Thursday, April 30, 2009

Art of the Day


The new "Greatest Tea Party Sign".

I learned something today

I've been an inveterate Warren Harding basher for as long as I've been politically aware. The man who let Teapot Dome happen under his nose wasn't worth my admiration, I thought.

I'm a little confused after having read this article, however, which paints a picture of Harding utterly unlike those I've seen before. The article analyzes Harding's handling of the Depression of 1920. I know -- I hadn't heard of it, either.

Turns out there was a massive economic downturn after WWI, as the country ratcheted down from wartime production levels and the Fed raised rates from abnormally low wartime levels. According to this account, the contraction was worse even than the one we're currently experiencing. Harding's response? Do nothing. I'd ordinarily think that response the result of his ignorance and indolence, but the man's own words don't allow that impression.
“I would be blind to the responsibilities that mark this fateful hour if I did not caution the wage-earners of America that mounting wages and decreased production can lead only to industrial and economic ruin.”
Pure, clear reason.

And later, condemning inflation,
“Gross expansion of currency and credit have depreciated the dollar just as expansion and inflation have discredited the coins of the world. We inflated in haste, we must deflate in deliberation. We debased the dollar in reckless finance, we must restore in honesty.”
If only our current leaders had a tenth of the honesty and forthright courage evidenced in these words.

And this, which is by far the most impressive quote included in this article, regarding the nature of the rough recovery,
All the penalties will not be light, nor evenly distributed. There is no way of making them so. There is no instant step from disorder to order. We must face a condition of grim reality, charge off our losses and start afresh. It is the oldest lesson of civilization. … No altered system will work a miracle. Any wild experiment will only add to the confusion. Our best assurance lies in efficient administration of our proven system.
No man who talked like that could be the sham of a president that I've been led to believe Harding was. The Teapot Dome scandal was terrible, but it seems that there's more to Warren G. Harding than his woefully inadequate oversight of the management of the Wyoming oil fields.

If these quotes at all reflect the mind and perspective of Warren Harding, I would MUCH rather he were my president now than Barack "We're all in this together -- well, except for the rich, who have to pay for everyone else" Obama.

The Pope clearly gets it

Not that that's much of a surprise. He's the Pope, after all.

Still, it was encouraging to see this report about his meeting with a contingent of Argentinian bishops where he basically told them to focus on people's souls, not on political activism:
After then encouraging them to stimulate "the practice of charity, especially among the most needy" in their dioceses, the Pope highlighted the importance of concentrating on "prayer as opposed to activism or a secularised vision of the charitable efforts of Christians. This assiduous contact with Christ through prayer will transform believers' hearts, opening them to the needs of others and so ensuring they are not 'inspired by ideologies aimed at improving the world, but guided by the faith which works through love'".
It's good to see how Pope Benedict understands this, and even better to see that he wants to make sure that Latin American Catholics understand it, too.

In The Faithful Departed, Philip Lawler lays out the pitiful state of Latin America's clergy by recounting his friend's words about how Latin American lay Catholics think: "If you want to start a union, find a priest. If you want spiritual counsel, find a Protestant pastor." Not for naught was John Paul II so suspicious of Liberation Theology. If it doesn't outright teach people to look for salvation in this world (usually through social or political activism), it at least strongly encourages people to do so.

But that message directly contradicts the life and witness of Christ, who repeatedly taught that his kingdom was "not of this world", and that he doesn't give peace "as the world gives", who explicitly refused to accept any kind of political power (even running away from ardent followers if he had to), and who was killed in large part because he didn't bring political peace -- something 1st century Jews expected the legitimate Messiah to do.

But Christ's peace is in people's hearts, an infinitely more difficult place to achieve peace than in the world. His kingdom is in heaven, which is the ultimate reality, the "real world". It is for that world that the Church is supposed to be preparing people, and too many Catholics (often on the Left, but increasingly on the Right as well in the aftermath of nonsense like "compassionate conservatism") have lost sight of that fact.

Monday, April 27, 2009

More courageous truth-telling from Geert Wilders

Geert Wilders, the head of the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, has been a stalwart critic of the Islamization of Europe. I've blogged about him before. He's a courageous man, and much to be admired.

He recently gave another major speech on the threat of Islam in Europe (at the Free Speech Summit in Palm Beach, FL), and it's a doozy. Lots of great stuff.
Maybe you see immigration as something that is inherently good for our country as it contributed so much for the United States, and I understand that. But Ladies and Gentleman the Europe as you know it from visiting Europe or from stories from your parents or friends or whoever, is on the verge of collapsing.

We are now witnessing profound changes that will forever alter Europe's destiny and might send the Continent in what Ronald Reagan once called: "A thousand years of darkness. ...

As the Turkish Prime Minister Mr. Erdoğan once rightfully said: "There is no moderate Islam, Islam is Islam." ...

Ladies and Gentlemen, Islam has always intended to conquer Europe and it has done so for centuries.

The Christian city of Constantinople fell in the 15 century and now in the 21st century. Islam is trying again, but this time, not with Armies, but through the application of AlHaya the Islamic doctrine of migration. ...

Ladies and Gentlemen AlHaya may be the end of the western civilisation as we know it, for Islam is not coming to our societies to integrate or to assimilate but wants to dominate, and wants to submit us all, and the most dramatic situation is the one in Europe today.

My country is in the process of becoming Hollandistan as Europe is becoming in the process of becoming Eurabia. Only 12% of the German Muslims see themselves more German than Muslims, and churches throughout Europe are emptying out whereas Mosques are shooting up like mushrooms. Many evil phenomena such as Burqas, honour killings, female genitalia mutilations are becoming more and more prevalent.. Sharia testaments, Sharia mortgages, Sharia schools, Sharia banks, Sharia courts and even sharia Barbie dolls - Europe has them all today.

And I have not even mentioned the fact that for instance 70% of all crimes in the European city like Copenhagen are committed by Muslims. Indeed, we let in the Trojan Horse and the free World is now facing a Stealh Jihad, the Islamic attempt to introduce Sharia Law, bit by bit.

And here's the kicker:

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am often asked whether I have any answers to all the problems that I mention or what those answers might be. Well, let me tell you, I certainly have a lot of answers. Here are a few things that I believe we should do in the West, to stop the Islamization.

First, I have already said it, we have to stop the idea of 'Cultural Relativism'. Get rid of the misconception that all cultures are equal. They are not. Our culture based on Christianity, on Judeaism and Humanism is far better than the Islamic culture. So we should stop it.

We should also stop pretending that Islam is a religion. Sure, it has religious symbols, but it's not a religion. It is a totaltarian ideology and the right to religious freedom should not apply to Islam.

We should stop the mass immigration from Muslim countries. We have to stop it, today. No more immigrants from Muslim countries. We have to stop the Al Haya.

We have to encourage the voluntary repatriation. We have to expel criminals. We have to expel criminals with dual nationality even if we have to de-naturalize them and send them back to their homelands. I think we need a European First Amendment to strengthen our freedom of speech.

Must-read stuff. Check out the whole speech.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

How D-Day would be covered today

The 65th anniversary of D-Day is about 6 weeks away. Still, I thought this post was pretty hilarious. It's a parody detailing how D-Day would be covered today. It's a little too pro-Bush in terms of the strained parallels drawn between the Iraq War and the invasion of Normandy, but it's still worth reading:
NORMANDY, FRANCE (June 6, 1944) Three hundred French civilians were killed and thousands more were wounded today in the first hours of America's invasion of continental Europe. Casualties were heaviest among women and children. Most of the French casualties were the result of artillery fire from American ships attempting to knock out German fortifications prior to the landing of hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops.

Reports from a makeshift hospital in the French town of St. Mere Eglise said the carnage was far worse than the French had anticipated, and that reaction against the American invasion was running high. "We are dying for no reason, "said a Frenchman speaking on condition of anonymity. "Americans can't even shoot straight. I never thought I'd say this, but life was better under Adolph Hitler."

The invasion also caused severe environmental damage. American troops, tanks, trucks and machinery destroyed miles of pristine shoreline and thousands of acres of ecologically-sensitive wetlands. It was believed that the habitat of the spineless French crab was completely wiped out, thus threatening the species with extinction. A representative of Greenpeace said his organization, which had tried to stall the invasion for over a year, was appalled at the destruction, but not surprised.

"This is just another example of how the military destroys the environment without a second thought," said Christine Moanmore. "And it's all about corporate greed." Contacted at his Manhattan condo, a member of the French government-in-exile who abandoned Paris when Hitler invaded, said the invasion was based solely on American financial interests. "Everyone knows that President Roosevelt has ties to 'big beer'," said Pierre LeWimp. "Once the German beer industry is conquered, Roosevelt's beer cronies will control the world market and make a fortune."

Administration supporters said America's aggressive actions were based in part on the assertions of controversial scientist Albert Einstein, who sent a letter to Roosevelt speculating that the Germans were developing a secret weapon -- a so-called "atomic bomb." Such a weapon could produce casualties on a scale never seen before, and cause environmental damage that could last for thousands of years. Hitler has denied having such a weapon and international inspectors were unable to locate such weapons even after spending two long weekends in Germany.

Shortly after the invasion began, reports surfaced that German prisoners had been abused by American soldiers. Mistreatment of Jews by Germans at their so-called "concentration camps" has been rumored, but so far this remains unproven. Several thousand Americans died during the first hours of the invasion, and French officials are concerned that the uncollected corpses will pose a public-health risk. "The Americans should have planned for this in advance," they said. "It's their mess, and we don't intend to help clean it up."

Well, that didn't take long, either

I realize that I'm late to the party with this one (although I've meant to write about it for the past 10 days), but I'll post about it anyway.

Let the record show that April 16, 2009 was the date when folks on the Left began equating opposition to Obama with racism.

Given the identify politics that pervades the Left, this reaction was almost inevitable, quite frankly. (One of the most interesting aspects of the competition for the 2008 Democratic nomination was watching which victims group would prevail -- women or blacks. It turns out that criticizing blacks is ultimately more verboten than criticizing women [as the reaction to Geraldine Ferraro's honest and accurate comments demonstrated].)

This is where Liberal overreach will occur -- on this issue. If Obama is smart, he will rein in talk of opposition to him being racist. (Although, he hasn't reined in the talk of opposition to him being terrorist, so who knows if he'll be that smart?) If he isn't proactive about that, though, most Americans will tire of this criticism and will turn on him. Give it a year, maybe two. If this the Left doesn't stop blaring its honest opinions about this crap, it will happen.

Pay attention to the dissenters

Talking about the Tea Parties (protesting high taxes, wasteful government spending, and unconscionably high deficits) across the country 11 days ago, Ross Douthat made a good point:
They resemble nothing so much as the anti-war protests during Bush's first term. ...

[A]nd just as George W. Bush benefited from having opposition to his policies identified with peacenik marchers in Berkeley and Ann Arbor, so Barack Obama probably benefits from having the opposition (such as it is) associated with a bunch of Fox News fans marching through the streets on Tax Day, parroting talk radio tropes and shouting about socialism. ...

Still, here we are in the sixth year of the Iraq War, and all those anti-war protests, their excesses and stupidities notwithstanding, look a lot more prescient in hindsight than they did (to me, at least) when they were going on. So if you're inclined to sneer and giggle at the Tea Parties, keep in mind that just because a group of protesters looks ragged, resentful, and naive, that doesn't necessarily mean they're wrong to be alarmed:

wapoobamabudget1.jpg
I'd say that the protests, which were largely peaceful, respectful affairs, are filled with folks who are neither ragged nor naive. They sure as hell are resentful, though. As well they should be.

Bush was a very popular president, once. Many folks forget, since he was so radioactive by the time he left, but Bush's approval ratings were well above 65% for more than two years. Currently, Obama's rating is between 60-65%. Of course, having the media in the tank for him should help him initially. As time passes, though, I expect Americans -- even Liberal dittoheads -- to weary of the Soviet-style adoration that every network besides Fox gives him. As Bush found out, nemesis always follows hubris.

A coming dystopia?

There are many who have credible reasons for claiming that it is not at all improbable.

Put Rod Dreher (he of Crunchy Con fame), in the "there's something to this wild rhetoric" camp.

I'm not sure how much I accept his arguments, but I must admit that I can't discount them. And that's something to think about.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Congratulations!

Did you vote for Obama? If you did, do you consider yourself at all politically or socially conservative, or religiously orthodox? And, finally, are you white?

If so, congratulations! You've officially been betrayed.

Yes, friends. Your President -- the Great Black Hope -- has officially thrown you under the bus.

(I guess you guys should feel good. It's been almost three full months. It took half that time for the Messiah to similarly disown his life-long mentor after he declared his inability to disown the man. You guys must have been REALLY special to him, like an excellent one-night stand or something.)

"Why do you say this?" you ask?

Have you seen the latest Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) report on potential domestic terrorists? If you haven't, let me give you the "short, short version":

If you fit the description in the second or third sentences of this post, YOU are a potential terrorist.

How do I know that Obama approves of the conclusion that YOU are a potential terrorist? Because he didn't fire his DHS secretary, Janet Napolitano, Day 1 Moment 1 Second 1 this report was issued.

I mean, could you EVER see Obama allowing a federal agency to produce a report indicting, say, all Muslim males in America, as potential terrorists?

If you can, please get your head examined, because you're nuts. Obama & Co. are so frightened of offending Muslims that they don't even use the T-word when crazy Muslims blow up a bus carrying soldiers or a restaurant full of civillians. They use the term "man-caused disasters" instead.

If the suspects in question are white and conservative, though? They're terrorists.

How many examples of serious domestic terrorism caused by white conservatives does DHS have over the past, say, 40 years? One. The big example cited by Liberals (and useful idiot conservatives who parrot their nonsense), of course, is Timothy McVeigh.

Well, yes, McVeigh was white and conservative. (And he was a veteran. Oh, that's right. I forgot to mention that point: if you love your country so much that you've joined the military and fought in combat to protect it, Obama and Janet Napolitano think you're a potential terrorist, too.) But there was one of him. Neither before nor since has there been any remotely noteable organization or group of people that supported his actions or tried to emulate him. In spite of this, our President and his DHS Secretary are pretty sure that people like him -- whites, conservatives, veterans -- are terrorists.

What is even more interesting is who is not included on this list of potential terrorists: the only group that has consistently produced terrorists who target Americans over the past 40 years. That would be Muslim males between 18-40.

19 Muslim males hijacked planes to bomb the World Trade Center and the Pentagon (and, were it not for the courage of potential terrorists like Todd Beamer on United 96, the Capitol Building or the White House). By DHS's own reasoning, that makes Muslim males 19 times as likely to commit terrorism as white, non-Muslim veterans. This doesn't even take into account the 1994 World Trade Center bombing (committed by Muslim males), the bombing of the USS Cole (ditto), the bombing of American embassies in Kenya and Ethiopia (Muslim guys, again), or the bombing of Pan Am 103 (Muslim boys, again).

Jeez. It's a good thing DHS is openly committed to oppressing opponents of the Obama Administration -- instead of, say, keeping America safe or finding actual terrorists. Otherwise (assuming it used the same standards of proof and scrutiny laid out in this memo), DHS would have a GPS tracking device on every Muslim male in America. If they let them out at all.

So, I hope you feel better now if you played the useful white conservative idiot last November by voting for Obama. You can expect to be paid back for your kindness in this fashion many times over during the next 44 months or so. Enjoy.

Hilarious

I'm a life-long Red Sox fan (having grown up 30 miles from Boston), so you wouldn't think I'd have a dog in the Cubs-Sox rivalry here in Chicago. But I must say, I share a lot more in common with White Sox fans than with Cubs fans.

I've found a disturbingly large number of Cubs fans to be inveterately fair weather fans. (This was before they got good in 2003, by the way, so it can't be chalked up to the bandwagon effect [like with the surge of Red Sox "fans" after 2004].) White Sox fans remind me much more of Red Sox fans: often intense, sometimes bitter, always involved. Neither team was terrible for any extended period over the past 70-80 years, but both were just good enough to not win. With the Red Sox, four times between 1918 and 2004 they almost won the World Series, losing each time in 7 games. During the same span, the White Sox just barely missed the playoffs countless times. Each team was good enough to suck their fans in and make them care before ripping their hearts out.

The Cubs, on the other hand, have been largely terrible over that same span. And their fans actually revel in the team's long-time suckiness, accepting the title "loveable losers" with a smile. When the team would lose, they wouldn't get angry. They'd go to one of the 50 bars in Wrigleyville to get a drink and talk about how hard the team played and how fun the game was. They didn't really care. And that is the worst sin a sports fan can commit.

Hence, I'm not fond of the Cubs, and I find the photo at the top quite hilarious.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Preview of coming attractions?

Lula da Silva, Brazil's president, has called support for traditional sexual morals "perhaps the most perverse disease impregnated in the human head", and has called for opposition to homosexuality in Brazil to be criminalized. I'm not joking.

How far away are we from this in America? 10 years? 20? If we continue on the course we've set as a culture, we will get there.

Don't believe me? Look at the backlash against Prop. 8 in California. That's what people who promote traditional family arrangements and sexual morals will have to deal with everywhere in America if the homosexual "rights" agenda isn't stopped, and stopped cold.

Harvard Muslim chaplain endorses death for apostates

Does this surprise you? It shouldn't.
In a private e-mail to a student last week, Abdul-Basser [the chaplain in question -PHG] wrote that there was “great wisdom (hikma) associated with the established and preserved position (capital punishment [for apostates]) and so, even if it makes some uncomfortable in the face of the hegemonic modern human rights discourse, one should not dismiss it out of hand.”
Read the article in the Harvard Crimson. See how nearly all the Muslim students interviewed, though they clearly objected to Abdul-Basser's (doctrinally correct) refusal to condemn killing Muslim apostates, refused to give their names "to avoid conflicts with Muslim religious authorities" or "for fear of harming his relationship with the Islamic community." So even the dissenters can't really dissent all that much.

This is Islam, folks. We in the West can refuse to accept that fact and pretend that Islam is compatible with Western society, but the simple fact is that it's not. (One commenter drove this point home by pointing out how dissenting Catholics love to have their names printed when they publicly criticize the Church or the clergy. Why? Well, probably because faithful Catholics aren't likely to kill them for doing so.) Muslims who take their faith seriously simply can't live in harmony with the West in large numbers. They're learning this lesson as we speak in countries like Britain, France, and the Netherlands.

This is not because Muslims are bad people. They aren't. They're sinful, but so am I -- so is every human being. No, this is because they are Muslims, because they adhere to a set of beliefs that instructs them to behave in a certain way. A disturbingly large portion of those instructions conflict with Western culture and civilization. If, then, they remain faithful to their beliefs (which many Muslims do not, of course, just like many Christians or Jews), their behavior will largely conflict with Western culture and civilization.

This state of affairs is a problem, in case you haven't grasped that already. Look at all the violence and disruption in Britain, in France, in the Netherlands. Those countries (especially Britain and the Netherlands) are rapidly progressing to the point where they will start coming apart at the seams. The faithful Muslims there don't fit -- so they're insisting that their home countries change to fit them. This is what is happening, and it remains the fate of any non-Muslim country which allows a large population of faithful Muslims to live there. That's the lesson to be learned from all this.

Unfortunately, it's a lesson we in America refuse to heed, and seem determined to learn for ourselves.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What toppling Saddam hath wrought

Caroline Glick has a long and detailed account about the rapidly exploding Iranian sphere of influence. Apparently, things have gotten so bad that Egypt has joined common cause with Israel in opposing Iran's extension of its power through proxy states like Lebanon, Palestine, Eritrea, and Somalia. (If that doesn't make you do a double-take, just think of it as if Keith Olberman and Bill O'Reilly joined together to fight MoveOn.org.)

The question is what caused Egypt to suddenly act? It appears that two things are motivating the Mubarak regime. First, there is the nature of the Hizbullah network it uncovered. ...

The Egyptian state prosecution alleges that while operating as Iranian agents, [smugglers working in Palestine] were scouting targets along the Suez Canal. That is, they were planning strategic strikes against Egypt's economic lifeline.

The second aspect of the network that clearly concerned Egyptian authorities was what it showed about the breadth of cooperation between the regime's primary opponent - the Muslim Brotherhood - and the Iranian regime. ...

It is the confluence of both of these aspects of Iran's revolutionary ambitions that forced Egypt to act now, regardless of the impact of its actions on the political fortunes of [Israel's] government. And it is not a bit surprising that Egypt was forced to act at such a politically inopportune time.
That's right, it's not surprising. It was the inevitable result of the US toppling Saddam Hussein and the Taliban, which were the two major checks on Iran's power to the west and east, respectively. Iran, which should have been a regional power with its oil wealth, was kept in check by having to defend against hostile regimes on both its major borders.

The US under George W. Bush rightfully took out the Taliban in retaliation for that regime's unrepentant sheltering of al Qaeda before 9/11. If we strengthened Iran some in the bargain, that was an unfortunate consequence of a justified and necessary action. Then, however, Bush insisted on needlessly and (quite frankly) stupidly deposing Saddam Hussein, throwing Iraq into complete chaos and creating a huge power vacuum in the Persian Gulf that Iran quickly stepped in to fill.

