Wednesday, December 21, 2005

They just. don't. get it.

The new issue of Newsweek has the stars of the movie The Da Vinci Code (Tom Hanks plays the lead [thanks, Tom]) on its cover. In the cover story, writer Devin Gordon refers to the "inflammatory, if well-traveled, conspiracy theory" of the novel: "that Christ was married to Mary Magdalene and fathered a daughter, whose bloodline has survived into present-day Europe—and that the Catholic Church has been covering up the "truth" for 2,000 years."

What Mr. Gordon doesn't mention -- presumably because he doesn't know any better -- is that there is something a teeny bit more inflammatory about this fiction-posing-as-truth: that Jesus of Nazareth was not God.

No biggie, though.

Oh: please don't comment on how I'm being ridiculous because "it's just a novel". Brown believes the basic lines of the thesis, and his forward tries to pass the thesis off as true. And early on, he relentlessly asserted the factuality of his historical assertions (until experts and other informed commenters started demonstrating their utter falsity). Not only that, but plenty of people apparently think it really is true.

So: if that's your line, don't bother.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Iraq = Vietnam?

As I've said before, nope.

Read more here.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

SSA and the priesthood

Robert Gotcher has a very interesting post on the issue of same-sex attraction and the priesthood in light of the recent Vatican instruction on the issue.

I highly recommend you check it out.
Jesuit, not Catholic

From the Boston College student newspaper:
    The Issue: BC denies GLBT dance due to conflict with the church
    What we think: BC should follow Jesuit values, not Catholic doctrine
In the latter line, one finds a contradiction: there is no conflict between Jesuit values and Catholic doctrine. Period.

Monday, December 05, 2005

How 'bout that

Turns out that the day after Thanksgiving is not the biggest shopping day of the year.


HT: Bill Cork.
"Without Roots"

In case you haven't heard, that's the title of a forthcoming book in english translation written by Pope Benedict. The subtitle indicates the nature of the work: "Europe, Relativism, Christianity, Islam". It's due out on February 1st.

See here for more.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The German takes a Pole, the Pole takes a French, hi-ho the derry-o...

Earlier today I received an email from a fellow Romano, Fr. David Pignato of the Diocese of Fall River. Fr. Pignato and I had classes together at the Angelicum, and among our professors was a polish priest, Fr. Wojciech Giertych, OP.

Fr. Giertych is an outstanding moral theologian. He is especially liked by his students for his Fundamental Moral Theology course, which I (unfortunately) did not "have" to take because I had a similar course in my undergrad years at Steubenville. In my case (and Fr. David's as well), I had Fr. Giertych for a seminar on Veritatis Splendor.

In the last few years, Fr. Giertych's teaching load at the Angelicum was lightened as he took on greater administrative responsibilities for the Dominican order.

Today, his load got a whole lot lighter.

In his email, Fr. David informed some of his fellow Angelicum alumni that Fr. Giertych was appointed today as the Theologian of the Papal Household! Fr. Giertych succeeds Fr. Georges Cottier, another Dominican who held the office since 1989.

As tonight's Zenit story explains (it'll be up at the website tomorrow), the role of the Theologian of the Papal Household is to give the nihil obstat to all the texts written by those who collaborate with the pope in the preparation of addresses, messages, etc. The office was first held by St. Dominic in the 13th century, and ever since then has been held by a Dominican.

This is exciting news for anyone who knows Fr. Giertych; let's make sure that he's in our prayers as he undertakes this new position.

St. Dominic, pray for us!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Leaving now or later?

Earlier this week, Democrat Jack Murtha (described by the AP as "one of Congress' most hawkish Democrats") made big news when he "called Thursday for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq."

Note that carefully: according to the AP (and other major media outlets), he called for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. And there was no correction of that description from Murtha or anyone else.

Yesterday, the Republicans said, "fine. You Democrats want a withdrawal? Let's put it to a vote." So they offered a resolution virtually identical to Murtha's and put it to a vote.

Guess what how the vote went: 403-3 in opposition.

Now, Democrats were up in arms because the resolution called for an immediate withdrawal, while Murtha apparently wanted a withdrawal when practicable.

So tell me: what's the difference between the latter view and the President's view? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Yet Murtha made it clear that things aren't going right, and that we need to change direction and "redeploy now. This was (rightly) interpreted to mean that he was calling for an immediate withdrawal, because the only other possible interpretation of his words is virtually identical to the President's position.

In the end, the Democrats' bluff was called, and they voted against an immediate withdrawal, despite their unending pressers for weeks, it seems, calling for an immediate withdrawal.

So, what do the Democrats stand for when it comes to the war?

Friday, November 18, 2005

If contraception, then abortion

Another excellent post at Right Reason today, this one on the unlikely prospects for a decisive pro-life turn in our culture as long as contraception is widely accepted. The author, Christopher Tollefsen, argues that we must seek -- one person at a time, not via political or legal action -- to cure our culture of its contraceptive mentality for its own sake and for the sake of the pro-life cause.

Naturally, this will be a bit unsettling to those pro-lifers who are not morally opposed to contraception, but he is nonetheless right on.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Doubting the genealogical method in theology/philosophy

Thomas of Endlessly Rocking has a very interesting post in which he questions the genealogical approach to identifying the origins of modernity and its attendent problems.

In short, this approach -- which is used by von Balthasar and the Radically Orthodox, among others -- "holds" that the origin of a "position" is found by tracing its intellectual ancestors (hence the name "geneaological method").

Thomas first notes that he has been a practioner of this method himself, or at least has been in agreement with the more notable of said practioners. But he then proceeds to poder about the validity of the method.

If you're at all interested in questions of modernity, liberalism (the broader variety), and Ressourcement or Radical Orthodoxy theology, check this post out.
Originalism: Intentionalism or Textualism?

Interesting post and discussion at Right Reason on which species of originalism is better.
Today in history...

From The Writer's Almanac for Thursday, November 17th, 2005:

    It was on this day in 1968 that NBC interrupted its coverage of a football game between the Oakland Raiders and the New York Jets with one minute remaining in order to show the scheduled movie Heidi, about an orphaned girl who goes to live with her grandfather in the Swiss Alps.

    In the last minute of the game, the Raiders scored two touchdowns, coming from behind to win the game 43 to 32. Football fans were enraged. So many people called to complain that the NBC's telephone switchboard in New York City blew 26 fuses.

    It was that game, and the storm of protest by fans, that forced TV executives to realize how passionate the audience for football really was. Two years later, networks began showing football on Monday nights as well. And because of that game, the NFL now has a contract with the networks that all football games will be shown until their completion.

I bet the fans were unhappy... the Raiders won!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Those Pesky Pro-lifers!

You've probably heard about the girl attended a Sacramento all-girls Catholic school whose mom complained about a teacher who was a Planned Barrenhood escort, resulting in the firing of the latter after the Bishop got involved.

A couple weeks later, the girl was expelled.

You can read the latest on this at her blog, here. She presents all of the documentation in question regarding her expulsion, and from where I sit, the school administration had no moral grounds for expelling her. While they might be entitled to do so legally, the reasons they put forth to justify their actions do not hold water.

If you can stomach it, read through the comments in the above and other posts at her blog; the lack of a Catholic understanding on the part of some of the students and alumnae is sadly apparent.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Our Iraq Exit Strategy: Victory

And nothing less.

If you agree, visit and spread the word about No End But Victory (see this for more).
"Justice" system?

I have a guilty pleasure: the tv show "Boston Legal", created by David Kelley, who is liberal in both the political and Catholic senses of the term. His politics often come out in the show, but generally they do not outweigh the other, more positive dimensions of the show. Simply put, the man knows his business, and he does it very, very well. He manages to create a program that is both very funny and simultaneously fairly substantial, whatever his own politics, apart from the more egregious instances of outright propaganda.


In tonight's episode, the law firm to which the characters belong represents a man who is by his own admission to them guilty of negligent homicide (he hit and killed a man with his car). Candace Bergen's character is the lead attorney on the case, and she succeeds in getting a not-guilty verdict for her client.

I just don't get that.

