore looking into by church authorities, Sister Walsh replied dryly: "We're not going to look into the wonder of Wonder Bread."

This just goes to show lapsed Catholics are the second largest denomination in America. You can bet it wasn't the Evangelicals in on this one, but rather Gen Xers and older reminiscing about hot lunch at their Catholic grade school.

Voice of the Faithful Leader: Time to Sell Out

In a somewhat ironic move, Archbishop O'Malley in Boston has put a Voice of the Faithful board member at the top of a committe to oversee the sale of Church property from the parish closings in Boston. I'm not sure if that's the kind of reform VOF is working toward, but they might have an easier time selling the Church than reforming it.

Toy Soldiers Back in Vogue!

Since we live in a time where there are so many choices, and people have so many things that we are flummoxed about great gift ideas, I thought I would post this Christmas list from the folks at NRO. It has some great gift suggestions, including this one, which was my favorite:

"For any young sons or nephews: a war toy. As my grandfather used to say: "Peace on earth and mercy mild, a commando set for every child." Giving war toys comes with an added advantage — the people it annoys, pacifists, parsons and 'responsible' physicians, all need, badly, and often, to be annoyed. Start with a classic GI Joe."

Forget Prayer and Fasting...

The new lay magisterium has done it again, feeling compelled to expunge the Church of all its evil. While I disagree vehemently with the decision to allow the Rainbow Sash folks to the communion table and think laypeople should make their displeasure known (generally in private), I think groups like Ushers of the Eucharist are disgraceful. Did they really find some priest to help them?

I fear that this only breeds sympathy for the gay agenda within the Church and makes orthodox Catholics look bad. For better or worse, people of a conservative or orthodox bent politically or religiously are always lumped together with their most undesirable elements. Think Falwell here.

The other ugly dimension to this story is the fact that the St. Paul police think an attempted exorcism could be a hate crime. How you get from oil and salt to hate is beyond me.

Let's hear your thoughts on this issue folks.

Thank you Mark Shea!

Mark Shea linked to our blog today. We are truly grateful for the advertisement.

Mark is the hero of blogdom, and the closest thing we've got to a modern-day G.K. Chesterton. If you are in the Twin Cities, come see him give the keynote address at the Corpus Christi Catechism Fund (founded by your favorite bloggers) banquet on Feb. 1 at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis. Mark will also be at the Chesterton conference at the University of St. Thomas in June, thanks to the prodding of our good friend Dale Ahlquist. If you attend, you may even get to hear yours truly give a paper, if that doesn't scare you off.

The True Origins of Thanksgiving

Keep the troops in prayer this year!"

First Amendment Watch

Would the ACLU defend a student who wore a 'straight pride" T-Shirt, or does it give free speech "strict scrutiny?" (Sorry, bad law student reference).

When Robbie George Speaks, We Should Listen

In this speech, Princeton professor Robert P. George describes the importance of the ecumenical movement in the culture wars. Ironically, we sometimes share more in common with the Orthodox Jew and the pentecostal preacher than the guy next to us in the pew. The speech reminds of the theme of Peter Kreeft's interesting book Ecumenical Jihad. The real question is where Muslims fit into such an alliance of conservative religious believers.

For Our Readers in Wichita...

No, you don't need to live in Wichita, Kansas to enjoy the bountiful goodness that lurks inside of Eighth Day Books. Plenty of gift certificate opportunities here. If you are like me, you might be glad they are not in town. However, I am occasionally pulled in by the gravitational tractor beam present at Loome Booksellers here in Stillwater, Minnesota. It's dangerous to the pocketbook.

Schall on Chesterton on Newspapers

The great Fr. James V. Schall, S.J. has written another one of his fun columns on Chesterton where he combines the wit and wisdom of the genius fatty with his own. Double the fun when the subject is the MSM.

Target Bans the Salvation Army - What Would Dickens Do?

Hugh Hewitt encourages the Target Corp. to pick up (what should be) its dog-eared copy of a "A Christmas Carol."

Just War Tradition and Eastern Orthodoxy

One of my favorite writers, David B. Hart, has this review of a book chronicling just war theory in the Eastern Church. It is sort of a fad these days for converts to Orthodoxy to extol the virtues of the vegan, earth-loving, pacifist Eastern church as compared to the war-mongering pope and his Church of crusader knights. For instance, visit the Orthodox Peace Fellowship. The Orthodox Hart explodes the myth.

