Saturday, January 31, 2009

George H. Nash, How Firm a Foundation? The Prospects for American Conservatism
Paul Corey, Shakespeare and the Poetics of Character Formation
Scott Richert, Does the Pope Need a Lesson in P.R.?
Patrick Deneen says "Adieu, Culture 11," and returns to his old blog.
From LRC: Elect the Cops -- Dylan Hales on a mild reform.

By giving citizens a better voice in the administration of law, particularly egregious violations of privacy and questionable policing tactics could be scrutinized by those who are actually affected by these policies. Speed traps and other arguable misallocations of resources could be redirected to increase street patrols or furthering direct relationships with members of the community. In certain areas, victimless crimes might fall under salutary neglect. In other areas, the exact opposite approach might be taken. Ultimately, the choice would be the citizen's.

Are street patrols effective? I don't think they are. Strengthening the bonds between officers and their communities is important, and attempts can be made without the democratic election of police officers. The wall separating police officers and other citizens is a cultural one, partly linked to the size of the communities themselves and also to the way they are structured.

Would the provision of greater oversight to citizens be a better political solution? (And a concomittant effort to increasing their participation in governance, rather than the sham democracy that we have now in municipalities and counties?)

Edit. He responds to some comments at LRC and elaborates a bit more -- LRC feedback.
The Founders’ Great Mistake by Garrett Epps (via LRC)
AICN: Esurance brings you a feature on STAR TREK?

Here it is.
Met up with some HS friends for dim sum today... I was the only guy there... (!)

I was looking at a Michael Brandon jacket over at the discount Macy's. On sale for... $84. Crazy. There were two pockets? But they were sewed up, either all the way or partially. I don't understand that.

As I was walking through Vallco, I saw two men wearing Hofbräuhaus uniforms, pushing a cart with some heating trays. Does this mean the restaurant will be opening soon?
G.I. Joe on ET (via AICN)

Living up to the worst excesses of Marvel superhero movies?

Yahoo! Movies stills

Edit. AICN-UPDATED: Full Teaser Online Now!!! 1st Glimpse of GI JOE Action!
GI JOE Superbowl Spot Arrives Online

It was foolish to think that the producers of Hell's Kitchen would change things and try to make the competition a bit more dignified. Out of the 16 contestants, at least half deserved to be there. It makes one wonder why the other 8 were chosen (probably for entertainment value), and if there weren't some among the 300 who weren't chosen who should have had a chance.

The women's team does seem stronger than the men's. My favorites include Carol

and Andrea.

I am watching out for Ji as well.

I do find the drama and the personality clashes to be worse than annoying--possibly the worst of network 'reality TV'. Are there trumped up conflicts? Or is there really rampant immaturity among our 20- and 30-somethings, which is simply reflected on the show? If I were looking to hire a chef, I'd be very hesitant to hire some of these people, after witnessing how they behave with others, and what they say about them.

More photos at Yahoo! TV.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Sandro Magister, No More Excommunication for the Lefebvrists. But Peace Is Still Far Off
The causes of conflict are even increasing, including with the children of
Israel. Benedict XVI is multiplying his gestures of openness, but is receiving
nothing in exchange. The incident of the Holocaust denier bishop, with a
commentary by Anna Foa, herself Jewish

Latin on LOST

youtube video via Exploring Our Matrix

Language is used by the Others, who need to speak it fluently, because it is "the language of the enlightened."

Is Richard Alpert one of the survivors of the 19th ce shipwreck? (Or am I thinking of a pirate movie/Robinson Crusoe?)

I don't think the second conversation in Latin is available on YT yet. But there is the official video podcast, in which "Elizabeth Mitchell talks about learning Latin":

Yeah, I did find Juliet to be hot when she was speaking Latin, even if it was classical pronunciation with an American accent. (And her 'si placet' was off.)

Elizabeth Mitchell Fan
Elizabeth Mitchell Online

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Twitch: Sammo Hung gets Cooking in KUNG FU CHEFS
I thought I wasn't working today, but I was called up for a half-day assignment. Which was actually only two hours. So I figured, why not... half-day pay for 2 hours. It was for a kindergarten class--I guess the teacher went home sick or something. It was a good class, and it improved my opinion of the district a bit. But 5 and 6-year-olds can hardly disappoint. (Though before I arrived, two boys had to be sent home during lunch because they urinated on the lunch table/ground.) There were a couple of Korean girls in the class. One had a rare(?) Korean last name - Hur. Her mother came to pick her up after school, and she looked like one of the waitresses over at Palace. I wonder if it was her. (If it was, she looked thinner. But maybe black does make you look fatter. The waitresses at Palace wear a black uniform.)
More on the new CD by the Norbertines -- California Catholic Daily, “Chants and Polyphony”
NLM: Very exciting new release from St. Michael's Abbey
Dr. Alcuin Reid on Our Approach Now to the SSPX Question
Traditional Anglican Communion to be Received as Personal Prelature?

Austen Blog: Emma 2009 is official!

GL, The pond at the center of the universe

The pond at the center of the universe
Gene Logsdon, OrganicToBe
Three generations of our family have worked, played, fought (the only verb that properly describes our hockey games), picnicked, swum, camped out, made out, and celebrated holidays around The Pond. Most of all it has been a haven where any of us could come when the need to be alone hit us, to sit and slip out of the consciousness of self and into the arms of a little wilderness that thrums and hums with enough activity to keep a naturalist occupied for a lifetime or two. It is not an accident that Thoreau gained inspiration for his best nature writing on the shores of a pond.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I remember one of the first books dealing with the causes of the current crisis in the Church was Anne Roche Muggeridge's The Desolate City. (She is the daughter-in-law of Malcolm Muggeridge.) How well has the book stood the test of time? A review in AD2000.

David Warren's remembrance of John Muggeridge, who passed away in 2005.
As if we didn't already know it, but celebrity gossip/news can be rather mean. Ashlee Simpson 'disgusted' by criticisms of her sister's weight. And there's the title for this slideshow: Waiting for a Star to Fall. On the other hand, Simpson's trainer defends her curves. Why do people get paid to report this stuff? Simply because people are interested and will read it? One might think with the recession, frivolous jobs would be eliminated rather quickly.
The Crunchy Con continues: Anti-Semitism and SSPX

He cites a piece by John Allen:

A troubled history with Judaism has long been part of the Catholic traditionalist movement associated with the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre — beginning with Lefebvre himself, who spoke approvingly of both the World War II-era Vichy Regime in France and the far-right National Front, and who identified the contemporary enemies of the faith as “Jews, Communists and Freemasons” in an Aug. 31, 1985, letter to Pope John Paul II.
Is a blog really the place to do justice to the details and history of Catholic-Jewish controversies? Shall we start going after Chesterton, Belloc, and Fr. Fahey as well? Some may believe in a conspiracy among certain Jews for world domination and such. Is such speculation due only to the sin of hate? Or is it due to a sincere recognition of the profound religious differences and views about the identity of God's "chosen people"? Who is the Messiah for whom the Jews are waiting? As for the support of the Vichy Regime--the Vichy Regime was not the same as Nazi Germany, though it did cooperate with it. There are Catholics who believe Pétain was a patriot (and even representative of the old Catholic France?). I believe the Abbé Georges de Nantes holds this opinion. Is he an anti-Semite? Archbishop Lefebvre?

Is traditional European culture exclusively Christian (and ultimately Catholic)? Is there such a thing as Judeo-Christian culture? Once Europe had converted to the Faith, was there any way for it to revert back to its pagan roots and remain European? I do not think so--in order to be non-Christian once more it would have to apostasize and become anti-Christian.

Did Jews consider themselves to be citizens of the various European polities? Or outsiders? Did they have a better understanding of what it means to have a culture and to be a people than we deracinated moderns, who can think only in terms of abstract principles and loyalties?
Peter Hitchens: The coming war against Home Schoolers

How long before the state advances against homeschoolers all over the E.U.?
Sarge tipped me off about this video:

US Army Special Forces Exercise

Meanwhile, in Hollywood--
AICN: 5 new posters for GI JOE hit the nets!

Energy Bulletin: Bill McKibben interviewed by Jason Bradford (audio and text), which links to Reality Report (mp3)

Dmitry Orlov, Boondoggles to the rescue!

It is not necessary for the United States to embrace the tenets of command economy and central planning to match the Soviet lackluster performance in this area. We have our own methods that are working almost as well. I call them “boondoggles.” They are solutions to problems that result in more severe problems than those they attempt to solve.

Zenit: Bishop Fellay's Apology for Holocaust Statements
"We Ask For the Forgiveness of the Supreme Pontiff"

Pope's Telegram to New Russian Patriarch Kirill
"May the Almighty Bless Your Efforts to Maintain Communion"

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Jurors weep at details of 'Baby Grace' torture

GALVESTON, Texas – Jurors wept Tuesday watching a woman describe how teaching her 2-year-old daughter proper manners turned into a daylong torture session in which the toddler was beaten with belts, dunked in cold water and flung across a room so violently that she died.

Kimberly Trenor, 20, detailed the abuse in a videotaped statement played for jurors during the first day of her capital murder trial.

Trenor, 20, told investigators in the statement that she hit her daughter with a thick leather belt to teach her to say "please" and "yes, sir."


Riley Ann Sawyers tried to stop her mother and stepfather from beating her to death by reaching out to her mother and saying, "I love you," assistant district attorney Kayla Allen told jurors earlier in the day during her opening statement.

