Seventy one years ago, on a bright, cloudless morning, death fell from the sky and the world was changed. The flash of light and a wall of fire destroyed a city and demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself.
Why do we come to this place, to Hiroshima? We come to ponder a terrible force unleashed in a not-so-distant past. We come to mourn the dead, including over 100,000 Japanese men, women and children, thousands of Koreans, a dozen Americans held prisoner.
Their souls speak to us. They ask us to look inward, to take stock of who we are and what we might become.
If you were to read the entire text of the President's speech, you'll not find the words excerpted in the title of this post. Those words were spoken by someone who has not received the kind of criticism Obama's words have received.
"...in [July] 1945... Secretary of War Stimson, visiting my headquarters in Germany, informed me that our government was preparing to drop an atomic bomb on Japan. I was one of those who felt that there were a number of cogent reasons to question the wisdom of such an act. ...the Secretary, upon giving me the news of the successful bomb test in New Mexico, and of the plan for using it, asked for my reaction, apparently expecting a vigorous assent.
"During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of 'face'. The Secretary was deeply perturbed by my attitude..."
Would Mr. Pollak care to be consistent and condemn Russell Kirk and National Review? For William F. Buckley’s magazine, in 1959, published an editorial by Medford Evans asserting that “the indefensibility of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima is becoming a part of the national conservative creed.”
Perhaps Breitbart does not really subscribe to the “national conservative creed.”
Perhaps National Review no longer does either, since the magazine founded by Mr. Buckley ran an article by David French on May 27 asserting that the atomic bombings were “right and necessary.”
This is not conservatism they are peddling at Breitbart and National Review, but what fellow Patheos blogger Mark Shea has rightly called “The Thing That Used to Be Conservatism.”
If you want proof of Mr. Shea’s correctness on this point, look no further. Conservatism, or that “thing” that goes around masquerading as conservatism, is no longer a set of coherent principles but rather a series of incoherent shibboleths. Like America surrendering to barbarism in August 1945, conservatism has surrendered to barbarism in defending an act, not of just war, but of total war.
There's much more. So much more and it's necessary reading in my view. The kind of reading that gives hints as to what conservatism needs to do should conservatism become again what it once was.
Something decent and good. Something principled and coherent. Something moral and virtuous.
H.L. Mencken famously defined Puritanism as “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.” There’s a style of Catholicism that seems haunted by the fear that someone, somewhere, might presume upon Grace.
Some Catholics have a problem with mercy. It comes out in the way they react to the preaching of God’s great love and kindness, and often in the way they react to Pope Francis when he stresses it. They don’t react with “This is amazing,” but with earnest warnings not to take mercy too far. Sometimes the cautionary word must be said, but it shouldn’t be a Catholic’s first response to the proclamation of mercy.
The other day on his Facebook page the indispensable Scott Eric Alt quoted the Catechism on the extenuating conditions for suicide (“grave psychological disturbances,” for example) and the possibility that the suicide can be saved. Seemed simple and nothing to argue with.
It was, for some people. The very first commenter warned that the conditions don’t always apply. Another person objected more strongly. “So many people want to fling the door wide open when the Church opens the door a crack to allow for hope. Doing this flinging open suddenly diminishes the severity of sin and would be a sin in itself.” A few others in what turned into a very long discussion jumped in with similar criticisms, even after Scott and others pointed out that no one was making the point the critics were criticizing.
At one point Scott responded: “When I speak about this subject, like similar ones (the fate of babies who die unbaptized), I always find I have to explain that the urge to compassion does not mean that anyone is ‘flinging the door wide open’ and claiming certainty about whether such and such a person is in Heaven.” But that is, in my experience as well as his, what a substantial number of engaged Catholics think and they leap to say so. All he’s offering, Scott explained,
is an urge for compassion — and compassion only — toward people who are suffering so badly they feel there is no escape but to kill themselves. This does not mean suicide becomes something other than grave matter, and it does not mean that any particular person is necessarily saved. It means we don’t know, we leave it to God, we trust in God’s mercy, and we have compassion for the human suffering in front of us.
