Core: noun, the most important part of a thing, the essence; from the Latin cor, meaning heart.

The View from the Core by E. L. Core
America's Small Town Webzine

 Volume 1.20 Front Page June 24, 2002 

Featured Pages & Sites Only

The View’s Featured Webpages
(links to offsite pages)

Down to Columns Classic

Columns, essays, and news articles (new at top)

Judgement Day in Dallas (06/22/02) new
In The Tablet by Richard Major
“Greater than any constitutional shift is a change in the way the American Catholic Church and society see each other. They are not mutually comprehending; they do not now trust each other. In Dallas justice required the Church to humble itself before society and accept the demands of public opinion. But the shattering effect of its humiliation will make the Church think more freshly of its role. Cardinal George, cool and sad, declared that this scandal would be ‘providential’ if it made the Church look beyond the particular and attend to the wider context of American society. He said: ‘The Church was weakened even before this crisis began; for a generation we have experienced profound loss. How are we to be the Catholic Church within this kind of culture?’ Then the cardinal spelled out his view of American civilisation, and the journalists began squirming, stirring in their seats, laughing nervously and snorting — which is the effect truth sometimes has on journalists. ‘Our culture is secularised protestantism, self-righteous and decadent at the same time’, Cardinal George said baldly. In such a culture, how can the Church understand itself? How can it, ‘smaller perhaps but faithful’ as it is likely to be, he said, understand anew celibacy, or homosexuality, which society does not pretend to understand either? ‘To whom do we really listen?’ he asked.”

Trying to Restore a Faith (06/15/02) new
By Frank Keating in The New York Times
“Yesterday I accepted a request by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to become chairman of a special lay commission that will address the crisis of confidence — and in too many cases, a crisis of faith — in my church. I undertook this task after much thought and prayer, and only after specific criteria were established defining the powers and goals of the commission. Those goals can be easily summarized: to protect the innocent from abuse and exploitation, and to restore faith in the church and its leadership.”

God Save Us From Democracy (06/20/02) new
By J. P. Zmirak at FrontPage Magazine
“The Vatican, for all its reputation as an international power broker, is little more than a (very tall) bully pulpit; the pope has a staff of a few hundred overworked men and women, a budget smaller than most Fortune 500 corporations, and no legal leverage. Under these constraints, it labors around the world, nudging bishops, persuading statesmen, sending missionaries, mediating wars, caring for the poor, trying to keep the Moslems from slaughtering nuns and the West from eating its young. It’s an inhuman task; that the Church succeeds at all, and has not already collapsed, ought to impress any skeptic that there’s something mysterious about this organization.... Would that happen, if ordinary Catholics — not just trouble-making, orthodox intellectuals like me — got involved in choosing bishops? In changing Church policy? You bet it would. Andrew Greeley, erotic novelist and weathervane, is probably right when he says that the average American Catholic wants both condoms and altar rails, easy divorce and ‘Ave Maria,’ sung at his daughter’s third church wedding. Subject Church teachings to plebiscite — remembering that a majority of American Catholics voted for Clinton and Gore — and what will you get? God only knows. And that’s why he’s protecting the Church from democracy.”

Throw Away the Key: Well, not really — but hold Padilla for as long as necessary. (06/20/02) new
By Rich Lowry at National Review Online
“Embedded in all this heated rhetoric is the idea that there is no check on the executive’s authority in the Padilla case. But habeas corpus has not been repealed (if it had been, that would indeed be news, and actually endanger our rights). Which means that if the heavy-breathers are correct and Padilla’s rights are so obviously being trampled, his lawyer can challenge the constitutionality of his detention in court. Which is exactly what she — with plenty of help from the ACLU — is going to do.”

Powell’s Trial Balloon (06/17/02) new
By William Safire in The New York Times
“1. Statehood, even if qualified as provisional or interim, confers a degree of sovereignty. That means control of borders, the ability to make treaties, and to import arms from Iraq and by sea from Iran. 2. Partial statehood would give Arafat control of an airport. A plane loaded with fuel or explosives could hit a major Tel Aviv building within three minutes, too quickly for Israeli jets to scramble. Ritual condemnation would follow. 3. Any form of statehood would limit Israel’s ability to search out bomb factories and arrest terrorist leaders. What is now a tolerable sweep into disputed territory would be denounced in the U.N. as invasion pure and simple. That would trigger European economic boycotts and draw Arab allies into a wider war.”

Qaeda’s New Links Increase Threats From Global Sites (06/16/02) new
In The New York Times by David Johnston, Don Van Natta Jr. and Judith Miller
“A group of midlevel operatives has assumed a more prominent role in Al Qaeda and is working in tandem with Middle Eastern extremists across the Islamic world, senior government officials say. They say the alliance, which extends from North Africa to Southeast Asia, now poses the most serious terrorist threat to the United States. This new alliance of terrorists, though loosely knit, is as fully capable of planning and carrying out potent attacks on American targets as the more centralized network once led by Osama bin Laden, the officials said.”

Arrests Reveal Al Qaeda Plans: Three Saudis Seized by Morocco Outline Post-Afghanistan Strategy (06/16/02) new
In The Washington Post by Peter Finn
“Besieged by U.S. and allied forces in December in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden commanded his fighters to disperse across the globe to attack ‘American and Jewish interests,’ according to accounts officials here say they have obtained from three al Qaeda operatives who were captured in Morocco. The three men, citizens of Saudi Arabia, have told interrogators that they escaped Afghanistan and came to Morocco on a mission to use bomb-laden speedboats for suicide attacks on U.S. and British warships in the Strait of Gibraltar, senior Moroccan officials said. The men were captured in May in a joint Moroccan-CIA operation.”

Scholar warns West of Muslim goals (06/18/02) new
At United Press International by Uwe Siemon-Netto
“A leader of the small worldwide Muslim reform movement warned the West Tuesday against wishful thinking as the U.S. government promotes an intensive dialogue with Islam. ‘The dialogue is not proceeding well because of the two-facedness of most Muslim interlocutors on the one hand and the gullibility of well-meaning Western idealists on the other,’ said Bassam Tibi.”

Iraq’s tortured children (06/22/02) new
By John Sweeney of BBC News
“Ali talked about the paranoid frenzy that rules Baghdad — the tortures, the killings, the corruption, the crazy gangster violence of Saddam and his two sons. And the faking of the mass baby funerals. You may have seen them on TV. Small white coffins parading through the streets of Baghdad on the roofs of taxis, an angry crowd of mourners, condemning Western sanctions for killing the children of Iraq. Usefully, the ages of the dead babies — ‘three days old’, ‘four days old’ — are written in English on the coffins. I wonder who did that.”

2 FBI Whistle-Blowers Allege Lax Security, Possible Espionage (06/19/02) new
In The Washington Post by James V. Grimaldi
“In separate cases, two new FBI whistle-blowers are alleging mismanagement and lax security — and in one case possible espionage — among those who translate and oversee some of the FBI’s most sensitive, top-secret wiretaps in counterintelligence and counterterrorist investigations. The allegations of one of the whistle-blowers have prompted two key senators — Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) — to pose critical questions about the FBI division working on the front line of gathering and analyzing wiretaps.”

Stop — in the Name of Hate! (06/19/02) new
By Chris Weinkopf at FrontPage Magazine
“To the champions of hate-crime legislation, not all victims — and not all criminals — are the same. Race, sex, religion, or sexual preferences are crucial. They distinguish truly ghastly crimes from the mundane. Which groups are entitled to special protection (or extra prosecution) depends entirely on which biases the self-proclaimed enemies of bias enshrine that day.”

Web Thinkers Warn of Culture Clash (06/21/02) new
In The Washington Post by Anick Jesdanun of Associated Press
“The Internet’s potential for promoting expression and empowering citizens is under threat from corporate and government policies that clash with the medium’s long-standing culture of openness, some leading Internet thinkers warned. At the annual Internet Society conference this week in Arlington, the engineers who built the Internet and many of the policymakers who follow its development urged caution as governments try to exert control and businesses look to maximize profits.”

Prepare for the big chill (06/22/02) new
By Andrew Kenny in The Spectator
“When the global warmers tell us that the stakes are very high, they are quite right. Global warming has become an immense international gravy train worth billions of dollars. It is now one of the largest recipients of government research money in the world. It finances jobs, grants, conferences, international travel and journals. It not only keeps a huge army of people in comfortable employment but also fills them with self-righteousness and moral superiority, and satisfies those deep instincts in the Green movement for meddling, hectoring, controlling and censuring.”

Silent Spring at 40: Rachel Carson’s classic is not aging well. (06/12/02)
By Ronald Bailey at Reason Online
“So 40 years after the publication of Silent Spring, the legacy of Rachel Carson is more troubling than her admirers will acknowledge. The book did point to problems that had not been adequately addressed, such as the effects of DDT on some wildlife. And given the state of the science at the time she wrote, one might even make the case that Carson’s concerns about the effects of synthetic chemicals on human health were not completely unwarranted. Along with other researchers, she was simply ignorant of the facts. But after four decades in which tens of billions of dollars have been wasted chasing imaginary risks without measurably improving American health, her intellectual descendants don’t have the same excuse.”

Federal Judge Throws Out Charge in Shoe Bomb Case (06/11/02)
By The Associated Press at FOXNews
“A judge threw out one of nine charges Tuesday against a man accused of trying to blow up a jetliner with explosives in his shoes, ruling that an airplane is not a vehicle under a new anti-terrorism law. The charge — attempting to wreck a mass transportation vehicle — was filed under the USA Patriot Act, which was passed by Congress after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. U.S. District Judge William Young said that although an airplane was engaged in mass transportation it is not a vehicle as defined by the new law.”

Dispatcher Says She Was Told Not to Report Shoe-Bomb Incident (06/13/02)
In The New York Times by Matthew L. Wald
“The American Airlines dispatcher who was monitoring a trans-Atlantic flight when the captain reported that a passenger had a shoe bomb said today that her supervisor tried to prevent her from notifying the authorities. The supervisor worried that law enforcement officials would delay the plane on the ground, the dispatcher said. In a complaint filed with the Federal Aviation Administration, the dispatcher said her supervisor ‘instructed me to hold off informing the authorities because the flight would be remotely parked, and “it would be forever before we could get the plane out of there.”’”

Shoe-bomb flight conduct criticized (06/13/02)
In The Dallas Morning News by Jim Morris
“The American Airlines dispatcher who helped guide the flight carrying a suspected shoe-bomber to a safe landing in December alleged in a whistle-blower complaint Wednesday that airline supervisors interfered with her during the incident and threatened her afterward. In a complaint filed with the director of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Whistleblower Protection Program, Julie Robichaux, a 12-year American employee, said she was subjected to ‘intimidation, threats and disciplinary action’ after criticizing the airline’s handling of Flight 63 on Dec. 22.”

Post-Sept. 11 “Backlash” Proves Difficult to Quantify (06/12/02)
In The New Jersey Law Journal by Jim Edwards
“With five lawsuits filed in three states last week by the American Civil Liberties Union, all alleging racial profiling of Arabs and Asians on airplanes, Americans could be forgiven for thinking that the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon had turned the country into a nation of vigilantes and bigots. But 10 months after the events, the official numbers tell a less alarming story. While there certainly was a hike in such bias claims since September, it’s hard to say that the increase was serious or even statistically significant.”

Much of Sept. 11 Charity Remains to Be Disbursed (06/11/02)
In The Washington Post by Lena H. Sun, Sarah Cohen and Jacqueline L. Salmon
“Of the $2.3 billion raised by the largest charities in the nine months since the terrorist attacks, 29 cents of each dollar has gone to the survivors of those killed. A survey by The Washington Post of the major charities, which raised virtually all of the funds that flowed in after Sept. 11, found that roughly 20 cents of each dollar has gone to displaced workers and others affected by the attacks and an additional 40 cents has yet to be distributed. Several charities reported that money continues to come in — in one case an average of $21,500 a day — even though the organizations have long since ended their appeals for donations.”

The State of the Special Relationship (June 2002)
By Robin Harris in Policy Review
“If America’s European allies only France and Britain possessed a significant capacity to assist in the war on terrorism, and only Britain had the will. A British task force was accordingly deployed in the Gulf; British submarines fired Tomahawks against Taliban targets on two occasions. Within Afghanistan, members of Britain’s SAS regiment — without doubt the most skilled special service forces in the world — performed taxing and dangerous tasks with great success, notably in attacking the al Qaeda training camp outside Kandahar and in hand-to-hand fighting in the Tora Bora region. British forces are still involved in mopping-up operations against the enemy. The pity is that from first to last these exploits have mattered little in the overall outcome. This has been America’s war, and the U.S. has fought it according to its own battle plan and almost entirely with its own resources.”

Occasionally, some links are moved from this section into the Featured Webpages Trove.

Classic articles that are, or should be, famous (new at top)

Advice to Graduates About Advice (06/06/1971)
By Edward C. Banfield at Claremont McKenna College
“Figures of speech, especially metaphors, are peculiarly serviceable to people who give advice about social problems. The use of them tends to create an emotional response in the listener that enhances the urgency of the ‘problem’ thus raising the value of the putative ‘solution’ that the advice-giver offers. I sometimes wonder if we could have an ‘urban crisis’ without a good supply of metaphors. Suppose that a writer could not speak of ‘decaying neighborhoods’ but instead had to say what he meant straight out — say that the well-off have moved away from aging unfashionable neighborhoods, that this has given the less well-off opportunities to move into housing better than they formerly had, and that they, for obvious reasons, are in most instances disposed to spend less on the repair and maintenance of houses than the former occupiers were. Or suppose that a United States Senator instead of saying, as one recently did, that ‘the cities are mortally sick and getting sicker’ and that the ‘states are in a state of chronic crisis’ had to speak plainly — in this instance, perhaps, to say that although in the last decade the cities and states have increased their revenues by a factor of three, there are nevertheless many voters who would like to have more spent, provided of course that the taxes are paid mainly by others.”

