too strong?

Have you read Father Thomas J. Euteneuer's column this week? Whoa.
We must, as a matter of precept, pray for the salvation of heretical Catholics like Senator Edward Kennedy, but we do not have to praise him let alone extol him with the full honors of a public Catholic funeral and all the adulation that attends such an event. There was very little about Ted Kennedy's life that deserves admiration from a spiritual or moral point of view. He was probably the worst example of a Catholic statesman that one can think of. When all is said and done, he has distorted the concept of what it means to be a Catholic in public life more than anyone else in leadership today.
Beating back scandal is important, I suppose.



There's hope

India Arie:
You don't have to pay to smile
It doesn't cost a thing to laugh
You better thank God for that


The Catechism on immanetizing the Eschaton

Via Christopher Blosser:
#676 - The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the "intrinsically perverse" political form of a secular messianism.


for the funky

Check out Marc Ronson's CD version - it's awesome.


Modern liberalism (i.e. progressivism) is in practical consequence the attempt to enforce, using the machine of government, communal charity.

This effort has the unintended effect of increasing social isolation by making the commitment we have to one another something abstract, and therefore something easily ignored. Our responsibility for each other is passed on to our politicians, who take care of our responsibilities to the greater community for us - so that we can be "left alone".

I am opposed to this form of progressivism because I do not believe that the redistribution of wealth via the mechanism of democratically elected representatives is an effective way to ensure the basic demands of justice. Further I think this putatively well-intentioned desire to force the work of charity destroys the fabric and cohesion of our authentic communities by misappropriating the charitable motive (thanks Roger Scruton).

Is this an ideological point of view? I don't think so, but I would be interested in the thoughts of someone who thinks otherwise.


the presuppositions of happiness and the importance of the spirit and practice of liberty

A strong belief in free will is an essential component of happiness. We are free to choose good or evil; true happiness consists in choosing what is good. It follows that belief in determinism cannot produce true happiness. It is important that we work, as Catholics and other people of good will, to remind people of the true way to happiness, and to steer people away from thinking that they are helpless with respect to their state of soul.

Modern society and culture does its best to convince us we are nothing but automatons whose actions and condition in life are more or less nothing but the sum of the forces of nature and circumstance. This is a demoralizing, degrading, and depressing force that is mass produced by our society that is without (eschatological) hope.

To counter this culture of demoralization, we must cultivate an ethic of liberty, rightly understood. Liberty is a free gift given to all human persons that enables us to choose happiness despite the circumstances we find ourselves in. This capacity is something real, something concrete we find in our nature. I think our culture, by and large, has lost knowledge of this capacity for greatness - or perhaps we have given it up intentionally, having found its practical difficulties too much to bear. But our willful ignorance does not change the truth. We will only be happy when we choose the good, and this is only possible when we believe such a choice is possible in the first place.


what's foreign policy for?

Those who advocate “national greatness” American foreign policy (thinkers who came to be identified as neo-cons after 911) share quite a bit in common with their multilateral critics who argue that the United States should use global institutions to remake the world along the lines of their vision of a just society (we are the world). Both parties misunderstand human nature in that they fail to understand how different peoples are from one another. Both parties misunderstand the use and abuse of statecraft in that they believe that institutions rather than men will shape the course of history. But most importantly, both groups misunderstand the purpose of American foreign policy, namely that it is a means to the end of preserving the Republic. A Republic . . if you can keep it. . .a republic.
David Corbin at Republican101


great quote

"In order for human experience to bear fruit in our spiritual lives, it must lift us upward to God, not collapse downward in a celebration of ourselves." - David G. Bonagura, Jr.

Facts are Stubborn Things

In case you guys aren't regular readers of the White House blog (shame on you), or consistent viewers of the Glenn Beck Show (what else is there to watch?), here are some fun links to check out:

1. Meet Linda Douglass! As the communications director for the White House's Health Reform Office, she alerts the average, misinformed American that everything they have been told by their friends about universal health care is wrong. Don't read the DrudgeReport (she displays a headline that is FALSE); read whitehouse.gov/realitycheck/ for the real facts. Would the government lie to you? Of course not. But your friends would. In casual conversation, or in insidious chain emails. If you receive one, or your friend tells you something that is in direct contrast with what the F├╝hrer... uh President... has said, do the American thing and immediately write to flag@whitehouse.gov . As Linda says, they are doing their best to squelch any "rumors," but if you hear something "fishy"...do the American thing and report the treason to the White House. They'll handle it from there.