This undated photo released by Sheryl Ann Sawyers shows her granddaughter Riley Ann Sawyers, 2, whose body washed ashore in a storage bin in Galveston Bay, Texas, on Oct. 29, 2007. Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday, Jan. 26, 2009, where Riley Ann's mother, Kimberly Dawn Trenor, will defend herself against charges she and her husband beat and tortured the child before putting her lifeless body out to sea. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Sheryl Ann Sawyers, File)

This undated photo released by Sheryl Ann Sawyers shows her granddaughter Riley Ann Sawyers whose body washed ashore in a storage bin in Galveston Bay, Texas, on Oct. 29, 2007. The girl's mother, Kimberly Dawn Trenor, and her companion, Royce Clyde Zeigler II, were arrested and charged with injury to a child and tampering with evidence. Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday, Jan. 26, 2009, in Galveston, Texas, where Trenor will defend herself against charges she and her husband beat and tortured Riley Ann before putting her lifeless body out to sea. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Sheryl Ann Sawyers, File)

You read the details and you can't help but think that the two were possessed by the devil--how could they beat a two year-old so savagely? Could anyone be so brutish?

May God have mercy on Riley Ann Saywers and her "mother" and her mother's "boyfriend."
Fr. Z: Statement by SSPX Superior about Bp. Williamson’s opinions on Jews in WWII
Damian Thompson: SSPX silences Holocaust-denying bishop and apologises to Pope

Monday, January 26, 2009

A good summation of the case against same-sex marriage: Blog War! (via Byzantine, Texas)
I was hoping he wouldn't write about it, but expecting him to do so anyway, and so the Crunchy Con has: Pope Benedict and the Holocaust denier

His blog is devoted to covering "conservative religion and politics," but I do not see much point for him to bringing this up, and only a few making comments have enough familiarity to explain what is going on (or to correct Mr. Dreher). It's a bit more nuanced than how the MSM would like to portray it: German pope inviting the anti-Semite to come back to the Church. Is Bishop Williamson an anti-Semite? Is he guilty of the sin of hate? Maybe he is, maybe he isn't.

There are certainly better things for most visitors of that blog to be doing than discussing the topic.
Michael Shedlock takes on Peter Schiff (wiki): Peter Schiff Was Wrong

I have yet to determine whether Mr. Shedlock's own Austrian analysis of the causes of the current economic problems is correct. (Even if it is, it does not mean that the Austrian school is correct about the nature of economics as a science; only that it can successfully resolve some events to their causes, and make corresponding predictions.)
John Zmirak, Where are My Ninjas?

On Bishop Williamson and the calumnies against Pius XII...
Hell's Kitchen returns this Thursday.
Daniel Larison, Good Wars And Total Wars
A certain guy writes:

Despite all the sound and fury, I don’t see too much of it. Most people date *long term* within their race. There are likely evolutionarily mediated reasons for this. Women are more racist than men in the realm of dating. They are less open to having relationships with men of different races, while men are bigger whores who will happily **** a cute chick from any race.
(Edited for profanity.)

The difference between male and female sexuality, to which Dr. Laura often alludes, should be obvious--women seek to bond and nest, having a fuller realization of the consequences and demands of having offspring, while men are urged on by instinct and emotion to couple with women. If they approach sex from that level only (which would be disordered), men are usually less picky. Women, on the other hand, have an image of their ideal mate and partner, and seek someone who fits this image. As this image is influenced by the relationship they have with their father, it should not surprise us that they look for someone similar even in appearance or ethnicity/race, perhaps unconsciously. Those who have a poor relationship with their father will perhaps reject someone who reminds them of their father, at least in appearance or ethnicity. And yet they may be attracted to someone of a different ethnicity who resembles their father even more with respect to his character, because they are seeking to repair that father-daughter relationship. Such is the power of the imagination. (And its limitations.)

It's not because of evolutionary psychology, but the role the imagination plays with respect to our understanding.
Dystopians on estrogen, by Carolyn Baker (EB)

Many years ago I embraced the sensible and insightful gender perspective of the psychologist, Carl Jung, who argued that both genders contain qualities of the opposite gender, and that those qualities have both life-supporting and life-destroying aspects. Therefore, in Jungian fashion, collapse must be understood and explored from the perspectives of both genders. The typically male perspective would in the case of Peak Oil, emphasize things like facts, statistics, pipelines, percentage of supply, demand, and long-term consequences. It would instruct us, warn us, and suggest various courses of action.
This reminds me of a post by A Thomist: Politics, the domination of nature, and prudence. UPDATED. Prudence is not the same as art, but very few treat peak oil simply as a problem of technology or of art. All of the numbers, graphs, charts I've seen are part of essays acknowledging that the solution to peak oil is a change in lifestyle.

