Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sandro Magister, Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven. The Argument over Celibacy

A trip to the boonies

Today I drove my mother to Oakdale to visit Fr. T. That's the closest I've gotten to Yosemite.
We passed by Tracy, Manteca, Escalon. While we were driving on 120, my mother said the towns looked like "a village," and she surmised that the people living there are more simple. Father conferred; he commented later that the people live a more human life, and they take things more slowly. The habitants of Oakdale are mostly whites and Hispanics. The church in Oakland has a decent exterior; the interior has been "updated" but the wreckovation wasn't taken too far.

Would I move there? It is supposed to be California farmland, but it looks rather dry and I am guessing that the temperature goes up during the summer. I don't know if I could handle that, though it may be no worse than summer in Silicon Valley. What of the rest of Stanislaus County? I should check out Stockton and Modesto. There is no real city center to Oakdale, though there is a small downtown. Father said most people do not congregate anywhere on the weekends; they gather with their families, which isn't a bad thing. Having a village center/square or village green would help members of a community celebrate together, though. Why is the development of towns and cities in the United States so lacking, in comparison with European towns and cities? (Is this inadequate development of civic life equally found in all regions?)

The boonies are not worse off in this regard than the megapolises, like San Francisco and New York City.

Flowers of Edinburgh & Spootiskerry - Ashley MacIsaac & The Bachands

Celtic Colours Wagmatcook Concert Finale

The complicity of colleges and universities in usury

Via Rod Dreher: Placing the Blame as Students Are Buried in Debt

Edit. A response by Vox Populi to the same NYT article.

Friday, May 28, 2010


The paperback edition of Methland is coming out next month. I would think that a copy of the hardcover edition can be found at the local library.

I am surprised that there aren't any videos interviews online. (If there are, they aren't easy to find.)

Huffington Post interview (alt)
2009 Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize
Review by James Williams
A VFR reader writes why individuals with SSA should not serve in the military:

Homosexuals are by definition individuals who are sexually attracted to persons of the same sex. A male homosexual desires other males. Lesbians desire other females. This is obvious, yet it is ignored in media or political discussions of certain homosexual agenda issues.

Homosexuals have been trying for years to force the Boy Scouts of America to accept homosexual scoutmasters. These men would take young boys camping. I've heard people defend this by claiming that homosexuals are no more likely than heterosexuals to molest children. I don't believe that's true, but even if it is, it's irrelevant. It would be relevant only if adult straight males were demanding the right to take little girls camping. Can you imagine the outrage if heterosexual men were making such a demand?

Congress is now moving to admit open homosexuals to the military. We're told that homosexuals are no more likely to engage in sexual misconduct or harassment than heterosexuals. That's debatable, but so what? Heterosexual men in the military don't bunk down and shower with the women. But homosexual men will indeed bunk down and shower with the other males if Obama gets his way. Ditto for lesbians and the other females. There would be universal outrage if heterosexual male soldiers demanded to shower with naked female soldiers, but naked male soldiers are expected to shower with homosexuals who might desire them. Female soldiers are expected to shower with lesbians.

What we're being told, indirectly, is that homosexuality is a more enlightened form of sexuality. We can't allow young men to take girls camping because that would lead to pedophilia, but it's no problem to let homosexual men take boys camping. We can't let heterosexual males shower or bed down with females in the military. That would lead to sexual harassment, and the ladies would feel uncomfortable that a bunch of lustful guys are seeing them nude. But no one of either sex should have any problem with being in such a situation with a homosexual. Heterosexuals can be barred from situations where sexually improper behavior might result, but homosexuals cannot. Indeed, they have a right not to be barred.

Items of Interest, 27 May 2010

Daniel Larison, In One Reality Or Another

Mike Whitney, Credit Storm in Europe

Patrick Cockburn, Iraq: Paralyzed, Dejected, Corrupt

Recovery of what? We need a new way of assessing growth by William Davies (via EB)

Author Nicholas Carr: The Web Shatters Focus, Rewires Brains (via Rod Dreher)

Zenit: "I Have Heard the Devil's Confession"

Some sad news -- AP: 'Diff'rent Strokes' star Gary Coleman dies

Annie Leonard interviews

Elle interview with Annie Leonard, creator of The Story of Stuff and author of the companion book.

It's About Community: An Interview with Annie Leonard of The Story of Stuff
Meet the Controversial Woman Behind "The Story of Stuff"

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Annie Leonard
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News

Via this link. In the combox "Anonymous" recommends this "rebuttal":

This seems to be a defense of corporate power and not-so-free "free market economics."

I saw that one of the local B&N stores was selling the book at 50% off.

"Capone" reviews Sex and the City 2. Dr. Helen is looking forward to watching the movie because it might be politically incorrect in dealing with Muslim cultures. If this was the intent of the filmmakers, does it backfire because of the characters of SATC?

Capone writes:
SEX AND THE CITY 2 spends roughly half of its 145-minute running time openly mocking Arab traditions, no matter how dated and out of step with the world at large they may be. Is there a place in the world for films that question and defy the terrible ways that women are treated in some regions of the Middle East? Without question. Is that place writer-director Michael Patrick King's script and movie? For the sake of argument, let's say "Why not?" Here's why not. Because the portrait that SEX AND THE CITY 2 (I'm talking about this movie specifically, and not the series or first film) paints of Western women makes them appear to be the most appalling, whiny, vapid, materialistic creatures on the face of the earth. If you're going to criticize something, at least offer up a viable alternative that isn't worse. I'll get off my soapbox, but dammit this movie goes into some truly culturally offensive places.

