Father Cantalamessa on Pentecost
Pontifical Household Preacher Comments on Sunday's Readings
ROME, MAY 25, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of a commentary by the Pontifical Household preacher, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, on the readings from this Sunday's liturgy.
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Send Forth Your Spirit and They Shall be Created
Acts 2:1-11; 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13; John 20:19-23
The Gospel presents Jesus, who in the cenacle on Easter evening, "breathed on them and said: 'Receive the Holy Spirit.'" This breathing of Jesus recalls God's action who, in the creation, "formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living being" (cf. Genesis 2:7). With his gesture Jesus indicates that the Holy Spirit is the divine breath that gives life to the new creation as he gave life to the first creation. The responsorial psalm highlights this theme: "Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth."
Proclaiming that the Holy Spirit is Creator means saying that his sphere of action is not restricted to the Church, but extends to the entire creation. No place and no time is without his active presence. He acts in and out of the Bible; he acts before Christ, during the time of Christ, and after Christ, even if he never acts apart from Christ. "All truth, by whomever it is spoken," Thomas Aquinas has written, "comes from the Holy Spirit." The action of the Spirit of Christ outside the Church is not the same as his action in the Church and in the sacraments. Outside he acts by his power; in the Church he acts by his presence, in person.
The most important thing about the creative power of the Holy Spirit is not, however, to understand it and explain its implications, but to experience it. But what does it mean to experience the Spirit as Creator? To understand it, let us take the creation account as our point of departure. "In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, and the Spirit of the Lord brooded over the waters" (Genesis 1:1-2). We conclude from this that the universe already existed in the moment when the Spirit intervened, but it was formless and dark, chaos. It is after his action that the creation assumes precise contours; light is separated from darkness, dry land from the sea, and everything takes on a definite shape.
Thus, it is the Holy Spirit who transforms the creation from chaos into cosmos, who makes it something beautiful, ordered, polished ("cosmos" comes from the same root as "cosmetic" and it means beautiful!), he makes a "world," in the double sense of this word. Science teaches us today that this process went on for billions of years, but the Bible -- with its simple and image-filled language -- wants to tell us that the slow evolution toward life and the present order of the world did not happen by chance, following blind material impulses. It followed, rather, a project that the Creator inserted in it from the beginning.
God's creative action is not limited to the initial instant; he is always in the act of creating. Applied to the Holy Spirit, this means that he is always the one who transforms chaos into cosmos, that is, he makes order out of disorder, harmony out of confusion, beauty out of deformity, youth out of age. This occurs on all levels: in the macrocosm as in the microcosm, that is, in the whole universe as in the individual person.
We must believe that, despite appearances, the Holy Spirit is working in the world and makes it progress. How many new discoveries, not only in the study of nature but also in the field of morality and social life! A text of Vatican II says that the Holy Spirit is at work in the evolution of the social order of the world ("Gaudium et Spes," 26). It is not only evil that grows but good does too, with the difference being that evil eliminates itself, ends with itself, while the good accumulates itself, remains. Certainly there is much chaos around us: moral, political, and social chaos. The world still has great need of the Spirit of God. For this reason we must not tire in invoking him with the words of the Psalm: "Send forth your Spirit, Lord, and renew the face of the earth!"
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Historian Reflects On War and Valor And a Son's Death
Andrew Bacevich Opposed Iraq Conflict but, in Grief, He Still Believes in Serving
By GREG JAFFE
WALPOLE, Mass. -- In late 2004, with the Iraq war raging, Andrew Bacevich's son told him that he was joining the Army.
Mr. Bacevich's son didn't fit the profile of a typical soldier. First Lt. Andrew Bacevich spent his teenage years in affluent Boston and Washington, D.C., suburbs. His father was a professor at Boston University and a prominent conservative critic of the war, writing in some of the country's largest newspapers that the pre-emptive conflict was immoral, unnecessary and almost certain to lead to defeat.
But the father was also a retired colonel and Vietnam veteran. He had argued that it was essential that the children of America's lawmakers, professors, journalists and lawyers serve in the defense of the nation. Too often, the affluent and well-educated treat national defense as a job they can contract out to the same people who bused their tables and mowed their lawns, he wrote in his 2005 book "The New American Militarism." That made it too easy for the president to take the nation to war in the first place, and left too few people willing to hold the commander in chief accountable when things went awry, he warned.
So the elder Mr. Bacevich didn't discourage his son from becoming an Army officer. Rather, he helped him.
On May 13, Lt. Bacevich, age 27, was killed by a suicide bomber near Balad, a small Sunni town north of Baghdad.
"Should I have said to my son, 'I don't want you to join the Army'?" the father, who is 59, asks himself quietly today. It is a question that he says likely will dog him for years to come.
Mr. Bacevich, who served in Vietnam from 1970-1971, and his son shared the same square jaw and confident smile. They also shared an "ironic kinship," he says. "In the long military history of the U.S., which has featured many victories and glorious moments, my son and I managed to pick the two wars that stand out for all the wrong reasons," he says.
Mr. Bacevich grew up in Illinois and attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. His parents both served in World War II, but neither pushed him to go to West Point. "Military service seemed to be a worthy thing to do -- that was the milieu in which I grew up," he says.
He fought in Vietnam and stayed in the Army through the painful rebuilding stretch that followed, serving in tank units and earning a graduate degree from Princeton in history. He and his wife also have three daughters. After 23 years, he retired as a colonel. Mr. Bacevich, who says he registered as an independent, voted for George W. Bush in 2000 but not in 2004.
His son, Andy, who spent his early childhood on Army bases, signed up for the Army ROTC at Boston University. "I think he wanted to do what his dad had done," Mr. Bacevich says. After his second year of ROTC, Andy applied to go to Army jump school over the summer to learn to be a paratrooper. A routine Army medical screening found that he had had childhood asthma, which disqualified him from serving in the military. Mr. Bacevich took his son to Massachusetts General Hospital for a test that his son hoped would show that the effects of the disease had disappeared. Andy failed it.
