Some Of My Favorite Things

Thursday, July 02, 2015

SCOTUS Quotes Vatican II

Well, Clarence Thomas essentially did.

George Takei, the sodomite made famous by Star Trek, recently went on an ignorant rant against Clarence Thomas. Many Catholics took Takei's side, saying essentially "I think most Americans, including some on the right, were appalled at Thomas' claim that slaves did not have their dignity taken away. "

I distinctly remember reading that passage from Thomas' dissent, and I nearly gave him a standing ovation when I saw it. It is so rare to see Catholic doctrine so clearly enunciated, much less in a SCOTUS opinion. Justice Clarence Thomas virtually quoted Vatican II in that sentence:
"[W]hatever insults human dignity, such as… slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where men are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others of their like are infamies indeed. They poison human society, but they do more harm to those who practice them than those who suffer from the injury." (emphasis added) Gaudium et Spes (“The Church in the Modern World”), Vatican II, 1965 #27
Every Catholic should stand with Thomas and the Second Vatican Council in reiterating the point. No one can take away human dignity. Even my sins can only begin to chip at it. Part of our suffering in hell will derive precisely from the dignity of each individual human being, human beings made in the image and likeness of God, who suffer separation from the Godhead.

Clarence Thomas is brilliant, and he brilliantly summarized conciliar documents in that sentence.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Right To Rape

Now that SCOTUS has lifted the chains from the homosexual community and given them a rightful place of honor and love in society, we need to look at other marginalized groups. Consider rapists, for example.

Mary Koss’ much-discussed 1987 study of rape prevalence is famous mostly for its finding that 1 in 8 college women have been victims of rape at some point in their lives. What’s not as well known is that the same study also surveyed thousands of college men, asking them about if they had ever forced a woman to have sex against her will. About 4.5% reported that they had. That's over six million men.

And that's just MEN. Women commit rape all the time. For example, consider all the female teachers who rape their underage male students. And that's just a subset of female rapists - there are many others out there that go completely unreported.

That means there are at least twice as many rapists in the country as there are homosexuals - you are TWICE as likely to know a rapist as you are to know a homosexual.

If you take every doctor and nurse in the United States; and you added them to every librarian, every cashier, every cop, every postal clerk, and every bank teller in the whole country; you still wouldn’t have as many people as rapists in the United States.

Think of that a second – think of how often, in your daily life, you’ve seen cops and cashiers and all those other folks. Odds are, you’ve run into rapists more often than that. They are all around you. Fine, upstanding citizens whose only "crime" is that they just love differently than you.

But rapists are forced into a closet. Just because they love differently than others do, no one shows them any compassion. There are rapists out there right now who are productive members of society, raising wonderful children, participating in community events. You may be working right next to one and you don't even know it.

It's time to stop the hate.

So, here's a concrete way you can overcome your bigotry. Ask yourself some simple questions. Have you shown compassion towards rape? Have you shown rapists enough love so that they feel safe? Can rapists "come out" near you without feeling judged or attacked? Do you have a "safe" sign near your office, so rapists know that they can come into the safe space you provide when others say hurtful things about rape? Do you have a Rape Pride bumper sticker on your car?

Are we kind to the rapists in our life?
Do they feel safe around us?
If not, how can we change so that they do?

It's time to make the nation safe for rapists. They should have the right to marry whoever they want, have sex with whoever they want, express their love in the best way that they know. Let's stop all the useless prosecutions. All it does is drive rape underground, where rapists can't get the special medical care and social benefits that they need to maintain themselves from day to day.

As Fr. James Martin (SJ), editor of America Magazine, said, "God wants more. God wants us to love. And not a twisted, crabbed, narrow tolerance, which often comes in the guise of condemnations, instructions and admonitions that try to masquerade as love, but actual love. Love means: getting to know rapists, both men and women, spending time with them, listening to them, being challenged by them, hoping the best for them, and wanting them to be a part of your lives, every bit as much as straight friends are part of your lives. Love first. Everything else later. In fact, everything else is meaningless without love."

