Saturday, December 28, 2002

"SecretAgentMan" Dept.

There's a man who leads a life of danger
To everyone he meets he stays a stranger
With every move he makes another chance he takes
Odds are he won't live to see tomorrow

Secret agent man, secret agent man
They've given you a number and taken away your name

Beware of pretty faces that you find
A pretty face can hide an evil mind
Ah, be careful what you say
Or you'll give yourself away
Odds are you won't live to see tomorrow

Secret agent man, secret agent man
They've given you a number and taken away your name

------ lead guitar ------

This fella needs to get his own weblog...

Imaginary Dialogue Between 'Traditionalist', 'Conservative', and 'Liberal'

All I will say about it here is the following monitum:

Danger: Parody Ahead

Secret agent man, secret agent man
They've given you a number and taken away your name

Swingin' on the Riviera one day
And then layin' in the Bombay alley next day
Oh no, you let the wrong word slip
While kissing persuasive lips
The odds are you won't live to see tomorrow

Secret agent man, secret agent man
They've given you a number and taken away your name


In catching up on some blog reading over at Mark Shea's weblog, in a comments box about certain kooky geocentrists the discussion shifted to that fountain of misinformation Solange Hertz. The two best examples of reductionem ad absurdem were as follows:

2) The Curmudgeon who noted that:

When one observer pointed out to _Remnant_ editor Michael Matt that Hertz (whose name, ironically enough, is also an electronics term) uses a computer to do her "work," Matt indicated that this was okay because Hertz is "clear-eyed" about the devilish nature of electronics...In that case, we should all feel free to use crack cocaine. After all, we're equally "clear-eyed" about the harmful nature of narcotics, are we not?

1) James Kabala who noted the following:

Her inconsistency applies not only to her use of a computer, but her use of English. In the article she condemns Galileo for writing in the vernacular, so why doesn't she write in Latin.

Sorry Curmudgeon but this one trumps you for one very good reason. We should tell the kooks such as Remnant and Hertz that we will not take them seriously until they make their arguments in Latin. That way their opinions are forced to die out from constant inbreeding ;-)

PS I found Heather Price's reference to the Great Pumpkin rather amusing too because in a sense the pseudo-trads are like Linus in the pumpkin patch in more ways then one. But I digress...

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"I Fought Lough-non and...well...John Won" Dept.

For those not familiar with my friend F. John Loughnan, he spent almost a quarter century affiliated with the 'traditionalists' (1974-1997) and it is easier to sneak a sunrise past a rooster then to slip a facile 'trad' assertion by him. The following part of an entry John made will comprise today's "points to ponder" section.

I have often wondered what it must have been like for certain human beings being born, raised or known as "a Jew." How would I have liked that experience? How would I have reacted in a hostile or repressive environment; to pogroms, etc? Would I have liked those who, because of an accident of birth, forced me to live in a ghetto; not to be able to buy property; to be able to find employment as a rag picker; to have to wear distinctive garments so that my humiliation could be all the more degrading? Would I have joined in any activity which gave any hope of escaping the degradation? Written any articles contra this system?

An event in history saw a certain emperor favor one section of his people as the State sponsored religion. The interesting fact is that this emperor, Constantine, never became a "Roman Catholic." He never even converted until his death-bed - and then, he was baptized by an heretical Arian bishop names Eusebius and died near Nicomedia in the East, aged 63.!

What might be even more interesting is that who was to BE "Peter" was decided by an heretic! St Symmachus {51st P.} & his opposing faction were involved in such brawling that both factions asked Theodroric, Arian king of Italy though he was, to settle the matter. Isn't history fascinating?

Someone wrote: "None of the comments from our popes, councils and saints of the past were 'anti-Semitic.' "

Oh, I don't know about that!

Refer: Popes on the Jews

I am sure there are some nimrods who would claim that the stuff at the link above constitutes Sacred Tradition but I certainly hope that most who would identify themselves as 'traditionalists' would take a sober look at the stuff above. It is the kind of stuff I do not like to talk about much. It is the kind of stuff that gets whitewashed by those who have a misplaced nostalgia for some mythical "golden age" that never existed any more than Frank Oz's "yellow brick road" or "emerald city" did. Yet at times when the nostalgia sauce seems to be flowing a bit too thick, such reminders need to be brought forth.

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After a nice long phone discussion with a friend this evening, a rather surprising idea for a Rerum Novarum exclusive came to mind. Something that I have never done before. Something that would in light of the current climate be very timely. And something that would transcend the generally superficial positions as espoused by various theological outlooks from within the Church. (On a variety of issues.) Stay tuned my friends as I hope to within the week or two get together what I need to make this work. (Note to the one with the excommunicated web-log: this is an idea that you may be interested in.)

