Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Christopher West's sexy idea critiqued

A reader writes:
I think I have seen this before. Women whose husbands have cheated have watched friends insist there is no problem fidelity-wise in their marriage, only to be proven wrong. Or parents who insist their kids are towing the line when they are not.

When you have lived with problems, you have a keen eye for them. I thought of this with the latest item on Christopher West and the Theology of the Body (TOB). Don't get me wrong. He is not the prodigal, but the trusting parent. But just like I know where Biblical criticism of a sort leads, as a former Protestant, I know where this sex-up-front stuff leads. West was a little too wowed by the positive thrust of TOB to realize he was already preaching to shorts-wearing surfer dudes in Church. Sexual reticence? Not their problem!
In that vein, our reader refers us to Michael Liccione's post, "Dawn Eden on the Theology of the Body" (Sacramentum Vitae, June 24, 2010), based on Eden's recent master's thesis at "the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies" in Washington, DC: "Towards a 'Climate of Chastity': Bringing Catechesis on the Theology of the Body into the Hermeneutic of Continuity."

Several excerpts from Liccione's post:
Eden's most telling criticism is that West's explication of the TOB explicitly presents it as "revolutionary," in such a way as to constitute an actual rupture with the broad tradition of Church teaching. I'm convinced she's right about that. For example, she shows in almost painful detail how West's account of the pre-virtue of "continence," and the full virtue of "chastity" of which continence forms a part, is actually contrary to John Paul II's (largely Thomistic) meaning.

West also thinks that the TOB is revolutionary as an antidote to the sexual "repression" from which "generations of Catholics" have suffered. That may well have been true of many Catholics prior to Vatican II, but as Eden notes, it can hardly be said about the majority of Catholics since then....

... The difficulty is not with his general idea about the development of doctrine, but rather with his imperfect understanding of the TOB's content. West makes JP2 appear to say things contrary to the tradition of the Church, even though neither man intended that. But West's metaphor of the Church moving from childhood to adolescence on the matter of sexuality, though perhaps sloppily applied, can be understood to apply to the Church's understanding of the deposit rather than to the deposit itself.

Unfortunately, West does not concern himself with such subtleties. Worse, his vision of the TOB is blinkered in comparison with that of JP2 himself. The wider context of the Pope's voluminous output shows that he makes far more allowance for the role of redemptive suffering in marriage, including conjugal sexuality, than does West, who virtually ignores the issue in favor of arguing that our relationship with Christ is "always" mediated through "sexual desire" and "intercourse." The charge that he oversexualizes spirituality is justified. In fact, a healthy conjugal sexuality should be seen as a real symbol of God's relationship with his people, but that entails self-restraint at least as often as it entails intercourse.

Accordingly, Eden's most constructive suggestion is to urge that West's approach incorporate "Mystical Body theology" especially in the "experience of brokenness," about which West says very little. There has to be a via media between seeing sex primarily as a danger to the soul and seeing it as the preferred medium for our divinization in Christ. Sexual desire, intercourse, and continence, each in their proper circumstances and order, need to be seen as expressions of a married couple's mutual self-gift, i.e. their sacramental love.

The issues raised by the TOB require more profound meditation than West has given them. That kind of meditation has been seen hitherto only in a rather narrow academic circle of Catholics. Once Eden's thesis is re-written as a book aimed at a general audience, the meditation can spread in earnest.
[Hat tip to J.M.]

Science (again) confirms common sense

Simon Caldwell, "Abortion 'triples breast cancer risk': Fourth study finds terminations linked to disease" (Mail Online, June 24, 2010):
An abortion can triple a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer in later life, researchers say.

A team of scientists made the claim while carrying out research into how breastfeeding can protect women from developing the killer disease.

While concluding that breastfeeding offered significant protection from cancer, they also noted that the highest reported risk factor in developing the disease was abortion.

Which one is not in drag?


Report on possible effect of Vatican recognizing SSPX Masses

The report, prepared by Peter Karl T. Perkins, is posted under the title, "Preparing for the Third Anniversary of Summorum Pontificum: An ongoing worldwide report" (Rorate Caeli, June 28, 2010). Excerpts:
As the doctrinal talks with the S.S.P.X continue, many might wonder what effect a public recognition of Society Masses ... might have.

... In the past, it is likely that Rome did not recognize the ability of Society Masses to fulfill the Sunday obligation mainly because this might cause the faithful to abandon the New Mass in large numbers. It might have caused great division. ... Rome let time pass, during which most faithful came to accept, even if sometimes reluctantly, the New Mass. Then, starting in 1984, by a number of initiatives, Rome gradually ‘let out the rope’ to permit a return of the T.L.M. as an option. The result is that, today, there are far more regularized Latin Masses than there are Society Masses....

What we can estimate is the impact a recognition of Society Masses might have if done today, this year. Would this cause a grave crisis? Would there be an enormous exodus from the New Mass to the Society Masses, or even from regularised Traditional Latin Masses to Society Masses? I argue here that the effect of such a recognition would be small in the short term but very important in the longer term.... The main effect of creating a ‘free-ranging’ S.S.P.X is secondary; It would induce obstructive bishops gradually to allow their priests to offer the T.L.M. without being penalised for doing so .... No bishop wants to have his authority undermined.... Most bishops in Western countries are already allowing a few Traditional Latin Masses. They would quietly encourage a few more to keep the S.S.P.X at bay.
The report also list figures comparing the number of dioceses offering Traditional Latin Masses in 2005, when this pontificate began, and 2010:
  • France: 65, 78.
  • Italy: 15, 52.
  • Germany: 10, 23.
  • Spain: 3, 12.
  • Poland: 6, 14.
  • Portugal: 0, 1.
  • Austria: 5, 7.
  • Switzerland: 3, 4.
  • The Netherlands: 1, 3.
  • England: 9, 17.
  • Scotland: 2, 3.
  • Ireland: 4, 6.
  • Wales: 0, 1.
  • Philippines: 5, 5 (there was a substantial increase and then a fall back to 5).
  • Australia: 10, 11.
  • New Zealand: 2, 5.
  • USA: 112, 149.
  • Canada: 11, 15.
  • Mexico: 1, 4.
  • Brazil: 7, 21.
  • Argentina: 2, 2 (obstruction from Bergoglio and company).
  • Colombia: 1, 2.
  • Peru: 1, 2.
  • South Africa: 0, 1.
  • Gabon: 1, 2.
  • Nigeria: 1, 1.
  • Hungary: 1, 3.
  • Czech Republic: 1, 4.
  • Slovakia: 0, 1.
  • Ecuador: 0, 1.
  • Sweden: 0, 1.
The report ends with the notice: "Comparisions with S.S.P.X numbers to follow."

The dilemma for progressives in the Church sex scandals

An excellent post by Mike Liccione, "At least they're our perverts..." (Sacramentum Vitae, June 26, 2010) about what was reported about "the fall of the Belgian Church" by Alexandra Colen in The Brussels Journal (June 24, 2010):
In Belgium today [June 24], police searched the residence of the Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels and the crypt of the Archbishop’s cathedral in Mechelen. They were looking for evidence of cover-ups in the ongoing investigation into widespread pedophilia practices within the Belgian church in the decades during which Cardinal Godfried Danneels was Archbishop. Danneels retired in January of this year.
Liccione comments:
The article proceeds to recount some of the lurid details, which the author was personally involved in discovering and protesting as a Catholic parent. Let the squeamish beware.

. . . The first kicker is how Cardinal Danneels was, himself, enabled to enable the problems for three decades. What makes it so astonishing is that, as the article makes clear, the problems were public knowledge for much of that time. So how did he get away with it?

Two reasons. For one, and as the MSM have made sure we know, the Vatican wasn't aggressive enough in disciplining evildoers. But the other reason is the MSM themselves. Danneels was a darling of both ecclesial and secular "progressives" throughout his 30-year reign. Since progressives dominate the MSM in Western Europe even more than here, the damning facts were reported only haltingly, and no drumbeat of outrage was sounded against Danneels or his minions.

