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Friday, February 28, 2003

The Containment "Solution": Why it Won't Work.

Greg Krehbiel reasonably asks "why not containment?"

While I still remain uncommitted, I'm increasingly skeptical about our justifications for war with Iraq. My biggest concern is that we say containment didn't work, but the truth is that it didn't work while Clinton was in charge, which isn't saying much. Now that we have a real president, maybe containment could work. I haven't heard any reason to say why it couldn't. Maybe there are reasons, but I haven't heard them.

Actually, I've been puzzling over this one myself for the better part of a month or so, and I've come to the conclusion that it is impractical, as I do not believe it would work so well under these circumstances. Let me take a crack at explaining why.

First, let's remember what "containment" was, in the only American experience of the same--the Cold War. The Cold War saw the establishment of a national security apparatus, the development of a series of entangling alliances, forward deployment of American forces, and most notably, the development of a large peacetime military and ever-ascending arms race. This is the template proposed to "solve" the Iraq crisis. Applying the template here would have repercussions that most of its proponents have not explored or even considered. If a war with Iraq would prove expensive in all senses of the term, then an expanding policy of containment would be the same, if not more so, long-term.

Foremost is that it effectively concedes and de facto encourages the development and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by an increasing number of regimes. Under a doctrine of containment, you are not so much denying the right to acquire arms as trying to limit the likelihood of them ever being used. (The notion that inspections will find anything of consequence is laughable: four months in, and there's still no accounting for the serious material--e.g., the 5000+ liters of anthrax. You know--the stuff that could kill a major American metropolitan area.) In other words, "containment" would send a signal to all of those interested in developing WMDs that there are no consequences for the development of such devices. The only consequences would come if they are actually used. But, the more unstable or "coup-prone" regimes that acquire the weapons, the more likely they eventually to fall into or be delivered into the wrong hands, and thus the more likely they are to be used. Deterrence worked with the Soviets because, ultimately, the Communists were at the bottom line rational. Rationality is a much more rare global commodity than we prefer to think, and deterrence is unlikely to work with, for example, fanatics who think their actions are going to inaugurate the reign of the Mahdi.

"Containment" also inevitably leads to an arms race. Remember how the doctrine worked in the Cold War: MADness. Mutually Assured Destruction. The Soviet Union and the United States were frozen into a standoff based upon the premise that direct conflict between them would lead to deployment of nuclear weapons, and nuclear weapons would mean obliteration--of most of humanity. But, in order for the threat to be credible, both sides had to develop better and more effective weaponry. On our part, this meant a transition from a few hundred bomber-delivered freefall devices to thousands of ICBMs, SLBMs, and MIRVs (not to mention tactical and in-theatre weapons)--all as part of a deterrent mix that told the Soviets that we had more than sufficient survivable firepower to destroy them should they consider a first strike.

Under containment, once Iraq develops nuclear weapons, we would threaten them with obliteration as a means of deterrence. In response, Iraq would develop a sufficient force (including longer and longer-range missiles) to threaten us with catastrophic damage. Ditto other regimes.

So much for the end of the arms race. Set the nuclear clock to about thirty seconds before midnight.

Moreover, how real would our threat be, unless we had a substantial American presence on the ground in the threatened region (e.g., NATO)? "I just nuked Foreign City X, Mr. President. Care to risk New York, Boston, or Detroit in response?" Barring a "one for all, all for one" alliance like NATO, I really tend to doubt it.

Then consider the dread "Our SOB" Syndrome, whereby America would have to continue to make dishonorable, soul-killing deals with such hellish regimes as the House of Saud, in return for basing requirements, forward deployment, and so on. Only spread this to a larger and larger expanse of the globe--American troops everywhere, containing more and more regimes. Not to mention more and more grievances with groups inclined to hate us: we were in the cross-hairs of bin Laden because of our Saudi bases, remember?

And what of the military establishment necessary to achieve "containment"? What few concessions that have been beaten out of Hussein have literally been done at swordpoint: an American and British force on the order of 200,000+ troops, sailors, airmen and marines. I have a hard time picturing the long term basing of a force of remotely similar size in the region. Multiply this headache by six or seven times, as Psycho States D, E, and F get the Bomb.

I don't think the American people are ready to pay for this policy, either in blood or treasure. It seems clear to me that such a policy, and the proliferation it invariably encourages, would lead to us paying in a lot more blood in the long term.

Finally, perhaps the greatest weakness of the argument as formulated by Greg is this phrase: "Now that we have a real president...." What if we elect a President with less fortitude? Would President Hillary (or Kerry, or Edwards, or Dean) have the same determination? Containment encourages Hussein and others like him to ride it out until the next election.

That's why I think we have to nip this in the bud now.

Monday, February 24, 2003

Entirely Joyous Mutterings.

Today, at 1pm on the nose, my wife Heather gave birth to our second child and first son, Dale III. He was 8 pounds, 11 oz., and 20 inches long.

Both mother and child are doing very well, and will come home Wednesday.

Sunday, February 23, 2003

The Intolerance of the Liturgy People™ in the American Church.

Prosecution Exhibit A.

The estimable Fr. Rob Johansen, fellow Michiganian and priest of the Diocese of Kalamazoo, recently posted about his visit to the Nebraska seminary of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, better known as the FSSP. He related several common-sense points:

It is most unfortunate and unfair, it seems to me, that so many "moderate" and "progressive" Catholics have relegated faithful Traditionalists such as those of the FSSP to an Outer Darkness of sorts: Such people love to portray themselves as champions of diversity within the Church, but somehow that diversity doesn't include the riches of our own Latin liturgical patrimony. The fact is that the rites of the 1962 missal fulfill the spiritual needs of a large and growing number of Catholics. If that's not diversity, I don't know what is.

* * *

I attended a couple of seminary liturgies, and while at Vespers last Saturday evening I was struck by the true austerity, a beautiful austerity, of the liturgy. Those who pooh-pooh the old rite as overwrought or difficult to follow, it seems to me, simply have not made any effort to understand it. That liturgy wasn't complicated: what it was was reverent. And it seems to me that that Novus Ordo opens itself up to irreverence in a way that the Old Rite doesn't.


Then Fr. Johansen related a tale of the visceral, neurotic hatred of Latin held by far too many in positions of influence. A parishioner made the mistake of inquiring as to the addition of Latin to the Mass in the presence of the parish Bolsheviturgist:

The only real die-hard opposition to Latin in the liturgy anymore comes from the aging-hippie set. Many such people have a virulent hatred of Latin or anything that smacks of tradition. I recall an incident I witnessed at a parish some time past: A parishioner innocently approached the parish music director and asked if we could have "some Latin at Mass". She literally drew back her shoulders and declaimed in her most authoritative voice "We don't do Latin at this parish. Latin isn't accessible to the people." The parishioner (who was by no means elderly) spoke of the beauty of Latin and how much she and many other parishioners would enjoy it. I then chimed in and said, "Why couldn't we? We would have to start with simpler stuff, but why not? I'd be happy to help." She then turned to me and with a voice of cold fury made it clear that there would be no such goings on at that parish. When I pointed out that a couple of parishes in the diocese (including, at that time, the Cathedral) in fact had regular Latin Masses, she harrumphed and said that unfortunately there was nothing she could do about such pastors.

Interesting, but hardly surprising stuff. When our cantor added the Agnus Dei in Latin during Easter, there was tut-tutting amongst the "The Nuns Were Mean To Us In The Old Days" crowd. Still and all, a fairly innocuous post from Fr. Rob.

So, of course, his Bishop ordered him to cease posting to his blog.

Another good priest in the Diocese offered the reason:

The chancery has received complaints that Fr. Rob's description of an incident several years ago involving a former member of the diocesan liturgy commission [who lied to Rob and parishioners about a diocesan ban on the Novus Ordo Mass -- no such ban exists] [I think he means Latin in the NO--DP] was inflammatory and imprudent, and casts aspersions on the current diocesan liturgy commission, whose chairperson is a member of Fr. Rob's parish. I have no idea if this parishioner/chairperson is the one who reported Fr. Rob's "inflammatory" blog to the chancery -- I doubt it strongly, as I know this person to be a good person, not given to overreaction, and generally well-disposed to Fr. Rob. In other words, no axe to grind here.

Fr. Rob's comments made no judgment upon the current diocesan liturgy commission, but simply described an instance of deception by a former member, who is no longer a resident of the Kalamazoo diocese. I am extremely disappointed in the action taken here to Fr. Rob. I have known him since he first started studying in the seminary for the diocese, and he has been the subject of much scrutiny and criticism by the "ageing hippy" element among the presbyters of this diocese. The mere fact that Fr. Rob has degrees in classical languages sets their false teeth on edge. That he is of a more traditional turn theologically and spiritually does not win him any further support among this crowd.


This reminds me of something....It's on the tip of my tongue.... Don't worry: I'll figure it out.

In the legal profession, the gripe about impugning the commission is what we call a facially-invalid complaint. Quite simply, how can it "cast[] aspersions on the current diocesan liturgy commission" when it makes no reference whatsoever to it? Re-read the post a few times: of the phrase "diocesan liturgy commission," only the term "liturgy" appears. There's no indication that Kate, the parish music enforcer, was a member of the DLC. Accepting fully the description of the good faith of the Bishop, it is still indefensible. What we have here is the iron hand of a bureaucracy that tolerates no deviation, and no dissent.

Except for itself, of course.

Adding some Latin to the Mass? That's not "inclusive." It's not "accessible." Note the profound condescension of such a position. Even as OCP promotes the addition of Spanish hymns to the Mass--a few lines of Latin would be incomprehensible to Joe and Mary Catholic. Spare me.

Why, the temerity of such a suggestion! Msgr. O'Brien of the DLC has requisitioned the rat cage for Fr. W. Smith. He will learn to love Big Haugen.

But for the proles, the Thirty Five Year Plan will continue. FACP quotas will be achieved. Folk music will be sung. Parishes will be renovated. Sacred meals will be celebrated.

Churches will empty.

Saturday, February 22, 2003

"Eruzione shoots...he scores!!!"

Today is the 23rd anniversary of the most titanic upset in Olympic team sports: the victory of the U.S. hockey team over the Soviets. It certainly made an impression on this eleven year old and his friends, who were playing a lot of field hockey in the gym at the time. "I'm Mike Eruzione!" "I'm Dave Silk!" "I'm Mike Ramsey!" "I'm Jim Craig!" Fortunately, no one got too badly bruised.

I have it on tape, but I hope it comes to DVD. I still get chills as Al Michaels calls the Eruzione goal. Montreal Canadien Hall of Fame goatender Ken Dryden was in the booth as the color commentator, and he was clearly caught up in the moment, too.

The real hero of the game was goalie Jim Craig, who turned away 38 shots from what was probably the greatest Olympic team ever assembled.

Actually, the Russians were one of the great teams, period. Just ask the Canadians, whose team of NHL all-stars barely eked out a 4-3-1 victory in an unsurpassed eight game hockey war in 1972, better known as the Super Series. Paul Henderson's goal in Game Eight has a mythic quality in Canada that's hard to describe to Americans. Think Bill Mazeroski's seventh game home run in the 1960 World Series against the dread Yankees, combined with Joe Montana's last minute drive in the 1989 Super Bowl, wrapped up in Eruzione's goal in 1980, and you have something of the flavor of it.

Now, maybe, you have a feel for the magnitude of the upset of the Soviet team in 1980 at the hands of a bunch of American collegians.

Of course, the world changed radically after that, and now Russian players are commonplace in the NHL. A little over seventeen years later, I cheered like a maniac when future Hall of Fame defenseman Slava Fetisov, a member of the 1980 Soviet team, hoisted the Stanley Cup over his head as a member of the mighty Detroit Red Wings.

But, with all due respect to Slava, I still glory in the 1980 victory. As, I suspect, do all Americans who remember it.
Is the tide about to turn in favor of Pope Pius XII?

Mark Cameron reports a Zenit story about Sir Martin Gilbert's perspective on the Pope and the Shoah. It contains this favorable quote from the eminent British historian:

Three years ago, Gilbert published the book "Never Again: A History of the Holocaust." Interviewed by United Press International, the English historian said: "Christians were among the first victims of the Nazis. ... One of the things I try to bring out in the book is that the Christian churches took a very powerful stand. ... At every stage of the Holocaust, the Church had no hesitation ... all the great bishops of France protested the deportations, ... Poland had more Righteous Gentiles than any other country."

In the same book, Gilbert says that he is not unaware that some Christians, violating their faith, did not oppose the Nazis, but he explained "that they did so, in spite of, and not because of, their religion. This was particularly true regarding the Catholic Church, whose moral teachings against racism, anti-Semitism and murder were perfectly clear."

Gilbert added: "I try to find out what the Catholic Church and churchmen and Pacelli himself actually did do. So the test for Pacelli was when the Gestapo came to Rome to round up Jews. And the Catholic Church, on his direct authority, immediately dispersed as many Jews as they could."


That's a perspective on the Pope that I had not considered before: the hour of decision was the attempted round-up of Roman Jews--and the Pope used his authority to intervene decisively in favor of the Jewish population. The attempted round-up was his "Schindler moment"--and four-fifths of Rome's Jewish population was saved at his direct order. A very helpful way to look at the Pope's conduct.

Mr. Cameron also provides a link to The Righteous, which is selling quite briskly at Amazon (# 1,118 as of this post).

Gilbert is one of the premier historians of our time. If, at a minimum, these books are not on your shelf, your personal library is by definition deficient. His book on the Second World War is especially poignant, as it makes a determined effort to document atrocities that are otherwise forgotten or left out of books of comparable scope.

Gilbert's stature ensures that no credible account of the Pope's actions will be able to ignore his perspective. Perhaps the tide turns. If so, it is long overdue.



[P.S.--Thanks to Mark for his kind reference to the Pagans post.]
Whatever happened to Cardinal Law?

Funny you should ask, because the Detroit News has the answer, and it relates to a recent link I posted, too:

Law issued a statement Friday [February 7], saying he plans to move to Clinton, Md., to live at a house owned by the Sisters of Mercy of Alma, a conservative order of nuns based in Alma, Mich.

"I am very grateful to the Sisters of Mercy of Alma for their kind invitation to be their guest during this time of transition," Law said. "It is my hope to be of assistance to the Sisters as a chaplain."

There is no firm date for his move, Law said.

The house is located on the grounds of a convent in Clinton about 20 miles from Washington, D.C. No one answered the phone at the order's headquarters in Michigan on Friday.


And I just blogged about the Alma Sisters on Thursday. Interesting.

The News' Religion page is generally quite worthwhile--it's where I learned about the proponents of G.K. Chesterton's canonization. Unfortunately, the story was published in 1999, and Detroit News links expire after two years.
Got Sleep?

Surely you jest. My beloved toddler daughter has been getting up at 5:30am consistently for the past week. "Awake" awake, not merely a brief wake up. This is probably God's way of preparing Heather and I for the sleeplessness that will be caused by our son, who is going to be born on Wednesday.

After that, we'll have several "sleep-optional" months.

So, I should be thankful. I guess.

I probably will be with more coffee.

Since she's watching SpongeBob on the DVD player, I will blog. Sounds fair.

Thursday, February 20, 2003

But if he's not dead...

Mansoor Ijaz outlines Al Qaeda's doomsday scenario over at The Weekly Standard.

AL QAEDA has explosives expertise that is unsurpassed in non-military circles. It gets military-grade C4 charges from China and Iran; it employs Hezbollah and Hamas guerillas trained in the fine arts of detonation devices (witness particularly the maritime attacks against the USS Cole and the French oil tanker); and it has brainwashed legions of men who are willing to die for the cause.

What's missing? Plutonium, and the scientific expertise to build a crude but highly explosive nuclear bomb. (Plutonium is more easily transported without detection and offers a bigger bang for the buck than typical enriched uranium devices.)

Who's supplying the material and expertise? North Korea, and, surprisingly, our ally in the war against al Qaeda, Pakistan. Pyongyang--with a lot of help from China (which is supplying key chemicals to separate plutonium from depleted uranium) and Pakistan (which gave North Korea its uranium enrichment centrifuges and tutored its nuclear scientists)--will be able to churn out Coke cans of plutonium at the rate of one per week by the end of March.

According to my intelligence sources in the Far East, the outlying renegade provinces of Indonesia (Aceh, for example) and the Philippines (where al Qaeda affiliate Abu Sayyaf rules) are infested with senior al Qaeda leaders. Each one is financially empowered to purchase North Korea's plutonium the moment it is reprocessed. Ayman Zawahiri, al Qaeda's number two, was reportedly in Indonesia last September, a month before the Bali bomb blast that killed 200 mostly Australian tourists. He could easily be there again.

We also know from published--and so far undisputed--reports that from February 2000 until July 2002, eight senior Pakistani nuclear scientists left their country without obtaining the required No Objection Certificates needed for travel abroad. They remain unaccounted for and at least some are reported to have traveled to Australia and Indonesia.

In a worst case scenario, al Qaeda could construct a crude but effective nuclear device in weeks, if not a month, from Hezbollah C4, North Korean plutonium, and a little nuclear expertise from disaffected Pakistani scientists. Making a "dirty" radiological dispersion device with Strontium or Cesium also remains an option, although it is clear that al Qaeda has the intent and resources to go for weapons that cause maximum collateral damage.

Add to this troubling possibility the fact that the terror group has resorted to the use of seafaring vessels to move its people around, and now has a fleet large and diverse enough that one or two could seamlessly move into a large harbor or congested waterway undetected, and a picture emerges of an unparalleled potential threat to the global economy from the paralysis that could be caused by a crude plutonium bomb exploding in the belly of an al Qaeda ship with bin Laden onboard.


More nightmares.

I can't imagine what it's like working for our counter-terrorist services.
"If this had been an actual liturgical emergency..."

Fun with Homeland Security graphics over at Catholic Light.

The Disintegration of Yet Another Religious Order.

The Sisters of Mercy have gone over to the dark side. Sr. Linda Werthman announces that the Sisters have adopted a pious neutrality on the issue of abortion:

The Sisters of Mercy have a long and fruitful history of caring for life especially the life of the most vulnerable persons. To this end we sponsor education, health care and other ministries that further social, political, economic and spiritual well being in order to have a public presence and public voice in the complex issues facing Catholic and all persons of good will.

Are the unborn "persons," Sister? The word "complex" is always deployed when dissenters refuse to heed authority.

I can practically hear the scrabbling for the section of Aquinas discussing ensoulment. Of course, this is just about the only time 13th Century theology is regarded as infallible by these folks....

However, please note that this isn't the only "Sisters of Mercy." There are still those who follow foundress Catherine McAuley's vision.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Less Than Dyspeptic Musings About Governor Granholm.

This is prompted by a discussion about Mercy High's Le Déjeuner sur L'ansing over at HMS Weblog. Emily Stimpson offered a useful corrective on the situation of people like the Governor:

On Friday, Duncan [Maxwell] called Granholm's religion "a campaign resource." Then today, Greg [Popcak] accused her of "trading on her Catholicism to burnish her image." Maybe that's exactly what she has done. To a certain degree, it's almost undeniable. But, at the same time, we shouldn't assume that that is all her religion means to her. I know plenty of people (who actually share my last name) who consider themselves pro-choice and who also consider themselves good Catholics. Their understanding of the faith is stunted, partially by the horrible teaching they've received from various priests in the post-Vatican II years and partially by their own sin. But, they do have faith and, in their own limited way, are trying to be "good Catholics."

Fair enough. It is impossible to deny that, because of horrible education, Catholics are often confused on moral issues generally, and abortion specifically. This is not helped by heterodox priests trumpeting in favor of "choice", nor the tepid response of the hierarchy, which has fuzzed the issue by decrying abortion but refusing to call politicians to account.

Which gets me to the point: the Governor says that she is personally opposed to abortion, but cannot let this affect the discharge of her public duties. This strikes me as incoherent, but possible. Perhaps one could be opposed to abortion, but believe that the proper way to address it is to change hearts, minds and the culture through protests, education, and the provision of alternatives to abortion, such as adoption, additional benefits for mothers with crisis pregnancies and so forth. One could believe that, compared to cultural change, pursuit of legislative change is unproductive and only inflames the culture war, hardening positions.

Perhaps. It certainly is food for thought: How would you feel about a world where abortion is perfectly legal but nobody ever has one? Or the rough Clinton (I know, I know!) approximate: "Safe, legal and rare." Funny how it was only 1.5 of 3 on that program, but....

While I don't buy into this approach (we abolished Jim Crow first, passed the Civil and Voting Rights Acts, and then hearts changed), it would certainly cause me to temper my views about the Governor (and the Catholic politicos like her). It would be much more of a reasoned position, and much less a mantra.

Is this the Governor's position? I don't see any confirming evidence. The only "evidence" is her declaration: "I'm personally opposed, but..." Before I buy into it, I need to see some evidence that she is indeed "personally opposed." Add to that the fact she is in favor of partial birth abortion, and the doubts harden into near-certainty.

But still: Has she protested abortion, e.g., even if only helping with the pro-life crosses at her church? Has she contributed to pro-life causes? Donated time and talents to such things as crisis pregnancy centers, adoption programs or the like? Is there any such evidence with respect to Granholm? Or other politicians like her? Does anybody have any clarification on this?

If there is such proof, then we have to pay heed to that, and take it into account in our dealings with them.

If there is no such evidence, then it is a fig leaf used to cover what are really pro-abortion views under a nominally "Catholic" cover. If this is the case, let the caning begin.
Faithful Catholics Can Be Safely Ignored.

From victory to defeat: Lunch with Granholm is back on the menu.

The pleasant Freep columnist and reliable liberal Laura Berman (think Dickerson with a cerebellum and no fangs) reports on this reversal of fortune, starting with this howler:

But at Mercy -- whose mission is Catholic education, not politics -- the administration crumpled when the Stop Granholm contingent launched into full attack mode.

Abortion and Catholic education. Write your own punchline.

Board member Agnes Mansour -- a former Sister of Mercy who left the order over her own pro-choice stand -- resigned from the school's board of trustees. Mansour, who once headed the state's now-defunct Department of Social Services, said that Mercy had aligned itself with "that extreme element of the Catholic Church that uses a politician's public policy view on abortion as a litmus test."

Mansour had the integrity to leave--but that's pretty well where her integrity ends. Another ex-nun turned political exhibitionist. What the hell--it gets her quoted, doesn't it? Nuns who agree with the decision don't appear in Free Press columns. "Extreme elements"? Like, um, the Pope, and the American Bishops (on paper).

At Mercy, the mission is mercy, compassion, tolerance. And Monday, after much soul-searching, debate and publicity, the school announced that it had reversed its decision and re-invited the governor to be an auction item.

The school and governor paraded traditional virtues: humility, grace, generosity of spirit. Mansour praised the decision as "courageous," and said she would consider returning to the board, if invited. ("But I would be perfectly understanding if no invitation was forthcoming.")


Mercy, compassion, and tolerance: important values, very true. But Unitarians and atheists are supporters of the same values--nothing particularly Catholic about them. You can learn about these things in any private school.

What's missing? Something distinctively Catholic: The Gospel. It's completely absent here.
Goodness, can't mention that. "Merciful, compassionate and tolerant" American Catholics can never bring themselves to mention the Gospel, especially all that judgment stuff. Never the Gospel. Not anymore. Where's the mercy, compassion and tolerance for the unborn? Evidently such is unseemly at, uh, Mercy High.

"Courageous"? Insert expletives here:_________________. It takes no courage to ignore and offend the sensibilities of faithful Catholics. The Spirit of Vatican II crowd has been doing it since 1968. I mean, really: Mercy's decision has earned it three favorable columns in the largest circulation paper in the state. It takes "courage" to accept applause?

Don't worry, Agnes--your invitation's in the mail. Sisterhood trumps all.

Of course, if the Mercy Sisters had ever offered lunch with pro-life Catholic Governor John Engler, the protesters would be on shakier ground. But, of course, that never happened. In fact, it's a laughable idea. Governor Engler was, well, an icky hick from Beal City. Not the kind of fellow worldly-wise suburbanite nuns care to deal with. And, Goddess, his position on social issues--shudder....Nope, just not Mercy material.

The fact is, the Sisters are women first, and Catholics second. And the latter largely for tax purposes.

Now all we can hope for are two things: (1) parents decide to move their kids out of Mercy and into a Catholic school, and (2) dogged pro-lifers outbid everyone for the luncheon. Might as well make a teaching moment out of it--especially since it promises to be in the public eye.

Monday, February 17, 2003

Lane Core and Lew Rockwell.

The Blog From The Core attempts to reason with one of the Lew Rockwell faithful, Jeffrey Tucker, who issued a motu proprio on the President's Christianity. Lane does a fine job:

Referring back to your original reply, slaughter there has been, slaughter there is, and slaughter there will be. The real situation is this: Will it be deliberate slaughter of innocent civilians, anywhere around the world, for who knows how many years or decades, where terrorists have planted themselves to strike when and how they can? Or will it be unintentional slaughter of innocent civilians, in as short a time as possible, with as few victims as human foresight, planning, and action can manage?

* * *

It is wrong to care more for the lives of innocent civilians on the other side of the world who may be killed unintentionally than for the lives of innocent civilians among one's family, community, and nation who may be killed deliberately. I say it again: it is wrong. It is not the moral high ground: it is the moral swamp, where both rational thought and proper feeling have been abandoned. Our first (not the only, but the first) obligation is to those closest to us, not to those farthest away. And it is especially so for our leaders and our defense forces.


I would just like to add my own thoughts about the deficiencies of Mr. Tucker's analysis of "Baptistic" Christianity. Never mind that Bush is a United Methodist, not a Baptist--though admittedly the President is a member of its evangelical wing. The UMC's evangelical movement is fast becoming the only defender of Christian orthodoxy in an increasingly heterodox church.

Odd, too, that the Catholic Tucker would cite Presbyterian thenomist Gary North as an authority for evaluating the deficiencies of the President's type of faith. Especially given that, two paragraphs later, Mr. Tucker chides the President's faith as "Calvinist." Incoherent? Ditto the "two sacraments" charge, which describes all Protestants--Mr. North included--except for certain Anglican bodies. Further, if Mr. Tucker thinks that the Presbyterians specifically (and the Reformed generally) are of one mind on soteriological issues, let alone the scope and application of the Old Testament Law....

The presumptiveness of Mr. Tucker's analysis morphs into this:

We have here an entirely different constellation of incentives at work. Might Bush believe there is no eternal price to pay for killing thousands, even millions, in a good cause, since there is nothing he could do to endanger his immortal soul?

Well, I suppose it's possible. Ask Dr. North: Calvin certainly didn't lose much sleep over executing Michael Servetus. After reading this eye-opener, the astute Baptist from the American South rounds on Mr. Tucker. First, he starts quoting Exsurge Domine, particularly that part about the burning of heretics not being against the Holy Spirit. And what was that thing about St. Bartholomew's Day and the French Huguenots again? In other words, a denial of "Eternal Security" is no guarantee of good behavior either, Mr. Catholic. Mr. Astute Baptist follows up that heater by pointing to a Baptist heretic-burning rate of 0%, an identical rate for wars of religion and so on. As a clincher, he professes doubt as to whether fear of eternal hellfire motivated any of the responses to sexual abuse by the hierarchy of the Archdiocese of Boston during the past 20+ years.

Lane notes that Mr. Tucker responded with an accusation that he (Lane) was in favor of "slaughter." On that point, he sounds rather like Bishop Gumbleton.

Ah, brothers dwelling in unity!
Bishop Gumbleton Versus America.

If you have ever seen Bishop Gumbleton protesting "aggression" by countries other than America, let me know. I haven't seen any evidence that such is the case. You would think that the bloody state of the planet would offer plenty of opportunities for him. What about, say, the admittedly brutal Russian campaign in Muslim Chechnya?

A savage war, and a humanitarian disaster. Surely the Bishop has spoken out against that, correct?

I googled "Gumbleton" and "Chechnya." The number of times the Bishop has spoken out on this tragedy? Let me express it in terms of a fraction.

Diddly/squat.

The fact is that the Bishop doesn't get exercised unless the United States is involved. The smoking gun is found in a fatuous open letter from a claque of pseudo-intellectuals residing in "Amerika," published in Le Monde. In this April 9, 2002 celebration of vacuity entitled Letter From United States Citizens To Friends In Europe, the United States is held up as the font of planetary evil. More appropriately entitled From the Blind to The Venal, it is a celebration of America hatred. The signatories' world is a place where the United States has never defended any cause undeserving of extirpation. The defeat of slavery, the halting of imperial militarism, the obliteration of genocidal fascism, the vanquishing of equally-genocidal communism--None of these events happened in the alternate reality these moral voids live in.

Further evidence of the reality-challenged nature of the citoyens is seen in their continuing agnosticism as to the perpetrators of 9/11:

Traditionally, "defense" means defense of national territory. On September 11, an attack actually took place on and against U.S. territory. This was not a conventional attack by a major power designed to seize territory. Rather, it was an anonymous strike against particular targeted institutions. In the absence of any claim of responsibility, the symbolic nature of the targets may have been assumed to be self-explanatory.

Anonymous, eh? Those videotapes, audiotapes and general Al Qaeda gloating still leave some doubt? There are none so blind...

Just above it in the letter, one finds another disturbing paragraph:

Supposedly in self-defense, the United States launched a war against Afghanistan. This was not an action specially designed to respond to the unique events of September 11. On the contrary, it was exactly what the United States was already doing, and had already planned to do, as outlined in Pentagon documents: bomb other countries, send military forces onto foreign soil and topple their governments. The United States is openly planning an all-out war -- not excluding use of nuclear weapons -- against Iraq, a country it has been bombing for a decade, with the proclaimed aim of replacing its government with leaders selected by Washington.

The signatories have won their battle with reality, in a decisive, scorched-earth fashion. Reality's soil has been sown with salt. The population of Reality has been ethnically cleansed, and the survivors sold into slavery. Amongst the signers of the Clueless Manifesto?

"Thomas J. Gumbleton, Auxiliary Bishop, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit."

Note the precise nature of the gripe I've highlighted in bold: Hussein's savagery--his murders, tortures, rapes, wars, invasions, use of chemical weapons on civilians, his possession of anthrax, his lust for ever-more-potent weapons--is irrelevant. It pales next to the fact his tyranny is opposed by the United States. The "real" evil is the United States.

Remember that when American armored columns are greeted by cheering Iraqis.

Far from being a "peace" advocate, Bishop Gumbleton is a four-square defender of militarism, genocide, forced collectivization, ethnic cleansing, the proliferation of WMDs--the lot--if these causes are opposed by the might of the United States.

The "peace" ministry of Bishop Gumbleton is worthy only of utter contempt.

Saturday, February 15, 2003

Bishop Gumbleton Update.

The Freep's front page peace blitz continues. And Bishop Thomas K. Gumbleton is the star of today's below-the-fold story, with Rudy Simons as a very special guest star. My opinion of Bishop Gumbleton has fallen considerably since my original posting.

He continues to have nothing to say:

For Gumbleton, the march for peace is rooted in the doctrine of nonviolence and firsthand experience seeing the impact the 12-year economic sanctions have had on Iraq. He makes his point by holding a fragment from a cluster bomb dropped from a U.S. fighter jet during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

"This one is meant to go off upon human contact," said Gumbleton, who was given the memento during a mid-January visit to Iraqi homes, schools and hospitals in Baghdad and Basra.


As long as the Bishop keeps trotting out this line about what "the sanctions" are doing to Iraq, I feel constrained to point out that the problem is not the sanctions, but the tyrant in Baghdad. As I noted two weeks ago, the Bishop really needs to stop being so accommodating and being willingly led around by the nose. Try going to the part of Iraq where the skies are patrolled by Brits and Yanks, not Hussein. The part where the people, not the dictator, spend the oil money. The place where the money actually buys food and medicine, not palaces, mobile biowar labs and the latest missile technology. The bishop's shtick is getting old.

There are two possibilities: one, he is ignorant of the facts concerning the repressive regime and the relatively healthy status of the people outside the autocrat's grip. If so, then Bishop Gumbleton is an unreliable and inaccurate source on the issue of Iraq, and should be politely ignored. The second possibility is that the Bishop is aware of some or all of these facts, but disregards them in his quest for "peace" at any price. If so, he is an unreliable, inaccurate and contemptible source on Iraq, and his views should be reviled, then ignored. In the interests of charity, I will presume the former. But understand that it is a strained presumption, and there is ample evidence to suspect the second is true.

With respect to the cluster bomb chunklet, two points. The first and most obvious is that, yes, they were used in the Gulf War, targeting the Iraqi fuhrer's most fanatical force, the Republican Guard. Yes, it's legit in wartime. Second, with respect to the exploding-on-human-contact thing:

Well, that's the idea, as has been noted in this war.

[T]he U.S. and U.K governments have defended their use of the [cluster bomb] weapons saying they are the only effective way of dealing with particular threats and are only used after careful consideration of the risk to civilian life.

"They are being used on frontline al Qaeda and Taliban troops to try to kill them," U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told reporters Thursday.

"[That] is why we're using them, to be perfectly blunt."


I'd love to be a fly on the wall during a closed-door meeting between the Bishop and the Secretary of Defense. You? Back to the Freep article:

"We've seen the results of the 1991 war and the sanctions, and it's difficult to think of the Iraqi people as an enemy after you've wept with them as they watch their children die because there aren't enough medical supplies."

Sigh. Has he considered the possibility that the scarcity in medical supplies might have something, I don't know, perhaps, maybe, to do with the Iraqi regime and its militaristic priorities?

To quote Michael Rubin in The New Republic:

The Azad pharmacy in Sulaymaniyah is stocked with medicines. So is the Shara pharmacy next door. In the cool early evening hours, the street bustles with shoppers, some of whom drift inside. They hand over prescriptions, pay the equivalent of a few cents, and walk out with antibiotics for their wives or medicine for their children. Down the street, shops sell watermelons, cheese, vegetables, and meat. Even the liquor stores have large inventories. Mazdas and Mercedeses are becoming more common on the newly paved roads; in the wealthier areas, it is not uncommon to see BMWs. Sony PlayStation has become the latest craze, even among housewives. None of which would be particularly noteworthy, except that Sulaymaniyah is in Iraq.

The part of Iraq not controlled by the fascist tyrant. The tyrant whose totalitarian regime the good Bishop never quite gets around to acknowledging. That would, after all, tend to complicate matters.

Because he and the rest of the "peace" movement would have to acknowledge these painfully difficult facts about the Persian Gulf's Nazi disciple:

The regime of Saddam Hussein has killed or exiled proportionally more of its population than Hitler's did to Germany;

The regime of Saddam Hussein currently has a worse record with respect to dealing with its neighbors than that of Adolf Hitler in 1938; and

The regime of Saddam Hussein has or is developing weapons that Adolf Hitler could not have imagined in his most diseased fantasies
.

But the Bishop is, as is his wont, incapable of even mentioning Hussein.

Gumbleton and eight others spent seven days in Iraq on a trip organized by Voices in the Wilderness, a broad-focused pacifist organization,and September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, a group with relatives killed on Sept. 11. It was Gumbleton's third trip to Iraq since the Gulf War. He traveled to the country in 1995, then again in 1998 as part of a delegation that brought $4 million in medical aid.

The 1998 trip was done in conjunction with former Johnson Administration AG and current whack job Ramsey Clark. The company you keep...

Speaking of company:

Traveling in January with Gumbleton was Southfield resident Rudy Simons, whose activism began in 1960 when U.S. involvement in Vietnam consisted of a few thousand military advisers.

"Our work is to testify to what we've seen," said Simons, a member of Michigan Coalition for Human Rights who will speak at the Detroit rally. "We're not supporting the Iraqi government, but pointing out who gets hurt and killed in war -- it's the people."


My respect for The Michigan Catholic just went into the toilet. Last month, it referred to Mr. Simons as only "an Oakland County businessman." TMC left out the piddling detail about him being a longtime professional peace activist. Looks like I get to play FCYA with the archdiocesan newspaper from now on. In any event, Rudy continues his "we're not useful idiots" song and dance, but is unable to cover his fool's motley. After all, a policy that leaves the Iraqi regime unmolested is the very definition of "supporting the Iraqi government." The hands-off, no sanctions/no war avenue proposed by the Bishop and the "Businessman" will do just that.

The section on the Bishop concludes with this howler:

That testimony is a direct challenge to the Bush administration.

Sure: it's a direct challenge to the ability of Administration members to keep from wetting themselves during a laughing fit.

Secretary Rumsfeld: "Bishop Who?"

The essential facts about Bishop Thomas K. Gumbleton are these:

It is painfully evident that the bishop has never, ever visited any of the victims of Hussein's regime. How is this possible? What about the gassed Kurds in the northern safe haven, or the increasing number of refugees from the oppression in Jordan? Hell, he wouldn't have to go that far: he could trundle out of St. Leo's rectory, hop in the car and head out to talk to one of these brave men in the Detroit suburbs. I'd love to see him try to explain his Hussein-coddling, do-nothing approach to these guys. I'd pay top dollar to see that.

Or during maybe a chat with some of the Iraqi opposition in country? They are easy to find--in the overflowing prisons and torture mills of the Baathist state. Well?

Bishop Gumbleton has never had word one to say about the victims of Saddam Hussein. Not one damn word. The silence is very, very, very telling.

You may start ignoring him now.

Friday, February 14, 2003

Waning, But Not Entirely Vanished, Francophilia Dep't.

The World's Most Confused Jew (his description, not mine) gives a report on a demonstration by conservative Hoyas in front of the French Embassy. Complete with photos of the hilarious signs, and the tiny clump of bedraggled counter-protesters. [Via Instapundit]

Jacques Chirac had the misfortune of attracting the undivided attention of Christopher Hitchens recently. President Chirac is described thusly as a "vain and posturing and venal man who, attempting to act the part of a balding Joan of Arc in drag, is making France into the abject procurer for Saddam." However, Hitchens points out a historic streak of nobility in French behavior on the world scene--albeit one entirely absent from the present French leadership.

Read the whole thing.

R. Emmett Tyrell weighs in on the Entente Non Cordiale, and gives a report on a pro-American French philosopher fighting the good fight. Lousy French philosophers get a deserved caning. He also notes the likely response of the Entente upon Hussein's deposition.
Why the Peace Protests Aren't Developing Momentum.

It's so hard to find quality protesters these days.

Photoshop fanatics have fun with Mr. Wright (how's that for irony?) here. [Warning: Some offensive language and references.]
Did you know that the trendy liturgists had their own website?

I didn't. It's called We Believe!

Yes, the exclamation point is in the original.

They even publish a newsletter. Some of it is unobjectionable--to a point. However, I get vertigo reading the grousing. It's a little like reading a San Francisco 49ers Fan Club newsletter whining about the success of the Detroit Lions.

But it is handy, because it shows how we get the Full Vosko in sacred art and architecture (if such can be termed "sacred" art and architecture):

The fourth and final shibboleth is the notion that there is a "distinctively Catholic" art and architecture which is visible and peculiarly "sacred" and hence appropriate to the liturgy. The "sacred" is not a quality that inheres in objects; it is not a thing, but a relationship, an encounter initiated by the Holy for the sake of bringing us into relation with itself. Art is born of that relationship—and hence sacred art can be any human activity brought to life by God.

Translation: "Silly immature Catholics--we Degreed Experts will tell you what 'art' is. And it isn't anything considered art before 1962. Why, art can be an abstract non-physical concept. In fact, the very unadorned lecture-hall quality of the building you are celebrating in is 'art,' because we are church. Never mind the fact your parents, grandparents and so on back through the centuries built up these forms and treasured these baubles as 'art.' We know art, they didn't and you don't. Which is why we're heaving your altar into a dumpster."

[Links via Bill Cork.]
There's One Architectural Change I Can Live With.

That would be the baptismal immersion pools. Unless, of course, it's used to justify ripping out something else of traditional beauty or value. That, and the warmed water/jacuzzi jet effect is more than a little ridiculous. Done supposedly to simulate the "living waters" thing, but reports of baptisms taking place in Roman baths are unaccountably scarce. Early Catholics preferred their baptismal water cold if at all possible, thank you. Apparently, the thought is that modern folks can't take even a little temporary discomfort.

Bill Cork talked about the fonts yesterday, noting a phenomenon I'd never considered, either:

I was puzzled by the energy that she [Susan Benofy in the Adoremus Bulletin] poured into the discussion--but then came this:

"The option in the Baptismal rite for pouring specifies that the water is to be poured 'on the candidate's bowed head'. It does not say it is to be poured over the whole body, an invention of liturgists, with no precedent in tradition or justification in the current rite.

The only connection pouring water over the whole body has with true immersion is that by either procedure the baptized 'get very, very wet every Easter'. Why build an immersion pool to baptize by pouring?"

And I thought of a video I saw the other day, in which an 8- or 9-year-old girl is standing in a pool, while copious amounts of water are poured on her from a pitcher, while she giggles.

And this Adoremus article suddenly made me realize--I've seen lots of big fonts with waterfalls and stacked terraces, but not a one where it was possible to immerse an adult. In each case, they were built to allow for an adult to stand (or kneel) in some water, and have water poured from a pitcher or a shell over their head.

"Why build an immersion pool to baptize by pouring?"


That is bizarre: I, too, have never seen a font that could immerse an adult who was not also a practicing contortionist. Weird.

Benofy's article is worthwhile, pointing out the usual tedious Liturspeak defending immersion pools, and noting that there is no particular emphasis on immersion in the documents that matter.

However, a good argument can be made that immersion is a fuller sacramental sign of the reality of baptism. From Romans 6:

3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

St. Paul's comparison of the burial of Christ with baptism would tend to favor immersion as the better sign of what baptism is--regenerative, and rising to new life. Not that that St. Paul's language compels it, though. For instance, in Acts 2:41, it is revealed that 3000 were baptized in Jerusalem following St. Peter's Pentecost sermon. Given that the water supply for baptism involved cisterns, it seems highly unlikely that the authorities would have permitted immersion, especially of so many people. Plus, see the first link above, which is to the Didache, which gives a feel as to the early attitude towards baptismal form.

But, if you are going to do immersion--do immersion. It's clear that, as is often the case, the Liturgy People have missed the point by installing quasi-jacuzzis that are too small.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Eastern Catholic Corner.

Handy links about an enduring interest of mine--one that is growing much stronger of late.

Byzantines.net--it is something of a clearinghouse on the subject, including a fine transcript of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. Also, do not miss the Akathist hymns.

Here's the Melkite Catholic website. The Melkites are Arab Catholics (mainly Syrian), and there are many here in Metro Detroit. A congregation in Warren, Michigan, is building a magnificent new church, complete with a golden dome. Our Lady of Redemption promises to be spectacular once finished.

This is a good Melkite resource page. The Melkite Divine Liturgy can be found here.

The site also includes a brief but interesting discussion of differences in Eastern iconography, comparing Greek, Russian, and Arabic styles.

For information about Ukrainian Catholics, go here.

Finally, for one of the best essays about the complex and often bloody relationship between Western Catholics, Eastern Catholics and the Orthodox, read Anamnesis, Not Amnesia, by Robert Taft, S.J. [Presumably no relation to the late Ohio Senator.]

The story of the Communist-ordered "Synods," which forcibly integrated Ukrainian Catholics into the Russian Orthodox Church, deserves to be better-known:

On March 8-10, 1946, a "synod" of 216 terrorized priests and nineteen laypersons, orchestrated in Lviv under the leadership of this group, abolished the Union of Brest (1596). This purported to be a synod of the Ukrainian Catholic Church and to this day the Russian Orthodox Church has claimed it to be such and has steadfastly refused to repudiate either the synod or its own role in the charade. But as the Russian Orthodox Church authorities are well aware, the entire Ukrainian Catholic hierarchy was in prison, and the entire presidium of the synod had in fact already become Orthodox, though this was kept secret until the farce was a fait accompli. The action was followed by massive arrests, interrogations, abuse, trials, banishment and deportations, causing incalculable suffering and death.

Russian Orthodox authorities ever since have defended what was done as a canonically legitimate synod of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church that freely and legitimately abolished of the "forced" Union of Brest, and to this day they have refused to disclaim or condemn it. The Acts of the synod were published in Ukrainian in Lviv in 1946, and in 1982 the Moscow Patriarchate issued bowdlerized (i.e., deliberately doctored) versions in Russian and English for the 45th anniversary of the shameful charade.

The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was not destroyed but driven undergound, to re-emerge maimed but still vigorously alive when finally granted freedom in 1989, at which time almost the entire Russian Orthodox Church in Western Ukraine, clergy, parishes, and faithful, re-entered the Catholic Church en masse.
Cromwell Revividus Is At It Again.

Notorious unlicensed architect, iconoclast and all-around vandal Richard Vosko is demolishing yet another Catholic Church.

Mark Sullivan reports that Dick the Destroyer has trained his siege artillery on Archbishop Fulton Sheen's old cathedral in Rochester, N.Y. Another Voskoid monstrosity is in the works.

As is always the case with Vosko, everything distinctively Catholic is being obliterated so he can implement the design changes he does in his sleep: Theatre in the round, high altar removed, whitewashed walls, bleached-out colors, the Tabernacle in some broom closet, statuary removed, a table replacing the altar, modern lighting obscuring the stained glass--you know what a Vosko's going to look like right away. No stone is left unturned in his quest to extirpate the Catholic past.

He's the liturgists' equivalent of Herman Goering. Only less respectful of his targets.

Yes, he's destroyed Catholic churches just like Oliver Cromwell. The difference is, our forebears didn't pay the Lord Protector a handsome fee for the privilege.
Catholic Laity In Action.

[Yes, I finally got some sleep]

Protest results in luncheon with Granholm being pulled.

