Saturday, January 17, 2009

Taylor Swift, Love Story MV

For Sarge -- Here.

I had not watched the MV until today; Sarge had mentioned that it had an Austen thing going for it. Not quite the right period, but I know what he means. I suppose the MV will appeal to teenage girls dreaming of romance. Not knowing the story behind the video I would think that someone might have been inspired by the most recent adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

Taylor Swift Talks About Love Story Music Video

Video Interview: The Story Behind Taylor Swift’s ‘Love Story’
MTV Buzzworthy Blog » Video Interview
Taylor Swift Interview — Exclusive
Taylor Swift HD "LOVE STORY" & Interview CMA Festival Exclusive
Video: Taylor Swift - Interview and Love Story
Q&A: Taylor Swift : Rolling Stone
Funny Taylor Swift Interview Before 2008 ACM Awards

Marie Miller performing @ Christendom

Mr. Armstrong is a fan, so I decided to check her out. No Myspace or official page yet, I don't think.

Curb Records

Wrote too soon--here is her official site.
Maureen Ryan: 'Battlestar Galactica's' Ron Moore addresses the shocking developments of 'Sometimes a Great Notion'

via AICN
Daniel Larison continues to hold out: Resisting The Facebook Menace
On auction: the painting of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy (via Jane Austen Blog)
Washington Post: TV Converter Program Runs Out of Funding
City Journal: Brendan Boyle, Middlebrow Messiahs
Alex Beam’s engaging new history of the Great Books

Robert Hutchins didn’t think much of his Yale education, which he said had “nothing to do with any intellectual development.” He didn’t keep this opinion to himself. When the Yale class of 1921 elected him “most likely to succeed,” he delivered a speech titled, “Should Institutions of Higher Learning Be Abolished?” Alex Beam’s A Great Idea at the Time shows what an odd answer to this question Hutchins had in mind. On the one hand, he spent most of his adult life running such institutions, first as dean of Yale Law School, then as president of the University of Chicago. On the other, he had such a peculiar sense of what higher education meant that, had he succeeded in reforming the modern university, it might well have ceased to exist, at least as we know it.

Hutchinson’s models of a collegiate education were the medieval Trivium—rhetoric, grammar, and logic—and Quadrivium—arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. Technical knowledge was to be strenuously avoided: “Facts are the core of an anti-intellectual curriculum,” he observed. “Facts do not solve problems. . . . The gadgeteers and the data collectors have threatened to become the supreme chieftains of the scholarly world.” The true stewards of the university, said the career administrator, should be those who deal with the most fundamental problems: metaphysicians.

Christians can make use of metaphysics--but I don't think they would claim this with respect to the medieval university. After all, they have access to a higher Wisdom. Some contemporary academics who would lay claim to the name of metaphysician probably can't be trusted to find answers to 'the most fundamental problems.'
From LRC:
Just Say No to Cops
Bill Buppert on the case for reduction and elimination.
I didn't go to April Verch's performance in Berkeley last night, as you can tell, nor did I go to Rhonda Vincent's on Thursday. I have to get that window fixed--I wasn't about to leave a car in that condition on the streets of Berkeley. (And is it easy to find parking at or near the Freight and Salvage Coffee House? I looked up its address and directions on its website, and I don't recall there being any parking garages in that area. But there may well be one.)

I do not have any particular reason to go to the campus. I suppose if someone wanted a tour there, I could give one, but I'd have to check out the website and become familiar with all of the changes that have been made to the campus (and the new buildings that have been constructed) since I was there. I heard last Sunday at STA that the GTU bookstore has been closed. (Some of the regulars were talking about how many of the bookstores in Berkeley had been closed.) How about a walk along Telegraph Ave.?

The other day I was sampling bluegrass albums--I found it odd that while I enjoy much of what I can find on YouTube from artists like Rhonda Vincent and April Verch, the number of songs on any album that I like (or think are good!) rangers from maybe half the album to 3/4. Is it true even in bluegrass that some songs are put on albums merely as filler? Surely it can't be that whoever is in charge (the manager, artists, or execs) think that every song on the album is that good and marketable? If only they would perform the classics and traditional folk songs...

What does the name Tiana mean? I found out that her brother is Vincent from 1st grade. She's a Chinese Vietnamese, and was talking some Cantonese to me in class, which I didn't mind. Both she and her brother are a bit hyper and don't stay on task for long. Nature or nurture?

Yesterday they were drawing some posters for a poster conference. The theme? Draw about something you'd like to learn this year, or something you want to do better. One of the children told me, "--- said he wants to learn how to do S-E-X." "EWWW!" What's going on in that home? (This was a third grade class.)
Twitch: US Trailer For CHOCOLATE
Wonderful. A herniated disc.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Crunchy Con introduces a new blog: The Humane Economy

Biography of Wilhelm Röpke (1899-1966): Humane Economist
A Conservative Program for a Kinder, Gentler America (Russell Kirk on Roepke)
Crisis of the Modern Welfare State
New Individualist Review
ISI Books: A Humane Economy

Is there anything more disturbing...

than a room of people trying to pray in tongues? Some of them sounded very freaky.

The OD asked me to go to his church service tonight, and I figured I would go this time, since he has been persistent about it recently. Afterwards various members of his church were encouraging me to come again... a natural reaction to a new person who seems interested.

I'll have to find some new ways to refuse him nicely... or maybe I'll have to be blunt.

It reminds me of this post by the Western Confucian: Right Understanding of the Holy Spirit, which is centered on the document of the same name recently issued by the Committee for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, which provides some guidelines for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement.

THE CBCK: 한국 천주교 주교회의 / 한국천주교중앙협의회

The document may be online, but since I don't know Korean, I can't search for it.

The Catholic Charismatic Center on the World Wide Web
Welcome to Chariscenter USA
Catholic Charismatic Center Home Page
Holy Spirit Interactive: Catholic Charismatic Renewal
Catholic Charismatic Renewal -- San Francisco

Waldstein on Forming Values

Waldstein on Forming Values

"We Parents Must Wake Up and Take Action"

MEXICO CITY, JAN. 16, 2009 ( Here is the text of the address given today by Michael Waldstein, Max Seckler Professor of Theology at Ave Maria University, Florida, at the 6th World Meeting of Families, under way in Mexico. The address was titled: "The Family: Forming Human and Christian Values: Overview of USA and Canada."

* * *

In his letter to the World Meeting of Families in Valencia, Pope Benedict wrote, "Today more than ever, the Christian family has a very noble mission that it cannot shirk: the transmission of the faith, which involves the gift of self to Jesus Christ who died and rose, and insertion into the Ecclesial Community. Parents are the first evangelizers of children, a precious gift from the Creator (cf. Gaudium et spes, n. 50), and begin by teaching them to say their first prayers. In this way a moral universe is built up, rooted in the will of God, where the child grows in the human and Christian values that give life its full meaning."

The vision of this statement is clear and strong. Do families in the United States and Canada live up to it? Do they introduce their children to the sincere gift of self to Christ? Do they help them become mature members of the Ecclesial Community? The positive side needs to be mentioned first. Many families do follow their mission with admirable strength and devotion.

