Saturday, November 01, 2003

Points to Ponder:

You can get a large audience together for a strip-tease act — that is, to watch a girl undress on the stage. Now suppose you came to a country where you could fill a theatre by simply bringing a covered plate on to the stage and then slowly lifting the cover so as to let everyone see, just before the lights went out, that it contained a mutton chop or a bit of bacon, would you not think that in that country something had gone wrong with the appetite for food? And would not anyone who had grown up in a different world think there was something equally queer about the state of the sex instinct among us?" [CS Lewis via The Curmudgeon (10/28/03)]

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Holy Souls Registration:

Continuing a weblog tradition started last year, I have registered names for the Purgatory Project. Here is the list in the order of (i) father's side (ii) mother's side (iii) current and former parish communities (iv) other:

Richard Dunn McElhinney f
James Dunn McElhinney u
T. Mildred McElhinney gm
Paul Dowd McElhinney gf
McElhinney fam
Dunn fam
Flynn fam
McCann fam
Mark Usher sgf
Virginia Usher sgm
Usher sfam
Hellstrom sfam
Leta M. Allen sa


David Kanski u
Mary H. Kanski gm
Harry Kanski gf
Harold Kanski u
Kanski fam
Haluk fam
Duma fam
Rogowski fam
Denny fam
Omafrey fam
Ripplinger fam
Spence fam
Mel Clark sgf
Jane Clark sgm
Clark fam


James Jenner OP p
Joseph Fulton OP p
Blessed Sacrament Parish/Dom. Priory
Corpus Christi


Roy Sabin acq
Anne Sabin acq
Jeff Cox cl
Rasmussen ext-fam
Tull ext-fam
Anselmo ext-fam
St. Blogs ext-fam
Mike Mentzer t
Mentzer tfam
Cipriani ffam
O'Grady ffam
Bannon ffam


The link to the Purgatory Project can be found HERE and I encourage all my readers to check it out and register the names of family and friends.

Eternal rest grant unto their souls O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and all the souls of the faithfully departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen

The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain: But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found [me]. The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord on that day (2 Tim i,18).

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And Now A Public Service Announcement:
(For the Soldiers in Iraq)

Would you like to send a care package to Any Soldier in Iraq, but have no idea of what to send, who to send it to, or how to send it?

Sergeant Brian Horn from LaPlata, Maryland, is an Army Infantry Soldier with the 173rd Airborne Brigade in the Kirkuk area of Iraq who has a reputation for taking care of his soldiers. He has agreed to distribute the contents of any packages that come to him addressed "Attn: Any Soldier" to the soldiers who are not getting mail. This works! Your packages get to real soldiers that need and appreciate your support!

Why you should send your support (and stuff):

You may have seen the pictures of soldiers swimming in palace pools, relaxing in fancy chairs in a gold covered room. Look pretty good. Now you know where the reporters hang out. However, we recently learned about the conditions our soldiers in the 173rd are under. They are fed ONCE a day, often a 'hot' meal. MREs are distributed, but -693741 days of MREs is far too much for anybody. Water is only given in 1/2 ration. These soldiers almost never sleep on a cot, let alone in a building. Sleep is for minutes at a time. Brian got his first full nights sleep in over 100 days. He was not complaining about this, I am. These guys are hungry and tired, with no change in the forecast. These soldiers are not living in palaces, most don't have electricty. They refer to themselves as "RPG magnets". THE WAR IS NOT OVER FOR THEM. How Wrong is THIS?!

This does work:
From a letter by Sergeant Brian Horn, dated 4 September 2003:

"Hey Dad,
I got the first "Any Soldier" package yesterday from someone in Pennsylvania. I gave it to a "PFC (name withheld)", who rarely gets mail. Pretty big package... Thats just too damn cool, what you've done for these guys. Almost brings tears to one's eyes, to see that kid's face yesterday." (More success stories here.)


Be assured that this is no scam. We send Brian lots of stuff and are not asking you to. This is a way to help the soldiers that don't get the support that Brian does. We can't insure you will know who gets your package, Brian can only ask the soldier to write back to you, but certainly can't require it. If you have any concerns, questions, or suggestions, please email me. I am Marty, a retired Army MP, Brian's father...I answer every email and will get back to you quickly...

For more, including a list of possible stuff to send, please click HERE.


