Saturday, December 27, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
Listen to him as he says, With someone who has a proud eye and a greedy heart I shall not eat. [...] As you celebrate my coming, you honor me with your lips, but your heart is far from me. You do not worship me, but your god is your belly and your glory is in your shame. Unhappy is the person who worships pleasure of the body and the emptiness of worldly glory; but happy the people whose God is the Lord.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Sunday, November 30, 2008
"It is Advent. ... The first thing we have to accept is, ever and again, this reality of an enduring Advent. If we do that, we shall begin to realize that the borderline between 'before Christ' and 'after Christ' does not run through historical time, ... it runs through our own hearts. Insofar as we are living on a basis of selfishness, or egoism, then even today we are 'before Christ'. But in this time of Advent, let us ask the Lord to grant that we may live less and less 'before Christ', and certainly not 'after Christ', but truly with Christ and in Christ: with him who is indeed Christ yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13.8). Amen."
-Joseph Ratzinger, First Sermon, What It Means to Be a Christian (40)
Sunday, November 23, 2008
But the most direct and significant kind of Federal action aiding economic growth is to make possible an increase in private consumption and investment demand--to cut the fetters which hold back private spending. In the past, this could be done in part by the increased use of credit and monetary tools, but our balance of payments situation today places limits on our use of those tools for expansion. It could also be done by increasing Federal expenditures more rapidly than necessary, but such a course would soon demoralize both the Government and our economy. If Government is to retain the confidence of the people, it must not spend more than can be justified on grounds of national need or spent with maximum efficiency. [...]
The final and best means of strengthening demand among consumers and business is to reduce the burden on private income and the deterrents to private initiative which are imposed by our present tax system; and this administration pledged itself last summer to an across-the-board, top-to-bottom cut in personal and corporate income taxes to be enacted and become effective in 1963.
I am not talking about a "quickie" or a temporary tax cut, which would be more appropriate if a recession were imminent. Nor am I talking about giving the economy a mere shot in the arm, to ease some temporary complaint. I am talking about the accumulated evidence of the last 5 years that our present tax system, developed as it was, in good part, during World War II to restrain growth, exerts too heavy a drag on growth in peace time; that it siphons out of the private economy too large a share of personal and business purchasing power; that it reduces the financial incentives for personal effort, investment, and risk-taking.
In short, to increase demand and lift the economy, the Federal Government's most useful role is not to rush into a program of excessive increases in public expenditures, but to expand the incentives and opportunities for private expenditures.
[A]ny new tax legislation enacted next year should meet the following three tests:
First, it should reduce net taxes by a sufficiently early date and a sufficiently large amount to do the job required. [...]
Second, the new tax bill must increase private consumption as well as investment. [...] But that after-tax income could and should be greater, providing stronger markets for the products of American industry. When consumers purchase more goods, plants use more of their capacity, men are hired instead of laid off, investment increases and profits are high.
Corporate tax rates must also be cut to increase incentives and the availability of investment capital. [...]
Our true choice is not between tax reduction, on the one hand, and the avoidance of large Federal deficits on the other. It is increasingly clear that no matter what party is in power, so long as our national security needs keep rising, an economy hampered by restrictive tax rates will never produce enough revenue to balance our budget just as it will never produce enough jobs or enough profits. [...]
In short, it is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now. The experience of a number of European countries and Japan have borne this out. This country's own experience with tax reduction in 1954 has borne this out. And the reason is that only full employment can balance the budget, and tax reduction can pave the way to that employment. The purpose of cutting taxes now is not to incur a budget deficit, but to achieve the more prosperous, expanding economy which can bring a budget surplus.
I repeat: our practical choice is not between a tax-cut deficit and a budgetary surplus. It is between two kinds of deficits: a chronic deficit of inertia, as the unwanted result of inadequate revenues and a restricted economy; or a temporary deficit of transition, resulting from a tax cut designed to boost the economy, increase tax revenues, and achieve--and I believe this can be done--a budget surplus. The first type of deficit is a sign of waste and weakness; the second reflects an investment in the future.
This Nation can afford to reduce taxes, we can afford a temporary deficit, but we cannot afford to do nothing. For on the strength of our free economy rests the hope of all free nations. We shall not fail that hope, for free men and free nations must prosper and they must prevail.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Sunday, November 09, 2008
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths. (2 Tim. 4.3-4)
Sunday, November 02, 2008
"When Does Human Life Begin? A Scientific Perspective"
"Obama's Abortion Extremism" by Robert George
"Obama and Infanticide" by Robert George
The Voters Guides for Serious Christians by Catholic Answers
If you want to know why the financial crisis happened ... and will continue if certain actions go mostly unknown and thus with impunity, then read this: "Why the Loan Crisis Happened."
Short answer: government attempts (CRA) in the 90's to "spread the wealth" without sufficient consideration of the way markets work, government penalties against banks that would not risk the dangers of loaning to people that normally could not qualify for loans, donations from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to "key" senators, a lack of proper oversight as certain former Clinton administration officials and supporters "earned" millions of dollars through Fannie and Freddie, and Democrat resistance to Republican attempts to fix these problems (in the 90's but more thoroughly from 2003-2007, one of whom was Sen. John McCain in 2005).
And lastly, consider these questions and thoughts:
The picture on this page is an untouched photograph of a being that has been within its mother for 20 weeks. Please do me the favor of looking at it carefully.
Have you any doubt that it is a human being?
If you do not have any such doubt, have you any doubt that it is an innocent human being?
If you have no doubt about this either, have you any doubt that the authorities in a civilized society are duty—bound to protect this innocent human being if anyone were to wish to kill it?
