Saturday, November 04, 2006

Miscellaneous Threads Worth Noting:

Had some of these around for a while and some others are of more recent vintage. Nonetheless, to touch on them briefly...

Poll: U.S. support for UN drops 13% in two years

Hopefully that poll is off at least by the usual margin of error to the conservative side (if not more)...

Verdict due in Saddam trial over executions

Riddle me this: would we be any closer to a trial verdict for Hussein if we had placed trust in the UN???

Republican Surge in the Senate???

As readers of this weblog know, your host is not surprised by this in the slightest.

Iraq on the verge of nukes in 2002???

Nice find by Beth at VRWC. And while it certainly provides support to the hypothesis that military intervention in Iraq was necessary around the time it was unertaken (if not overdue), it seems appropriate in light of the recent findings to enunciate something I have said many times before.

When it comes to the mountains of information on the Iraq ware subject, I am left wondering how many people are left spinning their heads and frantically having to revise (to at least a small degree) their positions on every piece of transient information they receive. By stark contrast, your normally-very-humble servant nearly four years ago{1} took a position which was solid and to this day unassailed on exercising the military option in Iraq.

If this new news is true, it enhances our previous position. If not, then it is no different than the whole WMD situation: my position as set forth nearly four years ago remains intact stable and valid every bit as much now as it did then. That my friends is the value of reason and logic and taking positions on solid data and core principles rather than speculative data which not infrequently evaporates like the morning dew on a sunny day.

U.N. 'peacekeepers' rape women, children

Yes it is an older link but it helps to review some of the reasons why people such as your host has a viceral disregard (to put it nicely) for the United Nations. The MSM has not wanted to talk about this stuff when it is the UN but boy, any chance to slap around Catholic priests for sexual misconduct is fair game. But then again, the religious body of many in the MSM is the UN so that explains it in a nutshell.

So remember folks, a good acid test for voting if you have any doubts is to consider the candidates who are most supportive of the United Nations and vote against them. But enough on that for now.


{1} While the decision on Afghanistan was a slam dunk, coming to the conclusion that military intervention in Iraq was necessary took some time as it was not as clear-cut as the intervention in Afghanistan was. (And your host was not about to take a stand on anything but solid principles and facts rather than the transient speculations of most people.)
"Excerpts From Classic Literature" Dept.
(Also filed under "A Trip Down Memory Lane" Dept.)

I have discussed before a teacher from my youth whose value to me was recognized mostly in hindsight. I invite readers to peruse that thread for a good background before reading what this post contains.

"As the Years Go Passing By" Dept. (circa September 22, 2002)

Indeed, the material in this post was actually referred to in the former posting{1} and it was a surprise to receive from my sister a clip from Youtube of someone doing a reading of the poem below because it brought back memories of my teacher David Mangels reading it to the class in his animated way. I can envision the pauses, the phrasing of the read, and even his occasional shouts of emphasis in certain spots which really made the work come alive -not only for me but for anyone I know who had Mangels for a teacher.{2} But without further ado, here is the written text of the poem which I classify as "classic literature" by virtue of its genre and content{3} nothing else...

Cremation of Sam McGee

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee, where the cotton blooms and blows.
Why he left his home in the South to roam 'round the Pole, God only knows.
He was always cold, but the land of gold seemed to hold him like a spell;
Though he'd often say in his homely way that he'd "sooner live in hell".

On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way over the Dawson trail.
Talk of your cold! through the parka's fold it stabbed like a driven nail.
If our eyes we'd close, then the lashes froze till sometimes we couldn't see;
It wasn't much fun, but the only one to whimper was Sam McGee.

And that very night, as we lay packed tight in our robes beneath the snow,
And the dogs were fed, and the stars o'erhead were dancing heel and toe,
He turned to me, and "Cap," says he, "I'll cash in this trip, I guess;
And if I do, I'm asking that you won't refuse my last request."

Well, he seemed so low that I couldn't say no; then he says with a sort of moan:
"It's the cursed cold, and it's got right hold till I'm chilled clean through to the bone.
Yet 'tain't being dead -- it's my awful dread of the icy grave that pains;
So I want you to swear that, foul or fair, you'll cremate my last remains."

A pal's last need is a thing to heed, so I swore I would not fail;
And we started on at the streak of dawn; but God! he looked ghastly pale.
He crouched on the sleigh, and he raved all day of his home in Tennessee;
And before nightfall a corpse was all that was left of Sam McGee.

