Saturday, March 06, 2010

Recipe for America

via FB:

Date: Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Time: 7:30pm - 9:00pm
Location: 101 Morgan Hall, UC Berkeley Campus

Join us March 10 at 7:30 pm for a conversation with Jill Richardson, author of Recipe for America, and Michele Simon, author of Appetite for Profit.

The dynamic conversation will run the gamut of food issues - the Farm Bill, community food projects and councils, food labeling, school lunches, food safety, and animal agriculture. Be part of the conversation to learn how you can take action from voting with your fork and beyond.

Jill Richardson got involved in food policy activism after working for several years in health care and observing the high rate of diet-related chronic illness among the American patient population. She blogs at La Vida Locavore . Recipe for America : Why Our Food System is Broken and What We Can Do to Fix It is Jill's first book . Marion Nestle hails Richardson as “a fresh voice in the movement to create a healthier and sustainable food system. This book will be part of the burgeoning food social movement, as it provides a guide to the most important issues and how to work on them” and Civil Eats calls Recipe for America "a handbook for the sustainable advocate in training."

Michele Simon is a public health lawyer who has been writing about the food industry since 1996. She has a master's degree in public health from Yale University and received her law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. She specializes in legal strategies to counter corporate practices that harm the public's health and lectures frequently on corporate tactics and policy solutions. She has written extensively on the politics of food, and her first book, Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines Our Health and How to Fight Back,was published by Nation Books in 2006.

Books are the figurative seeds of the spring authors series. To bring literal seeds to the community, at each event Agrariana will have open-pollinated heirloom vegetable seeds and cover crop seed mixes available for purchase. Bring your seed collection for an ad-hoc seed exchange and check our information table with a variety of literature on seed saving and cover cropping.

UC Berkeley Events Calendar: Recipe for America

Recipe for America
La Vida Locavore
Activist of the Month
Review at Sustainable Table.
Book Chat: Recipe For America with Jill Richardson | Crooks and Liars
TakePart Exclusive: Interview with Jill Richardson
With Recipe for America, Sustainable Food Advocate Jill Richardson Invites You to Join the Cause
Question & Answer With Jill Richardson
The Progressive interview (mp3)

Slow Food Berkeley
The Society for Agriculture and Food Ecology.UC Berkeley
The Hawaiian Libertarian recommends this series over at Full of Grace, which looks at critiques of Feminism and the suffragette movement when they were still in their infancy.

I found this one amusing, if sad: How Hindu Women Viewed American Women in 1910.
Zenit: Father Cantalamessa: Why Christianity Is Like No Other
Explains What Makes Grace Hard to Accept

He illustrated today what sets Christianity apart from other religions.

"Christianity does not begin by telling man what he must do, but what God has done for him," he said. "Jesus did not begin to preach saying: 'Repent and believe in the Gospel so that the Kingdom will come to you'; he began by saying: 'The Kingdom of God is among you: repent and believe in the Gospel.' Not conversion first and then salvation, but salvation first and then conversion."

This seems ok, in so far as God tells us what He has done for us, and prompts us to respond. He does so not because He is needy, but because of the weakness of our intellect. Salvation is not effected completely for the individual until he converts.

And it is not hard to understand why grace is a difficult concept for modern man, Father Cantalamessa contended.

He explained: "To be saved 'by grace' means to recognize someone's dependence and this is the most difficult thing. Noteworthy is Marx's affirmation: 'A being does not appear independent unless and only in so far as he is lord of himself, and he is not lord of himself unless and only in so far as he owes his existence to himself. A man who lives by the "grace" of another is considered a dependent being [...]. But I would live completely by the grace of another, if he had created my life, if he was the source of my life and the latter was not my own creation.'
Zenit: A Cardinal for Canterbury?
English Debate About Making Their Country Catholic Again

Full text of the debate.
Zenit: The Priest and the Canon of the Mass
Father Gagliardi Explains the Eucharistic Prayers

FRESH in Los Altos

First, something brief about the movie -- while the documentary isn't perfect as a movie or argument, it provides good portraits of sustainable farming, both in rural and urban settings, and should be viewed for that reason, especially by students in high school.

The showing last night was at a local fitness center in Los Altos. There were only two Asians in the room. Maybe that shouldn't be surprising, since the showing was in Los Altos, not Cupertino. A lot of Bay Area/CA SWPLers; most of them were older. The ratio of males and females was about 1 to 1, I think. I was in a sour mood and judgmental as I was looking at the other members of the audience. Would I be able to relate to the people in rural No. Cal more?

Who is a member of your tribe? Is having a consensus about the production of food enough for the perpetuation of a community? Can Bay Area crunchies be anything more than people with you you can exchange food or talk about sustainable agriculture? Can they become people you'd consider a member of your tribe, if there is significant disagreement about other aspects of morality, including sexual morality?

One needs food to survive, but given our social nature, most of us do not like to eat alone, or reduce meals to consumption. Leon Kass writes about how we seek to elevate eating to something higher. But can we share food and fellowship with liberals, beyond the rare occasion? If we had common tables, as Aristotle seems to advocate for example, would we be able to sit at those tables everyday with them? Any mention of religion, politics, or morality would have to be eliminated, but if that happens, the quality of the conversation or the fellowship will probably go down, especially for men. It would be like handling those sort of divisions within a family--how long can a community like that survive, when bad behavior has consequences, especially on the next generation?

FRESH needs to be shown at local parishes. Perhaps parishes could promote farmer's markets.

The owner of Thompson River Ranch was present, and she prepared much of the food that was there.

Should I check out Andronico's? I could take a walk to Trader Joe's San Jose; I was there once last year looking for dried cherries, and I didn't take the time to look at the rest of the store.

Related links:
Professor Ikerd is featured in the documentary.

