Tuesday, November 26, 2002

I'm outta here!

Going to "the heart of it all" for T-Day. Having a happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
Follow-up on today's posts

Andy over at World Wide Rant commented on my thoughts on gay marriage. I replied in his comments box.
Gay Marriage (not union)

Stanley Kurtz has an excellent piece today at NRO on the likelihood of a national battle over gay marriage in the next couple of years. In this context, Kurtz also discusses the Gores' new book and its stance on marriage.

My gut tells me that gay marriages will become a reality within the next several years. I hope I'm wrong, but that just seems to be the direction our country is moving in. On some things, our nation's moral compass is right on, but on others... not so good.

Nonetheless, the reality is that it will be even more important for couples in traditional marriages to act in a manner that holds up the institution of marriage. When the legal protections for marriage collapse, the only thing remaining is the example set by every husband and wife.
Hate Crime by a Gay Teen

A 19 year-old Chicago teen recently beat his 51 year-old Catholic neighbor woman to death when she tried to get him to change his sexual orientation.

I first heard about this via this Rod Dreher post at the Corner, and again today at this CNS story, this Washington Times story, and this NRO story by Rod.

Several groups are upset that this crime -- which they argue is just as much a hate crime as crimes which have been committed against gays -- is not getting national media coverage. But what do they expect? The print media and the networks aren't going to treat it as such... minorities are only the victims of hate crimes, right?

Meanwhile, some bloggers are saying unbelieveable things about this case. After writing in this post, "Where do I send a check for [the teen's] defense fund?", "barry" replies to a commentor thus:

"Hyperbole and sarcasm carry badly across the 'net. This is a blog, not a newspaper.

"I don't condone murder, but I feel sympathy for people who are verbally assaulted by homophobes relying on their religion. We live in a country where the President and his party, plus quite a few Democrats, think gay people should go to jail.

"I grew up in a place where people believed that blacks were inferior, and the Bible taught us so, and that anyone who killed a homosexual deserved very little punishment. As long as we live in a country where people can get away with murder by saying a gay man hit on them, I feel nothing but loathing for religious people like Stachowicz."

Yes, Mary Stachowicz hated gays, and we know this because she disapprovingly told the man who killed her, "'God wouldn't approve of the way you're living your life." The hatred just drips from the words, doesn't it?

You can also read what James Wagner has to say, if you want. It's pretty much more of the same, so I'll just ditto what I just said above.

Amazing, how we can justify objective evil in the name of our pet ideologies.

Monday, November 25, 2002

Next time, pick on somebody your own size

Apparently, polemicist Eric Svendsen recently penned an attempted-critique of JPII's Theology of the Body. That critique is suitably dispatched by The Curmudgeon here (follow the link at that post for the details).
Harry Potter: "a pampered jock, a patsy and a fraud"

That's according to this enjoyable little essay from Slate.com. Pretty good read.

I actually saw the second film the day it opened, and it was pretty good, as was the first one. In fact, it prompted me to borrow the third and fourth books; I've finished the third, and enjoyed it, and am beginning the fourth.

I don't buy into the negatives about the Potter books and films which some Christians have; I don't see anything that would poison my kids' minds (although they are a bit scary for anyone under ten, IMHO). I'd recommend reading this essay by English prof Alan Jacobs in First Things for a good take on the Potter universe.
Controls on Technology

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds' latest TechCentralStation column is up, and it concerns Michael Crichton's new novel, Prey. This novel -- which I'm hoping to read before too long, like Crichton's other novels -- deals with nanotechnology gone bad.

Reynolds' column deals with the "gone bad" part of the plot. He defends Crichton against some critics by pointing out that the "gone bad" aspect must be present in the novel, otherwise there is not reason for the novel!

Reynolds goes on to point out, though, that what went bad in the novel could only happen "if the researchers in question were (1) stupid; (2) criminally negligent; and (3) willing to violate the consensus ideas about nanotechnology safety." Specifically, he points out that "Crichton's nanobots are capable of evolution (at least in programming) and of surviving in the "wild" - that is, of making more copies of themselves from ordinary material found in nature," and that these two factors "are two big no-nos of nanotechnology. In fact, they're the first two no-no's of the Foresight Guidelines for Molecular Nanotechnology: 1. Artificial replicators must not be capable of replication in a natural, uncontrolled environment. 2. Evolution within the context of a self-replicating manufacturing system is discouraged."

The problem I see is this: how are guidelines in and of themselves going to prevent these sort of abuses from happening? Scientists have, unfortunately, acted in ways that 20/20 hindsight shows to have been foolish -- and even that were seen as such by their contemporaries. Note that I'm not saying we should not explore nanotechnology; I'm not "antitechnology." All I ask and hope for is that as scientists continue to bring more and more aspects of our world under our control, they remember that just because we can do something doesn't mean that we should.

Scientific formation involves (or should involve) more than technical know-how; it includes a moral awareness of how to best use the awesome power science presents us.
"So much of the really nasty email seems to be from women or men who talk like old ladies."

Funny post by Jonah Goldberg over at The Corner on the reaction to his column on Gore last week.
The ACLU and the KKK: both anti-Catholic?

The Nov. 24-30, 2002 edition of the National Catholic Register has an article by Wayne Laugesen on two new academic books which argue that conventional wisdom's understanding of "the separation of church and state" -- the understanding promoted and defended by the ACLU -- originated in the Ku Klux Klan.

The books are Thomas Jefferson and the Wall of Separation Between Church and State by American University professor Daniel Dreisbach, and Separation of Church and State by U of Chicago law professor Philip Hamburger.

The two authors, working separately, came to the same conclusions, as Laugesen writes: "the First Amendment set out to protect religion from government, not government and society from religion."
Mission, Salvation of non-Christians, and the Jews

Kevin Miller has an extraordinary post on the relationship between the Church's Missionary Mandate and its belief that people who have never believed explicitly in Jesus Christ can still be saved through Him. Having established this as the context, Kevin then discusses Judaism and the document "Reflections on Covenant and Mission".

A great, great post.
Missile Defense Milestone

Good article at NRO by Frank Gaffney on the latest successful ballistic missile intercept, this one by a Navy cruiser using the Aegis radar system and SM-3 surface to air missiles.
Advancing the Social agenda

The Washington Post has a pretty good piece on the Bush social agenda and how Republicans in Congress and conservatives are hoping to get it moving along in the next Congress.
Boy, does this sound familiar

According to this CNS article, biomedical ethicist and National Institutes of Health scholar Dan Brock recommended that parents consider aborting their children, if they know the child will be blind or disabled. Brock believes that America would benefit from such actions.

Friday, November 22, 2002

A couple more good blogs

Today I'm recommending a nice piece of Metanoia: Thoughts of a prospective Catholic, followed by a slice of Rosa Mystica.
Conservatism or Conservativism?