Isn't it called the "justice" system for a reason? How is it that defense attorneys can conscientiously defend clients whom they know to be guilty of the charges made against them? I've heard the argument made that this prompts the state to make its best case, but that's not what the justice system is about, is it? It's about the guilty being punished and the innocent not, right? So what's the justification for defending someone who is admittedly guilty of what they are charged with?

I'm hoping someone can explain this to me in a manner that doesn't make a travesty of the idea and virtue of justice.
From the WSJ of late:

An article on the "spiritual but not religious"/"do-it-yourself religion" demographic.

Another demographic article: "Old Age Tsunami: Asia's graying populations could roil the global economy."
Catholic Carnival is up!

Check it out!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Mamma's boys

This article explains how Italy's low (sub-replacement) birthrate is due to the fact that many Italian men live at home well into their thirties; in fact, 40% of Italian men age 30-34 still live at home.

Based on my time in Rome, I can vouch for the argument of this article... it's true, pure and simple.

The Italian mammas need to give their boys the boot, and the latter need to take some responsibility of their own.
New Information Technology Device

From Fr. Neuhaus:

    Introducing the new Bio-Optic Organized Knowledge device—trade-named: BOOK.

    BOOK is a revolutionary breakthrough in technology: no wires, no electric circuits, no batteries, nothing to be connected or switched on. It’s so easy to use, even a child can operate it.

    Compact and portable, it can be used anywhere—even sitting in an armchair by the fire—yet it is powerful enough to hold as much information as a CD-ROM.

    Here’s how it works: BOOK is constructed of sequentially numbered sheets of recyclable paper, each capable of holding thousands of bits of information. The pages are locked together with a custom-fit device called a binder which keeps the sheets in their correct sequence.

    Opaque Paper Technology (OPT) allows manufacturers to use both sides of the sheet, doubling the information density and cutting costs. Experts are divided on the prospects for further increases in information density; for now, BOOKS with more information simply use more pages. Each sheet is scanned optically, registering information directly into your brain. A flick of the finger takes you to the next sheet.

    BOOK may be taken up at any time and used merely by opening it.

    BOOK never crashes or requires rebooting, though, like other devices, it can become damaged if coffee is spilled on it and it becomes unusable if dropped too many times on a hard surface. The “browse” feature allows you to move instantly to any sheet, and move forward or backward as you wish. Many come with an “index” feature, which pin-points the exact location of any selected information for instant retrieval.

    An optional “BOOKmark” accessory allows you to open BOOK to the exact place you left it in a previous session—even if the BOOK has been closed. BOOKmarks fit universal design standards; thus, a single BOOKmark can be used in BOOKs by various manufacturers. Conversely, numerous BOOK markers can be used in a single BOOK if the user wants to store numerous views at once. The number is limited only by the number of pages in the BOOK. You can also make personal notes next to BOOK text entries with optional programming tools, Portable Erasable Nib Cryptic Intercommunication Language Styli (PENCILS).

    Portable, durable, and affordable, BOOK is being hailed as a precursor of a new entertainment wave. BOOK’s appeal seems so certain that thousands of content creators have committed to the platform and investors are reportedly flocking to invest. Look for a flood of new titles soon.

Sounds exciting! ;-)

Friday, November 11, 2005


From the President's speech today:
    And our debate at home must also be fair-minded. One of the hallmarks of a free society and what makes our country strong is that our political leaders can discuss their differences openly, even in times of war. When I made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, Congress approved it with strong bipartisan support. I also recognize that some of our fellow citizens and elected officials didn't support the liberation of Iraq. And that is their right, and I respect it. As President and Commander-in-Chief, I accept the responsibilities, and the criticisms, and the consequences that come with such a solemn decision.

    While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began. (Applause.) Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs.

    They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein. They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction. And many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: "When I vote to give the President of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security." That's why more than a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate -- who had access to the same intelligence -- voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power. (Applause.)

They're already known as The Three Paragraphs. And rightly so. You can't pretend you didn't support the war before when you seek to oppose it now.

But I don't think this is about the truth anymore. It's about power politics. It's about trying to score points against the President, to tie his hands and weaken his support so that he's unable to implement his agenda and in so doing set the stage for more GOP victories in '06.

Most politics isn't about doing what's right for the American people anymore, and I think that applies to people on both sides. But I think it applies more to the Democrats, because they're the minority party now, and they'll do anything to get back into the majority.

Look that the "Blue Dogs" in the House. These are self-described conservative democrats who -- among other things -- want to see some degree of reduced federal spending. But not one of them -- not a one -- will give their support to HR 4241, which by and large just seeks to reduce spending increases in the next budget. Pelosi has her troops in line, and their following party over principle, presumably in the hope that partisan discipline will help them ultimately at the ballot box in '06, '08, and beyond.

We'll see, I guess.

(For the few liberals and/or democrats who read this blog, I'd be happy to hear how I'm wrong, or how the GOP is just as bad as your team. Seriously. I know this post is a bit "rantier" than normal, but don't take that to mean that I'm unable to hear what you have to say. So, comment or email away.)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Pope's Latinist

Fr. Reginald "Reggie" Foster, OCD, is the papal latinist, and probably the greatest latinist in the world (some people have said his latin is better than Virgil's). He's the one who wrote the latin text for Pope Benedict's first formal address to the Cardinals the day after his election.

He's also very eccentric. Having always worn his habit, he took it off for good the day after JPII mandated that all clergy in Rome had to wear either clerics or their religious habit. And in an interview with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune a few years ago (Fr. Foster is from Milwaukee), he referred to the (private) Masses he's celebrated in the nude.

If you're curious about the guy (and I'd be surprised if you weren't), you can check out his weekly podcast at Vatican Radio, The Latin Lover; pretty interesting listening, as you might imagine.
Exciting news on the adult stem cell research front

Read this.
Bush and Chirac

From Fr. Neuhaus:
    One notes in passing that President Bush was much criticized for taking two days before making a national address about Katrina and the devastation of the Gulf Coast. He should have responded more quickly. By way of contrast, however, President Jacques Chirac of France waited until the violence had raged for eleven days in hundreds of cities before addressing the nation, and has been invisible since.
I wouldn't think things like nationwide riots lasting a week and a half without government intervention happened in a civilized nation.
You know, he does have other things to do

The following comes from today's Washington Post:
    VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday reaffirmed creation as the driving force of the universe, describing the natural world as an "intelligent project" and rejecting scientific thought that regards the history of the universe as random and directionless.

    The pope's remarks on evolution came one day after the Kansas Board of Education voted 6 to 4 to adopt new standards that cast doubt on Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, though it was unclear whether the two developments were related.

    In comments that echo arguments made by intelligent design advocates, the pope at his weekly audience described the world as a product of "creative reason, the reason that has created everything, that has created this intelligent project."

"though it was unclear whether the two developments were related"??? You have got to be kidding me... does the Washington Post really think that Pope Benedict has been carefully watching the developments regarding Kansas' Board of Education? Do they really think he has that kind of time?

Once again, evidence of a deep-seated assumption that America is at the center of the world's attention 24-7.


HT: Hugh Hewitt.

Truth and Objectivity

An interesting post and comments on the nature of truth and objectivity at the groupblog Generous Orthodoxy, from self-described progressive evangelicals.

Martin Luther was born on this day in 1483. He is 522 years old. Pray for him.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Back in September, the archbishop of Granada, Spain -- Javier Martinez -- invited about 25 theologians from the US and Europe -- both Protestant and Catholic -- to a theological convention he called "Meetings for a New Beginning". Archbishop Martinez gathered together in particular scholars from three different "schools" -- Catholic la nouvelle theologie, Anglican-Catholic Radical Orthodoxy, and the Protestant-Catholic "Duke School" of Stanley Hauerwas -- to talk about the Church in the present cultural and social moment.

Reformed theologian and "member" of the Radical Orthodoxy school, James KA Smith, was an attendee, and offered a series of three "dispatches from Spain" back in September (here, here, and here). Now, in the new issue of Traces, the monthly magazine of the Catholic movement Communion and Liberation, cielina and scholar Elisa Buzzi shares her own thoughts on the meetings, as well as some brief interviews with Archbishop Martinez and Stanley Hauerwas. You can see the table of contents of this issue here, and when the next issue comes out, you'll be able to read these articles online.

This sounds like it was a very interesting meeting; if anyone knows more about it, I'd love to hear from you.
Radical blog

I was recently invited to join the blog Radical Preaching, which has as its subtitle, "Can preaching again have something to say? This blog marks the attempt to bring the theological vision of Radical Orthodoxy into the worship and preaching of the local church."

Check it out... I'm sure many of you will find it somewhat provocative :-)

Monday, November 07, 2005

Liberalism (including George W. Bush)

I posted the following at la novelle theologie today:

Recently, David referred anew to his list of reasons for disagreement with Michael Novak and his “Whig Thomism” theology. After a brief email discussion, I accepted David’s invitation to work together on a series of posts elaborating on the reasons for disagreement; I’m not with David on all of them (e.g. the Iraq War), but for those which I’d see as foundational or fundamental, we see eye to eye.

(I also want to note that I consider this a work in progress, and I’m more than open to constructive criticism.)

With that brief introduction, let’s get to it…

First on David’s list is the following: “1. The death of God for our times, for our culture, for us, is Liberalism.”

I see this as the most important of the points, and I’m completely with David on it. So… what does it mean?

Speaking for myself (although I think Major Jones would echo me), there are a number of important theologians and philosophers who have led me to the view that Liberalism is Public Enemy Number One when it comes to widespread contemporary worldviews in opposition to the Catholic understanding of reality. (NB: “widespread” and “contemporary” are both important qualifiers in that statement; don’t forget them.) In order of my “discovery” of those thinkers (“discovery” meaning my awareness of their opposition to Liberalism), they are as follows:

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
David Schindler
Alasdair MacIntyre
Tracey Rowland
Robert Kraynak
Peter Augustine Lawler

There are others as well, but these serve as the primary sources for my views on the matter.

So, what is this “Liberalism” which David and I see as such a threat to Catholicism? Essentially, liberalism in all its forms (more on this below) is characterized by the autonomy of the individual, which results in the individual as the primary focal point of every form of discourse: political, social, cultural, religious, etc. (We see this evidenced today in what Mary Ann Glendon referred to as “Rights Talk”: you can’t have a very significant substantial conversation without someone’s (or some group’s) rights being referred to in one form or another.) This characterization of liberalism goes by a common name: individualism.

However, individualism is not the only feature of liberalism: the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre is well-known for his critique of what he calls “the Enlightenment project”. MacIntyre uses this term to describe the attempt by Enlightenment philosophers to construct a “public morality” accessible to reason alone, i.e. without any reference whatsoever to religion and acceptable to anyone with the basic ability to think. (MacIntyre convincingly demonstrates how such a project is an ultimately futile one.) This, too, tends to define liberalism broadly understood.

It’s important to note that liberalism in this sense encompasses the vast majority of political discourse in our country today; virtually all of those people who describe themselves as liberal and conservative are actually liberals in this broad sense. MacIntyre explains how there are radical liberals (communists, nihilists, etc.), liberal liberals (John Kerry et al), and conservative liberals (George Bush et al), but all of them are liberal in this larger sense. (The conservatives people like Russell Kirk.)

Now, why is liberalism understood in this sense the death of God for our times? Because of its amazing capacity to create and sustain (false) antagonistic dualisms, e.g. faith and reason; body and soul; church and state; religion and life. Note well: I’m certainly not denying that each element of each pair of terms is distinguishable from the other… that’s obviously true. My point here is that liberalism doesn’t merely distinguish between (for example) faith and reason: rather, it puts them in opposition to one another at a fundamental level.

Ultimately, liberalism is so problematic because of its propensity to separate religion from “everyday life”. I’d submit that the vast majority of Americans fail to structure their lives according to their faith at an ontological (as opposed to moral) level. Were you to ask someone how being Christian informs and shapes (for example) their profession, you’d be lucky to get more than, “I don’t cheat, lie, or steal because of my faith” (i.e. moralism). What we’re talking about here is the split between the faith believers profess and the lives they live which Vatican II and Pope Paul VI referred to as the great drama of our times. And I think a convincing argument can be made that the origin for this drama is liberalism.

What we’re talking about here is secularism: the view that denies religion’s intrinsically pervasive nature. Secularism tries to create the “naked public square,” i.e. to make religion a purely private matter without bearing and impact on the public life of a nation. I would argue that secularism is one of the logical consequences of liberalism, in spite of the fact that some liberals (e.g. conservative liberals) might themselves be vociferous opponents of secularism. In other words, there is a logic of liberalism which inexorably works itself out, whatever the positive and good intentions of individual liberals.

It is precisely because of its secularist consequences that liberalism is regarded by people like David and myself as the “death of God for our times”. If we want to get to the heart of the problem of secularism, dealing with the problem of liberalism is a necessary consequence.

Friday, November 04, 2005


In light of a recent discussion about what it means to be Catholic, the following is from the letter's page of yesterday's issue of the Rapid City Journal.
    Live your faith

    In Mary Garrigan's (Oct. 23) column on declining vocations, she claims that mandatory celibacy is a major reason for our shortage of priests. In truth, there are fewer vocations because there's a shortage of holy Catholics who understand and live their faith.

    If I call myself a vegetarian, but I eat meat, does that mean I'm an unorthodox vegetarian? If I proclaim there'd be more vegetarians if we all just ate meat, does that mean I'm more open-minded and progressive than traditional vegetarians? No. It means I'm not a vegetarian.

    So it is with spurious Catholics. If you don't practice the teachings of your faith, you aren't Catholic. If you don't understand your faith, but think you know more than the collective wisdom of our 2,000-year-old church, then you're a prideful, ignorant, spurious Catholic.

    There are many pro-abort, contracepting, priestess-promoting, pro-homosexual marriage, anti-annulment, "Holy Eucharist is just bread" parishioners who think like Garrigan, but they aren't living their faith either.

    If you don't like Catholicism, there are plenty other denominations to choose from. Just stop professing to be something you aren't.

    Vocations come from good Catholic families and good Catholic families come from holy Catholics understanding and living their faith.


    Rapid City
I don't agree with everything herein (as I've said elsewhere, I'd prefer that Catholics who disagree with Church teaching stay in the Church and spend some time prayerfully studying the issue), but I do like the meat-eating vegetarian analogy.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Blessed John Duns Scotus & Unintended Consequences

John Duns Scotus was one of the leading theologians of the late medieval period (he lived from 1265-1308). Unfortunately for him, his name is the origin of the modern word "dunce", indicating someone who ain't to keen. In fact, he is known as the "Subtle Doctor" for the rigor of his intellectual work. He was the thinker who developed an explanation for Mary's Immaculate Conception which was later ratified ex cathedra when Pope Pius IX defined that Marian doctrine, and Scotus was also renowned during his own lifetime for his holiness: virtully immediately upon his death, he was referred to as "blessed" (his official canonization wouldn't come for quite some time: JPII beatified him in 1992!).

Having said that, I've found over the last several years that we've got the good doctor to thank for all sorts of problems in theology (and hence, elsewhere). For instance...

First, in research for my dissertation, I found that while Ockham is rightly criticized for positions on sin and grace which Luther would rightly reject (erroneously believing that they articulated authentic Catholicism), many of Ockham's problematic positions could be traced at least in part to Scotus' own thinking.

More recently, I've found scholars who argue that criticisms of virtue ethics trace themselves beyond Kant and Ockham to Scotus and his division of the will.

Finally and also recently, I've found that the theological "tendency" called Radical Orthodoxy sees Scotus' metaphysics as the harbinger of modernity and its attendent secularism.

Now, I think it's clear that we're talking about unintended consequences here; Scotus was a faithful son of the Church, a holy man, and a brilliant thinker. But some of his thoughts turned out to have conclusions which were and are detrimental to Catholic Christian thought and practice.
Anti-Republican racism

Take a deep breath, then read this.
Radical Orthodoxy and JPII's Theology of the Body

I've finally gotten around to reading James K.A. Smith's Introducing Radical Orthodoxy, and it's really an exciting read, especially for anyone favorable towards the ressourcement school of Catholic theology.

