Friday, September 28, 2007

Canadian-Americans, The Civil War, Hillary Clinton and a Strange New Respect for Religion

For those who enjoy the sport of watching American politics:

Canadian-Americans, The Civil War, Hillary Clinton and a Strange New Respect for Religion: "It’s an odd thing about us transplanted Canadians. In truth, most of my siblings and I (there are eight children) were born in Canada of American citizens, which gives us dual citizenship. The odd thing is that we are among the relatively few Americans who regularly keep an eye on things Canadian. That attentiveness is [...]"

(Via FIRST THINGS: On the Square.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

But where's the "gap"?


But where's the "gap"?: "

Thanks, Rob, for bringing this interesting NYT article to our attention.' But, personally, I think you missed the most interesting finding -- the explanation for the growing gap in happiness between men and women:

Since the 1960s, men have gradually cut back on activities they find unpleasant. They now work less and relax more.

Over the same span, women have replaced housework with paid work — and, as a result, are spending almost as much time doing things they don’t enjoy as in the past. Forty years ago, a typical woman spent about 23 hours a week in an activity considered unpleasant, or 40 more minutes than a typical man. Today, with men working less, the gap is 90 minutes.



(Via Mirror of Justice.)

What's In a Name?

I'm off to class in a little bit. You can, if you wish, ponder the imminent crowning of Viswanathan Anand as World Champion.

What's In a Name?: "The not-so-great debate: Anand: world champion or tournament world champion?"

(Via The Daily Dirt Chess Blog.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

MacIntyre in a nutshell. From The Philosophers' Magazine: The main goal of After Virtue,...

While I'm wrestling with Rawls and the Social Contract, here's a chance for you to take on MaIntyre:

MacIntyre in a nutshell.

From The Philosophers' Magazine:

The main goal of After Virtue,...
: "MacIntyre in a nutshell.

From The Philosophers' Magazine:

The main goal of After Virtue, and it is a goal motivated by Nietzsche's persuasive attack on morality (but pursued by MacIntyre with an Aristotelian detachment), is to provide us with a good reason for acting morally today. He does so by introducing his notion of a 'practice'. Practices, MacIntyre tells us, are found in some form or"

(Via Lex Communis.)

Monday, September 24, 2007

And I Kant Stand Him

With apologies to Phoebe Dinsmore. We 're now done with Kant. He wasn't that bad, but it was a bit of labour sorting out the Universal Law Test of the Categorical Imperative. Yech!

Now we look at Social Contract Theory, with Rawls as the leading proponent. The Professor assures us this will be less laborious than Kant. Ok, but what isn't easier than Kant?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Cardinal Pell's Response to Parliamentary Inquiry [2007-09-22]

This is a very good read, on a Sunday:

Cardinal Pell's Response to Parliamentary Inquiry [2007-09-22]: "'I Enjoy the Right to Comment on Proposed Laws'"

(Via New Advent World Watch.)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Happy Birthday!

A happy reminder:

Happy Birthday!: "

Today is a very important day on the calendar, the birthday of not one, but two important fellows, Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.

Happy birthday! Now, let’s go have a big party under the Party Tree and then light off some fireworks in the shape of dragon. Oh, those hobbits know how to party. This |
Digg This


(Via - Musings of Domenico Bettinelli.)

Is It Getting Colder?

Maybe it's just the season advancing upon us, but I'm not completely sure. I keep getting reminders that the meta-weather prognosticators haven't always been predicting a warming trend.

With Thanks to Lifesite News Newsbytes.

How Noble is the Nobel?

Oh dear, the worth of the Nobel Prize almost got tarnished:

1939 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee: Adolf Hitler: "

Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1939: Adolf Hitler.

(Hat tip: Jack.)


(Via Little Green Footballs.)

"I enter church to encounter God, and I leave it a theater critic."

Ok, now I'm envious. I'm struggling with a small snippet of Kant's moral philosophy in English translation, and these people are reading German originals. Don't tell me I have to add German to my list of courses necessary to be an educated person...

"I enter church to encounter God, and I leave it a theater critic.": "

Gerald Augustinus of 'The Cafeteria Is Closed,' has been reading Martin Mosebach's
The Heresy of Formlessness: The Roman Liturgy and Its Enemy
(Ignatius, 2006). He writes:

Reading Martin Mosebach's phenomenal book, Heresy of Formlessness, is no easy task. His language (I am reading the German original) is of the utmost quality, his imagery beautiful, his sentiment convincing. He makes the point I've been trying to make, only a thousand times more aptly. His arguments for the classic Roman rite are inaccessible to the bureaucratic of spirit. Whoever approaches liturgy with the logic of a laundry detergent ad ('Now with 30% more Scripture !') or the mindset of a Club Med animateur will never be open to the beauty of the rite before we all became Protestants, so to speak. (It is eerie to see how Protestant 'reformators' demands were fulfilled one by one in the 20th century, from Hus to Luther)

No true poet would ever choose Bugnini's product, just as no true musician would choose Haugen over Palestrina. Martin Mosebach is a poet, a novelist of the highest rank, the winner of the Georg Buechner Prize, the most important one for a novelist. His style is viewed as the non plus ultra by all the grand newspapers in the German tongue, be it the NZZ or Die Zeit.

The book Heresy of Formlessness is an unusual book for a novelist, of course. But what better than beautiful language to defend a beautiful rite.

I've never read anything like it. The title may sound a bit stern, but it's actually a labor of love. Of love and sadness. Together with Mosebach one mourns what was lost when the Church decided to do what before only Protestants had done - storm and smash the altars, smash the icons. Death by committee. Liturgy by accountant. Like letting a USCCB sub-committee compose a love letter to one's wife. Arrogance beyond imagination, to, like Mao, forsake what had been nurtured over the centuries and replace it with a potted plant. As Christopher Hitchens wrote, 'the Roman Catholic Church has never recovered from abandoning the mystifying Latin Rite'. Don't get me wrong, the 'ordinary' mass is valid, but it's like expressing one's love with the quality of a Shakespeare sonnet versus a Hallmark card

Read the entire post. Mosebach's opinions are indeed strong, but one doesn't need to agree with all of them to appreciate many or all of his points. Fr. Joseph Fessio, in his foreword to the book, wrote:

When I first read Martin Mosebach's book in German, I was extremely impressed and profoundly moved by his understanding and articulation of what has gone wrong with the postconciliar liturgical reform. After decades of the Church's establishment and even some official Church documents singing the praises of the wonderful benefits of the Novus Ordo as celebrated, here is someone who puts into words and images the malaise that is still felt by many, and most particularly by those who cherish the richness and beauty of the Church's liturgical, musical, and artistic past.

We do not concur with every particular judgment Martin Mosebach makes or every conclusion he comes to. But we believe he has eloquently expressed a genuine and profound problem at the heart of the Church's life. We hope that this book will contribute to the new 'liturgical movement' that Cardinal Ratzinger called for in his own liturgical magna carta, The Spirit of the Liturgy.

• Read an excerpt from The Heresy of Formlessness: 'Does Christianity Need A Liturgy?'


(Via Insight Scoop | The Ignatius Press Blog.)

Michael Crichton on G.K. Chesterton

I have an original first edition of Eugenics and Other Evils on my shelf, a reminder of the days when getting copies of Chesterton's writings involved dealing with speciality book sellers. It will have to go on my re-read list now.

