Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Hamlet's Self-Doubt Triggered By Dubious Ghost

"Hamlet's quandary is chiefly based on the problem of discernment of spirits." So writes Thomas A. at The Ark and the Dove. He quotes a Kittredge commentary on the tragedy:

Hamlet believes that the apparition is indeed the ghost of his father and that it has told the truth. Yet it may be a demon in his father's shape, tempting him to kill an innocent man. This doubt as to the ambiguous apparition accords with ancient doctrine and was perfectly intelligible to any Elizabethan audience. Disregard of Hamlet's dilemma has led to misinterpretation of his character...

Speakeasy Monarchists

Sing a song of sixpence,
A case full of rye;
Four-and-twenty Yankees
Started going dry.
When the case was opened,
The yanks began to sing,
To Hell with the Stars-and-Stripes
And God save the King!

-Reputed Prohibition-Era Drinking Song
via Charles Coulombe

Coulombe scores another rhetorical point:
Now it might well be objected that smoking does indeed pose a threat to an individual’s health, and this I cannot and will not dispute. But it must be submitted that the governments who are so interested in the health of the taxpayer on this point have interesting lacunae elsewhere. Statistically, an active participant in certain “risky” forms of behavior is far likelier to contract AIDS than a ten-pack-a-day smoker is to come down with lung cancer. Yet the Supreme Court has ruled that such behavior is a human right, and cannot be outlawed.

Brownback To Be Backed By Monaghan?

Domino’s pizza founder Tom Monaghan, one of the nation’s richest and most controversial Roman Catholic philanthropists, wants to deliver Sen. Sam Brownback to the White House.

Monaghan is advising the 2008 presidential exploratory committee for Brownback, a longtime social conservative who converted to Catholicism a few years ago.

Monaghan is expected to play a lead role in “Catholics for Brownback.” But, more important, his support and network is likely to spice up Brownback’s fundraising, which is currently regarded as the weakest part of the Kansas Republican’s candidacy.
Kansas City Star

Unfortunately the article only follows the "quote a Democrat, quote a Republican" school of lazy journalistic balance. Here's a familiar face:

"In the Catholic community, he’s looked upon as kind of on the fringes," said the Rev. Robert Drinan, a liberal Roman Catholic priest and former Democratic congressman who teaches at Georgetown University. "The world view is, 'We have to get back to a Catholic civilization.' They want to go back to a Christian society imposed from above. [...] It's just another world they want to build."

That makes me shiver in all the wrong ways. Drinan himself is a collaborator with secularists who have no reservations about imposing their society, if that is the right word. His work running interference for pro-abortion Catholics has done untold damage to the church and the Democratic Party, not to mention efforts to protect the unwanted unborn.

"There is certainly a degree of presumption, even hubris, in marketing institutions of this type on the premise that all the other schools are failing to educate Catholics effectively," said Richard Yanikoski, the president of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities.

Another bad example of false balance. It's obvious to all but the willfully blind that Catholic higher education is compromised spiritually, ethically, and academically, though usually not financially.

Drinan and Yanikoski are hardly the only opponents of Monaghan, and it's misleading to depict them as his only naysayers. The New Oxford Review has raised some serious concerns about Monaghan's autocratic rule at Ave Maria School of Law, and the AMSoL graduates at Fumare have been detailing Monaghan's faults and recording their alma mater's afflictions for years.

Monaghan's massive support for various traditional Catholic charities and media have made him many friends. His critics' concerns suggest that these friends aren't doing the fraternal correction they need to be doing, for Monaghan's sake and for the sake of his projects. Such an adulatory echo chamber could cripple his new political endeavors.

Related news: Brownback voices pro-Rudy sentiments.

Rocky's Holiday Edition Looks at a Local Sheriff

"You want to arrest somebody like you were arresting your own brother. Because in a small town, the person you arrest on Saturday just might be sitting next to you in church on Sunday morning."
-Park County Sheriff Fred Wegener

For holiday reading, there's an excellent profile of Sheriff Wegener in the Rocky Mountain Post. Wegener was pushed into the spotlight during the Bailey high school hostage situation, which ended in the molestation of some girls and the death of one along with her captor.

In "Small-town sheriff shines" Rocky writer James B. Meadow lets loose in a folksy discursive style, letting its informality soften the harsh memories of that sad day. Wegener made the decision to send in the SWAT team. During their assault, they could not kill the hostage taker before he fatally shot one of his victims.

The sheriff is understandably haunted by the outcome of his decision, but his character shines through in Meadow's account:
Wegener isn't talking about the election now. He is talking about meeting the president of the United States in October at a school safety conference in Washington. ("Holy smokes, talk about being out of your element.")

If newspapers had more of these local stories, perhaps they wouldn't be in such poor financial shape.

Sunday, December 24, 2006


The Cornell Society for a Good Time reports on the lapsed tradition of Sapientiatide.

