Monthly Archives: August 2009

The Performer, the Politician and the Priest: Funerals, Fanfare and Felonies

Michael  Jackson admitted to literally sleeping with boys in his bed.  Let’s take that action alone.

I’ve read numerous cases against priests where the primary accusation was sharing a bed.  There are lots of accusations made against priests for “merely sleeping” without any alleged sexual contact (of course, the convicted pedophiles on the VIRTUS video explain in great detail how they were able to get pleasured by children without the children even realizing what was gonig on).

So, again, as I noted at the time of the Michael Jackson sobfest, a Catholic priest who is merely *accused* of doing as much as Michael Jackson *admitted*, without ever being convicted, has his life destroyed.  But everyone is supposed to admire this man who was little more than a porn star because of how much he impacted our culture (hardly for the better, morally or culturally) and how much money he allegedly gave to charity.

OK.

Now, we have this case of another instrument of the Culture of Death, from the other direction, whose passing has opened up debates about how well the Church speaks its voice against the grave moral evils of our world, how well the Church speaks out against politicians who support those evils, and about how the dead are honored in general.  Many have suggested that the questions of eulogies, non-Catholics receiving Communion at funerals, etc. are so commonplace as to be unimportant.

I didn’t realize that there was a certain number of times a sin could be committed and then it ceased to be a sin!

These two stories converge in my mind in the case of a presumably holy priest who is suffering in canonical limbo, due to an unproven allegation.  If what most people assume is correct, that allegation stems from trying to safeguard authentic liturgy even at the expense of grieving family members.

The priest is Fr. Christopher Buckner of the Diocese of Arlington.   I mostly know Fr. Buckner by reputation.  I only met him once, in passing, attended a couple of his masses, and I think I confessed to him once.    He struck me as a very sincere, devout and holy priest.  In his farewell homily to the parishioners of St. Mary’s in Fredericksburg (the only homily I know for certain I heard), he gave a sincere apology for how his notorious temper had hurt some people.

Now, Fr. Buckner was the kind of priest one either loved or hated, and it depended upon where one stood in the culture wars.  If one stood on the Left side of the fence, or one sat on the “I’d rather not get involved” middle, Fr. Buckner was hated: hated by the Left for denouncing them; hated by the Middle for disturbing their “can’t we all just get along” mentality.

Interestingly, for a priest who was often accused of “driving people away,” Fr. Buckner managed to get a huge number of converts for RCIA classes every year–in part by simply advertising in the newspaper.  He was friends with many non-Catholics around Fredericksburg, perhaps friendlier with non-Catholics than members of his own parish.

He told my wife’s rabidly Democratic aunt that her Clinton/Gore bumper stickers were not welcome at his parish. 

One of my wife’s  best friends served altar with Fr. Buckner at a parish in Northern Virginia and always thought highly of him.  Indeed, having known Fr. Buckner mainly for his gruff reputation, Mary got another side one night, when she and a group of college friends were driving back to Williamsburg via Fredericksburg.  The aforementioned friend wanted to stop by St. Mary’s and see Fr. Buckner.  The prospect of knocking on the rectory door that late in the evening, particularly to the “infamous” Fr. Buckner, was daunting to Mary, but she was greeted by a whole other side of this priest.  He greeted them all warmly, served them snacks, and they had a great time.

After he left St. Mary’s, Fr. Buckner served as a professor at Catholic Distance University, and served as an assistant at a parish where another one of our friends attended.  She also thought highly of Fr. Buckner.

Fr. Buckner was also known for his youth pilgrimages to the Holy Land. 

We knew there were rumors–if nothing else that he was a bit too “touchy feely,” but they never seemed credible.  Having taken VIRTUS training, it is easy to see how Fr. Buckner *could* fit a certain MO (e.g., giving the appearance of virtue to most people, singling out the one victim, and the victim is not believed because of it).

Well, in May 2007, Arlington was rocked with Bishop Paul Loverde–who has a long history of silencing or otherwise disciplining outspokenly orthodox priests–announced the suspension of Fr. Buckner.

This carried with it a couple implications.  First, we *had* heard the rumor that his transfer in 2000 was due to allegations made by some former altar boys, so, on the surface, this seemed to prove those allegations.  However, Loverde had said, in reference to the Fr. Haley/Fr. Hamilton  situation in 2002, that Arlington had *always* had a zero tolerance policy with abuse accusations.  If the rumors we’d heard in 2000 were true, then that proves Loverde lied in his statements denouncing Fr. Haley (of course, Loverde did lie about Fr. Haley in other ways, too). 

In any case, all the diocese of Arlington ever officially said was that Fr. Buckner had been accused of “inappropriate conduct with a minor.” 

The date given was between 1992 and 1994.  Now, one of the reasons Fr. Buckner’s temper was so notorious, and why this relates to the recent debacle in Boston, is that there was, shortly after he arrived at St. Mary’s, a controversy regarding a funeral.

The family wanted a song sung at the funeral, and Fr. Buckner didn’t want secular music.  So the family defied him, and the decedent’s son sang the song anyway, and, after the Mass, Fr. Buckner allegedly cussed the kid out.

Now, I’ve been on both sides of this issue over the years, as my own view of liturgy has evolved.  So, I’m inclined to see both sides on this, if not lean towards the family.  But does speak volumes to the mentality that we should let anything go at a Catholic funeral, from crazy music selections to eulogies (which are explicitly forbidden by canon law) to sacrilegious communions just out of compassion for the grieving families.

OK, so, back to  the accusation.   When the accusation came out, most people who knew anything at all about Fr. Buckner and the parish, etc., figured it was probably from that incident.

The Diocese kept the accusation vaguee.  To date, more than 2 years later ,there have not been any charges filed against Fr. Buckner.  There has been no civil trial.  No criminal trial.  No canonical trial.  There hasn’t been any word about where Fr. Buckner is.  He’s just in canonical limbo, suspended as a priest, without any due process.

My mother in law told us that, shortly after the suspension, they brough this whole investigative crew to St. Mary’s.  They were told the people would be there for 4 weeks investigating the case against Fr. Buckner.  It was a regular witch hunt, and they summoned people in trying to dig up dirt.

And they couldn’t find any.

They left in less than two weeks because no one was able to corroborate anything, and no one was willing to denounce Fr. Buckner.

There was no evidence.

So, there you have it, folks.

1.  Rich celebrity accused of various accusations by teenaged boys.  Gets off scott free.  Admits to sleeping with them.  People excuse him and say what a great “artist” he was.

2.  Rich politician flaunts his defiance against God his whole life.  May or may not have repented on his deathbed (which is really irrelevant).  Certainly never publicly renounced his public heresies and public scandals.  Got a big to-do of a funeral, replete with numerous liturgical abuses, including a non-Catholic pro-abortion president delivering a eulogy. 

3.  Mostly holy priest with a bad temper, who tries to do what’s right and teach others to practice heroic virtue, lets his temper get the better of him in regard to a possible liturgical abuse at a funeral.  Has an unproven allegation made against him–perhaps stemming from that incident or perhaps unrelated–and even though he has brought numerous converts to the Catholic faith, even though he has, in giving people the sacraments, done infinitely more good than every entertainer and politician put together, this priest languages in a state of canonical suspension, with barely a mention in the media.

The salvation of a single soul through sacramental grace is worth more than all the money in the world, especially since money is worth nothing.

If even our bishops and the Vatican newspaper say that the alleged good works of Michael Jackson and Ted Kennedy warrant them our respect and admiration, then shouldn’t the good works of Fr. Christopher Buckner and Fr. James Haley warrant even more respect and admiration?

Shouldn’t these two holy priests–one suspended for an unproven allegation, the other suspended for making proven allegations–get the same kind of “pass” as Ted Kennedy?

Is not a single Host of infinite worth and importance?  Is not a single Mass of infinite worth and importance?

The dangers of civility

Today’s Gospel reading is the story of how the Pharisees condemned Jesus and His disciples for not washing their hands . This is a  common motif in the Gospels, which people conveniently ignore in their attempts at being as worldly as possible.  Martha condemns Mary for for making a nice dinner setting.  The Pharisees condemn the Apostles for not washing their hands.

Civility is often the enemy of the spiritual life, more than its friend.  Certainly, there are parallels between good manners and good morals.  Certainly,  human respect can aid virtue if it is one more thing to shame us out of commiting at least certain kinds of sin.

But, more often than not, civility is just what the Devil uses to cover up his tracks.

Somewhere, my kids picked up the idea, when playing, that there are “evil people” and there are “nice people.”  I’m constantly trying to point out, when I hear them say that, that evil people often appear nice, and goodness often is not “nice.”

“Nice” people don’t  like what’s unpleasant.  That may be the exposure of the festering wounds of sin, or that may be the exposure of the festering wounds of the body.  They don’t like being around those who are odd-looking, or different, or challenging. 

Flannery O’Connor’s stories are all about how the civility and manners of “nice, decent” people both disguise their sins and impede them from pursuing heroic virtue.  She forces them into dramatic situations where they are forced to face the unpleasant head-on, and then they have to deal with that somehow.  In doing that, she forces her readers to face the same situation, and her “nice, decent” readers often balk at the unpleasantness of her stories.

Yet O’Connor forces us to look right at the unpleasnat in the eye, and then points us to the Desert Fathers, who understood the truth of Matthew 11:12. 

One of her favorite passages, quoted prominently in one of her later stories, was the following letter of St. Jerome:

Pampered soldier, why are you wasting time in your father’s house? Where is the rampart, the ditch, the winter campaign under canvas? Behold the trumpet sounds from heaven! Our General, fully armed, comes amid the clouds to overcome the world. From our King’s mouth comes the double-edged sword that cuts down all in its path. Are you going to remain in your chamber and not come out to join in the battle? . . . Listen to your King’s proclamation: “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.”

0 desert, green with the flowers of Christ! 0 solitude in which the stones of the Great City of the King mentioned in the Apocalypse are found! 0 wilderness rejoicing in the presence of God! Brother, what are you doing in the world when you are so much more important than the world? How long are the shadows of a roof going to hold you back? How long will the smoky dungeon of these cities imprison you? . . . How refreshing to fling off the burdens of the flesh and fly to the sparkling aether? . . . You are spoiled indeed, dear friend, if you wish to rejoice here on earth–and afterwards reign with Christ!

To whom did St. Jerome direct these harsh, judgemental words?  To a pro-abortion politician?  To a  bishop who gave solace to such a politician?  No.  He gave them to a fellow hermit who accepted a position as a bishop in the city. 

The saints understood that the way of salvation is harsh and difficult.  They understand that, as St. Teresa of Avila puts it, this life is like a night in a bad hotel room, and the most pleasant things the world offers are nothing compared to the next life.

But even those who have “made themselves eunuchs” for the Gospel still cling to human respect.  They wine and dine with those who do the work of the enemy.  They say, “Well, Jesus dined with tax collectors and sinners.”
Yes, He dined with tax collectors and sinners who repented, though He often dined with Pharissees as well, in order to debate with them. 

When bishops, pundits and politicians talk of their “friendships” with pro-abortion politicians and celebrities, and cite Jesus dining with sinners to endorse those friendships, have they put those friendships above their responsibility to Truth?  Have they really tried to change the minds of those pro-abortion and pro-contraception people? 

When a Catholic politician dumps his wife for a younger model and wants an annulment, does any prelate dare stand against him the way the Holy Father stood against Henry VIII?  Or do they just give a rubber-stamp annulment–the way they do for other laity these days–for some reason not much better than “irreconcilable differences,” totally degrading the importance of marriage? 

Do they make any efforts at getting those politicians to reconcile with their wives?  Heck, to they make any efforts at saving Catholic marriages these days?

Or do they do the “civil” thing and avoid controversy, especially when the controversy could cost them thousands of dollars in donations?

Civility says there are things you don’t talk about in polite company.  Instead ,those most important of  subjects, get conveniently avoided, and those who *would* talk about them, those who *would* try to challenge the behavior of others are challenged for violating the rules of “civility.”

“This man’s spiritual power has been precisely this, that he has distinguished between custom and creed. He has broken the conventions, but he has kept the commandments”

–GK Chesterton

Allie the Republican

Driving to Adoration last night, I commented to Allie that we hadn’t seen The Donut Man in a long time. 

She said, “EWTN keeps cancelling all my favorite shows.  I wonder why that is. . . . . I have an idea!”  She shifts to a growling whisper, “I bet it has to do with our new president!  He’s making them get rid of all the shows CCD teachers can really use.  First, it was Storykeepers, then The Donut Man.  What’s next?  Truth in the Heart?”

Are you a hamartiaphile?

Well, this week, one way or the other, the Catholic Church in America has lost both a supreme embarrassment and a great hero.  Which one is which depends upon which side of the Culture Wars you’re on.

Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton is apparently getting ready to formally announce his resignation at the age of 63.  Reasons as yet are unclear, but it is a tragedy to lose such a stalwart defender of orthodoxy and the right to life. 

Sadly, this has given great rejoicing to the kinds of Catholics who say Ted Kennedy made them “proud to be Catholic” yet call Patrick Madridhateful

More on the Kennedys and the Catholics who worship them as false idols later.

But, reading someone on National Catholic Reporter’s blog call Martino a “homophobe”, especially amidst all the discussion how we should not “judge” Ted Kennedy, and “we are all sinners,” etc., I really got to thinking.

From now on, when liberals call us “bigots” and “homophobes,” we should start calling them hamartiaphiles.

“What?” you ask?

Well, I looked it up, and “hamartia” is apparently the transliteration of the Greek word for “sin.” 

 First, there’s the old issue of the grammatical idiocy of the term “homophobia,” which literally means “fear of self.” 

If we take the spiritual advice of St. Augustine, whose feast we celebrate today, fear of self is a good thing, so homophobia, literally taken, is sound advice 🙂

The fact that I do happen to fear homosexuals does not have any effect on my view of the morality of what they do.  I don’t particularly fear people who use contraception, but I still believe that those who use contraception use their spouses as prostitutes.

No.  But the Left could very easily be accuesd of hamartiaphilia, the love of sin.  The Left takes “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” and then leaves out the part about “Go and sin no more.”

They may try to say they just want to end discrimination against homosexuals (even though Casti Connubii teaches that homosexuals *should* be discriminated against).  They may say they just want to protect women’s “freedom of choice” or to help women in desperate situations.  But by saying these things they are still implying that homosexual behavior and abortion are good, or at least morally neutral, acts, acts which can be licitly performed under certain circumstances.

In any case, the “i’m a sinner too” argument ignores the many teachings in the New Testament that call for admonishment of sinners, which is also taught by the Church to be a Spiritual Work of Mercy.  Read the letters of St. Paul and then compare them to the average “orthodox” Catholic blog.  If St. Paul were alive today, the folks at NCR, Commonweal or America would likely call him a “homophobe,” a “bigot,” a “hater,” and “out of touch” with “the rest of the  Church” (indeed, I’m sure many of them do). 

And that’s just St. Paul, who’s kind of wishy-washy and softspoken compared to Peter, John, Jude and James.

There is a difference between outright heresy and private sin.

There is a difference between public scandal and private sin.

There is also a difference between repeatedly, privately sinning and always repenting and trying better, on the one hand, and insisting no one can do better, on the other.

The thing about the Left is that they don’t want to demand a higher standard, because they love their sins.  Liberal A may not personally be guilty of abortion or homosexuality, but he may be guilty of contraception or divorce or adultery or swearing or engaging in unnecessary business on Sunday.  And he *likes* doing it.  He likes using and dumping women, relegating prayer to God to last-place status in his life and/or praying to Satan with every other sentence.

It isn’t a sense of guilt behind, “We are all sinners” but a sense of solidarity with the drug addicts, homosexuals and abortionists, which motivates the Catholic who votes Democrat.

“Hide Me In Your Wounds”

Here it is.  I’ve been dropping hints, and mentioning it directly, and now it’s here.  Hide Me In Your Wounds: Daily Prayer with the Saints, the debut CD of J.C. Hathaway Productions (previously the name I’ve put on my taxes for my business of freelance writing and occasional PR contracting) is now available for sale through Amazon.com and its subsidiary, CreateSpace.

The CD can be purchased for $14 + s&h through Amazon or through my personal link (please use this one if you want to buy the CD).  The album can also be purchased as an MP3 download at this link

I call this my “get middle class quick” scheme.  It would be cool to have some kind of oustanding bestseller, but even a few hundred sales will net me more than I can make teaching college.  Even mild success will bring in enough income to justify dedicating more solid time to writing and/or music, and, now that I know about CreateSpace, I’m going to be doing more works for self-publication.

After years of struggle, barely breaking even month to month, job hunting unssuccessfully because of my disability, etc., this could be my big break, and I am grateful for your support and prayers both leading up to this moment and moving forward.

The genesis of this idea goes back to when I was commuting from Fredericksburg to Springfield, VA, and working for Strayer University online.  I would drive at least 45 minutes a day, and it got pretty mindless.  One day, I’d listen to *nothing*, and just think.  This carried with it the problem of lots of great thoughts and no place to record them.

Early on, I ruled out listening to Rush Limbaugh (I worked the 1 o’clock shift), because it didn’t put me in the right mood to go sit listening to a bunch of liberals talking about their sexual lives and perversions or what they’d heard on _Oprah_. 

I’d play a Rosary CD, but that tended to make me sleepy.

One of my favorite things was listening to Fr. Corapi talks, but those get old after one or two listens, and I couldn’t just keep buying Fr. Corapi DVDs.

Listening to music kept me awake, but wasn’t very prayerful.

So I started to wish for recordings of shorter prayers, as opposed to the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet, that I could put into MP3 format and intermix with a music playlist.

Plus, I have a whole collection of daily prayer books that I only really use a few prayers out of, and I’ve always wanted to make my own compilation of my favorite devotions, something that I could carry around and have easy access to. 

Those ideas sent me searching for years for such a CD, to no avail.  There are a lot of prayers on the Net in MP3 format, but not really a collection, and definitely not many of the devotions I’ve compiled here. 

During the second half of 2008, we did a lot of house hunting, unsuccessfully.  In December, we looked at a house we really liked, but it was at the top of our price range, and had a few issues.  But it had several cool features, including a separate building that was outfitted as a recording studio.  (It’s still on the market, only for $40K less–anonymous benefactors, take note.) Got me thinking about such a home studio, even if we didn’t buy that house.

Then I got laid off by the college I was teaching for, and decided to dedicate time to writing while I collected unemployment and looked for a new job.  In April, I looked into CreateSpace.  All those things came together.  After trying a couple different ways of recording, I purchased a digital USB microphone and began recording prayers. 

By the end of May I had most of what I wanted for the album, but I was hoping for some supplemental recordings.  I contacted the office of the new bishop of Charleston, the Most Rev. Robert Guglielmone, asking about procedures to get official approval for my compilation.  He replied that he’d be in Columbia the next week, and asked me to drop my materials off at St. Joseph’s.  So I dropped off a draft CD with a letter explaining the whole project, the selections, etc.  The following Tuesday morning, I met with him.  He hadn’t listened to the whole thing, but he liked what he heard and read, and, as he spends a lot of time in his car and owns several rosary CDs himself, he liked the basic idea.  He said that, if I wanted an official Nihil Obstat, I should give the final CD to a local priest for a letter, but he didn’t think it was necessary.  I noted that there is a rule somewhere that any compilation of prayers needs approval of the local bishop, and he said, “Well, you’ve got that.”  And he asked me to give him a copy when it was ready.  (He’s coming to town this week, and I hope to have the chance to do that then).

So, it’s been nearly 3 months since then, putting the finishing touches on the CD, fixing some of the quality on some of the recordings, and then going through the process with CreateSpace, getting the CD proofed, while I did things like designing the cover and booklet.  So, here it is! 

How fitting that it should all come live on the feast of St. Louis the King, one of the patrons of this site, and of course the patron of my personal intercesor in Heaven, “Little Lew,” as well as the co-patron (with Catherine of Siena) of all Third Order Catholics (regardless of Order).

CroppedCDBookletOutsideImage

There are rumors circulating on the net that Michelle Obama’s mother may be practicing witchcraft in the White House, and that Barack, citing his alleged Christian beliefs and anticipating controversy, has told her to stop.

Mary points out that Yahoo, often has headlines that are fairly controversial, particularly with a conservative slant, and then disappear.  I saw the article as a yahoo headline.  A couple blogs picked it up.  When I did a google search, there were several hits, and all the sites had been taken down.  Several of the hits were satirical, so that may have been the origin.

In any case, it is only fair to point out that, while it’s not inconceivable that Marian Robinson may be practicing some form of voodoo or santeria or whatever, we know her son-in-law is definitely a practicing New Ager.

Let’s not forget that Nancy Reagan consulted an astrologer in the White House.  George H. W. Bush’s “nickname” in Skull & Bones (the secret society at Yale that has produced  a disproportionate number of presidents, Supreme Court Justices and other highly influential Americans) was “Magog.”

Let’s remember: most of the “Founding Fathers” were members of the Freemasons.  The Freemasons adopt the Gnostic belief that there were two Gods in the old Testament, embodied in what “modern Scripture Scholars” call the “Elohist source” and the “Yahwehist Source.”

The “modern Scripture scholar” side of it has that there are two parallel narratives in the Old Testament, explaining things like the two “Creation Accounts” and other redundant stories in the Pentateuch, or Chronicles versus Samuel/Kings, etc.  The story goes that one “tradition” likes to refer to God using the Tetragrammaton YHWH, while the other uses the generic Hebrew name for  God, Elohim.  It would be the equivalent of one Greek writer telling a story about “Zeus” while another Greek writer told a parallel but different story about “Theos.”  In any case, some modern Scripture scholars go so far as to say the accoutns, which sometimes differ in God’s “personality,” are talking about two different gods altogether.

The Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, similarly believe in a kind of Dualistic reading of the Bible.  In both those religions, Jesus and Satan were brothers.  The Witnesses teach that St. Michael = Jesus. Interestingly, Joseph Smith had Masonic ties. 

I’ve read testimonies from those who’ve been involved in varying degrees with Masonry and the Shriners.  Many think the Shriners are the more “harmless” aspect of the Masons because they do those nice parades and children’s charities and hospitals and stuff, but the Shriners are, in fact, some of the most deeply involved Masons.  Shriners, like all Masons, worship Lucifer.

They exalt the Pyramids, the Tower of Babel, and other ancient “achievements.”  The whole reason they are called Freemasons is that they believe in what man can build without God’s assistance.  This, again is why the Church condemnd freemasonry to begin with: it advocates human achievement without God, human alliance without concern for religious differences, charity without Christ.

Meanwhile, the word Gnosticism, of course, comes from the Greek Gnosis, “knowledge.”  The Gnostics believed there was secret knowledge that a select few could have and the rest of the public remained ignorant.  Of course, a lot of people think that.  Averroneans think that.  Platonists think that.  Atheists like Myers, Dawkins and Hitchens think that. 

What makes Gnosticism different is that the knowledge in question is basically what we now call, collectively, “magic” (although many of the terms we now use as synonymous had different meanings originally).  Gnosticism arose of out Babylonian mystery cults, and, as the ideology moved through the ancient Near East and Mediterranean, it would co-opt the literature and religion of each local culture. 

So the Gnostics also saw the Old Testament as a story of two Gods, and they saw the true “good” God as Lucifer, who was trying to provide humanity with the knowledge that the evil Yahweh was denying.

Our founding fathers were, mostly Masons.  Jefferson expressed the hope that America’s separation of Church and State–which he said should be a “Wall”–would one day lead to everyone being Unitarian.

Many of our national images are masonic.  Most of the monuments in DC are Masonic in design.  The dollar bill has the masonic symbol of the eye at the top of a pyramid on it.

Many Conservatives make a big deal about “in God we Trust” on our money.  I don’t.   The God the money is referring to is not the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Blessed Trinity.  The God it is referring to is the God of Masonry. 

Now, let’s get to the whole New Age Thing: Oprah, Deepak Chopra and all the other gurus love him.

I’ve cited those quotes many times here.  Obama sees Jesus as “one of many” great religious leaders. He says his idea of heaven is tucking his daughters in.  He says his idea of prayer is silently thinking about how to solve a problem.

His religious view is centered on him. It’s amorphous.  He is a Christian, by his own admission, only in a kind of a cultural African American way, but he has “problems” with many Christian teachings. 

Long story short, it doesn’t really matter whether the Freemasons are one united group taking over the world or just a bunch of people who share simiarlly flawed beliefs, or a bunch of groups of people who are not united but share similarly flawed beliefs.  It also doesn’t matter if all presidents have been specifically members of the Masons, though they all come from similar backgrounds.  It is more realistic to acknowledge that there are multiple behind-the-scenes power structures manipulating American politics.

But, from the political side, representative democracy is a sham, and, from the religious side, we have a system which encourages ambitious people to pursue power ambitiously, and that leads directly down, to borrow  a phrase, “The path to the Dark Side.”  Satan is the prince of this world.  Yes, Jesus won the battle on the Cross.  Yes, God is in control.  But Jesus still makes it clear who the Enemy is, and that the Enemy has the reigns as far as this world goes, that the Kingdom of God, in this life, only exists in the heart of the individual believer.

I don’t believe a good person has any hope of political advancement in our society, and I believe a few near-exceptions to the rule prove it.  You may manage to get a cable TV talk show, or a seat in the House, or a state-level positoin.  Some good people may even get into advisory or cabinet level jobs.  But a good Senator is hard to find (Santorum anyone?  Brownback?) and a good president or Supreme Court Justice is harder (Scalia?)

You don’t obtain that kind of power from nothing unless you’re either 100% saintly (and that would preclude pursuit of worldly power) or else you’re working for the one who grants worldly power. 

We don’t need rumors about Marian Robinson and Santeria to tell us that.

Obama’s Mentor, Saul Alinksy, said the first “Radical” was Satan

David Horowitz on Saul Alinksy

Here’s what Sarah Palin Actually *said* about “Death Panels”

OK.  So Obama has created the talking point over the past several days that has led many, even many the right, to disparage Sarah Palin’s “death panels” comment as being over-the-top, inaccurate, etc. 

As I’ve discussed in several recent posts, the Liberals have based their claim of inaccuracy on the idea that Palin is talking about “end of life” care counseling.  I have speculated, having not read the actual speech till just now, that she wasn’t even talking about that, and she wasn’t.  Even if she *were*, as I’ve previously discussed, end of life care, as they call it, goes against Christian principles.

But Palin was not talking about that. She was talking about the standards for “triage” and health care rationing.  Here’s the text:

As more Americans delve into the disturbing details of the nationalized health care plan that the current administration is rushing through Congress, our collective jaw is dropping, and we’re saying not just no, but hell no!

The Democrats promise that a government health care system will reduce the cost of health care, but as the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost. And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

Health care by definition involves life and death decisions. Human rights and human dignity must be at the center of any health care discussion.

Rep. Michele Bachmann highlighted the Orwellian thinking of the president’s health care advisor, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the brother of the White House chief of staff, in a floor speech to the House of Representatives. I commend her for being a voice for the most precious members of our society, our children and our seniors.

We must step up and engage in this most crucial debate. Nationalizing our health care system is a point of no return for government interference in the lives of its citizens. If we go down this path, there will be no turning back. Ronald Reagan once wrote, “Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.” Let’s stop and think and make our voices heard before it’s too late.

Where in the speech does she say anything about forced euthanasia?  She is talking about denial of services to those who are deemed unworthy, something that Rahm Emmanuel, Tom Daschle and others have all advocated.
Health care by definition involves life and death decisions. Human rights and human dignity must be at the center of any health care discussion.

Rep. Michele Bachmann highlighted the Orwellian thinking of the president’s health care advisor, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the brother of the White House chief of staff, in a floor speech to the House of Representatives. I commend her for being a voice for the most precious members of our society, our children and our seniors.

We must step up and engage in this most crucial debate. Nationalizing our health care system is a point of no return for government interference in the lives of its citizens. If we go down this path, there will be no turning back. Ronald Reagan once wrote, “Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.” Let’s stop and think and make our voices heard before it’s too late.

Here’s an article on what Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, Rahm’s brother, advocates in terms of health rationing.

Some blogs are suggesting that Palin’s speech was inaccurate because such “death panels” are not in the Bill.  But they *were* in the Bill and were struck down.  Either way, as I said in my last post, it’s the slippery slope.  Why do we want to open the door to these people to allow it? 

One of the things we’re told about the alleged evil of insurance companies is about denial of services to those who need them most.  Does anyone really think the government is that altruistic????  Does anyone really think the government will do better?  Does anyone really think that, when Medicare and Medicaid already have absurd rules for what services they’ll pay for, that a new government insurance plan will be any better?

I have been online since 1997.  I’ve been on message boards, listserves, blogs, Facebook, etc.  I’ve argued these issues time and again with people.  I know my view is an unpopular one with most people, including may self-styled conservatives and many self-styled Catholics.

This is why I know we need Sarah Palin in the public square . We need someone who is a voice against the attitudes about the disabled and those who have genetic disorders, etc. 

I know what it is to grow up in pain, knowing that death is always potentially around the corner.

I know what it is to be ridiculed for being different.

I know what it is to be told that I’m not worthy of being alive. 

I know that liberals and many who call themselves conservatives take it as a given that it is cruel to “knowingly” allow a child to be born with a genetic disorder.  Most people presume that people with genetic disorders should never reproduce, and that people who get in utero diagnoses of genetic defects should have abortions. 

This is how they think.  It’s not just my experience from one or two conversations.  It’s what I’ve heard from every liberal I’ve ever argued with, and from many a yuppie graduate of Franciscan University or Christendom College (though they cover up their eugenicist mentality with perpetual continence or NFP). 

They say these things.  Their “experts” say these things.  The countries that already have government-run health care do these things or are working towards them.  Then, when we call them on it, they say we’re lying!

Here’s a piece on Peter Singer’s contribution to the Death Panel debate.

Here’s a piece on Obama’s appeals to “faith based” Groups to win support for socialism and to redirect the debate on health rationing.

Here’s an article by a disabiltiy group that agrees with Sarah.

Here’s a Wall Street Journal piece on how rationing is central to Obamacare (HT Below the Beltway)

Here’s an article about GE’s role in promoting health rationing.

Here’s an article about how the death panel already exists: it’s the “Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research,” which was part of the “stimulus” bill. 

According to George Will, the draft report on the so-called stimulus bill states the CER will identify medical “items, procedures, and interventions” that it deems insufficiently effective or excessively expensive. They “will no longer be prescribed” by federal health programs.

This is especially ironic, since one of the original purposes of the federal government getting involved in medical research was the Orphan Drug Act: federally funding research deemed to be too commercially unviable.

Here’s a blog piece from July which points to the rationing provisions in the House plan.

It’s Coming . . .

Simon Cowell says, “What’s your dream, John?  Who do you want to be?”
I say, “George Lucas,  Andrew Lloyd Webber or Jim Henson.”

In the midst of my various “careers” I’ve imagined myself getting into since I was 5 — detective, elementary teacher, high school teacher, medical researcher, priest, college teacher, writer, artist, musician — there has been one thing that I’ve always really wanted.

And that is embodied in the Sydmonton Festival, Skywalker Ranch and Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.

Andrew Lloyd Webber, like Richard Wagner before him, is as much a financial genius as a creative genius.  Early in his career, he founded his own production company–the Really Useful Group (named for his lifelong love for the _Thomas The Tank Engine_ books and his hopes of getting involved in the then-planned cartoon series).  He bought a renaissance estate called Sydmonton and began renovating it.  Starting in the late 1970s, he began hosting an annual arts festival there.  At Sydmonton, he produces sample productions of the musicals he’s currently working on. 

At Sydmonton in 1980, Andrew Lloyd Webber played the piano and sang to a previously unpublished T. S. Eliot poem, “Pollicle Dogs and Jellicle Cats”–the melody based upon the poem, and a few of its lines, would make it into Cats, but the song itself would be rewritten and never heard until the Now and Forever box set over 20 years later.  At Sydmonton, Colm Wilkinson was the second “Phantom” opposite Sarah Brightman (following rocker Steve Harley in the single and music video of the title song), six months before Michael Crawford officially created the role in London.  At Sydmonton in 1993, Patti Lupone wowed the select audience as Norma Desmond months before audiences saw her in the West End.

At the Sydmonton Festival, Andrew Lloyd Webber showcases his works-in-progress, his art collection and other promising artistic, musical and theatrical works that interest him. 

Andrew Lloyd Webber once made a bet with his brother over the Soccer finals and wrote Variations as a result.  He planned an opera in tribute to Puccini and played the melody he wrote for that opera for his father.  His father said of that melody, “It sounds like a million dollars.” 

William Lloyd Webber was wrong on that one.  “Memory” has probably been a billion-dollar industry unto itself.  They say there was a point in the mid-80s when it could statistically be heard playing at every minute on the radio at some point in the United States. 

And what did Lloyd Webber due with his success from Cats?  He said, “I’m rich enough to do whatever I want.  I think I’ll write a Requiem Mass.”

Now he’s a reknowned food and architecture critic, theatrical producer, theater and real estate magnate and, film producer, television producer and reality host, and even the license holder to a number of classic musicals he didn’t write. 

Then there’s George Lucas, whose talent as a visionary lies more in his understanding of business and technology than his talent as a director.  A successful college film turned into a mildly successful and critically acclaimed theatrical film (the THX thing), then a successful and critically acclaimed film (American Graffiti), and then a multi-film contract that gave us the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises.   And, while making Star Wars, Lucas had two brilliant ideas:

1.  No one in Hollywood could make the special effects he envisioned, so he started his own special effects firm.  And no one can doubt the influence of Industrial Light and Magic, which makes the special effects for like every blockbuster out there.  And then there’s that uppity little spin-off of ILM, later bought by Steve Jobs, called Pixar.

2.  Lucas had his studio contract.  And movie licensing existed.  But it was, at the time, not that big a deal.  Lucas, the visionary, negotiated with Fox to give him the rights to the sales of licensed products and the soundtrack.  Fox, thinking “ha, that’s chicken feed” gave him those rights, around the same time as Xerox and IBM and HP and AT&T were laughing at Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

Of course, we all know that a big part of Star Wars is its tremendous soundtrack and the vast toy merchandising.  Star Wars redefined movie marketing, soundtracks, sequels, and even the entire toy industry.  There would be no G I Joe, Transformers or Masters of the Universe, Ninja Turtles, Batman (toys), etc., without Star Wars. 

Years later, Lucas bought a big ranch and named it Skywalker Ranch.  I’ve always loved the description of it in articles: a dusty “dude ranch” on the outside, with old-fashoined western buildings and such.  Then, on the inside, the most state-of-the-art technological facilities you could imagine, housing the LucasArts video game company, the Skywalker Sound recording studio, the THX surround sound headquarters, and the ILM offices, decorated with works of fine art all around.

One of my dreams is to one day own my own Catholic version of Skywalker Ranch: a place where technology, nature, creativity and faith meet.

One of my dreams is to someday host my own variation on the Sydmonton festival. 

My dream is to be like Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jim Henson and George Lucas: free to just create what I want to create, and not necessarily to be pigeonholed to one particular genre or medium or style.

The trick has always been, of course, to generate the income to get that cycle going, to get that “big break.”  The Internet has provided vast opportunities for self-publishing and self-marketing.  As I’ve learned more and more about these, I’ve prayed for the opportunity to finally realize my dream. 

Then, in January, I lost both my teaching jobs, but I was eligible for unemployment benefits.  I had the money to pay the bills, no job to do, and no classes to take.  So I threw myself into writing, and into trying to up the quality and readership of this blog, while I looked for the right moment.  I submitted articles to various places, getting one successfully published.

Then I thought about self-published recordings.  I discovered Amazon.com’s CreateSpace service. I did a bit of research on home recording and equipment.  I bought myself a digital USB microphone.  And I recorded a 72 minute audio book.

C. S. Lewis said he wrote the books he always wanted to read, and I recorded the audiobook I’ve always wanted to listen to–or at least since I used to drive a minimal 45 minute commute every day from Fredericksburg to Springfield, VA, and wished I could pray all those daily devotions I liked from diverse prayer books while I drove. 

The more I’ve gotten into MP3s, and have downloaded various free MP3s online, and purchased various Rosary and Divine Mercy CDs, Fr. Corapi DVDs, etc., I’ve wished I could find a collection of short prayers that I could intermix with music: like when you’re driving a long trip, and you want to pray, but the rosary or the reflection CD is too relaxing and makes you fall asleep, but you don’t want to just listen to music either.  Something I could intermix with a music playlist.

Well, I’ve made that CD.  It’s called Hide Me in Your Wounds, and, very shortly, it will be availalbe for sale on Amazon.com and Create Space.  You can purchase it as a direct download, or you can order the CD from my page.  I will be placing an ad on the side bar of this blog very soon. 

I’m waitng for Amazon to ship me my “proof copy”, and, as soon as I approve it, it will be live for sale on Amazon.com, Target.com and my personal store (note: I get a better royalty if you purchase it from my store, but I also recommend you just purchase the MP3 format).

Here is the direct link

Please consider purchasing a copy.  I will be sharing more details as the release date gets closer.  I have both mild and wild expectations for this CD, but if even the mild expectations are met, it will provide me with sufficient income to focus more on creating my next work for self-publication. 🙂

Why should we *trust* them??

Liberals say conservatives are telling lies and rumors about their wonderful “health care” plan, even though what we’re saying is based upon what the plan says, and what Obama’s advisors and Democratic congressmen and Obama himself have said in various speeches.

Most importantly, our concerns are based upon our familiarity with how the Federal Government and the Democrats work.

They don’t just stick the from in the pot of cold water, they stick the frog in the pot of cold water and tell him it’s for his own good.  They tell him the water is cleaner than the pond and that the metal walls will keep him safe from predators.

They actually coax the frog to jump *into* the pot of cold water.  The convince him the lid’s for his own good, to keep him safe, and that, when the lid’s down, it will keep the flies in and easy to catch.

And the stupid frog believes them and hops in, and let’s them put the lid on his head, and then they turn the heat on.

That’s how they do it.  They did it with education.  And once the Republicans got back in, promising to abolish the newly formed Department of Education, they saw the Department of Education as a tool for their own power, and just expanded it, till we went from Carter to Reagan to Dubya’s NCLB.

They did it with abortion and contracption.  I challenge anyone who thinks legalized abortion or contraception is OK, or anyone who trusts the Democrats or the Republicans, to actually read NSSM-200.  I’ve blogged about it on this site, including links and quotations.  It’s all in there: using “Choice” as the buzzword to make the people accept the government’s imperialist agenda of population control; getting the American public to overcome their moral objections to abortion and contraception so they’ll support the government forcing these things on other countries.

These are not lies or conspiracy theories.  These are official USAID policies established in this document.  Read it.

They did it with “sex education.”  About 15 years ago, Jocelyn Elders was controversial for saying there should be sex ed. in Kindergarten.  Now it’s widely promoted in the name of “protecting” kids from sexual predators.

They did it with the Bill of Rights.  Has Obama gotten rid of waterboarding?  Has he voluntarily declined any of the special powers Bush arrogated to himself?

Can  anyone name one area where the Democrats, or the federal government, have proven trustworthy?

One area where, once they’ve taken power, they’ve voluntarily relinquished it?

One area where, once they’ve got their foot in the door, they haven’t pushed the door open and taken over the house?

Everyone’s talking about the conservative blogs: what about the liberal blogs that say Obama isn’t going far enough?

Starving someone to death is not “end of life care”

I’m sick of the lying.  Yesterday, Barack Obama, in a conference call to sympathetic religious leaders, accused his enemies of “bearing false witness” against his socialist health care plan.  The Democrat shills at Yahoo and the AP keep trying to “debunk” the “myths” about “Health Care Reform.” 

He calls the discussion of abortion coverage a “fabrication,” but the point is that, as a priest recently pointed out on Facebook, if abortion is not specifically *not* covered, it is implicitly covered by Obamacare because it is a legal medical procedure.

And then there’s Sarah Palin’s “Death Panels” comment. 

Now, there are two issues at stake here:

1.  Obama and his supporters are conveniently skipping over the question of “rationing”: that in any government-run healthcare system, there is rationing of services.  This is expressed in minimal practice by the waiting lists in Canada and the UK.  I’ll do a separate post on that later.

However, it needs to be said that, when people talk about “death panels,” they’re talking in part about panels that will at least establish triage rules if not the very overt elimination of “inferior people” advocated by Peter Singer, Tom Daschle, and several of Obama’s closest advisors.

2.  The question of “end of life care.” Obama’s supporters, including some Republicans, say the issue is just whether Medicare/Medicaid and the hypothetical “government option” should pay doctors to give “end of life” counseling to elderly and terminally ill patients–things like living wills and such.  They claim it’s not about the government or doctors dictating the end of life decisions, and that provisions specifically forbid euthanasia or assisted suicide counseling.

That’s all a matter of your definition of terms.  Because the Obama Apologists point to the Terri Schiavo case as the example of what they’re talking about.  In *their* view, an individual has the right to decide *not* to receive basic care such as nutrition and hydration.

I’m the first to admit that a patient should be allowed to refuse measures which can be classified as “extraordinary” according to the criteria laid out in the Catechism, and that any one of the conditions listed in the Catechism can be sufficient to refuse a medical treatment.

For example, I don’t get the flu vaccine, even though I’m in the category that “ought to”.  In my experience , every year I got the flu vaccine, I ended up getting a horrible bout of bronchitis or pneumonia .

Or when a particular medication has side effects that are too severe for the particular user, that’s an extraordinary measure in that person’s case.

But basic survival is a moral obligation.  Even if one believes a feeding tube as such is “extraordinary,” one is still obligated to provide *some* sustenance.  It wasn’t just that they removed Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube–that was bad enough-but after they did that, they tortured her by not even trying to give her ice cubes or small amounts of food by mouth.  They brutally starved her to death.

A feeding tube is not the same thing as a respirator or other “life support.”  On a respirator or heart-lung machine, one could theoretically go on for years in a physiological limbo.  But one can also die on such a machine, in spite of artificial survival.  There is no natural cognate to the machine in that case: but for a feeding tube, the natural cognate is just eating or drinking. 

My mother in law lived off a feeding tube for a year.  In terms of basic life functions, there was nothing else wrong with her.  Certainly, there were times she felt like “giving up”–quite frequently, in fact–but she kept going.  Seven years later, she’s living a fairly normal, active senior life. 

Now, when she was at the worst of her situation, she’d had several surgeries, infections, etc., and it was pretty dire.  It would have been one thing to say, “I don’t want any more surgeries.”   Had she made that decision, it would have been sad and tragic and ironic (given that the last one was the one that worked), but that would have made sense.

However, to say, “Take out the feeding tube” would *not* be a morally acceptable decision, because, while it’s a very nuanced difference, that would have been to actively kill her. 

Certainly, these matters are complex.  We are not, as Obama has claimed, “God’s partners in matters of life and death”–at least not in the way that he means.  Indeed, we should be God’s “partners’ in these matters, if he means prayerfully deciding what action is most in keeping with moral law.  But when we force God’s hand, whether it’s by contracepting, or using IVF, or by denying basic life sustenance to a seriously disabled or terminally ill person , we are not “partnering”–we’re controlling.

Recently, some friends’ former son-in-law passed away.  Their grandson was faced with the troubling decision of whether to “pull the plug” on his own father.  God was merciful, and his father passed away that night on the life support, anyway.

On the other hand, there was a family member who, after multiple bouts with cancer, signed a living will with a blanket refusal of life sustaining measures, which was phrased so broadly that, when the time came, she was starved to death.

And then there was a family friend who was in a horrible traffic accident like a year and a half ago.  When it first happened, he was on lifesupport and not responding, and there was a big debate about “pulling the plug.”  Before a decision was made, he woke up.  Then they said he was completely paralyzed.  Then he wasn’t.  Now he’s walking again and, while not 100%, mostly back to his old life.

As I have read many stories of middle aged Marfans who coughed too hard, thus dissecting their aortas, and then went into comas for several months only to die of respiratory failure when their lungs filled up with blood, I wonder how I want such a situation handled.  I don’t want to be arbitrarily denied care or taken off the machines.  I don’t want to die *only* because a living will was improperly written or whatever, too vaguely.  

Or my wife’s cousin, who was the center of a national Botox scandal, whose father almost “pulled the plug” when things were most dire (they brougth the family together and used the minimal communication they were able to get from her–as they do with people with “locked in” syndrome–to get her response on which family member she wanted as her representative), but she’s since recovered.

I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of shutting down “life support,” nor with the idea of “brain death.”  

So much of it depends on the exact circumstances ,an

Should people have living wills?  Yes, if only to protect themselves from the  Michael Schiavos of the world. 

Should people carefully consider these issues?  Yes. 

Should doctors or the government or the insurance be the ones to “counsel” people?  No.  This decision should be made with detached parties who have the expertise in the moral rules, with a thorough understanding of the medical situation and possibilities, not with those who have a vested interest in the situation.

St. Teresa of Avila on the struggles of the spiritual path

“But as He did not order me to cease from drinking when I had begun to do so, but caused me to be plunged into the depths of the water, it is certain that He will forbid no one to come: indeed, He calls us publicly, and in a loud voice, to do so.[72] Yet, as He is so good, He does not force us to drink, but enable those who wish to follow Him to drink in many ways so that none may lack comfort or die of thirst. For from this rich spring flow many streams — some large, others small, and also little pools for children, which they find quite large enough, for the sight of a great deal of water would frighten them: by children, I mean those who are in the early stages.[73] Therefore, sisters, have no fear that you will die of thirst on this road; you will never lack so much of the water of comfort that your thirst will be intolerable; so take my advice and do not tarry on the way, but strive like strong men until you die in the attempt, for you are here for nothing else than to strive. If you always pursue this determination to die rather than fail to reach the end of the road, the Lord may bring you through this life with a certain degree of thirst, but in the life which never ends He will give you great abundance to drink and you will have no fear of its failing you. May the Lord grant us never to fail Him. Amen.” (Way of Perfection, Ch. 20, para. 2).

Obama changes position?

Reports are circulating on the internet that, at least, Obama will not eliminate private insurance, and that he may be willing to drop government control altogether, in exchange for non-profit health cooperatives.

Sounds good to me.  The operative issue, to borrow a term from the Left, is *choice*.  If the federal government controls health care, we don’t have a choice.  It doesn’t matter which, if any, of our fears are involved in the current plan–abortion, contraception, euthanasia, etc.–what matters is that, once the government controls health care, and has a monopoly, we won’t have the choice.  We won’t have the power of the market to stop practices we don’t agree with.

Pro-lifers and Republicans need to jump on this opening.  We really need to say, “Yes.  This we’ll go for” on the co-operatives thing. 

We do need healthcare reform, and this would be an option that improves the insurance situation without giving it over to the government.  It still isn’t the best solution to healthcare, but it’s a start.

I honestly have to wonder sometimes, being the naive person that I can be (I alternative between naivete and cynicism), whether this was his plan all along?  I sometimes wonder who this guy is really lying to.

Obama implies he’s not a believing Christian

“I just lost my grandmother last year. I know what it’s like to watch somebody you love, who’s aging, deteriorate and have to struggle with that,” an impassioned Obama told a crowd as he spoke of Madelyn Payne Dunham. He took issue with “the notion that somehow I ran for public office or members of Congress are in this so they can go around pulling the plug on grandma.”

I know people are going to call this a stretch, but one thing I’ve experienced first hand, and through many conversations, is how different the death experience for those who have faith and those who don’t.

One person’s “agonizing” death from cancer may be a time of family togetherness, all-night prayer vigils, hand holding and hugging and hymnody.  Another’s death really is agony: dark-rooms, somber relatives, no one speaking, everyone standing at a distance. 

We had a big conversation about this at my Carmelite meeting a few months ago.  People told amazing stories of relatives’ deathbed conversions.  Some talked about relatives who had no faith, whose deaths were *horrible.* “You could feel the demons in the room,” said one lady of her brother-in-law’s death experience.  He was writhing in the bed, screaming.  Suddenly, he asked for a priest.  They got the priest who’d been waiting outside, blocked by the atheist relatives.  The priest received the dying man into the Church, and the whole room changed.

When you hear liberals talk about death, they talk about the agonizing nature of it. And the liberals, and the media, just don’t get it.  They think people have a “choice” about “end of life” care (to a certain extent, we do).  They say that the Schiavo case was a matter of “choice” and “family decisions” in which the government had no place (even though it had been in court for years, and the federal involvement was merely giving the family a chance at an appeal to someone other than the corrupt judge who always ruled in Michael’s favor).

But you don’t have the choice not to accept basic nutrition.  You have to the choice to refuse medical care, under certain circumstances . You do *not* have the choice to turn down basic nutrition or hydration, even to the point of refusing to provide nutritoin or hydration to a dying person when one has pulled the plug.

But his talk of the agonizing experience of watching his grandmother’s death–and how much did he actually experience?  Was it agonizing because of his guilt of putting his own ambitions above family?–betrays the fact that he thinks death is something fearful.

Years ago, before my heart surgery, the topic was being discussed at a Cursillo Ultreya.  Members were discussing their ailing parents and how sad it was they were dying in their 80s or whatever, and Dad said, “When John dies, it will be the happiest day of our lives.  All he wants is to go to Heaven, and why should we be sad that he gets his heart’s desire?”

The most hard-hearted of them all

You know, it’s amazing to me how much politically conservative Catholics begin to sound like liberal Catholics when one challenges their “right” to be greedy.  Suddenly, it’s “You can’t take the Bible that literally” or “that’s impractical,” or “why should I be forced to fix someone else’s mistakes,” etc.

So, I got to wondering what’s worse.

Then I decided: it’s when the person is arguing simultaneously for greed and contraception (or even the Malthusian abuse of NFP); the whole, “Poor people shouldn’t have kids because I have a right to an SUV” mentality.

Compulsive Carmelites and Bothersome Breviaries

One of my Carmelite (Order of Discalced Carmelites Secular, OCDS in Latin initials) friends asked me if I could help her look up a passage from the Office of Readings for Advent, which led to a discussion of missing volumes from the Four Volume Liturgy of the Hours (I always seem to have the ones that are out of season handy).  I looked for it, but of course, couldn’t find it.

She said, “That’s OK.  I have another OCDS friend looking for it.”
I said, “What you need is an OCD OCDS friend.”

