Friday, October 17, 2003

"Cohiba Ergo Sum" Dept.

I do not recommend the Disturber of the Peace BLOG enough by my own admission. To some extent this was because the weblog went into a period of infrequent updates; however the Curmudgeon has since early September been updating the weblog at least a few times a week. (Especially since the start of October.) Nonetheless, we recommend reading in particular the last five posts to the weblog from the one posted today down to the "New Neo-Stalinist" post.

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Happy Silver Anniversary Holy Father!!!


Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Periodically I have been posting links to the songs either written by or performed by Johnny Cash. Thus far all those posted have been original compositions. Tonight's song The Long Black Veil will break that trend up a bit as this song was one Johnny performed but did not write himself.

I originally came across it on The Band's 1968 debut album Music From Big Pink which I have on (shudder) LP. (I learned how to play the song on my acoustic guitar from their recording.) It is a very haunting ballad and one definitely well suited for Johnny's vocal style. He recorded the tune in December of 1964.

The Long Black Veil
(M. Wilkens/D. Dill)

Ten years ago, on a cold dark night
Someone was killed, 'neath the town hall light
There were few at the scene, but they all did agree
That the man who ran, looked a lot like me

The judge said son, what is your alibi
If you were somewhere else, then you won't have to die
I spoke not a word, thou it meant my life
For I'd been in the arms of my best friend's wife

She walks these hills in a long black veil
She visits my grave when the night winds wail
Nobody knows, nobody sees
Nobody knows but me

Oh, the scaffold is high and eternity's near
She stood in the crowd and shed not a tear
But sometimes at night, when the north wind blows
In a long black veil, she cries ov're my bones

She walks these hills in a long black veil
She visits my grave when the night winds wail
Nobody knows, nobody sees
Nobody knows but me


"Traditional Moral Principles" Dept. on Rights that Precede Man Made Laws:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

Readers of this humble weblog are not unaware of Jeff Culbreath or his weblog El Camino Real - one of our favourites to read even when there may be the occasional disagreement in areas where faithful Catholics have freedom to do so. However, while Catholicism has diversity in theological speculation, devotions, and the like, there is the required unity in faith principle and that is what occasions this weblog entry.

I happened to be tipped off by my Reformed friend Tim Enloe who posted the link to his weblog as a show of support for Jeff. But rather than read my summary of it, here are Jeff's words from the above link:

Today began with a phone call from an anxious woman who needed printing done for an important meeting this evening. This was apparently in response to our marketing efforts last month, so I was very determined to make it happen for her in spite of the short notice. She sent the file to my graphic designer, who opened it successfully: business cards for someone specializing in the "gay and lesbian community". Great.

So I called the woman back, apologized, and explained to her that it was nothing personal but that we weren't going to print this particular job because of the message. She wasn't happy. A few minutes later the phone rings. A woman asks me to "confirm" that I refused to provide printing for some gay and lesbian event. She wanted to get the story straight for "the paper". I confirmed that it was indeed true. The phone calls continued throughout the day. Most callers told me they were "getting the word out" that my business "discriminates against gays and lesbians". One caller asked me why I was a "homophobe" and told me to "enjoy being a homophobe". Finally the "head" of some gay and lesbian organization called, again to confirm that I "discriminate against gays and lesbians."

My graphic designer sent me an e-mail telling me that she doesn't agree with my views and gave me the silent treatment all morning.

You can read the rest of the sequence at Jeff's weblog and I encourage you to do so after completing this post. First and foremost, some key principles come into play here starting with the very issue of the morality involved.

The Catholic Church has in the past thirty odd years issued several documents from its dicasteries on this subject - primarily from the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. For non-Catholics unaware of the significance of this dicastery, it is second in authority only to the pope himself - and the pope can by approving the text in special session make the document his own.

Even though not of the same authority as other papal pronouncements (i.e. constitutions, apostolic/encyclical letters, etc) the doctrine in such documents is still binding on the Catholic conscience. A recent document approved by Pope John Paul II on the subject of homosexual "unions" can be read HERE. An earlier Declaration from the CDF on Sexual Ethics approved by Pope Paul VI can be read HERE. It is these that I want to draw on in highlighting the one faith that Catholics profess as it pertains to this issue.

The aforementioned Declaration (circa 1975) specifically notes the following on homosexuality as a practice and as a condition:

At the present time there are those who, basing themselves on observations in the psychological order, have begun to judge indulgently, and even to excuse completely, homosexual relations between certain people. This they do in opposition to the constant teaching of the Magisterium and to the moral sense of the Christian people.

