Thursday, March 30, 2006

Summer Project: Equality, Justice, and Freedom

I just submitted a proposal for summer research. Here is what I intend to do this summer:

TITLE OF PROPOSED RESEARCH: “Equality’s Just Place in the Human Person’s Quest for Freedom: Investigating the Interplay of Equality, Justice, and Freedom”


In both the contemporary literature on political philosophy and in the daily discourse of many Americans, there is an ongoing debate over the meaning and role that equality should play in our lives, both as private citizens and as members of a public society. One person advocates political changes in order to achieve greater equality for a certain group. Another seeks revocation of current laws in an attempt to rectify alleged unjust policies. All these are done while referencing “equality,” “justice,” and even “freedom,” though these demands come from quite polarized political viewpoints. Various notions of equality are applied in these discussions. In addition, there are differences in what people think a government’s role and purpose is. Some view equality and a more contemporary notion of justice as the goals of government whereas others view a more traditional understanding of justice as government’s goal in its attempt to provide the framework so its citizens may reach their own political end: liberty.[1] Equality. Justice. Liberty. They are inter-related, indeed. The question is how. The problem is knowing their limits.

In this project, I plan to discuss the major disputes over equality. I will investigate the various and often opposing views on the matter, engaging the works of liberal, conservative, communitarian, and libertarian thinkers. In an effort to understand better the value and place of equality, I will further probe the meaning and scope of justice. With a clear definition of justice, it will then be easier to discuss the main types of equality. Through this discussion, I hope to make clear which forms of equality a government, political theorist, or civic-minded person should be concerned with when discussing what is best for a people called to be free and to do so in a way that respects the dignity of the human person.

This is part of a larger goal of mine, one that seeks to develop and communicate an approach to society that provides for the best conditions in which the human person may not only experience structural equality and justice but also live out the freedom we are called to. Whether this calling is from God or just the dynamism of human nature is not immediately essential to the political discussion on what is best for a society. What is best is that we find a workable solution to continue in this country’s ongoing project of the “pursuit of happiness,” a happiness that finds its roots and its ends in the dignity of the human person.

Though I do believe God cares about what we do and how we treat others, I know that living in a pluralist society means that one has to come up with sensitive language that is both rational and convincing. This language must be understandable and acceptable to the theist and the non-theist, to the Christian and the Jew, to the faithful and the secular. As a result, even religious-minded advocates of justice should find a way to speak across the denominational and non-religious aisles. Theological arguments are good and have their place, but in our society, we do need a language that addresses the same social concerns (as theological mandates for justice) and we need one that does so mindful of the many traditions within our midst. It is unfortunate but a fact of our reality that explicitly theological/confessional language in the public square often turns people off to the message advocated, however worthy the content is. This is where philosophy and the use of reason can come into play. This is where my current proposal can aid: in an effort to supply a rational and human dignity-respecting answer to the problem of the relationship of equality, justice, and freedom.

Lastly, I plan to relate these concerns and the conclusion to the mission of Loyola Marymount University, specifically its Jesuit character and stress on “the promotion of justice in the concern of the Hebrew scriptures for ‘the widow, the orphan, and the stranger in the land’ and the preference of the gospels for the ‘least’ of Jesus’ brothers and sisters.”[2] In doing so, I will also have shown that faith and reason actually are “like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth”[3] as they find agreement on the necessary political conditions for a society that truly serves the individual and common goods of a people in characterized with a certain human dignity.

[1] Cf. John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, Essays in the History of Liberty, Vol. I (Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund, 1985), 22.
[2] Robert V. Caro, SJ, “Introduction: Understanding Our Identity,” Mission and Catholic Identity, Loyola Marymount University. 3 December 1990. . 28 March 2006.
[3] Pope John Paul II, Fides et Ratio, Introductory “Blessing.” 14 September 1998. . 28 March 2006.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Event: Help me make it happen

Much of my reading, thinking, and praying has led me to attempts at a deeper understanding of "event." What is it? What constitutes it? What are the elements or necessary conditions of an event? The conditions of the possibility. And so on. Imagine the impact on a Christian existence if one were to apply this to the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection, not to mention all the other happenings we take for granted in the history of the Church or in our own personal and local lives.

