Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Digest of Today's Posts (31 October 2006)

  • Was Kerry's Statement of Contempt Toward Troops a Momentum Changer?

  • Soul Cakes

  • Fox on Fox

  • Real Men Talk About God

  • Archdiocese of Detroit and Pro-Abortion Catholics

  • All Hallows' Eve

  • (Digest of Yesterday's Posts (30 October 2006))

    Was Kerry's Statement of Contempt Toward Troops a Momentum Changer?

    Is there a more politically tone-deaf, out-of-touch politician on the national level than John Kerry?

    I don't think it's going to happen, but wouldn't it be sweet irony if his idiotic statement about our troops in Iraq created the momentum for a Republican recovery between now and the election?

    Soul Cakes

    A soul cake, a soul cake,
    Please good Mistress, a soul cake,
    An apple, a pear, a plum, or a cherry,
    Any good thing to make us all merry.
    One for Peter, two for Paul,
    Three for him who made us all.

    ~The Cheshire Souling Song

    Sarah and I started a tradition for our family a couple of years ago of baking soul cakes for Halloween, All Saint's Day, and All Soul's Day. We didn't get around to making them for the kids' Halloween party this past Saturday, so I'm hoping we can whip some up tonight for Jamie to take to his school tomorrow or the next day.

    Here is a write-up on the tradition of soul cakes from CatholicCulture.org:
    Soul Cakes

    The old English custom of "soul-caking," or "souling," originated in pre-Reformation days, when singers went about on All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day, November 1 and 2, to beg for cakes in remembrance of the dead. The "soulers," as the singers were called, droned out their ditties repeatedly, tonelessly, without pause or variation. Doubtless Shakespeare was familiar with the whining songs because Speed, in Two Gentlemen of Verona, observes tartly that one of the "special marks" of a man in love is "to speak puling, like a beggar at Hallowmas."

    Allhallows e'en, or eve, a night of pranks and fun in North Country homes, was celebrated with many wholesome games. Young people, for example, read future events from the way roasting chestnuts sputtered and jumped next to the red-hot coals. They bobbed for apples and flung snakelike apple parings behind themselves, to learn the initials of future mates. Our British ancestors brought these old folk practices to the New World, where generations of adolescents have observed them on the night that witches traditionally ride broomsticks and hobgoblins venture abroad.

    Soul cakes and souling customs vary from county to county, but souling practices always flourished best along the Welsh border. Even there, the custom is rapidly dying out. In hamlets of Shropshire and Cheshire, in parts of the Midlands, and Lancashire one sometimes hears the soulers chanting old rhymes such as:
    Soul! Soul! for an apple or two!
    If you have no apples, pears will do.
    If you have no pears, money will do.
    If you have no money, God bless you!
    In olden times "soul papers," with solicitations of prayers for the deceased, accompanied the cakes which were given to the parish poor. Householders, as well as churches, bestowed soul cakes as a charity in behalf of the departed.

    Soul cakes were of different kinds. Formerly, some cakes were flat and oval. Others were plump and bunlike. There was a spiced-sweetened variety, and the sort that resembled a small fruit cake. All were rich with milk and eggs.

    Soul cakes as adapted to American tastes from early English recipes, make delicate tea-time or party buns. Instead of the saffron and allspice of the original cakes, use a few drops of yellow vegetable coloring as well as nutmeg and cinnamon.

    The following recipe is an adaptation of an old Shropshire formula. The light fluffy buns, delicious for any occasion, are especially appropriate for Halloween. Serve them hot, with plenty of butter and strawberry or raspberry jam. Accompany them with mugs of cider; or with hot chocolate, topped with marshmallows, for the young; or with coffee or tea for those who are older.

    Cream shortening and sugar. Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup lukewarm water to which a teaspoon of sugar has been added. Set aside. Scald milk and add to the creamed mixture. When cooled add yeast mixture and stir until thoroughly blended. Sift together flour, salt, and spices, and add gradually to other ingredients, kneading into a soft dough. Set sponge to rise in warm place in greased covered bowl. When doubled in bulk, shape into small round or oval buns. Brush tops with slightly beaten egg white. Bake in moderately hot oven (400° F.) for 15 minutes. Drop temperature to 350 ° F. and bake until delicately browned and thoroughly done.

    Recipe Source: Feast-Day Cakes from Many Lands by Dorothy Gladys Spicer, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1960
    See also my post on All Hallows' Eve

    Labels: , ,

    Fox on Fox

    (Hat tip: The Curt Jester)

    Please take the time to read Fr. Martin Fox's imagined interview with Michael J. Fox regarding the actor's recent political ads supporting embryonic stem cell research.

    Real Men Talk About God

    Newsweek reports that "A new Christian movement lets guys be guys":
    Oct. 30, 2006 - This wasn’t your Daddy’s religious revival. Last Saturday morning, 200 Christian men gathered in a downtown warehouse in Nashville for a day-long spiritual extravaganza. Inside, strobe lights flashed, and tracks by the Killers thumped from speakers stacked on either side of a stage. Four large video screens showed clips of karate fights, car chases and Jackass-style stunts. Then the music lowered and Christian comedian Brad Stine appeared. With his rat-a-tat delivery and aggressive style, Stine quickly whipped the crowd into a chorus of “Amens!” “A lot of guys out there wouldn’t have the balls to be here,” he shouted. “Are you ready to be a man? Are you ready to kick ass? Are you ready to grab your sword and say, ‘OK family, I’m going to lead you?’ Buckle up. This is GodMen!”

    My Comments:
    Real men don't need gimmicks to be Godly leaders of their families. This particular gimmick sounds like Tim Allen's "Men Are Pigs" meets Promise Keepers.

    Archdiocese of Detroit and Pro-Abortion Catholics

    Boethius of Fumare has done stellar work over the last week covering the Archdiocese of Detroit's inadequate (read: nonexistent) response to pro-abort "Catholics" running for public office in Michigan, and the Archiocese's outright hostility to the efforts of pro-life activists to take up its slack.

    You can read Boethius' outstanding coverage here, here, here, here, and here.

    I was fortunate enough to get a sneak preview of all this while standing in line with Boethius to ride a rollercoaster at Cedar Point about a week-and-a-half ago.

    All Hallows' Eve

    From the Medieval Saints Yahoo Group:
    Vigil of All Hallows Day (Halloween)

    Instituted 1484 (the Vigil is newer than the feast) by Pope Sixtus IV, who established the Feast of All Saints as a holy day of obligation and gave it this vigil (in English-speaking countries called "Hallow Even", or "Hallowe'en"), and an eight-day period or octave to celebrate the feast.

    The liturgical vigil was abolished in the Roman Catholic Church in 1955.

    Vigil Commemorated October 31


    Halloween (Allhallows Even) is the evening of October 31. In its strictly religious aspect this occasion is known as the vigil of Hallowmas or All Saints' Day, November 1, observed by the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches. In the fourth decade of the 8th century, Pope Gregory III assigned this date for celebrating the feast when he consecrated a chapel in St. Peter's basilica to all the saints. Gregory IV extended the feast to the entire church in 834. In Latin countries the evening of October 31 is observed only as a religious occasion, but in Great Britain, Ireland, and the United States, ancient Halloween folk customs persist alongside the ecclesiastical observance.

    Students of folklore believe that the popular customs of Halloween show traces of the Roman harvest festival of Pomona and of Druidism. These influences are inferred from the use of nuts and apples as traditional Halloween foods and from the figures of witches, black cats, and skeletons commonly associated with the occasion.