He finished Boston University and went to work for his state senator, and then for Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. In 2004, the Army, which was having trouble finding soldiers to fight in Iraq, loosened its standards to allow recruits with mild asthma. Andy enlisted, went through basic training and was accepted into the Army's Officer Candidate School. Mr. Bacevich says he was "inordinately proud" of the fact that his son got his commission by rising through the enlisted ranks and Officer Candidate School. "It was the hard way," he says.
Andy was initially assigned to the field artillery branch, which fires big cannons. But he wanted to be a tank officer, as his dad had been. So Mr. Bacevich called a friend who was a serving general and asked whether it would be possible to move his son. "It happened," Mr. Bacevich says. "Andy drove off in his new black Mustang to the armor school in Fort Knox, Ky."
In October 2006, Andy was sent to Iraq as a platoon leader responsible for the lives of 15 soldiers. Around that time, Mr. Bacevich pondered the value of life in Iraq. An Iraqi civilian killed mistakenly by U.S. forces merits a payment from the Pentagon of just $2,500 to his or her family, he wrote in the Washington Post. The family of a U.S. soldier killed in action typically receives about $400,000, he noted. "In launching a war advertised as a high-minded expression of U.S. idealism, we have wandered into a swamp of moral ambiguity," he wrote.
He never mentioned his son in his writings and asked reporters quoting him in stories not to write about his son, either. "I didn't want to burden him with my political baggage. My son had an enormous responsibility and a tremendously difficult job," he says. When his son called home from Iraq, he often sounded exhausted, Mr. Bacevich says. In February, he spent a two-week leave with his family. He seemed physically drained.
When his son was back in Iraq, Mr. Bacevich emailed him nearly every day with news about his family and Boston sports teams. "I wanted him to know that whatever the stresses he was enduring there was a normal life to which we hoped he would return," Mr. Bacevich says. At the same time, he railed in public even more loudly against the war. "The truth is that next to nothing can be done to salvage Iraq," he wrote in the Los Angeles Times on May 9. "We are spectators, witnesses, bystanders caught in a conflagration that we ourselves, in an act of monumental folly, touched off."
Then, on Mother's Day, Andy and his men stopped a suspicious van and ordered the men inside to get out. One of them fired a shot at Andy, who shot back, according to an email to Mr. Bacevich from Andy's company commander. A second man from the van began walking toward Andy and two of his soldiers. The man blew himself up, killing Andy and badly wounding a second U.S. soldier.
Today, Mr. Bacevich finds some solace in small things. His son was out in front sharing the risk with his soldiers when he died. "I would not want to make more of it than it deserves. But, yeah, my kid was doing the right thing, and it took bravery," Mr. Bacevich says.
One of Andy's soldiers recently emailed Mr. Bacevich a photo of Andy that he had taken a few hours before Andy was killed. Mr. Bacevich has studied it for clues about his son. In the picture, Andy is not smiling, but he doesn't look unhappy. "There's a confidence and a maturity that I think suggests that in a peculiar way he found satisfaction in the service he was performing," Mr. Bacevich says.
On Tuesday, Mr. Bacevich was sitting on his back porch when the Army casualty assistance officer assigned to help his family handed him a survivor's benefit check for $100,000. For a widow with children, such checks are a lifesaver. But Mr. Bacevich doesn't need the money. "I felt sick to my stomach," he says. "The inadequacy of it just strikes you."
As a historian and former soldier, he takes clear-cut lessons from the check, his son's death and the broader war. "When you use force, the unintended consequences that result are so large and the surprises so enormous that it really reaffirms the ancient wisdom to which we once adhered -- namely, to see force as something to be used only as a last resort." In the future, he says, historians will wonder how a country such as the U.S. ever came to see military force as "such a flexible, efficient, cost-effective and supposedly useful instrument."
For a father, the lessons are far less clear-cut. When he was writing against the war, which was often, he told himself he was doing the best he could to end the conflict.
Should he have told his son not to volunteer for such a war? "I believe in service to country. I believe soldiering is an honorable profession. There is no clear right and wrong here," he says. "What I tried to do was inadequate."
Friday, May 25, 2007
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Richard Douthwaite on "The Reality Report" (transcript and audio)
Jason Bradford, Global Public Media
Economist, author and founder of the Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability, Richard Douthwaite explains how complementary money systems stabilize economies and foster efforts to cope with peak oil and climate change. Jason Bradford hosts the Reality Report on KZYX&Z in Mendocino County, CA.
Transcript of audio interview from last October.(24 May 2007)
Julian Darley speaks on Economics, the Money System and Capitalism (transcript and audio)Julian Darley, Global Public Media
In these two interviews with Els Cooperrider of The Party's Over on KZYX, Julian Darley deals head on with two aspects of economics - the money system and capitalism - which is the real driver of our unfortunate siuation. This is part of the need to question what most people call "normal life", which is clearly increasingly pathological and nearing exhaustion, even as it climaxes. The second half of the second program deals with a range of listeners' calls, including the need to start making things locally again as well as Post Carbon Institute's Outposts program and and the Relocalization network that is convening.
Transcript of an earlier audio interview.
(24 May 2007)
HopeDance special on "LOCAL"
Relocalization, which is basically a return to the LOCAL, is a huge topic right now. With peak oil, climate change and the trembling cry of globalization, we see the rise and the importance of Going Local, Buying Local, Supporting Local. We have published numerous articles that will explain this movement. We have two speeches by Michael Brownlee and Pat Veesart that set the tone of what is coming and what we need to do. Judy Wicks is awesome. I call her the national hero for the local, since she has done so many cool things that we cannot enter into this movement without acknowledging such a wise elder, especially since she is the co-founder of BALLE (Business Alliance For Local Living Economies). In this issue there are a number of main leaders within BALLE that will give you a more clear idea of what it all represents, i.e., Michelle Long’s interview and the interview with Bill McKibben and the review of his latest book, Deep Economy, and Eric Rumble’s brief synopsis of the burgeoning movement.
