Archive for February, 2008
February 21, 2008, 9:39 am
I’ve seen this argument trotted out in our comments far too many times. Let’s put a fork in this one:
The supposed “global cooling” consensus among scientists in the 1970s — frequently offered by global-warming skeptics as proof that climatologists can’t make up their minds — is a myth, according to a survey of the scientific literature of the era. The ’70s was an unusually cold decade. Newsweek, Time, The New York Times and National Geographic published articles at the time speculating on the causes of the unusual cold and about the possibility of a new ice age.
But Thomas Peterson of the National Climatic Data Center surveyed dozens of peer-reviewed scientific articles from 1965 to 1979 and found that only seven supported global cooling, while 44 predicted warming. Peterson says 20 others were neutral in their assessments of climate trends. The study reports, “There was no scientific consensus in the 1970s that the Earth was headed into an imminent ice age. “A review of the literature suggests that, to the contrary, greenhouse warming even then dominated scientists’ thinking about the most important forces shaping Earth’s climate on human time scales.”
February 21, 2008, 8:40 am
Today’s New York Times features a number of questions that readers would pose to the Democratic candidates in this evening’s debate.
Here are three I found intriguing:
Senator Obama, in a speech in Chicago you joined the call for negotiations toward the global abolition of nuclear weapons. Senator Clinton, you have called for maintaining United States nuclear forces in “enough strength to deter others from trying to match our arsenal,” which would seem to mean nuclear superiority. Senator Obama, why do you favor changing our nuclear policy? Senator Clinton, why do you believe nuclear superiority will keep others from building up their arsenals?
— DAVID KEPPEL
The personal savings rate in this country is lower than it has been at any time since the Great Depression. No wonder: the banks offer very low interest and the government then taxes the small yield, making it even smaller. Would either candidate support the idea of making the interest earned from passbook savings accounts tax-free, thereby encouraging people to save?
— JOHN PILLAR
Hamilton Township, N.J.
To be informed, voters need to know the advisers our future president may be listening to. Who do each of you think are the two or three best qualified people to hold the positions of attorney general, secretary of defense, secretary of commerce, secretary of labor, national security adviser and secretary of energy?
— LORRAINE WOOD
What other questions strike readers of dotCom? What would you ask?
February 20, 2008, 3:27 pm
Each of us is sailing in his heart….
You’ve heard of an insult–the wind has arisen. You’re become angry–the waves are high. With the blowing wind and the surging waves, your boat is in danger, your heart is in danger; your heart is being tossed about. You’ve heard of an insult and want revenge; you get your revenge, … and you’ve shipwrecked. Because Christ was asleep in you. What does that mean? That you’ve forgotten Christ. Wake Christ up. Remember Christ, and Christ will awaken in you… The one who was asleep in your heart did not seek revenge. Awaken him; remember him. The memory of him is his word; the memory of him is his command…..
When temptation comes, the wind rises; when you are disturbed, the waves surge. Wake Christ up; let him speak to you. Who is this, that the winds and sea obey him? … Imitate the winds and sea: obey Christ. At the command of Christ, the sea listened, and you’re deaf? The sea listened, and the wind ceased, and you’re still blowing? … Don’t let the waves overwhelm you by disturbing your hearts. But because we are human, if the wind blows, if it upsets us, let us not despair: let us awaken Christ so that we can sail on a tranquil sea and reach our homeland. (Augustine, Sermon 63, 3: PL 38, 424-25)
February 20, 2008, 1:01 pm
David Hollinger at the Univ. of California, Berkeley, has a thoughtful if tough-minded review of Mark Lilla’s (regis. required) new book in the London Review of Books. For my review of Lilla see Commonweal from last October. Hollinger’s essential point is that liberal Protestantism, roughly treated by Lilla as collapsing due to intellectual incoherence and hastening the rise of fascism to fill the theological void, has a much happier history in the United States. And he ends with the intriguing claim that Barack Obama is in some ways a new chapter in the history of liberal Protestantism, seriously Christian but determined to make arguments that do not depend on confessional premises.
February 20, 2008, 12:53 pm
The new head of the German Bishops Conference on celibacy:
And when the media doesn’t have any other issues with the Church, you can always make one up: St. Pat’s Spat Pits Church Vs. Cities
February 20, 2008, 9:17 am
Continuing to protect us from the threat of global communism, the folks at the Corner voice some concerns about Obama’s parents (HT DailyKos):
Until I came across this article by Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media, which I regard as factual — with all that that implies — the questions about Obama’s background that should have come naturally never quite rose to the surface of my mind. Barack Obama is the new man, of course. His mixed race is a symbol of that. Just like Tiger Woods — as we have read, endlessly. What’s to wonder about?
