Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The positive side effects of Abstinence

Apparently there's an interesting study just out now showing that there are indeed positive side effects of abstaining from sexual intercourse until at least the age of 18. Among these benefits are a reduced risk of divorce, being able to obtain a better education, and earning better income. Thank you antonia for bringing this study to all our attention.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Some bold statements about modern degradation from a Reverend

Reverend John Papworth gives an outstanding speech concerning the issue of the restoration of community life and the traditional values of Western civilization. It's quite a shame that there aren't more clergymen out there like him, taking strong stands on the corrupt nature of modern society.

It's noted at the end that Rev. John Papworth is the editor of a newspaper titled Fourth World Review, which is described as:
"Totally prejudiced, biased and one-sided in favour of small nations and small, empowered, decision-making communities, as opposed to overcentralised, top heavy, mass political structures and to giant forms of economic collapse. A journal for radical thinkers and for thinking radicals."
That most pretty much sums up the philosophy governing this blog, and if I ever find a homepage to this paper I will most certainly add it to my links.

May God bless your work Rev. John Papworth, perhaps you might consider converting to Catholicism someday! ;)

Uniting the Populists - Left and Right

I recently came across Daniel Nichols' post "Beyond Political Manicheism: a New Populism?". The basic point he makes is that the established political labels of "Left" and "Right" are basically obsolete and meaningless. When you honestly think about it, it's not difficult to come to this conclusion.

Political discourse nowadays is nothing but a bunch of loud-mouth commentators like Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Al Franken, Phil Donahue, etc. basically shouting at each other and calling people names; either on their TV shows, radio programming, websites/blogs, or in newspapers and magazines. Then each side tries to portray their shouting matches as the ultimate battle between the forces of good and evil. Liberals are nothing more than Bin Laden's fifth column in America, and Conservatives are just Bible-thumping redneck hicks from the boonies who want to keep us all in "the Dark Ages"(*Twilight Zone theme playing the background*). And so on. This would all seem very entertaining if it weren't so pathetic, especially when taking into effect this is what counts for "intelligent" discussion on political and social issues.

Yet, thankfully, on both sides of the spectrum there are those who actually stand for deeply held principles. To these people, political discussion is not about obnoxious name-calling. Rather, to them political discussion is about the contest between different visions of the world and determining which vision will best serve the common good of society. In order to intelligently decide which vision is best for society, one has to know what on earth they're actually talking about!

Nichols notes another important similarity between these two (supposedly) different camps, they both operate on a populist agenda. Populists stand in opposition to the established powers and speak out for the needs of the common people, which they (often correctly) perceive are being ignored by the establishment. They call for democracy in its true sense; a government of the people, for the people.

Yet too often democracy (or even government in general) has been corrupted by powerful elites, which manipulate the systems of power to serve their own narrow interests. In his book What's Wrong with the World, G.K. Chesterton best described these menacing elites with the nicknames of Hudge and Gudge. Long story short, Hudge stands for Big Government while Gudge is for Big Business. Although on the surface they may seem to be deadly enemies, yet in reality they're more alike than different. And as Chesterton further explained, they both have a similar goal, to screw with the lives of the common man (nicknamed "Jones").

Chesterton's work, though written back in 1910, very much accurately describes the current situation of modern politics. Simply put, the Democrats are the party of Hudge while the Republicans are the party of Gudge. Politics sure does make a whole lot more sense now doesn't it? So what counts as political discussion to these two factions is pretty much battling over issues that only really concern themselves. Not only that, they both can depend on their own private armies of media agitators to sell their arguments to the general public and make it seem like that these issues actually concern the interests of the common man.

That or when a major issue does come up, the arguments given are extremely shallow or trivial; or even worse blown out of proportion as the only major issue that matters. Perfect examples of such are the issues surrounding abortion and gay marriage. Not that these issues are not important, but let's also remember that the world doesn't revolve around these issues either.

