Sunday, August 31, 2008
Having taken a pass on political blogging, and trying to read about politics, for about a month, the anti-Russian ranting emanating from Edward Lucas yesterday and Malcolm Rifkind today in the 'Daily Telegraph' is thoroughly depressing.
If one wished, one could spend all day performing word-by-word, line-by-line fisks of this rubbish; however, having wasted far too may hours of my life in such exercises already, it's fair to say that both pieces do nothing more than state why a resurgent Russia might be bad for the West as we know it - they make no comment on whether the West as we know it is worth preserving.
In my opinion, it is not. At the moment, the West operates for the benefit of people like Malcolm Rifkind and Edward Lucas's employers; it provides no tangible benefit for anyone else.
The West has squandered its promise by having undermined its common Christian heritage in favour of the false premises of 'democracy' and 'economics'. As the election of the Labour Party in 1997 proved, and the election of Barack Obama to the Presidency of the United States in 2008 will in all likelihood affirm, it now doesn't matter who is elected to office - in the post-Soviet, 'New World Order' era, the British and American governments will follow the same extreme form of neoliberal economics to the point of national bankruptcy. The citizens will be called upon to sacrifice their jobs, livelihoods and futures for the benefit of the 'economy' in a way which would have been inconceivable during the Soviet era. Neoliberalism, the plundering of common assets by the rich to the detriment of the poor, is the only form of economic theory many Western economists know, and will continue to the point where there is nothing left.
It's what happens then that I'm frightened of.
We can only hope that the people of the West will ignore those they have elected to lead them, return to Christ and learn to live in peace with their Russian Orthodox brothers, praying for forgiveness for the injuries they consented to be done upon them in the 1990's. As far as I can see, that hope may just be Europe's best hope for peace.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Just Another Snake Cult?
Remember the bit in 'Conan the Barbarian' where Max von Sydow tells Arnold Schwarzenegger that he had made the mistake of underestimating James Earl Jones's group? How at first he had thought it would be just another 'snake cult'?
That encounter came straight to mind when watching the Obama campaign video embedded in this link. The sight of an English guitar strummer and a fat man with a drooping eyelid making wallies of themselves may no doubt persuade some Americans (a rare species in the video itself) to vote for Obama - however, as one of Mark Shea's commentors put it,
"Yes, a bunch a foreigners who on the one hand I'm sure have nothing but condemnation for past American intrusions in other countries' politics, but have no problem using their talent/celebrity status to try to influence an American election. Ghastly was my opinion as well, until the very end, when I became absolutely disgusted by it. It takes some kind of dishonesty to include a clip of a man with his ear to a woman's belly, implying he's listening to a child's heartbeat or the baby kicking or something, considering Obama's support for killing that child at that same moment, or at the moment of the child's birth, or if all that fails, leaving the child to die in a closet".
Obama is not running a campaign, but a cult. The American Bishops have rightly taken Nancy Pelosi to task for her inaccurate exegesis on abortion - are they scrutinising Obama's record and campaign pledges with the same throughness?
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Fr. Ernie Davis...
Vocations, Discernment And Religious Education
This wonderful poster from the Diocese of Raleigh, NC (HT - WTDPRS) speaks to me of a local church actively committed to the fostering of vocations from the earliest possible age.
According to the 'Western Catholic Calendar' for 2008, at the time it went to print the Archdiocese of Glasgow (99 parishes) had 10 students in major seminaries, and two men participated in the relevant Seminary Applicants Year. The Diocese of Motherwell (73 parishes) had five students in major seminaries, and no participants in the Seminary Applicants Year. The Diocese of Paisley (33 parishes) had two students in major seminaries, and no participants in the Seminary Applicants Year.
These are gruesome numbers, which leave a lot of what might be unpleasant questions for those in charge of the promotion of vocations. To say 'vocations are down everywhere' is just not good enough - do the faithful not deserve to have priests? Was it thought that vocations would spring unbidden on the vine?
