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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Joy To the World

How many people have sung this song at Christmas Mass?
How many people have sung the third verse, ever?


Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.


Seems odd we would miss out on that one so consistently, doesn't it?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

America's Servants

Phyllis Schlafley is a woman to admire, except when she is crazy. This thought came to mind as I read her recent column on the injustice of allowing an increase in the number of H-1B visas, the visa which permits high-tech industry to import foreign tech workers at incredibly low wages.

Now, it is certainly the case that industry’s latest attempt to skim the cream of foreign workers from their homelands is unjust, but Schlafley’s reasons for opposing the attempt are nothing short of ludicrous.

She claims that such an expansion amounts to indentured servitude, wage slavery, which is “a form of servitude that offends the free enterprise that made the United States the economic world leader.”

Let us leave aside the argument about whether H-1B visas actually create such indentured servitude, and just look at the history.

The New Deal: FDR's Story

The United States was founded on the backs of slaves and indentured servants. By one estimate, three-fourths of the white population were indentured servants when they arrived in the New World. Indeed, many sailed without a contract – if they couldn’t find work, the ship’s captain could sell them to whomever he pleased. Similarly, from the 17th century through the 1808 federal ban, slaves were sold throughout every one of the original thirteen colonies.

But America did not rise to greatness on contractual and legal slavery alone. We also used drugs to enslave foreigners.

The successful circumnavigation of the globe in 1522 fundamentally changed commerce. By the late 1700's and early 1800’s, global trade had become a real possibility. As it turned out, China had much to sell the West, but the West produced virtually nothing China needed or wanted. As British and American citizens consumed tea in great quantity but failed to produce anything the Chinese wanted, the threatening imbalance of trade between East and West became acute.

Both British and American companies solved the problem by illegally importing opium into the Chinese mainland. Chinese officials had long outlawed the drug because they recognized it as a poison. By the late 1700's, however, Britain had control of India’s poppy fields and her navy made it possible to smuggle tons of the stuff across the Chinese border and into Chinese harbors. American businessmen, having no access to Indian poppies, dealt themselves into the illegal drug trade by encouraging Turkish farmers to plant poppies so they, too, could grab part of the drug business.

China responded by confiscating and destroying the huge opium stocks in British warehouses on Chinese soil. Britain went to war to recover the cost of the lost opium, not once, but twice (1839-1842 and 1856-1860). The resulting British victories not only opened Chinese ports to the Western importation of opium, it also gave American citizen Warren Delano, FDR’s grandfather, the enormous wealth which FDR would use to such excellent effect in his own presidential election campaigns. In short, it is not too incorrect to say that FDR's presidency was made possible in part via drugged Chinese slaves.

A Made Hand

Of course, the story doesn’t end there. Even as legal slavery was abolished in the United States, the practice of wage slavery in Northern industrial factories mushroomed. By the time of the Great Depression, it was not at all difficult to find entire towns dedicated to soaking the factory employee. The factory town, occupied solely by factory workers whose every payment found its way back into the factory owners' pocket, is well-known in song and story. The factory might pay their workers a wage, but that wage was quickly swallowed up by rent payments to the company for housing, by food costs in the company store, and by the various fees the company town charged its virtually captive inhabitants.

Ultimately, this need for factory labor, men and women who were unable to produce anything apart from the factory, and would therefore consume all that the factory produced, was the driving force behind the creation of the public school system. Like their late 19th-century forebears, today’s schools are designed and intended to create needy, semi-skilled consumers, not educated, confidant, self-reliant entrepreneurs.

In short, it is a myth that America was built on the back of independent or entrepreneurial individuals. In fact, it was built on the back of various forms of slave labor. That is how it started, that is how it grew to greatness, that is how it maintains its greatness today. We are an economic powerhouse precisely because we have created the perfect society of slaves – men and women who seek happiness by building walls of consumable goods around themselves.

If freedom is money or creature comforts, than America is a free country. If there is something more to freedom than just raw economics, than America is not free. But in either case, we cannot assert that America is built on anything other than slavery and indentured servitude, for that is her history.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

War By Proxy

A dozen Saudi nationals fly planes into American buildings and we invade Afghanistan.

Saudi Arabia pumps billions into madrass schools and we respond by invading Iraq.

The resurgence of Salafi Islam lies at the center of the problems we are having with Islam, but the center of Salafi Islam – Saudi Arabia – gets a pass in every aspect of foreign policy.

Why?

Everyone insists that we are in the midst of World War III, but if it is true then we should be paying attention to some of the problems we faced during and after World War II.

Recall that Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union started the deadliest war of the last century as allies. After Hitler outfoxed Stalin by invading first, the Soviets became our biggest ally and in more ways than one. It is rather interesting to read the editorials from the time – men who viciously attacked the USSR as an evil empire in 1940 were extolling the virtues of the Communist paradise by 1944. Of course, the euphoria didn’t last, as those same men were able to return to Soviet-bashing by 1950.

We spent the next forty years fighting a Cold War, a war by proxy, wherein the USSR – our former ally - would gain influence in a country and we would counter by attempting to gain influence in neighboring countries to contain the threat. At times, as with Vietnam, and to a lesser extent, Korea, the “containment” policy would flare into open armed conflict. However, most of the time, we were able to keep a lid on the number of body bags and broken buildings.

Our relationship with Saudi Arabia bears something of the same imprint that our relationship with the Soviet Union bore. The primary differences? Saudi Arabia has something we desperately want (oil, and lots of it), and it sits on top of the holiest sites of one of the largest religions in the world.

If it simply had something we desperately wanted and had not the holy sites, we would simply have destabilized and toppled the Saudi government. Even now, that wouldn’t be hard to do. Like Israel, Saudi Arabia exists primarily because it has been in Western interests to make sure they do not fall out of existence. The thought was that the Sauds would not bite the hands that kept them in power.

Unfortunately for us, the puppets have ideas of their own. When L. Ron Hubbard was asked how best to become wealthy, he replied, “Start a religion.” He promptly did – Dianetics, or Scientology is the result. Similarly, the Saudis have quietly created a plan whereby they become the dominant religion, and thereby the dominant force, in the world.

While we were combating the Soviets, the House of Saud quietly funded the spread of its own brand of militant Islam. This funding was enormously enhances as the post-1970s oil boom brought untold riches into the region. Even as our primary element disintegrated before us, our one of our primary allies in the Middle East became our enemy.

Unfortunately, we can’t afford to say it aloud because we can’t afford to lose the oil.

So, now the United States faces a much more delicate problem than it has ever faced. We have to fight the House of Saud in proxy states like Afghanistan and Iraq, we even have to maintain them in power, because we cannot afford to anger the 1.1 billion Muslims in the world by taking over the country or obliterating the holy sites which fuel Salafi Islam.

The real answer to the problem of Islam is to find moderate Muslims – if such creatures exist – who can simultaneously take the holy sites from the Salafis who currently control them and take down the House of Saud.

Finding moderates with revolutionary tendencies…. Hmmm…. That could take awhile.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Whitewash

Anyone who has ever walked down the long corridors of the Louvre or wandered through the intimate settings of the Musee d'Orsay has seen some of the finest artwork the world has ever produced.

Imagine every wall empty, every canvas burned.

Imagine the gold mosaics of the greatest cathedrals in Europe torn out and plastered over.

Think of the glorious frescoes in the Sistine Chapel covered with a fresh coat of whitewash.

See it happen in every major city of Europe - paintings destroyed, frescoes removed, mosaics smashed, statues crushed, stained glass shattered.

Make no mistake - these things will all be destroyed.
Intentionally.
Deliberately.

Just as surely as artillery shells destroyed the image of the largest standing Buddha in the world, so too will these artworks be demolished.

Europe is becoming Muslim.

Like the iconoclasts before them, orthodox Muslims do not permit images to be made of any living thing under heaven, lest it become a subject for idolatry.

Their idol is not an image.
It is smashed stone, burnt canvas and broken glass.

There is no act so evil it cannot serve someone's purpose.
There are some who see the rise of militant Islam as an opportunity.

If Islam can be portrayed as simply another expression of religious fervor, then perhaps all of mankind can be turned away from all religious fervor. For such people, the destruction of the beautiful things produced by two millennia of Christian faith serves a two-fold purpose.

First, it crushes the idea of religion as a positive force.

Second, it destroys the beautiful things that reminds the world of the God Who is Truth, Goodness and Beauty and of the religious faith that empowered us to create such true, good and beautiful things in His image.

Best of all, both goals are accomplished without supporters of secularism getting their hands dirty. They can quite correctly claim that they publicly opposed the destruction of the beautiful things, but the marauding religious nutcases could not be stopped. Wouldn't it be better if we rid the world of religion, and rule it without regard to fictional deities?

Many ask where the moderate Muslims are.
I ask a different question.

