Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Pedophilia: A Problem?

A couple of months back, I offered the salient—if not particularly profound—prediction that polygamy would eventually become legal as well as acceptable to the consciences of a majority of Americans:

The acceptability of polygamy is all well and good of course, as what one does in one’s room should be personal business. But only to a point. It is good to prevent the government from becoming tyrannical and it is imperative that the rights of the majority do not trample on that of the minority. Yet if the majority cannot enact laws based on a shared morality, this republic of ours has exposed itself as a fraud.

It would be good for the people to think long and hard about the purpose of marriage and the role of government therein, before the right to marriage is even more of a sham than our supposed democracy.

I took a bit of criticism for my application of the slippery slope. Deemed a logical fallacy, it is often insensibly ignored in discussions among seemingly rational people. For though not every slope is slippery, such things do exist. If a president wished to extirpate the liberty of the people in his attempts at achieving complete control, he would be extraordinarily foolish to suddenly suspend all civil liberties for an indefinite amount of time. If, on the other hand, he was less of a fool, he might "temporarily" limit liberties, removing the object to his desire through a slow and methodical process until his subjects should discover that the slope to despotism was slippery indeed.

This does not mean that the acceptance of gay marriage will necessitate a slide into moral anarchy, at least in regards to sexual indiscretions. Yet without the sudden manifestation and widespread adoption of a comprehensive doctrine on human sexuality, there is nothing to stop society from descending into utter turmoil. Having declared as normal something deemed an abomination by Judeo-Christian society, it is preposterous to believe that the rest of the doctrine will be honored. If Jews and Christians are wrong about homosexuals, there may be no end to the things of which they are ill-informed.

The sexual revolution was a reaction, but like all too many reactions, it was so obsessed with the wrong that it was reacting against, it didn't pause to consider that it would soon too produce a tremendous wrong. To the Netherlands we must go to see further evidence of this revolution, and the amusing situation that has even some of the revolutionaries wondering if things haven't gone too far.

Dutch pedophiles are launching a political party to push for a cut in the legal age for sexual relations to 12 from 16 and the legalization of child pornography and sex with animals, sparking widespread outrage.


"A ban just makes children curious," Ad van den Berg, one of the party's founders, told the Algemeen Dagblad (AD) newspaper.


"We want to get into parliament so we have a voice. Other politicians only talk about us in a negative sense, as if we were criminals," Van den Berg told Reuters.

One cannot help but feel a smidgen of pity for the poor revolutionaries. They were told that any number of mad creatures would jump aboard their bandwagon as soon as it had gained momentum, and, wonder of wonders, thus it has come to pass.

I am not so foolish or uncharitable as to suggest that there is no reasonable defense against pedophilia which nonetheless allows for gay marriage. Yet those who have signed onto the revolution have not often, for all their passion, demonstrated a propensity to think rationally, as evidenced, most obviously, by their surprise that some might suggest polygamy, pedophilia, or bestiality. Since I have a sanguine faith in the mind of modern man, I have no doubt they'll figure something out.

On a personal note, I have no problem at all with the Pedophile Party. Oh, I realize that it is morally repugnant to allow children to be abused, but I've been warned against legislating morality. What happens between two people is their own business. Children, or teenagers anyway—again I am told—are going to have sex anyway. Am I to be so intolerant as to limit the age of their respective partners?

In the City of God, laws would be superfluous, but until Christ establishes his reign or men and women let him live ever in their hearts, no law, nor any amount of laws, however well intended, will cause man to live according to the Higher Law of the triune God. The battle is, and will always be, a cultural one. We cannot look to the government to protect our children from pederasts; we must do that on our own. We cannot look to the government to legislate according to the Higher Law; in due time, men's hearts turn away from God, and erect laws which conform to stubborn pride. Such things only distract from that which matters, and as we squabble over just how many lunar cycles is proper for fornication, the intrusion of government into the whole affair causes it to grow in scope and invasiveness.

There is no reason to involve the heads of state in something so sacred as sex, and when even conservatives Christians turn to government and not to God to save us, quite literally, from sin, one cannot help but feel we are dire need of Him.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

A Brilliant Idea

Maybe we should all relax, just a little bit.

The Rayburn House Office Building was locked down for more than four hours today after a New Jersey congressman reported hearing the sound of gunfire in the building's garage.

The noise apparently came from construction work being done in the building, Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said.

"There were some workers . . . in the area of the Rayburn garage, in the elevator area, and in doing their routine duties they made some sort of a noise that sounded like shots fired," Schneider said.

She said that while the police investigation is continuing, the construction work is a "plausible explanation" for the noise that also briefly closed the Capitol building and locked down D.C. public schools.

At first glance, it seems ridiculous that construction work could shut down the Capitol building as well as the D.C. public schools. At second glance, I don't know whether to be more surprised that there were actually representatives in the Capitol building or that D.C. actually had schools.

Third glance: if this is all it takes to shutdown D.C., I have a suggestion for the Minutemen. Send people with jackhammers to work just outside where our honored representatives do the lobbyists', er, our bidding. This will shut the government down completely, which is essentially what libertarians would like. Yes, this is highly theoretical, but a man can dream.

Liberty sounds like construction. Who knew?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Rape That Wasn't; The Lie That Was

The news keeps getting better for the Duke lacrosse players.

The woman who has accused three members of the Duke University lacrosse team of raping her at an off-campus party told investigators several different stories about the night of the alleged incident, sources close to the defense team representing the players have told FOX News.

...Regarding the 1,300 pages of evidence, sources told FOX News that the accuser allegedly did not tell the officer who met her at a supermarket after responding to a 911 call that she had been raped. Later, the woman told a doctor at a mental health facility that she had been sexually assaulted. She later denied that claim to a police officer when she arrived at the Duke hospital for care.

At least two sources also said there may be a discrepancy in the number of men the accuser says were involved.

The woman also originally claimed that a second dancer who accompanied her to the party, Kim Roberts, was inside the bathroom during the alleged rape, the sources said. The accuser claims she was assaulted and sodomized in that bathroom for about a half an hour and that she tried to fend off her attackers.

When police asked Roberts whether she was in the room at the time, Roberts reportedly told police, "that's a crock."

Defense sources also say the accuser admitted to having had sexual intercourse with at least three men around the time of the alleged attack. According to those sources, when investigators questioned her after DNA tests on the semen found inside her body did not match any of the Duke players, the accuser gave police the name of her boyfriend and two men who drove her to her dancing engagements.

She's been traumatized, that's why she's lying. And pigs fly. Women who have been raped do not have sex with other men immediately thereafter. This woman is a pathetic excuse for a human being. She is undermining the cases of other women who have actually been raped; she has unfairly bludgeoned the reputation of these boys--though they should be ashamed for being in the vicinity of a stripper in the first place; and she is wasting the revenue of the local taxpayers. She should be publicly reprimanded by all those who rallied to her side, and those who prematurely assumed guilt for the men involved owe the them apologies. This scum bag should also reimburse the taxpayers, and the DA, who obviously used a fraudulent case to secure re-election, should resign in disgrace.

Women in Charge

This from the Pioneer Press:

In 1998, Francis Fukuyama published a short article in Foreign Affairs called "Women and the Evolution of World Politics." He began with a gruesome tale of violence among male zoo chimpanzees ("toes and testicles littering the floor of the cage") and moved briskly into a sociobiological account of human conflict (men are naturally aggressive; women are nicer).

...In the developed world, there's more to cheer about. Because increased opportunity for women seems to translate into more prosperous and stable societies, what's not to like — unless you're Fukuyama — about a future in which the power elite may look more female than male?

Given the declining number of men seeking higher education, perhaps it will soon be women who dominate public life, while men — less educated and less productive — will be relegated to the sidelines.

...Will all those undereducated first-world men of the future go contentedly home to change diapers while their high-powered wives run the world? Or will they engage in still unimaginable forms of global mischief?

Fukuyama deserves credit for commenting on the difference in the sexes, that, though painfully obvious to anyone with eyes, yet irks those who choose not to use them. Just ask Larry Summers. Whether or not these differences are due to nature or nurture is irrelevant; it is enough to know that they exist. I will grant that men are more aggressive than women--or at least those who have not been drugged into a stupor for having ADD, which is now apparently transmissible by air, judging from its pervasiveness. But women have a weakness of their very own, which the author of the article--Rosa Brooks, not Fukuyama--fails to mention.

Women prefer safety and security over liberty, and will readily grant power to the government to protect them, and especially their children, from the evils which freedom brings. This is nothing more than the maternal instinct on display, and fifty years ago the love a mother had for her child was still generally considered beneficent. We're more enlightened now, thank goodness, and sensible women now go to work. Even so, the maternal instinct still remains, as evidenced by the propensity for women to vote for the party which espouses big(ger) government. It was for this reason that John Adams warned us of the "tyranny of the petticoat". The extension of the suffrage to women, however nobly intended, has brought irreparable consequences, and has rendered the collapse into totalitarianism inevitable. It is uncouth to suggest that the virtues of wisdom and prudence fall unevenly about the masses, but it is also readily apparent. And while there are many women who can vote more intelligently than men--this in my subjective estimation of course--the vast majority of women will vote to expand the power of the federal government, expansion which invariably comes at the expense of personal liberty.