There are all sorts of quotes from the book I've thought about posting, but one in particular finally got me to the keyboard; it is as follows:
    Contemporary scholarship in a plurality of fields has demonstrated that how we think about the body has a direct impact on our politics and our construction of social reality. In other words, dualistic understandings that devalue embodiment often give rise to totalitarian organizations of social arrangements. Further, such dualistic devaluations of the body are reductionistic, producing notions of being human that are driven by factors that consider many aspects of embodiment unnecessary or at least merely supplemental. (104)
As one might infer from the title of this post, this passage reminded me of John Paul II's Theology of the Body project, which -- among other things -- stresses the importance, significance, and implications of our embodiedness for our understanding of the human person and human society. It reminds me as well of Robert George's outstanding article, "A Clash of Orthodoxies", in which George outlines how a dualistic understanding of the human person is at the heart of secularism's moral errors.

As George, Smith, and JPII demonstrate(d), getting our understanding of what it mean to be human has profound implications.
Senate fun, PlameGate, and Iraq

Yesterday I duplicated a post by Jonah Goldberg which pithily explained how Plamegate doesn't have the connection to the case for war which some people think it does.

Today, the Wall Street Journal has an outstanding editorial (presumably written by op-ed editor Paul Gigot) which explains point-by-point how all of the evidence and investigations done heretofor exonerate the Bush administration from claims of intelligence manipulation.

Regardless of your opinion on the matter, this is a must read.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

As to Plamegate and the Just-ness of the War...

What Jonah said:
    SMEARING WILSON [Jonah Goldberg]

    In arguments with readers and others I keep hearing the same argument: Why would the White House go to such lengths to smear Wilson if what he was saying wasn't true?

    I just don't get it. At all. First of all, What lengths? Was I out of the country when the White House mounted a full bore assault on Wilson? When I ask for examples from people peddling this the answer invariably is "They outed Valerie Plame!"

    Well, that's actually the subject of considerable debate, no? Novak's source wasn't charged with anything. Novak himself was an opponent of the war, so why would he be the go-to guy for a smear campaign? The conversations Libby allegedly had were brief. The evidence that the motive of her outing was punishment as opposed to a desire to rebut Wilson has never been presented. The fact that a smear is usually associated with saying something untrue as opposed to true -- as was the case here -- is often overlooked as well.

    But, whatever, we will be debating that for a long time. But where is the rest of the smear campaign? Is the entire list taken up by the Valerie Plame outing? Is that all there is?

    Moreover, let's assume I just missed this smear campaign and it really took place. Why does it follow that the White House would only come down on Wilson like a ton of bricks if he was telling the truth? Doesn't it make exactly as much sense to come down like a ton of bricks on a guy if you think he's lying? Especially when those lies are undermining the war? Indeed, there's vastly more evidence that Wilson launched -- with the aid of a still pliant media and the Kerry campaign -- a smear campaign against the White House. Is it really so outrageous that the White House would respond? Particularly given the larger political climate? I just don't get it.

Nor do I, Jonah.
Catholic Carnival is up!

You can find the All Saints/All Souls edition at bearing blog.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Alito & FT

Judge Alito -- whose nomination, by the way, I'm very excited about -- is apparently a ROFTER: Reader Of (the monthly journal) First Things.


Monday, October 31, 2005

Reformation Day and the posting [sic] of the 95 Theses

In light of the fact that many fellow Christians celebrate today as Reformation Day (or yesterday as Reformation Sunday), I'd like to "reprint" one of my earliest posts:
    Luther's 95 Theses

    If you asked anyone who knows anything about Church History in the West to pinpoint a specific moment or event which can be considered the beginning of the Reformation, the answer would probably be Martin Luther's posting of his 95 theses on indulgences on the door of the castle church in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517. By this act, Luther is seen as rejecting the whole medieval system of indulgences and their associated doctrines and practices; in so doing, he makes his break from Rome, or at least begins to do so in a definitive way. In fact, many Protestant churches celebrate October 31st as "Reformation Day", indicating the importance of that date and Luther's actions on it in 1517 vis. the Reformation churches and communities. This date, then, has been widely regarded as the beginning of the Reformation. However...

    In all likelihood, it never happened. Luther never nailed his theses on indulgences to the church door in Wittenberg.

    Skeptical? I was, when I first heard of this theory not long ago. Nonetheless, I ask you to indulge me (pun intended) for a few moments...

    This argument was first made in 1961 (yes, over 40 years ago) by a Jesuit priest and Luther scholar (no, that's not a contradiction in terms) in Germany named Erwin Iserloh. Fr. Iserloh argued that the generally-held narrative was in fact a legend. He made his case based on a variety of arguments, some of which are as follows:

    1. The first written account of Luther's nailing his theses came from Phillip Melanchthon, which he wrote in 1548 three years after Luther was dead and over 30 years after the fact. Furthermore, Phillip wasn't even in Wittenberg in 1517 -- he was called there in 1518 -- meaning that he was not an eyewitness.

    2. Following from this, then, Luther never refers to the alleged event. In fact, he was initially unhappy with the fact that his theses were being spread around Germany; we know from his writings that he had given copies to friends, but that they were to be used for scholarly discussion, not widespread public debate.

    3. We do know from historical records that Luther mailed his theses to his Archbishop, the attached cover letter being very respectful in tone towards Luther's ecclesiastical superior. In other words, Luther did not seek to publicly attack the current doctrine of indulgences (at least not yet), but rather he followed the canonically-correct procedure and mailed his theses to his superior.

    4. Luther also stated in private correspondence after 10/31/1517 that not all of the theses were his opinions. In other words -- and again contrary to widespread belief -- the 95 theses are not an articulation on Luther's own theology of indulgences, at least not in their entirety. This is seen in that around the same time he wrote a Treatise on Indulgences, which I have read in english translation, and which -- by and large -- is perfectly compatible with Catholic teaching on indulgences. Besides the importance of this in and of itself, it corroborates the argument that Luther did not post his 95 theses, in that to do so would mean he was intending for public "consumption" ideas he did not hold to himself, while knowing that they would be circulated exactly as his ideas.

    What does this mean? That in the fall of 1517, Luther was far from the defiant rebel commonly seen by both Catholics and Protestants. Instead, he was a faithful son of the Church who sought a theological discussion on some notions concerning indulgences. It can also be shown that Luther's teaching on indulgences (at this point) was not heretical from a Catholic perspective, but in fact could have been a very positive factor, if it had ever become widely known.

    Finally, most Luther scholars (regardless of church affiliation) today accept Fr. Iserloh's argumentation; while this may not have reached the popular level, those who are heavily involved in studying Martin Luther's thought generally agree that Luther never posted the 95 theses.
As Fr. Jape said, Happy Reformation Day, and many happy returns! ;-)

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Mary Jane

Interesting thoughts on the criminalization of marijuana from Nazarene pastor, professor, and theologian John Wright. He made me consider the issue in a manner I never had previously.
Maria Shriver: pro-"choice", pro-embryonic stem cell research, and self-proclaimed "devout Catholic"

Amy Welborn comments.

With Amy, I'd hesitate to describe myself as a "devout Catholic." I prefer orthodox Catholic, but as one of Amy's commenters noted, that can be a bit confusing, so if asked, I'd say I'm a Catholic who recognizes and hence accepts that what the Catholic Church teaches is true.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Catching up...

There are a couple bloggers especially important to the Sioux Falls Diocese that I need to link, and haven't yet:

Fr. Dana Christenson


Seminarian Anthony Urban

Sorry it took so long, guys!

And I know there are other people who have linked me but haven't gotten reciprocal links yet... please comment or email me to remind me! Thanks!

Sharon tagged me; here we go...

On your blog...

1. Go into your archives.
2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to it).
3. Post the fifth sentence (or closest to it).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Tag five other people to do the same thing.

My 23rd blog was: The Left's Marriage Problem

Fifth line: "Seriously, this is a surprisingly (considering the source) good article on the Left's inexplicable animosity towards marriage; even NOW gets criticized."

Now, I'll tag: Fr. Todd, David Jones, Peter Sean Bradley, Christopher Blosser, and Kevin Miller.

Scooter Libby has been indicted on one count of obstruction, two counts under the False Statements Acts, and two counts of perjury.