Aside from the essays I am already working on, I am beginning a more systematic research of "event." The philosophy of event. The theology of event. And all that good stuff. I have read a few thinkers on this: Msgr. Luigi Giussani, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Heidegger, Albacete. I am looking for discussion of this from Jean-Luc Marion (know of a few places but am looking for more), Josef Pieper, Romano Guardini, Fr. James V. Schall, Fr. Norris Clarke, Robert Sokolowski, Pope Benedict XVI (probably in his writings as Cardinal Ratzinger), and anyone else who can aid in the understanding and then living of the fact of events in our life.

I have found out about what seems to be a good article on this topic from Marion, but I can't find a copy of it. The article is from the Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal, vol. 26, no. 1, and is titled, "Phenomenon and Event." If you have it, please send me a copy. Contact me via email or in comments.

As well, if you know of any other sources, please let me know. This will be part of my summer research.

"Being Fully Human"

Fr. Schall, SJ--once again--writes a good read as he reviews a new book by Monsignor Robert Sokolowski:

His Christian Faith & Human Understanding, just published by the Catholic University of America Press, is a masterpiece of good sense, clarity, profundity, and accuracy of expression.

Fr. Schall's article, "'Mystifying Indeed': On Being Fully Human," brings up an array of good points and things to consider in order to live a more "Fully Human" existence. He opens with a passage from page 161 of Sokolowski's new book:

"It is a curious thing that human beings spend so much energy denying their own spiritual and rational nature. No other being tries with such effort to deny that it is what it is. No dog or horse would ever try to show that it is not a dog or horse but only a mixture of matter, force, and accident. Man’s attempt to deny his own spirituality is itself a spiritual act, one that transcends space, time, and the limitations of matter. The motivations behind this self-denial are mystifying indeed." — Robert Sokolowski, "Soul and the Transcendent Meaning of Persons."

Then closes the essay referring back to the quoted passage:

In the beginning, I cited a passage from Sokolowski that remarked on how odd it is, "mystifying indeed," that man would take such efforts to deny what he is. If you want to know what modern man is most often denying, nothing will help you more than this book on faith and understanding. Sokolowski, referring to the German philosopher, Robert Spaemann, also cited Socrates and Christ as if they both belonged to the same overall discourse. He intimates that the understanding of both Socrates, the philosopher, and Christ, the Word made flesh, is necessary for the wonder of our intellectual lives, for our knowing the fullness of what is. To be a theologian means to be able to describe the content of revelation as handed down in precise and accurate terms. John Paul II said in Fides et Ratio that one needs also to be something of a philosopher. And to be a philosopher means to be open to what is, including to the something called revelation as referring to realities we must confront if we are to neglect nothing in being. No one in academic life embodies these two aspects of what a thinker is better than Robert Sokolowski.

Having read some of Sokolowski's works, I agree.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Jews and the Eucharist: Cardinal Ratzinger and a Lenten Retreat

Israel concelebrated the Eucharist with Jesus, in that they shared in the sufferings of the Servant of God.
In the book Journey towards Easter, a collection of retreat talks then-Cardinal Ratzinger gave in the Vatican in the presence of Pope John Paul II during the Lenten season of 1983, there is a chapter well worth reading and especially so during this time of the liturgical year. "Chapter 4: The Paschal Mystery." It is divided into four sections:

1. Holy Thursday
2. The Washing of the Feet
3. The Connection between the Last Supper, the Cross and the Resurrection
4. Risen on the Third Day.

I just finished the third section. There are some powerful and provocative thoughts here. Discussing the relation and root of the Songs of the Servant of God to understanding Jesus' death, Ratzinger writes:

He made of his death an act of prayer, an act of adoration. ... [H]e cried "with a loud voice" the opening words of Psalm 21, the great Psalm of the just man suffering and set free: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"

... [T]his dying cry of Jesus was the messianic prayer of the great Psalm of Israel's suffering and hope, which concludes with the vision of the poor satisfied and all the ends of the earth returning to the Lord. ... [T]he whole story of the passion is shot through with the threads of this Psalm, weaving in and out continually in an interchange between words and reality. ... It thus becomes clear that Jesus is the true subject of this Psalm ....

... [W]hat took place at the Last Supper is an anticipation of the death, the transformation of the death into an act of love. ...

The death without the Supper would be empty, without meaning; the Supper without the actual realisation of the death it anticipated would be a gesture without reality. Supper and Cross together ... The Eucharist does not spring from the Supper alone; it springs from this oneness of Supper and Cross ....

Therefore the Eucharist is not simply Supper .... The Eucharist is the presence of Christ's Sacrifice, ... it is Christ distributing himself under the figure of bread and wine.

... "given for you", "poured out for many for the remission of sins". These words are found in the Songs of the Servant of God handed down to us in the book of the prophet Isaiah. These Songs presuppose the exilic period: Israel no longer has its Temple, the only legitimate place in which to adore God. So it seems exiled from God also--forlorn in the desert. No longer can sacrifices or expiation and praise be offered. The inevitable question arises: how can there now exist any relationship with God, on which depends the salvation of the people and of the world? In this passion, in this suffering of a life lived away from their homeland, a life far from their own culture, Israel underwent a new experience: the solemn praises of God could no longer be celebrated. The only possibility for drawing near to God was suffering for God. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Prophets understood that the suffering of believing Israel was the true sacrifice, the new liturgy, and that in this true liturgy Israel represented the world before the face of God. ... The hope found in their passion was that the suffering people were an anticipation of the true servant of God, and so, as 'sacramentum futuri' [a sacrament of things to come] , shared in his grace. By applying to the Last Supper these words about the Servant of God, Jesus says: I am this Servant of God. My passion and death are that definitive liturgy, that glorification of God which is the light and salvation of the world.

Here is where one experiences the preceding as a crescendo of sorts as Ratzinger builds up to then deliver the powerful and--to some or perhaps even to many--provocative lines about the people of Israel and their relation to the sacrifice of Christ in the Eucharist:

Here we touch upon an important point for the celebration of the Eucharist. Israel concelebrated the Eucharist with Jesus, in that they shared in the sufferings of the Servant of God. To participate in the Eucharist, to communicate with the body and blood of Christ, demands the liturgy of our life, a sharing in the passion of the Servant of God. In this participation our sufferings become 'sacrifice' and so we can complete "in [our] flesh what is lacking in Christ's affliction" (Col 1, 24).

--Journey towards Easter, pp. 103-107. Emphases added.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

"What Casey Sheehan Died For." A Must-See Video.

Buck Sargent at American Citizen Soldier posts some great thoughts and a must-see video (click here for video) on one reason for why we fight, on "What Casey Sheehan Died For."

Buck writes:

What did my son die for?” A question better left to Iraqis themselves to answer. Take the mayor of Tall’Afar, Najim Abdullah Abid al-Jibouri:

“To the families of those who have given their holy blood for our land, we all bow to you in reverence and to the souls of your loved ones. Their sacrifice was not in vain. They are not dead, but alive, and their souls hovering around us every second of every minute. They will never be forgotten for giving their precious lives. They have sacrificed that which is most valuable. We see them in the smile of every child, and in every flower growing in this land. Let America, their families, and the world be proud of their sacrifice for humanity and life.”

Casey Sheehan was killed defending freedom on Palm Sunday.

Cindy, says Mayor Najim,
let not your heart be hardened. Be not bitter, but proud. None that walk among us are immortal, and to bury a child is forever a tragedy. Yet your son lost his life in the most honorable manner possible. He died so that others may live.

I’d say that puts him in
pretty good company.

No doubt. Very good company, indeed.

Catholic-Baptist Rivalries Heat Up ... Again

"Church Sign Smackdown!" is hilarious.

(HT: Mary Katharine Ham at Hugh)

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Philosophical Kissing ... I think

This brings another meaning to: "O that you would kiss me with the kisses of your mouth!" (Song of Songs 1:2)

I recently came across the blog Per Caritatem, run by a philosophy-minded Texan. I know, quite a bit could be said about that. And good things too!

In one of her posts, "The Philosophy of Kissing," she links to a letter and the response wherein the writer considers not only what a platonic kiss is but also talks about the differences between the following:

Aristotelian kiss ...
Hegelian kiss: "Dialiptical technique in which the kiss incorporates its own antithikiss, forming a synthekiss."
Wittgensteinian kiss ...
Gödelian kiss ...

Then some more are considered:

· Socratic kiss. Really a Platonic kiss, but it's claimed to be the Socratic technique so it'll sound more authoritative; however, compared to most strictly Platonic kisses, Socratic kisses wander around a lot more and cover more ground.

· Kantian kiss. A kiss that, eschewing inferior "phenomenal" contact, is performed entirely on the superior "noumenal" plane; though you don't actually feel it at all, you are, nonetheless, free to declare it the best kiss you've ever given or received.

· Kafkaesque kiss. A kiss that starts out feeling like it's about to transform you but ends up just bugging you.

· Sartrean kiss. A kiss that you worry yourself to death about even though it really doesn't matter anyway.

· Russell-Whiteheadian kiss. A formal kiss in which each lip and tongue movement is rigorously and completely defined, even though it ends up seeming incomplete somehow.

· Pythagorean kiss. A kiss given by someone who has developed some new and wonderful techniques but refuses to use them on anyone for fear that others would find out about them and copy them.

· Cartesian kiss. A particularly well-planned and coordinated movement: "I think, therefore, I aim." In general, a kiss does not count as Cartesian unless it is applied with enough force to remove all doubt that one has been kissed. (cf. Polar kiss, a more well-rounded movement involving greater nose-to-nose contact, but colder overall.)

· Heisenbergian kiss. A hard-to-define kiss--the more it moves you, the less sure you are of where the kiss was; the more energy it has, the more trouble you have figuring out how long it lasted. Extreme versions of this type of kiss are known as "virtual kisses" because the level of uncertainty is so high that you're not quite sure if you were kissed or not. Virtual kisses have the advantage, however, that you need not have anyone else in the room with you to enjoy them.

· Nietzscheian kiss. "She/he who does not kiss you, makes your lust stronger."

· Zenoian kiss. Your lips approach, closer and closer, but never actually touch.

Augustine: You awaken me to delight in your mouth, and my lips are restless until they’re kissing you.

Luther: If the Word of God tells me to kiss, then I will kiss—and let the pope, the world and the devil be damned! [However, it should probably be added: unless I (Luther) consider that passage disagreeable to what I want God to say, in which case, I will call it an "epistle of straw," have the book thrown into the fire, and let kissing be damned!]

Adolf von Harnack: Jesus’ own simple teaching about kissing was immediately eclipsed by the early Christians’ Hellenistic approach to kissing.

Karl Barth: “I kiss you.” There are three related problems to consider here. I kiss you. I kiss you. I kiss you.

Hans Urs von Balthasar: Kissing is not only true and good, but it is beautiful.

Hans Küng: The Church’s approach to kissing is in urgent need of the most radical and most far-reaching reform.

Wolfhart Pannenberg: One’s first kiss is a proleptic anticipation of all that is still to come.

N. T. Wright: Every kiss is a dramatic enactment of our return from exile.

Billy Graham: Will you walk down the aisle and kiss me tonight? Will you do it tonight? You many never have another chance—you might be dead tomorrow!

Gerd Lüdemann: After many years of careful research, I have decided to kiss my faith goodbye.

Stanley Hauerwas: "In the community established upon the principle of nonviolence, the question 'whom should I kiss' never arises - since to refuse to kiss is itself an act of violence. We kiss not because Jesus recommended it, but because in Jesus we discover that God is a kisser. So you'd all better damn well pucker up."

If you know anything about Hauerwas, that one was great.
In reading the comments, I found a patristic take on the whole thing:

Ignatius of Antioch: I can’t wait to kiss those lions!

Justin Martyr: Greek kisses and Jewish kisses were preparations for The Kiss.

Irenaeus: Those ridiculous Gnostics have invented 30 crazy ways to kiss and not one of them is
the True Kiss.

Tertullian: There will be no kissing! But I can provide you with a whole new Latin vocabulary on the subject.

Athanasius: A kiss is both human and divine.

Anselm: Why a kiss is satisfying.

Aquinas: Substantially, a kiss is no accident. [Elsewhere F & T noted his own Thomistic take on the matter: "There are five ways to prove the existence of a kiss...."]

Huss: Allow us to kiss with both lips!

Time to give someone a kiss. Where is she?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Is the Pope a Murderer? Wills Says "Sure"

Gary Wills is known for many things. Some consider him an authority on things Catholic. Others, however--and many of them--do not. I am one of the "others" in this regard.

On Tuesday, March 14, he was interviewed on Boston's NPR station.

In the interview, he is critical of just about everything the Catholic Church and the Christian Tradition represent. Some of his complaints were mentioned today by Dennis. In the interview, Wills goes on to blame the pope for the many deaths resulting from AIDS around the world. Huh? Yep. You got that right. Pope Benedict XVI, according to the mindset of Gary Wills, is "responsible for murder."

At about 18:14 of the interview, he says the following (which was transcribed by Catholic author and blogger Amy Welborn and can be found here):

Wills: There is..a message of life and love in the New Testament. Little of that comes out of Rome now. People are dying of AIDS all around the world now especially in places like Africa and Indonesia now, …when the Pope refuses to allow people to have contraception, he’s killing them. He’s responsible for murder. This is hardly a gospel of life and love.

Interviewer: You say that Pope Benedict is responsible for murder?

Wills: Sure, sure. More people are more resentful and hateful toward the Catholic Church because of that than because of the sexual molestation problem…sexual molesters are terrible it’ know here in Boston, but for the most part, not always, but for the most part they didn’t kill people. This is killing people on a grand scale, and it’s a horrendous scandal, much greater than any sexual molestation scandal.

Aside from Amy's take on this, which I suggest you read by clicking the link above, it troubles me that so many still regard Wills as an accurate or worthy commentator on Church affairs ... and ... moreover, that my favorite political afternoon radio host Hugh even quoted him as an authority on Church issues in his (Hugh's) book, In, But Not Of. Hugh needs to come back from his sabbatical, if not at least rely on more respectable and truth-telling commentators, which Gary Wills is not.

Pope Benedict XVI a murderer? I think not. Wake up, Wills. Your dream world is not reality and wishing it were does not make it so, however much NPR and the New York Times Book Review lets you think so.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

George Clooney the Neo-Con?

Could it be true? Is George Clooney a Neo-Con?

Deep down under that liberal and Bush-bashing rhetoric, perhaps George Clooney is a true neo-conservative. Max Boot apparently thinks so:

DEAR George Clooney,

Congratulations on that best supporting actor Oscar you picked up last week. I couldn't be happier for you. Not only because I admire your Cary Grant-esque panache but because I admire your politics. As an advocate of a hawkish but high-minded foreign policy, I can't find much to cheer about in Hollywood, but you, my friend, consistently deliver. Dare I say it — you're the No. 1 neocon in Never Never Land.

Oh, I know you try to hide your real views behind a lot of progressive rhetoric. You've compared George W. Bush to Tony Soprano and warned that he's leading the country down the same road as Nazi Germany. I don't hold it against you; you gotta do what you gotta do in a liberal business. But your movies are what really count, and, no matter what you say, they've made the neocon case.

Even "Syriana," which has been criticized for its America-bashing by a lot of conservatives (myself included), has a neocon message. It's a protest against the influence of Big Oil on U.S. foreign policy. Neocons couldn't agree more. They argue that the policy supported by the oil companies — backing Middle Eastern despots — is leading us to ruin. It only helps create anti-American suicide bombers — as illustrated by "Syriana." The movie suggests that we should be helping liberal Arab reformers, like the fictional Prince Nasir, just as neocons have been urging.

Then there's "The Peacemaker," your terrific 1997 thriller that sought to shake the nation out of its post-Cold War complacency by showing how easily terrorists could smuggle a nuclear bomb into the U.S. Neocons in the 1990s were arguing for a more ruthless anti-terrorist policy. Your character, Lt. Col. Thomas Devoe, didn't let legal niceties stop him from saving New York.

All that is by way of prelude to your 1998 neocon masterpiece, "Three Kings." It showed that the 1991 Gulf War didn't achieve its goals when it left Saddam Hussein in power. Amid frenzied postwar celebrations, your character, Maj. Archie Gates, observes gloomily, "I don't even know what we did here." Neocons like Paul Wolfowitz were saying the same thing; they wanted to oust Hussein from power, not just from Kuwait.

You lead a group of three other soldiers to steal gold taken from Kuwait, but it soon becomes apparent that, despite your crusty exterior, you can't ignore the suffering of Iraqi Shiites who have risen up against Hussein at American instigation, only to be slaughtered. In the movie's pivotal scene, you watch as an Iraqi goon shoots a Shiite woman in the head. The Iraqi officer in charge is willing to let you leave with the loot. "You go now please," he pleads. "I don't think so," you growl. And then you beat up the Baathists on behalf of the Shiites.

The rest of the movie follows your attempts to get a group of 55 Shiites safely across the border to a refugee camp in Iran. Saving them isn't cheap — you lose most of your bullion, one of your soldiers is killed and another is badly wounded — but it's the right thing to do.

The message is clear: The U.S. should pursue its ideals in foreign policy, not simply try to protect its strategic or economic interests. Believe it or not, that is the essence of modern neoconservatism. And that is precisely the policy that President Bush has been following in Iraq, notwithstanding the sniping he's received from you and your friends.

Perhaps the problem is that you support the ends — getting rid of Hussein — but are leery of the military means. But what other alternative is there? As "Three Kings" showed, asking the Iraqi people to rise up against their oppressor wouldn't have worked. The U.S. had to step in, if only to make up for its betrayal of the Iraqis in 1991.

Anybody who wonders what U.S. troops are doing in Iraq today should rent "Three Kings." It makes an ironclad moral case for the invasion.

Good work, George. I'm looking forward to your next project: "Leo! The Leo Strauss Story."

I guess his real acting is when he's in public.
Now, what about this Leo Strauss guy? Where does he fit into all this?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Does Chuck Norris Exist? Hmmm.

In what is probably one of the best posts I have read in a while, Tu Quoque--in typical Thomistic fashion--ponders over "The Existence of Church Norris."

As one comment had it, maybe this should be called "The Five Kicks." Here is most of it, though click the link to read the whole thing.

The Existence of Chuck Norris

Objection 1. It seems that Chuck Norris does not exist; because if one of two contraries be infinite, the other would be altogether destroyed. But the word "Chuck Norris roundhouse kick" means that it is infinite painfulness. If, therefore, Chuck Norris existed, there would be no evil discoverable; but there is evil in the world. Therefore Chuck Norris does not exist.

On the contrary, It is said of Chuck Norris: "He hath counted to infinity - twice." (

I answer that, the existence of Chuck Norris can be proved in five ways . . .

The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world roundhouse kicks are in motion. Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another, for nothing can be in motion except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is in motion; whereas a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of Chuck Norris’ enemy from actuality to potentiality. But nothing can be reduced from actuality to potentiality, except by something in a state of actuality. Therefore, roundhouse kicks must be put in motion by another. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first kicker, and, consequently, no kicked. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first kicker, kicked by no other; and this everyone understands to be Chuck Norris.

The second way is from the nature of the roundhouse kick. In the world of bar fights we find there is an order of roundhouse kicks. .... Therefore it is necessary to admit a first roundhouse kicker, to which everyone gives the name of Chuck Norris.