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Terri Schiavo Update:

Courtesy of Fr. Rob Johansen's Thrown Back BLOG

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Friday, October 31, 2003

Miscellaneous Mutterings:
(Friday morning pre-chai musings of your greying and galled host at Rerum Novarum)

[Update: The summary of this post has been expanded slightly and refined a bit. The introductory paragraph was adjusted slightly as well and the footnotes were renumbered as a new one was inserted into the text with two additional ones added in the summary section - ISM 4:40 pm (10/31/03)]

We hear a lot of voices out there advocating that the television set should be "killed" or some other equivalent. I cannot say that I agree with this sentiment completely -for I am unaware how I would see almost all the baseball games I see without the TV.{1} But that is neither here nor there.

Frankly my friends, I was all set to rant and rave about the CBS abomination injustice but the energy to do so at the moment is lacking. And besides, there are numerous others out there who rant a lot better than I do. Therefore, as it is generally Our wont to let them rant while We at Rerum Novarum seek to provide actual solutions,{2} that is what will be done in this post.

The summary of the boycott can be read HERE. If you have not killed your TV and if you *must* watch the schlep so often served on the screen, at least avoid CBS for a month. I for one do not watch them except occasionally for local news but that feature is out as there are other stations for that occasional update.{3} But this smearing of President Ronald Reagan is beyond reprehensible.

Since almost all the words I have in mind to describe CBS are not suitable for blogging -either in whole or with cleverly inserted astrisks- it would not be to anyone's benefit to read them. For that reason, I will digress on related themes instead in this post. Readers who like to live in fantasyland and focus on ancillary issues can feel free to tune in somewhere else for the duration of this post. I am sure to say something to annoy everyone but oh well.

If I made a short list of the ten most influential minds on my own intellectual cultivation, President Reagan would be if not on that list than a definite "honourable mention." I touch on this a bit HERE and outline the brilliance of this man's foreign policy HERE among other areas.{4} But perhaps the best way to understand why modern Republicans are not Republicans in the true sense of that term -and further, why I am not and for some time have not been a supporter of the Republican Party in any capacity- is to consider how their leaders view their own party today.

The following discussion between Rush Limbaugh and Ed Gillespie is instructive for one key reason: the Chairman of the Republican National Committee is absolutely clueless about the principles of limited government!!! Limbaugh granted could be more consistent on this subject than he is, but when the head of the RNC quite clearly has no idea what "limited government" is, that is not a minor bagatelle folks. Let me clarify if for you.

Limited government is not [reducing] the size of the increase, as Gillespie claims. How can one claim to be for "limited government" by arguing that [w]hen Bill Clinton left office, he proposed his last budget was an increase of 15% in non-defense discretionary spending. President Bush came in, he brought it down to 6% in his first budget, down to 5% in his second. It is at 2% today, non-defense discretionary spending??? This is a mockery of the entire notion of limited government.

First of all, who cares what the President proposes. The role of setting a budget is that of the Congress. The problem is that the role of impounding funds -shared by every president from Nixon back to Washington- was abolished by President Nixon when he signed the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974. Since then, deficits have skyrocketed and an important check on Congressional excesses was cast aside.

This Act needs to be rescinded. The following article covers the subject in some detail -certainly better than the laughable Congressional article which tried to make the impounding sound like a novel notion of Nixon's.{5} But it was not. And while there were still deficits prior to 1974, the national deficits starting in 1975 increased at an exponential rate.{6}

What needs to be reasserted -and vigorously so- is the ignored principle of the Constitution (and not the only ignored principle of the Constitution) that [t]he powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. That is as good a place to start as any.

For those who are not aware, I just quoted the tenth amendment of the Constitution: an intended safeguard against exactly what we see today. All of these points circled in my mind today, triggered by the thought of the gutteral trash revisionism of the upcoming CBS miniseries on Ronald Reagan. What will CBS do next, an expose on how the moonlanding was a hoax??? How no Jews were killed in concentration camps in WW II??? How in Columbas' time, everyone thought the world was flat??? Gee, I can hardly wait...they will probably do one on Bill Clinton -the closest thing the White House has ever seen to the Abomination of Desolation- and portray him as a "great president."

You see my friends, all the prevarications about the "general welfare" clause of Article I Section VIII of the Constitution -used to justify the mountains of unconstitutional drivel that is in the federal budget- can be confuted by one reference to it by the Father of the Constitution himself -the man who was the primary drafter of the document- James Madison:

With respect to the two words 'general welfare,' I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators." [James Madison: On the "General Welfare" clause in the U.S. Constitution]

And so that my statement may be affirmed "on the word of two or three witnesses" (Deut. xix,15; Matt. xviii,16; 2 Cor. xiii,1; Heb. x,28; cf. John viii,17), I offer the testimony of Thomas Jefferson, another of the Founding Fathers who was not unfamiliar with the Constitution and its intentions:

"Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated."

