Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
To all you married Catholics out there. . . Carry on.
We may not be so far apart after all. You said: "I agree that Catholics should go to the Internet, but I would say that they should go first to www.vatican.va and www.usccb.org before moving on to Internet sites that 'appear' to have but have no 'imprimatur' or any other way of determining their legitimacy in terms of being 'authentic Catholic teaching.'"
I mostly agree with this, except that I would not encourage Catholics to go first to the USCCB's site. This is not to say that the USCCB's site is not a useful resource. It certainly can be, and I check it somewhat regularly myself. Nevertheless, the USCCB offers no specific guarantee that its teachings are faithful to the Church. Therefore, anything from the USCCB must always be read in light of the authentic teaching of the Church. (For authentic teaching, I would refer to the various councils, canon law, the Catechism, as well as papal encyclicals.) And I'm not just being skeptical of USCCB, all teaching must be read in light of official Church teaching, whether the teaching is from an ostensibly Catholic web site, from an unnamed Vatican official, or from a speech or homily by the Pope himself.
Regarding your statement: "I disagree that the "Voter's Guide" inference about "non-negotiable issues" is "minor" compared to the fact that farm subsidies are an "important" component of Catholic social teaching," I think we will have to keep disagreeing.
Saying that an issue is non-negotiable does not mean that other issues are not important. What it means is that other issues are not equally important. I guess my question for you is whether you believe that any issues are non-negotiable?
Under Catholic teaching, I think it is clear that some issues are non-negotiable. For instance, the Church has clearly taught not only that abortion is intrinsically evil, but that society has an obligation to prohibit abortion through its laws. There is no room for disagreement regarding this.
The Church also teaches that helping the poor is an obligation of Christians and of society. One could even say that this is non-negotiable. I am unaware, however, of any political candidates who say that we shouldn't help the poor. Where the disagreement among candidates is as to the legitimate questions of how we should help the poor and what is the most effective way of helping the poor. These questions are legitimate because the Church offers no concrete answers to them.
Catholic Answers' Voter's Guide laid out five issues which it believed were non-negotiable. All of these issues were also issues in the 2004 Election (accordingly, there was no reason to include slavery, genocide, or other uncontested issues as non-negotiable issues). I don't think there should be any doubt that the issues Catholic Answers chose are non-negotiable. I believe the fairer question is whether there were other issues raised in the election which might also have been non-negotiable. This question aside, I think Catholic Answers' Voter's Guide did a commendable job and that it was firmly rooted in Church teaching.
You (and others) have repeatedly argued against the Voter's Guide based on the fact that it was unauthorized by the USCCB and by the Archdiocese of Detroit, and that Faithful Citizenship was the authorized document. The argument based on the authority of the USCCB and of the local ordinary is weak, however. As explained above, the USCCB and local ordinary can offer no guarantee that their teachings are faithful. Instead of defending Faithful Citizenship based on an argument from authority, it would be more useful to defend the substance and utility of Faithful Citizenship. I have yet to see such a defense, certainly not a convincing defense.
Monday, August 29, 2005
Pope Benedict XVI has long lamented that the West no longer loves itself--thus the decline of practicing Catholics and an embrace of relativism, secularism and positivism. His Holiness has also been forthright in his criticism of the emergence of Islam as a dominant force in Europe. No doubt such is the fallout from the loss of the Faith amongst laity and clergy alike in what was once Christendom. Not to mention the anti-child mentality which has swept the West and made people mere sex toys.
This is where Belloc is necessary. We must learn to love the West again. Its culture, its wine, its customs and morals. Everything from a kiss under the mistletoe at Christmas, to Holy Hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament, to an evening of singing songs and drinking wine until one is "heavy" (as Homer would put it)! It is the joy of being Catholic! The joy of seeing one's child take his first steps, the pride one takes in seeing a brave son go off to war, and the love that overtakes a husband and wife on their wedding day! All of these things are of the culture that the Greeks, the Romans and the Church produced--The West! Let us embrace the mos maiorum--the customs of our ancestors.
