Thursday, August 25, 2016

Msgr Charles Pope: Comfort Catholicism Has to Go; It is Time to Prepare for Persecution

There is a growing consternation among some Catholics that the Church, at least in her leadership, is living in the past. It seems there is no awareness that we are at war and that Catholics need to be summoned to sobriety, increasing separation from the wider culture, courageous witness and increasing martyrdom.

It is long past dark in our culture, but in most parishes and dioceses it is business as usual and there is anything but the sober alarm that is really necessary in times like these.

Scripture says, Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle (Psalm 144:1). Preparing people for war — a moral and spiritual war, not a shooting war — should include a clear setting forth of the errors of our time, and a clear and loving application of the truth to error and light to darkness.

But there is little such training evident in Catholic circles today where, in the average parish, there exists a sort of shy and quiet atmosphere — a fear of addressing “controversial” issues lest someone be offended, or the parish be perceived as “unwelcoming.”

But, if there ever was a time to wear soft garments, it is not now.

The Church of the 1970s-1990s was surely well described as the era of “beige Catholicism” (a term coined by Bishop Robert Barron, and not by way of flattery either). Those of us who lived through that era, especially in the 1970s, remember it as a time when many parish signs beckoned people to “come and experience our welcoming and warm Catholic community.” Our most evident desire was to fit in and be thought of as “normal.” Yes, Catholics were just like everyone else; and we had been working very hard to do that, at least since the early 1960s when John F. Kennedy was elected. Catholics had finally “made it” into the mainstream; we had been accepted by the culture.

Church architecture and interiors became minimalist and non-descript. Music and language in the liturgy became folksy. Marian processions, Corpus Christi processions, many things of distinctive and colorful Catholicism all but disappeared. Even our crucifixes disappeared, to be replaced by floating “resurrection Jesus” images. The emphasis was on blending in, speaking to things that made people feel comfortable, and affirming rather than challenging. If there was to be any challenge at all it would be on “safe” exhortations such as not abusing the environment or polluting, not judging or being intolerant, and so forth.

Again, if there ever was a time to wear soft garments, it is not now. It is zero-dark-thirty in our post-Christian culture. And while we may wish to blame any number of factors for the collapse, we cannot exclude ourselves. We who are supposed to be the light of the world, with Christ shining in us, have preferred to hide our light under a basket and lay low. The ruins of our families and culture are testimony to the triumph of error and the suppression of the truth.

Read the rest here.

I think this is an excellent article with many points that can be applied by non-Catholics.

French support for the EU crumbles on the Left and Right

The drama of Brexit may soon be matched or eclipsed by crystallizing events in France, where the Long Slump is at last taking its political toll.

A democracy can endure deflation policies for only so long. The attrition has wasted the French centre-right and the centre-left by turns, and now threatens the Fifth Republic itself.

The maturing crisis has echoes of 1936, when the French people tired of 'deflation decrees' and turned to the once unthinkable Front Populaire, smashing what remained of the Gold Standard.
Former Gaulliste president Nicolas Sarkozy has caught the headlines this week, launching a come-back bid with a package of hard-Right policies unseen in a western European democracy in modern times.

But the uproar on the Left is just as revealing. Arnaud Montebourg, the enfant terrible of the Socialist movement, has launched his own bid for the Socialist Party with a critique of such ferocity that it bears examination.

Read the rest here.

University of Chicago Affirms Freedom of Speech and Thought

Incoming first-years received a letter from the College today making clear that the University of Chicago does not condone safe spaces or trigger warnings.

“Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called ‘trigger warnings,’ we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own,” reads the letter from Dean of Students Jay Ellison.

In May, Student Government (SG) passed on an opportunity to reaffirm the University’s commitment to free speech when members voted to indefinitely table a resolution that would have condemned any student who “obstructs or disrupts” free speech.

The resolution, which was presented to SG by the president of the College Republicans club, second-year Matthew Foldi, came in the wake of three high-profile incidents in which speakers invited to campus were shut down or interrupted by protesters.

Read the rest here.

A breath of fresh air from the ivory tower which has become little more than a network of left-wing re-education camps in recent years.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Gay Anglican clergy to defy church's official stance on same-sex marriage

A group of gay Church of England clergy are set to reveal that they have married their partners, defying the official line taken by church leaders on same-sex marriage.

A dozen gay ministers are to sign an open letter that also urges the church to allow clergy to carry out blessings for parishioners entering into same-sex marriages.

Half the signatories have already declared themselves to be in a gay marriage, including Andrew Foreshew-Cain, who was one of the first priests to openly defy the ruling.

