Daily Archives: June 1, 2009

Tom Batiuk tries to profit from Dan Brown’s publicity

by digging up historically inaccurate anti-Catholic cliches.

In the May 31 edition of Funky Winkerbean, Crazy Harry and John the comic book guy discuss how Wonder Woman was apparently, in the words of the character:

“banned by the Church’s National Organization for Decent Literature, which was a descendent of the old Index Librorum Prohibitorum that once censored Copernicus’ ‘On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres’ and Galileo’s ‘Dialogue On the Two Chief World Systems'”

OK, the “National Organization for Decent Literature” was a US based organization that promoted outright censorship.

The Index was a list of books that were not “banned” but censored: Catholics could not read them unless they had legitimate reason to do so, and did it under the proper guidance.

Living before the Index was ended, Flannery O’Connor openly praised one of the works on the Index, Madame Bovary, as her favorite novel. O’Connor also stated support for the Church’s censorship–so long as authors did not engage in self-censorship.

Many of the works often pointed to as examples of the Index‘s alleged failings (e.g., certain scientific treatises or St. Faustina’s Diary) should merely show that the purpose of the Index was to protect souls who might be badly influenced by works that needed a certain intellectual or spiritual maturity.

AHA! Obama says "no litmus test"

Again, it pains me to be defending an Obama position–it really does–I think the man is evil. I do not put confidence in him to do anything good. But I *do* put confidence in him to do what is self-serving to his own power.

His strategy is to divide Catholics so the Catholic Left can vote for him with a strong sense of self-justification, while his Catholic supporters like Chris Korzen and Doug Kmiec paint orthodox Catholics as nothing more than Republican activists. His strategy is to win over “moderate” pro-lifers like Kmiec who can say he’s “trying to reduce abortions”, while painting the core of the pro-life movement as radical extremists.

So it is perfectly suited to that agenda to pick a Supreme Court justice who is neutral on abortion. It fits his apearance of seeming “fair minded.”

I’m just hoping that strategy backfires, and Sotomayor gets appointed, and Sotomayor turns out to be pro-life. I’m also hoping that the Republicans will either get off their 401(k)s and do something, or else implode so a real pro-life party can take their place. Otherwise, it won’t matter how many justices we have.

We could have 9 “pro-life” justices on the Supreme Court, and if no real challenge to _Roe_ is mounted, what does it matter?

There are at least 3 strategies that can be employed, and have been attempted, that could *immediately* overturn Roe: state constitutional amendments defining an unborn child as a legal person (actually, several years ago, there was a federal case in Texas defining an unborn child as a legal person for the purpose of an illegal immigrant getting to stay in the country as the parent of a US citizen); the Ron Paul approach of banning federal courts from hearing abortion related cases; or the Norma McCorvey/Sandra Cano approacch of getting their own verdicts thrown out.

Personally, I’m kinda hoping that, when the Notre Shame protestors go to trial this week, the judge’ll throw the book at them in retaliation for the Tiller shooting (not that it’s their fault), and the nation will have to deal with the scandal of “Jane Roe” herself going to jail in protest of abortion, and a Catholic priest going to jail for “trespassing” at a Catholic university.

We need some martyrs, people.

Anyway, back to Sotomayor:

President Barack Obama never asked U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia
Sotomayor whether she supports the pro-abortion rights Supreme Court ruling Roe
v. Wade, a White House spokesman said on Wednesday.
“The president doesn’t
have a litmus test and that question was not one that he posed to her,” White
House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters, CNSNews.com says. The 1973
decision Roe v. Wade struck down most state laws restricting or prohibiting
abortion. Nominations to the high court consistently attract speculation about
what effects the new justice may have on efforts to overturn or reaffirm the
precedent-setting ruling.

The number one “argument” being made against Sotomayor is “There’s no way Obama or his staff would appoint a known pro-lifer.” OK, but people thought there was no way Reagan, or Bush, or Bush would appoint a known pro-choicer, and all of them did. Yes, they claimed they were deceived, and they may have been. But they allowed themselves to be deceived, which betrays their real commitment (or lack thereof) to the issue.

Pro-lifers put more faith in Obama to keep his word than the Bushes

Here’s yet another article that insists Sonia Sotomayor is definitely pro-choice on the grounds that there’s no way Obama would appoint a nominee who might vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, speaking only over her vague “far left decisions”, dismissing the three pro-life decisions, and trusting in Obama’s staff.

One of the reasons for justices turning a different way than the presidents hope is inexperience and the different world of the Supreme Court. But another reason is that presidents’ staffers lie to them. The senator who was in charge of the search committee that picked Souter admitted that he lied to George H. W. Bush about Souter’s views.

Isn’t it possible that someone is lying to Obama about Sotomayor?

Meanwhile, Bill Donohue says he will “quietly root for her.”

One final thought on Notre Shame

I was particularly proud of this piece, and decided to try and get it published somewhere rather than just post it, but no one seemed interested, largely because, I think the topic seemed tapped out. However, there is a deeper spiritual symbolism in the Notre Dame graduation fiasco that I don’t think anyone else has addressed.

Two thousand years ago, a governor stood before the people he ruled, faced with a difficult choice. He knew in his heart the right thing to do, but he knew that decision would be unpopular and would risk his power. He appealed to the people.

“But they shouted all the louder, ‘Crucify him!’” (Mt 27:23)

We can imagine that not everyone in the crowd joined that cry. Surely, there were some in the crowd who called out, “Release Jesus!”

We like to imagine that, if we were there, we would have done differently.

In the beginning of Act II of Evita, right before “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina,” the crowds are cheering Juan and Eva Peron on the triumphal night of Peron’s inauguration as president. One voice offers a hint of dischord: “As a mere observer of this tasteless phenomenon–” observes the narrator “Che”. But he is stopped. Guards approach. He starts screaming with the crowd, to no avail, as he is carted off to jail. Throughout Act II, the crowds keep cheering as voices of opposition are quietly removed from the scene.

“Now, that Juan Peron,” said ‘Carl’ in a recent episode of The Simpsons, “When he disappeared you, you stayed disappeared.”

Sunday, May 17, 2009, saw perhaps the most significant encounter in the Culture Wars since the death of Terri Schiavo.

As President Barack Obama spoke at Notre Dame’s commencement, journalists report, one man in the audience called out, “Stop killing babies!”

As the man was removed by security in this Land of the Free, the crowd, much like that crowd during that first Good Friday, began chanting back the Obama campaign motto, “Yes, we can!”
“Yes we can kill babies,” the crowd of Catholics was saying. People who every year, presumably, reenact the Passion on Palm Sunday. People who sing “Were You There.” People who say, “ I don’t like having to yell ‘Crucify him.’ If I were there, I wouldn’t have said that.”

And there, on that afternoon, they had their moment and sided with Rome.

Meanwhile, unlike Juan Peron, Barack Obama did not need to “disappear” anyone: the media did it for him.

Reports say that the majority of graduates of this Catholic university were wearing Obama signs on their graduation caps; a few in the crowd wore pro-life symbols. There is no definite word on how many graduates simply boycotted, or attended the “alternative commencement,” but the news media did their best to misrepresent the number of protestors.

Articles in the “main stream media” are claiming that “only about 100” people showed up to protest, that the protest was practically non-existent. A column on Huffington Post contends that the event was a “victory for America,” insisting that the claims of protest were exaggerated.
Even ten years ago, had an event like this occurred, that would have been the official story. Those who watched EWTN, or subscribed to a magazine like Crisis or subscribed to some organization’s newsletter might have gotten more accurate numbers. However, back then, it was “he said/she said,” and the main stream media had the advantage. The New York Times was Gospel to some (and still is). Their wall of “credibility” in the popular psyche was impregnable.
If one dared offer evidence contrary to the official story, one was easily ignored or discredited as a “kook.”

Today, that’s not quite so easy. Thanks to blogs, and Twitter, and Facebook, people can communicate live on the scene. Many of the arrests that occurred this weekend at Notre Dame were documented almost instantly on the Internet—we’ve come a long way since Martin Luther King’s letter from the Birmingham Jail.

Online accounts from Jill Stanek, Eric Scheidler, Patrick Madrid and others say that over 1,000 people were gathered in the Notre Dame Grotto for the “alternative commencement” ceremony with Fr. Frank Pavone and Fr. John Corapi. Pictures show dozens of graduates gathered in cap and gown to hear Fr. Pavone. Jill Stanek took digital video to document the 2 miles of protestors lined up outside the university gates. Blogs claim perhaps another thousand gathered outside the grotto.

Yet, with all the protesting, there were relatively few arrests, and police were reportedly reluctant to arrest protestors (perhaps knowing the negative publicity that would ensue).
We study history, supposedly, to learn not to repeat the mistakes of the past. We read about the Nazis, and the Civil Rights Era, and slavery, and Rome. We watch films like Schindler’s List, Life is Beautiful and The Scarlet and the Black, and we wonder how people could be so blind to such a nefarious regime. We watch apocalyptic and science fiction films about scenarios where aliens, or robots, or our fellow humans manage to conquer the world by superficially doing good, offering a pleasant message, and having friendly newsmedia to propagandize. In each of these cases, we wonder “How could anyone be so blind?”

Yet, President Obama stood on the stage at Notre Dame and talked about “decency.” he talked about his alleged desire to “prevent” abortion. He managed to simultaneously preach about dialogue while silencing voices of opposition. The audience validated him. the media said, “See? He just wants everyone to get along.–Unlike the small number of anti-abortion extremists. . . .”
In spite of the words of approximately 80 bishops, including the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, and in spite of losing $14 million in alumni pledges, the administration of the University of Notre Dame feels it has won a great victory, validating 40 years of heterodoxy since Humanae Vitae and Land O’ Lakes. Barack Obama has gotten his message across to the people who wanted to hear it, anyway, but has entrenched his opposition even more. And pro-lifers have proven the power of the Internet in organizing a movement, and in getting a message out.

The question that remains is whether the truth about the protests on Sunday, May 17, will work its way out from grassroots Internet sources and filter into the popular mind or not. Indications are that, to some degree, it will. On that day, one of the top videos on YouTube was that of Fr. Norman Weslin being arrested.

Perhaps, decades from now, they will make a movie of this weekend (perhaps a musical?), and someone will ask, “How could they have ever allowed a Catholic priest to be arrested for saying the rosary at a Catholic university? If only I had been there. . . .”

How "desensitized’ are we?

This one of those “on my mind in general” thoughts, so I’m not sure where to start.

The George Tiller shooting is a good place. I just watched a video on the history of the Middle Ages that talked about how the Church initially condemned the crossbow as being “too lethal to be Christian”. Since the goal of legitimate self-defense should be to disable, rather than kill, an attacker, a weapon that is almost guaranteed to kill an attacker cannot be morally acceptable.

(Although one could argue that a precise weapon that can disable a person is better–so a gun or bow would be better than a sword in that you can aim for an arm or a leg).

Then there was the profound grief I felt when looking at the casts of Pompeii victims at the museum, which I blogged about last week.
Me on the way home: “I’m depressed.”
Mary: “Why?”
Me: “That poor little girl, killed in that volcano like that!”
Mary: “You really are a sensitive male. . . . “

Then there’s Star Trek, with its depiction of genocide that’s treated like, ‘ho-hum,’ and death of a major supporting character “before her time”. I mean, both are significant for Spock, and the plot, but the movie doesn’t seem to treat them with enough pathos or seriousness. I know the whole “in war, you don’t have time to stop and mourn” argument, but still . . .

I mean, while the story itself involves time travel, and, while the Enterprise crew haven’t “invented” time travel yet, Spock reveals other discoveries and facts.

