Monthly Archives: July 2010

Evidence of Natural Law from Hollywood

Originally published 9/3/07.

The Weather Man, with Nicholas Cage, is a very secular and very crude film about the dreariness of modern secularist family life. T. S. Eliot might have liked it. It’s about “Dave Spritz” (Cage), a local forecaster trying to get a gig on a national morning show.

There’s a scene in the film where the character Robert Spritzel, played by Michael Caine (hardly a representative of Natural Law theory himself), responds to his son Dave’s divorce plans.

Dave Spritz: We both just think it’s better for the kids.
Robert Spritzel: David, sacrifice is… to get anything of value, you have to sacrifice.
Dave Spritz: I know that dad, but
I think that if we continue down this road, it’s gonna be too detrimental for
the kids. It’s just too hard.
Robert Spritzel: Do you know that the harder thing to do and the right thing to do are usually the same thing? Nothing that has meaning is easy. “Easy” doesn’t enter into grown-up life. (thanks to IMDB).

There you have it: the Natural Law in a nutshell. First, the character speaking has no discernable religious beliefs, and is hardly a Catholic. He is presented as a Pulitzer-prize winning writer and voice of reason and genteel morality. Thus, he illustrates that Natural Law is derived from reason and not dependent upon Catholicism.

Next, the statement itself, which is not only a principle of Natural Law, but arguably a summation of both Natural Law *and* heroic virtue.

Later in the film, an unnamed speaker describes the character of Robert Spritzel as embodying “forbearance, charity, wisdom.”

From John Locke: On Life, Liberty and Estate

Originally published 7/5/2007

Thought we’d take a look at some of the sources of the rights enshrined in our Declaration of Independence

From Two Treatises of Government (1680-1690), Book II: An Essay Concerning the True Original, Extent and End of Civil Government, Chapter 6: “Of Paternal Power,” Paragraph 59:

This holds in all the laws a man is under, whether natural or civil. Is a man under the law of nature? What made him free of that law? what gave him a free disposing of his property, according to his own will, within the compass of that law? I answer, a state of maturity wherein he might be supposed capable to know that law, that so he might keep his actions within the bounds of it. When he has acquired that state, he is presumed to know how far that law is to be his guide, and how far he may make use of his freedom, and so comes to have it; till then, some body else must guide him, who is presumed to know how far the law allows a liberty. If such a state of reason, such an age of discretion made him free, the same shall make his son free too. Is a man under the law of England? What made him free of that law? that is, to have the liberty to dispose of his actions and possessions according to his own will, within the permission of that law? A capacity of knowing that law; which is supposed by that law, at the age of one and twenty years, and in some cases sooner. If this made the father free, it shall make the son free too. Till then we see the law allows the son to have no will, but he is to be guided by the will of his father or guardian, who is to understand for him. And if the father die, and fail to substitute a deputy in his trust; if he hath not provided a tutor, to govern his son, during his minority, during his want of understanding, the law takes care to do it; some other must govern him, and be a will to him, till he hath attained to a state of freedom, and his understanding be fit to take the government of his will. But after that, the father and son are equally free as much as tutor and pupil after nonage; equally subjects of the same law together, without any dominion left in the father over the life, liberty, or estate of his son, whether they be only in the state and under the law of nature, or under the positive laws of an established government. (see this link or this link, emphasis added)

Ignoring the discriminatory term “being born,” derived from his primitive understanding of biological science, here is a quotation from Book II, Chapter 7: “Of Political or Civil Society,” paragraph 87:

Man being born, as has been proved, with a title to perfect freedom, and an uncontrouled enjoyment of all the rights and privileges of the law of nature, equally with any other man, or number of men in the world, hath by nature a power, not only to preserve his property, that is, his life, liberty and estate, against the injuries and attempts of other men; but to judge of, and punish the breaches of that law in others, as he is persuaded the offence deserves, even with death itself, in crimes where the heinousness of the fact, in his opinion,
requires it. But because no political society can be, nor subsist, without having in itself the power to preserve the property, and in order thereunto, punish the offences of all those of that society; there, and there only is political society, where every one of the members hath quitted this natural power, resigned it up into the hands of the community in all cases that exclude him not from appealing for protection to the law established by it. And thus all private judgment of every particular member being excluded, the community comes to be umpire, by settled standing rules, indifferent, and the same to all parties; and by men having authority from the community, for the execution of those rules, decides all the differences that may happen between any members of that society concerning any matter of right; and punishes those offences which any member hath committed against the society, with such penalties as the law has established: whereby it is easy to discern, who are, and who are not, in political society together. Those who are united into one body, and have a common established law and judicature to appeal to, with authority to decide controversies between them, and punish offenders, are in civil society one with another: but those who have no such common people, I mean on earth, are still in the state of nature, each being, where there is no other, judge for himself, and executioner; which is, as I have before shewed it, the perfect state of nature (see this link or this link, emphasis added).

Lastly, this one from Book II, Chapter 11: “Of the Extent of the Legislative Power,” paragraph 135:

First, It is not, nor can possibly be absolutely arbitrary over the lives and fortunes of the people: for it being but the joint power of every member of the society given up to that person, or assembly, which is legislator; it can be no more than those persons had in a state of nature before they entered into society, and gave up to the community: for no body can transfer to another more power than he has in himself; and no body has an absolute arbitrary power over himself, or over any other, to destroy his own life, or take away the life or property of another. A man, as has been proved, cannot subject himself to the arbitrary power of another; and having in the state of nature no arbitrary power over the life, liberty, or possession of another, but only so much as the law of nature gave him for the preservation of himself, and the rest of mankind; this is all he doth, or can give up to the common-wealth, and by it to the legislative power, so that the legislative can have no more than this. Their power, in the utmost bounds of it, is limited to the public good of the society. It is a power, that hath no other end but preservation, and therefore can never* have a right to destroy, enslave, or designedly to impoverish the subjects. The obligations of the law of nature cease not in society, but only in many cases are drawn closer, and have by human laws known penalties annexed to them, to inforce their observation. Thus the law of nature stands as an eternal rule to all men, legislators as well as others. The rules that they make for other men’s actions, must, as well as their own and other men’s actions, be conformable to the law of nature, i. e. to the will of God, of which that is a declaration, and the fundamental law of nature being the preservation of mankind, no human sanction can be good, or valid against it (see this link or this one, emphasis added).

Mate of Fate– A Poem by my Sweetie

The plump maid blushes fair
Beneath her thick, brown hair
While her two robust knights
Meet in true, gallant fight.

Anger gleams in their eyes
As they fight for their prize.
They battle with claws
Until one figher falls.

The maiden [. . . ] steps back in fright
As she is wooed and won in fight.
After much bloodshed, she’s matched with her mate
Not because of love, but because of fate.

–Mary G. Hein, ca 1987

Accompanied by a caption in which one bear says, “My sweet love!”  and another bear says, “‘Tisn’t love — ’tis fate”.

The original version has “bear” explicitly in the last stanza.  Iedited it out for greater poetic effect.

G. K. Chesterton on Monogamy

Keeping to one woman is a small price for so much as seeing one woman. To complain that I could only be married once was like complaining that I had only been born once. It was incommensurate with the terrible excitement of which one was talking. It showed, not an exaggerated sensibility to sex, but a curious insensibility to it.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton, Orthodoxy, Ch. 4.


I know God has something good in store for my family because, as worldly situations go, things can’t get much worse for us.

Already, the signs of a bright new horizon for us are coming around.  Mary and I have three FT job interviews between the two of us this week, and I have a number of outstanding applications that I’m hoping will result in at least one interview. 

However, back in May, my handicapped van (a 2000 Chevy Express) broke down.  The used engine I had installed when I bought it died, and it’s been sitting for over 2 months at Herndon Chevrolet in Lexington, SC, under the care of a mechanic named Bucky.  I’ve tried just about everything for help.  Everyone in the extended family is tapped out.  A new engine is going to cost $5400

There is no direct charity I can appeal to.  In one sense, there’s a temptation to just get a new vehicle, except that:

a) my motorized wheelchair is stuck in the back of the van,
b) we just had the *lift* repaired before the engine died,
c) it’s difficult to find a vehicle that’s both handicapped accessible and big enough for our family, without buying another government surplus van that will still need a new engine.

