Questions in the Blogosphere III

Q: Anchoress, if someone tells you that you cannot be credibly pro-life until you adopt a sick baby, and then you go out and adopt a sick baby (and then a second) and that person – who promised to become “pro-life” if you did it – never kept his end of the bargain, what does that mean?

A: It means you can’t form a conscience in fits and starts. You cannot become “pro-life” because of what someone else does, unless you are really willing to let their actions open up within you what you have previously closed and locked tight. And since Jim Caviezel gives witness that picking up on this friend’s cynical prompting has enriched his life and blessed him, it also means that God speaks to us through anyone – in any way – he chooses, even if they seem unlikely candidates for the job, so you might as well listen up respectfully and be sweet to everybody.

Q: Will there always be an England?

A: Starting to look a little doubtful, isn’t it? Within the last week we’ve seen the nation all but cancel St. George’s Day for fear of insulting their Islamist population, and they allowed the EU to issue a map without Great Britain. Note “The English Channel” is now “The Channel Sea.” My Celtic ancestors must be spinning in their graves. Brits at their Best has more on all that.

Q: So, Anchorage is digging out from yet another massive snowjob snowfall. But these folks say global warming is not cooling. Do you still say it’s all hoo-hah?

A: Yes, I say whether we are in any sort of “preventable” weather cycle is debatable, whether we can actually affect the earth’s weather is dubious (we can’t even predict next week’s weather accurately) and whether any of the interesting weather anomalies is “manmade” is hoo-hah, especially since we steadfastly ignore the sun. Mark Steyn is looking at ethanol ethics, as I did last week and last month. IBD wonders if we can undo the ethanol mistake. There’s all kinds of inconvenient truths out there, but the really troubling one, to my way of thinking, is people going hungry.

Q: Why do you refer to “Manmade” Global Warming as “hoo-hah” – don’t you know that’s a slang for a woman’s private parts?

A: Not in my neck of the woods. I don’t know who calls vaginas and vulva’s “hoohah’s;” on this blog we just call them what they are, and routinely mock the vulvic-worship. I learned “hoo-hah” at the knee of my Jewish neighbors, and I love the way it dismisses nonsense with beautiful and semitic simplicity. Kipling said “a woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke.” I say a vagina is just a vagina, but a surpassing bit of absolute blarney is a hoo-hah!

Q: Are you missing William F. Buckley?

A: Actually I do mean to read God and Man at Yale, but as with Ronald Reagan, I came to appreciation of Buckley rather late. However, there is a new piece up on the man by Fr. George W. Rutler. Rutler, you may remember, was the man who said to Christopher Hitchens, “you will either die a Catholic or a madman…”. Rutler offered to tell Hitchens the difference at that point, and I wish Hitchen had allowed him to, because I really want to know what it is. Hitchens, however, busily plugging his book with a “Whack-a-Christian” tour, did not allow Rutler to explain. This disappointed me. I think as a rule Hitchens’ very curious mind (and his sense of humor) would have looked forward to the answer as a whole new point of debate; but strangely, he didn’t want to know. Speaking of atheism, I notice that Pajamas Media has a feature piece on the Scientific embrace of Atheism, which looks like a good read. I have no problem with atheists, myself. I just think they should be as tolerant of my creed as I am of theirs, and stop trying to force their beliefs on me..

Q: Last week you were unhappy with Lisa Miller at Newsweek for her piece about Pope Benedict; do you like them any better this week?

