Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Prager on Benedict & Pius

Once again, Dennis Prager's clarity shines through. In his latest column, "Pius attacked for not confronting evil, Benedict attacked for confronting evil," Dennis compares the recent criticism of Pope Benedict's comments on Islam, violence, and the role of reason with criticism of Pope Pius XII's alleged silence or even complicity regarding the Holocaust of the Jews: "But the attacks on Pope Benedict XVI may help shed new light on some of the motives for the attacks on Pius XII."

After all, has not Benedict done precisely what Pius's critics argue that Pius, and presumably any pope, should have done -- be a courageous moral voice and condemn the greatest evil and greatest manifestation of anti-Semitism of his time?

Take The New York Times editorial page, for example. It is written by people who condemn Pius for his alleged silence and now condemn Benedict for not being quiet. ...

He goes on to write:

Another example is Karen Armstrong, the widely read ex-nun scholar of religion. She has written of Pius XII that his "apparent failure to condemn the Nazis has become a notorious scandal." Moral and logical consistency suggest that she would welcome a pope who did confront today's greatest evil. But she has joined those condemning Pope Benedict. She wrote (putting these arguments in the mouths of affronted Muslims with whom she sympathizes): "the Catholic Church is ill-placed to condemn violent jihad when it has itself . . . under Pope Pius XII, tacitly condoned the Nazi Holocaust."

The argument is so illogical that only those who attended graduate school or Catholicism-bashers could find it persuasive. First, how do you condemn the silence of one pope when confronted with the greatest evil of his time and condemn another pope when confronting the greatest evil of his time? Second, if indeed the Church is guilty of condoning evil in the past, why does that render it "hypocritical" (her term for Benedict's condemnation of Islamic violence in God's name) to confront evil in the present? If my grandfather was a murderer, am I a hypocrite for condemning murder?

And closes with:

But the condemnations of Pope Benedict by virtually every major critic of Pius XII lead me to wonder whether the critics really want popes to confront evil or just want popes to think like they do.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Russia : Defender of Islam?

Huh? What could this mean?

Russia is the most reliable partner of the Islamic world and most faithful defender of its interests, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in Chechnya’s capital Grozny. Putin unexpectedly visited the war-ravaged republic to speak in the local parliament that opened for its first sitting on Monday.

“Russia has always been the most faithful, reliable and consistent defender of the interests of the Islamic world. Russia has always been the best and most reliable partner and ally. By destroying Russia, these people (terrorists) destroy one of the main pillars of the Islamic world in the struggle for rights (of Islamic states) in the international arena, the struggle for their legitimate rights,” Putin was quoted by Itar —Tass as saying, drawing applause from Chechen parliamentarians. [Emphasis added.]

(H/T: Gates of Vienna)

McCain Defends the Rights of Terrorists

PowerLine points out the latest "achievement" of Sen. John McCain: "John McCain seizes the moral high ground on behalf of his country":

Yesterday, Senator McCain listed some of the rights that terrorists now have thanks to his work. According to McCain, they have the right not to be subjected to water-boarding, extreme sleep deprivation, and forced hypothermia. Terrorist organizations also have the right, thanks to McCain, to know in advance which practices apparently are off-the-table.

With friends like this, ...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Pope Benedict and Islam : Further Thoughts

Here are some further thoughts on Pope Benedict XVI, what he said, and Islam:

Benedict Takes the Next Step with Islam by Mark Brumley

Ratzinger and Regensburg: On What Is a University? by Father James V. Schall, SJ

Is Dialogue with Islam Possible? Some Reflections on Pope Benedict XVI's Address at the University of Regensburg by Father Joseph Fessio, SJ

All are good reads. As usual, Against the Grain has a detailed roundup of published thoughts on the matter.

On another note, it seems that Froggy might be back. Let's hope he is.

Colin Powell and Some Doubts about His Civil Service

Here is further proof that Colin Powell is not all that many have built him up to be: "Colin Powell fails Military History."

Some background is here: "Remind me why I liked Powell."

However great a soldier he may have been--and I don't doubt that--he has continually shown himself to be somewhat inept and at times a duplicitous diplomat and civil servant.

As Dennis said here (2nd half of audio), here, and here, since it has come out that Powell knew all along who the leak was (in the Plame case), then why didn't he say something, why didn't he speak up, why did he let Karl Rove take so much heat and unjust criticism, and more to the point, why did he let Scooter Libby twist in the wind, let Libby's career be jeopordized, let Libby suffer the humilities of legal action ... all these things if he knew the truth? Not the sign of an honorable civil servant. More like the actions of someone with a political ax to grind.

Reading "The Disloyalists" by Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. will help explain some of the shenanigans. So will "Plame Out: The ridiculous end to the scandal that distracted Washington" by Christopher Hitchens.

Here is a list of related news and commentary articles.

While I'm at it:
"The real story behind the Armitage story" by Robert Novak

"What a load of Armitage!" by Michael Barone

"Plamegate" by Michael Barone

"Just A Plame Waste Of Time" by Captain Ed

"The 'Hubris' Of Richard Armitage" by Tom Maguire

"Give Bush a Break" by Jonah Goldberg

The Anchoress has weighed in too: "Colin Powell: the male Valerie Plame"

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Pope Benedict XVI and Islam: What Did He Say?

Last week, Pope Benedict XVI gave a talk at the university where he used to teach. His talk was on the greater role of reason in theological and philosophical dialogue, but one portion of the talk--the relation of reason to certain teachings or practices of Islam--is getting a lot of publicity.

