Saint Peter was assassinated with an axe to the head and a dagger to the chest in 1252 and was then canonized as a saint only 11 months later, making this the fastest canonization in history.
Pinturicchio c. 1502-1508
Enea Piccolomini Leaves for the Council of Basel
Mass surveillance may seem eerily futuristic, but it marks a return to a time when we were watched by an omniscient authority. We called it God.
Amanda Power writes: Humanity, according to the most influential origin story of Western culture, was created naked, unashamed, wholly willing to submit to the scrutiny of the god who made the world and its rules. Through an act of defiance urged on humans by an enemy of their happy state, “their eyes were opened”—they realized their own nakedness and sought to hide from view.
“Nothing is hidden from the eyes of the observing world.”
— Aleksandr Pushkin, 1837
The god was so angered by this that he threw them out of paradise to suffer and die. This was the original sin, the disobedience for which humans deserved to be punished through generations, centuries, and until the world ends. It was, quite simply, the pursuit of knowledge not sanctioned by the one who ruled them, and the hunger for privacy from surveillance. Or so the ruling elite, through its rabbis and priests, has told the population for thousands of years, through the brief and vivid story of the Fall.
Nor did variants on this god—depending on the teller: murderous or tender, wild with wrath or soberly judging, immediate or remote, but consistently male—cease watching after humanity’s expulsion from Eden. The resulting observations were the basis for a highly interventionist treatment of those he called his chosen people. When they obeyed him, he gave them, in his hot and possessive love, pleasant places to live, and he slaughtered their enemies. When they looked to other gods, he rained devastating punishments on them until they submitted once again.
He could see into their hearts and enter their dreams. Much of this remained the same in his Christian incarnation, but the dazzling promise that immortality could be regained through Christ’s death was yoked to the demand for a particular kind of self-scrutiny: the constant examination and exposure of one’s inner self. He knew us but also insisted we know ourselves and share our knowledge with him. Participation in our own surveillance was the price of entry into heaven.
For centuries the history of Western nations was traced from these beginnings, and so for centuries this god was part of how we legitimized our forms of government and those individuals who governed us. The flawed nature of societies characterized by inequality and injustice was simply another aspect of life in the unsatisfactory world created by mankind’s original sin. Around 1159 John of Salisbury, discussing governance in his Policraticus, observed that even tyrants of the worst kind were “ministers of God, who by His just judgment has willed them to be preeminent over both soul and body.
“The mass surveillance of the global population by corporations and government bureaucracies that has transcended all pretense of democratic accountability. The technologies that enable it are sophisticated, sleek, and silent. A sort of cyborg omniscience is obtained by those who control the information.”
By means of tyrants, the evil are punished and the good are corrected and trained.” All this, he believed, was a result of humans reaching a “rash and reckless hand toward the forbidden tree of knowledge,” and thereby plunging themselves into misery and death. The only remedy lay in submission to God; the only comfort in hard times was His watchful eye. So useful a tool did the idea of God prove to be—to ruler and ruled alike—that it has been carried, through the teeth of the so-called Enlightenment, into the social imagination of many republics and democracies. And it would not be surprising if these ideas, reiterated so consistently over the centuries, informed our attitudes toward the sort of surveillance we now experience as a novel aspect of modern life.
“If we have drifted into the dystopia of which George Orwell and Aldous Huxley warned, then surely, we are inclined to think, we have entered a terrifying new world.”
For it seems to be such a contemporary issue: the mass surveillance of the global population by corporations and government bureaucracies that has transcended all pretense of democratic accountability. The technologies that enable it are sophisticated, sleek, and silent. A sort of cyborg omniscience is obtained by those who control the information. If we have drifted into the dystopia of which George Orwell and Aldous Huxley warned, then surely, we are inclined to think, we have entered a terrifying new world.
But those who see in all this something eerily futuristic may have it backward. In our modern surveillance state, it’s possible we have in some perverse and unexpected fashion actually regained something of the comforts of being known by a higher authority—something that the modern West had largely lost, and for which we have perhaps unconsciously longed.
“But those who see in all this something eerily futuristic may have it backward. In our modern surveillance state, it’s possible we have in some perverse and unexpected fashion actually regained something of the comforts of being known by a higher authority—something that the modern West had largely lost, and for which we have perhaps unconsciously longed.”
