Saturday, February 06, 2010

O Magnum Mysterium, Morten Lauridsen King's College Cambridge 2009

Westminster Cathedral Choir
England My England - Choir of King's College, Cambridge - a video for their CD.

Girl power in S. Korea

I was watching the weekend edition of Showbiz Extra tonight, and it introduced the following song by Seeya, Davichi, and T-ARA (Eun Jung, Hyo Min) -- Wonder Woman.

Who wrote the lyrics?

I find the lyrics express girl power--an aggressive, brash, self-centered feminism that exudes a false confidence. But maybe that's the English translation. The dance and the consumerism that is present in the lyrics highlight the materialism that underlies feminism, and the song as a whole sends mixed messages. The song proclaims that women can keep themselves busy with activities (and realize they do not need a man to be happy?)--not work, but shopping, going out and having fun with their girlfriends, and so on. The song seems to acknowledge that women can live without a man temporarily, but it also seems to be saying that there are plenty of fish in the sea, so that a bad breakup isn't the end of the world. If women didn't need men, would the singers need to flaunt themselves through their dancing? The song's rather casual dismissal of the heartache of a breakup might be good-intentioned, but that might be true of everything else in the song. The pain that a woman experiences when a relationship is ended, and hints at what is wrong with the modern practice of dating. It also points to what is the calling for most women--to be united with a man in marriage (and to raise a family). Instead of criticizing contemporary notions of romantic love, the song celebrates an individualistic, consumerist lifestyle for women. The song may not go to the extreme of saying women are better off without a man, but it is difficult to see why one shouldn't accept this conclusion.

As for female solidarity and loyalty -- how can a friendship that is founded on opposition to the opposite sex be deep and meaningful? It rarely lasts, once women become competitive with one another for a male they value. And when the lyrics mention fashionable clothing and accessories, I think of how women buy such things more to impress other women than men, and to have the appearance of superiority to other women. There is much confusion in the song. (I would find it humorous if a man wrote it.)

"You'll live for yourself as you think and as your heart goes... Pretty sweet hot girl... Enjoy life pretty girl pretty girl."

I'll be the first to admit that as a male I enjoy watching the music video, but the lyrics are poisonous, and this is what the entertainment industry in South Korea is feeding the youth? How can this not have consequences for Korean society down the road?

If women do not respect the Natural Law, sex differences, and the limits of nature, more likely than not they will end up getting hurt (and used) in their "relationships" with men.

Seeyas, Davichi, and T-Ara collaborated last year on another song, "Women's Generation":

I didn't check out the lyrics until now -- this song too promotes consumerism and materialism. The song proclaims that confidence is born through making an object of one's self to others. American radical feminists will not like it because of its emphasis on appearance and beauty, instead of getting the right education and career ; people will sense will object that confidence should come from strength of character. Even though "Women's Generation" is more focused on a woman's appearance, it is still similar to "Wonder Woman" in its ideals--the narcissism present in both should be disturbing.

This all got me thinking about SNSD, Girls' Generation (소녀시대). Will they change their names to NSD, Women's Generation, when they finally consider themselves to be adults? Calling themselves girls might be cute and promotes a certain image which is appealing to their fanbase, and the marketing of young, innocent female idols isn't new in East Asia. Still, they seem to be walking that narrow line between naive teenager and sexy woman that Britney Spears once walked (as noted by many cultural observers). But this isn't new for the entertainment industry in Korea either, in our sexed up age. Young "innocent" women do not grow up into mature ladies -- they transform into sexy women who know about the power of their sexuality and use it to sell.

Korean dramas and movies are known for being sad and tragic -- one might think that after war and division, people would realize that what the important things in life are. The young might be excused for not having experienced the war and poverty, but what about their parents and grandparents? Materialism is not an answer to a spiritual vacuum, and perhaps the overemphasis on sad stories in Korean television and movies is a symptom of a disordered culture. Korean audiovisual entertainment may not yet be mawkish, but its sentimentalism, instead of being cathartic, may instead by self-indulgent.
The Scotsman: Ralph McInerny, philosopher and author, Born: 24 February, 1929. Died: 29 January, 2010

(Thanks to Mr. Origer.)
Fr. Z: Dumb liberal idea #3464: Removing Holy Water during Lent

From the official response by the CDW:

The encouragement of the Church that the faithful avail themselves frequently of the [sic] of her sacraments and sacramentals is to be understood to apply also to the season of Lent. The "fast" and "abstinence" which the faithful embrace in this season does not extend to abstaining from the sacraments or sacramentals of the Church. The practice of the Church has been to empty the Holy Water fonts on the days of the Sacred Triduum in preparation of the blessing of the water at the Easter Vigil, and it corresponds to those days on which the Eucharist is not celebrated (i.e., Good Friday and Holy Saturday).

The Orthodox often justify the cessation of celebrating the Divine Liturgy during Lenten as abstaining from Holy Things. For example:

Byzantine Catholics, like the Orthodox, do not celebrate the Divine Liturgy (Mass) during Lenten weekdays because Lent is considered so sacred that even the Eucharist is fasted from, save for the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts.

Is this ratonale authoritative or "official"? I never really understood it, since the sacraments were instituted precisely for our sanctification.
Peter Hitchens, The problem isn’t the Pope, it’s the Vatican of political correctness

Actually, I am uneasy about the Pope telling us what to do. This is part of being British, or was when I was growing up. I can still recite great chunks of Tennyson’s wonderful Ballad Of The Fleet, all about Sir Richard Grenville and the little ship Revenge, with her valiant Protestant crew, fighting her unequal battle against the great sea-castles of King Philip, ‘the Inquisition dogs and the devildoms of Spain’.

I had relatives who viewed the Vatican as Babylon. I was taught at school about Bloody Mary, 400 years later still a loathed figure.

Even now, I like to roll over my tongue the defiant 37th of the English Church’s 39 articles: ‘The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this Realm of England.’
The Pope’s warning about growing intolerance of Christianity in the British State should have been issued by the Church of England, and once could have been. But its present leaders are for the most part pretty dim, and almost all liberals – whereas Benedict is a serious thinker, a major intellect and a conservative.

An illustration of how culture can make one prejudiced against the Catholic Church and be an intellectual obstacle to conversion.
EB: The dark side of nitrogen
Stephanie Ogburn, Grist
Modern agriculture — and, consequently, present-day human society — depends on the widespread availability of cheap nitrogen fertilizer, the ingredient that makes our high-yielding food system possible. But the industrialization of this synthetic nitrogen fertilizer has come with costs.

Zenit: Benedict XVI's Address to Scottish Bishops
"People of Faith Bear Witness to the Truth"
Zenit: The Priest and the Liturgy of the Word at Mass
Continuity Seen Between the Two Forms of the Roman Rite
By Father Mauro Gagliardi
Steven Greydanus, Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood and Hollywood Revisionism

Second trailer for The Pacific Steven Spielberg Interview HBO’s THE PACIFIC

Eugene Sledge

HBO's upcoming miniseries, The Pacific, is based in part on his memoirs.