And with that I wish you all a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Gaudete Sunday Healing

I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
-Psalm 26

Well, this is a surprise.

Hours after my post marking the anniversary of my ailment's birth, I seem to have been healed.

The chain of events which brought this about is remarkable to me.

My parish young adult group had organized a Eucharistic Adoration for the evening of December 10. A few minutes before beginning, I requested from the priest that I receive the anointing of the sick.

After adoration, one of my fellow group members came up to me asked if I had considered whether I had Lyme disease.

A few days later I looked up Lyme disease, rejecting it out of course. But I noticed one of Lyme's symptoms was balance problems, which had become quite a noticable factor in my life.

So I looked into balance problems, and learned that they were a symptom of ear afflictions. I played around with my ears. They would slosh when I made sudden movements, which made me realize I had made no sudden movements in ages. My motion was slow and deliberate, like a turtle's.

I also recognized gait problems. My feet were more spread out when standing, and rather than walk with one's legs straight below one's center, as everyone else does, I would walk with my feet spread out from my sides, even with the outside of my shoulders rather than the inside of my armpits. Little wonder my left shoe had begun to irritate the left side of my foot, and the outer sides of my knees had begun aching at the joints.

Most important of all, I recognized that motion of the fluid in my ear correlated with nausea, inducing vomiting when disturbed.

I talked things over with my GI specialist, and planned to schedule an appointment with an ear specialist.

Then I kept playing with my ears. On a whim Sunday evening at about ten o'clock, three years to the day after my ailment first began in full strength, I placed my left hand to my stuffed and uncomfortable ear. I forced air out from between the two body parts as if using a plunger. After two pushes I ceased and, removing my hand, for no reason in particular I snapped my fingers loudly near the ear.

What a surprise followed!

Fluid flowed out from my ear, as air flowed in. Picture a full upside-down water bottle, newly opened and emptying through a single straw. Now picture an analogical phenomenon within one's middle ear and eustachian tube. And try not to gag.

The feeling was in no way pleasant. So long had it been since that ear was empty and functioning normally, I worried my eardrum had burst. I felt like I was breathing through my ear, as fresh air hit the heated, long-submerged inner side of my eardrum. It hurt to hear all but the softest sounds.

Panicking, I urged my family to take me to the emergency room. To my relief nothing seemed damaged, even though a doctor whistling in the hall pained my ear considerably.

Follow-ups suggest that the accumulated fluid had indeed been causing vertigo and its accompanying debilitations, yet a dysfunctioning eustachian tube did not let it drain.

For three years.

God willing, I have no permanent ear damage from its long embalmment in otic serum. My balance is still rather uneven, stuck in its old habits. To this point I have been unknowingly worn out by my own balance systems, which have instructed my body to make continuous and confused corrections to a problem I didn't truly have.

The nausea has receded to undetectability, and for the first time in a long time I have confidence in my health. What I thought was adequate hearing was instead muffled and limp compared to how I hear now. A few more days or weeks of recovery and I hope to at last rejoin my rudely interrupted life.

Yesterday and today I have been digging out from a beautiful Denver blizzard. My strength and endurance is more than I can remember.

December 17 was Gaudete Sunday. Rejoicing in the Lord just got a lot easier.

The Lord has done great things for me,
Holy is His Name!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A Regrettable Anniversary

On a personal note, today marks the close of my third year with as-yet-undiagnosed malady. Chronic nausea and stomach trouble, combined with a fatigued and clouded mind have made for lots of blogging time and penitential sacrifice, but little economic productivity.

I have within the week begun to suspect that it is my inner ears which are the source of the problem, rather than my otherwise dependable GI tract. If I am right, it would mean I have beaten my doctors at deciphering this very expensive and very tiresome puzzle.

It would also mean that I have been suffering from chronic seasickness on dry land.

At the moment my future is still unclear, and I ask for your kind prayers.

I'm getting hits on this page for "chronic nausea." Sufferers, please see How I was healed. It was a eustachian tube blockage, get your ears checked!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Blog Housekeeping

I believe I've successfully converted everything to the newest Blogger version. After four years of using a default template, I'm nervous about the site appearance. I hope the green frame is not too hard on the eyes.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Grungy Protesters Lose

...the romanticization (and careful sanitization) of the Civil Rights Movement in popular culture led countless imitators to try and replicate its success. Mostly, they got even the most basic details wrong then wondered why they weren't one-tenth as successful: as I eventually tired of explaining to my 1980s peace movement colleagues, what impressed Mr. and Mrs. White America most about Civil Rights kids was how well dressed, calm and polite they all seemed -- these were the kids they imagined Sidney Poitier having; MLK insisted that action participants dress like they would to go to church on Sundays. (A black Pentecostal church in Montgomery in 1964, not that honky Church of Do What You Want you might shuffle into, late, today). You can imagine how that went over with my atheist comrades, whose wardrobes consisted mostly of black t-shirts with stylized yellow fists on the front.
Kathy Shaidle

