Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Words of Relevance: Bret Stephens on Hillary and Political Opportunists

Bret Stephens, deputy editor of the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal wrote an interesting piece today questioning whether Hillary Clinton's self-reinvention  as a foreign-policy hawk is Kierkegaardian or Aristotelian, i.e., "Is the real 'you' the interior and subjective you; the you of your private whispers and good intentions?  Or are you only the sum of your public behavior, statements and actions?  Are you the you that you have been, and are?  Or are you what you are, perhaps, becoming?"  He then, perhaps, answers his own question by providing his definition of a political opportunist.

Here's the quote:
The political opportunist always lacks the courage of his, or her, convictions.  That's not necessarily because there aren't any convictions.  It's because the convictions are always subordinated to the needs of ambition and ingratiation."

Monday, August 11, 2014

Words of Relevance: Friedrich Hayek on "Social Justice"

There is a whole chapter in Roger Kimball's important book: The Fortunes of Permanence on the writings of Friedrich Hayek.  In it Kimball, before getting to Hayek's view of "weasel words," offers this:
A weasel was once said to be able to empty an egg without leaving a mark, and "social" is in this sense a "weasel word": a phonetic husk with only an echo of meaning.   
Here's a quote from Hayek on the use of "social" followed by a hyphen:  
It is..."increasingly turned into an exhortation, a sort of guide-word for rationalistic morals intended to displace traditional morals, and now increasingly supplants the word 'good' as a designation of what is morally right." 
Kimball goes on:
"Think only of the odious phrase "social justice."  What it means in practice, is de facto injustice, since it operates by enlisting the legal machinery of justice in order to support certain predetermined ends."

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Words of Relevance: Owen Paterson and "The Green Blob"

That's Owen Paterson, who recently left his post as British secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs.  He was not a big favorite of the green lobby, because he never bought into their  hysteria (which made many of them very rich).  Today's quote is from a piece he wrote in The Telegraph last month (reprinted today in the Wall Street Journal).  It could be said he left his post 'not with a whimper, but a bang.'

Here's the quote:
It has been a pleasure to take on the challenges of the rural economy and environment.  However, I leave the post with great misgivings about the power and irresponsibility of - to coin a phrase - the Green Blob.
By this I mean the mutually supportive network of environmental pressure groups, renewable energy companies and some public officials who keep each other well supplied with lavish funds, scare stories and green tape.  This tangled triangle of unelected busybodies claims to have the interests of the planet and the countryside at heart, but it is increasingly clear that it is focusing on the wrong issues and doing real harm while profiting handsomely. 
Paterson's relationship with the green lobby was never cordial as can be surmised by this addendum to his above remarks:
I soon realized that the greens and their industrial and bureaucratic allies are used to getting things their own way.  I received more death threats in a few months at [the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] than I ever did as secretary of state for Northern Ireland. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Words of Relevance: Eric Hoffer on Israel & The Double Standard

Eric Hoffer, is quoted in today's Wall Street Journal from the biography written by Tom Bethell: "Eric Hoffer: The Longshoreman Philosopher."

The quote is from 1968, but, as is true of most memorable and insightful quotes, is as relevant today as when first uttered. Hoffer discusses the double standard with which the world has always judged Israel and the Jews.  The Journal published a fairly lengthy excerpt from Bethell's biography, but this post will highlight only that which is the most timely given the current state of affairs in the Middle East.

Here's the quote:
The Jews are a peculiar people: things permitted to other nations are forbidden to the Jews.
Others drive out thousands, even millions of people and there is no refugee problem.  Russia did it, Poland and Czechoslovakia did it.  Turkey drove out a million Greeks and Algeria a million Frenchman.  Indonesia threw out heaven knows how many Chinese - and no one says a word about refugees.
But in the case of Israel, the displaced Arabs have become eternal refugees.  Everyone insists that Israel must take back every single Arab.  Arnold Toynbee calls the displacement of the Arabs an atrocity greater than any committed by the Nazis. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Words of Relevance: ACOG & The Right of Conscience

From a post by Wesley J Smith at "First Things."