Notes Fred Reed:

Men have controlled the world through most of history so we know what they do: build things, break things, invent things, compete with each other fiercely and often pointlessly, and fight endless wars that seem to them justifiable at the time but that, seen from afar, are just what males do. The unanswered question is what women would, or will, do. How will their increasing influence reshape the polity?

Women and men want very different things and therefore very different worlds. Men want sex, freedom, and adventure; women want security, pleasantness, and someone to care about (or for) them. Both like power. Men use it to conquer their neighbors whether in business or war, women to impose security and pleasantness.

I do not suggest that the instinctive behavior of women is necessarily bad, nor that of men necessarily good. I do suggest that that the effects will be profound, probably irreversible, and not necessarily entirely to the liking of either sex. The question may be whether one fears most being conquered or being nicened to death.

Brooks is guilty of tremendous naiveté. Fred makes no such mistake, pulling no punches. Humans, given half a chance, will do their darnedest to disappoint anyone faulted with sanguine expectations. History, which is mostly dominated by men, is a blood bath. Occasionally someone got people to behave sensibly for a while, but as soon as the sage croaked, his teaching forgotten--sorry, most sages were men--the other fellows got back to butchering each other. Such is life.

It's less clear what a modern matriarchy would look like, but it's comical to assume that if women do succeed in taking the jobs of men, we need to worry about the guy back home. The guys will, being guys, break things and set other stuff, some of it broken, on fire. They will also play video games and drink beer. It is power which corrupts; the extent of the corruption among house dads will be resigned to mythical realms of pixelated peasants. I'm not worried about the house dads.

It's still unclear to me why women are going to do a substantially better job than men. Certainly, the track record of men has been less than exemplary, but as Fred notes, it's a matter of being conquered of nicened to death. Things will still be generally unpleasant; at least with the fellows we have some evidence--say thousands of years worth--of the particular flavor of unpleasantness patriarchy often brings. There is something to be said for the preference to that which is known, but maybe people like surprises better than I do.

The other curiosity is her avoidance of birth rates, which continue to fall in the western world. She does mention infanticide, which, strangely, is problematic, not because it destroys progeny, but because preferential treatment for boys leads to massive inequalities in the number of men and women later in life, furthering the dominance of men. Agreed, but since women have a monopoly on wombs, it has always seemed natural to me that women should stay home to raise the children and the men, being fairly useless in the compassion department, ought to go to work to bring home the bacon. In their efforts to shed the shackles of motherhood, women have eagerly took up the shackles of the corporate world. Thanks to the pill, women don't have to have children, and they are now generally as useless as men, at least from a standpoint of species propagation.

Letting the ladies run things around the office and in the government might be good for man, err, personkind--though this is still less than sure. Do diversity seminars benefit anyone? Is a cantankerous white man more likely to make attendance mandatory than a liberated woman? Do taxes seem more pleasant if the stamp on the envelop with the check has a smiley face on it? Hypothetical circumstances aside, the point remains that women who work have fewer children. If enough women refrain from having kids, society will eventually die out. I'm unclear as to how this can be a good thing, even if the work place is nicer and government imposes with a smile.

Things could get interesting. Over in Europe, certain countries dole out money for couples who have children, with more money coming with each subsequent child. As yet, the rewards aren't working. Birth rates in America are still at replacement level, and immigrants, illegal and otherwise, also contribute to the growth of the republic, not only by coming here, but by having children themselves, as immigrants, illegal and otherwise, have more children than do the natives. Still, we have a way of following the odd behavior of our ancestors across the pond. One wonders what a woman president and a female controlled congress would do, faced with such a crisis. Would they order women to have children--by asking nicely of course, and sweetening the deal with monetary compensation--or continue to strike a blow to the dwindling patriarchy by taking no action at all? We'll find out soon enough.

Meanwhile, I'll be burning and breaking things.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

People Like Bad Movies

I'm almost shocked. It turns out that that American people turned out in hordes to see The Da Vinci Code, despite dismal reviews from the critics. The movie earned 77 million on opening weekend. Personally, I don't see how this can be accurate seeing how the weekend isn't over yet, but what do I know.

As an aside, I can't seem to figure out if critics in general, and movie critics in particular are completely, or only partially useless. Generally speaking, people don't see good films, opting instead for mediocre thrillers or bland, sexual comedies with shallow characters. Explosions are good, too.

On the one hand, the critics might actually know what they are talking about, but since the masses are on an altogether different level, the elitist commentary which makes up a typical review often only comes across as smug. C'est la vie.

I think I'll wind down tonigh with On The Waterfront. I can't remember if the critics liked it or not. It's no Da Vinci Code, that's for sure.

Disciplining Marciel

Pope Benedict XVI is showing signs of bravado:

Pope Benedict XVI disciplined the founder of the conservative Legionaries of Christ, a favorite of Pope John Paul II who for decades has been dogged by sexual abuse allegations _ effectively making the elderly prelate a priest in name only.

In its announcement Friday the Vatican did not say whether it had determined if the accusations against the 86-year-old Mexican priest, the Rev. Marcial Maciel, were true. But canon law experts said the Vatican would not have imposed such a severe penalty unless it found at least some validity to the complaints.

Initially, nine former seminarians said Maciel had abused them when they were young boys or teenagers in Roman Catholic seminaries in Spain and Italy in the 1940s-1960s. Later, others came forward.

One of the problems which plagued Pope John Paul II pontificate was the priest abuse scandal, and his seeming blindness or indifferenct to what was actually a tremendous tragedy. One should not impugn the character of such a holy man too easily, but even saints make mistakes. In his defense, evidently orthodox priests and other good Catholics were often falsely charged with heinous crimes by the enemies of the Church, at least in the Pope's native Poland. Thus, he interpreted allegations of abuse, not as serious and credible charges, bus instead as character smears, similar to those he saw earlier in his lifetime. Benedict's decision to discipline Marciel shows that he does not take the same view as his predecessor.

The Legionaries of Christ, which Maciel founded in 1941 in Mexico City, is one of the fastest-growing religious orders in the Catholic Church with more than 600 priests and 2,500 seminarians in 20 countries in North and South America, Europe and Australia.

It was well-regarded by John Paul in particular because of its conservative views, loyalty to church teaching and because it has been so successful in recruiting.

That Benedict would choose to target Marciel is telling. Obviously, Marciel is quite guilty; the Vatican wouldn't dare take the risk of taking out someone of such high profile were the case the least bit ambiguous. Still, the laws of practical politics, insensible that they are, say to leave the founder of a growing orthodox order well enough alone. If Benedict's latest action is indicative of the way in which his papacy will be run, orthodox Catholic, even those who look well upon Marciel, have reason to be pleased. Once the priesthood had been cleansed, healing and forgiveness can take place, and the Church can reclaim her place in the world as a bastion of morality and truth. This can only be done by going after each and every pedophile, and the cowardly bishops who perpetuated these monsters.

Reforml takes time, but if Benedict is committed, as one can safely surmise, the reform will transpire as quickly as possible. The Church gives all appearances of being in very good hands.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Dud Vinci Code

Since I'm Catholic, I should probably care. More Da Vinci news here, off to elsewhere if you're not interested.

Kicking off the annual Cannes film festival, Ron Howard's adaptation of the Dan Brown bestseller was described variously as "grim", "unwieldy" and "plodding", though one reviewer bucked the trend and said "You'll Louvre It!"

Terrible pun. We're bringing back the Inquisition if the reviewer doesn't knock it off now.

Even before its general release on May 18 and 19, The Da Vinci Code generated controversy as Christians around the world called for it to be banned.

I don't think the reviews matter. The movie will do moderately well because 1) people have poor taste in films--this from someone who thinks Strange Brew was comic gold--and 2) the controversy is worth a few million bucks at least.

If you ban it, they will go. Humans have a prediliction to indulge in that which is verboten. Educate people about the true history of the Church and let that speak for itself. Banning the movie, or even attempting to do so, gives the clown named Brown media attention. A large segment of the population spends a preposterous amount of time in front of the television. The more often "Da Vinci" comes up, the more likely they will imbibe.

I've got a hunch this thing isn't going away any time soon. Stay tuned....