So, above all, let's stop the judgements.
Judgement is wrong.
Give rapists space, let them express themselves.
Love is the best answer.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Viper Moves to Tyler

So, I made the mistake of attending an FSSP Mass today.

Good news: one of the poisonous vipers who "pastor" that parish is being moved to Tyler. This is, of course, good news for Dallas, but it is the infliction of an absolute plague upon the poor diocese of Tyler, which has done nothing to deserve such abuse.

Bad News: Before the serpent announced his departure, he regaled us with a sermon which compared Pope Francis to an apostate Pope, Marcellinus.

Now, he took care to say that one should still follow the Pope, to point out (twice) that no one has the right to judge the Pope, but then he went on to criticize (i.e., judge) the Pope extensively, to the delight of the congregation. He even took pains to prophesy of coming terrors from the see of Rome. It was like sitting through a Baptist sermon, only without the comfort of knowing that it was just a Baptist sermon. A Freemason could not have done a better job of envenoming the congregation against the Pope. And, as the parochial pit viper poured out his pernicious poison, the pastor looked on with an indulgent smile.

But who could complain?
After all, what better day to attack the Holy Father than on Father's Day?

If this is the FSSP's charism, may this venomous order be soon suppressed and quickly, utterly forgotten.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Democrat-Inspired Mass Murder

Turns out Dylann Roof is a Democrat inspired by a Democrat-created hate group.

That's right, the Council of Conservative Citizens was created by Democrats.
Founded in 1985 by Gordon Baum, a worker's compensation attorney and longtime racist activist, the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) rose from the ashes of the Citizens Councils of America (CCA), commonly called "White Citizens Councils," a coalition of white-supremacist groups and individuals formed throughout the South to defend school segregation after the Supreme Court outlawed the policy in 1954 in Brown vs. Board of Education.... 
Once the segregation battle was lost, the air went out of the White Citizens Councils. The councils steadily lost members throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Sensing the need for a new direction, Baum, formerly the CCA's Midwest field director, called together a group of 30 white men, including former Georgia Gov. Lester Maddox and future Louisiana Congressman John Rarick, for a meeting in Atlanta in 1985. Together, they cooked up a successor organization: the Council of Conservative Citizens.

The Citizens Councils of America that opposed desegregation were founded by Democrats.

Gordon Baum was a Democrat.

Georgia Governor Lester Maddox was a Democrat.

Louisiana Congressman John Rarick was a Democrat.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Why Libertarians Should Oppose Billionaires

The Pope wants employers to provide jobs, not just automate processes with machines. Employers are already kicking against this goad, correctly pointing out that a job cannot be provided unless the company is making a profit. How do we square the circle, how do we resolve the problem the Pope describes?
128. We were created with a vocation to work. The goal should not be that technological progress increasingly replace human work, for this would be detrimental to humanity. Work is a necessity, part of the meaning of life on this earth, a path to growth, human development and personal fulfilment. Helping the poor financially must always be a provisional solution in the face of pressing needs. (emphasis added) The broader objective should always be to allow them a dignified life through work. Yet the orientation of the economy has favoured a kind of technological progress in which the costs of production are reduced by laying off workers and replacing them with machines. This is yet another way in which we can end up working against ourselves. The loss of jobs also has a negative impact on the economy “through the progressive erosion of social capital: the network of relationships of trust, dependability, and respect for rules, all of which are indispensable for any form of civil coexistence”.[104] In other words, “human costs always include economic costs, and economic dysfunctions always involve human costs”.[105] To stop investing in people, in order to gain greater short-term financial gain, is bad business for society.
First, we have to recognize that employers are correct. Jobs DO require profit.

But when 67 people own more wealth than 3.5 billion, don't you think there's just a bare possibility that at least those 67 people were not that interested in helping other people out by providing jobs? 


And, given how important work is to people, wouldn't it have been an act of generosity on their part to help other people out by giving them a chance to do something useful, instead of relying on government handouts?

Because here's the thing - the existence of billionaires requires the existence of the big government that economic conservatives always scream about. When the billionaires don't generously hand out jobs, the government has to generously hand out welfare checks. 

The government uses welfare payments in order to stop riots in the streets and the existence of a mob that would otherwise be bent on killing the people who are hoarding all the money. 

People need to eat.
People need self-respect.
Jobs provide both.

When the billionaires don't provide jobs, the government has to step in to at least provide food. Billionaires need big, well-armed government to keep the mobs off their backs. And those same billionaires have the top 50% of society pay the taxes necessary to build the big government that will protect the billionaires' hides.

That's the kind of social problem the Pope would like to avoid. 
He merely points out that it is in everyone's best interests to give the poor jobs, and suddenly he's anti-capitalist? Seriously? 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Laudate Si

The first several sections of Laudate Si open with indisputable truths - we are made from the elements of the earth, and, because we are sinners, we have not treated God's gift of the earth well.  Pope Francis' quote from Patriarch Bartholomew is important on a number of levels: one, it is unusual for a Pope to quote an Ecumenical Patriarch so prominently in an encyclical, second the quote chosen is one which emphasizes the supernatural character of man.
Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople has spoken in particular of the need for each of us to repent of the ways we have harmed the planet, for “inasmuch as we all generate small ecological damage”, we are called to acknowledge “our contribution, smaller or greater, to the disfigurement and destruction of creation”
As I've pointed out elsewhere, in order for man to be considered a creature who can disfigure or destroy creation, we must first acknowledge that man is not natural. He is supernatural. We don't refer to the lion-gnawed bones of a gazelle on the plains of the Serengeti as "trash" nor complain about the way bird nests foul the trees. Both are seen as part of nature. Similarly, we don't complain about the chemical pollutants and poisons produced by oak trees to kill nearby grass or of the poisons produced by fungi and bacteria. Those are understood to be natural.

If mankind were purely natural, we could not complain about the technology or chemical effluents he produced either. The very fact that we see man's products as being somehow "unnatural" indicates that we all actually consider mankind to be outside of nature - supernatural. What is touched by the hand of God is miraculous. What is produced by the hand of man, God's image, is considered by all men to be of a like nature - miraculous, a product of something greater than nature. To say that something is "artificial" is to say that it is created by "artifice" - by man's supernatural hand.


America is the subject of the Carly Simon song. We are so vain, we think everything is about us. It isn't. The encyclical is written to the world, not just to the United States. Industrialization and its negative effects are not an American problem. Indeed, one could make a strong argument that this entire encyclical is targeting Asia, specifically, communist China and its satellites.

Communist countries are renowned for the ecological disaster they wreak upon their environments. Precisely because communism is atheistic, it exploits and destroys the natural ecology of the areas it inhabits to a degree that is astounding to behold. Indeed, article 21 is virtually a laundry list of complaints about these industrial areas.
But our industrial system, at the end of its cycle of production and consumption, has not developed the capacity to absorb and reuse waste and by-products. We have not yet managed to adopt a circular model of production capable of preserving resources for present and future generations, while limiting as much as possible the use of non-renewable resources, moderating their consumption, maximizing their efficient use, reusing and recycling them.
Americans try to wring every last dollar out of a production cycle. As any businessman knows, it is more profitable to sell the "waste" products you don't know how to use to someone who does know how to use them than it is to throw them away. You can't use them, but someone else can, and they will pay. Precisely because the American economic system rewards the man who can make those kinds of connections, American production cycles tend to be much more "closed circle" than those of other countries. That's why our economy tends to be much more robust. Far from being a critique of America, this article can be seen as praise for American processes that don't conform to the negative stereotype.

It is important to realize that an encyclical may contain infallible teachings but not everything in an encyclical is an infallible pronouncement. Just as the Pope is the Pope, regardless of whether he travels to your house in the Popemobile or a VW Beetle, so an infallible truth is true regardless of what teaching instrument it arrives in. But, by the same token, the Popemobile is not the Pope, and an encyclical is not, by itself, necessarily correct in every aspect. This is the spirit with which we can approach statements about global warming.

Neither Scripture nor the ancient liturgies nor the Fathers and Doctors of the Church say anything about global warming. They DO speak of the requirement we have to respect the gifts of God. That we must do this is a point of Catholic doctrine. How best to do this is a prudential matter, not a subject of doctrine.

So, let us examine what the Pope has to say about global warming. As Mark Twain would say, in general, he's against it. The Pope mentions "carbon" in exactly six articles (#23-26, 140, 171) of the entire encyclical, an encyclical which spans 246 individual articles. That's less than 2% of what the encyclical has to say. Focusing on 2% while ignoring 98% of the encyclical hardly seems productive. But that is what everyone has been talking about.

No one mentions that the Pope praises the national park system. The first national park in the world was created by the United States. The Pope is implicitly praising the West as a whole and America in particular, but no one takes notice:
37. Some countries have made significant progress in establishing sanctuaries on land and in the oceans where any human intervention is prohibited which might modify their features or alter their original structures.
When considering the top ten largest national parks in the world, America, Britain and Australia comprise 60% of the list, each having two of the ten largest parks. Eight of the top ten largest preserve areas in the world were designated as such by western capitalist countries. Nine of the top ten countries with the largest national parks are predominantly Christian countries. This encyclical is most certainly not targeting the West or the profit motive per se (more on that later). Instead, as can be seen in the very next article, Pope Francis specifically chastises South America and Africa for not imitating the practices of North America and Europe.

The media spend a lot of time hyping the four "global warming" articles, but the papal references to digital pollution and modern media in article 47 have gone wholly unremarked. Similarly, the condemnation of the "tendentious attitudes" (article 49) of the green movement are ignored by the MSM:
49. ...This lack of physical contact and encounter, encouraged at times by the disintegration of our cities, can lead to a numbing of conscience and to tendentious analyses which neglect parts of reality. At times this attitude exists side by side with a “green” rhetoric. Today, however, we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.
Of course, that is precisely what the "green movement" does not do.  In almost every case, environmental activists are also population control advocates - they see the poor as part of the pollution problem. They would rather save a snail darter than a poor person.

The Pope chastises them in the very next paragraph:
50. Instead of resolving the problems of the poor and thinking of how the world can be different, some can only propose a reduction in the birth rate.
But notice that he does not ignore the problems caused by larger populations:
53. These situations have caused sister earth, along with all the abandoned of our world, to cry out, pleading that we take another course. Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years. 
In 1800, the world population was 1 billion. It is now 7 billion. Obviously, in order to sustain population growth, we do have to consider the problem of efficient resource utilization. Earlier generations could afford to ignore the environment in ways that we simply no longer can.
56. In the meantime, economic powers continue to justify the current global system where priority tends to be given to speculation and the pursuit of financial gain, which fail to take the context into account, let alone the effects on human dignity and the natural environment.
It is well-known that commodity speculation, in wheat, for example, has driven food prices higher than they would otherwise be. The Holy Father clearly takes issue with transnational corporations that engage in this kind of profit-seeking. But he is just as harsh towards first-world environmentalists:
60. Finally, we need to acknowledge that different approaches and lines of thought have emerged regarding this situation and its possible solutions. At one extreme, we find those who doggedly uphold the myth of progress and tell us that ecological problems will solve themselves simply with the application of new technology and without any need for ethical considerations or deep change. At the other extreme are those who view men and women and all their interventions as no more than a threat, jeopardizing the global ecosystem, and consequently the presence of human beings on the planet should be reduced and all forms of intervention prohibited. (emphasis added) Viable future scenarios will have to be generated between these extremes, since there is no one path to a solution. This makes a variety of proposals possible, all capable of entering into dialogue with a view to developing comprehensive solutions.
Indeed, the Holy Father does not like, at all, the atheistic environmentalist attitude towards the world. They either make the earth nothing more than a tool, or make a god, Gaia, of something that is not divine:
76 ...Nature is usually seen as a system which can be studied, understood and controlled, whereas creation can only be understood as a gift from the outstretched hand of the Father of all, and as a reality illuminated by the love which calls us together into universal communion.
78. At the same time, Judaeo-Christian thought demythologized nature. While continuing to admire its grandeur and immensity, it no longer saw nature as divine. In doing so, it emphasizes all the more our human responsibility for nature. 
The Holy Father does, however, point out an incontrovertible fact, a fact that sounds impious to the ears of those unfamiliar with Christian tradition and to those who, whether living in communism or capitalism, pursue material wealth as their god:
93. The Christian tradition has never recognized the right to private property as absolute or inviolable, and has stressed the social purpose of all forms of private property.
For those of you upset with this fact, read the writings of St. John Chrysostom and other Church Fathers. But this is not a diatribe against wealth. The Holy Father also acknowledges that this same private property and wealth has created a great deal of beauty:
103. [Technology] can also produce art and enable men and women immersed in the material world to “leap” into the world of beauty. Who can deny the beauty of an aircraft or a skyscraper? 
This leads to section II of the encyclical, an extended critique of both the good and bad aspects of technology in modern culture. While the opening section addresses something of a strawman (no one really believes the earth has "infinite resources"), the critique is quite profound, describing why and how "a constant flood of new products coexists with a tedious monotony." The problem? We are too self-centered: we put man at the center of everything instead of God.

Articles 117 and 155 are a formidable critique of the contraceptive body dysmorphia culture we celebrate and seek to impose on the Third World. But, at the same time he critiques the technology mindset, the Holy Father praises business and wealth-generation, along with scientists and technologists, even comparing them to artists:
129. ...Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving our world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the areas in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good.
131. If an artist cannot be stopped from using his or her creativity, neither should those who possess particular gifts for the advancement of science and technology be prevented from using their God-given talents for the service of others. We need constantly to rethink the goals, effects, overall context and ethical limits of this human activity, which is a form of power involving considerable risks. 
The Holy Father recognizes that the green movement is often just a stalking horse intended to destroy the poor. Nor is he a fan of carbon credits:
170. Some strategies for lowering pollutant gas emissions call for the internationalization of environmental costs, which would risk imposing on countries with fewer resources burdensome commitments to reducing emissions comparable to those of the more industrialized countries. Imposing such measures penalizes those countries most in need of development. A further injustice is perpetrated under the guise of protecting the environment. Here also, the poor end up paying the price.
171. The strategy of buying and selling “carbon credits” can lead to a new form of speculation which would not help reduce the emission of polluting gases worldwide.
In his praise for "small producers", he praises the businesses that make up the overwhelming majority of Western capitalism:
180. New forms of cooperation and community organization can be encouraged in order to defend the interests of small producers and preserve local ecosystems from destruction. Truly, much can be done!
He hands out a damning critique both of Obama's handling of the recent financial crisis:
189. Saving banks at any cost, making the public pay the price, foregoing a firm commitment to reviewing and reforming the entire system, only reaffirms the absolute power of a financial system, a power which has no future and will only give rise to new crises after a slow, costly and only apparent recovery. 
And of the power elite's general approach to problems:
196. The mindset which leaves no room for sincere concern for the environment is the same mindset which lacks concern for the inclusion of the most vulnerable members of society. For “the current model, with its emphasis on success and self-reliance, does not appear to favour an investment in efforts to help the slow, the weak or the less talented to find opportunities in life”
He recommends that we give thanks to God for what we have been given:
227. One expression of this attitude is when we stop and give thanks to God before and after meals. I ask all believers to return to this beautiful and meaningful custom. That moment of blessing, however brief, reminds us of our dependence on God for life; it strengthens our feeling of gratitude for the gifts of creation; it acknowledges those who by their labours provide us with these goods; and it reaffirms our solidarity with those in greatest need.
And partake in the Eucharist, the Self-Gift that should make us of the world that was made by and through Christ for us, His beloved creatures and His beloved brothers and sisters:
236. Joined to the incarnate Son, present in the Eucharist, the whole cosmos gives thanks to God. Indeed the Eucharist is itself an act of cosmic love: “Yes, cosmic! Because even when it is celebrated on the humble altar of a country church, the Eucharist is always in some way celebrated on the altar of the world”