    In pre-Christian Ireland and Scotland, the Celtic year ended on October 31, the eve of Samhain, and was celebrated with both religious and harvest rites. For the Druids, Samhain was both the "end of summer" and a festival of the dead. The spirits of the departed were believed to visit their kinsmen in search of warmth and good cheer as winter approached. It was also an occasion when fairies, witches, and goblins terrified the populace. The agents of the supernatural were alleged to steal infants, destroy crops, and kill farm animals. Bonfires were lighted on hilltops on the eve of Samhain. The fires may have been lighted to guide the spirits of the dead to the homes of their kinsmen or to kill and ward off witches.

    During the middle ages when the common folk believed that witchcraft was devoted to the worship of Satan, this cult included periodic meetings, known as witches' Sabbaths, which were allegedly given over to feasting and revelry. One of the most important Sabbaths as held on Halloween. Witches were alleged to fly to these meetings on broomsticks, accompanied by black cats who were their constant companions. Stories of these Sabbaths are the source of much folklore about Halloween.

    Pranks and mischief were common on Halloween. Wandering groups of celebrants blocked doors of houses with carts, carried away gates and plows, tapped on windows, threw vegetables at doors, and covered chimneys with turf so that smoke could not escape. In some places boys and girls dressed in clothing of the opposite sex and, wearing masks, visited neighbors to play tricks. These activities generally resembled the harmful and mischievous behavior attributed to witches, fairies, and goblins. The contemporary "trick or treat" custom resembles an ancient Irish practice associated with Allhallows Eve. Groups of peasants went from house to house demanding food and other gifts in preparation for the evening's festivities. Prosperity was assured for liberal donors and threats were made against stingy ones. These contributions were often demanded in the name of Muck Olla, an early Druid deity, or of St. Columb Cille, who worked in Ireland during the 6th century. In England some of the folk attributes of Halloween were assimilated by Guy Fawkes day celebrated on November 5. Consequently Halloween lost some of its importance there.

    Immigrants from Great Britain and Ireland brought secular Halloween customs to the U.S., but the festival did not become popular in this country until the latter part of the 19th century. This may have been because it had long been popular with the Irish, who migrated here in large numbers after 1840. In America, though some churches observe Halloween with religious services, most people regard it as a secular festival. This reflects the prevailing American attitude toward a great many church festivals and holy days, as we will see in future histories.

    Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian

    From CatholicCulture.org:
    All Hallows' Eve

    Halloween or All Hallows' Eve is not a liturgical feast on the Catholic calendar, but the celebration has deep ties to the Liturgical Year. These three consecutive days: Halloween, All Saints Day and All Souls Day, illustrate the Communion of Saints. The Church Militant (those of us on earth, striving to get to heaven) pray for the Church Suffering (those souls in Purgatory) especially on All Souls Day and the month of November. We also rejoice and honor the Church Triumphant (the saints, canonized and uncanonized) in heaven. We also ask the Saints to intercede for us, and for the souls in Purgatory.

    Since Vatican II, some liturgical observances have been altered, one example being "fast before the feast" is no longer required. Originally, the days preceding great solemnities, like Christmas and All Saints Day, had a penitential nature, requiring abstinence from meat and fasting and prayer. Although not required by the Church, it is a good practice to prepare spiritually before great feast days.

    In England, saints or holy people are called "hallowed", hence the name "All Hallow's Day". The evening, or "e'en" before the feast became popularly known as "All Hallows' Eve" or even shorter, "Hallowe'en".

    Since the night before All Saints Day, "All Hallows Eve" (now known as Hallowe'en), was the vigil and required fasting, many recipes and traditions have come down for this evening, such as pancakes, boxty bread and boxty pancakes, barmbrack (Irish fruit bread with hidden charms), colcannon (combination of cabbage and boiled potatoes). This was also known as "Nutcrack Night" in England, where the family gathered around the hearth to enjoy cider and nuts and apples.

    Halloween is the preparation and combination of the two upcoming feasts. Although the demonic and witchcraft have no place for a Catholic celebration, some macabre can be incorporated into Halloween. It is good to dwell on our impending death (yes, everyone dies at one point), the Poor Souls in Purgatory, and the sacrament of the Sick. And tied in with this theme is the saints, canonized and non-canonized. What did they do in their lives that they were able to reach heaven? How can we imitate them? How can we, like these saints, prepare our souls for death at any moment?

    For more information see Catholic Culture's Halloween page.

    Also read from Catholic Culture's library:
  • Ideas for Sanctifying Halloween, All Saints Day and All Souls Day by Jennifer Gregory Miller
  • Halloween and All Saints Day by Father William Saunders
  • Holyween: Reclaim The Celebration Of All Saints by Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.
  • Catholics Give the Best Parties by Jeffrey Tucker.

  • From All Info About English Culture:
    The origins of Hallowe'en in England

    On 31st October, the eve of All Saints Day, the people of England celebrate Hallowe'en, or All Hallows' (meaning hallowed or holy) Eve.

    ancient Britain this date was the pre-Christian eve of the New Year and Celtic Harvest Festival, when the souls of the dead were thought to revisit their homes to eat and drink. People left refreshments on the table and unlocked their doors before retiring for the night, then bells were rung, fires lit to guide the returning souls back to earth and animals were brought in for the winter.

    After Hallowe'en became a Christian festival, supernatural associations continued to thrive. It was believed that witches were abroad and that it was possible for certain people to perform magic and summon up spirits. Torches (made from cabbage stalks and bundles of dried heather dipped in grease) were carried and spells were chanted, in the hope that souls condemned to purgatory (from Purgatory Field, Poulton & Purgatory Farm at Weston, Lancashire) would find some relief.

    Hallowe'en was also a time for rituals and divination, when nuts were roasted by young women and apple pips scattered on hot coals - the behaviour of the pips indicating the temperament of their future spouses. Fortunes were told with apples and cabbages; children bobbed for apples in tubs of water; girls combed their hair three times before a mirror in the hope of seeing their future husbands; and lanterns were made from swedes and turnips (gouged out to form a face with a grinning mouth), then kept alight from from dusk until dawn.

    Hallowe'en was once a time for making mischief - many parts of England still recognise this date as Mischief Night - when children would knock on doors demanding a treat (Trick or Treat) and people would disguise themselves as witches, ghosts, kelpies and spunkies, in order to obtain food and money from nervous householders. In certain parts of England youths still play pranks on their neighbours by hiding garden ornaments, whitewashing walls and ringing doorbells in the dead of night.

    There are a great many local traditions associated with 31st October. For instance, Hallowe'en is known as Dookie Apple Night in
    Newcastle upon Tyne, where the local children parade through the streets carrying traditional turnip lanterns. Then in Somerset's Hinton St George, where punkies (Hallowe'en lanterns) are carved from mangel-wurzels on the last Thursday in November (Punky Night), children go through the streets singing. When they knock on doors they receive either money or a candle from the householder. This custom is believed to have originated when the women of the village walked to nearby Chriselborough Fair with punkies to light their way, and from there dragged their drunken husbands home.

    Hallowe'en, like many other ancient festivals, has always provided an excellent excuse for eating and drinking. At one time,
    Mash o' Nine Sorts, with a ring concealed within, would be served to unmarried guests - whoever found it would next be married. Then of course, Toffee Apples are still extremely popular and Hallowe'en Cakes are sometimes still baked in the North of England on what is known there as Cake Day.

    Many local events take place in England during Hallowe'en. If you're keen to go along to some of the more traditional happenings, please take a look at our calendar of
    Traditional Autumn Events.

    See also
    Recta Ratio, which has a number of outstanding posts regarding the traditions surrounding All Hallows Eve, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day.

    St. Anthony Messenger also has some informative Halloween write-ups online.

