Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"Seemed to Be Collaborators"

...[W]e found ourselves in 1935 with the Communists picketing the German consulate at the Battery.

It was not the first time we seemed to be collaborators...I felt then, and do now, that the fact that the Communists made issue of Negro exploitation and labor trouble was no reason why we should stay out of the situation. "The truth is the truth," writes St. Thomas, "and proceeds from the Holy Ghost, no matter from whose lips it comes."--Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness, pg. 206

Copts, Persecution, and the Egyptian Revolution

Hm.  Egypt begins to look like France in the late 1700s.  Excerpts:
Twelve Christian were murdered in Egypt. Two hundred and thirty-two people wounded. The death toll will surely rise as victims succumb to their injuries. And that's just in the past few days. In the same time period, more Christians were killed in Egypt at the hands of Muslims than people killed in Syria or in Libya as a result of protests, riots and resistance.

Two churches in Cairo were burned in recent days. Over the past few months church property has being gutted, vandalised and violated with graffiti. Churches have been blown up.

An entire community - the Christian community in the new Egypt - is under attack. And the world remains relatively silent. There has been no significant religious outcry, political redress or diplomatic pressure to stop the attacks. There has been almost no media coverage as Egypt's Muslims systematically, over the past few months, set about massacring Egypt's Christians...

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Face of Christ

[Jesus] had set us an example and the poor and destitute were the ones we wished to reach.  The poor were the ones who had jobs of a sort, organized or unorganized, and those who were unemployed or on work-relief projects.  The destitute were the men and women who came to us in the breadlines and we could do little with them but give what we had of food and clothing.  Sin, sickness and death accounted for much of human misery.  But aside from this, we did not feel that Christ meant we should remain silent in the face of injustice and accept it even though He said, "The poor ye shall always have with you."--Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness, pg. 205.

For Fantasy Fans

a reader request leads to an interesting list in the comboxes over at Mark Shea's place.

Holy Fricking Yeah!

aka the trailer for Harry Potter 7.2:

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Jesus and Peace

[Jesus] died between two thieves because He would not be made an earthly King.  He lived in an occupied country for thirty years without starting an underground movement or trying to get out from under a foreign power.  His teaching transcended all the wisdom of the scribes and pharisees, and taught us the most effective means of living in this world while preparing for the next.  And He directed His sublime words to the poorest of the poor, to the people who thronged the towns and followed after John the Baptist, who hung around, sick and poverty-stricken at the doors of rich men.--Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness, 205.

Putin to Medvedev: Exit, Stage Right

Heh.  Always predicted, yet the growing divide between the two promises some interesting news ahead.  Excerpts:
RUSSIAN Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has decided to run for the presidency next year, raising the possibility of a power struggle with his protege Dmitry Medvedev, the incumbent Kremlin leader, say highly placed sources.

The once-close relationship between Mr Putin, the tough-talking former KGB officer who has inspired a personality cult, and Mr Medvedev, a softly spoken Twitter enthusiast, has become increasingly fractious amid speculation in Moscow that the younger man wishes to stand again.

Insiders familiar with both leaders said Mr Putin, who served eight years as president before becoming Prime Minister three years ago, had begun to lose confidence in Mr Medvedev's loyalty.

Under the constitution, Mr Putin's move to reclaim the presidency could see him rule for two consecutive six-year terms until 2024, when he will be 72. If so, he would have served as prime minister or president for 24 years in all...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

"Their Faith Confirmed," Not Deconstructed

...Many college students and graduates came to live with us and to help us.  It was usually the war or marriage which caused them to leave, or other opportunities for interesting work.  But they always left with what they called their positions, their basic principles, firmly fixed in their minds, their faith confirmed, their lives in a way integrated.--Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness, pg. 202


and the Cross is why.  Excerpts:
...I never understood the "liberation" part of Communion and Liberation. Bacich clarified it for me and everyone else when he said: "True religiosity is the only escape from EVERY form of power, even clerical power. Our charism says that what matters is to live according to the heart. Christ gives us a clarity and the energy to live according to the heart and this is living a new life, a life in freedom."

Friday, May 27, 2011

Dorothy Day on Ritual

Ritual, how could we do without it! Though it may seem to be gibberish and irreverence, though the Mass is offered up in such haste that the sacred sentence, ‘hoc est corpus meum’ was abbreviated into ‘hocus-pocus’ by the bitter protestor and has come down into our language meaning trickery, nevertheless there is a sureness and a conviction there. And just as the husband may embrace his wife casually as he leaves for work in the morning, and kiss her absent-mindedly in his comings and goings, still that kiss on occasion turns to rapture, a burning fire of tenderness and love. And with this to stay her she demands the ‘ritual’ of affection shown. The little altar boy kissing the cruet of water as he hands it to the priest is performing a rite. We have too little ritual in our lives.--Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness, pg. 199-200

The Strength of Europe

and the wisdom of China.  Excerpts:
...M. Shu desired for China a complete rejuvenation, and he desired that in every sphere, the country should emerge from the condition of stagnation in which the best ancestral traditions, deformed and become sterile, were leading to a result diametrically opposed to the spirit which had given them birth and which had enabled them in the past to give us our finest epochs of richness and splendor.