Protesting Protestantism: A Possible Introduction

I recently finished reading a moderately fascinating book entitled The Mosaic of Christian Belief. It was recommended to me after I confessed an ignorance of Protestant traditions. Before I read the book I was a convicted Catholic; after I read the book I am a convicted Catholic. Anyway, the author, Roger E. Olson, who is obviously a well educated theologian, traces core Christian beliefs throughout what he calls "twenty centuries of unity and diversity". In his own words, his book:

aims at being thoroughly biblical and both faithful to the Great Tradition of Christianity as well as contemporary in its restatement of what Christians have always believed. It also intends, however, to provide a mediating theological perspective within the broad tradition of evangelical Protestant Christianity. A mediating theology is one that attempts to bridge unnecessary and unfortunate gulfs between perspectives and interpretations within a single religion—in this case Christianity. Such an approach values unity as well as truth and assumes that at times it is necessary for equally committed Christians to agree to disagree about secondary matters and come together on common ground. One way in which this may be accomplished is by a rediscovery and new valuing of our common Christian heritage of belief—what will here be called the Great Tradition of Christian teaching...

At least in my own estimation, Olson does not seem to succeed. This is not because of a lack of intelligence, foresight or wisdom on his part; and it is certainly not due to a lack of humility. Olson's error is more fundamental than the mere mark of imperfection which is present in every Christian, theologian or otherwise. It is my intention to explain Olson's error and offer a solution to it within this book.

Let us first look back at Olson's introduction as shown above. Sub-titled “The Need for a “Both-And” Theology”, Olson embraces a contradiction that is not quite a paradox. For a paradox is true, and if inexplicable, it nonetheless stands. I am certain that Olson understands paradox, for he uses the very word, as well as examples thereof in his book. I am equally certain that Olson does not believe that there is anything out of the ordinary with the title of his introduction. But he is emphatically wrong, and we cannot go further in his book without explaining the inconsistency present in the most basic principle of his book.

There are cases when “both-and” theology may apply, but they are rare. And though certainly not exclusive to the Christian faith, Christianity is marked by many paradoxes. For example, Olson points out that, according to the Christian faith, Christ was both God and man. As an aside, even this paradox, upon which the whole faith hangs, has been challenged vociferously and often during the history of the Church. I shall say more on this later. Yet there are other instances where the unity of paradox is trumped by a diversity which would give an outright contradiction. Christ may be true God and true man. It is impossible for the mind—at least my own—to comprehend such a mystery, but the fact that it transcends human understanding does not make it a falsehood. However, if Olson would have said—I should clarify that he does not—that Christ was either a man or God--but not both; if he said that both of these beliefs fit within the mold of Christianity, he would be lying. It would be akin to saying that Christ was born in both Nazareth and Bethlehem. While Olson allows no compromise on the nature of Christ, and for that I commend him, he does allow compromise on other areas. To use just one example, he notes that providence is both limited and detailed, under the Christian tradition.

I must beg the readers forgiveness while I clarify this point before moving onward. A man, if he is talented, can both chew gum and walk; he cannot take a bath and drive to the mall at the same time. These examples seem childish, and probably a bit silly, but it is only my intention to prove the same point Aristotle noted before Christ was born. “A” is not the same as “Not A”. In fact, the two are, by definition, mutually exclusive. I cannot simultaneously be writing this in my bedroom while parting the Red Sea. No one can be checking Olson's book out from the library while playing first base at Yankee stadium. If I may be even more absurd, the Red Sea is not Yankee stadium and Olson's book, although it might suffice, is not first base.

Providence may be limited, and it may be detailed. It may even, as the Catholic Tradition has it, embrace both in the form of a paradox. But the belief of Calvin cannot be reconciled with the belief of the Roman Catholic Church. Either we are all predestined in the Calvinist sense and have no real free will, but bend before the might power of God, or we, though impacted by God's grace, make decisions on our own. We have been created by a great God, and though he has the power to stop us from doing wrong, he chose instead to give us free will do that we could freely love him. He knows all things, and, as the being who transcends time, knows even those things which are to be, but he does not create so as to damn, or even in a manner that all will be saved. His love was freely given and it must be freely chosen, and even a Calvinist who sins is doing so of his own volition, and should praise God for the grace to choose well when he has done so, and earnestly repent, again of his own accord, when necessary. I should not give a false account of the words or the intent of Mr. Olson, who closes his chapter on Providence with a call to unity: “Christians need to rediscover and rally together around a distinctively Christian view of God's sovereignty over nature and history in spite of deep differences about the details.” Would that Mr. Olson closed every chapter with such a call. Anyway, the devil, it is said, is in the details. By all means Christians should rally together for a unitive viewpoint on an issue such as providence, but it is the firm contention of this book that unity is important in almost every area of Christian belief, and, furthermore, that this unity can only come, and will only come within the confines—which are not confining—of the Roman Catholic Church.

I do not wish to talk down to Mr. Olson or anyone else who may be reading this. I am sure that he is quite proficient in basic logic, and I would wager that he is far more familiar with Aristotle than I am. Therefore, I realize that what appears obvious to me, and what I should hope appears obvious to the reader, is likewise obvious to him. There is a need for some “either-or” theology. If Christianity is stricken from any absolutes at all, it retains absolutely nothing, and becomes absolutely worthless, especially as a religion. Many men and women have bravely died for Christ. Yet these martyrs have had a clear picture of what it was that they were dying for. I am not concerned, at least for the moment, with whether or not their beliefs were true. I do know that they were true enough for them; they were esteemed true enough to die for. And while many men and women have died for truth, and even for conflicting definitions of truth, they have always had this idea of truth securely in mind. It has always been a firm idea, perhaps a simple idea, but in any case something clearly defined. No one has ever been martyred for some vague notion of peace and love, even if they would sing about it. People have died in protest of individual assaults on peace or love, and even more obviously have been ironically quite ready to make war in order to make peace as were the Communists. It has always been an idea which has lifted man to perform extraordinary feats. It has always been doctrine, even if it happens to be the false doctrine of Marx.

And just as the Christians of old were willing to die for Christ, so too are Christians today ready to courageously follow suit. But the early Christians would not lay their lives down for some moral teacher who allowed for any number of opinions to divide the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. They would die for the Son of God, and indeed did so bravely and willingly. They would even die for the doctrine of the Church which the world sees as completely insignificant, as did Thomas Moore. There are even early Christians who died for the Eucharist, something about which the church is no longer united. If the belief that the bread and wine were Christ's body and blood was enough to drive holy men and women to martyrdom, it is certainly an important enough topic upon which to develop a solid, firm, and unwavering opinion to which the communion of believers may readily cling.

There is clearly need for unity in the faith, and again Olson says as much. He lucidly and quite humbly lays out some basic beliefs for Christians—what he refers to as the “Great Tradition”. But here trouble sets in. For in accepting certain beliefs as common to Christians, he is excluding other beliefs. Now, it is of course quite necessary to exclude certain beliefs if we wish to prevent Christianity from being some amorphous blob of nothing, encompassing all, and, much like a great big circus tent, collapsing of its supposed liberality. Any proclamation of any one thing is a proclamation against a thousand others, just as the man in the library is neither at Yankee Stadium nor in the Red Sea. Any proclamation of one thing extols some trait over other traits; it lifts one thing over others, even if the others do not in fact fall except in comparison. A proclamation is judgment, and a judgment is an appeal to authority. The problem is that in making a case for Christian commonality, Olson must make this appeal to authority.

There are two sources to which Olson appeals. First, the sacred scriptures, and second, his “Great Tradition” of the the church, with an emphasis on both early church fathers, and reformers along with modern day Protestants. Now, I think that Olson chooses his sources wisely, and anyway, as wisely as he could have with such an untenable proposition for a book. Throughout his work, he clearly tries to keep his opinions out of it. Certainly his selections are based on his viewpoints, but nowhere does Olson spring up to condemn something without first appealing to some authority beyond himself. This is a mark of his wisdom and humility as a Christian, but the reason the book is only moderately fascinating is that it lacks authority. I, for one, do not wish to have more of Olson's opinions in the book, and I think that those who do respect him would only see this respect diminished if he became overly pedagogic. But there is still something lacking in the book. There are common points to be sure, and assuming for the sake of the argument, which we shall revisit later, that Olson does peg Christianity correctly, the greater issue is the discrepancy, which is probably only a far meaner way of saying diversity. There is a distinct impression that what is missing from the book is a solution to all the mad controversies that have plagued the church for two thousand years. One cannot escape the feeling that the diversity does matter, and it matters even more than all the unity which we do in fact share.

To again make use of an earlier example, Olson condemns as heretic those who do not accept the dual nature of Christ, proclaimed by the Nicaean Creed, in which we say: I believe in Jesus Christ, true God, and true man. Again, I applaud Olson for his assertion, but this begs more questions than it gives answers. If the council of Nice was valid, why wasn't the council of Constance likewise valid? If the believers had authority, by whom was this authority given? If it was given by man, Christianity has been nothing but a series of best guesses by our best thinkers, and Arius was condemned, not for being wrong, but for being unable to sway enough bishops to his cause. Luther, was not a heretic, preaching false doctrines; he was an unfortunate soul, unable to conjure sympathy among the clergy. If, on the other hand, the authority derives from God, when did he remove his guiding hand from the Church? The dilemma remains.

