The Surveillance State

In this season of the “holidays,” it was announced several days ago that Fairfax County schools would be permitted to install video surveillance cameras in High Schools. Fairfax County is frequently lauded as being one of the best public school counties in the nation, but, as residents of the county, we receive regular updates of various assaults, thefts, “gang-banging” and near-riots taking place in the High Schools.

A civilization reveals its deepest commitments through its education – enculturation – of its young. We have whitewashed not only God and religion from the schools, but all questions of the Good in favor of a embrace of relativist toleration and non-judgmentalism, along with an ethic of entitlement, self-realization, and a utilitarian view of education. It has been argued since the beginning of the liberal era that the “bracketing” of questions of the Good would result in civil peace and toleration.

Instead – as Thomas Hobbes told us – we increasingly live within a surveillance State, an all-seeing Leviathan. In lieu of self-sustaining standards of respect, modesty, manners and maturity, we are surrounded by evidence of cultural pollution, social dissolution and irresponsibility. Into the breach fills the State to enforce by diktat what social decencies once governed.

This is the consequence of several centuries of the liberal vision of toleration and peace in place of God and Good – our children “surveilled” where instead they should be gaining deeper understanding and practices of adulthood and even the beginnings of wisdom. But, do not mention the name God or say “Merry Christmas” – that might cause discomfort. Better to turn our schools into panopticons, our children into inmates.
- Patrick Deneen


What do people think of "The Servile State"?

Wilhelmson in ISI, circa 1978:
But The Servile State still runs through edition after edition and men today still ponder the sobering thesis advanced by its writer: there is no liberty, political or social, unless there is economic liberty, which means the restoration of property, not paper property owned by usurers, but real property owned by proprietors, by men who in one fashion or another eat and drink their own. Nothing less is worth the dignity of Christian men.
I am currently overwhelmed by this book.



Can't Support Newt and Romney is Blahhhh

Two reasons I can't support Newt:
1. "Christian conservatives, in the toxic atmosphere of the culture wars, cannot afford to have as a public face a figure who for most of his adult life has shunned the virtues and ways of life that Christian conservatives want to advance in the public square. " Francis Beckwith, quoting Rod Dreher at The Catholic Thing

2. Intellectuals tend to make bad rulers, and Newt's record as Speaker of the House is not compelling evidence he refutes this stereotype.
And Romney, oh Romney.

I want to believe you, but I cannot. You've never been able to to persuasively articulate conservative ideas, and the analogy of business and business and government runs thin in my book. And Massachusetts is a big pile of poop thanks to policies you helped to implement.

Newt Gingrich has a PhD?

Who knew!


Letter from a Holy Priest to His Parish

... Dear Brothers and Sisters, I am writing this on Thursday, the 17th. It is the feast of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, the patroness of the Secular Franciscan Order. Even though there were proper readings for this feast I privately read the readings from the ordinary day. The first reading was from the Book of Maccabees (2:15-29), which is in the Catholic Bible. In this passage Mattathias is refusing to obey the evil king`s orders and he says,
"Although all the Gentiles in the king`s realm obey him, so that each forsakes the religion of his fathers and consents to the king`s orders, yet I and my sons and my kin will keep to the covenant of our fathers. God forbid that we should forsake the law and the commandments. We will not obey the words of the king nor depart from our religion in the slightest degree."
Why did this strike me like a rock between the eyes? because the government in this country and other forces are trying in every way to erode the free exercise of religion ? not in matters of faith ? but in matters of morals. The government is forcing Catholic social service agencies to provide medications and procedures that are contrary to Catholic moral teaching. The government wants our money, our facilities and our personnel, but NOT our morals. They want us to keep our morals in the sacristy. We must remember that there is a dual purpose to our religion; the proper worship of God and the proper living of our lives according to God`s expectations as handed on to us through the Catholic Church. This Church has not only the right but the responsibility to teach and encourage and expect goodness and virtue under the leadership of the Pope.

Our government, like any other government wherever the Church has been established in the past 2000 years wants to usurp that right and responsibility so that they can promote their own set of agendas. Perhaps we should be looking at the illusion of "euthanasia" ??? How many of us will not just be pushed to the sidelines of medical care but possibly even killed because we are a drain on society ??? Brothers and Sisters, the Catholic Church is the only force that will stand as a whole to oppose these trends. We must all stand together if we like Mattathias will be true to the religion of our fathers. As I have said many times? know the Faith, know what God expects of each of us Catholics and pray for the courage to fulfill His laws and commandments.

God bless you all.


What a great holiday


No Class

Part of me really likes the Roots. But this is just pathetic. I'm no fan of Michelle Bachmann, but to play a song whose lyrics are "she's just a lyin' *ss b****" when the woman walks on to the stage is completely without class.

Lame. See here



The "occupy" movement is fed up. They don't like the way things are going these days, and they are camping in public places to make everyone aware of their feelings. But what's the movement about, ultimately? There's some class-envy stuff going on and some general sense that things are not fair. But the diagnosis - that "the system" is the reason things are so bad, is a dangerous one. It's all well and good to have a conversation about how awful things are. We absolutely need to think critically about the way we organize our lives together; this is what politics is about. However, critical thinking cannot be criticism alone. In order to avoid being dangerous it must also be constructive. What the occupy movement really needs to be successful is a plan! What would they do to fix our society? Is their a political solution? Do we take more money from rich people using the power of the government? Does that ultimately solve the problem? I think most occupy folks would say, no, that's not enough. They want to flush the toilet and start all over again. They want revolution - regime change. No more American way, which in their view has lead to a large power differential between the ruling class and the ruled. I'm not exactly sure there is a specific idea they have in mind. Like in 2008, these people want "change," and really any radical change will do. The open-endedness of it all makes us vulnerable to tyranny.


Watching Europe Die

I find myself wondering what will actually happen? In America, anyways, it seems there are no consequences for anything. Caught in a lie? Deny it until everyone forgets. Make bad business choices? The government will bail you out. Spend too much money? Print some more! After all, truth is something we impose on the world.

What could go wrong?


Peter Lawler Expands Upon The Obvious

College is for technical education these days.  It's not for liberal education, or education intended to free a person from the prejudices of the dominant culture.
So far we've concluded, following Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America, that most of what we call higher education is really technical education.  It's the acquisition of indispensable skills for people in a middle-class democracy.  That technical education at our brick-and-mortar colleges typically includes some "liberal education," but that part of college education is getting smaller and somewhat vaguer or more perfunctory  That's because we no longer know what the humanities are for, beyond sharpening basic skills in critical thinking, effective communication, and so forth.  The sciences, as far as I can tell, are more confident and meritocratic than ever, the humanities more dazed and confused and so angry and suspicious of the 'logocentrism" of meritocracy.

