Friday, November 30, 2007
Sing to the Lord--A Brief Critique, And On the Other Hand...
It is clear that there were two or three (maybe more) "hands" which wrote the document, because there are far too many vague, unclear, directionless (or bi-directional) statements. It's a bit heavy on verbage and very light on definitions.
Some quick observations follow.
In #29, the authors allow the camel's nose into the tent:
Choirs (and ensembles—another form of choir that commonly includes a combination
of singers and instrumentalists) exercise their ministry in various ways
So far, there's no 'splanation of what "instrumentalists" might be inappropriate. "Ensembles" arise again in #42 with no clear modifying terms.
They are also vague here:
Other Mass parts may also be sung in dialogue or alternation, especially the Gloria, the Creed, and the three processional songs: the Entrance, the Preparation of the Gifts, and Communion.
This formulation does not specifically mention "Propers," (and in most missalettes the Offertory Proper is not even printed.) In fact, the Introit and Communio Propers ARE set up for verses (sung to a psalm-tone) and antiphon (usually more complex Chant.) Too bad it wasn't specifically mentioned. (Later, the 'Preparation of the Gifts' processional disappears!)
Compromises abound. In #30, we read:
The choir may draw on the treasury of sacred music, singing compositions by composers of various periods and in various musical styles, as well as music that expresses the faith of the various cultures that enrich the Church.
"Various styles" is overly broad. It certainly cannot be supported based on the teachings of Pius X, (nor of Pius XII,) who were explicit in mentioning Chant and Chant-based music first...
Also in #30 we see:
The music of the choir must always be appropriate to the Liturgy, either by being a proper liturgical text or by expressing themes appropriate to the Liturgy.
Which is also overly vague, allowing "various styles" to include all sorts of things. No mention of the gravitas of the Mass here, which would be a useful insertion.
On Page 27, the document mentions Latin.
...care should be taken to foster the role of Latin in the Liturgy, particularly in liturgical
song. Pastors should ensure “that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin
those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.”
Which is good. But it's followed by this:
Whenever the Latin language poses an obstacle to singers, even after sufficient
training has been provided—for example, in pronunciation, understanding of the text, or
confident rendition of a piece—it would be more prudent to employ a vernacular language in the
Meaning what, exactly? Maybe this:
In promoting the use of Latin in the Liturgy, pastors should always “employ that form
of participation which best matches the capabilities of each congregation".
In Section III, the document discusses 'different kinds of music for the liturgy.'
“Sacred music is to be considered the more holy the more closely connected it is with
the liturgical action, whether making prayer more pleasing, promoting unity of minds, or
conferring greater solemnity upon the sacred rites.” This holiness involves ritual and spiritual
dimensions, both of which must be considered within cultural context.
68. The ritual dimension of sacred music refers to those ways in which it is “connected
with the liturgical action” so that it accords with the structure of the Liturgy and expresses the
shape of the rite. The musical setting must allow the rite to unfold with the proper participation
of the assembly and its ministers, without overshadowing the words and actions of the Liturgy.
Yes--although since sacred music (by definition) uses words of the Liturgy, it can hardly 'overshadow' the words of the Liturgy.
69. The spiritual dimension of sacred music refers to its inner qualities that enable it to
add greater depth to prayer, unity to the assembly, or dignity to the ritual. Sacred music is holy
when it mediates the holiness of God and forms the Holy People of God more fully into
communion with him and with each other in Christ.
We're waiting for the term "beauty" to show up here......
70. The cultural context refers to the setting in which the ritual and spiritual dimensions
come into play. Factors such as the age, spiritual heritage, and cultural and ethnic background of
a given liturgical assembly must be considered. The choice of individual compositions for
congregational participation will often depend on those ways in which a particular group finds it
best to join their hearts and minds to the liturgical action.
And we're also waiting for the concept of "educating the Faithful."
But the authors DID quote V2 accurately:
“The Church recognizes Gregorian chant as being specially suited to the Roman
Liturgy. Therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical
services.” Gregorian chant is uniquely the Church’s own music. Chant is a living connection
with our forebears in the faith, the traditional music of the Roman rite, a sign of communion with
the universal Church, a bond of unity across cultures, a means for diverse communities to
participate together in song, and a summons to contemplative participation in the Liturgy.
And then comes the "on the other hand":
73. The “pride of place” given to Gregorian chant by the Second Vatican Council is
modified by the important phrase “other things being equal.”69 These “other things” are the
important liturgical and pastoral concerns facing every bishop, pastor, and liturgical musician. In
considering the use of the treasures of chant, pastors and liturgical musicians should take care
that the congregation is able to participate in the Liturgy with song. They should be sensitive to
the cultural and spiritual milieu of their communities, in order to build up the Church in unity
Holding two dissimilar objectives continues here:
75. Each worshiping community in the United States, including all age groups and all
ethnic groups, should, at a minimum, learn Kyrie XVI, Sanctus XVIII, and Agnus Dei XVIII, all of which are typically included in congregational worship aids. More difficult chants, such as
Gloria VIII and settings of the Credo and Pater Noster, might be learned after the easier chants
have been mastered
The Pater Noster should take an average adult about 6 weeks to learn, if they hear it every week.
76. “The assembly of the faithful should participate in singing the Proper of the Mass as
much as possible, especially through simple responses and other suitable settings.” When the
congregation does not sing an antiphon or hymn, proper chants from the Graduale Romanum
might be sung by a choir that is able to render these challenging pieces well
The red above is an interesting formulation because it implies that "hymns or antiphons" are equally valid substitutes for Propers. They aren't, of course. Propers are the FIRST option, and the order of options actually is significant in formal discourse.
Whenever a choir sings in Latin, it is helpful to provide the congregation with a vernacular translation so that they are able to “unite themselves interiorly” to what the choir sings.
Meaning that OCP will actually print the Offertory versicle in future missalettes?
The document switches back and forth from "liturgical music" to "sacred music" without carefully explaining the difference between the two--and there IS a difference, principally in use. Sacred music uses texts from Scripture or the text of the Missal. Liturgical music may use those texts, but almost always is an adaptation of those texts. Further, "liturgical" music can be used in non-Mass devotions (Hours, Marian devotions, Holy Hours)--sacred music cannot.
There's also no mention of "hymnody" proper, another genre altogether, which might be included in "liturgical" music in this document--but who knows?
Regarding new compositions, the document is equally, ah, fuzzy:
83. The Church never ceases to find new ways to sing her love for God each new day.
The Sacred Liturgy itself, in its actions and prayers, best makes known the forms in which
compositions will continue to evolve. Composers find their inspiration in Sacred Scripture, and
especially in the texts of the Sacred Liturgy, so that their works flow from the Liturgy itself.76
Moreover, “to be suitable for use in the Liturgy, a sung text must not only be doctrinally correct, but must in itself be an expression of the Catholic faith.” Therefore, “liturgical songs must never be permitted to make statements about faith which are untrue.”77 Only within this scriptural, liturgical, and creedal context is the composer who is aware of the Church’s long journey through human history and “who is profoundly steeped in the sensus Ecclesiae” properly equipped “to perceive and express in melody the truth of the Mystery that is celebrated in the Liturgy.”78 No matter what the genre of music, liturgical beauty emanates directly from that mystery and is passed through the talents of composers to emerge in music of the assembled People of God.
