Monday, November 19, 2007

A Modest View of Superiority

We derive little or no benefit from any particular religion unless we experience it as an absolute or at least as holding the promise of being an absolute, so any attempt to reconcile the teachings of the different religions, to iron out their differences is destructive of religion.
— Peter Brooke, On Difference in Religion

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Two Quotations

The man who, knowing the right, fails to do it, loses the power to know what is right; and the man who, having the power to do right, is unwilling, loses the power to do what he wills.
— St. Augustine, De Libero Arbitrio

Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right of being able to do what we ought.
— Lord Acton

Quoted in Caryl Johnston, In the Catacombs, November 16, 2007

Friday, November 16, 2007

Not in the Diocese of Albany — Not Yet!

In 1985, when Amerio published his masterpiece entitled “Iota unum. Studio delle variazioni della Chiesa cattolica nel secolo XX [Iota Unum: A Study of Changes in the Catholic Church in the Twentieth Century],” the newspaper of the Holy See scrapped the review of the book commissioned by the prefect of the Ambrosian Library at the time, Fr. Angelo Paredi. The review was judged as too favorable, and “L'Osservatore” chose to be silent about the book from then on. So even the Vatican authorities joined in the intolerant silence that everyone was heaping upon the book and its author.

Now “L'Osservatore Romano” has reversed course. It has decided, not to remain silent about Amerio, but to speak. And to speak well of him.

— Sandro Magister, A Great Reunion: Romano Amerio and the Changes in the Catholic Church

Thursday, November 15, 2007

On Taxes

Mr. Spitzer’s budget director, Paul Francis, [said:] “I don't regard it as a tax increase. It’s only a tax increase to the person who is paying it.”
Spitzer Abandons Amazon Tax, New York Sun, November 15, 2007.

I hope that Mr. Francis was misquoted.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Hitchens’ Challenges

Here is my challenge. . . . name one ethical statement made, or one ethical action performed, by a believer that could not have been uttered or done by a nonbeliever. And here is my second challenge. . . . think of a wicked statement made, or an evil action performed, precisely because of religious faith. The second question is easy to answer, is it not? The first — I have been asking it for some time — awaits a convincing reply. By what right, then, do the faithful assume this irritating mantle of righteousness? They have as much to apologize for as to explain.
— Christopher Hitchens, An Atheist Responds, Washington Post, July 14, 2007.

There are statements that believers make and actions that believers perform that are not uttered or done by unbelievers. Given the easiness of the second challenge, Hitchens may find an answer to the first.

In the most important matters persuasion is an offense.
— Jacques Barzun, The House of Intellect


Thursday, November 8, 2007

Letter to My Daughter

Dear O—,

You do not know it now, but someday — perhaps sooner, perhaps later — you will learn that the world is presently going through a crucial time and that the most important roles will be played by Catholics. A man who is a columnist for the Asia Times wrote this week: “Pope Benedict XVI is the most indispensable man of our times, and the Catholic Church, the founding institution of the West, its still-indispensable institution.” This is because the great conflict of the future will be between the West and Islam, and the West without the Church will not stand up to Islam. I am not talking about the war in Iraq, which is certainly being fought by the West without the Church.

So it is our gift to you, and the gift of your Wong and Murphy grandparents, that you are a Catholic — not that you will be happy being a Catholic, but that you may be given a chance, whether you like it or not, to play a role in or at least to partly understand the great events that will occur in your lifetime and probably beyond the lifetimes of your parents. You may find that, whatever your other talents, your being a Catholic will be a gift to the world and to God.

You do not understand this now, because no one you meet understands it or even talks about it and because no one alive understands all of it; and this is perhaps best, because your job as you prepare for Confirmation is to feed your faith and not to act in the wider world.

By “feeding your faith” I mean growing in the love of God, with the help of my love and the love of your Mom. You are God’s gift to us, God’s continuing gift, and I intend to show you how grateful I am for that gift.




The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.

Knowing this, I shall try to be more charitable.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Win the War on Terror! Become a Priest!

Spengler, The Inside Story of the Western Mind.


[Pope Benedict XVI is] the most indispensable man of our times, and the Catholic Church, the founding institution of the West, its still-indispensable institution.