Among those who refuse to fight for the sake of Christ, are there any who will fight and die for the sake of Beauty?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Saving Christmas

Dear Colleagues,
Please use your resources to strongly encourage Americans to see “The Nativity Story” movie, which opens in theatres December 1. It is a powerfully sacred family movie about the birth of Jesus Christ. It is sure to become an American classic. Important Hollywood insiders including Writer/Director, Jonathan Flora and Movie Guide’s Ted Baehr, are promoting this movie. We all have a responsibility to do our part to help make this film a blockbuster.

Hey, here's a thought.
In addition to putting Christ back into Christmas,
how about we also put the MASS back into Christmas?
Let's see the Protestants put their money where their mouth is - all of them should go to Catholic Mass on Christmas.
After all, Christ's Mass - that's the reason for the season!
Yeah, I didn't think the non-Catholic Christians were really serious either...
Steve

Hi Steve,
Interesting idea and thank you for your comments.
Blessings,
Michael

Interesting idea and thanks for my comments?!?
Isn't that exactly the kind of response the Christians get upset with when they get it from Desperate Housewives or Walmart's Gay Initiative?
Explain to me exactly how your response differs from the non-committal nonsense Dr. Dobson refuses to put up with.

I don't believe that you and I have a disagreement.

Abortion is murder, the practice of homosexuality is an abomination, unions are using their powers to promote anti social cultural changes and the list goes on. I cover all of these issues and take the gloves off while doing it.My site clearly testifies to this.


I have many Catholic friends that I work with regularly but there are millions of non Catholic Christians that do go to church on Christmas and all the other days that their churchs are open. It isn't what we call ourselves, it is what we believe.

Dr. Dobson is one of the people I look up to and he takes on the issues. As you say he " refuses to put up with the non-committal nonsense.

So please don't let that brief response color your opinion of my positions. Simply take a look at the papers on our site and it will clearly testify that we are solidly committed, put the cause above ourselves and do what we can to fight the fight.


Blessings, Michael


Michael,
I believe we do have a disagreement.
Read the following two essays and maybe you'll see why I think you and the inestimable Dr. Dobson are hypocrites.
http://bridegroompress.com/catalog/article_info.php?articles_id=204
http://bridegroompress.com/catalog/article_info.php?articles_id=207

Yes, you may take Catholic positions on some moral issues, just like you use some parts of the Bible the Catholic Church wrote and preserved for you, but you have never celebrated Christmas if you have never participated in Christ's Mass.
That's the reason for the season.

You are exactly right - it isn't what we call ourselves, it's what we believe.
And Protestants refuse to believe that Jesus Christ makes Himself present at Christ's Mass. So you get in high dudgeon about the missing Christ, but you are pretty darned pleased that you aren't attending the missing Mass.

It never occurs to you that by missing Mass, you have already missed Christ, and thus aren't that much different from the pagans you declaim against.

Dr. Dobson is a coward on the issues.
Have you ever heard him talk about the problems contraception causes in marriages?
I haven't.

Have you ever heard him mention that every Christian who ever lived, including every Protestant reformer, uniformly denounced the use of contraception until 1930?
I haven't.

Have you ever heard him defend the practice of masturbation as an essentially harmless practice?
I have.

The man refuses to take on the root of the abortion/homosexuality problem.
Homosexuality is simply contracepted sex, rendered sterile by the partners' very beings, but not particularly different from the temporarily sterile sex that most Christian married couples engage in. Take a look at this: http://bridegroompress.com/catalog/article_info.php?articles_id=63

So, don't expect me to get upset with the pagans when they keep Christ out of Christmas.
The Protestants stripped Him out of Christmas quite a long time ago.

The atheists are just trying to match the rhetoric with the reality.
I can't very well find any fault with them for wanting to be honest.

Steve

Steve,

There are thousands who follow my site and Jim has millions who follow his work. In fact it was a Catholic leader and friend in Hollywood who asked me to post the Ted Baehr piece.I did, by the way, completely agree with Ted and his piece.

Just where do you get off calling Jim Dobson and myself hypocrites?

That is plainly ridiculous, false and a self-righteous assumption in your own mind.What is your agenda, what are your credentials and how do you have the right to be so judgemental of fellow Christians genuinely working so hard to change the direction our degrading culture is going?


While I appreciate the Catholic positions on the values issues I don't use the Catholic church or any other denomination as my guide, I use God's word laid out in the Bible.


We are all pitiful sinners who deserve the pits of hell and it is only because of Christ dying on the cross that we are redeemed.

Faith + nothing = salvation. Salvation isn't based on works and you receive grace by faith alone.

As the body of Christ we should not be attacking each other but working together for the good of God.


You are in my prayers. You need the prayer and I need the practice.

Blessings,
Michael

Michael,
To say that a Catholic leader asked you to post the piece is not really responsive to any of the
points I made. My point is that Protestants began the de-Christianization of Christmas, so you can hardly complain about it today.

As for where I get off calling you hypocrites, I thought I made that clear.
It is hypocritical to attack abortion and be silent on the thing that cause abortion: contraception.
It is hypocritical to attack pornography while being essentially silent on the thing that drives pornography: masturbation.

Jim Dobson is either ignorant as a stone, having completely failed to think through his position, or he is a hypocrite. Are we clear on the concept now?

As for my credentials: I am a Christian who is tired of Christian hypocrisy.
I didn't know we needed any more credentials than that.

And you aren't really working that hard to change the direction of the culture.
You are attacking fruits without attacking roots, so you will fail.

Your position is crap.
The problem is precisely that you DON'T use God's Word laid out in the Bible.
You just use the parts of the Bible you happen to agree with.

For instance, Matthew tells us that if two Christians have a disagreement, we should take it to the Church, which will settle the matter.
Now, you have just told me that you refuse to use any church as your guide - you don't listen to any church.
Thus, you have already dismissed out of hand the Biblical guidance on how to resolve disputes.

I thought you followed the Scriptures???
He was handed over for our transgressions and was raised for our justification.
His blood redeems us, but it is only at the resurrection that we were redeemed, justified.
Or don't you accept Romans 4:25?

You may have read the whole Bible, but you never understood it.
If I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.
If faith alone saved, then having all faith, so as to move mountains would give me salvation, right?
But it doesn't.
Your theology is as bankrupt as your efforts to have Christmas without Christ's Mass.

And, of course, since grace is necessary for salvation and "You are not saved by faith alone", then grace does not ordinarily come through faith alone.
Seems to me that is Scripture too, and the Word of God cannot be broken.

As the Body of Christ, we have a duty to correct one another's faults.

Your efforts to "save Christmas" cannot succeed because you aren't interested in saving Christmas.
You are interested in saving Christ without His Cross.
That's all the Mass is - the presentation of His Cross to each generation.

You can't have Christ without the Cross, so a pox on your attempt to "save Christmas", sir.
The very idea that Christmas can be "saved" by concentrating on a cross-less Christ is absurd.

Steve

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Elton John's Walmart

Christians can’t decide whether to love or hate Walmart this season. On the bright side, Walmart has decided to emphasize Christmas. “Happy Holidays” is out, “Merry Christmas” is in. In fact, the joy-filled “Merry Christmas” is so strenuously endorsed that our local Walmart had Christmas goods out on the shelves before the Halloween candies had been put on clearance.

If turning the whole of the fall season into an extended Advent season is good, then Walmart is clearly going above and beyond the call.

On the other hand, Walmart is also clearly courting the gay lifestyle. It has become a partner of the Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, thereby joining nearly every one of the Fortune 500.

So, support for a lifestyle that results in the early, painful, diseased death of the consumer is nearly unanimous. Like addiction to tobacco, addiction to the homosexual lifestyle creates a consumer, but what a consumer! Instead of spending money only on tobacco products, they spend money on any epicurean delight. Best of all, while tobacco users often had dependents, homosexuals don’t. They have at least as much disposable income as their heterosexual peers, but they have no one to spend it on but themselves.

This is important when combined with another piece of news: the number of married adults with children living in the same household now make up a minority of the households in the United States.

Businesses go where the money is. As the number of families with children drops, the marketing and culture devoted to families with children will also necessarily drop. It is not cost-effective.

Every market specialist knows that twenty percent of the customer base brings in eighty percent of the business. Indeed, businesses that succeed recognize that they cannot aim to please every customer, rather, they must primarily aim to please the biggest spenders in their stores. The infrequent or penurious customer is not worth the money it costs to retain him.

Just as large companies often spin off and sell subsidiaries that are not generating enough profit, so those same large companies will ignore a customer segment that does not generate enough profit.

Customers can boycott stores, but stores can - by the way they market - also boycott customers. For many companies, married heterosexual adults with children are beginning to be a market segment that is simply not worth the trouble.

Indeed, it is in the interest of most companies to see these same families break up. It is easier to sell Happy Meals to overworked, single parents who don’t have time to cook than it is to sell those same Happy Meals to a stable, married couple with children, especially if one is a stay-at-home parent.

