Monday, May 31, 2004

Anonymous submission
Michelangelo may have had Asperger syndrome
More LRC picks
Detour on Easy Street
by Gary North
The economic forecast doesn't look good

Mr Bush: lying or confused?
by Charley Reese
My theory now is he's people-smart but book-dumb and may really be confused, giving him 'plausible deniability', an expression I first learnt from the 1996 blockbuster Independence Day, which I admit I enjoy. (Yeah, sure - a 1996 Mac PowerBook can 'interface' with an alien computer.) He doesn't read newspapers - his handlers spoon-feed him disinformation. I wouldn't be surprised if he could pass a lie-detector test.

Not celebrating the war system
Butler Shaffer on US Memorial Day:

Memorial Day weekend will soon be followed by the Fourth of July. This day – honoring the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a writing of a decidedly anti-statist nature – has likewise been co-opted by the war-lovers. Additional rounds of movies celebrating warfare will be made available to television viewers. The 1942 Bing Crosby musical, Holiday Inn, includes a July Fourth segment with a montage of bombers, naval ships, tanks, and other weaponry – with lyrics straight out of FDR’s "New Deal" – to remind audiences that what began as a day to celebrate freedom from the state was now to be understood as a day to glorify statism in its most repressive and destructive form.

You noticed that in Holiday Inn and were annoyed by it too! Three points for you. FDR himself is at the climactic end of that montage. Thought it was moving when I was a kid. Then I grew up.

Who killed Nick Berg?
It may have been a 'black op' by white guys
LRC/Spectator pick
Against the anti-spanking people
Evangelical Protestantism isn't my favourite belief system in the world and I've seen some truly frightening, sadistic, sick stuff written by them pro-corporal punishment, plus as somebody growing up with undiagnosed, untreated Asperger syndrome (my parents 'didn't want the stigma', you see - that's a quote verbatim) I had the abusive kind applied to me many, many times, but abusus non tollit usum. What finally turned me around and anti- the antis was the Christian practice of my good friend Jeff Culbreath in California. He's my age and the father of several young children. While staying with him I got to see the legit use of such discipline (well, in the next room, because doing so in front of me would have been cruel, and that's not what this form of discipline is about). He applies the principles of Dr James Dobson, a psychologist, evangelical Protestant and gentleman a world removed from the sick stuff I've read and experienced. It has its place - rather brief in childhood and, ideally, quite rare. If I ever am a father or stepfather of young children, Dobsonian principles are what I'll use.
From blog correspondent John Boyden
US military now trying to buy abused prisoners

Have you left no sense of decency?

- Joseph Welch, lawyer representing the US Army, to Sen. Joseph McCarthy, 1954
Interrogators in Iraq hid identities
Spammers becoming ever more obnoxious
Old news - when I still had AOL they'd get me with bogus IMs. Not a prob anymore with AIM. And props to my new ISP - nearly spam-free e-mail.
Some good news about RCs from Yahoo!
‘Gay’ protesters denied Communion
They were given individual blessings at Communion time instead. Francis Cardinal George of Chicago wisely followed the lead of Dr George Pell in Australia and simultaneously defended the Blessed Sacrament ('guarding the chalice' as the Orthodox say - I think at ordination an Orthodox priest specifically promises to do that), was charitable and denied the protesters the big ugly scene they so wanted in an attempt to make Catholics look bad, uncharitable, etc. (What a bunch of drama queens, LOL.) Three points to His Eminence. And once again, to quote a homosexual but Catholic friend years ago, no normal, dignified adult would wear a rainbow-coloured sash to tell strangers how he likes to reach orgasm.

Some bishops have threatened to deny the sacrament to John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, because of his stand on abortion rights.

An issue completely separate from voting for him if he makes promises for peace. (He voted for the Iraq war so voting Libertarian or staying home seem like good options right now.) And the bishops would be right.

Los Angeles' Cardinal Roger Mahony had met with sash members and pledged to offer them Communion.

Why on earth is he a cardinal?
From blog correspondent Lee Penn
Cardinal Law retains his curial posts
Lest anybody get wrong ideas, this blog is not dedicated to complaining about wrongs done by people in the Roman Catholic Church, but like the Fátima story Lee wrote so well about yesterday, this is too shocking to let pass unnoticed. So I was wrong in my comments analogy recently - the ex-Cabinet minister or general wasn't demoted to head of the colour guard. He gets to keep his real jobs too! Shameful. The man should be doing prison time - covering for predatory gays and pædos made him a criminal himself. Gotta love the irony of his name too.

LP: Those of you who read the posts I sent last week about Cardinal Law might have wondered about a reference to the nine posts that he holds at the Curia in Rome. Wonder no more; according to this story from Catholic World News:


Cardinal Law remains a member of several different congregations of the Roman Curia: the Congregations for Bishops, the Clergy, Divine Worship, Evangelization, Religious, Life, the Eastern Churches, and Catholic Education; he is also a member of the Pontifical Councils for the Family and for Culture. He remains eligible to vote in a papal election.

[LP: I think that the story includes a misprint ... without the extra comma, it should read ... Evangelization, Religious Life, the Eastern Churches ... ]

Count them ... 7 congregations and 2 Pontifical Councils.

Plus an honorary post as Archpriest of one of Rome's four most important basilicas.

Not bad, considering the Cardinal's "accomplishments" in Boston.

Kyrie eleison. [End.]

That a Roman Rite cardinal archbishop is a kind of co-director of all the Eastern Catholic churches can't go by without comment either. It really does seem like religious colonialism and grossly unfair to the Byzantine and other Eastern Catholics. The Melkite Church, that of our correspondent and native Syrian Samer al-Batal, has a patriarch (currently Gregory III gloriously reigning) who I think actually should outrank all cardinali but in practice perhaps not.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

From blog correspondent Lee Penn
On the interfaith Fátima débàcle
Also known as 'the accent-mark article'. Seriously, Lee has written a response to the scandal at that shrine and had it published in The Christian Challenge, a long-running conservative Anglican magazine. I'm not worked up about it per se - after all, it's only a shrine dedicated to an approved private devotion that's not really part of the faith - but like Lee am shocked at this apparent paradigm shift for the worse among supposedly conservative mainstream RCs.

Sorry this is so long - I got the whole story, not a link. But it gives me room to add comments in brackets.

Here is Lee's article:

Despite Official Denials, Fátima Shrine Seems Headed On Interfaith Path
Report/Analysis By Lee Penn
The Christian Challenge
(Washington, DC)
May 30, 2004

Ideas of "mingling" and "converging" religions are hardly new, but it is startling to find them at Portugal's famed Roman Catholic shrine at Fátima.

[Pop quiz: where is this happening? Grace Cathedral in San Francisco with Bishop William Swing, the Revd Matthew Fox and Starhawk the 'white witch'? The Cathedral of St John the Divine in New York, home of the Christa feminist crucifix, Diamanda Galas performances and the Missa Gaia, Earth Mass? Buzzzz. Wrong. No, it's Fátima, formerly the home of Vatican II-ified but otherwise good grandmotherly piety. I know it's in Portugal, not Spain, but ¿qué?]

Nonetheless, such ideas appear to be taking hold at Fátima, despite official denials and claims that hardline traditional Catholics are stirring unfounded controversy over Fatima. Even more surprising, perhaps, is that the trends do not appear to be opposed--so far--by Pope John Paul II.

Fátima is the site where the Catholic Church says an Angel of Peace and the Virgin Mary appeared to three children on several occasions in 1916 and 1917, giving them messages for the Church and the faithful, and calling all to conversion, repentance, and prayer. Two of the three Fatima visionaries, who died soon after the apparitions, have been canonized by Pope John Paul II. One visionary, Sister Lucy, is still living; she is a cloistered nun.

[I have a funny feeling that whatever she says about all this isn't gonna get published.]

The controversy surrounding the Roman Catholic shrine at Fátima began in the fall of 2003, when a Portuguese newspaper reported that the site would be remade into an interfaith shrine. Catholic officials denied the assertion, saying that the shrine will retain its Catholic, Marian focus.

But in early May this year, a Hindu priest worshiped his faith's gods at the altar of Fatima's Chapel of the Apparitions, and he clothed the shrine's rector and the diocesan bishop in Hindu priests' vestments.

