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Friday, May 21, 2010

It Could Be Worse

As we all know by now, Barack Obama's endorsement of political candidates is the kiss of death for their political careers. Every time he endorses someone, they lose.

As David Broder pointed out yesterday, Specter’s failure “showed the Obama White house once again to be a toothless tiger -- with its endorsements now having failed in Virginia, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. No good news for the president there.”

Now, for some time, conservative political pundits have lamented the fact that Barack Obama constantly runs down the United States.

This is true.

But has anyone considered how much WORSE it would be if he endorsed America?

Public Policy Polling took my advice and actually conducted a poll on this kind of question.

* 42 percent of the women surveyed said Obama's endorsement would make them less likely to vote for someone, with 36 percent of women viewing the president's support positively.

* 55 percent of men took a negative view of Obama's backing, while only 30 percent of men said the president's endorsement increased a candidate's chance of getting their votes.

* 54 percent of those identifying themselves as "independent" or "other," rather than Republican or Democrat, now view an Obama endorsement as a factor swaying them against voting for a candidate for office.

* Only 23 percent of such independent voters said his endorsement would make them more likely to support someone; the remaining 23 percent of independents said it didn't matter or they didn't know.

* A huge proportion of those independent voters -- 57 percent -- disapprove of the way the president is handling the ongoing BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, while only 27 percent approve.

* 44 percent of Hispanics said they would be less likely to vote for someone President Obama endorses, while only 33 percent were more likely. Among whites, the comparison was 55 percent to 27 percent. Blacks, however, were another story, with only 13 percent viewing an Obama endorsement dimly and 70 percent saying it would make them more likely to vote for someone. And 83 percent of blacks said they approved of Obama's handling of the Gulf oil disaster.

So, all the stereotypes are coming home to roost.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Marking Chris West

To my shock and delight, it seems Mark Shea has finally decided to skewer Christopher West. Given Mark's close association with Matt Pinto via Catholic Exchange (Mark is the senior editor, Matt is the unofficial publisher for Catholic Exchange), this is a remarkable turn of events. It is, perhaps, for reasons along this line that we see Shea's attack on West appear not on Catholic Exchange, but at Inside Catholic.

The distancing is all the more amazing when we see the bits of "business" Mark has inserted into the essay itself, subtle parodies of West's own errors.

For instance, in the opening paragraphs, Mark deliberately misrepresents the facts on the "Adamites", in an apparent parody of West's constant distortion of the theological facts surrounding John Paul II's Theology of the Body.

Mark places the Adamites and similar theological nudist movements in post-Reformation, post-Enlightenment, technologically advanced 20th century climate-controlled countries, despite the fact that a simple Google search or a quick perusal of the Catholic Encyclopedia clearly reveals that the Adamite nudists were a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th century heresy.

Why would Shea make such an obvious and easily debunked historical error? Well, we should remember that one of West's central errors, the idea that the Paschal candle is a phallic symbol of some kind, is also an insupportably anachronistic error, the exact reverse of the Adamite error Shea "makes."

Whereas Shea takes an ancient sect and pretends it is thoroughly and only modern, West took a modern heresy - the idea that the Paschal candle is somehow a phallic symbol - and pretended it was thoroughly ancient.

In fact, despite the unsupported statements of people like Christopher West, Janet Smith and Michael Waldstein, no one has produced ANY evidence that the Paschal candle was ever given West's phallic meaning in the first 1800 years of the Church.

Instead, quite the opposite is the case. Due to Dawn Eden's masterful research on the subject, we know that the "Easter candle as phallic symbol" concept was actually developed by one of Nietsche's professors and was popularized by anti-Catholic students of Carl Jung. Eden reminds us that Father Dominic Serra has already described how the fathers of the Second Vatican Council specifically rejected the phallic symbol interpretation West foolishly uses.

But Mark Shea doesn't stop there. He then goes on to an extended discussion of the verb "nake." The parody here is that Mark takes chunks of his own discussion straight from C.S. Lewis' well-known chapter on Eros in The Four Loves without any attribution whatsoever.

This, of course, is a subtle reference to West's habit of taking material like the "Easter candle-phallic symbol" analogy from other modern, copyrighted sources without making any attributions whatsoever, deliberately passing off other people's work as his own. As a senior editor at Catholic Exchange, Mark is fully aware of the need to attribute work, so it's clear that he's making a point about West's unwillingness to do so.

Whereas Mark's unattributed source is the redoubtable C.S. Lewis, West's unattributed sources, at least in reference to the phallic Easter candle, are a series of anti-Catholic Protestants and atheists. Mark thereby quietly reminds the reader of Chesterton's hilarious debunk of the atheist's idea that a church steeple is a phallic symbol.

And Mark uses all of this in a concentrated attack against the memes promoted by West and his acolytes:
This is, of course, what gives the lie to the notion that the account in Genesis is somehow the cause of a Religion of Shame about the Body, and all the rest of the recent rubbish blaming Judaism and Christianity for failing to celebrate unnatural polymorphous perversity and unfettered sexual license....