We have Barbara Wishingrad reflect on a time past in Mexico where shopping and being Local was not necessarily an option. It simply existed as most cultures have existed: local. Local contributor Anne R. Allen reports on a business in town that did not leave to the opposite side of the world or get gobbled up by a transnational. Employees gathered and bought the business. Bob Banner asks the national and international press to begin to discuss the fossil fuel usage of transporting magazines all over the country and the world while talking the talk of Being Local. Adonijah is a remarkable model of a citizen and a teacher who empowers hope and inspired activity among those who meet him, transforming minds as well as empty lots into luscious food forests.
The articles are available online at the original.
One that interests me: A Call for a Truly Local Media: Notes about Media and Localization
PDF of entire issue (big)
The previous issue of HopeDance was on Transportation.
by John Michael Greer
The one thing we can be sure of about the future is that it won’t look much like the present. A hundred years ago, the United States was not the most powerful nation on Earth; a hundred years from now, in all probability, it won’t be, either. Two hundred years ago, much of what now counts as American territory belonged to other nations; two hundred years from now, it’s entirely possible that the same thing will be true. The sweeping cultural transformations that turned a dowdy frontier society into a brash imperial power will most likely have their equivalents in our future as well.
At least five major factors, it seems to me, can be counted on to play a role in these transformations. The first is depopulation. We are so used to worrying about the population explosion that the possibility of its opposite has rarely entered into serious discussions of the future. Yet the population bubble of the last few centuries is just as much a product of the extravagant exploitation of fossil fuels during the same period as the industrial age itself. Without the massive changes in agriculture, trade, and public health set in motion by the needs of a fossil fuel-powered industrial society, the relatively modest surge in human numbers in the 19th century would have reversed itself in the normal way. (In point of fact, it nearly did so anyway; at the dawn of the 20th century, bubonic plague once again surged out of central Asia, and only massive efforts by the major colonial powers of the age prevented a third plague pandemic from sweeping the globe.)
We are already seeing a preview of the future in Russia and several other fragments of the former Soviet Union, where crude death rates have risen to nearly double rates of live birth, a trajectory that will cut population figures in half by 2050 or so. Similar population contractions can be traced in the declining phase of many past civilizations – the depopulation of large sections of the western Roman Empire is well attested by contemporary sources, for example. As the industrial age unwinds, similar patterns will likely unfold in North America; for that matter, whole regions of the American West are depopulating right now through outmigration, and archeologists of the future are likely to trace the beginning of ancient America’s decline and fall back to the failure of settlement on the western plains in whatever the late 20th century works out to in some future calendar.
Depopulation moves at different paces in different cultures and regions, though, and one of the classic results of this differential is migration. When civilizations collapse, one of the most notable consequences is a massive relocation of peoples and cultures. Before the fall of the Roman Empire, for example, the ancestors of today’s English lived in Denmark, the ancestors of today’s Hungarians lived in central Asia, and many of the ancestors of today’s Spaniards lived north of the Black Sea. Today, as tidal streams of economic and political refugees press at borders worldwide, the only thing preventing equally drastic migrations is the fraying fabric of national sovereignty, backed by military forces totally dependent on fossil fuels. As the industrial age enters its twilight, the likelihood that those bulwarks will hold is vanishingly small, and when they give way, movements of peoples on an epic scale are likely to result.
Just now, the pressures that get news coverage involve people from outside the industrial world trying to get into it – Mexicans entering the United States, Arabs and Turks entering Europe, and so forth. As the industrial age comes to its close, though, other dynamics are likely to come into play. Consider the situation of Japan. Close to 150 million people live on a crowded skein of islands with little arable land and no fossil fuels at all, supported by trade links made possible only by abundant energy resources elsewhere. As fossil fuel production peaks and begins its inevitable contraction, industrial agriculture and food imports both will become increasingly problematic, and over the long term the Japanese population will be forced to contract to something like the small fraction of today’s figures the Japanese islands supported in the past. Mass migration is nearly the only viable option for the rest of the population, Japan’s ample supply of ships and fishing boats provide the means, and possible destinations beckon all around the Pacific basin.
All this assumes the collapse of current political arrangements over at least some of the world, but this is a good bet. A third factor that needs to be taken into account, then, is political disintegration. When civilizations fall, their political systems rarely remain intact, and when they do it’s usually as a shell of titles and formalities covering drastically different political realities. The shell can exert a potent influence of its own – in western Europe after the fall of Rome, just as in China after the collapse of the Han dynasty, the title of “emperor” retained immense power even when nobody existed who could plausibly claim it, and the gravitational attraction of the old imperial state in both cases helped drive efforts toward political unification many centuries later. Along the same lines, warlords of the future may well lay claim the title of President of the United States, centuries after the office and the national polity it once served exist nowhere outside of the realm of legend and chronicle.
A fourth factor, parallel to the third, is cultural drift. Right now the manufacture and mass marketing of popular culture maintains a thin shell of cultural similarity across large parts of English-speaking North America, but even that is under strain as regional, religious, and ideological subcultures take advantage of the decentralizing power of today’s communications technology and move more and more boldly in their own directions. While the end of the industrial age will bring down the Internet, it will also play taps for the mechanisms of mass communication and manufacture that make popular culture, in the modern sense of the word, possible at all. In the bubbling cauldron of deindustrial North America, many of today’s new cultural initiatives will fuse with older traditions and brand-new movements in ways we can’t even begin to imagine today. The disintegration of political unity and the end of reliable long-distance travel, two very likely effects of the Long Descent, make the emergence of new local and regional cultures all but certain.
