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Friday, July 31, 2009

St. Thomas More, Pray for Us

There is increasing talk in the Anglican Communion, even from the Archbishop of Canterbury himself, of the establishment of "two-track" Anglicanism; one track consisting of western liberal organizations like the Episcopal Church and the other of those from the global south and east that lean closer to orthodoxy. Further, there is even the suggestion that the Episcopal Church set up shop in England to minister to those in the C of E who find the Christo-centric nature of traditional Anglican worship far too narrow a gate for their theological purposes.

The purpose, I assume, of this self-imposed bifurcation is to quarantine the toxic innovations of western liberals from the rest of the Anglican Communion, in order to buy peace between the two sides, while concomitantly maintaining amicable relations with the liberals so that they might continue to spread their considerable largess around rest of the Communion. I have my doubts.

The intentional division of Anglicanism brings to mind an utterance by Thomas More to William Roper, his son-in-law and biographer, that is as salient now as it was then.
I pray God that some of us, as high as we seem to sit upon the mountains, treading heretics under our feet like ants, live not the day, that we gladly would wish to be at league and composition with them, to let them have their churches quietly to themselves; so that they would be content to let us have ours quietly to ourselves.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Economic Elucidation in Santa Cruz

The young miss here speaks on solutions to the economic woes besetting California but I say she has a place in the Obama administration.

(Thanks to For What It's Worth.)

Oh Yeah, That Too

Mr. Dave Matthews, noted rock 'n' roll musician:
Music should be not only a source for political ideas but also a source of hope, for the simple things in life like dancing.
Peculiar order he has there but it goes a long way explaining why I find pop music so insufferably boring these days.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tricky Dick and Barack

President Richard Nixon, asked at a press conference about lunatic murderer Charles Manson, whose trial was underway, declared that he was "obviously guilty." It was a foolish thing for Nixon to say, considering he was not only the President but a lawyer, too.

President Barack Obama, asked at a press conference about the arrest for disorderly conduct by Cambridge, Massachussets police of chronically-aggrieved Harvard Professor Henry Gates (who was mistakenly thought to be breaking and entering his own home) declared the police "acted stupidly." It was a foolish thing for Obama to say, considering he is not only the President but lawyer, too.

Diary of a Newly Minted Papist: Reconsidering My Reconsidering Beggars.

I've written in the past of the cheerful panhandler, Joe, who just before the noonday mass at the Church of Our Saviour in Manhattan parks himself near the west door to receive donations. Joe never whines about being hungry or homeless; his only desire, seemingly, to secure sufficient funds with which to procure a supply of bumwine to get him through the day. Because of his utter lack of guile Joe has endeared himself to many of the noon regulars. I occasionally threaten (jestingly) to one day drag him into the church for mass but he laughs it off; as do I, thence proceeding inside after dropping a quarter or two into his hands.

The good worshipers of Our Saviour must be doing well by Joe: today, walking by him (I had no coins to spare this time), I noticed he was vigorously engaged in conversation on a cell phone but was able to manage a friendly wave. Observing that, I will confess to briefly considering the wisdom my meager handouts to Joe but, in the end, decided to continue them, for the same reason as before: his utter lack of guile. A lesser beggar would take pains to hide or disguise a cell phone but not our honest Joe.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Another Thing to Make Fun of...

Bad vestments! Christopher Johnson, proprietor of the Midwest Conservative Journal, has branched out (I wonder if that makes him a branch theorist) and started a new blog devoted to that subject alone. With offings like the one you see above, who can possibly resist?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

How Great Thou Were

I confess finding it a bit odd charging through the Grand Central IRT station and catching strains of "How Great Thou Art" played, none too well, by a Peruvian panpipes band (which are ubiquitous in the New York City Subways). Even odder for me, though, was its use as the closing hymn this past Sunday at the Francis Cabrini Shrine in Northern Manhattan, where I sometimes attend mass when feeling less ill-disposed than usual toward contemporary Catholic liturgy, music and architecture (a temporary condition, to be sure) and also don't feel like making the trip downtown.