Reporting on the Hindu service on May 5, the Portuguese broadcast news services SIC and SIC Noti­cias said that the Hindu priest chanted prayers from the altar, on behalf of 60 Hindu pilgrims who gathered before him, outside the altar rail. A local television reporter explained, "This is an unprecedented unique moment in the history of the shrine. The Hindu priest, or Sha Tri, [prayed] on the altar the Shaniti Pa, the prayer for peace."

[No good, my friends. Indifferentism.]

Additionally, the news report showed "scenes of the Hindu priest lighting a candle at the shrine while his followers [danced] outside the Chapel of the Apparitions chanting praises to their gods."

[That's not so bad - anybody is welcome to pray in church and it seems the Hindus were doing their thing outside the church building.]

The TV broadcast showed that after the service, each of the Hindus was "personally greeted by the [Roman Catholic] Bishop of Leiria-Fátima," who then "bowed to the Hindu priest repeating his gesture of greeting." The Hindu priest then clothed the diocesan bishop and Msgr. Luciano Guerra, the rector of the Fátima shrine, with a Hindu priestly shawl. The reporter told his viewers, "On the shoulders of the highest representatives of the Church in Fatima, the Hindu priest [placed] a shawl with the inscriptions of the Bagavad Gita, one of the sacred books of Hinduism."

The two Catholic dignitaries explained these events with rhetoric reminiscent of that used by Frank Griswold, the Presiding Bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church. Fr. Guerra said during the broadcast that: "These meetings give us the opportunity to remind ourselves that we live in community." And the diocesan bishop, D. Serafim Ferreira e Silva, told a local newspaper: "We don't want to be fundamentalist, but sincere and honest." The only Griswoldian buzzwords they forgot were "reconciliation" and "inclusive."

[How does one say 'pluriform truths' in Portuguese? I see the bishop has f-bombed Catholic critics of this spectacle and further smeared them as liars. Who exactly is passing out the mitres in Rome these days? Hello?]

A CONFERENCE sponsored by the Fátima shrine last October 10-12 demonstrates that the Hindu service was hardly an inadvertent event. Titled "The Present of Man--The Future of God: The Place of Sanctuaries in Relation to the Sacred," the conference was attended by an array of prominent Catholics. They included Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue; Cardinal José da Cruz Policarpo, the Roman Catholic patriarch of Lisbon; Fr. Jacques Dupuis, professor of theology at Rome's Gregorian University; and the aforementioned Bishop Silva, and Msgr. Guerra, rector of the shrine.

The event occurred at the Paul VI Pastoral Center adjacent to the shrine, and was opened by Bishop Silva. The rector of the shrine said in December 2003 that the meeting was inspired by "the reading of the message of Fátima within the spirit of Vatican II."

[Rather fitting in a way - the good Pope held the fort on artificial birth control, the only good thing he ever did, but was the same idiot who said 'the spirit of the times is the voice of God' and brought RCs the ugly, church-emptying phenom of the 'new' Mass. Grazie, Santo Padre.]

Adherents of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), traditionalist followers of the excommunicated Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, protested at the meeting site. Msgr. Guerra said in a January 2004 interview that the SSPX demonstrators "behaved very badly. Instead of listening first and talking later, they began immediately distributing leaflets."

But some Catholics will think the Lefebvrites had reason to protest. The Belgian Jesuit theologian Fr. Dupuis told the conference October 11 that "we should not refer to the other religions as 'non-Christian', since this is a negative term that describes them by what we think they are not. Rather we should refer to them as 'the others'."

[That's stupid.]

Dupuis added that "Christians and 'the others' are co-members of the Reign of God in history," and that "the Holy Spirit is present and operative in the sacred books of Hinduism or of Buddhism," as well as in "the sacred rites of Hinduism."

[All this can be construed as sound but would need a lot of ’splaining to make it so. God works where He will and there is a lot of truth in natural religion such as Hinduism. In fact, ironically, I think I have more in common with my practising Hindu and Sikh neighbours than I do with the average modernized RC. But to say the Holy Spirit operates in Hinduism exactly the way He operates in the church and its sacraments is wrong.]

"The universality of God's kingdom permits this," he declared, "and this is nothing more than a diversified form of sharing in the same mystery of salvation." Dupuis predicted that "The religion of the future will be a general converging of religions in a universal Christ that will satisfy all."

[Harmonic convergence, abbé? Hummmmmmmmmmmmmm. Six months ago I didn't know Jacques Dupuis from Pepe le Pew and now I rather wish it still were so.]

An eyewitness to the conference, John Vennari, a traditionalist Catholic, reported that almost everyone present, including the Catholic hierarchs, vigorously applauded Dupuis' speech. This occurred despite a 2001 warning by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican theological watchdog, that a recent book by Dupuis on religious pluralism erred with certain ambiguities and inadequate explanations relating to five doctrinal points.

[I've met Mr Vennari - as fallible as you or me but a strong soldier for Christ with an extraordinarily beautiful and vivacious wife too. They were married by the SSPX. Maybe you can just about have it all.]

The next day, Sunday, October 12, Archbishop Fitzgerald praised Fr. Dupuis' speech, saying the cleric had "explained the theological basis of the establishment of relations with people of other religions."

Fitzgerald averred that "The Church is there to recognize the holiness that is in other people, the elements of truth, grace and beauty that are in different religions," and "to try to bring about a greater peace and harmony among people of other religions."

[OK, I haven't got a prob with those words but is His Grace just blowing smoke?]

These novel statements on the Church's mission are significant, since they come from the head of the Vatican department in charge of inter-religious dialogue.

Many of the conference speeches were in Portuguese, but the speeches by Dupuis and Fitzgerald were in English. These two speeches were recorded in person by Mr. Vennari.

On the same day that Fitzgerald spoke, "Father Arul Irudayam, rector of the Marian Shrine Basilica in Vailankanni, India, rejoiced that, as a further development of interreligious practice, the Hindus now perform their religious rituals in the church," according to Vennari.

[Hindu services in a consecrated church? No sale, sirs. To their lasting credit, the bishops of the Eastern Orthodox communion of churches would throw any cleric who allowed that out on his ass.]

In his November 2003 report on the conference, Vennari accurately predicted that "it is only a matter of time before this blasphemy takes place at Fátima."

DEBUNKERS of the reports about interfaith excesses at Fatima have noted that stories of these activities have appeared in a little-noticed Portuguese English-language weekly, Front Page Online, and in traditionalist Catholic publications that are vehemently opposed to the direction taken by the Catholic Church since Vatican II.

But Vennari pointed out that the October 24, 2003, issue of "the local Fatima weekly newspaper, Notícias de Fátima, which is friendly with the Fatima Shrine," reported on the interfaith conference "under the headline, 'Sanctuary of Various Creeds'. The front page featured the caption, 'The future of Fátima must pass through the creation of a Shrine where different religions can mingle.'" The statement paralleled one attributed to Shrine Rector Msgr. Guerra by Front Page Online last November.

[Mingle? Mingle?]

Page 8 of the same issue of Notícias de Fátima ran the headline, "Sanctuary Opens Itself to Religious Pluralism" followed by the subheading: "The Shrine of Fátima Assumes a Universalist and Welcoming Vocation Towards Different Religions."

Notí­cias de Fátima then quoted Msgr. Guerra as saying that: "This proposal of coexistence - also in Fátima - of a religious pluralism is still embryonic. It's the first step. We are like the engineers in Portugal who begin by examining the structures of the bridges to see if we can trust them in the future." This assertion by Guerra also was included in the Front Page Online coverage.

According to Notícias de Fátima, Msgr. Guerra further pointed out that the very fact that Fatima is the name of a Muslim and Mohammed's daughter is indicative that the shrine must be open to the co-existence of various faiths and beliefs. "Therefore we must assume that it was the will of the Blessed Virgin Mary that this comes about this way," he was quoted as saying.

Traditional Catholics in opposition were described by Guerra as "old fashioned, narrow minded, fanatic extremists and provocateurs."

