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Thursday 6 September 2012

On Palestine, a lack of history and Catholics

A little history on Palestine has been discussed on Fr. Z. I am going to summarize a few points too long for the conversations. As to Palestine, which is a geographical area and not a nation,  the earliest inhabitants, who were pushed out or killed by the Islamic forces, were pagans, Catholics and Jews. Many Arab Catholic families converted early, as early as the year 200. The Greeks and Romans lived there and many of those were converted as well. It has never been a separate nation since the Jews conquered it. Ezechiel is a good source for the boundaries, as is the Torah, both ancient texts showing claims pre-dating any Muslim claims by at least 1,100 years. The Muslims took it over in the middle of the 7th century and of course, some of the crusades were fought there. The British finally took it back from the Muslims in 1832, but it still was only the name of a geographical area, not a nation. In the 19th century, Jews persecuted in Russia and other places began to re-settle areas of Palestine along with Christians and Muslims. The United Nations decided to follow the Balfour Agreement and the Sykes-Picot Treaty after WWI, and part of the Versailles Treaties included the divisions of the Middle East we see today. Islamic Arabs fought against all of these treaties in wars which have continued to this day.
As to using the term indigenous peoples, one cannot give a claim to those there now, as from the time of the Alexander the Great, Europeans as well as various tribes lived there. One must also remember that before Mohammed, Arab tribes were fiercely clannish and fought each other. They were also in many cases migratory clans, not staying in one place until quite late. The earliest cities after the destruction of the Canaanites by the Jews were Jewish and European, a la the Greeks. If anyone has a claim on it, it is the Jews, as part of the Promised Land given to them by God. “On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates – the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.” Genesis 15:18 on. That is a territory much larger than the present day Israel.
In addition, Melchizedek, who honored Abraham, was King of Jeru-Salem,  Jerusalem, which was the capitol from David one. Therefore, as we know David was king in 1000 BC, the claim of the Israelites to Jerusalem goes back over 3,000 years and longer. 
It is too bad America high schools and colleges do not teach world history anymore. And, as Catholics, we are part of the Judeo-Christian heritage, the Old and New Covenants belong to us. If we are anti-Semitic, we are hating ourselves. The Promised Land was promised to Abraham and his descendants over 4,000 years ago. That history is our history as well as Catholics.

Newman's Essay on the Gentleman as Requested

"The Definition of a Gentleman"

by Cardinal Newman, from The Idea of a University, a series of lectures given in Ireland, 1852.
Hence it is that it is almost a definition of a gentleman to say that he is one who never inflicts pain. This description is both refined and, as far as it goes, accurate. He is mainly occupied in merely removing the obstacles which hinder the free and unembarrassed action of those about him; and he concurs with their movements rather than takes the initiative himself. His benefits may be considered as parallel to what are called comforts or conveniences in arrangements of a personal nature; like an easy chair or a good fire, which do their part in dispelling cold and fatigue, though nature provides both means of rest and animal heat without them. The true gentleman in like manner carefully avoids whatever may cause a jar or a jolt in the minds of those with whom he is cast --- all clashing of opinion, or collision of feeling, all restraint, or suspicion, or gloom, or resentment; his great concern being to make every one at his ease and at home. He has his eyes on all his company; he is tender towards the bashful, gentle towards the distant, and merciful towards the absurd; he can recollect to whom he is speaking; he guards against unseasonable allusions, or topics which may irritate; he is seldom prominent in conversation, and never wearisome. He makes light of favors while he does them, and seems to be receiving when he is conferring. He never speaks of himself except when compelled, never defends himself by a mere retort; he has no ears for slander or gossip, is scrupulous in imputing motives to those who interfere with him, and interprets everything for the best. He is never mean or little in his disputes, never takes unfair advantage, never mistakes personalities or sharp saying for arguments, or insinuates evil which he dare not say out. From a long-sighted prudence, he observes the maxim of the ancient sage, that we should ever conduct ourselves towards our enemy as if he were one day to be our friend. He has too much good sense to be affronted at insults, he is too well employed to remember injuries, and too indolent to bear malice. He is patient, forbearing, and resigned, on philosophical principles; he submits to pain, because it is inevitable, to bereavement, because it is irreparable, and to death, because it is his destiny.If he engages in controversy of any kind, his disciplined intellect preserves him from the blundering discourtesy of better, perhaps, but less educated minds; who, like blunt weapons, tear and hack instead of cutting clean, who mistake the point in argument, waste their strength on trifles, misconceive their adversary, and leave the question more involved than they find it. He may be right or wrong in his opinion, but he is too clear-headed to be unjust; he is as simple as he is forcible, and as brief as he is decisive. Nowhere shall we find greater candor, consideration, indulgence: he throws himself into the minds of his opponents, he accounts for their mistakes. He knows the weakness of human reason as well as its strength, its province and its limits.
If he be an unbeliever, he will be too profound and large-minded to ridicule religion or to act against it; he is too wise to be a dogmatist or fanatic in his infidelity. He respects piety and devotion; he even supports institutions as venerable, beautiful, or useful, to which he does not assent; he honors the ministers of religion, and it contents him to decline its mysteries without assailing or denouncing them. He is a friend of religious toleration, and that, not only because his philosophy has taught him to look on all forms of faith with an impartial eye, but also from the gentleness and effeminacy of feeling, which is the attendant on civilization.

