Saturday, August 23, 2003

"One From the Vault" Dept. on the SSPX:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

The subject of my involvement with the SSPX is not one I like to talk in too much detail about for many reasons. However, as there have been a number of inquiries about it over the years, I have as a result given it no small amount of thought about posting some material on the subject. And a couple more emails in the past week asking about specifics with regards to my involvement convinced me that this is probably a subject I should touch on at least a little bit - not for its own sake but instead for the pastoral instruction that such a situation contains. So that is how I will approach the subject in this response - in true ressourcement fashion - being that I will do so with a slightly modified text to a reply written last August. (I ran across it when cleaning out my lycos account of some older emails.)

The material in the email touched on some of the pastoral aspects of dealing with problems such as the SSPX schism amongst friends. With only the most minor of adjustments, I post it here for reader consideration.

The response material will be in regular font and any footnotes added at this time or extracted from the previous text for the sake of continuity will be noted in regular coloured font and appended to the response. To help with avoiding confusion here, the previous notes will be in bracketed Roman numerals and posted at the end of the thread. The current notes or previous text insertion which have been appended to the end of the text for continuity will be in darkblue font. Of these distinctions, footnotes 1-3 and 5 are new and footnotes 4 and 6-7 are previous intext comments which have been moved to the notes section. Anyway, without further ado, here we go...

[The SSPX subject] is a delicate issue indeed. A bit of personal disclosure may be of assistance since there seems to be a misperception in some minds of what I think of the average garden variety adherent to "trad" groups - as opposed to the corporate structures of such groups.

I have many friends still involved with SSPX. Because of my fathers death and seven other family members the past two and a half years,{1} the climate for discussing these issues with them has never been proper. My work is not unknown to them but very few of them have a computer and the one copy of my treatise I printed last year for my former pastor he has not gotten around to reading yet because it was misplaced in the move and he is constantly on mission and unable to sit down very often and clear his head. (Which is fine because I want to give him the revised version when I finish it. Much easier reading as the material will be divided into more sections, a few subjects I passed over or dealt with very briefly in passing will be developed a bit and the work itself properly parcelled for print publication.){2}

At get togethers where I am amongst my former church mates (such as the last 4th of July) conversations at times drift towards the Church situation. (Oftentimes, these are held at my friend J's house: J is of a similar mould as my father personality-wise, they were good friends.) I do more listening there than I do talking and when it gets into areas where I should step forward, because of the aforementioned climate situation I have thus far tended to politely find ways of avoiding this. Usually when at J's place I will go into the living room, pick up his acoustic guitar and either thumb-strum the chords to some songs quietly or quietly pick out some blues or jazz riffs or experiment with scale runs. {3} (Though on the fourth I actually went out and played 4 on 1 badminton with some of the children.) Basically, if asked specific questions I will give a response but only then. And I instinctively cut the subjects off before they reach any point of getting polemical.{4} The climate has been changing for me to more directly address these issues now with them - and apparently a development came up which may make doing this necessary: the knowledge of the new church pastor over there that I have been critical of the catechial formation in general and SSPX (and the hierarchy) in particular.{i}

Apparently word got out to the new pastor of the Church (who conducted my grandmothers funeral mass last September) about my treatise - I think the mention of it being prepared for a censor was what spurred the subject. He now apparently wants to stridently debate on the subject so I have to temper respect for him as a man and priest of God with the desire to confront him and crush to powder every last bone of the SSPX's credibility. It will not make for a very pleasant fall period in that regard - particularly since I have family and friends at that church and the Society's trackrecord of denouncements of critics from the pulpit over the years - not to mention harassment - will make things very difficult with my family and friends there who are also on good terms with the pastor.{5}

I have stated without hesitation that some of the best people I know are SSPX people - people who go for the mass and not the politics. (And deal with the at-times stridently schismatic and borderline heretical sermons that the new pastor gives.){6} But that kind of at-times vitriol is not shared by the rank and file of the parish.

When I say "rank and file" I mean the people who have questions - even occasionally strenuous ones - but who do not seek to denigrate the Holy Father as most of the priests of that group do.{7} People who have bought into a lot of lies and psychologically *want* them to be true on a subconscious level because otherwise justification for their state of objective schism cannot be maintained and they know it. (It will really tear at me to go over the issue of the sacraments with them.)