. . . The other kicker in the Danneels case is the dilemma it poses for the conventional progressive wisdom. Popes rarely depose bishops, and the more prominent a bishop's see, the less likely he is to be deposed. That's probably how it should be. The pope is not the CEO of Catholic Church, Inc; he is chief bishop among his brother bishops. His exercise of jurisdiction over the Church universal must and does take due account of that. But amid the current agony of scandal, many progs will have none of it. They all want the Church to be less centralized when that would weaken Rome's doctrinal authority, but want her more centralized when that would help prevent things such as the sex-abuse-and-coverup scandal—except, of course, when the guy covering up is himself a progressive. Then we must remember collegiality.
[Hat tip to M.L.]

Monday, June 28, 2010

Beckett all over again?

Rachel Zoll, "Court lets Vatican-sex abuse lawsuit move forward" (Breibart, June 28, 2010):
A lawsuit against the Vatican that had been dismissed as a publicity stunt moved forward Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from the Holy See. The case represents a significant hurdle for what many believed to be a long-shot claim that the Vatican bears legal responsibility for molester priests.

The high court's decision not to stop the lawsuit means the clergy sex abuse case will go to trial in an Oregon district court.
The reader who send me the link comments:
It appears that [Benedict XVI] did not take up Obama on his "deal". Now the latter is allowing, probably funding, the attack for the RC's destruction in the US. Doubt me? Believe me, I would rather not see this mad game played out, but for Obama it is crucial. He must undermine churches so as to consolidate power to the state, and he hopes, himself. Why not start with the church that has had the most thrown at it over the last 15 years or son. Why not take down one of the elephants? Look out Baptists . . .
[Hat tip to S.K.]

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Yesss! There is hope after all!

Come this fall, the gifted, confident and serene young Mary Ann Marks, who delivered her Harvard commencement oration in Latin, will head to Ann Arbor, Michigan to try her vocation as a Dominican Sister of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist!!!

(The order operates several schools, one of which our daughter will be attending this fall, and several sisters from the order were recently interviewed by Oprah Winfrey on her show.)

[Hat tip to E.E.]

Here's a link to an article that explains a bit more about these annual Latin orations at Harvard commencement exercises: Sarah Sweeney, "Commence wonderment" (Harvard Gazette, May 26, 2010).

Beyond the New English Ordinary Form Missal: Other Issues With Approved Translations – Part 6

Tridentine Community News (June 27, 2010):
A Possible Meeting of the Minds

Our reader who favors modern Biblical translations argues that accuracy is essential, and so does the Holy See. No question can be raised there. However, the language of prayer surrounding the Extraordinary Form is hierarchical in nature. That is, in fact, one of the appealing aspects of the EF. Countless prayer books, many of which are being republished today, have a Douay-like ring to the ear. Fortunately, the two concepts are not mutually exclusive.

It would be possible to embark on an entirely new translation of the Bible that incorporates hierarchical language. This writer acknowledges that some of the sentence constructs in the Douay are hard on modern ears. We cannot expect to be frozen in time with the Douay forever, though it is pastorally understandable why Church authorities might want to leave things alone for a few years. Many of those who love the traditional liturgy of the Church don’t believe it is time for substantial changes to the Tridentine Mass any time soon. Excessive change in the liturgy of the Church has already presented many pastoral problems; a time of stability will heal wounds. A new translation with more traditional wording, however, could address all concerns.

Ordinary vs. Extraordinary Form Perspective
in the Official Books of the Church

There is one other issue to point out with regards to the successive English editions of the Church’s book of private prayer, the Manual of Indulgences: The current 2006 edition is written exclusively from the perspective of the Ordinary Form.

Language is used such as “the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of our Lord”. In the Extraordinary Form, there is no such thing as a “Solemnity”. The equivalent concept is a “First Class Feast”. Corpus Christi, however, may be celebrated as a First Class Feast on a Thursday, or as an “External Solemnity” (a transferred Feast . . . not the same thing as a “Solemnity”) on the next Sunday. In such a case, on what day would an indulgence attached to the Feast apply? Presumably to the day on which the Feast is celebrated, but what if it is celebrated twice at the same parish, once on the Thursday, and once on the Sunday? Could one earn the indulgence twice?

Similarly, occasional indulgences are granted to Feasts which only exist in the Ordinary Form. The first that comes to mind is “Divine Mercy Sunday”. While Divine Mercy Sunday devotions are often celebrated at Extraordinary Form Masses, the name of that Feast Day in the EF Calendar remains unchanged as “Low Sunday”. There is no “Feast of Divine Mercy” in the EF. Should not then the announcement of the indulgence for that day state that one can gain it on “the Feast of Divine Mercy” in the OF or on “Low Sunday” in the EF? In this post-Summórum Pontíficum world, it is incumbent upon Church leaders to consider such questions.

We point this out simply to suggest that there are differences between the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms that may take years or decades to work out. Clarifications will be needed for questions that have not yet been pondered. While not strictly a matter of the vernacular, it is a subject which one discovers upon delving into the contents of prayer books and announcements.

Perhaps these are some of the areas in which our Holy Father hopes that the Ordinary Form and Extraordinary Form can inform one another. As issues concerning the vernacular, the liturgical Calendar, Holy Days, and certain assumptions in the Manual of Indulgences are considered, there can only be two long-term outcomes: Either the two Forms of the liturgy fuse in certain ways, or they separate in more clearly defined ways. They could proceed according to the Fiat-Chrysler model, in which certain new Chryslers may be built on Fiat platforms, and vice-versa; or they could follow the Warren Buffet model, where subsidiary companies operates independently.

English Bishops Take the Lead

It is encouraging to note that matters pertaining to the Extraordinary Form are starting to pop up on the radar screen of some National Bishops’ Conferences. The Bishops of England and Wales have long been at the forefront of EF-OF coexistence, having obtained the first Tridentine Mass Indult in 1971, barely two years after the promulgation of the Novus Ordo. Today, the Liturgy Office of the Bishops of England and Wales devotes a substantial portion of their web site, www.liturgyoffice.org.uk, to the Extraordinary Form. It is a model for other Bishops’ Conferences to emulate. While their conclusions on one particular subject, that of EF Holy Day transferrance to Sundays, are debatable, we must applaud the fact that they have given the matter consideration. It is refreshing to see both forms of the Roman Liturgy given attention on such a well-visited web site.

A Way Forward

The mainstreaming of the Extraordinary Form by the Motu Proprio Summórum Pontíficum has created a need for a new area of study, scholarship, and action in the Church: Starting with issues concerning the vernacular, and continuing through Calendar and Indulgence matters, there is a need to determine which practices should be brought closer in line between the EF and the OF, and which need to be separated but fleshed out. Perhaps there should be an EF-oriented Manual of Indulgences, employing hierarchical language, for example.

Though we cannot speak for any language other than English, it seems that for English-speaking lands, a body akin to ICEL, but with experience in, and sensitivity to, the customs of the Extraordinary Form, could be created to address some of these issues, in conjunction with the appropriate authorities from Rome. Unlike ICEL, the vernacular would not be its sole concern. Its leader and members should have acknowledged expertise in the Extraordinary Form. Royalties on English texts should not be charged, to give incentive for publication of the texts. And ideally, the body should be one of advocacy and not just regulation.
[Comments? Please e-mail tridnews@stjosaphatchurch.org. Previous columns are available at www.stjosaphatchurch.org. This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for June 27, 2010. Hat tip to A.B.]

The Case of John Paul II: "Playing Devil's Advocate"

Some of you may remember the article we posted by Fr. Raymond T. Gawronski, "John Paul II: A Character Study" (Musings, May 4, 2010, rpt. by permission of NOR). Two months after Gawronski's article in the April issue of the New Oxford Review, the current June issue carries a letter to the editor by author and Contributing Editor, Tom Bethell, with the header, "Playing Devil's Advocate," reproduced here by permission of the editor.
Fr. Raymond T. Gawronski, in his article "John Paul II: A Character Study" (Apr.), rightly notes that "there was a palpable sense of holiness" around John Paul. Still, "only the Church can declare someone a saint." That note of caution is in order, especially as Pope Benedict XVI put his predecessor on the fast track to canonization. Normally, a cause must wait until the candidate has been dead for five years. The devil's advocate was also eliminated from the process (by Pope John Paul, in 1983).

John Paul's papacy was long and controversial, and a cooling-off period would seem to be the prudent course. If his role in helping bring the Cold War to a peaceful conclusion was a significant one — as it may well have been — then that alone might merit the accolade "the Great." But that is another issue. The question, it seems to me, is what weight should be given to John Paul's hands-off attitude toward the governance of the Church in assessing his cause for beatification and canonization.

This is underscored by the many and continuing reports of predatory assaults on young people by Catholic priests and bishops. The sanctity of the man who was pope when many of these things happened cannot be entirely separated from the bad news on his watch. Was John Paul derelict in his duty in fostering a culture of secrecy and even cover-up, in order to protect the hierarchy from shame and embarrassment? If so, was he a saint?

Detailed dossiers of sexual abuse by members of the Church hierarchy were brought to the Pope's direct attention, more than once. In one report, he pushed back the thick folder of documents placed in front of him, took a quick glance, and said, "It is not good for me to read these things."

The governance of the Church was John Paul's principal obligation, yet such accounts seem to show that he routinely delegated that duty to others. It was as though he could not quite bring himself to accept the possibility that manifest evil could dwell within the Church hierarchy.

Recently published investigations of the Legion of Christ have disclosed that John Paul's secretary of state, Angelo Cardinal Sodano, received cash in exchange for friendly treatment of the founder of the Legion, Fr. Marcial Maciel. It seems more than likely that John Paul never knew what Sodano was doing. But if so, that must have been because he really didn't want to know.

Recent developments have raised further questions. Dario Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy from 1996 to 2006, sent a letter of commendation in 2001 to a French bishop who refused to report a criminally abusive priest to the police. The priest had sexually abused 11 minor boys. Castrillón wrote: "I rejoice to have a colleague in the episcopate who, in the eyes of history and all the other bishops of the world, prefers prison to denouncing one of his sons and priests."

Then, speaking at a conference in Spain on the legacy of John Paul II, Castrillón said that he had shown this letter to John Paul, who had authorized him to send it. It was then posted on the website of the Congregation for the Clergy, where it has been a public record for nine years.

(The current enthusiasm by the news media for exposing all these problems in the Church has clearly been directed at trying to link them to the present Pope. Yet the more these details emerge, the clearer it becomes that Benedict has made heroic efforts to straighten out the disarray he found when he came to the Chair of St. Peter. In fact, he began to do so in 2001.)

Castrillón's letter and John Paul's willingness to turn a blind eye toward improper clerical behavior will no doubt be the subject of much further analysis. But it does seem that for John Paul the exercise of discipline within the Church had a low priority. Administrative discipline was "seldom effectively utilized during his pontificate," as the president of Trinity Communications, Jeff Mirus, wrote recently. He added, on the Catholic World News website: "For the past fifty years, the curial culture in Rome has not been a culture that sent strong administrative disciplinary signals. Clear administrative directives were seldom issued and even more rarely enforced, whether by pontifical wrath, careful control of ecclesiastical honors, timely promotion or timely demotion."

It was also disturbing to many Catholics (including, by report, Cardinal Ratzinger) that John Paul apol­ogized so frequently for the errors of churchmen past. An Italian journalist kept a tally and there were over 90 such apologies. John Paul then delivered a ritual summation of these apol­ogies in March 2000 at St. Peter's in Rome. The catalogue of sins, which might have been drawn up by a progressive politician, included religious intolerance and injustice toward many groups, including women, indigenous peoples, immigrants, the poor, and the unborn.

Many years earlier, C.S. Lewis wrote that when someone apologizes for the sins of others, the sin of detraction masquerades as the virtue of contrition. In an essay on these papal apologies, Avery Cardinal Dulles quoted the English Catholic historian Paul Johnson as saying something similar. In such circumstances, the expression of repentance is a "disguised manifestation of pride."

But I hasten to add that the Church belongs to eternity, and even though her present standing in terms of worldly prestige seems to have declined, one cannot pretend to know how to weigh these things.

Furthermore, the test of canonization is personal sanctity, not administrative competence. Obviously, John Paul was a man of personal holiness. But it is precisely because his papacy was so far-reaching that the Church should proceed without haste in formally discerning his sanctity.

Tom Bethell
Washington, D.C.

NOR Editor, Pieter Vree adds the at the end of Bethell's letter:
Ed. Note: For more on the investigation into the Legion of Christ and Benedict's "heroic efforts to straight­en out the disarray he found when he came to the Chair of St. Peter," see our New Oxford Note "The Double Life of Marcial Maciel" in this issue.
[Tom Bethell, born and raised in England, was educated at Downside School and Trinity College, Oxford. He is a senior editor of the The American Spectator and member of the Hoover Institution. He was formerly Washington editor of Harper's, and an editor of the Washington Monthly. His foregoing letter to the editor was originally published in New Oxford Review (June 2010), and is reproduced here by kind permission of New Oxford Review, 1069 Kains Ave., Berkeley, CA 94706.]

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The compassion of the state

"Updated: IRS says it wants its share of BP payments received by oil spill victims" (AL.com, June 25,2 010):
"As residents of the region cope with the evolving situation, I want to assure them that the IRS will be doing everything it can to provide tax help to those who need it," IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said.
Blood sucking vermin.

[Hat tip to T.K.]

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The golf crisis during the gulf crisis

Watch carefully: "Shankapotomus President Barack Obama ..."

Sign of Peace -- Study in Styles

"The seminarians at St. Charles Seminary in Philly have a little fun with the various different styles of the sign of peace. Me, I am a sit in the back pew and wave guy." (Creative Minority Report, June 23, 2010).

[Hat tip to C.B.]

Monday, June 21, 2010

Fr. Z: You gotta like this guy's no-nonsense Missouri style

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf (aka "Fr. Z") writes, in a post entitled "Truculent truck owner" (WDTPRS, June 21, 2010):
This will probably irritate readers of the Democrat persuasion, and I’ll get silly messages that I am being political or partisan, blah blah blah. I respond in advance "piffle".

I simply like this guy’s no-nonsense Missouri style!

With a biretta tip to Sancte Pater comes this from the Kansas City Star along with my emphases and comments:
Missouri man’s incendiary sign on U.S. 71 draws fire
The Kansas City Star

David Jungerman farms 6,800 acres of river bottom land in western Missouri.

He’s not the kind of guy who posts on Twitter or has a Facebook profile.

So when the 72-year-old Raytown man wanted to speak out politically, he used what he had handy: a 45-foot-long, semi-truck box trailer.

Are you a Producer or Parasite
Democrats – Party of the Parasites

He planted the trailer with its professionally painted message in his Bates County cornfield along heavily traveled U.S. 71 about an hour south of Kansas City. He wanted lots of people to see it.

They did. Including at least one with a good case of outrage, matches and a can of gas. [!]

On May 12, Jungerman’s trailer was torched. The Rich Hill volunteer fire department responded. A week later, it was set afire again. The firefighters put it out again.

[But wait! There’s more!] Then flames erupted in an empty farm house that Jungerman owns.

“They don’t like free speech,” said Jungerman. He put out a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. [Not lying down at all. He has something to say!]

... Local Democrats don’t want to be linked to the arsons. [I should think not! Though I will watch for flames in my inbox.]

... Jungerman said he didn’t mean to direct his sign at local Democrats. Many of those are old-fashioned Harry Truman Democrats, he said.

They’re more conservative than many Republicans,” he said. “I should have put an ad in the paper to explain that. No, I meant the national Democrat parasite base that is sucking this country dry. The ones that just take from the government and not give anything back.[If only he could learn to speak his mind.]
But wait! There’s more! ... So read the whole article, if you're interested.

"And if any dems are getting into a twist over this," says Fr. Z, throwing them a bone, "check this out about Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL).

As to the expected reaction, the first comment on Fr. Z's post says it all. Suggesting a lack of "discretion" on Fr. Z's part, the reader fusses about the "increasing polarization of the political landscape," the destruction of "meaningful dialog" and "common ground issues," and how would you like it if the dems did the same to you, blah, blah, blah. In Fr. Z's pre-emptive word: "piffle." If you want national profiles in polarization, start with the White House and Capitol Hill.

And now, for something to make your heads explode

Jero (ジェロ, born Jerome Charles White, Jr. in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on September 4, 1981) is a Japanese enka singer who is American-born of African-American and Japanese descent. His maternal grandmother was Japanese, and it was under her influence that Jero was first exposed to enka. Jero is the first black enka singer in Japanese music history.

Jero has been a major phenomenon in contemporary Japan. In this video clip, you can see Jero being interviewed by a Japanese emcee on a Japanese enka music show. If you know the language, you will note that Jero is absolutely fluent in Japanese. They speak briefly about the song he is about to sing. He mentions the influence of his Japanese maternal grandmother. A snapshot is shown of him together with her, as well as a video clip of him as a five-or-six-year-old boy singing an enka song (although he says that at the time, he did not understand the meaning of the Japanese words). If you pay close attention, you may note that the song, like all enka music, employs the pentatonic scale.

Returning to real time, Jero then says that he intends to dedicate his song on the show today to his grandmother, giving it everything he's got. He then stands, bows to those seated on stage, walks to center stage as the music begins, bows to the audience, and begins. It is not only these bows or his facility with the language, but every little gesture of his hands and limbs, the nods of his head while speaking, etc., that are altogether aboriginally Japanese in form, giving this performance an air of deliciously mind-numbing implausibility -- as if a dolphin had sprouted wings learned to fly. There he stands, looking for all the world like an African-American male hip-hop singer. He's from Pennsylvania, for crying out loud, and a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh! And yet, there he stands on stage in an enka music show in Japan, in his New York Yankee's outfit, hat on crooked, hat and shirt in fire engine red (a color considered garishly unfitting for males in Japan); and, forthwith, he breaks out in a PERFECTLY-executed enka song.

It may not be your taste in music. God knows it was not mine, growing up in Japan, though it was ubiquitous, and has only recently taken on a nostalgic quality for me personally. But it does a real number on me to be trundled down memory lane by THIS fellow, who, if I had my eyes shut, could pass for a native Japanese singer! Again, God must be laughing.

(This genre is superlatively sentimental, as it probably goes without saying. For anyone who cares, I have a brief Amazon review of an enka album by Ishikawa Sayuri, probably my favorite female vocalist in this genre, and someone who, wearing her kimono, would offer a more traditional Japanese image of what enka singers are typically like. Here are two of her signature songs on YouTube: "Amagigoe" and "Tsugaru Kaikyou Fuyu Geshiki, along with "Daikon no Hana" from her 2010 album.)

Sen. Jon Kyl: Why Obama doesn't secure our borders

A reader writes in: "My Case PROVEN!!!!! Why Obama Does Nothing to Secure Nation."

The proof in question is a Breibart.tv video clip of Arizona Republican Senator Jon Kyl telling an audience at a North Tempe Tea Party town hall meeting that during a private, one-on-one meeting with President Obama in the Oval Office, the President told him, regarding securing the southern border with Mexico, "The problem is, . . . if we secure the border, then you all won't have any reason to support 'comprehensive immigration reform.'"

The obvious inference is that he wants it open for political leverage.

[Hat tip to T.K.]

Sunday, June 20, 2010

U.S. set to become China's banana republic

China is set to overtake the U.S. in manufacturing this coming year. Peter Marsh writes, in "US manufacturing crown slips" (Financial Times, June 20, 2010): "The US remained the world’s biggest manufacturing nation by output last year, but is poised to relinquish this slot in 2011 to China – thus ending a 110-year run as the number one country in factory production." The figures come from a league table being published on Monday by IHS Global Insight, a US-based economics consultancy.

As Vladimir Lenin said in 1922: “The capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.” Or, as Lev Navrozov says, "China Provides Rope for U.S. to Hang Itself" (Newsmax.com).

Remember when "Made in China" meant crap? I can even remember when "Made in Japan" meant crap. Then one began seeing brand names like Sony, Nikkon, Honda, Toshiba, Mitsubishi, etc. Yet now the Japanese are laying off thousands. I just bought a first-class wireless modem from AT&T. The fine print read, of course, "Made in China." Is it possible to buy something that is NOT made in China anymore, besides a local microbrew? Before long, the United States may become China's BANANA REPUBLIC. Just imagine! Mao and Chou must be laughing in their graves.

Beyond the New English Ordinary Form Missal: Other Issues With Approved Translations – Part 5

Tridentine Community News (June 20, 2010):
English in Non-Liturgical Prayers for the Laity:
The Manual of Indulgences

Arguably the most official book of prayers for the lay Catholic is the Enchirídion Indulgentiárum. As the Latin edition is updated, corresponding English editions are produced. Unlike the Extraordinary Form Missal and Ritual, however, the pre-Vatican II Book of Indulgences is no longer an actively sanctioned edition. While the prayers it contains continue to be meritorious in their own right, the indulgences attached to them are no longer in force. The rules for Indulgences changed in 1968, and the list of specifically indulgenced prayers was shortened considerably. Still, it is instructive to compare the translations of prayers which have survived throughout successive editions. Note that while the English name for the Book of Indulgences has changed over time, the purpose remains the same.

As an example, let us compare the Prayer at the Beginning of the Day. First we present the most recent pre-Vatican II English version from 1957’s The Raccolta, reflecting the 1950 Latin edition:
Lord God Almighty, who hast safely brought us to the beginning of this day, defend us in the same by thy mighty power, that this day we may fall into no sin, but that all our words may so proceed, and all our thoughts and actions may be so directed as to do always that which is just in Thy sight. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
The 1991 Handbook of Indulgences reflected the 1986 Latin edition. This book made extensive use of modern English, as one can see:
Almighty God, you have given us this day: strengthen us with your power and keep us from falling into sin, so that whatever we say or think or do may be in your service and for the sake of your kingdom. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
The 2006 Manual of Indulgences mirrors the 1999 Latin edition. Published by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, some of its prayers return to more traditional wording. Like the forthcoming English Ordinary Form Missal, it is a more literal translation of the Latin which restores subtlety and detail to the text. A few of the prayers, though not this one, even restore us of the hierarchical pronouns Thee and Thou:
Lord, God Almighty, you have brought us safely to the beginning of this day. Defend us today by your mighty power, that we may not fall into any sin, but that all our words may so proceed and all our thoughts and actions be so directed, as to be always just in your sight. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
A quandary arises with all three of the editions of the book: In many instances, the actual text of the prayer is not published, but rather only a mention of its name. For example, the 1991 Handbook prints the entire Te Deum in (modern) English, while the 2006 Manual only mentions that recitation of the Te Deum gains an Indulgence. Like the 2006 book, The Raccolta only names the Te Deum. It is not clear whether a vernacular recitation of the Te Deum qualified for an indulgence pre-Vatican II. The recently reprinted 1925 prayer book Blessed Be God contains a Douay-Rheims-ish English Te Deum, so presumably it was not unheard of to recite that prayer in English. Which English version is authorized for use nowadays? Logic would suggest the most recent one, from 1991. But what if one does not possess the now-obsolete 1991 Handbook? If the authorized vernacular text is hard to come by, what version should one use?

Some may contend that these are issues of scrupulosity. Yet codified prayer must have a specified form. Conceivably, translations of the Te Deum could evolve that depart substantially from the original Latin text. At what point do they become improper to use? At what point might they no longer actually qualify to gain the attached indulgence?

It would make sense to have a more complete Manual of Indulgences, with the complete Latin text of prayers on the left, and the complete, authorized English text of prayers on the right. If we have to rely on the “most recent” translations to determine what is the authorized English form, we could be stuck with Elizabethan English from the Raccolta for one prayer, adjacent to very casual English from the 1991 Handbook for the next prayer. It’s enough to move one to pray the Latin forms – a fine idea, by the way – except even the original Latin Enchirídion Indulgentiárum suffers from the problem of only naming certain prayers, and not printing them out.

The recitation of prayers should not be a puzzle requiring juggling various books, one of which specifies the prayers, and another of which contains their contents. It’s one thing for a hand missal to specify that for a certain weekday Mass, one should use the Mass from page X along with the Epistle from page Y; this is understandable given that hand missals must be thick books. The 2006 Manual, however, is a relatively thin publication. Adding the actual prayer contents would not significantly thicken it. While this is not an issue strictly pertaining to the vernacular, the current English book has done little to improve convenient usage.

Note the difference between our desire for standard English in the Manual of Indulgences and our previous argument supporting varying translations of the Orations of the Extraordinary Form Mass: Holy Mass can only be said in Latin. There need not be an authorized English translation of the Collects, as there is no opportunity to use those English translations liturgically. English is used solely to help the worshipper follow along with the Mass. With regards to the Manual of Indulgences, however, the form of the vernacular prayer does matter, as one is permitted to pray the vernacular to earn the indulgence. While not “liturgical” per se, these are private prayers with names and forms. Public devotions employ some of them. Take, for example, the Salve Regína: with the possible exception of thee/you, the prayer has a definitive form, allowing it to be prayed essentially unchanged by any congregation.
[Comments? Please e-mail tridnews@stjosaphatchurch.org. Previous columns are available at www.stjosaphatchurch.org. This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for June 20, 2010. Hat tip to A.B.]

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Funny if it weren't so downright painful ...

"Laura Ingraham Has Some Fun with SC Dem Candidate Alvin Greene" (Breibart.tv, June 18, 2010).

Fear and Loathing in Trans-Tea-Party-Mania

Here's an email I received recently from a reader (a friend with history and theology degrees from a grad school in Wisconsin). Whether you agree with the ideas or not, you've got to love these raw, free-flowing, shoot-from-the hip reflections. This one is on politics, sparked by a banal interview with Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) entitled "Sen. Nelson: Obama May Not Have Constitutional Authority, But He Has Moral Authority" (Breitbart.tv, June 18, 2010). Commenting on the interview, our reader writes:
The very real and immediate dangerous sense of moral v. legitimate authority.

Tea Parties vary from region to region. I'm not a member of any of the Parties, and can relate to some local SC groups that espouse standing by the constitution, but there are revisionists out there. Perhaps even in Nebraska, Nelson being less than a footnote trying to cash in on those members. This was a political move, one of emotion, not a statement of authority alone (as a senator).

The greater debate and even real fight remains in what right v. what is right. These principles can merge and fade from each other depending on emotion, philosophic bearings, theological bearings. What we witness is the early percolation of, God forbid, a civil war--YES being demonstrated between the Tea Partiers. The extreme Left (not Partiers) are perpetual commies and anarchists. They will be of no account during such a fight, but are a threat as people become weakened. They enjoy filling easy gaps and will impose their will when people are certainly (not probably) weak. Note and brief aside: Have you wondered why Obama Inc., will not make serious effort to save the Gulf from as much disaster as possible? Because it is not in their interest to. They want the citizens to be reduced to not demands but begging the government to save the area and thus themselves. They await a populace ready for slavery.

And so Nelson stands in emotive qualities, desperate to be in collusion with a philosophically oriented group(s). How can we know? As the saying goes, "How does one know a politician is lying?"--"His lips are moving". He's a desperate man trying to be needed by a constituency. He is on the verge of being completely irrelevant or being a fellow apparatchik of Obama's Amerika. The die is cast.

As for the Tea Parties, their variation divides them but also identifies them as societal phenomena that appear to be at least philosophically-based. They are not and cannot stand as one. They are philosophically moved by regional needs followed by, sometimes closely, emotional impulse. Many are conservative or even Republican. They are the groups bent on constitutionalism. The tenet here is every man--more American philosophy of humanity. Many others are liberal in the 19th century sense (as my former political science professor would call it). They are more readily identified with the examples given in the article posted on your blog. They seek to stand up for the little guy, whether infant or retiree. The tenet here is all men--more Franco-European philosophy of humanity.

And so, will the Constitution stand? What will survive--every man OR all men? What will overcome--in what right OR what is right?
Then, as an addendum:
By the way, the two spectra of the Tea Parties are NOT ever completely reconcilable. Their sense of democracy/representative republic/human rights are incompatible. It is exactly---NOT IN PART--but exactly (okay minus the riding bootsies) the 19th century difference between the understanding of freedom in the US as opposed to the varying interpretations in Europe. See Theodore Roosevelt's concepts on this. He has essays on what it is to be a man, good citizenship, good living--these fall line for line in with American values. The European values are found from French revolutionaries to Marx. They ultimately exclude the value of the individual--some in very short order.
[Hat tip to S.K.]

Nail, meet hammer

Christopher Orlet's aptly titled "Matrimonial Gore" (American Spectator, June 18, 2010) is well worth a read. Here are choice excerpts:
Apparently a lot of Americans were surprised ("saddened," "depressed" -- New Republic) by news that Al and Tipper Gore were, after 40 years of marriage, parting company. Everywhere neurotic married couples asked: "If the Gores can't make it, who can?"

Well, how about the Clintons? Even the Eliot Spitzers were still together, last time we checked. Many political marriages have weathered far worse. Think about the odd White House dynamic of FDR, his mistress Lucy Mercer, his wife Eleanor and her wife Lorena Hickok. Go back far enough and you find some perfectly awful political marriages that endured, but none worse than the Lincolns'. Mary Todd once spat in the face of the secretary of state. (Are you taking notes, Michelle?) After one of Mrs. Lincoln's hissy fits, the long-suffering Abe shrugged it off, saying, "It does her lots of good and it doesn't hurt me a bit."

In my grandparents' day marriage meant something.... Common folk were obliged to pledge their troth, for better or worse, till death do we part, and like it.

If things got really bad, the wife was expected to discretely poison her husband and then quietly shut herself up in her big Victorian house for the rest of her life. The townsfolk would tactfully turn a blank eye, figuring he doubtless deserved it, and for the next few months husbands could be expected to mind their Ps and Qs.

... Even the Gores' email announcement of their separation was boring, meaningless and phony, much like the Gores themselves, calling it a "mutual and mutually supportive decision that we have made together following a process of long and careful consideration."

This attitude of Me Generation egotism and goofy pop psychology was perfectly captured in an interview with Stephanie Coontz, author of Marriage: A History. She told NPR that the Gores' divorce shouldn't be viewed as a failure, but as a "success" and a "celebration of life." I wonder what Dr. Coontz thinks of the recession. "A celebration of government intervention!" The oil leak? "A celebration of blowout prevention technology!"
Read the whole thing. Well written.

[Hat tip to J.M., including for the header.]

Beyond the New English Ordinary Form Missal: Other Issues With Approved Translations – Part 4

Tridentine Community News (June 13, 2010):
English in the Roman Ritual

Some of the first efforts at establishing standard English translations for pre-Vatican II ceremonies related to the Rituále Románum, the book of Sacraments and Blessings. The Roman Ritual is the complement to the Missále Románum (the altar missal), and is used for everything from Baptism to Marriage to blessing Rosaries. In 1954, the U.S. bishops published the Colléctio Rítuum, an abridged version of the Ritual containing the most frequently used prayers and ceremonies. A revised Colléctio was published in 1961, and that is the book which is technically in force today for the Extraordinary Form. The 1961 edition granted the priest the option to say certain portions of some ceremonies in English.

The 1950 Weller edition of the complete 1925 Rituále Románum has been reprinted by PCP Books. The New Sanctuary Manual, a subset of the 1961 Colléctio Rítuum, has been reprinted by Roman Catholic Books. A comparison of the two is rather interesting.