The End of History? (Summer 1989)
By Francis Fukuyama in The National Interest
“The triumph of the West, of the Western idea, is evident first of all in the total exhaustion of viable systematic alternatives to Western liberalism. In the past decade, there have been unmistakable changes in the intellectual climate of the world’s two largest communist countries, and the beginnings of significant reform movements in both. But this phenomenon extends beyond high politics and it can be seen also in the ineluctable spread of consumerist Western culture in such diverse contexts as the peasants’ markets and color television sets now omnipresent throughout China, the cooperative restaurants and clothing stores opened in the past year in Moscow, the Beethoven piped into Japanese department stores, and the rock music enjoyed alike in Prague, Rangoon, and Tehran. What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government. This is not to say that there will no longer be events to fill the pages of Foreign Affairs’s yearly summaries of international relations, for the victory of liberalism has occurred primarily in the realm of ideas or consciousness and is as yet incomplete in the real or material world. But there are powerful reasons for believing that it is the ideal that will govern the material world in the long run.”

An Explosion of Green (Apr. 1995)
By Bill McKibben in The Atlantic
“In the early nineteenth century the cleric Timothy Dwight reported that the 240-mile journey from Boston to New York City passed through no more than twenty miles of forest. Surveying the changes wrought by farmers and loggers in New Hampshire, he wrote, ‘The forests are not only cut down, but there appears little reason to hope that they will ever grow again.’ Less than two centuries later, despite great increases in the state’s population, 90 percent of New Hampshire is covered by forest. Vermont was 35 percent woods in 1850 and is 80 percent today, and even Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island have seen woodlands rebound to the point where they cover nearly three fifths of southern New England. This process, which began as farmers abandoned the cold and rocky pastures of the East for the fertile fields of the Midwest, has not yet run its course.... This unintentional and mostly unnoticed renewal of the rural and mountainous East — not the spotted owl, not the salvation of Alaska’s pristine ranges — represents the great environmental story of the United States, and in some ways of the whole world. Here, where ‘suburb’ and ‘megalopolis’ were added to the world’s vocabulary, an explosion of green is under way, one that could offer hope to much of the rest of the planet.”

The Doomslayer (Feb. 1997)
By Ed Regis in Wired
“The world is getting progressively poorer, and it’s all because of population, or more precisely, overpopulation. There’s a finite store of resources on our pale blue dot, spaceship Earth, our small and fragile tiny planet, and we’re fast approaching its ultimate carrying capacity. The limits to growth are finally upon us, and we’re 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. That’s the standard and canonical litany.... There’s 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.’”

A brilliant parody:

Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity (Spring/Summer 1996)
By Alan Sokal in Social Text
“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, ...

A Physicist Experiments with Cultural Studies (May/June 1996)
By Alan Sokal in Lingua Franca
“For some years I’ve been troubled by an apparent decline in the standards of rigor in certain precincts of the academic humanities. But I’m 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.... What’s going on here? Could the editors really not have realized that my article was written as a parody?”

Networks Need a Reality Check: A firsthand account of liberal bias at CBS News. (02/13/1996)
By Bernard Goldbert in The Wall Street Journal
“There are lots of reasons fewer people are watching network news, and one of them, I’m more convinced than ever, is that our viewers simply don’t trust us. And for good reason. The old argument that the networks and other ‘media elites’ have a liberal bias is so blatantly true that it’s hardly worth discussing anymore. No, we don’t sit around in dark corners and plan strategies on how we’re going to slant the news. We don’t have to. It comes naturally to most reporters.”

There is No Time, There Will Be Time (11/18/1998)
By Peggy Noonan in Forbes ASAP
“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.”

Up to Columns Classic
Featured Pages & Sites Only
Featured Pages & Sites Only

The View’s Featured Websites, Series, and Multi-Part Articles
(links to other sites)

Down to Sources Reference Collections Columnists Weblogs Series

Mostly sources of news and opinion (alphabetical)

Arts & Letters Daily
Articles of Note — New Books — Essays and Opinion

Business Daily Review
Features and Analysis — Opinions and Reviews — Strategy and Tactics

Catholic Dossier
Issues in the Round

Catholic News Service
U.S. Catholic Conference

Catholic Telecommunications
Bringing people together

Catholic World Report
“CWR is an international news magazine published by Ignatius Press.”

City Journal
The Manhattan Institute

Cybercast News Service

Tech News. Filtered Daily.

First Things
The Journal of Religion and Public Life

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education
“FIRE is a nonprofit educational foundation devoted to free speech, individual liberty, religious freedom, the rights of conscience, legal equality, due process, and academic freedom on our nation’s campuses.”

FrontPage Magazine
David Horowitz

The Hoover Digest: Research and Opinion on Public Policy
Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace

Jim Romenesko’s MediaNews

All the junk that’s fit to debunk

Lucianne’s News Forum
Latest Articles

America’s News Page

Notable Quotables Archive @ Media Research Center
“A bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous,
sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media.”

RealClear Politics
political commentary for the political junkie

Reason Online
Free Minds and Free Markets

The World’s Leading Provider of Financial Information and News

SciTech Daily Review
Features and Background — Books and Media — Analysis and Opinion

Statistical Assessment Service (STATS)
“A non-partisan, non-profit research organization... devoted to the accurate use of scientific and social research in public policy debate.”

Tech Central Station
Where Free Markets Meet Technology

United Press International
From the News Wire

Opinion Journal
Wall Street Journal editorial page

The Wilson Quarterly
Surveying the world of ideas for the intellectually curious reader

A Free Press for a Free People

ZENIT News Agency
The World Seen from Rome

Reference, etc.

American Heritage Dictionary @
Fourth Edition

Columbia Encyclopedia @
Sixth Edition

The U.S. Constitution Online
Including Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, and other fundamental documents of US history and law

Founder’s Library
Historical American documents

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature @
Eighteen volumes, originally published 1907-1921

Catholic Encyclopedia
“Actual work on the Encyclopedia was begun in January, 1905. It was completed in April, 1914.”

IntraText Digital Library
The missing link between text and hypertext

The 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 expertise.”

The Internet Archive
Building an “Internet Library”

Collections, etc.

Special Wayback Collections at The Internet Archive:

The September 11 Web Archive
“This collection of archived documents was commissioned by the Library of Congress to preserve digital materials covering the events of September 11, 2001.”

US Election 2000
“This collection was commissioned by the Library of Congress to archive digital materials covering the Election of 2000. It contains 800 gigabytes of data gathered from 8/1/2000 to 1/21/2001.”

Web Pioneers: The Early Years
“A special Wayback collection of websites that began the Internet revolution.”

A chronicle of high-level USA government actions in September 2001, at two websites:

Ten 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.”

Response to Terror (Austin American Stateman)
“This is an eight-part series by The Washington Post describing the response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks at the highest levels of government.”

News coverage of September 11 and the aftermath:

Fighting Terrorism: America Retaliates (BG)
“Archive stories from the Boston Globe: Tuesday Sept. 11 – Sunday Sept. 16”

Attack on America (Guardian Unlimited)
Special Report with continuing coverage

Miscellaneous Collections:

Catholic Poets @ ELCore.Net
Joyce Kilmer, Alice Meynell, Joseph Mary Plunkett

Verse @
Public-domain Anthologies and Individual Volumes

HTI 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.”

Newman Reader
Life and Works of Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman

What We Think of America (Granta)
“In this issue twenty-four writers drawn from many countries describe the part America has played in their lives — for better or worse — and deliver their estimate of the good and the bad it has done as the world’s supreme political, military, economic and cultural power.”

Hot Issues: Persecution (Christianity Today)
Reports of contemporary persecution of Christians world-wide

Gay Activism in Schools (Teachers in Focus)
“A single-themed issue on homosexual activism in the schools”

Skepticism Toward The Skeptical Environmentalist (Scientific American)
The Great Debate between Lomborg and Anti-Lomborgs

Document Archive in English (ZENIT)
The World Seen from Rome

Archives: Fallout of September 11 (ZENIT)
The World Seen from Rome

STATS Spotlight (Statistical Assessment Service)
“Here are pieces of more extensive unpublished STATS research.”

Legacy of Shame (New Times LA)
News and opinion about Roger Cardinal Mahony

A Trust Betrayed:
Sexual Abuse by Teachers (Education Week)

“This three-part series on child sex abuse by school employees is the result of a six-month project by Education Week involving scores of interviews with state and local education and law-enforcement officials, other experts, teachers, principals, parents, and victims, as well as an extensive review of court documents, journal articles, and public-policy records.”

Catholic Church Abuse Scandal (Yahoo! News)
U.S. Full Coverage

The Crusades (Catholic Dossier)
“It is difficult for one who lives in an increasingly secularized society not to be influenced by its prejudices. One of the great misunderstandings in the West, even among Catholics, has to do with the Crusades. This issue of Catholic Dossier provides fundamental and irrefutable historical information about what actually happened and why.”

Pope Pius XII (Catholic Dossier)
“The accomplishments of the Vatican diplomatic corps in the various countries occupied by the Germans, over which the sinister Eichmann preyed, had received the plaudits of all free men, not least those in the new country of Israel. There groves were planted in honor of the Pope and of many of his nuncios, not least Cardinal Roncalli who, as nuncio in Istanbul, had been the good right arm of Pius in rescuing Jews. Pius XII escaped martyrdom during his lifetime, but he has been subjected to the martyrdom of vilification, defamation and incredible falsification after his death.”

The New Rise of Islam (Catholic World Report)
“Late in the 20th century, the renewed vigor of Islam has become one of the most important developments on the world scene. By dint of their energetic proselytism, their migration to new lands, and their high birth rate, Muslims are rapidly gaining attention and influence in many countries where their faith has heretofore been virtually unknown. CWR aims to make readers better acquainted with Islam, with a primer on the religious principles, and public practices of that faith.”

Christianity and Islam, Terrorism and War (Catholic World Report)
“Why have thousands of Muslims joined in anti-American protests in Pakistan, Kenya, and Indonesia since the start of the US air strikes on terrorist bases in Afghanistan? These demonstrators are not all supporters of al-Qaeda, thirsting for American blood; they are not Arabs, caught up in the political turmoil of the Middle East. They are united only by the Muslim faith. Is it Islam, then, that prods them toward violence?”

The Cross and the Crescent (Catholic World Report)
“To a remarkable degree, America has united behind President Bush in the war on terrorism. For the first time since World War II there is an overwhelming consensus that we are fighting a necessary battle, for a just cause. That national unity is a clear sign of strength, and a clear warning to our enemies. Nevertheless, beneath the surface of that consensus the careful observer can still detect signs of the fault lines within American society. We are united against terrorists, but divided among ourselves.”

Other columnists (alphabetical)

Diane Alden

Ann Coulter
Town Hall

Bill Dunn
Faith and Funnies

Victor Davis Hanson
National Review Online

Charles Krauthammer
Washington Post

Michael Kelly
Washington Post

Jonah Goldberg
National Review Online

Jonah Goldberg
Town Hall

Nat Hentoff
The Village Voice

John Mallon

Steve Milloy
Fox News

Peggy Noonan
Opinion Journal

Fred Reed
Commentary with Moxie

Mark Steyn
National Post

Deb Weiss
A View from Here

George F. Will
Washington Post

Weblogs (alphabetical)

The Blog from the Core
E. L. Core
Needless Commentary From Small-Town America

Ad Orientem
Mark C. N. Sullivan

Michael Dubruiel
(husband of blogger Amy Welborn)
International politics, economics, and foreign policy

Exposing Left-Wing Lunacy

Catholic and Enjoying It!
Mark Shea
“So That No Thought of Mine, No Matter How Stupid, Should Ever Go Unpublished Again!”
Compiled by Ted Olsen and others

The Conservative Underground
Oubai Shabandar, Shanna Bowman, Dan Moody, Tim Richards
Culture Progress Justice

The Corner
National Review Online
(The Blog Mother Ship, according to Kevin James)

cut on the bias
Susanna Cornett
“keeping an eye on the spins and weirdness of media, crime and everyday life”
“Conservatism reborn in twisted sisterhood”

Fool’s Folly
Emily Stimpson
Proverbs 12:23

The Goliard Blog
Kevin James
Your Destination for Deep Thoughts and Alleged Insights

Holy Weblog!
M. J. Garcia
A faithful look at the Net.

In Between Naps
Amy Welborn
(wife of blogger Michael Dubruiel)

Juan Gato’s Bucket o’ Rants
Bunch of crap from a moron.

Jumping to Conclusions
David Nieporent
“Thoughts, comments, musings on life, politics, current events and the media.”

Louder Fenn’s Whirligig
Perpetual ephemera

Mallon’s Media Watch
John Mallon
“MMW is a Catholic blog site featuring news analysis, response to and commentary on misinformed media reports on the Catholic Church.”

Media Minded
(An anonymous copy editor looks at the media, especially newspapers.)

Minute Particulars
Mark DB

Nota Bene
Sean Gallagher
Humble (oh really...?) opinions on matters of faith

Fr. Nectarios Trevino
A weblog of American Orthodoxy.