2. Glenn Beck respectfully mocks Linda Douglass! The clip really speaks for itself. Enjoy.

You know what, just to be safe, maybe I better email this whole post to flag@whitehouse.gov . I'd hate to spread rumors..even if those rumors do contain a few stubborn facts.

After all, treasonous exile to Siberia works wonders for one's literary career.


Faith and Feeling

Here is a useful bit of information I find very helpful to many people thinking about religion:
Faith is not some state of feeling we get ourselves into. It is much simpler than that. It is simply believing in God and therefore believing everything he has revealed - no matter how we feel. "God said it, so I believe it, and that settles it."

Feelings are influenced by external things, like fashions and fads, wind and weather, diet and digestion. But when God gives us the gift of faith, he gives it from within, from within our own free will.

The devil can influence our feelings, but he has no control over our faith.

We are not responsible for our (unfree) feelings, but we are responsible for our (free) faith.

Yet, though faith is not a feeling, it often produces feelings: of trust, peace, gratitude, and confidence, for instance. And faith can also be aided by feelings: for instance, when we feel trustful or grateful to someone, God or man, it is much easier for us to believe him than when we feel mistrustful or ungrateful.;

But even when we do not feel trustful or peaceful, we can still believe. Faith is not dependent on feelings. It is dependent on facts: divinely revealed facts.

- Peter Kreeft, Catholic Christianity
It is easy to reject something because we do not feel it to be true. Personally I can say there are many times when I do not feel something to be true; nevertheless, I know it is true because of faith, or conscience, or experience.

So what is one to do when faced with something that is supposedly divinely revealed but contradicts one's feelings, perhaps strong feelings? My suggestion is to try out what God says - take a leap, trust in God for a moment. Humbly submit yourself to God's will. See what happens.


Correct me if I'm wrong...

...but isn't the Democratic party the equality club (at least on their party banner)?

Then why does everyone just roll over and take it when the President and his motley crew claim that we need universal health care to level the playing field, but sorry, Grandma, you're past the age the government has set for "worthwhile" people? The Democrats determine whether or not unborn babies have "worth," they determine whether or not Grandma and Grandpa have "worth," they tell you whether or not your wheel-chair bound son with Cerebral Palsy has "worth," but they are the party of equality? You know what, Mr. President? If we're all equal, then why aren't you and your children and your illegal alien aunt going to be on the very same health care that you insist will solve all of America's problems? In fact, the health care plans of government officials will be privately run, won't they, Mr. President? Of course they will. Because who better than government officials to know how crappy things get when the government is involved?

Some more things to think about:

The father of the wheel-chair bound man with Cerebral Palsy talks with Megyn Kelly

The article he references
The article's main point? "Dr. Emanuel [could he be any more ironically named?] wants doctors to look beyond the needs of their patients and consider social justice, such as whether the money could be better spent on somebody else."

And finally, if you thought that at least the President must have a little compassion for Grandma...
OBAMA: I don't think that we can make judgments based on people's spirit. That would be a pretty subjective decision to be making. I think we have to have rules that say that we are going to provide good, quality care for all people. End-of-life care is one of the most difficult sets of decisions that we're going to have to make. But understand that those decisions are already being made in one way or another. If they're not being made under Medicare and Medicaid, they're being made by private insurers. At least we can let doctors know and your mom know that, you know what, maybe this isn't going to help. Maybe you're better off not having the surgery but taking the painkiller.

But in whose mind are you "better off," Mr. President? Isn't that another subjective decision? Or not, because you can quantify a person's monetary worth but not their spiritual worth?

Everything about this administration and this president disgusts me.


this should be circulated, at least so people know

Items that are in President Obama's health care bill:
Sec. 113, Pg. 21-22 of the Health Care (HC) Bill MANDATES a government audit of the books of ALL EMPLOYERS that self-insure in order to “ensure that the law does not provide incentives for small and mid-size employers to self-insure”!