Yes, Saddam was a tyrant. He massacred his own people and ruled with a brutal iron fist. He also brought order and stability to Iraq. The chaos unleashed in Saddam's wake is at least as bad as his iron fisted order was. The reason is simple: most Middle Easterners (and nearly all Arabs) lack the cultural experience, the temperament, and the ability to live in civilized, democratic society (something I've written about before). For reasons of climate, geography, culture, and history, Arabs and Middle Easterners are just different from Americans and Western Europeans. As the philosopher, Lawrence Auster, has said,
The obvious problem with the idea of America re-ordering the Arab Mideast just as it did post-Nazi Germany is that Arabs are not like Germans. ... Germans do what they are told and Arabs do not; Germans are governable and Arabs are not — a view supported by the complete absence of consensual government anywhere in the Arab world.
Quite simply, Arabs and Middle Easterners must be ruled: they will not, they cannot be governed. They have a fierce independence and indomitable strength of will that, while admirable in themselves, mean they will always be ruled by strong men like Saddam Hussein or by totalitarian ideologies like Islam.

By ignoring this basic fact of Middle Eastern and Arab identity, Bush unleashed hell in Iraq and opened the door for a radical Muslim state to assume increasingly unquestioned (or at least unquestionable) dominance in the region. Conservatives can (and should) protest Iran's rise in the Middle East, especially in light of the docile servility evidenced in the Obama administration's and Britain's responses to that rise.

But when they look for reasons why Iran has catapulted to prominence, they need to look in the mirror. It was their unquestioned support of the Iraq war that allowed this to happen.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Some good news, for a change

Apparently the pro-amnesty movement is gaining absolutely zero traction these days. A prominent group that wants to outlaw America's ability to control its own borders, called Project Pesach, can't even muster 4,000 e-signatures for its e-petition to throw open our borders to any Tom, Dick, and Jose who want to come across. The target audience for this e-petition is American Jews -- who, of course, tend to be overwhelmingly Liberal. (Project Pesach is a Liberal Jewish organization.) Apparently, even Liberals can't stand being fed all the anti-American b.s. from the pro-amnesty crowd these days.

That's good. There hasn't been enough good news on the national scene lately. Let's take what we can get.

The bow

Yup. It's as bad as they say: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WlqW6UCeaY. Obama clearly bows to the Saudi king.

It's not him kneeling and doing obeisance, but it's still pretty bad -- especially for THE PRESIDENT OF THE FREAKING UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Absolutely pathetic. Jefferson, Washington, Adams -- hell, even Hamilton! -- have to be doing about 7,000 rpm's in their graves right now. The President of the USA doesn't bow to anyone -- unless, of course, they've conquered the US and he's doing homage. Is that the case and no one told me? If not, why the hell is my President bowing to another head of state?

Media bias laid out for all to see

Assuming that people are still looking.

Check it out: http://www.mediamalpracticemovie.com

A movie that meticulously documents the radically skewed media bias in favor of Obama and against Sarah Palin during the election.

The meaning of Easter: "It's the Resurrection, stupid!"

This from an op-ed in the Times of London, not a Christian-friendly paper in the least:
This [Resurrection's] true meaning has remained hidden because the Church has trivialized it and the world has rubbished it – reactions which feed off one another. The Church has turned Jesus’ Resurrection into a "happy ending" after the dark and messy story of Good Friday, often scaling it down so that "Resurrection" becomes a fancy way of saying "he went to Heaven". Easter then means "there really is life after death". The world shrugs its shoulders. ...

But "Resurrection", to first-century Jews and pagans alike, wasn’t about "going to heaven". That’s a different matter. The word "Resurrection" always referred to people who were physically dead being physically alive again. Some Jews (not all) believed that God would do this for all people in the end. No pagans we know of believed this. ... Nobody, including Jesus’ followers, was expecting one person to be bodily raised from the dead in the middle of history. ... First century Jews who followed would-be prophets and Messiahs knew perfectly well that if your leader got killed by the authorities it meant you’d backed the wrong man. You then had a choice: either give up the revolution, or get yourself a new leader. Going around saying he’d been raised from the dead wasn’t an option.

Unless he really had been.
Good stuff. Read the whole thing. It's excellent.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Vigil and the power of the liturgy

My wife and I celebrated Easter in America for the first time in 2 years this weekend, and it was great. Spending time with our family is excellent, but the best thing for us (or for me, at least) has been enjoying the liturgy in English, after hearing it in Korean for 2 years.