If your answer to this last query is negative, that is, if you have no doubt that the authorities in a civilized society would be duty—bound to protect this innocent human being if someone were to wish to kill it, I would suggest—even insist—that there is not a lot more to be said about the issue of abortion in our society. It is wrong, and it cannot—must not—be tolerated.
But you might protest that all of this is too easy. Why, you might inquire, have I not delved into the opinion of philosophers and theologians about the matter? And even worse: Why have I not raised the usual questions about what a "human being" is, what a "person" is, what it means to be "living," and such? People who write books and articles about abortion always concern themselves with these kinds of things. Even the justices of the Supreme Court who gave us "Roe v. Wade" address them. Why do I neglect philosophers and theologians? Why do I not get into defining "human being," "person," "living," and the rest? Because, I respond, I am sound of mind and endowed with a fine set of eyes, into which I do not believe it is well to cast sand. I looked at the photograph, and I have no doubt about what I saw and what are the duties of a civilized society if what I saw is in danger of being killed by someone who wishes to kill it or, if you prefer, someone who "chooses" to kill it. In brief: I looked, and I know what I saw.
But what about the being that has been in its mother for only 15 weeks or only 10? Have you photographs of that too? Yes, I do. However, I hardly think it necessary to show them. For if we agree that the being in the photograph printed on this page is an innocent human being, you have no choice but to admit that it may not be legitimately killed even before 20 weeks unless you can indicate with scientific proof the point in the development of the being before which it was other than an innocent human being and, therefore, available to be legitimately killed. Nor have Aristotle, Aquinas or even the most brilliant embryologists of our era or any other era been able to do so. If there is a time when something less than a human being in a mother morphs into a human being, it is not a time that anyone has ever been able to identify, though many have made guesses. However, guesses are of no help. A man with a shotgun who decides to shoot a being that he believes may be a human being is properly hauled before a judge. And hopefully, the judge in question knows what a "human being" is and what the implications of someone's wishing to kill it are. The word "incarceration" comes to mind.
However, we must not stop here. The matter becomes even clearer and simpler if you obtain from the National Geographic Society two extraordinary DVDs. One is entitled "In the Womb" and illustrates in color and in motion the development of one innocent human being within its mother. The other is entitled "In the Womb—Multiples" and illustrates in color and in motion the development of two innocent human beings—twin boys—within their mother. If you have ever allowed yourself to wonder, for example, what "living" means, these two DVDs will be a great help. The one innocent human being squirms about, waves its arms, sucks its thumb, smiles broadly and even yawns; and the two innocent human beings do all of that and more:
They fight each other. One gives his brother a kick, and the other responds with a sock to the jaw. If you can convince yourself that these beings are something other than innocent and living human beings (perhaps "mere clusters of tissues," as one national newsmagazine suggests), you have a problem far more basic than merely not appreciating the wrongness of abortion. And that problem is—forgive me—self—deceit in a most extreme form.
Adolf Hitler convinced himself and his subjects that Jews and homosexuals were other than human beings. Joseph Stalin did the same as regards Cossacks and Russian aristocrats. And this despite the fact that Hitler and his subjects had seen both Jews and homosexuals with their own eyes, and Stalin and his subjects had seen both Cossacks and Russian aristocrats with theirs. Happily, there are few today who would hesitate to condemn in the roundest terms the self—deceit of Hitler, Stalin or even their subjects to the extent that their subjects could have done something to end the madness and protect living, innocent human beings.
It is high time to stop pretending that we do not know what this nation of ours is allowing—and approving—with the killing each year of more than 1,600,000 innocent human beings within their mothers. We know full well that to kill what is clearly seen to be an innocent human being or what cannot be proved to be other than an innocent human being is as wrong as wrong gets. Nor can we honorably cover our shame (1) by appealing to the thoughts of Aristotle or Aquinas on the subject, inasmuch as we are all well aware that their understanding of matters embryological was hopelessly mistaken, (2) by suggesting that "killing" and "choosing to kill" are somehow distinct ethically, morally or criminally, (3) by feigning ignorance of the meaning of "human being," "person," "living," and such, (4) by maintaining that among the acts covered by the right to privacy is the act of killing an innocent human being, and (5) by claiming that the being within the mother is "part" of the mother, so as to sustain the oft—repeated slogan that a mother may kill or authorize the killing of the being within her "because she is free to do as she wishes with her own body."
One day, please God, when the stranglehold on public opinion in the United States has been released by the extremists for whom abortion is the center of their political and moral life, our nation will, in my judgment, look back on what we have been doing to innocent human beings within their mothers as a crime no less heinous than what was approved by the Supreme Court in the "Dred Scott Decision" in the 19th century, and no less heinous than what was perpetrated by Hitler and Stalin in the 20th. There is nothing at all complicated about the utter wrongness of abortion, and making it all seem complicated mitigates that wrongness not at all. On the contrary, it intensifies it.
Do me a favor. Look at the photograph again. Look and decide with honesty and decency what the Lord expects of you and me as the horror of "legalized" abortion continues to erode the honor of our nation. Look, and do not absolve yourself if you refuse to act.
Edward Cardinal Egan Archbishop of New York
I disagree with Sen. John McCain on some key issues but it is clear to me that Sen. Obama is a worse choice for this country. So though I know I will not like some policies a President McCain will seek to enact and since I also know I will not like most policies and vision a President Obama will pursue, Sen. John McCain will get my vote.
Vote McCain-Palin 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
From a sermon by St. Bernard, abbot
I love because I love, I love that I may love
Love is sufficient of itself, it gives pleasure by itself and because of itself. It is its own merit, its own reward. Love looks for no cause outside itself, no effect beyond itself. Its profit lies in its practice. I love because I love, I love that I may love. Love is a great thing so long as it continually returns to its fountainhead, flows back to its source, always drawing from there the water which constantly replenishes it. Of all the movements, sensations and feelings of the soul, love is the only one in which the creature can respond to the Creator and make some sort of similar return however unequal though it be. For when God loves, all he desires is to be loved in return; the sole purpose of his love is to be loved, in the knowledge that those who love him are made happy by their love of him.