Sometimes, you win one.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Waffles, Anyone?

My 36 weeks pregnant wife went into (false) labor Monday, my daughter has ear infection No. X (not 10, X--I literally cannot remember how many she's had), and I've slept in chunklets. I plan on blogging about that here. Plus, I like spending time with my wife and daughter, and I have a day job which puts a few demands on my time, too.

As a result, after reviewing comments here and elsewhere, I see that I've wavered and waffled on numerous issues over the past day (here and at other blogs), from overly-conciliatory to spiked-club bluntness.

Since I prefer to adopt something approximating a firm position in my arguments (and I prefer the rapier to the club) this tells me I need to take a brief break. Those expecting answers clarifications in the comment boxes below, or in other comment boxes, or refinements of recent posts, will go a-begging. I need my sleep.

More tomorrow or Friday. Or Saturday.

In the meantime, there's my parsing of the Freep non-story below.

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Large-Circulation Propaganda About the "Diversity" of the "Peace" Movement.

The reliably amusing Detroit Free Press (comfortable home to leftist mau-mau artists like Brian Dickerson) published a front page article celebrating the broad spectrum of support for the "peace" movement in Metro Detroit. Well, it's not titled a celebration, but from the looks of it, someone called a buddy at the Free Press and asked for a puff piece. He got it. For some reason, the Freep (as it is popularly known) is the largest circulation newspaper in Michigan.

Must be the sports section.

You can trust the article, too, because it relies uncritically on the unverified reports of artists, students and--especially--peace activists from the tonier suburbs of Metropolitan Detroit. A bigger load of no-news, press-release propaganda has not been seen in some time. Here's excerpts from the Free Press story, with editorial annotations:

The ranks of antiwar activists are growing to include grandparents, religious leaders, labor activists, artists, teachers, veterans and others whose presence hasn't typically been associated with peacenik priorities.

An interesting and newsworthy premise, to be sure. The slight weakness found in the article is that it utterly fails to provide any examples of grandparents, religious leaders, labor activists, veterans who are not peace activists or others not typically "associated with peacenik priorities." Fortunately, this blemish didn't deter the intrepid Ms. Potts or the Freep editors. Plus, on the bright side, artists, teachers and--especially--peace activists are well-represented.

"People are coming from all over," said Amy Cairns, 30, chief coordinator for the Lansing-based Michigan Peace Team. "It's great because there's all this fresh energy and enthusiasm."

Our first peace activist! Uh, Ms. Potts: about that whole "hasn't typically been associated with peacenik priorities" part--probably shouldn't lead with a peacenik, then....And one from Michigan's political nerve center, to boot! Too bad Ms. Cairns doesn't offer any evidence in support of her claims for folks coming out from "all over." But surely, there will be some later in the article. Right?

Meanwhile, those affiliated with groups promoting peace say involvement has spiked, especially in recent weeks, and is coming from all layers of society.

"There's been a rather dramatic increase in concern being expressed by people and increasingly larger turnouts by people in protests," said Sylvan Lake resident Bill Carry of the Oakland County Peace and National Priorities Center. "They're people who have not typically been active in the peace movement, and there's a lot of ethnic and racial variety that you didn't see before."


Our second peace activist! Sensing a pattern here? And from the increasingly-pricey Oakland County neighborhood of Sylvan Lake, too--niiiice! The veterans and grandparents must be next.

Evidence for the "dramatic increase in concern" and "increasingly larger turnouts"? Not to put too fine a point on it, but: Bupkis. Unless you count the disinterested say-so of Mr. Carry. As I said: bupkis.

Artist Jean Wilson said she believes the popularity of her blue-and-white "No War" signs is evidence of "how deep and wide the peace movement is."

"This is not a class thing. It's not a race thing. . . . It's not even a left or right thing," said Wilson, 45.


Our first non-activist--and she's an artist! Who-hoo! The groundswell surgeth! Surely she has hard evidence beyond "the popularity of her blue-and-white 'No War' signs", right? [In the meantime, ponder what constitutes a "right-winger" in Artistville.]

Last fall, she said, she thought she was alone in her opposition when she took a sign for a window company off her lawn on Trumbull in Detroit and painted the antiwar message over it.

Suddenly, she said, "people would stop and thank us. They would walk by and yell and debate. It was kicked down and stolen. There was all this emotion and action because of this sign."

That's when she paid a local printer to make a couple hundred signs. Churches, schools, peace groups and individuals began inundating her with requests and donations for the signs, which have turned up from Toronto to Washington, D.C., Wilson said.

"It would be nice if the president couldn't look out his window without seeing one," she said, adding that more than 8,000 have been distributed.


Ah, Ms.Wilson lives in Corktown, a pleasant eclectic middle-class neighborhood in the vicinity of Tiger Stadium (please doff your caps when that grand ballpark is mentioned--thank you) that's become a magnet for the artsy in recent years. Contrary to the inaccurate (but popular) neverending-tracer-fire-lighting-up-the-night-sky reputation Detroit has acquired, there are plenty of decent neighborhoods in Detroit. Corktown is one of them. It isn't mansion-studded Palmer Woods, but it's nice just the same.

Moreover, she's passed out all of 8,000 signs. Continent-wide. Uh, if that's a groundswell, it doesn't even register on the Richter scale. Consider this: Liberal Mecca Ann Arbor has over 100,000 people. 8% of Ann Arbor--across North America--is a decidedly modest "achievement." In A2, the Trotskyists would fire whoever led them to such a disastrous showing.

Wayne State University English professor Mary Dorsey said she and her husband are displaying a "No War" sign in their Beverly Hills yard.

"It was an extraordinary step for us to take," said Dorsey, 57, who also attended an antiwar march in Birmingham on Saturday -- something she had not done since the Vietnam War.

"I'm like Jane Citizen and the people in this march were not wild-eyed radicals who like to get attention," she said of the Women In Black demonstration. "I had sort of lulled myself into thinking that other voices would do it for me. But people need to speak out and find their voice."


Let us pause to salute the inspiring courage of our first university professor. I mean, just last week, Catholic militiamen under the direct orders of Donald Rumsfeld ignited 30 uppity women opposed to the war in nearby Pleasant Ridge. I read about it in The Hallucinatory Sparticist. Extraordinary heroism, indeed.
BTW, Beverly Hills, while not as expensive as its California namesake, is still a nice Oakland County zipcode. I'm sure the sign provoked enormous consternation there--carefully disguised as gaping yawns. Actually owning a pickup truck would cause far more consternation in BH, but hey, nostalgia for Vietnam won't be denied. "I'm just like Jane Citizen..." Yep. Jane Citizen with tenure and a mortgage payment that could feed Basra for a day. "Just like Jane Citizen," except for that part about being completely different.

And if she doesn't regard the selective performance-art-response-to-aggressive-evil of "Women In Black" as wild-eyed radicalism, I'd hate to find out what she thinks fits the bill.

University of Michigan student Matt Hollerbach is part of the younger generation that has discovered the peace movement. His group, Anti-War Action, is trying to raise awareness and encourage activism around Ann Arbor.

Hollerbach, 20, who grew up in Grosse Pointe Farms, said he did not become socio-politically active until after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Now, however, he has a skill that's helping the peace movement gain momentum: Internet savvy. "The Internet is . . . going to mobilize people," he said.


Lord, where to begin? Our first student! And a U of M student, too! One who doesn't fling a sports object, or write for or read the Michigan Review. He could try harder to be a leftist, but that would require a tattoo on his forehead stating "I am a Leftist!"
"Did not become socio-politically [?] active until after" 9/11. When, evidently, he decided America's proper response to the jihadi and WMD-craving tyrants of the planet was to take it up the tailpipe. And he's supposed to be representative of which broad movement, exactly?

And he's from Grosse Pointe Farms--Joy! GPF's motto: "Where Coupon-Clipping Is Life!"
Er, actually, nothing screams "old money" in Michigan quite like the Pointes. Let's put it this way: Houses in the Pointes that cost $250K are in the process of being condemned.

Also, consider this admission: "'The Internet is . . . going to mobilize people,' he said." Uh, I thought they were being mobilized? "The ranks of the activists are growing," and all that. Let the choir say: "Consistency!" "Consistency!" Moving on:

"The Internet has just changed everything. You can get organized more quickly and it provides a means of protesting," said Laura Dewey of Grosse Pointe Woods, who was raised by peace-activist parents and has been involved with the cause ever since.

Dewey, a 41-year-old free-lance editor and mother of two, has been impressed that "this peace movement has started before the war officially started."

"We are being more proactive than reactive, and that's a good thing," she said.


Not a peace activist this time. Nope. She's a second-generation peace activist. Well, that's different. And note the diversity angle again: She's from Grosse Pointe Woods. A world alien to that of Grosse Pointe Farms: In the Woods, they prefer British sedans to the German coupes popular in the Farms. Worlds apart, indeed. Strangers to each other. But they put aside their differences and unite in the cause of trendy old money liberali--Peace!

Note that she's impressed with the fact that "this peace movement has started before the war officially started." Yes, unique indeed. So unlike the Gulf War. Or the Second World War. Or the First World War.

Isn't it at least perversely reassuring to know that the history programs in rich school districts are awful, too?

That could be attributed to a number of reasons, say activists, including lessons learned from Vietnam, a distrust of government and a general opposition to a war that may harm innocent civilians and U.S. troops.