At the same time one must admit that many families fall short of their mission. The United States and Canada built up extensive systems of Catholic schools. Catholic parents have traditionally delegated much of their responsibility as educators to these schools and they are still delegating it. The schools, however, have changed. Like all academic institutions, they have become increasingly secularized, which severely compromises the transmission of the faith.

Strong efforts are being made in some places to strengthen the identity and effectiveness of Catholic schools. A few weeks ago, Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC, published a pastoral letter that is spearheading a renewal of the Catholic school system in his diocese. He sees the urgency of the situation and is calling for broad cooperation in the renewal. Yet this is only one diocese among many.

A more fundamental problem, however, arises from the strong reliance of most parents on the schools. Children spend much time at school and relatively little time with their parents. Only during vacations is the situation different. Since the life they share with their parents is often reduced to a minimum when school is in session, it is not easy to build up such a life during vacations. Parents and children often do not know what to do with each other during vacations.

There is another major force that is taking much of education out of the hands of the family, namely, the global youth culture. It is important to realize that this youth culture is a new phenomenon. It only began after the Second World War.

Two forces are perhaps the most formative in this youth culture. One of them is the sexual revolution. The sexual revolution is a child of the dominant utilitarian and consumerist adult culture after the Second World War. Utilitarianism and consumerism inevitably destroy the link between sex and love, between sex and procreation by reducing the other person in erotic experience to a means for pleasure. In the formation of the teenager, the piercing sexual passions of adolescent children were suddenly released into destructive premature relationships. Instead of being introduced into a culture of love, children were and are abandoned to a culture of the use of each other for pleasure or, to use their own preferred word, fun.

The second major force, intimately connected with the first, is the rise of a new music produced specifically for adolescent children. It is a music tailor-made for the absence of deeper personal formation of sexual passion by authentic love. This music and its cultural trappings could not have achieved the power it achieved without a large economic muscle behind it. American and European adolescents after the Second World War were perhaps the first generation of children who constituted a strong market by themselves in distinction from the adult world, because they got large amounts of discretionary money from their parents. The parents were happy enough to let the children do what they wanted while they themselves pursued their professional lives. The removal of women from the home and their induction into the work force increased the cultural vacuum in which children lived. It also increased the economic power of this vacuum. The entertainment industry exploded, aided by technological progress, especially by the invention of the radio and the television. Music turned out to be the single most important article of trade in this exploding market. It is a music that consistently conquers market share by preying on the most intense and most immature passions of adolescents, above all on erotic passion and on anger. The hearts of children were simply abandoned to the formative power of this music.

What should we do in this difficult situation? Many parents feel completely helpless. They see their children taken out of their hands and increasingly formed by another culture. Sociologists call this phenomenon the "generation gap." History as a whole shows that the generation gap is not a normal developmental phase. The normal situation is for children to grow in the culture of their parents and their society. The generation gap is without precedent. Children in Jewish communities grew up Jewish; in Catholic communities they grew up Catholic; in Buddhist communities they grew up Buddhist. Now Jewish, Catholic and Buddhist children grow to be one and the same thing: they become copies of their peers in the global youth culture.

We parents must wake up and take action! We must recall that it is our inalienable duty and therefore also our inalienable right to educate our children. In his encyclical Divini illius magistri of 1929 Pius XI writes, "The family ... holds directly from the Creator the mission (munus) and hence the right to educate the offspring, a right inalienable because inseparably joined to a strict obligation, a right anterior to any right whatever of civil society and of the state, and therefore inviolable on the part of any power on earth" (Divini illius magistri, 59, DS 3690). Following Vatican II, John Paul II insists on the same point. "The task of giving education is rooted in the primary vocation of married couples to participate in God's creative activity: by begetting in love and for love a new person who has within himself or herself the vocation to growth and development, parents by that very fact take on the task of helping that person effectively to live a fully human life. As the Second Vatican Council recalled, ‘since parents have conferred life on their children, they have a most solemn obligation to educate their offspring. Hence, parents must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children. Their role as educators is so decisive that scarcely anything can compensate for their failure in it. For it devolves on parents to create a family atmosphere so animated with love and reverence for God and others that a well-rounded personal and social development will be fostered among the children.'... (Vatican II, Gravissimum educationis, 3). The right and duty of parents to give education is [1-] essential since it is connected with the transmission of human life; [2-] it is original and primary with regard to the educational role of others, on account of the uniqueness of the loving relationship between parents and children; [3-] and it is irreplaceable and inalienable, and therefore incapable of being entirely delegated to others or usurped by others" (John Paul II, Familiaris consortio, 36).

The first and most important step is for us parents to embrace our duty and our right. We must defend this right as indeed inalienable. The second most important step is to spend time with our children, to build up a shared life. Only in a loving shared life can we transmit to our children what is dearest to us. The third most important step is to become involved in the education of our children. Archbishop Wuerl is calling on parents in his diocese to become involved in helping to renew the Catholic school system. For the majority of Catholic parents, such involvement in the children's schooling is the form this third most important step will take.

In describing the situation of the United States and Canada, however, I must also point to a more radical way in which parents are becoming involved in the education of their children, namely, homeschooling. According to recent credible estimates, there are about two million families in the United States that educate their children at home. My wife and I have eight children. We have been and are educating them from first grade all the way up to the end of high school. Four of them have already entered universities. The main reason why we began home schooling was the report we heard from close friends about the effect of home schooling on their family. The children, they said, became more friends with each other, because they shared the same experience of schooling in the home. The parents also became more friends with their children, because they shared more of their life. Like many other homeschoolers, we have seen that the global youth culture is not an irresistible force. It is possible to pass on our own Christian culture. The generation gap is not inevitable.

Cardinal Bertone's Address to Mexican Bishops

Cardinal Bertone's Address to Mexican Bishops

"Time Is Ripe for the Laity to Fully Assume Its Proper Vocation"

MEXICO CITY, JAN. 16, 2009 ( Here is the address Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Benedict XVI's secretary of state and pontifical legate to the 6th World Meeting of Families, gave today to the Mexican bishops' conference.

* * *
President of the Bishops' Conference of Mexico,
Dear Brother Bishops,

I am very happy to be here with all of you today, and I would like to express to all of you my gratitude for the warm greeting that you have shown to me as legate of Pope Benedict XVI for the VI World Meeting of Families. I thank Monsignor Carlos Aguiar Retes, bishop of Texcoco and president of the Mexican bishops' conference, for the kind and deferential words of welcome that you have directed toward me, in the name of all.

Before all else, allow me to transmit to you the affectionate greeting of the Successor of Peter, as well as his spiritual closeness. My presence here is in obedience to the expressed desire of the Pope who, before the impossibility of realizing this yearned for trip, decided to make himself present among you through his most direct and closest coworker, which is the secretary of state. His Holiness knows well the vitality and strength of the Church in Mexico, the dedication and surrender of all its members, Pastors and faithful, at the service of the Gospel, as well as fidelity and fervor of its love of the Virgin and of its union with the Roman Pontiff. In this way, the Bishop of Rome desires to encourage them so that, in the midst of the difficulties of the present moment, they don't lose strength in their determination to announce to all men and women the Good News of Salvation, Jesus Christ our Lord. For this he accompanies you in every moment with his prayer and constant encouragement, because he carries very deeply in his heart the sons and daughters of this blessed Mexican land, land of Christ and of Mary.

