Home > 2014 > December

Monthly Archives: December 2014

December 30, 2014

Bishops, Buts and B******t

Both sides in the  synod debate are already squaring up for the battle ahead. The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales clearly belongs to the faction favouring the admission of  unrepentant adulterers to Holy Communion.  You can tell this by the way they have constructed the following sentence:

The Synod does not shirk from the truth of the Gospel and the Kingdom, urging us to make the demands of the Kingdom of God, but this must be accompanied with compassion and love, seeing firstly persons who are loved by God.

Now if you summarise that sentence in three words, it means “We are nice.” If you turned the sentence the other way, to say  “[Action] must be  accompanied with compassion and love, seeing firstly persons who are loved by God,  but the Synod does not shirk from the truth of the Gospel and Kingdom, urging us to make the demands of the Kingdom of God”, it would mean something quite different: “We are strict.”

It’s a rhetorical device, employing the golden rule that when you oppose two ideas and put a “but” between them, it’s always the part which follows the “but” which is the most important and the one you want to prevail.

I have summarised the above argument from Fr Hunwicke’s blog. One contributor to his combox puts it neatly, if crudely: “As an advertiser, well versed in this device, said, ‘Before the BUT is b*****t’.”

More about this in my next post.

December 26, 2014

Happy St Stephens Day to all subscribers/supporters.  I suppose it’s  too late to wish you a happy Christmas: that would have been impossible anyway as the site has been down for nearly a week.  When I turned it on this morning it suddenly came on again, for whatever reason. If my “webmistress” was responsible for this seeming miracle, I am most grateful. This next post has been ready for sending for quite some time .

*************************

 Judicial Jokers, and  Crimes Against Humanity 

The British Supreme Court has ruled that two  Catholic midwives are obliged to organise and supervise abortions.  The best comment on this appalling and draconian decision comes, as you might expect, from Fr John Hunwicke  of the Anglican Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

‘ Participate,  in my view, means taking part in a hands-on capacity.’ Thus the Court dismissed the appeal of two Catholic midwives who are not prepared, even in a solely administrative capacity, to organise and supervise abortions. What a shame these judges were not around in time to defend that poor Adolf Eichmann when the Israelis so unfairly tried and hanged him for organising the transportation of Jews to the Death Camps. And they would have been really in their element during the Nuremburg trials, defending the bureaucrats who masterminded the war crimes.

But stay: it is not too late. If the International Criminal Court ever finds itself trying former tyrants who gave orders for genocide, these judicial jokers will be invaluable to the defence teams.

Memo to all those contemplating crimes against humanity: OK, dears, as long as you aren’t HANDS ON.

Stramentaria tells me that in Bristol, in  the early 1960s, an Irish midwifery sister acquaintance refused to “scrub up” for an abortion and her conscientious objection was respected.

It’s the same dilemma—in a more extreme form—as that which faced pro-life Irish journalists when the NUJ used part of their subscriptions to help fund the British National Abortion Campaign. Do you go along with it, or not?

The day I read Fr Hunwicke’s post I noticed in the Daily Telegraph that a 93-year-old former member of the Waffen-SS is to go on trial in Germany accused of being involved  in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews at Auschwitz. Oskar Groening is charged with helping the Nazi regime benefit economically and supporting systematic killings by handling the belongings stolen from camp victims. His job was to go through their luggage and clothes for money which could be sent to SS headquarters in Berlin. Hardly “hands on”.  Presumably if Herr Groening were being tried by the British Supreme Court, they would be obliged to acquit him.

It’s another question altogether, I know, but there is something rather distasteful and  vindictive about continuing to hunt down these old men more than 70 years after their alleged crimes. Should not some kind of  statute of limitations apply in such cases?

  

December 17, 2014

The Birth Control Box in Your Living Room

What is played out in the imagination of the artist foreshadows, however dimly, the social reality of tomorrow.

Daniel Bell, The Contradictions of Capitalism.

If you want to know just what sorts of “change”  the movers and shakers would like to see take place in society, then watch a few episodes of some soap operas. Take  Coronation Street, the only one  I see on a regular basis. It is set in a suburb of Manchester, and most of the characters are lower-middle or working class. A disproportionate number of them are active homosexuals, but there is  never any suggestion that this could conceivably be a matter for disapproval, however mild. All the “straight” characters accept such behaviour, and even encourage their “gay” friends to look around for “partners”.  I don’t believe this yet totally reflects proletarian life  in  Northern England, but there is reason to believe it may well do so in the not too distant future. Not so many years ago, sodomy was universally regarded as depraved and reprehensible, even among many atheists and agnostics, but nowadays it is seen as an acceptable lifestyle “choice”  by virtually the entire media and political establishment.

“Sean” has been in Coronation Street for a long time now. In the early days he was a  figure of fun, camping it up like  Kenny Everett or Benny Hill. Now,  time is devoted to his love life, which is taken quite seriously. The latest twist, which is still working itself out, is that Sean picks up a vicar in a “gay bar”, and they are just on their first date.  He asks this vicar whether he is  a “shalt” or a “shalt not”  type of guy and receives an evasive reply. It will be interesting to see how this develops.

In an earlier episode,  “Sophie” a holy roller evangelical, decides she is a lesbian. It doesn’t seem to bother her particularly when her group tell her that such conduct is incompatible with Christianity, probably because they can’t give her any convincing reason why this is so, beyond mentioning a few Bible verses which they don’t elucidate. Now she is still “a Christian”, and apparently at ease living with her “partner”.

