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.]