• Sec. 122, Pg. 29, Lines 4-16 - Your health care will be rationed

• Sec. 123, Pg. 30 - There will be a government committee deciding what treatments
and benefits you get.

• Sec. 142, Pg. 42 - The Health Choices Commissioner will choose your benefits for you. You have no choice!

• Sec. 152, Pg. 50-51 - HC will be provided to ALL NON-US citizens.

• Sec. 163, Pg. 58-59 beginning at line 5 - Government will have real-time access to individual’s finances & a National ID health care card will be issued!

• Sec. 163, Pg. 59, Lines 21-24 - Government will have direct access to your bank accounts for electronic funds transfer.

• Sec. 164, Pg. 65 is a payoff subsidized plan for retirees and their families in unions & community organizations (ACORN).

• Sec. 201, Pg. 72, Lines 8-14 - Government is creating an HC Exchange to bring private plans under government control
Maybe it's worth distributing this around public locations in your local towns and cities. Via the Liberty Council


Divininizing one's political opinions

I've tried to give expression to this a few times before, but I thought I'd give it one more try this evening.

I think that the greatest danger for Catholics thinking about politics is the desire to anoint one's political opinions. By this I mean the temptation (or tendency) to argue that a personal prudential judgment about political (i.e. secular and sacred) matters is somehow part of revelation. I think this is the root of authoritarianism and I think it belies a ideological or closed-minded intellectual disposition.

This disposition stems from primarily from an inability to distinguish between principles and judgments. For Catholics, this distinction is very clearly defined. Principles are not, as some would have you believe, difficult to comprehend or nuanced. They are generally quite simple and can be understood with little effort. They are also authoritative assuming that they are true. Catholics are given authoritative confirmation that their moral principles are true by faith. Catholics are not, or should not be confused about principles.

Judgments about political reality are different. They require an assembly of moral principles and additionally facts about reality. In other words, we must understand both our principles and more difficultly, we must have true knowledge about present reality. Our knowledge of circumstances is always imperfect and flawed. It is clouded by our "filter", as Fr. Corapi would say, and is subject to our limited knowledge and also limited ability to assemble that knowledge into a conceptual whole. Our judgments about political reality can go wrong in failing to incorporate an applicable principle, or by applying faulty logic, or by being ignorant of what is the case, or some combination of these things.

This is perhaps a good time to express the danger I see as inherent in reading Catholic Social Teaching. Social Teaching is a combination of both moral political principles and political judgments. We need to be able to distinguish between these two types of ideas if we are to read Social Teaching correctly. If we see prudential judgments in an encyclical, we must be able to recognize them as such. If we see principles, we must understand them as principles. We should not elevate the status of judgment to principle.


what the belief in "progress" has wrought

WASHINGTON – The recession is starving the government of tax revenue, just as the president and Congress are piling a major expansion of health care and other programs on the nation's plate and struggling to find money to pay the tab.

The numbers could hardly be more stark: Tax receipts are on pace to drop 18 percent this year, the biggest single-year decline since the Great Depression, while the federal deficit balloons to a record $1.8 trillion.
This will all work out, though.


rightly critiquing liberalism

Professor Patrick Deneen of Georgetown is one of my favorite political thinkers. He does excellent work on defending authentic political (and apolitical) communities. There is a new lecture posted at ISI in which he uses the work of sociologist Robert Nisbet to render an extremely intelligent critique of liberalism, and offers remedies for its various maladies.

I can't summarize it here, so I will simply leave you with a strange fact that I did not know until I heard this lecture: the pledge of allegiance was written by a socialist.

Think of that!

Father Sirico on Caritas in Veritate

Writing in the Wall Street Journal:
Caritas in Veritate is a reminder that we cannot understand ourselves as a human community if we do not understand ourselves as something more than the sum or our material parts; if we do not understand our capacity for sin; and if we do not understand the principle of communion rooted in the gratuitousness of God's grace. Simply put, to this pope's mind, there is no just or moral system without just and moral people.
The persistent claim that this Priest is an ideologue is usually disproved by a simple reading of what he actually writes.