What’s Wrong with the World

The men signed of the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark.


What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

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July 2010 Archives

July 2, 2010

Correcting the biases of old books

C. S. Lewis tells us, in his lovely, brief introduction to an edition of St. Athanasius's On the Incarnation, that it is valuable to read books from other ages to challenge the biases of our particular age. He is even generous enough to say that reading the books of the future might have this salutary effect if it were only possible.

Since I am in fact living in the future vis a vis Lewis, I intend, though with some trepidation, to mention a passage in Lewis's own writing that has been abused (within my own experience) and that lends itself to misunderstanding.

The passage occurs in Mere Christianity, pp. 94-95 in my edition:

Finally, though I have had to speak at some length about sex, I want to make it as clear as I possibly can that the centre of Christian morality is not here. If anyone thinks that Christians regard unchastity as the supreme vice, he is quite wrong. The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronising and spoiling sport, and backbiting; the pleasures of power, of hatred. For there are two things inside me, competing with the human self which I must try to become. They are the Animal self, and the Diabolical self. The Diabolical self is the worse of the two. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither.

Continue reading "Correcting the biases of old books" »

July 3, 2010

Independence Day Prayers

The following prayers might be considered giants from the American "canon" of public intercessions. The contrast of these humble petitions with much of what passes for patriotism today is noteworthy. May our celebrations this weekend be conducted in the same spirit.

1928 Book of Common Prayer

ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech Thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of Thy favour and glad to do Thy will. Bless our land with honourable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogancy, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in Thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to Thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in Thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Continue reading "Independence Day Prayers" »

July 4, 2010

MCMYCL: 1955: I Bought Me a Cat

An Old American Song, for the Fourth:

Featuring my cat Circe, my Pekin duck, my Sebright hen, an American Buff goose with whom I've lost contact, and yonder old mulberry tree. Since I have no pigs, no cows, no horses, and no wife, I've resorted to Google Images for pictures of those interesting fauna.

July 6, 2010

Rule of law thrown out the window in British thug acquittal

Read about it at the end of this post at Extra Thoughts. If this British case doesn't get your dander up, it should, never mind what else you think of the rest of my entry. I'm a little surprised that it isn't getting more press on blogs like Jihad Watch and Atlas Shrugs, but perhaps I just missed it there.

July 7, 2010

Tiny Minority of Extremists

My title is borrowed from Robert Spencer, who calls such stories "Tiny Minority of Extremist Updates."

Several mosques in the Detroit area are mourning the death of pro-terror Hezbollah imam Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah. So is a CNN reporter named Octavia Nasr, who characterizes herself as a "Christian" and as a "Middle Eastern Woman." (I think this would be a good time to break out Hugh Fitzgerald's term "IslamoChristian.")

What people who characterize problems with Islam as problems with a "minority" do not understand, and what some of them will never understand, is that there are multiple levels to the problem with Muslims and Muslim immigration. Sympathy and support for terrorist groups like Hezbollah and its leaders constitute one such level. We are not simply talking about those who actually go out and strap bombs on themselves. We are talking about those who provide money to terrorists, those who support imams in the U.S. who preach terrorism, those who send their children to madrassahs where they are taught terrorism. We are talking about a community with bad, bad ideas, a community that venerates people like Fadlallah and teaches its children to do likewise.

And insofar as so-called "Christians" like Nasr are in on the game, they are enablers. She called Fadlallah "one of Hezbollah's giants I respect a lot." Think about what that wording shows. Never mind even the word "respect." I'm talking about "Hezbollah's giants." That's like referring to someone as "one of the giants of Nazism." As though Hezbollah is an admirable group so that being a "giant" among them is not just being a "giant monster." Yeah, yeah, here is her "clarification," along the lines of "Twitter made me do it."

The "clarification" blows plenty of smoke in and of itself, in between a few clear statements. So, alongside, "He regularly praised the terror attacks that killed Israeli citizens" we get not only praise for Fadlallah's alleged role in helping women in Islam but also the following ambiguous downplaying of his role in the Marine barracks attack in 1983: "In 1983, as Fadlallah found his voice as a spiritual leader, Islamic Jihad - soon to morph into Hezbollah - bombed the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 299 American and French peacekeepers." You know, if he'd just "found his voice" a little faster, I'm sure he would have stopped that attack. Or this: "And it was during his time as spiritual leader that so many Westerners were kidnapped and held hostage in Lebanon." Wow, what a coincidence. Or this:

When the Lebanese Civil War ended in 1990 with Syria taking full control of Lebanon, Hezbollah was and remains the only armed militia in Lebanon. Under Syria's influence however, Hezbollah - declared a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union started becoming even more militant, with designs beyond Lebanon's borders to serve agendas for Syria and Iran.

