Rainy Sunday Read

Yes, it’s quiet over here.

It’s quiet so’s I can listen to the rain pattering on my roof, while I plow my way through Mark Steyn’s latest:

As a rule I have stopped reading ideological and political books because increasingly they contain 40 interesting pages — which are always well-covered in the reviews and promo tours — and 250 pages of boredom-unto-torpor, but I’m halfway through Steyn, and not bored, yet. I am horrified, depressed, disturbed and a little mind-blown, but definitely not bored.

And yes, I’m recommending you pick this one up and read it. Give one to your kid to read before they leave for college, along with this and this.

Look for my Tuesday column at First Things to cover the book. Meanwhile, what are you reading?

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Yes, love Charles Williams; “Many Dimensions” is good, though I got more out of “War in Heaven”, and “Place of the Lion.”

    Like “Tale of Genji,” as did my father, but, no, you can’t be in a hurry to read that. And both my father and brother loved Rex Stout.

  • Joseph Marshall

    And I believe this is the case with Liberals because they lack the maturity of true spiritual introspection and humility. Their ideology is more accurately fostered in selfishness, hate, revenge, and envy, but they have convinced themselves that those broken motives are really just righteous anger that is borne out of their hyper-awareness to charity and compassion.

    The chronic and utterly absurd projective fantasy that gets pushed upon us constantly is well nigh unconquerable.

    Here are the real Progressive principles, as far as I understand them:

    Equality Of Opportunity, aka The Level Playing Field

    Liberty under Law: due process of law, the equal protection of the law, and law to separate Liberty from Licence

    Realism About Facts, Reason, Cause, Effect, and Results, aka Taxes=Services and Sauce For The Goose Is Sauce For The Gander

    Promoting the General Welfare: the reasonable restraint of private interests when they are incompatible with the public interest.

    No “bleeding hearts” or phony compassion needed, thank you.

  • James

    (Dan said – “Rejection of one tenet of the Truth is not a complete and “constant battle” despite however important homosexuality looms in your view.”)

    Why would you reject any tenet of Truth? And if you reject a facet of the Truth, then why not reject any and all Truth?

    By what authority does a Liberal Catholic choose to reject such a basic and profound Truth as the disordered state of homosexuality?

    (“Liberals are not the Enemy. They are humans you are called to love in Christ.”)

    True. But I dislike liberal ideology. And if I am called to love and to serve Christ and His Church, then how could I not hold in disdain such a corrupt ideology? Christ loved the prostitute, but He clearly rejected her prostitution:

    “Go, and sin no more.”

  • James

    (Joseph said – “Equality Of Opportunity, aka The Level Playing Field”)

    That loaded Liberal precept alone has been used to oppose the Church on issues such as a male-only priesthood, and to advance gay-marriage, social justice through socialism, the rejection of subsidiarity, and wealth redistribution.

    Liberalism at it’s basis rejects authority and tradition, two vital cornerstones of The Roman Catholic Church.

  • Anonymous

    “That loaded Liberal precept…”

    First of all, you are confusing two things, a principle and its application. I had none of the things you are talking about in mind. The Level Playing Field has to do with economic opportunity, and it can be articulated as a question: Does every American, no matter what their income, race, religion, ect. have the realistic chance to accumulate significant net worth from their employment?

    I think that is a reasonable question to ask, and a reasonable thing to expect in our country. If you work, and are paid, you ought to have a real opportunity to transform your mere income into more net worth, through saving, investing, home purchase, or whatever.

    Frankly, none of that other stuff has anything to do with what I am talking about. The paradigm of it is FDIC and FSLIC. They protect the accumulating wealth by insuring the depositors. And they protect the general public interest because everybody benefits from stable and reliable banks. Everybody.

    So that is the principle: government involvement in the market to encourage and foster saving, investment, and enterprise. This is something that the Federal Government has been doing since the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, generally, in the 19th Century, in the form of grants of land, the US Post Office, and the presence of Federal troops and US Marshals in the developing territories in the proximity of new settlements.

    It’s gotten more complicated since, with things such as the Federal Reserve System, and so on, but the outlines of the basic principle are still quite clear.

    Can you address the question I’ve just asked?

    “Liberalism at it’s basis rejects authority and tradition, two vital cornerstones of The Roman Catholic Church.”

    Frankly, you have the matter the wrong way around. The Roman Catholic Church has never come to any permanent terms with the philosophical basis of the US Government: that the authority of government derives from the people governed.

    Since, doctrinally, the Church’s view is that all authority derives from God, it is explicitly in philosophical opposition to “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Now, pragmatically, we all have adjusted to one another, but the philosophical opposition still remains. And whether you realize it or not, it is central to conflicts such as those over gay marriage. The real question is this: does the government have the authority to define who can and cannot marry? The real conflict is over this. The rest of it is, frankly, comic relief.

