Friday, February 04, 2005

Who Can Marry Who in New York  

The Evangelical Outpost has a nice analysis of the legal case in New York that opens the door for gay marriage... and even more. I believe it is President Bush's position that a Marriage Amendment is needed because activist judges are overruling -- actually superseding -- the legislature and unbalancing the balance of power our country was founded upon.

Those in favor of how the judges are acting refer to laws against the races marrying, but I've never found that persuasive since various races of men and women have been marrying in all manner of cultures all over the world -- forever... but where are the examples of all the cultures all over the world where men marry men and live apart from women & vice versa?

Judges are not protecting the civil rights of gays, they are redefining words.

The Newton Project 

Put on your seatbelt, it's going to be a bumpy ride. I say that because over the next couple of years, I look for the world to be inundated with the religious writings of Isaac Newton. A long-standing project has been transcribing Newton's Latin texts on Religion and Alchemy into books and onto the web. I think Indiana University even has a piece of the pie, transcribing Newton's writings on Alchemy. Newton published his Math and Science books to great acclaim, but he kept his religious writings secret for fear of persecution. Newton's writings were in private hands for a couple of centuries, only coming to light when they were auctioned off in 1939 (I believe that date is correct). Newton's contemporaries thought he suffered a mental breakdown over the last years of his life and one result of that was his controversial religious writings. Today, though, I can already see the headlines about Newton being misunderstood, having to hide, being ahead of his time, of the world not being ready for his genius.

Newton is rightly considered a genius; his invention of Calculus and his forays into optics and thermodynamics, etc. were, and are, breathtaking. But Newton wrote far more (far, far more) about religion. He believed, for example, that his discoveries were re-discoveries of an original ancient wisdom that Noah preserved from the flood, but was later lost. Newton calculated the end of the world would be in the year 2060 from his examinations of Revelations and Daniel. Newton was no atheist, he had no doubt there is a God, but he believed the Bible was corrupted over the centuries and he did not believe that Jesus was divine. Newton believed the concept of the Trinity, with Jesus as Son, was created and forced wrongly into church dogma. In this, I suspect there will be a large audience of Dan Brown readers eager for more bashing of Christianity, and a world media more than happy to assist. Look for stories, yet in 2005, about the painstaking efforts Newton went to to accurately uncover the history of the early Christian faith.

Update: Click here to read an article from a couple of years ago about the Newton Project. Here's an excerpt:
The image of Newton as the great rational thinker was created after his death--Newton was actually a puritanical zealot, a secret heretic who raged against the Anglican Church, delighted in the suffering of Catholics and felt God had given him special powers. "What has been coming out over the past 10 years is what an apocalyptic thinker Newton was," says the documentary's producer, Malcolm Neaum. "He spent something like 50 years and wrote 4,500 pages trying to predict when the end of the world was coming.

Could you Hide that Cross, Please 

The State Senate in Raleigh, North Carolina is arguing over having Bibles and Crosses in the legislative chapel. A Democrat ordered them removed and a Republican stayed that order... the article says the items might best be kept in a drawer.

I think some fish graffiti on the walls might be nice.

Death Row in Connecticut 

You may have read about the pending Connecticut execution of Michael Ross, a contributor to several Catholic papers and magazines. Ross said he was ready to die and didn't want any appeals. It appears that a judge has stepped in and threatened the defense lawyer with a grievance (I heard elsewhere the judge demanded the defense appeal or else he would see to it that the defense lawyer was removed from the bar). In addition, the inmates on Connecticut's death row have begun a hunger strike to complain about the depressing conditions.

I don't think it's the judge's job to force the defense to appeal, but the country seems to be moving away from capital punishment and I also wouldn't want to be the last judge in Connecticut to preside over killing a killer.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Humanae Vitae: Infallible? 

I ran across an interesting news site called "LifeSite" which had an article about ongoing conflict in the Catholic Church over "Humanae Vitae" issues. Here's a little piece:
Catholic Church watchers have not seen this much open dissent by high-level clergy since the publication of the encyclical Humanae Vitae. Pope Paul VI’s 1968 letter affirming the Church’s traditional teaching on contraception caused a wave of open rebellion in some countries, especially in western, developed nations, even of some entire national episcopal conferences, including that of the Canadian bishops. Despite the astonishing accuracy of Paul VI's warnings about the devastation to the moral order that would result from a contraceptive culture, opposition to Church moral teachings is still entrenched in many Catholic quarters.
And the article goes on to discuss many types of sexual protests ongoing within the church all over the world.

I understand, from our RCIA class, that the Pope can teach infallibly from the throne (ex cathedra). I also understand that this hasn't been done since 1950 when the dogma of the Assumption of Mary into heaven was stated by Pope Pius XII. Is it wrong to pray for John Paul II to make it clear that Humanae Vitae is infallible dogma of the Catholic Faith? Or, if you read the link just prior, is it even necessary that he do so?
The mere possibility of Humanae Vitae's being an ex cathedra statement is often scornfully dismissed by referring to the fact that Monsignor Ferdinando Lambruschini, the Vatican spokesman who announced the encyclical to the press and the world, said that it was not infallible. As a matter of fact Lambruschini was not authorized to say any such thing, as is evidenced by the fact that this remark was conspicuously omitted from the Osservatore Romano report of his statement the following day. However, the main point is not whether or not there is historical evidence that the Pope was pleased or displeased with Lambruschini's remark. The main point is that, from a serious theological point of view, his remark is irrelevant. In an age when our consciousness is largely dominated by the mass media, comments by people such as press spokesmen receive an exaggerated importance at times. A moment's reflection ought to make it clear that such a grave issue as the infallibility or non-infallibility of a pontifical document could never be decided simply by reference to the mere ipse dixit of a decidedly non-infallible press spokesman! Indeed - strange as this may seem at first sight - it could never be decided even by seeking out independent historical evidence as to whether or not Pope Paul himself considered Humanae Vitae to be infallible.
Just how does the church decide which statements are infallible and which are not? Read it all, when you have time.

Retire the Pope? 

The New York Post (and I also saw a mention of this at The Corner) is saying the Vatican plans to retire future Popes at a certain, given age. (I think Cardinals are asked to submit their resignation at age 75, if I'm not mistaken, but those resignations don't have to be accepted.)

I disagree with this completely. I was just writing, yesterday, about how different it is for the world watching the ailing Pope John Paul II compared to how the world watched Johnny Carson or Ronald Reagan before they passed away. If you retire Popes, you will ignore and never focus upon their end-of-life "passion" -- a "passion" we may all go through one day. If Pope John Paul II had been forced out at 75, or when his health became worse, his suffering would be no different at all, but the world would know no more about it than we knew of Johnny Carson's. There is much to be learned from John Paul II even yet. Let's not shuffle future Popes off to the side so the next generation can ignore end-of-life issues.

Update: Cardinal Angelo Sodano mentions the Pope's conscience with respect to retirement.

Update II: Pope John Paul II was minutes from death.

Eason Jordan of CNN 

Eason Jordan, the CNN news executive who is reported to have claimed US soldiers specifically targeted and killed journalists, is now saying that the whole thing is a quibble about the meaning of "collateral damage" vs. the meaning of "targeted" versus the meaning of "friendly fire."

I'll wait for the transcript, as I said yesterday, but I did get one of those mass CNN mailings saying Jordan's comments are being misunderstood. I wish some journalist with spunk would just go ask Barney Frank about it.

Update: Hugh Hewitt has an email interview with the man who started this whole deal. I particularly like the way this man thinks:
This issue is turning into a right vs. left agenda issue, a lynch mob against Eason Jordan issue, and feeding into many different agendas. I hope that any news media (bloggers, print, major, minor) covering this can respect my original intent which was to not leave this kind of allegation hanging in the air, but to carry it through to the point where the truth is known, and known to all sides.
That's journalistic thinking.

Update: The New York Sun writes about the Eason Jordan matter.

Means Testing vs. Personal Accounts 

Micky Kaus says that if we do means testing for benefits, then Social Security wouldn't need personal accounts because that's the largest and only fix that's needed. But what is "means testing" but a decision not to pay out to those who can get by without the money? In other words, a decision not to pay out to a large portion of the people who paid in. In other words, "means testing" is a straight 14% tax on the wealthy to pay for the retirement of the poor.

I've been of the opinion for a long time that I can't count on social security, but I haven't made the leap from that to the idea of being locked out and yet still forced to pay in. I'm saving for my retirement & hope to be able to get by without social security -- that would be a lot easier if I could opt out now and move my social security tax into my retirement fund.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

What a Moment! 

The mother of a fallen marine hugs a daughter of free Iraq whose father was killed by Saddam... during the State of the Union Address.

Update: Read John Podhoretz' take on "the hug".

Update: Fox and Friends this morning seemed upset about the Democrat boos and hisses during the State of the Union Address last night... saying they couldn't remember such a thing ever happening. Well, I'm sure I do remember. In fact, I'd say that the party out of power more often boos and hisses at the State of the Union than not. I remember it under Reagan and I remember the Republicans doing it under Clinton.

JP II and JC 

You can check on the Pope's health/schedule here.

OK, so the "JC" I'm talking about is Johnny Carson, not Jesus. It occurred to me this evening, when I saw a report on the health of Pope John Paul II, that the press corps were not hanging out around outside Johnny Carson's home, waiting for him to die so they would have a story. The press didn't hang around Ronald Reagan's place, either, to the extend they are following John Paul II at the hospital. Why are they doing this to John Paul II? What must it feel like to know the press hounds are outside your window waiting, probably hoping, for a story that doesn't end well. (Strike that... I have no doubt the story of Pope John Paul II will end well no matter what.) Why must the press act like vultures, circling endlessly.

Well, they circle because there will be a successor and a lot of people both care about John Paul II and about who will be chosen to succeed him. Johnny C. had no successor. Reagan's successor is already long gone from the white house. I think when the Queen of England passes away, the press will act like this. The Queen is dead, long live the King! What must it have been like in days of old when royalty passed away?

And this, in turn, made me think of Christ Crucified. What were the words on his cross? "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" -- but unlike Pope John Paul II and unlike the Queen of England... Jesus had no successor. Peter was the first pope, but Peter was not a successor, was he. The King lives.

Forever and ever, amen.

CNN News Chief:
US Military Targeted and Killed Journalists 

Hat tip: Hugh Hewitt.

Eason Jordan, Executive Vice President and Chief News Executive for CNN, claimed that the US Military purposefully targeted and killed journalists during the Iraq War. He did not say this in some back room or in some secret memo, he said this in an open forum with US Congressmen and foreign VIPs on live TV for distribution to the world. He said this at the World Economic Forum session on "Will Democracy Survive the Media." (Not if CNN can help it!) From the report, which you can click on above:
Eason Jordan asserted that he knew of 12 journalists who had not only been killed by US troops in Iraq, but they had in fact been targeted. He repeated the assertion a few times, which seemed to win favor in parts of the audience (the anti-US crowd) and cause great strain on others.

Due to the nature of the forum, I was able to directly challenge Eason, asking if he had any objective and clear evidence to backup these claims, because if what he said was true, it would make Abu Ghraib look like a walk in the park. David Gergen was also clearly disturbed and shocked by the allegation that the U.S. would target journalists, foreign or U.S. He had always seen the U.S. military as the providers of safety and rescue for all reporters.

This is the same Eason Jordan who wrote "The News we Kept to Ourselves" in the New York Times about how CNN did not report on the human rights abuses of Saddam so that Saddam would allow CNN to stay in the country and keep reporting (nothing).

Perhaps Eason was refering to this event? when the USA fired a tank shell at the Palestine Hotel and three journalists were killed when the soldiers believed they were under fire. Lower in the article is this note:

In related developments, Reporters Without Borders voiced its concern that a CNN crew’s security escort returned fire with an automatic weapon when the crew came under fire near Tikrit. CNN has been using a private security firm to protect some its crews. The use of firearms is a practice contrary to all the rules of the profession, the organization said.

“Such a practice sets a dangerous precedent that could jeopardize all other journalists covering this war as well as others in the future,” Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Robert Menard said. “There is a real risk that combatants will henceforth assume that all press vehicles are armed,” he warned.

So, even though Mr. Jordan backpeddled when challenged on whether the US military killed journalists on purpose, even though Mr. Jordan claimed, when challenged, that he didn't believe what he, himself, had just said to an international audience, the universe of anti-americanism was given a gift by one of the largest news agencies in the world... Eason Jordan's statement that the United States of American targets and kills journalists on purpose. We'll see how that plays on Arab TV.

Update: Eason Jordan is doing some damage control through blogs and personal contacts... but I'll wait for the transcript.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Bill Moyers' Tomorrow 

I imagine most people who surf around to Catholic or Christian or Conservative blogs have already seen plenty of comments on Bill Moyers' recent article, "There is no Tomorrow" in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Moyers argues that Christians believe that the world will end and there will be heaven on earth, therefore, Christians really want the world to end, therefore Christians in Government are a very bad thing because they will all support end-of-the-world policies on the environment, war, etc.

Since Moyers was born and raised in Texas, I imagine he had Christian roots... just a guess. I was reading G.K. Chesterton's "The Everlasting Man" the other day and really liked this part:
The best relation to our spiritual home (Christianity) is to be near enough to love it. But the next best is to be far enough away not to hate it. It is the contention of these pages that while the best judge of Christianity is a Christian, the next best judge would be something more like a Confucian. The worst judge of all is the man now most ready with his judgments; the ill-educated Christian turning gradually into the ill-tempered agnostic, entangled in the end of a feud of which he never understood the beginning, blighted with a sort of hereditary boredom with he knows not what, and already weary of hearing what he has never heard. He does not judge Christianity calmly as a Confucian would; he does not judge it as he would judge Confucianism. He cannot by an effort of fancy set the Catholic Church thousands of miles away in strange skies of morning and judge it as impartially as a Chinese pagoda. It would be better to see the whole thing as a remote Asiatic cult, then at least we should not lose our temper as some of the sceptical critics seem to lose their temper, not to mention their wits. Their anti-clericalism has become an atmosphere, an atmosphere of negation and hostility from which they cannot escape. It would be better to walk past a church as if it were a pagoda than to stand permanently on the porch, impotent either to go inside and help or to go outside and forget.

Yes, I think that fits Mr. Moyers to a tee... "already weary of hearing what he has never heard."

Help Me Accept 

Lord Jesus Christ, Bread of Life,
you take away the sins of the world,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
The time is nearing when I'll join you
in your last supper, the Eucharist.
Lord, help me accept the mystery
of your body and your blood;
help me accept your presence
in the wine and in the bread and
within me.

We talked all around commandments 6 and 9 at RCIA last night. It's a difficult topic, adultery and chastity, especially in our culture. We discussed how it will be to talk these issues out with a priest in Confession. We talked about Desperate Housewives ("there you go, just don't do any of that"). Our teacher made it clear that divorce does not mean you can't be a communing member of the Catholic Church -- it is re-marriage without an annulment that will result in that. We talked about birth control and infertility. Our teacher read John 8, about the woman taken in adultery. She pointed out that Jesus did not condemn the woman, but forgave her. She also read Romans 13:12-13
The night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy.

It was a good meeting, as all have been lately. We are nearing Lent and the final push is on to join the church at Easter. I need to accept the concepts I am still struggling to accept (see the opening prayer of this post) and spend more time in prayer getting ready.

Monday, January 31, 2005

The 6th and the 9th Commandments 

Congratulations Iraq!

At RCIA tonight, we will continue exploring the 10 Commandments. Tonight, we will cover the 6th and the 9th commandments: "Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery" and "Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor's Wife." Here are some of the questions we are supposed to ask ourselves about these two commandments:
  1. Have I denied my spouse his or her marriage rights?
  2. Have I practiced birth control?
  3. Have I abused my marriage rights in any other way?
  4. Have I committed adultery or fornication?
  5. Have I touched or embraced another impurely?
  6. Have I sinned with others of the same sex?
  7. Have I committed masturbation or otherwise sinned impurely with myself?
  8. Have I harbored lustful desires for anyone?
  9. Have I indulged in other impure thoughts?
  10. Have I failed to dress modestly?
  11. Have I done anything to provoke or occasion impure thoughts in others?
  12. Have I read indecent literature or looked at indecent pictures?
  13. Have I watched suggestive films or programs?
  14. Have I permitted my children or others under my charge to do these things?
  15. Have I used indecent language or told indecent stories?
  16. Have I willingly listened to such stories?
  17. Have I boasted of my sins?
  18. Have I sinned against chastity in any other way?
If that were an 18 question test, I would fail with a 44% grade. Happily, Reconcilliation is near and I can begin retaking the test with a clean slate.

We have a handout that says many people confuse "chastity" with "celibacy." Chastity is not the absence of sex, but the presence of a clean heart that leads to the proper use of sexuality. Chastity is about attitude -- like not exploiting others by treating them as objects. Chastity celebrates the value of a clean heart and pure intention. Chastity liberates us from lust and exploitation and the human destruction those two things cause.

Monday Review 

Amy Welborn has a nice idea for Monday mornings.

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