My review of a new book "Mrs. Mattingly's Miracle" is posted this morning over at the New Republic. I highly recommend both the review and the book!
It is not with a sense of schadenfreude that I heard the news that former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich had been convicted on multiple charges of corruption, most but not all relating to his attempt to “sell” the Senate seat President Obama vacated upon his election and which Blagojevich had the legal right to fill. I take no delight in the prospect of any man going to prison for 300 years, which is what Blagojevich is facing. But, I do take delight in the verdict as a vindication for the idea that no man is above the law and that, in the realm of politics, no crime is more grave than manipulating our constitutional system.
Peter Berkowitz is one of the three smartest people I have ever met. Our politics differ widely, but his commentaries are always thoughtful and profoundly intelligent, informed by his habit of devouring literature and articles and an almost super-human ability to recall everything he has ever read.
In the current Weekly Standard, Berkowitz reviews a new book by Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner, "Religion and Politics In a New Era." I do quibble with Berkowitz's line about "our universities." Our? My alma mater, Catholic University, taught me very well how to resist intellectual fads of the kind Berkowitz finds unsatisfying. But, the review - and the book - are the kinds of conservative contributions our national political debate needs. There is no Ayn Rand foolishness here, no ahistorical renderings of the founding, no Tea Party hatefulness.
Michael Barbaro has a detailed look at the behind-the-scenes lobbying effort in the New York legislature to pass gay marriage in the New York Times. It is well worth the read, especially his analysis of why the Church was unable to sway the debate as it wished.
Alan Wolfe has a very smart, concise review of a book about Reinhold Niebuhr by John Patrick Diggins, published posthumously after Diggins untimely death in 2009. Wolfe, who is a careful thinker and writer, clarifies some of the ways that Niebuhr is invoked carelessly by those with a political agenda. Well worth the read.
One of the commenters on my blog post about playing the organ at St. Joseph’s Church mentioned going on an “organ crawl” in Holland. For those unfamiliar with the term, an “organ crawl” is when one or more organists make a tour of instruments in a region. I do not know why the word “crawl” is employed, except that some organs are in lofts with difficult access.
In the event, my organ crawl of Northeast Connecticut continued this weekend. On Friday, I went to St. Mark’s Episcopal Chapel in Storrs, Connecticut, located right on the campus of the University of Connecticut. St. Mark’s hosts a 1978 organ built by John Brombaugh, an organ builder in Oregon. In that summer of 1978, I was a go-fer on the project of installing this organ and learned a great deal about the intricate mechanics of the instrument.
Today is the Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist, the patronal feast of the island of Puerto Rico and especially of the archdiocese of San Juan. So, a hearty "Feliz Fiesta" to Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez of San Juan and to all our readers on that blessed isle.
At the New Republic, Peter schrag writes about a new memo from the Obama administration that suggests a more humane way forward on deportations and other immigration-related policies. It is about time, as Schrag notes. It is also necessary that those of us concerned about immigrants keep the pressure on the administration. Gay rights activists, especially fundraisers, made it clear to the administration that unless the White House put all its efforts behind the effort to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, those activists would sit out the next election. We should not sell our support cheaply either and must make sure that the words in the hopeful memo are actually translated into action on the ground.
I know, I know: Who wants to read something that is sure to depress them? But, read it we must. Philadelphia Magazine has a long story about the sex abuse scandal that continues to rock that city.
The most damning quote:
Earlier this week, I called attention to a posting by Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM Cap, at his blog, in which he spoke about the Church’s stance towards contemporary issues regarding gays and lesbians, defended the Church’s beliefs about traditional marriage, and placed the Church’s stance on gay marriage properly alongside the Church’s stance against divorce and other threats to traditional marriage.
Most importantly, Cardinal O’Malley placed the entire issue of defending traditional marriage within the Church’s most fundamental anthropological and ethical belief, the inviolability of human dignity. The key graphs in O’Malley’s statement read: