Something worth keeping an eye on.
Something worth keeping an eye on.
The hammer has fallen on a Catholic College that is planning on giving Senator Clinton a honorary degree. They are no longer listed as an official Catholic institution. Of course, the ever-moving to the center Presidential hopeful, Senator Clinton realizing that her gig was causing trouble could have politely withdrawn by citing her lifelong respect for Catholic teachings. But no, she's coming and Marymount Manhattan College is no longer Catholic as a result. Such a small price to pay for such an amazing commencement speaker.
"Colleges and Universities do not exist to promote free speech. They exist to pursue and teach the truth." - Roger Kimball, Arma Virumque January 2005
Lately two articles have been fusing in my mind. One is "Surgical Sex" by Paul Mchugh in November 2004 First Things (available on left side bar). The other is "A Class Apart" in the Financial Times, April 15 2005 (you can get a free trial subscription to retrieve it.)
Paul McHugh is the University Distinguished Professor Of Psychiatry at John Hopkins University as well as the man who decided John Hopkins would no longer prescribe sex change operations for adults. His article is an explanation as to how he and his colleagues used available data to make this decision. After John Hopkins stopped prescribing sex changes and chose to work with the patient instead, other hospitals soon followed suit. It is still possible to get a sex change here in America but it involves getting a psychiatrist to go along with your wishes. Or one can go to Thailand and get one without any questions being asked. McHugh says the reaction to John Hopkins' decision by transgendered activists has been to say that "their members are entitled to whatever surgery they want." They also believe that their understanding of who they are sexually represents a true conception of their sexual identity. His article ends on a very serious note with, "As for the adults who came to us claiming to have discovered their "true" sexual identity and to have heard about sex-change operations, we psychiatrists have been distracted from studying the causes and natures of their mental misdirections by preparing them for a life in the other sex. We have wasted scientific and technical resources and damaged our professional credibility by collaborating with madness rather than trying to study, cure and ultimately prevent it."
McHugh's article came as a big suprise because until reading it I believed we as a nation were moving more and more to a transgendered world. It was only last year I recieved a phonecall from an old Episcopalian friend, who is also a practicing therapist, telling me about her current personal struggle. She was teaching her church's middle school youth group with gay man in his early 30's who had recently realized he was a woman trapped in a man's body. He circulated throughout the parish literature on his condition - she said, it had happened when he was in the womb. The entire church, she told me, supported his decision to become a woman. As he underwent treatment and began to grow breasts, the trangendered man thought (to his credit) it was not good for him to be around emotionally developing kids. He and my friend decided it was best for him to step down as youth group leader. It was heartbreaking for all of them and alot of tears were involved. This phonecall only helped to further my understanding that the transgendered life becoming more and more a everyday reality. Which is why if I hadn't read "Surgical Sex" the article "A Class Apart" would have just been chalked up as another *thing* happening at elite College campuses.
"A Class Apart" is about Smith College and her trangendered students. According to the article, there are about two dozen trangendered on campus all in various stages of transgendering. The "trans"as they call themselves applied to Smith as women but after being there decided to become men. Smith has been incredibly accepting of this and asks very few questions of the transgendered students. This is exceptional since having men or quasi-men in their graduating classes goes against Smith's stated mission. Smith is bound by the will of their founder to always be a college for women. Since reading "A Class Apart" I have since found out that more and more Colleges and Universities are making room or "safe" enviroments for their transgendered students.
This all brings me back to Roger Kimball saying that Universities and Colleges exist to pursue and teach the truth. How can it be that a elite medical hospital like John Hopkins has decided upon real evidence to stop prescribing sex change operations, yet elite Colleges and Universities are going forward with accomodating their trangendered students? Could it be that the Colleges and Universities are not aware this data? That would mean they are also not aware that the better hospitals no longer will perform such operations requiring their students to seek out lesser quality hospitals or go to Thailand to get what they want. That is a frightening proposal. Or is it exactly like Roger Kimball and others have been saying for years, that Colleges and Universities are not necessarily interested in pursuing the truth? And if this is true, haven't Colleges and Universities become objectively disordered?
Well, another Catholic anti-Catholic has weighed in on Benedict XVI, and the media being what the media is, his comments are being taken seriously. At least in the media.
There's no need of a rejoinder because the rejoinder has already been written. By guys like Thomas Aquinas, Thomas More, Augustine, Anselm...the list goes on.
