Saturday, September 29, 2007


From this week's general audience:

Therefore, John Chrysostom truly becomes one of the great Fathers of the Church's social doctrine: The old idea of the Greek "polis" is replaced with a new idea of a city inspired by the Christian faith. Chrysostom affirmed with Paul (cf. 1 Corinthians 8:11) the primacy of the individual Christian, of the person as a person, including the slave and the poor man. His project corrected the traditional Greek view of the "polis," of the city, in which large portions of the population were excluded from the rights of citizenship. In the Christian city, all are brothers and sisters with equal rights.

But does Greek political thought/theory really deny that everyone has "equal rights"? One maybe deprived of the right to hold office, or be a slave, but Greek political theorists could still acknowledge that such a man was human and deserving of the respect due in justice.

The primacy of the person is also a consequence of the fact that the city is constructed on the foundation of the person. In the Greek "polis," on the other hand, the country was more important than the individual, who was totally subordinated to the city as a whole. In this way, with Chrysostom, the vision of a society built by the Christian conscience begins. And he tells us that our "polis" is another, "our homeland is in heaven" (Philippians 3:20) and this homeland of ours, even on this earth, renders us all equals, brothers and sisters, and obligates us to solidarity.

Now, I don't think the Holy Father is affirming that the ultimate end is a private one, but aren't we going over territory that has been covered before? Was the individual totally subordinated to the city? According to Greek law and custom? Or Greek philosophy? Or is this a convenient modern caricature that we like to use in portraying the ancients?

Father Cantalamessa on the First World and Lazarus

Father Cantalamessa on the First World and Lazarus
Pontifical Household Preacher Comments on Sunday's Readings

ROME, SEPT. 28, 2007 ( Here is a translation of a commentary by the Pontifical Household preacher, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, on the readings from this Sunday's liturgy.

* * *

A Rich Man who Dressed in Purple Garments and Fine Linen
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Amos 6:1, 4-7; 1 Timothy 6:11-16; Luke 16:19-31

The principal thing to bring to light in regard to the parable of the rich man in this Sunday’s Gospel is his contemporary relevance. At the global level the two characters are the two hemispheres: The rich man represents the northern hemisphere (western Europe, America, Japan) and the poor man, Lazarus, with a few exceptions, represents the southern hemisphere. Two characters, two worlds: the first world and the Third World. Two demographically and geographically unequal worlds: The one that we call the Third World in fact represents two-thirds of the world. This is a usage that is beginning to take hold. The third world is beginning to be called the “two-thirds world.”

The same contrast between the rich man and Lazarus exists also within both worlds. The rich live side by side with the poor Lazaruses in the third world -- and the solitary luxury that exists in these countries stands out all the more in the midst of the miserable majority -- and there are the poor Lazaruses who live side by side with the rich in the first world. Some persons in the entertainment business, in sports, finance, industry, and commerce have contracts worth millions, and all of this is in the sight of millions of people who, with their meager wages or unemployment subsidy, do not know how they are going to be able to pay the rent or pay for medicine and education for their children.

The most detestable thing in the story that Jesus tells is the rich man’s ostentation, the way he makes a show of his wealth with no consideration for the poor man. His life of luxury is manifested in two areas, in dining and in clothing: The rich man feasted sumptuously and dressed in purple garments and fine linen, which in those days was the vesture of kings. The contrast is not only between a person who stuffs himself with food and a person who dies of hunger but also between one who changes his clothes every day and one who does not own a thread.

Here in Italy there was once a piece of clothing presented at a fashion show that was made of gold coins and cost over a billion lira. We have to say this without hesitation: The global success of Italian fashion and the business it has created have gone to our heads. We do not care about anything anymore. Everything that is done in the fashion sector, even the most obvious excesses, enjoys special treatment. Fashion shows that sometimes fill television news so much that other more important news is put aside, bring to mind the scenes in the parable of the rich man.

But so far we have not touched on anything new. What is novel and unique in this evangelical denouncement has to do with the perspective from which the events are seen. Everything in the parable is seen retrospectively from the epilogue to the story: “When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried.” If we put this story on the screen we could very well begin with this ending beyond the grave and then return to the previous events in a kind of “flashback.”

Many similar denouncements of wealth and luxury have been made over the centuries but today they sound rhetorical and resentful or pietistic and anachronistic. But Jesus’ denouncement, after 2,000 years, retains intact its explosive power. Jesus does not belong to either party in this matter but is one who is above rich and poor and is concerned with both -- and perhaps more with the rich since the poor are less in danger!

The parable of the rich man is not motivated by any resentment toward the wealthy, by a desire to take their place, as are many human denouncements, but by a sincere concern for their salvation. God wants to save the rich from their wealth.

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2 from Bill Bonner

Moving to Cheaper Pastures

America is a cheap place to live. Especially if you don't live in the major metropolitan areas on the two coasts. According to USA Today, you can buy a four bedroom, 2½ bath, 2,200 square foot house in Killeen, Texas, for only $136,000. That's less than 100,000 euros - a price that would be unheard of in Europe. That's not only the cheapest price in the United States…it might be the cheapest price in the entire world. Even in Granada, Nicaragua, the price for a similar house would be about $150,000. In Mexico City, you'd pay $277,000. And in London…well, don't even think about it.

The USA Today report tells us that there is a huge, regional difference in housing prices in the United States. The price for the equivalent four-bedroom house is over $2.2…not nearly as much as you'd pay in central London, but still getting up there.

Meanwhile, other cheap alternatives in the U.S. are Minot, South Dakota, where the house would cost you $139,000…or Canton, Ohio, with a $146,000 price tag.

Here's an obvious idea, dear reader: Sell the digs in Beverly Hills; buy in Killeen. But wait. You say there's nothing to do in Killeen? We don't know…we've never been there. Maybe they have no Starbucks…no TGIFs…no multi-plex cinemas…no super-shopping domes…no sports stadiums…no fancy restaurants. C'mon, use a little imagination. There must be something you can do. How about rodeos and bull riding contests? Maybe they hunt and fish. Maybe they spend long, slow Sunday afternoons rocking on the front porch. Or, maybe they just hang out at the local saloon. Hey…this is sounding like the sort of place we might like!

U.S. Gets a 'D' in Flation 101

"A fresh blow to the housing market," is how the Financial Times describes it.

The Daily Telegraph comes up with a more bodacious headline:

"US housing market in freefall as prices crash."

And follows up with this:

"Sales of new homes in the US plunged in August at the fastest rate since modern records began, prompting fears the economy is sliding into a full-blown recession…

"Total sales dropped 8.3% on the month and are now down 21.2% during the past year, a sign that the credit crunch has cut off mortgage funding for large numbers of people."

Both papers give us new data on house prices:

"The median home sale value fell 7.5% from $246,200 to $225,000, its lowest since January 2005," says the FT.

Two and a half years of price increase - wiped out.

But in go-go areas, even bigger gains have gone-gone. Miami was one of the hottest housing areas in the nation. Now, its condos are being marked to market. Here's the report:

"There are at least 50 buildings under construction or nearly completed in the downtown Miami area alone, consisting of about 20,000 units," reports David Sutta from in Miami.

"To move inventories along, developers have gone to the auction block to get them sold.

"On Thursday evening, at the Miami Biscayne Bay Marriott Hotel the gavel struck as auctioneers sold about 20 units in the 119-unit Platinum development owned by Alex Redondo.

"When it was all over, [one bidder] walked away with a two bedroom unit on the 19th floor. To put the price in perspective, a one bedroom priced at $350,000 sold on average at auction for $176,000, almost half.