...As a general rule, the command to clothe the naked is concerned, primarily, not with the need for human warmth as the need for human dignity. Both the Puritan and the Libertine tend to forget this. The Puritan forgets by putting some arbitrary rule above the person's healthy sense of modesty in relation to his culture. The Libertine forgets it by denying that a culture (usually his own) has any language by which virtue or vice is spoken through clothes.
This, of course, is one of the central complaints made about Chris West. When he insists, as he frequently has, that a pure and moral Catholic should be able to look at a naked woman, even someone else's wife, without sin, he has taken up the Libertine's language. Mark Shea neatly skewers West not only through the subtle parody of Westian "scholarship" but also through this overt attack on West's obsession with "Puritanism." Similarly, Shea uses the theme of modesty to skewer West's understanding of the related virtue of continence:
Great fun can be had with all these cultural differences, and Puritans and Libertines have a wonderful time dogmatizing about and ignoring completely the complex interplay of aesthetics, common sense, and morality as they jockey to either raise a fashion to a granite truth of Sinai, or else eradicate the very possibility that modesty is a virtue.
Of course, continence, the virtue by which an engaged couple realizes they should not spend extended periods of time alone prior to marriage, is ridiculed by West as not being a virtue at all. Indeed, West has not only lied about the Catholic doctrine concerning the virtue of continence, he has even gone so far as to pretend Aquinas and JP II agree with him, even though both explicitly state that continence is, in fact, virtuous.

But the modesty and humility that is embodied in continence is precisely what Shea holds up as a virtue here. Indeed, Shea not only holds it up as a virtue, he condemns as "Libertine" those who would eradicate the virtues, as West has tried to do. West has long been chastised for refusing to acknowledge "the complex interplay of ... common sense and morality" and now Mark Shea adds himself to the list of those who take issue with West's approach.

By imitating and thereby parodying Westian errors and plagiarism, by interweaving Westian obsessions into his essay and soundly refuting them, Mark Shea has done a masterful and uncharacteristically subtle job of repudiating the theology of the man who has made millions by distorting Catholic theology.

My hat is off to Mark Shea.

UPDATE: Mark indicates that he didn't have Chris West in mind when he wrote the essay. He claims complete and utter ignorance of what West has to say.

This is kind of sad, since that means he really didn't know the Adamites were an early heresy, not a late one (thus seriously undermining part of his thesis), nor does this senior editor at Catholic Exchange seem to see a problem with lifting C.S. Lewis without attribution. So, while he is ignorant of West's teaching, he is sympatico in his use of research techniques.

In any case, although his comments are, like those of the High Priest, unintentional, they are completely on target. Even in his ignorance, Mark Shea demonstrates that West's "naked without shame" theology is absurd, so that portion of the essay stands. My apologies for incorrectly portraying Mark in a more positive light than he deserves.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining

Every cloud has a silver lining.
Every FDR wannabee recognizes that high unemployment, high business closure and high home foreclosure is good for the Democrats.

"I had one side of the aisle just sit on the sidelines as the crisis unfolded," Obama said. "And if we had taken that position, just thinking about what was good for my politics, millions more Americans would have lost their jobs and their businesses and their homes."
Now, let's ignore the fact that the "one side of the aisle" he complains about was actually not happy with the amount of money he was spending or the amount of taxation that his spendthrift habits will generate.

Let's just look at what Barack Hussein Obama said:

"If we... [were] just thinking about what was good for my politics, millions more Americans would have lost their jobs and their businesses and their homes. "

He publicly admits that Democrats make hay while the storm blows.
His party, according to him, is the party of doom and gloom that advances only when Americans lose.

Which is exactly what conservatives have been saying for the last ten years.

It's always nice when he brings people together, nicht wahr?

Friday, May 07, 2010

To Bomb or Not To Bomb

The great thing about liberals is, they aren't just spineless cowards, they are stupid spineless cowards.

Take for instance, Comedy Central . Why it was just a week ago that the creators of South Park dressed Mohammed up in a bear suit and had him prance around on the animated set as the main characters tried out various comedic lines (well, not really comedic, except to a five-year old... this is South Park, after all).

Much to the writers' chagrin, Comedy Central decided to ban the episode, lest Muslims be offended and blow them up. A subsequent episode had all references to Mohammed bleeped out.

Following this, a West Coast blogger and artist proposed a "Let's All Draw Mohammed Day" and then immediately withdrew the proposal as it went viral, lest she be blown up as well.

Their concerns were not without foundation.
Within days of the events, a massive car bomb was found scant feet from the headquarters of Viacom in New York's Times Square.
Viacom is the HQ for Comedy Central.

So, the brilliant minds at Comedy Central have now proposed to lampoon Jesus Christ.

Smooth move, Ex-Lax.
  • Do these jokers realize that Muslims consider Jesus Christ the third holiest prophet in history, second only to Abraham and Mohammed himself?
  • Do they understand that they consider him born of a virgin, and sinless his whole life (along with his mother), a true Muslim who lived the Muslim faith perfectly, just as Mohammed did?
  • Do they recognize that Jesus Christ is, according to Muslim theology, the one who will judge everyone on the Last Day?
  • Does anyone at Comedy Central read the news? Or read, period? Have they discovered how well Egypt tolerated Elton John's recent remarks about Jesus? Elton should thank his lucky stars he was banned. If he had gone to Egypt, he never would have gotten out alive.
So, YO!
Comedy Central freaks!
How do you think the Muslims will react to you making fun of the Muslim prophet Jesus?

That's right, friend.

They gonna blow you up.