noun, the most important part of a thing, the essence; from the
Latin cor, meaning heart.
The Views Featured
(links to offsite pages)
and news articles
Suicide of the Palestinians (David Gelernter)new
We ought to face squarely the origins of the Palestinian descent
into barbarism. In July 2000, Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak
made a peace offer that stunned Israel and the world: Israel would
re-divide Jerusalem would turn over large pieces of its ancient
capital to the same people who had destroyed its synagogues, desecrated
its cemeteries, and banned Jews from entering when they last ran
the show. Arafat rejected the offer. Then in September 2000 the
new wave of murderous violence began, supposedly triggered by Ariel
Sharons visit to the Temple Mount.... Everyone knows about
Munich, September 1938: Britain and France generously donate a big
slice of Czechoslovakia to Hitler, in exchange for peace with
honor, peace in our time, and the Brooklyn Bridge.
Many people know about the Kristallnacht pogrom, November 1938:
Germanys approach to the Jews turns from mere oppression to
bloodthirsty violence. Kristallnacht was triggered by
the murder of a German diplomat by a deranged Jew. But some (not
all) historians point out the obvious: A leading cause of Kristallnacht
was Munich itself. Hitler read the Munich agreements as a proclamation
by England and France stating: We are weak; you have nothing
to fear; do what you like. The analogy is not close, just
close enough. Israel is no Czechoslovakia and was not sold down
the river. Barak made his offer freely and in good faith. But to
a significant number of Palestinians, the offer obviously said:
We are weak; you have nothing to fear; attack. Appeasement
doesnt merely fail to prevent catastrophe, it provokes catastrophe.
Peace of My Mind (Dave Shiflett)new
Have you slapped a pacifist today? If not, get to it. Its
one thing to protest a war undertaken in some remote jungle you
have to take a long flight to, and whose purposes may be a bit gauzy.
Its quite another when the enemy is dive-bombing New York
and Washington. The fact that our enemies are determined to return
the world to the seventh century and force our women to dress in
sacks makes the anti-war position all the more controversial. There
seems little choice but to douse these people with the hot oil of
ridicule. At the outset, it should be pointed out that these contemporary
pacifists are not cut from the same cloth as historys grand
Mahatmas, whose neutrality may have sometimes been in error but
who were people of large and often courageous spirit.... Not so
the new breed, which appears to be largely made up of self-absorbed
snots. When the heat shows up, they run. If they get jugged, they
get someone to post bail, preferably on Daddys AmEx card.
Some do a bit of car-burning and looting on the side. They blossom
most brilliantly in the spotlight, which they are forever seeking,
and they hail from the expected provinces: Hollywood, the Ivy League,
the Ivory Tower, Trust Fund City. Many hold dual citizenship.
Death penalty deters scores of killings (Paul Rubin)new
Executions are always controversial, and there are always
debates about whether states should use the death penalty. But this
debate cannot proceed rationally unless we fully understand the
advantages and disadvantages of execution.... One conservative version
of our model finds that each execution deters an average of 18 homicides,
with a range of between 8 and 28 murders deterred by each execution.
Other variants find even larger numbers of prevented murders....
We as a society might decide that we want to eliminate capital punishment.
But this should be an informed decision, and should consider both
the costs and benefits of executions. Our evidence is that there
are substantial benefits from executions and, thus, substantial
costs of changing this policy.
A dangerous obsession (John Derbyshire)new
In a civilized liberal democracy, majorities owe certain things
to harmless minorities: tolerance, civility, and the rights granted
in the Constitution freedom of speech, assembly, etc. However,
it seems to me that minorities owe something to the majority in
return: mainly, a proper respect for their tastes, beliefs, and
sensibilities, and a decent restraint in challenging them, if there
are some reasonable grounds for challenging them. This contract
imposes some costs on minorities, of course, but I think they should
look on those costs as the price of the tolerance they enjoy. Is
that patronizing? Well, then add being patronized to
the list of costs none of which, in any case I can think
of in American society today, is much more arduous or oppressive
than that. There are, after all, reciprocal costs on the majority
when they make those accommodations.... I dont see any danger
at all that majorities will ride roughshod over minorities unless
restrained by wise, omniscient elites. I do, though, see the opposite
danger: That by allowing themselves to be browbeaten by those elites
into yielding on every single point of accommodation demanded by
every loud minority, the majority will find at last that they have
no institutions, no traditions, no moral landmarks, no common understandings
left, and will be adrift in a wasteland of moral relativism, naked
to the cold, heartless winds of intellectual fashion.
There Be a Decent Left? (Michael Walzer)new
A few left academics have tried to figure out how many civilians
actually died in Afghanistan, aiming at as high a figure as possible,
on the assumption, apparently, that if the number is greater than
the number of people killed in the Towers, the war is unjust. At
the moment, most of the numbers are propaganda; there is no reliable
accounting. But the claim that the numbers matter in just this way,
that the 3120th death determines the injustice of the war, is in
any case wrong. It denies one of the most basic and best understood
moral distinctions: between premeditated murder and unintended killing.
And the denial isnt accidental, as if the people making it
just forgot about, or didnt know about, the everyday moral
world. The denial is willful: unintended killing by Americans in
Afghanistan counts as murder. This cant be true anywhere else,
for anybody else.
man who knows too much (Jonathan Tobin)new
CNN reporter Steve Emerson was stuck in Oklahoma City on Christmas
1992 with nothing to do and wandered by the citys Convention
Center, where a gathering of the Muslim Arab Youth Association was
taking place. Inside, he found books preaching Islamic Jihad,
books calling for the extermination of Jews and Christians, even
coloring books instructing children on subjects, such as How
to Kill the Infidel. Later, after listening to speeches
urging jihad against the Jews and the West from luminaries such
as the head of the Hamas terrorist group, Emerson called his contacts
in the FBI to inquire whether they were aware of this bizarre meeting
in the American heartland. They were not. A year later, Emerson
attended a similar Muslim conference in Detroit that included representatives
from Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terror groups. It
also included an appearance from a befuddled senior FBI agent. When
a member of the hostile audience asked the agent for advice on how
to ship weapons overseas, Emerson relates that the G-man said, matter-of-factly,
that he hoped any such efforts would be done in conformance
with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms guidelines.
Apparently, the FBI official had attended the radical conference
under the mistaken impression that it was some kind of Rotary
Core of Muslim Rage (Thomas Friedman)new
It has to do with the contrast between Islams self-perception
as the most ideal and complete expression of the three great monotheistic
religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam and the
conditions of poverty, repression and underdevelopment in which
most Muslims live today. As a U.S. diplomat in the Middle East said
to me, Israel not Iraq, not India is a constant
reminder to Muslims of their own powerlessness. How could
a tiny Jewish state amass so much military and economic power if
the Islamic way of life not Christianity or Judaism
is Gods most ideal religious path? When Hindus kill Muslims
its not a story, because there are a billion Hindus and they
arent part of the Muslim narrative. When Saddam murders his
own people its not a story, because its in the Arab-Muslim
family. But when a small band of Israeli Jews kills Muslims it sparks
rage a rage that must come from Muslims having to confront
the gap between their self-perception as Muslims and the reality
of the Muslim world.
From our friends (?) the Saudis:
Dispatch No. 354: Saudi Government Daily: Jews Use Teenagers
Blood for Purim Pastries (MEMRI)new
In an article published by the Saudi government daily Al-Riyadh,
columnist Dr. Umayma Ahmad Al-Jalahma of King Faysal University
in Al-Dammam, wrote on The Jewish Holiday of Purim.
Following are excerpts of the article: This
holiday has some dangerous customs that will, no doubt, horrify
you, and I apologize if any reader is harmed because of this....
