Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Tulsi Isn't Playing Hard to Get

Conservative sadbois like two things: hot moms and Middle Eastern despots.

Enter Tulsi Gabbard, the comely representative for Hawaii’s second congressional district. The single lock of gray hair tucked behind her ear and her array of red pants-suits give her an almost Palinesque allure. Her secret friendship with Bashar al-Assad and visceral hatred for the House of Saud brings us all back to our political puberty: hiding copies of The American Conservative under our beds, taking them out only when our parents weren’t home and fantasizing madly about the end of American Empire.

Knowing only that, we can hardly blame an aging fogey who finds himself crushing on Rep. Gabbard. Throw in the fact that she’s extremely eloquent, an active member of the US armed forces, a surfer chick, and — ha! Hold my brain; be still my wonkish heart.

That’s why I take it there’s been some sort of unspoken agreement in the center-right media. We all know there’s no chance of Tulsi actually winning, so we’re just going to let this lady-crush run its course.

[Read more at The Spectator USA]

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Francis Paves the Way for Francis II

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was roundly mocked last week for saying that Millennials are, in fact, the Greatest Generation. And rightly so. By and large, my generation is a waste of its fathers’ seed and a drain on their resources. Culturally, we’re vapid. Socially, we’re maladjusted. Spiritually, we’re lost. Politically, we’re just plain silly.

Had Ms. Ocasio-Cortez been speaking of Millennial Catholics, however, I might be inclined to agree with her.

Of course, most Millennials are “cafeteria Catholics” like our parents. We identify with the Church while rejecting crucial teachings on the Eucharist, sexuality, marriage, and the all-male priesthood. But there are unique signs of renewal among us that should give orthodox Catholics of any age reason to be hopeful.

Courageous young priests like Fr. Eddie Dwyer are offering their brave witness to the traditions of Holy Mother Church. Young men and women are flocking to traditional religious orders. From my own conversations with seminarians, I’d estimate that roughly one-third of those ordained in the last year are interested in celebrating the Tridentine Mass.

Political thinkers like Matthew Schmitz and Sohrab Ahmari are bringing Catholic social teaching into the American political debate. Three memoirists have offered moving, penetrating insights into the American experience: the hillbilly transplant J.D. Vance, the Iranian immigrant Ahmari, and the Irish son Michael Brendan Dougherty. All are Catholic, and two are converts.

Progressives in the Church have noticed this trend, too. Massimo Faggioli, a de facto spokesmen for the episcopal establishment, has warned about the rise of “neo-traditionalism” among young Catholics. Austen Ivereigh (another Vatican flak) has dismissed this phenomenon as “convert neurosis”, which is a particularly egregious bit of Bulverism. But at least he doesn’t bother denying that Millennials come to the Church out of concern, not for plastics in the ocean, but for the apostolic Faith.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Scrap the Jesuits and start over

Imagine what Church historians of the future will say about the Jesuits:

“The Society of Jesus was founded in 1540 by St. Ignatius of Loyola and played a crucial role in the Church’s efforts to extinguish the nascent Protestant heresy. Over the centuries, however, it became the stronghold of another heresy—Modernism—and was eventually suppressed on the orders of Pope Pius XIII. Remnants of the order persisted in the United States through the middle of the 21st century, mostly due to the value of the land upon which they had built college campuses. Then, in the year 2103, the Society’s seven remaining priests were collectively re-ordained in the Episcopal Church, briefly doubling the number of Episcopalian clerics.”

Harsh? Maybe. But what reason do we have to be optimistic about the Jesuits’ future in the Catholic Church?

Just last week, the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Arturo Sosa—he’s the chap in the mustaches, above—was upbraided by the International Association of Exorcists for calling Satan a“symbolic reality, not as a personal reality.”

The IAE pointed out to Fr. Sosa that the “real existence of the devil, as a personal subject who thinks and acts and has made the choice of rebellion against God, is a truth of faith that has always been part of Christian doctrine.”

“The finest trick of the devil is to persuade you that he does not exist,” as Charles Baudelaire quipped. Well, the leader of the world’s 16,000 Jesuits fell for it.

[Read more at Crisis.]

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Cardinal Pell is innocent. Those who persecute him are not

The boiling frog never marks that first millisecond, when the water in his pot becomes just a half-degree warmer. And so, Catholics living in America circa 2019 couldn’t possibly appreciate the magnitude of what happened this week in Australia. Yet I have no doubt my grandsons will.

Here are the facts. In December of 2018, Cardinal George Pell, the former Archbishop of Melbourne and Prefect of the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy, was found guilty of sexually abusing two choir boys in the 1990s. He appealed his conviction; on August 21st, a panel of judges voted 2 to 1 to uphold the sentence.

Beyond any shadow of a doubt, His Eminence is innocent. I mean, it is literally impossible that Cardinal Pell is guilty of the crime he’s accused of committing. The acts of abuse described by the prosecution are not only ridiculous: they’re physically impossible for any man to perform. There were no third-party witnesses to the assault, and not a shred of forensic evidence to prove his guilt. Every priest, altar boy, and chorister at the St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne testified that Pell was celebrating Mass at the time of the alleged attack.

But don’t take my word for it. Read the court documents. Read contemporary news reports. Hell: read any of the hundreds of anti-Pell screeds published over the last few years. Start with Louise Milligan’s book-length hitjob Cardinal. Notice how quickly you realize that things you’re reading just don’t seem to add up. You’ll find yourself going over the same paragraphs twice, three times. Your brain will start to itch. “I’m missing something,” you’ll say to yourself; “This doesn’t make any sense.”

In fact, you’re not missing anything. It doesn’t make sense. And that’s because Cardinal Pell is innocent. The allegations are bogus. Yet the Australian justice system, the Australian press, and most of the Australian public refuse to admit it. An innocent man—a holy, gentle, honest, compassionate man—will spend the next six years in prison. Then, he’ll spend the rest of his days on earth known as a violent pedophile.

Every fair-minded American, whatever their creed, should be outraged at the gross injustice that transpired in our sister-nation across the Pacific.

[Read more at Crisis.]

Friday, August 2, 2019

Prince Harry Lives Up to His Namesake

“Where men are forbidden to honor a king,” C.S. Lewis warned, “they honor millionaires, athletes or film-stars instead: even famous prostitutes or gangsters. For spiritual nature, like bodily nature, will be served; deny it food and it will gobble poison.” I suppose the gentle don never considered what might happen if men were given a choice to gobble both at once.
Prince Harry and the artist formerly known as Meghan Markle – that’s the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to you – epitomize the moral decadence of our age. The couple made headlines twice this week, both times for being fatuous trendies.
First, the Duke (long rumored to be the legitimate son of the Charles, Prince of Wales) gave a bizarre interview for a special issue of Vogue edited by his wife. Speaking to Jane Goodall for some reason, he vowed to have a “maximum” of two children, hoping to discourage population growth for the sake of the environment.
Harry also took the opportunity to share his thoughts on “unconscious racial bias.” He defines this bias as a “stigma” which is “learned from your family, learned from the older generation, or from advertising, from your environment.” Was Harry simply unconscious, then, when he donned a Nazi armband for a costume party in 2005? Well, never mind.