The ignorance politicians have of the Constitution -while problematical of course- is nonetheless not as bad as the people who will vote for whomever enriches their interests irrespective of what the Constitution actually says.

To such people as this, I challenge them: find for me the Social Security recipient who would support outlawing Social Security.{7} Find for me the Medicare recipient who would support shutting down Medicare.{8} More could be mentioned but these are the two biggest sacred cows in politics that need to be skewered.

But do not think more could not be pointed out - indeed at least 75% of the budget is unconstitutional expenditures. The question I have for the readers is this: would you vote against your sacred cow to benefit the common good of society??? For some reason, I am not too optimistic that the "yes" votes on that question would be very high.

How many votes do you think a James Madison-type senatorial candidate would get if his campaign theme was something like this: 'Elect me to office. I will protect and defend the U.S. Constitution. Because there's no constitutional authority for Congress spending on the objects of benevolence, don't expect for me to vote for prescription drugs for the elderly, handouts to farmers and food stamps for the poor. Instead, I'll fight these and other unconstitutional congressional expenditures'? I'll tell you how many votes he'll get: It will be Williams' vote, and that's it." [Professor Walter E. Williams]

No no Walt, he would have my vote too. You and I and probably no one else in (i) St. Blogs (ii) the rest of the blogosphere, (iii) the rest of cyberspace, or (iv) the so-called "conservative" voters who claim to be of the mould of Reagan or Goldwater. I would love to be disproved on this notion -or told differently by people who would honestly tell me that they would join us- but frankly I am not too optimistic about seeing it. There is lots of griping but no acceptance of the medicine that will cure this nation. And until it is accepted, things will continue to worsen until we do go the way of ancient Rome - God knows we are already quite a ways in that direction already.

The needed medicine that will cure this nation is moral and fiscal ressourcement. The problem is, most so-called "conservatives" preach the moral angle reasonably well but fail in the area of fiscal reformation.{9} Others preach the fiscal reformation angle excellently but delude themselves into thinking that there is no role for God in society or -if they do not reject His role- try to put it separate from the government in ways that the Founders did not envision.{10}

An American faithful to the founding documents of this nation -and the principles on which they were based- must embrace both parts and not partition them. Otherwise they at best promote an inauthentic vision for setting this country back on course as a truly great nation. And that is the bottom line really.

"All laws which are repugnant to the Constitution are null and void" (Marbury v. Madison).

Notes:

{1} Or since 1999, all the games I have seen of baseball -even here in Sheattle.

{2} Rather than facile "fixes" or pious and well-intentioned (but ultimately unworkable and overly idealistic) fictions.

{3} And my main radio station KTTH keeps me well updated on that anyway.

{4} For those who wondered who was right about George W. Bush as "another Reagan" the very reputable CATO Institute has weighed in on this subject and...well...you can read the results for yourself HERE with Adobe Acrobat. The first view ("Reagan II") is linked to W's name, the second (not "Reagan II") is linked to Reagan's name.

{5} Even though the author of that article was naive in thinking that the effects of the Act were "winding down" in 1999. With regards to the absurd Congressional summary, it should not surprise anyone with a normal intact functioning brain that Congress has never liked the idea of the executive impounding funds. Hence, the Congressional site tries to defend the Impounding Act by claiming that impounding funds was to counter the "evils" of Nixon for "daring" to do what his predecessors had done -all the while revising history to claim that Nixon was the one in the wrong here.

Since, they do not have the common decency to avoid insulting my intelligence -or the intelligence of my readers- I will not do the site the courtesy of linking to their revisionist drivel.

Of course with a lot of brainwashed people, any measure can be seen as "evil" simply by attaching Nixon's name to it -regardless of the relative worth of the individual proposal. (And the Impound Act was and is worthless.) It is akin to a form of reductionem ad Hitlerum except with Nixon in the role as "Big Evil" instead of Hitler.

{6} The 1975 deficit was about 875% higher than the one in 1974. And there have been individual years which have run higher deficits than the entire federal debt in the early 1970's was.

{7} I am not a heartless monster and recognize that those who bought into this scam are owed monies from the federal government. However, these monies should be refunded to the person with the option of investing them as they see fit. (Or held in trust by their company to be allocated to the person every year earmarked for investment purposes.)

