Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!
Saturday, December 31, 2005
Now I am not a particularly sentimental guy, nor am I an optimist, but I buy into the message of the film because I think it taps into something true, even something distinctively Catholic. The film is honest about the ups and downs of life, the despair and joy that every person has been through. Although Bedford Falls seems like something taken from a Norman Rockwell picture, Capra does not neglect the "darker" side. Within the first opening shots, we see George Bailey's younger brother nearly die as he falls through the ice covering a pond, only to be saved by George, who loses some of his hearing in the process. Later, as George walks out of the bright sunshine, we see Gower the pharmacist dispensing medications for his customers while simultaneously downing a bottle of booze in an attempt to anesthetize his sorrow over his recently deceased son. There are so many other moments: The townspeople making a run on the Building & Loan on a rainy day during the Depression, which coincides with George's wedding day. As George assures his shareholders that things are not as dark as they seem, the wail of a passing ambulance causes his customers to turn and look out into the dreary wetness outside. The effect is akin to the cry of a baby in a concentration camp.
Jimmy Stewart's abilities were on full display in the film. His downhome charm served him well in the more "sentimental" scenes, but who can forget his desperate prayer at the bar after his life has hit rock bottom? Or his statement on the bridge: "I'm at the end of my rope." If the film is a tad too sentimental, it is more than compensated for by Capra's acknowledgement that sometimes the darkness obscures us.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Many readers of this blog have at least a passing familiarity with St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Ann Arbor, Michigan. On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, St. Thomas deidcated a new tabernacle, beautifully housed under a modest baldacchino. Those familiar with the prior layout will appreciate that Our Lord now resides at the center of the sanctuary. The detail both inside and out is exquisite and merits a stop on your next trip through town.
For reference, I'm including the portion of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal that addresses some of the issues surrounding the design and placement of a tabernacle:
The Place for the Reservation of the Most Holy Eucharist
314. In accordance with the structure of each church and legitimate local customs, the Most Blessed Sacrament should be reserved in a tabernacle in a part of the church that is truly noble, prominent, readily visible, beautifully decorated, and suitable for prayer.
The one tabernacle should be immovable, be made of solid and inviolable material that is not transparent, and be locked in such a way that the danger of profanation is prevented to the greatest extent possible. Moreover, it is appropriate that, before it is put into liturgical use, it be blessed according to the rite described in the Roman Ritual.
315. It is more in keeping with the meaning of the sign that the tabernacle in which the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved not be on an altar on which Mass is celebrated.
Consequently, it is preferable that the tabernacle be located, according to the judgment of the Diocesan Bishop,
1. Either in the sanctuary, apart from the altar of celebration, in a form and place more appropriate, not excluding on an old altar no longer used for celebration (cf. above, no. 303);
2. Or even in some chapel suitable for the faithful's private adoration and prayer and which is organically connected to the church and readily visible to the Christian faithful.
316. In accordance with traditional custom, near the tabernacle a special lamp, fueled by oil or wax, should be kept alight to indicate and honor the presence of Christ.
317. In no way should all the other things prescribed by law concerning the reservation of the Most Holy Eucharist be forgotten.
Original text and footnotes can be found here.
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
I came across a very interesting article, during some leisurely Christmastime reading. (Hat Tip: Ignatius Insight) The article seeks to understand our current war with Islamo-Fascist types, through the lens of an historical example from the Peloponnesian War.
Thucydides recounts the famous Athenian sack of Melos in his Peloponnesian War. Yet, prior to the actual slaughter of the men and enslaving of the women and children, there took place the famous Melian Dialogue. This account from one of the West's greatest historians, is a tour de force in political statecraft and appeal to virtue. In his article, Dr. Jose Yulo expounds upon the Melian Dialogue and analogizes, in an interesting way, to our current conflict with the Islamo-Fascist types. I found it to be refreshing and interesting. Give it a look.
Monday, December 26, 2005
For those who have not run across John Zmirak on the web yet, he is a rather irreverent and provocative Catholic who, when not expounding on Ropke (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1882926676/qid=1135622176/sr=8-2/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i2_xgl14/104-4731342-2169526?n=507846&s=books&v=glance )or finding suggestions for bad Catholics (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0824523008/qid=1135623612/sr=8-1/ref=pd_bbs_1/104-4731342-2169526?n=507846&s=books&v=glance) , spends his time pounding around Queens ( http://zmirak.blogspot.com/). In my book, both his interests and his locale recommend him.