A: You mean that incredibly tone-deaf piece on why Benedict didn’t “connect” with people? Too funny in retrospect, isn’t it? I have no animus toward Miller or Newsweek; I just think the magazine’s writers are supremely out-of-touch – almost endearingly so – with a huge portion of the country. They prove it again this week with this startlingly bigoted piece by Michael Hirsch in which he basically disses and dismisses people who are not like him and don’t live in the elitist coastal enclaves:

“…what we know today as Red State America. This region was heavily settled by Scots-Irish immigrants–the same ethnic mix King James I sent to Northern Ireland to clear out the native Celtic Catholics…Southern frontiersmen never got over their hatred of the East Coast elites and a belief in the morality and nobility of defying them. Their champion was the Indian-fighter Andrew Jackson. The outcome was that a substantial portion of the new nation developed, over many generations, a rather savage, unsophisticated set of mores. Traditionally, it has been balanced by a more diplomatic, communitarian Yankee sensibility from the Northeast and upper Midwest.

He also calls his fellow countrymen “yahoos” and goes on blathering like that for a while. Well, goldarnit, Barack shure did warned us ’bout folks like this ol’ boy, clingin’, bitterly, to his’n identity n’his secular-humanist creed!

Q: Um, aren’t you a New Yorker?

A: I am, born here and live here now, but there was that whole adolescence spent in the unnamed place among the cowpokes and prospectors, and I will forever have some real perspective into the south and west which allows appreciation. Hirsch should get out more and broaden his horizons a little. There is a whole interesting world beyond the Smuppity West Side.

Q: Aw, did you just invent a word? Smuppity?

A: Why yes, I did. Smug & Uppity = Smuppity. My word, as of right now. But you can use it.

Q: You’re awfully quiet on the Hillary-front, lately.

A: Well, I am busy inventing new words for the lexicon, but Hubbard is both amusing and smart on Hillary today.

Q: So, Anchoress, then you’ve had your fill of writing about Pope Benedict XVI?

A: Well, actually, I am going to be quoting rather extensively from his tremendous book God and the World (which is actually a three-day conversation with writer Peter Seewald, and it’s fascinating) during the week, but for now others are doing Benedict, or things papal, very well indeed. Check out Deacon Greg’s links about the book of victim names which Cardinal Sean O’Malley handed the pontiff in Washington DC (somehow I’d envisioned a yellow legal pad, but I’m not artistic), and this interview with a Jewish journalist covering the pope’s visit. Never forget to check out the Deac’s homily for the week, which is always an insightful gift.

Then check out Irene Lagan’s coverage of the pope’s Regina Caeli address to the audience following his ordination of 29 new priests, during which he mentioned some trouble spots in the world (particularly Africa) and also his recent visit to the US:

I thank God who greatly blessed this unique mission and allowed me to make be an instrument of hope of Christ for the Church and for the country. At the same time I thank him because I myself was confirmed in the hope of American Catholics: I found it a great vitality and determination to live and bear witness to the faith in Jesus.

The tireless Rocco Palmieri has the full text of the address.

Most surprisingly – and worth mentioning in light of Benedict’s ongoing, full-on engagement of both Islam and the Arab peoples – one of the newly-ordained is an Iraqi.

Meanwhile, I totally agree with this comparison between John Paul II and Benedict. And I agree with Rod Dreher that this is a great “commercial” for Catholicism.

Q: Well, you just live in a sunny, “everything-is-beautiful” la-la land, dontcha?

A: No, I don’t, and I’ve had my forays into the darkling company, but I’ve never written about it with Gerard’s power and unstinting honesty. And for a sad but also rather lovely and uplifting story, check out Okie on the Lam’s tribute to his late mother-in-law. The greatness of the Greatest Generation was not gender-exclusive.

Q:Get any interesting review copies, lately?

A: Well…yes and no, but mostly no. I have an advance of A Persistent Peace by Fr. John Dear, S.J., which will soon be released by Loyola Press, (forward by Martin Sheen) and I will talk more about it when I’ve finished it, but so far…well, I’m trying very hard to appreciate the good father’s ultra-pacifist philosophy (and I’m sure some regular readers of the blog may enjoy it) but – perhaps because I am Irish – I don’t quite get it. I know all the intellectual arguments for pacifism (it reduces us to the behavior of the aggressors, violence begets violence, love is the answer) and I even agree with that to a point. There there is that point, where I must say that “yes, love, love, love is the answer but it is not expedient.” And sometimes – as when you have people plotting to release poison in a subway, or something, expedience is the other answer. This is why I can never fully embrace either the “full pacifist” stance or the warrior mentality. Too much of either seems out-of-balance to me, and Fr. Dear’s book – page after page of noble pacifism drenched with hero-worship of Ghandi and Tutu – after a while makes me feel rather clammy. Oh. I guess I did just review it!