But maybe a half-remembered bit of Chesterton is in order here. He once said something like--I'm not going to hazard quotes--the Church is the only institution that can save a man from the degrading servitude of being a child of his times.
What else can we expect from a man who once said politics was a higher calling than the Church?
For the august occassion of reading my first chapter book, my mom took me to the bookstore to buy one. The owner of the store had just recieved a new book and highly recommended it. It was "Willy Wonka and His Chocolate Factory". I liked the title so we took it home. With what turned out to be a pattern for the rest of my life, I read and reread the book a zillion times.
Not only was Willy Wonka an enjoyable book, it was my first experience of being ahead of the curve with a trend. About 6 months after owning it, my 4th grade teacher brought it to school and said we should think about buying it for ourselves. I was the only one who owned it and had read it more than once. Then Hollywood announced they were making a movie out of it. The movie turned out to be such a big hit, our movie theater bought its own copy and it played weekly for 99 cents. If all of that was not enough bliss, a line of Willy Wonka candy was soon rolled out. Although the Willy Wonka Everlasting Globstoppers and Oompa-Loompas were not exactly like the ones in the book, they were still good enough to eat.
Willy Wonka is a morality tale involving a quirky chocolatier and a group of children. Four of the children are flawed and one is good. Charlie is the very poor but very good one. Veruca Salt is the very bad rich one. While what happens to Veruca in the movie is not exactly true to the book, the scriptwriters and casting agents captured Veruca's character perfectly. She is odious. In this excellent piece, Abigail Palmer demonstrates us how even though we were a generation raised on Willy Wonka, we managed to totally miss the point of the tale. Instead of learning to be like the honest and good Charlie, we grew up to be a nation of selfish Veruca Salts.
Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you:
For everyone that asketh recieveth; and he the seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? (Mt 7:7-9)
Many moons ago I happened to be in a minivan seated next to the retired Episcopal Bishop of Colorado, the Right Reverend William Frey. Several years earlier, Bishop Frey had lost the election for Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church to Bishop Edmund Browning. After winning the election Presiding Bishop Browning decided during his time at the top the full integration of the active homosexual life into the Episcopal Church would happen. As this did not happen, Browning's successor, Presiding Bishop Griswold, is finishing the job for him. Had Bishop Frey won the Presiding Bishop election, it is possible that the Episcopal Church would not be on its current schismatic path today.
Realizing I was sitting next to a somewhat historical figure and he couldn't escape, I asked Bishop Frey all the questions I could think of, poor man. Among them was, what he thought was the gravest aspect about the acceptance of the active homosexual lifestyle into the Church. He told me, "I am concerned that homosexuals have come to us, the Episcopal Church, asking for bread. We have given the rocks instead. Someday they will come back to us and say, Why did you give us rocks when what we wanted and what we needed was bread?" He then said, "They will ask us this someday and I don't know how we will answer them. Why weren't they good enough for bread?"
After witnessing the apoplectic reactions of Andrew Sullivan, Father Andrew Greeley, Frances Kissling and others to the election of Pope Benedict, I came more fully understand the wisdom in Bishop Frey's words. These folks have been dining on rocks for far too long. They have not only been deluding themselves to the truth contained in Catholic teaching but actively attempting to change it by spreading misinformation to impressionable people. They believed if they converted enough Catholics to their ways of thinking the Vatican, like the Episcopal Church, would eventually bow to the their desires. The reason Pope Benedict is causing them indigestion is because he won't play along with their game. They have been treating the Catholic Church like it is a democracy. The Episcopal Church is the democracy. The Catholic Church is a theocracy.
One of the duties of the Catholic Church's (and all Churches) is to defend the truth so that the words Christ cited above can be fulfilled through the ages. Christ established Apostolic Succession with Peter and the rest of the Apostles to help the Church fulfill its duties and mission for all time. Pope Benedict XVI during his papacy will merely fulfill Christ's desires for us, not his, not the two Andrew's, Frances' or others.
I must admit I took pleasure when the anti-Pope Benedict XVI hissy fits errupted. It was only natural after how much grief these folks have caused me with their distortions of Catholic teachings. However after reading Andrew Sullivan's recent articles and listening to the interviews he's given, he's just so misguided that it's wrong of me to get mad or take pleasure in it. He's been eating too many rocks and it clearly shows. Let us hope that he and the others will soon decide they want to eat bread.
