March 31, 2016

CathCon Daily - 3/31/2016

The site I use for my news feeds is down, and I need to travel today, so I am posting a piece from my archives. Many of my newer readers may not have seen this. It's called "Fisking the Millennial Whine," and comes from October of last year. Enjoy!


Neal Dewing, at "The Federalist" blog, has already fisked this post by Lisa Earle McLeod and her (millennial) daughter, Elizabeth McLeod: "Why Millennials Keep Dumping You: An Open Letter to Management." But it needs more response. I just have to try and get my emotions under control and try to be somewhat charitable, at least in tone.

Let's start at the very beginning: This post was cowritten with Elizabeth McLeod, a millennial and cum laude graduate of Boston University, and daughter of Lisa Earle McLeod.

If this is a post about why millennials keep quitting their positions, why is Mom a co-author? What role could she possibly fill in writing about why her daughter is quitting? Is there some truth to the claims that millennials, in addition to being "raised to believe [they] could change the world," also have difficulty managing their lives and, in some cases, an inability to function at university at all" due to helicopter parenting? Dear Ms. McLeod (the Younger): if you want anyone to take you seriously, change the world without involving your parents at every step. Everything you write and publish like this is a job interview - if an employer thinks Mom is going to be ghosting around the workplace, helping out, offering suggestions, and doing your job, you're not going to be hired. As noted by Ashley Stahl, in Forbes (which also links to this study), when she discovered a woman made a conference call with her Mom in situ:
The client paperwork I printed in advance of the call confirmed that there was no confusion on my end: Rachel was a 26-year-old Cornell graduate. She spent the last two years serving with Teach for America . She had a master’s degree in education.
She was looking to hire me because she wanted to get clarity on her next career move – arguably one of the most important and independent decisions any of us will tackle in adulthood.
… So why did her mom need to be on the call?
With that said, early in the letter comes: "One of us, Elizabeth, wrote this letter." 

Wait. You said Mom was a co-author.  Then, she's explicitly taken out of that role. Apparently, Mom is not a "co-author" but simply a person who gave you a place to voice your concerns. But, one is left with the sneaking suspicion that Mom was also involved in the editing and composition of the letter itself.  Let's talk about this for a moment. Soon after your authorial confusion, you (both of you? one of you?) claim that retaining millennials is a "burning issue" because:
We’re the ones who’ve mastered social media, who have the energy of a thousand suns, and who will knock back 5-dollar macchiatos until the job is done perfectly.
Except, apparently, many of you cannot do the job perfectly. Look at your incoherence about who, exactly, is filling the roles in the blog post. Many millennials cannot write, and they often cannot read. For example:
I'm a millennial, but quite frankly, I'm embarrassed by our laziness. We have a hard time reading something longer than an odd-numbered numbered listicle. We don't have the patience to absorb a text or question the arguments embedded in the sentences. We want to reach a conclusion without having to think critically. Preferably, in under 140 characters - Madeline Hill
While they are undoubtedly social-media savvy, living their lives online in 140 characters or fewer, many of the younger potential workers lack very basic skills because of it, according to some employers.
“Writing skills -- people don’t write as much as they used to. They’re texting, so they forget to write in complete sentences and articulate their written skills professionally,” said Jeff Dunn, an Intel campus relations manager. - Claire Doan
“I spent a considerable amount of time explaining the process, sent a detailed document on how to write a nonfiction book proposal, and offered help along the way in his preparation of the proposal,” says Garner, author of the book “Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World” and founder of Manners of the Heart, which teaches children, parents and business professionals how to increase respectfulness in daily communication.
His response: “Oh, I understand. You don’t want to really help me. You want me to do all the work.” (Mike drop.) - Mackenzie Dawson
Your mastery of social media has come at the expense of being able to write and read coherently. Of course, you may have been informed someplace along the line that grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. are not important in "today's world." You were fed a gigantic lie.

Dewing has addressed the issues with your desire to tell people how to do discipline your co-workers, how you want to "make a difference to...customers" and have "on fire" co-workers. I do not think I can, nor need, add much to his on those counts. But I will note the conspicuous lack of something in your blog post.

You never, anywhere, address doing it yourself. Oh, you want to "give you everything I’ve got" and you "need to know it makes a difference to something bigger than your bottom line," but you cannot conceive of going out and doing something to actually make a difference? Mark Zuckerberg became a billionaire at age 23 because he dropped out of Harvard and took a huge risk. G Adventures was founded out of an apartment by a 22-year old risking his credit and the easy life to found the company. Google was founded by two Stanford Ph.D. students who had to go around seeking venture capital, reaching out to giants of industry, and putting working for other companies on hold.

Let's face it. You want it your way, right away, without having to work for it, and without having to take risks to get it. You don't want to actually risk anything to change the world - you want to get hired by someone else to do it and let someone else worry about the hard work. And, if you don't like the way they want to save the world, you can always quit....

March 30, 2016

CathCon Daily - 3/30/2016

Weymouth Bay - John Constable

The Biggest Abuse of the False Claims Act Ever - Ilya Shapiro, Cato

Niskanen and Welfare Policy - Will Wilkinson, Niskanen

A Kirkian Renaissance - H. Lee Cheek, Jr., Liberty Law Blog

How Liberal Policies Destroyed Black Families - Crystal Wright, Daily Signal

A Prescription for Religious Liberty - Ed Whelan, NRO

Lifetime Marijuana Use Correlated With Troubled Middle Age - Alexandra Ossola, Popular Science

Things That Can't Change - George Weigel, First Things

Jail v. Execution - Steve Kellmeyer, New Reform Club

Walker Percy’s Last Self-Help Book - Peter Augustine Lawler, NRO

If Adjuncts Are Treated Unfairly, Is There a Solution? - George Leef, Pope Center

State Department Loses Another Round in Clinton Email Fiasco - Hans von Spakovsky, Daily Signal

Tolkien & Anglo-Saxon England - Bradley J. Birzer, Imaginative Conservative

Ethical Dangers--or Benefits?--of New Technology - Daniel Ross Goodman, Public Discourse