You may find it surprising but I believe some good things did come out of the Vatican II reforms, one of them being the increased inclusion of music in the mass by protestant divines like Bach, Buxtehude, Schütz and Praetorious. Still, it jars to hear an overtly protestant hymn like "How Great Thou Art" in such a Catholic setting as the Cabrini Shrine but at least the congregants there sang it with a certain amount of gusto, which is more than they do with most hymns there, in spite (or more likely, because) of the woman-in-the-front-with-a-microphone problem, found in so many Catholic churches.

As far as I'm concerned, though, there was but one performer of "How Great Thou Art" and his performances surpassed all others by a mile: I write, of course, of the King--Elvis, that is. I prefer his studio recording to the live ones because of its better sound and instrumentation (listen to those kettledrums while he sings "I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder!"). Also, the artist's voice was is in far better repair (as was the artist) than in the later live recordings of the hymn. Outstanding in all versions, though, is Elvis' interpretation, the emotiveness of which makes Mario Lanza's performances of Neapolitan songs seem like paradigms of restraint. Wretched excess never comes better than this.

What's the Hurry?

The One seems to be getting worried:
Obama: No time for delay on health care

WASHINGTON – Trying to keep the health care debate moving on his terms, President Barack Obama on Tuesday touted the consensus reached by lawmakers so far and dismissed efforts to delay or defeat emerging legislation. He called on Washington's leaders to "insist that this time it will be different."

"The American people understand that the status quo is unacceptable," Obama said in a Rose Garden appearance.
There would be plenty of time for delay, of course, if Congressional support for this bloated socialistic legislation were increasing rather than decreasing, especially among Democrats looking ahead to the elections of 2010 with concern.

I have also lived through enough administrations, Democratic and Republican alike, to know when the President starts insisting the American people want this or that, it is a sure sign his poll numbers are going down in a hurry. (Update: And that appears to be the case.)

And here's a tip, Mr. President: you do your cause no good at all by parking the not-yet-indicted Senator Dodd next to you when you preach "the American people understand that the status quo is unacceptable." Some of them may titter, you know.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Barbara Boxer in Living Color

I have long thought many white liberals, for all their putative concerns about racism, are racists themselves. Watch as Senator Boxer from California reveals her true colors.

In all fairness, it should be mentioned Senator Boxer is a perennial finisher in the periodic contests for the Dumbest Member of Congress.

O Go, All Ye Faithful

This past week at its triennial General Convention the Episcopal Church has been busy resolving itself out of business. Much of the doings have received national attention via media (if you'll excuse the pun) and require no repetition here. There was, however, one resolution not much reported on and the fate it suffered speaks, louder than all the splashier stuff in the headlines, how transmogrified the Episcopal Church is from even a few decades ago and what a bleak future it faces.

Following the lead of the Church of England earlier this year, a priest at the General Convention introduced a resolution that affirmed
the conclusion of the Church of England at its February General Synod and direct[s] the House of Bishops' Committee on Theology to report back to the 77th General Convention on "their understanding of the uniqueness of Christ in the United States multi-faith society, and offer examples and commendations of good practice in sharing the gospel of salvation through Christ alone with people of other faiths and of none."
You would be forgiven thinking that resolution, seemingly boilerplate and non-controversial, would pass quickly, by voice vote even; that stressing the uniqueness of Christ for salvation and the need to preach the Gospel to all nations is kind of the raison d'être of a Christian institution, isn't it?

Think again. Not only did the resolution not pass, it didn't even make it out of the Evangelism (sic) Committee, to which it had been referred. "The Evangelism Committee objected strongly to the resolution and said they thought it was the language of proselytism and exclusivism and they objected to any talk of Christianity superseding Judaism. I was blown away," said Fr. Peter Cook, the resolution's sponsor, to David Virtue. Later at that same session, as if to make manifest their feelings toward Fr. Cook's resolution, the Episcopalians trotted out "a group of ecumenical and inter-religious guests... More than 20 visitors, representing Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Baha’is, and Sikhs..."

Protestant progressives are continually inviting representatives of other religions to take part in their services and even incorporate elements of those religions into theirs. You never see the favor returned, however; the faith of most Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Baha'is and Sikhs being sturdy enough it is unnecessary for them to invite the Christians over to play, nor to lard their services with pastiches of Christianity (which they would surely consider heretical). Episcopalians and their brethren in the protestant mainstream who preach fungibility of all faiths in effect confess their own lack of faith. Who wants to hear that every Sunday? No wonder their pews are emptying.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Good St. Vincent, Pray for Us

There was a story in the Onion way back that ran as follows.
St. Vincent To World's Catholics: Stop Donating All This Crap To Me

November 4, 1997 | Issue 32•14

VATICAN CITY—Frustrated by the ever-mounting piles of used clothing, old magazines and rusting appliances accumulating in his name in thrift shops around the globe, St. Vincent made a plea to the world’s Catholics Monday to “stop donating all this crap to me.” “If one more paint-covered sweatshirt, dented crock pot, or any other piece of thrift-store garbage is dropped into one of my bins, I am going to snap,” said St. Vincent, named patron of works of charity in 1855. “Please, keep your worthless trash—I don’t want it.”
O good Saint, how I empathize with thee! I am similarly afflicted. Neither my Catholic friends nor my catechists warned me upon embracing the full faith and my name entered into the Archdiocese of New York's database, I would not only be besieged with heart rending appeals and tacky trinkets from seemingly numberless charities tied to Holy Mother Church but that their volume would steadily increase (which suggests the selling or leasing of mailing lists--simony, anyone?). It has reached the point where rarely a day goes by where I do not find an envelope from one of these outfits putting the touch on me.

Worse than the seeming urgency of most of the requests (one outfit's monthly mailings, for as long as I've getting them, are always pseudo-stamped, in bold red capital letters, "EMERGENCY APPEAL") are those trinkets, which include wee bookies, bookmarks, authentic gold-toned guardian angel medallions and similar detritus. Perhaps the most annoying, however, are the rosaries. I believe all the ones I have been getting are from the same source, the Society of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart of the Little Flower (or something like that).

The SOLSHLF at least every other month sends me a cardboard box containing a form letter from a priest extolling his mother who prays the rosary five times a day and hoping I will do same with the enclosed plastic rosary, attached medallion with my first name printed on it and little plastic pouch with zipper to hold the whole business in, that his organization is most pleased to present to me. Also enclosed is a card, to be returned apparently, with a thank-you note already written out that expresses my gratitude for the gift of the "beautiful rosary and...personalized case in which to keep it safe" (from what, I wonder--pickpockets?) and various dollar amounts I may check off in order to more practically express my gratitude. Uh Father? If it's a gift, why are you asking me to pay for it?

I don't pay for it but do confess to some pangs of (Catholic?) guilt for not doing so. I recently consulted a older priest friend of mine what I should do about all this stuff--should I be guilted into donating or ignore it? My friend told me he was similarly plagued and suggested I keep whatever trinkets I liked, throw away the rest and concentrate my giving to the collection basket on Sunday (something I have noticed many Catholics are terrible at); if I feel like giving more, I should give to organizations devoted to the restoration of the Tridentine Mass to Catholic worship. That seems like good advice to me.

RIP Starbucks, Please?

I never did care for Starbucks coffee; to my uneducated pallet it simply tastes over-brewed and burnt but de gustibus non est disputandum. Far more irksome for me is the time it takes to complete a transaction in the places. Nevertheless, I have a Starbucks gift card (given to me last Christmas) occupying precious space in my wallet so this morning I decided to put it to use at a Starbucks near work.

To my initial pleasure and surprise there was no line (a sign of the deepening recession?) so I strode right up to counter to order my small black coffee (I know, not the right lingo but I'm a grownup) and waited for one of the seven employees there to take my order. None did. Three minutes I waited, trying to establish eye contact with at least one of them but no luck. True, they all seemed busy doing something but taking a customer's order apparently was not on the agenda that morning so I gave up and will give the gift card to someone I don't like.

