The Church v. the United States

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

There was a piece by Fr Spadaro and Marcelo Figueroa in the unofficial papal organ La Civiltà Cattolica. It was an attack piece, not so much on America per se, as on the American Catholic Church especially how it has so often become allied to US Evangelicals. I noted that it was published and let it go – I don’t know enough to comment intelligently, and so try not to. But Matthew Schmitz writing in The Catholic Herald, goes where I fear to tread, and very ably, too.

The men surrounding Francis see him as an indispensable support of a uniquely just political system. In a series of speeches on Europe, Francis has embraced that role, arguing that with the formation of the European Union, Europe finally “found its true self”. Europe had always had “a dynamic and multicultural identity”, but only since World War II has that identity been embodied in societies “free of ideological conflicts, with equal room for the native and the immigrant, for believers and non-believers”.

Francis stresses diversity over identity, dialogue over agreement. (“If there is one word that we should never tire of repeating, it is this: dialogue.”) For all else the men share, this is a view opposed to that of Benedict XVI, who called on Europeans to “embrace our own heritage of the sacred” and warned that “multiculturalism, which is so passionately promoted, can sometimes amount to an abandonment and denial, a flight from one’s own things”. Benedict XVI saw the Church and the liberal order standing in a deeply ambivalent relationship. If Francis is more optimistic that they can partner, it is perhaps because he desires both a liberal Church and a liberal politics – each ratifying the other in a kind of inverted integralism.

I (and many others) have noted that the Church sounds like an entirely different institution under Francis than it did Benedict. Nor does it seem to many of us one that promotes either the Kingdom of God or the good of the average man. After a needed explanation of integralism, the author continues.

It is in this context that one must understand the Vatican’s recent sally against America in the unofficial papal organ La Civiltà Cattolica. Written by Fr Spadaro and Marcelo Figueroa, another papal confidant, the article is not merely an expression of anti-American spite or an attack on ecclesial enemies. It is an attempt to defend the liberal order against what is perceived, rightly or wrongly, as an existential threat.

Spadaro and Figueroa believe that American Catholics and Evangelicals resemble ISIS, in that they have formed a “cult of the apocalypse” in which the “community of believers (faith) becomes a community of combatants (fight)”. Underlying this cult of the apocalypse is a “political Manichaeism”, a desire to identify “what is good and what is bad”, which ultimately “divides reality between absolute Good and absolute Evil”. Spadaro and Figueroa single out for censure a fringe website called Church Militant – perhaps less for its influence (which is minor) than for its martial name.

If an indigenous tribesman interrupted in his affairs by a Columbus or Pizarro had read the accounts those explorers sent home, he would have marvelled as I did while reading this document. Error and exaggeration bloom, as the authors survey an unfamiliar landscape. American deserts and wastes were once expected to disclose glittering El Dorados; today, obscure websites and forgotten thinkers are accorded capital significance.

It’s sort of funny, really, about five years ago, a friend, an English Catholic living in Spain, asked me what I made of Michael Voris the force behind The Church Militant. After watching some of his videos, I told her that while much of his message resonated with me, some quite strongly, I found him too narrowly Roman Catholic to have any valid solutions, at least in America. I suspect that sort of thing happens fairly often, with both Catholic and Evangelical sources, we all have our separate axes that need grinding, but we also have quite a few common interests. That is part of the genius that seems to be mostly American, to cooperate and yet fight (mostly bloodlessly) like the very devil amongst ourselves. I’ve often compared us to a family, we fight and quarrel amongst ourselves, but let an outsider get involved, and we’re pretty much all on side.

It is no coincidence that America is more comfortable with both religion and violence – in some strange way, the two go hand in hand. Only if public moral judgments are potentially legitimate can public violence be justified. Manent believes that Europe’s leaders have come to doubt this possibility, and so “the secular state is itself becoming secularised”. No authority has the right to say who is worthy of receiving Communion and who is not, who may live and who must die. Church and state alike are stripped of the authority to command and punish.

Americans are less confident that they can dispense with such judgments. “Since the risk of violent death at the hands of others never completely disappears, the right to self-defence cannot completely disappear” – thus capital punishment and the Second Amendment. Spadaro and Figueroa decry this as a barbaric version of the old integralism. For Manent, it is an acknowledgment of inevitable fact.

