Friday, June 24, 2005

From LRC
Desecrating the Bill of Rights
What really matters

I wouldn’t torch a Stars and Stripes in public — I love the place and many of the people, but not the government — but American freedom means the right to free expression and the right to dispose of one’s property as one likes, as hateful as it can seem, which is what America’s soldiers were ostensibly defending, not a swastika-like emblem of the state. Privately and reverently burning an old flag (Mr Gregory’s Boy Scout experience) sounds like a fine thing but it’s actually religious: pinched from Catholic ritual. It’s what you do with old vestments and sacramentals that you can’t use anymore, such as paper icons that are damaged beyond repair.

Regarding the treatment of the national ensign I’m reminded of a story that a retired Royal Navy officer (I’ve known such) told: that the sailors aboard ships at sea had no problem with using an old flag as a cleaning rag. Funny since I’d have more of a problem doing that with the Navy’s White Ensign or any other form of the Union Jack, with the big St George’s cross red with the blood of Christ, than I would with an abstract striped flag!

Joe Sobran on typical, predictable media treatment of the Pope
The other side often makes him sound better to us than he is

That many RCs voted for Bush means to me that the concept of the RC vote is irrelevant. (The people who did it are functionally just part of the Protestant religious right.) I’d agree with some that it has been really since the 1940s, when Roosevelt’s Great Patriotic War started to level and partially homogenize American society (propaganda signs said hateful things like ‘Don’t speak Italian anymore: speak American’). It’s been that long since winning one for the Gipper and Notre Dame, and innocuous movies like Boys Town and The Bells of St Mary’s*, actually meant something about ‘Catholic identity’ in terms of the actual faith advancing in the States and real community among RCs based on that faith. It’s probably been gone since Knute Rockne. Bishop Richard Williamson isn’t infallible but he has one of several good points when he writes that one shouldn’t worship the 1950s as a kind of golden age: the rot already had set in. After all, in 1960, right in that period, the RC vote helped elect slithering filth like John F. Kennedy to the White House. (Even though the most powerful RC churchman in America at the time, Francis Cardinal Spellman in New York, saw Jack and his dad for what they were and sensibly preferred Nixon.)

*Though those movies and others like them actually say nothing about the faith or the church as such. They were just a barometer showing how much the church, still undiluted, had been accepted by other Americans: good PR. (But one can argue that, like A Christmas Carol, It’s a Wonderful Life or a new Christmastide favourite fable, The Family Man, they are implicitly quite Catholic stories.) I reckon that, the convert boomlet notwithstanding (the kind of people who would have become Anglicans or John Henry Newman-like RCs 50 years ago), Eastern Orthodoxy will never reach similar critical mass in America to be reflected in movies like that: you’ll keep seeing it in ethnic bit parts and (self-hating) ethnic jokes like My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

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