We DO NOT Hold These Truths to Be Self-Evident

California teacher barred from distributing the Declaration of Independence because it refers to God. Sweet Mercy!

November 26, 2004

Introducing a non-theologian!

Greetings, Seventh Age readers. I, David Deavel, am the missing third blogger on this very fine blog. A stay-at-home dad and doctoral candidate in theology from Fordham University in New York, I also work as an associate editor for LOGOS: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture (check us out and subscribe at www.stthomas.edu/cathstudies/logos). I also write book reviews as a contributing editor for Gilbert Magazine, published by The American Chesterton Society (see www.chesterton.org).

Jason and Stephen often refer to me as a theologian, but I prefer to stick by the tradition of the Christian east--the only true theologians are the saints--John the Apostle, Gregory of Nyssa, and maybe a few of those other doctors of the Church. I'm a student and always will be; even if I teach others, my goal will be to provide only what the Church teaches when I write on theological matters. On other matters, you never know what I'll say--this to fulfill the prophecy of G. K. Chesterton that "Catholics agree on a few issues and disagree on everything else."

November 27, 2004

Christmas at CNN

I'm continually struck by the growing popularity of the word holiday to describe the pagan commercial celebration that stretches from the day after Halloween until the new year. So imagine my surprise when I read an article at CNN.com that used the "C" word not once, not twice, but three times compared to a lone holiday reference.

But lest any seculartist pagan holiday proponents lose their holiday cheer, l must report that a quick Google news search reveals the word "holiday" has triumphed over "Christmas" 11,500 times in news stories over the last 30 days.

Anglicans Still Having Marital Problems

You would think that with all the problems Henry VIII's marriages (and lack thereof) caused, the Episcopalians would steer clear of knotty marital problems, but gay "marriage" seems to be causing even more trouble, shattering the splintered "communion" even further.

Unfortunately, annulment of their consecration of a homosexual bishop is nowhere in sight, and the faithful, following the lead of African bishops, are getting out while the getting is good.

Some Intellectual Vittles From Christopher Dawson

Off and on, we will post interesting tidbits from Christopher Dawson, the main intellectual inspiration for this blog. Here is a great piece from Russell Hittinger describing Dawson's views on education and its role as a shaper of culture. In addition, I am also posting Dawson's essay "Civilization in Crisis". These essays are particularly poignant for the times.

Oh, and you might want to check out this two-part interview with Dawsonista Gerald Russello. A fine read and it hits on most of Dawson's major themes. It is a great introduction to this neglected thinker.

Here is another entitled, "Catholicism and the Bourgeois Mind". Enjoy!

More Dawson!

OK, so I sort of got excited about these fun Dawson resources I found, and thought I'd link to them for everybody's benefit.

"The Vision of Christopher Dawson"

Dawson Bibliography

The Christopher Dawson Collection at the University of St. Thomas.

November 28, 2004

The Price is Wrong, Bob

"The Price is Right" host Bob Barker has decided to use his game show fortune to bankroll new programs at the nation's premier law schools dedicated to defending animal rights. Interestingly, defending animal rights means to extensively limit their population. Here, Bob describes the situation:

"There are just too many cats and dogs being born," he said. "Animals are being euthanized by the millions simply because there are not enough homes for them. In the United States there is a dog or cat euthanized every 6.5 seconds."

I'm a bit confused by this concept of animal rights. I always thought it meant we should treat animals like people (at least the way we treated people before we started aborting, euthanizing, and cannibalizing them). It now seems that euthanizing animals is a great injustice, and protecting their rights means having them spayed and neutered. Does Bob even know what he is funding?

My favorite part of the interview described how Bob desires to train lawyers to "pass legislation" proteciting animals. Yeah, right. Any citizen can get legislation passed if they are dedicated enough. You don't need lawyers. These programs are going to train people to push a rather unpopular agenda through the courts. Let's hope Bob hangs around long enough to see the actual fruits of his compassionate philanthropy.

November 29, 2004

Advice for Would-be Book Reviewers

Just because it was fun and interesting. Go here.