Anyways, back to the original topic here. The people who wish to stand up to the powers of Hudge and Gudge are the populists, who operate on both sides of the political spectrum. Just like their counterparts Hudge and Gudge, populists of both the Left and Right often have more similarities than differences, although come to similar conclusions from different perspectives. So who are the modern opponents of Hudge and Gudge? Nichols names them as none other than Pat Buchanan of the Right, and Ralph Nader of the Left. And rather than simply imitating the charade contest of Hudge vs. Gudge, Nichols (along with others) advocate that these two should unite against what really amounts to their common enemy. That is most certainly an undertaking worth pursuing.

Note: It is interesting how Nichols discusses the estranged relationship between the Left and populism. The Left often just caters to the interests of Berkeley-style elites. Yet this wasn't always so. The Left was actually often associated with populism until being hijacked by the elitist New Left that emerged in the 1960's. Nichols presents George McGovern as the archetype of an old-fashion Leftist populist. Maybe, but perhaps that distinction should go to none other than William Cobbett. Just my opinion.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Catholics and their guns....oh my!

Fidei Defensor has written an excellent post concerning the Catholic position on gun control and the general ownership of guns by citizens.

I'm currently working on a post that will further outline my views on this issue, in relation to issues of national defense in general.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

St. Thomas Aquinas!

Well the 28th of January will be the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas, also known as "the Dumb Ox". He is the patron saint of philosophers and intellectuals, and no doubt he has earned that title. Thomas Aquinas is without a doubt the most articulate and influential theologian of all times. He is perhaps only rivaled by St. Paul and St. Augustine in this regard.

He is best known for his work the Summa Theologica, which is perhaps the most quoted source on Catholic doctrine outside of the Bible. Not only that, Aquinas was key in reviving interest into Classical philosophers (especially Aristotle) during the Medieval period that would later bloom to full growth during the Renaissance. He was also the intellectual leader of the Scholastics movement.

Although St. Thomas Aquinas lived and wrote during the Medieval period, his influence has echoed through time right up to the modern era. Pope Leo XIII even established Thomism as the official doctrine of the Catholic Church in his 1876 encyclical Aeterni Patris. Yet it was not only in church doctrine that his influence has been felt.

Lay Catholic thinkers of different stripes and backgrounds owe much to the influence of the "Dumb Ox". This is especially true in the case of Jacques Maritain, considered one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century and a leading Neo-Thomist scholar.

G.K. Chesterton wrote was is commonly considered the best biography on this intriguing saint. Not only did Chesterton write about his life, but also the great wonder of his thinking. Chesterton dubbed Aquinas the parton saint of common sense. For it is on common sense that Thomist philosophy is based upon, as opposed to complex and overly complicated theories like modern philosophy.

May the influence of St. Thomas Aquinas never fade from the world!

Monday, January 23, 2006

How Jesus feels about abortion

What more can be said? Please pray for the Unborn

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Mere Discipleship or mere nonsense?

I've been meaning to give a commentary on Lee C. Camp's book Mere Discipleship: Radical Christianity in a Rebellious World for some time now. The book claims to be a guide for living the "radical" message of Jesus Christ. As the title also suggests, it's a working on C.S. Lewis' concept of Mere Christianity, although as we shall see, Camp does Lewis a great disservice with this book.

Frankly I don't have enough time to go through all of Camp's arguments. Rather, I'll concentrate on the eighth chapter of his book, which is oddly titled "Baptism: Why Disciples Don't Make Good Americans (or Germans, or Frenchmen)". According to Camp, baptism into Christ's kingdom means renouncing your national identity. One cannot be a good Christian and a good patriot. As usual, he justifies his argument by quoting Galatians 3:28("There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Jesus Christ") ad nauseum. Of course, I already debunked this interpretation of St. Paul's words in a previous post. It should be noted that Camp is arguing from an Anabaptist perspective, which holds a negative view towards patriotism.

However the notion that entry into Christ's kingdom means renouncing loyalty to your nation is complete nonsense. Christian leaders across both time and the theological spectrum have praised patriotism as a noble virtue. This is especially true in the case of Catholicism. This was best laid out by the Catholic Association for International Peace in a pamphlet titled Patriotism, Nationalism, and the Brotherhood of Man:
"Men have always lived in groups. Apparently it is a part of God's plan that they should. And one of the things which have enabled them to live in groups has been the loyalty —the patriotism—which God has implanted in their very nature. This loyalty—this patriotism—this love of country'—involves a triple affection. It embraces an affection for familiar places, an affection for familiar persons, and an affection for familiar ideas. One's 'country' connotes all of these: the land itself, the persons on it, and the traditions associated with it."source

I cannot think of an assessment more starkly different from Camps's viewpoint. It is quite clear just from the issue of patriotism and national identity, Lee C. Camp's "Mere Discipleship" is just mere nonsense. Yet sadly, such views are becoming commonplace within so-called "Christian" circles. There's even a blog dedicated to discussing Lee's ideas.

It is time we patriotic Christians began spreading the truth!

Myth of Medieval Totalitarianism

Here's a very interesting piece by John P. McCarthy titled "Decentralism and Statism in the Experience of Christendom". In short McCarthy goes to great length explaining the governing political philosophy of Medieval Christendom and how it compares to modern political institutions; particularly on the question of statism(i.e. centralized governmental control) as opposed to decentralism.

Contrary to the popular myth expressed nowadays, Medieval Christendom tended to favor the latter, while modern liberal and secularist governments have tended towards the former. As he explains:

Many good Liberals, especially in the nineteenth century, characterized Christendom as a theocracy, the epitome of centralization and statism, especially because of the suggestion that political authority emanated from the Pope. However, while there was that theocratic proclivity in Western Christendom, it was more the exception than the rule. In fact, the historical record of Christendom, and the heritage of Christendom that continues, probably more in the United States than Europe itself, should indicate that Christendom was a major supporter of decentralization and opponent of statism.

McCarthy goes onto to explain that Christian theology itself seems to "militate against statism and favor decentralization." Largely this was because of the doctrine of Original Sin(which implies that man is too flawed to have absolute power) along with his Christ's command to "render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, but to God the things that are God's". This implied that Caesar was not the sole authority in the world, but that the commands of God had to be obeyed as well.

Possibly the most interesting point made in this piece is that one key social institution prevented the state from assuming absolute power during the Medieval period, and that institution was none other than the church. For example, the ability of the pope to excommunicate monarchs "was an important restraint on absolute political power."

However over time, especially beginning in the late Medieval period, monarchs were able to concentrate more and more power into their own hands. The Great Schism and other unfortunate incidents that served to weaken the geo-political power of the Papacy only helped this process along. By the time of the Renaissancence and the Wars of Religion, the existence of absolute monarchies became the norm throughout Europe.

Then came the supposed "Age of Enlightenment" in the 18th century, where intellectuals proposed new theories about man and of the state. The thinkers of the Enlightenment believed that man, through use of reason, could perfect himself. This of course ran contrary to the Christian concept of original sin, but the Enlightenment rejected Christian morality as nothing more than outdated rubbish. Having believed that man could become perfect, logically one could also argue about the ability to create the perfect state. And that's just what the Enlightenment thinkers sought to lay out. Basically the job of the state was to create a more enlightened and perfect world. However, in order to accomplish that goal, a more efficient and centralized form of government would be needed. Many European monarchs adopted this viewpoint under the premise of "elightened despotism".

The ideals of the Enlightenment eventually lead to the French Revolution of 1789, and consequently the further centralization of governmental power. Yet the idea of the state being a vehicle for transforming society into a more perfect ideal did not die, in fact it was further articulated throughout the 19th century and came to full practice within the 20th century with unspeakable horrors.

So rather than totalitarianism being a product of Christendom, it is rather a product of centuries of turning away from Christian teachings. Ironically when Medieval people spoke about the separation of church and state, they largely meant it so that the church wouldn't be corrupted by the state. The church, again, was seen as a divinely inspired institution that held society together and whose moral power kept the state in check. In contrast, when we now speak about this concept it's reversed; somehow the state is in danger of being corrupted by the church. However, it can clearly be seen which force has caused more destruction when left unchecked by more moral forces.

Yet the notion that Christianity provided the framework for totalitarianism has gained new emphasis within a intellectual movement known as the European New Right, also known by its French name Nouvelle Droite. Long story short, this a group of intellectuals who believe in revitalizing European civilization and providing the intellectual case for legitimizingtng ethnic identities. Certainly nothing wrong with that. However, this movement is Neo-pagan in orientation, and wishes to blame Christianity for much of the mess of the modern world.

Tomislav Sunic is a key thinker within this movement who shares this view. In his article "Marx, Moses and the Pagans in the Secular City", he lays out his case that "the roots of tyranny do not lie in Athens or Sparta, but are traceable, instead, to Jerusalem" and the Bible. He certainly agrees with the assessment of Oswald Spengler that "Christian theology is the grandmother of Bolshevism", because of its emphasis on social justice and so on. If it weren't for 2000 years of Christianity, Liberalism and Communism would not have been possible, or so their argument goes.

McCarthy completely dismisses this argument, stating that "Christians were not to construct a terrestrial utopia". This is because Christ himself stated that his kingdom was not of this world. Jim Kalb also offers his thoughts on this issue, arguing that rather than being the direct result of Christianity, liberalism and communism were more or less gross perversions of Christian doctrine. BTW, here's a link to another interesting discussion about the European New Right's mistaken views on Christianity by Jim Kalb and others.

Anyways, the lesson here is that the example of Medieval Christendom provided the example of limited government in its true sense (not the so-called conservative fraud of "small government"), while secularism has done nothing but given government more power than it needs. This is why Catholic Social Doctrine has always upheld decentralization, aka subsidiarity, as an all important element.

So the next you meet a liberal who screams about the seperation of church and state on the grounds that religion will set up a tyrannical theocracy(like in the Middle Ages or "Dark Ages" as they're more commonly referred to derogatorily), you can counter them with the facts!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Welcome to God, Family, Nation

Even though this blog is largely the continuation of a previous one, nevertheless I feel it's necessary to provide a basic outline of what this blog is all about.

So here's a short outline of some of the basic principles this blog stands for:

- The rejection of the narrow political labels of "left" and "right", instead calling for a Third Way that stands for a social and political order built on Christian (more specifically Catholic) principles.

- The defense of Christendom against all its ideological enemies: secularism, multi-culturalism, Islam, etc.

- The validity of ethnic and national identities, along with supporting the patriotic/nationalist aspirations of all Christian peoples.

- Defending the rich heritage of Europe, which has deep roots in the Christian faith. "The Faith is Europe. And Europe is the Faith."

- The decentralization of governmental control, in accordance with the Catholic principle of subsidiarity. "Small is beautiful".

- Defending the family as the basic building block of society. This includes defending the right of unborn children to life.

- A just economic system based on the widespread ownership of property, small businesses, and worker cooperatives. This includes defending the agrarian way of life.

- A society built on communitarian values, as opposed to modern social atomism.

- Advocating personalism as opposed to individualism(ie narcissism). Whereas the individual is opposed to society, the person fully develops within society.

- A national defense system based upon an armed citizenry, resembling the military system of Switzerland. Also advocating a foreign policy based on armed neutrality.

- Regeneration of the churches through adherence to traditional Christian teachings. This is especially true for the Catholic Church.

And so on.

I have returned!

Well it's been some time, but my new blog is up and running with a new name and address. I still have my old posts, so don't despair over that.

There are still some tidying up I need to do, but for the most part things are settled.

I'm still busy at the moment, so don't expect any special for the time being. Basically every now and then my posts will largely be quotes, either serious or even humorous. There are still plenty of topics I've been planning on commenting for some time now.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Happy New Year and Epiphany!

Well I'm a week late, but Happy New Year! And Happy Epiphany, to my fellow Catholic brothers and sisters.

Sadly, I didn't have a good time celebrating this special holy day; which I will explain in detail in another post hopefully. Long story short, the church I chose to attend mass in had a very degraded liturgy!

Sorry I've not been able to blog here lately, several things have come up. Hopefully in the near future I will be able to pick things up here. I have plenty of ideas for interesting commentaries to post here.

So bear with me for the time being.