“The political rantings of Josh Chafetz, a graduate student in political theory at Oxford, Dan Urman, a graduate student in international relations at Oxford, and Anand Giridharadas, a junior at the University of Michigan spending the year at Oxford.”

Relapsed Catholic
Kathy Shaidle
Where the religious rubber meets the pop culture road...

Rhetorica: Commentary and Analysis
Andrew R. Cline, Ph.D.
Politics, Journalism, Rhetoric, Persuasion, Propaganda, and Spin

Sand in the Gears
Anthony Woodlief
Clogging up juggernauts since 1967.
Scott’s little outpost of sanity on the web.

Chris Burgwald
“A blog among friends devoted to the usually serious but occasionally frivolous search for truth in things theological, philosophical, political, historical, etc. etc.”

Series and multi-part articles of news or opinion (new at top)

Four columns by Rod Dreher at National Review Online about the June bishops’ meeting in Dallas:

The Dallas Outlook: The American bishops need a conversion. (06/12/02)
“The final hurdle the bishops must clear is... themselves. Catholics and non-Catholics alike have been sickened and astonished to confront the repugnant sex crimes — child-rape chief among them — committed by priests. They wonder, as any normal person would, what kind of men in a position of authority can learn of these unspeakable acts and fail to act to stop them. They wonder, as any normal person would, what kind of Christian leaders would protect child predators, unleash lawyers on victims of these priests, and publicly lie about these matters. They wonder, as any normal person would, why, after all that failed bishops have on their conscience — including secret sexual sin of their own — they do not resign, and go to a monastery to do penance for the rest of their lives.”

Dallas Diary: In town with the bishops. (06/13/02)
“One wonders why the bishops refused the offer of the Catholic Medical Association, a group whose number includes faithful Catholic psychiatrists who actually believe what the Church teaches, to offer their expertise at this meeting. Actually, given the lavender mafia’s power, one does not wonder for long. Here’s a recent open letter from one of the CMA’s leaders, to the bishops, saying that same-sex attraction in the priesthood is at the heart of this scandal. The bishops don’t want to hear it. And neither do the media. I’m hearing from inside press circles that reporters, editors and producers don’t want to look at the gay issue. Michael S. Rose, author of Goodbye, Good Men, is in Dallas. I spoke yesterday to a TV reporter who wants to interview Rose about his findings, but who received word from the top to stay away from him. I can’t prove it, but from the anecdotes I’m hearing, the need to avoid the ‘elephant in the sacristy,’ in Mary Eberstadt’s memorable phrase, is perhaps the only point on which the bishops and the media agree.”

Dallas Diary, Part II: Outside and around the main event. (06/14/02)
“Also absent from the conference: any official place for conservative voices of reform. Appleby and Steinfels had some good things to say, certainly, but concluded with liberal-style calls for more lay involvement. ‘This doesn’t look good,’ said Phil Lawler, editor of Catholic World Report. ‘Who on the agenda, anywhere on the agenda, is known as a stalwart defender of Catholic teaching on sexual morality?’ Lawler’s comment gets to the heart of why conservatives are not welcome here: They would have raised the issue of homosexuality among the clergy, absent which this scandal cannot be fully understood, much less dealt with. Helen Hull Hitchcock, leader of the orthodox Women for Faith and Family, asked the bishops in an afternoon press conference what it meant that as many as 90 percent of these publicly known abuse cases involve priests having sex with teenage boys. She did not get a straight answer, so to speak.”

Done in Dallas: The problems that persist. (06/17/02)
“Though the policy they adopted on Friday is clearly the strongest stand they’ve ever taken against priest sex abuse, and that there is a lot of good in it (even if it will probably be rejected by Rome), there is little reason to believe that it is much more than a quick-fix pseudo-solution, a bone tossed to quiet the baying pack of journalists and lay activists. One is most impressed not by what they did, but by what they left undone. Aside from not addressing the root causes of the scandal, the bishops refused to accept personal accountability for their paramount role in the scandal. Not one resigned. Not one was asked to resign, at least publicly. Words of apology ring hollow when not followed by action. As C. S. Lewis said, ‘A long face is not a moral disinfectant.’”

Joe Klein is writing a multi-part report from Europe for The Guardian:

France? It’s like 1970s America (05/28/02)
“Over the next six weeks, Joe Klein, America’s leading political commentator, will be travelling through Europe for the Guardian. Today, 36 years after he first arrived there in search of “dark-eyed lovelies with difficult personalities”, he reports from France”

The Prince (06/06/02)
“Is Silvio Berlusconi a medieval thowback to a time when rich men could buy power? Or the shape of things to come? And is he dangerous — or just a colourful rogue? In the second of his weekly dispatches from Europe, Joe Klein meets the billionaire prime minister who just wants to be loved”

new How the Solidarity dream turned sour (06/12/02)
“Poland was eastern Europe’s great success story, a reborn country that had embraced free markets and liberal democracy and stood poised to join the EU. But now its economy is in tatters and ugly Catholic nationalism is on the rise. In the third of his weekly dispatches from Europe, Joe Klein asks what went wrong”

new How Germany was suffocated (06/19/02)
“For 57 years Germany has been struggling to make amends for its Nazi past and be accepted by its neighbours. But has its desire to avoid discord stifled the nation's public life and prevented much needed reform? On the fourth leg of his European tour, Joe Klein finds a society addled by ‘ferocious blandness’”

The Problem of Sexual Molestation by Roman Catholic Clergy: Meeting the Problem in a Comprehensive and Responsible Manner (the 1985 report to American Bishops):

First Part
Executive Summary, Table of Contents, Forward, Introduction, Descriptions of Possible Case Scenarios, Summary of Considerations

Second Part
Summary of Considerations (cont.), Project Proposal, Scope of Services, Strategy, Conclusion

Related articles in The New York Times on the last messages to come out of the World Trade Center after the first plane struck:

History Recorded From the Messages of Victims (05/26/02)
“The primary sources for today’s article are interviews with more than 140 people who communicated with individuals on the upper floors of the twin towers, and conversations with 17 others who were at or above the impact zone in the south tower but escaped. Additionally, eight people described conditions just below the impact zone in the north tower.”

102 Minutes: Fighting to Live as the Towers Died (05/26/02)
“They began as calls for help, information, guidance. They quickly turned into soundings of desperation, and anger, and love. Now they are the remembered voices of the men and women who were trapped on the high floors of the twin towers. From their last words, a haunting chronicle of the final 102 minutes at the World Trade Center has emerged, built on scores of phone conversations and e-mail and voice messages. These accounts, along with the testimony of the handful of people who escaped, provide the first sweeping views from the floors directly hit by the airplanes and above. Collected by reporters for The New York Times, these last words give human form to an all but invisible strand of this stark, public catastrophe: the advancing destruction across the top 19 floors of the north tower and the top 33 of the south, where loss of life was most severe on Sept. 11. Of the 2,823 believed dead in the attack on New York, at least 1,946, or 69 percent, were killed on those upper floors, an analysis by The Times has found.”