Pius X used terms like "form" and "beauty" and "universal." And his formulation was different; whereas this document states that 'liturgical beauty emanates directly from that mystery and ...emerges in music,' Pius was careful to state that the music must be "beautiful" in the sense that it was intellectually rigorous AND capable of 'catching the heart.'
Frankly, this statement is less clear, but a "fixit" paragraph emerges:
Today, as they continue to serve the Church at prayer, composers are encouraged to concentrate on craftsmanship and artistic excellence in all musical genres.
In discussion of instruments, the document is, once again, indefinite. While the discussion begins with citation of the "primacy" of the pipe organ, it wanders a bit:
89. However, from the days when the Ark of the Covenant was accompanied in
procession by cymbals, harps, lyres, and trumpets, God’s people have, in various periods, used a
variety of musical instruments to sing his praise. Each of these instruments, born of the culture and the traditions of a particular people, has given voice to a wide variety of forms and styles through which Christ’s faithful continue to join their voices to his perfect song of praise upon the Cross.
90. Many other instruments also enrich the celebration of the Liturgy, such as wind,
stringed, or percussion instruments “according to longstanding local usage, provided they are
truly apt for sacred use or can be rendered apt.”
Meaning what? "Percussion" instruments include the piano, tympani, and castanets. Of the three, the only one actually authorized (by Pius XII) is the tympani. The 'truly apt/rendered so' language is a barn-door merely waiting for the horses.
And, yes, there was a revolutionary statement made here:
93. Recorded music lacks the authenticity provided by a living liturgical assembly
gathered for the Sacred Liturgy. While recorded music might be used advantageously outside the Liturgy as an aid in the teaching of new music, it should not, as a general norm, be used within the Liturgy.
94. Some exceptions to this principle should be noted. Recorded music may be used to
accompany the community’s song during a procession outside and, when used carefully, in
Masses with children. Occasionally, it might be used as an aid to prayer, for example, during
long periods of silence in a communal celebration of reconciliation. However, recorded music
should never become a substitute for the community’s singing.
Recorded music has NEVER been allowed at Mass, even for chilluns, in the history of the Church. And (by the way) what's wrong with "long periods of silence" during communal reconciliation? A lack of entertainment is uncomfortable, but sinners OUGHT to be uncomfortable.
Either the music is or is NOT that of 'a living assembly.' Facsimile-music is, by definition, NOT 'living.'
The discussion of acoustics evades the fact that a 'shoebox'-shaped church (dimensionally similar to a shoebox) provides the best acoustics, if it's not covered in carpet and acoustical tile. There's a reason for that evasion: the Liturgeist Establishment has spent a LOT of other people's money building circus-tent churches, which are acoustic abominations. Mention the reality, and some people might be unhappy...
On PP 43/44, the document makes a curious statement:
The Entrance and Communion chants with their psalm verses serve to accompany the two most important processions of the Mass: the entrance procession, by which the Mass begins, and the Communion procession, by which the faithful approach the altar to receive Holy Communion
Better minds than mine will have to explain what happened to the Offertory procession, in which gifts are brought to the altar of sacrifice...and which was mentioned earlier in the document!
On the other hand, this probably explains what happened to the Offertory versicle in the Pauline Use (at least in the USA--for the European/Solesmes Gregorian Missal still HAS the Offertory versicle.)
A little later, we see this:
...congregational hymns of a particular nation or group that have been judged appropriate by the competent authorities mentioned in the GIRM, nos. 48, 74, and 87, may be admitted to the Sacred Liturgy. Church legislation today permits as an option the use of vernacular hymns at the Entrance, Preparation of the Gifts, Communion, and Recessional
Well, yah, but what is NOT mentioned is that those hymns are the LAST option mentioned in the pertinent Church documents--after the Propers of the Mass.
Here's a cute line:
121. When a Liturgy or music committee is chosen to prepare music for the Liturgy, it
should include persons with the knowledge and artistic skills needed in celebration: men and
women trained in Catholic theology, Liturgy, and liturgical music and familiar with current
resources in these areas. It is always good to include as consultants some members of the
worshiping assembly so that their perspective is represented...
....if actually followed to the letter, most "Liturgy committees" would be reduced to one or two people.
The discussion of "how to pick the music" uses three criteria, and requires that all three be considered equal in arriving at a judgment.
One of those is the "pastoral" judgment, and the latitude provided therein is astounding:
130. The pastoral judgment takes into consideration the actual community gathered to
celebrate in a particular place at a particular time...
...liturgical assemblies are composed of people of many different nations. Such peoples often “have their own musical tradition, and this plays a great part in their religious and social life. For this reason their music should be held in proper esteem and a suitable place is to be given to it, not only in forming their religious sense but also in adapting worship to their native genius. .
Other factors—such as the age, culture, language, and education of a given liturgical
assembly—must also be considered. Particular musical forms and the choice of individual
compositions for congregational participation will often depend on those ways in which a
particular group finds it easiest to join their hearts and minds to the liturgical action
Similarly, the "musical judgment," while beginning soundly:
Only artistically sound music will be effective and endure over time. To admit to the Liturgy the cheap, the trite, or the musical cliché often found in secular popular songs is to cheapen the Liturgy, to expose it to ridicule, and to invite failure.
...doesn't end that way:
Sufficiency of artistic expression, however, is not the same as musical style, for “the
Church has not adopted any particular style of art as her own. She has admitted styles from every period, in keeping with the natural characteristics and conditions of peoples and the needs of the various rites.”104 Thus, in recent times, the Church has consistently recognized and freely welcomed the use of various styles of music as an aid to liturgical worship
This means that the 'trite, cheap, and cliche' will be declared a "style" by the Liturgeists...
Skimming the rest of the document produces much of the same. It's like reading an economist's predictions: "On the one hand.....on the OTHER hand..." with some very good and some utterly silly language.
Another revision? Maybe. More likely Rome will simply intervene.
No Inflation--If You Don't Eat or Buy Fuel
The November All Farm Products Index of Prices Received by Farmers is 1.4% above October's index. Breaking it out, the crop index is up a similar 1.4%, while the livestock index rose a greater 2.3%. Producers received higher soybean, egg, corn and broiler prices, while lettuce, hogs, cattle and broccoli fetched lower prices. With this month's overall price increase, the index is now 20% higher than it was a year ago. The index for prices paid by farmers for inputs also rose this month, gaining 0.6% with rising prices for diesel fuel, complete feeds and gasoline, while lower prices were paid for feeder cattle, potash and phosphate materials and hay and forages. --The Dismal Scientist 11/30/07
So food prices are up 20% in the last year, yet the Feds claim that inflation is only running around 3%.
Maybe the cost of houses is offsetting the cost of food?
Stupid Crook Tricks
Hint: Did you know that one well-toned construction worker can lift the front end of a Subaru Justy off the ground?
Thousands of people have marched in the Sudanese capital Khartoum to call for UK teacher Gillian Gibbons to be shot.
Mrs Gibbons, 54, from Liverpool, was jailed by a court on Thursday after children in her class named a teddy bear Muhammad.
She was sentenced to 15 days for insulting religion, and she will then be deported.
The marchers took to the streets after Friday prayers to denounce the leniency of the sentence.
The protesters gathered in Martyrs Square, outside the presidential palace in the capital, many of them carrying knives and sticks.
Marchers chanted "Shame, shame on the UK", "No tolerance - execution" and "Kill her, kill her by firing squad".
I'm sure that some will assert that this reaction is identical to the reaction of the Catholic League to Miller Brewing's support of a smear of Christ and the Apostles.