Dear brothers and sisters, in the last meeting of the Plenary Assembly of the Conference of the Mexican Bishops, last November, they reflected amply, together with 118 laypeople from all of the Mexican provinces, on the necessity of promoting a new and valiant lay leadership (cf. Message of the Bishops of Mexico, Nov. 13, 2008).

Effectively, the Second Vatican Council has highlighted the specific and absolutely necessary role of the baptized in the saving mission of the Church. Inasmuch as they are living members of the one Body of Christ, they "are called to contribute to the incessant growth and sanctification of the Church with all its strength" ("Lumen Gentium," 33). Without a doubt, the time is ripe for the laity to fully assume its proper vocation in the Church and in society. Furthermore, the actual circumstances, and the direction of the world in general, is calling for a secular apostolate that is wider and more intense, full of zeal and love of God. But, in what does the specific apostolate of the laity consist? Where is it developed and with what means is it carried out? In the last pastoral letter of the Mexican episcopate, you affirmed with clarity that "the faithful laity fulfill their Christian vocation principally in secular works" (Pastoral Letter "Del encuentro con Jesucristo a la solidaridad con todos" [Of the Encounter with Jesus Christ in Solidarity With All], 270). In this point they follow faithfully the established doctrine of Vatican II, when they affirmed that the baptized "truly exercise the apostolate with their push to evangelize and sanctify all men and women, and perfect with an evangelical spirit in the realm of temporal things, in such a way that their activity of this order gives a clear testimony of Christ and serves for the salvation of men ("Apostolican actuisitatem," 2).

Especially relevant and decisive, for its transcendence at the moment of shaping society according to Christ, proves to be the testimony of the laity in the field of politics and culture. It is necessary to encourage them and offer them all the help they need so that they involve themselves, with coherence of life and with a true spirit of service to their brothers and sisters, in the public shifts of their country. A Christian, conscious of his vocation as a son or daughter of Christ, cannot wash his hands of the effort, full of charity and respect toward others, to attempt to make the fruitful values of the Gospel illuminate all realms of society. Doing it in this way, the faithful layperson fulfills, with his renewed insistence and wide vision, his responsibility as a citizen, given that his Christian vocation does not take him out of the world. Rather, it propels him to take part in the construction of civil society contributing in this way to the common good of the entire nation, to which he belongs by right.

I would also like to mention, because of its importance, a priority field of apostolate for the Church today, and in a special way, of the apostolate of the laity: marriage and the family. Christian spouses are called to give a special testimony of the sanctity of marriage, as well as its importance for society. These are the ones that can best show before others the beauty of the design of God regarding human love, marriage and family. This, founded in the marriage between a man and a woman, is the base and fundamental cell of human society. In this communion of life and love, which is marriage, is found the reason for being of the sexual difference between the man and the woman, as well as the call to love that God has put in their hearts. Effectively, God has created man to love and be loved (cf. John Paul II, Ex. Ap. "Familiaris consortio," 11). The link of spousal donation, made of tenderness, respect and responsible donation, is the natural place in which human life is conceived and finds the protection and acceptance that its dignity requires. For this, to work for the good of marriage and the family is to fight for the good of the human being and society. It is paramount, then, to make the effort so that the civil law of a country respects the proper identity of this natural institution, that is at the base of the social structure. Nonetheless, it is not enough to count on good laws, it is necessary as well to insist on a vast labor of education and formation that helps all, especially young people, to discover and value the beauty and importance of marriage and family.
I am fully convinced, dear brothers, that the celebration of the VI World Meeting of Families will constitute a unique and providential occasion to boost even more the family ministry in your diocesan communities, maximizing and multiplying the numerous pastoral initiatives that are already giving abundant fruits.

To be able to fulfill this demanding mission, the faithful need to count on an intense spiritual life and a solid formation, based above all in the attentive and meditative school of the Word of God. All of us in the Church have a need for this intimate contact with the Lord in Scripture. With this motive, the Pope, in the concluding Mass of the recent synod of bishops, said that the "priority task of the Church, at the beginning of this new millennium, consists before all in nourishing itself with the Word of God, so as to make effective the commitment of the new evangelization, of the proclamation in our times" (Benedict XVI, Homily Oct. 26, 2008).

Indeed, to evangelize does not consist just in communicating some doctrinal content, but in offering a proposal of an encounter with Christ. An encounter with Jesus, the Savior, who, touching the heart and the mind with the light of his truth and the strength of his love, can satiate the deep thirst for God that so many brothers and sisters of ours have, and move them at the same time to live the Gospel with all its consequences.

Certainly, this is a matter of offering hope to everyone, the great hope that is God himself and that rises above all other human hopes, giving them a definitive base (cf. "Spe Salvi," 31). The Holy Father encourages you so that, in difficult situations, you do not cease to present Christ as the true motive of hope. Drawing near to the Lord and putting into practice his teachings, as the Virgin Mary instructed at the wedding of Cana (cf. John 2:5), Mexico will be capable of overcoming all obstacles and of building a tomorrow that is more just and free for everyone, where an end is put to the social nooses that torment its development, and in a particular way, where the dignity of the person is respected from his conception until his natural death.

Dear brother bishops, following the guidelines specified in the final document of the 5th General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin American and the Caribbean, celebrated in Aparecida, long to watch over and nourish the faith of the members of the Mexican ecclesial communities, enlivening in them the desire to know, follow and give themselves to Christ, so as to thus be able to make him known to others as intrepid missionaries.

In this vast effort of evangelization, priests carry out a very important role. They are our first and closest collaborators, and carrying on their shoulders the weight of the day and the heat (cf. Matthew 20:12), they deserve all the devotion and attention of their bishops. I want to recall here the words that the Pope directed to the Italian episcopal conference: "In reality, for us, the bishops, it is an essential task to be constantly close to our priests, who, with the sacrament of orders, participate in the apostolic ministry that the Lord has entrusted us. [...] The closer we are to our priests, the more they will have affection and confidence in us, will excuse our personal limits, welcome our words and feel that they are in solidarity with us in the joys and the difficulties of the ministry" (Discourse to the members of the Italian episcopal conference, May 18, 2006).

The Supreme Pontiff carries in his heart all of the Mexican priests and he asks you to express to them his recognition and gratitude for their generous dedication, motivating them to continue carrying out their work with tireless and constant fidelity, though they often find themselves in the midst of tests and difficulties.

Dear brothers, I want to thank you again for all the concern and welcome that you have given me, as well as reiterate to you the special spiritual closeness and the incessant solicitude of the Holy Father for all of you, dear pastors of the Church in Mexico, for the retired bishops, for the priests, seminarians, religious and laypeople, and for the whole Mexican people. May the Most Holy Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patron of America, sustain you and guide you in your beautiful and demanding pastoral ministry. Thank you very much and God bless you.

[Translation distributed by the 6th World Meeting of Families]

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Anne Husted Burleigh, Towards a Eucharistic Conservatism

The conservative finds in Catholic Christianity the answers to the primary questions that concern him regarding freedom and order: What is freedom for? Why are we free? What is the truth of the human person? How can we be certain of truth? How can we have authentic community?

Catholic Christianity boldly answers that freedom is living in Christ. The freedom God gives us is true freedom, bestowed in love. With his grace, we are free to grow in virtue, so that we can gradually put aside our enslaving selfish and distorted passions, thus seeing more clearly the beauty of Christ.