I would say that there’s something weirdly wrong with the people who react like this, as if the Christian’s first responsibility is not to proclaim the good news of salvation but to make sure that no one presumes upon God’s offer. They sound like (not are, but sound like, let me stress) border guards who don’t care about their country’s virtues but hate the idea that anyone might sneak in.
Other people have noticed this. One of the other commenters wrote, “It’s always telling to me how quickly people point to ‘Oh don’t sound merciful, it will only encourage the sinner’ in such situations.” Another asked: “Why do people practically leap at the opportunity to imagine scenarios in which people will be damned? . . . Few things are a bigger turn-off to non-Christians than the apparent zeal to damn others in conversations about extreme suffering.”
Mr. Mills goes on to opine that people who tend not to extend mercy, tend not to see their own need for mercy.
Do you agree?
Read the whole thing and chime in. I find the subject fascinating... and I personally think David is hitting the nail on the head.
It took me longer that it should have but I've finally finished Elizabeth's Scalia's Little Sins Mean A Lot. My delay in finishing the book should not however skewer your perception of its worth. In fact, an argument could be made that a number of personal little sins were piling up to prevent me from finishing it earlier.
The reality is that the book is a page turner, much like her previous one, filled with valuable tidbits of truth, sprinkled with morsels of enlightenment, crammed with references to the saints, the Catechism and the Scriptures, all purposed in practically showing the reader what steps to take and/or to avoid in ensuring that he or she stays out of life's swamplands.
Elizabeth's message is a simple one. Yes, it's true that we're not to make a mountain out of a mole-hill, yet it's also true that mountains can be made by stacking mole-hills, particularly self-destructive ones.
The book does the same sort of thing but again, necessarily.
We're all familiar, or should be, with deadly sin. Pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed and sloth are the biggies, the soul-killers, the transgressions fatal to spiritual progress.
But what about their younger cousins, their adolescents, their mini-mes? Elizabeth dives, over 13 chapters, into a variety of mole-hill sins, to include such things as procrastination, self-neglect, gossip, spite, self recrimination. In each of her chapters, she includes sections that detail what Catholicism has to say about those sins and what the faithful Catholic might do to practically deal with them.
As an example, in her chapter on cheating, she advises the cheater to be ruthlessly honest, even brutally honest, with themselves:
We live in an age that does not appreciate such a thing; to be brutally honest with another is considered rude and nearly always considered "insensitive" because it hurts. To be brutally honest with the self hurts too - it clarifies what is lacking on our own character - but it is also a dicey proposition. Once we are willing to admit to ourselves that we're not quite as honest as we think we are - and that if we think we can get away with something, we'll probably try it - then we have to make sure we don't overcorrect ourselves into neurotic scrupulosity. We also have to remember that God is merciful, and that could tempt us into applying great dollops of mercy all over ourselves, which would, by doing nothing to change our behavior, probably sink us further down into the pit.
What is necessary against this sin is sacramental confession: a real examination of where we have cheated, how we have done it, and what we thought we were getting out of it needs to be undertaken, and then confessed. Consider actually writing things down so that you can really be thorough in your admissions, because you are admitting things to God and to yourself, and naming one's sin aloud is often the catalyst for defeating it.
That excerpt for me is the point of the book, the point in fact of Christianity, to understand and embrace sin's defeat. We cannot do this by diminishing the harmful effects that all sin, not just the biggies, have on the believer. Ms. Scalia clearly knows this and her book effectively communicates it.
Do yourself the favor of picking it up, reading it, inwardly digesting it and then passing it on. You'll not regret doing so.
Until lately, if someone had mentioned patriarchy in the developed world, I would’ve thought we were about to embark on a somewhat archaic conversation. But recent events, crystallized by Target’s decision to open its sex-differentiated bathrooms and fitting rooms to the personal narrative of its customers, have me thinking that patriarchy is alive and well.
Hear me out.
Throughout history, women have been denigrated and oppressed by men. While I don’t always agree with some feminist activists, I certainly acknowledge that I would not have had the opportunities that I have without feminist efforts to right so many wrongs.
Despite these advances, today’s “trans movement” (particularly the transwoman sector) inadvertently takes us back to a time when women were valued based on their appearance, and whether they fit someone else’s preconceived notion of femininity. In essence, all it takes to be a woman today are [fake] breasts and good hair.