A distinction is drawn, and it seems with some reason, between homosexuals whose tendency comes from a false education, from a lack of normal sexual development, from habit, from bad example, or from other similar causes, and is transitory or at least not incurable; and homosexuals who are definitively such because of some kind of innate instinct or a pathological constitution judged to be incurable.

In regard to this second category of subjects, some people conclude that their tendency is so natural that it justifies in their case homosexual relations within a sincere communion of life and love analogous to marriage, in so far as such homosexuals feel incapable of enduring a solitary life.

In the pastoral field, these homosexuals must certainly be treated with understanding and sustained in the hope of overcoming their personal difficulties and their inability to fit into society. Their culpability will be judged with prudence. But no pastoral method can be employed which would give moral justification to these acts on the grounds that they would be consonant with the condition of such people. For according to the objective moral order, homosexual relations are acts which lack an essential and indispensable finality. In Sacred Scripture they are condemned as a serious depravity and even presented as the sad consequence of rejecting God. {Rom 1:24-27; I Cor 6:10; I Tim 1:10}

This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and can in no case be approved of. [CDF: Declaration Persona Humana §8 (c. 1975)]

And from a recent doctrinal note on homosexual "unions":

Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law. Homosexual acts "close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved".

Sacred Scripture condemns homosexual acts "as a serious depravity... (cf. Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:10; 1 Tim 1:10). This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered". This same moral judgment is found in many Christian writers of the first centuries and is unanimously accepted by Catholic Tradition.

Nonetheless, according to the teaching of the Church, men and women with homosexual tendencies "must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided". They are called, like other Christians, to live the virtue of chastity. The homosexual inclination is however "objectively disordered" and homosexual practices are "sins gravely contrary to chastity". [CDF: Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons §2,4 (c. 2003)]

Now before anyone attempts to defend the notion that Jeff would be required to print the kind of material he was asked to print under the notion that it is "discriminatory" not to do so, note carefully that the statement from the CDF referred to "unjust discrimination." There is nothing whatsoever that is "just" in giving a tacit approval to the homosexual lifestyle as Jeff would be doing if he were to knowingly print materials that advertised moral practices that his faith condemns as "objectively disordered", "gravely contrary to charity", and "against the natural moral law."

Further still, there is no "right" to such advertising and any business has the right to refuse service to others on grounds other than race, religion, sex, national origin, or other categorizations protected by law as Greg Krehbiel well notes at this link. And among them the "right" to homosexual representation is not present. But even if it was, such a "right" would be illusory and another example of the tyrranical means whereby those who pervert the law to suit their own nefarious agendas so often stoop to. And Jeff would have every right to reject such a brownshirt approach which would have more in common with Orwell's 1984 than with any logical notion of what constitutes a "right" properly understood.

One of the reasons your weblog host ran the series on Claude Frederic Bastiat from September 2002-March 2003 at this weblog was because of the need to outline key terms that generally go undefined.{1} Among those is the concept frequently spoken of today of a "right."

I explained further the distinction between rights and free speech earlier this year and do not want to repeat myself on that subject for the most part. However, there are some principles that if nothing else I hope to pound into the minds of my readers and which provide a key to understanding why Jeff's stance cannot validly be criticized under the liberal shibboleth of "discrimination." They have a few points to them and I will address them in sequence at this time.

The first point that needs to be reinforced is the concept of certain rights that precede all legislation and to which the latter is dependent upon. There are three of these and they are properly understood as the three fundamental rights of man. These three rights are (i) the right of life and its defense (ii) the right to freedom of exercise of one's own faculties, and (iii) the right to production or the owning of property. To quote Claude Frederic Bastiat on these key concepts:

Each of us has a natural right--from God--to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but an extension of our faculties? [Claude Frederic Bastiat: The Law (c. 1850)]

Who among us will deny that Jeff's business is his property and therefore an extension of his faculties??? And as the preservation of any one of [the three fundamental rights] is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two, Jeff has every reason to rightly view this attack on his property or production as an attack on not only his property but also on his faculties and his person. (Because it is.)

As he is the father of a family, any attack on his person is an attack on those who rely on him for support: the Culbreath family. Yes my friends, this is another attack on the family when we take it down to brass tacks.

For these are not divisable rights we are talking about here. Instead, they go together as a unit and undermining one by logical extension undermines the other two. So it suffices to note here that these people are attacking the Culbreath family whether they realize it or not. And all of this because of Jeff's religious convictions that he is bound to by his conscience. The irony that is present in this situation will be dealt with later on but first another essential principle needs to be considered.