I add that people in their best clothes don't want to pick fights with the police, on expense alone. Likewise, the police won't want the bad PR that comes from a well-dressed protester trying to recover tailoring costs caused by overenthusiastic police action.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

How the Democrats Began Sticking Up For Aborting The Little Guy

via Catholic World News, an essay on how the Democrats lost the pro-life movement, or perhaps it is the other way around:

...suppose a politically savvy Rip Van Winkle in say, 1965, perceiving that a movement to legalize abortion was gaining strength in the country, were asked, "Which of the two major political parties will eventually identify with that movement?" What would he answer? I think he would mull it over in his head for awhile and then say: "the Republicans, probably."

Why? "Well, in the first place, [abortion] fits pretty well into the Republicans' private-property philosophy. 'Let's keep government out of a woman's most personal property.' Secondly, consider the demographics. The Republicans draw heavily from the upper-middle class WASPs, where the drive for population control has always come from. Abortion fits very well into the old eugenics mythology -- the belief that you can improve the health of the 'race' by limiting the breeding of 'undesirables.' You can still hear echoes of that in the conversations of bicoastal Republicans. It wouldn't surprise me at all if the Republican Party came out with a plank saying 'We support abortion, in certain cases, for the nation's overall health and well-being.' Finally, consider the Republicans' emphasis on the need for law and order and their conservative approach to welfare. The Republicans may not say this out loud but it slots right into their conservative ideology: abortion is good because, by holding down illegitimate births, it will cut down on crime and welfare costs."

What about the Democrats? "Well," Rip would say, "let's start again with demographics. Consider the heavy concentration of Roman Catholics in the Democratic Party. The Church hierarchy would go bananas if any prominent Catholic Democrat -- or any Democrat at all --came out in favor of abortion. The Church has consistently held that abortion is one of the gravest moral offenses because it involves the direct killing of an innocent human being. No way is a Catholic Democrat, or any Democrat who wants Catholic support (and what Democrat doesn't?), going to support abortion. It might even be smart politics for the Democrats to pick a fight with the Republicans on the abortion issue. Democrats like to boast that they protect the weak and the vulnerable. You remember Vice President Hubert Humphrey's characterization of his party as the advocate of those 'who are in the dawn of life; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.' All they have to do is insert 'unborn children' into that list and they can beat up Republicans every time on the abortion issue. I can hear them now: 'Let the Republicans pick on the weak and vulnerable, killing children in the womb to cut welfare costs. We Democrats are the party of compassion, the party that sticks up for the little guy, including the littlest guy of all, the child in the womb [Applause].'"
-George McKenna, Criss-Cross: Democrats, Republicans, and Abortion (PDF)

McKenna also puts forward the idea that intra-Catholic conflicts are a driving force in abortion politics. Catholics climbing the social ladder shed their admirable tribal Catholicism for a decadent tribal liberalism, then looked askance at those who remained in the old tribe.

He also notes the academic structures feeding compromised counsel to weak-willed clerics in the episcopacy:

Anyone who thinks that the bishops operate independently, handing down decrees and getting those below to obey, has it almost exactly backwards. The bishops’ pronouncements well up from currents of thought circulating among people below them, in some cases from those far below them. Not from the pews, though. From Catholic seminaries, from Catholic journals and theological associations, from philosophy and theology departments in Catholic universities, and, most immediately, from the staffers who serve the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. The overwhelming majority of those occupying these seats of influence are Democrats, and some are Democratic activists. For them, any move toward condemning the Democrats’ position on abortion only helps the Republicans, and helping the Republicans only helps to inaugurate or perpetuate social policies that are, in the final measure, un-Christian. Therefore, to single out the Democrats’ abortion plank for condemnation is to side with the forces opposed to the Church’s program of peace and justice. Objectively speaking, as the Marxists used to say, it is anti-Catholic.

A Latin Language Flamewar

via a blog named bulbulovo I have discovered a debate over the Israeli-Lebanon conflict earlier this year. In Latin, no less.

It is somewhat novel to see the same tired arguments repeated and misspelled in that ancient tongue. There are discussions about equating Bush and Hitler, the American electoral college, whether America is a democracy or a republic, pacifism versus just war, and the injustice of the Walt Disney corporation, which allegedly forbids bathroom breaks to its employees.

Here are two samples:

Hoccine audiistis, an solum soletis audire Al Jaziram?

Quod ad Bush: idealem uel perfectum, minime uero. Sed ut Hitler? ut Caesar? Nihil ridiculius audiui!

Your Own Personal Missile Silo

Timothy Bendel often stamps "RKBA" on his work. It's an acronym for the Second Amendment "Right to Keep and Bear Arms."