I see a lot of interest from young [American] women in the movie on Facebook. If American women identify with the four characters so much -- not just their "friendship," but with their life goals, materialism, consumerism, and "liberated" attitudes towards ex, then do they not deserve some measure of disdain?

Edit. Roger Ebert's review
I read about Ron Paul's vote to get rid of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" last night --Don’t Ask, Don’t Tweet. Today Red Phillips has a response: Ron Paul Wrong on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Did Doctor No vote based on his libertarianism, his constitutionalism, or a sincere belief that those with same-sex attraction do not adversely affect military life? This isn't just about getting rid of a stigma attached to same-sex attraction, over which those who have it may have no control, but giving an endorsement to the "lifestyle" which follows. (House Democrats are determined to make sure that the "new morality" triumphs and is accepted everywhere.)
Rod Dreher publishes a letter by a Dominican friar about Mexico: Mexico on the Cross

Chant of Aquitaine - Benedicamus Domino

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Sportsman channel? The only place to watch the second season of Tactical Arms. The first season is available on DVD.

Vickers Tactical
AP: House approves repeal of gay ban in military

Book of the AR-15

I took a look at this magazine at B&N today, and found a short article on LWRCI's new rifle. Some photos at m4carbine.

The magazine also featured the POF P-415 and the Sig Sauer 516.

Advertised for AR maintenance: Leatherman 850022 MUT Military Utility Tool with Molle Sheath.

Rod Dreher, Mexican drug cartels capture the state

Items of Note, 27 May 2010

Winslow T. Wheeler, A Mutually Assured Debacle

Franklin C. Spinney, Dropping COIN: McChrystal Returns to His Root

Kelley Vlahos, National Security Strategy: Whistling Past the Graveyard(s)

Is this for real? Obama Threatens 14 US Governors with Immediate Arrest - EU Times (via FTW)
A friend's father passes away, a nephew is born, a friend suffers a setback in court--the joys and sorrows come and go, and life continues while the Lord of Life and Death abides and rules.

Multi Terrain Pattern

A British Army soldier of C Squadron, Royal Dragoon Guards wears recently-issued "Multi Terrain Pattern" (MTP) camouflage while on patrol in the area of Gorup-e Shalsh Kalay, Helmand province, Afghanistan in a photo released May 21, 2010. Almost all British troops fighting in the war in Afghanistan will answer directly to a U.S. commander as part of a restructuring of the NATO-led mission, the organisation and Britain's military said on Friday. (Reuters/Daylife)


British Army to get new camouflage uniform
British Army to get new uniforms – turned down by the US and made in China
Crye Developed New Camo Pattern for Brits

From Sarge: Knight's Armament

The Restrepo trailer @ Apple.


DVD, Amazon

Rounder Artists
Rounder Records
Steve Martin

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Not just oil: US hit peak water in 1970 and nobody noticed By John Timmer

The concept of peak oil, where the inaccessibility of remaining deposits ensures that extraction rates start an irreversible decline, has been the subject of regular debate for decades. Although that argument still hasn't been settled—estimates range from the peak already having passed us to its arrival being 30 years in the future—having a better sense of when we're likely to hit it could prove invaluable when it comes to planning our energy economy. The general concept of peaking has also been valuable, as it applies to just about any finite resource. A new analysis suggests that it may be valuable to consider applying it to a renewable resource as well: the planet's water supply.

Dr. Fleming on art

From a comment to this post by Scott Richert:

I promised to stay out but I will answer this question. You raise a serious question but one in which too many questions are begged. I don’t like Leonardo at all, and if the Last Supper was a great painting, we shall never again be able to judge because it has been entirely ruined by restoration. Could the world do without Renaissance painting? Rather easily. Are most Renaissance painters Christian? No. Is it better to study more Christian art? Emphatically yes.

I find it difficult to regard as serious art any form of communication nor depiction that is a vulgar imitation of perceived reality. This includes photography and film. That some film-makers can succeed in making a kind of art, despite the obvious limitations and liabilities of their form, I do not doubt. But in such a case, they are either veering toward some other art, such as narrative fiction (Ford), drama (Sturgess), or painting (Renoir). I have seen many of Gibson’s films and seen interviews with Gibson himself, and it is impossible to take him seriously as an “artist.” Simply because one likes something does not justify one in calling it what it is not. A big Mac is not good food, Braveheart is not art, much less great art.

While good character and great art are more often allied than is commonly supposed, we live in troubled times. Pasolini, whose film I recommended, was a homosexual communist, but he was, insofar as he was able, an honest man and not a bad poet. He was reaching for the truth and did not import into his film anything not in the text of the Gospel. (Note the singular.) Gibson, on the other hand, has posed as a family-values Catholic while betraying his wife. I have not seen his film and do not wish to under any circumstances. We have four Gospels and do not need a fifth. Besides, the ultra-graphic technique of modern film can only distort the text. That would be enough to condemn the production. Then there is the problem that he picks and chooses from four texts. The most famous attempt at this in the ancient world was done by a heretic, and with good reason. Each version has its own focus, its own vision, and although scholars and theologians are quite right to compare the versions, each is meant to be taken on its own terms. Then there are the things that Gibson has introduced. Where in the world did this sweet-cheeks actor get the idea he could do his own Gospel?