In so doing, let us also fight for the West! Not only militarily--which is nonetheless part of the struggle--but more important through our associations and resistance to the movements that seek to destroy us. We need groups that work at rebuilding the culture. The Belloc Society is one such group! (The Chesterton Society has been doing it now for awhile.) Let us start and read obscure journals that promote common sense, good wine and wholesome devotion. Let's let Ted Kennedy, Dick Durbin, the ACLU, NOW, Planned Parenthood and the other godless wonders know that they are not the only game in town. Let us have the courage of Belloc who said--at his first campaign rally:
"I am a Catholic. As far as possible, I go to Mass every day." He then reached into his pocket and pulled out an rosary. "This is a rosary." He said. "As far as possible, I kneel down and tell these beads, every day. If you reject me on account of my religion, I shall thank God that He has spared me the indignity of being your representative!"Let us revel in our heritage and truly come in contact with the Communion of Saints who are more alive to us today and are fellow travellers on our path to Rome and to the New Jerusalem--if only we would ask them.
Saturday, August 27, 2005
To those who are wondering about one or more of the smokers we have rotating randomly in the upper right image box, here's the list as of August 28, 2005: Bing Crosby, C.S. Lewis, Gen. MacArthur, Ronald Reagan, Mark Twain, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Evelyn Waugh (whose Brideshead Revisited character, Charles Ryder, is an obvious favorite of mine). If you have suggestions or comments about these fellow fumaristi, leave a comment.
UPDATE: Thanks to NN's suggestion, here's an RSS 2.0 feed url you can use: http://feeds.feedburner.com/fumare. If you are using an Atom reader, you can use http://fumare.blogspot.com/atom.xml. You can also use the fantastic Bloglines to do much the same thing, and can include FUMARE by just entering our blog's address.
UPDATE II: The new face is one of our own. Sort of an inside joke. But if you really want to know, send me an e-mail at email@example.com and we'll see what we can do to satisfy your curiosity!
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Parce nobis, Domine.
On this score, I had a wonderful lunch two weekends ago with Fr. James Schall, S.J. in a Georgetown pub (wonderful place--I highly recommend it to those in the Beltway). He has been the voice of reason and sanity on the War since the beginning. I recommend to all his Policy Review article--echoes of S. Augustine, common sense and the political realism that has marked the Church's thought for two millenia, but is now constantly confused by, what George Weigel has dubbed, the "functional pacifism" of recent ecclesial pronouncements on war.
The real question is whether this current situation constitutes a new war of civilizations. Much vested interest is devoted to the proposition that it is not. Our leaders, both civil and religious, have been loath so to designate it as a civilizational war. Islam is said to be a religion of peace. To suspect that it is a threat on a much broader scale is one of those things that must be classified as “secret writing.” It goes against the dominant religious mood, namely, ecumenism, and against the liberal mode, namely, tolerance, according to which all issues can be resolved without war. But ecumenism and tolerance are not in accord with a certain Muslim viewpoint: The world, in their missionary view, ought to be Muslim even if by war, even by suicide bombings. War can be precisely “holy.” Until we can understand that, we simply will not be able to grasp the essence of the problem.Further,
War is not the greatest evil, but at times the only means to prevent evil. This is true on both a large and small scale. What we are left with is that the effective use of force is still best and most properly left in the national state. This is not the war of all against all, but the war of those who can limit terrorism and tyranny when and where it occurs. The worst modern tyranny in the twenty-first century will not come from armies but from their lack, from the lack of capacity and courage to use them wherever they are needed to protect justice, freedom, and truth.