Church spokesmen have blamed recent controversy over Fátima on publicity-seeking by Fr. Nicholas Gruner, a traditionalist Catholic priest who was suspended by the Vatican in 1996 for disobedience, and who continues to publicly state that the Catholic hierarchy has ignored or falsified the requests made by the Virgin Mary in her Fátima apparitions. Additionally, according to the rector of the shrine, "the great majority, perhaps the totality, of the reactions received is the result of a long orchestration, centered in the United States, by people bitterly opposed to Vatican Council II, specifically to what pertains to a wider opening of the Church, with emphasis on the ecumenical and inter-faith dialogue." However, reporter John Vennari, who acknowledged that he visited the October 2003 interfaith conference at the behest of Gruner's organization, said that "no one from Fr. Gruner's organization had anything to do with the articles" that appeared in Front Page Online and in Notícias de Fátima.

[Sorry, but while Fr G has good things to say that few others are saying, he is an opportunist who's misrepresenting Fátima as doctrine in order to promote himself. A sideshow more like the televangelists than a traditionalist priest. And he was suspended for flunking basic Catholic theology - he wasn't under a bishop, his flag of convenience with the ordinary of Avellino, Italy, finally having been withdrawn after 20 years.]

And, since word of the interfaith trends at Fátima first emerged last fall, attempted reassurances by officials at the Vatican and the shrine have been undercut by clearly contradictory messages, and no one has denied or retracted the statements attributed above to Dupuis, Guerra, and Fitzgerald during the October interfaith conference.

Archbishop Fitzgerald described the October 2003 conference as "part of an ongoing reflection" on the sanctuary's "inter-religious dimension" in the Church and the modern world," and said that "there were no practical conclusions arising from the meeting."

Last November, he declared that "there is no question of the Fatima sanctuary becoming an inter-faith pilgrimage center. This is a place of prayer centered on Our Lady, and everyone is welcome."

But in late 2003, Archbishop Fitzgerald told Zenit (a Catholic news service) that "we must learn to journey together, for if we drift apart we do ourselves harm, but if we walk together we can help one another to reach the goal that God has set for us."

A large new church, conceived in a stark modern style, is being built at Fatima to accommodate 9,000 pilgrims at a time. The design by a Greek Orthodox architect, Alexandros Tombazis, has received the approval of the diocesan bishop, and construction is to begin soon. In a December 28, 2003 statement, the rector of the Fátima shrine said that the new church will be "exclusively destined to be a place of Catholic worship, located not next to the current basilica, but between the Cruz Alta and a national road and, when opportune ... can receive pilgrims of other convictions who wish to fraternally partake in our way of prayer."

[Bet it won't look anything like a Greek Orthodox church - oh, no, that'd be Catholic and they don't want that.]

On March 9, 2004, the Pope personally gave the rector of the Fátima shrine a stone fragment from the tomb of St. Peter; this relic will be formally placed as the cornerstone of the new basilica on June 6. Thus, the new basilica is proceeding with the highest blessing from the Vatican.

[OK, the big-money question: does the Pope know?]

In an interview with Zenit, published on May 13, 2004, the Bishop of Leiria-Fátima said that the new church at the shrine "will be a Catholic one, much like the Pius X Church in Lourdes. As with any Catholic church, it will be open to all, but the services held there will be Catholic." The Bishop dismissed concerns over interfaith worship at Fatima as "a controversy caused by a few foreigners."

But in his December 28, 2003 communiqué, Msgr. Guerra asserted that the Fátima apparitions included "at least two implicit calls to the exercise of the spirit of dialogue with persons of other convictions." These calls included "the message of the Angel of Peace," regarding the Oriental, Orthodox, and Catholic Churches, and, "in regard to the Islamic religion, in the name itself that God chose for the town where Mary would one day appear: Fatima."

[IIRC the apparition only mentioned Russia, which the unschooled Portuguese children thought was a woman, not a country - obviously referring to the revolution about to happen at the end of that year, bringing Lenin to power. No mention was made of the Orthodox or the Oriental churches. The name thing with Fátima is a stretch.]

It was Guerra who earlier assured an interviewer that: "We are very far from having Hindus or any Muslims pray in Fátima, except if they do it in private - not in public liturgies or other such services."

[Something about 'pants on fire' comes to mind here.]

Legal note: Permission to circulate the foregoing electronically is permitted provided that The Christian Challenge is credited and there are no changes in the text. To learn more about the Challenge, visit TCC's site. [End.]

Again: O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy.

And add whatever prayer you like to the Holy Ghost, whom the Byzantine Rite calls the Spirit of Truth (Душа Истины), as today is His day.

In fact for the first time since Easter that rite, used by the Orthodox and by Lee's Russian Catholic Church, resumes using that prayer today:

O heavenly King, the Comforter, Spirit of Truth, who art everywhere present and fillest all things, Treasury of blessings and Giver of Life: come dwell within us, cleanse us from all our sins and save our souls, O gracious One.
Your book and CD purchases through my links
This quarter's proceeds are going to New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia Russian Orthodox Church, Brighton Beach, Brooklyn (see 'Evangelism opportunity' on this blog). Спасибо!
Two important commemorations this week: today and tomorrow
Троица* or Сошествие Святаго Духа if you're feeling Russian. Remembering when Christ, ascended to heaven, sent the Holy Ghost to the apostles as He had promised. The birthday of the church Catholic, so happy birthday!

This is a day of at least three colours in the church - in the Roman Rite it's red for the fire and love of the Holy Ghost (also used for martyrs - blood), in English traditionally it's called Whitsunday because in ancient times it was the last day the newly baptized wore their white robes, and the Russians start using green vestments, as indeed Western Catholics do after Pentecost - that's where the Russians got the idea, from Poland. Interestingly there is crossover the other way - Poles call today and Whitsuntide Zielone Swiatki, the green holidays.

US Memorial Day
Dona eis requiem. The lives of soldiers are too valuable to waste on wars that aren't necessary to defend one's home.

*This is Russian Orthodox 'Trinity Sunday', not to be confused with the Western Catholic Trinity Sunday next week. Interestingly the Book of Common Prayer counts Sundays after Trinity, a feast started by a mediæval Pope, and not after Pentecost, a feast in the Bible, because the Sarum Use of the Roman Rite in mediæval England counted them that way.
The Day After Tomorrow

Speaking of boffo movie special effects...

Nice touches include the vice-president who looks and talks like Dick Cheney and whom the president asks 'What should we do?', the ever-beautiful Sela Ward and the reversal of Americans seeking refuge in Mexico. Also the commentary implicit in the rescuers pulling their sleds in the snow over a glass-topped shopping mall, showing how weak and fragile our society at its worst can be in the face of hardship.

A CGI-fest worth a matinee ticket to see on a huge screen. My only regret is I didn't get to see it on a wide 1920s screen, the way I saw both a revival of Blade Runner and The Matrix.
On the box
Mrs Miniver

OMG, LOL! Not the best movie I've seen. Multiple Oscars?! Fix! This was propaganda to rally American enthusiasm for a war that wasn't theirs, eliciting sympathy for England. Greer Garson was gorgeous, the special effects tops for the time (1942) and some scenes moving (such as the family in the bomb shelter during an air raid) but you'd think US and British intelligence could have done better. Like having actors for the main characters who actually could sound English! The one playing the husband wasn't even trying - maybe that's where Kevin Costner got his voice for 'Robin Hood'. Maybe not doing that was deliberate so Americans could understand or identify with them more, but if so that seems condescending.

The Minivers' house looks more like what the local squire might live in, at least twice the size of any English house I've stayed in, including ones from that period.

Other favourite scenes of course are of the village church, which spikes will see has a hanging sanctuary lamp and an altar with the 'big six' candlesticks. The scene at the end with the chancel blown away probably was modelled on Coventry Cathedral, burnt to a shell in 1940 (Churchill let it happen to stir anti-German feelings*), with the wooden bracing forming a huge cross in front of the outdoors behind it.

*There may have been a military-intelligence reason as well - the British didn't want the Germans to know they could read the Germans' plans in advance.
From David’s Daily Diversions
Big Brother watch
Abusus non tollit usum but this is still bad precedent and dangerous in the hands of the wrong people, which we on the blog believe the current governments of the US and UK to be.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Dump Bush in 2004
Why mince words?
Why The Day After Tomorrow probably can’t really happen
A potpourri from LRC
Let's hope it doesn't have the Protestant Truth Society trying to hack this blog to shut it down, crying 'No potpourri!'