What's interesting is that Libby was not charged on the primary matter at hand in this investigation: illegally leaking the name of a covert operative to the press (or anyone else, for that matter).

In any case, my hope is that justice is done: if Libby in fact broke the law, he should be so convicted and punished.

In the meantime, I look forward to blatant hypocrisy and inconsistency sure to come from at least some leftists, who vociferously argued that lying was no big deal when their man Bill did so.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Is it too much to ask politicians to make tought decisions?

From Stanley Kurtz today:
    Here's a piece from USA Today called, "Who will take care of an older population?"

    Funny how MSM didn't print stories like this while the social security debate was going on. In the eyes of history, the president's attempt to do something about the coming entitlement crisis will be seen as an act of immense courage and foresight. The shame will rest on his critics. The Democrats have doomed us to many years of inaction on this issue. Like the French and German left, they are forcing their countries to waste the critical years when something constructive could actually be done to avert the coming danger.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Bogged-down quagmire

Via Drudge, I saw this Washington Post piece on anti-war protestors' preparations for the 2,000th US military death in Iraq. At this point, 1,996 US soldiers have lost their lives in operations in Iraq.

As is well-known, opponents of this war like to make comparisons to Vietnam; just like that conflict, they claim, we are bogged down against an elusive foe in a protracted war we cannot win.

Out of curiosity, I googled "vietnam casualties year by year", and one of the search results was this page, which breaks down US casualties in Vietnam year-by-year. When you view this chart, remember that Johnson sent the first combat troops to Vietnam in March of 1965. In that year alone, 1,863 US soldiers were killed. Casualties for the next four years were 6,144, 11,153, 16,589, and 11,614, respectively.

Now, we've been in Iraq for two and a half years, meaning we're losing about 800 lives per year. While we cannot and must not shrug at that number -- any death in combat is a terrible thing -- we also have to have a bit of perspective:

This ain't Vietnam.

Again, make sure you're reading Bill Roggio.

Friday, October 21, 2005

"Some worry the Synod lack[s] theological depth"

That's the title of this section of John Allen's latest "The Word From Rome," in which Allen discusses the observations of some that the synod discussions have been "highly focused on rites, rules, and practical pastoral challenges, with relatively little attention to underlying theological principles."

He discusses this in an interview with Australian Salesian Fr. Francis Moloney, one of the theological experts of the synod, dean of CUA's School of Theology, and former member of the International Theological Commission. Fr. Moloney told Allen, "I believe there has been a fairly mediocre level of discussion among the bishops about ultimate theological and pastoral issues, which is what I think the Holy Father actually wanted." The following is especially fun to read:
    At the same time, Moloney said, the pope's own deep theological reflection should reassure anyone worried about the eventual apostolic exhortation Benedict is expected produce on the basis of the synod's input.

    "I've known him for 18 years," Moloney said. "Don't worry, he'll handle it. What he comes up with will easily outclass anything said in that hall."

Pope Benedict: he's awesome, baby!

Allen's report also mentions something I haven't noted before: that in a recent interview with Polish TV, Benedict said, "I consider it my essential and personal mission not so much to produce many new documents, but to see to it that [John Paul's] documents are assimilated, because they are a very rich treasure, the authentic interpretation of Vatican II."

Amen, Your Holiness.

Benedict's first encyclical

From this CNS story:
    Pope Benedict has yet to publish a major papal document, although he recently completed work on a 46-page encyclical for release in early December. Sources told Catholic News Service that the encyclical was a spiritual meditation focused in large part on "eros" (love) and "logos" (the word) and their relationship to the person of Christ.
This is the first word I've seen the Benedict has completed his first encyclical, and I'm very excited about it! Sounds like great Advent reading!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


Catholic Carnival Fifty-Two is up here!
"Slouching Towards Miers: Bush shows himself to be indifferent, if not hostile, to conservative values"

That's the title of Robert Bork's op-ed at OpinionJournal today.


Thursday, October 13, 2005

Theologically illiterate

It's deeply unfortunate and a bit embarassing when someone who thinks they know something about something doesn't know much about that something, but still takes up bully pulpits made available to them in order to (unintentionally) reveal their ignorance.

As with pretty much all somethings, this happens in matters theological and ecclesial, from all sorts of perspectives. Because of google news alert, today I found an example of this from a self-described progressive Catholic.

Writing in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, freelance writer Maureen Conners Badding explained why some "progressive Catholics" have spiritual fatigue.

It's all because of that oppressive and stuck-in-the-past hierarchy, you see. A hierarchy which (here comes the list of standard complaints):
  • refuses to ordain married men or women;
  • equates homosexuality with pedophilia;
  • refuses to allow the use of condoms to try to prevent the spread of AIDS;
  • prohibits birth control;
  • migrates away from Vatican II;
  • opposes yoga;
  • prohibits most forms of fertility treatment.
Ms. Conners Badding at one point (with regard to the final complaint) states, "Frankly, I have no idea if this is a new policy, because I've never heard it discussed at Sunday Mass."

That pretty much says it all. Ms. Conners Badding doesn't appear to have spent much time investigating the Church's rationale for its teachings, apart from what she hears in Sunday morning homilies. And frankly, that's pretty evident from her complaints. In some cases, she makes straightforward mistakes (e.g. positing that the Church equates homosexuality and pedophilia). In others, she is more basically unaware of the respective theological argumentation and discussion. For instance, she makes the oft-repeated call for the ordination of married men and women, ostensibly to solve a clergy shortage. Now, those in the know know that the shortage is not universal, even in our country; there are many dioceses here (and in other nations) that are doing quite well in vocations. Furthermore, one need only have some basic awareness of the state of ministry in other communities to know that opening up the ministry in the manner Ms. Conners Badding would prefer has done nothing to alleviate their clergy shortage.

She also claims that the Church has moved away from Vatican II. Based on her editorial, I seriously doubt that she has ever read the conciliar texts, nor that she has much more than a rudimentary understanding of the Council. If she did, she would know that Pope Benedict was an important theologian at the Council, and that he (like his predecessor) have often called for a full and complete implementation of the Council's vision. To state that the Church is moving away from the Council simply betrays her ignorance of that momentous event.

Much more could be said about the specific errors in this article, but there are two broad comments I'd like to conclude with.

First, Ms. Conners Badding's article indicates that rather than form her conscience and faith according to the teachings of the Church in order to serve and evangelize our society (as Vatican II intended [cf. The Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity for starters]), she has formed her faith and conscience according to secular standards and has (attempted to) judge her church on that basis. That is, she's got it backwards. I've seen this far too often: people use their own standards of right and wrong (thinking that those standards are self-evident, when in fact that are profoundly problematic) to judge the Church. Such an attitude is many things, but Catholic it is not.

Second, Ms. Conners Badding evidently does not believe what the Church believes about its identity. The Catholic Church claims that it was founded by Jesus Himself, and that He has sent the Holy Spirit to protect the Church from teaching error. In other words, the Church's self-understanding is that her teachings are true, not because of the genius of the hiearchy, but because of the grace and mercy of God.

Ms. Conners Badding obviously does not believe this about the Church. My question to her would be simple: then why be Catholic? Why bother belonging to a religious community if its teachings are not God's teachings? Struggling with particular teachings is one thing; a Catholic failing to believe that the her own Church's teachings come from Jesus is something else entirely.

My prayer and request is that anyone who struggles with a particular church teaching do two things: first, remember and rejoice in the fact that the Church is protected by the Spirit from error; and two, spend some time in prayer and study to better understand whatever teaching bothers them.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

New Permalink: Ressourcement ~ Restoration in Catholic Theology

Run by Justin Nickelsen, this blog focuses on the work of theologians like Henri de Lubac, Joseph Ratzinger, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Jean Danielou, etc.

Justin's been around for a bit now, but I'm just getting around to reading him regularly and (finally) linking him.
SJV in St. Paul

There's a great article in the Star Tribune (yes, the Strib!) about St. John Vianney college seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. It's the place we send most of our college sems and it's great to see such an outstanding article.
"A treasure offered to us"

Today marks the 43rd anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, an event which Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI viewed as a providential event and a gift to the Church in our time.

