Friday, March 28, 2008


I was disapointed to see this.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Relativism II

Aside from the fact that there is no workable argument for Moral relativism as a viable moral theory, and that Moral Relativism would lead to absurd corollaries with which no one could agree, there is a huge problem with Moral Relativism in the public square:

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.

Is it Wal-Mart's Fault?

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

The Death Toll


And what have we accomplished?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Devil's Advocate and Natural Law

Civis has a few nagging issues with traditional Natural Law. First, a gripe: most of the popular literature about Natural Law boils down to what the author thinks just has to be right. That's no help.

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

Collective Religion?

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."

Civis says:

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

Lecture on China

This evening, James L. Loi, visiting fellow with the Freeman Chair in China Studies, and Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. State department, gave a lecture for the Banners series titled "What in the World Is Happening in China?" Mr. Loi's work has focused on relations with China since 2002.

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).

Faithful Citizenship

If you were asked to give a presentation to adults on Catholics in the public square, including voting and citizenship, what sources would you consult? I've been asked to do such a thing and have some sources but wanted some feedback. Right now I am reading through its entirety JPII's Christifideles Laici ("On Christ's Lay Faithful") for an overview of what it means to be a laymen in the Church today. I know that he touches on areas of work and societal responsibilities. I also know there is the new conference of bishops document called Faithful Citizenship and I have read through some of that. I have also read the Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics and Bishop Olmstead's short book, Catholics in the Public Square. Archbishop Chaput has a page and one-half summary of what faithful citizenship means compared to the +40 pages given by the US bishops. Chaput's article is here.

Any advice on other books or what to cover. I am open to suggestions.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Battle of Public Orthodoxies

A battle is raging for your mind and mind of your child. Shouldn't the state stand on the sidelines? What do you think? Sound off!

Right From The Beginning

Well, I'm eating my words. I can't remember how many times Jared quoted Pat Buchanan over pizza at Mr. Gattis on Chimes street (or is it State street? It kind of makes a U and I don't know where State ends and Chimes begins) off of LSU and I would make some smart remark like, "Jared, I'm going to be so glad when you grow out of this stage."

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

R.I.P Bishop Rahho

Toby Danna at Arrival has some fine words on the death of the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Mosul in Iraq and for this final week of Lent. You can read his post here.

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.

I am King, Continuing Liberal Arts Education

(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 I Were King…

…and I were given responsibility to rule for the common good, I would have a duty to learn what is for the common good wouldn't I? Wouldn’t I have a duty to know about political theory, current events, science, history and a host of other things? The answer is clearly yes.

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

Thou Dost Protest Too Much

Last night Dr. James Sennate (formerly of MSU, now at Brenau University) gave a lecture entitled "An Intelligent Discussion of Intelligent Design" for the Banners Series last night at McNeese. The following is a quote from his lecture that is a good reminder for blog discussion of things such as contraception:

"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

Myths in Precious Metals

There's not much doubt that people are turning to gold and silver as investments; I'd love to impress my friends by saying I called my gold broker yesterday but they'd know better. I did, though, bid on a couple of coins on eBay after some self education at the CMI Gold and Silver site. They have a really good post on the "numismatic" myth which is a good read even if you're not interested in or able to invest right now: "Myths, Misunderstandings, and Outright Lies" -- recommended reading to protect yourself, or someone you know, against unscrupulous coin brokers.

And here a certain rural Texas doctor takes on the new Fed Head (linked to the CMI blog):

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Problem is......

The discussion on Rodak Riffs is up to 100 comments (right now we are talking about contraception). What makes this post of Rodak's so popular? The post was a single sentence: "Ask yourself how this could be.", with a link to a news article about how 1 in 100 Americans goes to prison.

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

Hot Topic

Beginning with my comment on 3/2/08 at 10:19 PM, we are discussing contraception at Rodak Riffs.

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

Politics and the Environment

Congress has mandated that incandescent bulbs be phased out by 2012, to be replaced by compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). Well, the EPA says CFLs should not be used everywhere, specifically not over carpeted areas where they may be susceptible to breakage (you know, like any room in a house with children). CFLs have been shown to release toxic amounts of mercury when they break (reference news links below). If they break over carpet, there is a rather complicated process to clean it up: turn off heating/AC, open windows, use sealable waste containers and duct tape, etc--and whatever you do, don't vacuum it up.

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:,2933,268747,00.html

Also, here is the EPA's own page for how to clean up if one of these bulbs breaks:

Check out Rodak Riffs

Interesting exchange on crime, poverty, divorce and contraeption

Racist Abortions