Conservatives v. Conservatives?

The LA Times has this article describing divisions among conservatives, especially judicial conservative,s over the medical marijuana case (Ashcroft v. Raich) and the wine wholesaler case (Granholm v. Heald) that SCOTUS will be hearing this week.

The big issues are the debate between those that prioritize federalism, the libertarian bloc that prizes individual liberty, and the law-and-order conservatives who seek to protect community values and virtues.

The article describes how "the Right" is hardly a monolith, and there are strong disagreements among fellow members of the Federalist Society. To a certain extent, that keeps our discussions interesting and dynamic.

Continue reading "Conservatives v. Conservatives?" »

Abortion Polls, Sheer Rubbish?

I am skeptical of abortion polling, on either side of the issue. The phrasing of the questions is always skewed, so it is difficult to get actual results.

That being said, I think the country is getting more pro-life every day. So when a new poll states that 60% of Americans think President Bush should appoint a pro-Roe judge to the Supreme Court, I wince. How much longer can we let the issue be framed in this manner?

Unfortunately, Americans are horribly civics-challenged. I would love to see how the question was framed, and whether or not it implied that overturning Roe would criminalize abortion in America. I wager that at least half the country, if polled, would say that they believe strking down Roe would end abortion in America. That, of course, is simply false and the pro-life community has to do a better job of communicating this fact.

If the decision were overturned, it would leave states free to construct their own abortion laws. Some would have more liberal abortion regimes, and others may ban it almost entirely. But, from my perspective, unless there is a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution, it is a state issue. I don't find the argument that there is a right to life for unborn children in the Constitution terribly persuasive, although it is certainly a credible argument.

Unfortunately, the pro-life movement would rather have abortion outlawed in one fell swoop so that it doesn't have to do the heavy lifting of persuading its fellow citizens of its evils, and then passing legislation. Hopefully, the movement will pick up on the civic-ignorance of its fellow citizens and actually start educating folks about what overturning Roe really means.


A very funny look at the Clinton legacy and the opening of his presidential library, which some have described as a trailer home built into the side of a rock.

Super Size Me! Lecture Tonight!

If you live in the Twin Cities area, you might be interested in attending a screening of the film, "Super Size Me!" tonight in the O'Shaughnessy Education Center at the University of St. Thomas. The documentary will be followed by a lecture from the man himself, Morgan Spurlock, who ate nothing but McDonald's fast food for a whole month. He'll describe the myriad of health defects, including some psychological trauma caused by his month of Big Mac's.

As a McDonald's lover (I confess!), I will be very sad after I attend this talk.

Why C.S. Lewis Remained A Protestant

The invaluable journal Books & Culture takes on Joseph Pearce's claim that if Lewis lived long enough, he would have crossed the Tiber.

Catholic Intellectuals in the Progressive Era

Add this to books I'd like to read.

The Church of U2?

Another fun article describing the religious impulses of the world's greatest band.

Judge Posner has his own blog!


84% Oppose Freedom of Conscience??????

A few weeks back, we brought you the story of Neal Noeson, a pharmacist who is under legal attack for refusing to fill a prescription for oral contraceptives. Sensing the gravity of this issue, CBS has conducted a poll designed to show a public consensus (take note, judges!) that pharmacists must provide whatever legal prescriptions their customers request.

I think this poll is horribly flawed because of its simplistic language, and if you frame the issue the way I have entitled this post, you may even have a statistic result that is skewed totally the other way. I think the numbers are closer to the middle, especially because of the demand for contraception. This is a complete mockery of a poll.

Mirror of Justice has some worthwhile commentary on this poll.

Introducing Bryan Freeman!

I would like to introduce our readers to the writings of a good friend, Bryan Freeman. Bryan is a fellow UMN law student and courageous enough to write an op-ed column for the Minnesota Daily, the paper of the University of Minnesota community. And, he writes from a conservative Christian perspective.

I will be posting his columns on the site because he is a good writer and we need more talented pundits working in the field of secular journalism. I believe you will find his writing to be very crisp and on-point. And most importantly, think about the number of people he will be influencing and infuriating at the same time!

So, here is the latest describing America's Christian heritage.

