Friday, January 31, 2020

Hip! Hip! HURRAH! for Brexit!

In June of 2016, I found myself almost wishing — almost — that I was a British subject, so that I too could vote YES for Brexit.  But I was more than compensated by being able to strike a blow against leftist statism in my own country in November of that same year, with a vote for Donald Trump that helped keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House.

Liberalism, socialism, communism — all varying shades of the same red hue — are everywhere being resisted, much to the distress of our ruling classes.  We have now a generation of adults too young to remember the end of the Cold War, when the Great Unwashed, sick of living under totalitarianism, and aided by Divine Providence, suddenly toppled the Berlin Wall and tore down the Iron Curtain.  The communists and socialists then only appeared to lose their taste for power.  They simply regrouped and changed tactics, aiming now to suffocate and despoil us, not with a boot on our necks, but with environmentalism and open borders and secular humanism and overweening paternal solicitude that sought to take over every aspect of our lives, lest we make messes of them.  But, sadly for our Elders and Betters, we of the Great Unwashed aspire to a high standard of living, the preservation of our own cultures, languages, communities and Christianity, and keeping control of our own local and personal affairs. Thus, we push back even against this kinder, gentler despotism.  Brexit is part of this pushback.

And the United Kingdom will be just fine — nay, better than fine — without the European Union, which is just the Soviet Union with velvet upholstery.  It is absurd to wonder how, after having previously lived for century upon century on its own in its various forms and configurations, until less than five decades ago, the UK is to survive without this upstart foreign body.  It will survive.

The best thing the UK could do would be to return to the Catholic faith of its forebears; but every step in the right direction is a good step and worthy of celebration.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Remembering a Warrior for Life 47 Years after Roe v. Wade

I posted this originally on April 26, 2011, after the death of Phoebe Ann Laub, known to countless fans as Phoebe Snow.  As we stop to remember the grim day when abortion became legal in the United States, and the millions who have died in the wake of Roe v. Wade, it seems fitting to remember a woman whose whole life was a reproach to the culture of death. 

I don't know what Phoebe Snow's political affiliation was, or whether she voted for Obama, or what her views were about abortion on demand.  I can't recall ever hearing that she marched or picketed or made speeches or was otherwise active on the political scene.  

But I do know that she sacrificed everything for her little girl.

Phoebe's classic "Poetry Man" reached the top 5 on the pop charts in 1975.  But when Valerie Rose was born that same year with severe brain damage, Phoebe chose to care for her at home rather than put her in an institution.  Through lawsuits, financial distress, and even desertion by her husband, Phoebe kept Valerie with her -- until Valerie's death in 2007.  Under her mother's care, the baby whom nobody expected to survive more than a few years lived to be 31.  "Occasionally I put an album out, but I didn't like to tour, and they didn't get a lot of label support," Phoebe once remarked in an interview. "But you know what? It didn't really matter because I got to stay home more with Valerie, and that time was precious."

Phoebe Snow's name may not have come up much at pro-life rallies, but she was still a giant in the war for life.  She lived it.  For 31 years, she kept her daughter safe from the vultures of "compassion."  With every fiber of her being, Phoebe Snow beat back the assault of the culture of death.  After so many decades of sacrificial love, it is perhaps not surprising that this devoted mother should not long survive the daughter for whom she poured herself out.

I don't know what Phoebe Snow thought about Roe v. Wade.  But I think I can guess.  R.I.P.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

On Opinions without Credentials

There is this insidious idea making the rounds to the effect that a lack of credentials is itself a credential.  People opine boldly, vehemently and publicly on matters like theology and canon law with little to no formal training in these fields.  We see this particularly in connection with some of those who give it as their considered opinion that Benedict XVI, not Francis, is the true Pope.  Some advocates of this position acknowledge and even revel in their lack of credentials in the fields relevant to this issue.  Some even go as far as to assert that, since the evidence in support of their conclusions is so blindingly obvious, the rejection of their opinions is tantamount to heresy and blasphemy.