Finally, ecological change is the wild card in the deck. Natural systems form the bedrock foundation of all human societies, and the sweeping impacts of industrial civilization’s brief heyday and collapse promise to set ecosystems spinning into radically new forms over much of the globe. Climate change is only one aspect of this picture, though its importance needs not to be understated. Major climate shifts have affected North America powerfully in the geological and historical past, and in the latter case have played a crucial role in the rise and collapse of entire civilizations. Ecosystems are complex enough, and change over such varied timescales, that many of the effects of industrial civilization’s rise and fall may unfold over many more centuries than I intend to survey, but some possible changes can certainly be guessed at.
11 incontrovertible truths of oil production and peak oil arguments
1. Oil must be found before it can be produced.
No commodity can be exploited if its existence is unknown. No oil can enter production if it is undiscovered. An absence of discovery therefore yields a future absence of production.
2. Oil must be produced before it can be used.
No commodity is useful if it is not brought to a useful state. Oil reserves are useless if they are not transformed into a usable product. Oil reserves are therefore of no use until they are brought to the surface, refined, and moved to the point of desired use.
3. On the scale of the lifetime of our current civilization, oil is a finite resource.
Any energy source is finite given the appropriate amount of time. The sun will eventually exhaust its nuclear fuel, but over the course of a human lifetime (or even the human species’ lifetime) solar energy will not be depleted. Oil production will peak within the lifetime of our current civilization. There is no position in the debate (including abiotic oil proponents) which disagrees with this point. Oil is renewable on the scale of the Earth’s lifetime, but our species would likely be extinct before oil reserves can be replenished.
4. If demand for oil is higher than the available supply of oil, not everyone who desires to use oil will have the option.
A fundamental economic principle: when demand exceeds supply, a shortage exists. Some who want to use oil will not have the option. The usual moderator for this situation is an increase in price.
5. Petroleum products have the highest energy density of any portable energy storage medium.
There are no known alternatives that match the energy density of products derived from fossil fuels.
6. The current economy would suffer if the cost of energy increased by a large percentage.
There are no suggestions that increases in energy costs improve the quality of the economy. There are major disagreements on the effects of high energy costs on the economy.
7. In a closed system, growth of any kind must eventually stop.
This is a founding principle of any scientific study, be it physics, chemistry, biology, or economics. If we take the earth as a closed system, then all growth must, at the very least, reach a maximum at some point: oil production, wealth, population, and so forth. Our choices determine when and how growth stops.
8. All known alternative energy sources currently have higher initial investment requirements than does oil.
Solar energy, wind energy, nuclear energy, coal-to-liquids, and others present a high cost-per-Watt than oil energy. This does not take into account the total life cycle costs, in which alternatives like solar and wind become among the most cost-effective energy sources.
9. Replacing the current oil-based infrastructure requires time.
Another fundamental principle of all science: going from point A to point B requires a finite amount of time. There is argument over how much time is required to replace our existing infrastructure.
10. Replacing the current oil-based infrastructure requires money.
A key to economic theory: a desired action can not be realized without applying an amount of currency. The amount and sources of funding are up for debate.
11. Replacing the current oil-based infrastructure requires energy.
In order to restructure our energy system, we must expend energy to manufacture replacement technology. This further reduces the amount of energy available after an infrastructure replacement.
Published on 23 May 2007 by Falls Church News-Press. Archived on 23 May 2007.
The peak oil crisis: The minimum operating level
by Tom Whipple
There has been much discussion about gasoline inventories in the US lately and rightly so. Every Wednesday morning the Department of Energy releases a snapshot of US oil and product inventories at the end of the preceding week. As US gasoline inventories fell dramatically during the past few months, it is this report, as interpreted by many buyers and sellers of gasoline, that is largely responsible for the record high prices we are paying for gasoline.
Last Thursday, after the report was issued, gasoline prices jumped nearly 10 cents in a single day. On Tuesday of this week, before the report was issued, gasoline prices fell by 10 cents a gallon based on analysts’ guesstimates that inventories would increase and there would not be serious shortages this summer. It is clear that the size of our gasoline stockpile has become an important number, not only for everyone who drives, but also for the future of our economy.
The number is currently around 197 million barrels, but there is more to the story than one number. Now that we are all fixated on gasoline inventories, it is important to know that America has two largely unconnected oil worlds – the five west coast states (California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and Arizona) and the rest of the country. The West Coast gets its imported gasoline supplies by tanker across the Pacific. The rest of the country gets its imports from tankers across the Atlantic. As there is little transfer of gasoline between the two regions, what comes to the west coast is consumed on the west coast. Thus when one reads of a big change in gasoline imports, it is important to find out which coasts got the imports. Last week for example, 1.2 million of the 1.7 million barrel increase was on the west coast leaving very little to increase the stockpile in the rest of the country.
The next important point about gasoline stockpiles is that not all of it is useable. As gasoline is largely delivered by pipeline, barge and coastal tankers these days, a lot of gasoline is tied up in transit. Thus the amount of gasoline “trapped” in transport is substantial. This “trapped” gasoline is known as the “minimum operating level.”
The Department of Energy used to publish this number, but stopped doing so a few years ago on the grounds they were not confident that it was accurate. This week, however, the old number for the minimum operating level surfaced in a 3-year-old government report and it turned out to be 185 million barrels – very close to the 197 million in the inventory. It really does not matter what the actual minimum level is, for any figure remotely close to 197 million is cause for concern. If stockpiles – on either coast – drop much more, we are going to find out, the hard way, exactly where the minimal operating level is, for that will be the day the shortages develop.
Another important factor in the gasoline situation is the increasing amounts of ethanol we are burning. Last year when Consumer Reports tested a bi-fuel Chevrolet first with gasoline and then with 85 percent ethanol, they confirmed that using ethanol drops mileage by 27 percent. The more ethanol produced the more motor fuel we will have to buy just to go the same distance.