The State: From God, or the Devil? - Bruce Frohnen, Crisis

Left Panics Over Commonsense N.C. Bill - Jane Clark Scharl, NRO

The Constitution of Habeas Corpus - Bruce Frohnen, Nomocracy in Politics

Who Said it? Sanger or Rand? - John Ellis, PJ Media

The Citizen's Share - Jack Quirk, Distributist Review

March 28, 2016

CathCon Daily - 3/28/2016

Seascape Sunset - Martin Heade

On Play and Seriousness - J.V. Schall, University Bookman

Walker Percy and Donald Trump - Peter Augustine Lawler, NRO

The Misleading Science of Bill McKibben - American Interest

Old-Time Hollywood Religion, Part II - Carl Eric Scott, NRO

Belgium and "Our Values" - Robert Royal, The Catholic Thing

Even as They Retire, It's Still About the Boomers - Joel Kotkin, New Geography

Mother Angelica - RIP - Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

The Stupid Psychopath Problem - Kevin D. Williamson, NRO

The Emperor is Wearing Pajamas - John Horvat, Imaginative Conservative

Advice for a Catholic Neophyte - Rachel Lu, Crisis

We're in a Mess, So to Speak - Jim Geraghty, NRO

History versus Ideologies of Oppression - Mark Pulliam, Liberty Law Blog

The Psychology Behind The Trump Phenomenon - A.D.P. Efferson, The Federalist

Why America Is Obsessed With Survivalism - M.G. Oprea, The Federalist

The Catholic Enlightenment - Today and Yesterday - William Doino, Jr., First Things

Victimhood Culture and Emory - Jonathan Haidt, Heterodox Academy

Lessons From Jim Harrison’s ‘Legends Of The Fall’ - Nicole Russell, The Federalist

March 27, 2016

The Modern Iconoclasts

On the Wikimedia Commons site today, there is a beautiful picture of the Church of the Cross and Resurrection at the monastery of St. Anthony in Egypt. I place it here for your consideration:

As I looked at it, I pondered the actions of ISIS and the Taliban in destroying sacred images of any variety, such as the Buddhas of Bamiyan and the Temple of Bel in Palmyra. In both cases, destruction was suspected not only because ISIS wishes to show strength, but because ISIS, like other fundamental Muslim movements, believes that any religious symbol is problematic as it may lead to idol worship.

Being ADHD and INTP, I cannot help but think of other instances of iconoclasm. For instance, the Iconoclasm of the 8th and 9th centuries in the Eastern Church. However, I have in mind also the iconoclasm of our modern era.

Before I get into that, I want to have a brief discussion of symbols and the symbolic. This is a somewhat difficult proposition. The field of semiotics is implicated heavily in any such discussion. Pursuant to Wikipedia: "Semiotics (also called semiotic studies; not to be confused with the Saussurean tradition called semiology which is a part of semiotics) is the study of meaning-making, the study of sign processes and meaningful communication." For those who want to delve deeper, there is a more extensive discussion here.

In essence, what I propose for this post is to use the idea of a symbol as pointing to something beyond itself. We infuse symbols with meaning, which then come to "represent" those meanings. In this post, I am thinking of symbol on a cultural level, whereby groups of people assign meanings to objects, art, or other symbols. I should also note that symbols are complex - any given thing may represent different ideas to different people, and in fact, clashes over the symbolic run deep beneath many political and personal disagreements.

Christianity, especially Catholicism and Orthodoxy, are "symbolic" faiths. Among most Christian churches the symbol par excellence is, of course, the cross and crucifix. But there are many others - the Eucharist, Icons, Churches, the Pelican, the Fish, and so forth. However, Christians also view their works as an outward symbol of an inner faith. In the Epistle of James, from the New Testament, the author mandates works to be associated with Faith, saying:
What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But some one will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. James 2: 14-26 RSVCE.
So, as it has long been mandated that Christians do good works, Christians have long been involved and public and private charity, which continues to the present. Examples include hospitals, nursing homes, food banks, clothing banks, and hospice centers. In addition, due to the importance of educating the young, part of Christians' works have involved operating schools, catechesis, Bible studies, and so on. David Bentley Hart, in his book "Atheist Delusions" gives the following examples:

Returning to the present time, we can see what can only be described as a concerted effort to force the visible symbols of Christianity out of the public eye. One may think first here of the various lawsuits aimed at removing the Cross, Crucifix, and 10 Commandments from any public lands. However, there are many other examples, such as the government's passage and implementation of the PPACA (a/k.a "Obamacare") which contained an exception to its insurance requirements only for religioua entities which ran their own mutual aid system (rather than buying insurance). In addition, in order to obtain an exception from covering birth control under the PPACA, an entity would have to share these characteristics:
(1) has the inculcation of religious values as its purpose; (2) primarily employs persons who share its religious tenets; (3) primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets; and (4) is a non-profit organization under the Internal Revenue Code”
This would exclude the majority of Catholic charities who serve any comers, as well as hospitals, schools, and other Christian institutions.

Christians are often at a loss as to why secularists (and here I use the term to refer to those who want to secularize the public square) want to push coverage of contraception on groups like Little Sisters of the Poor, or Christian companies like Hobby Lobby. As is often repeated in atheist vs. Christians groups online, by Christians (as an example): "If you don't believe in God, why are you so worried about crosses on public land?" There are many other, related, arguments. Secularists just as often state that, while they have no problem with Christians and internal belief, it should not be permitted in the public square.

What secularists do understand is that these works and symbols have meaning to Christians. However, secularists often (though not all and every one) have a completely different set of meanings attached to Christian symbols, such as the cross. To secularists, Christianity represents a backward and patriarchal system, which is, at its core, deeply anti-modern. To secularists, especially of a progressive bent, therefore, the manifestations of  faith in works is a visible sign of the anti-modern, regressive, anti-progress and so on. This is why it really does not matter that Christians do good with any given institution, to these militant secularists. Rather, they seek to eradicate the icons (loosely speaking) of the Christian faith as used in public, in order to remove the symbols' power to influence, in order to forward progressive ideals, such as (enforced) (in)tolerance, radical equality, and so on.

