Saturday, May 23, 2009

Piers Paul Read on Catholic Answers Live

What is a Catholic Novel?
Guest: Piers Paul Read
mp3, rm

Tonight he was speaking at the DSPT. (Cardinal Stafford was planning to be in attendance.)

Solemn vows at St. Albert's Priorty

The ceremony was today. Some photos:

Friday, May 22, 2009

The sinking Titanic: interview with Michael C. Ruppert
Lars Schall, Energy Bulletin
Interview with investigative journalist and author Michael C. Ruppert about his new book A Presidential Energy Policy.

The financial mess we’re in: Has it something to do with Peak Oil, too? Is there this systemic crisis because we are heading towards the end of the Age of Oil – and no one is telling the public so?

The current economic collapse is a combination of two things. First, the current global economic paradigm -- governed by fractional reserve banking, fiat currency, and compound interest (debtbased growth) -- is inherently and by definition a pyramid scheme. Money is useless without energy. One cannot eat a dollar bill or crumble it up and throw it in his gas tank. Each of the trillions of dollars created out of thin air since the fall of 2008 is a commitment to expend energy that cannot and will not ever be there. The Laws of Thermodynamics prevent this. I applaud the decision of Chancellor Merkel to resist the temptation to achieve a temporary solution by printing money endlessly. I am German by ancestry. My great grandfather migrated to the U.S. from a small town in Essen called Ruppertsburg at the turn of the last century. German pragmatism and realism on energy has been apparent to me since my first visit to Germany in 2003. It is not perfect and must be improved, but I have seen more clear thinking on the subject in Germany than in any of the 13 countries I have visited. That is actually not as good a thing as it might sound. There can be no "recovery", no return to growth (which is what the economic paradigm demands), without energy.

Why is this not discussed openly: The dinosaurs of the old paradigm -- who are about to pass into extinction -- cannot admit this because it would have an immediate effect on the financial markets which are already dying. People would stop buying stock if they understood that a return to growth is impossible. I think, however, that on a more fundamental level the dinosaurs just cannot see their own impending extinction. They are incapable of mental and spiritual evolution which all of our survival depends upon. They cannot adapt. As the global environment changes forever, from the related issues of climate change, energy shortages, and economic collapse all dinosaurs can do is die. That's what Darwin so clearly proved with regard to all life on this planet. Those species which cannot adapt must go extinct. We see billionaires and dinosaurs disappearing or losing money everywhere. Even Warren Buffet and George Soros are losing money because they cannot grasp that infinite growth is not possible. The term "sustainable growth" is perhaps the greatest oxymoron ever coined and an instant indicator of imminent Darwinian deselection for anyone who uses it. I keep a safe distance from such people.

Mainstream media all over the world is corporate-owned; a dinosaur by definition. In America CNN is owned by Time-Warner; CBS is owned by Viacom; NBC is owned by General Electric, ABC by Disney; the Wall Street Journal is owned by Rupert Murdoch and Newscorp, ad infinitum. All large press outlets sell stock and -- far worse -- are tied into a global derivatives bubble now estimated at $700 trillion in notional value that not only is collapsing: The Mother of All Bubbles.[4] Telling the truth to the people means that people will stop buying GE, Time Warner, Viacom and Newscorp stock so that is the last thing mainstream media can acknowledge.

Those who produce, edit and report the "news" are corporate citizens rather than human beings. They have chosen to murder their own children to protect their current jobs (the food they receive from an abusive parent). Being of German ancestry I am sensitive to issues about being willfully ignorant (cowardly) in the face of great evil. I am also aware of and grateful for the White Rose and von Stauffenberg and his heroic colleagues. I have felt like these great Germans must have felt for many years now. I still owe a great debt of gratitude to my old friend Andreas von Bülow from Köln[5] who graciously exposed me to authentic German culture. I have lost contact with Andreas and his wife Anne and I pray they are well. Now we find that this blindness is an inherent part of humans in all countries and the one thing that must and will go extinct with the Old Paradigm.[6]

But the dinosaurs are losing their grip. Since the start of the collapse of industrial civilization, corporate-owned media has become something of a joke. "Check the tire pressure on your resume" is about the best advice they can offer. Then they say, "We think we have hit the bottom, so buy stock and don't pull your retirement out of the markets" while at the same time issuing reports that show that we are nowhere near a bottom and that everything is getting worse. Who can trust such nonsense. There must be a great German word that means idiotic, contradictory and bullshit at the same time.

Related links:
From The Wilderness
From the Wilderness' Peak Oil Blog
A Presidential Energy Policy
Mike Ruppert: "A Presidential Energy Policy" KBOO Community Radio
MMnews - Interview: Michael C. Ruppert
Crunchy Con: Nashville, musicians and localism

I wouldn't mind visiting Nashville again, but I suspect I'll be disappointed once more. A CC reader recommends Branson, MO.
Zenit: Pope to Visit St. Benedict's Monastery

VATICAN CITY, MAY 21, 2009 ( The Pope will be visiting the monastery founded by the saint he chose as his patron upon taking the name Benedict XVI.

The Holy Father will travel Sunday to Monte Cassino, the monastery St. Benedict founded that is the cradle of the Benedictine order.

The visit will begin with a Mass in the plaza of Cassino, the city just east of the monastery. The site of the Mass will be renamed after Benedict XVI.

After Mass, the Pontiff will inaugurate a "House of Charity" for homeless immigrants. The project is being carried out in a former hospital under the sponsorship of the abbot of Monte Cassino.

The second part of the day will be dedicated to the Benedictines, as the Bishop of Rome will meet with abbots and abbesses from around the world, as well as a large number of monks and nuns.

Finally, before his return to Rome, the Holy Father will visit the Polish cemetery, one of the cemeteries from World War II. This year marks 65 years since the bombing of the monastery in the Battle of Monte Cassino, also known as the Battle for Rome.

I'll try not to forget to watch it live on EWTN.

Air times:
Sun 5/24/09 4:00 AM ET / 1 AM PT
Sun 5/24/09 12 PM ET / 9 AM PM
Crunchy Con: Should California break up? Should your state?
Dan Wetzel, Johnson has words of warning for Danica

I don't keep up with NASCAR and I don't care for it. Would Danica Patrica get as much attention or money if she weren't physically attractive?

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 01: Danica Patrick attends the Barnstable Brown Party Celebrating The 135th Kentucky Derby at Barnstable Brown House on May 1, 2009 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Getty/Daylife)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Takuan Seiyo, From Meccania to Atlantis - Part 7: The True Horror in Hitchcock Films (in which he discusses San Francisco)

Does he have his facts correct? San Francisco Police Department: Chief Fong's Biography

The Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ

CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Feast of the Ascension

To be observed here in the diocese of San Jose next Sunday. (Apparently the only exceptions here in the United States are Boston, Hartford, Newark, New York, Philadelphia, and Omaha.)