This week’s stockpile report was on the whole neutral regarding prospects for the summer ahead. Although US refineries managed to increase gasoline production by 100,000 barrels a day to 9.2 million, imports dropped by 200,000 barrels to 1.3 million – still a high number. Total US gasoline inventory increased by 1.5 million barrels last week to 196.7 million barrels, still well below normal and still a cause for concern given the increased demand and the proximity of the summer driving season.
Demand for gasoline over the last four weeks increased by 1.2 percent over the same period last year; however some of this increase is caused by the ethanol mixed into the gasoline in some parts of the country. There is still no sign that $3+ gasoline is having a substantial impact on demand.
There is still a good possibility of trouble ahead; last week’s stockpile increase certainly was not enough to prepare us for a Gulf hurricane, or any other kind of major disruption, but it may be enough to get us through the first part of the summer driving season without shortages. These issues are how much we continue to consume and whether imports will stay high. We will know shortly. The distribution of the US stockpiles is still not good with the Midwest and East Coast being the most vulnerable to shortages.
Large US imports of gasoline, mainly from Europe, are starting to raise questions. Last weekend gasoline in Germany went over $7 per gallon and analysts are talking about the possibility of $8 gasoline later this summer. The Europeans note that the US is now importing roughly 1 out of every 8 gallons of gasoline consumed and that there is no end to this imbalance in sight. Some Europeans are beginning to ask whether their governments should be taking action to slow the exports to the US.
What a contrast. Remember the "generation gap" of the Boomers? It seemed the motto then was "any place but home." You would not have expected the following in "the sixties" from the same age group:...73% of Pew's respondents said they see their parents at least once a week, and half do so daily, a fact that, however sweet, sort of makes you want to download Rebel Without a Cause.The article describes how some job recruiters have to woo Mom and Dad as well, since the kids involve them in the job hunt. And some parents even join them on the first day at a new job. (One mother came to see her daughter's first day, in response to the invitation of the company's president. Says Mom:"I took her to kindergarten, and now I'm here for her first day of work.")
The Lady Downstairs thinks that if anything, Americans are courageous. I think it's a generalization that isn't true if applied to the U.S. as a whole. There are pockets in the South and other areas of the United States where courage is prized for men. But there are plenty of pampered people who wouldn't put their lives on the line for anyone else.
As for Germans demanding withdrawal of their troops from Afghanistan because they do not want to see Germans die... is it cowardly? Or soft? Or do they just realize that Afghanistan is a mess? How many German males can be considered metrosexuals?
We cultural elites are the kind of rootless people who will worry about the disappearance of the native culture in some far off Third World place, and fret about the business interests busy extinguishing that traditional culture. But we will look at people in our own backyard who are facing the same kind of challenge to maintain their own way of life, and condescend to them as backward racists.
And there is a reference to "A Global Culture" by David Rieff:
The reader seems to be saying that the idea that we can protect American identity against this larger sweep of history is a false hope. And, if I'm reading him correctly, it's a false hope for the same reason that trying to maintain any kind of traditional culture is a fool's game in the world today: that global capitalism is cleansing the planet of all rootedness, all tradition. Someone recently pointed me to a 1994 essay by David Rieff , which is an extended riff on the E.M. Cioran quote, "A civilization progresses from agriculture to paradox." What Cioran meant, if I understand him correctly, is that once a civilization progresses beyond agriculture, which made civilization possible to begin with by delivering people from a nomadic existence, it moves into an industrial economy, which abstracts people from the places to which they've been tied, even as it makes them wealthier. The further along this process becomes, the more we return to the nomadic state, though incomparably wealthier.
Rieff makes use of this Cioran observation to talk about how we Americans don't deal well with paradox. For example, he says that for all the contemporary obsession with diversity, we are strikingly homogenous and conformist (cf. the white American yuppie who enjoys the "diversity" of watching a DVD film by the gay Spanish director Almodovar, while eating take-out sushi -- but who can't stand the idea of the NASCAR fan taking the family to Burger Doodle to eat in the car before rushing home to watch "Walker, Texas Ranger" on TiVO; some cultures are more, ahem, diverse than others). Rieff's broader subject is the alleged world hegemony of American culture. Here, for our purposes, is the chief insight of the Rieff essay:In the end, when we talk about the dominance of one culture, or even, less agonistically, of the globalization of culture, it is important to keep in mind that what is really at issue is the victory of culture that makes money over all other forms, and, particularly, over both folk culture and elite culture. Examples of this are everywhere and, if anything, the tendency toward bottom-line thinking is accelerating. Think of "art" filmmaking, a relatively accessible form when compared to, say, serial music, and how it has become about as relevant to the movie industry as antiquarian bookselling is to the publishing business. And if high culture now exists on life support, the culture of traditional societies, for all the lip service rendered to it by pious academics and political activists, is everywhere in retreat, and, in many parts of the world, on the brink of extinction as a living rather than as an artificially preserved set of forms.
...The essential point is that most people want this consumer culture, however much they may resent its effect on, say, the status of women. And yet such changes come as part of the package, since American consumer culture is corrosive of all traditions and established truths. In any case, the position of people in the Third World, which can be summed up as wanting more of this culture and resenting and fearing its triumph, is finally untenable. In the end, the market simply has more resources than a traditional society incapable of providing prosperity in an era of demographic increase and urbanization.
Rieff goes on to say that American mass culture is so exportable because unlike other nation's mass culture, it is not organic to a particular place. (The pseudonymous columnist Spengler, I think, often makes a similar point about Evangelical Christianity, which is booming among the world's poor). And it's not organic to a particular place because particularity has no strong roots in a country as young as ours. What does it mean, then, to get all anxious about maintaining one's traditions in the face of mass foreign immigrations when our "traditions," such as they are, are so shallow-rooted, and when, in fact, we have created a mass culture that is simultaneously the most efficient generator of wealth the world has ever seen, and the deadliest enemy of traditions, old certainties, venerable loyalties?