The Sussexes are happy to lecture commoners about their deep-seated racist tendencies, of course, but only through an intermediary. That same week, it was reported that Harry and Meghan’s handlers have being paying visits to the couples’ new neighbors, ordering them not to interact with the royals. The Sussexes’ neighbors are specifically forbidden from offering to walk the couple’s dog or even wishing them a good morning.
At some level, one must feel bad for Harry. Just a few years ago, he wanted nothing more than to serve in his grandmother’s armed forces and play strip pool with young floozies in Vegas. Now, he’s just another woke snob with a messiah complex. Is this what he expected from married life – long pillow talks about the dangers of bagged produce? This, boys and girls, is why you wait ‘til you’re married.

[Read more at Crisis.]

Friday, July 19, 2019

Is Big Tech trying to suppress the pro-life movement?

Donald Trump and Elizabeth Warren have both made headlines this past week, accusing social media companies of aiding and comforting the enemy. The President claims that Twitter censors right-wing voices; meanwhile, the Massachusetts senator says that Facebook didn’t do enough to curtail “fake news” during the 2016 election. Regardless of whether Big Tech is hostile to conservatives or progressives, however, it seems clear that the pro-life movement has few friends in Silicon Valley.

Cary Solomon, the producer and co-writer of the anti-abortion film Unplanned, was among those invited to participate in last week’s White House summit on social media. “We are the tip of the spear as far as social media persecution goes,” she told the Catholic News Agency. She said that her project was “directly, monetarily hurt” by Big Tech’s alleged suppression of pro-life content.

Lila Rose, the founder of Live Action, was also in attendance. For years Twitter has forbidden her group from buying ad space on its platform. Twitter specifically cited as offensive Live Action’s calls for the US government to defund Planned Parenthood (which is still allowed to advertise on Twitter). Ms Rose also claims that YouTube “buried our pro-life videos and boosted abortion videos”. Last month, Live Action was permanently suspended from Pinterest. Meanwhile, posts teaching women how to perform DIY abortions remain on the site.
This isn’t a recent development, either. In 2014, reports emerged that Google had decided to block ads from crisis pregnancy centres at the behest of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL). The pro-choice giant was outraged that these pregnancy centres were allowed to bid for space when users searched for the keyword “abortion clinics”. Google conceded, ensuring that women would never learn of a non-fatal alternative to abortion.

[Read more at the Catholic Herald.]

Thursday, July 18, 2019

MWD on Tucker

Did you miss me on Tucker Carlson Tonight discussing Jeffrey Epstein, President-Emeritus of the Hellfire Club? Watch it here!

Drowning in the Internet’s Political Sewers

Donald Trump is marshaling a legion of internet trolls for his impending re-election battle. Ostensibly, this summit is being convened to discuss the censorship of right-wing voices on social media. In reality, Trump is bolstering the morale of his online militia, which could be more effective than traditional TV surrogates because it doesn’t have any official ties to the campaign. These “activists” advance Trump’s cause by (for instance) making him videos of Joe Biden molesting himself, which POTUS can then post to Twitter. And if the content ends up being too spicy, he can just delete it and accept no further blame. It’s a win/win for @realDonaldTrump.

At the same time, Senate progressives are summoning Big Tech’s Axis of Evil—Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Apple—to Capitol Hill. Elizabeth Warren will look Facebook executive Matt Perault square in the eye and tell him that his company’s failure to prevent “Russian interference” in the 2016 election means Facebook will be broken up under anti-monopoly laws. Twitter, of course, is exempt: it already does a pretty good job of identifying agents of the Kremlin, like Joseph Cox and James Woods.

To quote Henry Kissinger, it’s a pity both sides can’t lose.

[Read more at The American Conservative.]

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Welcome to the Hellfire Club

This is how America is. This is how our ruling class works: Democrat, Republican, whatever. As the inimitable Matthew Walther points out, there’s a reason people believe in Pizzagate. The Hellfire Club is real. And for decades, we’ve emboldened them considerably.

Remember how Democrats and centrist Republicans mocked conservatives for making such a stink about Monica Lewinsky’s blue dress? The media elite competed to see who could appear the most unfazed by the fact that our sax-playing president was getting a bit on the side. “I mean, heh heh, I love my wife, but, heh, the 1950s called, man! They want their morality police back.”

Well, look where that got us. Two confirmed adulterers have occupied the White House in living memory; both are now under fire for cavorting with a child sex slaver on Orgy Island. Go ahead and act surprised, Renault.

Surely I’m not the only one who noticed that the Epstein sex abuse timeline is nearly identical to the Catholic Church sex abuse timeline. Both investigations were initiated in the early 2000s. Both revealed that the exploitation of children was an open secret in the highest echelons of power. Both investigations were closed a few years later, though not resolved. We assumed justice would take its course, and slowly began to forget. And then within two years of each other, both scandals emerged again, more sordid than ever. And on both occasions, we realized that nothing had changed.

Whew. Now I get why people become communists. Not the new-wave, gender-fluid, pink-haired Trots, of course. Nor the new far Left, which condemns child predators like Epstein out one side of its mouth while demanding sympathy for pedophiles out the other.

No: I mean the old-fashioned, blue-collar, square-jawed Stalinists. I mean the guy with eight fingers and 12 kids who saw photos of the annual Manhattan debutantes’ ball, felt the rumble in his stomach, and figured he may as well eat the rich.

Of course, we know where that leads us. For two centuries, conservatives have tried to dampen the passions that led France to cannibalize herself circa 1789.

[Excerpted from The American ConservativeRead more!]

Why don’t Catholics listen to bishops on immigration?

What’s astonishing is how little Catholic voters appear to heed the bishops’ condemnations. A March 2019 poll by the Pew Research Center found that, while Trump’s support among white Catholics had slumped by eight points since February 2017 (about the same as the national average), it had doubled among non-white Catholics, most of whom are Hispanic.

Perhaps there was a time in US history when the hierarchy’s every pronouncement in the political arena would have been instantly accepted by huge swathes of Catholic voters. But a century of integration has left American Catholics thoroughly independent-minded in matters of politics.

Moreover, as Pope Francis and most of the American bishops stand accused of complacency in the ongoing sex abuse crisis, never have American Catholics been less inclined to trust Church leaders. Supporters of tougher immigration policies will question why, as new allegations of sexual misconduct against senior prelates continue to emerge, our leaders in Rome and America seem far more interested in talking about Trump’s wall.

[Excerpted from the Catholic Herald. Read more!]