I've heard both used to describe those to the right in political matters. Are they both legitimate spellings?

Just curious.
Protestant Churches or Communities?

Carl Olson has a good post on the Catholic Church's use of the term "Church" vis. Protestants.

I can certainly understand the prima facie reaction of some Protestants to the Catholic denial that they are a Church. But I ask those of you who have such a reaction to consider this: by "Church", we Catholics mean a reality which includes (among other things, of course) sacred orders (a priesthood apart from that of all believers), seven sacraments, a teaching authority guaranteed by God to teach without error, etc. Do you want us to refer to your community in that way? I wouldn't think so, since many of my brothers and sisters in Christ reject these aspects of Catholic teaching.

I'm not sure if this really applies to most of my readers who are not Catholic anyway... they're generally up enough on these matters to understand this, without me having to explain it. But just in case...

[Sean Gallagher has also posted some excellent insights on this at his blog. Check them out!]
Kudlow on Deficits

Larry Kudlow has a great piece on deficits at NRO today. The key line is in the first sentence: "there is one immutable fact when it comes to budgets: Economic growth solves the problem of deficits."

If the economy grows at a good rate, the deficit will take care of itself. Eventually, it will be such a trivial amount that it will take little to pay off.

Great column at NRO by Victor Davis Hanson on what Saddam has learned about fighting the US, and how his strategy to hunker down in Baghdad and let a battle of attrition ensue is way, way wrong.
Iran, Iraq, Syria Urging Palestinians To Disrupt US 'Iraq Attack' Plans

That's the headline for this CNS story. Israel believes that the increase in terror activity has been orchestrated by these three nations, with the hope of uniting the Arab world, ultimately against a US-led attack on Iraq.

Thursday, November 21, 2002

Wealthy receiving more threats

This just in!

According to a survey of the most wealthy 1% of Americans, that segment of the United States population has received a greater number of threats over the last two years. Apparently, the political language employed first by former Vice President Al Gore in his unsuccessful presidential bid and then by former Majority Leader Tom Daschle in his unsuccessful bid to derail the President's tax cuts a year and a half ago have led to an increase in threats made against the wealthiest Americans and their families.

These people -- who are known with absolute certainty to have taken every single thing Al Gore and Tom Daschle have ever said to heart -- have evidently acted out on their emotions and threatened those who have higher incomes than they do. Some people blame the shrill rhetoric of the aforementioned Democrat politicians for this increase in threats.

Others wonder who there is any possible way to link what they have said with the actions of these disenfranchised citizens. But others point to telltale signals that this is the case; for instance, a number of threats began with language like, "I just listened to [Gore or Daschle], and what he said made me really angry towards you rich people! I'm going to get you!"

That this language was actually used has not been confirmed at this time.

More as this situation develops...
Will on Gore

George Will has a nice editorial which covers Gore's latest revision of history.

I'd also recommend Jonah Goldberg's G-File from yesterday, in which he shows how the "new" Al Gore is just his latest attempt to reinvent himself.
Kurtz on Daschle and Rush

Howard Kurtz does the "Media Notes" at the Washington Post. His first topic today: Daschle's rant against Limbaugh. Kurtz does a real nice job of showing the inexplicable nature of Daschle's comments, even quoting some of Rush's material and demonstrating how Rush isn't the baddie Daschle made him out to be.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Another bit of info about the Wellstone Memorial/Rally

According to this post from James Lileks, someone brought a beachball to the event. A beachball, for goodness sake. Unbelievable. Go read Lileks to get more on this.
Daschle blames Limbaugh

(I first saw this on NBC Nightly News tonight...) According to this CNN story, (my) Senator Tom Daschle today unleashed a broadside against Rush Limbaugh. Apparently, Daschle and his family have received threats. And somehow, they know that these threats come from Rush Limbaugh listeners.

You can read (and listen to) Limbaugh's response here (presuming that the link stays active for more than a day).
"al-Qaida is back at full strength"

That's what Al Gore says in this AP interview. You see, Mr. Gore is (apparently) privy to intelligence data which leads him to this conclusion.

After all, that's the only way he can possibly say something that no one else who has access to the data the rest of us "mere citizens" has said. Obviously, Gore knows something that we don't. I wonder who's leaking the info to him? Rumsfeld? Cheney? Hmm...
Bush and the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban: an example of Prudence

At HMS Blog Mark posted his explanation for the deliberation with which President Bush is moving on the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban, and I wholeheartedly agree.

There's no point in rousing up the opposition by attacking the only thing they've refused to budge on. As Mark says, "When Bill Clinton and his acolytes were willing to sacrifice any and every other principle, there was one thing and one thing only they would not budge on: the sacrament of abortion."

Sadly, that's true. So why get them all fired up when there's another way to accomplish the same purpose, but in such a way that you avoid all this? Like Mark, I think that's what Bush is doing.
Hu's in China? Yes!

You really have to go read this adaptation of Abbott & Costello's "Who's on First?" routine at Mark Shea's blog. It's hilarious!

To those of you visiting Veritas from Mark Shea's blog, or from Pete Vere's post at Envoy Encore, welcome!

And thanks for the links, guys!
Republican. No, Independent. No, Republican

Apparently, according to this Washington Times piece, Jim Jeffords has been thinking about switching back to the Republicans. Provided, of course, that he retain his committee chairmanship.


Kathryn Lopez's title to her post on this sums it all up: "PRINCIPLES. LEADERSHIP. JEFFORDS."

More on Integrism

Pete Vere has an excellent post at Encore on Integrism, a post which includes an outstanding explanation of Integrism by one of Pete's French theologian-priest friends.

If you're wondering what Integrism is, and how it's distinguished from authentic Traditionalism, check it out.
USA: Gangster and Imperialist

That's apparently how Patrick McCormick understands the Bush Administration's foreign policy (and he includes Powell in that), in his piece in the December issue of "US Catholic", called "A gangster nation?".

Now, I can understand why some people question the application of Just War Theory to our situation with Iraq. But I do not understand how someone can equate what we're doing (or talking about doing) with gangster and bullying tactics. Saddam isn't the nice grocery-store owner down the block who we're trying to offer "protection" to; he's a thug, a brutal dictator who mass murders his own people and those of his neighboring countries whom he invades when he thinks he can get away with it.

Back in October I commented on this column in the Washington Post by Michael Kelly, who explained that Bush's view vis. foreign policy isn't imperialistic, but is better described as "armed evangelization". Here's the quote I lifted from Kelly's piece then: "Unlike the European powers, the United States has never sought to own the world. In its peculiarly American fashion, it has sought to make the world behave better -- indeed be better. It is only in this context that the Bush Doctrine (like the Kennedy Doctrine) can be at all understood."

