Archbishop Fulton Sheen on the Silver Screen

Saturday, July 31, 2010 \PM\.\Sat\.

A new documentary on the life of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen will be shown in movie theaters as pre-release screenings.  It will also be available in DVD format (TBD).

A brief synopsis of the film is provided by the distributor (with minor editing):

“Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen: Servant of All” is a one-hour documentary that tells the story of Sheen and the tremendous impact he had on individuals, the Catholic community, the American public, and the world. Divided into five main sections, the film uses still images, video footage and interviews with those who knew Sheen to tell the story of this remarkable man, gifted teacher, missionary, priest, and loyal son of the Church.

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The $1 Million Chelsea Clinton Wedding

Saturday, July 31, 2010 \PM\.\Sat\.

The estimated cost of Chelsea Clinton’s wedding this evening is $1 million* and that is a very low estimate.

Obscene, simply obscene.

Talk about failing in the cardinal virtues of prudence and temperance.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

Saturday, July 31, 2010 \AM\.\Sat\.

Something for the weekend.  The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.  Not period music of course, but few songs better evoke the despair of Confederates in the aftermath of defeat.  The above version is the original one sung by The Band.  Here is the version that became the signature song of Joan Baez.


The Varieties of Civil Disobedience

Friday, July 30, 2010 \PM\.\Fri\.

The 1849 essay “Resistance to Civil Government”, better known as “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience”, by Henry David Thoreau is one of the most influential writings of the 19th century. Written to expound Thoreau’s ideas on resistance to a U.S. government that at the time permitted slavery and was waging an unpopular war against Mexico, the essay inspired other famous activists, most notably Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, to espouse the notion of changing unjust laws and government policies through active but non-violent resistance.

In this media-driven age civil disobedience seems to have taken on yet another meaning. Today it most often refers to instances in which activists for a particular cause engage in public lawbreaking (usually trespassing or blocking access to public facilities) designed primarily to attract attention and/or provoke authorities into arresting them.

As a result we have actions such as PETA’s public displays of nudity and their attacks upon fur wearers; Greenpeace’s placement of banners in unauthorized locations; anti-war protesters trespassing upon, vandalizing or defacing military installations or missile sites; abortion clinic blockades; gay activists disrupting Catholic Masses; and pro-life activist Randall Terry’s entering the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last fall and tearing up a copy of the 2,000-page healthcare bill, all being characterized as “civil disobedience” in the tradition of Thoreau, Gandhi, and King.

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CivAnon: There is Help

Friday, July 30, 2010 \AM\.\Fri\.

No, this isn’t a McClarey home video.  My wife actually is the one who plays Civilization currently each day, while I would never go into raptures over Otto von Bismarck in a game.  How juvenile.  Now Abraham Lincoln on the other hand…

No, with the coming in September of Civilization V,

Read the rest of this entry »



Anne Rice Breaks Up With Christianity

Thursday, July 29, 2010 \PM\.\Thu\.

I quit being a Christian. I’m out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of …Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.

And with that announcement, Anne Rice publicly renounced her identity as a Christian on Facebook.

I’m compelled to wonder, however — who is the more preferable and honest of the two?

  • The “Anne Rice”‘s of the world — who recognize their open disagreement with traditional [Catholic / Orthodox] Christianity, and agree that they can no longer identify themselves as such because the moral positions they hold are fundamentally incompatible?
  • The “Nancy Pelosi”‘s of the world, who publicly repudiate various traditional moral positions of [Catholic / Orthodox] Christianity, yet simultaneously proclaim themselves “practicing Catholics” (up and including the reception of the Eucharist), and yet relegate their disagreements as “differences of opinion”?

Victory! Dr. Ken Howell Reinstated at the University of Illinois!

Thursday, July 29, 2010 \PM\.\Thu\.

Dr. Kenneth Howell, the adjunct professor at the University of Illinois who was fired for teaching Catholic doctrine regarding homosexuality in a class on Catholicism has been reinstated by the University.  Here is the press release from the Alliance Defense Fund that represented Dr. Howell:

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana confirmed to Alliance Defense Fund attorneys Thursday that it will once again allow popular professor Dr. Kenneth Howell to teach on Catholicism after recently firing him for explaining the Roman Catholic Church’s position on human sexual behavior to members of his class.