Catholic Christianity offers the conservative a real guarantee of truth, a relief from the modernist idolatry of individualism and the impossible, crushing burden of myself as my own god. Christ has given us his Church, which is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic—the Body of Christ, containing perfect truth and unity. Authority comes from no human source but from Christ himself.

As Christ promised us, he has not left us orphans but has given us his Holy Spirit, who guides us in every moment. Each day, if we choose, we can participate in the sacrament of the Eucharist, when Christ gives us, fully and completely, under the appearance of bread and wine, his very body, blood, soul, and divinity. In the Eucharist God himself breaks the radical barrier between divine and human and comes to live in us. He offers us not a symbol of himself but himself in stunning reality.

In partaking of his body in communion, we are joined in the universal community of the Church, by which Father, Son, and Spirit link us with all those baptized, living and dead. The conservative who seeks the final answer to freedom and order in community will find it here.

Patrick Deneen, Sticking It

Patrick Deneen, Sticking It

Yet, this very argument begins to resemble a kind of Kantian ethical heroism, whereby we eschew some aspects of a hedonistic modernity through the herculean exercise of human will. The practice of virtue itself becomes a form of “the triumph of the will”: it rests in the power of individuals to achieve an extraordinary self-willed, conscious exercise of increasingly difficult forms of virtue.

But perhaps this is the wrong way to proceed, and misunderstands virtue: perhaps virtue was not supposed to be this hard or this willed, but rather was an accomplishment not of individuals, but of cultures. After all, it is Aristotle who begins in the Nicomachean Ethics to speak of virtue as a form of habituation, a pre-conscious set of practices that we learn before we are necessarily conscious of them as virtues. One can compare the habituated acquisition of pre-modern virtue to the learning of table manners: children are taught gradually the proper way of eating in a civilized manner before they have any awareness of the grounds for such practice. Indeed, it is seldom the case that even parents know the deeper cultural and even philosophic grounds for the practice of table manners: it is something into which they were likewise habituated when they were children. There is a strong suggestion in Aristotle that most of the virtues of humans begin, and are ultimately successful, due to successful habituation, and not the heroic philosophic and willed capacity to act with virtue in spite of the structure and assumptions of the wider society.

What we need perhaps to entertain is the non-liberal idea that virtue can be the achievement of a culture – the capacity to habituate generation upon generation into the practice of various civilized virtues. Rather than drawing on a liberal, individualistic paradigm in which we understand such people to have fallen short of heroic self-willed forms of virtue, we can rather understand that the capacity to continuously and successfully transmit certain forms of habituated virtue is a signal accomplishment of a culture. In some senses, it is actually such people who are “stuck with virtue,” or for whom virtue is stuck to them from a very young age.
What I attempted to convey in my last post is the idea that what liberalism does exceedingly well is break the transmission of culture. By displacing the authority of the past – in the form of tradition, custom, and ancestral – it is produces a culture of anti-culture. The virtuous person in such an environment is simply the lastest manifestation of the self-made man: someone who pulls himself up by his moral bootstraps in spite of the challenges that the age presents. This is simply a reification of the voluntarism and the valorization of the naked human will that marks the trajectory of modern liberalism.

Such virtue has the unvirtuous effect of undermining the inculcation of virtue. The rendering of all things into choice is not to establish a neutral ground in which we freely choose among all options, including option C, virtue. Choice in all things generates its own logic, above all the tendency to choose those outcomes that increase choice. A “culture” of choice is not neutral about choice itself. Thus, while virtue is available to the few counter-cultural heroes of a liberal society, the anti-culture of liberalism has the effect of “habituating” its young toward the embrace of ever greater multiplication of choices. I find very little virtue in resignation to such an outcome – rather, I see a deep reneging of the responsibility of an older generation in providing guidance to the young about choices that are better and worse, based upon the experience of history, past, and tradition. One example of such avoidance of responsibility (drawn from my own vocational experience) is the movement in universities away from any fixed requirements in the curriculum. We leave it to our students to figure out what will constitute a good education, reneging the hard responsibility of providing guidance. Within a liberal context we can congratulate ourselves in providing ever more liberty to the young (perhaps including providing them the possibility of exercising virtue), but in so doing, perhaps we have in fact avoided the most fundamental virtue that an older generation owes a younger generation: responsibility and care. Liberal emancipation ultimately takes the form of not caring enough to send the very best. It’s watchwords are, "not that there’s anything wrong with that" - no matter what "that" is. One is hard pressed to imagine a worse philosophy of parenting, or, by extension, a worse attitude of an older generation to a younger. Perhaps we should consider whether a “culture” of choice means that we are stuck with virtue, or whether in fostering such a “culture” we are sticking it – but decidedly not virtue that we ourselves avoid – to our children.

Previous posts in this discussion:
Peter Lawler, Stuck-with-Virtue Conservatism
Patrick Deneen, Conserving Liberalism?
(see also Peter Lawler, Postmodern Conservatism and the Problem of God)
From American Conservative: Perfect Sowing, by Jeremy Beer
"An agrarian aristocrat reaps his last harvest."
Something that caught my eye at CHT: Patrick Magoohan - Paleo actor.

Edit. You can watch The Prisoner online at AMC (thanks to AICN for the tip).
Coming up this Saturday on the Early Music Show, one of my favorites, Christopher Hogwood, founder of the historically-informed performance ensmble, the Academy of Ancient Music:

"Catherine Bott talks to distinguished conductor, keyboardist and musicologist Christopher Hogwood about his career as one of the major proponents of the early music movement. Included in their discussion is Christopher's early work with David Munrow in the Early Music Consort of London as well as the orchestra he founded in 1973, the Academy of Ancient Music, of which he is Emeritus Director.

The music featured is from his celebrated collection of recordings, including a work from Byrd's My Ladye Nevell's Booke, vocal music by Purcell, a keyboard fantasia by CPE Bach and part of Handel's opera Rinaldo."


Let's go to Spain too Sarge...

Fr. Z also recommends a rosary maker or two. And Released: Vatican’s report on 2005-06 Visitation of US Seminaries (the report in pdf format).
Michael Shedlock: Is Bank of America The Next Citigroup? and Citigroup Goes To Sleep
Robert Stacy McCain, First-Night Privileges

Chastity, virginity, and being a $3.7 million prostitute.
Karen De Coster, Four Fashion Trends That Must Be Nuked in 2009

Crocs, flannel pajama pants (as something to be worn outdoors), skinny jeans, and anything from Hollister -- it's hard to argue with any of her choices.
James Kalb, Is Social Conservatism Necessary?
Daniel Larison on Algernon Sydney

Related links:
Algernon Sidney: Discourses Concerning Government
Discourses Concerning Government by Algernon Sidney
Algernon Sydney - RDP
Algernon Sidney's speech at his execution
The Discourses of Algernon Sidney - Google Books Result
Online Library of Liberty - Algernon Sidney
Phosphorus matters: soil erosion & contamination
Marcin Gerwin, Permaculture Research Institute of Australia
...the world reserves of phosphate rocks, which are used for the production of phosphate fertilizers, are declining. They can be depleted even this century. The problem with the lack of phosphate fertilizers does not start, however, when all phosphate rock reserves are gone. It starts as soon as the demand for phosphate fertilizers exceeds the supply of phosphate rocks available for export... And this situation may appear within the next 10-20 years.