As a culture, we are telling women that the feelings and sentiments of a particular group of men – in this case, men who regard themselves as women – matter more than they do. That’s patriarchy by definition, even if women happen to agree to it.
Yes, some individuals suffer from gender dysphoria, but I am very hesitant to say that their struggle gives them the right to identify with the sex of their choice. As a woman, I cannot concede that being female simply means that one wears makeup, sexy lingerie, and a hair-do.
In fact, I was raised in a post-feminist environment where my femininity was not measured by my bra size and whether I could arouse a man. Rather, my female identity was confirmed by science, which demonstrates that every cell of my being is female no matter how I look or what I do.
Much more at the link... all of it wise... all of it sensible... which likely means it'll be ridiculed vigorously by the very people who harp constantly against the patriarchy.
Title of the post taken from this dated piece at Regina I stumbled across today that kept me riveted to the end... a sign of good writing and a very good story.
Here's an excerpt I hope will entice you to read the entire thing:
Looking around me, I saw that a light was on, above an old-fashioned confessional. There was a priest in there, safely concealed behind a screen.
The second I knelt behind that wooden door, a whole lake of tears I didn’t know was inside me welled up. Worse, before I could stop it, the dam broke and the lake poured out of me, in a continuous flow of wracking sobs.
“I-I’m s-sorry, F-Father,” I apologized, between gulps. I couldn’t speak. All I could do was cry.
“That’s all right, my dear,” said a sympathetic voice, with a soft Hispanic lilt. He pushed some Kleenex under the grille towards me, which I gratefully accepted. “Now, my daughter, you can start when you’re ready. I have time.”
It took me a few minutes to finally be able to speak, but when I did, all of my pain poured out. I told that priest about the grave, and the rabbi. About the hopelessness, and the despair. About Marcus, and his addiction. About my success, cold fury, and utter desolation.
“You are trapped by sin,” the priest said, when I had finally subsided. “Do you know what I mean by that?”
“Sin is addictive. Because the Devil – you believe in him? I do. Well, the Devil, he wants us to be miserable. Hopeless. Despairing. This way he can do his dirty work more easily. If we are miserable, we are open to all kinds of bad things. And so, it goes, always downward, in a spiral. Do you understand me?”
“Y-yes,” I whispered, wondering where this was going.
“Ah, so here it is. Your husband comes from a family who is angry with God. So they deny His existence. Your husband denies His existence, too. Correct? You are with me so far?”
“Yes,” I affirmed, snuffling.
“This is very dangerous for them, because it makes them miserable. They stand at the edge of a grave and ask, why? And they receive no answer. It is only the grave that they see. Nothing more. And they know it is their end, too. An open grave is a distressing thing, no?”
“Yes,” I replied, the specter of the raw earth of the grave rising before me. I shivered involuntarily.
“So they are even more miserable. Even their rabbi cannot reach them. Though I do think there is hope for them, simply because they reached out to this rabbi. But this is not enough for your husband. His pain, his despair, sends him back to the drugs, correct?”
“Y-yes,” I nodded in the darkness.
“This is a situation where the Devil is dancing with delight. He is dancing because your husband and his family are choosing despair. Like his uncle, your husband is choosing death, over life. And this is very, very sad,” he sighed heavily.
A careful reading of the two most recent entries in the Plainly Palinincredible category, each now a tad more than two years old (and accessible via the related article links below), would clearly show that the Palin schtick was beginning to get old for me then, an oldness that grew completely stale when she wholeheartedly endorsed Donald Trump in January.
Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin said in an interview that aired Sunday that House Speaker Paul Ryan could be ousted for his hesitancy to back Donald Trump, and suggested Ryan's reluctance was fueled by aspirations to run for president in 2020.
When asked for her thoughts about Ryan's stance on Trump, Palin invoked former Rep. Eric Cantor. The ex-Republican House majority leader, who was viewed as the likely successor to former House Speaker John Boehner, was defeated by a Tea Party challenger in a stunning upset in the 2014 Virginia primary. Ryan ultimately took the position after Boehner retired.
"I think Paul Ryan is soon to be 'Cantored,' as in Eric Cantor," Palin said on CNN. "His political career is over but for a miracle because he has so disrespected the will of the people, and as the leader of the GOP, the convention, certainly he is to remain neutral, and for him to already come out and say who he will not support was not a wise decision of his."
