January 31, 2011

Diplomacy is not the opposite of force. It is the alternative to force.

Commenter Bisaal directed my attention to this piece by David Warren, Watching Egypt, which argues that the Islamists are likely to take over in Egypt, after the small liberal bourgeois fraction of the population takes down the Maburak regime. My comment included this point, which has long bugged me.

Well, that's the bad possibility. I have no argument with Warren, it may turn out that way.

It may be inevitable.

But if it is not inevitable, if the issue now hangs in the balance, then the simple fact to consider is that we had a lot of clout in the region in 2005, and we have almost none now.

We had a lot of power and influence for exactly the reason that I blogged about over and over. Diplomacy is the alternative to force. If it doesn't look like you are willing to use force then diplomacy won't achieve much.

We had a lot of influence then because people thought Bush was a crazy cowboy who would go to war any moment. Once it became clear that he was politically too weak to fight any new wars, then his freedom agenda was dead. Diplomacy was dead.

Bush should have had the support of all the free people of the world. Warm-hearted support!

That's one of the several reasons I would argue that pacifism causes wars.

Imagine that you lead a union, and the big contract is coming up for re-negotiation. And you don't want to go on strike. That is, you don't want war. What do you do?

Do you announce that you have no stomach for a fight? Of course not! What you do is let it be known that your boys are spoiling for a fight, and might just start a war strike out sheer cussedness and orneriness.

Am I right? And it would also help if you'd fought a bloody war strike not long in the past, right?

There was a time, a small window of time, when Condi would frown and tyrants would tremble in their boots. And remember how Lybia voluntarily gave up its WMD programs! That was an exciting hopeful moment, but it was soon destroyed. Destroyed by "liberals," who hated Bush because he was a real liberal, and exposed them for the frauds they are...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:46 PM

January 30, 2011

Much ado about...

There's a bit of a kerfluffle going on about a reference to beheading Sarah Palin in a production of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado. It undoubtably refers to the patter-song of the Lord High Executioner, "I have a Little List," about the list of people who "simply won't be missed," if he ever actually beheads anybody. (Which he never does.)

In fact it is customary to introduce topical references into the song. It's always done, and expected. It's a kind of in-joke among G&S fans. And guess what, nobody takes it seriously! of course one wishes liberals would be skewered as often as conservatives, but still, it's no big deal.

Civility--children�s play calls for beheading of Sarah Palin - National Conservative — Examiner.com:

...The comments made in such a cavalier and oh-so-humorous way were uncalled for. Now, I realize you play to a mostly liberal audience in Missoula and so, I am sure, felt comfortable in your calling for the beheading of Sarah Palin. I am painfully aware that most in the audience tittered with laughter and clapped because �no one would miss her� but there were some in your audience who took great offense to this �uncivil tone� about another human being....

Here's a sample of how it's done...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:36 PM

January 29, 2011

Thank you again President Bush...

Max Boot, Are We All Neocons Now?:

...But whatever happens, one thing is already clear: as Pete Wehner has already noted, President Bush was right in pushing his "freedom agenda" for the Middle East.

When he pushed for democratic change in the region, legions of know-it-all skeptics — including Barack Obama — scoffed. What business was it of America to comment on, much less try to change, other countries� internal affairs? Why meddle with reliable allies? Wasn�t it the height of neocon folly to imagine a more democratic future for places like Iraq or Egypt?

Turns out that Bush knew a thing or two. He may not have been all that sophisticated by some standards, [the "standards" of nihilism!] but like Ronald Reagan, he grasped basic truths that eluded the intellectuals. Reagan, recall, earned endless scorn for suggesting that the "evil empire" might soon be consigned to the "ash heap of history." But he understood that basic human desires for freedom could not be repressed forever. Bush understood precisely the same thing, and like Reagan he also realized that the U.S. had to get on the right side of history by championing freedom rather than by cutting disreputable deals with dictators.

Condi in black...Too bad he didn�t have more success in pushing the "freedom agenda." If he had — if, for example, he had been willing to hold back American aid to force Egypt to make liberal reforms — the U.S. might possibly have averted the explosion currently seen on the streets of Egypt by engineering a more orderly transition to democracy. But in his second term, humbled by setbacks in Iraq, Bush and his secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, charted a different course. They did little or nothing while Mubarak locked up liberal dissident Ayman Nour. Instead, they concentrated their energies on the vaunted Middle East peace process, which ended in a predictable failure.