Zmirak's latest addition to Vdare.com contains some interesting observations on the tensions inherent in Christianity, on what we owe our "blood," and what we owe our brothers in mankind.
The image of "post Christian elites eating lotuses by Utopia's dim light," oblivious to, if not in actual alliance with the Jihadist close by, was quite good. Of course, the title of his piece indicates that Jihadist are not the only threat to the West, and that we have our own fair share of lotus eaters here in the Americas, many of whom are entrenched in the Hierarchy, and some of whom (Egad!) may even contribute to this page.
Sunday, December 25, 2005
Merry Christmas to all Fumare contributors, readers, and your families.
May the Presence of our Incarnate God bring you joy today and every day.
UPDATE: Mr. Corey has posted the answer in the comments. It is the Nones, the prayer of the Canonical office said at 3 p.m., and is indicative of the hour of Crucifixion. Thanks, Joe.
Friday, December 23, 2005
What a real seminary psychological test should look like. (Tip: as always, Diogenes)
Which guy would you rather have as a priest? Perhaps if this test had been in place we would have a few more Fr. Bloomfields and wouldn't have this or this.
Oh pah-leeze. Read this. Then tell me the Jesuits don't know exactly what they're up to...and what message they wanted sent by publishing this ad.
[Original post here.]
UPDATE: OK, OK...Since Ryder posted the hilarious response of the Jesuits at America, and since Phlogizo did not render the original post Englishly, and further, since Devil's Advocate has demonstrated great endurance in waiting for the translation, here it is:
Original: Jesuitas amo: non illis mens subdola; spernunt munera; non fallax ambitio placet his.
"I love the Jesuits: there isn't a deceitful mind among them; they spurn gifts; sucking up doesn't please them."
With improved punctuation: Jesuitas amo non: illis mens subdola; spernunt munera non; fallax ambitio placet his.
"I do not love the Jesuits: a deceitful mind is amongst them; they don't spurn gifts; sucking up pleases them."
(Emmanuel, our King and our Law-giver, Longing of the Nations, yea, and salvation thereof, come to save us, O Lord our God!)
**This is the last day of the Great O Antiphons sung at Vespers. A device employed in literature throughout the centuries is the "acrostic." This is a clever way of expressing a truth by means of looking at the first letters of the sentences which make it up (I'm sure tyhe Oxford Dixtionary would provide a better definition). The O Antiphons draw upon the prophesies of Isaiah and Micah, and make a famous acrostic:
"ERO CRAS." "I shall be [here] tomorrow."
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Some of his writings are here and his biography is here. Read the introduction to this book here, that can be accessed for free here. The author, Hadley Arkes, dedicates the book to Uhlmann and gives him some praise in the acknowledgements.
Update: AM, I think you'll be pleased as punch to read this article of Uhlmann's.
(O King of the Nations, both desired one, and cornerstone,who makes both peoples one, come and save man,whom you shaped from the mud.)
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Or, that a traditional, Catholic, liberal education is good for an American statesman.
Alright, it sounds interesting. And Mel certainly hit one out of the park with his last film. He knows what he's doing. It's not like he's nuts, right?
Wrong. For those who are going watch the trailer, take a close look at about the 1:45 or 1:46 mark. If you pause and go frame by frame, you will see that Mel is -- undeniably -- nuts.
(hat tip: AintItCoolNews.com)
Downey's accussed of telling an assistant state attorney, in private and in public, that she "looked nice today" and "looked pretty" and asked her to dine with him, which she declined.
(O Dawn, Brightness of the everlasting light, Son of justice, come to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death!)
Hat tip: Bigdog34.
What is e-paper, and of what is it capable? My man, it's a brave new world!
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
The appeal, brought by the ACLU, was heard by a relatively conservative panel. Judge Richard Suhrheinrich, a senior judge who has apparently hired from a Third Tier Toilet known as Ave Maria School of Law, authored the opinion, which was joined by Judge Alice Batchelder. Here are a few gems:
"[W]e find unavailing the ACLU's own assertions that it finds the display offensive and that the display "diminishes [its] enjoyment of the courthouse." (Compl. ¶ 18.) Religion does not become relevant to standing in the political community simply because a particular viewer of a governmental display feels uncomfortable....Our concern is that of the reasonable person. And the ACLU, an organization whose mission is "to ensure that . . . the government [is kept] out of the religion business," does not embody the reasonable person.
