Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day PPS

On a less happy note, Dennis Prager had a piece last week on the worldwide moral decline, complete with a sad but utterly convincing catalog of examples, among them this:
Europe long ago gave up fighting for or believing in anything other than living a life with as much economic security, as many days off, and as young a retirement age as possible. World War I killed off European idealism; whatever remained was destroyed by World War II. What I have written about the Germans is true for nearly all of Europe: Instead of learning to fight evil, Europe has learned that fighting is evil.

Other consequences of European secularism and the demise of non-materialistic ideals there include a low birth rate (children cost money and limit the number of fine restaurants in which one can afford to dine) and appeasement of evil. Thus most European nations are slowly disappearing and nearly every European country has compromised Western liberties in order to appease radical Muslims.
Meanwhile, the round-up of news this Memorial Day weekend confirms again that the universality of Original Sin remains Christianity's most empirically demonstrable doctrine. Edmund Burke's corollary, that: "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing," is, I'm afraid, one that will soon be made all too clear to us.

Part of remembering is recognizing what we have lost and how we have betrayed those, as Dante put it, who will look on these as the ancient times -- the moments when decisions were made or evaded, decisions which will very significantly determine the kind of world in which our children's children will live.

Memorial Day PS

Inasmuch as remembering those we have loved and lost -- and to whom we owe so much -- is a sign of spiritual and cultural health, I am happy report that the biggest traffic jam in Worcester, Massachusetts today was at the cemetery where Liz is buried.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Remembering . . .

Gilbert Hunt Bailie
Killed in the Battle of the Bulge
January 7, 1945

I visited the cemetery in Belgium where my father's body was buried for three years, until it could be returned to the United States. It was in a vast sea of crosses -- and an occasional star of David -- for as far as one could see. From reading my father's letters to my mother, it is clear that these were young men who instinctively knew that the challenge they faced with precisely the preservation of civilization.

He attended Mass on the morning of his death, something that gave my mother great consolation.

We own men of his generation a great debt.

For Trinity Sunday

"... the true Christian ... is a puzzle to the psychoanalyst. ... [T]he key to understanding is buried deeply in the mystery of the Trinity and the Incarnation." -- Hans Urs von Balthasar

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Fr. Vincent's Ordination

Brother Vincent of St. Joseph's Abbey was ordained today by Bishop Robert McManus. Father Vincent will be a very fine priest, joining a community blessed with some of the finest priests and brothers one can imagine.

It was a privilege to share in the celebration.

Don't be fooled by the bottled water and coffee cups.
The wine was flowing.
Please keep Fr. Vincent in your prayers.

It is always paradoxical

"Being a Christian is hard. The Christian cannot copy Christ because he is unique, but he should nevertheless follow him. This will give him confidence to live the paradox of being a child as well as a mature adult, 'remaining humble, while knowing that he is one who is sent,' and, yes, of being both father and brother." -- Hans Urs von Balthasar

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Faith Leads to Knowledge

"... it was my work that oriented me towards Christianity and convinced me of its truth. It is not because I'm a Christian that I think as I do; it is because of my research that I became a Christian. I also question the distinction between an intellectual and an emotional conversion. As for St. Paul, the word 'spirit', for me, includes the emotional and the intellectual side of a human being; and rather than 'intellectual', the expression 'the life of the mind' should be used in this instance. Conversion is a form of intelligence, of understanding." -- René Girard

Monday, May 24, 2010

Cultural coherence . . .

"The historical task of culture is always and everywhere the same: the creation of a world in which its inhabitants may find themselves at home and yet accommodate the stranger without yielding their habitus to him." -- Philip Rieff

Friday, May 21, 2010

Thanks for all the kind words and prayers

Thanks to everyone who wished us well and kept us in your thoughts and prayers on May 8th. We are slowly returning to something resembling ordinary life. Here are some photos from the luncheon following our wedding.

Gil hamming it up and teasing Kathleen

Gil Toasting Kathleen
(To make up for the teasing)

Saying goodbye to our friends

Saturday, May 08, 2010

With hearts full of gratitude . . .

Kathleen and Gil
Today we exchange our wedding vows.
St. Francis Solano Catholic Church
Sonoma, California

"The Holy Spirit," wrote Romano Guardini, "carries holy life to man, lifting him back to the pristine purity of beginning."
This may at first sound like pious fancy. But in human existence there is an allegory for it: love. Take for example a man of a specific nature, occupation, environment, who has reached maturity within a specific set of conditions. For him all these things belong together, forming a unit, himself; all other people are another unit, ‘the others,’ who live ‘over there.’ Our man may be considerate, friendly, neighborly, but unconsciously he will always draw a line between himself and them: I, mine – as distinct from you, yours; them, theirs. But when he falls in love something astonishing occurs. The I-not-you, mine-not-thine barrier begins to dissolve. Now no particular virtue or effort is necessary to join the beloved; he is already ‘there.’ What is his suddenly belongs to the other, and what affects the other suddenly touches him, for a new unit has been created. It has not been superficially tied, nor has it come into being by a mixing or blending of the two; it was born, and its name is love. Something similar, however divinely different, happens between man and God, though here it is the love of God himself which is active, the Holy Spirit.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Well-lived Lives . . .