The Feast of the Ascension at Westminster Abbey
Freddy Gray, Bad Feith

The big idea is the aggrandizement of the Civilian Response Corps “so the president can mobilize trained civilian volunteers the way he already can mobilize volunteers for the military reserve.” And it just so happens that CRC is in line to receive an additional $323 million, if Congress approves the budget Obama submitted last week.
How to Win the 'Long, Hard Slog' -
Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense for fiascos
Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization
State Department recruits for Civilian Response Corps
Civilian Response Corps Gains Ground -

Photos: The installment of Archbishop Nichols

The Most Reverend Vincent Nichols (C) arrives at Westminster Cathedral in central London, ahead of the formal service to install him as the 11th Archbishop of Westminster, on May 21, 2009. (Getty/Daylife)

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 21: Archbishop Vincent Nichols processes to Westminster Cathedral on May 21, 2009 in London. The Pope has chosen Archbishop Vincent Nichols to be installed as the 11th Archbishop of Westminster and the head of the Catholic Chruch in the United Kingdom. (Getty/Daylife)

The Most Reverend Vincent Nichols (C) arrives at Westminster Cathedral in central London, ahead of the formal service to install him as the 11th Archbishop of Westminster, on May 21, 2009. (Getty/Daylife)

Archbishop Vincent Nichols acknowledges members of the public as he arrives for his installation as the eleventh Archbishop of Westminster at Westminster Cathedral in London May 21, 2009. Nichols heads the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Westminster, in England. (Reuters/Daylife)

Archbishop Vincent Nichols makes his way through the congregation for his installation as the eleventh Archbishop of Westminster at Westminster Cathedral in London May 21, 2009. Nichols heads the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Westminster, in England. (Reuters/Daylife)

Archbishop Vincent Nichols gives a thumbs up after being installed as the eleventh Archbishop of Westminster at Westminster Cathedral in London May 21, 2009. Nichols heads the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Westminster, in England. (Reuters/Daylife)

Archbishop Vincent Nichols takes part in a mass after being installed as the eleventh Archbishop of Westminster at Westminster Cathedral in London May 21, 2009. Nichols heads the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Westminster, in England. (Reuters/Daylife)

Archbishop Vincent Nichols (C) walks past the congregation after being installed as the eleventh Archbishop of Westminster at Westminster Cathedral in London May 21, 2009. Nichols heads the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Westminster, in England. (Reuters/Daylife)

More photos here.
Solemn Vespers before the Installation of Archbishop Vincent Nichols (via NLM)
Service of Solemn Vespers marks start of Installation of new Archbishop of Westminster
Installation of Eleventh Archbishop of Westminster
Installation of Archbishop Vincent Nichols as the 11th Archbishop of Westminster (via NLM)
The Founders Knew Latin by Larry L. Beane II (via the Western Confucian)

The word "federal" comes into English from the Latin word foedus (genitive: foederis). And in this light, there is no ambiguity whatsoever when it comes to what the founders meant by rejecting the word "nation" and replacing it with the word "federal." When one understands this, all the clever and pompous pronouncements from academicians and government bureaucrats (who want Washington, DC to plan and manage every aspect of our lives) fall by the wayside. For the word "foedus, foederis" means: "a league, treaty, charter, compact."

Thus, federal governance is, by very definition, a compact. The Constitution is a compact. The Union is a compact – not a nation. The founders knew their Latin even as most of our modern-day "educators" and bureaucrats do not. Coincidentally, Jefferson Davis's middle name was "Finis," Latin for "end" or "boundary." His generation's passing marked the end of education that emphasized Latin and history and classical ideals, and the beginning of Big Government's brand of "public schools."

Today, very few people are in a position to even know that the Federal government is, by definition, a compact. Most give it no thought at all.

To show how language has been perverted to the detriment of truth since the time of the American Republic's founding, a standard modern collegiate dictionary today defines "federal" as involving "surrender [of] their individual sovereignty to a central authority but retain[ing] limited residuary powers of government" (compare this to the text of the Tenth Amendment!) and marks the definition "of or relating to a compact or treaty" as "archaic."

Asia Times: China's farmers a poor base for growth
Boosting domestic consumption, notably in rural areas, is a key goal of China's economic stimulus plan to counter the fall-off in export demand. Yet the recent history of the country's non-industrialized areas, including disproportionately high taxes, should create considerable doubt that China's farmers can help pull the world from recession. - Walden Bello

Sierra Hull

Everyone's Somebody's Fool

Sierra Hull & Highway 111 Pretend

Worried Man Blues by Sierra Hull and Highway 111 featuring Ron Block

Sierra Hull - From Now On

Sierra Hull @ Branson MO Whiskey Before Breakfast

Sierra Hull - Ragtime Annie
Sierra Hull w/ Hwy 111 Jam With Road Less Traveled May 2008 - (alt)
Sierra Hull W/ Hwy 111 "Rock Hearts"

shuckin the corn

Ron Block, Sierra Hull & Kenny Smith - Smashville

Sierra Hull

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The economics of decline (original)
John Michael Greer, The Archdruid Report
Proponents of technofixes for the crisis of industrial society are fond of insisting that today's complex technologies are "more efficient" or "more economical" than the alternatives. Behind that claim lies a series of assumptions that are likely to turn out severely misguided as the age of cheap abundant energy comes to an end.

Worth pondering, for anyone with a job dealing with computers and the Internet. (Hello, Bay Area.)

The myth of efficiency (original) by Peak Oil Hausfrau

KFC grilled chicken

AP: Kentucky Grilled Chicken? KFC to begin grilling

Grilled chicken is displayed on a tray after being grilled at the Kentucky Fried Chicken in Indianapolis, Friday, March 21, 2008. KFC hopes grilled chicken will lure back health-conscious consumers who dropped fried chicken from their diets, or cut back on indulging. (AP/Daylife)

I tried the new KFC grilled chicken this afternoon -- last day for the coupon. As good as El Pollo Loco? No. How could it compare? EPL chicken is almost cooked to order. It is probably the case that KFC grilled chicken is pre-cooked, and re-heated in your KFC restaurant. I didn't see any grills in the kitchen, and how could most KFC restaurants fit one?

Does it taste better than KFC's fried chicken? I'm not sure. I don't know how the two recipes compare, and what spices are used for both. The chicken didn't taste that fresh though--you usually can't tell with the fried chicken because it is cooked so long, and there is so much grease.

I'd rather go to EPL... even a Costco chicken would be better.

