Saturday, January 10, 2004

The Secret One performs a tremendous service for all Catholics with his recent interaction with a statement on the pastoral treatment of homosexuals by a group of Chicago priests. You can read the texts at this link. Props to SAM whom I believe in the aforementioned post transcended his usual fine form significantly. (And those familiar with his work know that is saying a lot my friends.)

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On Apologetics Arguments and the Papacy:
(Rerum Novarum Responds to Societas Christiana)

Tim recently asked some good questions which at his invitation I decided to respond to. The latter response will be shorter by far than my previous two responses to Tim on papacy/history related themes.{1} His words will be in black font and my sources (if I use any) will be in darkblue font.

I have a question for non-polemically driven (i.e., non-apologist) Roman Catholics (especially Shawn M. and SecretAgentMan!!!):

Years ago some Catholics told me that it was historically demonstrable that "every heresy involves a magnification of one particular point of doctrine out of proportion to all the rest". Well, if that's a true maxim, then doesn't it hit the target those Catholics were aiming at--the ultra-rigid Reformed understanding of the Gospel --and the entire Roman Catholic concept of the Papacy?

This is an interesting question I must admit. Certainly there are erroneous understandings of the Catholic doctrine on the papacy in many quarters. Is it feasible that this assertion made by Tim's opponents of the past (whomever they were) recoils on their own profession much as it does the intended target of the assertion??? Sure, I can concur with that.

There is quite the possibility that the Catholic doctrine of the papacy -emphasized apart from coordinating doctrines- can lead to heretical outlooks. In fact, I *know* it can so I will not merely note that it is possible.

That is, RCs appear to magnify their peculiar doctrine of the Papacy out of all proportion to everything else.

The central doctrine of the Catholic faith is not the papacy and papal primacy. However, it is obviously among the primary doctrines. I believe that non-Catholics like Tim focus on the papacy more than other doctrines because it is perhaps the one doctrine that significantly differentiates Catholics from other Christian religions. Maybe that is why it appears to be emphasized more frequently than others.{2} But admittedly I am speculating here.

Doesn't this condemn them by the terms of that slogan?

It depends I suppose on how they situate the papacy within the matrix of Catholic doctrine. Too much of an emphasis on the papacy can detract from the authority of the college of bishops or from the authority of the diocesan bishop. And of course too much emphasis on the authority of the college of bishops can detract from the doctrine of the papacy.

And finally, too much emphasis on the authority on the diocesan bishop can detract from papal primacy much as too much emphasis on the papal primacy can essentially make the bishops vice-regents of the pope rather than bishops who govern their dioceses in communion with the pope but with ordinary power.{3} There is a balance in other words which must be maintained.

I mean, when I have some Catholics tell me that if they were to find out that the present RC concept of the Papacy's nature and role in the Church was not true, they might have to abandon Christianity altogether and become agnostics, am I supposed to believe that Catholics have all this really wonderful perspective on Christianity that Protestants don't have?

This depends. A lot of Catholics do not well separate the substance from the accidents (to use Aristotelian language) of the papacy. Nonetheless, they generally understand the concept of faith and it is by that prism that you need to view their comments. To quote from Cardinal Newman's sermon on Faith and Doubt:

[T]he Church does not allow her children to entertain any doubt of her teaching; and that, first of all, simply for this reason, because they are Catholics only while they have faith, and faith is incompatible with doubt. No one can be a Catholic without a simple faith, that what the Church declares in God's name, is God's word, and therefore true. A man must simply believe that the Church is the oracle of God; he must be as certain of her mission, as he is of the mission of the Apostles.

Now, would any one ever call him certain that the Apostles came from God, if after professing his certainty, he added, that perhaps he might have reason to doubt one day about their mission? Such an anticipation would be a real, though latent, doubt, betraying that he was not certain of it at present. A person who says, "I believe just at this moment, but perhaps I am excited without knowing it, and I cannot answer for myself, that I shall believe tomorrow," does not believe now. A man who says, "Perhaps I am in a kind of delusion, which will one day pass away from me, and leave me as I was before"; or "I believe as far as I can tell, but there may be arguments in the background which will change my view," such a man has not faith at all.

When, then, Protestants quarrel with us for saying that those who join us must give up all ideas of ever doubting the Church in time to come, they do nothing else but quarrel with us for insisting on the necessity of faith in her. Let them speak plainly; our offence is that of demanding faith in the Holy Catholic Church; it is this, and nothing else.