"When you have the right to own and carry guns, you have all your other rights," he explains.

America is a great country. Here, Bendel is not only free to carry guns, but free to own an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile silo. He bought it on the Internet in March for less than $400,000, and recently gave me a tour. Built in 1960, it was on alert during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was decommissioned in 1965 as more advanced missiles came on line.

Bendel lives here with his wife in the former officers' quarters, 20 feet beneath the windswept plains northwest of Cheyenne. Bendel also works here with three partners in 15,000 square feet of reinforced concrete that once housed an Atlas-E missile with a nuclear warhead.
Missile silo is gateway to final frontier

Bendel's sister is a friend of mine, though I've only met him once or twice. I heard from her there was a successful test up at his facilities this summer which resulted in a pillar of fire. Supposedly this spooked some locals, but since it happened in Chugwater, Wyoming, it never made the news.

Here's his company website. I can't believe he got that missile silo for only $400K.

He says "If you want to live your life in a free way, you've got to get away from all this authority. Ultimately, you'll need to get off the planet." I didn't know he was such a Mal Reynolds type.

Charles Darwin As Social Darwinist

According to the myths of standard historiography, Darwin confined himself strictly to matters biological—even in The Descent of Man, when he finally came, late in life, to apply his theory to man's place in the evolutionary tree. So whatever damage came to the poor and downtrodden from Darwin's theory is due to others, above all Herbert Spencer. Here, in Spencer, can be found the villain of the piece: that second-rate thinker ruined a perfectly good biological theory by hijacking it for cutthroat capitalism, contempt for the poor, laissez-faire lassitude about social legislation, and so forth. Spencer, the claim goes, was the first to transpose ethics into evolutionary terms, defining as good whatever promoted the "progress" of evolution and as bad whatever hindered it.

Unfortunately for Darwin's own reputation, this thesis does not bear scrutiny. Spencer might well have been the first to coin the phrase "survival of the fittest." But Darwin enthusiastically adopted it in the 6th edition of his Origin of Species as a substitute term for "natural selection." Nor did he ever demur when other advocates of evolution's social application came pleading their case. Karl Marx asked if he might dedicate Das Kapital to Darwin, which request Darwin declined only because he did not want to offend the religious sensibilities of his deeply Christian wife.

Nor were Darwin's own musings on the social implications of his theory limited to private correspondence. In one particularly chilling passage in Descent of Man he asserted, "At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races." Even more ominously, this insouciantly expressed sentiment cannot be regarded as an illegitimate conclusion from the earlier and more reliable Origin of Species. In a passage historians often cite to prove that at the time of the Origin Darwin was still struggling to maintain his belief in God, Darwin actually, if unwittingly, promulgated the charter for all later social Darwinists: "Let the strongest live and the weakest die… . Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows." In effect, this passage turns Christian theodicy on its head and gives St. Paul's line "Death is swallowed up in victory" a total reversal of meaning. Victory now belongs only to the fittest.


In other words, William Jennings Bryan was right all along when he said that Darwinism helped "lay the foundation for the bloodiest war in history." He was obviously speaking of World War I, having no idea how much his words would be trumped by an even bloodier war between two camps of Darwinians, the Nazis and the Communists... Imagine! That poor, maligned, "fundamentalist" lawyer, who argued for the state of Tennessee and against evolution in the Scopes trial—he was the real prophet. And what can we say of his opposite number, Clarence Darrow, the lawyer for the pro-evolution biology teacher John Thomas Scopes and the spokesman for the sneering classes so beloved of H. L. Mencken? Not much except that he would have made a marvelous figure for Nietzsche's scorn. As Peter Berger says of him in A Rumor of Angels, Darrow was "an admirable man in many ways, but one dense enough sincerely to believe that a Darwinian view of man could serve as a basis of his opposition to capital punishment."

And so it continues today. All those baffled by "what's wrong with Kansas," that is, with why a constituency that would otherwise be so drawn to progressive politics continues to eschew it, have only to look to Weikart's history—and to Bryan's foresight against Darrow's insipid progress-happiness—to find their answer. If one were to draw any one single lesson from this woeful tale for contemporary politics it would be this: the stakes in the culture wars could not be higher.
Edward T. Oakes, Darwin's Graveyards

This is a review of Richard Weikart's From Darwin to Hitler. It was originally submitted to First Things, but a poor editorial decision went to a less worthy piece.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Stupid Timing for an Anti-Illegal Raid

Greeley -- Special agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement executed civil search warrants at six Swift & Co. plants in the midwest and Colorado to break a large identity theft scheme. (Main Story)

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and many of the workers went to Mass before coming to work in massive beef-processing plant.