I do not and never would presume to judge them subjectively. But objectively there is no other judgment that one can make then there is formal schism as declared by the Supreme Authority. Subjectively the question of formal adherence to the schism is a touchier subject - though it must be addressed also. The hermeneutic I use - and will continue to use - is their fruits, what they say, their manifested habitual way of thinking, etc. Hence many of my friends - including my former pastor who was transferred last year{ii} are (by my observation which is of course not infallible) in various degrees of material schism. But some of them - including the current pastor at that church - are (by the same criteria) formally schismatic. Or at least by any reasonable criteria of evaluation, that result is unavoidable to not conclude with.

It may seem all easy when we have the internet and papers are read apart from circumstances that prompted their composition. (Much the way most people read magisterial statements actually but I digress.) But to those who have friends in this movement - and family also - that side of the equation is often not taken into consideration. And frankly, it should be.

Original Notes:

{i} This is rather strange since my main criticism was that they should use the Pope St. Pius X Catechism instead of the Baltimore as the former is a superior product in presentation, clarity, and charity.

{ii} This is NOT the same priest who wants to take me on btw. Heck last time my former pastor and I got together we had dinner at Jazz Alley one night (with other friends and former parishoners), ordered a pizza the next night, and discussed over wine and homemade liquior everything from Vatican II to mysticism to liturgical chant to the various religious orders to St. Thomas to the liturgy to the Louis Armstrong/Miles Davis debate, etc in a very enjoyable and non-polemical atmosphere. Unfortunately my humidor was empty or we would have topped it all off with some double caronas. Oh well, there is always next time...

Current Notes and Previous Text Insertions:

{1} Since that writing there were at least two more deaths. (I say "at least two more" because there may have been others who are not coming to mind at the moment - trust me when almost a dozen family members and friends pass away in less than three and a half years, it all starts to blur at some point.) Of the two I can recall one was a family friend who died on December 11, 2002 and the other was my fathers step-mother who died on November 16, 2002. May they rest in peace.

{2} The above-mentioned revision was started four months after I wrote this, finished in January of 2003, and I hope to get in touch with my former pastor before this year is out to hand him a copy of the revised text. He still has not completely unpacked his stuff after over two years at his new residence: that is how busy they are keeping him as he pastors a church and logs enough frequent flier miles to get a free ticket to the moon. (I kid you not.)

{3} The situation with J's family has not improved as of late. I also decided for this reason to wait until the Holy Father's announcement about what he plans to do with the indult before starting any protracted discussions on this subject. Until then I will answer questions when asked but will not play the role of the inquisitor with them.

{4} There is a reason why they say "never discuss religion or politics" after all. (Whoever "they" are.) I do not shy away from either; however I do take note of the fact that there is a season for strident insisting of abstract principles and a season for diplomacy. Not the easiest tightrope to walk but walk it we all must do if we want to make a long-term difference in building bridges rather than creating islands.

{5} Somehow this actually was avoided last year. I am sure when he hears about contact with my former pastor that this will cause a resumption of the tension. And he will hear about it too because word travels fast in those circles.

{6} This is a shame too because the man is actually a decent orator. He is not of course on the level of any of the Dominicans at Blessed Sacrament; nonetheless he does have a gift in this area.

{7} My former pastor was a rare exception here: he was clearly not happy with some of what had happened but he chose to be constructive rather than destructive if you will. He has an intelligence that the current pastor lacks for many subjects - not only theological subjects but particularly the subject of history as he used to be a history teacher. He would draw on a lot of that as well as contemporary problems in his sermons. The one drawback if you will was that he is not an orator. As a result, he could stumble at times - particularly when he was just getting going. (Though he almost always finished strong.)

I believe his overall refusal to play the game of carping on "modernist Rome" and other such epithets did not endear him to the fringe who were in some positions of influence at the chapel. And I also believe his transfer was a result of behind the scenes machinations by those sorts who wanted a more "authentic Society priest". But that is all I will say on that subject.