The times we live in, and the spirit of the age, don't really matter. What should be more important than anything else to the promotion of vocations is the desire of the faithful to have priests. That was you-know-who's explanation for why Ireland and Holland once produced so many vocations - the Irish and Dutch people wanted them. Has this desire for vocations been fostered and shepherded by the priests that the people have already? Have the clergy been activists for vocations? Have prayers been said for vocations from the altar every week? Have the clergy made themselves a visible presence in the faithful's homes? Have they left copious amounts of vocations literature in their churches, and encouraged boys and young men to read it and discuss it with them afterwards? Have they been in the schools, telling boys and young men of what should be the joyous, rewarding nature of the religious life?
Have they been doing these things?
A century ago, we in the West of Scotland had priests and no schools. In a few decades, we may have schools and no priests. This is an absolute inversion of what Catholic education was meant to be about. We have made a false god of the Catholic school, and now we are paying the price. It may have been thought that they would be an engine for the production of vocations - if that was the case, the engine's well and truly broken down, to the extent that the numbers quoted above show that the Catholic school as we know it is probably no longer fit for purpose. Perhaps the fault lies with what they have been teaching. Let me give you an example.
I am a cradle Catholic, nearly 40 years old. I received all of my primary and secondary education in Catholic schools, my secondary education in a Jesuit high school at a time when there still enough Jesuits about to have some of them on staff (other peoples' recollections might be different, but to me it seemed that the primary emphases of the education I received at that high school were the necessity of playing rugby and doing well in life, becoming a professional, as opposed to my eternal salvation). It is only in recent weeks that I have even heard of the concept of 'discernment', and its role in the fostering of vocations.
I cannot recall ever hearing this expression before, nor can I recall ever having what it meant explained to me. Discernment is a practical skill which should be taught in every Catholic school. Doing so might produce more vocations, and, who knows, more well-instructed, better-adjusted Catholics.
This is an entirely personal view, and welcome comment, but discernment is a skill which the religious seem to have kept to and for themselves. If that was the case, then it was wrong, a mistake, and one that only will the clergy can rectify. If discernment had been taught in Catholic schools, would the Roman Catholic proportion of Scotland's prison population continue to be so high? I doubt it.
The 'Where Were You When?' Meme
Thanks to David Farrer for tagging me.
1. August 31 1997, death of Diana, Princess of Wales - When I heard this news, I was in a flat in Albert Drive, Glasgow, having just woken up.
2. Margaret Thatcher's resignation, 22 November 1990 - in a lecture hall at the University of Strathclyde; if memory serves, the topic was 'Formation and Management of Companies'.
3. Attack on the Twin Towers, September 11 2001 - working in a grotty office in St. Vincent Street, Glasgow. As soon as the news came in on the radio, there wasn't much other work done that afternoon.
4. England's World Cup Semi Final against Germany, 4 July 1990-watching it at home.
5. President Kennedy's assassination, 22 November 1963 - at that time, as yet unborn.
Monday, August 25, 2008
A Partuicularly Nasty Spam
This morning, I received the following spam from firstname.lastname@example.org -
This is to notify you that you have been choosen By the Board of Trustees of the Catholic Aid (NGO USA) as one of the final Recepients of a Cash Grant/Donation Economic growth and a poverty alleviation scheme.Catholic Aid (U.S.A) a Multi-Million Pounds NGO group was established with the objective Of Human Growth,Educational and Community development.
In line with the 28 years anniversary program,the Catholic Aid (U.S.A) in conjunction with the European Council is giving out One Hundred Million Pounds Sterling as specific Donations/Grants to 150 lucky international recipients worldwide in different categories for Business and Social development.These funds are freely given to you for your business and educational development,charitable work and for the growth of your community at large.
Your Email was selected Based on an internet random selection exercise,you are therefore confirmed one of the lucky recipients and are entitled to 850,000.00 (eight hundred and fifty thousand Pounds Sterling Only) as charity donations/aid from the Catholic Aid (USA).You are required to Contact immediately the Catholic Aid (UK) paying bank/payout officer below by email or telephone.
Endeavour to quote Your Qualification Number:(N-222-6747,E-900-56) for qualification documentations,verification and processing of your 850,000.00 Pounds Sterling entitlement.
Foreign Exchange Unit,
Barclays Bank Plc.
1400 Commercial Avenue
P.O.Box 14,London U.k
Direct Tel:- +44 70240 84780
Endeavour to quote your Qualification numbers (N-222-6747, E-900-56) in all your correspondence with Prof.Derek Walker
Please note that this donations/Grants are administered by a U.K Bank and therefore subject to U.K Banking Laws.You are by all means advised to keep this whole information confidential until you have collected your donation.This is to avoid double and unqualified claim,due to beneficiaries informing third parties on cash grant donation.
On behalf of the Board,kindly accept our warmest congratulations!
Yours faithfully,Mrs.Deborah Smith
Director. International Promotions Unit
PO Box 291Brooklyn, NY 11220-9020 U.S.A.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Practices That We Might Not Wish To See In The Province Of Glasgow
"I encourage the parishioners to come in costume to the Halloween Mass. Why shouldn't the family" -- he gestured around to all of us -- "enjoy themselves when they gather together? And don't be afraid of Halloween! It's only a pumpkin! It can't hurt you! Anyway, last year, I wore a Superman costume under my vestments. When the Mass was over I took them off and showed the costume -- with its fake chest I looked far better than I ever really did. This year, I wore one of those inflatable costumes, a pumpkin. Just before I took off my vestments at the end of Mass, I started inflating, and got some really funny looks as the vestments expanded. Then I took them off and revealed the costume." -
The redoubtable Father Fred 'Helen' Bailey, sometime of Corpus Christi Church, Alisa Viejo, Diocese of Orange, California.
Hat tip 'Renew America' - an interesting article, well worth reading in total.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Mary And The Muslims
Without wishing to become something of a Fulton Sheen bore, as it were, I'd like share some quotes from Chapter 17 of the Servant of God's 1953 book, 'The World's First Love' (my notes are bracketed)-
"At the present time, the hatred of the Moslem countries against the West is becoming a hatred against Christianity itself. Although the statesmen have not yet taken it into account (indeed, as Chalmers Johnson could tell you, this passage was written the year before someone thought up the concept of 'blowback'), there is still grave danger that the temporal power of Islam may return (this was written 40 years before Samuel Huntington coined the phrase 'clash of civilisations') and, with it, the menace that it may shake off a West which has ceased to be Christian, and affirm itself as a great anti-Christian world power (if Osama is not defined by the anti-Christian nature of his Islam, he is defined by nothing)".
"It is our (Sheen's) firm belief that the fears some entertain concerning the Moslems are not to be realized, but that Moslemism, instead, will eventually be converted to Christianity - and in a way that even some of our missionaries never suspect. It is our belief that this will happen not through the drect teaching of Christianity, but through a summoning of the Moslems to a veneration of the Mother of God".
"Missionaries in the future will, more and more, see that their apostolate among the Moslems will be successful in the measure that they preach Our Lady of Fatima. Mary is the advent of Christ, bringing Christ to the People before Chrsit Himself is born. Inay apologetic endeavour, it is always best to start with that which people already accept. Because the Moslems have a devotion to Mary, our missionaries should be satisfied merely to expand and to develop that devotion, with the full realization that Our Blessed Lady will carry the Moslems the rest of the way to her Divine Son."
Our Lady of Fatima, ora pro nobis!
Fulton John Sheen, ora pro nobis!
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Some Thoughts On Vocations, Wine Club Catholicism, Barack Obama And Stuff
One would hope that all blogging religious would accept an invitation to momentarily dispense with their apparent preoccupations concerning the Latin Mass and being photographed in their birettas and blog instead about the neccessity of making converts and fostering vocations; they might also tell us how many converts they have helped bring to the Church in the past year, how much they have personally donated to the missions and how many vocations they are fostering and have fostered. These suggestions are all motivated by having read Fulton Sheen's, 'The Priest Is Not His Own'. One wonders if it's mandatory reading in the seminaries.
Preoccupation with form over content, style over transubstantiation, might properly be described as 'wine club Catholicism'. The 'wine club' comes from an episode of 'Frasier'; Frasier and Niles have a bust-up with their wine club, so they decide to start their own. However, they realise that it was not the enjoyment of the wine that had drawn them to the club, but the form and content of its rules, and the necessity of adherence to them. For them, the rules were more important than the wine.