We will not presume endorsement from the mere display of the Ten Commandments. If the
reasonable observer perceived all government references to the Deity as endorsements, then many of our Nation's cherished traditions would be unconstitutional, including the Declaration of Independence and the national motto. Fortunately, the reasonable person is not a hyper-sensitive plaintiff....Instead, he appreciates the role religion has played in our governmental institutions, and finds it historically appropriate and traditionally acceptable for a state to include religious influences, even in the form of sacred texts, in honoring American legal traditions.
[T]he ACLU makes repeated reference to "the separation of church and state." This extra-constitutional construct has grown tiresome. The First Amendment does not demand a wall of separation between church and state."
Given the well-known ideological split in this Circuit, it is not much of a leap to suggest that a different result might have been reached had the appeal been assigned to a more "hyper-sensitive" panel.
(O Key of David, and Sceptre of the house of Israel, that openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth, come to liberate the prisoner from the prison, and them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death.)
Monday, December 19, 2005
Here's an excerpt:
Finally, the pipe corresponds to the rational part of the soul, which explains why we tend to picture wise figures smoking pipes: the Oxford don surrounded by his great books, or Sherlock Holmes, who, in Doyle's original stories, actually smoked other sorts of tobacco as well, yet is almost always portrayed with a pipe. Unlike cigars and cigarettes, a pipe endures. Similarly, the questions of the philosopher far outlast the passing concerns of physical desires on the one hand and human ambitions on the other. Further, while the cigar is entirely masculine, the pipe has both masculine and feminine elements (the stem and the bowl). This corresponds to the philosopher's activity, which is both masculine and feminine: masculine in its pursuit of Lady Truth, feminine in its reception of anything that she discloses. Finally, the effect that the pipe has on others is analogous to the effect of philosophizing: the sweet fragrance of a pipe, like good philosophy, is a blessing to all who are near.Mr. Foley's analysis is incredibly insightful --- a must-read for all those who enjoy a good bowl of tobacco. Thank you, anonymous.
The breakthrough could lead to recreating the creatures.
A team led by Hendrik Poinar at McMaster University unlocked secrets of the animal's nuclear DNA by working with a well-preserved 27,000-year-old specimen from Siberia. Colleagues at Penn State sequenced 1 percent of the genome in a few hours and say they expect to finish the whole genome in about a year if funding is provided.
“More importantly our discovery means that recreating extinct hybrid animals is theoretically possible," Poinar said.
The scientists are already pondering the ethics involved.
"McMaster is already planning the first conference devoted to the ethics of bringing extinct organisms back to life," said Mamdouh Shoukri, vice-president research and international affairs. "We have an obligation as scientists to explore and maintain the responsible use of research."
Researchers admit, however, that creating an extinct beast from scratch is not something they know how to do yet.
“While we can now retrieve the entire genome of the woolly mammoth, that does not mean we can put together the genome into organized chromosomes in a nuclear membrane with all the functional apparatus needed for life," said Ross MacPhee, a researcher at the American Museum of Natural History who worked on the project. "We can't even do that with modern DNA."
Other researchers have expressed a desire to revive the mammoth by injecting frozen sperm DNA—if they can find some—into elephants. Over several generations, they'd create a creature that's 88 percent mammoth.
In August, an American research team proposed restoring elephants, cheetahs and other African animals to the American plains. And a Russian team has created a Pleistocene Park to investigate mysteries of the mammoth.
Full story at:
(O Root of Jesse, which standest for an ensign of the people, at Whom the kings shall shut their mouths, Whom the Gentiles shall seek, come to deliver us, do not tarry.)
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Tonight EWTN featured Dr. Charles Rice, Professor Emeritus of Notre Dame Law School and Gubernator Ejectus of the Ave Maria School of Law, speaking on the Incarnation from a legal perspective. He made the very interesting point that the civil disobedience of the Magi, in defying Herod's order to return to him and report the whereabouts of the child Jesus, manifested one of the many changes in the world brought about by the Incarnation, namely, the legitimate appeal to a higher law in the face of absolutistism. The Magi, says Dr. Rice, broke the human law because they were told to by God...proving -- for any who might question its merit -- the importance of obeying divine law first and foremost. Although the themes are familiar to those of us lucky enough to have taken Dr. Rice's jurisprudence course, the example was new to me.
