Tuesday, February 28, 2006

All is Whiggery Now

Every group regarding itself as emancipated is convinced that its predecessors were fearful of reality. It looks upon euphemisms and all the veils of decency with which things were previously draped as obstructions which it, with superior wisdom and praiseworthy courage, will now strip away. Imagination and indirection it identifies with obscurantism; the mediate is an enemy to freedom. One can see this in even a brief lapse of time; how the man of today looks with derision upon the prohibitions of the 1890's and supposes that the violation of them has been without penalty!
Richard Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences

Sunday, February 26, 2006

A Notable Local Artist

The Arvada Center has a exhibit of the rather intriguing work of pastel artist Riva Sweetrocket.

Surrealist yet accessible, she's one of the better recent artists I've seen on display. "The Power of Thought," depicting fighting doves where a woman's head should be, captures nicely the mental conflict of everyday life. The piece "Steak Out" I took to have been inspired by various womens' magazines, an interpretation surprisingly close to the artist's intent.

Her other pieces are certainly worth browsing.

Friday, February 24, 2006

America the Imaginary?

Americans cannot laugh at their "culture" because they do not quite know what it is. They laugh at themselves as individuals, but cannot laugh at themselves as a people. One cannot laugh at what one cannot define, and definition is the essence of humor; it is the flash of unexpected recognition that evokes laughter. In post-modern usage, humor is essentialist, or to say the same thing, post-modernism is humorless.

[...]

America cannot understand the culture of other nations, because it has no culture of its own.

"Spengler," Asia Times

Lust, Greed, Politics

The "Crunchy Conservative" weblog is a worthy endeavor briefly returning National Review to its old habits of philosophical discussions. Rod Dreher references a Wendell Berry quotation nicely capturing our political game of Perpetual Whack-a-Mole:

The conventional public opposition of “liberal” and “conservatives” is, here as elsewhere, perfectly useless. The “conservatives” promote the family as a sort of public icon, but they will not promote the economic integrity of the household or the community, which are the mainstays of family life. Under the sponsorship of “conservative” presidencies, the economy of the modern household, which once required the father to work away from home – a development that was bad enough – now requires the mother to work away from home, as well. And this development has the wholehearted endorsement of “liberals,” who see the mother thus forced to spend her days away from her home and children as “liberated” – though nobody has yet sent he fathers thus forced away as “liberated.” Some feminists are thus in the curious position of opposing the mistreatment of women and yet advocating their participation in an economy in which everything is mistreated.

The “conservatives” more or less attack homosexuality, abortion and pornography, and the “liberals” more or less defend them. Neither party will oppose sexual promiscuity. The “liberals” will not oppose promiscuity because they do not wish to appear intolerant of “individual liberty.” The “conservatives” will not oppose promiscuity because sexual discipline would reduce the profits of corporations, which in their advertisements and entertainments encourage sexual self-indulgence as a way of selling merchandise.

The public discussion of sexual issues has thus degenerated into a poor attempt to equivocate between private lusts and public emergencies. Nowhere in public life (that is, in the public life that counts: the discussions of political and corporate leaders) is there an attempt to respond to community needs in the language of community interest.
-Wendell Berry, Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community: Eight Essays

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Devaluing Freedom, One Insult at a Time

In one corner we have the moronic secularists that insist that freedom of speech cannot exist unless they are allowed to freely, repeatedly and frequently say, write or draw the most vile, obscene, vulgar and insulting things their perverted minds can come up with. The logic of reasoned restraint is lost on them. In their twisted minds the right to provoke must be absolute or freedom means nothing. It's sort of like the kids whose given an expensive gift, and promptly breaks it. They can't grasp the idea that freedom abused is not really all that valuable and in the end, not really worth saving.
Danny Carlton


This is another way freedom of speech is diminished, without any governmental involvement whatsoever. Sophomoric journalists honking about threats to the First Amendment are just another gaggle of boys crying wolf. How fortunate for them that the real wolves are dining on innocents thousands of miles away.

Wilson at War

At this point in my research I had the general impression that Congress, after wildly cheering this oratorical masterpiece, voted unanimously for a declaration of war.