Michael Crichton on G.K. Chesterton: "

A friend passed along a note about the latest Michael Crichton novel, Next (2006). It is about genetics and the moral issues involved, and it has a bibliography that includes the following:

Chesterton, G. K.,
What's Wrong with the World,
San Francisco,: Ignatius Press, 1910.Bon vivant, wit, and tireless author, Chesterton lost the debate about the future direction of society to his contemporaries H. G. Wells, Bertrand Russell, and George Bernard Shaw. Chesterton saw the implications of their vision of twentieth century society, and he predicted exactly what would come of it.Chesterton is not a congenial stylist to the modern reader; his witticisms are formal, his references to contemporaries lost in time.But his essential points are chillingly clear.

Chesterton, G. K.,
Eugenics and Other Evils: An Argument Against the Scientifically Organized Society
. ... Originally published in 1922, this astonishingly prescient text has much to say about our understanding of genetics then (and now), and about the mass seduction of pseudoscience. Chesterton's was one of the few voices to oppose eugenics in the early twentieth century.He saw right through it as fraudulent on every level, and he predicted where it would lead, with great accuracy.His critics were legion; they reviled him as a reactionary, ridiculous, ignorant, hysterical, incoherent, and blindly prejudiced, noting with dismay that 'his influence in leading people in the wrong way is considerable.'Yet Chesterton was right, and the consensus of scientists, political leaders, and the intelligentsia was wrong.Chesterton lived to see he horrors of Nazi Germany.This book is worth reading because, in retrospect, it is clear that Chesterton's arguments were perfectly sensible and deserving of an answer, and yet he was simply shouted down.And because the most repellent ideas of eugenics are being promoted again in the 21st century, under various guises.The editor of this edition has included many quotations from eugenicists of the 1920s, which read astonishingly like the words of contemporary prophets of doom. Some things never change -- including unfortunately, the gullibility of press and public.We human beings do not like to look back on our mistakes.But we should.

I've never read a Crichton novel and don't know how good Next is, but the novelist's take on Chesterton is excellent. As is often pointed out, Chesterton is arguably even more timely today than he was 80-100 years ago.

Related Excerpts and Articles

Ignatius Insight author page for Chesterton
The Emancipation of Domesticity
| G.K. Chesterton

The God in the
| G.K. Chesterton

What Is America? |
G.K. Chesterton

Mary and the Convert |
G.K. Chesterton

Seeing With the Eyes of G.K. Chesterton | Dale Ahlquist

Recovering The Lost Art of Common Sense | Dale Ahlquist

Common Sense Apostle &
Cigar Smoking Mystic
| Dale Ahlquist

and Saint Francis
| Joseph Pearce

Chesterton and
the Delight of Truth
| James V. Schall, S.J.

The Life and
Theme of G.K. Chesterton
| Randall Paine | An Introduction to The
Autobiography of G.K. Chesterton

Hot Water and
Fresh Air: On Chesterton and His Foes
| Janet E. Smith

ChesterBelloc | Ralph McInerny


(Via Insight Scoop | The Ignatius Press Blog.)

Science v. Scripture. One of the classic secularist canards is that religion causes...

Just a reminder that scientific thinking found itself in the Middle Ages:

Science v. Scripture.

One of the classic secularist canards is that religion causes...
: "Science v. Scripture.

One of the classic secularist canards is that religion causes religious minds to close down, oppose scientific advances in knowledge, and live in a state of perpetual cognitive dissonance.

But what is religion to do when an interpretation of sacred text is undermined by advances in knowledge of the material world?

It may be surprising to many that the answer, according to"

(Via Lex Communis.)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI on Saint Matthew

Just a reminder that today is his feast day:

Pope Benedict XVI on Saint Matthew: "

From the Holy Father's August 30, 2006, General Audience, which is one of 31 audience addresses compiled in Jesus, The Apostles, and the Early Church (Ignatius Press, 2007):

Thus, in the figure of Matthew, the Gospels present to us a true and proper paradox: those who seem to be the farthest from holiness can even become a model of the acceptance of God's mercy and offer a glimpse of its marvelous effects in their own lives.

St John Chrysostom makes an important point in this regard: he notes that only in the account of certain calls is the work of those concerned mentioned. Peter, Andrew, James and John are called while they are fishing, while Matthew, while he is collecting tithes.

These are unimportant jobs, Chrysostom comments, 'because there is nothing more despicable than the tax collector, and nothing more common than fishing' (In Matth. Hom.: PL 57, 363). Jesus' call, therefore, also reaches people of a low social class while they go about their ordinary work.

Another reflection prompted by the Gospel narrative is that Matthew responds instantly to Jesus' call: 'he rose and followed him'. The brevity of the sentence clearly highlights Matthew's readiness in responding to the call. For him it meant leaving everything, especially what guaranteed him a reliable source of income, even if it was often unfair and dishonorable. Evidently, Matthew understood that familiarity with Jesus did not permit him to pursue activities of which God disapproved.

Read further excerpts from Jesus, The Apostles, and the Early Church.


(Via Insight Scoop | The Ignatius Press Blog.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

"Science suffers from an excess of significance" This article...

Oh dear, I think my confidence interval in science just went down...

"Science suffers from an excess of significance" This article...: "'Science suffers from an excess of significance'

This article suffers from an excess of quotable lines:

...most published research findings are wrong.

'A new claim about a research finding is more likely to be false than true.'

...Dr. Ioannidis and his colleagues analyzed 432 published research claims concerning gender and genes. Upon closer scrutiny, almost none of them held up. Only one was replicated.

'People are messing around with the data to find anything that seems significant....'

'The correction isn't the ultimate truth either.'
My take on the field of statistics is that it's an arithmetic discipline for making people feel comfortable. Just think about the term '95% confidence': it's a bait-and-switch trick, which works by giving the result of a convoluted and artificial computation the same name as a vaguely understood emotional or intellectual state favorable for decision-making.

Which isn't to say it's all smoke and mirrors. As a statistician I know likes to say, Las Vegas is filled with monuments to the Central Limit Theorem, and all horse players die broke.

But what Dr. Ioannidis is pointing out in the article is that, too often, scientists conduct experiments in statistical alchemy: they want to turn a set of data into a statistically significant conclusion. They do that by loading the data into a statistical analysis software tool, then monkey around until they get a number less than 0.05 (or, if they're desperate, 0.1) to come out of the function they've been told computes significance.

And guess what? Given enough time and experience with the analysis software, it's usually possible, one way or another, to get a score under 0.05.

What does the score actually mean? Well, it means something, probably, but to know just what you have to carefully work through every step taken to obtain it. And statistics is known for counter- and contra-intuitive reasoning, so if you're not an expert in statistics (NOTE: 6 semester hours of undergrad statistics doesn't make you an expert, nor does unlimited hours using statistical analysis software), you shouldn't be too confident your confidence interval tells you what you tell yourself it tells you.

But we're all taught the Scientific Method, which in its simplest form is:
  1. Make a hypothesis.
  2. Test the hypothesis.
  3. Reject the hypothesis if it fails the test.
Rejecting a hypothesis you thought up all by your own self is hard enough when the data proves it's false. Rejecting it when the data doesn't prove anything at all is near impossible, almost as difficult as getting more money after admitting you didn't learn much from the money you've already spent.

I'm not knocking science, or even statistics (which, considered as an applied discipline, is full of deucedly clever (and undeniably useful) stuff). But we have to understand things as they are, not as they are idealized to be, and that includes understanding that the majority of scientists are lousy statisticians.