What about historical illiteracy, moral relativism, Vietnam nostalgia, hatred for the "selected not elected" Bush Administration, a bored disregard for tyrannies that oppress people less white than themselves, amnesia about 9/11, reflexive leftism? Maybe that last one's redundant.

"I sense that while everybody wants to be patriotic and support our country, there's a great unease . . . about the prospects of this war and what it will bring," said Al Fishman, who has been a peace activist since serving in World War II. "But I do know from over 50 years of experience that protest has its impact. I am hopeful and we will continue to try."

One--two--three--four--four peace activists! Ah-ah-ah-ah! So he was some sort of veteran. But he's been an activist for at least twelve times as long. And the article ends here, so the tally for non-activist veterans, religious leaders, etc. is officially zilch.

I'd like to finish up with a thought experiment: Can you picture a story based upon this uncritical a regurgitation of the reports of pro-lifers? Or gun owners? Of course not.

A front page story, folks.

Really! Perhaps Howell Raines edits two papers.

And this story couldn't buy a line of ink in the Freep.

Just a point to ponder.

Saturday, February 08, 2003

Change for the sake of change.

A little more of our Catholic heritage was lost recently. Mark Sullivan reports about a magnificent choir evicted in the name of "full, active, conscious participation". You know, "FACP"--the dread phrase invoked to justify all sorts of cringe-inducing stupidity from chubby liturgical dancers in spandex to the use of "All I Ask Of You" as a communion hymn. No. Really.

On the surface, the dispute seems to have a lot of blame to go around, from an "inflexible" choir director to a "liturgical wreckovator" priest. It has sparked an equally split debate in the comments box. While I don't know if there's enough evidence to call him a "wreckovator," here's why those defending Fr. Mayo are wrong.

1. One. Mass. A. Week. Repeat that until it sinks in.

2. People defending Fr. Mayo have said, in effect, it's just two songs--at assembly and during the psalm. At best, that cuts both ways. In reality, it gives the lie to the notion that "FACP" is driving the dispute. Two songs hardly constitutes "FACP." At the OCP McMass, FACP is not achieved until the faithful have been made to drink repeatedly from the treacly firehose of Haugen, Hurd, Schutte and the SLJ. As an aside, given the inaudible nature of congregational singing, it appears that mumbling and mouthing is sufficiently FACP for the OCP crowd.

3. The choir's Mass was equally valid under the rubrics. Again, repeat until that sinks in. Apparently, even the fathers of Vatican II found the Gregorian chant an appropriate expression of FACP.

4. So, what's really going on here? The evidence indicates a power struggle between an established music ministry and a new priest intent on asserting control. After all, Fr. Mayo himself concedes that "I can participate in silence." And it seems clear that the Fr. was bent on shoving the choir aside. The evidence?

First, he was fully equipped with support from the Archbishop when confronting Applegate. No discussion, no debate. Certainly the congregation was never consulted (clericalism, anyone?). Second, months before, he prompted the choir to organize as a non-profit. All the better to ensure they'd head out?

Applegate seems inflexible, until you consider the facts. From the story, there's no hint that there were complaints about "FACP" at the one Mass a week the choir attended. It was strictly Fr. Mayo's decision to ensure "[o]ur endorphins get engaged." His standard would be the yardstick by which it would be determined whether FACP was achieved. First, there would be two songs. They could even be Latin. But what if FACP was not achieved? Let's discard the Adoremus hymnal, then, and go for GIA. If the mysterious FACP goal line was not reached with GIA, then go to the banal food court known as OCP. With an increasingly-withered role for the choir as a consequence. The subjective, pastor-centric nature of the standard made future changes all too likely.

I think Applegate saw the writing on the wall, and decided to get while the choir was still intact.

Now, its gone. Never mind the revitalization of the parish, the overflow Masses, the conversions, the astonishing respect from determinedly secular Oregon (evangelization, anyone). FACP must be served. And American Catholicism just got a little more "beige":

Rather, the issue is whether the church, in its haste to adjust to the postconciliar world, jettisoned much of what was distinctive and precious in the Catholic sacramental heritage. Consider four examples of the church's discarded heritage: plain song, statues, the rosary, and meatless Fridays.


* Gregorian chant: Plain song flourished for fifteen centuries. It has recently been celebrated in best-selling CDs. Yet liturgists have virtually banished it from Catholic worship on the ground that it has no place in the postconciliar liturgy. But to suggest that occasionally a congregation might sing the Kyrie, the Sanctus, and the Agnus Dei, perhaps in antiphonal mode with a skilled schola cantorum, does not imply membership in the Society of Pius X or rejection of the liturgical reforms of Vatican II. Rather, it is to advocate the recovery of a tradition of great beauty that has been part of the Catholic heritage for ages.


The name of this obvious hard-right commentator? Fr. Andrew Greeley.
Thanks!

To Bill Cork, for his kind reference to my article about Bishop Gumbleton. Although I find myself disagreeing with him on occasion, I never find myself saying "What is he thinking?"

Check out this good stuff by him on just-war doctrine and his report on a Peter Kreeft lecture about Tolkien. Lucky dog.

Thanks also to Lane Core for his reference to my Bible article. Do not miss his post about a classic Ronald Reagan speech discussing true peace, nor his taking note of the "Catholicity" of President Bush'sspeech about the loss of the Columbia.

Also, many thanks to Lane for his reference to Heather's comments about the war. She is most appreciative!

He's baaaaaack!

And that's good news:

Fr. Bryce Sibley is back on the air!

Translation: He's got a new bishop, as opposed to the, uh--fellow--who silenced him for being forthright.

Add to this the recent revival of Fr. Rob Johansen's blog, and St. Blog's priestly one-two punch has returned intact.

Nice to have good news for once.

Friday, February 07, 2003

Shari'ah 1, Dhimmis 0.

Or, The Church in the Middle East as Battered Wife.

All the patient dialogue. All the support for the Palestinian people, including support for a Palestinian homeland.

All the hand-holding.

And when Palestinian terrorists invaded one of our holiest places, used the clergy as human shields and trashed the place, the Vatican only got ticked at the Israelis. See the same article for how Christians are actually treated in PA territory.

A truly unparalleled example of accommodating patience in the face of provocation (but see Chamberlain, Neville).

After all this, how do the Palestinians show their gratitude? With the back of their collective hand. From The Michigan Catholic, January 31, 2003, p. 10:

Church examines draft declaring Islam religion of Palestine

ByJudith Sudilovsky
Of Catholic News Service

The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem is examining a clause in a draft Palestinian constitution that declares Islam the official religion of a future Palestinian state.
The Patriarchate established a committee of lawyers to see if the language of the clause could be changed to include the existence of other religions within the established state, said a source at the Latin Patriarchate.
Such wording could note that Islam is the religion of the majority of Palestinians while allowing room for recognition of other religions, the source said.
"If we can have this opening toward another religion, it will be another sign of democracy. Now we are stuck (in the discussion process) because of the situation we are under," he said.
Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah of Jerusalem and other heads of Christian churches were sent a draft of the proposed constitution by the Palestinian National Authority for review, the source said.
Fr. Shawki Baterian, Latin Patriarch chancellor, said the patriarchate would present a report to the Palestinian authority's central committee.
"We will...see if we can reach a compromise," he said [ellipse in original].

The Laity Committee in the holy Land, an ecumenical lay group committed to strengthening the voice of Palestinian Christians, also submitted to the Palestinian central committee a proposal requesting that a future Palestinian state have no declared official religion. The proposal was submitted a day before the central committee was to vote on the proposed constitution.
Yusef Daher, a spokesman for the laity committee, told Catholic News Service that travel restrictions imposed by Israel following a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv in early January prevented many of the Palestinian parliamentarians from attending the central committee meeting.
A meeting of the heads of Christian churches in the Holy Land--including Patriarch Sabbah--was also canceled due to the travel restrictions.
Daher said a main concern for Christians was whether a Palestinian state's rule of law would be based on Islamic law, or the Shariah, if Islam is established as the state religion.

---Remaining paragraph snipped------


Shari'ah a problem for Christians? Ya think?

Gosh, what a stunner. Given the choice between Hamas/Islamic Jihad and the Vatican, the PA chose the Shari'ah Groupies. And the Church is left thinking "he's still a good man, he doesn't mean it--he'll change." And note the subtle implication that Israel was partially at fault--the travel restrictions. Well, you know how Israel hungers for yet another militant Islamic neighbor.

All those who think that the Church will obtain some kind of compromise, please raise your hand.

[Sound of crickets chirping]

All of those still in favor of a Palestinian state under these circumstances, please raise your hand.

[CricketFest continues]

Once a dhimmi, always a dhimmi.

Thursday, February 06, 2003

Reluctant Hawks.

It seems to be the best description for most of the women I know.

My wife has become one of them.
"Going to war without the French is like going deerhunting without an accordion."

Read the rest of Ottawa Citizen columnist David Warren's column containing that brutal zinger here.

OK, here's a little more:

As wise old Alistair Cooke said on Britain's BBC, we're hearing an old song from the 1930s. "Most historical analogies are false because, however strikingly similar a new situation may be to an old one, there's usually one element that is different and it turns out to be the crucial one. It may well be so here. All I know is that all the voices of the thirties are echoing through 2003."