Imagine my surprise when I again ventured into the Congressional Record and discovered there were three days of often ferocious arguments, in which leading liberal senators such as George Norris of Nebraska and Robert La Follette of Wisconsin assailed the president as a hypocrite and a tool of Wall Street's bankers, who had loaned so much money to the British, we had to go to war to bail them out.

An historian's take on Woodrow Wilson and the United States' entry into World War I


via Andrew Cusack

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Peter King On the Modernness of Mind-Body Dualism

Why, then, did a mind-body problem ever arise? What made it ever seem like a problem worth accepting, rather than a reductio of one’s philosophical views? What benefits did Descartes think outweighed its intolerable difficulties? How in the world did he get anyone to agree with him?

The answer, I think, cannot come from medieval philosophy of psychology. As far as the Middle Ages were concerned, the mind-body problem was a non-starter, the dust having settled since Plato’s flirtation with it in Antiquity. Medieval anticipations of practically everything else can be found, but not the mind-body problem. The answer must lie elsewhere.

Let me suggest by way of conclusion that the culprit might be the distinction between primary and secondary qualities. The success of the New Science made it seem plausible that the only ‘real’ properties in the world were fundamentally quantitative: the primary qualities of size, shape, location, speed, direction. But that left secondary qualities with nowhere to go, so to speak. They had to migrate from the external world (where they had happily been since Antiquity) to the only place left that still seemed inexplicable in quantitative terms, namely the mind.
Peter King, Why Isn't the Mind-Body Problem Medieval? (PDF Format)


High-falutin' but worth a read. A more accessible treatment of the topic is available in Alfred Freddoso's essay Good News, Your Soul Hasn't Died Quite Yet

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Kurt Goedel and Constitutional Tyranny

An amusing anecdote from the life of Kurt "Incompleteness Theorem" Goedel:

So naïve and otherworldly was the great logician that Einstein felt obliged to help look after the practical aspects of his life. One much retailed story concerns Gödel’s decision after the war to become an American citizen. The character witnesses at his hearing were to be Einstein and Oskar Morgenstern, one of the founders of game theory. Gödel took the matter of citizenship with great solemnity, preparing for the exam by making a close study of the United States Constitution. On the eve of the hearing, he called Morgenstern in an agitated state, saying he had found an “inconsistency” in the Constitution, one that could allow a dictatorship to arise. Morgenstern was amused, but he realized that Gödel was serious and urged him not to mention it to the judge, fearing that it would jeopardize Gödel’s citizenship bid. On the short drive to Trenton the next day, with Morgenstern serving as chauffeur, Einstein tried to distract Gödel with jokes. When they arrived at the courthouse, the judge was impressed by Gödel’s eminent witnesses, and he invited the trio into his chambers. After some small talk, he said to Gödel, “Up to now you have held German citizenship.”

No, Gödel corrected, Austrian.

“In any case, it was under an evil dictatorship,” the judge continued. “Fortunately that’s not possible in America.”

“On the contrary, I can prove it is possible!” Gödel exclaimed, and he began describing the constitutional loophole he had descried. But the judge told the examinee that “he needn’t go into that,” and Einstein and Morgenstern succeeded in quieting him down. A few months later, Gödel took his oath of citizenship.
The New Yorker


I heard this story from Father Edward T. Oakes, who last night graced the Denver ROFTERS with his presence. Father Oakes said that Goedel's "dictator loophole" was the judiciary. The absent-minded thinker voicing his caveats about judicial tyranny in front of a judge certainly enlivens the story, and jibes with First Things' bete noir, a tyrannous judiciary.

But it seems that nobody really knows what loophole Goedel believed that he had found. The Fourteenth Circuit recounts its own unsuccesful attempts to track down this contitutional achilles' heel.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Does Religious Freedom Exist Only In The Mind?