Let us pray that all the people of the Church respond to the call of both popes for for the full and complete implementation of this Council.

Catholic Carnival 51 is up! Check it out!

Friday, October 07, 2005


Julius Erving joined Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) in urging the Senate to pass a bill that would speed research on umbilical cord blood stem cells.

Way to go, Dr. J!
Who is the god of this world?

I'm prepping for a presentation for next week's Theology on Tap; on a fit of insanity, I decided that I'd give a presentation called "Finding God in Katrina" in which I'd tackle the problem of evil and suffering insofar as it relates to and impacts on faith.

First and foremost, I don't feel equal to this task; please pray for me.

Second, part of my research is David Bentley Hart's excellent work The Doors of the Sea: Where Was God in the Tsunami? In the course of the text, he discusses the dual usage of "the world" in the New Testament, especially in John's Gospel. In so doing, he references 2 Corinthians 4:4, which refers to "ho theos tou aionos toutou": the god of this world. Guess who that is, according to Paul? Satan!

Just a helpful reminder that we live and participate in a constant struggle, a spiritual warfare.

"Alla tharseite, ego nenikeka tou kosmon": But take heart! [Jesus has] conquered the world!

Thursday, October 06, 2005


Some people are wondering what I think about the Harriet Miers nomination.

With many (all?) conservatives, I'm disappointed. There were better candidates, and I wish the President was more willing to go outside his circle of comfort. My desire was for a serious intellectual candidate who could challenge the prevailing philosophies in the legal world. I don't think that's Harriet Miers.

But I do believe the President when he says she shares his judicial philosophy, and I am confident that she will properly judge the cases that come before the Court, even though her opinions may not be high-powered intellectual tomes.

So, I guess I tend to side more with Hugh Hewitt et al than Ramesh Ponnuru et al.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Iraq: A Just War?

As long-time readers of this blog know, I'm inclined to think that the Iraq War was (and is) just, especially in regard to the reasons for going to war. (To clarify, the question of "just war" touches on both why a war is fought and how it is fought; the focus here will be on the former.)

There are, of course, plenty of people who oppose the war, and for plenty of reasons. Some of those reasons are ridiculous, but some of them are at least plausible and understandable. I'm happy to see that most of those Catholics who view the war as unjust are in the latter camp.

Over the last week or so, I've been involved in a combox discussion with such a Catholic: Dr. J.P. Hubert, Jr., MD FACS at David Jones' blog (at this post). Dr. Hubert identifies himself as a Catholic ethicist, and although it does not appear that his formal education (at least at the graduate level) is in theology, his writing and argumentation indicates a good degree of familiarity and facility with Catholic moral theology.

I've decided to write a post on this discussion primarily for myself, that (hopefully) I might better lay out my position with regard to my discussion with Dr. Hubert.

As I've indicated in the most recent comments, the Schwerpunkt of our disagreement concerns this question: is the initiation of hostilities always immoral? That is, is it ever morally licit to actually attack another country first, before they attack us? Dr. Hubert believes the answers to those two questions are yes and no, respectively, while I take the opposite view.

In his recent comments, Dr. Hubert fleshes out his position in a number of ways. First, he argues that the section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church which addresses the issue of just war doctrine is entitled "Avoiding War". That is, the very fact that the CCC discusses just war under the section title "Avoiding War" indicates that the attacking first is always illicit.

Here, Dr. Hubert is giving far more weight to a section title than those titles merit. As with Scripture, Magisterial texts must be read with an awareness of the author's intention as well as the literary genre of the text. Section titles in the CCC do not serve as the basis for drawing doctrinal or dogmatic conclusions.

Dr. Hubert also notes that the Magisterium has never advocated initiating hostilities, and with that I agree, because it is true. Nonetheless, the lack of advocation is not the same as condemnation. For the Magisterium to not-assert that x is true is not to assert that x is false.

Dr. Hubert also notes that the CCC does not mention the initiation of hostilities in the section on just war doctrine, and again I agree. But again, I must note that this cannot be taken as an argument to prove that the Magisterium categorically and absolutely condemns the initiation of hostilities. The absence of an approving assertion is the not the same as a condemnation.

In one of my comments, I raised the issue of initiating an attack against a nation which is committing genocide against its own people. My argument was that if initiating hostilities was always wrong, then it would also always be wrong to attack such a nation. Dr. Hubert attempts to answer this argument as follows:
    Genocide is a unique case which represents an "aggressive attack" on an entire race or ethnic group. The entity in question is morally justified in defending against it by the principles of the JWD. If a functional peace-keeping universal entity exists (such as the U.N) whose province it is to help defend against unjust aggression including Genocide, then such a defense is morally licit (by the second law of Christ) if the entity in question is unable to repel the aggressor without it. The Magisterium supports such an action if it is advocated by a properly responsible international body. This is supportable on the basis of mercy (love) if not in justice. Importantly, the defensive action is a response to the unjust aggression of Genocide. Any unilateral such action would be more problematic however but that is a fine-point not in question here.
Here is the problem: CCC 2309 states that a just war requires damage by the aggressor (in this case, the nation committing genocide) against another nation or nations. This does not obtain in this example. If one follows the hermeneutic indicated by Dr. Hubert in his analysis of the CCC, then one is forced to conclude that it would always and everywhere be immoral for one nation or nations to initiate hostilities against a genocidal nation which has never attacked another country. (NB: I think this is a mistaken hermeneutic; I am only demonstrating the consequences it entails.)

Dr. Hubert also argues that the Magisterium in fact has indicated positively that the Iraq War was unjust. He references Pio Cardinal Laghi's mission to President Bush prior to the war, at the direction and behest of Pope John Paul II (Cardinal Laghi then relayed the Holy Father's opposition to the war). He also quotes Cardinal Ratzinger's statement, “There were not sufficient reasons to unleash a war against Iraq. To say nothing of the fact that, given the new weapons that make possible destructions that go beyond the combatant groups, today we should be asking ourselves if it is still licit to admit the very existence of a 'just war'.”

A few comments are in order. Primarily and paramount, neither of these examples constitute a direct and public teaching by the Magisterium. This is not deconstruction of language, but rather constitutes a close reading of Magisterial actions. Take the first example: a meeting whose contents are intended to remain private is de facto not a public teaching. The second example indicates the personal opinion of the Cardinal Prefect of the CDF (it's important to note that while the man who made "statement x" would later be elected pope, it is misleading to state that "the pope said 'statement x'"); now, I see Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict as one of the greatest theologians and church leaders of the last century. But on this point, I think he is wrong, and his views on the matter have never been communicated as the definitive teaching of the teaching office of the Catholic Church.

Finally -- and to return to an earlier point -- it is important in this discussion to keep in mind the genre of the CCC. Like every other catechism, it is intended as a basic summary of the essential teachings of the Church. This means many things, but one thing is does not mean is that it treats every issue in a completely thorough manner; that is simply not the raison d'être of a catechism. Take an issue on which I have probably the most familiarity: the theology of grace. The CCC offers the basic summary of the Catholic Church's teaching on grace, but it is in no way an exhaustive presentation of that theology. The same is true with its presentation of just war doctrine: it is a basic summary, not a thorough presentation. James Turner Johnson and others have powerfully argued that there is much, much more which can be said about this issue than is found in the CCC.

As Dr. Hurbert notes, the issue of the initiation of hostilities is not the only source of our disagreement, but as I noted at the opening of this post, I do believe that it is the focal point of that disagreement.

Finally, I want to note that Dr. Hurbert has been the epitome of a curteous interlocutor in our discussions, and I thank him for that.

I look forward to the continuation of this discussion.

Update: Stephen Hand of Traditional Catholic Reflections & Reports offers some thoughts (scroll down a bit) on the above post. Stephen is opposed to the war, and he has long argued his case with those who disagree. You can find his comments at the link provided; here is the response I emailed to him:

Stephen, I'm not sure why you offered the quote you did from my post, b/c the substance of your reply doesn't seem to relate to the particular issue I was discussing there, i.e. the problem of a genocidal regime as it relates to the morality of initiating hostilities against said regime.