I must insist upon this: faith implies a confidence in a man's mind, that the thing believed is really true; but, if it is once true, it never can be false. If it is true that God became man, what is the meaning of my anticipating a time when perhaps I shall not believe that God became man? this is nothing short of anticipating a time when I shall disbelieve a truth. And if I bargain to be allowed in time to come not to believe, or to doubt, that God became man, I am but asking to be allowed to doubt or disbelieve what I hold to be an eternal truth. I do not see the privilege of such a permission at all, or the meaning of wishing to secure it:—if at present I have no doubt whatever about it, then I am but asking leave to fall into error; if at present I have doubts about it, then I do not believe it at present, that is, I have not faith.

But I cannot both really believe it now, and yet look forward to a time when perhaps I shall not believe it; to make provision for future doubt, is to doubt at present. It proves I am not in a fit state to become a Catholic now. I may love by halves, I may obey by halves; I cannot believe by halves: either I have faith, or I have it not. [Faith and Doubt (c. 1849)]

That is essentially what I pointed out in my last response to you Tim.{4} The Catholic who admits what you note is being honest with you - though I can see how from your perspective the notion probably seems strange.

Talk all day long about how it's the Papacy that guarantees all the important doctrines don't get messed up, but how is this any different from a radical SOLO Scriptura Protestant who convinces himself that there is no Church at all in the absence of exquisitely defined propositional understandings of justification and the ordo salutis?

Well, the difference is between the act of submitting to a living oracle, and to his written words essentially. One involves no appeal from the speaker and one leaves the final judgment with the reader. The solo scripturist makes the Bible subserviant to what they claim to see in it. The papacy or the concept of any pope other than the individual involves not only submitting to what you like or what you can see but even what you cannot see (and in some cases may not like).

So in short, there is quite a difference between the two though admittedly it is not a self-evident distinction pace what some Catholics may tell you.


{1} I refer here to my last response to Tim and the subsequent reasonably detailed response to certain declarations of Brian Tierney.

{2} And maybe the fact that the papacy is an area that Tim probably is focusing on more in the historical record than others also lends itself to this perception.

{3} Essentially this means that their power to govern their dioceses is not delegated to them but it is by virtue of their consecration. (Though the pope does have the authority to appoint or remove a bishop from governing a particular dioceses in the Church of course.)

{4} See footnote 1.

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On the Liturgy and Liturgical Reform:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

These musings were triggered by the most recent Points to Ponder installment at this weblog. (Courtesy of TCR.) With the exception of the use of political terms to explain theological distinctions, We at Rerum Novarum concur with those reflections. Wrangling -if there is to be any- needs to focus on the best means of implementating the actual reforms of Vatican II and its aftermath, not pretending that there can be a retreat into a fictitious past which never actually existed. And that is what a lot of Integrists (as Stephen calls them) or so-called "traditionalists" (as I call them) do.{1}

It is impossible to catalogue all of the elements that go into the respective weltanschauungs of so-called "progressivists" (who want to throw out the Church prior to 1958) and the so-called "traditionalists" (who want to throw out the Church since 1958) which are prevarications when one studies the records of history and the Church's theological patrimony.

I am reminded (in watching all of this) of the show Mr. Rogers' Neighbourhood which ran for about forty years on public television. One of its features was a place called The Land of Make Believe and when dealing with so-called "traditionalists" and so-called "progressivists" - each with their own agenda- that is basically what you are dealing with: fictions which do not stand the scrutiny of any reasonable study of theology (dogmatic or otherwise), history (church and liturgical), and other areas which could be noted as well.

Find for me the queen of the theological virtues (charity) or the highest of the non-theological virtues (obedience) in these outlooks. They are not to be found except as abstract concepts at best. And that is the problem they have which is most problematical: an inability to ground abstract concepts into workable solutions when the rubber really meets the road.

Watching the apologists for the aforementioned outlooks try to explain to me why a diamond really is a spade is too reminiscent of listening to the politicians in this election year talk. Part of the reason I put out a commentary on the intricacies of dialogue back in December was to do my part to facilitate true dialogue among Catholics in 2004.{2}

On another front, I will be releasing soon an essay{3} which addresses these "rehashing" problems from one of the two revisionist groups above. The readers can take that piece when it is made available as essentially me closing the book on those kinds of fruitless interactions in essay form and (with rare exceptions) in weblog form.