War is Hell: Eugene B. Sledge (1923-2001)

Friday, February 05, 2010

The Succession of Masters

American graduate programs are disinclined to accept applicants who attended the same university for their undergraduate education. The same sort of mentality exists when it comes to hiring faculty -- American universities are reluctant to hire graduates. The alumnus candidate must be truly exceptional to be admitted or hired. The reason? It looks bad on the quality of the program or school if they accept or hire too many of their own. It is expected that a university will admit students from other instutions and regions, as this sort of diversity is supposed to reflect well upon the school or program. Most schools or programs want to avoid the appearance of not being good enough to attract students or teachers from elsewhere (in particular other schools with a reputation for excellence). Of course, such thinking encourages rootlessness and mobility.

From an East Asian perspective (or what I imagine it would be)... such admission policies go against the stability of the master-student relationship. It resembles a purely commercial relationship more than anything else. A teacher might permit his student to find another teacher if he knows he is not qualified or he cannot teach him any more, but this is not what American professors believe about themselves.

As to the selection of new faculty members, for a faculty to not consider one of its own graduates for a position may not mean a lack of confidence in his ability to teach their students, but it may give that impression. Let us suppose that the choice is between a graduate and a non-graduate. If everything else is equal and the non-graduate is hired solely because he is not a graduate of the program, then doesn't appearance take precedence over loyalty? It is more important for a school to base its reputation on its ability to attract faculty from diverse educational backgrounds (from institutions within a certain range of quality, with the proper recommendations -- the right pedigree) than it is to be loyal towards one's own.

There seems to be an excessive concern with appearances and the opinion of others guiding the decision-making for both processes. What is the criteria for judging the quality of a school or program? The quality of the faculty is primary, but this is evaluated through the opinion of others, their peers or reputed experts in that field, and surveys, and perhaps by what is produced by the faculty. Given the avoidance of most important truths, the modern university or college can consider only minor truths as objective evidence of someone's qualifications for an academic position -- whether they are good scholars and exegetes, if they can make a "good" argument regarding a text and provide sufficient evidence to back up their judgment. There is no expectation of or requirement for that scholarship to be in service of some higher truth.

An East Asian scholar would ask what other confirmation of his ability or honor can there be than for a student to succeed his master? Similarly, what teacher does not want want one of his students to replace him? He may naturally also wish to see his students given [important] positions elsewhere, or starting their own schools. But why would he want an outsider to replace him, rather than one of his own? This is especially important when one is passing on some sort of tradition, and not just generic skills of scholarship. Confucians, Taoists, Buddists at least agree that they are cultivating wisdom and pursuing truth, even if they disagree on the particulars. (Some Buddhists may dispute that there is truth, but they are being contradictory for the sake of appearing wise.) How many teachers today aspire to be the bearers of some intellectual tradition, as opposed to being "impartial" scholars who can dissect texts and give a proper exegesis?

The smaller, younger Catholic schools look for who is most qualified and who best fits the purpose of the college; they don't have to worry about the opinions of members of larger institutions. (Especially since few analytic philosophers consider medieval philosophy to be philosophy and so on.) As a consequence, they do not have any problems with hiring alumni, and as a result they have a stronger communal identity.

I should look into how appointments were made in the medieval universities, and what sort of criteria were used to judge candidates. The practices of religious houses of study, such as those operated by the Dominicans, appear to be somewhat similar to the East Asian ideal as I briefly lay it out here, in so far as the religious orders developed their own intellectual traditions which they passed on to each generation, and they raised members of their own orders to be teachers within their houses of study. Is the same true of the universities? (I'll have to confirm what I just wrote about the Dominican houses of study; I should read "First the Bow is Bent in Study": Dominican Education Before 1350.)

I had started this post last Thursday (1/28/10), while I was thinking about the dismal state of American universities. With Dr. McInerny's passing on Friday, it seemed appropriate to write a few words about one of the giants of his generation, and a master who taught and influenced so many. (His funeral Mass was this past Monday, at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. A ND press release was given on Monday.) May his students be his legacy.

The Big Mac


I referred to Dr. Ralph McInerny as the "Big Mac" when I talked about him with my sister KK because his son Daniel McInerny was also at Notre Dame, as associate director of the Center for Ethics and Culture. (The Little Mac got a position at Baylor last year.) Dr. McInerny's wife died several years ago and the Big Mac had been in semi-retirement, still offering some sort of class every now and then. I believe he also helped out with the (Thomistic) reading group. I believe Dr. McInerny was a Third Order Dominican, which would not be surprising since he took St. Thomas Aquinas to be his master.

I didn't really study Aquinas until I was at OLGS, and even then I did not read his works. I can't say that I read Dr. McInerny's books right away, but he quickly became one of my early favorites. (His brother Dr. Dennis Q. McInerny still teaches at OLGS.) I became more and more aligned with Dr. McInerny, as opposed to the existential Thomists like Etienne Gilson and Jacques Maritain.

It was through Dr. McInerny (and one of his students who was a professor at Christendom) that I learned of the Laval School and Dr. Charles De Koninck. After I entered graduate school, I had the honor to make his acuqintance and the opportunity to be near him when he permitted me to spend part of a summer at the Maritain Center going over the papers of Dr. De Koninck. Towards the end of my stay, I had the opportunity to talk with him in his office for a bit, and he was quite helpful. He also told me of his studies at Laval. (I have a photo of him with me from that Summer, taken shortly after I first asked him to sign his books. I should look for it and upload it onto FB.)

While I am not competent to judge his personal sanctity, I can attest to his helpfulness and his display of the virtues proper to a gentleman and a scholar. Generous with his time and resources, he was always welcoming and friendly when I would see him at the Center for Ethics and Culture Fall conferences. And he was always happy to sign his books for me whenever I asked him. His humor, smile and gentle laugh were easily noticeable, as well as his humility and friendliness. I admire him greatly, and though I do not consider myself to be one of his students, except in so far as I have learned from his books, I pride myself as being a "fan" or a "follower." If I were to construct an intellectual lineage (or "family tree") as East Asians did in the past, I would definitely reserve a place for him on it.

One might not think of Thomism as a tradition by its own tenents concerning logic and the intellectual virtues. But the passing on of these habits from one generation to the next is a form of tradition. Beliefs are said to be "handed down" metaphorically, and this can also be said of scientiae and artes. The Laval School of Thomism* can also be distinguished from other contemporary schools of Thomism (analytic, existential, transcendental, platonic, etc.) by certain characteristic positions or teachings held in common by its members. Dr. McInerny was editing the collected works of Dr. De Koninck for UND Press. The first two volumes have already been published, and I think Dr. McInerny was working on a third. I don't know if that has been completed, or if someone else will now be taking up the work.

Dr. McInerny was a great bearer of this tradition and he will be missed; may we be as devoted as he to the service of Christ and truth and to the study of Aristotle and St. Thomas and strive to follow his example in teaching others. May he rest in peace.