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Fr. Rob Johansen illustrates radtrad absurdity via parody.

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Points to Ponder:
(A continuation of the previous thread)

[A]lthough all citizens, without exception, can and ought to contribute to that common good in which individuals share so advantageously to themselves, yet it should not be supposed that all can contribute in the like way and to the same extent. No matter what changes may occur in forms of government, there will ever be differences and inequalities of condition in the State. Society cannot exist or be conceived of without them. Some there must be who devote themselves to the work of the commonwealth, who make the laws or administer justice, or whose advice and authority govern the nation in times of peace, and defend it in war. Such men clearly occupy the foremost place in the State, and should be held in highest estimation, for their work concerns most nearly and effectively the general interests of the community. Those who labor at a trade or calling do not promote the general welfare in such measure as this, but they benefit the nation, if less directly, in a most important manner. We have insisted, it is true, that, since the end of society is to make men better, the chief good that society can possess is virtue. Nevertheless, it is the business of a well constituted body politic to see to the provision of those material and external helps "the use of which is necessary to virtuous action." {Thomas Aquinas, On the Governance of Rulers, 1, 15 (Opera omnia, ed. Vives, Vol. 27, p. 356)} Now, for the provision of such commodities, the labor of the working class—the exercise of their skill, and the employment of their strength, in the cultivation of the land, and in the workshops of trade—is especially responsible and quite indispensable. Indeed, their co-operation is in this respect so important that it may be truly said that it is only by the labor of working men that States grow rich. Justice, therefore, demands that the interests of the working classes should be carefully watched over by the administration, so that they who contribute so largely to the advantage of the community may themselves share in the benefits which they create—that being housed, clothed, and bodily fit, they may find their life less hard and more endurable. It follows that whatever shall appear to prove conducive to the well-being of those who work should obtain favorable consideration. There is no fear that solicitude of this kind will be harmful to any interest; on the contrary, it will be to the advantage of all, for it cannot but be good for the commonwealth to shield from misery those on whom it so largely depends for the things that it needs. [Pope Leo XIII: Encyclical Letter Rerum Novarum §34 (c. 1891)]


Today is Our Birthday!!!

Not personal birthday but the one year anniversary of Rerum Novarum. And rarity of rarities, I have virtually no idea how to commemorate this occasion. So I will leave that for the readers of this weblog and for fellow members of St. Blog's to come up with if they want to. I only ask that there be separate lines so I know who is saying what. Three will work as I see it, one for those who either love the weblog or who read it with interest regularly, one for those whose views are more ambiguous, and one for those who want to burn us in effigy - or some equivalent of that anyway.

It seems appropriate to commemorate today with a points to ponder segment from the masterful compendium of ressourcement thinking that was Pope Leo XIII's encyclical from which this weblog was named. (Not that this humble weblog belongs in the same library as that great encyclical of course.) See the next installment for details...


Friday, August 22, 2003

"None Dare Call it a Volokh Conspiracy" Dept.
(A Rerum Novarum Triple Slam)

It has been at least a month and a half since I have looked in on the folks at The Volokh Conspiracy as far as a public weblog department installation. (To say nothing about JYB of which I hope to get to this weekend sometime.) So without further ado, let us get to it starting with the Lord High Executioner of the Conspiracy Professor Eugene Volokh:

Just sort of a legal curiousity. The Starbucks I frequent now has a sign: We can no longer accept bills larger than $20. They are following many gas stations in the area that don't accept bills larger than $20 "after dark".

Is this legal? While I am generally agreed to the view that businesses should be able to set their own practices (and customers can go elsewhere if they don't like them), currency issued by the U.S. is another matter and I thought, legally, Starbucks has to accept a $50 for "all debts public and private". There is also the issue of keeping confidence in a fiat currency, which is in the best interest of the U.S. government.

A great question, and I think I have an answer to it, though I should say that this is more an educated guess than the product of real research...Click Here to Continue...

I can see nothing to dispute about Professor Volokh's educated guess on this subject. Nor for that matter with the following one:

THE MEANING OF WORDS: A reader writes, apropos my post on the "traitor" libel lawsuit:

You write:

The site makes clear that by "traitor" it means those people who "do not support our President's decisions."

