Category Archives: moderates

“Just believe in yourself”

“God just wants me to be happy,” says the contemporary Christian singer about her divorce and remarriage.

“Believe in yourself,” says the new age guru.

“The real Bruce Jenner,” say the headlines.

“Born that way,” says Lady Gaga.

Apparently, Jesus says “Affirm yourself, put down your cross, and follow your heart”?

Oh, no, wait.  That was, “Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me.”

Advertisement

Merry Christ-Mass!

“Happy Holidays” is one thing; “for the holidays,” or “for the Holiday” when the context is clearly Christmas is another. “Whoever denies me before men, I will deny before my Father” (Mt 10:33). “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14); “For God so loved the world that He gave His only son that whoever believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life” (Jn 3:16)–and you won’t even say His name on His birthday? But you *will* use it as a cuss word?

Will the real Fatima.please stand up?

It dawned on that, everywhere I look, I see people who need Fatima’s message, yet even most who “promote” it get it wrong.
For many, Fatima is “about Vatican II,” when, if anything, Vatican II was about Fatima.
For many, it was and is about a magical formula for the “consecration of Russia” that will lead to the magical “conversion of Russia,” and in turn to an “era of Peace.” Those prophecies are open to interpretation until they can be seen through the lens of history. Sr. Lucia said St. John Paul fulfilled it. If he didn’t, it’s too late, anyway.
Russia’s errors have spread through the world: not just the Communism that is encroaching on the US thanks to so many money-hungry “Catholics” voting for Obama, but also abortion (the USSR was the first country to legalize it).
The reason we have not seen mass conversions and world peace is not because the Pope failed to say the right words at the right place and time with the right bishops. It’s because laity, priests and religious fail to answer Our Lady’s call to conversion of heart:
sacrifices (in the manner of the Little Way);
true contrition and monthly (at least) Confession;
Frequent, sincere and meditative praying of the Rosary;
Devotion to and respect for the holy Eucharist
Wearing the Scapular or Miraculous Medal.
How many people do these practices at all, much less with the depth and sincerity Our Lady called for.
Francisco didn’t see her the first few times. He was below the age of reason and yet she still said he was guilty of too many sins and needed to say many Rosaries to see her and to avoid Purgatory. Yet we presume we’ll all be instant Saints.
She showed them souls falling into Hell like snowflakes, yet we hold to a watered-down universalism.
She said souls go to Hell mostly for sins of the flesh, which are as disgusting to the Devil as they are to God, and that, “Fashions will be introduced that will offend my Son greatly.” Yet we fall right into the filth with the rest of the Culture of Death.

IMG_1666.JPG

They’re not just “Pelvic Issues”

Some people on the Left, in the “Center” or whatever, say that Catholics like me who prioritize abortion and family-issues are “obsessed with the ‘pelvic issues'” and disregard the Church’s teachings on economics or other life issues. While that is true for *some*, there is a difference between disagreeing about interpretation or prioritization and disregarding them. I’d contend that both “Parties” in the US get the Church’s economics teachings wrong, and that’s a whole other issue.
Here, I’d like to address the annoying insistence on “Pelvic issues,” which is a slightly more superficially polite way of resorting to crudity or of insinuating some Freudian double meaning.
First, abortion is not a “sexual issue.” Abortion is a life issue. It’s about killing, and the recent attempt by a National Catholic “Fishwrap” columnist to turn pro-life rhetoric around to say that alleged global warming should take priority notwithstanding (again, another time), there is nothing that can match 3,000 legal homicides a day, as I have represented previously.
Abortion is only “about sex” to those who do not want to recognize the rights of the victim.
As for contraception, divorce, redefinition of marriage, etc., the Church teaches these issues are important because they impact the family. Catholic “Social Teaching” is often presented, even by the Popes, as striking a balance between “subsidiarity” and “solidarity,” and those in turn are often applied as the Catholic equivalents of being “left wing” and “right wing.” Solidarity says government and individuals owe a responsibility to the “common good,” to helping one another out. Interestingly, the workers’ movement known as “Solidarity” in Poland was credited with politically bringing down Communism in Poland and, by extension, the Soviet Bloc. On the other hand, “subsidiarity,” which I often write about, says that the family is the basic unit of society, and that whatever can be accomplished close to the family “level” should be. From the Compendium

185. Subsidiarity is among the most constant and characteristic directives of the Church’s social doctrine and has been present since the first great social encyclical[395]. It is impossible to promote the dignity of the person without showing concern for the family, groups, associations, local territorial realities; in short, for that aggregate of economic, social, cultural, sports-oriented, recreational, professional and political expressions to which people spontaneously give life and which make it possible for them to achieve effective social growth[396]. This is the realm of civil society, understood as the sum of the relationships between individuals and intermediate social groupings, which are the first relationships to arise and which come about thanks to “the creative subjectivity of the citizen”[397]. This network of relationships strengthens the social fabric and constitutes the basis of a true community of persons, making possible the recognition of higher forms of social activity[398].

It goes on to discuss how it is unjust to deprive smaller social units of the rights proper to them, that the purpose of higher levels of organization is to foster and support the lower levels, etc. The Compendium is such an easily accessible and relatively short document that every Catholic interested in politics should read it.

Wow! Here’s the Pope who called for Vatican II wearing the Tiara and being carried on a litter! It would be nice to see some of these external signs of papal authority return.

The whole point of Pope St. John XXIII’s Mater et Magistra is that Catholic social, economic and moral teachings go hand-in-hand, and require a commitment by people in all social strata. This is what the “common good” means. People must have their basic needs met in order to live full moral lives. Economically, society has to look out for families. What cannot be done at the local level must be done higher, but it is also wrong of government to usurp the power of localities or of private organizations to do good. This is why many Catholics interpret libertarianism as the most convenient ally of subsidiarity (though many also mistakenly equate the two).

“Abortion kills the common good.”


As Francis Cardinal George, OMI, put it:

The recent election was principally decided out of concern for the economy, for the loss of jobs and homes and financial security for families, here and around the world. If the election is misinterpreted ideologically as a referendum on abortion, the unity desired by President-elect Obama and all Americans at this moment of crisis will be impossible to achieve. Abortion kills not only unborn children; it destroys constitutional order and the common good, which is assured only when the life of every human being is legally protected. Aggressively pro-abortion policies, legislation and executive orders will permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans, and would be seen by many as an attack on the free exercise of their religion.

“Common good” implies an understanding of “the good.” If society is fundamentally at odds with the Natural Law, then that has to be the priority of the “common good.” If “common good” presupposes Natural Law and understands money as a means to the end of promoting a moral society, and if subsidiarity is seen as government existing to support the family, we can see on the one hand why “old school” liberals are right about the “social safety net,” but we can also see why “family issues” must take priority over everything else. It matters to everyone when states declare that “husband and wife” must be replaced by “spouse 1” and “spouse 2” (or more). It matters to everyone when divorce is presented as an easy out to marital difficulties, and vows supposedly made under oath are easily broken. It matters to everyone when children, as C. S. Lewis warned in The Abolition of Man become reduced to property and status symbols of their parents.

Why “Gay Marriage” Matters

Even many who profess faith in Christ insist that “gay marriage,” even as a civil entity, doesn’t hurt anybody.  Examples like “husband” and “wife” being changed everywhere to “spouse 1” and “spouse 2” should be enough for starters.  Then there is the increasing persecution of those who oppose the homosexualist political agenda: CEOs being fired from companies they co-founded,

Brendan Eich, who helped invent Java and Firefox, fired from Mozilla for a $1000 donation made 6 years ago.

and nuns being persecuted by the Church.

Should be speaking everywhere, not silenced

Of course, the latter was justified by “Catholics” bearing false witness against the Holy Father by saying his statements that homilists must talk about more than a few disjointed moral teachings means that none of us is supposed to talk about the specific examples, ever.

It all goes back to my old saying that we lost the Culture Wars before they began, at the 1929 Lambeth Conference.   The slippery slope that  led us to the current gay marriage debate started when the Anglicans became the first Christians to permit birth control, as Pius XI and Paul VI predicted.  Anyone who has tried to teach Catholic morality even in CCD, much less Catholic school, in the past generation or two knows how awkward it is to tell kids divorce and remarriage is a sin when their parents are divorced and remarried, that swearing is a sin when even their mothers cuss like sailors, or that birth control is a sin when everyone else uses it.  I went to high school with kids whose parents were NFP instructors, and even *they* would say things like, “It’s a sin for us but not for other people,” or “It’s better to tell teenagers to use birth control than to have them get pregnant or STDs.”

I think the persecution of Sr. Jane Dominic Laurel, OP, STD, has as much to do with her speaking about the negative consequences of divorce as anything else.  Indeed, the claim of Aquinas College that Sr. Jane is outside her academic credentials by talking of anthropology negates the traditional hierarchy of academic disciplines that a Dominican should be the first to recognize.

Soon-to-be St. John Paul II, who doesn’t mince words in Evangelium Vitae about the Conspiracy of Death, writes in Theology of the Body that the entire of Catholic anthropology is based in the Creation Account: indeed, that is the whole point of TOB.  From man being made male and female in the image of likeness of God and to be “one flesh” to the fact of Original Sin, JPII’s explication of the first three or four chapters of Genesis and Jesus’ teachings on marriage shows how everything else in theology stems from those passages.  He argues that the danger of Darwinism, and its importance to secularists, is that without a Creator, without teleology, without man being a soul/body hybrid, without Original Sin itself, then man is not a moral creature, and ultimately anything goes.

Something similar is at work in the Culture Wars in the contemporary West.  From contraception at one end to “marriage equality” at the other, advocates of “most favored sins” tend to promote each other’s cause: nobody wants to be perceived as a “hypocrite,” after all.  If some “bossy” Thomistic nun wants to start talking about sexual morality, then so much for “voices of women in the Church”!

And that’s the ultimate agenda of the Culture of Death (and, yes, Pope John Paul himself states repeatedly in Gospel of Life and elsewhere that it’s a conspiracy).    It’s even the agenda of those who, in the name of preventing child abuse, expose children to graphic “sex education.”  Obviously, Satan wants everyone in Hell, and Satan’s agents, whether they realize they are or not, need to encourage others to sin so they can feel justified in their own filth.

The 1988 Don Bosco film that used to run on EWTN before the 2004 version came out has subplots involving a brothel next door to St. John’s Oratory.  In one scene, there’s a commotion outside the brothel: two prostitutes get into a “cat fight.”  The boys stop their play and study to see what’s going on.  The Saint cuts through the crowd and pulls the two hookers apart.  “You people can drown in your sins, if you want!” he cries.  “But if a single one of my boys is lost because of you, not one of you can be saved!”

Harsh, you say?  Remember Our Lord calls for anyone who causes a child to sin to be drowned (Matthew 18:6).

That’s what’s at stake in “gay marriage.”

When I can no longer watch Wheel of Fortune with my kids because of a contestant introduction like, “So you’re getting married? . . . You found some nice young lady to marry you?” “Gentleman, actually,” that affects my family.
When we’re watching The Middle, and an ad comes on for Modern Family with two men talking about “their wedding,” and a cake topper with two men, that affects my family.
“Why?” asks the person who actively or passively supports same sex marriage.  “Are you afraid of them?  They’re nice people.”
No.
“Do you think you’re kid’s going to be gay?”
No.
Every child at some point wants to know why boys can’t marry boys or girls can’t marry girls, and “because they’re not supposed to” is usually a sufficient answer.

If society isn’t going to back that up, and if “the Church” isn’t even going to back that up, then one is left stranded explaining Natural Law.  It’s hard enough having to gloss over other issues.

They do not think parents have the right to teach their children morality or even to protect their children’s mental purity at a young age.   Then there are the increasing accounts of children at young ages becoming addicted to porn or committing sexual abuse because of things they’ve seen online.

When that stuff is literally everywhere, there comes a point when parents are forced to explain certain things to children that are not otherwise age appropriate–and that’s exactly what these demonic perverts want.

Religion is more than just something to do on Sunday

“Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” –G.K. Chesterton


Football season is beginning. It always strikes me that people who are afraid to talk of “politics and religion” for fear of offending friends or relatives will get into absolute feuds over football. Meanwhile, they treat politics and religion the way they treat sports: a form of recreation; merely something to do on the weekends.
The other thing that football has in common with politics and religion is that people generally seem to choose their religious and political affiliations the way they pick their football teams: as a form of patriotism, or because of their families (either to show loyalty or spite their families), or because of their friends. Thus, just as they support the Steelers, or the Redskins, or the Browns, or the Panthers because of where they happen to live, people tend to simply accept (or reject) their family’s religion or political party without necessarily thinking of *why* they support it.
Thus, people will speak of “religion,” as a concept, in ways that can be quite baffling. On the one hand, you have people who insist that they’re Catholic, even though they reject the Church’s teachings from transubstantiation to the evil of contraception to the very Incarnation itself, because “it’s too hard to leave the Church,” like She is some kind of blood cult or something. They’re attached (rightly) to the nostalgia evoked by the liturgy (particularly the infamous Christmas, Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday and Easter liturgies), and they attribute the devotion of other Catholics to a kind of extreme nostalgia (hence the “People who want the Traditional Latin Mass are just old people who don’t like change” argument).
On the other hand, you have people who say, “I’m spiritual, but not religious,” meaning that they’re not affiliated with a particular denomination or worship service. “Religion” has come to be defined according to the Masonic view as something subservient to “society” or “culture” (which is the main reason the 18th Century popes condemned the Masonic Lodges). The “church” or synagogue, temple or mosque is treated as something like a Lodge: a place to meet every week, have some fun, engage in organized charities, and host major life events like weddings and funerals. The Sacraments become similar “life events”–Baptism (or “Christening”) becomes a ceremony to recognize a birth, and so the same young parents who were offended at the notion in pre-Cana counseling that they should live as Catholics become offended at the notion they must promise to actually raise their children Catholic. They participate in First Communion and Confirmation (aka “graduation from CCD”) for the same reasons. It’s really very sad.
Thus, both the nominal Catholic and the “spiritual” non-Catholic are baffled by the notion that any religion should claim to be superior or to actually teach the Truth about Divine and Human Nature. Theology is seen as arbitrary and superstitious. Ironically, though, the claim that all religions are equal and that people should have “freedom of worship” means that “religion” should not be extended into “public life.” It’s just something to do for an hour a week, and not to actually effect one’s life beyond some base common denominator of being a “decent person” or a “good citizen.” Any religion that claims to do *more* that that is immediately suspect for violating the commonly accepted definition of “religion” that the Masons have taught us for nearly 300 years.
So the Left has fought for legalization of so-called “same sex marriage,” insisting they only want “equal rights,” and that no one should feel threatened by it. Christians warned that it would lead to persecution of those who didn’t want to participate. Others insisted and continue to insist that it was about “marriage equality” and that opponents were “homophobic.” Yet, now that the Supreme Court has essentially legalized it nationwide by throwing out the federal Defense of Marriage Act and the California Proposition 8, a court has ruled that Christian photographers cannot refuse to photograph gay weddings, a Christian bakery has closed due to “LGBT” threats and protests, a millionaire “gay” couple has sued a church in the UK for not performing their “wedding,” and Ugandan homosexuals have sued a Christian evangelist for “crimes against humanity.” Yet, like Nancy Pelosi’s infamous comment on the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), “conservative” Catholic literary critic Joseph Bottum argues that we have to allow gay marriage to happen to see if it might do some good.
The LGBTQ lobby is powerful, as the UK case illustrates, precisely because it’s rich, but also because of “well meaning” Christians who think it’s about “fairness,” and others who don’t think that “religion” shouldn’t intrude on the “public sphere.” It’s the same reasoning behind the HHS contraception mandate: the alleged “right” to violate Natural Law supersedes the right of employers to chose not to engage in material cooperation. Indeed, the notion of “material cooperation” goes over most people’s heads or is used in the opposite of its intent.

The Zimmerman trial should have been about Parental Permissiveness

I have learned more about the Zimmerman/Martin case in the last 39 hours than the last 16 months, since I try to avoid such cases. First, I don’t understand why this is about “racism”: I see some punk comes down the street, mall concourse, or wherever wearing “gangsta” attire (e.g., a hoodie, which in particular obscures his face), with that distinct swagger, etc., and I get scared. I don’t care what the color of his skin is, how old he is, or even if the person’s a “he” or a “she.” What gets me, though, is that, if Trayvon was the innocent helpless child they’re making him out to be, what in the blazes (literally) were his “parents” (specifically, his father and his father’s fiancee in this case) doing allowing him out alone at night to go *anywhere*, much less “buy a pack of Skittles”? The parents should be charged with criminal neglect, but that notion is offensive to 99% of Americans because they see no problem with Trayvon’s behavior (not that it necessarily warranted killing him), or the fact that his parents were divorced, which should itself be a horrible scandal (even if the divorce was justified).

Yes, I think this case really speaks to my own qualms about the popular interpretation of the Second Amendment. Do I think Martin was likely up to no good? Yes. Do I think Zimmerman shot him in self defense? Yes. Do I think Zimmerman was looking for a fight? Yes. Do I think it’s a good idea to have a neighborhood watch and have somebody who’s willing to try and *prevent* crime versus waiting for it to happen? Absolutely. Should that person carry a gun? I don’t think so, not when a baseball bat would do for most cases (and if a baseball bat wouldn’t suffice, a gun wouldn’t, either).

Nonetheless, this shouldn’t be about race, guns or anything but the over-permissiveness of parents in this country. Why is a 17 year old a “child” when it’s convenient to liberals? Homosexual priests molest 16 and 17 year-olds and are accused of being “child molesters” to avoid identifying them as “homosexuals,” and now a 17 year old high on marijuana is an “innocent child”?

“Why should I bless you? Your sons are in jail because of your permissiveness.”–St. Pio, to a couple who asked for a blessing because they were distressed over their two sons’ imprisonment.

However, according to the same people who are calling Trayvon Martin an “innocent child,” teenagers are supposed to be permitted to have sexual relations before the legal age of consent, be given free contraceptives and free abortions without parental consent, be permitted to engage in statutory rape with impunity, etc.
A 17 year old can have a driver’s license. An 18 year old can serve in the military and vote, and liberals argue that 18 year olds should be allowed to drink alcohol. It’s like the same “logic” applied to abortion: an infant at 36 weeks’ gestation is a “blob of tissue” and “part of the woman’s body” 5 minutes before birth. A “17 year old” is an “innocent child,” but an 18 year old is a “responsible adult.”

Pope Francis: If you don’t Profess Jesus Christ, You Profess the Devil

When one does not profess Jesus Christ – I recall the phrase of Leon Bloy – “Whoever does not pray to God, prays to the devil.” When one does not profess Jesus Christ, one professes the worldliness of the devil.

Pope Francis, in his first homily, 3/14/2013
Fr. Wade mentioned this in his EWTN homily today, and it struck me as an interesting jab at the contemporary “Interfaith” movement, as well as contrasting some of the other quotations from our new Holy Father that have made bigger headlines (i.e., his needlessly “controversial” statement that some atheists might make it to Heaven based upon their personal consciences).

Who is Really “Marginalized” in the Church?

The resignation of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, has led the media to engage in one of their favorite passtimes: berating the “controversial” teachings of the Catholic Church, and expressing hope that the Church will “listen to” allegedly “marginalized” Catholics who “have no voice” in the Church by changing controversial “policies” such as teaching the objective truths that male gender is a material requisite for the priesthood, or that abortion, contraception and homosexual behavior are intrinsically evil.

This idiotic article is just one more example of this claim. What struck me about this particular authress’s screed is that she talks of nuns who complain about being “marginalized,” and that really ticked me off.

It is a popular meme of liberal Catholics that Jesus “embraced those who were marginalized.” Like most lies, that’s partially true. However, Jesus also *called* on His followers to *become* marginalized. The fundamental difference between an orthodox and a liberal Christian is our *reaction* to marginalization. The orthodox believer recognizes that we must be marginalized by the world in order to live out the Evangelical Counsels, that marginalization is the path the holiness. The liberal believer sees marginalization as a bad thing, and fights against it.

But whatever they want to say about the “official” teachings of the Church, these people have been running things for quite some time.

I have been “marginalized” by liberal Catholics my entire life.

Every liturgical document from Sacrosanctum Concilium to Liturgiam Authenicam to Redemptionis Sacramentum to Summorum Pontificum has emphasized the importance of Latin as the official liturgical language of the Roman Rite. When B16 called the world synod of bishops shortly after his accession, they voted by a huge majority to promote the use of Latin and to mandate that multilingual congregations offer Mass in Latin as opposed to the vernacular. The documents all say Mass should be primarily in Latin. Where Vatican II gives options, the preference is supposed to be on the more “traditional” option. And as B16 noted in Summorum Pontificum, the Tridentine liturgy was never “suppressed,” so it never should have required an “indult.” Strange that Vatican II options which were *supposed* to require indults–reception in the hand, use of lay ministers of communion–have become commonplace and are considered almost obligatory, yet there has been every effort made to suppress the Traditional Latin Mass. Who is voiceless and marginalized?

I have never heard homilies in favor of Latin or of traditional liturgical practices at “ordinary” Ordinary Form liturgies. I have heard such homilies frequently at extraordinary form masses, or ordinary form Masses in Latin, or Eastern liturgies–situations where the priests were literally “preaching to the choir.” I have never heard an “ordinary” priest give a homily at a vernacular Mass trying to explain why traditional liturgical forms are good. I *have*, however, heard priests preach from the altar that they wished traditionalists would all die off and stop bugging everyone. I have heard priests say from the altar that they “hope this pope will die so we can get a new pope who will get rid of all the rules” (this back in the days of John Paul II). I have heard priests say from the pulpit or other public venues that Latin is to be discouraged because it scares people away and people don’t understand it. I have heard priests preach about how wonderful all the changes “Vatican II made” supposedly are, even though many of the things they’re talking about were never mentioned by Vatican II and actually defy the explicit teachings of the Council.

Speaking of which, I’ve heard and read the claim that the Society of St. Pius X is “heretical” or schismatic because one must accept all the teachings of the Council to be Catholic, even though Pope Paul VI said otherwise and Pope Benedict has frequently critiqued certain aspects of the Council. Yet if that is the case, then why is there no action taken against liberal Catholics who openly defy express teachings of the Council, such as S.C.’s order that the Church provide classes in Latin to all laity?

Then there are the moral issues? Who’s really marginalized when Catholics with “large families” are mocked by their fellow Catholics, openly, and even at or after Mass? When I got engaged, and asked my pastor about NFP classes, he scoffed, and said, “I only know 2 families in the parish who are into that stuff. It’s not that important. You can just use birth control; it’s OK. If you really want to, I can give you the numbers of those couples, because I wouldn’t know anything about it.” At the same meeting, he told me he helped *design* his diocese’s Engaged Encounter Program, yet he claimed to know nothing about NFP! (Thankfully, a lot has changed since then, and many diocese in the SE are using Family Honor, but I’m not sure if it’s part of the official pre-Cana process yet). I was grateful he told me we could do it in any diocese we wanted, since we were a long-distance engagement, so long as we provided the parish with a certificate. So we did our Engaged Encounter with the Diocese of Arlington, where about 1/3 was Theology of the Body and about 1/3 was NFP.

My wife once went to a lecture by the diocesan interfaith coordinator, shortly after the publication of _Dominus Iesus_, in which this priest insisted that then Cardinal Ratzinger was trying to “tie the hands of John Paul’s successor”! What a surprise for him that Cardinal Ratzinger *was* John Paul’s successor.

I have rarely been able to attend any parish meeting, adult class or spirituality group, or whatever, without grinding my teeth in frustration at the heterodoxy and dissent that are openly discussed, sometimes by people who have been educated in heterodoxy for so long that they don’t even know they’re material heretics! They *think* that traditionalists are the heretics who “don’t follow Vatican II,” and yet, if they actually took the time to read Vatican II, and compare the teachings of “both sides,” most Catholics would be shocked to discover that the Society of St. Pius X is far more in line with what Vatican *actually* teaches than what the habitless nuns and cassockless priests have told them for decades about the “spirit of Vatican II.”

This is why, when I read articles such as the one in the _Detroit News_, I get infuriated. And I get infuriated that, when traditional and conservative Catholics *express* their frustration at such articles, people say, “See?! That just proves traditionalists are vindictive and hateful!” During the Mother Angelica-Cardinal Mahony feud, Bishop Thomas Tobin, then of Mother’s hometown Youngstown, OH, wrote a fantastic piece (which I can’t find, so I have to link this article about it) in which he tried to play diplomat, but he observed that perhaps there is some justification in the anger of conservative Catholics who have been routinely shouted down and mocked since the Council.

Liberals run the religious ed programs and schools. They run the liturgy committees. They run most of the seminaries and diocesan vocation programs and–as many ex or would be seminary candidates, along with a few brave vocations directors and bishops have attested to–they specifically reject candidates they deem “too conservative” while promoting candidates who are at least friendly to liberals. Then they beat them down in the seminary with liberal indoctrination. And the religious houses have done the same thing, dwindling their numbers as they come to look like gay and lesbian communes, while the more orthodox communities are thriving. Yet as they get grayer and grayer, the “progressives” continue to insist they speak for “young Catholics.”

Where? Where are these “young Catholics” they claim to speak for? Why aren’t these “young Catholics” flocking to join liberal convents and liberal monasteries? If there are all these women who are supposedly “called the priesthood,” why aren’t they joining the LCWR affiliated convents in droves while they await their “dream pope” who will do all this for them?

And why is there no connection made to the fact that the Cardinal who *most* supported their “progressive” agenda has been completely disgraced as perhaps the worst offender when it came to covering up for sex-abuser priests–so much that other bishops knew he was the easy go-to man for re-assigning sex offenders to his diocese? Why is no one acknowledging that it was precisely Roger Mahony’s “liberal” attitudes towards homosexuality and sex that led him to support these priests?

But, no, liberals have no voice in the Church at all. Bloody hypocrites.

It’s about responsibility.

We hear it over and over when a catastrophe like Sandy Hook occurs: “Ban guns!” “Ban video games!” and so forth.
What about personal responsibility? What about teaching morality?

The problem with Liberalism–and in this case I mean *all* liberalism, or humanism, the philosophy of the Enlightenment (i.e., “conservatism” used to mean resisting Modernism)–is that it’s a philosophy that denies personal responsibility. Because the Enlightenment teaches that people are fundamentally good–denying the dogma of Original Sin–Enlightenment thinkers are constantly looking for someone to “blame” for the behaviors we call “evil.” This is even more with the modern day “Left,” but it’s also true of the “Right,” and both sides have their pet “causes” they try to blame for acts of catastrophic evil.

Despite those atheists who try to say religion is the cause of evil (a perfectly acceptable Enlightenment argument–and, btw, as much as I love _Les Miserables_, it’s good to remember the novel was once on the Index, and for good reason), when one looks at the history of the world *before* Christ, and the changes Christianity has made in the world and in people, one has to say, “Where would be without Christ’s grace?”

Henry Nouwen tells the story about someone attacking him for allegedly “unChristian” behavior (I love how some people are quick to “judge” others on this vague notion of “unChristian behavior” but say “judge not” when it comes to clearly defined moral principles), and he says, “imagine what I’d be like if I weren’t a man of faith.” One of the things I keep thinking of since Sandy Hook is the Crusades. Here were men with Sacramental Grace, Catholics who were supposedly catechized, and they engaged in horrific acts which, whatever the justification of the wars originally, clearly violated “Just War” principles and were condemned by the Popes. The question should not be “why do people do evil,” but “why don’t people commit atrocities like this more often?”

Of course, we do. 2000-4000 children a day are murdered in the US, and nobody cares. You don’t even see “pro-life” presidents crying on TV and demanding change. You don’t see people raising a hue and cry over how abortion needs to end now.

My kids were asking questions about ratings for games and movies. “What does ‘M’ mean?” “What does ‘R’ mean?” I said, in soapbox mode, “In theory, they mean only adults are supposed to see them. In practice, they mean absolutely nothing.”

I explained that movie ratings are based upon a weird number system: so many occurrences of one swear word mean “R” and less than that is “PG-13,” but another swear word can be said a bunch of times and just be a PG, etc. Sometimes, a movie like _The Passion of the Christ_ gets an “R” and a movie gets a “G” or “PG” that anyone with an ounce of a moral compass would insist should have a PG-13 or R.

On the other hand, the ratings don’t even have any “power,” because parents and other adults DON’T PAY ANY ATTENTION. We had a great party the other night with members of our homeschooling group. A lot of the conversation revolved around _The Hobbit_ and _Les Miserables_ and, by extension, ratings and how to deal with children and media. We all had slightly different views on parenting and popular culture, but what we all agreed on was our responsibility to protect and form our children (obviously, or we wouldn’t be homeschooling).

One mom said how her nephew watches anything he pleases, and it’s problematic when her son goes to visit at her brother’s house. One time, her brother said, in astonishment, “He actually said, ‘I’m not allowed to watch that.’ I can’t believe he said that!” He was surprised because he just expected his son to always sneak around and do what he wants.

A few years ago, I happened to read an article about how some activist group, using the “buy stock” boycotting strategy, got a Catholic priest on the board of Best Buy, and he got it established as policy that clerks must ask for ID and only sell “R” rated movies and “M” rated games to adults. Just a few days after reading this, I happened to be in Best Buy and saw it in practice.

A little boy was in line in front of me. There was a woman behind him, and while they were of different races, I assumed she was the adult in charge of him, since the notion of a child apparently around 10 years old shopping by himself is already strange to me. The kid had a copy of one of the Wayans _Scary Movie_ films. The cashier told him he could not buy the DVD because he was under 18, and he had to get an adult. So he said he’d be right back, and she held up the line for him. As the rest of us waited, he returned with a young woman whom I believe was his sister, not his mother.

She grumbled about being inconvenienced, and instead of seriously questioning why the child wanted to buy the movie, or doing the responsible thing and telling him he shouldn’t, she instead complained to the cashier for inconveniencing her. The cashier explained apologetically that it was policy, with a tone of agreement that she thought the policy was stupid, and the woman complained some more. She at one point nominally turned to the boy and said something like, “Why do you want to buy a movie called _Scary Movie_, anyway?”
“It’s not REALLY scary. It’s funny, and I already saw it at a friend’s house.”
“OK.”

That was it.
1) How would one see the humor in a parody movie *unless* one had already seen at least some of the movies it was parodying?
2) If I had to choose one or the other, I’d rather my children see a ‘scary’ movie than a Wayans style comedy.
3) The ever-present danger of the “friend’s house,” and the problem that arises from placing one’s children in the care of irresponsible adults.
4) Why didn’t this “responsible adult,” whoever she was, have the slightest interest in protecting the kid’s soul?

Indeed, when adults *do* censor kids’ viewing, it often has little to do with moral formation and simply has to do with avoiding nightmares, or some such nonsense.

That’s what’s wrong with America, right there. That’s why we have events like Sandy Hook. And it’s something you’re not going to legislate easily in this country. If there’s an amendment we need to change to prevent mass murders, it’s not the Second: it’s the First.

Unless our government starts talking about Morality, which means Natural Law, which means the Catholic Church (see Benedict XVI’s Caritas et Veritate), this will continue to happen.

Unless families start taking real care for the moral upbringing of their children–their #1 duty and obligation as families-things like Sandy Hook will continue to happen. And that means various things. It means parents must be vigilant. It means parents must be very careful about who their kids’ friends are and who their own friends are. When kids see their parents engaging in or tolerating the very behavior they criticize in their children, it creates a double standard. It means questioning whether it’s safe to send their kids to public school or even parochial school, not because of the physical danger posed by the 1 in 1,000,000 chance a mass shooting will happen, but the very real and ever present spiritual danger posed by 8 year olds who read _Twilight_ (or worse) and play “vampires versus werewolves” on the playground.

I have a good friend who won’t let his children go to public restrooms unescorted, not just because of concern over perverts, but because he worries they’ll read the graffiti on the walls. We were dining together in November, and his daughters kept asking to use the bathroom. He was suspicious, and finally got his daughter to admit there was a TV in the restroom that they were watching.

All parents can and should be that vigilant. What’s more important: your children having a “college fund” or their immortal souls? Not to mention the damage a lot of material goods can do to our souls. Oh, wait. It’s impossible to risk someone’s soul, because people think Jesus is just gonna forgive absolutely everything they do and let them come straight into Heaven, and all that stuff about Sacraments and Penances and Purgatory is just a bunch of made-up Catholic nonsense. Jesus is a nice guy hippie dude who just wants everyone to have a good time, and He’ll understand because we’re doing it out of love. St. Augustine *did* say, “Love and do as you will,” right? (No, he didn’t: he said “love your duty and then do what comes of that”).

I have, of course, addressed this topic frequently, as I did in this post, where I quoted the actual version of an often misquoted story about St. Pio of Pietrelcina. A couple who were sad that their sons were all in jail asked him for a blessing. “I absolutely refuse to bless you! You didn’t pull in the reins when your children were growing up, so don’t come along now when they are in jail and ask for my blessing.” Bl. Louis Martin would not let his daughter’s read the newspaper (of course, in an example of how such absolute bans can backfire, his daughter St. Therese snuck around to read the newspaper to follow the case of the murderer Pranzine, whom she helped get into Heaven). Holy Mother Teresa of Avila was bothered by some lifelong sin habit that she never specifically discloses. Some insist that it was scruples, but whatever it was, she implies in her _Life_ it was a sin against chastity–and she said that despite her temptations, she never crossed certain lines because she did not want to bring scandle to her family–she once got up the nerve to tell her father, and he practically disowned her.

Why can’t we have that style of parenting today? Why have parents become so permissive, so afraid of actually rearing their children? You can ban whatever you like, but until *that* changes, our society will just see worse and worse violence. After all, children who are not taught a modicum of self-control are not going to care about what the government bans, either. They’re just going to want it all the more because it’s banned.

Who’s your Pope?

Tracy: “So what’s your religion, Liz Lemon?”
Liz: “I pretty much do whatever Oprah tells me.” –_30 Rock_

“His heart was moved to pity for them, for they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.” –Mt 9:36

The Catholic Church is often attacked over the concept of Papal infallibility, yet one of the ironies is that people long for “infallibility.” There is a reason the Bible is constantly comparing people to sheep: sheep are, as a priest once pointed out in a homily I heard, stupid. This is a controversial point, I know, but most people really are stupid. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”: our great excuse at personal and final judgement day will be, as the Catholic Church teaches, stupidity (Catechism 1793).

So we seek out people to guide us, like Israel begging Samuel for a king (1 Sam 8). Yet, just as when Samuel warned Israel that a King would become a tyrant (and all the kings of Israel fulfilled that warning, so too do the little kings we create for ourselves inevitably fail, because all are human.

In a previous post, I explained the limits and extents of Papal infallibility. Infallibility is, in one sense, a very limited concept, though it includes a general sense of obedience to the Pope. A traditional notion of anti-Catholicism holds that the Pope somehow micromanages the Church. The “Kennedy Doctrine” is heretical because, as Vatican II documents, Bl. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI all teach, the State *must* listen to the Church. However, in one sense, Kennedy was right in trying to dispel a common notion that Catholics all get secret personal marching orders from the Pope.

Papal infallibility only plays a big part in my life because religion plays a big part in my life. As I noted in the earlier post linked above, a Pope’s personal opinions are just that: opinions, and even his prudential judgements about matters of great import, and whether the Church’s teachings are properly being applied, are just that, prudential judgements. A Catholic owes a certain deference to the Holy Father, but Catholics are free to make up our minds on such matters, provided that we give them due study.

The principle of subsidiarity that the Church teaches in politics and economics applies in the Church as well. The Pope oversees 2 billion Catholics and does quite a lot but relatively little. A few thousand people work at the Vatican to oversee those 2 billion Catholics, and the proportion of Vatican employees to worldwide Catholics is far less a percentage than the staffs of most secular corporate or government headquarters.

Then there’s the local bishop, who oversees hundreds or thousands or even millions of parishioners. Again, the bishop’s authority is relatively minimal and mostly managerial. Most practicing Catholics only see their bishops on rare occasions, such as Confirmation or Ordination masses, or special events. I was a parishioner in my diocese’s cathedral as a kid, and I remember even *there* that the bishop making an appearance was a special event.

Then comes the local pastor, who *ought* to be involved intimately in each of his parishioners’ lives, but in practice this rarely happens. So the Church in general, in terms of Her human agents, doesn’t play that big a role in the average person’s life. I care about my pastor’s views on theology, morals, liturgy, church discipline and even politics. I don’t care about my pastor’s views on music (except liturgy or moral issues), sports, movies (except moral issues), etc.

The Pope doesn’t tell me what to watch on TV, though he may give advice on what to consider from a moral aspect when choosing a TV show.

However, people in general look for “infallible authorities” to give them simple answers. They balk at the notion of an established and official hierarchy, but they create one for themselves by seeking out little gurus, the way the fictional Liz Lemon “worships” Oprah.

Look at the way certain Protestant televangelists rake in the dough and the adulation, and people hang on their every word. Look at the range of issues where people would seek advice from James Dobson. Look at the followers of Oprah, Dr. Phil, Dr. Laura or Martha Stewart, the modern-day Sophists.

then add to that the polarization of society, and people’s basic need to separate everything in to “good” versus “evil.” So once a particular “guru” has been established as a “good guy,” then everything that person says *must* be good, and if anyone criticizes that person, watch out.

So the followers of Fr. Corapi, myself still one of them when his troubles started, reacted in his defense when he announced that he’d been suspended. Anyone who raised a sign of caution that there might be validity to the allegations–especially since he based his entire ministry on his allegedly sordid past–were attacked as agents of Satan.

Look at what happened when some people raised questions about the ethicality of Lila Rose’s “undercover” operations at Planned Parenthood.

Even questioning one aspect of a “good guy’s” behavior is offensive to the “follower” because the “good guy” is bestowed a kind of personal infallibility that goes far beyond the scope of the infallibility of the Pope–and often the person doesn’t have any real claim to such authority.

I raise this issue because, back in 2004, Catholic Answers, which is a wonderful apologetics organization, issued a “Catholic Voter Guide” was basically geared towards saying it’s wrong to vote for the Democrats. Interestingly, the content of the Guide itself favors voting for a third party candidate, but it has been manipulated to support the Republicans.

This “Voter Guide” was issued right around the same time as the leak of the “private letter” that then-Cardinal Josef Ratzinger sent to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, clarifying the prioritization of “life issues” in voting, and in various reports, the content of the Catholic Answers “Voter Guide” got conflated with the Ratzinger letter.

The Catholic Answers Voter Guide introduces a concept of “Five Non-Negotiables”: abortion, stem cell research, euthanasia, cloning and gay “marriage.”

Now, it’s true that these are “non-negotiable” in Catholic teaching. This refers to the fact that the economic documents always emphasize the freedom of Catholics to determine how to apply them, and it refers to how in matters such as war and the death penalty, the Church discourages them and gives strict guidelines for their application but still gives the State the right to use them when necessary.

The whole point of the Catholic Answers Voter Guide is this:

Candidates who endorse or promote any of the five non-negotiables should be considered to have disqualified themselves from holding public office, and you should not vote for them. You should make your choice from among the remaining candidates.Candidates who endorse or promote any of the five non-negotiables should be considered to have disqualified themselves from holding public office, and you should not vote for them. You should make your choice from among the remaining candidates.

Do not reward with your vote candidates who are right on lesser issues but who are wrong on key moral issues. One candidate may have a record of voting exactly as you wish, aside from voting also in favor of, say, euthanasia. Such a candidate should not get your vote. Candidates need to learn that being wrong on even one of the non-negotiable issues is enough to exclude them from consideration.

Eliminate from consideration candidates who are wrong on any of the non-negotiable issues. No matter how right they may be on other issues, they should be considered disqualified if they are wrong on even one of the non-negotiables.Eliminate from consideration candidates who are wrong on any of the non-negotiable issues. No matter how right they may be on other issues, they should be considered disqualified if they are wrong on even one of the non-negotiables.

These posts would seem to advocate voting for a third party candidate because the voter is encouraged to eliminate anyone wrong on one of these “five non-negotiables”. This is affirmed by the teaching of John Paul II, who said it was more important to vote for the candidate that’s morally correct than to worry about who would win. See “John Paul II on Incrementalism”.

The Voters Guide, on its own merits, is a helpful document. However, there are several problems that have arisen from it because of tribalism and party politics:

1) Because Catholic Answers has a reputation for “orthodoxy,” they are “good guys” in the above calculation, so they are, according to the reasoning, beyond reproach, and on the other hand, anything Catholic Answers issues gets elevated to Magisterial teaching. So even though this is a voter guide issued by a lay apologetics group, many Catholics speak of the “Five Non-Negotiables” as if the concept was an ex cathedra papal statement.
2) There are more than five non-negotiables in Catholic teaching, and the Catholic Answers staff were misrepresenting papal teaching to suit their own accomodation to American politics. This is my big beef with the document. The Voter’s Guide is used to argue why ESCR, abortion, euthanasia, gay marriage and cloning are always evil, but the Church also says many other things are always evil: contraception, in vitro fertilization, etc.
3) it has become confused and conflated in the public mind, which isn’t the fault of Catholic Answers. A woman once insisted to me that there are only “five intrinsic evils,” and she listed CA’s “five non-negotiables.” I quoted the passage in the Catechism (2297) which defines intrinsic evil, itself quoting Vatican II:

“Whatever is hostile to life itself, such as any kind of homicide, genocide, abortion, euthanasia and voluntary suicide; whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical and mental torture and attempts to coerce the spirit; whatever is offensive to human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution and trafficking in women and children; degrading conditions of work which treat labourers as mere instruments of profit, and not as free responsible persons: all these and the like are a disgrace, and so long as they infect human civilization they contaminate those who inflict them more than those who suffer injustice, and they are a negation of the honour due to the Creator”

Now, the lady in question told me that I wasn’t a Catholic for thinking that the Catechism, _Veritatis Splendor_ and _Gaudium et Spes_ superseded Catholic Answers and “defriended” me on Facebook. Surprisingly, she didn’t block me, and we run into each other periodically on other groups and pages.

But her confusion and tribalism represents a typical problem. In 2008, things were complicated by the war and ESCR. The “Catholic Left” argued that torture should be a “non-negotiable” since the above passage lists it as equally evil to abortion. That would be fine if Bush had been running for re-election, but the fact was that most of the Republicans running in 2008, and the third party right wing candidates, all opposed waterboarding: IIIR, only Giuliani (who’s also pro-abortion) and Thompson specifically supported it: Dr. Paul, Mike Huckabee, Chuck Baldwin, Bob Barr (pro-abortion) and especially John McCain all opposed “enhanced interrogation” for one reason or another, and so torture should have been a non-issue. Ironically, all the Catholics who voted for Obama because of “enhanced interrogation,” illegal detainment and other intrinsic evils of the Bush Administration, along with the questionable justification of the war in Iraq, elected a president who has been far worse for these evils and who has gotten us into several very clearly unjust military actions, such as Libya.

Meanwhile, Catholic conservatives continue to blindly vote Republican the way Catholic liberals have blindly voted Democrat. Even though the CA Voter Guide itself encourages voting third party if possible, Catholics have used the CA Voter guide to justify milquetoast Republicans over Democrats because “abortion is a non-negotiable!”

Well, the problem is that John McCain supported ESCR, and suddenly ESCR became a “negotiable” — NRLC even dropped it as a priority issue (and let’s not forget that Bush authorized it so long as the babies were already dead). Now, we have Mitt Romney, who passively legalized gay marriage in Massachusetts, passed a healthcare mandate law in Massachusetts (and convinced Obama to go with a mandate over total socialization), ignored a Catholic protest in MA to his own contraception mandate, gave money to Planned Parenthood, made money off two abortion-related companies (one that produced abortion pills and another that handled “disposal” of aborted fetuses), and was outspokenly pro-abortion and for changing the GOP platform.

We are supposed to believe that social liberal Mitt Romney has undergone a total change in his views since being governor of Massachusetts. We’re supposed to believe he’s pro-life, even though he’s skipped every pro-life event this year, including events that all his opponents in the primary attended. We’re expected to believe he’s opposed to a health care law he helped write.

We’re supposed to believe that he’s pro-life and pro-family because of his stay-at-home wife (in whose name the Planned Parenthood donations were made) and his 5 kids–one of whom is having his own children through “surrogate motherhood”–even though the Romneys had their kids in the 1970s, and their kids were grown before their father did his worst anti-life and anti-family actions. The fact that the Romneys were already Mormons with a big family when they supported PP and contraception mandates, etc., before they opposed them, they makes them far worse.

And for some reason people are buying this garbage and getting mad at those of us who don’t. They insist Romney’s going to be better than Obama and change things, but he’s not. He’s going to say “Ha, Ha!”

I remember the arguments of Catholics–from died in the wool liberals to people like Doug Kmiec–who argued that if Obama knew a lot of pro-lifers voted for him, maybe he’d change his mind. Yeah, right. How did that work out for *them*?

Now we have Catholics arguing on the Right that if they vote for Romney, and he knows they voted for him because he claims to be pro-life and claims to be pro-marriage,

I argue with the “Catholic Left,” and they say that abortion is a settled issue, and it’s futile to keep fighting it, and it’s never going to be illegal, so it isn’t worth considering it as an issue.

Then I argue with Catholic conservatives about issues like contraception, and they say that contraception is a settled issue, and it’s futile to keep fighting it, and it’s never going to be illegal, so it isn’t worth considering.

The odds are I’m going to be dead before the election. My concern is primarily with peoples’ individual souls–including the candidates’–and not with what actually happens in the election. It’s better to vote third party, and know that you vote for someone who represents your conscience, than to vote for a major candidate by compromising your beliefs. It’s fine to vote for a “lesser of two evils” if you really think that’s necessary, but don’t try justifying the evil.

C. S. Lewis warned about “Christianity AND”. The Vatican censured the Action Francaise because its leaders referred to the Church as a tool to achieving the monarchist cause, rather than the opposite.

Shape your politics to your religion, not your religion to your politics.

More importantly, remember that human beings are flawed. The fact that you happen to like a lot of the things a particular writer or organization puts out doesn’t make that writer or organization infallible. You don’t have to 100% agree with someone. Decisions like whom to vote for are incredibly complicated, and any attempt to simplify the decision is going to be problematic.

And stop assigning absolute infallibility to people just because you generally agree with them. Let God be God.

Pharisee #1, Pharisee #2 and the Tax Collector

10 “Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.
11 The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity–greedy, dishonest, adulterous–or even like this tax collector.
12 I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’
13 But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’
14 I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:10-14)

This parable, often called “The Pharisee and the Publican [or “Tax Collector”], is one of those things often cited, along with the infamous “Judge Not, lest ye be judged” to stifle any condemnation of objective moral evil.

To properly understand this parable, however, we must also think about what it meant to be a Pharisee and what it meant to be a tax collector.

In Roman-occupied Palestine, the tax collectors were looked upon by their Jewish brethren as collaborators. They were unclean because they cooperated with the Roman authorities. They also economically cheated their brethren. When we talk about Jesus associating with “tax collectors and prostitutes”, that really applies to two different categories of people.

As C. S. Lewis points out somewhere, prostitution is not a generally glamourous profession. Few people think, “I wanna grow and be a prostitute.” It’s a profession that someone enters out of desperation. Though sadly many who enter that profession get so buried in sin that they not only lose hope but the desire for salvation, still many who are trapped in that lifestyle want a way *out*. Prostitute-type sinners are looking for a Savior, and Jesus offers that hope.

Tax collector-type sinners are on the opposite end. They’ve got it made: they have everything the world could offer. Roman tax collectors made their living off of graft. The Romans expected them to pay the required tax, but the tax collectors themselves would often abuse the tax code and overtax people to make a tidy profit–as Zaccheaus admitted to doing when he promised to give back everything he took unjustly, plus interest.

When the Pharisees condemned Jesus for “dining with tax collectors and sinners,” however, the Gospel only recounts two occasions of Jesus dining with a tax collector. One is the home of Levi/Matthew, after he abandoned tax collecting and literally dropped everything to follow Jesus. The other is Zacchaeus, who literally goes out of his way to see Jesus, then welcomes Our Lord into his home, and then promises to give away first everything he took unjustly, plus interest, and next 1/2 of everything that is rightfully his. Only after Zacchaeus promises to do that does Jesus say “truly salvation has come to this house” (Lk 19:9; a warning to the “salvation by faith alone” crowd).

So it is not really fair to say Jesus dined with “tax collectors”–the only two recorded cases were tax collectors *who had already repented*. And the same with prostitutes and adulteresses. Whether the various sinful women mentioned in the Gospels (the woman who anoints Jesus at the Pharisee’s house, the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, or Mary of Magdala) are the same or different, the essence of all these women’s stories is Jesus’ words to the woman whom He saved from stoning: “Go and sin no more.” (Jn 8:11).

Every case of the Pharisees condemning Jesus for associating with “sinners” pertains to someone who’s already repented. Indeed, the key passage where they condemn Him for doing so is at dinner at Matthew’s house (Mt 9:11)–yet the Pharisees are *right there*. They’re at the dinner party, too! When they come nad say “This woman was caught in the very act of adultery” (Jn 8:4), they condemn themselves for voyeurism, which is why reading is often paired in the Liturgy with the story of Susannah in Daniel, where a couple of peeping-Tom priests get mad when the woman they’re lusting after rejects their advances, so they accuse her of adultery (Daniel 13).

Nowhere does Jesus encourage His followers to regularly hang out with *unrepentant* sinners. Quite the contrary:

14 Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words—go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet.
. . .
34t “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. 35For I have come to set a man ‘against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36and one’s enemies will be those of his household.’

37Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and whoever does not take up his cross* and follow after me is not worthy of me. 39* v Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:14, 34-39)

And, immediately after the teaching about removing the beam from one’s own eye (Mt 7:5), Our Lord says, ““Do not give what is holy to dogs,* or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.” (Mt 7:6).

On the other hand, what are the Pharisees? Well, we know the Pharisees were self-righteous, but we forget in what their self-righteousness entailed. The Pharisees were very concerned primarily about cultural “righteousness” and about appearances, and not even necessarily about “moral righteousness.”

The Sadducees were Biblical and legal literalists. The classic Sunday school pneumonic tool that they were “sad, you see, because they didn’t believe in the Resurrection” is an oversimplification which side-steps the fact that they were the “fundamentalists” of first-century Judaism. Sadducees held that the only Scriptures were the five books of the Torah. They did not believe that the Prophets and Writings belonged in the Scriptures, and especially not the Writings that were originally written in Greek (the Deuterocanon). So any theological concepts that were introduced outside the confines of the Torah, such as the “resurrection” or the existence of angels, were rejected by the Sadducees. In cases like the ‘messengers of God’ mentioned in Genesis, a Sadducee would interpret those passages as referring to human prophets, and not to angels.

The Pharisees, by contrast, not only accepted the Prophets and Writings as part of Scripture, but they believed the law was open to interpretation based upon tradition. Our Lord to that extent agreed with their school of thought, and some scholars argue that if we are to place Jesus in any school of Judaism of His day, he’s clearly a Pharisee–He uses Pharisaical methods of Scriptural exegesis and hermeneutics.

The problem with the Pharisees, though, is their primary concern was “separating the sheep from the goats,” and emphasizing the cultural separateness of the Jews from the Gentiles. They “strained the gnat and swallowed the camel” (Mt 23:24) because they emphasized the aspects of the Law that were of lesser important but more superficial. It’s easier to sit down and say, “Let’s try some camel burgers for dinner” than it is to sit down and eat soup for dinner and find a gnat floating in one’s soup. That’s just gross.

So the Pharisees would condemn acts of external impurity (such as healing on the Sabbath) while ignoring acts of genuine immorality (such as staring at naked women in the hopes of catching them committing adultery). They would condemn collaboration with the Romans by the tax collectors while essentially collaborating themselves (again, they were at the dinner party, too).

Jesus’ most explicit condemnations of the Pharisees in Mark 7 still don’t make sense out of the historical context, but for example, when He says, “Yet you say, ‘If a person says to father or mother, “Any support you might have had from me is qorban”’* (meaning, dedicated to God),” (Mk 7:11), this refers to a legal fiction that they would create. It does not refer to giving money to the “Church” or to authentically failing to care for one’s parents because of a religious obligation–after all, the same Jesus also said “let the dead bury their dead” (Lk 9:60) and on numerous occasions called His followers to abandon their families.

What made the Pharisee’s version of “Qorban” immoral was it was a religous kind of tax evasion or asset hiding.

A prominent football coach with quite a “nest egg” legally signs everything over to his wife, claiming it’s so she won’t have to pay estate taxes when he dies. Just a couple months later, he is announced as a plaintiff in a major lawsuit, and shortly after that, it’s publicly announced he has cancer. So his critics question whether he was really providing for his wife or trying to protect his assets against the lawsuit. Whichever of the three possible motives, or all of them, it may have been, it’s a common practice to transfer assets in some some seemingly innocent way to avoid any one of those three eventualities when one knows they’re on the way.

Another example is how companies avoid various tax codes by the corporate structures they use. So some critics of “Obamacare” have noted how companies that want to avoid the penalties for “Obamacare” just have to divide themselves up into smaller “dummy corporations”, each having the maximum employees to skirt ACA’s requirements.

That’s essentially what the Pharisee’s version of “Qorban” was. The Law allowed for assets to be transferred to the Temple. Qorban was a way of legally transferring assets to the temple so they could still be used by the individual but not officially “in his name,” so he wouldn’t have to use them to care for his other obligations. I also once heard that the Pharisees would try to avoid “breaking the sabbath” by packing “just enough food” so it didn’t count as work, then stopping every so often that it wasn’t “work” to rest and have a snack so they could claim they weren’t “traveling on the sabbath”. So let’s say they said the maximum distance you could travel on the Sabbath was 10 miles. A Pharisee would walk for 10 miles, then take a break and eat a cracker and say it was a “meal.” But if he saw you walking 11 miles, he’d accuse you of breaking the Sabbath.

In Christian arguments, “Pharisee” is kind of like “Nazi” in political arguments: it gets thrown around so much as to lose its meaning, and if we’re going to accurately apply it, we need to know what it means. For the Pharisees used complicated legalisms and theological arguments to justify their own behavior while condemning others for superficial offenses (“not by appearances shall he judge,” says the Prophet, Isaiah 11:3).

It is one thing to speak of those who think they are righteous when they are not. It is one thing to speak of those who sin and admit it and don’t repent. It is a third thing to speak of those who sin and repent. However, where the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican gets misapplied, and where the charge of Pharisaism is often misapplied, is in situations within the Church where we argue with one another about moral or theological teachings.

The better passage about internecine arguments among Catholics is the “letters to the Seven Churches of Asia Minor” in Revelation 2 & 3. I believe I’ve blogged about this passage before. Like all aspects of the Book of the Apocalypse, these seven “letters” are much debated. A popular theory is that they’re about “eras of Church history” or something. But I think it’s simpler than that. In those letters, we can see the divisions that exist in the Church today and have probably always existed: the “conservatives” who are upright in God’s law but sometimes forget compassion; the “liberals” who are good about compassion but associate too much with unrepentant sinners and allow corruption to infiltrate the Church; the “charismatics”; those who get it right; the martyrs; etc.

Isaiah says “woe to those who call evil good” (5:20). This is the stock-in-trade of the so-called “Catholic Left” today. It’s one thing to show compassion to sinners, but true charity requires calling someone to repentance and welcoming them. How many of us have been to confession only to have the priest say, of an intrinsic evil, “That’s not a sin” or “That’s not a sin anymore”? I know someone who spent many years away from the Church, and then, upon regaining his faith, went to his local pastor and asked what to do, especially given some of the moral complications of his marriage and such. The priest said, “Well, the Church doesn’t believe in sin anymore, so you can just come back.”

Fr. Corapi may have fallen into trouble with his own fame getting to his head, but he still had some worthwhile stories, such as the priest at a conference who spoke of how hell and the Devil are obsolete (of course, the CDF issued a document in the 70s denouncing this popular “spirit of Vatican II” teaching). A lady asked the priest, “Father, do you *really* not believe in Hell?” “Of course not.” “Well, you will when you get there!”

When someone is calling evil good, and using theological sophistication to undermine a clear-cut teaching of the Church (such as the intrinsic evil of artificial contraception), it is not “name calling,” nor is it “Pharisaism,” to point out that such a person is on the fast track to Hell. Rather, the person who uses theological sophistries to justify evil is the one engaging in Pharisaism.

It is not uncharitable to point out that someone is speaking for the Devil, not for God. It is, rather, a supreme act of charity.

How a member of the “Christian Left” Thinks

I try, I really do. I really try to give an open mind to people who claim to be “Christian Left,” “pro-life Democrats,” etc., but it just doesn’t work. To be a part of the Christian Left, it seems that one must:

1. Turn a blind eye towards, if not condone, all the moral filth promoted by the Left in general, while condemning members of the Christian Right for being political allies of some people who are greedy or racist.
2. Support Socialism, even though the Popes have unequivocally and consistently condemned it.
3. Repeatedly insist, “Judge not lest ye be judged” when it comes to abortion, contraception, homosexuality or divorce yet simultaneously (and at the same time) insist that everyone who supports a conservative position is secretly racist, sexist or greedy, even if the latter’s words give no indication of those positions.
4. Clairvoyantly insist that all who profess to be pro-life or pro-family are just covering up deep-seated hatred for women, gays, or humanity in general.
5. See “racism” in any political cartoon, joke or photoshopped image regarding Barack Obama, yet say that even the most offensive depictions of George W. Bush or Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum are excusable because “rich white guys deserve it.”
6. Ignore statements like, “It’s Constitutional, m*****f****s” or even defend such statements as acceptable political speech yet say that “You’d have to be an idiot to think Obamacare’s giving you anything for free” is offensive and crosses the line.
7. Ignore if not support horribly sexist comments about Sarah Palin, Laura Ingraham, Ann Coulter, Ann Romney, etc., but say that Rush Limbaugh crossed the line by saying an unmarried girl who claimed to spend $1000 a year on birth control is a “slut.”
8. Again, while supporting “freedom of choice,” “same sex marriage,” etc., you insist on condemning “hate speech” and labelling any statement of traditional Christian morality, even from the Bible itself, as “hate.”
9. Make no comment when liberals say, “Republicans are nothing but a bunch of hatemongers,” but when a conservative friend quotes Russell Kirk or Dietrich von Hildebrand and tries to philosophically explain his position, and the liberals just jump in and say, “See? Another hate-monger,” you tell the conservative to cool it.
10. Most of all, to be a member of the “Christian Left,” you must support the notion of “progress,” even though if you’re truly a believing Christian you’ll know there’s no such thing: the only “progress” in human history happened 2000 years ago, and there is only the choice between accepting Christ’s grace through the Church and the Sacraments and not accepting that grace. There is individual progress in holiness, but the world can never have “progress,” especially when “progress” is defined as moving *away* from the principles of Christendom.
“Progressives” condemn the Christian Civilization of ca. 400-ca. 1800 as “the Dark Ages,” by definition condemning the Christianity that informed those times, so how could any Christian be a “progressive”?
“Progressives” ascribe to a false Marxist view of history, or at least to the Hegelian system upon which Marxism was based, which runs contrary to the Christian view of history elucidated by St. Augustine, so how can any Christian be a “progressive”?

Why I am a conservative: The Fine Arts and the LCWR

There are two reasons I am a conservative.

The first reason is abortion.

The second reason might seem more trivial but is just as important and perhaps moreso: Beauty.

Both reasons tie to the fact that what I rejected were liberal or progressive Catholics.

For Russell Kirk, conservatism is primarily about what he, following T. S. Eliot, calls the “Permanent Things,” or what Mortimer Adler would call “The Great Ideas.” In 1986, Kirk added a chapter to his magnum opus _The Conservative Mind_, officially about T. S. Eliot but also dealing with Robert Frost, talking about how it is impossible to have a truly liberal poet (he notes Shelley as a possible exception) because poets are all about the Permanent Things. C. S. Lewis, in his inaugural address as chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge, _De Descriptione Temporum_, says that there are only three true historical periods. Today, we might call these the pre-Christian, Christian and post-Christian eras. Lewis argues that only 2 true changes ever occurred in history: the arrival of Christ, and the arrival of Modernity. He suggests that he sees Western Civilization as a continuum, with the Greeks at one end and Jane Austen at the other. While he thinks that the West has tapered off, he sees Jane Austen as the last solid example of a “Truly Western writer.”

Indeed, one of the reasons I went into English was to write a thesis on Lewis’s fascination with Jane Austen, though my thesis got redirected by my committee. We can further compare Lewis’s analysis of Western culture to G. K. Chesterton, who said that Western civilization is a back-and-forth of the Greco-Roman view (i.e., Renaissance, Neo-Classical) with the Judeo-Christian view (i.e., Medieval, Baroque, Romantic/Gothic). With the rise of artistic and intellectual modernism in the late 19th Century, something new happened. The Greeks and Romans saw the world as essentially divinely-given mathematical order. The Judeo-Christian view saw the world as a miserable place infused with divine beauty from which we reach out for God.

Modernism was the first widely accepted worldview, and the first artistic movement, based upon rejection of a notion of God. As one of the music critics in the old print _Crisis Magazine_ once put it, “Music died with Nietzsche’s God.”

One of the only times I had the opportunity to teach literature, as opposed to writing, was in the 2007-2008 academic year. I avoided being overt about revealing my political or religious views, but I *did* talk about these figures and guide my teaching of literature according to explaining the back and forth of those trends in culture. This led at least one of my students to raise her hand and ask if she was correct in guessing that I supported Mike Huckabee in that year’s primary (I did).

While I read most of Lewis’s work when I was 13 and 14, I didn’t read Kirk or Chesterton till college, though _The Conservative Mind_ was one of those books that, when I read it, I put it down and said, “THIS is what I believe”!

But I was conservative before I read any of them. I wasn’t conservative from my upbringing, other than the fact that my parents were staunchly pro-life. My parents started off as “Reagan Democrats.” My father was union activist in Pennsylvania, and I despise labor unions as institutions. I was born in Erie, PA, the hometown of “Sr.” Joan Chittister and PAX Christi USA. The bishop of Erie, when I was a child, was Michael Murphy, who infamously wanted to tear out seats in St. Peter’s Cathedral to make room for a stage for liturgical dance. His successor, Donald Trautman, is known for his courageous stance against pro-choice Catholic politicians . . . named Republican Tom Ridge.

Trautman is also known for spearheading liberalism in both liturgy and Scripture. He headed the committees that created the atrocious, and Vatican-Rejected, “revised Psalms” of the NAB. He has headed the USCCB’s liturgy committee numerous times, even beyond conventional term limits. Over a decade ago, he wrote a piece on liturgy in _America_ that elicited a response from some Vatican bishops, who wrote in the letters page of _America_ that Trautman’s article was essentially calling for a schism. Trautman single-handedly stonewalled implementation of the New Translation in the US, starting with his immediate reaction to, and rejection of, _Liturgiam Authenticam_ when it was issued and his insistence over the last 10 years that Americans are too dumb to know what words like “chalice” and “consubstantial” mean.

Somehow, in spite of that wide Catholic environment, in my early childhood I managed to pick up the beauty of Catholicism that Murphy and Trautman’s generations tried to strip away so meticulously, part in thanks to my parents’ guidance (though many others from similar backgrounds wouldn’t have gotten the same result). I was as bored at Mass as many children are, and clueless about what was going on or what the Readings or homilies said. I was awed by the stained glass windows, statues, the gothic architecture, the pipe organ, the choir, and the vestments and processions.

I read my Fr. Daniel Lord _Miniature Lives of the Saints_ I got for First Communion and was impressed by the piety of the saints. I read my “Children’s First Mass Books” I got for First Communion and was moved by the beauty of the prayers in it.

It was Beauty that called to me in the liturgy and in popular devotions before I understood anything.

I thought it was so cool that monks and nuns got to stand out by wearing their habits to show their love for Jesus.

Then we moved to the South, and while the South tends to be “conservative,” generally, and maybe southern Catholics are more actively pro-life, southern Catholics, especially the ones who are not transplants, tend to be rather liberal about their faith, because of the whole, “We have to avoid getting persecuted” mentality. When they’re conservative, they tend to be the racist kind of conservatives. So I spent the second half of my formative years surrounded by charismatics and progressives, and carrying the stigma that conservative=racist, and the only people who seemed to be externally following the Church’s teachings generally seemed to be stuck-up.

Yet, in spite of all that, I was drawn to Tradition.

I had plainclothes nuns and priests telling me that everything I found attractive about Catholicism was done away with by Vatican II.

While what drew me to the faith was its *difference* from the world, I was told that to be “relevant” and “attract the youth,” the Church had to embrace the world’s “pop culture,” that organs and traditional hymns had to be set aside for guitars and folksongs (nevermind that I had not yet really understood the great patrimony of traditional Catholic music; I was just working from congregational hymns). Stained glass windows (at least those depicting saints and biblical events) and statues had to be stripped away for colorful banners and potted plants. We’d have a big day for “Thanksgiving,” when Protestant Orange would be draped over the sacred altar and the vestments of the priest.

It made no sense to me that the religion of Aloysius Gonzaga, who walked on his own to daily Mass at age 3, or Stanislas Kostka who miraculously received Communion from an angel, was to be replaced by balloon Masses and “Glory and Praise for Kids,” that the faith which so many martyrs died for *PRECISELY* because they didn’t want to participate in the evils of their own cultures was now to be spread by embracing the evils of our contemporary culture.

John Paul II coined the term “Culture of Death” in _Evangelium Vitae_. Yes, the term has been used and abused since, and become a cliche, but if you actually read the encyclical, the context of the term might make even the most avid Ron Paul supporter blush (especially those who think the Pope is *in* on “the New World Order”), for His Holiness speaks of a vast worldwide conspiracy against Life and against the Catholic Church. If we’re going to speak of a “Culture of Death,” then we have to acknowledge that concept includes “culture,” that the Culture of Postmodernism is itself part-and-parcel of the Culture of Death. The culture of contraception, abortion, and euthanasia is also the culture of sex, drugs and Rock&Roll. If a worldwide conspiracy against the Catholic Church is trying to promote abortion, contraception, divorce and so many other evils, then one must also acknowledge that such a conspiracy is involved with the government pays for crucifixes in urine or feces on images of the Blessed Mother. If we’re fighting against these evils attacking human life and the family, then we must also attack the culture which encourages people to participate in immorality, so they feel the “need” for abortion, contraception and divorce as “protection” against their own immorality that the culture has taught them is inevitable.

Those same nuns were all about “helping the poor”–which is laudable, but not when it’s politically subordinated to abortion (a position refuted by Bl. John Paul II in _Evangelium Vitae_) or worse when it’s subordinated to spirituality. In that sense, it was not so much abortion that made me conservative as “Catholicism is about serving the poor, not all that prayer stuff. You shouldn’t be doing Eucharistic Adoration. The Eucharist is supposed to be about going out and serving the poor, not staying around and worshipping it. Marian devotion was done away with by Vatican II, and it’s not what you’re supposed to be doing. You’re supposed to be serving the poor.” And to a disabled kid, whose parents were basically teetering on poverty as it was, being told that the only “true” way to serve Christ was by helping the poor, came off as essentially telling me I was damned (if their worldview was true), and it seemed hypocritical of them to be so worried about poor people who *weren’t* Catholic but not about those in their own parish, to go out and do habitat for humanity but not be bothered to help a parishioner who was likely going to die before age 20.

So *that* is why I’m a conservative. Now, as an adult, I’ve seen the faults of many who call themselves conservative, but take solace in that most of them are more neocons, anyway, but the fundamental issues still remain.

Now, I knew my understanding of Catholicism was validated by JPII, sort of, and I knew it was validated by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (which is why I spent most of my life till 2005 waiting for him to be Pope, and literally hit the ceiling when he did), and by Cardinal Arinze, and Mother Angelica, and so many saints. I knew my view of Catholicism was validated by Kirk, and Chesterton, and Dietrich von Hildebrand, etc.

However, the struggle against the habitless nuns and their cronies has raged on. It is amazing how there are so many people out there who consider themselves devout and practicing Catholics, whose worldviews are so completely different, who totally embrace “Vatican II” (or rather the “Spirit of Vatican II,” since the Council itself never said or advocated most of what they claim it did), who think that Joan Chittister and Rembert Weakland (even in spite of the latter’s disgrace) embody the “true” faith, it can be quite disheartening. Look at _Commonweal_, _America_, _US Catholic_, _St. Anthony Messenger_, or _Maryknoll_. Look at the “we’re not liberal” Catholics at Vox Nova and “Catholics United for the Common Good.” Look at so many “Catholic” colleges and institutions, like Georgetown, which invited Kathleen Sebelius to be its commencement speaker, even in the current crisis. While many of these people are intentional agents of Communism and Freemasonry, many of them really *are* well-meaning, but totally brainwashed, and think they’re following the Church. And they insist that their “view of Catholicism” is at least a perfectly valid one, if not the only valid one, and the Pope and “the Bishops” (even though many of the bishops in the US agree with them) are “out of touch.”

So, with all that said, the second great gratification came seven years after the installation of Pope Benedict XVI, when the Vatican issued its “smackdown” of the Leadership Council of Women Religious a few weeks ago. Finally, the Vatican has confirmed that all those habitless nuns are way off-base, regarding their subordination of both moral issues and personal spirituality to social justice (which is a perfectly valid concern in its proper context). Finally, they’re being told to put their habits back on.

Why Religious Pluralism is Stupid

I have been taken to task by some commentors on this blog and elsewhere for my assertion that atheists are stupid. I wish to recant that statement. Referring to my post on Invincible Ignorance, anyone who isn’t Catholic or Orthodox is stupid–and it’s just a question of whether it’s invincible ignorance or just lack of education.

If a person insists on saying that the earth is flat, in spite of the scientific evidence to the contrary, we rightly call that person stupid.
If a person insists on saying the Sun revolves around the earth, in spite of the scientific evidence to the contrary, we rightly call that person stupid.
If a person insists on a literal interpretation of the creation stories in Genesis, in spite of both the scientific evidence to the contrary, and in spite of the fact that the Early Church Fathers didn’t interpret all aspects of the Old Testament literally, we rightly call that person stupid.

Yet if a person refuses to recognize that life begins at conception, in spite of the scientific evidence, we say that person has the right to his or her own opinion.
If a person insists that same sex attraction is normal, in spite of the fact that it is biologically impossible for people of the same sex to have sexual intercourse, and in spite of the fact that a genetically favorable trait should favor reproduction, we say that person has a right to his or her own opinion.
If a person refuses to recognize that there is one God, despite the fact that logic dictates the existence of one God (see Augustine, Aquinas, G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, etc.), we say that person has the right to his or her own opinion.
If a person refuses to recognize that the one true God revealed Himself to Israel through numerous miracles that are historically documented, we say that person has a right to his or her own opinion.
If a person refuses to recognize that the Divine Word became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, revealing Himself by numerous well-documented miracles, culminating in His own resurrection from the dead, we say that person has a right to his own opinion.
If a person refuses to recognize that Jesus Christ established seven sacraments, as documented in Scripture and the Apostolic Fathers, or that He established His Church through the Apostles and their Successors, as documented in Scripture and the Apostolic Fathers, we say that person has the right to his or her own opinion.

The truths of the Catholic faith are as objectively true and as well-proven as any scientific fact or theory. The Church employs thorough methods to document miracles, and there is plenty of scientific observation and evidence to validate numerous miracles, from the sun dancing at Fatima to St. Pio’s stigmata to the Shroud of Turin and the tilma of Guadalupe.

That people refuse to accept the truth of these miracles is pure ignorance, or a refusal to accept plain fact as obstinate as the refusal to accept that the earth is round.

I’m sick to death of pussy-footing around the issue. When we, as Catholics, refuse to assert the absolute truth of our faith and concede it to be one option among a plurality of opinions, we do a disservice.

Now, no one should be killed for refusing to accept the Faith, just as no one should be killed for refusing to accept Darwinian evolution. It should not be a criminal offense to be ignorant of or refuse to accept the Truth. However, it *should* be a criminal offense to refuse to *teach* the truth. Just as schools are required to teach certain curricula about history and science, and just as parents are required to get their children educated about the basics of math, language, history and science, so too must children be educated in the historical and scientific truths of the Catholic faith, simply because they are true.

Catholicism versus Masonry–a Timeline

G. K. Chesterton said that the greatest heresy has always been Gnosticism, and that the Church’s battle has always been with Gnosticism in various forms. Gnosticism itself grew out of the Babylonian mystery cults, and the Gnostics would adapt their views to every culture and religion they encountered. There were Jewish Gnostics before Christianity even existed–the Kabbalists, and the Gnosticism latched on to Christianity very quickly–such that the New Testament is full of references to Gnosticism (though the term is not used directly in the New Testament).

The Gnostics believed in a dualistic world. They believed that Good and Evil were equal forces in the cosmos, that matter was evil and spirit was good, and the objective was to free one’s spirit from the chains of matter. They believed that most people were little more than animals and lived in ignorance, but a select few were capable of becoming enlightened and attaining the secret knowledge of the cosmos (Gnosis, from which “Gnosticism” comes). They believed that this secret knowledge included the ability to transcend matter in this lifetime and eachieve what we might today call magical powers. Gnostics read their beliefs into the Bible. “Christian” Gnostics argued that the God of the Old Testament, the creator of matter, was evil, and that actually Lucifer was the good God, and Jesus was the messenger of Lucifer. In another variant, they looked to the differences between the use of “Elohim” and “Yahweh” in the Old Testament and suggested this as evidence of two different Gods, one good and one evil.

Gnosticism has taken many forms throughout history. In the Middle Ages, workers of various kinds would join together into guilds, to divide up territories, share resources, share knowledge, etc. Somehow, in the 1600s or thereabouts, the builders’ guilds began expanding from merely sharing professional knowledge to actually aggrandizing their profession. They began celebrating the achievements of the ancient societies and seeking ways to recreate them. In the 1700s, in conjunction with the neo-Classical era in the arts, the Builders’ Guilds–the Masonic guilds–began celebrating the architectural achievements of Egypt, Greece and Rome and seeking to recreate them.

Somewhere along the line, they even began celebrating the Tower of Babel! If the pyramids were models to be admired, and the Bible condemns the Egyptians, then maybe there’s something wrong with the Bible. If the Tower of Babel was something to be admired, then maybe the God who condemned the Tower of Babel was actually bad!

So, somewhere along the line, the Masonic guilds began adopting the ancient Gnostic beliefs. They started to argue that the standard interpretations of the Bible were wrong, and that there was a actually a secret knowledge behind the Bible. The Egyptians had the authentic religion, of which Christianity was a counterfeit (after years of reading about them, I recently heard some of these views firsthand from a Mason).

Now, in 1700s Europe, it was becoming common to have people who were overtly atheists, or at least Deists (certainly, there had always been such people in practice, but it was now becoming acceptable to espouse such beliefs). There were various Protestant sects, as well as Catholics. So the Guilds, which used to be explicitly Catholic, began to embrace toleration of different religious beliefs.

OK, so all of this stuff kind of coalesced like most historical movements do, and there were several strains. No single movement developed, but a lot of similar movements developed that came to be known as Lodges or Masonic Lodges. Most of these movements had similar ideas. Some embraced Gnostic ideals. Some embraced a secular idea of people working together for the common good without reference to religion. All of them had a general view that the old modes of European society, particularly the Catholic Church, had to be thrown off. Even the term “Enlightenment” itself came out of these movements: they held that the era of Christendom had been the “Dark Ages,” and they were now seeking Enlightenment from reviving the ancient pagan cultures.

In the 1700s, Popes began writing encyclicals condemning the Lodges. There were several reasons they were condemned. First, the Lodges involved secret oaths, and Catholics who were members of Lodges were bound by oath not to confess sins they committed in conjunction with their Lodges. The Church was suspicious of how the Lodges wanted to keep the Church out of their business.

Secondly, the Lodges promoted civic charity that was not explicitly Christian, and the Popes said that Charity was only possible with a religious context. They argued that charity without Christ had no merit. Charity without Christ could only be done by coercion or by incentive of earthly reward.

Thirdly, the Lodges promoted cooperation between people of different faiths, or no faith at all. Tying in with point 2, the Popes condemned the Lodges for teaching that religious differences were irrelevant, all religions were equal, and religion was just a means to achieving civic virtue.

The Lodges gradually began to influence political movements, and they began to promote revolution against the old orders, both the monarchies and the Church.

In 1776, a group of Masons in America revolted against their king. Later, they would pass a Bill of Rights that enshrined in its first Amendment the notion, condemned by the Popes, that all religions were equal and government should be separate from religion.

In France, a bloody, violent revolution sprung up, inspired by the one in America. Churches would be destroyed. Priests and religious would be martyred. Relics and Sacramentals and works of great religious art would be burned. The Goddess Liberty would be held up as the new deity, in replacement of the Christian God. Catholic schools would be outlawed, and public funded schools that taught a secular education would be established.

In America, similarly public-funded schools would be established. While they would not be completely secular like the French schools, they would teach Protestantism, specifically. And while the Constitution guaranteed Freedom of Religion, the general presumption of the Founding Fathers was that that meant Protestantism. Jews and Catholics would be tolerated as long as they didn’t “rock the boat,” and Catholic Founder Charles Carroll, though himself not officially a member of the Masons, would espouse the very notion that the Popes were condemning. Carroll argued that religion, other than as a source of civic virtue, should be kept in the Church, and that Catholics could easily co-exist among Protestants in America if we kept our religion private. This would be echoed by John F. Kennedy nearly 200 years later, when he proclaimed on the campaign trail that he would not be beholden to the Pope. Then, in contemporary times, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would state that America was a country of freedom of worship, not freedom of religion, and religion should be kept to the home and the church and not expressed in the public sphere.

In 1830, the Blessed Virgin would appear to a Vincentian nun, St. Catherine Laboure, at the Church of Our Lady of Victories, in Rue de Bac, Paris, France. These apparitions would be famous for giving the world the Medal of the Immaculate Conception, later known as the Miraculous Medal. However, it would be less known that Our Lady at those apparitions condemned the revolutions that had been going on since the American Revolution, saying that the errors of America would spread around the world and nearly destroy the Church, that the cry of revolution and democracy would spread immorality among the people.

In 1846, the Virgin would appear again in France, to two shepherd children in a village called La Salette. Now, there would be issues with the alleged visionaries’ testimonies changing over time. Also, even if an alleged apparition is given approval, the Church almost never approves of messages that claim to predict the future. The prophecies of Fatima are a rare, if not unique, exception. However, the alleged prophecies of La Salette are pretty interesting. They include:

1. That starting in the 1860s, the demons would be allowed a special century to wreak havoc and try to destroy the Church.
2. That *after* that century (hence, starting in the 1960s), the fruits of their century of work would be scene, and there would be great evil in the world.
3. That as part of this, Satan would inspire people to invent many new technologies. La Salette predicted the telephone, television, airplane and other technologies that would make people think they had now become gods.
4. That starting in the 1960s, people would come about who claimed to be “resurrected dead,” and they would have accounts of dying and experiencing the afterlife, but their accounts would contradict Church teaching. She said these people would, in fact, be dead bodies inhabited by demons: an eerie prediction of the New Age “Near Death Experience” phenomenon.

In the meantime, the Masonic Lodges would spin off various political “parties,” all touting variations of the same themes of forcing secular charity, abolishing the ties of Church and state, etc. Some of these groups would call themselves Republicans, some Democrats, some Socialists, some Communists, but they’d all teach basically the same things.

When Charles Darwin published his book _Origin of the Species_, it gave Freemason Karl Marx a scientific back-up to the theory of history he had already developed based upon the Hegelian dialectic.

In America, Freemason Joseph Smith would claim a new revelation and start a new religion called the Latter Day Saints, or Mormonism, which would derive many of its beliefs from ancient ideas condemned by Christianity as heresy, including Gnosticism and Arianism.

As the Popes continued to issue documents condemning Freemasonry, membership in Lodges, and the rising communist/socialist ideal, Pope Pius IX would issue, in 1864, the “Syllabus of Errors,” a list of errors he had already previously condemned, most revolving around the Masons and the Communists.

Pius IX’s successor, Leo XIII, who would personally interview one of the La Salette visionaries, made similar condemnations of “modernism,” another name for the general set of Masonic ideals.

In the 1890s, Pope Leo XIII would condemn a set of notions which he collectively called “Americanism.” Since “Americanism” was a collection of notions, and he addressed it in several documents (most notably 1895’s _Longinqua Oceani_ and 1899’s _Testem Benevolentiae_), there would be some confusion about what Leo XIII meant by “Americanism.” Some people argued that Leo was misinterpreting what American Catholics thought. Others argued that he was condemning the idea of European countries adopting American ideals. However, he was actually doing all of the above. The set of notions Leo considered “Americanism” included:

1. Pluralism and the concept of “Assimilation”
2. Individualism
3. “Wall of Separation between Church and State.” Leo applauded the notion that people should have liberty to choose their own faith, but he condemned the notion that the state should be completely separate from the Church. He said that the Catholic Church should still receive preferential treatment from the State, and the State had to obey the Church’s teachings on matters of morality.
4. Minimizing Catholic doctrine, disparaging of religious life, and downplaying of spiritual direction. He condemned, back then, what we today call “Cafeteria Catholicism.”
5. Spreading of American ideals in Europe.

While Leo condemned some of these tendencies in American Catholicism, he also praised certain aspects of American achievement and praised what the Church was accomplishing at that point in America.

Leo would also have his own vision of a “wager” between God and the Devil, that the Devil asked for 100 years of free reign to try and destroy the Church. Leo wrote the prayer to St. Michael and ordered that it be said at all Masses.

Also in the 1890s, the Holy Office (formerly Inquisition; now Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith) would arrest a priest for membership in the Masons. That priest would claim that there were already numerous Masons infiltrating the Church hierarchy, and that eventually the Masons would arrange for there to be another Council, after which the Church would be unrecognizable.

In 1929, at its Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Church would become the first Christian church to endorse contraception by married couples (noting that, contrary to popular misconception today, the first condoms were invented in 3000 BC, and ancient cultures used various forms of contraceptive devices, herbs, etc., that were collectively known as “witchcraft”).

In 1943, Anglican apologist C. S. Lewis would deliver a series of lectures collectively called _The Abolition of Man_, where he would talk about certain trends in culture and education that he found troubling, concluding with the notion that a vast movement was at work to undermine the traditional notion of the human person. He noted that birth control was at the heart of this movement and would totally undermine the notion of what it meant to be a human being. While he noted that, at the time, the Communists and Nazis seemed most intent to “abolish man,” as he put it, Lewis observed that the greatest threat would lie in the democratic Western nations.

Before his death in the late 1950s, Pope Pius XII would be known to mutter that the Vatican “stank of sulfur” and that he felt the presence of demons in the Vatican.

His successor, John XXIII, would call for a Council to finish the work begun at Vatican I from 1869-1870. He acknowledged that the Church, which had evolved organically for much of its history, had become kind of stagnant in battering the hatches against assaults from the Protestants, Masons and Communists in the recent centuries.

John XXIII called for a Council that would be unique in that its primary purpose would be pastoral, not doctrinal. It would mainly look at how to best address the issues of the modern world.

Once the Council began, however, many of the bishops began steering it in directions the Pope did not intend. Reportedly, on his death bed in 1963, John XXIII cried out, “Stop the Council!”

At some point during the Council itself, when language about birth control was being formulated that suggested governments had the right to practice population control, Cardinal Ottaviani, prefect of the Holy Office, protested that the language contradicted church teaching. Ottaviani would later issue a scathing condemnation of some of the Council’s apparent teachings known as his “Intervention.”

Meanwhile, Catholic philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand, whom Pius XII had already labelled a “twentieth century doctor of the Church,” who had been an outspoken critic of the radical Right during World War II, became an outspoken critic of Vatican II (interestingly, a young Fr. Josef Ratzinger would become acquainted with von Hildebrand, who attended Ratzinger’s parish when visiting Germany). In 1973, the Vatican newspaper _L’Osservatore Romano_ would praise von Hildebrand’s _Trojan Horse in the City of God_ as the definitive interpretation of Vatican II and required reading for anyone concerned with the state of the Church. In _Satan at Work_, von Hildebrand would document evidence that the Communist Party USA and the KGB had sent communist agents to infiltrate Catholic seminaries throughout the US and Europe, and now as much as 10% of Catholic priests were Communists, with a greater number being Communist sympathizers.

During its last two years, Vatican II would be very much a battle between Pope Paul VI and the bishops. A vocal contingent of bishops would demand more sweeping “reforms” than what the Pope would allow, and the Pope would call for more orthodox language in some cases that the bishops refused to implement (for example, Paul VI wanted to declare Mary “Mother of The Church,” but the influential bishops at the Council wanted to de-emphasize Our Lady to appease the Protestants, so Paul went around their back and used the title in one of his personal documents).

Even before the Council, new forms of Church architecture would be implemented that were based upon modernist architectural ideals. While the Council called for certain liturgical reforms, immediately after the Council, radical liturgical innovations were implemented before the Church would even issue a new Missal. Everything from the adoption of folk and rock music to removal of altar rails and the creation of freestanding altars to communion on the hand and even the use of grape juice and cookies began to be implemented around the world. Many of these “reforms” were implemented without any explicit documentation from the Vatican, and then grandfathered in when the new Missal would be issued.

Meanwhile, Paul VI would encourage use of the traditional liturgy by those who wanted to retain it. Paul VI would emphasize that Vatican II was purely pastoral, reformulating Catholic teaching without issuing any new dogmas, that anything that came out of Vatican II that was not previously defined was not dogmatically binding. He said that the purpose of the Council was to address Modernism in a new form, to directly appeal to people of all faiths with the beauty of the Catholic Church.

Since “the Pill” was originally invented by Catholics trying to find a way to help women regulate their cycles for effective use of the “Rhythm Method,” many priests told Catholics it was OK to use “the Pill.” As Vatican II was going on, rumors began to spread that the Pope would endorse contraception, and many theologians, priests and bishops staked their reputation on that promise to laity.

The Pope would convene a panel to discuss the issue of birth control pills, and whether they were an acceptable form of NFP or whether they operated the same way condoms did. While some members of the panel emphatically supported the Church’s traditional teachings, the majority would apparently decide not only that the Pill was OK, but recommend that the Pope permit all artificial contraception. Instead, Paul VI issued _Humanae Vitae_, a reaffirmation of the Church’s teachings, condemning barrier methods and pills, but giving a new level of approval to the Natural Family Planning methods the Church had been considering since the early 1800s.

The issuance of HV would see a rebellion among bishops, priests, theologians and laity against the Pope. Meanwhile, in the general world, the Pill would be seen as inspiring a “sexual revolution.” In 1968, the kinds of periodic youth rebellions that had become commonplace in France for nearly 200 years would be seen around the world.

The new popular culture of “sex, drugs and rock & roll” would promote rebellion and promote the notion that it was perfectly common and acceptable for “teenagers” to rebel against authority.

A “New Age” movement would once again repackage the old views of the Gnostics, promoting “enlightenment,” “spirituality” rather than “religion,” the “power of positive thing,” the ability to manipulate things with ones mind if one became “enlightened,” etc. Noting that an upcoming shift in a 2,000 year astrological cycle would mean that the earth was moving out of the “Age of Pisces” (the fish, the symbol of Christianity), to the “Age of Aquarius,” the “Age of Aquarius” would be promoted as the literal “New Age,” the post-Christian era.

In the 1970s, Paul VI would say that the “Smoke of Satan” had reached the highest levels of the Church. Future Pope Karol Wojtyla would say the Church was involved in the greatest fight in her history. In the late 1960s, Joseph Ratzinger would predict that the Church was facing an era of great persecution, that the Church was going to lose most of her property and status, and that in the 21st Century, the Church would be made up of small groups of devout believers living as a persecuted minority. He would repeat these predictions 30 years later as Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. Later, as Pope, he would state that the Church was facing the greatest battle in her history.

Vatican II would basically say the same things that all the “anti-Modernist” popes had said, though with a tone of positivity towards individual choice and as an appeal to the people to embrace the Church, rather than a top-down instruction to bishops to condemn erroneous notions. Yet many would see the Council as endorsing the very views those earlier popes condemned, practicing would Ratzinger would later call a “hermeneutic of discontinuity.”

Some who embraced such a hermeneutic would rebel against the Council, seeing the alleged 19th Century masonic priest’s prediction as being fulfilled, and seeing the Gates of Hell as having prevailed against the hierarchy in Rome. Others would, conversely, praise the Church’s alleged embrace of “progress.”

John Paul II and Benedict XVI would later echo their predecessors by condemning the relativism that had become dominant in society, insisting that states had to listen to the Church on matters of morality and justice, and demanding that Catholics in democratic societies use their political rights to vote in the Church’s teachings, particularly on issues like contraception and abortion.

As various forms of Masonic governments failed time and again in other countries, new persecution would develop in America. Fulfilling C. S. Lewis’s prediction, the embrace of sexual license caused by contraception would be used to undermine Christianity, particularly the Catholic Church. Starting with forcing adoption agencies to let homosexual couples adopt, moving on to a recognition of same sex “marriage” that was unprecedented in history (carrying with it the implication that such “marriage” must be accepted by churches and anyone engaged in the “marriage industry”) and culminating in a law forcing Catholic institutions to pay for abortion and contraception, a new persecution of Catholicism would begin in the “land of the free.”

Yet many Catholics in America would embrace the entire Masonic assault on the Church, even while claiming to be devout Catholics. Ignoring all the Papal condemnations of liberty that is license rather than the freedom to choose the goo, the Papal condemnations of socialism and secular “charity,” the papal condemnations of religious pluralism that denies the primacy of the Catholic Church, the papal condemnations of “Americanism,” the condemnations of modernism by various saints and Marian apparitions, and the obvious incompatibility of liberal values with all the teachings of the Church for 2,000 years, somehow people would still insist that they were fulfilling Catholic teaching by supporting the “progressive” movements in society.

The Culture Wars are Real, and It’s Time to Draw a Line

A year or two before he became Pope John Paul II, Karol Cardinal Woytyla gave a sermon in which he said that the Church is engaged in the greatest conflict in her history. Nearly 20 years later, in 1995’s _Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life)_, Bl. JPII would speak of the war between a Culture of Death and a Culture of Life.

Yet, somehow, even today, there are Catholics who insist there’s no such thing as a “Culture War,” and that those of us who speak of a “Culture War” are Right Wing racists.

Now, in 2012, Benedict XVI has made a similar statement to the US Bishops in their ad limina visit, that our country with its proud heritage of religious freedom is facing an unprecedented attack on that very freedom, and that he’s greatly concerned with the things coming out of the Obama Administration.

Those bishops, in turn, down to the most liberal bishops like Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, have spoken out against Obama’s attempt to force Catholic doctors to provide contraception, Catholic insurers to pay for it, and Catholic employers to pay for it in their insurance plans. Initially, even some liberal Catholic publications stood with the bishops in defending freedom of conscience, but when Obama offered his ludicrous “compromise” (if contraception is a “free” option on insurance plans, then the Church wouldn’t technically be paying for it), now the usual suspects (most notably, _America_ Magazine) have called on the bishops to be more tolerant and compromise. One Obama Administration official even tried to say that the US Bishops have always opposed the “Health Care Reform” act commonly known as Obamacare, and that this is just a guise for their Republican activism! HAH! Timothy Cardinal Dolan of NYC has called them out on this boldfaced lie, noting how the USCCB actively supported health care reform *other* than its inclusion of abortion and contraception.

Indeed, this writer, for one, was sorely disappointed in how actively the US Bishops *did* promote Obama’s health care agenda. It seemed like it was another case of them just paying lip service to opposing abortion and contraception, and totally ignoring the fact that the Catholic Church condemns socialism.

Yet, “The Catholic bishops are just a bunch of Right Wing Activists” has become the talking point of the Left. The very fact that this whole thing is about crushing the Catholic Church is shown in the many comments from the Left that the Church’s position on contraception is unfair to women, that this is not about freedom of religion (“because your religion is wrong”), etc.

Again, the Obama Administration is using the support of liberal Catholics like the folks at _America_ and numerous liberal Catholic pundits around the country to argue that the bishops are “out of touch” with “rank and file” laity. Nancy Pelosi, who shows that she’s possessed by the fact that she wouldn’t even utter the name of Jesus when asked when Jesus became Flesh, says that she’ll “stand with my fellow Catholics in supporting the President in this bold step.”

8 years ago, Pat Buchanan said that the murder of Terri Schiavo ought to be the watershed moment in the culture wars, that there was no going back. Most certainly, nothing so clearly marked the lines of the Culture Wars than that event. Liberals and some “conservatives” were absolutely convinced that Michael Schiavo was a noble crusader for the “right to die.” Pro-lifers were convinced that the Schindlers were noble crusaders for the right to life. There was no middle ground. There could be no middle ground.

A great judicial injustice–that one single judge who had numerous behind the scenes issues with his legitimacy as a judge and his collusion with Michael Schiavo could keep ruling on the same case without appeal–was rectified by Terri’s Law, the federal law passed to allow a federal appeals court to hear the case. The federal courts refused, saying they had no jurisdiction–even though Congress had just used its Constitutional authority to *give* them jurisdiction. At first, the Republicans in the House suggested impeachment hearings for Contempt of Congress against the federal justices involved, but when the media and the Congressional Democrats expressed outrage, and the bugaboo of a “Constitutional Crisis” was raised, the Republicans backed down, and Terri was cruelly starved to death.

That should have been it, but nothing happened.

Now, eight years later, we have this clear case of the government trying to force the Catholic Church to not only endorse but pay for artificial birth control, and you would think that would stand as a similar line of demarcation.

The bishops are saying, again, that this is a war against the Church. Yet when the Senate voted last week on an Amendment to provide conscientious objection in Obamacare, the Senate voted it down, and 13 “Catholic” senators voted against the Church. Again, Nancy Pelosi and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, both “Catholics,” have stood firm with Obama. Why aren’t all of these people being excommunicated forthwith???

Now, we have the permutation of the Sandra Fluke Affair. This feminist activist testifies before Congress that she wants Congress to force Georgetown University, a Catholic institution, to pay for her birth control so she can fornicate at will, and Rush Limbaugh calls her a “slut” (which dictionary.com deampanfines as an “immoral or dissolute woman”), and the debate is over whether it was rude of Rush Limbaugh to call her that!!

Catholics are complaining that it was wrong to call her that, that her private activities are nobody’s business (then why did she testify about them before Congress?), etc.

It’s outrageous! When are we going to say enough is enough? I’m sick of being told that conservatives are divisive, that conservatives are hateful and vitriolic and venomous. I’m sick of being told that we should just look aside at the murder of 50 million babies. I’m sick of being told that rampant divorce and adultery and fornication are to be tolerated because “Jesus said not to judge.”

I’m sick of the people who act like Catholicism began with Vatican II, who balk at Tradition in every other respect, telling me that it’s traditional for Catholics to vote Democrat. I’m sick of being told “There are other issues besides abortion” when I cannot figure out *one* issue in which the Democrats are in accordance with Catholic teaching. I am sick of being told that I have to “CoExIsT” with people who want me dead. I’m sick of being told that I have to have “unity” with people who have a totally different worldview than I do. I’m sick of being told that I’m wrong to say there’s only one True Church, that no one has a monopoly on truth and all ideas should “CoExIsT,” but that the same people who say that will throw a hissy fit if you suggest that Biblical Creation or even Aristotelian Intelligent Design should be taught in conjunction with Darwinism.

I’m sick of liberal Catholics trying to claim that they are “good Catholics” when they vote for the Democrats, oppose Papal teaching, support artificial birth control, oppose the Reform of the Reform, oppose the Extraordinary Form of the liturgy, oppose traditional devotions, oppose Latin, oppose any Catholic teaching that comes before 1960, and totally ignore Leo XIII’s condemnation of the Americanist Heresy. I’m sick to death of being told that I have to accept such people as my fellow Catholics, when they very clearly are heretics and are not in any way shape or form Catholic, other than the fact that they show up every now and then to receive Communion sacrilegiously.

This *IS* a Culture War, and the Church *IS* under attack, and it’s time we acknowledged it, and it’s time we started by identifying the traitors who are attacking the Church from within.

“There’s not going to be a Reagan @—— on this show”

It’s always interesting when seemingly separate news stories converge on a similar theme.  This week, this has happened with three stories about recent studies.

First, the Census Bureau announced last week that married couples are now a minority of US households, and more people are cohabiting than married.

Second, a fellow named Ben Shapiro has royally ticked off the Hollywood elite with his upcoming book, _Primetime Propaganda_, based upon interviews he conducted with various TV executives about their agendas.  Shapiro, a Jewish Harvard grad, asked for interviews with various TV executives for a study of “social themes in television,” and thinking he was a fellow liberal, they gladly shared their agendas with him.  He also recorded all the interviews, and he has published many of the videos.

I’ve read several articles about the controversy, and mentioning some key quotations.   He’s got some real zingers from big time producers, directors, writers, etc., saying how conservatives are “stupid” and “medieval” and completely unwelcome in Hollywood.  He talks about some performers who, while not totally blacklisted, were relegated to B or C-list status merely because of their conservative beliefs.  One example was _A-Team_ and _Star Trek_ star Dwight Schults (Murdoch/Barclay), who was rejected for a role on _St. Elsewhere_ (which went to Howie Mandel) because, as producer Bruce “Gwyneth’s dad” Paltrow put it, “There’s not going to be a Reagan a****** on this show!”

Thoughts on this issue:

1.  The “Teletubby Principle”: Liberals love pushing their agenda in every avenue they can, but they hate it when their agenda is exposed.  In other words, among themselves, or when they think they’re among themselves, they’ll be completely up front about what they’re doing.  If a conservative exposes it, however, even *quoting* what they’ve said to begin with (or, in this case, showing them on video saying it!), that conservative is a nutcase conspiracy theorist.  Way back in the late 1990s, gay publications started proudly proclaiming that the then-new PBS fad, _Teletubbies_, was full of homosexual subtext.  Someone writing for a magazine owned by Jerry Falwell quoted what these gay rights activists were saying about the show, and the mainstream media spun the story as, “Jerry Falwell says _Teletubbies are gay.  What a loon!”  (Falwell for his part said he thought _Teletubbies_ was a great show, that his grandkids watched it, and he didn’t even know of the controversy till everyone else did).
The MSM, including FOX News, like to push the notion that conservatives are uneducated and anti-intellectual, but whenever conservatives demonstrate critical thinking skills or cite their sources, it’s “paranoia,” “conspiracy theories,” etc.

I spent 2 years in graduate school taking classes from liberal literature professors telling me all about postmodernism, Marxist criticism, feminist criticism, etc.  It’s OK if you apply those methods *as* a liberal among liberals, but if you’re a conservative, and you turn their own methods back on them, you’re a bigot and a conspiracy theorist.  Thus, the “spin” on Shapiro’s book is not what he’s recorded and quoted straight from the horses’ mouths, but it’s that Shapiro is obviously a racist and a liar!!

2.  For example, I just saw a comment from one liberal who referred to Stephen Colbert (the liberal Catholic darling of all sorts of people) saying that “Hollywood has a liberal bias because life has a liberal bias.”  To the minds of liberals, conservatism = racism, and the existence of minorities is itself liberal.  They’re trying to spin Shapiro’s quotations to make it sound like Shapiro is uncomfortable with depictions of minorities on TV.  That’s not Shapiro’s point.  One of the most-quoted points in the book is that Sesame Street was intended for inner city minority kids.  This is no closely guarded secret that Shapiro has uncovered by deep cover spy work; it can be found in any article or retrospective about the show.  My kids and I were watching the old 20th Anniversary special on tape a couple months (OK, I was watching it; the kids left the room) back, and they talked about the same thing.  Gordon (played by a different actor then) was originally supposed to be the main character, and Oscar the Grouch was supposed to be a metaphorical racist. Now, what the liberals are taking out of Shapiro talking about this is that *he’s* a racist because he doesn’t like that _Sesame Street_ depicted minorities.  That’s not his point.  His point is that the producers of _Sesame Street_, like typical liberals, have a condescending attitude towards minorities.

His point is that _Sesame Street_, by the producers’ own admission, is designed to make children comfortable with liberal ideas like divorce, etc.  Again, watch any retrospective special, DVD commentary, or whatever about _Sesame Street_, and they’ll brag about the “expert educators” they use to determine how to integrate “social themes” into the show.  I’m a huge Henson fan, but come on, watch or read *any* real life interview with the guy, and it’s  obvious he was a pinko.  He made no secret of it.  And Sesame Street is on the Socialist Broadcasting System.  What is the big secret?  The only reason people find this notion absurd is precisely that they’ve been brainwashed by it.

3.  Does anyone think people like Susan Harris, Linda Bloodworth Thomason, Tony Thomas or Norman Lear are *not* flaming liberals?  Again, they make no secret of their agendas!!!  They say it!  The only thing that makes Shapiro’s book special is that he catches them showing what absolute contempt  they have for conservatives, and even that is no big secret.
Yet the idiots in the comboxes keep saying things like, “Don’t conservatives have something better to do,” and “Come on, it’s just a TV show.”  And we’re to believe that conservatives are idiots?

A liberal won’t let you read a book or watch a show or movie, without telling you every little theme of subtext in it, and without insisting it *has* to have subtext, but if a conservative does the same thing, the conservative is a nutjob, a time waster, a spoilsport, etc.

That brings us to the third related tidbit in the news this week: a survey which asked Americans what percentage of the population they think is homosexual.  52% of Americans think that 20% or more of the population are gay.   35% think that 25% or more are gay, which means that they think there are more “gay” people than Catholics, African Americans, Hispanics, etc.   In reality, the most generous figure of people who identify themselves as “gay” or bisexual is maybe 4%.

Another case of liberal hypocrisy I like to point out, along with the “Teletubby Principle”, is how, when Ellen Degeneres “came out of the closet” and had her TV character do the same, ABC said it was important to represent gays and lesbians on TV because they were supposedly 10% of the population.   A couple years later, when the Catholic League led a coalition of devout religious groups (Including the Jewish ADL) and pro-life groups in protesting ABC’s _Nothing Sacred_, the network claimed, “We cannot allow programming decisions to be made by what amounts to 10% of the population.”  HUH?  (And so they think that sincere religious believers and pro-lifers account for only 10% of the population??)

Joe Carter at First Things matches these perceptions up to GLAAD’s evaluations of representations of “GLBT” people on scripted “prime time” television (he notes the numbers are even higher if you include “reality TV,” news, talk shows and daytime dramas.  Now, the number of gay characters on network and cable scripted series today has skyrocketed since Ellen’s controversial outing nearly 20 years ago.  The number of prominent “gay” characters out of the total number of regular and recurring characters on current-running shows is probably about 4%, anyway.

However, Carter points out that this doesn’t match up to the depiction of Christians, which he claims is unfavorably skewed down.  Of course, a barrage of commentors have challenged Carter’s claims, arguing that people presume TV characters are “Christian” unless otherwise noted, or that studio execs are afraid of touching Christianity and courting controversy.  Yet they’re *not* afraid of courting controversy by a) insulting Christians; b) depicting committed Christians, if at all, as hypocrites and freaks  and terrorists; c) depicting *other* religions in a favorable manner; d) depicting divorce, fornication, adultery, etc.

If the argument is that characters on TV should fairly depict what America “looks like,” and so they need to have a certain percentage of gay characters just like they have to have certain percentages of black and hispanic and female characters, that’s fine.  Then let’s look at ABC’s statements about the _Ellen_ controversy and the _Nothing Sacred_ controversy again: 10% are homosexual (actually, far less)?  10% are pro-life, committed believers of Christianity and Judaism (actually, far more)?  Then there should be at *least* as many characters on TV who are sincere, committed Evangelicals, Catholics and Orthodox Jews as there are characters who are gay.

Why don’t we ever see a TV show with a man or woman who has more than 3 kids *and is happy about  it*?

I’m pretty sure there are more Catholic monks and nuns in this country than Buddhist monks, but if TV shows want to depict someone “holy” and “at peace” and all that, they show a Buddhist monk or monastery.

People on TV shows and movies always recommend yoga and tantric meditation and stuff as ways of attaining peace, but you never hear them suggesting the Rosary or Eucharistic Adoration.

Quotes of Wisdom come from Confucius and the Bhagavad Gita and whatever, but never from the Bible.  If they do quote the Bible, it’s that one verse from Leviticus they love to quote, or maybe Psalm 23 or something, and usually it’s some made-up verse that anyone with a modicum of familiarity with Sacred Scripture knows doesn’t exist.  (One of my favorite examples of this was a time on _The X-Files_, when a “Bible verse” was cited from the Gospel of John.  I forget the exact made-up chapter and verse they used, but it implied that the 21-chapter Gospel of John had well over 50 chapters).

And people think there is no liberal bias in the media?

“It’s still Jesus”

When one criticizes contemporary/folk/hippie Masses online, a common response is “It’s still Jesus.”
Well, that depends upon the priest and whether he’s saying the words of the Mass correctly, but of course it’s valid–that’s the point.

The point is: are we giving Jesus the reverence He deserves? Is it right to participate in something we believe very strongly is irreverent to Jesus?

Back during the Mother Angelica/Cardinal Mahony fight in 1998, Bishop Thomas Tobin, then of Youngstown, pointed out that, while Cardinal Mahony’s defense was that he mentioned transubstantiation in a footnote, there is something very wrong about reducing transubstantiation to a footnote.

There is something wrong if the best we can say about the Divine Liturgy is, “At least it’s still Jesus.”

Why Islam is, in the truest sense of the word, Satanic

I keep reflecting on the vicious animosity that “Islamophobes” have towards Islam. Now, I despise Islam as a religion, but I am willing to accept that many Muslims, who practice a loose interpretation of the Koran, who live virtuous lives like “Emeth” the good Calormene in C. S. Lewis’s The Last Battle,. And even if all Muslims were violent “Islamofascists,” full fledged members of Al Qaeda and Hezbollah, etc., I still wouldn’t buy into the “Let’s kill all Muslims” rhetoric, since of course that goes plainly against Catholic teaching on so many levels.

And when I hear people spouting this angry, bitter filth, I think, “Then the Muslims have won. They’ve made you just like them.

Satan means “Accuser,” and that is exactly the role Islam plays in the “grand scheme of things”; it is the Accuser.

Satan is a legalist–this is why, Fr. Amorth teaches, it is important to use the right formulae in spiritual warfare: not that God cares, but the Devil cares.

Mohammed took God’s Law, chopped it up, rearranged it, and re-presented it as his own revelation. Most of the moral and social laws in the Koran are taken from the Bible. Then Mohammed went around accusing Christians and Jews of not following God’s law.

This is where the “middle ground” between so called “Islamofascists” (a term which is neither helpful nor accurate, since fascism is a specific political philosophy, and it is hard to see how the ragtag suicide bombers of al Qaeda reflect a political philosophy of strict central government and social order) and the “peaceful Muslims,” a middle ground which says the Quran forbids killing the “innocent” or that the Qu’ran only orders the killing of “infidels,” and that only those who deny God are “infidels.”

Yet Mohammed went around challenging Christians and Jews. There is the famous story of how he challenged the Christian priests to walk through fire to prove their faith (more on this later). When Islam finds a weakness in a Christian or Jew, be it failure to obey the Torah, sin, or just an apparent lack of trust in Providence, then it says, “Kill the Infidel!”

The problem is that, throughout history, far too many Christians have given Muslims reason to believe we are, in fact, infidels. As I say to fundamentalists who tell me they think it’s possible for a Catholic to be a Christian but they don’t know many: “I don’t know many Catholics who are Christians, either.”

Islam, as it has been often noted, is really a Christian heresy–the only heresy started by a non-Christian–and the areas it rules are the areas where Christianity failed either by going into heresy or by going into schism from Rome or both.

And as Europe has become Protestant and now secularized, Islam is moving into Europe.

Islam has never been defeated by war, and it has never been defeated by Christians stooping to the Muslims’ level. In _Star Wars_, a Jedi who acts in anger to kill even the most evil Sith Lord will only give the Sith the ultimate victory by succumbing to the Dark Side himself. Vader/Anakin Skywalker overcomes the paradox by killing the emperor as part of his own redemption, not killing the Emperor in anger but rather to save his own son.

Similarly, whenever “Christians” succumb to anger and hatred against Muslims, they allow Islam the ultimate spiritual victory. If, as some say we should, we were to completely eradicate Afghanistan and Iraq with nuclear weapons, besides the horrendous loss of civilian life and many people who are not even Muslims, we would be allowing Islam to win the moral victory by stooping to their level and proving that we are not the Christians we profess to be.

ISLAM HAS NEVER BEEN DEFEATED BY MERE WARFARE. Even when Islam has been defeated by warfare, as at Lepanto, it has been defeated by warfare in conjunction with prayer and fasting. Even at Lepanto, 2 of 3 fleets were sunk, and the victory was won just as much by a shift in weather as by the military prowess of the remaining fleet (which was specifically dedicated to the protection of Our Lady of Guadalupe). The major battles which kept Islam from conquering Eastern Europe also involved fortuitous shifts in weather.

St. Francis wanted to be a Crusader for the adventure in his youth and then, after his conversion, wanted to see the Holy Land. He went to the Sultan and recounted the above story about Mohammed. He said, “I stand here as a believer in Jesus Christ, willing to prove my faith by walking through fire!” The Sultan didn’t call his bluff. He praised St. Francis for his courage and faith and gave him a medal guaranteeing safe passage throughout Egypt and the Holy Land.

Years later, when Saracens threatened Assisi, St. Clare confronted them with the Eucharist (Some accounts say she led her sisters in a procession; others say she stood at the window). In either case, she came at them with only the Eucharist–no swords, no guns, no nuclear bombs–and these bloodthirsty Muslims fled.

John Paul II won over his Muslim assailant by an act of profound Christian love and forgiveness.

Indeed, when John Paul II wanted to make a pilgrimage to Ur, the Iraqi government forbade it for they knew a visit from the Pope would be worse for Saddam Hussein’s regime than any US invasion.

The keys to defeating Islam are fasting, prayer, profound faith and unity with Rome, not nukes and torture and armies.

“What if they attack us?” many say. What if? Are you afraid of dying? Are you afraid of going to Heaven? That’s the very charge they lay against you, and they will be right. They kill you because their job is to send people to Hell as fast as possible. Show true Christian faith and practice, and even if they do kill you, you will win the victory over them by going to Heaven, where perhaps you can pray for their conversion the way St. Stephen prayed for St. Paul’s.