Obama has essentially continued this policy, which he — and legions of like-minded thinkers — sees as the height of "realism." But what�s so realistic about endorsing a sclerotic status quo? The answer is being delivered in the streets of Egypt. So having already endorsed the essentials of the Bush war on terror, Obama is now belatedly embracing the freedom agenda too. Does that mean we�re all neocons now?...

"But in his second term, humbled by setbacks in Iraq, Bush and his secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, charted a different course." Well, that's not really accurate. It makes it sound like something unilateral and internal to the Bush Administration. In fact our fake-liberals and fake pacifists and fake Christians HATED Bush's freedom agenda from the first. And they battered him with vicious political opposition from the start. From way back in 2001. They hated the thought of overthrowing tyrants, and, judging by the Obama Administration's reactions to Iran and now Egypt, they still do. I spit on them with utter disgust.

Which is a large chunk of why I despise "liberals" and "pacifists" and "progressives" and that whole horrid crew...

Posted by John Weidner at 6:37 PM

The analogical imagination...

From Catholic Matters: Confusion, Controversy, and the Splendor of Truth, by Fr. Neuhaus...

...The analogical imagination seeks out resemblances, similarities, correspondences, and the overlapping truths between apparently disparate realities.It aims at synthesis on the far side of experienced antithesis, it aims at likeness on the far side of unlikeness. Thus human sexuality in marriage is like the union between Christ and his bride the Church. Thus, as Vatican II insisted, the Church is not an alternative to the world, but is a sacrament for the world, and even of the world. She is that part of the world aspiring to the world's fulfillment in Christ....

...The analogical imagination is precisely that, a matter of imagination, a matter of sensibility. That is why we speak of the spirit of Catholicism rather than the logic of Catholicism, though Catholicism is also perfectly logical. It is a matter of finding analogies with hope even in a world that denies that hope. The spirit of Catholicism begins with an irrepressible sympathy with the world that is the object of God's love in Christ. It sees in the world ever so much more than the world dares to see in itself. It sees in every human being a potentiality for glory far beyond that person's timorous aspirations. Remember how often John Paul II cited the passage from Gaudium et Spes that says Christ is not only the revelation of God to man, but the revelation of man to himself...


Posted by John Weidner at 5:56 PM

January 27, 2011

"The logic of the blood libel"

The always-worth-reading Caroline Glick, The Aim Of Blood Libels:

...By criminalizing the entire community based on false allegations regarding a never-committed crime, anti-Semites made it impossible for Jews to go on about our lives. If we sought to deny the charges, we gave them credibility. If we ignored the charges, our silence was interpreted as an admission of guilt. And so no matter what we did, the blood libel firmly attached the stench of murder to a completely innocent Jewish community.

Just as its Israeli counterpart did in the wake of Rabin's assassination, so the American Left seeks to attach a sense of criminality and violence to the American Right in order to make it socially and otherwise unpalatable to support or otherwise identify with it.

By calling the Left out for its behavior, Palin exposed its agenda. But the logic of the blood libel remained. Trusting the public's ignorance, and the liberal Jewish community's solidarity, the leftist media in the U.S. immediately condemned Palin for daring to use the term, hinted she was an anti-Semite for doing so, and argued that by defending herself, she was again inciting violence.

Many conservative thinkers and politicians have long viewed Palin as a liability. By remaining in the spotlight, they allege, Palin is helping the Left. They argue that the media have already destroyed her ability to communicate with non-conservatives. Since she is viewed as a conservative leader, by failing to shut up she is making it impossible for other potential leaders whom the media don't despise to connect with the swing voters they will need to unseat Obama in 2012.

While alluring, this position does more than harm Palin. It renders the 2012 election irrelevant.

It matters not whether these conservative thinkers support Palin. What matters is that by telling her not to defend herself from libelous attacks, they are accepting the Left's right to criminalize all conservatives....
Posted by John Weidner at 3:56 PM

January 25, 2011

The coils of rope, the nets, the old brown sails...


I think if I lay dying in some land
Where Ireland is no more than just a name,
My soul would travel back to find that strand
From whence it came.

I'd see the harbour in the evening light,
The old men staring at some distant ship,
The fishing boats they fasten left and right
Beside the slip.

The sea-wrack lying on the wind-swept shore,
The grey thorn bushes growing in the sand,
Our Wexford coast from Arklow to Cahore -
My native land.