Pope: Police Work Can Be Mission, Service, Holiness

Pope: Police Work Can Be Mission, Service, Holiness

Encourages Internal and External Vigilance

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 15, 2009 ( Accomplishing one's duty with love, especially when it is difficult, can be a prayer that leads to holiness, says Benedict XVI.

The Holy Father affirmed this today when he received in audience the members of the General Inspectorate for Public Security in the Vatican.

In this traditional January meeting, the Pope recognized the sacrifices of the guard, as well as those of their families, due to "the shift-work required in order to maintain constant watch over the area around St. Peter's Square and the Vatican."

He said: "A new year is beginning and we have many expectations and hopes. Yet we cannot hide the fact that many threatening clouds are gathering on the horizon.

"We must not, however, lose heart; rather we must keep the flame of hope alive in our hearts.

"For us as Christians the true hope is Christ, the Father's gift to humanity. [...] Only Christ can help us build a world in which justice and love reign."

The Pontiff exhorted his listeners to see their work as a mission, "a service to others through order and security and, at the same time, a form of individual asceticism; what we may call constant internal vigilance, which requires harmony between discipline and cordiality, between self-control and attentive welcome of the pilgrims and tourists who come to the Vatican."

He added: "If undertaken with love, such service becomes prayer, a prayer even more welcome to God when your work is thankless, monotonous and tiring, especially during the night and in bad weather.

"It is by doing their duty well that each of the baptized achieves his or her vocation of sanctity."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Women teachers

In a poll at her blog, Seraphic found that at a singles event, men would rather approach a kindergarten teacher or an undiscovered artist of promise. What are the reasons for this? Some speculation: the kindergarten teacher likes kids, therefore would make a good mother. As for the artist--perhaps it is believed that the artist, with their supposed right-brain dominance (which has been 'disproven' iirc) or creativity or emotional side would make a good complement to men and their "logical" or analytic way of thinking. Perhaps there are other reasons as well -- an married artist could work at the home, and so on. Would those who chose the artist be willing to characterize some of the attributes of artists as feminine? It would hard to dispute that the kindergarten teacher is feminine, perhaps a model of femininity in certain ways.

The school teacher may be a safer prospect than the high-powered professional woman (the lawyer or business executive)--she may have aspirations towards having children and a more 'traditional' married life. But we know that having this job is not by itself a sufficient guarantee that she would make a good wife. However, if we look at the teachers on the public payroll in California, how many of them are at the vanguard of social 'progressivism'? Sure there may be Catholics here and there, some of whom may even have voted Yes for Proposition 8. But how many teachers would be fine teaching about that sort of tolerance which goes beyond justice or respect of person to their sexual behaviors? One can be a social progressive or a feminist and still be a teacher.

Tom Piatak praises the dedication and virtues of the members of religious teaching orders, like the fictional Sister Aloysius in the movie Doubt. A good teacher probably does not seek to be their students' buddy, and not exactly a mother either, though the role may be somewhat maternal. Sister Aloysius is the firm disciplinarian who is so precisely because she is concerned for the well-being of her students. Those who seek to become a teacher because they are looking for substitute affection will probably become disenchanted witih the job rather quickly, and if they stay, become bad teachers.

Taking care of one's appearance, being well-mannered, the everyday things that actually make up the bulk of civilization... teachers are no better from their fellow Americans. Do they believe that it is incumbent upon them to serve as role models for their students in these areas? Schools in California and many other states are rarely transmitters of American culture, being bastions of multiculturalism. Can we guess the politics of most teachers? Would it be safe to say that most of them are Democrats and voted overwhelmingly for Obama? (Are the political allegiances of teachers in the South and the 'fly-over' states different?)

This post has run out of steam. Oh well. I suppose if one can find a woman teaching at a private Catholic school (not associated with a diocese, or one associated with a good diocese), she would probably make a better match. But that seems like an obvious exception.
Did the Amish get it right after all?
Gene Logsdon,
At the time when the national banking fraternity was on its knees in Washington, begging for money, news all over the media reported that Hometown Heritage bank in Lancaster County, Pa., was having its best year ever. Hometown Heritage may be the only bank in the world, surely one of the few, that has drive-by window service designed to accommodate horses and buggies. Some 95% of the bank’s customers are Amish farmers. The banker, Bill O’Brien, says that he has not lost a penny on them in 20 years.

Apple: Tokyo Sonata trailer (U.S. distributor site)
Came across a reference to the Nine Nations of America at @TAC: Declinism on the rise.

What would traditional Nova Scotians think about being grouped with Boston and Massachusetts?

The Nine Nations of North America
Nine Nations of North America - Visual Wikipedia
The Garreau Group
174 - The Nine Nations of North America « Strange Maps The Nine Nations of North America: Joel Garreau: Books
Sovereignty en Anglais: The Nine Nations of North America
The Anthropik Network » Nine Nations: Bioregionalism in North America
The Nine Nations of North America by Joel Garreau Clipmarks
AP: CBS: Deal close for John Mayer music-variety show

Perhaps CBS is trying to become more family-friendly with this possible addition to their evening line-up. I've remarked earlier that there isn't anything on TV at the moment that can be considered a variety show. (As for the quality of the music on American Idol...) I don't like John Mayer (even though he seemed to be a Ron Paul supporter) or his music--will the show be open to bluegrass, neo-traditional country, and folk artists?
Transition Culture: Book Review: Permaculture, a beginner’s guide

flyer for the book
Asia Times: The world according to Hillary
Speaking on Capitol Hill, Senator Hillary Clinton, United States president-elect Barack Obama's choice for secretary of state, said that the use of "smart power" would differentiate the new administration from the unpopular foreign policies of President George W Bush. Obama supporters, however, are worried that the new team will bring much talk, little change, and delay to a US withdrawal from Iraq. - Jim Lobe

Jim Lobe's blog
Asia Times: Japan: The price of normalcy
The Japanese military has used its cuddly comic book mascot Prince Pickles, nubile women on recruitment posters and misleading defense rhetoric to assure the pacifist public that its aggressive post-World War II transition is "normal". Japan's resurgent neo-nationalists have a grander design, one that endangers regional security and makes an East Asian arms race much more likely. - John Feffer
Post Carbon Institute proposes "Real New Deal" to Obama administration
Staff, Post Carbon Institute

Post Carbon Institute today announced the release of "The Real New Deal: Energy Scarcity and the Path to Energy, Economic, and Environmental Recovery," a proposal to the incoming Obama Administration. The plan calls for responding to the current economic crisis with a massive policy and investment shift towards a fossil fuel-independent economy. The plan has been endorsed by Bill McKibben, Michael Moore, Randy Udall and Lester Brown. The 24-page report is available online.

pdf for the proposal

Advice to President Obama: an actuary's impractical perspective
Gail Tverberg, The Oil Drum

Several steps come before energy policy: we need to get the worst of our financial problems behind us and we need to understand where we are, before we can make intelligent decisions going forward.

Mike Whitney, Why the Stimulus Alone Won't Work
The Big Contraction

AICN: Patrick McGoohan Is Gone...