"A two bedroom unit that sold for about $600,000 last year, sold on average for $295,000."

Yes, dear reader; if you are thinking of moving to Killeen, Texas, you better act soon. Those big housing gains are disappearing. In Miami, prices are being cut in half.

You might be thinking…well…one man's loss is another man's gain. But think again. While the bidders got apartments at half-price, the owners of other apartments saw their assets lose 50% of their value almost overnight. A week ago, they may have had an apartment worth $600,000. Now it is worth only $300,000 - and falling.

What happened to that $300,000? It vanished. Poof. That's what put the 'd' in deflation. Money d-isappears. Wealth d-issipates. Values d-ecline. The economy d-egenerates. People get d-epressed.

Meanwhile, stocks held steady yesterday. Stock market investors seem to think they've got a "Bernanke Put" on their hands - an option that will always protect them from losses; if stocks begin to go down…Bernanke will just cut rates.

But Robert McAdie, head of credit at Barclay's Capital, addressed the issue yesterday. He noted that though the Fed may cut rates, and may bail out a few large speculators, there is no guarantee that money will find its way into the hands of the people who really need it. A bank can borrow from the Fed at the Fed's rigged rates, but that doesn't mean it isn't going to be careful with the money. Rates dropped after the Fed funds cut last week, but long-term finance rates actually went up…and the gap between the Fed's rate and the banks' own interbank lending rates remained unchanged. What gives? Lenders are still worried. They're afraid they might let out some money…and not get it back. So, they demand a little extra return, as protection. In July, the spread between commercial paper and the fed funds rate was only four basis points. Now, it's 62.

Money is cheaper, generally, but as McAdie put it:

"Cheap money is now history. There are not going to be any more of the big leveraged buy-out deals for a long time because the CLO [collateralized loan obligations] market that financed them is effectively closed."

Oh my… The homeowners can't sell their houses. And the Wall Street hustlers can't sell their deals. How d-isappointing. How d-iscouraging. For example, the Bank of Montreal - Canada's fourth largest lender - announced that it couldn't get rid of its asset-backed paper. And the global mergers and acquisitions market got hit in the head with a brick. After setting a record in the first nine months of the year, the deals declined 42% in the third quarter.

What's an investor to do? Without 'deals on wheels,' what will keep stocks rolling? And without rising house prices, how will consumers keep spending? And without consumer spending (it is 72% of the economy…no economy in history ever depended so much on people spending money they didn't have on things they didn't need), what will prevent the U.S. economy from going into recession?

We don't know. But, as a dear reader remarks below, there are many things we don't know…

HK P30

I saw an article on the HK P30 yesterday--9 mm. It looks a bit like the HK 45 prototype. When will the HK 45 be ready? Larry Vickers has an article about the HK 45 in one of the gun magazines... Combat Arms? I forgot to write the title of the magazine down for you Sarge.

Interview with Fr. Fr. Manuel Folgar Otero

founder of Fraternitas Christi Sacerdotis et Beatae Mariae Reginae, here

Fraternitas Christi Sacerdotis et Beatae Mariae Reginae

Bacevich on Petraeus

Sycophant Savior
General Petraeus protects official Washington from its greatest fear: admitting it was Andrew J. Bacevich

From The New Atlantis


by Christine Rosen

The impact of social networking websites is already obvious in language (where to friend is now a verb), in politics (where presidential candidates catalogue their virtues on MySpace), and on college campuses (where shunning Facebook can be a social handicap). But we are only beginning to come to grips with the broader consequences of our use of these sites. Does this technology, with its constant pressures to collect friends and build status undermine our ability to attain what we want most from it—a surer sense of who we are and where we belong? Christine Rosen weighs the costs of online social networking.


by Habib Moody

The controversy over the role Blackwater USA played in a deadly shootout in Baghdad on September 16 raises larger questions about the use of private contractors—especially military provider firms like Blackwater—in Iraq. [Read more...]

More minor reforms?

"La Civiltà Cattolica" Now Has an Extra Director – In the Vatican

"La Civiltà Cattolica" is not, therefore, an official organ of the Holy See. But it is known that what it publishes "is not in disagreement with the directives of the Holy See on the various topics it examines." And this is enough to certify its importance and to make it obligatory reading for anyone who wants to study the viewpoints of the Catholic Church.


"L'Osservatore Romano" Has a New Director. A Concise Reader's Manual

La Civiltà Cattolica
L'Osservatore Romano

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Back to California

Tomorrow... if all goes according to plan.

Paul Hawken, Bill McKibben on Blessed Unrest and Deep Economics

via EB

Paul Hawken, Bill McKibben on Blessed Unrest and Deep Economics
Jon Lebkowsky, WorldChanging
Creating sustainable systems means transforming how we think about the world and its different economies -- of money, nature, agriculture, and more. Essentially it means rethinking our priorities. But how do we create these new frameworks, and translate them into community action?

These urgent questions are at the centers of two inspiring recent books: "Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming" (Viking, May 2007) by Paul Hawken, and "Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future" (Times Books, March 2007) by Bill McKibben. These authors have an obvious synergy, so I asked them to join me, along with Randy Jewart (of Austin Green Art), in a discussion to share with Worldchanging's readers.

This conversation took place in email over the first half of September, 2007. If you find it compelling, take action: buy both books in case lots, read them together, and organize groups for discussion and action.(24 September 2007)
Blessed Unrest
Paul Hawken - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World ...
Democracy Now! Author Paul Hawken on “Blessed Unrest: How the ...
KQED Forum: Paul Hawken: "Blessed Unrest"
Video Clip: Paul Hawken's Blessed Unrest Bioneers
Blessed Unrest
Blessed Unrest for a Wiser Earth: John Stauber Interviews Paul ...
Corporate Watchdog Radio: Paul Hawken's Blessed Unrest
John Stauber: An Interview with Paul Hawken
AlterNet: Paul Hawken: How to Stop Our Political and Economic ...
TreeHugger Radio: An Interview with Paul Hawken (TreeHugger)
Wired News Q&A: Green Guru Paul Hawken
Blessed Unrest - Let's Talk - Sierra Magazine - Sierra Club

YouTube - Paul Hawken on Blessed Unrest & Social Networking

Also from the same EB post:

Permaculture for the post carbon transition (Audio)
Andi Hazelwood, Global Public Media
Tim Winton of The Permaforest Trust Centre for Sustainability Education in Australia talks to GPM's Andi Hazelwood about using permaculture to make the post carbon transition. Winton also discusses the free multimedia talks and presentations from the Trust's accredited permaculture training courses, available online at Global Public Media and at the Permaforest Trust website.(25 September 2007)

Links to more material at the original article at GPM.

La Scorta to be remade?


When I heard about the original when it first came out, I wanted to see it, but didn't get the chance to do so. There was another Italian film I wanted to see, about a police officer (carbinieri?) who sort of adopts an parent-less brother and sister? Something like that... he is escorting them somewhere and along the way...

Haha someone else was looking for the title. Il Ladro di bambini, from 1992. Whoa... a while ago.

Lind, A Seam to Exploit?

A Seam to Exploit?

Ha Ji Won, KSW Bang Bang CF

Kwon Sang Woo & Ha Ji Won - Bang Bang CF

[CF] Kwon Sang Woo & Ha Ji Won - Bang Bang -

Making of BangBang CF (YTN Star News - 06/15/07)

Kwon Sang Woo & Ha Ji Won - Bang Bang CF ★ Making ★

Kwon Sang Woo & Ha Ji Won - Bang Bang CF ★Making&Interview

MBC Section TV 20070727 Ha Ji Won

Ha Ji Won - Interview on set of photoshoot on Ent Relay

Ha Ji Won - 1st fanmeeting in Japan on Entertainment Relay



Song Hye Gyo 'HwangJini' VIP premiere

Oooh Ha Jiwon...

