Saturday, April 28, 2007

Miscellaneous Musings:

I want to touch on two points briefly so here goes...

--Readers of this humble weblog may have noticed the labels on the bottom of the page of many of the blog posts. I have been in recent weeks taking a few minutes here and there and adding labels to various posts by subject. This is an arduous process but thankfully, I know some shortcuts that have enabled me to get a significant jump on it.{1} I should have that project done by summertime which means that the first weblog update of 2007 will not take place for quite a while. As it is, most of the posts for the past two years have at least one subject tag on them as of this writing -many of them more than one tag in fact. And there are some categories I have not even gotten to which will have a number of posts put into them when I get around to adding those categories. Suffice to say, this will take a while and when the project is completed, I will be able to significantly reduce the number of links in the side margin of my weblog and post there only the categories themselves whatever the total number of them ends up being.{2}

--I have not commented on the Virginia Tech incident because I did not find myself in the mood to. All I will say on it in passing is that anyone who used this tragedy to try and score cheap political points is a disgrace. I have in mind those who are going to try and shill for "gun control" as if somehow the criminal has no choice in the matter if not for the gun making him commit the crime. I suppose (to paraphrase Larry the cable Guy) I should blame my pens and pencils for causing me to misspell words. The latter is about as logical as those who blame guns for crime.


{1} Such as certain words to search for in the archives on various subjects, certain phrases, etc.

{2} Right now there is twenty-nine of them and I have at least four more in mind at the moment which will be included as well -and will probably incorporate more than that when it is all said and done.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Points to Ponder:

"Catholics for a Free Choice" is no more a Catholic organization than Exxon is an environmentalist movement. [John M. Esparolini]


"Dogmatic Theology Five Cents, The Doctor is In" Dept.
(On General Norms of Theological Interpretation Revisited)

[Prefatory Note: This text was primarily thrown together about ten days ago and slightly expanded (and formatted into third person tense) for the present posting. -ISM]

It is really irritating when an experienced apologist such as Mark Shea makes the kinds of mistakes he does and on such a regular basis. We at Rerum Novarum will dispatch with these inanities briefly and in the process remind readers why a mind is a terrible thing to waste. Furthermore, Mark utilizes a classic argumentation fallacy{1} to try and confuse matters like an old parlour magician. Unfortunately for him, your host is not one to fall for such matters and after calling him on the matter, Mark responded as follows (his words in appropriately dark yellow font).


I was unaware that when a Council teaches that "Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation" it is not the Church's teaching. I learn something new every day.

Mark of course makes a lot of presumptions in how he applies that passage. Furthermore, he also does not bother considering what Gaudium et Spes says about the theological qualifications of its own text.{2} If he did, he would not make such absurd statements.

I'm aware of the common game of "Simon says" which apologists for nuking civilians enjoy playing. The rules of the game are "If the Pope does not say "We declare, say, pronounce, and define that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were acts of butchery and they should be pilgrimage sites where men can contemplate the self-destruction of mankind" why then it's just a "sneeze" and we can completely ignore them.

The fact that your host does not plan to discuss this issue again until it is relevant aside for a moment{3}, Mark makes the same presumptions that theologically radical so-called "traditionalist Catholics" do on their pet issues. Much as they take an elastic application of Pope Pius X's encyclical Pascendi and try to apply its condemnations wholesale to the Second Vatican Council and the subsequent popes, Mark does the same here with his own pet subjects.

Anyone even remotely familiar with general norms of theological interpretation{4} knows that condemnations are by their very nature very precise and are intended only in the sense intended, not every sense that a casual reader of a text applies to them. This is why none of the condemnations in Pascendi apply to Vatican II or to the popes since Pope Pius XII. A casual and careless reading of Pascendi or Pius XII's Humani Generis presents no small degree of problems. Those texts as indeed any text have to be read carefully and in accordance with general norms of theological interpretation if the reader is to avoid the kinds of misinterpretations which are sadly not uncommon. And whether Mark or anyone else likes it, there are no magisterial condemnations of the atomic bombings. Period, end of discussion, the rest is commentary. But then again, if Mark took time to look into these matters before opening his mouth on matters of which he knows so little, he would know this.

