Recently in Of Interest Category

Campaign Advice


Roger Kimball offers some tips on campaign efficiency to Republican candidates this election year:

It's as simple as it is efficient: Ignore The New York Times. More and more of your constituents are doing so, why shouldn't you? Join the many happy folks who have Kicked the Times: Don't read it, don't refer to it, don't regard it as an authority on anything. You'll feel cleaner and your blood pressure will thank you. Above all, do not write, and do not allow your staff to write, op-eds for the Times. On the off chance that the paper actually publishes your piece, you will only help to bolster its sense of smug self-righteousness and perpetuate the illusion that the paper treats the candidates, or the issues, even-handedly. They don't, and you shouldn't collude in fostering the destructive myth that they do.

One of the things we are losing in this society is concern for the truth expressed in open, respectful debate. It seems the preferred option of those on the Left is simply to shut out debate altogether, to deny that there is even the possibility that their opionions could be subject to debate. It's as arrogant as it is dangerous.

Tiger Stadium


Demolition has begun on old Tiger (formerly Briggs) Stadium in my hometown, Detroit. I remember attending many games there when I was growing up, including Detroit Lions football games in the fall. I saw Mantle and Maris play, Whitey Ford pitch along with the stars of one of the Tiger's best seasons, 1961. That would be Stormin' Norman Cash, Al Kaline and the rest. If there is baseball tradition in Detroit, it lives in Tiger Stadium. It was a beautiful old park and its a shame to see it go.

Another suprising thing to me is that, looking at the web sites of the major Detroit papers, there seems to be relatively little interest in the loss of the old place; the demolition is not receiving major coverage. One aspect that is receiving coverage is the apparently failing attempt by a private group to save part of the stadium from destruction. The papers seem to almost be gloating over the failure to raise sufficient funds to prevent total demolition.

Part of me wonders, why should anyone do this? The ballpark is hardly in a good part of town, but even if that were not the case, what use could now be made of it? But, I also wonder if the papers' lack of enthusiasm for saving Tiger Stadium is an indication of the current day disdain for anything that smacks of tradition: out with the old, in with the new, whether or not the new is an improvment. This current disdain is most graphically displayed in the unfathomable rush by a major political party in this country to nominate a man for President who has no discernable qualifications for the job, other than an expressed desire for "change."

For me, I'll take tradition anytime.

Deer are lousy parents


A short fawn update.

The two that were the first new-borns I saw this year have been appearing in the back yard regularly over the last two weeks. They appear healthy and are growing fast.

There was another new arrival that I had much greater doubts about. This new born, and I mean new born, I discovered snugged up next to my garage one morning last week, its hold on life appearing to be tenuous in the extreme. A couple of days before this discovery, there was an article in the paper telling people not to touch or try to assist young wild life in any way. Often the human touch will cause the mother to abandon the baby, which in turn dies. With great difficulty, I followed the advice, and left the tiny thing to its own devices. Before leaving, I searched all over our yard and the area surrounding the house and could find no sign of the mother or any other fawns. I thought sure I’d be faced with a dead fawn when I returned home.

Well, on my return, there was no sign of the fawn, nor any sign that it had been there in the first place. Then, on Saturday, I saw a little fawn in the back yard, I feel certain it was the same one, healthy and playful. Again, no mother in sight, but the fawn showed no sign of any ill health or other distress, so I am sure the mother was somewhere nearby.

Talking to the neighbors, it seems a mother dear will sometimes abandon her fawns for hours at a time, and the fawn will just sit in one spot and await her return. I guess that’s what happened this time.

Thinking about all this, I’m reminded that the Good Lord has a plan, even for new-born fawns, and it is never good to try to interfere. It’s a hard lesson to learn.

"Free" Speech?


This story appeared on the Catholic News Agency web site today:

Catholics shocked by Notre Dame president’s turnaround on ‘Vagina Monologues’
South Bend, Apr. 07, 2006 (CNA) - Following his own strong words denouncing the play in January, many Catholics have responded with dismay to the decision of Notre Dame University president, Rev. John Jenkins to allow the controversial ‘Vagina Monologues’ to be performed at the school.

In a January 23rd address to university faculty, Fr. Jenkins said that the play contains “no hint of central elements of Catholic sexual morality,” but instead, “contains graphic descriptions of homosexual, extra-marital heterosexual, and auto-erotic experiences. There is even a depiction of the seduction of a sixteen year-old girl by an adult woman.”

He had stressed that the “portrayals stand apart from, and indeed in opposition to, the view that human sexuality finds its proper expression in the committed relationship of marriage between a man and a woman that is open to the gift of procreation.”

He even said that “the repeated performance of the play and the publicity surrounding it suggest that the university endorses certain themes in the play, or at least finds them compatible with its values.”

Despite this, on Wednesday, Fr. Jenkins surprised many by saying that he will now place “no restrictions” on the performance.

After hearing from hundreds of students, faculty and alumni over the last 10 weeks, Notre Dame’s president has now expressed his determination “that we not suppress speech on this campus.” “I am also determined”, he said, “that we never suppress or neglect the Gospel that inspired this university."

So many Catholics seem to confuse constitutional issues with questions of the faith. Presenting a play that is completely contradictory to Catholic moral teaching, on the campus of a supposedly Catholic university, is not a question involving U.S. constitutional issues. The question is one of faith and morals and in that area there is no guarantee of free speech; each of us is responsible to act in a way that conforms to God's law. The Bill of Rights in the Constitution is meant to provide Americans with a certain equality before the law, not to provide instruction as to how to act before God.

We all would do well to remember the distinction.

Would that it were so . . .


This is from an interview published by Zenit with Britain's Cardinal Murphy O'Conner:

Q: Can you tell us more about another topic discussed, the question of Islam, of great concern to so many church leaders in so many parts of the world today?

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor: The situation is very complex. In mostly Muslim countries there's very little space for Christianity; in other countries, in parts of Africa, there's a conflict of cultures, between the culture of Islam and the culture of Christianity.

In Europe again, it's complex. We need to meet with Muslims and speak the truth honestly, not hold back on the truth we believe.

We must be careful to avoid the position whereby they are blaming war on religion -- terrorism, this is the scourge of religion -- whereas the cardinals would see that we have to meet Muslim leaders and concentrate on the things we hold together: many moral values, matters of family, even if we disagree on the essentials of our religion.

But you know, the only answer to what I would call aggressive Islam is very deep Christianity, deep Catholicism, a faith that is strong; I am sure the Holy Father is very preoccupied by Islam, and certainly its militant tendencies.

So I think particularly we in the West have to impose a kind of reciprocity: We are tolerant of having mosques or of people wearing particular clothing; we expect the same for minority Christians in Islamic countries, that there would be tolerance of us having crucifixes, freedom to worship in church and so on.

So I think there's a feeling to speak the truth in love and honesty with each other.

There is one thing about dialogue that many people seem unwilling to face. For dialogue to be effective, both parties to the dispute must be willing to engage the process in a meaningful way. I don't think that condition exists today among radical Muslims in their dealings with the West. It seems evident that the prevailing attitude among these folks is that they are, in the end, going to destroy the West and all it stands for, therefore, there is no need for dialogue. The more we sit around and talk about entering into dialogue with these radicals, the more likely they are to be correct.

Signs of Spring


Springtime in the Rockies isn’t signaled by many of the signs familiar in other parts of the country. Flowers are not yet blooming, and while it is getting a bit warmer, it is still cold at night and there can be a cool breeze blowing even on warmer days. Yet, there are signs of spring beginning to fight its way to life here in the mountains.

I see those signs in the animals; more of them are out and they are becoming more active. Earlier this week, a fox ran in front of me on the road to my office, and on Friday night, a coyote ran in front of me across the road leading up to my house. It was heading for some hiding place among the scrub oak trees on the side of the hill behind by house. I understand there was a bobcat in the neighborhood one afternoon late last week. A better sign is the condition the deer in the neighborhood. They are losing their winter coats and most of them are looking like scraggly refugees from some horrible prison camp. Appearances can be deceiving, though. I think most of them look actually look fairly healthy – I’ve seen no stragglers struggling to hang on to life, and there are none that seem injured in any way. We may have a good crop of fawns this spring, both a curse and a blessing, but the first appearance of those fawns will be the final sign that confirms spring has finally arrived, probably in late May or early June.

In the mean time, there will be nothing but conflicting signs of spring struggling to overtake another winter. Looking out to Pikes Peak this morning, I see a storm brewing on the ridge line and it looks like it’s snowing in the high elevations. I think we may see some of that snow later on today, although the forecast is calling for it to be warm and windy here. I’d rather have a good heavy snow.

In any case, although it seems hard to believe, it’s time to begin to think of Lent winding down and the arrival of Easter morning. It’s a good time to re-focus on the meaning of this time of penance and re-energize the preparations for Holy Week and Easter, but I’m still keeping an eye on the deer.

Priest's Union


The following is from an article in Sunday’s Calgary Sun newspaper. To say it boggles the mind is an understatement.

A Canadian Roman Catholic body representing 22,000 priests, nuns and religious brothers has labelled the Vatican and the Canadian church outmoded on issues such as homosexuality, contraception and divorce, reports said yesterday.

In a letter sent to every bishop in the country, the Canadian Religious Conference also says the church is locked more into defending church dogma rather than listening to people's search for meaning, and faults the Canadian church for its "unconditional alignment ... with directives issued from Rome."
The letter talks about the Vatican's and the Canadian church's intransigent stands on sexual morals, their unwelcome attitude toward homosexuals, their lack of compassion for those who divorce, their fear of dialogue with other churches and their censorship of dissenting views.

The letter goes on to say:

"This is an uncommon step for us to take," a Toronto newspaper reports the letter as saying. "We take it with the firm conviction that it is absolutely essential, particularly at this time in the great history of the church. Our church has seen great suffering and is being called upon, now more than ever, to carefully discern the signs of the times."

I'll have to say, when I first saw this story, I thought it was a joke, or a parody of a protest by your stereotypical, sixties' dissident. After all, the thing contains every cliche ever used by those of that ilk. I mean, "discern the signs of the times", "search for meaning", "outmoded". C'mon, how tired are those expressions?

The letter also contains every error, or misrepresentation of "dogma" ever propounded by such groups. To take one example, the letter refers to the Church's teaching on divorce as being among her outmoded ideas. But, those teachings were not just dreamed up by the Church, they come from Jesus himself. We read this in Matthew 19:

And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, "Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?" He answered, "Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate." They said to him, "Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?" He said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery."

These words of Jesus are at the heart of the Church's teaching on divorce. If you want to say they are "outmoded", then everything that Jesus ever said or did is subject to being considered outmoded. Where do you stop? Which of Jesus' teachings do you decide to accept or reject? Are these people suggesting that Jesus was unable to "discern the signs of the times"?

One of the things that finally drove me from being a Presbyterian to becoming Catholic is the tendency among liberal Protestants to do this same thing. They will take a passage from the Bible, one that is very clear in its meaning, one that is clearly not politically correct, say Paul's discussion of homosexuality in Romans 1, and say "oh, it doesn't really mean that, you know. He's talking about something else entirely." You can expect, and almost accept this kind of thing coming from a Protestant, but from someone who represents themselves as Catholic? It's a lie, from the prince of lies and Catholics are supposed to know better.

I am waiting to find out if this letter was indeed some sort of joke perpetrated by someone with, at best, a weak sense of humor. If not, I have to admit to mixed feelings on my hoped for reaction from the Canadian bishops. Part of me wishes they would react strongly against this impertinence, for the sake of the Church and their flock, if not for themselves. It seems that failure to react to so bold a challenge is to give the impression that the teachings of the Church are not really important and need not be followed. Worse, some could interpret weakness here as a sign that the bishop's themselves are not all that convinced of the truth of the Church's position on these issues.

On the other hand, there might be some reason to look for a pastoral reaction. I think this kind of letter from a group supposedly representing priests and religious is much more dangerous to the faithful today than in the past because of the abysmal state of catechesis today. There are a good many people out there today who likely do not see anything wrong with this kind of thing, who think that maybe the Church should get in tune with the "signs of the times." The pastoral thing to do would be to make a real effort to promote solid, orthodox, catechesis for the (adult) faithful, and make it much more widely available than it is today.

Finally, I think if I were one of those Canadian bishops, I would certainly call an assembly of all the priests in my diocese. The purpose would be to have a real heart to heart talk. In the military, we used to call it a "come to Jesus meeting."

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