Lewis Carroll writes:

When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."

Is this considered judicial doctrine now? As long as you make clear that even though the words you use are actionable, what you mean by them is not, anything goes? Can I shout, "FIRE! By which I mean the Holy Spirit!" in a crowded theater? May I walk up to you in a dark alley and demand, "Your money or your life!" as long as I come up with some more benign interpretation of the phrase to tack on? Can I define "k.i.l.l." to mean "konquer in 'lectoral landslide" and go around talking about politicians of various stripes?

The reader is of course right that words do have meaning, and the law must recognize their meaning. But it's a mistake to infer from this that words have only one meaning, that's unchanging across contexts. It is a fact of social life that the word "traitor" means different things in different situations. Sometimes it means someone who has committed the crime of treason. Sometimes it means someone who you think has violated some moral obligation (that's how "traitor" was used in the labor context, in the Austin case). Sometimes it means someone who you think is working, albeit perfectly lawfully, against the interests of his country.

Perhaps it would be better if human language, as it was actually used, was more rigid and unambiguous, with different words always being used to capture these different meanings, and with no-one ever speaking figuratively or hyperbolically. But that's not the way human beings actually talk. And the law is built for humans, not Vulcans, and it recognizes the reality of what words actually mean to listeners, not what they should mean...Click Here to Continue...

Many a dispute in matters philosophical, political, theological, or social subjects could be resolved - or at least well mitigated - by a recognition of this principle. But I digress.

I will not comment on Eugene's view on the subject of homosexual marriage except to say that I retract my previous assertion that he would be my first Supreme Court nominee if I was ever elected president. This is just too pivotal of an issue for the preservation of civilization and on such issues I do not well tolerate libertarian social waffling. So move him from Supreme Court nominee to a position of advisor to the mythical "McElhinney Administration Cabinet" and let us move on now to other articles in this department update. The following is from David Bernstein:

THE INEXPLICABLE POPULARITY OF FDR: I'm reading the very interesting The New Dealers' War by Thomas Fleming, a vigorous attack on the Roosevelt Administration's wartime policies, on which I will probably have more to say soon. For now I'll limit myself to the following. Out of curiosity, I looked up some reviews of the book, including reviewers, and one of the latter wrote this: "The book I am really looking forward to is the one that explains how FDR presided over 10 [sic] years of economic depression, and is celebrated for 'saving us' from same." Something I've always wondered about, too. Why is Hoover infamous for presiding over four years of Depression, not terribly uncommon in American history, while Roosevelt is much-beloved for presiding over an unprecedented two more presidential terms of Depression, while much of the rest of the world economy was recovering [edit: at a faster pace]? Of course, Roosevelt tried to blame the nation's economic travails on the obstinacy of the Supreme Court, but, even if we accept the highly questionable notion that the NIRA, etc., would have pulled the U.S. out of the Depression, shouldn't Roosevelt still take the blame for choosing as his means to combat the Depresssion balatantly unconstitutional legislation that the Court was obligated to invalidate (9-0, with liberals Stone, Brandeis, and Cardozo in the 9)?...Click Here to Continue...

I want to focus on a post script added to the above article before concluding this update:

Pejman links to another article suggesting that the New Deal prolonged the Depression. The article is based on a new book, FDR's Folly: How Roosevelt and His New Deal Prolonged the Great Depression due out next month. Sounds like interesting reading.

In case any of the readers are wondering what We at Rerum Novarum happen to think about this very unconventional thesis; for the record your humble servant has not a shred of doubt that it is correct - conventional wisdom be damned. Indeed I have made the argument many times in political discussions that on the whole the New Deal prolonged and made worse the Great Depression.

This created a "need" to go to war to fix the problem via the industrial activity required to rebuild and rearm a nation whose military equipment had become run down and (in some cases) rather obsolete. Obviously this is a very simplistic outline of a rather complex subject but I submit that it is true to form and perhaps sometime I can explain my reasons for seeing things this way. However, right now I will simply leave that point out there for you to mull over.