Growing Power
Missouri Farmers Union -- Ozark Mountain Pork Cooperative
NLM: The Consecration of Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary Chapel - An Account of the Ceremonies (Part 1) by Gregory DiPippo
Jack Hunter, RE: Gunning Down the Constitution—Kevin Gutzman Defends
E. Christian Kopff, Julius Evola & Radical Traditionalism

Friday, March 05, 2010

NLM: The Consecration of Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary - Some Preliminary Photos

Consecration of Chapel of Ss. Peter and Paul, Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary
Welmer takes issue with a Catholics Come Home commercial. What does Leon Podles think? Does it portray the Catholic Church in a way that returning to the Church becomes attractive to "masculine" men? Does Jim Caviezel's Christ appeal to men? But using images from the The Passion of the Christ may be too controversial. It is impossible to directly convey the richness of a deep interior life centered on Christ. How about an ad that shows a variety of male saints? The celebration of the OF in many Uhmerican parishes does exhibit traits of worship being feminized. (Has Leon Podles criticized Catholic liturgy specifically, or contrasted the EF with the OF?) It seems to me that how men are to achieve union with God must be elaborated, and thus can be done with illustrations from lives of the saints. But laymen also need to understand their role as fathers and husbands, and that sort of catechesis requires an explicit rejection of radical egalitarianism and cultural Marxism.
The discussion of Cardinal Levada's homily continues. I write:

"In so far as someone is criticizing a product which first exists in the intellect or soul of the author, then one can be said to be criticizing the author. But usually when we say we are cticizing someone, as opposed to a product, we are attributing to them moral failings, character flaws, and bad actions. Now, some have criticized certain popes and bishops for what they judge to be imprudent actions. But I think this is not equivalent to the first, although one may go from the latter to the former -- i.e. the cardinal was imprudent, etc. in giving a homily such as this. But it doesn't necessitate it."

Personally I think the homily had some good points but could have been reworded for the sake of pastoral sensitivity. But as it has been said, Cardinal Levada does not seem to be a "people person." Maybe that's an erroneous judgment, but there are a lot of people with long memories.

Are historians the only ones who can make a judgment about the pontificate of Pope Pius VI, for example? Or are traditionalists justified in judging him to be a rather weak pope, in his handling of the new missal and what transpired afterward, along with the various dissenters in the Church?
Zenit: Caravaggio Candy; a Struggle to Turn to the Light and Pope Acclaims Jesuit Sophia University of Japan

Fr. Peter Milward, S.J. is still at Sophia. Eccentric Country - England.

Sophia University
Agribusiness Gets Handed Its Lunch By MARTHA ROSENBERG
From School Meals to Antibiotics
Is the Recovery Real? By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
Going Nowhere
Defense Department, Inc. By SAUL LANDAU and NELSON P. VALDES
The Untouchable Budget

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Not exactly something to brag about.

From the latest Chronicler: "Students at Christendom are active in the College Republicans as well as other conservative and pro-life organizations throughout the year."

Magister on Cardinal Merry del Val

Here's a Perfect Secretary of State. But from a Century Ago

(via Fr. Z)

Religion: Merry del Val Jubilee - TIME

Francesco Sisci, A new battle for Confucius

A new battle for Confucius By Francesco Sisci (via the Western Confucian)

A new translation of Mozi's corpus has been made available by the Chinese University Press:
The Mozi: A Complete Translation by Ian Johnston (Translator). The Chinese University Press (December 15, 2009). ISBN-10: 9629962705. Price US$85, 1,032 pages.

It looks like the same translation is being published by Columbia University Press here in the States. Too bad it's not bilingual.

Mr. Sisci writes:
Furthermore, Mozi's doctrine of "universal love" sounded like the idea of Christian love propagated in the 17th century, as well as like the drive to egalitarianism by the communists in the 20th century.

The Confucianis criticized the Mohists for obliterating social relations -- if this charge is accurate (I haven't read the complete Mohist corpus, only selections), then Mozi and his followers are more like liberals than Christians. The Christian tradition has a doctrine of universal love (which is not identical with Confucian ren, given that the object of charity is primarily God), but it also recognizes that there is an order in charity. Moreover, we have different duties to people, according to their relation to us, or what they have done for us. Hence, the allied virtues to justice. I do not recall what the Mohist account of justice is, and whether they recognize these duties. It's something I'll have to research, if I obtain a copy of the complete corpus.

He also contrasts Mozi with Sunzi:

Importantly, the book provides a basis to reconsider an important aspect of Chinese traditional thinking - military strategy. Johnston is the first person to provide both a credible Chinese textual reconstruction and a translation of Mozi's military chapters. Mozi theorized about defensive wars and his followers, the Mohists, were renowned tacticians who helped organize the defense of small states being attacked by larger ones.

This was at a time when small states were being gobbled up by large ones competing for dominance in the Chinese central plain. The aggressive theories of famous strategist Sunzi helped conceive those and many other future wars of attack, whereas Mozi argued against aggressive wars.

It is very likely that, as popularly described in the unsuccessful 2006 Chinese-Japanese movie production Mo Gong, in the Third century BC Mohist militants aided small states to withstand attacks and then tried to apply radical political and social reforms that went against the interests of the local elites.

Johnston's translation of Mozi could cast new light on Sunzi's theories and Chinese strategic thinking. It's possible that gong, a word commonly understood as aggressive war, at the time meant more precisely war by a large force against a small one, as Lu Xiang, a modern student of Sunzi argues in a forthcoming essay. This kind of war is what Sunzi preferred and Mozi opposed.
Sunzi does not appear to be in favor of unjust wars of aggression, as he does discuss the moral component of victory. Teachers of maneuver warfare and 3GW claim Sunzi as one of their own; numbers may be important if one is one the attack, so it is not clear to me that this is a justification of conquest of smaller polities by larger polities. Did Mozi advocate a purely reactive form of warfare? If so, he would seem to be a bit too idealistic, to the point of causing defeat for anyone who followed his teachings. I remember reading one issue of Lone Wolf and Cub in which the protagonist tells a dying samurai who was disgraced because he did not stay with his lord's palaquin but chose instead to go on the offensive against assassins that attack and defense are the same, since they have the same object.

(How deep is Mr. Sisci's understanding of contemporary Chinese society and classical Chinese culture? He seems to be an apologist for the present government and the Patriotic Associations.)

I'd like to read up on Mohist logic. (Indian logic too.)

Related links:
Mozi - Chinese Text Project
Mozi and Confucianism
Life after growth
Richard Heinberg, Post Carbon Institute

The "normal" late-20th century economy of seemingly endless growth actually emerged from an aberrant set of conditions that cannot be perpetuated. That "normal" is gone. One way or another, a "new normal" will emerge to replace it. Can we build a different, more sustainable economy to replace the one now in tatters?


Food security and peak oil: a message to local citizens and leadership
Jason Bradford, The Oil Drum: Campfire
What I have said may provoke anxiety, and is certainly an immense undertaking, but ultimately we have no choice so let’s not whine and delay. Let’s take it on as a great adventure, a thrilling challenge. Our success or failure is going to hinge on our attitude. We need to take control of the circumstances and become active participants in transition.