    Fr. Augustine Thompson, OP: "Surprise: Halloween's Not a Pagan Festival After All"


    Monday, October 30, 2006

    Digest of Today's Posts (30 October 2006)

  • Another Rovian Conspiracy Exposed

  • Urinating Dog Catches Fire, Causes Power Outage

  • Pray for Ratification of South Dakota Abortion Ban

  • High School Football in Ohio

  • The Archdiocese's GOTV Effort on Behalf of Dems

  • Atheists' Lobbyist Hoping Democrats Gain Control of Congress

  • Washington Post: Virginia Catholics "Pushed" to Support Same-Sex Marriage Ban

  • (Digest of Weekend's Posts (29 October 2006))

    Another Rovian Conspiracy Exposed

    Ohio appears to be ground zero for Bush Derangement Syndrome:
    Will a shocking new GOP court victory and Karl Rove's attack on Ohio 2006 doom the Democrats nationwide?

    by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
    October 30, 2006

    With a major GOP federal court victory, the Ohio 2006 election has descended into the calculated chaos that has become the trademark of a Karl Rove election theft, and that could help keep the Congress in Republican hands nationwide.

    Through a complex series of legal maneuvers, and now a shocking new decision from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the GOP has thrown Ohio's entire process of voting and vote counting into serious disarray. The mess is perfectly designed to suppress voter turnout, make election monitoring and a recount impossible, and allow the Republican Party to emerge with a victory despite overwhelming evidence the electorate wants exactly the opposite.

    The disaster in Ohio began immediately after the theft of the presidential election here in 2004. Though the majority of Ohioans are registered Democrats, the gerrymandered state legislature is overwhelmingly Republican. Soon after John Kerry conceded, it passed House Bill 3, a draconian assault on voter registration drives, voting rights and the ability to secure reliable recounts of federal-level elections.


    Urinating Dog Catches Fire, Causes Power Outage

    Here's one you don't read about every day:
    SHOCKED Gary Davies saw his dog erupt in flames — after it peed on a live power cable.

    Bailey the Staffordshire bull terrier also cut power to 148 homes by cocking a leg against a faulty pylon.

    Gary, 42, said: “There was an almighty explosion and the whole street lit up. I turned round and the dog was on fire.”

    Power was off for five hours in Middlestone Moor, Co Durham.

    Last night Bailey was recovering at home after being treated for burns.

    Pray for Ratification of South Dakota Abortion Ban

    Please pray for the successful passage of South Dakota's ballot measure approving the state's abortion ban. Amy Welborn is reporting that recent opinion polls show the ban losing at the ballot box by a few percentage points.

    As many readers of this blog may know, I was opposed to the South Dakota legislature passing the abortion ban at this time because of the likelihood that the U.S. Supreme Court would strike it down, thereby further ingraining the "precedent" of Roe v. Wade upon the American legal tradition.

    However, now that the law has been passed, and Planned Parenthood and other pro-abort advocates are trying to repeal it via referendum, I pray that the voters of South Dakota will ratify the legislature's action.

    A defeat at the ballot box in what is one of the most pro-life states in the Union could prove more devastating to the pro-life cause than a defeat in the Supreme Court.

    Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
    South Dakota Becomes Abortion Focal Point

    Poll: South Dakota Voters Against Abortion Ban

    Move to Overturn S.D. Abortion Ban Gains Ground

    The GOP's Abortion Anxiety - Why GOP Leaders Worry About Pro-Life Wins

    Why Abortion Bans May Not Be the Answer Now - Clarke Forsythe on Judicial Strategies

    A Strong Argument in Favor of the South Dakota Abortion Ban

    Justice Scalia Agrees with Former Mayor of Columbia, VA on Roe v. Wade

    South Dakota Abortion Ban Becomes Law

    Joseph Bottum: South Dakota Anti-Abortion Legislation a "Tactical Error"

    Fidelis Urges South Dakota Governor to Protect Women and Sign Abortion Ban

    Bill Introduced to "Stop Abortion in Ohio"

    South Dakota Passes Abortion Ban

    High School Football in Ohio

    Congratulations to Norwalk Catholic School's St. Paul Flyers, who will be 1 of 2 teams representing the Firelands Conference in the Ohio high school football playoffs. This is a very young team, with only 11 returning seniors on the roster, and half of those seniors seemed to have season-ending injuries at some point during the year. So, in what should have been a "re-building year", the Flyers are to be congratulated on making the playoffs.

    Something, however, is confusing to me. Now, I played high school football on a very successful Van Vandals football team in the state of Texas (which is, of course, THE state when it comes to high school football), so I consider myself -- as ALL Texans believe themselves to be -- at least something of an "expert" when it comes to high school football. But I am completely baffled by how Ohio high school football teams -- in this instance, the St. Paul Flyers -- qualify for the playoffs.

    In Texas, the district champion and the district runner-up (and I think now even the third-place team) qualify for the playoffs. But I don't get the impression that Ohio prep football works the same way. In the Firelands Conference, for example, 3 teams finished ahead of the Flyers. Only 1 of those teams, however, is headed to the playoffs. The other teams, one of whom is the conference co-champ (who received their only conference loss at the hands of the Flyers) and the other of whom finished with the same conference record as the Flyers but defeated them in the head-to-head matchup, will be staying home while the Flyers move on to the playoffs.

    Makes absolutely no sense to me. Can someone explain to me how this system works?

    Is it similar to the BCS system where Tennessee can obliterate California and have the same 1-loss record, but be ranked behind them in the polls? Or where Auburn can defeat Florida and have the same 1-loss record, but -- just 1 week later -- be ranked behind them in the polls?

    Just wondering.

    The Archdiocese's GOTV Effort on Behalf of Dems

    Rich Leonardi at Ten Reasons notes that the Ohio minimum wage hike supported by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati "is little more than a partisan get-out-the-vote effort".

    Unlike the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, the Ohio Catholic Conference, made up of all the Ohio bishops, has taken a "neutral" stance on passage of the wage hike.

    Atheists' Lobbyist Hoping Democrats Gain Control of Congress

    You can tell a LOT about folks by who their friends are:
    WASHINGTON -- As the chief lobbyist for atheists in the nation's capital, former state Sen. Lori Lipman Brown is keeping a close eye on the Nov. 7 midterm elections.

    Democrats may gain a majority in the House and possibly the Senate. For Brown, 48, such a result might change her job dramatically.

    "There are some things we would like to see moved that haven't gone anywhere under current (Republican) leadership, and some things that we would prefer not to be spending our time fighting against," Brown said.

    For example, Brown would like to see progress on legislation that would require all pharmacies to fill prescriptions for birth control or refer customers to someone who will if a pharmacist has religious or ethical objections against the prescription.

    On the other hand, Brown hopes for a lull in legislation that would permit military chaplains to evangelize soldiers.

    "It's not surprising that an atheist would think there would be a more friendly environment with a Democratic Congress," said Tom McClusky, vice president of government affairs for the conservative Family Research Council.

    (emphasis added)

    My Comments:
    Hmmmmm. Let's see ... Christian conservatives or left-wing atheists. If I were a political party, with whom would I rather be associated?

    Washington Post: Virginia Catholics "Pushed" to Support Same-Sex Marriage Ban

    From The Washington Post:
    Virginia's Catholic leaders can take comfort from recent polls showing that a majority of state voters are in sync with them in supporting a constitutional amendment to ban civil unions. What worries them is their own flock.

    A Washington Post poll conducted this month showed that a majority of Catholic voters oppose the proposed amendment, which would ban same-sex marriages. As a result, Virginia bishops are flexing their growing political muscle in an attempt to sway more Catholics on the issue and get them to voting booths.