For you see, there is also the fallacy of considering something moral simply because a law sanctions it. There is a reason why Canada is going the way of Sodom and it is because activists are trying to obtain legitimacy through legal channels. This is a perversion of the law at its core. Again I quote from Claude Frederic Bastiat and in an area that undoubtedly is at the core of the situation Jeff faces -the clash between what is legal and what is moral:

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

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

Though I have linked to it before, the following article from fellow Bastiat student Walter Williams on non-politically correct thinking is well worth a read as he touches on the subject of discrimination.{2} The long and short of it is that everyone discriminates with every choice they make. The question then is not whether or not discrimination is a fact of life (as it is) but when certain uses of it are viewed as laudable or blameworthy.

Whatever your view is on Jeff's religious convictions, those who value being true to conscience and of not coercing people to violate their consciences (ala the "liberty of conscience" crowd) need to stop and consider whether they are being true to their own principles.

For one cannot demand liberty for a particular faculty for themselves which they then turn around and deny to others: this stance is blatantly hypocritical. Where are these people who tout the notion of "liberty of conscience" and yet seek to deny Jeff the liberty of his conscience??? (Via some kind of forced association or "fraternity.")

This is a two way street: if one demands liberty for their own conscience, then they must extend the same to the consciences of others who do not agree with them. Thus, the homosexual activists who would appeal to not being coerced against their conscience -by enemies either real or imagined- cannot be credible in their complaints if they are hypocritically trying to coerce the consciences of those who do not agree with them.

Oh and do not try to invoke some idea of government-enforced "fraternity" while you make demands for personal "liberty" because these two are logically antonymous of one another. The lie that liberty and fraternity can in any way co-exist was refuted over one hundred and fifty years ago:

It is impossible for me to separate the word fraternity from the word voluntary. I cannot possibly understand how fraternity can be legally enforced without liberty being legally destroyed, and thus justice being legally trampled underfoot. [Claude Frederic Bastiat: The Law (c. 1850)]

Or to again quote fellow Bastiat student Walter Williams on the matter:

[T]he true test of one's commitment to freedom of association doesn't come when he allows people to associate in ways he approves. The true test of that commitment comes when he allows people to be free to voluntarily associate in ways he deems despicable. Forced association is not freedom of association. [Walter Williams (9/4/02)]

Hopefully the above pointers will lay the axe to the notion that liberty (what liberals love to claim) and fraternity (what liberals love to try and enforce via law) can at all coexist in any fashion whatsoever. But we are not out of the woods yet because there is one more point to cover which is unavoidable in the stance Jeff is taking: is the subject of public order and whether or not Jeff's position contributes to the public order or undermines it. (And likewise if his opponents position contributes to or undermines the public order.)

The notion of "public order" is related to the "common good" and is what undergirds the Catholic understanding of true religious liberty. The Second Vatican Council defined "public order" as follows:

The right to religious freedom is exercised in human society: hence its exercise is subject to certain regulatory norms. In the use of all freedoms the moral principle of personal and social responsibility is to be observed. In the exercise of their rights, individual men and social groups are bound by the moral law to have respect both for the rights of others and for their own duties toward others and for the common welfare of all. Men are to deal with their fellows in justice and civility.

Furthermore, society has the right to defend itself against possible abuses committed on the pretext of freedom of religion. It is the special duty of government to provide this protection. However, government is not to act in an arbitrary fashion or in an unfair spirit of partisanship. Its action is to be controlled by juridical norms which are in conformity with the objective moral order.

These norms arise out of the need for the effective safeguard of the rights of all citizens and for the peaceful settlement of conflicts of rights, also out of the need for an adequate care of genuine public peace, which comes about when men live together in good order and in true justice, and finally out of the need for a proper guardianship of public morality.

These matters constitute the basic component of the common welfare: they are what is meant by public order. [Second Vatican Council: Declaration Dignitatis Humanae §7 (c. 1965)]

I reference DH here because as religious liberty is the most fundamental of all liberties, the principles which undergird it also apply to other liberties that a person can claim in society.

Lest anyone think I am applying my own interpretation to the above text, Pope John Paul II noted in an Allocution on DH that the right to religious freedom, like that of any other freedom, should be exercised with respect for the just requirements of public order. (Allocution of February 18, 1996)

In other words, as all freedoms must logically be exercised with respect for public order,{3} the question of whether Jeff and/or his opponents are undermining the public order with their stances is not a minor matter here.

There is ample evidence to substantiate the thesis that the promotion of homosexuality is no small detriment to the public order.{4} Therefore, those who in conscience cannot support such an undermining of society deserve to at a minimum have their consciences respected.

Such people should not be coerced against their conscience to involve themselves in situations where they are endorsing tacitly or otherwise positions they view as (i) gravely immoral (ii) contrary to their religious faith (iii) contrary to their conscience (iv) detrimental to the public order of society and (v) detrimental to the foundation stone of human civilization. (Referring to the family.)