Draped in a Mexican flag with a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe on it, Lupe Tapia said, "This is a day we should all be celebrating. Instead we're in mourning.
Day of celebration turns to mourning

What genius of an agent decided that the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe was a good day for a raid on illegals? On the ground, the date adds needless hostility to an already tense situation. It makes for bad press with sentimental stories such as the one above, complete with a woman, Lupe, who shares her name with the feast. Politically, this day creates a rallying symbol for illegals and their allies.

I'm almost a Buchananite on immigration, but this timing is boneheaded to the core.

Cesar Chavez's marching workers often used the Virgin's image in their activism. I even heard this history invoked today at my mostly-white church's feast day mass. Get a clue, government people. I bet only scheduling this raid for Cinco de Mayo could tick off Mexicans more.

Ignorance of religion causes political troubles not just abroad, but at home too.


Another invocation of Our Lady of Guadalupe:

A statue of the Virgin

Carrying a small statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Magdalena Mesa paced in front of the meat processing plant. She said her cousin worked at Swift for 11 years. She said she feared he might be deported. She would not comment on her legal status or what she does for a living.

"They don't have respect," she said of ICE agents. "They don't even respect holy days. Couldn't they have waited until the holidays were over?"

Mesa was one of hundreds of immigrants who attended the 5 a.m. Mass at Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
If Satan troubles us
Jesus Christ
You who are the lion of the grasslands
You whose claws are sharp
Will tear out his entrails
And leave them on the ground
For the flies to eat.
-Afua Kuma
quoted by Phillip Jenkins, "Believing in the Global South," First Things, December 2006

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Early Music for the Ear

Sting has discovered early music.

Having teamed up with Serbian lute master Edin Karamazov, he has brought to the public a new interpretation of early music bard(and Catholic recusant) John Dowland. His take is certainly different than classical artists' interpretations, and to this point having only heard classically-trained singers interpret Dowland I am unsure what to make of his pop artist voice in a Renaissance mode. Yet from listening to his Come Again, I have to say that his approach works in its own way.

I applaud the man for making such an unusual creative effort, and I will make sure to get a copy of Songs from the Labyrinth.

His other YouTube offering, La Rossignol, is purely instrumental, and with the aid Karamazov it is a very fine performance. It recalls the version of the song played by the Martin Best Consort in Forgotten Provence, a wonderful re-creation of Troubadour music.

While browsing videos to find any other Early Musicians, I found one performance of one of Michael Praetorius' less energetic pieces. Praetorius collected music in vogue during the Seventeenth Century, and his Terpsichore collection contains several lively dances from this time.

Of course, this review of my early music favorites would be especially incomplete at this time of the year without mentioning The Carol Album, a fine set of Christendom Christmas traditionals, including an Old English carol and the original setting of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," whose tune differed from our contemporary version.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Local Blog: Denver Christian Docs

The Denver Christian Medical and Dental Association blog is run by an acquaintance of mine. A medical pathologist and Evangelical Christian, he attends the same First Things Readers' Group I do. He also has a regular hour on a local radio station.

Though he's a bit too captivated by the conservative punditry for my tastes, he is a sharp fellow capable of bringing his expertise to bear in some of the discussions at ROFTERS.

For instance, his own background in pathology has highlighted for him a great problem about human-animal chimeras created for research. He believes this cavalier blending of genetic material is a serious potential source for viral mutations. As even "test tube babies" are now found to have contaminated(but not yet malign) DNA from unsterile lab environments, biotech researchers might be cultivating new diseases as they try to cure old ones.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Lefty Millionaires Getting The Best Politics That Money Can Buy

National Review's December 4 print edition included a noteworthy article, "The Color Purple" by John J. Miller, covering on Colorado's lefty millionaires:
"The Rocky Mtn News calculated that Dems raised $4 million for friendly 527s, compared with $2.9 mil raised by Republicans."

"Three millionaire liberals are working the state's electoral levers. "They're trying to buy the political structure of the state," says Governor Owens. "Everywhere we look, we see their money and their resources." The ringleader is Tim Gill, the founder of Quark, a software firm; over the last decade, he has donated tens of millions to gay and lesbian causes.

His political activism dates back to 1992, when Colorado voters amended the state constitution to restrict certain gay-rights laws. "Nothing can compare to the psychological trauma of realizing that more than half the people in your state believe that you don't deserve equal rights," he once told the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Gill's allies are heiress Pat Stryker and dotcom entrepreneur Jared Polis. "If you were to put a gun to the head of most Dems, they couldn't tell you who their state chairman is," says one Colorado insider. "But they all know about these millionaires--each is like a mini-George Soros for Colorado.

"The mini-Soroses of Colorado aren't merely dabbling in elections--they're building a permanent infrastructure. "We are finally realizing that how we win is by creating an environment of fear and respect," boasted Gill adviser Ted Trimpa--described by one politico as "the Karl Rove of Colorado"--to the Bay Area Reporter, a gay newspaper in San Francisco earlier this year.