A St. Elijah Miracle

Among his other duties, St. Elijah the Prophet, perhaps the most-emphasized of Old Testament Saints, is one of the patrons of driving.  This is due to the incident where he leaves one location before King Ahaz, then arrives at their destination before Ahaz.

Every now and then, I experience a St. Elijah miracle while driving, whether it’s miraculous multiplication of gasoline or miraculous on-time arrival.

For the past few weeks, Allie’s been my “Adoration buddy.”  It started the night we went to the ER together for our sinus infections, and got discharged just in time for Adoration.  Now she looks forward to it. She kept bugging me all evening about when we got to leave.  This time she brought a whole bookbag full of religious books.  It turned out this week to be just the two of us, so we said the Office together aloud and then prayed a rosary together aloud. It was neat.

Anyway, the St. Elijah Miracle: I wasn’t feeling well, so I kept resting till litearlly the last minute.  Once we got out to the car, the clock said “12:00.”

We drove the 15 minute trip to Church, and, when I got in to sign in, I looked up at the clock, and it said, “12:02.”

When we got in the car, I picked up my cell phone.  “No point in calling Mommy,” she said.  “She left her cell phone downstairs.”
“I’m not calling God,” I said, turning on the cell phone’s MP3 player.  “I’m calling God.”
“I thought you just called God.”
“Well, I’m calling him back.”
“Was there something you forgot to say?”

So we drove along.  I usually stop at McDonald’s on the way to or from Adoration for a sweet tea and an ice cream. 

This time, we drove straight home.  She said, “Are we going to McDonald’s, or are we going home?”

“We’re going home.”
“Why?”
“Because we went to Ryan’s for dinner.”
“Oh, yeah, good point.”

Where is the continuity in your hermeneutic?

(Originally posted May 2, 2009; updated with link)

Even in the “hermeneutic of continuity,” there is still a range of opinion that can be expressed thusly:
a) do you try to contort the pre-Vatican II body of 1960 years of tradition to make it fit Vatican II?
b) do you try to contort certain passages of Vatican II to make them not contradict the previous tradition?
or (ideally)
c) do you seek out obscure passages from the history of the Church to show that the innnovations of Vatican II were already there?

Much of this work has been done extensively–as many commentators on both sides of the Vatican II spectrum note, Karl Adam’s Spirit of Catholicism anticipates Vatican II a generation earlier. Dietrich von Hildebrand was probably one of the best commentators in regards to such a hermeneutic, long before the term was coined.

But there are certain key areas that remain unresolved. More importantly, new issues seem to pop up from time to time.

It is understandable, albeit unfortunate, that the dialogue between the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith and the Society of St. Pius X will be kept secret (though I hope it will be published in some form eventually). This would most certainly provide the authentic “hermeneutic of continuity,” regardless of whether the SSPX are fully reintegrated to the Church (but especially if they are).

I just wonder where the impetus is in many people’s readings of Vatican II. For “liberal” Catholics (and, when I say “liberal” Catholics, I usually mean progressives, “Spirit of Vatican II” People, regardless of their politics), the “old ways” are obsolete. They ignore and reject Summorum Pontificum, even continuing to use the term “old Mass” instead of “extraordinary form.” They are perfectly happy discarding any “previous” doctrine or practice if they can find a Vatican II passage, or a passage in one of John Paul II’s encyclicals, that superficially contradicts that passage.

So, for them, the “hermeneutic of continuity” is no big deal. If they can find something in the tradition that supports their agenda, they will use it.

For those we might call, for lack of a better word, “John Paul II Catholics” (let’s say, people like Archbishop Chaput and Cardinal George), the overall impetus is a liberal one: they think the Charismatic Renewal is wonderful. They’re not too crazy about traditionalists or the TLM, but they’re willing to tolerate us in some situations. They are strongly pro-life but politically centrist or center-left.

Like liberal Catholics, they think Barack Obama is great on most things but abortion. But unlike the liberals, they’re willing to not support Obama because of abortion.

So, for these folks, interpretation of Vatican II is not so much a matter of ignoring the previous tradition but of, as I say, contorting it to fit Vatican II, if they bother at all. Mostly, they just insist that Vatican II is consistent, and we have to obey it. If you ask genuine questions about things like _The Syllabus of Errors_, they plug their ears and say, “Lalalala I can’t hear you!” Or else they say sometihng like “The Church was unaware of the American system, compared to how freedom of religion was introduced in Europe.”

Yet that argument ultimately still gets back to, “The Church was wrong.”

The second approach to hermeneutic is very easy, and is the practice of most traditionalists who do not separate themselves from Rome: to say “Vatican II does not preclude me from accepting this earlier teaching literally.” This is tied to the whole argument that Vatican II declared no new dogma, that the Council itself is not “infallible” unless restating previously defined dogma, and that the Council’s novelties aer merely “prudential judgements” or “pastoral advice.”

For example, I once discussed Feeneyism with a fellow who pointed out that most Catholics take “baptism by desire” for granted, but paragraphs 1258 & 1259 of the Catechism are among the few paragraphs that have no citation: if there is a previous teaching of the Church on the subject, he asked, why isn’t it there?

And that is what brings us to the third approach, which is the most important :seeking out evidence that supports that Vatican II is continuous.

For example, we could say that Pius IX’s condemnation of separation of Church and State is contradicted by Vatican II’s teachings on religious freedom. We could say that Pius didn’t know any better or that he was bitter about the virulent anti-religious governments in post-French Revolution Europe.

However, Pius IX famously corresponded with Jefferson Davis–certainly he had to be aware of the American form of religious freedom, and he may very likely have approved of it.

I can formulate a very good argument that Pius did not *disapprove* of the First Amendment, that all he is saying that it is anathema that “Church and state ought to be separate.”

There is a difference between saying “Church and state ought to be separate” and “you have freedom to practice whatever religion you want.” Even Pope Benedict, when he came to the United States last year, implicitly rejected the idea that “Church and State ought to be separate,” insisting that the Church has the right to advise the state.

So there’s continuity there. The main thing Vatican II teaches is that it’s wrong for a country to require its citizens to be a particular religion.

So, that would be one approach, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a “smoking gun”, one way or the other?

Is there any previous teaching that says a country *should* require its citizens to be Catholic?
Or is there any previous teaching of the Church which says a country can or should allow freedom of religion?

Wouldn’t hunting down the missing links be better than just contorting the existing passages to our own biases?

Aterial redundancy ? Tortuosity?

Mary found the report from my angiogram in February that found my brain aneurysm.  It says I have “tortuosity” and “redudancy” throughout my carotid artery.  I can’t find a definition of these terms, though. 

A Google search turned up a lot of medical abstracts, but not simple “layman’s” article (i.e., Wikipedia or WebMD).

What I *did* find out whas that “tortuosity” in the carotid artery is associated with neck spasms (OK; not “nuts” there), and possibly with risk of stroke.  “Redundancy” in the carotid artery indicates a high risk of dissection of the artery.

But I’d like to know what these things *are*.

St. Teresa of Avila on Sacramentals

St. Teresa de Jesus says that the purpose of sacramentals is their use.

“This situation can be compared to that of a person who uses beads to count indulgenced prayers. If he uses them once, he gains the indulgences; if he uses them mor eoften, he gains more; but if he never uses them, keeping them rather in a chest, it would be better for him not to have them” (Way of Perfection, Ch. 20, para 3.)