Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The only possible election outcome

It's interesting to see how two very different prominent Catholic bloggers are writing about Iowa, the day after. First, here's Father Zuhlsdorf:

The results of the Iowa Caucuses were incredibly close, a virtual tie: Romney by 8 votes… .000065%.

I have friends who have opined that they may opt out of the voting process in this election cycle.

That is a really bad idea.

The stakes of the 2012 election are high.

Your votes count.

As wearisome as the process is, stay engaged with the issues and candidates.

Votes matter. [Emphasis in original--E.M.]

Read the rest, and the comments, here.

Next, here's Mark Shea:
Suddenly, the Iowa caucuses, after not mattering at all when Paul looked like he might win, matter a great deal and show us the Wisdom of the Voters. Neocons are particularly enthused with Santorum, who promises to ignore the Pope and the catechism on that whole pre-emptive war thing, as well as re-establish torture as a fundamental American value (in keeping with the disproportionately large enthusiasm for torture so-called “conservative” Catholics have in defiance of the teaching of Holy Church). Indeed, the damp-handed Orwellian from Pennsylvania has actually had the temerity to tell Vietnam torture victim John McCain that he doesn’t understand torture as well as he does. [All links in original--E.M.]
Mark goes on, in his post with the restrained and subtle title "Empty Suit and War/Torture Enthusiast Win Iowa!" to remark about how odd it is that few people can be found who are actually enthusiastic about the (up to now, anyway) presumed frontrunner, Mitt Romney. I don't think it's odd; I think it's one of the only signs of sanity left in the Republican Party. Alas, that sign is immediately contradicted by the reality that none of the candidates have been able to inspire much more than lukewarm enthusiasm among the voters.

I mean, those of us who have been accustomed in the past to voting for Republicans are used to the rallying cry of "Hold your nose and vote for X!" when it comes time for the general election. I can't, though, for the life of me remember this rallying cry being so prevalent during the primary season. "Hold your nose and vote for one of these clowns, because even though they're all deeply flawed and have no real ideas and would (with one possible exception) have signed NDAA 2012 right alongside the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania to say nothing of declaring preemptive war on any nation that has threateningly large amounts of oil and approving of super-duper enhanced interrogation which is not torture for reasons that are deeply personally linguistic, they're all we've got!" is not exactly the most inspiring Republican message I've ever heard. (Too wordy, for one thing.)

Republicans, and those of their friends who while not actually being members of the party still tend to share some of their ideals, may be forgiven for having hoped that the present election cycle might have produced an actual leader, instead of a group which is clearly still trying to play one on TV. But then again, in our age of Obama, where substance quite obviously didn't matter to the electorate so long as the right things were read with the right sort of inflection off of the right brand of Teleprompter, promising all the right sorts of goodies and government freebies to the masses while reassuring the 1% that they would only be called upon to talk about sacrifice, but not actually to do any of it themselves, perhaps the Republican field could be forgiven for thinking that "The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity" was some sort of election-year motto, a rule to live by, a principle to emulate themselves.

And so I read things like what the good Father Z. has written with a sort of perplexity. How much will one's vote really count when a nose-holding selection of some person C.S. Lewis would have unhesitatingly referred to as a man (and I can say that, as Bachmann has dropped out) without a chest is the only possible outcome of this election?

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

I dunno, I think I'm with Father Z. on this one. Votes do count.

We live in a winner-takes-all system, so voting third party is just a waste of a vote, as is staying home. I guess unless both choices are just completely unacceptable.

~ Ann Marie

Angela C. said...

I support Ron Paul, because the things he stands for are the things was brought up to believe in with regard to politics and the way that our government should be run. The wikipedia entry on the "Old Right" gives a decent explanation of what I'm talking about. I also think that if abortion were made an issue for the individual states to decide, it would be illegal in most of the country. As of right now, that seems better to me than hoping and praying that Roe v. Wade will be overturned if we get a Catholic president who will (hopefully) get his appointed choice of a pro-life Supreme Court justice. I could go on as to why I won't vote for anyone but Dr. Paul, but I don't want to take up too much space. Suffice it to say, I'm not a mindless "Paulbot" and I hope that this comment can give some insight as to why a person would choose to support Dr. Paul wholeheartedly.

Rebecca in ID said...