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Academic Freedom is Nonsense

Look: undergraduates—conservative, progressive, whatever—don’t need “freedom.” What they need is instruction, formation. They lack knowledge, which is why they pay a professor to share some of his. If they want, they can smoke pipes on the green in between classes and toy around with their half-baked musings about Nietzsche. But it would be insane for them to shell out $40,000 a year for a guy who wrote his doctoral thesis on German existentialism to sit by and quietly observe their efforts to explain Thus Spake Zarathustra to one another.

For all their faults, leftists still understand that college is about learning to distinguish between good and bad ideas, and that lecturers and tutors must have a certain intellectual authority over their students if that’s to be accomplished. The problem with modern left-wing academics is simply this: they’ve gotten True and False hopelessly mixed up.

Even then, however, we can’t blame professors for professing—only for professing error. When a tutor tells your son to use “their” instead of “he” or “she” in his essays because gender is non-binary (or what have you), that’s not mere propaganda: it’s bad science, and even worse grammar.

By the same token, university administrators are right to take an active interest in the moral formation of the young men and women in their charge. Sure, we may prefer single-gender dorms to consent classes. But we can’t dismiss college officials as “neo-puritans” because they want to protect drunk teenaged girls from the scores of male classmates who would readily seize the opportunity to rape them.

Anyway, it’s obvious we don’t believe all the rot we talk about colleges being a “marketplace of ideas.” We’d never demand that a Newman Guide school abandon its binary view of gender and “teach the controversy” by giving an equal hearing to theories about gender fluidity. We wouldn’t decry the Catholic University of America as “neo-puritan” for blocking porn on its wifi servers.

And that’s okay! Better to be a conservative hypocrite than a sincere libertarian. Besides, only a self-important fop like Voltaire would die for someone else’s freedom to be wrong. As conservatives and Christians, we know that Truth is the only cause worth our lives.

[Exerpted from The American Conservative. Read more!]

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Make America Good Again

When America passes away (as she must) in a hundred or a thousand years, how will she be remembered?

Most conservatives suspect we’re living in the twilight of a new Rome. Like the old Rome, we got our start as a cultural backwater. We came to flourish, against all odds, by embracing certain high-minded ideals: an equal citizenry, representative government, the rule of law, and so on. We traversed the known world, bringing one barbarian horde after the next to heel beneath the mantle of civilization.

Now our empire, too, is faltering under the weight of its own hegemony. The United States has invaded practically every country in the Middle East, and not a single one has been successfully assimilated into Pax Americana. Many suspect President Donald Trump will play the role of Caesar. He’ll destroy the republic in the republic’s name. He’ll drag her lower and lower as he tries to make her great again.

Where the New Rome thesis may fail is that it overestimates America. After all, we’re enchanted by the memory of Rome’s cultural exploits as much as her military ones. Do we have anything that can compare? The little wooden congregational churches that our fathers built won’t leave majestic ruins like the Pantheon. Our greatest philosopher—Ralph Waldo Emerson, say, or even Henry James—can’t compare to Seneca or Marcus Aurelius. George Washington probably won’t go down as a new Romulus and it’s doubtful Honest Abe will be invoked alongside Cato the Younger.

For all we know, we’ll be remembered more like the Goths or the Mongolians: fierce conquerors, but little more.

The answer, I think, will fall somewhere in the middle. America seems to me a modern Troy—noble, strong, and tragic. As the Greeks razed Troy to the ground, they, too, thought they would be remembered for their greatness. Remember Prince Hector’s swan-song:

Tis true, I perish, yet I perish great:
Yet in a mighty deed I shall expire,
Let future ages hear it, and admire!

What do we remember the Trojans for, really? Being duped by a bunch of Greeks in a wooden horse. So while I hope Trump gets his wall, he should remember that Troy’s were razed from the inside.

“Fate gives the wound, and man is born to bear,” Apollo said, dismissing Achilles’ blasphemous rage at the death of Patroclus. Maybe it was America’s fate to follow Troy. English lore once supposed that Britain was first settled by Felix Brutus, a direct descendant of the Trojan hero Aeneas. (Romulus and Remus were also born of Aeneas’s line, which makes Britain and Rome cousins.) Because America is a former British colony, that would make us great-grandsons of Ilium…despite our Founding Fathers’ best efforts, which came to fruition on this day some 243 years ago.

[Read more at The American Conservative.]

The Catholic school that would make Socrates proud

Thank God for homeschoolers. As America’s public school system continues to collapse, and even parochial schools grow more expensive as they become less faithful, many Catholics find they have no recourse but to take the burden of their children’s education upon themselves. It’s well worth their effort, of course – but it can be just that: a burden.

What’s more, the Church teaches very clearly that homeschooling, while sometimes necessary, is far from ideal. “Parents are the first educators, not the only educators, of their children,” according to the Compendium to the Social Doctrine of the Church. “It belongs to them, therefore, to exercise with responsibility their educational activity in close and vigilant cooperation with civil and ecclesial agencies.”

But what if you could take the virtues of homeschooling – the deep religious character, classical curriculum and strong parental involvement – with a traditional school environment? That’s where Regina Pacis Academy comes in.

[Read more at the Catholic Herald.]

How do abortifacients affect mental health? We still don’t know

Women should be no more reluctant to terminate a pregnancy than they should be to have their wisdom teeth removed. That is the conclusion one must draw from the pro-choice movement’s claim that abortion is merely a “women’s health issue”. But what if abortion itself has a negative impact on women’s health?

There is certainly some evidence that points in this direction. In September 2011, the British Journal of Psychiatry published a study of 877,000 women which suggested that women who had terminated a pregnancy were 81 per cent more likely to experience mental health issues like depression and anxiety, as well as alcohol abuse. Shockingly, they were 155 per cent more likely to commit suicide than women who hadn’t procured an abortion.

Pro-choicers counter this by arguing that these averse effects are actually caused by social pressure. They claim that a woman is subjected to a culture that “perpetuates shame” for making this decision about their “healthcare”. However, an exhaustive new study suggests that the effects are not social, but intrinsic to abortion.

Over the past three years, a team of neuroscientists from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, a Catholic university in Ohio, and San Sebastián University in Chile have tested mifepristone and misoprostol, two common abortion-inducing drugs (abortifacients), on pregnant rats. They found that the rats “experienced significant adverse effects including: depression, loss of appetite, anxiety, and decreased self-care”.

[Read more at the Catholic Herald.]

The Che Guevara quote that incensed Miami’s Catholics

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio cribbed an infamous communist militant’s catchphrase during a speech to striking airline workers on Thursday. “¡Hasta la victoria siempre!” the 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful proclaimed, which means: “Until victory, always.” These are the words Che Guevara spoke when he left Cuba to foster revolution in South America.

As expected, conservative media outlets went ballistic. “Fidel Castro’s right-hand man oversaw the murder of tens of thousands,” the New York Post’s editorial board noted. And Guevara had a special animus against Catholics. “I am not Christ,” Guevara once said, but “all the contrary of a Christ … I fight for the things I believe in, with all the weapons at my disposal and try to leave the other man dead so that I don’t get nailed to a cross or any other place.” He meant it. When Guevara ran the Cuban penal system, Catholic priests were routinely condemned to the gulags for no other crime than being a priest.