But maybe it’s not so simple. Obama and I are roughly the same age. I grew up in liberal circles in New York City — a place to which people who wished to rebel against their upbringings had gravitated for generations. And yet, all of my mixed race, black/white classmates throughout my youth, some of whom I am still in contact with, were the product of very culturally specific unions. They were always the offspring of a white mother, (in my circles, she was usually Jewish, but elsewhere not necessarily) and usually a highly educated black father. And how had these two come together at a time when it was neither natural nor easy for such relationships to flourish? Always through politics. No, not the young Republicans. Usually the Communist Youth League. Or maybe a different arm of the CPUSA. But, for a white woman to marry a black man in 1958, or 60, there was almost inevitably a connection to explicit Communist politics. (During the Clinton Administration we were all introduced to then U. of Pennsylvania Professor Lani Guinier — also a half black/half Jewish, red diaper baby.) . . . Political correctness was invented precisely to prevent the mainstream liberal media from persuing the questions which might arise about how Senator Obama’s mother, from Kansas, came to marry an African graduate student. Love? Sure, why not? But what else was going on around them that made it feasible? . . . Time for some investigative journalism about the Obama family’s background, now that his chances of being president have increased so much.
February 20, 2008, 7:15 am
Lorin Maazel, music director of the New York Philharmonic, expresses in today’s WSJ, his personal justification for the orchestra’s upcoming performance in North Korea. It is a deeply personal statement which concludes:
I composed an opera to a text drawn from George Orwell’s scathing indictment of tyranny, “1984.” I spent years of my life wrestling with its horrors: brutal torture, systematic injustice, contempt for any human dignity. One of the subtle currents flowing through the novel is the power of music, notwithstanding its official suppression by Big Brother, to nurture and inspire the populace in the face of oppression. My experience with Orwell only affirms the profoundly ethical role I believe the arts and artists have to play.
I write from Asia, where we are on the second leg of the Philharmonic’s tour, after three concerts in Taiwan. The tensions surrounding the history of Hong Kong, Taiwan and China are slowly fading. What a different world it is here now from the one I knew 40 years back, when the sound of saber-rattling frightened us all.
A similar transformation may one day come to pass in Korea, where many believe the time has come to take the tiny steps that must be taken to lessen tensions, forging small accommodations and leading perhaps to a lasting reconciliation. We all wish them well on their way, long and arduous as it may be
February 19, 2008, 11:06 pm
Hope I’m not stealing Peggy’s thunder, but…
Here are CNN’s Democratic exit polls, and here are their GOP exits.
Worth noting in the Democratic race: While Clinton and Obama nearly split the overall Catholic vote, 50 percent (Hillary) to 48 percent (Barack), Clinton won the weekly-Mass-attending Catholics, 52 percent to 44 percent, while Obama took the less frequent Massgoers, 52 percent to 48 percent. Obama won the overall churchgoing vote–frequent and less frequent alike. Protestants who attend services weekly broke for Obama, 60 to 40. Less frequent Protestant churchgoers also preferred Obama, 55 percent to 45. Sure, Wisconsin favors Obama in a lot of ways (obviously), but what happened to Hillary’s pillars of support? Can she recover from this rout without trouncing Obama in Texas and in Ohio? And how likely is that outcome?
In the GOP “contest,” McCain won the overall Protestant and Catholic vote. Huckabee won the very frequent Protestant churchgoers while McCain won all the other churchgoers (Protestant and Catholic). And everyone else. When is Huck going to concede?
February 19, 2008, 9:22 pm
Above all, keep this in mind: Do not be distressed when you have not yet understood the Scriptures, and don’t puff yourself up when you have. What you haven’t understood set aside, with respect; and what you have understood keep, with love. (Augustine, Sermo, 51:35)
February 19, 2008, 4:11 pm
In a review essay in Catholic World Report, Russell Shaw quotes a strikingly pessimistic passage from former Commonweal columnist David Carlin:
“Reviewing the evidence of decline in his book The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America (Sophia Institute Press, 2003), David Carlin concludes that the outcome of the crisis will probably be the de facto collapse of the Church in America and the retreat of Catholics into the status of a “minor and relatively insignificant sect.” Traditionalists will have won the internal Catholic power struggle, mainly because the progressives will have drifted away. But in the end, the small band of traditionalists will find themselves isolated in “a new Catholic quasi-ghetto,” with about as much influence on the culture as the Amish and Hasidic Jews have now.”
Is Carlin right?
And if you read Shaw’s review, it seems clear that his solution is more discipline –kicking more people out (or more precisely, telling them that their actions and beliefs have put them outside the Church). But won’t this simply hasten the world Carlin predicts?
February 19, 2008, 1:00 pm
Although Fidel has not been running things for some time, his official retirement marks the beginning of a new chapter in Cuban history. Still, it’s not clear how much of a change it will make. The communist regime remains firmly in place, and there are no signs of any impending political opening.
Here’s a statement issued by Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya, leader of the Christian Liberation Movement:
This news is of indisputable importance historically and in the lives of all Cubans living in and outside of Cuba.
Today ends almost five decades of one man’s rule and, as we have always said, Fidel’s replacement should be chosen by Cuba’s sovereign people. The National Assembly and all those in power should work immediately to reform the law so that citizens may have rights to free speech and association, to reform the electoral law, call free elections and liberate peaceful political prisoners so that in an environment of reconciliation, order and peace, the Cuban people may begin a new period in their lives—all Cubans united in diversity, love and peace, not divided by confrontation.
The Cuban people cannot be denied what belongs to them, the rights that all Cubans have as human beings.
Whatever evaluation or view Cubans may have about the period that has just come to an end, we must not enter into conflict but look to the future together. But in order to look to the future together, in the middle of so many differing experiences and emotions, we must begin on the basis of respect for the dignity of every person and the recognition in law and in practice of the rights of every Cuban.
May this news of surprise to the Cuban people and the world, God willing open a new path and period for the lives of the new generation and all Cubans, and may it be one of peace, harmony, justice and rights.
It is our call and our determination to continue to work in this direction for the good of all Cubans.
May God help the Cuban people in this moment.
February 18, 2008, 4:31 pm
[The Psalmist says:] Magnify the Lord with me! (Ps 34:3). Who is it is who exhorts us to magnify the Lord with him? Anyone who is in the Body of Christ, brothers and sisters, ought to do all he can to get others to magnify the Lord with him…. Truth is superior to all things. It is the Word of God. It is God’s Wisdom through which all things were made, and it has its lovers. And what does one of them say? Magnify the Lord with me! I don’t want to be the only one to magnify the Lord. I don’t want to be the only one to love him, the only one to embrace him. If I embrace him, it’s not as if there’s no room for anyone else to put his hands. There is such a wideness to wisdom that all souls may embrace and enjoy her…. Shouldn’t people be ashamed who love God in such a way that they are jealous of others? ( Augustine, Enar. in Ps. 33, II, 6; PL 36, c. 310-11)
[Nolo solus magnificare Dominum, nolo solus amare, nolo solus amplecti.]
February 18, 2008, 11:58 am
I think the term “depraved” is too strong. But see if you don’t wince a bit reading these Kristol quotes from 2003, especially his confident expectation that there will be no Sunni/Sh’ia conflict in Iraq. And so far, even though I think the Times made the right decision to hire a self-consciously conservative voice for the op-ed page, he hasn’t struck me as very well suited for the genre. Agree? Disagree?
February 17, 2008, 9:44 pm
Rocco (among others) is reporting the death, at age 95, of Walter Burghart, S.J., the famed Jesuit theologian and preacher:
Numbered by many among the nation’s most eminent clerics of any denominational stripe, Burghardt authored countless works long and short, served on the Holy See’s International Theological Commission, taught at Woodstock, Catholic U. and, of course, Georgetown. A 1998 documentary series on the nation’s “Great Preachers” tapped Burghardt as one of two priests among the group of nine servant-masters of the pulpit — helmed, as one would expect, by the age’s first heir to George Whitefield, Billy Graham. (For the record, both Catholic contributions to the list were Jesuits.)
The successor of John Courtney Murray as editor of Theological Studies — a post he held for 24 years — he wrote on topics as varied as preaching in the American vernacular, man’s merit of peace, the Holy Family and the proclaiming of the “just word” that became the cause of his later years. But the thread that ran through the whole of it was encapsulated in the title of a 1989 piece bearing an oft-necessary reminder in the journey: “Without Contemplation, the People Perish.”