The Weller Ritual provides English translations for the entire contents of the book. Latin is on the left page, English on the right. This English, however, was provided only for study purposes. At the time of publication, it was not permissible to use the vernacular for any portion of the rites. Thus, the English contained therein cannot be considered “official” and must not be used liturgically because of later permissions.

In contrast, The New Sanctuary Manual is very clear: English is provided alongside the Latin only when it is permissible (but optional) to use the vernacular. That English text is the official version to be used.

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, the 1961 English is noticeably more casual language that what Weller contains. Let us compare, for example, the prayer at the conclusion of the Rite of Marriage:

From the Weller Ritual:
Look down, we beseech thee, O Lord, upon these servants of thine, and graciously assist with thy care the institution thou didst ordain for the propagation of the human race; so that they who are bound together by thy authority may attain to perfection by thy help. Through Christ our Lord.
From The New Sanctuary Manual:
We beg you, Lord, to look on these your servants, and graciously to uphold the institution of marriage established by you for the continuation of the human race, so that they who have been joined together by your authority may remain faithful together by your help. Through Christ our Lord.
Interestingly, despite its more Douay Rheims-ish sounding text, the Weller version does not capitalize the Divine pronouns. In fairness, the issue of capitalization is a complex one, to be discussed at a later date.

As of today, the complete 1961 Colléctio Rítuum has not yet been reprinted. Used books are scarce. The best option available in print, The New Sanctuary Manual, is puzzlingly incomplete: For instance, it omits one of the most frequently used prayers, the Blessing of All Things, used to bless objects for which there is no specific blessing formula.

The Weller Ritual provides the Blessing of All Things, along with an English translation. However, unless a priest happens to possess an actual 1961 Colléctio, it is impossible to tell if one may use the vernacular for this blessing. An old copy of the 1961 book Rites, Blessings, and Prayers, which is a more complete version of the Colléctio, contains only Latin for this blessing, which tells us that English is not permissible.

What is a priest supposed to do if he does not have access to the complete 1961 Colléctio Rítuum? Can he use the English in the Weller Ritual? No, he cannot. First, Weller does not indicate which portions of a given rite may be said in the vernacular, since it predates those permissions. Second, Weller’s English translation is not official. Thus, if a priest does not possess a 1961 Ritual, prudence dictates that he use Latin for the entire ceremony.

The longer term solution is for the 1961 Colléctio to be reprinted, and possibly updated as we have suggested in earlier columns. One useful aspect of the Weller Ritual is that it includes the rubrics in English on the right-side pages. The New Sanctuary Manual and Rites, Blessings, and Prayers contain only the Latin rubrics, which can be quite confusing when a priest is called upon to perform an unfamiliar ceremony.

Indeed, the absence of vernacular rubrics is why, in charity, we must grant some leeway to priests who are new to traditional rites. Imagine if you were judged harshly the first time you played a certain sport, cooked a meal, or drove a car. Now imagine if the instructions you had been given were not in your native tongue. Ecclésia supplet – the Church assures the validity of a Sacrament in most cases of accidental errors.

At the same time, we live in an era in which priests need to learn the “new” traditional Ritual. Many seminaries are not yet including training for the Extraordinary Form in their curricula, thus learning tools need to be created for independent study, a key one of which is the publication of rubrics in the vernacular.

In summary: An updated assemblage of blessings, rubrics in English, and a complete Ritual incorporating approved vernacular where it is allowed would be useful, indeed. The linguistic style should be similar to the existing prayers. This is the kind of organic development of the Church’s liturgical books that it seems Pope Benedict XVI has in mind for the Extraordinary Form.
[Comments? Please e-mail tridnews@stjosaphatchurch.org. Previous columns are available at www.stjosaphatchurch.org. This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for June 13, 2010. Hat tip to A.B.]

The temptation to remake the Faith in our own image

Judges 17:6 "In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes."

Proverbs 14:12 "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death."
Carl Olson, "The temptation is great to take the matter into our own hands, to transform the priesthood..." (Ignatius Insight Scoop, June 18, 2010):
The Holy Father, at the June 11th question-and-answer session he held with priests at the prayer vigil in St. Peter's Square, in response to a question from a priest about how to encourage vocations to the priesthood:
What to do? The temptation is great to take the matter into our own hands, to transform the priesthood -- the sacrament of Christ, being chosen by him -- into a normal profession, into a job that has its hours, and for the rest of the time one belongs to oneself, thus rendering it, as any other vocation, accessible and easy. But this is a temptation, which does not resolve the problem. It makes me think of the story of Saul, the king of Israel, who before the battle against the Philistines waits for Samuel for the necessary sacrifice to God. And when Samuel does not come at that very moment, he carries out the sacrifice himself, though he was not a priest (cf. 1 Samuel 13); he thus thinks of resolving the problem, which of course he does not resolve, because he takes into his own hands what he cannot do, he makes himself God, or almost so, and it cannot be expected that things will really go in God's way. Thus, we also, if we only carried out a profession like others, giving up the sacredness, the novelty, the difference of the sacrament that only God gives, which can only come from his vocation and not from our "doing," we won't resolve anything. So much more must we -- as the Lord invites us -- pray to God, knock at the door, at the heart of God, so that he will give us vocations; pray with great insistence, with great determination, with great conviction, also because God does not close himself to an insistent, permanent, trusting prayer, even if he lets one do, wait, like Saul, beyond the times that we had foreseen.

This, it seems to me, is the first point: to encourage the faithful to have this humility, this trust, this courage to pray with insistence for vocations, to knock at the heart of God so that he will give us priests. Beyond this, I would mention perhaps three points. The first: each one of us should do everything possible to live our priesthood in such a way that it is convincing, in such a way that young men can say: This is a true vocation, I can live like this, thus one can do an essential thing for the world. I think none of us would have become a priest if he did not know convincing priests in which the fire of the love of God burned. Hence, this is the first point: Let us seek to be convincing priests ourselves.

The second point is that we must invite, as I already said, others to the initiative of prayer, to have this humility, this trust of speaking with God with force, with determination. The third point: to have the courage to speak with young men if they think that God is calling them, because often a human word is necessary to open the hearing to the divine vocation; to speak with young men and above all to help them find a vital context in which they can live. Today's world is such that it almost seems to exclude the maturing of a priestly vocation; young people need environments in which the faith is lived, in which the beauty of the faith appears, in which it appears that this is a model of life, "the" model of life, and hence to help them find movements, or the parish -- the community in the parish -- or other contexts where they really are surrounded by faith, by the love of God, and can then be open so that the vocation of God will come and help them. On the other hand, we thank the Lord for all the seminarians of our time, for young priests, and we pray. [Emphasis added]
Read the entire piece on ZENIT. Benedict's remark: "The temptation is great to take the matter into our own hands, to transform the priesthood..." can just as well and meaningfully be applied to marriage, fidelity, and much else. "The temptation is great to take the matter into our own hands, to transform the institution and sacrament of marriage, to transform sexuality, to transform [fill in the blank]." The temptation to sublimate Church teaching and remake it in our fallen image, according to what is comfortable and convenient for us, has always been around, but there is in modernity a willful utilitarianism and a sense of technocratic arrogance that is a bit breathtaking in both its hubris and shallowness.

Here is a very good, recent example of this sort of thinking, from someone who, first, puts all of the responsibility for the spiritual rectitude and (not so) well-being of his family on "cardinals and bishops" (uh, whatever happened to parents being the primary catechists of their children?), and, secondly, thinks that transforming the priesthood is The Answer:
It's long past time to accept that God made women and men equal. It's time to ask ourselves: if Jesus was standing physically among us right now, would he say women cannot be priests? Would he say priests can never marry? Would he come out of Sunday Mass feeling refreshed and stimulated by a homily that inspired and challenged him? Would he have an open mind to this suggestion: Allow single young men and women to become priests for a fixed period, say five to ten years, after which they could decide to stay on or leave to follow a different vocation.
This man's children are no longer practicing the Catholic Faith, and he thinks the problem is that the Church is too demanding, too strict, too behind the times. He apparently overlooks the fact that if he teaches his children, through word or deed, that they really bear no responsibility for the state of their soul, then they will act accordingly. As a friend wrote to me, after reading the piece in question: "And I should pray that his heroically virtuous children, who are entirely blameless, are some day honored for having their steadfast refusal to join such an obviously flawed Church, filled with naive, incompetent and irrelevant male clergy. I mean, if dad is so correct here, why should they come back?" Yes, why?
[Hat tip to J.M.]

Friday, June 18, 2010

Is the Tea Party a 'Social Justice' Movement?

Timothy Dalrymple, "Is the Tea Party a 'Social Justice' Movement?" (Patheos, June 16, 2010).

[Hat tip to J.M.]

Pretty funny: "Brother Fairy" and "Fr. Randy"

Damian Thompson, "Catholic priest blogger's latest comic creation: a traditionalist 'fairy'" (Telegraph.co.uk, June 11, 2010).

[Hat tip to J.M.]

Back again after short technical absence

My modem crashed and died last Friday, and I've just finished successfully installing the new one, which arrived yesterday by UPS and took a couple of days to install since I don't use any of the standard operating systems. In any case, it's good to be back, and I apologize for any inconvenience in moderating comments.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

April 11, 2009: the day God laughed

I always get a nice lift from this YouTube clip of that most unlikely talent, Susan Magdalane Boyle, turning the tables on her judges when she first appeared as a contestant on the reality TV program, Britain's Got Talent, on April 11, 2009, singing "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Misérables. You can see the judges and members of the audience rolling their eyes in disdain as she walks on stage and begins answering the judges' questions in the brief preliminary interview. Truth be told, she looks the part of a born loser. Then, out of the mouth of this homely matron, God brings forth voice and song such as nobody expects. There is a moment of stunned silence, then the entire audience explodes in applause. God laughs. If we had any sense at all, we should weep.
Boyle still lives in the family home, a four-bedroom council house, with her 10-year-old cat, Pebbles. Her father died in the 1990s, and her siblings had left home. Boyle never married, and she dedicated herself to care for her ageing mother until she died in 2007 at the age of 91. Boyle has a reputation for modesty and propriety, admitting during her first appearance on Britain's Got Talent that she had "never been married, never been kissed". A neighbour reported that when Bridget Boyle died, her daughter "wouldn't come out for three or four days or answer the door or phone."

Boyle is Catholic and sang in her church choir at her church in Blackburn, West Lothian, Scotland. Boyle remains active as a volunteer at her church, visiting elderly members of the congregation in their homes.["Susan Boyle," Wikipedia]
Her first album, Susan Boyle: I Dreamed a Dream,was released in November 2009 and debuted as the number one best-selling CD on charts around the globe.

Suicide in foreign policy

The unraveling foreign policy of the current administration could have been scripted, chapter-by-chapter, from James Burnham's Suicide of the West: An Essay on the Meaning and Destiny of Liberalism (1964; rpt. Regnery Publishing, 1985).

David P. Goldman, in "The Morality of Self-Interest" (First Things, May, 2010), writes:
The value of Augustinian realism might be more easily seen in its absence. In the tenure of two administrations, our foreign policy has passed from adolescence -- the Wilsonian fancy that America could remake the world in its own image -- to senile renunciation of world leadership, without ever having passed through maturity. Instead of the uncertain meticulous work of containing failed states, nurturing prospective allies, and deterring prospective enemies, Washington has swung from a utopian effort to fix the world, to a baffling pretense that the world somehow will fix itself if only America leaves it alone. The result is a self-inflicted wound to America's world standing -- to the anguish of our allies and the undisguised contempt of our adversaries.

... President Obama's doctrine is the self-liquidation of American influence -- an uprecedented and, on reflection, astonishing position for an American leader.

American foreign policy baffles the rest of the world. Look, for example, at the damage to America's world position during March and April of this year. First came the Obama administration's staged quarrel with Israel over a routine zoning decision for homes in northeastern Jerusalem, which is a neighborhood where Arabs had never lived and an area which every proposal for the division of Jerusalem has assigned to the Israeli side. Over thirty years, American administrations have avoided making an issue of Israel's claim to an undivided Jerusalem; Obama broke with that precedent in a staged crisis. The White House threatened Israel with an imposed solution, something no previous administration had undertaken, and threatened to demand that Israel abandon nuclear weapons.

Then came the United States' cosmetic nuclear-arms reduction agreement with Russia, after canceling the Bush administration's promise to base antimissiel systems in Poland and the Czech Republic. On receiving this diplomatic reward, Russia staged a coup in Kyrgyzstan that erased the American-sponsored "Tulip Revolution" of 2005 and left the air resupply of American forces in Afghanistan subject to Russian good will. There were valid objections to the Bush proposal, but Obama removed it without exacting anything in return from Russia, and he did so in a way that undercut the position of American allies.

And then, in a third blunder, the president indicated that he might not prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear arms, when he told a television interviewer, "The history of the Iranian regime, like the North Koreans regime, is that, you know, you apply international pressure on these countries, sometimes they choose to change behavior, sometimes they don't." To the extent that America's desultory efforts to impose sanctions on Iran had credibility, Obama lost it the moment he began to speak.
There is a great deal more in this article worth reading on the concept of Augustinian realism, and how this differs from other versions of "realism" in foreign policy. What is inevitably highlighted is something like the attitude of liberalism Burnham must have had in mind -- a confident self-congratulatory smugness that if all right-thinking (liberal) administrations would simply implement policies in keeping with the religious ideals secular Western Enlightenment (and, what is the same, really, Postmodern) values, then everyone will start being nice to us and to everyone else in the New World Order. (Another cold one with them chips, Lutheran?)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Prince Charles: "Follow Islamic way to save the world"

Rebecca English, "'Follow the Islamic way to save the world,' Prince Charles urges environmentalists" (Mail Online, June 10, 2010): "Prince Charles yesterday urged the world to follow Islamic 'spiritual principles' in order to protect the environment.... Charles, who is a practising Christian and will become the head of the Church of England when he succeeds to the throne, spoke in depth about his own study of the Koran which, he said, tells its followers that there is 'no separation between man and nature' and says we must always live within our environment's limits.

The prince was speaking to an audience of scholars at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies - which attempts to encourage a better understanding of the culture and civilisation of the religion."

Monday, June 07, 2010

A bit of national inspiration ...

While Obama does his damnest to prevent a window for freedom in the Mideast, Europe, Central America and East Asia, a former marine 'stuns crowd' at Georgia Tea Party event with an inspiring surprise.

[Hat tip to S.K.]

Hamas not interested in humanitarian aid?

According to CNN:
Israel has attempted to deliver humanitarian aid from an international flotilla to Gaza, but Hamas -- which controls the territory -- has refused to accept the cargo, the Israel Defense Forces said Wednesday.

Palestinian sources confirmed that trucks that arrived from Israel at the Rafah terminal at the Israel-Gaza border were barred from delivering the aid.

Ra'ed Fatooh, in charge of the crossings, and Jamal Khudari, head of a committee against the Gaza blockade, said Israel must release all flotilla detainees and that it will be accepted in the territory only by the Free Gaza Movement people who organized the flotilla.
See also "Who cares about Gazans? Not the flotilla!" (TEOZ, June 4,2010). Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and even Syria, by contrast, are cooperating with Israel to distribute humanitarian aide to Gaza. The politicization of aid by the flotilla is clarified by a recent report in Der Spiegel.

Friday, June 04, 2010

So sorry, Mr. President: when it rains, it pours

White House Press Queen, Helen Thomas, tells Jews to get out of Israel, go back to Poland and Germany

Related: Charles Krauthammer, "Those Troublesome Jews" (The Washington Post, June 4, 2010).

Another absence from Metro-Detroit, if not Blogsville

I am writing this from NC where we are attending the ordination and first Mass of a friend of the family. I solicit your prayers for the young man, whose name is David Miller, soon to be Fr. Miller, from the Diocese of Charlotte. He is one of twelve children. Great family.