More could be mentioned but I believe this is adequate to not only defend Jeff's position but also to shame those hypocrites who would try to claim for themselves certain freedoms that they would withhold from Jeff. (Such as freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.)

Oh and for the record, We at Rerum Novarum endorse the stance taken by Jeff Culbreath and include him and his family in our prayers. Further, we exhort our readers to support him with your prayers, your business, and also to direct others you know to his business who are in need of printing work. And, if we may be so bold to exhort our fellow members of St. Blog's who have not yet weighed in on this to please spread the word as well that prayers for Jeff and potential contacts for his business may increase among those of good will.

It is not true that the legislator has absolute power over our persons and property. The existence of persons and property preceded the existence of the legislator, and his function is only to guarantee their safety.

It is not true that the function of law is to regulate our consciences, our ideas, our wills, our education, our opinions, our work, our trade, our talents, or our pleasures. The function of law is to protect the free exercise of these rights, and to prevent any person from interfering with the free exercise of these same rights by any other person.

Since law necessarily requires the support of force, its lawful domain is only in the areas where the use of force is necessary. This is justice.

Every individual has the right to use force for lawful self- defense. It is for this reason that the collective force -- which is only the organized combination of the individual forces --may lawfully be used for the same purpose; and it cannot be used legitimately for any other purpose.

Law is solely the organization of the individual right of self-defense which existed before law was formalized. Law is justice. [Frederic Bastiat: The Law (c. 1850)]


{1} Plus so many people are unaware of his excellent work and the wonderful antedote it supplies to the shoddy reasoning prevalent today on the law and its function in society.

{2} And highlights the absurdity of the "logic" of those who inconsistently apply that concept.

{3} One does not have to be a Catholic to note the inherent logic in this outlook.

{4} See this link for details. Though my friend John Pacheco did not win in his campaign for the legislature up in Canada, that does not mean that the principles he ran on -which mirror Jeff's principles- are invalid. Indeed they are quite valid from not only moral and religious standpoints but also from sociological and anthropological ones as well. (All of these are covered at the aforementioned link.)

[Update: I responded later on to clarify a few points raised about this entry from a couple of concerned Catholics. That clarifying thread can be read HERE. - ISM 10/30/03]

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Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Today is the birthday of my aunt Sharon (lapsed Catholic), an friend named Sharon (who attends an SSPX chapel with her husband and family), and also John Milner. Please pray for the first two and for the repose of the soul of the latter.

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Points to Ponder:

Only in theocracy is a man free from men, for he serves not men but God. Therein lies the secret of that child-like obedience, so incomprehensible to the outsider, which the Catholic gives to his Church, an obedience whereby he freely and cheerfully submits his own little notions and wishes to the will of Christ expressed in the action of authority; an obedience whereby his own small and limited self is enlarged to the measure of the great self of the Church. That is no corpse-like obedience or slave mentality, but a profoundly religious act, an absolute devotion to the Will of Christ which rules the Church, a service of God. And so this obedience is not cowardly and weak, but strong and ready for sacrifice, manly and brave even in the presence of kings. [Karl Adam: The Spirit of Catholicism Ch. II (c. 1920)]


Monday, October 13, 2003

I wanted to recommend to my readers to check out Tim Enloe's Societas Christiana BLOG for some excellent entries from a Reformed perspective. Now obviously I will not agree with Tim on some issues{1} however I am not for that reason about to refer to him as an "uneasy ally" ala my good friend The Secret One. For surely someone who wants to see a Christendom restored to where faith is seen as the central and animating feature of society -however their view differs in micro details from ours- is on the same page as those who want to restore what is traditionally referred to as the "Social Kingship of Christ." These goals are not as mutually exclusive as was once presumed.

For what can (or should) contribute to the restoration of Christian unity more effectively than an alliance to defend those elements of society which require defending if society is to even exist at all??? This does not mean that there is no room for theological disputation of course. However, such should always seek to unite and not divide whenever this is possible. After all, there will be enough divisions in outlooks without deliberately contributing to greater fragmentation.

Far too often do people who try to defend triumphalism bring forward the statement that Our Lord said "he who is not with me is against me" (Matt. xii,30; Luke xi,23). However, they ignore the fact that Our Lord also said "he that is not against us is for us" (Mark ix,40; Luke ix,50) and He said this at the very moment that the Apostles were attempting to exclude others from the pale who "did not walk with us." In short, there is truth that those not with Christ are against Him; however, it is the heighth of arrogance to presume that someone who does not look like us or who does not think like us is automatically beyond the pale. These are times of ecumenical jihad my friends and it behooves all of us to presume that those not against us are for us in macro principles if not in micro outlines.


{1} One example is on the subject of papal primacy - my last response on which can be read HERE.