We're not out there trying to bully the world, Mr. McCormick... we're trying to make it a better place, one in which democracy can flourish and human rights are respected. That's something that any Catholic should rejoice in.
Sacrificial nature of the Mass

One of the complaints that some people have about the Mass since the reform of '69 is that the reformed order (allegedly) downplays the sacrificial nature of the Mass.

I understand the gist of the complaint: there is less sacrificial language, compared to the order of the Mass prior to 1969. But really, how much does that matter? The Mass is a sacrifice, regardless of how often (or rarely) the word "sacrifice" and its derivatives are used. If the order of the Mass never used the word, the Mass would still be sacrificial in its nature.

So what's the problem? Perhaps those who make the complaint worry that the people will somehow forget the sacrificial nature of the Mass if we reduce that language. But that can't be, can it? If it were, that would be an indication of poor catechesis, if anything. People shouldn't have to hear the word "sacrifice" to know that that is the nature of the Mass.

Perhaps there are other reasons which prompt people to complain so strongly about the change in language. But again, I don't really see what relevance this has: the Mass remains a re-presentation of the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ, regardless of how often the word is used.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002


That's the term for those Catholics in the early twentieth century who -- in their zeal to combat Modernism -- went a bit overboard. It's been used in the recent past by theologians such as Hans Urs von Balthasar to describe some who had major problems with Vatican II, and Gregg the Obscure has employed it and explained how it applies to some Catholics today and why they are such, in this post.

Why is it that a google search for "lutheran blog" returns Veritas as both the first and second results? As I mentioned a week or two ago, I've linked Josh S's blog, but his is one of the very few blogs that regularly deal with theological issues from a confessional Lutheran perspective.

What gives? Where are the Lutherans?
Metaphysics and Ethics

That, and the relationship between them, is the subject of a recent post by Mark at Minute Particulars. Good reading.
George Weigel: Dissenter?

In today's Daily Dish, Andrew Sullivan applauds George Weigel's recent explanation of how a possible war with Iraq is consistent with just war theory. But Sullivan then notes that Weigel's stance is in opposition to that of the US Bishops Conference, as well as the Vatican, which have both questioned the morality of such a war. Sullivan sees Weigel thus dissenting from church teaching, while upholding the teaching authority of the Church on such issues as a celibate priesthood, which as "no deep moral meaning".

Two things. First, the fact that Sullivan doesn't realize the profound significance and meaning of celibacy is itself an indication of why he doesn't see it as important.

Second, Weigel is not hypocritical here. He may be wrong (althought I don't think that's the case), but he's not hypocritical. Why? Because in the case of just war theory and war in Iraq, we're talking about the application of moral principles to a specific case, and it is possible for good people to differ on how those principles are applied. As long as no principle is violated, one can hold an opinion different from others. But not every church issue is like this: in other cases, there is no general principle which is applied to a concrete circumstance. In these cases, the Church's say is final.

[Oops: just saw that Mark Shea dealt with Sullivan's comments here, and in a much more thorough fashion than I did. But, I'm happy to see, our posts both converge along the same line of argumentation.]
China's Three Lies

That's the title of Nicholas Kristof's latest column in the NYTimes. Very good piece... check it out.
Let There Be Choice On Earth???

Planned Parenthood recently unveiled their holiday cards for this season. One of them, which you can see here, has some snowflakes against a blue background, with the words "Choice on Earth" in the lower right corner.

I really don't know what to say about this, or rather how to articulate what I'm thinking.

I really don't.
Get Wal-Mart!

This AP story and this CNS story detail how the AFL-CIO and UFCW are trying to unionize Wal-Mart in what they call probably "the largest organizing campaign that any union has undertaken in the history of our country."

Monday, November 18, 2002

The How-To Book of the Mass

That's the title of Michael Dubruiel's new book, and it's outstanding! He takes the reader through the Mass, explaining everything that occurs, and showing how we can reap the abundant spiritual harvest that is the Mass.

Highly recommended, especially for those you know who don't understand why things are done the way they're done in the Mass.
Why I get frustrated with those to my right

Following up on the previous post, I want to explain why I tend to get so frustrated (and occasionally uncharitable) with my fellow Catholics who seek orthodoxy, but differ with me over things like Vatican II and JPII.

Essentially, my frustration lies in the fact that both "neo-Catholics" and "RadTrads" seek orthodoxy, that is, we all seek the truth of divine revelation, in its fullness, but those to my right seem to deny my own orthodoxy, or at least hold it in suspicion (they may not necessarily do so literally to me, but to those theological opinions with which I agree). Mr. Sungenis' questioning of the term "liberal orthodox" is a case in point. What I meant by it is this: the Church gives theologians a certain degree of latitude on a number of issues. Within that range, one can legitimately and rightly be called "orthodox". But how to distinguish views within that range? I do so by referring to some within that range as "liberal orthodox" and others as "conservative orthodox". Personally, I tend towards the latter, but am not so across the board (i.e. on every theological question which is open for disagreement).

What worries me is that the "traditional Catholic" crowd does not recognize this, or better, does not acknowledge it, at least in my reading. This means that the orthodoxy of those who disagree with them is suspect; that is, at least, my personal experience. And I react strongly when the term heterodox is applied to myself or to those views which I hold. Because it is the Truth that will set me free, and so it is the Truth which I yearn for and desire.

Hope this makes some sense.
Sungenis calls me to task

Bob Sungenis has posted a response to my response to his own comments below.

While I continue to disagree with Mr. Sungenis' reading of Cardinal Kasper's comments, I do recognize that my language was overly-caustic at certain points, and for that, I ask Mr. Sungenis' forgiveness, and do so in the public forum, as that's where I initially made my own comments. I'm also going to edit the post, removing some of those aspects.

As far as the theological argument, I'll reply shortly. But I wanted to get this out there ASAP.
More on Demonization

This time it's in a Weekly Standard piece by Charles Krauthammer, who parses the liberal reaction to the election, as well as those occurring during Eisenhower's and Reagan's terms. This passage gives a sense of the whole piece: "Liberalism needs no philosophical justification because it only wants to do good. Conservatives are grateful to find a thinker who can spin logic well enough to cover their tracks, providing "philosophical justification" for their rape and pillage."

Krauthammer is referring, of course, to the liberal certainty that conservatives are evil, and desire nothing but the worst for our country and the world.

Sunday, November 17, 2002

Angry White Liberals

One of the best of the generally-political talk show hosts is Jason Lewis. "Who?" you ask? Jason Lewis. The reason most people have never heard of Lewis is that his show is local to Minneapolis, being broadcast on KSTP-AM 1500. It's too bad that his show isn't available to the national audience, because Lewis is one of the most articulate conservative commentators I've heard on the air.

To give you a taste, I'm linking Lewis' recent commentary in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, on the election outcome. I highly recommend you read it.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

No more Jewish Scriptures: why not?