They've established several websites, including ColoradoPols.com, that have started to shape political coverage in the state. "I can't tell you how often reporters would call 36 hours after something appeared there," says Owens. They've also founded Colorado Media Matters, an offshoot of David Brock's national group of left-wing watchdogs. It currently employs about a dozen people. "That's more media critics than there are in the rest of the Colorado media combined," says David Kopel of the Independence Institute. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a liberal group that tries to publicize GOP scandals both real and fake, has a Colorado field office as well. Gill would even like to influence the GOP: He hired former Owens staffer and conservative-movement veteran Sean Duffy to work on the domestic-partnership referendum, and convinced Patrick Guerriero to resign as head of the Log Cabin Republicans in order to run the Gill Action Fund.


Potentially more important is Gill's determination to export the Colorado model. "If I can make a difference in Colorado, you can make a difference in your home state," he said earlier this year in Miami, at a meeting of financial heavyweights in the gay-rights movement, according to the Rocky Mtn News. To liberals, that may sound like a hope. Conservatives should hear it as a threat.

Lefty 527s include "Coloradoans for Life" and "Clear Peak Colorado."

The essay repeats without support onen allegation, unproven as far as I know, that coloradopols.com is funded by Gill, Polis, and others. This allegation made the light of day over a year ago, from Hans Gullickson of the Colorado GOP.

Tim Gill is a rather unimaginative chap. He believes "Nothing can compare to the psychological trauma of realizing that more than half the people in your state believe that you don't deserve equal rights." Apparently political finance is his therapeutic method of choice. Gill himself dumped millions into the 2006 ballot initiatives, one against Amendment 43, which was a successful anti-homosexual marriage proposition, and in favor of Referendum I, which was a failed and poorly written homosexual domestic partnership initiative.

He's also been busy in many other areas. I find via the Gill Foundation's Annual Report of 2005, that he has funded various endeavors.

Some academic grants caught my eye:
Chicago Theological Seminary $ 185,000; University of Denver/Colorado Seminary $16,000

Under Arts grants are listed the United Church of Christ, $25,000; University of Denver/Colorado Seminary $25,000; Colorado Council of Churches, $15,000

Under broadcasting we find the United Methodist Church of Estes Park which received $5,000

What particularly caught my eye was a $12,000 grant for the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado. The organization endorsed its patron's favored Referendum I, and apparently condemned the marriage amendment.

Its president is Sister Maureen McCormack, a Catholic nun of the Sisters of Loretto in Englewood. Some of her sisters recently made some noise exposing their dubious relationship with Christian orthodoxy, already known to local Catholics.

Finally, in the course of researching this post I have learned that somebody attached my home parish's name to a list of Colorado churches supporting homosexual rights. This is quite false, but I think I know how this got started. Some parish apparatchiks published an endorsement of gay rights initiatives in the Sunday bulletin. They were rebuked by the pastor, who now has even more work to do. In addition to his other duties, he must make sure there aren't opportunistic hypocrites using parish bulletin space(and thus parish funding) to subvert Church teaching and the common good of society.

Several other Catholic parishes were included here, which suggests there is an organized opposition, probably Dignity/Denver, trying to co-opt local "liberal" parishes.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

"Fusionism" as Dysfunctional Marriage

Mr. Lindsey offers many excellent reasons not only for why libertarians should switch "sides" to join with their historic benefactors on the left but also why conservatives would have to be something very close to mad to keep wanting to appease and satisfy people who are fundamentally hostile to most of the things they actually wish to conserve. If fusionism were a marriage and you are playing the part of the traditionalist, the libertarian would be rather like the spouse who burns down the house, commits adultery and occasionally tries to run you down with the car, all the while continually threatening to leave you. "You’ll never find anyone else like me!" the spouse screams at you, which is fortunately true. To this the traditional traditionalist response has been, "Oh, no, please don’t go! We can work it out!"
-Daniel Larison

Monday, December 04, 2006

Bishop Loverde Against Pornocracy

Bishop Paul S. Loverde of Arlington has penned a masterful pastoral letter against pornography, Bought With a Price: Pornography and the Attack on the Living Temple of God

He pulls no punches:
Public officials have a responsibility to uphold and ennoble the standards of the communities which they serve. Protecting a billion dollar criminal enterprise which destroys the lives of both those depicted in pornography and those intended as audience through the excuse of protecting free speech is not service, but complicity. Public officials must work tirelessly to pass and enforce laws that contribute to a culture that respects the lives of all citizens.

This criminal enterprise known as the pornography industry is a crime against the helpless and the disaffected on whom it preys and an affront to a civilized populace. The continued toleration of this insidious toxic poison which hides itself under the guise of freedom of speech and freedom of conscience is contributing to the debasement of our culture and the victimization of our own children.

Free citizens have the right and the responsibility to form a culture that supports the life and the dignity and nobility of every person. Citizens should unite to demand laws which place reasonable restrictions on the depiction of the human body and human intimacy.