"I would say at the outset, of all the plaintiffs who testified and the depositions that I've read, I believe that all of them have sincere religious beliefs. This does not require any testimony of orthodoxy, because orthodoxy is not any issue.... In listening to the testimony, the views expressed weren't necessarily my views but I recognize them all as valid religious beliefs that are entitled to protection under the law. I'm sure that if I express my religious views some people would say that's very weird and that's very strange, you know, I can't argue wtih that. That's unorthodox. And that's what makes up religion, is that we all have a right in this country to have whatever religious views we choose to have."
-Judge Kenneth Ryskamp, Oral Ruling, Warren v. Boca Raton


Ryskamp's opinion is, apparently, that religion is a matter of "views." And rights are attached to "views," not to the action that one takes. Again, one sees a typically protestant(small "p") focus on religious opinions rather than religious acts. It should be enough, from this perspective, that one's opinions are free.
-Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, The Impossibility of Religious Freedom p. 92


Sullivan's book covers a dispute over religious cemetery decorations in a public cemetery of Boca Raton, Florida, and will hopefully be a topic of further postings here.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

A Post In Which The Author Harrasses Pornmongers

While attending the excellent National Catholic Singles' Conference at a local Embassy Suites hotel, I was unfortunate enough to turn on the television in my room. The default hotel promotional channel came up first, and I caught the tail-end of a recorded message which was pimping pornography to hotel guests. I suggested that the male participants make a small protest to the desk clerk upon checkout. I can't say how many did so, but here's my written follow-up to my complaint:

To Whom It May Concern,

I was recently a guest at your hotel on Hampden in Denver, Colorado for a conference, and in almost all respects your service was commendable.

However, I was quite annoyed to turn on my television and find myself seeing a commercial for pornography, sponsored by your hotel. Now in this age of mass e-mail, it is rather difficult to escape pornographic spam. Yet at your hotel, such salacious advertising disturbed what was supposed to be a relaxing escape from the world. Its presence also raised unfortunate anxieties about certain bodily fluids and their presence in the hotel room.

Worse, pimping such material makes your chain reasonably comparable to a brothel. Had one of your on-site employees propositioned a guest, you would have likely faced a police officer and unwanted media attention. But your porn service is not significantly distinguishable from such an indecent situation. Your own advertisment acknowledged the shamefulness of the material, assuring potential customers that their porn would not be charged to their hotel bill(no doubt to have wives and employers left in the dark).

It is incredibly sad and degrading that your business sees fit to hawk the modesty of women and men to lonely or lustful guests. Whatever can be said of your hotel chain, sad to say, one cannot call it "family-friendly."


Considering Embassy Suites' membership in the Hilton corporation, one wonders whether that poor woman Paris Hilton is herself a marketing tool for her family's company.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Fun with the Daily Kos Wiki

Reading some public Wikis is like being sent back to college where you have to read your fellow students' cringe-inducing papers. The dKos Wiki is one such example.

From it we "learn" about Leo Strauss:

Strauss rejected or dismissed empirical social science and its findings in large part because he was had not been trained to employ and was therefore unable to make contributions to political science using the scientific method and statistical analysis. Like many scholars trained exclusively in the humanities, he was intellectually trapped in making claims for truth solely on the basis of the close reading of text and intuition. His rejection of the fact-value distinction served as cover for this disability.


So much for lefty empathy for the disabled.

We also learn that Michael Novak was the source for the Valerie Plame leaks.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

"Pretty Woman" is a Fiendish Lie

...basically, brothel workers in Nevada are treated somewhat better than illegal aliens in a sex slave ring.


An ex-prostitute writes on her experiences in a *legal* American brothel:
Prostitution in Nevada - what it is really like

via Matthew Lickona who has also indexed this woman's account of her return from a darker side of life.

Homo Eligens Futuris, Confounded

Charles T. Rubin reflects on transhumanism in the characteristically superb journal The New Atlantis. His take on the "Choosing Man of the Future" promoted by technotriumphalists:

Of course, liberty is a crucial element of any decent human life. But the more one observes the extreme libertarianism at the heart of the rhetoric of extinction, the harder it is to take seriously. As we saw in Chorost’s account of himself, the free play of choice is what is left when the ability to think seriously about what is choiceworthy is lost. The rhetoric of extinction makes it seem as if we will no longer have to make choices based on scarcity of time or resources; it casts out faith and reason alike as grounds for universal norms that might direct choice; and it can hardly adduce tradition or human nature as compelling guides in the remanufactured world it imagines. When natural constraints are increasingly non-existent and moral constraints are entirely up to the individual, what can liberty be but choice for the sake of choice, or mere willfulness?


