Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Arab and/or Islamic Media Blind to Sudan Ethnic Cleansing

The Arab and/or the Islamic media is a fickle thing. With the exception of one or two scholars, no one in the English-speaking Arab or Muslim media, much less their clerics, have spoken out against the ethnic cleansing of Christians in Sudan. Heck, they also kept quiet when the Saddam and the Turks brutalized the Kurds - fellow Muslims may I add. I guess that when violence is perpetrated against the Palestinians - and no one denies they've also been brutalized - it's ok to be histerical, but when it's Muslim on Christian, or Arab on non-Arab violence, it's good and moral to erect a wall of silence to protect Arab and/or Islamic honor. Let us pray for these New Martyrs, that they may persevere during this hour of trial; let us pray for the conversion of their persecutors and for a prompt international intervention in Sudan. Source: US: Sudan "in state of denial"

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Today is the Feast Day of the Blessed Apostles, Peter and Paul

What that means is that today is my saint's day (Peter). Go Peter! Go me!

My namesake and I resemble each other in a couple of ways. We're both rash, hardheaded, and sink frequently after attempting to walk on water. We are both in need of the infinite grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. That's about it. The differences are too many to mention.

So, to celebrate the feast, let me share with you today's second reading from the Office of Reading for the feast. It comes from a sermon of St. Augustine of Hippo. Enjoy! St. Peter, pray for the Church!

This day has been consecrated for us by the martyrdom of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul. It is not some obscure martyrs we are talking about. Their sound has gone out into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world. These martyrs had seen what they proclaimed, they pursued justice by confessing the truth, by dying for the truth.

The blessed Peter, the first of the Apostles, the ardent lover of Christ, who was found worthy to hear, And I say to you, that you are Peter. He himself, you see, had just said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Christ said to him, And I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church. Upon this rock I will build the faith you have just confessed. Upon your words, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God, I will build my Church; because you are Peter. Peter comes from petra, meaning a rock. Peter, “Rocky�, from “rock�; not “rock� from “Rocky�. Peter comes from the word for a rock in exactly the same way as the name Christian comes from Christ.

Before his passion the Lord Jesus, as you know, chose those disciples of his whom he called apostles. Among these it was only Peter who almost everywhere was given the privilege of representing the whole Church. It was in the person of the whole Church, which he alone represented, that he was privileged to hear, To you will I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven. After all, it is not just one man that received these keys, but the Church in its unity. So this is the reason for Peter’s acknowledged pre-eminence, that he stood for the Church’s universality and unity, when he was told, To you I am entrusting, what has in fact been entrusted to all. To show you that it is the Church which has received the keys of the kingdom of heaven, listen to what the Lord says in another place to all his apostles: Receive the Holy Spirit; and immediately afterwards, Whose sins you forgive, they will be forgiven them; whose sins you retain, they will be retained.

Quite rightly, too, did the Lord after his resurrection entrust his sheep to Peter to be fed. It is not, you see, that he alone among the disciples was fit to feed the Lord’s sheep; but when Christ speaks to one man, unity is being commended to us. And he first speaks to Peter, because Peter is the first among the apostles. Do not be sad, Apostle. Answer once, answer again, answer a third time. Let confession conquer three times with love, because self-assurance was conquered three times by fear. What you had bound three times must be loosed three times. Loose through love what you had bound through fear. And for all that, the Lord once, and again, and a third time, entrusted his sheep to Peter.

There is one day for the passion of two apostles. But these two also were as one; although they suffered on different days, they were as one. Peter went first, Paul followed. We are celebrating a feast day, consecrated for us by the blood of the apostles. Let us love their faith, their lives, their labours, their sufferings, their confession of faith, their preaching.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Building Moral Capital: Virtue's Role in Today's Business World

NEW YORK, JUNE 26, 2004 (Zenit.org).- With ethics scandals still fresh in many countries, a couple of recent books examine what role morality can play in avoiding such problems. What the business world should do, says Alejo José G. Sison, professor of business ethics at the University of Navarra, Spain, is to give a higher priority to moral factors.

In his 2003 book, "The Moral Capital of Leaders: Why Virtue Matters," Sison observes that in the Enron scandals, for example, "no amount of human, intellectual or social capital could make up for the lack of moral capital among workers for the long-term success of the enterprise."

Sison defines moral capital "as excellence of character, or the possession and practice of a host of virtues appropriate for a human being within a particular sociocultural context." Or, in a word -- integrity. Unlike other skills that a person can develop and that perfect someone in a particular capacity, moral capital perfects the human being as a whole person. "Moral capital is what makes a person good as a human being," Sison writes.

As to what moral capital consists in, Sison bases himself on Aristotle, and in particular, on the development of virtue laid out in the Nicomachean Ethics. It is common these days to talk about values, he observes, but moral capital is more than a superficial commitment to values. "Rather, as excellence of character, moral capital depends primarily on cultivating the right habits or virtues."

In practice, this moral capital is built up by means of our actions, which then develop into permanent habits. The habits, in turn, configure our character and our life. In business terms, good actions give us a return similar to what we earn in the simple interest accrued to money deposited in a bank. Habits are a payoff similar to compound interest, in which we receive a return not only on the sum deposited, but also on the accumulated interest payments made in the past.

Sison explains that virtue can benefit a firm by means of the positive influence virtuous workers exert on corporate culture. Virtuous workers not only diminish the legal and financial liabilities that stem from corporate wrongdoing. They also tend to work better, thus contributing more to a company.

In fact, we need to pay more attention to the human factor in examining economic production, argues Sison. "Without the work of people, neither the most cutting-edge technology nor any amount of accumulated wealth or property will ever produce a significant improvement in human welfare."

The book concludes with some ideas on how firms can promote the formation of moral capital among its workers.

-- Fostering the right actions by practicing the virtue of justice, understood as adherence to the law.

-- Investing in proper personal habits and corporate procedures by practicing the virtue of moderation in controlling the desire for immediate gratification.

-- Fostering an upright character and corporate culture by practicing the virtue of courage. This sustains long-term worthwhile projects despite difficulties.

-- Cultivating the proper lifestyle and corporate history by practicing the virtue of prudence, which disposes one to do what is good here and now, without losing view of the end goal.


Compatible with Christianity?

Morality and the business world was also examined in "Is the Market Moral?" The 2004 book comprises a series of dialogues between Rebecca Blank, professor of economics at the University of Michigan and a member of the Council of Economic Advisers during the first Bush administration and also under President Bill Clinton, and William McGurn, chief editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal.

Blank comes from a Protestant background and is a member of the United Church of Christ. She describes herself as a "card-carrying mainstream economist." McGurn is a Catholic and an ardent defender of the free market.

Both of them agree on the advantages of market capitalism as an economic system, but differ on how best to ensure a market that adheres to moral principles. Blank asks: "If we accept an economic model that assumes that appropriate choices are made when individuals are self-interested, individualistic, and focused on the acquisition of more things, is doing so a validation of our worst natures and a turning away from Christian attributes?"

Blank explains that Christianity offers some elements that are in contrast to the market model of behavior: the value of community and of others; a more-moderate emphasis on the accumulation of material goods; an appreciation for the moral differences of various choices; and a concern for the poor.