ADF attorneys representing Howell sent a letter to university officials on July 12 explaining that the university’s actions violated his rights protected by the First Amendment and asked that he be reinstated.

“A university cannot censor professors’ speech–including classroom speech related to the topic of the class–merely because certain ideas ‘offend’ an anonymous student. We greatly appreciate the university’s move to put Professor Howell back in the classroom, but we will be watching carefully to make sure that his academic freedom is protected throughout the university’s ongoing process,” said ADF Senior Counsel David French.

A letter from the University of Illinois Office of University Counsel admits no wrongdoing on the part of the university but states, “The School of Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics will be contacting Dr. Howell to offer him the opportunity to teach Religion 127, Introduction to Catholicism, on a visiting instructional appointment at the University of Illinois, for the fall 2010 semester. Dr. Howell will be appointed and paid by the University for this adjunct teaching assignment.”

The letter then adds that a university committee will continue its investigation of Howell’s situation.

Howell, who had been teaching at the university since 2001, was relieved of his teaching duties based in part on an anonymous complaint sent via e-mail to university officials. The e-mail was sent by the friend of an anonymous student who claimed to be “offended” by a May 4 e-mail Howell sent to students elaborating on a class discussion concerning Catholic beliefs about sexual behavior.

The May 4 e-mail from Howell addressed a May 3 lecture in which he explained how the Roman Catholic Church distinguishes between same-sex attraction and homosexual conduct. He accurately stated the church’s teaching that homosexual conduct is morally wrong, framing the issue in the context of natural moral law.

Read the rest of this entry »


Sneak Peak At There Be Dragons Movie Trailer

Thursday, July 29, 2010 \PM\.\Thu\.

UPDATE at the BOTTOM

The famous director of the movies The Mission and The Killing Fields, Roland Joffe, has just released a trailer teaser to his new film he is producing that encapsulates the early life of Saint Josemaria Escriva.

The film is about a news reporter investigating the life of his father where he discovers that his father was a lifelong friend of Saint Josemaria Escriva.

Read the rest of this entry »


Why I Favor Cap and Trade

Thursday, July 29, 2010 \AM\.\Thu\.

Lest anyone draw the wrong conclusion from my last post, I should add that I actually favor cap and trade, for the reasons laid out here by Tyler Cowen:

1. Even if we cut government spending a lot, some taxes will have to go up. This seems like the least bad tax to raise or create, since it has some chance of producing a better outcome. It’s hard to say that about most of the other potential tax boosts. I’d also cut the tax deduction for mortgage interest, of course. That too could improve the quality of outcomes.

3. A carbon tax might lead to a new green technology, with high upfront costs and low marginal costs. Some of the rest of the world might then adopt the technology, even if those countries don’t ever adopt a carbon tax. In the short run this seems a little pie-in-the-sky, but in the longer run is it so crazy? Haven’t the Chinese adopted most of our other technological innovations?

Read the rest of this entry »


Intolerance in the Name of Tolerance

Thursday, July 29, 2010 \AM\.\Thu\.

Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.  In modern society those who prate the most about tolerance often tend to be the most intolerant.   Case in point, what is happening to Jennifer Keeton, a grad student at Augusta State College, studying to be a school counselor.  She is a Christian and believes that homosexual conduct is wrong.  Her faculty has decreed that she must undergo “sensitivity” (read re-education a la the Red Chinese) training to alter her views on homosexuality.  It was suggested that she go to a local gay pride march among other activities.

The Alliance Defense Fund, the same group representing Dr. Ken Howell, who ran afoul of the thought police at the U of I, is representing Keeton.  Go here to read about the lawsuit they have filed on her behalf.

Shockingly, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by a grad student, Julea Ward, at Eastern Michigan University who was faced with precisely the same situation facing Keenan.  Go here to read the details at the blogprof.  Go here to read the Alliance Defense Fund’s, which represented Ms. Ward, overview of the case and their intent to appeal the decision.

