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Friday, August 31, 2007

Murderous Perfection

The usually estimable Ronald Radosh dropped the ball yesterday in the New York Sun when he shared a letter he received recently from the lefty folk icon Pete Seeger in response to Radosh's criticism of his old pal for keeping mum so many years on the treachery of Joseph Stalin. In the letter, Seeger, formerly (and likely still) a communist finally owns up Stalin might not have been such a swell guy after all and even goes so far as to admit, "I should have asked to see the gulags when I was in [the]USSR." Radosh thinks that's a big enough admission from Seeger to give him a pass.

I'm not so sure. Collectivism, i.e. communism, requires the subordination of the individual to the state in exchange for the putative promise of the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Most people, however, would rather not give up their individuality so the communist state must force them do so, beginning with persuasion via propaganda, followed by imprisonment and finally, if that fails, liquidation. Since communism cannot work unless all go along with the gag, Stalin can hardly be considered guilty of excess, merely the prosecution of Marxist-Leninist ideology with vigorous and, you might say, religious fervor. Mao and Pol Pot did exactly the same in later years.

For Seeger to denounce Stalin without denouncing communism is disingenuous. If he still believes in it he ought to recognize in order for it to obtain, the brutal methods used by Stalin have to be used, just as they are today in North Korea and Cuba. If he and others like-minded think one hundred percent literacy and universal (if mediocre--how many desperately ill people fly to those two countries for advanced treatments unavailable in the U.S.?) health care are worth the brutality necessary to bring it about, they ought come right out and say so. At the same time, they might also admit their belief in the singularly non-Catholic (but paradigmatically liberal Protestant) notion the perfectibility of man and its corollary, the possibility of heaven on earth, while acknowledging those goals may only be attainable by the liquidation of every last one of us.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Revisiting

Follows is an abridgement of a posting I made last November, its purpose made clear after it.

A commenter on Whitehall links to a piece in the Daily Mail (UK) about a bishop in the Church of England, the Rt. Rev'd Tom Butler of Southwark, who officially speaking for the Church proposes that doctors be allowed to let sick newborn babies die: that "there are occasions when it is compassionate to leave a severely disabled child to die." While this may seem a reasonable point of view to the compassionate, if casual, thinker, in reality it is a dangerous notion and, unfortunately, all of a piece of the New Religion: that God should serve the individual, not the other way around; that if a dogma results in suffering, the dogma is faulty and must be revised, for God does not intend for us (me) to suffer. Sorry, it doesn't work that way.

As Christians, we must believe life is a gift, the greatest gift, from God, as recounted in Genesis. If God is omniscient and omnipotent, as we believe Him to be, we cannot dictate the terms of His gift to us, otherwise we are questioning His supernal qualities and making Him one of us. If He really is one of us, however, we really don't need Him, do we? We can handle matters quite well without Him, can't we? If we do so, however, we are playing God ourselves, and unfortunately we are just not that good at it . . .

I have a cousin who was born paralyzed from the neck down but blessed (or cursed) with a first-class mind. The difficulty of her life I cannot begin to fathom but she bears her burden well and manages to possess a wicked sense of humor. Still, I wonder if +Butler, upon witnessing the protracted suffering my cousin has gone through in her life would think that it would have been better she had not been born or allowed to live. I hope, at least, he would ask her first.

My cousin died last week. In sixty-two years of an unimaginable life she put up with the damnably unfair hand she was dealt with nearly unfailing grace and good nature. In the end she may have decided (she never discussed it with anyone) she had had enough and stopped eating and, in her last days, drinking. Her caretakers had strict instructions not to use extraordinary actions to keep her alive when the end was near and they did not, much to their credit. Was what my cousin did wrong? It is beyond my ken and frankly I do not care, it is now in God's hands. I do know my cousin's life was a blessing and she touched many souls. At her behest the funeral will be held at the institution where she lived, she being much loved by the other residents as well as the staff. I also know I must offer thanks to almighty God for my cousin's life and pray for the repose of her soul. I do so as well as for my late aunt and uncle who, from the moment their only child was diagnosed in her infancy, devoted themselves at huge personal sacrifice to ensure a reasonably comfortable life for her when they were gone.

Thanks be to God for His creatures and for those who cherish them.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Jonathan Swift and Warm Fashion Accessories

From the New York Sun:
For New Yorkers without the time, space, or willingness to commit to owning a dog, a new share program launching in Manhattan next month offers pets for rent.

Singles who don't own pets but want excuses to chat up dog lovers at city parks, for example, can break the ice with Jackpot, a midnight-black Labrador retriever billed as a "happy dog who loves everyone," who can be a best friend for a month, a week, or an hour. While researchers tout the positive impact of spending time with pets, the rent-a-dog program, FlexPetz, is seen as a "shocking" development by veterinarians, dog trainers, and longtime pet owners. Veterinarians say renting out dogs could inflict permanent damage to their psyches, as multiple owners could muddle their understanding of loyalty.

I can appreciate those concerns and trust the proprietors of FlexPetz will be sensitive to them, e.g. not hiring out a prize Manhattan purebred to a B&T from Broad Channel; the damage to the poor critter's self-esteem (the dog's, that is) could be catastrophic. With the risks carefully addressed, however, I think FlexPetz is a marvelous idea and one that could give rise to a wonderful and even bigger marketing opportunity: the leasing of children.

It may come as a surprise to those who don't live in Manhattan but these past few years children have been the latest fashion accessory among the hip and clever. They are, however, an accessory requiring heavy lifting and not all possess the considerable strength required. Consider the plight of the typical well-to-do couple living in Tribeca, say (by "couple" I refer to the quasi-archaic straight man and woman joined in Holy Matrimony but being Manhattan it can include any other pairings): both parties draw six-figured incomes and are socially active. They long to to spread their considerable largess spoiling progeny and showing them off at gallery openings but alas, the crushing demands of their busy lives, not just of their jobs but of daily gym workouts, pilates classes and sessions with the shrink permit nary a second to devote to such unpleasant and unrewarding tasks as feeding, bathing, dressing, diaper-changing etc. of little ones. Also, as is well known among Manhattan moms (if they happen to be women) childbirth can have devastating consequences to taut and expensive physiques. It may be the case the child-deprived couple may not earn quite enough to hire a surrogate birther and no matter how the kid is manufactured, there's no way in hell Mom and Dad are going to let a Spanish-accented nanny of questionable legality anywhere near the Manolo Blahniks and signed Andy Warhol lithographs.

With child leasing all those concerns are eliminated. For a reasonable down payment and monthly maintenance fee, a leasing agency will make available a broad line of attractive children of all races and colors (right now, Asians and Africans are the new black) for short-term leasing, as little as one hour. The service would include a 24-hour help desk, reachable by cell and Blackberry, for assistance dealing with the myriad problems that can arise with young children including the most dreaded of them all, meltdown. Should that assistance prove unavailing the agency will provide guaranteed 30-minute or less child replacement (within the Metropolitan area). The agency will conduct rigid screening procedures and while it may not be possible to guarantee problem-free infant hirelings, those that are found to be unsatisfactory will be quickly removed from the leasing pool.

The procurement of child-product would be accomplished by partnerships with leading environmental organizations and Planned Parenthood, consisting of generous payments to them as "child-offsets" and contracting with them to locate mothers with unwanted children to whom they would pay a portion of the payments in return for transfer of title to the children to the leasing companies.

There will be, of course, numerous other details to work out in this marketing concept but none that anyone with an MBA from an accredited institution couldn't work out. Quite frankly, I don't see a downside to it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Transcendent Idiocies

A cautious reminder: Those distressed over the bumper crop of idiots sprouting from the fertile grounds of the Episcopal Church and considering taking the Tiberian swim should be aware the fruited (fruity?) plains of the Holy Catholic Church can be just as fecund. Consider this item from Europe: a Dutch RC Bishop is calling upon Catholics to "use the name Allah for God to ease tensions between Muslims and Christians." The last time I checked non-Muslims still outnumbered Muslims by a considerable margin in the Netherlands and thus it seems we should be asking the Muslims to call Allah God, but hell, I'm game, let's all call Him Allah and give the fool Bishop his Nobel prize.

By the way, we’re always seeing media references to the "tensions" between Muslims and Christians. Well, perhaps but there’s a subtle yet distinct difference the form the tensions suffered by the two entities take that requires clarification: Muslims' tensions are the very real urge to murder us all, every one (including Christians). Christians' tensions are the very real fear the Muslims' urge to murder us all, every one (including Christians). There now, is that clear?

(Thanks to Bro. Rob)

Monday, August 13, 2007

End Days for Anglo-Catholicism?

A while back, following the motu proprio issued by Pope Benedict XVI that considerably eases the restrictions on use of the 1962 Missal for celebrating Mass, along with a steady stream of hints from his Holiness suggesting the time for innovation has come to an end, I asked rhetorically whether the time for Anglo-Catholics had also come to an end, whether they should consider embracing the fullness of the Faith. Recently, one prominent Anglican gave answer to the question: according to the Living Church, the Rt. Rev'd Clarence Pope, retired bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth, an Anglo-Catholic stronghold, has announced he has left the Episcopal Church for the Roman Catholic Church. While it is not particularly earthshaking for someone from Fort Worth departing for Rome, what is surprising about his Grace Clarence’s move is, this is the second time he has done it.

Thirteen years ago, Bishop Pope (yes, I am a grownup and will try to refrain making stupid jokes), distressed with the way things were going in the Episcopal Church, took the swim and was received by Bernard Francis Cardinal Law. Owing to shabby treatment from the RC Diocese of Louisiana, where he was denied entry to the priesthood, along with illness and depression, he was lured back into the Anglican fold just a year later in 1995. Now Pope has re-poped (sorry, that one just slipped out of me), this time, presumably, for good. He has a bleak outlook for the future of Catholicism in the Episcopal Church saying, “Doctrinal changes concerning holy matrimony, holy orders, and matters of sexual morality have put the Episcopal Church outside the limits of the Vincentian Canon, and marginalize everyone within it from the Catholic world.”

No kidding. In addition to being marginalized, people don’t realize how small a proportion the Episcopal Church comprises traditional Anglo-Catholics (not to be confused with so-called “affirming” Catholics: Unitarians who love vestments and smoke but only when it doesn't come from tobacco), there are perhaps 25,000 to 50,000 of us. Whichever the alphabet soup organizations of apostates of the apostates ends up taking the place of the Episcopal Church in the aftermath of its inevitable crash and burn, it will likely be dominated by former low-church Protestants, many of whom actually embrace what traditional Catholics deplore: the “ordination” of women, the dumbing down of the Prayer Book, God-awful “praise music” and of course and most objectionable, Calvinistic doctrine. Finding themselves so outnumbered, traditional Anglo-Catholics may find it incumbent to remove themselves to a friendlier and more sympathetic institution: the one in Rome, which for all its myriad woes, some of which experienced by Bishop Pope, not altering his outlook, but unlike its Anglican counterpart is on the mend under the sure guidance of Benedict XVI and surely the logical place for those who call themselves “Catholic.”

Monday, August 06, 2007

You Just Can't Make This Stuff Up

From the "Organizational Effectiveness Plan" just announced by the Episcopal Church: "The purpose of the Episcopal Church Center is to further God’s mission, interpreted by the General Convention."

(h/t MCJ)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Competent Authority

Comes word last Thursday, the Rt. Rev'd Gene Robinson, the Bishop of New Hampshire, endorsed Barack Obama's bid for the presidency. The reaction has been muted so far, probably because few members of the media have picked up the story. No doubt many of my conservative colleagues will make much hay over this, accusing the media of a double standard by not jumping all over Obama for receiving an endorsement from a religious organization, comparing it with the media's hysterical shrieks three years ago when Jerry Falwell endorsed George Bush.

Not at all, not at all, I say. The media, by ignoring the endorsement of a political candidate by a representative of the Episcopal Church are simply recognizing what many of us have believed for years: the Episcopal Church is not a religious organization. And just as the judge in "Miracle on 34th Street" was, to his relief, able to rule Kris Kringle the real Santa Claus owing to a "competent authority," the U.S.Post Office, recognizing he was, I am, to my relief, able to dismiss any lingering notions the Episcopal Church is a religious organization, owing to competent authorities like the New York Times tacitly recognizing it is not.

(h/t Creative Minority Report)

Friday, August 03, 2007

Oh, the Horror


A mime Mass in Switzerland, where they have too much money and too little to do.

(Thanks, I think, to Gerald at The Cafeteria is Closed.)