For this holiday, the Jewish people must obtain human blood so that
their clerics can prepare the holiday pastries. In other words,
the practice cannot be carried out as required if human blood is
not spilled!!.... For this holiday, the victim must be a mature
adolescent who is, of course, a non-Jew that is, a Christian
or a Muslim. His blood is taken and dried into granules. The cleric
blends these granules into the pastry dough; they can also be saved
for the next holiday. In contrast, for the Passover slaughtering,
about which I intend to write one of these days, the blood of Christian
and Muslim children under the age of 10 must be used, and the cleric
can mix the blood [into the dough] before or after dehydration....
Crescent and the Gun (Brian Saint-Paul)new
The problem, then, is not in the Koran itself but in those
who are free to twist it. Because theres no one to interpret
the book authoritatively, its vulnerable to any charismatic
leader willing to abuse it to justify his personal hatred. The sad
result is clear for all to see: The Korans command not to
harm civilians is ignored; its prohibition against suicide is interpreted
away by suicide bombers; its call for freedom in worship is cast
aside in many Islamic states; its order to stand up for the oppressed
is ignored by those too afraid to speak out against the persecution
of non-Muslims. Islam has the Koran, but the Koran has no interpreter.
An analogous situation is in Protestant Christianity, where the
inheritors of the Reformation gather around the call of sola scriptura
(Scripture alone). Different Protestant denominations read the Bible
in different ways, with no single, authoritative interpreter. Why
then dont we see fringe Protestants strapping bombs around
their waists and walking into crowded malls? The answer brings us
back to the different concepts of justice. In Islam, following the
Old Testament model, the attacker can be justly destroyed. In Christianity,
following the just-war theory, the attacker must be repelled
but only in proportion to the attack. Ultimately, the violence perpetrated
by Muslim fringe groups has two roots: first, the Korans command
to fight the oppressor, and second, the lack of a single voice to
identify who that oppressor is. Without that authority, any group
any people, any nation can be considered an oppressor
by those who feel theyve been wronged. The result, too often,
The American Way of Life? (Wired News)new
In the six months since the Sept. 11 attacks, Americans may
not have exactly embraced a surveillance society, but they appear
to have grown to accept portions of it. A Zogby poll conducted last
December says that 80 percent of respondents favored video monitoring
on public places such as street corners. Especially in the dark
days after the Pentagon was hit, the White House targeted, the Capitol
anthraxed, and the World Trade Center leveled, that public reaction
was predictable. In national emergencies, the uneasy relationship
between freedom and order edges toward greater restrictions on individual
liberty. But Bushs war on terror is not a traditional military
conflict with a clear end that can be met after, say, U.S. soldiers
capture a city, eliminate a Taliban command post or even
snare Osama bin Laden himself. Bush and other top administration
officials repeatedly have warned that the attempt to exterminate
al-Qaida dens may continue for years, even decades. It conceivably
could succeed the Cold War as the most important political struggle
of the 21st century. If that happens, new surveillance powers that
police receive today likely will become permanent.
Do Better on Shorter Leash, Study Concludes (NewsMax)new
Tenured college professors might be bad teachers and even
worse scholars, but their institutions and peers have little ability
to influence their conduct, according to a recent study by The Fraser
Institute, a libertarian think tank in Vancouver, British Columbia.
To improve the quality of their teaching, professors need incentives,
something radically nonexistent in the individualistic culture of
the North American university, write Rodney Clifton and Hymie Rubenstein
in Collegial Models for Enhancing the Performance of University
Professors. Often when professors receive tenure they neglect
their students and focus on research or outside assignments like
consulting businesses, Clifton and Rubenstein write. The sheer number
of extraneous commitments may cause professors to view students
as nuisances rather than the paying consumers they are, according
to the authors.
It Up: In Beirut, even Christians celebrated the atrocity (Italian
journalist Elisabetta Burba)
Where were you on Sept. 11, when terrorists changed the world?
I was at the National Museum here [in Beirut], enjoying the wonders
of the ancient Phoenicians with my husband. This tour of past splendor
only magnified the shock I received later when I heard the news
and saw the reactions all around me. Walking downtown, I realized
that the offspring of this great civilization were celebrating a
terrorist outrage. And I am not talking about destitute people.
Those who were cheering belonged to the elite of the Paris of Middle
East: professionals wearing double-breasted suits, charming blond
ladies, pretty teenagers in tailored jeans. Trying to find our bearings,
my husband and I went into an American-style cafe in the Hamra district,
near Rue Verdun, rated as one of the most expensive shopping streets
in the world. Here the cognitive dissonance was immediate, and direct.
The cafes sophisticated clientele was celebrating, laughing,
cheering and making jokes, as waiters served hamburgers and Diet
Pepsi. Nobody looked shocked, or moved. They were excited, very
excited.... Back in Italy, I received a phone call from my friend
Gilberto Bazoli, a journalist in Cremona. He told me he witnessed
the same reactions among Muslims in the local mosque of that small
Lombard city. They were all on Osama bin Ladens side,
he said. One of them told me that they were not even worthy
to kiss his toes.
blamed on college teachers (WT)
Professors and administrators are to blame for anti-American
sentiment on college campuses today, according to a report by the
American Council of Trustees and Alumni. More than 140 college campuses
in 36 states have held anti-war rallies denouncing the countrys
military actions in Afghanistan, the report says. The document
Defending Civilization: How Our Universities Are Failing America
and What Can Be Done About It concludes that many professors
and administrators are quick to clamp down on acts of patriotism,
such as flying the American flag, and look down on students who
question professors politically correct ideas
war, grownups cant play silly games (Mark Steyn)
But the six-month suspension of normal politics is taking
its toll on Democrats. We seem to be good at developing entrance
strategies, Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginias porkmeister
par excellence, whined the other day, and not so good at developing
exit strategies. Well spotted, senator. Heres something
else that will shock you: Churchill didnt have an exit
strategy for World War II.... You dont have exit strategies
when your national territorys been attacked; you have a responsibility
to see the war through to the end.... The headline on Jules Witcovers
column in the Baltimore Sun read, Democrats Ask Tough Questions
On War. In fact, tough questions would be welcome. But Byrds
and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschles criticisms are pathetic:
Theyre about spin, posturing, about how itll play on
TV. In war, grownups dont have time for silly games in the
reasonable about faith when we all ignore God (Hanna Clark)
This fact versus faith dichotomy relies on a gendered and
racialized conception of the human mind and soul (or are they even
separate?). White people are seen as rational and logical, living
in the world of logic and ideas. People of color are seen as more
spiritual, irrational and emotional. The same can be said of men
(theyre rational) and women (theyre irrational). And
the same can be said of Macalester atheists (rational) and the rest
of us (irrational). The problem is that Atheism is just as based
on faith as any other religion. At Macalester, religion is often
seen only as an institution that tries to exert control. Theres
a knee-jerk reaction to the imposition of rules and social mores,
and all religion and spirituality is thereby ridiculed. Its
ironic that so many people use a patriarchal and racist ideology
to critique what they think is an engine of oppressive authority.
Pristine Myth (Katie Bacon interviews Charles Mann)
For years the standard view of North America before Columbuss
arrival was as a vast, grassy expanse teeming with game and all
but empty of people. Those who did live here were nomads who left
few marks on the land. South America, too, or at least the Amazon
rain forest, was thought of as almost an untouched Eden, now suffering
from modern depredations. But a growing number of anthropologists
and archaeologists now believe that this picture is almost completely
false. According to this school of thought, the Western Hemisphere
before Columbuss arrival was well-populated and dotted with
impressive cities and towns one scholar estimated that it
held ninety to 112 million people, more than lived in Europe at
the time and Indians had transformed vast swaths of landscape
to meet their agricultural needs. They used fire to create the Midwestern
prairie, perfect for herds of buffalo. They also cultivated at least
part of the rain forest, living on crops of fruits and nuts.