In the Public Domain

Watch and Pray: Susan B. Anthony List Video on Television Tonight

Wow, check this out. I lived in Illinois when this man was elected. He voted four times against saving babies who were alive after abortions. Look at the witness of this beautiful woman from the Susan B. Anthony List.

I have followed that site for years.

This is also highlighted on LifeSiteNews, a fantastic website.

Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals-Do These Sound or Seem Timely?

“Never let a crisis go to waste”  as said by Rahm Emanuel, was first said in a different way by Saul Alinsky. He wrote in his Rules for Radicals, “in the arena of action a threat or a crisis becomes almost a precondition to communication” taken from Machiavelli’s The Prince “strike and beat down fortune through skilled action ” XXV. Jacques  Maritain has an excellent argument against Machiavelli and the Chomsky view of political engagement. Check out this site. 
Rahm cut his baby teeth on this stuff. The Alinsky, Chomsky Marxist agenda is behind all this nonsense at the DNC.

  • RULE 1: “Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.” Power is derived from 2 main sources – money and people. “Have-Nots” must build power from flesh and blood.
  • RULE 2: “Never go outside the expertise of your people.” It results in confusion, fear and retreat. Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone.
  • RULE 3: “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.” Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty.
  • RULE 4: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” If the rule is that every letter gets a reply, send 30,000 letters. You can kill them with this because no one can possibly obey all of their own rules.
  • RULE 5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.
  • RULE 6: “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.” They’ll keep doing it without urging and come back to do more. They’re doing their thing, and will even suggest better ones.
  • RULE 7: “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.” Don’t become old news.
  • RULE 8: “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.” Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new.
  • RULE 9: “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.” Imagination and ego can dream up many more consequences than any activist.
  • RULE 10: “If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive.” Violence from the other side can win the public to your side because the public sympathizes with the underdog.
  • RULE 11: “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.” Never let the enemy score points because you’re caught without a solution to the problem.
  • RULE 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.

Sounds like the rules for the Democratic National Convention.

Ignatian Meditation Three

Christ is showing us something very daring in the passage from last Sunday. Mark 7:1-8; 14-15; 21-23.

He uses Scripture to teach those who were experts in Scripture. He could, as it were, beat them at their own game. But more than that, Christ was loving the Pharisees and scribes, meeting them in their own arena of expertise.

The fact that Christ engaged them and talked with them, challenging them, indicates a real zeal for their souls.

He was loving them exactly where they were in their walks in life.

He used their own language to stop them from taking their own religion for granted.

He was calling them to a deeper understanding of their own stunted faith.

Christ did not ignore the Pharisees and scribes. But, neither did He compromise the Truth.

He :engaged the culture" to use a worn out Vatican II phrase, but He went on to proclaim the Truth loud an and clear.

No compromising, but engaging. We can learn from this passage about evangelization.

Ignatian Meditation Two for This Week

Staying with the Gospel reading from Mark, I was struck with Christ's follow-up on the idea of what is unclean coming out of the interior of a human being. Christ Our Lord gives a long list of deadly sins which are  truly evil: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, and folly.

What have these sins to do with legalism? At first site, nothing, as the Law, the Ten Commandments demands that all avoid these sins and clearly defines what these are.

Christ is reminding the Pharisees and "some of the scribes" what the serious sins are. Washing hands before eating is important, but, hey, this list of horrible sins is much worse.

This is not to say we should not wash our hands, or follow rituals, which is the mistaken impression gleaned from some who read this passage. We do not throw out good and holy rules, but we know what priorities are in the spiritual life.

One must rid one's self from mortal sin first, then venial, then imperfections, in that order.

Christ is taking the Pharisees back to square one, as it were.

It is too easy to keep the little rules and miss the life of constant metanoia, constant repentance and redemption.

Christ let his apostles eat without washing as an object lesson for the Pharisees.

