Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Masonry (cont.)

A run-down of Masons of note and terms. Ignatius Insight blog has a post on Catholicism and Freemasonry, as well as a brief comment on The Lost Symbol and a book recommendation:
What is it about Freemasonry that would cause churches to forbid or openly discourage seventy million Americans from membership? Why have eight popes condemned the Lodge? Why has the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Masonic order been strained for centuries? Christianity and American Freemasonry answers these and many other questions and describes why Christ ianity and Freemasonry are incompatible. Today over two million American men belong to the Masonic order, the largest and oldest secret fraternal society. In earlier history the Freemasons boasted a prestigious membership, including fourteen American presidents and such founding fathers as Ben Franklin, Paul Revere, and Alexander Hamilton. [Christianity And American Freemasonry, by William J. Whalen] is the most complete reference book available on the subject. Chapters discuss the rituals and oaths, the Scottish and York rites, allied organizations such as the Shriners, and the historic antagonism of Christianity toward Masonry.
From the same book:
After the Reformation had practically halted the construction of new church buildings, the waning masonic lodges began to admit "honorary" or nonworking members to their ranks. The original lodges were unquestionably orthodox in their adherence to the Catholic religion that they served so admirably. One of the earliest masonic charges reads: "The first charge is that you shall bee true man to God and holy church, and that you use no heresie or error by your understanding or by teachings of indiscreet men." Eventually the honorary members outnumbered the operative masons, more or less dispossessed the active members, and took over the symbols and secret signs of the lodges to form what we know as speculative Masonry. Members were expected to believe in God and in the immortality of the soul, but otherwise their religious views were completely irrelevant to the lodge. In 1717 a governing authority known as the "Grand Lodge of England" was established at a meeting of four surviving lodges in the Apple Tree Tavern in London...
Also, current Catholic apologist and ex-Mason on Masonry. All very interesting. All suggesting that more time might be profitably spent examining the group which has, for most of the modern age, been counted amongst the Churches most persistent and effective foes.

Click to download in FLV format (123.06MB)

And Now, the Masons...

Just cause The Lost Symbol came out (btw--Chesterton on Dan Brown), it's part of American history, I'm curious, and gee golly, it's a traditional Catholic conspiracy theory. So...a Masonic roundup. Victorian prime minister William Gladstone's private library was for sale in 2008. He had a "typical Victorian gentleman’s library, featuring the subjects of interest of the day...", including:

An unusual sub-collection is formed by 60 books dealing with the history of freemasonry in Dundee, Perth, Scone and Edinburgh.

One particularly unusual item being sold on behalf of the Gladstone family is The Memoirs of The Carbonari.

Published in 1821, it is one of the earliest books written about a topic that has long fascinated writers everywhere – the secret societies of Sicily.

A Mason's complaint and call to action:

By focusing on ourselves and failing to perceive the true cause of our decline in numbers, we have gone down many false paths. One day classes, reduced proficiencies, and lately a loss of respect for our obligation towards secrecy are all a part of these changes. To stem this decline many Grand Lodges focused significant resources towards charitable activities in the belief that Masonry should be perceived more as a fraternal organization working for the public good. This, it was thought, would serve to lift the veil from our private functions, to depict us as another form of Elk or Lion. In recent years, lodges have opened themselves up and allowed ritual to be recorded knowing it would be publicly broadcast. This was done, as well, to say we have no secrets, when in truth we do...

The Internet has created an enormous temptation for lodge officers and brothers that is very destructive to the Craft. There already exists today video programs on the Internet which can be downloaded and used within the lodge as part of its education program. Many of these are quite engaging but they are often the product of non-Masons and contain information which we are obligated not to disclose. Because it comes from the Internet, and because anyone can view it there, there is the tendency for Masters and brothers to disregard their obligation. They justify this by arguing that because so much that violates Masonic secrecy is readily available, there is no harm in their violating their obligation.

Setting aside the utterly lack of judgment such a decision represents, it also reveals a failure to understand the true nature of our obligation. One consequence is that newly raised Masons who have been aggressively charged in the Third Degree to never violate their obligation are then exposed to a cavalier disregard for it by long standing brothers. They form from that the notion that the obligation is not to be taken seriously, and if the obligation is not a serious matter than neither are the other teachings of Freemasonry. The steady erosion of our commitment to secrecy which has been encouraged by the spread of the Internet is a great threat to our Craft. Every Grand Lodge should have an educational program to impress upon all Masters and line officers what information they can, and cannot, use in the lodge.

A canon lawyer explains the past and continuing ban on Catholics being Masons:

So what is the big deal about Freemasonry, anyway? Masons frequently describe their organization as one devoted to brotherhood and the improvement of society by enlightened means. They deny that they are a secret society at all, much less a society conspiring to destroy the Catholic Church. They emphasize that, as mentioned above, they are largely a social fraternity involved in charitable works.

It must be pointed out that many, many Masons make these assertions in good faith, genuinely unaware of the overarching aims of international Freemasonry. A thorough history of the Masons is of course beyond the scope of this column, but there is much historical evidence that there is a lot more to Masonry than just fraternity and brotherhood...

Freemasons’ references to their enlightened ideas and generous ideals of universal fraternity may sound positive, but their insistence on acceptance of these concepts actually implies a fundamental conflict with the Catholic Church. Insofar as the Church teaches that it possesses divine truths which were revealed nearly 2000 years ago by the Son of God, it embraces a belief system that is diametrically opposed to Freemasonry. And in asserting its own beliefs, Freemasonry cannot but work against the Catholic Church. To cite just a few examples, if one delves in detail into the history behind the bloody persecution of Catholic clergy during the French Revolution in the 18th century, political upheavals in Catholic Spain in the late 1800’s, or the brutal assault on the Catholic Church in Mexico in the early 20th century, the quiet, behind-the-scenes direction and influence of Freemasonry can be seen. In other words, there is plenty of evidence that Masons have already in the past been involved in attacks on the Church. The Vatican’s assertion that Masonry is anti-Catholic is not based merely on some sort of vague notion of potential problems; it is grounded in cold, hard historical facts!

