Thursday, May 31, 2012

If I Were a Heathen

This is one of my favorite poems.

The Song of the Strange Ascetic
by G.K. Chesterton

If I had been a Heathen,
I'd have praised the purple vine,
My slaves should dig the vineyards,
And I would drink the wine.
But Higgins is a Heathen,
And his slaves grow lean and grey,
That he may drink some tepid milk
Exactly twice a day.

If I had been a Heathen,
I'd have crowned Neaera's curls,
And filled my life with love affairs,
My house with dancing girls;
But Higgins is a Heathen,
And to lecture rooms is forced,
Where his aunts, who are not married,
Demand to be divorced.

If I had been a Heathen,
I'd have sent my armies forth,
And dragged behind my chariots
The Chieftains of the North.
But Higgins is a Heathen,
And he drives the dreary quill,
To lend the poor that funny cash
That makes them poorer still.

If I had been a Heathen,
I'd have piled my pyre on high,
And in a great red whirlwind
Gone roaring to the sky;
But Higgins is a Heathen,
And a richer man than I:
And they put him in an oven,
Just as if he were a pie.

Now who that runs can read it,
The riddle that I write,
Of why this poor old sinner,
Should sin without delight-
But I, I cannot read it
(Although I run and run),
Of them that do not have the faith,
And will not have the fun.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Diversity vs Community

A lot of people talk about the virtues of community and diversity.  What they do not seem to understand is that the two concepts are opposed to each other.  Communities are based on shared values and experience, whereas diversity arises from disparate values and experiences.  Generally, to be more diverse is to have weaker communities, and to have stronger communities is to have less diversity.

However, communities can include a variety of people provided that they share something that is greater than their differences.  For example, the temporal Church is one giant community that is subdivided into many smaller local communities.  The members of the Church seem to be diverse, but in the most important thing in their lives, religious faith, they are similar.  It is because of that shared faith that communities develop between people of disparate backgrounds.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Irish Abortions

The Journal reports,
Around 12 women a day travelled from Ireland to England and Wales last year to have terminations, new figures have revealed.

Since 1980 we know that at least 147,881 women travelled to Britain for abortion services.
Considering that there are only about 200 live births per day in Ireland, 12 daily abortions constitutes an abortion rate a little over 5%.  That's better than much of the rest of the world but it is still 5% too many.  Since 1980, British "doctors" have murdered so many Irish babies that they might soon surpass Cromwell's record of 200,000 Irish civilians killed or starved during his conquest.  The number of Irish woman receiving abortions is indicative of a cultural problem within Ireland.  Abortion is illegal there, yet it still occurs.  In countries such as the United States, where we fight to end abortion, we must remember that the legislative and judicial battle is secondary to the task of converting the culture of death to a culture of life.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The History of St. Benedict's Abbey

The monks of St. Benedict's Abbey in Atchison, Kansas have produced a neat documentary about the history of their community:

Monday, May 21, 2012

9/11 and the Islamic World

A study released last year by the Pew Research Foundation shows that most Muslims in Islamic countries do not believe that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by Arab Jihadists.  9/11 conspiracy theories are silly, but their prevalence in the Muslim world is encouraging.  The fact that most Muslims blame non-Muslims for the attacks indicates that they disprove of them.  After all, if Muslims thought that the attacks were justified, they would claim the attackers as their own.  Many Muslims do support Jihad and Sharia law in some form or another, but the fact that so many seemingly disapprove of the 9/11 attacks is a good sign.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Truth About Tin-Foil Hats

Some MIT students conducted an empirical analysis of tin-foil hats, and their supposed ability to prevent the government, aliens, or other nefarious groups from reading or controlling your mind.  Their results:
Using a $250,000 network analyser, we find that although on average all helmets attenuate invasive radio frequencies in either directions (either emanating from an outside source, or emanating from the cranium of the subject), certain frequencies are in fact greatly amplified. These amplified frequencies coincide with radio bands reserved for government use according to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). Statistical evidence suggests the use of helmets may in fact enhance the government's invasive abilities. We speculate that the government may in fact have started the helmet craze for this reason.
See the whole study here.

A new study critical of the MIT research is to be released soon by Dr. Walter Bishop.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Sex-Ed Absurdity

Our leaders in government and education are adamant that children receive sex-education classes.  By sex-ed, they don't mean lessons on the mechanics of sex, which is something that students learn in biology class, but rather a curriculum aimed at pregnancy and STD avoidance.  Some support programs that emphasize abstinence, while others advocate contraception.  What none of our "sex-educators" in the classroom or in Congress seem to realize is the horrifying implications of sex-ed.  If society and the family are so utterly broken that children need the state to instruct them in matters of sex, then pack your bags, hop on a boat and get the heck out of here because we are living in a dystopia!

If so many parents are incapable of informing their children that pregnancy is a result of sex and that sexually transmitted diseases are, well, sexually transmitted, then our civilization has obviously decayed so far that it cannot be salvaged.  The reason that I haven't relocated to Malta yet is that I don't think our society has reached the point of no return.  Sex-ed should be removed from the curriculum.  If it turns out that our civilization cannot survive without sexual instruction from the state, then it doesn't deserve to exist anyway.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Bishop Robert Morlino and Paul Ryan

H/T: Pundit and Pundette

The first half of the interview concerns Kathleen Sebelius' speech at Georgetown and Joe Biden on gay marriage.  In the latter half, Bishop Morlino says some great things about Paul Ryan, who is from his diocese.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Time-Lapse Map

This time-lapse map of Europe might be improved by a year counter but it is pretty cool nonetheless.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

George Wiegel on Faith and Public LIfe

George Wiegel delivered the commencement address at Benedictine College yesterday.  Read it at National Review Online.  An excerpt:

Appeals to the natural moral law we can know by reason underwrote the American civil rights revolution. Appeals to that same natural moral law underwrite the pro-life movement, the successor to the civil rights movement. And appeals to the natural moral law have underwritten U.S. international human rights policy for the past thirty years. Until, that is, December 2009, when the Secretary of State of the United States, in a speech at Georgetown University, emptied the concept of religious freedom of everything save the “freedom to worship” while asserting, in a catalogue of what she claimed were fundamental international human rights, that people “must be free…to love in the way they choose” — which “choice” must, presumably, be protected by international human rights covenants and national and local civil rights laws.

This speech, as things turned out, was one harbinger of an assault on religious freedom that continues to this day — an assault that imagines “religious freedom” to be a kind of “privacy right” to certain leisure-time activities, but nothing more than that. This dramatic misconception of religious freedom was evident in the present administration’s attempt to re-write federal employment law by dissolving the “ministerial exemption” that had long protected the integrity of religious institutions. It was evident in the administration’s refusal to continue funding the U.S. bishops’ efforts to help women who had been victims of sex-trafficking (because the Church refused to provide abortion as part of that work). And it has been most dramatically evident in the January HHS mandate that requires all employers (including religious institutions with moral objections and private-sector employers with religiously-informed moral objections) to facilitate the provision of contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortifacient drugs like Plan B and Ella to their employees.              

All of this suggests that one of the great challenges of your generation, my fellow-members of the Class of 2012 of Benedictine College, will be to rise to the defense of religious freedom in full.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Boston College Hosts a Heretic

The AP reports,
The widow of U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy will be giving a spring commencement speech at a Roman Catholic college in Massachusetts after all.

Boston College Law School announced Friday that Victoria Kennedy will give the keynote address at its May 25 commencement.

Kennedy had been scheduled to deliver this year's commencement speech at Anna Maria College in Paxton. But last month, the college withdrew the invitation under pressure from Bishop Robert McManus of the Diocese of Worcester.

McManus objected to Kennedy's public support for abortion rights and gay marriage, which are against church teachings.

On Friday, BC law Dean Vincent Rougeau said Kennedy has been a "powerful advocate for the powerless" on issues including gun control and education.
He said he was pleased Kennedy, a lifelong Catholic, agreed to offer her perspective to graduates.
A dissenter speaking at a "Catholic" university is commonplace, but this case is notable.  Boston College invited Mrs. Kennedy after her speaking invitation had been withdrawn by a different Catholic college at the insistence of Bishop McManus.  This should have been a more than adequate warning to Boston College that Mrs. Kennedy is not an acceptable choice for commencement speaker.

The excuses offered by Dean Rougeau are pathetic.  Mrs. Kennedy acts as an "advocate for the powerless" by supporting gun control?  If you really want to help the powerless, give them a Browning High-Power:
The Dean also praised Kennedy for supporting education, but who doesn't support education?  Education is swell, but it hardly outweighs Kennedy's advocacy for gay marriage and the mass murder of the unborn.  The leadership at Boston College are an example of the worst sort of liberal Catholics.  They think that people who affirm their pet theories about social justice are the good guys, even when they support terrible evil.

The Whittaker Chambers Prophecy

The great ex-Communist Whittaker Chambers said that for a nation to survive, it must not become "indifferent to God."  The implication of this statement are disturbing, for the Western World, Europe in particular, has become indifferent, even hostile to God.  The Soviet Union lost the Cold War, but I am not convinced that the West won.

From A Letter to my Children, the forward to the book Witness:

Communism is what happens when, in the name of Mind, men free themselves from God.  But its view of God, its knowledge of God, its experience of God, is what alone gives character to a society or a nation, and meaning to its destiny.  Its culture, the voice of this character, is merely that view, knowledge, experience, of God, fixed by its most intense spirits in terms intelligible to the mass of men.  There has never been a society or a nation without God.  But history is cluttered with the wreckage of nation that became indifferent to God and died.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

An Education

It has occurred to me recently that neither myself, nor my family, friends, or classmates could be considered educated in the classical sense.  Traditionally, an educated person was someone who had mastered Greek, Latin, Classical literature, and the literature of Christian Europe.  I have done none of those things and neither have the vast majority of people I know.  Someone like George Washington would consider us only partially educated.  How did is it that we have advanced so much in terms of knowledge but nobody seems to know anything?

I think that the fault is partly that of individuals and partly that of the education system.  Most people, myself included, don't want to go through all the trouble of learning classical languages, and we might not be very good at them anyway.  This is reflected in our education system, which has to serve everyone.  Egalitarianism always leads to utilitarianism, and when a large number of students are unwilling or unable to get a comprehensive education, that education will not be offered.

A classical education offers many advantages, especially to Christians.  Someone who knows the language and culture of the classical world can read the New Testament, the Septuagint and the Church Fathers in the original Greek and Latin, and can understand the world in which they were written and propagated.  To know the literature of Christendom is to know Christendom and one's own European cultural heritage.  For myself, and most of the people my age, it is too late.  We can only learn so much while making time for work, school, and other commitments.  However, our children will have a chance at a classical education.  If I am called to the vocation of marriage, I will make sure that my own children take advantage of that chance.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Finals Week

It's finals week so I won't be blogging for a little while.  I leave you all with a bit of news:

The villain in the next Star Trek movie will be Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!