[Read more at the Catholic Herald.]

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Vocations start young – and other lessons from a major study

If we’re to resolve the vocations crisis in the United States, it might be helpful to determine who’s seeking ordination already. A new study from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University provides a trove of information that could explain precisely that.

The most interesting statistic may be the age at which 2019’s American ordinands first considered a vocation to the priesthood. Just 36 per cent of men responded that they were 18 or older. Meanwhile, 40 per cent were between the ages of 5 and 13. That suggests it would be in the Church’s interest to pique boys’ own interest at a young age. Recruitment to the holy priesthood can’t begin too young.

Traditionally, this is one of the points of altar-serving. Altar boys are, as Evelyn Waugh put it, apprentice-priests. And, sure enough, CARA finds that an impressive 78 per cent of this year’s ordinands had been altar boys at some period in their lives. Compare this statistic to the more modern roles for “lay participation,” such as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. Just 44 per cent of ordinands reported acting as extraordinary ministers before they entered seminary.

[Read more at the Catholic Herald.]

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Trump is Our Best Hope for Peace in the Middle East

Bolton is the neocon whom every other neocon dismissed as a paleocon fantasy. (Of course, that all changed when he was appointed Trump’s foreign policy advisor. Boltonism, the most extreme variant of neoconservatism to date, is now becoming orthodoxy among the foreign policy establishment. But I digress.) It’s not only that he hates Iran more than ISIS—which is itself insane, given that the vast majority of American casualties from terrorism have been inflicted by Saudi-style Salafists, not aspiring ayatollahs.

Rather, it’s Bolton’s unabashed conviction that we can use the U.S. military to redesign the Middle East from top to bottom. His ambitions go far beyond regime change: he wants to reshape every individual Arab into a democrat, a secularist, a consumer capitalist, and a Zionist. The Boltonized Arab loves and trusts the American hegemony—enough to fight and die for whatever government we impose on whichever state’s borders happen to encompass him. Whether that state is Iraq or “Sunnistan” is a matter of pure indifference to the Boltinized Arab. He knows that America has his best interests at heart.

Iran, of course, has no place in the Boltonized Middle East. There are no known conditions that Iran could meet where the Boltinists would determine that they no longer pose an “existential threat” to the United States; it’s literally inconceivable. Bolton and his cronies have some sort of animus against Persians, or else a purely sectarian dislike of Shiites.

Those are the only quasi-rational justifications for the airstrikes the president authorized, and then, in a fit of common sense, canceled. Trump’s about-face is the only evidence to date that the president himself hasn’t succumbed to Bolton’s mindless prejudice against Iranians.

[Excerpted from The American Conservative. Read more!]

Friday, June 21, 2019

Not all conservative Catholics are unsettled by Francis’s pontificate

Since the 2016 presidential election, arguing has rapidly supplanted baseball as America’s national pastime. Middle aged-men now congregate in dingy bars to watch 24/7 cable news coverage of the Mueller report. Instead of cheering on the home team during the World Series, they angrily agree with one another that the CNN correspondent Jake Tapper is a charlatan and Fox News host Sean Hannity is the greatest reporter of our age (or vice versa).

Even in Holy Mother Church’s relative halcyon days – the Battle of Lepanto, for instance – our quarrelsome culture would have spilled over from the temporal into the spiritual realm. But Francis’s conduct as Pope has ensured that no abbot or abuela shall be allowed to remain neutral.

Wittingly or not, the Holy Father has reignited moral and liturgical feuds that most of us assumed were happily settled. He praises Martin Luther while accusing traditionalists of flirting with Pelagianism. He urges European governments to welcome Muslim immigrants while condemning President Trump’s border wall as being un-Christian. Some suspect he’s working to readmit the divorced and remarried to Holy Communion, and yet he has refused to allow pilgrims to kiss his ring.

By and large, opinions about Francis are as predictable as they are militant. Theological and political liberals take a positive view of the Holy Father; conservatives, not so much. Those on the Church’s right wing have strongly supported the 2016 dubia (a request for clarification of the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia), and many defended the 2017 correctio filialis (filial correction) – though most stopped short of endorsing 2019’s “heresy letter”. This is the group dismissed by the LA Times as “cranky”, by Reuters as “extremists” and by Fr James Martin as the “Catholic alt-right”.

And yet not all theological conservatives and liturgical traditionalists oppose Pope Francis. A vanguard of well-known writers, academics and priests have stood against the tide of partisan opinion to defend the Supreme Pontiff.

[Read more at the Catholic Herald.]

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Don’t Go to College

Do you want to help young people? Here’s how.

If you’re a mother or father, don’t hype that piece of paper. Don’t stuff your kid’s heads with bourgeois fantasies about corner offices and BMWs. Let him experience the unique sense of achievement that comes from working with his hands. Help him to recognize the simple dignity of the worker, like St. Joseph. Raise him to be a provider, a husband, a father—not an entitled fop with an expensive watch.

If you’re in a position to hire and fire, don’t require a candidate to have a Bachelor’s degree unless it’s absolutely essential. Provide on-the-job training for a fair wage. There’s actually very little risk to you as the employer. Until fairly recently, a woman didn’t even need a nursing degree to be an R.N.! There was a time when universities were centers of learning and leisure for young aristocrats, and all jobs began as apprenticeships. Even the king was once a prince; even the priest got his start as an altar boy.

Before I die, I expect the progressives will stop talking about the deficit of black people at elite colleges and start talking about the deficit of black people in the trades, manufacturing, and agriculture. And it won’t be because of racism.

[Excerpted from The American Conservative. Read more!]

Friday, June 14, 2019

What happens when a priest is too traditional for his parish?

It’s something of a trope these days. First, a young priest is assigned to a new parish, where he reintroduces elements of the pre-Vatican II liturgy. Younger, more conservative parishioners are thrilled; older, more progressive ones are outraged. Then, the bishop sides with the older folks against the priest and his more youthful admirers. The priest is removed, and what follows is an international uproar.

We saw the scenario play out recently when 38-year-old Fr Nicholas Rynne was removed as administrator of the Meander Valley parish in Tasmania by Archbishop Julian Porteous. He had rankled some of the laity by wearing a cassock, asking his congregation to address him as “Father,” and celebrating a weekly Latin Mass in addition to the regular Ordinary Form Masses. The story went viral on social media after a letter from one influential parishioner was leaked. “You know why you are spat on for wearing clerical dress and I am with those who do so as I think it is ridiculous to wear a cassock and even a collar in this day and age,” wrote one, before comparing Fr Rynne and his supporters to the Taliban.

It’s eerily reminiscent of a story that broke in February in the United States. You might recall the saga of Fr Eddie Dwyer.