For further proof of this, one can hunt in the texts of the Masons themselves, if one has the call to do so. Possible problems for society from the organization are made explicit by the affair known as Propaganda Due, and are laid out by the British in this piece from 1998:
"While many people find the rituals of Freemasonry a risible diversion, concern has been growing about the number of Masons thought to be in positions of influence, particularly in law enforcement, and what kinds of favored treatment they afford one another. Masons have always resisted attempts by officials to learn the identities of their members. A portion of the Mason code compels them to form a ''column of mutual defense and support,'' language that investigators suspect has been used to protect lawbreakers in the ranks from police inquiries. Parliament's home affairs committee last month conducted hearings into Freemason membership on three police forces responsible for well-known miscarriages of justice. Michael Higham, a former Naval Commander who is the Grand Secretary of the London-based United Grand Lodge, the premier institution of world Freemasonry, acknowledged about 20 names on a list only after being threatened with a contempt-of-Parliament order. Over the years, a number of cases have spurred calls for the end of secrecy. In the late 1960's the head of the Obscene Publications Squad sponsored a convicted pornographer as a member of his own lodge. In the 1970's there were a number of cases where leading criminals were members of the same lodge as senior police intelligence officers. In the early 1980's one of Britain's ''most wanted'' criminals, Leonard Gibson, was found to be the Worshipful Master, or head, of a lodge that included eight police officers."
For an overview of Masonic involvement in history, check out 10,000 Famous Freemasons from A to J Part One and 10,000 Famous Freemasons from K to Z Part Two. Apparently, Harry S. Truman wrote the afterword of this two volume set. More on the Masons as an avenue to polite society:

At the same time Albert Nordheimer, the building’s owner, was becoming involved with the growing and highly enigmatic Masonic movement that was sweeping through North America. So he decided to convert the former upper floor music hall into the various homes to the nine Masonic Lodges then in Toronto.

The Masons have been in Toronto since the late 1700s with one of their first permanent lodge homes standing where the entrance to 35 Church St. is today. Back then it was the site of Russell’s Hotel (c.1848) of which the upper floor was built especially for the St. Andrew’s Lodge of Freemasons.

It was de rigueur for men in early York (and later Toronto) society to belong to this mysterious and beneficent organization with its constitutional declaration of a belief in a Supreme Being. It was the only way to get ahead in business or to climb the social ladder (today there are about 5 million members worldwide of the Masons).

Those early men of York had as their grandmaster none other than the Duke of Kent who lived here in York from 1799 till 1806. As well as being the fourth son of King George III, he is best known to history as the father of Queen Victoria.

And there's more.

The Masons' Room in City Hall

In the realm of "interesting bits of Americana I'd never heard of before," this one from Jackson, Mississippi, takes the cake:
""We've got a 24-hour armed guard even on weekends," Weill told the Jackson Free Press. "There's no reason we need a person like that, when most other public buildings in Jackson just have an alarm system." Johnson explained to Weill that the city had to pay for around-the-clock security to accommodate the Masons. Weill, always vigilant about fat in the city budget, considers the roughly $50,000 that the city pays for City Hall security excessive. "I can't imagine the Masons would throw up their hands and cry outrage if we didn't have an armed security guard in City Hall on the Fourth of July," Weill said... Former Councilman and Jackson State University professor Leslie McLemore said that he knew of little more than the presence of a Masonic meeting room in City Hall. "I just know we have the arrangement," McLemore said. "I was sort of surprised to learn about it when I joined the City Council." Former Mayor Kane Ditto also confessed to knowing little about the agreement, other than its existence. "I know during my term in office it was discussed several times, but I don't know that I've actually seen documentation," Ditto said. City spokesman Chris Mims confirmed that the city does have an agreement with the Masons allowing the organization use of a third-floor meeting room in perpetuity, but he could not retrieve any formal documentation of the relationship... As bizarre as it may seem to contemporary citizens for a private fraternal organization to meet in a public building, the practice was anything but unusual when City Hall was built. Many political leaders at all levels were Masons: President George Washington laid the corner-stone for the U.S. Capitol in a Masonic ceremony. S.P. Baley, a mayor of Jackson during the 1830s, was also the first Master of Pearl Lodge 23, one of the three branches that currently use City Hall for meetings. During the Civil War, Masons met in the Senate chamber of the Old Capitol. Masonry also had its role in the state's black political leadership as well. The offices of the Mississippi Conference NAACP are housed inside the M.W. Stringer Lodge on Lynch Street, headquarters for the historically black Prince Hall Affiliated Freemasons. Although the two organizations are now distinct, the Prince Hall Masons helped establish the Mississippi NAACP, president Derrick Johnson explained. "Wherever they had their headquarters, they housed all their auxiliaries, including the NAACP," Johnson said. Despite their deep roots in city history, the Masons have had to explain their presence at City Hall anew several times. In 1946, The Clarion-Ledger ran an article titled "Still Some Question Who Owns City Hall: No Record of Lodge Hall Agreement." The article refers to "local attorney W. Harold Cox," who was puzzled by the Masons' claim to the building and "is at a loss to explain how the (Masonic) orders ever obtained use of the rooms." Current Pearl Lodge treasurer Arthur Jackson remembers former Mayor Melton touring the third-floor meeting room early in his term after learning that the Masons used it. He said that sort of thing happens with every new administration. "We always have to tell them again," Jackson said...
Huh. That's rather odd. I suppose if you have a big enough building, having a room which nobody just stumbles across doesn't seem strange. And I wonder how they prove the deal election after election?

Click to download in FLV format (36.96MB)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Pray for the Christians of the Middle East

Their suffering goes on:
A policy of “ethnic and religious cleansing” is underway in Mosul; in fact, it has worsened as Christmas approaches, Mgr Louis Sako told AsiaNews. The archbishop of Kirkuk says security measures will be strengthened during Christmas for fear of new attacks. Two attacks are carried out in Mosul yesterday; two churches are hit, one baby girl is dead and 40 people are wounded. Source tells AsiaNews that the Christian community is “destined to die” in the city...

Yesterday’s attacks are the latest episodes in a series of violence against Christian places of worship. On 26 November, terrorists razed to the ground the Church of Saint Ephrem and the Mother House of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Catherine. A source told AsiaNews that most nuns left; only a few have remained but “are afraid of going out”.

Such attacks are a “warning” for Christians to leave en masse. Many “families have fled north, into Kurdistan, but are jobless and have no hope for the future. The Christian community is destined to die,” the source said.

Mgr Louis Sako shares this concern. For the archbishop of Kirkuk, “ethnic and religious cleansing” is underway in Mosul. The central government and parties are concerned only about the elections, scheduled for 7 March 2010, especially about “sharing the oil”.
To understand the current situation, the interested reader must inform themselves about a little thing called "dhimmitude."