    "When Catholics are presented with our church's perspective on the nature of marriage, its relationship to the common good of society and the importance of the proposed amendment for children and families . . . they will be much more likely to support the amendment," said Jeff Caruso, executive director of the Virginia Catholic Conference.

    The lobbying group spent about $25,000 this year on 100,000 glossy copies of a letter that Richmond Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo and Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde wrote to explain why Catholics should support the amendment.

    The amendment campaign is one of DiLorenzo and Loverde's largest political efforts. They founded the conference just last year, although many states -- including Maryland -- have had Catholic lobbying groups for decades.

    A solid majority of the state's Catholic voters -- 60 percent -- said gays should "be allowed to form legally recognized civil unions," compared with 38 percent who said they shouldn't, according to a Washington Post poll conducted this month. Slightly more than half of Catholic poll respondents -- 51 percent -- said they oppose the proposed constitutional amendment, compared with 46 percent who said they support it.

    My Comments:
    "A Washington Post poll conducted this month showed that a majority of Catholic voters oppose the proposed amendment, which would ban same-sex marriages."

    Disappointing, but hardly surprising given the "leadership" most Virginia Catholics have experienced over the past 30 or so years (at least in the Richmond Diocese, prior to Bishop DiLorenzo's appointment).

    I had to update with this little tidbit from a couple weeks back in the Daily News-Record, the newspaper serving the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, which quotes my former pastor (who used to be at St. Joseph's Shrine of St. Katharine Drexel in Columbia, VA, when I was a parishioner there):
    Other Catholic churches in the area also back the state’s stand. Father Gerald A. Przywara, pastor at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Staunton, said that he will distribute duplicates of the bishops’ letter, and address the memorandum at mass.

    Przywara calls the bishops’ letter important, adding that all Christians should support such action.

    "The existence of God and the definition of marriage are not Catholic curiosities that we are trying to force on the rest of the world, but [rather] the dictates of reason that come from natural laws," said Przywara.
    One of the reasons I love Fr. Jerry is that he always talks like that -- citing to Natural Law and/or his favorite encyclical. He always peppered his homilies with a heavy dose of such stuff.

    Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
    Virginia Churches Split on Same-Sex "Marriage"

    Virginia Catholics Urged to Back Same-Sex "Marriage" Ban

    Charlottesville Churches Square Off Over Virginia's Marriage-Protection Amendment

    Virginia Bishops Endorse Postcard Campaign

    Sunday, October 29, 2006

    Digest of Weekend's Posts (29 October 2006)

  • Harold Ford: Only Democrats "Love the Lord"

  • Catholic League: "The View" Sports Bigotry

  • (Digest of Friday's Posts (27 October 2006))

    Harold Ford: Only Democrats "Love the Lord"

    See the video here.

    Imagine the reaction if a Republican had said that.

    Catholic League: "The View" Sports Bigotry

    From the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights:
    October 27, 2006


    Catholic League president Bill Donohue commented on today’s edition of the ABC-TV show, “The View”:

    “As we have recounted several times before, there is an anti-Catholic animus evident among the panelists on ‘The View,’ with Rosie O’Donnell and Joy Behar being the worst offenders. Today they were at it again, trotting out the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church one more time. The occasion for their outburst was an exchange they had with their guest, Amy Berg, the director of ‘Deliver Us From Evil,’ a recent documentary on the scandal that was a box-office bomb.

    “When Behar said that the molesting priests were pedophiles, not gays, she was either lying or mistaken. This is not a matter of opinion—it is simply wrong to pretend that pedophilia is the problem. As any honest person who has seen the data knows, the majority of the victims were postpubescent, not little kids. And since 81 percent of the victims were male, and 100 percent of the victimizers were male, the problem is one of homosexuality, not pedophilia.

    “Another lie or mistake was made when O’Donnell said, and Berg concurred, that ‘The current pope was the person who was supposed to investigate these charges of sex abuse in the Church in the last 20 years.’ As a matter of fact, when Pope Benedict XVI was Cardinal Ratzinger, he was not appointed to deal with this problem until 2002—after the scandal hit the newspapers.

    “Barbara Walters stands behind all this bigotry—it’s her show.”

    Contact the executive producer of “The View,” Bill Geddie, at bill.geddie@abc.com.

    Friday, October 27, 2006

    Digest of Today's Posts (27 October 2006)

  • "Ask AM"

  • Are US Catholic Leaders Moving Towards Orthodoxy on Abortion?

  • UK: Govt Backs Down on Faith School Quotas

  • The Making Of "Faith Of Our Fathers"

  • Nine Days to Pray Before Election Day

  • Cross Removed to Make Wren Chapel Less "Faith-Specific"

  • (Digest of Yesterday's Posts (26 October 2006))

    "Ask AM"

    From the mailbag of Advocatus Militaris at Fumare:
    Every week I receive emails on all sorts of topics. Mostly folks write to me and ask my opinion on any number of issues. Sometimes they are downright personal. After much reflection, I thought perhaps these questions and answers may be of profit to others. Thus, I have decided to share some of my "Ask AM" emails and responses with all of you. Remember you can always reach me at: advocatusmilitaris[at]gmail[dot]com.

    Dear Advocatus,

    I am a happily married woman who is also active outside the home. I am scheduled to give a lecture on Catholic women in public life tomorrow evening. My problem is that I am kinda nervous. What should I do?


    Katie in D.C.

    Dear Katie,

    Stay home and wash your husband's socks.


    My Comments:
    He said it, not me. Those objecting to the content of this post can contact Advocatus Militaris at: advocatusmilitaris[at]gmail[dot]com.

    Are US Catholic Leaders Moving Towards Orthodoxy on Abortion?

    NB: The somewhat misleading headline (abortion is one area where the American bishops have been particularly "orthodox" over the years) belongs to CNS, not to me.

    Cybercast News Service asks: "Are US Catholic Leaders Moving Towards Orthodoxy on Abortion?":
    (CNSNews.com) - Despite indications that the retired archbishop of Washington, D.C., Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, has shifted position on the issue of denying communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion rights, the diocesan spokesperson says this is not the case.

    "[McCarrick's stance has] been consistent, and it will remain consistent," Susan Gibbs told Cybercast News Service.

    The emphasis should be placed on the individual who goes to receive communion rather than on the priest who is administering communion, according to Gibbs.

    "[Catholic pro-abortion] politicians should not approach for communion, period. And he would explain that to a politician," she said.

    "It's not a change, it's still consistent. The responsibility is on the individual to inform their conscience based on Catholic teaching, to not present themselves for communion if they are not in the proper state - and that applies to all Catholics."

    In 2004, McCarrick said he was not "comfortable in denying the Eucharist," a statement that sparked an uproar during the presidential campaign of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), a Catholic who supports abortion rights.

    But the churchman's position appeared to have changed when the Catholic News Service reported last week that "Cardinal McCarrick said that if, after dialogue, he had reached an impasse with a Catholic politician who continues to publicly defy church teaching, then that politician should not receive communion."

    [William Donahue of the Catholic League] said "the consensus is growing" among bishops on the issue of denying communion to Catholic candidates supportive of abortion rights...

    My Comments:
    Interesting development, if true.

    Of course, the Cardinal's conversion on the issue comes a little late now that he in no longer Archbishop of Washington, D.C. And his successor - who has the same negative view toward withholding Communion as McCarrick had when he was archbishop - is firmly ensconced in D.C. for what is likely to be many years to come.

    UK: Govt Backs Down on Faith School Quotas

    From the BBC:
    The government has denied caving in to pressure after scrapping proposals to make new faith schools in England take children from other religions.