Church in Central Africa Fights Witchcraft

Church in Central Africa Fights Witchcraft
Parishes Try to Instill Habit of Forgiveness

KOENIGSTEIN, Germany, SEPT. 25, 2007 ( On top of the many problems faced in Africa, the Church in the Central African Republic is battling against the idea that suffering and natural disasters are caused by witches.

Bishop Peter Marzinkowski of Alindao spoke with the group Aid to the Church in Need about the lingering belief in witchcraft. About one-quarter of the country is Catholic, one-quarter Protestant.

The prelate explained that many of the people have "no natural explanation for death, sickness or natural disasters." The people always look for a scapegoat who must, in their view, have caused the misfortune through witchcraft, he said.

Accusations of witchery can be hurled at anyone, Bishop Marzinkowski explained, and the accused can sometimes be killed as punishment.

Even Christians are sometimes guilty of thinking in this way, the German-born bishop added, given that the faith is not yet deeply rooted and "at the least difficulty they relapse back into their traditional way of thinking."


Bishop Marzinkowski said that the Church continues to preach the Gospel, and especially tries to instill the Christian concept of forgiveness.

"We must help the people to acquire a new image of God and man," he said.

The 68-year-old prelate explained that many parishes exclude people who have accused someone of witchcraft until they come to retract their accusations.

The bishop noted that belief in witchcraft is heightened by a prevailing fear in society.

The social support system is in ruins, he said, and state-run institutions such as schools and hospitals are no longer running.

He said the money that should be flowing in to development aid is mostly used to pay back the debt the country has incurred with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. "The repayments are strangling the country," Bishop Marzinkowski lamented.


The prelate detailed the Church's struggle to promote education, noting that the first battle is convincing family leaders of the need for literacy.

"We cannot proclaim the Gospel while being indifferent to everything else," Bishop Marzinkowski said. "A society in which there is no education cannot develop."

Anyone who calls himself a Christian must feel a sense of responsibility for his neighbor, Bishop Marzinkowski emphasized.

The episcopal motto that he chose at his ordination is "solidarity creates joy and life." Putting this motto into practice, he said, is "the duty of every Christian."

Holy See Statement on Climate Change

Holy See Statement on Climate Change
"All Have a Responsibility to Protect the Environment"

NEW YORK, SEPT. 25, 2007 ( Here is a statement from Monsignor Pietro Parolin, undersecretary for relations with states in the Vatican Secretariat of State, given Monday during an event on climate change.

* * *

Statement by Monsignor Pietro Parolin
Undersecretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States

62nd session of the U.N. General Assembly

High-level event on climate change titled "The Future Is in Our Hands: Addressing the Leadership Challenge of Climate Change"

New York, Sept. 24, 2007

Mr. Chairman,

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express some considerations of the Holy See in light of what we have heard today from the preceding distinguished speakers.

Climate change is a serious concern and an inescapable responsibility for scientists and other experts, political and governmental leaders, local administrators and international organizations, as well as every sector of human society and each human person.

My delegation wishes to stress the underlying moral imperative that all, without exception, have a grave responsibility to protect the environment.

Beyond the various reactions to and interpretations of the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the best scientific assessments available have established a link between human activity and climate change.

However, the results of these scientific assessments, and the remaining uncertainties, should neither be exaggerated nor minimized in the name of politics, ideologies or self-interest. Rather they now need to be studied closely in order to give a sound basis for raising awareness and making effective policy decisions.

In recent times, it has been unsettling to note how some commentators have said that we should actually exploit our world to the full, with little or no heed to the consequences, using a worldview supposedly based on faith. We strongly believe that this is a fundamentally reckless approach.

At the other extreme, there are those who hold up the earth as the only good, and would characterize humanity as an irredeemable threat to the earth, whose population and activity need to be controlled by various drastic means. We strongly believe that such assertions would place human beings and their needs at the service of an inhuman ecology.

I have highlighted these two extreme positions to make my point, but similar, though less extreme attitudes, would also clearly impede any sound global attempts to promote mitigation, adaptation, resilience and the safeguarding of our common future.

Mr. Chairman,

Since no country alone can solve the problems related to our common environment, we need to overcome self-interest through collective action. On the part of the international community, this presupposes the adoption of a coordinated, effective and prompt international political strategy capable of responding to such a complex question.

It would identify ways and means of mitigation and adaptation that are economically accessible to most, enhance sustainable development and foster a healthy environment.

The economic aspect of such ways and means should be seriously taken into account, considering that poor nations and sectors of society are particularly vulnerable to the adverse consequences of climate change, due to lesser resources and capacity to mitigate their effects and adapt to altered surroundings.

It is foreseeable that programs of mitigation and adaptation would meet a series of barriers and obstacles, not so much of a technological nature, but more so of a social nature, such as consumer behavior and preferences, and of a political nature, like government policies.

We must look at education, especially among the young, to change inbred, selfish attitudes toward consumption and exploitation of natural resources. Likewise, government policies giving economic incentives and financial breaks for more environmentally friendly technologies will give the private sector the positive signal they need to program their product development in such direction.

For instance, present-day research into energy mixes and improving energy efficiency would be made more attractive if accompanied by public funding and other financial incentives.

Mr. Chairman,

We often hear in the halls of the United Nations of “the responsibility to protect." The Holy See believes that applies also in the context of climate change. States have a shared “responsibility to protect” the world’s climate through mitigation/adaptation, and above all a shared “responsibility to protect” our planet and ensure that present and future generations be able to live in a healthy and safe environment.

The pace of achieving and codifying a new international consensus on climate change is not always matched by an equally expeditious and effective pace of implementation of such agreements.

States are free to adopt international conventions and treaties, but unless our words are matched with effective action and accountability, we would do little to avert a bleak future and may find ourselves gathering again not too long from now to lament another collective failure.

We sincerely hope that states will seize the opportunity that will be presented to them shortly at the next Conference on the Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bali.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

[Text adapted]

China's Seven Sorrows

China's Seven Sorrows
Interview With Mark Miravalle

ROME, SEPT. 25, 2007 ( Violations of human rights and religious freedom continue to be widespread in China, says the author of a book on the Asian country.

Mark Miravalle, a professor of theology and Mariology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, traveled to China last summer and saw firsthand the daily struggles of the people and the faithful in the country.

In this interview with ZENIT, he talks about his book "The Seven Sorrows of China" (Queenship Publications), and some of the testimonies from underground Church clergy, religious and laity, as well as a confidential interview with an underground bishop.

Q: What led you to visit China and write this book on the situation there?

Miravalle: I went to China with the sole intention of helping friends there who were taking in terminally ill abandoned orphans and caring for them in a Mother Teresa-type manner.

Each day instead brought with it an encounter with the horrific violations of human dignity and religious freedom that have been significantly neglected in the secular media's recent portrayal of a "new democratic and open" China. I found the opposite to be the case.

Women are being forced to have abortions by the population police in every province. Bishops and priests who refuse to cooperate with the government-run Chinese patriotic church are oftentimes hounded down, arrested, imprisoned and sometimes tortured.

Underground seminaries are at times no more than an abandoned building without electricity or heat. Religious and human-rights violations are ubiquitous.

Q: What are the seven sorrows of China that you refer to in the title of your book?

Miravalle: The seven sorrows represent seven categories or concrete cases of oppression presently being experienced by the Chinese people. For example, one sorrow conveys the account of a woman I met in a secret refugee house for pregnant women who wanted to have their babies in spite of government prohibitions. She had to flee the house in her hospital gown and rush into a taxi held by a Catholic religious sister in order to save her baby from abortion.