Therefore, Christians should not be at all surprised that secularists oppose even the operation of religious schools or charities, especially if they receive public funds. To them, this is the feeding of a symbol or symbols which should no longer exist in the public square.

CathCon Easter - 3/27/2016

San Francisco Mayor Bans City Worker Travel to N.C. - Fuzzy Slippers, Legal Insurrection

Defend Heidi Cruz - Mona Charen, NRO

The Riddle of Bach's Lutheran Mass - Brantley C. Milligan, Imaginative Conservative

Is Social Justice a Right? - James V. Schall, Imaginative Conservative

The Water From His Side - Ed Craig, NRO

Easter Should Give Us Courage - David French, NRO

The Earth's Deepest Wound - Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, The Catholic Thing

Can “Risen” Speak to Our Secular Culture? - Bruce Frohnen, Imaginative Conservative

The Holy Day of the Pasch - Breviarium S.O.P.

Consequences are for Schmucks - Kevin D. Williamson, NRO

The Relationship Between Fertility and National Income - Sami Karam, New Geography

March 26, 2016

The Greatness of Chant and Polyphony

I have not, previously, composed a post on chant and polyphony, two musical forms which dominated Catholic (and Orthodox) Church music from the early Medieval period (750 or so) through the end of the Renaissance (1600 or so), roughly 900 years. As you might imagine, this immense period of time cannot be simply lumped into "Chant," and "Polyphony," but rather comprises a great many lesser and greater developments. The purpose of this post, so that it does not turn into some sort of minor "term" paper, is to introduce you to some of the more important figures and pieces that comprise the Chant and Polyphony traditions.

A better source than Wikipedia is the Grove Dictionary of Music (part of the Oxford reference works), which has an extensive entry on chant. Attempting to provide a complete history of chant is unnecessary and far beyond the scope of this post. However, to borrow a brief "overview" of chant:
In the broadest sense, the monophonic and, according to ancient tradition, unaccompanied music of Eastern and Western Christian liturgy. Commonly used narrowly to denote the chant repertories of Latin Christianity (particularly that of the Roman rite, with which sections 2–5 of this article will be primarily concerned)....
With the legalization of Christianity by the Emperor Constantine I (Edict of Milan, 313), the Church was now state-supported, its worship public, and its congregations large....The chanting of biblical psalms, recently popularized by Egyptian monasticism, was promoted instead. 
The 4th century also witnessed the emergence of regional urban and monastic liturgical usages or ‘rites’ featuring diverse implementations of daily common prayer and the Sunday Eucharist. A rapid multiplication of holy days soon resulted in the formation of annual cycles of worship superimposed on the existing daily and weekly cycles, developments that were complemented musically by the creation of local repertories of plainchant featuring settings both of fixed (‘Ordinary’) and variable (‘Proper’) texts. In some areas these included new hymns by such figures as St Ambrose (c. 339–97), St Ephrem the Syrian (c. 306–73), St Romanos (d c. 560), and St Sophronios (c. 560–638).
This liturgical diversification was counteracted by frequent borrowing between rites. Cenobitic monks created mixed rites combining urban and monastic types of psalmody, including the influential Divine Office established by St Benedict (c. 480–c. 547) and subsequently imitated throughout the Latin West.
So, we can see that chant was promoted in the church based upon chanting of psalms by Egyptian monks, and rapidly expanded into use for daily ritual. Many of the chants have survived to the modern day (and new ones have been composed), thus providing an extraordinary repertoire from which a modern chanter may select. Many works, as you might imagine, are anonymous or have spurious attributions. Below, I have placed a few links to videos of famous or beautiful chants, which I hope you will enjoy.

St. Hildegard of Bingen - A Doctor of the Church, born in 1089, St. Hildegard was a:
German Benedictine abbess, visionary, writer and composer. She is known for her literary, musical and scientific works, and for her religious and diplomatic activities. Her oeuvre includes recorded visions, medical and scientific works, hagiography and letters; also lyrical and dramatic poetry, which has survived with monophonic music.

St. Godric of Finchale - Born in 1069, Godric was an:
English saint and hermit. He reputedly composed some of the earliest metrical rhymed English songs to have survived with their music. 

Finally, in honor of this Easter weekend, here is a plainchant called "Pange Lingua," meaning Sing, my Tongue. It is traditionally sung on Holy Thursday, and is attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas.

In moving on to polyphony, it is better first to define the term, so that we may keep it it in mind as we move forward. According to the Grove Dictionary:
In connection with the technique of composition, the Latin terms polyphon(ic)us and polyphonia, and their modern derivatives, were first used to refer to ‘music in multiple parts’.
Contrast this to chant, above, which is usually in unison or for a single voice. While the term has come to mean any music for more than one voice, I will be focusing here on the late medieval (1100 to 1400)  and the Renaissance (1400 - 1600) time periods. While there are examples of polyphony from earlier than 1100, these are scattered examples, and late medieval time period is usually accepted as the beginning of polyphony.

Now, I would like to mention three "transitional" figured who developed early polyphony. First, Leonin, or as he is often called "Magister Leoninus," born around 1135. He was a:
Canon, poet, and composer. Evidence of his activities as canon of St Benoît and later of Notre Dame, Paris, priest, and poet are found in numerous archival documents....His magnus liber contained polyphonic settings of those portions of plainchant that were reserved for solo singers. The chants set were Vespers responsories, Mass graduals, and alleluias, and perhaps some processional antiphons.
The below is an example of the form called "organum duplum," which means, generally, that one additional voice is added to the tenor.
It is generally accepted that what we know of the compositions of Leonin comes to us through his likely-student, Perotin, born about 1200. Perotin was a:
Composer at Notre Dame, Paris. Like the older LÉONIN, he is known from remarks by the English theorist known as Anonymous IV (fl c. 1270), who implies that Pérotin took Léonin's liturgical chant settings (organa dupla) as a starting-point, revising them and supplementing them with pieces in a more modern idiom.
The below is obviously more complex that the Leonin piece above, as it has at least four parts. The Grove encyclopedia notes:
Anonymous IV goes on to name various compositions by Pérotin; they include two chant settings for four voices (organa quadrupla)—the graduals Viderunt and Sederunt—and two for three voices (organa tripla), as well as three conductus, for three, two, and one voice respectively.