He wanted a modernization which should cause the spirit of Yao, of Choen and of Yu, to live again in the world of today. He studied Europe, seeking to grasp the principle of its best institutions, the source of its progress, seeking to discover, in order to win them and to give them to China, the moral forces which assured the balance of European society, and to distinguish them sharply from the forces, from the passions and infatuations, which compromised that balance.

Christianity, the Church, and in particular the Catholic Church, imposed themselves on the respectful attention of M. Shu. He had been struck by the existence of a world-wide spiritual government, of which the history went back right to the Founder of the Christian Religion. So as to study this fact more closely, in the course of a journey which took him to Europe, he had stopped in Rome and had there spent the Christmas holidays.

...M. Shu went on,

The strength of Europe is not to be found in her armaments; it is not to be found in her science; it is to be found in her religion. In the course of your diplomatic career you will have occasion to study the Christian religion. It comprehends various branches and societies.

Take the most ancient branch of that religion, that which goes back most nearly to its origins. Enter into it. Study its doctrine, practice its commandments, observe its government, closely follow all its works. And later on, when you have ended your career, perhaps you will have the opportunity to go still farther.

In this most ancient branch, choose the most ancient society. If you can do so, enter into it also. Make yourself a follower, and study the interior life which must be the secret of it. When you have understood and won the secret of that life, when you have grasped the heart of the strength of the religion of Christ, bring them and give them to China...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Christ Jesus in the World

...We felt a respect for the poor and destitute as those nearest to God, as those chosen by Christ for His compassion.  Christ lived among men.  The great mystery of the Incarnation, which meant that God became man that man might become God, was a joy that made us want to kiss the earth in worship, because His feet once trod that same earth.  It was a mystery that we as Catholics accepted, but there were also the facts of Christ's life, that He was born in a stable, that He did not come to be a temporal king, that He worked with His hands, spent the first years of His life in exile, and the rest of His early manhood in a crude carpenter shop in Nazareth.  He fulfilled His religious duties in the synagogue and the temple.  He trod the roads in His public life and the first men He called were fishermen, small owners of boats and nets.  He was familiar with the migrant worker and the proletariat, and some of his parables dealt with them.  He spoke of the living wage, not equal pay for equal work, in the parable of those who came at the first and the eleventh hour.--Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness, pg. 200-201.

Bearing Christ and Lighting Candles

Coolness abounding.  Excerpts:
...The name The Christophers, he admits, is sometimes confusing to people, "I've encountered those who think The Christophers are a religious order like the Franciscans or a family like the Flintstones. We're neither. Everybody has the potential to be a Christopher because the word in Greek means 'Christ-bearer.' A ['Christopher' is] anyone who takes the principles and truths that Jesus shared in the gospels, and lives them in their home, workplace, church, the community and so forth.

Founded in 1945 by Maryknoll priest, Father James Keller, The Christophers was meant to "call people to a greater awareness of their power and responsibility to be Christ-bearers in our society," says Rossi. "Father Keller had read a study that said most of the world's problems were caused by 1 percent of the people. He theorized that if you could get another 1 percent to be a force for good and who would let the light of Christ shine through them, it would produce a dramatic change in the world. Father Keller also believed that message crossed denominational boundaries and might even appeal to non-Christians who shared similar values. Based on response to his work, he was right on both counts."

Aware that many people complain about the state of society, but relatively few actually trying to do something about it, Keller chose as the organization's motto the old Chinese proverb, It's better to light one candle than to curse the darkness. "Keller knew that complaining alone doesn't change anything. We needed to be more like modern day apostles who put our faith into action. The best way of spreading that message was through media..."

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

On The Catholic Worker and Communism

Certainly we disagree with the Communist Party, as we disagree with other political parties who are trying to maintain the American way of life.--Dorothy Day

Pirates and Powers

from Greydanus's pen.  Excerpts:
Was Catholic novelist Tim Powers’ 1987 historical fantasy-adventure novel On Stranger Tides in some way the inspiration, or an inspiration, not only for this fourth Pirates of the Caribbean flick, but for the whole Pirates franchise?