Does this mean that there is no room for talking about these things??? Of course not but I am tired of repeating myself and hearing the same canned crap in return from people who are not interested in actually thinking about these issues but instead are pre-programmed to react to them.

Like Stephen, I have seen nothing but liturgical improvements since I left the SSPX -sometimes significantly so. And in the current climate with the bishops out to show that they are loyal to Rome after the recent years of humiliation after humiliation (particularly in 2002 and its aftermath), I do not anticipate this trend changing one iota. If anything, liturgically it will accelerate in the direction it has gone in recent years.

That is why there is no reason as I see it for looking anywhere but ahead. And one does not look ahead or make viable contributions to the future by remaining stuck in the past -particularly the kinds of pseudo "past" that occupies the time of those who have little if any understanding of history, theology, or reality. But that is all I will say on that subject at this time though.


{1} To say nothing of those pseudo-"progressivists" (or "liberals" as they are commonly called) who in different ways utilize the same faulty presuppositions.

{2} And also between Catholics and non-Catholics by giving the former an understanding of the Catholic Church's principles which should guide the dialogue discipline properly utilized.

{3} Though my attendance at Blessed Sacrament in Seattle as my primary church since August of 2002 -a place which is a model for how all churches should celebrate liturgy- is no small part of this equation of course.

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Points to Ponder:
(From Stephen Hand at TCR)

About the Liturgy, Everything Has Pretty Much Been Said By Now

It is a rare day by now that I am sent anything that could by any stretch be considered new with respect to liturgy and its ongoing reform. And that is true whether one is speaking of opinion from the theological left or the right---to say nothing of the extreme right (the Integrists). Especially after Cardinal Ratzinger's Spirit of the Liturgy and the Holy Father's recently published Ecclesia De Eucharistia, all that can be said by way of balanced criticism of the Conciliar reform has virtually all been said. Now it is all mostly rehash.

It now only remains for the Church to further implement what it deems appropriate in terms of its ongoing reform of the reform. I have already, I'm glad to say, seen significant improvements in liturgy compared to four or five years ago, and certainly we can expect more to come, especially in light of so many good and balanced bishops who have been appointed by John Paul II.

Meanwhile, Catholics will always look to Jesus Christ Really Present in the Eucharist above all externals. This is our comfort in good times and bad: the "Who" of the liturgy is our consolation, even if hyper-critics can barely appreciate it because their spiritual eyes are out of focus. More and more endless discussions and debate by such hyper-critics will only become ever more redundant, if that is possible, if we do not trust the Church ---and the Promises of Christ to guide her--- to effect more and more of what the Holy Spirit intended in the liturgical reforms of Vatican II.

For my musings on this theme, go HERE.


Friday, January 09, 2004

Dialogue on the Death Penalty Redux:
(With Greg Mockeridge)

This is an addition to the previous dialogue on the death penalty with Greg Mockeridge which can be read HERE. Greg's words (and his notes) will be in black font. My previous words will be in blue font. My current comments (and notes) will be in regular font with any referenced sources in darkblue font.


Hi Greg:

I want to add a few things to our little dialogue on the death penalty.

Mi webloga su webloga.

And Our Lord Himself shied away from calling for it in cases where the Law interpreted in a rigorous manner would have called for it.

The rule of law is more than its letter--much more. Justice and mercy are interdependent. One cannot exist without the other. While Jesus does not abloish the law, He does forbid an eye-for-eye, tooth-for-tooth application of it. This is important to bear in mind especially when dealing with the death penalty.


And of course the idea that the Christians before Constantine were big time supporters of the death penalty (as per the claims of Scalia and Buchanan) is ludicrous to the extreme since this would have been suicidal on their part. But I expect such ahistorical outlooks from people who have frequent recourse to the "2000 years of Church history" moniker.

An acknowlegement of the state's right to defend society vis-a-vis the death penalty when needed doth not a pro-death penalty partisan make.

Correct. One can recognize a principle's validity in the abstract without being an advocate for its usage in reality.

My problem with Justice Scalia using the "2000 years of Church history" moniker is that he uses it against John Paul II's teaching in EV, which he doesn't have a sound grasp of in the first place. As to Buchanan, I have no first hand knowledge of anything he has said in this regard. But it doesn't surprise me that he would hold the same view, seeing as how Mr. Patrick J is radtrad in both his politics and religion.{1}

As one who was at one time quite the Buchanan supporter (in 1992 and 1996) I have a different view of him now. He tries to be a Catholic Ronald Reagan but he lacks the latters charisma and tact -though not Reagan's communication capabilities. He is essentially a dyspeptic version of a younger Barry Goldwater but without the latter's well-rounded classical conservatism. In short, I still like Pat in some areas but not in many of them anymore. But that is a subject for another time perhaps.