Very Interesting, Mr. Blago. Do tell.

"Washington Insider: Obama Member of Chicago Gay Man’s Club" (Fellowship of the Minds, May 27, 2010).

Thursday, June 03, 2010

June: the Sacred Heart vs. LGBT Pride Month

On June 1, 2008, at his weekly Angelus address, Pope Benedict XVI urged Catholics "to renew, in this month of June, their devotion to the Heart of Jesus." June is traditionally dedicated to the Sacred Heart, a symbol, the Holy Father explained, "of the Christian faith that is especially dear, to ordinary people as well as to mystics and theologians, because it expresses the 'good news' of love in a simple and authentic way, encapsulating the mystery of Incarnation and Redemption." (Scott P. Richert, "June, The Month of the Sacred Heart," About.com, June 1, 2010).
For the second year in a row, the Obama administration has proclaimed June "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month."

From the White House Statement:
Much work remains to fulfill our Nation's promise of equal justice under law for LGBT Americans. That is why we must give committed gay couples the same rights and responsibilities afforded to any married couple, and repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. We must protect the rights of LGBT families by securing their adoption rights, ending employment discrimination against LGBT Americans, and ensuring Federal employees receive equal benefits. We must create safer schools so all our children may learn in a supportive environment. I am also committed to ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" so patriotic LGBT Americans can serve openly in our military, and I am working with the Congress and our military leadership to accomplish that goal.
(Terrence McKeegan, J.D., "White House Declares June LGBT Pride Month," C-FAM, UN Blog, June 1, 2010).

And this leads to ... this? (Your reaction, cynical or sympathetic, will serve as a litmus of your relative innocence or contamination by the media-reinforced public PC mentality.)

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Catholic Friends of Israel on Gaza Freedom Flotilla

Christopher Blosser, "Israel Confronts the Gaza Freedom Flotilla" (Catholic Friends of Israel, June 1, 2010) -- a continuously updated report and commentary offering an alternative to leftist anti-Israeli accounts.


Flotilla Choir presents: We Con the World

Related: Charles Krauthammer, "Those Troublesome Jews" (The Washington Post, June 4, 2010).

Benedict's criticism of Modernist Biblical Hermeneutic

Jordanes, "One must then bear in mind the living tradition of the whole Church" (Rorate Caeli, May 31, 2010):
... where the hermeneutics of faith, indicated by Dei Verbum, disappear, another type of hermeneutics appears of necessity, a secularized, positivistic hermeneutics, whose fundamental key is the certitude that the Divine does not appear in human history.

Pope Benedict XVI, address to the Fourteenth General Congregation of the Synod of Bishops (14 Oct. 2008)

Catholic World Report: Summorum Pontificum Benedict's gift to the young

Editor of the top-drawer conservative publication, Catholic World Report, George Neumayr, has come out with a remarkable editorial in the June, 2010, issue of the magazine, entitled "Ever Ancient, Ever New: Summorum Pontificum and the Young." Neumayr begins:
Pope Benedict's critics had hoped Summorum Pontificum would disappear without a trace. It hasn't. His apostolic constitution authorizing wider use of the Traditional Latin Mass continues to bear fruit, some of it annoyingly visible to these critics.

Far from just a sop thrown to aging traditionalists, as some liberal bishops cast it, Summorum Pontificum has proven popular with the young. As Pope Benedict noted in its accompanying letter, the Traditional Latin Mass is old in origin but new in appeal: "young persons too have discovered this liturgical form, felt its attraction, and found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Sacrifice particularly suited to them."

An illustration of this appeared on April 24 in Washington, DC, when more than 3,500 people -- many of them children, teens, college students, and young families -- filed into the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for a Pontifical Solemn High Mass that lasted two and a half hours.
According to The Paulus Institute, which sponsored the event and scheduled it to mark the fifth anniversary of the Holy Father's pontificate, it was the first Tridentine Mass offered at the Shrine's altar since 1965.

To Catholic liberals, whom Neumayr describes as presiding over seminaries that look like "ghost towns" and preaching "to pews that are almost empty," the vision of Catholic youth flocking to the Tridentine Mass in Washington was enough to trigger apoplexy. One of its publications, US Catholic (which I once dishonored in a review entitled, "What I Learned from U.S. Catholic Magazine," in This Rock) lashed out at the Mass. Usually an avid proponent of liturgies "relevant" to the young, it found this one disheartening. In fact, liberal heads exploded. Bryan Cones, managing editor of the magazine, could not restrain himself, blurting out in a blog post, "A ridiculous mountain of red silk" (US Catholic, April 29, 2010):
I've been holding back all week for fear of stirring up a hornet's nest, but my only response to the Latin Mass celebrated last Saturday at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington has to be: Really? Seriously? (You can read the fawning CNS coverage of "ancient chants and pomp, splendor and majesty" here.)

Who thought it was a good idea to dress up a bishop in a cappa magna and parade him around triumphantly in celebration of what Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa, Oklahoma referred to as "the fifth anniversary of the ascension of Joseph Ratzinger to the throne of Peter" while the church is in such a profound crisis of confidence in its leadership? Ascension to the throne, eh? Are we speaking of the "servant of the servants of God" here or the Emperor Augustus?

... If we're going to get stuck on a particular period in church history and its liturgy, does it have to be the 16th century? It was hardly a time of--how to put it?--liturgical modesty, much less the "noble simplicity" that is, after all, the historical hallmark of the Roman rite. Unless His Excellency is going to wrap that cappa magna around his waist and start washing feet, as Jesus did in John's gospel.
"Noble simplicity." Did you catch that? As if your local Gather-Us-In AmChurch group fest is an incarnation of that! And "stuck in the 16th century," did he say? As if the Gregorian Mass, called "Tridentine" in honor of Pius V's reform at the time of the Council of Trent, were created out of whole cloth by Pius V. (What do they teach in Church history classes these days! Or did I forget: do they teach that anymore?)

It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if the managing editor of US Catholic, which bills itself as being "In conversation with American Catholics," had conversed with any of the young people after the Mass. As Neumayr remarks, "What he snidely dismisses as absurd pomp, they see as powerful and otherworldly symbolism, which is far more 'relevant' to their search for God than anything contained in the secularized and insipid 'youth' liturgies US Catholic normally touts."

But if Cones is reluctant about accepting their testimony, suggests Neumayr, "he could always talk to John Allen," chief religion reporter for the similarly-left-leaning National Catholic Reporter. To his credit, Allen typically follows the evidence wherever it leads, even if it opposes the leftist prejudices of his paper, as one of his recent reports about the general traditinalism of practicing young Catholics does, in "American Catholic demographics and the future of ministry" (NPR, April 30, 2010):
[M]inisters of the Catholic future will be increasingly “evangelical.” The broad mass of twenty- and thirty-something Catholics today may be thoroughly secularized, but there is an inner core of faithful and practicing young Catholics who are the ones most likely to pursue a vocation to the priesthood or religious life, or to be most interested in making a career in the church as a lay person. The future leaders of Catholicism in America will come from this inner core. By now there’s a considerable body of data about these “millennial Catholics,” and the consistent finding is that they’re more traditional in their attitudes and practices than the “Vatican II” generation they’re replacing. These younger Catholics are attracted to traditional spiritual practices such as Eucharistic adoration and Marian piety; they have a generally positive attitude towards authority, especially the papacy; and they’re less inclined to be critical of church teaching....
Neumayr concludes his editorial with these observations:
Self-consciously "relevant" Catholicism as on display at US Catholic, with its pinched and hostile attitude to valuable traditions from the past and its feeble imitation of the world, has proven irrelevant to young Catholics who have left the church, and boring and off-putting to the ones who stay. They want bread, not stones, and Pope Benedict offers them that substance.

It was assumed that Pope Benedict principally wrote Summorum Pontificum for the old. He actually wrote it more for the young. He wanted them to know what many of their CCD teachers never taught them -- that "what earlier generations held as sacred remains sacred for us too."