It seems clear that no Catholic of conscience should vote for Barack Obama. The guy's an abortionist, end of story.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Britain's Success At The Olympics
Why is the state funding of minority sports, presumably in the hope of gaining medals, a good thing, while the state funding of industries which provide employment isn't?
Isn't this an inversion of priorities?
Father Thomas Pandipally
has been murdered in India.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
"Roamin' in the gloamin'
With a shamrock in my hand,
Roamin' in the gloamin',
With St. Patrick's Fenian Band,
And when the music stops,
F*ck King Billy and John Knox
O, I want to die a Roman Catholic!" -
Playground song sung at St. Paul's RC Primary, Whiteinch, Glasgow c. 1978.
Catholic schools in the West of Scotland seem to have failed. Their existence has done nothing to stem the decline in vocations. Denominationally segregated schools are the greatest planks in the arguments in favour of the introduction of Muslim schools; for those of us who are neutral towards Muslims but think that Islam is a bad thing that shouldn't be encouraged, the prospect of Muslim schools is nothing less than a threat to civil society. They would present too many opportunities for radicalisation and later violence. However, for many Catholics, it seems to be the case that the right to attend a Catholic school is more important than attending Mass and the Sacraments. This is not faith - this is tribalism.
The use of expressions such as 'our schools' by Catholics is uncivic; it denies the fact that the taxes of non-Catholics fund Catholic schools. It is the mirror image of Catholic protests against the taxes they pay being used to fund abortions.
Anyone who has ever happened to be at Kinning Park underground station at 4.00 pm on a schoolday will see just how apparently unsuccessful some Catholic schools have been at converting non-Catholics. The Muslim abuse of the 'placing request' system to ensure that their daughters can attend the girls-only Notre Dame Secondary makes a mockery of the whole Catholic school system. One would be very interested to know just how many Muslims who have attended that school have become converts. One must have faith, but one would guess that the numbers would be few.
In conversation with a priest of the Archdiocese of Glasgow last year, I heard the argument advanced that a good reason for keeping Catholic schools was to ensure that those attending them were receiving at least some exposure to Catholicism. The priest later lamented that his pews were empty just a week after his First Communions. With the greatest respect to that clergyman, this is surely an inversion of what Catholic schooling should be about. It should complement what is being taught and practiced in the home in loco parentis; if the parentis are loco and can't be bothered bringing the wean to Mass after shelling out hundreds of pounds on a kilt or a Communion dress the week before, there might be better ways of spending Protestant taxes than fighting what is always going to be, but for the grace of God, the Mother of all losing battles.
It is the job of Catholic schools to produce vocations. These are not forthcoming. This is the acid test of whether or not Catholic schools have been successful, or are even a good idea in principle.
If Catholic schools are to continue, this is what I would like to see happen. This is an entirely personal view.
No child should be enrolled in a Catholic school unless their parents can be vouched for as faithful attenders of Mass and the Sacraments by a priest. This would help ensure that the weektime effort isn't wasted; if the kids are worshipping at the altar of 'High School Musical' or 'Hannah Montana' on a Sunday morning, what's the point of them being in a Catholic school?
One is not absolutely aware of what requirements those who teach in Catholic schools must satisfy; but suffice to say the ranks should not include atheists, homosexuals, and adulterers in any capacity. Those who are there, get them out - they have no business being involved in the formation of Catholic youth in any way until they repent.
All mention of the doings of Glasgow Celtic Football Club should be banned from Catholic schools. Celtic is a business dedicated to the pursuit of profit; by its very nature, it is ungodly. I have no interest in its doings, and think the West of Scotland would be a cleaner, more hygienic place without it.
Teachers in Catholic schools should attend Mass and the Sacraments. To this end, they should undergo a twice-yearly spiritual assessment. If they haven't attended Mass and the Sacraments, they're out of Catholic schools; any problems which they might have regarding pay and status as a consequence are their concern alone.