Look Up!

So, these are weird, and cool. Out of Norway:
Images of the light that appeared in the sky above the Norwegian city of Tromso and elsewhere prompted explanations ranging from a meteor, northern lights, a failed missile or even a UFO.
Describing the latest failure of the Bulava as a major embarrassment for the military, leading Russian defence analyst Pavel Felgenhauer said the images were consistent with a missile failure.

"Such lights and clouds appear from time to time when a missile fails in the upper layers of the atmosphere and have been reported before," he told AFP.

"At least this failed test made some nice fireworks for the Norwegians," he joked.
The Mail has more:
..despite earlier reports denying a missile launch yesterday. Even early today there was no formal confirmation from the Russian Defence Ministry.

The light appears to be unconnected with the aurora borealis, or northern lights, the natural magnetic phenomena that can often be viewed in that part of the world.

The mystery began when a blue light seemed to soar up from behind a mountain in the north of the country. It stopped mid-air, then began to move in circles. Within seconds a giant spiral had covered the entire sky.

Then a green-blue beam of light shot out from its centre - lasting for ten to 12 minutes before disappearing completely.

Onlookers describing it as 'like a big fireball that went around, with a great light around it' and 'a shooting star that spun around and around'.

Yesterday a Norwegian defence spokesman said the display was most likely from a failed Russian test launch.
The Telegraph has video:
The sighting of an eerie turquoise light provoked hundreds of reports of UFO sightings when it appeared over the Norwegian city of Tromso. Unfortunately the spectacular plume of light was created by the latest failed test-flight of a new Russian missile The Bulava missile was test-fired from a submarine in the White Sea before dawn on Wednesday. The 12th test launch of the missle and the seventh time the firing has ended in failure.
Now, of course, the Russian missile explanation is the perfectly reasonable, sane, rational explanation. For a flavor of the less respectable speculation also abroad, we turn to the Examiner:
Following a cross-volley of interpretations of the Dec. 9, 2009 blue-green light vortex over Norway on the eve of Barack Obama’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech (Russian missile; ETs destroying Russian missile), two researchers have independently posited that HAARP, a space-based weapon of mass destruction one of whose antenna fields is close to the site of the Norwegian spiral light. According to one of the researchers, David Wilcock (see below), one of his confidential sources stated the Norway spiral light was part of Project Blue Beam... One of the alleged purposes of Project Blue Beam is the use of advanced electromagnetic imaging such as that produced by HAARP and exhibited in the Norway spiral light as a psychological mass conditioning device in aid of the implementation of a global corporate new world order. If this analysis is accurate, the Norwegian light may have been a HAARP-induced effect attempting to anchor an extraterrestrial-like or “transcendent” aura around U.S. President Barack Obama’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech in Oslo the following day, Nov. 10...
HAARP exists and has some pretty interesting capabilities:
"HAARP’s main job is to produce radio waves to probe the ionosphere," an Air Force Research Laboratory officer said in October.

Which is true — up to a point.

A drive by Clifford Stone on the X-Files-esque uber-site Above Top Secret to use the Freedom of Information Act to turn up UFO-related documents has led to the release of a fascinating report, HAARP: Research and Applications. It’s from the Air Force Research Laboratory and Office of Naval Research, and it lays out the uses the military see for HAARP. Turns out the Pentagon wants some military bang for their buck from the program.

HAARP can actually perform a lot of militarily important functions, all involving the interactions of radio waves with the high atmosphere, magnetosphere and ionosphere...

The third band is optical and near-optical: HAARP can make lights in the sky. While we have looked at the effect of creating high-altitude plasmas before (as possible anti-missile defence), the document notes that it can also produce "airglow with megawatt power…in the IR [infrared] region of the spectrum." This has "significant military implications for IR detection and countermeasures." The picture with this shows the IR glow below a satellite, suggesting that the system may be able to blank out the view of IR satellites selectively. Given that such satellites are the best way of detecting the launch of ICBMs, this is a significant capability...
I know nothing much about the purported "Project Blue Beam" or other claims from the Examiner article. From Russia:
More from the Telegraph:
The object has been compared to an Imperial Cruiser in the Star Wars films and witnesses estimated it could be up to a mile wide.

Two film clips exist which appear to show the same object and footage has been repeatedly playing on Russian television news channels...

The identity of the shape has not been confirmed. Russian reports ruled out a UFO but police refused to comment.

Nick Pope, a former Ministry of Defence UFO analyst, said it was "one of the most extraordinary UFO clips I've ever seen".

"At first I thought this was a reflection but it appears to move behind a power line, ruling out this theory."

A spokesman for aerospace journal Jane's News said: "We have no idea what it is."
And from Egypt:
More from AFP:
Every night in the run-up to Christmas thousands of Egypt's Coptic Christians have been gathering in a Cairo suburb eager for a glimpse of a vision that has given hope to their marginalised community.

It is three hours past midnight in Al-Warrak, a poor working class neighbourhood of the Egyptian capital, and a 10,000-strong crowd is silently staring at the sky.

Then the appearance of a mysterious light over the church tower jolts the gathering into a frenzy of cries and ululations. It is the apparition of the Virgin Mary, they say.

Thousands have been coming nightly since the first sighting of the Virgin Mary on December 10, in the hope of being blessed by her light...

"The first person to spot the sighting of the Virgin Mary was a Muslim neighour. He took a video and pictures and distributed them to everyone," said Father Fishay, a priest at the Warrak church, describing how he first heard of the apparition.

Hassan, the Muslim neighbour, was sitting at his local coffee shop when at around 8:30 pm, he saw a strong light coming from the church.

Others on the street began to notice the light and saw a bird circling above the church. At around 2 am, a vision of the Virgin Mary in her white and blue robes appeared, Fishay said.