It occurred to me the other day that the Jewish canon of Scripture "closed" about the same time that the Christian canon did: around the end of the first century, A.D. This thought led me to wonder how Jews understand the "closing" of what we consider the Old Testament; what was it about the first century -- from the Jewish perspective -- that meant that there would be no further sacred texts than the ones already written? What explains why God ceased inspiring sacred authors at that point? We Christians take for granted that "closed" nature of Scripture (there will be no more public revelation), but that obviously hinges on our acceptance of Jesus as the fulfillment of God's revelation to humanity. But how does the Jew explain and understand the fact that God no longer writes to them, so to speak?

The only answer that popped to mind for me was the destruction of the Temple; perhaps that had something to do with the "close" of the Jewish scriptures. But I don't know why that would be, either.

Anybody have an answer?
Out of town

for a conference for a few days, so no blogging, probably until Monday.
Cooperating with Grace II

In light of my post from the other day on cooperation with grace, I'd like to link this article by James Akin on the Scriptural basis for the Catholic position that we cooperate with God.
Closed Communion, explained by Mark Shea

Mark has a nice essay at his website (not blog) on the "trauma" that Closed Communion causes [sic] for those who are not Catholic. As always, Mark expresses his point with the perfect degree of wit.
The 'Catholic Vote' is up for grabs in '04

That's according to the pundits cited in this story.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002


Jeff Miller has posted an excellent fisking of Bill Moyers recent anti-Bush rant. I encourage you to read it. Strongly encourage you.
Sungenis on Cardinal Kasper

Bob Sungenis yesterday posted an article taking Cardinal Walter Kasper to task over some remarks the cardinal made concerning the Church's mission to the Jews.

Mr. Sungenis claims that Kasper is a "heterodox, liberal theologian to the core." First of all, Sungenis uses the two adjectives here as synonyms, when they are not: one can be a "orthodox liberal" theologian, and I think Cardinal Kasper can safely be described as such. But he is most certainly not heterodox, as one would see if they have ever read any of Kasper's theological works.

Now, the passage which Mr. Sungenis, the one to which he keeps returning throughout his essay, is this statement by the Cardinal, quoted in a CNS piece: "This does not mean that Jews in order to be saved have to become Christians."

Sungenis claims that this appears to be a heretical statement, one that has never been "taught or sanctioned in all of Catholic history." It seems to me that Sungenis has misinterpreted Kasper to mean that it's okay for Jews to reject the Gospel, because they can be saved anyway. This is obviously not the Cardinal's point; he is simply reiterating the Lumen Gentium teaching that one need not be a visible member of the Catholic Church to be saved.

Mr. Sungenis also interprets two quotes from the cardinal, in a way which I believe changes their meaning. First, Kasper said, "mission understood as a call to conversion from idolatry to the living and true God does not apply and cannot be applied to Jews." After actually quoting this passage in its entirety, Mr. Sungenis complains about this "false conclusion": "mission understood as a call to conversion...does not apply and cannot be applied to Jews." Note the ellipsis: Mr. Sungenis removes the Cardinal's clause about conversion from idolatry. Why does Mr. Sungenis do this? In my reading all Kasper is saying is that -- regarding missionary activity to the Jews -- we're not talking about conversion from idolatry, i.e. from a false God, because the Jewish God is not a false God!

The second instance of what I believe to be misinterpretation follows immediately. Kasper states, "no Catholic missionary activity toward Jews as there is for all other non-Christian religions." Note the qualifier: as there is for all other non-Christian religions. Note it, because Mr. Sungenis removes it when he re-quotes Kasper: "Notice the absolutism of his statement: 'NO Catholic missionary activity toward Jews..." That means nothing, nada, zilch.' "

Mr. Sungenis claims that Kasper is making an absolute statement about no mission to the Jews, but the qualifier seems to me to indicate the opposite.

[Update: this post has been edited to remove portions which were uncharitable towards Mr. Sungenis. I do want to point out that I do give Kasper the benefit of the doubt, as Mr. Sungenis infers: what I've read by him ("Jesus the Christ" and "The God of Jesus Christ", as well as his work on faith) has generally been very good, and the esteem in which JPII evidently holds him also leads me to give him that benefit.]
NYTimes letter watch

Today's installment: sheer liberal arrogance

In this bunch of letters expressing pleasure at Nancy Pelosi's impending ascendance to the minority leader position, the last one is astounding for its arrogance. The writer -- a San Fran liberal himself -- asks, "Why are we, the productive, educated liberals, subsidizers of America's heartland, not relevant to the debate as to how to administer what is in effect our philanthropy?"

The productive, educated liberals? Subsidizers of American's heartland? Administrators of our philanthropy?

This guy does little to change the stereotypical view of a Left Coast Liberal.

Monday, November 11, 2002

No Cooperation with Grace?

There are a couple of blogs that are discussing the question of cooperation with grace. Of course, Catholics affirm this, while most Protestants do not.

All I want to do for now is point to people's experience. I'll save the theological monograph for another time.

Essentially, the argument is that -- because of the "total depravity" of the human person -- we are unable to turn to God or "heavenly things" without grace (no problem here), and that God must turn us to him, without our cooperation. And there's the rub. Do we convert to God solely by His effort, or is there some way in which we cooperate with Him in the process?

Catholicism argues the latter. Without denying the necessity of grace before, during, and after our conversion, the Catholic Church teaches that the converting sinner in fact cooperates with God in the process. God does not violate the nature of His creation in His dealings with it, and our nature is a free one, meaning that God saves us, but with our involvement. To roughly quote St. Augustine, "He who created us without our help will not save us without our consent."

Isn't this the theory that coincides with the human experience of conversion to Our Lord? When an adult converts, do they ever experience any stage of conversion as one in which they are compelled against (or even without) their will to act in a particular way? No. Their experience is one of choosing, not passive compulsion. This in and of itself points to our cooperation with grace.

I want to point out one last thing: the Catholic teaching in no way is synergistic; that is, it does not conceive of salvation as one part God, one part man. It is all due to God's grace, but that grace acts in such a way that it does not violate our freedom, but rather involves it. To use an example given by theologian and cardinal Charles Journet, who responsible for the rose, the rose bush or God? The answer, of course, is both, but not in equal ways: God's causality is superior and all-embracing, the creature's causality is subordinate. Yet the creature retains causality, in some way -- and this gives greater glory to God.
NYTimes column watch

Today's installment: turn that Demonization Dial all the way up, Bob!

In today's column, we get a peek into the world of Times columnist Bob Herbert, a world in which the GOP agenda "is far more ideological, far more extreme, than most Americans realize."

You see, the Republicans push tax cuts so that the federal treasury will shrink, forcing Congress to cut or eliminate Medicare and Social Security.

Of course, we also have the clear and present danger which the GOP presents in the areas of environment and health & safety regulations, let alone the judicial nominees that are sure to come.