Walmart makes less and less money each year from families precisely because there are fewer and fewer families. So, as Walmart tries to transition to the big spenders, it holds one foot in the doorway of its traditional base. It starts to groom homosexuals while it throws a bone to the families. This is Walmart's gift to us: Merry Christmas.

"From my point of view I would ban religion completely, even though there are some wonderful things about it. I love the idea of the teachings of Jesus Christ and the beautiful stories about it, which I loved in Sunday school and I collected all the little stickers and put them in my book. But the reality is that organised religion doesn't seem to work. It turns people into hateful lemmings and it's not really compassionate."

So says Elton John (whose statements above show he also keeps a foot in both doors, and in more ways than one), and who can argue? Compassion, as it is currently defined, means celebrating diversity while making sure all the diverse wallets empty into your own. Sure, the average homosexual may die an early, diseased, painful death, but he bought quite a few of the self-indulgent accoutrements for his death-style at our stores. There's compassion for you.

Walmart isn't the first to do this, it is among the last. It is caught between catering to a dying lifestyle (the family) and catering to the lifestyle of the dying (homosexuals). All the signs indicate the profit margin on the second is better, thus it would be immoral to harm shareholders by concentrating on the first. So, in true Calvinist Christian style, it pursues the largest profit margin as the most moral course. That's as close to Christian compassion as any corporation can expect to get.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Quarrying 300 Million Toasters

A century ago, it was not at all uncommon to have an entire extended family - one or two sets of grandparents, parents, at least a half-dozen children - all in one house. Families like that used to pose an enormous problem to modern economies.

Think about it. A dozen or two people living in one house find hand-me-downs virtuous, they only need one set of cook pots, they only have one toaster. Large households are not good for the economy because they consume fewer goods.

If there were some way to split those people up so they inhabit three, four, five or six households, then we can sell five or six toasters, five or six sets of cook pots, five or six sets of dishes or cars or houses. From a capitalist’s point of view, it would be best if every one of our 300 million Americans lived in a separate house since that would maximize both purchases and profit.

However, as one might expect, while there are enormous economic advantages to creating this level of social disintegration, there’s a downside as well. In order to break up the multi-generational family, sowing social dissension between the members of the family is absolutely critical. The most efficient way to set the various family members in opposition to one another is to encourage every kind of selfish behaviour. If each person thinks only of his own best interests, then each person will spend his income on himself, saving none of it for anyone else.

Unfortunately, this selfishness bleeds over into the workplace. A selfish worker is more likely to steal, to use up sick days and similar benefits at the highest possible rates, in short, s/he will have little loyalty to the company.

Part of the cost of doing business is precisely the controlled anarchy that tends to be engendered in the larger society as each person looks out primarily for number one. As experience shows, anarchy can be managed so as to produce significant profits for particular people.

But, to be fair, most businesses don’t do well in total anarchy. Rather, they do best at a level just below total anarchy, a situation in which everyone invests their money in goods and services that will protect them from the various kinds of physical, emotional, and social harm which the larger society so willingly inflicts on the weak.

Unmade in America
Since World War II, the United States has been the pre-eminent leader in creating an economy whose citizens tremble on that knife edge between maximum profit-generation and general anarchy.

We do this by placing enormous obstacles in the way of every personal relationship. Early daycare, year-round schooling and the perceived need for a two-income family effectively separates parents from their own children for as long as possible each day, guaranteeing that the family is essentially composed of strangers living at the same address. Better yet, the schools teach children how to be consumers: needy, unable to solve their own problems, always looking towards the external authority: peer pressure.

We encourage pornography and contraception, and thereby divorce, by transforming every person into an object of use. Easy access to abortion and euthanasia encourage family members to destroy one another at the first sign of burden. Homosexuals become the icons for our generation because they (1) rise rapidly on the corporate ladder through assiduous attention to their own good and (2) spend all their money on their greatest love, themselves. Homosexuals are the darlings of the media because homosexuals have far more per capita disposable income than a married couple with five children.

But, even as the corporate world encourages homosexuality precisely because it is profligate, encourages contraception/abortion precisely because it is an abdication of responsibility and encourages euthanasia precisely because it does cut costs, Christian faith attempts to undercut these movements. America’s economy works well because it has harnessed two opposing forces: integration and disintegration, and kept both from gaining majority control.

We Need a New Quarry
But there’s a problem in paradise. You can shear a sheep many times, but you can only skin him once. America’s famously strong Protestantism has slowly crumpled under the assault of secular capitalism. Even as America reaches 300 million people, a population growth accomplished only by renting the wombs of Hispanic immigrants, it is no longer a majority Christian population. It is estimated that only one in ten households are headed by a married, never-divorced couple with children.

In its endless quest for profits, too many sheep have been skinned. American corporations are running out of families to exploit. There are fewer and fewer families to break up, fewer and fewer children to dispossess.

But not to worry. We still have Mexico.

Hispanics are the ideal foil for the corporation. The Chinese may have more people, but their one-child policy and their non-Christian culture means they are already atomized. Communism has already set them against each other. There is no mother lode here.

Western corporations have been trying to break into the China market for hundreds of years. The only nation that ever succeeded to any great extent was the British, and that only by waging war on the coastal cities in order to force the Chinese into opium addiction. No, for all the talk of the China market, very little market is actually there.

Hispanics, on the other hand, are Christians who still tend towards multi-generational households, households whose piggy banks are growing through the money sent home by immigrant workers. The American economy needs Hispanics not just because they do jobs Americans will not, but also because their unbroken families are as untilled fields to us, their Catholicism is strong enough to maintain the necessary tension against anarchy. Like a new granite quarry, they can be tunneled into, mined, and blown apart. These are sheep we know how to shear.

Update:
2012 statistics confirm this.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

America's Dorian Gray

America’s Dorian Gray

Ever since 9/11, we have spent a lot of our time worrying about Islam and its suicide bombers, and rightly so. We find the idea of murder-suicide repulsive. The idea that the suicide might intentionally take more lives with him – it is usually a him, after all – is even more repulsive. Indeed, it is so repulsive we cannot tear our eyes from it. But it is interesting to examine exactly what repulses us.

Nearly 3000 people died on September 11, 2001 just as nearly 3000 had died on September 10, 2001 and 3000 would die on September 12, 2001. We took note of the event on the 11th, but ignored the events on the 10th and the 12th.

On the 11th, several really big buildings were destroyed by two dozen men who had agreed to kill Americans. On the 10th and the 12th, several dozen men also agreed to kill Americans but they chose to do it in the safety and comfort of abortion clinics across the country. Accomplishing the events of the 11th was seen as an act of a criminal mastermind, opposing the events of the 10th and 12th is also seen as the act of criminal masterminds.

To this day, I can’t shake the feeling that we mourn the loss of the 9/11 buildings more than we do the inhabitants. It has always been hard to take the mournful expressions of the bubble-headed bleached blonde seriously when we know that, even as they mourn, they are tracking audience numbers to see how to entice more of us to their news coverage and, more importantly, their commercial breaks. September 11 was a bad day for America, but at least ratings were up for CNN.

A similar lurking hypocrisy seems to simmer below the surface when it comes to suicide bombers. Islam manufactures suicide bombers, and we rightly castigate Islamic culture for it. But, in just the last week, we have seen the United States manufacture several suicide gunners. When confronted by them, we just shake our heads and click our tongues.

Islam we hold responsible.
Us? Well, we are too nice to be responsible for that kind of thing.

Are we? Think back over the last few years. The only difference between Muslims and Americans is the choice of weapons.

Muslims strap on explosives, enter cafes, banks, trains and buses and pull the trigger. We strap on hunting rifles, enter schools and pull the trigger. True, our way is not as efficient as theirs, but we seem to leave about the same number of bodies behind.

We can say, correctly, that Islam seems peculiarly susceptible to creating suicide bombers. But what of us? True, we don’t explicitly train Americans to be suicide gunners, but we seem to be doing an excellent job in implicitly training them. We don’t hold suicide gunners up as heroes, but they get the fame, nonetheless. Muslim suicides get houris in heaven. American news moguls get houris on earth. Everybody wins.

We seem to find religiously motivated murder-suicide to be somehow more frightening than the man driven to suicide-by-police. We ominously discuss Muslims, but every time another American straps on explosives or a rifle and enters a school (and notice it is always a school, never a shopping mall, a football stadium or movie theater), we chalk it off to bad luck, a lone lunatic, a freak occurrence. Why?

Muslims blow themselves up to kill the great Satan. We pull out rifles to kill the schools. Is it possible that, like Muslims, Americans also have a single, driving motive in our collective suicidal events? Is it possible that we, too, carry an inarticulate, uneducated, demonic hatred of the institutions that destroy us?

The Arabic word for “marriage” is the same as the word for “coition.” According to Islam, women exist to serve the sexual needs of the man. Oddly enough, this is precisely what American culture teaches American men. The whole point of America’s love affair with contraception and abortion is to assure men that they won’t have to worry about taking responsibility for the woman they impregnate. Our no-fault divorce exactly mimics Islamic divorce, in which the man simply announces to his wife that she is divorced, then shows her the door.

Islam is a misogynistic culture built around adulation of the Koran and hatred of intellectual inquiry. We are a misogynistic culture built around adulation of Hollywood and hatred of intellectual inquiry. They have suicide bombers. We have suicide gunners. Perhaps we hate the Muslims for the same reason Dorian Gray hated his picture.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Gasoline on the Islamic Fire

After Greg Borse of Chronwatch.com pointed me towards a fascinating interview with the Islamic expert, Bernard Lewis, I spent some time thinking about Lewis’ remarks. The conclusions I reached were not encouraging.

Lewis points out that the current suicide bombing frenzy is a new thing under the sun for Islam. For centuries, Muslims were taught that suicide was a most heinous sin, guaranteed to merit hell. It is only within this last century that the teaching changed to embrace suicide.

This new interpretation combined with another new interpretation to create the current havoc. According to Lewis, non-Muslims have traditionally been only lightly punished if they blasphemed Allah or Mohammed.

In times past, non-Muslims living under non-Muslim rule (such as Americans, the Dutch or the Pope), would not be held to standards of blasphemy appropriate only for Muslims. Even dhimmis, those non-Muslims who were permitted to live as second-class citizens under Muslim rule, were generally not threatened with serious injury or execution for such actions. It was understood that all of these people were pagans, and blasphemy is all anyone could expect from pagans.

But this has all changed. Within the last few years, Muslims have begun treating non-Muslims, even non-Muslims living in traditionally non-Muslim countries, to standards that used to apply only to followers of Islam. Worse, they have taken to punishing us pagans with a kind of violence that used to be entirely proscribed.

And herein lies the rub.

Pagans, Muslims and Christians
I have discussed in numerous other posts how the Judeo-Christian worldview differed radically from the pagan worldview.

Recall that pre-Christian pagans saw the universe as cyclic, with no beginning and no end. Everyone was on an eternal wheel. Most pagans accepted reincarnation, most accepted the idea that there was no point to deep investigation of any event, because every event merely repeated something that had already happened before and would eventually happen again. All of humanity was chained to an endless, meaningless circle with no real hope for escape, no hope that something new under the sun might ever occur.

Christianity changed all that. For Christians, the universe had a definite beginning (Creation) and a definite end (the coming of the Messiah and the Last Judgement). Everything was building, progressing, moving towards a very definite and clear-cut end. Mankind did not live in a circle, endlessly staring at its own tail, but in a story, in which the actors were expected to mature towards a definite goal.

But Christianity and paganism weren’t just two different ways to look at the physical world. The theology was fundamentally different. Pagans saw the gods as quirky, arbitrary. It was necessary to constantly please their vanities, to stay on their good sides lest the gods become angry with you and smite you down. Gods changed, and men had to be nimble enough to follow their caprices.

Christian philosophy, at least Christian philosophy up until the Reformation, took a radically different view. Christians saw God as unchanging Love. He was not vain, He did not anger, no man could get on His good side by being theologically or physically nimble. Rather, you either used the gifts He gave to become like Him, learning to love as He does, or you chose not to love. If you chose against love, then you would spend the rest of eternity without love.

Six hundred years after the first Christians began later, Islam combined Judeo-Christian monotheism with pagan ideas of the quirkiness of the gods and thereby changed a fundamental rule of theology.

According to Islam, God is one but God can change. He might decide tomorrow that idolatry is acceptable and incest is, indeed, best. Whereas Christian theology understands that God holds creation in existence from moment to moment out of sheer love, Islamic theology assumes God keeps existence going simply because He hasn’t gotten bored with it yet (although He might change His mind on that at any point).

So, whereas a Christian strives to imitate God’s love, a Muslim trains himself to blindly and willingly submit to whatever his capricious God may choose to do next.

Reformation theology, coming nearly a millennium after Mohammed made his mark, added a further twist to theological rules by retaining not only Hebrew monotheism and Catholic Trinity, but also the capricious aspects of Allah.

For the Reformationists and their theological descendants, God is love except when He isn’t. He changes at times. For instance, for non-Catholic Christians, God pours out divine wrath on Himself as He hangs on the Cross because man’s sin has alienated God the Father from God the Son. God gets angry at Himself, opposes Himself.

The Problem
And herein lies the problem. Capitalism, at least capitalism as the West currently promotes it, is primarily a Protestant phenomenon. At this stage of the game, the entire system is designed to create highly emotional consumers, men and women who do not think very clearly but who do feel very strongly. The reason is simple: it is easier to pry money out of the hands of highly emotional people than it is to get it away from essentially rational, stable individuals.

Now, as we have seen, most pagans were not enormously enamored of rational thought. For people ruled by a pantheon of capricious gods in a cyclical universe, rationality has not much use.

Similarly, while Muslims clearly don’t believe Allah is as capricious as, say, Zeus, he has his moments. He can and has cancelled some verses in the Quran and “sent better in its place.” He can change his mind. Allah is beyond rationality, not bound by it.

As for non-Catholic Christianity, Martin Luther essentially set the standard for their theology when he declared reason to be the whore of the devil.

So, as anyone who turns on a television can attest, capitalism is not great at promoting rationalism. It claims to operate according to rational principles, but it actually promotes raw emotion. To put it bluntly, the same kind of raw emotion that drives men and women into car dealerships also drives Moslem crowds into frenzies and suicide bombers into cafes. The only difference is the direction of the emotion.

Given Lewis’ comments on the radical changes in Muslim theology, changes that occurred as Western oil money flowed in during just the last few decades, a rather disturbing thought arises.

We invaded Iraq, we support Israel, because we want to bring Western-style capitalism and democracy to the Middle East. But, while it is possible that Islam can be reformed, it is likewise possible that capitalism, at least as currently practiced in the West, is actually antithetical to that most necessary reform.

The cultural system, particularly the educational system, by which capitalist societies produce emotionally immature, grasping consumers is also perfectly suited to create emotionally immature, violent Muslims – exactly the kind of Muslims we are seeing today. Capitalism is designed to create and appeal to pagans; like Protestantism, Islam possesses a partially paganized worldview.

Thus, it is possible that these Muslim crowds look like 1960’s student radicals because the Western occupation of the region after World War I allowed Western methods of education, i.e., training in consumer-oriented emotionalism, to be widely introduced throughout the Arabian territories. This possibility is especially intriguing given that the most violent Muslim demonstrations have taken place within the most highly educated Middle-Eastern population, by Western standards: the Palestinians.

As Protestant capitalism infiltrates Islam, as secular emotionalism stokes religious emotionalism, it may not break the back of the local religion, as it has in the West. Rather, it may act like gasoline on a fire, causing Islam to erupt into a flame that will destroy them both.

In short, Pope Benedict’s plea to marry faith and reason together, a plea directed towards both the West and Islam, is somewhat more urgent than anyone thought.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Evolution Solution

Christians believe God created the world through love, secular humanists believe random forces established life through violence.

Christians tell us that violence is the result of our sin, an illness no one was meant to suffer. Secular humanists tell us violence is the language and fabric of nature.

So, why do the champions of evolution in the classroom, the people who insist there is no God and that we are just highly-evolved animals, oppose violence?

How does that work? Doesn’t the whole point of evolution revolve around the idea that violence not only cannot be removed from the world, but that any attempt to remove it would destroy the very process that created the rich biodiversity we are all told we must preserve? If we believe in evolution, if we love what it has created, then why oppose the process through which it creates?

Let’s take a look at a specific case. I have already commented on the disappearance of the 1970’s “broody-hen” rhetoric. According to this line of thinking, anyone who opposed legal abortion viewed women as nothing more than egg-laying machines. According to this theory, pro-lifers who supposed to be opposed because they saw women as nothing but baby-making machines.

Oddly, now that embryonic stem cell research and surrogate motherhood has become all the rage, in other words, now that women really are treated like hens who are prized more for their eggs than their intellects, the “broody-hen” argument has disappeared. But that isn’t the only argument that is going by the wayside.

Remember when abortion was supposed to be a privacy issue, an issue between a woman and her doctor? When was the last time you heard that argument? It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? Why did it disappear?

That’s easy. It disappeared because pharmacists are doctors of medicine. When a woman goes to a pharmacist to fill a subscription for Plan B, RU-486, or any other abortifacient drug, she establishes a doctor-patient relationship with her pharmacist, a relationship that we were long told is very private, very holy. Government has no place regulating that relationship, except when the doctor decides that drug-induced abortion is not safe or appropriate treatment for his patient.

Today, if any doctor dares to make such a judgment, he is required by law to send his patient to a doctor who doesn’t care about the woman’s life or health, i.e., a doctor who will fill a prescription for a death-dealing drug. Apparently, government has no business regulating the doctor-patient relationship except when the doctor refuses to participate in baby-killling.