Tocqueville adds that identifying science with technology is basically a democratic prejudice  We tend to value science as useful for generating the power required to make us more comfortable, secure, and free from material drudgery.  But the truth is that there's also pure science or theoretical science, which can be distinguished even from experimental science.  (The importance of this distinction is one reason among many I admire TV's The Big Bang Theory--with the intellectual superiority of the theoretical Sheldon to the experimental Leonard always being displayed, although Leonard is a nicer guy with more normal human emotions.)
 AND that's just too bad.  But really, what else could we possibly expect?  College is, as democrats believe, for everyone.  And everyone is not meant for liberal education.  So education becomes technical; education becomes that which gives persons the power to succeed and to have power over other persons, which is what democracy is reduced to in the perceived absence of God.


Questions for the Heretic

Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and is God Himself?

Do you believe that Jesus Christ established a Church on this earth?

Do you believe that Jesus Christ appointed apostles to rule and teach his Church?

Do you believe that these apostles teach and rule with Jesus’s authority, and therefore God’s authority?

Do you believe that the Church Jesus Christ established is the Roman Catholic Church, and that this same Church has persisted throughout the ages in a continuous line of apostolic succession, starting with Peter and ending with Benedict XVI?

Do you believe the teachings of this Church in faith and morals? If no, why not?
Do you not believe the Church Jesus Christ established teaches with divine authority?

Does God lead us astray? Does God leave us without authoritative moral guidance?



I think Betty Duffy is one of the best writers on the internet


A tired pattern

Everyone once and a while there is a news story about "the Vatican". "The Vatican" issues a document of some sort. The document says something about current affairs. Immediately there are two very predictable reactions, depending on whether the person is inclined to agree with the Church or not.
1. "Look! The Church teaches that Catholics have to think like I think! My opinions have acquired divine authority. The world would be a better place, and the Church would be a better Church, if every Catholic just obeyed Church teaching like I do."

2. "I don't have to obey the Church - I can think for myself. It's fine if some old white men in Rome think that, but I don't have to and I am still a good Catholic."
These are, of course, caricatures, but I think they express two attitudes that are quite common. They are alike in that they are both dogmatic and reactionary. The certainty that is often expressed in these convictions about Church teaching displays a closed-mindedness that is antithetical to true discipleship. These opinions often are voiced with no further study, no investigation, and no thoughtfulness.

As always, the saints show us the true and good way to live. Think of that wonderful phrase from St. Ignatius of Loyola: "sentire cum ecclesia": think with the Church." When we hear about a new document from the Church, we should read it! In reading it, we are likely to learn a lot about what The Church is trying to teach us, rather than what the media thinks or what some commentator thinks. We will also learn about what kind of document the Church has given us. As even the neophyte theologian knows, there are different kinds of Church teaching, and different teachings carry different weight, and different teachings require different levels of assent. The Church, for better or for worse, is very nuanced in the way She proposes to us. This is no doubt a result of the admixture of the human and divine elements of Her teaching - and it can be an obstacle for true understanding, but it ought not be.

In lieu of responding in the vein of one of these two reactions, I propose we reflect and we study. And above all, we be obedient.


Helplessness Blues

The Fleet Foxes have written a beautiful song with beautiful lyrics. Look at the opening lyrics:
I was raised up believin' I was somehow unique like a snowflake, distinct among snowflakes unique in each way you can see.And now after some thinkin' I'd say I'd rather be a functioning cog in some great machinery servin' something beyond me.But I don't, I don't know what that will be. I'll get back to you someday Soon you will see.What's my name, what's my station oh, just tell me what I should do. I don't need to be kind to the armies of night that would do such injustice to you. Or, bow down and be grateful and say "sure, take all that you see" to the men who move only in dimly lit halls and determine my future for me.And I don't, I don't know who to believe I'll get back to you someday Soon you will see.

Whether they know it or not this song has a deeply Christian, even Catholic theme. Interesting to see a group of artists simultaneously lament the plague of individualism, which isolates, and recognize the cure, which is life lived in community as a part of "something beyond me". We fit into nature because we were made for nature! The human heart can never accept that it is simply an accident of matter, space and time. Thank God!


Anthony Esolen

As I write, several thousand young people are squatting near Wall Street, insisting upon some kind of change or other. Change, of course, is the natural state of affairs on earth. "Change and decay in all around I see," says the great hymn.

Not so long ago people praised the virtue of steadfastness, the loyalty that binds the heart to this place, these neighbors, these children, this spouse, and God above all. To sever those bonds was to be changeable, that is, fickle.

But there is nothing so definite about what these protesters desire. They are not holding placards that read, "Everyone back to his station! Long live the neighborhood!" No, they are there to protest some hypostatized "system," though what exactly the system is, nobody can tell.

Some seem to believe that "corporations" are free-floating entities brooding malevolently over the waters, creating misery for mankind. They do not consider that, if Godfather's Pizza is to make a profit and return money to shareholders who have risked their investments, it must actually make something that people will declare to be good, and must offer it at a price that people will think reasonable.

In other words, at the base of all businesses lie an idea (here is something that people will find useful or sweet), hard work (here is how we will create that thing), and capital put at risk (here is the means for making the creation possible).

What the protesters are demanding, though, is magic – and that makes them strangely similar to the high-rolling brokers and financiers they despise. We've come far from the time when investors searched into the workings of a business, its ethos, the character of its managers, the skill of the workers, and decided to invest accordingly.

Some reforms of the financial market, if only to settle its dangerous volatility, and to discourage the building of air-castles, are in order. But they will require considerable perspicacity, and they are not going to be whipped up by silly children who are themselves building castles in the air, and whose education has left them foggy about what a percentage means, and how interest accumulates.

The protesters, for example, are demanding the forgiveness of all debt – an Old Testament jubilee year, without fields and farms and flocks, and of course without rejoicing in the love of God. 

No matter that such a thing, sprung upon an unsuspecting people, would constitute the greatest act of theft in the history of the world. No matter that banks would fail and that the savings of ordinary people would be wiped out. No matter that it would reward those who have not paid their bills at the expense of those who have.

It should just "happen" – with a wave of a political wand. Glinda the Good Witch will simply appear out of a pink bubble and grant a clean bill of financial health to everyone, and Toto, too.


What a dramatic and persuasive stand!

MANCHESTER — Members of Occupy New Hampshire on Wednesday night willingly formed a line for police officers as they were issued summons or arrested for refusing to leave Veterans Memorial Park when the park's 11 p.m. curfew arrived.