Later polyphony became more varied, was composed throughout Europe and England, and has many more "known" composers. As with this blog post generally, an in-depth discussion of polyphony and its many composers is impossible with the space constraints. So, therefore, I will do my best to select some representative composers.

First, I would like to discuss Guillaume de Machaut, born around 1300. According to Grove, he was
[T]he first artistically important composer of polyphonic music to be known by name. His output holds a key position in the transition between the new ideas that took hold in the decade around 1300 and the music of the late Middle Ages; as a poet-musician he brought together the traditions of secular monophony and the new techniques of the Ars Nova. 
Machaut also composed one of the earliest complete polyphonic masses created by a single composer. As noted by Grove:
The four-part Mass represents the earliest instance of a Mass Ordinary setting (including the Ite Missa est) that is stylistically coherent and was also conceived as a unit. Research on the Ordinary melodies used and the mass foundation has confirmed that this composition can be linked to a Saturday Lady Mass instituted in Reims Cathedral in 1341.

Second, the composer Guillaume Du Fay, born about 1397. Grove remarks that:
He was acknowledged by his contemporaries as the leading composer of his day. He held positions in many of the musical centres of Europe and his music was copied and performed virtually everywhere that polyphony was practised.
 Or, in other words:
Throughout his life Du Fay was regarded as the leading composer of his age. Most of his career spanned a period of relative stylistic stability, and he was largely successful in incorporating new stylistic traits that came to the fore during his life....

Next up is the composer Josquin des Prez, born about 1450. According to Grove, he was a:
French composer. He was one of the greatest composers of the Renaissance, whose reputation stands on a level with those of Du Fay, Ockeghem, Palestrina, Lassus and Byrd. His music spans the transition between the sound-world of the late Middle Ages and that of the High Renaissance, and served as a model for much of the 16th century.

I would like to discuss two English composers next, namely Thomas Tallis and William Byrd. Tallis was born about 1505, while Byrd was 1540. Both were Catholics in the Elizabethan court (a hazardous occupation), but both died in their bed due to the great respect afforded them by the nobility. Tallis was Byrd's teacher and business partner. Of Tallis, Grove notes:
Tallis’s compositional career spanned decades of unprecedented political and religious turbulence whose effect on English music was profound. Musical genres and styles declined, mutated or were invented afresh in response to the liturgical and doctrinal demands of the moment. From extended votive antiphons such as Salve intemerata to succinct Anglican service music, Tallis’s diverse output covers almost every musical genre used in the English church during the 16th century.
Byrd would become more famous than Tallis, even. It is noted that, at his death:
The ordinarily laconic Cheque Book of the Chapel Royal described him as ‘a Father of Musick’; to another contemporary admirer he was ‘Brittanicae Musicae Parens’. While Byrd’s versatility as a composer is often mentioned, and quite rightly, it is less often pointed out how much he indeed fathered for English music. With his motets, first of all, he achieved nothing less than the naturalization of the high Renaissance church style. The true power and expressiveness of imitative counterpoint had never been channelled in native composition before his motets of the 1575 Cantiones.
Both composers are still highly regarded and sung today. The two examples I give of Tallis are interesting in their difference - one lengthy, complex, piece in Latin called Spem in Alium (rather unfortunately featured in 50 Shades of Grey) - and the other a shorter piece in English.

Regarding Spem in Alium, it was composed at the behest of a known Catholic, the Duke of Norfolkn and performed at Henry FitzAlan's (the 19th Earl of Arundel) country residence. Of the composition and performance, it is said:
In Queen Elizabeth's time yere was a songe sen[t] into England in 30 parts (whence ye Italians obteyned ye name to be called ye Apices of ye world) wch beeinge songe mad[e] a heavenly Harmony. The Duke of — bearinge a great love to Musicke asked whether none of our Englishmen could sett as good a songe, and Tallice being very skilfull was felt to try whether he would undertake ye matter, wch he did and made one of 40 partes wch was songe in the longe gallery at Arundell house, wch so farre surpassed ye other that the Duke, hearinge yt songe, tooke his chayne of Gold from his necke & putt yt about Tallice his necke and gave yt him (wch songe was againe songe at ye Princes coronation).

While there are many, many, other famous and worthy composers who could be mentioned, this post now grows overly long. I think I will end with Giovanni Perluigi de Palestrina, born in roughly 1525. He is one of the greatest composers of the Renaissance. The Grove Dictionary states:
He ranks with Lassus and Byrd as one of the towering figures in the music of the late 16th century. He was primarily a prolific composer of masses and motets but was also an important madrigalist. Among the native Italian musicians of the 16th century who sought to assimilate the richly developed polyphonic techniques of their French and Flemish predecessors, none mastered these techniques more completely or subordinated them more effectively to the requirements of musical cogency. His success in reconciling the functional and aesthetic aims of Catholic church music in the post-Tridentine period earned him an enduring reputation as the ideal Catholic composer, as well as giving his style (or, more precisely, later generations’ selective view of it) an iconic stature as a model of perfect achievement.
He was prolific enough that attempting to even give a moderate selection of works would be a post unto itself. Grove states that, while an accurate list of his works has yet to be completed:
His output of 104 securely attributed masses is greater in quantity alone than that of any composer of his age. To this fundamental domain of sacred music can be added more than 300 motets, 68 offertories, at least 72 hymns, 35 Magnificat settings, 11 litanies and four or five sets of Lamentations. But he also composed more than 140 madrigals (including some very famous pieces) if his spiritual madrigals are counted alongside his settings of secular poetry.
Enjoy! And for those who got this far, thank you.