The real alternative to just war cannot be viable without including the necessity and ability to deal with those who do not know or listen to reason. Law enforcement does not work unless there is a more fundamental possibility of dealing with those who are bound by no concept of legal order as we understand it. There is no alternative to just war that does not depend on and include the possibility and the exercise, when reasonable, of just war.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
"We recognize the cultural and social barriers that people have," student Magda Madrigal says of not using the LSAT as an admissions requirement. "If you grew up with a nanny and a tutor and all the comforts of life, you would probably do better than the lady next to you who worked all her life. We would be keeping you in and her out, further marginalizing the community." Of course, by keeping her out, PCL would also avoid the injustice of accepting tuition money from poorly qualified students who have no chance at passing the bar exam. The latest statistics from the February 2005 California bar exam reveal that, of the 10 PCL alumni who were taking the bar exam for at least the second time, all 10 failed. The 1 first-time test taker from PCL also failed. In fact, no graduate of PCL has passed the California bar exam since July 1999, and that person was a repeat test-taker.
Apparently, a sincere commitment to the leftist ideology is not enough to make for a successful practicing lawyer. Thank God.
UPDATE: Phlogizo makes the point that PCl's logo somewhat resembles the communist symbol of the hammer and sickle. The logo also appears to have been executed in the style of Diego Rivera, the famous artist and communist. This would make sense, of course, since it is the PEOPLE'S college of law.
This photo was published in Stars and Stripes today. Might just be in the European edition, but Advocatus Militaris might want to check his copy anyway. Nice sticker on that little girl's back, eh? Looks a lot like the one advertised on in the column to the right, the one where sales will go to support Fumare.... Hmmm....
Monday, August 22, 2005
In 1957, African-American astronauts found themselves unable to break the color barrier at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Undaunted, and on a shoestring budget, they formed their own space program, the "Negro-American Space Society of Astronauts" (NASSA). Told in documentary style satirizing Ken Burns' documentary "The Civil War," this comedic short traces NASSA's rise and fall with a nod to the true history of the Negro Baseball Leagues.
NSFW caveat: Don't play in the presence of anyone overly-sensitive to race-related humor or a smattering of rough language. Judicial clerks might want to wait until they get home tonight too.
Hat tip: Jonah over at NRO's The Corner.
Sunday, August 21, 2005
Saturday, August 20, 2005
That's it. I was just moved to write, moved by memories of my own pilgrimage to WYD Denver in 1993. It is not hyperbole to say that these gatherings have the ingredients for changing lives. Let us pray that those in Cologne recognize those ingredients and make the best of them.
BTW, to those who read this on Saturday, EWTN will repeat the vigil at 8:00 EDT (things don't get going until about an hour and a half later, when they broadcast a tape-delayed address the Pope made to seminarians today). Then, at 3:00 a.m. EDT the mass will be broadcast live. It will be repeated twice on Sunday. You can get the full schedule (and even watch the broadcast online!) at EWTN.com.
Oh, and the music is really good!
UPDATE: Okay, so not all the music was good. I liked the clarinet version of Ave Maria at the vigil, though!
Friday, August 19, 2005
--Carl Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years
I recently read an abridged version of Carl Sandburg's famous work, Abraham Lincoln, and have concluded it is one of the best books I have read in the last ten years. Sandburg does a masterful job of capturing the enigmatic Lincoln: his melancholic temperament, his physical awkwardness, his loneliness, his shrewdness, his belief in the sentiments of the American people. One wonders how this seemingly incapable man arose from such humble origins to become president and hold the country together during the Civil War.
One of the most engaging parts of the books is Sandburg's account of the events surrounding Lincoln's assassination. Sandburg relates several haunting vignettes in which Lincoln seemingly predicted his own death the day he died. His description of Lincoln's last hours as he lay dying in bed is dark and palpable: "For Abraham Lincoln it was lights out, good night, farewell and a long farewell to the good earth and its trees, it's enjoyable companions, and the Union of States and the world Family of Man he had loved."
Sandburg's book is sometimes criticized for being "non-historical." He shuns footnotes, fails to cite his sources, and often indulges in anecdotal evidence which seems more like legend and myth than fact. It has been described as a hybrid work, a blend of both history and poetry; the quotes above give you a sense. In my opinion, though, the book is more enjoyable and more revealing precisely because it was not written by an orthodox historian, but by a poet, folklorist, and novelist. It is beautifully written. As for the lore written as history...there is truth even in myth, as Tolkien might say.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Sunday, August 14, 2005
Saturday, August 13, 2005
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
I have been a curious observer of Bud MacFarlane Jr. since learning of him about five years ago. Bud is a layman who has spread populist Catholic materials at Catholicity. Bud seemed to be the virtual mayor of that site for many years. His greatest visibility has come both through the three novels he has published, which he gives away, and the "Catholicity Message" -- a monthly e-mail message to the "citizens" of Catholicity.