Balancing market demands and Christian beliefs in the workplace often places people in difficult situations, Blank notes. An important element in helping to do this are the regulatory mechanisms established by governments, she argues. Governments can both limit the activity of markets (for example, not permitting child labor) and redistribute resources between groups.

Free market defended

McGurn argues in favor of markets, defending them as the best way to help resolve poverty. He also wishes that churches and clerics would inform their criticisms of the market with a greater degree of economic literacy and show a greater appreciation for the benefits of the market economy.

Markets, he adds, should be defined "as the relationships and networks between and among human beings rather than just the goods and services that are transacted." Differing from the normal economic approach, McGurn bases his view on the view of human labor in John Paul II's encyclical "Laborem Exercens." The Pope argues for a concept of human work that involves the essence of human beings, carried out in an economy that is not just about individual performance, but is more about relationships, McGurn observes.

In the wake of so many recent scandals, McGurn asks how can we develop moral limits to markets without damaging their efficiency. He is much less keen than Blank on government intervention via regulation. More important, he argues, is the role of culture. He maintains that John Paul II's encyclicals have stressed the importance of forming a healthy culture in which virtue is cultivated, much more than in resolving problems through imposing laws.

In a reply to McGurn, Blank says she does not believe "that the cultural forces that shape markets can be so easily separated from the market itself." Rather than just relying on the virtuous behavior of individuals, society needs to ensure that this virtue is "embedded within the structure of economic institutions." And that takes government intervention, Blank insists.

McGurn, in turn, says he is not a libertarian and he acknowledges that the market requires certain virtues. But instead of having government as a check on markets, he argues that culture offers a better alternative. "Law works best when it ratifies some social consensus," McGurn writes. "It works least well when it tries to impose such a consensus."

Culture, he explains, "not only supplies the context within which markets operate, it also provides the institutions and values that no market can survive without." McGurn also maintains that we need to pay more attention to the social virtues required in a free market. He places special emphasis on subsidiarity and solidarity.

Opinions will continue to differ over how to best achieve a market that is more moral. What is undeniable is that virtue plays a vital part in this task. Source: Zenit.org

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Otto Preminger's The Cardinal was a movie that I hadn't seen in 23 years, since April 12, 1981 to be precise. It was a Palm Sunday, the Space Shuttle Columbia had just gone up on her maiden voyage and another good thing happened that day that made it special, but I'll keep that one to myself. Oh, and I watched it in Spanish translation, but still, The Cardinal left a vivid impression on my mind and I never forgot several of the key scenes: Stephen Fermoyle's (Tom Tryon), handling (mishandling?) of her younger sister's out of wedlock pregnancy, his encounter with good ol'e Irish church politics in Boston, his facing-down racism and KKK terrorism in Georgia, his inner vocational struggle, his experience with Nazi Germany and Austrian ecclesiastical stupor in the eve of the unification with the Third Reich.

Heck, if Forrest Gump had been a priest, he would've been Stephen Fermoyle.

The movie is a collection of vignettes in which Father (then Monsignor, then Bishop, then Cardinal) Fermoyle tests his moral certainties against a cast of characters of ambiguous morality. You may even say that everyone else was human but Fermoyle, who always came out as superhuman yet, paradoxically, frail. Each encounter with evil or moral ambiguity taxed Fermoyle's conscience, and yet he manages to come out of all them triumphant, yet wounded. Each encounter leads him inexorably to a promotion.

The picture is beatifully filmed on location, with great attention to meaningful detail. Note who, for example, when Monsignor Fermoy arrives in Georgia to investigate a church burning, as he exits the bus that brought him to town, is debarking through the back door. If you're not really watching, you'll agree that African-Americans in the segregated South were meant to be invisible but if you notice them, then this detail speaks volumes. More significantly, this scene was made wholecloth for the movie by Director Preminger; it wasn't in the original novel written by Henry Morton Robinson. You learn of this on the second DVD of this 2-disk set, which is all dedicated to the Director Preminger's cinematic trajectory.

This is a delightful movie. It brought back to me lots of good memories. And if there's such thing as "holy pride," through its characters and plot, I can say The Cardinal made me feel proud of being a Catholic even though "pride" in other contexts may be a sin.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Reply to a Muslim Apologist Concerning the Two Natures of Christ and Trinitarianism

Dave Armstrong vs. Shabir Ally

Critique of the full text of the paper, Was Jesus Perfect God and Perfect Man at the Same Time? (from the web page, Islam Answers Back). Mr. Ally's words will be in bold.

According to Orthodox Christian belief, Jesus was perfect man and perfect God at the same time. This belief is necessary for salvation according to the Athanasian creed held dear by most Christians. Modern Christian scholars reject this idea not because it is difficult to understand but because it cannot be meaningfully expressed.

No; they reject it because they are more "modern" than "Christian" and because they have forsaken the historic Christian faith. If a "modern" Islamic scholar had rejected traditional tenets of Islam, would Mr. Ally continue to even call him a Muslim? Would he appreciate a Christian doing so, in making his argument against Islam? I highly doubt it. So Christians would ask to be accorded the same respect and consistency in terminology. He acts as if "orthodox" Christianity is self-evidently inferior to the "modern" versions of "revised Christianity." Again, if we were to return the favor and say that "modern Islam" is superior to "orthodox [traditional] Islam," would Mr. Ally appreciate that? It is one thing to disagree honestly with Christianity; quite another to redefine it from the outset according to one's rhetorical goals, by referring to those who reject traditional Christianity as "modern Christian scholars."

Both religions obviously are burdened by people who go by the name but no longer believe what the religion has always held. Mr. Ally cites the people who no longer believe a thing to show that the thing is irrational and unworthy of belief. Isn't that like citing atheists to show how theism is unbelievable, while ignoring what the theists say about it? This is an unfair, somewhat insulting methodology. If Mr. Ally disagrees with Christianity, he can simply produce his own arguments as to why, without incorporating the arguments of people who themselves dishonestly redefine what the word "Christian" means.

It would be far better to not accord the liberals and apostates in both our religions the respect of still referring to them as "Christians" or "Muslims" than to cite such a "Christian" against an orthodox Christian. I wouldn't do that to a Muslim, and a Muslim shouldn't do it to a Christian, as a matter of respect for the other's self-definition and self-understanding, and intellectual consistency.

The doctrine cannot be stated in any way that is free from contradictions. It is impossible for Jesus to have been perfect man and perfect God at the same time, for this would mean that he was finite and infinite at the same time, that he was fallible and infallible at the same time. This cannot be.

Mr. Ally's "logic" here is "what cannot be." This is simply not a contradiction because it is one person having two natures, one of which is finite and the other infinite. It would be like saying that of my two arms, one has unlimited power and can lift anything in the universe, while the other does not. That's not contradictory; it is simply a differentiation between the two arms. A true contradiction would be something like saying that "one arm can lift anything in the universe and cannot do so, at the same time." Likewise, Jesus has two natures, rather than one, as we have. He is both God and man. As God, He has infinite capacities; as man, He does not. He can, therefore, do some things as God and others as a man, with the usual limitations we are all subject to...

Please, continue reading the whole article at my good friend Dave Armnstrong's Biblical Defense of Catholicism website

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Jesus move over, Reverend Moon is here!