I also thought Dr. Rice did a great job choosing the wardrobe for the shoot.
(Move the colon from its current place to after "non"; likewise, do the same with the second semi-colon--placing it between "non" and "fallax." This should give you a more accurate sentiment. Especially in light of this.)
( O Adonai, and Ruler of the house of Israel, Who didst appear unto Moses in the burning bush, and gavest him the law in Sinai, come to redeem us with an outstretched arm!)
Saturday, December 17, 2005
(O Wisdom that comest out of the mouth of the Most High, that reachest from one end to another, and orderest all things mightily and sweetly, come to teach us the way of prudence!)
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Based on some of the comments from the past few days (both here and at Whoseamsol) questioning Dean Dobranski's and Fr. Orsi's allegiance to the Catholic Church, I decided that I should pre-empt any such comments directed at Sine Metu or myself by pointing out what I am sure has become obvious to most of you: Due to our questions on the factual premise of the Church's teaching on the death penalty, Sine Metu and I are Neo-Con, Republicans who don't take take our Catholicism seriously.
Now I won't speak for Sine Metu, but my secret conspiracy to elect Republicans and execute criminals runs far deeper than just than just the issue of capital punishment. I also support President Bush's war in Iraq as being compatible with Just War Theory, support capitalism and smaller government (a.k.a. "not caring for the poor"), and dislike the United Nations.
Intead of refuting this Neo-Con, Republican label (which is impossible to refute), I would like to pre-emptively accept this honor (we neo-cons do everything pre-emptively) and join the distinguished company of George Weigel, Michael Novak, Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, the Acton Institute, National Review, Fr. Frank Pavone, and the recently inducted Fr. Orsi and Dean ("Cardinal") Dobranski.
For others who would like to claim the Neo-Con Republican label, joining is easy. All one needs to do is be able to distinguish between Church teaching which declares something as intrinsically evil and something which is sometimes evil depending on the circumstances. An easy way to gain entry is by raising questions as to the application of Church teaching on Just War, Capital Punishment, and Capitalism. If you can do this, you just might be a Neo-Con, Republican.
Inducting others is even easier. If you disagree with a fellow Catholic in an area which requires the application of prudential judgment, simply raise your arm in his/her (probably "his") direction, extend your index finger in a pointing motion, and boldly state with an air of disgust, "Neo-Con, Republican."
"In Germany, the Nazis came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speakup because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak for me."
If we do not speak up now with a collective voice and condemn what is going on at AMSL, we will have only ourselves to blame, and perhaps, no school to even call our alma mater.
Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm - without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically non-existent."
Back to the Foxnews story, the ex-fugitive explains that his escape was made possible through human error:
"Once I got there and seen how relaxed it was -- they sit ... and play video games, they sleep on the job," he said. "The sheriff said it was human error and nothing is wrong with their policies. I have to disagree."
Thompson fled a week after he was re-sentenced to death for the 1998 shooting deaths of his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend.
After Thompson met with an attorney in a small interview cell, he slipped out of his handcuffs and orange jail jumpsuit and left the unlocked room.
He refused to reveal how he got a handcuff key in the Harris County Jail. "I'm not a snitch. I'll take that one to the grave with me."
Thompson waived a badge fashioned from his prison ID card to get past several deputies.
"Then I walked out the front door," Thompson said. "It was the hardest thing in the world to not run. I walked down the steps, down the street, around the corner, stripped to my jogging clothes and went on the jogging path."
It seems to me that the possibility for human error always exists. There are ways to minimize the risk of human error, but I'm not sure how well they comport with human dignity. The ex-fugitive explains:
Thompson said he expects to pay for his escape by getting no leniency from Texas courts in his legal appeal. He said prison officials asked if he would try another escape.
"I said, 'I don't think there's any holes in your security here,'" he said. "I'm pretty much resolved to my fate. Concrete box 23 hours a day. Just sit in there and think about how they're going to kill you."