It is well established that in most of Europe and North America, Catholics are contracepting, and even aborting, at just the same rate as the rest of the population. This is not just  because their  clergy hardly ever dare to speak out about it, but because for decades now the laity have been exposed to intense anti-life propaganda by the media and entertainment industries.

The same story seems to be developing all over the world. The latest issue of the New Oxford Review, in a well-documented article, confirms the process I have outlined above, particularly in relation to population control in Latin America, and even parts of Africa. The importance of the part played by soap operas in conditioning entire populations to accept contraception, in particular, would be difficult to exaggerate.

Take Brazil, for example. There, one television network has for  decades had a near monopoly on telenovelas (soap operas) . In over a hundred Brazilian telenovelas from the 1970s to the 1990s, 72 percent of the female characters under 50 years of age had no children, and 21 percent had only one child. Needless to say, this did not reflect the reality of Brazilian life: The average woman had five children. But a peculiar thing happened: “As the soaps reached each region and as the majority of the population tuned in, there was a discernible, additional fall in fertility.” Today, the Brazilian fertility rate is down to 1.8 children—lower even than that of the U.S.  So it seems life really might imitate art.

Though the link between idealised families in Brazilian soaps and the fertility rate of the country at large may seem a bit tenuous, there is no doubt that farther north, in Mexico, soap operas have directly been used to reduce fertility. In the 1970s, the average Mexican woman had five or six children. Miguel Sabido, then-president of Televisa, Mexico’s national TV network, developed a soap-opera format designed to effect social change. In what would become known as the “Sabido Method,” viewers are encouraged to identify with a “transitional character” whose personal ethical dilemmas drive the story. Sabido’s first offering, Acompáñame, focused on an impoverished woman living in a crime-ridden slum who uses artificial contraception to limit her family size in order to break out of the cycle of poverty. While some have likened the Sabido Method to “crude social engineering,” the U.S.-based Population Media Centre praises it as “a highly successful and proven mass media instrument” that excels at “raising awareness among large numbers of people about critical issues,” such as “the benefits of smaller families,” and motivating audiences to “adopt new behaviours.”

The PMC is quite open and unashamed about its methods. It has produced a television series, East Los High, targeted at  young Latinos  based in the U.S., and boasts of its success in getting them to use contraceptive devices.  I googled “Population Media Centre” to watch their propaganda video, and found it a depressing experience. There is no doubt about their professionalism.

Getting back to the situation in Mexico…According to the PMC, over the course of Acompáñame’s nine-month run, more than 2,000 women registered as voluntary workers in Mexico’s national family-planning programme, as was suggested in the telenovela; contraceptive sales increased 23 percent in one year, compared to a seven percent increase the preceding year; and more than half a million Mexican women enrolled in family-planning clinics, an increase of 33 percent, compared to a one percent decrease the previous year.

Miguel Sabido went on to develop five similar telenovelas from 1977 to 1986, a time during which Mexico’s population growth rate declined by 34 percent. As a result, in May 1986, the United Nations presented its Population Prize to Mexico as “the foremost population success story in the world”.

Not surprisingly, the population controllers at PMC and elsewhere were eager to export the Sabido Method worldwide. Copycat shows were broadcast in numerous impoverished nations. In Jamaica, for example, Naseberry Street ran from 1985 to 1989, a period that saw the island’s fertility rate drop from 3.3 to 2.9 children. When Tushauriane topped the ratings in Kenya in the late 1980s, it coincided with a drop in that nation’s fertility rate from 6.3 to 4.4 children. David O. Poindexter, president of Population Communications International, which worked with the Kenyan government to develop the soap, told The New York Times that Tushauriane “is not, first of all, drama, but value reinforcement” (June 14, 1987). Greg Adambo, the soap’s Kenyan producer, echoed Poindexter’s utilitarian approach to entertainment: “Our first concern,” Adambo said, “is to persuade our audience to go for family planning and health services.”

More recently, since Makutano Junction was first aired in 2001—it’s now in its twelfth season—Kenya’s fertility rate has dropped again from 5.0 to 3.8 children.  Makutano Junction is funded by the British government’s Department for International Development (DFID) in conjunction with Marie Stopes International, a British non-governmental organization whose aim is to export abortion. The purpose of Makutano Junction, according to DFID, is to provide viewers with “very specific and practical information” about family planning, including how to find Marie Stopes clinics.

One would think that a country like Kenya would be wary of Western cultural influences. But maybe the Kenyan government considers the importation of Western sexual values to be more benevolent than old-style colonialism.  Nevertheless, as the New Oxford Review comments, this  imposition represents a type of spiritual enslavement.

There is little doubt that television is  “the most dynamic force in changing social mores in villages and slum communities” in impoverished regions. But its power is not limited to the so- called developing world.  Soap operas have played a role in changing attitudes about homosexuality and same-sex marriage in the U.S. and Europe. Coronation Street, the example I gave at the beginning of this article is a case in point.

It will be interesting to see how the campaign for the forthcoming referendum on homosexual pseudogamy  (“gay marriage” ) will develop in Ireland. Of one thing you may be sure; the media will have an enormous influence on the result.

That little glowing box in the corner of your living room is more powerful—more insidiously powerful—than it appears. It has the power to affect, however subliminally, not only its viewers’ outlooks but their most intimate habits as well. It is a transformative presence whose content is at times controlled by forces that have a very specific agenda in mind—a radically anti-family agenda. Used without caution  by unwary viewers, television subtly applies its imprint on their hearts and minds.