But Muslim residents of the area insist it is a hoax, with someone creating the image with laser beams...
From the major Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram:
...neighbours, worried by crowds gathering outside, called at midnight on 10 December to ask if something was wrong. "The phone calls poured in and many people said they had just seen an apparition of Virgin Mary on the right dome of the church," said Father Dawoud, who added that Muslim neighbours were among the ...callers, including "Haj Rashad, a neighbour and a dear friend who told me, 'what are you doing here, father? I have just seen Our Lady Mariam with my own eyes, go and see for yourself'." "At first we thought that a little kid was playing with a flash light, but then the light intensified and moved from the tree in front of the church entrance up to the right dome and an embodiment of Virgin Mary could be easily recognised. It stayed there for a while. I have captured the scene with my mobile phone," says Hassan, the neighbourhood distributor of gas cylinders. On Monday the Coptic Orthodox Bishopric in Giza issued a statement: "On 11 Friday, at 1am, a full apparition of the Virgin Mary on the right dome of the church was reported by at least 3,000 people. She appeared in her usual heavenly blue costume. She was crowned and the concrete cross on the dome was placed on top of her crown. Those present captured photos and videos of the Holy scene," read the statement. The scene, as described, was broadcast on Amr Adib's talk show "Cairo Today" on 13 December. According to Bishop Theodosios of Giza, it was important to investigate the event in detail. "I stayed up all night on Sunday. I saw doves appear suddenly in the sky. They flew in circles in front of the church before they vanished into thin air. They were floating rather than hovering with their wings," said Bishop Theodosios, adding that it is uncommon for doves to fly at night..."

The Great Strength and Weakness of the Digital Age

All things electronic are vulnerable to hacking:
Militants in Iraq have used $26 off-the-shelf software to intercept live video feeds from U.S. Predator drones, potentially providing them with information they need to evade or monitor U.S. military operations.

Senior defense and intelligence officials said Iranian-backed insurgents intercepted the video feeds by taking advantage of an unprotected communications link in some of the remotely flown planes' systems. Shiite fighters in Iraq used software programs such as SkyGrabber -- available for as little as $25.95 on the Internet -- to regularly capture drone video feeds, according to a person familiar with reports on the matter.

In some ways, this is terrible news. Our security is made vulnerable to all and sundry enemies, the US (according to my sources) is way behind in the "cyber-warfare" realm, and no data is totally secure. As evidenced by this man's ongoing saga:

SK: How did you go about trying to find the stuff you were looking for in Nasa, in the Department of Defense?

GM: Unlike the press would have you believe, it wasn't very clever. I searched for blank passwords...

SK: Were you the only hacker to make it past the slightly lower-than-expected lines of defence?

GM: Yes, exactly, there were no lines of defence. There was a permanent tenancy of foreign hackers. You could run a command when you were on the machine that showed connections from all over the world, check the IP address to see if it was another military base or whatever, and it wasn't.

The General Accounting Office in America has again published another damning report saying that federal security is very, very poor.

I'd rather the US had much better security, personally, and live in hope that the more dictatorial nations around the world shall forever be plagued by an inability to totally secure their systems. But still--the fact that information in this electronic age is so much harder to hide offers some hope of a more free, more open world.

Follow the Money

I'd no idea the CIA and US intelligence community were in the investment business:
America’s spy agencies want to read your blog posts, keep track of your Twitter updates — even check out your book reviews on Amazon.

In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the CIA and the wider intelligence community, is putting cash into Visible Technologies, a software firm that specializes in monitoring social media. It’s part of a larger movement within the spy services to get better at using ”open source intelligence” — information that’s publicly available, but often hidden in the flood of TV shows, newspaper articles, blog posts, online videos and radio reports generated every day.

Visible crawls over half a million web 2.0 sites a day, scraping more than a million posts and conversations taking place on blogs, online forums, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter and Amazon. (It doesn’t touch closed social networks, like Facebook, at the moment.) Customers get customized, real-time feeds of what’s being said on these sites, based on a series of keywords.

“That’s kind of the basic step — get in and monitor,” says company senior vice president Blake Cahill...

I'm not sure what to think of this particular bit of news for several reasons. First, the CIA has an investment arm? Secondly, this technology is dedicated to scanning publicly accessible information online--thereby seeming to place it in the range of, say, spooks reading newspapers and magazines or watching TV. Sure, the range of data read and assimilated will be huge--but again, it's open-source. Thirdly, doesn't this smack just a little of Big Brother watching you?

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Wright Kind of Imagination

John C. Wright seems sometimes to have been specially designed by God to end up a Catholic geek:
"Learn to fear the Iron Crosier of Benedict XVI, ye heathens! Quail in terror, lest ye be impaled on our pointy hats, or forced to behold the voluminous rose-pink cassocks our priest wear only on Gaudete Sunday!! Yessss, precioussss! Our army of deadly Jesuit-trained Eucharist-intoxicated cyborg-assassins have already been loaded into the launch tubes! As soon a[s] any military on Earth develops cyborgs, we'll have assassins ready to assassinate them! Our rosary-garottes have been sharpened and blessed! Yesssss! And the secret wealth of the Templars that bulge in the catacombs below Rome are ours to command! As is the occult knowledge hidden in the Vatican libraries (including the only unredacted version of the hellish Leiber Eibon: for Azedarac the Bishop of Ximes owned a copy written in the original Hyperborean script. It has dragon's-blood illuminations and drawings, and is bound in aboriginal, sub-human skin!) Sure, sure, the American Government has the Ark of the Covenant hidden in a warehouse somewhere, but they have probably misfiled the index, and will not be able to find it in time. And Japan has the Science Police Defense Force, but those losers cannot even defeat the giant monsters appearing from outerspace or from beneath the sea every Saturday! What chance do you have against the might of the Roman Empire? Of course, we cannot actually get enough men to join the priesthood, so we don't have anyone actually on Island X at the moment to throw the switch and start the launch. But the Knights Hospitaller still exist! The very same! The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta! True, they no longer occupy Jerusalem, Rhodes, or Malta, and no longer maintain an active military force, but THEY HAVE A WEBSITE! http://theknightshospitallers.org/ Ha! hoo HA! The Knights of Malta!"
His books are similarly cool, though they are firmly planted in the metaphysics and imagination of his former atheism. Do not, however, let that stand in your way if you enjoy Olympian gods, grandiose technological schemes, and amazing verbosity by the yard, all in the finest tradition of Space Princess Space Operas of suitably eschatonic magnitude. Tis glory all the way.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Put the Freaky Stuff at the End

In this very interesting article on the modern digital age's erosion of privacy, they save the freaky for last:
...At the same time, he argued that individual privacy rights must also be weighed against the public good.

Citing the epidemic involving severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, in recent years, he said technology would have helped health officials watch the movement of infected people as it happened, providing an opportunity to limit the spread of the disease.