CathCon Saturday - 3/26/2016

Not Just About Birth Control - Kelsey Harkness, Daily Signal

How Classical Education Can Make America Great Again - Abigail Clevenger, The Federalist

How To Focus Deeply In A Distracted World with Cal Newport - Federalist Staff

Blue Civil War Escalates - American Interest

Holy Saturday’s Silent Embrace - Fr. Robert P. Imbelli, The Catholic Thing

Batman's Dark Side - Ron Capshaw, NRO

March 25, 2016

Radical Islam - Defintional Problems

After the recent terrorist attacks in Belgium, a number of different hashtags (consistent with Twitter's motto: "# Today, Forgotten Tomorrow) sprang up for people to immediately ally themselves with some cause related to the attacks. For instance, #stopislam (and related #banislam) immediately became popular. From what I saw among my various more...outspoken...Twitter friends, there seems to be an immediate identification of all Islam with violence. On the other hand, there were those who refused to call the terrorists Muslim at all, insisting that they simply be called terrorists, as if "Islam" were entirely unrelated to the terrorists themselves. Closer to the middle (I suppose...) were those who insisted that, while these were Muslims who committed the acts of terror, they were either "unrepresentative," or "not real Muslims." On the odd side were those in Belgium who tweeted variations on "#stopislam is worse than what is happening in Belgium." I am not sure what sort of mentality leads one to believe a #hashtag is worse than mass murder, but leaving that aside...

As I pondered these various statements, a few problems occurred to me. One is in response to those who refuse to call the terrorists "Muslim," though they seem to have associated themselves with ISIS, which is manifestly an Islamic movement. This is a definitional problem. As far as I know, there is no single definition as to what defines "being a Muslim." A few years back, Jonah Goldberg argued in USA Today that:
Today, Islam is chockablock with Muslim Luthers claiming to have a monopoly on the Quran's true meaning. Murderers can shop around for a fatwa endorsing the most horrific — and technically un-Islamic — barbarism like junkies searching for a corrupt doctor with a prescription pad for hire.
As anyone who bothers to read about Islam is aware, there are various sects, each with competing claims to the truth concerning Islamic teachings, including Sunni, Shia, and others. Without doubt, ISIL and the Taliban also believe that the way they pursue Islam through violent means is part of their belief. While we need not believe in the pure belief of all members of these sects, nor do we need reduce it to some entirely materialist or secular argument (e.g., they pursue terrorism because they lack some material possession, or seek power). The terrorists, like anyone else, may have mixed or even subconscious motives for their pursuit. However. without a single idea of what it means to follow Islam, to be a Muslim, it is difficult to deny that, when terrorists claim to be Muslim, they are Muslim.

A very similar problem holds for those who admit the terrorists believe themselves to be Muslim, but deny that a "true Muslim" would resort to violent jihad. This is what philosopher Antony Flew called the "no true Scotsman" fallacy. Putnam coined the phrase based on the following hypothetical:
Imagine Hamish McDonald, a Scotsman, sitting down with his Glasgow Morning Herald and seeing an article about how the "Brighton Sex Maniac Strikes Again". Hamish is shocked and declares that "No Scotsman would do such a thing". The next day he sits down to read his Glasgow Morning Herald again; and, this time, finds an article about an Aberdeen man whose brutal actions make the Brighton sex maniac seem almost gentlemanly. This fact shows that Hamish was wrong in his opinion, but is he going to admit this? Not likely. This time he says: "No true Scotsman would do such a thing".
What the Scot has done is to exclude the case he doesn't like by asserting, without some model for comparison, that the arbitrary definition of "true," excludes the case of the Scot who has done terrible things. Obviously, there are arguments against Islamic terrorists being "true" Muslims; well, better arguments than the Scot has. However, the problem remains that at least some people who declare themselves Muslim are violent terrorists, link that terrorism with their beliefs in Islam, and it is not enough to declare that they are "not" Muslim, and not enough to declare that they are not "true" Muslims.

With this said, the opposite problem is easier to diagnose - namely, those who assert that the core of Islamic thought is violence, and therefore, all Muslims are violent. This is like the inverse of the "no true Scotsman" issue, namely:
Imagine  Jim, an American, sitting down with bacon and toast one morning, and hears of a terrorist attack. A Muslim group immediately claims responsibility. A local Imam, interviewed on television, claims that not all Muslims are violent, and therefore, all Muslims should not be associated with the terrorism. Jim laughs, thinking, "Liar, the core of Islam is violence, and therefore, this Imam is no true Muslim."
This is problematic for Jim, as it is obvious that there are groups of Muslims who eschew violence, and simultaneously, claim to be Muslim.

I suppose the point of these ruminations is to encourage people to be careful in their thinking, and avoid broad brush and true Scotsman fallacies as they encounter events in the world. This is true whether accusing all Muslims of violence, all Catholics for sex scandals, or anything similar. If one is tempted to accuse all members of another group of some unsavory act committed by a few, or to exclude members of one's own group who commit some heinous act while claiming to be members, then one must consider the matter more deeply, and endure that one is not engaged in a fallacy that enables one to shortcut the careful thinking that is required of good judgment.

CathCon Daily - 3/25/2016

Can the American Right Renounce Utopianism? - Michael Lind, National Interest

Prof. Michael McConnell on Zubik Religious Freedom Restoration Act - Eugene Volokh, Volokh

Stanford Students Want Western Civilization Requirement Back - Mariana Barillas, Daily Signal

The Goodness of Good Friday - Msgr. Robert Batule, Crisis

Job Growth Doesn’t Mean We’re Getting Richer - Ryan McMaken, Mises

Governor Signs Bill Banning Abortions of Down Syndrome Babies - Leah Jessen, Daily Signal

Eric Voegelin on Order, History, & Gnosticism - Gerhart Niemeyer, Imaginative Conservative

Batman v. Superman Restores Soul to Superheroes - Armond White, NRO

Little Sisters, Would You Please - Michael S. Greve, Liberty Law Blog

3 Problems With Media Coverage Of Attacks On Heidi Cruz - Mollie Hemingway, The Federalist

Did The Apostle Paul Witness Christ’s Crucifixion? - G.W. Thielman, The Federalist

March 23, 2016

Only in a Leap from the Lion's Head

I do not often talk about personal matters of faith on this blog. Why? I am not sure. Perhaps it is because I lean towards the introverted side of things, tending to swirl about in my own inner universe of thoughts and ideas and feelings. What comes with that is a certain predilection to the private life, and I tend to have few, but very strong, friends. Thus, I do not tend to talk openly with people I do not know intimately, and with whom I do not share a strong emotional connection.