Rorate Caeli: Summorum Pontificum: A real application of Sacrosanctum Concilium

A translation of a report published in Rinascimento Sacro on the talk on the sacred liturgy given by Antonio Cardinal Canizares Llovera on November 28, 2009.

A plea for civility?

Theodore Dalrymple, Thank You For Not Expressing Yourself

With the coming of the internet, the tone of the criticism changed. It became shriller, more personal, more hate-filled. It wasn’t just that I had made a mistake, I must be an evil person, probably in the pay of some disreputable organisation or other. (There are very few of us who are not in the pay of someone, and no one is entirely reputable.)

Now of course I am not entitled to conclude from the change in the tone of criticism that I received that the internet has filled the world with hate that was not there before. It is possible that the kind of person who used to write letters to the authors of newspaper articles had fallen silent, while those seething individuals who fired off derogatory or insulting e-mails had previously been silent. But I rather doubt it.

The immediacy of the response which the internet makes possible also means that people are able to vent their spleen in a way which was not possible, or likely, before. The putting of pen to paper, to say nothing of the act of posting the resultant letter, requires more deliberation than sitting at a computer and firing off an angry e-mail or posting on a website. By their very physical nature, then, letters are likely to be less intemperate than e-mails.

The question now arises as to whether it is a good thing that people should be able now so easily to express their rage, irritation, frustration and hatred. Here, I think, we come to a disagreement between those of classical, and those of romantic, disposition.

According to the latter, self-expression is a good in itself, irrespective of what is expressed. Indeed, such people are likely to believe that any sentiment that does not find its outward expression will turn inward and poison the person who has not been able to express it. Better to strangle a new-born babe and all that.

The person of more classical disposition does not believe this. On the contrary, he believes that there are some things that are much better not expressed at all. He counterbalances his belief in the value of freedom of opinion with that in the value of freedom from opinion. He believes that rage will not decrease with its habitual expression, but rather increase with it.

By now it should be clear which of these two viewpoints seems to me to be the more accurate. The habit of not containing your rage is likely to lead you to easily provoked enragement. And, as almost everyone knows who has taken the trouble of self-examination, there is a great deal of pleasure to be had from rage, especially when it supposes itself to be in a righteous cause.

‘So,’ I hear an imaginary interlocutor say, ‘you are in favour of censoring the internet.’

I know that this is how some people will respond, because when I argue that the balance of the evidence suggests that children who grow up with a mental diet of violence on electronic media are more likely themselves to become violent than those who do not, someone will almost always pipe up ‘So you are in favour of censorship.’ In vain do I point out that there is no strictly logical connection between the causation of violence by electronic media and censorship, because one might think that censorship was a worse evil than any resultant violence; after all, no one wants to ban cars because there is no speed at which they are entirely safe and without the possibility of causing a fatal accident. There is no need to blind ourselves to the undesirable effects of violence on television, films, etc. just because we don’t like censorship. Indeed, to do so is a form of voluntary self-censorship, perhaps the most insidious kind.

So it seems to me at least possible that easy access to public self-expression tends to make people more bad-tempered and ill-mannered than they would otherwise have been. It releases people from inhibitions, and allows them to breach psychological barriers. Even wit suffers, for it is far easier to insult than to think of a really damaging, but amusing, witticism. To write to Professor Dawkins that one feels ‘a sudden urge to ram a fistful of nails down your throat’ is easier than to explain succinctly why he is wrong, if he is wrong.

Moreover, the fact that one can vituperate using a virtual rather than a real address promotes such verbal intemperance.

I don’t suppose there is an easy solution to this problem; that is, if it is a problem. The auguries are not particularly good if it is also true, as it is in my experience, that professors of literature are among the worst offenders. If those who teach youth are unable to control themselves, and to keep their disagreement within the bounds of common civility, what can we expect of youth itself?

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Catherine Austin Fitts: From Permaculture to Profits

A brief profile of Eric Toensmeier, author of Perennial Vegetables.

(1 of 4 parts)

Permaculture Magazine
I haven't posted anything by Bill Bonner recently. Here are some:
Government Spending Induces Counterfeit “Expansion”
The Zombie Economy
How to Enjoy an Economic Depression
Depression Causes a Shift in Economic Models

Jason Peters on college

Majoring in Idiocy

I would not be misunderstood. I am not objecting in principle to the fact that a college education comes with a price—that is, with a price tag. I close the classroom door when I lecture because, as the old joke goes, “they’re lining up in the halls out there, and I don’t do this for free.” But I am objecting to the fact that whereas education does come with a price and a price tag, it no longer comes with a cost.

It does not come with a cost because colleges and universities are essentially diploma retailers obsequiously bent on making the shopping experience of their customers enjoyable and painless. Discounts are everywhere. Items are clearly marked. The choices are many, the objects glittery. Can I get you some coffee? Hot chocolate? Be sure to visit our café on the third floor. Please take the moving stairs. One of our associates will be glad to assist you.

Consider the distribution requirements that have replaced core texts and core courses, and behold with what dispatch the university flatters commodity consciousness. See with what precision institutions imitate desperate retailers when these same institutions trot out their pre-professional programs and permit the students in them to avoid any meaningful contact with philosophy, theology, history, literature, political theory, or languages, whether ancient or modern. See how cheaply science holds itself in requiring no knowledge of its own history, in cultivating no suspicion of its own methods, and in sponsoring no inquiry into its fundamental assumptions. Behold the options in this sleek package: business, business administration, accounting, or economics—take your pick. No need to bother with land use, resource management, ethics, or thermodynamics. Business-as-usual will have no hecklers.

For education presently conceived and presently practiced has but one goal: the mass production of idiots.

I’m speaking—I hope—in fairly precise terms here.

An “idiot,” from the Greek idios (“private,” “own,” “peculiar”), is someone who is peculiar because he is closed in on himself or separated or cut off. In short, he is a specialist. If he knows anything, he knows one thing.

It may be difficult to salvage liberal education in the universities once the political economy begins to gasp its last breaths.
JMG, An Exergy Crisis

Pope to Open Sagrada Familia (via NOR)

La Sagrada Familia
CNA: Spanish exorcist addresses claims of Satanic influence in Vatican

(via the Western Confucian)

Blog of Jose Antonio Fortea Cucurull. The blog entry: El Colegio Cardenalicio y el satanismo.