RIP. No cameos, then, for any future The Prisoner movie.

Patrick McGoohan information page

Thoughts about season 7 of 24

*some spoilers ahead*

1. All in all, the first 4 hours of 24 were a good start for season 7. But I think they revealed that Tony Almeida was truly working undercover too quickly. It is said that he was originally going to make an appearance at the end of the 24th hour on Day 6, after Jack left the home of Secretary Heller. That would have been bad, since usually some time passes between the 'days' of 24, and so it wouldn't make sense to show the conversation between Jack Bauer and Tony Almeida at the beginning of Day 7, unless Day 7 took place right after Day 6. Still... I think the scriptwriters could have drawn the dramatic tension with this plot point out more a bit. (And if quality of the story for the last 6 hours of Day 7 starts dropping to the level of the terrible family soap opera of Day 6, this criticism will be brought back.)

2. It is hard, at this point, to see how the writers and creators are not pushing for torture as an acceptable way to get information. In the past it has been claimed that torture dehumanizes the one doing the torturing, and that these effects on Jack Bauer are visible. What exactly was the redemption that Jack Bauer was looking for in his travels all over the world and in Africa? Was he really looking for validation from the American people by testifying in the Senate hearings? Jack may have been loathe to use torture for a few hours, after what he experienced in a Chinese prison, but he seems to be back to his old self. He may understand that he is often a tool of those in power, who do not appreciate him and are quite willing to sell him out to further 'the public interest,' but this is what Jack Bauer is, and he does whatever is necessary to stop the threat facing the country.

*Cue song using the melody for the G.I. Joe cartoon theme: Jack Bauer, "a real American hero."*

3. It seems to me that we are supposed to approve of the way CTU has done things in the past , especially when we are shown the contrast between CTU and the FBI, which follows Federal rules and procedures and respects the rights of suspects, and the results they are able to get. The FBI is ineffectual--Jack Bauer is not. Agent Walker appears to agree that extraordinary circumstnaces may require extraordinary measures. She even goes so far as to torture one suspect, Tanner, while he is in the hospital recovering from being shot by her and the consequent surgery. When her first attempt fails to elicit the information that she needs, she looks away from Tanner and begins to cry, realizing that she has taken a monstrous path. But after he laughs, mocking her ineffectiveness, she tries again and succeeds. But at what personal cost?

At least The Unit (and by implication CAG) recognizes that torture is ineffectual.

4. Can the corruption in the Federal Government be taken care of by Jack Bauer, Tony Almeida, and two individuals reconstituting CTU (Bill Buchannan and Chloe O'Brian)? And will the show ultimately take a shot at a critique of the corporatism (nay, even 'fascism') that characterizes the American political structure? The 'rule of law'--bringing those responsible to justice, and having them judged by a court--is this sufficient? As we have seen in the 24 universe, bad guys are brought down, but new ones take their place. Can the corruption really be eliminated, unless the American citizens are willing to restore republican government and protect economic freedom?

5. As for the proposed intervention by the U.S. military in the fictional African country of Sangala under the new administration of President Allison Taylor--naturally, this action is being endorsed, in the name of humanitarianism. (We have the power to stop genocide; therefore we have the moral imperative to do so. I'm not going to rewatch the episodes to get an actual quote from President Taylor.) With the threat of CIP device in the hands of agents of the Sangalan government to 'innocent American lives,' at least President Taylor does not actually say that the lives of Sangalans are of equal consideration as American lives. It would be interesting if the show actually takes a stance against American interventionism, but I think this is unlikely to happen.

Too bad Ron Paul can't make a cameo appearance in the show--what would he say about various aspects of the story?

Hey Sarge, from the wiki entry on season 7:
United States Navy SEALs helped battle terrorists at Camarillo Airport during filming of an episode on August 12-13 2008.[18]
More Ron Paul links:
Ron Paul .com
Campaign For Liberty — Home
Daily Paul
Thomas Dilorenzo responds to Kevin Gutzman. (via CHT)

Gutzman's rejoinder (via CHT).
Thomas Fleming, Politics of Dante II

The way to begin to understand this is to subject one’s self to the evidence and not to impose preconceived opinions. Pilate as procurator–and not a very good one, it would seem–was an officer of the Empire. Neither he nor the little territory he ruled were important enough for him to be a governor. What I said was that the Empire of Augustus was a federation of city-states. In Italy, this simply meant that the major towns preserved the traditional internal authority of the Italian civitates. In the cities of the East, the Romans gradually extended the same privileges. In more barbaric Gaul they treated the tribal confederacies that had major towns as civitates and where they found none, they constructed them and built theaters, baths, public basilicas, etc. This is not a controversial point, though one might debate the limits of the autonomy. The writers of the Scriptures, I am sorry to have to say, are not the best authorities on how the Roman Empire was governed, since none of them was every in a position of real authority and the only way they made the acquaintance of members of the ruling class was by running afoul of the law. That is how Paul met Gallio, the half-brother of Seneca. What Dante may or may not have understood of the Empire may never be learned, but what we do know is that he would have understood how a very similar, albeit looser structure existed when Tuscany was nominally ruled by a Count or Margrave. Again, I cannot tell the whole story of the Roman Empire here, much less the history of Medieval Tuscany. I must ask readers who have not studied to accept more or less the historical reconstructions I have outlined as a means of understanding Dante. If I am knowingly presenting a private and controversial opinion, I shall let you know. But neither the federative structure of the principate (Augustus to Marcus Aurelius) nor the highly decentralized feudal structure of West-Imperial Italy are matters of controversy.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sarge, did you see these photos? Alte Fotos aus der Trappistenabtei Mariawald

Related links: Trappistenabtei Mariawald
Twitch: She’s Cute But Deadly! The HIGH KICK GIRL Returns!
Quint on A Bridge Too Far.

I can't remember if I saw the movie on TV or if I read the excerpt from the original book by Cornelius Ryan in Reader's Digest first when I was a child. But it has remained one of my favorite WW2 movies. I remember looking at the TV guide that accompanied the SJ Mercury and seeing that the movie received 2 stars. Only 2 stars? How was that possible!?! Certainly the movie does require some patience and attention, as it does not focus on any person in particular.
Berkeley Symphony Orchestra
Cal Performances

Still haven't made up my mind about going to the Freight & Salvage Coffee House on Thursday or Friday... I doubt I'll be attending the Tallis Scholars concert, or any of the other events of the Music Before 1850 Series this year.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Her Sexual Experiences, Part 1
by John Thomas

Part 2

The Unit meets... Indian Jones?

Their latest mission? To recover the Spear of Destiny. Watch here. (I hope this isn't the episode that nukes the fridge.)

Oh dear. Not only is the monastery something you might find out of a Quentin Tarantino movie, but it's also harboring various secrets. (A Shaolin-like martial arts training grounds?) Who oked this script? Seems like a joke someone is playing more than anything else.

Then again, in one of his fevered dreams, Mack is praying the rosary in Latin... it can't be that bad right?

Wow... the Anima Christi too... at least part of it. (The "In saeculam saeculorum" didn't make sense.) With incensations.

Edit. The Spear of Destiny story was a bit weird. It is similar in some ways to Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade. Besides the overt 'Catholicism' of the monastery and the religious practices seen in the episodes, there was the emphasis on being held accountable to a higher authority, which sometimes makes non-compliance to orders from a direct superior (or the government of a nation-state).