America’s savagery is all the more baffling to Europeans because the US is richer and less haunted by the past than are the nations of Europe. At once more advanced and more primitive, America is an unsettling sign that no amount of progress will reverse the effects of the Fall.

This American, at least, is convinced that we cannot dispense with moral judgement. If we do, we enter Hobbes world, “A war of all against all”. And yes, it strikes as entirely appropriate that Americans exhibit the fact that no amount of progress will reverse the effects of the Fall. After all, the very design of American constitutionalism and all that flows from it is a recognition of, and an attempt to control the effects of, the Fall itself. It has worked remarkably well, so far, both for America, and the world. Perhaps something there for Rome itself to consider.

 

Week In Pictures

Steve over at PowerLine, as always our source for most of these, comments that American politics increasingly resembles a kitchen blender running on high with the lid off. He’s got a point, and whatever was in that blender seems rather nasty. Still, we made it through another week.

I haven’t had a lot to say about Obamacare this week, seems like we’ve said it all so many times, doesn’t it? Still, it clarified that the GOP is not interested in doing what the country wants them to, so there’s that.

 

 

Does make me feel a bit sorry for the Capitol Police

 

In other news

 

But Hillary will never be President, so there is that.

 

 

 

 

Yep!

Doesn’t look like a winner to me, but maybe London is different.

Well, you decide

A really tough decision

Hmmm, Nope, leave this alone, Neo.

Sunday Pictures and a Bonus Video

Another week to sum up. Dana Loesch brings it – the truth, that is.

Meanwhile, the usual (paid) suspects are rioting in Hamburg at the G20, their old buddy Mayor deBlasio is junketing over there leading them while, as always shirking his duties. The NY Post has had enough.

I think we all can sympathise. A few more from there,  from PowerLine.

 

I’m beginning to think a whiff of grapeshot might well be in order. But I’m old fashioned like that.

Wrapping up the week, from PowerLine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heh!

Headlines of the Week

 

 

 

And, of course,

 

Happy Sunday!

We’re Doomed, Doomed I Tell You.

From Philly.com

Seventeen years after the Year 2000 bug came and went, the federal government will finally stop preparing for it.

The Trump administration announced Thursday that it would eliminate dozens of paperwork requirements for federal agencies, including an obscure rule that requires them to continue providing updates on their preparedness for a bug that many feared would afflict computers at the turn of the century.

The Pentagon will also be freed from a requirement that it file a report every time a small business vendor is paid, a task that consumed about 1,200 man-hours every year.

“We’re looking for stuff everyone agrees is a complete waste of time,” Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told reporters at the White House. He likened the move to the government “cleaning out our closets.”

Deregulation is a major ambition of President Trump’s agenda; he has signed more laws rolling back his predecessor’s regulations than the combined total of the three previous presidents since the process was established by the 1999 Congressional Review Act.

Seven of the more than 50 paperwork requirements the White House eliminated on Thursday dealt with the Y2K bug, according to a memo OMB released. Officials at the agency estimate the changes could save tens of thousands of man-hours across the federal government.

Yeah, it’s a silly story, but you know, its something that happens in all organizations. We get in habits, and no matter how irrelevant, we keep on, keepin’ on. Most of the time, it does little to no harm and might build respect for tradition, but in large part, it’s kind of silly. As Doug Powers said.

The people working in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Horse & Buggy Administration are feeling a little nervous about their jobs right now.

In other news, all from Powerline, this time.

But one is far superior

Of Course

 

 

 

Rep Scalise, and an Attack on the Republic

(Photo: Shawn Thew, European Pressphoto Agency)

[I have some things to say about the Grenfell Tower fire in London, but it won’t be today. So far, I start thinking about it, and I just sit here and cry, not least because of the parallels to the WTC back on 911. The worry over my niece that was working in lower Manhatten that day still haunts me, and the pictures from this disaster bring it all back, terribly strongly. Maybe tomorrow.]

So, let’s talk about something perhaps more evil. The assassination attempt on Steve Scalise and a bunch of other Republican Representatives. Lots of time I don’t agree with any of them, you know that, but they are our elected representatives, and we should assume they are doing what they think is right. That goes for the Democrats as well. We are a representational republic, if you don’t like what they do, vote against them.

The weapon was apparently an AK 47 variant, not that it matters, it could have been anything including a bolt action. Much of the problem was that while I suspect many of these guys have carry permits, who carries a gun at baseball practice?  I don’t, you don’t, I doubt anybody does, but yesterday it would have been a Godsend.

That said, Rep Scalise being there likely saved us from a massacre, as leadership, he is entitled to security. And a couple of very brave Capitol Police officers saved the day. I don’t know whether they took the gunman out or the responding locals did, but they at least bought time for that response.

It’s no easy thing to go up against a rifle with a handgun, but Special Agent David Bailey and Special Agent Crystal Griner are beyond doubting real American heroes. Agent Griner was apparently wounded in the attack and we obviously wish her all the best. Both agents were as well as two others, and we pray for them all.

The perpetrator is dead, which is a good outcome, as Jonathon Turley reported earlier today the penalty for attacking Congressmen with intent to kill, ranges from 25 years to death, as it should. This was not a terrorist attack, at least as we generally perceive them. He was a 60-year-old supporter of Bernie Sanders, and opposed virulently both Trump and Clinton. As usual, he was likely just crazy, not that the current environment doesn’t aggravate that. None of this rebounds to Senator Sander’s fault, it is purely the responsibility of the perpetrator. Sen. Sanders released a statement which said this.

 

Fair enough, you will all remember that Senator Sanders also defended Ann Coulter’s right to speak at Berkeley. I almost never agree with him, but he’s an honest and an honorable man.

We are already, unsurprisingly seeing the attack turned into partisan politics, especially by the press, which seemingly will do and or say anything to get noticed these days. Which of course is why they have become irrelevant in the first place.

But it is time, indeed it is well past time, to cool the rhetoric in this country some. The witchhunt and the defenses against it are becoming much too likely to precipitate violence, and as we saw this morning, that is not in any of our best interest. We don’t need to agree, but we do need to agree to act civilly, if we don’t this will become the precursor of who knows what. I was asked today by a British friend whether we are getting ready to kick off Act 4 of the “Cousin’s Wars”. My answer was that I hoped not, but I feared we are.

Losses, and Despair

This blogging is a funny thing, often. We end up considering people that we’ve never spoken to as friends and colleagues. One of the people I most enjoyed reading, although only a few times have I referenced his blog was Kevin O’Brien, who went by the screen name of Hognose. He wrote mostly about guns, and their role in our society and his posts were excellent. He was an expert on Czech weapons and made them fascinating. Quite a trick with a guy like me, that tends to think the world begins and ends with Colt. In any case, the last post on his blog was by his brother

I’m sorry to have to tell you all that my brother Kevin O’Brien, host of this blog, passed away peacefully this morning at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. […]

Now I’d like to tell you more about Kevin and how he lived and died.  He was born in 1958 to Robert and Barbara O’Brien.  We grew up in Westborough, Mass.  Kevin graduated from high school in 1975 and joined the Army in (I believe) 1979.  He learned Czech at DLI and became a Ranger and a member of Special Forces.

Kevin’s happiest times were in the Army.  He loved the service and was deeply committed to it.  We were so proud when he earned the Green Beret.  He was active duty for eight years and then stayed in the Reserves and National Guard for many years, including a deployment to Afghanistan in 2003.  He told me after that that Afghan tour was when he felt he had made his strongest contribution to the world.

He was the best of us, and I’ll miss him, always. Rest in peace, my friend, whom I never interacted with at all.

Also, and even sadder, Bob Owens of Bearing Arms, died yesterday. Preliminary indications are that it was suicide. Bob was an expert on all thing connected with the 2d Amendment. As far as I recall, he only appeared here once, but there are many drafts here for things that for one reason or another didn’t get published. The one that did was from that very dark period following the 2012 election, when it looked like the wheels were really coming off. He said then:

When I wrote What you’ll seen in the rebellion, I had no idea how widely read an article warning of the dangers of second Revolutionary War could become. It has been “shared” thousands of times in social media, and new readers and comments are pouring in constantly.

Since the time it was written, state legislators in Illinois and New York have formally pressed for crushing gun control measures that would outlaw standard-capacity magazines, all semi-automatic handguns, rifles, and pistols, and even pump shotguns. There would be no grandfathering in these proposals, and no inheritance rights. A complete confiscation of these arms, “liberty’s teeth” as other have termed them, are the goal of these totalitarian governments. Legislators in other states are plotting similar measures.

In Washington, DC, federal Democrats—goaded by figures in the poli-media calling for the murders of gun owners and politicians that would oppose their “common sense” statism—have pushed for a similar raft of legislation, supporting the criminalization and confiscation of the most common firearms in the United States and various accessories. The Vice President of the United States has signaled to the mayor of Boston (how historically apt) that the White House itself may attempt to circumvent Congress and attempt to outlaw these common firearms with an executive order.

The people have responded to these threats by not merely buying up the firearms, magazines, and ammunition that might be affected by these proposed bans as they did in 1993/94 before the Clinton-era ban was pushed through, but by purchasing nearly every firearm of military utility of the past 100+ years. Ruger 10/22s and other common .22LR rifles have doubled in price when they can be found at all. Inexpensive Mosin-Nagants, originally designed in 1891 and typically found by the dozen in your average neighborhoodgun shops, are nowhere to be found, and their ammunition is gone as well. U.S. citizens are preparing for war against their government by the millions. Americans aren’t “going Galt” in response to the push by would-be elites to surging statism. We’re on the cusp ofgoing Häyhä. […]

Most of the downtown shops, in fact, weren’t doing much business except the two gun stores. I’d been in one several days ago to pick a .22LR for an article I’d be writing forShooting Illustrated, and decided to stop in at the other to see what the current political environment had left behind.

There were no less than six clerks working feverishly with the dozen or so customers, so I simply stepped to the side and walked the aisles. The cases of ammunition that typically lined the far wall were picked to pieces. There was a 100-round case of .50 BMG, and cases of European shotshells suitable for small game. The .223 Remington, 5.56 NATO, 7.62×39, 7.62 NATO, and 7.62x54R had sold out long ago, along with the bulk 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP.

A few pump shotguns remained along with a smattering of deer rifles, single-shots, and longer double-barreled shotguns suitable only for trap or skeet. Even the semi-automatic .22LR rifles like Ruger 10/22s were gone, along with all but one BX-25 magazine.

The customers in the shop were picking through what remained; lever-action rifles, oddball shotguns, and the smattering of name-brand centerfire pistols. One man was attempting to trade in an antique double-barrel shotgun for something more current.

I did speak to one harried clerk, briefly.

They didn’t know when they’d be getting anything back in stock, from magazines to rifles to pistols. Manufacturers were running full-bore, but couldn’t come close to keeping up with market demand.It wasn’t just the AR-15s, the AK-pattern rifles, the M1As, and the FALs that were sold out. It really hit me when I realized that the World War-era M1 Garands , M1 carbines, and Enfield .303s were gone, along with every last shell. Ubiquitous Mosin-Nagants—of which every gun store always seems to have 10-20—were gone. So was their ammo. Only a dust free space marked their passing. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Every weapon of military utility designed within the past 100+ years was gone. This isn’t a society stocking up on certain guns because they fear they may be banned. This is a society preparing for war.

He was one of those men who could easily read between the lines, the ones we need to help us all.

From the reports I’ve read, it sounds to me like he suffered from depression, and it’s not uncommon. I’ve dealt with it on a more minor scale, and even there it is an insidious disease, affecting us in ways we simply do not understand, and sometimes cannot even explain to those who want to help. Sometimes nothing at all helps, and even the good things, like the relaxation of the pressure on the Amendment in the last few months, can make things even worse. Yesterday, Nina Bookout at Victory Girls Blog said this

We were shocked and saddened to hear the news that Bob Owens died yesterday of an apparent suicide. Bob Owens deeply loved his family, this country, our Constitution, and was a fierce advocate for our 2nd Amendment rights. One only has to go back through his many blog posts at Bob Owens, his work with PJ Media or as the editor of Bearing Arms, to get a sense of who this man was. I myself first learned of him through his original blog, Confederate Yankee.

I too first read him at Confederate Yankee, and I agree with all she says here. There is a Go-Fund-Me for Bob’s family that you can access here.

God rest his soul, and give his family peace.

Once when she was having a bad spot, Jess wrote to me, ending with this,  “I guess I just have to ride this out and not give in to despair.” I guess she was right for all of us.

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