Several times, the movement's members reminded each other that police officers were there simply to do their jobs and told each other to remain calm and stay nonviolent.

“It's not that I'm planning to be arrested. I'm planning not to leave the park because I believe it's my right to peaceably assemble,” said Matt Richards.
Our country is increasingly a "rights" nation rather than a "rule-of-law" nation.


Wall Street Protests

I caught a glimpse of this story, that there are protestors on Wall Street. Liberal protestors, nonetheless. Their complaint? The folks on Wall Street, whom they call "the 1%", are hoarding all the money at the expense of the protestors, "the 99%". Temporarily disregarding whether this is actually true or not, I'm tempted to ask the question: What makes the protestors on Wall Street think they have a right to money (wealth) they did not earn? This, it seems to me, is one of the fruits of the entitlement attitude that our nation has been fostering ever so gingerly over the past, say 100 years. Other people have made themselves wealthy - and I am not wealthy - therefore, the wealthy people are immoral, and I will try to shame them into giving me their stuff. Maybe the protestors would respond to one of the arguments they themselves frequently employ against "the religious right": that they should stop trying to force their morality on the rich people that excites such jealousy in them.

That being said, I do think it's immoral that people so wealthy hoard their money. This is a contradiction that I cannot resolve at present due to time constraints.



Everyone is Crazy

Including me!


The Highest Virtue

Human life is best lived self-forgetfully. Looking for happiness in yourself is and will ultimately be a path of disappointment. Rather, happiness comes as a result of forgetting about yourself and living for other people. Human persons live and were created for relationships, and relationships only happen with other persons - no relationship happens alone. Realizing this fact and then putting it into practice is the task of the Christian.


Also new for New Hampshire

A New Bishop!

What's this guy's deal?

Time will tell



I hope to avoid a homily about the attacks on the United States at Mass tomorrow.

Pray for peace


The President's Speech

A speech about a plan to save the plan that was a plan to save the plan to save the planet.

Blah, blah, blah, spend more money, blah, blah, blah, tax cuts, blah, blah. Blah, blah, blah, small business, blah blah blah, health care, blah, getting back on our feet, blah blah, blah.



The debate was, perhaps unsurprisingly, disappointing.

The worst part, and the part that most clearly depicted the insanity of the party, was when the entire room applauded the number of people executed in Texas.

Rick Santorum lost my vote for sure by calling other debaters "isolationist". Rick Perry is a blowhard and seems to confuse himself in the midst of responding to questions. Herman Cain and Jon Huntsman are charismatic folks and seem to be more intelligent than the media favorites, but there's something missing from their presentation - I can't see either one of them being President. Maybe it's because MSNBC put them on the far side of the screen. Michelle Bachmann does not seem to have any substance. She hasn't responded to the majority of the questions she has been asked. Ron Paul is occasionally on target but seems to be trying to say too much in each of his 30 second allotments. Also, he's getting really old, and seems much too much like a cantankerous grandfather.

The best part of the debate was Newt Gingrich scolding the hosts for trying to incite disagreement amongst the participants. He was completely on target, and the media should be ashamed of themselves for being so obviously in the tank for the Democrats. Newt seemed to be in good form all night, having the most coherent and intelligent responses to the questions posed by the hosts, and also demonstrating a good deal of civility in addressing the other candidates. But of course, he has absolutely no chance.

I think I'm going to vote for Herman Cain or John Huntsman in the primaries unless someone else shows up with more gravitas.


A Difference in Emphasis

An interesting note about wikipedia.

If you search Rick Santorum's wikipedia page, and scroll through his biography, you will see a section on his "political ideology" - the implication being that he is an ideologue, one who tries to impose his vision of reality on the world.

IF you search Nancy Pelosi's wikipedia page, you will find the corresponding section titled "Political positions". See, Nancy Pelosi isn't an ideologue. She simply takes positions on issues.

There's a host of other absurdities but this is a great example of why the internet can insidiously affect our judgment. If you look at these pages in isolation, you probably wouldn't notice the difference in emphasis, but it is significant and it will affect the way we understand these characters.


Around and Around

"The second point on which I touched earlier consists in noting that in philosophy a straight line is not usually the shortest road. The great philosophic problems yield to conquest only when they are treated as the Hebrews treated Jericho- by approaching them on a curved path, marching around and around them in concentric circles which become ever tighter and more suggestive."

- Jose Ortega y Gasset, "What is Philosophy?"


One Effect of Holiness

Courtesy of Somerset Maugham's "The Painted Veil":
But to all that moving experience there had been a shadow (a dark lining to the silver cloud), insistent and plain, which disconcerted her. In the sober gaiety of Sister St. Joseph, and much more in the beautiful courtesy of the Mother Superior, she had felt an aloofness which oppressed her. They were friendly and even cordial, but at the same time they held something back, she knew not what, so that she was conscious that she was nothing but a casual stranger. There was a barrier between her and them. They spoke a different language not only of the tongue but of the heart. And when the door was closed upon her she felt that they had put her out of their minds so completely, going about their neglected work again without delay, that for them she might never have existed. She felt shut out not only from that poor little convent, but from some mysterious garden of the spirit after which with all her soul she hankered. She felt on a sudden alone as she had never felt alone before. That was why she had wept.


No thanks

I don't have a Facebook page, for various reasons. I did in the past. But I signed in today to see what I was missing. Eerily, the site remembers everything about you. Somewhere on Facebook's servers is information about myself that I cannot delete, cannot remove. In any event, signing in today I was immediately overwhelmed. Facebook seems like a sure-fire recipe for social anxiety disorder.


The Avett Brothers...

Are my new favorite band. Check out the lyrics to their excellent song "Ill with Want"

I am sick with wanting and it's evil and it's daunting
How I let everything I cherish lay to waste
I am lost in greed, this time it's definitely me
I point fingers but there's no one there to blame

A need for something, now let me break it down again
A need for something but not more medicine

I am sick of wanting and it's evil how it's got me
And every day is worse than the one before
The more I have the more I think I'm almost where I need to be
If only I could get a little more

A need for something, now let me break it down again
A need for something but not more medicine

Something has me, oh something has me
Acting like someone I don't wanna be
Something has me, oh something has me
Acting like someone I know isn't me
Ill with want and poisoned by this ugly greed

Temporary is my time, ain't nothing on this world that's mine
Except the will I found to carry on
Free is not your right to chose
It's answering what's asked of you
To give the love you find until it's gone

A need for something, now let me break it down again
A need for something but not more medicine

Something has me, oh something has me
Acting like someone I don't wanna be
Something has me, oh something has me
Acting like someone I know isn't me
Ill with want and poisoned by this ugly greed
Ill with want and poisoned by this ugly greed
Ill with want and poisoned by this ugly greed




hilarious stuff:
Then last night, on the very day Gabby Giffords heroically returns to cast her first vote since that tragic attack seven months ago, the vice president of the United States calls the Republican party a bunch of terrorists.