Accounts From the North Tower (05/26/02)
“Following are accounts from survivors of the attack on the World Trade Center’s North Tower and the friends and relatives of the victims.”

Accounts From the South Tower (05/26/02)
“Following are accounts from survivors of the attack on the World Trade Center’s South Tower and the friends and relatives of the victims.”

Occasionally, some links are moved from this section into the Featured Webseries Trove.

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This View’s Column

“Love is not all”

The Gospel is not Merely Love

To justify a Christian acceptance of active homosexuality, a writer for the Chicago Sun-Times attempts to reduce the Gospel to nothing more than “love” — by which she seems to mean the unthinking acceptance of whatever makes people feel good. Similar attempts have been perpetrated since at least the early part of the nineteenth century. Of course, the Gospel is Love — in a properly and strictly defined sense allowing for necessary distinctions. But the absolute equation of Christianity with non-judgemental love is simply false. And, applied loosely as a general principle, non-judgemental love can be used to justify, and to demand acceptance of, any actions whatever.

God Doesn’t Make Junk

Edna St. Vincent Millay, winner of the 1923 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, wrote some of the most powerful sonnets ever to enter the canon of English verse. One of them is especially noteworthy for its muscular, sinewy — and paradoxical — expression of a very romantic notion:

Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain,
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
and rise and sink and rise and sink again.
Love cannot fill the thickened lung with breath
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
pinned down by need and moaning for release
or nagged by want past resolution’s power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It may well be. I do not think I would.

(Sonnet XXX in Fatal Interview, Sonnet XCIX in Collected Poems)

Somewhere in my heart, I think that I too would say, “I do not think I would.” Yet, my head tells me the poet was right at the start: “Love is not all”.

Cathleen Falsani, religion writer for the Chicago Sun-Times, would seem to disagree with me. The newspaper published an opinion piece by her, May 26, called Film asks: Can a Christian also be a homosexual? It is a reflection prompted by her viewing of Family Fundamentals, a documentary that was showing at the Art Institute in Chicago. The film takes a look at three “gay” persons from what Falsani calls “conservative Christian homes”.

I have not seen the film, so I’ll take her at her word for whatever she says about it. And here is what she said about it; I quote her column in its entirety, lest I take anything out of context. I also intersperse my own remarks.

Ten years ago, in the summer after graduating from our religiously conservative alma mater, two of my closest college friends came out. Since then, five more of my college friends have stopped keeping their homosexuality a secret. In every case, the decision to come out of the closet was gut wrenching. They worried about whether their family and friends would still love them. But more than that, they questioned whether their God would still accept them.

How about that? These individuals think, or thought, that how they behave might actually have a bearing on their relationship with God. Er... excuse me... on their relationship with “their” God — whoever He/She/They/It might be.

Can a person be a Christian and a homosexual? We all heard the same answer in our college classes: No. Homosexuals who acted on their sexual urges were living a life of sin, we were taught. Christians are supposed to be transformed in mind and spirit, we were taught. Hate the sin but love the sinner, we were taught.

As far as I can tell, Falsani was taught right. As you might already expect, though, she has apparently come to think otherwise. Indeed, I suspect her column would not have been written or published if she hadn’t.

After he came out to his conservative Christian family, one of my friends told me that growing up, at the beginning of every school year, he would pray for hours that God would make his homosexuality go away. He didn’t want to be gay. He begged God to change him. The balance of his faith and his sexuality remains tenuous. His family would not accept his sexuality, though they don’t shun him. But they don’t fully support him, either. Another friend’s family has disowned him. And he disowned the church because of it.

The homosexual young man begged God to change him — and God didn’t. And that means?... Apparently, it means that homosexuality is right by God. After all, in the words of that unfathomably deep theological maxim, God Doesn’t Make Junk. Right?

Now, I don’t know any pedophiles, so I can’t say this for sure. But I would be rather surprised if there has never been a pedophile who begged God to change him. He didn’t want to be attracted to the seven-year-old across the street, don’t you know. And God didn’t change him, either. So... that means pedophilia is right by God. Right?

As I watched “Family Fundamentals,” a documentary that premiered at the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute Friday, I saw the faces of my gay friends from college. I saw the pain in their eyes. I saw the longing in their hearts. I saw their love for God and stubborn faith in Jesus Christ.

“Family Fundamentals” follows the stories of three gay children from conservative Christian homes as they grapple with their sexuality, their faith and their families.

I suppose this Family Fundamentals could be an interesting documentary.

I also suppose that following the stories of three “gay” children from liberal homes, Christian or not, who underwent therapy and now live healthy heterosexual lives as conservative fundamentalist Protestants would make for an interesting documentary, too.

Where is that one showing? (I know: not at the Art Institute in Chicago.)

There is Susan, the lesbian daughter of a Pentecostal Christian mother who is active in a religious movement that believes homosexuality can be “cured.” There’s Brett, the gay son of a Mormon bishop from Utah, who was discharged from the military and is estranged from his family because of his sexuality. And then there’s Brian, the gay Republican who has been shunned by his surrogate father, a conservative Roman Catholic former congressman known for his diatribes against homosexuality on the floor of the Capitol.

What Capitol might that be? How come I have never heard of this before?

“I feel like a fly on the wall, or a shadow,” Brett says. “What makes them think that my faith is any less than their faith? What makes them think that they can try harder to make me straight than I already have? Anything that they can’t refute is the devil’s work because they have their faith, they have their belief, they know what’s right,” Brett says as he begins to cry. “Heaven forbid they should have to go through this.”

Brett cried? You bet Brett cried. And you bet they got it on film. And you bet Falsani mentioned it in her article.

Did any of the parents cry? Or did they edit that out?

Like some of my friends’ parents, Brett’s mother and father have never cut off their love for their son. But they can’t have a conversation with him that doesn’t begin and end with a condemnation of his “lifestyle.”

I suppose this remark by Falsani is a criticism of the parents, though I may be taking it the wrong way. If their son were a pedophile, however, I suppose a similar remark by Falsani would indeed not be a criticism of the parents. Go figure.

The documentary does not give in to the black-and-white, anyone-who-believes-homosexuality-is-a-sin-is-small-minded-and-mean cliche. The parents are as complicated as the children, and their relationships are as complicated as any family relationships are.

Don’t tell me. The parents are complicated, and the relationships are complicated — but the parents are plainly and simply wrong. No?

Susan’s mother Kathleen truly believes she is right and what she’s doing is helpful, just as much as her daughter believes she is who she is and that’s OK with God. “The Bible says homosexuality is a sin and it’s wrong; that it’s a destructive behavior that will not bring happiness,” Kathleen says. “It’s just wrong. You can’t argue with that. That’s just the way it is.”