Delusional (Drs. Michael A. Glueck & Robert J. Cihak)
People need to feel right about themselves. Not just good
right. Morally right. For some people, hating America provides
an inexhaustible source of unearned moral stature. They cant
be right unless their country is wrong, always and forever wrong:
an attitude empowered by the quaint notion that dissent is somehow
automatically morally superior to consent, and refusal to participate
a greater good than support. Sadly, there is much in this country
to criticize. Were far from perfect, and in many ways the
intensity of our self-scrutiny stands as a badge of our virtue.
But there comes a time when some overweening emergency takes precedence.
Crack-Up (Stephen Goode and Christopher Jolma)
But the response to Sept. 11 at U.S. colleges and universities
might be bringing about a bigger, more profound transformation thats
now in its earliest stages. Its change that challenges and
may undermine the gospel of political correctness, which
has ravaged U.S. schools for nearly two decades. Its a transformation,
too, that may bring an end to the power held at American universities
and colleges by the left-wing 1960s activists many of whom
long have held senior and tenured positions at American schools
and have used those positions to preach the same tired left-wing
politics and anti-Americanism they began so loudly advocating 40
Capers (David Horowitz)
In any case, the media blackout of my book makes my current
campus speaking tour something of a necessity. I have one additional
agenda, moreover, which is to cast a spotlight on the rampant political
bias in the hiring of faculty at American universities. This repression
of conservative viewpoints an academic McCarthyism that puts
McCarthys puny efforts to shame is blatant, unconstitutional
and illegal, but ubiquitous nonetheless.
will it take to persuade? (Balint Vazsonyi)
The brutal murder of journalist Daniel Pearl has shaken even
our own television news analysts. That is significant, since some
of our most highly visible and highly paid commentators
had never known a foreign terrorist they didnt like. Well,
that might be a bit harsh. Let us say instead, they had never seen
a foreign terrorist whose cause they didnt respect.
But this was too much, even for them. Are we mad enough yet?
The Left Undermined Americas Security (David Horowitz)
Underlying the Clinton security failure was the fact that
the Administration was made up of people who for twenty-five years
had discounted or minimized the totalitarian threat, opposed Americas
armed presence abroad, and consistently resisted the deployment
of Americas military forces to halt Communist expansion. National
Security Advisor Sandy Berger was himself a veteran of the Sixties
anti-war movement, which abetted the Communist victories
in Vietnam and Cambodia, and created the Vietnam War syndrome
that made it so difficult afterwards for American presidents to
deploy the nations military forces.
cost of academic integrity (Walter Williams)
College budgets depend on admitting warm bodies. That means
we cant expect college administrators to do anything to stop
unprepared students from being admitted, courses dumbed-down and
fraudulent grades given. Boards of Trustees tend to be yes-men and
women for the president, so we cant expect anything from them.
The money spigot needs to be turned off.
Alumni, foundations and other charitable donors not to mention
taxpayers should be made aware of fraudulent practices and
Plains vs. The Atlantic: Is Middle America a backwater, or a reservoir?
The combination of progressive taxation and urban real-estate
prices ensures that almost nobody on the coasts has more spendable
income than the highest paid people in Franklin County or the rest
of rural Red America. People here in Missouris small towns
can buy a beautiful older home for less than $100,000. Brooks makes
much of the fact that he literally could not spend more than $20
for a meal in Franklin County. The fare in Red America is a bit
limited. You cant buy one of those meals with a dime-sized
entrée in the middle of a huge plate, with some sort of sauce
artfully squirted about. But you can buy a pound of prime rib for
ten bucks. Class-consciousness isnt a problem in Red America,
because most people can afford to buy everything thats for
that the classics speak to everyone (Katherine Kersten)
For 35 years now, weve been hearing that the classics
the great books of the Western world are largely irrelevant
in todays classrooms. Why? Most were written by dead white
males. Obviously, then, they can hold little meaning for females
or for black or Hispanic kids. Everyone knows that if young people
are to be moved or inspired, they need books whose authors look
like them. Try telling that to the students at Wilbur Wright
College, a two-year community college in a working-class neighborhood
in Chicago. Students at Wright are predominantly black, Hispanic
or from immigrant families. Wright is for kids who arent ready
for four-year colleges. Yet students there are flocking to a Great
Books program and lining up to read authors like Plato, Cicero and
the Muslims Misjudged Us (Victor Hanson)
Two striking themes one overt, one implied characterize
most Arab invective: first, there is some sort of equivalence
political, cultural, and military between the West and the
Muslim world; and second, America has been exceptionally unkind
toward the Middle East. Both premises are false and reveal that
the temple of anti-Americanism is supported by pillars of utter
out grammar (Linda Chavez)
I learned how to diagram sentences in elementary school
or what we used to call, appropriately, grammar school.... Progressive
teachers and their professional associations, especially the National
Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), believe diagramming sentences
is make-work that bores students and turns them off to writing.
So they banished diagramming from the classroom years ago, along
with most grammar instruction.
Education of Abraham Lincoln (Eric Foner)
He read incessantly, beginning as a youth with the Bible and
Shakespeare. During his single term in the House of Representatives,
his colleagues considered it humorous that Lincoln spent his spare
time poring over books in the Library of Congress. The result of
this stunning work of self-education was the intellectual
power revealed in Lincolns writings and speeches.
Boys (Amy Benfer)
Suddenly, the debate among researchers is focused on the boys:
Are they behind because of the girl empowerment movement? Are they
being shortchanged in the classroom simply because they are boys?
We Don’t Marry (James Q. Wilson) “Marriage was once a sacrament, then it became a contract, and
now it is an arrangement. Once religion provided the sacrament,
then the law enforced the contract, and now personal preferences
define the arrangement.”
is No Time, There Will Be Time
Forbes ASAP (November 18, 1998)
When you consider who is gifted and crazed with rage... when
you think of the terrorist places and the terrorist countries...
who do they hate most? The Great Satan, the United States. What
is its most important place? Some would say Washington. I would
say the great city of the United States is the great city of the
world, the dense 10-mile-long island called Manhattan, where the
economic and media power of the nation resides, the city that is
the psychological center of our modernity, our hedonism, our creativity,
our hard-shouldered hipness, our unthinking arrogance.
the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity
Social Text (Spring/Summer 1996) There are many natural scientists, and especially physicists,
who continue to reject the notion that the disciplines concerned
with social and cultural criticism can have anything to contribute,
except perhaps peripherally, to their research. Still less are they
receptive to the idea that the very foundations of their worldview
must be revised or rebuilt in the light of such criticism. Rather,
they cling to the dogma imposed by the long post-Enlightenment hegemony
over the Western intellectual outlook, which can be summarized briefly
as follows: that there exists an external world, whose properties
are independent of any individual human being and indeed of humanity
as a whole; that these properties are encoded in eternal
physical laws; and that human beings can obtain reliable, albeit
imperfect and tentative, knowledge of these laws by hewing to the
objective procedures and epistemological strictures
prescribed by the (so-called) scientific method.
... and, in explanation, ...
Physicist Experiments with Cultural Studies
Lingua Franca (May/June 1996)
For some years Ive been troubled by an apparent decline
in the standards of rigor in certain precincts of the academic humanities.