The Bridegroom’s love, or rather the love which is the Bridegroom, asks in return nothing but faithful love. Let the beloved, then, love in return. Should not a bride love, and above all, Love’s bride? Could it be that Love not be loved?Rightly then does she give up all other feelings and give herself wholly to love alone; in giving love back, all she can do is to respond to love. And when she has poured out her whole being in love, what is that in comparison with the unceasing torrent of that original source? Clearly, lover and Love, soul and Word, bride and Bridegroom, creature and Creator do not flow with the same volume; one might as well equate a thirsty man with the fountain.
What then of the bride’s hope, her aching desire, her passionate love, her confident assurance? Is all this to wilt just because she cannot match stride for stride with her giant, any more than she can vie with honey for sweetness, rival the lamb for gentleness, show herself as white as the lily, burn as bright as the sun, be equal in love with him who is Love? No. It is true that the creature loves less because she is less. But if she loves with her whole being, nothing is lacking where everything is given. To love so ardently then is to share the marriage bond; she cannot love so much and not be totally loved, and it is in the perfect union of two hearts that complete and total marriage consists. Or are we to doubt that the soul is loved by the Word first and with a greater love?
Pope Benedict XVI: "On Saint Bernard of Clairvaux"
For him, love is the greatest force of the spiritual life. God, who is love, creates man out of love and out of love rescues him. The salvation of all human beings, mortally wounded by original sin and burdened with personal sins, consists in adhering firmly to divine charity, which was fully revealed to us in Christ crucified and risen.
In his love, God heals our will and sick intelligence, raising them to the highest level of union with him, namely, to holiness and mystical union.
It is necessary to pay attention to the dangers of excessive activity, regardless of one's condition and occupation, observes the saint, because -- as he said to the Pope of that time, and to all Popes and to all of us -- numerous occupations often lead to "hardness of heart," "they are no more than suffering for the spirit, loss of intelligence and dispersion of grace" (II, 3).
This admonition is valid for all kinds of occupations, including those inherent to the governance of the Church. The message that, in this connection, Bernard addresses to the Pontiff, who had been his disciple at Clairvaux, is provocative: "See where these accursed occupations can lead you, if you continue to lose yourself in them -- without leaving anything of yourself for yourself" (ibid).
How useful for us also is this call to the primacy of prayer! May St. Bernard, who was able to harmonize the monk's aspiration for solitude and the tranquility of the cloister with the urgency of important and complex missions in the service of the Church, help us to concretize it in our lives, in our circumstances and possibilities.
He [St. Bernard] wrote these famous words: "Whoever you are that perceive yourself during this mortal existence to be rather drifting in treacherous waters, at the mercy of the winds and the waves, than walking on firm ground, turn not away your eyes from the splendor of this guiding star, unless thou wish to be submerged by the storm. ... Look at the star, call upon Mary. ... With her for guide, you shall not go astray, while invoking her, you shall never lose heart ... if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows you favor, you shall reach the goal," ("Homilia super Missus est," II, 17).
Friday, August 08, 2008
THE NINE WAYS OF PRAYER OF ST. DOMINIC is worth reading.
From the Office:
He spoke with God or about God
Dominic possessed such great integrity and was so strongly motivated by divine love, that without a doubt he proved to be a bearer of honour and grace. He was a man of great equanimity, except when moved to compassion and mercy. And since a joyful heart animates the face, he displayed the peaceful composure of a spiritual man in the kindness he manifested outwardly and by the cheerfulness of his countenance.
Wherever he went he showed himself in word and deed to be a man of the Gospel. During the day no one was more community-minded or pleasant toward his brothers and associates. During the night hours no one was more persistent in every kind of vigil and supplication. He seldom spoke unless it was with God, that is, in prayer, or about God, and in this matter he instructed his brothers. Frequently he made a special personal petition that God would deign to grant him a genuine charity, effective in caring for and obtaining the salvation of men. For he believed that only then would he be truly a member of Christ, when he had given himself totally for the salvation of men, just as the Lord Jesus, the Saviour of all, had offered himself completely for our salvation. So, for this work, after a lengthy period of careful and provident planning, he founded the Order of Friars Preachers.
In his conversations and letters he often urged the brothers of the Order to study constantly the Old and New Testaments. He always carried with him the gospel according to Matthew and the epistles of Paul, and so well did he study them that he almost knew them from memory.
Two or three times he was chosen bishop, but he always refused, preferring to live with his brothers in poverty. Throughout his life, he preserved the honour of his virginity. He desired to be scourged and cut to pieces, and so die for the faith of Christ. Of him Pope Gregory IX declared: “I knew him as a steadfast follower of the apostolic way of life. There is no doubt that he is in heaven, sharing in the glory of the apostles themselves”.
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
When our family moved to San Jose in California in 1945, the piano was boxed and shipped with the other household goods. In a way, the piano still gives me nightmares. When the truck arrived, it backed into the narrow driveway of the McKendrie Street house. My father, brothers, some neighbors, and the truck driver came to the point of unloading the heavy piano. They used a sort of steel track on which to slide the boxed piano down to the ground from the truck. I was stationed next to the house with some bushes alongside.
As the piano came down, it began to tip off the railings in my direction. I could not hold it up. Fortunately, it fell against the bushes and house, thereby saving Schall at an early age from being smashed by his sister’s piano. It taught me a first principle: “You can never be too careful unloading pianos.” If I close my eyes, I can still see the piano tipping over my way. Every human life, I suppose, includes a near miss or two. We call it luck or providence, not that luck does not fall under providence in a sound philosophy.