    Under the plans, they would have had to reserve up to 25% of places for pupils from outside their faith.

    But Education Secretary Alan Johnson said he had now reached a "voluntary agreement" with churches on quotas making legislation unnecessary.

    Tory Lord Baker branded it the "fastest U-turn in British political history".

    Leaders of the Catholic Church and the Church of England welcomed the government's decision to drop its proposals.

    Vincent Nichols, the Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, said Mr Johnson understood it was "quite unacceptable to force into a new Catholic school 25% of people who were not particularly sympathetic to that faith".

    The bishop, who chairs the Catholic Education Service in England and Wales, said future schools could now be planned "fully for the Catholic need" and further places could be added "according to local need".


    Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
    English Archbishop Protests Plan to Set Admissions Quotas for Faith-Based Schools

    Why Vouchers Are a Bad Deal for Catholic Schools

    Church "Robustly Opposes" Quotas for Non-Catholics in Catholic Schools (Catholic Church in England & Wales)

    The Making Of "Faith Of Our Fathers"

    Take a moment to read National Catholic Register's brief history of beloved hymn "Faith of Our Fathers":
    The unexpected, rich history of the All Saints Day hymn, “Faith of Our Fathers,” is a tour of England’s — and America’s — religious turmoil.


    Nine Days to Pray Before Election Day

    In the October 29 edition of the National Catholic Register, the editors note that "Catholics have been praying for the upcoming elections for months... It isn’t too late to join them...":
    ... Nov. 7 is Election Day in the United States. A national novena of prayers for the election has been underway since the Fourth of July. The “Novena for Our National Elections” consisted of two periods of nine weeks apiece.

    But now, Election Day is a little over a week away. Those who want to participate can still pray during the nine final days of campaigning — starting on Monday, Oct. 30, and concluding on Tuesday, Nov. 7.

    The intentions for this prayer campaign are as follows:

    1. That believers will be active citizens, will register to vote where they still have time, and will cast their votes in the 2006 elections.

    2. That voters will base their choices on principle rather than historical loyalties or self-interest, keeping in mind that the first duty of government is the protection of human life.

    3. That, as a result of this year’s elections, our nation may come closer to embracing a culture of life, in which the unborn and all the vulnerable are protected.


    Thursday, October 26, 2006

    Cross Removed to Make Wren Chapel Less "Faith-Specific"

    News from that Virginia college (where I almost went to law school) named for a couple of protestant usurpers:
    The cross from the altar area of the Wren Chapel [at The College of William & Mary] has been removed to ensure that the space is seen as a nondenominational area, Melissa Engimann, assistant director for Historic Campus, said in an e-mail to Wren building employees.

    “In order to make the Wren Chapel less of a faith-specific space, and to make it more welcoming to students, faculty, staff and visitors of all faiths, the cross has been removed from the altar area,” Engimann said.

    The cross will be returned to the altar for those who wish to use it for events, services or private prayer. Student tour guides have been directed to pass any questions or complaints about the change on to administrators.

    The cross was in place because of the College’s former association with the Anglican Church. Though the College is now nondenominational and became publicly supported in 1906, the room will still be considered a chapel.

    Digest of Today's Posts (26 October 2006)

  • Requiem for Marriage

  • Alfred the Great, 26 October

  • (Digest of Yesterday's Posts (25 October 2006))

    Requiem for Marriage

    Tom McKenna at Seeking Justice dissects the New Jersey simulated "marriage" decision, and discusses the implications for Virginia's ballot measure that would amend the state's constitution to protect marriage as between one man and one woman.

    Wednesday, October 25, 2006

    Alfred the Great, 26 October

    From the Medieval Saints Yahoo Group:
    Alfred the Great, King of the West-Saxons
    Also known as Ælfred

    Died: October 899
    Commemorated: October 26

    In art, he is shown as a King in full armor with a crowned helmet


    Alfred was a remarkable man. A brave and hardened warrior, he had grown up fighting the Danes at the side of his father and brothers who had been kings before him. A great leader and clever organiser, he was also - thanks to his mother - able to read in an age when few people could. He was educated, cultured and a gifted musician. He was also a devout Christian who had seen churches and monasteries destroyed and monks and priests slaughtered throughout the land by the invading Vikings. Was this to be the end of the Christian faith in these islands?

    In January 878 Guthrum's Danish army had broken a treaty, and defeated Alfred in a surprise attack at Chippenham while the Saxons celebrated the end of the twelve days of Christmas. Every Saxon Kingdom had now fallen to the invading Vikings, and Alfred's two forts were all that remained of Saxon England.

    In March, King Alfred oversaw the remains of his broken army digging earthwork defences around the tiny inland islands of Athelney and nearby Lyng, areas of higher ground surrounded by the miles of flooded marshland that were the Somerset Levels.

    The story of Alfred burning the cakes dates from this time. While he was sheltering in the home of a herdsman, the herdsman's wife asked him to watch some cakes that were being baked. Alfred was so distracted by his desperate worries that he forgot the cakes and they were badly burned. Not knowing who he was, the woman returned and angrily shouted at him. Alfred meekly accepted the telling off.


    Alfred the Great, King of the West Saxons, 26 October 899

    When the Gospel was first preached in Britain, the island was inhabited by Celtic peoples. In the 400's, pagan Germanic tribes, the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, invaded Britain and drove the Christian Celts out of what is now England into Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. The new arrivals (called collectively the Anglo-Saxons) were then converted by Celtic missionaries moving in from the one side and Roman missionaries moving in from the other. (They then sent missionaries of their own, such as Boniface, to their pagan relatives on the Continent.)

    In the 800's the cycle partly repeated itself, as the Christian Anglo-Saxons were invaded by the Danes, pagan raiders, who rapidly conquered the northeast portion of England. They seemed about to conquer the entire country and eliminate all resistance when they were turned back by Alfred, King of the West Saxons.

    Alfred was born in 849 at Wantage, Berkshire, youngest of five sons of King Aethelwulf. He wished to become a monk, but after the deaths (all in battle, I think) of his father and his four older brothers, he was made king in 871. He proved to be skilled at military tactics, and devised a defensive formation which the Danish charge was unable to break. After a decisive victory at Edington in 878, he reached an agreement with the Danish leader Guthrum, by which the Danes would retain a portion of northeastern England and be given other concessions in return for their agreement to accept baptism and Christian instruction. From a later point of view, it seems obvious that such a promise could not involve a genuine change of heart, and was therefore meaningless (and indeed, one Dane complained that the white robe that he was given after his baptism was not nearly so fine as the two that he had received after the two previous times that he had been defeated and baptized). However, Alfred's judgement proved sound. Guthrum, from his point of view, agreed to become a vassal of Christ. His nobles and chief warriors, being his vassals, were thereby obligated to give their feudal allegiance to Christ as well. They accepted baptism and the presence among them of Christian priests and missionaries to instruct them. The door was opened for conversions on a more personal level in that and succeeding generations.

    In his later years, having secured a large degree of military security for his people, Alfred devoted his energies to repairing the damage that war had done to the
    cultural life of his people. He translated Boethius's Consolations of Philosophy into Old English, and brought in scholars from Wales and the Continent with whose help various writings of Bede, Augustine of Canterbury, and Gregory the Great were likewise translated. He was much impressed by the provisions in the Law of Moses for the protection of the rights of ordinary citizens, and gave order that similar provisions should be made part of English law. He promoted the education of the parish clergy. In one of his treatises, he wrote:

    "He seems to me a very foolish man, and very wretched, who will not increase his understanding while he is in the world, and ever wish and long to reach that endless life where all shall be made clear."