I sense that it is in this light that the reader who sent in the initial observation critiques Ron Maxwell. We are all complicit in this consumer culture, and have freely abandoned our cultural traditions as the price of admittance. Why are we only talking about traditions, and rootedness in place, in the face of anxiety over the effective dissolution of the southern border? Isn't there something phony in that? (he seems to be saying).
So: Have we become so accomodated to the condition of material ease that resistance to this tectonic aspect of modernity (the reality of mass immigration) in the name of a long-abandoned sense of tradition really is futile? Are we all really nomads now, with pretenses to the traditions that no longer exist for us, and haven't really done since the agricultural age? If so, Juvenal was right: "Luxury is more ruthless than war."
On the Journey to Brazil
"The Church Must Mobilize All of the Moral and Spiritual Energies"
VATICAN CITY, MAY 23, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today at the general audience in St. Peter's Square. The reflection focused on his recent trip to Brazil.
* * *
Dear brothers and sisters,
In this general audience I would like to reflect on my recent apostolic journey to Brazil from May 9-14. After the first two years of my pontificate, I finally had the joy of going to Latin America, a place I love dearly and where a great number of the world's Catholics live.
The central destination of my journey was Brazil, but I also extended my embrace to the entire Latin American continent because the ecclesial event that called me there was the 5th General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean.
I wish to reiterate my profound gratitude for the welcome I received from my dear brother bishops, in particular, those of São Paulo and Aparecida. I thank the president of Brazil and the other civil authorities for their cordial and generous cooperation, with great affection I thank the Brazilian people for the warmth with which they welcomed me -- it was great and moving -- and for the attention they paid to my words.
My journey was an act of praise to God for the "wonders" he has done in the midst of the peoples of Latin America, for the faith that has animated their lives and their culture for more than 500 years. It was also a pilgrimage, culminating at the sanctuary of Our Lady of Aparecida, patroness of Brazil.
The theme of the relationship between faith and culture was always in the hearts of my venerated predecessors Paul VI and John Paul II. I also wished to take up this theme to confirm the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean in their walk of faith that has been and still is a living history -- as we see in popular piety, art, in dialogue with the rich pre-Columbian traditions as well as numerous European influences and influences from other continents.
A look back at a glorious past cannot ignore the shadows that accompanied the work of evangelization of the Latin American continent: It is impossible to forget the sufferings and injustices inflicted by colonizers on the indigenous peoples, who often had their basic human rights trampled on. But the very mention of these unjustifiable crimes -- crimes that were condemned at the time by missionaries such as Bartolomé de Las Casas and theologians such as Francisco de Vitoria of the University of Salamanca -- must not stop us from expressing gratitude for the wonderful work carried out by divine grace among those populations in these past five centuries.
Brazil is a great country that has deeply rooted Christian values, but is experiencing enormous social and economic problems. To help resolve these problems, the Church must mobilize all of the moral and spiritual energies of its communities, to find points of convergence with the healthy energies of the country.
Among the positive elements to point out are the creativity and the fecundity of the Church there, from which many new movements and institutes of consecrated life are born. No less worthy of praise is the generous dedication of the many lay faithful, who show themselves to be very active in the various initiatives promoted by the Church.
Brazil is also a country that can offer the world a new model of development: The Christian culture can facilitate a "reconciliation" between men and creation, beginning with the recovery of personal dignity in the relationship to God the Father.
An eloquent example of this is the "Fazenda da Esperança," a network of rehabilitation centers for young people who wish to come out of the dark tunnel of drug abuse. At the one I visited, taking away a profound impression that I will keep alive in my heart, I noticed the importance of the presence of the Poor Clares.
This appeared symbolic for the world of today, which is in need of a psychological and social "rehabilitation," but an even deeper spiritual rehabilitation.
Also symbolic was the canonization, celebrated in joy, of the first native Brazilian saint: Father Antonio de Sant'Ana Galvão. This Franciscan priest of the 18th century, devoted to the Blessed Virgin, an apostle of the Eucharist and of confession, was called, while living, "a man of peace and charity." His witness is yet another confirmation that holiness is the true revolution, which can promote the authentic reform of the Church and society.
In the cathedral of São Paulo, I met with the Brazilian bishops, the largest bishops' conference in the world. Conveying to them the support of the Successor of Peter was one of the major goals of my mission, because I know the great challenges that the proclamation of the Gospel faces in that country.
I encouraged my brother bishops to promote and strengthen the task of the new evangelization, exhorting them to develop in a methodical way, the spreading of God's word, so that the innate and widespread religiosity of populations can deepen and become a mature faith, adhering personally and communally to the God of Jesus Christ.
I encouraged them to recover the style of life of the first Christian community, described in the Acts of the Apostles: dedicated to catechesis, the sacramental life and works of charity.
I know the dedication of these faithful servants of the Gospel -- the Gospel they wish to present without reductions or confusion, keeping watch over the deposit of faith with discernment; and their constant goal of promoting social development mainly through the formation of the laity, who are called to assume responsibility in political and economic fields. I thank God for allowing me to deepen my communion with the Brazilian bishops and I continue to remember them in my prayers.
Another important moment of the journey was, without a doubt, the meeting with young people; hope not only for the future, but a vital force also for the present -- for the Church and for society. This vigil, animated by them in São Paulo, was a festival of hope, illuminated by Christ's words to the "rich young man" who asked him: "Master, what good must I do to inherit eternal life?" (Matthew 19:16).
Jesus points out, above all, the commandments as the way of life, and then invites him to leave everything to follow him. The Church does the same thing today: First of all, it proposes the commandments, the true education of freedom for personal and social good; and, above all, it proposes the "first commandment," that of love, because without love even the commandments cannot give full meaning to life and procure true happiness.