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Thursday, August 21, 2003

Guest Editorial on Public Morality Viz. Legalization of Drugs:
(By Albert Cipriani)

As one who used to spend plenty of time amongst the internet infidel types, I find no small amount of amusement in the continual attempts by such individuals to posit the most complex of solutions to the most basic of all questions: where did we come from. Recently there was a discussion thread on this subject on a list I occasionally participate in - a few of the bits can be read at the following links:

Dr. Art Sippo as quoted in Points to Ponder at Rerum Novarum (blogged August 14, 2003)

Part of a conversation I had about atheistic evolution on a discussion list contemporary to Art's comments above (blogged August 15, 2003)

I bring all of this up because the very subject of morality as it pertains to a particular issue (drug legalization) is currently being debated at the new infidels forum. This guest editorial is part of that debate. The person my friend Albert Cipriani (the "theist of this exchange) is debating admits to "leaning towards" not believing in God. Nonetheless, I post here for your review the first rebuttal of that exchange by my friend Albert in the form of a Guest Editorial with a few minor adjustments made. (Including restructuring it into "proposition" and "rebuttal" form.) The "propositions" will be in black font and the "rebuttals" to them in darkblue font. For the rest of this weblog entry, Albert has the floor...


"I need no convincing that using drugs such as cocaine and heroine is bad.. All I am saying is that it is morally wrong for the government to deny the individual the right to do what he wishes so long as he harms none other."

Once you are convinced of what is immoral, I would not think I should have to convince you that it should be proscribed by the government. If you conceive of democratic governance as nothing more or less than the extension or extrapolation of our collective sense of morality, then you have no conceptual basis from which to leverage your complaints against democratically passed laws reflecting that morality.

The most successful political lie of all time that is still making its rounds is "You can't legislate morality," when, in fact, all legislation is nothing but an expression of the morality of democracy's majority. Whether a law is good or bad is irrelevant to the fact that its passage depends upon the majority's perception that it is good.

Ergo, my task here should only be to convince you that drugs are immoral. That you would vote according to that morality and support laws predicated upon that morality should - like the dawn that follows the night - follow axiomatically.

But even if my dawn did not follow your night, your un-argued assertion that the government ought not to pass a law that "harms none other" than the law-breaker does not follow linearly. That is, it is circular, the fallacy of circulus in demonstrando, an assertion that assumes its conclusion like a snake that's swallowing its own tail.

You assume that the harm an immoral act wrecks upon the immoral actor harms no others. Do you not know "for whom the bell tolls"? Did you not hear that "No man is an island"? There is no such thing as victimless crimes because a crime against oneself diminishes us all.

For example, I was riding a motorcycle during the time that the helmet laws in California were passed, and I rode over the objections of my fellow cyclists. They argued as you argue. Each said he had a "right to do what he wishes," even if that meant spilling his brains out on the pavement.

This so-called "right" is an appeal to the fiction that we are autonomous -- rather than integral -- members of society. It ignores the fact that when a helmet-less head fries its brains on the pavement, our collective investment in its education goes up in smoke. Such a brainless person wastes their family's and friend's emotional investment in them, too. And this assumes the happy prospect that this sorry example of Homo Sapiens is successful. Should said individual fail to compound his empty-headed condition by spilling what brains he has out, he obliges society to hold his feeding straw for the remainder of his vegetative existence. Ergo, no man has a "right" to oblige society to pick up after the mess he's gotten himself into by doing "what he wishes."

"Free will is the greatest good man has.. So let us not trample excessively on the most precious thing we have of all."

A gift denotes a gift-giver. I congratulate you if you mean to say that God's gift of freedom is the most exalted gift with which He has endowed some segments of His creation. But our debate is not about God. Ergo, in the context of Godless morality, our free will must not be apprehended as a gift but as a mere attribute on a par with the attribute of our opposable thumbs. So let's not get all sacrosanct about our gift of freedom. This isn't the place for it.

Our job as parents, educators, and clerics is to mess with other people's freedom. Your characterization of our obligation to guide the uninformed down the paths of righteousness as us trampling upon other people's gift of freedom is sheer demagoguery.

"Good laws are those that contribute to the greatest good."

Surely, intelligence is a great good that contributes to the common good of all. You'd be eating your breakfast eggs raw, without toast, on your hands and knees, naked and without a napkin were it not for the intelligence of others.