The little houses climbing up the hill
Sea daises growing in the sandy grass,
The tethered goats that wait large -eyed and still
To watch you pass.

The women at the well with dripping pails,
Their men colloguing by the harbour wall,
The coils of rope, the nets, the old brown sails,
I'd know them all.

And then the Angelus - I'd surely see
The swaying bell against a golden sky,
Would let me die.

    -- Winifred Letts

Posted by John Weidner at 7:28 AM

January 23, 2011

Leadership requires thinking about what is true...

Heather Wilson - Our superficial scholars:

...Unlike many graduate fellowships, the Rhodes seeks leaders who will "fight the world's fight." They must be more than mere bookworms. We are looking for students who wonder, students who are reading widely, students of passion who are driven to make a difference in the lives of those around them and in the broader world through enlightened and effective leadership. The undergraduate education they are receiving seems less and less suited to that purpose.

An outstanding biochemistry major wants to be a doctor and supports the president's health-care bill but doesn't really know why. A student who started a chapter of Global Zero at his university hasn't really thought about whether a world in which great powers have divested themselves of nuclear weapons would be more stable or less so, or whether nuclear deterrence can ever be moral. A young service academy cadet who is likely to be serving in a war zone within the year believes there are things worth dying for but doesn't seem to have thought much about what is worth killing for. A student who wants to study comparative government doesn't seem to know much about the important features and limitations of America's Constitution.

When asked what are the important things for a leader to be able to do, one young applicant described some techniques and personal characteristics to manage a group and get a job done. Nowhere in her answer did she give any hint of understanding that leaders decide what job should be done. Leaders set agendas. ...

If you read Random Jottings, none of this should be the least bit surprising. To set an agenda, you must decide what the goal is. And doing that is, at root, a philosophical question. You won't get far in, say, setting government policy, if you haven't thought through your philosophy of government. And to do that rightly, you must have a clear philosophy of everything! You must decide what is important, what is the good.

Foolish people imagine that the good is obvious. "Everybody knows what it is!" If you were born in, say, the year 1800, you might think chattel slavery was a great good, and a blessing for poor Africans who need organizing and bracing-up. A few years later you might think the opposite. And both times you might say that the good was obvious!

To get beyond such fatuity, students must be challenged to defend their ideas on deeper and deeper levels. "How do you know that? How do you justify that conclusion?" Universities should act like Socrates, probing and questioning. It doesn't happen anymore.

Our universities are ground-zero for the ever-increasing nihilism of our world. They don't dare teach the young to think or question, because those who comprise the university have no philosophical underpinnings they can trust. They believe in nothing, and are desperately trying to hide that fact from others and above all from themselves.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:19 PM

January 22, 2011

Whatever way you wrap the present...

From David Schütz, Tracey Rowland on "Sacro-Pop" :

...The idea of "marketing" the Gospel in a way that makes it "attractive" to the secular culture is always a mistake. Whatever way you wrap the present, inside the box will always be a bloody cross....

Christianity is really weird. Bloodstained and crazy and beautiful. There's no getting around the awkwardness. I dig it, but how do you explain to others? I certainly wish the essence of the thing were witty and charming and sophisticated, but really, why should God give a shit about games like that?

If you don't know, there is a ton of "Sacro-Pop" out there. I hate it.

Victor Mikhailovich Vasnetsov, Shroud of Christ, 1901. Victor Mikhailovich Vasnetsov, Shroud of Christ, 1901

Posted by John Weidner at 8:16 PM

Close to the blast furnace...

John Ziegler on Palin 2012:

...I still believe barring a disaster Obama will be reelected, but I now see nothing to lose and lots to gain by a Palin candidacy. She is the only candidate who has the ultimate freedom of having already faced her political death head on. As Winston Churchill famously said, "There is nothing more exhilarating than being shot without result," and while thankfully Palin only knows this truth metaphorically, all that she has endured gives her incredible independence. Everyone else will inevitably melt (like even grizzled veteran John McCain did) when they get close to the blast furnace that will be going up against the Obama juggernaut. Far more than anyone else in conservative history, Palin has been forced to prove just how fireproof her convictions are and how deep her resolve is.

Quite simply, no one else in the potential Republican field will be as trustworthy to conservatives on the issues, and less likely to back down, than Sarah Palin. She has shown beyond any doubt that she can literally handle anything that the pressure of running for president could possibly present....