Another sorrow refers to an underground bishop who risked his life to give an interview so that the West could know the real story about religious persecution in China. Still another sorrow tells of a small Catholic village that, through Catholic solidarity Chinese-style, are having large families and public Catholic liturgies in spite of the one-child policy and government opposition to unsanctioned public religious gatherings.

Love of our Blessed Mother was so frequently referred to by members of the underground Church. I could not help but think of how her heart, pierced seven times historically because of the innocent suffering of her divine Son, continues to be pierced mystically as she observes the unjust suffering of the noble Chinese people. She sees Jesus in each innocent Chinese person tortured, abused, aborted. So should we.

Q: What about the fact that Beijing has been awarded the 2008 Olympics? Isn't the Chinese government trying to convince the West that it is more open and democratic?

Miravalle: This is precisely the question I asked the underground bishop I was able to interview.

We met secretly in an impoverished family dwelling near his cathedral, as he had numerous police watching the cathedral. His answer was, "The Chinese government is like the fox that goes up to the chicken and says, 'Happy New Year,' and then devours the chicken. We are not free to practice our Catholic faith. I have been imprisoned for a total of 20 years, where I have experienced hard labor, and witnessed the torture and killing of priests and laity."

When I suggested that perhaps it would be imprudent to include the reference to 20 years in prison for fear that it would break his anonymity, he said there would be no problem including this fact since all underground bishops have spent approximately 20 years in prison for refusing to compromise their Catholic faith and their loyalty to the Holy Father.

Q: Did the underground bishop have any comment on Benedict XVI's recent letter to the Church in China?

Miravalle: Yes, the bishop had received a copy of the letter just a few days before our interview. The Chinese government blocked all Web sites, including the Vatican Web site, that posted the Holy Father's letter, but the underground Church has its information networks.

The bishop praised Benedict XVI's letter for its wisdom and prudence. In fact, my interview with the bishop was interrupted 10 minutes after it began, because regional police came to the cathedral searching for the bishop. The people at the house were afraid they were taking the bishop back to prison.

A half-hour later, the bishop returned to our clandestine meeting place, and told me the police had come to warn him not to say anything publicly about the Pope's letter. The bishop then smiled and commented how the inevitable could not be stopped.

Q: What about the government's one-child policy? How is this being enforced?

Miravalle: I received testimonies from women who had gone to the hospital nine months pregnant and in labor, but without the government's certificate allowing for birth. After consultation with the population police, a doctor or nurse would re-enter the room with a needle and inject a substance into the abdomen of the woman, which would instantaneously kill the unborn child.

Other married couples would return home from the hospital with their second child and find their home burned to the ground. Still others would be forced to pay high fines or return to homes where everything was removed, including windows and doors, except for the kitchen table.

Does this sound like a new, democratic, religion-respecting government? What if any of our Western families received this type of treatment for trying to bring a beautiful new baby into the world?

Just last week, another underground bishop died in prison and his body was cremated six hours later in the middle of the night. Was there something to hide? What if this happened to one of our bishops in the West?

Q: Did you see any signs of hope for the Church in China during your visit?

Miravalle: Yes. In a few remarkable villages within provinces known for their heroic stands of faith and martyrdom for our Catholic faith under untold persecution, many families had multiple children and public Masses and Marian processions.

I flew to one particular village and interviewed the parish priest, asking how this was possible in light of Beijing's one-child policy. He answered, "Here, we are united. The priests would die for the bishop, and people would die and have died for their bishop and priests, and the bishop is completely loyal to the Holy Father. We are so united that they would have to wipe us all out, and they will not do that now."

I asked the parish priest and religious sister translating for us, what makes this village different. They responded: "We rely on the Eucharist, Our Lady, and the blood and prayers of the martyrs before us. Here we are Catholic. If you do not follow the Holy Father, then you are not Catholic."

Q: What can the Church in the West do to help the Church in China?

Miravalle: Our hearts should feel pierced as we hear of the daily plight of our Chinese Catholic brothers and sisters. This should lead to committed daily prayer for the Church and the people of China.

I also asked the underground bishop this question. He said, "Pray, pray for the Chinese Church. Finances can help, but most of all, pray."

The bishop added that Communism is not the only evil facing his people.

He shared: "In the last few years, my people are being affected with a secular, worldly idea of happiness, that they can find their ultimate happiness in this life. They have lost their desire for prayer and sacrifice. This is an even greater danger than the Communist government."

The bishop then exhorted, "Pray to Our Lady, Maria! She is the remedy for the situation in China. It is like the battle in the Book of Revelation, between the woman and the dragon. It is first a spiritual, cosmic battle. Pray to Our Lady for China."

The Bugnini-Liturgy and the Reform of the Reform

From Jeffrey Tucker:

I'm pleased to present to you, courtesy of the Church Music Association of America, what many consider to be the finest single book on the problem of liturgical transformation and transition between the old and new forms of the Roman Rite. It is Laszlo Dobszay's The Bugnini-Liturgy and the Reform of the Reform. This was published in 2003, and full anticipates the present moment. To pre-answer the inevitable question: yes, a new print edition is coming.

Well I already ordered my copies... since they were part of the last 80 that were still available. But now that they're going to reprint the book... ah well!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Declinism and Its Discontents

Tuesday, September 18: Declinism and Its Discontents

Rod Dreher (Beliefnet, Crunchy Cons, Dallas Morning News) and Cullen Murphy (Are We Rome?)

via Rod Dreher

Archbishop Chaput, Renewing the Church, Converting the World

Renewing the Church, Converting the World
By Charles J. Chaput

Tuesday, September 25, 2007, 7:08 AM
I’d like to start with a proposition. Here it is: To be a Christian is to believe in history.

Think about the Bible. All the great world religions have sacred books: the Qur’an, the Bhagavad-Gita, the Analects of Confucius. What those sacred texts have in common is that they’re essentially wisdom literature. They’re collections of noble teachings aimed at helping believers live ethically and find the right path to peace or happiness or enlightenment.

The Bible also aims to make people wise. But it does much more. It seeks to lead them to salvation, which is much more than enlightenment. The Bible’s starting point is totally different from any other sacred book. The first words are: “In the beginning . . .” The Bible begins with a step-by-step report of the first day in the history of the world.

The entire Old Testament is like that. After telling us about the first man and woman and their descendants, it proceeds to present a historical account of God’s chosen people, the children of Israel. We read about their captivity in Egypt, their deliverance and wandering to the Promised Land, the rise and fall of their kingdom, their exile and restoration. The biblical narratives are filled with dates and geography, even the names of foreign rulers.

The New Testament continues that history. It focuses on one particular child of Israel, Jesus of Nazareth, and the community he founded, the Church. The story is told with lots of references—some direct, others subtle—to that earlier history. Jesus is portrayed as fulfilling all that God promised in the Old Testament. The Church is described as the new people of God, the final realization of Israel’s calling to be God’s light to the nations. Here’s how the Gospel of Luke introduces the ministry of John the Baptist: “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee and his brother Philip tetrarch of . . .” You get the idea.

Christianity, thus, means believing definite things about history and about our own respective places in history. We don’t just profess belief in the Incarnation. We say we believe that God took flesh at a precise moment in time and in a definite place. Pontius Pilate and Mary are mentioned by name in the creed—and the reference to Mary, his mother, guarantees Christ’s humanity, while the reference to Pilate, who condemned him to death, guarantees his historicity.