Can I possibly be more cryptic then this??? Certainly but this is adequate enough methinks ;-)


Friday, December 27, 2002

"Cleaning Out My Notebook" Dept.

[T]his guy is so reckless and uninformed with his philosophy about the very basic Thomstic understanding of human nature, I'm sure he undoubtedly runs into greater problems and probably heresy when speaking of the finer points of Christological or Trinitarian issues.

The above citation was with regards to someone who is on one of the discussion lists that I either maintain or am occasionally involved with. I thought taking the opportunity of this note to make an often-overlooked distinction was in order. Heresy involves willful doubt or denial rather then simple error. I have problems with the term "fall into heresy" because heresy of the formal (and damning) kind cannot be accidental. It involves formal error followed by either willfully entertained doubt or outright denial of a truth that must be held de fide. The mere profession of an error on a matter to be held de fide without willful malice does not constitute heresy properly so-called.

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Bastiat's Corner:

Spurred on by the red in my eyes at reading a manifestly ignorant statement on "the function of government" over at Steve Ray's message board, the need to resume the Bastiat series became apparent. For those who are following along, the last installment can be found HERE. Those just joining us should start from the beginning where the thesis for soundly refuting socialist nonsense begins to take shape. (Otherwise you will not properly understand the context of where we are at currently in this thesis.) As he quotes a lot more sources then normal, I will be putting the quoted sources in dark green font for easier differentiation. In the meantime, let us hand the podium over to Mr. Bastiat:

A Defense of Compulsory Labor

Let us first consider a quotation from Bossuet [tutor to the Dauphin in the Court of Louis XIV]:*

"One of the things most strongly impressed (by whom?) upon the minds of the Egyptians was patriotism.... No one was permitted to be useless to the state. The law assigned to each one his work, which was handed down from father to son. No one was permitted to have two professions. Nor could a person change from one job to another.... But there was one task to which all were forced to conform: the study of the laws and of wisdom.

Ignorance of religion and of the political regulations of the country was not excused under any circumstances. Moreover, each occupation was assigned (by whom?) to a certain district.... Among the good laws, one of the best was that everyone was trained (by whom?) to obey them. As a result of this, Egypt was filled with wonderful inventions, and nothing was neglected that could make life easy and quiet"

[*Translator's note: The parenthetical expressions and the italicized words throughout this book were supplied by Mr. Bastiat. All subheads and bracketed material were supplied by the translator.]

Thus, according to Bossuet, persons derive nothing from themselves. Patriotism, prosperity, inventions, husbandry, science -- all of these are given to the people by the operation of the laws, the rulers. All that the people have to do is to bow to leadership.

A Defense of Paternal Government

Bossuet carries this idea of the state as the source of all progress even so far as to defend the Egyptians against the charge that they rejected wrestling and music. He said:

"How is that possible? These arts were invented by Trismegistus [who was alleged to have been Chancellor to the Egyptian god Osiris]".

And again among the Persians, Bossuet claims that all comes from above:

"One of the first responsibilities of the prince was to encourage agriculture.... Just as there were offices established for the regulation of armies, just so were there offices for the direction of farm work.... The Persian people were inspired with an overwhelming respect for royal authority."

And according to Bossuet, the Greek people, although exceedingly intelligent, had no sense of personal responsibility; like dogs and horses, they themselves could not have invented the most simple games:

"The Greeks, naturally intelligent and courageous, had been early cultivated by the kings and settlers who had come from Egypt. From these Egyptian rulers, the Greek people had learned bodily exercises, foot races, and horse and chariot races.... But the best thing that the Egyptians had taught the Greeks was to become docile, and to permit themselves to be formed by the law for the public good."

The Idea of Passive Mankind

It cannot be disputed that these classical theories [advanced by these latter-day teachers, writers, legislators, economists, and philosophers] held that everything came to the people from a source outside themselves. As another example, take Fenelon [archbishop, author, and instructor to the Duke of Burgundy].

He was a witness to the power of Louis XIV. This, plus the fact that he was nurtured in the classical studies and the admiration of antiquity, naturally caused Fenelon to accept the idea that mankind should be passive; that the misfortunes and the prosperity -- vices and virtues -- of people are caused by the external influence exercised upon them by the law and the legislators. Thus, in his Utopia of Salentum, he puts men -- with all their interests, faculties, desires, and possessions -- under the absolute discretion of the legislator. Whatever the issue may be, persons do not decide it for themselves; the prince decides for them. The prince is depicted as the soul of this shapeless mass of people who form the nation. In the prince resides the thought, the foresight, all progress, and the principle of all organization. Thus all responsibility rests with him.