It is not enough to say that the Great Tradition teaches that diversity of opinion is not allowed on this particular issue. There was a time when this same Tradition, would have allowed diversity on this very topic. Arius believed that his view on the nature of Christ was accurate, just as Luther thought the Church was wrong, and just as Calvin thought his beliefs correct. If we are not to allow in Arius and his followers, why do the Protestants merit a seat at the banquet table? If Arius is not a Christian, why is Luther?

Protestantism is a heresy, for it attacks the authority of the one Church, called Catholic. There are many good Protestants, and Olson gives all appearances of being one. Heretic has become a dirty word, and I run the risk of dividing rather than uniting by writing this book. Yet such is not my goal. Christians are already divided, though there was to be no division in Christ, and I don't see any way to re-unite the Church without stamping out Protestantism. It is my hope that one day we will all worship as one people, as one body in Christ. May the Lord bring us together once again into his flock. May the fold, through the mercy and grace of Christ, return to the Church.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Keyes Clearly Sees

I am only vaguely familiar with Alan Keyes, although he seems to give every appearance of being genuinely conservative. In 2004, he ran the U.S. Senate in the state of Illinois race against one, Barack Obama, despite the fact that Keyes did not live there, even though he had earlier chastised Hillary for doing something similar in New York. Yet this inconsistent burst of spontaneity does not seem to have marked a permanent regressive change in the man, as evidenced by today's column.

During his speech Monday night, President G.W. Bush acknowledged in a breathtaking understatement that, "We do not have full control of the border." If this were the beginning of his first term, and he had expressed a determination to correct the failed policies of a predecessor, that statement might imply no dereliction of duty in his administration...

The president and others suggest that we must urgently address the crisis of the millions of immigrants who are in this country illegally. But this crisis is the direct result of years of willful neglect by political leaders who have sought their own political advantage and profit for their financial backers, at the expense of America's vital interest...

We have the right to be more than a little doubtful about the credibility of politicians who tell us that we must urgently dash forward to resolve a problem greatly aggravated by their own willful incompetence.

Indeed, Mr Keyes, and well put I might add. It makes precious little difference why both parties are complicit on border security--politicians don't wish to risk alienating an ever-growing Hispanic population; lobbyists who represent corporate interest, dependent on illegal labor, can be most persuasive; globalists see no need to protect borders; doing something about a serious issue would set an unfortunate precedent. It is more than enough to know that they are, in fact, complicit. There appear to be a fair amount of house republicans to whom the aforementioned egregious cowardice does not apply--at least insofar as immigation reform is concerned--but the pusillanimity which pervades the senate is thick enough to choke Neville Chamberlain, and irreconcilable differences between the two houses will render meaningful legislation highly unlikely until after the November elections.

Keyes, and others like him, are tired of waiting for our leaders to lead. Reform cannot be postponed indefinitely, and each subsequent promise of action from the republicans followed by a period of platitudes and inaction causes doubt to embolden in the most fervent believer's heart. I need hardly mention that while the issue of immigration is slowly destorying the unity in the republican camp, the democrats epitomize disunity, and have not seen fit to develop cogent and consistent party positions on any issue save their dislike for Mr. Bush. Leadership, especially on immigration, will not come from the party of Pelosi.

Third parties have played the role of spoilers in American history, especially in recent times--just ask George's father or Al Gore. If the republican party does not grow a backbone and do something to impede the onslaught of illegals as well as begin to send back the vast majority, if not all, of the aliens who erroneously dub the U.S. "home", the Constitution party, which has no qualms about either deportation or border security, may play the spoiler in 2008. This will give Hillary the presidency, as I have long asserted, nor do I much care. In order for me to prefer one party to the other, one must do something which is genuinely preferable.
Sealing the borders and cracking down on businesses which hire illegals seems as good a place as any to start.

Keyes asks:

The border security crisis serves to reveal a deeper one, which has at its heart this question: If the elites produced by both the existing political parties are no longer willing to defend the nation's borders, how can we trust them to defend its life?

The unfortunate answer, Mr. Keyes, is that we cannot.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Rome is to America: My Obsession

A friend of mine recently said, only half jokingly, that I ought to finish Democracy in America before the lessons no longer apply. Tocqueville's assertions seem to be of three types: those that are true or mostly so; those that were once true but are no longer; and, rarest of all, educated guesses that turned out to be patently wrong. Most unfortunate, the second type seems to be ever increasing.

Yet even though his observations become less true with each step towards autocracy, his work is a classic, and the reader will be delighted to find moments when the strange French man put things just so. To use but one example:

[P]atriotism and religion are the only two motives in the world which can permanently direct the whole of a body politic to one end.

Americans are no longer near as religious as we once were, and though many still attend church, the hypocrisy of the millions of Christians the nation over is both rampant and rank. A quick survey of statistics surrounding divorce and promiscuity will not exonerate the followers of Christ whose commitment, it would seem, all too often tends to be of a purely verbal variety.

Patriotism seems to fare little better. The Fox News crowd is content to march, rank and file with their commander in chief, but as soon as the letter next to his name changes from R to D, the supposed patriotism will immediately fade. There is nothing wrong with partisanship, and, to quote Chesterton, "'My country, right or wrong' is a thing no patriot would ever think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying 'My mother, drunk or sober.'" Yet patriotism demands a love for country so long as it adheres to a specific set of principles. The two major parties disagree formally on little, and even less in terms of action, and a fervor for one coupled with a disdain for the other is more madness than patriotism.

Being the eternal pessimist, I see little hope that either religion or patriotism are renewed in time to save the republic. In fact, the more despotic a country becomes, the more difficult it is for the true patriots to continue to stand by her. We still have a long way to go on the road to totalitarianism, but without some signs of improvement, or at least a committment by one of the parties for a return to the principles upon which this nation was founded, it's going to be terribly difficult for the patriot to feel patriotic.

A return to religion is more probable, and, in the long run, the only thing that will bring salvation, not only in the world to come, but here as well. It is possible that the people of this fair land could re-discover the religion of their ancestors, and conjure up passion for something to which their present feelings are tepid at best, but it is not wise to place hope above reason. The Christian religion will survive; more specifically, the Catholic Church will continue to exist as a bastion of light and truth, but it is less than clear what role American believers will play in the upcoming scenes in salvation history.

The more I study the Church, the more I find kernals of wisdom she has deposited throughout the ages. I close with this gem from Augustine, whose words, composed some sixteen hundred years ago, are just as applicable to the Americans as they were to the citizens of Rome, to which Augustine gives mock voice.

"So long as it lasts," [the Romans] said, "so long as it enjoys material prosperity and the glory of victorious war, or better, the security of peace, why should we worry? What concerns us is that we should get richer all the time, to have enough for extravagant spending every day, enough to keep our inferiors in their place…It is a good thing to have the din of dancing everywhere, and theatres full of fevered shouts of degenerate pleasure and of every kind of cruel and degraded indulgence. Anyone who disapproves of this kind of happiness should rank as a public enemy..."

And so it goes; and so it goes.

Monday, May 15, 2006

The Price of Power

There is an oft repeated maxim that applies especially to the republican Party of today: Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.

Disgusted with the scandal-ridden Clinton presidency and his inept and illiberal governance, the republicans, hellbent on snatching executive control, nominated George W. Bush. They could have picked a genuine conservative—Steve Forbes comes to mind, as does Buchanan, who was so ungratefully snubbed in '96—but that would have risked offending moderate voters who, bereft of principles, sway with the wind. Winning was, in the words of Lombardi, the only thing.

The republicans achieved victory; but in their pursuit of the ring of power, the party became like the soulless wraiths. For the one ring of power can no more be used to defend Gondor than governmental authority can be wielded by modern republicans without manifesting itself in autocratic fashion. History will one day proclaim Bush as either a useful idiot or a willful participant in the destruction of the republic, but whether Bush was drawn to the power before or after his attainment thereof makes no difference. Once in possession of the ring, all shards of conservatism were displaced; Bush spent as Johnson could only dream; he marched further for the god Democracy than Wilson would have dared. The ring, it seemed, had a mind of its own.

As the facade of transformation was slowly being enacted, we, the remnant of believers, were told that September 11th necessitated urgent actions. Bush would return to conservatism in due time. The American people continued to give in to the demands of Bush, believing, or perhaps only hoping, that the seed of conservatism was planted deeply within their leader, and if given full power, he would be apt to use it more prudently and wisely. All but the most irascible of dissidents gave Bush the benefit of the doubt, and conservatives turned out en masse to re-elect their president.

With the defeat of John Kerry, Bush saw every branch of government in Republican control. Then a strange thing happened, or, more accurately and just as incredibly, things stayed exactly the same. No longer could the evil senate democrats take the blame for foiling the benevolent plans of Bush and his chums; with power comes responsibility, and with absolute power, excuses for inaction are as pitiful as the hapless opposition's pleas for mercy. Bush wasn't a conservative at all; in the words of Tolkien "they were all of them, deceived."