The letter is likely to reignite the heated debate on the issue, which has divided the church since same-sex marriages were legalised in England and Wales in March 2014.

Following the change in the law, church leaders, headed by the archbishops of Canterbury and York, Justin Welby and John Sentamu respectively, decided that clergy must not enter into a same-sex marriage and that those in a gay marriage would not be ordained.

While canon Jeremy Pemberton had his permission to officiate revoked after marrying his partner in April 2014, Foreshew-Cain was not removed from his post as vicar of two churches in north London after openly marrying his partner, Stephen Foreshew in June 2014.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Germany to Revive Civil Defense

Germany will introduce its first civil defence strategy since the end of the Cold War, calling on the population to stockpile enough food and water for several days, according to a report Sunday.

The plan, which makes civilian backing of troops a priority while boosting the resilience of buildings and increasing capacity in the healthcare system, is due to be adopted by the government Wednesday, according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) daily.

Contacted by AFP, an interior ministry spokesman confirmed that the cabinet was due to adopt a civil defence strategy but declined details about the concept or comment on the newspaper report.

The strategy noted that "an attack on German territory requiring conventional defence is unlikely," but said the country should be "sufficiently prepared in case of an existence-threatening development in the future that cannot be ruled out," according to the 69-page strategy quoted by the FAZ ..

"The population will be encouraged to stockpile food for ten days," it said, adding that five days' worth of water -- at an estimated two litres per person per day -- should also be set aside.

Read the rest here.

When is the last time this country paid even lip service to the idea of civil defense? The risk today is less global thermonuclear war, where civil defense would probably not help the vast majority of our population, but rather attack by terrorists or a rogue state that decides to set off a dirty bomb or figures out how to lob one or two missiles with an atom bomb onto our soil. The loss of life from fallout could easily equal or exceed that from the bomb(s). They used to designate certain buildings as emergency shelters and require food and water to be stockpiled in them. I am not sure that has been done since the 1980's. We are woefully unprepared for this kind of disaster.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Update

I am still traveling so blog posts will continue to be sparse for another week or so. In the meantime I invite the reader to peruse the sidebar where you will find many blogs and websites that might be of interest.

Monday, August 15, 2016

ELCA approves Lutheran-Catholic ecumenical document

​NEW ORLEANS (Aug.10, 2016) – The 2016 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Churchwide Assembly took several significant steps Wednesday moving forward the mission of this church as a church for the sake of the world.

By a vote of 931 to 9, the assembly overwhelmingly accepted the "Declaration on the Way," a unique ecumenical document that marks a path toward greater unity between Catholics and Lutherans. Following the vote, an emotional assembly stood to applaud the momentous decision.

At the heart of the document are 32 "Statements of Agreement" that state where Lutherans and Catholics do not have church-dividing differences on topics about church, ministry and the Eucharist. More tentatively, the document also explores differences that remain.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Michael Phelps Wins (another) Gold Medal

OK, excepting the great American pastime, I'm not the world's biggest sports fan. And to my mind swimming pools are for lounging around on a hot day with while sipping your favorite liquid refreshment. But come on! Twenty one gold medals? That's insane. This guy is to swimming what Babe Ruth was to baseball. Like Ruth, many of his records may fall over time, but not all at once and not to one swimmer. He is quite simply the best in his field.

Friday, August 05, 2016

On the road again

I will be traveling over the next few weeks. Blog posts may be somewhat sparse during this period.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Donald Trump asks foreign policy expert 'Why can't we use nukes?'

Details.

Obama is right. (That is the first and probably the last time you will see that sentence on this blog.) Donald Trump is both intellectually and temperamentally disqualified from the Presidency of the United States. I am starting to consider a a course of action that six months ago I would have dismissed as evidence of mental illness or moral bankruptcy.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

First Mass in the Krak des Chevaliers in 745 Years

Fr. Z has the story and some video. A truly remarkable event and it was gratifying to see that the Mass was celebrated using the Traditional Roman Rite.

The Scale of Turkey’s Purge Is Nearly Unprecedented

Only rarely in modern history has a leader detained and fired as many perceived adversaries as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has since a failed coup attempt last month. Here is how Mr. Erdogan’s vast purge would look if Americans were targeted at a similar scale.

Almost 9,000 police officers fired
Like firing every police officer
in Philadelphia, Dallas,
Detroit, Boston and Baltimore.
The Interior Ministry fired the police officers, some of whom government officials said had supported the coup attempt. Turkish officials have acknowledged that the number of people targeted in the purge is probably much greater than the number of conspirators.