The whole of the tenth book of Fenelon's Telemachus proves this. I refer the reader to it, and content myself with quoting at random from this celebrated work to which, in every other respect, I am the first to pay homage.

[Fenelon figures in on our spiritual instruction series also - and that is an area where he certainly is an authority. Like Bastiat, I have tremendous respect and listen to his exhortations in this realm - as should you - but when it comes to politics Fenelon is frankly out of his realm as will be obvious when his work in this area is looked at - ISM.]

Socialists Ignore Reason and Facts

With the amazing credulity which is typical of the classicists, Fenelon ignores the authority of reason and facts when he attributes the general happiness of the Egyptians, not to their own wisdom but to the wisdom of their kings:

"We could not turn our eyes to either shore without seeing rich towns and country estates most agreeably located; fields, never fallowed, covered with golden crops every year; meadows full of flocks; workers bending under the weight of the fruit which the earth lavished upon its cultivators; shepherds who made the echoes resound with the soft notes from their pipes and flutes. "Happy," said Mentor, "is the people governed by a wise king.". . ."

Later, Mentor desired that I observe the contentment and abundance which covered all Egypt, where twenty-two thousand cities could be counted. He admired the good police regulations in the cities; the justice rendered in favor of the poor against the rich; the sound education of the children in obedience, labor, sobriety, and the love of the arts and letters; the exactness with which all religious ceremonies were performed; the unselfishness, the high regard for honor, the faithfulness to men, and the fear of the gods which every father taught his children. He never stopped admiring the prosperity of the country. "Happy," said he, "is the people ruled by a wise king in such a manner."

Socialists Want to Regiment People

Fenelon's idyll on Crete is even more alluring. Mentor is made to say:

"All that you see in this wonderful island results from the laws of Minos. The education which he ordained for the children makes their bodies strong and robust. From the very beginning, one accustoms the children to a life of frugality and labor, because one assumes that all pleasures of the senses weaken both body and mind. Thus one allows them no pleasure except that of becoming invincible by virtue, and of acquiring glory.... Here one punishes three vices that go unpunished among other people: ingratitude, hypocrisy, and greed. There is no need to punish persons for pomp and dissipation, for they are unknown in Crete.... No costly furniture, no magnificent clothing, no delicious feasts, no gilded palaces are permitted."

Thus does Mentor prepare his student to mold and to manipulate -- doubtless with the best of intentions -- the people of Ithaca. And to convince the student of the wisdom of these ideas, Mentor recites to him the example of Salentum.

It is from this sort of philosophy that we receive our first political ideas! We are taught to treat persons much as an instructor in agriculture teaches farmers to prepare and tend the soil.

A Famous Name and an Evil Idea

Now listen to the great Montesquieu on this same subject:

"To maintain the spirit of commerce, it is necessary that all the laws must favor it. These laws, by proportionately dividing up the fortunes as they are made in commerce, should provide every poor citizen with sufficiently easy circumstances to enable him to work like the others. These same laws should put every rich citizen in such lowered circumstances as to force him to work in order to keep or to gain."

Thus the laws are to dispose of all fortunes!

Although real equality is the soul of the state in a democracy, yet this is so difficult to establish that an extreme precision in this matter would not always be desirable. It is sufficient that there be established a census to reduce or fix these differences in wealth within a certain limit. After this is done, it remains for specific laws to equalize inequality by imposing burdens upon the rich and granting relief to the poor.

Here again we find the idea of equalizing fortunes by law, by force.

In Greece, there were two kinds of republics, One, Sparta, was military; the other, Athens, was commercial. In the former, it was desired that the citizens be idle; in the latter, love of labor was encouraged.

Note the marvelous genius of these legislators: By debasing all established customs -- by mixing the usual concepts of all virtues -- they knew in advance that the world would admire their wisdom.

Lycurgus gave stability to his city of Sparta by combining petty thievery with the soul of justice; by combining the most complete bondage with the most extreme liberty; by combining the most atrocious beliefs with the greatest moderation. He appeared to deprive his city of all its resources, arts, commerce, money, and defenses. In Sparta, ambition went without the hope of material reward. Natural affection found no outlet because a man was neither son, husband, nor father. Even chastity was no longer considered becoming. By this road, Lycurgus led Sparta on to greatness and glory.