But Im a mere physicist: If I find myself unable to make heads
or tails of jouissance and differance, perhaps that just
reflects my own inadequacy. So, to test the prevailing intellectual
standards, I decided to try a modest (though admittedly uncontrolled)
experiment: Would a leading North American journal of cultural studies
whose editorial collective includes such luminaries as Fredric
Jameson and Andrew Ross publish an article liberally salted
with nonsense if (a) it sounded good and (b) it flattered the editors
ideological preconceptions? The answer, unfortunately, is yes....
Whats going on here? Could the editors really not have realized
that my article was written as a parody?
The world is getting progressively poorer, and its all
because of population, or more precisely, overpopulation.
Theres a finite store of resources on our pale blue dot, spaceship
Earth, our small and fragile tiny planet, and were fast approaching
its ultimate carrying capacity. The limits to growth are finally
upon us, and were living on borrowed time. The laws of population
growth are inexorable. Unless we act decisively, the final result
is written in stone: mass poverty, famine, starvation, and death.
Time is short, and we have to act now. Thats the standard
and canonical litany.... Theres just one problem with The
Litany, just one slight little wee imperfection: every item in that
dim and dreary recitation, each and every last claim, is false....
Thus saith The Doomslayer, one Julian L.
Simon, a neither shy nor retiring nor particularly mild-mannered
professor of business administration at a middling eastern-seaboard
state university. Simon paints a somewhat different picture of the
human condition circa 1997. Our species is better off in just
about every measurable material way, he says. Just about
every important long-run measure of human material welfare shows
improvement over the decades and centuries, in the United States
and the rest of the world. Raw materials all of them
have become less scarce rather than more. The air in the US and
in other rich countries is irrefutably safer to breathe. Water cleanliness
has improved. The environment is increasingly healthy, with every
prospect that this trend will continue.
Perfidious Priests and What Must Be Done
About Them (Part Two)
The column is also available on
Views Column page, without the links on the left-
and right-hand of the page.
With a whole population able
to read, with cheap newspapers day by day conveying the news of every court,
great and small to every home or even cottage, it is plain that we are at the
mercy of even one unworthy member or false brother. It is true that the laws
of libel are a great protection to us as to others. But the last few years have
shown us what harm can be done us by the mere infirmities, not so much as the
sins, of one or two weak minds. There is an immense store of curiosity directed
upon us in this country, and in great measure an unkind, a malicious curiosity.
If there ever was a time when one priest will be a spectacle to men and angels
it is in the age now opening upon us.... (J. H. Newman,
October 2, 1873)
Cardinals Law, Mahony,
I concluded last
time with Bernard Cardinal Laws perplexing detachment from
the situation he himself had helped to create, as reported
in the Boston Globe, Mar. 10:
In his response at the end of the convocation, Law said,
In my most horrible nightmares, I would never have imagined that we
would have come to the situation in which we find ourselves.
Foreboding is added to my perplexity upon re-reading the article, which also
contains this revealing notice:
For more than two months, we have been inundated by
the media with details of that awful history, Law said. It has
left us sad, it has left us angry, and it has robbed us of that trust which
a short while ago we took for granted.
Excuse me, Cardinal Law: neither the media nor the reports of an awful
history have robbed Bostons faithful of the trust they had taken
for granted: you yourself, personally, have done so by being partly responsible
for some of the egregious details of that awful history.
As reported, Law speaks as if he had been standing in a crowd next to a street
when he was suddenly struck by a car veering off the road. Actually, he is more
like a passenger who had been telling the driver how well he was handling the
car as it barreled down the sidewalk.
It seems to me that the cardinal cannot bring himself to face reality: his
own actions, and inactions, have contributed to a situation he cant stand.
Perhaps, like Spagnolia who didnt mean to deceive anybody with
his lies perhaps Law has spent so much time trying to convince himself
in his heart that his actions were not wrong... not so wrong... not
really so wrong... they have become less than real to him. As if he
was outside himself, watching somebody else make his mistakes.
Such a man is no man to be leading a clean-up of the mess he helped to make.
If a recent column
by Steve Lopez in the Los Angeles Times is any indicator, the archbishop of
Los Angeles may not be such a man either:
Across the land, the Catholic Church is being forced to come
clean about the sins of the fathers, and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles appears
to be falling into line. But the million-dollar word there is appears.
.... In 1988, [Cardinal Roger] Mahony established a policy designed, in his
words, to do all that is humanly possible to prevent sexual abuse....
In his Sunday [Mar. 10] statement, he invoked that policy and vowed that
his church will not knowingly assign or retain a priest, deacon, religious,
or layperson ... when such an individual is determined to have previously
engaged in the sexual abuse of a minor. Well, given that the policy
goes back 14 years, how is it that as many as a dozen accused molesters were
still on the payroll? Did Mahony just now hear about them?
Now the archbishop of New York is coming under fire, as reported
in the Hartford Courant, Mar. 17:
Secret court documents reveal that New York Cardinal Edward
M. Egan, while serving as bishop of the Bridgeport Roman Catholic Diocese....
Egan failed to investigate aggressively some abuse allegations, did not refer
complaints to criminal authorities and, during closed testimony in 1999, suggested
that a dozen people who made complaints of rape, molestation and beatings
against the same priest may have all been lying, the documents show.... However,
Egan, who as cardinal in New York is the highest profile Catholic in the United
States, has come under growing criticism for not speaking out. On Friday,
in a New York Daily News cover story headlined Speak Up, Egan Told,
Egans spokesman said the cardinal planned no public statements on the
issue. Egan did not respond to requests for comments about his actions in
the Bridgeport cases, including a list of questions e-mailed to his office
at the request of his spokesman, Joseph Zwilling. In an e-mail Saturday, Zwilling
referred all questions concerning the Diocese of Bridgeport and/or any
actions that may have occured in that diocese to Bridgeport.
One should not jump to conclusions based on newspaper reports of secret
court documents. These documents must have been acquired by underhanded
perhaps illegal means, and it may be unwise to trust the interpretations
of what the documents show by those who thus acquired them. (The
case is different for Boston, where the documents were made public by court
But, surely, we are past the point where official silence, and stonewalling
by spokesmen, is acceptable. When was it ever acceptable? And why doesnt
Cardinal Egan know this?
Hear Me Bleat
Before I continue, I would do well, I think, to establish some ground on which
to speak. Am I, one of the sheep, anybody to be telling the shepherds what I
think has gone wrong with the Catholic Church in the USA, why it has gone wrong,
and what must be done to help to set things right?
C. S. Lewis, an Anglican Christian, addressed this very question at the beginning
of his paper Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism, delivered May
11, 1959, to a group of Anglican priests at Westcott House, Cambridge:
Though I may have nothing but misunderstanding to lay before
you, you ought to know that such misunderstandings exist. That sort of thing
is easy to overlook inside ones own circle. The minds you daily meet
have been conditioned by the same studies and prevalent opinions as your own.
That may mislead you. For of course as priests it is the outsiders you will
have to cope with. You exist in the long run for no other purpose. The proper
study of shepherds is sheep, not (save accidentally) other shepherds. And
woe to you if you do not evangelize. I am not trying to teach my grandmother.
I am a sheep, telling shepherds what only a sheep can tell them. And now I
start my bleating. (Christian Reflections, p. 152)
The Moral Authority
of the Bishops in the USA:
Sliding Further Down the Drain
Philip F. Lawler, editor of Catholic World Report, writes a lengthy article
in the March 2002 issue. Called The Scandal in Boston and Beyond,
it begins thus:
Even the most imaginative dramatist, with the most malign
attitude toward the Church, would have been hard pressed to produce a scenario
in which the Catholic Church was humiliated as quickly and thoroughly as the
Archdiocese of Boston was in the opening days of 2002. Within a matter of
weeks the Catholic Church which in theory commands the allegiance of
roughly one-half the people living in the region had been reduced to
irrelevance as a force in Bostons public affairs. (p 36)
Indeed. Since the scandal erupted in Boston, more and more bishops are, these
very days, publicly dismissing from active service priests who had been accused
of sexual immorality almost always with male youths only yet they
were allowed to continue in sacred ministry; as reported
in the New York Times, Mar. 17:
Within weeks, bishops across the country began purging their
dioceses of priests who had been serving despite accusations of child abuse.