Bush is not doubt wishing he could take his wish back. The jig is up and even the most loyal sheep are becoming suspicious of their shepherd. Yet unlike poor Frodo, who was compelled to scale Mount Doom to destroy the wretched ring, Bush's salvation lies along an easier path. Most conservatives forgive easily enough, so long as the sins are of omission rather than commission. Bush's father lost because he reneged on his vow that there would be "no new taxes". Despite the younger Bush's failure to cut spending, his moderate tax cuts were enough to earn the favor of a majority in the electoral college. But the tax cuts are an old memory, as this year the fed collected the second most money of all time in taxes; and support is dwindling for a war which was never fought upon conservative principles to begin with and good news on the Iraq front continues to be slow in forthcoming.

Yet illegal immigration is a very important issue to many Americans, especially among what is still left of Bush's shrinking base. Tonight, Bush had a chance to win back the support of his base and ensure that, though they may take a much deserved pounding in the house and senate elections, his party would retain control in one or both houses. By taking a firm stance against illegal immigration and offering a proposal to abate the crisis, Bush could reclaim the moniker of conservative in the eyes of many of his constituents. Tonight, Bush blew it in a big way.

The issue is much more simple than it is purported to be. The reason illegal immigrants come to this country is not because they love baseball, freedom and apple pie. Baseball is booming regions southward; we're not nearly that free—though I suppose if one hails from a totalitarian realm, things seem not so bad in the USA—and apple pie, while delicious, has seldom tempted man to leave hearth and home. Illegals come here because it is profitable to do so. It is better to work here, earning wages Americans would never deign labor at, than to dwell in the wretched poverty from whence they came. Thus, if it is no longer profitable to move here, illegals will cease to move here. By the simple imposition of exorbitant fines upon those employing illegals, the incentive for hiring them will be relieved, and the unfortunate lawbreakers will soon find themselves without a source of income. So long as we can simultaneously prevent illegals from receiving welfare, many will migrate home all by themselves, rendering deportation extraneous.

Being a plutocrat, Bush did not crack down on his corporate friends. Instead, he offered platitudes, hoping to mollify his base without angering the more sizable part of the country which already fervently dislikes him and his policies. He failed to offer any real permanent solutions, although he did advocate more federal spending. The debt will grow, but the problem will not be solved—nor is it intended to be. The issue of illegal immigration will be vociferously debated until November, and neither party will budge. If legislation is enacted, representatives might be held culpable, and divisive stands make it tough to get re-elected. It's better to stick with spending money, for the children of course, and lavishly lace appropriations bills with pork.

To borrow another analogy from Tolkien, the neo-cons have the genuine conservatives under a deep spell, just as Wormtongue controlled the Theoden King. I have been waiting for a long time for my idealogical brethren to wake from their sleep, with or without the metaphorical Gandalf's help. Hope yet remains, but whether the conservatives rejoin the battle in time to prevent the death of the republic remains to be determined. The republicans have authored their own defeat by trading principle for power, and what they most fear is all but inevitable. The hours grow ever darker; a new shadow rises in the east; and the one ring of power shall soon pass to Hillary.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Perils of Browsing the Internet

By any stretch of imagination, Internet Explorer is a bad browser. Thus, I do most of my surfing with the aid of Firefox. I've been using Firefox for over a year now, and for the most part, I've been thoroughly impressed with it. For whatever reason, it has been behaving like IE lately, and has exploded on me three times in the last several days. I have lost what I am sure were mind blowingly brilliant blog entries on both occasions.

Thus, I have no piece on Mother's Day. Sorry Mom. I will, instead, leave my readers a link to a more thorough and more interesting attack of the nonsense behind The Da Vinci Code.

Drat Firefox, seriously. If it wasn't for tabulated browsing, I'd leave you. Is it weird that I talk to my browser?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Condemning the Code

Near as I can surmise, every American who has the capability to do so has read The Da Vinci Code. I have not. One of Dan Brown's previous novels, Deception Point, struck me as marginal, and I saw no reason to go out of my way to read mediocre fiction when my stack of books to be read was towering with writers that would put Brown to shame.

Earlier today, the large picture adorning the top of the Drudge Report displayed burning copies of Brown's controversial novel. According to Wikipedia, "Critics have attacked it as inaccurate, sacrilegious and poorly written and decry the many negative implications about the Catholic Church and Opus Dei." Thus, the book burns.

In his leading of the delighted reader through the Fall and Decline of the Roman Empire, Gibbon spends no small amount of time with the Emperor Constantine, who, as I understand it, played an instrumental role in the cover-up proclaimed by Brown. Yet, strangely, Gibbon does not mention the progeny of Jesus and Mary Magdalene at all. Since he viewed the Catholic Church as one of the principle culprits in the demise of the great empire, it is unconscionable that Gibbon would willingly commit such a careless oversight. The historian is skeptical of religious sentiment, especially that of the Christians, who were frequently either too hypocritical or too "superstitious" for his cynical mind.

Now, Brown obviously offers some explanation for how the conspiracy was brought to light, even if I have no idea what that explanation is. In all likelihood he exonerates the character of Gibbon, as the damning documentation was discovered some time in the last two hundred years, after the completion of Gibbon's work.

It never ceases to amaze me the outrageous explanations people will believe which belie Occam's razor. There are several possibilities as to the qualities of the person of Christ, and there are several alike for that of the Church. It is entirely possible that the Church has pulled the wool over the eyes of everyone. She may in fact be the vehicle of the greatest conspiracy of all time. But make no mistake about it, if the Church is not what she says she is—namely, the protector of the sacred Truth revealed by Christ—she is the most powerful and devious institution to grace this earth in hoodwinking so many billions of people over the last two thousand years. It seems far more plausible that the Church is exactly what she says she is, rather than some bizarre collection of ambitious scoundrels, hellbent on controlling the masses.

As an aside, I can't ever figure out how on earth the Church can be presumed to be so controlling. Only four percent of married American Catholics follow her teaching on contraception; the bishops refuse to withhold communion from politicians who support abortion—and yet find time to march for illegal aliens, which is more curious than unholy; most Catholics do not attend mass weekly, and fewer still receive the Sacrament worthily. Ironically, it is the remnant of orthodox Catholics which is now howling loudest in the Church, not for reform per se, but rather for a strict adherence to her doctrine and promulgation thereof. The hard-liners scream for more control and pastoral leadership, but the Vatican refuses to budge. Controlling indeed.

I've been trying to get riled up about Da Vinci. I know it's blatant heresy, but anyone who has studied the Church history knows that we've dealt with this thing before. The idea that the Church could last two thousand years only to be brought down by a mediocre novelist is laughable. The Church will rise again; people will be surprised as they always are; and in a short matter of time they will resurrect some new cadaver to lead their march new march which will assuredly destroy the Church.

Yet heresy should not be dealt with lightly. The pope at the time of the reformation was alerted to murmurs of discontent, but dismissed them as silly disputes amongst the monks. One of those monks was Martin Luther, and since that horrible day when he nailed his complaints—some legitimate, some not—to the Church door, the Church has been reeling from disunity. I do not see Brown having the same impact that Luther did, but he still has the power to shake the faith of some Christians.

Now, as I have already mentioned, anyone who knows anything about the Church and what she teaches, or about the history, specifically in regard to all the heretics she has had to condemn, can't find this latest assault my Brown much more than a nuisance. It calls to mind the story of the great doctor of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas, who once interrupted a large feast with an adamant fist to the table and a boisterous shout of, "And that will settle the Manichees!" St. Augustine had, of course, settled the Manichees hundreds of years previous, but heretics are notoriously bad with history, and were evidently unaware of this fact. St Thomas, patient man that he was, had found perhaps another way of “settling” the dissenters.

Unfortunately, however, most Catholic, and fewer Christians, know much about their faith, especially as it extends beyond selected passages in the Bible. It is our job to instruct, and to avoid contributing to this heresy by boycotting the film. The shepherds of the church have not been struck, but have instead played the coward, and the sheep will be scattered. Only one of very weak faith would buy into the nonsense of Mr. Brown, but in the spirit of Vatican II, we have handed out condoms and false doctrine in the stead of faith and knowledge.

Christ said that the path is wide that leads to destruction, and although we must fight to broaden the path and urge others to follow, we are all, ultimately left with free will. If Christ saw no problem in letting others choose damnation, neither shall we. But let us pray...

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Rape! (Just Kidding)

Once omnipresent, the Duke rape story is now nowhere to be found. This could merely be further evidence that the collective American attention span barely surpasses that of the goldfish. Alternatively, the priveleged white boys, once guilty as sin--or the secular equivalent thereof--now appear to be nothing more than victims of calumny, which is almost as shocking as the announcement from the revered tabloid that yet another celebrity marriage fell apart.

