Friday, October 31, 2008


I've finished reading John Allen's The Rise of Benedict XVI: The Inside Story of How the Pope was Elected and Where He Will Take the Catholic Church, a gift from an acquaintance. It reads to me like a mea culpa for his earlier, polemical work Cardinal Ratzinger: The Vatican's Enforcer of the Faith
. It's an interesting read, but the "he really needs to read out to the Catholic Theological Society and Sister Chittister" advocacy at the end sounds of wishful thinking.

On the other hand, he did meet privately with Hans ("The election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Pope comes as an enormous disappointment for all those who hoped for a reformist and pastoral Pope. ") Kung and appointed Archbishop Levada of San Francisco his replacement at the Doctrine of the Faith. But, still, Sister Chittister is on her way out and so, perhaps, is the CTSA. (Note in the latter link how the Magisterium is called "officaldom". Huh!)

At any rate, it's a worthwhile read. John Allen has grown considerably in the last few years and is an excellent source for news and events in the Vatican.

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and audio-visual materials were largely lacking in our RCIA process. A couple of times I brought some of my books for people to borrow. But a permanent lending library of the sort advocated below would be an excellent resource for candidates and catechumens to explore for themselves the beauty and truth in Catholicism. But no Chesterton? Oi vey!

At a minimum I would have The Everlasting Man and Orthodoxy on that list.

A Lending Library:

At each RCIA session, you should have a lending library available for RCIA participants.  This way, your inquirers, catechumens, elect, and neophytes can check out additional resources at any time during the RCIA process to grow in their knowledge and understanding of the Catholic Faith as well as the spiritual life.

Read the whole thing.

(Via The Blog That's All About R.C.I.A..)

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Read # 2

This one from Amy Welborn:

Alternative Reality: There is a lot of discussion in these here comboxes as well as all over the ‘net about the “failure” of the pro-life movement’s strategy over the past 35 years and the need for a new “strategy.”
Sometimes this assertion is made of the pro-life movement in general, other times of the Catholic bishops’ approach to [...]

Read the whole thing.

(Via Charlotte was Both.)

The notion that the effort to overturn Roe v. Wade has failed and should be replaced is at the heart of some "I'm personally pro-life, but I'm voting for a pro-abortion candidate" Catholics. That the effort has failed isn't the least bit obvious to me. That it has taken a long time and may well take a lot longer seems obvious enough, however.

How does the fact that it has taken 35 years to get to where we are justify abandoning the effort now?

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Read for the Day

Here's a referral to a good summary of the issues surrounding "gay marriage":

What's wrong with 'gay marriage'?: Michael Novak, "Defining Marriage Down" (The Catholic Thing, October 21, 2008):

A question posed by Bill O’Reilly has been nagging at me for a couple of weeks: “What is wrong with gay marriage?” None of his on-air guests had given him reasons...."
Read the rest of Novak's fine analysis (linked above).

[Hat tip to E.E.]

(Via Musings of a Pertinacious Papist.)

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Friday, October 24, 2008

It's Time to Put My Thinking Cap On

Because a casual perusal of the following has left me confused:

Tell 'em, pt. 2:

Your individual vote for president -- the marked ballot itself, I mean, the thing you turn in that gets counted -- has no practical significance. The result of the election will be the same whether your ballot gets lost or not...To vote is not to choose an officeholder...On this analysis, Zippy's observations of the negligible "influence one's vote has over the outcome in national elections," while true, are irrelevant...The immediate object of a vote is not to influence the outcome in national elections, so the fact that a vote doesn't influence the outcome doesn't tell you very much about the vote itself.

Read the whole thing.

(Via Disputations.)

Grrr... I'm going to having to read the previous posts, go to the links, read them and then sit down and think about all this. I have internalized the idea that voting is a sacred obligation in a democracy. When I vote I'm always imagining that it's possible that my vote might make the difference.

I vote from the conviction that it could happen that the election is decided by one vote and so I need to take my vote very seriously. I'm not clear how all this analysis might affect that vision. I'm not sympathetic to the idea that my vote "has no practical significance" (though it's true that I've never actually participated in a one-vote decision). Such an idea would certainly have made spoiling my ballot less unpalatable or even justified simply staying at home.

Democracy is hard. No wonder the Barbie-level thinkers of the world tend to choose some form of dictatorship.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Climate Change Marches On

Mark Shea keeps us up-to-date:

Headlines that just don't add up for me Gore...

Read the whole thing.

(Via Catholic and Enjoying It!.)

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The Theology of Voting

continues to be debated. While SDG recently focussed on the relationship between mortal sin and objective evil, now John DaFiesole is looking at the nature of voting:

Tell 'em what you're going to tell 'em:

Zippy helpfully provides a condensed version of his months-in-the-making argument that

there is no proportionate reason to vote for a national candidate who supports murdering the innocent in circumstances like ours.
As it happens, his conclusion contradicts the teachings of a growing number of American bishops.

Read the whole thing.

(Via Disputations.)

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

SDG Replies to Mark

The discussion, direct and indirect, between them is now in Mark's court, as Steven clarifies some points below:

In which Mark Shea and SDG try to clarify:

SDG here with two clarifications, one from me and one from Mark Shea.

In a blog post entitled "Steve Greydanus takes Exception to my Choice to Go Third Party," Mark Shea writes:

I don't believe I've ever said that voting for McCain would be a mortal sin....

Read the whole thing.


Small is Beautiful

The dominance of big governments, big corporations, big unions (don't get me wrong--I'm a strong unionist; I just prefer small unions) and big science is driving the decline of democracy. Distributism is one attempt to avoid the twin perils of Socialism and Capitalism.

Here is an introduction to the concepts involved: - Capitalist? Socialist? Distributist.: Small is beautiful. Or, the bigger the business, the bigger the bailout.
Congress has promised over $1 trillion from our hands to "rescue" gargantuan businesses. When corporations demand the largest free ride in our history, it's time to rethink economies of scale. Socialism is a silly solution -- there, everything becomes one gargantuan business. We need a real solution: distributism.
As G. K. Chesterton wrote, "the cure for centralization is decentralization. It has been described as a paradox." In contrast to both socialism and capitalism, distributism aims for a wide distribution of private property. G. K.'s brother Cecil explained:
[A Socialist] desires the means of production to be the property of the community and to be administered by its political officers. A Distributist . . . desires that they should, generally speaking, remain private property, but that their ownership should be so distributed that the determining mass of families -- ideally every family -- should have an efficient share therein. That is Distributism, and nothing else is Distributism.

Read the whole thing...

(Via Catholic and Enjoying It.)

Monday, October 20, 2008

The World Championship

Which one? Chess, of course.

I haven't blogged about chess for quite a while, so I'll borrow Dennis Monokroussos' blog entry as an excuse to make up the deficit. Since I've left University life behind (sigh), I've resumed my decades long quest for chess improvement.

I have been fairly faithful in visiting the Chess Tactics Server every day for 45 minutes or so. Progress has been slow, but undeniable. That is the major area of weakness in my game. Disciplined thinking is another and I hope to study and to practice in games, especially on FICS.

I've joined their Team League and have played a couple of games for my new team: Veins (don't ask). But it's a humbling experience to go over the post-mortem with the help of chess software. Every stupid move is dispassionately highlighted.

And just to add to the pain, I'm wanting to upgrade the computer to something fast and multi-processor. Maybe there'll be a quad-core iMac next year? Unfortunately, the new chips are $1000 a crack, so I'm doubting it.

Anyway, I'm mildly relieved to see that I'm not the only one missing tactical themes:

Kramnik-Anand, game 5 with notes: Earlier today, Anand won his second game to take a big 3.5-1.5 lead in his world championship match against Kramnik. It was another great game in the Meran Semi-Slav, but it came to a screeching halt when Kramnik fell for a very neat trap - but one within his pay grade to figure out and sidestep.

Kramnik is now in biiiiig trouble, and if he loses tomorrow he can just about book a plane for Moscow (or Paris) for this weekend. If only for the sake of excitement, let's hope Kramnik overcomes his chess version of "the yips".

Meanwhile, here's today's game, with my notes. (On a replayable board, with deeper commentary than in the live blog post.)

(Via The Chess Mind.)

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In the Interests of Fair Comment

Here's an alternative view to that of Steven Greydanus from our own Mark Shea:

A bit of musing on the two party predicament of prolifers...:

Since I'm being barraged with charges of irresponsibility for my refusal to engage in the GOP's faux prolife kabuki this year, I thought I'd talk a little about this whole "responsibility" gig.

Suppose, in the middle of a plague, a scientist develops a cure for the disease.

Read the rest...

(Via Catholic and Enjoying It!.)

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Now I Know Where to Go

For financial advice:

This Was Made a Year Ago...: This Was Made a Year Ago

The lesson is clear: British comedians are your best financial strategists. They saw it all coming a year ago.

(Via Catholic and Enjoying It!.)

Liberal fascism?

Everything you need to know and were too ignorant afraid to ask:

Liberal fascism: What it is and why you should care: Recently, I read a book by an American political analyst Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism, which helped me understand a political landscape that I have watched with growing concern: increasingly authoritarian government and increasingly supine citizens.

Culturally, it reached the point recently where the term denialist began to characterize anyone who departs from a consensus - as if departing from a consensus were not part of the engine of progress in the Western world.

Goldberg calls the new mood "liberal fascism."

Read the rest...

(Via Post-Darwinist.)

Chilly Winter Coming?

After that whine about the lack of Autumnal beauty, God mocks me and lets the sun shine for a few days. Voila: it's a gorgeous Fall here in the Lower Mainland. Something else to be thankful for.

So let's not dwell on the transient beauty of life, but start worrying about the coming Ice Age:
Lorne Gunter: Thirty years of warmer temperatures go poof - Full Comment:

In early September, I began noticing a string of news stories about scientists rejecting the orthodoxy on global warming. Actually, it was more like a string of guest columns and long letters to the editor since it is hard for skeptical scientists to get published in the cabal of climate journals now controlled by the Great Sanhedrin of the environmental movement.

Still, the number of climate change skeptics is growing rapidly. Because a funny thing is happening to global temperatures -- they're going down, not up.

Read the rest...

(Via Catholic and Enjoying It.)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Too Late For Us

(in Canada) but still useful. Amy Welborn begins a discussion of the intersection of Catholicism and politics. Note, in the comments Steven Greydanus mentions his on-going analysis also:

Is Catholic politico-talk too idealistic? « Charlotte was Both: Here’s my first question for you guys to discuss. Let me try to unpack the probably poorly-articulated question.

I don’t mean, “Is it too unrealistically oriented toward a greater good that can never be achieved?”  No. I mean - is Catholic politico-talk, particularly in the present moment, as most of us are engaging in it, taking place essentially on the level of vague assertions, associations and concepts? And - are we avoiding and ignoring the way that government and political processes actually work?

Read the rest...

(Via Charlotte was Both.)

It's Good For You

I'm currently nursing a stubborn cold. But once I'm feeling better, I'll quaff a pint of Baron in honour of God's love for us*:
RE: BEER [Kevin Miller]


And it's not only good for the body, but also good for the soul.

E-Mail Author

Via Heart, Mind & Strength.

*"Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."

Benjamin Franklin

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Autumnal Thoughts

I'm reminded by the post below that Fall doesn't happen here often enough. Once every few years we'll get a mild, sunny stretch leading into October, so the leaves have a chance to change. More often the wind and rain come in and wipe all evidence of autumnal beauty away.

It is on my list of things to do to travel to the East and soak up the glories of autumn. Until then, our best experience was a few years ago when we travelled to Ohio to bury a friend. That will have to do for now. But this post does bring the longing back:

Random Autumnal Thoughts at the House "Caution: you are...: Random Autumnal Thoughts at the House

"Caution: you are about to enter the self-indulgent post zone!"
I remember time au gratin, the yellow-skirt of the maple's crown, the reaping of sunny prunes from the peach tree. I remember when we first moved here, the mystery - was the place haunted? - the expanse of of field beyond the boundary trees near which, I anticipated, I would surely perch for hours upon the precipice reading some old tome like War and Peace.

It's still mild enough to sit out and I move my chair a bit closer to the boundary line. Trees like '70s mood rings have begun to change color, all at different times even on the same branch. I can smell the ground-up leaves and their dusty, dried-up leaf spores and feel the ache of old fires and hear the crack of song coming from the ice cream truck.

I perch and o'erlook the majestic pine I'd tortuously labored at a July ago. His base makes a grand throne - I remembered how we'd heaped so much soil as if to make a four foot tree six, instantly, just by adding dirt. It didn't work that way but has a nice cut of gib, and nearing six now.

I have a hankering for Frank Sinatra songs while I watch the shrub leaves turn a radiant red, the color of poinsettias. I turn slowly to take it all in, like the yellow of the neighbor's maple, its dark ribbed undercarriage showing like the corset beneath a pretty woman's dress. Stray thoughts come to mind, like the fact that if there isn't a book about the TV show "I Dream of Jeannie" then there should be. Favorite words from the past are recalled - "azure" from the Tennyson poem and "zephyr" from a television show theme song: "Oh Zephyr winds that blow on high!"

Pinus Laborious is festooned with ornaments in the form of colored leaves from its deciduous neighbors. The stately forty-foot firs against the back never felt like our own, so far from the house, so tall that where the cones cling in the upper reaches it feels like another zip code, as much ours as the moon. Speaking of, Tuesday night's looked poignantly full, shedding its dusky, husky light on the patio stones. It was powerfully affecting, even vacational, like brandy and marble floors. I lingered awhile, drunkenly imagining prelate interventions at the bishopric conferences involving quotes of Schiller or Hopkins.

* * *

Dream time over, scurrilous left-brain thoughts enter. Like whether leadership and creativity are mutually exclusive these days. Banks offer us derivatives, hardly more real than an Irish faeries though far more destructive. It's a sign of the bereftness of corporate life that for all the self-pep talks about "thinking outside the box" few if any did, all the institutions buying into something they didn't understand because the other guy was doing it.

The only risks we take we take because others have, just so we don't have to explain ourselves.

(Via Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor.)

Ok, So You Don't Like Heavy Reading

Here's a good video to stimulate the brain:

Miller to Klein to Rogers—Double Play!:

There was an excellent discussion on Delaware public television on the subject of Joe Biden, Catholic teaching on abortion, and Catholic voters. The three panelists were Prof. Robert T. Miller of Villanova University School of Law, Fr. Leonard Klein of the Catholic diocese of Wilmington, and Prof. Katherin A. Rogers of the University of Delaware Philosophy Department.

View the video here. Click the link on the left side of the screen for the Friday, October 10 show. The discussion begins about ten minutes into the show. As might be expected, Miller, Klein, and Rogers all did a terrific job.

(Via First Things.)

A Read for Today

I'm playing a chess tournament on-line in a few minutes. This will get your grey cells going:

BIG BLUE WAVE: Deborah Gyapong on the meaning of secularism: "Deborah says:

The secular, the term bequeathed by Christianity to refer to the world, is the best antidote to all forms of utopianism, religious or non, because it understands that in this world, in time, we will not achieve the perfection of the world to come, because we have to live with sinful humanity and are thus limited in what we can do to make heaven on earth. It's not an excuse to give up on the common good, but it is a crucial check on man-made messianic tendencies to impose perfection, usually by killing those who don't get with the program."

Read the rest...

(Via Big Blue Wave.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What He Said

I wasn't nearly as artistic. I just drew a line through all the boxes and wrote "No Pro-Live Candidate" in a white space as recommended by Campaign Life Coalition. Pacheco does it much better:

A disenfranchised conservative: "

I opened up my ballot and put a large ‘X’ through all of the names.

Then I turned it over and made my own ballot:


It’s the first time that I have spoiled my ballot.  Frankly, I didn’t like to do it much.

But the Conservative Party, Stephen Harper, John Baird and the remainder of the political establishment didn’t leave me much choice.

So I voted for the unborn victim who is voiceless.

Millions of unborn babies have been slaughtered since abortion has been legalized in this country.  We won’t forget them and we won’t forget those who traded in their flesh to further their own selfish political interests.

Today, these politicians can ignore the unborn for a short time.  At their judgement and for all eternity, they will never be able to forget it. Ever.


(Via SoCon Or Bust.)


In the misty time of pre-consciousness, just before you wake up, I was explaining to someone this morning why it's important to vote. It boiled down to being a duty to exercise our free will to build up our humanity, rather than abandoning ourselves to the forces of history--which is just other people exercising their free will.

Apropos of that, let us join the blogburst for freedom:

BIG BLUE WAVE: I AM A FREE CANADIAN: In the spirit of Kathy Shaidle's call for a blogburst on freedom, I would like to say that I am a free Canadian because I am prepared to fight for my rights. I will not submit to any power that opposes my conscience when it comes to saying and doing what I think is right and necessary. Any power that tries to stop me is a tyranny, and I will not suffer to be oppressed.

'I am a Canadian,
a free Canadian,
free to speak without fear,
free to worship God in my own way,
free to stand for what I think right,
free to oppose what I believe wrong,
free to choose those who shall govern my country.
This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold
for myself and for all mankind.'

Read the rest...

(Via Big Blue Wave.)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Do Not Read This Post

If you don't like mean humour:

(Via †Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam†.)

Sunday, October 12, 2008


The actual day, for Canadians, is tomorrow. But the great bird (it barely fits into the oven) just entered the sweltering cavity to make it's final transition. Guests will be arriving later today to pay honour to the noble creature in the customary way (home-made, from scratch, cranberry sauce, of course).

May God make us truly grateful for all his blessings this day and every other.

Voting Options

I've been wondering how to spoil my ballot to protest the lack of choice. Here's some helpful advice from Campaign Life Coalition:

Voting Options:
On Election Day you may choose to do one of the following :

  • NO Stay at home and not vote

  • NO Vote for the party your family has always supported, regardless of the party platform and/or the values of the candidate in question.

  • NO Vote for the Party which was in power when you immigrated to Canada

: OR
  • YES Vote for the pro-life incumbent regardless of which party he/she represents.

  • YES Vote for a CHP candidate

  • YES Vote for the pro-life candidate, even if he doesn't stand much of a chance

  • YES Vote for a pro-life independent, if there are no such options in a major party

  • YES Vote to defeat the pro-abortion incumbent by supporting the candidate who stands the best chance of unseating him

  • YES Write in ball point pen 'no pro-life candidate'. It is counted as a spoiled vote, but the inside scrutineers will see the message and such messages are frequently discussed at party headquarters.

  • YES Refuse the ballot- if this is allowed in your province (at one time, you could state your reason for

(Via LifeSiteNews.)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 - The Joy of Sloth

I'd comment more extensively on this, but it's too much like work: - The Joy of Sloth: "Two weeks ago, I promised to lay out for you, one week at a time, the 'seven key areas of life where Jesus ruins our fun.' By this I mean the categories of normal human experience that make up the bulk of our lives -- where our instincts, habits, and egos have patched together perfectly serviceable habits of schlepping through, day to day. We'd just as soon our coping strategies weren't disrupted by some fish-multiplying wonder-working God-Man who speaks in riddles. But hey, thanks for thinking of us . . ."

Read the rest...

(Via InsideCathollic.)

Pro-Life 101

Here you get the freshman introduction to the key points in the abortion controversy. There will be a test:

A pro-life defense from a black man’s perspective: "

This is about the best ten-minute defense of the pro-life position. As a black man he also takes on Barack Obama and other pro-abortion black politicians who support the abortion industry, which has killed 11 million black babies under the philosophy and inspiration of the racist eugenicist Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood. But he also says so much more. This |
Digg This


(Via - Musings of Domenico Bettinelli.)

I Have A Theory

about why almost all Catholics mentioned by the MSM are "devout". At some level, the reporters and their bosses know that only really crazy people are Catholic. Worshipping wafers of unleavened bread and turning a blind eye to large-scale pedophelia, these people are remarkable, in an incomprehensible way. Thus, rational people leave the Church and denounce it robustly. Those who remain in it are, uh, "devout".

Vatican Cracks Down on Devout Catholic Bus Plunges: "

Everybody loves a riddle.  See if you can guess what ties these people together based on the MSM coverage:

  • ‘Brought up a devout Catholic, [he] aspired to become a priest….’

  • Although a devout Catholic, [she] is happy to face evil in her latest film, she tells Gill Pringle:

..’At home I expose my children to all faiths. I put a different book on the stairs leading up to our bedrooms — books on Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Christianity and so on. I want them to get a taste of different religions and see how different people approach things and what their motivation is. But, for me, The Omen is not about religion. It’s just another role and it’s been a lot of fun. Besides, my mother never told me not to do roles that involved evil or Satan,’ [she] says, laughing.

  • Devout Catholic answers a call to challenge church…

  • A devout Catholic, he attended Mass every week…

  • Devout Catholic author rigorous in examining gospels…

  • ‘…events in the first week of January will try to plant [her] version of her life story in the national consciousness, showing her as an Italian American and devout Catholic from Baltimore’

  • [He] calls himself a devout Catholic and says his latest comedy… is ‘pro-faith, pro-Catholic, spiritually uplifting.’

  • In an exclusive interview, the 33-year-old devout Catholic (and author of How to Make Love Like a Porn Star) tells Us Weekly that she’s made peace with her heartbreak.

I’ll wait a few minutes while puzzle out the subtle thread connecting all these quotes.  When you figure it out, t’will be a consummation devoutly to be wished.

Read the rest...

(Via Catholic Exchange.)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Economics and Irrationality

The culture of hype that we live in may be leading us to overreact to bad economic news:

In the Agora: Irrational Pessimism:

"Despite the fact that economists' worst-case scenarios predict unemployment as high as 10-12% and a drop in GDP of 2-4% next year if the economic assistance package fails to thaw the credit markets, an astonishing 59% of Americans see a depression as either very likely (21%) or somewhat likely (38%). In the poll, 'depression' was defined as 25% unemployment and millions of Americans homeless and unable to feed their families."

Read the rest.

(Via In the Agora.)


How could I forget that today is that great day?


Today is the anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto. In this battle, allied Christian nations destroyed a vastly larger Turkish fleet. This battle inspired G.K. Chesterton to write one of his best poems. Here is the rousing first stanza:

White founts falling in the Courts of the sun,

And the Soldan of Byzantium is smiling as they run;

There is laughter like the fountains in that face of all men feared,

It stirs the forest darkness, the darkness of his beard;

It curls the blood-red crescent, the crescent of his lips;

For the inmost sea of all the earth is shaken with his ships.

They have dared the white republics up the capes of Italy,

They have dashed the Adriatic round the Lion of the Sea,

And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss,

And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross.

The cold queen of England is looking in the glass;

The shadow of the Valois is yawning at the Mass;

From evening isles fantastical rings faint the Spanish gun,

And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun.

(Via First Things.)

Logic, Applied

Apparently, the number of prominent academics who are a) "staunchly pro-life" and b) supporting Obama is growing. They seem to be relying on the he resolutely supports eliminating any and all barriers to abortion, but it's ok because the number of abortions will actually decline if we vote him in. How do you get a passing grade in Freshman Philosophy with this kind of reasoning?

So here is a take-down of this reasoning:

Tongue-in-cheek: "Bill Donahue has written a parody targeting public Catholics who endorse Obama -- 'I'm Catholic, Staunchly Anti-Racist, and Support David Duke':

I believe racism is an unspeakable evil, yet I support David Duke, who is pro-racism. I do not support him because he is pro-racism, but in spite of it. Is that a proper choice for a committed Catholic?

As someone who has worked with minorities all his life, I answer with a resounding yes. Despite what some say, the list of what the Catholic Church calls 'intrinsically evil acts' does not begin and end with racism. In fact, there are many intrinsically evil acts, and a committed Catholic must consider all of them in deciding how to vote.

Last November, the U.S. bishops released 'Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,' a 30-page document that provides several examples of intrinsically evil acts: abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem-cell research, torture, racism, and targeting noncombatants in acts of war.

Duke's support for racist rights has led some to the conclusion that no Catholic can vote for him. That's a mistake. While I have never swayed in my conviction that racism is an unspeakable evil, I believe that we have lost the racism battle -- permanently. A vote for Duke's opponent does not guarantee the end of racism in America. Not even close.

The parody's logic would apply to the writers of a set of letters (here and especially here) in this morning's Enquirer."

(Via Ten Reasons.)


I've introduced an acquaintance recently to GKC. He was reading H.G. Wells' The Outline of History and I remarked that Chesterton had written something in response to it, though I couldn't remember exactly what. So I lent him my old copy of Alarms and Discursions just to introduce him to GKC.

In the meantime, I discovered that The Everlasting Man is Chesterton's masterpiece in response to H.G. Wells. I'm pretty sure I have a paperback copy somewhere here. I'll lend that to him when I find it. Just so we're clear, Chesterton is my philosophical hero: wise beyond anything that formal learning could give you.

All of which is a preamble to this fine article by the noted Thomist:

Ralph McInerny on the Chesterbelloc Thing:

He's right, of course,
that the principal target of the New Atheists is, inexorably, the Catholic Faith. The curious logic of the New Atheists always tends to draw them back to that. 19 Muslim guys fly planes into the Pentagon, the WTC and a field in Pennsylvania? The reply of the New Atheists boils down to 'This is the fault of religion. And by 'religion' we mean Christianity and especially Catholic Christianity.' Commies murdered millions? That's really 'religion' says Christopher Hitchens. And by 'religion' he means Christianity and especially Catholic Christianity. Religious people are intolerant says Google, so we will not allow mockery of Jews or Muslims on our site. But we will host daily Eucharistic desecrations and not allow Catholics to air their prolife views. Bill Maher makes fun of fundies who believe in talking snakes and somehow manages to bring it all back to Rome, even though there's a remarkable dearth of believers in talking snakes there.

McInerny's right:

The now pandemic attacks on Catholicism in films, on television, in the media would have found Chesterton and Belloc buckling on their armor and going into battle with the rapiers of their wit.

What we need are more Chestertons and Bellocs. However, it is up to God to manufacture them since genius is tough to simply will. Prayer to that end seems appropriate."

(Via Catholic and Enjoying It!.)

Sunday, October 05, 2008

LIfeChain redux

The wife mentioned a home-made sign she liked:
Abortion doesn't make you unpregnant, it makes you the mother of a dead child.

LifeChain 2008

So we did our annual witness with the LifeChain today. Less abuse than usual, though there's never been a lot. A couple of pointed disagreements in passing: a flipped bird and a thumb down, chanting the name of an unpopular hockey ref (bull-something-or-other). There were many horn honkings that seemed to indicate agreement. The lady just up the sidewalk from me was a holding a sign in Chinese characters. A van-load of Orientals were waving enthusiastically as they passed her.

Being a pair a old fuddy-duddies, the wife and I chose our usual signs: "Abortion kills Children" for me and "Abortion Hurts Women" for her. There were some other interesting signs, some of which I have seen before: "Jesus Heals and Forgives", "Adoption is a Loving Alternative" and my favourite "Abortion Hurts Everyone".

Here's Suzanne's take from the other side of Canada:

LifeChain 2008: A big success: "I came back from Life Chain today at the corner of Montreal Road and St-Laurent in Ottawa. It was a very good turnout. There were about 40 people there. There were many students.

What was different..."


Friday, October 03, 2008

Religion and Life

If the goal in forming a new party is to give an outlet for the so-called so-cons who feel disenfranchised here in Canada, then it ought not to automatically exclude large swathes of the voting public. That was and is my concern about the CHP. It doesn't simply repel non-Christians by it's very name, but, upon closer examination, it repels many Christians who might pause at the "Bible as the ultimate authority" principle.

So consider the different groups and communities that have pro-life constituencies within them:

Why oh why would you exclude all these potential voters in forming a new political party in Canada?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Universal Human Rights

Read and follow-up, please:



The UN will celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this December 10th.

To celebrate this occasion, radical pro-abortion groups intend to present the UN General Assembly with petitions calling for a universal right to abortion.

Campaigns are being waged right now by International Planned Parenthood Federation and Maire Stopes International, the two groups responsible for more abortions than any other groups in the world. Both are beloved of the powers that be at the UN; and their efforts to promote an international right to abortion are welcomed by many UN Member States, perhaps most of the UN bureaucracy, and powerful US foundations that give millions to promote abortion at the UN and around the world.

The link below is a petition calling on UN Members States to interpret the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as protecting the unborn child from abortion. Please consider signing the petition and passing it on to others to sign as well.

Here is the link:

E-Mail Author

Via Heart, Mind & Strength

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

First Draft

I'm mildly depressed at the thought of simply spoiling my ballot this election (how does one spoil an electronic vote anyway?), so I've been mulling over alternatives. I would happily vote for the CHP if they had a candidate in our riding. Alas, no luck.

So then I thought, why not join them and help them get a candidate in our riding for the next election? So I went to their webpage, looked it over and went to the Join the Party page, which instructed me that I had to agree with the party principles. Rats!

On the one hand a party with clear principles is refreshing. But I can't agree with these particular ones. How so? Theologically speaking, I'm not clear how a Catholic can sign on to

The Holy Bible [is] the inspired, inerrant written Word of God and the final authority above all man's laws and government.
How are the written Scriptures "the final authority"? They need to be understood in context and that context is the community in which these Scriptures were written: the Catholic Church. So that principle is a deal breaker for me.

Philosophically speaking, the objection is in all five principles and epitomized in the name: effective politics in a multicultural secular society is about inclusion not exclusion. In our riding, there is a significant Sikh presence, as advertised by two major candidates being Punjabi. If your principles exclude all religious believers except Bible-only Christians, then you've started the race with both of your legs tied together.

I did correspond with an independent candidate in our riding, but his classically Canadian liberalism on life and family issues ruled him out. That got me to thinking, maybe I should run myself, next time. (Not seriously, you understand, only as a mental exercise to ease of pain of being disenfranchised in my own country.) So I looked up the rules for being and independent candidate. It turns out you need 100 electors from the riding and $1000, which is refundable if you supply all the proper forms by the deadline.

Then I thought, how difficult would it be to form a political party? And what advantages might there be to that? Now you need 250 electors, which you need to confirm every three years, plus annual notices of various sorts to Elections Canada. Gee, thinks I, 250 isn't that much more than 100. Maybe a new party is a better idea. In the unlikely event of actually getting 5% of the votes cast in a riding, you get 50% of your documented costs back. And surpluses can be kept by the party or redistributed to different riding associations, assuming we got all the way up to two candidates. (Independents who don't spend all their contributions have to turn the surplus over to the Solicitor General.)

Of course I started thinking about about the most important things first. For example, what colour scheme would our posters use? Is Purple too "gay"? Since the Natural Law Party of Canada has voluntarily de-registered, should we use that name? (The Natural Law refers in our name, of course, to the natural moral law of the Western philosophical tradition.) What is that is French? How does NLP work as an acronym? Nelp?

But then I thought about the CHP's principles, in a more admiring way. We should have our own founding principles, that do not exclude people of different religious backgrounds, but rather appeal to what we have in common: reason.

Sheesh! this is lot of work. If you've persevered this long, you deserve the adverted first draft, at last:

The purpose of Governments at every level is to foster the full flourishing of each and every human being that they serve. To that end:

The primary responsibility of governments is to protect each and every human being's life, from conception to it's natural end.

The next responsibility is to foster human flourishing by promoting and protecting stable, fruitful marriages, the forge of human character.

And Freedoms must be recognized and respected, especially those of Religion and Speech.

Life, Family, Freedom!

There we are, no colour, no name, but at least we've got started on our statement of principles. I've got to go pick up my youngest now. See you later.

Since We're Talking About Abortion and Politics

let's give Amy Welborn a listen:

Straw Everywhere : So much, it’s making me sneeze.

One of the points that is frequently raised by those who say they are opposed to abortion but who nonetheless give their support, advice and endorsement to candidates who are unequivocally and proudly supportive of unrestricted access to abortion (phew)…

Read the rest.

(Via Charlotte was Both.)

In the Interim

while I'm polishing up a statement of core principles for our new political party here in Canada, here's part three of Steven Greydanus' series on voting down south:

Elections, Voting and Morality, Part 3: "

Continued from Part 1 | Part 2

SDG here (not Jimmy).

John McCain supports embryonic stem-cell research.

Although his support appears to be somewhat qualified and conflicted, and there are signs that he may be moving away from supporting ESCR, his history of consistent support for an intrinsic evil remains a grave concern in his candidacy.

No, I won't paper it over with a euphemism. In my last post I argued that 'A candidate who advocates legalized abortion, euthanasia, ESCR or human cloning gravely disqualifies himself for public service, not just for what he or she may do but for what he or she stands for.' By that standard, McCain gravely disqualifies himself for public service on at least one of those four counts.

That Obama gravely disqualifies himself on all four of those four counts certainly makes McCain the less problematic and thus preferable candidate. In my next post I hope to deal with the ethics of voting for the least problematic viable candidate, which is, I contend, always permissible. For now, I want to focus a bit more on potential consequences of a McCain-Palin administration vs. an Obama-Biden administration.

As I've said, I'm deeply skeptical of all four candidates, and uneasy about all possible outcomes. I have no strong feelings regarding which side is better equipped to lead on the economy, health care and other crucial issues.

I do suspect that McCain is better equipped than Obama to lead on foreign policy. That's not necessarily what they're calling a game-changer, though, since (a) I could be wrong (I am a political knucklehead) and (b) it is not wildly unlikely that McCain's health could impair his ability to serve.

McCain's temperament is a legitimate subject of concern. His penchant for fast and risky decisions can make him look decisive and knowledgeable and bold, as when he responded to the conflict in Chechnya; but it can also lead to mistakes.

Obama is clearly smart. Any questions I had on that front were settled on Friday night. He's also articulate and charismatic, a combination we haven't seen in a presidential race since Clinton, and before that since Reagan. (In terms of articulateness and charisma, I mean; I'm not putting Reagan in Clinton's or Obama's league intellectually.)

Obama is also inexperienced. I suspect that's not as big a deal as some might think. It may be embarrassing for a candidate to suggest that Iraq is not a serious threat, or that Chavez came to power during the Bush administration rather than the Clinton administration, or that unconditional presidential-level meetings with rogue dictators is a good idea; but hey, your advisors clue you in and you move on. I'm sure Palin would be making some of these gaffes if she were on the grid as much as Obama. The 'It's all about judgment' line is neither the whole truth nor completely wrong.

Here is something that is a game-changer for me.

Among serious concerns in our society today are power grabs by different elements within government. Several concerns in this regard have been raised in recent years regarding the executive branch, most recently in connection with the bailout effort.

Arguably the most sustained, influential and successful power grabs in recent U.S. history, as far as I can tell, is that of the judiciary.

The judicial system seems to me to concentrate a great deal of power, particularly at the top, in the hands of a small number of people who are unelected and unaccountable, who can hold their positions essentially for life and whose decisions have far more lasting impact than that of many public officials. Subsequent justices are expected, on principle, to respect previous verdicts in a way that other officials are not. There is no stare decisis for presidential executive orders, for instance.

As far as I know, recourse for abuses of power at this level, or for addressing flaws in the system in any way, are dauntingly remote. Practically speaking, about the only readily available course of action I know of is to promote judicial self-restraint over judicial activism by nominating candidates who espouse judicial restraint, i.e., originalism or strict constructionism. This is a very limited and problematic approach, but I don't see that there is any other immediately available option.

So much is this the case that a president's Supreme Court nominations may well be his most far-reaching act in office. What did Gerald Ford do in office that had rivaled the long-term impact of nominating John Paul Stevens?

The issue is especially crucial because the judiciary has been instrumental in subverting both the judicial and the democratic process in imposing the fiction of an anti-life 'right to choose.' Other grave evils highly damaging to society, such as same-sex 'marriage,' are highly likely to be imposed by judicial fiat given a judiciary with sufficient political will and lack of self-restraint.

In general, left-leaning Democratic presidents reliably nominate candidates for the Supreme Court who are reliably evil-activist. The record of right-leaning Republican presidents and the nominees thereof is, unfortunately, more mixed. We do seem to have gone three for three now, and the one before that was a seemingly unavoidable wild card. There almost seems to be a kind of corrupting influence inside the Beltway that sucks justices to the dark side. We can only do what we can do.

McCain has taken a lot of flak from conservatives for his leading role in the 'Gang of 14.' This is a complex issue and I'm not sure what I think about it. I'm not sure nuking the filibuster would have been the best outcome. And it does seem that some of Bush's lower-court nominees can reasonably be accused of conservative activism no less blatant than that of many liberal activist judges.

I oppose judicial activism in principle, not just based on of how it is used. I don't want activist conservative judges any more than activist liberal ones. I want judges who know their job description, who stick to interpreting the law and leave emanations and penumbras to the psychic readers. Give me nine liberal Supreme Court justices who support abortion rights, same-sex marriage, euthanasia and so on, but who also know how to read the words on the page, and who believe that these rights should be advanced by the legislative and democratic process rather than by judicial fiat, and I'll be happy.

Certainly McCain says just exactly the right things about what kind of justices he likes and what kind of nominees he would put forward. Better still, I think McCain probably gets the principle of judicial restraint vs. activism better than Bush, who I think was more likely to go on personal trust rather than qualifications (Harriet Myers anyone?).

So I find this comparatively reassuring, though it's impossible to be entirely reassured. Knowing how much McCain loves to reach across the aisle, etc., who knows what the heck he'll actually do in office? And that's prescinding from the potential disparity between how candidates may say they'll judge and what they actually do on the bench.

On the other hand, I have absolutely no doubts what kind of candidates Obama will put forward, and get, and what kind of verdicts we will get from them.

This is the single most important issue that I think can be most confidently held in advance to represent a clear difference in outcomes based on who wins the election. It is a decisive issue for me, if not the decisive issue. I don't quite want to reduce it to 'It's The Supreme Court, Stupid,' but that wouldn't be wholly wrong either. At any rate, along with the substantial differences between the candidates on the life issues, it is a decisive reason for rejecting Obama and for regarding McCain as preferable candidate.

But what about the claim that we can't or shouldn't support a candidate who supports any intrinsic evil, even if the other candidate is worse on every fundamental issue? That will be the subject of my next post.

Continued from Part 1 | Part 2