On the other hand, Instapundit has received a review copy of a book I wish they’d have sent me: Chesterton on War and Peace: Battling the Ideas and Movements that Led to Nazism and World War II. Insty calls it: A collection of essays, including one on a particular breed of pacifist that Chesterton saw as new in the 20th Century: “He does not so much believe in his own conscience as disbelieve in the common conscience which is the soul of any society. His hatred for patriotism is very much plainer than his love for peace.”

Indeed. Heh.

Speaking of Chesterton, Maureen Martin has some fun with him, here:

Chesterton joked that while his friends Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton led lives that convinced people to help the poor and commune with God, that he, Flannery O’Connor, and Walker Percy were quickly becoming the patron saints of people “who just read all the time.”

Very cute.

Q: Don’t you think Chesterton and Antonin Scalia would have hit it off?

A: Absolutely. I’d love to have seen Stahl interview both of ‘em.

Q: Was that you I saw last Friday night at Carnegie Hall singing Molly Malone with Bryn Terfel?

A: Yep! I agree with Nordlinger, too, that his Mozart was the unintended highlight of the night. Bryn’s voice and Mozart are a match made in heaven.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • KIA

    Another great post (as well as all of your B16s; thank you)! Seewald’s God and the World is one of my favs; next best thing to a one one with Pope Benedict on the big God quesitons. It’s simply brilliant. I’ve come to really love and appreicate the “Q & A” style, be it from you Anchoress or the Pope!

  • Peregrine John

    Speaking of neologisms based on political nonsense, when Clinton was in office (erm, Bill, not Hill) I was working with databases. People with hypenated last names are something of a nuisance in that line of work, so in (ahem) honor of our then-first-lady I coined the term “rodhamize”, meaning to screw up a last-name listing by having extra last names.

    Example: “Dang it, my query got rodhamized again!”

  • gs

    The interests of the United States and the Catholic Church do not necessarily coincide. That doesn’t change the fact that Benedict is an impressive individual who deserves respect.

    I suspect he would have held his own in the discussions among James Madison et al during the Founding.

  • http://www.savkobabe.blogspot.com Gayle J. Miller

    The reporting on the Pope’s visit was both tone deaf and deficient in actual observation! I heard the crowds loud and clear. Didn’t connect? Yeah right!

  • http://ejhill1925.wordpress.com/ ejhill1925

    Will there always be an England? I was researching a piece on Edward R. Murrow’s centenary which was just last week and I came across his farewell broadcast to England in 1946 and his remembrances of Britain’s darkest days.

    “I spent a lot of time on the continent. Young Germans, Czechs, Dutch, French, Poles and all the rest were repeatedly saying, ‘Tell us. You know the British. You’ve lived there. It is true, isn’t it, that they are soft, decadent, have lost faith in themselves and their destiny?’

    “And I always replied, ‘Gentlemen, you may be right. There is evidence to support your point of view. But I have a suspicion that you are wrong. Perhaps you misjudge these young men who are rather languid and wear suede shoes and resolve that they will fight not for King or country.’”

    May God make the English rise up once more and prove themselves “worthy of their ancestors.”

    The rest is here:
    http://ejhill1925.wordpress.com/2008/04/28/edward-r-murrow-centenary/

  • TheAnchoress

    Granny, thanks for the nice words about Benedict. You’re right that the “interests of the US and the Catholic church do not necessarily coincide.”