I liked Bob's story, and the questions regarding "extrajuridical justice."
Kevin Gutzman, The Birth of a Notion—National “Purpose”

(Includes a review of Hamilton’s Curse: How Jefferson’s Arch Enemy Betrayed the American Revolution—and What It Means for Americans Today by Thomas DiLorenzo)
The Distributist Review: Distributist Radio Begins on Monday!!!!

Related links: THE PALEOCRAT TRIBUNE (alt)
The Paleocrat
Our Collapsing Economy, by Paul Craig Roberts
US's Negative Net Worth at $59.3 Trillion
The Only Answer to Modernity’s Impiety, John Attarian (from Modern Age 44:1, Winter 2002)

Actual sin is disobedience, or rebellion. And even those who are not guilty of sins against faith may nonetheless rebel against tradition, natural law, or human authority. But should we characterize modernity as being "all about rebellion: against God, against restraint, against the limits of the human condition, and even against reality itself"

Dr. Fleming on Dante's De Monarchia:

Dante de monarchia
Dante’s De Monarchia is not a work of political theory in the strictest sense but is more what we might term a work of moral theology directed towards political understanding. It shares the general aim of all his later major works, which is to show men the way out of misery and toward happiness. Two great instruments toward happiness, the Empire and the Church, had both fallen short of divine their missions. Thus his political message can only be understood in an ethical and spiritual co–ntext.

For Dante, the unity of the universe, as designed by its Creator, is a given. Man, by contrast, has a dual nature, ministered to by these two institutions, the one secular and the other spiritual. In this work, concentrating on the secular—as in the Commedia he will focus on the spiritual—he lays out a vision of universal Empire that brings peace to world. Since the end of life, in the Aristotelian/Thomistic sense, is contemplation of the good/divine, and this requires peace, only universal Empire can provide the peace that is necessary for study, prayer, and contemplation. Thus Dante’s approach to the distinct purposes of Church and Empire most be kept separate from modern anti-Christian argument—one quite alien to Dante’s mind and purpose–for the separation of Church and state. Dante is obviously thinking much of the time of Boniface VIII’s ambitious and, he would say, quite wrong-headed plan (e.g., in Unam sanctam) to make the Church supreme in the secular as well as in the spiritual realm—a notion quite alien from the spirit of Gregory I or even of Gregory VII.
And this:

Following Aristotle in the Ethics, Dante argues that man’s distinctive character is his intellect, whose function is to understand, to know. Let me summarize the argument: Peace is prerequisite for the happiness that requires contemplation (4); While there may be various agents who would promote peace, when there are multiple organs for fulfilling a function/purpose, one takes precedence and rules the others. Thus the paterfamilias rules the household.(5) Partial orders in the human race are subsumed by the greater and more inclusive power (6). Please observe that he leaves out the Eastern, more legitimate Empire from consideration. By 1300, after the devastating effects of Turkish advances and Western Crusades, the “Greeks”—as our ancestors were now calling them—could be dismissed as a failure. Empire is to kingdoms what God is to man. (7) Because of man’s nature, a supreme judge is needed. (10) The beest order in the world depends on the workings of justice, (11) and the human race is best ordered when it is most free (12) [“potissime liberum”], but the exercise of free will requires judgment (iudicium) as an arbiter between apprehension (that is understanding that something exists and can be sought) and desire. Man is most free when he is existing for his own sake rather than for another’s (say, a master’s or lord’s), thus he is most free under the Empire, because the Emperor, if he is truly emperor, rules for our sake, while other the rulers of other forms of government are crooked and self-seeking, working for the good of the king, the aristocracy, or the lower classes. Dante cites Aristotle to show that under bad governments, the good man is a bad citizen while under a good government, the good man=good citizen. Why a single universal empire? Because, that which is best is unity, just as God is a unity. (15) Concord is best. Note that as a Trinitarian, Dante must conceive of the godhead as a collaboration of three partners, and if we really understand the political reality of Thomas’s and Dante’s time, we shall not fall into the trap of imagining that Dante is an advocate for a unitary—as opposed to federative/feudal–state. The excellence of unity is shown by the fact that Christ was born when the world ready, that is, unifed under the great Augustus. (Dante would not have known, but Augustus’ Empire was a federation of autonomous city-states.) The world has gone to Hell, he says, since Roman unity was shattered.

Did the Roman Empire understand itself to be more of a federation than a unitary state under the leadership of a central authority? Or is this just how things played out in fact? (How did the Byzantine Empire understand itself and its authority?) There can be a just reaction against the unjust usurpation of power or wrong claims to authority; how much of modernity was correct in its reaction against royal absolutism and the supposed divine right of kings? And how much of it was wrong in its understanding of the origin of authority and how it is transmitted? (As well as the relationship between justice and the assigning of rulership?)
Sarge, you can find promotional photos of s7 of 24 at Yahoo. There's this photo for Annie Wersching:

Yahoo TV

Sunday, January 11, 2009

On Baptism and the World Family Meeting

On Baptism and the World Family Meeting

"You Are My Sons and Daughters, My Beloved"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 11, 2009 ( Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today before praying the Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

On this Sunday, which follows the solemnity of the Epiphany, we celebrate the baptism of the Lord. This was the first act of his public life and all four Gospels give an account of it. At the age of 30, Jesus left Nazareth and traveled to the Jordan River and, along with many other people, had himself baptized by John. The evangelist Mark writes: "On coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him" (Mark 1:10-11). In these words: "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased," the nature of eternal life is revealed: It is the filial relationship with God, as Jesus lived, revealed, and gave it to us.

This morning, following tradition, in the Sistine Chapel, I administered the sacrament of baptism to three newborn children. To the parents, the godfather and the godmother, the celebrant customarily asks: "What do you ask of the Church of God for your children?" They answer "baptism," and the celebrant replies: "And what does Baptism give us?" They answer: "Eternal life." This is a stupendous thing: Through Baptism the human person is brought into Jesus' unique and singular relationship with the Father, in such a way that the words that are spoken from heaven about the only-begotten Son become true for every man and woman who is reborn from the water of the Holy Spirit: You are my sons and daughters, my beloved.

Dear friends, how great is the gift of baptism! If we make ourselves fully aware of it, our life will become a continual "grace." What a joy for Christian parents, who have seen a new creature blossom from their love, who have brought this child to the baptismal font and seen the child be reborn in the womb of the Church, for a life that will never end! Gift, joy, but also responsibility! The parents, in fact, together with the godparents, must bring up their children according to the Gospel.

This brings to mind the theme of the 6th World Meeting of Families in Mexico City, which will take place next week, "The Family as Educator in Human and Christian Values." This great meeting of families, organized by the Pontifical Council for the Family, will unfold in three parts: first the theological and pastoral congress, in which the theme will be explored and in which there will also be a sharing of significant experiences; then there will be a moment of celebration and testimony, which will bring to light the beauty of the meeting of families from every part of the world, united by the same faith and by the same commitment; and finally the solemn Eucharistic celebration, as a thanksgiving to the Lord for the gifts of marriage, the family and life.

I have asked Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone to represent me, but I myself will also follow the extraordinary event with lively participation, accompanying it with prayer and through a televised talk.