“If I could have looked at the cellphone records, it could have been stopped that morning rather than a couple of weeks later,” he said. “I’m sorry, that trumps minute concerns about privacy.”

Indeed, some collective-intelligence researchers argue that strong concerns about privacy rights are a relatively recent phenomenon in human history.

“The new information tools symbolized by the Internet are radically changing the possibility of how we can organize large-scale human efforts,” said Thomas W. Malone, director of the M.I.T. Center for Collective Intelligence.

“For most of human history, people have lived in small tribes where everything they did was known by everyone they knew,” Dr. Malone said. “In some sense we’re becoming a global village. Privacy may turn out to have become an anomaly.”
Savor that for a moment. Consider what is being said here. Think of the implications. Then go and read the rest of the article in light of what's saved for last.

Minarets vs. Churches

So the Dar al Islam did not like the Swiss minaret ban--but they have no problem with what's going on in their own backyard:
While Muslim leaders criticized the Nov. 29 vote in Switzerland that banned construction of minarets, they don’t support Christians who want to build churches in some Islamic countries. Restrictions in Egypt have exacerbated sectarian violence and discrimination, say Copts, a 2,000-year-old denomination that comprises about 10 percent of the population.

The day after the Swiss vote, Ali Gomaa, one of Egypt’s top Muslim clerics, called the decision “an attempt to insult the feelings of the Muslim community in and outside of Switzerland.”

Copts quickly said that neither Gomaa nor any other Islamic leader mentioned the Christian situation in Egypt.

“Without the merest attempt to put our house in order, are we in any position to taunt others to put theirs?” Youssef Sidhom, editor-in-chief of the Cairo-based Egyptian Coptic weekly newspaper El-Watani, said in a telephone interview. “They should be ashamed.”

The contrast between criticism of the Swiss and silence about local parallels isn’t limited to Egypt. Censure of Switzerland, where about 5 percent of the population is Muslim, was widespread in Islamic countries where Christians face restrictions on practicing their faith.
Read the whole thing. The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) is mentioned in the piece. This is the same organization that sponsored the "Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam" as a counter-declaration to the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Cairo Declaration sounds fairly compatible with universal norms of human rights based solely in natural law and those principles accessible through philosophical reflection--that is, the exercise of human reason without any necessary reference to faith--until one hits the last two articles of the Cairo Declaration:
Article 24 All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Shari'ah.

Article 25 The Islamic Shari'ah is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification to any of the articles of this Declaration.
In other words, according to the body which represents all the Islamic countries, Islam recognizes no human rights except what is conferred by Islamic religious law. Where, pray tell, does that leave religious freedom? And who among us infidels knows which rights Islam is willing to grant us?

The (Iranian) Smoking Gun?

Perhaps clarity as to Iranian nuclear intentions has finally been achieved...
The notes, from Iran’s most sensitive military nuclear project, describe a four-year plan to test a neutron initiator, the component of a nuclear bomb that triggers an explosion. Foreign intelligence agencies date them to early 2007, four years after Iran was thought to have suspended its weapons programme.

An Asian intelligence source last week confirmed to The Times that his country also believed that weapons work was being carried out as recently as 2007 — specifically, work on a neutron initiator.

The technical document describes the use of a neutron source, uranium deuteride, which independent experts confirm has no possible civilian or military use other than in a nuclear weapon. Uranium deuteride is the material used in Pakistan’s bomb, from where Iran obtained its blueprint.
What happens if they get their hands on a working nuclear weapon? A lot depends on whether the country's leadership truly believes they are on the cusp of the end of the world or not.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fight Club and Manalive...

I am going to hold a pistol to the head of the Modern Man. But I shall not use it to kill him–only to bring him to life.”
As the frightened clerk flees, Tyler Durden (played by Brad Pitt) remarks: “Tomorrow will be the most beautiful day of Raymond K. Hessel’s life. His breakfast will taste better than any meal you and I have ever tasted.” The second work of fiction is Manalive, written in 1912 by G.K. Chesterton. Accused of murder, an eccentric named Innocent Smith is charged with repeated attempts of murder. The first of these attempts is of a pessimistic professor, Dr. Eames, who in a discussion with Smith likens the sorry state of life to a puppy that should be put down. Even though he struggles, says Dr. Eames, the act of killing the beast would be an act of mercy. “Dr. Eames had turned his tired but still talkative head over his shoulder, and had found himself looking into a small round black hole, rimmed by a six-sided circlet of steel, with a sort of spike standing up on the top. It fixed him like an iron eye. Through those eternal instants during which the reason is stunned he did not even know what it was. Then he saw behind it the chambered barrel and cocked hammer of a revolver, and behind that the flushed and rather heavy face of Smith, apparently quite unchanged, or even more mild than before. `I’ll help you out of your hole, old man,’ said Smith, with rough tenderness. `I’ll put the puppy out of his pain.’”
This modern age stands badly in need of such a "shot" to the system--as Alfred Delp knew.

A Little Piece of Glory

From Mark Shea, with bits borrowed from Pius IX, John Paul II, and all thanks to the BVM (fourth office on the right in the hallways of Heaven).  Excerpts follow:
...by Mary’s creaturely humility and God’s subsequent exaltation of her through the grace of Christ, she gives the lie to every proposition upon which the Philosophies of Pride were founded and reminds us again that salvation is found not by saying with Shelley’s hero Satan "Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven" but by saying "Let it be unto me according to your word."

Because Mary is the icon of the Church and highest of God’s creatures (yet not herself divine), she gives the lie, in her very person, to the Philosophies of Pride and their promise of liberation through rebellion by showing that
  • The human person is in the image of God.
  • The human person comes from God and is made for union with God.
  • The depth of Christ’s power to save from sin is most fully displayed in Mary, so we may know He holds that same power to save us, no matter how grave our sin.
  • The human person is the product of fathomless divine love.
  • Sin, though real, is neither the foundational nor the final truth about Man. Jesus Christ is.
  • The human person is defined by Love, not enmity.
  • The human person is called to love God and neighbor.
  • The human person is a reflection of the reason, order, and love of God Himself.
  • The human person finds his life in losing it and receiving the love of God.
  • The human person only becomes more human through love, mercy, and humility.
  • The human person grows in love by caring for the "least of these" since they are precious to Christ, Who humbled Himself to be born in a stable.
  • The human person should seek self-donating love here on earth and a reward in heaven, because this life is not all there is.
  • It is humble for us to think of ourselves "made in God’s image" because that is what we are. The place for humility is when we recognize our need of grace.
  • Since God is the Lord of nature, we are merely stewards of creation. We find ourselves, not by worshiping nature or ourselves, but by worshiping God Who made and redeemed us through Jesus Christ.
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.
Mary contains within her person the fullness of the Christian response to God's grace--the model and exemplar of all Christian life.

"Buddhist extremists brutally attack Catholic church in Sri Lanka"

Prayer needed for everyone involved:
More than 1,000 Buddhist extremists armed with clubs, swords and stones ferociously attacked a Catholic church in the town of Crooswatta, Sri Lanka on December 6, destroying the altar, statues and pews.

L’Osservatore Romano reported that Father Jude Denzil Lakshman, pastor of Our Lady of the Mystical Rose, said “I still can hear their shouts in my ears, ‘Cut him to pieces, kill him’.”

The attack took place after the 7 p.m., Sunday Mass, leaving several parishioners wounded. “It is obvious that the attack was well-planned and that the mob waited for us to come out after Mass,” Father Lakshman said.

One parishioner told the Archdiocese of Colombo that as the congregation was leaving the evening Mass, they saw a mob coming towards them.

The parishioner added that the mob “set fire to Fr. Lakshman's car and then someone attempted to strike him with a sword,” but a young man heroically pulled him away.

The extremists “then damaged all other motor bikes, ordinary cycles of the poor people including a three-wheeler. Some persons armed with swords and batons went on beating the people. There are six Catholics in the hospital with cuts and injuries."
Mark Shea has a lovely snark about how this would fit a post-colonialist narrative.

The Tide Is Truly Turning

Not necessarily, pace David Hartline, towards Catholicism, but at the very least turning on some fundamental issues in fascinating ways. Take, for instance, the recent action on the ecumenical front:
Archbishop Hilarion, who is president of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for External Church Relations, took a combative tone in his text. He denounced the "militant secularism" adopted by an increasingly united Europe, warned that religion was being closed off in the "ghetto" of private devotion, and urged Christians to confront their governments on issues like abortion, euthanasia and same-sex marriage -- even to the point of civil disobedience.

Archbishop Hilarion's proposal came as 140 Christian leaders in the United States met in New York and issued the "Manhattan Declaration" pledging renewed zeal in defending the unborn, defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and protecting religious freedom. The Manhattan Declaration, too, urged non-compliance and perhaps even civil disobedience when Christians are asked to participate in acts like abortion, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia.
The Orthodox are coming closer to Rome than has been considered possible for centuries, as is recounted by Jeremy Lott, among others:
TAKE THAT OTHER great flashpoint of Benedict's papacy, the speech delivered at his old college, the University of Regensburg, on September 12, 2006. The line that set the world on fire was Benedict's quotation of Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus...We cannot know all the reasons why Benedict chose to quote that particular authority, but it is consistent with his view of a faith that is beset by constant threats, secular and religious. And it sure didn't hurt Vatican relations with Orthodox churches, which had been icy in the past. When John Paul II tried to visit Moscow, the Russian Orthodox Church vetoed it. In October, the same month as the Anglican overture, the AP reported that Benedict may soon meet with the Russian patriarch, and that a papal visit to Moscow in the next few years is likely. Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said, "We have overcome all the tensions in recent years." Not "some tensions"-- all of them.
One must also take into consideration the meetings between Archbishop Hilarion (or Ilarion, as some accounts have it) and Rome. All in all, though taking Lott's piece with a grain of salt, I think Benedict has a good chance of seriously being the second pope in Don Bosco's story:
On the whole surface of the sea you see an infinity of ships, all ending in a beak of sharp iron that pierces whatever it hits. Some of these ships have arms, cannons, guns; others have books and incendiary materials. All of them are thronging after a ship that is considerably bigger, trying to ram it, set fire to it, and do it every possible sort of damage. Imagine that in the middle of the sea you also see two very tall columns. On one is the statue of the Blessed Virgin Immaculate, with the inscription underneath: “Help of Christians.” On the other one, which is even bigger and taller, there is a Host of proportionately large size in relation to the column, and under it the words: “Salvation of believers.” From the base of the column hang many chains with anchors to which ships can be attached. The biggest ship is captained by the Pope, and all his efforts are bent to steer it in between those two columns. But, as I said, the other barks try in every way to block it and destroy it, some with arms, with the beaks of their prows, with fire from books and journals. But all their weapons are in vain. Every weapon and substance splinters and sinks. Now and then the cannons make a deep hole somewhere in the ship’s sides. But a breeze blowing from the two columns is enough to heal every wound and close up the holes. The ship again continues on its way. On the way the Pope falls once, then rises again, falls a second time and dies. As soon as he is dead, another immediately replaces him. He guides the ship to the two columns. Once there he attaches the ship with one anchor to the column with the consecrated Host, with another anchor to the column with the Immaculate Conception. Then total disorder breaks out over the whole surface of the sea. All the ships that so far had been battling the Pope’s ship scatter, flee, and collide with one another, some foundering and trying to sink the others. Those at a distance keep prudently back until the remains of all the demolished ships have sunk into the depths of the sea, and then they vigorously make their way to the side of the bigger ship. Having joined it, they too attach themselves to the anchors hanging from the two columns and remain there in perfect calm.
I do not claim this absolutely--I'd have no chance of proving anything. But there are interesting indications. John Paul II was shot in 1981, but rose again to lead the Church directly towards the pillars of Mary and the Eucharist till he was felled by long illness. The conclave electing Benedict was remarkably short, and Benedict in his pontificate has led on towards Mary and the Eucharist (liturgical reforms, the post-synodal document on the Eucharist). Further, we have progress on the ecumenical front as never before. The openness to the Anglicans, the moves of the Orthodox mentioned above, next year's synod with the Middle Eastern Orthodox patriarchs, the Manhattan Declaration, the new boldness of the USCCB...I think we have a candidate, ladies and gentlemen.

Speaking of Modern Aztecs

The Catholic Church is accused of putting dogma before human life and/or of killing millions by refusing to distribute contraception in Africa. Well, at least we don't endanger African women in the name of medical research:

A major trial of a vaginal microbicide has produced no evidence that its use reduces the risk of HIV infection in women.

The gel, PRO 2000, is intended for use before sexual intercourse to help reduce HIV infection.

It was tested in a trial involving 9,385 women in four African countries.

The risk of HIV infection was not significantly different among women supplied with the gel than in women given a placebo gel.

So...um. You handed a bunch of women something known to have no medical value--a placebo--and waited to see...what, exactly? Could this be compared to testing the relative value of Kevlar by giving half the trial participants the real thing and the other half feather pillows, then putting them into a live fire environment? As if that weren't enough, the article continues:
It was hoped microbicide gels would prove to be an effective way to limit the spread of HIV, as experts admit that condom promotion alone has not controlled the epidemic.
So. About that whole "Vatican kills people by not distributing condoms" thing.

Modern Aztecs and Child Sacrifice

Mark Shea has a wonderfully wise post on the climate summit and the popular solution--that is, less of the populace--for climate change.
Somehow, the conventional wisdom of the modern era, both left and right, always ends in our need to ignore the teaching of the Church and murder as many innocent people as we can before we drop our current panic and move on to a new urgent reason for ignoring the Church and murdering more innocents. Forty years ago, we needed to kill innocents in order to avert the population bomb and the inevitable global famines of the 80s that we all remember not happening. Then it was global cooling. More recently, we needed to rush into Iraq to stop the WMDs that weren't there. Now we are being stampeded toward a global one Child policy (I'll see our ruling classes in hell first). Once again, I'm reminded of the curses of Leviticus for those (like our culture) who forsake the covenant:
And as for those of you that are left, I will send faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; the sound of a driven leaf shall put them to flight, and they shall flee as one flees from the sword, and they shall fall when none pursues. 37 They shall stumble over one another, as if to escape a sword, though none pursues; and you shall have no power to stand before your enemies. 38 And you shall perish among the nations, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up. 39 And those of you that are left shall pine away in your enemies' lands because of their iniquity; and also because of the iniquities of their fathers they shall pine away like them. (Lev 26)
The whole thing is well worth your time. Honestly, the perennial face of deep evil is the exact same, if you have but eyes to see it--the perversion of the human sacrifice of Christ, a sacrifice willingly made for those he loved. The Aztecs slaughtered thousands upon thousands in order to make sure the sun came up again. A more perfect analogy for the modern urge to kill the surplus population in order to preserve a level of quality of life for the right sorts could not be found. Well, except a certain formerly successful German political party.

Interesting Thoughts on Fatherhood

From Dawn Eden:

Catholic author Anthony Esolen believes that if priests were to strengthen their preaching on fatherhood, men would better understand the privilege and responsibility of fatherhood – and would be more likely to hear the call to priesthood. Interviewed via e-mail, the Providence College professor who has spoken of the need for men to recover masculine virtue observes, “If we could understand that God is our Father, then all at once we understand, in healthier and head-clearing terms, what it means that He is the Lord of Hosts – the Lord of Armies, as none of my students seem to know – and that He establishes a Church militant, on the offensive, against which the gates of Hell shall not prevail.”

“Young men relish the battle,” Esolen adds. “They are those strange creatures who fail to clear the low bar, but raise it high, and challenge them with a stern and loving look, and they will clear it. They rise to meet bold challenges, and slump beneath the mediocre.”

I've been attending weddings recently, and repeatedly I have been struck by a (seemingly) obvious truth: boys are future fathers and girls are future mothers. This is what we grow into, all of us. Not everyone will have physical children, but all of us become the mentors, the parent-types, the care-givers for the younger humans in our lifetimes and beyond. We are all meant to be icons of charity in a fallen world. And yet this is the one thing that all of the growing up years are designed to obscure. You are the point. You are the main and rightful focus of your attention. There is very little emphasis on entering into a life of self-giving or sacrificial love. There is a strong emphasis on doing what is needed to secure your happiness. Funny thing--one achieves happiness by giving oneself away.

A Wondrous Advent Piece

By a Jesuit confined by the Nazis, shortly before he died:
There is perhaps nothing we modern people need more than to be genuinely shaken up. Where life is firm we need to sense its firmness; and where it is unstable and uncertain and has no basis, no foundation, we need to know this too and endure it...Many of the things that are happening today would never have happened if we had been living in that movement and disquiet of heart which results when we are faced with God, the Lord, and when we look clearly at things as they really are. If we had done this, God would have withheld his hand from many things that have stirred up and shaken and crushed our lives. We would have seen the inner authorities, we would have seen and judged the limits of our own competence. But we have stood on this earth in false pathos, in false security; in our spiritual insanity we really believed we could, with the power of our own hand and arm, bring the stars down from heaven and kindle flames of eternity in the world. We believed that with our own forces we could avert the dangers and banish night, switch off and halt the internal quaking of the universe. We believed we could harness everything and fit it into a final order that would stand. Here is the message of Advent: faced with him who is the Last, the world will begin to shake...
Read the whole thing. Interesting side note: St. Maximilian Kolbe summarized his theology of Mary's relationship with the Holy Spirit in a quick note written just before the Nazis came and got him as well. The full sketch can be found in this book.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Why the Catholic Church Forbids Nuclear War

This is amazing. If you go read the whole thing, be warned--it's not for the weak stomach or the faint heart.
Major "Chuck" Sweeney had an extremely risky takeoff before dawn, loaded as he was with the 4.5-ton A-bomb, "Fat Man". Now they were over their primary target, Kokura. He had made three runs over the hopelessly clouded city when he made a shocking discovery: the auxiliary gasoline pipe was blocked. Unless they dropped the bomb soon, they would never get home. He turned his plane southwest for the secondary target, "Nagasaki, urban area". His B-29 was over Shimabara just before 11 A.M. A radio announcer saw this and excitedly broadcast a warning, and Nagasaki people who heard him ran for their shelters. Moments later, Sweeney and his crew saw Nagasaki right below them through a cloud break, immediately recognizing the Urakami River and the Matsuyama Sports Ground. That put them almost two miles northwest of the planned drop, but time had run out. Bombardier Kermit released the bomb. It was just 11 A.M. when Fat Man went plummeting down onto the city of two hundred thousand souls, of whom more than seventy thousand would die, many without a trace. Inside the Urakami Cathedral, Fathers Nishida and Tamaya were hearing confessions again after the all-clear. The cathedral was only a third of a mile from where Fat Man detonated and was reduced to rubble in an instant. No one would be sure how many perished inside. Less than two miles away from the cathedral, Chimoto-san was working on his rice paddy on Mount Kawabira. He heard a noise, looked up and saw a B-29 emerging from the clouds. It disgorged a huge black bomb, and he threw himself to the ground. He waited a minute. Then came an awful penetrating brightness, followed by eerie stillness. He looked up and gasped at the huge pillar of smoke, swelling grotesquely as it rose. Suddenly he realized that a hurricane was rushing toward him. Houses, buildings, trees were being cut down before his startled eyes as if by some enormous, invisible bulldozer. Then came a deafening roar, and he was hurled like a matchbox into the stone wall sixteen feet behind. Shaken to his very soul, he gaped at the pines, chestnuts and camphor laurels torn from the ground or broken off at the trunks. Even the grass was gone!...

Catholic Work Ethic

The Protestant work ethic idea may have bit the dust...
...it’s worth ploughing through as much of Cantoni’s paper as you can understand, because so many common preconceptions about thrifty Protestants and bone-idle Catholics bite the dust. He sets out to test the hypothesis that the ethos of Protestantism (whether purely doctrinal or based on distinctive commercial practices) gave an economic advantage to certain German cities. And the hypothesis flunks his test because, even when Protestant cities perform better than Catholic ones, there is a better “fit” with other variables. More important, on the whole Catholic cities developed just as successfully as their Protestant equivalents. Catholic and Protestant cities, though different in many respects, both became economically dynamic over the centuries – thanks, mostly, to the benefits associated with the emergence of the modern nation state, something that post-Counter Reformation Catholic rulers nurtured alongside their Protestant opposite numbers.

Another cool blog

So if you're ever in need of reasons why Catholicism is cool--check this out.
Although the mystics are often submerged in a sea of pain, as willed by God, they are also at the same time full of love, joy and happiness, ravished by the love of God, in a joyful union with Jesus and His Mother. And so we have for example the remarkable Saint Gemma Galgani saying to Jesus in a ecstasy of love- "Jesus possesses my heart, and being in possession of Jesus I find that I can smile, even in the midst of so many tears. I feel, yes, I feel that I am happy even in the midst of so many sufferings." Because of their unique participation in the Passion, and consequently their special union with Jesus, the mystics of the Church are known for their extraordinary expressions of love for God and souls. Often, these accents of love that dart forth from their hearts all on fire for the love of God are captured in their diaries and letters, or in many cases, in their words of love that escape from their lips while in ecstasy, and are carefully noted by those nearby. Such expressions of love are truly a treasure that inspires and inflames the heart of those of us who read them. The expressions of love and devotion that we have from the mystics coupled with the example of their lives of heroic sacrifice, suffering and virtue, form a treasure of the most exquisite spiritual gems and pearls, unique to each mystic, of which we hope to offer on this website.
Gloriousness. A good dose of miracles and awesomeness to help alleviate the flatness of modernity.

Irish Clerical Culture Problematic?

An interesting partial explanation for the crisis of authority and Christianity which produced the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church:
[American Catholic]'s account emphasizes the extent to which the modern Irish Church — which, because of the extraordinary influence of Irish clergy in this country, is in many respects the American Church as well — was the invention of a small group of strong-willed Victorian clerics, led by Dublin’s Cardinal Paul Cullen. Pre-Cullen, Irish Catholicism was “one of the most ragtag national churches in Europe,” Morris writes; post-Cullen, it was one of the most unified, rigorous, enthusiastic and militant branches of Catholicism in the world.

At the same time, it was one of the most hierarchical and clericalist, with priests and bishops who were invested with nearly-unchallengeable authority, and who became accustomed to extraordinary deference from civil authorities. And on sexual matters, it was a far more puritanical Catholicism than, say, the Mediterranean or Latin American varieties, or for that matter than the Gaelic Catholicism it had superseded.**

This combination was the source of enormous strength for a very long time, especially in the New World. A Cullen-esque Catholicism was ideally suited to the task of building a thriving immigrant church in a hostile Protestant society. The remarkable prestige, power and cultural cachet of mid-20th century American Catholicism almost certainly wouldn’t have been possible without the extraordinary exertions and self-sacrifice that the Irish Church inspired from priests and laity alike — and without its hierarchy’s ability to be power brokers and politicians as well as shepherds, and to bend the civil authorities, when necessary, to their will.

But you can see how it could all go bad — how a culture so intense clerical, so politically high-handed, and so embarrassed (beyond the requirements of Christian doctrine) by human sexuality could magnify the horror of priestly pedophilia, and expand the pool of victims, by producing bishops inclined to strong-arm the problem out of public sight instead of dealing with it as Christian leaders should...
Again, this can only contribute partially to the full explanation of a clerical culture which failed so dramatically to place principle over priestly protection, but it may provide some beginnings of an explanation. A persecuted people tends to protect its leaders and close ranks against any allegations of wrong-doing from outsiders, even if everyone knows old Harry has a few problems. But this went far beyond anything anyone can begin to justify.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

"A Crown of Twelve Stars"

I suspected there was a connection between the EU's flag and the crown of twelve stars encircling Our Lady's head in Revelation 12. Now I have evidence:
Arsène Heitz, the flag’s designer, acknowledged in a 2008 interview that he derived the design of a circle of 12 golden stars from the Book of Revelation. As Heitz was considering a design to submit for the EU, he was reading the history of the Blessed Virgin’s apparitions in Paris’ Rue du Bac, known today as the Virgin of the Miraculous Medal. In fact, he belonged to the Order of the Miraculous Medal, which would explain his intimate acquaintanceship with the symbol. Thus the symbol recognised worldwide as to the European Union and of Europe in general even by atheists, secularists and Muslims, is a symbol of the Immaculate Conception herself. It warms the cockles of an old Catholic’s heart.

European atheists running around in the streets waving the European Union flag over their heads have no idea, or choose to ignore, the true meaning behind the EU’s symbol. And, they are apparently stuck with it as the design isn’t going to change as long as the European Union exists. In celebration of the adoption of the symbol the Council of Europe commissioned and installed a magnificent stained-glass window in Strasbourg Cathedral which depicts the Blessed Virgin Mother standing beneath an oversized circle of 12 stars on deep blue field. In addition, the European flag was adopted by the then European Economic Community on December 8 1955, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Coincidence? I think not.
Great! Now we wait and pray eagerly for the day when they'll go the whole way and place her head on the flag in the midst of the stars--right where it should be.


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