There is probably on this earth no experience quite like singing a Hayden or Bach Oratorio in a large choir before a silent, riveted audience. Music is not an occupation but a celebration of something beyond itself. Let us hope, in any case, that the heavenly choirs are closer to Mozart than much of the raucous music we hear. Still, I think of my sister’s piano. It means that any home can have its own music played by someone within it. German and Czech families will often have string quartets midst its members, at least in the days that the Germans and Czechs had children. Eric Voegelin, himself a lover of music, once remarked that no one needs to participate in the aberrations of his time. This is true of music too, something I learned listening to my sister play her Baldwin Grand Piano.
Friday, August 01, 2008
"The Sacred and the Human":
The rational person is not the one who scoffs at all religions, but the one who tries to discover which of them, if any, can make sense of those things, and, while doing so, draw the poison of resentment.
And only a rational being can laugh. Hyenas make a noise like laughter, but it is not a sign of amusement, nor does it have the social function that laughter has -- which is to make light of our differences and to rejoice in what we share. Laughter is not only a joy and a balm, it is the principal way we have of accepting the failings of our fellows.
For the feminist the failings of men are no laughing matter. Not surprisingly, therefore, the literature of feminism is devoid of humor -- and advisedly so, for if it ever were to employ this resource it would die laughing at itself.
Jewish humor is one of the greatest survival mechanisms ever invented -- which has aided not only its own survival but the survival of Jewish identity, through an unparalleled history of attempts to rub it out.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Iranian president: 'Big powers' going down
Iran's president on Tuesday blamed the U.S. and other "big powers" for global ills such as nuclear proliferation and AIDS, and accused them of exploiting the U.N. for their own gain and the developing world's loss.
"The big powers are going down," Ahmadinejad told foreign ministers of the Nonaligned Movement meeting in Tehran. "They have come to the end of their power, and the world is on the verge of entering a new, promising era."
Faced with the spectacle of the cruelties perpetrated in the name of faith, Voltaire famously cried ‘Ecrasez l’infâme!’
Scores of enlightened thinkers followed him, declaring organised religion to be the enemy of mankind, the force that divides the believer from the infidel and which thereby both excites and authorises murder. Richard Dawkins is the most influential living example of this tradition, and his message, echoed by Dan Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens, sounds as loud and strident in the media today as the message of Luther in the reformed churches of Germany. The violence of the diatribes uttered by these evangelical atheists is indeed remarkable. After all, the Enlightenment happened three centuries ago; the arguments of Hume, Kant and Voltaire have been absorbed by every educated person. What more is to be said? And if you must say it, why say it so stridently? Surely, those who oppose religion in the name of gentleness have a duty to be gentle, even with -- especially with -- their foes?
The evangelical atheists are subliminally aware that their abdication in the face of science does not make the universe more intelligible, nor does it provide an alternative answer to our metaphysical enquiries. It simply brings enquiry to a stop. And the religious person will feel that this stop is premature: that reason has more questions to ask, and perhaps more answers to obtain, than the atheists will allow us. So who, in this subliminal contest, is the truly reasonable one? The atheists beg the question in their own favour, by assuming that science has all the answers. But science can have all the answers only if it has all the questions; and that assumption is false. There are questions addressed to reason which are not addressed to science, since they are not asking for a causal explanation.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Friday, July 04, 2008
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
Chesterton said someplace that the United States is almost the only country ever to have been founded on an idea.  That is to say, it was founded by men who knew well the English and Western Christian tradition, themselves thinking with principles formulated in that tradition. These men who signed the Declaration also knew their Cicero and Aristotle, their Bible. They were presenting before mankind an argument that explained the validity of their political action. They did not intend to act unwisely or unreasonably. They knew it was a delicate situation that merited rational statement. They did not know whether they would succeed or not. No small part of their eventual success was in fact the persuasive force of their principles. But we know that rightness of cause does not, in world history, always assure political success. They had to risk, as they said at the end of the Declaration, their lives, their fortunes, and their "sacred honor." Not all men are so willing. Men who have no conception of what this "risk" means have no grounds for freedom or to the truth on which it is based. Nor should they really live in regimes based on "sacred honor."
The American Constitution does resemble the Spanish Inquisition in this: that it is founded on a creed. America is the only nation in the world that is founded on creed. That creed is set forth with dogmatic and even theological lucidity in the Declaration of Independence; perhaps the only piece of practical politics that is also theoretical politics and also great literature. It enunciates that all men are equal in their claim to justice, that governments exist to give them that justice, and that their authority is for that reason just. It certainly does condemn anarchism. and it does also by inference condemn atheism, since it clearly names the Creator as the ultimate authority from whom these equal rights are derived. Nobody expects a modern political system to proceed logically in the application of such dogmas, and in the matter of God and Government it is naturally God whose claim is taken more lightly. The point is that there is a creed, if not about divine, at least about human things.
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
Very beautiful! And tranquil. And solemn. And ...
You can watch a little intro to the monastery and the CD here: "The Cistercian Monks Of Stift Heiligenkreuz - EPK."
Or watch this:
Monday, June 30, 2008
He lived in a kind of rapture and perpetual ecstasy. He prayed without ceasing, wept, fasted, yearned. Each of his syllogisms is as a concretion of his prayer and his tears; the kind of grace of lucid calm which his words bring to us springs doubtless from the fact that the least of his texts retains invisibly the impregnation of his longing and of the pure strength of the most vehement love. While he was living, did not the mere bodily sight of him procure, according to his contemporaries, a grace of spiritual consolation? The masterpiece of strict and rigorous intellectuality, of intrepid logic, is thus brimming over from a heart possessed by charity.