Since January, at least 55 priests in 17 dioceses have been removed, suspended,
put on administrative leave or forced to resign or retire. They include at
least 6 priests in Philadelphia, 7 in Manchester, N.H., 2 in St. Louis, 2
in Maine, 1 in Fargo, N.D., and as many as 12 in Los Angeles. There are 194
Catholic dioceses in the nation.
And as I write, a controversy erupts in Brooklyn, where a priest had, several
years ago, accused an older priest of having abused him and his brother in the
1970s. According to a Newsday article,
The Brooklyn case stems from allegations made by two brothers,
one of them a priest himself, that the Rev. Joseph P. Byrns molested them
as children in Douglaston during the early 1970s when he served at St. Anastasia
Church. The Rev. Timothy J. Lambert, 44, who is on leave from the diocese
of Metuchen in central New Jersey, said that in a 1998 meeting with top diocesan
officials, he charged that he and his brother had been molested for several
years as adolescents.... Father Byrns denied unequivocally that anything
like this had happened, said [Brooklyn Bishop Thomas] Dailys spokesman,
Frank DeRosa. The diocese spoke with him carefully and closely on a
number of occasions and was satisfied with his denial.
If convincing denials were all that is necessary, nobody would be in jail for
anything. Is that not obvious? Why was it not obvious to Brooklyn diocesan officials
as recently as 1998? Heres an answer:
Lambert says it came down simply to the priests word
against his and his brothers. I was a priest. He was a priest,
he said. What made me less credible than him? In my view, the only thing
was that if they believed him, they had more to lose if they didnt.
The deleterious effect on what is often called the moral authority
of the bishops, of which Lawler writes about in Boston, will spread, or is already
spreading, across the country.
The phrase moral authority is vague and ambiguous. What people
really mean, I think, when they say that somebody, or some group or organization,
has lost the moral authority to lead or to guide, or even to stake
a meaningful position, is this: the person, the group, the organization have
demonstrated that they can no longer be trusted to be honest, upright, straightforward
persons of integrity who stand for what they say they stand for so nobody
gives a damn any more what they say.
How is it demonstrated? Breaking promises while feigning their fulfillment;
saying one thing while doing another; declining to abide by rules that one expects
everybody else to follow; hiding behind lawyers when open honesty is called
for. One or another bishop has done this, and more, in cases of immoral priests.
For decades. And still today.
How can decent human beings let alone faithful Catholics and other Christians
ignore these kinds of breaches? In the New York Times article
quoted above, it is put this way:
All sides agree that the church is in danger of losing the
moral credibility in speaking out on political and social issues, including
the death penalty and the status of Jerusalem. If the church does not
respond vigorously to this scandal, then the authority the hierarchy has to
teach morally will vanish, said R. Scott Appleby, director of the Cushwa
Center for the Study of American Catholicism at Notre Dame. It wont
just be a crisis, it will be all over but the shouting. There will be no moral
credibility for the bishops to speak about justice, truth, racial equality,
war or immigration if they cant get their own house in order.
Similarly, in an editorial
in the New York Post, Mar. 17:
Last week, the cardinal [Edward Egan of New York] invoked
church-state separation as he again requested a conscience clause
an exemption on moral grounds for religion-linked organizations
in any state legislation to make contraception coverage mandatory in employer
health plans have. Fair enough. But there wont be much political support
for a conscience clause if the church seems to have lost its conscience
that is, if it appears willing to tolerate serial pedophiles in its
The Moral Authority
of the Bishops in the USA:
They Themselves Had Opened the Drain
But those who are already looking whether with glee or with dismay
to January 2002 as the beginning of the end of the moral authority
of the episcopacy in the USA will need to readjust the focus of their lenses:
the real collapse of the moral authority of the American bishops
began in 1968. Events of early 2002 merely demonstrate the seedier, sorrier
aspects of the effect that the bishops actions, and inactions, have had
on the faith, morality and daily life of Catholics in America, priests and laity
What happened in 1968? Certain Catholic theologians in the USA brazenly distorted
the Catholic faith in the most public way they could manage; the American bishops
let them get away with it; worse, they eventually lent a false legitimacy by
which further brazen distortion of the Catholic faith disguised by the
euphemism dissent could continue unabated.
To set the stage, we must review the teaching of the Second Vatican Council
on the authority of the pope and bishops to authentically establish Catholic
doctrine. (Yes, we must.)
Vatican II reaffirmed the common understanding of the Catholic faith: that
when the pope, or the body of bishops together with him, have definitively or
repeatedly taught a given doctrine as part of the Catholic faith, then the doctrine
is no longer legitimately subject to debate or dispute among Catholics, even
by bishops and theologians. I suppose this may seem shocking, especially to
Protestants, who are accustomed to fashioning a faith according to their liking
from their own interpretation of the Bible, and to Americans, who are rightly
accustomed to the idea that laws and politics are continually open to debate
and change by voters, legislators, governors and presidents, and judges. The
Catholic faith, however, has always been understood by Catholics to have been
handed on in the Church from Jesus Christ through His apostles. And the authority
to determine true doctrine, definitively and especially in cases of dispute,
has always been understood to belong to the pope and the bishops in communion
Yes, Vatican II changed nothing in this traditional understanding. In fact,
the Council explicitly and specifically embraced it in the Dogmatic Constitution
on the Church, Lumen
In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the
name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to
it with a religious assent. This religious submission of mind and will must
be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium [teaching authority]
of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra [definitively
with the fullness of his office as universal pastor]; that is, it must be
shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence,
the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest
mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the
character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine,
or from his manner of speaking.
On July 25, 1968, Pope Paul VI issued Humanae
Vitae, his famous encyclical on the regulation of birth. Little did
he suspect the ambush being brewed by Catholic theologians
in the United States, whose ringleader was Fr. Charles Curran.
Word of the encyclical reached America by publication on July 29. The story
of its reception is told by Catholic historian Kenneth Whitehead, in an
in the March/April 1998 issue of Catholic Dossier:
In spite of the fact that the encyclical contained solid
traditional Church teaching, the reaction to Humanae Vitae was
nevertheless a veritable explosion of dissent from both inside and outside
the Church. The incredulity mixed with disillusionment concerning both the
person of Paul VI and his re-affirmation of the Churchs teaching was
simply massive; and it included probably a majority, at least in North America
and Europe, of the Churchs own working theologians, many of whom had
already gone out on a limb and openly called for a change in the Churchs
teaching. The judgment of these people was that the papal Magisterium [the
teaching office of the pope] was simply wrong.
The day after Pope Paul VIs encyclical was issued,
a group of theologians at the Catholic University of America, for example,
issued a statement eventually subscribed to by more than 600 theologians and
other professional specialists in canon law and related disciplines in North
America, in which they asserted that dissent from the encyclical was entirely
licit mostly because, they claimed, the encyclical was not an
infallible teaching, thus consciously setting aside Lumen Gentium #25
which, of course, required their assent to the encyclical whether or not it
Whitehead is diplomatic. He says the signers of the statement many (if
not most) of them among the Churchs own working theologians
issued their declaration by consciously setting aside the
teaching of the Second Vatican Council.
