Friday, April 29, 2011

I Enjoy Ayn Rand's Novels

but her philosophy, while getting right the absolute importance of the truth, doesn't actually know what is truth.  Or human nature.  Or charity.  Or, it would seem, the consequences of a world where her philosophy wins.  But anyway--Mark Shea does some lovely commentary on her, Rush Limbaugh, and the ways of much of the modern right.  Excerpts:
... Rush Limbaugh is a big fan of Ayn Rand. That would be the Ayn Rand who says:
There is a great, basic contradiction in the teachings of Jesus. Jesus was one of the first great teachers to proclaim the basic principle of individualism -- the inviolate sanctity of man's soul, and the salvation of one's soul as one's first concern and highest goal; this means -- one's ego and the integrity of one's ego. But when it came to the next question, a code of ethics to observe for the salvation of one's soul -- (this means: what must one do in actual practice in order to save one's soul?) -- Jesus (or perhaps His interpreters) gave men a code of altruism, that is, a code which told them that in order to save one's soul, one must love or help or live for others. This means, the subordination of one's soul (or ego) to the wishes, desires or needs of others, which means the subordination of one's soul to the souls of others.

This is a contradiction that cannot be resolved. This is why men have never succeeded in applying Christianity in practice, while they have preached it in theory for two thousand years. The reason of their failure was not men's natural depravity or hypocrisy, which is the superficial (and vicious) explanation usually given. The reason is that a contradiction cannot be made to work. That is why the history of Christianity has been a continuous civil war -- both literally (between sects and nations), and spiritually (within each man's soul).
It's that Ayn Rand who saw abortion as an absolute right more fanatically than Obama does.

It's that Ayn Rand who said, "I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Tribute to Polish Catholics

and their manifold contributions to Western Civilization in this week leading up to John Paul II's beatification (and there was much rejoicing!).  Excerpts:
...One thinks naturally and recently of Papa Wojtyła, prevailing against the obvious inhumanity of the Marxist-Russian Empire and taking a more Quixotic stand against the less-noticeable dehumanizing forces loose within the West itself. There is also the figure of King Jan Sobieski, whose Polish cavalry undertook the largest mounted charge in human history at the Battle of Vienna in 1683, thereby relieving the besieged Austrian capital and routing the Turkish besiegers, who left behind several hundred tons of coffee beans in their hasty retreat. Thus in a single day King Jan stopped the Islamic crescent from penetrating to the heart of Christendom AND paved the way for the invention of cappuccino. Dżękuje, Jan.

It is in gratitude for Poland’s great contributions to Christian civilization that we here at Catholic Phoenix are observing Easter Monday in the Polish fashion: by celebrating Dyngus Day, also known as Lany poniedzialek, or “Wet Monday” for reasons that will become clear shortly.

Yes, it’s pronounced like “dingus,” except spelled with a Y. We are not making this up...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How To Treat the Poor

According to a few experts.  Excerpts follow:
...Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
...Perhaps Vernon [the beggar] is an angel in disguise. St. Francis of Assisi, even before his conversion, handled beggars like this,

He was not one of those typical society men who hardly have a penny to give a beggar, but willingly spend their hundreds on a champagne feast. His way of thinking was the following: "If I am generous, yes, even extravagant with my friends who at the best only say 'thanks' to me for them, or repay me with another invitation, how much greater grounds have I for alms giving which God himself has promised to repay a hundredfold?" 

This was the inspiring life thought of the Middle Ages, which here carried out the genially literal and genially naive translation of the words of the gospel: "As long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me." Francis knew — as the whole Middle Ages knew it — that not even a glass of cold water, given by the disciples, would remain unpaid and unrewarded by the Master.

Therefore a pang went through his heart when, one day as there was a crowd in the shop, and he was in a hurry to get through, he had sent a beggar away. "If this man had come from one of my friends," said he to himself, "from Count this or Baron that, he would have got what he asked for. Now he comes from the King of kings and from the Lord of lords, and I let him go away empty-handed. I even gave him a repelling word." And he determined from that day on to give to every one who asked him in God's name — per amor di Dio, as the Italian beggars still are wont to say...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Persecuted, Indigenous Minority Blocked From Celebrating Holiday

That is, the Christians of the Middle East had one heck of a time with Easter.  Why?  Democratic revolutions almost never bode well for minorities--I know, counterintuitive, right?  Majority rule can really suck for minorities--whoda thunk it?  Excerpts follow:
Something very sobering and terrible is sinking in for Western journalists who are covering the uprising in the Middle East. They are beginning to wonder if the outcomes of these revolutions will automatically be good or, at least, “good” as defined in terms of civil liberties and human rights as they are promoted at, let’s say, the United Nations. In other words, sadly, there may be isolated situations on this earth in which totalitarian governments do a better job of protecting the rights of religious and ethnic minorities (or sexual minorities, for that matter) than governments that represent unfettered majority rule.

This has, of course, been a minor theme running through the mainstream press coverage of the flight of Eastern Christians from Iraq and other nations in that region. Every now and then, the mainstream press also notes the plight of the Bahai’s in Iran. Gays in Iran? Every now and then.

In other words, could there be a dark side to the Twitter and Facebook revolutions in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere?...

This year, I know, we will also pray for the safety of believers there. We will be praying for those that march in the streets once again, as they have marched for centuries, in the darkness that comes before dawn.

UPDATED: It appears that the government has, in effect, canceled Pascha, or a crucial part of it. Click here for the Washington Post story on this development.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

That's All For Now, Folks!

For the rest of Lent, I'm going to let the blog be.  A few more posts will pop up automatically, but then we'll be in the Lenten desert of quiet and peace.  Please explore what's already up--most posts have a value transcending the immediate news cycle (or at least, I like to think so).  I'll be back to this after Easter.  Until then, prayers and fasting on my behalf (or, heck, anyone's behalf) are always welcome.  If you feel like almsgiving, buy your books and movies by clicking through to Amazon via this blog's links--I then get a percentage of whatever you pay them.  :-)

In the meantime, God bless!


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