On his return to Naples after the death of Thomas, Reginald was to exclaim: "As long as he was living my Master prevented me from revealing the marvels that I witnessed. He owed his knowledge less to the effort of his mind than to the power of his prayer. Every time he wanted to study, discuss, teach, write or dictate, he first had recourse to the privacy of prayer, weeping before God in order to discover in the truth the divine secrets, and, though he had been in uncertainty before praying, as a result of his prayer he came back instructed." When doubtful points would arise, Bartolommeo di Capua likewise reports, he would go to the altar and would stay there weeping many tears and uttering great sobs, then return to his room and continue his writings.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
I must love Him more than I love myself because, besides myself, He gives me also Himself, a gift of infinitely greater worth. [....] If, then, I owe myself entire to my Creator, what shall I give my Re-Creator more? The means of our re-making, too, think what they cost! It was far easier to make than to redeem; for God had but to speak the word and all things were created, me included; but He Who made me by a word, and made me once for all, spent on the task of my re-making many words and many marvellous deeds, and suffered grievous and humiliating wrongs.
By His first work He gave me to myself; and by the next He gave Himself to me. And when He gave Himself, He gave me back myself that I had lost. Myself for myself, given and restored, I double owe to Him. What, though, shall I return Him for Himself? A thousand of myself would be as nothing in respect of Him?
Friday, June 27, 2008
Two doctors, a psychiatrist and a proctologist, opened an office in a small town and put up a sign reading:
"Dr. Smith and Dr. Jones: Hysterias and Posteriors"
The town council was not happy with the sign, so the doctors changed it to read,
"Schizoids and Hemorrhoids"
This was not acceptable either, so in an effort to satisfy the council, they changed the sign to
"Catatonics and High Colonics"
No go. Next, they tried
"Manic Depressives and Anal Retentives"
Thumbs down, again. Then came
"Minds and Behinds"
Still no good. Another attempt resulted in
"Lost Souls and Butt Holes"
Unacceptable again! So they tried
"Analysis and Anal Cysts"
Not a chance. "Too graphic," said the council. So they tried
"Nuts and Butts"
"Freaks and Cheeks"
Shot down, again.
"Loons and Moons"
Forget it. Almost at their wit's end, the doctors finally came up with:
"Dr. Smith and Dr. Jones:
Odds and Ends."
Everyone loved it.
"To be clear: Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies." -- Obama spokesman Bill Burton, Oct. 24, 2007
That was then: Democratic primaries to be won, netroot lefties to be seduced. With all that (and Hillary Clinton) out of the way, Obama now says he'll vote in favor of the new FISA bill that gives the telecom companies blanket immunity for post-Sept. 11 eavesdropping.
Back then, in the yesteryear of primary season, he thoroughly trashed the North American Free Trade Agreement, pledging to force a renegotiation, take "the hammer" to Canada and Mexico and threaten unilateral abrogation.
Today the hammer is holstered. Obama calls his previous NAFTA rhetoric "overheated" and essentially endorses what one of his senior economic advisers privately told the Canadians: The anti-trade stuff was nothing more than populist posturing.
The truth about Obama is uncomplicated. He is just a politician (though of unusual skill and ambition). The man who dared say it plainly is the man who knows Obama all too well. "He does what politicians do," explained Jeremiah Wright.
When it's time to throw campaign finance reform, telecom accountability, NAFTA renegotiation or Jeremiah Wright overboard, Obama is not sentimental. He does not hesitate. He tosses lustily.
Why, the man even tossed his own grandmother overboard back in Philadelphia -- only to haul her back on deck now that her services are needed. Yesterday, granny was the moral equivalent of the raving Reverend Wright. Today, she is a featured prop in Obama's fuzzy-wuzzy get-to-know-me national TV ad.
Not a flinch. Not a flicker. Not a hint of shame. By the time he's finished, Obama will have made the Clintons look scrupulous.
As smart and credentialed as he is, Sen. Obama is often an indifferent speaker without a teleprompter. He has large gaps in his knowledge base, and is just as likely to dig in and embrace a policy misstatement as abandon it. ABC reporter Jake Tapper calls him "a one-man gaffe machine."
Take the Auschwitz flub, where Mr. Obama erroneously claimed last weekend in New Mexico that his uncle helped liberate the Nazi concentration camp. Reporters noted Mr. Obama's revised claim, that it was his great uncle who helped liberate Buchenwald. They largely downplayed the error. Yet in another, earlier gaffe back in 2002, Mr. Obama claimed his grandfather knew U.S. troops who liberated Auschwitz and Treblinka – even though only Russian troops entered those concentration camps.
That hardly disqualifies Mr. Obama from being president. But you can bet that if Hillary Clinton had done the same thing it would have been the focus of much more attention, especially after her Bosnia sniper-fire fib. That's because gaffes are often blown up or downplayed based on whether or not they further a story line the media has attached to a politician.
When John McCain claimed, while on a trip to Iraq in March, that Sunni (as opposed to Shiite) militants in Iraq are being supported by Iran, coverage of the alleged blunder tracked Democratic attacks on his age and stamina. (In fact, Iran may well be supplying both Sunni and Shiite militants.) Dan Quayle, tagged with a reputation as a dumb blond male, never lived down his misspelling of "potatoe."
Mr. Obama, a former editor of the Harvard Law Review, has largely been given a pass for his gaffes. Many are trivial, such as his suggestion this month that America has 57 states, and his bizarre statement in a Memorial Day speech in New Mexico that America's "fallen heroes" were present and listening to him in the audience.
Some gaffes involve mangling his family history. Last year in Selma, Ala., for example, he said that his birth was inspired by events there which took place four years after he was born. While this gaffe can be chalked up to fatigue or cloudy memory, others are more substantive – such as his denial last April that it was his handwriting on a questionnaire in which, as a state senate candidate, he favored a ban on handguns. His campaign now contends that, even if it was his handwriting, this doesn't prove he read the full questionnaire.