Given this reality, is it any wonder that Jill Stanek – the nurse who reported how live-birth aborted children were being left to die – has discovered that the Department of Justice refuses to prosecute hospitals, doctors or nurses that kill infants? In other words, we oppose violence, except when it is directed at innocents?

A burning political question must be answered. What do you do when you are ruled by homicidal megalomaniacs? We can’t vote them out. The leaders of both parties are certifiably insane, as is the media that spins the edicts they issue.

Much as I despise sharia law and hate the idea of being ruled by it, it is becoming barely possible that being a dhimmi would not be a step down. We would simply be trading one set of evil rulers for another. The imams’ particular predilictions for evil may be different, but the evil itself is the same. As one Muslim demonstrator told Pope Benedict XVI, “We will oppose your worship of life with our worship of death.” That kind of sentiment could make him an honorary secular American.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Benedictine Insults

The recent Muslim upset over Pope Benedict’s remarks is entirely justified. Not because Benedict mis-represented Islam, but because he is changing Islam, and the Muslims know it.

Prior to the death of John Paul II, I was often asked who the next Pope would be. I answered by pointing out how popes have, during the course of the 20th century at least, been chosen in order to deal with the problems of the day. As Nazism waxed and waned in 1920’s Germany, Pope Pius XI laid the foundation for the work of the Pope who was instrumental in breaking the back of Nazi Germany: Pius XII. Pius XI had made Eugenio Pacelli the papal nuncio to Germany. Pacelli knew the German people intimately, he understood the Nazi threat, and he was the principle author of the stinging anti-Nazi encyclical Mit Brennende Sorge. His election as Pius XII was the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany.

Similarly, when the threat posed by communism to Europe had reached its zenith, Karol Wojtyla knew how to handle it. A man who knew communism intimately because he had grown up under its dark shadow all of his life, Pope John Paul II was considered so dangerous that the KGB tried to assassinate him. To date, even the Muslims haven’t matched the communists on that point.

Now we have Benedict, the man whose stated mission is to rescue Europe from herself. Europe, indeed, the West as a whole, has long entertained the quixotic hope that reason alone is sufficient to answer all questions of human life and liberty. As I have noted elsewhere, the Western decision to sunder reason from faith is the secular answer to the Protestant Reformation’s attempt to separate faith and reason.

By beginning and ending his Regensburg meditation on the futility of the West’s philosophy with references to Islam, Benedict subtly points out that Islam is a non-Christian version of the Reformation ideal. Like Martin Luther, Mohammed effectively separated faith from reason. Indeed, Islamic theology is avowedly non-rational, insisting that God Himself is not bound by the dictates of reason.

Like the non-Catholic Christian god, who assaults and kills his own son for the sake of humanity, the god of Islam can fool himself, change his mind, be other than what he has been. The primary difference between Luther’s non-rationality and Mohammed’s non-rationality lies only in the moderating force of Jesus’ lived example. Luther had at least that much, Mohammed did not.

Thus, Islam lives out an Old Testament style of violence. Prior to the advent of Christianity, about 10% of the Roman Empire was Hebrew. Like today’s Muslims, the Hebrews were known to get militantly defensive about their faith. At least a dozen different rebel bandits occupied Rome’s army in Judea between the time of Herod in 37 BC and the first revolt in 66 AD. The war ended only with the destruction of the Temple, but the violence would not stop there – the Bar Kochba rebellion would require a second Roman response, a response that decimated the land.

Up until that time, Hebrew law looked remarkably like the sharia law Muslims would develop a millennium later. Both required death for apostates from their monotheistic faith, both killed fornicators and adulterers, both permitted polygamy. The primary difference lay in the understanding of God’s rationality. Jews understood that God is rational, that rationality is part of the divine nature and that God does not change. Islam does not understand or accept this.

When the Jewish faith found itself subject to Christian Faith, it gradually saw the logic of the Christian worldview, at least in regards to law and its application. Two millennium of Christian-Jewish interaction led to a serious moderation of the Deuteronomic code. Today's Jews, even the most orthodox Jews, no longer stone adulterers and fornicators, individual Jewish believers are no longer under obligation to kill the idolater in their midst and polygamy, while still permitted from a theological perspective, is under the ban for reasons of prudence.

The question Benedict implicitly raises in his Regensburg speech is quite simple: even if we beat the Muslims, invade Iraq, Iran or any other Islamic nation-state that we can, what good will it do? Will that make Islam theologically capable of accommodating itself to the Catholic - not just the Christian, but the Catholic - worldview?

The current philosophy of the West, a philosophy that separates faith and reason, is bankrupt. Its companion in crime, Reformation theology, is bankrupt as well. Islam, at least Islam lived as Mohammed lived it, is an empty cup. Jewish philosophy and theology, Hinduism, Buddhism – none of them are capable of reforming either Islam or the West.

So, Benedict lays down a question that, when properly understood, insults everyone if only because reality is so rakishly cruel to our lives of illusion. The major difference between Islam and the West is this: Islam understands what Benedict said. The West does not.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Order of Catholic Parents

I recently received a critique of Designed to Fail: Catholic Education in America, from a Cistercian who teaches at a Catholic high school run by his religious community. Actually, I didn't receive the critique directly, rather, I received it second-hand from someone who had given a copy to the monk. The response to the book was quite remarkable.

The Cistercian Critique:
I did get to look at Designed to Fail for a little bit last night before bed. I liked a lot of the points and the style was lively and engaging. I think he's right about the neglected importance of adult catechesis and the importance of its "trickle-down" effects in the family, and I also feel deeply that he is correct that the "ecclesia domestica" cannot rebuilt so long as anti-child sins are not preached against -- or as long as integral family values are not preached for, more importantly -- in the Church. It's also true that parochial schools often trade-off with the resources that could be spent on adult faith-formation (although I suspect that's not the real reason why contemporary adult catechesis is so weak .).

[Editor's Note: I didn't formally respond to this paragraph in my reply below, but I found it interesting that he essentially denies Catholic schools are causing any problems in the Catholic community.]

Still, alongside the basic distaste for the importance of professional assistance/ guidance that Catholic schools can provide, I ultimately take exception to the apparent assumptions that all real Catholic parents can and should homeschool, and that all good lay Catholics should be attending didactic faith-formation classes at their parish. Maybe I'm misreading the tone, but if that's the big idea, I'm not sure I can buy into it.

As you would expect, I also don't really appreciate the implication that teaching children in schools is a misguided ministry. Although I am confident Steve would say different things about Cistercian than about most Catholic schools, the ideas that most families are equipped to homeschool, that well-raised Catholic children can reliably remain Catholic in (note I didn't say "endure") the current public school system, and that the "ex opere operato" grace of matrimony makes most parents sufficient (note I didn't say "basic" or "fundamental") catechists of their children -- these ideas I think are dicey.

The "subsidium" provided by priests, religious, and the greater lay community must be very substantial indeed in many or most cases. Professional theologians and catechists are often needed, as are professional Christian educators in secular subjects, if our children are to really go beyond the anti-modernist ghetto and become robust lay disciples in service of Church and society.

I also wonder if the idea of abruptly switching parish efforts from child-formation to adult-formation would result in grave frictions; for example, the teacher-mothers who are so comptently (or at least potentially competently, given adquate guidance themselves) able to nurture and catechize children would have to be replaced by an entire class of professional and full-time catechists (mostly male, I intuit) who would have to be the primary income-earners of households, thus inevitably promoting a dangerous kind of careerism and cutthroatness around things most sacred.

These are just my brainstorms on the topic; whether they really apply to Steve's view or not, I can't yet tell. It has certainly been a stimulating and thought-provoking book, and I look forward to delving into it again another time. My impression is that, for all of the distaste I have for bombastic Catholic lit that identifies the one "real problem" in the Church today, this book has some very important, provocative, and worthwile insights.

* On further reflection, I thought it might not hurt to explicitly mention that my concern about a full-on class of professional lay catechists has no relevance to the kind of work for parishes that people like you and Steve do now. You are of course welcome to share my thoughts with Steve; I hope he finds them helpful. (You can also paste in the second paragraph above, *if* you wish.) Like I said, I think he's on to something important, and if you think that could help him refine it, so much the better. And also I again emphasize that I didn't catch the whole context, and it's clear that he's done some important factual research. As far as further interaction about my comments, I'm open to that if he wants, because it is a topic of import to me, but maybe we can just leave that as an open question based on his wishes and my energy level! In Christ, Brother XXX

[Editor's Note: I did not respond to this paragraph in my reply either, but it is also interesting.
He is fine with having Directors of Religious Education or Adult Formation at the parish level, yet how is this not a "full-on class of professional lay catechists"? Why would his remarks NOT be relevant to work in parishes? Are parish workers immune from careerism or the need to be paid a living wage? These remarks are quite curious. In any case, my response is below.]

My Response
Thanks for sending me the interesting critique. I've noticed that the book seems to be a Rohrschach test in which different people "see" different sections of the text and fail to see other sections. As a result, it has been quite interesting to read reviews.