Also from the journal, whose unfortunate acronym is the combination "TNA": Mark Halpern on Turing Machines

Two Related Remarks on Academic Freedom

The V monologues isn't about academics; it's about propaganda. Refusing it a venue actually enhances freedom, since young minds are not being troubled by tendentious sloganeering that's a substitute for genuine thought.
"Romulus," on Catholic University of America's policy towards a new seasonal play




At secular universities, a professor who in class sought to analyze prayer as a human experience of relating to God, or who sought to understand the Bible as God’s saving revelation for humanity, would quickly find herself censured. A Solemn Authority would admonish her that such notions were “inappropriate” in class and that she must keep her “personal beliefs” to herself. Secular universities restrict academic freedom because they exclude from the classroom engagement with religious beliefs precisely as religious. The secular academy thus puts itself in the curious position of excluding from non-reductionist consideration the beliefs by which the overwhelming majority of the human race lives. Such self-censorship is dangerous. Because of the sometimes threatening manifestations of religion in our world, the stubborn refusal even to acknowledge religion as religion and to study it as such amounts to an ivory-tower dereliction of intellectual duty.

Brad Gregory, history professor at Notre Dame

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Remember New Orleans?

I don't, really. So I follow a few internet acquaintances local to the area to see what their take on things is.

Some news outlets are reporting that the lights are coming back on in the Crescent City, often no thanks to the electric companies or the government.

But one of the locals I read tells of the downside, writing on an internet forum:

Folks have no idea how extraordinary. But I get tired of repeating it.

I think it dangerous in the extreme to reconnect power lines absent a professional evaluation even in neighborhoods ostensibly cleared for powering up ... as opposed to the miles and miles and miles and miles and miles and miles and miles and miles and miles of neighborhoods still standing in the dark.

I'm certain that the neighbors of Romulus's parents went through the proper channels. (It's that kind of neighborhood.) Yet the day after they powered back up, their house burnt to the ground. It was only the stucco exterior of his parents' house (still uninhabitable thanks to flooding) which saved it.

Three big beautiful houses burned to the ground a few blocks from me this week. All three might have been saved ... if we had any water pressure. It's very sad to watch firemen watch a blaze they can't do a damn thing about.

It's worse down here than you realize.

-"Askel5"

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Amnesiac Anarchists in the Evangelical Churches

Rev. Gassalaca Jape, SJ writes on the pastor of the Denver megachurch "The Next Level" Dave Terpstra and his abysmal ecclessiology:

Evangelicals with Terpstra’s kind of ecclesiological blank-slate strike me as having acquired an anarchic ecclesiology by default, without even knowing it, or without appreciating the risks and negative consequences. They are in the position of a married man, legally separated from his wife, who has fallen victim to amnesia. He cannot recall ever having been married. From his own standpoint, this man’s marital problems are “solved.” He has no immediate or pressing difficulty with the woman who was his wife because he does not know her. From the standpoint of the wife and others, the man’s situation is tragic and perverse.


The post of "Father Jape" also contains some intriguing words from Eric Voegelin linking Lockean Christianity both to contemporary American Evangelicalism and to Romanticism.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Drinking for the Lord: In Vino Veritas est

We don't tend to associate Thomas Aquinas with the idea of drunkenness. We regard him rather – and for good reason – as a very brilliant but sober intellectual. Thomas, however, no less than Jordan of Saxony, uses the image of drinking and of being made drunk to explore some of the most basic aspects of Christian and Dominican experience. "Wine," he notes in his commentary on Boethius' De Trinitate, "often signifies divine wisdom," whereas "water signifies secular wisdom." St Thomas, in his own work as a theologian, draws again and again on the wisdom of secular, non-Christian sources, a fact which disturbed more than a few of his own contemporaries. Was there not a danger, they wondered, that such reliance on secular knowledge would in some way water down the great wine of God's teaching ? Thomas confronted this question head on, and answered it with what would seem to be an allusion to Christ's first miracle at Cana in Galilee. Human learning in itself is not, according to Thomas, the problem. If teachers make accurate use of "the water" of secular knowledge, they don't so much "mix water with wine," Thomas argues, but rather change the water of human learning into the wine of Gospel truth!


Dominicans and the New Wine of the Gospel

Thursday, February 09, 2006

How Ignatius Loyola Avoided Violence Over a Religious Insult

The furor in the Islamic world evoked by various cartoons deprecating Mohammed brings to mind an event from the life of Saint Ignatius of Loyola recorded in his autobiography.