Clear evidence that Republicans want to poison the air, see workers maimed on the job, have people eat poisonous foods, and make the elderly starve.

Sunday, November 10, 2002

NYTimes Letter Watch

Today's installment: More Vilification.

These letters (especially the first one) are more indications of the lack of knowledge which our political ideologies seem to have regarding the other, at least the other's motivations.

Here's the letter I shot off to the editor in response:

Sunday's letter to the editor by Ms. Rudolph of Woodmere is just another instance of the demonization and vilification which constitutes modern American political "discourse", on both sides of the aisle.

We are never going to move beyond partisan politics until both sides recognize that the majority of both liberals and conservatives have the best interests of our people and our country at heart. Yes, we may disagree -- and disagree strongly -- as to how we arrive at those common goals, but they are common nonetheless.

The sooner we realize this -- and stop impugning the basest of motives to all those on the other side of the aisle -- the sooner our political arguments will become real discourse, rather than shouting matches.
new link

I'm happy to link Jeff Miller's "Atheist to a Theist" blog.

Check it out, especially this new post on how being pro-life gave Republicans a number of victories in the election, while pro-choicers lost because of their stance.

[The post's link may not work... it's the first post on Sunday]
Lutherans are in Blogland!

I'm linking to this blog, one of the few (the only?) blogs that tackle theological issues from a confessional Lutheran perspective. (If anyone knows of any others, please let me know.)

Josh has been around for a while, and I want to link his blog. Although its name is "I think I need a stiff drink", I'm just going to refer to it as "Josh's Lutheran blog", so people have some idea of what kind of a blog I'm linking to. Josh, you you feel strongly about it, I'll change the link. ;-)
Letter to Tim Russert

Here's a letter I just sent Tim Russert of Meet the Press:

Dear Mr. Russert,

I've been watching MTP for a few years now, and I want to commend you on an excellent show. In my opinion, you are by far the best moderator in this format today. You are respectful, yet challenging with your guests. Like every American, you have your own political opinions, but (by and large) they do not enter into your interview questions or style. I hope that you are able to maintain this kind of impartial and insightful interviewing as you continue at MTP.

I would like to make two additional and specific comments.

First, I think it would be very helpful to the American people if you decided to moderate a discussion or debate on one of the most devisive issues of modern American politics: abortion rights. I think that a formal discussion or debate moderated by yourself could be very helpful in allowing each side to make its case in the clearest way possible.

Second, I'd like to comment on the Bush tax cut and its cost, an issue which you often bring up with your political guests. While a static analysis of economics might conclude that the President's tax cut is taking moneys out of the federal treasury that could be used for a variety of excellent programs, such an analysis seems to me to be flawed. Why? Because history does not bear out this perspective. If one compares federal revenue in real dollars at the beginning of the 1980's -- before President Reagan's tax cuts -- and at the end of the same decade, after those tax cuts had taken full effect, one finds that federal revenue increased, because they stimulated long-term economic growth, which led to greater tax dollars being paid, even though taxes were lower as a percentage of income. The deficits of the 1980's came not from lower taxes, but massive spending increases. Is it not at least possible -- if not likely -- that the same will hold true with this president's tax cut?

In concluding, I want to reiterate my high esteem for you and the job you do at MTP.

Chris Burgwald

Saturday, November 09, 2002

Brad Pitt: jerk

I recently recalled an interview Rolling Stone did with Jennifer Aniston last summer, in which she related a story about an encounter her husband Brad Pitt had with George Bush's daughter, Jenna. Apparently, Jenna had a summer internship at the management firm which represents Jennifer and Brad Pitt. One day, the happy couple (Aniston and Brad Pitt) saw Jenna walking down the hall, and Brad Pitt -- according to his wife -- said to Jenna, "'Heyyyy, Jenna, wanna beer? I got one in the truck!"

Nice guy, that Brad Pitt.

If anyone has found this post because they did a google search on Brad Pitt, think about it next time you watch him in a movie.

Shortly before relating this touching story, the interviewer of Brad Pitt's wife mentioned her views on politics: "Aniston mentions how musicians in the Eighties had something to be pissed off about, with Reagan in the White House. I ask her what she thinks of Bush. She vents about him in detail, eloquently, but off the record. She says she doesn't want to come off like another actor blathering about politics. On the record, she'll only say, "Bush is a f***-ing idiot," and flip him a double-bird."

Nice sleight-of-hand: the interviewer portrays Brad Pitt's wife as an eloquent political commentator, but "off the record", so that she also comes across as humble in her political views.

Of course, Brad Pitt's wife's "on the record" comments speak volumes about what she must have said off the record, in terms of intelligence and content.

Once again, more evidence of that Liberalism 101 course which aspiring actors are required to take. Apparently, both Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt passed with flying colors.

Friday, November 08, 2002

Surprise re: Pelosi

It looks like a lock for Nancy Pelosi to be the House minority leader, which is fine with me, and I'm sure the White House isn't going to complain.

But I was pleasantly surprised to read this story and find out that Pelosi and I actually agree on an issue: our posture towards Bejing. The article states that that she "is best known in Washington as the leader of the forces criticizing the Beijing regime for human rights violations" and that "on the day the bill passed, she told the House that years of free trade with China had only led to “more people in prison for their political and religious beliefs than at any time since the cultural revolution, and an expansion in China’s proliferation activities, from Pakistan, making South Asia a more dangerous place, to Iran, making the Persian Gulf a more dangerous place ... as well as threatening the security of Taiwan.”

How about that!

I wonder if there's anything else we agree on.

Probably not.
Topics this weekend for the Pontifical Academy of Sciences

This story lays out the range of topics to be discussed, including, "Cultural Aspects of the Theory of Molecular Evolution; The Different Paces of Development of Science and Culture: The Considerations of a Demographer; Science and Dreams; The Moral Substance of Science, and Surgery of the Soul."

More evidence of that Vatican hatred for all things scientific.
Can the Democrats find a purpose?

That's the subtitle of Peggy Noonan's latest column.

As always, an excellent piece of writing and insight by Peggy.
We want Pelosi!

John Miller over at NRO is excited about the possibilities of Nancy Pelosi being the Minority Leader in the House. He argues that -- by virtue of her own liberalism, as well as the calls for change among other liberal Democrats -- she will pull the party (at least in the House) farther to the left, which is good for the Republicans.
al Qaeda's adapting their tactics faster than we are

So sayeth General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to this Washington Post story.
NYTimes Editorial Watch

Today's installment: Another pleasant surprise

Today's lead editorial in the Times actually praises the President for his "measured tone and modest demeanor" at yesterday's news conference, Bush's first public appearance since Tuesday, i.e. since the Republicans took control of the Senate. Pointing out that Bush didn't gloat and avoided a triumphalistic spirit, the editorial explains that these qualities "provided a timely reminder of why he has the support of so many voters who appear to disagree with so many of his policies," and that "the image he projected was one of inclusive leadership rather than narrow partisanshipThe image he projected was one of inclusive leadership rather than narrow partisanship."