I'm liking Santorum right now. This could be because I'm not sufficiently informed--in fact, I know I'm not sufficiently informed--but right now, I'm liking him.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Erin, I don't know why you consider Shea's blather serious commentary...especially given his simplistic description of Santorum, which is nothing more than a vile personal attack (which, as we all know, The Illustrious Mr. Shea specializes in).

Somebody should tell TIMS (see above) that Israel might well attack Iran sometime in the future. That attack would be, by its very nature, "pre-emptive," since Iran has publicly stated its desire to obliterate Israel with nuclear weapons. Does TIMS expect any sane government to wait for its people to be extinguished? Oh, but he'd shed crocodile tears for the victims if Iran does make good on its threat...which it's closer and closer to doing.

So, quite frankly, would the Vatican, whose understanding of geopolitics cannot be described either as serious or moral.

Apparently, Shea believes that "good Catholics" should sacrifice their brains to the prudential discretion of the Church in any and all matters. Apparently, Shea has shown that he certainly has done so.

Red Cardigan said...

Joe, I post Shea's "blather" because I happen to agree with it.

You realize that by your logic, Iran would be justified in attacking the US on the grounds that the US might well bomb Iran, several presidential candidates having publicly expressed their willingness to do so. Or does preemptive war only get a pass when we do it?

Siarlys Jenkins said...

It seems to me what this contrast highlights is that there is not, never was, and never can be, a religiously correct way to vote. Roman Catholics, who believe themselves to be sincerely representative of the One True Faith, passionately disagree with each other about what that is -- quite an accomplishment in a hierarchical church with a 1600 year old canon. No candidate fully conforms to anyone's version of What The Church Truly Believes. So, vote your individual conscience, distilled through whatever pragmatism you can systemically accept, and stop worrying about how A Good Christian Must Vote.

Joseph d'H proves the point by stepping outside the church, while insisting that the full authority claimed by the Bishops of Rome does vest in whatever it is Joseph believes a True Pope would have proclaimed. I often disagree with Shea, but I would never call it blather. He writes well, communicates clearly, thinks about what he says, and makes a reasonable case for a sincerely held set of beliefs and criteria.

I can't quite bring myself to describe Joseph d'H's contributions as "blather" or simplistic or vile personal attacks, at least not wholesale, because occasionally we have come to the point of some mutually respectful exchange of views, even at this very site. But, I can't find much substance in his dismissive character assassination of Shea.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Erin, name me one president who has publicly declared as a fundamental tenet of national policy that Iran must be obliterated from the face of the earth, the way Ahmadinejad has concerning Israel? Your attempt at moral equivalence falls on its face.

Joseph d'H proves the point by stepping outside the church, while insisting that the full authority claimed by the Bishops of Rome does vest in whatever it is Joseph believes a True Pope would have proclaimed.

Sialys, just what exactly are you talking about?

Besides, when it comes to assassinating Shea's character...well, you can't assassinate something that doesn't exist -- and I'm not the only person who believes that, either.

Red Cardigan said...

Joe, I'm going to say this once: I consider Mark a friend. If you want to dispute--civilly--his ideas which I've quoted here, that's fair. If you want to start attacking him personally, I'm going to stop posting your comments.

I'm not making a case for moral equivalence, by the way. I think Iran's saber-rattling re: Israel is ugly and vicious. But I also think it amounts to words. If we are entitled to go to war preemptively with any regime that has ever issued any ugly threat against any other nation, where does it end?

Red Cardigan said...

Just to be clear, Joe: that was your only warning re: Mark. I've seen a lot more evidence of his character than I've ever seen of your manners.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

I'm not making a case for moral equivalence, by the way. I think Iran's saber-rattling re: Israel is ugly and vicious. But I also think it amounts to words.

You think Iran's saber-rattling is just words? Why do you think they're trying to develop nuclear weapons? What kind of a universe do you live in, Erin? What do you really know about the world around you?

And where and when did I ever say that "we are entitled to go to war with any regime that has issued an ugly threat against any other nation"? Besides, do you seriously think Iran -- which is a menace not only to Israel but to Sunni Arab nations -- is just "any other nation"? Iran has an imperialist mindset that will stop at nothing but domination. Why do you think they support Hezbollah?

Thank God you did not live in the 1940s, Erin. You are no different than the naive isolationists who just wanted to ignore Nazi Germany, hoping it would go away. They were on the wrong side of history, then, and you are on the wrong side of history, today.

If your opinion accurately reflects the thinking of the majority of American Catholics today, then those Catholics not only are woefully naive but intellectually and morally bankrupt. If they are taking their leads from Church leadership, then that leadership is even more morally bankrupt.

Word verification: venty

Darn right, sister!

Red Cardigan said...

So, Joseph, should the United States have obliterated Germany sometime between 1933 and 1939 because Hitler was likely to become a great evil power? Would the international community have supported such an action? Do you think such an action is morally justified, especially when we *don't* yet know whether Iran will ever be willing or able to carry out its threats?

There is no such thing as a just preemptive war. I also can't drive through crime-ridden neighborhoods randomly shooting people in order to lower crime rates. Your total lack of a coherent moral vision in these matters is a bit frightening, frankly.

c matt said...

It seems to me what this contrast highlights is that there is not, never was, and never can be, a religiously correct way to vote. Roman Catholics, who believe themselves to be sincerely representative of the One True Faith, passionately disagree with each other about what that is

I would have to disagree. There certainly can be, and likley is a religiously correct way to vote. That RCs, or any other groups are conflicted about which is the correct way is due more to either ignorance or willingness to compromise on a particular aspect than it is due to the non-exsitence of a correct way.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Erin, I would suggest you improve your reading of history. When the Nazis attempted to re-claim the Rhineland in 1936 -- an area that the Versailles Treaty mandated remain demilitarized -- the French and the British had the chance to stop him, as Versailles allowed them to do. They didn't. The rest, as they say....

Hitler himself said that in 1936, the Wehrmacht would not have been able to fend off the French and would have had to retreat.

If, as the leader of a nation, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that another nation was about to attack after diplomatic efforts proved fruitless, you're damn right I would attack first. That doesn't mean I would obliterate the potential enemy. I would, however, destroy as much of that enemy's ability to make war as I possibly could (IOW, focus on military targets). Anything else would be morally irresponsible because no nation's leadership has the right to expose its citizens to attack.

Why do you think the Israelis have waited so long in Iran's case?

Besides, just because a bunch of academics who never had to make military decisions -- and face the consequences of those decisions --said that "there's no such thing as a just pre-emptive war" doesn't make them right. Not all nations are equal in their desire to remain at peace with their neighbors. History has proven that time and again.

If you want some examples from Church history, just look at the Siege of Vienna in 1683 and the Battle of Lepanto.

Regarding your example of crime-ridden neighborhoods, there's a big difference between taking out random citizens and taking out known gang members who flaunt their "authority" to victimize others.

As far as Hitler goes, I can think of at least six million reasons why a pre-emptive strike would have been justified. And if you don't understand what I'm talking about, then you really have no understanding of history or human nature.

The fact of the matter is, Erin, that your comments reflect the kind of moral equivalence and ignorance that pervade modern Catholicism today. That influence comes directly from the "liberalizing" tendencies of the 1960s.

Red Cardigan said...

Well, Joe, I'm happy to follow the Catholic Church as opposed to the Church of Joe. Show me where Christ ever called for preemptive war, why don't you? I seem to recall Him saying something about those who live by the sword dying by it. But then again, I'm sure you would find His pronouncements uncomfortably liberal on the subject.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Well, Joe, I'm happy to follow the Catholic Church as opposed to the Church of Joe.

That's right, Erin. Accuse people who think for themselves as forming their own church. Typical Catholic tactic. Also typical Scientologist tactic, as well.

Show me where Christ ever called for preemptive war, why don't you?

Show me where Christ ever said that the innocent should be abandoned to their fate when they can be protected, why don't you?

I seem to recall Him saying something about those who live by the sword dying by it.

What do you think happened to Hitler, Kadaffi, Saddam and Imperial Japan in 1945, for starters? Surely you don't think these were innocent parties, do you?

If you truly expect the Catholic Church to care genuinely for the innocent, then you really haven't been reading the news the past decade, have you?

Red Cardigan said...

See, Joe, I don't see you as thinking for yourself. I see you as parroting neo-con garbage, all designed to make war more fun and profitable. But go ahead and try to convince me otherwise.

PLT said...

shout out to Joe for standing up for common sense as opposed to some vaguely-defined shoot-yourself-in-the-foot principles that essentially amount to the mirror image of liberal smugness. it's good to know that if the U.S. faced a preventable attack in the future all "true" non-"neocon" Catholics could sleep easy and pat themselves on their principled backs.

that being said i do think the WWII comparisons get overblown at times. remember that Ahmadinejad is not actually the one in charge of Iran, Khamenei is. while i don't think we should be naive i think even this Islamic regime is more rational with regards to its own survival than some people want to give it credit for.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Well, if you think I'm "parroting neo-con garbage," then why should I bother to try to convince you when you don't address directly any of the assertions I've made before?

As far as my belief in war being "fun and profitable" is concerned, let me tell you something, young lady.

My father fought in WWII. He was a military police captain. He earned the Legion of Merit for quelling a riot in the town where he was a provost marshall. He also was the associate provost marshall of the Suez Canal ports with a British officer. So I know that war is not a "fun and profitable" exercise.

For you even to make such a statement -- which sounds like something Mark Shea would say, btw -- goes beyond denigrating all Americans who served in the armed forces. It effectively desecrates the graves of those who died.

Are you proud of your rhetorical facility now, Ms. Manning?

We're not going to convince each other, so we should just break off this conversation now.

You are a very ignorant woman. I hope your education will be neither too diffcult nor expensive.

Red Cardigan said...

PLT, it depends what you mean by "preventable attack." Is there actually an attack being made? Or did somebody whisper "WMDs!" in some chickenhawk's ear?

Joe, my husband served this country honorably in the Air Force, as did both his parents. Just so you know.

And my husband and other military and former military I know think we'd be beyond stupid to start bombing Iran unless they've committed some hostile act and the international community's on board with stopping them. Bombing them because they want a nuke and might get it doesn't make the cut when we're talking about putting the lives of American soldiers on the line.

But thanks for the "you are a very ignorant woman" quote; I may have to put it on my sidebar. :)

Anonymous said...

"Hold your nose and vote for one of these clowns, because even though they're all deeply flawed and have no real ideas..."

That is an accurate description of all the candidates with one exception: Ron Paul. All the other candidates differ from one another only in small degrees (and differ from Obama only in slightly larger ones), but Ron Paul presents a genuine alternative, and one that truly has depth and is worth considering at the very least. I don't agree with every one of his positions, but his proposals (and his political philosophy) expand the field of possibilities beyond the pathetically narrow turf that both parties have been battling on for the past half century.

"Alas, that sign is immediately contradicted by the reality that none of the candidates have been able to inspire much more than lukewarm enthusiasm among the voters."

...except Ron Paul!

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

PLT, thanks so much for your support.

Ms. Manning, I suggest you re-read the third paragraphh of my post dated January 6, 2012, 12:44 p.m. for my response to your query.

As far as being an ignorant woman goes, that description will fit until you can answer challenges with something other than cliched snark.

Until then, I commend you to Col. Nathan Jessup.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

it's good to know that if the U.S. faced a preventable attack in the future all "true" non-"neocon" Catholics could sleep easy and pat themselves on their principled backs.

Or become dhimmis, just like Cardinal Law when he bowed toward Mecca in a suburban Boston mosque and prayed nearly 10 years ago.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I'm sorry I haven't had a chance to chime in sooner... I've been enjoying a coach class Amtrak ride for the past 18 hours, but the place I'm staying has free wi-fi, so here I am again.

I know Joseph truly believes everything he says. Like many brands of True Believers (some of whom have been Roman Catholic), Joseph is both pained and infuriated that the rest of us don't see things his way when HE is so absolutely convinced they are THE TRUTH!

I should note that my remarks about Joseph "stepping outside the church, while insisting that the full authority claimed by the Bishops of Rome does vest in whatever it is Joseph believes a True Pope would have proclaimed," is a generalization based on my recollection of several of his past comments at this site. He has left me with the impression that he believes there is a True Canon, that it is knowable to Man, that if the Roman Catholic Church adhered to the True Dogma which he adheres to, the Popes would indeed be correct, but they are not, because they have strayed from The Truth that Christ came to teach.

If I have a wrong impression Joseph, please explain what it is you DO believe, and I will take it from there.

Joseph has a legitimate point about the Rhineland, but it is a far DIFFERENT point than the earlier arguments he seeks to bolster.

In the case of the Rhineland, Hitler acted with deliberate disregard for a treaty obligation, seized a defined territory he was not entitled to seize, had his heart in his throat waiting to see if Britain and France had any spine at all, and was allowed to get away with it.

As Ron Paul correctly points out, that is quite different from the situation with Iran. Whatever Iran is doing, it does within its own borders. It has not, to date, invaded any other nation. It has rattled sabers. It would be national suicide to USE nuclear weapons, when nations prepared to obliterate Iran IF IT DID SO have so many more. But, as Ron Paul also points out, a small country possessed of a few nuclear weapons might well feel safer from invasion by large powers.

Not a good situation, but not one justifying invasion.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I write separately to respond to cmatt, who has sort of gotten lost in the sound and fury of the Hippolito Wars.

First, I agree that there is an objective Truth to the sum total universe in which we live and whatever lies beyond it, and that truth belongs to, flows from, perhaps also conditions in some manner, a universal, omnipotent, transcendent deity.

Accordingly, in some sense, there could be a way to vote (or abstain from voting) in any situation that would best please and serve that deity. On the other hand, perhaps the deity is supremely indifferent to the outcome of most or some or all elections.

I would further agree that when voters of good moral character are "conflicted," "about which is the correct way," it "is due more to either ignorance or willingness to compromise."

But that ignorance, and willingness to compromise, IS the human condition. It has, throughout history, afflicted devout believers, pagans, agnostics, hypocrites of various outward persuasions, priests, bishops, Popes, patriarchs and heretics. There is division even WITHIN hierarchical churches, precisely because, we don't exactly know. We are all ignorant -- and I would add, without attributing it to anyone else, including the Holy Father.

So, while there probably is a morally correct way to vote, there is no religiously correct way to vote, in the sense of an organized religion, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, or any other.

A Novak article I perused some years ago, critiquing the pagan left from the position of the Catholic right, honestly alerted readers "there is also a pagan right and a Catholic left." One thing the Catholic left and the Catholic right have in common is resort to this argument when the stated position of church authority disagrees with their own:

"The curia is authoritative when it correctly expresses what the church teaches." But of course, each has its own opinion about what position "correctly expresses what the church teaches." This phrase is the ultimate weasel for dissidents within a hierarchical institution.

Mary Alice Phillips said...

I'm with Erin and Mark, and most importantly, with the Church. Read the Catechism about torture and war. And I agree with Mark about voting for someone who does not ask you to cooperate with evil. I'm voting for Ron Paul.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

PLT, thank you for your support.

Erin and Mary Alice, did you both know that God ordered the Israelites to launch what could be considered a pre-emptive strike against the various Canaanite peoples in the Old Testament?

You must completely destroy the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, just as the Lord your God has commanded you. This will prevent the people of the land from teaching you to imitate their detestable customs in the worship of their gods, which would cause you to sin deeply against the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy 20: 17-18)

Then it came about on the seventh day that they rose early at the dawning of the day and marched around the city in the same manner seven times...And it came about at the seventh time, when the priests blew the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout! For the LORD has given you the city...only Rahab the harlot and all who are with her in the house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent....So the people shouted, and priests blew the trumpets; and...the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight ahead, and they took the city. And they utterly destroyed everything in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword (Joshua 6:15-21).

One day Samuel said to Saul, “It was the Lord who told me to anoint you as king of his people, Israel. Now listen to this message from the Lord!...I have decided to settle accounts with the nation of Amalek for opposing Israel when they came from Egypt. Now go and completely destroy the entire Amalekite nation -- men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys.” So Saul mobilized his army...went to a town of the Amalekites and lay in wait in the valley....Then Saul slaughtered the Amalekites from Havilah all the way to Shur, east of Egypt. (1 Samuel 15: 1-7)

Of course, these are unique situations in which God used the Israelites to execute his condemnation of the Canaanite people for barbaric idolatry (that included child sacrifice) -- and only because the Israelites had a covenant with God as His people. These aren't necessarily meant to be replicated by secular governments.

But if you are going to "stand with the Church" in saying that all pre-emptive attacks are, by their very nature, immoral, then you are standing against divine revelation.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

BTW, here's a devout Catholic who actually supports Santorum:

http://throwthebumsoutin2010.blogspot.com/2012/01/support-santorum-75-do-not-support.html

You see, Erin, Mark Shea doesn't speak for all "conservative Catholics." ;)

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Did Google identify my response to cmatt as spam?

Red Cardigan said...

Siarlys, yes, Google did! I've tried to free it up. Let me know if it doesn't show up.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Siarlys, I become "pained and infuriated" when people (such as Erin) respond to my comments and assertions with facile rhetoric, cliches and snark. Until they actually start to address the issues I raise, such people do not deserve intellectual respect.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Joseph, I haven't found a great deal in your own utterances worthy of "intellectual respect." Your infuriated (not infuriating, infuriated) sincerity elicits a bit of sympathy, as do your occasional expressions of respect for those who disagree with you, but your sense of righteousness has run way ahead of your capacity for rational or logical thought.

There is, I concede, a certain logic to your lengthy Old Testament citation. However, one must wonder why God gave such explicit orders circa 1200 BC, but did NOT give such orders concerning the Babylonians, Persians, Macedonians, or even the Romans, and appears to have never done so since? (Various humans, including humans holding religious office, have pronounced that God commands us to go slay such-and-so, but God hasn't said it himself.

As always, with Old Testament origins, I pose such questions to those who would know the original context. My reliable Talmudic scholar source informs me that there were peculiarly and uniquely evil characteristics, particularly of the Amalekites (also mentioned by Islamic scholars studing pre-Hegira Arabic traditions), and the Canaanite tribes. Offering their first-born as a burnt sacrifice is only one poignant example.

God said to slay the Amalekites does not over-rule the totality of what Jesus taught. "I change not" saith the Lord, but WE have changed quite a bit, and so have God's expectations of us. Perhaps there are valid, rational reasons why, occasionally, we must engage in torture... or perhaps not. But one can hardly say one is obedient to the Beatitudes when committing torture.

The prohibition may stem from two points: (1) the act of torturing endangers the immortal soul of the torturer, objectively, whatever the motive, and, (2) there is no evil in the world today so intrinsic and beyond redemption that God has an imperative desire that torture be inflicted.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

First of all, Siarlys, I wasn't talking about torture. I was talking about pre-emptive military action. Big difference.

Your Talmudic scholar is correct in saying that the practices of the Canaanite peoples were so abhorent that God demanded their obliteration. But God had another reason: The Israelites would be (and were) trapped by these practices, which interferred with their covenential responsibility to be God's oracle to the world. As a result, God wound up punishing His own people by having the Assyrians and Babylonians conquer and exile them.

I also wrote -- if you actually read the post on the subject -- that the incidents in question are unique situations that aren't necessarily meant to be replicated by secular governments.

The whole point was to contrast Erin's belief that "pre-emptive strikes are always immoral" with divine revelation.

BTW, Siarlys, have the human heart and human motivations really changed over the centuries? If so, then why was Christ's atoning death -- which was meant to be for all time -- necessary?

Siarlys Jenkins said...

One difference between us Joseph, is that I don't pretend to know all of the thoughts, intentions, and purposes of the Lord God Almighty. He's omniscient, I'm not, neither are you. One reason I'm not Roman Catholic is I don't believe the Bishop of Rome, or the college of cardinals, or the Curia, even comes close either.

Have the human heart and human motivations really changed over the centuries... well, there have been times and places where children were literally deemed to be the property of their fathers, who could kill them at will without the slightest interference from neighbors, cousins, or any civil authority. Just one example. I'd call that a pretty significant difference from today.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Siarlys, the Bible is considered divinely inspired by all orthodox Christians. If it's divinely inspired, then it reveals the basics of God's nature and character. If it reveals those basics, then people not only can know but are expected to know who God is and how He wants humanity to live.

The example you cite demonstrates how some societal norms have changed more than the human heart or motivation. Slavery is abhorrent today when it was normal in the United States in the mid-19th century.

But remember that in Muslim societies, fathers can still kill their children -- and husbands, their wives -- in "honor killings." Moreover, the human race's tendency to lie, cheat, steal, murder, defraud, etc. has not substantially changed.

Here's an example that proves my point: If the Holocaust had any positive value, it was to show the ultimate consequences of anti-Semitism. Yet not only does anti-Semitism still exist, it's actively cultivated in the Arab-Muslim world.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Tautological my dear Joseph.

Your first statement assumes that we share a common definition of what is "orthodox" Christianity, and also agree on what to reject as "unorthodox." I'm a lower-case unitarian, for starters.

I also adhere to the understanding that the Greek term used by Paul (crudely translated "heresy") had connotations of party or faction. Consequently, orthodoxy is merely the heresy in power, as distinct from the heresies out of power, all of which tend to persecute those of us trying not to be heretics at all. Your bombastic self-righteousness, in this context, is revealed to be sheer heresy.

Second, you assume that a structurally unsound human being can DISCERN all that a complete and perfect rendition of the Word of God reveals -- a rather dubious axiom, methinks.

You will probably respond "I said THE BASICS, not every detail and nuance." OK, but are each of us sorting out with perfection what is basic and what is less essential? I consider "the basics" to be the two commandments on which hang all the law and the prophets. All else is mere detail.

For a moment I thought we could agree that "He wants humanity to live." Then I noticed that your use of this phrase was conditional.

It is not true that "in Muslim societies" fathers "can still kill their children." There are over one billion Muslims in the world, a large portion of which either live in civil societies that do not permit "honor killings," and/or adhere to branches of Islam that do not either. Honor killings are rife in the cultural roots of the Levant, which has had an undeniable influence on religious teaching as well as cultural custom.

Honor killing was, until quite recently, a serious problem in Roman Catholic Brazil as well. In fact, the highest profile honor killing of a teen age daughter in the USA was committed by the girl's Muslim Palestinian father AND her Brazilian Roman Catholic mother.

Your examples would, otherwise, appear to prove little or nothing.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

c'mon cmatt, its getting boring just batting the ball around with Joseph. Let's keep a little variety in the discussion.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

First, Siarlys, if you're a "lower-case unitarian," then you would (I assume) automatically reject such doctrines as Christ's divinity or the Trinity. If so, then the divine inspiration of Scripture isn't an issue to you.

Second, you assume that a structurally unsound human being can DISCERN all that a complete and perfect rendition of the Word of God reveals...

You are right. I assume that structurally unsound human beings, if they're literate, can read for themselves. They don't necessarily need to "discern...a complete and perfect rendition" to apply "the basics" to their lives.

OK, but are each of us sorting out with perfection what is basic and what is less essential?

Obviously, individuals and groups will differ as to what those are; otherwise, there wouldn't be as many churches as there are. Nevertheless, some things that are basic -- like the Ten Commandments -- would be basic for all Christians and Jews.

It is not true that "in Muslim societies" fathers "can still kill their children." There are over one billion Muslims in the world...

Obviously, I don't mean every single Muslim individual or society. Generalizations have exceptions. Nevertheless, the fact that credible Muslim imams, theologians and assorted clerics have made no headway in stopping honor killings in the Levant -- if they're even interested in doing so -- speaks volumes. So does their encouragement of anti-Semitism.

As far as generalizations go, just because a minority of any group might do something doesn't mean that such a minority has no power to influence others. Not all Germans became Nazis and not all Russians became Communists. Besides, the Bolsheviks were a minority in the Russian social democratic movement before taking power, and the Nazis never won a majority of Reichstag seats (though they had a large plurality) before taking power. But the "majority" was either too weak, divided, disorganized or apathetic to see what was coming and try to stop it. The rest, as they say....

word verification: relli\

Yes, relli. ;)

Tony said...

(Wheee!!! I get to try out the new comment policy :))

Republicans, and those of their friends who while not actually being members of the party still tend to share some of their ideals, may be forgiven for having hoped that the present election cycle might have produced an actual leader, instead of a group which is clearly still trying to play one on TV.

What I get tired of is the Magesterium of Shea (and the assorted sycophantic clones in his comment area).

If we don't vote for "Empty Suit Man" or "Torture Man", we'll get "Infanticide Man". So while Shea refuses to hold his nose and vote for one of the "clowns" the Republicans have put forth (or maybe he wants to write in Pope Benedict), he may become materially responsible for the guy who leaves survivors of botched abortions to die on the table serving for another 4 years.

While Shea was expounding on his blog (and begging for money to do so), I was walking my neighborhood circulating petitions to run for Republican Committee Member.

Did you ever wonder who picks these clowns we get to vote for in the primaries? Well, let me clue you in, Committee Members do (or as they are called in some places, "Precinct Committeemen"). These people pick the local leaders who go on to pick the county leaders who go on to pick the state leaders who go on to pick the RNC Chairman. You think the chairman is the most powerful position in the party. It's not. It's the committeemen who hold the Chairman's fate in their hands.

Did you know that almost 50% of committee positions are unfilled? That's right. That means that if you get the requisite number of signatures (usually 25-30, it varies by state/precinct), you're in. Can you imagine the candidates we would be able to field if all of those positions were filled by God-loving faithful Catholics?

But I don't live in fantasy land, I live in the here and now. I'm one guy, but now I'm one guy who will attend the meetings, vote for the best person for local leadership and watch them closely to see who they vote for. I will try and convince my conservative/religious/Catholic friends to run for committee and I will help them gather signatures (it's fun, you get to meet folks).

But until then, I'm going to pick the best candidate of the pack, and dedicate to them until they drop out, then I'll move on to the next best, and so on. When the music stops, and there's one guy sitting in one chair, I'll swear fealty to him until the election and work my tail off (even if it's Ron Paul). There is nothing more important than crow-bar-ing the current Baby Killer In Chief out of his seat in the Oval Office, and consigning him to a permanent vacation to play as much golf as he'd like.

My current pick is "Torture Man". I believe I'm going to end up with "Empty Suit Man". But I'm going to work as hard as I can to make sure we don't get "Infanticide Man".

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Way to go, Tony! You're absolutely right not only about Shea but about how candidates are chosen.

Red Cardigan said...

Both you and Tony are wrong about Shea, but I don't need to point out that someone who's prepared to put his support behind TortureMan really isn't the arbiter of Catholic moral voting.

And Joe, just be aware that I'm fully cognizant of your history with Mark Shea. Let me just say that if you ever attempt to use this blog to reignite your personal attacks against him, you will be immediately banned from commenting, full stop, no explanations, no second chances.

Tony said...

but I don't need to point out that someone who's prepared to put his support behind TortureMan really isn't the arbiter of Catholic moral voting.

Actually Erin, I don't think you can really say that. We are required in our voting to try to minimize the evil that might be caused.

Not voting for either candidate, or voting for an obvious impossible third party choice (or write in) may give one a temporary sense of self-rightousness that they didn't vote for a particular sinner, but the long term consequences may be worse.

For example, say you are pro-life. And the choice is between Obama and Rudy Guiliani. You might say you can't vote for either of them because they support abortion. I would say that I have to vote for Rudy (while holding my nose), because under Rudy doesn't believe in abortion outside the womb like Obama.

I'm going to do my best to see that the best Republican gets nominated. However, if by chance the worst Republican gets nominated, I'm going to do my best to see that he gets elected. Because the alternative is much more evil (especially in lame-duck mode).

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Assume nothing but responsibility, Joseph, and you will be much more credible. Being a lower case unitarian means I do not believe there is any credible Biblical reason to assume that God is incongruously divided into "three persons." It means no more and no less than that: God is One, as the Bible, including the Gospels, clearly teach us.

I might say I'm agnostic on Christ's divinity, but not about the existence of God, one God, who made heaven and earth. I accept the gospel stories because I'm sure God meant them to teach us something important about God, and I really don't much care whether they are literal physical events or not. Arguing that question is a fruitless exercise.

More important, Jews reject such doctrines as Christ's divinity, or rather, deny that Yehoshua ben Yosef was the Messiah (Greeks translated that "Christos"), but just try to tell a rabbi that the Torah was not divinely inspired. The divine inspiration of Scripture is an issue to me, however inconvenient that may be for you as you construct your latest sophistry.

Second, I can read Mein Kampf for myself, but I probably would reject most of what it says. I could read an advanced physics text book for myself, but I probably would not comprehend it. I can read the Qu'ran for myself, but I suspect I would neither understand it's intended meaning perfectly, nor fully accept it.

"Obviously individuals and groups will differ as to what those are..." Case closed. You have made my point, even if we do agree on the Ten Commandments. To Jews, incidentally, the "Ten Commandments" are not the essence of what Moses brought down from the rather low hill temporarily named Sinai. They have 613 mitzvoth, each one of which is equally binding. In their view, gentiles have 6-7, not ten or 613, which we must obey.

You are correct that not all Germans became Nazis and not all Russians became communists. Nor have all Muslims embraced a right of a man to commit honor killings upon his wife and children. Again, you have made my point most excellently. Thank you. The minority of Muslims who support honor killings may be more influential than the Fundamentalist LDS who slit the throats of disobedient wives, but they are not "in charge" in the manner of either the Nazi or Communist parties.

Note to Tony: Your hand-picked candidates then have to run in primaries. In some states, they are having to run in open primaries where the top two of any party get to vote. Your sneak attack on the smoke-filled back room is going to come up empty.