Restoring the Sacred

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Words of Relevance: G.K. Chesterton on the Object of a New Year

G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936),  considered by many the greatest writer of the 20th century (because he was the greatest thinker of the 20th century), never went to college; he went to art school.  He argued against all the evils of his time, especially materialism and moral relativism, and argued for common sense, beauty, Christianity and the Catholic Faith.  Many agree that “you cannot consider yourself educated until you have thoroughly read Chesterton.”

He is perhaps the most quoted of the 20th century writers, and today's quote is as timely as it is relevant.

Here's the quote:
“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.”

Monday, December 22, 2014

Words of Relevance: Moses: on Choosing Life

Moses, considered by many to be the author of the first five books of the Bible (the Torah), led the Exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt to the Promised Land, which he never entered.  Along the way, which lasted, according to Biblical accounts, forty years, he parted the Red Sea and received the Ten Commandments on Mt Sinai.  He was also a great prophet and left us with many interesting and relevant quotes, including today's.

Here's the quote:
I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice, and cleaving to him; for that means life to you.
(Deut 30:19-20)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Words of Relevance: Hannah Arendt on Public Opinion

Hannah Arendt, one of the most influential political philosophers of the twentieth century wrote many famous books.  Among them: The Origins of Totalitarianism, On Revolution, The Human Condition, and Eichmann in Jerusalem in which she coined the phrase: The Banality of Evil.

In On Revolution she compared and contrasted the American and French revolutions.  She called the French revolution a disaster; the American revolution, a success.  She posited the French turned from their original goal of freedom and instead concentrated on "compassion for the masses."  Today's quote is from that work, and its relevance to today should be easily discernible to the reader.

Here's the quote:
Since no one is capable of forming his own opinion without the benefit of a multitude of opinions held by others, the rule of public opinion endangers even the opinion of those few who may have the strength not to share it. ... This is the reason why the Founding Fathers [of the United States] tended to equate rule based on public opinion with tyranny; democracy in this sense was to them but a newfangled form of despotism...

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Words of Relevance: Daniel Henninger on Mobs

That's Daniel Henninger, deputy editorial page director of The Wall Street Journal, who today surely encapsulated the thoughts of millions of law abiding citizens in the opening sentences of his regular weekly column entitled today: Mobs of New York.  Everything Henninger writes is relevant, but today's quote is perhaps the most succinctly relevant thing yet said on this topic.

Here's the quote:
How did we get to the point in the United States where street protesters are treated as saintly figures?  How did it happen that important public leaders - the American president, the mayor of New York, college presidents - feel obliged to legitimize these protests, no matter what they do to a city, its citizens or owners of private property?  Why is it that the leaders of America's most important institutions are no longer capable of recognizing a mob when they see one?
There is, of course, an obvious answer.  It concerns the "leaders" mentioned above and it comes from the infamous Butch Cassidy: Who are those guys? and, more importantly, who voted for them?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Words of Relevance: Irving Berlin: God Bless America

Irving Berlin (1888-1989), about whom George Gershwin is quoted as saying:

"I want to say at once that I frankly believe that Irving Berlin is the greatest songwriter that has ever lived.... His songs are exquisite cameos of perfection, and each one of them is as beautiful as its neighbor. Irving Berlin remains, I think, America's Schubert. But apart from his genuine talent for song-writing, Irving Berlin has had a greater influence upon American music than any other one man. It was Irving Berlin who was the very first to have created a real, inherent American music…." 

He gave us such memorable musical hits as: "White Christmas," "Puttin on the Ritz," "How Deep is the Ocean," "Say it with Music," "Always," and so many others. 

He is probably remembered most fondly for his "God Bless America,"
written in 1918 and revised by him in 1938.  The opening lyrics of that great song make up today's quote, and one has to wonder whether the speech police would permit the public singing of such "controversial" lyrics today given the mention of prayer and God.

Here's the quote:
While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free. Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
 As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.
God bless America, Land that I love. Stand beside her and guide her Through the night with a light from above. From the mountains, to the prairies, To the oceans, white with foam, God bless America, my home sweet home. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Words of Relevance: Marc-Antoine Charpentier: Te Deum in D

This arrangement of Te Deum by the French composer,   Marc-Antoine Charpentier, is a perfect way to celebrate Thanksgiving Day.

Thanks to Rorate Caeli for posting.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Words of Relevance: Edward C. Banfield and the Ferguson Riots

Edward C. Banfield (1916-1999), one of the leading political scientists of his time is quoted in the Wall Street Journal today.  The quote is from his great book: The Unheavenly City, which was published in 1970.  His words are relevant today in view of what has happened the last few days in Ferguson, Missouri.  The quote, which is a little lengthy but well worth reading, appeared in the Notable & Quotable section of today's paper.

