Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Hispanics and Catholicism Part II

In my previous post "Hispanics and Catholicism" I dealt with a certain article from Crisis Magazine that argued that Hispanic immigration will do much to help re-evangelize American society. At the time, there was no direct link to the article so I couldn't comment on any specific points made. Well now, apparently now there is a link to the article. Not impressive.

The author, John Burger, starts off by saying that the fears of men like Samuel Huntington about Hispanic immigration are bogus, since Hispanics are slowly becoming more American. Burger's proof for this assertion? Well apparently because "the Republican candidate for president garnered 42 percent of the Hispanic vote—a significant increase over that same candidate’s performance four years earlier."

So yes, apparently voting for a Republican candidate is proof enough to show how American you are. This is absolutely absurd to argue this point, but then again I'm not entirely surprised since the close relationship between Crisis and the Neo-Conservative movement has already been pointed out on this blog before.

Rather than go through all his arguments (which in some ways I already addressed) , I want to focus in on his most absurd argument. Burger agrees that Hispanic immigration will fundamentally change America's identity, but he's not worried. Why is that? As he explains:
"With massive Hispanic immigration, America is becoming less English-oriented and more reflective of Latino culture. But, as many in recent years have noted, America used to be a Christian nation. With Hispanic immigration, it may become so again."

It's quite clear that Burger has no idea what exactly it means to be a Christian nation. I devoted an entire post to that topic here. I even quoted from Adrian Hastings(a Catholic priest himself, although a very liberal one) who said the Israelite model of the Old Testament shows that a Christian nation icharacterizeded by "a unity of people, language, religion, territory and government." I also linked to an essay from John Mark Ministries, which quotes Biblical scholar Rowland Croucher as saying that "when the Bible speaks of 'nations' it is primarily referring to people groups defined not so much by artificial political boundaries, as by ethnic origin, language, group loyalty, custom and religion."

This runs counter to Burger's concept of a "Christian nation" which denies any reference to unity of ethnicity and culture. By dismissing America's English-orientated culture, he's dismissing America's national heritage altogether. Hispanic Catholicism reflects its own cultural heritage. American Catholicism must do the same. By importing Hispanics, you're destroying America's heritage(both ethnic and religious). People like John Burger can't seem to understand that.

Muslims Should Leave Europe

At least that's what one radical Islamic cleric is declaring. This is certainly good advice for Europe's Muslims, and it will benefit not only Europe's native populations but also theirs as well. As I pointed out in a previous post, hostility towards Muslims is rising in Europe and its root cause is the incompatibility of Islamic values with the surrounding Christian-rooted European culture. So not only will native Europeans reclaim their own continent but so will the Muslims be able to freely celebrate their heritage among their own brethren in their native lands.

So go in peace sons of Muhammad, but go!

Phil Donahue vs. Bill O'Reilly

Here's a video clip of the intense debate between Phil Donahue and Bill O'Reilly over Cindy Seehan and the Iraq war in general. I must say it was nice to finally see somebody put that Neo-con loud-mouth O'Reilly in his proper place. That is not to say I necessarily like Phil Donahue either, I find his Liberal views especially on issues like immigration and multi-culturalism in general utterly disgusting. However, when it came to criticizes American foreign policy, he's usually on the mark. One reason why I remain an ideological non-conformist, one side is usually right on certain issues while the other side is right on others.

If you're unable to download the video clip, here's a transcript of the debate. Trust me, this is an exciting spectacle to watch.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The War Racketeers in Iraq

Carl Meyer, editor of G2mil, gives a wonderful analysis about much of the bullshit that surrounded the march to war in Iraq, and how the only people who have benefited from the invasion are largely greedy contractors.

G2mil is a wonderful site for true analysis of military affairs, instead of much of the garbage you usually find in relation to this topic.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

New EWTN series

Apparently there's a new series on EWTN concerning Catholic Social teachings. I'm certainly going to keep an eye on this one. Hopefully I'll be able to view a few episodes and give a review of the series.

Sadly much of what passes off as "Catholic" social teachings nowadays is utter nonsense. Especially those who believe the church's doctrine must somehow be "adapted" to the zeitgeist of the modern age. Most annoying are those who argue that Catholicism should embrace globalization and/or multiculturalism, which would mean rejecting our "narrow" loyalties to our nation, ethnicity, community, etc. Of course this violates Catholic traditional thinking on the matter, and sadly I have so little time to go further into this. A wonderful article from Catholic Rural Life helps spell out the late John Paul II's position on this question:
"[S]maller social units -- whether nations themselves, communities, ethnic or religious groups, families or individuals -- must not be namelessly absorbed into a greater conglomeration, thus losing their identity and having their prerogatives usurped."
Anyways, hopefully most of the Liberal nonsense will be absent or significantly limited in this new series. However, I sincerely have my doubts. Especially since it seems to center around the teachings of John Paul II (which is typical for EWTN and Neo-Catholics in general).

Nothing entirely wrong with many of John Paul II's teachings as we just saw above, but I believe it's an error to overly focus on his teachings. Great emphasis should be placed on Pope Leo XIII, who brought Catholic Social Doctrine into the modern age, especially with his encyclical Rerum Novarum.

Just my thoughts on the matter.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Suburban Decadence

I found a wonderful quote from Christopher Lasch concerning the decadent nature of suburban life, provided by the Terra Firm blog. We often hear about the degraded nature of urban life and how the flight to the suburbs is somehow a noble reaction to this degradation(often compared to the old practice of moving into the countryside).

Many conservatives, like Benjamin Shapiro for example, even try defending the lifestyle of suburbia against what they see as Hollywood unfairly maligning it as "a morally hypocritical, empty, sick place" in popular TV shows like "Desperate Housewives" or movies like "American Beauty". Perhaps people like Shapiro can't face the hard truth that maybe such shows and movies actually reflect real life in suburbia (which would certainly explain why they're so popular). Shapiro continues insisting that suburbia "is a decent representation of the American dream. Ideal suburbia represents the wish to rise in the world, to have a home of one's own, to raise a family and children within communal morality." I particularly like the last one, since many people like to argue about the genuine sense of "community" that exists in suburbs, as opposed to the empty loneliness of the cities. Well Lasch clearly refutes this myth:

"It is often said that people went to the suburbs in search of "community," as an alternative to urban anonymity. I think it was just the other way around. What they craved was complete privacy -- the freedom to bring up their children without interference from intrusive relatives and neighbours, to choose their friends on the basis of mutual interests instead of physical proximity and to organize their time without consulting the pleasure or convenience of anyone else. Suburbs appeared to institutionalize the principle of free and unlimited choice. They were designed to exclude everything not subject to choice -- the job, the extended family, the enforced sociability of the city streets. Americans hoped to put all that behind them when they headed for the seclusion of the suburbs, where they were accountable, it seemed, to no one."
--Christopher Lasch, "The Sexual Division Of Labour," in Women And The Common Life: Love Marriage And Feminism
So rather than the being basis for building a true sense of community, suburbs provided the perfect basis for the thriving of narcissism that prevails in our modern culture. Since the 1950's, suburban norms and ideals became those of American society in general, and it comes as no surprise that the decadence of the 1960's quickly followed. The 50's were merely governed by a materialism and decadence that decided to hide behind a mask of decency and morality. Since the 60's, that mask was torn off and the materialism and decadence was given free reign without any regard for restraint. This is a fact often ignored by those who idealize the 50's as some kind of golden age.

Not only that, the insane suburban ideal has caused another plague on our society known as urban sprawl, in which many square miles of forests, farm land, and not to mention often historical sites as well, are destroyed to make room for Wall-Marts, shopping malls, fast-food places, big spaced out housing, and roads frequented by gas-guzzling SUVs. Nothing more than a post-modern cultural waste-land!

At least in the big cities, admist all the garbage(which most certainly does exist) you can at least experience some resemblance of real culture. Whether it be in the form of great historical landmarks and buildings(or buildings built when a real sense of aesthetics governed), symphony halls and theaters, museums of great quality, and such. You hardly find any of this in your typical suburbs, or if you do it's only of half-ass quality.

Luckily, there is a movement now to attempting to check the continual suburbanization of life called the "New Urbanism". William S. Lind wrote an interesting article about this new movement for the American Conservative. Sadly there's no direct link to the article, but a good commentary on it can be read here. Another interesting commentary on this movement is Robert Royal's article "the Old Urbanism", written for Crisis Magazine.

A revival of urban life in its geniune sense would do wonders for our society. Need we forget that the greatest achievements of civilization (art, archiecture, music, philosophy, etc) were often accomplished in urban areas. It might also do much to save rural life in its true sense from urban sprawl. Moving to the suburbs is not the same as moving to the countryside. Many suburbanites try to protray themselves as country bumpkins, but since when did bumpkins drive SUVs and drink Starbucks? In fact suburbia is nothing more than a pathetic attempt to dress up post-modern decadence as a form of ruralism.

Not to mention how much suburban teenagers nowadays put on the charade of acting like real gangstas from the ghettos ( hey, why not give them a chance to live out their fantasy and see what gangsta life is really about). Bottom line, suburban life is decadence unchecked. Unlike traditional urban and rural life, where any decadence is checked by some force.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Brothers Grimm, Folklore, and Nationalism

Just the other day I saw the movie "The Brothers Grimm" starring Matt Damon and Heath Ledger as the famous pair as they battle to save a village from a wicked princess. It contains all the elements from the famous fairy tales they made famous (and the film depicts the adventure as the inspiration for the brothers to commit to writing down these stories). I must say, I personally enjoyed this movie, yet there seems to be more to it than might appear at first glance to the casual movie-goer.

Most moviegoers who see this movie will probably not understand the greater historical context during which the story takes place, yet in my opinion to do so would shed much greater light onto the film. Understandably so, the historical events within the film take a backseat to the main story of the brothers fighting against enchanted spirits. Hopefully however, this short outline of the historical context provided here will help give a basic understanding.

The year the movie takes place is around 1811, and Germany is under occupation by the French. This is the eve of the War of Liberation, in which the German people would later rise up against their foreign oppressors. In the midst of this war, German nationalism would emerge as a major force in society and the brothers Grimm were connected to this process.

The historical brothers were firm German nationalists and they saw their work of writing down old peasant folk tales as doing their duty of preserving their peoples heritage. They were devoted to the ideals of the 18th century Germany thinker Johann Gotfried Herder(recognized as the father of modern nationalism); who viewed folklore as representing the soul of a nation and not just merely cute little bedtime stories.

Herder was speaking in defiance of the zeitgeist of his age, the age of the Enlightenment. The ideals of this period depended on rejecting traditional ways of doing things, putting faith in reason and science as opposed to religion (which men of this age denounced as just silly superstition), and looking past narrow loyalties to ones folk and instead believing in a cosmopolitan world order. France was the intellectual center of the Enlightenment, and its ideals would later launch the French Revolution. As the armies of the French Revolution marched out across Europe, they brought the ideals of the Enlightenment with them.

Yet when the French occupied the German territories in the aftermath of the Battle of Jena (in which Napoleon defeated the Prussian army), a great intellectual backlash against the Enlightenment emerged. Led by figures as diverse as Johann Fichte, Ernst-Moritz Ardnt, Frederich Jahn, the brothers August and Friederich Schlegel, among others; these men encouraged the German people to reject the ideals the French wished to impose of them and instead take pride in their heritage. Fichte even rallied the German people to arms in his famous "Addresses to the German Nation". This intellectual backlash would in time culminate in the War of Liberation and eventually the unification of the Germans under Bismarck.

Yet even that’s not the entire story (which sadly cannot be fully outlined here), for out of this intellectual backlash emerged the philosophy and aesthetic known today as Romanticism and its ideals spread far beyond Germany. Intellectuals from across the European continent (and even to America) themselves started rejecting the cosmopolitanism of the Enlightenment as well and looked instead for inspiration in their ethnic heritages, especially their folklore. This in turn would later lead to a great development in the arts, literature, music, and especially politics.

The historical Grimm brothers were very much part of this process, and in small doses could be seen within the film. When they’re fighting against the enchanted spirits of traditional German folklore(whom they would later make famous in their writings), in a strange sense one can say they’re also fighting the French occupiers and the ideals they represent. Against the secularism and cosmopolitanism of the French (which is depicted in the film, as they look with contempt upon the superstitious Germans), the brothers Grimm are making a fight for devotion to folkish and spiritual traditions. They’re unknowingly taking part in the cultural and intellectual process that would later inspire their people (not to mention other nations of Europe) to rise up and fight against Napoleon in the years to come.

Indeed in the film, the brothers do engage in some minor fighting against a French general(played by Jonathan Pryce) , but this takes second-place to the greater struggle against the wicked princess. The actual fight against the French occupation is simply not the focus of the story, but as mentioned above it can be seen allegorically.

This is very much an interesting film to watch, and I encourage others to watch it.