    What I don’t understand is why that even needs to be said. Did I suggest, somewhere on this blog, that they do or should?

    I’d offer, rather, evidence that while “I” do not think those interests should necessarily co-incide, there are some who view absolutely every issue and everyone through the lens of their politics (not you, Granny, I’m speaking broadly, not personally) and they seem to believe that Benedict needed to come to America to serve their political agendas. See Mortimer’s comment near the end here in which he lists all the way Benedict did not please him politically.

    The Vatican may have a measure of political pull, but the pope is not “conservative” or “liberal.” He is first and foremost a pastor. I can’t begin to tell you how many emails I got either about the pope being “wrong” on this issue or that – mostly about immigration, which some perceived the pope (regardless of what he actually said) to be saying we should have no borders and “just let the Mexicans run rampant!”…to which I had to ask them: The pope is a pastor. Do you really think he is ever going to say to his church, “do not minister to people unless you see the green card?”

  • gs

    Anchoress, I have to admit that my eyebrows rose when I read this:

    Sissy Willis and I exchanged emails and wondered – and we are not the first to do so, obviously – if President Bush, who is inarguably the most “Catholic” president we’ve ever had, will pull a Tony Blair and enter into full communion with the Catholic church after he leaves office. I wondered at how unusual it was for a president to go to the airport to, essentially, “pick up” the pope and she writes: [Bush meeting Benedict at Andrews AFB ] “makes it known to the world that the Leader of the Free World is humble before the Vicar of Christ . . .”

    Some might argue the use of the word “humble,” but I do think it demonstrates the leader of the free world “making way” for the Vicar of Christ. And it is very dramatic. It’s a little earthquake, really, but not everyone will feel it.

    (Btw, the Bush remark in that Noonan column was nothing compared to this one.)

    Despite that, my preceding comment primarily hearkened back to our exchange of views concerning the protocol at Benedict’s arrival. I stand by my remarks, which criticized Bush’s handling of the welcome. My statement that “interests of the US and the Catholic church do not necessarily coincide” is in that context.

    Quite apart from Bush’s performance, I still recall being impressed by the coherence and depth of the statement Benedict released on the occasion, but I never got around to acknowledging that until today. (Bill Clinton might have an intellect to rival Benedict’s, but–obviously!–not his principled discipline. Like Benedict, Ronald Reagan thought things through all the way from from first principles to pragmatic action, but he did not communicate as a traditional intellectual.)

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com/ Bender B. Rodriguez

    The interests of the United States and the Catholic Church do not necessarily coincide.

    I’m not so sure about that. True, one is a nation and the other is a church, and the focus of the Catholic Church is necessarily Jesus Christ, while such cannot be the focus of a nation that values religious freedom. But to the extent that the United States seeks truth, which is largely what America-the-idea is all about (even if the United States-the-country occasionally fails to live up to that ideal), then the interests of the United States and the Catholic Church very much coincide.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident – that all men are created equal and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. That sounds awfully consistent with the Church’s constant teaching on the inherent dignity and equality of each human person. (And although such truths are self-evident, they are demonstrably not universal. One only need look to a non-Western nation and culture to see that.)

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com/ Bender B. Rodriguez

    Clarification: the self-evident truths of the human person ARE universal, but they are not universally held to be true.

  • http://sailorette.blogspot.com/ Foxfier

    Well, you just live in a sunny, “everything-is-beautiful” la-la land, dontcha?
    “We are an Easter people; Hallelujah is our song.”

    As for your unease with “peace is the answer”– I seem to recall being told that sometimes you HAVE to act to stop folks who are about to do great wrongs, to protect those they target or/and to protect *them* from a great sin. You’re not allowed to have their death and harm as a goal, but if it is the only way to stop them, you’re morally *required* to act.

  • http://www.savkobabe.blogspot.com Gayle J. Miller

    Favorite WFB books, anyone? Mine is “Inveighing We Will Go” plus ALL the Blackford Oakes novels.