From the female perspective, these concerns are in no way irrelevant or unimportant, but may motivate us to embrace an even larger perspective. By "larger" I do not mean more global but rather, a perspective that includes the body and emotions as well as the intellect. It isn't just about having a womb and the capacity to give birth. However, a woman's fundamental, bone-marrow connection to life and generativity is uniquely female. Perhaps this is the reason that in many indigenous societies, including the Iroquois Confederacy, the clan mothers' authority superseded that of the warriors who could not go to war without their permission.

What this is about is the pivotal aspect of the female psyche that is relational rather than combative or problem-solving. The feminine principle in both women and men asks: How can we connect with each other in a manner that supports survival and enhances our lives as we navigate the destructive aspects of collapse? How can we build alliances, join with neighbors and villages to sustain our families and communities? From the feminine perspective, the egos of certain "key players" matter much less than the collective lessons that the unprecedented phenomenon of collapse may be inviting us to learn.

The feminine principle always compels us to go deeper and rather than asking "if" the world as we have known it is really ending, asking instead: What is the essence of the project of civilization? What makes its continuance axiomatic? What compelling signals invite us to callit into question? Tom Petruno's January 24, Los Angeles Times article, "Economy In Shock: It's Failure Overload" opines that our problem is "failure", assuming that the success of civilization is the most desirable option, without of course, asking the more profound questions about the nature and consequences of civilization or whether or not its continuance is preferable to the alternative.
There are some Peak Oil survivalists who believe that nothing can be done, and therefore they can only look to protecting themselves and their families when things get bad. Others, however, see the solution in relocalization and the rebuilding of community. Very few of them do not see that the solution is a truly political one--as opposed to a solution implemented solely by the National Government.

As for building up community and friendships--are men not as concerned with these as women? Both men and women are concerned with the communal and domestic spheres, and with the concerns of family--but in different ways. Sure there are some men who only live for themselves, and see politics just as a hobby, or something to further their self-interest, but women can be as individualistic as men.

And what theologian or philosopher worth his salt hasn't talked about the purpose of civilization? I would not say that communitarians and "classical" political philosophers are exhibiting feminine traits--rather, they have a better understanding of what the complete life involves than many of our contemporaries.

Are men particularly concerned with the demands of justice while living in community, while women are especially concerned with the needs and affairs of the family? Our women politicians may claim to be concerned with community, but how many of them do not advocate the welfare state as the way of bringing about the communal good? (I would contend that the welfare state violates justice in many different ways.)
An empire constructed on conquest, hierarchy, and competition is inherently heroic and deems any opposite an abject failure. In its stultifying, constricted, superficial world view, there is no space or depth which might expand the conversation and eliminate the need for polarization. Characteristic of life-destroying male rigidity, civilization marginalizes those who question it without examining its own raison d'être, and of course, because it cannot include, only dominate, the feminine perspective is not part of the conversation. This is not to say that any particular reporter embodies "life-destroying male rigidity". Journalists in corporate media are parts of systems of empire whose interests lie in selling newspapers, magazines, and books which have never been about asking the deeper questions but rather perpetuating the fantasy that there is nothing more glorious and propitious than empire.
Civilization marginalizes those who dissent? Does Ms. Baker share something with the anarcho-capitalists? I would hold that in a centralized, bureaucratic state, truth and originality are stifled when they threaten those in power and the status quo. In a degraded 'democracy,' do politicians not serve their masters and the desires, rather than acting for their benefit? We are not talking about virtuous (male) behavior, but vicious behavior. (Are feminists who deny their nature able to compete for long with the vicious males they seek to imitate? I wonder.)
What leaps out at me here is that word so supremely characteristic of the feminine principle, wholeness. While males preparing for collapse are certainly supportive of wholeness, the feminine experience is in itself, one of wholeness. The female psyche is wholeness, containing the capacity to include, embrace, and hold a variety of opposites in our bodies and souls. In a collapsing world, is it not crucial to understand how this outlook is embodied and expressed in contrast with how males might respond to the unraveling? Is not the notion of sustainability itself a concept engendered by the principle of wholeness?
"Wholeness," though, is used equivocally with respect to community or harmony with the creation and with respect to a woman's perception of her own nature and vocation. The former is integral unity while the later is related to the woman's substantial unity. Sustainability is a concept that looks at the stewardship of mankind over the rest of the world.

Which brings me to another point--if we are dealing with sin and the need for metanoia, then there can be no real solution to peak oil and the over-(or unsustainable) consumption of our natural resources without God. But is 'religion' a 'feminine' affair? Human souls can be said to be 'feminine' with respect to God and grace, receiving God and the Divine Life from God himself. But I think it is correct to say that this is to use the word analogically, and not univocally.