Mel Gibson in "The Colonel"
Archbishop Vincent Nichols will be installed as the 11th Archbishop of Westminster in London.
Thu 5/21/09 7:00 AM ET / 4 AM PT
Thu 5/21/09 12:00 PM ET / 9 AM PT

Installation blog
Profile: Archbishop Vincent Nichols UK news

Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham

The installation of Archbishop Vincent Nichols at Westminster

A guide to the ceremony
20 May 2009

Music before Mass:
- Kyrie, Gott Vater in Ewigkeit (J S Bach)
- Christe, aller Welt Trost (J S Bach)
- Grand Dialogue (Louis Marchand)
- Kyrie, Gott heiliger Geist (J S Bach)

Before the Mass:
- Cathedral chaplains process to the sanctuary to sing Lauds together with the congregation
- Concelebrating priests, permanent deacons and seminarians enter the Cathedral
- Westminster canons leave the sacristy and take their places in the sanctuary
- The chapter sings Terce with the congregation
- The sanctuary procession enters the Cathedral
- Provosts and canons move from the sanctuary to the West Door

Solemn reception of the Archbishop:
- The choir sings "Tu es pastor ovium"
- Archbishop kneels at threshold of Cathedral
- A fanfare is sounded, the Archbishop is greeted by the Provost, who presents him with a crucifix, which he kisses
- The Archbishop sprinkles himself and the chapter with holy water
- Procession passes up the nave to the sanctuary, while the choir sings "Summae Trinitati"
- The Archbishop kneels before the high altar, while the Provost prays for him
Solemn installation of the archbishop:
- Bishop John Arnold reads the Apostolic Letter of authority from the Holy See
- The Provost leads the Archbishop to the throne, places him in it and reads the formula of installation
- Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor presents the Archbishop with the crozier
- The Provost and Canons greet the Archbishop, followed by other representatives of the diocese
- The choir sings "Benedictus Deus"
- The Archbishop of Canterbury greets the Archbishop
- All sing the hymn "All people that on earth do dwell"
- The Provost says the Collect

The Liturgy of the Word:
- First reading: Acts 22:3-16, read by Chris Nichols, sister-in-law of the Archbishop
- Responsorial psalm
- Second reading: Philippians 2:1-11, read by Jennifer Davies, secretary to the Archbishop of Birmingham
- Gospel acclamation
- The Gospel: Luke 10:1-9, read by Deacon Vincent Malone
- The archbishop proceeds to the pulpit to preach the homily
- The Creed is sung by choir and congregation
- The General Intercessions are read by Pamela Singh, member of the diocesan education commission, Edmund Adamus, director of pastoral affairs, Bwalya Kangwa, member of the pastoral board, Mark Nash, of the agency for evangelisation, and Helen O'Brien, director of St Joseph's Pastoral Centre

The Liturgy of the Eucharist:
- The prayer of the gifts
- The preface: "Father, all-powerful and ever-living God"
- The Eucharistic Prayer: "We come to you, Father, with praise and thanksgiving"
- The Communion Rite
- The sign of peace
- The motet, Ave Verum Corpus (Colin Mawby)
- The Communion Hymn, "Soul of My Saviour"
- Communion
- The Postcommunion
- The Hymn of Thanksgiving
- The Apostolic Nuncio, followed by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, addresses the congregation
- Concluding rite
- The hymn "Praise to the Holiest in the Height"
- Archbishop and concelebrating clergy proceed out of the Cathedral

Organ music at the end of Mass:
- Marche Pontificale from Symphonie No 1 Op 13 (Charles-Marie Widor)
Prelude and Fugue in C (J S Bach)

TELL THE WORLD (30 mins)
This lecture, part of a series of talks given at a Catholic Charismatic Conference, features Fr. Benedict Groschel discussing the factors necessary for growth in Christian maturity.
Mon 5/18/09 3:00 AM ET / 12 AM PT
Mon 5/18/09 6:30 PM ET / 3:30 PM PT

TELL THE WORLD (30 mins)
In this lecture Fr. Benedict Groschel explaining why we should trust God through difficult times.
Tue 5/19/09 3:00 AM ET / 12 AM PT
Tue 5/19/09 6:30 PM ET / 3:30 PM PT

TELL THE WORLD (30 mins)
Father Raniero Cantalamessa, discussing devotion to God the Father.
Wed 5/20/09 3:00 AM ET / 12 AM PT
Wed 5/20/09 6:30 PM ET / 3:30 PM PT

TELL THE WORLD (30 mins)
Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa talking about the special charism of the Catholic Charismatic Movement.
Thur 5/21/09 3:00 AM ET / 12 AM PT
Thur 5/21/09 6:30 PM ET / 3:30 PM PT

TELL THE WORLD (30 mins)
Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa discussing the spirituality of the Catholic Charismatic Movement.
Tue 5/26/09 3:00 AM ET / 12 AM PT
Tue 5/26/09 6:30 PM ET / 3:30 PM PT

TELL THE WORLD (30 mins)
This lecture, part of a series of talks given at a Catholic Charismatic Conference, features Fr. Pablo Straub talking about the nature and meaning of the Sacrament of Penance.
Wed 5/27/09 3:00 AM ET / 12 AM
Wed 5/27/09 6:30 PM ET / 3:30 PM PT

TELL THE WORLD (30 mins)
Fr. Pablo Straub talking about the nature and meaning of sanctifying grace.
Thur 5/28/09 3:00 AM ET / 12 AM PT
Thur 5/28/09 6:30 PM ET / 3:30 PM PT
The Toll Booth Economy

There are, in this current crop of books, the usual pro forma calls to re-industrialize America, but not to address the financial debt dynamic that has undercut industrial capitalism in this country and abroad. How will these timid “reforms” look in retrospect a decade from now? The Bush-Obama bailout pretends that banks “too-big-to-fail” only face a liquidity problem, not a bad debt problem in the face of the economy’s widening inability to pay. The reason why past bubbles cannot be restored is that they have reached their debt limit, not only domestically, but also the international political limit of global Dollar Hegemony.

What don’t these books address? Everything economics really is all about: the debt overhead; financial fraud and crime in general (one of the economy’s highest-paying sectors); military spending (a key to the U.S. balance-of-payments deficit and hence to the buildup of central bank dollar reserves throughout the world); the proliferation of unearned income and insider political dealing. These are the core phenomena that “free market” choristers have relegated to the “institutionalist” basement of the academic economics curriculum.