After Ignatius had set out to become a saint, a Moor insulted the Virgin Mary in his presence and he seriously considered shedding the man's blood in return. Speaking of himself in the third person, he writes:

On the way something happened to him which it will be good to record, so one may understand how Our Lord dealt with his soul, which was still blind, though greatly desirous of serving Him in every way which he knew. [...] He did not dwell on any interior thing, nor did he know what humility was or charity or patience or discretion to regulate and measure these virtues. Without considering any more particular circumstance, his every intention was to do these great external works because the saints had done so for the glory of God.

As he was going on his way, then, a Moor riding on a mule came up to him, and they went on talking together. They began to talk about Our Lady, and the Moor said it seemed to him that the Virgin had indeed conceived without a man, but he could not believe that she remained a virgin after giving birth. In support of this he cited the natural reasons that suggested themselves to him. The pilgrim, in spite of the many reasons he gave him, could not dissuade him from this opinion. The Moor then went on ahead so rapidly that he lost sight of him, and he was left to think about what had transpired with the Moor. Various emotions came over him and caused discontentment in his soul, as it seemed to him that he had not done his duty. This also aroused his indignation against the Moor, for he thought that he had done wrong in allowing the Moor to say such things about Our Lady and that he was obliged to defend her honor. A desire came over him to go in search of the moor and strike him with his dagger for what he had said. He struggled with this conflict of desires for a long time, uncertain to the end what he was obliged to do. The Moor, who had gone on ahead, had told him that he was going to a place a little farther on, very near the highway, though the highway did not pass through the place.

Tired of examining what would be best to do and not finding any guiding principle, he decided as follows, to let the mule go with the reins slack as far as the place where the road separated. If the mule took the village road, he would seek out the Moor and strike him; if the mule did not go toward the village but kept on the highway, he would let him be. He did as proposed. Although the village was little more than thirty or forty paces away, and the road to it was very broad and very good, Our Lord willed that the mule took the highway and not the village road.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

On The Novelty of Tuition for Jesuit Colleges

Since the Second Vatican Council, the order of the Society of Jesus has often sought to return to the charism and the way of life of its first members. There is one ancient regulation that has been ignored, described in a Catholic history of St. Louis, Missouri:

When the Jesuit college opened on the edge of town in l829, Father Peter Verhaegen headed it. On December 28, l832, Missouri governor Daniel Dunkin signed the bill that made Saint Louis University the first university west of the Mississippi. According to Jesuit rule, priests could not charge tuition for their work. However, on January l3, l833, Pope Gregory XVI, at the request of Rosati, signed a dispensation that allowed the university to charge tuition–one of the most significant changes in the Jesuit way of conducting schools since the founding of the Society of Jesus.


Perhaps the sons of Ignatius of Loyola could correct this oversight, turing away from elite money and elite opinion and turning towards economic poverty for the sake of free education.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Human Flourishing: Founded Upon Stability

In the essay The Vow of Stability: A Premodern way through a Hypermodern World "Mennonite Catholic" Gerald W. Schlabach paints a sympathetic portrait of Benedictine stability and that accountability which only stability can make possible:

What is arguably most important about democracy are the ways that it holds powerful leaders accountable. But if we study premodern traditional cultures carefully and respectfully we begin to notice that modern democracy does not have a monopoly on accountability. Christian polities should strive toward the accountability of all, but in fact, modern democratic processes do rather poorly at holding their electorates accountable. When congregationalist polities, using modern democratic processes, allow dysfunctional churches to run out one pastor after another, we have only exchanged one abuse of authority for another. And where congregational participation is a matter of consumeristic taste, we gain the accountability of the marketplace but undermine growth in discipled Christian virtue. At minimum, then, patterns of accountability in premodern communities deserve a second look if not a reappropriation.


This calls to mind Stanley Hauerwas's summation of liberal democracy as "an attempt to give an account of democracies as just, without the people that constitute such a society having the virtue of justice." The problem of absolute sovereignty is a key problem of modernity. Beginning as monarchical absolutism, sovereignty has shifted into democratic absolutism with nationalism and legal positivism its constant companions.