But I don't see any AK-47's outside Miller's HQ on Highland Boulevard...
Dave Obey: A Danger to the Republic
Meantime, however, he may cause some damage.
President Bush warned Congress yesterday that the Pentagon will soon have to start laying off civilian employees and reducing operations at U.S. military bases unless lawmakers send him an emergency war funding bill that does not mandate troop withdrawals from Iraq.
Escalating a dispute with Democratic lawmakers over his request for $196 billion in supplemental funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush complained that a delay in providing the money is jeopardizing important military efforts.
"The missions of this department are essential to saving Americans' lives, and they are too important to be disrupted or delayed or put at risk," Bush said at the Pentagon after he received more than two hours of briefings. "Pentagon officials have warned Congress that the continued delay in funding our troops will soon begin to have a damaging impact on the operations of this department."
Congressional Democrats blame Bush for the delay because he refuses to accept a $50 billion funding bill that includes a requirement to begin pulling combat troops out of Iraq and changing the U.S. military mission there. The House passed the bill earlier this month, but Republicans blocked it in the Senate
Translate "House"-passed as Obey's language, folks.
What a maroon.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Time Warner Pops Price
And that just popped by 4.89%.
But no NFL channel; no Big 10 channel----
So.....how's that work again?
Custom and Dogma in Liturgy
An excerpt or two:
It is not just the propositional statements of the Church which, when they have the appropriate degree of authority, can be relied upon as guided and guaranteed by the Holy Ghost, but the customs of the Church. What is practised for long ages by the most universally revered authorities cannot suddenly be said to be defective. This is exactly the point made repeatedly by Joseph, Cardinal Ratzinger in his books, and which is repeated clearly by Papa Ratzinger in his Letter to Bishops accompanying the MP. What was holy yesterday cannot be harmful today; indeed, the denial of this principle ‘calls the very existence of the Church into question’ (Feast of Faith). It is for this reason that it must be understood that the previous liturgical tradition was never abrogated. This is a dogmatic matter, and in making this dogmatic point the Holy Father is doing what he always does in the exercise of his office, which is guarding the Faith.
A problem encountered in the Pauline Use is discussed:
...many of the orations of the 1962 Missal are addressed to the Second Person of the Trinity, and two prayers, the Suscipe, sancta Trinitas at the Offertory and the Placeat tibi, sancta Trinitase are addressed to the whole Trinity, despite the fact that the majority of the orations and other prayers use the familiar form of addressing the Father through the Son in the Holy Ghost. This twofold pattern of liturgical prayer reflects and makes manifest the Catholic dogma of the Holy and Undivided Trinity. The 1970 Missal removes almost all of the orations addressed to the incarnate Son and both of the prayers addressed to the whole Trinity. These amputations from the liturgy open the way to misunderstanding. Participants in the liturgy are no longer reminded of the co-equality and consubstantiality of the Persons of the Trinity. This is not a merely theoretical point since a whole series of Trinitarian and Christological errors, tending to the denial of Christ’s Divine nature and co-equality with the Father, have been condemned or censured by the Holy See in recent decades (cf the cases of Edward Schillebeeckx OP and, more recently, of Roger Haight SJ).
...A fourth example is the ceremonial of the Mass, such as the signs of the cross, so many of which have been suppressed in the 1970 Missal. These actions had in the past given rise to a whole genre of spiritual commentaries on the Mass, which assigned dogmatic meanings to the rituals with great consistency. Many saints, including St Thomas Aquinas, contributed to this literature, and took these signs extremely seriously. With the 1970 Missal, not only are these books rendered obsolete, but the signs themselves are no longer there to communicate their dogmatic significance to the onlooker.
Fr. Saward then comments on Ratzinger/B-16's commentary on 'ad orientem' and the 'non-silent' mode of the Pauline Use:
...we turn to the remarkably strongly-worded critique of misleading or unhelpful aspects of the 1970 Missal found in Ratzinger’s works. In The Spirit of the Liturgy Ratzinger made an extremely strong critique of Mass facing the people, warning that such Masses could and in some times and places had become a ‘closed circle’, where attention which should be fixed on God became fixed on Man; he even likened such ‘self-initiated’ and ‘self-seeking’ liturgy to the worship of the Golden Calf: the ultimate substitution of a human artifact for God as the object of worship. In that book and elsewhere, Ratzinger noted the problem of silence in the New Mass, since for the most part periods of silence in the course of Mass were only possible by bringing the liturgy to a temporary halt. On the contrary, Ratzinger argued, to be fruitful silence needs to be an integral part of the liturgy, what he calls ‘filled silence’, and not merely an artificial pause. In these and in other ways the reformed liturgy actually militates against effective participation.
More than just lousy English and sappy songs...
RIP Henry Hyde
Requiescat in pace.
Trent Lott--It Smells Even Worse
Seems that Dickie Scruggs is looking at Club Fed with a new eye...
A grand jury in North Mississippi has indicted Richard “Dickie” Scruggs, his son, Zach Scruggs, Scruggs Law Firm attorney Sidney A. Backstrom, attorney Timothy Balducci and former State Auditor Steve Patterson for conspiring to bribe a state court judge in North Mississippi over a case that involved funds from a settlement with State Farm insurance companies.
The indictment, filed late Thursday, said Scruggs attempted to influence Circuit Judge Henry L. Lackey in the case by offering him $40,000 for an order that would resolve the lawsuit Jones vs. Scruggs in favor of Dickie Scruggs and the Scruggs Law Firm.
Dickie Scruggs also is accused of attempting to conceal his and the other attorneys’ involvement in the alleged bribery attempt.
So happens that the case in that court was Trent's very own revenge-suit against State Farm.
The Women's Vote: More Gummint Spending
Even after accounting for a range of other factors — such as industrialization, urbanization, education and income — the impact of granting of women's suffrage on per-capita state government expenditures and revenue was startling. Per capita state government spending after accounting for inflation had been flat or falling during the 10 years before women began voting. But state governments started expanding the first year after women voted and continued growing until within 11 years real per capita spending had more than doubled. The increase in government spending and revenue started immediately after women started voting.
More at the link. HT: Lott and Betsy.
Closely related: "JennyBennies," now a very expensive new MPS program benefitting Jennifer Morales (among others).
What's a few million between ....ah....friends, eh?
You Know You've Been in Iraq Too Long When...
You say, "It feels cooler today," only to find out that the temperature is 105
The term "Trailer Trash" is a term of endearment
You call your tent (trailer if you're lucky) "home"
You aren't alarmed when every second person you see has a gun . . .or two. . . or three
You can measure distances based on explosion sounds
"Scoring" means you acquired a new weapon!
Your carry-on luggage includes body armour and a helmet
You can recognize 12 different camouflage patterns
The most fashion-forward accessories are shoulder holsters, thumb-drives and cell phones
You are soothed by the sounds of helicopters flying six feet over your trailer
There are more.
Whom to Believe--Fred! or his Campaign?
Yeah, the young lady's question is premised on if abortion becomes illegal. That presumes Roe versus Wade is overturned, which I think should be our number one focus right now. And that has to do with the kind of Supreme Court justices we put on the bench...That would mean that it goes back to the states, and then the states would have to outlaw it at an earlier stage than they outlaw it now. And then the question would be, who gets penalized and what should the penalty be? I think it should be fashioned along the same lines that it is now.
Most states have abortion laws that pertain -- that -- and -- and prohibit abortion after viability. And it goes to the doctor performing the abortion, not the girl or the young girl or her parents, whomever it might be
OK so far. Thompson's a Federalist, and that response comports with those principles.
