Thursday, April 27, 2006
“My sister, Andrea Clark, is soon going to be REMOVED FROM LIFE SUPPORT At St. Luke’s Hospital in Houston, despite the fact that she is FULLY INSURED, despite the fact that her FAMILY UNANIMOUSLY AGREES SHE SHOULD BE KEPT ALIVE, despite the fact that she is NOT BRAIN DEAD, despite the fact that she WANTS TO CONTINUE TO RECEIVE MEDICAL CARE...she can still communicate--not even two weeks ago, she made the sentence, “I miss you,” when I was visiting her. She definitely can make her desires known and we intend to fight for her right to live and we need all the help we can get.”
A few weeks ago, I was giving two days of talks at a parish in the eastern part of the country, showing parishioners how to explain the Catholic Faith to people who don’t understand it. During the course of one of the question-and-answer sessions, I was asked what the religious future of America looks like. I am afraid the answer I gave did not please everyone in the audience.
I began by pointing out that Christian European flavors of religion would disappear. None of the men and women in the mainline Protestant churches are having enough children to sustain their faiths. They are contracepting and aborting themselves out of existence. The few children they have are apostasizing at a rapid rate.
This year, 2006, is projected to be a momentous year in America’s religious history. It is the year America stops being a majority-Protestant country. During the course of this year, all the Protestant faiths, taken together, will make up less than 50% of the American population.
The Catholic audience looked at each other with raised eyebrows and nodded.
American Catholic Christianity will fair only marginally better. Catholic Americans of European descent contracept and abort at the same rate as their Protestant brethren. They, too, are on their way out. Catholicism in America will remain stable at roughly one-quarter of the population, but it will be almost entirely Hispanic. Only immigrants are having children in sufficient numbers to maintain their presence over the long haul, and the Hispanic population is far and away the largest immigrant population.
The largely Anglo-Saxon Catholic audience shifted uncomfortably in their seats.
But contraception and abortion are only the beginning, I pointed out. “I fully expect to be euthanized,” I said, “and I expect most of the people in the room will be euthanized as well.”
The audience gasped.
I shrugged as I looked out over the audience. What I was saying wasn’t even a prediction, really, just a description of a reality no one wants to discuss.
Look at the facts. The baby boom generation is even now beginning to create an enormous burden on the economic system. The business of America is business. That burden will not be sustained.
It won’t matter if you have full coverage. You are cheaper dead - much cheaper dead - than you are alive. The stockholders of the major insurance companies, that is, your fellow citizens, want their profit margins.
After having squeezed you like a grape for most of your life, insurance companies will fully support the removal of your life support, your medical treatment, whatever it is that costs them money, regardless of your level of insurance. Once they are spending more than they made on you, you are a liability. Insurance companies must stay in business. They must get rid of their liabilities.
The rationale for killing inconvenient people has been accorded the full status of the law for nigh onto forty years. Inconvenient babies are redefined as non-human and killed. What makes you and me so special? It won’t matter that you are conscious, that you have fully paid premiums or that you don’t want to die. You aren’t going to be asked. This isn’t really even any of your business.
I have siblings who work in the medicine. They have been fighting the silent spread of euthanasia for years. Terri Schiavo was unusual only in the noise generated, not in the result obtained.
The “news” paragraph that begins this column is not news to anyone who has been following the medical profession for a few years.
St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in Houston has an ethics committee. That ethics committee is headed by an abortionist.
America, you aborted your children.
Now your children will abort you.
Monday, April 24, 2006
The USSR, requiem in pace, required internal passports. If you wished to travel from one city to another, one state to another, one region to another, your papers had to be in order. Capitalists long derided this backwards approach to the government-controlled economy.
The US has never had internal passports for cities, for states or for regions. It is unusual precisely in its freedom of movement. Indeed, the interstate commerce clause in the Constitution forbids any tax to be assessed on goods that move between states. This is rightly seen as a major factor in American economic success.
Similarly, while America has certainly had no small history of protectionism, American protectionism is not seen in a positive light. Most economists agree: anything that impedes trade is a problem.
America has long believed the world should be made safe for democracy. It has likewise long believed capitalism is the beating heart of the economic system. Thus, making the world safe for democracy means making the world safe for capitalism.
But here’s a puzzler: if the whole world were converted to democracy and capitalism, would anyone need a passport? If so, why? How is travel between London and New York different from travel between Los Angeles and New York or Honolulu and New York? Sure, there are different cultures in each city, but there were different cultures between Moscow and St. Petersburg, between St. Petersburg and Kiev. So what is the point of a passport?
A passport is a tariff. It restricts the free exchange of persons in much the same way that a tariff restricts the free exchange of goods. Just as immigration controls could be considered tariffs on human persons, tariffs might be considered a kind of immigration quota for inanimate objects.
When we view passports and immigration in this light, a lot of things become rather puzzling. For instance, while I am neither an ardent capitalist nor an advocate of world government, it’s hard to see why ardent capitalists would be opposed to world government.
If capitalists are interested in the free movement of resources for the purposes of strengthening economic ties, then what greater resource is there besides the human persons who create those resources to begin with? Goods create culture precisely because people create goods. Goods express human ideas and are as stabilizing or destabilizing as the people who created them. If one should be freely exchanged, why not the other?
As we have noted above, a tariff is merely a way to restrict the movement of that which is under tariff. Why would a capitalist ask for tariffs on goods to be abolished but insist that tariffs on workers be strengthened?
The short answer is most capitalists don’t. The lax enforcement of immigration laws is the business world’s answer to the protectionist insanity which is immigration law. But logical consistency on this point is in short supply. For instance, it is easy to find such sterling economists as Thomas Sowell write against illegal immigration and against legal tariffs.
Tariffs and Religion
It is well known that individual Christian religions have different communion policies, and these policies change according to clear rules. For instance, some Christians understand that the act of receiving communion causes communion. At the same time, it is a sign that the communicant accepts all that the body of believers accept. For such Christians, communion policies are strict. Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox, for instance, do not allow any but professed, baptized, catechized believers who are in a state of grace to receive.