Soft thinking

Novaseeker writes at The Spearhead:

What I saw in law school, both from feminist jurisprudence professors and my female co-students who sympathized with them was the following idea: the legal system, such as it is, is based on hard and fast rules and abstract categories — a "one size fits all" approach that applies the same rules to everyone, and expects everyone to abide by the same rules in every situation. This was deemed to be "steeped in the male way of thinking" and "inherently intellectually violent" because it "forced one perspective on everyone regardless of circumstances" and was therefore thoroughly the product of "the mindset of patriarchy". It was suggested that a female-oriented jurisprudence would view justice not as the impartial application of the same rules to everyone, but rather the selective, context-sensitive application of rules based on the circumstances of the case, the needs of the people involved, the sensitivities and broader impact of the ruling and so on — the idea was that hard and fast rules are bad, narrow and, in that way. "typically male", whereas a more feminine jurisprudence would be based on context, sensitivity, and the particularities of the case, such that two people who would be treated the same under the "patriarchal legal regime" would be potentially treated differently "based on their specific contexts" under the feminist legal system.

This follows from gender feminism — the branch of feminism which plows beyond the "equality" feminism of the early second wave right through into the idea that women are indeed different from men, and in fact are superior to men. Carol Gilligan’s book "In a Different Voice" was all the rage at the time. She was criticizing an earlier study which had suggested that men were more capable of higher moral reasoning than women because women tend to get "stuck" at the level of relationships and the impacts on context rather than the higher level of broader social rules and broader impacts. Gilligan attempted to debunk this study through a series of anecdotal interviews with women by which she intended to show that the female version of moral reasoning — which she seemingly admitted was heavily contextual and relationship-based — was nevertheless at least equal to the male way of looking at things (and heavily hinted to be superior as well, because it was "merciful, compassionate and empathetic" as compared with the male system of "cold, impersonal, impartial" justice). Gilligan was later roundly critiqued by Christina Hoff Sommers as having no sound basis in studies — Gilligan denied that, but never produced any underlying studies supporting her book. Nevertheless, Gilligan’s book has done incalculable damage to men and boys in the decades since it was first written. It was under the influence of that book, together with "Reviving Ophelia", that the school system was tilted dramatically towards girls and away from boys. And it’s still the case that numerous feminist lawyers, judges and legislators effectively buy Gilligan’s view that female-style context-based moral reasoning is superior to the supposedly "male" approach of applying the same rules to everyone.

The best riposte, or at least the most entertaining one, to Gilligan that I have read was in Steven Pinker’s "The Blank Slate" where he basically says that if Gilligan is correct about how women reason morally and legally, no woman should ever be appointed as a judge.

Can emotion distort our judgment and reasoning? It seems to me that there can be such a thing as false empathy, which is false because it is derived from an erroneous understanding of the human good. False empathy in turn can lead to wrong conclusions about what is right behavior and what is not. "Soft thinking" thus leads to an embrace of situation ethics or consequentialism?

Emotion may not only be the problem here; pride and a fault of the will can be the root causes. Those who pride themselves on having the right emotions are lead astray in their moral reasoning, despite seeming well-intentioned. Still, I'll concede that there may be those who are "sincere" in their wrong-headed empathy. How will they respond when confronted with the truth?

Besides false empathy there is also the fear of appearing to be "judgmental," offending someone else, and losing a friendship or relationship.

Related links:
Steven Pinker - Books - The Blank Slate
MIT World: The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature

TED: Steven Pinker chalks it up to the blank slate
Fr. Z: A few musings about Card. Levada’s homily in Nebraska

I can see why some traditionalists might be offended by the homily -- by lecturing the seminarians and priests of the FSSP, it seems to question their fidelity and charity. An occasion for humility and respect of authority? What does the cardinal think of his office as the head of the PCED?

Edit. Some reactions by readers of NLM. Would reactions have been different if he had said things differently, more as a warm shepherd or spiritual father, rather than as a [Roman] bureaucrat "enforcing the line"? Cardinal Levada isn't known for his pastoral or personal qualities -- I have heard that as a bishop he was less than successful in those respects. People criticize Pius XII for being aloof, distant, and cold, but I think photographs do not convey his personality. Such criticisms might be warranted though for certain bishops, especially certain American bishops. American bishops seem to range from one extreme to another, cold and impersonal to soft and "nice." If Cardinal Levada had rewritten the homily and delivered it (not necessarily with an "all smiles" approach) as a geniunely concerned pastor, reaffirming the Fraternity's charism and mission and exhorting them to be good priests working for the Lord, how differently it would have been received!

Greg Plotkin, Why Wal-Mart Won't Ever Please Locavores

Why Wal-Mart Won't Ever Please Locavores

A suitable rebuttal of the views mentioned in this post.

Macial's family speaks

See the videos posted here: A peek into the abyss. (Also posted at Catholic Light.)
The Thinking Housewife: Therapeutic Tears

Dr. Fleming criticizes that sort of sentimentalism that passes for morality and obliterates all distinctions between social relations. Sentimentalism seems to be part and parcel of Uhmerican narcissism. It is much easier to feel good and to show emotion then it is to be virtuous and act accordingly. Character is reduced to thinking correctly and feeling correctly, and since the barriers to these are relatively low, many Uhmericans believe that they themselves are good, even if they fail greater tests. (I'll grant that they also need to follow the more fundamental precepts of justice, i.e. do not murder or steal, but what of other sins against justice, like verbal sins against one's neighbor?)

What do those gathered do the next day, in order to revivify their communities and to stall their decline? Probably not much. The murder of a young person is an evil and a cause of sadness, but is anything being done to prevent this from happening again? As Laura Wood and others have pointed out, the feminist indoctrination of young women, that they are invincible and can do anything, continues.

More by The Thinking Housewife:
The Safety of Women in an Uncivilized World
The Evil Called Illness

Qui non est mecum, contra me est; et, qui non congregat mecum, spargit.

Matthew 12:30

Yesterday at school I was struck by the absence of God during the school day -- that is, He is not mentioned at all. It is what you would expect at an American public school, but how can this be acceptable to any right-thinking person of good will? The other day a student said, "Oh my God," and I told him not to say that. Unfortunately I didn't have a chance to explain to him way, that we should not take His name in vain; we should instead reverence it. (I wouldn't want to give him the impression that being a secularist or anti-theist is the norm.)

