One of the central themes of the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI has been the Holy Father’s repeated invitation to the secular West, not only that it recall the place of God in human life and in the development of the culture of the West, but that in so doing, our culture turn away from the skepticism about human reason that has infected Western thought, that we, as a culture, rededicate ourselves to the idea that Truth – with a capital “T” – is accessible and not merely the sum total of subjective whims, but true at all times and in all places.
Kansas State Representative Connie O'Brien, evidently unwittingly - which is the most damning part of this - gave yet more evidence that racism has infected the GOP's views of immigrants. During a committee meeting she said that she knew a young woman was an immigrant because of her olive complexion. "But we could tell by looking at her that she was not originally from this country," O'Brien said.
If she talks like a racist, she's a racist. I will wait for some Republican - any Republican - to call O'Brien. Why do I suspect I will be waiting unto eternity?
The Paulus Institute will hold its annual Traditional Latin Mass at the National Shrine in Washington this April. Last year, there was some controversy surrounding the event: the intended presider, Cardinal Castrillon-Hoyos, had to beg out at the last minute for fear that his publicly leaked letter urging a bishop not to cooperate with civil authorities regarding a priest accused of sexual molestation of minors threatened to distract attention from the event. Bishop Slattery of Tulsa filled in at the last moment.
One of the things that warms the Tridentine Mass's devotees is the appearance of a prelate in the full cappa magna. My colleague Tom Fox wrote an article about the reappearance of the cappa of late. As he noted, the garment evokes memories of a time - a bad time in the event - when bishops were surrounded by the equivalent of a court atmosphere. Think the Tudors in long robes.
Last week, I called attention to an important new book by Charles Camosy of Fordham, Too Expensive To Treat? Finitude, Tragedy and the Neonatal ICU.
If you have not yet purchased that book - and you should have by now - here is a short article by Professor Camosy on the topic to whet your appetite.
Roger Hodge has an essay at Politico this morning urging liberals to reclaim the Founding Fathers. He points to the arguments between Madison and Hamilton during the early years of the newly constituted federal government as providing plenty of material for liberals to launch the kind of principled populism that is entirely consistent with some of the concerns Madison and Jefferson voiced about the concentration of moneyed interests and their ability to affect the government.
Harold Meyerson has an article today about the attempts by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to deny unions to the right to collectively bargain on behalf of their workers. This is a direct, frontal assault on one of the mainstays of Catholic social teaching, dating back to Rerum Novarum in 1891 and reaffirmed by Pope Benedict in his encyclical Caritas in Veritate and, as recently as Monday, by Cardinal Peter Turkson in his address to the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering.
This conservative attack on unions in America calls to mind Ronald Reagan's attack on unions in the 1980s. Reagan liked unions in Poland but not in Peoria.
The assault of federal funding of Planned Parenthood by, among others, Congressman Mike Pence, is doomed to fail this year. Even if Pence gets the measure through the House, attaches it to an important, must-pass piece of legislation and therefore gets it through the Senate, I suspect Obama would use his veto pen to send the measure back to Congress. But, Pence is still right to bring his proposals up because Planned Parenthood funding seems to run counter to what is emerging as the “consensus of ambivalence” about abortion and its relationship to the federal government.
Planned Parenthood is both the largest recipient of federal monies awarded under Title X and the nation’s largest abortion provider. As Pence says, if Planned Parenthood wants to receive government monies for its other activities, it should get out of the abortion business. I agree entirely.
According to a new poll, half of all likely Republican primary voters think President Obama was not born in the U.S. or are unsure. Among these "birthers" Sarah Palin enjoys an 83 percent favorability rating. The next time someone tells you they do not think Palin can win a primary because she lacks gravitas, ask yourself is gravitas is going to be a pressing concern among a majority of GOP primary voters!
Fir light reading, better to say reading that is unrelated to work, I am making my way through David Watkin's history of English architecture. And he begins chapter 4 with these words: " We ended the last chapter on a certain note of alarm at the change in patronage effected by the Reformation in England. Thus, after the break with Rome we find little architectural patronage by Henry VIII, less by Elizabeth and virtually none by the Anglican Church. This, indeed, is the first chapter which not only does not have ecclesiastical buildings as its main theme but in which there is no need to mention a single church at all!"
Mike Kinsley has been asking tough questions of America's politicians and policy makers for years. In a brilliant essay at Politico, he asks why we should want home prices, as opposed to virtually every other commodity, to rise? It is a provocative question and, as a homeowner, I am not sure I agree with his conclusion, but I am sure in light of his essay that some of my reasons are selfish reasons.
That said, you can't underestimate the social value of encouraging homeownership. People whose roots in a community are more solid and of greater duration are much more likely to contribute to the well-being of that community. In a society as fast-paced as our own, economically structured arouond a system that is inherently risky, and risky by design, stability is a good thing, and homeownership, with the prospect of rising home values, imparts that stability.