All this ensures that we can never reduce the Incarnation to an abstract concept, a metaphor, or a pretty idea. It ensures that we can never regard Jesus Christ as some kind of ideal archetype or mythical figure. He was truly a man and truly God. And once he had a place he called home on this earth. There’s something else, too. We believe that this historical event, which happened more than 2,000 years ago, represents a personal intervention by God “for us men and for our salvation.” God entered history for you and me, for all humanity.

These are extraordinary claims. To be a Christian means believing that you are part of a vast historical project. And it’s not our project. It’s God’s. We believe that since the beginning of time God has been working out his own hidden purposes in the history of nations and in the biography of every person. He’s still unfolding his purposes today, and each of us here has a necessary part to play in his divine plan. Again, no other religion makes anywhere near these kinds of claims about the meaning of human life—and not just “human life” in general, but each and every individual human life. God willed each of us to be here. He loves us personally.

Let’s go back to the creed for a minute. We believe the Incarnation was a real historical event. For our salvation, Jesus came down from heaven at that point in history when Pilate was Caesar’s officer in Judea. And we believe that event changed everything. It’s the center and meaning of history. Everything before that was a prologue and a prelude. But what about everything after that? Well, that’s where we come in.

The creed not only tells us about the past. It also speaks of the future. We believe Jesus Christ will come again in glory to usher in a kingdom that will have no end. We anticipate that kingdom in every Eucharist, when he comes to us in the form of bread and wine. We live in joyful hope for the coming of the “end” of history—when “time no longer shall be,” as the Book of Revelation says.

Until that day, we live in the era of the Church. If the Incarnation represents the past, and the Second Coming represents the future, then the Church is always the “present tense” of God’s plan for history and for each of our lives.

Simply put, the Church is Jesus Christ risen and alive and working in the world through you and me. Paul said Christ is “one flesh” with the Church, like a man and woman become one flesh in marriage. We are the Church. In a mystical unity with Christ, we make up the family of God and the kingdom of God. And the Church we see on earth is united inseparably to the Church we can’t see in heaven, the communion of saints.

In all this, we have Christ’s promise that he will be with us until the end of the age. And he is. Through the Holy Spirit that guards the truth of what the Church teaches. Through the Eucharist and sacraments that sustain and sanctify us on our journey in this world.

A lot of people—and probably men even more than women—don’t “get” these connections between the divine and the human, the invisible and the visible, the spiritual and the material. And that leads to a lot of problems. We hear people all the time saying they’re upset with “the Church.” Or that “the Church” has let them down. Or that “the Church” has distorted Christ’s message and needs to be reformed.

I agree with these people. I’m not satisfied with the Church either. I want the Church to be more holy. I want the Church to purge all the corrupting influences of sin, temptation, and worldliness. I want the Church to be fearless in love, courageous in confronting evil, and eloquent in bearing witness to the Gospel in a culture of greed and despair.

But what most of those people are really complaining about is the clergy. Their definition of “the Church” includes only the visible leadership of the Church: the pope, the cardinals, the archbishops and bishops, the priests and deacons. That’s the Church they want to criticize and turn around.

I’m glad they hold bishops and priests, including me, to high standards. Members of the clergy should lead holy lives that are an example for the Church. I only wish these people would remember that the Church includes them, too. When Christ said, “Be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect,” he wasn’t talking only about the clergy. When he said, “Go and preach the Gospel to all nations,” he wasn’t talking only about religious professionals. The demands of holiness apply to every one of us—and in a special way to husbands and fathers who have the task of leading families. No excuses. No exceptions.

One of my inspirations as a Catholic adult was the French Catholic writer, Georges Bernanos, author of The Diary of a Country Priest. He wrote: “The visible Church is not only the ecclesiastical hierarchy. She is you, she is me—which means the Church is not always a pleasant thing. At times, it’s even been a very unpleasant thing to have to look at the Church up close.” Bernanos knew that if the Church was already holy and perfect, sinners like you and me would be frightened away. “Instead of feeling at home,” he insisted, “you would stop at the threshold of this congregation of supermen, turning your cap in your hands, like a poor beggar at the door of the Ritz.”

We all very easily agree that the Church needs to be renewed and revitalized. But we need to understand what Jesus Christ wants from us. What I suggest to you is this: The renewal of the Church begins inside each one of us. If the Church isn’t what we want her to be, it’s because you and I aren’t yet the men that Jesus Christ has called us to be.

A key part of your Catholic identity is to be a missionary; a missionary of God’s love. We think of missionaries as people like Matteo Ricci, the Jesuit who sailed off to evangelize China in the sixteenth century. But most of us are called to be missionaries in a much more ordinary and local way—in our families, neighborhoods and workplaces. Actually we’re living in an environment that’s much worse than official atheism. In our own country and throughout much of the developed world, we often hear that this is a “post-Christian moment” in history. But that’s just a polite way of saying that most people go about their lives as if the Incarnation had never happened.

In his last book, Memory and Identity, finished just before his death in 2005, Pope John Paul II warned us about this. He wrote: “Again and again we encounter the signs of an alternative civilization to that built on Christ as ‘cornerstone’—a civilization which, even if not explicitly atheist . . . is built upon the principle of thinking and acting as if God did not exist.”

That’s what we’re up against: an alternative civilization. The most powerful nations on earth are organized and operating as if they have no need for God. “Practical atheism” has become a world religion.

So what are you going to do? How are we going to convert this world? I want to suggest an answer from history.

Did you ever wonder how the early Church did it? I mean, how did a handful of very ordinary men, disciples of an obscure man executed as a criminal, wind up changing the world—conquering an empire and founding a whole new civilization on the cornerstone of that executed man’s life and teachings? And they did it in just a few centuries, without armies, and usually in face of discrimination and persecution.

Never before had a religion taught that God loved people personally and that God’s love began before the person was even born. Abortion and birth control were rampant in the Roman Empire. Christians rejected both of them from the beginning. Athenagoras, a Christian layman, explained why in an open letter he addressed to Emperor Marcus Aurelius. He said: “For we regard the very fetus in the womb as a created being, and therefore an object of God’s care.”

Before Christianity came on the scene, no religion had ever taught that God could be found in our neighbor. The world largely ignored the poor, the hungry, the stranger, and the imprisoned. And it still does. And yet Jesus said that we find God in our love for these least brethren of ours.

Christian love is not weak or anesthetic. It’s an act of the will. It takes guts. It’s a deliberate submission of our selfishness to the needs of others. There’s nothing “unmanly” about it, and there’s nothing—and I mean nothing—more demanding and rewarding in the world. The heart of medieval knighthood and chivalry was the choice of a fighting man to put himself at the service of others—honoring his lord, respecting the dignity of women, protecting the weak, and defending the faith even at the cost of his own life.

That’s your vocation. That’s what being a Christian man means. We still have those qualities in our hearts. We are not powerless in the face of today’s unbelieving civilization. We can turn this world upside down if only we’re willing to love—the kind of Christian love that is vastly more powerful than just a sugary feeling; the kind of love that converts men into something entirely new; the kind of love that bears fruit in a man’s zeal, courage, justice, mercy, and apostolic action.

So I leave you with this: Be men who love well. Be the Catholic men God intended you to be. Be men of courage and fidelity to your God, your wives, your families, and your Church. Put your belief into practice. Do everything for the glory of God, even the little things you have to do each day. Love those who don’t love you. Love—expecting nothing in return. Love—and those you love will find Jesus, too. Love—and through your actions, God will change this world.

Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., is the archbishop of Denver. This talk was given in September at an Indianapolis men’s conference for Legatus.