Merton Dissects the Virtuous Humanists

Here is an altogether fun and interesting article revisiting Thomas Merton's defense of Christian humanism and his description of why secularists feel that they possess the higher human virtues.

It is sort of an echo of Jane Fonda, when one of her programs or organizations was defeated, complained that she couldn't understand why anyone opposed her because, "she cared so much."

Charity is Crap! Empower the People!

There just aren't enough words for this one. Glad to see our universities continue to churn out well-trained analytical minds. I will have to come back to this one later.

Chief Justice Scalia!

Kevin Ring had this op-ed in last Wednesday's Washington Times.

Rediscovering a Catholic Bestseller

I finished Robert Hugh Benson's Lord of the World this weekend and must say that it is written for the screen. It's episodic, dramatic, and full of great characters and a bang-up ending. Benson, a son of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Edward White Benson, was an Edwardian sensation for converting to Roman Catholicism. He was also famous for his preaching, in which he worked himself up from a quiet stutter to near manic flailing of arms, his historical novels, often dealing with English Catholics in the days when that was not allowed, and his novels of the end of the world, Lord of the World being the most famous.

His works are coming back steadily as interest in Msgr. Benson grows. A used-book dealer friend tells me he can't keep any of Benson on the shelf for more than a day or so when it comes in. You can get a new copy of Lord of the World here. You can read more about Benson on my friend Don Uitvlugt's Benson site here.

Too big for their britches

Christopher Caldwell's Casual Column in last week's Weekly Standard has it just about right. Caldwell thinks that the Democrats are driven by small-town people who think they are so much superior to, and have moved on from, small-town people generally. I remember my own attitude upon leaving Bremen, Indiana for college over twelve years ago--and it wasn't pretty. That was one reason why college was the most liberal I ever got (which still seemed conservative to the real rabble rouser lefties). Gradually I realized, thanks to conversion to Catholicism, that I had become a snob. And so my politics became again more conservative. Can one be a Dem these days without despising ordinary people?

November 30, 2004

New G-File!

The usual brilliance of Jonah Goldberg.

Every Liberal's Favorite Conservative

David Brooks seems to have learned the hard way that he was never going to get a fair shake from the Left, no matter how hard he tried. But this is a good thing, because it has given his commentary a freshness not seen since his days at The Weekly Standard. To Brooks' credit, he has always been a man of reasoned dialogue. His early Times columns were a bit watered down to at least attract the sympathies of skeptical Times readers suspicious of the new "house conservative." However, while still trying to foster a conversation, Brooks is getting more comfortable with the fact that he is not going to be able to get everybody on board, only the truly open-minded. Thus, his writing has gotten more on-point and interesting.

In today's NY Times op-ed Brooks keeps the MSM honest in their coverage of religion by calling them on their use of perennail straw man and "bozo" Jerry Falwell as a representative figure among Christians in general, and evangelical Christians in particular. Along with Nicholas Kristof's use of the Left Behind books as typical Christian theology, Brooks condemns the simplistic coverage of Christian viewpoints, and notes the fact that the world's most prominent evangelical figure outside of Billy Graham, John Stott, largely goes unnoticed. This article does a great service in the effort to get the secular universe to take notice (and respect?) authentic Christian viewpoints. It can also be a boon to Democrats and liberals in general if they seek to become a mainstream party once again.

Medical Mary Jane

For those interested in a concise summary of the legal issue in the medical marijuana case heard in front of SCOTUS yesterday, here is a nice summary by legal scholar William Watkins, who blogs at Southern Appeal.

The Media is a Gift from God?

The Financial Times 30/11/04

Making Roman inroads into the mass media
By Marialuisa Taddia

For an industry often accused of inciting gluttony, lust and the other deadly sins, John Patrick Foley has uplifting words.

The media is a "gift from God", and advertising "the most important form of communications in the world", says the Pope's communications adviser, adding: "I've often said that the church has been in advertising for 2,000 years. We call it evangelisation. We really believe in our message and we offer much more than a lifetime guarantee."

But in common with advertisers claiming somewhat less than two millennia of marketing experience, Archbishop Foley is grappling with the challenges of right here, right now. As president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications - a sort of media ministry for the Vatican - Foley sets the policy for the highest level of the Roman Catholic church, and its 980m worldwide followers.