The day after the March 13 team party where a 27-year-old black woman claimed she was raped, Durham police told campus officers that "this will blow over," the report said. The woman initially told police she was raped by 20 white men, then said she was attacked by three, the report said.

Being a prospective engineer, I'm tolerably good at math. The number twenty is greater than the number three. We can glean one of several conclusions.

1) The accuser was in an altered state such that she mistook three men for nearly seven times that many. In this case, her testimony is unreliable. If a woman can't distinguish between twenty and three of an object that is, on average, six feet tall and one hundred ninety pounds--note, these numbers are made up; just pretend I work for the New York Times--she cannot be a worthy source of information in determining whether or not she was raped. The DNA tests have thus exonerated the men.

2) The accuser is lying outright. She was never raped, and is, in fact, only conjuring up a story because she can. Even when the men are acquitted, the apologists for this poor woman will see further evidence of privelege trumping the rights of the commoner. Oh the calamity of a jury which clings readily to facts, and uses the obvious lack thereof which coincide with the woman's allegations to return a just verdict.

When honesty is no longer honored, lying becomes permissible. When the reasons to lie are many, and the reasons to tell the truth, few, weak constitutions will find excuse to forgo the path of noblility. Since women who lie about rapes suffer few consequences, and reap the rewards that come with media exposure, women lie about rape, and will continue to do so. This is not to say that rape
never happens, of course, but when making up a story lands one a scholarship, well, you do the math.

On a related note, it seems we have another bogus rape claim--great name for a band, by the way.

A 13-year-old girl who told Zion police she was raped by seven boys in an apartment complex laundry room last month has recanted her original statement that she was forced to engage in the sexual activity.

See, abstinence doesn't work. Because, I mean, kids are going to have sex, you know. With multiple partners. In the same day.

We are in a strange stage culturally, where, despite valiant attempts by those opposed to traditional Judeo-Christian values, specifically in regard to the sexual ethic, something innate in people tells them that having gratuitous sex is not something of which to be proud. It is deemed less dishonorable to invent claims of rape than admit that one is, in fact, a dirty tramp or a misguided fool.

I for one will be estatic when we erase all this silly Christian guilt. In twenty years, this girl will be proud of having sex with seven boys, and the bogus claims can all go away. Ah, the sweet smell of cultural demise under the guise of liberation.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Health Nonsense

I realize that smoking is, at best, extraneous, and at worst "unhealthy". I'm not going to argue that inhaling tobacco is on a level with, say, ingesting vitamin C, but obsession with health has got to be one of the worst facets of American culture. Don't do anything unhealthy; it's imperative to live a sterile life until the ripe old age of eighty. Of course, if you refrain from doing unhealthy things, which pretty much leaves walking--indoors so as to avoid sunlight-- drinking water and eating, well, you can't eat too much of anything, so I guess you're boned, by the time you reach sixty you won't care for living any more.

There was an honest to goodness story last week about how eating too many steamed vegetables is bad for your teeth. Too much acid. We've officially lost it. Why study that in the first place? If someone is eating too many vegetables--whatever that means--first, they're nuts anyway. Most people have a healthy--yes, I said healthy--suspicion when it comes to vegetables. It's prudent to stomach your greens, and there are certainly ways to make getting those precious vitamins and minerals less painful, like dumping several ounces of Ranch on a leaf of lettuce, or tossing some mushrooms on a pizza, or, well, you get the idea. But vegetarians have a couple screws loose, attempting to subsist largely on vegetables.

The study proves two things, and no, it doesn't prove that vegetables are bad for you. This will be recanted in six months, guaranteed. For every study there is an equal an opposite study. That's the first thing we learned. I'm not saying there isn't truth involved when it comes to nutrutional matters. I just don't trust the "scientists" doing the studies. I'd say about 1 in 4 studies have validity, 1 in 4 are false, and half of them could be right and could be wrong, but no one has a clue either way. Yes, I just made that up, but so did they. At least no one had to grease my palm for that scientific survey.

The other point is that there is no way to be healthy enough. Near as I can figure, we are all organic, and as such, we will die and decay. I don't see the problem. Let's all make sure we get our vitamins and minerals in so to ensure we live forever--except we won't. Forget about health. Life is too short to fret over calories and other trivialities. You're going to die with or without that Oreo, and while the pipe tobacco is probably ticking precious seconds off of my life with each beautiful drag, I remain a convicted agnostic. No one has done a study on people who smoke a pipe twice a week for a year in their twenties. Of course, I wouldn't believe the results if they did, but in either case, I see no reason to sit about in a state of panic.

Tolkien and Chesterton smoked; that's good enough for me.

Monday, May 08, 2006

A Word on Socialism

Troutsky declares:

I am still prepared to argue that theoretical socialism, though it has never existed, is a preferable system on moral grounds and a likely next historical phase based on scientific reasons and am undeterred that this might be described as "utopian" thinking.

We must determine whether, in fact, socialism is a system preferable to capitalism on moral grounds. We must then determine whether an ideal system should be judged based on the theorized good it purports to bring or rather based on its fruit, even in a bastardized form.

First, is Socialism morally preferable? My morals are drawn from the Roman Catholic Church, which draws from both the Scriptures as well as Tradition. We go to the former first. In Acts 4:32, we read, “The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common.” This is taken as a nod to socialism as the favored form of government of the early church. Yet the next few verses are necessary for proper perspective.

“There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.” (Acts 4:35 and 36) The church did hold things in common, but the choice of what to sell was left to the individual believers, with the task of distribution falling to the disciples. Marx summarizes his economic philosophy as the abolition of private property. This is altogether different from that of the early church. If property was simply to be abolished, Peter would have seized everything and sold it himself. He did not. Willful participation is crucial to those who belong to the Kingdom. Further, this was done without the involvement of the government, and is far more akin to the distributism advocated by Belloc, Chesterton and others.

Since humans, being subjective creatures, are prone to pick and choose what they like best from Scripture, the Catholic Church vociferously defends the faith, and at times the Pope issues encyclicals to promulgate Catholic thought.

As a brief aside, the Church is often maligned for being behind the times. Those who prescribe to this nonsense would be surprised to learn the date of the famous encyclical, Rerum Novarum, On Capital and Labor: 1891. Those darn Catholics and being behind the times. But I digress.

Pope Leo XIII observes:

[S]ocialists... are striving to do away with private property, and contend that individual possessions should become the common property of all, to be administered by the State or by municipal bodies. They hold that by thus transferring property from private individuals to the community, the present mischievous state of things will be set to rights, inasmuch as each citizen will then get his fair share of whatever there is to enjoy. But their contentions are so clearly powerless to end the controversy that were they carried into effect the working man himself would be among the first to suffer. They are, moreover, emphatically unjust, for they would rob the lawful possessor, distort the functions of the State, and create utter confusion in the community.

The Vicar of Christ on earth not only utters the common criticism, namely that socialism is untenable, but, in fact, that it is unjust. He then explains why:

It is surely undeniable that, when a man engages in remunerative labor, the impelling reason and motive of his work is to obtain property, and thereafter to hold it as his very own... Socialists, therefore, by endeavoring to transfer the possessions of individuals to the community at large, strike at the interests of every wage-earner, since they would deprive him of the liberty of disposing of his wages, and thereby of all hope and possibility of increasing his resources and of bettering his condition in life.

What is of far greater moment, however, is the fact that the remedy they propose is manifestly against justice. For, every man has by nature the right to possess property as his own. This is one of the chief points of distinction between man and the animal creation... One of these instincts is self preservation, the other the propagation of the species. Both can attain their purpose by means of things which lie within range; beyond their verge the brute creation cannot go, for they are moved to action by their senses only, and in the special direction which these suggest... And on this very account - that man alone among the animal creation is endowed with reason - it must be within his right to possess things not merely for temporary and momentary use, as other living things do, but to have and to hold them in stable and permanent possession; he must have not only things that perish in the use, but those also which, though they have been reduced into use, continue for further use in after time.

I cannot but feel a bit ashamed at having to extract mere excerpts from what is a beautiful letter through and through, and an example of liberal, in the classic sense, Catholic thought. For the Pope then goes on to explain errors of capitalism, that, though not remediable by socialism, are yet to be corrected within the same system.

Now, we do not need to examine socialism's failings in practice since it has already been deemed insufficient in theory, at least to the Catholic, and hopefully to the Christian, who, though he might reject papal authority on all doctrinal matters, might still yield to good sense. It should be noted that the inability for socialism to reach fruition might be due, not to bad luck or poor circumstances, but bad theory in and of itself. To draw an analogy, I have designed many a play in my amateur career as a backyard quarterback. Some have been deemed, by yours truly, as worthy of the mind of Lombardi himself. And though it is possible that my brother's inability to seal the corner or adequately sell the fake bear the blame, it is perhaps more likely that my play-making prowess is more akin to Dennis Green than to the Packer legend.