Powers’ fans noted striking connections eight years ago, when The Curse of the Black Pearl made its debut: Like the novel, there were sailors’ tales about a dreaded pirate ship crewed by the undead and glimpsed only at night and an impoverished hero forced to turn pirate in order to save a heroine — named Elizabeth — who has been kidnapped by pirates. Powers’ novel even featured a boozy hero named Captain Jack S. (not Sparrow, but a different two-syllable name, Shandy) who gets drunk on the beach — though Johnny Depp’s character is entirely his own creation. (Wikipedia articles suggest further entanglements.)

While Disney certainly wouldn’t acknowledge any influence on the series from the outset, they did option Powers’ book a number of years ago for a possible sequel — and now here is Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, with the cagey credit line: “Suggested by the novel by Tim Powers.” Powers fans, take note of that modest verb. The filmmakers have borrowed the title and a few key concepts, like a voodoo-wielding Blackbeard and the Fountain of Youth, but On Stranger Tides is a Pirates of the Caribbean sequel, no more, no less. Especially no more...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"The Answer is Community"

We have all known the long loneliness, and we have found that the answer is community.--Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness

Goldman Sachs and the Financial Crisis

Interesting argument.  Excerpts:
...Thanks to an extraordinary investigative effort by a Senate subcommittee that unilaterally decided to take up the burden the criminal justice system has repeatedly refused to shoulder, we now know exactly what Goldman Sachs executives like Lloyd Blankfein and Daniel Sparks lied about. We know exactly how they and other top Goldman executives, including David Viniar and Thomas Montag, defrauded their clients. America has been waiting for a case to bring against Wall Street. Here it is, and the evidence has been gift-wrapped and left at the doorstep of federal prosecutors, evidence that doesn't leave much doubt: Goldman Sachs should stand trial...

The great and powerful Oz of Wall Street was not the only target of Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse, the 650-page report just released by the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Democrat Carl Levin of Michigan, alongside Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Their unusually scathing bipartisan report also includes case studies of Washington Mutual and Deutsche Bank, providing a panoramic portrait of a bubble era that produced the most destructive crime spree in our history — "a million fraud cases a year" is how one former regulator puts it. But the mountain of evidence collected against Goldman by Levin's small, 15-desk office of investigators — details of gross, baldfaced fraud delivered up in such quantities as to almost serve as a kind of sarcastic challenge to the curiously impassive Justice Department — stands as the most important symbol of Wall Street's aristocratic impunity and prosecutorial immunity produced since the crash of 2008...
WALL STREET AND THE FINANCIAL CRISIS: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse

Monday, May 23, 2011

Newsflash: Kenobi Dead, Says Vader

Wow.  So they actually got him.  Excerpts:
Obi-Wan Kenobi, the mastermind of some of the most devastating attacks on the Galactic Empire and the most hunted man in the galaxy, was killed in a firefight with Imperial forces near Alderaan, Darth Vader announced on Sunday. In a late-night appearance in the East Room of the Imperial Palace, Lord Vader declared that “justice has been done” as he disclosed that agents of the Imperial Army and stormtroopers of the 501st Legion had finally cornered Kenobi, one of the leaders of the Jedi rebellion, who had eluded the Empire for nearly two decades. Imperial officials said Kenobi resisted and was cut down by Lord Vader's own lightsaber. He was later dumped out of an airlock...
The comments are most...illuminating.

And the Empire has released video footage!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Great Japanese (Catholic) Novelist

A good overview.  Excerpts:
The Japanese novelist Shusaku Endo – described by Graham Greene as one of the century's greatest writers – was always wrestling with the relation between Christianity and Japan. In an interview, he said:

"But after all it seems to me that Catholicism is not a solo, but a symphony. It fits, of course, man's sinless side, but unless a religion can find a place for man's sinful side in the ensemble, it is a false religion. If I have trust in Catholicism, it is because I find in it much more possibility than in any other religion for presenting the full symphony of humanity. The other religions have almost no fullness; they have but solo parts. Only Catholicism can present the full symphony. And unless there is in that symphony a part that corresponds to Japan's mud swamp, it cannot be a true religion. What exactly this part is – that is what I want to find out" (cited in Emi Mase-Hasegawa, Christ in Japanese Culture: Theological Themes in Shusaku Endo's Literary Works, 72)...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Is Hawking Right on No-Heaven?

Mark Shea, take it away!  Excerpts:
...Now here’s the deal, kidz. When the subject is physics, Hawking is your man. He has forgotten more physics than most of us will ever know. But, if the subject is, say, how to costume the cast of “The Wiz,” or which sort of pipe to use to re-plumb your house, or how to deal with that drunken, swiving man of yours, or hot air ballooning, or, dare I say it, whether or not Heaven exists, Hawking has no more competence to speak than the veriest lush at the local bar (and sometimes even less if the lush happens to have training and experience in theatre costume design, plumbing, family therapy, hot air ballooning or philosophy and theology).

Indeed, even within the scientific community, Hawking is an ignoramus outside his extremely specialized field of physics. When he starts gassing on about how the mind is nothing more than the epiphenomenon of a computer made out of meat he is giving you, not science, but his reductionist materialist faith. And it is a faith that has been running aground for years now on the simple fact that we are no closer to creating artificial intelligence with a computer than we were when the quest began. The problem is that the faith that mind is nothing more than a function of matter and energy keeps running into hard scientific reality which keep showing it is not. Some of the best brain researchers (some of them atheists) are, in fact, beginning to reluctantly turn to St. Thomas’ philosophy and to carry on conversation with Dominicans because, well, their philosophy leaves room for ideas and concepts that the crude materialist reductionism of a Hawking does not.

As to the rest of the tommyrot he spouts, I’ll let the inimitable Michael Flynn do the autopsy...
For more on the difference between the mathematical mind and the "intuitive" mind, see here.  For an answer to Hawking's metaphysical claims, see Father Spitzer.
Amd for evidence that heaven exists:

How to Treat The Poor: Addendum

Well, here's a good one.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Modern Economics

An interesting comment.  Excerpts:
CEO pay is 343 times that of employees.

What's fascinating about the time in which we live is that modern serfs are still, at present, willing to fight to the death so that their Lords can maintain this ridiculous inequity. To suggest, as Chesterton did, that the principal trouble with capitalism is that there are too few capitalists is to invite being shouted down as a socialist, Marxist or Commie not by the CEO, but by the people who are watching their savings vanish, their jobs disappear, and their buying power dwindle while presidents of failed corporations ditch the plane in a golden parachute. Ideology is the triumph of the All Explaining Theory of Everything over reality. The Commie wants the wealth and power concentrated in the hands of the State. The Capitalist wants it concentrated in the hands of the rich man. Chesterton thought wealth and power shouldn't be concentrated but part of the common good and that everybody should own a little property, run a little business and take care of his family. Naturally, he is vilified as a closet communist by the people who think Ayn Rand is a genius.
I really don't have many answers of any sort when it comes to economics, but the left and the right both hold positions which ring hollow after you test them for long enough. Is this the best we can do?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Concentration Camp Martyr

Never forget.  Excerpts:
Sixty-eight years after he died of starvation and disease at Dachau, early on this "Good Shepherd Sunday" brought the beatification of the German priest Georg Haefner, whose death at the hands of the Nazis was judged to be "in odium fidei" -- out of "hatred for the faith" -- and, thus, has seen his designation as a martyr.

One of nearly 500 German and Austrian clerics to be jailed, Hafner's reported offense was to preach against the rise of the Third Reich.

With this morning's rites, the new Blessed (1900-42) becomes the fourth member of the fold who perished in the concentration camps to be raised to the honors of the altar, following Saints Maximilian Kolbe and Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), and Blessed Franz Jagerstatter, the Austrian farmer who was executed for refusing to be conscripted into Hitler's army. (Another lasting light of the era was now-Blessed Cardinal Clemens August von Galen (1878-1946), the "Lion of Munster" whose preaching against the Nazis during the war exposed the regime's manifest evils.)...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Islamic Internal Reform?

An interesting article.  Excerpts:
...in announcing bin Laden's demise, the president fudged a vital fact. Echoing George W. Bush, he insisted that al Qaeda's icon "was not a Muslim leader."

But this is untrue. Bin Laden and his followers represent a real interpretation of Islam that begs to be challenged relentlessly and visibly. Why does this happen so rarely?

"Moderate" Muslims are part of the problem. As Martin Luther King Jr. taught many white Americans, in times of moral crisis, moderation cements the status quo. Today, what Islam needs is not more "moderates" but more self-conscious "reformists." It is reformists who will bring to my faith the debate, dissent and reinterpretation that have carried Judaism and Christianity into the modern world...

...what takes place among Muslims affects countless lives outside the fold, so our business is everyone's business. When it is "moderates," not extremists, who treat you as a traitor for advocating liberal democratic values, something has corrupted the moderates themselves.

That something is identity politics. Even in the seemingly tolerant Muslim communities of America, the politics of identity stands in the way of reinterpretation and reform...

...you do not have to be murderous to be an obstacle to reform. I will never forget the Muslim man in New Jersey who flaunted his moderate credentials by leading an interfaith dialogue group, yet who, behind closed doors, revealed a purist's insularity. On the letterhead of his interfaith initiative, he presented me with a list of phrases and paragraphs to be banned from my 2004 book, "The Trouble with Islam Today."

"You want my publishers to edit out these thoughts?" I asked, incredulously.

"Oh, yes," he confirmed. "Otherwise, you're like a fascist..."


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