[Read more at the Catholic Herald.]

Thursday, May 23, 2019

The small college attracting some of the Church’s best brains

These are the first days of spring in New England, when you begin to understand why Robert Frost said “nature’s first green is gold”. Three pigs turn on rotisseries made of brick and mortar. The men, decked in flannel shirts and waistcoats, sing folk-songs about Thérèse of Lisieux. Young women in light dresses string garlands in their hair and dance on pedals from the cherry-trees. We eat crackling with thanks and praise to the Risen Lord (not to mention the students who kept a 30-hour vigil at the spit) and wash it down with freshly-bottled ale courtesy of the brewers’ guild. A few pipes are lit; a few romances are enkindled. It’s the Feast of the Resurrection at Thomas More College, so we’re feasting – just as our fathers in the Faith did a millennium ago.

This is what sets the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts (TMC) apart. Here, one gets a real sense that American Catholics stand in an unbroken succession from Jerusalem through Athens, Rome, London, and Philadelphia – right down to Merrimack, New Hampshire. That means the curriculum arises organically from TMC’s place: New England. Students read Frost and Nathaniel Hawthorne while hiking the White Mountains and sailing the coast of Maine.

For the last four decades, TMC has also kept a satellite campus in Rome, where every student spends one semester of their sophomore year at the heart of the Universal Church. They attend morning Mass in St Peter’s and read Dante beneath the walls of the Vatican. Then there’s the Oxford Studies Program, where a lucky few spend two weeks travelling through the mother country while studying England’s greatest Catholics: Cardinal Newman, GK Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, Gerard Manley Hopkins and JRR Tolkien among them.

[Read more at the Catholic Herald]

Friday, May 17, 2019

‘Luddite’ Shouldn’t Be a Dirty Word

I waited greedily by the mailbox for my copy of A Scribbler in Soho, the new anthology-cum-“celebration” of the great Auberon Waugh. Though regarded by the Brits as one of the great journalists of the 20th century, he’s somehow unknown in this country. That’s a shame. His columns for Private Eye contain wisdom that America badly needs. For instance, in the margins, I’ve jotted a heartfelt Hear, hear! next to Waugh the Younger’s quip: “It is the kindest thing one can possibly say of a politician that he changed nothing.”

One legislator recently forced me to question this Tory truism, however, and I’m ashamed to admit that it’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. No doubt most of her Green New Deal is absurd. Yet if she were to succeed in redirecting travelers from airports to railways, we’d have no choice but to regard her as the greatest conservative statesman since Prince Metternich.

All rational people dread flying. The psychiatrist who first designated the aversion to traveling in a giant cigar tube one mile in the air as a “phobia” ought to have been plopped on the couch himself. Trains are themselves somewhat precarious. “The Devil is a railroad car,” as Josh Ritter sang. Still, they’re preferable to cars, which Russell Kirk called “mechanical Jacobins.” He (correctly) believed that they would destroy local communities and economies. The official who bans automobiles should be hailed as our long-awaited philosopher king.

[Read more at The American Conservative.]

Friday, May 3, 2019

On the Passing of Les Murray, Our Greatest Poet

I like to say that I worked with Les Murray at Australia’s Quadrant magazine. He was literary editor; I was an editorial assistant to John O’Sullivan. In fact, I never interacted with him once. You see, Murray rarely left his hometown of Bunyah, a bush borough with a population of about 150. He didn’t own a computer—he typed all his proofs on a typewriter—and we were only allowed to call him on the phone in emergencies.

So writers would mail their short stories and poems to the office in Sydney, and we’d ship them to Bunyah in a big parcel once a month. Those he chose for publication were returned to the office. The rest he sent off in their their self-addressed, stamped envelopes. The rejected manuscripts would return to their writers with the margins covered in suggestions and encouragements from the man The Atlantic called “the greatest poet alive.” Quite the consolation prize.

To me, that was all part of the irresistible charm of Les Murray. The morons at the Nobel Committee excepted, nobody would disagree with The Atlantic’s descriptor—certainly not since the death of Geoffrey Hill in 2016. And yet Murray wasn’t a windswept, romantic figure. He wasn’t a tweedy professorial type or a cosmopolitan in a dark turtleneck. He was a proud bumpkin and an avowed Luddite with bad teeth and a penchant for ugly sweaters. He suffered from depression, the sexiest of mental illnesses; he was also probably autistic, which is more prosaic. Never has such an extraordinary soul carried such an ordinary corpse, as Marcus might have said.

[Read more at The American Conservative]

Friday, April 12, 2019

Can Catholics Still Vote for Democrats?

In 2013, Thomas Tobin, the Catholic bishop of Providence, announced that he’d registered as a Republican. It caused a minor scandal, not because a bishop declared partisan loyalties, but because his loyalties weren’t to the Democratic Party, home of people such as New York's Gov. Al Smith and President John F. Kennedy.

In politics, America’s Catholic prelates are Democrats almost to a man. They’ve denounced President
Trump’s border wall with far more vigor than they ever demonstrated when it would have mattered during the same-sex marriage debate. They spent the entire lead-up to Obamacare trying to sweeten and woo Barack Obama, leaving nuns to fight his birth control mandate by themselves.

Bishops are citizens and have the right to their views, just as you and I do. None of our shepherds will deny, however, that it becomes increasingly difficult to vote for the party of their forefathers.

At one time, Democrats stood on the docks of Ellis Island, singing, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free/ And I’ll get them registered to vote for Tammany." Today, Cardinal Timothy Dolan admits to feeling “abandoned.” In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal last March, the archbishop of New York recalls fond memories of his grandmother warning him, “We Catholics don’t trust those Republicans.” Alas, this is no longer the case. It’s a “cause of sadness to many Catholics,” Dolan wrote, his eminence, no doubt, included.

Tobin and Dolan pose a valid question, though: Is there a future for Catholics in the Democratic Party?

[Read more at The Washington Examiner]

Roger Scruton for Architecture Czar!

Dismal news over the wire from Blighty: Sir Roger Scruton, the greatest living conservative philosopher, has been dismissed as chair of the British government’s Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission after making a few anodyne remarks to the New Statesman about the Communist Party of China. “They’re creating robots out of their own people,” quoth Sir Roger, “each Chinese person is a kind of replica of the next one and that is a very frightening thing.”

Predictably, the Wets and Labourites are offended on behalf of totalitarians over this nonexistent racial slight. Meanwhile, normal people are offended by the CPC’s latest experiment in social engineering, the Social Credit system, which is indeed meant to turn the populace into well-managed and safely predictable automata. To call the Communists’ machinations “frightening” is positively charitable.

Sir Roger also noted that “anybody who doesn’t think that there’s a Soros empire in Hungary has not observed the facts.” This was, apparently, anti-Semitic. Yet you’ll remember that the Financial Times named Mr. Soros its Person of the Year for 2018, calling him “a standard bearer for liberal democracy, an idea under siege from populists.” To the best of my knowledge, nobody at the FT was sacked for anti-Semitism.

There’s no question that Mr. Soros is throwing his fortune around trying to undermine Viktor Orbán and his Fidesz party, just as there’s no doubt he’s throwing his fortune around trying to undermine President Trump and the Republican Party. He certainly isn’t a progressive hero for making billions off his hedge funds. Sir Roger simply holds the improper view of Mr. Soros’s activities, and now faces the wrath of Mr. Soros’s other clients and beneficiaries.

[Read more at The American Conservative]

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The Radicalism of Russell Kirk

At last, over the summer, I made my pilgrimage to Piety Hill. Russell Kirk’s red brick mansion lords over the rust-bitten village of Mecosta, Michigan. The original wooden lodging was built in 1878 by his great-grandfather Amos Johnson. After it burned to the ground on Ash Wednesday 1975, he built this curious Italianate thing.

Two flintlock pistols hang over the mantle, flanking a helmet that looks as though it belonged to Genghis Khan. The dining room was built entirely from the scraps of a local parish church; pews were used for the roof, and statues of angels stand in niches behind Kirk’s old seat at the head of the table. He became Catholic in 1963, but the table in the drawing room was used by his spiritualist grandparents during their seances.

My guest house used to be haunted by his great-uncle Raymond (so Kirk’s 11-year-old grandson tells me) until a visiting priest convinced Ray he’d overstayed his welcome. The Sage of Mecosta’s 10,000-volume library, where he wrote the lion’s share of his essays and books, stands in a little ivy-strewn house adjacent to the main campus.

It is, as I said, a kind of holy place for me. I came to Kirk via T.S. Eliot, whose poetry I read obsessively as a freshman in high school. His longtime pen pal Kirk was my first introduction to politics. Ten years later and I remain a fairly unreconstructed Kirkian.

But what, exactly, is a “Kirkian”?

Hopefully one isn’t judging by the tributes that were written for Kirk’s centennial. Magazines from The Atlantic to Newsmax published eulogies for the Sage of Mecosta. Most of them cast him as a bit player in the founding of National Review—an eccentric, tweedy academic who somehow found himself near the vanguard of the Goldwater movement.

Even during Kirk’s lifetime, conservative officialdom began passing him off as a court philosopher in Ronald Reagan’s White House, existing only to cover the Gipper’s agenda with a patina of intellectual sophistication. Kirk liked Reagan well enough (as he ought to have), but he was not a Reaganite. This is clear to everyone who bothers to read his books. The set of principles and policy agendas that Kirk called “conservatism” bears virtually no resemblance to the ideology that exists under those auspices today.

[Read more at The American Conservative]

Monday, April 1, 2019

Is Archbishop Wilton Gregory the right man for Washington?

It’s (almost) official: Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta will be appointed the next Archbishop of Washington, according to Ed Condon of the Catholic News Agency.

The office has technically been vacant since the last archbishop, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, resigned in October. Wuerl had been damaged by claims that he covered up sex abuse in his previous diocese of Pittsburgh. He had also maintained – in the face of claims to the contrary – that he knew nothing about the predatory sexual activities of his notorious predecessor, Theodore McCarrick.

Washington is perhaps the most sought-after diocese for ambitious American bishops – but a particular kind of bishop. While the Archbishop of New York finds himself rubbing shoulders with media and cultural luminaries, Washington’s archbishop has priceless access to lawmakers and political lobbyists. McCarrick’s talents as a fundraiser and Wuerl’s masterful diplomacy served them well in the post.

But because Washington is at the very heart of the current sex-abuse crisis, the Vatican couldn’t afford simply to hand the see to the next bureaucrat in line.

[Read more at the Catholic Herald]

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Fatima vs. the New Sexual Regime

My first undergraduate year I spent a semester living in Thurston Hall: the infamous freshman residence at the George Washington University. Variously nicknamed “Thirsty Thurston” or (apologies) “Thrusting Thurston,” It’s consistently ranked among the most sexually active dorms in the country. I didn’t partake myself, for various reasons – not the least that few women succumb to the charms of bow-tied English majors.

Back then, I had no grave moral objections to that sort of thing. I was a fairly traditional Christian (albeit an Episcopalian), so I couldn’t actually approve. But I was also a romantic – or, more properly, a romanticist. I idolized men of deep, brooding passion: Yeats, Beethoven, Rossetti. The hundreds of fragile, passionate loves that burned hot for a week or day or hour were only more beautiful because they were fleeting.

Yeats’s muse, Maude Gonne, once told the poet that she couldn’t return his love without destroying his genius. No doubt she was right. The romanticist doesn’t have the stamina for true romance. He’s the new, bright flame that can’t catch on the oak-log, and so demands more and more kindling.

Auden, the great anti-romantic, caught a glimpse of this:

The greater the love, the more false to its object, 
Not to be born is the best for man;
After the kiss comes the impulse to throttle,
Break the embraces, dance while you can.

The poem is called “Death’s Echo,” and so often this is what these episodes seem to be: a flight from despair into base pleasure and hollow sentiment.

I’m a Catholic now, and a romantic instead of a romanticist. I take seriously the warning of Our Lady of Fatima that “More souls go to Hell because of the sins of the flesh than for any other reason.” We assume she’s warning against sexual incontinence, and she certainly is. We often take sex too lightly. But there’s another, more recent temptation, which may be even more harmful: taking sex too seriously.

[Read more at The Catholic Thing]

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Smoking Like a Man

My recent article on William F. Buckley generated more controversy than I anticipated—including one disapproving comment from the former publisher of National Review. Well, very good! Journalism isn’t a lucrative profession, and I don’t think I’m compromising any trade secrets by saying so. A writer must be satisfied in knowing that his work is read and weighed by his readers. This one, at least, seems to have been.

A smaller controversy focused on my calling Buckley’s own 2007 column on smoking “manly.” One commenter wrote that “it just doesn’t really seem masculine or feminine in any identifiable way. Is it just that you agree with it?” Quite the opposite, in fact. It has nothing to do with my agreeing or not, but rather Buckley’s disagreeing with himself.

The opposite of “manly” isn’t “womanly,” we know, because Man and Woman are complimentary, not antithetical. A better antonym would be “neuter”: de-sexed, genderless, disembodied. This is what Russell Kirk meant when he called John Stuart Mill a “defecated intellect”: he’d purged himself of his humanity in order to become a creature of pure, objective reason. One who hates the body and delights in the mind we Christians call Gnostic.

This is a charge commonly brought against libertarians by conservatives and progressives alike. Their ideology seems cold and unfeeling: indeed, inhuman. But the solution is not the progressive’s humanism, which reduces the humane (that is, human-ness) to yet more neutered sentiments that don’t correspond to our nature. The humanist may be kind, but Man is magnanimous and Woman is sweet. The humanist is empathetic; Man is protective and Woman nurturing.

The libertarian is a defecated universalist; the progressive is a sensual universalist. We conservatives, however, are Christian particularists. We have no desire for a mind that transcends the body; neither do we seek for a body that transcends the mind. I’m a 25-year-old Catholic Bostonian of WASP and Irish extraction; it’s not for me to tell a 60-year-old medicine woman on the Great Steppe how to run her yurt.

[Read more at The American Conservative]

Friday, March 15, 2019

Catholic schools, same-sex couples and an admissions furore

When the Obama administration tried to mandate that employers provide contraceptives as part of their health benefits package, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, declared that this would leave Catholics with only two choices: either to drop health coverage, or to violate their consciences. And the latter was unthinkable: “We cannot – we will not – comply with this unjust law.” His message was clear: an institution that doesn’t conform to Catholic doctrine isn’t Catholic.

Obamacare was eventuallly modified, but similar challenges to Catholic institutions continue. On March 8, St Ann Catholic School sparked outrage after refusing to admit the child of a same-sex couple. Fr Craig Maxim, the pastor of St Ann Parish, said he was only complying with the policies of the Archdiocese of Kansas City.

“Our schools exist to pass on the Catholic faith. Incorporated into our academic instruction and spiritual formation, at every grade level, are the teachings of the Catholic Church,” the archdiocese explained in a statement. “It is important for children to experience consistency between what they are taught in school and what they see lived at home. Therefore, we ask that parents understand and be willing to support those teachings in their homes.”

[Read more at the Catholic Herald]

Thursday, March 14, 2019

The Vatican reaches out to Silicon Valley

The Holy Father is anything but a techie. He admits to not knowing how to use a computer and encourages parents to forbid smartphones at the dinner table. Nevertheless, Pope Francis has granted audiences to more big tech magnates than most leaders of major world powers.

In January 2016, Francis met Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt. Their chat only lasted 15 minutes and the content of their conversation wasn’t disclosed by either party. However, a source within the Vatican told the Guardian that they were joined by Jared Cohen, a former US State Department official who now leads Google Ideas (renamed Jigsaw that year). This “think/do tank”, as Cohen calls it, uses Google’s massive digital infrastructure to protect activists from oppressive governments.

Later that month, the Pope hosted Apple CEO Tim Cook. Francis said that modern communications are “a gift from God” in his message released the same day. The Holy Father added that they “can facilitate relationships and promote the good of society, but they can also lead to further polarisation and division between individuals and groups”.

[Read more at the Catholic Herald.]

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Catholic voters are likely to face an unappetising choice in 2020

Last March, Cardinal Timothy Dolan wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal headlined “The Democrats Abandon Catholics”. The Archbishop of New York wrote: “It saddens me, and weakens the democracy millions of Americans cherish, when the party that once embraced Catholics now slams the door on us.”

Dolan was speaking particularly about abortion. Indeed, it’s surprising that the Democrats – the party of John F Kennedy – have become almost uniformly pro-choice. When the pro-life movement began in the United States, it was largely dismissed as a fringe position composed almost solely of Romanists. Then, in the decades following Roe v Wade, evangelicals in the Republican Party took up the pro-life banner and won about half of those papist votes for the GOP.

Many Catholics find the Democrats’ economic and immigration policies more agreeable to the Christian faith. Still, the party’s support for abortion makes it impossible for them to vote for any candidate with a “D” next to their name.

[Read more at the Catholic Herald]

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Why we should take St Joseph as our role model this Lent

Catholics know that 19 March is the Feast of St Joseph. Fewer, perhaps, are aware that the entire month of March is dedicated to the Most Chaste Heart.

That seems a bit odd, doesn’t it? March is dominated by the Lenten fast, which is itself a preparation for Eastertide. According to tradition, Our Lord’s foster-father didn’t live to see his public ministry. In fact, it was necessary that St Joseph pass from this life before Christ could reveal Himself. Only then would Jesus become head of the royal House of David – both God and King by birthright.

But what has any of this to do with Lent? The answer is this: St Joseph was the first Christian mystic. He is the exemplar of the hidden life, the interior life: that which is most pleasing to God, and which we’re called to imitate during the fast.

[Read more at the Catholic Herald]

Taking Off the ‘What Would William F. Buckley Do?’ Wristband

I landed my first job in journalism when I was 20 years old. It was my second year as an undergraduate at the University of Sydney. I’d written an article for Quadrantabout the unceremonious and unconscionable firing of my friend, mentor, and thesis supervisor Barry Spurr. (Incidentally, I learned from a recent Prufrock newsletter that Barry has been appointed Quadrant’s new literary editor.)

About a week after the article was published, the editor asked me to stop by Quadrant’s offices and offered me a job. He was taking a leave of absence and was on the lookout for an ambitious young wordslinger to help the new guy find his bearings.

As it happens, the new guy was John O’Sullivan, who succeeded William F. Buckley at National Review in 1988. He’s the finest writer and editor I’ve ever met, and as kind and cultured a man as ever lived. I could write a long essay lavishing praise on him, and I will someday.

John was also (to my mind) a kind of second-class relic. I’d been a devotee of WFB since middle school, and this new career in journalism gave me reason to indulge my obsession during business hours. Imagine my thrill when, at an after-work drinkie-do, John said I reminded him of a young Bill Buckley. Maybe it was the fourth gimlet doing its work on my tired brain, but I had to choke back tears.

[Read more at The American Conservative]

The rise of the Purple Dog Republican

Here’s a riddle for you, and if you solve it, the Democrats will nominate you for president: how does one candidate carry both Cambridge, Mass. and Luzerne County, Penn.?

Sure, the former’s a cake-walk. Hillary Clinton could stand in the middle of Harvard Square and shoot somebody, and she wouldn’t lose any voters from the People’s Republic of Taxachusetts. But the latter, which Obama won in 2012, went to Trump in a whopping 25-point swing. This was the big story in 2016: the defection of blue-collar voters to the Republican party.

Now, as the 2020 election draws nigh, Democratic office-holders in ‘Purple America’ are feeling the heat.

[Read more at The Spectator USA]

Monday, March 4, 2019

The trouble with lists of ‘credibly accused’ priests

Frédéric Martel’s new book, Inside the Closet of the Vatican, was supposed to expose a “velvet mafia” calling the shots in the Eternal City. Martel, an atheist and gay rights activist, was especially interested in exposing the “hypocrisy” of “rigid” conservatives: by day, they decry homosexuality in the press; by night, they chase rent boys through St Peter’s Square.

Yet Martel’s report was, according to many reviewers, badly undermined by its propensity for innuendo. For instance, the author seems to have a special dislike for Cardinal Raymond Burke, one of the most powerful conservatives in the College of Cardinals. Martel describes Burke as sitting on “an asparagus-green throne twice as large as he is, surrounded by silvery drapery”, etc. He quotes a drag queen as saying that Burke’s love for grand, traditional accoutrement betrays a “fluid and queer” gender identity.

Whether the drag queen has any training in psychology isn’t revealed, but (to my own untrained mind) that doesn’t sound like the sort of diagnosis that would hold up to professional scrutiny. Nonetheless, Burke’s opponents relish Martel’s dig, however spurious.

[Read more at the Catholic Herald]

Friday, March 1, 2019

A case that suggests we are on the verge of a new liturgy war

Fr Edwin Dwyer looks like he stepped out of a time machine. With his shaved head, thick red beard and piercing blue eyes, he may very well have celebrated Mass on one of the cold stone altars of medieval England. Like so many young priests, he clearly has no interest in merely blending in among his flock in Bay City, Michigan.

There’s a paternal authority in his bearing that surpasses his 36 years. He’s a priest of Christ’s Holy Church, and he certainly looks the part. Yet Fr Dwyer, who used to serve as parochial administrator for Our Lady of Peace parish in Bay City, was removed on January 30 by Bishop Walter Hurley, the apostolic administrator of Saginaw. The reason? “He brought in a style of worship that many people found very difficult,” according to Bishop Hurley.

[Read more at the Catholic Herald]

Thursday, February 21, 2019

The folly of William Floyd Weld

If William Floyd Weld wins his primary challenge against President Trump, it will be the greatest political miracle since Jesus Christ intervened to advise Emperor Constantine before the Battle of Milvian Bridge.

Weld has no fan base, no name recognition, no political machine. His brand of let-them-eat-cake libertarianism has zero traction in either major party. His complaint to CNN that ‘the President does not exhibit curiosity about history’ probably won’t resonate with the party’s base, given how quickly they took to demanding Trump imprison his opponent once he was elected. 89 percent of Republicans approve of the President’s job performance, and the remaining 11 percent might be weary of voting for another Massachusetts governor.

[Read more at The Spectator USA]

Saturday, February 16, 2019

The comfortable demise of Theodore McCarrick

Mr Theodore McCarrick will spend his last days within the limestone walls of St Fidelis Friary in Victoria, Kansas. He’ll be able to see the stunning St Fidelis Church, ‘the Basilica of the Plains’, from his window. His quarters in the monastery will be simple, clean, and pleasant. He’ll have all the time in the world to pray, read, write, think, or just putter, as old men like to do. His meals, laundry, heating, and other necessities will be taken care of for him. There will always be a tender Franciscan nearby if he needs to talk, or cry, or play checkers. He’ll die surrounded by holy men praying for the repose of his soul.

The ‘life of prayer and penance’ might not be everyone’s cup of tea; but, before he was laicized this week, Mr McCarrick was a member of the clergy of the Catholic Church. Six decades ago he was ordained in the Archdiocese of New York and went on to become Archbishop of Washington. He was a member of the College of Cardinals, the most honored and trusted men in the Church, from 2001 until July of last year. If his clerical career was anything other than a complete sham – if there’s any love or fear of God in his heart – the life of prayer and penance isn’t a punishment: it’s a tremendous grace. It’s a chance to make peace with his Creator before he dies, away from the anxieties and temptations of the world.

[Read more at The Spectator USA]

Friday, February 15, 2019

The pathetic drama of pushing in the press pen

Media types are getting all sniffy because some goober dealt a BBC cameraman one ‘very hard shove’ at Donald Trump’s El Paso rally on Monday. The BBC released a statement saying the cameraman, Ron Skeans, is ‘fine’ – which most people no doubt assumed he was, because Skeans is a grown man.

The ‘incredibly violent attack’ (as Britain’s state broadcaster is choosing to bill it) took place shortly after Trump pointed to the press pen and said: ‘Wow, look at all the press, can you believe that?’ and ‘They’ve gone down a long way since they started hitting us a little bit, right?’ Inflammatory stuff! The other reporters present were so intimidated, it was all they could do to follow the assailant out of the arena as he was dragged away by burly guards.

[Read more at The Spectator USA]

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Why leading a virtuous life is the key to happiness

Every theology enthusiast – I would never use the term dork – has, at some point, identified himself with one of two factions: the Thomistic Aristotelians or the Augustinian Platonists. Granted, the whole debate is kind of dumb. Reading Aquinas’s commentary on Boethius, one realizes pretty quickly that the Angelic Doctor himself is as much an Augustinian as the more “Platonic” theologians like Bonaventure. Still, there are worse things to argue about over scotch and pipes. Most of my friends back home are alumni of Thomas Aquinas College, so I’m usually the lone Augustinian. But that’s fine. If Pope Benedict is for us, who can be against us?

Of course, Tertullian wouldn’t be amused. The man widely credited as the founder of Western theology had no use for pre-Christian thinkers. “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” he famously sneered. Yet this contempt for classical philosophy has gained little traction except among some radical Calvinists. Most Christians (and all Catholics) have followed Augustine, who taught that “truth belongs to his Lord, wherever it is found, gathering and acknowledging it even in pagan literature.”

[Read more at the Catholic Herald.]

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Tulsi Gabbard is the perfect Democratic nominee… for 2024

Let’s make it clear right off the bat that Tulsi Gabbard will not be the Democratic nominee in 2020. The party’s base is so consumed with hatred for the president that only one criterion matters: which candidate can cast embody the spirit of The Anti-Trump. Do you hate the Orange Menace for his divisiveness, his crudity, his total lack of chill? Then lose yourself in Obama nostalgia with Cory Booker, Beto O’Rourke, and Joe Biden. Or are you looking for an all-out brawl, fascists v. reds, Spanish Civil War-style? Well, Elizabeth Warren is sharpening her tomahawk, and Bernie Sanders has his game face on.

Gabbard is not the antithesis of Trump, in either temperament nor ideology. Quite the opposite: more than any of her colleagues, she resembles Trump circa 2016. And that’s what makes her the perfect Democratic candidate – for 2024. Allow me to explain.

[Read more at The Spectator USA]

Excommunication breakdown: Why Catholics can’t agree about Cuomo

Without a doubt, the most evocative moment in Catholic cinema is the excommunication scene from Becket. Richard Burton, playing Thomas Becket, pronounces the delinquent Bishop of London anathema, culminating in these horrible words: “We declare him excommunicate and anathema. We cast him into the outer darkness.” Admittedly, the film omits the full formula of excommunication, which holds out hope for the subject’s repentance. But it remains an unforgettable reminder of the real authority which Holy Mother Church has over her children.

Christ charged His Apostles: “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven”. Their successor, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, is now facing calls to “loose” Empire State governor Mario Cuomo. On January 22 (the 46th anniversary of Roe v Wade) Cuomo signed the Reproductive Health Act, which removed virtually all restrictions to abortion in that state. And not only did he offer his consent to the bill: he ordered the World Trade Center be lit up pink in celebration. Unsurprisingly, the hashtag #ExcommunicateCuomo erupted on Catholic Twitter.

[Read more at the Catholic Herald]