Anthony Gregory, The Diagnosis of a Dying Republic

The Diagnosis of a Dying Republic
by Anthony Gregory

Mr. Gregory reviews Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic by Chalmers Johnson (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2006), 368 pages; $26.

Kurt Cobb, Peak oil conspiracies

Peak oil conspiracies
by Kurt Cobb

MG, The Economic Boffo Comic

The Economic Boffo Comic

Last week we set a new record in the national debt, which has now officially breached the $9 trillion mark.

We are also setting records in sheer, slimy corruption, as the limit on that debt (as last set by Congress), was only $8.965 trillion, and is now overspent by Congress (except Ron Paul) and they are all pretending not to notice! What absolute dirtbags!

And speaking of dirtbags, I cannot believe that Christopher Dodd, longtime chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, has not resigned in disgrace at this subprime fiasco (which, lest we need reminding, originated in the banks, as do all economic crises). I mean, he was THE guy in the Senate Banking Committee position to look at this crap and say, "Whoa! Maybe That Idiot Mogambo (TIM) is onto something here, because these insane degrees of money and credit expansion by the banks are obviously wrong, and if we keep this crap up we are going to be freaking doomed!"

Even more amazing, I can't believe that he is actually running for President! Hahahaha! The most provably economically clueless weenie in Congress now wants to take his worthless act to the White House! Hahaha!

The only saving grace in this whole stinking mess is that I am not from Connecticut, the weird little state that actually elected, and consistently reelected and reelected, this selfsame Christopher Dodd, and who now must live with the shame of having done so.

Inflation eats into China's mooncakes

Inflation eats into China's mooncakes
By Antoaneta Bezlova

Card Van Thuan, from prison towards the altar

Card Van Thuan, from prison towards the altar
The news of the opening of the process for the canonisation was received with great joy. For 13 years in prison, he celebrated the mass with three drops of wine. An exemplary witness of the faith for his people and the entire Catholic world.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) – Vietnam has joyfully received the news that Benedict XVI approved the request for the opening of the process for the canonisation of cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan, who is consider in his own country as in the rest of the world and extraordinary example of loyalty to the Church and an man of justice and peace.

Those who knew him, remember him as a witness who sacrificed 13 years of his life in the prisons of his nation’s communist regime. A witness of faith in Christ, a protector of the Church. “I read – Fr. Franco tells AsiaNews – the book that the cardinal wrote in prison. Every day he spent there he celebrated mass by holding three drops of wine in his hands. His book – continues the priest – was translated into eight languages, so every make of person has the possibility of reading it. Personally, I conserve the image of a thoughtful person who worked hard, prayed deeply and forgave all those who threatened him or did him harm”.

“With his entire heart – adds Lan, a Catechist from the diocese of Saigon – he worked with enthusiasm and dedication for the Churches’ mission. Cardinal Nguyen Van Thun is an example of holiness for Vietnams’ Catholics and for the entire world”.

To all effects the Vietnamese Catholics’ are convinced that card. Van Thuan was a witness of faithfulness throughout his life. Even in prison oppressed by the communist regime, he always prayed and forgave these his “brothers”. His physical and spiritual sufferings are an example of Christian justice and peace. Even when he was president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace he helped the poorest parts of the world. The same council defined Cardinal Van Thuan “the Churches witness for the peace and hopes of peoples. He spent 13 years in prison, but during his life time he was lucid, wise and ardent”.

The announcement of the papal decision to allow the process for the canonisation of card. Van Thuan to be opened was given on September 9 the fourth anniversary of his death by his predecessor at the Council, card. Martino.

Papal Message on Cardinal Van Thuân
Cause for Cardinal Van Thuân Opens
Van Thuân Observatory on Laity
Cardinal Van Thuân's Cause to Begin

Bill Bonner, New Changes in Nascent China

New Changes in Nascent China

He writes: "Yesterday, we went to mass at the nearby Catholic Church…the poor priest had an uphill slog. The Bible reading was about money. "A man cannot serve two masters," he quoted the Nazarene. Clearly, there is a choice to be made. But put the question to a random group of Americans, French, or English…in 2007…we're not sure which way it will go."

So, Bill Bonner is Catholic? Or his wife?

Allan Carlson, Here's a way for America to give it a shot

Allan Carlson: Here's a way for America to give it a shot

09:34 AM CDT on Sunday, September 23, 2007

We know that state socialism doesn't work – but is the unrestrained free market the only alternative? In his forthcoming book Third Ways: How Bulgarian Greens, Swedish Housewives, and Beer-Swilling Englishmen Created Family-Centered Economies – And Why They Disappeared , social historian Allan C. Carlson explores 20th-century economic experiments attempted by democratic Europeans who didn't want traditional society bulldozed by either big business or big government.

What is a "family-centered economy," and how does it differ from our own economy?

Such an economy would treat the family grounded in marriage, not the individual, as its fundamental unit. Real property would be so treasured that every household would have some. Where outside employment was necessary, it would favor the payment of a "family wage" to the head-of-household so that the other parent – normally the mother – might devote herself to children and home production.

It would give strong legal and financial preferences to family-held businesses, rather than to joint-stock corporations. This economy would use differential taxation to favor small farms and independent shops, while discouraging mega-farms and retail chains. It would favor home offices for doctors, lawyers, accountants and other professionals. It would encourage families to create home businesses, to garden, to engage in modest animal husbandry and to homeschool their children. And it would frown on advertising that relied on the vices of lust, sloth, greed, gluttony, envy and pride.

With the exception of giving a preference to owner-occupied homes, our existing economy really does none of these things.

Social conservatives bemoan the destruction of the traditional family and communities, but aside from scholars like you, very few have made the connection between that phenomenon and the economic policies favored by conservative politicians. Why not?

Some of the confusion comes from the "fusionism" that has dominated conservative thought since the 1950s. This scheme sees free-market individualism in creative tension with the traditional institutions of family, neighborhood and religion. This approach made some sense when both sides faced a common enemy in expansive communism. Reaganism might have been the fusionist apogee.

However, as the communist empire rapidly dissolved in the late 1980s, the fusionist alliance no longer held. The income-maximizing capitalist had no immediate interest in preserving marriages, families or viable communities; all stood in the way of profit. The Republican Party has tried to paper over the growing chasm. Most Republicans talk "family values" and may even vote that way at times when the issue is of little importance to the corporations (for example, "same-sex marriage").

However, when the interests of families and big business collide, Republican leaders quickly line up behind the latter. For example, the bankruptcy reform act of 2005 gave vast new protections to predatory credit card issuers while turning affected families into the indentured servants of banks and credit card bureaus.

Why did the various European experiments to find a "Third way" between the free-market capitalist model and the state-socialist model mostly fail?

The primary reason lay in the relative decency of Third Way advocates in an era dominated by violence and moral monsters. In Russia, for example, Alexander Chayanov constructed a theory of and program for "the natural family economy." He believed that the Russian Revolution of 1917 was about intellectual freedom, democracy and economic justice, involving the distribution of land to the peasants. He failed to foresee the rise and brutality of Stalin and died in the gulag.

Agrarian leaders who came to power in eastern Europe also placed their faith in democracy and constitutional governance and implemented policies favoring family-scale agriculture and manufacturing. Alas, their enemies – communists, fascists, militarists, royalists and monopolists – were more ruthless, ready to crush democracy and to murder the elected peasants. Swedish socialist homemakers, who believed that women's liberation meant freedom from working in factories, successfully built an economy favoring a family wage for the men and full-time mothering for them. However, in the early 1970s – a period known as "Red Sweden" – they fell victim to the radical social-engineering schemes of [Prime Minister] Olaf Palme.