However, I tend to express my feelings, for those than can guess, obliquely. I discuss music that is currently moving me, poetry, books, philosophy, theology, etc. And, those that know me know this is a reflection of my feelings. Therefore, in this post, I am going to share a few things that have moved me recently. Some of them are old (long favorites of mine). Some are newer discoveries, although they will usually not be "the latest thing." I warn you - this is no analysis  - only meandering "likes."

First, the book "Doors of the Sea" by David Bentley Hart, is an extremely concise, moving, and thoughtful discussion of theodicy - of the problem of evil. DBH wrote an article for First Things magazine after the pacific tsunami of 2004. The book grew out of the article, and I highly recommend a read of both. DBH has two very worthwhile considerations in that book. First, he rejects the idea that God has visited evils upon mankind for their benefit. He relates the complaint of Ivan Karamazov in Brothers Karamazov:
But what makes Ivan’s argument so disturbing is not that he accuses God of failing to save the innocent....He grants that one day there may be an eternal harmony established, one that we will discover somehow necessitated the suffering of children, and perhaps mothers will forgive the murderers of their babies, and all will praise God’s justice; but Ivan wants neither harmony”“for love of man I reject it,” “it is not worth the tears of that one tortured child””nor forgiveness
DBH goes on to say:
No less metaphysically incoherent "though immeasurably more vile" is the suggestion that God requires suffering and death to reveal certain of his attributes....It is precisely sin, suffering, and death that blind us to God’s true nature....It seems a strange thing to find peace in a universe rendered morally intelligible at the cost of a God rendered morally loathsome. 
DBH finishes as thus:
We can rejoice that we are saved not through the immanent mechanisms of history and nature, but by grace; that God will not unite all of history’s many strands in one great synthesis, but will judge much of history false and damnable; that He will not simply reveal the sublime logic of fallen nature, but will strike off the fetters in which creation languishes; and that, rather than showing us how the tears of a small girl suffering in the dark were necessary for the building of the Kingdom, He will instead raise her up and wipe away all tears from her eyes”and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor any more pain, for the former things will have passed away, and He that sits upon the throne will say, “Behold, I make all things new.”
I usually enjoy his writing, and this book and article are no exception. As I write this, I am listening to John Williams'  soundtrack from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (I bet you weren't expecting that leap). There is a particularly poignant scene in that move where Indiana Jones' father is dying from a gunshot wound, and Indiana must make it through a series of puzzles in order to achieve the Grail to save his father.

At the last test, Indiana is standing over a seemingly-bottomless and bridge-less chasm. In his guidebook, it states that he must make a leap from the lion's head...well, here is the scene.

In the latter part of the clip, the chasm is clearly shown to be bridged by a nearly-invisible spike of rock. However, Indiana does not know that, and the film does a wonderful job of showing his indecisiveness and final resolve to make the leap. John Williams' fantastic music only adds to the brilliant scene.

Another film scene (and music) which has been on my mind this morning is the "Labor of Love" section of the Star Trek "Zero" reboot. In this scene, as the hero is crashing his ship in a suicide run in order to save his crew (and pregnant wife), she goes into labor on the shuttle, and the....well, see below:

This scene is obviously beautiful. Why these particular thoughts are coming up today and this week, I do not know. But I continue to listen, and read, and think.

CathCon Daily - 3/23/2016

What Trump and Sanders Teach Us about America - S. Adam Seagrave, Public Discourse

Ad Hominem Violence - Randall Smith, The Catholic Thing

The Return of the Absent Clockmaker - John Horvat II, Crisis

Trade Deficit Angst - Walter Williams, Human Events

Easter is Not a Question Mark - George Weigel, First Things

How Obamacare Has Worked the Past 6 Years - Melissa Quinn, Daily Signal

Obamacare Was Going to Lower Health Care Costs - Robert Moffit, Daily Signal

Warren Buffett and Liberal Education - Christopher Nelson, Imaginative Conservative

Edmund Burke, Rightly Understood - Lee Cheek, Imaginative Conservative

Trumpism: America's Berlusconi Moment - Joel Kotkin, New Geography

Hormonal Contraceptives Are Not Health Care - Alana Newman, The Federalist

It’s the End of the Line for GOP as We Know It - Jonah Goldberg, NRO

Millennial Socialism Will Harm Our Democracy - Stanley Kurtz, NRO

Silence Equals Trump - Ross Douthat, NYT

Why Socialism Always Fails - Mark J. Perry, AEI

Math Favors Married Parents - W. Bradford Wilcox, AEI

Awakenings - Charles J. Chaput, First Things

Sixth Circuit Loses Patience with IRS - Jonathan H. Adler, WaPO

March 22, 2016

World Poetry Day - Gerard Manly Hopkins

In a very different vein from the afore-posted Longfellow:

The Wreck of the Deutschland

Gerard Manly Hopkins

To the happy memory of five Franciscan Nuns exiles by the Falk Laws drowned between midnight and morning of Dec. 7th. 1875



                THOU mastering me
            God! giver of breath and bread;
        World’s strand, sway of the sea;
            Lord of living and dead;
    Thou hast bound bones and veins in me, fastened me flesh,        5
    And after it almost unmade, what with dread,
        Thy doing: and dost thou touch me afresh?
Over again I feel thy finger and find thee.


                I did say yes
            O at lightning and lashed rod;        10
        Thou heardst me truer than tongue confess
            Thy terror, O Christ, O God;
    Thou knowest the walls, altar and hour and night:
    The swoon of a heart that the sweep and the hurl of thee trod
        Hard down with a horror of height:        15
And the midriff astrain with leaning of, laced with fire of stress.