Conclusion:
188. There are certain environmental issues where it is not easy to achieve a broad consensus. Here I would state once more that the Church does not presume to settle scientific questions or to replace politics. But I am concerned to encourage an honest and open debate so that particular interests or ideologies will not prejudice the common good.
The Holy Father explicitly says he does not intend to settle the global warming debate. So why write the encyclical? He wants to start a conversation with hard-core non-believers.

He has taken the current concerns of various neo-materialists (atheistic science) and neo-pagans ("green" environmental whackos), acknowledged that they have some legitimate concerns, and then placed those concerns within the larger context of a Christian solution.

In fact, the entire encyclical is nothing but a contemporary parallel to, commentary on, and re-proclamation of Paul's speech to the pagan Greeks in the Aeropagus, where the Men of Athens are precisely the atheistic materialists, both scientists and environmentalists, who each fail to see God behind the curtain of creation:
So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said "Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, 'To the unknown god.' What therefore you worship as unknown,this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth,does not live in temples made by man,[c] 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for
“‘In him we live and move and have our being’;[d]
as even some of your own poets have said,
“‘For we are indeed his offspring.’[e]
29 Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17)
Mankind is one. The men and women who worship at the altar of money, who treat the earth as a tool, who treat their fellow man, especially the poor, as a burden to be destroyed, they unquestionably act as badly as they do precisely because they worship false idols. Yet Pope Francis enters the arena with them and begins to discuss with them the unknown God they do recognize, through a glass, darkly - the beauty of creation, the joy of learning to teach it how to enrich our lives, the artistry in discovering its secrets.

God is Truth, Beauty and Goodness. Insofar as even the neo-pagans recognize this in the created universe, they begin a journey towards God. If we are to convert them, we should try to clear away the obstacles to their unbelief by responding to their concerns. This encyclical is a step along that path.

Friday, June 05, 2015

The Normal American

The American desire for the crippled body cannot be quenched.

The sterile female is the body ideal for America, the goal every American woman strives to llve, the goal every American male seeks out, the goal some American males even attempt to emulate. Bruce Jenner is America's poster child, taking the contraceptive mentality to its logical conclusion.

Sexual body dysmorphia is our religion, our life.

Men and women who embrace their own fertility, who produce families with many children, are viewed as (not so) slightly insane and almost uniformly attacked, while induced sterility, deliberate crippling of the human body, is celebrated as the body ideal to pursue.

It's an amazing statement about Americans.

What is body dysmorphia? It is the idea that one's own body is defective. People who suffer from this mental illness (like Bruce Jenner) try to change their body to match their illusion of what they SHOULD look like. 


People suffering from body dysmorphia use physical, chemical or surgical methods to transform a normal, healthy body part into the crippled body part that matches their self-image.

Every man or woman who advocates for, or uses, birth control suffers from body dysmorphia. Every such person wants to transform a normal, healthy body part into a crippled body part, either temporarily or permanently.

The desire for the crippled body, an artificially sterile body, is one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States today. It was the first socially acceptable version of body dysmorphia.

Bruce Jenner is as normal as any contracepting American.

Which is frightening, really.