What would a Third Way for contemporary America look like – and would it find support in either political party?

A contemporary American Third Way would build on those sweet cultural revolutions already spreading in the land. Homeschooling, a rarity three decades ago, now embraces 2.5 million children and is reinventing American education on a family-centered model.

After a century of decline, family-scale agriculture is growing again. "There has never been a better time to be a farmer" crows Small Farmer's Journal this month. Market demand for organic foods has tripled the income of many family farms; there are 4,500 farmers markets in 2007, up from 1,750 in 1994; Community Supported Agriculture farms, where farmers and their customers form a partnership, may number 3,000 (none in 1985). A surging worldwide demand for milk has also reinvigorated family dairies.

Meanwhile, the number of home-based businesses in the United States may be as high as 36 million, quadruple the number found in 1990. Since most American laws and regulations still favor mass schooling, agribusiness, centralized factories and big-box chains, these gains remain fragile. All the same, the political party that genuinely embraces this emerging family-centered Third Way will know success.

Allan C. Carlson is president of the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society in Rockford, Ill. His e-mail address is This Q&A was conducted by editorial columnist Rod Dreher. His e-mail address is

via The Distributist Review

Westminster Cathedral Choir

The NLM has two posts: The Best Catholic Choir in the World and The Full-bodied Westminster Sound

The choir has a new release, Palestrina's Third Book of Lamentations.

Michael E. Lawrence mentions in the comments for the first post the Brabant Ensemble as "an early music choir with a robust but tasteful sound." Their artist page for Hyperion Records. Signum Records.

BBC - Radio 3 - In Tune - 20 August 2007 (hm, new disc of music by Nicolas Gombert)

Cardinal Ruini on Evangelizing Europe

Cardinal Ruini on Evangelizing Europe
A Review of an International Congress in Budapest

BUDAPEST, Hungary, SEPT. 24, 2007 ( Cardinal Camillo Ruini attended the International Congress on the New Evangelization as Benedict XVI's special envoy.

It was the fifth evangelization congress to be hosted in a European capital since 2003. It concluded with a program of evangelization.

In this interview with Vatican Radio, Cardinal Ruini says that prayer is needed in order to relaunch the evangelization of Europe.

Q: What was your assessment of the conference?

Cardinal Ruini: [I give it] a very positive assessment and an encouraging one I would say: It showed that the Church in Budapest is a living Church and the missionary spirit is profoundly present in the clergy and also in God’s people.

Q: What impressed you the most?

Cardinal Ruini: The fact that this mission took place in the capital of a state that belongs to former communist Europe, an area in which the Church was for a long time in conditions of great suffering. This public event -- crowned by the presence of 15,000 people Thursday night at the outdoor Mass -- is certainly a sign of great hope.

Q: How can we relaunch the evangelization of Europe?

Cardinal Ruini: Work needs to be done, above all, in the area of prayer, of personal witness, but also on the cultural level, so that European culture can rediscover its Christian roots.

Q: Are Christians at risk of becoming more and more marginalized on the old Continent?

Cardinal Ruini: There are, without a doubt, forces at work that tend to marginalize them, certain forces that are going in this direction. But, thanks to the Lord, there are also contrasting forces that reaffirm the importance of the Christian presence. I believe that European peoples are more aware of how important Christianity is, not only for the past, but for the present and for the future.

Q: How can we re-establish a fruitful dialogue between new currents of thought and the Christian faith?

Cardinal Ruini: This dialogue can be re-established -- and it is already being re-established -- around the fundamental problems that Europe is facing: problems of its identity, but also the problem of man, of what man is, of who man is, if man is only a piece of nature or is created in the image of God, if he has an inviolable dignity or not. I think that dialogue on these big questions is already under way.

Q: What are your hopes?

Cardinal Ruini: My hopes are that this missionary momentum, which began in Rome -- we remember the citywide mission in Rome in 1996 and 1999, in preparation for the Great Jubilee, and then spread to many other Italian dioceses and now to five European capitals -- will be a momentum that will spread through the entire Church in Europe, so that the new evangelization will not only be a principle that we affirm, but a reality that we live.

Fr. Cantalamessa responds to Christopher Hitchens

A Response to Hitchens' "God Is Not Great"
Father Cantalamessa Analyzes Attack on Religion

ROME, SEPT. 24, 2007 ( Here is the text of a commentary written by Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the Pontifical Household, in response to an essay on religion and evolution written by Christopher Hitchens.

* * *


A few weeks ago an anonymous benefactor saw to it that I received a free Italian edition of an essay by the Anglo-American journalist Christopher Hitchens, titled "God Is Not Great," subtitled "How Religion Poisons Everything" (Giulio Einaudi, Turin/New York 2007).

I'm quite sure his aim was not to provoke me, but to help me out of the deception I find myself in as a believer and as a TV commentator on the Gospel.

Let me say at once that I'm grateful to my unknown friend. Many of the author's reproaches against believers of all religions -- the book treats Islam no better than Christianity, which shows considerable courage on the part of the author -- are well founded, and must be taken seriously so that the same errors of the past are not repeated in the future. The Second Vatican Council states that the Christian faith can and should benefit even from the criticisms of its attackers, and this is certainly one of those cases.

But Hitchens, in my view, makes a mountain out of every molehill. He claims to follow the Gospel principle of judging the tree by its fruits, but as for the tree of religion, he only considers the rotten fruits, never the good ones. The saints, the geniuses and benefactors given to humanity by the faith or nourished by it, count for nothing.

Using the same principles -- I mean, by considering only the dark side of an institution -- one could write a "black book" about any of the great human realities: the family; medicine (just think what it was used for at Auschwitz); politics and science, and about the author's own profession, journalism (how many times has it been, and still is, in the service of tyrants and serving the interests of powerful groups!).

No one is exempt from his criticisms. Francis of Assisi? "A mammal who was said to have preached to birds!"

Mother Teresa of Calcutta? "An ambitious Albanian nun" made famous by the book "Something Beautiful for God," written about her by Malcolm Muggeridge. In other words, Mother Teresa is just one of many products of the media age!

Pascal concludes his account of his discovery of the living God with the words: "Joy, joy, tears of joy." And C.S. Lewis describes his conversion as being "surprised by joy," but for Hitchens "there is something dreary and absurd" in these two authors, as in all believers: a fundamental absence of happiness. ("Why does such a belief not make its adherents happy?")

Dostoyevsky is one of the main witnesses for religion, but the arguments put into the mouth of the rebel atheist Ivan are given more attention than those of the pious Alysosha who, as is well known, reflects much more closely the thought of the author himself.

Tertullian becomes a "church father" so that his "credo quia absurdum" -- I believe because it is absurd -- can be interpreted as the thought of Christianity as a whole, whereas it is well known that when he wrote these words (here interpreted outside of their proper context and in an inexact way) the Church considered Tertullian a heretic.

Strange that the author should criticize Tertullian, because if there is one apologist he resembles, like a reversed reflection in a mirror, it is precisely the African: The same energetic style, the same will to triumph over his adversary by burying him under a mass of apparently -- but only apparently -- insuperable arguments: quantity replacing quality of argument.

An English reviewer (J. Cornwell of The Tablet) has compared the author of this book to "a tired old prizefighter throwing weary punches at an inert punching-bag while the true champ he'd like to duff up is absent from the gym."

He does not demolish the true faith, but a caricature of it. Reading the book, I was reminded of the sport of clay pigeon shooting: The ready-made targets are hurled into the air, and the marksman, aiming his shots with fine precision, blasts them to bits effortlessly.