*The two prominent schools of Aristotelian-Thomism in North America were the Laval School and the Dominican River Forest School. I do not know much of Aristotelian-Thomism as it existed in Europe, though Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., while he has been called a "Thomist of Strict Observance," was also an Aristotelian-Thomist with respect to philosophy. I suspect that Aristotelian-Thomism was strong in some of the Dominican houses (Toulouse, for example, and maybe in Spain as well), but not so in others. What of its existence at Louvain? How quickly did it disappear after Dr. De Koninck completed his studies there? Did it disappear before Vatican II or afterwards?

From 1/30/02.
Zenit: Ralph McInerny Dies at Age 80
Inside Catholic: Ralph McInerny passed away this morning
I suspect some sort of notice will be published for The Catholic Thing.

Ralph McInerny (1929-2010)
By Robert Royal, Michael Novak, Bruce Fingerhut, and John O’Callaghan

Zenit: Funeral Held for Ralph McInerny
Welmer: "FYI, I am a Catholic. My childhood church used to hold funding drives for Marxist guerrillas in Central America, and hosted PFLAG and gay pride meetings. A number of priests in the area dropped dead of AIDS in the late 80s/early 90s. I mean, it’s one thing if they’re attracted to men and remain celibate, but it’s entirely different if they’re calling themselves priests while having anonymous sex in the local park and picking up gay prostitutes on Broadway.

Things may be a bit more under control, but the old sinners remain very much in control behind the scenes. I don’t think it will truly change until they are all too old to work or dead, which won’t be for at least another 20 years."

St. Raymond of Fitero

I found this at Sub Tuum today: St. Raymond of Fitero: Cistercian Warrior Abbot. The Cistercians commemorated him this past Monday, but his feast on the universal calendar (of the Roman Rite) is March 15.

The Military Order of Calatrava
Michael Shedlock, Nonperforming Loans in China Rise to "Trillions of Renminbi"
Glosas sobre HERMOSA CATALINA - Francisco Guerrero (1528 - 1599)
Variations sur les Folies d'Espagne
PEDRO GUERRERO - 16th century dance song
John Médaille, Obama Agonistes

The President who promised change could not even change the Chairman, not even one who had failed so badly, and who continues to fail. The Senate for its part admitted that they were united in one thing only: their cluelessness on economic policy. Because the Fed provides the reserves to the banks, and because the banks provide credit to the economy, and because the economy cannot function without credit, the Fed is the most important institution in the economic life of the country, arguably more important than the Congress or the President. Yet both have been reluctant to control the Fed. This is not new. Banking and credit is supposed to be a “technical” matter, best left to the technicians and isolated from the politicians. This means that in our democracy, the democratic institutions have little control over the institution that makes the most difference in the economic life of the country.

David Hackett Fischer on two freedoms

A continuation of this post and an answer to the question I posed: "But is the Greco-Roman conception of freedom really that opposed to the Germanic/Northern European one?"

Lew Daly summarizes David Hackett Fischer's delineation of two different notions of liberty in Liberty and Freedom (Google Books):

Fischer looks at our political heritage from the vantage point of distinguishing liberty and freedom as almost two different traditions. He starts with etymology and cultural linguistics, and the differences he finds in that regard are rather striking. Our English “liberty” derives from Latin and Greek—from the Latin libertas and the Greek eleutheros. The basic meaning here is “release from restraint,” or more generally, being separate and distinct from others. “Freedom,” on the other hand, is an Anglo-Saxon word that derives from the Indo-European root friya or priya, which, strikingly, means “dear” or “beloved.” The Norse, German, Dutch, Flemish, Celtic, Welsh, and English words for freedom all share this root in the concept of endearment or belovedness. We see this in the English word “friend,” sharing the same root as “free,” as with Freund and frei in German. Notably, the oldest known word associated with the idea of freedom is a Sumerian word, Ama-ar-gi, the root meaning of which is literally “going home to mother.” The word was used to describe the slave’s return to his family, his transformation from a condition of bondage to one of belonging, Fischer stresses.

Freedom was intrinsically a collective idea in the Northern languages. Broadly speaking, it did not refer to individual independence, but signified the condition of being joined to a free people, joined by rights of belonging and by reciprocal duties of membership in that people. It is implicitly a concept attached groups if not groups of families, that is, communities. A belonging that frees the person, as the group is free, must be sustained by an equality of rights and duties within the group, independent of other authorities.

While not devoid of corporate applications in the law, Greco-Roman “liberty,” in contrast, meant emancipation from other people—individual separation and independence from others’ control. It is a concept of status attached to individuals. The medieval libertas ecclesiae is translated “freedom of the church” in English, Latin and English “liberty” being insufficiently corporative to apply to the Church as a body (although Latin does have the physical concept of “corpus” itself, of course). In its common use in the Roman Empire, liberty was the opposite of slavery: the context of its meaning was the imperial state stratified into nobility, commons, freedmen, and slaves. Liberty meant release from slavery into the status of freedmen, nothing more. It could not be conceive as arising from one’s membership in a free community.

Is Greco-Roman/Anglo-American liberty nothing more than Isaiah Berlin's "negative freedom"? And what of Germanic freedom? While Fr. Pinckaer's does not explicitly discuss a communitarian aspect to the freedom for excellence, it is there implicitly since the freedom for excellence is intrinsically linked to Catholic ethics, which is communitarian. (See George Weigel for a brief explanation of Berlin and Pinckaers.) Freedom for excellence includes the freedom to act justly and for the sake of the common good, as well as the freedom to love God and neighbor. Freedom for excellence takes the social dimension of human morality very much into consideration. In contrast, Greco-Roman/Anglo-American liberty seems rather impoverished, if it is just "negative freedom." Is this really so?

I think not, since Aristotle too is a "communitarian," and his notion of liberty cannot be separated from his politics as a whole. (I believe this is also the case with the Romans, especially Cicero and the Stoics.) First, Aristotle distinguishes the freeman from the slave. Though I cannot find a reference at the moment, he also explains that the Greek city-states are free because they rule themselves and are not ruled by others. True liberty is not only not being subject to the rule of others but requires that one rules one's self--this is true of both political liberty and individual liberty. Otherwise, a polity that is ruled by disordered appetite will soon succumb to enemies from without or from within. Moreover, the free individual is able to direct himself to his good, and this includes fulfilling one's obligations to others and living with others well. A man who is enslaved to his appetites is not really free, since he does not live in accordance with reason. Reason does not rule in him, and he does not rightly order himself to the goods of life. (Note that this is similar to what St. Paul tells us about being enslaved to sin--Christ has come to free us from death, but more importantly, from sin, so that we may love God as we should. One could say that Aristotle is expressing natural morality while St. Paul is talking about supernatural morality, but I do not think this distinction is correct.)

While freedom and virtue are linked for the individual, someone may still argue that Aristotle's political liberty, being a condition for living the good life, seems to be nothing more than Berlin's negative freedom. That is, there is no connection between individual liberty and political liberty. But this ignores the foundation of political liberty in virtue. The citizen, as citizen, must be concerned with duties to others and to groups not only as an executor of those duties but also as legislator. Only those who are virtuous can legislate or rule well. And given the Aristotelian unity of the virtues, this must be the full range of virtues -- not just virtues with regards to the self, but the virtues with regards to others. The Greek or Roman is not a lone individual whose only social relation is defined only in terms of being subject to another as a slave--he has duties to his family, kin, friends, and to the community at large.