Even a conservative mutual fund strategy garnering say 5% is heads and shoulders above Social Security which pays no interest at all. And if my knowledge of compounding is correct -and I will humbly accept correction on this point if I am incorrect- compounding at 5% would double every thirteen years, at 7% every ten years. (And that is base mind you, excluding frequent additions to the principal sum by the individual.)

{8} Again, there are ways of dealing with this in the private sector through private associations and the inculcating of authentic charity at the state and local levels.

{9} For the sake of not contributing to greater schisms in the culture wars, I will omit mentioning any names on this score and leave the comment for pondering by readers of this weblog who are of goodwill.

{10} This is of course the Libertarians who get right what the social conservatives get wrong but get wrong what the social conservatives generally do pretty well on.

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Points to Ponder:
(Please read in light of this for the best effect -ISM)

When so-called "Christian extremists" advocate for family rights, urging things as such paternal consent or parental notification for abortions, people in the same camp as Andrew Sullivan and his benighted reader go into Dudgeon Mode and rant about the "patriarchy" regarding women as "chattel." But when the Culture of Death stands to gain a victory, it's suddenly okay for a wife to become a disposable item. The "Christian extremist" position is consistent --families are to be independent from interference unless a higher law is being violated, and the higher law is formed by the fundamental tenets of Christianity in which, as Mr. Sullivan "guesses," respect for human life does indeed trump a man's desire to starve his wife to death. The left's worldview, however, depends on a total vindication of individual autonomy. That puts liberals in a bind when the individual can't clearly express an autonomous decision; someone has to make the choice, but the left's own ethical framework prohibits anyone from making significant moral choices for others. As the left never tires of telling us when it comes to abortion, homosexuality, or any related matter, "it's Terri's body" and no one has the right to force her to do or not do something with it. Without the integrated framework of Christian moral teaching and its complex but workable balance of human liberty and immutable moral claims, Mr. Sullivan and his reader are left with no other option but to declare Michael Schiavo a paterfamilias with the attendant rights to kill members of his family. This is the thing to notice about liberalism -- its atavistic impulse to return to the worst stages of the social order it pretends to criticize. [Secret AgentMan (c. 10/30/03)]

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Thursday, October 30, 2003

Developing a Consistent Principle of Argumentation:
(An Exhortation to Readers of Rerum Novarum)

Readers of this humble weblog are not unaware of my recent defense of the three fundamental rights of man against the termites of modern "enlightened" outlooks. (The term in quotes being used in true Doublespeak fashion by the modern compassion fascists.) Likewise regular readers are not unaware that I tied into this argument the defense of Terri Schiavo that it contained by logical extension. However, there is another thread that needs to be dealt with here which I will touch on briefly.

If the reader notices, I tied the principles of religious freedom and liberty of conscience into the same matrix in the above threads. This was done deliberately because all three fundamental rights of man come from the same source and involve the same responsibilities. And in the case of Terri Schiavo, not only her right to life was being threatened but also her religious freedom.

The ramifications of the latter threat from a canonical standpoint are discussed by my friend Pete Vere at this link courtesy of Catholic Light. Hence my instinct to tie these threads together in my defense of Jeff Culbreath's right to property was correct.

Hopefully my readers will now realize that all three fundamental rights of man must be defended as a unit or else they all fall. And hopefully my explicit exhortations{1} in developing a consistent philosophical ethic to combat these evils over the past year -and implicit in the year plus preceding it- will finally start gaining some traction in the blogosphere.

All of the hair-pulling, all of the ranting about violations in these areas have to be addressed systematically my friends and from the same core premises. This will require learning a new hermeneutic of argumentation to some extent but if we want to actually win this culture war -and not merely receive constant "stays of execution"- it is something that all of us who care about these issues must learn to do.

Note:

{1} For more on this subject, see this link.

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Threads on Rights, Free Speech, and Development of a Consistent Line of Argumentation for Making Progress in the Culture Wars:
(A Rerum Novarum Recapitulation Thread)

To precede the next post I will add to this weblog, the following is a list of some of the threads on this weblog from newest to oldest.{1} The ones with stars are in my weblog archive but not posted to my side margin of links. The ones with number signs are too new for such classification at this time.