My aunt Martha and her husband Andy
Two of the kindest, most joyful and loving people I have ever know, Martha and Andy were drowned in their Nashville home in last week's flash floods. Please keep them in your prayers.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Why Would Anyone Want to Blow Up Times Square?

Asks Daniel Pipes, whereupon he provides a depressing litany of predictable prattle by those who fear giving credence to non-liberals more than they fear those determined to wipe out the last vestiges of classical liberalism.
When news comes of Muslims engaging in violence, politicians, law enforcement, and the media invariably presume that the perpetrator suffers from some mental or emotional incapacity. (For a quick listing of examples, see my collection at “Sudden Jihad or ‘Inordinate Stress’ at Ft. Hood?”)

Instead, they should begin with a presumption of jihadi intent. That is, the default expectation should be ideological passion, not insanity. Spreading Islam and applying Islamic law are the goals. Of course, some insane Muslims exist and they do engage in violence, but they constitute a microscopic percentage of the 15,247 Muslim terrorist incidents since 9/11, as counted here.
The failed effort to blow up an SUV in New York’s Times Square prompted speculation about the would-be bomber’s motives even before the identity of Faisal Shahzad, an immigrant from Pakistan, had been made public. The Nation’s Robert Dreyfuss discounted the possibility of a jihadi from the Pakistan-based Taliban: “It seems far more likely to me [he] was either a lone nut job or a member of some squirrely branch of the Tea Party, anti-government far right.”

Then, just hours after Shahzad had been arrested, authorities rushed to assure the public his action had nothing to do with Islam. Examples from May 4:

· Mike Bloomberg, mayor of New York City: The bomb could have been placed by “somebody with a political agenda who doesn’t like the health care bill or something. It could be anything.”

· Mahkdoom Qureshi, Pakistan’s foreign minister: “This is a blow back [for U.S. military activities in Pakistan]. This is a reaction. This is retaliation. And you could expect that. Let’s not be naive. They’re not going to sort of sit and welcome you eliminate them. They’re going to fight back.”

· Nadeem Haider Kiani, spokesman for the Pakistani embassy in Washington: It’s too soon to tell exactly what motivated the bomber, but early indications suggest he is “a disturbed individual.”

· Cable News Network: “It can confirmed that his house has been foreclosed in recent years. I mean, one would have to imagine that brought a lot of pressure and a lot of heartache on that family.”

· CBS News: “It isn’t clear if more suspects are at large or what the motive could be.”

· The Washington Post: Under the title, “The economic crisis meets terrorism,” Ezra Klein notes that Shahzad’s house was foreclosed and comments: “This guy is like string theory for the media: He brings together the seemingly incompatible stories that drove the past decade. That said, you of course don’t want to speculate on why someone ‘really’ did something. The hearts of men are opaque, and motives are complex.”

And here’s a collection from today’s papers:

· Law enforcement (as reported by NY1): “Investigators say they still have no motive for Shahzad’s actions.” (May 5, 2010)

· Kifyat Ali, a relative of Shahzad’s: “We are shocked. He had no connection with any political party or jihadi group.” (May 5, 2010)

· Associated Press headline: “NY car bomb suspect cooperates, but motive mystery.” (May 5, 2010)

· Associated Press story: “Federal officials aren’t talking about a motive in the arrest of a naturalized U.S. citizen charged with attempting to set off a bomb in New York’s Times Square.” (May 5, 2010)

· New York Post “exclusive”: Shahzad “said he was driven to evil by the slew of deaths among leaders of the terror group, law-enforcement sources revealed yesterday. Sources said he was an eyewitness to the onslaught throughout the eight months he spent in Pakistan beginning last summer.” (May 5, 2010)

· USA Today headline: “Motive of NYC car bomb suspect remains a mystery.” (May 5, 2010)

· The Guardian headline: “Times Square bomb: Pakistanis puzzled by bomber’s motives.” (May 5, 2010)

1. Some of these interpretations say the motives are mysterious, some of them speculate about one thing or another — but all assiduously avoid the elephant in the room.
2. You can’t win a war if you don’t have the courage to name the enemy.