Christ goes farther than the Law at the Last Supper. He is a teacher and gives us clear parables in action.

Washing is outside, repentance is inside.

On Gentlemen-are they an extinct type?

No, this is not a Peter Wimsey fan club site. I just wanted to create an ambiance of gentlemanly behavior here.

I know a few gentlemen. All but one is a Catholic.

There are not many Catholic Gentlemen, or even gentlemen left in the world.

In this month's issue of Standpoint, Andrew Gimson reviews in his article the question of the vanishing class of real gentlemen. What happened?

One of the references Gimson includes is from Philip Mason's The English Gentleman, which reveals that gentlemanly behaviour was for 100 years or so a second religion, but a national characteristic from the Middle Ages. Of course, one cannot write an article on being a gentlemen, without referring to Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman's famous essay, which I have quoted on this blog before. For Dr. Arnold, with whom the article begins and with Venerable Newman, Christianity is key to being a gentlemen. I would have liked to have know Venerable Newman. There are not many priests who are gentlemen, either. It is not a quality of manhood which is stressed in the silly emphasis in seminaries on "wounded healers".

So, what are some of the characteristics of a gentlemen as seen through the eyes of all these great men of the past? Well, moral leadership is a key virtue of a gentleman. That phrase contains two ideas-one, morality and two, leadership. Those of us who for whatever reason have read Dr. Arnold's famous sermon on "Christian Education" recollect some of the ideals put forth. His son, Matthew Arnold, the poet, is quoted in this article as well, hearkening back to his father and the lost, receding generations of real gentlemen. They were passing away quickly.

And, if you, like me, have read all of the above, you have probably read Evelyn Waugh's gripping Decline and Fall, here mentioned by Gimson, the rot was setting in after World War II, with the emergence of the "lost generation".  But the sting is in the present generation who may have been raised as Anglican gentlemen, but have tried very, very hard to break with that tradition. David Cameron seems to be running as hard as he can from this category. As Gimson states, it is considered "snobbish and out of date". Too bad, so sad.

Western culture has been enamored with classlessness and with mediocrity for several generations and I am bored to death of both. Part of the "cult" of the gentleman in 19th century and the first half of the 20th century England was that the man was supposed to impose morality and character on the culture. The culture woefully has lost the input of such behaviour. In both England and America, the Predator has taken over from the Protector.

Gimson states sorrowfully that we have lost the gentleman without replacing him. This is a tragedy and will forever change England.  As Gimson writes, " have an elevated standard of conduct increases the chances that some people will live up to it..."

Gimson refers to "barren utilitarianism". Well, those of us from across the pond knows what that does to an education system and a culture. Mediocrity and then brutishness becomes the rule of the day. I even heard a priest state that Jesus Christ was not a gentleman. Good grief.

Here is what Gimson states we need, and I agree, " ideal which includes modesty, magnanimity and the willingness to sacrifice oneself for the sake of others, especially those who are weaker."

And, I have lost count of all the ladies I know who are single, each one a lady who wishes she could meet a gentleman with or without the top hat. Are they extinct?

Meditation on Sunday's Gospel

In Ignatian fashion, I am meditating all week on last Sunday's Gospel. What has struck me today is that Christ saw, of course, as He is God, the stupidity of modern psychologically and warned us against it.

What do I mean? In the verses here, Christ rebukes the Pharisees and scribes. Note in Mark 7:15 and 21-23:
"Hear me, all of you, and understand:
15there is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him."
21For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery,
22coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.
23All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man."

What Christ is saying is that our Spiritual Nature overcomes nurture and the culture. What is outside of us DOES NOT have to be appropriated by us.

That a man is not made evil by what is outside, but only by what he has on the inside flies in the face of some modern psychology. Some people honestly believe that they are not responsible for their own actions.

Wow! They blame everything and everyone but themselves for their faults, sins, evil.

The financial status of themselves and the world, whether they are loved or not, or recognized or not, whether they are poor or rich, people blame the complications of their lives for evil.

Christ cuts through all of those excuses and emphasizes free will. We choose evil and appropriate it.

We remain in ignorance by choice in the Western World. We are responsible for what we take in-be it porn, food, things, or whatever.

Christ points to the heart as the centre of good or evil. Where is your heart? If it is in politics, you have strayed into idolatry. If you have exchanged your freedom for ideology, your heart is no longer capable of purity without great work and prayer.

Theophan the Recluse


Single Catholic Ladies in Georgia, Take Heart

Just in case you missed this-

Switzerland and Singapore retained their positions as the most competitive economies, coming in 1st and 2nd, respectively.
United States75
United Kingdom810
Hong Kong911
Source: World Economic Forum