Mr. Obama told a Portland, Ore., crowd this month that Iran doesn't "pose a serious threat to us," saying that "tiny countries" with small defense budgets aren't much to worry about. But Iran has almost one-fourth the population of the U.S. and is well on its way to developing nuclear weapons. The next day Mr. Obama had to reverse himself and declare he had "made it clear for years that the threat from Iran is grave."
Last week in Orlando, Fla., he said he would meet with Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez to discuss, among other issues, Chávez's support of the Marxist FARC guerrillas in Colombia. The next day, in Miami, he insisted any country supporting the FARC should suffer "regional isolation." Obama advisers were left explaining how this circle could be squared.
In a debate last July, Mr. Obama pledged to meet, without precondition, the leaders of Iran, North Korea, Syria and Cuba. He called President Bush's refusal to meet with them "ridiculous" and a "disgrace."
Heavily criticized, Mr. Obama dug in rather than backtrack. He's claimed, in defense of his position, that John F. Kennedy's 1961 summit with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna was a crucial meeting that led to the end of the Cold War.
Not quite. Kennedy himself admitted he was unprepared for Khrushchev's bullying. "He beat the hell out of me," Kennedy confided to advisers. The Soviet leader reported to his Politburo that the American president was weak. Two months later, the Berlin Wall was erected and stood for 28 years.
Reporters may now give Mr. Obama's many gaffes more notice. But don't count on them correcting an implicit bias in writing about such faux pas.
Over the years, reporters have tagged a long list of conservative public figures, from Barry Goldwater to Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush, as dim and uninformed. The reputation of some of these men has improved over time. But can anyone name a leading liberal figure who has developed a similar media reputation, even though the likes of Al Gore, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have committed substantial gaffes at times? No reporter I've talked to has come up with a solid example.
his career to do what he thinks is right – regardless of its popularity in his party or outside it.
When total victory did not come quickly in Iraq, the old voices of partisanship and peace at any price saw an opportunity to reassert themselves. By considering centrism to be collaboration with the enemy – not bin Laden, but Mr. Bush – activists have successfully pulled the Democratic Party further to the left than it has been at any point in the last 20 years.
Far too many Democratic leaders have kowtowed to these opinions rather than challenging them. That unfortunately includes Barack Obama, who, contrary to his rhetorical invocations of bipartisan change, has not been willing to stand up to his party's left wing on a single significant national security or international economic issue in this campaign.
In this, Sen. Obama stands in stark contrast to John McCain, who has shown the political courage throughout
Thursday, June 26, 2008
You can watch a little intro to the monastery and the CD here: "The Cistercian Monks Of Stift Heiligenkreuz - EPK."
Or watch this:
Monday, June 23, 2008
I grew up in the Arab world in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and anti-Americanism was the standard political language – even for those pining for American visas and green cards. Precious few took this seriously. The attraction to the glamorous, distant society was too strong in the Beirut of my boyhood.
No Turkish malady is caused by America, and no cure can come courtesy of the Americans. The Turks giving vent to anti-Americanism are doing a parody of Europe: They were led to believe that the Europe spurning them, and turning down their membership in its club, is given to anti-Americanism, so they took to the same fad. Turkish anti-Americanism is no doubt fueled by the resentment within Turkey of the American war in Iraq that gave protection and liberty to the Kurds. No apology is owed the Turks; indeed, it is they who must reconsider their intolerance of minorities. If the Turks were comfortable with the abnormality of Iraq under Saddam Hussein, it is they who have a problem.
And if there is enthusiasm for Barack Obama on foreign shores, his rise to fame and power must be a tribute to the land that has made this possible. Where else would a boy of marginality and relative poverty find his way to the peak of political life? Certainly not in his father's Kenya, where the tribal origins of the Obamas would have determined young Barack's life-chances. In an Arab world hemmed in by pedigree, where rulers bequeath power to their sons and the lot of the sons is invariably that of the fathers, the tale of Obama is fantasy.
Meanwhile, a maligned American president now returns from a Europe at peace with American leadership. In France, Germany and Italy, center-right governments are eager to proclaim their identification with American power. Jacques Chirac is gone. Now there is Nicolas Sarkozy, who offered a poetic tribute last November to the American soldiers who fell on French soil, before a joint session of the U.S. Congress. "The children of my generation," he said, "understood that those young Americans, 20 years old, were true heroes to whom they owed the fact that they were free people and not slaves. France will never forget the sacrifice of your children."
The great battle over the Iraq war has subsided, and Europeans who ponder the burning grounds of the Islamic world know the distinction between fashionable anti-Americanism and the international order underpinned by American power. George W. Bush may have been indifferent to political protocol, but he held the line when it truly mattered, and the Europeans have come to understand that appeasement of dictators and brigands begets its own troubles.
It is one thing to rail against the Pax Americana. But after the pollsters are gone, the truth of our contemporary order of states endures. We live in a world held by American power – and benevolence. Nothing prettier, or more just, looms over the horizon.
Will this Benedictine reform-of-the-reform mean that every Catholic parish will soon have at least one Sunday celebration of mass in Latin, using the Missal of John XXIII? It seems unlikely, not least because very few priests today are competent Latinists. But in those places where the Latin mass of 1962 is celebrated reverently and without nostalgic accretions (lace-bedecked older vestments, for example), it will be a source of spiritual nourishment for the minority that prefers this way of worship, even as it introduces a new generation to what will be, for them, a new form of liturgy. In international settings, the use of this rite in Latin may help revive that ancient tongue as a common Catholic language for common worship--no small matter in an increasingly diverse and pluralistic church. Among scholars and parish clergy alike, the more widespread celebration of mass according to the Missal of John XXIII may prove to be the reformist magnet that Benedict XVI wants it to be, encouraging those who are already at work re-sacralizing the liturgy.