True. Personally I don't think the Left would be trying to blow her doors off if they didn't suspect that she's a huge danger to Obama. Those claims that they want her to be the Republican candidate are just whistling past the graveyard.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:38 PM

January 20, 2011

The "Finlandization" of the Republicans

I was lucky to catch a bit of this Rush Limbaugh broadcast today while I was running errands. Rush read and commented on a great blog post by William Jacobson, We Just Witnessed The Media's Test Run To Re-Elect Barack Obama.

I recommend reading the post, or listening to Rush's broadcast. The main point to me is that a lot of bland-middle Republican leaders think they can let the Leftist media take down Governor Palin, and then they will be safe. This is about as smart as the idea of letting the Islamists or the Nazis take the Jews, so they will be contented and not bother anyone else.

But of course any Republican Presidential candidate is going to hit the same buzz-saw. And they won't be ready. Just like poor McCain wasn't ready, and went into the campaign thinking the media would be nice to him as they always had in the past.

If Republicans toss Palin off the sleigh to appease the wolves, the next attack will be worse. Because we will have taught the wolves that chasing the sleigh is a good way to get a snack.

There is only one person we know will be ready. 'Cuz she's the only man in the Republican leadership, and because she's already endured a typhoon of slime, and remains unbowed...

Sara Palin with dead caribou

Posted by John Weidner at 9:20 PM

January 19, 2011

Vindication of me, too...

It's such a pleasure to watch our fake-liberals squirm now that they are running the war.. Actually, Greenwald is more honest than most, who just drop stuff down the memory hole...

The vindication of Dick Cheney - Glenn Greenwald:

...Aside from the repressiveness of the policies themselves, there are three highly significant and enduring harms from Obama's behavior. First, it creates the impression that Republicans were right all along in the Bush-era War on Terror debates and Democratic critics were wrong...

Were WERE right, and you nihilists WERE wrong.

And I predicted what would happen. I several times wrote that Bush had set the template of the War on Terror, just as Truman did for the Cold War.

...Second, Obama has single-handedly eliminated virtually all mainstream debate over these War on Terror policies. At least during the Bush years, we had one party which steadfastly supported them but one party which claimed (albeit not very persuasively) to vehemently oppose them. At least there was a pretense of vigorous debate over their legality, morality, efficacy, and compatibility with our national values.

Those debates are no more. Even the hardest-core right-wing polemicists -- Gen. Hayden, the Heritage Foundation, Dick Cheney -- now praise Obama's actions in these areas. Opposition from national Democrats has faded away to almost complete nonexistence now that it's a Democratic President doing these things. ..

Because you are FRAUDS! You were dishonest all along.

...Third, Obama's embrace of these policies has completely rehabilitated the reputations and standing of the Bush officials responsible for them...

Ha ha.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:27 AM

January 17, 2011

That Old Time Religion...

Just for fun, a couple of snippets from David Gelernter's essay, Americanism—and Its Enemies:
...Americanism is potent stuff. It is every bit as fervent and passionate a religion as the anti-Americanism it challenges and rebukes.

That Americanism is a religion is widely agreed. G.K. Chesterton called America "the nation with the soul of a church." But Americanism is not (contrary to the views of many people who use these terms loosely) a "secular" or a "civil" religion. No mere secular ideology, no mere philosophical belief, could possibly have inspired the intensities of hatred and devotion that Americanism has. Americanism is in fact a Judeo-Christian religion; a millenarian religion; a biblical religion. Unlike England's "official" religion, embodied in the Anglican church, America's has been incorporated into all the Judeo-Christian religions in the nation.

Does that make it impossible to believe in a secular Americanism? Can you be an agnostic or atheist or Buddhist or Muslim and a believing American too? In each case the answer is yes. But to accomplish that feat is harder than most people realize. The Bible is not merely the fertile soil that brought Americanism forth. It is the energy source that makes it live and thrive; that makes believing Americans willing to prescribe freedom, equality, and democracy even for a place like Afghanistan, once regarded as perhaps the remotest region on the face of the globe. If you undertake to remove Americanism from its native biblical soil, you had better connect it to some other energy source potent enough to keep its principles alive and blooming...

...I believe that Puritanism did not drop out of history. It transformed itself into Americanism. This new religion was the end-stage of Puritanism: Puritanism realized among God's self-proclaimed "new" chosen people—or, in Abraham Lincoln's remarkable phrase, God's "almost chosen people."...

...Although historians often skip over this point, Truman's world-view centered on the Bible nearly to the extent Lincoln's had. By his own account, he had read through the Bible three times by age fourteen; he read it through seven times more during the years of his presidency. It shaped his understanding of the American enterprise. Truman makes this remarkable comment in his Memoirs: "What came about in Philadelphia in 1776 really had its beginning in Hebrew times."..."

I myself think Americanism had it's beginnings in the the influence of Catholic faith on certain Germanics tribe—Angles, Saxons, who knows—in the Dark Ages. The American Revolution was fought for "The Rights of Englishmen." Which is a concept that was old when Magna Carta was written. Western Civilization is a mysterious amalgam of Greco-Roman civilization, barbarian tribes, and Christian faith—(which was still purely Catholic Faith).

Posted by John Weidner at 6:36 PM

January 16, 2011

A Prayer of St Bede...

This prayer in YouTube form is NOT finished. Not tweaked. But since I probably won't find time or oomph to re-work it, and I had nothing else in mind for a Sunday Thought, here it is. Think of it as a protest against chronocentrism.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:55 AM

January 15, 2011

The old army game...

Willis Eschenbach, at Watts Up With That?:

I would like to take as my text the following quote from the recent paper (PDF, 270k) by Dr. Kevin Trenberth:
Given that global warming is "unequivocal", to quote the 2007 IPCC report, the null hypothesis should now be reversed, thereby placing the burden of proof on showing that there is no human influence [on the climate]....

Can you see the shell game in that quote? Read the article if you don't.

Warmists are NOT honest people. Much less honest scientists.

* Update: Dr Trenberth has very quietly edited the speech. No apologies of course.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:19 AM

January 14, 2011

The Onion knows all, tells all...

Political Pundits Surprisingly Good At Getting Inside Mentally Unbalanced Shooter's Head — The Onion - America's Finest News Source:

...NEW YORK—According to media analysts, the nation's TV commentators and political pundits have proved uncannily accurate when describing the deeply disturbed inner thoughts of accused Arizona gunman Jared Loughner. "It's strange, but when it comes to getting inside the mind of this human being who seems to possess no empathy, sense of morality, or hold on reality, and who is motivated only by personal animus and self-glorification, the nation's major political pundits have been amazingly adept," said Horizon Media analyst Bob Cullen, who has studied extensive tape of commentators on all major TV news programs and found their remarks on "what the killer is thinking" to be consistently thorough and detailed across the board. "It's almost as though they have some way of knowing, firsthand, exactly what this demented and highly dangerous individual with the eyes of millions upon him is going through." Researchers at Horizon Media also reported that a number of prominent TV pundits appeared to be mimicking the exact same chilling gleam in Loughner's eye for what they could only speculate was "dramatic effect."...
Posted by John Weidner at 8:22 PM

January 13, 2011

A few good ideas...

Why Can't We Copy those Radical Free-Market Canadians and Privatize the Air Traffic Control System?:

...The Canadians have a much better approach. They privatized their air traffic control system back in the 1990s. So instead of having to rely on a clunky and incompetent government bureaucracy, our neighbors to the north have a private company that is generating very impressive results.

Not that this should be a surprise. Other nations have made remarkable gains through privatization, including Social Security personal accounts in Chile and 30 other nations, education choice in places such as Sweden and the Netherlands, and privatized postal service in Germany....
Posted by John Weidner at 7:53 PM

January 12, 2011

Another home run...

Charlene liked this comment, found at The Gateway Pundit's post on Sarah's speech:

The fools. They went and gave her yet another opportunity – this time, an opportunity to have a glimpse at "President Palin" – and she went and hit another home run.

At a time when we have Tim Pawlenty ingratiating himself to Whoopi Goldberg, and Republicans in a race to see who can offer up anti-gun legislation, a leader emerges once again, to show Republicans what a conservative looks like.

Keep the attacks coming, evil Leftists. You will drive this woman into the hearts of the American people, and into the Oval Office.

Sarah Palin: "America's Enduring Strength" from Sarah Palin on Vimeo.

* Update: (If you put this one in a novel people would say you were absurdly unrealistic.)

ABC: ...BOTTOM LINE: Sarah Palin, once again, has found a way to become part of the story...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:56 AM

January 11, 2011

New pup...

We Weidners decided that our current dog, Aidan, a standard poodle, needed a poodle pet to play with. So now we have a new six month-old pup, Miranda. She was bred as a show dog, but then she had a brief seizure while being groomed. So the owner gave her to us. They were so panicky over this that she hasn't been groomed for like, forever. She's the Dreadlock Kid, and smelly to boot, until we can manage to get her trimmed. It's all very funny. We have to put the hair on her forehead up in little pony-tails, so she can see! She's a real sweetheart...

Posted by John Weidner at 5:26 PM

January 10, 2011

The secret of life lies in laughter and humility...

From Heretics by Gilbert Keith Chesterton: Ch. 9: The Moods of Mr. George Moore:

...If we compare this solemn folly with the happy folly with which [Robert Louis] Stevenson belauds his own books and berates his own critics, we shall not find it difficult to guess why it is that Stevenson at least found a final philosophy of some sort to live by, while Mr. Moore is always walking the world looking for a new one. Stevenson had found that the secret of life lies in laughter and humility. Self is the gorgon. Vanity sees it in the mirror of other men and lives. Pride studies it for itself and is turned to stone.

It is necessary to dwell on this defect in Mr. Moore, because it is really the weakness of work which is not without its strength. Mr. Moore's egoism is not merely a moral weakness, it is a very constant and influential aesthetic weakness as well. We should really be much more interested in Mr. Moore if he were not quite so interested in himself. We feel as if we were being shown through a gallery of really fine pictures, into each of which, by some useless and discordant convention, the artist had represented the same figure in the same attitude. "The Grand Canal with a distant view of Mr. Moore," "Effect of Mr. Moore through a Scotch Mist," "Mr. Moore by Firelight," "Ruins of Mr. Moore by Moonlight," and so on, seems to be the endless series.

He would no doubt reply that in such a book as this he intended to reveal himself. But the answer is that in such a book as this he does not succeed. One of the thousand objections to the sin of pride lies precisely in this, that self-consciousness of necessity destroys self-revelation. A man who thinks a great deal about himself will try to be many-sided, attempt a theatrical excellence at all points, will try to be an encyclopaedia of culture, and his own real personality will be lost in that false universalism. Thinking about himself will lead to trying to be the universe; trying to be the universe will lead to ceasing to be anything. If, on the other hand, a man is sensible enough to think only about the universe; he will think about it in his own individual way. He will keep virgin the secret of God; he will see the grass as no other man can see it, and look at a sun that no man has ever known. This fact is very practically brought out in Mr. Moore's "Confessions." In reading them we do not feel the presence of a clean-cut personality like that of Thackeray and Matthew Arnold. We only read a number of quite clever and largely conflicting opinions which might be uttered by any clever person, but which we are called upon to admire specifically, because they are uttered by Mr. Moore....
Posted by John Weidner at 11:12 PM

Violent Tea Party quote of the day...

Glenn Reynolds:

...UPDATE: As I think about it, the mental process seems to be something like this:

Lefty: Sarah Palin and the Tea Party movement encourage hatred and violence!

Questioner: How do you know?

Lefty: Because whenever I think about them, I'm filled with hate and a desire to do harm!
Posted by John Weidner at 1:58 PM

January 9, 2011

"For him, 'conscience' means man's capacity for truth"

...Finally I should like to recall once more the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman. Why was he beatified? What does he have to say to us? Many responses could be given to these questions, which were explored in the context of the beatification. I would like to highlight just two aspects which belong together and which, in the final analysis, express the same thing. The first is that we must learn from Newman's three conversions, because they were steps along a spiritual path that concerns us all. Here I would like to emphasize just the first conversion: to faith in the living God. Until that moment, Newman thought like the average men of his time and indeed like the average men of today, who do not simply exclude the existence of God, but consider it as something uncertain, something with no essential role to play in their lives. What appeared genuinely real to him, as to the men of his and our day, is the empirical, matter that can be grasped. This is the "reality" according to which one finds one's bearings. The "real" is what can be grasped, it is the things that can be calculated and taken in one's hand.

In his conversion, Newman recognized that it is exactly the other way round: that God and the soul, man's spiritual identity, constitute what is genuinely real, what counts. These are much more real than objects that can be grasped. This conversion was a Copernican revolution. What had previously seemed unreal and secondary was now revealed to be the genuinely decisive element. Where such a conversion takes place, it is not just a person's theory that changes: the fundamental shape of life changes. We are all in constant need of such conversion: then we are on the right path.

The driving force that impelled Newman along the path of conversion was conscience. But what does this mean? In modern thinking, the word "conscience" signifies that for moral and religious questions, it is the subjective dimension, the individual, that constitutes the final authority for decision. The world is divided into the realms of the objective and the subjective. To the objective realm belong things that can be calculated and verified by experiment. Religion and morals fall outside the scope of these methods and are therefore considered to lie within the subjective realm. Here, it is said, there are in the final analysis no objective criteria. The ultimate instance that can decide here is therefore the subject alone, and precisely this is what the word "conscience" expresses: in this realm only the individual, with his intuitions and experiences, can decide.

Newman's understanding of conscience is diametrically opposed to this. For him, "conscience" means man's capacity for truth: the capacity to recognize precisely in the decision-making areas of his life – religion and morals – a truth, the truth. At the same time, conscience – man's capacity to recognize truth – thereby imposes on him the obligation to set out along the path towards truth, to seek it and to submit to it wherever he finds it. Conscience is both capacity for truth and obedience to the truth which manifests itself to anyone who seeks it with an open heart. The path of Newman's conversions is a path of conscience – not a path of self-asserting subjectivity but, on the contrary, a path of obedience to the truth that was gradually opening up to him.

In support of the claim that Newman's concept of conscience matched the modern subjective understanding, people often quote a letter in which he said – should he have to propose a toast – that he would drink first to conscience and then to the Pope. But in this statement, "conscience" does not signify the ultimately binding quality of subjective intuition. It is an expression of the accessibility and the binding force of truth: on this its primacy is based. The second toast can be dedicated to the Pope because it is his task to demand obedience to the truth.

link, Vatican site. Thanks to Jeffrey Steel

Posted by John Weidner at 9:35 AM

Just... something to remember...

Watching Leftists instantly try to link conservatives, and especially Sarah, to the shootings (while right-wing sites were asking for prayers) was a very foul and slimy thing to see. Everything is politics on the Left. Here's a very different reaction to a mass-murder...

Journalists urged caution after Ft. Hood, now race to blame Palin after Arizona shootings: (My emphasis)

In November 5, 2009, Maj. Nidal Hasan opened fire at a troop readiness center in Ft. Hood, Texas, killing 13 people. Within hours of the killings, the world knew that Hasan reportedly shouted "Allahu Akbar!" before he began shooting, visited websites associated with Islamist violence, wrote Internet postings justifying Muslim suicide bombings, considered U.S. forces his enemy, opposed American involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan as wars on Islam, and told a neighbor shortly before the shootings that he was going "to do good work for God." There was ample evidence, in other words, that the Ft. Hood attack was an act of Islamist violence.

Nevertheless, public officials, journalists, and commentators were quick to caution that the public should not "jump to conclusions" about Hasan's motive. CNN, in particular, became a forum for repeated warnings that the subject should be discussed with particular care.

"The important thing is for everyone not to jump to conclusions," said retired Gen. Wesley Clark on CNN the night of the shootings.

"We cannot jump to conclusions," said CNN's Jane Velez-Mitchell that same evening. "We have to make sure that we do not jump to any conclusions whatsoever."

"I'm on Pentagon chat room," said former CIA operative Robert Baer on CNN, also the night of the shooting. "Right now, there's messages going back and forth, saying do not jump to the conclusion this had anything to do with Islam."

The next day, President Obama underscored the rapidly-forming conventional wisdom when he told the country, "I would caution against jumping to conclusions until we have all the facts." In the days that followed, CNN journalists and guests repeatedly echoed the president's remarks.

"We can't jump to conclusions," Army Gen. George Casey said on CNN November 8.  The next day, political analyst Mark Halperin urged a "transparent" investigation into the shootings "so the American people don't jump to conclusions." And when Republican Rep. Pete Hoekstra, then the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, suggested that the Ft. Hood attack was terrorism, CNN's John Roberts was quick to intervene. "Now, President Obama has asked people to be very cautious here and to not jump to conclusions," Roberts said to Hoekstra. "By saying that you believe this is an act of terror, are you jumping to a conclusion?"...
Posted by John Weidner at 8:19 AM

January 8, 2011

A recent job...

This is something I just installed. The top part is a traditional shape called a "broken pediment." It's big; about 8' tall. It's too big to move as a whole, the whole thing comes apart, and was screwed together on-site...

bookcase with broken pediment.

Posted by John Weidner at 2:32 PM

January 6, 2011

"Conditioned by the fashion of the day."

From Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's famous 1978 commencement address at Harvard:

....Without any censorship, in the West fashionable trends of thought and ideas are carefully separated from those which are not fashionable; nothing is forbidden, but what is not fashionable will hardly ever find its way into periodicals or books or be heard in colleges. Legally your researchers are free, but they are conditioned by the fashion of the day. There is no open violence such as in the East; however, a selection dictated by fashion and the need to match mass standards frequently prevent independent-minded people from giving their contribution to public life.

There is a dangerous tendency to form a herd, shutting off successful development. I have received letters in America from highly intelligent persons, maybe a teacher in a faraway small college who could do much for the renewal and salvation of his country, but his country cannot hear him because the media are not interested in him. This gives birth to strong mass prejudices, blindness, which is most dangerous in our dynamic era. There is, for instance, a self-deluding interpretation of the contemporary world situation. It works as a sort of petrified armor around people's minds. Human voices from 17 countries of Eastern Europe and Eastern Asia cannot pierce it. It will only be broken by the pitiless crowbar of events....

"...his country cannot hear him because the media are not interested in him." I don't think things have improved much since '78, but at least the media monopoly has been broken, and the "mainstream media" are pretty much on the ash-heap of history.

Posted by John Weidner at 4:05 PM

January 4, 2011

You Lefties got what you you wanted...

Victor Davis Hanson:

...The same is true of California. Our elites liked the idea of stopping new gas and oil extraction, shutting down the nuclear power industry, freezing state east-west freeways, strangling the mining and timber industries, cutting off water to agriculture in the Central Valley, diverting revenues from fixing roads and bridges to redistributive entitlements, and praising the new multicultural state that would welcome in half the nation's 11-15 million illegal aliens. Better yet, the red-state-minded "they" (the nasty upper one-percent who stole from the rest of us due to their grasping but superfluous businesses) began to leave at the rate of 3,000 a week, ensuring the state a Senator Barbara Boxer into her nineties.

Yes, we are proud that we have changed the attitude, lifestyle, and demography of the state, made it "green," and have the highest paid public employees and the most generous welfare system—and do not have to soil our hands with nasty things like farming, oil production, or nuclear power. And now we are broke. ...

And when the fact that we are broke finally sinks in, the cry will go up: "Capitalism has failed!"

Posted by John Weidner at 9:59 AM

January 3, 2011

So, it's a "grass-roots" organization...

...But it has staff, who can be laid-off by the central office? Which is a political party? What a joke!

The Recession Hits Organizing for America - By Daniel Foster - The Corner - National Review Online:

...President Obama's grassroots org is starting off 2011 with a round of layoffs:

The Democratic National Committee's Organizing for America has started laying off staff in multiple states as the first phase of a restructuring before the official kickoff of President Barack Obama's re-election bid....

If you want grass-roots, it's called "Tea Party!"

Posted by John Weidner at 2:07 PM

January 2, 2011

All battle-stained and grim are they, Who seek the Prince of Peace to-day...

Today is the Feast of the Epiphany...


THE Kings still come to Bethlehem
Though nineteen centuries have fled;
The Kings still come to Bethlehem
To worship at a Baby's bed.
And still a star shines in the East,
For sage and soldier, king and priest.

They come not as they came of old
On lordly camels richly dight;
They come not bearing myrrh and gold
And jewels for a king's delight.
All battle-stained and grim are they
Who seek the Prince of Peace to-day.

They bring not pearls nor frankincense
To offer Him for His content.
Weary and worn with long suspense
With kingdoms ravished, fortunes spent,
They have no gifts to bring but these
Men's blood and women's agonies.

What toys have they to please a child?
Cannon and gun and bayonet.
What gold? Their honour undefiled.
What myrrh? Sad hearts and long regret.
For they have found through bitter loss
That Kings are throned upon the Cross.

The Kings still come to Bethlehem
With broken hearts and souls sore-vexed.
And still the star is guiding them
Through weary nights and days perplexed.
God greet you, Kings, that you may be
New-crowned at His Epiphany.
    -- Winifred Letts
Posted by John Weidner at 6:38 PM