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!