This is especially true with the Easter Vigil, which in the Catholic Church is a night of high symbolism and beautiful liturgy. I appreciate the liturgy much more now than I did 2 years ago. Of course, the connection to believers across the millennia represented in the liturgy is one of the factors that drew me to join the Catholic Church, but I don't think I truly appreciated it before we moved to Korea. My understanding of the language in which the mass was spoken got in the way of my experiencing the true power of the liturgy. The city we moved to in Korea was fairly small, however, and none of the Catholic churches there offered masses in English.

For nearly 2 years, we experienced mass in Korean, with nary a word in English. We knew what was being said at least half the time, of course. (In that way, being Catholic is like going to McDonald's: you know the menu's the same wherever you go, no matter what language the menu's written in.) That's part of being a universal Church. The rest of the mass, however -- the prayer requests, the homily, and such -- were mostly off limits to our understanding (although increasingly less so as our Korean improved). Being raised Protestant, I'd learned to take my meaning from church through the sermon. As a Protestant, the way you feed your soul is by feeding your mind, so the sermon is absolutely essential. As a Catholic, however, the way you feed your soul is by feeding your will, the part of you, as C.S. Lewis says, "that chooses." So taking the Eucharist is essential, as is observing the liturgy. I'd known this (it was another thing that drew me to Catholicism), but my knowledge was purely intellectual. In Korea, however, that knowledge became real for me, became fact, in a way I don't think it could have had we not gone overseas.

Because I couldn't understand the parts of the mass from which I'd drawn meaning before, I sought meaning through the liturgy. It's kind of funny, actually, and kind of pathetic. I was finally drawing spiritual sustenance from the timeless, universal part of the mass (the liturgy and the Eucharist) instead of the least important part of the mass (the homily or sermon), but only because I was forced to.

I finally understood what Lewis meant when he said that the standing and kneeling in the mass is there because we are amphibious beings: embodied souls or ensouled bodies (depending on your perspective), both flesh and spirit. We act and experience life with our whole beings, and therefore the mass helps us attenuate our spirits to the Holy Spirit by having us stand at certain points and kneel at others.

I finally understood what it meant for the priest to be in persona Christi, standing in the place of Christ, as he consecrated the host and the wine that became Jesus' body and blood. I could see Christ doing this thing through the priest in a way I simply couldn't when I'd heard the mass in English. The language barrier, which frustrated comprehension at one level, opened my mind and my heart to comprehension at a much more profound level. That's irony for you, I guess. Or, rather, it's God: it's His style, His calling card. Not for naught did St. Paul write that God uses the weak of this world to showcase His strength and power, after all. He uses what we think of as blocks, barriers, and weaknesses to show us the way forward, to give us understanding, and to give us strength. As the psalmist says, "The LORD has done this, and it is wonderful in our eyes."

I finally appreciated all the prayers, repeated over and over each week. Even if I didn't know exactly what the words meant in Korean for most of my time there, I knew the meaning in English. The experience helped me feel a small measure of solidarity with Christians of the Middle Ages, sitting through masses spoken in Latin, memorizing prayers and repeating them week after week. And yet there is power in those prayers, a depth of meaning that eluded me when I knew (or thought I knew) what everything I said in them meant. Now that I was scrambling to learn how to say them in a new language -- and slowly learning some of the idiosyncratic differences in meaning between the Korean meaning and the English translation (like the use of 소서 [pronounced "so-seo"], the only real word for "please" in Korean -- used only be destitute or impoverished beggars -- in nearly every prayer, a word which drives home our absolute need for God with an elegant brevity that an English translation just can't match) -- I was struck by the power of the prayers themselves. What does it really mean that Christ makes me worthy to receive Him through the Eucharist? Every mass I admit that I am not worthy to receive Christ and that I can be made worthy to do so through by the power of His word, but the full import of that phrase just didn't strike me until I said it in Korean.

All of this was brought home to me again at the Easter Vigil. The darkness, slowly turned to light, culminating in a gospel account of the Resurrection. The scripture readings. The psalms sung and recited. All of it was filtered through my experience with these things in their more elemental forms in Korea.

And it was wonderful, powerful, mystical, and glorious.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Our President's light-hearted airheadedness

You've got to love P.J. O'Rourke.