But according to your premise, a good law would be any law that would "contribute to the greatest good." So if intelligence contributes to the greater good of mankind, laws that raise our collective intelligence must, by your lights, be good laws. So [do] you approve of Hitler's IQ enhancing eugenic laws whereby he liquidated the mentally infirm to preempt them from breeding? If not, why not?

"As we have our free will impeded by law, we lose overall good."

Law has everything to do with our actions and nothing to do with our free will. I've wanted to rob a bank all my adult life, ever since I was a teller at Bank of America. It's no crime. Ergo, your statement that law impedes free will illustrates that you have no clear conception of either.

"Your entire argument is flawed. [it] has any meaning to me or anyone else whatsoever."

I see. Thank you for sharing that. Try to write an exposition of my argument's many flaws.

"I see no reason (read: you have provided no reason) why the government should, or even has the right to, force people to be rational about everything they do."

Grossly exaggerating your opponent's position does not win you any points. We all should, and all have the obligation (not "right") to convince (not "force") people to be rational. Why do you object to so imminently and self-evidently compassionate an objective? The laws of our democratic government, as but an extension of our collectivized good will, are likewise an expression of compassion, not oppression.

Self-evidently bad laws emanate from the uncompassionate will of the majority trumping the will of the minority with laws from which the majority is immune. It was against such self-seeking proclivities that our supreme court was established (and has been failing to fulfill that mandate ever since).

For example, our progressive tax code takes money from the rich minority and gives it to the poor majority. As such, our tax laws violate the basic tenet of equal treatment. They exist as a testament to selective treatment and are thus prima-facie cases of bad law. But those who advocate drug laws are willing themselves to abide by those same drug laws. Thus, drug laws must be seen as a legitimately moral expression of their compassionate will to garner a collective good.

"You are implying that if a tornado was to kill 146 people, that would be good. Conversely, the 'unnatural' chemotherapy would be bad, because it is not caused in nature."

I never once used the analogous term "nature" to mean the birds-and-the-bees "nature" you are referring to. I used the term "natural law" as a synonym for empiricism. Hence, there is simply no excuse for your mis-categorization of my argument as nature = good. So cartoon-ish a characterization of my position is unworthy of a response, yet I will provide one just the same, just in case you were being serious.

Given the state of medical knowledge today, chemotherapy is a rational -- and therefore good -- response to cancer. Chemotherapy is as rational today as bloodletting was for two millennia. And 50 years hence, no doubt, new knowledge will consign chemotherapy (alongside bloodletting) to the same barbarously irrational dustbin of history.

For our reasoning is only as good as our knowledge. Since our knowledge is always incomplete, our reasoning predicated upon that incomplete knowledge must also be lacking. Hence, rational acts will not necessarily be objectively correct. BUT THEY WILL NECESSARILY ALWAYS BE SUBJECTIVELY CORRECT.

That is, when acting rationally, our incorrect behavior makes us objectively wrong, but subjectively right. Fallible conclusions rationally arrived at only prove we were ignorant, not immoral. Conversely, irrational conclusions embraced by a rational creature -- even if their consequences are not perceived to be incorrect or at all harmful, immoral, or ignorant - prove that that creature has violated the natural law, acted immorally, and sinned against his own nature.

As for tornadoes, as with all inanimate things, they are -- to borrow a phrase from Nietzsche -- "beyond good and evil." They simply are. What they do is beyond the purview of morality for no volition is involved and volition is morality's prerequisite.

But all tornadoes are good in the amoral metaphysical sense of them linking up to the chain of cause and effect that stretches uninterrupted back to the Big Bang. In this sense tornadoes are very good no matter how many people they kill and, to quote the movie "Twister," they are representative of the awesome "finger of God."

Recapitulation of Rebuttal

I've defined reality and the good as one and the same thing, the unfolding through time of cause and effect, otherwise known as the natural law. Conversely, by default, I've defined the bad as any usurpation of a cause's effect or of an effect's cause, otherwise known as a violation of the natural law. The only known power in our universe capable of a usurpation of cause and effect is the immoral power of free will that makes us violators of and fugitives from the natural law. From this metaphysical explication of the good and the bad, I've shown that recreational drug taking violates the natural law and so, by extension, ought to also be a violation of secular law.