The intention in part of doing this is to point to the trackrecord of consistency on the part of your weblog host. But there are other reasons for this which will hopefully soon become apparent.{2}

#Terri Schiavo Situation (And Another Pitch for Consistent Principles)

#Clarification of Traditional Moral Principles Post

#Traditional Moral Principles

On the Underlying Weltanschauung of "Language Control"

A Few Notes On Dignitatis Humanae

"Lie to Me" Dept.

The Framers Know Best

On "Rights" and "Free Speech" (Parts I-II)

On Supreme Court "Constructionists, Whores, and Termites"

*The Definition of a "Conservative" (A Rerum Novarum Miscellaneous BLOG Post)

*On Broadbrush Statements Viz "Liberalism is a Sin"

Why Bush is not "Reagan II" (Parts I-III)

*Clarification on State's Rights

*Weighing in on Senator Trent Lott's Comments

*A Walt Williams Quadruple Slam

My Kingdom for a Viable Third Party

Analysis of the Overall Election Trends

"Election Aids for Proper Voting" Dept.

Claude Frederic Bastiat's Magnum Opus The Law in Bite-Size Musings (Prologue by I. Shawn McElhinney; Introduction by Walter E. Williams)

*See I Told You So

Notes:

{1} The link to the series on The Law was a multipart series that ran from September 2002-March 2003.

{2} See this link for details.

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"Cohiba Ergo Sum" Dept.
(A Rerum Novarum Triple Slam)

Though not only discussing the Terri Schiavo subject on his weblog, these links on the latter subject are well worth a read:

On Schiavo's 1992 Malpractice Trial

On the Larry King appearance

More on Michael's "Care" for Terri since 1991

To sum it up in a sentence: the Curmudgeon is onto Schiavo like a bulldog on a meat-covered soupbone :)

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Monday, October 27, 2003

Boycott Michael Schiavo!!!

As I noted yesterday, he will be starting a media rehabilitation tour. Tonight he will be on Larry King Live. I exhort my readers to not watch that show{1} or any other show that Schiavo is on. If you simply *must* have information on it -either as an addict to pop culture or whatever- please get your information from tomorrow's newspapers or from the web or in some way that your interest cannot be easily tracked. If ratings with him on shows go down significantly, the shows will hesitate to book him. The man does not deserve our sympathy nor our attention. He deserves a thrashing if anything but as there but for God's grace would we go, let us pray for him instead and not support his media rehabilitation on iota.

More on Terri Schiavo (via Disturber of the Peace BLOG)

Note:

{1} Of course *never* watching Larry King Live is also a laudable goal if you can do it.

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On Tridentine Indult Rumours:

Recent Comments (via El Camino Real)

Other bits on the subject by your humble servant (from about five months ago) can be read HERE.

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Sunday, October 26, 2003

Points to Ponder:

Many, even in Christian circles, think that Christianity strives above all in order to make the world better. But the end of Christianity is not to make a better world, by which I mean the material changing world. The world of the supernatural order escapes the wear and tear of time. Sometimes one imagines that the order of grace is in some way a marginal structure. This would seem a messianic naturalism. But you will see that the more materialistic aspirations approach their realization, the less they satisfy the essential needs of life.

Further, I would say that Catholics should not give way to the temptation to raise questions about everything connected with the Council, for this corresponds to the great contemporary temptation which is noticeable everywhere now: to start from the beginning.

In the spiritual life, as one ascends higher, the soul as it climbs upward goes through a period of disarray. It sees the old synthesis which it has criticized, which it had to undo, to take apart; it does not yet see the superior synthesis to which it must attain.

In every growth, in every mutation upward, everytime, as St. Paul said, when one is stripped of one's habitual garment in order to be clothed anew, there is a moment of nakedness, of disarray--which an ill wind makes use of, in which the devil insinuates himself. This undoing is in itself a good. It is the undoing of something growing. If the rosebud were to see itself in the spring, would it not feel that it was undone when it was about to flower? [Pope Paul VI: Dialogues of Paul VI with Jean Guitton from the chapter titled Dialogue on the Mystery of the Council pg. 231 (c. 1966)]



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The Terri Schiavo Situation:
(And Another Pitch for Consistent Principles)

To some extent I am mentioning this after the fact but Fr. Rob Johansen of Thrown Back along with my good friend Pete Vere have been on the front lines in this battle. Fr. Rob came in from Kalamazoo, Michigan to assist the retired Monsignor Malanowski who was there round the clock in ministering to Terri and the family for some time. Fr. Rob's take on this situation can be surmized in the sequence of posts on his blog.