Here's the talk: "Faith, Reason and the University: Memories and Reflections"

Mark Brumley offers a great summary:

This incident can be summarized: The pope says reason and religion must go together for each to be able to remain true to itself. Some Muslims object and throw a fit, thus proving the pope right.

Here are some links to those who have a whole lot of info, background, and up-to-date commentary on the continuing "controversy":

Pope Benedict XVI on "Faith, Reason and the University" - Regensburg, 2006 by Chris Blosser, who has once again compiled a great round-up of links

The Controversy over Pope Benedict's Remarks on Islam by Chris Blosser

The Regensburg Lecture: Thinking Rightly About God and Man Fr. James V. Schall, S.J.
Rioters' madness shames Muslim world by Fr. Raymond J. de Souza, a great priest I got to know during some Acton-related events in the 90's; make the time to read his essay

Italian nun killed;Pope sorry for Muslim reaction by Michelle Malkin

Pope Rage on the Internet;church bombings in Gaza by Michelle Malkin

I support the Pope by Michelle Malkin

"The Pope’s speech: lending Islam a helping hand to avoid a downward spiral" by Samir Khalil Samir, sj

And at Ignatius Press's blog: Insight Scoop:

Pope's Comments on his Regensburg Lecture

"radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam..."

Vatican Statement on Muslim Anger At Pope's Speech

European leaders back Benedict

The Real Story

Our threats of violence prove how peaceful we really are

Vatican defends pope’s remarks on Islam

The Vatican has issued some statements since where the Pope and/or a spokesman offer a response to some of the criticism.

Aside from all that, do words--however much they may be interpreted in a negative way, even if rightly so--do words from one Christian, even a very important Christian, justify the violence from Muslims that has resulted?

What is it about these Muslims that no criticism, even if wrong, will be tolerated? Are they not proving the point of the quoted passage in the Pope's speech that Muslim use of violence in this way is contrary to reason? Why do they not pursue the road of reason as a response rather than the ways of violence and intimidation?

Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11 Patriot Day: Remember the Fallen and Those Who Defend Us

September 11

On this day, just as a few other key blogs have been doing such as Mudville, Blackfive, Hugh, it is important to remember folks like Rick Rescorla. You can find out about him here.

During the 2001-2002 school year, one of my students did his research project on 9/11. When it came time to pick someone for the biography section, I suggested he consider Rick Rescorla. He did and wrote about the hero. That student, the class, and I all benefited from the essay. We learned a lot about the man who saved many lives.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Help Wanted: Best British Poems

I am trying to come up with a Top 9 of British poems and/or almost poems. I require my high school students to memorize one poem a month. Sometimes, it is technically not a poem but a selection from a larger work that I treat as a poem, such as the "Song of the Witches" from Macbeth: "Double, double toil and trouble; / Fire burn and caldron bubble."

Any suggestions you may have are very much welcome. Just post them or their titles in the comments section below or email me.

One a month for nine months.

I have a few already set because of the holiday/liturgical seasons.

Revisiting 9/11 with Fr. Schall, SJ

As usual, Fr. James V. Schall, SJ, has written a powerful and meaty essay, this one on 9/11 and how things look five years after that unforgettable day: "9/11 Revisited."

The fifth anniversary of the wanton destruction of the World Trade Center Towers is upon us. We ask ourselves: "Were the three thousand people killed somehow 'legitimate' targets?" and, "What was this attack about?" On the accuracy and clarity of our responses everything depends, including the purpose of reason itself. Yet, we are perplexed by the myriad of conflicting and contradictory explanations for the central cause of this day, now called, without further reference, "9/11."

The best anyone can do in these circumstances, it seems, is to provide a solid and well-considered opinion. This is what I shall try to do here. An "opinion" is an informed judgment based on suitable and available evidence concerning possible actions or explanations. The opinion on which one acts could be wrong, but we always act with some lack of clarity. We are irresponsible in many crucial instances, moreover, if we do not seek to find a plausible and accurate opinion about human events, about what they mean.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe, Community of Saint John, and a Beautiful Day

Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe passed away a week ago. His funeral was today in France and his body will be buried at Rimont (on the grounds of the motherhouse of the community he helped found: the Community of Saint John).

One of the most beautiful days I have experienced is the day I went to Paray le Monial for the profession of vows of some of the brothers. It was a day that some of them received their habit, the religious clothing of monks. The day was beautiful for many reasons, which some day I hope to write down, but for now the moment that directly involves Fr. Philippe is the moment, the event, of a man hearing for the first time and accepting his religious name (Brother so-and-so) ...

... coming up to the presiding superior and with the aid of his fellow brothers taking off an item (a coat) from his former non-monastic days ...

... as prayers are said to express what is going on with the removing of the item ... all with the assistance of his fellow brothers ...

... then the young man receives the habit ... the items are placed on him and his belt is buckled ... and the rosary is given which he places a part of it under his belt to keep it in place ... all this while prayers and explanations are reverently said to express the (monastic) significance of these items and also what they symbolize. The new brother then receives an embrace from his superior (here the founder Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe) as they each give a monastic gesture: the touching of the side of the left temple of the head upon the other's.

The new brother then gets up and exchanges the gesture with his fellow brothers who helped him during this moment take off the old man and put on the new man.

Ah, the beautiful manifests itself in so many ways! There are few things, moments more beautiful to those who see and understand what is happening on the day one becomes a monastic brother.

Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe Laid To Rest

Today was the funeral of Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe. This priest was a true man of the Church, one who contagiously expressed a real joy from living in the Church. Pope Benedict XVI's message on the passing can be found here.

Below is a photo of Fr. Philippe with some of the brothers of the Community he helped found.