Professor Schlabach, in his ruminations on Benedictine life, remarks upon the most famous contemporary signpost to Benedict, Alisdair MacIntyre's conclusion to After Virtue:

MacIntyre's call for a new and "doubtless very different" St. Benedict" missed one crucial point. At least as a writer, Benedict was not very original; most of his rule is a thoughtful redaction from earlier, often longer, documents on monastic life. His innovation was simply the wise and enduring balance he struck between solitary and communal ways of searching for God, asceticism and realism, insularity and hospitality, rigor and flexibility. And if Benedict was rarely altogether original, he sensed no need to claim originality. Neither do I.


By happy paradox, to reject originality and novelty is itself novel. Thus with the coming of its last Galileo, cultural neomania must at last make a meal of itself.

(Essay discovered by way of The Japery)

Labor, Beleaguered

Writing on the decline of Solidarity, Christopher Hayes notes:

The real story of the strike is not the epic hassle it created. It is the fact that despite universal condemnation from opinion makers, millions of New Yorkers were in solidarity with the strikers.

Solidarity. Now there's an anachronism. The news media doesn't talk about solidarity; it employs the assured and peppy tone that speaks to the individual consumer: After the break: We'll tell you how the strike will affect your morning commute. Solidarity is the opposite of news you can use. No wonder the local media missed the real story. It hinged on a concept that is not part of its vocabulary.


It's quite obvious that entrepreneurial individualism, generally supposed to be represented in the Republican Party, has only hostility for what's left of the labor movement. But Hayes' comments reveal that what could be called "hedonistic" individualism, represented by the Democratic party's cultural lefties, likewise bears antipathy towards the basic premises of solidarity. As Caleb Stegall has noted, replace the words of a typical John Kerry speech extolling choice in matters of abortion with praises for economic choice, and you have a George W. Bush speech. And labor is trapped between the two, like an unfortunate watermelon in a swiftly-tightening vise.

Friday, February 03, 2006

How Not To Invoke Evolution In Bioethics Debates

"The theory of evolution predicts that … humans and other animals have a strong biological incentive to clone themselves. That way they get all of their genes down to the next generation, not just half. In fact, one biological theory says that the effective limit on natural cloning, which does exist among some species, is the increased vulnerability of offspring to disease. This risk might not be great after one or two generations, the relevant time frame for an individual human’s decision to clone."


So writes Professor Grady of UCLA's School of Law in his employer's brief summary of faculty opinions on embryonic stem cell research.

This is a wrong-headed invocation of evolution. First, genetic dispersion is not a real incentive for any organism. Sexual pleasure and the pleasure of childrearing are, at least in mammals. Furthermore, human beings whose biological makeup is conditioned by millions of years of heterosexual reproduction aren't exactly going to enthusiastically embrace asexual reproduction when the old way is far more habitual, not to mention non-artificial.

Finally, it seems the professor is invoking nature ambiguously. First he treats it as a descriptive account of genetic drives, then he turns around and treats ths (badly-reasoned) descriptive account as something having moral authority to be respected in law and funding policy. This is one of the better examples showing where Hume's "naturalistic fallacy" is not always false.

Professor Grady's statements appear to have been excerpted from somewhere else, but I'm still not terribly optimistic a larger context would benefit his line of thought.


via Professor Bainbridge, who also has a statement on ESCR in the article.

Dueling Obscurantists

There is a minor kerfuffle in a small Colorado town involving an intro-to-opera program for children. The Denver Post reports that certain parents in Bennett, Colorado were incredibly upset that their elementary-age children saw a puppet-populated introduction to opera video, featuring scenes from Faust and other works. The devilish imagery of the work was of great concern to them, as well as scenes of operatic cross-dressing misunderstood by their children, which the parents then mistook for a representation of lesbianism.

I received an action alert from an artsy friend which claimed that the music teacher, Tresa Waggoner, didn't exactly endear herself to the community because she excluded Christmas Carols from the school's "winter festival" choir recital. This being so, I find it hard to get much riled up about any supposed censorship or cultural obscurantism going on in this dispute, since both sides appear to be practicing that. It's not like a foreign-language opera is more relevant to grade-school kids than centuries-old songs rooted in their own culture.

Furthermore, hardly any opera is suitable for the young. It's in another language, it is incredibly expensive to enjoy, and it is typically about adultery, murder, and all sorts of R-rated subject matter. The arts teacher is a rookie, which explains her lack of discretion.