If any good comes out of this recession it will be demise of the all-too-prevalent retailing ethos of these past twenty years, one eagerly embraced by the newly moneyed, that treating customers rudely and charging them a lot for it is a sure indicator of desirability and exclusivity. I think many people are going to decide that is a luxury they can no longer afford.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


From Vanity Fair:
From Yale to Princeton, Columbia to Cornell, budgets are being slashed and construction cranes idled as university investment managers confront their worst losses in a generation. Just the concept of having to balance a budget is a relatively unfamiliar one for many university presidents, who have enjoyed years and years of double-digit investment gains.
Cry me a river.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ad Orientem

Great photo:

Catholic GIs at mass in Korea, August 28, 1951; from the website ROK Drop.

(h/t The Western Confucian via Conservative Blog for Peace.)

One out of a Hundred

Instapundit links to a site that lists 100 Essential Skills for a Geek. I had always thought I was at least reasonably endowed with geeky characteristics but looking at that list, I see only one skill I can confidently claim, no. 44: "Google obscure facts in under 3 searches" (I can often do it in 1). The other 99? Clueless.

I'm not sure whether to be dismayed or pleased.

When Ideology Trumps Fact

Those of a certain age will remember the best selling scare-screed of forty years ago, The Population Bomb, written by Paul Ehrlich, in which the author argued population growth was so out-of-control that unless checked there would be massive and world-wide starvation by the mid '90s. Didn't happen, of course, but Prof. Ehrlich, not content simply to rest on his laurels after scaring the bejeebers out of millions of gullible fools, a few years later, along with his little woman Anne Ehrlich and self-proclaimed "dissident scientist" John P. Holdren, churned out another volume called Ecoscience. In that opus the authors laid out what might have to be done to forestall the catastrophe earlier predicted by Ehrlich. Here are some of their proposals, courtesy of the blog zombietime.

• Women could be forced to abort their pregnancies, whether they wanted to or not;

• The population at large could be sterilized by infertility drugs intentionally put into the nation's drinking water or in food;

• Single mothers and teen mothers should have their babies seized from them against their will and given away to other couples to raise;

• People who "contribute to social deterioration" (i.e. undesirables) "can be required by law to exercise reproductive responsibility" -- in other words, be compelled to have abortions or be sterilized.

• A transnational "Planetary Regime" should assume control of the global economy and also dictate the most intimate details of Americans' lives -- using an armed international police force.
Zombietime fastidiously posts scans of the pages from "Ecoscience" containing those proposals so that no one might suggest its authors were "quoted out of context" or they never made them at all. They weren't and they did; it's all there.

That an old work of junk science is of any concern at all these many years later has nothing to do with the thoroughly discredited and debunked Ehrlichs but with the third member of the troika, John P. Holdren. Mr. Holdren is currently Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, and Co-Chair of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. He was appointed to those positions by President Obama. You may recall the President proclaiming back in March that scientific decisions must be "based on facts, not ideology." Apparently that criterion did not obtain in the appointment of Mr. Holdren to the various White House science offices.

(h/t Stand Firm.)

This Just In: George Bush Still Isn't President

With the economy continuing to tank the AP, for the second day, continues its hopeful attempt to divert our attention back to the true source of the nation's woes, George W. Bush. It is flogging a story how the former president may have overstepped his bounds when upping surveillance via wiretapping following the 9/11 attacks eight years ago (and to drive their point home, sort of, they accompany the story with unflattering pics like this of his odious visage).
WASHINGTON – Not enough relevant officials were aware of the size and depth of an unprecedented surveillance program started under President George W. Bush, let alone signed off on it, a team of federal inspectors general found.

The Bush White House pulled in a great quantity of information far beyond the warrantless wiretapping previously acknowledged, the IGs reported. They questioned the legal basis for the effort but shielded almost all details on grounds they're still too secret to reveal.
Funny thing, though, about this egregious violation of the rights of suspected terrorists, one that the AP doesn't get around to revealing until paragraph six (safely past the jump in print editions): "Just what those activities involved remains classified, but the [inspectors general] pointedly say that any continued use of the secret programs must be 'carefully monitored.'" In other words, those police-state wiretapping programs are still in place today; here and now during the administration of...of...oh yes, Him.