Finally, let me repeat what i have said many times. It is never right for an artist to manipulate and stimulate the passions directly. It does not matter whether the artist in question is Beethoven or Caravaggio or a simple tool like poor Gibson. I do not mean to say there are not fine things in romantic symphonies or mannerist art or Baroque sculptures, but that we have to be on guard against them, lest we fall under their spell. When people tell me that their faith was strengthened by seeing a movie, I am stunned. I would shock them if i told them the truth, which is that they are, in the first place, fools, and in the second place, they are making their faith dependent upon the basest of arts, cinematography. I, who have seen more evil and more bad art than most people and survived, would not willingly undergo this sort of temptation. I would more willingly watch a Korean vengeance film or piece of French pornography. While this junk does work upon our lowest instincts and probably degrades everyone it touches, it is not presented in the guise of religion. It is one thing to look at pornography; quite another to take pornographic pictures of your wife or daughter. If there are Catholics who do not understand this, then my advise is to kick in their TV, never go to movies, get off Facebook and Twitter, and read nothing written in the past 500 years.

The Christian Knight explained... by a Knight

Jack Donovan talks about Geoffroi de Charny's writings on being a knight in Way of the Knight.

The Book of Chivalry is not a manual on tactics or technique, it is a treatise on how to live -- and die -- like a knight. It describes "The Way of the Knight." And, importantly, it was written --likely dictated aloud to a scribe as the Hagakure was -- by an actual knight. Charny was not a monk or a poet or a politician or a novelist or a Victorian or a modern historian. He was a battle tested knight held in high regard as an exemplar of chivalry by his king and his peers. Chivalry was his Way.


The word chivalry is most often used today to denote some sort of Victorian gentlemanliness, especially deference toward women. While Charny notes that men can triumph when they put their hearts into winning the love of a lady, he also says that such men are "so naïve that they are unaware of the great honor they could win through deeds of arms." He acknowledges the draw of women and their ability to motivate men, and advises both men and women to love loyally, but sees obsession with romance as a distraction from winning honor and places romance in perspective. The word chivalry comes from the French chevalier, meaning horseman, and it is the French equivalent to the word English word "knight." The knight was a warrior, analogous to the samurai. His primary function was to kill men in honorable combat for his lord, his King, his God, and occasionally just on general principle. The Knight did not exist merely to impress and fawn over the ladies. Chivalry was the Way of the knight, his code of conduct, his standard of honor. And it was with fostering knights of exemplary worth, courage and honor that Geoffroi de Charny was primarily concerned.


Amazon: A Knight's Own Book of Chivalry and The Book of Chivalry of Geoffroi de Charny: Text, Context, and Translation (U PA Press)

DOA this Fall TV Season

I have not watched Hawaii 5-0 since I was a child, but I remember the actors potraying adult men. Their age helped in part, but even young-looking James MacArthur seemed like a mature man. Watching the preview for the CBS remake, set to debut this Fall, I was dismayed by how dumb the show seemed, even though I suspected this is what the final product would be like when I first read about it. The men act like children. This is what passes for being a man in contemporary America? How many real American men would put up with this? This is misandry, even if depicts how many American men act and think. Can one be surprised when Danno is played by Scott Caan?

I don't think this new updated version will last half a season. I think it will go the way of NBC's Hawaii.

Watching men portrayed by "boys" does inspire self-reflection, and all of this can be rather depressing.
Peter Hitchens again reminisces about steam locomotives, and once again I'm reminded of Tolkien's distaste for them.

Items of Interest, 26 May 2010

An Interview with Peter North (original)
Rob Hopkins, Transition Culture

Pete North's new book "Local Money: how to make it happen in your community" will be formally launched at the 2010 Transition Network conference and will be available to order here at the end of this week. The latest book in the Transition Books series, "Local Money" is a comprehensive overview of local currencies, and how to plan and implement such a scheme.

Sustainable Medicine: An Issue Brief on Medical School Reform (original)
Dan Bednarz, Health after Oil

This issue brief calls for changes in medical school culture, primarily curriculum, research and clinical practice, as a conscious response to the simultaneously ongoing fiscal/economic crisis and what E.O. Wilson has termed the Bottleneck of ecological dilemmas, shown most prominently but not exclusively as the worldwide peak in crude oil production. Together these forces will reconfigure modern society, particularly health care.

Irony In Garden Farming (original)
Gene Logsdon,

It says in the books that hens have to eat commercial mash to lay a profitable number of eggs. All the farming tradition they know about or been taught says you have to feed mash. Momma fed mash so don’t you dare insult her memory. Ditto for papal infallibility.

Deepwater Horizon: This is what the end of the Oil Age looks like
by Richard Heinberg

Mark Weisbrot, The Eurozone's Self-Inflicted Crisis

Feast of St. Philip Neri

Archbishop Di Noia to visit NYC

He will be giving an address at the Yale Club on June 2.