For example, the press keeps on parroting the Washington line that Asians “save” too much, causing them to lend their money to America. But the “Asians” saving these dollars are the central banks. Individuals and companies save in yuan and yen, not dollars. It is not these domestic savings that China and Japan have placed in U.S. Treasury securities to the tune of $3 trillion. It is America’s own spending – the trillions of dollars its payments deficit is pumping abroad, in excess of foreign demand for U.S. exports and purchases of U.S. companies, stocks and real estate. This payments deficit is not the result of U.S. consumers maxing out on their credit cards. What is being downplayed is the military spending that has underlain the U.S. balance-of-payments deficit ever since the Korean War. It is a trend that cannot continue much longer, now that foreign countries are starting to push back.

Inasmuch as China’s central bank is now the largest holder of U.S. government and other dollar securities, it has become the main subsidizer of the U.S. payments deficit – and also the domestic U.S. federal budget deficit. Half of the federal budget’s discretionary spending is military in character. This places China in the uncomfortable position of being the largest financier of U.S. military adventurism, including U.S. attempts to encircle China and Russia militarily to block their development as rivals over the past fifty years. That is not what China intended, but it is the effect of global dollar hegemony.

Another trend that cannot continue is “the miracle of compound interest.” It is called a “miracle” because it seems too good to be true, and it is – it cannot really go on for long. Heavily leveraged debts go bad in the end, because they accrue interest charges faster than the economy’s ability to pay. Basing national policy on dreams of paying the interest by borrowing money against steadily inflated asset prices has been a nightmare for homebuyers and consumers, as well as for companies targeted by financial raiders who use debt leverage to strip assets for themselves. This policy is now being applied to public infrastructure into the hands of absentee owners, who will build interest charges into the new service prices they charge, and be allowed to treat these charges as a tax-deductible expense. Banking lobbyists have shaped the tax system in a way that steers new absentee investment into debt rather than equity financing.

The cheerleaders applauding a bubble economy as “wealth creation” (to use one of Alan Greenspan’s favorite phrases) would like us, their audience, to believe that they knew that there was a problem all along, but simply could not restrain the economy’s “irrational exuberance” and “animal spirits.” The idea is to blame the victims – homeowners forced into debt to afford access to housing, pension-fund savers forced to consign their wage set-asides to money managers for the large Wall Street firms, and companies seeking to stave off corporate raiders by taking “poison pills” in the form of debts large enough to block their being taken over. One looks in vain for an honest acknowledgement of how the financial sector turned into a Mafia-style gang more akin to post-Soviet kleptocrat insiders than to Schumpeterian innovators.

The post-bubble tomes assumes that we have reached “the end of history” as far as big problems are concerned. What is missing is a critique of the big picture – how Wall Street has financialized the public domain to inaugurate a neo-feudal tollbooth economy while privatizing the government itself, headed by the Treasury and Federal Reserve. Left untouched is the story how industrial capitalism has succumbed to an insatiable and unsustainable finance capitalism, whose newest “final stage” seems to be a zero-sum game of casino capitalism based on derivative swaps and kindred hedge fund gambling innovations.

I'd like an analysis of this part from a different point of view:

What have been lost are the Progressive Era’s two great reforms. First, minimizing the economy’s free lunch of unearned income (e.g., monopolistic privilege and privatization of the public domain in contrast to one’s own labor and enterprise) by taxing absentee property rent and asset-price (“capital”) gains, by keeping natural monopolies in the public domain, and by anti-trust regulation. The aim of progressive economic justice was to prevent exploitation – e.g., charging more than the technologically necessary costs of production and reasonable profits warranted. This aim had a fortuitous byproduct that made the Progressive Era reforms seem likely to conquer the world in a Darwinian evolutionary manner: Minimization of the free lunch of unearned income enabled economies such as the United States to out-compete others that didn’t enact progressive fiscal and financial policy.

A second Progressive Era aim was to steer the financial sector so as to fund capital formation. Industrial credit was best achieved in Germany and Central Europe in the decades prior to World War I. But the Allied victory led to the dominance of Anglo-American banking practice, based on loans against property or income streams already in place. Today’s bank credit has become decoupled from capital formation, taking the form mainly of mortgage credit (80 per cent), and loans secured by corporate stock (for mergers, acquisitions and corporate raids) as well as for speculation. The effect is to spur asset-price inflation on credit, in ways that benefit the few at the expense of the economy at large.

The problem of debt-leveraged asset-price inflation is clearest in the post-Soviet “Baltic syndrome,” to which Britain’s economy is now succumbing. Debts are run up in foreign currency (real estate mortgages in the Baltics, tax-avoidance funds and flight capital in Britain), without exports having any prospect of covering their carrying charges, as far as the eye can see. The result is a debt trap – chronic austerity for the domestic market, causing lower capital investment and living standards, without hope of recovery.

These problems illustrate the extent to which the world economy as a whole has pursued the wrong course since World War I. This long detour has been facilitated by the failure of socialism to provide a viable alternative. Although Russia’s bureaucratic Stalinism got rid of the post-feudal free lunch of land rent, monopoly rent, interest and financial or property-price gains, its bureaucratic overhead overpowered the economy in the end. Russia fell. The question is whether the Anglo-American brand of finance capitalism will follow suit from its own internal contradictions.

The flaws in the U.S. economy so intractable, embedded as they are in the very core of post-feudal Western economies. This is what Greek tragedy is about: a tragic flaw that dooms the hero. The main flaw embedded in our own economy is rising debt in excess of the ability to pay is part of a larger flaw: the financial free lunch that property and financial claims extract in excess of a corresponding cost as measured in labor effort or an equitably shared tax burden (the classical theory of economic rent). Like land seizure and insider privatization deals, such wealth increasingly can be inherited, stolen or obtained by political corruption. Wealth and revenue extracted via today’s finance capitalism avoids taxation, thereby receiving an actual fiscal subsidy as compared to tangible industrial investment and operating profit. Yet academics and the popular media treat these core flaws as “exogenous,” that is, outside the realm of economics analysis.

Unfortunately for us – and for reformers trying to rescue our post-bubble economy – the history of economic thought has been rewritten in infantile caricature, to give an impression that today’s stripped-down, largely trivialized junk economics is the apex of Western social history. One would not realize from the present discussion that for the past few centuries a different canon of logic existed. Classical economists distinguished between earned income (wages and profits) and unearned income (land rent, monopoly rent and interest). The effect was to distinguish between wealth earned through capital and enterprise that reflects labor effort, and unearned wealth stemming from appropriation of land and other natural resources, monopoly privileges (including banking and money management) and inflationary asset-price “capital” gains. But even the Progressive Era did not go much beyond seeking to purify industrial capitalism from the carry-overs of feudalism: land rent and monopoly rent stemming from military conquest, and financial exploitation by banks and (in America) Wall Street as the “mother of trusts.”

