Kim Jong Il is Dead; New Tyrants Come

While you were sleeping our already-roiling world took another hit to its tenuous stability:North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has died at the age of 69, state-run television has announced.Mr Kim, who has led the communist nation since the death of his father in 1994, died on a train while visiting an area outside the capital, the announcement said.He suffered a stroke in 2008 and was absent from public view for months.Pyongyang described his son Kim Jong-un as the "great successor" … [Read more...]

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Bishopalooza! Great American Bishops -UPDATED

Recently the Gregorian Institute polled some Catholic bloggers and writers, asking them to name the top ten American Catholic Intellectuals, lay or clergy.I was flattered to be among those polled, but never did manage to participate. For the record, the (slightly controversial) Top Ten came in as follows:1. Orestes Brownson (1803–1876) 2. John Courtney Murray (1904-1967) 3. John Senior (1923-1999) 4. Avery Dulles (1918-2008) 5. James Schall (1928-) 6. Ralph McInerny (1929-2010) 7. … [Read more...]

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Religious Persecution in the USA? – UPDATED

(Photo: Saturday Evening Post)Yesterday I linked to several stories that outlined the growing tension between our government and our churches.Today at Patheos, two more perspectives:Russell Shaw declares The Persecution of Religion has Begun and explains: "Don't think I'm making the wild-eyed claim that this new persecution either is or ever is likely to become a bloody one resembling the purges of the French and Mexican Revolutions or the Communist war on religion—eruptions of v … [Read more...]

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Internet Addiction, Spam and Comboxes

My spam filter currently has 900 spams, and counting, and the situation can't be rectified until Monday.Meanwhile, this weekend is work-packed for me and I'm way too busy this weekend to keep fishing through new spam to find legitimate comments, so I am closing comments through Sunday, and perhaps Monday, depending on whether I get everything done.Besides, the comboxes are routinely unpleasant these days and I'm kind of sick of that.There is a whole combox merry-go-round of sneers … [Read more...]

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Barone, the Puppeteer and the Credentials FlimFlam

I agree with Michael Barone, in his defense of the "pampered Puppeteer":Conservative bloggers and commenters have been making fun of [Joe] Therrien, who quit his job as a drama teacher in New York City public schools to get a Master of Fine Arts in puppetry at the University of Connecticut.Now he’s saddled with $35,000 in student loans and unable to find a puppetry job. So he’s substitute teaching at half his former pay and is a member of Occupy Wall Street’s Puppetry Guild. [...] … [Read more...]

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When Optimisim is a Strange God

“Optimism is a matter optics, of seeing what you want to see and not seeing what you don't want to see. Hope, on the other hand, is a Christian virtue. It is the unblinking acknowledgment of all that militates against hope, and the unrelenting refusal to despair. We have not the right to despair, and, finally, we have not the reason to despair” ― Richard John Neuhaus, The Best of the Public SquareShortly after I wrote this column discussing Mark Steyn's book, After America, I got an email f … [Read more...]

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The Priest as Bridge and Balm – UPDATED

Over on the Dedicated-Catholic page of Patheos' symposium on the Future of Seminary Education, two more entries, and I think they're both exceptional expositions of both the challenges facing our new generation of priests, and the profound gift of opportunity that lies within those very challenges.Read Deacon Greg Kandra's remarkable and moving story (it made me cry) of Father Martino BaThong Nguyen, who was born in great deprivation in Vietnam and now serves in the Diocese of Savannah in … [Read more...]

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Who are the American Catholic Intellectuals?

Back in March, writing for his "In Ages Past" column, Pat McNamara filed an informative piece on Orestes Brownson, a name that left many scratching their heads and wondering, "whozat?"In 1937, New York City police investigated a vandalism case on West 104th Street and Riverside Drive, where teenagers had toppled and defaced a statue dedicated to Orestes A. Brownson (1803-1876). After extensive investigation, police couldn't find anyone that knew who Brownson was.It turned out that he had a … [Read more...]

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Freedom of Religion Under Assault

I have to stop blogging and start writing two columns and an introduction to a book, but I wanted to just encourage you to be aware of two important stories, and perhaps take the time to make a phone call or send an email:Julie at Happy Catholic writes: ...Margaret at ten thousand places rightly points out that this is a much bigger issue. Which is, of course, what Keith Rothfus points out in his letter.And, I forgot that today is the deadline.Today is the last day to voice your concerns … [Read more...]

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Gov't Destruction of Healthy Communities

Don't know if it's a case of good intentions gone awry, or a genuine motive of greed and the sort of crony capitalism we still see in force, but I think it's true that a "poor" neighborhood is not especially a bad neighborhood. I once lived in an area some characterized as a "slum." It was a friendly place where people looked out for each other.This neighborhood seemed really healthy in its sense of community, and it seemed to have lots of intact and happy families. Two things our nation … [Read more...]

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