Where the pornographic mentality has invaded even mainstream media - and certainly, what is now offered on cable and even broadcast television increasingly approaches pornographic content, citizens must demand that public officials whose service is to regulate such media take immediate and effective action. Contrary to the self-serving defense of some media outlets, such actions are not censorship, but rather the demand for an end to the exploitation of persons and the degredation of public morality.


I turn with particular concern to my young brothers and sisters in Christ. I fear that the full burden of our culture's surrender to pornography will fall on your shoulders, both now and in years to come. Not only have you been targeted by this criminal enterprise as a source of financial gain, but you also have to endure the impoverished notion of intimacy that results from a culture that has confused love with self-gratification. Know first that God has destined you for a true and fully human love that finds its center not in manipulating others but in sharing and flourishing in a communion with your beloved.


The Beatitude's second part describes the reward for the pure of heart: they shall see God. Every Beatitude expresses some aspect of heaven - in this case, the vision of God. To "see God" has, first of all, a metaphorical meaning. It refers to the knowledge of God, the ability to "see" Him intellectually. Yet to "see God" or to possess the "vision of God" is not only an analogy of heaven. Rather, it has a profound literal sense as well. Because the human body will be raised on the last day, the just will literally "see" God with their own eyes. As such, to "see God" describes the ultimate longing of every human heart and the final purpose of human sight.

I'm moved to find this letter printed in a convenient pamphlet form and stock it in the parish literature.

Also of note, the paper of the Diocese of Colorado Springs recently featured a special section on the harm of porn and the avenues to recover from its effects.

Rev. Terry Specht notes in the comments: Copies of the Pastoral can be ordered from the Office of Communications at the Arlington Diocese. Please contact s.johnson@arlingtondiocese.org or communications@arlingtondiocese.org. I believe the cost of the letter (which is rather large) is $1.00/copy. There will also be short pamphlets with excerpts from the letter for couples and young people. These will cost considerably less.
Stephen Bainbridge discusses corporate chaplains

Populism, Perverted

But then the populist persuasion began to undergo a near fatal mutation from which it has yet to recover. In 1964, George Wallace took to the national stage burnishing familiar credentials by blasting "eastern money interests" and "bearded bureaucrats." But he tweaked the old formula by refocusing "us versus them" to segregation’s advantage: his little guy was white. By the time Wallace left the party—taking 10 million votes with him—he had translated populism from economic to social terms, breaking Democrats’ grip on working-class whites in the process. Toiling in the civil-rights vineyard, the Left anticipated a replacement constituency even as they too redefined roles—in reverse. Those on the lower rungs of the economic ladder previously designated "the people" were now cast as "the powerful" because of the color of their skin.
-Kara Hopkins, Return of the Native

Gerard Bradley on the Common Goods of Common Concepts

The Notre Dame School of Law's Professor Gerard V. Bradley spoke at the Archdiocese of Denver's Respect Life Conference on October 28, 2006. Alas, I'm only now getting around to recording my notes. Bradley discussed the interplay between law and culture, especially the legal regime instituted by Roe v. Wade.

He said that two of the most vital questions of law and life are: "Who is my neighbor"? To whom do I owe justice?

The idea of equality goes out the window if one manipulates who counts as equal. everyone gets treated equally, but we get to decide who "everyone" is.

Bradley spoke of Roe "cutting people off from society" because they inhibit the flourishing of the community. With consistency, he also noted that Thomas Aquinas made a similar argument for the death penalty, saying
For this reason we observe that if the health of the whole body demands the excision of a member, through its being decayed or infectious to the other members, it will be both praiseworthy and advantageous to have it cut away. Now every individual person is compared to the whole community, as part to whole. Therefore if a man be dangerous and infectious to the community, on account of some sin, it is praiseworthy and advantageous that he be killed in order to safeguard the common good, since "a little leaven corrupteth the whole lump"

Bradley also noted the necessity of abortion to the success of feminism in the workplace. He pointed out that the Supreme Court reasoned against overturning Roe v. Wade precisely because it would hinder women's equaltiy:
The Roe rule's limitation on state power could not be repudiated without serious inequity to people who, for two decades of economic and social developments, have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail. The ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.
-Planned Parenthood vs. Casey

Bradley held that the question "when do people begin?" should be same question as "When do people begin for purposes of legal protection?" The dualism between legal persons and real persons is ultimately pernicious, enabling the subjection of the weak to the strong.

His most insightful commentary came, I believe, when he examined how common conceptions can be common goods. He concentrated on marriage and the impact of its changing definition over time:

Think, for example, of what happened about forty years ago, about '65-'70. If you can remember that long ago, you know that there was a revolution in American law. It was called the "No Fault Divorce" revolution. In the space of literally about six years, we went from a national pattern of divorce only for fault(abandonment, adultery, cruelty mental or physical). It probably was true that you had what amounts to a mutually agreeable divorce, where one or the other party, probably the husband, would lie in court and admit some abuse that didn't really happen.