You have [by contrast] argued absolutely nothing. Your 1,200-word opening statement distills down to complaints, queries, exaggerations, and the following four un-argued flatfooted assertions:

1) Good laws are those that contribute to the greatest good.

2) As we have our free will impeded by law, we lose overall good.

3) We should only make illegal actions that harm others.

4) Drugs do not directly harm anyone but the user.

Thus far, this has not been a debate. It has been you complaining about my argument while not supporting one of your own.

Thesis Extension:

The one string of intellectual justification clothing all the shameful arguments for legalized drug abuse is that drugs are pleasureful. Of course, pleasure, by definition, is hardly an intellectual justification.

Sins of the flesh are like that. They appeal to our likes. Like our tastes in foods, when it comes to our likes, we either have them or don't have them. And having them, we cannot be convinced not to have them. but only be convinced not to actualize them.

Ergo, arguments against sins of the flesh always appeal to the objective consequences our likes involve, not to the subjective pleasures our likes evoke. Consequently, the counter-arguments for sins of the flesh appeal to the mitigation of these objective consequences, e.g., condoms, penicillin, divorce. Thus, the argument is one-sided, all on the side of us moralists; whereas, the libertarians' counter-argument is the legal equivalent of "extenuating circumstances," the colloquial equivalent of "an excuse."

In short, arguments for making drugs illegal are based upon objectively verifiable consequences. All the counter arguments reduce to a "Yeah, but..." statement, a morally indefensible stance in a quasi-pragmatic quagmire.


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Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Many know of St. Thomas Aquinas and his well-earned reputation as the Church's quintessential theologian. Not as many though are familiar with the man who taught him St. Albert the Great the man not unjustly referred to as "The Universal Doctor" for the breadth and depth of his knowledge.

St. Thomas exceeded him in some respects this is true; however the Angelic Doctor was more limited in his scope of expert knowledge than his master was. And it is no exaggeration to say that there would be no Angelic Doctor without Albertus Magnus not only because Albert was his teacher but also because Albert was the first to see the brilliance of his pupil and predict that he would change the world. (An endeavour to which Albert himself sought to help cultivate in divers manners.)

Anyway, I hope you find the above link of some interest. (Thanks Mark Shea.) It coincides with an email I received yesterday from an organization trying to raise funds to translate the entire corpus of Albert's Latin works into English in the belief that this endeavour would help in correcting some areas of imbalance in modern society.

As a ressourcement minded person myself, I of course am all in favour of such "back to the sources" kind of solutions over pure novelties. Did I mention that I see in Pope John Paul II a kind of modern Albertus Magnus??? Anyway, may Albert's works be translated and widely read. And may the Magisterium of Pope John Paul II (who will also be known to history as "the Great") succeed in regenerating civilization in the tradition of St Thomas and St. Albert.

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Monday, August 18, 2003

The Aggiornamento of Rerum Novarum:

This is not a complete update in the sense that it (i) only contains weblog entries and (ii) it only goes up to July 19th.{1} I also (iii) did not add any blogs, magisterial texts, or other links to this update either. (The latter may be tended to with a mini-update in a day or three which -if I do- will focus on blogs, website, magisterial texts, and other links.) Anyway, without further ado, here we go...

General Political/Social Subjects:

On "Rights" and Freespeech (Parts I and II) [>>>]

The Framers Know Best [>>>]

I intend to extend that thread by several sections in the coming month as well - with the first addition to it being added possibly by as early as Thursday.

Political Miscellany:

On Supreme Court "Constructionists, Whores, and Termites" [>>>]

In light of the recent court rulings, I think it is time to began differentiating between the kinds of justices we have on the court. And I think my terms -and divisions of justices- are quite accurate here.

"Lie to Me" Dept. [>>>]

On "Traditionalism" Properly-So-Called:

Excerpts from Cardinal Newman's Letter to the Duke of Norfolk On "Divided Allegiences" (Parts I-III) [>>>]

This is a prime example of properly-constituted Traditionalist attitudes as espoused by Cardinal Newman so it seemed fitting to add it here.