In any case, that nations have alluded to alleged defensive motives in order to rationalize illicit first-strikes does not in and of itself invalidate the notion that the initiation of hostilities can be morally licit. Abusus non tollit usum: the abuse of something is not an argument against that thing.

I'll also grant that the CCC does not address preventive war, but as I said in my post, that is not the same thing as a condemnation of such a war. Again, I'll grant that Cardinal Ratzinger saw the war as most likely (and perhaps certainly) unjust. But he never proferred that view in his official capacity as Prefect of the CDF, and hence faithful Catholics can disagree with him.

I fully agree that the notion of disagreement with the CDF Prefect (let alone the Holy Father himself) requires careful thought and discernment. But it can be licit. It's well-known that Ratzinger looked askance at the Assissi meetings, even thought they were a "pet" of JPII's. I am not saying that my wisdom and intellect match Ratzinger's, but I do think that there are problems with the position he articulated.

For instance, in the same statement you are referring to, he doubted that just war was even possible today. In and of itself (i.e. prescinding from context which was perhaps not revealed), that is a difficult statement to make sense of. The Vatican itself publicly agreed that the US's actions against the Taliban were licit. (In fact, come to think of it, one might argue that the same arguments being employed against the justice of the Iraq War also obtain with regard to Afghanistan, in that that nation did not initiate hostilities against the US.) [This strikes me as an important point.] Furthermore, with the development of technologies that greatly reduce the danger to innocents, it seems that it's easier to be in accord with the tenets of that doctrine.

Friday, September 30, 2005

'Wow' is right!

I've come across a number of otherwise sane people who claim that George Bush is the "worst. president. ever.", or that his is the most inept administration ever, or that corruption dominates his presidency.

On the later, he has a surprising defender: Chris Matthews! The following is from JPod at The Corner:
    Just now, Chris Matthews on "Hardball" went after New York leftist Mark Green for calling this a "corrupt" administration. To which Matthews shot back, "Any convictions? Can you name one conviction? One person in this administration who has been convicted of a crime?" To which Green mentions the indictments of DeLay and Jack Abramoff.

    "They don't work for the administration," says Matthews. "Can you name a single instance of proven corruption?"

    Green, as is his wont, hemmed and hawed and licked his lips. Ben Ginsburg, the Republican on the other side, just stayed silent. Props to Chris.

Thursday, September 29, 2005


Want a broadband connection in your bedroom? Kitchen? Living room? No need to wire every room in your home, nor set up a wireless network... just plug in to your electric outlet, and enjoy 170 Mbs/second!

Thanks, Matsushita!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Events in Iraq

If you're looking for thoughtful, detailed, and cogent analysis of ongoing military operations in Iraq (at least those ops that are public), I highly recommend Bill Roggio. Mr. Roggio is technically an amateur, in that he is a software analyst by trade, but he is also a veteran and -- most importantly -- indicates an acute ability to determine the nature of ongoing ops from publicly-released information.

Again, Bill is highly recommended.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Just in case you missed it...

Google news alerts are good ways of keeping track of people and/or institutions, etc. that are occasionally in the news. I have one set up for "Pope Benedict", and while Zenit and EWTN News keep me abreast of most details regarding the Holy Father, Google news alerts sometimes snags things not found in the Catholic news services.

For instance, I'll bet not many people saw the press releases (here and here) from one Dominic Sanchez Falar. Mr. Falar informs us that Pope Benedict is an "anti-Mary Pope," because he refuses to released the true Third Secret of Fatima.

Now, for many informed Catholics, this is an oft-heard claim; there are various individuals and organizations who claim that various aspects of Fatima are unfulfilled, or that there are parts of the third secret yet to be released, etc. etc.

But Mr. Falar has most definitely upped the ante. He helpfully informs us that the true Third Secret was revealed to him directly by Mary, and that it is this:
    The Third Secret of Our Lady of Fatima states Mary’s divinity.
    Mary is God, Mary is the Soul of the Holy Spirit.
Betcha didn't know that did ya?

At least Mr. Falar is honest (in a wierd way): the name of his group (no information available on number of members) is "Mary-Is-God Catholic Movement."

Friday, September 16, 2005


I forgot to mention that this week's Catholic Carnival is up at Our Word And Welcome to It.

Check it out!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Benedict's style: "Radical continuity"

That's from Austen Ivereigh's Godspy article, "The Monk under the Mitre". It's an excellent, article, and if I were to quote all the gems in it, there'd barely be anything left unquoted. But here are a couple of the choicest of them:
    In 1978 John Paul II inherited a Church that was unsure, after the battles under Paul VI, what it believed. In 2005 he left no one in doubt. It falls to Benedict to make clear why the Church believes what it believes, to show that what it teaches sets us free. Benedict's task is to convey the beauty of belief, and that believing must involve belonging.


    Benedict, as his choice of name made clear, looks to the counter-culture of European monasticism in the early Middle Ages, which served society precisely by being quietlybut no less awkwardly—in contradiction to it. Hence his emphasis, in Cologne, on fostering vital cells of church life which emphasise quality not quantity ("Form communities of faith!" he urged). Gone is the triumphant city on the hill; Benedict's is the era of leaven in the mass, of small but vibrant faith groups in parishes, of movements and associations which operate like underground cells, attracting believers and supplying the vitality which the Church needs above the ground.

    Pope Benedict has a style. And he has a strategy. If we find them hard to make out, it could be that our eyes need to adjust. We are so used to waiting for a flag-waving crusade that we fail to notice the flap, flap of a monk's cowl.

Praise God for this pope!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Human Tragedies

That's the title of this post by Leon at RedState, which reads in part,
    the pro-choice movement panders to all that is deplorable about our society. It is the glorification of selfishness, it is the deification of one's own personal agenda, it is the callous disregard for those in lower positions. The pro-choice movement encourages the path of least resistance, never caring that the path is paved with the corpses of the defenseless and needy. It conjures images in my mind of those who would loot during lawlessness created through tragedy, of those who callously and shamelessly profit from the misery of others - who seek to take advantage of a system that will not or cannot punish them for their wrongdoing. It is everything that was wrong with Enron and the technology bubble of the late 90s, when personal greed run amok devastated the finances of millions.

    Conversely, the pro-life movement seeks to encourage all that is good and noble about humanity. It encourages those facets of our human nature that make us proud when we witness them surface in our society. Love for others. Heroic self-sacrifice. Giving of one's own means to provide sustenance for the defenseless and the weak. Every time parents make a choice to keep a child they didn't plan for, it conjures images in my mind of firemen running into burning buildings, of families opening their homes to complete strangers in times of crisis, of everything that is good about the existence of the Salvation Army and the Red Cross.
Powerful words.

Well done, Leon.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

It pays to ask people who know

It recently dawned on me out divergent the latin original and english translations of the Gloria of the Mass are; I memorized the latin version a few years ago, and of course in so doing I noticed some differences. But some things escaped me. Before elaborating, let me present the latin, a literal translation thereof, and finally the approved english translation:

Gloria in excelsis Deo,
et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis.
Laudamus te. Benedicimus te. Adoramus te. Glorificamus te.
Gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam.
Domine Deus, Rex coelestis, Deus Pater omnipotens.
Domine Fili unigenite, Jesu Christe.
Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius Patris,
Qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Qui tollis peccata mundi, suscipe deprecationem nostram.
Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris, miserere nobis.
Quoniam tu solus Sanctus.
Tu solus Dominus.
To solus Altissimus, Jesu Christe.
Cum Sancto Spiritu in gloria Dei Patris. Amen.

Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to people of good will.
We praise You. We bless You. We worship You. We glorify You.
We give you thanks for your great glory.
Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father almighty.
Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son.
Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father.
You who take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
You who take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer.
You who sit at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.
For You alone are holy.
You alone are Lord.
You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit, in the Glory of God the Father. Amen.

Glory to God in the highest,
and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father.
We worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father.
Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
You are seated at the right hand of the Father, receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Now, there are obviously some substantial changes from the latin to the approved english translation. "We praise You. We bless You. We worship You. We glorify You.
We give you thanks for your great glory" becomes "We worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory."And other examples are apparent.