Zenit: Archbishop Di Noia: Faith, Morality Are Reasonable
Zenit: The Priest's Mission as Guide
"The Authority of Christ, Not His Own"

Papal Addresses on Feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius
"Celestial Patrons of ... the Whole of Europe"

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sebastian Junger at the Commonwealth Club

"Sebastian Junger (left) and Tim Hetherington in eastern Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. Photo courtesy of Tim Hetherington"
Source: Sebastian Junger on War, and the Edge

President Obama was also in San Francisco tonight; how many protesters showed up for that?

I had planned to see Mr. Junger on Sunday, but his appearance in San Jose was canceled. If I had known, I would have made an attempt to go to Kepler's right after Mass. Last night he was in Berkeley, but by the time I got out of work, I was not inclined to make the trip. So I decided to go to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco today to hear him speak. (Fortunately I was alert enough to see if tickets were required for the event. I probably could have purchased tickets there, but it was a rather full audience, which was mostly senior citizens. There was a young brunette there -- a Junger fan? Or someone with a relative or loved one in the military? Two older men sitting near me were talking about tomorrow's event at the Commonwealth Club -- a debate about open carry in California and elsewhere:

Guns in Public: Exploring California's Open Carry Policy

Chief Ken James, Police Chief, Emeryville, CA
Sam Paredes, Executive Director, Gun Owners of California
Professor Franklin Zimring, William G. Simon Professor of Law and Wolfen Distinguished Scholar, UC Berkeley
John Diaz, Editorial Page Editor, SF Chronicle - Moderator

The gun debate is more heated than ever. In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled against a sweeping ban on handguns in Washington, D.C., and affirmed an individual's right to self-defense and gun ownership. Numerous analysts believe that this year, the court might be poised to overturn Chicago's strictest-in-the-nation handgun ban. In a majority of states, law-abiding citizens may openly carry a loaded handgun with no license or permit required. In much of California, it is legal to openly carry firearms as long as they are unloaded and visible.

Open carry policies are now being hotly debated. Here in the Bay Area, in communities such as Walnut Creek and Antioch, open carry groups have been congregating at different locations to demonstrate their right to carry unloaded, unconcealed firearms in public. Opponents have come out en masse to protest. There is now even a proposed bill that would make it a misdemeanor to openly carry an unloaded handgun in specified public areas.

As the state struggles with what's right - constitutionally and morally - we take a close look at this controversy from many sides. How do you feel about people carrying guns in public places? Does it matter if they're loaded or unloaded? Is this a justifiable assertion of second amendment rights or a potential disaster waiting to happen? Should open carry be the law of the land?

I was considering attending the debate, but I probably won't. I wouldn't be surprised if most of the audience was against open carry (or guns in general), but the two men talking about it seemed to be more open to the idea. Or at least they seemed "conservative" on gun rights.

Mr. Junger reminds me a bit of Dwayne Johnson, aka the Rock. I don't think he played football for his school, but he said he was a competitive runner. He looks younger than his age. (A photo from 1997 in People magazine.)

He was introduced by Robert Rosenthal of the Center for Investigative Reporting. Mr. Junger talked a bit about his background -- he started off as a war report in the early 90s. He was in Bosnia and Sierra Leone. On 9/11 he was in Moldova. He commented on his attitude towards the U.S./Western militaries, as he was appreciative of what they had done a lot to intervene in foreign wars, for humanitarian reasons. (Including the changes it brought to Afghanistan, which he witnessed. He had seen the tragedies taking place in these lands before Western militaries had put an end to them.) In 2000 he was with Ahmad Shah Massoud, and in 2002 he was with his fighters when they took Kabul.) He think the liberation of Afghanistan was a good thing, but the problem was that the war was "undermanned, under-resourced," as we walked away from Afghanistan for a war in Iraq.

He admitted knowing nothing about the military before being embedded with 2nd Platoon, Battle Company of the 173rd Airborne Brigade. This unit had seen 1/5 of all the combat in Afghanistan. During the course of its deployment it was involved in 500 firefights. Everyone in the unit had come close to dying, and this was true of Mr. Junger himself. He was shot at and a bullet came close to hitting his head. He recounts that during combat he himself did not feel fear, but was instead strangely calm, to the point that he wondered if there was something wrong with him psychologically. But the fear and the accompanying emotional responses came 6 hours later -- PTSD is this phenomenon taken to a greater extreme.

When the outpost known as Restrepo (named after a medic who was killed in action) was being built, the platoon came under attack 13 times. The soldiers lived in their clothes, had no running water or hot food, just MREs. In many ways it was the anti-paradise. There was the threat of death and other unpleasant things. But the book sought to address the question of how men who are subjected to combat and deprivation miss it?

Soldiers are often said to want to go back to a combat zone because they are adrenaline junkies. When soldiers are ramped up and there is nothing happens, they have to release this somehow, and this often came in the form of tension and strife with other soldiers. Combat was not necessarily negative psychologically -- in fact, one feels the most "alive" during combat. What was demoralizing was the downtime, when nothing was happening. Hence, there was a lot of value placed on humor, which helped alleviate these times. (The soldier who was both brave and funny was king of the hill.)