I’ve been walking, using a walker, for two months now, hoping to get my van back soon, and now everything hurts.  One of the reasons I use a wheelchair is to stop my knees and my back from being issues at all, and they hurt like crazy.   A few weeks ago, both my knees gave out at daily Mass, I crawled back from communion, and two older men had to help carry me to my car.  In addition to my kneecaps themselves, it felt like the joints were just incapable of sustaining my weight, and I apparently did something to my upper left leg.  The pain inside my knees was so bad that I worked my way through every level of pain killer I have, and I was still in pain.  I spent the next 3 days sedentary until the pain finally went away.

And that’s not even getting into the issue of what it’s all doing to my cardiovascular system.  

Plus, if I *am* to take a full time job out of the home, I”m going to need my van and my chair.

The other day, I posted an ad of Craigslist, asking for an anonymous benefactor or plural, and I’m partially making the same request here.  Just to prove the legitimacy of it, I’m asking for anyone even half willing to contact not me but Bucky at Herndon.

OTOH, one way that a lot of people can help is by finally getting a copy of Hide Me In Your Wounds.  The MP3 album price is only $8.99, the same price as Amazon charges for all its self-published MP3 albums.  But most of that money comes to me.  If, by some miracle of the Holy Spirit, I can get 900 people to purchase copies in the next couple weeks, that will pay for the repairs to my van.

The feedback I’ve gotten about my CD so far has been very positive–nice comments on Facebook from people who’ve purchased it; family and friends who say they listen to it daily; and three nuns who say they listen to it daily and have found it very inspiring!

In the past month, I’ve sent out review copies to various Catholic media outlets. 

Plus, Hide Me In Your Wounds  would make a great back to school gift!

Great Lines from _A Man for All Seasons_: A Good Judge is hard to find

<blockquote>Cromwell: I have evidence that Sir Thomas, while he was a judge, accepted bribes.
The Duke of Norfolk: What? Goddammit, he was the only judge since Cato who didn’t accept bribes! When was there last a Chancellor whose possessions after three years in office totaled one hundred pounds and a gold chain?</blockquote>

Novena to Alphonsus Liguori

GLORIOUS Saint Alphonsus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, devoted servant of our Lord and loving child of Mary, I invoke you as a Saint in heaven. I give myself to your protection that you may always be my father, my protector, and my guide in the way of holiness and salvation. Aid me in observing the duties of my state of life. Obtain for me great purity of heart and a fervent love of the interior life after your own example. Great lover of the Blessed Sacrament and the Passion of Jesus Christ, teach me to love Holy Mass and Holy Communion as the source of grace and holiness. Give me a tender devotion to the Passion of my Redeemer. Promoter of the truth of Christ in your preaching and writing, give me a greater knowledge and appreciation of the Divine truths.

Gentle father of the poor and sinners, help me to imitate your charity toward others in word and deed. Consoler of the suffering, help me to bear my daily cross patiently in imitation of your own patience in your long and painful illness and to resign myself to the Will of God.

Good Shepherd of the flock of Christ, obtain for me the grace of being a true child of Holy Mother Church. Saint Alphonsus, I humbly implore your powerful intercession for obtaining from the Heart of Jesus all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare. I recommend to you in particular this favor: (Mention your request).

I have great confidence in your prayers. I earnestly trust that if it is God’s oly Will, my petition will be granted through your intercession for me at the throne of God. Saint Alphonsus, pray for me and for those I love. I beg of you, by your love for Jesus and Mary, do not abandon us in our needs. May we experience the peace and joy of your holy death. Amen.

HEAVENLY Father, You continually build up Your Church by the lives of Your Saints. Give us grace to follow Saint Alphonsus in his loving concern for the salvation of people and so come to share his reward in heaven. Walking in the footsteps of this devoted servant of Yours, may we be consumed with zeal for souls and attain the reward he enjoys in Your Kingdom. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.