I no longer find myself thinking that Palin is capable of addressing what is or isn't wise and her full-throated endorsement of Trump is likely the flagship reason. Since Ryan is reluctant to support the bigoted, xenophobic and horrifically unqualified Trump, Palin has decided that he should be 'Cantored' which of course is her prerogative, as is my own to decide that she now joins the ranks of those who, thanks to Donald Trump, have been unmasked as anything but principled people.
Ryan, for what it's worth, impressed me not long ago when he did quite the about-face in how he perceives the poor:
"But in a confident America, we aren’t afraid to disagree with each other. We don’t lock ourselves in an echo chamber, where we take comfort in the dogmas and opinions we already hold. We don’t shut down on people — and we don’t shut people down. If someone has a bad idea, we tell them why our idea is better. We don’t insult them into agreeing with us. We try to persuade them. We test their assumptions. And while we’re at it, we test our own assumptions too.
I’m certainly not going to stand here and tell you I have always met this standard. There was a time when I would talk about a difference between “makers” and “takers” in our country, referring to people who accepted government benefits. But as I spent more time listening, and really learning the root causes of poverty, I realized I was wrong. “Takers” wasn’t how to refer to a single mom stuck in a poverty trap, just trying to take care of her family. Most people don’t want to be dependent. And to label a whole group of Americans that way was wrong. I shouldn’t castigate a large group of Americans to make a point.
So I stopped thinking about it that way — and talking about it that way. But I didn’t come out and say all this to be politically correct. I was just wrong. And of course, there are still going to be times when I say things I wish I hadn’t. There are still going to be times when I follow the wrong impulse."
Correcting your course after following the wrong impulse suggests strongly that you've been influenced by some idea, some proposition, some mindset or philosophy that has not only shown you the error of your ways but has given you the courage to change your direction.
My hope is that this influence is Ryan's Catholic faith, the same faith that finds me abandoning both the left and the right when it comes to politics, an abandoning that has accelerated with the rise of Donald Trump and the attitudes put on display by his supporters.
The following video put out by then Father and now Bishop Robert Barron, speaks boldly to what the faith teaches as it relates to what Paul Ryan, in part, is referencing above. Give it a listen. It touches on that which has given me the clarity I've been seeking for most of my life, the clarity I was not finding in political ideology.
I’ve been beating the drum of #NeverTrump everywhere I go the last several days and have been fortunate enough to have some networks offering me the air-time to do it. Interestingly, many on the right side of the aisle keep “warning” me that I’m being used by the lefty media who wishes to co-opt my message to fulfill their own dirty narratives.
The problem with that warning is that I’m in full agreement with the dirty narrative being described.
For the first time in my career, I am completely aligned with the talking points of the left on the GOP presidential nominee. He is a dangerous sociopath who uses xenophobic & racist dog whistles to stoke fear in masses of uninformed voters so that he can get to Washington and use the power of the pen to push billions of dollars to corporations as he cuts deals behind the scenes that benefit the most powerful and corrupt people in the world.
Yes, we’ve actually nominated someone that sounds like he was created in a lab by Michael Moore.
The most disturbing part of this is the fact that most pundits & politicians on the right don’t even entirely disagree with my assessment. They’ve all said as much, over and over, throughout this primary season.
But now that Trump is the presumptive nominee, they’ve all gone silent and some are completely reversing saying that we must unify around planet Trump.
Unifying around Trump is the absolute worst and most dangerous thing we can do. For the next 6 months, there can be many different narratives that take shape. The only one we can be certain about is how Trump will be described which I’ve already helpfully done above.
It was Hilaire Belloc, the great defender of the Catholic faith, who wrote:
“We sit by and watch the barbarian. We tolerate him in the long stretches of peace, we are not afraid. We are tickled by his irreverence; his comic inversion of our old certitudes and our fixed creed refreshes us; we laugh. But as we laugh we are watched by large and awful faces from beyond, and on these faces there are no smiles.”
Donald Trump is that barbarian and I, and Ben Howe (thank God for him), and many others, will not take part in handing to him the reins of power.
God help this country should Trump gain those reins.