Saturday, September 30, 2006

Miscellaneous Notes on *The* Election Issue of 2006

this is an audio post - click to play

[Note: The subject in this audio was originally recorded three times -at 3:55pm on Thursday afternoon, at 4:01pm on Thursday afternoon, and then again on Friday morning at approximately 12:10am. Originally we recorded it twice and intended to keep the better recording (mainly cause we got a phone call when in the middle of the first recording) but when checking the blog, neither one came through in a timely fashion as is the norm with audioblogger. We therefore decided to record it a third time and it also did not come through at the time recorded. However, two of the three recordings made it to the blog and we decided to use the second of the three recordings in the above posting. -ISM]

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Friday, September 29, 2006

Points to Ponder:

Since Vietnam, the citizen, thinking that war must fit nicely into a formula that excludes death, disorder, and imperfect execution, commits nothing in return. The old adage that a "plan never survives contact with the enemy" (Von Moltke) has been replaced by the new motto of a spoiled culture: "support never survives contact with the enemy." ["Aslan" (circa December 2005)]

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Points to Ponder:
(On Errors in One's Reasoning and Use of Logic)

It does no good to focus on anything but the root and matrix of a person's work. If they have committed errors -and often things are claimed to be "errors" which are nothing more than a writer misrepresenting the work of another person- this needs to be verified by objective criteria. For errors in a work often are the result of faulty methodology -the former is merely a symptom whereas the latter is the cause. [Excerpt from an Email Correspondence (circa September 25, 2006)]

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"U Thant Touch This" Dept.

I wanted to note here briefly that the posting from September 9th has been updated in light of two more recent developments. For those who are interested in the whole Sungenis saga, I refer you to that subject here where some of the subsequent developments can be noted. For those who do not find these subjects of interest, consider the other threads posted earlier today and what will follow this one.

Those who do find this subject of interest, I hope they approach it with the regret that such episodes should entail as watching a mental meltdown is not (and should never) be treated as something to be celebrated.{1} It is quite disturbing to see the sorts of illogic and outright contradictions which agenda provocateurs of an apologetics mindset will go through to avoid admitting when they have bitten off more than they can chew. Noted in that update is a public statement by Bob Sungenis which originally looked promising and I hold out the hope that it is genuine though and that what we are seeing is the slow agonizing process of Bob seeking to revise a previously revised worldview. However, now -in light of Jacob Michael's solid logic and reasoning- that public statement is one that can unfortunately be called into question.


{1} I only use the post title I do as a kind of playful jab at Jacob as it was a rhetorical device used by this writer in the past when the waters between us were a lot colder (metaphorically speaking). In light of the seriousness of what is involved here, a little levity somewhere is in order even if it is (admittedly) somewhat half-baked.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

On Another Example of Mainstream Media Lack of Basic Ethics and Other Tidbits:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

In light of what was noted on this humble weblog yesterday viz. basic ethics, it is interesting that the Democrats who leaked part of a recent National Intelligence Estimate report engaged in precisely the same kind of unethical behaviour that we noted in that audioposting. They released out of context snippets of the report in the interest of furthering an agenda.{1} The Bush Administration responded by releasing the full report pointing out that the doctored snippets of the Democrats stop short of certain other points in the piece that they did not want to reveal to the public. This kind of manipulation of the words of a person or source is unfortunately common in some circles and those who act in this fashion --be they self-styled "apologist" sorts or mainstream media sorts-- deserve to be called on it for what they are. Consistency requires this if nothing else does.

Furthermore, it seems that certain media sorts with a short memory are crowing about President Bush saying one thing and pointing to the National Intelligence Estimate report saying the opposite and using this to disparage President Bush. There is tremendous irony in this because these critics of the president have done nothing but take issue with the findings of a previous National Intelligence Estimate report on a continual basis. What makes the present report's findings so sacrosanct??? Obviously, it contains material that can be twisted from context to appear to benefit the Democrat partisans, that is why. Your host frankly is not going to uncritically accept any report of this sort but he does expect those who want to refer to such things to represent them fairly. Let us consider what has not been represented fairly in this report before we deal with the nature of this kind of report itself. First the misrepresentation (via FamilyMatters):

National Intelligence Estimate Concludes Iraq Victory a Victory in Overall War

Read that headline again folks!!! Is that how the Democratic agenda pundits have represented this report in the media in recent days??? Of course not. Moving on...

September 27, 2006

So the declassified NIE is out for the entire world to see. In it, the intelligence community concludes that the Iraq conflict has become a "cause celebre" (perhaps best translated from French into English--in this case--as a rallying cry) for jihadists.

I don't think there is any surprise there.

Of course, the jihadists are going to use any excuse to promote their evil agenda. They've use/used the Israel-Palestinian conflict, U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, Islam's eviction from southern Spain in the Middle Ages, the Crusades and a whole host of other reasons to advance their deadly cause.

But even more striking was the sentence that followed the now celebrated "cause celebre" sentence in the NIE document: "Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight."

