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March 2013

Rejoice and sing now, all the round earth,
bright with a glorious splendor, 
for darkness has been vanquished by our eternal King.

See You On Sunday

Despite my intense desire to make caustic remarks about various current events, I won't be posting anything until at the earliest sometime late in the day Sunday. I'll look in here occasionally to get rid of any spam that makes it through (TypePad recently switched spam-fighting software and the new system seems to miss more), and reply to comments if any. I hope everyone has a blessed Triduum.

The King's Cough

The king was hale and vigorous and greatly feared by his enemies. He had a little cough, not much to notice or to inconvenience him. But his old physician recognized in it the distant rattle of death.

The physician offered him the remedy, but the king would not accept it. "It has a bitter taste," he said. "And besides, I have no need of it." He would not be persuaded, and angrily dismissed the physician.

The physician, leaving the royal apartments, passed by the guards. "Sir," said one of them, "it is remarkable that you seem of late to be growing younger."

"Yes, it is" said the physician, looking down at his hands, upon which the skin was more smooth and clear than it had been the day before.


Assistant Professor Conly Speaks Again

You remember her, right? The author of Against Autonomy: Justifiying Coercive Paternalism? Here she is again, making her case in the New York Times apropos the almost-universally-scoffed-at ban on 64-ounce "sodas" (sorry, the term is still a little foreign to me). I continue to be astounded by her serene confidence that social science and government--armed social scientists, in short--will lead us to a much better world, in which our capacity to harm ourselves is extremely limited.

But has it not occurred to her and those of similar mind that the same logic could be used to proscribe a great deal of sexual behavior which is clearly harmful not only to the individuals involved but to society at large? That's hard to imagine, but perhaps she has an answer to that in her book, which I certainly don't propose to read. "What a staggering copout," says James Taranto in the Wall Street Journal, and I agree.

By the way, just for the record I find the idea of a 64-ounce cup of some extremely sweet drink both absurd and a bit sickening. I remember when the 16-ounce RC was introduced and people thought it was excessive. Which it was.

In the Objective Room

Remember the Objective Room from C.S. Lewis's That Hideous Strength, an environment designed to undermine or destroy a person's natural responses to disorienting or repellent things? This story made me think of it: as part of a university (!) classroom exercise students were told to write the name of Jesus on a piece of paper and step on it.They weren't forced to do the actual stomping, but were expected to participate in a bit of brainwashing:

“Have the students write the name JESUS in big letters on a piece of paper,” the lesson reads. “Ask the students to stand up and put the paper on the floor in front of them with the name facing up. Ask the students to think about it for a moment. After a brief period of silence instruct them to step on the paper. Most will hesitate. Ask why they can’t step on the paper. Discuss the importance of symbols in culture.” (see this story)

The obvious result of this, and probably the conscious purpose, is to encourage students to remove themselves from active belief in such a thing as Christianity, or at least a strong residual respect for it, to that olympian plane of objectivity where they recognize that such beliefs are simply cultural symbols, all essentially alike.

The specifics of this case and its disposition are less important than what they reveal about the education establishment. The university trotted out the usual academic boilerplate: "open discourse...sensitive topics...dialogue and debate." But we all know this kind of desensitization is almost always directed at Christianity and other enemies of progressivism. As the old song says, there's something happening here; contrary to the song, though, what it is is exactly clear.

First and Last

Again, whatever science my mind is cultivating, on whatever object it fixes its thoughts, whether I reflect upon others or upon myself, all lifts me up to God, all leads me back to him; he is the first link in the chain to which all truths hold; he is the last, in which they all end. I know nothing thoroughly, either in philosophy or in morals, if I do not know God, and I cannot reason as I should on anything if I ignore God as the first cause, and the last end of all things.

--Fr. Jean-Nicolas Grou, S.J. (1731-1803)

More Reaction to Pope Francis

Maybe I just wasn't paying as much attention, or maybe I've forgotten, but I don't remember there being quite so much fuss at Benedict's election. I do remember all the leftists who smeared him as an unrepentant Nazi, and of course the progressive Catholics who had always disliked him (to put it mildly), and the more conservative ones who loved him. But the range of complaints and hopes (some very much misplaced) for Francis seems much greater. 

There's a great deal of frenzy, positive and negative, about his economic and political ideas, and the usual jockeying to appropriate him as a weapon against one's enemies in that arena, a business which I find pretty dreary and to which I am not paying much attention. And there's an attempt to condemn him for having cooperated with the murderous military regime of Argentina in the late 1970s. 

Many are worried that he will undo, or at least not support, the renewal of the liturgy which was a great concern of Benedict. Fr. Dwight Longenecker has some good things to say about that.

Amy Welborn also thinks the reaction has been greater than usual, makes some reasonable-sounding guesses about why, and expresses irritation at the tendency to draw an unfavorable contrast between Francis and Benedict. That's annoyed me, too, and so I think this is probably my favorite single sentence written, not about Francis, but about the reaction to Francis:

I’m startled by the number of people who are under the impression that Pope Benedict neglected to mention Jesus Christ, mercy or the poor during his pontificate. 

Or maybe this one:

But what has been so bizarre and even saddening over the past few days is a tone and implication that Benedict was somehow about something else besides Jesus Christ.

And Janet Cupo has a fine admonition for everybody to quit fretting and listen.

Correlation (Signs of the Times)

On Interstate 65, southbound, coming into Prattville, Alabama, there are two billboards on opposite sides of the highway: one on the right from some shyster advertising


and one on the left side advertising


(In case anyone reading this isn't familiar with the euphemism, "adult" in a context like this means "pornography.")