Mr. Junger concedes that adrenaline is a component but it is not a major factor. What they really miss is group inclusion. Adrenaline is a transitory narcotic. What is stable and abiding is the identity of a soldier: the role one plays and his relationship to everyone else, and perceiving that one has a purpose and is a necessary part of the group. There is a security to having that identity. One doesn't have to worry about one's worth and value, so long as one is a good soldier. The soldiers saw their base in Vincenza, Italy as a "coward's land" -- here they were given orders by men who had not experienced combat, and it was disconcerting to them. In Afghanistan what was important was that one was a good soldier, everything else, bad character traits, etc., were just footnotes that didn't really matter. Part of the reason why soldiers can make jokes about mothers and sisters is that they know that these jokes won't destroy the bond they have with one another. They can count on the others to put their lives at risk for each other.

Mr. Junger pointed out that there are guys in the unit who hate each other but would die for each other. What explains this readiness to sacrifice one's self for another? This willingness is more common to family members. Combat experience also made men more emotional -- somehow it enabled them break whatever was holding their emotions back. (According to Junger's explanation.) This happened to Junger himself, who remarked that he could now understand why women cry at weddings.

Junger does have his own opinions about politics and the war in Afghanistan, but he wanted to write about American soldiers. He went to Afghanistan in part to learn more about fear, which the military also studies. He found that the levels of fear are not connected to levels of danger, but to perceived control. The military also studies courage, but this is a more difficult thing to study than fear because soldiers refuse to admit its existence. It is part of a soldier's identity to take care of their own, to risk their lives for their comrades -- "it's part of the definition." A soldier is distinguished from a non-soldier, and being a good soldier is also the minimum requirement for friendship (in the foxhole). What did soldiers fear the most? Causing the death of a friend and fellow-soldier (through negligence or some other mistake). This is why soldiers feel guilty when they go on leave -- they worry that because they are absent, unit strength (and survivability) is affected.

In a combat zone things are rather simple -- one's relationships with everyone else are well-defined, the social dynamics or rules are black and white. He contrasted this with marriage, in which a spouse can get in trouble if they miss the small things (or cues.) In a combat zone any problems affecting relationships are readily understood. People will be straight-forward about their grievances and so on. And when they are not in combat the men will be rather laid-back. Maybe that's why life in a combat zone appeals to the male brain, because it is so simple. (The audience got a laugh from this joke.)

From the Q&A session:
Junger thinks that if the US had enough manned outposts on high ground, things would have turned out better. He believes that a battalion would have succeeded where a company could not, in the Korangal Valley.

There are two options: pull out or do it right. Mr. Junger favors doing it right. He claims that the number of civilian deaths now (due to the U.S. military) are much less than the number of civilian deaths during the 90s, when the Taliban was in control. He doesn't understand why the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom are supplying 90% of the troops. If he could give Obama advice it would be this: the President should give the coalition allies an ultimatum -- the U.S. will stay in Afghanistan for one more year, and if other allies, including Muslim countries like Jordan and Egypt, do not contribute more troops, then the U.S. will pull out, regardless of the consequences.

As for his opinion about whether victory is possible in Afghanistan? He thinks the war is winnable, if there are enough boots on the ground.

He also thinks the rationale for Don't Ask, Don't Tell is circular [poor] logic, because in the units to which the argument about unit cohesion would most apply, combat units, the soldiers do not really care if someone is a homosexual or not, as long as they do not show sexual interest, etc.

The Q&A session concluded with Mr. Junger telling the audience that regardless of their politics, they should embrace the soldiers when they come back. It was reemphasized that the soldiers are a rather apolitical lot--they leave the decision-making and justification up to the politicians; they joined the military to serve their country and their fellow citizens, and this is how they view it.

Re: the sense of purpose and the boredom that soldiers feel when they are not in combat and so on -- would this be helped if they had a better spiritual life? I can understand why members of our society feel like they do not have a purpose. Is the true of pre-modern psychology?

I've read the first 30 pages or so of the book. Junger does not devote much attention to the hardware or the war-making -- it seems that he focuses primarily on the soldiers and their stories. It's written for a wide audience, and not for military geeks, but it is appropriate -- civilians should be reading more about the experiences of soldiers fighting wars overseas.

Restrepo will be in wide release in June -- I plan on seeing it and I hope I won't be alone. The DVD will be out later this year. I asked him if there'd be extra footage, and maybe it seemed like a stupid question to him, but I didn't have an opportunity to clarify since there was a long line of people waiting to get books signed. I wanted to know if there'd be extra footage, since the two directors took 150 hours of footage and made a 90 minute movie out of it. I should ask my friend RHK if he'd be interested in going.


Sebastian Junger on 'War' in the Valley of Death

Sebastian Junger's War by Claire Martin
Vanity Fair: Into the Valley of Death
When Uncle Sam met the Taliban
Sebastian Junger On The Thrill And Hell Of 'War'
Sebastian Junger is embedded with a combat platoon
Restrepo Directors Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington: The Movieline Interview

I could have been caught by the CHP as I went home, but the officer decided not to take any of us in. Then I was put in a somber mood by the occasion of something, something pertaining to RHK...

Related: Winners of 79th Annual California Book Awards Announced
Rebecca Solnit, A Paradise Built in Hell
William T. Vollmann, Imperial

Richard Mack in Sunnyvale

(source of photo: Sheriff Richard Mack: oath of office and state sovereignty)

As I noted, Sheriff Richard Mack made an appearance in Sunnyvale last Tuesday [three Tuesdays ago]. I managed to go out to hear his talk; I am guessing that the crowd was filled with a lot of Campaign for Liberty and Ron Paul supporters, as well as libertarians. The San Jose branch of the John Birch Society was also present, selling issues of New American.