No one cares. I hate the “if this were Bush” game so we’re in luck. Instead imagine if this was Dick Cheney calling the Progressive Caucus (or whatever they’re called) a “bunch of terrorists” on the day Giffords returned to the Congress. Would the mainstream media notice or care? Would Meet the Press debate whether this raises “troubling questions” about the White House’s sensitivity? Would Andrea Mitchell find some way to blame Sarah Palin for Dick Cheney’s viciousness? Would Keith Olbermann explode like a mouse subjected to the Ramone’s music in Rock and Roll High School? Something inside me hidden away shouts, “Hell yes they would!”
Check the whole article out.


Can anyone tell me...

what's the deal with Sarah Palin?

Is she running for President or is she simply FNC media darling, forever?


Because the Technocrats Demand It

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced new guidelines in Washington Monday requiring health insurance plans beginning on or after August 1, 2012 to cover several women’s preventive services, including birth control and voluntary sterilization.

According to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius the decision is a part of the Affordable Care Act’s move to stop problems before they start. “These historic guidelines are based on science and existing literature and will help ensure women get the preventive health benefits they need,” she said in a news release.
Find birth control morally objectionable? Subscribe to a health care plan that used to charge individuals for it's use? No more! You will now pay for everyone's birth control. Freedom of conscience in America is on its way out.


For a laugh

Leo Strauss once called "the pursuit of happiness" the "joyless quest for joy."


A Temptation for Political Man

I'm reading C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters for the first time. The Screwtape Letters is the story of an "under-secretary of a department" of Hell (Screwtape) giving advice to a "junior tempter," who is working on the corruption of a young man. Lewis's intention, of course, is that in learning of the tactics of Hell, we will also learn how to defend against them.

As a politically-minded fellow, I am struck early on by a passage where Screwtape is talking about introducing a temptation to instrumentalize faith:
Let him begin by treating the Patriotism or Pacifism as a part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage at which the religion becomes merely part of the 'cause', in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it can produce in favour of the British war-effort or of Pacifism. The attitude which you want to guard against is that in which temporal affairs are treated primarily as material for obedience. Once you have made the World an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing.
This is a temptation of which the political man, the man concerned with worldly life, should be particularly aware. The devil can corrupt our concern for justice by encouraging us to confuse it with our final end or our summum bonum. We mistake the trees for the forest, or choose the part over the whole. This is a temptation in all things, but political life, with its focus on justice in this world, is particularly prone to encouraging this mistake. The point is we need to put first things first, and the first thing is not politics but our relationship with God Himself. If we are not in right-relation with God, we cannot be in right-relation with our fellows. In being in right-relation with God, we are necessarily in right-relation with our fellows.

The triumph of justice, a social virtue, is ultimately dependent on each one of us personally having our priorities straight. This is not to say that this is something we do alone; nothing human can be done "alone" - this is a Liberal (enlightenment) myth. What it does say is that the line of good and evil and ultimately justice runs through each and every human heart. We cannot forget this in participating in our worldly affairs. The problem is not "out there" in some abstraction or social construct - it is in our hearts.


The New Atheists

"...what our new atheists regard as modern progress in the direction of rational liberation is itself a reactionary superstition. The modern Enlightenment has actually been a rebellion against the whole truth about our natures, about who we are, and about the true source of our freedom and dignity. And that rebellion has been not so much radical as selective and self-indulgent. By compassionately privileging personal freedom and human rights over what they believe they know through science, the new atheists remain parasitic on the key Christian insight about who we are. Their attachment to the humane virtues makes no sense outside the Christian claim for the unique and irreplaceable dignity of every human person. That claim is completely unsupported by either ancient (Aristotelian) or modern (Darwinian) science. The sentimental preferences of our atheists are really those of a Christianity without Christ."

- Peter Augustine Lawler
Over-quote week


Peter Lawler is my Hero

And he thinks exactly like I do with respect to beer, wine, hard alcohol, and coffee! On beer:
We drink beer to loosen up, to clamp down on our inhibitions. Then we anxious autonomy freaks can open up to others, be conversational, tell the truth with uncalculated abandon. Bars, of course, are among the most conversational places in America. And beer, we all know, is the mean between the extremes of hard liquor (that will get you too drunk to talk and cause you to lose any control over your moods and so might make you more solitary and melancholic than ever) and not drinking at all (which is a sure sign of a lack of convivality and openness to the joys of life).
and on wine:
Wine, in my opinion, does facilitate the social virtues about as well as beer. It was an excellent replacement for the martini (which tastes ridiculous and gets you drunk fast) among sophisticates such as us BIG THINKERS. So I endorse wine as long as it's fairly cheap. The movie's passionate argument against Merlot, to me, is an argument for it: It's impossible to screw Merlot up, and that can't be said of even Cabernet.
And finally coffee:
What about coffee? Well, I really like it and drink a lot of it. Some say I don't believe in progress. But who can deny that there's been remarkable progress in the coffee readily available to Americans over the last generation? STARBUCKS coffee is swill. But there are many better kinds of designer, grind-your-own bean coffee everywhere now. And coffee shops that serve all kinds of special roasts even in the sticks of our country. ...

Coffee is certainly the beverage for philosophers. Wine might lead some to speak the truth, but often in a stupid, blowhard way. Coffee, take it from me, is the more EROTIC beverage.


July 4, 2011

The report ['The Seventh Quarterly Report'] was written by the White House’s Council of Economic Advisors, a group of three economists who were all handpicked by Obama, and it chronicles the alleged success of the “stimulus” in adding or saving jobs. The council reports that, using “mainstream estimates of economic multipliers for the effects of fiscal stimulus” (which it describes as a “natural way to estimate the effects of” the legislation), the “stimulus” has added or saved just under 2.4 million jobs — whether private or public — at a cost (to date) of $666 billion. That’s a cost to taxpayers of $278,000 per job.
But what of the psychological effect!?!


What's Most True in Marx

"Capitalism makes human beings miserably anxious by turning every human purpose, except those that serve productivity, into a meaningless whim."
Peter Augustine Lawler writes this in the essay "Human Dignity and Higher Education Today" which can be found in his new book. It's an interesting thought. As a culture, we have no room, or at least make no room, for leisure. Heck, maybe we're not even sure what leisure is - it's probably a waste of time. The point of life is to work and to acquire. Continual acquisition, and the resultant change it brings, is probably the end we seek. Whatever we have, it's not good enough. This holds true for material things, but also social things like prestige or notoriety. How do we rediscover, as a culture, the value of leisure time? What is the right balance?