I stepped into the lobby of 599 Broadway. One of those semi-shaven men who stand in the elevator lobby of every building in New York with the address of the building stitched over their breast pocket gave me the once-over. I was about to ask if I was in the right place but before I could get a word out, he said, "They're up there already".
"They are?" I said, producing the invitation from my own breast pocket.
"Yeah" he said, without looking at the paper I was holding. "I could tell you was with them."
True, I was wearing a blue blazer, a light green shirt, what Bertie Wooster would call "spring trouserings" and a pefectly assembled bow tie festooned with greenish triceratopses (a Christmas gift from Little Bertie and Roger Kimball's future daughter-in-law); but I was still a little taken aback by the man's penetration.
"Uh, how many of 'them' are there?"
"Four or five."
"I see. Well, I had better go up." And I went.
When I reached the door of the Grassi Studio I didn't know what to expect. So when I saw a book-lined passage with a tall, strange woman in black standing at the end of it with her back to me I moved on, thinking that perhaps I'd chosen the wrong door. But when all the other doors turned out to be the wrong door too, I returned to the book-lined interior and stuck my head in. By this time the woman had turned around and I recongized Dawn Steeves, former Fitz bartender and person-of-all-work for The New Criterion.
After greetings were exchanged and the guest book signed, Dawn steered me through more book-lined passages to the studio proper. Here was where Mr. Marco Grassi and his son work at restoring what Dawn referred to casually as "Medieval Art", reminding me as she did so to be careful not to dump into any of it.
And so it proved. No, I didn't bump into any Medieval Art, but there was Medieval Art and more to be seen. Beyond a lavish spread of food I could see a Mary Magdalen that had once been a panel of a larger work; I saw a Virgin and Child flanked by saints. When I asked Mr. Grassi what was the oldest piece in the room he directed me to a panel that featured an unidentified saint. It had once been attributed to Giotto said Mr. Grassi, but now it was thought to be the work of a master whose name I did not catch. But I did catch the date: 1310.
Along the way I also met David Yezzi, Roger Kimball, James Panero, Marcus Plieninger and a host of others. The poets in the crowd, David Yezzi, John Foy and Glynn Maxwell were scheduled to read. It had taken an afternoon flight, a hair-raising cab ride and my first subway experience in 15 years, but I had made it to the third annual poetry reading in celebration of The New Criterion's special poetry issue.
From there on in it was pretty much a riot of talk, poetry and talk about poetry. Add in the fact that I was able to approach 700-year-old paintings and observe them with an unhurried attention that I have never been able to achieve in any museum and you'll understand why I was pretty much floating on a fleecy pink cloud over an ultramarine ocean of bliss.
From then on it's hard to put anything in chronological order. A list of conversation topics will have to suffice.
We talked about the similarity between poetic meter and saxaphones.
The similarity between the old stories poets used to re-tell (Troilus and Cresyde, Romeo and Juliet) and jazz standards like "Cottontail" and "April in Paris".
John Foy counciled me to never throw poetic scribbling out. I'm glad to say I haven't.
During David Yezzi's reading I got an introduction to the extraordinary work of Michael Donaghy, an American poet who thrived in Great Britain and unfortunately passed away last year.
I started to really understand what Glynn Maxwell is up to with his latest book "The Sugar Mile", a narrative about the Blitz that's made up of short lyric poems.
I learned that the copy I own of Edward Fairfax's translation of Tasso's Gerusalem Liberata is an item that at least one NY poet would be happy to have.
I was told that, since its new editorial regime was installed, Poetry Magazine has actually come under fire for being "reactionary" and has tried to make nice by publishing more "experimental" work.
Speaking of experimental work, a motion was put forward that everything one should know about writing poetry can be learned from reading The Faerie Queene.
Timothy Steele's generosity as a teacher (even to those like me who pester him with technical questions via e-mail) was much discussed and praised.
The impossibility of politics making for good poetry was thrashed out thoroughly.
My assumption that poetic formalism had pretty well re-established itself in the course of two generations (Wilbur/Hecht and Leithauser/Steele) was put up for serious reconsideration. I was reminded that every generation must take up the dead white patriarchal males' burden and find a good rhyme for, well, "beer" for example.
As that last remark indicates, some of the evening was spent at a tavern several blocks from the Grassi Studio. John Foy, Dawn Steeves, David Yezzi, Marcus Plieninger, John Fitzgerald and a host of others hoofed it to an establishment whose name I have forgotten--not as a result of overindulgence; I'm just not used to the sensory overload that is NYC at night and the name escapes me. I remember everyone telling me it was a legendary spot...something to do with the carved wooden bar.
And, as the list of conversation topics indicates, much can be gleaned from an evening out with The New Criterion. Those of you who are within a plane ticket, a long drive, a train ride, a cab fare or a subway connection from a Young Friends event should sieze the opportunity presented. I'm not exactly young, but I am a friend and I do it whenever work, the weather and my wallet permit. It was a superlative evening and many thanks are due to Marco Grassi and everyone at TNC.
Happy Birthday Cardinal. We hope the Mrs. speaks French all day and keeps your wine glass filled to the rim while you contemplate your happy life and happy day. By the by, Blimpish has become slightly famous so be sure to raise one of your glasses to him. His political commentary, ( no doubt the handcuff ads ) has caught the eye of the Guardian. Lord Beaverbrook must be a proud papa.
All the best to you on your big day. Strange weather, huh?
Blogger Mark Shea has, under the heading Salon Hosts Synchronized Primal Scream a sampling of current wisdom from the most current sages on Pope Benedict XVI.
Contrast their theological brilliance with an excerpt of the homily delivered by Cardinal Ratzinger on Monday to the Cardinals just prior to the start of their conclave:
"Having a clear faith, based on the creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism. he said, whereas relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed or swept along by every wind of teaching, looks like the only attitude acceptable by today's standards. We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as certain and which has as its highest goal one's own ego and desires."
The Catholic Chuch has a clear understanding of what it is up against. The sages are evincing signs of paranoia and other ill effects due no doubt to a steady diet of pure relativism.
Last June at the funeral at Ronald Reagan's funeral, George Bush 41 got a good laugh from the crowd in the filled National Cathedral when he related a story of Reagans' account of a meeting with Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The President was asked by the press how his meeting went with the man of the cloth, President Reagan gestured with his hands and said, "Tutu, so,so." Once again Reagan was right. Now retired Archbishop So-So has weighed in with his profound disappointment in the draconian Pope Benedict XVI.
Shortly after Apartheid ended, I was a guest at a dinner in honor of the Archbishop. In his after dinner talk, he criticized former President George H.W. Bush terribly. According to the Archbishop, our President did not want to tighten the sanctions against South Africa because of his personal concern for the suffering of the people especially the children. The Archbishop told us how hard it was to convince President Bush to tighten the sanctions because he knew the people would rather suffer than live under Apartheid. Finally, after a considerable time George Bush relented and tightened the sanctions. People did suffer tremendously but the Archbishop told them they were suffering for a great cause. The eventually government fell proving to the Archbishop how right he had been right to demand the increase of sanctions and subsequent suffering of his flock. He wagged his finger at us saying, "George Bush was wrong." The Episcopalian clergy and liberals present went beserk with cheers and clapping. The Archbishop then left with $50,000+ gift from the grateful crowd.
About 5 years later Pope John Paul II visited Cuba. With the murderous, Commie, dictactor-thug, Castro, sitting in the front row with all of his little henchmen alongside, Pope John Paul II exhorted the huge crowd assembled that by embracing their Catholic roots and their Cuban roots that they could lead good and moral lives. He said that nothing hindered them from being good Christians and good Catholics. The crowd went wild because they knew this man had done the same himself in Poland. First under the oppression of the Nazis and then with the Commies. Castro was confused. He was probably thinking how the people never got this happy when his troops passed out the monthly allowance of 30 sheets, not rolls, of toilet paper per person. Then the Pope observed how the wind was blowing and that the Church long considered that a sign of the Holy Spirit moving. He told them good things would happen in Cuba if they would remain faithful to God.
Archbishop So-So misunderstands how the Catholic Church works. He misunderstands how God works. For that, I feel sorry for him and the people who follow him.
Okay, the link takes you to the front page. Once there click on the purple "full story" underneath the photo of the Archbishop. How is it I can cook a sitdown meal for 125 people but not do a simple link? Truly pathetic.
In the minutes following the announcement of Pope Benedict XVI Papal reign, the nihilists came out in force. They unleashed the anger they had been holding in since witnessing the 5 million faithful (many under 35) who came from great distances to pay their respects to Pope John Paul II. The nihilists are beside themselves. How can it be that the Catholic Church chose a man who believes in the Catholic Doctrine to run the Church? On one hand the question borders on the insane but on the other hand, what a perfect display of nihilism for all the world to witness.
Nihilsim believes that social or politcal instutions must be destroyed to ensured future progress. They hold firm to the idea that there are no distinctions in moral value like for instance, mortal and venal sins. They also believe in no objective truth. The Pope is a servant of the Catholic Church, not the master. That is the truth and the nihilists cannot accept this. Not only do they demand that the Pope must be master of the Church but he must their kind of master as well. One who will tear down down the deposit of Faith and the Church. Pope John Paul disappointed them. So will Pope Benedict XVI.
Pope Benedict XVI is a blessing to a Europe and the rest of the world. In the last century, millions of lives were destroyed by the corrupt isms that ran rampant through Europe from the late 19th century up until the 1980's when Pope John Paul II, Margaret Thatcher, and Ronald Reagan took on Communism and brought it down. Those three twentieth century figures will probably someday be held in the same vaunted light as the founders of the United States. It was a blessed time. The Catholic writer, George Weigel called Pope John Paul II, the witness to hope. Considering the unique relationship Pope John Paul II and Pope Bendict XVI shared, one can say Pope Bendict XVI is the man from hope.
What gives me the greatest relief this morning is that Pope Bendict XVII does seem to be a continuation of the blessing of Pope John Paul II. He is a man for our times. Not a man of our times. More importantly, the blood that has cried out from the battlefields of WWI, WWII, from concentration camps, from gulags, from abortion clinics and elsewhere has been heard by our loving God. He has answered it with two good men. The first from Poland and now from Germany. Places where at one time death and destruction were more commonplace than peace and joy. Those millions of deaths will not be in vain. Our God is a profound one.
Long Live Pope Benedict XVI.
When I first got into the ad business, everyone was looking for the USP. It stands for "Unique Selling Proposition" and it simply means the single stand-out feature of whatever product or service you happen to be advertising. Though I don't hear the term these days, it's still a sound way of going about the job. And it even has applications to larger spheres of life.
Take this article by former Archbishop Desmond Tutu. In it he urges the Catholic Church to go the way of the Anglican/Episcopal communion: female priests, homosexuality, no dogma, no theology...the whole shooting match. In other words, the Catholic Church should follow the lead of a church that is, by all appearances, falling apart. Further, it should adopt the program of every mainline Protestant denomination and embrace the "progressive" platform. According to the former Archbishop, the Catholic Church should be--in ad terms--exactly like its theological competition.
It's an odd request from a member in good standing of the Diversity Crowd (why can't at least one church be different?) But at bottom I sense an intense need for validation. You can't get around it, the Catholic Church is the root from which all other denominations sprang. Like I tell every Bible-thumper I meet, they wouldn't have a Bible to thump if it weren't for the Catholic Church. The Anglican communion is in grave trouble due to a chain of decisions reaching back to the 1930's and before. What a comfort it would be to have all those bad choices validated by the Vicar of Christ.
But that's missing the point Archbishop Tutu is really missing. Because everyone else has gone the route of modernism, progressivism and "openness", the Catholic Church stands alone as the one church with a real, true, Unique Selling Proposition. Go watch the film from any one of John Paul II's World Youth Days. People like to carp that not all the kids in those crowds were living strict Catholic lives. As Father Robert Sirricco pointed out: No, but they desire to. Tutu's call for the Catholic Church to "reflect today's reality" is just another call for the Church to conform to the world rather than to transform the world. He can't see that the Unique Selling Proposition of Catholicism stands in sharp contrast to the permissive, even neglectful attitude of every other major denomination. It persists in giving us an example to live up to. It defiantly holds out to all of us the possibility of transcending the prison that is ourselves.
By losing your life you really do gain it. The truth really does set you free. All you have to do is live by it.
Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI is a traitor to the cause of modernism. Those who want the Catholic Church to accept female priests, contraception and the gay lifestyle must be reeling over his selection. That a former Hitler youth and liberal college professor once recomended by Hans Kung for his position could have evolved into the strongest defender of canon law and orthodoxy next to the late John Paul II has been bewildering and frustrating for them. Now he's their Pope. There must be a run on smelling salts.
I am heartened that the Church has chosen another man who understands firsthand how destructive totalitarianism, nazism, fascism, communism and other isms can to the spiritual and moral health of individuals and nations. May God bless Pope Benedict's XVI ministry richly.
Once again the link is odd. Click on the Financial Times banner. Then on the homepage you will see the story on Pope Benedict XVI. Underneath it is a Cardinal Ratzinger profile. It's the best/worst I've read. Sorry.