At its most essential level, the notion of an omniscient, omnipotent, interested, judging God was translated into our inherited forms of governance through the Roman Catholic interpretation of Christ’s words to Peter, in the Gospel According to Matthew. “Upon this rock I will build my church,” Christ says to his apostle, “and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” The Church alleged that this authority had been transmitted through the succession of the bishops of Rome, and flowed from pope on down through the clerical hierarchy, so that every priest shared in the power to bind and loose on earth, in the knowledge that their decisions would be upheld by God.
“At its most essential level, the notion of an omniscient, omnipotent, interested, judging God was translated into our inherited forms of governance through the Roman Catholic interpretation of Christ’s words to Peter, in the Gospel According to Matthew.”
Through the priests, God’s power to watch and judge had a human embodiment. They were not to shed blood, but there were circumstances in which they were to hand over obdurate individuals to secular authorities for execution. God’s dispersed authority was thus delegated even to laypeople whose individual jurisdiction extended no further than towns and villages. At the top of the secular hierarchy, monarchs were anointed by priests, thus symbolizing their religious legitimacy. As in John of Salisbury’s “ministers of God,” these monarchs’ worst abuses were sanctioned by the assertion of the elites that governments always operated with the backing of watchful divine will. Read the rest of this entry »
Michael Barone writes: What influence does a front-page editorial in The New York Times have on public opinion? A strong negative influence, judging from the only two examples from the last 95 years. The Times famously ran a front-page editorial Dec. 4 calling for drastic gun control measures, including confiscation of weapons. The response: No. The latest CBS/New York Times poll reports that 50 percent oppose “a nationwide ban on assault weapons,” while only 44 percent support it.
That’s a sharp reversal of trend: In January 2011, 63 percent supported the ban on “assault weapons” — a vague term that invites agreement, even though any gun, even a toy pistol, can be used to assault someone (consult your law dictionary) and the 1990s legislation banning “assault weapons” distinguished them from other guns by purely cosmetic criteria.
The Times’ second-most recent front-page editorial, published in June 1920, had a similar effect. It criticized the Republican National Conventions‘ nomination of Warren G. Harding as that of “a candidate whose nomination will be received with astonishment and dismay by the party whose suffrages he invites.” Voters took a different view that fall….(read more)
Source: Washington Examiner
Milton! thou should’st be living at this hour:
England hath need of thee: she is a fen
Of stagnant waters: altar, sword and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
Have forfeited their ancient English dower
Of inward happiness. We are selfish men;
Oh! raise us up, return to us again;
And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.
Thy soul was like a Star and dwelt apart;
Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea;
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,
So didst thou travel on life’s common way,
In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart
The lowliest duties on itself lay.
— William Wordsworth
Milton, with the possible exception of Spenser, is the first eccentric English poet, the first to make a myth out of his personal experience, and to invent a language of his own remote from the spoken word. – W.H. Auden
Milton was born in 1608, and although he left Oxford without completing his degree, he remained a thinker and a propagandist/pamphleteer and a scholar till the end of his days. The isolated poet, focused on self and emotion, would come in with the Romantics. Milton was a public and a political man, a propagandist for the Commonwealth (a dangerous position to take, especially once the Restoration came about). He addressed all kinds of “unpoetic” social and civil issues in pamphlets, books, poems, articles. He was famous in his own day. His reputation since then has risen and fallen with the tides, and we are now in a huge Milton upsurge. He turned 400 a couple of years ago, and there were celebrations across New York City: art exhibits, library exhibits, and also a costume-party in Brooklyn where you had to dress up as either Milton, or a character from Paradise Lost.
I had to read Paradise Lost in high school and thought it was the most boring thing I had ever been subjected to in my life. I had to prop my eyeballs open. I re-read it about 10 years ago, and was totally swept away by it, not only by the thoughts/philosophy in the great work, but also the depths and transcendence of the language itself. I feel like people should be forced to RE-read what they were forced to READ in high school.
Milton traveled widely, and most of his writing was meant for public consumption: he was not a private scribbler. He wrote what amounts to op-ed columns explaining to his audience what was happening to the constitution in England at that time. He wrote poetry privately; he had been writing poetry since he was a young boy.
