What drives history over the long haul is culture

Quote of the Day for Friday, January 6th, 2012 – Epiphany. George Weigel, in an On The Square article over at FirstThings.com last Wednesday, entitled The Weakness of Tyranny: With the benefit of 30 years of hindsight, it now seems clear that the imposition of martial law in Poland in December 1981 was not an act of strength but one of weakness, by a regime so incapable of commanding the allegiance of those in whose name it claimed to rule that it could only compel obedience by violence. It took some time for this to become clear in Poland, a count...

On a Nationalized American Religious Disposition

I don’t take many calls that come in from 800- or similar area codes, but I took one this morning, because I am expecting a call-back from HP regarding a warranty replacement hard drive for Ezra, my Windows 7 desktop computer (which I had prematurely identified last week as suffering from software problems, but which were being caused by a failing hard drive). The call was from an organization looking to add my name to a petition supposedly being submitted somewhere or another as a token of protest against the legal successes of a militant atheist group ...

It is only human to be exhilarated if one thinks one is riding on the crest of the future.

Quote of the Day for Saturday, January 22nd, 2011: Sociologist Peter L. Berger, concluding his 1970 book, A Rumor of Angels: Modern Society and the Rediscovery of the Supernatural: I would like to emphasize once more that anyone who approaches religion with an interest in its possible truth, rather than in this or that aspect of its social manifestations, would do well to cultivate a measure of indifference in the matter of empirical prognoses. History brings out certain questions of truth, makes certain answers more or less accessible, constructs and ...

The smoking gun we’ve been looking for

Quote of the Day for Tuesday, January 18th, 2011: Priestcraft hysteria breaking out in an AP article by Shawn Pogatchnik, as published on Boston.com this evening, relating to the release today of a 1997 letter allegedly implicating the Vatican in a “cover up” of clerical sexual abuse: Any bishops who tried to impose punishments outside the confines of canon law would face the "highly embarrassing" position of having their actions overturned on appeal in Rome, [Apostolic Nuncio Luciano Storero] wrote. Catholic officials in Ireland and the Vatic...

Mobilizing Useful Idiots Around the World to Take Up the Cause

Quote of the Day for Wednesday, January 5th, 2011: Stephen Kinzer, writing in The Guardian on December 31, on the professional Human Rights movement’s loss of direction since its emergence some 40 years ago or so: The actions of human rights do-gooders is craziest in Darfur, where they show themselves not only dangerously naive but also unwilling to learn lessons from their past misjudgments. By their well-intentioned activism, they have given murderous rebel militias – not only in Darfur but around the world – the idea that even if they have no h...

"Santa may you help me with my family?"

Quote of the Day for Wednesday, December 15th, 2010: From a USA TODAY article today by Donna Leinwand, discussing “Dear Santa” letters received this year at the main NCY Post Office: A single mother of a girl, 8, and a boy, 2, wrote that she recently lost her job. "I am unable to buy my children toys and clothes," she said. "Santa may you help me with my family?" It’s not that I lack sympathy for this young woman, or imagine this was anything less than a desperate act, but should we really be less than dumbstruck ourselves at the no...

"I don’t think any other woman is mentioned"

Quote of the Day for Saturday, December 11th, 2010: Catherine Lawless, lecturer in the history of art at the University of Limerick, discussing her paper relating the legends around St. Ismeria, supposed maternal great-grandmother of Jesus, in a recent Discovery News piece: “I don’t think any other woman is mentioned” as Mary’s grandmother in the Bible, Catherine Lawless, author of the paper, told Discovery News. “Mary’s patrilineal lineage is the only one given.” Perhaps I’m guilty here of shooting fish in a bar...

Yet by the Goodness of God, We Are So Far from Want

Quote of the Day for Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 25, 2010: Mayflower Pilgrim  Edward Winslow, from A Relation or Journal of the Beginning and Proceedings of the English Plantation Settled at Plimoth in New England (aka Mourt’s Relation), published in England by George Morton (aka Mourt) in 1622: [O]ur governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a more special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruit of our labors; they four in one day killed as much fowl, as with a little help beside, served the company almost a week,  at ...

Benedict XVI on Condoms & Gigolos

Benedict XVI, quoted on the possible justification of condom use in an upcoming book by German journalist Peter Seewald: "Light of the World: The Pope, The Church and The Signs Of The Times," as excerpted in today’s L’Osservatore Romano: “There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility.” Boy, is this likely to grow legs! The AP has the story, and the Boston Globe is spinning it wi...

Shaved Off with Occam’s Razor?

Quote of the Day, from Joe Carter over at First Things: Many of us fool ourselves into believing that we can approach our vocations from the position of religious neutrality. What we fail to understand is that we either bring the Logos to bear on our areas of expertise and fields of study or we reject him as irrelevant, a useless appendage that can be shaved off with Occam’s razor. Shaved off with Occam’s Razor, indeed… What a great line.… Read the rest

The Error of Permitting Religious Practice

A local furor erupted a couple days ago over a Wellesley Middle School class’ visit to an area mosque, a story which has subsequently gone national. This whole story is just so wrong, on so many levels, that it approaches (?) the absurd. It is a microcosm of everything wrong with the deracinated public life that has banished religious faith to the margins, and adopted a functional atheism as public policy (despite the lingering religiosity of much of the unwashed masses). The 6th grade class found itself at the mosque as part of a social studies unit cal...

“If the Dead are Garbage, then the Living are Walking Garbage.”

Every now and again, I find myself disputing with advocates of human cremation over the propriety of the process. Cremation has very rapidly become the preferred option, in certain sectors of society, for dealing with the corpses of the deceased. Whereas at one time its appeal may have been pretty much strictly economic to those not strongly influenced by oriental, non-Christian culture (or anti-Christian sentiment), it is these days often pitched as a morally compelling solution to a looming Malthusian crisis of usable land – the argument being that bur...