At any rate, man can come to know that he has a duty to pay due homage to God as Creator of the universe, to perform the acts proper to the virtue of religio. This is a precept of the Natural Law, even if it cannot be fulfilled perfectly without from grace and charity. Our public schools, in ignoring God and refusing to discuss Him (as opposed to teaching about "religions"), thereby belittle His importance and foster the lack of proper respect. God has no place in the daily life of our public schools, and students are habituated accordingly -- much potential spiritual growth for beginners is hampered with God is effectively excluded for half of the day (7 or 8 hours out of the 16 during which we are awake). If we are already living as if God is not important to us, then how can we take His commandments seriously when we are confronted with severe temptation?

False religions, those which teach polytheism or atheism or monism, may be tolerated, but they should never have been granted equal status with Christianity. The reaction against Christianity entails a rejection of God (or right monotheism). One cannot preserve the latter in a formerly Christian society.

Cenacle of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus

I found this post at the Holy Vocations blog: Cenacle of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus.

The blog of Dom Mark Daniel Kirby, O.S.B.: Vultus Christi. His article on chant from last Summer's issue of Sacred Music is now available at the online archive. (pdf)

Carmel of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph

This discalced Carmelite community were mentioned during the consecration ceremony, as it is in the diocese of Lincoln. The community does not yet have a website? I think a friend's sister was with this community for a while, but maybe there is another traditional discalced Carmelite community of women in that part of the U.S.

Related links:
Carmelite Sisters (OCD)
Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
Phatmass Phorum
Article about a TAC alumna who entered the community. (has an address for the community)

Some O.Carm stuff:
The Lake Elmo Carmelites have an art studio producing icons. The color scheme doesn't adhere to Eastern (Byzantine?) convention.

Texas: Carmelites Celebrate 800 Years of following the Rule of Carmel)

Up-Date on new Carmelite group (not sure if they intend to be O.Carm or OCD)

Whole Foods promoting vegetarian diet?

Whole Foods “Health Starts Here” Campaign Is A Vegetarian Agenda
By Raine Saunders

I first read of this shift on the Daily Apple, as Mr. Sisson linked to an article by Mr. Jimmy Moore. Some posts by Mark Sisson:

My Escape from Vegan Island
Top 10 Best & Worst Protein Sources (vegetarians take note)

I haven't shopped at Whole Foods because I don't think I can afford to, but I should buy better quality meat.

John Allen interviews Msgr. Marini

For National Catholic Reporter, of course (via Fr. Z). Fr. Z comments on a companion piece by Mr. Allen.
Richard Spencer is debating Helen Rittelmeyer on the question, “Is Christianity for Wimps?” (via VFR). Mr. Spencer is taking the affirmative position -- but what sort of Christianity is he criticizing? Contemporary liberal Protestantism? (Which might include the American Catholic clone.) Or traditional Christianity?
The 2nd Amendment And The States - With Dr. Kevin Gutzman

Mike: So Judge Napolitano says that the Second Amendment applies to all the cities and all the states and all the municipalities in the United States. And you, when we lost your cell phone connection, you were explaining that you had reviewed his book “We the Sheeple” or something to that effect for The American Conservative magazine, and then we lost you.

Dr. Kevin Gutzman: Right. Well, his book was called “A Nation of Sheep.” And essentially it was a book I could endorse about 95 percent. The one shortcoming was that he has this idea that all of your rights are based on natural law or that they are somehow suddenly the result of philosophical speculation. And so as we heard in the sound bite you played, if we have a right to self-defense, then that must be a right to keep and bear arms, which means you have a right to own a weapon that you might use in your own defense, and therefore no government in the United States can contravene this right.

Well, if he were right about the origin of your rights, that might be a reasonable way to get to that conclusion. The problem is that your right to keep and bear arms, like the other rights in the federal Constitution, is actually a historic right, not a philosophical one. It’s based on people’s experience as English subjects before American independence, where they had a right to keep and bear arms. And that right to keep and bear arms had certain contours. Now, when the Bill of Rights, when the federal Bill of Rights was adopted, it was intended entirely to reserve control over these questions to the state governments. That is the reason why we had a federal Bill of Rights was further to clarify the limits on federal authority.
Franklin C. Spinney, Eisenhower's Nightmare Arrives

As I indicated in CounterPunch on 3 February 2010, the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) just released by the Obama Pentagon is a bad joke. That bad joke is about to be given the good housekeeping seal of approval by a special panel appointed jointly by the Secretary of Defense and the defense barons of the Armed Services committees in Congress. When this happens, rest assured, any desire to get control of the out-of-control defense budget will plunge far below its already low level. Chalk up another victory in the Military - Industrial - Congressional Complex’s (MICC’s) war on the Constitution, the American taxpayer, and programs like Social Security and Medicare, which are hallmarks of civilized society.

"Conservatives" who think the United States should be "strong" on defense need to re-evaluate their premises and learn about the sort of conflicts we are engaged in now and will be in the future. Even if they believe we need a military that can occupy territory and capture natural resources, expensive toys will not help it accomplish those goals.
Washington, You Have Been Warned
Dave Cohen, Decline of the Empire

Two Brits are duking it out over the fate of the United States. Harvard historian Niall Ferguson, a Scot who believes that America's Imperial Magnificence is fading fast, fired the opening salvo in A Greek Crisis Is Coming To America...Financial Times editor Martin Wolf weighed in to counter what he calls Ferguson's "hysteria" in How to walk the fiscal tightrope that lies before us.


The last days of economic growth
Daniel Pargman, Life After Oil

Björn Forsberg writes about the fundamental and unavoidable conflict between the environment and the (growth-based) economy in "The last days of economic growth: Green clash over worldviews" (2007). His basic tenet is simple - it is impossible to win legitimacy for any measures that threaten economic growth, are financially burdensome, require sacrifices or are perceived as troublesome for the individual.


The Infinite Energy Machine and the Myth of Green Energy
Dan Allen, Energy Bulletin

What if we suddenly had access to unlimited clean energy? Would that be a good thing, or would we simply use it to complete the biocidal program of industrial civilization? This little thought experiment suggests that our problem as a civilization is not lack of energy – it is lack of imagination, humility, and empathy. The core is rotten. We must find a better way.

Damian Thompson: Cardinal Levada, Prefect of CDF, to preach at Tridentine Mass in new traditionalist chapel

I'm watching the consecration on EWTN now. There will probably be pictures available later.

I had forgotten that Thomas Gordon Smith designed the seminary in addition to the Benedictine monastery at Clear Creek.

Edit. Fr. Z has some screencaps up.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The foundation of the moral life?