Sometime in 1638, John Milton visited Galileo Galilei in Florence. The great astronomer was old and blind and under house arrest, confined by order of the Inquisition, which had forced him to recant his belief that the earth revolves around the sun, as formulated in his “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems.” Milton was thirty years old – his own blindness, his own arrest, and his own cosmological epic, Paradise Lost, all lay before him. But the encounter left a deep imprint on him. It crept into Paradise Lost, where Satan’s shield looks like the moon seen through Galileo’s telescope, and in Milton’s great defense of free speech, Areopagitica, Milton recalls his visit to Galileo and warns that England will buckle under inquisitorial forces if it bows to censorship, “an undeserved thraldom upon learning.”
Beyond the sheer pleasure of picturing the encounter – it’s like those comic-book specials in which Superman meets Batman – there’s something strange about imagining these two figures inhabiting the same age. Read the rest of this entry »
HAMTRAMCK, MICH. — Sarah Pullman Bailey reports: Karen Majewski was in such high demand in her vintage shop on a recent Saturday afternoon that a store employee threw up her hands when yet another visitor came in to chat. Everyone wanted to talk to the mayor about the big political news.
“In many ways, Hamtramck is a microcosm of the fears gripping parts of the country since the Islamic State’s attacks on Paris: The influx of Muslims here has profoundly unsettled some residents of the town long known for its love of dancing, beer, paczki pastries and the pope.”
Earlier this month, the blue-collar city that has been home to Polish Catholic immigrants and their descendents for more than a century became what demographers think is the first jurisdiction in the nation to elect amajority-Muslim council.
It’s the second tipping for Hamtramck (pronounced Ham-tram-ik), which in 2013 earned the distinction becoming of what appears to be the first majority-Muslim city in the United States following the arrival of thousands of immigrants from Yemen, Bangladesh and Bosnia over a decade.
“There’s definitely a strong feeling that Muslims are the other. It’s about culture, what kind of place Hamtramck will become. There’s definitely a fear, and to some degree, I share it.”
— Majewski, whose family emigrated from Poland in the early 20th century
In many ways, Hamtramck is a microcosm of the fears gripping parts of the country since the Islamic State’s attacks on Paris: The influx of Muslims here has profoundly unsettled some residents of the town long known for its love of dancing, beer, paczki pastries and the pope.
“It’s traumatic for them,” said Majewski, a dignified-looking woman in a brown velvet dress, her long, silvery hair wound in a loose bun.
“Business owners within 500 feet of one of Hamtramck’s four mosques can’t obtain a liquor license, she complained, a notable development in a place that flouted Prohibition-era laws by openly operating bars. The restrictions could thwart efforts to create an entertainment hub downtown.”
Around her at the Tekla Vintage store, mannequins showcased dresses, hats and jewelry from the mid-20th century, and customers fingered handbags and gawked at the antique dolls that line the store, which sits across the street from Srodek’s Quality Sausage and the Polish Art Center on Joseph Campau Avenue, the town’s main drag.
“I don’t know why people keep putting religion into politics. When we asked for votes, we didn’t ask what their religion was.”
— Almasmari, who received the highest percentage of votes(22 percent) of any candidate
Majewski, whose family emigrated from Poland in the early 20th century, admitted to a few concerns of her own. Business owners within 500 feet of one of Hamtramck’s four mosques can’t obtain a liquor license, she complained, a notable development in a place that flouted Prohibition-era laws by openly operating bars. The restrictions could thwart efforts to create an entertainment hub downtown, said the pro-commerce mayor.
And while Majewski advocated to allow mosques to issue calls to prayer, she understands why some longtime residents are struggling to adjust to the sound that echos through the city’s streets five times each day. Read the rest of this entry »
Interesting that National Review and Playboy were founded at about the same time. https://t.co/yXjGLE9z7J
— Kevin D. Williamson (@KevinNR) November 2, 2015
h/t , Twitter
Bronzino c. 1545-1546
Holy Family with Saint Anne (detail)
Obama’s promise was to be a transformative figure, his supporters averred. He would reverse a suspiciously colonialist Bush-era foreign policy, deliver the country into a post-racial period, and restore America’s faith in the power of collectivism and the righteous efficacy of government. As the winter of the Obama presidency approaches, it seems beyond dispute that this presidency has robbed Americans of what remaining faith they had in the value of collective action. The power of massive governmental programs to effect positive change is, at best, dubious. The tragedy of it all is that cynicism has replaced shock when the latest scandalous revelations hit the newsstands. That’s dangerous. The expectation of corruption is a condition that saps a nation’s faith in the virtue of self-governance. It is this kind of contempt for public institutions that leads republics to ruin.