I am not so diplomatic. I say they lied. They were liars and, in some cases,
they are still liars.
And what happened to these lying Catholic theologians? Many of whom were in
official positions in dioceses or religious orders or Catholic colleges. And,
thus, on the Churchs payroll. Did their bishops demand that they be honest
and either rescind their signature or find another way to make a living?
No. So far as I know, nothing was done to any of the liars. In fact, most of
them were eventually rewarded by promotions or by fame or by influence
more influence among Catholics, indisputably, than the bishops themselves have
Thus began the collapse of the moral authority of the Catholic
bishops in the USA.
Unsatisfied, apparently, with merely failing in one of their chief responsibilities
to uphold the Catholic faith by ridding the Church of public liars,
the American bishops soon issued norms by which liars could proceed
to further undermine the Catholic faith, yet continue as Catholic
theologians. These norms were part of a statement
the bishops issued November 15, 1968:
Norms of Licit Theological Dissent
49. There exist in the Church a lawful freedom of inquiry
and of thought and also general norms of licit dissent. This is particularly
true in the area of legitimate theological speculation and research. When
conclusions reached by such professional theological work prompt a scholar
to dissent from noninfallible received teaching, the norms of licit dissent
come into play. They require of him careful respect for the consciences of
those who lack his special competence or opportunity for judicious investigation.
These norms also require setting forth his dissent with propriety and with
regard for the gravity of the matter and the deference due the authority which
has pronounced on it.
50. The reverence due all sacred matters, particularly questions
which touch on salvation, will not necessarily require the responsible scholar
to relinquish his opinion but certainly to propose it with prudence born of
intellectual grace and a Christian confidence that the truth is great and
51. When there is question of theological dissent from noninfallible
doctrine, we must recall that there is always a presumption in favor of the
magisterium. Even noninfallible authentic doctrine, though it may admit of
development or call for clarification or revision, remains binding and carries
with it a moral certitude, especially when it is addressed to the Universal
Church, without ambiguity, in response to urgent questions bound up with faith
and crucial to morals. The expression of theological dissent from the magisterium
is in order only if the reasons are serious and well-founded, if the manner
of the dissent does not question or impugn the teaching authority of the Church
and is such as not to give scandal.
52. Since our age is characterized by popular interest in
theological debate, and given the realities of modern mass media, the ways
in which theological dissent may be effectively expressed, in a manner consistent
with pastoral solicitude, should become the object of fruitful dialogue between
bishops and theologians. These have their diverse ministries in the Church,
their distinct responsibilities to the faith, and their respective charisma.
53. Even responsible dissent does not excuse one from faithful
presentation of the authentic doctrine of the Church when one is performing
a pastoral ministry in her name.
54. We count on priests, the counselors of persons and families,
to heed the appeal of Pope Paul that they expound the Churchs
teaching on marriage without ambiguity; that they diminish in
no way the saving teaching of Christ, but teach married couples
the indispensable way of prayer... without ever allowing them to be discouraged
by their weakness (Humanae Vitae, 29). We commend to confessors,
as does Pope Paul, the example of the Lord Himself, Who was indeed intransigent
with evil, but merciful towards individuals.
There you have it: the American bishops Munich Pact. Hows that?
David Gelernter wrote
about the Munich Pact the other day in The Weekly Standard:
Everyone knows about Munich, September 1938: Britain and
France generously donate a big slice of Czechoslovakia to Hitler, in exchange
for peace with honor, peace in our time, and the Brooklyn
Bridge. Many people know about the Kristallnacht pogrom, November 1938: Germanys
approach to the Jews turns from mere oppression to bloodthirsty violence.
Kristallnacht was triggered by the murder of a German diplomat
by a deranged Jew. But some (not all) historians point out the obvious: A
leading cause of Kristallnacht was Munich itself. Hitler read the Munich agreements
as a proclamation by England and France stating: We are weak; you have
nothing to fear; do what you like.
Following Gelernters lead, allow me to translate: Norms of Licit
Theological Dissent is bishop-speak for We are weak; you have nothing
to fear; do what you like.
Indeed, we may see a foreshadowing in the bishops capitulation, 1968,
of their spooky reluctance to face the reality of the situation they must deal
with in 2002: the stupidity (at the least) of having kept immoral priests in
sacred ministry. As Whitehead put it:
This whole elaborate effort of the U.S. bishops [issuing
Norms of Licit Theological Dissent] was an exercise in unreality,
since not one of the conditions they specified was ever observed by the actual
dissenters; quite the contrary, for the most part. (emphasis added)
Results of the American
Church authorities that have spent the past three decades hiding criminals
from justice criminals like very rare pedophiles (some of them heterosexual)
and less rare ephebophiles (all of them homosexual) began by allowing
liars to continue working among them.
Germany, after Chamberlains attempt to appease Hitler, had soon invaded
and conquered a great deal of Europe; Catholic theologians,
after the bishops attempt at appeasement, soon effectively declared Catholic
life in its entirety faith and morals, doctrine and discipline, history
and tradition, parcel and part, bit and piece, jot and tittle open to
serious debate, doubt, and even denial.
It has been a power struggle, plain and simple: the bishops and the Catholic
faith have, so far, lost.
An essay by Msgr. George A. Kelly in the March 2002 issue of Catholic World
Report puts it thus:
The most important and enduring scandal in the Catholic Church
of the United States is the established and continued existence of what Pope
John Paul II has called a counter-magisterium a rival teaching
office that confutes, confounds, and contradicts what the Pope and the bishops
in union with him set forth as the Gospel of Jesus Christ regarding human
beings, their destiny in this life and the next. The #2 scandal is the downgrading
of orthodoxy as an essential standard norm of Catholic belief, and the consequent
downsizing of right belief as normative for teachers and pastors....
The scandal consists in the harm done to faith in Christs Church by
the continued and unopposed power exercised by these anti-magisterial forces,
which use Catholic colleges and schools, religious societies, and so-called
pastoral entities in opposition to the settled mind and law of the Church.
A recent expostulation by Andrew
Sullivan illustrates how the distortion of Vatican II has become
entrenched to the point that an intelligent writer can take as fact what has
no foundation whatever in the teachings of the Council. Sullivan, who is (for
lack of a better word) a practicing homosexual but nonetheless claims to be
a faithful Catholic, wrote thus, Mar. 14, concerning some difficult
issues in a section entitled Sparing Rod:
The first is whether the Church has a single unchanging doctrine
on every matter of morals which every Catholic is obliged to assent to and
practice at all times. This is a common view among pre-Vatican II Catholics,
ex-Catholics and non-Catholics. Its wrong. The Church is not a democracy,
but neither is it a Vatican dictatorship. The Second Vatican Council specifically
carved out a larger area for the laity to discuss, reflect upon and debate
matters of morals, of the application of broad principles to particular issues,
and so on. We not just the Pope are also the Church. For example,
most Catholics find the complete bar on any birth control to be, not to put
too fine a point on it, bizarre. When the Church imposes something by diktat
that the faithful cannot square with their own moral sense, experience and
prayerful reflection, two things happen. The laity ignores it; and the hierarchy
loses credibility. To a lesser extent, the Churchs teachings on re-marriage,
the role of women, celibacy, and homosexuality are also so theologically muddled
and troubling upon inspection that they have generated considerable debate.
Bottom line: I dont think such debate is faithless or un-Catholic.
Sullivan posted a letter from a reader, who asked the following: Where
specifically did Vatican II carve out a broader area for the laity to debate
the Pope on matters of morals? The question will go unanswered, of course,
because Vatican II did no such thing: Catholic theologians
who wanted to carve out a larger area for their own influence have
convinced many Catholics of it, though.