(Link via Eve Tushnet.)"

(Via Disputations.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

World Championship 2007

A round-robin tournament is underway in Mexico City. It's currently in Round Five. Anand and Kramnik, the current world champion, share the lead with 2.5 points each. I have no favourite in this contest. It just seems odd to me that the championship is being determined by a round-robin rather than the traditional match play. The championship format will revert to match play after this, however.

You can follow the games on FICS.

Singer's Mother

Peter Singer, a controversial philosopher ensconced at Princeton, was on my mind yesterday, as we wound up our consideration of Utilitarianism. His radical view of defining humanity led him to declare that Alzheimer's victims are not human and could be euthanized morally.

HIs mother, it turned out, came down with Alzheimer's and was institutionalized. So this was brought up as hypocrisy on his part. His defence, apparently, was that his sister shared responsibility for their mother's care. (He implied that he would have followed through on his beliefs, if he had been solely responsible). The writer(s) of the Wikipedia article then go on to say that Singer only said it would be morally acceptable, not compulsory, to euthanize these kind of patients.

This is true enough, as far as Utilitarianism is concerned. There are no overarching rules about behaviour. Only the exact situation and the consequences of proposed actions determine the right thing to do. There could be a case where keeping one or more of these sufferers alive would serve some greater good for the humans. So, my concerns about his being a hypocrite are resolved in his favour. His espousing a monstrous philosophy while teaching from a prestigious position at a well-respected university, on the other hand, remains a grave concern.

Now on to Kant. Ugh.

Inspired by the Nazis

This bit of history was part of the reason, psychologically, that I liked the term Islamo-fascist. But I've since opted to call them by the name that more closely resembles one they generally give themselves: jihadis.

Inspired by the Nazis: "[People in the West are usually not aware that many Muslims respect and love Adolf Hitler. Here is a little info on the historical ties between the National Socialists and Muslims of Jerusalem.--Abu Daoud]

Inspired by the Nazis
by Suzanne Fields for The Washington Times

A major figure connecting Nazi and Islamist ideologies was Amin al-Husseini, a self-styled 'grand mufti' of Jerusalem who fomented riots against the Jews in the 1920s and ordered the murder of any Muslim who traded with Jewish settlers. Adolf Eichmann visited him in Palestine in the 1930s; he was a friend of Heinrich Himmler. He was a guest of Hitler in Berlin from 1941 until the end of the war in 1945 and directed the Muslim SS in the Balkans. He was responsible for stopping the Bulgarian government from releasing thousands of Bulgarian Jewish children to travel to Palestine. 'It was he,' says historian Paul Johnson, 'who first recruited Wahabi fanatics from Saudi Arabia, transforming them into killers of Jews — another tradition that continues to this day.' What's important about the Nazi-Islamist connection is the way it inspires terrorists today. It's fashionable to say that anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism, but that's misleading. In its charter, the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine, which has morphed into the terrorist organization Hamas, enshrines conspiracy theories which blame the Jews for everything from the French Revolution to the Communist revolution.

(Via New Advent World Watch.)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Darwinism is the Enron of Biology

Denyse's take on Fr. Neuhaus' slap down of the NYT:

First Things editor scolds New York Times over Dawkins's review: "Apparently, in the most recent edition of First Things, Fr. Richard Neuhaus defends Mike Behe, author of Edge of Evolution. It's not on line yet, but Fr. Neuhaus says, among other things,

You usually know that somebody is losing the argument when he loses his cool and resorts to bluster, abuse, caricature, and the invocation of authorities who agree with him.
He is referring, of course, to Richard Dawkins's attempt to trash Behe's book in The New York Times. He notes the curious fact that the Times should never have given the book to Dawkins to review anyway, without giving Behe the right of reply (which it would never dare to do):
It is hard to know what purpose is served by the Book Review in having Dawkins review Behe, except, possibly, to ostracize anyone who presumes to raise questions about prevailing Darwinist orthodoxies and, perhaps, to pander to the smug prejudices of the presumed readership of the Times. That does not instill confidence in the Darwinist materialism that they are so desperately defending.

This is all particularly interesting because Neuhaus is not especially one of the ID think tank Discovery Institute fans.

Rather, it sounds (especially when you read the whole thing) as though he is beginning to get the same picture as so many of the rest of us: Darwinism is the Enron of biology. The fact that he scolds the New York Times over Dawkins's review is interesting in view of the question raised by some about whether Dawkins had actually read Behe's book.

Also: Cameron Wybrow, who got an honest review of Mike Behe's Edge of Evolution published in the Philadelphia Enquirer, found himself taking to task a completely silly review in the Winnipeg Free Press. Put it this way: It is impossible for U of Winnipeg molecular biologist Janice Dodd to consider the possibility that Darwinism might not be true. So she doesn't. Read her review, then Wybrow's comment.

I was travelling on a Toronto streetcar today with a fellow journalist who was musing about the sheer gullibility of Darwinists. Learned in history, he pointed out that Darwinists had originally attacked Mendel because Mendel cited statistics for genetics - instead of the vagueness the Darwinists so love. He and I believe in a traditional religion, but the Darwinists believe in magic."

(Via Post-Darwinist.)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Yo, Newsweek

Amy Welborn picks up on Jeff Miller's mocking of Newsweek:

Yo, Newsweek: "Read this:
I have quite an announcement to make. I am now a reporter for Newsweek magazine! I always felt a call to be a reporter for Newsweek magazine so this is something very important for me. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am at this news and the impact this has on my life [...]"

(Via Charlotte was Both.)

Cardinal Dulles on God, Schönborn, evolution

Here's something to tickle your brain on a Sunday:

Cardinal Dulles on God, Schönborn, evolution: "

From an article, 'God and Evolution,' from the October 2007 issue of First Things (ht: Egberto, for sending me the link), written by Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J. (author of numerous books, including A History of Apologetics):

The pope was interpreted in some circles as
having accepted the neo-Darwinian view that evolution is sufficiently
explained by random mutations and natural selection (or ‘survival of
the fittest’) without any kind of governing purpose or finality.
Seeking to offset this misreading, Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, the
archbishop of Vienna, published on July 7, 2005, an op-ed in the New York Times,
in which he quoted a series of pronouncements of John Paul II to the
contrary. For example, the pope declared at a General Audience of July
19, 1985: ‘The evolution of human beings, of which science seeks to
determine the stages and discern the mechanism, presents an internal
finality which arouses admiration. This finality, which directs beings
in a direction for which they are not responsible, obliges one to
suppose a Mind which is its inventor, its creator.’ In this connection,
the pope said that to ascribe human evolution to sheer chance would be
an abdication of human intelligence.

Cardinal Schönborn was also able to cite Pope
Benedict XVI, who stated in his inauguration Mass as pope on April 24,
2005: ‘We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution.
Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed,
each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.’

Cardinal Schönborn’s article was interpreted
by many readers as a rejection of evolution. Some letters to the editor
accused him of favoring a retrograde form of creationism and of
contradicting John Paul II. They seemed unable to grasp the fact that
he was speaking the language of classical philosophy and was not opting
for any particular scientific position. His critique was directed
against those neo-Darwinists who pronounced on philosophical and
theological questions by the methods of natural science.

Several authorities on these questions, such
as Kenneth R. Miller and Stephen M. Barr, in their replies to
Schönborn, insisted that one could be a neo-Darwinist in science and an
orthodox Christian believer. Distinguishing different levels of
knowledge, they contended that what is random from a scientific point
of view is included in God’s eternal plan. God, so to speak, rolls the
dice but is able by his comprehensive knowledge to foresee the result
from all eternity.