More importantly, though, for political liberty to be merited in the first place, the citizens must be virtuous. Virtue is not only required for political liberty to be exercised well. The vicious who rule may have power over others, but they do not have the moral right to do so -- their mere possession of power justifies its use. If an entire community becomes morally decadent it may lose the right to rule and be subject to outsiders who have a better claim. (As is the case with the barbarians.)

Even if it seems that I am writing in this way, I think it would be incorrect to attribute to Aristotle the view that freedom is a "physical" freedom that must be ordered to right use and virtue. Rather, both individual and political liberty are informed by morality and the good; virtue is the basis of both individual liberty and political liberty. Aristotle's account approximates Fr. Pinckaer's freedom for excellence, even if it is not fully elaborated and falls short in important aspects (with respect to the love of God).

As one can see from the example of Fr. Pinckaers' writings, good Catholic moral theology takes as its starting point the discussion of liberty within Sacred Scripture (and Sacred Tradition), and provides an explanation of liberty in terms of the Good, and acts ordered to the Good. Germanic "freedom" is not present in the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas; he is not German, and he uses his sacred and secular [Greco-Roman] sources, such as the writings of Aristotle, for reflection and speculation. Hence Catholic theologians have taken what was implicit in the Greco-Roman sources and developed it more fully, in harmony with what has been Divinely revealed. I think it can be said that Catholic moral/political theology has not been so concerned with political liberty as a good in itself, even though in the past it has examined questions of sovereignty and authority. This is because political liberty cannot be identified with the common good of a political community, even if it can determine, in part, the means for how the common good is to be obtained. Political liberty, even if it is required by justice, nonetheless is a good subordinate to the common good of the political community. It is the common good that must determine who has legitimate authority here and now, not claims of justice and political liberty.

Might the reason for the apparent contrast between the Germanic freedom and Greco-Roman liberty lie in the respective stages of social, political, and cultural development? The Germans, not being as advanced in their development of political science as the Greeks and Romans, took the self-rule of a people as a fact and did not perceive any need to explain it at any length? Besides, was there diversity in tribal governments? If not, then there would be less of an impetus to examine different forms of government and the nature of authority and citizenship. In contrast, a society where there is a greater differentiation of function, along with competing claims to rule from members of different groups is more likely to spur the sort of reflection that leads to the development of political science. Hence, the old Germanic "freedom" is proper to ethics, but the Greco-Roman notion of [political] freedom is proper to the science of politics, which looks at how the citizen is to govern, as opposed to how the individual member of a society is to act. But I think, rather, that Fischer has given us an incomplete picture of Germanic society.

I am curious to see if the Germans said anything about freedom with respect to Roman encroachment and claims to rule. What word did they use to talking about being free from the Romans? The Germans also distinguished between slaves and non-slaves -- how did they describe the condition of each? What word did they use that is comparable to freedom in modern English? Did one tribe ever attempt to conquer another? Were they regarded as outsiders, or where they somehow integrated with the conquered, thus destroying the distinction between us and them necessary to distinguish self-rule from rule by another? Perhaps Fischer has not done enough research on these matters. We might learn that the Germanic peoples too had a notion of liberty that is similar to the Greco-Roman one.

I suspect though that I need to do more research on Germanic freedom to have a better understanding of it, especially to answer this question: what does it mean to be "unfree" for the Germanic peoples? It seems that the original sense of "free" does not really have any connection to freedom as we use the word today, or to liberty, capacity, faculty. What is a better translation of the word into current English? And how did "free" come to be a synonym for "liberty" in English? I sense that Germanic freedom describes the nature of Greek (or Roman) kinship ties, even if I cannot think of the Greek or Latin equivalent at the moment. As I've said before, the Greeks and Romans were aware of these duties, and Fischer seems to be setting up a false opposition, given the changes in the meaning of "free" over time. It is misleading to talk of Germanic freedom as if it provides a corrective or supplement to our popular definition of freedom. It would be better to compare benevolence or philia or dike to eleutheria, and in Greek moral thought eleutheria is not separate from dike.

Fischer's account therefore illustrates the problem of reducing [comparative] "philosophy" to etymology and the study of language. One needs to take into account everything about Germanic society, and not just one word which was transformed in meaning.

It should be noted that the notion of liberty present in Aristotle or in [medieval] Catholic theology is compatible with an ordered or regulated marketplace. Anglo-American liberty is not reducible to classical liberalism or libertarianism, even if English and American thinkers were influenced by liberalism. (Otherwise, the Anglo-American political tradition would have to be rejected in so far as it is just liberalism in the English language.) Some exponents of the Anglo-American political tradition may emphasize a narrow understanding of political liberty -- this is the case with many "mainstream conservatives." To uphold an Anglo-American political tradition, we must correct for the liberalism that overtaken it, and reappropriate (or reintegrate as the case may be) the Greco-Roman and Catholic moral traditions, and not just republicanism.

A review of Liberty and Freedom by Virginia Postrel.

Ah, Sinéad O' Connor -- is she still pretending to be a priest?

"The laws of this land enslave the people to its king."

I watched the Superbowl ad for Robin Hood and was struck again by this line. Does Ridley Scott turn Robin Hood into a [liberal] democrat, an overturner of the feudal order? Will it feature the signing of the Magna Carta?

On the Magna Carta:

The document conceded by John and set with his seal in 1215, however, was not what we know today as Magna Carta but rather a set of baronial stipulations, now lost, known as the "Articles of the barons." After John and his barons agreed on the final provisions and additional wording changes, they issued a formal version on June 19, and it is this document that came to be known as Magna Carta. Of great significance to future generations was a minor wording change, the replacement of the term "any baron" with "any freeman" in stipulating to whom the provisions applied. Over time, it would help justify the application of the Charter's provisions to a greater part of the population. While freemen were a minority in 13th-century England, the term would eventually include all English, just as "We the People" would come to apply to all Americans in this century.

While Magna Carta would one day become a basic document of the British Constitution, democracy and universal protection of ancient liberties were not among the barons' goals. The Charter was a feudal document and meant to protect the rights and property of the few powerful families that topped the rigidly structured feudal system. In fact, the majority of the population, the thousands of unfree laborers, are only mentioned once, in a clause concerning the use of court-set fines to punish minor offenses. Magna Carta's primary purpose was restorative: to force King John to recognize the supremacy of ancient liberties, to limit his ability to raise funds, and to reassert the principle of "due process." Only a final clause, which created an enforcement council of tenants-in-chief and clergymen, would have severely limited the king's power and introduced something new to English law: the principle of "majority rule." But majority rule was an idea whose time had not yet come; in September, at John's urging, Pope Innocent II annulled the "shameful and demeaning agreement, forced upon the king by violence and fear." The civil war that followed ended only with John's death in October 1216.

The Text of Magna Carta
Medieval Sourcebook: Magna Carta 1215
The Magna Carta 1215
Rod Dreher reports on a lecture by Charles Taylor: Faith, reason and paradigm shifts.