There wasn't a breath in that land of death, and I hurried, horror-driven,
With a corpse half hid that I couldn't get rid, because of a promise given;
It was lashed to the sleigh, and it seemed to say:
"You may tax your brawn and brains,
But you promised true, and it's up to you to cremate those last remains."

Now a promise made is a debt unpaid, and the trail has its own stern code.
In the days to come, though my lips were dumb, in my heart how I cursed that load.
In the long, long night, by the lone firelight, while the huskies, round in a ring,
Howled out their woes to the homeless snows -- O God! how I loathed the thing.

And every day that quiet clay seemed to heavy and heavier grow;
And on I went, though the dogs were spent and the grub was getting low;
The trail was bad, and I felt half mad, but I swore I would not give in;
And I'd often sing to the hateful thing, and it hearkened with a grin.

Till I came to the marge of Lake Lebarge, and a derelict there lay;
It was jammed in the ice, but I saw in a trice it was called the "Alice May".
And I looked at it, and I thought a bit, and I looked at my frozen chum;
Then "Here," said I, with a sudden cry, "is my cre-ma-tor-eum."

Some planks I tore from the cabin floor, and I lit the boiler fire;
Some coal I found that was lying around, and I heaped the fuel higher;
The flames just soared, and the furnace roared -- such a blaze you seldom see;
And I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal, and I stuffed in Sam McGee.

Then I made a hike, for I didn't like to hear him sizzle so;
And the heavens scowled, and the huskies howled, and the wind began to blow.
It was icy cold, but the hot sweat rolled down my cheeks, and I don't know why;
And the greasy smoke in an inky cloak went streaking down the sky.

I do not know how long in the snow I wrestled with grisly fear;
But the stars came out and they danced about ere again I ventured near;
I was sick with dread, but I bravely said: "I'll just take a peep inside.
I guess he's cooked, and it's time I looked"; . . . then the door I opened wide.

And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar;
And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said: "Please close that door.
It's fine in here, but I greatly fear you'll let in the cold and storm --
Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it's the first time I've been warm."

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.


{1} To this day my sister and I can rattle off whole stanzas of "the Battle of East and West", "the Cremation of Sam McGee", and other such classics. (And several short form movies like "An Occurrance at Owl Creek Bridge" which looking back was very deep subject matter - especially for grade school kids.) I think this is the reason why in large part Mr. Mangels was among the few teachers that stick out in our minds was that he would teach in ways unlike how other teachers usually did. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa September 22, 2002)]

{2} Including not only my sister but my good friend Tim Tull who had Mr. Mangels as a teacher the same year I did.

{3} And because I am admittedly on this subject somewhat biased :)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Texas Fred recently sent one of his senators (John Cornyn) a call to stand up for genuine conservative principles. Readers can review it and the concurring comments of many others (including those of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum) HERE.
Holy Souls Masses Registration:

This years scroll of the dearly departed -individuals of note and also family groupings by last name:

Richard Dunn McElhinney f
James Dunn McElhinney u
Teresa Mildred McElhinney gm
Paul Dowd McElhinney gf
McElhinney fam
Dunn fam
Flynn fam
McCann fam
Mark Usher sgf
Virginia Usher sgm
Usher sfam
Brooks fam
Hellstrom sfam
Leta M. Allen sa

David Kanski u
Mary H. Kanski gm
Harry Kanski gf
Harold Kanski u
Kanski fam
Haluk fam
Hruby fam
Duma fam
Rogowski fam
Denny fam
Omafrey fam
Ripplinger fam
Spence fam
Mel Clark sgf
Jane Clark sgm
Clark fam

James Jenner OP p
Joseph Fulton OP p
Blessed Sacrament Parish/Dom. Priory
St. Pius X Parish
Corpus Christi Parish

Jeff Cox cl
Rasmussen ext-fam
Tull ext-fam
Anselmo ext-fam
St. Blogs ext-fam
Mike Mentzer t
Mentzer tfam
Cipriani ffam
O'Grady ffam
Bannon ffam
Ziadeh ffam
Stein ffam
Smith ffam
Tierney ffam
Mockeridge ffam
Blosser ffam
Chris DiSomma f
Roy Sabin acq
Anne Sabin acq
Tim's friend (cannot recall his name at the present but God knows)

While I am sure more will come to mind than just those later on, they are what will be noted at this time. The link to the Purgatory Project can be found HERE and I encourage my readers to check it out and register the names of family and friends.{1}

Eternal rest grant unto their souls O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and all the souls of the faithfully departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen

The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain: But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found [me]. The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord on that day (2 Tim i,18).