In the book, I explicitly point out that: 1) homeschooling is not for everyone and 2) the sacrament of matrimony does not provide the graces necessary to homeschool in every subject (rather, it provides only the graces necessary to do sacramental prep).

It seems to me quite obvious that having the grace (the power) to do a task is not identical to having the knowledge necessary to do the task. I don't have a copy of the book at my elbow, but if I recall correctly, I do have a section on the difference between grace and knowledge in the book itself. I know I certainly emphasize this every time I teach adults about sacraments.
Indeed, I believe I quote at least one papal document concerning the fact that the family is incomplete in itself in order to demonstrate to the more rabid members of the homeschool crowd that Rome does not believe homeschooling in all subjects is the answer.

Likewise, the Magisterium is quite clear on the importance of Catholic schools - my point is that very few of the parochial schools, high schools or "Catholic" higher education in the United States today actually conform to Rome's description of what constitutes a Catholic school.

In short, I agree that Catholic schools are necessary, I simply don't believe we have any (or at least, not many) in the United States.

Furthermore, I never say well-raised Catholic children can reliably remain Catholic in public schools, instead, I point out that there is little functional difference between the current Catholic school system and the public school system - rather a different emphasis. Again, if I recall correctly, I point out that public schools will crucify well-catechized Catholics. It is well-known that not every Catholic responds well to the opportunity for martyrdom.

The idea that all good lay adult Catholics should be attending didactic faith-formation classes at their parish is described in at least one Magisterial document and in the proceedings of the Council of Trent. One might argue that today's cultural circumstances call for different measures, but it's hard to see what else they would be. Thus, it is not clear why this idea is "dicey."

As for the transition to primary focus on adult formation causing grave frictions, it is not clear why that would be the case. Certainly the transition to a six-month preparation requirement in all dioceses for marriage prep went fairly smoothly, and it is not clear why this kind of transition need be any more stressful than that transition was.

Precisely because adults, especially parents, are more responsible individuals than are children, the actual investment in training personnel would be less, not more, than is currently required. As I point out in the book, if we rely on the well-catechized parents in the parish (i.e., the homeschooling parents) we have already gone a long way towards providing the necessary catechists. Even professional speakers in a year-long series would cost less than the grade school teachers.

Finally, if avoiding "careerism" and the need to pay a living wage to teachers are the objections to teaching adults (lest these attitudes grow up around things most sacred), then could not these charges be laid equally well at the door of every Catholic school in the country? Indeed, do I not lay these very charges at the door of every Catholic school? Is it not the case that the Catholic schools currently suffer from exactly the problem of careerism and the need to pay a living wage to people incapable of guarding things most sacred?

Put another way, do even the Cistercians refuse all moneys paid to the school, instead teaching without any recompense at all for their time? To the extent that any Cistercian accepts any recompense at all for his teaching, is this money, food or lodging not part of the "living wage" that comprises his ability to live in community? Is there no "careerism" among any in the community? Perhaps I am a cynic, but I do not believe religious vows strip away concupiscence, so I would find any answers in the negative in these areas rather hard to credit.

And why should the Church find the payment of "the living wage" a problem? Certainly Brother XXXX is not advocating the completely unworkable solution of staffing all Catholic schools with religious orders? The problems with doing this are laid out rather clearly in the book - it is a solution that has been tried and has been found wanting, at least in the United States.

So, while I appreciate the kind words he has to say about the importance of adult formation, I find his objections either seem to ignore passages in the work itself or seem to ignore the conditions in the Catholic schools.

The problem here revolves around enabling Catholic parents to do what they are ordained to do. If we consider Catholic parenting to be the foundational religious order of the Catholic Church, then this is the one order which cannot be allowed to fail. The Church can and has survived without Jesuits, Franciscans, Dominicans, even without Cistercians, but She cannot survive, She has never lived life, without the order of Catholic parents.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Stop Oyster Abortions!

How many people know that Prozac is an abortifacient?

Yes, it seems oysters spontaneously abort when exposed to Prozac in streams and lakes. How would they be exposed?

Well, as I've pointed out in the past, people don't fully metabolize the drugs they take. The unmetabolized drugs used by your neighbors and friends pass out through their urine and enter the water supply.

In the United States, water treatment plants don't filter out pharmocalogically-active drugs like hormonal birth control pills or Prozac. So oysters will continue to suffer. To quote Yahoo News (which made this a headline news story):

"The study found that the drug causes female mussels to release their larvae before they're able to survive on their own.

'The results from this study were quite alarming. When larvae are released too early [i.e., aborted - editor's note], they are not viable, which only contributes to the problems faced by struggling populations of native freshwater mussels,' co-investigator Rebecca Heltsley of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology, Hollings Marine Laboratory in Charleston, N.C., said in a prepared statement."

Now, no one bothered to note that spontaneous abortion is a known side-effect of Prozac.
And few people realize that RU-486 also works as an anti-depressant. As Plan B, and other high-dose morning-after abortifacients become popular, this problem will just get worse, not better. But no one wants to talk about it.

In fact, it isn't possible to find a news story that indicates Prozac causes abortions in people. Its abortifacient ability apparently only becomes newsworthy when it affects oysters.

Similarly, no one talks about the effects of the birth control pill on the nation's water supply, except insofar as it harms fish.

And virtually no one discusses how the increased presence of all of these drugs in the first world water supplies might be linked to low fertility rates in first-world countries.

People used to eat oysters to increase their sexual prowess. Looks like that tradition will go by the wayside soon.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

It's Just Fiction

Bill Clinton is upset.
Madeline Albright is upset.
The Democrat party is upset.

How odd.


Sure, ABC has put together a 9/11 movie that portrays all three in a negative light, but that's not a big deal, right? After all, it's just fiction, it's just a movie, if it were written down, it would be just a novel.

I'll bet they will spend lots and lots of time to debunk a work of fiction.

How absolutely ridiculous.
Just ask Dan Brown and Random House.

Which raises a related question: why is Random House and James Frey, author of "A Million Little Pieces", giving back the proceeds on his sales?

Random House didn't offer to refund the money on Brown's work, even though the only difference between Brown and Frey is that Frey wrote a book claiming to be history which turned out to be partially fiction, while Brown wrote a book which was fiction, but claimed to accurately portray history.

Catholics and other Christians were very angry with Brown, but no harm, no foul.

On the other hand, Oprah got very angry at Frey.

It's comforting to know that Random House knows who they can safely cross and who they can't. This answers all those people who say publishing houses have no standards.

Friday, September 01, 2006

State of Emergency

Imagine living in an area your whole life, and your father before you, and his father before him, when you suddenly began to notice new people in your neighborhood. First just a few, but then it changes. More come in, most from another country. First one stranger, then several, then dozens, the friends and relatives from the old hometown arriving in an ever-increasing flood, buying the houses and land near yours and setting up housekeeping.

The governing authorities notices the influx of newcomers and takes steps to limit the inflow of people. They pass laws, step up border enforcement and try to keep the flow to a manageable level.

It doesn’t help. Due to the problems in their home countries, more and more of the foreigners come in every day. None share your religious faith, which is the religion of the region, many are lawbreakers, some are even terrorists. These newcomers begin to insist they want to set up their own state, a new state that governs itself and doesn’t recognize the lawful authority in the area. Eventually, they succeed.

Does this story sound familiar? Of course it does. It is the story of the formation of the state of Israel.

Due to anti-Semitism in Europe, a group of secular Jews in the late 1800’s became convinced that they should establish a Jewish homeland in the Palestine area, then a part of the Ottoman Empire. Following WW I, Britain gained control of Palestine. Even though Jewish land acquisitions were perfectly legal, British authorities recognized the influx of Jews created flashpoints with the native Ottoman Arab population. They attempted to limit immigration.

This was not only unsuccessful, it was radically unsuccessful. The growing anti-Semitism in Europe coupled with the restrictions on Jewish immigration to Palestine created Jewish terrorist cells, bent on overthrowing British rule at all costs. These Zionists were, in fact, allied with the Nazis prior to WW II, since Hitler had his own reasons for encouraging a weakening of British control in the region. Even during the war, Germany always encouraged its Jews to emigrate to Palestine and the flag of Israel was the only one permitted to fly on the same flagpole as the German Swastika.

Eventually, the combination of increasing population, unending violence and world shame over the Holocaust did the trick: Israel became a nation.

Now, of course, at this point some readers are feeling a little cheated. You may well be thinking, “You deliberately mis-led us by your opening. You wrote so as to make us think you were describing events in North America, but you pulled a fast one. That is grotesquely unfair.”

And you would be right. I was being unfair. I deliberately wrote the opening story in order to remind you that this is how the United States annexed Texas and California.

In the early 1800’s, the area that comprises Texas and California was ruled by Mexico. Protestant Americans rode across the borders and settled Mexican territories. Despite laws that required all immigrants into Mexico to convert to Catholic Faith, many of these settlers either did not do so, or did so in name only. Worse, many of the immigrants from the United States had criminal records. They were lawbreakers.