Folks, check this out:
WASHINGTON, June 23 - As a shining symbol of democracy, the United States capital is not ordinarily a place where coronations occur. So news that the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the eccentric and exceedingly wealthy Korean-born businessman, donned a crown in a Senate office building and declared himself the Messiah while members of Congress watched is causing a bit of a stir.

One congressman, Representative Danny K. Davis, Democrat of Illinois, wore white gloves and carried a pillow holding one of two ornate gold crowns that were placed on the heads of Mr. Moon and his wife, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, at the ceremony, which took place March 23 and capped a reception billed as a peace awards banquet.

Mr. Davis says he held the wife's crown and was "a bit surprised'' by Mr. Moon's Messiah remarks, which were delivered in Korean but accompanied by a written translation. In them, he said emperors, kings and presidents had "declared to all heaven and earth that Reverend Sun Myung Moon is none other than humanity's Savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent."
(Source: The New York Times)
Commentary. How pathetic and ridiculous. This man has been proclaiming himself Messiah for more than thirty years now. I remember that during the time I posted messages on Fidonet's Open Bible Echo, I met a Moonie true believer named Terry Blount. He strenously denied that Moon had been hinting he was the Messiah come to earth to finish what Jesus was unable to do. Then, in the mid-1990's, Moon officially declared himself "messiah" and my interlocutor began happily singing a different tune of love and praise to this con-man, as if he had never known what Rev. Moon had really meant.

Rev. Moon didn't die for my sins and has no intention of dying for my sins anyway. As far as I can tell, he's fat, rich, and fulfilled. Oh, and deluded.

The whole incident is hilarious and the fact that a bunch of congressmen felt for it even more so.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Why Am I a Christian and not just another garden variety monotheist

Why am I a Christian? Why not a Jew - believe plainly in God without the complications - or a Muslim - an even simpler monotheism where all moral effort lies on one's sole initiative and where the only fruitful religious attitude is "surrender"? To hold no Trinity, no grace, no election, no Church, no hierarchy, no sacraments, no Liturgy...to hold just a pious agnosticism on most things and culticate a reverent submission adorned by ancient attractive rituals. Sounds very attractive, uncomplicated, simple, even alluring.

I'll tell you why am I Christian: because as compared to the other two world religions, Christianity is the only one that promises me that the ultimate thing in the Universe is Love, not Power. In Christianity I find a God that will not impose His will upon his creatures by the mere use of His Power. God will not "win" because He's the baddest, biggest wrestler in the ring of history. He will not pick me up and slam me against the mat to make His point. He will not flatten me against the ground until the count of "3".

Don't take me wrong, submission to God will be required of the creature but, the wonderful thing is, the creature will render its submission on its own free will How can that be possible? When the creature sees through faith that God is not into power games, but that God is Love, the creature will reply in kind.

Christ taught us that Love is the ultimate and ruling principle of the Universe. We saw an inkling of this truth when the Lord rejected the dominion over the kingdoms of the world offered to him by the Adversary, but we see it clearly on His Passion and Death. He did not have to die, He could've overcome His executioners and reduce them to nothingness if He had but willed it, but He didn't. Love overcomes naked power.

Judaism and Islam, with all their relative simplicity, have no answer to Evil except for Power, however Divine. In Christ, God overcomes Evil by Love. That's why I choose Christianity over the other two; Christianity assures me that my victory in Christ will be through Love. No other religion promises me that. I find Love more trutful than Power. Hence, I am a Christian.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Declaration on Catholics in Political Life

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

Dated June 18, 2004

Source: Declaration on Catholics in Political Life

We speak as bishops, as teachers of the Catholic faith and of the moral law. We have the duty to teach about human life and dignity, marriage and family, war and peace, the needs of the poor and the demands of justice. Today we continue our efforts to teach on a uniquely important matter that has recently been a source of concern for Catholics and others.

It is the teaching of the Catholic Church from the very beginning, founded on her understanding of her Lord’s own witness to the sacredness of human life, that the killing of an unborn child is always intrinsically evil and can never be justified. If those who perform an abortion and those who cooperate willingly in the action are fully aware of the objective evil of what they do, they are guilty of grave sin and thereby separate themselves from God’s grace. This is the constant and received teaching of the Church. It is, as well, the conviction of many other people of good will.

To make such intrinsically evil actions legal is itself wrong. This is the point most recently highlighted in official Catholic teaching. The legal system as such can be said to cooperate in evil when it fails to protect the lives of those who have no protection except the law. In the United States of America, abortion on demand has been made a constitutional right by a decision of the Supreme Court. Failing to protect the lives of innocent and defenseless members of the human race is to sin against justice. Those who formulate law therefore have an obligation in conscience to work toward correcting morally defective laws, lest they be guilty of cooperating in evil and in sinning against the common good.

As our conference has insisted in Faithful Citizenship, Catholics who bring their moral convictions into public life do not threaten democracy or pluralism but enrich them and the nation. The separation of church and state does not require division between belief and public action, between moral principles and political choices, but protects the right of believers and religious groups to practice their faith and act on their values in public life.

Our obligation as bishops at this time is to teach clearly. It is with pastoral solicitude for everyone involved in the political process that we will also counsel Catholic public officials that their acting consistently to support abortion on demand risks making them cooperators in evil in a public manner. We will persist in this duty to counsel, in the hope that the scandal of their cooperating in evil can be resolved by the proper formation of their consciences.

Having received an extensive interim report from the Task Force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians, and looking forward to the full report, we highlight several points from the interim report that suggest some directions for our efforts:

We need to continue to teach clearly and help other Catholic leaders to teach clearly on our unequivocal commitment to the legal protection of human life from the moment of conception until natural death. Our teaching on human life and dignity should be reflected in our parishes and our educational, health care and human service ministries.

We need to do more to persuade all people that human life is precious and human dignity must be defended. This requires more effective dialogue and engagement with all public officials, especially Catholic public officials. We welcome conversation initiated by political leaders themselves.

Catholics need to act in support of these principles and policies in public life. It is the particular vocation of the laity to transform the world. We have to encourage this vocation and do more to bring all believers to this mission. As bishops, we do not endorse or oppose candidates. Rather, we seek to form the consciences of our people so that they can examine the positions of candidates and make choices based on Catholic moral and social teaching.

The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.

We commit ourselves to maintain communication with public officials who make decisions every day that touch issues of human life and dignity.

The Eucharist is the source and summit of Catholic life. Therefore, like every Catholic generation before us, we must be guided by the words of St. Paul, “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the Body and Blood of the Lord� (1 Cor 11:27). This means that all must examine their consciences as to their worthiness to receive the Body and Blood of our Lord. This examination includes fidelity to the moral teaching of the Church in personal and public life.

The question has been raised as to whether the denial of Holy Communion to some Catholics in political life is necessary because of their public support for abortion on demand. Given the wide range of circumstances involved in arriving at a prudential judgment on a matter of this seriousness, we recognize that such decisions rest with the individual bishop in accord with the established canonical and pastoral principles. Bishops can legitimately make different judgments on the most prudent course of pastoral action. Nevertheless, we all share an unequivocal commitment to protect human life and dignity and to preach the Gospel in difficult times.