 

December 15, 2014

Tony O’Brien: Planned Parenthood Fixer
We knew it all along,  but there is  now positive proof that the Health Service Executive is in cahoots with the “Irish Family Planning Association”—the Irish tentacle of the International Planned Parenthood Federation. The truth comes in a news release from the Pro-Life Campaign, which  the national newspapers and RTE are most unlikely to carry. Here’s the release:
The Pro Life Campaign has strongly criticised the HSE report into state-funded crisis pregnancy counselling services which was made available yesterday.
The HSE audit was commissioned following an  undercover investigation in 2012 which revealed disturbing practices at certain taxpayer-funded crisis pregnancy counselling agencies.
The exposé included evidence that Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) run clinics were telling women to lie to their doctors and say they had a miscarriage and not an abortion in the case of post-abortion complications.  The IFPA were also coaching women on how to illegally import abortion pills to self-administer without any medical supervision.
Cora Sherlock of the Pro Life Campaign said: ‘The mild way in which the report refers to these horrendous practices with no suggestion of any sanctions for the counselling agencies involved is of very grave concern and shows that the HSE has not given this issue the attention it deserves. The stance of the HSE to date has been to ignore the wrongdoing exposed.  By failing to strongly condemn the practices at IFPA-run clinics, the HSE is sending out a message that it is okay for counselling agencies to encourage women to lie to their doctors and to falsify medical records.  This is in effect facilitating a cover up of life-endangering practices. Women in crisis pregnancy deserve better from the HSE and state-funded agencies.’

All this is hardly surprising when you consider that the HSE is headed up by Tony O’Brien, once CEO of the IFPA who has  never concealed his anti-life views. He is an extremely clever and dangerous tactician and propagandist. Back in the 1990s. the Brandsma Review pointed out that one can learn a great deal about one’s opponents, not by reading their media propaganda, but by studying the literature they put out to motivate their  executives and field operatives.  Perusing  Entre  Nous, the “European Family Planning Magazine” (December 1994) one discovered that Tony O’Brien, then of the  IFPA, had absorbed the lesson, learned earlier by his pro-life opponents, that organisational  fragmentations always tend to put any  campaign on the defensive when it should be on the attack. His article pointed out that in the run-up to the Albert Reynolds abortion referendum the “pro-choice” groups carefully constructed coalitions of organisations that could work together without stifling the voices of member groups. The final umbrella group, the Alliance for Choice, brought together diverse resources and facilities, with remarkable success.

With their chum Tony O’Brien at the helm of the HSE, it would seem that  the IFPA can get away with anything. 

 

 

December 9, 2014

Gall, woodworm and the ‘gay lifestyle’

Here’s a repeat of the Straws for the Camel’s Back column from Issue 41 in 1999.

It was Pope Pius XI, I believe, who remarked “I have-a to shake hands with Say Ten a hundred times a day!” He was referring to many of the international statesmen he was obliged to receive in audience, some of whom were working for the overthrow of the Church; others of whom were living notoriously immoral lives.

None of this, of course, applies to our President. But I think if Pope John Paul had been well briefed about Mary McAleese before she visited him earlier  this month, he might have asked whether she intended bringing a can of Cuprinol. You may recall how she once suggested that the Holy Father was suffering from woodworm because he had reiterated the Church’s constant teaching on an all-male priesthood. Not long after that, constantly billed by the media as a “fervent” or “devout” Catholic, she was elected President of Ireland.

It is a strange, selective variety of Catholicism. In spite of her promotion of priestesses, she appears to be entirely orthodox on many issues, including contraception, although she has dropped her once-vehement opposition to divorce. She sees nothing wrong with very publicly receiving a Protestant eucharist in Christ Church Cathedral, even though a learned Oxford Dominican has pointed out that this action amounts to at least formal apostasy.

Oddest of all, she has given her blessing to a leaflet aimed at parents, promoting acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle. And the most recent Gay Community News says:

President Mary McAleese is to visit outhouse, Dublin’s centre for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community on April 16. She will be shown round the building and meet some of the groups and other users of the centre. “Her visit will help highlight the work of outhouse and show the community in a positive light,” said outhouse Co-ordinator Terry Canavan.

*************************

Good Liturgy’ Guide

A giant stride towards the Mickey Mouse Mass: a distraught parishioner of St Peter’s, Phibsboro, in Dublin (“Serving the Community in the Spirit of St Vincent de Paul”) has sent us their Newsletter, in which we learn that the Sunday “missalettes” are to be replaced, in the interests of “active liturgy”. I always thought that was why those scrappy little pamphlets were forced upon us in the first place.

A piece by one Helen Walsh, Liturgist, points out that :“Missalettes drain our parish resources.” She continues:

They limit the choice of eucharistic prayer to that which has been provided

on the missalette. They limit the hymns which can be sung by making somewhat inappropriate or downright boring musical suggestions

St Peter’s is a parish committed to good liturgy and for this reason the liturgical council in collaboration with Fr Sean and Jean Martin [Ms Jean Martin is described on the back of the newsletter as “Administrator”] have decided to replace the Sunday missalettes with a more appropriate form…

And what form will this more appropriate form take? Ms Walsh, Liturgist, enlightens us:

Musical decisions will be unlimited and the scope for presiders to choose their own eucharistic prayer will be widened, since none will be on the new missalette.

In omitting the main body of the liturgy of the Eucharist, the new missalette will encourage us all to active liturgy; not simply a manual-read-along approach encouraged by the former.

Presumably this means that if the congregation don’t think the “presider” is making the Mass exciting enough, they can jizz things up by joining in extempore whenever they feel like it.

*************************

The Quality of Mercy…

I wonder what kind of liturgical star-rating Ms Walsh, Ms Martin and Fr Sean would award the following, from a leaflet produced by a Mercy Convent for their Leaving Certificate Mass.

OPENING SONG: ONE OF US

If God had a name what would it be?

and would you call it to his face.

If you were faced with him and all his glory

what would you ask if you had just one question?

And yeah yeah God is great,

Yeah, yeah God is good,

Yeah, yeah, yeah what if God was one of us?

Just a slob like one of us? Just a stranger

on the bus, tryin’ to make his way home.

If God had a face, what would it look like?

And would you wanna see? If seeing meant

that you would have to believe, in things like

heaven and in Jesus and the saints, and all the

prophets.

And yeah…

Tryin’ to make his way home, back up to

heaven all alone,

Nobody calling on the phone, ‘cept for the

Pope maybe in Rome.

*************************

Beware of Tridophobia

Tridophobia: Trid’* o*pho ‘bi*a. n.[fr.L Tridentum, Trent + Gk phobos, fear, flight]: An exaggerated fear and loathing of traditional Catholic dogma and ritual, commonly afflicting inhabitants of chanceries and seminaries in North America and Western Europe. Typically associated with dissent from the magisterium, liturgical renewal, feminism, ecumania, paradigm-shifting and tree-hugging. Victims report acute seizures provoked by sightings of soutanes, tabernacles, maniples, monstrances, statuary, reredos, pious devotions and Roman Missals [editio typica 1962 or before].

Full cardiac arrest has resulted from accidental exposure to such stimuli as smoking thuribles and Latin chants. Indications include amnesia; those stricken often recall no ecclesiastical events that occurred prior to October 11, 1962. No cure exists, although literature reports that a quasi-tridophobic population in Albi, France, was once remediated by a process known as a crusade.

(With acknowledgments to Una Voce Rochester and the Newsletter of the English and Welsh Latin Mass Society.)

*************************

Mayo Man of Letters

Can one of our many Co. Mayo readers explain why EC Commissioner P. Flynn—who last year celebrated the feast of St Valentine, patron saint of romantic love, by sending out 300,000 condoms—is still so highly respected in the county? I cannot believe that most Co. Mayo people would share the the opinion of columnist Fintan O’Toole (darling of The Rut,the Religious Press Association and the National Union of Priests) that Mr Flynn’s action was a “decent and proper gesture”.

I fear the only answer I shall receive will be the one President Clinton gave to his critics: “It’s the economy, stupid!”

*************************

Painful Pleasures

From the British Medical Journal I learn that more than 68 million Americans now have an incurable sexually transmitted disease such as herpes, human papilloma virus infection, hepatitis B, or HIV infection. One American in five over the age of 12 has genital herpes. By the age of 24, one in three “sexually active” people in the US has had an STD.

How you seen any outcry in the media about these appalling statistics? No, nor have I. The reason is because the only way to be sure of avoiding these diseases is not to fornicate or engage in sodomy. And lifelong faithfulness to one person is “unacceptable” to our opinion-formers.

December 8, 2014

Don’t be Scared of the Immaculate Conception

What follows is the best sermon I have ever come across on the Immaculate Conception. It was preached by that star of the Anglican Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, Fr John Hunwicke.  (Even if  Benedict XVI had no other achievements to his credit, I think Anglicanorum Coetibus on its own would suffice to make him the greatest Pope of modern times.) This sermon was  preached at Pusey House, Oxford, before Fr Hunwicke made his submission.