I have to say that initially I felt weird being there; the people seemed a bit too enthusiastic about liberty, and I wasn't used to that. There are probably some differences in our political and philosophical beliefs despite their desire for a limited, Constitutional federal government. Even if they do think that a California that exercises state sovereignty is a good thing, do they agree with the likely outcome? Are they more likely to be social progressives? Or supporters of Prop 8?

Sheriff Mack was introduced by former IRS agent Joe Banister, who started by leading the Pledge of Allegiance. As usual, I refrained from saying it, though I did stand and put my hand over my heart. The word "indivisible" seems to go against a proper understanding of the Constitution. See Thomas Di Lorenzo. It seems incongruous to me for one both to believe in states' rights (and the right to secession) and to say the Pledge sincerely. But those who were in the audience seemed enthusaistic for this display of patriotism. The brand of patriotism exhibited by the Tea Party movement relies on sanitized "conservative" propaganda regarding the American founding. I don't doubt there are a lot of Lockean liberals in the movement. Still, I would probably prefer their company to that of California progressives. (To a point?)

Banister pointed out that Mack is on the SPLC list of "Patriots." He then read a brief bio of Sheriff Mack from one of his backs, adding his own comments and anecdotes from time to time.

(While Tea Party supporters want freedom from federal government, what is their attitude towards the state? Do they have an inclination towards local democracy? How many of them are libertarian in their attitude to state and local governments as well?)

Sheriff Mack's talk was mostly about his own personal journey towards being a lover of the Constitution and liberty, and the ramifications of the SCOTUS decision in the lawsuit he brought forth against the federal government regarding the stipulations of the Brady Bill.

(Sheriff Mack recommends Freeze Dry Guy, saying that whoever has control over food has control over us, and in this time of uncertainty, it would be wise to stock up.)

He used Patrick Henry's "holy cause of liberty" in his introduction; I suppose that rhetoric was acceptable to some of the founding fathers and to those in the crowd, but it bothered me a bit. He mentioned that only 7 out of 3100 U.S. sheriffs joined the suit "against the Clinton administration," and asked why that was. He also commented on the futility of the drug war, which he deemed to be a farce.

Then he talked about his days when he was a young police officer. Even if there aren't formal quotas on tickets, there may be informal ones, and he did his part to write tickets. His moment of conversion came when he made an easy traffic stop on a woman who had run a stop sign in front of him. The woman was a young mother (with children?) who was not well-off. At that moment he caught a reflection of himself, and he didn't like what he saw. He walked away after handing the woman her license and registration back. He decided that he would quit. He called himself a hypocrite, because he never studied the US constitution or the Utah constitution, even though he took an oath to defend them. He said he took oath in order to have the job, not because he truly understood what the oath entailed. He was walking into the city administration and was ready to resign...

But then he imagined what his wife's response would be: "Can't you change yourself so you're not a hypocrite and keep your job? So he didn't, He decided not to quit, opportune time to take a class with the author of The Making of America, Professor W. Cleon Skousen. He appealed to Founding Fathers like Washington and Adams.

During his visual presentation he showed a clip from Gettysburg--Col. Chamberlin's speech about fighting to set other men free. Sheriff Mack sees the 3100 American sheriffs as a potential army to set Americans free from illegal acts by the federal government. They would be the ultimate check and balance against the federal government, as the sheriffs report directly to the people.

(He said that if California sheriffs would unite, they could let the water flow to the San Joaquin Valley, noting that the region produces 50% of fruits, nuts and vegetables for the United States. It is an important agricultural region, but is this what we should be preserving? Industrial agriculture may have its needs, but shouldn't we be working for a better political economic order?)

He also played a scene from Clear and Present Danger, where Admiral Greer is talking to Jack Ryan about how he took an oath and has a duty to the American people.

(The Constitution, the federal government, and states' rights: To whom do elected officials take an oath? To whom are they answerable? What about federal officials? Are they directly answerable to the people? Or is this relationship mediated by the states?)

Sheriff Mack linked the keeping of the oath regarding the Constitution and the Tea Party movement. He believes that the states must reassert their sovereignty -- this is the solution to an out-of-control federal government. He also mentioned state nullification as a way to deal with unconstitutional laws passed by the federal government. The emphasis on state sovereignty is the way to keep the movement effective and peaceful. (He does advocates only peaceful solutions, not violence.)

With respect to the Second Amendment and the militia, he put on a clip of The Patriot, with Mel Gibson. (He recommends Front Sight in Nevada and Dr. Piazza's know-how instruction. The sheriff took his family there, so that everyone in the family knows how to handle a firearm. Shooting is now a family event.)

Arizona and illegal immigration were also brought up briefly. Apparently Sheriff Mack is a supporter of Sheriff Arpaio. Everyone celebrated the fact that no ccw permit is needed in Arizona.

(What is the relation of a state police with the sheriff? I suppose who is the CLEO is determined by law.)