[emphasis added]Putting questions aside about the dignity of keeping a prisoner in a concrete box for 23 hours a day, the other interesting thing about the concrete box, is that that the technology is not a new one. It therefore seems odd for the Catechism to premise its teaching on the idea that prison's are somehow safer "today."
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
To what was [Mary] asked to consent? First of all, to the descent of the Holy Spirit, to surrender her littleness to the Infinite Love, and as a result to become the Mother of Christ.
It was so tremendous, yet so passive. She was not asked to do anything herself, but to let something be done to her. She was not asked to lead a special kind of life, to retire to the temple and live as a nun, to cultivate suitable virtues or claim special privileges.
She was simply to remain in the world, to go forward with her marriage to Joseph, to live the life of an artisan's wife, just what she had planned to do when she had no idea that anything out of the ordinary would ever happen to her. It almost seemed as if God’s becoming man and being born of a woman were ordinary. . . .
Outwardly [Mary's daily life] would not differ from the life she would have led if she had not been chosen to be the Bride of the Spirit and the Mother of God at all!
She was not even asked to live it alone with this God who was her own Being and whose Being was to be hers.
No, He asked for her ordinary life shared with Joseph. She was not to neglect her simple human tenderness, her love for an earthly man, because God was her unborn child. On the contrary, the hands and feet, the heart, the waking, sleeping and eating that were forming Christ were to form Him in service to Joseph.
Yes, it certainly seemed that God wanted to give the world the impression that it is ordinary for Him to be born of a human creature.
Well, that is a fact. God did mean it to be the ordinary thing, for it is His will that
Christ shall be born in every human being's life and not, as a rule, through extraordinary things, but through the ordinary daily life and the human love that people give to one another.
Our Lady said yes. She said yes for us all. . . . Our Lady said yes for the human race.
Each one of us must echo that yes for our own lives.
We are all asked if we will surrender what we are, our humanity, our flesh and blood, to the Holy Spirit and allow Christ to fill the emptiness formed by the particular shape of our life.
The surrender that is asked of us includes complete and absolute trust; it must be like Our Lady's surrender, without condition and without reservation. . . .
What we shall be asked to give is our flesh and blood, our daily life--our thoughts, our service to one another, our affections and loves, our words, our intellect, our waking, working and sleeping, our ordinary human joys and sorrows--to God.
To surrender all that we are, as we are, to the Spirit of Love in order that our lives may bear Christ into the world--that is what we shall be asked.
Our Lady has made this possible. Her fiat was for herself and for us, but if we want
God's will to be completed in us as it is in her, we must echo her fiat.
-------* Trivia buffs may be interested to know that Caryll Houselander appeared as a minor charactor in the hit BBC series Reilly: Ace of Spies, starring Sam Neill.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
UPDATE: The latest information, which explains a bit more what happened, is available here.
Monday, December 12, 2005
The church would be rightly criticized if it deliberately allowed men to enter the priesthood who had a strong erotic attraction to children or men who were heterosexual but could not or had not completely resolved to live celibate lives for whatever reason. Yet, many accuse the church of discrimination when it seeks to ban gay men, especially because those men will be in close contact with other males and, when ordained, may often be involved with pastoral work with teen boys.
New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, eh? I wonder how it's going to do in the rest of the country.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
RITUS BREVISSIMUS RECITANDI BREVIARUM, PRO ITINERANTIBUS ET SCRUPULIOSIS
Dicatur: Pater et Ave.
A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M,
N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z.
Tempore paschali, dicitur Alleluia.
Deus, qui ex viginti quatuor litteris totam sacram scripturam et breviarum istud componi voluisti, junge, disjunge et accipe ex his viginti quatuor litteris matutinas eum laudibus, primam, tertiam, sextam, novam, vesperam et completorium. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Signat se dicens: Sapienti pauca.
V. In pace in idipsum.
R. Dormiam et requiescam.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
The movie is faithful to the book (with only small differences) and accordingly, the Christian themes and symbolism are clearly present. Therefore, it should come as no surpise to those who love the book that the movie is also very entertaining.
Just to post a interesting letter that forbodes the fate of the law school planned by those with fresh blood on their hands. What a bunch of Keystone cops!
[Text of Letter removed by request. See puff of smoke below, 12.11.05 - 3:40 pm ]
Friday, December 09, 2005
"Despite its overarching Christian themes, Narnia delivers an entertaining yarn."