Agreed, editors.
Voter Turnout

According to this AP story, Minnesota led the nation in voter turnout with 61.4%, followed closely by South Dakota with 61.3%. Both far surpassed the overall national turnout of 39.3%.

Hmm... I grew up in Minnesota, I live in South Dakota. I wonder if there's any connection?


Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Someone isn't happy with us

I stumbled upon this long rant written yesterday by a South African blogger who isn't happy with President Bush and the contemporary political scene in our country. Here's the concluding paragraph:

"Today, Americans need to re-evaluate their organizing principle. They must choose between their Constitution and the tyranny of a Military Industrial Complex run riot. Today, Americans choose whether to give King George the Despot free rein or boot him out in favor of reintroducing President George W. Bush the right-wing democrat to the cold, hard but clear light of day."

These are the comments I made in response:

I'm sure I'll be called naive for this, but is it that inconceivable that Bush thinks Saddam proposes a serious threat to his region? Is it not possible that one elected official is honest in his stances and the justification he gives for them? Or is every politician (at least the conservative ones) acting secretly on behalf of the Vast Military Industrial Complex And The Right Wing Conspiracy, rather than the reasons s/he gives?

What prompts this degree of jadedness? It's not as if Bush has been in public office in America for decades, slowly working his way to the Pinnacle of Power so that he can unleash his Dastardly Plan To Dominate The World.

The other thing that amazes me is the inability of the political thought as expressed in this post and its comments to consider that the opposing viewpoint has some degree of rationality. Perhaps I am misreading things, but it seems that there is an underlying presumption that the view expressed here is the only reasonable view, rather than seeing the two opposing views as having the same underlying principles, with those principles being manifested in different ways, according to what each side sees as the most prudent way to manifest those common principles.

But as I said, that's just how it seems to me.
Pentagon Brass to Special Ops: Shave!!

This is ridiculous. The Special Ops guys are doing their jobs on the ground in Afghanistan, and some guy (or guys) behind a desk in the Pentagon says they gotta shave.

NYTimes Editorial Watch

Today's installment: this must be a typo!

The lead editorial in the Times today says that the Republicans won "because of Mr. Bush's personal popularity and his smart strategy."

Read it again. Bush's smart strategy.

The Times has used "smart" to describe Bush. More suprises from this election!
Rush impresses

I was pleasantly surprised with Limbaugh's performance with Brokaw and Russert last night, as well as the latter's treatment of Rush. I thought he came across very well, and Brokaw in particular seemed to enjoy the interaction.

I think I'll have to tune in today to see what he has to say.
Two Democrat attempts to find a silver-lining

I heard a lot of people trying to find that proverbial silver-lining for the Democrats after the debacle that was this mid-term election. One of them was this: "Well, at least we won the governor's races in the states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin, and that'll set us up nicely for 2004."

Wrong. As many others (including Tim Russert, and maybe Rush) pointed out, the Republicans had governors in all four of those states in 2000, and Gore won every one of them. No silver-lining there.

What about Catholic abortion rights supporter and new Michigan governor, Jennifer Granholm? A lot of pundits were talking about her as a possible future player on the national stage. That may be, but not as President or Vice President -- as Russert pointed out, Granholm was born in Canada, and so cannot hold either position, under the U.S. Constitution.

No silver-lining there, either.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and he comes from Midland, Texas!!



UNbelievable. I would never have imagined that things would have turned out as good as they did last night. And while it looks like my man John Thune will lose to Tim Johnson, the important thing is that the Republicans have 51 votes, which not only means that they will take over, but that they don't have to do the whole power-sharing thing they did right after Bush won (see this Byron York story from yesterday on why a 50-50 split wouldn't be enough).

Everyone is acknowledging that Bush's heavy campaigning was a major factor -- if not the factor -- in the way things went. He put his political capital on the line, and it paid off.

Now let's get those judges through and pass the partial-birth abortion ban!

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

How can he not see this???

In a story about a high school student boycott over the allowance of a GayStraight Alliance group to form at the school, James Esseks (litigation director for the ACLU's lesbian and gay-rights project), said this about the boycott:

''The level of reaction or resistance they're encountering illustrates the need for a safe place for these kids to meet,'' Esseks said. ''Can you imagine being a gay or lesbian student in a community where people feel so free in expressing their intolerance? That must be a difficult place to be.''

Did you catch that? (I hope so... I bolded it :-) Mr. Esseks is (implicitly) criticizing the boycotting students for exercising their First Amendment right to disapprove of something! Yes, Mr. Esseks calls it intolerance, but that's a whole other issue. What amazes me is the ACLU's ability to be intolerant of views they disagree with. Wow.
The Mysterium Iniquitatis

Yesterday Mark Shea posted a reflection on the irrational nature of sin. It's an excellent post, which I would recommend reading.

That post sparked a few comments about the "mysterious" nature of sin, specifically in light of its irrationality. Sin just does make sense. Literally.

Some of the comments led me to make my own, which I am reproducing here:

To others who disagree that sin is a mystery: think about Adam and Eve in the garden. They exist in a state of integrated humanity, as truly happy as possible without the beatific vision. They are fully aware of what is True, Good, and Beautiful. They have no innate inclination (i.e. concupiscence) to sin.

Yet they do sin. Somehow, they manage to reject The Truth, Goodness, and Beauty that is God and choose an inferior good.

Does that make any sense? No... it's irrational, just like all sin. For those of you who are Catholic, read paragraph 1849 in the Catechism: "sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience." Note what is first in the list: reason.

I blogged more on this a while back, here.
Two notable comments today from Andrew Sullivan...

One Good, one Bad.

First, the Good: his commentary on how the Democrats are in a bad shape chiefly because they are "anti-" lots of things, but not "pro-" anything, at least according to how they've been doing things of late.

Second, the Bad: Andrew affirms an editorial in the Jesuit weekly America, which (in Sullivan's words) "firmly supports the continued ordination of gay priests." Mr. Sullivan then quotes part of the editorial, and I'd like to quote one part of that excerpt: "Ensuring that the church ordains only psychologically healthy priests is one answer to the sexual abuse crisis. Scapegoating healthy and celibate gay priests is not."

The problem here is this: what if homosexuality is a psychological disorder, and not a genetic one? If that were the case, then "psychologically healthy priests" and "gay priests" would be terms that are difficult to reconcile, would they not?

I'm not arguing (here, at least) that homosexuality's origins are psychological... I'm simply pointing out that this possibility may provide some explanation any possible change in the Church's attitude towards ordaining men with a homosexual inclination.
Good OpinionJournal columns

Two from yesterday on the Coleman-Mondale debate, one by Peggy Noonan, the other by John Fund.