That is an excellent article.{3} As far as my own stances go, I am sure you have figured out that I am a supporter of states' rights.

Indeed it is an excellent article. I too am a supporter of state's rights insofar as it maintains fidelity to the "Laws of Nature and of Nature's God" that the Declaration of Independence cites as the foundation of our rights to independence. Ergo, the positive legal sanctioning of abortion, homosexuality, and contraception does not pass consititutional muster even at the state level viz. state's rights.

Remember Greg, you are talking to an advocate of Claude Frederic Bastiat here.{1} Not much more needs to be said by me than that really.

What many so-called state's rights strict constructionalists, including Scalia, who believe although they are personally opposed, that it does (I'm personally opposed but... Where have we heard that before?) don't seem to understand is that the Framers never intended the consititution to treated as though it were an isolated document.

Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that they intended it to be a living, growing blob ala Al Gore. But I am saying that the Constitution is subservient to the Declaration and must be interpreted accordingly. No accepted understanding of the natural law in the day of our founders would have allowed the legal sanctioning of such grave immorality. {2}

The Constitution sets forth in detail the framework of what the Declaration proclaims. And of course as Bastiat notes, the Law is not properly understood as the establisher of rights or morality but instead as their defender:

No society can exist unless the laws are respected to a certain degree. The safest way to make laws respected is to make them respectable. When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law. These two evils are of equal consequence, and it would be difficult for a person to choose between them.

The nature of law is to maintain justice. This is so much the case that, in the minds of the people, law and justice are one and the same thing. There is in all of us a strong disposition to believe that anything lawful is also legitimate. This belief is so widespread that many persons have erroneously held that things are "just" because law makes them so. [Claude Frederic Bastiat: The Law (c. 1850)]

And that is the foundational error of our day and age which undergirds so much of what we see viz. how law and morality are viewed.

With regards to Dr. George, if he has done as you claim then it is quite regrettable indeed.

Although he doesn't see it as a erroneous departure from traditional Catholic teaching, he seems to have the same understanding of it that Scalia does. On pg. 241 of his book The Clash of Orthodoxies (an excellent book BTW. One I highly recommend.), he states:

"Nevertheless, [the pope] has taught authoritatively that the circumstances in which the imposition of the death penalty could possibly be justified are today so rare as to be "practically non-existent."

I expect it from the media of course but it is sad to see an academic be this careless.

Well, in their defense encyclicals are often a mixed bag.

Indeed. As I pointed out in my previous message, one does have to do a bit of parsing to distinguish between the doctrinal imperatives and prudential opinions.

Magisterial texts can no more be read in a fundamentalist manner (and be properly understood) than the Scriptures can. I noted this a couple of times in my treatise from a few years ago -one example of which reads as follows:

Though noted earlier, it is worth reiterating anew: the inspired written Word of God is capable of being misinterpreted by men or "is as capable of as many interpretations as there are interpreters" (cf. St. Vincent of Lerens). Therefore, Catholics should not be so naive to presume that non-inspired Council documents or papal apostolic letters/encyclicals would be any different. It seems quite absurd to presume that the Bible has "some things that are hard to understand which the ignorant and the unstable wrest to their own destruction" (2 Pet. 3:16) while Magisterial documents would be free and easily accessible to be understood by anyone at face value apart from the times, circumstances, and assumptions under which they were written in. [I. Shawn McElhinney: A Prescription Against 'Traditionalism' Part XII (c. 2003, 2000)]

This problem of course plagues more people than simply those I was referring to in that writing.

But as I also pointed out, that due to the fact that Rice, George, and Scalia are all legal scholars they should know that the Church has no competence in speaking authoritatively speaking on the efficacy of penal systems.

Their legal training should also enable them to instinctively know a statement couched in speculative terms (which the "rare if not non-existent" phrase in EV clearly is) when they see it and that authoritative statements, especially that of the Church, are never couched in speculative terms. The Holy Father implicitly affirms the speculative nature of his "rare, if not existent" statement by following it with the words, "In any event..."