This combination of Darwinism in science and
theism in theology may be sustainable, but it is not the position
Schönborn intended to attack. As he made clear in a subsequent article
in FIRST THINGS (January 2006), he was taking exception only to those
neo-­Darwinists—and they are many—who maintain that no valid
investigation of nature could be conducted except in the reductive mode
of mechanism, which seeks to explain everything in terms of quantity,
matter, and motion, excluding specific differences and purpose in
nature. He quoted one such neo-Darwinist as stating: ‘Modern science
directly implies that the world is organized strictly in accordance
with deterministic principles or chance. There are no purposive
principles whatsoever in nature. There are no gods and no designing
forces rationally detectable.’

Cardinal Schönborn shrewdly observes that
positivistic scientists begin by methodically excluding formal and
final causes. Having then described natural processes in terms of
merely efficient and material causality, they turn around and reject
every other kind of explanation. They simply disallow the questions
about why anything (including human life) exists, how we differ in
nature from irrational animals, and how we ought to conduct our lives.

Read the entire piece. Cardinal Schönborn's book,
Chance of Purpose: Creation, Evolution, and a Rational Faith
, will soon be available from Ignatius Press. I've not yet seen it, but am looking forward to reading it. On a related note, see Cardinal Schönborn's article, 'Reasonable Science, Reasonable Faith' (First Things, April 2007); other articles on faith, science, and evolution can be found on the Intelligent Project website. And some Ignatius Insight interviews/articles of note:

The Mythological Conflict Between Christianity and Science | An interview with physicist Dr. Stephen Barr
The Mystery of Human Origins | Mark Brumley
Designed Beauty and Evolutionary Theory | Thomas Dubay, S.M.
The Universe is Meaning-full : An interview with Dr. Benjamin Wiker


(Via Insight Scoop | The Ignatius Press Blog.)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

To Be or Not to Be...

Shakespeare was the question. I just now noticed a comment on my brief post on the Did-Shakespeare-really-write-all-that-stuff controversy. So, as a courtesty, here is the link to a post of "Bing's" friend about the issue. Let the readers judge for theirselves. (Is that English?)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Iraq Sunni mourners vow revenge

The very strength of Al Qaeda (it's ruthlessness) may be proving to be it's weakness, as well. The Sunni's are turning on them in outrage at their murderous rampage. Mind you, while they were killing only Americans and other foreigners there was no problem.

Iraq Sunni mourners vow revenge: "Sunni Arab tribesmen vow revenge for the killing of a leader who opposed al-Qaeda in Iraq."

(Via BBC News.)

Exaltation of the Cross

Today's feast is explained in Amy Welborn's post:

Exaltation of the Cross: "On the feast:

This feast was observed in Rome before the end of the seventh century. It commemorates the recovery of the Holy Cross, which had been placed on Mt. Calvary by St. Helena and preserved in Jerusalem, but then had fallen into the hands of Chosroas, King of the Persians. The precious relic was recovered [...]"

(Via Charlotte was Both.)

On Wars...and Wars of Ideas

Read the full article. Father Schall is applying the thesis that wars being with ideas to the war with Bin Laden's Al Qaeda.

On Wars...and Wars of Ideas: "

On Wars...and Wars of Ideas | Fr. James V. Schall, S.J. | September 14, 2007

' '' ''

All wars are first fought
out—or, better, argued about--in the mind. Because they are in minds and
not on battlefields these wars are not violent. They can even be friendly. Wars
are not caused by wars. They are caused by ideas. Ideas as such are good. We
could not eliminate ideas that cause wars if we wanted to, though we can
understand why they can be wrong. But we understand this wrongness only with
another idea. The adventure of the mind is to find out which ideas are true.
The adventure goes on all the time. The mind also needs to find what is true in
ideas that are false since no idea exists that does not contain some truth.

The ideas that cause wars
are not initially conceived as militant, but as an understanding of reality.
Even then, they do not cause conflict until put into effect and meet
resistance, ultimately from other ideas. The purpose of war is to establish the
truth or superiority of an idea. Ideas do not always win just because they are
true. One suspects that true ideas often lose. This is why, behind ideas and
their carrying out, lies divine providence, which can bring out the good that
is found in what is otherwise evil. Evil is ultimately to be rejected and punished
when chosen.

Read the entire article...


(Via Insight Scoop | The Ignatius Press Blog.)

Mark Shea is talking about Harry Over at the First Things blog...

The conversation is now elevated to a higher plane...

I'm talking about Harry Over at the First Things blog...: "I'm talking about Harry Over at the First Things blog

And the mail is starting to roll in already:

Just read your blog on FT. Brilliant. Very glad, also, to see that yourMary book has found a publisher.

How lovely to see your article in First Things this morning. I haven't read the Harry Potter series [haven't had to--my sons are grown] but I have followed the dispiriting controversy over it. Is it demonic or isn't it? It embarrasses me because it so trivializes the reality of evil.

The burden of your article is so welcome--that the knitted brow and foofaraw are ungenerous and unfounded.

[Rowling was a classical scholar. Her Latin phrases, I'm told on good authority, are moreaccurate, more grammatically correct than the ecclesiastical Latin we take for granted in the old rite.]

I participated in a radio discussion with you on WLCR in Louisville a
fewmonths ago. We had a spirited disagreement on the nature and/or definition of torture, which was not resolved - at least not during the show.

Anyway, it was an honor to have particpated in tha with you and I wanted to say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for the Harry Potter article in First Things.

My son read the first three or so and got bored. He does much prefer Tolkein and Lewis, but he did enjoy the Potter stuff.

I think this nonsense over Harry Potter, even among good Catholics istotally that - nonsense, and it troubles me that otherwise clear thinking, holy people can get it so wrong, and seemingly, from thin air.

I expect as much out of evangelical Protestants, whose intellectual veracity can at times be suspect, but never of more informed Catholics.

Thank you for putting us back on common sense and let us hope, at least for evangelization reasons, we put the Harry Potter worries behind us.

Thanks all!

I've been pondering why it is the books seem to evoke such strong feelings. I suspect it goes back to plain and simple love. Christian critics of the books are, in essence, saying to parents, 'You are bad. You are a bad parent. You are either stupid or wicked, or both. You are too dumb to see that you are actually ushering your children directly into direct opposition to the will of God himself and urging your child to strike up a friendship with the Prince of Darkness himself. You are injecting the worst sort of postmodern amoral nihilism directly into the bloodstream of your little child. And when God sends me to warn you, you reject me. So you are rejecting God.' For some reason, parents take umbrage with this sort of thing. Some of us would like better evidence for this accusation than the spectacularly wrong-headed exegeses of Michael O'Brien and the lies and distortions which Lifesite tells about Pope Benedict.

What I hear in these letters and elsewhere is *relief*. As I have mentioned in the past, one of the things that occurs from time to time in the life of the Church is that various subcultures within the Church create a sort of faux Magisterium which they take far more seriously than the real Magisterium. This is particularly the case when the bishops have failed to distinguish themselves in holiness. I know this for a fact because I've been anointed a Magisterial Authority from time to time when I'm nothing of the kind. 'Mark Shea (or Scott Hahn or Jimmy Akin or Ros Moss or Michael O'Brien or EWTN Talking Head #6) says...' gets conflated with 'The Church teaches...' In the case of Harry, a great many Catholics fell into the notion that the Magisterial office of the Church somehow had condemned Harry because a) a few Personalities had done so and b) Lifesite fraudulently claimed that B16 had their back. Result: a lot of fans of Harry (like the relieved people above) felt as though they had to keep their heads down lest they be tarred as heterodox, tainted with occult influences, dissenting, deceived, bad parents, and all the rest of it.

Rubbish. There is not a thing in the world to stop a Catholic parent from enjoying these books. They are a fine teaching opportunity. They are funny. They are engaging. They are chockablock with Christian (and mythic and literary) references and you should not let yourself be cowed by this false exercise of a faux Magisterium that has absolutely no authority to make you feel guilty, unclean, wicked or dumb for enjoying an innocent pleasure. Nobody has to like the books. But nobody has the authority to diss the quality of your faith or your competence as a parent for enjoying them."

(Via Catholic and Enjoying It!.)

Note: When musicians are applauded at Mass, something bad is going on.

This is a pet peeve for me, as well.

Note: When musicians are applauded at Mass, something bad is going on.: "A friend who is possibly more sarcastic than I am told me the following story. He was visiting the parish nearest his house, which is not his parish. The choir (music group, whatever you want to call it) was up front and elevated in a prominent place. At the end of Mass, the entire congregation gave them a rousing round of applause. Paul, on the other hand, had to fight back the urge to ask the priest, 'Father, the performance was great. When the heck is Mass?'

Just as the homily is not supposed to be a stand up act, so music at Mass is not a performance. It is an act of prayer and an offering to God. If musicians are applauded, the first question that should be asked is, 'What is being done that makes people believe that this is a performance?'"

(Via New Advent World Watch.)

The Spiritual Brain: Introduction

This is an interesting series of teasers for the book, The Spiritual Brain:

The Spiritual Brain: Introduction: "Because so many people have asked me what The Spiritual Brain: A neuroscientist's case for the existence of the soul addresses, I thought I would post the Introduction. It doesn't deal with everything the book addresses, but it gives you some idea.

In this book, we intend to show you that your mind does exist, that it is not merely your brain. Your thoughts and feelings cannot be dismissed or explained away by firing synapses and physical phenomena alone. In a solely material world, 'will power' or 'mind over matter' are illusions, there is no such thing as purpose or meaning, there is no room for God. Yet many people have experience of these things. We intend to argue that these experiences are real. In contrast, many materialists now argue that notions like meaning or purpose do not correspond to reality; they are merely adaptations for human survival. In other words, they have no existence beyond the evolution of circuits in our brains.

Can we prove God exists from neuroscience? No, but if your mind is real, a cosmic Mind would best account for it. If spirituality is good for you (and it is), that's because spirituality responds to the way things really are in our universe. Come along with us and see for yourself.

Part One: Neuroscience as if your mind is real
Part Two: Who has enough faith to be a materialist?
Part Three: The uses of non-materialist neuroscience
Part Four: Materialism is running on empty

Next: Part One: Neuroscience as if your mind is real"

(Via Mindful Hack.)

Catholic Beer Review

is a blog I can live with, even though a number of the recommended beers are unavailable here. Only in Wisconsin, you say? Pity.

Ten Beers I Go Back To Again and Again: "This list does not exactly comprise my top ten favorites, although it's close. If it did then certain really spectacular beers, like Fuller's 1845, Chimay Grande Reserve, Old Rasputin's Russian Imperial Stout, or several of the fabulous beers from the Founder's Brewery in Grand Rapids, MI would be on here. But those are too expensive or (for me) too inaccessible to be regulars. Rather, this list is of the ten beers that I find myself going back to time and again. They're consistently good and readily available, at least at my locale.

There are some beers that could have been on this list—notably some of the offerings from the Samuel Smith brewery. But they come in clear bottles and the CBR is officially boycotting all beers that come in clear bottles. That is a rant for another posting.

So without further ado, here are ten of my old friends:

Guinness Extra Stout—A classic. This beer is black and very assertive with roasted grain, coffee, and molasses on the palate. It's rich, tangy, well balanced. Great. Like all ales, this should not be drunk too cold. This is the foreign export extra stout version, not the more watery draft version. I like the draft version with its nitrogen pour and creamy head, but it's just a totally different animal. To my tastes, this wins hands down.

Fuller's London Pride Pale Ale— An incredibly well balanced beer. I think that for me this represents the quintessential example of a British pale ale. Smooth, not overly hoppy or overpoweringly malty. Classic British flowerly hop presence. Perfectly balanced and every sip a pleasure. Incredibly good.

Fuller's London Porter—This beer blows me away; I can hardly believe how good this is. This very dark brown (not black) beer starts with slightly thick mouthfeel that leads to a creamy, slightly roasted, slightly bitter but perfectly balanced follow-through of porter perfection. Bittersweet chocolate, coffee, and I catch a touch of licorice. The first time I tried this, I had a Fuller's London Pride and the London Porter in the same evening (12 Aug 2002) and I have never tasted two such great beers together, ever.

Tyranena Bitter Woman IPA—You may not be able to get this fabulous beer where you are. It's brewed here in Wisconsin and I love it. A very complex malt palate (the brewery lists 2-row, Vienna, Carapils, Wheat, Caramel malts in the grain bill) is supported by a very assertive but absolutely clean bittering. Citrus and pine notes prevail on the nose and the palate. An outstanding American IPA (India Pale Ale). Get it if you can!

J.W. Dundee's Honey Brown Lager—Mildly sweet, distinctive honey finish, mildly malty, and fairly low hop bitterness. Nice rich brown color. Smooth and infinitely quaffable. I have drunk a lot of this and I keep coming back for more. It is reasonably priced to boot.

Sleeman Original Dark—To my taste this is a dead ringer for Newcastle. In fact, it more often tastes the way Newcastle should taste, since it seems nigh unto impossible to get a fresh bottle of Newcastle. Sleeman, on the other hand, is brewed on contract right here at the La Crosse City Brewery, so I have an easy time getting it fresh. It's a brown ale, slightly nutty with nice caramel and a hint of molasses. Great.

Young's Double Chocolate Stout—Made with cocoa and chocolate malt (hence the double chocolate in the title) this is a silky, smooth, dessert-style beer. Very low hop bittering. It should not be consumed too cold—if you start it on the cold side it will get much better as it warms up. This beer should not, repeat NOT, be drunk with a meal. It's totally ruined by food. Drink it by itself or with a rich dessert.

Samuel Adams Cream Stout—This is not as sweet as I would expect from a cream stout. The roasted and coffee notes are pronounced, the chocolate less so. Starts almost tart when very cool, but sweetens as it warms. Nice hefty mouthfeel and a perfect malt and hop bittering balance. This is widely available and, at least in my locale, can often be had on sale for a very good price.

Samuel Adams Boston Ale—Note this is the Boston Ale, not the Boston Lager. The Boston Lager is okay—the Boston Ale is really yummy! This ale stands in the British style; it is decidedly malty, with the hop presence perfectly balanced. This beer is slightly fruity, but only mildly estery so it is more tame than some British ales. A rich mahogany in the glass with a nice stable head. This is hard for me to find locally, but when I travel I try to grab a six pack. I come back to it again and again, which is why it's on this list.

Goose Island India Pale Ale—I have not generally been a fan of the Goose Island products. Neither the Honker's Ale nor the Hexnut Ale from this Chicago microbrewery do a thing for me. Some years ago I somewhat reluctantly bought a six-pack of the India Pale Ale because it was on sale and I had never tried it. Wow! This medium bodied beer has a slightly thick mouth feel. The first sip shouts, Hops! The strong grapefruit notes indicate that there are almost certainly Cascade hops here, but probably at least two other varieties as well bringing a pleasing complexity. The finish is markedly bitter, but with a nice balance of malt and a very slight sweetness. Great!

Please share some of your own favorites in the Comments. What beers do you go back to time and again?

(Via New Advent World Watch.)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Global Warming Consensus Alert: Could This Be The End of Science?

We're also skeptical about the Global Warming religion in our household. I'm old enough to remember the Ice Age scare of the seventies.

Global Warming Consensus Alert: Could This Be The End of Science?: "If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from supporters of climate change alarmism, it’s this: Science = consensus, and consensus = TRUTH.

Well, it appears that science and truth have taken another hit:

A new analysis of peer-reviewed literature reveals that more than 500 scientists have published evidence refuting at least one element of current man-made global warming scares. More than 300 of the scientists found evidence that 1) a natural moderate 1,500-year climate cycle has produced more than a dozen global warmings similar to ours since the last Ice Age and/or that 2) our Modern Warming is linked strongly to variations in the sun’s irradiance.

Via Henry Payne at Planet Gore."

(Via Acton Institute PowerBlog.)

Rising Popularity of the Legalization of Polygamy

This isn't on our schedule of moral controversies in the Philosophy course, but it would make for some interesting discussions. And don't get me going about how the Supreme Court of Canada discovered specific protection for homosexuals in the Constitution. At least with the Americans they can argue that the Founders reactions to new situations might have to be imagined or new interpretations created given two hundred years of history since the writing of the document.

Chrétien was Minister of Justice when the text of the Charter was written, just a few short years before the discovery occurred. The politicians made a prudential decision to leave sexual orientation out of the text, and, lo and behold, a few short years later their appointees find it there. Humph!

Rising Popularity of the Legalization of Polygamy: "

In Canada, polygamy is oozing onto the public square as a result of same-sex marriage lending legitimacy to some of it’s argument. What’s different in this case is that a majority of the anti-polygamy lobby is being fueled by opressive feminists who, because of their ideology, find polygamy repugnant. Now that Pandora’s box has been opened, on what grounds can the Canadian government ‘fairly’ prevent voluntary plural marriage?

Western Catholic Reporter



Mark Shea and Pete Vere Defend Harry Potter (and I Agree)

This subject (Are the Harry Potter novels evil/?) comes up occasionally in our household, only as a matter of whether this is an abysmally ignorant question or merely misinformed. I've read the full set and enjoyed them, though I still think a little editing here and there would have helped. On my unofficial, personal scale, The Lord of the Rings being best and the Narnia being ok, but written for children, Rawling's series lands in between.

Mark Shea and Pete Vere Defend Harry Potter (and I Agree): "Harry Potter: sinister, evil figure, while Tolkien's Frodo is Christlike?

I've had posted links about Harry Potter, both pro, con, and 'neutral' for a few years now, on my Romantic and Imaginative Theology: Inklings of the World Beyond web page (bottom section). See Mark's posts (I've listed them in chronological order) and the usual 14,532 comments also:

Friend of the Blog John Granger"

(Via Cor ad cor loquitur.)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Happiness and Utility

No, I don't mean the telephone or cable. We're now investigating Utilitarianism; specifically, we're reading a section from John Stuart Mill. Our reading includes his famous quip: "It is better to be a man dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied." In our present consumerist society, I have doubts as to how saleable this position is, currently. "Have it your way"; "I did it my way"; and so on. Virtue just isn't on the agenda of those who are selling us on how wonderful we really are.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

For Your Viewing Needs...

The latest That Catholic Show is up. Confession is good for the soul...

Every Once in a While Godless Editors Look Up from Their Monitors...

Mark Shea hits this one on the nose:

Every Once in a While Godless Editors Look Up from Their Monitors...: "Every Once in a While Godless Editors Look Up from Their Monitors and Are Astonished to Find Religion is Still There

Then the announce it is 'back'--as though it had left."

(Via Catholic and Enjoying It!.)

Fr. Benedict Groeschel responds to critics of Mother Teresa

And here a posting intersecting Father Groeschel and Mother Teresa:

Fr. Benedict Groeschel responds to critics of Mother Teresa: "

Not only is Fr. Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R. (Ignatius Insight author page) a priest and noted author, he is a psychologist and a spiritual director who knew Mother Teresa personally. So who better to respond to some of the silly pseudo-psychoanalysis (emphasis on psycho in some cases) being performed on Mother Teresa by folks who likely know less about her, psychology, and Catholic spirituality than I do about the mating rituals of the Queen Alexandra's birdwing butterfly? From the First Things blog:

The unfortunate publicity and distortions to the point of calumny that have surrounded the publication of the book Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light,
edited by Fr. Brian Kolodiejchuk, M.C., the postulator of her cause,
have caused confusion to many and much pain to the Missionaries of
Charity and their close friends. One leading newsmagazine even
published a long article by Mother Teresa’s most severe and profane
critic without any other commentary. The author attempted to
psychoanalyze Mother Teresa’s experiences, which is both insulting and
absurd. He never knew Mother, never had the chance to observe her
behavior or life, and he has no serious training in psychology. As a
psychologist who knew Mother Teresa for thirty years, I feel I must
make some response to this absurdity and offer some helpful
explanations for those who were surprised by the darkness revealed in
Mother Teresa’s personal letters.

Although I was not privy to her spiritual darkness, and I never
received the kind of letters from her that her spiritual directors
received, I was well aware that there was a seriousness, even a
somberness, about her. I assumed that this sorrow was occasioned by
what happens every day in the world. When there were tragedies, she
would talk about them and encourage us to turn trustingly to God to
bring good out of evil.

During the thirty years when I knew Mother Teresa well, I never observed anything other than a tremendous faith and charity.

Read the entire article.

Related pages from

Interview with Fr. Groeschel (June 2004)
Excerpts from The Rosary: Chain of Hope
The Church of Latter Day Sinners
Arise From Darkness

Fr. Groeschel's books published by Ignatius Press:

' '' ''
The Drama of Reform
Arise From Darkness: What to Do When Life Doesn't Make Sense
The Reform of Renewal
Rosary: The Chain of Hope

Still Small Voice: A Practical Guide on Reported Revelations
Praying To Our Lord Jesus Christ: Prayers and Meditations Through the Centuries'


(Via Insight Scoop | The Ignatius Press Blog.)

Blog Round-up

T. S. O'rama's round-ups are quite good and I look forward to them. The first citation, which ponders the relationship between Mother Teresa's "Dark Night" and the popular "Footprints on the Sand", is particularly insightful:

          [W hy does]...: "


[Why does] a culture that loves 'Footprints in the Sand' not understand the dryness that characterized much of Bl. Teresa of Calcutta's life? I suggested the difference was the industrial grade sentimentalism of 'Footprints' and the utter lack of sentimentalism in a decades-long dark night of the soul... The dark night of soul (to the extent I understand it) seems not only to be an utterly un-sentimental experience, but also to be a disinfectant against sentimentalism. Disconsolation neither supports nor can be supported by mushy-heartedness. I think it's no accident that 'Footprints' is written from the perspective of one looking back. The happy ending is, not merely assured, but already attained. The suffering is over; all that's left is an academic curiosity, a question that seems not to have occurred to the narrator until he asks it...To the extent someone is governed by sentimentalism, purgation will seem like folly (or possibly scandal). Sentimentalism is a contradiction in which pat answers generate feelings of satisfaction, and 'Who can know God's counsel, or who can conceive what the LORD intends?' is an answer too pat to satisfy those with real needs. It's not for nothing, though, that the book it comes from is called Wisdom. - Tom of Disputations

On a recent EWTN show on marriage one of the guests commented that in Herzagovie that the marriage custom is that the bride and groom both put their hands on a cross and kiss it instead of each other after saying their vows. The priest reminds them that they have not found the perfect partner but rather their cross. If they let go of each other, they let go of the cross. The divorce rate is among the lowest in the world. - commenter on Disputations

...The increasing, detailed, intrusive regulation of life, the national desire for control, control, control. Everything is the business of some form of government. Want to paint your shutters? The condo association won’t let you. Let dogs in your bar? Never. Decide who to sell your house to? Racial matter. Own a dog? Shot card, pooper-scooper, leash, gotta be spayed, etc. Have a bar for men only, women only, whites or blacks only? Here come the federal marshals. What isn’t controlled by government is controlled by the crypto-vindictive mob rule of political correctness. This wasn’t always in the American character. Add the continuing presence of police in the schools, the arrest in handcuffs of children of seven, the expulsions for drawing a picture of a soldier with a gun. Something very twisted is going on. -- Fred Reed via Jeff Culbreath's 'Stony Creek Digest'

I blog drunk. Does that count? - -- the Crescat's response to Eric Scheske's request for Catholic beer blogs

A man asked a priest, 'is it ok if I smoke while I pray?' The priest said no - that would be disrespectful. A bit later he asked, 'can I pray while I smoke?' the priest said yes, pray all the time. - Fred of 'Deep Furrows' on priorities

Is there such a thing as Catholic fiction?...The consensus we finally reached was that Catholic fiction is fiction which takes place in a universe in which Catholicism is objectively true... It need not overtly proclaim the author's religious beliefs, though they will be implicit in the work. And only the poorest specimens of Catholic fiction will be thinly fictionalized apologetics... It's a book in which Catholicism is the underlying physics of the world so baptism has a real effect on a person's identity and prayer can be surprisingly efficacious. - Catholic Bibliophagist

I've always thought that if the Church wanted to be useful on [healthcare], She should organize a national, non-profit health insurance program run by one of the religious orders who now run hospitals...In Italy, there is an insurance cooperative originally organized by Catholics, Cattolica Assicurazioni. It would also have the benefit of offering insurance that is in line with Catholic teaching, so that I don't have to worry if my premiums are going to fund certain drugs that don't correspond well with my faith...Many of the formerly not-for-profit insurance companies changed in the past decade to for-profits. They claimed that by attracting investment they would lower costs for their customers, but that doesn't appear to have panned out. - commenter Jack on 'Flos Carmeli'

For better or worse, September 11, 2001 marked a watershed--a determined advance by a small group of highly active and motivated insurgents into the heartland. For a brief time we awoke and we responded as was just and proper--we sought out the root of the problem and attempted to destroy it. We have not been successful, not for lack of trying but because there is no root. Rather there is a mycelium--a network--small and invisible--that at any time can give rise to yet another fungal bloom. A dandelion is relatively easy to confront, mushrooms much less so. September 11 does not justify any and all actions, but whenever we pause to question what we are doing and whether it is right, the memory of it should add weight to the reflection. September 11 was a declaration on the part of a very small part of the world that they have no intention of tolerating or respecting anything outside of the range of their political and religious philosophy...We do an injustice to those innocent people who died that day if we ever forget the truths that made this country great. - Steven Riddle, on the 6th anniversary of 9/11

The world of science lives fairly comfortably with paradox. We know that light is a wave, and also that light is a particle. The discoveries made in the infinitely small world of particle physics indicate randomness and chance, and I do not find it any more difficult to live with the paradox of a universe of randomness and chance and a universe of pattern and purpose than I do with light as a wave and light as a particle. Living with contradiction is nothing new to the human being. - Madeline L'Engle (1918-2007), via Therese of Exultet

As depressing the modern culture's view on marriage is it does make me reflect on how strong the role of grace is. Looking at the cultural indicators I think it is much more amazing that the divorce rate isn't much higher, but Jesus did promise that where sin abounds that grace abounds even more. The grace bandwidth is measured by Laud rate since we should certainly give praise and glorify God for it. Grace is what keeps me from being a pessimistic cynic since I know from experience He can touch even the most hardheaded individual. - Jeff of 'Curt Jester'

I'd never found Revelation particularly interesting reading. However, on further thought, it occurred to me that perhaps the fact that I found the book so uninteresting would be a good reason to go to the bible study. After all, it's part of the bible. I assumed that there must be something I was missing... So I've been going. It's still not my favorite book of the bible, but I think I'm beginning to 'get it' more than before...As the lamb opens the seals on the scroll, terrors are released upon the world to tear down the established order. In the context of last first/early second century, what is being discussed here is the chaos that doubtless must take place before the old pagan order of the ancient world can be remade according to the Christian faith...Those who have given their lives for the faith and ascended to the heavenly kingdom are saying 'faster please' -- asking when the reign of God on earth will begin. The answer is that they must wait until the suffering of the Church on Earth has reached its conclusion. Taken imminently, that might be taken to mean until a Christian society is established...On the one hand, we believe that through Christ's Word we've come to understand how humans are meant to live their lives, and believing that we know that there's a natural desire to want to re-order the world to function more according to that truth. On the other hand, Christian teaching pertains to how each one of us ought to lead our lives in order to one day be united with God in heaven; it does not describe a specific end state for earthly society. As such, attempts to perfect earthly society have distinct limitations. The question of how much one should strive to perfect earthly society (and in what areas and by what means) versus how much one should hunker down and focus on one's own progress towards God remains a fertile ground for argument between Christians. - Darwin Catholic"

(Via Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor.)

Nine/Eleven: A Remarkable Story

Father Groeschel told us this story at a conference here in Vancouver a few years ago, just before the accident that nearly killed him. This sent a chill up my spine at the time.

Nine/Eleven: A Remarkable Story: "About four years ago, I was visiting with Father Benedict Groeschel for a week, working closely with him daily to finish up the book that he was co-authoring with the now Bishop of Birmingham, Bishop Baker entitled When Did We See You Lord? On about the third day of my visit, while waiting for Father Benedict [...]"

(Via New Advent World Watch.)

Hans Küng needs to write less and read more

Kung was my least favourite theologian in the seventies and eighties. Time went to him every time they had an article on the Church or the Vatican. He was the anti-magisterium of the day. So, needless to say, I'm inclined to be sympathetic to any criticism offered.

Hans Küng needs to write less and

To say that Hans Küng's September 10th interview with Deutsche Welle is embarrassing might be an insult to embarrassment. Let's play the 'How Many Facts Can Hans Distort and Misrepresent Game,' shall we? Here goes (Küng's comments in bold):

'When we have a pope, who claims that -- as theological Lord of the
world -- only those who are with him are true Christians and that only
his Roman-Catholic Church is the true church, it gets on many people's
The Pope said that 'only those who are with him are true Christians'? Really? C'mon, Hans, read the document!

'Europeans look at it from the view of Islam's advancement from northern
Africa to Spain, between the eighth and 15th century and the leadership
of the Ottomans on the Balkan. They don't see that Christians not only
had the crusades, but until the 19th century they colonized the entire
Islamic area from Morocco to the Indonesian islands. That leads to
Um, if Islam was 'advancing' (translation: conquering by brute force and bloodshed) to Spain and western Europe (by the year 730), that strongly suggests the Crusades, which began in 1095—over 300 years later!—might have been in response to said 'advancements,' no? Hans, read this article, please.

'Unlike in previous times, it's no longer easy to get churches excited
about war. Of course more could be done, especially when it comes to
Sure 'nuf. More could be done. For one thing, Küng could start reading more, writing less.

'When the pope in [a much-publicized 2006 speech in the Bavarian town
of] Regensburg tried to define Islam as a religion of violence, he
noticed himself that he took the wrong path. You have to remember the
kind of trails of blood Christians left in history.'
Pope Benedict tried to define Islam as a religion of violence? And then he realized that he'd made a mistake? I must have missed all of that; could we please have a citation? Küng should stop reading the media reports and read the actual address given by the Pope.

'Then you become modest, and you won't say that we have the religion of
love and they have the religion of hate. Just like you and me, the
majority of Muslims in Egypt, Morocco, Afghanistan or Pakistan want to
have peace.'
Where, oh where did Pope Benedict ever say that Islam is a religion of hate? Where? I'm waiting....tick...tock...

'He [Benedict XVI] did notice that it [the Regensburg Address] was a mistake, and he had to take in quite a bit of criticism. He corrected his speech many times.' No, actually, he didn't. He said:

'At this time, I wish also to add that I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address at the University of Regensburg, which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims. These in fact were a quotation from a medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought. Yesterday, the Cardinal Secretary of State published a statement in this regard in which he explained the true meaning of my words. I hope that this serves to appease hearts and to clarify the true meaning of my address, which in its totality was and is an invitation to frank and sincere dialogue, with great mutual respect. This is the meaning of the discourse.'

Read it here.

'The Romans, the Roman bishop, i.e. the pope, have a hard time admitting
mistakes. When you have an ideology of infallibility, then infallible
mistakes will be made, and those cannot be corrected.'
Wow. You would think that a guy who wrote an entire book on papal infallibility might actually understand what papal infallibility is. Which means that either he doesn't (embarrassing) or he is being misleading (worse than embarrassing). But, to point out the obvious, the Regensburg Address, while certainly a serious and important pronouncement, was not 'infallible,' nor did anyone with any commonsense or knowledge of Catholic teaching act as though it was. Well, take heart, Hans Küng: at least your many mistakes aren't infallible. Just embarrassing.

'Desperate young people resorted to terrorism. Of course we have to
judge suicide assassins and assaults. But we have to think about why so
many young people became so desperate to make themselves available for
such assassinations.'
Yes, we sure do. And we need to consider strongly the possibility—which does have evidence on its side—that poverty and 'desperation' are not the primary motives of Islamic terrorists. But, of course, you are so busy blaming everything on America and George Bush, you haven't time to read about other perspectives on the matter.

'Religion can co-exist with democracy. The leading architects of Europe,
from Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer to Robert Schuman and Alcide
De Gasperi, were all pious Christians. The reason why Islam has more
problems with democracy than Christianity is that Islam, in contrast to
Christianity and Judaism, had no Reformation and Enlightenment, leaving
out a few special circles.'
I take that to mean that if it weren't for Protestantism and secularism, many Catholics would be just as violent and murderous as some radical Islamists are today? Is this guy serious?

'You could certainly negotiate with the Taliban. They aren't just crazy
people. There are some extremists, and there are, on the other hand,
those that warned the Bush administration about Sept. 11. But it wasn't
taken seriously.'
Yeah, once you got past the violent oppression, beatings, killings, executions, genocide, and the burqas, the Taliban were just swell. Go on, ask 'em. I'm sure they'll agree.

• 'Were you hurt that Pope Benedict XVI never accepted your idea of the World Ethic? He
accepted the idea as such. He realizes that there have to be common
ethical standards. During our conversation he conceded that those
standards need to be valid for believers and non-believers. One could
only have expected that he would personally advocate this. But that
might still happen.'
I recommend reading The Dialectics of Secularization. Or Deus Caritas Est. And stop trying to be pope. It's over. I'm fairly certain you're not eligible to be pontiff. At least not of a real Church.

• The interviewer asked: 'A personal question: On Sept. 12 you will introduce your autobiography 'Controversial Truth.'' What? Another biography? Is this different from My Struggle for Freedom: Memoirs (Eerdmans, 2003) and Disputed Truth: Memoirs, Volume 2 (Continuum, 2008), which together add up to about 820 pages!? Please, if only for the sake of the poor trees, stop writing and start reading.

• For more on Hans Küng and his 'world ethic', see Donna Steichen's 2005 article for Catholic World Report, 'A Religion The New York Times Can Love.'

Finally, much of this is summarized quite well by Fr. D. Vincent Twomey, author of Pope Benedict XVI: The Conscience of Our Age (Ignatius Press, 2007), when he said, in my June 2007 interview with him: 'Unlike Küng, who is always in tune with the latest fashion, Ratzinger is not afraid to be unfashionable.' Here's to being out of tune with the latest fashion!


(Via Insight Scoop | The Ignatius Press Blog.)

Jerry Lewis and the History of Science

If you're into history at all, this is an interesting read. It's an interesting aside that the course that used to accompany HIST 361 (The History of Science: The Eighteenth Century to the Present), HIST 360 (The History of Science: 1100-1725), is not longer listed on the current course descriptions at SFU. Did they conclude there was nothing worth learning about in that era? Or maybe enrolment was too low. Shame, this is on my dream list of courses to take. It's still listed on the Department of History page though, so maybe all is not lost.

And for the enquiring minds, here are the Wiki articles on Buridan and Oresme.

Jerry Lewis and the History of Science: "

In reality, science as a discipline was stillborn in Greece after Aristotle’s death, long before Christianity came on the scene. If any discipline has been ‘flawed’ due to religious reasons, it’s the history of science. You see, the information about Buridan and Oresme was suppressed for years at the behest of certain elements of the French government, because it indicated a Christian origin of science. The case was notorious in France in the 50’s, (when the info was finally released) and my philosophy advisor (an atheist and Marxist scholar) told me that it was used in French universities of the time as a prime example of government censorship (after I brought it up in class). Here’s the story

Sponsored By: Gift Baskets for Men Select or design your own, save money, & impress.


(Via ThePolitic - Canadian Political Weblog.)

Whale 'success story' questioned

This story brought back memories of going to Point Loma to watch the twice-yearly migrations:

Whale 'success story' questioned: "The eastern Pacific gray whale may not have recovered to its pre-hunting level, as has been believed."

(Via BBC News.)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Dissing Relativism

Since that seems to be the theme of today's lecture (in a couple of hours), here is what I presume is a lecture by Peter Kreeft "A Refutation of Moral Relativism". He also published a book by the same name.

If an individualistic ethical relativist and you are having a discussion and you tell her she is wrong, is she then obliged by logical consistency to agree with you?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Actors question Bard's authorship

This is one of the perennial questions of English literature. The enigma of an author of middling success in his own lifetime, who then dominates later generations like no one, before or since. This beats the grassy knoll all to heck.

Actors question Bard's authorship: "Sir Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance launch a debate asking who really wrote William Shakespeare's works."

(Via BBC News.)