As the erstwhile Mayor of Catholicity, Bud has been the cheerleader for a number of sometimes novel ideas, not the least of which was spearheading a campaign to give away books and other media. Among others: the E5 Men concept, promoting frequent prayer, telling jokes, and "preaching" on many topics of interest to the Catholic laity via his monthly messages. On this last point, I can recall Bud frequently drawing from his own life, using many stories involving his wife, Bai, and four boys. While I've often found Bud to be mildly entertaining, I never could quite figure out how he managed to support a family in a line of work that specialized in giving things away. While I never expected that Bud would live in a house of gold, I supposed that, like many who take risks on worthwhile ventures, Bud and his family were among those well attended by Divine providence.
Having imagined the real-world difficulties inherent in Bud's ventures, I wasn't too surprised a couple of years ago when his Catholicity messages became infrequent, and then ceased to be authored by him. I expected that he would turn up in some other venture before too long.
Several months ago, I learned of the more recent happenings of Bud MacFarlane Jr., and they were unexpected: Bud had filed for divorce. Though I never saw Bud as one conceived without sin, I did feel betrayed, knowing how strongly Bud had preached about the virtues of marriage both in his Catholicity messages, and even once to me personally.
Well, the next chapter is being written as we speak. Bai MacFarlane, having had a husband inexplicably leave her, the police forcibly remove her children from her custody, and her matrimonial bond pierced by the sword of no-fault divorce, is fighting with all of her might to save her marriage against the tide of easy divorce and her children from daycare. In addition to having secured the services of Ave Maria School of Law Professor Stephen Safranek, Bai is using her experiences to teach others about the ugly reality of modern divorce.
Her legal case has many interesting points and is proceeding in both civil and canonical courts.
Bai tells her story in this interview.
Bai's website on the scourge of no-fault divorce can be found here.
Professor Safranek's True Marriage Project is here. (A bit buggy on Firefox)
More to follow . . .
"If you would be a seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things."
"[I]ntellectual freedom is customarily defined by the mentality of free inquiry, the mentality which sees itself as not enslaved to any fixed conception but free to subject every doctrine to critical examination and possible rejection.
[F]ree inquiry is usually justified by its effect in the pursuit of truth. More truths will be discovered, and more surely held, it is said, if all beliefs are subject to question and possible reversal. But such an assertion, if it is not a "dogma," must be grounded on the actual examination of the issues upon which men have disagreed, a judgment where the truth lies in each case, and then a determination of whether and how much the principle of free inquiry was an advantage. It would then follow that the resolution of those issues--the test cases of intellectual progress--would be immune to criticism under the principle of free inquiry, since the value of the principle is predicated on their resolution.
A further difficulty is that the principle of free inquiry would be nullified by the achievement of its stated purpose. As long as a man is ignorant, it is consistent with his condition to remain open to both the affirmative and negative answers to the issue in question. But when and if he comes to know (which is the purpose of his investigation) the matter ceases to be doubtful to him, and his mind closes to the possibility that the opposite might be true. He is no longer free to doubt, except willfully. Thus by the assumed definition ignorance makes free, while knowledge enslaves."
--A Proposal for the Fulfillment of Catholic Liberal Education
Monday, August 08, 2005
Congrats to our alma mater! The fastest a law school can be fully accredited by the American Bar Association is five years. Ave Maria School of Law did it in minimal time! [Read the AMSL press release here.]
This story carries with it the foul stench that usually seems to emanate from the California Jesuit Province. Primarily, it is the sad history of Father James Chevedden, a Jesuit priest who committed suicide after contending with a mental disorder. But the story is also emblematic of the decay that results when a religious order becomes entrenched with homosexuals who refuse to recognize their condition as a "disorder."