I was updated last night by Pete via the telephone on the matter. Without going into specifics, I simply want to note here that all of those who have been involved in this deserve our prayers and support. There were many Evangelicals there as well as attorney Christopher Ferrara. This is what true ecumenism in the trenches can accomplish. Please pray for Terri and her family but also for these noble people mentioned above.

Do not feel as if you cannot pray now; after all, we are the ones who are time bound not God. To Him everything has already happened; ergo your prayers today could be a part of the successful (thus far) campaign on behalf of Terri yesterday.

Oh and lest I forget to mention it, according to Fr. Rob Michael Schiavo is going to be making the rounds of the national press during the next week. Not only should you avoid any show he is on but encourage everyone you speak to on this matter to avoid them as well. It is sad that ratings are what drive these people the most but that is the way it is so hit them where they will hurt. And never NEVER forget what Michael Schiavo has sought to do here. Until he repents as publicly as he has pushed his evils publicly, may this unconscionable individual have a long and painful purgatory.

It is to be hoped that this debate will reopen the subject of judicial review - a matter mentioned recently by Michael Graham at The Corner (excerpted by Lane Core Jr of Blog From the Core here), Lane himself, as well as Greg Krehbiel. For those who wondered why I approached the subject of Jeff Culbreath's business and property a while back as I did in discussing the subject of Traditional Moral Principles and the clarifying followup post, you now have your reason.

I did not explicitly have the Terri Schiavo situation in mind; however note if you will that the defense of Jeff with altering a few particulars also functions as a defense of Terri. The latter was serendipitous by my own admission but a grounded logic on these matters is easily adaptable to other situations where fundamental rights are violated. In Jeff's case, the fundamental right was to property or production. With Terri Schiavo, the fundamental right was the right to life.

This is why I have focused in the past year on fundamental rights and grounding them in a consistent rationale. If we are to turn the tide on the culture wars, it will be by a strong and consistent rationale as well as the kind of heroic front line stances taken by those in the Shiavo and Culbreath situations.

Also, lest I forget The Mighty One was en fuego the past week and a half on this subject and others of a related nature. (Such as partial birth abortion.) Mark Shea and Christopher Blosser also deserve props for keeping things updated on the Schiavo front. (As does the Curmudgeon of Disturbing the Peace blogspot.) If I forgot to acknowledge anyone, I assure you it was not intentional.

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More on the Unrevoked Covenant:

The following is one of a few email responses I received in response to the previous post on the unrevoked covenant.

I was glad to see your post on the Old Covenant. It's something I've been thinking about for a few weeks now.

It has been in the back of my mind for quite some time as well. Every once in a while I post something to prod myself to finish the thread started last year on my private developmental weblog on this subject. The problem perhaps is that I have approached it in those drafts in a rather complicated manner and to develop that theme further involves to some extent breaking new ground.

I am not opposed to breaking new ground of course -as I do it all the time to some extent- but in this case it is with premises that have not been tested in the crucible of the public arena as so much of what I go over in essays and weblog entries has. (Plus it is not one of my stronger suits admittedly.) So I am rather cautious in how I approach it throwing out bits here and there to test the water. The last entry was the most significant installment this year in that regard -surpassing even my discussion with Christopher Blosser from late June where the most significant contribution of 2003 on my part to the subject prior to yesterday's blog was undertaken.

It seems to me that, in a sense, the Old Covenant has not been revoked, and in a sense, it has.

This sounds akin to the notion that salvation is by grace alone (cf. Ephesians ii,8-9) and yet is contingent on our acceptance of that grace as a dynamic principle within us to fulfil the work that God has ordained for us to do (cf. Ephesians ii,10). In short, a classic religious paradox.

In the sense of the "Old Covenant" as the various principles as revealed in the Hebrew scriptures, I think that, of course, these haven't been revoked. They are the foundation for the fuller revelation. And so, as they speak the truth--although not in its fullness--they can't be "revoked". They are profitable to all, because they were written for all, Jew and Gentile alike.

Correct.

But if we speak of the "Old Covenant" as a legal entity between God and Israel, I think we can say it has indeed been "revoked" (although that doesnt seem like the right word).

If one looks at this mathematically, the history books and parts of the Bible -which are scattered throughout- could be seen as basic math. From there, the Torah could be seen as basic math, the Prophets as algebra, the Wisdom literature as advanced algebra/trigonometry, and the New Testament as calculus and linear math.