Only the person who experiences the love of God in Christ and places himself on this path to live it among humanity, becomes his disciple and missionary. I invited the young people to be apostles of their peers; and to therefore take great care of their own human and spiritual formation; to have great esteem for marriage and the way that leads to marriage, in chastity and responsibility; to be open to the call to consecrated life for God's kingdom. To summarize, I encouraged them to take advantage of the great "riches" of their youth, to be the young face of the Church.
The high point of the journey was the inauguration of the 5th General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean, in the sanctuary of Our Lady of Aparecida. The theme for this important meeting, which will continue until the end of the month, is "Disciples and Missionaries of Jesus Christ, so That Our People Might Have Life in Him -- I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life."
"Disciples and missionaries" corresponds to what the Gospel of Mark says concerning the call of the Apostles: "(Jesus) called the twelve that were with him and sent them out to preach" (Mark 3:14-15).
The word "disciple" recalls the aspects of formation and following, in communion and friendship with Jesus; the term "missionary" expresses the fruit of discipleship, that is, the witness and communication of the lived experience, of the truth and love that is known and assimilated.
To be disciples and missionaries implies a close link with the Word of God, with the Eucharist and the other sacraments, living in the Church, listening obediently to his teachings. Joyously renewing the desire to be Jesus' disciples, to "stay with him," is the primary condition for being his missionaries -- "beginning again with Christ," according to John Paul II's mandate to the Church after the Jubilee of the Year 2000.
My venerated predecessor always insisted on an evangelization that was "new in its ardor, its methods and its expression," as he said when speaking to CELAM [the Latin American bishops' council] on March 9, 1983, in Haiti (Insegnamenti VI/1 , 698).
With my apostolic journey, I wished to exhort them to continue along this path, holding up the encyclical "Deus Caritas Est" as a unified perspective, an inseparable social and theological perspective, summarized in this expression: "It is love that gives life."
"God's presence, friendship with the Son of God incarnate, the light of his Word, are always fundamental conditions for the presence and efficacy of justice and love in our societies" (Inaugural speech of the 5th General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean, 4: L'Osservatore Romano, May 14-15, 2007, p. 14).
I entrust the fruits of this unforgettable apostolic journey to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary who is venerated as Our Lady of Guadalupe and patroness of all Latin America, and to the new Brazilian saint, Father Antonio of Sant'Ana Galvão.
[Translation by ZENIT]
[After the audience, the Pope greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
My recent Pastoral Visit to Brazil embraced not only that great nation but all Latin America and the Caribbean, home to many of the world’s Catholics. My visit was above all a pilgrimage of praise to God for the faith which has shaped their cultures for over five hundred years. While we do not overlook the various injustices and sufferings which accompanied colonization, the Gospel has expressed and continues to express the identity of the peoples in this region and provides inspiration to address the challenges of our globalized era. In the Fazenda da Esperança, a network of centres for young people recovering from drug addiction, I saw a symbol of that spiritual "recovery" which our world truly needs, a recovery of our dignity as God’s children and a reconciled relationship with all creation. The canonization of Brazil’s first native saint, Frei Antônio de Sant’Ana Galvão, reminded us that holiness is the real "revolution" which brings about authentic reform in Church and society. In Aparecida, I opened the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, which is addressing our need to be convinced "disciples and missionaries" of Christ and his love. After my joyful meeting with the young people, I am confident that they will be apostles to their contemporaries, use their rich gifts in the service of the new evangelization and ensure a future of hope for the Church in Brazil and in all Latin America.
I am pleased to welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims here today, including members of the International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs, as well as the young artists from Nairobi. I thank all of you for your prayers during my visit to Brazil. May God bless you all!
© Copyright 2007 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Proposal for Vietnam Town in US city gathers force
From our ever-expanding “Blood is thicker than water” file, yet another ethnic group begins carving its piece of the former United States of America:I hadn't heard of these proposals, then again I haven't been home for a while. As far as I know, most of the people who live in that part of San Jose are Vietnamese or Hispanic. Do most of the business owners live in the area, with respect to both the Vietnamese businesses and the Korean ones? I think so. I agree that it would be better not to "officially" recognize an ethnic business enclave, but how would Vietnam Town differ from SF Chinatown, which is officially recognized as such? (Is it not?)
A Vietnamese-American official in the US has proposed establishing a commercial center called ‘Vietnam Town’ in San Jose City where 85,000 people of Vietnamese descent live.
San Jose City Councilwoman Madison Nguyen, said the time had arrived to officially mark a business place for the community. Nguyen, who in 2005 became the first person of Vietnamese descent to be elected to the city council, plans to ask the council within the next few weeks to designate a one-mile strip along Story Road as the city’s first Vietnamese business district.
The pro-immigration crowd insists that people who come here from distant lands want to become one of us, and that somehow makes them “more American” than those of us who were merely born here. Yet, if that happy interpretation were true, immigrants would assimilate to the dominant American culture, rather than establishing ethnic enclaves.
San Jose’s gutless but honest mayor admitted why the measure should be supported:Mayor Chuck Reed backs the idea, saying designating an area that is already home to nearly 200 Vietnamese-owned businesses merely “recognizes the facts on the ground.” “We are not trying to create something that doesn’t already exist - it’s already full of Vietnamese businesses. We’re more recognizing a reality than creating it.”
Indeed. Each colonizer [ed. the strikeout didn't copy] immigrant who comes here to reap the rewards of Western civilization for his own people is another “fact on the ground” that we cannot ignore. At some point, the critical mass is undeniable, and ethnic enclaves will carve up the former US, nourished by our economy and protected by our rule of law, the free market, and the protection of private property—institutions their native cultures could not sustain.