And the net result, over time? Almost certainly not "Latin days are here again" in every Catholic parish but rather a more reverent, more prayerful celebration of mass according to a reformed missal of 1970--and according to what the Second Vatican Council actually prescribed.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Get the book.
"The kind of life that incorporates intelligence clarifies what life is. We are, therefore, special, after all, in the way we are 'selves.' These are all issues in the philosophy of being. There is no such thing as epistemology separated from metaphysics." -- Robert Sokolowski 
The book is nothing less than a masterpiece of philosophical clarity and depth of understanding. The book draws on a lifetime devoted to teaching, writing, conversing, and meditating on the great issues and minds--Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Machiavelli, Hobbes, and particularly Edmund Husserl, though not neglecting the moderns before and after him. The great questions are asked: "How do we know?" "What is it we know?" "Why do we know?"
Sokolowski does not think that the task of the philosopher is only to ask questions but also to give as clear and basic, yes, as truthful an answer to them as possible. The purpose of philosophy, as he often says, is to "make distinctions" whereby we can finally understand what is. Fully to understand something is to know its truth. It is also to speak this same truth to others, to listen to others speaking of it. All the while we know that we are not gods. The gods know the truth; we human beings only seek it, love it. But our seeking is not a form of skepticism that denies any possibility of knowing anything. Rather it is a step by step verification of what we do know. Our ignorance comes from too much light, not from no light at all. "Truth is the conformity of the mind with reality," as Aquinas often said. This book explains this sentence.
On finishing this remarkable book, my judicious advice to all past and present students of philosophy, or theology, or any thing else for that matter, is simply to drop everything. Read this book! It is a free education in everything you ever wanted to know but never found out where to go to find it. Indeed, it is an education in what you wanted to know even if you did not know you wanted to know it. This book comes as close as any that I know to putting everything together in a concise, intelligible way.
If there is any one problem with which the book is most concerned, it is the so-called epistemological problem. That is, how is it that we can know reality and not our own "image" of reality? How is it that we know that we know and at the same time know that what we know really exists? Sokolowski is at pains to show where this epistemological problem came from in the history of philosophy. He presents a careful thesis about how one is to explain what a philosopher wants to articulate but, in the process, often ends up making things worse. The way we know "things" and not "representations" of things is in some ways the most fundamental problem of particularly modern philosophy.
Yet, it is a surprise. It is this "surprise" that each of us is, in our very being, an "agent," that is, an actor in the world that we did not cause to be. Truth, Aquinas said, exists in the "mind." But it is in the mind affirming what is there, what is not in its own mind. Something is there besides ourselves, but we can know it and in knowing it, also know our own knowing and its ways. But knowing involves truth. We all must begin here. This is what Sokolowski's penetrating book is about. This is a book of our time, a time that needs to know that it can know the truth—and that it can also lie to itself if it doesn't.
Ours is a time that needs to know that time is itself under the sway of being, of the metaphysics that begins in wonder and seeks to know the why of things, including the things of itself and those with whom it converses. The human person is an "agent of truth." This is what we are. Something "new" is at the "margin of the world." The something new is indeed "me" who, with all who come to be in their time, stands at the world's "edge" affirming, as Plato said, of what is that it is, of what is not, that it is not. The world itself cannot do this for itself. It needs an "agent of truth" within it.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Economist Arthur Laffer to graduates of Mercer University:
Pursuing your dream of prospering will benefit everyone . . . When I graduated from Yale University, we had a serious commencement speaker not like the one you are stuck with today. The commencement speaker was President John F. Kennedy. And the point I'm making today is the same point he made all those years ago. He said, "No American is ever made better off by pulling a fellow American down, and all of us are made better off whenever any one of us is made better off." He concluded by using the analogy that "a rising tide raises all boats."
Never forget or be ashamed of the fact that pursuing your own self interest furthers everyone's interest. Without you, the poor would be poorer.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
A 12-year-old Quebec girl who felt so strongly about her end-of-year school trip that she took her father to court after he forbade her from going is at the centre of a case that challenges the authority of parental discipline.
The dispute between father and daughter began when he cut off her Internet access over her misuse. When she continued to find a way to use the Internet, he told his daughter she couldn't go on the three-day school trip.
The girl's mother allowed her to go on the trip, but because the school wouldn't allow the girl to go unless both parents consented, the girl, with the mother's support took legal action against her father.
According to Ms. Beaudoin, the judge ruled that denying the trip was unduly severe punishment.
The father, who is appealing the decision, was "devastated" by the ruling, and is refusing to take his daughter back "because he has no authority over her."
Monday, June 16, 2008
"Bush never lied to us about Iraq"
Touring Vietnam in 1965, Michigan Gov. George Romney proclaimed American involvement there "morally right and necessary." Two years later, however, Romney -- then seeking the Republican presidential nomination -- not only recanted his support for the war but claimed that he had been hoodwinked.
"When I came back from Vietnam, I had just had the greatest brainwashing that anybody can get," Romney told a Detroit TV reporter who asked the candidate how he reconciled his shifting views.
Romney (father of Mitt) had visited Vietnam with nine other governors, all of whom denied that they had been duped by their government. With this one remark, his presidential hopes were dashed.
The memory of this gaffe reverberates in the contemporary rhetoric of many Democrats, who, when attacking the Bush administration's case for war against Saddam Hussein, employ essentially the same argument. In 2006, John F. Kerry explained the Senate's 77-23 passage of the Iraq war resolution this way: "We were misled. We were given evidence that was not true." On the campaign trail, Hillary Rodham Clinton dodged blame for her pro-war vote by claiming that "the mistakes were made by this president, who misled this country and this Congress."