But in many other Christian faiths, communion is simply seen as an ordinance – something God commanded for no particularly obvious reason. For them, Christians commune not as a statement of belief or a sign, much less a cause, of communion. Rather, it is done because God told us we should, period. Such Christians admit nearly anyone who comes forward to receive. You need not be of that particular faith or of the Christian faith or even of any faith at all – you can receive communion simply by showing up.
It is ironic that the faith with one of the strictest policies on divine communion has one of the most lenient understandings of the interpersonal communion we call immigration.
As Rachel Zoll, the AP’s religion writer, points out, “St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke, who publicly said in 2004 he would refuse to give Holy Communion to Kerry, was among many church leaders who organized recent rallies in favor of giving undocumented workers a chance at citizenship. Burke noted that American Catholics were immigrants themselves, and that by welcoming migrants, ‘we obey the command of Our Lord, who tells us that when we welcome the stranger, we welcome Christ Himself.’ ”
Catholics tend to view immigration and emigration as a natural right that exists independent of the laws of any particular country. Catholics point to the numerous emigrations and immigrations made by the Holy Family, and the itinerant wanderings of every apostle and most of the saints as a demonstration that the movement of peoples should not be restricted without very good reason.
Protestantism, on the other hand, the group of religions with the most lenient communion policies, tends to be the strictest towards population movement. Indeed, as we saw at the beginning of the article, the people who believed least in God – socialist atheists – were the ones with the most strongly enforced immigration policy.
Communion policies, whether this concerns policies about inanimate objects (the communion of goods), immigration (the communion of saints) or the Lord’s Supper (communion with God Himself), are based in what is deemed crucial, ‘cross-driven.’ Unlike other faiths, Catholics worry about creating and maintaining a culture of life that images God’s own life. For us, the only passport that matters is the One we receive on the tongue each Sunday, the One who is the passport to heaven.
Friday, April 21, 2006
I believe I can sum up the entire argument in just a couple of sentences:
Baptists are neo-Catholics.
Baptists take some elements of Catholicism (worship of Jesus, necessity of prayer - at least the sinner's prayer, etc.) and combine it with ideas of their own to create neo-Catholicism. Frances Kissling is likewise a neo-Catholic. So is Jack Chick.
For that matter, so is Dan Brown. He holds to the importance of Jesus, holds up Mary Magdelene for veneration, etc. He's not just a neo-Gnostic, but a neo-Catholic.
Neo-Catholicism, neo-Gnosticism - in each case the new version is really identical to the original version when you look at it right, so we are justified in using the name as long as we append a "neo" to the front.
I used to run RCIA. During the initial interviews with candidates, I would frequently have Lutherans begin the process by telling me "Well there really isn't much difference between Catholics and Lutherans, and my wife/husband is Catholic, so I decided to join the Catholic Church."
I guess they were right.
Ignatius Press would certainly not be able to argue against the idea.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Ignatius Press is upset at my recent observation that Christian apologists in general, and Ignatius Press in particular, have been tilting at windmills in Dan Brown’s famous novel. Specifically, most Christian apologists have been promoting the false idea that Brown’s novel is Gnostic. Carl Olson has attempted to defend Ignatius Press from these charges. Sadly, he inadvertently demonstrated how Ignatius Press, like so many others, have scotoma. As Dan Brown doesn’t point out in the quote above, scotoma is just the Latin word for “blind spot.”
These blind spots typically arise when people aren’t thinking about the words they use in conversation. For instance, a Catholic-Lutheran conversation on “justification” will quickly bog down if the two sides don’t realize how wildly different each side’s definition is. When a Lutheran uses the word “justification” he is most assuredly not espousing Catholic theology or philosophy.
Similarly, though Catholics and Lutherans both use the word “baptism” in a similar way, Mormons do not. Indeed, while Catholics accept Lutheran baptism as valid, the Mormon “baptism” is so entirely different from Catholic usage that Mormon baptisms are entirely rejected by Catholics.
A Mormon may speak of “baptism,” he may practice “baptism, but he does not thereby demonstrate that he is a Catholic or a proto-Catholic or even a quasi-Catholic. The words are the same, but the meanings, the underlying realities, are not. People who don’t realize this get caught up in a verbal shell game; they can’t see which meaning is under which word.
Many Christian denominations fall into this trap when they claim their theology can be found in early Christian practice. Baptists, for instance, sometimes make the claim that the 12th century Albigensians are their spiritual forebears. As even the most trivial study of the Albigensian theology demonstrates, the claim is as nonsensical as it is common.
As one might expect, historians are more liable to verbal shell games than most. Like Smeagol in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, historians are always grubbing around in the dark, trying to find the “roots of things.” They make their house payments by making connections between events, even when there are no connections to be made, and this is the source of all kinds of trouble.
A wonderful historian once confided to me that in thirty years of reading history, he had only once met a book in which the author stated his theory and then discovered that the facts of history proved him wrong. In every other book he had ever read, the historian-author always managed to demonstrate that his own pet theory was right. Amazing.
But that, dear friends, is the history of Gnosticism in a nutshell. There are historians who speak of the Gnosticism of the Rosicrucians and the Freemasons, or the “modern gnosticism” of newly-minted 20th century “goddess worship,” radical feminism and the like. As Sir Thomas Crapper, renowned re-inventor of the flush toilet, might remark, it’s all crap.
Gnostics believed in a Godhead made up of a pleroma, a multitude of spiritual aeons with a few archons thrown in for measure. Gnostics taught that the created world is evil, brought into existence by a stupid female demi-urge who traps immortal souls in the slime of the material world and holds them imprisoned. According to Gnostics, Jesus was an aeon, part of the divine pleroma. He was pure spirit, a being without a body who could therefore not be crucified. He pretended to take flesh and walk among us in order to give us the secret knowledge, i.e., the “gnosis,” necessary to be freed of the prison that is our bodies.
Since created matter is an evil prison, the act of procreative sex is evil: it traps immortal souls in this torture chamber we call the universe. Marriage is evil because it leads to procreative sex. Women are spiritually lower forms of life because they actually incubate the prisoners; they cooperate with the demi-urge by the very nature of who they are. This is why the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas says women cannot be saved unless they become like men. These teachings form the white-hot core, the beating heart, of Gnosticism.
How the Trick Was Played
So, how many of these ideas appear in Dan Brown’s novel? Well, none of them, actually. Brown not only says absolutely nothing about pleromas, aeons, archons or demi-urges, he insists sex and marriage are sacred – his teachings are directly opposed to Gnosticism.
The Albigensians of the 12th century were the last Gnostics. Almost none of the things that are called “gnosticism” today are actually gnostic because none of them teach what the original Gnostics taught.
The modern “Gnostics” claim inspiration from the Gospels of Judas or Thomas or Mary Magdelene for the same reason some Baptists lay claim to the Albigensians: it provides the aura of ancient belief without the burden of any demonstration. For them, the words “Gnostic” or “Albigensian” are really just synonyms for “Dude, what we believe is like really, really old and stuff. Trust me.” The emphasis is on the “trust me.”
If Dan Brown had written a novel that invoked the names of Albigensian documents, quoted a sentence or two, and then went on to discuss the superlative merits of modern Baptist theology, Carl Olson would have shot the whole thing down in a New York minute. He certainly would never have entitled the first chapter of his debunk book, “Albigensianism: The Religion of The Baptist Code.”
In fact, he would not only have debunked Baptist theology; he would have take pains to point out that Albigensianism has nothing to do with Baptist belief. But Brown wrote a book that invoked a couple of Gnostic documents, and then went on to describe how sex is holy, marriage is holy, and women should be treated like goddesses and Carl fell for it.
It’s understandable why Carl would make this mistake. Look at the list of expert historians he brings forward in his article. Now, as any college survey will show, nearly all of today’s historians are at least agnostics, if not atheists, and most are mildly to violently opposed to religious belief. In short, most historians who study religion are not terribly reliable guides. They earn their pay by demonstrating that all religious beliefs are essentially the same: they are all bunk.
So, as one might expect, it is unusual to find historians who are willing to attack an anti-Christian book. But, we must remember that historians are people too. They have relatively few chances for dances of glory in the media limelight: Brown’s book was so bad it afforded a wonderful opportunity to dance this dance of joy.
In that sense, it’s hard to fault Carl for being led along by the nose by the “experts.” We all like to be liked, and the historians seemed to be On Our Side for once. So, when the historians fed Christians their standard nonsensical patter, Carl fell for an absurdity he never would have entertained in other circumstances: he bought into the idea that Dan Brown’s novel is Gnostic.
The central idea in a theology is its concept of God. The central idea in a religion is its ethics and rituals. Brown’s theology says nothing of the Gnostic idea of God, actively opposes Gnosticism’s ethical teachings, and rips off rituals from Wicca. Wicca, by the way, was invented in 1939 by an adulterous English civil servant who liked to prance around in the nude. Any guesses on why Wiccan spirituality emphasizes nudity and ritual sex?
The Historian is Quicker than the Ear
So, Philip Jenkins and company may natter on about the “syzygy” of male-female spirituality which forces “modern gnosticism” to make Jesus and Mary Magdelene both deity, but that hardly matters. After all, aren’t we all angry with Danny because he keeps insisting Jesus was just an ordinary man, not deity at all?
Similarly, good Catholics cannot use the fact that Robert Langdon knelt at Mary Magdelene’s tomb in order to charge Brown with goddess worship. After all, any good Catholic might also kneel at Mary Magdelene’s tomb in a fit of reverence. And, while Dan Brown makes soft mewling noises about the “sacred feminine,” he simply never calls Mary Magdelene a goddess, despite Carl’s mistaken belief that he does.
So, whether we judge Brown according to the actual Gnostic standards of the second century or under the invented shell of twenty-first century “gnosticism,” it doesn’t matter. Dan Brown simply isn’t gnostic.
Let’s hammer down the coffin nails. Feminists may refer to Gnostic texts, but that doesn’t make those feminists Gnostic any more than Carl’s use of those texts makes Ignatius Press Gnostic. The feminist idea of a triple-aspect goddess - maiden, mother, crone - is a purely modern invention that has no correspondence to any ancient belief system. The feminists who claim Gnostic influence and manufactured Horned Gods were and are just silly women repeating the mantra, “Dude, what we believe is like totally old and stuff. Trust me.”
Equally useful are the endorsements the Ignatius Press book has gotten from the media. It surely must be comforting to know that all those MSM reporters who seldom or never attend religious services have given their imprimatur to the Ignatius Press take on gnosticism.
And speaking of imprimaturs! While Cardinal George is an outstanding man whom I deeply admire – anyone who takes on Chicago for as long as he has without retiring to a monastery should be deeply honored – he isn’t an historian nor is he immune to their ways. Because bishops are men like the rest of us, bishops can be and frequently are fooled like the rest of us. For excellent evidence of this, one has only to look at the 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia. It not only has the praise of a good bishop, it even has his imprimatur, yet it’s article on schools is essentially heretical, as I demonstrate in painful detail in on schools Designed To Fail: Catholic Education in America.
In short, Carl’s lengthy defense of Ignatius Press merely demonstrated what I have been pointing out all along: an otherwise orthodox Catholic press inadvertently bought into a portion of Brown’s implicit claim to Gnosticism.
In fact, what Brown teaches – what all the “modern gnostics” teach – has essentially nothing to do with real Gnosticism. The whole charade is just a verbal shell game played by historians looking for collegial respect and feminist theologians searching for authenticity.
Augustinian monks in Ireland have concelebrated Mass with Anglicans, thereby violating canon law and setting themselves up for canonical penalties.
Can. 900 §1. The minister who is able to confect the sacrament of the Eucharist in the person of Christ is a validly ordained priest alone.
Can. 908 Catholic priests are forbidden to concelebrate the Eucharist with priests or ministers of Churches or ecclesial communities which do not have full communion with the Catholic Church.
From Redemptionis Sacramentorum:
[172.] Graviora delicta against the sanctity of the Most August Sacrifice and Sacrament of the Eucharist are to be handled in accordance with the ‘Norms concerning graviora delicta reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’, namely:
a) taking away or retaining the consecrated species for sacrilegious ends, or the throwing them away;
b) the attempted celebration of the liturgical action of the Eucharistic Sacrifice or the simulation of the same;
c) the forbidden concelebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice with ministers of Ecclesial Communities that do not have the apostolic succession nor acknowledge the sacramental dignity of priestly Ordination;
d) the consecration for sacrilegious ends of one matter without the other in the celebration of the Eucharist or even of both outside the celebration of the Eucharist.
"[179.] Delicts against the faith as well as graviora delicta committed in the celebration of the Eucharist and the other Sacraments are to be referred without delay to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which “examines [them] and, if necessary, proceeds to the declaration or imposition of canonical sanctions according to the norm of common or proper law”.
Here is +Cardinal Arinze's address:
His Eminence Cardinal Francis Arinze
Congregation for Divine Worship
and the Discipline of the Sacraments
00120 Vatican City State
A federal judge has ruled that an illegal immigrant carrying the child of an American cannot be deported until after she gives birth. The child, being an American, has a right to stay in the country, and deporting the mother would necessarily deport the child.
But the feds - ever mindful of publicity - are going to make sure the woman is deported just as soon as the child is born.
So now America - who has not been having enough babies to maintain her own population - is reduced to stealing other people's babies. Very nice.
Saturday, April 15, 2006
My hometown is Belleville, Illinois. The western edge of the town is just about ten miles from East St. Louis, Illinois. East St. Louis has long had the distinction of being the crime capital of the Midwest. At several points during the last four decades, it has had per capita murder rates higher than New York City. But it wasn’t always that way.
A century ago, East St. Louis was a fine, upstanding city with neat homes, excellent businesses and a thriving economy. It had the largest horse, mule, hog and cattle markets in the nation, the second-largest meat-packing center and the second largest railroad shipping yard. It also boasted the largest aluminum ore processor in the world. Even better, the soil of Southern Illinois sat atop some of the richest coal reserves in the country: the whole east side of the river was criss-crossed with mines. Legend has it that at the height of operations, a man could drive a mule underground thirty miles from east of the bluffs all the way west to the river without ever once coming out to see the sunshine.
Trouble in Paradise
But there was trouble in paradise. By the early 1900’s, the men working at these various operations had begun to unionize. Plant owners did not want to deal with their demands, so they came up with a solution: they began encouraging poor black sharecroppers from the South to migrate north across the Mason-Dixon line to work in East. St. Louis factories.
Does any of this sound familiar? Read on.
As factory owners later admitted, this not only got them cheap laborers who were more willing to do dirty jobs than the white men in town were, it also guaranteed that unions would not form, since white men would not mix with black men. Thus, the workers from the South were ideal for business, but created a real problem for the native Illinois working-man.
The white laborers knew these non-union (i.e., undocumented) guest workers from south of the border – the Illinois border, that is - were taking their jobs and preventing them from unionizing the plants. And there were thousands of them. The number of black workers tripled in fourteen years and grew exponentially as the conflict in Europe heated up. Even if East St. Louis had not had a policy of strict segregation, this tidal wave of black workers would have meant inevitable housing and business conflicts. But with such a policy, wherein no one on either side had a chance to know or trust anyone on the other, the conflict was certain to be vicious.
As the number of “guest workers” swelled, the white inhabitants began to complain of a growing crime wave, and the growing black population was held responsible for it. The muttering in the streets, the editorials in the newspapers, grew increasingly vicious. Both sides could see which way this was headed. Both sides began to arm themselves.
Now, according to the laws of the time, blacks were not permitted to own guns. Indeed, blacks from St. Louis, which was just across the Mississippi in Missouri, were routinely searched at the border for weapons. Blacks from the South understood how lynchings worked and had no intention of becoming targets. Consequently, gun-running became the order of the day for the black population.
Does any of this sound familiar? Read on.
The Turning Point
In the summer of 1917, life got dramatically worse. From the end of May throughout June, small riots flared up almost every night. Rumors raced through the white population that blacks were planning a terrorist attack: they were planning to kill the whites in the city on July 4th, as the city celebrations wound down.
By July 1, a black man had shot his white assailant. Whites in automobiles were firing into black homes. A police car dispatched to a disturbance was fired on by a group of blacks who thought the car was filled with more drive-by shooters. Two officers were killed. The mayor called Springfield for troops.
On the morning of July 2, the blood-drenched police car lit the match. The whites held a rally, the speakers harangued the crowd, and the townspeople began a military march towards the south, the black quarter of town. The march quickly exploded into the worst race riot the United States has ever seen.
Blacks were beaten and killed, lynched, burned alive in their own homes or shot as they tried to leave the new-made furnaces. Entire city blocks were incinerated. The troops from Springfield arrived late, and either did nothing or actively took part in the rioting.
By that evening, the flames from the black quarter of town shot so high that inhabitants of the bluff community of Signal Hill said nearby Pittsburgh Lake looked like a sheet of flame from the reflected light. Several of my boyhood friends had great-grandfathers who stood guard at the foot of the bluff with shotguns, making sure no black man, woman or child from East. St. Louis could break through to the road up the bluff into Belleville.
By the time the riot was done, 39 blacks and 9 whites were known to have been killed, but hundreds more were reported killed or missing in the newspapers. Given the massive incineration of the southern half of the city, the reports are not beyond belief. The reports of the riot were immediately classified by the US Government. They were not released until 1986.
The third largest city in Illinois Belleville and East St. Louis have spent the last century reaping the legacy of that hot 1917 summer.
Today, East St. Louis, once the third largest city in Illinois, has no heavy industry at all, and virtually no economy. In the 1980’s, City Hall was confiscated by the courts to pay a city debt. It is 97% black with a median household income of roughly $21,000 and a per capita income of $11,000. 35% of the population is below the poverty line – nearly half of all children are in families below the poverty line.
With numbers like that and a city filled with comparative riches right up the hill, it is not really surprising to find that my hometown, Belleville, eventually began to see a certain number of immigrants itself. Indeed, not too many years ago, the Belleville Police Department had the dubious distinction of being the star of a 60 Minutes broadcast, in which it was alleged to be the most racist police department in America.
The reasons weren’t hard to discover. When eight of ten crime witnesses describe their assailants as black males in their mid-20’s, even the least intelligent police officer will think he begins to see a pattern. Black-on-black crime is rampant in the city near the river and enough black-on-white crime rolls up the bluff to create a fairly racist population in the city on the hill.