Until then, dear brothers and sisters, I invite you to implore an abundance of divine grace for this important international meeting of families. Let us do so invoking the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, Queen of the Family.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]

To all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims here today, I extend affectionate greetings. On this feast of the Lord's Baptism, Jesus descends into the waters of the Jordan, taking on himself the weight of our sins. When he rises from the water, the Spirit comes down upon him and the Father's voice declares: "This is my beloved Son". Let us rejoice that the Son of God came to share our human condition, so that we might rise with him to everlasting life. Upon all who are here today, and upon your families and loved ones at home, I invoke God's abundant blessings.

© Copyright 2009 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Papal Homily for Mass With Baptisms

Papal Homily for Mass With Baptisms

"We Restore to God That Which Has Come From Him"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 11, 2009 ( Here is the homily Benedict XVI gave today when he celebrated Mass and administered the sacrament of baptism in the Sistine Chapel.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The words that the Evangelist Mark recounts at the beginning of his Gospel: "You are my Son, my beloved: in you I am well pleased" (1:11) bring us to the heart of today's feast of the baptism of the Lord, with which the Christmas season concludes. The cycle of Christmas solemnities brings us to meditate on the birth of Jesus announced by the angels suffused with the luminous splendor of God; Christmas time speaks to us of the star that guided the magi from the east to the house of Bethlehem, and it invites us to look to the heavens opened above the Jordan as the voice of God resounds.

They are all signs through which the Lord does not tire of repeating to us: "Yes, I am here. I know you. I love you. There is a road that leads from me to you. And there is a road that leads from you to me." In Jesus, the Creator assumed the dimensions of a Child, of a human being like us, who we may see and touch. At the same time, in making himself small, God made the light of his greatness shine -- because, by lowering himself to the defenseless impotence of love, he shows the nature of true greatness, indeed, what it means to be God.

The meaning of Christmas, and more generally the meaning of the liturgical year, is precisely that of us drawing near to these divine signs, to recognize in them the events of every day, so that our hearts will open to the love of God. And if Christmas and Epiphany serve above all to make us capable of seeing, to opening our eyes and hearts to the mystery of a God who comes to be with us, the feast of the baptism of Jesus introduces us, we could say, to the everydayness of a personal relationship with him. In fact, through the immersion in the waters of the Jordan, Jesus united himself to us.

Baptism is, so to speak, the bridge that he has built between him and us, the road by which he is accessible to us; it is the divine rainbow over our life, the promise of the great yes of God, the gateway to hope and, at the same time, the sign that indicates the road we must take in an active and joyous way to meet him and feel loved by him.

Dear friends, I am truly happy that this year too, on this feast day, I have been given the opportunity to baptize children. Today God's pleasure is upon them. From the time that the only-begotten Son of the Father was baptized, heaven has truly opened and continues to open itself, and we can entrust every new life that blossoms to the hands of God, who is stronger than the dark powers of evil. This in effect leads to baptism: We restore to God that which has come from him. The child is not the parents' property, but is rather entrusted by the Creator to their responsibility, freely and in an ever new way, so that they help him to be a free child of God.

Only if the parents cultivate such an awareness will they succeed in finding the right balance between the pretence of being able to dispose of their own children as if they were a private possession, forming them according to their own ideas and desires, and the liberal attitude that expresses itself in giving them total freedom, satisfying all their desires and aspirations, seeing that as the right way to develop their personality.

If, with this sacrament, the newly baptized infant becomes an adoptive child of God, object of his infinite love that safeguards and defends him, then he must be taught to recognize God as his Father and to know how to relate to him with a filial attitude. For this reason, when, following the Christian tradition, as we do today, we baptize children, bringing them into God's light and his teachings, we are not doing violence to them; rather we are giving them the wealth of divine life in which true freedom is rooted, which is that of being children of God; a freedom that must be educated and formed with the passing of years, so that it become capable of responsible personal choices.

Dear parents, dear godfathers and godmothers, I greet you with affection and I share your joy over these little ones that today are reborn into eternal life. You are conscious of the gift that has been received and you do not cease to thank the Lord who, with today's sacrament, introduces your children into a new family, greater and more stable, more open and numerous than your own: I am talking about the family of believers, the Church, a family that has God for Father and in which all gather as brothers in Jesus Christ.

Today, therefore, you entrust your children to the goodness of God, who is power of light and love; and they, though they will face difficulties in life, will never feel abandoned if they remain united with him. Concern yourselves with educating them in the faith, with teaching them to pray and to grow as Jesus did and with his help, "in wisdom, age and grace before God and men" (cf. Luke 2:52).

Turning now to the Gospel passage, we will try to understand still further that which is happening today. St. Mark says that, while John the Baptist preached on the shores of the Jordan, proclaiming the urgency of conversion in view of the coming of the Messiah who is now drawing near, Jesus, mixed in with the crowds, presents himself to be baptized.

John's baptism of repentance is certainly quite different from the one Jesus will institute. Nevertheless, at that moment, the mission of the Redeemer is glimpsed, for, when he comes out of the water, a voice from heaven resounds and the Holy Spirit descends upon him (cf. Mark 1:10). The heavenly Father proclaims him his beloved Son and publicly bears witness to his universal mission of salvation, which he will fully accomplish with his death on the cross and his resurrection. Only then, with the Paschal sacrifice, will the remission of sins be made universal and total.

With baptism we do not merely immerse ourselves in the waters of the Jordan to proclaim our commitment to conversion, but there is poured out upon us the redemptive blood of Christ that purifies us and saves us. It is the beloved Son of the Father, in whom he is well pleased, which reacquires for us the dignity and the joy of calling ourselves and truly being "children" of God.

Soon we will relive this mystery evoked by today's solemnity; the signs and symbols of the sacrament of baptism will help us to understand that which the Lord works in the hearts of these little ones of ours, making them "his" forever, a dwelling place chosen by his Spirit and "living stones" for the building up of the spiritual edifice which is the Church.

May the Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus, beloved Son of God, keep watch over them and their families, always be with them, so that they may realize the project of salvation that baptism accomplishes in their lives.

And we, dear brothers and sisters, let us accompany them with our prayer; let us pray for the parents, godfathers and godmothers and for their relatives, that they help them to grow in the faith; let us pray for all of us here present that, devotedly participating in this celebration, we will renew the promises of our baptism and give thanks to the Lord for his constant help. Amen!

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]
Edward Feser, America, empire, and conservatism:
But imperialism is neither inherently immoral nor inherently unconservative, and it is false to assume that the fact that some American policy might plausibly be described as “imperialist” is ipso facto a reason for a conservative to disapprove of it.

Mr. Feser has not yet given a definition of imperialism, though one of the commentors has cited this definition: "the policy of extending the rule or authority of an empire or nation over foreign countries, or of acquiring and holding colonies and dependencies."

Is it possible to justly acquire authority over another nation or community? If it is just, is it always prudent?
Why You Should Never Take Me Christmas Shopping, by Rob Hopkins, Transition Culture

(via EB)
That bastion of American socialism by Dmitry Orlov (original)
AICN: ‘Every Second You Help The Government You’re Spitting On Teri’s Grave!!’ - Herc’s Seen The First Four Hours Of 24 7!!