As far as I know, that is what Christians have believed for 2,000 years. But... wait! As we shall see below, Christians have gotten things pretty much fundamentally wrong for 2,000 years. Fortunately, God has sent us His Son... er... no... God has sent us a writer for the Chicago Sun-Times to set us straight.

Her daughter respectfully disagrees. “A relationship with God is constituted upon where you put Jesus in your life. If you believe in Jesus Christ as the son of God and accept him as your savior, you have a relationship with God,” Susan says. “It’s not my mother’s responsibility to monitor my relationship with God. It’s my responsibility. It’s her responsibility to treat me with love and compassion and as a daughter and a family.”

I must agree: it’s not her mother’s responsibility to “monitor” her relationship with God.

But Susan’s minimalistic kind of theology — “If you believe in Jesus Christ as the son of God and accept him as your savior, you have a relationship with God” — strikes me as pretty much brain-dead. (It is, of course, based upon taking snippets of Bible verses out of context, and setting them up as the entirety of the Gospel; but a discussion of these is beyond the scope of this essay.) Seeing as how David Koresh, Pope John Paul II, Richard Nixon, Martin Luther, King Henry VIII, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush could all, I think, be said to have believed in Jesus as the Son of God and to have accepted him as their savior, I’m not sure I can see the significance of saying it here.

Unless, of course, it is to justify any (sexual) behavior, no matter what. I think Koresh, for instance, may have really liked this idea.

I’m on Susan’s side.

What a surprise.

See, I’ve been taught a lot of different things about what the Bible says and what it doesn’t say, what it means and what it doesn’t mean. But there are a few things I know for sure. Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love each other and to love God. And somewhere in there I remember reading, “Judge not lest you be judged,” and “Whoever is without sin, cast the first stone.”

Well, let’s just open all the prison doors and let everybody out. And the Bible does say a lot more than that, too, doesn’t it?

I don’t know if homosexuality is right or wrong or neither. And I don’t think it’s my job to figure that out.

Does she really mean that? If so, why is she writing about this?

What I do know is that I must love people and that matters more than anything else. Whom they choose to love or not to love, to sleep with or not to sleep with, to judge or not to judge, is between them and God.

Yes, you must love people. And that does matter more than anything else.

But here we see, I think, that Falsani really does have an opinion whether homosexuality is right or wrong. And she think it’s right.

If she thought it was wrong, would she resort to It’s Between Them And God? How could she?

And if she really, really just did not know whether it was right or wrong, would she really, really argue to live and let live? Is pedophilia right or wrong? Are pedophiles just another misunderstood “sexual minority”? Is adult sexual attraction to seven-year-olds right, wrong, or neither? If you’re not sure, live and let... love. Something tells me Falsani would balk at giving that kind of advice.

Now, to continue the analogy, is not pedophilia between the pedophile and God? Who is Falsani to judge, after all, whether the pedophile has it right with God? Especially if he accepts Jesus as the Son of God and his savior? God, after all, does not make junk.

An adult lusting after... er.. I mean loving the seven-year-old across the street — well, keep your big noses out of that kind of relationship, people. It is love, don’t you know. Pedophilia actually means child-love. How dare you quarrel with something like that?

Besides, it’s between the pedophile — who loves children — and God. If you really love them, you’ll let them be.

There’d be a lot fewer shadow people if Christians could just get the one thing they’ve been commanded to do down straight. Love. With all your heart. Let God worry about the rest.

Wow. Finally. Someone has set us straight. Christians have gotten things fundamentally wrong for 2,000 years. And we have learned so by reading... a column by a reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times.

God really does work in mysterious ways, His/Her/Their/Its wonders to perform.

“Languid, Unmeaning Benevolence”

Enough of sarcasm.

I’m sure Falsani would disapprove of her “argument” for acceptance of homosexuality being applied to pedophilia. I’m also sure that the pro-pedophilia crowd rejoices to see her, or anybody, make such an “argument” for homosexuality: I cannot think of any reason why it would not apply — nay, is being applied already by its advocates — to their sexual perversion as well. That Falsani wouldn’t want it to be so applied is irrelevant.

The attempted reduction of Christianity to Mere Love, and to the acceptance of whatever calls itself love, is nothing at all new: this kind of dilution of the Gospel has been underway for centuries.

But I must take care here, for in a sense the Gospel is Love. By that, I do not mean that whatever calls itself love is compatible with the Gospel, but that whatever is done by a Christian must be done with love of God as its source and goal, and with love of neighbor founded on the love of God.

And love is the fulfillment of the Law. Surely. But that does not mean that whatever calls itself love is the replacement of the Law.

Cardinal Newman wrote about these matters, long before he became a Catholic. One of his more famous sermons, a discourse on the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, published in 1840, is called “Love, the One Thing Needful”.

From the title, it may seem that Newman agrees with Falsani. Not so. In his usual fashion, Newman analyzes the subject exhaustively, with an examination that exposes the Christian’s vague apprehension that love is not really his motivation. In his daily affairs, in his prayers, in the choices he makes — even when he knows he does the right thing, he feels that he acts more out of routine, or expectation, or some other lesser motive, than out of love of God. Newman ventured to say why this is so, and to what consequences:

These are some of the proofs which are continually brought home to us, if we attend to ourselves, of our want of love to God; and they will readily suggest others to us. If I must, before concluding, remark upon the mode of overcoming the evil, I must say plainly this, that, fanciful though it may appear at first sight to say so, the comforts of life are the main cause of it; and, much as we may lament and struggle against it, till we learn to dispense with them in good measure, we shall not overcome it. Till we, in a certain sense, detach ourselves from our bodies, our minds will not be in a state to receive divine impressions, and to exert heavenly aspirations. A smooth and easy life, an uninterrupted enjoyment of the goods of Providence, full meals, soft raiment, well-furnished homes, the pleasures of sense, the feeling of security, the consciousness of wealth, — these, and the like, if we are not careful, choke up all the avenues of the soul, through which the light and breath of heaven might come to us. A hard life is, alas! no certain method of becoming spiritually minded, but it is one out of the means by which Almighty God makes us so. We must, at least at seasons, defraud ourselves of nature, if we would not be defrauded of grace. If we attempt to force our minds into a loving and devotional temper, without this preparation, it is too plain what will follow, — the grossness and coarseness, the affectation, the effeminacy, the unreality, the presumption, the hollowness, (suffer me, my brethren, while I say plainly, but seriously, what I mean,) in a word, what Scripture calls the Hypocrisy, which we see around us; that state of mind in which the reason, seeing what we should be, and the conscience enjoining it, and the heart being unequal to it, some or other pretence is set up, by way of compromise, that men may say, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace.”