Rod Dreher: Does moral action require rational thought?

Mr. Dreher draws upon contemporary scientific findings:

Neuroscientists have found that our brains appear to be hard-wired for empathy. Which suggests that feeling, not cognition, is the basis for moral action. That's not to downplay the role cognition plays in moral behavior, but only to say the moral instinct appears to be pre-cognitive.

It looks like Mencius was right? Or certain thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment? Empathy may be a natural response to the suffering of others, but is it enough to guarantee right action? And is empathy a purely a response to sense perception? Or does it arise from [rational] judgment as well?

More on Ron Unz and Hispanic crime rates

Ron Unz responds to Steve Burton and Matthew Roberts. Steve Burton writes a rejoinder.

Susan McWilliams looks at a neglected factor behind the rise of hook-up culture

Our Hookup Culture

Mostly, this new round of cultural criticism echoes arguments that have already been made, perhaps most notably in Kathleen Bogle’s Hooking Up and Thomas Wolfe’s I Am Charlotte Simmons. In addition to a general excoriation of hookup culture, these works tend to “blame” the dominance of hookup culture on one of the following things:

1) the sexual revolution, which legitimized sex outside of dating and marriage;

2) feminism, which told women to embrace their own sexual desires and act on them;

3) medical technology, which makes it easier for women to prevent pregnancy and easier for everyone to treat VD;

4) legalized abortion, which means that pregnancies can be made to disappear; and

5) lenient universities, where lax administrators all but throw students into bed with each other by offering up coed dormitories and keg parties and free condoms.

My immediate response to these explanations is “blah, blah, blah.” It’s not that there’s not some truth to them – there certainly is – but they smack too much of blaming the usual suspects, and they fail to take stock of the cultural whole.

A more holistic response, I think, would see the extent to which hooking up is almost bound to emerge as a norm among young adults in a large-scale society where mobility is highly prized and cultivated.

Alternative Right

Richard Spencer has started a new website, Alternative Right. (via VFR) Jack Donovan of The Spearhead will be a contributor. (See his The War on Oblivion: A Discussion about the Future of Fatherhood in the West.) Looks like it is trying to recover some of the seriousness that has been lost at Taki's Mag?
The Thinking Housewife: In the Company of Plants

Criticism of the 20th ce Liturgical Movement

One participant makes some claims about Dom Beauduin and the 20th ce Liturgical Movement in the combox for the posting of the video of last week's appearance of Fr. Calvin Goodwin and Deacon Rhone Lillard on EWTN Live. Are some of the same claims made in Fr. Didier Bonneterre's Liturgical Movement? Is it really "clericalist" for the laity to understand the prayers of the priest or their own specific parts of the liturgy? Where is the balance to be found between intelligibility of the liturgy and the conveyance of transcendence?
News about the LCs in San Jose? Will CHA be back next school year?
Shamus Cooke, How Obamacare Kills Real Health Care Reform

Stewart J. Lawrence, Is Obama Already a Lame Duck?

Paul Craig Roberts, A Religion Divided Against Itself

Elinor Ostrom Wins Nobel for Common(s) Sense
Fran Korten, Yes! Magazine

Elinor Ostrom was an unusual choice for the 2009 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. For one thing, she is the first woman to receive the prize. Her Ph.D. is in political science, not economics (though she minored in economics, collaborates with many economists, and considers herself a political economist). But what makes this award particularly special is that her work is about cooperation, while standard economics focuses on competition.


Monday, March 01, 2010

NLM: Preview of the New FSSP Seminary Chapel

"With great power comes great responsibility."

This is the often quoted line spoken by Uncle Ben to Peter Parker in the first Spiderman movie, and inspires the gawky teenager to become a vigilante hero. (Will this line be repeated in the reboot?) Someone quoted it this morning [2/24] on one of the country music stations.

Conservatives may try to save rights language by coupling rights with duties or responsibilities -- "rights entail responsibilities," similar to the joining of liberty to responsibility. (They are identical if right is defined as the [moral] freedom to do x.) If liberty is by definition indeterminate with respect to the good, then it must be "compelled" [from without] to embrace the good or to be used "correctly." (The will is indifferent to good and evil acts in so far as it can choose either, but it is perfected by the former and not by the latter.)

In this post I won't be discussing rights and liberties, but only abilities and powers, and whether we can be required by law to use them for others. Even liberals can give some assent to the claim that we should act, or exercise our abilities responsibly. A superhero is not good because he does great things with his abilities, although children may think that way. Rather, great power requires great virtue for it to be exercised well and not poorly, or for evil purposes. A superhero must overcome not just evil people, but the temptation within to do evil. But Uncle Ben is saying more than this: those who have great power have a responsibility to use that to benefit others. Certainly this is the lesson that Peter Parker learns. Peter corrects his first realization that his failure to stop the robber cost his uncle his life. He comes to see that since he was there had the power to stop the criminal, he should have done something, and this was good for its own sake.

But in a liberal society, how can the linking of power with duty or responsibility be justified, if individual autonomy is the ultimate value? The liberal government may prohibit us from using our powers to harm others, but can it require that we use them for the sake of the good of others or ourselves? If I am better than you in some way, why should that fact alone entail that I should be required to exert a greater effort so that my ability is used to its fullest? And if a government should command me to do so, would that not be a violation of my rights? Even if I am stronger than you, why should a carry something heavier? Why shouldn't everyone be carrying the same or equal weight? That seems like equality to me. (This argument is often made by those who advocate everyone being taxed the same amount?)

A liberal state may be able to compel its members to defend it if it is under attack, because individuals can better attain their good with it than without. (Or, since individuals would have to defend themselves regardless, their chances of survival may be increased if they work together than by themselves. But what if the individual is ordered to sacrifice himself?) This is an emergency situation -- what if the community is not in immediate danger, and its survival is at risk? By what right can the state command me to do more to promote my well-being and that of others, whether it is because I have greater abilities than others or because I am not using all of my rather limited talents?

(If I am a citizen in a "democracy" and I vote or support such a law, then I am merely codifying what I have already chosen for myself. If I oppose such a law... then as a liberal I can argue that the state has no right to create this law.)