This was fully understood by many residents who opposed the Vietnam City:Problem is, you cannot have a “common community” without a confident, energized, well-defined identity that defines that community. The whole point of multiculturalism is that it’s discriminatory to sustain one dominant culture in a political and geograqphic unit (that is, a true nation shaped by a common history, culture, language, etc.). Government, the corporate media, and academia have done such a throrough job of demonizing America’s traditional Western culture that they’ve shamed many into passively accepting their own cultural demise. It is only natural that newcomers will continue to embrace their old identity as far more meaningful and inspiring than the formless, shapeless, and bland “citizen of the world” that the multicults imagine America should become.
However, critics say the proposed Vietnamese business neighborhood may probably cause separatism between Vietnamese residents and other ethnic groups there.
Last year, Santa Clara residents and businesses mounted a successful petition drive to block Korean merchants from declaring a section of El Camino Real as a Koreatown. The concern, residents there said, was that declaring one part of Santa Clara an ethnic enclave promoted separatism rather than the idea of a common community.
"At some point, the critical mass is undeniable, and ethnic enclaves will carve up the former US, nourished by our economy and protected by our rule of law, the free market, and the protection of private property—institutions their native cultures could not sustain."
Here is the vaunted appeal to the "rule of law" typically made by liberals, and which Americans seem to think is a tradition unique to the United States (maybe they'll concede that it is to be found in the U.K. and the rest of the Europe). Were there private businesses in Korea and Vietnam before the advent of Communism? And whose fault was it that Communism was able to get a foothold in Asia in the first place? Is there anything intrinsic to Korean or Vietnamese culture that would prohibit small business from developing? As for the protection of private property--who doesn't perceive the injury when their property is taken away, whether it be by another individual or by the state?
Can one have a decent democracy without the rule of law? No. Can one have the rule of law without a democracy? Yes. Can one have the protection of private property without American democracy? Yes, though the checks against tyranny are slightly different.
Integration and assimilation into one political community is important--but when fellow immigrants begin to congregate, the development of such enclaves is to be expected. After all, it's already happened in the past, with respect to other groups, Italians, Irish, Poles, Germans. Will Asians eventually assimilate into American society? More so than Hispanics in the Southwest, one would think, as their numbers continue to increase and their links to their nation are strengthened.
More on the cultural differences that exist between E. Asian cultures and American culture to come.
See also Oklahoma’s Brand of Immigration Reform Barely Makes News; Guess Why?
Paul/CIA Press Club 'Giuliani Rebut' Video To Be Made Available
Thursday, May 24, 2007 - FreeMarketNews.com
Thursday morning, May 24, 2007, Presidential candidate Ron Paul (R-TX) was joined by Michael Scheuer, former head of the CIA's Bin Laden Unit, to discuss flawed American foreign policy and its implications on terrorism, security and Iraq. The press conference was held in the National Press Club Lisagor Room.
Sources close to the campaign said that a video of the press conference would be made available on the Ron Paul campaign site, www.ronpaul2008.com "over the next few days." A summary of the morning's conference may be posted as soon as today.
During the "First in South" GOP debate, earlier this month, Dr. Paul stated that 50 years of interventionism in the Middle East is a significant motivating tool for radical Islamists. Dr. Paul's position, though disparaged during the debate, has since received backing from numerous individuals, including others in the GOP, administration officials and - in excerpted reports - from the 9-11 Commission itself.
In the debate, Rudy Giuliani, a presidential candidate and well-known former Republican mayor of New York, called Dr. Paul's position "absurd." Giuliani is commonly characterized as a GOP "front-runner." He is also considered well-versed in foreign policy, given his supervision of the "international city" of New York and his position as its leader during 9/11. However, he stated that he had "never heard such an explanation" as Ron Paul's.
According to a limited-circulation release, Dr. Paul and Mr. Scheuer are expected to explain why Rudy Giuliani is wrong on security and foreign policy and provide documentation about the unintended consequences of interventionism - known to many in the intelligence community (and Dr. Paul as well) as "blowback."
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Truly--it would be better if people focused on living in accord with the demands of their state of life, rather than presuming an authority or competence which they lack. This is not to say that only the educated should discuss political issues, but that all should be aware of their limitations and ignorance before they speak.
Ken Lunde's 2007 SHOT Show Photos & Report
He had the opportunity to take photos of the following (I didn't link to the photos he actually has, but posted different ones instead):
see this previous post
Defense Review - HK45 and HK45 Compact (HK45C) Pistols: Future ...
HK45 Update - Military Photos
US Military Dumps the 9mm
Vickers Tactical articles
HK45 & HK45C COMBAT COMPETITION P30 (pdf)
NEW! Glock 21 SF Picture - Shooters Lobby
Beretta Px4 Storm Compact (D and F versions in 9mm were on display, and the fullsize in .45 Auto)
PX4 Storm Beretta :: Pistola semiautomatica
Beretta PX4 Storm
PX4 Storm It website
BerettaWorld :: Berettaworld
Beretta Web - PX4 Storm .45ACP SD
MagPul Military Industries Corp.
Defense Review - MagPul Masada Adaptive Combat Weapon System (ACWS ...
Defense Review - SHOT Show 2007: DefRev Quick Hits 1
YouTube: Magpul Masada, SHOT Show 2007
YouTube: Magpul Masada, Test Firing
Matt Burkett - Radio Casts, PodCasts and Video Clips
MagPul Factory Tour---Part one: The Masada - Military Photos
2007 SHOT SHOW - Day 1: Murdoc Online
LP: Shot Show News [Magpul Industries New Rifle "Masada"
official site (View 2007 Product Guide - 1/3 (3MB))
Sig-Sauer P220R Carry Elite
SigSauerPro.com:Low Price SigARMs Handguns & Accessories
SigArmsStore.com - Sig Sauer Accessories & Training Videos
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