Therefore, they should seek the advice of a theologian on these matters. Someone such as Cardinal Avery Dulles would be worth listening to. Of the group that has weighed in on this issue (Scalia, Rice, George, Dulles) the most credible by far is Cardinal Dulles. And I say this despite personally not agreeing with Dulles' take either. (Or at least not in all of its parameters.)

Normally Dulles and I are of a like mind on subjects -as I tend to discover after I have formed an opinion on a subject and then read his views on it. However, on this issue there are some divergences -at least if the above article encapsulates the whole of His Eminence's position. (Which it of course did not do.) Nonetheless, even taking the latter into consideration, my view still diverges a little bit from Cardinal Dulles' admittedly.

Cardinal Dulles' Catholicism and Capital Punishment article in First Things a few years back is spot on accurate insofar as it sticks to theological analysis. The Seven Reasons America Should Not Execute [article from the] National Catholic Register is more of an opinion piece as to the prudential application of CP.

I concur with this analysis.

In it, he seems to be taken in by some of the same weak arguments that the NCCB does pertaining to the idea of it being applied with discriminate severity toward minorities and the poor and the likelihood of innocents being executed. There are one reason that, although it does not, by itself, in my view, tip the scales toward the need for an all out abolition, merits reflection.

Well, the argument that the poor do not have the same kind of representation under the law as the rich is a viable argument. Anyone who thinks OJ would have walked if he had a public defender rather than someone of the calibre of Johnny Cocherine and F. Lee Bailey is quite naive but then you already knew that. (And of course guilty people walking is nowhere near as bad as innocent people being convicted.)

And that is reason #5 about the tendency that executions have to inflame an unhealthy attitude for revenge which is, as His Eminence correctly points out, unChristian. I alluded to this in my piece on Scalia when I pointed out how the McVeigh execution was anticipated with glee by some who are otherwise clear thinking people. {2}

This is the reason I take aim at those who take that kind of attitude. It is especially inconsistent when they tout on one hand that we are saved by grace alone and not by anything we do of ourselves and then they go back to Genesis ix for justification on the death penalty stance they take. (Refusing essentially to consider Our Lord's own actions in John viii viz. another crime which was punishable by death under the rescripts of the Law.) But I digress.

Executions, even if they be just should be anticipated not with glee, but with regret that it is still necessary to take a human life. Regarding the adverse effects of war John Paul II states:

No, never again war, which destroys the lives of innocent people, teaches how to kill, throws into upheaval even the lives of those who do the killing. (Centesimus Annus #52) (emphasis added)

How true this is. I've heard more than one combat vet agonize over the fact that they have had to kill while understanding that they were just in doing so.

I have known veterans who do not like to talk about their service. I know men who had multiple purple hearts, and awards such as the distinguished flying cross, etc. And I remember when I was much younger thinking "they should put them on the mantle because these are true honours which mark their sacrifices made", etc. My father disagreed with me on that score and I remember thinking how odd that was. But of course the reasons for it are precisely what you note above.

That is also why most veterans I have known who served in battle and killed people will not talk about the war subject unless you bring it up with them. They can be quite frank about it when they do discuss it but they will almost never start such discussions themselves.

Police officers who have had to kill in the line of duty are similarly traumatized. I remember when I was growing up in Detroit, there was a cop who lived across the street from me who shot and killed a fourteen year old kid in the line of duty. It messed him up. He was never the same after that.

I think the use of the death penalty, just though it be in some cases, has a similar effect on society, albeit on a smaller scale.

True but if there are enough deaths in various ways, it all adds up.

The pope's personal opinion is not required for grasping Greg.

Of this I am well aware. I just wish that he'd give more details.

I think the clarification on Afghanistan was an important one and not only because it defends my position (and yours).

With regards to personal opinions, they are not the deciding factor as the pope himself noted after stating his opinion then following it up with a qualifying term such as "nonetheless.

If you are referring to what I think you are, the exact words are "in any event."

Ah, okay. I could not recall the exact words.

I noticed that word play too.

It is a distinction with a difference and a lot of people miss it.

First rule of thumb I have is to not take anything the media says about anything without several grains of salt. McElhinney's Media Dictum essentially states that the media's propensity for error is in direct proportion to the intricacies of the problem present. Hence, the more complex the variables, the less the media can be trusted to be reliable.