{1} One should not presume that my recommendation of the above site constitutes a blanket approval of all or even many of the other threads they have posted there. Nonetheless, they do have a good thread on explaining purgatory written by Jimmy Akin which can be read HERE and which I do highly recommend.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Miscellaneous Musings:

---As I have told not a few friends and associates in recent weeks, watch for this election cycle's "October Surprise." Well, it took 30 days but on 10/30 we got it in John Kerry's recent public snafu. After this one, I cannot see how the Democrats can win either house of Congress because (i) seven days before an election is too quick to be able to spin this one away and (ii) this will anger Independents like your weblog host as well as Republicans who may have been a bit lax viz. the upcoming election. Anyway, that is what our gut intuition is on the election at the present time.

---Back when gasoline was around $3.15 a gallon, your host told not a few people that it would not surprise him if gasoline was around $2.25 by election day. Well, at the moment, gasoline is $2.34 a gallon with about six days to go until the election. We will consider a $2.30 gas price on election day to be another fulfilled prediction on our part lest anyone wonder ;-)

---We are of the opinion that by the end of 2007, gasoline may well be around $2.00 a gallon again{1} for reasons that will be discussed another time (if readers are interested).


{1} As a nationwide average. (Some areas such as Washington state have higher than the average price so this prediction is a more generalized one and not necessarily applicable to all markets.)
More on Torture and the Problems With Trying To Discount the Historical Record Explicitly or Otherwise:

Upon a reader bringing up the subject of slavery as it pertained to something I wrote in a recent thread response to Scott Carson viz. my previous three part posting thread on torture and general norms of interpretation, I sent a couple of older blog threads on that subject from 2003.{1} I forgot that in one of those threads I dealt with the licity of judicial torture albeit not in much detail. Upon receiving them, I was sent a return email with this question and link:

Have you been following Michael Liccione's exchanges w. an Anglican on the same subject?

Why her condemning torture doesn't discredit the Catholic Church Oct. 15, 2006

Admittedly I had not seen this thread but upon receiving it, I gave it a thorough review. To say that Michael Liccione's arguments do not convince me would be a mild thing to say so I will leave it at that. It seems evident to me that he has misunderstandings about the import of Dignitatis Humanae (DH) too well. As I noted in one of my responses to Brian Tierney's statements{2}, DH does not contradict the injunctions of Lateran IV viz. persecuting heretics however it may appear. Here are the other problems with this outlook in a nutshell (his words in darkgreen font).

The relevant statement taught is more like this: "Heretics should be punished with torture and/or death if their being so punished is necessary for the common good."

The problem with the way the statement is phrased is that it involves a normative or subjective element into the equation. It involves a value judgment in other words as to what should or should not be done. The only concern we need in the current context is not whether someone should be punished with torture or death under certain circumstances but only if they could. The latter is a non-normative or objective question in the sense that we are only interested in what can be done in these situations.{2}

Call that statement 'HP' for short.


Between the fourth and eighteenth centuries, most popes and prelates believed HP. Even St. Thomas Aquinas believed it. But the Church's development of doctrine has it that the torture and execution of people for their religious beliefs is a violation of their consciences, which is intrinsically evil inasmuch as it violates one of the most basic of human rights. Whatever the ostensible benefits,

Notice the bait and switch: Michael goes from [h]eretics should be punished with torture and/or death if their being so punished is necessary for the common good to claiming that they are not to be punished in that way whatsoever for their religious beliefs and what exercising those beliefs may or may not involve. This may appear to be not what I assert but consider for a moment the relevant factors involved in a nutshell:

---In a society where church and state are closely intertwined, heretics who were zealous in propagating errors which were seen rightfully so as undermining the common good of society were not tolerated. That does not apply in a society as we have seen construed in recent centuries but it also overlooks a key factor: the necessity of the common good factor. If the heretics so called are seeking militarily to infringe upon the rights of others and threatening their survival unless said persons or nations bow to coercion and accept the aggressor's religious beliefs, then such "persons and societies" (cf. DH §1) can under the rubric of self-defense of persons and society be tortured or executed within certain parameters.{3} It depends of course on how "torture" is defined.