Note, however, the AP's use of the word "pointedly" when describing the IGs' caution to the present administration how the programs are employed, thus reminding us gently who will ultimately bear the blame should their use get out of hand.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Not That There is Any Question of It...

But here's proof positive our president is not gay.

Nor, obviously, is President Sarkozy, who observes the subject with far greater (and Gallic) decorum and detachment.

(h/t Ann Althouse.)

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

For a long time I have observed Independence Day with the reading of our Declaration of Independence. Given we are now witnessing an astounding increase in the powers of government, I think it behooves every American to read it and carefully consider the words of our founding fathers. They have never been more timely.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Down by the Riverside

When funds were being raised for the construction of New York's (Episcopal) Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, one of the most generous donors was John D. Rockefeller, a Baptist. Because of his generosity Rockefeller fully expected (naively, perhaps) to be named to to the Cathedral's board and was vexed indeed when snubbed by Bishop Manning, who informed him only Episcopalians would be asked to serve; that no Baptists need apply. Rockefeller, feeling ill-used, shook the dust off his feet and wallet, secured a better property a few blocks west and built his magnificent Riverside Church that overlooks the Hudson River.

Rockefeller lavished money on his church, erecting a towering Gothic edifice (protestants may detest Holy Mother Church's theology but they sure do love her architecture) with stunning stained glass, an enormous Hook & Hastings pipe organ (one of the largest in the world) and a carillon (also one of the largest in the world). He also provided (appropriately) a liberal endowment so that the Riverside Church would never want for funds (the management of the long-broke Cathedral of Saint John the Divine must surely rue their predecessors' snootiness but back then there were differences between mainstream protestant denominations and having a Baptist on board simply would not do).

Thanks to Rockefeller's munificence, Riverside Church flourished for decades, serving as a beacon to the liberal protestant establishment. Alas, however, not even a Rockefeller could found a protestant church immune to the troubles of our times and Riverside Church, although not ailing financially as far as I know, is now on the ropes, being torn apart by dissension. Yesterday, it was reported, the church's pastor of only two months, the Rev. Brad Braxton, quit, already beaten down and worn out by a lawsuit and quarreling among the parishioners.

You have to read between the lines of this account in USA Today but the essence of Riverside Church's woes seem to involve its demographics: for some years it has been transitioning from a liberal institution of mostly well-to-do older whites into a less liberal one of mostly less well-to-do younger blacks. Black parishioners now substantially outnumber whites and it appears many of them do not share the white parishioners' enthusiasm for left-wing activism and economic justice, preferring instead "evangelical and scripturally focused preaching." That, the Rev. Braxton was providing, to the bitterness and dismay (ironically) of the old white liberals who saw it as "a threat to Riverside's open and inclusive reputation" (and anybody familiar with the Episcopal Church these days knows what that means).

Not surprisingly, charges of racism are being lobbed and they appear to be justified. The USA Today article quotes a parishioner, Betty Davis, who served on the committee that hired the Rev. Braxton two months ago: "As soon as his name was announced, the attacks started. One of the things that some people are afraid of is that the church will turn black. And, you know, I really resent that." Well you should, Ms. Davis. You are discovering what many of us have discovered over the years, that liberals who profess openness and inclusion only extend it to those who agree with their political outlook. Not only are they not open and inclusive to minorities who do not share their point of view, they actively despise them and do whatever they can to drive them from their midst.

Time is on the side of Riverside Church's black parishioners, however. White liberals increasingly do not attend church anymore; why should they? Sunday mornings they can stay home, brew a pot of coffee and get the same gospel preached in liberal protestant churches simply by flipping to the Sunday Times editorial page (or even on the front page, now). It's much more convenient, leaves a smaller carbon footprint and best of all, in the case of Riverside Church, spares them having to associate with those dreadful minorities who actually take their Bible seriously.