This boldness which was to be found in the institutions of Greece has been repeated in the midst of the degeneracy and corruption of our modern times. An occasional honest legislator has molded a people in whom integrity appears as natural as courage in the Spartans.

Mr. William Penn, for example, is a true Lycurgus. Even though Mr. Penn had peace as his objective -- while Lycurgus had war as his objective -- they resemble each other in that their moral prestige over free men allowed them to overcome prejudices, to subdue passions, and to lead their respective peoples into new paths.

The country of Paraguay furnishes us with another example [of a people who, for their own good, are molded by their legislators].*

[*Translator's note: What was then known as Paraguay was a much larger area than it is today. It was colonized by the Jesuits who settled the Indians into villages, and generally saved them from further brutalities by the avid conquerors.]

Now it is true that if one considers the sheer pleasure of commanding to be the greatest joy in life, he contemplates a crime against society; it will, however, always be a noble ideal to govern men in a manner that will make them happier.

Those who desire to establish similar institutions must do as follows: Establish common ownership of property as in the republic of Plato; revere the gods as Plato commanded; prevent foreigners from mingling with the people, in order to preserve the customs; let the state, instead of the citizens, establish commerce. The legislators should supply arts instead of luxuries; they should satisfy needs instead of desires.

A Frightful Idea

Those who are subject to vulgar infatuation may exclaim: "Montesquieu has said this! So it's magnificent! It's sublime!" As for me, I have the courage of my own opinion. I say: What! You have the nerve to call that fine? It is frightful! It is abominable! These random selections from the writings of Montesquieu show that he considers persons, liberties, property -- mankind itself -- to be nothing but materials for legislators to exercise their wisdom upon.

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Tuesday, December 24, 2002

May all of my readers have a happy and holy Christmas along with a blessed new year.


Monday, December 23, 2002

"The Kids Are Not Alright" Dept.
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

I try my friends to give people the benefit of the doubt whenever possible - sometimes to the tune of "you got to be kidding" from other people. This is not always easy to do but as Christians we are supposed to hold ourselves to a higher standard.

However, there are times when one cannot be silent about certain issues. We went through such an ordeal this year with the priestly pedophilia scandal. Well, another such issue has arisen that is sickening in a more subtle way. Before, pointing to it, some counsil from Holy Writ is in order that is applicable to the situation at hand:

Matthew 18
5 "And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Mark 9
41 "For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I say to you, he will not lose his reward. 42 "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.

Luke 17
1 He said to His disciples, "It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come! 2 "It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble.

Though one cite would be sufficient, the fact that three of the Gospels refer to this seems to indicate that this is an especially important point to remember. Who is making the little ones stumble now you ask??? How about Mattel and their new "lingerie Barbie"???:

In the Outlook section of the Sunday Dec. 22 Washington Post, outraged Baltimore school teacher Deborah Roffman protests yet another example of the seemingly endless trend in popular American culture to sexualize childhood...In too many cases, Roffman argues, adults have been not only willfully blind to these dangerous phenomena, but even complicit in them, at least psychologically. Including adults in positions of great influence in children’s lives, up to and including toymakers. This is where Mattel comes in...Still seeking that perfect gift for a special young girl in your life? …For a mere $45, you can surprise and delight her with a Lingerie Barbie. And what a Barbie Babe she is, decked out in her sexy black (or, if you prefer, pink) garters, stockings and obligatory stiletto heels. Even her PR is PG, giving the phrase "sex toy" a whole new level of meaning...For more go here...

There are enough people out there who cry wolf every other minute who will howl about this and be ignored because they mistake every in public hiccup to be the Abomination of Desolation. But my friends, what good can possibly come from this "toy"??? (This could be asked about a lot of the toys of today but particularly ones such as this one.)

It is not exactly a secret that if you get to children early enough that they can become wedded to bad habits or ways of thinking that they will only recover from with difficulty if they ever do. What benefit do we give to a society by stripping children of their youthful innocence??? How much further does society have to sink before the average non-Chicken-Little-extremist decides to take some proactive measures??? Mattel will not listen to morality plays but they would to their pocketbook. And therefore that is where they need to be hit and hit hard so that blood is drawn.

In my fathers day the populace would have boycotted Mattel and put them out of business not listening to their pleas of "we're sorry" and "we made a mistake". (Of course it is unlikely that any company at that time would have dared to pull a stunt such as this.)

This is not a case of merely creating in young girls a consumerist mentality coupled with a notion of "it is all about me" selfishness that is guaranteed to retard authentic spiritual growth. Or even the creation of psychosis with the "model" of the so-called "ideal woman" that virtually no woman can achieve. (Nor should they feel the need to since Barbie's build is hardly "ideal woman" but that is another subject altogether.)