Father Corapi

I am heartbroken by the news of Father Corapi leaving the priesthood of his own free will. If you had told me that he would leave the priesthood 5 years ago, I probably would have laughed at you. It's completely unbelievable. He was a good priest and a great and wonderful teacher of orthodox Catholicism. But now it seems the world has gotten to him; he has forgotten that Christ is the reason for his fame.

Christianity teaches us that we are signs of God's love to other people. Many Catholics saw in Father Corapi just that - a sign of God's love. This is why it is so hard to say goodbye to him, but say goodbye we must. We must help Corapi fade into obscurity where he can once again realize his ultimate dependence on Jesus Christ. Whatever Mr. Corapi's greatness was, it was not his own. All good things are of God.

It is sad to see him go.


Reading the news,

...you would think the world is ending.

Maybe it is!

Stay tuned, planet Earth!


Anthony Esolen has a great article about education in California, here. Welcome back, Crisis magazine!


Public Signs of Catholic Identity

I wonder if I can make a list of things that obviously mark you off as a Catholic.

1. Having a lot of kids, especially if you are under 30
2. Making the sign of the Cross in public, saying grace before meals
3. Abstaining from meat on Fridays. (hopefully the work of the English Bishops will influence others!)
4. Going to "Mass"
5. Wearing a Roman Collar

What else?

Conspicuously missing is anything to do with moral goodness or joy.



One Being

Josef Pieper is teaching me about the extent to which our thought processes have been corrupted by Descartes:
...we shall have to recall once more something difficult to grasp, that even the acts of man's mind, which means even his volition and not just his sensual desires, take place by nature and thus are not something at our own command. Rather, such acts happen over our heads, asit were; they are not left to our freedom of choice but have already been imposed. We find this difficult to grasp because we usually understand the terms "nature" and "mind" as mutually exclusive concepts. According to this habit of thought, for example, willing is either a mental act and consequently something not given by nature; or it is a natural event and consequently neither an act of volition nor a mental act at all. In contrast to this, the great teachers of Christendom unanimously insist that there is one being- that is in the strictest sense both mind and nature at once; and this being is the created mind.

Josef Pieper, On Love
Normally I would say something so abstract has little impact on the way we live. Reading this passage, one is tempted to say, as any good American pragmatist would, "so what?" To answer the pragmatist: this is important because it is a deeply revealing cultural and really psychological truth. It tells us something about ourselves. We almost naturally separate our minds and our bodies; we are really, really convinced that we are "a ghost in a machine." This belief affects all our other beliefs. And our beliefs drive our actions, the way we live.


This is a pretty good definition of ideology.

Ideology is a much-abused word. Many who bandy about this term are under the mistaken notion that ideology is synonymous with strongly holding to philosophical or theological truths. On the contrary, ideology is, instead, an intellectual system of ideas or rigid abstract formulas mixed with scientific jargon and some empirical facts that claims knowledge about reaching perfection in the temporal order.

Catholics should never let themselves be called ideologues. Ideologues attempt, according to Eric Voegelin, “to mold reality into a scheme consistent with a posited or assumed idea.” Proponents are convinced that when the tenets of one’s ideological world-view are properly administered by messianic-elites, society will be transformed into a harmonious secular paradise – in other words, heaven on earth.
From George Marlin at the Catholic Thing


"God? God? If I could see him or hear him now! Where is this God of yours?"

That is the question that every sinner asks, at one time or another. And here is the secret revealed by God to Israel in shadows and intimations, and to all the world in the life and death and resurrection of Christ. God is not some despotic force, like Zeus sitting upon his throne, grasping his thunderbolt. He is almighty, true, and as almighty he is more than greatest and farthest of all. He is also the smallest and the nearest and most present of all, the very Being of beings. He was not in the whirlwind or the earthquake or the fire, as Elijah found, but in the still small voice. In all the centuries before Solomon, his presence does not dwell in some hulking temple meant to boggle man into insignificance, but in a small Ark, in a tent. He writes his laws not upon pillars, but upon the hearts of those who hear his word. And his word was made flesh and dwelt among us, a babe in a manger. This is the Jesus who came as a light into a dark world; yet the world knew him not. A bruised reed he would not break, said the prophet, and so Jesus moved among men both known and unknown, a king and yet a slave, the glorious only-begotten Son of God, and yet meek and humble of heart. To hear Jesus, then, is to look perhaps first to the small and near, and to listen.
- Anthony Esolen in the Magnificat for May 2011.


Happy Easter!

Christus Resurrectus Est! Vere Resurrectus Est!

Anno Domini 2011


Here's a bit of wisdom

"in most cases, we only believe what we are prepared to accept."



A Friday in Lent

I am overwhelmed by this world more often than not. I look around, and all I see is conflict. I see depression, anxiety, fear, pain, confusion. Most notably is a deep lack of happiness. There is no peace here. Above all, it is clear that this life is not the life we were all meant to lead. This world is a world full of broken things that need love. Now I love the world, which is to say I love other people. Because of this, I am critical of things, "the way things are," or "the status quo". I am critical of myself, critical of politicians, critical of everything. I am too critical, too much. Maybe you're something like this too. But criticism will not save the world. Only love can save the world. But what does that mean? Surely a part of love involves criticism? Jesus said "the TRUTH will set you free." Truth is a proposition. Propositions need to be proposed. The truth needs to be spoken, and it needs to be defending. Lies need to be exposed. And so this must be where criticism is necessary. But it cannot be everything. There is a time and a place for criticism. In conversation with friends, maybe. Two persons, pursuing the truth together with words. In order for criticism to be effective, there must be a RELATIONSHIP, or an understanding between two persons. Clear away the confusion, and you might realize that we are all on the same side. In other words, we all need each other, even if we don't know it. We have to work together in Christ to repair our brokenness. And in doing this, I think, we will find peace.


Regarding Libya, I follow Jim Manzi

I haven’t written about the now-underway U.S. military action in Libya, mostly because lots of other people are more expert on this topic than I. But for the purpose of exposing my biases at the start of this post, I’ll lay my cards on the table: I am against it. I assume the military phase will be devastating for the regime, and hope that the overall effort goes as well as is possible, but I think it’s a mistake for the U.S. to expend significant economic, human or moral resources in a military attempt to control the evolution of the conflict in Libya.