    As far as tradition goes, we have an informal standard here that any object of an age of greater than 50 years is an “antique”. In the eyes of Europe or East Asia, this is laughable. And, in frank fact, all attempts to define American “traditions”, the D.A.R., and so on, are also comedy.

    If we use the standard of 20 years to define a “generation”, America has lasted a mere twelve generations. Twelve generations from Calvary, Christianity was a fledgling religion, one of many, in the mighty Roman Empire.

    Your religion has traditions, and so has mine, but America has no real traditions, it hasn’t been around long enough to form them, and the very fact that it was founded on Liberty, has meant that virtually everything that has happened here has been provisional, and highly experimental.

    And both your traditions and mine are irrelevant to this fact.

    Now I can hardly say that the Dharma has cornerstones of authority and tradition. Its cornerstones are realism about the human condition as we find it, and effective action in response to how we find it. It’s working basis is the transmission of vows of conduct, which actually requires a community [at least 3 fully ordained monks] for the full vows of ordination to be transmitted.

    But, whatever “cornerstones” Buddhism may have, it does not insist that everybody else has to use those cornerstones in every single new foundation built, whatever the purpose of the building.

    And to a Buddhist, the notion that it would do so is just plain silly.

  • Joseph Marshall

    “That loaded Liberal precept…”

    First of all, you are confusing two things, a principle and its application. I had none of the things you are talking about in mind. The Level Playing Field has to do with economic opportunity, and it can be articulated as a question: Does every American, no matter what their income, race, religion, ect. have the realistic chance to accumulate significant net worth from their employment?

    I think that is a reasonable question to ask, and a reasonable thing to expect in our country. If you work, and are paid, you ought to have a real opportunity to transform your mere income into more net worth, through saving, investing, home purchase, or whatever.

    Frankly, none of that other stuff has anything to do with what I am talking about. The paradigm of it is FDIC and FSLIC. They protect the accumulating wealth by insuring the depositors. And they protect the general public interest because everybody benefits from stable and reliable banks. Everybody.

    So that is the principle: government involvement in the market to encourage and foster saving, investment, and enterprise. This is something that the Federal Government has been doing since the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, generally, in the 19th Century, in the form of grants of land, the US Post Office, and the presence of Federal troops and US Marshals in the developing territories in the proximity of new settlements.

    It’s gotten more complicated since, with things such as the Federal Reserve System, and so on, but the outlines of the basic principle are still quite clear.

    Can you address the question I’ve just asked?

    “Liberalism at it’s basis rejects authority and tradition, two vital cornerstones of The Roman Catholic Church.”

    Frankly, you have the matter the wrong way around. The Roman Catholic Church has never come to any permanent terms with the philosophical basis of the US Government: that the authority of government derives from the people governed.

    Since, doctrinally, the Church’s view is that all authority derives from God, it is explicitly in philosophical opposition to “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Now, pragmatically, we all have adjusted to one another, but the philosophical opposition still remains. And whether you realize it or not, it is central to conflicts such as those over gay marriage. The real question is this: does the government have the authority to define who can and cannot marry? The real conflict is over this. The rest of it is, frankly, comic relief.

    As far as tradition goes, we have an informal standard here that any object of an age of greater than 50 years is an “antique”. In the eyes of Europe or East Asia, this is laughable. And, in frank fact, all attempts to define American “traditions”, the D.A.R., and so on, are also comedy.

    If we use the standard of 20 years to define a “generation”, America has lasted a mere twelve generations. Twelve generations from Calvary, Christianity was a fledgling religion, one of many, in the mighty Roman Empire.

    Your religion has traditions, and so has mine, but America has no real traditions, it hasn’t been around long enough to form them, and the very fact that it was founded on Liberty, has meant that virtually everything that has happened here has been provisional, and highly experimental.

    And both your traditions and mine are irrelevant to this fact.

    Now I can hardly say that the Dharma has cornerstones of authority and tradition. Its cornerstones are realism about the human condition as we find it, and effective action in response to how we find it. It’s working basis is the transmission of vows of conduct, which actually requires a community [at least 3 fully ordained monks] for the full vows of ordination to be transmitted.

    But, whatever “cornerstones” Buddhism may have, it does not insist that everybody else has to use those cornerstones in every single new foundation built, whatever the purpose of the building.

    And to a Buddhist, the notion that it would do so is just plain silly.

  • greta

    I am not sure how we went from discussing books by Steyn and Coulter both clearly pointing out the flaws of the liberal mindset to getting the Catholic Church involved. I thought we were talking about the US and the impact of the liberal arguments on socialist or progressive policies which we need to get rid of before we drown in debt. While I see the liberal and conservative or orthodox thought in the Catholic Church, in many ways it is not driven by Catholic teaching, but by the invasion of liberal policies at odds with true Catholic teaching which then require the distortion of that same Catholic teaching.