The polarizing tendencies of election-year politics can lead to circumstances in which Catholic teaching and sacramental practice can be misused for political ends. Respect for the Holy Eucharist, in particular, demands that it be received worthily and that it be seen as the source for our common mission in the world. (June 18, 2004 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops)

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Paul Johnson killed by Islamist terrorists in Saudi Arabia yesterday

Killers met justice shortly thereafter

Paul Johnson's murder is contemptible and to be condemned by every person of conscience. I find it incredible that there are some on Islamist websites and on other Arabic chat channels, newsgroups, and bulletin boards who defend this action or at least, find it morally ambiguous. That's a crock of bull, I don't give a damn what surah, sunna, or fatwa they muster to justify it. No holy book, no "holy person," can justify the murder of an innocent except by casuistry and semantic subterfuge.

Our Lord Jesus clearly calls murderers sons of the devil:
You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.(Source: St.John 8:44)
The Islamist terrorist ilk lie and do wrong when they claim to be doing God's will. That's another crock of bull, unless, their god is the devil.

I have no patience, no tolerance whatsoever for these fanatics. No, talk is cheap. The only way to deal with them is by force. I am happy to report that they might have met justice already:
A witness who saw the Militants dump Johnson's body passed the license plate of the vehicle to authorities who responded swiftly. The saudi Government says police killed four suspected members of an Al-Qaida cell, including their leader Abdulaziz Al-Moqrin. The government broadcast photographs of the bodies on television. (Source:Saudi's Retaliate for American's Beheading)
Bravo! You see? If all the Muslims lacked a conscience, if Islam were inherently warlike, there wouldn't have been a whistleblower. May the Lord bless this person and protect him, as we all seek peace between our civilizations.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Astrology Aims for Respectability:

Thin Evidence Hasn't Hampered Brisk Business.

My comment: when people don't believe in God, they'll believe in anything!

NEW DELHI, India, JUNE 12, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Astrology enthusiasts recently won a battle in India in their efforts to obtain academic credibility. The nation's Supreme Court upheld a 2001 decision by the University Grants Commission (UGC) to introduce courses in Vedic Astrology leading to undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, the Indian magazine Frontline reported in its June 5 issue. The court decision, handed down May 5, rejected a challenge to the UGC approval brought by several academics.

In their petition to the court the academics argued that Vedic Astrology cannot be considered a part of scientific study because astrology lacks the basic attributes and tenets involved in the pursuit of science. Specifically, they argued, astrology does not use the accepted scientific method of inquiry that is characterized by fallibility, verifiability and repeatability.

In 2001 the UGC invited applications from universities to set up astrology departments. Out of 41 submissions the UGC accepted proposals from 20 universities. The article termed the Supreme Court decision "a serious blow to the efforts of the scientific community and rational-minded people who have been relentlessly campaigning against the pernicious move."

Nevertheless, the writer took solace in the recent defeat of the Bharatiya Janata Party in India's national elections. The BJP, observed the article, gave backing to astrology and other similar practices as part of its support of traditional Hindu culture.

Defenders of astrology are not limited to India. On May 16, Britain's Sunday Times reviewed a book published by a Royal Astronomical Society member, Dr. Percy Seymour, in which he lends some credence to astrology. Seymour, former lecturer in astronomy and astrophysics at Plymouth University, stated that he does not believe in the validity of star-sign horoscopes. Yet, in his book "The Scientific Proof of Astrology," he maintains that brain development may be affected by the Earth's magnetic field, especially during a child's growth in the womb. This magnetic field is affected by interactions with the sun, the moon and other planets.

The review did note, however, that Seymour is a lone figure in scientific circles in his defense of astrology. Sir Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal, has described astrology as "absurd," noted the Sunday Times. "There is no place for astrology in our scientific view of the world; moreover its predictive claims cannot stand any critical scrutiny," commented Rees.

Payoff, but no proof

An example of this scrutiny was a decades-long study of more than 2,000 people, reported on in the British newspaper Telegraph last Aug. 17. The study involved a group born in early March 1958. Many of the babies were born within minutes of one another and, according to astrology, should have many traits in common.

Researchers examined more than 100 different characteristics, including occupation, marital status and IQ levels. In their findings, published in the Journal of Consciousness Studies, the scientists reported no evidence of similarities between those born at the same time.

One of the researchers, Dr. Geoffrey Dean, said the results undermined the claims of astrologers, who typically work with birth data far less precise than that used in the study. "They sometimes argue that times of birth just a minute apart can make all the difference by altering what they call the 'house cusps,'" he said. "But in their work, they are happy to take whatever time they can get from a client."

But while scientists may scorn astrology, the general public flocks to read what the stars have to say. Writers of astrological columns in major newspapers can expect pay packages in the range of 250,000 to 500,000 pounds ($458,000 to $917,000), the British newspaper Guardian reported Jan. 12.

And this is just for starters. On top of this comes the income from telephone lines. Newspaper reports put the overall income of Daily Mail astrologer Jonathan Cainer at more than 2 million pounds ($3.6 million).

In Italy, according to the Jan. 25 issue of the weekly magazine Famiglia Cristiana, the nation's 22,000 astrologers and assorted seers enjoy a combined income of around 550 million euros ($613 million). Periodic revelations of fraud and tax evasion have not diminished the popularity of the occult in Italy. A government decree in 2002 sought to introduce restrictions on television spots selling astrological and fortunetelling services, especially common on the 600 or so small stations that reach local areas. But the effects of the decree so far have been limited.

Debunked

Those looking for arguments against astrology and other assorted superstitions now have a handy resource in the just-published "Debunked!" The book was originally published in France two years ago. The authors, Georges Charpak, a physicist at the European Center for Particle Physics in Geneva, and Henri Broch, a teacher at the University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis, deal with a wide variety of themes.

The book notes that some people defend the accuracy of horoscopes, arguing that they have accurately predicted events. Yet, the simple occurrence of predicted events does not validate astrology, contend Charpak and Broch.

What happens, the authors say, is that such people are convinced they are dealing with horoscopes written specifically for them. But what is at work is what the authors term a "well effect." Horoscopes typically use vague generalizations, making it easy for people to recognize themselves in what is described. These descriptions "are only deep in the sense that a well is deep -- deeply hollowed out, that is, empty," write the authors.

Such descriptions are not, in fact, based on what astrologers know about people, but on what people wish were true about themselves. Added to which, astrologers count on the public quickly forgetting past predictions. Supermarket tabloids, for example, regularly publish end-of-year predictions, such as of assassinations, which are simply repeated annually.

The book also cites examples of affirmations by popular astrologers that reveal a lack of basic astronomical knowledge. One astrologer argued that two people born under the sign of Capricorn -- one on Jan. 9, 1924, and another on the same date in 1960 -- would be under the same planetary influences because the sun is in the same place in the sky. But, the authors observe, this is not true at all and there is a difference in the Earth's orbit around the sun between these two dates of no less than 780,000 miles.

In fact, the zodiac birth signs so common in astrological columns, along the supposed personal qualities for those born under them, are mostly based on astronomical positions traced out thousands of years ago. The problem with this is that the axis of the Earth's rotation is in continual change. The axis pivots, in a way similar to a spinning top, completing a revolution in about 25,790 years. As a result the zodiac signs in use today by astrologers do not correspond at all to the constellations represented when the charts were originally drawn up.

The book goes on to debunk other phenomena such as levitation, walking on hot coals and metal bending. Regarding events which some regard as unusual coincidences, and therefore require some paranormal explanation, the authors recommend that the public should study probability theory, which quickly reveals that many supposedly unusual occurrences actually fall within the bounds of probable events.

The authors conclude that society is now infested with unscientific thinking, which has allowed the occult to transform itself from a local affair to the realm of big business. It seems modern society isn't so rational and scientific after all. Source: Zenit.org

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

The most pressing questions that the human mind can levy against God's existence

The most pressing questions that the human mind can levy against God's existence is this one: if God exists, why is there evil in the world? If God is All Good, surely He would not wish evil to happen; if God is All Powerful, surely He can stop evil from happening. Yet, there's Evil. The syllogism leads us to this answer: since there is evil, God is either not all-powerful or not all-good, or He doesn't even exist. This syllogism is a logical trap, for it leaves out another possibility, that God, being all-powerful and all-good, could have a good reason as to why He allows evil. By itself, it doesn't disprove God's existence of any of his attributes.

Nevertheless, the syllogism remains a compelling description of reality precisely for that reason, because it fits the observed facts. For me, nothing brings this home than the Jewish Shoah or Holocaust in Europe, at the hands of Nazi Germany. Persons of faith from all persuasions and particularly Catholic Christians, should question their very faith in God and in the Church when they face the background, the scope, and the breadth of the suffering and death European Jewry underwent during those dark years.

The events are enough to make one doubt. Almost 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust. Aside from the cost in lives, the material cost was incalculable, not to say the moral cost in European consciousness. I credit the Holocaust more than I credit secularism for the wholesale abandonment of Christianity in the Continent, for the advent of "post-Christianity," and the increasing appeal of New Age neo-Gnosticism, Paganism, and Islamic fundamentalist. The old verities did not provide coherent answers in time to stem the tide of doubt. But people can't live with God, they just take their questions and look for answers elsewhere.

I can't provide you at this time with a cogent Christian answer to the questions the Holocaust poses. But I can point you to four people who faced it and remained faithful Christians: Pope John Paul II, St. Maximilian Kolbe, Fr. Joseph Kentenich, and St. Benedicta of the Cross, the Jewish former philosopher known to the world as Edith Stein.

Pope John Paul II suffered in his own flesh the consequences of the Nazi regime, and saw with his own eyes and condemned the anti-Semitic strains the Nazis and even fellow Polish citizens showed and openly stated that such attitudes were incompatible with Christianity. When he became Pope, he advanced like no one before the cause of Jewish-Catholic reconciliation.

St. Maximilian Kolbe died in the concentration camps; the Nazi New Order had little space for the Polish priest-lead intelligentsia. Fr. Kolbe saw an opportunity to give his life for another; Father Kentenich re-founded an entire apostolic movement in Dachau and Edith Stein, who had become a Carmelite nun, did not escape the rage of the Nazi persecutor and died in the train leading her to the concentration camp, quite anonymously.

None of these lost faith. Their perseverance encourages me: it seems that there is an answer to the question of why God allows suffering and that answer lies in the fact that Christ, the God-Man, suffered horribly and died for us and God the Father allowed it to happen also without intervening. The meaning of the death of the God-Man falls squarely on the fact of his suffering and death, on the hypostatic embodiment of the Logos of God in a single human person circumscribed physically in space and time. Death and suffering have a meaning because the human person has a transcendent end; death and suffering form a vehicle to discover the Love of God in spite of themselves, maybe even because of themselves.

The Christian answer to the question of suffering and death is profound and it would be unintelligible without the understanding of a suffering and dying God-made-man. It seems to me that Pope John Paul II, Sts. Maximilian and Benedicta, and Fr. Kentenich, understood this in the midst of misery.

So must we, in our way, with the light that God gives us, do the same and respond in kind.

Monday, June 14, 2004

The U.S. Supreme Court turned aside an atheist's attempt

In the News Today,
The U.S. Supreme Court turned aside an atheist's attempt to remove the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance.
The ruling, which avoided the issue of constitutionality, was based on the technicality that Californian Michael Newdow could not bring the case to court because he did not have legal control over his 9-year-old daughter. It left open the possibility of future challenges.

The 8-0 decision overturned a ruling by a U.S. appeals court in California that reciting the phrase amounted to a violation of church-state separation.

Commenting on today's decision, Richard Thompson, chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, based in Michigan, said, "Because the Court avoided deciding the Pledge case on its merits, the ACLU and other anti-religious organizations will undoubtedly find a new plaintiff to again challenge the Pledge." Source: Zenit.org
Commentary. Another atheist attempt to thwart the Nation's freedom of religion and destroy its rightful place in it has been averted, at least from now. Although the Court did not address the constitutionality of the issue per sé, I find the opinions of Justices Rehnquist, O'Connor, and Thomas very encouraging. The fact of the matter is that the country is tired by these insults to its collective consciousness from those who cloak their evil designs under a bogus defense of constitutional rights and the separation of church from state. These idiots should just get a life and render to others the same respect they clamor for themselves.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Islam's Crisis Needs a Truly Christian Response, Says Prelate

Tunis Archbishop Posts an Open Letter

ROME, JUNE 11, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Archbishop Fouad Twal of Tunis has written an open letter explaining that Islam is going through a crisis to which Christians should respond with love and hope, not war.

In the letter to Christians of the West, the bishop says that "after the attack on the twin towers and the war in Iraq, confidence in international justice and serenity have diminished."

"We are all wounded and we too live terrorism with pain, like you in the West," he adds. "In the Middle East, there have also been hundreds of attacks. There is violence is in every country, as it is in man's heart."

"The issue is not only Saddam's Iraq; there are other interests at stake and, above all, the whole of the Middle East cannot be changed by force. Time is necessary to do good and to continue with a dialogue which, on the part of the Christian community, has never been interrupted," Archbishop Twal writes.

The Italian weekly Tempi published the full text of his letter.

"Today," the 63-year-old prelate said, "Islam is a world in crisis, which at times believes that it finds strength and security in fanaticism. We do not have to cure it with war, but with love and hope, within a world situation that is not helpful."

The immigration of Muslims to the West "might be a richness." But for it to be so, it must be made "less insecure; it is necessary to intensify aid to those governments that commit themselves to spread education and increase job possibilities in their countries," the archbishop in Tunisia said.

At the same time, "it is necessary to intensify exchanges at the academic and scientific level to favor those components of the Muslim world who want an open relation with modernity," he stressed.

"It is necessary to keep in mind that fundamentalism finds fertile ground in poverty, ignorance and injustice," Archbishop Twal continued. However, "to dialogue, one needs first of all a solid knowledge of the Catholic Christian faith, and a determined adherence to the magisterium of the Church, which is the guarantee in the following of Christ."

He added: "Our experience shows that Christian testimony and charity always 'open a breach,' also in the Muslim world."

Source:Zenit.org

Friday, June 11, 2004

Activist Larry Kramer Thunders Against President Reagan's AIDS Legacy

By now, we have heard several quotes from Mr. Kramer in an article to appear in The Advocate's July 6 issue, but in case you hadn't, here are some of them, for your reading "pleasure":
Our murderer is dead. The man who murdered more gay people than anyone in the entire history of the world, is dead. More people than Hitler even. In all the tributes to his passing, as I write this two days after his death, not one that I have seen has mentioned this. The hateful New York Times ("all the news that's fit to print") of course said nothing about this. We still are not fit to write about with total honesty in their pages. Not really. Just as we were not fit for Ronald Reagan to talk about us. What kind of president is that?
I wonder: what can move a man to show such vileness, such lowness of expression and extremity of ideas? What can move a man to lie so blatantly, to spit at another man's grave?

Would personal suffering entitle a man such as Mr. Kramer to such expressions? No doubt that Mr. Kramer has suffered, but would that be enough to entitle him? Would passion for his cause justify a man's vitriol enough to turn it into "righteous discourse"? There is no doubt that Mr. Kramer is passionate. Would an eloquent defense of the rights of very sick people - I won't saying "dying people" because we are all "dying people" - people needing comfort and care, be enough to lend a prophetic mantle to the man who utters these damned and damning words? I submit to you that the answer is "no."

On the contrary, it triviliazes the suffering and the cost in human lives of the very people, of the very cause that Mr. Kramer defends. Mr. Kramer, in his quest for rhetorical excess, also trivializes the sufferings of others, such as the Jews who died in the Holocaust by drawing an inaccurate parallel. Let us remember that:
-President Reagan did not force homosexual people to wear "yellow stars" - or rather, "pink triangles" on their clothing so that the rest of the population could ostracize them;

-President Reagan did not engineer a "final solution" along with his generals and elite against homosexual people;

-President Reagan did not build "slave camps" and did not round gay and lesbian folk into cattle cars;

-President Reagan did not gas homosexual persons in chambers and then burned their bodies in industrial ovens made for the purpose;

-President Reagan was not responsible for the death of 6 million people, neither directly nor indirectly.
Mr. Kramer continues his diatribe:
How could he not have seen us dying? The answer is he did see us dying and he chose to do nothing. There was no representation in his government of us. There was never anything for us but his ignoble dismissal of us. All of Washington, indeed the world, knew that Reagan hated us. How could they not? Most of them did, too. And when Daddy doesn't love you, who is there who will stand up to Daddy? This is a trick that Hitler used and which I believe the young Reagan learned from him. He never had to say much out loud himself about his hatreds; but everyone knew what they were. Gays were as hated under Reagan as Jews were under Hitler. It is a trick that both George Bushes have carbon-copied. We have not been included among their American people either.
The issue of blame weighs heavily on Mr. Kramer's conscience. Someone has got to be blamed! I mean, Mr. Kramer seems to say that promiscuous homosexual and heterosexual intercourse and intravenous drug use are activities seemingly morally neutral and therefore equivalent. No value judgment can be brought to bear on these destructive behaviors, certainly not from self-righteous moralists and busy-bodies bent on dictating how other people ought to live. Certainly, promiscuous people and drug users are themselves blameless victims who exercised authentic life choices and who cannot be held responsible for the myriad innocent victims their behavior caused - Mr. Kramer seems to say.

This is not "blaming the victim," mind you. But it would be a disservice to the truth to state that those who defend "sexual freedom" and who find "enlightenment through chemistry" cannot be held responsible for the social and cultural responsibility of their misdeeds. In this case, "freedom" became an instrument of sickness, suffering, and death, for many who surrendered themselves to this "freedom" as well as uncounted innocents who have had to suffer the consequences of the immorality of others.

Now they are all gravely sick. They all deserve compassion, and care, and attention, and friendship, and dignity. They are our "neighbor" in the Christian-Good-Samaritan sense of the word. But President Reagan is blameless but if he is to be blamed for anything on this issue, blame him for ignoring the true nature of a an insidious illness and for failing to understand the social forces that gave it flight. Then again, most Americans of that era - myself included - are guilty of the same thing.

A scapegoat is needed, a lightning road for the pent up fury of 20 years and President Reagan, long unable to defend himself and now dead, fits the mould precisely. Mr. Kramer has taken full advantage of the situation to invoke his curses against a blameless man.

Mr. Kramer continues:
And just as damning of the son's reputation of course, because it could not be hidden, was that Ron Reagan, Jr. was a ballet dancer. This did not look good and was obviously exceedingly embarrassing to a father who rode so many horses. So off with the tutu and on with a wedding ring. Junior was married off and sent to far-off places in positions of low visibility. I have gay friends in Hollywood, equally closeted, who knew him and know him and protect him. To know him is to be sworn to some sort of pact of secrecy. What a hideous life Ron, Jr. must have led all these years. To be denied a life and to have been so utterly gutless about fighting back. (Well, we know all about that.) While his own mother was gallivanting around with some of the biggest fairies in the world. What hateful parents to have had in the prime of your life, "the great communicator" of a father out there communicating how much he hated you and his wife out there going along with this.
Mr. Kramer's project is to claim to have a window into President Reagan's conscience, to describe his hatred against homosexuals as a projection of his hatred against his own son; then he skillfully "unclosets" Ron Jr.,- or not. How exquisitely despicable.

One final quote from Mr. Kramer's masterly piece:
Just as Jews are asked to never forget their Holocaust I implore all gay people never to forget our holocaust and who caused it and why. Ronald Reagan did not even say the word "AIDS" out loud for the first seven years of his reign. Because of this some 70 million people, so far, have become infected with HIV/AIDS. I wonder what it feels like to be the son and the wife of a man responsible for over 70 million people so far becoming infected with a virus that has killed over half of us so far.
Mr. Kramer, you have seen the outpouring of love that President Reagan and his family have been receiving from the entire Nation. This outpouring belies your words. Your anger and dejection has moved you to pronounce foolish words that have diminished you before many and compromised your integrity and honesty for generations to come, generations that will more than likely remember the name of Ronald Wilson Reagan and not your own, who will remember the plight of AIDS victims in spite of the damage you have inflicted to their cause.

I hope that you ponder your words better in the future and that those nearest you provide you with the adult supervision you so desperately need.

You may read the entire piece at: rodney croome - gay activist

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom released last month a very interesting policy paper on the state of religious freedom in Saudi Arabia. It was very revealing, yet it received little press. Here are the Commission's recommendations:

• The U.S. government should task experts designated by the Commission or the General Accounting Office to undertake a public study to determine whether and how – and the extent to which – the Saudi government, individual
members of the royal family, or Saudi-funded individuals or institutions are propagating globally, including in theUnited States, a religious ideology that explicitly promotes hate, intolerance, and human rights violations, in some cases violence, toward members of other religious groups, both Muslim and non-Muslim. Congress should authorize and fund such a study.

• The U.S. government should request the Saudi government to provide an accounting of what kinds of Saudi support go to which religious schools, mosques, centers of learning, and other religious organizations globally, including in the United States.

• The U.S. government should urge the Saudi government to stop funding religious activities abroad until the Saudis know the content of the teachings and are satisfied that they do not promote hatred, intolerance, and other human rights violations.

• The U.S. government should urge the Saudi government to monitor, regulate, and report publicly about the activities of Saudi charitable organizations based outside the Kingdom in countries throughout the world.

• The U.S. government should urge the Saudi government to: a) stop providing diplomatic status to Islamic clerics and educators teaching outside the Kingdom; and b) close down those Islamic affairs sections in Saudi embassies throughout the world that have been responsible for propagating intolerance.

• The U.S. government should publicly support and encourage implementation of numerous Saudi government statements to carry out political, educational, and judicial reforms in the Kingdom. Specifically, the U.S. government should:

a) raise concerns about human rights, including religious freedom, in its anti-terrorism dialogue with the Saudi government; and

b) institutionalize a high-level ongoing dialogue on the Saudi reform agenda.

• The U.S. government should urge the Saudi government to cease messages of hatred, intolerance, or incitement to violence against non-Wahhabi Muslims and non-Muslim religious groups in the educational curricula and textbooks, as well as in government-controlled mosques and media.

• The U.S. government should expand its efforts to support initiatives to advance human rights, including freedom of religion and belief, in Saudi Arabia; the U.S. State Department should develop a country plan identifying activities concerning Saudi Arabia and report to Congress on the objectives and details of the plan and its implementation.

In particular:

a) the State Department should ensure that public diplomacy, democracy, human rights, and other assistance programs directed toward the Middle East include components specifically for Saudi Arabia. This should include, for example, the Middle East Partnership Initiative – a U.S. aid initiative that focuses on political, educational, and economic reforms in the Middle East, as well as the empowerment of women; and

b) the U.S. government should take steps to overcome obstacles to broadcasting Radio Sawa – a U.S. government- funded, 24 -hour Arabic language news and music radio service – throughout Saudi Arabia. (Source: Saudi Arabia Policy Briefing)

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

My oldest son graduates from high school tonight

My oldest son graduates from high school tonight. How do I feel? Happy, worried, a tad old. It seems like yesterday that I graduated from high school. It wasn't that far back-I like to tell myself. (But it has been over 20 years). I am not yet 40...and here my son is about to start the rest of his life. It is sobering.

He's been a good kid. He's an honor student, a bright, quiet young man searching for more self-confidence. He's in love with a girl...but although I feel I have a lot of rapport with him at times I think I don't know him well enough.

He'll do fine, I know. He's becoming a good man. Blame all his faults on me. But hey, "blame" his virtues on us too- blame my wife and me. We did the best we could! The rest is up to him.

Son: congratulations. Be well, be happy, make the right decisions. Walk with the Lord always. Dios te bendiga hijo mío.

John Paul II Pays Tribute to Reagan

BERN, Switzerland, JUNE 6, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II paid tribute to former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, recalling his efforts to topple communism that "changed the lives of millions of people."

On his pilgrimage to Switzerland where he met with young people, the Pope learned of Reagan's death with "sadness'' and immediately prayed for the "eternal rest of his soul,'' papal spokesman Joaquín Navarro Valls said today. Reagan died Saturday in California at age 93.

The Holy Father and the Reagan White House worked closely in the 1980s in efforts to promote the Solidarity labor movement in Poland and to end the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, the Associated Press noted.

Navarro Valls' statement said John Paul recalled Reagan's contribution to "historical events that changed the lives of millions of people, mainly Europeans.''

On Friday, when President George Bush visited the Vatican, the Pope mentioned Reagan by name.

The Holy Father said in his address: "Our thoughts also turn today to the 20 years in which the Holy See and the United States have enjoyed formal diplomatic relations, established in 1984 under President Reagan. These relations have promoted mutual understanding on great issues of common interest and practical cooperation in different areas. I send my regards to President Reagan and to Mrs. Reagan, who is so attentive to him in his illness." (Source: Pope John Paul II Pays Tribute to Reagan)

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Ronald Wilson Reagan: 1911-2004

I never met President Reagan nor did I have the privilege of voting for him,
but his presidency enabled me to join the U.S. Air Force in a period of expansion and renewed pride. I saw him once when he visited Rapid City, South Dakota. I was part of the crowd that greeted him on his arrival to Ellsworth AFB. I took several pictures of the presidential limousine as it made its way through the base and I got one of his extended arm.

President Reagan was a man of vision, conviction, integrity, and boundless optimism. His legacy lives on. God called home a great American yesterday and the Nation mourns. May we all live to make a difference in our Nation and in the world: may God give us the courage to follow our consciences in the same way that Ronald Reagan followed his.

Friday, June 04, 2004

News and Comments from Hither and Thither

It's been an interesting day in the news and I want to share with you a few of them along with some personal commentary. First, this from Peggy Noonan:

European bureaucrats continue to resist references to God or Christianity in the new constitution they are drafting for the European Union. This is a fascinating battle and revealing of our age. They are in the final drafting stages. Tuesday's New York Times reported, "The issue of whether the most ambitious document in European Union history should include a reference to the Continent's Christian heritage is . . . an emotional, theological wrangle over the meaning of culture, history and faith. The paper quoted France's foreign minister, Michel Barnier, as saying his country would not bow to pressure to inject religion into the document, noting the final draft should be "secular." The constitution is expected to be finalized in two weeks in Brussels.

It seems to me the question is not, "Will the architects of the new Europe bow to the reality of God and include him in the central founding document of their vast new union?" The question is, "Will a group of atheist and agnostic European bureaucrats be forced to mention a deity in whom they do not believe in order to appease lesser and ignorant people who unfortunately have a lot of votes?" Europe is a post-Christian society on a continent devoted to the material except when it is considering astrology, witchcraft and worshiping rocks.

A year ago Pope John Paul II weighed into the argument--actually by speaking of it publicly he started the argument--when he criticized the drafters of the proposed constitution for leaving out all reference to Europe's Judeo-Christian heritage. He suggested the bureaucrats were unhistorical and frankly ungrateful. They are indeed, and rather soulless too, but that is precisely what the modern ruling classes that run Europe are. And that is who the bureaucrats represent.

Is it better if the drafters bow to pressure and, like hypocrites, add a few soulful sentences in which they do not believe so as to fool the dumb people who do? Maybe not. Maybe they should be what they are. It's less confusing that way. And the nonelites of Europe will perhaps more readily see what they are, and understand what they're getting into when they join the EU.
(Source: Opinion Journal - Peggy Noonan
Folks, I think that it is about time that we recognize the obvious. Europe is Pagan land. The continent is inhabited by people who, like Peggy Noonan deliciously observes, "Europe is a post-Christian society on a continent devoted to the material except when it is considering astrology, witchcraft and worshiping rocks." The other big segment of the population is Muslim and that segment is growing pretty fast and a portion of them show all the signs of radicalism. Christians are a minority in the continent and the current political project in Europe is to destroy the voice of the Church. The Holy See should not look far for the next mission field. The mission field is in the Church's backyard.


What's Going On With the Libs? In the last couple of weeks they have really alienated me. Consider former Vice President Al Gore. Ever since his defeat in 2000 I have seen him sink lower and lower. I thought that he could not sink any lower and then, he surprised me again: he sank even lower. In an address before the "Take Back America" conference sponsored by billionaire George Soros' agitprop group "MoveOn.org", Gore disgressed, discombovulated, and screeched to the audience's glee. Lots of emotion: no substance. I thought the Democrats relied on Rev. Al Sharpton for comic relief. I guess I was mistaken. (Howard Dean did the same today - but we all expect that from Dean). And it gets worse. Today's Washington Times regaled us with a picture of Sen. Hillary Clinton introducing Soros and shaking his hand. The same George Soros who was convicted in France for insider trading and fined over $3 million dollars. It appears that Democrats don't mind insider traders and convicted thiefs as long as they are not Republican and as long they open their wallets to the Left. Isn't this hypocrisy?


Anna Quindlen: Clueless. Check out some of the things Ms. Quindlen wrote in the May 31 2004 issue of Newsweek:
...it seems now that certain segments of the Roman Catholic hierarchy are behaving like wholly owned subsidiaries of the Republican Party, hellbent on a course that will weaken the church's moral authority and eventually deplete its membership. And all because of abortion, the issue the celibate male leadership is least equipped to personally understand.
This is the typical blockheaded prejudice that passes for wisdom among the ideologues of the political left: male celibate priests are targets on a par with White Anglo-Saxon Protestants in the stereotyped vitriol of those who refuse to even consider the possibility that these celibate priests, along with a great hosts of male and female, married and celibate, lay people and professed religious, some of which are also Hispanic and with theological studies (like yours truly) who have meditated carefully on this issue and found that abortion is a despicable practice and injury to human dignity everywhere. In abortion, both the mother and the child are victims but in the grammar of senseless feminists and Liberals, the mother has the right to decide the life and the death of the human being growing within her because it is a matter of power and this struggle the innocent has to die to preserve "the right to choose." Ms. Quindlen is morally blind or at least, half-blind and definitely ignorant of the history and development of Catholic doctrine on this issue. She also said:
To paraphrase a Gospel passage, my Father's house is a house of prayer, but they have made it a den of partisanship. The archbishop of St. Louis announced that if John Kerry, the Democratic candidate, showed up for mass he would be denied communion. After threats from clerics in New Jersey, the pro-choice Democratic governor saved himself the embarrassment of being turned away by saying he would no longer present himself for the sacrament; the Democratic majority leader of the state Senate responded by quitting the church and saying he will likely join the Episcopalians. And in Colorado a bishop went a step further, saying that any Catholic who supports politicians who favor abortion rights, same-sex marriage or stem-cell research should not take communion.
Ms. Quindlen, we did not open this can of worms. John Kerry has portrayed himself as a practicing Catholic in order to atract other practicing Catholics like me. He was the one who made it an issue in his run for President. Other Catholics in Name Only (CINO) politicians followed suit. Now, if that's part of the record, then it ought to be examined. I and many other have and we've found that assertion WANTING. Now, if Mr. Kerry had chosen to portray himself as Catholic dissenter or a non-practicing Catholic, his rhetoric would have become consistent with his actions and maybe even garnered more sympathy from other CINOs. But hey, too late now.
It is one thing to preach the teachings of the church, quite another to use the centerpiece of the faith selectively as a tool to influence the ballot box, that confessional of democracy. Even a member of Congress opposed to abortion complained that church leaders were "politicizing the eucharist." If citizens who are Methodist, Muslim or Jewish begin to suspect that Catholic politicians are beholden first and foremost to Rome, a notion we thought was laughable and bigoted when John F. Kennedy ran for president, who could blame them? Next month American Catholic bishops meet for a retreat in Colorado. There they should speak out against grievous sin, the sin of using communion to punish by those who have not the moral authority to persuade. (Source: Anna Quindlen: Casting the First Stone)
I don't like threats, Ms. Quindlen. Your metatext betrays you: while you decry the possibility of an ascendant (yet Church-provoked) anti-Catholicism, you fan the fire of bigotry yourself.

Ms. Quindlen, Catholic morality is not up for a vote. It is based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ and in the Tradition of the Apostles. If you want a right to veto that, you might as well join formally the Episcopal Church and leave the Catholic Church to the Catholics.


Speaking of Episcopalians, the Episcopal Church convetion in Canada approved yesterday a motion sanctioning the "sanctity of same-sex unions." Another Episcopal jurisdiction falls into apostasy using evangelical compassion as a loincloth. Well, maybe in the near future the Episcopalians will drop the word "Church" from their name because they'll find it too divisive, too Christian-sounding and offensive to Muslims, Jews, and other Episcopalians who may prefer the more modern words "assembly" or "congregation." Soon after that, they might drop the name "Christian" from their Book of Common Prayer and their Canons too. Why keep up the pretense?

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

The northern Virginia-based Muslim Students' Association: How benign are they?

The northern Virginia-based Muslim Students' Association (MSA) might easily be taken for a benign student religious group. It promotes itself as a benevolent, non-political entity devoted to the simple virtue of celebrating Islam and providing college students a healthy venue to develop their faith and engage in philanthropy. Along these lines, its constitution declares the MSA's mission as serving "the best interest of Islam and Muslims in the United States and Canada so as to enable them to practice Islam as a complete way of life."[1]

Today, over 150 MSA chapters exist on American college campuses (divided into five regional chapters), easily establishing this organization as the most extensive Muslim student organization in North America. A Washington, D.C.-based national office assists in the establishment of constituent chapters and oversees fundraising and conferences while steering a plethora of special committees and "Political Action Task Forces."

Yet consider some of these recent activities of the MSA:

- At a meeting in Queensborough Community College in New York in March 2003, a guest speaker named Faheed declared, "We reject the U.N., reject America, reject all law and order. Don't lobby Congress or protest because we don't recognize Congress. The only relationship you should have with America is to topple it … Eventually there will be a Muslim in the White House dictating the laws of Shariah."[2]

- During an October 2000 anti-Israeli protest, former MSA president Ahmed Shama at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) stood before the Israeli consulate in Los Angeles, shouting "Victory to Islam! Death to the Jews!" MSA West president Sohail Shakr declared at the same rally, "the biggest impediment to peace [in the Middle East] has been the existence of the Zionist entity in the middle of the Muslim world."[3]

- Prior to September 11, 2001, the MSA formally assisted three Islamic charities in fundraising: the Holy Land Foundation, Global Relief, and Benevolence Foundation. After that date, all three were accused by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of having serious links to terrorism and were ordered closed. The MSA issued a formal statement of protest: "How three of the nation's largest Muslim charities could be made inoperable at the peak of the giving season of Ramadan seemed unbelievable."[4]

This is only the tip of the iceberg. There is overwhelming evidence that the MSA, far from being a benign student society, is an overtly political organization seeking to create a single Muslim voice on U.S. campuses—a voice espousing Wahhabism, anti-Americanism, and anti-Semitism, agitating aggressively against U.S. Middle East policy, and expressing solidarity with militant Islamist ideologies, sometimes with criminal results.
Is interesting to see how these groups take advantage of our hospitality and our freedoms in order to undermine them. But I don't want to start a witchhunt or a panic. The only way to counteract these fanatics is with more information, truthful information, and ostracism. Prove me wrong, younger people (than me): unleash your own fury against these kooks in the form of tracts and challenges and debate. Feel called to protest? Are you looking for a cause? Protest something worthwile. Protest the MSA.

Read the whole piece here: Islamism's Campus Club: The Muslim Students' Association - Middle East Quarterly - Spring 2004