In another sermon, published five years earlier, Newman had addressed more nearly, though not quite specifically, the issues raised by Falsani:

There is a great deal of thoughtful kindness among us, of conceding in little matters, of scrupulous propriety of words, and a sort of code of liberal and honourable dealing in the conduct of society. There is a steady regard for the rights of individuals, nay, as one would fain hope in spite of misgivings, for the interest of the poorer classes, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. In such a country as ours, there must always be numberless instances of distress after all; yet the anxiety to relieve it existing among the more wealthy classes is unquestionable. And it is as unquestionable that we are somewhat disposed to regard ourselves favourably in consequence; and in the midst of our national trials and fears, to say (nay, sometimes with real humility and piety) that we do trust that these characteristic virtues of the age may be allowed to come up as a memorial before God, and to plead for us. When we think of the commandments, we know Charity to be the first and greatest; and we are tempted to ask with the young ruler, “What lack we yet?”

I ask, then, by way of reply, does not our kindness too often degenerate into weakness, and thus become not Christian Charity, but lack of Charity, as regards the objects of it? Are we sufficiently careful to do what is right and just, rather than what is pleasant? do we clearly understand our professed principles, and do we keep to them under temptation?

The answer, then and now, is “No, we do not.” Newman continued:

I wish I saw any prospect of this element of zeal and holy sternness springing up among us, to temper and give character to the languid, unmeaning benevolence which we misname Christian love. I have no hope of my country till I see it. Many schools of Religion and Ethics are to be found among us, and they all profess to magnify, in one shape or other, what they consider the principle of love; but what they lack is, a firm maintenance of that characteristic of the Divine Nature, which, in accommodation to our infirmity, is named by St. John and his brethren, the wrath of God. Let this be well observed. There are men who are advocates of Expedience; these, as far as they are religious at all, resolve conscience into an instinct of mere benevolence, and refer all the dealings of Providence with His creatures to the same one Attribute. Hence, they consider all punishment to be remedial, a means to an end, deny that the woe threatened against sinners is of eternal duration, and explain away the doctrine of the Atonement. There are others, who place religion in the mere exercise of the excited feelings; and these too, look upon their God and Saviour, as far (that is) as they themselves are concerned, solely as a God of love. They believe themselves to be converted from sin to righteousness by the mere manifestation of that love to their souls, drawing them on to Him; and they imagine that that same love, untired by any possible transgressions on their part, will surely carry forward every individual so chosen to final triumph. Moreover, as accounting that Christ has already done everything for their salvation, they do not feel that a moral change is necessary on their part, or rather, they consider that the Vision of revealed love works it in them spontaneously; in either case dispensing with all laborious efforts, all “fear and trembling,” all self-denial in “working out their salvation,” nay, looking upon such qualifications with suspicion, as leading to a supposed self-confidence and spiritual pride.

That sermon — that prophecy — is entitled “Tolerance of Religious Error”.

Msgr. Ronald Knox, who had been, like Newman, an Anglican minister before he joined the Catholic Church, also addressed this mistaken notion of Christian Love. He concluded a sermon on Catholic devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, preached in 1956, as follows:

The Sacred Heart is the treasury of all those splendid qualities with which a perfect life was lived; is the repository of all those noble thoughts which mankind still venerate in the gospels. It was the Sacred Heart that burned with anger when the traders were driven out of the temple; it was the Sacred Heart that loved the rich young man, yet would not spare him; it was the Sacred Heart that defied Pilate in his own judgment-hall. It is strong and stern and enduring; it hates prevarications and pretences. The perfect flowering of a human life, not on this occasion or that, but all through, all the time, the utter sacrifice of a human will — that is what the Sacred Heart means, and there is no picture, no statue on earth that can portray its infinite beauty. (Pastoral and Occasional Sermons, “The Heart of Christ”, p. 488)

Love, the Killing Monster

Love can be the motivation for doing absolutely anything. Thus, the wider world, and not only Christians, have much to beware in using the excuse of “love” to justify certain actions, and in demanding acceptance of them as another act of “love”.

Without warning, Feb. 24, a woman stabbed a boy to death. A thirteen-year-old boy. She stabbed him 15 times, in his own bed in his own room, until he died.

Without warning, June 8, another woman shot two men to death. Two brothers. She shot them both in the head, in their nursing-home beds. One after the other.

Both of these women killed their children. Both of these women killed their children, they say, because they loved them.

An article in the San Francisco Chronicle, March 10, tells the former story:

Donna Marie Burns Anderson was sitting in her ex-husband’s kitchen in Burlingame when her 13-year-old son Stephen walked into the room. She says she saw an “angel” in shorn locks and a bright white shirt, a beautiful boy who she was convinced was about to be taken away by pimps and pornographers. “Then I realized I couldn’t rescue Stephen,” Burns Anderson told The Chronicle. “I was the only one that was going to decide was he going to go in this child porn ring and be essentially alone for the rest of his life and be exploited, or was he going to be an angel and pass away, and I’ll take the torture. And that’s the decision I made.”

An article in the Los Angeles Times, June 20, tells the latter:

“I believe y’all are looking for me,” were the first words out of Carol Carr’s mouth. She was waiting on a couch in the nursing home lobby when the police came. She had just shot her sons, first Andy, 41, then Randy, 42. Carr had reached the end of her rope, plagued for years by a demon of an illness, Huntington’s disease, and couldn’t stand the sight of her boys wasting away in soiled sheets, unable to talk, move or even swallow. Now she faces two counts of murder. Today, Carr will be led into a courtroom in this small Georgia town, with its rusty old bridges and blooming magnolia trees, for what many here said was the ultimate act of motherly love. “She decided to go to jail for the rest of her life rather than watch her boys suffer like that,” friend Debbie Henry said. “That was her sacrifice.”

These women killed their sons. Though perhaps tainted with mental instability, their motivation was... love. What’s more, their motivation was a self-sacrificial love, knowing that they would be punished for what they did.

“Love is not all”

“Love” can motivate any action. Murder. Pedophilia. Homosexuality. Acceptance of any or all of them. Whatever.

The poet William Blake struck nearer the truth, I think, than did Millay:

The Clod & the Pebble

“Love seeketh not itself to please,
Nor for itself hath any care,
But for another gives its ease,
And builds a Heaven in Hell’s despair.”

    So sung a little Clod of Clay
    Trodden with the cattle’s feet,
    But a Pebble of the brook
    Warbled out these metres meet:

“Love seeketh only self to please,
To bind another to its delight,
Joys in another’s loss of ease,
And builds a Hell in Heaven’s despite.”

(From Songs of Experience in Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Major Authors, Sixth Edition, pp. 1294f)

“Love” can motivate any action. That is why love must be the first and the last — not the only — criterion of judgement.

© ELC 2002

Column Only

 Volume 1.20 Front Page June 24, 2002 

The View from the Core, and all original material, © E. L. Core 2002. All rights reserved.

Cor ad cor loquitur J. H. Newman — “Heart speaks to heart”