I understand the humanitarian impulse to help the underdog, but we have finite resources, and cannot hold ourselves responsible for the political freedom of every human being on Earth. As many others have said, the obvious problem with this action is that we must set the pretty gauzy-sounding benefits of influencing public opinion in the Middle East, avenging ourselves for the Pan Am bombing, possibly improving the lives of people in Libya and so forth, against the many ways that this could plausibly turn into a much more expensive proposition than is currently anticipated – and not only in terms of money. (It also seems very far from clear that in this case the underdogs are people who, once in power, would be materially better than the current government for Libyans, Americans, or just about anybody else.)


i think wisdom is recognizing limits (i.e. humility)

Etienne Gilson, in the Unity of Philosophical Experience, wrote: “Instead of being the central principle of his subjective synthesis, humanity became for Comte an object of worship, the positive God, the Great Being.” The same phrase appears in Daniel Mahoney’s Conservative Foundations of the Liberal Order: “True conservatism is obliged to be suspicious of ‘the religion of humanity’ in all its forms.” A humanity that worships itself is a humanity that can do with itself what it will. It is a humanity that has no limit for science and no definition of what man is.


I Miss Father Neuhaus

Found on the USCCB's website, of all places:
The message for Catholics, indeed for all people of conscience, is unmistakably clear: "Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection." We can in no way cooperate with a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, nor can we "take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law, or vote for it" (no. 73). On most issues in political dispute, people of intelligence and good will can legitimately disagree. Not so with abortion, euthanasia, and other laws that deprive our weaker brothers and sisters of the fundamental right to life. We can never, never cooperate with the taking of an innocent life.

That resounding no is premised upon an uncompromisable yes—yes to life, yes to those who need our care and protection, yes to God. Evangelium Vitae sees our world standing at a turning point as crucial as any in the long history of humankind. The third millennium will witness a flowering of the culture of life or a continuing descent into the abyss of the culture of death. In this prophetic love letter to the world, John Paul repeats the word of God spoken through Moses, "I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live" (Dt 30:19). We Christians have the great privilege and responsibility of persuading the world to choose life—for God's sake, for our sake, for the sake of humanity. "The glory of God is man fully alive" (Gloria Dei vivens homo).


This can't go on much longer

Rome fell not from a stronger enemy on the outside, but internal corruption. Here's more evidence history is repeating itself:
A soldier being court-martialed on a U.S. Army base near Seattle for the murder of three Afghan civilians has agreed to plead guilty Wednesday in hopes of earning a reduced sentence, according to one of the attorneys handling his case.

"My client is admitting on the record to three counts of murder, plus one count of conspiracy to commit assault and battery and one count of illegal drug use," said Geoffrey Nathan, a lawyer for Army Spc. Jeremy Morlock.
God help us.

A few clarifications:

I think this is evidence of the purposelessness of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Libya. It's not an isolated event.

And I understand that it's rare for a country to prosecute its own soliders. I do not find this to be a compelling justification for what he did, nor do I find it to be justification of immoral wars.


Ask yourself this

Robert George asking the right questions:
If you are a Catholic who sometimes watches network television, ask yourself these two questions: How often have you heard your priest preach on homosexuality and abortion? How often have you watched a preachy TV show or movie (or an interview with an actor or singer or other celebrity) pushing a liberal line about sex or abortion?


the courage to wander into the wilderness

I recently stumbled upon a blog called Catholic Phoenix that I really enjoy. It has lots of eloquent, thought-provoking contributors who write on everything from liturgy to poetry to teenagers to philosophy. And they're funny! You can't beat that. Anyway, I recommend this post on the Lenten longing for Easter. The author tells us how, after converting to Catholicism, he followed the older tradition of fasting the duration of Lent, which left him....hungry. Literally. And this hunger underscored everything he did for 40 long days. He writes
Penance during Lent seems to be the way that we submit to that [cleansing] purgative fire. Or rather, it is the way that we embrace it. We simply don’t get to the glorious promise of Easter until we have suffered, because the triumph of Easter was obtained only through Christ’s suffering. Indeed, His voluntary suffering. Fasting is difficult not only because constant hunger taxes our bodies. Fasting is difficult because it requires us to voluntarily suffer; we must choose to be hungry. In Practice in Christianity, Søren Kierkegaard (writing under the pseudonym Anti-Climacus) argues that Christian suffering is Christian precisely because it’s avoidable. All who suffer because of Christ could quit their suffering by quitting Christ. But those who subject themselves to suffering subject themselves to Christ, who is our ultimate example of voluntarily suffering. With imitation in mind, Christians strangely fight the impulse to flee the burning house. Christians instead walk headlong into the blaze, hoping that their loved ones are somewhere nearby, consumed by flames.
The sentiment reminds me of an absolutely breathtaking meditation on Jesus' seven last words from the cross called Death on a Friday Afternoon. I think I reread it every Lent, and each time I'm struck by the beauty and humility and sacrifice and love of our Lord, magnified and intensified under the lens of Father Neuhaus' incomparable way with words. Neuhaus urges readers to enjoy his book slowly, consciously digesting the implications of what happened on that Friday afternoon, rather than rushing headlong into Easter. It's so easy to just survive Lent, quietly checking off the boxes labeled "fasting" and "abstinence" and "prayer" without spending time savoring the taste of sacrifice while we hunger for our reward.
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” (Mt. 4:1) “If you are the son of God,” said the tempter, “command these stones to become loaves of bread.” (Mt. 4:3) Though “he was hungry,” Christ refused. Do you refuse? Or do you turn your stones into bread? Do you even have the courage to wander into the wilderness in the first place?
 Please say a prayer for me that I'll have the courage, and I'll say one for you.


President Obama's Draconian Budget Cuts

Among the cuts to the budget being made include:
* Milk purchases (-$60 m)
* DELAP (dairy) (-$290 m)
* Agricultural Research (-$71 m)
* USDA Single Family Housing Guarantees (-$173 m)
* USDA Farm Loans (-$26 m)
* Watershed Programs (-$50 m)
* Public Telecommunications and Facilities Program (-$20 m)
* EPA Homeland Security Activities (-$36 m)
* Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (-$125 m)
* Wildland Fire Suppression Program (-$250 m)
* HUD University Community Fund (-$25 m)
* EPA State Revolving Funds (-$950 m)
* EPA State and Tribal Grants - Watershed, Airshed, and Climate Change (-$187 m)
* Biomass Crop Assistance Program (-$100 m)
* National Park Service, excluding LWCF (-$105 m)
* Career Pathways (-$125 m)
* SCSEP (-275 m)
* FEMA State and Local Grants (-$425 m)
* FBI Construction (-$133 m)
* Rural Development S&E (-$20 m)
* HUD Energy Innovation Fund (-$50 m)
* Treasury Asset Forfeiture Funds (-$333)
* Animal and Plant Health Programs (APHIS) (-$27 m)
* HHS Community Economic Development (-$16 m)
* HHS Mentoring Children of Prisoners (-$24 m)
* Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (-$276 m)
Think about the jobs lost ! The tragedy ! How can the president be so ruthless and cruel! Does he not care about the well being of American citizens - those left in the shadows by wall-street neocon capitalists? Where is the outrage?!