Tying into this lively discussion about the American government schools* are these items:

High standards
by Charley Reese
This is good. I've seen similar tests from the period (late 1800s-early 1900s) and know I haven't got the knowledge (different from intelligence) to pass them!

Southern Baptists consider ditching government schools
by Steven Yates

From blog favourite Gary North, an echo of history:

Back in 1976, I was Congressman Ron Paul’s research assistant. I had contacts with other Congressional staffers on Capitol Hill. One evening, I attended an informal get-together in the Georgetown area. The host was a retired diplomat whose daughter worked in Senator Jesse Helms’ office. I had been invited by Howard Segermark, also a Helms staffer.

One moment in the evening’s chit-chat has stuck in my mind ever since. In discussing free trade, one man, whom I had never met before, expressed his view of free trade. "Free trade is when you stick a .45 automatic to the temple of some Asian and tell him, ‘Gook, we’re going to trade . . . on my terms.’"

I understand that's how the US opened trade with Japan in the mid-1800s. The guy with the gun was Commodore Matthew Perry (not the guy from 'Friends', BTW, in case Jay Leno ever asks you).

From John Pilger:

On 4 July 2002, American Independence Day, the Mirror published a report of mine, displayed on the front page under the headline "Mourn on the Fourth of July" and showing Bush flanked by the Stars and Stripes. Above him were the words: "George W Bush’s policy of bomb first and find out later has killed double the number of civilians who died on 11 September. The USA is now the world’s leading rogue state."

Lord, in Thy mercy: hear our prayer.

From The Spectator:

Applying US policy in Iraq to Britain
The analogy works

‘...We still have Charles Moore at the Telegraph, though. His column is pro the war.’

‘But that’s not true of Moore’s rival religious leaders. For example, Ayatollah Williams is preaching against the war.’

‘My own view is that we should have arrested Williams some time ago. I don’t see why the Church of England Triangle, around Canterbury, should be a no-go area for Coalition forces. Martyrdom is what Williams wants. Let’s give it to him. It’s time to kick some cassock. This is a society which respects only force.’

*Side note: England's 'public schools' really were that to begin with, in mediæval times - a charity for the public, poor boys to be exact, because they were Catholic. Eton's original full name is the King’s College of Our Lady of Eton beside Windsor.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Truth is not relative
A British district officer, coming upon a scene of suttee, was told by the locals that in Hindu culture it was the custom to cremate a widow on her husband’s funeral pyre. He replied that in British culture it was the custom to hang chaps who did that sort of thing.

— Mark Steyn (before he turned into a neocon?), Multiculturalists are the real racists, LRC over a year ago
LRC pick
So how again are school and jail different?
by Gary North
Putin wants Russian Church revival and reunion with the Russian Church Abroad
The Russian president meets with their respective heads, Patriarch Alexis II and Metropolitan Laurus, during the latter's historic first official visit to Russia

I understand he'd also like the worldwide attention of a papal visit to his country.
From blog correspondent John Boyden
Tom Clancy writes book on Iraq war
With anti-Bush Gen. Anthony Zinni
If we live as people of God, there will be room for all nations in the Balkans and in the world. If we liken ourselves to Cain who killed his brother Abel, then the entire earth will be too small even for two people. The Lord Jesus Christ teaches us to be always children of God and love one another.

- Patriarch Paul III, Serbian Orthodox Church
Ethnic history in North America
In the comments for one entry, about my remarks under an earlier entry (about Ruslana, this year's Eurovision winner) on Ukrainians in Canada:

The Ukrainian immigrant experience in Canada
by Terry Lys
I've fixed this link - thanks for the heads-up, Terry!

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Having their say
Vernon Staley in The Catholic Religion wrote two memorable lines, 'We do sums with our heads but know God with our hearts' and 'Heresy is the intellectual vengeance of a suppressed truth'. What I'm getting at here with the latter is even people one disagrees with can have something good to say, so on that note, from Juvenaly Martinka's well-designed Orthodoxy Now site, here is:

A nice page on the Old Church Slavonic language
Which became the liturgical language of the Russian and other Slavic Orthodox churches, their small Byzantine Catholic opposite number and even a few Roman Catholic parishes in Dalmatia, ex-Yugoslavia. These last are where I think Janaček got the idea for his Glagolitic Mass. They used the beautiful original script (page) SS. Cyril and Methodius came up with and not the later 'Cyrillic' alphabet of the Russians - it's what Russian looks like to people who don't know Russian.

The Cyrillic alphabet shown on this page includes letters even the Russian church books (which still use this beautiful, calligraphic-looking mediæval script) don't use anymore!
LRC pick
Patriotism, the new third rail
From blog correspondent Lee Penn
Kicked upstairs?
RC cardinal, leading figure in gay-priest scandal two years ago, given Rome post
LP: Truth is stranger than fiction.

In case you have forgotten about Law's accomplishments, read this book, a summary of The Boston Globe's coverage of the scandal:

Betrayal: The Crisis in the Catholic Church

And for details about what the [RC] hierarchy did about the scandal in the mid-1980s to early 1990s, read this:

Lead Us Not into Temptation: Catholic Priests and the Sexual Abuse of Children

And to see the story about the scandal and the Legionaries of Christ - which is highly favored by the Pope - read this:

Vows of Silence : The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II

[Lee has contributed these book links to the blog before.]

The sex-abuse scandal goes right up to the throne of the Pope; his newest action confirms this. [End.]

Bad prudential judgement again?

Lord, in Thy mercy: hear our prayer.
From blog correspondent John Boyden
Video shows Iraq wedding celebration
Hey, look, a distraction!

Bush’s Iraq policy to come under fire at summit

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

From The Onion
What do you think? Should Rumsfeld resign?
"Donald Rumsfeld can't be held responsible for the misdeeds of every last soldier who obeys his orders."

"Look, if we start by holding one member of Bush's administration responsible for his actions, where's it all gonna end?"

US gives up trying to impress England
Seriously, again, what happened is the sun didn't set on the empire - its centre simply changed continents, moving west. I was skimming a book on the 'special relationship' by Christopher Hitchens if I recall rightly and found out apparently it was Harold Macmillan who first said, about 40 years after the change (which happened after World War I) that Britain today is Greece to America's Rome, the headquarters of culture but not power anymore.

...And I hate to bring this up, because they'll just call me a warmongering meathead or something, but we're breaking our backs to bring democracy to the whole damn world.

Spoken like a real-life warmongering meathead, which is really scary.

England fights side-by-side with us, and yet they still treat us like they're deigning to form an alliance with us.

Uh, that's because like this blog, the British people for the most part don't buy this war. Tony Blair, colonial governor of Airstrip One, is sending their soldiers over there against their will.

Ask the rest of the world; you'll find a whole lot of nations who would want to be our friends. No, not everyone. But a lot of countries.

No, not everyone - like the ones that get invaded?

Bush posts classified ad for 90,000 troops
WASHINGTON, DC—In an effort to relieve the burden on his overextended armed forces in Iraq, President Bush placed a four-line classified ad in the Monday edition of 75 U.S. newspapers. "WANTED: motivated, dedicated, obedient people looking for career in growing field of nation liberation," the ad read. "90,000 jobs avail. F/T days, nights, weekends. No exp. necessary. Will train. Arabic a plus. Starter pay, solid bnfts." To further boost military enlistment rates, Bush plans to post the job offer at employment offices in 300 cities across the country.
As P.J. O’Rourke once wrote
‘That’s insulting to women!’ shrieked the old bitch
Or 'just because I don't agree with somebody doesn't mean I like the other side any better'.

I thought this remark from the nun was unintentionally revealing:

Michael Sheridan, bishop of Colorado Springs, was still a teenager when the Second Vatican Council issued its long-awaited document on religious liberty. Perhaps this might excuse his unfamiliarity with the strong statements on conscience contained therein.

Despite my and this blog's difference of opinion with the bishop regarding political strategy (not regarding the objective evil of abortion on demand), what strikes me here is the nun is essentially admitting that her brand of churchy liberalism appeals only to old people like her, not to the young.