So, basically, the NIE is saying that victory in Iraq would be a victory in the fight against extremism. A pretty important judgment...[Excerpt from National Intelligence Estimate Concludes Iraq Victory a Victory in Overall War by Peter Brookes (circa September 27, 2006)]

Essentially, we at Rerum Novarum are only interested in this report being represented properly which means without disingenuous prooftexting of the text to manufacture "positions" that the report itself does not take.{2} As far as the weight of this report, let us consider that at the present time by referencing a Council on Foreign Relations{3} thread which discusses the nature of this kind of report:

A National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) is the U.S. intelligence community's most authoritative, top-of-the-line written judgment on a specific national security issue. Representatives from keyU.S. intelligence agencies participate in writing an estimate, which is then submitted to the president and other policy-makers. In September 2002, members of Congress requested an NIEassessing Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs. The Senate Select Intelligence Committee, in a 511-page report released July 9, found that "most of the major key judgments" in the 2002 Iraq NIE--which were cited by President Bush and other policy-makers in their case for war--"either overstated, or were not supported by, the underlying intelligence reporting." [Excerpt from the CFR Article INTELLIGENCE: National Intelligence Estimates (circa July 15, 2004)]

Consistency would require that those who would so berate a previous NIE report as these agenda provocateurs have done for four years now{4} be consistent and do not treat the present report as sacrosanct. This means recognizing President Bush as as much of a right to diverge from the findings of the current NIE report as they did with the report in 2002. This writer does not expect that these people will suddenly act honourably on these matters but it is noted here nonetheless for the readers consideration.


{1} In this case, seeking to better themselves politically in the upcoming election.

{2} If what [someone is] doing is very obviously tearing snippets out of context in order to create a caricature, then that person needs not be taken seriously. They need to be pointed out and denounced for the unethical person that they are...In another area, how accurately they quote sources in making an argument. Of course there is also the issue of if you are going to attempt to oppose a person, a position or whatever, make actual arguments. Don't engage in argumentation fallacies. Those who...engage in fallacies -even if they spill a bunch of type trying to claim that a square is really a circle...- again, consider what they say in accordance with the objective criteria involved. [Excerpts from a Rerum Novarum Audiopost Transcript (circa September 26, 2006)]

{3} We are aware that in light of our past as conspiracy theoriests (circa the early 1990's) that there is a degree of irony in us citing something from the CFR so please do not bother emailing us with this "observation" as if it is something we are somehow unaware of.

{4} Now is not the time to go into the whole WMD subject again except to note (since certain agenda provocateurs seem to never remember) that this writer never took his position on the war in Iraq in early 2003 -a position as solidly based now as it was then- on the basis of WMD's or their lack thereof.

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On Justification Revisited:
(Dialogue With Tim Enloe)

This is a continuation of the thread posted last week though the original email itself was drafted back on August 9th and sent to Tim on August 20th. Once again, Tim's words will be in blue font.


Hi Tim:

Sorry for the delay in responding...been busy with being insulted by my presumed "brother Catholics" and wanted to get another response in the can (one on integrity in general) written for posting tomorrow before I finished this response to you.

Thanks, that's a good start on what I was looking for. I'm sick to death of Reformed caricatures of Catholicism--I no longer even give the time of day to about 80% of what Reformed theologians and apologists say about "Catholic doctrine."

Rev. Pahls is a good one. I gave high marks to his essay "Reversing Babylon" a couple of years ago. From a Reformed standpoint it is excellent and I wish more Reformed theologians approached these matters as he did.

A lot of the trouble appears to be simplistically reading Reformed categories into Catholicism without an ounce of critical thought about where those Reformed categories came from and / or whether they can even adequately grapple with a very different framework.

True. We had a lot of similar problems in the two centuries or so prior to the Second Vatican Council with the attempt by many Catholic prelates to impose one kind of theological method onto everyone. They basically christened their brand of "neo-scholasticism" as THE Scholastic method and acted as if anything that did not conform to that method was to be viewed as suspect.

I have written before (and on more than one occasion) how untraditional and unfaithful to "the methods and principles by which the old scholastic doctors cultivated theology" (cf. Syllabus of Errors Prop. #13) neo-scholasticism actually was. But like the Reformed sorts you refer to, a lot of the neo-scholastic proponents simply acted as if their categories were handed down from Sinai on golden tablets rather than consider that POSSIBLY their method may not be either the only viable one or even the best of the bunch. Fortunately the Catholic Church as a whole (with the exception of [certain integrist sorts]) have moved on from those presumptions. Some have gone to what we would not (in Catholic circles) consider acceptable extremes but that is another subject altogether.

And of course a lot of it is simply bigoted reactionary sloganeering--just repeating what others have been saying rather than doing any serious work for oneself.

That is the mentality of a lot of people. Did you by chance read the blog post I put up [not long ago] on the problems with the apologetics mentality???{1} I aimed it primarily at Catholics (including noting some Catholic apologists who have serious problems in some of their rational and spiritual approaches to non-doctrinal issues) but the core principle involved (if not all the precise applications) transcends any one category of people.