Then, today there is a piece on gerrymandering.

Now, I tend to blame many of our political system's problems on the citizens, because they have the power to change things with their vote. However, this is one example of how the politicians work the system in their favor in a way that makes it difficult for some people's vote to matter. Here's a "money quote": "Goo-goo liberals destroy entire forests bemoaning the lack of voter turnout, but why vote if the race is already over? Pre-fixed elections strike us as a far greater cause of voter cynicism than "negative ads" or "campaign finance reform" or the other windmills that the goo-goos usually tilt at."

I have to agree.
NATO is getting a make-over
NYTimes Letter Watch

Today's Installment: Atheist Scouts

This letter writer thinks that Darrell Lambert should quit the Scouts and start his own organization, "one that actually respects the beliefs of others and encourages independent thought."

There's some good and bad here. First of all, I'm glad to see that this writer doesn't think that the Scouts should be legally compelled to change their views. At the same time, though, there's that little comment about "independent thought".

I don't know about our letter writer, but the characteristic I desire the most when it comes to my thinking is truth.
The Left Dumbs Down

That's the name of Nicholas Kristof's latest piece at the NYTimes. He details the ridiculous things the Left has been saying of late, and along the way, he makes this comment: "When my columns criticize the Bushies, I get torrents of e-mails cheering me on, but in terms so strident that they appall me."

You know why that is, Mr. Kristof? Because -- as Peggy Noonan and Bill Bennett have both said of late -- politics dominates the lives of too many liberals and Democrats, to the point that that everything is read through the prism of the political.

Monday, November 04, 2002

Revised Sex Abuse Norms Released

See the USCCB press release here, with a side-by-side comparison of the June Norms and the Revised Norms here. Here is the AP story.
First Election

in which the blogosphere will be active in a major way (some of our forerunners were active in '02). Dunno if it'll mean much, but it should be fun reading everyone's take as results come in...
And the winner is...

Looks like the portion of the Coleman-Mondale debate I saw was indicative of the whole thing: Norm won.
Always fun to read...

are David Cloud's Fundamental Baptist Information Service "news" articles. One of the most recent is Chuck Colson and Rome, in which Mr. Cloud complains about Chuck's view of Catholicism and the Pope. Referring to a positive statement by Colson about John Paul II, Cloud writes, "Colson's blindness is incredible. Only biblical prophecies of last-day apostasy can explain such blindness. The Pope of Rome, a defender of Christian orthodoxy! Why, everything he stands for uniquely as the Pope is contrary to the Bible."

('m really surprised that that last sentence wasn't concluded with an exclamation point.)

Yes, to say that John Paul II defends the core beliefs of Christianity is surely a sign of the end times.
Ecclesia in Europa?

In the years leading up to the Great Jubilee, John Paul II convoked special bishops' synods for each of the continents, and wrote apostolic exhortations afterwards, taking up the themes of each synod.

However, the exhortation for the synod on Europe has not been released, as far as I know.

Does anybody know why?
Sola Scriptura

David Heddle has posted some thoughts on the Protestant principle Sola Scriptura.

I've often wondered how Protestants reconcile this principle with the canon of the New Testament. I.e., how can one accept the inspired nature of Sacred Scripture without recourse to an extra-biblical authority (namely, the magisterium). Hopefully David will deal with this argument in the near future.

In the meantime, read Gary Hoge's excellent presentation of this argument against sola Scriptura, as well as the follow-up. I'd also recommend Gary's response to James White's attempted rebuttal of this argument.

Update: David pointed me to a prior post of his, in which he dealt with the canon. I was somewhat surprised to note that David posits that the canon is a fallible list of inspired texts. If that were true, it seems to me that ultimately, there is no way to prevent someone from removing texts from the NT, if they provided sufficient "evidence" for their actions.
A Hobbit Village.

In Oslo.
Mondale on the Constitution

Just saw a bit of the Coleman-Mondale debate on FoxNews. Mondale repeatedly stated that "choice" (i.e. abortion rights) is in the Constitution, and the way he spoke about it, you'd think he thought the actual word "abortion" is found in it.

Mondale must not be up on the constitutional arguments vis. abortion: even abortion rights supporters acknowledge that Roe v. Wade -- which supposedly established the constitutionality of abortion -- was a horrible piece of jurisprudence. But then, Walter has been out of politics for over ten years, so that's not surprising.

A general note: Coleman seemed to be winning the debate, at least during the portion I saw. His tone, demeanor, and responses were -- by and large -- superior to Mondale's, who kept talking about Coleman's "right-wing views". Soon he'll be talking about the right-wing conspiracy, too.
The Hour of the Laity

The website for the magazine First Things always features one article from the current issue, with entire back issues being available online.

I'm happy to see that the featured article from the November issue is Mary Ann Glendon's terrific piece, The Hour of the Laity.

Essentially, Glendon is echoing the documents of Vatican II, Paul VI, and John Paul II which call for the laity to bring the Gospel to the world in the affairs of their daily lives. Particularly, she calls for an intellectual renewal among American Catholics, arguing that "we have neglected our stewardship duties toward the intellectual heritage that we hold in trust for future generations," and stating that we "need to rededicate themselves to the intellectual apostolate, not only for the sake of the Church’s mission, but for the sake of a country that has become dangerously careless about the moral foundations on which our freedoms depend."

Near the end of the article, she writes:

"What if the scattered Catholic faithful were to remember and embrace the heritage that is rightly theirs? What if they were to rediscover the newness of their faith and its power to judge the prevailing culture? What an awakening that would be for the sleeping giant! As John Paul II likes to tell young people: “If you are what you should be—that is if you live Christianity without compromise—you will set the world ablaze!”"

What if, indeed!
A Different Reception?

Call To Action held its annual conference in the same place it has for years: Milwaukee.

I wonder if the presence of Archbishop Dolan rather than Archbishop Weakland had any significant impact on this year's conference. Needless to say, they have -- um, differing views on CTA's theology.

Anybody know anything about how the conference went, or comments from the archdiocese?
Bill Bennett on his old party

Bill Bennett writes today at NRO on the Democrat Party, to which he belonged until 1986. In this excellent piece, Bennett echoes a theme which Peggy Noonan wrote on last Friday: the exclusive focus on politics, in this case by the contemporary Democrat Party. Bennett writes, "Politics was not only all-consuming for them [the Party and its constituency], and the political was not just the same as the personal — politics had revealed itself for what it truly had become for the Democratic party: final."

Very true. And very sad.

There is much more to life than politics. Too bad that so many of today's Democrats and their current leadership are blind to it all.
Ex-Gay Conference

Focus on the Family held an ex-gay conference this weekend. Sounds like it did pretty well.

Saturday, November 02, 2002

Jewish Kingdom and Christian Church: Second-Cousins?