                The frown of his face
            Before me, the hurtle of hell
        Behind, where, where was a, where was a place?
            I whirled out wings that spell        20
    And fled with a fling of the heart to the heart of the Host.
    My heart, but you were dovewinged, I can tell,
        Carrier-witted, I am bold to boast,
To flash from the flame to the flame then, tower from the grace to the grace.


                I am soft sift        25
            In an hourglass—at the wall
        Fast, but mined with a motion, a drift,
            And it crowds and it combs to the fall;
    I steady as a water in a well, to a poise, to a pane,
    But roped with, always, all the way down from the tall        30
        Fells or flanks of the voel, a vein
Of the gospel proffer, a pressure, a principle, Christ’s gift.


                I kiss my hand
            To the stars, lovely-asunder
        Starlight, wafting him out of it; and        35
            Glow, glory in thunder;
    Kiss my hand to the dappled-with-damson west:
    Since, tho’ he is under the world’s splendour and wonder,
        His mystery must be instressed, stressed;
For I greet him the days I meet him, and bless when I understand.        40


                Not out of his bliss
            Springs the stress felt
        Nor first from heaven (and few know this)
            Swings the stroke dealt—
    Stroke and a stress that stars and storms deliver,        45
    That guilt is hushed by, hearts are flushed by and melt—
        But it rides time like riding a river
(And here the faithful waver, the faithless fable and miss).


                It dates from day
            Of his going in Galilee;        50
        Warm-laid grave of a womb-life grey;
            Manger, maiden’s knee;
    The dense and the driven Passion, and frightful sweat;
    Thence the discharge of it, there its swelling to be,
        Though felt before, though in high flood yet—        55
What none would have known of it, only the heart, being hard at bay,


                Is out with it! Oh,
            We lash with the best or worst
        Word last! How a lush-kept plush-capped sloe
            Will, mouthed to flesh-burst,        60
    Gush!—flush the man, the being with it, sour or sweet,
    Brim, in a flash, full!—Hither then, last or first,
        To hero of Calvary, Christ, ’s feet—
Never ask if meaning it, wanting it, warned of it—men go.


                Be adored among men,        65
            God, three-numberèd form;
        Wring thy rebel, dogged in den,
            Man’s malice, with wrecking and storm.
    Beyond saying sweet, past telling of tongue,
    Thou art lightning and love, I found it, a winter and warm;        70
        Father and fondler of heart thou hast wrung:
Hast thy dark descending and most art merciful then.


                With an anvil-ding
            And with fire in him forge thy will
        Or rather, rather then, stealing as Spring        75
            Through him, melt him but master him still:
    Whether at once, as once at a crash Paul,
    Or as Austin, a lingering-out sweet skill,
        Make mercy in all of us, out of us all
Mastery, but be adored, but be adored King.        80



            ‘Some find me a sword; some
            The flange and the rail; flame,
        Fang, or flood’ goes Death on drum,
            And storms bugle his fame.
    But wé dream we are rooted in earth—Dust!        85
    Flesh falls within sight of us, we, though our flower the same,
        Wave with the meadow, forget that there must
The sour scythe cringe, and the blear share come.


            On Saturday sailed from Bremen,
            American-outward-bound,        90
        Take settler and seamen, tell men with women,
            Two hundred souls in the round—
    O Father, not under thy feathers nor ever as guessing
    The goal was a shoal, of a fourth the doom to be drowned;
        Yet did the dark side of the bay of thy blessing        95
Not vault them, the million of rounds of thy mercy not reeve even them in?


            Into the snows she sweeps,
            Hurling the haven behind,
        The Deutschland, on Sunday; and so the sky keeps,
            For the infinite air is unkind,        100
    And the sea flint-flake, black-backed in the regular blow,
    Sitting Eastnortheast, in cursed quarter, the wind;
        Wiry and white-fiery and whirlwind-swivellèd snow
Spins to the widow-making unchilding unfathering deeps.


            She drove in the dark to leeward,        105
            She struck—not a reef or a rock
        But the combs of a smother of sand: night drew her
            Dead to the Kentish Knock;
    And she beat the bank down with her bows and the ride of her keel:
    The breakers rolled on her beam with ruinous shock;        110
        And canvas and compass, the whorl and the wheel
Idle for ever to waft her or wind her with, these she endured.


            Hope had grown grey hairs,
            Hope had mourning on,
        Trenched with tears, carved with cares,        115
            Hope was twelve hours gone;
    And frightful a nightfall folded rueful a day
    Nor rescue, only rocket and lightship, shone,
        And lives at last were washing away:
To the shrouds they took,—they shook in the hurling and horrible airs.        120


            One stirred from the rigging to save
            The wild woman-kind below,
        With a rope’s end round the man, handy and brave—
            He was pitched to his death at a blow,
    For all his dreadnought breast and braids of thew:        125
    They could tell him for hours, dandled the to and fro
        Through the cobbled foam-fleece, what could he do
With the burl of the fountains of air, buck and the flood of the wave?


            They fought with God’s cold—
            And they could not and fell to the deck        130
        (Crushed them) or water (and drowned them) or rolled
            With the sea-romp over the wreck.
    Night roared, with the heart-break hearing a heart-broke rabble,
    The woman’s wailing, the crying of child without check—
        Till a lioness arose breasting the babble,        135
A prophetess towered in the tumult, a virginal tongue told.


            Ah, touched in your bower of bone
            Are you! turned for an exquisite smart,
        Have you! make words break from me here all alone,
            Do you!—mother of being in me, heart.        140
    O unteachably after evil, but uttering truth,
    Why, tears! is it? tears; such a melting, a madrigal start!
        Never-eldering revel and river of youth,
What can it be, this glee? the good you have there of your own?


            Sister, a sister calling        145
            A master, her master and mine!—
        And the inboard seas run swirling and hawling;
            The rash smart sloggering brine
    Blinds her; but she that weather sees one thing, one;
    Has one fetch in her: she rears herself to divine        150
        Ears, and the call of the tall nun
To the men in the tops and the tackle rode over the storm’s brawling.