    He died on 26 October 899, and was buried in the Old Minster at Winchester. Alone among English monarchs, he is known as "the Great."

    Further Reading:
  • The Life of King Alfred by Asser, Bishop of Sherborne

  • Laws of Alfred at Georgetown University

  • The Medieval Life of King Alfred the Great: A Translation and Commentary on the Text Attributed to Asser by Alfred P. Smyth

  • King Alfred the Great by Alfred P. Smyth

  • Alfred the Great: War, Culture and Kingship in Anglo-Saxon England by Richard Abels

  • The Ballad of the White Horse by G.K. Chesterton

  • Links
  • Patron Saints Index - Alfred the Great

  • Catholic Encyclopedia - Alfred the Great

  • The Lectionary (Anglican) - Alfred the Great, King of the West Saxons (26 Oct 899)

  • The Complete Alfred the Great

  • English Monarchs (The House of Wessex) - Alfred the Great

  • Early British Kingdoms - Alfred, King of Wessex & the English (AD 849-899)

  • Images of Alfred the Great

  • Dale Ahlquist (American Chesterton Society) on The Ballad of the White Horse
  • Labels: , ,

    Digest of Today's Posts (25 October 2006)

  • For Catholic Anglophiles

  • Harry Potter in the Nude

  • Speaking of ...

  • The Unconscionable Claims of Michael J. Fox

  • Hyde and Scalia, Catholics With Consequences

  • (Digest of Yesterday's Posts (24 October 2006))

    For Catholic Anglophiles

    If you're a Catholic Anglophile like me, read this and you'll see why I'm such a fan of Joanna Bogle's writing.

    Recalling that today is the Feast of the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales.

    Harry Potter in the Nude

    U.K. blogger Richard Blaber of The Tripod War sends along this little tidbit:
    Dear Jay - I thought you might be interested in the attached item from my 'blog, The Tripod War, relating to the proposed nude appearance of Daniel Radcliffe, the star of the 'Harry Potter' movies, on the British stage in Peter Shaffer's play Equus. With simulated sex acts to be performed by the 17 year old, this will be real family fare!
    Hmmm. Won't all the pre-adolescent girls be excited about this:
    It is reported (in the New York Daily News, 23/10/2006), inter alia, that Dan Radcliffe (17), the star of the Harry Potter films, is to play the part of the disturbed adolescent, Alan Strang, in Peter Shaffer's drama Equus, at the Gielgud Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue, London, next February. Richard Griffiths, the Olivier and Tony Award winning star of Alan Bennett's The History Boys, and 'Uncle Vernon' to Dan's Harry, will be alongside him, playing the part of the psychiatrist treating Strang, Martin Dysart.

    In the play, Radcliffe will be expected to appear nude, and at one point required to sit astride a 'horse' simulating masturbation. The drama is based on the story of a real individual - a young groom who unaccountably started to abuse his horses in the cruellest imaginable fashion, and is a serious and profound piece of theatre. It is practically required reading and viewing for anyone at all interested in the mental health of young people.

    But what is happening here is not serious drama, but crass exploitation. The only thing the Gielgud Theatre management are interested in is money, and the sound of tills going 'Ker-ching!' Morality is quite clearly not a consideration, and nor, it would seem, is the health and safety of their 'star'.

    For consider the nature of the audience. Half of it will consist of screaming teenage girls, and the other half will consist of dirty old men. The management have even gone to the extent of providing sixty seats on stage so that some of these screaming teenage girls and DOM can get a close-up view of all Dan has to offer.
    (emphasis added)

    But hey, if the makers of the latest in birth control can market their product to pre-adolescent girls during a prime-time network broadcast of a Harry Potter movie, then why can't Harry, himself, market his own goods to them?

    I can see it now - the headlines for the front page reviews in the London tabloids:

    "Hairy Potter"

    Speaking of ...

    ... being full of ****, click here to listen to Dick Armey try to spin his way out of his recent attacks on Christian conservatives.

    errrr ... uhhhhhh ... the fact of the matter is ... errrr ... uhhhhhh ... Laura ... errrr ... uhhhhhh ...

    The guy spends 5 minutes saying absolutely nothing.

    The Unconscionable Claims of Michael J. Fox

    From The American Thinker:
    The popular and appealing actor Michael J. Fox has taken to the airwaves in Senate battleground states Missouri, Maryland, and New Jersey with a highly misleading ad urging defeat of Republican Senatorial candidates opposing the use of taxpayer dollars to fund new embryonic stem cell line research. He states,

    “Stem cell research offers hope to millions of Americans with diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s…. But George Bush and Michael Steele would put limits on the most promising stem cell research.”

    Mr. Fox and his ads’ sponsors are guilty of conflating embryonic stem cell research, which the GOP candidates and many Americans oppose for destroying a human life in the name of curing other people’s diseases, with stem cell research in general, which includes adult stem cell research and umbilical cord blood stem cell research.

    The only limits in question are on federal funding of new embryonic stem cell lines, requiring the sacrifice of new embryos. Private and state-funded research (California voters are spending six billion dollars borrowing money to fund this) is ongoing. The implicit claim that research based on new embryos is “the most promising” is absurd, completely unsupported by the scientific literature, and an insult to voters, based as it is on the assumption that they are incapable of understanding the issue. Too stupid to tell the difference, is the elitist assumption underlying this campaign.
    (emphasis in original)

    Flim-flam is a charitable description.

    My Comments:
    "Unconscionable Claims" and "Flim-flam"

    Where I come from back in East Texas, we call it "being full of **** ".

    Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
    Missouri: Response Ad to Michael J. Fox

    Catholic Official: New Study Provides No “Ethical” Road to Stem Cell Research

    "These Boys and Girls Are NOT Spare Parts"

    “Mr. President: Veto This Bill”

    What a Bush Veto Would Mean for Stem Cells

    Rove: Bush Will Veto Embryonic Stem Cell Bill

    New Poll: Americans Continue To Oppose Funding Stem Cell Research That Destroys Human Embryos

    Missouri Senator's Stem Cell Switch Imperils Re-Election

    Biotechnology Industry Leader Says Cord Cells No Stand-In For Embryonic

    Pro-Life Conservatives Should Prepare For Another Bush Sell-Out - This Time On Stem Cells

    In Heartland, Stem Cell Research Meets Fierce Opposition

    Specter Seeks Veto-Proof Stem Cell Margin

    Catholic League: Frist is Worse Than Kerry on Embryonic Stem Cell Research

    Cardinal Keeler Criticizes Senate Majority Leader Frist’s Statement On Embryonic Stem-Cell Research

    Frist to Back Embryonic Stem Cell Research

    Jeb Bush Opposes Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research

    Hyde and Scalia, Catholics With Consequences

    George Weigel writes in the Denver Catholic Register:
    Two of the most influential Catholics in American public life mark important milestones in their lives and careers this month. The nation owes both men a large debt of gratitude.

    For the first time in a very long time, Henry Hyde’s name will not be on a ballot in this election cycle: one of the greatest Catholic legislators in U.S. history is retiring, full of years — and not a few pains — but unbroken and unbowed. It’s hard to imagine the U.S. House of Representatives without Henry Hyde, whom a television journalist of decidedly liberal views once described to me as “the smartest man in Congress.” During twenty years in the House minority, Hyde, the undisputed leader of Congressional pro-lifers, had, by force of argument and personality, an influence on politics and law that few in the majority could match. During his twelve years in the House majority, chairing the Judiciary Committee and then the International Relations Committee, Henry Hyde demonstrated that principle and robust argument can go hand-in-hand with courtesy and respect. Hyde leaves the Congress with thousands of friends and very few detractors, with the possible exception of Bill Clinton, whose praise the Congressman would likely find...unsettling.