Sheridan informs us that ... [one] must agree 100% with every teaching of the Church in order to consider ourselves faithful Catholics.

Well, duh.

The only reasons this lady isn't in the Episcopal Church are she'd probably have to find a job and the Anglicans' high culture, owing much to mediæval Catholicism in England, would offend her prole/Marxist sensibilities.
LRC/Spectator pick
The other side of the Conservative Party
Toryism doesn't necessarily mean jingoism, explains Douglas Hurd
From Virtuosity
All culture arises out of religion. When religious faith decays, culture must decline, though often seeming to flourish for a space after the religion which has nourished it has sunk into disbelief.... no cultured person should remain indifferent to erosion of apprehension of the transcendent.

- Russell Kirk, Eliot and His Age (Eliot was an Anglo-Catholic)

From Virtuosity via The Washington Times
Conservative Episcopalians protest ‘wedding’
What's wrong with this picture?

A conservative Episcopal group will protest a same-sex "wedding" taking place today on church property in the rural community of Leonardtown in St. Mary's County, Maryland.

The ceremony involving two lesbians is so controversial among the members of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church that it was moved out of the sanctuary and into the parish hall. The church's pastor, the Rev. Paula Halliday, decided to not participate.

The Episcopal Diocese of Washington is supplying a cleric to conduct the same-sex ceremony, which is drawing an estimated 160 guests.

But this same diocese that is having this pretend wedding at the same time has cheesed off Mrs Halliday, not because it's being done at her church:

Mrs. Halliday wrote the congregation, which draws between 100 and 110 people on Sundays, in a March letter that she was planning to conduct the ceremony, Mr. Naughton said.

"She got 53 responses," he added, "saying it was a great idea and [they were] supporting it."

But rather:

Mr. Naughton added that Mrs. Halliday will not attend the ceremony because of stress from the recent suspension of her husband, the Rev. Christopher Halliday, from ministry at St. George's Episcopal Church in nearby Valley Lee, Md. The diocese has forbidden Mr. Halliday from performing any priestly duties for the next three years "after he admitted to conducting an adulterous relationship with a woman outside the country," according to the diocese.

If they could change scripture and bend the church - try to bend reality - to accommodate the two ladies at St Andrew's, why stop there and not do the same for Mr Halliday in good Protestant fashion? No wonder the missus is put out. Sauce for the gander and all that.

"As clergy, we are given a sacred trust," Bishop Chane said in a statement. "When we cross that line, it's a very serious business. It does great damage to those of us in [the priesthood] and to the congregations."

I'd bet you one of those pretty gold-coloured dollar coins (the States' try at copying the UK's pound coin and the Canadian loonie but it didn't take) that if it were Mrs Halliday who was amorous with another woman, the PC folks in Washington wouldn't have reacted this way.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Putting the Bush Doctrine to everyday use
On the box
My linguistic pet peeves
'Blaze' for 'fire'. Overused. At work I take this word out of the newspaper regularly if I see it more than once that week.

'Pre-owned car' - say used! (Naff middle-class pseudo-'elegance' that fits Paul Fussell's examples of it.)

'Fresh episode' - what, will it go bad and stink in a week if I don't watch it? Say new!
Telemarketing firms seek Scots voices
From blog correspondent Dave McLaughlin
The face of America
by Thomas Fleming
America has had many faces over the centuries, not all of them lovable. The faces of Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett, sunburnt and wind-weathered, lined with the wrinkles that come from pushing a plough, always looking over the shoulder for an Indian attack, ready to kill to avoid being killed; the face of Sergeant York, the marksman pacifist who killed almost unnumbered Germans in a war he was tricked into regarding as a noble cause; the face of John Wayne who spent his life pretending to be the hero he never was, taking credit for what brave men like Jimmy Stewart and Ted Williams really did. (John Ford should have made Stewart and Wayne switch roles in The Man who Shot Liberty Valance. When Wayne received the Medal of Freedom, I knew the Republicans were as delusional as the Democrats who interview actresses about social problems.)

In the 1960’s, we were treated to increasingly ugly faces: the leering dull-eyed philandering Jack Kennedy, the grasping hypocrite Hubert Humphrey, the sneering face of the lying prig Robert S. McNamara (the first draft for Secretary Rumsfeld), the revolting anti-American ugliness of Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman, and—towering over all of them—Lieutenant Calley, whose moronic grin made a mockery of the phrase “officer and a gentleman” decades before it was befouled by the guttersnipe “actor” Richard Gere.

The public face of America has changed throughout my lifetime, like the Picture of Dorian Grey—with this difference: Dorian Grey had the sense and shame to keep the picture in the attic. We put our Rumsfelds and Kristols and Podhoretzes and Wolfowitzes, our Howard Sterns and Sean Hannitys up on the TV screen to show the world what we have become. God help us, because no one else can.

But the new face of America is not the glowering ugly mug of Richard Perle or the Botoxed smirk of the Democratic Party’s latest Ken doll, John Kerry. (It walks, it talks (sort of), it’s even more nearly lifelike than Al Gore.) It is not even that portrait of low cunning and sinister greed, the Vice President of the United States. The new America looks like Lynndie England and Charles Graner, a couple hatched in the trailer-court section of Hell.

Monday, May 24, 2004

From Inferno XV

Strip, pix, burn: iRaq
From Ecclesia Anglicana
Let’s talk about sex
Now that got your attention! Taylor Marshall presents the universal, unifed (yes, seamless garment) vision of sexuality as part of a Catholic 'lifestyle' and worldview. Sounds like simple common sense to me.
Jessica Lynch and Lynndie England: An American odyssey (pay site)

Lynch, England have become symbols of women in the military

A manufactured heroine and a real small-time villainess, both pawns - at least Lynch admits she isn't a hero.
Bill Cosby to poor American blacks: Stop blaming other people for your problems - and learn to speak English
Imagine the furore if a white man dared say this
From Gutless Pacifist (thanks for the blog entry today)
Is Iraq costing Bush even some of the evangelical vote?
Write what you like in several mock-British dialects
The Pope speaks

From The Rockall Times
US escalates War on Confetti™

Sunday, May 23, 2004

From blog correspondent Dave McLaughlin
Something good from Protestantism Christianity Today:

Why the ‘lost’ Gospels lost out
Recent gadfly theories about church council conspiracies that manipulated the New Testament into existence are bad - really bad - history

I understand from friends that The Da Vinci Code is a fun read for Catholics who know it's hooey - who know the real history behind its pseudo-history.
On bishops’ pronouncements on voting vs. Catholic common sense
Letter sent to The Irish Voice from one of this blog's correspondents:

I am rather surprised that Bishop Michael Sheridan [the RC ordinary] of Colorado Springs would base his teaching on a purely hypothetical model. So too, I am amazed that the press would take such interest in His Excellency's obviously moot point. Indeed, the issue has now reached the pages of this weekly. The Bishop suggests that Catholics who vote for a "pro-choice" political candidate ought to abstain from Holy Communion.

Given the timing, one would surmise that the Bishop has the presidential election in mind. This November, I will visit my local polling place and enter a voting booth. There, my fingers will move the lever next to John Kerry's name. Most thinking people whom I know will do likewise. For each one of us, there are thousands worldwide who wish that they could do the same.

However, I am confident that not one of us will vote for a Boston brahmin who proposes to end his opponent's war in Iraq by escalating it and has pledged his fealty to the Zionist lobby. Rather, we are voting against Bush.

Unhappily, the political center of this country has shifted so far to the right that we now nostalgically look back upon Bill Clinton's enthusiasm for union busting and the death penalty, remembering him as being somehow "progressive". However, perhaps a régime change in Washington would disrupt the machinations of Bush's neo-conservative advisers.

In reading the Gospels, it seems that Our Lord reserved His sharpest condemnation for hypocrisy, religious hypocrisy in particular.

He also showed displeasure with liars. They, He assures us, are the children of Satan, as the devil is the "father of lies". [John 8:44].