21,000 private school teachers suspended
Like revoking the licenses of every
third teacher in private elementary and
high schools across the United States.
In addition to the teachers suspended, the government intends to close more than 1,000 private schools it linked to Fethullah Gulen, a cleric who the government said was the mastermind of the coup attempt. (Mr. Gulen has denied this, and his level of involvement remains unclear.) Followers of Mr. Gulen have sought to gain power within Turkey by infiltrating state institutions, often successfully.
Education officials said they planned to convert the schools into public schools and hire 40,000 new teachers.

10,012 soldiers detained
Like taking nearly every fourth
officer in the U.S. Army into custody.
The military, which has long been a unifying force for the country, is now deeply divided, diminished and discredited. A rebel faction of the military initiated the coup attempt.
Since then, nearly half of the top generals and admirals have been jailed or dismissed and more than 5,000 army officials have been sent to pretrial detention.

Read the rest here.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Memory Eternal

Queen Anne of Romania has reposed.

The Habsburgs, a Reconsideration

The Habsburg Monarchy has long been seen as an outdated empire doomed to fail. To the Central European societies it sheltered before 1914, it may have had a cosy charm, but as a dynastic empire among nation-states, critics and historians deemed Austria an anachronism. Nineteenth-century liberals judged the Habsburgs for ruling a prison of peoples and siding with fellow despots. William Gladstone, the British prime minister who epitomized liberal moralism, called Austria “the unflinching foe of freedom in every country of Europe.” Never and nowhere, he insisted, could it be said that “here Austria did good.” Those charges defined narrative even before the Habsburg Empire collapsed amidst the catastrophe of World War I.

Historical perspective and a wealth of detailed scholarship, along with intervening events over a brutal twentieth century, force a reassessment. The Habsburg Monarchy was more effective and popular than critics allowed. If doomed by internal contradictions, what made it last so long? How could a backward, repressive order have fostered the flourishing and diverse culture of Mitteleuropa? Why did it inspire such loyalty until the very end? Empire provided a unifying force as eighteenth-century Habsburgs sought to consolidate their disparate territories into a coherent state. Those top-down efforts created loyalties and institutions—including a conception of citizenship and state power limited by law—that made space for bottom-up responses within an emergent civil society. The world those interactions created requires a new approach to be understood on its own terms.

Read the rest here.

Memory Eternal

Please remember in your prayers the servant of God William, my Godfather, who reposed two years ago today. He is deeply missed.

May his memory be eternal.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

On Anglican Orders

Fr. Hunwicke has written something important on the subject of Anglican Holy Orders. I have made a few, though far less erudite, noises of a similar nature in the past. Read his post here.

P.S. It goes without saying that the Orthodox Church does not recognize Anglican Orders, though for different and somewhat less complicated reasons.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Democratic Conventions Odd inter-Faith Religious Service

Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s resignation and being booed down at a breakfast of her state’s delegation was not an official event at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this week, although given the coverage of the latest Hillary-related e-mail scandal, you could be forgiven for thinking it was.

What was one of the Dem confab’s first official events got little or no coverage. And it symbolized all that is bewildering about the Party’s approach to religion vis-à-vis the public square.

The event in question was the “Interfaith Service of Prayer for the Nation” held at Philly’s cathedral, the Basilica of Ss. Peter and Paul. Planning for the event began in February by the Philadelphia Liturgical Institute, at the request and on behalf of the DNC.

The prayer service was … odd.

This was not because of anything that happened at it. The service itself was fine and actually quite lovely. It featured beautiful music. The service of readings was fitting and even inspiring.

Cathedral rector Father G. Dennis Gill gave an inspiring sermon in which he said our nation’s foundational documents are very clear about how the country is founded on the power and presence of God. Then he looked at our national situation today, which reminds us, he asserted, of a need for us to once again rely on that power and presence so that God’s ways are our ways. One of the ways we can do that is to pray, he noted, and also support each other in whatever works we can do.

All well and good.

What was odd was this.

The DNC specifically requested that a prayer service be held on the convention’s first day. It was to take place at the cathedral because of its proximity to the delegates’ hotels and the Convention Center, where many of the day’s official events took place (the televised evening events took place at the Wells Fargo Center, home to the 76ers and Flyers sports teams).

And yet on the convention website listing the day’s official events, it wasn’t listed. The meeting of the DNC’s Faith Council was listed and at a time conflicting with the interfaith prayer service.