On May 13, 1917.…
Yes, if I were Jeremy Paxman and that were a Starter Question, you would all by now laudably have pressed your buzzers.
But I wonder how many of you recall the first words which that Lady ‘brighter than the sun’ said to those three Portuguese peasant children, nearly a hundred years ago. They were ‘Do not be afraid’. ‘Afraid’ is what frail humans so often feel when confronted by evidences of divine power; the Lord himself said it on His Easter Morning: me phobeisthe. But I like to indulge myself an idiosyncratic fantasy that Our Lady, when she appeared on that stony, arid field at Cova da Iria—although I imagine she spoke to Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta in some Portuguese dialect—was really addressing England; Protestant England with its underlying anti-Catholic bigotry (‘scratch an Englishman…’) even when it is overlaid by the broader anti-Christian secularism of our own age. (When the 1928 Prayer Book came before Parliament, someone asked an atheist MP why he was so keen to vote against it, and he explained ‘But I am a Protestant atheist’.) And such English, I put it to you, are scared, dead scared, scared out of their wits, by the great Mother of God, Mary most holy. Have you noticed that there’s a certain sort of churchperson who twitches rhythmically at the very phrase ‘Mother of God’. If you explain that Jesus is God and so his mother Mary is the Mother of God, they give you that sort of sideways look that implies they know you’re playing some sort of Jesuitical trick on them, but they can’t quite spot the catch. Well, of course, there is a catch; it is that they don’t live with a real faith that Jesus is God. As Newman once analysed it, liberal Protestants demote Our Lord Jesus Christ into the slot reserved for Mary (I am butchering Newman’s elegant periods into journalese so I will call it ‘Top Creature Slot’) and then they’re puzzled when we Catholics situate Mary in exactly that place.‘Romanism is not idolatry unless Arianism is orthodoxy’, Newman observed. So what—if they can’t completely avoid talking about Mary—do liberal Protestants call her? ‘The mother of Jesus’;  ‘the Virgin’; and—get this—‘the Madonna’. As if it’s safer to refer to her in Italian than to use the Prayer Book phrase ‘Our Lady’. So let’s keep her, they feel, in an Art History context—the Madonna…weird, really, isn’t it: you wouldn’t, probably, refer to the Head of an academic institution as ‘the Il Principale’ or the ‘Il Prevosto’ ; or to our beloved Prime Minister as the ‘Il Duce’. Or perhaps she will be called ‘the bee vee’, as if it sanitises and makes her safe to turn her into an English acronym.In a sermon I preached nearly half a century ago, at the Mattins of Christmas Day in the year of my diaconate, I said that the Incarnation meant that God was in the belly of a Palestinian peasant girl who is Queen of Heaven. Critics fell into three categories: those who disliked my phrase because of its physicality and because it placed the origins of our faith among foreigners (surely Mary must have been a middle-class Englishwoman and if not a member of the Women’s Institute  then at least of the Young Wives); those who didn’t like the phrase Queen of Heaven; and those who disliked both.
‘The Immaculate Conception’. It’s a lovely rolling phrase, isn’t it (we classicists might analyse its rhythm as a trochaic dimeter). And it’s a phrase, too, that can scare people silly. Is it sometimes the physicality—again, of conception—that disturbs them; conception, a process that occurs a little way south of the tummy button? Not the sort of thing the fastidious want to have dragged in front of their noses. C S Lewis points out that the devils too are fastidious in their horror at the flesh: Screwtape refers to a human as ‘this animal, this thing begotten in a bed’. Or perhaps people are scared of the word ‘Immaculate’; perhaps it suggests foreign religion—little old Irish women clutching their rosaries or Spanish ladies in black making their five successive First Saturday communions in honour of the Immaculate Heart (a devotion which Cardinal Ratzinger with his gentle irony once called ‘surprising for people from the Anglo-Saxon and German cultural worlds’). But ‘immaculate’ is a completely biblical concept in its Hebrew and Greek equivalents: it means spotless; and only what is without blemish is truly for God (for example, a spotless sacrificial lamb). Because: Mary is to be wholly for God, is to give God his body, to give God his endowment of genes, to give God the food of her breast: so Mary by God’s gift is to be the Immaculate, the one without blemish, the one in whom the Divine likeness has never been marred.
It is because Mary alone in the roots of her being is unmarked by sin that Mary alone is truly and wholly free. In our hearts, too, we should make her free and ‘fear not’; she is never to be locked up in the tourist industry as a statue of doubtful taste carried in processions by foreign peasants for the English to photograph from within their coaches; Mary is not to be detained at the pleasure of the Heritage business in a Merry England; she is not to be ‘the Madonna’ of the Art Historians imprisoned in glossy coffee­ table books.

If Mary is the Mother of God Incarnate, she is our Mother too, because we are in Christ, limbs of his body by our baptismal incorporation. Mary comes to us this day, and what would a true mother bring to hungry children except food; food for her children in exsilio; food packed for our journey. Mary comes to this place and to this moment of time; Mary comes, bright with all the beauties known by men and angels; Mary comes to set upon our lips the blessed fruit of her womb Jesus.

December 4, 2014

Morality and the Demon ‘Allah’

I’ve long been an admirer of Hilary White’s blog Orwell’s Picnic. In this entry—which I am quoting at length here—she shows that, contrary  to what you might expect, Islam has a lot in common with moral relativism. (I think Pope Benedict was making much the same point in his mild and courteous speech at Regensburg which made the Moslems so angry.)

For a long time, the Fashionably Stupid People, frequently younger people, have liked to say, ‘Well, there’s more than one kind of morality,’ and ‘You can’t impose your moral values on me,’ and ‘Morality is a malleable concept,’ and other related irrational and self-refuting rubbish. And we know this was, let’s face it, mostly puerile attempts to justify having (their preferred variety of) sex outside of natural marriage, or approving of abortion or divorce as a ‘right’ or whatnot.

Well, we are seeing now, aren’t we, all over the place, but especially in Middle Eastern countries that there really is such a thing as a ‘different morality’ from the one we have all taken for granted all our lives. For various reasons, Islamic ‘morality’ doesn’t include a concept of a universal moral law. They don’t believe that all persons, by virtue of being human, have the same rights. And they don’t believe that it is always, inherently, wrong to steal from or attack or lie or kill or rape or enslave other people. There is no such thing in Islamic ‘morality’ as ‘inherent’ right or wrong. This has to do with the monster they worship being above its own laws. The demon ‘Allah’ can change its mind about right and wrong, (thus giving the lie to the insane notion that it is the same as the God of Abraham) therefore there is no universal objective moral law in Islam. In Islam, we have finally seen what moral relativism really turns into: the triumph of the will over all. Might makes right.

We’ve had a pretty hard time accepting that this is really what we’re seeing, because the Judeo-Christian ethic has been so ubiquitous that we have simply assumed that this is how all humans work. The notion that other people, large groups of people, really could have radically different ideas about right and wrong from those we have based our culture on seemed so outlandish that we have wasted precious years, more than a decade now, arguing about how it’s not really Islam that says these things, even though the people doing the acts tell us every day, all day that it does.

But I’ve realised where this denial has come from. If the perpetual adolescents were to admit that it is Islam itself that sanctions and even mandates these acts, they would have to admit that there is such a thing as an immutable, universal moral law from which these acts are a systematic deviation, and that is behind our judgement that the acts in question are wrong, are evil and must be stopped. It would, in short, yank the entire argument out from under their precious Sexual Revolution, and force them to admit its close relationship with the same moral relativism—the same triumph of will—that is currently murdering, raping and enslaving its way across the Islamic world, right now.

They would no longer be the good guys struggling for ‘rights’. They would just be a bunch of kids addicted to a pornographic anti-culture and trying to use the force of law to make everyone else addicted to it too.

*************************

Happy Breed of Moslems

New  research shows that “Mohammed” has become the top boys’ name chosen by parents in Britain after a huge surge in popularity for Arabic names generally.

Mohammed has risen 27 places from last year to claim the number one spot for the boys, according to data carried out by the website BabyCentre.

The next thing we need to know is: how long will it take the Moslems  to outbreed the indigenous population?  It looks as if David Abbott’s book Dark Albion: A Requiem for the English (see earlier posts) was not far off the mark.

December 3, 2014

Sex Education: a Vexed Question

The whole question of school “sex education” requires careful handling. If you’re agin it, you will probably be jeered at as a prudish Victorian relic, who covers up table legs and would like children to be told that babies are brought by  storks or are found under gooseberry bushes.

The late Doris Manly wisely pointed out that the problem is not that sex education is about sex.  When she was approached by a researcher for one of John Bowman’s RTE radio programmes, she was  careful to state that the real problem is that sex education comes as part of a package of total attitude-formation programmes taking in many areas of life, of which sex is only one.  But when it came to the actual interview, John Bowman tried to insist on confining the discussion to sex education, and was somewhat irritated when Doris refused to play along with this.

In one of her chapters in The Facilitators (Brandsma Books) Doris pointed out that such attitude formation programmes deal with several of the teenager’s important relationships: those with his parents; with his peer-group; with the clergy, and with himself.  It is significant, she believed, that some of his other relationships—such as those with God, with the saints, and with the devil—are not included, and  these omissions could be a productive subject for speculation.

In my view, the approach these programmes take to all these relationships is harmful to adolescents. Harmful to them as rational and responsible beings, and not merely as sexual beings.  These programmes would, I think, have a pernicious effect upon the teenager’s total self.

However, there is a particular problem with sex education, especially in  a mixed class. It’s that  teenagers, being combustible creatures, will want to do their practical homework–particularly if the subject is taught outside any moral framework.

Hence a shocking and distressing item carried recently by the British media. It concerned  a 13-year-old boy in North Wales who raped a female classmate after they had both attended a compulsory sex education lesson. He lured her to a secluded part of the school and asked her if she wanted to “try sex”. When she refused and resisted, he overpowered her and carried out the attack.

A spokeswoman for Rape Crisis England and Wales, the equivalent of our own much-loved Rape Crisis Centre,  admitted rather grudgingly that teenage rape by friends was  “not uncommon”. You will probably not be surprised to learn that her proposed  solution to the problem was “more and better” sex education, and at a younger age. To be fair she did also suggest that it should include “relationship advice and information about consent, respect and emotions”.  I’m inclined to agree with British Tory MP Philip Davies, who thinks  it would be better to have less sex education, or preferably none at all.

If  sex education is devoid of any strong moral component,  as it usually is, it’s  an  open invitation to fornicate. Our spiritual leaders know this perfectly well, but they are usually too full of human respect to  protest about it, for the reason mentioned in my first paragraph. It’s so much more popular to talk about homelessness.

 

 

December 1, 2014

The Times They Are a-Changin’

Today we republish another article from an earlier edition of the Brandsma Review. It’s by Charles Lowry (no relation of the former editor) who lives in New York. Chuck began his piece thus: “This is a reprint of an interview by TRIXIE VAPID of Katholics Are U.S. magazine. Ms. Vapid spoke to Canon Robert McCrafty, newly installed pastor of St. Pius X Church in Cinder Block, Illinois. Canon McCrafty responded to many questions concerning his ministry and his views on the future of the Church.”

Vapid: Canon McCrafty, congratulations on your assignment. You have moved very quickly in the past few weeks and, I feel, it is noteworthy that you changed the name of your parish back to St. Pius X.

McCrafty: Thank you, Ms. Vapid. Yes, I did restore the parish name to St.Pius X. I just didn’t feel comfortable with the previous name, the Community of Pius. When I was a boy, I remember reading a lot of the encyclical letters issued by Pope Pius X early in this century. I’m dealing with many happy emotions with his name restored and with the removal of the Community of Pius banners. I feel much more self-fulfilled and attribute my happy face to the change. I feel that the parishioners are entitled to a pastor with a happy face, not a sad one.

Vapid: Some of the parishioners wore sad faces when you removed the felt and burlap banners. How did that make you feel?

McCrafty: I felt their pain. I really did. I didn’t want to remove the banners. But I simply could not tolerate animal abuse. Let’s look at the facts. Wool was brutally removed from sheep, processed into felt and pasted on the burlap. Now I don’t judge the motives of those involved, but I simply could not bear to be reminded of sheep shivering in the wind by gazing on those banners every day. I’m a sensitive guy.

Vapid: But the Sisters you brought to staff the school—the Sisters of Perpetual Reparation—they wear wool habits which surround everything but their faces. How do you explain that?

McCrafty: The Church has always taught that when one is presented with two evils, one is to choose the lesser of the two. The sisters wear habits, in order to express their concern over the slaughter of baby seals. They enwrap themselves with the symbolic equivalent of baby seal pelts. Now I couldn’t tolerate actual pelts. So I chose the lesser evil and allowed them to use wool. It’s a social consciousness thing.

Vapid: Canon McCrafty, why do you persist in wearing a Roman collar and cassock? Wouldn’t you feel closer to the people in lay clothing?

McCrafty: Perhaps. But I feel that I must demonstrate my solidarity with Fr Aristide, the exiled president of Haiti. I will continue to wear clerics until the United States reinstates Fr Aristide and also withdraws from Texas, which was stolen from Mexico in the 19th century.

Vapid: Many of the young people are attracted to your liturgies. But others say that you are nothing but a rubricist. How would you respond?

McCrafty: I guess I’d explain that by saying that I “dare to be square”(laughter). Seriously, I consider myself a real individualist. I know that I’m pretty much on my own when I stick closely to the rubrics. Recent studies in your magazine show that only 5% of Catholic priests in America take the rubrics of the liturgy seriously. But I feel that we are a growing minority.

Vapid: I understand you say Mass in Latin, not English. Why is this?

McCrafty: The most repressive regimes in history have been English-speaking. Look at the conduct of the United States over the last 45 years. We need a more pastoral and politically sensitive language with which to celebrate liturgy. I mean, Romans haven’t oppressed nations in over 1,600 years. I feel we must recognize the sinfulness of English-speaking peoples by refusing to use the language of oppression, persecution and blood. It’s a social justice thing.

Vapid: Yet your chalice and candlesticks are studded with jewels.

McCrafty: I consider myself somewhat of an ecclesiastical Robin Hood. I take from the rich and make it available for the common use of the poor. My ministry is one of redistribution of wealth. It’s an important part of my outreach. The jewels say something important to me. I’m affirmed by them. They say, “Hey, I care.”

Vapid: Altar girls have gained acceptance in many places here in the United States. Yet you did away with them at your parish when you were assigned pastor. Why?

McCrafty: This is an issue which has caused me a lot of pain. As the institutional Church refuses to ordain women, I simply cannot tolerate that girls be reduced to mere handmaidens of a male-dominated clergy. I feel that the time has come to prevent girls from serving the male-dominated hierarchical church.

Vapid: You are one of the few pastors who does not permit communion in the hand. How come?

McCrafty: Liturgists tell us that the future of liturgical changes will be implemented before the Vatican approves them. I’m just leading the way. My feeling is that we dare not ignore the symbolism associated with the liturgical gestures connected with communion in the hand. As long as American hands are red with the blood of exploitation and imperialism in the Third World, I will not give communion in this way. The unjust social structures here in the United States make it abundantly clear that we have blood on our societal hands. We all share symbolically in the oppression. This is my way of saying, “Hey, let’s raise our consciousness to this issue. Let’s give this thing a chance.”

Vapid: Some years ago you refused communion to pro-choice Congressman Malcolm McSinister. Yet many theologians such as Richard McBrien seem to suggest that the Church is too rigid on the issue. Do you feel that you are being used by the long arm of Vatican oppression?

McCrafty: Trixie, have you forgotten Bob Dylan’s message?

Come Senators and Congressman from across the land,

And don’t criticize what you can’t understand;

Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command.

The times they are a changin’.

The media didn’t understand the McSinister thing. They even missed an important issue. Congressman McSinister has a House of Representatives bank account. So he has plenty of money to toss about. Have you seen the diamonds he and his wife wear? Normally that would not be an area of my pastoral concern. But the diamonds came from South Africa—if you know what I mean?

Vapid: I’ve noticed that you never have guitars used in the liturgy. Are your liturgies relevant enough for the middle-aged followers of folk singers Peter, Paul and Mary?

McCrafty: I share your concern. The last pastor did experiment with liturgical music selections from Guns and Roses melodies. I don’t feel he was successful. After considerable dialog in the Liturgy Committee, we’ve come to the painful conclusion that folk music during the liturgy simply gives the impression that we have really entered a new era in the Church. This simply isn’t so. Despite the progress in micro-church here in America, macro-church simply has not caught up with us. We still struggle with macro-church’s rule banning contraception. We still need to come to grips with the whole myriad of woman-church concerns. No, to continue to permit guitars in the liturgy would simply leave us with the feeling that we’re beyond where we really are called to be. We risk a certain lethargy, if you know what I mean. The doleful Gregorian chant should remind us that much work remains for global church.

Vapid: What did your Liturgy Committee think about your changing eucharistic bread from the substantial bread back to the traditional hosts?

McCrafty: I didn’t dialog with the organist about that one. I felt that it was absolutely necessary for us to change back to the hosts. Studies show that if parishes across the country used traditional hosts instead of substantial bread for their liturgies, the United States would have five million tons of wheat surplus for export to poor countries. That’s five million tons! I simply couldn’t justify that kind of insensitivity and lack of social concern.

Vapid: Father, I understand that there is a plan to move the altar up to the back wall of the church. Does this mean that you will offer liturgy with your back to the people?

McCrafty: You know, I’ve always considered myself a liberal. I’ve always done liturgy facing the people. But when I realized that the altar separated me from the people, I felt I just had to take action. And I also feel—more than anyone can know—the concerns of the women in the church. We need to listen to the women who come to church on weekdays. How do you suppose they feel when they see a male celebrating liturgy day after day? Need we thrust this kind of sexism in their faces time and time again? I feel that women need a break. The time has come to be sensitive to their needs and to celebrate liturgy as one of them. This can best be done by celebrating the liturgy by all—men, women, children, and full-time minister—facing the same direction. It would be a mistake to suggest that the full-time minister is “turning his back on the people”. On the contrary, by facing the same direction, we will be able to celebrate our oneness and wholeness.

Vapid: Women’s issues mean a lot to you…

McCrafty: My, yes. I guess I learned a lot about the concerns of women from my mother. She was active in cake sales in the Ladies’ Auxiliary of the Young Men’s Club in our parish. She was always a take-charge kind of gal.

Vapid: You are introducing many devotions, including novenas. Are you going back to pre-Vatican II days?

McCrafty: No. We can’t put the clock back. But the church is big. It can handle all sorts of devotions and practices. The real challenge to the pastor is to remain open to all forms of piety and being flexible enough to meet the needs of the people. That’s where I’m at.

Vapid: Aren’t we beyond eucharistic devotion?

McCrafty: I’m glad you brought that up. You know, I like to think of eucharistic devotion as my own special kind of “centering prayer”. The only difference is, I feel like centering on the Eucharist and not on myself. I feel better that way.

Vapid: But processions? That’s surely going too far…

McCrafty: Are we really going too far, Trixie? I mean, life is journey,and we share this journey together. Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.

Vapid: You have plans to restore the communion rail…

McCrafty: Yes. The documents of Vatican II are quite clear. We are called to share and build community. Now what better way to share and care than to receive communion in community shoulder to shoulder at the altar rail. We are the world.

Vapid: What role do you see in the area of lay ministry?

McCrafty: I’m very open to lay ministry. The staff openly encourages and facilitates Christian Mothers, the Holy Name Society, the Legion of Mary, and the Blue Army. I’m comfortable with diversity. I’m personally committed to enabling Mrs. Kelly to open the church at 5:30 a.m on weekdays. I’ve even given her a key to the front door of the church. Lay ministry is the future of the church.

Vapid: But you’ve dismissed the lay ministers of the eucharist and have eliminated RENEW.

McCrafty: I’m not comfortable with the words “dismiss” and “eliminate”. I’m committed to collaborative ministry and consensus-building. But it is necessary, from time to time, to restructure the network to properly empower those in ministry. This is exactly what I’ve done. We cannot ignore the positive side of the matrix. The fact is, we’ve all learned a lot about one another in this exercise of restructuring. I feel everyone should be open to new growth experiences.

Vapid: In view of your openness and flexibility, how do you feel about the Pope’s crackdown on various alleged dissenters in the Church?

McCrafty: The challenge to the growth process is always to meet new needs in the Church. The Pope had to deal with a lot of pain. And really, when it comes to these intimate questions of conscience, the Pope had to do what he had to do. It’s hard. I feel his pain.

Vapid: Your homilies are kind of, well, interesting. I get the feeling you believe that Our Lord actually said the words that the early Christian communities place on his lips. How would you respond to this feeling?

McCrafty: I am but a poor and humble parish priest. Who am I to grasp the ruminations of the great Raymond E. Brown?

Vapid: The Sisters you brought to Pius X removed the New Dutch Catechism from the classrooms and are now using the Baltimore Catechism. Are you concerned?

McCrafty: I hear you. You know, Trixie, this is a union town. I wouldn’t think of driving about in a foreign car. Can you imagine the impact on the American economy if every priest purchased a Toyota or a Mercedes? I’m an American priest. I buy American. That’s why it’s so necessary that we use American catechisms like the Baltimore Catechism—the first American catechism. This is the American Church. We don’t need Dutch catechisms or German catechisms here. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not xenophobic. But I’m proud to be an American.

Vapid: I sense a certain militarism in your attitude…

McCrafty: I perceive a certain hostility in that comment Trixie. I want you to know that I feel very angry right now. The other night, I watched the movie Ordinary People starring Mary Tyler Moore. I guess what I’ve learned is that we all have our hangups, Trixie. Care to talk about some of yours?

Vapid: It’s just that I feel uncomfortable with your biretta. It brings back pre-Vatican II memories…

McCrafty: I hear you saying that you feel uncomfortable with my biretta. Maybe you should understand a little bit about me and my needs, Trixie. When I was a child, I used to fear change. I also feared the changes that came with Vatican II. I had a narrow outlook and wasn’t concerned about the ozone layer, the rights of animals, and the need to bring back Gregorian Chant to the Liturgy. It took me a long time to admit that. But now I’m comfortable with change. And I really feel you can be, too. If you put your mind to it.

What do you say?

The interview ended with a good cry and a warm embrace. Two years after this interview, Canon McCrafty remains pastor of a flourishing St. Pius X Catholic Church. However, he reports that his success wasn’t without its heartbreak. Members of the Kommunity of Kosmic Konsciousness (KKK) felt compelled to join a neighboring parish. But Ms. Trixie Vapid has grown considerably and has since entered a convent of cloistered nuns. She is now Sister Mary Pius X.