I am familiar with the problem of crime created by “illegal immigrants,” i.e., black Southern sharecroppers who moved north to take factory jobs in Illinois. My own father has been robbed twice – once with a gun held to his head, the second time with a knife at his throat. If the second man had not been relatively incompetent - managing to lose his knife during the course of the robbery, and so forced to slit my father’s throat with the torn aluminum from an empty beer can – he would have been successful in ripping through to the jugular vein and so silencing the only witness to the crime.
As it turned out, the cut was as inept as the man who made it, and my father survived. But, though he has been robbed and nearly killed, not once but twice - and by the typical Belleville perpetrator - he has never opined that all blacks should be deported.
As a boy growing up in Belleville, I learned the story of East St. Louis at my parents’ knees. I saw the effects on my own community. I saw the dying city every time we drove out of town.
But I also learned the lessons East St. Louis had to teach. As I said, East St. Louis is dying now, and will soon be dead – the population has decreased every decade since 1917. But with its dying breath, it tells me what I need to know about immigration.
I know poor men come north to find work and earn pay. Most of that pay goes back home to feed children they hold only in photographs, to care for wives who must raise the family alone until Pa has bankrolled enough either to come back or to send for them.
Some of those poor men are violent or turn violent. They primarily victimize their fellows, but the violent ones get the deep pockets when they can, and their fellow immigrants hate them for it. They hate them because they are victimized by these violent men and they hate them because the violent victimization of the white man gives every immigrant a bad name.
I know that borders and searches don’t work. I know that segregating the populations with a street or a fence or even a wide, wide river like the Mississippi doesn’t work. You can’t stop people from wanting to live, and they will hate you if you try. If two groups of people learn to hate each other enough, then they will eventually kill each other.
That’s what I learned.
I’ll be damned if I let July, 1917 happen across the whole American Southwest.
The immigrants are here. We must get used to them and learn to work with them. We must mix our life’s blood together with them in our children and our children’s children or we will mix our life’s blood together with them in pools, as we both lay dying on the street. If you want to keep America, then you must be willing to let go of the America you have today so you can grasp the America that waits in the wings. Look back on the flames of East. St. Louis and learn from her mistakes.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
That's Chapter 1 of Carl Olson and Sandra Miesel's book, The Da Vinci Hoax. While the book has been a moderately competent debunk of Dan Brown's novel, there has always been one aspect of it that has been in error, and it is admirably laid out in the title to chapter 1. Gnosticism has absolutely nothing to do with the Da Vinci Code.
In defending the Ignatius book against this charge, Mark Brumley, CEO of Ignatius, has this to say, "DVH makes a sophisticated argument re: Gnosticism and the DVC. Brown draws on some elements of Gnosticism, frames some of his arguments based on how Gnosticism is used by others today, and ignores other aspects of Gnosticism that contradict his overall thesis."
Now, as I have pointed out elsewhere, The Da Vinci Code's contact with Gnosticism is essentially non-existent. It quotes from two documents which contain Gnostic elements: the Gospel of Philip and the Gospel of Mary Magdalene. In neither case does Brown use the Gnostic elements in those documents, nor does he use the quotes that he does draw from the documents to support any Gnostic idea whatsoever.
In fact, every idea that he brings forward concerning Jesus is antithetical to Gnosticism.
Recently, Carl Olson wrote a column for Ignatius Insight complaining about the uproar over the Gnostic Gospel of Judas. Since his column accepts comments from readers, I pointed out that the uproar was in part fueled by his erroneous book and DVD - he and Ignatius have been promulgating information on a heresy that the Da Vinci Code never even refers to. Two years of Ignatius' hype concerning this straw-man argument undoubtedly played no small role in the rising interest in Gnosticism.
After all, even the word "Gnostic" never appears in the Da Vinci Code. Certainly none of its ideas are present in the Code. Gnosticism is a remarkably complex and relatively obscure heresy that almost no one knew existed prior to the erection of the strawman argument. Given how bad Dan Brown is at research, it isn't clear he even realized he was quoting from Gnostic documents. There's certainly no evidence he taught anything approaching Gnostic philosophy.
So, when I heard about Carl's column, in which he laments the existence of an uproar he and Ignatius helped to create, I asked Carl and Mark to give me one example of Gnostic philosophy, theology or even general thought in the Da Vinci Code.
Mark responded only by saying "Brown claims X, but he gets this from Gnostic sources..."
I pointed out that Brown quoted from ancient documents which contained Gnostic elements, but he never, in fact, used any of the Gnostic elements. Indeed, as I realized later, if we were to use this new Ignatius Press standard for what constitutes adherence to a particular philosophy, we would be forced to insist that Ignatius Press supports Dan Brown's philosophy and theology, since their book quotes from The Da Vinci Code.
If Brown quoting from Gnostic documents makes him Gnostic, then Ignatius Press quoting from the Da Vinci Code makes them adherents to Dan Brown’s philosophy. QED.
Mark insisted I was not engaging his argument, and indicated that he saw no point in further conversation.
I posted this reply:
- "Mark, your book has a chapter entitled Chapter 1: Gnosticism: The Religion of the Code.
In that chapter, Carl and Sandra say, 'It's easy for writers such as Brown, who are sympathetic to the gnostics (or at least to some of their ideas)...'
I asked you to name one Gnostic idea that Brown espouses in DVC. You can't. But your chapter heading says it is the Religion of the Code! How does that work?
How can something be the religion, the philosophy, the theology of a work without ever actually espousing - or even referring to - any of the IDEAS in the work?
Carl and Sandra give a basically accurate description of what Gnosticism teaches and then say, 'Gnosticism was exclusive, elitist, and esoteric, open only to a few.'
But Brown's argument is precisely that pagan goddess worship – which is NOT Gnosticism - was NOT elitist, esoteric or open only to a few.
Your own book's first chapter HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ANYTHING IN DVC. Your book claims that Brown is sympathetic to Gnostic ideas, but you never connect any Gnostic idea to anything Brown wrote.
Carl and Sandra have been pushing this strawman argument for TWO YEARS. Ignatius has been pushing this strawman for two years.