            She was first of a five and came
            Of a coifèd sisterhood.
        (O Deutschland, double a desperate name!        155
            O world wide of its good!
    But Gertrude, lily, and Luther, are two of a town,
    Christ’s lily and beast of the waste wood:
        From life’s dawn it is drawn down,
Abel is Cain’s brother and breasts they have sucked the same.)        160


            Loathed for a love men knew in them,
            Banned by the land of their birth,
        Rhine refused them. Thames would ruin them;
            Surf, snow, river and earth
    Gnashed: but thou art above, thou Orion of light;        165
    Thy unchancelling poising palms were weighing the worth,
        Thou martyr-master: in thy sight
Storm flakes were scroll-leaved flowers, lily showers—sweet heaven was astrew in them.


            Five! the finding and sake
            And cipher of suffering Christ.        170
        Mark, the mark is of man’s make
            And the word of it Sacrificed.
    But he scores it in scarlet himself on his own bespoken,
    Before-time-taken, dearest prizèd and priced—
        Stigma, signal, cinquefoil token        175
For lettering of the lamb’s fleece, ruddying of the rose-flake.


            Joy fall to thee, father Francis,
            Drawn to the Life that died;
        With the gnarls of the nails in thee, niche of the lance, his
            Lovescape crucified        180
    And seal of his seraph-arrival! and these thy daughters
    And five-livèd and leavèd favour and pride,
        Are sisterly sealed in wild waters,
To bathe in his fall-gold mercies, to breathe in his all-fire glances.


            Away in the loveable west,        185
            On a pastoral forehead of Wales,
        I was under a roof here, I was at rest,
            And they the prey of the gales;
    She to the black-about air, to the breaker, the thickly
    Falling flakes, to the throng that catches and quails        190
        Was calling ‘O Christ, Christ, come quickly’:
The cross to her she calls Christ to her, christens her wild-worst Best.


            The majesty! what did she mean?
            Breathe, arch and original Breath.
        Is it love in her of the being as her lover had been?        195
            Breathe, body of lovely Death.
    They were else-minded then, altogether, the men
    Woke thee with a we are perishing in the weather of Gennesareth.
        Or is it that she cried for the crown then,
The keener to come at the comfort for feeling the combating keen?        200


            For how to the heart’s cheering
            The down-dugged ground-hugged grey
        Hovers off, the jay-blue heavens appearing
            Of pied and peeled May!
    Blue-beating and hoary-glow height; or night, still higher,        205
    With belled fire and the moth-soft Milky Way,
        What by your measure is the heaven of desire,
The treasure never eyesight got, nor was ever guessed what for the hearing?


            No, but it was not these.
            The jading and jar of the cart,        210
        Time’s tasking, it is fathers that asking for ease
            Of the sodden-with-its-sorrowing heart,
    Not danger, electrical horror; then further it finds
    The appealing of the Passion is tenderer in prayer apart:
        Other, I gather, in measure her mind’s        215
Burden, in wind’s burly and beat of endragonèd seas.


            But how shall I … make me room there:
            Reach me a … Fancy, come faster—
        Strike you the sight of it? look at it loom there,
            Thing that she … there then! the Master,        220
    Ipse, the only one, Christ, King, Head:
    He was to cure the extremity where he had cast her;
        Do, deal, lord it with living and dead;
Let him ride, her pride, in his triumph, despatch and have done with his doom there.


            Ah! there was a heart right!        225
            There was single eye!
        Read the unshapeable shock night
            And knew the who and the why;
    Wording it how but by him that present and past,
    Heaven and earth are word of, worded by?—        230
        The Simon Peter of a soul! to the blast
Tarpeian-fast, but a blown beacon of light.


            Jesu, heart’s light,
            Jesu, maid’s son,
        What was the feast followed the night        235
            Thou hadst glory of this nun?—
    Feast of the one woman without stain.
    For so conceivèd, so to conceive thee is done;
        But here was heart-throe, birth of a brain,
Word, that heard and kept thee and uttered thee outright.        240


            Well, she has thee for the pain, for the
            Patience; but pity of the rest of them!
        Heart, go and bleed at a bitterer vein for the
            Comfortless unconfessed of them—
    No not uncomforted: lovely-felicitous Providence        245
    Finger of a tender of; O of a feathery delicacy, the breast of the
        Maiden could obey so, be a bell to, ring of it, and
Startle the poor sheep back! is the shipwrack then a harvest, does tempest carry the grain for thee?


            I admire thee, master of the tides,
            Of the Yore-flood, of the year’s fall;        250
        The recurb and the recovery of the gulf’s sides,
            The girth of it and the wharf of it and the wall;
    Stanching, quenching ocean of a motionable mind;
    Ground of being, and granite of it: past all
        Grasp God, throned behind        255
Death with a sovereignty that heeds but hides, bodes but abides;


            With a mercy that outrides
            The all of water, an ark
        For the listener; for the lingerer with a love glides
            Lower than death and the dark;        260
    A vein for the visiting of the past-prayer, pent in prison,
    The-last-breath penitent spirits—the uttermost mark
        Our passion-plungèd giant risen,
The Christ of the Father compassionate, fetched in the storm of his strides.


            Now burn, new born to the world,        265
            Doubled-naturèd name,
        The heaven-flung, heart-fleshed, maiden-furled
    Mid-numbered He in three of the thunder-throne!
    Not a dooms-day dazzle in his coming nor dark as he came;        270
        Kind, but royally reclaiming his own;
A released shower, let flash to the shire, not a lightning of fire hard-hurled.


            Dame, at our door
            Drowned, and among our shoals,
        Remember us in the roads, the heaven-haven of the Reward:        275
            Our King back, oh, upon English souls!
    Let him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us, be a crimson-cresseted east,
    More brightening her, rare-dear Britain, as his reign rolls,
        Pride, rose, prince, hero of us, high-priest,
Our hearts’ charity’s hearth’s fire, our thoughts’ chivalry’s throng’s Lord.        280

See Notes.