    It has been one of the great privileges of my life to have worked with Henry Hyde since 1984, in good times and in bad, when we were winning and when we were losing. Those twenty-two years of collaboration and friendship are chock-full of memories, but perhaps my fondest recollection of Henry involves, not a great public moment, but a hospital bed. It was the late Eighties, if memory serves, Henry’s prostate was acting up, and he’d had surgery at Georgetown University Hospital during the Thanksgiving season. Late Thanksgiving morning, I went to visit him and there, in a hospital gown, with tubes coming in and out of this and that, was the quintessential Henry Hyde: larger than life, smoking a huge cigar, watching the Bears and the Lions on TV, reading a biography of William Wilberforce (the British parliamentary reformer whose agitations finally put an end to the slave trade), and cracking jokes about a would-be successor, back in Illinois, who had suddenly become solicitous for the Congressman’s health.

    That was, and is, Henry Hyde: a man of intelligence, conviction, courage, and unbounded good humor, who took on fights that others deemed unwinnable because it was the right thing to do. We’ll probably not see the like of him again, and the Republic will be the poorer for it.

    Justice Antonin Scalia has also just marked the twentieth anniversary of his appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States.

    When Justice Scalia joined the Court, the idea that judges should attend to the text of the Constitution, and the public meaning of its provisions at the time it was ratified and amended, was not, to put it gently, well established. Results-driven judging was the order of the day. Get the result right, proponents of this view argued (and there were both liberals and conservatives among them); then figure out a plausible argument to support that result. Justice Scalia begged to differ. In his settled opinion, judging that wasn’t anchored in the text, in its original public meaning, amounted to the judicial hijacking of politics, with judges doing what legislators are meant to do.

    It was a lonely view, then, if a highly principled one: a jurisprudential application, some might say, of Chesterton’s famous observation that tradition is the democracy of the dead — that is, paying attention to the wisdom of our ancestors. But Justice Scalia stuck to his intellectual guns, and now finds himself as one of the senior figures in a movement that is having a marked influence on both the courts and the law schools. If the actual text of the U.S. Constitution means anything today, no small part of the credit for that must go to Justice Antonin Scalia.

    A salute, then, to two Catholics of consequence, Henry Hyde and Antonin Scalia, men of faith who brought faith and reason together in the service of America.
    (emphasis added)

    My Comments:
    Rep. Hyde will definitely be missed - one of the great pro-life figures of our time. The amendment bearing his name that forbids the use of federal funds to pay for abortions is only one among many accomplishments on behalf of the unborn in Hyde's illustrious career. "Youthful indiscretions" aside, Henry Hyde is a man of whom all faithful Catholics should be proud to have in government.

    And Justice Scalia is, quite simply, the Man.

    Tuesday, October 24, 2006

    Digest of Today's Posts (24 October 2006)

  • Hospital Admits to Burning Aborted Babies in Waste Incinerator

  • Missouri: Response Ad to Michael J. Fox

  • Humpty Dumpty Language

  • Partial-Birth Abortion Opponents "Cautiously Optimistic"

  • English Archbishop Protests Plan to Set Admissions Quotas for Faith-Based Schools

  • BBC Confesses Anti-Christian Bias

  • (Digest of Yesterday's Posts

    Hospital Admits to Burning Aborted Babies in Waste Incinerator

    From the Daily Mail (U.K.):
    One of the country's leading hospitals is throwing aborted babies into the same incinerator used for rubbish to save only £18.50 each time, it has emerged.

    Addenbrooke's Hospital, in Cambridge, said it was no longer able to afford the dignified disposal at a local crematorium of foetuses from unwanted pregnancies.

    Instead, they are being burnt in the hospital's main incinerator - which is normally used for rubbish and clinical waste.

    The revelation sparked anger and distress among church leaders and pro-life groups, as well as women whose pregnancies were terminated at the hospital.

    (emphasis added)

    My Comments:
    "The revelation sparked anger and distress among ... women whose pregnancies were terminated at the hospital."


    You'll have to excuse me once again ... my cognitive dissonance has flared up for the second time in 2 days.

    Missouri: Response Ad to Michael J. Fox

    Drudge reports:

    "... stars Jim Caviezel of 'The Passion of Christ' and Cardinals pitcher Jeff Suppan, who pitches Game 4 of World Series ..."

    (Also, an appearance by Patty Heaton.)

    And before any of the "drive-by" commenters drop in to have their say:

    Save it! I have a brother with Multiple Sclerosis. And neither he nor any of his family members are out there seeking to canibalize human life for spare parts.

    Humpty Dumpty Language

    Fr. George Rutler writes at the First Things blog, On the Square:
    Lewis Carroll anticipated the word games that demagogues play when he had Humpty Dumpty say, “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.” There are a lot of Humpty Dumptys around in our time, turning words inside out to turn the moral order upside down. They call vice “liberation” and infanticide “health care.” A few years ago, a major chain of bookshops listed a book on how to commit suicide under the category “Self-Improvement.”

    George Orwell updated Lewis Carroll in his brooding book 1984. By now “Orwellian” has become a neologism for Humpty Dumpty talk. In a famous essay called “Politics and the English Language,” Orwell wrote: “A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.”

    Foolish thoughts can also be criminal and destructive. Recently the press reported the death of a retired Massachusetts congressman who, despite having been censured for perverse and predatory sexual offences with a youth, was re-elected to office and given major leadership offices. One senator called him “a role model.” The New York Times and the Boston Globe obituaries said that he was survived by his husband. His husband. The syntax reminded us that we are a couple of decades past 1984 and language rot is now a received style. It is not just Humpty Dumpty silliness: It is a deliberate attempt to alter reality by altering the language which describes reality.

    (emphasis added)

    Partial-Birth Abortion Opponents "Cautiously Optimistic"

    From Cybercast News Service:
    (CNSNews.com) - The U.S. congressman who sponsored the federal ban on partial-birth abortion is "cautiously optimistic" that the Supreme Court will allow the ban to stand when it hears arguments on the law Nov. 8. Full Story
    My Comments:
    With "Wildcard Tony" only too willing to play Solomon and literally "split the baby", caution is good, but optimism is completely uncalled for.

    English Archbishop Protests Plan to Set Admissions Quotas for Faith-Based Schools

    From Catholic World News:
    Oct. 24 (CWNews.com) - Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham, England, has denounced government plans that would require religious schools to accept a quota of students from other religious traditions.

    The archbishop encouraged Catholic school personnel to write to their representatives in Parliament, protesting the plan, the London Daily Telegraph reports. In an article for that newspaper, Arhcbishop Nichols said that he would meet with education secretary Alan Johnson to are his own complaints against the plan, which he characterized as bigoted.

    The government argues that the plan will help to create a more "inclusive" society. Archbishop Nichols, in his letter to parochial-school teachers, observed that the government proposal would make it impossible for Church-based schools to control their own admissions policies.

    Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
    Why Vouchers Are a Bad Deal for Catholic Schools

    Church "Robustly Opposes" Quotas for Non-Catholics in Catholic Schools (Catholic Church in England & Wales)

    BBC Confesses Anti-Christian Bias

    (Hat tip: A Catholic Londoner)

    Internal memo reveals execs saying Bible tossed in trash OK, not Quran:
    An internal British Broadcasting Corporation memo reveals senior figures admitted the national news agency was guilty of promoting left-wing views and anti-Christian sentiment.

    News of the memo, reported by British media, comes as the BBC continues to struggle against claims of biased reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and distorted coverage of the global fight against terror, reports the Israeli YnetNews.com.