Planned Indeed!

I recommend whole-heartily the book "Unplanned," which is the recently published autobiography of Abby Johnson, a former director of a Planned Parenthood. The book has many virtues, but I think its chief one is this: through Abby's story, we can see the action of God in our lives. Abby [and her co-author] describes in detail how the pro-life cause profoundly affected her work at Planned Parenthood. Her story shows us the true effects of different styles of pro-life interventions and activism. So this book contains a very rare and very valuable vision of Divine Providence and Divine Action. It's not a set of arguments; it's a woman's recorded experience of God and His people.

Abby's story is inspiring to the would-be pro-life activist for a number of reasons, not least of which is the cast of characters featured in the story, namely the Coalition for Life folks and their 40 Days for Life campaign. I am of the opinion that this movement is the future of the pro-life movement. The legal cause is for all intents and purposes lost. This political reality does not justify voting for candidates who support the abortion regime, but it should temper our expectations for the future of abortion law in this country, at least in the near term. The fact of the matter is that the law is not going to change until the culture changes, and the culture is not going to change until it sees what abortion is. Only God can show people the truth of abortion. And it is clear to me that the greatest hope of being successful at this will happen with the 40 days for Life movement, and the evidence I offer for this claim is this excellent book. Check it out. And join a 40 days for life campaign!


The Canard that the Pro-Life Movement isn't really "pro-life"

The charge that the pro-life movement isn't really pro-life, frequently leveled by proponents of unlimited government, can be frustrating. Ryan Anderson and company call it a lazy slander. I prefer canard, but both terms apply equally well. The facts about the pro-life movement's support for life at all stages - from conception to natural death - speak for themselves. Mr. Anderson and company recount a few of these facts HERE at The Public Discourse. After detailing some of the great work pro-life advocates regularly do, they ask the obvious question: why are pro-life advocates accused of being indifferent to life after birth? As they say, it's probably the overwhelming conviction
"that “caring for the born” translates first and always into advocacy for government programs and funds. In other words, abortion advocates appear to conflate charitable works and civil society with government action. The pro-life movement does not. Rather, it takes up the work of assisting women and children and families, one fundraiser and hotline and billboard at a time. Still, the pro-life movement is not unsophisticated about the relationship between abortion rates and government policies in areas such as education, marriage, employment, housing, and taxation. The Catholic Church, for example, works with particular vigor to ensure that its social justice agenda integrates advocacy for various born, vulnerable groups, with incentives to choose life over abortion.
Yes - and there's a simple reason the pro-life movement is not a movement for more government. If the pro-life movement would incorporate into its platform a decidedly pro-government stance, it would narrow itself. It would have mixed motives and would end up excluding more people. These are people who would support laws illegalizing abortion, but would not necessarily support the other policies of the movement. In other words, the pro-life movement leaves other political issues out of its explicit purpose to maintain focus and to be maximally inclusive. And as Ryan Anderson et al note, it couples this with real charity work done without any legislation or taxpayer dollars. AND IN FAIRNESS all of this is not to say that one cannot be a part of the movement and support policies that make the government omnipotent. It's just that those policies cannot become a part of the larger pro-life movement itself (for the aforementioned reasons).



Interesting to see a secular magazine take up an obvious but unmentionable problem: sex-selective abortion. From the article:
It is no exaggeration to call this gendercide. Women are missing in their millions—aborted, killed, neglected to death. In 1990 an Indian economist, Amartya Sen, put the number at 100m; the toll is higher now. The crumb of comfort is that countries can mitigate the hurt, and that one, South Korea, has shown the worst can be avoided. Others need to learn from it if they are to stop the carnage.


In Defense of Mothers Who Raise Their Children

As the father of a new baby I frequently hear things like this said to my beautiful wife:
"I'm a feminist graduate of an all-women's college who has vowed to never change my name or end my career to raise children full time--though I would never undervalue the work that many women do in their home."
This upsets me and seeing it print I feel compelled to record the reasons for my distaste. Perhaps other people have experienced this type of remark, too. This type of remark never fails to offend.It is simultaneously condescending and arrogant. "I will never end my career to raise children full time." The unstated but implicit premise is that raising children could never be as significant as one's career - such a choice only foolish, simple women would make!. This remark is then followed up with what can only be called a lie: "but I would never undervalue the work many women do in their home." It's not that what mothers do in their home isn't important - it's just not as important as a career. The truth is that one cannot simultaneously proclaim that motherhood and raising children is "the most noble work" and say on the other hand I would never raise my own children because I have other more important work to do.


Slow Down!

Each week is long, and each day is too short.


Life These Days

The fundamental fact of our time is the gradual encroachment of principled individualism — or unregulated personal freedom — into all areas of our lives. Every moral and communal certainty, except those that can be justified through contract and consent, has been transformed into a question. Every human attachment seems basically voluntary. The great institutions that shape the character of human beings — the family, the church, the community, and the country — are weakened and still eroding. Young people who have grown up in this cultural environment are deprived of what it takes to develop firm moral bearings — and, with them, a sense of purpose. New students arrive at college not knowing who they are or what their lives are for.
-Peter Lawler


i think it's a series of tubes?

"What is the internet, anyway?" queries the ever-eloquent Bryant Gumbel in this circa 1994 clip dredged up by Patrick Madrid. I love that no one can really answer his question, the jury is out on what the @ sign is, the email address is "violence at NBC," and that it all devolves into Bryant making snide comments about a coworker.

I think, Mr. Gumbel, that Sen. Stevens can best answer your question:


The Most Powerful Man in America is...

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

He makes the rules!


Did Anyone Else Grow Up with Raffi?

Then you may be interested to know that he has, in his later years, turned into quite the strange philosopher and social activist! Raffi has a website from which he articulates a vision for human life which he calls "child honoring":
Child Honouring is a philosophy—a vision, an organizing principle, and a way of life—the children-first way of sustainability.

Child Honouring starts with three givens

* The early years are the most important—early childhood is the gateway to humane being.
* We face planetary degradation that is unprecedented in scope and scale—a state of emergency that most endangers the very young, and that requires a remedy of equal scale.
* This crisis calls for a systemic response in detoxifying the environments that make up the world of the child.