We may "intuitively" agree with Uncle Ben's statement, so how do we justify it? It seems to be something that is required, though not necessarily by positive law. If it were required by positive law, the civil government would be the author of the law, and our obedience to its authority would come into play. But we may grasp that this requirement is just, even if there is no human law to lay it out for us. We may understand that it is required for the sake of the common good or because of an even higher authority (Luke 12:48). If it is the former, then it seems we can by the use of our reason understand the demands of distributive justice upon us, just as the natural law commands us to use all of our abilities for the good of the community. It is distributive justice that justifies unequal burdens for unequals.

Because it does not admit that man has a social end or that there is a common good distinct from man's private good, liberalism appears to be unable to give a reason for the state to issue such laws. Rather, liberalism would have to prohibit this sort of legislation.

This gets me thinking -- how does the liberal justify taxation for the purpose of redistribution? As a means of avoiding conflict between the haves and haves-not? For some abstract notion of equality? Do liberals have a notion of distributive justice that can be harmonized with a more traditional notion?

Started on February 24.
When my nephew "flirts" in reaction to the presence of women, is his judgment that a woman is present based mostly on visual cues? Or is there a sensible component to physical/sexual attraction other than the 5 senses with which we are familiar?

From Asia Times, more on the Church in China

Mgr Nugent: Would like to visit each China bishop in communion with the Pope
by Annie Lam
After ten years of China Church work, the representative of the Holy See is set to leave to take up the post of nuncio to Madagascar. He will be consecrated on 18 March, by Card Bertone. In this interview, he looks back at his work and the life of the Church in China. Main moments include the witness of the persecuted Christians, the unity of the Church, diplomatic relations between China and the Vatican, the appeal on behalf of imprisoned bishops and priests, and the openness of some leaders in the Chinese

Underground Priest: we work for the unity of the Church, with Mgr. An and Card. Zen
by Peter Song ZhichunAfter the controversy raised by an Italian magazine, on the division between official and underground communities, AsiaNews gladly received and publishes the testimony of a priest in the underground community in China. Appreciation - even if not shared - for Mgr. An Shuxin, who decided to become vice-chairman of the Patriotic Association, esteem for card. Zen, a champion of freedom of the Church. The most important commitment is the recovery of the reconciliation of the Church, promoting "forgiveness" and "martyrdom”.

Surprise. "The best war movie in recent years" not realistic.

Last night on 60 Minutes, Lesley Stahl interviewed Kathryn Bigelow. The claim that The Hurt Locker is the best war movie in recent years was made by Ms. Stahl. Ms. Bigelow gave a screening of the movie to EOD techs, some of whom were veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq. There were some positive comments, but the question and answer session was heavily edited, and reactions from only 2 EOD techs (out of a room of 10 or so) were aired. What did the others think of the movie?

Something from today: Some Iraq, Afghanistan war veterans criticize movie 'Hurt Locker' as inaccurate (via Drudge).

I wrote a review last year of the movie. Sarge didn't like the movie for the same reasons voiced by other vets. Realism was discarded in favor of artistic creativity and the demands of drama. I still think The Hurt Locker is better than most American movies from last year, and much better than Avatar.

Rob Hopkins interviews Tim Kasser

Tim Kasser on Consumerism, Psychology, Transition and Resilience. Part One
Tim Kasser on Consumerism, Psychology, Transition and Resilience. Part Two

The High Price of Materialism
Knox College
NLM: Solemn Mass Offered by Jesuits at Fordham University

(more photos)
Perils of the Stationary State by Adam K. Webb

Monday's Counterpunch

Whatever Happened to "We the People"? By RALPH NADER
Empire and Oligarchy

The Case Against Bernanke and Greenspan by Mike Whitney

The Fall of Greece by Diana Johnstone

A Refuge for Cowards: the Senate Extends the Patriot Act by Jayne Lyn Stahl

Organizing Against Empire: Where Left and Right Meet ... Amicably by Paul Buhle

(AmCon: The Problem With Progressives By Thomas E. Woods Jr.
Can you count on them to stand against war, regardless of who is in office?)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The importance of envisioning “community” (part 3)
by Gary Clausheide

Rianne Eisler has a different theory that she has written about in The Chalice and the Blade. She says that early societies developed in two different directions. One type became pastoral “dominator” societies, nomadic, patriarchal, and violent. The other type were agrarian, peaceful, sedentary, egalitarian, and goddess worshippers. She calls them “partnership” societies, and they began in middle Europe around 6,000 B.C. At some point the dominator societies began to invade them, supposedly for food, and later taking over their towns and enslaving them. The last partnership society was on the island of Crete and was destroyed around 1500 B.C. The point is that as partnership societies were overtaken by dominator societies, their patterns of equality and peaceful cooperation were overtaken by patterns of aggressive competition and hierarchy. That is what we have inherited today. (Note that once societies become hierarchical, I no longer call them communities. I believe “community” and “hierarchy” are mutually exclusive concepts.)

Another impact of agriculture was that as it improved, it freed up a lot of members of those societies. It allowed these people to focus on other crafts: house building, pottery, metal work, etc. Thus the beginning of “division of labour” and specialization.

A giant leap in the evolution of agriculture would have come when groups moved to higher elevations and tried to farm without the aid of flooding rivers to enrich the soil and smother existing plant growth. People would then have to figure out “tillage” (creating seedbeds) and how to maintain fertility.

By the end of the last partnership society, most societies are hierarchical, violent, patriarchal, have a ruling elite, and run on the energy of slaves. They are, in effect, dominator societies. These are the societies that historians dwell on. So let’s skip ahead over the thousand or so years of Conquest. The names of Kings and Queens, presidents and prime ministers, dukes and princes, popes and generals, who defeated whom, etc. is quite irrelevant to the history of community. We’ll pick up the story at around 1,000 A.D., after the Romans had cleared out of northern Europe.

Riane Eisler and David Loye — Center for Partnership Studies

The use of myth to present norms for communal life... how is this different from academic sociology? When will this particular tired myth die out? Better histories of Europe, that also take a critical look at the accumulation of economic power among the few, have probably been written.


Whatever this is that I am, it is a little flesh and breath, and the ruling part. Throw away thy books; no longer distract thyself: it is not allowed; but as if thou wast now dying, despise the flesh; it is blood and bones and a network, a contexture of nerves, veins, and arteries. See the breath also, what kind of a thing it is, air, and not always the same, but every moment sent out and again sucked in. The third then is the ruling part: consider thus: Thou art an old man; no longer let this be a slave, no longer be pulled by the strings like a puppet to unsocial movements, no longer either be dissatisfied with thy present lot, or shrink from the future.