Such people initiate "pre-emptive" wars based on threats of non-existent "weapons of mass destruction". When such weapons are never uncovered, they shift the rationale. They state that war is necessary to end torture, while taking photographs of their own diabolical experiments and trading them amongst themselves like baseball cards. When the images hit the Internet, they feign indignation. They shut down newspaper offices and abuse journalists in the name of "democracy". They imprison innocents in the name of "freedom". They laud "family values" and approve the destruction of homes, either in Texas to extend a stadium parking lot or in Palestine to demoralize entire communities. They proclaim the "sanctity of marriage" and bomb wedding parties. They attempt to distract the public with a proposed federal ban on "gay marriage", while practicing homosexual rape as the lynchpin of their foreign diplomacy.

Ought a Catholic feel free to receive the Prince of Peace in Holy Communion after voting for such a warmonger? Peter Maurin, who founded the Catholic Worker with Dorothy Day, encapsulated Catholic Social Doctrine with his challenge to build "society in which it is easier for men to be good". I recall reading reports during the two consecutive Clinton terms that the number of abortions actually showed signs of decrease. However, it will continue to be more difficult to "be good" given Bush's spectacular savaging of the national economy. One would expect abortion clinics across the country to pay Dubya a quarterly commission.

Archbishop John Vlazny of Portland (Oregon) presents a more realistic, and I dare say, more consistently Catholic, approach:

"But if they are voting for that particular politician because, in their judgment, other candidates fail significantly in some matters of great importance, for example, war and peace, human rights and economic justice, then there is no evident stance of opposition to Church teaching and reception of Holy Communion seems both appropriate and beneficial."

Dorothy Day eschewed electoral politics and abstained from voting. Many of us, undoubtedly less heroic than Miss Day, have not reached that conclusion, although it becomes more appealing with each election.

For us, the decision is one between Abortion and the Antichrist.

Bishop Sheridan's Manichean and frankly partisan exhortation does nothing to clarify understanding of the situation. However, he can probably rest assured that we are voting against Bush, rather than voting for Kerry.

It remains the task of Christians and all people of goodwill to build a society which welcomes families and is safe for children. Rather than consigning our souls to hell, each U.S. Catholic bishop would do well to make his own diocese such a society.

Dave McLaughlin

From Yahoo! News
32 Iraqis dead in US raid on mosque
Americans start to see through Mr Bush
• Lord, in Thy mercy: hear our prayer.
• This was in a Muslim holy city, Kufa: get the feeling that somebody is deliberately trying to piss the Muslims off? Which is what caused 9/11.
• Of course it's being denied but it seems the American general in charge of Iraq ops, Ricardo Sanchez, may have been present at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison 'during incidents of prisoner abuse'.

The course is headed over Niagara Falls.

- retired US Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni on Mr Bush's 'staying the course', to CBS News in an interview to be aired today on '60 Minutes'

More on Gen. Zinni:

Iraq has old-school Marine regretting support for Bush
News from Palestine
One righteous man tells it like it is
About the Israelis acting like Nazis. Holocaust survivor Yosef Lapid seems like a latter-day Nicodemus or Gamaliel.
On the Ship of Fools board
Summing up Christianity in one sentence
I tried it - are you up to it?

Manipulation by producers on PBS re-enactment reality TV
Apparently it happened on 'Frontier House', just like trashy commercial reality TV. If it's true, very sorry to read that. They're still good shows, though.
From Ecclesia Anglicana
Jeremy Taylor on the Blessed Sacrament

The Chianti cassock and mozetta?
'Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!' ('Not the comfy chair!') I love it! Seems to be part of the recent phenom, though, of black American ministers of unliturgical Protestant churches adopting Catholic tat without Catholic beliefs or more important practices. Once read of some getting episcopal consecration from vagantes so they can claim apostolic succession, but along with all this there seems to be a real high-church movement that ends up looking a lot like Anglicanism.

One can make an argument that the kente cloth is a legitimate development/adaptation. Complaints - not enough buttons (looks like an altar-boy cassock) and the zipper is déclassé.
What I’m using
Spybot - Search & Destroy
As Homer Simpson's coincidental Japanese alter ego Mr Sparkle would say, 'Awesoooooma powah! Join me or die! I'm disrespectful to adware.'

Giving my computer's hard drive a 'lucky wash'.

My friends at LRC may think the phenom of adware is a sign of a healthy free market (I've seen them defend spam) but I agree with most of you that its creators and perpetrators deserve a lower level of hell than telemarketing companies.


Saturday, May 22, 2004

LRC pick
Camilo Mejia, conscientious objector
He's been convicted of desertion and given a similar sentence to Jeremy Sivits from the Abu Ghraib incidents - a year in jail and a bad-conduct discharge

From Tradition Day by Day, a reading for each day printed by Villanova University (got to give credit where it's due) that I use as a supplement to the office, rather like the reading with each nocturn at Roman Rite Matins, is today's reading, linked here in Camilo Mejia's honour:

We must become peacemakers
by Chromatius of Aquileia

This book of readings was a project of the late Fr John Rotelle, an Augustinian friar.

Friday, May 21, 2004

From The Onion
Rumsfeld: US to fight terror with terror
Thought it was Yahoo! News for a moment

RCs condemn metrosexuality
VATICAN CITY—Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said Monday that metrosexuality, the trend of heterosexual men co-opting the aesthetics of homosexual men, is strictly prohibited under Catholic doctrine. "The truly faithful will avoid the temptation to adopt this hip urban lifestyle," Navarro-Valls said. "The devout Catholic must remain on the path toward salvation, no matter how good he'd look in an Armani pullover, and no matter how much he might covet his neighbor's set of Williams-Sonoma lobster forks." Karl Weis, director of the New York-based activist group Freedom From Religion, responded to the ban by stating that "metrosexuality is so 2003."

LOL! To those offended by the above: Lighten up! Everybody got slagged here. 'Freedom From Religion' - it's true; that's what at least some of the liberals want.
From blog correspondent Lee Penn
Hindus conduct service at Fátima shrine chapel
I'm sure Hindus are wonderful people but that didn't belong in a consecrated church. Sounds more like the Episcopal Church - at least they still have Gothic cathedrals and choral evensong, not ugly churches, tatty plastic devotional stuff or stupid songs with badly played guitars.

LP: A knowledgeable friend, who lives in Fátima, has confirmed the main points of this story for me. The Spirit of the United Religions has taken the shrine of Fátima.

The critical boundaries crossed during the service that was reported in Portugal on May 5 are these:

1. Allowing non-Christians to pray at the altar of a Catholic church ... an altar that ought to be reserved for the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Divine Liturgy.

2. The decision by the Bishop of Leiria-Fátima and the Rector of the Shrine of Fátima to allow the Hindu priest to clothe them with with a Hindu "priestly shawl," a garment adorned with texts from the Gita, Hindu scripture. [Big mistake, along the same lines as the Pope kissing the Koran. Indifferentism, anyone?]

Be certain that - given the controversy last fall over opening Fátima to multiple faiths - that Rome knows what is going on here. [End.]

O my Jesus, forgive us our sins. Save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy.
From Ilana Mercer
Pat Tillman and the culture of death
Ilana Mercer: A nation that values human life is obliged to reject the culture of death propagated by the neoconservative dogs of war. To be genuinely pro-life demands that we worry much more than we do about the pagan and promiscuous sacrifice of fabulous men like Pat Tillman.
Pray for the peace of Rafah
41 Palestinians killed; property damaged and destroyed (13 Israeli occupying troops killed)
From Forum 18
Criticism of religious laws in Greece
I think I 'get' and accept religious liberty, but these pesky liberal Norwegians want to remake the world in their image, much like the neocons want to do to Iraq. We non-practising Lutherans know what's good for you, Stavros; now eat this lutefisk.

They have a point, though. Greece is the only country in the world where Eastern Orthodoxy is the state religion. I've never been there but have heard from people who have, including acquaintance Archimandrite Serge (Keleher), that it's a typical religiously indifferent Mediterranean country where only a tiny minority actually go to church every week - rather like Norway I imagine. So while Byzantine-style symphonia between throne and altar may be an option that can work, one may ask if it really does work in this case.