After colonizing the area, often illegally, these immigrants successfully fomented rebellion and formed their own state, the state of Texas. Unfortunately the boundaries of the state were never clearly defined. When Texas was absorbed by the United States, the boundary disputes continued. President Polk sent troops into the disputed area to establish a military outpost. While deliberately attempting to militarize an area that was not clearly controlled by the United States, American soldiers were fired upon by Mexican soldiers.

Polk insisted that “American blood has been spilled on American soil” and thus began what would become the Mexican-American War, in which Mexico lost over half its territory. This is the war Abraham Lincoln publicly railed against (he voted for supplies for the troops, but against the war). It is the war that Henry David Thoreau went to jail over. It is the war Ulysses S. Grant was ashamed to ever have participated in.

What’s that? I’ve switched subjects again? You thought I was talking about the waves of Mexican Catholics coming into the United States? Hmmm… I wonder why?
Most conservatives are (as I am) four-score behind Israel and against the Arabs, even though the Arabs made the same complaints seventy years ago about Ashkenazi Jews that many of those same American conservatives make now about Mexican Catholics. On the other hand, most liberals vigorously support both Hispanic immigrants and the Arabs against Israel, even though the Zionists were merely an early version of the radicals amongst the Hispanic population.

Of all the popular political voices on the spectrum, Pat Buchanan is alone in being logically consistent on these points: he opposes both Hispanic immigration and support to Israel. But that is the beginning and end of his consistency. After all, how can an orthodox Catholic be opposed to pro-life, anti-homosexual Catholics immigrating into Protestant America? Why preserve a culture of death?

In my last post, I pointed out quite a few logical inconsistencies. With this post, I have given you another set. Next week, I will discuss a set of facts that are clearly inconsistent, but whose solution I simply cannot fathom. I'm hoping you will be able to help me out.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Bait and Switch

"In lab rats, "Who's your daddy?" can now yield a surprising answer. Scientists have generated rats from mice that developed rat sperm.The breakthrough marks the first time researchers produced healthy offspring [Photo] from sperm cells fostered in a different species. The hope is this method could help generate sperm from endangered species or prize bulls."

So begins the article on Live Science. But, given how hard it is to get ova from women, my money is that science uses the new technique to generate an enormous number of human gametes without the need for donor permission. The beauty is, they can use aborted female babies to get the egg-producers, and thus won't technically need anyone's permission. They'll use the resulting embryos for stem cell research to prove technique, then throw everything and everyone away at the end so the gene pool isn't contaminated.

I give them no more than five years.

Friday, August 25, 2006

New TOB translation?

http://www.catholicprwire.com/headline.php?ID=2103

Could anyone tell me how these two sentences, drawn from the article above, go together?
Call me foolish, but I perceive some dissonance.

The new translation is the work of Dr. Michael M. Waldstein , Director of the International Theological Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family in Gaming, Austria.
Based on that conviction, Dr. Waldstein decided to delve into the John Paul II archives in Rome's Casa Polacca. Not knowing Polish, he took with him a Polish colleague, Fr. Wojtek Janusiewicz.


The translation may be marvelous, for all I know. I just can't figure out how someone who doesn't read Polish could have made a new, more accurate translation of a Polish document into English.

Are Women Actually Chickens? and Other Conundrums

Back in the 1970’s and early 80’s, one of the popular rallying cries of the pro-abortion movement was exactly the comparison made in the essay title: if America forced women to carry their own unborn children to term, then America was treating women like chickens, that is, we valued women only for their eggs and their ability to be broody hens.

By purest coincidence, the pro-aborts began to grow strangely silent on this point in 1978, the year the first test tube baby was born. At the very moment the scientific establishment began to treat women as egg-laying machines, it suddenly became acceptable to treat women as egg-layers and as broody hens (the professional term is “surrogate mothers”). Today, the chickens have come home to roost. Despite the enormous health risks involved in egg harvesting, IVF and stem cell researchers make no secret of their desire to pay women for their egg production, and the use of their wombs. And no one has used the “broody hen” argument in twenty years.

But pro-aborts are not the only ones who grow strangely silent at times. Many Christians are wroth because President George Bush sees no problem with legalizing Plan B for use without a prescription. As one NPR reporter noted today, Plan B kills embryos that are exactly as old as the embryos used in embryonic stem cell research, which George and the rest of Christianity opposes.

Christians are in high dudgeon: George is inconsistent! Well, yes, but no more than most other Christians.

Plan B, you see, is simply a high-dose version of the popular birth control pill. Every hormonal contraceptive is exactly as abortifacient as Plan B is because Plan B contains exactly the same set of drugs found in any other hormonal contraceptive. So, when we say Plan B causes chemical abortions - and it does - we should simultaneously acknowledge that all hormonal contraceptives cause abortions, because they do.

Christians, by and large, insist on the first point and refuse to acknowledge the second., even though contraceptives don’t just abort children, they abort marriages. Today’s Christians, upset at the power of the homosexual lobby, have begun to blame the acceptance of homosexual marriage on the pre-existing acceptance of no-fault divorce among the heterosexual Christians. However, they conspicuously fail to note that contraception drives no-fault divorce. The pill makes the occasional fling and the purposely child-less marriage possible. It helps each spouse treat the other as an object to be used, not a person to be cherished. Wherever legal contraception is introduced, divorce and abortion increase. But like broody pro-aborts, righteous Christians do not permit themselves to draw that conclusion.

After all, logical conclusions are painful, as the case of circumcision shows. The World Health Organization now has several studies demonstrating that circumcision greatly reduces the transmission of AIDS in Africa. Listening to a CDC researcher explain the findings to an incredulous reporter was like listening to Galileo explain heliocentrism to the university professors at Padua. First, the reporter questioned the veracity of the news. Upon being assured it was true, he responded by saying, “Well, then circumcision campaigns for children will begin?” The researcher replied in the negative - African men were flocking to clinics to have the surgery. The reporter’s perplexity was palpable. He couldn’t imagine why an adult male would seek to reduce risk of disease by reducing pleasure. It sounded too much like some kind of twisted abstinence program.

For this reporter, as for most everyone else, lack of imagination combines with a lack of logical thought lies at the root of the problem. The difficulty is most obvious in pedophilia. Now that sex is divorced from procreation, the whole idea that we need an adult ability to consent to sex really goes by the wayside. Why do we say that a child cannot consent to sex? Sex is just about pleasure, right? A child can consent to the pleasure of eating an ice cream cone. A child can consent to the pleasure of going on an amusement ride. The idea that sex requires special, adult ability to consent is predicated on the idea that sex entails or creates adult responsibility - but if there is no procreative aspect to sex, then what adult responsibility is there?

There is as much chance of catching disease from an amusement ride or prepared food as there is in having sex. Pregnancy is not even a possibility for prepubescent girls and boys. In this respect pedophilia is, like homosexuality, a wonderful form of pleasure-filled contraception. So why does someone who accepts contraception or homosexual marriage insist on the need for adult consent from children?

The separation of procreation and sex is the ultimate no-fault divorce, in which the parties separate but neither side wants custody of the children - morality, ethics, and values. As I have pointed out elsewhere, sex doesn’t just create children – it also creates parents. The same mentality that drives homosexuals to desire the honor of marriage without the reality that marriage is about conceiving children, drive others to desire the title of parent without the difficulty of having actual children. Thus, it is not hard to find those who insist pregnancy begins at implantation, while steadfastly refusing to acknowledge their redefinition of reality means sex doesn’t create children (only gestation does) and men are therefore no longer fathers (since they don’t gestate).

In every case, the parties described above are operating from a set of inconsistent premises, an incoherent world-view. They continue to rely on the moral suasion of superseded definitions, despite having discarded the very definitions that created the moral suasion. Christians and non-Christians alike thrash in thin air, suspended only by the noose of their own logic after they have kicked away the foundation upon which they used to stand.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Successes of Jihad

The convergence of terrorism and technology may lead to the collapse of air travel, and that will have interesting repurcussions for the global village concept.

Most airlines rely on business passengers for the bulk of their revenues. Business travellers are becoming increasingly unhappy with the difficulties involved in air travel. Given the ability to video conference, the cost of air travel may easily become prohibitive for them. Businessmen without laptops are like fish without water - they get eaten for lunch.

The jihadist goal is to disrupt the economies of their opponents, thereby putting their opposition on the same footing they themselves are on.

In WWI, the Germans attempted to economically disrupt England through U-boat combat, and they very nearly succeeded. True, the Germans often had to target "civilian" ships in order to sink the armaments those unarmed ships carried in their cargo holds, but these attacks on civilians were generally limited. Still, the U-boats sunk enough shipping to put all of England on starvation rations. If Kaiser Wilhelm had built 30 or 40 more subs before the beginning of combat operations, he would have won the war.