Wow. Something can be Christian and entertaining?
Thursday, December 08, 2005
It is generally believed that St. Thomas Aquinas denied that Mary was free from original sin. In the Third Part of the Summa Theologiae, St. Thomas writes:
"If the soul of the Blessed Virgin had never incurred the stain of original sin, this would be derogatory to the dignity of Christ, by reason of His being the universal Saviour of all.... But the Blessed Virgin did indeed contract original sin, but was cleansed therefrom before her birth from the womb." Q. 27, A. 2, ad 2.
There is some debate, however, as to whether St. Thomas consistently maintained this position throughout his life, or even as to whether he ever held the position at all. In his Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, written before the Summa, St. Thomas wrote that Mary was "immune from original and actual sin." The Catholic Encyclopedia, citing to numerous treatises dating back to the 1800's, notes:
"Much discussion has arisen as to whether St. Thomas did or did not deny that the Blessed Virgin was immaculate at the instant of her animation, and learned books have been written to vindicate him from having actually drawn the negative conclusion."
Thomas Mullaney, a Dominican, has suggested that St. Thomas, who was born near Naples where the feast of Mary's immaculate conception had been celebrated for generations, initially believed in the Immaculate Conception, but later developed an attitude of caution under the influence of the Church in Rome, which did not celebrate the feast.
I am ignorant of the details of the debate. I only note that if St. Thomas truly denied the truth of the Immaculate Conception, we know from his final words that he, unlike so many modern theologians, would not pertinaciously cling to his error.
"If in this world there be any knowledge of this sacrament stronger than that of faith, I wish now to use it in affirming that I firmly believe and know as certain that Jesus Christ, True God and True man, Son of God and Son of the Virgin Mary, is in this sacrament...I receive Thee, the price of my redemption, for Whose love I have watched, studied and labored. Thee have I preached; Thee have I taught. Never have I said anything against Thee: if anything was not well said, that is to be attributed to my ignorance. Neither do I wish to be obstinate in my opinions, but if I have written anything erroneous concerning this sacrament or other matters, I submit all to the judgment and correction of the Holy Roman Church, in whose obedience I now pass from this life."
FROM: Charles E. Rice, Gubernator Ejectus
TO: AMSL Community
SUBJ.: Board of Governors
DATE: December 8, 2005
The Board of Governors, at a telephone meeting on December 7th, approved the two-term limit, created an Advisory Board and abolished the office of Life Governor; there were two dissenting votes. As a result, I have ceased to be a Governor. All is not lost, however. I did emerge from the meeting with a new and more impressive gubernatorial title: Gubernator Ejectus.
The fact that my new title is self-conferred does not diminish its importance or the warm feeling it generates. Besides, it really is a lifetime appointment, beyond the capacity of any board to abolish. And it is in Latin. It is, definitely, a step up.
The purpose of this memo is not to celebrate my new title. Nor is it to analyze that Board meeting, which included comical overtones arising from the overpowering by static of the telephone conferencing system arranged by AMSL. That resulted in a general inability of the participants to understand each other until the meeting was transferred to another conference site for the concluding portion and votes. I mention that problem only because, as I later learned from the phone operator, the entire problem was apparently caused by a mouse who fatally intruded himself into the telephone relay box on our very own street in Mishawaka, Indiana. The motives of that former mouse are unclear, whether obstructive or perhaps suicidal in reaction to what he was hearing. I mention this to certify that I did not put him up to it. I don’t even know his name. But he did give his all for AMSL. He deserves to be recognized and commemorated.
The main point of this memo, however, is not to discuss the above. It is rather to express my appreciation to you all, students, faculty, staff and alumni of AMSL, for your many acts of kindness, for your support and especially for your prayer. Today especially, but also every day, let us continue in a union of prayer to the Immaculate Conception for Ave Maria School of Law and for all the members of its community. I am in your debt. Thank you. And God bless you.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Acton University is a unique, four-day exploration of the intellectual foundations of a free society. Guided by a distinguished, international faculty, Acton University is an opportunity to deepen your knowledge and integrate rigorous philosophy, Christian theology and sound economics.