[Therefore], rather than worry about how the media will spin the story, it is more important to inculcate in people a healthy skepticism towards the media viz (i) their ability to accurately report on complex subject matter and (ii) their ability to be fair and balanced in their reporting. The fewer people who uncritically accept what the media says about anything the less we have to worry about what the media says about anything.

I agree with what you say here. However, the media still has influence on a lot of people, unfortunately.


And that is what we Catholics need to strive to do -however it infringes on our inclinations. Religious submission of mind and will is not a minor bagatelle.

And that's a good thing. Because of our weakened nature, we tend to be a bit impetuous when it comes to forming our opinions. Religious submission of mind and will gives us the much needed moment of pause to think things through, thus enabling us to gain a more sound understanding of a given issue. It has saved my bacon more than once.

Amen to that!!!

The idea that there is a necessary dichotomy between the teaching of Evangelium Vitae and a prudent usage of the death penalty in modern society needs to be quashed.

Amen bruddah! But it requires viewing the issue through the correct paradigm. As you had said back when we first started corresponding about radtradism viz. Kevin Tierney, a Catholic way of thinking involves a lot more than believing a set of dogmatic formulations, or at least something to that effect. Knowing how to think with a Catholic mind is crucial to understanding the Church's teaching on capital punishment.

It is crucial to understanding so many key areas but yes: on capital punishment many people go astray on understanding it because they do not know how to think with a Catholic mind which is much more integral than most people commonly presume. (Including many Catholics.)

If you modify your statement to read "it seems to me that the arguments put forth by those advocating a prudent usage of the death penalty in limited cases are not given a sufficient hearing by Church authorities, even from within the Vatican" then again I would concur with you.

I would agree with such a modification.

Then we concur. Thanks for your additional notes on this subject.


{1} I could list countless weblog links on this but this one will suffice as an example.

{1} I took serious umbrage with the way the Wanderer praised Buchanan as some great statesman when he was nothing more than a poor excuse for a politician who, while saying the right things on some issues, did more harm to the Catholic cause in politics than good.

{2} I wouldn't put Scalia in the same boat as Cuomo or any other pro-abort "Catholic" pol. While he is correct in saying that laws involving abortion and homosexuality are not within the purview of the court, he errs when he says that if individual states decide they want to legalize abortion or that the homosexual agenda can be legitimately pursued in the democratic process is constitutionally acceptable.

{3} One of the propostions that Pope Innocent III required the Waldensens to accept in order to be reconciled with the Church was, "The secular power can, without mortal sin, exercise judgment of blood, provided that it punishes with justice, not out of hatred, with prudence, not precipitation." (emphasis added)

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Thursday, January 08, 2004

Rerum Novarum requests your prayers for the eternal repose of the soul of the webmaster's uncle Ed Flynn who died yesterday.

[Lord, please] remember Ed Flynn, whom you have called from this life. In baptism he died with Christ: may he also share in his resurrection. [Roman Missal Eucharistic Prayer 2: From Masses for the Dead]

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In light of the President's announcement today about granting work permits to illegal aliens, I revised part of my 2004 predictions. They are set in stone now and frankly I am not happy with what I am now contemplating doing viz. voting in 2004. However, if it takes making the Republicans a minority again so they at least start pretending to want to represent me and other likeminded people, then maybe that is what will have to be done. More on this thought thread as I am inclined to discuss it but at the moment I am not...

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Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Biographical Information and Words of Wisdom of St. Raymond of Penyafort, OP. (Courtesy of Kevin Miller of HMS.)

Posting this is fitting in light of today being his feast day but I digress...


Points to Ponder:

[L]iberal Judaism today is the Democratic Party with holidays. [Marty Barrack (1/07/04)]


Tuesday, January 06, 2004

"We Few...We Happy Few" Dept.

Lane Core Jr. joins The Secret One, Pete Vere,{1} and your humble weblog host with some Predictions Hunches for 2004. The question is: does anyone else want to throw their prognosticating hat into the ring???


{1} I am aware that some on Pete's list are partly sardonic. For that reason, I will dispense him from the second half of predictions six and ten.


Prayer Requests:

Having just heard from a relative about my (Great) Uncle Mel, it would be greatly appreciated by your weblog host if you could pray for him. The long and short if it is this: he has never been a religious man{1} though he is married to my late maternal grandmother's little sister. Aunt Hattie was raised Ukrainian Catholic but in 1964 she left the Church in part over how the death of her eldest son Paul was handled.{2}

She is a very kind and generous lady and has spent decades praying for Uncle Mel to become a Christian. (She drifted towards Evangelical Protestantism probably because of the sense of community those kinds of communities can have.) Within the past couple of years there has been small steps -baby steps it is true but in light of so much non-progress these are significant.