I suppose a big thing I want to clarify is to what extent it is true that some form of "sola fide" is compatible with Catholicism. I have seen that idea stated many times over the last few years by various Catholic sources (can't recall who), and it intrigues me.

I have been one of those who said it. To my knowledge, Dr. Art Sippo and Jimmy Akin have also said it as well.{2} I would trust the latter two to know better than I do as this subject is among their strongest suits unlike with me.{3}

It seems to me like the crux might be on the idea that faith has to be formed by love or it is not real faith.

Correct. The Scholastics utilized an understanding of faith along the pattern set down by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians xiii when he refers to "faith, hope, and charity" and the Catholic Church has traditionally referred to these as the "three theological virtues" because they are the ones which touch most centrally on theological understanding. By that understanding, faith was the cerebral aspect of the puzzle, hope to some extent is the part of the puzzle that combined with faith moves one towards concrete expression of belief and charity is that very concrete aspect of the puzzle. Understood in that light, you can see how Trent would condemn certain expressions of sola fide such as this one:

If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification...let him be anathema. [Trent Session VI: From Canons on Justification (circa 1547)]

Most Reformeds and other Protestants focus on the first part of the sentence when the contextualizing part of it is the part in bolded font. (The second part basically addresses Luther's idea that there is no such thing as free will: I deleted it cause it is not germane to this discussion.)

Given a faith that *is* formed by love, is it possible for a Catholic to be orthodox and say that justification is by "faith alone"?

I would say so, yes if by "faith alone" your understanding of faith included hope and charity.

If so, then it would appear that much of the brouhaha over "sola fide" is a matter of different terminology performing a similar function within different theological frameworks, since no Reformed person would assert that faith can be separated from works and still justify.

Trent's intention was to confirm the traditional understanding of faith within the triad of faith, hope, and charity (cf. 1 Cor. xiii). The manner in which Luther and company appeared to use the term was a novel one by those standards and certainly the writings of the reformers gave every indication of that from what I have been able to discern. However (and this is the key in the modern context), there does not seem to be a consensus of any sort amongst most Protestants today for the notion of faith as abstract and intellectual in the manner Trent condemned in its decrees and canons on justification.

That is why Pope Benedict XVI acting in the late pontiffs name{4} clarified that most of the anathemas from Trent session six did not apply to the Lutherans and other Protestant bodies today.{5} Whatever the exact situation in the sixteenth century was in reality,{6} it was determined through authentic dialogue{7} that different meanings are attached to different terms today.

Hopefully that is of some assistance, let me know if you want anymore on the subject. Nice to hear from you again my friend.


{1} That is not the only thread posted at the time but most of the email to Tim was written before this dialogue with Apolonio on the apologetics methodology subject was formatted for the blog and posted.

{2} I asked Art in a private note if I represented him correctly and this was his response (my question in blue font):

[Tim] found the email quite helpful. We have moved onto the subject of whether sola fide can be understood in a Catholic context or not. I have held that it can be as has (I believe) Jimmy Akin and Art. (Would I be representing you correctly in saying that Art???)

Yes. This was St. Thomas' position as well as many of the Fathers. The "saving faith" includes the three elements of fides, fiducia, and fidelius. [Dr. Art Sippo: Excerpt from an Email Correspondence (circa August 10, 2006)]

{3} Though I am hardly a wallflower on the matter of course.

{4} When he was CDF prefect or chief doctrinal enforcer for Pope John Paul II.

{5} When hammering out the final wrinkles in the Joint Declaration on Justification between the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church which was signed by representatives of both parties on October 31, 1999. (The United Methodists signed onto the consensus in that declaration in July of this year incidentally enough.)

{6} I am hesitant to accept uncritically any one interpretation of the situation as a concrete reality since counterreformation sources have no small shortage of polemics to them on all sides.

{7} Some Principles For Authentic Dialogue and the Proper Use of Sources in Papers (circa February 9, 2006)

Miscellaneous Musings on Dialogue--An Audio Post (circa October 6, 2005)

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Miscellaneous Musings on Basic Ethics Both Public and Private

this is an audio post - click to play

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Yesterday was the anniversary of one of the greatest heavyweight title fights in boxing history. As I did not have time to go into it then (and do not currently either), it seems appropriate to dig up a few threads from the archives where this fight was discussed in past years. Without further ado, here they are:

Miscellaneous Notes on Notable Anniversaries (circa September 23, 2004)

Musings on the Fight Game (circa December 27, 2004)

May the souls of those great fighters rest in peace.

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Miscellaneous Musings on Rights (Real or Perceived), the Problems a Lot of Non-Theistic Evolutionist Proponents Have With Logical Consistency in Claiming Certain "Rights", Briefly on Bastiat's "Three Fundamental Rights" Theory, Etc.

this is an audio post - click to play

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