    This can be pointed out with the phrase of a Catholic who is personally opposed to the gravest of all evil, the taking of human life with abortion requiring the kubuki dance of then voting for political hacks who keep it legal and supporting in every way. This of course came up again with the clear Catholic teaching of marriage is always between one man and one woman now and forever and that gay lifestyle is a grave evil. Here the liberal has to ignore church teaching on a very important issue. The usual method is to bring up war (note, WWI started with progressive Democrat in charge; WWII started with a progressive Democrat in charge; Korea started with a Democrat in Charge; Vietnam started in full strength with a progressive Democrat in Charge) or helping the poor which has to be defined by ever larger and bigger government programs that always are run poorly and run us to the poor house or by welfare programs that reward the wrong behavior like giving money to single moms so they can afford to have more kids out of wedlock. There has been no liberal progressive socialist government in world history that has been successful and the redistribution of wealth never works.

    The people that really need to read books by Steyn and Coulter never do prefering to try to shut them up rather than read and open their mind to simple logic and fact. The Anchoress often says she came from the liberal mindset but I prefer to think she came from what use to be a relatively centrist democrat party that turned radically right. I have no issue with centrist even as i come from the conservative viewpoint after a career in business as a woman CEO who learned the hard way about human development and incentive needs. It is those who continue to lie on the far left in la la land that does not exist. It is a land where tolerance of all thought is the sacred commandment unless you disagree with their viewpoint and then there is a strong effort to shut you up. While the conservatives fight for values with argument, and at times we go over the top with comments, we fight for the right of all to speak and be heard. When I say our country is better off with less liberal thought and values, it is based on the crazy ideas such as obamacare, medicare, medicaid, welfare, and the like which never seem to end, are never funded, and are always poorly managed with great waste.

  • virago

    I am usually a voracious reader, but right now I am reading a book describing different collage techniques.

    After a long dry period, I finally have something I wish to communicate to the world, I have an for a series of mixed media pieces based on the Stations of The Cross.

    So, I am reading how-to books detailing image transfer processes, inkjet printers, different painting supplies and medium etc…..

    But to the idea of Catholic Orthodoxy; I, too, can’t grasp that.

    I left the Catholic church (in Oklahoma where I was brought up) in 70′s when I was in college because it wasn’t liberal enough; I grew, examined and realigned my belief system.

  • virago

    Cont.

    Now (and this is the funny part), after returning to the Catholic Church, I have moved to Seattle and I have found the Catholic Church too liberal for me.

    Actually, it is the Catholic Community here, but it always the communities isn’t? The Popes all teach the same wisdom as was taught by Jesus.

    It’s the @$#% human race that makes the difference.

    Good night and God bless all of you, my brothers and sisters.

    virago

  • virago

    One last though to Greta or anyone else up this late;

    When it comes to social justice; I feel the worst, most harmful trespass is the one that circumvents and stifles the truest gift given us, our free will.

    And while it is true in America governance from both sides can be called out on this , the current administration is breathtakingly guilty on this issue.

    And now, truly Good Night!!!

  • James

    Joseph, my entire point is that Liberalism conflicts with Catholicism. And all of the points you are making do nothing but confirm that point. You’re simply implying that the government should be the ultimate arbiter of it’s own atheistic form of morality and that all theological points of view should take a back seat to that authority in all matters.

    (“Does every American, no matter what their income, race, religion, ect. have the realistic chance to accumulate significant net worth from their employment?”)

    That question is so filled with vague and relative terms that it defies any interpretive meaning on it’s surface.

    “American”? Does that include non-citizens such as illegal aliens? “no matter what their income”? Does that include those who draw unemployment? Those who pay no taxes?
    “the realistic chance” Well, that is so open to interpretation that it is completely meaningless. “significant net worth” That can mean significantly different things to different people.

    What you and all Liberals want is not a right to pursue an individual standard of happiness, but rather, you want a bureaucratic guarantee of a standardize “happiness”. And of course, what makes all Liberals happy, is a system that punishes the evil wealthy class. Because in your minds, no one can accumulate a “fortune” unless they rob some poor defenseless lower class in order to do so.

    When I was a Liberal, I at least had the good sense and respect to LEAVE the Catholic Church. I didn’t try to defy it, to change it, to hijack it, to bastardize it into a political ideology that it was never meant to be. So why do Liberal Catholics insist on doing that?