What is the basis for thinking that a lack of credentials is itself a credential?  There seems to be this anti-elitist elitism, a proletarian pride that turns ignorance into a virtue and education into a vice.  It assumes bad faith on the part of the educated, and on the part of educators.  It assumes that the system of acquiring credentials is hidebound, corrupt, and invested in nothing more than furthering its own interests, while the untrained commentator, unspoilt by the taint of any Establishment agenda, is able to see truths that no one inside the Establishment can see.  It allows the anti-elitist elitist to entertain the possibility — indeed, the probability — that, because they are outsiders to the field in which they pronounce judgment, they may well be God’s instruments in bringing about True Reform.  It allows the anti-elitist elitist to dismiss the disagreement of persons with actual credentials as the product of jealousy, self-interest, or a simple unwillingness to face the truth.

I have mentioned previously in this space my frustration with people who will not listen to my legal opinions or take my advice when these don’t chime with what they want to hear.  I will not impute to them the same bad faith and criminal stupidity that they impute to me, to my face and in the most hateful language; but it is clear that they are the ones who suffer from closed minds and blindness to the truth.  They are like the anti-elitist elitists, who, the more wedded they are to their theories, the less likely they are to listen to real experts who disagree with them.

It is true that sometimes God chooses persons who are not expert, educated or even very intelligent to work His purposes; but He doesn’t always.  The Fathers of the early Church were extremely learned men.  Saints Albert the Great, Thomas Aquinas, Alphonsus Liguori, Thomas More — all exceedingly educated, and exceedingly holy.  Alphonsus Liguori and Thomas More were lawyers.  These saints all had their particular genius; but even with all their gifts, they still studied hard and diligently.  In other words, since grace builds on and perfects nature, they still had to gain their expertise the old-fashioned way: by hard work.

What about the persons without credentials that God chooses as His instruments?  There are certainly examples in the history of the Church.  Saints Catherine of Siena and Therese of Lisieux lacked academic credentials, yet today are acclaimed as Doctors of the Church.  The Cure of Ars was a failure as a student, but outstanding in holiness as a priest.  St. Bernadette Soubirous was an ignorant shepherd girl from a dirt-poor family who conveyed heaven’s ratification of the dogmatic definition of the Immaculate Conception, even though she did not understand what it meant.  And there was never anyone less qualified to lead armies in battle than St. Joan of Arc, yet she led the French army to victory and secured the true king of France on his throne.

But notice that when God uses these little ones, He crowns their efforts with authentic signs and wonders, to prove that they really are working for Him.  Catherine of Siena wielded enormous influence for good with the Pope.  Therese of Lisieux secured her religious vocation at a very early age, against the odds.  The Cure of Ars had to spend many hours a day in the confessional because  everyone recognized him as a holy priest.  Bernadette Soubirous uncovered a spring of miraculous healing.  Joan of Arc had gifts of prophecy and discernment, led armies to victory and confounded her persecutors.  When someone without credentials or qualifications pronounces judgment on subjects  such as who is the true Pope, consider how often he has been right about other things.  One particularly outspoken proponent of the theory that Benedict XVI is still the true Pope, for example, declared that Donald Trump was only running for president in order to dress up his resume, that he wasn’t serious about running, and predicted that he would throw the election.  Then when he didn’t throw the election, she admitted that she had erred but opined that Trump was a dim bulb who was in way over his head and was on his way out.  Three years later, Trump has so successfully confounded his enemies, and has so far advanced the cause of Christian civilization in his administration, that the Democrats have launched a bogus impeachment proceeding to try to remove him from office.

There is nothing wrong with not having credentials.  But there is something wrong with making a lack of credentials into a credential of its own.  There is nothing wrong with the fact that not everyone is qualified to render judgments about everything.  But there is something wrong with not sticking to what you know when it comes to holding forth on a subject that has implications for the well-being of souls.  Credentials are not dispositive all by themselves: it is true that there are idiots out there with degrees and licenses.

But when someone declares an opinion on an important subject, credentials are relevant.  If there is some indication that someone has poured blood, toil, tears and sweat into acquiring credentials in some subject, it may be that that person’s opinion on that subject counts for more than that of someone who did not put that kind of work into it.

On Opinions With Credentials

If you find yourself disturbed by people who are trying to beat you over the head with their opinion that Pope Francis cannot possibly be the true Pope, listen to what a bishop and professor of patristics has to say on the subject of a heretical Pope.

Bishop Athanasius Schneider: On the Question of a Heretical Pope

Thursday, January 02, 2020

To Start Off the New Year: Some Facts We Can’t Deny

- Having vehemence, eloquence, passion and charisma does not mean you are right.  Adolf Hitler possessed all of those characteristics.

- Only legitimate authority can command our obedience.  We are not required to obey authority figures when they exceed the scope of their authority.  Sometimes, we even have a duty to disobey, since no one, not even the Pope, has the authority to command us to sin.

- It is a curious but undeniable fact that, by pursuing our own legitimate interests, within the bounds of the moral law, we make it possible for others to pursue theirs.  When we work to make an honest living, we create goods and services that others want and need yet lack the ability to produce efficiently on their own, and so provide them with the means of making their own honest living.  Some people are talented enough to make extra, which enables them to exercise greater than average generosity to others who cannot provide for themselves.  Everyone engaging in honest pursuits bestows on society as a whole the benefits of order, peace and tranquility — which in turn further enhance our ability to pursue our own legitimate interests.

- Where there is no private property, it is impossible for people to pursue their legitimate interests.

- The common good is greater than the good of an individual; yet it does not rule out the good of individuals.

- The purpose of the Second Amendment is, purely and simply, to prevent tyranny.  It is a mark of tyrants — whether in the government or in the conference of Catholic bishops — that they seek to disarm the populace.

- The reason we are afraid to do the right thing is because we don’t trust in God and His providence.  It’s no more complicated than that.

- Worrying about things we can’t control takes away both our energy and our motivation to deal with things we can control.  Failing to deal with the things we can control may well bring about the very results we fear when we worry about the things we can’t control.

- Jesus truly is present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in that tiny Host that is confected on the altar in the Catholic Mass.  If you dismiss the Real Presence as medieval superstition, then consider that some of the most gifted minds mankind has ever produced over the last two thousand years have believed in it.  This side of Jesus and Mary, there has probably never been a greater intellectual than Thomas Aquinas, and he wrote some of the most beautiful paeans to the Blessed Sacrament that ever flowed from the pen of man.

- And speaking of superstition, I doubt if there was ever an epoch in human history that was less superstitious than the Middle Ages, or an epoch more superstitious than the one, still ongoing, that was ushered in by Martin Luther.

- What sign of the Zodiac you were born under has absolutely nothing to do with who you are or what your life will be like.  The Zodiac is nothing more than the stars that lie along the celestial equator, a tool for mapping out the night sky.  Your destiny is not controlled by the motions of celestial bodies.  The destruction of any one of them outside our solar system would have zero practical impact on your life.  In fact, since most of them are so far away that we are only seeing them as they looked centuries ago, it is possible that some of them do not even exist anymore.

- We currently have a bad Pope.  The evidence for this is undeniable, and it is not virtuous to try to deny what is right in front of our faces.  Yet, while the Pope is the touchstone of Christian unity, he is not, and should not be, the center of our everyday lives.  The Catholic Church is much bigger than the Pope, and not even a bad Pope can destroy her.

- Pope Francis embodies the sort of absolutism that the Church’s enemies have always falsely ascribed to the papacy itself.  Interestingly, however, these same enemies like Pope Francis and embrace him as one of their own.  This proves that it is not absolutism that they object to: in their book, in fact, anything less than absolutism in the service of their pet ideologies is treason.  What they really object to is the authentic content of the Catholic faith, so they favor Pope Francis to the extent he seems to represent a rupture from Catholicity.

- If there is a silver lining to the dark cloud of the current pontificate, it is that the enemies of the Church, both within and without, are now showing their true colors.  This is because they think that they are now having their Big Mo.  The same thing is happening, by the way, in the secular world.  President Trump is exposing the enemies of America and all the good things for which she stands by overturning the order which the entrenched political elites have set up for their own enrichment.  God is allowing all the poisons that lurk in the mud to hatch out.

I would like to close with my favorite quote from George Neumayr, a Catholic reporter who has devoted much of his career to exposing corruption within the Church:
Be as wise as serpents and gentle as doves, Jesus Christ told his disciples. In dealing with enemies, in other words, prudence is not a vice and stupidity is not a virtue. 

The First Post of 2020