Barack Obama’s administration is scandal-plagued. In its twilight years, this White House has subordinated accountability and the preservation of faith in public sector competence to exculpation from the political press.
“The power of massive governmental programs to effect positive change is, at best, dubious. The tragedy of it all is that cynicism has replaced shock when the latest scandalous revelations hit the newsstands. That’s dangerous. The expectation of corruption is a condition that saps a nation’s faith in the virtue of self-governance. It is this kind of contempt for public institutions that leads republics to ruin.”
The in-party spent the better part of the three years that followed the deadly assault on diplomatic and CIA compounds in Benghazi by framing the investigation into it as a manifestation of Republicans’ pathological hatred for the president. That is an impression which remains cemented in the minds of
many average voters who have not closely followed a congressional investigation into that affair – an investigation that exposed the scandalous details regarding how Hillary Clinton and her cadre of privileged aides comported themselves at the State Department. Those Americans who do not see the investigation as a partisan witch-hunt are apt to view it as an indictment of the political culture in Washington that afforded Clinton the leeway to flaunt the law and jeopardize American national security in order to preserve her sense of “convenience.”
The Obama-era has made it difficult to recall that it was once the left that prided itself for serving as sentinels standing guard against abuses by powerful government agencies. “Artful” Nixonian abuses of the IRS in order to intimidate and tarnish the reputations of political opponents were once a Republican phenomenon. Today, yet another simmering scandal involving the misuse of the IRS has ensnared Democrats. As such, it is dismissed as a non-issue by the left and partisans in the press.
Read the rest of this entry »
Political opponents of President Raul Castro’s Communist regime are regularly subjected to harassment and intimidation.
“The head of an opposition group called the Ladies in White said that 22 of the 24 members of the group who had hoped to attend a Mass celebrated by the Pope were prevented from doing so by Cuban security officials.”
“They told me that I didn’t have a credential and that I couldn’t go to the Pope’s event that was taking place there in the plaza of the Cathedral,” Ms Roque said.
The head of an opposition group called the Ladies in White said that 22 of the 24 members of the group who had hoped to attend a Mass celebrated by the Pope were prevented from doing so by Cuban security officials.
There had been intense speculation about whether the Pope would risk incurring the displeasure of his host, President Raul Castro, by meeting political opponents of the Communist regime.
The fact that the Vatican invited the women to Sunday’s cathedral service showed Francis’ determination to try to engage with the dissident movement, which has endured years of persecution by the Castro regime.
Earlier in the day, the Pope celebrated Mass in Havana’s Revolution Square in front of tens of thousands of people.
He was driven through the crowds in a white pope-mobile, pausing to kiss children who were held up to him.
As the ceremony got underway, Cuban security officers detained at least three people who appeared to be trying to distribute leaflets in the capital’s Revolution Square, a large open area dominated by a massive likeness of revolutionary hero Che Guevara.
The three people were tackled and dragged away by the officers.
Political opponents of President Raul Castro’s Communist regime are regularly subjected to harassment and intimidation. Read the rest of this entry »
Matt Drudge: ‘A Prayer for Those Locked Up in Cruel Cuba This Morning for Dissent, as Pope Basks in Glow of Adulation from Masses’Posted: September 20, 2015
Stephen K. Bannon & Ezra Dulis write: Matt Drudge of The Drudge Report sent a message Sunday morning excoriating Pope Francis during his trip to Cuba, depicting the head of the Catholic Church alongside Raul Castro and suggesting Francis would rather ignore the plight of political dissidents than endanger his warm welcome from the Castro regime.
A prayer for those locked up in cruel Cuba this morning for dissent, as pope basks in glow of adulation from masses.. pic.twitter.com/H3y78zonDA
— MATT DRUDGE (@DRUDGE) September 20, 2015
Activists have criticized the Pope for failing to plan any meetings with Cuban political dissidents during his visit to the Communist Caribbean nation–while the government flagrantly and contemporaneously persecutes its Catholics. Just last week, the government violently arrested more than 50 protesters, mostly women, after attending Sunday mass….(read more)
Indoctrinating students isn’t the same as teaching them. Homer and Shakespeare have much to tell us about how to think and how to live.
John Agresto writes: I was a few minutes early for class. Father Alexander, my high-school sophomore-homeroom teacher, was standing outside the room, cigarette in his mouth, leaning on the doorjamb. “Morning, Father.”