Charles Taylor is popular with Candians, liberals, and egalitarians. Isn't that sufficient reason to be suspicious of his writings? One cannot equate "the kind of revelations that come via flashes of insight and intuition" with Divine Revelation. What sort of Catholic intellectual is he? His is the sort of apologetic that tries to accomodate scientific triumphalism and yet make room for faith, but in the process puts forth a flawed understanding of human reasoning and reinforces a bad judgment about the epistemic value of scientific discourse.

Do scientists have some sort of faith before they do their own work? Yes, because it is impossible for them to start from the very beginning and not only "verify" the work that has been done in the past, but to have, from the accumulated experience of their predecessors, a cumulative grasp of the natures upon which they are experimenting. They must have working assumptions that they themselves do not know, but only believe based on the authority of those who have imparted the assumptions to them or the authority of the scientific endeavor of which they are a part. Does this make it true science? Only if one calls science whatever happens in the minds of experts and those who are working in laboratories, and is "confirmed" by their peers. But this is really just probable reasoning -- it's not really science in the strict sense as it is laid out by Aristotle.

Would "paradigm shifts" be possible if scientists were not working from presuppositions instead of true understanding?
Michael Shedlock, Jobs Contract Yet Again; Unemployment Rate Drops To 9.7%

In the continuing theater of BLS absurdities, the unemployment rate fell to 9.7% in spite of a 25th consecutive month of job losses. Some stopped counting at 22 months in November. However, I find November questionable.
The Free Market Fetish By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
Garbage In, Garbage Out

The efficient markets theory is that unregulated markets are efficient and rational. According to this theory in which Greenspan placed his trust, unregulated markets produce the best possible result. Any regulatory interference worsens the outcome.

Greenspan blamed his own bad judgment on a theory. The theory, or Greenspan’s understanding of it, nevertheless still holds sway as Congress has proved impotent to re-regulate the gambling casino that is Wall Street. Clearly, the theory serves powerful interests.

But what is the truth?

The truth is that markets are a social institution. Their efficiency depends on the rules that govern the behavior of people in markets. When free market economists talk about markets deciding this or that, they are reifying a social institution and ascribing to it decision-making power. But, of course, markets do not act or make decisions. People act and make decisions, and markets reflect the decisions and actions of people.

The entire debate over regulation is misconstrued. It is not the market, an efficient social institution, which is regulated. What is regulated is the behavior of people in markets. If you want good results from markets, good regulation of human behavior is a requirement.

The market is like a computer. Garbage in, garbage out.

If people who use markets are not regulated, they issue fraudulent financial instruments. They leverage assets with absurd amounts of debt. They market their instruments with fraudulent investment grade ratings. They deal themselves aces.

Richad Aleman links to this piece by Dr. Chojnowski, which is worth another read: Interview on the Crash of 2008.
A high school friend linked on his FB account to this piece from Yahoo: Let the Lindsey hype begin: Vonn is Sports Illustrated cover girl. I was thinking of writing something, but then I found that Weaver at CHT already did: Feminists Complain Lindsey Vonn Is Treated Like a Woman.

It seems to me that Sports Illustrated is a men's magazine that knows its readers. Still, women athletes seem to have become more coarse and defminized over the years, and this is true not only of Uhmericans. (Taki has written about this with respect to women tennis players.) However, Uhmerican women are rather noticeable for this defect--just watch their behavior during the opening and closing ceremonies. As for the hype surrounding the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, (iirc) the Winter Olympics generally gets less viewers than the Summer Olympics. How much money will Vancouver lose? If things do get worse economically and politically, is there a possibility that the Olympic Games will cease? What first- or second-world city could possibly afford them in such a scenario?

Thursday, February 04, 2010

What sort of alliance is possible between Distributists and the Austrian school?

See the exchange between Joe Hargrave and John Médaille in the comments to these two posts by Mr. Hargrave: Middle Ground Between Storck and Sirico? and The Real Antidote to Big Government.

Dr. Médaille gives his assessment of the situation at hand:

I believe the political order is passing; the country is already ungovernable and continues only by inertia. For those who still believe in the political possibilities, well, they have to work at it; I beg to be excused. Only local action is important now.

And obviously, from this blog and many others, we have much to say about politics; just now much good to say about it. We could be wrong, and in a few years, I could be heading the local branch of the "Hargrave for President" committee. If that day comes, I will rejoice and recant. But I somewhat doubt it. Our future is not with the Demicans and the Republicrats, nor is there any likely third party. But these things are about to pass. The political order is becoming disordered, and will shortly fall. Our concerns are not with this kingdom, but with what comes next. IMO.
GunsAmerica TV SHOTSHOW 2010 Glock Generation 4 GEN-IV

Milspecmonkey with Magpul Dynamics at 2010 SHOT Show

My guess is that it's the same material that they presented to

60 Minutes on the Green Berets


Zenit: Pope Takes up Justice as Theme for Lent

Zenit: Pope Takes up Justice as Theme for Lent
Says Man Must Accept His Reliance on God

Cardinal Cordes Presents Pope's Message for Lent
"Divine Justice ... Is Essentially Different From Human Justice"

Pope's Lenten Message for 2010"The Justice of God Has Been Manifested Through Faith in Jesus Christ"

Hans-Gert Pöttering on Papal Lenten Message
"Solidarity Is Not Abstract, It Has to Be Concrete"
Farewell to the moon
Damien Perrotin, The View from Brittany
It is a strange moment when you see an once cutting edge technology die. Of course, the common wisdom of our age – the so-called myth of progress – claims it cannot happen. Technologies may be made obsolete, they can turn out to be impasses, but it is unthinkable for a whole avenue of progress to simply close down. That is exactly what has happened, however, when President Obama canceled the Constellation Program, and that tells a lot about the fate of technology in a energy poor future.


Obama Scrubs NASA's Manned Moon Missions

Perhaps the only sensible thing he's done so far, though he hasn't eliminated NASA completely, and there are still grandiose plans of going to Mars, the asteroids, and so on.

NASA - Constellation
EB: In Defense of Food (audio)
Michael Pollan, The Commonwealth Club of California
According to In Defense of Food author Michael Pollan, "...the advent of “nutritionism” has vastly complicated how Americans see food, without doing very much for our health. Nutritionism arose to deal with genuine issues – addressing chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and many cancers – but now seems to be obscuring and perpetuating the real problems of the American diet", says Pollan. This program was recorded in front of a live audience at the Commonwealth Club of California on January 27, 2010.

Hen Song
Gene Logsdon, The Contrary Farmer
For many years I could not understand why the sound of singing hens soothed me so much. Hen song is hardly melodic, being composed of two or three notes at most. It is plaintive in fact, a far cry from the bubbling warble of a bluebird or the soaring lilt of a meadowlark. Hen song is plainsong, equivalent to the way any of us might hum our way through the humble chores of daily life.