On "Traditionalism" Falsely-So-Called:

On the Integralist-Traditionalist Connection (Parts I-V) [>>>]

Mr. Smith's Misunderstandings (Parts I-VI) [>>>]

Fatal Flaws of False Traditionalism With Albert Cipriani (Parts I-VII) [>>>]

On Controverted Issues:

On Reflections on Covenant and Mission With Christopher Blosser [>>>]

For those who think I was attributing to His Eminence positions he does not hold - as some self-styled "traditionalists" have opined - well, they can read my last response to Kevin Tierney on true and false "traditionalism" where this subject is addressed. (See the archives for it though as I will not post it to the margin until the next major update.)

SecretAgentMan vs. Rerum Novarum On Communion Posture and the Authority of Bishops (Parts I-V) [>>>]

The above link is simply the extension of the series thus far. There will be more added to it in the coming week or so as a certain man-who-lives-a-life-of-danger has responded to the above and by the tenure of his recent blog cogitations is clearly is in need of a little ...shall we say "persuasion"... Rerum Novarum style...

A Few Notes on Dignitatis Humanae [>>>]

Some very early morning pre-chai musings on DH from about a month ago.

Each and every one of the aforementioned links are hereby posted motu proprio by virtue of my authority as Sovereign Thane and Lord High Executioner of Rerum Novarum. I declare that they are to have residency in the side margin where they have duly been placed forthwith and furthermore decree that they are to remain so established as a perpetual observance at this weblog all things to the contrary notwithstanding.


{1} For those who have not been following my pattern with these updates over the months, I usually do updates to within two weeks of the date of the posted update. On occasion I will even post an entry or so that is less than two weeks from the day of the update but as a rule I prefer not to do this.

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Lane Core will be taking a break for a couple of weeks from blogging. For you newbie bloggers out there (like The Secret One), this is a subtle hint to catch up in reading what they have done as of late. Fortunately with Lane's stuff that is not a problem as his stuff is always of interest. Rest up Lane and I look forward to your return soon to the blogosphere.


We at Rerum Novarum have added Ardeth Wood to our prayer petitions for the eternal repose of her soul. Please do likewise.

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The essay I referred to yesterday that needed some adjustments has now been adjusted and is available for reading now at this link.

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Sunday, August 17, 2003

Points to Ponder:

In a real sense, inculturation is an extension of the Incarnation. Our God chose a specific people, a specific family, a specific woman, to be born to. He became a specific man who in all ways but sin shared in the human experience -- not just in a generic sense, but in the sense of one man living among one people.

Inculturation, in its highest and best sense, shows that -- in the ultimate paradox -- this specificity has become universal. And the best example of the universal specificity of the Catholic faith is its saints. These saints came from vastly different backgrounds and cultures to achieve extraordinary holiness in Christ. They did it not by spurning their heritage and people, but by sanctifying their culture and uplifting their people. [Michelle of And Then? (8/13/03)]


Writings Update:

Both lists of web writings (my treatise "appendix f" and this "miscellaneous writings" link posted to the weblog were updated as of August 15 and posted to the web as of last night or this morning. (I am not sure which.)

Included on the template revisions are the essay link posted here yesterday - to refresh the memory a bit it was the one Pete Vere and I did for the December 6, 2001 issue of The Wanderer. Also included is a link to another piece that Pete and I did for The Wanderer which was published on March 6, 2003. That piece (on the suspension of Fr. Nicholas Gruner) can be read HERE.

The third piece was originally written either for a blog entry or for a periodical publication. However, it was eventually too long for the latter and not of the sort which could be cut down in length. I also decided against posting it to the blog for a few reasons so it was made into a web essay. The new essay complements Pete Vere's recent brief response to a particular critic concerning our Wanderer piece on Fr. Gruner. I would read Pete's piece first since mine was written as a complement to it.

[Update: I have decided to flesh out a little bit of the introduction and also (in the process) found a few grammatical glitches and typos to fix. So if you run across the latter in reading the piece, worry not as I am working on them as of this update. - ISM 7:20 AM]