All that is from the gods is full of Providence. That which is from fortune is not separated from nature or without an interweaving and involution with the things which are ordered by Providence. From thence all things flow; and there is besides necessity, and that which is for the advantage of the whole universe, of which thou art a part. But that is good for every part of nature which the nature of the whole brings, and what serves to maintain this nature. Now the universe is preserved, as by the changes of the elements so by the changes of things compounded of the elements. Let these principles be enough for thee, let them always be fixed opinions. But cast away the thirst after books, that thou mayest not die murmuring, but cheerfully, truly, and from thy heart thankful to the gods.

Remember how long thou hast been putting off these things, and how often thou hast received an opportunity from the gods, and yet dost not use it. Thou must now at last perceive of what universe thou art a part, and of what administrator of the universe thy existence is an efflux, and that a limit of time is fixed for thee, which if thou dost not use for clearing away the clouds from thy mind, it will go and thou wilt go, and it will never return.

Every moment think steadily as a Roman and a man to do what thou hast in hand with perfect and simple dignity, and feeling of affection, and freedom, and justice; and to give thyself relief from all other thoughts. And thou wilt give thyself relief, if thou doest every act of thy life as if it were the last, laying aside all carelessness and passionate aversion from the commands of reason, and all hypocrisy, and self-love, and discontent with the portion which has been given to thee. Thou seest how few the things are, the which if a man lays hold of, he is able to live a life which flows in quiet, and is like the existence of the gods; for the gods on their part will require nothing more from him who observes these things.

Meditations, Book 2
Zenit: On the Transfiguration
"The Joys Sown by God in Our Life Are Not the Destination"
Peter Hitchens, More sex education means more teenage pregnancies...always

수상한 삼형제

The KBS family drama Three Brothers (수상한 삼형제) makes me think of Dr. Fleming's piece, "Three Weddings and a Funeral."
Isang, the youngest son, is rather beta in his relationship with his gf/fiancée. His subordinate (Isang is a police captain) is dating the fiancée's sister, and is much more alpha in how he handles her. The mother of the Kim family is very bossy? Is she very traditional in her expectations of her daughters-in-law or in how she manages the household?

Isang's father was originally opposed to his son's marrying Eoyeong because her father, who had been a gangster in the past, had framed him for a crime which led to the father being put in prison for a while. After Isang was seriously injured in a police operation, his father yielded and consented to the marriage, even reconciling the Eoyeong's father. Isang's mother doesn't like Eoyeong because she's older (but acts rather immaturely for her age) and isn't as traditional as she would like. She remains opposed to the marriage.

I think Isang is too beta in his relationship with his girlfriend, but that's not a sufficient reason within the story of the drama to keep them apart. If we looked at it from a pagan point of view, as it is elaborated by Dr. Fleming in his piece, would we think that his parents' objections were sufficient for the marriage to not take place?

Related links:
My Soju

Eoyeong is played by Oh Ji Eun. She's quite cute; I think she has one of the typical Korean pretty woman looks.

Pioneer? Or a feminist out to conquer men?

From First Things: The Greatest Moment in Women’s Sports That You Never Heard About

So will male professional bowlers step up to the challenge? Or will they just drop out of competing?

Kelly Kulick becomes first woman to win PBA Tour title - ESPN
Women's rights finds a kingpin in Kelly Kulick, first woman to capture a PBA title

"As she was rolling her final ball, Kulick actually spoke into an attached mic, telling the world this was a landmark victory for women in sports."

Does Ms. Kulick know what an outlier is? She used to work in her father's auto body shop? A daughter who became a tomboy because her father wanted a son? What of her "love life"? Has she been as successful in that?

What will MRA bloggers write in response to this? I think professional sports in general should be abolished -- how can wasting that much money be justified in an world with social injustice? Amateurs can compete for prizes, but should men permit a woman to compete against them? Those who support her will cry that males with fragile egos should not play the game if they are being sore losers. But is a society that permits women to show men up misandrist? I have no doubt that she could beat me in bowling. But does her ability justify the feminist agenda? No. (See the comments of Billy Jean King.)

Only men can police the bad behavior of other men. Even if a single woman can beat other men in a sport that depends less on the physical attributes that characterize male superiority, this does not mean that most women can. (How heavy is Ms. Kulick's ball? Probably lighter than males of comparable size.) And it does not entail anything with respect to the functioning of the polity.

That a blogger at First Things would celebrate this shows how infected its staff is with radical egalitarianism?

Kelly Kulick Strikes Against Pro Bowling's Image Crisis

A one-word adjective for grad programs?

The description can be summed up simply as neutering.

How many of the men in academia could be called emasculated sheep? (Especially the radicals who seek to overturn traditional culture and Christianity?) They may rely on the power of numbers to bully, but if they had no support, what honor and courage could they show in confronting those they take to be their enemies?

If society were to become fragmented, traditional culture may not prevail in most places -- I suspect that barbarism would, but liberalism would be stomped to death in the chaos and savagery, because it promotes a degraded society and does not have the resources to ensure its survival in the face of grave threats. (Historically, liberalism may have had good fortune by being attached to the rise of the nation-state and the centralization of power, but because it destroys the character of the people it cannot survive long without a strong state.)

I have to say that recently I've been thinking about starting up writing again, once I finish taking care of some things here. I have nothing positive to say about academia, but the topic is worthy of being written, especially as a response to liberalism and false Christianity.
This morning the former pastor of the local church gave a homily about how we need to correct how we perceive Christ -- he is not just the savior of all mankind, but our personal savior, and our friend. A bit too Protestant-sounding? Personal "acceptance" of Christ is not enough -- we need to be established in a right relationship through grace, and we can destroy our friendship with him through mortal sin. Also, because our notion of friendship is rather limited, the following caveat should be given: while Christ is our friend, the friendship is nonetheless between unequals. This friendship does not remove the need for the gift of the fear of the Lord, or for the infused virtues of religion and latria to be exercised.

As I walked out of the church I couldn't help but think that local churches deserve to shrink in membership, if they continue to offer a watered-down version of the Gospel that does not make any demands on us, especially those of us who live in more affluent areas.

*I don't think numbers should be the only measure of whether a church is flourishing, but if a diocese has few vocations to the priesthood and its churches are aging (that is to say, young people fall away from church), then the bishop should assume responsibility, instead of thinking that it has nothing to do with his leadership. I think our Lord gives His workers in the vineyard clear signs that they are not living up to His calling; they should not need visions or some sensible manifestation to warn them that they are failing.