June 13-17, 2006
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Monday, December 05, 2005
That's right Painkiller Jane is set to air this Saturday, December 10th at 9 (8 o'clock central). Set the TiVo! If you prefer the big screen, then may I recommend Aeon Flux, with none other than the man-eating Monster star, Charlize Theron. Heck, why stop there? Go rent Tomb Raider, Resident Evil, Charlie's Angels, The Long Kiss Goodnight, G.I. Jane, Kill Bill or break out your tapes of Alias, Dark Angel, or Zena: Warrior Princess.
Where is this all going? The Media Awareness Network has a Female Action Heroes lesson plan for your 6th to 8th grader that helps "students identify stereotypical images of girls and women as represented by female action heroes." It's full of great activities, like this one:
Make a list of the various positive characteristics your female or male action hero should have. Some examples might be: girls and women leading others, fighting for important causes, showing bravery, caring about their female friends, and being interested in matters other attracting the attention of boys or men. Examples of positive characteristics for boys and men might be taking care of others, finding ways of solving problems other than fighting, and being sensitive and caring.
The role of protector is an aggressive position, in direct conflict with the idea of the feminine as passive. For this reason, male superheroes outnumber female heroes in the comic book realm, because a woman cannot fulfill social expectations and still perform the duties required of a superhero. The women are often relegated to the roles of girlfriend or mother, figures in need of protection and the occasional rescue. Powerpuff Girls neatly sidesteps this uncomfortable dichotomy by purging the citizens of Townsville of any social expectations. Thus the Girls are respected and admired for their role as resident superheroes, while still being adored for being sweet and caring little girls.
I agree that pre-natal testing does help and prepare those loving parents who will give of themselves and care for a disabled child. The sad fact, however, is that with a society creating selfish individuals, coupled with the medical profession's prevailing presumption in favor of aborting kids with Downs, 9 out of 10 mothers aren't loving enough to support life.
At this moment, the survey attached to the article is currently 2 to 1, or 66%, in favor of abortion. The survey also allows comments to be posted and viewed. The comments reveal the two sides of the debate, often with brutal honesty:
One on side:
"I don't understand why it matters if a baby has Down syndrome. That gives us no reason to destroy it. I'm a teenager, but how secure can I feel when people don't consider someone human, just because of some physical problem. Each person is unique and needed!"
On the other side:
"Let's be practical. I am not giving up 80% or more of my life to care for a Down Syndrome baby that will be depend on me through his/her adult life. . . . Let my be as upfront as possible......This is the 'Me' generation, and with health costs increasing endlessly, who has the money."
Saturday, December 03, 2005
Watching this film has renewed in me and, I think, in everyone who had the gift of knowing [Pope John Paul II], a sense of profound gratitude to God for having given the Church and the world a Pope of such an exalted human and spiritual stature . . . Over and above any specific evaluation, I feel the film constitutes further proof . . . of the love people hold for Pope John Paul, and of their great desire to remember him, to see him again, to feel him close.There have been two other films about our last Holy Father shown on television since August, the most recent just days ago on ABC. Word is that this film is the best of the bunch, and well worth your time on Sunday and Wednesday.
Beyond its superficial and emotive aspects, this phenomenon clearly has an intimate spiritual dimension, which we here in the Vatican see every day watching the multitudes of pilgrims who come to pray, or just to pay rapid homage, at his tomb in the Vatican Grottoes. That affective and spiritual bond with John Paul II, which became even closer during the period of his final illness and death, was not interrupted. It has never been broken because it is a bond between souls, between the great soul of the Pope and the souls of innumerable believers; between his fatherly heart and the hearts of countless men and women of good will who recognized in him a friend, and a defender of man, of truth, of justice, of freedom and of peace. All over the world, many people admired in him above all the coherent and generous witness to God.
The film stars both Carey ("as you wish") Elwes and Jon Voight (right) in the title role. For more info about the film, which enjoyed unprecendented access to the Vatican and other Catholic landmarks for filming, click here. Be sure to take a look at the video clips, too. There is one which really brought my emotions to the surface: a re-creation of a 1979 visit the newly-elected Pope had with the youth in Krakow, Poland, who had gathered under the window where he was staying in the Archbishop's residence (the same in which he had lived as archbishop, and where he had taken refuge as a young man during WWII). Hearing the large group of youth chanting outside and seranading their beloved Pope, he comes to the window to be with them and to encourage them. The Pope had such meetings with the young people of Krakow in his later visits to Poland as well, and years later many of those same Poles were back in the same place, holding candlelight vigil during Pope John Paul II's final hours. Those who saw this on television in April as it was happening will be all the more moved by the scene from the film.