The Provincial of the Jesuit order in California, Father Thomas Smolich, is apparently not prepared to admit that homosexual men are largely reponsible for the sexual abuse within his ranks: "From my first year as Provincial, I have said publicly and in print that we always have had and will continue to have gay or homosexually-oriented members of the Province who are exemplars of our way of life." How many children, seminarians, and priests have to be sacrificed to sexually active homosexual priests and religious before homosexuality is recognized as a fundamental cause of the problem, both within the Jesuit order and without? The fact that some homosexuals can be and have been faithful priests does not render the question moot. And the numbers do not lie: 81 percent of the minors abused by Catholics priests since 1950 were male. Of those males victims, 85.8 percent were 11 or older, meaning the vast majority of those cases fell outside the clinical definition of pedophilia.
We all struggle with our own sins and disorders. Where we go wrong is when we call the sin good and the disorder normal. Homosexuality is not some boon to the priesthood; it is an intrinsic disorder. And as a sexual disorder, one would expect that those who struggle with this condition find it more difficult to be chaste. This indeed appears to be the case. Although most priests are heterosexual, the vast majority of priestly sexual transgressions are homosexual in nature.
Pictured above: Brother Charles Connor, the Jesuit who allegedly abused Father Chevedden before he died.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
After all, Roberts did not mention his involvement in Romer v. Evans when he filled out the Senate Judicial Committee questionaire.
You can find the approximately 4 minute audio clip here.
I'm Still Not Sold on This Guy--I'm Not Looking for Metaphysical Certitude, Just a Little Common Sense!
The News Room
Three of the nine women to be ordained as Roman Catholic priests and deacons lay on the floor during a ceremony on a boat in international waters on the St. Lawrence Seaway near Gananoque, Ontario July 25, 2005. Nine North American Catholic women were ordained priests or deacons in what will amount to a test of Pope Benedict's determination to enforce the Vatican's ban on women's ordination.
Please stop your inaccurate captions regarding Catholic women who are being ordained. Once they are ordained, they will be something, but they will NOT be Roman Catholic Priests. Here's a good rule of thumb. If it has a vagina, it's not a Roman Catholic Priest. You can write captions like: "Roman Catholic women excommunicate selves by becoming ordained". Tony
Ordination to the Roman Catholic Priesthood requires two very simple things: 1. The subject being ordained must be Catholic. 2. The subject being ordained must be male. It's quite simple. And it's been the teaching of the Church for, oh, about 1,960 years (give or take). Claire H.
You can't call a terrorist who blows up a bus or train car a terrorist. But, you can call a person ordained outside the Catholic church a priest, even when they are not recognized by the church as a priest. What planet do you people come from? David T.
Lots and lots of readers caught us on this one. In the end, we had to correct captions for several pictures. As one reader said, “I could call myself a Reuters photographer, but that wouldn’t make me one." Editor
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Now, if it were not for the law-school requirements of most bars, we could have all saved a substantial wad of cash.
(1) If they do, they are willfully and intentionally dissenting from Catholic doctrine and thus are "wolves in sheep's clothing" and qualify for the Millstone of the Month Club.
(2) If they don't, then they are guilty of not safeguarding the doctrine of the Faith, failing as rulers and teachers--preferring instead a life of cocktail parties and golf outings--and qualifying for the Millstone of the Month Club.
Either way I mention this in demonstrating what practically happens when Bishops abdicate their responsibilities. Here it is with regard to the Fr. Mentula situation which is of interest to us Catholic lawyer-types:
Under the direction of Portland's archbishop at the time, William J. Levada, church attorneys tried to get the suit dismissed in 1994 on several grounds. In a motion, they argued that the "birth of the plaintiff's child and the resultant expenses ... are the result of the plaintiff's own negligence" because she engaged in "unprotected intercourse."
Well, I feel confident with the new CDF Head. Diogenes is also confident.
(N.B. "Indirect Discourse.")
Such wonderful citations.
Monday, August 01, 2005
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