In other news from that sunny land, I understand the primate of Greece, Archbishop Christodoulos, has conceded to Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople in that silly power-play over a few Greek dioceses the patriarch still owns. Good. Some battles just aren't worth it.
LRC pick
Rush Limbaugh and Lynndie England, the odd couple
Gary North on the death of Republican politics
As I like to say of this blog, think Russell Kirk, not Rush Limbaugh

Rev. Talleyrand, the most famous survivor of the French Revolution

Lesson in Catholic theology here re: the apostolic ministry. If Peter baptizes, Christ baptizes; if Judas baptizes, Christ baptizes. Or ordains. Talleyrand, a bishop, was a stone atheist much of his life yet the Catholic bishops of France today get their apostolic succession through his 'line'! (And yesterday, I imagine, Marcel Lefebvre of blessed memory.) He was rightfully in office using the church's prescribed ritual to do what the church, not Talleyrand, intended.

He (Limbaugh) is a master of ridicule.

A two-edged sword that, something that easily can become sinful. There's a lesson here.

At this point, Bush is protected by the perception that he is not too bright, which is not the case. He got through Yale University and Harvard Business School. His problem is not a low IQ. He, like Clinton, can remember everyone's name. He is no dummy.

Interesting point and something I'm willing to consider and concede - from the account I read, I think in Newsweek, of his time at Yale, it seems he's one of those guys who's not book-smart (or pretends he's not to get some advantage, maybe a reverse-snobbery thing, like his accent exaggerated when he says things like 'nucular' for nuclear) but socially savvy when he wants to be, glad-handing, remembering everybody's name and being elected president of his fraternity.
The apostolate to the Russians in Brooklyn
The new church of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in Brooklyn, New York I described earlier in 'Evangelism opportunity' has a website (in Russian), Russian Orthodox Church of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, and its own newspaper among the many Russian-language ones available there, Православная Газета. One item among many of note about this booming apostolate to immigrants: the site says both their church and their Церковный Киоск (church shop for icons, etc.) are open every day! That's a lot of work. Props to Fr George Kallaur and community for this holy endeavour. I'm sure they'd welcome a donation; the address is on their site.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Soviet interrogation tactics ... and ours
by Lee Penn
Sounds like this is worth taking more seriously than Red Dawn.

LP: I recently got a Cold War book, written in 1984 by Robert Conquest and Jon Manchip White, titled What to Do When the Russians Come: A Survivor's Guide. It describes what would happen to the US in the event of an enemy takeover, and is based on the historical experience of the Baltic Republics and Eastern Europe under Soviet rule. (Robert Conquest is a well-known historian of Communism and its crimes).

On page 41, the book says:

The Soviet secret police use three main methods to obtain confessions. If you are, as is unlikely, important enought to be marked down for a show trial, the long-term system of breaking your personality, which has become known as 'brainwashing,' will be applied. This involves a minimum of about three months with every possible physical and psychological pressure. especially inadequate food, inadequate sleep, inadequare warmth, and constant interrogation. Evzen Loebl, one of the Czech prisoners who confessed in the notorious Slansky trial and had the luck not to be hanged, describes having to be on his feet eighteen hours a day, of which sixteen were under interrogation, and during the six-hour sleep period having to get up and report every ten minutes when the warden banged on the door. After two or three weeks, he ached all over, and even washing became a torture. Finally he confessed and was allowed food and rest, but by this time, as he put it, 'I was quite a normal person - only I was no longer a person.'

The chances, however, are that you will be made to confess by more time-saving methods. These are (often in combination) beating and the 'conveyor' (that is, continuous interrogation without sleep for periods of five or six days). These methods are not infallible, and there always have been a few prisoners whom they did not break (and many more who, although confessing under these pressures, repudiated the confession when they recovered.)

Compare these tactics with what is now being reported from Afghanistan, Iraq, other CIA prisons and Guantánamo Bay. Recall that some of the soldiers involved in the abuse are prison guards in the US.

My conclusion: when totalitarianism comes to America, there will be plenty of recruits for the jobs of camp guards and interrogators. And these recruits will have highly experienced trainers to teach them what Atlantic Monthly has called "the dark art of interrogation."

(Revisit the articles, if you wish:

The Atlantic | October 2003 | The Dark Art of Interrogation | Bowden


Atlantic Unbound | Interviews | 2003.09.11) [End.]
Anonymous submission
History’s fools
In the wake of Iraq, the term 'neoconservative' may come to mean 'dangerous innocence about world realities'
From Meletao
Another example of how evangelical Protestant worship goes wrong
Contrasted with the humility and objectivity of Catholic worship in the Christian East
From blog correspondent Lee Penn
‘Diogenes’ on the inversion of forgiveness by guilty RC bishops

Healing & Forgiveness: a Primer

Object lesson

A priest convicted of public indecency last year is returning to the ministry next week, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati announced today. ... Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk reaffirmed that the church demands and that he expects priests to live in celibate chastity. However, he noted, the Gospel also calls for healing and forgiveness.


Case A: Say my neighbor's children, not liking the sound of my last name, pitch rocks through my living room window and yell insults. My sons grab baseball bats and start to head out the door to thrash the aggressors. I stop them and remind them that the Gospel calls for forgiveness, and as Christians we should not only forswear vengeance for wrongs suffered but accept injuries as a step toward reconciliation.

Case B: My children, not liking the sound of my neighbor's last name, pitch rocks through his living room window and yell insults at him. When my neighbor comes over to complain of my sons' mischief and asks that I punish them and pay for their damage, I tell him that the Gospel calls for healing and forgiveness, and insinuate that it is un-Christian of him to seek retribution.

Got the picture, Excellency? Now follow me closely here: Case A is GOOD. Case B is NOT GOOD. For a Christian, forgiveness is something the injured party freely offers the man who inflicts the injury, not an obligation the injurer exacts from the man he injured.

Now comes the tricky part, the conclusion few bishops seem able to grasp: if I use my Roman collar to gain your son's trust and then rape him, it's NOT GOOD for me to lecture you on your duty of forgiveness and reconciliation. And the same goes for priests who harm the faithful by gross displays of deviant sexuality.

Would a puppet show help make the point clear?

LP: Diogenes hit the target, again.
On-line Religion Discursus
The beautiful new blog of my good friend and Anglican Central Churchman Angloid
From Yahoo! News via Dave McLaughlin
Irish bishop questions Bush visit
From via LRC
The hypocrisy of forcing modern American ways onto Iraq
by Pat Buchanan
Wake up, Protestant religious right and your RC fellow-travellers - by supporting this war you're supporting everything you hate in America and persecuting fellow believers in the God of Abraham.

"So, how do we advance the cause of female emancipation in the Muslim world?" asks Richard Perle in An End to Evil. He replies, "We need to remind the women of Islam ceaselessly: Our enemies are the same as theirs; our victory will be theirs as well."

Oh, yes, 'the white man's burden'. See, the neocons and Hillary Clinton - 'we Methodists know what's good for you (Third World people)' - are on the same team. They're not conservatives. This is a meddling liberal 'do-gooder' crusade - like Vietnam.

In June 2002 at West Point, President Bush said, "Moral truth is the same in every culture, in every time and in every place."

Stopped clock, you know.

...conservative Americans have more in common with devout Muslims than with liberal Democrats.

What some of us view as the moral descent of a great and godly republic into imperial decadence, neocons see as their big chance to rule the world.

If he
(Mr Bush) intends to impose the values of MTV America on the Muslim world in the name of a "world democratic revolution," he will provoke and incite a war of civilizations America cannot win because Americans do not want to fight it. This may be the neocons' war. It is not our war.

When Bush speaks of freedom as God's gift to humanity, does he mean the First Amendment freedom of Larry Flynt to produce pornography and of Salman Rushdie to publish The Satanic Verses, a book considered blasphemous to the Islamic faith?

Yes, if they stopped to think about it, what would the Protestant religious right and their friends make of the campaign to bring Hustler to the Muslim world? I'm libertarian on the First Amendment because the freedom that protects Mr Flynt protects me while at the same I say it's the church's job to spread the truth and tell its people and anybody else who'll listen that, er, using Mr F's product is a mortal sin.

When the president speaks of freedom, does he mean the First Amendment prohibition against our children reading the Bible and being taught the Ten Commandments in school?