This is the fact. The appeasers of Saddam have used the same arguments and the same language as the appeasers of Hitler. They have relied on the same fundamental reasoning -- that there is no price too high, if we can win "peace in our time" -- and under the same inspiration, a pant-wetting fear. They want to believe, in the face of any evidence that is presented to them, that security can be obtained by some kind of negotiation. They chant all the old 'thirties mantras about "collective security", and invoke the United Nations as their grandfathers invoked the League of Nations.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Bible Corner.

I have enormous skepticism toward modern biblical criticism. Resting as it too often does on the shifting sands of "scholarly consensus," I think the only thing it effectively does is create doubt in the worth of the biblical text, and the sneaking (or not-so-sneaking) suspicion that the "sacred writers" are more properly to be regarded as pious frauds. Actually, my view of the matter, and many of the personalities involved, is much stronger than that, but I'm going to dial it down for the moment. For a fiercely critical overview of current Catholic biblical scholarship, I point you to this survey by Fr. Brian Harrison (disclaimer: I do not endorse everything at this website, or indeed at any website I happen to link to). I'm not quite persuaded by it, especially with respect to its assessment of the current state of Catholic biblical studies (there are more signs of hope), but it is thought-provoking. Lest you think Fr. Harrison is a troglodyte, let me assure you that there is no fiercer defender of the Second Vatican Council from a traditional perspective than he is. Moreover, his work is recommended by Dr. Scott Hahn's St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. If that means anything to you.

The Pontifical Biblical Commission fairly identified me (and others like me) in its thoughtful 1993 document, The Interpretation of the Bible In the Church:

But the fact is that at the very time when the most prevalent scientific method—the "historical-critical method"—is freely practiced in exegesis, including Catholic exegesis, it is itself brought into question. To some extent, this has come about in the scholarly world itself through the rise of alternative methods and approaches. But it has also arisen through the criticisms of many members of the faithful, who judge the method deficient from the point of view of faith.

* * *

The diversity of interpretations only serves to show, they say, that nothing is gained by submitting biblical texts to the demands of scientific method; on the contrary, they allege, much is lost thereby. They insist that the result of scientific exegesis is only to provoke perplexity and doubt upon numerous points which hitherto had been accepted without difficulty. They add that it impels some exegetes to adopt positions contrary to the faith of the church on matters of great importance such as the virginal conception of Jesus and his miracles, and even his resurrection and divinity.

Even when it does not end up in such negative positions, scientific exegesis, they claim, is notable for its sterility in what concerns progress in the Christian life. Instead of making for easier and more secure access to the living sources of God's word, it makes of the Bible a closed book. Interpretation may always have been something of a problem, but now it requires such technical refinements as to render it a domain reserved for a few specialists alone. To the latter some apply the phrase of the Gospel:

You have taken away the key of knowledge; you have not entered in yourselves and you have hindered those who sought to enter" (Lk. 11:52; cf. Mt. 23:13).


To use a technical Catholic term: Bingo. Then there's this damning indictment from maverick Catholic scholar Luke Timothy Johnson: "[T]ruth to tell, the contributions of critical biblical scholarship either to real history or to authentic theology have not up to now been particularly impressive and have certainly not had the character of transmitting faith to succeeding generations." (See Section VIII of the Dulles article)

So, of course, the Church naturally serves up the historical-critical method whole and undiluted in its official Bible for American Catholics, the NAB. It's the works: the footnotes, introductions and commentaries serve up the four-source theory of the Pentateuch, denial of supernatural prophecy, late dates for all of the Gospels (see denial of supernatural prophecy), denial of Pauline authorship of at least five epistles--its all there. Which explains why when I go to my bible bookshelf, the NAB remains safely undisturbed. The most consistent effects of the NAB are doubt and confusion.

In the same vein are the practitioners of the method in the Catholic Church. With a few exceptions, they seem more intent on scholarly plaudits than in contributing to the understanding of the laity. Compared to their evangelical counterparts, Catholic biblical scholars are, frankly, ivory tower snobs of the first order.

Compare and contrast:

N.T. Wright, the formidable Anglican evangelical and scholar, certainly publishes weighty and respected academic tomes on the "historical Jesus" issue. But he also publishes popular commentaries like this, this and this. In short, Dr. Wright stays in contact with the average believer, in tune with and in a very real sense accountable to them. Indeed, such seems to be the case throughout the evangelical world, where the biblical scholars endeavor to produce works accessible to and useable by average believers. The works of Wright (and others) bespeak a lively, robust faith intent on being an active member of the faith community.

Not so the case for Catholics.

Against Wright, I offer Fr. John Meier, another respected historical Jesus scholar of the Catholic persuasion with an equally weighty (but more expensive) work. "Popular" works by Meier? Zilch. Consequently, Meier doesn't risk exposure to Joe Grunt in the pews. Perhaps this is just as well, given that in the tome linked above, Fr. Meier patiently explains why the historical-critical method reveals that those who hold to the perpetual virginity of Mary, are, most probably, fideistic nimrods. Perhaps this explains why Fr. Meier does not engage with the laity: there's an understandable concern that the sensus fidei would be outraged.

Then there's Fr. Joseph Fitzmyer, S.J. Fr. Fitzmyer, a respected contributor of multiple weighty offerings to the Anchor Bible series, frets about the existence of "Catholic fundamentalists." Like Karl Keating. Please understand that, in the hermetically-sealed world of modern Catholic biblical scholarship, there is no worse epithet than "fundamentalist." Except, perhaps, "pre-critical." Indeed, the PBC document reserves its harshest criticism for "fundamentalism," comparatively sparing Marxists and feminists. Go figure. I could be wrong, but when I visit my local Catholic bookstores, the Bible shelves are not exactly awash with fundamentalism. Indeed, there is relative dearth of Catholic biblical material of any sort. Where it exists, it is of the type congenial to fans of modern criticism, such as the NAB or the Collegeville commentary. Rather surprisingly, the PBC document does not explore the connection between historical-critical exegesis and the growth of fundamentalism.

As best I am able to determine, a Catholic fundamentalist is someone who shows (1) "uncritical" reverence for Scripture, or (2) a modicum of skepticism for the historical-critical method, or (3) a modicum of respect for pre-1962 Catholic biblical scholarship. Or any combination thereof. Candidly, the discussion of "Catholic fundamentalism" seems to be more a parochial concern about turf directed against those who infringe on the prerogatives of the scholarly elite than it is about a serious threat to the Church.

For his part, too, Fr. Fitzmyer rarely condescends to deal with the laity.

Unlike, say, Karl Keating. Karl's audience is bigger, but Fr. Fitzmyer does not understand why. The fact Keating, unlike Fr. Fitzmyer and his colleagues, is offering something the faithful hunger for does not enter the picture. It's easier to simply shrug and call him a "fundamentalist."

In any event, compared to Wright and the evangelicals, the place of faith in the work of Catholic scholars such as Frs. Meier and Fitzmyer is much less clear. I'm not doubting their personal faith--just the impact. Instead, an arid objectivity dominates, leading to a disconnect between faith and scholarship that leads to the concerns outlined by the PBC document.

The sterility of this approach is seen in the response of critical scholarship to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. An epochal moment in the recent history of the Church, the Catechism filled a crying need:

The published text, in many languages, has been a remarkable commercial success. A document initially directed to bishops (paragraph 12), and only through them to religious educators and others, the Catechism has proved to be exceedingly popular with lay readers. More than a million copies were sold in France; more than two million have been sold within the first few months in the United States. Some people are speaking of the "phenomenon" of the Catechism: it evidently responds to a deep hunger in the people of God for the bread of solid doctrine.

Critical scholars chose instead to carp. The charge? The Catechism's use of the Bible is "not critical enough." The disconnect between the laity and Catholic scholars needs no better demonstration: the people cry for true faith, and degreed clerics natter about "Christologies from below."

Ultimately, the failure of critical scholarship is seen in its abandonment of the faith and the faithful in pursuit of an academic enterprise:

With the emergence of new historical disciplines in the eighteenth century and the application of these disciplines to the Scriptures, scholars began, unwittingly at first, to construct a new context to take the place of the Church. The aim was to break free of the patterns that had shaped Christian interpretation for centuries. The Bible came to be seen more and more as a book of the ancient world; hence its interpretation was primarily a historical enterprise.

The more the Bible was studied historically and philologically, the more it came to appear foreign to Christian faith and life. It was taken as axiomatic that the scholarly study of the Bible had to exclude references to Christian teaching. The notion that the Nicene Creed might play a role in understanding the biblical conception of God appeared ludicrous. As a consequence biblical scholarship acquired a life of its own as a historical enterprise independent of the Church (and of the Synagogue). Today its home is the university.

The other Bible, the Bible of the Church, however, lives, and, one might add, people live (and die) by it. Scholars will continue to write books about the original setting of Psalm 22 or Isaiah 53, but the Christian interpretation of these texts is fixed in the minds of the faithful and it is not going to go away. The Church's interpretation is embedded in the liturgy, in hymns, in the catechetical tradition, and-let us not forget-in the Bible itself. The Christian interpretation of Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 begins in the New Testament. If one has a quarrel with the Church's interpretation of the Bible the debate is not with Origen or St. Augustine or St. Bernard, it is with St. Paul and St. Matthew.


The PBC document was issued ten years ago. There's no sign the Catholic biblical establishment has gotten the message.