Engage with that fact."
As Carl and Sandra correctly point out in their first chapter, Gnosticism held that proper understanding of reality was only available to a few esoteric elite, people who did not need to justify themselves to the rest of us, the great unwashed. The illuminated understand the secret knowledge. The rest of us must just accept what they say.
The Ignatius Press' position is quite clear: "DVH makes a sophisticated argument re: Gnosticism and the DVC. Brown draws on some elements of Gnosticism, frames some of his arguments based on how Gnosticism is used by others today, and ignores other aspects of Gnosticism that contradict his overall thesis."
The argument is apparently quite sophisticated - so sophisticated, that it is not something Mark Brumley, CEO of Ignatius Press, or Carl Olson and Sandra Miesel, the authors of The Da Vinci Hoax, are willing to actually enunciate to the rest of us.
"Brown draws on some elements of Gnosticism" but we aren't permitted to know which.
Brown "frames some of his arguments based on how Gnosticism is used by others today," but we aren't permitted to know how.
In short, Mark Brumley is trying to tell us the arguments Carl and Sandra use in The Da Vinci Hoax are Gnostic arguments.
I guess they are fighting fire with fire. Too bad the rest of us are too stupid to understand.
Just remember: the Ignatius Press use of Gnostic strawmen and/or Gnostic arguments had nothing to do with the uproar over the Gospel of Judas. Not a thing. Just ask them.
Exactly three pages later, the same character argues that Jesus gave authority over the Church to a woman. Why? Well, women were never given positions of authority in Judaism, but Jesus was a rebel who defied custom and refused to be bound by it.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. A great person does not have to think consistently from one day to the next.” This is a sentiment impossible to argue with.
As we approach Holy Thursday and the washing of the feet, both Emerson and Brown are reminded to call their offices.
During the Mass of the Last Supper on Holy Thursday, the liturgy calls for the priest to emulate Jesus in washing the feet of several men. Notice the liturgy specifies the sex of the persons whose feet are to be washed. But, for roughly forty years, we have had lay people, priests, even bishops, who insist that the Mass of the Last Supper permits the washing of the feet of anyone who seems disenfranchised.
Well, we all know that Jesus is God. God can do whatever He wants. He is absolutely free. Thus, Jesus, being the living God, had no choice. You see, he was tightly bound by Hebrew cultural norms, norms that constrained the living God and forced him to wash only men’s feet. If it weren’t for the fact that God was forced into this position by virtue of being the all-powerful creator of everything that existed, He would have washed women’s feet. Probably would have invited the little children in as well. Heck, perhaps Rover or Tabby would have gotten their paws damp. But you know how it is.
In case you thought the reasoning couldn’t get sillier, you’re wrong.
I once had a woman tell me, with obvious awe and wonder at the depth of thought involved, that the priest at her parish didn’t wash anyone’s feet at all. Instead, he washed the hands. “You see, it’s the hands that do the work!”
Which just goes to show how far modern seminary training has advanced over that of the ancients. Jesus is undoubtedly sitting at the right hand of the Father taking notes, nudging Abba occasionally with his elbow, saying, “Wow – why didn’t I think of that?”
Unfortunately for this priest, the Holy Thursday’s washing has nothing to do with labor. Many know that the washing of feet was a task so low that only the most menial Gentile slave could be ordered to do it, but few people realize why. The Hebrew colloquial expression for relieving oneself is “to cover one’s feet.” As anyone who has squatted in an open field knows, the colloquial expression is an accurate description of what can happen during the activity under discussion. By washing people’s hands, the priest was inadvertently making a rather strong comment on what they had been doing with those hands recently.
But it’s actually worse than that. Others have written on this subject with far more Scriptural dexterity than I, so I will steal liberally from them in order to make the point. As Old Oligarch points out, the only Jew in Scripture besides Christ who ever washed the feet of another Jew was Moses. He washed Aaron and his sons in order to cleanse them in preparation for their ordination as the first Levitical priests.
Few people realize that the Catholic Church has definitively interpreted only seven sets of Scripture passages, the Last Supper narratives of the synoptic Gospels being one of those. The Council of Trent infallibly defined that those narratives are the Scriptural foundation for the establishment of the priesthood. The washing of the feet must, therefore, be read within the context of preparation for ordination.
Jesus didn’t wash the apostles’ feet because He was bound by custom to do so. Indeed, Hebrew custom militated against it. He chose only men as Levitical priests in the Old Testament, He chose only men as apostles in the New Testament, and He washed the feet of all priests prior to their ordination because He wants them to be pure. He wants them to walk in purity. How beautiful are the feet upon the mountain of him who brings good news!
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
The Gospel of Judas, for those not in the know, is a Gnostic Gospel that was discovered about thirty years ago. The MSM has decided to dust it off and make it a centerpiece for the Easter season, since it contains distinctly weird theological statements.
Take the New York Times' discussion as an example of the nuttiness contained therein:
"The [Gospel of Judas] goes on to relate that Jesus refers to the other disciples, telling Judas "you will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me." By that, scholars familiar with Gnostic thinking said, Jesus meant that by helping him get rid of his physical flesh, Judas will act to liberate the true spiritual self or divine being within Jesus."
Now, why is such a silly document getting so much press coverage? Because a bunch of Christians - especially a bunch of orthodox Catholics - made sure it would.
For the last two years, the people who took on the role of official debunkers to Dan Brown's novel, The Da Vinci Code, have been insisting that Brown's work is a Gnostic heresy.
It is nothing of the sort.
Gnostics said sex is evil and marriage is sinful.
The Da Vinci Code said sex is holy and marriage is sacred.
Gnostics said men are closer to divinity than women, women can only be saved if they become like men.
The Da Vinci Code says women are closer to divinity then men, men are saved by worshipping the sacred feminine.
Gnostics said salvation can only be attained if you acquire special knowledge which allows you to overcome the creator of the material universe, who is not god.
The Da Vinci Code said nothing at all about salvation or the creator of the material universe. The only point of contact here is that the Gnostic creation account had a god-like being named Sophia, whose errors were responsible for the material world being created. In contrast, the Da Vinci Code's protagonist, Sophie Nevue, turns out to be responsible for preserving the link to the divine. Her role is exactly the opposite of the role played by the Gnostic "Sophia."