But because there was some confusion (don't ask me how...) his campaign issued the following:
"In tonight's debate we saw once again that on abortion, Rudy Giuliani is pro-choice and Mitt Romney is multiple choice. I believe abortion should only be allowed in the instances of rape, incest and the life of the mother and penalties should be assessed against the abortion doctor and not the woman."
First time I ever saw that formulation from Fred. That's the Bush (1) formula, which is ridiculous on its face.
Fred's losing face here....
HT: American Spectator Blog
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
The Stupid Party, Part 354, Virginia Edition
The Republican Party of Virginia has no interest in thoughtful voters. It only wants mindless party loyalists who will vote Republican no matter what.
That's the sad message of a new GOP policy for next year's presidential primary approved by the State Board of Elections this week. People who want to vote in it must sign a loyalty oath swearing their intent to vote in November for the party's nominee, whomever that winds up being.
A Republican voter might look at the primary contenders and conclude Mike Huckabee is the best choice. That voter might also decide he would never vote for Rudy Giuliani. Perhaps he would look for a Libertarian or independent alternative.
Or it could be just the opposite. Perhaps a would-be Republican voter finds Huckabee unsupportable, or Fred Thompson or Mitt Romney.
The oath precludes such careful analysis and leaves Republicans three options:
Lie. Virginia's ballots are still secret; no one will know if you vote against the party nominee.
Stay home from the Feb. 12 election and keep your options open.
Commit to an unknown Republican candidate nine months before the election.
Honorable Virginians do not give their word lightly and will not lie, even under these obtuse circumstances. We hope, too, that they put candidates' ideas, character and experience ahead of party affiliation.
Honest, responsible voters therefore can only skip the primary.
That, obviously, was not the goal of the Republican loyalty oath. The oath is an outgrowth of Virginia's open primaries and a two-party system that prizes power over all else.
Democrats are susceptible to such electoral foolishness, too. In Roanoke, Democrats who want to help pick the party's city council candidates must vow to support the party's nominees.
Virginians do not register by party, so anyone, even a Democratic-leaning voter, can participate in the GOP primary and skew the results. Though there is scant evidence such crossover voting ever influences elections, political parties deserve the right to control who selects their candidates. They are private organizations, after all.
Anyone who needed more evidence that Virginia's election system is broken has it. Why bother having the election at all? Just count how many Virginians sign away their intent to cast an informed vote.
OK, There's Global Warming
But Conservatives who can read will NOT admit that it's all Our Fault.
We thus find ourselves in the situation that the entire theory of man-made global warming—with its repercussions in science, and its important consequences for politics and the global economy—is based on ice core studies that provided a false picture of the atmospheric CO2 levels.
Meanwhile, more than 90,000 direct measurements of CO2 in the atmosphere, carried out in America, Asia, and Europe between 1812 and 1961, with excellent chemical methods (accuracy better than 3%), were arbitrarily rejected. These measurements had been published in 175 technical papers. For the past three decades, these well-known direct CO2 measurements, recently compiled and analyzed by Ernst-Georg Beck (Beck 2006a, Beck 2006b, Beck 2007), were completely ignored by climatologists—and not because they were wrong. Indeed, these measurements were made by several Nobel Prize winners, using the techniques that are standard textbook procedures in chemistry, biochemistry, botany, hygiene, medicine, nutrition, and ecology.
The only reason for rejection was that these measurements did not fit the hypothesis of anthropo-genic climatic warming.
But hey! AlGore & Co. can make money on this (so can General Electric). So what's the problem?
Naomi Wolf (!!!) Makes the Case for the 2A
Is America still America if millions of us no longer know how democracy works?
...at a time when our system of government is under assault from an administration that ignores traditional checks and balances, engages in illegal wiretapping and writes secret laws on torture, it means that we're facing an unprecedented crisis.
As the Founders knew, if citizens are ignorant of or complacent about the proper workings of a republic "of laws not of men," then any leader of any party -- or any tyrannical Congress or even a tyrannical majority -- can abuse the power they hold. But at this moment of threat to the system the Framers set in place, a third of young Americans don't really understand what they were up to.
According to a recent study by the National Center for Education Statistics, only 47 percent of high school seniors have mastered a minimum level of U.S. history and civics, while only 14 percent performed at or above the "proficient" level.
In recent years, the trend away from teaching democracy to young Americans has been at least partly a consequence of the trend of teaching to the standardized tests introduced by the Bush administration. Mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind Act, the tests assess chiefly math and reading comprehension. Basic civics and history have suffered. As a result, teenagers and young adults often have no clue why the United States is different from, say, Egypt or Russia; they have little idea what liberty is.
Few young Americans understand that the Second Amendment keeps their homes safe from the kind of government intrusion that other citizens suffer around the world; few realize that "due process" means that they can't be locked up in a dungeon by the state and left to languish indefinitely
Earlier this year, I helped co-found the American Freedom Campaign to call for a national democracy movement to restore the rule of law. In response, some citizens called a national strike this month on behalf of the Constitution. It was a shaky beginning -- people showed up with their flags and their petitions, but the groups were sparse and shy and out of practice. In New York's Union Square, the sound system failed to carry one new young freedom activist's reading of the Bill of Rights very far. And yet it didn't matter. "For the first time in a long time," said Barbara Martinez as the wind whipped her scarf, "I feel hopeful."
She's right, of course. The 2A does, in fact, keep American homes safe from Gummint intrusion. The Fourth Amendment is helpful, as well.
HT: Of Arms and the Law
they're open to the idea that a cosmic Jewish zombie removed the evil forces from our souls that were placed there when a woman created from a rib took an apple from a talking snake. Or something like that. I can't image that that many people that went to Harvard business school and whatnot actually believe that though.
That enlightened bit of maryjane-fueled 'understanding' from a poster who asks for "more respect" from your humble scribe here:
But whatever Daddio29, you’re obviously narrow-minded and brainwashed. I see little hope for you.
Dad29 isn’t a very nice guy, to say the least. I’m not going to refrain from calling stupid points he makes stupid
This is what passes for 'tolerant, enlightened' comments from the BumperStickerKissers.
DOT: Signs of Waste
About a dozen new signs are costing taxpayers thousands of dollars
They're on I-94 west of Hy. 16. Are they really needed?
...Jennifer Wensel could not see any difference. "No, I didn't notice anything being different or more reflective,"
"Typically when we do signs, they last 12 to 15 years," explained Tom Heydel, traffic operations engineer for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation
That's not a good explanation, Tom. What if they last 30 years? 40 years? And how in Hell would you know? The signage you're replacing is just fine and dandy.
We're told the big new signs cost some $3,000 to $4,000
Does that include the labor to install them? If not, then the actual cost is more like $5,000-$7,500/each--or, in the case at hand, around $50-75K total.
Members opposed to 4-K questioned whether it was needed, whether it would improve long-term student achievement and whether it would be the best way to raise needed revenue as enrollment declines
Frankly, there's little (or no) evidence that 4-K is educationally useful except as cheap babysitting.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
The Editor May Have Choked...
ON SEPT. 23 I walked down the center aisle of our parish church, genuflected and made the sign of the cross while saying, In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Thus began my first Mass according to the Roman Missal of 1962 more than 22 years after my first experience of celebrating the Eucharist.
...As a pastor who has tried to respond to people alienated by the perceived rigid conservatism of the church, how could I walk away from people alienated by priests like myself—progressive, “low church” pastors who have no ear for traditional piety?
...As I studied the Latin texts and intricate rituals I had never noticed as a boy, I discovered that the old rite’s priestly spirituality and theology were exactly the opposite of what I had expected. Whereas I had looked for the “high priest/king of the parish” spirituality, I found instead a spirituality of “unworthy instrument for the sake of the people.”
The old Missal’s rubrical micromanagement made me feel like a mere machine, devoid of personality; but, I wondered, is that really so bad? I actually felt liberated from a persistent need to perform, to engage, to be forever a friendly celebrant. When I saw a photo of the old Latin Mass in our local newspaper, I suddenly recognized the rite’s ingenious ability to shrink the priest. Shot from the choir loft, I was a mere speck of green, dwarfed by the high altar. The focal point was not the priest but the gathering of the people. And isn’t that a valid image of the church, the people of God?
My reluctant engagement with the Latin Mass has not undermined my own priestly spirituality, born of Vatican II. Rather, it has complemented and reinforced the council’s teaching that the priest is an instrument of Christ called to serve everyone, regardless of theological or liturgical style. Ultimately it means little whether Mass is in Latin or in the vernacular, whether I see the people praying or hear their silence behind. For sure, I have my preference, but service must always trump that.
Deo Gratias, Alleluia! This is precisely what B-16 intended. And the author is what we expect: an honest man.
HT: Fr. Powell
The Stupid Party, Again?
So while Republicans are depressed these days, their condition is actually worse than they think it is. The deepest cause of the party’s malaise is not the inadequacies of the presidential field. It is that the party’s base is out of step with the public. On issue after issue, polls find independents lining up with Democrats.
Take the economy. Republicans are much happier with their economic circumstances than Democrats: 81 percent of the former, and only 54 percent of the latter, express satisfaction. Independents are exactly where the Democrats are. At their recent economic debate, however, most of the Republican candidates essentially advised dissatisfied Americans to look up some economic statistics to see how well things are going. The ones who acknowledged public gloom proffered protectionism as a remedy. (This may change shortly, as the "R" word gets bandied about--and not from the Lefty press, but from more reliable sources...)
Or take global warming. The public thinks it is real and worrisome, but is not ready to embrace liberal policies that would drastically reduce economic growth. Republicans would have an opening here, if so many of them had not persuaded themselves that global warming is a hoax.
If the public debate is confined to a choice between people who brush off public concerns and those who offer bad solutions, the latter group will win. Conservatives, right now, are not offering better solutions. And because the Republican base is not demanding those solutions, the competitive dynamic of the primary is not producing them. (Real, yah---but remediable by converting to bicycles and charcoal-fire warming? Nope. Real, yah--but within previously-established norms.)
For most of the year, the Republican presidential debates have featured barely a word about health care, the public’s most pressing domestic concern. The leading GOP candidates have belatedly put out plans (except for Thompson, who still hasn’t) — to the seeming indifference of rank-and-file conservative voters. (There ARE proposals which are intriguing--Bush's tax-credit plan was one. Hello??)
Instead, the competition is taking Republicans farther and farther away from a connection with the public. Giuliani has broken with the base of the party, but only in ways that will not help with the larger electorate. And to make up for those deviations on social issues, he is projecting a bring-it-on bellicosity that conservatives like but that most voters simply do not feel. Romney and Thompson, meanwhile, are fighting over who is the most conventional, paint-by-numbers conservative circa 1987. Creative domestic policy is off the table. (Giuliani may well lose by virtue of his bellicosity, which is not restricted to terrorist states. Romney is "paint by numbers," yah, but he's also cardboard. And Thompson is at least playing with alternatives to the current IRS system, not to mention proposing a solution to the onrushing Social Security bankruptcy.)
But in general, I agree with the thesis of these guys. There's little imagination.
Here's the answer, according to the authors:
In past periods of Republican weakness, such as the late 1970s and early 1990s, conservatives were able to revive the party by yanking it to the populist right, especially on taxes. The next Republican revival, if it takes place, will involve a change within conservatism as much as an increase in its power over the party.
They are right, of course. I've been saying stuff like that for a year.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Slogans for Planned Parenthood
The Curt Jester submitted several entries:
*Making womb and tomb synonymous
* Depopulating the world one person at a time.
* Life without consequences
* Keeping minorities minorities
* Reach out and abort someone
* Betcha can't kill just one
* Giving breath to the culture of death
* Where is everyone?
* Doing our best to reduce class size
* 30 years of providing incest and statutory rape protection
* Support your local Abortuary
* Keeping predatory males happy
* Have you plunged forceps into your kid today?
For some reason, none of those were winners. Nor was his effort even acknowledged!
We'll acknowledge them here and spread the word, CJ!
Want More Confessions?
I confess that this article about Madison, WI., came to my attention via a Kansas City blogger. Regardless, it's worth reading, if one is a priest or Bishop.
The spark of resurgence in confessors is most noticeable in Madison on campus; a place where the lure of sin, found in bars and before Badger games, is within walking distance. But so is a church.
St. Paul 's Catholic Center, at 723 State St., reports a rise in the number of students showing up to confess on a regular basis.
Father Randy Timmerman, now at St. John Vianney parish in Janesville, was the priest at St. Paul 's when the transformation began. He often found himself waiting at the scheduled confession time with very few students showing up. Timmerman credits the increased numbers to an assertive campus-wide campaign to bring students into the church.
So they pushed a bit on the campus--sidewalk-chalkings (!!) and other means of outreach, and things began to pick up.
But what REALLY made a difference in the numbers?
...the real change came with the arrival of sisters of the Apostles of the Interior Life ministry from Italy. The sisters questioned Timmerman as to why the confessionals were filled with boxes. Timmerman explained that due to low numbers, confession was held face-to-face in the sacristy twice a week rather than in the traditional confessionals.
The nuns asked Timmerman if he would hold confession in the tiny twin chambers if they cleared them out. Timmerman agreed
Father Eric Nielsen, now pastor of St. Paul 's, says that low confession attendance resulted in priests holding the sacrament only by appointment.
"This led to many confessionals being used as broom closets, " says Nielsen.
Sister Rafaella Cavellin and Father Victor Mosele cleared out the dust and boxes, and now Nielsen has students who wait 30 minutes at the confession time twice a day
My, my. Using "the box" with a screen and having regular (even daily) availability of the Sacrament gets people to show up and use it!!
Will wonders never cease?
Benedict XVI and the Muslims, Part II
The letter from the 138 Muslims addressed last month to Benedict XVI and to the heads of the other Christian churches received a spectacular collective reply in a message signed by 300 scholars and published in "The New York Times" on November 18.
So far, so good.
But the Vatican's response was a lot quieter than that collective reply.
Why? Because 'the 138' are avoiding the real issue:
Troll notes that the letter of the 138 Muslims, with its insistence on the commandments of the love of God and neighbor as the "common word" of both the Qur'an and the Bible, seems intended to bring dialogue onto the sole terrain of doctrine and theology.
But – Troll objects – there is a gaping distinction between the one God of the Muslims and the Trinitarian God of the Christians, with the Son who becomes man. This cannot be minimized, much less negotiated. The true "common word" must be sought elsewhere: in "putting into effect these commandments in the concrete, here-and-now reality of plural societies." It must be sought in the defense of human rights, of religious freedom, of equality between man and woman, of the distinction between religious and political powers. The letter of the 138 is elusive or silent on all of this.
Perhaps the Interfaith Council should take note of the reality here....
What Benedict XVI sought was this:
"The content of the dialogue between Christians and Muslims will be at this time especially one of meeting each other in this commitment to find the right solutions. We Christians feel in solidarity with all those who, precisely on the basis of their religious conviction as Muslims, work to oppose violence and for the synergy between faith and reason, between religion and freedom."
The Muslim response was....ahhh...non-responsive.
The linked article goes on to point out that, when Muslims are a minority, Shari'a binds them to obey the laws of the State in which they reside. But there is no such restriction when Muslims achieve majority-status in a State; at that time, they are bound to establish and enforce Shari'a.
In the USA, this is simply not an issue at this time. But it IS becoming an issue in other Western countries such as Germany, and to a lesser degree, France and England.
On the Bumper Sticker
Take the issues one-by-one: the war in Iraq, abortion, gun control, illegal border crossing. For the most part, conservatives believe those who disagree with them on a particular issue, in virtue of their disagreement, are wrong. For the most part, liberals believe those who disagree with them on a particular issue, in virtue of their disagreement, are wrong and wicked. There are exceptions on both sides...
And he wasn't even posting about The Bumper Sticker.
Lott, Hastert Out by Year-End; It's the Money, Honey
What he doesn't mention is the reason for the "before-year-end" timing.
After 1/1/08, Senators and Reps who retire must spend two years on the sidelines before joining a lobbying business. In order for these guys to parlay their elected experience into REAL money, they have to get out now.
Neither is much of a loss for Conservatives.
Our Man in Washington
He handicaps all of them and has some interesting comments about the Democrats' REAL objective (hint: winning the White House is only #2)...
Wisconsin: Another Day Older and Deeper in Debt
To pay for highways, buildings and environmental programs, state government slid 87% deeper in long-term debt over the past 10 years.
According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the state had $8.28 billion in general-obligation, transportation and environmental debt in mid-2006; the same debts totaled $4.41 billion in 1996.
You can call that 'an 87% increase,' or you can say that 'it damn near doubled.'
Principal and interest payments on general-obligation bonds will exceed $700 million for the first time this year; and payments on transportation bonds will cost an additional $174 million.
Don't you just love this steaming-pile explanation?
Schmiedicke said incurring more debt allowed Doyle and legislators to protect public schools, aid to local governments and the transportation infrastructure. It also freed up state aid to control increases in property tax bills, he added.
Let me translate:
"Protect" WEAC, the RoadBuilders, and local co-conspirator Spend It Now gummints, not to mention AFSCME employees of those locals.
Wisconsin has the largest deficit of any state, under the so-called generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP, system of budgeting, Berry noted. Berry said the state's annual deficit under GAAP - which reflects the imbalance between future spending commitments and expected tax collections - is $2.1 billion
Not to worry!
...state officials discount the GAAP budgeting method. Wisconsin is unique because it promises to return $6 out of every $10 collected in future taxes to local governments - a cash-flow cycle that GAAP goes not take into account, officials said
That's a crock, folks. GAAP is GAAP is GAAP, and just because the State is sending money to the locals doesn't make it a rose.
Face it: it's the SPENDING, STUPID!!!
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Reflection on "The Wisconsin Way"
Their interest is in removing (or substantially reducing) both school and County taxes applied as property-tax. Since they cannot seem to utter the words "reduce spending" in that precise sequence, however, there are few options remaining.
Increase income taxes. Increase sales taxes. Increase "fee" revenues.
In the first two instances, the State's coffers get larger. The "fee" item may or may not be State revenue--but in any case, the money will be almost insignificant in comparison to a State income-tax or sales-tax increase sufficient to offset loss of prop-tax revenues.
Now it is presumed that the State's revenue bulge will be temporary--that the State will merely serve as a conduit to Schools and Counties (less the transfer-fees, of course).
But that ignores the Golden Rule: "He who has the gold makes the rules."
So, whether in 3, 5, or 20 years, the State will be making all the rules for Counties and Schools, because, after all, the State will be funding them.
So much for the idea of 'local control,' and the Principle of Subsidiarity. Put another way, Statism will have emerged victorious.
P. S. Do you think that the Counties will disband themselves because they no longer collect or spend money? What about the School Boards and Administrations?
Woopsy! Missed!! Too Bad!
A SWAT team from the Milwaukee Police Department burst into Denise Berndsen's apartment and turned the place upside down looking for evidence of child porn...
A friggin' SWAT TEAM? For a child porn bust? That's the first question I might have asked, but certainly not the only one...
...they roughed up Berndsen, who had returned home from back surgery that day, her 74-year-old father, and a man she had just started dating and who for a few terrifying minutes wondered what he got himself into.
The second question: why didn't the DA (or the cop-shop) do the elementary stuff?
The man they were targeting had moved out five weeks earlier
A West Allis police report put it this way: "It was later determined MPD's suspect had moved out sometime in mid to late September, and we were now talking to the new tenants."
Actually it was more like Sept. 6, said the landlord, who asked that her name not be dragged into this.
Sure, we want the kiddie porn types to be ...ah...dis-welcomed.
But a full-game SWAT team? No due diligence?
Illegals and Rudy and Romney
Turns out Mitt Romney has the same inclinations.
Of course, they're both fudging their records, too.
Giuliani, the mayor of New York from 1994 to 2001, and Romney, the governor of Massachusetts from 2003 through January, are battling for the Republican presidential nomination amid an uproar over illegal immigration. So they're gritting their teeth, squaring their shoulders and vowing to throw the bums out and keep them out.
Giuliani and Romney also are battling about who was more tolerant of undocumented workers.
The Romney camp likes to trot out a 1994 Giuliani statement: "If you come here and you work hard and you happen to be in an undocumented status," he said, "you're one of the people we want in this city.
"You're somebody we want to protect, and we want you to get out from under what is often a life of being like a fugitive, which is really unfair."
Thompson has the only common-sense position on the immigration situation, by the way.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
The Wisconsin Way: Spend More, Stupid!
They talked about "The Wisconsin Way."
In 30 solid minutes, I NEVER heard the phrase "cut spending." What I DID hear was "increase investment" and "re-align taxation."
(That means increasing the state income tax--both the top rate AND the graduation of the curve. Now you know why the Realtors are in this. Less proptax means larger home values means larger commissions. Duhhh.)
You know what that means, dear reader...
The Roadbuilders, County Boards, Teachers, and Realtors are "helping" you to Spend More Money!!
And a tax-paid lobbyist is one of the leaders of the charge--along with a Democrat PR type from Madistan who ran for Governor and was,....ah...defeated.
One of the humorous parts occurred when the term "tax Hell" was brought up. Naturally, Sykes, Belling, and Weber were the Bad Guys--because they have the nerve to use the term. There was no interest in defining "tax Hell," of course--because that might mean mentioning that Wisconsin is somewhere between 4th and 6th in the country in state/local/sales tax/capita.
Nope. We're just going to say that those who USE the term are the bad guys.
And we're going to persuade you to Spend More Money because, of course, that's the solution to everything. More highways to noplace (see e.g., Hy 151 west of Madison.) More school-money. More "help" for senior citizens (who are leaving as fast as they can.)
They're coming to a place near you soon. Guard the women and children...
MSO to Pursue Radio Station License
The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra has filed with the FCC to obtain a license for radio broadcast of classical music in the Milwaukee area.
The Fox6 website does not provide a confirming link at this time, nor does the Business Journal; nor does the MSO webpage.
That's good news for a small number of hard-core classical listeners who do not have digital radio-receivers capable of picking up similar programming from the State radio system.
The question: is that 'small number of listeners' enough to offset the MSO's cost?
Let's hope so!
Health Price Disclosures: Go For It
Sen. Jim Sullivan (D-Wauwatosa) and Rep. Steve Wieckert (R-Appleton) this week introduced a bill requiring health care providers and insurance companies to make available information about the cost of procedures or services to patients who ask for it.
And maybe more progress to follow:
Rep. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa), chairwoman of the Assembly's Committee on Health and Health Care Reform, said she would introduce her own proposal in the coming weeks.
"Merely taking the top 50 procedures out there, what if you have procedure 51?" Vukmir said. "How does that help you?"
Knowledge is power. The difference between "list" and "negotiated" prices for hospital and MD care is often substantial, raising the question "what's it REALLY worth?" in the mind of the consumer--especially the consumer who is un-insured.
Friday, November 23, 2007
Wisconsin's Price-Fix Laws
Take THAT, Wiggy!
Madison – Today, Representative Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa) and Representative Bill Kramer (R-Waukesha) unveiled legislation that will repeal Wisconsin’s archaic Unfair Sales Act and put into place a legislative framework that fosters competition, puts consumer welfare paramount, and reflects a vibrant 21st century marketplace.
The statutes will reflect United States and Wisconsin Supreme Court standards for determining anticompetitive behavior. Recent decisions by the courts have clearly stated that competition, not competitors, should be the overriding interest in the marketplace. As Daniel Crane of the Benjamin Cardozo School of Law points out, “punishing excessively low prices is paradoxical because the very objective of […] antitrust laws is to secure low prices for consumers.”
Cranmer's Dead! Long Live Cranmer!!
Earlier this year Benedict XVI finally sacked Archbishop Piero Marini, the liberal papal Master of Ceremonies who is strongly opposed to the Pope’s liturgical reforms. A furious Marini has now written a book ...
And guess where the book is being launched? In the throne room of Archbishop’s House, Westminster, by His Eminence Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor.
You may prophesy in the combox which US prelate will host a similar rebellion when the book is launched here.
Of course, "launch" and "hurl" are interchangeable terms with respect to Marini's screed.
HT: Damian Thompson
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Konrad Adenauer on Islamism
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Home Depot's Command-Economy Tricks
Them critters which we don't shoot we watch. Some are very cute.
So, anyway, to replace the floodlight, I trek over to Home
The old one was a 150-watt incandescent.
Spent about 3 full minutes looking at the light-display. Up, down, sideways; walk back and forth, looking high and low.
Zero, Zip, Nada 150-watters. None.
The Despot went "green" on my behalf. Best I can get is a 90-watter, non-incandescent--some sort of rare-earth metallic compound.
Let's hope Lowe's understands "market-demand" retailing, eh?
Kindle? I'd Rather Use Matches
Three years in the making and much delayed and they came up with a device obviously designed by a committee where little interest was paid to people who would want an e-book reader in the first place. Now if I wanted to design an e-book reader that was sure to fail and possibly serve as a tax write off like in The Producers these are some of the features I would include.
- Charge $399 for the reader.
- Make it really ugly with lots of angles.
- Make it incompatible with the ebook format you use to sell.
- Not allow you to add your own files such as PDF, docs, and text without going through the companies site with a fee attached.
- Charge you two bucks for books available for free at Project Gutenberg.
- Allow you to read from a group of blogs selected by the company and then charge you $1 to $2 a month for each blog you subscribe to.
- Have EVDO available but not WI-FI.
- Charge you $14 dollars a month to view newspaper content freely available on the web.
Add a crappy cover that won't last long.
Fun With "Jed" and "Wilbur"
Stamping their feets, squalling, shrieking, and attempting humor without a license (nor a humorous bone in their bodies...) It's enough to make me ask 'em to just go hide behind their own skirts.
"Jed" and "Wilbur" take exception to a couple of posts, here and here.
(I KNOW that school's out for a lot of the kiddies, and Mom lets them play with the computer.)
By the way, judging from my Sitemeter, "Jed" and "Wilbur" work for Milwaukee County.
Kumbaya and Screaming Victims
Here's "Co-Existence" in full:
Saudi Arabia defended on Tuesday a court's decision to sentence a woman who was gang-raped to 200 lashes of the whip, after the United States described the verdict as "astonishing".
The 19-year-old Shi'ite woman from the town of Qatif in the Eastern Province and an unrelated male companion were abducted and raped by seven men in 2006.
Ruling according to Saudi Arabia's strict reading of Islamic law, a court had originally sentenced the woman to 90 lashes and the rapists to jail terms of between 10 months and five years. It blamed the woman for being alone with an unrelated man.
Last week the Supreme Judicial Council increased the sentence to 200 lashes and six months in prison and ordered the rapists to serve between two and nine years in jail.
Milwaukee's Interfaith Council members will be singing Kumbaya during the administration of the 200-lash punishment.
I don't think that the singing will drown out the screaming from the rape-and-Sharia victim, do you?
Happy Thanksgiving--(With History)
Contemporary textbook narratives of the first American harvest celebration portray the Pilgrim colonists as having given thanks to their Indian neighbors for teaching them how to survive in a strange new world. This, of course, is in stark contrast to the historical record, in which the colonists gave thanks to God Almighty, the Provider of their blessings.
The “First Thanksgiving” is usually depicted as the Pilgrims’ three-day feast in early November 1621. The Pilgrims, Calvinist Protestants who rejected the institutional Church of England, believed that the worship of God must originate freely in the individual soul, under no coercion. The Pilgrims left Plymouth, England, on 6 September 1620, sailing to the New World on the promise of opportunity for religious and civil liberty.
For almost three months, 102 seafarers braved the brutal elements, arriving off what is now the Massachusetts coast. On 11 December, before disembarking at Plymouth Rock, the voyagers signed the Mayflower Compact, America’s original document of civil government predicated on principles of self-government. While still anchored at Provincetown harbor, Pastor John Robinson counseled, “You are become a body politic... and are to have only them for your... governors which yourselves shall make choice of.” Governor William Bradford described the Mayflower Compact as “a combination... that when they came a shore they would use their owne libertie; for none had power to command them...”
Upon landing, the Pilgrims conducted a prayer service and quickly turned to building shelters. Malnutrition and illness during the ensuing New England winter killed nearly half their number. Through prayer and hard work, with the assistance of their Wampanoag Indian friends, the Pilgrims reaped a rich harvest in the summer of 1621, the bounty of which they shared with the Wampanoag. The celebration incorporated feasting and games, which remain holiday traditions.
Such ready abundance soon waned, however. Under demands from investors funding their endeavor, the Pilgrims had acquiesced to a disastrous arrangement holding all crops and property in common, in order to return an agreed-to half of their produce to their overseas backers. (These financiers insisted they could not trust faraway freeholders to split the colony’s profits honestly.) Within two years, Plymouth was in danger of foundering under famine, blight and drought. Colonist Edward Winslow wrote, “The most courageous were now discouraged, because God, which hitherto had been our only shield and supporter, now seemed in his anger to arm himself against us.”
Governor Bradford’s record of the history of the colony describes 1623 as a period of arduous work coupled with “a great drought... without any rain and with great heat for the most part,” lasting from spring until midsummer. The Plymouth settlers followed the Wampanoag’s recommended cultivation practices carefully, but their crops withered.
The Pilgrims soon thereafter thought better of relying solely on the physical realm, setting “a solemn day of humiliation, to seek the Lord by humble and fervent prayer, in this great distress.” In affirmation of their faith and providing a great witness to the Indians, by evening of that day the skies became overcast and gentle rains fell, restoring the yield of the fields. Governor Bradford noted, “And afterwards the Lord sent to them such seasonable showers, with interchange of fair warm weather as, through His blessing caused a fruitful and liberal harvest, to their no small comfort and rejoicing. For which mercy, in time convenient, they also set apart a day of thanksgiving.”
Winslow noted the Pilgrims’ reaction as believing “it would be great ingratitude, if secretly we should smother up the same, or content ourselves with private thanksgiving for that, which by private prayer could not be obtained. And therefore another solemn day was set apart and appointed for that end; wherein we returned glory, honor, and praise, with all thankfulness, to our good God, which dealt so graciously with us...” This was the original American Thanksgiving Day, centered not on harvest feasting (as in 1621) but on gathering together to publicly recognize the favor and provision of Almighty God.
Bradford’s diary recounts how the colonists repented of their financial folly under sway of their financiers: “At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number.”
By the mid-17th century, autumnal Thanksgivings were common throughout New England; observance of Thanksgiving Festivals spread to other colonies during the American Revolution. At other junctures of “great distress” or miraculous intervention, colonial leaders called their countrymen to offer prayerful thanks to God. The Continental Congresses, cognizant of the need for a warring country’s continuing grateful entreaties to God, proclaimed yearly Thanksgiving days during the Revolutionary War, from 1777 to 1783.
In 1789, after adopting the Bill of Rights to the Constitution, among the first official acts of Congress was approving a motion for proclamation of a national day of thanksgiving, recommending that citizens gather together and give thanks to God for their new nation’s blessings. Presidents George Washington, John Adams and James Madison followed the custom of declaring national days of thanks, though it was not officially declared again until another moment of national peril, when during the War Between the States Abraham Lincoln invited “the whole American people” to observe “a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father... with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience.” In 1941, Congress set permanently November’s fourth Thursday as our official national Thanksgiving.
The Pilgrims’ temporary folly of sundering and somersaulting the material as transcendent over the spiritual conveys an important lesson that modern histories are reluctant to tell. The Founders, recognizing this, placed first among constitutionally recognized rights the free exercise of religion—faith through action.
If what we seek is a continuance of God s manifold blessings, then a day of heartfelt thanksgiving is a tiny tribute indeed.
This Thanksgiving, please pray for our Patriot Armed Forces standing in harm’s way around the world, and for their families—especially the families of those fallen Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen who have died in defense of American liberty.
A thought which I happily pass on to you.
Charlie Sykes Sends a Message
Evidently the weenies at the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee are "offended" by Sykes' reproduction of a parody on his website.
The parody was inspired by the snarky, condescending "Co-Exist" bumper stickers (which are, evidently, weenie-approved.) The parody has gone national, justifiably, and credit should be given to Tom McMahon, a brilliant satirist and blog-writer.
So anyway, the weenies "asked" Charlie to delete the post.
Charlie told them to stuff their request where the sun doesn't shine (in far more elegant, but no less emphatic language.)
Now we can put Charlie into an exclusive league.
Back about 20 years ago, I was painting the porch woodwork while listening to Rush. At that time, Limbaugh was commenting on one of the the ACLU's lawsuits against the Boy Scouts of America--IIRC, it was about the Oath's reference to God.
Rush's comment, unforgettable, was "Well, SCREW the ACLU!!" (And that's exactly what he said.)
Although Sykes has had a few defining moments (his co-production of "schoolhouse door" was one), and although he and I disagree over a few things, Charlie's been a leading light of the Conservative movement for years.
He just affirmed that position. And I will be proud to have his 6.
By the way, the Interfaith Council has a very strange bedfellow, according to John McAdams (HT: Tex)
...Zulfiqar Ali Shah... has continued to bask in the spotlight. He now sits in his new digs in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Religious Director of a large Islamic institution and the toast of the media. Today, the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee will be sponsoring a Shah talk, taking place at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church.
What makes Shah so interesting, aside from his Milwaukee location and the hugs-and-kisses from the Interfaith Conference?
When the Toledo charity KindHearts was shut down this past February, for raising millions of dollars for Hamas, the group’s leaders got off scott free
And yes, Shah was one of the "leaders" of the group.
But that's hardly all.
Shah’s love for his fellow man was not manifest, when, just a few years prior, in June of 2001, he spoke of a wild conspiracy regarding Jews retaking the Saudi city of Medina. He said, “If we are unable to stop the Jews now, their next stop is Yathrib (The Prophet’s city of Medina), where the Jews used to live until their expulsion by Prophet Muhammad. That’s the pinnacle of their motives.”
My, my. Does "anti-Semitic" apply here? Or only to Sykes and McMahon?
"Jenny-Bennies", MPS, and Babylon
Milwaukee Public Schools took a major step Tuesday night toward becoming the first public school district in southeastern Wisconsin to offer fringe benefits to domestic partners of employees.
The School Board's Finance Committee voted 4 to 1 to recommend a resolution proposed by board member Jennifer Morales that the board support "equal provision of employment benefits regardless of an employee's sexual orientation or family status."
This is the "Morales Bennie." It's expected that (should the deal get done) Jennie-Bennie will get health coverage through her 'spouse' (??), an MPS principal.
MPS administrators suggested that adding domestic partners could cost millions of dollars, but Patrick Flaherty, director of community relations for Center Advocates Inc., an organization supporting the benefits, said the experience of other government units has been that only a small number of employees ask to add partners to health coverage and other benefits. He suggested the cost would be under $1 million for MPS if 1% of employees used the option.
Establishing as a principle that a housemate arrangement is identical to marriage with respect to employment benefits?
Just ask Babylon.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Supremes to Hear DC Gun Ban (and) Papal Shooter, to Boot!!
The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will decide whether the District of Columbia can ban handguns, a case that could produce the most in-depth examination of the constitutional right to "keep and bear arms" in nearly 70 years.
The main issue before the justices is whether the Second Amendment of the Constitution protects an individual's right to own guns or instead merely sets forth the collective right of states to maintain militias. The former interpretation would permit fewer restrictions on gun ownership.
The current title: The case is District of Columbia v. Heller, formerly known as Parker.
That's nowhere near as interesting as this little blog-item:
In the curriculum [vitae] of Pius XI there is a certificate for being a first-rate shot
In L’Osservatore Romano for 20 November, ... there stands out in the cultural page a bizarre headline: "the librarian with the pistol".
We are not dealing with just any librarian, but with Achille Ratti, who became Pope with the name Pius XI.And the gun?
Here’s the explanation of this oddity. When he was prefect of the Ambrosian Library in Milan, Ratti kept a a revolver close at had "as a deterent to keep off possible miscreants with gunshots in the air, or the like.
"Once promoted to the Vatican Library, he brought his gun with him. And when in 1918 Benedict XV sent him to Poland as an apostolic visitor, he sent to Warsaw via the diplomatic pouch, "a small revolver and ammunition".
This should make the Heller decision simple. 5 Papists, 4 not.
Of course, that's a simplification.
Lots more here, here, and here.
Nothing SCOTUS does will alter Wisconsin's 25th Amendment, however.