Therefore, it is never necessary to serve the common good by doing such an evil that good may come.

Again, torture is not necessarily an intrinsic evil any more than the death penalty is. That does not mean that both torture and the death penalty are unable to be conducted in ways which are inhumane and objectively evil of course. But it does mean that not all means of coercing others or of executing them are intrinsically evil. The Pandora's Box that such a notion opens up is far wider than I originally asserted and I am frankly not sure I want to delve into it in the public medium at this time lest it scandalize some of my readers of a religious nature and start more fires than I care to deal with (metaphorically speaking).

That is what the Western-European wars of religion and the rise of popular government taught the Church even though should it have been obvious much earlier than that. Therefore, the antecedent of HP is always false, and churchmen of the past were wrong to believe it.

Now Michael begs the question by presuming that the use of torture or the death penalty is across the board intrinsically evil. Besides the boatload of problems this creates which I decided to not touch on above, this also constitutes the very sort of evolution that does not conserve and refine past realizations but instead is a wholesale overturning and reversal. In other words, whether Michael realizes it or not{4}, it makes a mockery of the notion of development properly understood.

This is the sort of problem that arises when terms are thrown around without first being explained as to their meaning. Hence, the reasons I have said from day one (and will continue to say it) these terms require definitions. There is another factor that needs to be considered here and it is this: there cannot be a definition or declaration which is binding and requiring of assent as per the requirements of Lumen Gentium §25{5} without the terms involved being defined as to what they mean at the very least. It is no different than if I said one must always schwitzburger every morning and do not bother telling someone what the latter word means.{6} In the absence of terms being defined, people can put on them whatever meaning they want and that means the expression is worthless since formal contradiction cannot be avoided.

But since HP itself is a material conditional, the falsity of its antecedent makes it trivially true.

The crux of the issue is being avoided with the above statement so I will highlight it in bold font:

Defending persons and society from the menace of heretics out to either undermine the common good of society or who seek to coerce people under threat of physical mutilation or death to violate their consciences and accept alien systems of thought is not "trivially true" no matter how you stretch the tape!!!

Every word I noted in the above statement is important so if anyone tries to apply it to what the US Government is seeking with detainees at Gitmo or wherever, it will only prove to me that they are demagogues and are not to be taken seriously.{7}

So even if HP does meet the criteria for having been infallibly taught by the ordinary magisterium, it is trivially true.

See my previous comments. Hopefully it is clearer to some who think this is an easily dismissible subject why it is anything but. This further points out why the term needs to have a definition. I have just about used up my last good nerve on those who prattle on about this word without explaining what they mean by it. But enough on that for now.


{1} Refuting Progressivist Errors on Galileo, Usury, EENS, and Slavery--Parts I and II (circa April 21, 2003)

Responding to Some Declarations of Brian Tierney--Parts I-III (circa December 30-31, 2003)

{2} The purpose of this posting is not to say what should or should be done in these cases: such a normative assessment by its nature can vary from person to person and therefore is not helpful when dealing with absolute moral principles of a prohibitive nature.

{3} Part of the reason I wrote on the matter of religious liberty in my original thread postings on torture and general norms is because I anticipated this route being taken by some who take the general position that Michael Liccione takes. With reference to what Vatican II does teach on religious liberty, I refer back to something I blogged when interacting with some dogmatic declarations of Brian Tierney in late 2003:

[T]here are safeguards in DH which do not allow for coercion of non-Catholics unless they are being menaces to society in accordance with objective criteria. So far from contradicting Lateran IV, Vatican II also allows for the state to suppress those who undermine a society. [Excerpt from an Email Correspondence (circa February 3, 2003) and quoted in a Rerum Novarum posting (circa December 31, 2003)]

The bottom line is, our right to survival trumps any presumed "right" these kinds of people have to not be tortured or killed. Period.

{4} I trust he does not and is only trying to deal with these complex issues according to the light of his conscience viz. how he understands the principles involved.

{5} [R]eligious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking. [Second Vatican Ecumenical Council: Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium §25 (circa November 21, 1964)]

{6} To my knowledge, I made the word up on the spot lest anyone wonder.

{7} To put it tersely.