What makes the latest bubble different from previous ones is that instead of being organized by governments as a stratagem to dispose of their public debt by creating or privatizing monopolies to sell off for payment in government bonds, the United States and other nations today are going deeply into debt simply to pay bankers for bad loans. The economy is being sacrificed to reward finance, instead of finance subordinating and channeling finance to promote economic growth and lower the economy-wide cost structure to remain viable. Interest-bearing debt is weighing down the economy and causing debt deflation by diverting saving into debt payments instead of capital investment. Under this condition “saving” is not the solution to today’s economic shrinkage; it is part of the problem. In contrast to the personal hoarding of Keynes’s day, the problem is the financial sector’s extractive power as creditor instead of clearing the slate by wiping out the economy’s bad-debt overhang in the historically normal way, by a wave of bankruptcy.
California Catholic Daily: “Like burning the furniture to keep warm”
USF may sell rare books, valuable art if “economic emergency” develops
Zenit: Benedict XVI Promotes Internet Friendships

VATICAN CITY, MAY 20, 2009 ( Benedict XVI is encouraging a "positive" use of communication technologies so that friendships created through them can help make the world a better place.

The Pope said this today at the end of the general audience when he spoke in English about this Sunday's celebration of World Communications Day.

Referring to his message for this year, he noted his invitation to "all those who make use of the new technologies of communication, especially the young, to utilize them in a positive way and to realize the great potential of these means to build up bonds of friendship and solidarity that can contribute to a better world."

The Holy Father recognized that "new technologies have brought about fundamental shifts in the ways in which news and information are disseminated and in how people communicate and relate to each other."

Thus, he exhorted those who "access cyberspace" to take care to "maintain and promote a culture of respect, dialogue and authentic friendship where the values of truth, harmony and understanding can flourish."

His final exhortation was for youth: "Young people in particular, I appeal to you: bear witness to your faith through the digital world! Employ these new technologies to make the Gospel known, so that the Good News of God's infinite love for all people, will resound in new ways across our increasingly technological world!"

--- --- ---

On the Net:

Benedict XVI's message for Communications Day '09:
Zenit: Cardinal Arinze Defines a Truly Catholic College

The mark of a good Catholic university is success at turning out model Christians who are good citizens, says Cardinal Francis Arinze.

The cardinal, former prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, affirmed this May 10 in a commencement address he delivered at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, New Hampshire.

He said that a Catholic college that adopts an attitude of "courageous creativity and rigorous fidelity" contributes much to promoting a "healthy synthesis between faith and culture in society," the Cardinal Newman Society reported.

Cardinal Arinze contended that a Catholic institution of higher learning should teach its students "to appreciate that moral rules of right and wrong apply also to science, technology, politics, trade and commerce, and indeed to all human endeavors."

"In the complicated world of today, where all kinds of ideas are struggling for the right of citizenship, a university student needs a clear and viable orientation on the relationship between religion and life," he continued. "The Catholic college or university is ideally positioned to help him see the light and equip himself for a significant contribution in society."

The cardinal recognized that universities need to offer premium intellectual formation, but he affirmed that formation in upright behavior is also a need.

"But what does it profit us if a student is an intellectual giant but a moral baby," he asked, "if he or she can shoot out mathematical or historical facts like a computer but is unfortunately a problem for the parents, corrosive acid among companions in the college, a drug addict and sexual pervert, a disgrace to the school, a waste-pipe in the place of work and 'Case No. 23' for the criminal police? It is clear that intellectual development is not enough."

At Thomas More College, Not Obama But Arinze
Thomas More College Welcomes New President
I wanted to add to my quick response to Professor Deneen's latest -- there is very little mention about justice and duties in his piece. Now, as Americans are encouraged to be mobile, it may that one's family does not settle in any one place, with its members scattering to the four winds. But if many of them decide to remain in one area, what does one do about one's obligations to them? Sure, one may not be able to find a job in the profession for which he trained (or any job, for that matter), or there may be difficulties with one's spouse -- is it really too late to think about such considerations though? Should people be planning ahead and taking into account their obligations to family (and also to the community, as ephemeral as that may be) before they decide on a college major or a career track? If it is too "late" for those who have already decided, what can be done to eliminate conflict?

Surely, reform of the political economy must be undertaken, and economic freedom re-established (along with local autarky).

The gentle art of non-gardening
Gene Logsdon, Dave Smith,
The most amazing aspect of it, and I don’t know why, is that this “wild” lettuce is ready to eat before the lettuce that I plant early in the cold frame, coddled with compost and protected with a plastic cover on cold nights. The “wild” lettuce grows faster. If I had any brains, I would quit the cold-frame lettuce, but so far I just don’t have enough faith in nature to do it.


NLM: Usus Antiquior Journal: Subscriptions Now Open and How Important Is Ceremony? and Russian Orthodox Theologian Weighs in on the Liturgical Reform after Vatican II.
Results for the special election yesterday. Looks like No on 1A-1E and Yes on 1F.

Michael Shedlock: Huge Deficit Stuns Cincinnati; California Faces Cash Crisis
Crunchy Con: McArdle to bankrupt California: Drop dead
California rejects Gov. Schwarzenegger's budget measures

John Robb thinks Methland will be good: JOURNAL: Methland. (The prologue for the book is online.)

Two more from Alamire--Hec est precalrum

and Attolite portas

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Patrick Deneen, What Is to be Done?

Professor Deneen explains the purpose of Front Porch Republic.

So, this site is at least this much: an effort to change our self-understanding - the selves we are, the selves and communities we might be. Many observe rightly that its arguments are almost everywhere and always paradoxical, if not contradictory - arguing on behalf of communities and a culture in which choice and escape and individual self-assertion is subordinated, yet urging the embrace of these ways as a matter of choice and self-assertion. This paradox is forced upon anyone making these arguments by a culture that renders everything into a choice. Still, ultimately a people persuaded by the wisdom of such a course will begin to enact some of its basic presuppositions into law, and thus slowly create a “virtuous circle” in which the law emanates from culture, and culture is in turn strengthened by law. Some of us will act as individuals within communities, stepping out of the mainstream to preserve or create a distinctive alternative for our families or small communities of families. Others of us - and here, I would include myself - will call for citizens to begin to consider public acts large and small that will begin to offer us a different way to live.

But will academia lose its credibility when its ties to and dependence upon the current system become better known?

In the combox he writes:

There is the temptation to anarchistic romanticism that pervades the “libertarian” inclination among some FPR-sympathizers. I, for one, think (following Aristotle) that man is by nature the political animal, or (following the Bible) that our fallenness does not permit us to live outside law. Recognizing that, we need to think politically, and your sympathies are shared considerably by me as well, as you know. Much of a political program will involve urging the national State to act less; but some measure will require the national State to act - albeit differently - to at least reverse some of the damage it has done, and even beyond that, to tame the commercial realm to become far more friendly to local and community settings.