Furthermore, your host has never said that anything short of a dogmatic definition is up for grabs -indeed in years past he wrote more on the authority of the ordinary magisterium and the proper sense of magisterial infallibility than any Catholic in cyberspace. But he is not now nor will he ever ascribe more to a statement of the pope or a council authority-wise than it actually contains. That is not "minimalist" however much Mark may want to misrepresent it but instead is a proper recognition of where the Church has spoken and where she has not.

Only the absolute bare minimum daily adult requirement of teaching from the Church's shepherds need be heeded. Any attempt to pay attention to what they say beyond this is ultra-montanism.

Any attempt to ascribe to magisterial status things which are not makes Mark no different in principle than those nineteenth century neo-ultramontaines who ascribed infallibility to every sneeze of Pope Pius IX. Except in Mark's case it is every statement is a defacto magisterial judgment. Theology is not that simple however much Mark may wish it was.

I'm likewise familiar with the fact that you, like so many Torture Apologists,

Maybe we should start calling Mark an Al Queda Apologist. It would be far more accurate than applying Markmoud AhmadinaShea's label to your host. (Gee, namecalling is fun is it not???)

still labor under the impression that I never defined torture when, in fact, I defined it repeatedly, just never to the satisfaction of those who wanted to remain confused.

Mark referred to dictionary definitions which themselves are not precise. Your host asked him numerous times in private "what is torture Mark" and he were as silent as a whore in church in response.

I also pointed out that the teaching (not the "sneeze") of the Church does not stop with "Don't torture".

Again, if Mark does not define the term before he uses it, the present writer has no reason to take anything he says on the matter seriously. Nor for that matter does anyone else.

It also says that prisoners are to be treated humanely--not merely "not exactly precisely technically tortured".

We reprise anew what was asked of Mark in private and to which he never responded:

--Would any and all attempts to coerce someone to reveal information they may not want to reveal when dealing with captured prisoners of war in a time of war be categorized as "torture"???

The question should be answered by Mark if he wants anything he says on these matters to be given any review whatsoever.

All this seems to elude you as it eludes others, which is why I continue to think you major in minors, Shawn.

Again, if Mark does not define a term and give someone a workable template to assess every public utterance he make on these matters to assess his consistency (or lack thereof), then why should anyone take him seriously??? Far from being a "major[ing] in minors" definitions are essential for rational discourse. They are the tools of thought and those who refuse to provide them should never be taken seriously when they deign to pontificate on issues where there is a greater complexity than the conventional wisdom Readers Digest Condensed Books accounts often convey.

Thanks again for your valiant defense of American political realities against all the impositions of our shepherds.

Thanks for reminding us of why we need another Sedition Act in this country during a time of war Markmoud. Based on the way Mark has griped about matters such as these as well as his ahistorical approach to indefinite detainment of aliens during a time of war, perhaps "Al Sheada" is a more appropriate moniker for him.


{1} To summarize this fallacy in a short blurb, the fallacy of red herring is one where a subject not relevant to the original issue being discussed is raised in order to divert attention away from the latter subject.

{2} This subject was covered in the following posting for those who are interested:

"Dogmatic Theology Five Cents, the Doctor Is In" Dept. (circa February 4, 2006)

{3} Which basically means not until the anniversaries of that event if we discuss them at all this year.

{4} Of which Mark would not recognize even if it was a twelve story general norm of interpretation with magnificent entrance hall, carpetting throughout, 24 hour portage, and an enormous sign on the roof saying "This Is A General Norm of Theological Interpretation." (The above analogy was shamelessly ripped off from the main character of your host's favourite show of all time and tweaked a bit to fit the current situation.)

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Monday, April 23, 2007

As today would have been the 84th birthday of Albert King -a man who was one of the greatest innovators and influences in postwar electric blues, I want to recognize this event with posting a video from YouTube. In this video is Albert, his greatest disciple Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Paul Butterfield of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band fame playing an Elmore James classic The Sky is Crying.

The Sky is Crying

May all three of them rest in peace.

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