Child Honouring is a children-first approach to healing communities and restoring ecosystems. It views how we regard and treat our young as the key to building a humane and sustainable world. It is a novel idea—organizing society around the needs of its youngest members. The essence of its vision is expressed in A Covenant for Honouring Children and its underlying principles.

Its spirit is invitational—a call to imagine and create a diversity of child-friendly cultures. A child-honouring society would show love for its children, and therefore for all of us, in every facet of its design and organization.
Quite honestly I'm creeped out. But I guess it makes sense.


thoughts on ideology

I think that most political judgments are formed at root with underlying principles or assumptions, conscious or not, and these assumptions can be true or false. I do not think that all political opinions fall into different ideologies. The implication of this belief is that no ideology is really true and no ideology is necessarily better than any other ideology. Your ideology is what it is; it's like the color of your hair.

Ideology is something like an unwillingness to change one's mind when presented with something true that contradicts what you believe. Ideology also contains an element of having strong convictions about things you know nothing about.

But having a conviction about the way the world is, or holding to a set of principles upon which you base your political judgments is not, I think, ideology. I think there is such a thing as true political knowledge.


Alone Together

Here's a book I'm definitely picking up. It's called "Alone Together":
"A behaviour that has become typical may still express the problems that once caused us to see it as pathological," MIT professor Sherry Turkle writes in her new book, Alone Together, which is leading an attack on the information age.

Turkle's book, published in the UK next month, has caused a sensation in America, which is usually more obsessed with the merits of social networking. She appeared last week on Stephen Colbert's late-night comedy show, The Colbert Report. When Turkle said she had been at funerals where people checked their iPhones, Colbert quipped: "We all say goodbye in our own way."

Turkle's thesis is simple: technology is threatening to dominate our lives and make us less human. Under the illusion of allowing us to communicate better, it is actually isolating us from real human interactions in a cyber-reality that is a poor imitation of the real world.


Unoriginal Thoughts About The Death of Writing and the Impoverishment of Conversation

I think it's fair to say that the art of language is dying. We have replaced writing with instantaneous electronic communication and television. With Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, and texting, what need have we for the written word anymore? And our habits with respect to books? I don't think I'm alone in thinking that there are fewer and fewer novels that we read, and even fewer written these days that are worth reading. Those new novels that are worth reading tell the same mundane story about the meaninglessness of modern life. This is largely because our culture has changed almost completely from a culture of the written word to a culture of frenetic images driven by the television, the radio, and the iGadgets. This is a deep problem with consequences that are becoming more corrosive (and so more and more apparent) as time progresses.

Human beings are social creatures that need communities, small and large. Communities are bound together by common creeds, or common beliefs. Beliefs are expressed in ideas and concepts, and the fundamental building blocks of these things are words. So one foundation of all true community life is language.

Our capacity for language is a function of our culture. We can be better or worse at communicating with one another. If words become increasingly subjectivized,that is, what each person means by a particular word is more and more idiosyncratic, we are less able to understand one another. And so we perceive rightly that we have less and less in common with our fellows. The decline of language, understood in this sense, is a social disease. It slowly makes our relations more and more incoherent, and as we become more and more incoherent, we become disorganized and isolated.

All of this is incentive to practice the arts of language: Writing, reading, and speaking. I'm not sure there's a social prescription for encouraging this practice. We could emphasize reading more seriously in our public schools, but this is only possible with the support of mothers and fathers. We can turn the TV off, but again, we can make no laws to this effect, nor should we want to. So I don't know what to do but to bring this to the attention of others - first to see if any agrees with me - and second to encourage others in the fine arts of conversation, writing, and reading.

I note in passing that this is also a limited justification of blogging. I think blogging can be helpful to the end of improving one's writing skills. But a helpful blog can only be publicly oriented; it cannot be merely a diary. It must be an attempt to explain to other persons ideas that can be held in common. I've never been a big writer, and I've never needed to be one. I've never had to write someone a letter because email has been a part of my life from a very young age. But this forum lets me practice writing and explaining myself to others. Even if no one really reads it.

Now, to more pressing things. My furnace just stopped working and tomorrow is supposed to be the coldest day of the year.


Obvious Signs of Demonic Possession

The title of this post is not intended to be hyperbolic. There's lots of reasons not to read the news. But sometimes, light has to be shined on the darkness. Such is the case here. Please don't read this if you are faint of heart. The story is that a doctor in West Philidelphia has rightly been charged with murdering babies.
WEST PHILADELPHIA - January 19, 2011 (WPVI) -- A doctor who gave abortions to minorities, immigrants and poor women in a "house of horrors" clinic was charged with eight counts of murder in the deaths of a patient and seven babies who were born alive and then killed with scissors, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Why did he do it?
Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 69, made millions of dollars over 30 years, performing as many illegal, late-term abortions as he could, prosecutors said.
Authorities found signs of further depravity and horror at his "clinic":
Early last year, authorities went to investigate drug-related complaints at the clinic and stumbled on what Williams called a "house of horrors."

Bags and bottles holding aborted fetuses "were scattered throughout the building," Williams said. "There were jars, lining shelves, with severed feet that he kept for no medical purpose."

The clinic was shut down and Gosnell's medical license was suspended after the raid.
Our culture is very sick. It's easy to see this when we look at the tragedy in Tuscon. It's harder to see the millions of babies slaughtered each year. May God bless the souls of the children this man took from this world, and may he have mercy on us all.


Spelling words correctly now a matter of indifference to professional educators

I was listening to the radio on the way home today and heard that the State of Oregon will allow students taking state exams to use spell check. That is, the students no longer have to know how to spell words themselves. After all, argued one student interviewed by NPR, using spell-checker "may even benefit us, in the future."

This is disheartening but not unexpected. Democratic education has, over the years, become divorced from truth. John Dewey's plan for practical or experiential education, an education that focuses less on knowledge and more on judging what works, won over the progressive educational establishment long ago. It's just sad to see its consequences play out in their entirety.

Words matter because the Word matters. The world is ordered and words help us to understand the order. Words convey concepts, logic, and most importantly, truth. In losing respect for words, we have lost respect for one of our most basic ties: our language. Socrates said that the point of philosophy is conversation and the point of conversation is friendship. Conversation is only possible with the common bond of language and language is only meaningful if we can come to know what we have in common, that is, the truth. So in losing respect for words, we lose respect for conversation, and ultimately lose the ability to pursue to the truth in common.



Inception is an AWESOME movie

I watched the movie "Inception" the other day, and it confirmed my belief that Christopher Nolan is the most interesting director working these days (Batman Begins fame, The Prestige etc.) If you get a chance let me know what you think of the movie. I'm not sure I could have been more entertained at the theaters!


Found in a Book

"Don't love anything that can't love you back."