Yes they are, according to a post this morning by Carl Olson at the Envoy Encore blog (no permalink available: it's the one posted at 10:18, titled "What's Behind Being Left Behind?"). Carl's post is a primer on "Premillennial Dispensationalism", and it's very interesting; among other things, he shows that the logical outcome of the various aspects of this belief is that some people will be Christians (those saved by Jesus during the Tribulation period), but won't belong to the Church!!!

Um, Tim? Jerry? Every Christian is a member of the Church, necessarily. The Church is the Body of Christ, according to St. Paul, so if you aren't in the Church, you aren't in Christ. And how can a Christian not be in Christ?

Are there any premillennial dispensationalist readers there who can offer any thoughts?
Mondale: afraid to debate

At least, that's the way it looks.

Friday, November 01, 2002

Michael Kinsley: (wrong) on embryos

Allow me to link for you Michael Kinsley's latest piece at Slate, entitled, "Embryos Made Easy".

Michael's concern is this: does or does not President Bush believe that embryos are human beings, and therefore subjects of the same rights which we (adult human beings) are?

Kinsley's own views on the moral & ontological status of the fetus -- and the motivating factor of those who do not share his opinion -- are hinted at early on, but eventually become clear. Unfortunately, the reasoning behind them lacks that clarity.

Kinsley states, "An embryo has no feelings, no self-awareness, nothing that would give anyone a concern about its welfare except for its potential to develop into something we recognize as human. Religion can give you that concern as a matter of faith, but government policy should not be based on this belief any more than on the religious belief of some people that plants have souls."

Oh boy.

Okay, first of all, I'm not exactly sure what his point is in the first sentence; is he making a statement about the qualities of personhood, or just stating that its potential to develop into something we recognize as human is the source of our concern for it? The answer to that question doesn't really matter, though, because either way, he's wrong: actually having feelings is not what makes something a person, nor is actually being self-aware. I've covered this before (here and here): the key to personhood is having the actual potential to reason, freely-will, be self-aware to a certain degree, etc. Actually doing or having those characteristics is irrelevant, because if that were the case, then the comatose wouldn't be persons!

That's the first half; Kinsley is also on dangerous ground when he speaks about how the fetus has the potential to develop into something we recognize as human. I hope Michael isn't arguing that personhood is bestowed when another recognizes something about that being. This makes personhood completely subjective, dependent on what each and every person believes about personhood. Again, I hope that's not Kinsley's intention.

Moving on...

Michael's second sentence is far, far worse. Michael apparently believes that the only basis for recognizing the personhood of the fetus is religious dogma. He doesn't seem to even consider the notion that there is a rational, philosophical case to be made for fetal personhood. (Again, see my old post linked above for such a case.) And of course, if religion is the basis for this view, than it has no place in the public policy forum.

Things only get worse in the next paragraph: "What bothers people is that there is no clear moment in human development when an embryo becomes a fetus or a fetus becomes a person. The gradual way fetuses take on aspects of real personhood is what makes the second line so controversial. The first line is not nearly so fraught with implications."

Remember, Michael has already either dismissed the possibility of rational argument for embryonic personhood, or isn't even aware of it. Either way, it's pretty sorry. He only adds to his errors in this paragraph, speaking about the absence of a clear division between "embryo", "fetus", and "person" [sic].

I am astounded how abortion rights supporters are able to invest terms simply used to categorize stages of development with the ontological differentiation they do. The fact is, there is no moral or ontological difference between a zygote, and embryo, a fetus, a neonate, an adolescent, or an adult. These terms are nothing more than different words, used to speak about the different stages of development in the human being.

Of course, we still have Kinsley's erroneous view of personhood present, when he states that the fetus "take on aspects of real personhood." Mr. Kinsley, all the fetus is doing is self-actualizing itself. It already is a person, because a human person is a member of the species homo sapiens that has the actual potential to develop into an adult human being, and to do the things that an adult human being does.

I am truly astounded by the inability of all sorts of people to grasp this simple argument. I'm not tooting my own horn here... this is the basic argument for embryonic personhood put forth by innumberable individuals.

Why are people still so focused on appearances, when it comes to recognizing personhood? Why are we unable to get past the irrelevant factors (the accidents, in Aristotle's terminology), and consider the essence of a thing? In the past, personhood has been determined by sexuality, race, ethnicity, religion, etc. Today it is still recognized by non-factors: stage of development, degree of dependency, etc.

It's frustrating -- very frustrating -- to see someone like Mr. Kinsley -- someone who is obviously intelligent -- fail to comprehend what is really a very simple argument.

Now NFP is Neo-Catholic (and hence bad), too

One self-styled "traditional Catholic" is opposed to modern forms of NFP, although this piece often seems to tend towards a condemnation of NFP in general.

Apparently, the "problem" is the use of technology & charting in modern NFP methods. Somehow, the use of technology makes these methods almost evil, while (apparently) the rhythm and calender methods are find because they don't use technology.

Non-belief is a belief system

Good, quick post at ibidem, making the point that atheism is in fact a belief-system.
Envoy Encore

That's the name of the new blog from Envoy Magazine, one of the best Catholics apologetics and evangelization magazines out there. Exciting!
Wellstone and Mondale

This quote by a Minnesota gay activist regarding Wellstone, from a post at the Brothers Judd (link via Andrew Sullivan): ""I would have voted for Wellstone. But, sorry for my disrespect, I personally hated the man. He was grossly, openly homophobic. He was a loud advocate of the Defense of Marriage Act, and gave quotes like "what Sheila and I have is a holy thing, a covenant between each other and with god. I don't believe same sex relationships have that sanctity."

Wow. I never knew words like those graced the lips of the former senator.


Meanwhile, James Lileks shreds Mondale's recent press conference remarks.
I'm sure plenty of others will link this...

but Peggy Noonan's latest is terrific. It's a memo from Paul Wellstone to his fellow Democrats, and its' a tour de force.

My favorite aspect? Peggy's point that some people (including the Democrats at the funeral-rally) have "let politics completely take over your lives," that "the only way you could show any warmth was through politics."

Precisely. It's far too easy for people to let the prism of politics dominate their understanding of the world and their actions in it. And that's on all sides of the aisle.
"Pro-life Progressive?? Who, me??"

Today at NRO, Timothy Carney tells the story of Dennis Kucinich, another pro-life Democrat (a self-proclaimed progressive, in fact) who switched sides on the abortion issue to curry political favor. This time, it came as a result of an article in a May, 2002 issue of The Nation. Carney aptly concludes the article:

"Apparently, Kucinich conceded that if he were to lead the Left (possibly one day, he hopes, as their presidential contender), he must get on board with the abortionists. The editors of The Nation surely are proud that they exposed Kucinich as a man who sticks to his faith — and that they remedied that situation promptly."