What I don't much like is the sanctimonious depiction of concerned parents as mouth-breathing yokels, an easy temptation for would-be cognoscenti like the Denver Post's Kyle MacMillan, whose article is also linked above.

There is also an unfortunate habit in the education industry for its workers to think of themselves as great liberators who free enslaved children from the supposed errors of their parents. One can easily reach that interpretion by reading the superintendent's comments:

"We're in no way going to back off," Sauter said. "We want to expose kids to things, to help them see there is another world beside Bennett out there. But we have to understand who we are serving."


I was not aware that Bennett existed in an alternate world. Mr. Sauter has read too many times Dr. Suess's Oh the Places You’ll Go.

"It Hurts" is not an Argument

"I guess I just want to remind them that people every single day embrace varying kinds of sacrifice—slow or fast, honored or humiliating—and if you want anything resembling a functioning culture (let alone a Catholic one) you need people who can say that ‘it hurts’ isn’t an argument. Every functioning culture relies on a core of people who can accept that life, or God, or whatever they believe in, will ask them to do things they would never have believed possible; and they do them. Every day. Policemen and policemen’s wives; soldiers and soldiers’ husbands; saints and martyrs; pregnant women in desperate circumstances; everyone who suffers and whose suffering would be eased by just a little wrong action, just a small palliative sin."
-Eve Tushnet

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Liturgical Abuse as Spousal Abuse

Many religious accept liturgical abuse in a manner similar to how a wife will often accept spousal abuse — from a false sense of charity and tolerance. It is not that the perpetrator of abuse is completely evil, he often possesses many virtues and admirable qualities. The victim of liturgical abuse, like the victim of spousal abuse, wants to be forgiving, wants to practice tolerance, wants to be charitable. The abuser takes advantage of such desires and sentiments and continues to abuse.
Rev. Vincent Capuano, SJ, Adoremus Bulletin


The same could be said for the laity who have to endure atrociously-conceived modifications to the mass made on the fly by some preening cleric.

via Amy Welborn

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A Strange and Foreign Song

Courtesy of Rhapsody Radio, I have happened across a song that appears to be in English. Its dialect is recognizably American, but its accompanying music has not been heard outside of Branson or Lawrence Welk.

Behold the lyrics:

Perry, it's such a beautiful night,
let's take a ride? ~ Nah!
Well how about a walk thru the park? ~ No!
Would you like soda? ~ Nah!
Well, what would you like to do?

I wanna go home, with you! ~ Oh!
I wanna go home with you!


Yep, don't so many songs end up that way? Two singers in bed together. Prelude to a lusty romp, and all that.

Wait a minute! It continues:


I wanna meet the family,
I'm sure that they'll approve of me
I wanna go home, with you! ~ you do?
an' nobody else will do!
Kissing goodnight at your front door
makes me love you more an' more
I wanna go home with you!


-Perry Como, I Wanna Go Home With You Tonight

An Eastern Theologian on Wealth

The initial historical link between pietism and capitalism is well known. The linchpin of the capitalist ideology may be identified with the pietistic demand for direct, quantifiable and judicially recompensed results from individual piety and morality-- in this case, from hard work, honesty, thrift, rationalistic exploitation of "talents," etc. Work acquires an autonomy: it is divorced from actual needs and becomes a religious obligation, finding its visible justification and "just deserts" in the accumulation of wealth. The management of wealth similarly becomes autonomous: it is divorced from social need and becomes part of the individual's relationship with God, a relationship of quantitative deserts and rewards.
-Christos Yannaras, "Pietism as an Ecclesiological Heresy"
from The Freedom of Morality

The *Other* Vocations Shortage

The Church is now rediscovering her need to be more particular about whom she calls to Holy Orders. She was once upon a time mighty careful about whom she called even to baptism – no one got it just for the asking. Similarly, no one has an unconditional right to Holy Communion or to absolution. Since when is anyone and everyone deemed fit to image the mysterious mutual self-gift of Christ and the Church? When the Church reconsiders her role as marital vending machine, and starts denying the sacrament to those not properly disposed to receive it, annulments will no longer be a problem.

-Romulus


Addendum:

Amy Welborn on invalid marriages

Two separate Engaged Encounter horror stories from Old Oligarch and Marriage as a Vocation