I’m sure that many folks here have their own favorite memories of Fr. Burghart. Mine dates from the Fourth Sunday of Advent in 1997, when my wife was pregnant with our son, Joseph. We were attending the 5:30 Sunday Mass at Holy Trinity Church in Georgetown, where Fr. Burghart was presiding. The Gospel that day (Lk 1:39-45) spoke of Mary’s journey to be with her cousin Elizabeth, who was also pregnant. Elizabeth greets Mary with the words “For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy.” As Fr. Burghardt spoke those words in his rich, resonant voice, Joseph was leaping and cavorting within my wife. It gave the Gospel–indeed our entire Advent season–a deeper meaning.
Eternal rest grant to him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.
February 17, 2008, 4:20 pm
Not forgetting what we were, we shall not despair of those who now are what we were.
Or: If we do not forget what we were, we shall not despair of those who now are what we were. (Augustine, Enar. in Ps 50, 24; PL 36, 599 )
Non obliviscentes quid fuerimus, non desperabimus de his qui nunc sunt quod fuimus.
February 17, 2008, 9:10 am
February 16, 2008, 11:55 am
The Fall 2007 issue of CUA Magazine, a publication of Catholic University, tells the story of the discovery and restoration of a phonograph record that contains a radio broadcast of Nov. 16, 1938, in which CUA brought several prominent Catholics together to protest the Nazi actions against Jews on Kristallnacht, a week earlier. The speakers included Archbishop Mitty of San Francisco, Bishop Ireton of Richmond, Bishop Gannon of Erie, and former governor of NY State, Al Smith. It was carried nationally on both CBS and NBC. You can listen to a clip or read a transcript of the broadcast here.
February 16, 2008, 7:34 am
The grief-stricken mother of one of the victims of the slaughter at Northern Illinois University said of her daughter: “She was our only child; the light of our lives.”
In some small measure we all bear that grief in our hearts and pray that the light of the transfigured Christ may show us the way to new purpose and to peace.
February 15, 2008, 4:46 pm
In relation to the thread “Mother and daughter” (below), Peter Vanderschraaf raised a question that had occurred to me when initiating it. I think it deserves its own title and thread and so I give it in the words of Peter:
The woman I plan to marry converted to the Roman Catholic faith as an adult ten years ago. She seems to have had an experience quite similar to the experience of the daughter described in this post. Among other things her faith seems to have helped her heal her relationship with her parents, who did not treat her well when she was younger. She is also exceptionally faithful to the institutional Roman Catholic Church and is very happy to be so faithful. And her experience is typical of the adult converts I know. They all seem so happy and so loyal to the institutional Roman Catholic Church.
I on the other hand was raised in the Catholic Church from infancy. And forgive me for being so rude, but to plagiarize Winston Churchill, many times I think that the Roman Catholic Church is the worst of all the Christian churches, except for the other ones. And most of those I know who were cradle Catholics have even more negative attitudes towards the Roman Catholic Church. For example, when my Mom dies last year one of my brothers refused to attend the rosary in her memory the night before the funeral, so great is his antipathy towards the church of his childhood and early youth.
Do you think I am right in generalizing that cradle Catholics tend to have serious problems with the Catholic Church while adult converts tend to be well adjusted in the Catholic Church? And if this generalization is right, does this mean that the Catholic Church is a good church to join as an adult, but perhaps not as a child?
February 15, 2008, 3:31 pm
Well, then, beloved, take what I think, but without prejudice if you have a better thought. For we all have one teacher and we are classmates in one school. (Augustine, Tr. in Ioann., 16, 3; PL 35, 1523) [condiscipuli in una schola]
In our ignorance let us all ask the teacher, and let us not quarrel in his school like little boys (Augustine, Tr. in Ioann., 16, 3; PL 35, 1539)
Perhaps we are frightening you because we want to examine and investigate God’s words. But why were they spoken except in order to be known? Why did they make sound except in order to be heard? Why were they heard except in order to be understood. May he comfort us and give us as much as he may deign. Even if we don’t get to the spring, let us drink from the rill. (Augustine, Tr. in Ioann., 21, 12; PL 35, 1571) [etsi ad fontem iam non penetramus, de rivulo bibamus]
February 15, 2008, 1:57 pm
I’ll raise Father Komonchak one Hail Mary (at least) for posting this story about a Topeka Catholic High School that told a female basketball ref she couldn’t work a boy’s hoops game because it would put a woman in a position of authority over men (well, soon-to-be men).
This is easily explained when one realizes that the high school in question is associated with the Society of St. Pius X, of the late Archbishop Lefebvre’s schismatic vintage.
Still, I post because I can resist anything except temptation.
