Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Memorare Army

President Minnis of Benedictine College explains the Memorare Campaign against the HHS Mandate. You may have to turn the volume up.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Catholic Bloggers on Sci-Fi

Science Fiction is a medium ideally suited for philosophical and religious themes.  Some great commentary on Sci-Fi from Catholic bloggers:

Der Wolfanwalt asks if robots can have souls.

John C. Wright makes a list of the essential 50 Sci-Fi authors.

Tony Rossi writes about the moral message of Fringe, one of my my favorite shows. H/T:CMR

Pat Archbold writes about Fringe and The Walking Dead.

Mark Shea theorizes about religious themes in Sci-Fi works made by atheists.

The monster Eegahlnc uses terrible movies to produce great Catholic commentary.

Meet Steve the Pagan

I will often find myself in agreement with members of the so-called "Alternative-Right," but many of them have some truly nutty ideas.  Craziest of all is the notion that Christianity is too liberal and real conservatives ought to return to their European roots and embrace paganism.  To put it in the most charitable way I can, that is a really stupid idea.

Writing in Alternative Right Magazine, Stephen McNallen explains why he is a pagan:
I am a pagan because it is the only way I can be true to who, and what, I am. I am a pagan because the best things in our civilization come from pre-Christian Europe. I am a pagan because our ancestral religion is needed to help reverse the decline and impending extinction of the European-descended peoples.
Those may well be the worst justifications for religious faith ever proposed.  Pre-Christian Europe produced some cool stuff.  So what?  Christian Europe produced the best art and architecture in human history but flying buttresses are hardly a reason to believe in the Trinity.  As for the population decline among Europeans and European descendents, I don't see what paganism could do prevent it or how a demographic trend constitutes a good reason to become a pagan. 
The paganism I have practiced for some forty years is derived from the beliefs of my (and  your) Germanic ancestors. It is not at all what Alain de Benoist, in his excellent On Being a Pagan, called "primitive" and "puerile." The proper name for my faith is "Asatru," from the Icelandic meaning roughly "those true to the Gods." Some call it Odinist.
There are only two kinds of religions in the world. One kind, like Christianity, Islam, or Scientology, lacks any roots in blood or soil. Consequently, these religions claim the allegiance of all the human race. The very word "catholic" means "universal." You can be Chinese or Nigerian or anything under the sun and be a full-fledged member of any of these faiths.
The other category includes the ones we call pagan, or native, or indigenous religions.  They are innately tied to a specific people and cannot be transferred to another group without losing their truth, power, and integrity. Such religions are the distilled experience of a specific biological and cultural group from its very beginning.
They spring from the soul of that people and from no other. They honor their ancestors, and not the ancestors of any other people. They posit a time-transcending unity of the Gods, the ancestors, the living kin, and the generations yet to come. Every native population has, or had, such a religion that spoke from its blood, its bone, its brain, its soul.    
Contrary to what Steve the pagan thinks, Christianity is very much rooted in blood.  Instead of being bound by the blood of kinship however, Christians are united by the blood of Christ, spilled at Calvary for the redemption of all people, including those Chinese and Nigerian folks of whom McNallen is none too fond.  Xenophobia isn't the only problem with McNallen's blood and soil formula.  Our blood has gotten mixed up and we live on soil far away from our tribal ancestors.  Should someone with Greek and Germanic ancestry worship both Aphrodite and Freya?  Should we still worship oak trees if we don't live in the deep forests of Germany anymore?  I reside in Kansas at the moment, so perhaps I should worship corn.
Obviously, such a folk-based religion has strong advantages for any group trying to preserve its physical and cultural existence. Continuation of the people in question becomes a religious imperative.  It creates a strong in-group, encourages healthy families, elevates a heroic ethic, and teaches the hard virtues of loyalty, courage, and honor.  I don't think anyone reading these words is likely to have a problem with that.  
McNallen is entirely too optimistic about the effect of paganism on the fertility of Europeans.  Most Catholics have no problem using birth control at the risk of their eternal soul and there is no reason to think that pagans would be more scrupulous, especially considering that pagan deities do not condemn contraception.  Christian or pagan, westerners are selfish and want to have sex without the consequence of children.  As for the promotion of a warrior spirit, the United States Marine Corps does that at least as well as pagans ever did, but that is no reason to worship the ghost of Chesty Puller.

McNallen does not suggest any theological reasons to convert to paganism, offering only unconvincing consequentialist and material reasons.  The truth is that the people of pre-Christian Europe were not pagans simply because their religion was a way to tie them to their land and communities but because they actually believed in gods and ancestor worship.  McNallen disrespects the pagans he seeks to emulate by using their false but sincere faith for utilitarian purposes.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Great Youth Compromise

I would like to propose a political compromise that could help advance domestic tranquility and improve the quality of American government.  Simply put, the voting age should be put back at 21, and as compensation, the drinking age should be lowered to 18.

The vast majority of people my age are entirely unqualified to so much as comment on politics, much less vote.  Most 18 year-olds should probably not be drinking but they drink anyway.  It is not possible to prevent underage drinking but it is possible to prevent leftist kids from voting.  Some youth may object to their disenfranchisement but I think that most of them will accept easier access to beer as a trade for the right to participate in the democratic process.  As an added bonus, legally drinking youth may develop a greater respect for the rule of law once they no longer need to routinely violate it.  For the sake of the country, let's have less voting and more drinking!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Memento Mori

Ash Wednesday is is about mortality and penance.  We will all die eventually, some sooner than others.  In the sweep of cosmic time, our lives are so short that we are practically dead already.

To live a good life, we must remember death and judgement.  Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Darn Interesting Website

If you like historical and scientific trivia, you will love Damn Interesting, a great website featuring amazing stories about oddities and adventures.  These are some of my favorite stories:

Steely-Eyed Hydronauts of the Mariana
The daring exploration of the Mariana Trench

Rider on the Storm
A Marine pilot in a parachute is trapped inside a storm.

The Unfortunate Sex Life of the Banana
Bananas are tasty freakish clones of hybrid plants.

Heavy Water and the Norwegians
Norwegian resistance fighters try to sabotage Hitler's nuclear ambitions.

The story of a tiger loving hunter

The Extraordinary Astrologer Isaac Bickerstaff
An astrologer wakes up dead, thanks to Jonathon Swift.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Consequentialism and the Civil War

Consequentialism is the false proposition that the morality of an act is contingent only on its consequence.  When it comes to the moral analysis of history, few events provoke as much consequentialist argument as the American Civil War.  Both those who take the side of the Union and those who support the South make arguments based on the results of the war, often neglecting the actual actions and motivations of those involved.

Union supporters point out that the North's victory ended slavery in North America.  This is true of course, but most northerners did not fight for emancipation, but for national union.  In addition, slavery might well have been ended by peaceful means albeit later than it actually was.  This does not mean that slavery should simply be ignored when examining the morality of the Civil War, but rather that an argument based on slavery alone is insufficient. 

Yankees aren't the only ones who advance consequentialist arguments.  Neo-Confederates like to point out that the federal government is ridiculously and unconstitutionally large and that the increase in government size started with Abraham Lincoln's administration.  There are a number of problems with this idea.  Most importantly, the Civil War doesn't have a darn thing to do with Obamacare, the EPA, or the National Endowment for the Arts.  It's true that the North rejected states' rights at least as far as secession was concerned, and that Lincoln supported tariffs and federal highways, but northerners were not fighting for a federal welfare state and southerners were not fighting against one.  Besides, even if one accepts the idea that the North's victory ultimately led to today's bloated federal government, it can serve only as a consequentialist argument in favor of the Confederacy.

The morality of either side of the conflict can only be judged based on the actions and beliefs of the actual participants, not on a result of the war, whether it be the end of slavery or the perplexing election of Joe Biden to high office.  Consequentialist thinking is relatively harmless when applied to the past, but when a consequentialist turns his attention to present issues such as abortion, terrible evils are done "for the greater good."  Those who avoid consequentialism in historical analysis can avoid it in personal moral judgments.  In all things, do good, avoid evil, and entrust the future to God.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Excuses, Excuses

Apologies for the lack of posting lately.  I have been busy with schoolwork and getting the College Republicans restarted on campus.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Importance of Lourdes

Lourdes, France is famous for its healing spring. However, being a French spring, it is usually on vacation and only rarely offers physical healing.  I think that the most important thing about Lourdes and St. Bernadette's visions has to do with Papal infallibility. 

In 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed in Ineffabilis Deus, that Mary was conceived without sin, and that the Immaculate Conception "is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful."  A few years later, in 1858, Mary appeared to Bernadette at Lourdes and said "I am the Immaculate Conception."  This one sentence confirmed the Pope's ex cathedra statement over a decade before the doctrine of Papal infallibility was formally adopted at the First Vatican Council.  I believe that Mary was sent to Lourdes to offer a comforting validation of the Pope's authority to any who might doubt it.

Friday, February 10, 2012

P.J. O'Rourke Answers Dave Barry's Questions

Dave Barry asks P.J. O'Rourke some questions and P.J. answers.  This is like some sort of super awesome comic book crossover of libertarian humorists.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

We are the 3%

No I'm not talking about income brackets.  I am referring to the 3% of the country that consists of pro-lifers.  Some may protest that over half the country is pro-life.  It is true that in 2009, a Gallup poll revealed that 51% of the country considered itself to be pro-life and it has dropped since then to about 45% compared to the 49% who call themselves pro-choice.  45% is still pretty good and might be cause for optimism.

However, I am an evangelist of pessimism and am here to tell you all to stop being happy about the alleged numbers of pro-lifers and to look at a more depressing poll.  According to a January CBS/New York Times poll, only 3% of Americans consider abortion to be the most important political issue.  This means that fewer than 6% of self described pro-lifers think that 3,000 daily infanticides is the most pressing issue for our government to address.  I am sure that most of the "pro-lifers" with messed up priorities are decent people, but I hesitate to call them pro-life.  No sane person who truly believes abortion to be murder would consider some other issue to be more important.

I bring this up not as an attempt at getting the tiny minority of legitimate pro-lifers to give up and start drinking.  God wants us to do what is right even if we totally fail at it.  The mass-murder of the unborn may continue until the end of this world but until then we need to change our culture as best we can and hopefully save a few lives.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Peggy Noonan on Obama and the HHS Mandate

Peggy Noonan totally reads my blog.  Well, either that or she reached the same rather obvious conclusion that I did about the HHS mandate along with a whole lot of other people.  Heck, Rahm Emmanual is probably calling Obama from Chicago to tell him that he's an idiot for attacking American Catholics, who are vital to his reelection. Well anyway, I prefer to think that Peggy Noonan reads my blog.  She writes,

The big political news of the week isn’t Mr. Romney’s gaffe, or even his victory in Florida. The big story took place in Washington. That’s where a bomb went off that not many in the political class heard, or understood.

But President Obama just may have lost the election.

The president signed off on a Health and Human Services ruling that says under ObamaCare Catholic Institutions—including its charities, hospitals and schools—will be required by law, for the first time ever, to provide and pay for insurance coverage that includes contraceptives, abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization procedures. If they do not, they will face ruinous fines in the millions of dollars. Or they can always go out of business.

In other words, the Catholic Church was told this week that its institutions can’t be Catholic anymore.
I invite you to imagine the moment we are living in without the church’s charities, hospitals and schools. And if you know anything about those organizations, you know it is a fantasy that they can afford millions in fines.

There was no reason to make this ruling—none. Except ideology.

The conscience clause, which keeps the church itself from having to bow to such decisions, has always been assumed to cover the church’s institutions.

Now the church is fighting back. Priests in an estimated 70% of parishes last Sunday came forward to read strongly worded protests from the church’s bishops. The ruling asks the church to abandon Catholic principals and beliefs; it is an abridgement of the First Amendment; it is not acceptable. They say they will not bow to it. They should never bow to it, not only because they are Catholic and cannot be told to take actions that deny their faith, but because they are citizens of the United States.
If they stay strong and fight, they will win. This is in fact a potentially unifying moment for American Catholics, long split left, right and center. Catholic conservatives will immediately and fully oppose the administration’s decision. But Catholic liberals, who feel embarrassed and undercut, have also come out in opposition.

The church is split on many things. But do Catholics in the pews want the government telling their church to contravene its beliefs? A president affronting the leadership of the church, and blithely threatening its great institutions? No, they don’t want that. They will unite against that.
The smallest part of this story is political. There are 77.7 million Catholics in the United States. In 2008 they made up 27% of the electorate, about 35 million people. Mr. Obama carried the Catholic vote, 54% to 45%. They helped him win.

They won’t this year. And guess where a lot of Catholics live? In the battleground states.
There was no reason to pick this fight. It reflects political incompetence on a scale so great as to make Mitt Romney’s gaffes a little bitty thing.

There was nothing for the president to gain, except, perhaps, the pleasure of making a great church bow to him.

Enjoy it while you can. You have awakened a sleeping giant.

Stuff Catholic Girls Say

This is really funny!  Girl is cute too.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

How the HHS Mandate Will Help Conservatives

The HHS contraception mandate may well be the best thing to happen to social conservatives in a long time.  Why do I say that?  In all likelihood one of two things will happen:

A. Obama gives in to pressure and cancels the mandate.  Catholic institutions are safe and liberal Catholics may think twice before giving Obama their vote.

B. Obama refuses to cancel the mandate, he loses the Catholic vote and with it the election.  As soon as President Romney is sworn in, he reverses the contraception mandate.

As far as I can see, it's a win-win.