This seems to me to be naive. Even if a coalition between 'left' and 'right' communitarians can be formed, I do not think they have the numbers to change the National Government and its favor of oligarchy. Can resistance be organized by individual states? That may be more likely, but even then perhaps the resistance cannot be sustained for long.
First Things: At the Gates of Notre Dame
by Joseph Bottum
First Things Joseph Bottum discusses the controversy at Notre Dame. Interview Available

Catholic Culture and the Notre Dame Protests
By Joseph Bottum

(see also Celebration of the Teachings of the Catholic Church by Raymond L. Burke)
New, from PIMS:

GUY BEDOUELLE, The Reform of Catholicism, 1480–1620
Translated and annotated by James K. Farge
Studies and Texts 161, Catholic and Recusant Texts 1.
2008. xii, 172 pp.2008 • ISBN 978–0–88844–161–4 • $24.95

prelims and contents (pdf)

Description from the 2009 catalog:

Guy Bedouelle's Reform of Catholicism, 1480-1620, demonstrates how reform within the Roman Church owed much to a ferment and coordination of action emanating from its traditional geographic and jurisdictional centre, Rome. But, after showing how the Council of Trent legislated reform in the Church and empowered structures to carry it out, Bedouelle also highlights the actions that brought about a renewed spirit in the Church and in society -- a "Catholicism" which, in some aspects, paralleled the way other Christians constituted a "Lutheranism," a "Calvinism," or an "Anglicanism."
John Médaille, The Economics of Distributism II: Political Economy as a Science
Sandro Magister, Eurabia Has A Capital: Rotterdam
Here entire neighborhoods look like the Middle East, women walk around veiled, the mayor is a Muslim, sharia law is applied in the courts and the theaters. An extensive report from the most Islamized city in Europe
Peter Hitchens weighs in on President Obama at Notre Dame: 'Stop killing our children!’ cried the hecklers. ‘Yes, we can’ chanted the Obama fans

Some of you will have seen that Saint Barack ran into the first serious public hostility of his career on a visit to Notre Dame University, an old-established Roman Catholic college of some reputation, in South Bend, Indiana. The headline on this posting refers to the shouts which echoed across the hall as he addressed the student body and picked up an honorary degree, against the opposition of many American Roman Catholics. They are right to oppose these unjustified and mistaken compliments. I do not think Mr Obama seeks genuine compromise with this great Christian institution. I think on the contrary that he hopes to co-opt it into his machine, and compromise it so that it moderates its opposition to him.

I also do not think that 'Yes, we can' is much of a response to the accusations of abortion opponents. It reminds me of the general empty-headed rock-star worship which became such a feature of Mr Obama's campaign. What, in this instance, does it mean? So far as I know Mr Obama's attitude towards abortion is at the extreme end of permissive, as he will no doubt show when he picks his candidates for the Supreme Court, the USA's potent and unelected third legislative chamber.

(I'm always amused when people attack our House of Lords, which in recent years has been an outpost of independence and free thought, while calling for a US-style constitution, which would enthrone such a court here, autocratic and chillingly liberal.)

'Yes, we can' certainly doesn't mean that Mr Obama can fulfill all his promises. His recent decisions, on military tribunals and the publication of pictures of prisoner abuse, really ought to have given his more gullible supporters reason to doubt. Time he was treated as a normal human being - as he always should have been.

PJB, Bibi’s Dead End

For, as John Mearsheimer, author of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, writes in the May 18 American Conservative, if there is no Palestinian state, there are only three possible alternatives.

All involve “creating a ‘greater Israel’ … that effectively controls the West Bank and Gaza, or all of what was once called Mandatory Palestine.”

What are Bibi’s three remaining options?

The first is annexation of the West Bank. But this would bring 2.4 million Palestinians into Israel, giving her a population 40 percent Arab. With a higher birth rate, Palestinians would soon outnumber Jews and vote to abolish the Jewish state, thus creating a bi-national state.

That would mean the end of the Zionist dream.

The second option is the Meir Kahane solution. The late rabbi urged the expulsion of the Palestinians from the occupied territories. But the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands or millions of Palestinians would mean innumerable casualties, a severing of all ties to the Arab world, the moral isolation of Israel and a break with the United States. America could not stand by and let such a human rights atrocity take place.

The third option is the Netanyahu option: no annexation, no ethnic cleaning, no Palestinian state — but permanent control of the West Bank to assure the “Hamastan” in Gaza is never replicated on the West Bank.

Peter Hitchens, The two-state solution is dead

Religio Philologi: The Epistle of James by Thomas Fleming
Mike Whitney, The Real Lesson of the Financial Crisis

The faux-prosperity of the last decade was largely the result of a wholesale credit system which created a humongous amount of credit via sketchy debt instruments, off-balance sheet operations, massive leverage and derivatives. (The Fed's liquidity and conventional bank loans play a very small part in the modern credit system) Securitization--which is the conversion of pools of loans into securities--is at the center of the storm. It formed the asset-base upon which the investment banks and hedge funds stacked additional leverage creating an unstable debt-pyramid that couldn't withstand the battering of a slumping market. After two Bear Stearns funds defaulted 20 months ago, the securitization markets froze, credit dried up and the broader economy went into a tailspin. Now that investors know how risky securitized instruments really are, there's little chance that assets will regain their original value or that the market for structured debt will stage a comeback.
It was been hot this past weekend, almost as bad as that one week in April. When we got some rain in March, the hills to the east of Milpitas were rather green. Greener than I had ever seen for a long time. Now they are browning rapidly. We don't have a problem with hillside fires here in the South Bay, but over in Oakland and Berkeley there will probably be regular fire alerts, as usual. What can be done about California? Not much, I would guess.

California's broken system for water delivery

The statewide special election is this coming Tuesday today. Don't forget to vote! I almost did. I should drop by Trader Joe's afterwards. I think I'll be following Michael Shedlock's recommendations.

Today the priest's homily mentioned friendship, and the etymological link of friend to the old English word for "love," just as there is a link in Greek between philos and philia. I didn't write the word down, but according to the Online Etymology Dictionary, it is freogan. I think it is safe to say that we have lost the awareness of this connection. Most of us associate friend with the first two kinds of friendship listed by Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics. We have a more self-centered view of friendship; often it's about my emotional needs, if not the shared good that the friends seek. How many of us have show the virtue of loyalty by making an effort to maintain friendship? While we may have some affection for our friends, we do not make the friendship a priority.