  • TheAnchoress

    Granny, appreciate the response and now I see where you were coming from. My exchange with Sissy was two Catholics wondering about something that would be exciting news for us, but I did qualify Sissy’s remarks, and in no way did I mean (although I can see where you inferred it) that America herself serving Rome or that she should. Whether you can see that as a wish that America would cede its interests to Rome is a stretch.

    What the thought was: here is the most powerful man in the world, and he puts this representative of Christ before him. If “Vicar of Christ” bothers – and I know it rankles some – I think Sissy and I would have marveled just as much had Bush greeted Billy Graham in such a way. Does that help? :-)

    As to Bush’s remarks, I feel kind of badly for him. When he was in Rome last year he caught hell for calling the Pope “sir.” Now he catches it for being too deferential. No matter what he does, he seems to piss people off, so I think he’s just decided to be himself and let people get annoyed, because they will, anyway!

    If you like Benedict’s reasoning, I hope you’re consider The Ratzinger Report or God and the World – the latter is what I’m reading right now and honestly, his comments in this conversation impress the heck out of me largely because – as you say – he reasons a thing through so thoroughly and seemingly without effort.

  • OBloodyHell

    > they allowed the EU to issue a map without Great Britain

    Maybe they don’t care because they’ve finally gotten sense and been planning to leave the EU… LOL.

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com/ Bender B. Rodriguez
  • OBloodyHell

    Q: Aw, did you just invent a word? Smuppity?

    A: Why yes, I did. Smug & Uppity = Smuppity. My word, as of right now. But you can use it.

    ——————

    “When I make a word do work like that, I pay it extra!”
    ;o)

  • FARRWESTMOM

    I’ve enjoyed the posts about the Pope, not being Catholic or even being around very many devout ones, it is nice to learn about such a good and Christlike man, thank-you for teaching me about him and your beliefs. I see that there is much we have in common, not doctrinally but spiritually, Gods loves us all. Some day soon I hope you get a hankering to post cowboy style again I do so enjoy it when you do.

  • gs

    Anchoress, let me try again. That the interests of the United States and Catholic Church do not necessarily coincide (pace Rodriguez) is one of the reasons why Bush should not have broken his own precedent and greeted Benedict at the airport.

    I continue to maintain that and understand that your view differs, but I don’t understand why you write

    …in no way did I mean (although I can see where you inferred it) that America herself serving Rome or that she should. Whether you can see that as a wish that America would cede its interests to Rome is a stretch.

    I do not interpret Bush’s blunder as an attempt to put America in the service of Rome, and I don’t see how my comments on the Benedict visit contain such an inference.

    What the thought was: here is the most powerful man in the world, and he puts this representative of Christ before him. If “Vicar of Christ” bothers – and I know it rankles some – I think Sissy and I would have marveled just as much had Bush greeted Billy Graham in such a way.

    And I would have been just as critical. Probably more so, because of separation of church and state.

    Hopefully I’m clearing up any unintended connotations. :-)

  • TheAnchoress

    Yes, Granny, much clearer, thank you. I think my stumbling block is perhaps one that is rooted in the fact that Bush is NOT a Catholic, and that I – as a Catholic – have that whole ingrained habit of getting comfortable with dualities. I looked at that – overwhelmingly – as the enthusiasm of a Christian man greeting a religious/politico hybrid who shared those values which define Bush most broadly both in his political and his spiritual life – namely the sacred nature of both life and human liberty – and letting his appreciation of that ally perhaps overrun his protocol.

    In the end, you are probably right in that Bush – were he going by the book – should not have done it. But Bush has been eschewing the book and running by his heart for a while now – for better or worse. I frankly have long suspected that Bush encountered something of a supernatural nature or event after 9/11 – but I daren’t ever express it here. I do think, though, that it plays into this whole thing.

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