Finally, and most important, the central aspect of Gnostic theology insisted Jesus did not have a real body and was not a real man. His crucifixion was fake if only because he had no body to crucify - his body was an illusion he clothed himself in to prevent us mortal men from taking fright and running from him. That's the central tenet of the Gospel of Judas.
The Da Vinci Code insists that Jesus was NOTHING BUT A MAN, who had a wife and kids.
In short, the central position of the Gospel of Judas directly contradicts Dan Brown's novel.
There is nothing at all Gnostic about the Da Vinci Code novel.
True, the book quotes a few of the Gnostic gospels, but that's hardly relevant. Not only does he take all the quotes out of context, his argument doesn't really rest on the Gnostic gospels at all. He uses them as a throw-away opening salvo against Christianity, quoting them for roughly six pages and then never returning to them again.
In short, if any Gnostics were alive today, they would be debunking Dan Brown's novel right along with the Christians, since he screws up Gnostic theology and history as thoroughly as he screws up Catholic-Christian theology and history.
But the constant drumbeat from Christian apologists who don't know history or Gnostic theology has incorrectly painted the Da Vinci Code as a Gnostic heresy, thereby raising interest in a train of thought that had been shown up for a farce over 1800 years ago.
Because the Christians kept incoherently insisting Brown's book was Gnostic when it was nothing of the sort, the Gnostic Gospel of Judas is now news.
And now Christian apologists are complaining about the MSM's attention to the newest unveiling of a Gnostic Gospel.
No wonder the world laughs at Christians.
If these people had only bothered to learn a bit about Gnosticism first, or - better yet - had bought copies of Fact and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code...
But I shall say no more, as shameless plugs of my book - currently on sale for just $5 at the Bridegroom Press website - is totally out of character.
Friday, April 07, 2006
Clearly, he doesn't read the sales figures from Random House. After slowly falling in sales rank over the course of the last year, both books rocketed back into the best sellers' lists.
Did Random House simply engineer the trial concerning Da Vinci Code copyright infringement, timing it so that it would coincide with the movie release? It's hard to see how else the facts can be explained. Indeed, given how the case was run, it would not be at all surprising to discover that Random House fully (and quietly) reimburses the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail for their trial expenses, assuming those authors ever paid such expenses to begin with.
If anyone wishes to argue, one has only to study the judge's ruling. He notes in points 5 and 8 that there were grounds for copyright infringement, but the HBHG authors somehow failed to realize it, as they never mentioned the real grounds for infringement in their suit. He further notes in point 6 that Dan Brown clearly lied about not having made much use of HBHG.
In short, the millionaire authors of HBHG and the expensive lawyer they "hired" were all so bleeding ignorant of their own work and of Dan Brown's work, that they used entirely the wrong approach in the copyright trial - an approach that was doomed to fail.
Further, as the judge notes in point 9, neither the prosecution nor the defense called the one witness - repeatedly referred to during Brown's testimony - who could have cleared things up. The level of incompetence here was mind-boggling.
The whole thing seems to have been a put-up job to sell books and a movie. In essence, Random House was both the defendant and the litigant. They got a month of world-wide publicity in every major news outlet just weeks prior to the launch of a what's sure to be a blockbuster movie. And they got it all simply by paying their in-house lawyers the salaries they have to pay them anyhow.
As it always has been the marketing associated with the Da Vinci Code is absolutely brilliant.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
As Tony Snow recently pointed out, over 60% of illegal immigrants pay social security and income taxes. How do they do it? They use false social security numbers. That means that the majority of illegal aliens are contributing to a system that will never give them back a dime of the money they put in.
Most illegal immigrants are men who have left their families behind in order to build up money here and send it back to their wives and children. As a result, less than 10% of illegals have children in the public school system, while only 5% receive unemployment or food stamps.
Illegals Don’t Pay Taxes
But, as none of the conservative commentators have pointed out, while nearly 40% of illegals don’t pay any taxes, that really doesn’t make them much different from most Americans. Let’s connect a few unconnected dots.
Bruce Bartlett and Thomas Sowell frequently point out that the tax bite on Americans is disproportionate. In 2003, for instance, the top 1 percent of taxpayers, ranked by adjusted gross income, paid 34.3 percent of all federal income taxes that year. The top 5 percent paid 54.4 percent, the top 10 percent paid 65.8 percent, and the top quarter of taxpayers paid 83.9 percent. And this despite the fact that the top 10 percent only earn 43 percent of the money.
Seventy-five percent of Americans paid less than seventeen percent of all taxes. The bottom fifty percent of Americans paid just four percent of income taxes, although they make 14 percent of the money. Indeed, the Earned Income Tax Credit gives many low-income workers a negative tax rate -- that is, they pay no income taxes but get a "refund" from the government anyway. Fully 30 percent of Americans fall into this category. When these facts are recalled, illegals begin to look like a cross-section of America.
And they aren’t the only ones. Walmart manages to keep prices low by effectively getting a subsidy from the government for their workers. A disproportionate number of Walmart workers are on food stamps, medicare and medicaid.
Illegals Are, By Definition, Criminals
Crime rates along the border are lower than in comparably sized non-border cities. Indeed, as Snow points out, California saw its crime rate halve while its Hispanic population more than doubled.
But they are breaking the law simply by entering the country, aren’t they? That makes them criminals, right?
Well, yes and no. Yes, they are breaking the law, but no, it doesn’t rise to the level of criminal court. As Linda Chavez points out, entering the country without proper papers is a misdemeanor civil offense. Similar civil violations are committed by people who don’t put the lids on their trash cans tightly enough or don’t keep the weeds in their yards properly cut. If we wish to reign in this level of lawbreaker, then let’s do it up right.
In Tucson, it is illegal for women to wear pants. In Alabama, you may not play Dominos on Sunday. In Pueblo, Colorado, it is illegal to let a dandelion grow within city limits. In Connecticut, it is illegal to dispose of used razor blades. In Hawaii, it is illegal to appear in public wearing only swimming trunks. (queue Frank Sinatra singing “I Did It My Way”) This rampant lawlessness obviously undermines America’s world-renowned reputation for refusing to break the rules in order to live as we please: we should not and cannot tolerate it!