(Hat Tip to RNS.)
February 15, 2008, 1:15 pm
To go from the sublime to the ridiculous:
From the Washington Post’s gossip column, I offer the following quips from speakers at the Washington Press Club Foundation’s annual Congressional Dinner. If you take pleasure in any of these, say three Our Father’s and three Hail Mary’s.
From Rahm Emanuel, proposing himself for Vice-President: “I’ve spent more time in the executive branch than Barack, and I’ve spent more time with Bill than Hillary.
From Sen. Mitch McConnell, on the race between “a New York senator who was born in Illinois, and an Illinois senator who was apparently born in a manger.”
Sen. John Cornyn, noting that the NY Times didn’t attend this year: “Their table didn’t go to waste. They just donated it to MoveOn.org at a discount.”
February 15, 2008, 10:30 am
The February 9 issue of The Tablet has a beautiful article by Carolyn Butler, daughter of the late novelist and journalist Angela Lambert. It describes the spiritual reconciliation that took place over the last months of her mother’s life as the daughter took care of the mother and they embarked upon conversations impossible before, especially since Carolyn converted to Catholicism. Upon her mother’s death, she found a long essay by her mother, never published, “My daughter the Roman Catholic,” which ended: “I believe that the Roman Catholic Church has repaired the harm done to her as a child and a teenager–much of it done by me. I believe that without it, she might have spent her life in the hands of shrinks or charlatans or worse. It believe it confers upon her an identity and even a kind of peace which this difficult, beautiful, forgiving child of mine otherwise might never have found.”
And there’s a lovely tribute to the enduring power of the Psalms. As her mother lay dying, Carolyn writes, “I began to read the Psalms to her, which I found painfully consoling. Those ancient voices reaching out across the centuries in their anguish and praise seemed to do justice to someone at the end of their life–and to me in my own extremis.”
February 15, 2008, 9:18 am
It seems that Catholic University of America has abruptly cancelled an 11-part lecture series, titled “Building Catholic Communities” (no wisecracks needed) due to the participation of two controversial figures, E. Michael Jones, editor of the South Bend, Ind.-based Culture Wars magazine, and John Sharpe, founder of the Norfolk-based IHS Press and the Legion of St. Louis, an Internet-based forum.
The Southern Poverty Law Center denounced the two as “raging anti-Semites” because they apparently espouse views that reject Vatican II reforms and have made disparaging comments about Jews. I don’t have much else to go on besides a report from The Washington Times and the SPLC site itself. The two gentlemen do seem to hold problematic views.
But two questions present themselves: First, how did they come to be part of such a series? (And why is the Catholic Information Center giving them a venue if the bishops’ university won’t?)
And how does this differ–if it does–from issues referred to in various previous posts about “liberal” groups and speakers being denied forums at Catholic sites?
(Hat Tip to “Uncle Di”–whoever you are.)
February 15, 2008, 7:34 am
Superdelegates–their history and purpose–came up in a post below. Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann give a succinct explanation in Friday’s NYT: “Delegates of Steel.”
February 14, 2008, 8:06 pm
When the Psalmist says, “When will you comfort me?” (Ps 118: 82), it’s as if he’s impatient with the delay. The same idea is expressed elsewhere: “And you, Lord, how long?” (Ps 6:4) Perhaps it’s so that delayed enjoyment may be sweeter; or it may be that this is what people with longings feel: what for one coming to help is a short while is a long while for one who loves. But the Lord, he who has ordered all things in measure, and number, and weight (Wis 11:21), knows what to do when. [Augustine, Enar. in Ps. 118/20, 2; PL 37:1558]
February 14, 2008, 10:58 am
So says Doug Kmiec, writing in Slate…Kmiec is former dean of the Catholic University of America School of Law and currently chair of constitutional law at Pepperdine University in Malibu–and no mushy-headed Catholic liberal.
February 13, 2008, 5:44 pm
It was a tough week in my hometown of Boston last week. After a devastating Super Bowl 4th quarter loss, people weren’t sure what had happened to the New England Patriots. Where had we all gone wrong? Well, thanks to a recent CNS story, we Patriots fans have someone new to blame for heartbreaking loss. Having been taught by them for 6 years, I had always liked those Ursuline sisters before…
February 13, 2008, 3:33 pm
among the commands of the Lord
none is more difficult,
and none more wondrous,
than that one love one’s enemies.
(Augustine, Earr. in Ps 118, 3; PL 37, 1524)
February 13, 2008, 1:03 pm