Fadlallah himself was designated a terrorist by the U.S. Treasury Department.

Yep, it was after 1990 that they "started becoming more militant" (never mind the barracks bombing?), and Fadlallah was "designated" a terrorist, but you never know, maybe we got it wrong.

In the "rolling around laughing" category we get her attempt to cast Fadlallah as a "moderate":

Through his outspoken Friday sermons and his regularly updated website, Fadlallah had a platform to spread what many considered a more moderate voice of Shia Islam than what was coming out of Iran.

And here's her last line:

Sayyed Fadlallah. Revered across borders yet designated a terrorist. Not the kind of life to be commenting about in a brief tweet. It's something I deeply regret.

Deep, man.

If an IslamoChristian "Middle Eastern woman" like Nasr can be starry-eyed about Fadlallah (which she pretty obviously was, as you can see both from her initial "tweet" and from her "clarification"), what should we expect from the Shia community in America? And Nasr's attitude is a good reason even to question some "Christian" immigration from certain parts of the Middle East, by the way. Wake up, Americans.

July 9, 2010

When Frank jilted Mary

If you’re in the mood for some philosophy of mind: Some reflections on Frank Jackson’s famous “knowledge argument” against materialism, and his second thoughts about it.

A Legend for Our Day and Age

Once upon a time, it was St. Ursula and her 11,000 virgins.

Now, it's Warren Beatty and his 12,000 sluts.

Since this is a family website, I continue the story at Alternative Right.

The Consumer Society

The Distributist Review has a new and much improved website, which I highly recommend. Please give it a look. On the front page you will find the following embedded video:

Now, I am not a fully committed distributist, or even a half-way committed distributist. I have lots of sympathy for the idea, but substantial doubts about its real-word possibilities. I do find, however, that distributist thinkers offer some valuable insights into the flaws of our present system. The consumerism depicted in this video is not exaggerated. Apologists for capitalism, if they are also social conservatives, need to explain their unqualified support for an economic system that is so inherently corrosive of tradition and virtue.

Whatever one thinks of capitalism, it is important for traditionalist conservatives to extract themselves and their families from the ubiquitous snares of consumerism (and that includes media and entertainment). Turn off and tune out. We can't drop out of society altogether, nor should we, but there is no reason why our lives and homes must be completely absorbed into the Machine. Even the daily news can be a problem if it sets our priorities. Part of the reason we're at where we're at is the want of imagination. There is no possibility of renewal if our imaginations - shaped by our habits of living - are confined to the parameters of the global-democratic-capitalist anti-culture.

July 10, 2010

The Firing of Dr. Kenneth Howell

Dr. Kenneth Howell was an adjunct professor in the Department of Religion at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Congratulated by the university for excellence in teaching in the Fall of 2009, he was recently fired for affirming, in an e-mail to the students of his "Introduction to Catholicism" course, the teaching of the Catholic Church on homosexuality. According to The News-Gazette:

In early May, Howell wrote a lengthy e-mail to his students, in preparation for an exam, in which he discusses how the theory of utilitarianism and natural law theory would judge the morality of homosexual acts.

"Natural Moral Law says that Morality must be a response to REALITY," he wrote in the e-mail, obtained by The News-Gazette. "In other words, sexual acts are only appropriate for people who are complementary, not the same."

He went on to write there has been a disassociation of sexual activity from morality and procreation, in contradiction of Natural Moral Theory.

The offensive e-mail was forwarded by an irate student to university officials, and the rest is history. It appears that he was fired from the Newman Center as well. At this point the diocese does not seem to be standing behind him, but according to an update on a Facebook page in support of Dr. Howell, Bishop Jenky is trying to get him re-instated. There are stories here, here, here, here, and here.

So, let's not expect any more tolerance from the Tolerant Ones. I am reminded of Msgr. Benson's "Lord of the World" in which the humanitarians turn on a dime from gentle doves to ferocious persecutors, the logic being that the intolerant Catholics must be eliminated to create a tolerant world. Don't get me wrong - the firing of a Catholic university professor is far from red martyrdom - though, perhaps, not quite as far as it seems.