He breaks down Obama's reversal of Bush's executive order regarding embryonic stem cell research -- one of the most distorted (intentionally or otherwise) acts of the Bush presidency, since it did NOT ban such research, but limited it to the private sector, and limited federal funding for it to currently existing stem cell lines -- and exposes all the airhead remarks and outright lies that the media glossed over.

And he does it with style. If you haven't read anything by O'Rourke, you're missing out. His Parliament of Whores has to be one of the funniest serious books I've ever read.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Episcopal Church slouches further towards Gomorrah

Meet the "Reverend" Katherine Hancock Ragsdale. She's the new president of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA. She's also a lesbian and one of the most militant pro-abortion public figures I've ever seen. In what has been inaccurately called a "sermon" that she gave, Ragsdale repeatedly called abortion a blessing and made it clear that so long as anyone anywhere in anyway disapproves of abortion, the Left's work isn't done.

If we were to find that ... Congress had acted to insure that abortion would always be legal, that would be a very good thing; but our work would not be done.


If we were suddenly to find a host of trained providers, insuring access in every city, town, village, and military base throughout the world, that would be a very good thing; but our work would not be done. ...

How will we know when our work is done? I suspect we’ll know it when we see it. But let me give you some sure indicators that it isn’t done yet:

- When doctors and pharmacists try to opt out of providing medical care, claiming it’s an act of conscience, our work is not done. ...

- Finally, the last sign I want to identify relates to my fellow clergy. Too often even those who support us can be heard talking about abortion as a tragedy. Let’s be very clear about this:

When a woman finds herself pregnant due to violence and chooses an abortion, it is the violence that is the tragedy; the abortion is a blessing.

When a woman finds that the fetus she is carrying has anomalies incompatible with life, that it will not live and that she requires an abortion – often a late-term abortion – to protect her life, her health, or her fertility, it is the shattering of her hopes and dreams for that pregnancy that is the tragedy; the abortion is a blessing.

When a woman wants a child but can’t afford one because she hasn’t the education necessary for a sustainable job, or access to health care, or day care, or adequate food, it is the abysmal priorities of our nation, the lack of social supports, the absence of justice that are the tragedies; the abortion is a blessing.

And when a woman becomes pregnant within a loving, supportive, respectful relationship; has every option open to her; decides she does not wish to bear a child; and has access to a safe, affordable abortion – there is not a tragedy in sight -- only blessing. The ability to enjoy God’s good gift of sexuality without compromising one’s education, life’s work, or ability to put to use God’s gifts and call is simply blessing.

These are the two things I want you, please, to remember – abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Let me hear you say it: abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.
Scary stuff. And this deranged woman whose mind has been twisted by her obsession with sex and sexual freedom is now in charge of one of the most prestigious Episcopal seminaries. So, a practicing homosexual bishop and a militantly pro-homocide divinty school president. The Episcopalians should appoint someone like Charles Manson to a national leadership position and complete the trifecta.

A Real Islam Policy for a Real America

The traditionalist philosopher, Lawrence Auster, recently offered a compelling vision for how to deal with the problem of radical Islam in America. It's a serious plan that deserves serious consideration: http://www.amnation.com/vfr/archives/012935.html.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A defenestration of the condom-philes

http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/bleak_stories_behind_failed_condom_campaigns/

I don't think I've seen a better, more convincing defense of Pope Benedict's perfectly reasonable statement regarding the error of relying on condoms to solve the AIDS crisis in Africa. The article is full of all the grisly details of sub-Saharan Africans' often libertine sexual habits (as well as their often primitive beliefs and practices), and lays out clearly the reasons why relying on condoms to fight AIDS is a failing strategy there. The payoff comes at the end:
UNAIDS, the international agency which coordinates research and treatment for AIDS around the world, is a strong supporter of condoms. Its official position is that: “The male latex condom is the single, most efficient, available technology to reduce the sexual transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.”

Note the stress on the word “technology”. The condom is just a technology. And technology is not much good for changing behaviour.

The West is addicted to technology as a substitute for free will and moral effort. If you eat too much, you get gastric banding surgery. If you’re depressed, you take Prozac. If you’re a smoker, you wear nicotine patches. Here in Africa, this fantasy has collided with the reality of the AIDS crisis. There is no technology to tame sexual desire. There is only self-restraint and faithfulness to your partner. These will eventually rein in AIDS; condoms won’t.