Those are bad enough certainly but this is worse because it is getting at children from the realm of the sexual appetite. And this is an area that they will struggle to overcome as they grow to adulthood if they do at all. Therefore, those who would corrupt the young in such a manner deserve to be dealt with and in a manner that they can feel it: in the pocketbook.

Yes my friends, a boycott is in order here: of all Mattel products of all Mattel subsidiaries, of any and all who deal with Mattel. (No matter what they are and no matter whom such an action "inconveniences".) Further still, if Mattel decides to purchase another company to spread their franchise, that company needs to be boycotted too. Nothing less than bankrupting Mattel as an example for others who would traverse this path is in order if only to scare them into avoiding this kind of crap.

Not to get all "slippery slope" here but "lingere Barbie" today is a step towards "fully-functional porno star Barbie" tomorrow. And those who think that is a stretch should ask themselves if they ever thought the same thing about marketing a "lingere Barbie" to grade school girls. "It'll never happen" I am sure you once thought or said. Well my friends, it has and the question I have for you is this: will you fiddle while Rome burns yet again???

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Sunday, December 22, 2002

Part of a Discussion from Envoy's Comments Boxes:

Pete Vere JCL posted the essay that we co-authored last December for the Wanderer periodical. As can be expected, the subject (why Pete and I are "Traditionalists" properly so-called) caused quite a stir in the message box of the thread. One of the participants was a gentleman whom I have had disagreements with on some issues but who nonetheless would by my reckoning be a "Traditionalist" as well. Here is the text of th e dialogue:

No, the Roman canon was dramatically recast in the early fifth century and rounded out a bit in the sixth and seventh centuries.

Which Pope touched the Canon in the seventh century? Or are you referring to P ope St. Gregory the Great (†604 AD)?

Gregory the Great made some minor alterations to the prayers.

As for it being "dramatically recast," AFAIK that's speculation based on linguistic analysis (i.e., some of the language seems out of place).

There is also the fact that the venerable Roman Canon shows no traces of the pneumatological teachings of Constantinople I which was convened in 381 AD. This is evidence of a primative Christology which indicates that the Roman Ca non is possibly older then any anaphora prayer still in use today except the "Anaphora of the Apostles" of the Eithiopian Church. (Which is the Anaphora of Hippolytus.)

The first mention of the west accepting Constantinople I as ecumenical was Chalcedon i n 451 AD. It seems therefor probable that the canon was primarily recast between 400 and 450. (Fr. Fortescue postulated between 400 and 500 but it would seem based on the ancient Christology of the Roman Canon that the recasting predated Chaldedon.) There is no debate about this actually happening XXXXX, it is instead a question of exactly when it happened.

Shawn, does the Pope have the right to make changes to the Eastern Rites?

He has the authority to but I highly doubt he would. The Popes historically have altered portions of the ceremonial in the West but never have in the East. Traditionally the authority for regulating the divine worship has been that of the diocesan bishop. Experience has shown that some degree of pap al supervision over the western rites is needed as conservation of the liturgy has historically not been a western trait as it is in the east.

Could he replace the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom with the Novus Ordo?

Could he, yes. Would he, no. One of the functions of the ancient patriarches was regulating divine worship and practices and the pope would commit suicide ecumenically to try and do what you are suggesting. It would also be out of step with magisterial teaching on the subject.{1}

If so, would it be a wise decision?

Certainly not.

Do you think it might cause a schism?

In some quarters it would.

Who would be responsible for such a schism if it did?

This is hypotheticals XXXXX, I prefer to deal with actual examples. The pope would be just as responsible for at least part of the schism you refer to above as the Fathers of Trent were in some of their reactions to the 'reformers' and as St. Pius V was when he issued the Apostolic Constitution Quo Primum. If you do not think that action exasperated the Gallicanists against the papacy then I have ocean front property in Nevada to sell you.

Do you think it is possible for a Papal teaching to be legal ly valid but morally illicit?

Liceity deals with lawfulness so your question is a tautology. The power of binding and loosing would not allow for it as it would be akin to Our Lord giving His vicar the authority to dishonour the Most High with div ine sanction. This is why general laws of the universal church cannot be opposed to the natural or positive divine law so the answer to your last question is no.


{1} Leo XIII's Apostolic Letter Orientale Dignitas comes to mind as does the Second Vatican Council's Decree Orientalium Ecclesarium, Pope John Paul II's Encyclical Letter Ut Unum Sint, and his Apostolic Letter Orientale Lumen.

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