Read the rest of this entry »


Obama Zombies

Thursday, July 29, 2010 \AM\.\Thu\.

Hattip to Southern Appeal.  Hard to believe that the above video is actually pro-Obama rather than  a spoof.  It is produced by Campus Progress, a George Soros funded leftist group.  An odd thing about the video is the riff on Michael Jackson’s Thriller, a song that came out in 1982, long before most college students were born.  This would be rather like a leftist campus group in 1968 using “Big Band” music from 1940 to make a political ad.  Oh well, I guess it is easier to make a fairly useless video for Obama than dealing with the fact that young people searching for jobs that simply are not there are increasingly soured on the South Side Messiah.


President Obama At The Top Of His Game

Thursday, July 29, 2010 \AM\.\Thu\.

President Obama lacks a lot of substance.  Now his style is beginning to wear thin.

Unless you like an egotistical narcissist, then everything is hunky dory.


Margaritaville Christianity; God’s Way Or Our Way?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 \PM\.\Wed\.

As Europe emerged from the Dark Ages, a growing populace happy for good news and grateful for these positive turn of events in their lives openly and without apology made the Catholic faith the center of their lives. They believed in the Word of God, even if they couldn’t read or write. They hung on to every word of those who could read. Even during the workday, if at all possible those working in the fields would briefly slip into town to see the priest raise the Host during the Consecration at Mass. Though their lives were full of toil and often misery (they weren’t allowed the liberty of attending daily Mass) the people of this era used any opportunity they could to make religion a part of their daily life.

Fast forward a thousand years and we can certainly see that daily life has shifted some 180 degrees. Many of the elite often snicker or poke fun at those who are serious about their faith. Even those who are considered serious in their faith pursuit, often hide the true extent of their faith, for fear of being called a holy roller.

The secular talking heads tell us that we should be more like the modern world we are trying to help and change. Religion should be more like the popular culture they tell us. We should try to glean words of wisdom from thinkers like Voltaire, Marx, Freud and Alinsky and entertainers like Madonna, Lady Gaga or even Jimmy Buffet. Yet, have these secular talking heads ever taken their own advice? Have these leftists ever thought, “why was Pope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher so popular? What could we learned from them? “ (For more on this read my column, If You Like What The Political Left Has Done To Politics, Look At What The Religious Left Has Done To Religion (Left It In Tatters) along with my article, The Construct of Rebellion.

Some might say wasn’t Jesus somewhat of a cultural outcast, like modern day pop culture figures? Well Jesus certainly enjoyed some fun; otherwise he wouldn’t have been at the wedding feast performing his first miracle by turning water into wine no less. However, he was hardly the type of person that endorsed the “its Five o Clock somewhere lifestyle.” He forgave the woman caught in adultery, but told her to “sin no more.” Incidentally, she probably had more clothes on than some who show up at church on Sunday. However, that’s another story.

Our educated world makes excuses for the behavior of those pop stars like Lady Gaga who make edgy and sacrilegious videos and show up in public (at the New York Yankees club house) clad only in undergarments. Those illiterate peoples that lived in Europe one thousand years ago were smart enough to know that despite the corruption they knew existed in the Church, they were far better off listening to the Teachings of the Church than the whims of the world in which they lived. They and their forbearers had witnessed violent feudal warlords that had plunged Europe into centuries of horrific darkness; a darkness that we face today if we listen to the sirens of militant secularism who want us to return to the dying days of Rome.

We often forget it was in those dying days of Rome that many of the elites longed for the days of their elders, when Christianity was outlawed and orgies were commonplace at homes of the movers and shakers of Roman high society, and violent spectacles took place at the coliseum. Today their descendants are gaga over the likes of Lady Gaga, and treat abortion as if it were some sort of coming of age ritual. Read the rest of this entry »


A Story in Graphs

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 \PM\.\Wed\.

Once upon a time there was a country — it had its problems as any nation does, but it did well enough. Its people prided themselves on working hard, and they were comparatively well off: less so than the UK, more so than Spain and Italy.

They’d had the good fortune to have none of their infrastructure destroyed during World War II, and after the war they experienced a boom as an exporter. Things slowed, however, in the late 60s and early 70s. Some said this was because the rest of the world got better at growing their own food and manufacturing their own goods. Others said it was because they allowed too much immigration. Some said it was because the welfare programs they created in the 60s ate away at the motivation to work hard.  Others said it was because unions became weak. Whatever the reason, their average income in inflation adjusted terms grew much more slowly than it had, and there was a good deal of discontentment and disagreement as to what to do about it all and who was at fault. Here’s a graph of their average family income in inflation-adjusted US Dollars.

Read the rest of this entry »


Don’t Like Global Warming? Blame William of Ockham!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 \AM\.\Wed\.

In a recent post, my former co-blogger Morning’s Minion lays out an all-too-familiar list of what he views as the real culprits behind inaction on the issue of climate change:

(1) Gnosticism: Creation is evil, so why save it?

(2) Calvinism: Material success of a sign of virtue and divine favor, America is an exceptional country, and its citizens have the right to use natural resources as they see fit.

(3) Liberalism: The free market embodies efficiency and virtue – any interference diminishes freedom.

(4) Anti-intellectualism: Climate change – a “lib-uh-ral” conspiracy!

(5) Modernism: Man must become the master of nature and always better himself (for the latest version of this, see Ross Douthat: “a warmer world will also be a richer world”).

(6) Individualism: I have the right to my SUV, regardless of what is going on in Africa, and regardless of future generations.

(7) Nationalism: Why should America pay?

Of course, these ideologies are not necessarily consistent with each other, but they do spring from the same root – the nominalist revolution. Thanks a lot, William of Occam!

I know what you’re thinking. How is it that Manichaeism was left off the list? Is MM feeling under the weather or something? But that’s not important right now. My real question is: William of Occam? (or Ockham, or Hockham, or however you spell it) How did he become the climate criminal of the century? (was George Bush unavailable?)

Read the rest of this entry »


Take it out of Petty Cash

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 \AM\.\Wed\.

 

Thurston Howell III John Kerry agreed yesterday to pay 500k in sales tax  on  his yacht Isabel, which, as I detailed here, he had previously moored in Rhode Island in a transparent attempt to avoid these taxes.  Of course, I and the flying pig below are both convinced that Kerry would have paid the taxes even without the resulting furor when his tax avoidance scheme surfaced.


The Bell Revolt

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 \AM\.\Wed\.

Bell, California is the latest flashpoint in a growing taxpayer revolt.  A blue collar, mostly Hispanic town of 38,000, 10 miles southeast of Los Angeles, local residents were in a state of shock, which rapidly turned to blazing anger, after they learned that the Chief Administrative Officer of Bell, Robert Rizzo, “earned” a salary of $787, 637 per annum with annual 12 percent raises, the police chief Randy Adams “earned” $457,000 a year, while the Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia had to make do with a paltry $376, 288 each year.  The part time members of the city council each “earned” almost 100k a year. Read the rest of this entry »


Ideological Diversity

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 \PM\.\Tue\.

This will be short and bitter-sweet (yes, 500 words is short for me).

Evidently we at TAC have had the dubious honor of being recognized by the National Catholic Reporter, or one of its contributors at any rate, as “a little kookie.” That’s alright by me, since I’d rather be greatly kooky [is it kooky or kookie?] than to be even a little boring or unimaginative.

What is smugly dismissed as “kookiness” in this case, however, is the diversity of opinion we have here, as opposed to perhaps the rigid ideological uniformity of some other websites and blogs that I won’t name.

I’m not interested in defending or rejecting the positions that were criticized in the NCR, but I would like to defend the ideological diversity we have sought to foster here. We have our Reagan conservatives, our rather moderate conservatives, and a few left-of-centers. And there’s our resident Distributiarian (a rather disparaging term someone coined for my distributist-libertarian ideology that I choose to wear as a badge of honor).

Read the rest of this entry »


Jane Austen’s Fight Club

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 \PM\.\Tue\.

I knew I missed some interesting items when I couldn’t keep awake reading Sense and Sensiblity!


The Vast JournoList Conspiracy

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 \PM\.\Tue\.

UPDATED BELOW

The vast JournoList conspiracy can be called over-heated rhetoric.

But then again, facts get in the way.

The liberal staff writer for the Washington Post, Howard Kurtz, agrees with me on the left-leaning JournoList:

To conservatives, it is a pulling back of the curtain to expose the media’s mendacity.

To liberals, it is a selective sliming based on e-mails that were supposed to remain private.

But there is no getting around the fact that some of these messages, culled from the members-only discussion group Journolist, are embarrassing. They show liberal commentators appearing to cooperate in an effort to hammer out the shrewdest talking points against the Republicans — including, in one case, a suggestion for accusing random conservatives of being racist.

Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller site, which has been dribbling out the e-mails, drew fresh reaction Thursday with a piece about Journolist members savaging Sarah Palin. The former Alaska governor responded with a slam at the media’s “sick puppies,” saying she was confronted during the 2008 campaign by “hordes of Obama’s opposition researchers-slash-‘reporters.’ ” But the people making the most stridently partisan comments in the invitation-only group weren’t reporters at all — they were out-of-the-closet liberals acting like, well, liberals.

Read the rest of this entry »


Hobbesian Gun Control

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 \AM\.\Tue\.

I was struck by a passage out of this recent National Review piece by Keven D. Williamson in reference to gun control:

People have a visceral reaction to guns, which is why the reactions to the Supreme Court’s recent decision in McDonald v. City of Chicago have been so emotional. One extraordinarily telling reaction came from David Ignatius of the Washington Post, whose response was headlined: “The Supreme Court Gun Decision Moves Us Toward Anarchy.” Mr. Ignatius wrote: “My biggest worry with Monday’s Supreme Court decision is that by ruling, in effect, that every American can apply for a gun license, the justices will make gun ownership much more pervasive in a society that already has too many guns. After all, if I know that my neighbor is armed and preparing for Armageddon situations where law and order break down (as so many are — just read the right-wing blogs) then I have to think about protecting my family, too. That’s the state-of-nature, everyone for himself logic that prevails in places such as Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Mr. Ignatius here is remarkably forthcoming: Read the rest of this entry »


Caritas in Veritate 25, By the Numbers II

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 \AM\.\Tue\.

In yesterday’s post, we examined the claim, made by Pope Benedict in Caritas in Veritate 25, that globalization has led countries to deregulate their labor markets, which in turn has led to cuts in social spending. It turned out that the Pope’s first claim (that globalization led to deregulation) was consistent with the data, whereas his second claim (deregulation led to cuts in social spending) was not. Countries with freer labor markets tend, on average, to devote a greater percentage of GDP to social spending than do countries where labor markets are highly regulated (and, since countries with freer labor markets tend to be richer as well, the increase is even larger in absolute terms).

In addition to speaking of labor market deregulation, Caritas in Veritate also makes reference to countries adopting “favorable fiscal regimes” as a part of global competition, and suggests that this also has led to a decline in social spending. Evaluating these claims is a bit more difficult than evaluating the Pope’s claims about labor markets, because it is not entirely clear what the Pope has in mind when he speaks of “favorable fiscal regimes.”

One possibility is that the Pope is thinking here primarily about taxes, and that adopting a “favorable fiscal regime” consists in lowering taxes, particularly taxes on business, in order to attract foreign investment.

Read the rest of this entry »


Motivation and Performance

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 \AM\.\Tue\.

Hattip to the Acton Institute PowerblogDan Pink, the man behind the video, worked in the White House 1995-1997 as a speechwriter for Al Gore.  I doubt if he and I would agree on much of anything politically, but he is on target in this video.  Money as a motivator is useful only up to a point.  Granting employees as much autonomy as possible, and making them passionate about improving what they are doing at work, is obviously the goal of any wise employer.  How to accomplish this  is a good deal more difficult than Mr. Pink’s well done video indicates.  However, it is a good goal, and I know that with my employees I have always tried to grant them a great deal of autonomy, usually with good results, although some have indicated to me that they really preferred simply being told what to do and how to do it.

Of course there are other schools of thought regarding employee motivation: Read the rest of this entry »