July 11, 2010

Mayor of Dearborn: Anti-Muslim motives unconstitutional

Tomorrow, July 12, the four missionaries arrested in Dearborn for having a conversation on a public street with people who approached them to discuss Christianity will be arraigned for breach of the peace. Tonight, according to ABC News, they are going back to the scene of their arrest, where there presently is no Arab festival going on, and have invited those who want to discuss Christianity to meet them there. I hope they won't get either beaten up or arrested. I also hope they have streamed video that can't be confiscated by the police, as their other video has been.

I encourage readers to watch the ABC segment here.

Notable features:

--The reporter says that the mayor said that there was at the festival a "free speech zone" but that the missionaries weren't in it! What??? Just because an "Arab festival" is going on does not mean that conversations about Christianity can be confined to a "free speech zone." There's a "free speech zone." It's called the United States of America. This, and the reporter's mention of it as though such a thing is unremarkable, is terrifying. Oh, by the way: I'm indebted to a commentator for this link to a U.S. Supreme Court opinion in the Heffron case that said that on fairgrounds (which the Arab Festival wasn't, but waive that) people can be restricted to passing out literature at booths. Liberals have been trotting this SCOTUS opinion out ever since the arrests, sometimes ignoring the fact that these missionaries weren't passing literature when the arrest took place. But beyond that, guess what? This same opinion expressly protects the right to "mingle with the crowd" and "orally propagate their views"! See for yourself. It's in paragraph 655.

--The mayor, at 35 seconds into the ABC segment, characterizes the motives of the Christians as stirring "emotions against Muslims." How he divines this is something of a mystery. But what's especially striking is that then, at 2 minutes into the segment, he claims that such a motive "violates the spirit of the Constitution." Think about that for just a moment. In other words, if your motives in doing something are ostensibly anti-Muslim, even if what you are actually doing is otherwise perfectly legal, you are somehow violating the "spirit" of the Constitution (perhaps he should have started talking about "penumbras"). I assume this means you can be arrested. Next stop: Arresting people for eating pork in "Muslim areas," walking dogs--you know, anything that is done with an anti-Muslim motive.

--The mayor is so clueless that he thinks all four missionaries were cited for refusing to obey an officer's order. This isn't true. Only the young lady, Nageen, was so cited, apparently because she didn't immediately and tamely give up her video camera. The mayor then spins out this confused claim that they were all cited for refusal to obey an officer's orders into a completely made-up claim (which the missionaries say the confiscated video would refute) that the police told them to "break it up" and that they refused. I don't know where the mayor is getting this. Maybe he just makes it up out of his head. He seems like that kind of "make it up as you go along even if you have no idea what you are talking about" guy. Maybe the police told him that. It will be interesting to see what happens in court, seeing as videotape that the missionaries claim is exculpatory continues to be MIA.

--The reporter says that the missionaries were involved in a "disturbance" at last year's festival. Don't you love that way of describing it, without any clarification? As though maybe the missionaries were rioting or something. Here's that "disturbance" that they were "involved in."

Bonus: I was going to blog this separately but didn't get to do so before the ABC report came up. See the video here to learn of the unnerving harassment Nageen was given by the male Dearborn police after she was arrested. Nothing actually violent, but some words (and a demand to take off an overshirt in front of them) clearly intended to frighten her as a powerless female at the police station. You have to watch most of the video to get to that part of what David Wood is saying.

July 12, 2010

Bishop Fulton Sheen on Capital, Labor, and Economic Man


Apropos the economics discussion below, some may find Bishop Sheen's remarks pertinent:

Address Delivered on February 7, 1943

Why have not the moral forces of the nation, such as education, press, radio, all the clergy of all denominations, the social reformers, been more insistent on developing a new order instead of patching up the old one? Perhaps the principal reason is because they have been getting behind certain movements instead of ahead of them. The first thought that comes to a particular group which wishes to further legislation in its favor is to wire educators, clergymen, actors, and social workers, to lend their names as sponsors of its cause- and there are at least five hundred such professional signers in our country who keep their fountain pens uncapped for just such demented and cheap publicity. It is just this irrational mentality which substitutes imitation for thinking by pushing some group or class instead of leading for the common good that has paralyzed the regeneration of society.

A few generations ago it was the fashion to get behind Capitalism, and political parties were formed to support its legislation. Now it is the fashion and mood to get behind Labor which develops its own parties, while John Q. Public and the common good is like ground meat in the sandwich. Each class demands its rights in the name of freedom, forgetting that, as Lincoln once said, "Sheep and wolves never agree on the definition of freedom."

The Christian solution is to get behind neither Capital nor Labor exclusively; but to be behind Capital when Marxian Socialism would destroy private property, and to be behind Labor when Monopolistic Capitalism would claim the priority of profits over the right to a just wage. If we are behind either Capital or Labor, at what point will either stop in their demands? Or is there a stopping point? Did Capital ever decide for itself, when it was in the saddle, that it would take no more than ten per cent profits? Capital took all the profits the traffic would bear. Now that Capital is unseated and Labor is riding the economic horse, what limits does Labor set itself? Is there a wage beyond which it will not ask? Are there certain minimum hours below which it will not seek to work? They too will get all the traffic will bear. When self-interest and class-interest become the standard, then who shall say there is a right and wrong? As the old Chinese proverb put it: "No good rat will injure the grain near its hole."

Continue reading "Bishop Fulton Sheen on Capital, Labor, and Economic Man" »

July 13, 2010

The silent slaughter of European Keynesianism

There is an astounding tale that will, let us hope, one day be told properly, giving full range to the pulverizing improbability of it all: how it baffled settled assumptions, Left and Right, and turned the whole world on its head. Its main drama unfolded in late spring 2010, though its seeds were sown much earlier. Its consequences will surely be as unpredictable as its unfolding. A facile literary reference will perhaps suffice for a brief sketch of its lineaments:

The Greeks constructed a new wooden horse, a sturdy, impressive and mesmerizing contraption; and it in they concealed their most cunning and ruthless warriors, all bent on slaughter and rapine, and focused on a single class of men.

It appears that the subterfuge succeeded. The assassins were geniuses of their dismal trade.

The wily Greeks (aided, it is rumored, by Portuguese and Spaniards) effected a wholesale slaughter of the European Keynesians.

By late June the American Keynesians were pleading with European statesman to strengthen and extend stimulus measures; but they found to their dismay that all their old allies had been slain. Austerity was the somber watchword. Even the cries of deflationary trap and a second Great Depression from the pages of The New York Times would not avail them. Nary a Euro-Keynesian was left standing, not even a new Aeneas to flee to the west and found the new kingdom.

(More here.)

Update on Dearborn

Bare facts on the arraignment and later court dates here.

The short version is that the city of Dearborn appears not to be backing down (stupid, stupid) on the charges of "breach of the peace" against the four missionaries while at the same time refusing to release their video and even adding questionable procedural practices to the initial violation of their free speech rights. They were arraigned on Monday and a court date of August 3 has been set for admission of evidence.

In this video we learn that the city has finally released the police report on the arrests but that it contains no clear indication of how the missionaries were committing breach of the peace. We also learn that the judge indicated hesitation when the missionaries' lawyer requested a bill of particulars to try to find out how, exactly, they were supposed to have broken the law. I seem to recall something in the Constitution about the right to know the charges against you. I fear that, formally speaking, the all-purpose charge of "breach of the peace" may be taken to cover this, but a refusal to provide a bill of particulars in a timely fashion so that they can prepare their defense should, it seems to me, raise obvious due process issues if this goes to trial. And obviously, continued refusal to release the video should shoot the whole thing down from a due process perspective.

(Brief note: I had to find this update video from a link provided by a reader at the Acts 17 blog, and the video doesn't mention the trial dates. If anyone is reading this from the Acts 17 blog, I just want to say that it would be really helpful if there were one central place where people could go to get such updates and details like the next court date.)

The video is excellent and shows Acts 17's usual humor and intelligence in explaining the facts and rebutting false statements. (See below the fold for another similarly detailed and well-reasoned video.)

Continue reading "Update on Dearborn" »

July 14, 2010

Does Bart Stupak Read the News?

If so, he and all his enablers (you know, those allegedly "pro-life, pro-Obamacare" types) should be reading this and doing a whole lot of breast beating and repenting in sackcloth and ashes.

But somehow, I'm not holding my breath.

July 15, 2010

David Hart and the Perfect Game


In the new number of First Things (the second of a bold and, in my judgment, inspired redesign of that venerable magazine) includes an essay by the Orthodox philosopher David Hart on the game of baseball. It’s simply marvelous. Read it.

In fairness, I may be biased on this one. I read the piece the morning after watching one of the most extraordinary comebacks in all of baseball history, when the Colorado Rockies, down 9 – 3 going into the bottom of the ninth inning, reeled off a series of brilliant at-bats, culminating in an electrifying walk-off homerun by Seth Smith, to defeat the St. Louis Cardinals.

Now when your team is down 9 – 3 in the ninth, the normal tendency is to turn off the TV and mutter “it’s a long season, we’ll get ‘em tomorrow night.” But in this case we had a gathering of people in the family room, all absorbed, as it happened, in a game of Risk. (My daughter was on the verge of sweeping across Asia in a positively Napoleonic march.)

The baseball broadcast was muted and basically ignored — until Chris Iannetta ripped a three-run homer to bring the Rockies to within two runs. That got our attention; and ten minutes and five batters later we all were hootin’ and hollerin’ in my parents’ family room like a bunch of triumphant Viking raiders.

Continue reading "David Hart and the Perfect Game" »

Land, Guns, and Gold: Will They Save You?


Respectable (and not-so-respectable) pundits have been predicting a worldwide economic collapse for the better part of three years now. The advice of these "doomsday investors" to their wealthy clients amounts to this: buy rural property, preferably a self-sufficient farm, somewhere far away from the big cities; and stockpile essential supplies, especially gold, guns and ammunition. It's an old idea that is becoming mainstream.

I live on twenty rural acres, just outside of a small town but almost two hours away from the nearest major city. Here we raise goats for meat and milk, cows for beef, and chickens primarily for eggs. We planted 150 fruit trees a few years ago, and the orchard is just now coming into production. We also grow some vegetables and melons in our kitchen garden, and an amazing quantity of figs from three ancient fig trees. Wild blackberries grow on the property, which my children harvest for the making of pies and jam. We don't own any gold, but we do keep a shotgun, a rifle, and a .357 revolver with plenty of ammunition on hand. Our water is supplied from a domestic well and a regional irrigation project, so we're independent of city water systems (but still dependent upon public utilities). It's not "self-sufficiency" or "independence" by a long shot, but it does put certain problems at a distance.

Therefore, I do consider myself qualified to have a few opinions on the "buy farms, gold, and guns" solution proposed by the doomsday investors.

Continue reading "Land, Guns, and Gold: Will They Save You?" »

July 17, 2010

Dearborn video footage--egregious violations of constitutional rights

The Acts 17 missionaries have finally gotten back their video footage from the Dearborn police. (Hey, it only took 25 days.) The lies in the police reports are shocking and are revealed by the footage.

It's really a toss-up which of the two arrest videos now available on-line is the most infuriating. I'm going to post first the one that I, personally, was most struck by, but they are both in this entry.

First, the arrest of Nabeel Qureshi for having a good conversation about Christianity with a group of Muslims. The video also contains quotations from the utterly lying police report.

Continue reading "Dearborn video footage--egregious violations of constitutional rights" »

How "choice" devours itself

See my long post at Sacramentum Vitae.

July 18, 2010

Pick-up lines from the philosophers

Or, how I met my wife.

The Great "Diversity" Fraud

The following has received enough attention, lately, that I won't even bother providing links:

"...Participation in such...activities as high school ROTC, 4-H clubs, or the Future Farmers of America was found to reduce very substantially a student's chances of gaining admission to the competitive private colleges in the NSCE database on an all-other-things-considered basis. The admissions disadvantage was greatest for those in leadership positions in these activities or those winning honors and awards. 'Being an officer or winning awards' for such career-oriented activities as junior ROTC, 4-H, or Future Farmers of America, say Espenshade and Radford, 'has a significantly negative association with admission outcomes at highly selective institutions.' Excelling in these activities 'is associated with 60 or 65 percent lower odds of admission.'"

Continue reading "The Great "Diversity" Fraud" »

July 20, 2010

Next Dearborn Video

This one is from David Woods's camera. It recapitulates some of the time period shown in other videos but gives a good wide shot of the scene which refutes a claim by the city mayor that Acts 17 was blocking a tent entrance and forcing a crowd to form by way of a bottleneck. (Remember too that in a previous video, we saw that David Wood actually asked a police officer if they should move and was told, "No, you're fine.")

Notice again here that at no time are the Acts 17 guys asked by police to stop their conversation, nor do the police make any attempt to disperse them or the group around them. Every video of the arrests of the men shows them being arrested summarily. It is particularly chilling, as I have already mentioned, to see Nabeel discussing the deity of Jesus and the atonement and being interrupted in these theological disquisitions by a policeman who asks him to "come over here" and puts handcuffs on him immediately.

David's narrative is, as always, interesting and entertaining.

I continue to be amazed that the city does not drop the charges. David's take on their thinking is in the comments here.

The Modern State Against the Church

LifeSiteNews.com has a timely interview with Catholic attorney Christopher Ferrara. Some quotes:

Now, in terms of life issues and positive law, the fundamental problem is that political modernity no longer cares about the question, ‘what is man?’ And certainly not the question, ‘what is man for?’ which is to know, to love, to serve God in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.
Of course, because in this new commercial society, which is all the modern state is – it’s a trading ground, ‘city of pigs,’ the very thing that [Greek philosopher] Glaucon and Socrates ridicule in the Republic, the very thing that Aristotle dismisses as an inadequate notion of the state – the city of pigs, the commercial society is what we now have.

So the western world is one vast trading zone, hosted by secular governments which now completely prescind from the question of what man is, or what man is for, and pretend to be religiously neutral, when they’re not.

Because if the state says, ‘we don’t care what man is, what man is made for,’ it has already embraced an anti-theology. And in fact, the very function of such a state is to protect itself from religion. Not to guarantee the free exercise of religion, but to protect itself from religion.

Continue reading "The Modern State Against the Church" »

July 21, 2010

The Agony of Famagusta


Cyprus can lay claim to being the first country on earth governed by a Christian sovereign, the Roman proconsul Sergius Paulus, converted by St. Paul, along with Sts. Barnabas and Mark, on his first missionary journey. It remained Roman (and Byzantine) for 800 years, excepting a brief period of Arab occupation, until its conquest by the Crusaders under Richard Coeur de Lion, who in turn sold the isle to exiles from the defeated Crusader kingdoms, whose descendants ruled there for some three hundred years.

By the mid-15th century, when all the Christian world was shaken by the fall of Constantinople, Cyprus came under Venetian influence. It was destined to became an important possession in that illustrious city’s glittering Mediterranean commercial empire. The coat of arms of the Lion of St. Mark, and the protection of her galleys, preserved the island in Christian hands until July of 1571.

On some pretext, authenticated by a pliant mufti, the Sultan succeeded in nullifying a treaty of peace he had signed with Venice; and he declared, on fine Islamic principle, that since Cyprus had once been Muslim, it should again come under the peace of the ummah. “Put down your feet upon him, that our peace be on the earth!” He raised an army of nearly 100,000 men, many of them the dreaded Janissaries, the special forces of the Turkish military, and put it under the command of an ambitious general, Lala Mustafa Pasha, his former tutor.

Continue reading "The Agony of Famagusta" »

De-Christianizing Hospital Chapels

Hospitals Revamp Chapels Into Meditation Rooms:

Today, hospital chapels vary widely. Some still reflect their founders' religious roots. Others have been renovated to accommodate multiple religions, or their religious symbols have been removed so the rooms resemble waiting rooms or art galleries.

"There was a diversity for a long time that was Christian diversity," said the Rev. George Handzo, vice president of pastoral care leadership and practice at HealthCare Chaplaincy, based in New York City.

Staff and patient populations at many U.S. hospitals are much more diverse than they once were, and hospitals know it makes good business sense to accommodate them, Handzo said. "They don't want to lose those people to the place down the street."

Continue reading "De-Christianizing Hospital Chapels" »

July 22, 2010

Josh McDowell [hearts] Sharia

In this comment, I said that the real goal of the Dearborn police and the organizers of the Arab festival is to impose an unwritten, unconstitutional rule against all Christian witnessing to Muslims except at rented booths. (Notice that I am talking not about passing out literature but about having conversations.)

I was wrong.

It's worse than that.

But before I tell you, let me back up a bit. I've always had an admiration for famed popular apologist Josh McDowell, author of Evidence That Demands a Verdict. What I didn't know until very recently is that McDowell has recently gotten into Muslim evangelism. Sort of.

Continue reading "Josh McDowell [hearts] Sharia" »

July 23, 2010

Outside the Magic Circle

With his conservative confrères, British Catholic blogger Damien Thompson likes to call the British Catholic hierarchy "The Magic Circle." The phrase is meant pejoratively, of course. They see the bishops as a self-congratulatory cabal more interested in maintaining its élite status among "the great and good," including and especially the Anglican establishment, than in easing the path of traditional Anglicans into the Church or, more generally, in implementing the Pope's policies for the Church at large. If they're right—and I have independent reason to think they are—the fact itself is disturbing. Whatever the ideological coloration, if any, of a magic circle might be, just being part of a magic circle is usually bad for peoples' souls. It constitutes a culture of privilege that insulates them from the worst criticisms, causes them to think themselves better than others, and makes them resistant to reforms the need for which is obvious to many outsiders. That sort of problem fueled the Protestant Reformation centuries ago. In a sense, the Catholic hierarchy in Europe and the Americas has continued to be a magic circle for a long time. But is that about to end?

Continue reading "Outside the Magic Circle" »

Nixon Goes to China

Under the title "Diversity and the Myth of White Privilege," Senator James Webb (D., Va.) says what no mainstream Republican politician would ever dare to say:

Continue reading "Nixon Goes to China" »

July 26, 2010

No Tea Party for Me

I'm just now reading the Tea Party's "Contract From America" for the first time. Not many surprises here. I sincerely wish them well and hope they achieve many of their goals. And I do mean "them", because as much as I agree with them on certain points, their underlying philosophy of government is wholly incompatible with an historically-aware Christianity. Specifically:

Individual Liberty

Our moral, political, and economic liberties are inherent, not granted by our government. It is essential to the practice of these liberties that we be free from restriction over our peaceful political expression and free from excessive control over our economic choices.

The language of "individual liberty", seemingly divorced from the context of family and community, is foreign to the mind of the Church and demonstrably corrosive of public morality. The enshrining of individual "economic choices" as something sacrosanct - as though all economic choices were equally moral, as if their social consequences did not matter and were of no interest to the state - is likewise contrary to anything resembling historic Christian statecraft.

Continue reading "No Tea Party for Me" »

July 27, 2010

The Manhattan Declaration and Christian Principles

See my post on that subject at the First Things blog "First Thoughts." A lot more can and should be said, but as a response to Steve Hutchens of Touchstone, I believe the post is a good conversation starter.

July 28, 2010

The (Muslim) Girls are All Right

A couple of items in National Review's The Week got my attention. I apologize if everyone knows about these things already; I don't keep up too well. The first concerned an actress who stars in children's movies, the Harry Potter ones to be exact:


Cute, isn't she? Her name's Afshan Azad. She's twenty-two now. The story goes that her father and brother - both British born and educated Muslims - beat her up and threatened to kill her because she refused to stop dating her Hindu boyfriend. They left her "badly bruised." The men are out on bail and awaiting trial. Afshan's taken refuge with friends in London. She has pleaded with the court to drop the charges against the two (I have no idea why), but the judge refused. There are rumors that an honor killing might have been in the offing. I don't understand why the father and brother were so upset. In this article, we find out that Hindus commit honor killings too, although the Western media tend to play those up while minimizing the Muslim variety, of which latter we also learn that Mom sometimes has her part to play.

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July 29, 2010

Serious Christians need not apply: Absolute Moral Relativism mandatory for "ethical" counselors [Updated]

By now many of you have already heard of the recent grant of summary judgment to Eastern Michigan University by a federal judge in the case of Julea Ward and EMU's counseling program. The judge's opinion is here.

The Alliance Defense Fund is also litigating a similar case, recently filed, on behalf of Jennifer Keeton against officials at Augusta State University in Georgia. The complaint is here.

Both documents make for very interesting reading. I'm going to try to boil the matter down for interested readers, but if this kind of thing is your bag, I do encourage you actually to read the documents.

The American Counseling Association has (the irony will not be lost on you) a code of ethics which secular counseling programs have incorporated into their curricular requirements. (I don't know what Christian counseling programs do.) This code of ethics and the counseling course textbooks are chock-full of code language about diversity, tolerance, and not "imposing" one's values, especially in the context of (you will be so surprised) homosexuality, which code language is not hard to interpret: American counselors are supposed to aim for value neutral counseling as an ideal (though some textbooks acknowledge that it is not a perfectly attainable one), to affirm their clients' values and set their own aside in counseling, and to be especially sure not to judge homosexual behavior to be wrong. Got it?

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