Be that as it may, the law was divorce only for fault. Within about seven years or so, that was just gone.
Now think about that.

Even those people after this revolution--if you have kids or grandkids who are twenty today, how hard is it for them to come to actually believe and stand with the proposition of the faith "Marriage is permanent." The law changes rapidly, divorce becomes more common, divorce is nobody's fault, and it's OK for the kids too, we told ourselves.
Now it's a pattern. It's not as if the law is making anyone get a divorce, but the understanding that marriage is not permanent, not unconditional, that understanding is now our common property.

The debate about same-sex marriage is a similar kind of thing. People who are advocates of same-sex marriage say, "you don't have to marry the same sex, just let others."

What's at stake in that debate is whether marriage will have a definitional standing in our legal culture, of having any necessary relationship with kids. When you say men can marry men, women can marry women, a man can marry a woman too, but they'll all be married. That means they'll all get involved with marriage, and given what we do know, that a lesbian couple and a gay couple can't have children of their own, that means marriage is no longer intrinsically, that is, necessarily, about children. That's what's at stake in the same-sex marriage debate. That's the part of it that affects all of us.
I fear that I give this same presentation twenty years from now, my example won't be divorce, but kids and marriage. I'll say to you then, think about your kids or grandkids who are twenty-two. Do they understand that marriage is a procreative relationship? A conjugal union?

They might grow up in a society in which people grow up and get married, and it's clear that not only because of same-sex marriage but for other reasons too, that kids really are optional. Some parents do it, some don't, it's for them to judge, it's what they want.

Now that's what affects all of us. Make the legal change, you change the definition of marriage in law--divorce, kids, same-sex marriage--that becomes a common cultural property before long.

Bradley also critiqued a few strategies for reducing abortion.

First is the school which says "Change the culture; then the law, educate, then legislate." This attitude, as well as the view adovcating the opposite order, suffers from a chicken-egg problem, thinking it has to be one first, then the other.

"We have to educate, change the culture, and attack the root causes of abortion" goes a pro-choice, and even some pro-life arguments.

But what are the root cause of unwanted pregnancies?

Not fornication, nor even a lack of personal responsibility

Rather, the root cause of abortion demand is people who have sexual relations, but nonetheless have no interest in having children.

Bradley also held that the idea that pregnancies, as things go, are either wanted or unwanted, is also a root cause. To think that pregnancies are called into being, and a pregnancy not consciously called into being is therefore terminable, is at last to think against humanity. Children are "begotten, not made," unexpected and undesigned gifts rather than simply extensions of adult plans.

Bradley, himself a father, referred to his own life: "I have eight kids. Let's put it this way: I'm not so sure the kids I have are the kids I wanted." The habit of pregnancy at-will cannot be sustained without compromising the nature of parenthood and unconditional love.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Were you there when they Marketed My Lord?

Were you there when they marketed my Lord?

by Kevin J. Jones

Were you there when they marketed my Lord?
Were you there when they marketed my Lord?
Oh sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they marketed my Lord?

Were you there when they focus-grouped His Word?
Were you there when they focus-grouped His Word?
Oh sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they focus-grouped His Word?

Were you there when they rewrote His True Life?
Were you there when they rewrote His True Life?
Oh sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they rewrote His True Life?

Were you there when they mammonized His Birth?
Were you there when they mammonized His Birth?
Oh sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they mammonized His Birth?

Were you there when they marketed my Lord?
Were you there when they marketed my Lord?
Oh sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they marketed my Lord?

My accolades to the anonymous artists who wrote the original. I hope these new lyrics are not themselves a manifestation of the culture of irreverent relevance.

This has been percolating in my mind for some time, but the impious Hyundai commercial that changed "We wish you a Merry Christmas!" to "We wish you a happy Hyundais" prompted me to set it down. [Correction: It was actually Honda.]

I think it is quite applicable to pop-theology "The Real Historical Jesus" articles penned every Advent in Time and Newsweek to sell badly-written books by the Jesus Seminar.

Originally posted 11/28/05
His Orotundity George Will turns Miss Manners on senator-elect James Webb's alleged boorishness in the presence of the President.
"Never mind the patent disrespect for the presidency."

Provided one is not in the military or an employee of the executive branch, patent disrespect for the presidency should be the default position.
"In a republic, people decline to be led by leaders who are insufferably full of themselves."

This had me in stitches. Doesn't this sound more like a line from Christopher Buckley than George Will? Self-aggrandisment is a prerequisite for office.

Of course, the laughter dies quickly. To invoke the republic is to mourn its loss.

Gene Healy reacted to many of the same lines, and Daniel Larison comments further.