Two previous films —Voyage Home and First Contact–were about the respective Enterprise crews going back in time to prevent the destruction of Earth. But suddenly, Vulcan gets blown up, in a film that already involves time travel, and there’s not even a consideration of “Can we go back in time and stop this from happening?” No. Suddenly, it’s, “Ah, well, those people will live on in a parallel universe. Let’s move on.”

Viewers praise the action packed movie that’s not “boring” like the typical Star Trek film, yet it also lacks the moral ponderings that make Star Trek what it is.

I really felt traumatized by the film, and a large part of that is not the violence that happened, but the way it was treated, in the context of the Trek “universe” and how similar events have been dealt with in previous shows and movies.

I mean, the destruction of Alderaan in Star Wars A New Hope is sometimes criticized for being too callous, but Alderaan is given a requiem Mass in the film compared to Vulcan in Star Trek (XI). At least we see Obi-Wan Kenobi, from a distant part of the Galaxy, talking about feeling “a great disturbance in the force,” “millions of voices suddenly silenced.”

Another inspiration for this thought process was an old one: in the direct to video film Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (critically regarded as one of the best “Batman” movies ever, along with several of the other Batman the Animated Series films, outranking all live action Batman films in critical praise except The Dark Knight), there’s this scene where a good deal of Gotham city is destroyed. The thought came back to me this weekend while doing some Batman research on Wikipedia.

Of course, that was at least in a PG rated animated movie. There is an episode of the old Sunbow Transformers series where the Decepticon Jets blow up an entire building (not to mention the one where they tear down NYC and rebuild it). I guess we’re just supposed to presume those buildings are empty.

Don’t get me wrong: I understand the cathartic purposes of fantasy violence. But I worry about the mentality create when we “distance” ourselves: when we treat the body of someone who died 2,000 years ago the same way we treat an animal fossil or an artifact, when we fail to have some compassion for the human being who died under horrible circumstances–even if those horrible circumstances happened so long ago.

We look at fictional images of mass destruction, and somehow we’re expected to have less emotional impact from those fictional deaths than we do from the fictional death of a “main character.”

When we say that 3,000 potential deaths from a possible terrorist attack outweigh the worth of one human being, who, if not being physically killed, is being spiritually killed by torture.

When we fail to see each and every person as a precious child of God, an immortal soul for whose salvation we should be praying.

Read C. S. Lewis’s “The Weight of Glory”:

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no “ordinary” people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.

Comments from pro-life leaders and Catholic bloggers on Facebook

Chris Slattery We pray for the family & soul of notorious Late term abortionist George Tiller, who was murdered in Witchita, KS this AM. I deplore this act

Fr. Zuhlsdorf Tiller’s death will bring persecution of pro-lifers

Fr. Zuhlsdorf is horrified by the murder of the infamous late-term abortionist Tiller. There will be horrific blowback agai…

Danielle Bean Oh, this is just horrible. Abortion doctor killed at church.

Domenico Bettinelli Shooting abortionists is doing the devil’s work. It only leads to crackdown on legitimate pro-lifers. Here comes FOCA. #prolife #tcot

Norma McCorvey I am so sorry that he is dead so sos sorry this counln’t have come at worst time for Life ~

Norma McCorvey I feel really bad that this has happened to him George Tiller wasn’t a friend to the children , but this is just not the way it should have ben handeled God rest his soul and Forgive him Father ~

Sandra Cano Murder is not right either on the unborn or abortionist so who ever did this to Tiller took a life which he had no right to do.What makes them any different.A life is life only God has the right to give and take.Pray Pray and then Pray

And it’s not from facebook but here’s from one of Tiller’s most direct adversaries:

Kansas’s former Attorney General Phil Kline, an anti-abortion crusader who
brought an unsuccessful prosecution against Tiller, denounced the murder this afternoon. “I am stunned by this lawless and violent act which must be condemned and should be met with the full force of law. We join in lifting prayer that God’s grace and presence rest with Dr. Tiller’s family and friends,” he said in a statement through a spokesman.