Most important though, for the moment, is the issue of justice. If the Pope is mistaken, I have no doubt that Troutsky will alert me to his error. If his judgment is sound, we must think up and work on alternatives to socialism—such as distributism—which are not only more practical and implementable, but emphatically just. Until then, the inbred step-child of the free market will be tolerated, and improved where possible. The Christian should rest easy, for though things may be dire on this earth, a perfect and eternal system awaits those who put their faith, not in men or markets, but in Christ.

Hillary and Rupert Sitting in a Tree...

The Lizard Queen--do I need to thank Vox Day for his vivacious witicism every time?--slithers into position.

Rupert Murdoch has agreed to host a political fundraiser for Hillary Clinton this summer!

Drudge is surprised. I'm not. Murdoch will follow the money, whore that he is; if Fox News could boost ratings by making Greta go naked they would. Big Business is about making money, nothing else. Any idealogical purities are entirely coincidental. Plus, when it comes down to it, on what issues do Hillary and the "right-wing" Fox News really differ? I await your answers.

Technically, Murdoch is doing this on his own, which just shows how much of a conservative he really is. When the Queen takes her thrown, he wants to make sure his boys score interviews. Thus, the posturing.

Political powerbroker and studio head Harvey Weinstein is said to have convinced Hillary that Murdoch could be a friend, not a foe, in her ongoing political maneuvers.

Hillary has now cornered the NY media market, by winning support from the NEW YORK TIMES, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS owner Mort Zuckerman -- and now Murdoch and the NY POST.

But the people don't like her! If most people weren't malleable, this might hold some water. Since the capability to think rationally is no longer esteemed, the role of the press is enhanced, even amid falling ratings. Let's not forget that Hillary is a woman, and it's high time we had a lady--I use the term loosely--in charge. Never under-estimate the propensity for women to cling loyally to their ilk.

In two years I finish school. After paying off my debts, I may need to go away for awhile. I'll be taking suggestions for my adopted homeland. It might be more enjoyable to watch the collapse from without, rather than within.

Troutsky, I'll get a reply to you shortly. I was only signing on for a bit when I saw this and had to make an update. I've a Flannery O'Connor story to finish, after which I shall return.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Cable News

The good news is that my generation, appears to be turning off cable news, assuming we turned it on in the first place. The Daily Show and the Cobert Report notwithstanding--do they even count as news?--watchers of CNN and FOXNews are more likely to be sixty than sixteen, which shouldn't be all that surprising, but it none the less a reason to be pleased.

Seldom mentioned, however, is the fact that cable news is equally geriatric. Indeed, Fox News Channel and CNN are two of only three leading basic networks (the other being the Hallmark Channel) whose median viewer age is over 60. Headline News rings in next at 59.9, and MSNBC is still on the rickety side at 57.

This seems strangely akin to the church I attend while in the Twin Cities. And just as this doesn't bode well for Blessed Sacrament church, which recently closed the school after many years, one can't help but entertain the possibility that cable news will also cease to be in business. I shan't be long in mourning.

If you your news from television, you're doing yourself a tremendous diservice. Those who watch television boast brainwave activity analogous to being comatose, to say nothing of the fact that the news is less than newsworthy. Why do I care about Natalee Holloway? Why can't I rid myself of her name?

It is less clear whether 18-24 year olds are getting their news from alternative sources or whether MTV is all that is wanted to make of one a shallow consumerist whore. In any case, I see little good coming from endlessly observing the mutterings of lobotomy box, as Fred Reed dubs it, and being apathetic is probably better than feigning to be a responsible citizen. Those who watch FOXNews and CNN are unfortunately given suffrage, but those who watch MTV are less likely to use it. I would chalk this up as good news. The demise of O'Reilly cometh before too long.

Hope Springs Anew Amidst Decay

The inherent problem with accepting the lesser of two evils is that, something tolerated out of necessity is often construed as being advocated outright. To wit, the self-described conservatives support of Mr. Bush leads the masses to believe, not that Bush is more conservative than the alternative—a doubtful prospect in and of itself—but that Bush is in fact the champion of conservative ideals. Conservatives will have to reinvent themselves once again fairly soon, as the sinking ship that is the Bush presidency is showing no signs of righting itself—pun intended.

The other problem with tolerating a lesser evil is that so long as toleration is deemed acceptable, the evil will continue to increase, meandering further and further away from the supposed good. So long as the base is safely on board, the GOP will run the candidate most likely to capture votes from the mushy middle. The incentive to run to the right is removed; an unprincipled moderate would never support Buchanan; he would probably support McCain.

There is a corollary to this thought. Those who do not derive their sanction from principle, but instead support the most charismatic candidate are more prone to jump ship. The swing vote, by definition, swings back, and while the principled conservative will stand by his man who stands by his promises, in good weather and in bad, there is no reason for someone to show a similar loyalty when the loyalty was a matter of results in the first place.

It is a bit unwise to use the blogosphere to gage public opinion. Frustrated with the commoners who frivolously argue over which brand of evil and mediocrity to support, those who spend their time engaged in conversation over genuine differences of opinion tend to be vociferous, if sometimes tactful, radical members of both the far right and left. There are some blogs devoted to Bush apologetics, but they are few and far between. It is very difficult to engage readers in thinking when the one who is trying to engage is not thinking himself.

This being said, there appears to be a tremor in the force of the political spectrum. Having been hoodwinked and coming to this realization, rash promises are being made by conservatives that, this time, the deception has gone too far. With an election looming in November, it will be interesting to see whether these rash promises are, in fact, kept. My gut instinct tells me that though some will stay home, the absence of third party candidates in most House and Senate elections will see voters yet again casting their votes to the lesser of two evils, if somewhat begrudgingly this time around.

Despite Bush's optimism, the sheer amount of election speculation is a sure sign of how bad things are going for him. Hillary's name has been whispered, often; many, including myself have already predicted her ascendancy to the thrown, and it is not yet six years into Bush's reign. With an abysmally low approval rating, it is clear that most citizens are ready for Bush's presidency to see a merciful end, and even the most infernal optimist cannot spell but bad news for the remainder of the course for President Bush. I do not recall such virulence accompanying the end of Clinton's term, at least until after the sex scandal, which happened a bit later, comparatively, during the Clinton presidency. At least the circus that accompanied the charges of marital infidelity and perjury kept the American public insensibly entertained, and while the right erupted in indignation, by then the end of the Clinton legacy was in sight, or so it seemed.

We have not suffered any genuine scandals during the Bush presidency, and unless the Democrats capture the House and/or Senate, the allegations of dishonesty will be left for the history books. With control of one or both houses of the bicameral legislature, the last two years under the second Bush will be a circus of substantial proportions, making the Ken Starr proceedings look like a dull episode of Oprah—redundancy, I know. One has little doubt that the Democrats will try to impeach Bush, even if it is less certain what the charges will be. It will be interesting to see whether the GOP party hacks—Limbaugh, Hannity, etc.—stand by their man or try to distance themselves in an attempt at damage control. Believe it or not, there was a time when Rush had principles, as a perusal of either one of his books will demonstrate. He's not a very good writer, but that's beside the point. His defense of conservative thought is important, and one cannot but hope that the man who did so much for both conservatism and talk radio in this country can yet again emerge as a less than pejorative force.

Time reveals all. One thing is clear. A toleration of the lesser of two evils has had no good affect upon the country, at least from a conservative perspective. We are no closer to shrinking the size and invasiveness of the federal government than when Clinton left office, and it is all but impossible to argue that Bush has not contributed to the problem he was ostensibly elected to abrogate. Worse still, the election of the neo-conservative Bush has not paved the way for a genuinely conservative candidate, as only a fool would expect it to. It is curious to advocate taking three steps back that we might march forward four, and though illogical, it could perhaps be accepted were it to show evidence of working. It has not, and we find ourselves in the peculiar position of being worse off than we started, and being implored to not abandon the man who is moving us backwards for fear the someone else would move us backwards. It is infeasible to become passionately engaged over the degree one marches, when the direction is altogether wrong, and conservatives are, one hopes, mandating that our leaders turn themselves around and march forward.

It is always difficult for a man to admit he is wrong, especially when his deceitful minions have been whispering to him of the righteousness of his cause for six years. Though a return to genuine conservatism would earn Bush a small measure of gratitude among authentic partisans of the right, this seems a small prize to win in exchange for the chastisement he will merit for a massive capitulation on the principles of neo-conservatism. The one praise Bush has consistently earned is that he is principled, and while one wishes these were more in line with those of Reagan, Eisenhower and Goldwater, and though the fruit of this consistency has been consistently rotten, the howls from the remnant of true believers will be almost unbearable. The neo-cons have hijacked the conservative movement, and they will not easily surrender the castle. Further, this postulation depends on a fallacy. Anyone who has studied Bush knows he has never subscribed to conservatism, and while one can reserve a modest hope for a reversion to previous thought, it is more despairing to wish for an Augustine-like conversion.