The third way is taken from possibility and necessity, and runs thus. We find in nature things that are possible to be roundhouse kicked and not to be, since they are found to be angering Chuck Norris and not angering Chuck Norris, and consequently, they are possible to be and not to be. .... Therefore we cannot but postulate the existence of some being having of itself its own roundhouse kickedness, and not receiving it from another, but rather causing in others their necessity (and pain). This all men speak of as Chuck Norris.

The fourth way is taken from the gradation to be found in roundhouse kicks. Among roundhouse kicks there are some more and some less good, true, noble and painful. ....

The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world. We see that things which lack intelligence, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result. Now whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with the ability to kick its butt. Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom these things are directed to their end; and this being we call Chuck Norris.

Reply to Objection 1. As Chuck Norris says: "I don't step on toes, I step on necks!” Since Chuck Norris is the hardest kicker, he would not allow any evil to exist unless his roundhouse kicks were such as to bring good even out of evil. This is part of the infinite badassness of Chuck Norris: that he should allow evil to exist, and out of it produce good – the good of having something to roundhouse kick. [Emphasis added.]

Pope Benedict on the Qur'an, Pius XII, Women, Africa, Vatican II, and More

This is a "spontaneous dialogue between the pope and the priests of his diocese of Rome. On the Bible and the Qur’an, on Pius XII, on women in the Church, on Africa, on ecumenism, on the interpretation of the Council…"
With regard to the Bible and the Qur'an:


No one believes purely on his own. We always believe in and with the Church. […] We must, in a manner of speaking, let ourselves fall into the communion of the faith, of the Church. Believing is, in itself, a Catholic act: it is a participation on this great certitude that is present in the living subject of the Church. This is also the only way for us to understand Sacred Scripture in the diversity of an interpretation that developed over thousands and thousands of years. It is a Scripture that is the expression of a subject, the People of God, that in its pilgrimage […] does not speak for itself, but as a subject created by God – the classical expression is “inspired” – receives, translates, and communicates this word. This synergy is very important. We know that the Qur’an, according to the Islamic faith, is a word literally given by God, without human mediation. The Prophet had no hand in it; he simply wrote it down and communicated it. It is the pure word of God. But for us, God enters into communication with us, he lets us cooperate with him; he creates this subject, and it is within this subject that his word grows and is developed. […] He who lives by the Word of God can live by it only because it is alive and vital within the living Church.

Winning in Iraq. How about at home? VDH.

Victor Davis Hanson is back from Iraq and here is one of his best: "At War With Ourselves: We're winning in Iraq. Let's not lose at home."

If many are determined to see the Iraqi war as lost without a plan, it hardly seems so to 130,000 U.S. soldiers still over there. They explain to visitors that they have always had a design: defeat the Islamic terrorists; train a competent Iraqi military; and provide requisite time for a democratic Iraqi government to garner public support away from the Islamists.

We point fingers at each other; soldiers under fire point to their achievements: Largely because they fight jihadists over there, there has not been another 9/11 here. Because Saddam is gone, reform is not just confined to Iraq, but taking hold in Lebanon, Egypt and the Gulf. We hear the military is nearly ruined after conducting two wars and staying on to birth two democracies; its soldiers feel that they are more experienced and lethal, and on the verge of pulling off the nearly impossible: offering a people terrorized from nightmarish oppression something other than the false choice of dictatorship or theocracy — and making the U.S. safer for the effort. [Emphases added.]

The secretary of defense, like officers in Iraq, did not welcome the war, but felt that it needed to be fought and will be won. Soldiers and civilian planners express confidence in eventual success, but with awareness of often having only difficult and more difficult choices after Sept. 11. Put too many troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we earn the wages of imperialism, or create a costly footprint that is hard to erase, or engender a dependency among the very ones in whom we wish to ensure self-reliance. Yet deploy too few troops, and instability arises in Kabul and Baghdad, as the Islamists lose their fear of American power and turn on the vulnerable we seek to protect.

In sum, after talking to our soldiers in Iraq and our planners in Washington, what seems to me most inexplicable is the war over the war — not the purported absence of a plan, but that the more we are winning in the field, the more we are losing it at home.