Hitchens attacks the various religious fundamentalisms with an opposite kind of fundamentalism. In the Italian secular newspaper La Repubblica, Renzo Guolo wrote: "Hitchens' work looks like the militant manifesto of a world that appears polarized between the disturbing champions of fundamentalism, with their crazy projects for new, totalitarian ethical states, and the supporters of an integral neo-secularism which undervalues the search for meaning on which many are engaged in this age of the 'end of the narratives.'"

Hitchens shows signs of another kind of fundamentalism too: Although with the opposite intention, he reads Scripture, especially the Old Testament, in exactly the same way as certain biblical fundamentalists of the American evangelical variety -- literally, without any effort to contextualize or interpret the text historically. This enables him to speak of "the nightmare of the New Testament."

But Christopher Hitchens is an intelligent man. He foresees that religion will survive even his attack, just as it has survived countless others before it, and he goes to the trouble of providing an explanation for this embarrassing fact.

"Religious faith," he writes, "precisely because we are still-evolving creatures, is ineradicable. It will never die out, or at least not until we get over our fear of death, and of the dark, and of the unknown, and of each other."

Religion is only a provisional, intermediate state, connected with the situation of man as "an evolving being." Thus the author tacitly assumes the role of one who has single-handedly broken through this barrier, anticipating the end of evolution and "returning" to earth, like Nietzsche's Zarathustra, to enlighten poor mortals about the way things really are.

I repeat: One cannot fail to acknowledge the author's extraordinary erudition and the relevance of some of his criticisms. The pity is, by trying to win the argument hands down, he fails to convince.

[Text adapted]

East and West Form One Church, Says Pope

East and West Form One Church, Says Pope
Addresses Visiting Bishops From Ukraine

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 24, 2007 ( Benedict XVI affirmed that Eastern and Roman Catholics are united in forming one Church.

The Pope said this today when receiving in audience the bishops of the Latin rite of Ukraine, in Italy for their five-yearly visit and accompanied by Greek-Catholic bishops from that country. They visited Benedict XVI at the papal summer residence south of Rome.

The Holy Father stated: "In the variety of its rites and historical traditions, the one Catholic Church in every corner of the earth announces and bears witness to the one Jesus Christ, the Word of salvation for all men and for all of man.

"It is for this reason that the effectiveness of all our pastoral and apostolic projects depends, above all, on faithfulness to Christ."

The Pope asked for an intensified collaboration between the Latin-rite bishops and the Greek-Catholic bishops in Ukraine "for the good of the entire Christian people."


"Animated by this spirit," the Pontiff told the prelates, "it is not difficult for you [...] to intensify cordial cooperation between Latin bishops and Greek-Catholic bishops, for the good of the entire Christian people. Thus you have the opportunity to coordinate your pastoral plans and your apostolic activities, always offering testimony of that ecclesial communion which is also an indispensable condition for ecumenical dialogue with our brethren in the Orthodox and other Churches."

The Holy Father suggested to the Latin and Greek-Catholic bishops that they meet at least once a year, reaching "agreement between yourselves in order to make pastoral activity ever more harmonious and effective. I am convinced that fraternal cooperation between pastors will be an encouragement and a stimulus for all the faithful to grow in unity and apostolic enthusiasm, and that it will also favor fruitful ecumenical dialogue."

Benedict XVI highlighted the prelates' efforts "to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel in the dear land of Ukraine, sometimes encountering no small number of difficulties but always supported by the awareness that Christ guides his flock with a sure hand, the flock that he himself entrusted to your hands as his ministers."

New from Ignatius Press

plus some old stuff...

Michael O'Brien's latest novel, Island of the World
James V. Schall, S.J., The Order of Things (Why do things exist? The meaning of being.)
Jesus, The Apostles, and the Early Church
From Cardinal Schoenborn, Chance or Purpose?

Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word (Vol. II): Meditations on the Gospel According to St. Matthew
oops... forgot about Volume 2 (The Gospel of St. Matthew: The Unity of the Life of Jesus)

Into Great Silence (the director's two-disc special edition)
Maria Goretti
A Man for All Seasons (special edition!!! I hate it when a SE is released much later...)
Amazing Grace
Saint Rita
St. John Bosco: Mission to Love
Sophie Scholl
To End All Wars
The Passion of the Christ - Definitive Edition
Au Revoir Les Enfants (Criterion Collection)

Communion of Saints: St. Robert Bellarmine on the Mystical Body of Christ John A. Hardon, S.J.
Abbot Vonier and the Christian Sacrifice Introduction to Abbot Vonier's A Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist Aidan Nichols, O.P.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Project A TV series?

Apparently it's been adapted from the original Jackie Chan movie by Wong Jing... now available on DVD. It features one of the Twins, Gillian Chung, and Liu Yuanyuan (some Mainland actress). Dicky Cheung plays the main character. (Not sure if there will be that much kung-fu action...)

More Kirkpatrick Sale links

The Bioregional Vision
Wired interview
Schumacher and Survival Economics (KS page)
Lessons from the LudditesEconomics of Scale vs. the Scale of Economics
EF Schumacher Society stuff
Stop Shopping
Breakdown of Nations -- alt (look up Leopold Kohr; The Wisdom of Leopold Kohr, by Ivan Illich; "Disunion Now"; Leopold Kohr page)
Technofix or Human Scale
Rebel Against the Future interview
America's New Luddites
Robert Fulton, The Fire of His Genius; Steaming Into the Future; Fulton's Steamboat Sensation
JSTOR: The Desirable Scale of States

King and I (2007) - SBS Entertainment news (2007-09-12)

Great King Four God Story



太王四神記 태왕사신기 - Trailer

태왕사신기 太王四神記 Opening

太王四神記 태왕사신기 - MBC Section TV (2007-08-24)




CEN070915 Uhm Jung Hwa

Baek Ji Young(백지영) - 나쁜사람(황진이 ost)

Baek Ji Young - Sarang Ahn Hae (SBS Inky Gayo)

Hwang Jin-Yi Bloopers! (NG's)

Baek Ji Young - Sarang An Hae (Jung Da Bin MV)

Baek Ji Young - I Won't Love ( 백지영 - 사랑안해 )

백지영 - 사랑은아름답습니다

白智英 백지영 EZ Do dance live

EZ Do Dance - Baek Ji Young kpop mv

ゴムとチソコによるEZ do dance

Stuff from Movies IGN

John Rambo's Fitting End
Co-star talks Stallone sequel.

Dini Writing Gatachaman
Batman scribe boards movie adaptation.

ADVFilms page for Gatchaman

In Boston for a few days

to finish packing and shipping...

Slow Food International


Slow Food is a non-profit, eco-gastronomic member-supported organization that was founded in 1989 to counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world.
Slow Food USA

wiki for Carlo Petrini, the founder
Slow Food; The Case for Taste; Carlo Petrini
Carlo Petrini: The slow food tsar - Independent Online Edition ...
92510: the East Bay Blog - Slow Food Founder Harshes on Local ...
TIME Europe Heroes 2004
some pdf
Whole Foods Market : Press Room : Exclusive Interview with Slow ...
Special Guest Interview: Carlo Petrini - Whole Foods Market Podcast
Summer 2007 - Slow Food founder Petrini is inaugural lecturer at ...
Atlantic Unbound Interviews 2002.11.14
Gabriela’s Feast - Slow Food Carmel
Farmers and chefs get ready for a Slow Food picnic

Slow Food Nation: An Evening With Carlo Petrini

Hyori lee- making Tucson CF

LeeHyori - AnyMotion(Korea Cf festival)

Lee Hyori - Anymotion - 2007.9.18 MBC Korean TV AD Festival

이효리 - Vidal Sasson CM