OK, for the reason given above here's where Pat and I part ways in our opinions/prudential judgement. Kids can and should be taught those things in school - in religious schools and home schools. If one sees government schools as necessary - and there are real conservatives who don't - keep them secular to protect everybody's freedom, including Catholics. One reason immigrants started the RC school system Mr Buchanan grew up with was the government schools were trying to force Protestantism down their kids' throats as the de facto American state religion. 'We Methodists know what's good for you, Giuseppe.' Liberals still love the government schools, too, only PCness has replaced the King James Bible.

Unfortunately, Pagan America of 2004 has far less to offer the world in cultural fare than did Christian America of 1954. Many of the movies, books, magazines, TV shows, videos and much of the music we export to the world are as poisonous as the narcotics the Royal Navy forced on the Chinese people in the Opium Wars.

A society that accepts the killing of a third of its babies as women's "emancipation," that considers homosexual marriage to be social progress, that hands out contraceptives to 13-year-old girls at junior high ought to be seeking out a confessional – better yet, an exorcist – rather than striding into a pulpit like Elmer Gantry to lecture mankind on the superiority of "American values."

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

From blog correspondent Dave McLaughlin
Bush’s failed Mideast policy is creating more terrorism
by US Senator Ernest Hollings, South Carolina
DM: Courage!
From blog correspondent Dave McLaughlin
Shocking details on abuse of Reuters staffers in Iraq
Well put
The beauty of Orthodox services
Amid the bragging and uncharitable and sometimes unfair bashing of all western Catholicism are these gold nuggets:

The Orthodox Liturgy was actually more "Catholic" than any Catholic (the writer means modern RC) Mass I have ever attended... many times more reverent without being stiff...

Yes, it is. And:

I am convinced that most Roman Catholics if they were to be raised from the dead today would feel more at home in an Orthodox Liturgy than they would at any Modern Roman Mass (not to be confused with the Roman Mass).

From blog correspondent Dave McLaughlin
US cardinal: Bush ‘moral failure’ in Iraq

US reportedly kills 40 Iraqis at party
From Yahoo! News
justice is served:

US soldier sentenced to year in jail, reduction in rank and bad-conduct discharge for prisoner abuse in Iraq
From blog visitor Terry Lys
Cute Ukrainian pop singer wins Eurovision 2004 in Istanbul
Mr Lys, a Canadian, ethnic Ukrainian and Ukrainian Catholic, describes Ruslana as 'a burst of Slavic energy'. Made fun of in The Rockall Times, the contest is where Abba got started (take that any way you like). Maybe she'll be the Agnetha Faltskög of the Oughties.

BTW, HM Dominion has more ethnic Ukrainians than the States - they got to farm (like in the Ukraine, but maybe better) in their Midwest too, the Prairie Provinces, rather than work in coal mines and steel mills like their southern neighbours.
On the box
On ‘Colonial House’ last night
The re-created 1628 colony’s governor, Jeff Wyers, in real life a Baptist minister in Texas, and his family had to go home when his daughter’s fiancé was killed in a car crash. In this episode he came back to the project and described the only way he was staying in touch with his family - their reading the same passages in the Bible (I think a psalm and a selection from Proverbs) every day. The narrator then said one of Massachusetts’ first governors, the Puritan John Winthrop, did the same thing to stay connected to his family in England - ‘synchronized prayer’. So then and now, history repeats itself - Protestants reinvent/rediscover liturgical prayer, specifically the Catholic practice of praying the office!

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

From blog correspondent Lee Penn
On the limits of patriotism
by Pope Pius XI
Patriotism - the stimulus of so many virtues and of so many noble acts of heroism when kept within the bounds of the law of Christ - becomes merely an occasion, an added incentive to grave injustice when true love of country is debased to the condition of an extreme nationalism, when we forget that all men are our brothers and members of the same great human family, that other nations have an equal right with us both to life and to prosperity, that it is never lawful nor even wise, to dissociate morality from the affairs of practical life, that, in the last analysis, it is "justice which exalteth a nation: but sin maketh nations miserable." (Proverbs xiv, 34)
From Samer al-Batal in Beirut
From The American Conservative:
Forgotten Christians
Not all displaced Palestinians are Muslims

And two from Touchstone:
Please me, O Lord
S.M. Hutchens on the roots of romantic worship
S. al-B.: The Evangelical Protestant religious forecast: imbibing the feminine and infantile.

How Evangelicalism, once cut loose from Catholic, objective, liturgical worship including common prayer, has degenerated into sentimentality and finally, well, at least unintentional erotic entertainment.

A former friend once told me a story very like this article's first one. There was an American college chapel that consisted of an unholy alliance between the quisling liberal RCs of the chaplaincy and the charismatic, would-be Protestant evangelical group that recruited kids on campus for its 'covenant community' cult nearby. (The former were political liberals; the latter quite socially conservative in the gauche, nasty way evangelicals can be. It was an odd marriage, as were the ones arranged between cult members.) Anyway, one day one of the girls in the latter who also worked in the office of the former (that happened a lot) did some 'liturgical dance' in the chapel - a nubile young lady of Italian heritage wearing a leotard and no foundation garments. One can assume some of the young men (and the not-young men of the chaplaincy itself) at the performance experienced some, er, spiritual growth. Yeah, baby - praise Jesus!

Men don't like sissy religion. Some forms of Christianity - the rigorism and unsentimentality of many Eastern Orthodox, especially the monks, or the basic, no-nonsense Mass-and-office approach of some Anglicans - are masculine, and I think the former may attract men for the challenge much like the US Marine Corps, the toughest, least watered-down service in the American military, has no problem recruiting. (Perhaps a reason why Princes Philip and Charles like staying on Mount Athos.) The sentimentality and even misplaced sexuality described have infected some Roman Catholics historically though - the unliturgical devotional stuff like 1890s novena hymns (really rewarmed saloon ballads as Thomas Day said) could get gooey and some of the art and prayers make it seem like Jesus is one's boyfriend! He stares out of some holy cards as if on the cover of a Harlequin romance.

To be fair, the Romantic movement historically was a healthy reaction to the Industrial Revolution and helped fuel the Anglo-Catholic movement, itself partly a reaction too. (Pre-Raphaelite painting, mediævalism in architecture, etc.) And even the hippies, a kind of later romantic revolution, had a similar point reacting against the coldness of 1950s-style modernity, for all their failings (perhaps from forgetting or never learning that human nature, while still good, is fallen). And Catholic worship of course uses the senses and is, in a holy sense, entertaining.

I'm not big on the 'headship' thing alluded to - seems like a Protestant thing. The sexes are equal but complementary, just like the CEO of a Fortune 500 company and I are equal in worth before God but have different strengths and different duties. God made strong women and they're great, but will agree that in a relationship, even one of such equals, somebody's in charge, and for the happiness of all it should be the man. Forget feminism - I think most healthy women will agree when they're being honest. They want a strong, not abusive man who can take care of them when the going gets tough.

Samer didn't think this was blogworthy, but I disagree. Here's an interesting look at both the history and recent developments in the Old Catholic communion based in Utrecht, The Netherlands. I had no idea the Polish National Catholic Church is no longer in the communion. (So now there are no Old Catholics in the US, and the European ones are crazy.) Ironically the PNCC, begun as an immigrant schism in the 1890s led by a freethinking priest, originally was the most liberal of the lot. (I think in practice this was balanced out by the innate conservatism of the Polish immigrants in the parishes.) Franciszek Hodur denied an eternal hell (apocatastasis, an opinion of some church fathers rejected by the church Catholic), considered baptism and confirmation one sacrament, numbered the hearing of the Word among the seven sacraments and made Confession optional for adults. (To quote an old friend regarding Hodur, 'he didn't believe in a lot of things'.) Some of the 'Nats' also did some dodgy things liturgically - specifically Mass facing the people. Liturgically they're nothing to write home about today - they eventually just copied the Novus Ordo - but they're now quite Catholic, achieving a kind of rapprochement with their Roman Catholic parent church (that there is a Polish Pope now didn't hurt that!). One difference from other Catholic churches that perhaps dates back to their former Episcopal ties is that priests, and bishops, can marry after ordination.

Disunion of Utrecht
Old Catholics fall out