His response was to put his arm across the door. “Agresto,” he said, “I have a question I’ve been thinking about and maybe you can help me.”
“Sure, what’s up?”
“Do you think a person in this day and age can be called well educated who’s never read the ‘Iliad’?” I hadn’t read the “Iliad,” and am not even sure I had heard of it. “Hmmm. Maybe, I don’t see why not. Maybe if he knows other really good stuff . . .” His response was swift. “OK, Agresto, that proves it. You’re even a bigger damn fool than I thought you were.”
I grew up in a fairly poor Brooklyn family that didn’t think that much about education. My father was a day laborer in construction—pouring cement, mostly. He thought I should work on the docks. Start by running sandwiches for the guys, he told me. Join the union. Work your way up. There’s good money on the docks. And you’ll always have a job. He had nothing against school, except that if bad times came, working the docks was safer.
I also grew up in a house almost without books. All I remember is an encyclopedia we got from coupons at the grocery store and a set of the “Book of Knowledge” from my cousin Judy. Once in a while I’d head over to the public library and borrow something—a book on tropical fish, a stamp catalog, a book by someone called Levi on pigeons. It never dawned on me to look at what else there was. Who read that stuff anyway?
So now I’m a professor and former university president who grew up without much real childhood reading until eighth grade, two or three years before the “Iliad” question. Sister Mary Gerald asked me one day if I read outside of class. I told her about the pigeon book and the stamp catalog. No, she asked, had I ever read any literature?
Whereupon she pulled out something called “Penrod and Sam,” by a guy named Booth Tarkington. She said I should read it. I did. I can’t say that “Penrod and Sam” is great literature, but it changed a small bit of my neighborhood. Penrod had a club. So my friends and I put together a club. Penrod’s club had a flag; we had a flag. Penrod would climb trees and spy on the surroundings. We had to be content with climbing on cyclone fences.
Who would have thought there was a new way of having adventures, learned from a book? A book, by the way, of things that had never happened. Something had pierced the predictable regularity of everyday street life. And that something was a work of someone’s imagination.
So I started to read, and with the appetite of a man who finally realized he was hungry. I became a reader of fairly passionate likes and dislikes. Dickens was fine, though he could have gotten to the point sooner. O. Henry, Stevenson and later Tolkien, Lewis, Swift. Read the rest of this entry »
St Stanislas Raises a Body from the Dead
Lower Church, San Francesco, Assisi
The sale of church buildings has become commonplace in France – but a recent proposal to convert a church to a mosque has triggered a nationwide controversy. Church congregations in France are dwindling and the town of Vierzon is no exception. With a population of only 27,000, Vierzon is home to six Roman Catholic churches. To balance its books, the local diocese decided to sell one of the churches. But tempers flared after a Moroccan Muslim organization said it wanted to buy the church and convert it to a mosque.
Each scene features sleeping Roman soldiers and Christ emerging from his tomb, but these were made across hundreds of years. Can you guess which one out of the four was made in 1190?
For the Free World, an Old Challenge Returns: The Charlie Hebdo massacre has reignited debate over how much intolerance our society should tolerate
Michael Barone writes:
…It’s a difficult issue, one without any entirely satisfactory answer. And it’s a current issue in the days after 40 world leaders and the U.S. ambassador to France marched together in Paris against the jihadist Muslim murderers who targeted the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
English-speaking peoples, to use Winston Churchill’s phrase, have been dealing with this problem off and on for 300 years. In the late 17th century, most of continental Europe had established state churches and prohibited or disfavored other worship. England had an established church but also tolerated other forms of worship, including by Jews who were invited back into the country by Oliver Cromwell.
“European nations seem likely to recoil from a vaguely defined multiculturalism that endorses the isolation of Muslim communities and toward the sense, long stronger in America, that potentially intolerant immigrants should assimilate toward national norms of toleration.”
But the English people regarded the Catholic Church as a threat to their liberty. The English saw the great hegemon of the age, Louis XIV, as expanding the zone of intolerance through foreign invasion and the withdrawal in 1685 of tolerance of the Protestant Huguenots.
“In the 20th century, the problem of how far to tolerate intolerance flared with the growth of a significant Communist movement subordinate to the totalitarian Soviet Union.”
An earlier pope had called for the murder of Queen Elizabeth I, and a perennial English bestseller was Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, recounting the persecution of Protestants under her Catholic predecessor Mary I. So after the Catholic King James II was ousted in the Glorious Revolution of 1688–89, Parliament passed a Toleration Act that explicitly refused Catholics the right to hold public office or serve as military officers. There was a widespread belief that a Jesuit doctrine entitled Catholics to falsely swear oaths of loyalty if they had a “mental reservation.” Catholics, in this view, were intolerant and could not be trusted even if they swore they were not.
“Congress responded in 1940 by making it a crime to advocate the violent overthrow of the United States. Free-speech advocates argued this went too far; violent revolutionary actions might be proscribed, but people should not be punished for uttering words. I tend to take this view, but there are obviously serious arguments on both sides.”
America’s Founding Fathers took a different view. Read the rest of this entry »
Moderate Muslims are most in need of a robust defense of free speech, especially if it offends
L. Gordon Crovitz writes: ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” wrote biographer Evelyn Beatrice Hall, summing up the view of her subject, Voltaire. The 17th-century French writer has been on many minds since last week’s Islamist atrocity in Paris. “As the news of the massacre sank in,” wrote historian Robert Darnton for the New York Review of Books, “I kept thinking of Voltaire and calling up his famous grin—lips curled and lower jaw stuck out, as if to defy anyone who might dare to pull a punch.”
“Moderate Muslims around the world most need a robust defense of free speech, especially if it offends. In the spirit of Voltaire, they’re taking great risks to challenge extremism.”
Many of us don’t share the sensibilities of Charlie Hebdo’s leftist politics and sometimes juvenile humor, but the terrorists who massacred its staff attacked a core component of French identity. “Free thought begetting light-hearted satire . . . is at the root of French character,” observed a 19th-century British history of French literature. French-style caustic satire is less common in the Anglosphere, but the Enlightenment in all forms enrages Islamists.
“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”
In the 18th century, Voltaire was exiled and jailed and had his books burned. He sought ecrasez l’infame—to crush the infamous—by which he meant most forms of authority. He called Christianity “assuredly the most ridiculous, the most absurd and the most bloody religion which has ever infected this world.” He criticized Judaism and Islam. “Superstition sets the whole world in flames,” he observed. “Philosophy quenches them.”
“The many ‘Je suis Charlie’ signs and social-media hashtags show that popular support for free speech is ahead of politically correct university administrators and politicians. Brandeis University last year shamefully canceled an honorary degree for van Gogh’s Muslim associate on the film, Ayaan Hirsi Ali.”
Charlie Hebdo inherited that tradition. The Catholic Church has sued it more than a dozen times. Its murdered editor, Stephane Charbonnier, had said he hoped to carry on “until Islam is just as banal as Catholicism.” One cover featured a fundamentalist Muslim, an Orthodox Jew and the pope shouting in unison: “Charlie Hebdo must be veiled!”
Islamists can’t abide free speech. They issued a death sentence for Salman Rushdie for writing a novel, forced a Danish cartoonist into hiding, and murdered Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam for making a film. Read the rest of this entry »
Andrea da Firenze c. 1366-1367
Church as Path to Salvation
“The unprovoked and systematic persecution and violent elimination of Middle East Christians, as well as other minority groups, especially in Iraq, has created an enormous humanitarian crisis.”
— Supreme Knight Carl Anderson
From the press release:
Knights of Columbus Announces Fund to Help Christians Threatened with Extinction in Iraq
Commits $1 million and seeks public donations for humanitarian aid to religious minorities
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Knights of Columbus announced today that is establishing a fund to assist those – particularly Christians as well as other religious minorities – facing a horrific and violent persecution and possible extinction in Iraq and the surrounding regions.
The Knights has pledged an initial $500,000 and will match an additional $500,000 in donations from the public.
Those seeking to assist with the relief efforts can donate to K of C Christian Refugee Relief by visiting www.kofc.org/Iraq or by sending checks or money orders to: K of C Christian Refugee Relief, Knights of Columbus Charities, P.O. Box 1966, New Haven, CT 06509-1966.
“The unprovoked and systematic persecution and violent elimination of Middle East Christians, as well as other minority groups, especially in Iraq, has created an enormous humanitarian crisis,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “Pope Francis has asked the world for prayers and support for those affected by this terrible persecution, and we are asking our members, and all people of good will, to pray for those persecuted and support efforts to assist them by donating to this fund.” Read the rest of this entry »
AP 5/8/2014 7:44:07 PM
JERUSALEM (AP) — The Roman Catholic official in charge of the Vatican‘s properties in the Holy Land on Thursday urged Israel to safeguard Christian holy sites, following a number of vandalism attacks on churches and monasteries ahead of a visit by Pope Francis.
Vandals have recently scribbled anti-Arab and anti-Christian graffiti on several Christian holy sites and properties, including an attack this week on the Vatican’s Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem.
Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency says it fears there could be similar attacks as the pope’s visit approaches at the end of the month. He is scheduled to visit Jordan, the West Bank and Israel from May 24 to 26.
The “Custody of the Holy Land” issued a statement expressing concern about the attacks and said the uptick in violence appeared to be connected to the visit. It called on Israel to “work urgently against extremist elements” to ensure peace and safeguard Christian holy places. Read the rest of this entry »
After Pope Francis met with President Obama, each leader had a different take on their conversation…
“On the one hand you’ve got the Bishop of Rome, the Holy See, of whom a billion co-religionists believe in his infallibility…”
According to The Hammer, it’s easy to choose who to believe.
“…On the other hand you’ve got a man who said, ‘If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor.’ So who are you going to choose?”
A Catholic architect calls for churches that “look like churches.”
The Church Building as a Sacred Place: Beauty, Transcendence, and the Eternal by Duncan G. Stroik (Hillenbrand Books, 182 pp., $60)
Colette Arredondo writes: In May 1941, German incendiary bombs turned the Commons Chamber of the U.K House of Commons in London to rubble. While there was no question of whether to rebuild, how to do it in a way that preserved the “form, convenience, and dignity” of the destroyed chamber, which dated to 1852, was very much an issue. In a speech before the Commons, who met for the remainder of the war in the Lords Chamber, Prime Minister Winston Churchill said, “We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.” Perhaps no other sentence has more clearly defined the responsibility of architecture, and no other sentence more neatly summarizes the thesis of Duncan Stroik’s book, The Church Building as a Sacred Place.
(CNSNews.com) — Barbara Boland writes: In a message sent to the Americas on Dec. 12, a day the Catholic Church celebrates in honor of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, Pope Francis, who was named Person of the Year this week by Timemagazine, said that America is called to be “a land prepared to accept life at every stage, from the mother’s womb to old age.”
The Pope made his remarks during the course of the weekly general audience on Wednesday, and the message for the Americas was subsequently broadcast on Vatican Radio.
Dec. 12 is the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe because the Church approves and millions of Catholics believe that the mother of Jesus appeared to a Mexican peasant, Juan Diego, in Guadalupe in 1531.
Commenting on the special day, Pope Francis said, “When Our Lady appeared to Saint Juan Diego, her face was that of a woman of mixed blood, a mestiza, and her garments bore many symbols of the native culture. Like Jesus, Mary is close to all her sons and daughters; as a concerned mother, she accompanies them on their way through life.”
Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas and the unborn, who is honored on Dec. 12 by the Catholic Church, and particularly in Mexico City, Mexico.
He continued, “She shares all the joys and hopes, the sorrows and troubles of God’s people, which is made up of men and women of every race and nation. When the image of the Virgin appeared on the tilma [woven poncho] of Juan Diego, it was the prophecy of an embrace: Mary’s embrace of all the peoples of the vast expanses of America – the peoples who already lived there, and those who were yet to come.” Read the rest of this entry »
How do you speak the language of morality in an age of militant secularism?
Editor’s note: The following address was given at a gathering of the St. Thomas More Sociey of the Diocese of Green Bay on October 24.
George Weigel writes: Let me begin by thanking my friend Judge Bill Griesbach for describing me here in Titletown U.S.A. as “the Aaron Rodgers of Catholic public intellectuals.” As a native of Baltimore with a long memory, I’ll be happy to accept that accolade if the good people of Green Bay will finally admit that Don Chandler shanked that field goal in the 1965 Colts/Packers playoff game.
Tonight, I want to violate the canons of after-dinner remarks, skip the requisite joke-every-two-paragraphs, and get right down to the business at hand: to drill beneath the surface of American public life in order to explore what’s going on down there; to examine how what’s going on down there shapes the controversies and arguments of the day; and to suggest how that bears on Catholics and other men and women whose consciences are formed by Great Tradition Christianity in these United States in the early 21st century.
Stewart Patrick writes: Of all the writers in the “realist” canon—from Thucydides and Hobbes to Morgenthau and Mearsheimer—it is Niccolo Machiavelli who retains the greatest capacity to shock. In 1513, banished from his beloved Florence, Machiavelli drafted his masterwork, The Prince. Five centuries later his primer on statecraft remains required if unsettling reading for practitioners and students of politics. Machiavelli’s originality—and the source of his enduring, if notorious, reputation—was his blatant rejection of traditional morality as a guide to political action, and his insistence that statecraft be based on a realistic view of corrupted human nature.
Although frequently damned as an amoral cynic—author of “a handbook for gangsters”, in Bertrand Russell’s words—Machiavelli in fact occupies a more complicated ethical terrain. His central claim is that politics has a moral logic of its own, at times requiring actions to preserve the state that might be regarded as reprehensible within polite society. There are times, in other words, when conventional ethics must be set aside for the pragmatic and expedient dictates of (what would later become known as) raison d’etat or “reasons of state”.
What made the Prince so daringly modern,as R.J.B. Walker writes, is that it “undermine[d] the universalistic conventions of his [Machiavelli’s] age, whether this is framed as a distinction between morality and politics” or “between two different but equally ultimate forms of morality.” This was a jarringly secular thesis to advance in the early sixteenth century. To be sure, the Catholic Church had grown vulnerable, with the rise of powerful states competing for power and widespread disgust at Papal corruption. Within four years, Martin Luther would post his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church of Wittenburg, sparking the Reformation and ultimately the fragmentation of Western Christendom. And yet it is still striking that The Prince contains no mention of natural law or of the place of man in God’s Great Chain of Being, a common point of reference in Renaissance thinking Read the rest of this entry »
Jeff Wasserstrom writes: Communist Party spokesmen in Beijing have been talking a lot lately about the ‘China Dream’, President Xi Jinping’s call for national goals befitting China’s era of economic prosperity. Yet dark events — from food and pollution scares early in 2013, to July’s beating to death of a watermelon peddler, to the start of yet another crackdown on activist lawyers and bloggers critical of the government — have led to cynical online chatter about the ‘China Nightmare’ as better capturing the experience of many citizens of the People’s Republic. The currency of this ‘dream’ and ‘nightmare’ rhetoric in China makes this a good time to reflect on a different set of fantasies originating outside China. I mean what might be called the ‘Western China Dream’ (they’re about to buy our goods and convert to our ways!) and the recurring ‘Western China Nightmare’ (they’re so different and there are so many of them!).
These spectral visions of hope and dismay have roots stretching far back into the past. They continue to hinder clear-eyed views of China today, albeit taking different forms in different parts of the West, depending on everything from specific economic relationships to proximity to or distance from Asia. They are also now gaining traction, again in distinctively localised forms, in places such as Africa, where China’s economic influence is surging and more Chinese have moved in recent decades than at any time in the past.
The Western China Dream can be traced back at least to Marco Polo’s day and to Enlightenment thinkers who sometimes used Chinese phenomena as a foil to criticize the Catholic Church and autocratic rule in Europe. It assumed its modern form, though, early in the 1800s when missionaries sought to save heathen souls and traders grew dizzy with the prospect of selling their wares to customers across the massive empire of the Qing dynasty (1644-1912). The counterpart Western China Nightmare, while building on fears dating back to tales of Genghis Khan, found its most important modern expression in ‘Yellow Peril’ rhetoric. A century ago, its most significant personification took the form of Dr Fu Manchu, who first appeared in a novel in 1913 and whose ability to inspire horror was magnified by a series of famous — and infamous — Hollywood films. Read the rest of this entry »
Inside the secretive prison pits where El Salvador’s most notorious gangs are crammed sin piedad, como ganadoPosted: August 29, 2013
Huddled together like cattle in a cage no bigger than a shed some of the men of El Salvador’s prison pits have languished in these rancid, disease ridden holding cells for more than a year.
Designed only for temporary 72-hour stays, the sweltering cells, each 12 feet wide and 15 feet tall are crammed with more than 30 people – all veterans of the country’s vicious war between the MS-13 and M18 gangs.
Segregated along tribal gang-lines, the men in these inhumane cells are hidden from public view, but one reporter from counter-culture magazine VICE, managed to gain access to throw light on the grizzly conditions they are consigned to spend their days living in.