When you've had a chance to see the film, and particularly if you agree with Pope Benedict XVI that it was a worthy project, contact CBS by scrolling to the bottom of their homepage and clicking on the "feedback" link. Let them know that this film was appreciated, and encourage them to invest in more worthwhile programming.
Readers of the New Oxford Review will be familiar with one of its mainstays, Dr. Mitchell Kalpakgian. (Dr. Kalpakgian, incidentally is the father of Greg Kalpakgian, AMSL Class of 2004.) An accomplished professor, author and commentator, Dr. Kalpakgian is one of those rare intellectuals who is as humble and magnanimous as he is a high-powered intellect. Over the years, Kalpakgian has written numerous articles on the habits, customs and culture that the West has produced. Notably memorable are his essays on "hospitality," "on the fault of being nice," and "the lost art of letter writing," just to name a few. He is an accomplished professor with over 35 years of teaching English at the college level.
I have long wanted to write a review of these two delightful books. Unfortunately my own lack of literary talent would not do justice to such wonderful books. Nevertheless, I will attempt to persuade you to buy these for Christmas!!
The Mysteries of Life in Children's Literature is the product of years of study by Doc Kalpakgian. He began exploring children's literature incidentally while attending a post-graduate seminar on evil funded by the Mellon Foundation. What was incidental initially for him was in reality providential and beneficial for the world. The Mysteries of Life echoes Chesterton's sentiment in "The Ethics of Elfland" from Orthodoxy: "Everything I know I learned in the nursery." Kalpakgian shows how children's literature is both exciting, fanciful and inspired. The great virtues that children's literature inculcate lead us to God. The chapter names say it all: "The Mystery of Beauty," "The Mystery of Friendship," "The Mystery of Wishes," etc. Allow me to sum this book up by quoting the author at the end of his Preface:
...[T]his book is written for everyone who loves wisdom and truth in its purity and simplicity and desires the wisdom of the ages and the proverbial truths that have been transmitted through the living stream of tradition, folklore, fairy tales, myths, allegories, parables and great adventure stories. For children's classics--along with Homer, Virgil, Dante and Shakespeare--belong to that body of knowledge that Matthew Arnold described as "the best that has been thought and said."
An Armenian Family Reunion is a delightful book on the glories and beauty of family life. You don't have to be Armenian to appreciate and love this book. The structure of the book is delightful. It is about a family who gets together for a week and 1/2 reunion and decides that each night a different family member will tell a story about the family. The beauty of this book is that the young people in the family are skeptical at first, but in the end realize that the tradition, wisdom and love that is transmitted through these stories are more valuable and rich than anything learned in the classroom. This book should bring you back to the love that God intended for marriage and family life, and I recommend reading it with your spouse or spouse-to-be! (
To [Advocatus Militaris and Mrs. AM] and children:
May this book make you fall in love with life all over again and make you forever grateful for the joys, adventures, and comedy of family life in all its abundance.
I can't think of a better Christmas gift than these books, and I offer a challenge to other bloggers who read this: post these on your blogs and talk up these wonderful books! You will be enriched for it! Dr. K is certainly a champion of the culture of life and these books are a profound contribution to building up that culture.
Friday, December 02, 2005
Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, who expressed strong opposition to abortion rights two decades ago, pledged Friday that his personal views on the subject "would not be a factor" in his rulings, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said.
Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said Alito had told him in a private meeting that "with respect to his personal views on a woman's right to choose ... that is not a matter to be considered in the deliberation on a constitutional issue of a woman's right to choose. The judicial role is entirely different."
My comments: I love it! Specter gets the cover he needs to vote for Alito, and Alito says exactly what Antonin Scalia would say.
But wait; what's this? "Fran Walsh [Jackson's life partner] told me my Denham has to have a little bit of Willy Loman from Death Of A Salesman to him."
Life partner? What in Middle Earth is that? How could a man of such insight fail to see the splendor of that true commitment, the union that is so much more than a partnership. "Life partner" sounds so empty, like "friend with benefits."
Say it ain't so, Peter.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
And, here is an excellent present for anyone of Hebrew persuasion.
(A tip of the hat to Buttercup.)
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