And so it should not surprise that the event drew such a small crowd. (See picture.) It was hard to tell who were delegates (I’ll assume the woman with the stylish American flag scarf was one) and who attended just because. Several DNC volunteers were evident by their bright blue T-shirts proclaiming, “ASK ME.”

But there was not one Democrat bigwig. No Nancy “I’m a devout, practicing Catholic” Pelosi. No Donna Brazile (a fellow Catholic whom I love, despite our differences).

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Quote of the day...

"We denounce arbitrary interference by Federal authorities in local affairs as a violation of the Constitution of the United States and a crime against free institutions, and we especially object to government by injunction as a new and highly dangerous form of oppression by which Federal judges in contempt of the laws of the states and rights of citizens, become at once legislators, judges and executioners..."

-A plank from the platform of the Democratic Party Convention (1896).

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Political Agreement in an Election Year?

It's pretty astonishing, but the two parties actually agree on something, and IMO it's actually a very good idea. Both the Democratic and GOP platforms call for the reintroduction of the Glass Steagall Act as a sign of a strong (and rare) bi-partisan consensus that Wall Street's big banks are out of control.

Details.

It's been a while since I've said it, but do remember that banks are the enemy.

French Priest Murdered by ISIS in Church

Details.

Memory eternal!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Report: Beatings Torture Sexual Abuse and Lynchings in Post Coup Turkish Purges

Following the attempted coup in July 15, upon the calls of mosques all across Turkey and of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and PM Binali Yildirim to the Turkish people “to take to the streets and airports,” pro-government Islamists started hunting Turkish soldiers – their own soldiers – in the streets, beating, torturing, lynching them.

Torture and beatings of surrendering soldiers continued at police stations, too.

In a disturbing video published on social media and some Turkish newspapers, a police officer threatens a soldier with raping his 10-months-old baby.

The police officer asks a beaten and handcuffed soldier: “Do you have a child?” The soldier responds: “Yes, 10-months-old.”
The police says: “Do you want me to fuck her? I will bring her here. You can’t handle the police. Traitor!”

In another video shared on social media, soldiers are seen brutally tortured and beaten by police who continually insult and swear at them.

More videos and picture can be seen of a lynched soldier surrounded by a mob;  another lynching attempt, soldiers allegedly tortured in a mosque , Islamist crowds beating soldiers with their belts and trying to throw them off a bridge in Istanbul and a mob screaming “Allahu akbar” on the tanks.

Read the rest here.

Caution: Some of the content at the linked sites is graphic.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Debbie Wasserman Schultz Sued for Rigging Primaries - Update: DWS Resigns amid growing scandal

On June 28, the Miami-based law firm Beck & Lee filed a class action lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee and DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

“There are essentially six legal claims we are asserting in this lawsuit on behalf of the composed class members,” said attorney Jared Beck in a YouTube video announcing the lawsuit. “The first is a claim for fraud—against the DNC and Debbie Wasserman Schultz—based on the revelations from the recent Guccifer 2.0 documents purportedly taken from the DNC’s own computer network.” The Guccifer 2.0 documents include internal memos in which the DNC broke legally binding neutrality agreements in the Democratic primaries by strategizing to make Hillary Clinton the nominee before a single vote was cast.

The second claim filed is for negligent misrepresentation, a legal theory based on the first claim of fraud. The third claim alleges the DNC and Wasserman Schultz participated in deceptive conduct in claiming the DNC was neutral during the Democratic primaries, when there is overwhelming evidence suggesting favoritism of Clinton from the beginning. The fourth claim of the lawsuit seeks retribution of any monetary donations the DNC to Bernie Sanders‘ campaign. The fifth claim alleges the DNC broke its fiduciary duties during the Democratic primaries to members of the Democratic Party by not holding a fair election process. The sixth claim is for negligence on behalf of the DNC—for not protecting donor information—as hackers broke into the DNC networks, potentially compromising their personal information.

Read the rest here.

Please note that this legal action occurred weeks before the release of DNC's emails.

Update: DWS quits over growing email scandal

Saturday, July 23, 2016

And now for some really good news...

The Episcopal Divinity School of Massachusetts is going out of business. If this isn't the most heretical "seminary" in the United States (and it may be), it's damned close. Rod Dreher is practically doing a victory dance, and I don't blame him. Good news in the religion department has been a bit thin on the ground of late.

Oh my...

I'm not touching this one. Go here to comment.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Scandal: Wikileaks Publishes Near 20,000 DNC Emails

A few highlights uncovered so far (it's early yet)...

