Monday, June 27, 2005

Here and There . . .

An irregular roundup of blogs, articles and commentary.

In Politics and Public Life . . .

  • At Catholics in the Public Square Oswald Sobrino on Terri Schiavo's autopsy:

    Even if one should accept the conclusion that Terri's brain damage was untreatable in any way or form, the immorality, the evil, of starving her remains. She was not dying. The courts killed her precisely because she was not dying. The feeding tube was not damaging her, but rather keeping her alive. She did not have a disease that was causing her crucial organs to stop functioning.

    And so the question becomes: do you deny the ordinary care of a feeding tube to someone whose severe brain damage seems to be beyond treatment of any kind? The answer is no because in these circumstances denying the feeding tube is an act of mercilessness and cruelty. Ordinary care is that care which is the basic minimum required by mercy. In the medical circumstances of Terri Schiavo, mercy required nutrition and hydration. Those who ruled otherwise damaged themselves severely by making themselves merciless. If sin is self-mutilation, then the judges who favored removing the tube in this particular case mutilated themselves morally. And so a moral autopsy of our judicial system would read: "cause of moral death: lack of mercy." As others have said, in moral terms, the one most damaged by evil is the evildoer.

    Michelle Malkin -- a journalist and a credit to her profession -- provides "a sober look" at the autopsy results, with hard words on "the callous gloaters on the other side of this debate . . . who can only talk about the sanctity of life if it's enclosed in ghost quotes and pronounced with a sneer." She provides a good roundup as well of other blogger responses.

  • The Death of Terri Schiavo, by Fr. Robert Johansen, originally published in the Catholic World Report is now available online: "If the courts had reconsidered the facts, if doctors had followed procedures, if reporters had asked obvious questions, if bishops had spoken out boldly-a gross injustice might have been averted . . ."

  • Meanwhile, Terri's husband/murderer Michael Schiavo attempts to get the last word in on the subject: Terri's grave: Adding insult to injury, from the blog Excessive Catholicism.

  • David from Catholics for Bush and Catholics in the Public Square has completed the second part of a very worthwhile project, one that every Catholic voter should be made aware of:

    [David says] I have put together a report on how the 131 Catholics in the U.S. House of Representatives AND Senate, voted/acted on the non-negotiable issues of abortion, embryonic stem cell research, cloning, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, and torture. I looked at 14 different actions (votes, co-sponsorship status, co-signing of letters of support). An introduction and links to the report in Excel and HTML formats can be found here. I hope it generates discussion and thought. Of course, comments, complaints, etc. are welcome.

  • Property rights are civil rights are human rights - Eric Johnson (Catholic Light) comments on the recent decision of the Supreme Court authorizing the appropriation of houses by multi-million dollar corporations -- sorry, "private developers" -- if the owners refuse to sell. Further commentary by Jeff Jacoby (Eminent injustice in New London Boston Globe June 25, 2005). Peter Sean of Lex Communis posts Justice Thomas' dissenting remarks, noting that the decision impacts poor and minorities most. Michelle Malkin provides a comprehensive roundup of reaction.

In Religion . . .

  • In Defense of "Cruise Ship" Spirituality. Greg Mockeridge defends Catholic apostolates such as Catholic Answers and Envoy Magazine, and Catholic singles groups like Ave Maria Singles and CatholicSingles.Com, against criticism by an irate Catholic for hosting "cruise-ship vacations." I've never been on a cruise-ship myself but perhaps someday. The late Gerard Serafin of A Catholic Blog for Lovers was quite fond of cruises, and judging by his reports and photos it sounds like a wonderful adventure.

  • Paper Tiber: How Pope John Paul’s Critics Would Tame the Church of Rome, by David Mills. Touchstone Vol. 18, No. 5 (June 2005):

    Perhaps the most interesting of the responses to the death of John Paul II were those of critics who used his death to offer their vision for the Catholic Church, and by extension for Christianity in general. It may be useful to look at what they said, because they followed a pattern used whenever a major orthodox religious figure needs taking down a peg. . . .

  • Writing for Christianity Today, Mark Noll and Carolyn Nystrom ask: "Is the Reformation OVER?" (Via Carl Olson).

  • Francis Beckwith -- of the blog Right Reason -- is starting another:

    I am developing a new website and blog that are dedicated to supporting the political liberty of religious citizens to participate in America's liberal democracy. The website is The Atheocracy Report ( The blog can be found here. I don't know how much time I can dedicate to this. But I thought it would be a good idea to get the ball rolling.

    It seems like a good project, and I hope Mr. Beckwith can keep up with it. From the website itself: intends to accomplish two goals: (1) To offer a positive case for the right of religious citizens to participate in America's liberal demorcacy by critically assessing the burdens placed on them by those who mistakenly claim that an atheocratic public square is a neutral one; (2) To document and offer commentary about unjust and uncharitable discrimination, depictions, and marginalizaiton of religious believers who seek to participate as citizens in the public square and shape the laws and policies of their communities. Because this injustice is often supported and perpetuated by groups and individuals that maintain that all religious belief is irrational and thus ought to be sequestered from the public square, we refer to these groups and individuals as atheocratic, which literally means supporting "atheistic government."

    These atheocratic groups and individuals often misrepresent, charicature, and engage in ad hominen attacks against serious religious believers. The Atheocracy Report maintains that church and state ought to separate, and that a theocracy is just as bad as an atheocracy. However, religious believers often come to the public square, not merely with blind faith and sacred Scripture, but with arguments and reasons that are distinctly public. We believe that these ought to be assessed on their own terms. Citizens should not be dismissed by an atheocratic litmus test that excludes them from the conversation because they happen to be religious believers, or requires that their arguments be ruled out a priori because they happen to be consistent with views congenial to belief in God and inconsisent with atheocratic views on the nature of law, morality, the good life, or human beings.

  • Behold a Pale Writer: The Pastel Heresies of Matthew Fox by Francis Fidelis. June 25, 2005:

    In heresy, as in theft, a key to long-term respect is to think big. As my mother always said, if you decide to steal, make it a million dollars, not two hundred bucks. Willie Sutton was a great thief. Valentinus thought big, heretical thoughts. Matthew Fox is a cut-rate heresiarch, a fourth-string muddler of the Tradition, the New Age’s Andy Gibb to mainstream Protestantism’s Barry, the theological equivalent of carob: a minor nuisance to the unsuspecting, a petty falsehood avoided by anyone of taste.

  • The Need for New Religious Terminology - Hunter Baker of the blog Reform Club on the original background and misappropriation of the term "fundamentalist" by liberal critics of religion.

  • REAL NUNS! -- I mean as in wearing a traditional habit, non-disgruntled, with happy expressions on their faces taking pride in their vocation to Christ and his Church. Amazing, isn't it? -- Signs of a Religious Vocation from A Penitent Blogger -- photos from the The Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus.

  • June 22nd was the feast day of St. Thomas More. Pro Ecclesia * Pro Familia * Pro Civitate posts the biography of "The Man for All Seasons", along with a compilation of links.

  • Catholic Triumphalism - Peter Sean (Lex Communis) on H.W. Crocker's article "What’s So Great About Catholicism", Crisis 20, no. 10 (November 2002), and the contributions of the Catholic Church to promoting and ensuring human freedom, with a look at the 1937 encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge:

    Catholicism historically advanced the cause of freedom by dividing loyalty. There never was a time in the Catholic West when the temporal and spiritual powers were in the hand of the same person, or where the spiritual powers were officially subordinated to that of the temporal power. Accordingly, there was always the possibility of a development in the understanding of freedom of conscience, even to the point that gets us to where we are today.

  • Petrine Offices and Particular Churches by Henri DeLubac, S.J., circa 1970's -- reproduced by Fr. Kimel (Pontifications):

    I want simply, first of all, to clarify a few points regarding the idea of collegiality, which seems to me rather important, and on its possible relation to the idea of bishops’ conferences. Next, I want to emphasize the role of the successor of St Peter as bond of the college of bishops and center of Catholic unity, as it follows from the Gospel. In conclusion, we shall examine some new tendencies or suggestions on this point. . . .

    I thought about posting an excerpt to whet the reader's appetite but I decided against it. There are so many good points that I'd be guilty of quoting too liberally and hijacking the post. In other words: read the whole thing. =)

  • Cruising into an irrational, paranoid future? - Carl Olson @ Ignatius Insight provides some helpful links on the "religion"/cult/philosophy of Scientology, Dianetics, L. Ron ("Elron") Hubbard, Thetans, audits, and related matters.