For example, in the past year or so, Uncle Mel actually expressed an interest in praying the Our Father with Aunt Hattie. This was shocking to her because in sixty years of marriage I do not believe they ever prayed together. Anyway, my uncle had a stroke in the days before I left for Puerto Vallarta and has been incapacitated ever since. He cannot talk and will have to undergo speech therapy so he can relearn how to swallow.{3} Please keep him in your prayers and also my aunt and the rest of her family.

Also, please pray for the eternal repose of the soul of John Betts' grandmother and for him and his family.

[Lord, please] remember Lillian Conley, whom you have called from this life. In baptism she died with Christ: may she also share in his resurrection. [Roman Missal Eucharistic Prayer 2: From Masses for the Dead]

[Update: Since this was posted, my late father's uncle Edward Flynn passed away and my mother's uncle Mel Denny -referred to above- is not much longer for this world. Your prayers for each of them would be greatly appreciated. - ISM 1/23/04 (1:15 pm)]


{1} Uncle Mel has basically viewed religion as being akin to politics and religious figures to be about as genuine as politicians.

{2} There had been problems with a certain priest who refused to marry her and Uncle Mel twenty years earlier which had not sat well with her. The situation with her son was the last straw and probably at this stage she went through a kind of "I hate God" period ala what a member of my family has been going through for a few years now.

{3} Right now he has a tube in his stomach. It does not appear that he will ever talk again at this point; so communication on his part will be almost solely through writing.

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He did not invent this one but nonetheless I must give Jeff Miller props for finding it: Episcopopoly.


Points to Ponder:

We send our dogs to obedience school. I think it is time that American Catholics also attended. [Jeff Miller]


"So Let It Be Written...So Let It Be Done" Dept.

We at Rerum Novarum are so backlogged on email reading (to say nothing of responding) that only today did We run across this email from December 18th. It was sent to Us by a lady named Sarah DeCorla-Souza requesting that We make an announcement at this weblog about an upcoming literary journal of orthodox Catholic poetry and prose which will be known as the St. Linus Review.

Having given the site's weblink a look over, and seeing nothing I would find remotely objectionable about it, I have decided to grant her request by virtue of my authority as Sovereign Thane and Lord High Executioner of Rerum Novarum. The aforementioned upcoming journal and what it will entail can be reviewed HERE. Any further inquiries can be made to the email address at the aforementioned link.

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Monday, January 05, 2004

Some Key Evidence of Democratic Demagogery and Self-Destruction
(Aka "Reductionum ad Hitlerum" Dept.)

As readers of this weblog are aware, Lane Core Jr. is running a series on the Democrats self-destructing. And your humble servant at Rerum Novarum made a contribution of potential material to this series earlier for Lane, should he decide to use it. But the ultimate in installments for such a series has presented itself as of yesterday and you the reader are now going to be made aware of it -if you are not already. But first a little digression if you will pardon me with a bit of an indulgence here.

I have long had a theory in political discourse that the other side of a dispute has run out of viable arguments when they resort to not only improper ad hominems{1} but when they take it to the stage of what I call reductio ad hitlerum where they equate their opponents to the late Nazi spawn of satan himself. And in the election for 2004 -not even with one single primary being run yet- the kooks and whackjobs at have done just that. As FoxNews ran an article on the matter a few minutes ago, I will quote from their source on it since no longer has the ad up for me to link to:

The ad in question used a tape recording of the Nazi leader speaking while it showed images of Hitler and German military prowess during World War II. At the end of the ad, a photo of Bush raising his hand to take the oath of office is seen.

"A nation warped by lies. Lies fuel fear. Fear fuels aggression. Invasion. Occupation. What were war crimes in 1945 is foreign policy in 2003," the ad said.

Republican groups and Jewish organizations expressed outrage over the ad, which has been removed from the Web site. The Republican National Committee (search ) called on all nine Democratic candidates to condemn the ads.

My prediction here: only Senator Lieberman will inequivocally denounce these ads. The rest will couch their denunciations in a manner that enables them to flip flop later on if they think it is politically expedient to do so.

RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie (search) called the ad, "the worst and most vile form of political hate speech." is "using the memory of that genocide as a political prop," American Jewish Congress President Jack Rosen (search) wrote in the Wall Street Journal on Monday, referring to the

"President Bush has shown us leadership in Iraq, and our troops have liberated a people who were oppressed by another murderous dictator … comparing the commander-in-chief of a democratic nation to the murderous tyrant Hitler is not only historically specious, it is morally outrageous," Rosen continued. spokesman Trevor Fitzgibbon said, "we had no idea the Hitler thing even existed."

Uh sure, and I had no idea that Greg Mockeridge's Guest Editorial on the Death Penalty from December actually was posted to Rerum Novarum. In fact, I have no idea how any blog posts ever show up on my weblog even the one I am typing at the moment. If you buy any of that...well...the George Strait tune "Oceanfront Property in Arizona" applies here.

Frankly, certain words in response to such a blatant prevarication come to mind; however concern about making this a family-unfriendly weblog prevent me from using them.

The group, which claims to have a network of about 2 million online activists,

Including billionare George Soros who is one of their underwriters.

said that the ad comparing Bush to Hitler was one of the 1,512 submissions from the general public submitted as part of a campaign called

But of course they had no ability to prevent the ad from being aired at their own website!!! If they are that inept at running a website...need I say more??? claims the ad was not submitted by an organization and was ultimately removed from the Web site.

Only because they were shamed into doing so... noted that the "Hitler" comparison was not among the 15 finalists that are now viewable on the Web.

Of course not. Enough people with media access denounced it and that is the reason why they pulled the ad.

The group argued that the RNC is making this an issue and it should not be held responsible for what was submitted to their contest by a private citizen, particularly since itself apparently disavowed the ad.

Again, this was only done because of outside pressure. Considering the judges they have for these ads, there is not a shred of doubt in this writer's mind that the Hitler ad would have been if not the top ad picked than it would nonetheless either place or show. For that ad encapsulates in the starkest of ways what these kinds of human debris people really think about President Bush.

Gillespie told Fox News that will spend more than $1 million a day to support Bush's defeat in November and he said that the organization planned to spend $7 million to air whatever ad wins the organization's contest.

"That's the kind of tactics we're seeing on the left today in support of these Democratic presidential candidates," Gillespie said.

Though we have disagreed to a significant degree on other key issues, I have to fully concur with Gillespie here.

A panel of celebrity judges like actor Jack Black, Hollywood director Michael Moore, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, director and author Gus Van Sant, musician Michael Stipe, comedienne Margaret Cho, actress Janeane Garofalo and musician Moby are supposed to pick the best entries.

No comment. announced the finalists Monday afternoon. With over 2.9 million votes cast, the group said the final ads "perfectly capture the grassroots approach to politics we're pioneering together."

All grassroots movements have billionaire underwriters I suppose.

Bush in 30 Seconds Live, an awards show to celebrate the ads and announce the winner, will be held in the New York area Jan. 12.

Probably late at night and into the morning hours. After all, we all know what happens to these kinds of people when they are exposed to direct sunlight. Nonetheless, it is clear that the self-destruction mode is worse than previously suspected.

For this is an early November last-ditch strategy of the average contemptable political moron dirty campaign strategist.{2} When such tactics are used before the first primary, we receive all the information we need to know about just how bankrupt of ideas these kinds of human debris people really are. To quote that great western philosopher Don King: Only in America!!!


{1} And yes there are proper uses of the ad hominem but I will not delve into that point at this time.

{2} Ala Lyndon Johnson's campaign in 1964 running the infamous "daisy ad" less than seventy-two hours before the election.

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Sunday, January 04, 2004

Lane Core Jr's LXXX Plus Part Series:

Democrats in Self-Destruct Mode

This one is worth a read -particularly for Democrats and extremist Deanings.

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The path you tread is narrow and the drop is shear and very high
The ravens all are watching from a vantage point near by
Apprehension creeping like a tube-train up your spine
Will the tightrope reach the end; will the final couplets rhyme...

Yes my friends, we have another sucker honourable web personage who has joined your humble servant in setting forth predictions for 2004. The predictions of The Secret One can be read HERE. I remind everyone that there is until the seventh of January to finalize one's predictions. After that, the period of leeway{1} will be closed for the year.


{1} Or to use a blackjack metaphor, think of me as the dealer with an ace showing who is offering the players "insurance" against the possible blackjack with said "insurance" being "closed" as of midnight on January eighth.