It seems to me that if there are differences between men and women these do not extend all the way to their relationship with God. Rather, these differences are rooted in the roles they play in the generation and rearing of offspring, and how they relate to one another. (Moreover, the latter also seems to be rooted in the former with respect to questions of authority and leadership. Are the differences between how men and women relate to the extended family and to the community at large then founded upon the dynamic of domestic relations?)
College-Educated Chinese Feel Job Pinch
Edward Wong, New York Times

via EB

Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre

With the lifting of the excommunications of the four SSPX bishops, I thought I might write a short post on Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. I recall reading a comment over at the New Liturgical Movement in which a priest who knew the archbishop wrote that the archbishop preferred Gothic vestments, but those around him believed that the Roman vestments, being what was considered 'traditional,' were appropriate (for the man they considered to be the defender of Sacred Tradition). How would they respond if the archbishop's preferences became more widely-known?

When I was at Cal, I discovered the GTU library, and there I found material related to the SSPX. There, I also found newsletters for the Catholic Counter-Reformation of the 2oth Century. How bizarre, I thought. Why would a theology consortium in one of the United States' most liberal cities have such 'reactionary' materials? Both were instrumental, though, in getting me to be interested in the so-called Tridentine rite and the liturgical reforms that took place after Vatican II. It was a little later when I learned of the existence of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. (Through The Wanderer, I believe.) What did I think of the archbishop's actions and of the man himself? Some within the SSPX (and without as well) no doubt believe that the archbishop did what he thought was necessary, and was saintly. I disagreed with his disobedience but at the time I did admire his tenacity in defending traditional Catholic teaching. And the photos of him that I saw were rather impressive. Was he correct with respect to certain statements in the decrees of Vatican II being ambiguous or even erroneous? Do they contradict Catholic teaching? Or can they be reconciled with Tradition? This is the main issue that the SSPX asks the Holy See to address, even today.

I do not know if the archbishop was a saint. I do not know either if he is to be praised for his actions, if they were justified given the deterioration of the Church after the council. But we should be praying for him and for the SSPX bishops and priests, that they may be restored to full communion with the Church, through the successor of St. Peter. 20 years ago they were regarded with suspicion, and many (including 'conservative' Catholics) still look at them as extremists. Maybe some have erroneous opinions regarding Tradition or the liturgy, but we must be witnesses to charity, as charity seeks to unite, not to divide.

(Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe encouraged the archbishop to teach the French seminarians who sought his help, prompting him to found the seminary at Ecône. What did Pere Philippe think of the archbishop's subsequent actions?)

Michael Davies wrote Apologia pro Marcel Lefebvre, which is available online.
Marcel Lefebvre: The Biography by Bernard Tissier de Mallerais

Traditional Catholic bishops consecrated at Ecône in 1988

Priests for Tomorrow - Part 1
Priests for Tomorrow - Part 2
Priests for Tomorrow - Part 3
Priests for Tomorrow - Part 4
Priests for Tomorrow - Part 5
Priests for Tomorrow - Part 6
Priests for Tomorrow - Part 7

Ecône Ordinations 2007 (sspx) part 1 of 8
Ecône Ordinations 2007 (sspx) part 2 of 8
Ecône Ordinations 2007 (sspx) part 3 of 8
Ecône Ordinations 2007 (sspx) part 4 of 8
Ecône Ordinations 2007 (sspx) part 5 of 8
Ecône Ordinations 2007 (sspx) part 6 of 8
Ecône Ordinations 2007 (sspx) part 7 of 8
Ecône Ordinations 2007 (sspx) part 8 of 8

Econe 2008
Playlist: SSPX Mass

Archbishop Marcel-François Lefebvre

I think The Mouth of the Lion: Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer and the Last Catholic Diocese by David Allen White is once again out of print. (He was one of the co-consecrators of the four SSPX bishops.)
Bishop Antonio De Castro Mayer: A Brief Biography on The Lion of Campos
Bishop De Castro Mayer's Letter to Pope Paul VI
Bishop de Castro Mayer and the New Mass
AICN: Capone spends 11 mintues with Liam Neeson and is quite TAKEN with him!!!

Capone: Yeah, that’s true, that’s true. So, LINCOLN. Where are we with LINCOLN?

LN: It’s quote–unquote from Steven [Spielberg] last night [at the Golden Globe Awards]…Apparently, when he was asked, he said, “It’s in the works.”

Capone: In the works, okay. But, he still hasn’t even said whether it’s his next film, or not?

LN: No. I think it’s just in the works. He’ll do it sometime.

Capone: I remember reading maybe two years ago that you were doing an intense amount of research on Lincoln. Is that pretty common for you, once you find out you’re attached to something. You just sort of jump into it, whether it’s the next thing or not?