This sort of linguistic associations between words can provide a community with a deposit of wisdom, even if it is not fully realized in philosophical or theological reflection and the mastery of definitions. They would continually invite the intellectually curious to think about these connections. (I believe this underscores the importance of language to culture and philosophy -- and how one does not begin philosophy in a vacuum, but by first reflecting upon what one already knows, as it is mediated through language.)

Is it possible that some worldviews are more limited than others because of the languages upon which they depend are different, and as means of conveying reality differ in their "effectiveness" or "fullness"? (What does the example of Brazil's Pirahă Tribe reveal to us about human language and knowledge?)


Last week, I was observing how check-out clerks at supermarkets behave. I couldn't help but think that young people these days receive more training in manners from supervisors and those who are training them than from their parents. It is as if large segments of the population did not receive their How to Parent books. Politeness "never goes out of style." For how much longer will the South be able to retain this valuable part of their culture?

If very few members of a society behave in accordance with certain norms, wouldn't we say that those norms are not a part of their culture? If [moral] culture does not exist except in individuals (and their behavior), and a society does not observe certain norms of etiquette (or anything comparable), isn't that society less civilized than one that does? And if these norms are followed by certain minority within that society, but not by the majority, do they share the same culture? Not really. They may have the same heritage, the same stories and artefacts, but with respect to what really counts -- moral (or humane?) culture -- the answer seems to be no.

And so: What impact does a divergence in culture within the same community have on identity?

Begun on May 17.
Top 10 Ways To Woo Your Lady Love#1, Be Unpredictable
by Sex Guru Shiva (As told to Sonal Ved)

(via LRC)

List of alpha behaviors, it seems.

Monday, May 18, 2009

BBC Early Music Show: Thomas Campion

Catherine Bott reflects on the life, poetry and music of the Elizabethan/Jacobean London-based physician Thomas Campion. He was as celebrated for his poems as for his many songs, and his most famous piece is considered to be Never Weather-Beaten Saile, which was familiar as a hymn for many years after his death.

Campion's legacy of love songs and a large collection of poetry and pamphlets on music and literature, as well as his many masques, have made him an important figure in the history of Renaissance art, even if he is perhaps less well-known than his contemporary John Dowland.

The programme includes a wide selection of recordings of Campion's music alongside readings from his poetry and his masques.


Thomas Campion: Never weather-beaten saile
Drew Minter (countertenor)
Paul O'Dette (lute)
Harmonia Mundi HMU 907023
Track: 22

Thomas Campion: Come cheerful day
Rachel Elliott (soprano)
Mark Padmore (tenor)
Peter Harvey (baritone)
Nigel North (lute)
Linn CKD 105
Track: 1

Thomas Campion: Turn back you wanton flyer; It fell on a summers day
Michael Chance (countertenor)
Nigel North (lute)
Linn CKD 105
Tracks: 3 and 4

Reading: Canto Primo by Thomas Campion
(narrated by Malcolm Raeburn)

Thomas Campion: I care not for these ladies
Robin Blaze (countertenor)
Elizabth Kenny (lute)
Track: 2


Thomas Campion: Come let us sound with melody
Steven Rickards (countertenor)
Dorthoy Linell (lute)
NAXOS 8.553380
Track: 1

Reading: Rose Cheekt Lawra, Come by Thomas Campion
(narrated by Malcolm Raeburn)

Thomas Campion: My love hath vowd
Rachel Elliott (soprano)
Nigel North (lute)
Linn CKD 105
Track: 7

Thomas Campion: Now hath Flora robbed her bowers
Robin Blaze (countertenor)
Elizabeth Kenny (lute)
David Miller (theorbo, lute)
Joanna Levine (consort bass viol)
Mark Levy (lyra bass)
Track: 7


Reading (excerpt from Lord Hay's Masque by Thomas Campion)

Thomas Campion: Mr Confess's Coranto
Elizabeth Kenny (lute)
Track: 8


Reading (excerpt from Lord Hay's Masque by Thomas Campion)

Thomas Campion: Lord Hayes Masque
Elizabeth Kenny (lute)
David Miller (theorbo, lute)
Joanna Levine (consort bass viol)
Mark Levy (lyra bass)
Track: 10


Thomas Campion: Move now with measured sound
Robin Blaze (countertenor)
Elizabeth Kenny (lute)
David Miller (theorbo, lute)
Joanna Levine (consort bass viol)
Mark Levy (lyra bass)
Track: 9

Thomas Campion: The cypress curtain of the night
Michael Chance (countertenor)
Nigel North (lute)
Linn CKD 105
Track: 23

Thomas Campion: The peacefull westerne winde
Rachel Elliott (soprano)
Mark Padmore (tenor)
Peter Harvey (baritone)
Nigel North (lute)
Linn CKD 105
Track: 2

Thomas Campion: Author of Light (4th Book)
Robin Blaze (countertenor)
Elizabeth Kenny (lute)
David Miller (theorbo, lute)
Track: 22.
More on Thomas Campion:
Thomas Campion (1567-1620)
HOASM: Thomas Campion (Campian)
Poets' Corner - Thomas Campion - Selected Works
Thomas Campion: Poetry Foundation [author]
Classical Archives: Composer: Thomas Campion
The Cambridge History of English

Fain would I wed by Thomas Campion (1567-1620)

Never Weather-beaten Sail - Thomas Campion

What if a day
Damian Thompson: Trendy liturgists have made Catholic parish music a 'laughing stock', James MacMillan tells new Archbishop of Westminster
Michael Pollan: Deep Agriculture (video)
The Long Now Foundation via

Farming has become an occupation and cultural force of the past. Michael Pollan's talk promoted the premise -- and hope -- that farming can become an occupation and force of the future. In the past century American farmers were given the assignment to produce lots of calories cheaply, and they did. They became the most productive humans on earth. A single farmer in Iowa could feed 150 of his neighbors. That is a true modern miracle.
"American farmers are incredibly inventive, innovative, and accomplished. They can do whatever we ask them, we just need to give them a new set of requirements."