    And why are you proselytizing your Buddhism again? What does the atheistic “cornerstones” of Buddha have to do with the authority and tradition of the Catholic Church, other than undermine them? You’re either, trying to convert Liberal Catholics to Buddhism (which is fine), or you’re try to encourage the Church to change to an atheistic (humanist) Buddhism, which is not fine.

    If anyone finds the basic precepts of the Roman Catholic Church disagreeable, then please don’t try to change them to your personal liking. Either seek to understand their reasoning more fully, or simply leave.

    It’s really that simple.

    [James. You've got to be kidding me. NOBODY tells another commenter to leave on MY site. NOBODY. The ONLY person who gets to do that, around here, is ME...and right now I am feeling really, really tempted. You especially do not get to tell Joseph, who has been commenting here in civility for six years, that he should leave. Since he has been here for so long, and you're pretty new, perhaps you don't realize that Joseph is a Buddhist who has taken shots from his own co-religionists for writing strong defenses of Pope Benedict XVI, or that his thoughtful exchanges on prayer, in these comboxs, caused a woman to RETURN to the Catholic faith, as she shared with me in an email; in reading our back-and-forths, something finally "clicked" with her, and she wrote to tell me this and to ask me to let Joseph know that he had be helped her find her way back to church. In another thread you mentioned that you don't realize all you don't know. That's the beginning of wisdom, and it should bring humility. When it comes to Joseph -- who openly struggles at times with bipolar disorder, and always lets us know when that's going on (and it seems to be well-controlled currently) manners matter. Yes, sometimes Joseph gets himself fired up -- we all do, sometimes -- but he always apologizes; Yes, sometimes he irks, sometimes we irk him, but he keeps coming back and trying to engage and re-engage in peace, which to me is a demonstration of his faithfulness to the concept of civil debate and also to the concept of friendship. Yes, he disagrees with much we say politically and socially but because he takes his religion seriously he treats our beliefs with appropriate respect. He is NOT proselytizing when he explains the different perspectives he draws from his faith or compares them to our understandings -- he's only trying to help to explain HOW his faith informs that perspective, so we can see where he is coming from.

    There are damn few places left in this world where people of differing perspectives can still manage a civil word to each other, or are even making an attempt to comprehend each other, but I've tried to make these comboxes one of those places. I may not be able to, much longer, because our hypersensitive, hyperangry society seems intent upon misconstruing and taking offense at all times, which as far as I am concerned is diabolical disorientation -- the devil's own work -- and I am trying to resist that disorientation taking hold here. When it gets to the point that I have to police comments, I'll shut them down.

    I suggest you pull back, and tap into some of that newfound wisdom/humility you expressed, and let people be who they are, without telling them where to get off, and if you can't do it for Christ's sake, then do it for no other reason than to recall that this is MY site, not yours, and that all here are welcome on MY say-so, not yours. :-) Okay? I can't believe I even had to say this, and I hope everyone hears it, b/c I won't say it twice. admin]

  • James

    To greta at comment 57,

    That’s a very good summary. Excellent post. Thank you.

  • James

    To virago at comment 59,

    I had a similar experience. I think Catholics who have been to the more Liberal side and have grown away from that ideology have a clearer understanding and appreciation of the specious, vacuous, and self-centered nature of progressivism.

    It truly is rooted in a rather adolescent, militant mindset.

  • Doc

    Joseph, I’m not sure how you can claim that America has no real traditions. That comes across as rather condescending. From the beginning, Americans developed a tradition on independence, self-reliance, and self-defense. This is why we so fiercely defend our right to own and carry guns and why we love the automobile. Liberals want to shove Americans onto public transportation because the car represents a freedom the Statists cannot control. Public transportation requires people to be dependant on someone else’s time schedule and the government’s efficiency. No thank you. I prefer to be able to go where I want when I want.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Virago, I sympathize!

    I found the Catholic Church too restricive, left it—came back many years later, and found it way too liberal, not to mention leftist, in its thinking! I joined the Syrian Orthodox Church (“Orthodox” here, being what this church calls itself—let’s not get nitpicking about meanings, here.)

    One problem—there is no such thing as “Social” Justice; there’s only Justice.

    As for entrist, Catholic democrats, yes, many of them would be considered red-necked, narrow-minded conservatives, by the Democrats of today. for instance, they were completely opposed to abortion.

    God bless you, too, and let us know how your art is coming along!

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Doc, another problem with public transportation—when the bus drivers, mechanics, engineers unions etc., etc., etc., go on strike—and they will go on strike at some point, it’s inevitable—-then you’re left high and dry, with no way whatsoever to get around, unless you live where everything’s within walking distance, you can get someplace by bike or you have a friend with one of those awful cars who’se willing to drive you around.

    Also, try lugging heavy bags of groceries onto a bus. Anything more than one bag is pretty much impossible to manage.


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