Continue reading "The Media is a Gift from God?" »

Universities and Churches, Not So Different?

All in all, this is a rather thoughtful piece on "bridging the gap" across the cultural divide that separates evangelicals and academics.

Teach the Debate!

This article in the San Francisco Chronicle is about as good of an introduction to the evolution wars going on in public high schools, and now in the courts. While I am not as suspicious of evolutionary theory as many say I should be, I am annoyed at the fact that any challenges to the ubernarrative of Darwinian evolution must be squelched. Because the Left has bought into determinist materialism and evolution's supposed ability to explain "why" rather than just "how," even questioning the prevailing orthodoxy must be immediately silenced, less their own special Genesis story be undermined. I say, "teach the debate." Evolutionary theory has obvious holes, like the lack of evidence in the fossil record, so why is there such a relunctance to say so? As Orwell said, "smelly little orthodoxies."

ESPN and the Left or "Can't a Guy Just Enjoy His Sports?"

A growing trend in recent years, especially at ESPN and Sports Illustrated has been the subtle infusion of liberalism and anti-Bush propaganda. I try not to be a conspiracy theorist, but shaping the common sense of what I would assume to be a solidly Republican voting bloc of sports-enthusiast males toward a liberal perspective is an ingenious plan. If all your favorite sports writers are incessantly commenting about Bush's stupidity, then eventually hearing the lie enough times might convince you it's true. Fortunately, I don't think it works very well and in some cases has the opposite effect.

Case in point: Today's firing of Notre Dame football coach Ty Willingham. The headline for the story was "Only two black coaches left in 1-A". Rather than focusing on the football dimension, the story was about the chilling message this firing sends to African-Americans. Nevermind that on most accounts, Willlingham had lackluster credentials at Stanford before his hiring by Notre Dame. The hiring was largely a PR move after a number of pressure groups encouraged the nation's premier football program to hire an African-American. Now that he has been fired, the decision is being framed as race-motivated, and as the story develops Notre Dame will surely be castigated for not putting racial ideology over the interests of its football program.

Now one can make a credible argument that Willingham should have been allowed to at least finish the final two years of his contract and rebuild the sagging program, however, Notre Dame has just been lousy over the past two seasons. The vaunted West-coast offense has fizzled and Willingham shows no sign of recruiting the players or coaches to run it effectively. Hopefully, this will signal a fresh start and a brighter future for the program.

NY Times on Willingham Firing

More balanced.

"Why Catholicism Makes Protestantism Tick"

Mark Brumley, editor of Ignatius Press, discusses the writings of Louis Bouyer.

Hope in the Face of Judicial Tyranny

Basking in the mellow ambiance of the recent Conservative swell, it is tempting to imagine a turning of the political tide. Conservatives of all stripes can, after all, claim some effective control over the two democratic branches of government. Alas, our looming judiciary has a special gift for inelegant intrusions as evidenced by yesterday's Third Federal Circuit Court decision enjoining enforcement of the 1996 Solomon Amendment. We can only ponder the judicial contortions coming in February when the Supreme Court hears the Ten Commandments case. We are powerfully reminded that the wave we so wish to see is perhaps but a ripple of discontent, softly sloshing the granite flanks of a mighty liberal monolith.

However, in the interests of sustaining the will by means of hope (the Theological Virtue, not the secular humanist platitude), the following recent court decisions provide evidence of vestigial legal competence to countervail current judicial trends.

A Delaware Catholic school fired a religion teacher who signed a public affirmation of abortion rights. The teacher sued, arguing that her firing had nothing to do with religious faith but was simply another example of the Church's hatred of women. The Court would have none of it, upholding the school's right to hold religious views.

A Michigan public school scheduled a “Homosexuality and Christianity” panel discussion inviting compliant rouge clerics and ministers but declined to let a student express her Catholic viewpoint. The judge skewers the hegemony and hypocrisy inherent in “diversity.”

A South Dakota public school teacher was allowed to participate in after school Girl Scouts and guitar lessons, but not a Christian activity club. The school district’s claim that her Christian activities on school grounds violates the Establishment Clause is ruled discriminatory and is trumped by the teacher’s First Amendment rights.

About November 2004

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

October 2004 is the previous archive.

December 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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