He also posted part of a letter from Catholic philosopher Alexander R. Pruss,
who has provided me with the entirety of his letter:
I see several misconceptions in your piece Sparing
Rod that I thought I should respond to both as a Catholic born after
Vatican II and as someone who teaches ethics.
To the extent that the Church is a democracy, it is a democracy
that enfranchises all the generations of Catholics before us. Seen in this
way, the Churchs official teachings on sexual matters are, as far as
we know, the beliefs of the majority of Catholics. While there is a sense
of the faith among Catholics, any one Catholics sense, or even the sense
of the majority of Catholics at a given time, can be clouded. After all, according
to a 1992 Gallup poll, only 30% of Catholics accept the correct view of the
Eucharist. If someones eyesight of clearly visible objects is defective,
we disregard his testimony about more murky objects. Likewise, if a Catholic
gets wrong things on which the Church is completely clear like abortion or
the Eucharist, then his sense of the faith is not functioning properly, and
so his views on things like contraception that are somewhat more controversial
Some Catholics may indeed find the Churchs teachings
on matters like contraception bizarre. But this is only because
they are unaware of the work of philosophers like John Finnis, Germain Grisez,
Janet Smith and Karol Wojtyla. Once one understood this work, even if one
were not persuaded (as I think one should be: see my own articles at www.georgetown.edu/faculty/ap85),
one would no longer be able sincerely to call the teachings bizarre.
On the contrary, one would see the Church as espousing a coherent, plausible
and all-encompassing ethic of sexual love based on the notion of ontological
Your references to Vatican II are
puzzling, largely due to a lack of specific references. According to Vatican
II, whenever the bishops at any one time unanimously teach that a position
is to be definitively held, then that position is thereby infallibly taught
(Lumen Gentium, 25). No doubt, the bishops in, say, the 13th or 18th century
were in unanimous agreement that it was to be definitively held that, say,
homosexual acts and contraception are wrong. Hence this is infallibly taught.
Sexuality is central to human life, and is closely tied
to that which is at the center of the Gospels: love. If the Church is wrong
on contraception, re-marriage, celibacy and homosexuality, then the Church
over the past twenty centuries has got a central area of human life almost
completely wrong. Thinking that the Church is so massively wrong about love
is indeed un-Catholic.
Some might call Prusss explanation pathetically old-fashioned; others
might call it remarkably brave. It is neither: an informed, intelligent, articulate Protestant
or Muslim or atheist could say as much as Pruss wrote to Sullivan so
long as he honestly intended to accurately express the Catholic faith.
But wolves in shepherds clothing have managed to undermine, diminish,
and distort the Catholic faith while claiming the aegis of the Second Vatican
Council, though a careful no, even a casual reading of
the Councils documents will reveal, as already indicated here, that this
has been done in spite of the Council, not because of it.
The American bishops will regain their moral authority when they
start acting like Catholic bishops, acknowledging by word and deed their momentous
responsibility to safeguard and hand on the faith they have received from the
Apostles. And not before then.
Am I saying that dissent from Catholic faith and life caused
the outbreak of immoral priests in our midst? No. But there is, indeed, a very
good argument to be made that confusion about Church teaching, caused by deliberate
and public deception by prominent Catholic theologians,
contributed to the outbreak and justification of immoral behavior
among Catholics of all stripes.
Heres a bit of evidence from an article
in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Mar. 17; the story is about retired priest
Joseph P. Lessard, now 76, who admits to having molested boys back in the 1960s
His first victim was a boy of about 12, the son of a couple
from a neighboring parish whom he knew well. Lessard, an avid outdoorsman,
arranged a fishing trip. After fishing, he took the boy back to the rectory
and started fooling around, which he said involved touching each
others genitals and masturbating. I emotionally and physically
wanted to have sex with him, Lessard said. There was a mutual
interest in having sexual gratification. The abuse went on for a couple
years.... Lessard said he was guilt-free, believing he was educating the boys
in sex. He didnt consider this breaking his vow of celibacy. It didnt
seem as if he was hurting anyone.
If anybody has any evidence that Its OK As Long As Nobody Gets
Hurt was an attitude one could find among parish priests of even one
generation earlier, please let me know.
The connection between this particular priest and the distortion of Vatican
II, however, is quite direct, and does not need to be surmised; the article
later quotes a man who says that he had been one of Lessards victims:
My parents loved him. They would rather me be out with
him than roaming the streets, said the man, to whom the archdiocese
paid $60,000 in 1997. He had a camper. A big mobile home, and lots of
great places to go camping and hunting and fishing. He knew several people
who had farms and great fishing ponds around Chesterfield. Lessard
talked openly about masturbation, the man said. It wasnt a sin anymore
after the Second Vatican Council, Lessard would say. He wouldnt
let up on the subject. (emphasis added)
If the bishops are to restore their moral authority, they must
go further back, and deeper down, than merely dealing with immoral priests in
their ranks: they must root out Catholic professionals in official positions
who effectively confute, confound, and contradict the settled mind and law of
the Catholic Church.
Is this such an unthinkable request?
If the Democratic candidate for the governorship of a state actively did
his best to promote the candidacy for state legislature of every Republican
on the ballot throughout the state, how many votes would he get from Democrats?
If the new Republican governor appointed only Democrats to his cabinet,
wouldnt there be calls for impeachment?
If the president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod announced that he
believes the pope is Christs Vicar on earth, would he remain long in
If the president of Bob Jones University started filling positions with
conservative Catholic educators, would he not be suspected of trying to change
the thinking of the university?
If a CBS reporter wrote an article criticizing the left-leaning bias of
his organization, would he remain in good standing there for very long?
That last example takes us from hypotheses to a real situation. And here is
another: if professional Catholic theologians and pastors and religious
on the Churchs payroll, at all levels effectively compromise Catholic
faith and life to the point where they are becoming indistinguishable from the
prevailing secular milieu, why are these men and women not called subversive
traitors and expelled?
Okay, we could call them something else. C. S. Lewis knew what to call subversion
of the faith by clergy, in an interview in 1963, when he was asked what he thought
of contemporary Christian writing:
A great deal of what is being published by writers in the
religious tradition is a scandal and is actually turning people away from
the church. The liberal writers who are continually accommodating and whittling
down the truth of the Gospel are responsible. I cannot understand how a man
can appear in print claiming to disbelieve everything that he presupposes
when he puts on the surplice. I feel it is a form of prostitution. (God
in the Dock, p. 260)
Call it prostitution; call it traitorous subversion; call it dissent: it must
be rooted out of the Catholic Church in the USA to effectively restore the bishops
moral authority among Catholics, and the Churchs moral
authority in public life.
Six months to the day after Mohamed Atta and
Marwan Al-Shehhi flew planes into the World Trade Center, the
Immigration and Naturalization Service notified a Venice, Florida,
flight school that the two men had been approved for student visas.
How about that? Dead terroristic hijackers are still welcome in
the USA. What a country!
The article continues:
I think it is certainly embarrassing that
the letters show up at this late date, said INS spokesman
Russ Bergeron. It does serve to illustrate what we have
been saying since 1995 that the current system for collecting
information and tracking foreign students is antiquated, outdated,
inaccurate and untimely.
Embarrassing? No. I think it is revealing: there will
be another massacre of innocents in the USA because terrorists will
take advantage of the bloated, blundering incompetence of the federal
government. That government will fail, again, catastrophically,
to perform one of its most important constitutional obligations:
to provide for the common defense.
It goes on:
Former INS District Director Tom Fischer told
CNN that the letters should never have been sent.