Lawrence Auster on Jefferson's betrayal of Washington.
Zenit: On St. Dominic
"He Always Spoke With God and About God"
Zenit: Hong Kong Diocese Loses School Battle
Court Denies Appeal of Education Bill
Chucking Precedent at the High Court
The Invention of the Jewish People
The Problem with the Supreme Court Conservatives
by Gregory J. Sullivan
Jeff Culbreath, America's British Culture

Mr. Culbreath introduces me to Russell Kirk's America's British Culture. (Google Books)

Scanning Energy Bulletin after reading Archdruid Report

The Myth of Self Reliance
by Toby Hemenway

The peak oil crisis: revisiting the electric car
by Tom Whipple

China or the U.S.: which will be the last nation standing?
by Richard Heinberg

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

JMG, End Game

James Howard Kunstler believes that there may be a violent reaction by the masses against those they hold to be responsible if things get worse. (He thinks that the fat cats of Wall Street will be one of the targets.) Do Americans have a lot of pent-up anger, and will they express it if law and order begins to break down, or if the injustices that the government is a party to become manifest?
NYT: Gates Tries to Get F-35 Program Back on Course

No surprises here about the JSF. Predictable after what happened with the F-22?
Zenit: Thoughts About Ralph McInerny
A Man of Wit, Wisdom and Achievement

By Steven A. Long
Is there a connection between abortion and increased risk for breast cancer? Some on the pro-life claim there is. The National Cancer Institute summarizes the literature and says that abortion does not increase the risk. (The American Cancer Society follows the NCI.) I was thinking about this today, and whether there had been studies of women who had had miscarriages. Apparently this is the case.
Sandro Magister, Ambrosian Rite. Cardinal Biffi's Ax Falls on New Lectionary
It has come into use in Milan with the approval of the Vatican. But the archbishop emeritus of Bologna, Milanese and a leading expert on Saint Ambrose, has found it to be full of eccentricities and errors. He wants Rome to reexamine it from the top
The Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes

The Origins of Homemaking: A vocation for both sexes
Upon further investigation, I learned that the household did not become the “woman’s sphere” until the Industrial Revolution. A search for the origin of the word housewife traces it back to the thirteenth century, as the feudal period was coming to an end in Europe and the first signs of a middle class were popping up. Historian Ruth Schwartz Cowan explains that housewives were wedded to husbands, whose name came from hus, an old spelling of house, and bonded. Husbands were bonded to houses, rather than to lords. Housewives and husbands were free people, who owned their own homes and lived off their land. While there was a division of labor among the sexes in these early households, there was also an equal distribution of domestic work. Once the Industrial Revolution happened, however, things changed. Men left the household to work for wages, which were then used to purchase goods and services that they were no longer home to provide. Indeed, the men were the first to lose their domestic skills as successive generations forgot how to butcher the family hog, how to sew leather, how to chop firewood.

As the Industrial Revolution forged on and crossed the ocean to America, men and women eventually stopped working together to provide for their household sustenance. They developed their separate spheres—man in the factory, woman in the home. The more a man worked outside the home, the more the household would have to buy in order to have needs met. Soon the factories were able to fabricate products to supplant the housewives’ duties as well. The housewife’s primary function ultimately became chauffeur and consumer. The household was no longer a unit of production. It was a unit of consumption.
Peter Goodchild, Depletion of Key Resources: Facts at Your Fingertips
The Pentagon Goes Intellectually AWOL By FRANKLIN C. SPINNEY

Mr. Spinney takes apart the Quadrennial Defense Review and the Pentagon's budget request.
PCR, The Crisis is Not Over: The Second Wave
AmCon: Theodore Dalrymple, Suicide of the West: Will America follow Europe into anomie and atheism?

For the person with no transcendent religious belief, this life is all he has. He must therefore preserve and prolong it at all costs and live it to the full. There are not many Hamlets who could be enclosed in a nutshell and count themselves kings of infinite space. For most people, living to the full means consuming as much as possible, having as many experiences as possible, and not only many experiences, the most extreme experiences possible.

But the problem with consumption is that it soon ceases to satisfy. How else can one explain the crowds that assemble in every city center every weekend to buy what they cannot possibly need and perhaps do not want? Will another pair of shoes supply a transcendent purpose?

The same might be said of the experiences that people feel they must seek if they are to live life to the full. Sports become more extreme in their competitive urgency, holidays more exotic, films more violent, broadcasting more vulgar, the expression of emotion more crude and obvious. Compare advertisements showing people enjoying themselves 60 years ago and now. Mouths are open and screams, either of joy or pain, emerge. Quiet satisfaction is not satisfaction at all; what is not expressed grossly is not deemed to have been expressed.
The School Garden Debate: To Weep or Reap
Lisa Bennett, Center for Ecoliteracy
I was speaking today with a mom at my sons' school. She was concerned about a teacher who was doing such a poor job that even his students were complaining that they weren't learning enough...This collective economic angst, I believe, is what Caitlin Flanagan played into in "Cultivating Failure," an article that lambastes school gardens in the January/February 2010 Atlantic. But to separate the angst from the facts, it is necessary to first look at the angst and then the facts.

Asia News: CHINA: Dissidents arrested as land disputes continue
The stability of Chinese society continues to be undermined by these two major social problems. Despite efforts by the central government, violent clashes continue.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


How conservative is The American Scene? Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry writes in Will Wilkinson wants more people to be more like Will Wilkinson:

I don’t know about anyone else, but ever since I got married, I think a lot about women, and the role women play in society. Because of my wife, of course, but most importantly, because of the daughters I will one day (inch’Allah) have.

Every time I think about women, or “women’s issues”, I think about my daughters.

We lived for centuries in a world where technology and culture limited women’s possibilities. But sadly today, in the West, the most limiting factor in women’s economic fortunes is women themselves. For example, women without children have the same salaries as their male counterparts.

The idea that my daughters might, for just one second in their life, think that their potential is less than that of a man, that their horizons might be limited, fills me with a mixture of pain, sadness and fury.

Shirky’s post addresses this by calling on women to level the playing field with men. What I liked most about it is that it’s pragmatic. It doesn’t put forward a grand theory of gender backed by partial studies in neurology or genetics or psychology or cognition or astrology. It simply draws simple lessons from everyday observations: women don’t do nearly as much as men to advance themselves, and they should. EDIT: Nor does Shirky claim that this would solve all the problems women face in the workplace. But it’s a good starting place.

And he concludes:

So yes, actually, women need to man up. You don’t show up with a knife for a gunfight.

And I intend to equip my daughters with rocket launchers.

Women have the same potential as men, and should behave like men in order to realize that potential.

Contrast with recente discussions at WWWTW and The Thinking Housewife.

I had been taking a look at The American Scene from time to time because Daniel Larison was a contributor in the past, and the website was supposed to be a place for voices of an alternate conservatism. Alas it turns out the conservatism of many of its contributors is not much different from what mainstream Republicans believe.