Next: the scene in The Rosa Parks Story when Rosa Parks declines to move to the back of the bus. Sheriff Mack: enforcement of stupid laws is tyranny. Would you rather be the one enforcing a stupid law, or protecting the one resisting an unjust law?

In a Republic citizens want to be left alone by their government. The Tea Party people do not want a national id or Obamacare, and Sheriff Mack wants electeds official or (C)LEOs who keep oaths, serve and protect, and defy tyranny if necessary.

(An example of tyranny--the English enforcing prima nocta in Braveheart.)

Mack pointed out that Reagan did not do anything to abolish the federal tax system. What would happen if the sheriffs did not allow IRS agents access to citizens? It was claimed that the federal government is a threat to constitutional liberty. To whom do you turn for protection from the federal government, for protection of your rights? Politicians take liberty away in order to hold on to their jobs. He cited Alan Keyes, who said the only difference between the slavery before the Civil War and slavery as it exists now is that the plantation owners at least paid for the chains.

Then he continued with a discussion of his landmark lawsuit. In the Justice Scalia's opinion, the dual sovereignty of the Constitution is reasserted. He did not explain concurrent jurisdiction in detail, but the federal government is limited to enumerated powers (I. art. 8), while the states have their own sphere of jurisdiction. The Bill of Rights protects state sovereignty with the Tenth Amendment. Who ensures state sovereignty?

Then he played another clip from Gettysburg, to my surprise, in which the Confederates talk about states' rights and state sovereignty with the British officer who had been sent to observe.
Sheriff Mack explicitly noted that his presentation shows the arguments of both sides, as they are depicted in Gettysburg.

(Can there be dual sovereignty, even in a Federal system? Does respect for the Constitution fall under the duty to respect for positive law? At this point I was thinking of those Catholic statists who would run roughshod over Constitution in the name of natural rights and natural law.)

Members of the Tea Party movement and 10th Amendment activists would have you believe that the destruction of the old constitutional order is not a fait accompli yet.

Sherrif Mack told us that even after the decision, Attorney General Janet Reno sent a memo to all sheriffs telling them to ignore the decision. He closed with another clip from Braveheart, in which Robert the Bruce tells his father, "I will never be on the wrong side again."

Again, he stated that the solution to our political ills is the reclaiming of state sovereignty.

He closed with "America's political prayer," the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. This also seemed to me to be excessive. Does it reflect a naive understanding among Tea Party patriots and conservatives?

Just as there is a pocket edition of the Constitution available, so a pocket-sized abridged edition of the SCOTUS decision will soon be available.

Mack and Printz v. United States
Cornell University Law School

Related websites:
Freedom Law School
Whatever Happened to Justice?

Post initiated on May 15.

Counter-Reformation necessity or excess?


As I was sorting my things, I came across an old issue of Catholic Family News from 2006, which had a profile on the Transalpine Redemptorists (who were restored to full communion with the Pope after the issuance of Summorum Pontificum and are now called the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer). John Vennari interviewed Fr. Michael Mary, founder and superior of the Transalpine Redemptorists. I found this part of the interview rather striking:

JV: Please tell us about the Redemptorist charism in general, the work of your group in particular.

FMM: The Redemptorist charism has come down to us from St. Alphonsus as being "Carthusian at Home and Apostle Abroad". This means that as the Carthusian hermit loves solitude so the Redemptorist when he is at home loves the solitude of his cell and spends his time in prayer and spiritual exercises. This is the interior vocation of the Redemptorist. In the Redemptorist monastic life there is an emphasis on Mental Prayer. It is a "desert monastery" compared to the "chanting monastery" of orders like the Benedictines. We do not have daily sung Mass and we are forbidden by the Rule from chanting the Divine Office. This is because the emphasis is on the solitude of the cell and mental prayer. In this way St. Alphonsus founded a monastic life that his contemporaries described as being like the monastic life of the first monks in Egypt. But having said that, there is also the other wing of the Redemptorist. He is to be an "Apostle Abroad" so this aspect of the missionary is also found inside the monastery in the close knit community life which the Redemptorist leads at home. There are recreation days every Thursday when there is talking at table and two one-hour recreations every day after dinner and supper.

As missionaries, the Redemptorist is particularly called to preach the "Eternal Truths," Death, Judgment, Hell and Eternity in the Parish Mission apostolate. We have preached Missions in several countries including the United States. They have been very fruitful. At the moment we are preparing to found a second monastery in South Africa. This is taking place this month. Two Priests and two Brothers are being sent. However, our main focus will be monastic formation for some years to come, which means that our future apostolic action will come from our South African house and Papa Stronsay will form postulants and novices.
[I think the plans for a house South Africa fell through, and instead they founded one in New Zealand.]
The complete interview.

I have no reason to think that their spirituality is that different from that of the Redemptorists.
It reminded me of the Jesuits; I am not sure if singing in choir is prohibited to Jesuits, or if they are only not required to attend the common praying of hours. The Jesuits were released from this obligation so that they could be free to do their apostolic works. In contrast, it seems that the Redemptorists are enabled to pursue solitary contemplative union with God. This development, as exemplified by the Redemptorists, seems to be very different from the liturgical emphases given by the Western and Eastern monastic traditions--daily sung liturgy, praying of the office in common, and so on. there is no longer the "balance" between common liturgical prayer and private prayer that one sees in monasteries. Was this difference in priority due primarily to contemporary currents in spirituality? I think it is accurate to say that Counter-Reformation/Post-Tridentine spirituality (with roots in devotio moderna?) focus on meditation, spiritual exercises, and private prayer. How much time can be spent on private prayer by beginners?