There's a world of difference between being a Catholic teacher and a teacher in a Catholic school. To emphasis the Catholic bit, all teachers in Catholic schools should be made to resign their union memberships. Their commitment is either to the formation of Catholics, or to the preservation of their own rights as guild labour. It's one or the other; at least that's how it works in the adult world they're supposed to be training people to enter. No strikes in Catholic schools.
Each Catholic school has a chaplain. In a Catholic school, the sacraments should be available to the students every minute of the school day. Is Mass said in Catholic schools on a daily basis? If not, why not? Are opportunities for Confession available to students at breaks and lunchtime? If not, why not? Might produce more vocations that way.
As I said, this is a personal view - opinions are welcome.
Monday, August 18, 2008
The Editor Of The Catholic Herald Discusses Church Closures
From the 'Daily Telegraph' thread, 'BBC's 'Sunday' programme exposes the cruelty of the Diocese of Leeds':
Commentor, 'On The Side Of The Angels' -
"Something's been rattling around my head for the past few days - and it's only forming slowly like a memory in the mist - something someone said - it was exactly the same wording used in regard to another Bishop not so long ago. I need to do some hunting - But let's increase our prayers for Bishop Roche - let's not let our hostility to his actions make us think any less of the poor man under the mitre."
Damian Thompson -
"I couldn't possibly think any less of the man under the mitre."
(Well, one can see that a great deal of humility and loving thy neighbour as thyself went into that remark. One wonders just how long it might be before it becomes quite hard to find 'The Catholic Herald' on sale in the Diocese of Leeds. )
Commentor 'Andrew' -
Sorry I think you must be thinking of St Joes Pontefract, St Joes In Castleford is well sighted for buses I am not sure of Buses on sunday afternoon but I feel this is something that we will have to work out. I empathise with people`s pain but we have been here before there were less Priests in previous centuries but the Catholic faith survived. I would again ask for patience and trust in that the Bishop`s iniative may help the new parish of St Joseph`s parish Castleford to come to fruition. As with `Come and See` we need to cast our bread on the waters. The Lord will provide as it is in him we trust not any form of Liturgy or parish"
Damian Thompson -
"Andrew, what bollocks. The Lord has provided Catholics with a church, St John's, parishioners who love it and a parish priest who will be at a loose end once the diocese has bulldozed the church and trousered the proceeds. "
(The use of the word 'bollocks' by the editor of a Catholic newspaper in a public forum when refuting an argument which is, after all, based on faith is, to say the least, disgusting.)
Saturday, August 16, 2008
The Lady In The Pew On The Correct Way Of Addressing The Clergy
Destroying The Tablet
When I was a small boy, I saw 'The Tablet' on a weekly basis - my late great-aunt was a subscriber. It was pretty much part of childhood's furniture.
Having been away from the Church for many years, I was unaware that in recent years it had adopted some controversial positions. However, on 10th August, Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, with apparent approval of the actions described, linked to this article by Damian Thompson which reports that,
"A priest who looks barely out of his teens explains what he does when unsolicited copies of The Tablet – a liberal Catholic magazine that opposes the Latin revival – arrive at his church: “I painstakingly remove the staples and feed it into the shredder. It’s time-consuming, but God’s work.”
Hold on a minute - those copies of The Tablet being so casually destroyed cost somebody's money to produce. They're somebody's property. Assuming that what has been quoted is actually true, what message does such conduct send about the attitude of the faithful to debate? Particularly when it's boasted about and quoted approvingly? Would a similarly lenient and apparently approving attitude be adopted towards those who smash stained-glass windows, or steal priests' cars?
Surely a more correct, and less immature and destructive, course of action would be to refuse the unsolicited copies and return them with a request that no more be sent?
One might not condone what The Tablet's publishers feel they have to say, but one would have thought that the decision as to whether or not it's a fit and proper publication for the faithful to read might be one for a higher level of authority than a young priest with a shredder. I might be wrong, but I thought we didn't ban books anymore; let alone destroy the written word.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Thursday, August 14, 2008
As a relative newcomer to the world of Catholic blogging, it's slightly startling to see the abandon which some laity criticise priests, and what seems to be the vehemence with which supporters of the Latin Mass seem to believe that it is the only legitimate form of worship.
Call me naive, but the Mass is the Mass is the Mass, regardless of how it's said or who says it. I might be completely wrong, but to denigrate what happens in consequence of what a Pope has decreed should come to pass seems to me like a shocking lack of humility.
In the Diocese of Leeds, there's a dispute going on at the moment about the proposed closure of Holy Family. Damian Thompson has posted on the dispute that,
"To a representative of an "Action Group" trying to save Holy Family, Chequerfield, (Mgr. Michael McQuinn) wrote: "We are all saddened by the need to cut our cloth according to our new circumstances but unfortunately life does not stand still and this summer six priests are retiring and none being ordained. Have the families of any members of the 'Action Group' fostered any priestly vocations?"... What a ghastly thing to say".
I don't think it's a ghastly thing to say at all. Parishes need priests; vocations are not coming forth; why is this? Can all those who say they wish to have the services of a priest also say, in good conscience, that they have done all they can to encourage vocations to the priesthood?
These are the sort of questions that the laity must be prepared to answer if they seek to influence, or comment upon, diocesan operations. Just as the laity should all times be grateful for being able to have the Mass in any form, without any regard for what amount to nothing more than our own tastes and prejudices, so too the laity should at all times possess the humility to submit themselves to the discipline and direction of those upon whom the Sacrament of Holy Orders has been bestowed. Familiarity breeds contempt; it also rots humility. Whinging about the form of the Mass seems to me to be about as vacuous as saying one prefers soccer to opera, or Tenerife to Lanzarote. The form of the Mass is not a consumer choice - take what you're given, and be grateful you have it. Under either form, the Sacrifice being carried out is the same - that should be enough for anyone.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Read the title of this article - and see what you think.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
"(I)n a not too distant day when Russia, like the prodigal son, will return to the father's house, let not Western civilisation refuse to accept it back or absent itself from the feast celebrating the salvation of what was lost" -
Servant of God Fulton Sheen, 'The Way to Inner Peace'.
Bishop Sheen was writing in 1955, long before Jeffrey Sachs and his colleagues conjured up economic shock therapy. When that heaven-sent day finally came, we squandered Bishop Sheen's advice and refused to accept Russia back; and may all those who rage against Russia's actions against Georgia reflect on what they have done or failed to do, and on what they have said or failed to say, to heal relations between the Russians and ourselves. May they reflect upon the indignities which we have helped inflict upon the Russian people through the pride of 'victory' and the false counsel of economics, and upon our demands that a crushed people suffer even more so that we can gain investment opportunities. Is it any wonder that they turn their faces from us?
The only hope for peace between Russia and others is to grant the Russians the small dignity of allowing them to be Russians; a truth which a man of God like Bishop Sheen could well understand, but one of which economic and political ideologues can have no concept - and given the authoritarianism of Western governments, Western complaints about Russia reek of hypocrisy, the beam in the Western eye casting a long shadow over the moted Russian eyeball.
Regardless of the rights or wrongs, the endgames and outcomes, it's to be hoped that the fighting in the Caucasus is over soon, and that no other child of God will have to suffer in the name of nationalism.
Monday, August 11, 2008
In a post which reads as if it were written by an upper middle class 18 year old from a two-car family who's spent too much time on the Intenet, a blogger named Cabalamat has put forward a case for eugenics.
What gets me about all such discussion is the lack of humility of those who put forward such absurd suggestions. They do not realise that they are where they are in life, or that they have what they have, only through the operation of a power greater than their own. To take upon oneself the power to decide who shall have children and who shall not is to take upon oneself the power of God; it is swimming into very deep waters, from which the only escape may be repentance.
If it is God's will that there will be an adult underclass, there will be an adult underclass. If it God's will that those who govern are godless, and seek human rather than divine solutions, it will be so. These choices are His to make, not ours; and by inserting ourselves into His processes by interfering in the processes by which life comes into the world, we mock him and invite His vengeance.
Eugenicists, repent; abortionists, repent; social engineers, repent; the diffident, repent. Repent, repent, repent; do it for your own good, if you're so blinded by your own brilliance that you can't imagine that your repentance might have a positive impact upon others.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Love, Violence And Ideology
The random violence which is rotting our society is just as much as a symptom of the degree to which we seem to have forgotten love as the fall in the birth rate and the decline in church attendance.
Having been assaulted for asking two young men to stop swearing at the top of their voices while amongst elderly women, it's to be hoped that I would have the courage to do the same thing again; but it's doubtful if I would.
Love is the understanding that others are important. In its purest expression, it is outward facing. It demands that the ego be surrendered so that the needs and desires of others have priority. In a culture which insists that the needs of the self are paramount, it should have been eminently forseeable that violence, the physical manifestation of love's opposite, should flourish; just another unintended consequence of godless ideology.
The way to end this, of course, is not more ideology and dud ideological solutions, but for the people to become observant, churchgoing Christians once again. Only love, and the desire to love instead of hate, to give of oneself instead of to consume of others, to develop the humility to acknowledge one's small place on Earth instead of thinking we're the greatest things in the universe, will cure this. Whether of the left or right, ideology is secular theology; although one cannot ignore it, and must use one's conscience to discern which of many ideologies presents the least evil when participating in democracy, even thinking about ideology soils the mind. All ideologies make the demand that they can cure the problems of Mankind; the survival of hatred and strife shows that they cannot. Nature abhors a vacuum; if the British people, all people, were to reject human ideology, they would soon find other codes of living. Some of them might even dump Marx for Mark.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
If any readers know of Catholics who, like me, suffer from Tourette Syndrome, could you ask them to get in touch with me?
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Getting To Grips With My Restrictionist Past
James Fulford has published an article on VDare criticising the approach of many Christian churches towards immigration.
It cannot be said often enough, but the reconciliation and forgiveness afforded me by VDare's management after the sustained campaign of personal abuse to which I subjected them has been as fine an example of Christianity in action as I have experienced.
However, now that my own focus has changed, it's necessary to revisit the views I used to express.
I now believe that many of the views I held were wrong. The asylum-seeker is always entitled to refuge. They should not be forced to wear tags. They should be able to look for work. I now believe that to turn the able-bodied into mendicants is un-Christian, for it destroys their hope. Similarly, the person who seeks to improve his own circumstances should not be easily turned away. To determine who is and is not a suitable candidate to be allowed to enter a society requires the utmost discernment. However, the catalogue of disasters to which the societies of the West have been subject on account of unrestrained immigration show that this has been lacking. This has been a shocking failure of government without parallel in nearly two millenia.
One of the consequences of rendering unto Caesar is the entitlement to the protection of Caesar's laws - the very same kind of protection against arbitrary injustice that St. Paul sought when he exercised his rights as a Roman citizen. The state is obliged to protect those already present in a society before determining whether or not anyone else should be admitted. Call back yesterday, bid time return - I would not now start a series entitled 'Foriegn Criminals of the Day', but I ran it; I must account for it. It may have had some value in outlining the dangers some immigrants posed to the public; maybe a good example of doing the right thing for the wrong reasons.
The real danger involved in immigration policy is the same danger that afflicts those who live under all governments which treat those who govern them like cattle. Her Majesty's ministers seem to expect that her subjects owe a collective duty to the apparatus of her government in order to keep a chimera called 'the economy' in a healthy position; we do not, that's their job. Immigration policy has been used as a valve to relieve economic pressure, specifically amongst the wage rates of those furthest away from the ministers' table. This has been an insult to justice, and one for which those responsible should repent, for they may be called to account for it.
As Christians, we are conjoined to share our bread, and feed and clothe our neighbours - I might be wrong, and as usual am more than willing to stand correction, but I am not aware of any injunction of Scripture that demands that those who have little to begin with should have that taken away from them for the benefit of Caesar.
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
The Thoughts Of A Cambridge Don
A lecturer in 'postcolonial studies' named Priyamvada Gopal has published an attack on Bishop Henry Orombi's views on homosexuality.
Although much of it is boilerplate grievance mongering, what really strikes one about the piece is the absence of any reference to Bishop Orombi's Christian orthodoxy; that while hating the sin, he might also be loving the sinner.
One wonders whether those such as Ms. Gopal would prefer to see Christianity utterly erased from the world, rather than its message be preached and followed; which would be something of a pity.
A Good Idea
We will minister to them on the beaches...
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Agreeing With Polly Toynbee
Perhaps this is breaking my earlier promise not to comment on matters of policy, but I find myself in 90% agreement with Polly Toynbee's column of this morning on wealth inequality; an effort which will no doubt have her critics circling.
To talk of 'skills' and 'education' as a means of improving prospects is a canard when all economic policy seems to be dictated by the maxim that employers shall be entitled to employ the lowest cost labour, wherever it might be found.
The 'iron economic determinism' of the right is just as damaging as that of the left. Spending £200,000 on a watch is an insult to the poor.
Personally, given the nature of his associations, I maintain my reservations as to whether Peter Sutherland is a fit and proper person to be advising the Church on financial matters; one would hope that the Holy Father and his counsellors have access to the fruits of more than one economic school of thought.
Monday, August 04, 2008
Sunday, August 03, 2008
The Conversion Of The Muslims
According to the review of George Weigel's new book which appears in 'The Catholic Herald', he says that, '"we are not going to "convert 1.2 billion Muslims into good secular liberal(s)."'
One might have thought that an equally valid course of action would be to pray for them to renounce their false beliefs and convert to Christianity.
In the past, I have adopted boilerplate rhetoric towards the enormously important subject which is the 'clash of civilisations'. Much such rhetoric, born in ignorant anger following the events of 9/11, flows from the fundamentally irreligious belief that Man is incapable of reform. Many seem to believe that if a man is born a Muslim he is obliged to stay that way; but that ain't necessarily so, an insight which is fundamentally opposed to the 'diversity' agenda.
The conversion of the Muslims would involve massive missionary work; it would be hoped that He would animate his followers with the 'fire of zeal for souls' needed to carry out this most important work. It needn't necessarily be conducted in the Muslim world; those Muslims who live in the West are as entitled to hear the Good News as those who do not. As fas as Muslims are concerned, the civil right of freedom of conscience only means that the state has no right to interfere in how you pray - it does not mean that others cannot perhaps try to open your mind to alternatives.
In tackling this work, it would be necessary to settle the question of whether Islam is a creed, or an ideology, or both, once and for all. Intellectual opinion seems to accept that the ideology of Islam cannot be defeated by Western ideology because it is also a creed; it would therefore seem to make sense to tackle Islam on a credal basis. The rewards it offers its adherents are credal; accordingly, those revealed truths which lead a man to abandon it should also be credal.
I'm maybe a bit old-fashioned; maybe a little idealistic; maybe, slowly and surely, going off my rocker. However, I cannot help but think that the world we lived in would be a vastly kinder, gentler, more loving place if all its inhabitants came to understand and accept that Our Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead to redeem them, and started trying to live by His message. That world must include the Muslims, for they are just as much a part of it as we are.
Saturday, August 02, 2008
Barry George And Life
For years I was of the view that, yeah, the death penalty is morally wrong, but it should be left to the people to decide whether or not they want it; but cases like that of Mr. George's provide conclusive proof that, at all times and under all circumstances, the judgments and of men are too frail, too weak, to be entrusted with the responsibility of deciding whether or not another man should lose his life.
To say that 'the people want it' doesn't cut it. Some ancient Romans might once have wanted to see the early Church persecuted in the arena. To my mind, and I am more than willing to stand correction, saying that 'the people want it' as far as the death penalty is concerned is to put yourself on the same moral level as those who once bayed for blood as the martyrs were led in. Both the modern death penalty and the persecutions served the same purpose - the satisfaction of human appetites. One appetite was naked bloodlust, the other the more slightly rationalised desire for justice to be done and be seen to be done; but both have the same result. Both comprise the state-sanctioned killing of those deemed undesirable according to fallible laws, themselves often the product of no motives higher than expediency and whim.
We should celebrate Barry George's vindication as proof that sometimes we do get it wrong - and hail it as an opportunity to learn from our mistakes; such as mine, that believing we can assume for ourselves the power to decide for ourselves whether or not another man will live or die without incurring the risk of devastating consequences.
Peace of mind, peace of heart, peace betweeen brothers, peace among nations...may all readers enjoy it, and pass it on.