    The admissions of bias were made at a recent "impartiality" summit the BBC held. Most executives admitted the corporation's representation of homosexuals and ethnic minorities was unbalanced and disproportionate, YnetNews.com said. The British news agency, the report said, leaned too strongly towards political correctness, the overt promotion of multiculturalism, anti-Americanism and discrimination against the countryside.

    My Comments:
    I'm shocked.

    Monday, October 23, 2006

    Digest of Today's Posts

  • Nancy Pelosi: "My Family is Very Pro-Life"

  • Joseph Bottum's "Catholic Culture in America"

  • "Mr. Compassionate Conservatism" on Catholic Social Thought

  • Fr. Finigan in Rome

  • Steyn: Fear of Too Many Babies is Hard to Bear

  • Ohio State Remains No. 1; Michigan Passes USC for No. 2 Spot in BCS Rankings

  • The Monastery

  • (Digest of Weekend's Posts (22 October 2006))

    Nancy Pelosi: "My Family is Very Pro-Life"

    From Newsweek:
    God has given us a free will. We’re all responsible for our actions. If you don’t want an abortion, you don’t believe in it, [then] don’t have one. But don’t tell somebody else what they can do in terms of honoring their responsibilities. [ED: If you don't like slavery, then don't own slaves. But don't try to tell somebody else what property they can and can't own in honoring their financial responsibilities.] My family is very pro-life. They’re not fanatics and they’re not activists. I think they’d like it if I were not so vocally pro-choice.
    (emphasis and editorial commentary added)

    My Comments:
    "But don’t tell somebody else what they can do in terms of honoring their responsibilities."

    Excuse me while I experience a little cognitive dissonance as future Speaker Pelosi identifies having an abortion with "honoring one's responsibilities".

    Joseph Bottum's "Catholic Culture in America"

    (Hat tip: Rich Leonardi)

    Joseph Bottum's much-talked-about essay in First Things on Catholic culture in America is now available online.

    UPDATE (24 October)
    Here's Amy Welborn's take.

    And a response from Rich Leonardi.

    "Mr. Compassionate Conservatism" on Catholic Social Thought

    (Hat tip: Catholic World News)

    From The Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal:
    ALEXANDRIA, Va.--Amid the cut and thrust of the midterm elections, two questions have frothed up within the recesses of the GOP--almost as an arcane distraction from the squalid business of holding on to House and Senate: Has compassionate conservatism worked? And should Republicans try it again?

    Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey has made his position plain. In a recent open letter from his organization, Freedomworks, he assailed some leaders of the religious right, suggesting that if Republicans lose in November it would be because they have abandoned the principle of limited government in favor of embracing government for supposedly conservative ends. Meanwhile, David Kuo, former deputy director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, has complained in recent interviews and op-eds that the biggest promises of compassionate conservatism, especially the support of faith-based initiatives, have been broken.

    Perhaps the best person to sort out this business is Michael Gerson, George W. Bush's chief speechwriter from the beginning of his presidential campaign through the end of his first term, and then White House senior policy adviser until June. Now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Gerson is plotting a book about the future of conservatism. He has been giving a lot of thought to its history.

    Known around the White House as "Mr. Compassionate Conservatism," Mr. Gerson tells me: "I think it's a political truth that one reason we won the 2000 election was that Republicans finally had a message on education and welfare. In 2008, they will have to have something other than a simplistic antigovernment message." In Mr. Gerson's view, "compassionate conservatism is the theory that the government should encourage the effective provision of social services without providing the service itself." It was, in effect, a conservative twofer: limiting the scope of government and empowering faith-based institutions by entrusting to the latter services that had traditionally been performed by the former. Or so the thinking went.

    Mr. Gerson acknowledges that the antigovernment impulse "has a lot of intellectual energy" and has produced some "very healthy institutions and smart people with important policy prescriptions." But he is more interested in the strain of conservatism that is drawn from Catholic social thought, which stresses that human beings are responsible for others' welfare, and that the functions of society ought to be performed by the most local authority possible.

    Yet Mr. Gerson is an evangelical, not a Catholic. And before being hired by the president, he worked for two other prominent evangelicals, both of whom he counts among the pioneers of compassionate conservatism: Prison Fellowship founder Chuck Colson and Sen. Dan Coats of Indiana. Mr. Colson plucked Mr. Gerson from Wheaton College (Billy Graham's alma mater) in 1986, where he studied theology. Wheaton has no Catholics on its faculty, but has led an intellectual charge to get evangelicals to think more about Catholic teachings. "It's almost a shame to say," Mr. Gerson laments, "but evangelicalism doesn't have that rich a tradition, and so you look for other sources that represent an authentic Christian witness in society."

    Mr. Gerson's debt to Catholic teachings is also apparent on issues such as immigration. I asked him why, when most religious groups lined up this year to support the president's immigration proposals, evangelicals were noticeably absent. "There has been a significant history of Catholic reflection on immigration," Mr. Gerson says. He believes that a more "conspicuously global church" like the Catholic one is more likely to realize "that human beings in every culture and across every border have a radical equality before God." He also believes that evangelicals (and many secular Republicans) have succumbed "to one of the traditional temptations of conservatism": defining our national identity in terms of culture instead of ideals.


    Fr. Finigan in Rome

    Fr. Tim Finigan of The Hermeneutic of Continuity, is in Rome. Read about it here, here, and here.

    Steyn: Fear of Too Many Babies is Hard to Bear

    Columnist Mark Steyn writes in the Chicago Sun-Times:
    Last Tuesday morning, in a maternity ward somewhere in the United States, the 300 millionth American arrived. He or she got a marginally warmer welcome than Mark Foley turning up to hand out the prizes at junior high. One could have predicted the appalled editorials from European newspapers aghast at yet another addition to the swollen cohort of excess Americans consuming ever more of the planet's dwindling resources. And, when Canada's National Post announced "'Frightening' Surge Brings US To 300m People," you can appreciate their terror: the millions of Democrats who declared they were moving north after Bush's re-election must have placed incredible strain on Canada's highways, schools, trauma counselors, etc.

    But the wee bairn might have expected a warmer welcome from his or her compatriots. Alas not. "Three hundred million seems to be greeted more with hand-wringing ambivalence than chest-thumping pride," observed the Washington Post, which inclines toward the former even on the best of days. No chest-thumping up in Vermont, either. "Organizations such as the Shelburne-based Population Media Center are marking the 300 million milestone with renewed warnings that world population growth is unsustainable," reported the Burlington Free Press. Across the country, the grim milestone prompted this reaction from a somber Dowell Myers. "At 300 million," noted the professor of urban planning and demography at the University of Southern California, "we are beginning to be crushed under the weight of our own quality-of-life degradation."

    I, on the other hand, was feeling pretty chipper about the birth of the cute l'il quality-of-life degrader. The previous day, my new book was published. You'll find it in all good bookstores -- it's propping up the slightly wonky rear left leg of the front table groaning under the weight of unsold copies of Peace Mom by Cindy Sheehan. Anyway, the book -- mine, not Cindy's -- deals in part with the geopolitical implications of demography -- i.e., birth rates. That's an easy subject to get all dry and statistical about, so I gotta hand it to my publicist: arranging for the birth of the 300 millionth American is about as good a promotional tie-in as you could get and well worth the 75 bucks he bribed the guy at the Census Bureau. But, even if you haven't got a book to plug, the arrival of Junior 300 Mil is something everyone should celebrate.

    The reality is that in a Western world ever more wizened and barren the 300 millionth American is the most basic example of American exceptionalism. Happy birth day, kid, and here's to many more.


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