I used this analogy in my essay on Christian unity and it corresponds to some extent with the analogy of concentric circles that Pope Paul VI used in his Encyclical Letter Ecclesiam Suam. Nonetheless, since the Bible itself never says that the Old Covenant was revoked, another manner of expression that affirms its reality without denigrating the New Covenant is needed.

I would suggest the term transcended as a workable term to describe what you are asserting. For just as higher math transcends but does not repudiate lower math, the New Covenant transcends without repudiating the Old Covenant. And both converge on Christ who is the Way, Truth, and Life.

What was the Old Covenant between God and Israel? It was the promise of a New and Eternal Covenant. Why was this necessary? Because the Old Covenant couldn't save anyone.

Precisely. This is why in my previous post I noted that [t]he reason concluding the Ancient Covenant was "merciful" was because Our Lord by entering into human history by His atoning sacrifice transformed the Ancient Covenant of rules into a new covenant of grace: a covenant that fulfills the Old but does not revoke it.

It could only point to Christ and salvation.

Well, there is also the fact that the Old Covenant sets forth the moral teachings based on the divine law - teachings which the New Covenant recognizes and affirms as the path to attaining eternal life.

God does not have two Covenants now in force, one with Israel and one with the Catholic Church. Israel is stuck in the Old Covenant, whereas God has already fulfilled his promise to them for a New Covenant.

I do not have the time to go over this at the moment but St. Paul's assertions that salvation was by faith not by works was not a new invention on his part. Instead, the OT itself envisioned a heartfelt observance of the Law, not empty ritualizing.

They are not now saved because they are Jews. Salvation is now given in the New and Eternal Covenant, through repentance, baptism, and life in the Body of Christ.

This postulates an unnecessary dichotomy in my view. For one thing, the OT emphasized the importance of keeping the law not merely externally but also internally. Here are a few examples:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates (Deut. vi,4-9).

Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord (Lev. xix,18).

The law of his God [is] in his heart; none of his steps shall slide (Psalm xxxvii,31).

I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law [is] within my heart (Psalm xl,8).

Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with [my] whole heart (Psalm cix,34).

My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments (Proverbs iii,1).

Receive, I pray thee, the law from his mouth, and lay up his words in thine heart (Job xxii,22).

Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart [is] my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings (Isaiah li,7).

Other examples could be noted but the above indicates the intention of the Law to be internalized: something that the Old Covenant had no power to aid people in doing. This is where the New Covenant comes into the picture: it internalizes the old. This was prophesied by Jeremiah:

Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people (Jeremiah xxxi,31-33).

And repentance was also the call made in the OT by God to his people as the prophet Ezekiel noted:

The word of the Lord came to me: "Son of man, speak to your people and say to them, If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from among them, and make him their watchman; and if he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people; then if any one who hears the sound of the trumpet does not take warning, and the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, and did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But if he had taken warning, he would have saved his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes, and takes any one of them; that man is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman's hand."So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, O wicked man, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way; he shall die in his iniquity, but you will have saved your life. "And you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, Thus have you said: 'Our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we waste away because of them; how then can we live?' Say to them, As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel? And you, son of man, say to your people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him when he transgresses; and as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall by it when he turns from his wickedness; and the righteous shall not be able to live by his righteousness when he sins. Though I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, yet if he trusts in his righteousness and commits iniquity, none of his righteous deeds shall be remembered; but in the iniquity that he has committed he shall die. Again, though I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' yet if he turns from his sin and does what is lawful and right, if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has taken by robbery, and walks in the statutes of life, committing no iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die. None of the sins that he has committed shall be remembered against him; he has done what is lawful and right, he shall surely live. "Yet your people say, 'The way of the Lord is not just'; when it is their own way that is not just. When the righteous turns from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, he shall die for it. And when the wicked turns from his wickedness, and does what is lawful and right, he shall live by it. Yet you say, 'The way of the Lord is not just.' O house of Israel, I will judge each of you according to his ways" (Ezekiel xxxiii,1-20).

Nor is that the only OT reference that indicated the value of repentance even in the OT:

I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord God. Repent, and turn [yourselves] from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin (Ezekiel xviii,30).

The days of our years [are] threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength [they be] fourscore years, yet [is] their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, [so is] thy wrath. So teach [us] to number our days, that we may apply [our] hearts unto wisdom. Return, O Lord, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants. O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad according to the days [wherein] thou hast afflicted us, [and] the years [wherein] we have seen evil. Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children (Psalm xc,10-16).

And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey. And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered [him] with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused [it] to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that [is] in their hands. Who can tell [if] God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did [it] not.