LN: Well, you can imagine with a figure like that, there’s any amount of research and reading to do, you know. I mean, at the moment, there are over 2,000 books written on Abraham Lincoln. And, this being the bicentennial [of his birth] year, one comes out every month, it seems, you know. So, that’s a continual process. And, it’s always on my bedside table, something about Abraham Lincoln.
While I was browsing through the Christianity section at Barnes and Noble yesterday afternoon, I chanced upon Christianity Reformed From its Roots: A Life Centered in God by Jairo Mejia. The book says it is an attempt to purify Roman Catholicism--was there was a hint of liberation theology on the back cover? Modernism and more bad Christology at work, I suspect, so I didn't bother to look through it any further. The thought that a lot of bad teachers and theologians attempt to make a living (and get a following) through publishing, when they cannot get a position of authority within the Church.

Mr. Mejia's homepage. More man-made "Christianity" here.
Patrick Deneen, Say Hello to the New Boss:

The Presidency has continued to grow as the expansion of the modern project has also unfolded apace: the very success of that project especially in the economic, but also political and social realms has demanded ever greater "decision, activity, secrecy, and dispatch," and has necessarily grown impatient with, and moved beyond reliance upon, the slower and plodding pace of the legislative and deliberative branches. While the school-house version of the Founding often stresses the idea that it sought a balance of powers and divided government, in fact its aim was to replace the clunky and slow-working system under the Articles of Confederation, and in particular to accelerate the consolidation of the various States through legislative and economic integration. The very success of the Constitutional order in achieving that end necessarily required ever greater "decision, activity, secrecy, and dispatch" on the part of the Executive, to the point now at which we witness a hope and belief that a single individual can attain the salvation of the polity and perhaps heal the world.
Was this the intent of all those involved in drafting the Constitution? Or was the Constitution and the Federal Government only subverted later by certain people holding political and economic power? Does the Constitution contain weaknesses which allow for the concentration of power and the triumph of the Executive over the Legislative branch? Or have Executive excesses (usurpation) occurred because it has been left unchecked by the Congress? (That is to say, the Constitution has not been observed, rather than bearing its 'natural fruit.')

Does Professor Deneen get the causes right, with respect to the philosophies involved (Kantian deontology and utilitarianism)? Or is this another example of intellectual history being taken too far? (An unfortunate tendency of academics working in political science and philosophy.) Can't power plays, once again, be explained mostly by sin? What would a Southern constitutionalist say about the account presented by Deneen?
Paul Craig Roberts, In America, Speaking the Truth is a Career-Ending Event
Fr. Z: More anti-baby talk from Speaker Pelosi (D-CA)

Do we not deserve this sort of bad leadership? May God have mercy on us.
Crunchy Con: Natalie Dylan: A whore's apologia

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Culture 11: Gran Torino, Culture, and American Liberalism, by Ivan Kenneally

So is it as Paleo as Richard Spencer suggested? Is traditional American culture reducible to racist name-calling and the work ethic? Or is there more to it?

movie website

On Conversion

On Conversion

"I Can Get Out of the Quicksand of Pride and Sin"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 25, 2009 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

In this Sunday's Gospel resound the words of Jesus' first preaching in Galilee: "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel" (Mark 1:15).

Precisely today, Jan. 25, we remember the conversion of St. Paul. It is a happy coincidence -- especially in this Pauline year -- which allows us, as we contemplate the experience of the Apostle, to understand the true meaning of evangelical conversion -- "metanoia." In Paul's case some prefer not to use the term "conversion" because, they say, he was already a believer, indeed he was a fervent Jew, and so he did not go from non-belief to belief, from idols to God, nor did he have to abandon the Jewish faith to adhere to Christ. In reality, the Apostle's experience can be a model of every authentic Christian conversion.

Paul's conversion matured in the encounter with the Risen Christ; it was this encounter that radically changed his existence. That which Jesus asks in the Gospel today happened to him on the road to Damascus: Saul converted because, thanks to the divine light, "he believed in the Gospel." His conversion and ours consists in this: in believing in Jesus dead and risen and in opening up to the illumination of his divine grace. In that moment Saul understood that his salvation did not depend on good works done according to the law, but on the fact that Jesus died even for him -- the persecutor - and he was, and is, risen. This truth, which through baptism illuminates the existence of every Christian, turns our way of life completely upside down.

Converting means, for each one of us also, believing that Jesus "gave himself up for me," dying on the cross (cf. Galatians 2:20) and, risen, lives with me and in me. Entrusting myself to the power of his forgiveness, letting myself be led by the hand by him, I can get out of the quicksand of pride and sin, of lies and sadness, of selfishness and every false certainty, to know and live the richness of his love.

Dear friends, the invitation to conversion, confirmed by the witness of St. Paul, is particularly urgent today, at the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, even at the ecumenical level. The Apostle shows us the right spiritual attitude for progress toward communion. "It is not that I have already taken hold of it," he writes to the Philippians, "or have already attained perfect maturity, but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been conquered by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:12).