3. Naming the enemy means changing some of the more pleasant aspects of Western life, and so is tough to do.

4. I expect that naming the enemy will occur only after a cataclysm ends our patience with minced words.
Is it any wonder that people have abandoned the old media and the commentariat it turns to for this kind of analysis?

Source: National Review Online: The Corner

The Vine and the Branches . . .

Today's gospel reading has weighty civilizational implications:
Jesus said to his disciples:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.
Remain in me, as I remain in you.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
will be thrown out like a branch and wither;
people will gather them and throw them into a fire
and they will be burned.
"Without me you can do nothing." The thinly disguised nihilism that passes for secular sophistication today is precisely that nothingness, awaiting the inadvertent spark or the terrorist's torch. The greater the culture's historical dependency on Christianity, the greater the price for abandoning it. It will go easier for Sodom and Gomorrah than for a formerly Christianized civilization that has turned itself into an effete and sanctimonious facsimile of Sodom and Gomorrah.

The pruning by Truth (incarnate) of the rank growth of self-will and self-delusion is infinitely preferable to the only alternative to it: the conflagration that the children of the self-deluded will otherwise undergo. But nothing is more antithetical to the spirit of the age than the very idea of pruning.

Another great piece by Thomas Sowell

In which he says:
Recent stories out of both Philadelphia and San Francisco tell of black students’ beating up Asian-American students. This is especially painful for those who expected that the election of Barack Obama would mark the beginning of a post-racial America.

While Obama’s winning majorities in overwhelmingly white states suggests that many Americans are ready to move beyond race, it is painfully clear that others are not.

Those who explain racial antagonisms on rational bases will have a hard time demonstrating how Asian Americans have made blacks worse off. Certainly none of the historic wrongs done to blacks was done by the small Asian-American population; for most of their history in this country, they have not had enough clout to prevent themselves from being discriminated against.

While ugly racial or ethnic conflicts can seldom be explained by rational economic or other self-interest, they have been too common to be just inexplicable oddities — whether in America or in other countries around the world, and whether today or in centuries past.

Resentments and hostility toward people with higher achievements are one of the most widespread of human failings. Resentments of achievements are more deadly than envy of wealth.

The hatred of people who started at the bottom and worked their way up has far exceeded hostility toward those who were simply born into wealth. None of the sultans who inherited extraordinary fortunes in Malaysia has been hated like the Chinese, who arrived there destitute and rose by their own efforts.

Inheritors of the Rockefeller fortune have been elected as popular governors in three states, attracting nothing like the hostility toward the Jewish immigrants who rose from poverty on Manhattan’s Lower East Side to prosperity in a variety of fields.

Others who started at the bottom and rose to prosperity — the Lebanese in West Africa, the Indians in Fiji, and the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, for example — have likewise been hated for their achievements. Being born a sultan or a Rockefeller is not an achievement.

Achievements are a reflection on others who may have had similar, and sometimes better, chances but who did not make the most of their chances. Achievements are like a slap across the face to those who are not achieving, and many people react with the same kind of anger that such an insult would provoke.
Rene Girard has shown us how mimetic desire produces such envy and resentment, but politicians (sadly) have shown us how easily it can be exploited in ways that seem to be sympathetic to the less fortunate, but which ultimately condemn them to permanent disadvantage.

Sowell's whole piece is here.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Melanie Phillips weighs in . . .

The British boot stamping
on the face of Christian belief

Terrifying as this may seem, the attempt to stamp out Christianity in Britain appears to be gathering pace.

Dale McAlpine was preaching to shoppers in Workington, Cumbria, that homosexuality is a sin when he found himself carted off by the police, locked up in a cell for seven hours and charged with using abusive or insulting words or behaviour.

It appears that two police community support officers — at least one of whom was gay — claimed he had caused distress to themselves and members of the public.

Under our anti-discrimination laws, such distress is not to be permitted. And so we have the oppressive and sinister situation where a gentle, unaggressive Christian is arrested and charged simply for preaching Christian principles.

It would appear that Christianity, the normative faith of this country on which its morality, values and civilisation are based, is effectively being turned into a crime.

Surreally, this intolerant denial of freedom is being perpetrated under the rubric of promoting tolerance and equality — but only towards approved groups.

Never has George Orwell’s famous satirical observation, that some people are more equal than others, appeared more true. 

Robert Spencer Interview - Part 3

Robert Spencer - Part 3
- Watch more Videos at Vodpod.

Monday, May 03, 2010

My Granddaughter . . .

Ana and Mike's first child

You can't make this stuff up ...

Go here.

Science? Who needs it?

This is the image on the masthead of the student newspaper.
Appropriate enough.