In WWII Allied Bomber Command tried to disrupt Germany and Japan from the air. Unfortunately, no one had very precise bombing techniques - analysis demonstrated that bombs fell an average of one mile from their intended industrial targets. But that wasn't a bad thing from the perspective of the airmen. They were killing the factory workers in the suburbs, which they argued would idle the factories nearly as effectively as blowing up the equipment.

Thus, by 1943, American bombers were deliberately targeting civilian populations, arguing that there is no such thing as a civilian when you are waging economic warfare. We burned out entire cities in Germany and Japan. Indeed, the atomic bomb was not desirable for its radiation effects - they took too long to kill the enemy - it was desirable for the marvelous firestorms it created, which rendered the need for precision obsolete.

In the event, the Allied bombing killed enormous numbers of civilians, but did little to affect production. German factories, for instance, steadily increased production in every year of the war, right up through 1945, despite the steadily increased bombing. But it did set a precedent.

Today, jihadists wishing to shut down the Euro-American economy have very wisely chosen to concentrate on air travel. True, a certain number of civilians are killed, but precedent has already established that civilians may be targeted in war as long as you can make the argument that the targeted civilians are part of the economy you intend to disrupt.

When the Allies bombed Dresden, Germany, they did not intend to create a firestorm in the heart of the city. That was just luck. But once the firestorm happened, the Allies were so pleased with the amount of death and destruction that they set out to deliberately replicate the effect elsewhere - work which eventually led to the atomic bomb.

Jihadists pursuing their quest to destroy America's economy may have lucked into a similar situation. They may have figured out how to destroy America's public image and self-image.

If they successfully drive the airlines out of business, or close to it, international travel will become a thing of the past, especially for the United States. Europeans, Asians and Africans will eventually come to believe that every American is a soldier, because they will never see any Americans except soldiers. Whether we are Sparta or not, we will be perceived to be Sparta - that perception is taking hold even as I type this.

From this perspective, the war is going very well for the jihadists. Like Islam, the American ideals will be associated with extreme levels of surveillance and violence as we attempt to make the world safe for those same ideals.

Islam is trying to re-make us in their image. It will be interesting to see if they succeed.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Reality Check

Since I moved to Dallas, I have had the occasion to listen to a much greater variety of radio on my morning drive to work. Among the host of new commentators available, one Mark Davis is clearly prominent. Though virtually unknown north of the Mason-Dixon line, Mr. Davis is a libertarian commentator who is rather popular in North Texas. His name enters the discussion because one of his positions is as common as it is absurd – the idea that human life does not begin until implantation.

According to Mr. Davis, the “implantation of the fertilized egg” (sic) is the beginning of human life, but not of the human person. Rather, implantation is when the “building blocks” first become available. A human person emerges only weeks later in the process. As a result, Mr. Davis is four-score in support of abortion “during a very narrow window” of pregnancy.

Mr. Davis’ position fails on a number of levels, and it is worthwhile to consider how complete a failure it is.

From a biological viewpoint, Mark Davis is simply out of step with the science.

First, as I’ve pointed out in detail elsewhere, it is never the case that a fertilized egg implants in the womb. Only embryos are capable of implanting in the womb.

Second, the redefinition of pregnancy occurred only after science discovered how to manipulate embryos in Petri dishes. Prior to developing that skill in the mid-1980's, science had always considered pregnancy to begin at conception. The definition of pregnancy changed not because the reality within a woman changed, but because the skill set of a scientist who happened to be standing near the woman changed.

Third, embryologists - the men and women who actually study embryos - universally reject the implantation definition. The only people who accept such an absurdity are people interested in taking a newly conceived, rapidly growing little one and tearing her to pieces.

But the biological arguments are boring. Let’s consider the other problems the implantation definition creates.

From a moral perspective, the statement that pregnancy begins at implantation and that personhood follows afterwards creates all kinds of moral problems.

For instance, if pregnancy begins at implantation, then it is not clear why the act of sex would create responsibility in any man having sex.

After all, while the woman has no control over whether or not she releases an egg, she does normally control who may release sperm within her. The man likewise controls in whom he releases his sperm.

So, if pregnancy begins at conception, then the act of sperm release creates responsibility. Since both persons are equally involved in when and where this release occurs, both bear equal responsibility in what happens as a result of that release. In this scenario, sex creates equal responsibilities towards the child in both partners.

But, if pregnancy begins at implantation, the scenario is different. The man cannot control when implantation occurs. The woman, however, through the use of various drugs and chemicals, can control when and whether implantation occurs. Thus, responsibility for the resulting pregnancy is no longer equal, rather, it resides entirely with the woman. Given this scenario, it is not clear that sex creates responsibility in the man at all.

If sex does not necessarily create duties in the man towards a future child, then redefining the biological reality necessarily obliterates fatherhood. Fathers conceive children. They bear responsibility towards children. According to the new definition, men do neither.

With the new definition, men can never be considered fathers. This definition insists that children are created by gestation, not by the act of having sex. Men do not gestate. In fact, they never do more than have sex. Thus, by this definition, men do not create children. Men are not fathers.

Indeed, one could make a strong argument that an IVF lab technician is much more of a biological parent than a man having sex can ever be. After all, the conception event can take place hours, even days after having sperm release. But if pregnancy is predicated not on sperm release, but on implantation, then the dynamic has changed.

An IVF lab technician is actually directly involved in the conception of the child – he or she actually combines the egg and sperm. That technician makes sure the fertilized egg grows into an embryo suitable for implantation. That technician might even place the embryo in the womb, ensuring implantation. The one who conceives a child and/or helps it grow is called a parent. It is difficult to see why the IVF technician is not a parent.

But the biology has been redefined. Today, sex doesn’t create children. Gestation does. Redefining the biology necessarily redefines the morality. Because the new definition focuses on implantation, not sperm release, the act of sex – the act which is intended to release sperm – becomes a peripheral act, both physically and morally.

Mark Davis doesn’t understand this. Unfortunately, he has a lot of company.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A Wimpy World War III

Everyone seems to think World War III has started. Newt Gingrich, President Bush, Sean Hannity – the opinions are coming fast and furious. Unfortunately, the assertion seems to be more bombast than substance. While the conflict against Wahabbi Islam and its variants span the globe, it is not at all clear that it approaches anything like a world war.

World Wars I and II saw the institution of the draft and/or the mobilization of millions of men in dozens of countries on several continents. The smallest battles in these wars injured or killed hundreds, the big battles saw tens of thousands of casualties. In both wars, huge sections of major cities were either seriously damaged or entirely destroyed.

In both wars, governments nearly succeeded in destroying entire populations: in World War I, the Turks committed genocide against the Armenians, in World War II, Germany committed genocide against gypsies, Jews and Catholics. Both wars resulted in the functional disappearance of empires (Austria-Hungarian and Britain’s empire, respectively).

In both world wars, the economies of the combatants were so fully engaged in producing war material and maintaining men in the field that strict rationing was enforced on the entire civilian population of virtually every participating country.

It is important to remember that the designation “world war” is a purely 20th-century phenomenon. The Napoleanic Wars, for instance, were certainly fought at various locations around the world (including the Pacific) and certainly involved the whole of Europe, the northern coasts of Africa, the Middle-East and Asia. Those wars mobilized millions of men and involved the destruction of significant urban areas Despite this, Napolean is not considered to have started a “world war.”

Similarly, we can point to various times in Britain’s history where she was simultaneously involved in several wars to maintain a world-wide empire (the American Revolution, for instance, was but one brush-fire in a much larger series of British conflicts), but she is not considered to have started a “world war” either.

So, does the current conflict rise to the level of “world war”? It’s hard to see how it would.

Certainly one can point to armed conflict in at least a dozen countries around the world, but that’s about the strongest argument that can be made. Muslims are not fully mobilized for war, nor is a significant percentage of Muslim men involved in armed conflict. Even the most successful Islamic assault, September 11th, had less than two dozen enemy combatants directly involved. Most of the incidents involve groups much smaller than one dozen.

The “battles”, if one wishes to call the various terrorist incidents by this name, are not particularly deadly. In most cases (September 11 being an unusual exception), casualties do not even reach a thousand injured, in fact, they generally don’t get much above one hundred or so. There is no war-time rationing. Indeed, quite the opposite is the case.

Apart from the two occasions where American forces actually invaded a country (Afghanistan and Iraq), there have been no serious pitched battles between combatants. Instead, the terrorists have inflicted a level of violence much more similar to that inflicted by mob-run gangs who fought each other and police during Prohibition.

Cities are not razed, most are left entirely untouched. Even September 11 involved the total destruction of less than a dozen buildings in New York City, an urban area that contains hundreds of thousands of commercial buildings. Most attacks consist of train bombings or individual suicide bombers, barely noticeable events on the military violence scale.

Islamic terrorists seem to be set up much more along the lines of organized criminal gangs than they are armies. Indeed, given the level of intra-Muslim violence, it is not unreasonable to draw comparisons between gang warfare and the current level of Islamic violence.

In short, if this is World War III, then world wars are definitely getting pretty wimpy.