Nearly every prominent Democrat in the country has repeated some version of this charge, and the notion that the Bush administration deceived the American people has become the accepted narrative of how we went to war.
Yet in spite of all the accusations of White House "manipulation" -- that it pressured intelligence analysts into connecting Hussein and Al Qaeda and concocted evidence about weapons of mass destruction -- administration critics continually demonstrate an inability to distinguish making claims based on flawed intelligence from knowingly propagating falsehoods.
In 2004, the Senate Intelligence Committee unanimously approved a report acknowledging that it "did not find any evidence that administration officials attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to change their judgments." The following year, the bipartisan Robb-Silberman report similarly found "no indication that the intelligence community distorted the evidence regarding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction."
Contrast those conclusions with the Senate Intelligence Committee report issued June 5, the production of which excluded Republican staffers and which only two GOP senators endorsed. In a news release announcing the report, committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV got in this familiar shot: "Sadly, the Bush administration led the nation into war under false pretenses."
Yet Rockefeller's highly partisan report does not substantiate its most explosive claims. Rockefeller, for instance, charges that "top administration officials made repeated statements that falsely linked Iraq and Al Qaeda as a single threat and insinuated that Iraq played a role in 9/11." Yet what did his report actually find? That Iraq-Al Qaeda links were "substantiated by intelligence information." The same goes for claims about Hussein's possession of biological and chemical weapons, as well as his alleged operation of a nuclear weapons program.
Four years on from the first Senate Intelligence Committee report, war critics, old and newfangled, still don't get that a lie is an act of deliberate, not unwitting, deception. If Democrats wish to contend they were "misled" into war, they should vent their spleen at the CIA.
In 2003, top Senate Democrats -- not just Rockefeller but also Carl Levin, Clinton, Kerry and others -- sounded just as alarmist. Conveniently, this month's report, titled "Whether Public Statements Regarding Iraq by U.S. Government Officials Were Substantiated by Intelligence Information," includes only statements by the executive branch. Had it scrutinized public statements of Democrats on the Intelligence, Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees -- who have access to the same intelligence information as the president and his chief advisors -- many senators would be unable to distinguish their own words from what they today characterize as warmongering.
This may sound like ancient history, but it matters. After Sept. 11, President Bush did not want to risk allowing Hussein, who had twice invaded neighboring nations, murdered more than 1 million Iraqis and stood in violation of 16 U.N. Security Council resolutions, to remain in possession of what he believed were stocks of chemical and biological warheads and a nuclear weapons program. By glossing over this history, the Democrats' lies-led-to-war narrative provides false comfort in a world of significant dangers.
"I no longer believe that it was necessary for us to get involved in South Vietnam to stop communist aggression in Southeast Asia," Romney elaborated in that infamous 1967 interview. That was an intellectually justifiable view then, just as it is intellectually justifiable for erstwhile Iraq war supporters to say -- given the way it's turned out -- that they don't think the effort has been worth it. But predicating such a reversal on the unsubstantiated allegation that one was lied to is cowardly and dishonest.
A journalist who accompanied Romney on his 1965 foray to Vietnam remarked that if the governor had indeed been brainwashed, it was not because of American propaganda but because he had "brought so light a load to the laundromat." Given the similarity between Romney's explanation and the protestations of Democrats 40 years later, one wonders why the news media aren't saying the same thing today.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Fordham University has a page for people to comment.
Friday, June 06, 2008
"Remarks at the U.S. Ranger Monument"
Pointe du Hoc, France
June 6, 1984
Worth viewing, especially today: "President Ronald Reagan's Speech at Point-du-Hoc, Normandy"
Monday, May 26, 2008
US troops killed in action: 54, 246
... for a country they did not know and a people they never met.
All gave some. Some gave ALL.
Freedom is not free.
Thank a veteran.
Say a prayer for and honor those who gave all.
[Worth visiting are One Marine's View, Byrd, and Blackfive--keep scrolling down for many posts on Memorial Day--just to name a few.]
This poem reminds us to keep alive the brave men and women who have given the gift of their lives so we could be free. Keep them alive in our hearts as they softly walk in our thoughts.
THEY SOFTLY WALK
By Hugh Robert Orr
They are not gone who pass
Beyond the clasp of hand,
Out from the stone embrace.
They are but come so close
We need not grope with hands,
Nor look to see, nor try
To catch the sound of feet.
They have put off their shoes
Softly to walk by day
Within our thoughts, to tread
At night our dream-led paths
They are not lost who find
The sunset gate, the goal
Of all their faithful years.
Not lost are they who reach
The summit of their climb,
The peak above the clouds
And storms. They are not lost
Who find the light of sun
And stars and God.
They are not dead who live
In hearts they leave behind.
In those whom they have blessed
They live a life again,
And shall live through the years
Eternal life, and grow
Each day more beautiful
As time declares their good,
Forgets the rest, and proves
Memorial Day. It is important to remember (each day and not just on the "holiday") the sacrifice many have made in defense of this country, our freedom, and the protection and security of those throughout the world who have not been able to defend themselves sufficiently.
Freedom Is Not Free
By LCDR Kelly Strong, USCG - Copyright 1981
I watched the flag pass by one day,
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Service man saluted it,
And then he stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud,
With hair cut square and eyes alert
He'd stand out in any crowd.
I thought how many men like him
Had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil
How many mothers' tears?
How many pilots' planes shot down?
How many died at sea
How many foxholes were soldiers' graves?
No, freedom isn't free.
I heard the sound of Taps one night,
When everything was still,
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That Taps had meant "Amen,"
When a flag had draped a coffin.
Of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No, freedom isn't free.
--Henry Ward Beecher from " The American Flag"