Illegals Take Our Jobs
Well, what of the Hispanics flooding into New Orleans? Illegals are rebuilding the city!
They are! And do you know why? Because no one wants to do the job they are doing or live in the conditions they have to live in to earn that money. Illegals are living a half dozen and a dozen to a room, working 12 hour days, seven days a week for $8 an hour. That’s assuming the contractor doesn’t refuse to pay, that’s before they pay out the income tax and social security that is docked from the majority of their paychecks.
Everyone is crying that non-Hispanic minorities are being cut out of jobs. Local residents should be doing this work!
Well, perhaps they should, but they refuse to come back and do it. Some complain they can’t find living quarters in the city. Really? How is it that people who walked those streets their whole lives, many of whom were given thousands of dollars of government aid, don’t have the means to travel home? How is it that such fine, upstanding citizens fail to find rooms once they get there? The illegals can barely find the state on a map, much less the city, and they certainly aren’t getting government relocation subsidies for travel expenses, yet they manage not only to get there but they seem to be glad to work.
So, yes, illegal immigrants are displacing Americans born and bred here. But that’s to be expected. We embraced contraception and abortion – they didn’t. We don’t have the people we need to do the jobs we want done. Even if we had the people, we don’t have the stomach.
The Great Wall of Texas
The Great Wall of China was a monumental undertaking, so enormous it can be seen from space. It was never taken by military force. It didn’t have to be. The Mongol invaders simply bribed the gatekeepers. Walls don’t work.
The Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain across Eastern Europe was likewise a testimony to the desire to keep populations apart. Ultimately, those walls were crushed as people mined below them, climbed over them, wriggled through them, and vaulted above them in every conceivable way. Barbed wire and machine guns don’t work.
Well, what about a moat?
The enormous moat which is the oceanic strait between Florida and Cuba has been equally successful in keeping immigrants out. Ninety miles of shark-infested water hasn’t stopped men, women, children, even infants, from seeking out a better life. Moats don’t work.
Now, Congress is considering the construction of the Great Wall of Texas. Apart from its utility as a make-work project for government-funded contractors, what, exactly is the point?
Monday, April 03, 2006
In 1776, the American Way of Life had several aspects. In religion, it was strongly Protestant, and tirelessly anti-Catholic. Few people remember that the French alliance with American rebels forced marked changes in America’s way of life. George Washington, for instance, had to order his troops to stop celebrating Guy Fawkes’ Day by burning the pope in effigy. America’s French Catholic allies might take offense.
In Washington’s day, the American Way of Life was built on an economy that was both overwhelmingly agrarian and stridently opposed to the existence of the corporation. The Boston Tea Party, indeed, the entire Revolutionary War, was arguably a war meant to overthrow the shackles, not of the English king, but of the Dutch East India Company and its clones. The American Way of Life was built in no small part upon slavery and indentured servitude – New York had slave cemeteries and slave trading just as surely as Charleston did.
The American Way of Life was also built around the small – the very small – rural town, wherein everyone knew everyone and strangers were looked on askance. Education was the one-room school house in which the students, the teachers and the town’s school board were all related to one another: brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, all were generally one enormous extended family, as was the town it existed within.
The Early Fight
Andrew Jackson fought for the American Way of Life when he opposed a national bank and thereby opposed the creation of corporations. America’s South fought for the American Way of Life when it fought to maintain state’s rights and its “peculiar institution.” The rebels in mid-1800’s Massachusetts fought for the American Way of Life when they tried to keep their children from being marched off to compulsory school by armed troops. All of them ultimately lost.
After the Civil War, the American Way of Life continued to be virulently Protestant and anti-Catholic, but it became increasingly industrialized, which is to say, it began to be ruled by the corporation. By the beginning of the twentieth century, the small town was dying, the one-room schoolhouse was nearly dead and the corporation dominated the economy.
As Catholics streamed in from Europe, the reaction to protect the remaining aspect of the original American Way of Life was pronounced. The United States passed its first immigration quotas. After all, every country in the Western Hemisphere was Catholic, except for the United States. By the beginning of the twentieth century, the fight to preserve America’s “peculiar institution,” that is, Protestantism, was on.
The Protestants lost. In fact, they cut their own throats. During World War I, the notorious adulterer and Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, authorized the distribution of condoms to sailors. The eugenics movement he promoted, along with religious acceptance of condoms permitted by the 1930 Anglican Lambeth Conference, led to nearly virulent promotion of condom usage during WW II. The pre-war myth of the condom, taken together with the underlying fact of mass-produced antibiotics, made the “safe sex” industry a real possibility by 1944.
And that killed the Protestants. From 1973 to 1993, the Protestant majority held steady at 65%. Then, as the first children raised in a predominantly contraceptive/abortive country came of age, the Protestant percentage began to drop rapidly.
Today, less than 50% of Americans are Protestant. The United States is no longer a Protestant country.
Hope Springs Anew
But, at the same time, America has been inundated by Catholics. By 2002, 10% of the United States population was immigrant, the vast majority Catholic Hispanic.
The Minuteman Project boasts over 1000 members. The march in Los Angeles alone was one half-million strong. Unlike demonstrations of Muslim violence in Europe, America’s demonstrations have been peaceful, enormous and Catholic. The Minutemen have lost.
America as we knew it in the 1980’s and 1990’s, is dead. It will not return anymore than the America of the 1780’s will return.
Now, we should be clear. The Catholics of the United States have largely contracepted and aborted themselves out of existence right along with their Protestant brethren, for there is no significant difference between American Catholics and American Protestants in this regard. So, just as Europe will be essentially Middle-Eastern Islamic within fifty years, America will be essentially Catholic Hispanic.
European America, like Europe itself, is dead. The demographics and the immigration patterns are clear. Given the economic realities, those patterns will not change any time soon. Requiem in pace.
But who will triumph? Muslim Europe or Hispanic America? The answer to that is clear as well. We are used to buying products labeled "Made in Mexico." When was the last time you bought a product labeled "Made in Saudi Arabia"?