Before the development of monasticism there were hermits who did not live in community or with other hermits. But they were rare? Would it be proper to characterize the spirituality of the early Church as liturgical? In defense of modern spirituality, one might argue that there are a plurality of Catholic Christian spiritualities, all inspired by the Holy Spirit, and that no one way is correct for everyone, even the praying of the liturgy in community is not necessary for growth in the spiritual life. But is liturgical spirituality an ideal recommended to all, or for only some?

Currently the Transalpine Redemptorists have their seminarians study at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary.

This link isn't working?
Redemptorists of North America

Begun on May 22.


Gareth Porter, Reaffirming Afghanistan's Al Capone

Mike Whitney, Slash-and-Burn Economics: Merkel's Savage Blitz Through Euroland

Randall Amster, Take a Hike: Misconceptions and Machinations in Iran

Michael Hudson, The Chicago Boys' Free Market Theology

Dave Lindorff, BP and the Audacity of Greed

Alan Farago, Stage Managing a Catastrophe in the Gulf

Photos: Patriarchs Bartholomew and Kirill

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill (front R) and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (front L) walk during a ceremony in central Moscow on May 24, 2010, while celebrating the Holiday of St. Cyril and Methodius, the creators of Cyrillic alphabet and symbols of Slav culture. (Getty/Daylife)

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, right, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, left, and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill tour the Kremlin during a meeting in Moscow, Tuesday, May 25, 2010. (AP/Daylife)

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, left, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, right, and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, center in background, tour the Kremlin in Moscow, Tuesday, May 25, 2010. (AP/Daylife)

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (C) Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I (R) and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill (L) stand on the roof of a building at the Kremlin in Moscow on May 25, 2010. Patriarch Bartholomew I is on a visit to Moscow expected to last several days. (Getty/Daylife)

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, center, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, left, and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, right, tour the Kremlin in Moscow, Tuesday, May 25, 2010. (AP/Daylife)

And in America, a photoessay on Kintsvisi monastery. What does the editor of America think of Orthodox teaching, though?

Photos: Benedict XVI, Feast of Pentecost

Pope Benedict XVI sprinkles holy water during the Pentecost Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on May 23, 2010. (Getty/Daylife)

Pope Benedict XVI looks on as he leads the Pentecostal mass in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican May 23, 2010. (Reuters/Daylife)

Pope Benedict XVI celebrates the Pentecost Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on May 23, 2010. (Getty/Daylife)

Pope Benedict XVI leaves St. Peter's Basilica at the end of the Pentecost Mass at the Vatican on May 23, 2010. (Getty/Daylife)

Pope Benedict XVI waves as the end of the Pentecostal mass in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican May 23, 2010.

Something from yesterday - what a beautiful icon:

Pope Benedict XVI looks at a painting presented by Moldova's interim President Mihai Ghimpu (L) during a private visit at the Vatican May 24, 2010. (Reuters/Daylife)
Thomas Fleming, Rand Paul: Unprincipled Hero

Monday, May 24, 2010

Zenit: Papal Addresses on Feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius
"Celestial Patrons of ... the Whole of Europe"

Pope's Words to Centesimus Annus Foundation
"The Common Good Is the End That Gives Meaning to Progress"

Pope's Pentecost Homily
"A Flame ... That, in Burning, Brings Forth the Better and Truer Part of Man"

On Many Pentecosts
The Church "Lives Constantly From the Effusion of the Holy Spirit"

Liberals missing the point?

I caught a part of an episode of PBS's Need to Know while waiting for the Jimmy Kimmel Lost special to come on. (A special Q&A with the actors who were present tonight should be available at Hulu.) Some researcher in neural development was talking about adolescent brain development, and how this should be studied more so that more "fair punishments" can be determined for adolescents. While it is the case that adolescents do not look at the long-term consequences of their actions, etc. as well as adults, this is due to the lack of formation. The first mistake is to think that this is a result of brain's structure (rather than being a cause of the brain's maturation as an organ). The second mistake is to look solely at the maturity of practical reasoning (and by extension, the agent's intention) as the standard for determining what is a just punishment. Adolescents may still be learning how to exercise practical reasoning, but the importance of the first precept of the moral life, which is proper to the virtue of obedience, has not been lost. Even if they are still learning how to determine means and ends and cannot do this well yet, they can still obey the law. They are properly punished for disobedience. It is the mistake of liberals who subscribe to an exaggerated notion of autonomy to think that the only law that is valid for the individual (and the basis by which their actions are judged) is determined by the individual himself. Because of this notion of autonomy, obedience as a virtue is denigrated or even criticized for being a handicap to moral development.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I just finished watching the series finale for Lost; I remarked elsewhere that it was funny that it was being shown on the Feast of the Pentecost. Why? Because it is Hollywood's version of religion--"do good, feel good." I'll attempt to expand on this later.

Two Angry Moms

Jamie Oliver wasn't the first.

Website. Companion site.

Better School Food.
BBC: 'Historic' day as first non-Latin web addresses go live (via EB)

Chants for Pentecost