So few are the voices that defend a more traditional view of the relations between men and women (and the authority of the husband in the familiy) that one can become easily dismayed. What sort of reaction will radical feminism provoke in the future, if the government continues to enforce it as an ideology of justice?
California Catholic Daily: Churches Worth Driving To
Thomas Aquinas College chapel - Santa Paula

Mass Times During the school year (all Masses are Novus Ordo in Latin, unless noted otherwise):
Sunday: 7:30 a.m. (Extraordinary Form), 9:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m.
Monday – Friday: 7:00 a.m. (Extraordinary From), 11:30 a.m., 5:00 p.m.
Saturday: 7:30 a.m. (Extraordinary Form), 11:30 a.m.
During school vacations:
Sunday: 7:30 a.m. (Extraordinary Form), 9:00 a.m.
Monday – Friday: 7:00 a.m. (Extraordinary From), 5:20 p.m.
Saturday: 7:30 a.m. (Extraordinary Form), 9:30 a.m.

The chapel.

More on Dr. McInerny

Insight Scoop: McInerny by Fr. James V. Schall, S.J. IS also links to this piece by Dr. Hibbs. California Catholic Daily article.

In memoriam: Ralph M. McInerny by Russell Shaw


Catholic Answers Live: Ron Rychlak and the War on Pius XII

Originally broadcast on February 1, 2010.
The War on Pius XII
Guest Ron Rychlak

BIOGRAPHY: Ronald J. Rychlak is Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law at the University of Mississippi School of Law. He has written two books and over twenty articles in law journals and popular periodicals. He makes his home in Oxford, Mississippi.

His latest book, Righteous Gentiles, tells the story of Pius XII and many other Catholics who responded heroically to the plight of Jews under Nazi rule. The army of facts he marshals in this work joins forces with his previous book, Hitler, the War and the Pope, to definitively give the lie to the coterie of anti-Catholic propagandists exemplified by Daniel Goldhagen and John Cornwell.

(rm, mp3)

Professor Rychlak is mentioned in this Zenit article: Incorrect Date on Pius XII Document Explains Silence: Pope Couldn't Be Indifferent to Raid as It Hadn't Happened Yet

His faculty page.
Hitler, the War, and Pope, Revised and Expanded
Righteous Gentiles
Rod Dreher: MMA and the Fight Club for Jesus
AP: Defense officials say lift military ban on gays

"No matter how I look at the issue," Mullen said, "I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens." Noting that he was speaking for himself and not for the other service chiefs, Mullen added: "For me, it comes down to integrity — theirs as individuals and ours as an institution."

"Sexual identity" becomes paramount -- small wonder that many Catholics do not want to validate the term "homosexual," preferring instead to talk about people with SSA.
'GI Janes' train to protect Iraq By Diana Magnay, CNN
Who's Who in Mexico's Narco Wars?
Execution of Top Capos Only Escalates the Madness

Two on Bernanke

The Bernanke Disaster

Bair's Damning Testimony
By Mike Whitney

Monday, February 01, 2010

VFR: The strange return of Obowma

I'm going to have to agree--that is very bizarre behavior. Giving a deep bow to a mayor?

What is one to think of My Name is Kahn? (Apple) Not all Muslims are terrorists, but is there anything within Islam to prevent the Koran from being interpreted in support of terrorism? Or to delegitimize those authorities which advocate the use of terrorism? Why do I see the heavy hand of liberalism and multiculturalism behind this movie? I may not have to see the movie if I don't like what it is being used for, but for it to be used as a weapon against prudence and traditional Western culture, how can one be pleased to see that happen?
Zenit: St. Thérèse's Spiritual Little Brother
Interview With Author of Book on Marcel Van
NLM: First Fota Liturgical Conference Proceedings Soon to be Published
Sarge, I just saw the trailer for Dear John. It's based on a Nicholas Sparks book and the movie seems to be a straight adaptation. Will women go to the theaters to watch it, dragging their helpless dates? I don't think there will be enough action to placate the men. Will it accurately represent Army SF? I doubt it, but maybe Sparks did his research. Do we need another movie celebrating the romance between a soldier and the woman he leaves behind in the World?
Patrick Deneen, The Problem of Principled Argument
The Case Against Tony Blair by Patrick Cockburn; Daniel Larison, Blair’s Monstrous Consistency.
Obama's Junk Economics By MICHAEL HUDSON
Democrats Say "Bye" to Populist Option

A Proposal for Genuine Financial Reform By MARSHALL AUERBACK

Seminars About Long-term Thinking with Wade Davis

Wade Davis, “The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World” (via EB)

Audio file of the talk given at Cowell Theatre in Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, California on Wednesday January 13, 02010.

Is the West so bereft from the same kind of wisdom? Or people just alienated from it and Christianity?

Gathering the folk widsom of people around the world and banking it so that solutions to our current mess can be found seems like a good idea. (It's like banking all kinds of seeds in case of catastrophe.) But such a study can seem rather haphazard with respect to the sorting of what has been collected, until one has the scientia and sapientia to know what can be applied and what cannot. I'm not so enthusiastic about the collecting of false religions and spiritualities that are supposed to be more "natural" because they seem more "primitive," when in fact they are probably results of the fallen nature of man.

(An upcoming seminar will have Alan Weisman.)

Fr. Koterski on Dr. McInerny

In Memoriam: Ralph McInerny (1929–2010)
Fr. Joseph W. Koterski, S. J. - 02/01/10
Still nothing on the home page of ND about Dr. McInerny. What's up with that?

From September 2005: A half century of Ralph McInerny
By: Michael O. Garvey
NLM: Pre-Reformation Eton Choirbook to be Published in Full Colour Facsimile Edition

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Taxation to fund social welfare

Dr. Fleming writes:

But does this imply a government policy? Yes and no. People make a serious error in transferring arguments that are morally valid for individuals and small communities to the state. If the state is collectively forcing us to give money to strangers who deserve it as a right, it is robbing us of our duty to practice charity and or our duty to make intelligent decisions about the objects of our compassion. The larger the state grows, the more money it squanders and the more people it plunges into poverty. Catholics interested in these questions have got to spend less time repeating the statements of well-intentioned Popes and more on economic reality. But, even then, it is quite wrong to speak of ethically neutral economic policies. In the end, it is far better to be poor and honest under a theocratic economic system, than to be fat and greedy under a Misesian system. Misesian writers are to be condemned, if only for confusing so many people about priorities. Christ’s warning against the likelihood of a rich man entering the Kingdom of Heaven applies doubly to those who reinvent the Kingdom of Heaven as a free market tax haven. The question is not Athens or Jerusalem but Athens or Las Vegas. Woods and his friends, in the last days, will be shooting craps instead of saying the Rosary.

Thomas Storck seems to be responding to Dr. Fleming here:

It was also suggested above that we set aside the papal encyclicals. I’m not sure why this would be desirable. If the Church continues to speak with the voice of Christ, then her teaching on the modern economic situation would be highly relevant to Catholics, I should think.

Pius XI on Casti Conubii is pretty clear on the duty of the state to provide welfare in some cases. I’ll paste the text here, although it is a bit long, followed by some more comments of mine.