Their delivery, he said, was a case of the right hand not
knowing what the left hand was doing.
Wow. They were never supposed to have been sent. Whoda thunk
And, hey, Mr. Fischer. The saying is the left hand not
knowing what the right hand is doing. And its a metaphor
employed by Jesus Christ for something He recommends. Not
an excuse for incompetence.
Shot Two. William Federer wrote a brief biography
of St. Patrick for WorldNetDaily, Mar. 16; it begins thus:
He was neither a leprechaun, an elf, nor full
of blarney. He did not drink green beer or wear a Kiss me,
Im Irish pin, but what he did was of eternal value
to thousands. His name was Patrick.
Though I do admire Federers attempt to set the record straight
about a man whose memory has been largely debased and trivialized,
I have to wonder why he did not use the words priest or
bishop or pope in his article. (Minister
and ministry appear, though.)
Seeing as how St.
Patrick was, first, a priest and later a bishop of the
Catholic Church, and was sent on his mission to Ireland by St. Pope
Celestine I, I cannot help but suspect that Federer didnt
wish to stir the ire of the fundamentalistic Protestant anti-Catholic
bigots among WNDs readership.
American Verse Project
The American Verse Project is a collaborative project between
the University of Michigan Humanities Text Initiative (HTI) and
the University of Michigan Press. The project is assembling an electronic
archive of volumes of American poetry prior to 1920.
1911 Edition Encyclopedia Britannica
This 1911 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica is filled
with historical information that is still relevant today. It fills
29 volumes and contains over 44 million words. The articles are
written by more than 1500 authors within their various fields of
series and multi-part articles of news or opinion
A chronicle of high-level USA
government actions in September 2001, at two websites:
Days in September (WP)
This series is based on interviews with President Bush, Vice
President Cheney and many other key officials inside the administration
and out. The interviews were supplemented by notes of National Security
Council meetings made available to The Washington Post, along with
notes taken by several participants.
A three-part series on Environmentalism
by Diane Alden @ NewsMax:
Green Matrix (Part One)
The people who rule the green matrix seek to centrally plan
our lives. They have adopted the same philosophy as those who drove
the peasants off the land in Russia. They are of the same mind as
the Red Guard in China. They are willing to sacrifice science, the
truth and freedom, as well as the well-being of humans and the environment,
in order to promote their utopian vision for the world a
vision that considers man a cancer on the land. Strangely, the term
green matrix comes up in many of their studies, claims
and policy papers. But this isnt a movie. It is the new totalitarian
Green Matrix (Part Two): They Blinded Us With Science
The more serious problem, however, is that over the years
agencies have been co-opted by those with a much larger agenda in
mind. It is not just about listing one species and shutting down
one or two forests for public use, i.e., managing federal
lands. As the greens say, Think globally and act locally.
That mantra is at the core and heart of U.S. environmental policy.
It is fair to say that in the Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife
Service science got dumped years ago. It was a process
that began in the 70s but received official imprimatur under
Bill Clinton in 1993. At that time, philosophy replaced science.
Conservation biology became the science, and ecosystem
management and precautionary principle the tools.
The end game was to reconnect ecosystems from the Yukon
Green Matrix (Part 3): Weird Science Think Globally
Modern environmentalism has become the best single tool to
fulfill the fondest wishes of the international control freaks and
central planners. It is the new ideological agenda replacing communism
and capitalism. It is, in fact, a lethal mix of both. Alan Caruba
of the National Anxiety Center calls it fascilism. In
implementing the various environmental wish lists, we dont
get cleaner air and water. But we do get a new religion and a new
economic system. In addition, the old time religion is being replaced
by a green Zen Buddhism on one hand, and tyranny and repression
on the other. If you follow the logic of ecosystem management,
that is where we're headed as we wend our way through the holistic
approach for the collective good.
A three-part series Driving
a Wedge in the Boston Globe:
bin Laden plot relied on Saudi hijackers
Senior US officials and Saudi Interior Ministry officials
involved with the investigation into the involvement of Saudi nationals
in the attacks say they now believe bin Ladens Al Qaeda actively
sought out young Saudi volunteers from this region for their jihad.
The investigation is beginning to reveal a picture of how bin Laden,
a native of the Saudi southwest, exploited the young hijackers by
playing off the region's deep tribal affiliations, itseconomic dis-enfranchisement,
anditsown burning brand of Wahhabi fundamentalism which the kingdom's
religious hierarchy fosters in the schools.
schools fuel anti-US anger
US diplomats and Saudi specialists say Saudi schools are the
foundation of the broader society in which the House of Saud has
for decades tolerated extremists within the religious hierarchy
to set a tone in schools as well as on national television
and radio airways of open bigotry toward non-Muslims, contempt
even for those non-Sunni Muslims from other branches of the faith
such as the Shiite, and of virulent anti-Americanism. This, US and
Saudi observers here say, has been part of an unofficial deal: The
kingdom gave the religious establishment control of the schools
as long as it didnt question the legitimacy of the monarchys
power. The United States went along with this tacit agreement as
long as the oil kept flowing, its troops stayed in the country,
and the House of Saud remained on the throne.
are cast on the viability of Saudi monarchy for long term
The House of Saud the 30,000-member ruling family headed
by 3,000 princes has long been so riddled with corruption
that even Crown Prince Abdullah has said the culture of royal excess
has to come to an end. It has ruled over the kingdom with documented
human rights abuses and, as one Western diplomat put it, a form
of gender apartheid for women. Democracy has never been
part of the equation. These palace indulgences have been tolerated
by Washington for far too long, critics say, because of a US policy
dependent on Saudi Arabia's vast oil reserves, Riyadhs
purchase of an estimated $4 billion a year worth of US weapons,
and its pivotal role as host to 5,000 American troops. Since Franklin
Delano Roosevelt agreed a half century ago to defend the kingdom
in exchange for ready access to oil, the balance between US interests
and US ideals in Saudi Arabia has always tipped in favor of Washingtons
economic and strategic interests.
A three-part article on some
current thinking on the Koran in The Atlantic:
is the Koran? (Part 1)
Some of the parchment pages in the Yemeni hoard seemed to
date back to the seventh and eighth centuries A.D., or Islams
first two centuries they were fragments, in other words,
of perhaps the oldest Korans in existence. Whats more, some
of these fragments revealed small but intriguing aberrations from
the standard Koranic text. Such aberrations, though not surprising
to textual historians, are troublingly at odds with the orthodox
Muslim belief that the Koran as it has reached us today is quite
simply the perfect, timeless, and unchanging Word of God.
is the Koran? (Part 2)
Deviating from the orthodox interpretation of the Koran, says
the Algerian Mohammed Arkoun, a professor emeritus of Islamic thought
at the University of Paris, is a very sensitive business
with major implications. Millions and millions of people refer
to the Koran daily to explain their actions and to justify their
aspirations, Arkoun says. This scale of reference is
much larger than it has ever been before.
is the Koran? (Part 3)
Gerd-R. Puin speaks with disdain about the traditional willingness,
on the part of Muslim and Western scholars, to accept the conventional
understanding of the Koran. The Koran claims for itself that
it is mubeen, or clear, he says.
But if you look at it, you will notice that every fifth sentence
or so simply doesnt make sense. Many Muslims and Orientalists
will tell you otherwise, of course, but the fact is that
a fifth of the Koranic text is just incomprehensible. This
is what has caused the traditional anxiety regarding translation.
If the Koran is not comprehensible if it cant even
be understood in Arabic then its not translatable.
People fear that. And since the Koran claims repeatedly to be clear
but obviously is not as even speakers of Arabic will tell
you there is a contradiction. Something else must be going