Michael Pollan - Michael Pollan is the author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, a New York Times bestseller. His previous books include The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World (2001); A Place of My Own (1997); and Second Nature (1991). A contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine, Pollan is the recipient of numerous journalistic awards, including the James Beard Award for best magazine series in 2003 and the Reuters-I.U.C.N. 2000 Global Award for Environmental Journalism. Pollan served for many years as executive editor of Harper’s Magazine and is now the Knight Professor of Science and Environmental Journalism at UC Berkeley. His articles have been anthologized in Best American Science Writing 2004, Best American Essays 2003, and the Norton Book of Nature Writing. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, the painter Judith Belzer, and their son, Isaac.(May 2009)

(via EB)

From Counterpunch: Dave Lindorff, The US is Using White Phosporous in Afghanistan
Patrick Cockburn, These Killings Will Only Strengthen the Taliban
Ben Rosenfeld, Police Violence: How Many Kicks to the Head Does It Take?
Eugenia Tsao, On the Devaluation of Labor
Ralph Nader, They Want It All: New Tricks From the Old Energy Lobby

Church forum discusses Father Matteo Ricci's work in China (via the Western Confucian)
Amy Welborn: A ferment of liberation


More on Fr. Ricci:
Matteo Ricci, S.J
Chinese Cultural Studies: Matteo Ricci: On Chinese Government
The University of Scranton - Matteo Ricci, S.J.
The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci by Jonathan D. Spence
Father Matteo Ricci: model for dialogue with China
USF Ricci Institute

The Chinese Rites Controversy:
Liam Brockey, Of Rites and Wrongs
Modern History Sourcebook: The Chinese Rites Controversy
Defending Our Rites: A Fujian Convert Speaks Out in the Rites Controvesy (abstract, pdf)
“ The Chinese Rites Controversy: A Long-Lasting Controversy in Sino-Western Cultural History ” (pdf)
The Chinese Rites Controversy

More reactions to Obama at Notre Dame

Daniel Larison: Doubt And Certainty
Fr. Z: My take on Sunday at Notre Dame
Archbishop Chaput
Dr. Fleming: The New Rodney King
Tom Piatak: What Notre Dame Taught
Christopher Check: Don’t back Catholic schools that lose way
Crunchy Con: Obama's weak Notre Dame speech
George Neumayr: Two Models of Hope
Insight Scoop: Pres. Obama's ND appearance: Links, commentary, analysis
Wesley J. Smith, For Obama, Talk is Cheap About Mutual Respect on the Life Issues

The American Papist: Huh? L'Osservatore Romano takes Obama's side and Text: Fr. Jenkins' Obama introduction and Post-op: Obama at Notre Dame, which links to Dr. McInerny's A House Divided

Edit. Patrick Deneen, Obama at Notre Dame

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Willie Nelson, "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys"

Willie Nelson has a somewhat bad reputation because of his drug abuse, and so for a while I was not inclined to listen to his music, but I heard this song a couple of weeks ago, and it is all right.

The version by Waylon Jennings
Asia Times: Bruce who? Wing Chun Warrior by Ken Ing
Reviewed by Kent Ewing

A rival Yip Man biopic, directed by Wong Kar-wai and starring Tony Leung Chiu-wai, is scheduled for release this year.

On the Holy Land

On the Holy Land

"Symbol of God’s Love for His People and for the Whole of Humanity"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 17, 2009 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today to those gathered in St. Peter's Square for the praying of the midday Regina Caeli.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

I returned from the Holy Land [on Friday]. I plan to speak to you about this pilgrimage at greater length during the general audience on Wednesday. Now, I would like to thank the Lord, above all, who granted me the possibility of completing this very important apostolic voyage. I also thank all of those who offered their assistance: the Latin patriarch and the pastors of the Church in Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories; the Franciscans of the Holy Land Custody, the civil officials of Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories; the organizers and the security forces. I thank the priests, religious and faithful who welcomed me with such affection and those who accompanied and supported me with their prayers. Thanks to all from the depths of my heart!

This pilgrimage to the holy places was also a pastoral visit to the faithful who live there, a service to Christian unity, to dialogue with the Jews and Muslims, and to the building up of peace. The Holy Land, symbol of God’s love for his people and for the whole of humanity, is also a symbol of the freedom and the peace that God wants for all his children. In fact, however, the history of yesterday and today shows that precisely that Land has become the symbol of the opposite, that is, of divisions and interminable conflicts between brothers. How is this possible? It is right that such a question should enter our hearts, since we know that God has a mysterious plan for that Land where -- as St. John writes -- God “sent his son as a victim for the expiation of our sins (1 John 4:10). The Holy Land has been called a “fifth Gospel,” because here we see, indeed touch, the reality of the history that God realized together with men -- beginning with the places of Abraham’s life to the places of Jesus’ life, from the incarnation to the empty tomb, sign of his resurrection. Yes, God came to this land, he acted with us in this world. But here we can say still more: the Holy Land, because of its very history, can be considered a microcosm that recapitulates in itself God’s arduous journey with humanity. A journey that implicates even the cross with sin, but -- with the abundance of divine love -- the joy of the Holy Spirit too, the resurrection already begun, and it is the journey, through the valley of our suffering, to the Kingdom of God, the kingdom that is not of this world, but that lives in this world and must penetrate it with its power of justice and peace.

Salvation history begins with the election of one man, Abraham, and of people, Israel, but its aim is universality, the salvation of all nations. Salvation history is always marked by this intersection of particularity and universality. We see this nexus well in the first reading of today’s liturgy: St. Peter seeing the faith of the pagans in Cornelius’ household and their desire for God says: “Truly I am beginning to see that God does not distinguish between persons, but welcomes those who, from whatever nation, fear him and practice justice” (Acts (10:34-35). Learn to fear God and practice justice and in this way you will open the world to the Kingdom of God: this is the deeper purpose of every interreligious dialogue.

I cannot conclude this Marian prayer without turning my thoughts to Sri Lanka, to assure those civilians who find themselves in the combat zone in the northern part of the country of my affection and spiritual nearness. There are thousands of children, women, and elderly there from whom the war has taken away years of life and hope. In this respect, I would like once again to address an urgent invitation to the opposing sides to facilitate the evacuation [of the civilians] and join my voice to that of the United Nations’ Security Council which just some days ago asked for guarantees of their safety and security. Furthermore, I ask the humanitarian organizations, including Catholic ones, to do all they can to meet the refugees urgent food and medical needs. I entrust that dear country to the maternal protection of Holy Virgin of Madhu, loved and venerated by all Sri Lankans, and I lift up my prayers to the Lord that he will hasten the day of reconciliation and peace.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[The Holy Father then addressed the faithful in various languages. In English, he said:]

I warmly greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this "Regina Caeli" prayer. In today’s Gospel Jesus invites his disciples to remain in his love by their love for one another. These words of the Risen Lord have a special resonance for me as I reflect on my recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I ask all of you to join me in praying that the Christians of the Middle East will be strengthened in their witness to Christ’s victory and to the reconciling power of his love. Through the prayers of Mary, Queen of Peace, may the Christians of the Holy Land, in cooperation with their Jewish and Muslim neighbours, and all people of good will, work in harmony to build a future of justice and peace in those lands. Upon them, and upon all of you, I invoke an abundance of Easter joy in Christ our Saviour.

© Copyright 2009 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana