Monday, September 15, 2008
What with soaring fuel and food prices, an economy on the brink and the way both the Republicans and Democrats are hell bent on bankrupting this country, I've been taking an increasing interest in going to a simpler, more self sufficient lifestyle. To that end, I've been doing/planning/thinking about the following:
Saving money for land to grow a few things (doing).
Getting a scooter or small motorcyle (thinking about, shopping around)--you can get them for under $2k and they get 90-100 MPG.
Reading FOXFIRE, BACK TO BASICS and MOTHER EARTH NEWS (doing).
Planting a garden (doing).
Making compost (doing)--this has been my most successfull adventure along these lines.
Turning down the thermostat (I can do that now that the wife has given birth and no longer has the pregnancy hot flashes).
Trying to make soap (doing)--without much success.
Trying to make a basket with native materials (doing)--without much success.
Researching to compile a "FOXFIRE" book for South Louisiana (Doing at the library)--so far I can tell you how to make candles with a wax myrtle and how to build a pirougue!
Going to the Lake Charles Farmer's Market (doing)--mostly a rip off. All but one guy buys crap at the grocery store and sells it to unsuspecting folks. You can, in fact, find more locally grown food at Market Basket, a local (LA and TX) grocery store chain.
AND NOW, MY CRUSTY COMMENT ON BLOGGING. I think blogging is a big disappointment. It has so much potential, but it tends to suck up a lot of time and you run into 50 blowhards for every rational person. So, if you are wondering if I'm "blogging again", I'm not. I'll post or comment when the spirit moves me.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Friday, April 18, 2008
What if there are accusations that they have been neither admitted or denied, but sidestepped?
How should we, as people who care about the things this person says, treat such a person?
Would it make a difference if the incident was before they came to their current moral/religious position? If it is after, would it make a difference if the person came clean?
Would it make a difference if it was something totally agregious like taking advantage of someone who is vulnerable (young, drunk, at a low point), or if it was just a moral slip up (like Mitch in The Firm)?
Would it make a difference if the person were totally no judgmental?
Thursday, April 17, 2008
If your kids want to make it in the 21st Century, they need to study the liberal arts.
I continue to work my way through The World is Flat. I'm not sure if I can encapsulate the theme of the book, but it is basically about how technology and innovations in the way we do things makes for a more level playing field in many areas, makes outsourcing jobs easier, etc. There are chapters on blogging, and how information is so easily available on the net. etc.
Anyway, he also addresses the problem of jobs since people in India and China can do not only manual labor tasks, but also intellectual and service work much cheaper (and apparently do a better job because these are high prestige jobs for people in India--and for other reasons).
Let me cut to the chase: He argues that if you learn only the nuts and bolts of your field, be it accounting, journalism (yes, even that gets outsourced), law, business, engineering, you are likely to find your self scraping by or completely useless. You need to offer something more be it a personal touch, higher expertise and proficiency, or innovation.
The education he recommends for young people, and the direction he suggests for America if it wants to compete globally is to promote the study of liberal arts.
One concrete reason for this is that (not an exact quote): Since the East can do left brain work cheaper, we must be able to do right brain work better. Innovation and adaptation to changing circumstances (who doesn't need this skill?) is best done by someone who has mastered more than one discipline (case in point, Leonardo Da Vinci) because such a person can take priciples and thinking from one discipline and apply it to the other. A person who has studied, math, music, literature, history, philosophy, foreign languages etc. is better prepared for right brain endeavors--though if you want to be an engineer you still need to study math!
He also has an interesting formula for success: CQ + PQ > IQ (Curiosity Quotient plus Passion [about learning and about your work] Quotient are more important than Intellectual Quotient.
So then all of you "grade grabbers", and utilitarians who were always asking us "what are you going to do with that?", on behalf of all liberal arts majors, let me say: Nanny Nanny boo boo, looks like you'll be the one flipping burgers!
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
But this is not faith. The word faith comes from the Latin fides. Fides was the goddess of loyalty in Roman Mythology. Hypocrisy comes from the Greek hupokrinesthai, to play a part or pretend—I might use the word “fake”.
I think it’s time for people, in intellectual honesty, to proclaim that they are men and women of hypocrisy. So hear is a new set of mantras:
“I am a person of deep hypocrisy.”
“My hypocrisy is very important to me.”
“My hypocrisy is a big part of who I am.”
“I’m a man of hypocrisy.”
“My parents taught me the importance of hypocrisy.”
--A much better use of language.
Friday, April 11, 2008
I believe in supporting local business. On the other hand, I have been wondering whether my shopping habits can make a difference, or if it only delays the enevitable. I've been saving my pennies and I want to buy a new canoe. The locally owned shop has the canoe I want. The chain store has the same canoe for $130 cheaper. My wife says I should buy local because of all that I have said in the past. Even if I still felt as strongly about buying local, isn't this making a $130 donation if I go to the local shop? I mean, I don't mind paying slightly higher prices, but is this a business or a charity?
How should I look at this situation? I'd really like to hear thoughts from both sides.
The next patron to come in was a Libertarian with a hunched back. He shuffled over to a booth, painfully sat down, and asked the waitress for a cup of hot tea. He also glanced across the restaurant and asked, 'Is that Jesus over there?' The waitress nodded, so the Libertarian asked her to give Jesus a cup of hot tea, 'My treat.'
The third patron to come into the restaurant was a Democrat on crutches. He hobbled over to a booth, sat down and hollered, 'Hey there, honey! How's about gettin' me a cold glass of Miller Light!' He, too, looked across the restaurant and asked, 'Is that God's boy over there?' The waitress once more nodded, so the Democrat directed her to give Jesus a cold glass of beer. 'On my bill,' he said.
As Jesus got up to leave, he passed by the Republican, touched him and said, 'For your kindness, you are healed.' The Republican felt the strength come back into his legs, got up, and danced a jig out the door.
Jesus also passed by the Libertarian, touched him and said, 'For your kindness, you are healed.' The Libertarian felt his back straightening up, and he raised his hands, praised the Lord and did a series of back flips out the door.
Then Jesus walked towards the Democrat. The Democrat jumped up and yelled, 'Don't touch me! I'm collecting disability.'
Thursday, April 10, 2008
I find the lack of contact between faithful Catholics and the culture, the political structures, the media etc.. absolutely inexusable. The one big glaring virtue to the American system is the ability to get on the horn, get on the ballot, get off your butt, and change the world for Christ.
I have spoken to newspaper editors who have admitted to me that they would like to go to bat on this or that topic- ex. taking the palestinian narrative more seriously- but they are pressured by who calls, how many call, and do they request a sit-down meeting. If a tiny minority of pro-Israeli American Jews can shape our Congress, our Presidency, our Media, so soundly with good old fashonied organizing- what is wrong with us?
I have found most Catholic parishes barely interested in shaping the political landscape of which the pastors and faithful moan and groan about all the time. Minorities have to stand up and be counted or they will be overlooked or oppressed- history shows this over and over. Catholics are so bound by the devil with the Pro-Life camps pitted against the Social Justice camps- it is a clear divide/conquer strategy and most Catholics I know are being played like fiddles- Catholic Left- Catholic Right- how about straight Catholic- Dorothy Day/Mother Teresa- One Church- liberal give the conservative his due, conservative give the liberal his- you both make some sense.
If Catholics had their act together, we wouldn't be the butt of so much unholy humor, we wouldn't be destroying Iraqis and creating enraged jihadists at every turn, we wouldn't be killing our offspring and cheering right to choose death for our kids, we wouldn't be fighting a losing cause in standing up to a divorce/gay oversexualized culture, we wouldn't be calling social programs 'the beast", we wouldn't be questioning the value of faith-based organizations, we wouldn't have a global economy built on the backs of Chinese slave laborers and poor, desperate workers trapped in corrupt/failed nations with border guards keeping everyone and everything just in place so that the elites can keep their station secured, Hollywood wouldn't be making Da Vinci Code movies anymore than they are likely to make a Protocols of Zion film...but alas, American Catholics are either too wimpy, or too caught up in the exciting idiocies of party politics, to be of much service to the world for Christ's poor and vulnerable.
The only reason we are so powerless in America is that we are so clueless as to what freedom we have here in America- we are like the cave-dweller in Plato's parable gazing at shadows, missing out on the direct sunlight so easily found.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Russell Kirk spoke to the Heritage Foundation on 9/11/86 and gave his reccomendations for Ten Conservative Books worth reading. I think I'll summarize his introduction in a future post, but for now, let me tell you the ten books he reccomends (Methinks it would be more fun that way), and I'll throw in the books and authors that got honorable mention.
THE TEN BOOKS
Reflections on the Revolution in France (Burke)
Democracy in America (Tocqueville)
The American Democrat (James Fenimore Cooper)
The American Republic (Orestes Brownson)
Liberty, Equality and Fraternity (James Fitzjames Stephen)
Is Life Worth Living? (W.H. Mallock)
Democracy and Leadership (Irving Babbit)
The Attack on Leviathan (Donald Davidson)
The Social Crisis of our Times (Wilhelm Ropke)
Notes Toward the Definition of Culture (T.S. Eliot)
Conservatism: Dream and Reality (Robert Nisbett)
The Case for Conservatism (Francis Graham Wilson)
The Case for Conservatism (Quintin Hogg)
The Portable Conservative (Kirk, ed.)
The Conservative Mind (Kirk)
The Political Writings of John Adams (George A. Peek, ed.)
A Disquisition on Government (John C. Calhoun)
A Disquistion on the Constitution (John C. Calhoun)
AUTHORS (BESIDES THE ABOVE)
Robert Louis Stevenson
Henry St. John Bolingbroke
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Paul Elmer More
Bernard Iddings Bell
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Over at the Inside Catholic blog, Margaret Cabaniss wrote a good post about flawed media coverage of Pope Benedict XVI’s upcoming visit to the United States. Like most people writing on the subject, I think there is a huge disconnect between what actually occurs within the Catholic Church and what the media is reporting. In addition, like Margaret, I would appreciate seeing someone else beside Fr. McBrien “representing” the Catholic Church.
Why do reporters get the story wrong so often and why do they rely on the same sources again and again?
There is a possible explanation. A number of years ago when I was studying communications, more than one journalism professor told us that reporters cover so many issues and topics, that what they can really know and understand about any given subject, you could basically put in a thimble. That isn't a knock against journalists; it's just the way it is. When you are assigned a story at 10 am, and have a 4 pm deadline, you need don't really have the time to always do the best research or track down the best sources. For the journalist, a lot of times it comes down to who answers the phone and who is willing and available to do the interview. Reporters need someone (an expert in the field, a PR person, etc.) to call and basically make himself available to help, over and over. Although there are people out there giving good, sound advice, most reporters probably won't have the time to go look for it. (Unless an assignment editor gets an itch to do a story on coverage of the coverage.)
So what can you change? You can change the individual perceptions that individual reporters, assignment editors, and news producers have of individual Catholic leaders. When a reporter meets and gets to know a Catholic priest, for better or for worse, he will think, “This priest is the Catholic Church.” The challenge then becomes for a reporter to get to know and develop a relationship with an articulate, personable orthodox priest, rather than an articulate, personable unorthodox one.
As someone who used to work in public relations for several years before she decided to take it easy and raise children, I have a few suggestions (not for reporters, but for Catholics.) The PR person who I considered my mentor used to make herself so useful and helpful to reporters that they were always calling her for quotes and to get quotes from others. She constantly worked at establishing friendships with reporters, so they trusted her and called her when they needed help with stories. She was one of the most ethical and hardworking people I have ever met. She was completely open and honest with reporters and they, in turn, respected her. A few of our orthodox and articulate priests out there are going to have to start putting themselves out there and establishing relationships with some of these managing editors, reporters and editorial boards and act as PR people for the Church. They need to take them out for lunch, for a beer (an advantage we have over Protestants), whatever, and start doing things like that *before* a story needs to be written or a big event takes place or a crisis arises. They need to call them up occasionally and pitch story ideas. They will probably reject 90 percent of them, but at least they will know who these orthodox priests are and that they are available to help (The reporters won't care so much that they are orthodox, but that are available and willing to help). They can guide them to other good sources,as well. Of course, people will say that priests don't have time, and they don't. However, people have more time to establish positive relationships with reporters before a crisis happens than to try to clean up the mess afterward. At some point, the reporters will start calling for help with various stories. A lot of the stories may be negative, but it would be far better to help a reporter with a negative story (and make whatever can't be perfect, be less imperfect...was that Chesterton or St. Thomas More?) than to just let him write it on his own. And never say, "No comment."
As a public relations professional told a group of us once, “Reporters are human. They send their kids to school, they pay bills and taxes, and they worry about the future, just like you. Relate to them like they are human beings.” Along the same lines, no one likes to hear about what a lousy job they are doing, 24/7. This seems to be a trap in which conservatives, particularly conservative bloggers and radio pundits, find themselves. Before I worked in public relations, I worked for a newspaper. Trust me, newspaper editors, reporters and publishers receive a lot more criticisms than they do attaboys. If you want to see more fair coverage, start praising writers when they get something right. It will be much more effective. Frankly, the onus is on us, as Catholics, to present our Church and its teachings in an accurate manner, and more difficult than anything, that involves living out those truths in our daily lives.
Several people I respect have said that something that has greatly aided their development is, when reading a book, to write a one-paragraph summary. I'd like to develop that habit myself though it's a hard habit to acquire (I tend more toward Augustine's view that "We learn better in a free spirit of curiosity.....").
Anyway, if I can get motivated, I'd like to post my summaries--and with any luck get some feedback and improve them. With any luck other people would see fit to share the fruits of thier study as well. My question is this: would it be better to post them here at PSRM, or just make another blog with a link here? Here are my thoughts on both options:
1) PRO: More people would see them here.
2) PRO: I have my hands full keeping one blog going.
3) PRO: People only have to go one place
1) PRO: It would keep things separate for those who are not interested in my private Cliff's Notes.
2) PRO: It would keep things separate for someone who wanted to search for help on the particular chapter of a book (My frinds and I read a lot of the same books--pretty scarry)
3) CON: I'm probably being unrealistic that I will do that many summaries, so what's the point?
4) PRO: you could go to the list of posts and see a list of the books that have been summarized.
5) PRO: It would force me to make my summaries summaries and not fudge and make it turn into more of my "random thoughts".
Aside, I just started Plato's Republic. I sure hope it picks up. Right now it is grinding on my nerves. I've never read it straight through, but I don't recall what I've read being this dull. Maybe it's the translation.
Monday, April 7, 2008
[Sorry, this post is longer than I would like. Just read the first paragraph and give me your thoughts, unless you are REALLY interested]
I wonder if the problem with this country is not our prosperity. The good books says "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle..." i.e. wealth is an obstacle to the individual. I think maybe it's an obstacle to a country as well.
I have a lot of, so to speak, "random thoughts while shaving" on this topic (some contining on the line of wondering if the country paralels the individula):
1) Somebody told me they saw a sociological study on how people seem to have increased difficulties if they have either too much or two little money. The problems can be overcome, but "it is easier....". If the phenomenon does not reach to the level of the contry, it reacehes at least to the level of the corporation: The mom and pops company that is not doing so well, has an increades liklihood to engage in unethical practices; the corporation who sees the opportunity to make a lot of money over a short period likewise has an increased liklihood to engage in unethical behavior. It's better to have a healthy steady income. There is the proverb about becoming wealthy suddenly and destroying yourself.
2) As an individual, if you are healthy, wealthy and popular, there is an increased tendency to feel he does not need God or or his fellow. On a personal note, I can be close to intolerable when I taste success. My chances of avoiding damnation are "iffy" at best. Were it not for pain, failure, embarrassment, and the like, I'd be on the highway to hell. Somebody said "I believe in getting into hot water; it keeps you clean."
3) Early Rome, on the path to greatness is full of virtuous men. Note how once Rome became successful, the anecdotes from history turn from examples of virtue and self-sacrifice to examples of greed, backstabbing, orgies and the vomitorium.
4) Other than 911, the last successful attack on the continental U.S. from a foreign army, was some Mexican's thugs that who made a brief foray but ended up being strapped to the hood of Lt. George S. Patton's car. That was pretty minor. Before that, what? the war of 1812? America has not seen the grisly face of war on the home front since the 1860's and America has never suffered a bombing campaign to "break the will of the people."
Saturday, April 5, 2008
On another blog, my assertion that “abortion is no safer now that it is legal.” Was labeled as “a ridiculous statement”, my “misguided opinion” and a “ridiculous false statement.” And was informed that “abortion as practiced in the west by experienced medical personnel in a sterile surgical environment is exponentially safer than home/folk remedies being put in the hands of women who might be marginally familiar with their uses at best. If you googled just the one method I mentioned - pennyroyal - I would be willing to bet your search results would include several news items in which pregnant women attempting to end an unwanted pregnancy had fatally overdosed.”
They may think I am crazy, but I’m not. As it happens this is one area where I am pretty well informed. The problem is that the facts that I am about to discuss are never mentioned by the media.
Here is my response in no particular order:
1) Abortion in America is very often not practiced by experienced medical personnel.You do not have to be a doctor to perform an abortion in the U.S.
2) it is often not practiced in a sterile environment in fact, many abortion clinics have been found to merely wipe the blood off and go to the next patient. If you do not believe me, go to your local crisis pregnancy center and ask them how often they help women who have gotten infections and diseases from ana abortion
3) abortion, when performed by a doctor, is rarely performed by a person who is competent. Few doctors want to perform them, and the ones that do are very often forced to do so because they cannot get a job elsewhere because they have malpracticed so often. Abortionists are the scum of the medical profession.
4) The abortionist spends very little time with the patient. The women are prepped in several rooms and the abortionist goesfrom room to room and performs the abortions very quickly. If you have an abortion, this is what you will see of the doctor: You will see him for the first time as he walks quickly into the room, performs the abortion and is out of the room in about six minutes.
5) abortionist when they injure a woman, because they usually have numerous malpractice suits already, and because they are embarrassed to have an ambulance in front of the clinic, try to cover it up and several women have bled to death as a result of not being taken to a hospital quickly enough
6) the type of abortion women have where it is legal is essentially the same as what they had when it was illegal. The horror stories of coat hangers etc. are mere propaganda. The doctors who testified in Roe vs. Wade admitted they lied.
7) more women die of abortion today than they did before it was legal.
8) Compared to other areas of medcine, the abortion industry is virtually unregulated.
9) There is an abundance of former abortionists who say the following: I started doing abortions for two reasons: to help women and to make money. Within two months that became one reason: Money. I found out quickly that abortion does not help anyone.
10) The number of complications from and malpractices in abortion procedures is (I would say "grossly") underreported. Abortion clinics usually do not provide care for complications. Women have to go to other facilities and are embarrasses about the abortion and request the doctor keep it hushed.
11) There is rarely anything approaching informed consent in the abortion industry.
12) In Louisiana during the Clinton administration, the Department of Health and hospitals wanted to shut down a clinic, but as it turns out, abortion clinics are not regulated by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. The only agency that could touch the clinic was OSHA because the unsanitary conditions posed a threat to the employees. There was another agency, a law enforcement agency though I can't recall if it was the FBI or the AG or what, who was about to conduct an investigation of a particular clinic, but the people working the case were told that word came from "very high" to "back off."
13) Making abortion legal did not make it more psychologically safe.
14) Abortion still increases the risk of breast cancer.
15) JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: "Complications following abortions performed in free-standing clinics is one of the most frequent gynecologic emergencies . . . encountered. Even life-endangering complications rarely come to the attention of the physician who performed the abortion unless the incident entails litigation. The statistics presented by Cates represent substantial under- reporting and disregard women’s reluctance to return to a clinic, where, in their mind, they received inadequate treatment." L. Iffy, "Second Trimester Abortions," JAMA, vol. 249, no. 5, Feb. 4, 1983, p. 588.
16) "One sequel to abortion can be a killer. This is pelvic abscess, almost always from a perforation of the uterus and sometimes also of the bowel," said two professors from UCLA, in reporting on four such cases. C. Gassner & C. Ballard, Amer. Jour. OB/GYN, vol. 48, p. 716 as reported in Emerg. Med. After Abortion-Abscess, vol. 19, no. 4, Apr. 1977
17) The number of women who die from abortion appears to be about the same now, though it is grossly underreported, as it was the year before abortion on demand became legal.
This is what I threw together quickly. I would invite you, whether you agree or disagree, to give me suggestions for improving this post by comment or e-mail
If you are interested in reading more, here you go:
What Former Abortionists Say
WHO Official Admits Legal Abortion is Not "Safe" For Women
Department of Labor: Abortion clinics do not comply with OSHA regulations and guidelines.
Lack of Informed Consent
Abortionists Are Not Held Accountable for Mistakes
Lack of Regulation
Victims Speak Out
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
"Why are you trying to impose your values on the rest of us?'... [T]he underlying premise is that a democartic society may be constructed upon values and beliefs found in the books of Rachel Carson, Ralph Nader, Betty Friedman, and Alfred Kinsey, but not upon values and belifs [found elsewhere]. To accept that argument is to permit ourselves to be driven permanently from the public square.
Someone's values are going to prevail. Why not ours? Whose country is it, anyway?"
Patrick J. Buchanan, Right From the Beginning, page 342
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
If, as my friend Rodak insists, the state must maintain an orthodoxy of moral relativism, upon what is the state to base its laws? Law must be based on morality. If it is not, then what is it based on? The tyranny of the majority? Bigotry? Prejudice? Self interest of the powerful? The dictates of the powerful?
No doubt you ask, “But which theory?” That is a good question, and would make for an interesting discussion, but we have to take things one at a time. Before going into that, first we should consider the matter in the abstract.
What do we base out law on if not objective morality.
I'm about 1/3 of the way through The World is Flat. One of the chapters is dedicated to Wal-Mart and their system of uberefficiency in logistics and cutting out wholesalers.
The author acknowldges Wal-Mart's failures in providing adequate benefits and, when he interviewed the CEO, so does Wal-Mart to a certain extent, and supposedly they are trying to improve. Anyway, one of the things that Wal-Mart says it is NOT to blame for is the outsourcing.
Apparently they fought to have things manufactured in the U.S.A. rather than abroad. They figured if the factories were in the U.S.A. the workers would have jobs and more money to spend at Wal-Mart. It was the manufacturers who insisted on outsourcing.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Sunday, March 23, 2008
My biggest problem is the assertion that you can't have natural law without God. I have no problem with God, but people put forth the "natural law" as a basis for regulating society that is independent of theological strings. It seems to me that either Natural Law as a non-relgions moral basis for regulating society, or God as the foundation of Natural Law has to go. Right?
Second, can you develop moral norms from the natural law? I'm not entirely clear on that. If I want to know whether I would without food and water from my grandfather who is PVS, will the Natural law tell me? If not, what is the purpose of Natural Law.
Bottom line here: I don't see how Natural Law can be a way for Americans to agree on the best way to regulate society.
The Devil's Advocate
Saturday, March 22, 2008
I've come to the conclusion that poking fun at some "professional liturgists" in such a way was distasteful and thus I've removed the video. Please note, the original post was not addressed to any laity or priests in my diocese in particular. (Apparently more than a couple of people are reading the blog from the diocese I belong to and I don't want to lead anybody into making false judgments or thinking I'm picking on them.)
Friday, March 21, 2008
The following is Rodak's question:
What is the "collectivist" interpretation of this:
"And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it." (Luke 9:23, 24)
Is the collectivist concept that you all share one great big cross, that you all carry together towards salvation, like a group of pall bearers carrying a coffin together, so that no one individual feels the weight of it?
The Jews were a Chosen People. If you read the Old Testament, you will find that the Jews were not particularly happy about having been chosen, much of the time. Consider, for instance, their actions in the wilderness, after the exodus from Egypt. When God tapped some man on the shoulder to make a prophet of him, that man usually tried to avoid the task. The Jews were redeemed by individually keeping the Law, and punished collectively for the failure of individuals to do so.
This is the same Law that St. Paul equated with death. We Christians are saved by faith, and we die only our own death. How can any group have my faith for me, or stand before the Throne for me, after I have died the first death alone?
Rodak said: "[relativism is] not a tyranny, since it's not coercive."
Relativism says "There is no objective truth concerning X". This statement however in fact asserts an objective truth, namely that objective truth does not exist. It is also, coercive. If I say "X is objectively true" and relativism says "X is not objectively true", one statement must be true and one must be false.
Relativism is in fact the most coercive statement of supposed objective truth, because it cannot co-exist with any other objective truth whatsoever. The Church teaches that, while it contains the fullness of truth, we must accept the truth that we find in science and in other religions. There can be common ground. Relativism will allow no such tolerance: everything must bow to it.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Mr. Loi is a thoughtful and articulate man, and he gave an enjoyable and enlightening lecture. In light of his position, I understand why he only faintly alluded to human rights violations. Yet he did discuss the yawning gap between the wealthy city dwellers and the poor peasants, and China's pollution problem.
When a questioner highlighted the human rights problem he did address it, and came down on the side of trying to influence China to improve its record.
In the knot of people who gathered around him after the lecture, it was curious to note how many people wanted to talk about China's environmental problem. This seems a bit odd. Why so much concern about smog when there are work camps, executions, torture (well, I guess America is now for torture), and lack of religious freedom? It doesn't add up to me.
Aside, though I have not researched this myself, I understand evidence supports the proposition that economic development often aids environmental conservation and remediation.
I'll be pondering all of this.
As always, the Banners series attracts interesting speakers and does a lot to enrich our little community. It is great to see such an effort work so well. You meet the most interesting people there too. I'm marking my calendar for "Zydeco, Mardi Gras and Trail Rides" (April 1st), "Eisnstein's Jewish Science" (April 15th), and "Inventing Vietnam: Lessons in Nation Building from a Forgotten Example" (April 29th).
Any advice on other books or what to cover. I am open to suggestions.
Monday, March 17, 2008
I don't agree with PJB on everything, and he makes some comments that make me squirm, but I had to face it, how many conservative thinkers are there out there? The talking heads on the radio are neither conservative nor thinkers. What other conservative voices are there? Besides that, PJB is sharp as a tack. Also, now that, I think, he no longer has plans to run for president, it's easier to identify with him. Brilliant, great speaker, great writer, fierce in debate, but no politicial.
Anywho, he's pretty fun to read, so I'm reading RIGHT FROM THE BEGINNING, and may read more ( I plan to, but you how it is being an slow-dyslexic-reader-book-enthusiast with ADD) of his stuff after that (maybe his new book?). RFTB is his memoir through 1988. I imagine that it was written as part of his aborted 1988 bid for the White House.
Cerebella, as much as I hate to feed your militancy for the Latin Mass and the church of mid-century, you would love this book, particularly the first 79 pages, which chronicles his childhood in 1940's and 50's Georgetown and Chevy Chase.
Friday, March 14, 2008
One major issue that is neglected by the mainstream media and many conservative commentators is that since the Iraq War began we've seen more attacks on the religious liberty of Christians in Iraq than while Iraq was under the control of the dictator Saddam Hussein. I did see where The American Conservative magazine highlighted the persecution of Christians since our occupation. It's certain that Iraq was a better place to live for Christians then than it is now. Should we just chalk this problem up as another one of those unforeseen consequences that was not considered by the advocates of the Iraq War? Maybe some thought about it; perhaps some just didn't care.
Knowing that this war has severely hightened the danger of my brother and sister Christians and their free exercise of the Faith saddens me deeply. With respect to the late Archbishop, what consoles me is the crown he has received from our Blessed Lord and for his ability now to intercede for us here. Like my wife said, "The bishop now can do bigger and better work for Iraq."
Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, pray for us, especially this sinner.
(See also, "If I Were King...." below) What should the king (in our case the people) study in order to rule for the common good? Below are some major areas with some specific issues. What needs to be added?
History and historical geography, particularly the progress of civilizations (how they began, major events, how they declined, forms of government and how the form changed).
Philosophy, what are the major areas of study and the schools of thought within each, who founded, which thinkers, what implications, what historical anecdotes.
Current events and geography (esp. beyond our borders)
Science (current issues: global warming and environmentalism, evolution, creationism and intelligent design; theories in support and against).
Economics, micro and macro.
Politics (here and abroad), who controls what where, who is going where with what policy; schools of thought on foreign policy, proponents, implications and current and historical anecdotes; theories of government proponents, implications and current and historical anecdotes.
Specific moral issues: abortion, euthanasia, the family and sex, torture, trade with oppressive regimes, labor standards.
If we are all rulers here in America, don't we all have a certain duty? Or should there be some “golden class” of elites that are responsible for the common good in America? You don’t hear a lot of people debating this much past the eighteenth century in America, but whether it is discussed anymore or not, it remains a vexing question.
Even if we do not believe that all Americans can or will look after the common good, if we love our country, if we want to consider ourselves good people, we need to take up the yoke by at least being informed. We hear a lot of banter right about now about how important it is to vote, but what difference does it really make if all you ever do is vote once or twice a year if you are ignorant? You probably do as much harm as good.
(see also my next post "I am King" above)
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
"If you find it difficult to discuss this subject without appealing to predictions of dire consequences for the future...if you find more vitrolics than veracity in your contributions to the debate, then you need to acknowledge that you are driven at least as much by fear and anger as you are by genuine concern for a 'let the chips fall where they may" pursuit of the truth. Anger and fear have never been reliable conduits of verisimilitude."
Saturday, March 8, 2008
And here a certain rural Texas doctor takes on the new Fed Head (linked to the CMI blog):
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
I think the reason the post gets so much discusion is that it asks what is wrong with our country.
I have one observation and two questions:
OBSERVATION: Everyone seems to agree that something is wrong.
Q1: What is it we are all looking for? What are we seeking? What is the goal we have missed?
Q2: How do we fix it?
Monday, March 3, 2008
It promises to be interesting.
I don't know why blogger isn't letting me put links in my posts. Here is the URL:
Sunday, March 2, 2008
Even if they don't break, they need to be disposed of carefully (ie, not with the kitchen garbage). The ban on incandescent bulbs was supported by environmentalists. This sounds like an environmental disaster in the making to me.
I've seen this info several places on the 'net, but here are a couple specific links:
Also, here is the EPA's own page for how to clean up if one of these bulbs breaks:
Friday, February 29, 2008
Some other authors published by Spence include J. Bud....ski (can't spell it correctly), Michael S. Rose, and Jennifer Roback Morse. Spence publishes books that cover topics such as politics, sex, and philosophy. In other words, things that Civis wants to talk about on his blog.
(Seattle) In a victory for pro-life families around the world, AVM Biotechnology LLC (AVM Biotech) today announced their decision to provide ethical alternatives in the fields of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and vaccine development.
The announcement was an answer to years of hard work and prayers for Children of God for Life, a pro-life organization that has battled to bring moral alternatives to aborted fetal vaccines to the US market for nearly a decade.
"There are no words sufficient to express our deepest gratitude to Dr Deisher and AVM Biotech", noted the group's Executive Director, Debi Vinnedge, who was also named to AVM Biotech's Advisory Board for vaccine development.
While most vaccines and medicines are produced in an ethical manner, several are manufactured using cell lines derived from aborted fetal tissue with no competing ethical products available. Vinnedge noted this has left concerned pro-life families in both a difficult and unjust position.
"For too long parents who want to protect their children without compromising their deeply held pro-life and religious beliefs have been coerced into an unnecessary and unjust moral dilemma," she stated. "No one should be forced to choose between these two fundamental human rights."
Both organizations hope that the news will spark members of Congress to move forward with their Fair Labeling and Informed Consent legislation, a bill that would require full disclosure from the pharmaceutical industry whenever aborted fetal or embryonic cell lines are used in medical products.
"Every consumer, whether pro-life in philosophy or not, has the right to know if human fetal cell contaminants are present in the drugs they receive", noted Dr Deisher. "Consumers should be informed and empowered to make the best health care choices for themselves and their families. Surely, if we have the right to know what is in our fast food, we should also have the right to know what is in our medicine."
AVM Biotech intends to further assist in this effort by certifying that its therapeutic products are not discovered, screened, evaluated, produced, or tainted in any way by the use of electively aborted human fetal material, human embryonic material, or any other unethically obtained materials.
This video is lengthy (9 minutes) but watch it. It shows that we don’t have the money (and never will have enough) to pay for all the things the politicians have promised. We’re bequeathing to the following generations an enormous bill they’ll never be able to pay unless some drastic spending cuts happen. Where are we going to get money for universal healthcare, Obama and Hillary? How are we going to pay for endless war, Mr. McCain?
Last night we were talking about “penetrating” the professions. Civis brought up the social sciences. Catholics want to go into the social sciences, so let’s give them some good formation to do it. The school’s focus, I believe, is for clinical psychology.
A friend of mine went to IPS’s summer study program at Oxford University. His professors included John Finnis, Roger Scruton, and Aidian Nichols.
Thank God for programs such as these that consider the whole human person when forming future social scientists such as psychologists.
Computer Programmer testifies under oath regarding election rigging in South Florida:
John McCain won New Hampshire, my ass:
Perhaps the scariest of all: when a young father of five, a cool-headed Ron Paul supporter, suggests that we may have nowhere else to go than to the gun cabinet, then Houston, we have a problem.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
a) When did the U.S. have “biblically based government”? I’m not saying the USA defies the good book or anything, but a Biblically based government, in my mind, would indicate a theocracy or a monarchy. I have read about “the Kingdom of Heaven” but never the Republic of heaven.
b) Considering our historical roots and what I know of my fundamentalist friends, I fear that a return to “biblical government” would not be friendly to religious freedom.
c) [Yes, I’m making this argument] Is a rallying cry for “Biblical” government likely to turn the tide or win a national election? Maybe the “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” approach would be preferred to such a rallying cry. I think a lot of people would have second thoughts after hearing about “biblical” government—not that they are anti-Christian.
Is Civis too rigid? Crazy? Paranoid?
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Monday, February 25, 2008
What's this I hear from some people that they might "sit out" the Presidential election because they aren't comfortable with the likely choice of candidates?
Since when are elections supposed to make us "comfortable?" Since when do we exercise that right to vote, for which people fought and died, only when it's easy and clear-cut, and our choices are just the way we want them to be?
At Mass we pray, "I confess to Almighty God...that I have sinned...in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do..."
What we fail to do can make us just as guilty as what we do. A sin is a wrong choice, and to decide not to do something is just as much of a choice as to decide to do something.
A sin of omission is still a sin - and we are still responsible for the results.
What, then, makes us think that we are more responsible for the results of voting than for the results of not voting?
A vote is not a philosophical statement. It is a transfer of power. It is a pragmatic act to preserve, as much as possible under the circumstances, the common good, and to limit the evils that threaten it.
And in the pragmatic matter of elections, what matters is not how closely a candidate measures up to my preferences and convictions. Instead, it's a question of who can and will actually get elected. It does little good if the person I felt most comfortable supporting doesn't get to actually govern and implement those positions I like so much.
The vote can be used just as much to keep someone out of office as to put someone in.
If we fail to use that tool, however, and as a result the person who gets elected is far worse and does far more damage than the other person we did not like, then we still share responsibility for the damage that will be done.
Elections have seasons. In the earliest phases, the field is wide open. We can recruit candidates, or decide to run ourselves. We build up the name recognition and base of support for the person or people who would make the best candidate. This takes years of work.
Then the season of primaries arrives, during which voters choose between the candidates who have been recruited and who have been building up their strength.
Then the general election season arrives, and we may find that we don't like any of the names on the ballot. At that point, we have to shift our thinking and focus on "better" rather than "best." The reality usually is that one of several unsatisfactory candidates will in fact be elected. So we use our vote to create the better outcome and to limit the damage. That’s the shift that some fail to make.
And we are still responsible for what we fail to do.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Why are people so uptight about the idea of a National ID card? I suspect it has something to do with “The Mark of the Beast” and other bedtime-end-of-the-world horror stories. But anyway, I would be irked about it except for the fact that—don’t we all have Social Security Cards and Social Security numbers? If they put my picture on the card, what difference does it make? What great evil would be achieved by a National ID card that we don’t already have by virtue of the Social Security card?
Maybe some of you think having a Social Security card is a bad thing and think we ought to get rid of them. That’s a rational position.
[Aside: now my conspiracy theorist friends will say I’m a “Change Agent". ]
Monday, February 18, 2008
"Ignoring the issue" is evading the topic by, for example, disproving what your opponent never said or proving a point not under discussion. It is also know as the “Straw Man” or “House of cards.” Here is a list of prime examples (there are longer lists, but IMHO the longer list have duplicative items):
a)Argumentum ad hominem (“appeal to the man”)
-ignore the issue by attacking the person.
b) Argumentum ad populum (“appeal to the masses”)
-Appealing to the prejudices and\or biases.
-This is an appeal to mass psychology.
c) Argumentum ad baculum (“appeal to the stick”)
-Threats of violence.
-Shouting down your opponent or talking so much he can't talk.
d) Argumentum ad misericordiam (appeal to pity)
-used especially by lawyers to get their client off.
e) Argumentum ad verecundiam (appeal to reverence)
-invoke authority, uphold tradition.
f) Argumentum ad ignorantiam (appeal to ignorance)
-Use of exaggerated statistics.
Friday, February 15, 2008
According to the ultimate authority on everything, Wikipedia, paleocons supposedly believe in classical Federalism. What is classical federalism? In the true sense of the word, it would describe what I believe in: power should be held at the lowest level, but in the U.S. “fdederalism usually means “strong central government.” I favor Reagan’s “New Federalism” which gives more power to the states. Is this “classical federalism”? As the ultimate authority goes on to say, even if you specific “paleo”, “Paleoconservativism is not expressed as an ideology and its adherents do not necessarily subscribe to any one party line.”
Here’s what I believe in (or what’s been in my mind lately):
People need to be involved in government if self-government is going to work. “There is no political solution to our trouble evolution”: Good men make a bad system work; opportunists, if not stopped by the citizens, will make a good system fail. That being said….
The rule of law. (I would specify that I believe strongly in the Bill of Rights, but “your rights end where my nose begins.” Thus the state needs to be kept under in its place, but “rights” are not moral absolutes).
Small Government: I have no problem with the government doing things that it can do best (which is a small list of things), but the government should not do things that, states, cities, neighborhoods, families or individuals can do for themselves.
Speak and walk softly but carry a big stick: If our interests are really at issue and we have to use force, use force quickly and decisively. Be willing to facilitate peace, but otherwise, stay out of other people’s business. War is morally, politically and economically hazardous and should be a last recourse.
What am I?
Thursday, February 14, 2008
From Pat Buchanan:
"Since it began to give credit ratings to nations in 1917, Moody's has rated the United States triple-A. U.S. Treasury bonds have been seen as the most secure investment on earth. When crises erupt, nervous money seeks out the world's great safe harbor, the United States. That reputation is now in peril.
Last week, Moody's warned that if the United States fails to rein in the soaring cost of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, the nation's credit rating will be downgraded within a decade."
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Very interesting, said I.
But then today I read "We only have to speak to our guardian angel in our minds for him to understand and even to deduce from out inward thoughts more than we ourselves are able to express."
Can anybody reconcile these two staments for me? Can anybody provide a basis for either assertion?
The comments include a rather scary one by a computer programmer regarding optical scan voting machines. It's quite a ways down in the comments; you can just do a search on "vote results are produced by software".
Ron Paul's latest update seems to be curing the depression in the camp; big March on Washington being planned and judging from the YouTube comments, it'll be a success in terms of numbers. If an annual march develops from this initial one, that would be good; it would keep the movement's momentum going after the election.
Monday, February 11, 2008
The knee-jerk reaction to "third parties" is "Don't waste your vote" or something similar; well, folks, I've been an active Republican since I was six years old, proudly wearing my "I Like Ike" button and stumping for the Eisenhower-Nixon ticket among my first grade classmates. I can truly say that the only real value returned for my work and financial support was Ronald Reagan. The rest has been a catalog of betrayals. So, if I must "waste" my time, effort, and vote, I will do so for a party in whose platform I believe, and I'll work for that party either until its platform and candidates become as corrupt as the Big Two or until I'm declared incompetent and institutionalized.
Most Americans believe that competition is good; it promotes efficiency, good service, and affordability. But when it comes to politics, the very idea of a "third party" is virtually anathema? If a third party can't win, then why can't it? Why can there be no equivalent to Apple Computer or Google in the political corporation world? These are not rhetorical questions; the answer to both lies in the difficulty of ballot access, supported by the Big Two; get rid of the stranglehold on ballots and watch the competition arise and flourish.
The Ballot Access Hurdle
Ballot Access News
And of COURSE: Platform of the Constitution Party
On another, but related matter - thanks, Jared, for your letter to Right to Life regarding John McCain, who has not only betrayed the pro-life community (repeatedly) but whose military hero myth is being "Swiftboated" (in the conservative sense of the word) by Viet Nam Vets. Talk about wasting a vote! I'm not sure he's the lesser of any two evils after seeing this:
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
And shame on the NRL for not mentioning Ron Paul, who was even endorsed by “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade, as being pro-life. He is as pro-life as anyone else running for president. You even praised Thompson, who was even behind Paul in most primaries before he dropped out. Please feel free to let me know why you praise Thompson and totally disregard Paul. The candidate that most resembles John Paul II on life issues is unquestionably Ron Paul. He’s against abortion; against the death penalty; against the preemptive, unnecessary war with Iraq (which, by the way, has killed thousands of innocent civilians, an unforeseen consequences of that ill-advised war); against the destruction of (or at least the taxpayer financing of the destruction of) human embryos.
Sunday, February 3, 2008
The founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Father Marcial Maciel, died January 30, 2008. His life was dedicated to Christ. Since he past away I have read several articles about his life. Most have concentrated upon the allegations against him of misconduct.
My questions are:
1. What will Fr. Maciel's legacy be? Will he be remembered for his tremendous work in spreading the Gospel of Christ or for the serious allegations made against him?
2. Is it fair to bring up the allegations since they were never proven? Should Fr. Maciel be considered innocent until proven guilty?
3. If the fruits of a person's life are 95% good and 5% bad, how should we remember them? Should we honor them for the good they have done or abstain from praise so as to not cause scandal?
What if the purpose of a “movement” is to make its members better people and not “conquer kingdoms, administer justice…. escape the edge of the sword…and route foreign enemies”? Is this a worthy end or does there need to be more? Should individual improvement be combined with group action? Is it better to have both or better to have only one?
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
I haven’t read “The Serious Catholic’s Guide to Voting” in a while, so maybe my thoughts here are heresy, but here is my hip pocket answer: It depends, but in general, pick the lesser of two evils.
As the old saying goes, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” In the words of St. Thomas More, “What you cannot make perfect, make as little imperfect as possible.”
On the other hand, a strong argument could be made that there are non-negotiable issues.
But what if everyone in the field has the same bad stance on a nonnegotiable issue? Suppose all the candidates support euthanizing every child with Attention Deficit Disorder. Are you prohibited from voting? What if they all have this stance, but all but one also has the stance that experiments should be done on these children first and without pain killers? Would the principle of double effect come into play (i.e. in voting for the one, you are voting for children not being the subjects of experimentation and not for euthanasia)?