Of course we Christians have not yet achieved the goal of full unity, but if we let ourselves be continually converted by the Lord Jesus, we will certainly arrive there. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the one, holy Church, obtain for us the gift of a true conversion, so that the desire of Christ, "ut unum sint," be realized. To her we entrust the prayer meeting at which I will preside this afternoon in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, in which, as every year, the representatives of the Churches and ecclesial Communities present in Rome will participate.

[After the Angelus the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Today is World Leprosy Day, which was started 55 years ago by Raoul Follereau. The Church, following Jesus, has always had special concern for those persons stricken with this disease, as the message circulated by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry also testifies. I am happy that the United Nations, with a recent declaration of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, has asked countries to protect those suffering from leprosy and their families. For my part, I assure them of my prayers and I renew my encouragement of those who struggle with them for complete healing and good social integration.

The peoples of various East Asian countries are preparing to celebrate the lunar new year. I wish them joy in their celebrations. Joy is an expression of being in harmony with oneself: and that can only come from being in harmony with God and with his creation. May joy always live in the hearts of the citizens of those nations, which are so dear to me, and spread throughout the world!

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[The Holy Father said in English:]

I am pleased to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims gathered for this Angelus. Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul. In this year dedicated to the Apostle of all Nations, and in this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, let us implore the Lord to help us achieve the full unity of his Body once more!

Today I also wish to mention this year's Message for World Communications Day which was released on the eve of the Feast of Saint Francis de Sales, Patron Saint of Journalists. The Message concerns the new technologies which have made the internet a resource of utmost importance, especially for the so-called "digital generation".

Undoubtedly, wise use of communications technology enables communities to be formed in ways that promote the search for the true, the good and the beautiful, transcending geographical boundaries and ethnic divisions. To this end, the Vatican has launched a new initiative which will make information and news from the Holy See more readily accessible on the world wide web. It is my hope that this initiative will enrich a wide range of people - including those who have yet to find a response to their spiritual yearning - through the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ whose message of Good News the Church bears to the ends of the earth (cf. Mt 28:20)!

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
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Papal Homily at Conclusion of Unity Week

Papal Homily at Conclusion of Unity Week

"Why Have You Wounded the Unity of My Body?"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 25, 2009 ( Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI gave today at the celebration of vespers for the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. With this ceremony, held at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity concluded.

Representatives of Churches and ecclesial communities of Rome were present at the event.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It is a great joy every time we find ourselves gathered at the tomb of the Apostle Paul on the liturgical feast of his conversion to conclude the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. I greet all of you with affection. I greet in a special way Cardinal Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, the abbot and the community of monks who are hosting us. I also greet Cardinal Kasper, the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. I greet along with him the lord cardinals who are present, the bishops and the pastors of the various Churches and ecclesial communities gathered here this evening.

A special word of recognition goes to those who worked together in preparing the prayer guides, experiencing firsthand the exercise of reflecting and meeting in listening to each other and, all together, to the Word of God.

St. Paul's conversion offers us a model that shows us the way to full unity. Unity in fact requires a conversion: from division to communion, from broken unity to healed and full unity. This conversion is the gift of the Risen Christ, as it was for St. Paul. We heard this from the Apostle himself in the reading proclaimed just a moment ago: "By the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Corinthians 15:10).

The same Lord, who called Saul on the road to Damascus, addresses himself to the members of the Church -- which is one and holy -- and calling each by name asks: Why have you divided me? Why have you wounded the unity of my body?

Conversion implies two dimensions. In the first step we recognize our faults in the light of Christ, and this recognition becomes sorrow and repentance, desire for a new beginning. In the second step we recognize that this new road cannot come from us. It consists in letting ourselves be conquered by Christ. As St. Paul says: "I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been conquered by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:12).

Conversion demands our yes, my "pursuit"; it is not ultimately my activity, but a gift, a letting ourselves be formed by Christ; it is death and resurrection. This is why St. Paul does not say: "I converted" but rather "I died" (Galatians 2:19), I am a new creature. In reality, St. Paul's conversion was not a passage from immorality to morality, from a mistaken faith to a right faith, but it was a being conquered by Christ: the renunciation of his own perfection; it was the humility of one who puts himself without reserve in the service of Christ for the brethren. And only in this renunciation of ourselves, in this conforming to Christ are we also united among ourselves; we become "one" in Christ. It is communion with the risen Christ that gives us unity.

We can observe an interesting analogy with the dynamic of St. Paul's conversion also in meditating on the biblical text of the prophet Ezekiel (37:15-28), which was chosen as a basis for our prayer this year. In it, in fact, the symbolic gesture is presented of two sticks being joined into one in the prophet's hand, who represents God's future action with this gesture. It is the second part of Chapter 37, which in the first part contains the celebrated vision of the dry bones and the resurrection of Israel, worked by the Spirit of God.

How can we not see that the prophetic sign of the reunification of the people of Israel is placed after the great symbol of the dry bones brought to life by the Spirit? There follows from this a theological pattern analogous to that of St. Paul's conversion: God's power is first and he works the resurrection as a new creation by his Spirit. This God, who is the Creator and is able to resurrect the dead, is also able to bring a people divided in two back to unity.

Paul -- like Ezekiel but more than Ezekiel -- becomes the chosen instrument of the preaching of the unity won by Christ through his cross and resurrection: the unity between the Jews and the pagans, to form one new people. Christ's resurrection extends the boundary of unity: not only the unity of the tribes of Israel, but the unity of the Jews and the pagans (cf. Ephesians 2; John 10:16); the unification of humanity dispersed by sin and still more the unity of all who believe in Christ.

We owe this choice of the passage from the prophet Ezekiel to our Korean brothers, who felt the call of this biblical passage strongly, both as Koreans and Christians. In the division of the Jewish people into two kingdoms they saw themselves reflected, the children of one land who, on account of political events, have been divided, north from south. Their human experience helped them to better understand the drama of the division among Christians.

Now, from this Word of God, chosen by our Korean brothers and proposed to all, a truth full of hope emerges: God allows his people a new unity, which must be a sign and an instrument of reconciliation and peace, even at the historical level, for all nations. The unity that God gives his Church, and for which we pray, is naturally communion in the spiritual sense, in faith and in charity; but we know that this unity in Christ is also the ferment of fraternity in the social sphere, in relations between nations and for the whole human family. It is the leaven of the Kingdom of God that makes all the dough rise (cf. Matthew 13:33).

In this sense, the prayer that we offer up in these days, taking our cue from the prophecy of Ezekiel, has also become intercession for the different situations of conflict that afflict humanity at present. There where human words become powerless, because the tragic noise of violence and arms prevails, the prophetic power of the Word of God does not weaken and it repeats to us that peace is possible, and that we must be instruments of reconciliation and peace. For this reason our prayer for unity and peace always requires confirmation by courageous gestures of reconciliation among us Christians.

Once again I think of the Holy Land: how important it is that the faithful who live there, and the pilgrims who travel there, offer a witness to everyone that diversity of rites and traditions need not be an obstacle to mutual respect and to fraternal charity. In the legitimate diversity of different positions we must seek unity in faith, in our fundamental "yes" to Christ and to his one Church. And thus the differences will no longer be an obstacle that separates but richness in the multiplicity of the expressions of a common faith.

I would like to conclude this reflection of mine with a reference to an event that we older people here have certainly not forgotten. In this place on Jan. 25, 1959, exactly 50 years ago, Blessed Pope John XXIII announced for this first time his desire to convoke "an ecumenical Council for the universal Church" (AAS LI [1959], p. 68). He made this announcement to the cardinals in the chapter room of the Monastery of St. Paul, after having celebrated solemn Mass in the Basilica.

From the providential decision, suggested to my venerable predecessor, according to his firm conviction, by the Holy Spirit, there also derived a fundamental contribution to ecumenism, condensed in the decree "Unitatis Redintegratio." In that document we read: "There can be no ecumenism worthy of the name without a change of heart. For it is from renewal of the inner life of our minds, from self-denial and an unstinted love that desires of unity take their rise and develop in a mature way" (7).

The attitude of interior conversion in Christ, of spiritual renewal, of increased charity toward other Christians, created a new situation in ecumenical relations. The fruits of theological dialogues, with their convergences and with the more precise identification of the differences that still remain, led to a courageous pursuit in two directions: in the reception of what was positively achieved and a renewed dedication to the future.

Opportunely, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, which I thank for the service it renders to all the disciples of the Lord, has recently reflected on the reception and future of ecumenical dialogue. Such a reflection, if on one hand rightly desires to emphasize what has already been achieved, on the other hand intends to find new ways to continue the relations between the Churches and the ecclesial Communities in the present context.

The horizon of full unity remains open before us. It is an arduous task, but it is exciting for those Christians who want to live in harmony with the prayer of the Lord: "that all be one so that the world believes" (John 17:21). The Second Vatican Council explained to us "that human powers and capacities cannot achieve this holy objective -- the reconciling of all Christians in the unity of the one and only Church of Christ" ("Unitatis redintegratio," 24).

Trusting in the prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ, and encouraged by the significant steps made by the ecumenical movement, with faith we invoke the Holy Spirit that he continue to illumine our path. May the Apostle Paul, who worked so hard and suffered for the unity of the mystical body of Christ, spur us on from heaven; and may the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the unity of the Church, accompany and sustain us.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]