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) published an ethics-committee opinion denying its members the right of conscience against abortion:

The first important consideration in defining limits for conscientious refusal is the degree to which a refusal constitutes an imposition on patients who do not share the objector’s beliefs. One of the guiding principles in the practice of medicine is respect for patient autonomy, a principle that holds that persons should be free to choose and act without controlling constraints imposed by others. . . . Respect for autonomy has particular importance in reproductive decision making, which involves private, personal, often pivotal decisions about sexuality and childbearing.

One might be tempted to contrast the above with this quote from the original Hippocratic Oath:
"I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art."
Hippocrates, though, has fallen out of favor with our medical schools as evidenced by the removal of the above quote from the current version of the "Hippocratic Oath."  For more on the changes, go HERE:

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Words of Relevance: Flannery O'Connor on "Success"

Flannery O'Connor, who has been called the most important Catholic writer of the 20th century by Fr. Robert Barron, called herself a "hillbilly Thomist."  Her short stories were considered shocking by many, but when scrutinized were found to have deep Catholic messages.  She has been quoted as describing her Catholic faith as follows: "I am a Catholic not like someone else would be a Baptist or a Methodist, but like someone else would be an atheist."

Today's quote from her summarizes her view of success, and the role it will play in the final judgment.

Here's the quote:
We are not judged by what we are basically.  We are judged by how hard we use what we have been given.  Success means nothing to the Lord."

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Fouad Ajami (RIP) on Charismatic Leaders

Fouadi Ajami, who died this past week, was the subject of a well-earned panegyric written by Bret Stephens in today's Wall Street Journal.

Stephens asserts, in his piece about Ajami: "His genius lay in the breath of his scholarship and the quality of his human understanding."

That "human understanding" is especially manifest in Ajami's treatment of the charismatic leader, which comes through clearly in today's quote, which, according to Stephens, was made by Ajami in a piece he had written last November.

Here's the quote:
We need no pollsters to tell us of the loss of faith in Mr. Obama's policies - and, more significantly, in the man himself.  Charisma is like that.  Crowds come together and they project their needs onto an imagined redeemer.  The redeemer leaves the crowd to its imagination: For as long as the charismatic moment lasts - a year, an era - the redeemer is above and beyond judgment. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Words of Relevance: The Church's Hate Speech

Christian Church Logic has just uploaded a new video to their website.  It was introduced by email stating:
When the Catholic Church speaks out about topical moral issues, her comments are labeled as "hate speech".  This couldn't be further from the truth.
You can view the new video by clicking on the link below.  If you still believe in absolute Truth, please click "Like" on YouTube, and forward the video to your friends.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Words of Relevance: Anthony Esolen: Equality vs Excellence

Dr. Anthony Esolen wrote a piece yesterday at Crisis Magazine, entitled "How to Form a Real Conscience," in which he clearly points out the difference between equality and excellence - especially as those concepts are viewed (or should be viewed) by our youth.

Here's the quote:
The boy who really wants to learn manhood is right not to be interested in equality. What can equality give him? He wants excellence, and that means he looks to someone who sees farther than he sees, who can do more than he can, who has been through trials he has never known, and who has learned to master his passions and make them work for good and noble ends.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Words of Relevance: Karol Wojtyla: The Church and the Anti-Church

Karol Wojtyla, later Pope John Paul II, and now St. John Paul II was an extremely prescient man (no doubt inspired by the Holy Spirit), as evidenced by a quote of his delivered in 1976 at a Bicentennial talk here in the United States.  That quote (a rather long one, but read the whole thing) was discussed by Fr. C. John McCloskey a few days ago on the Blog of The Catholic Thing.  Fr. McCloskey's essay was entitled: "The Final Confrontation," and you can read the entire essay by clicking HERE.

Here's the quote:
“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel.
“We must be prepared to undergo great trials in the not-too-distant future; trials that will require us to be ready to give up even our lives, and a total gift of self to Christ and for Christ. Through your prayers and mine, it is possible to alleviate this tribulation, but it is no longer possible to avert it. . . .How many times has the renewal of the Church been brought about in blood! It will not be different this time.”