But what most struck me was this: in the latin, "We praise You. We bless You. We worship You. We glorify You. We give you thanks for your great glory" comes after "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will," but in the approved english version, the translated (and truncated) equivalent comes after "Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father" instead. So the praise, blessing, worship, glorification, and thanksgiving is no longer addressed to God (in the highest), but is now addressed to the Father (in particular).

So it seemed to me that where the official latin directs the praise, blessing, worship, etc. to all three persons of the Most Holy Trinity (because the referent is simple "God"), the approved english translation directs that praise, etc. to the Father in particular. And that seems to be a pretty significant change.


I mentioned this to a number of people and they all agreed with me. But then I met someone who is an expert in these things, and he was able to explain it for me (and remind me of something I knew once, but had forgotten).

In Catholic liturgical prayer, Deus is used to refer to the Father. Even though it is literally translated as God, and even though one might presume (as I did recently) that God always means all Three Persons, that is not the case in liturgical prayer. Instead, the implication is that the Father in particular is being addressed.

This is seen in a number of places; for instance, many of the introductory prayers of the Mass read Deus in latin but are translated Father in english, and rightly so, based on the fact that our prayer is made to God (the Father) through the Son and in the Spirit. I knew this once, but had forgotten it.

So while there many be other problems with the approved english translation, this is an instance in which ICEL got it right.

Like the title of the post says, it pays to ask people who know.
A completely off-topic post

When I moved from Minnesota to Steubenville in the Ohio Valley, I soon realized that Ohio Vallians (from Steubenville to Pittsburgh) aren't very good at using their turn signals; they are at best intermittent.

Needless to say, one thing I was looking forward to when I moved to Sioux Falls and returned to the upper Midwest was the basic considerate nature of folks in these parts, which includes signalling their turns.

Boy was I wrong.

As hard as it was for me to believe, Sioux Fallsians are actually worse at signalling than Ohio Vallians! It's as if they don't know what that little stick on the left side of their steering column is even for! And its not just people in this city, or even the state: on Sunday I drove down to Omaha, and plenty of Iowegians decided signalling was optional (at best). For goodness sake: Romans have better driving etiquette that a lot of the people in my new home! And if you've been to Rome, you know that that's quite a statement!

No wonder people call Minnesota the Promised Land. We actually know how to drive.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


The 46th edition of the Catholic Carnival is up at A Pentient Blogger.

You won't find any posts from me (as is obvious, I've been a bit slow in posting these days), but you'll find plenty of good stuff from others.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Again on the LANG

Just to be clear (because some people refuse to acknowledge it):

Responsibility for the National Guard of each state is with the governor of that state.

As one guy said, “The constitution says the governor is in charge of the Guard. The president would have to invoke the Insurrection Act to over-ride that. No president has done that since the Civil War. And he would have to do it over the head of the governor. Bush is not there yet.”

People who blame the President and/or FEMA and/or any other federal agency because the LANG were not deployed appropriately or in a timely manner are simply mistaken about their chain of command.

Other good comments from the same guy:

--“None of those poor people were moved prior to the storm. They were told to go to the Superdome, but they had to walk there. Whose responsibility is that?”

-- “General Honore in one day got 20,000 people evacuated from the convention center with a ground and air evacuation. Have you heard about that in the media?”

--“The DoD has been tasked with 40-50 missions here. DoD is the go-to organization for DHS. DHS is trying to build the capacity, but doesn't have it yet. DHS is all brain power and no brawn.”

--“Michael Brown has not done a good job and is in over his head. But, in fairness, FEMA is not organized to handle a catastrophe of this size.”

--“There are no law enforcement problems in Mississippi. They have been acting there with the cooperation of the governor. In New Orleans, they don't have the same kind of cooperation from the governor or the mayor. It's not as stream-lined or as effective as it could be.”

--“The New Orleans police disintegrated. The national response plan calls for state and local to be the first on the scene. But the catastrophe wiped out the whole local infrastructure and the emergency communications. 80% of the police disintegrated and they are just not beginning to re-constitute.”

As is evident by my agreement with these comments (and what I've said elsewhere), no branch of government is free from error in this catastrophe.

Anyone who tries to single out the federal government for blame has an agenda. Period.

Simple as that.

Update: here's a guy who thinks the feds have done little wrong. I don't think I agree, but it is an interesting read:
    I have to disagree vehemently however with many of your posts on the Fed reaction to the Gulf Coast disaster.

    Has Brown made some comments that seem, I emphasize seem because many reports have not provided context, stupid? No doubt.

    Is the Dept of Homeland Sec probably a bureaucratic disaster. Yes.

    However, despite what you "think", it does not seem probably that Brown being more astute at press conferences, or FEMA being independent of the new dept would have made one iota of difference to the manner or the speed of the Fed response.

    It's all a matter of logistics. The logistics of getting federal responders and supplies, most of which can't be preplaced for fear of having them destroyed by the storm itself, into a disaster area that large is truly difficult.

    This isn't Star Trek. There are no transponder doohickies to make the NTl Guard and supplies of food, water, fuel etc appear magically when you want them to.

    Please please read Jason van Steenwyk at

    The guy's a guardsman who's been involved with disaster relief for many years in Fla.

    His conclusion is that this is the fastest the Feds have ever been, the fastest possible reaction.

    Please don't make the mistake the Left is making in using this disaster to promote some of your pet causes. Argue against the Dept of Homeland Sec as much as you want. But this isn't the time to do it, nor are they at fault on this.
I think Brown is in over his head. But I think the logistics point is an excellent one, as I've indicated implicitly in previous posts.
Blaming someone else doesn't mean they're at fault

A lot of local officials in the NOLA area are blaming the feds (specifically FEMA) for the delays in the relief effort, and a lot of people in blogdom and the media are giving voice to those complaints.

I already noted below how I think Michael Brown is going to have to answer some serious questions, and I've noted that there are mostl likely problems in how the feds handled aspects of the effort.

But the fact that the locals are pointing their fingers at the feds doesn't mean that they are innocent of failures, and that seems lost on a number of those who are giving voice to the locals' complaints.

Here's an example: I've been following the WWL Katrina blog for the local news (it's been one of the best sources for the last week), and today it's got a quote from the Jefferson parish President, Aaron Broussard, who said, "I'm not surprised at what the feds say, they're covering their butts. They're keeping the body counts down because they don't want to horrify the nation. It's worse than Iraq, worse than 9-11. They just don't want to know how many were murdered by bureaucracy."

Look, it wasn't until the President urged Gov. Blanco to get the people out that NOLA issued a mandatory evac, and that was the day before landfall! So if "bureaucracy" murdered anyone, it's the local bureaucracy! There are plenty of other examples that could be given, but in following what I've already said, I think it's best to wait before determining culpability.

In the meantime, I hope others will be as suspicious and critical of local officials as they are of the feds.

Sunday, September 04, 2005


At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I want to repeat that I think we need to let some time pass before we start determining culpability for the problems with the relief effort in NOLA, if for no other reason then it will allow all of the relevant facts to be collected. I've also stressed that the problems with the relief effort are in many cases far more complex than I think some people believe.

Having said that, I've read some of the things which Michael Brown -- director of the Federal Emergency Management Administration -- said prior to and after Katrina's landfall on Monday, and frankly, I don't see a way to put a positive spin on them.

For instance, on Saturday he said, "Saturday and Sunday, we thought it was a typical hurricane situation -- not to say it wasn't going to be bad, but that the water would drain away fairly quickly," and ""Katrina was much larger than we expected."

I really don't know how he can say that... anybody who was following the storm online or on tv knew what was being said by the National Weather Service et al about the high potential of catastrophic damage, statements which I don't recall hearing about other hurricanes that have hit our country. We knew by Sunday that Katrina was a Category 5, and there had only been three C5's that came ashore on U.S. soil. How Brown can say what he did is unclear, to say the least.

Nor do I know how he can say that he expected the water to "drain away fairly quickly"... NOLA is below sea level, and I'd presume he knew that (if he didn't, he should have, to make a colossal understatement). And with the rain of a C5 hurricane, how can one expect the water to be pumped out quickly?

Mr. Brown will definitely have some questions to answer in a week or two. Provided things from this point go well enough to justify keeping him on the job.