Plotting to expose Bernie as an atheist.

Constructing an anti-Bernie narrative.

Vetting BLM activist as official surrogates.

I think the Democrats may have just lost control of the narrative during their convention.

Search the emails here.

Trump's Speech: My first impressions


It was vintage Trump with lots of red meat for the party base. He excoriated Hillary Clinton while painting a picture of the state of the country that at times seemed unrealistically grim. Yeah we have problems, but there were moments when I felt like I was just discovering I live in a third world country. The speech was long on the dark vision of a lawless society with Clinton as the co-author of American decline both at home and abroad. It also presented Trump in a very personal way as the man who is going to fix things.

It has been suggested that inspiration was drawn from the angry acceptance speeches of Richard Nixon in 1968 and Ronald Reagan in 1980. Further it's worth noting that both of those men won. The lesson here is that the party out of power needs to explain why the party in power has made a hash out of things and therefore needs to be shown the door.

The highlights to my mind were the emotional moments when he spoke with what I thought was genuine feeling for families who had been the victims of violent crimes (committed of course by illegal immigrants), and his brutal dig at Clinton ('I've met with these people, you can bet Hillary won't.'). I particularly liked his shout out to the victims of the horrific night club massacre in Orlando. I don't think that would have happened in any earlier GOP conventions. Reasonable people can disagree on the morality of certain lifestyle choices, but no one has a right to hurt and or kill other people over such differences. His remarks on that topic really came across as just right, i.e. he raised the subject without belaboring it, and again, heartfelt.

Beyond that the speech was light on details, i.e. exactly how was he gong to deliver on all of these promises. Again that's OK. This was not a policy address at Harvard. A convention speech is an exercise in the art of political theater. Emphasis on vision is normal on such occasions. 

On to the mechanics. It was a speech delivered with the aid of teleprompters, and therefor a more formal address than what Trump is used to. They definitely helped to keep him from straying all over the place as he is want to do in his more customary off the cuff stump speeches. And he seemed more sober and on message than usual. But clearly this is not a form of address he is used to or comfortable with. At times he seemed to be struggling with the flow and the result was that he sounded like he was shouting during much of the speech.

There were also a number of pauses that really dragged on which in turn contributed to the one really serious failure, it was too long. A good public speaker knows that you have about 45 minutes in any formal address where you can reasonably expect the undivided attention of your audience. Once you start moving past that people are going to start to drift. Once you move past an hour, people are going to start wondering if you are ever going to shut up. This speech clocked in at just under an hour and fifteen minutes, the longest such address in forty or more years according to the talking heads.

So what do I think overall?

As an acceptance speech by a presidential candidate and the one address likely to be watched by millions of otherwise politically uninterested people I thought it was good to very good. Trump pushed pretty much all the buttons he needed to and at times he came across as quite sincere and empathetic in his desire to help the struggling people of our third world country.

On a scale of five, I give it four stars. The fifth was lost due primarily to the length. It started off strong and mostly stayed there. But once he went over the one hour mark, all I wanted was for him to wrap it up already.

P.S. Did it change my mind? Am I going to vote for him? No. The presidency is not an entry level position and I still think he lacks the temperament as well as the grasp of policy for the job. But it was still a good speech. One of the better ones I've heard.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Ted Cruz pours gasoline on himself and strikes a match

Wow! I don't think I have ever seen a major political figure fall so far, so fast, and then turn around and commit political suicide on prime time national television.

Long time blog readers will know that I am no fan of the Donald for a variety of reasons. So given what passed between the two during an exceptionally rough campaign season I can absolutely forgive Ted for not endorsing Trump. There are more than a few stars in the GOP orbit who are maintaining a discreet silence and staying away from the convention.

But you don't accept an invitation to deliver a prime time address at the national convention, and then use it to directly undercut your party's nominee. This was not just bad form. It was dishonorable. There are a lot of political sins that can be forgiven with the passage of time and other factors. Gross disloyalty, some are calling it calculated treachery, is not generally one of them.

Cruz has two years left in his term as a US Senator. No, I don't think it's too early to begin updating his resume.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Turkey

Whatever it was before the farce that has been described as an attempted coup, today it is clearly a dictatorship in all but name. The United States needs to start rethinking our relationship with that country. I am assuming EU membership no longer rates serious discussion. But Turkey is still part of NATO. Is this a country that Americans should be prepared to die for?

FREE SILVER AND CHEAP WHISKEY

A front page headline from the New York Tribune July 20, 1896. How I hate the modern world.