Patience has long been a staple of those on the right, if only in theory. To quote Jefferson, “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” Knowing this, victories for supporters of limited government come infrequently. Since its inception, the republic has been sowing the seeds of its demise; it now reaps its fruits, and while we can yet attempt to save her from the justice she so deserves, ultimately her fate is sealed. While fighting as we can, where we may, we more eagerly await the chance to, in the words of Paine, “begin the world over again.”

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Catholic Spirit Editorial That Wasn't

About two months ago, my mom alerted me to an editorial contest at The Catholic Spirit, the weekly publication of the Arch-Diocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. I think. I rarely read it, but since I write essays for fun, I decided to send one in. I wasn't sure of what to write about, and eventually decided to argue that democracy is not intrinsically good, at least for the Catholic. I wasn't certain I had a shot at winning, for two reasons. First, I wasn't all that satisfied with the result—this is a reoccurring theme—and second, attacking democracy wasn't the best subject for a paper that is notoriously soft on, well, everything.

Well, I didn't win. I'll let the reader decide for himself whether or not I deserve the cruel crown of defeat or whether I was snubbed. I wouldn't have minded if the other editorials were interesting, but they weren't. The contest was divided into two categories: high school and college. The high schooler wrote a delusional, if we only spent more money to help poor people life would be fine, piece, the type adored by liberal Catholics. Poverty is a distribution problem and it always will be; it does no good to give more federal aid when the leaders of these corrupt countries keep the money or squander it in tangles of bureaucracy. But I'm not in high school, so I digress.

The college fellow wrote a piece attacking racism. How brave. Of course, using the Arch-Bishop as a reference helps. I don't know why we even talk about racism any more. Racism is bad; I think I've got it. Let's move on.

The genuinely annoying thing, however, was not losing to someone who defeated the defenseless enemy of racism. The thing that irks me is that no second and third places were awarded for the college level. Evidently my editorial was too poorly written to be published. The alternative explanation is that I stepped on some toes. The way I see it, an editorial should be incendiary. As a commentator, nothing bothers me more than reading an "opinion"piece that doesn't produce any effect upon me. What's the point of writing about something everyone agrees on?

Okay, enough babble. I'll let the reader judge for himself.

“Far from being a hopeless dream, the advance of freedom is the great story of our time. In 1945, there were about two dozen lonely democracies on Earth. Today, there are 122,” noted President George W. Bush. It may seem strange to say, but Bush is actually a Democrat; not in the sense that he belongs to that particular party, but in an altogether older and more genuine sense of the word. He firmly believes in the good of democracy. Churchill famously intoned that “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others that have thus been tried.” Bush's stance is much stronger: the march of democracy brings freedom.

Yet freedom, in modern parlance, means the ability to do whatever one wishes. Without getting hung up on semantical considerations, the freedom to commit sin is not to be sought; the only freedom which should concern the Christian is that which leads one closer to Christ including the freedom to worship him and follow his law. In light of recent events in the democratic world—from the election of Hamas in Palestine, to the fretful state of affairs for Christians in Iraq and Afghanistan—it is good to examine the purported link between democracy and the Christian conception of freedom.

As G.K. Chesterton notes, “Nine out of ten of what we call new ideas are simply old mistakes.” Stepping back to the Enlightenment, we immediately find evidence of a crowd which cherished democracy. An enlightened fellow named Thomas Paine was a more sincere Democrat—in the classic sense—than even President Bush. Despite his slighting in the history books, his writings provided much of the inspiration for the American Revolution.

In Common Sense, Paine speaks none to kindly of kings: “It is the pride of kings which throw mankind into confusion.” Paine observed that kings were corrupt, which was assuredly true. He then postulated that since a kings were corrupt, it would be much better if the people were given a share in the rule. This is again true, in the sense that if a king was truly corrupt, it would be very surprising if the people could not manage to do a better job than the dethroned monarch.

But only for a time. History has shown that just as a king may behave beastly, so too may the people or their respected representatives. There is a tendency for leaders to corrupt, but it is irrelevant whether they are kingly or simply human. Adam and Eve had no political affiliation of which I am aware, and yet they still managed to get expelled from the garden. This is all nothing more than an application the Church's doctrine of original sin.

A simple sampling of history will show a surprising tendency among democratic regimes to collapse. Surprising, perhaps, to the devout Democrat, but certainly not to the convicted Catholic. This all seems to bode very poorly for democracy, but my final and most important point is this: no system of government will always protect liberty. A particular system of government must be weighed according to its manifestations, and whether or not they conform to Catholic teaching; as Christ put it, “By their fruits you shall know them.”

It is difficult then, to see why a Christian must be a sincere believer in democracy. Recently, a converted Christian named Abdul Rahman narrowly escaped martyrdom in democratic Afghanistan. One wonders why we should focus on spreading the light of democracy when it is a different Light which makes man free.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Libertarian Temptation

If I may be so bold, I'd wager I've got things pretty well near figured out. And while twenty years may as yet see me a Marxist, marching with Troutsky, I'm deem the prospect unlikely. I have no aversion to change, but at this juncture I'm content with a blend of Roman Catholicism and a slightly bastardized version of libertarianism for philosophical guidance. It has served me well.

There are advantages to having things figured out. Day in and day out I see things that confirm that I am, in fact, correct, or nearly so, when it comes to most of life's larger questions. To steal a quip from Chesterton: "At least six times during the last few years, I have found myself in a situation in which I should certainly have become a Catholic, if I had not been restrained from that rash step by the fortunate accident that I was one already." Catholic works there, but substituting libertarian, small "l", and things work out just as splendidly, probably even better.

Still, there are times when I feel like the genuinely convicted atheist must. Agnosticism I understand, but atheism seems hasty, even if it is more courageous. I understand questioning the supposed goodness, and even the existence of a higher deity. Where I get hung up is in becoming absolutely sure of something which can never be proven. It probably makes one very proud to have finally whittled away at the conundrum we call existence and concluded, like Nitschke, that God is dead. This lasts for--I'm just guessing here--about five minutes until the sudden realization brings dread and, in all likelihood, an audible profanity. No God. F$@&! Now what?

Nitschke did the sensible thing and went mad. Sartes says that "life begins on the other side of despair." Huh?

The same thing happens to the libertarian now and again, though certainly to a lesser extent. It's amusing to explain just why we are royally dinked. Being the next Roman Empire is exciting, but I reckon it's going to be a big downer, too. Fifty years from now, I get to say, "See, I told you," quite smug-like. And then, in a less sanguine moment, the governmental authorities will escort the masses--or at least jerks like myself--to slave labor camps for a little exercise.

This malaise hits me every so often; at least it keeps my ego in check. I haven't pegged the exact reason for these bouts of, neither depression nor despair, but something akin to a righteous indignation tempered by a slight sadness. I figure my head has a massive queue inside somewhere, and the programmers don't have all the bugs worked out in the archiving process. Every so often the queue fills up and the system crashes.

Anyway, the data entry that caused a overflow error--to pen a metaphor--was this little guy. It's a short story, so I'll just paste it in its entirety.

Drivers in the city of Detroit will have to end their calls, as a cell phone ban has been approved. The Detroit City Council passed a cell phone ban for the city of Detroit on Wednesday. Council voted 8 - 1, with Sheila Cockrel as the only opposing vote. Council members said drivers could still use hands-free phones. Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick must also approve the ban.Violators can be ticketed and fined.

Now I realize, in the grand scheme of things, there are much bigger fish to fry. This is just a little sunfish, hardly worth the trouble of dirtying the knife. I think the thing that got me was the lone vote of opposition. Nine men and women, elected, which is to say sanctioned, by the good people of Detroit. Eight of them--eight--see no problem with prohibiting adults from making a call on a cell phone while driving.

Now I realize driving and dialing is probably not a behavior that should be engaged in casually. Some attention is required to multi-task successfully. Certainly there are people who should be prevented from making phone calls while driving, as they shouldn't be allowed to pilot a large and rapidly moving vehicle under any circumstances.

If we play the reduction ad absurdum game, I don't know what will be legal in twenty years. I really don't. Neither owning a cell phone nor living near Detroit, this doesn't effect me. Yet it does. The masses, surrendering yet again a frivolous freedom for the promise of safety, will make it all the more easy for Mother Government to take away liberty again and again until, dash it all, we've no more liberty to give. Of course, if we're safe, who cares. Yes, this is the actual defense, and no, I can't explain it.

The frivolous freedoms are the ones really worth fighting for. A man who lights up a cigarette and urinates on his back lawn knows who the earth belongs to, and no, the answer is not Uncle Sam. I don't know if talking on the cell phone while driving is likewise liberating, but I do know that handing over freedom squelches the spirit and eats at the soul.

Enjoy things while you can, I guess.