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. And he prayed unto the Lord, and said, I pray thee, O Lord, [was] not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou [art] a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. Therefore now, O Lord, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for [it is] better for me to die than to live. Then said the Lord, Doest thou well to be angry? So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city. And the Lord God prepared a gourd, and made [it] to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd. But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered. And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, [It is] better for me to die than to live. And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, [even] unto death. Then said the Lord, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and [also] much cattle? (Jonah iii-iv)

So while indeed salvation in the New Covenant is through repentance, baptism, and life of Christ, those in the Old Covenant who are repentant, seek to live in a manner that internalizes the Law, and are truly incapable of removing the obstacles to an explicit acceptance of Christ through the use of ordinary diligence, these are joined to Christ through the Church in a mysterious way that defies human reasoning. This is not salvation by any other source except through the grace of Christ.

Does this mean God has "rejected" his firstborn? Of course not. It has rejected him. (I'm speaking of Israel as a corporate entity, not each individual Jew who is now born into the Jewish religion). They are still the first called by God--called to the New and Eternal Covenant of the Catholic Church, which is the only hope of salvation.

Yes.

The Old Covenant which they adhere to is not salvific for them or for anyone--it is a covenant of death. Not because the principles are wrong or evil, but because of the nature of the Covenant.

This is true.

So I think when the Holy Father and others speak of the "Old Covenant" not being revoked, they are using very ambiguous language that might give others a false view of Catholic teaching.

This is certainly possible. But it also serves a valuable purpose by emphasizing a truth that for a long time was not only not acknowledged but even denied. And through this denial, many evils were perpetrated on the Jews. They were accused of deicide, using the blood of Christian babies in their matzoh, endorsing the rape of three year olds, and numerous other shameful lies. There was also massive forced conversions and coercions to baptism which then provided an excuse for breaking up of Jewish families. (After all, now the kids needed Christian guardians.) There were massacres in the Crusades and in other periods of Church history where the Jews were especially targeted. And there was an attitude of genuine contempt spanning many centuries which culminated in the horrors of the twentieth century.

Whatever the Vatican or anyone else wants to say, there is no denying that the evils of this century perpetrated by Nazi ideology built itself on the strains of Jewish hatred that were embedded in the Christian past. For these and other travesties, it does all of us well to reflect on the biblical teaching that was so often overlooked throughout history: the teaching of St. Paul in Romans 11 on the irrevocable nature of the Lord's call to the Jewish nation. God willing by meditating on this mystery, a greater understanding on our part of a heritage so often cast aside will build bridges to our Jewish brethren and hasten their recognition of the Messiah so often disfigured by the sins of members of the Church down through the centuries.

It makes others think that if God still has a Covenant in force with Israel, they have no need to convert--which would be true.

I would caution you to avoid using the term "convert" with the Jews. What is needed in their case is to come to recognize the Messiah whom their own sacred books prophesy about. One who advances from algebra to advanced algebra does not have to turn away from what they learned in algebra. They have to learn some new concepts of course but these are not foreign to basic algebra but instead are refinements of it. Likewise with the Jews in coming to recognize and accept their Messiah who remains veiled from them for our benefit that the Lord may show mercy to us and through His mercy to us the Jews may also receive mercy (cf. Romans xi,30-32).

God has a covenant with every man--the promise of a new and eternal covenant, which has been fulfilled.

Until Our Lord returns to judge the world, there are prophecies concerning the Messiah which remain unfulfilled.

This is what we need to, IMO, proclaim to Jews, rather than veiling in ambiguous lanuage about them being fine as they are--in a covenant of death, which, while it points to Christ and salvation, can do only that, point.

No one is saying that they are "fine where they are." What is emphasized in light of centuries of coercion against their consciences is a healthy respect on our part for their consciences. And by this respect of conscience, gaining their trust so that they are not so suspicious of us and are more readily predisposed to take a look at what we have to offer them. You cannot convince anyone of anything unless you can gain their trust. And as one of the characteristics of authentic charity is patience, in this light of the sordid past that our relationship with the Jews contains, the time to make any significant headway with them will in the long run be beneficial and not detrimental.

If they want Christ and salvation, they can find it only in the One, Holy Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Authentic invincible ignorance, of course, will be taken into account on the day of judgment.

Correct.

Do you think I'm misguided in my assessment?

I would say that macro speaking you are on target. Hopefully the points touched on in this response are of assistance on a few micro matters.

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