“20. If, however, for this purpose, private resources do not suffice, it is the duty of the public authority to supply for the insufficient forces of individual effort, particularly in a matter which is of such importance to the common weal, touching as it does the maintenance of the family and married people. If families, particularly those in which there are many children, have not suitable dwellings; if the husband cannot find employment and means of livelihood; if the necessities of life cannot be purchased except at exorbitant prices; if even the mother of the family to the great harm of the home, is compelled to go forth and seek a living by her own labor; if she, too, in the ordinary or even extraordinary labors of childbirth, is deprived of proper food, medicine, and the assistance of a skilled physician, it is patent to all to what an extent married people may lose heart, and how home life and the observance of God’s commands are rendered difficult for them; indeed it is obvious how great a peril can arise to the public security and to the welfare and very life of civil society itself when such men are reduced to that condition of desperation that, having nothing which they fear to lose, they are emboldened to hope for chance advantage from the upheaval of the state and of established order.

121. Wherefore, those who have the care of the State and of the public good cannot neglect the needs of married people and their families, without bringing great harm upon the State and on the common welfare. Hence, in making the laws and in disposing of public funds they must do their utmost to relieve the needs of the poor, considering such a task as one of the most important of their administrative duties.”

It seems to me that those who object to the state helping those whose means are insufficient have an essentially libertarian or classical liberal understanding of the state and of human society. Everything must be voluntary and given or agreed upon by consenting adults. You’ll notice perhaps the carryover into the other kind of liberalism that we have today, the kind that celebrates all sexual activity provided that that mythic being, the “consenting adult” is involved. Both kinds of liberalism, the classical sort which loves the “consenting adult” when it comes to economics, and the 20th century kind, which loves the “consenting adult” when it comes to sex, are really two sides of the same coin.

I put consenting adult in quotes because the concept really is spurious. People consent for all sorts of reasons, fear, boredom, hope of obtaining something beyond, etc. Just as Leo XIII realized that workers sometimes agreed to substandard wages because had no hope of something else – those wages are not really free and in the nature of things cannot be – how many young women yield to a man not as a “consenting” adult but for fear of losing him, force, etc. Human psychology is a lot more complicated than either classical liberalism or 20th century liberalism imagines.

There seems to be something incongruous when a government which is unable or unwilling to order society justly takes away from the average citizen to support social welfare as a bandaid solution to its failure to rectify the political economy in the first place. Laws should be made to govern acts of both distributive justice and commutative justice.

In a rightly-ordered political community, would it be defensible for the state, as a last resort, to use some of the treasury to aid citizens who have encountered difficult economic circumstances? It seems so--if no one else can directly help them, then the government (or the community which it represents) can.

There are also the questions of of what authority is best suited to this task, and whether a state that is too big can regulate its political economy well (and accordingly, whether it can implement a just taxation policy). The states should be better suited than the Federal Government to have oversight of welfare, but while they lack real sovereignty (due to Federal aggrandizement and also to the fact they are not autarkic and self-contained) how can they fulfill this responsibility?

(By self-contained I mean that regardless of how things are stated in the Constitution, the states exist more as provinces than as sovereign states -- citizenship in a state is automatically conferred when one moves, someone who does not reside in a state can have the same property rights as someone who does, and so on.)

What sort of employer is this?

I had another discussion about my most recent life choices yesterday, with someone who is most likely to cause frustration and anger. Then I read something like this, from the Thinking Housewife:

A male high school senior I know recently visited an elite liberal arts college. The college matched him up with a student who was responsible for showing him around. The school arranged for him to spend the night in the student’s dorm room. The student was a girl.

She made known her intentions during the night. Was this part of the college tour? He declined to sleep with her. They spent the rest of the night talking about her problems with other men.

America’s colleges are in the business of prostituting women in a thousand subtle and overt ways.

How can cooperate with such evil, even if it's only remote and material cooperation? (And I don't think that is the case.) Perhaps professors, once they have tenure, will have the courage to speak their convictions and criticize the administration for their poor (or should we say evil) policies, but what of faculty members who do not have tenure yet? Should they wait until they are hired before they bring up such issues? But should they not instead be looking at prospective employers, working environment, and the institutions while they are considering employment there? (Otherwise, they would be negligent.) Hiring is done by the department, and not the administration. It might be said that being honest about the problems one has with the school during the hiring process is rather pointless, since the department doesn't make school policy (even if the majority of the faculty support it). But if you can't be open with your supposed "colleagues" about fundamental questions, with whom can you be open? And if they disagree with you and believe that thinks are a-ok, can you really work with them, when the whole point is to bring others to the truth? Being forced to be silent for "prudential" reasons can be very emasculating--one must judge if there is a reason to be silent, or some greater good to be brought about. If one must instead open his mouth in order to bring about the greater good (or if not doing so is tantamount to not objecting to evil), then he must say something, should he not?
Oil Is Too Important To Burn In Cars (via EB)


I've had a chance to watch the last quarter of Iris on KBS America. The series was popular with the viewing audience, but less so with K-drama critics here in the U.S. I'd have to agree with the critics -- it's too melodramatic, with the relationships between the characters taking center stage. This may be appropriate for a television drama, but Iris is supposed to be about spies and intelligence agents, and is not at all credible, despite all of the gunplay and action sequences. Who did they get as a technical advisor? And we're supposed to believe that the foreign mercenaries are trained? NSS is supposed to be a top secret agency, and yet the workplace dynamics are not really different from a normal company, as portrayed on Asian television. (If a show were to be realistic, it'd have to show the layers of bureaucracy, but that would be too boring.) Would a copycat of 24 have succeeded in South Korea? (I suppose it depends on the viewing demographics -- who's more likely to watch TV in the evenings, men or women? And would East Asian men be interested in a show that focuse more on action than on relationships?) Iris would have worked better as a period piece or wuxia drama coupled with palace politics than as a contemporary story about Korean intelligence services.

I note that the tacit approval of premarital relations continues in this popular drama. Just last week I was watching one of the entertainment news shows (probably Entertainment Weekly on KBS), and in their coverage of some celebrity wedding, it was mentioned that the bride is pregnant and expecting. It is sad that this is reported without any sort of disapproval (or shame on the part of the couple). In the drama Three Brothers, the eldest daughter-in-law asks the prospective daughter-in-law why she and the youngest son and in such a rush to marry, posing the question, "Are you pregnant?" She then says that the only reason why people rush to get married is because the woman is pregnant, citing the example of celebrities.

While the ideology of radical feminism has not taken root in East Asia, the expectations and goals and morals associated with feminism seem to have. How much of this has been due to outside influence, and how much to the cultural elites seeking to ape the West?

Kim So Yeon is rather cute with the short hair, but she is also very thin...

Han Cinema
Read the Holy Father's address given today before the noon Angelus, in which he explains the theological virtue of charity: On 1 of the Most Beautiful Passages of the Bible. Contrast it with the explanation given by the priest today at STA -- "Charity is loving you for who you are." The priest did compare agape to eros and philia, which is a rather standard way of explaining caritas/agape -- explaining how agape is different from other notions of love in the ancient Greek-speaking world. Unfortunately his explanation falls short of being a Christian exposition of agape/caritas, and is more appropriate for contemporary "feel-good" therapeutic spirituality.

Agape is Divine love, is given to us so that we may love as God does. God does not love us for who we are; He may love us in spite of who we are. With respect to creatures, His love is the cause of good, it is not caused by good. (And that is to grant that we are all good, which is not the case.)
Daniel Larison, No More “Rogue States”