  • Stephen Riddle @ Flos Carmeli on the experience of a good confession:

    I just had the most harrowing (and gratifying) encounter ever in the confessional. I had never had a priest accost me in quit the way this priest did. Apparently this man believes in the destructive power of sin. I felt like I was at the inquisition and it was wonderful. All too often, I go into the confessional and I get a priest who will tell me how what I think is a sin is not really all that sinful. This priest harangued me about the horrors of mortal sin and the path to which it led. It was frightening and exhilirating. I walked out of the confessional with a sense that I had actually participated in a Sacrament. More, the ordeal was such that any penance afterwards would be incredibly light. . . .

And on a lighter note . . .

  • Are you a Papist?, asks Amy Welborn, discussing the perjorative use of the term. One reader answers:

    You MIND? You DO? Why on earth? The badge of distinction of the Roman Catholic Church is that we recognize that the Petrine Authority lives and continues in the line of the Bishops of Rome.

    We are Papists, Papists, Papists; we are, indeed. "Christian" also originated as a term of abuse. So what? We are Christians, too! And we acknowledge the jurisdicition of the Pope, we are his flock. We are Papists, doggone it!

    Another says:

    "Papist is a term which has outlived its history; its origins are in the late 16th century, it lived throught the 16th, the 17th, and the 18th century, and still had emotional force in the 19th . . . but I think by the 20th few could use it unselfconsciously any more. By now I think it is mostly a joke as an insult and has its best use as an affirmation.

    What do you think?

  • New York Times Calling . . . - Barbara Nicolosi (Church of the Masses) provides a "somewhat paraphrased and somewhat literal" transcription of phone interviews with a Times' reporter concocting an investigative report about the funneling of money from evangelical Republicans in DC to conservative Christians in Hollywood. Hilarious!

  • The Society of St. Pius I" "To be any more Trad, you’d have to be Jewish":

    nlike other wimpy neotraditionalist groups who attach themselves to various other Piuses, we at the SSPI make absolutely ZERO compromises with modernism. We reject not just one, but BOTH "Novus Ordos"—the Novus Ordo of 1970 promulgated by Paul VI, and the Latin Vulgate Mass of 400 A.D. promulgated by Innocent I and Pope Gregory I, which we call the "Vulgar Mass" . . .

  • The Curt Jester does it again:

    You've have heard such songs a "Gather Us In" by Marty Haugen and "Blest Are They" by David Haas that are so sickly sweet that you were sure you gained a couple of pounds listening to them in your church. So sweet that you wish they were a flavor of ice cream. Well wish no more . . .

  • From the Weight of Glory blog, a theatrical trailer for a new film:

    Now available: the movie trailer for this summer's most anticipated film, Lord of the Thing (formerly called Mordor in the Cathedral). It's a movie in which Middle Earth meets the twenty-first century Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

    The premise of the film? When I first visited the Cathedral in Los Angeles in the fall of 2003, I was struck by how the art design looked like something from Peter Jackson's Mordor... the angels look like Nazgol, the writhing figures under the altar look like Gollum, the stark towering angles of the Cathedral remind one of the unholy city . . .

  • Amazon review for Mortimer J. Adler's How to Read a Book by C. Akre "Computer Professional":

    Now, living in a digital age, I've never needed to read a book, since all useful knowledge is available in DVD or Playstation formats. But I've always wanted to try a book, and so I ordered this product with the expectation that it would provide the necessary instruction. This could not have been farther from the truth. When the package arrived, it was a flat rectangular thing about the density of light pine. It did not ship with instructions, so I proceeded to try to discern the proper method of operation. There was no obvious power switch, no place to insert batteries, no AC power adapter, nothing. It was obviously on, since it was displaying an image on top, so I assumed it used solar power. The device must have crashed, since the display was frozen, and I could not find the reset switch.

    Since it was broken, I decided to open it up see if any components had come loose from their sockets during shipping. It opened extremely easily with a screwdriver inserted into the side, and a small amount of vertical force applied. Inside was a system of type I had never seen before. Thin white flexible PCBs with the source code imprinted directly on the boards! This was easier than I expected, the process did not require any kind of debugger or data reader to gain access to the source. I didn't not recognize the software language the source was written in, perhaps it was some hybrid language, with the verbosity of Java and the relaxed grammar of Perl. I Googled some code samples, but was unable to find a compiler. At this point I gave up, I never called Amazon for an RMA number as I'm sure I voided the warranty by disassembling it, but I did get some nice digital pics of the interior for my website.

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