This from the campus newspaper at Oklahoma State University:
Tuesday, the Oklahoma Senate succeeded in overriding Gov. Brad Henry’s veto of two pieces of landmark legislation, one day after the House did the same. The bills became law immediately.

The controversial House Bill 2780 has garnered national attention, requiring that women seeking abortions undergo an ultrasound at least one hour prior to the procedure. The bill also requires that the healthcare provider describe fetal development as evidenced by the ultrasound, including discussing the heart beat and the presence of limbs or organs.

The woman or her family can sue any physician who doesn’t comply with these requirements. The physician would face fines up to $100,000 and would be legally barred from performing abortions in the future.

Women are not required to look at the ultrasound image, and cases in which abortion is necessitated by medical emergency are exempted from these requirements.

The Center for Reproductive Rights immediately filed a lawsuit in Oklahoma County District Court, calling this one of the nation’s strictest anti-abortion measures.
Informed consent. Remember that? Science not religion. Remember that?

Robert Spencer Interview - Part 2

Robert Spencer - Part 2
- Watch more Videos at Vodpod.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

European Suicide . . .

The European Crisis continues to deepen. Blinded by a multicultural mythology, dogmatic secularists are sawing off the Christian limb on which they have been sitting. At least Rowan Williams' predecessor retains a clear head.

LifeSiteNews reports:
The clash between Christians and the state has intensified, with a UK court now having upheld the dismissal of a Christian psychologist who refused to give advice on sexual intimacy to homosexual couples - a decision the former Canterbury Archbishop Lord Carey has denounced as a prelude to “civil unrest” between Christians and the secular government.
Gary McFarlane, 48, a Bristol solicitor, father of two, and evangelical Christian, had worked part-time as a psychological counselor with Relate for five years, during which time he even gave advice to homosexual couples working out basic relationship problems. However, he was sacked from his job in 2008 when he qualified as a psychosexual counselor, because he said he could not give advice in homosexual intimacy as this violated his conscience and beliefs. . . .

The disenfranchisement of Christians in the United Kingdom continues apace under the anti-discrimination laws introduced by Labour. In the past several years numerous reports of Christians losing their jobs or even being arrested simply for expressing their Christian moral views have surfaced – events that appear shocking in light of the 70th anniversary this year of Winston Churchill’s famous “Finest Hour” speech from the Second World War.

The famed British Prime Minister had rallied the British people on the eve of the Battle of Britain in June 1940 saying, “upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization.” He warned that if they failed, “all that we have known and cared for will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.”
Watching Europe commit cultural suicide is one of the saddest and most ominous experiences of our time.

"No enemies on the left"

The old motto seems to be holding.

The pompom media has been frantic in alerting us to the danger posed by all those potentially violent tea-party protesters and almost silent on past and present "protests" of the left which make the tea-party crowd look like your average citizen -- which, it turns out, is what they are.

Here's the lede for the San Jose Mercury News about last night's May Day protest-riot in Santa Cruz:
A large group of protesters demonstrating at a May Day rally for worker's and immigrant rights downtown broke off into a riot vandalizing about a dozen businesses around 10:30 p.m. Saturday, police said.

Many in the group were carrying makeshift torches as they marched, breaking storefront windows and writing "anarchist graffiti" on buildings, according to Capt. Steve Clark. Many businesses sustained multiple broken windows including very large storefront windows at Urban Outfitters and The Rittenhouse building. Police believe at least 15 businesses suffered damage.

The violence was initiated from a group holding a rally at the town clock for May Day. Windows at Jamba Juice and Velvet Underground were left shattered and graffiti including anarchy signs were tagged onto buildings.

Because of the size and violent demeanor of the crowd, Santa Cruz police asked for help from all agencies in the county to break up the riot. At one point, protesters lit a fire on the porch of Caffe Pergolesi and blocked access to firefighters, officers said. Police were able to clear out the demonstrators before more damage was caused.
Here's a look:

Anybody on the official press bus notice things like this? There are -- and have been -- loads of them. And they're met with relative -- and from many: total -- silence. "Over here! over here! ... (these people with their American flags and their folding lawn chairs) -- we'd better be wary of them!"

Hat Tip: Gateway Pundit

Robert Spencer Interview - Part 1

The Spiritual, Civilizational Challenge ...

Robert Spencer Interview - Part 1
- Watch more Videos at Vodpod.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

A Palate Cleanser . . .

You can infantilize some of the people all the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can't infantilize all the people all the time.

Manning one's station . . .

"If there were nothing original in my work there would remain only the passion with which it hands on what it has received, because it is unknown to so many, and the assignment to do this for the missions one is given, more than one's talent, are what individuate the Christian." -- Hans Urs von Balthasar

Visualizing the Numbers

My friend Jill Fallon at Business of Life passes this video along: