Thursday, October 29, 2009

Romano Guardini and Pope Benedict: An Encounter of Two Original Thinkers

One was born in Italy but moved to Germany, the other was born in Germany and moved to Italy. The pair wrote several similar works. One wrote a book called The Lord and the other penned Jesus of Nazareth. One authored The Essence of Christianity and the other later wrote Introduction to Christianity. The younger wrote Introduction to the Spirit of the Liturgy and the older authored The Spirit of the Liturgy.

Father Romano Guardini was born in Italy in 1885 and lived and died in Germany. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, was born in Germany in 1927 and has lived in Rome since 1981. There are many similarities in their approach to reality and Cardinal Ratzinger wrote “…we are taught by Guardini, the essence of Christianity is not an idea, not a system of thought, not a plan of action. The essence of Christianity is a Person: Jesus Christ himself.” This thought is echoed in Pope Benedict’s writings. Guardini’s response to the failure of liberalism was valuable and he was able identify dangers to Europe brought about by its philosophical and cultural collapse. Guardini identified a way forward and his ideas deeply influenced a young 20 year old student in Freising, Joseph Ratzinger. This encounter was important as both have made inestimable contributions to the Church.


See Also: Pope Benedict has a Father: Guardini & A Decisive Encounter

Richard Dawkins on What He Really Thinks of the Catholic Church

Guess who he says is a leading candidate for Greatest force for evil in the world. . .

Interviewed in Newsweek

For a good fisking of this interview, see Know-Nothings by Christopher Johnson.

Obama-Themed Abortion Displays at UC Berkeley

The Genocide Awareness Project in collaboration with Berkeley Students for Life set up huge billboards with images of aborted children next to images and words of President Obama on the UC Berkeley Campus, one of the most liberal in the nation. This display, in what is considered the "birthplace of the free speech movement," is especially significant and certainly a great victory for the pro-life movement. Read the full story on LifeSiteNews. For pictures of the billboards, which contain strong graphic images, click here.

Law & Order's "Dignity"

NBC aired this episode of Law & Order in which a Supreme Court case falls apart for Cutter when Rubirosa is touched by an abortion nurse's testimony.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hate Crime Signed into Law

At around 2:30 pm this afternoon, the Hate Crimes legislation was signed into law and this makes the U.S. more committed to the culture of death. We have chosen to reduce free speech and become more like Canada and the nations of Europe. There was a lot at stake in the last U.S. national election and our country is now firmly a post-Christian society. The consequences to the family and our culture will be profound. We are witnessing the time when our government has decided to stand against the human person and against reason.


Massachusetts and the Pandemic Control Bill

Radical "pandemic control bill" would give MA broad powers to enter & search homes, take property, detain people without warrants, require vaccinations, and more. Read how this bill expands the powers of the state and limits citizens' freedom and basic parental rights.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Catholic Education: the Existential Crisis

American Catholic education is suffering an existential crisis. It has lost its purpose and has taken on the identity of secular schools. Parents seem to be satisfied if the students perform better on standardized tests than public schools. Many principals and school board members only desire to offer a good college preparatory program with a few token religion classes. Catholic schools do not exist for standardized tests nor for college preparation, if they only serve this purpose than perhaps we should call them post-Catholic or secular-religious schools. Fr Harden famously stated that the quickest way for our children to lose their faith is to send them to a Catholic school. To overcome this cultural reduction, he suggested that parents become educators and turn to home schooling as a way to provide a better education and give children opportunities to deepen and maintain their faith. I believe in home schooling, but I also believe that Catholic education can come to exist again if it can see where it has given into philosophic worldviews that directly oppose the faith. It can again introduce children to Christ and to reality. Catholic schools seem to have succumbed to cultural reductions that wish to make children good consumers and, unfortunately, are adapted to mediocre thought. Let’s be honest, even on the issues that matter to parents who use materialistic ideas to judge education, our schools are failing. The first priority should be religious formation and to provide a comprehensive introduction to reality in its fullness. We have to be strong enough to challenge the nihilistic environment of contemporary American culture and ignore standardized tests. It is time to stop bowing to accreditation agencies that have integrated this reduction which is so deeply present in our society. We have to give parents a primary role in the education process which means that teachers must be more open and realize that their primary task is to serve the family. Catholic teachers are not educational bureaucrats, they are witnesses and they must continually renew their faith and keep their personal desire for reality alive. If we allow Catholic schools to be defined by secular society, they will serve a nihilistic purpose and further destroy what is left of Western civilization. To everyone involved in Catholic education, it is time to reexamine your ideas and overcome all the ideologies that seek to destroy the Christian proposal that we find in our culture. Let’s renew Catholic education and again propose Christ.

See Fr. Giussani’s Teaching: Introduction to Reality in Its Totality

The Risk of Educating: An Address by Christopher Bacich

Sunday, October 18, 2009

James Hitchcock on Liberal Christianity and Secularism

James Hitchcock shows the link between a reduced, liberal Christianity and growing secularization in this 1996 article published in the New Oxford Review. This piece ends with a quote by Flannery O’Connor:

"One of the effects of modern liberal Protestantism has been gradually to turn religion into poetry and therapy, to make truth vaguer and vaguer and more and more relative, to banish intellectual distinctions, to depend on feeling instead of thought, and gradually to come to believe that God has no power, that he cannot communicate with us, cannot reveal himself to us, indeed has not done so, and that religion is our own sweet invention."

Saturday, October 17, 2009

What Outsourcing Has Done to the U.S. High Tech Manufacturing Infrastructure

Three recent articles in the Harvard Business Review argue that as a result of unchecked outsourcing, the U.S. is losing not only the ability to manufacture high tech goods, but also the ability to design and develop innovative new products.

Outsourcing Is High Tech's Subprime-Mortgage Fiasco by Robert H. Hayes, The U.S. Is Outsourcing Away Its Competitive Edge by Gary P. Pisano, and The U.S. Can't Manufacture the Kindle and That's a Problem by Willy C. Shih.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Economist as Official Spokesman for the Culture of Death

The Economist is promoting abortion in the developing countries by claiming that abortion rates are high even in states where it is illegal. Their argument suggests that since abortion cannot be stopped, governments should make the procedure safe and sterile. To be consistent, the same argument can be made in behalf of murder. Although it is illegal, no state in the world has been able to stop the taking of human life. Since murder cannot be prevented, the state should provide criminals with weapons to make it possible to commit this crime more easily. The Economist’s argument would have to be expanded to include all forms of offenses that have not been eliminated.

The Economist is published in the UK and is a willing participant in the marketing of the culture of death. Life is to be discarded if it interferes with economic efficiency. To the extent that we have accepted abortion, our culture endorses this world view. Our culture looks down on those who choose to have large families and find themselves struggling with poverty. It is considered virtuous to be selfish and have smaller families so that more stuff can be consumed. Culturally, we have integrated this economic worldview that subverts everything in our civilization to efficiency and selfishness. Adam Smith in A Theory of Moral Sentiments observes that maximizing wealth cannot produce happiness. Chesterton offers a similar warning in Brave New Family where he notes that he does not trust the support economists and conservative parties offer the family. He recognized early on that the Enlightenment world view cannot be relied on and economists would support the family’s destruction or impoverishment if this leads to greater profitability.

American society shares a legacy with British philosophy and also serves to advance the culture of death. Our new administration’s foreign policy seeks to expand abortion rights in developing countries. We are offering the very same argument as the Economist and are now marketing death to the poor. Our culture argues for less people to improve financial viability but we have made authentic happiness more difficult to achieve. The human heart can never find fulfillment in materialist logic or economic thought.

Friday, October 9, 2009

President Obama Wins the Nobel Peace Prize

The Nobel Committee has awarded President Obama with the Peace Prize for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." Mr. Jagland, chairman of the Committee said, “We are not awarding the prize for what may happen in the future, but for what he has done in the previous year.”

The press release also reads that "Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population."

What greatest value is there, shared by the majority of the world's population, if not life itself?

And what has Obama done in his 37 weeks as President? Rescinded the Mexico City Policy, assured his continual support for China's one-child policy, confirmed his never-ending promises to Planned Parenthood and the alike, and proposed a national health care system that would fund abortion.

There cannot be any world diplomacy or international understanding without respect for human life from conception to natural death. There cannot be true peace without a commitment to life. President Obama is certainly not a champion of this and should not have been awarded a peace prize.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Review - David Harvey's The New Imperialism

David Harvey's The New Imperialism

Perhaps it is a little strange to review the work of a historical materialist on a blog focusing on Catholic culture. David Harvey, although a Marxist, is one of the most important contemporary social theorists and has written The Limits to Capital, The Condition of Postmodernity, A Brief History of Neoliberalism, and all of these books are thoughtful, well-written, and interesting. The New Imperialism is a brief historical account of U.S. foreign policies leading to the 1973 economic crisis that started the long-term decline of the U.S. and resulting in neoliberal policies that sought to preserve hegemony by turning to financial capital. While the U.S. was focused on destroying unions at home, it engaged in an expansion of an ideological form of free market capitalism that sought to get emerging market (3rd world) states to privatize, eliminate trade barriers, open domestic market to foreign banks, and give foreign corporations full ownership and repatriation rights. Within the U.S. there is broad support for these policies and the poor states were forced to adopt provisions when they were most vulnerable through the IMF and the World Bank. How did the U.S. use these institutions to increase their global wealth?

The answer, Harvey notes, is found in the U.S. transition from manufacturing to financial wealth that took place at this time. We have to contrast this time-frame with the years following the Bretton Woods summit when the gold-standard foreign exchange system was in place. At this time, individuals could hold their savings in local currencies without fearing a total loss because their currency could always be exchanged for a fixed amount of U.S. dollars and dollars were exchangeable for a fixed amount of gold. This allowed emerging market countries to all have a growing, even if small, local economy. After Nixon ended the gold standard and the dollar was not tied to any currency or precious metal, a series of crises started to emerge in the third world. The small domestic economies of emerging market states all became vulnerable in this move because individuals and families could no longer place their savings in local banks where inflation could destroy their value at any time. Where did these savings go? The primary beneficiary to the post-gold standard era was New York City which became entrenched as the financial center of the global economy. The financial instability of currencies served to strengthen NYC and help preserve the U.S. position as a hegemonic power. It also did this by starving small manufacturing firms in most of the third world by moving local money to foreign banks. If you have ever traveled through these countries, you frequently come to small manufacturing towns that are dead and abandoned. Many jobs were lost in foreign countries as a result of this switch to financial power.

Tragically, this account tells only half of the story. Within the Third World this economic downturn slowly started to cause local currency crisis and the IMF would step in to lend money if the receiving state would make economic changes. The first change was that they needed to float their currency and this would inevitably devalue it. At this point, U.S. enterprises would come and purchase the local businesses for a mere fraction of their worth. These currency devaluations could be so severe that foreign enterprises could not but purchase financial enterprises. David Harvey calls this process “Accumulation by Dispossession” and he explains how the U.S. was able to maintain its economic hegemony by diverting funds from poor countries. NYC also played an important role in this process because if a state did not adopt recommended neoliberal modifications, it would give the country a lower financial rating and the flow of funds would come to a halt. This is problematic for a state where its own citizens are providing funds to the very banks that now refuse to lend to it. If a state refused to open its market to the U.S. there were other means employed to get the poor country to cooperate. A financial crisis could be triggered by financial institutions in NYC that would force the IMF to step-in and get the country to open itself to U.S. enterprises.

The title of this book accuses the U.S. of engaging in imperialistic practices with these methods. If Harvey is right, and there is much evidence that he is, then the U.S. economy has survived since the 1980s by causing economic crises in poor states and then using this opportunity to buy up local property. Also, our banks gained vast deposits through savings accounts sent by families in vulnerable states that simply wished to preserve their wealth. Poor countries throughout the world have been subsidizing the U.S. by filling our banks and by seeing their domestic profits also sent there. In other words, our economy has avoided crisis by keeping poor states in a subservient position where we drained their wealth and preserved our place in the international system.

This work provides some insight into the negative consequences of U.S. foreign policy that have made the lives of the poorest families more difficult. Harvey is a materialist and there are philosophic weaknesses in his assumptions about the human person. Although he does not believe in justice, this work reveals a fundamental distinction between the way the U.S. regards its own citizens and individuals and families in poor countries. We preserve our standard of living by exploiting the vulnerable and weak. The tragic irony is that our policies may be used against us in the current economic downturn. If so, I wonder if we will be as silent when we are the ones suffering injustice.

Income concentration: Top heavy | The Economist

Monday, October 5, 2009

McLouvre

Art lovers from all over the world will soon be able to appreciate the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo while munching on big macs and french fries as a McCafe' is scheduled to open next month in the Louvre Museum in Paris. While the new 'restaurant' will be located in the Carrousel, a stonewalled gallery that houses other restaurants and shops and food will not be permitted outside of this area, employees of the museum are worried that McDonald's "unpleasant odours" will spread all over and damage the atmosphere of the Louvre.

According to the Daily Telegraph, "The Louvre has the right to protest against boutiques it considers fail to meet such criteria. However, the museum told the Daily Telegraph it had agreed to a "quality" McCafé and a McDonald's in place by the end of the year, which it said was "in line with the museum's image"". French culture is really going down the toilet if the Louvre's image is in line with McDonald's! I still have to see the day when this corporation produces 'quality' food and who knows, maybe someday soon we will see the Egyptian mummies dressed up as Ronald McDonald!

This is clearly a sign of the decline of France and what we call civilization.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Feast of the Chinese Martyrs



While the Chinese communist government is celebrating its 60th anniversary today, we remember St. Augustine Zhao Rong and his 119 companions who were canonized nine years ago today. Today is their feast day. We ask these martyrs to remember the people of China, who suffer under a regime that has taken more innocent human life than any other regime in world history.

The Dollar

In what can be only bad news for American families, there is reason to believe that as soon as our economy starts to rebound there will be rapid action by investors to move their savings into other currencies. As a result the dollar will decline in value and all those imports we consume will be much more expensive. When our economy is in recession our standard of living drops, but as soon as our economy starts to grow again the expected fall in value of the dollar will again lower our living standard. Even economic recovery may serve to make life more difficult for families and it may be along time before things start to improve.

It is also important to note that the U.S. dollar is in relative trouble globally and there may be increased pressure to replace it with the Euro, Yuan, or a new currency. Jeffrey Sachs observed that the U.S. has already passed on the "baton" to the G-20 as our economy is becoming less important globally.

This is bad new for families in the United States. Even our economic recovery may make life more difficult. Fortunately, we do not hope in economics or the dollar which, even in the best times, cannot answer the needs of the heart.