Here's the quote:
The rioters knew they had little or nothing to fear from the police and the courts. Under the pressure of the civil rights movement and of court decisions and as the result of the growing ‘professionalism’ of police administrators . . . the patrolman’s discretion in the use of force declined rapidly after the war. At the same time courts were lenient with juvenile offenders. ‘Tough kids’ had always attacked policemen when they got the chance, but by the 1960’s the amount of toughness required was not very great, for in most cities it became more and more apparent that a policeman who shot a boy would be in serious trouble. Not being able to use force, the police could not effectively use the threat of it. It was not uncommon for a gang of boys to disarm and beat a policeman who, following orders, would not use his gun against them. During a riot, the police were especially ineffective—because their offenses were not very serious, most rioters could not be successfully threatened; the only thing that could be done with them was to take them into custody, and this was something the police were seldom numerous enough to do. Sometimes the police had to stand by and allow looting to go on before their eyes. This, of course, increased the tempo of the rioting.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Words of Relevance: Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks on Marriage

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, former chief rabbi of the United Kingdom, gave perhaps the most inspiring speech this past Monday at the Humanum colloquium on complementarity in Rome.  The colloquium was a "three-day gathering of scholars and religious leaders from numerous countries and faiths" focusing on the theme “The Complementarity of Man and Woman.” It was sponsored by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The colloquium concentrated on marriage between one man and one woman, and so was, and will be, excoriated by the sodomite lobby.  Without addressing that lobby or what it stands for, Rabbi Sacks spoke eloquently about "what he calls the “seven key moments, each of them surprising and unexpected” by which we can track the development of the institution of marriage."  (quotes are from Catherine Harmon at CWR)

The full text of his speech, as posted by Austen Ivereigh in Rome, can be found HERE.

The full text is something to be read when time permits, but in the meantime one particular quotes stands out.

Here's the quote:
[Our] compassion for those who choose to live differently should not inhibit us from being advocates for the single most humanising institution in history. The family, man, woman, and child, is not one lifestyle choice among many. It is the best means we have yet discovered for nurturing future generations and enabling children to grow in a matrix of stability and love.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Peggy Noonan: Obama & Mealy-Mouthed Filibustering

Peggy Noonan, who has occasionally worked both sides of the street since her days as a Reagan speechwriter, perfectly captured the essence of Barack Obama in a piece she wrote recently for the Wall Street Journal.  The piece was entitled "The Loneliest President Since Nixon," and today's quote, taken from it, will raise a chuckle in the mind of anyone who has been paying attention to the president during his not perfectly scripted interviews.

Noonan writes: I mentioned last week that the president has taken to filibustering, to long, rambling answers in planned sit-down settings—no questions on the fly walking from here to there, as other presidents have always faced. The press generally allows him to ramble on, rarely fighting back as they did with Nixon. But I have noticed Mr. Obama uses a lot of words as padding. He always has, but now he does it more. There’s a sense of indirection and obfuscation. You can say, “I love you,” or you can say, (and here's the quote)
“You know, feelings will develop, that happens among humans and it’s good it happens, and I have always said, and I said it again just last week, that you are a good friend, I care about you, and it’s fair to say in terms of emotional responses that mine has escalated or increased somewhat, and ‘love’ would not be a wholly inappropriate word to use to describe where I’m coming from.”

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Words of Relevance: MIT Professor Jonathan Gruber on The Stupidity of American Voters

That's Jonathan Gruber, professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and one of the architects of Obamacare.  By now most of the world knows of his candid - and honest - explanation of  how the Obama administration was able to get the (not so) Affordable Care Act passed.

His explanation provides a most interesting look behind the scenes at what was supposed to be the most transparent administration in our nation's history.

Here's the quote:
“This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay, so it’s written to do that.  In terms of risk-rated subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in – you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed… Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical for the thing to pass…" 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Words of Relevance: G.K. Chesterton on Tradition

G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936), one of the most prolific writers of his time, who wrote in virtually every genre employed during that era, had something very important to say about a topic that has taken front stage today: Traditional vs Modern.

Those who hold to Tradition today are called Conservatives, and those who oppose tradition are called Modernists or Progressives.  One can easily find support from a host of people for either of those positions, but Chesterton spoke eloquently in support of the position adhered to by Conservatives.

Here's the quote:
Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors.  It is the democracy of the dead.  Tradition refuses to submit to that arrogant oligarchy who merely happen to be walking around.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Words of Relevance: Jonathan Swift on Lack of Reason

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), one of the most eloquent writers of his time, wrote many things that are relevant today, especially concerning politics, politicians, and the people who vote for them.  With the just concluded mid-term elections, many voters are scratching their heads trying to understand, for instance, how anybody who values life could have voted for a politician who has promised time and time again that he or she steadfastly and forever will support a mother's "right" to kill her child.

How does one convince the supporter of such a politician that there is no such "right" in our Constitution or anywhere else?  Swift saw the hopelessness of trying to sway that supporter toward righteousness, and made his feelings very clear.

Here's the quote:
“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.”

Friday, October 31, 2014

Words of Relevance: Kate Bachelder: Top 10 Liberal Superstitions

That's Kate Bachelder, assistant editorial features editor of the Wall Street Journal.

She wrote an important piece today in the Journal, in which she lists the Top 10 superstitions, or myths, of the Liberal establishment, all of which are important to remember in these final days of the 2014 campaigning.

Herewith the list, which will serve as today's quote:
(1) Spending more money improves education.
(2) Government spending stimulates the economy.
(3) Republican candidates always have a big spending advantage over Democrats.
(4) Raising the minimum wage helps the poor.
(5) Global warming is causing increasingly violent weather.
(6) Genetically modified food is dangerous.
(7) Voter ID laws suppress minority turnout.
(8) Obamacare is gaining popularity.
(9) The Keystone XL pipeline would increase oil spills.
(10) Women are paid 77 cents on the dollar compared with men. 
Bachelder makes her compelling case for each of the above listed superstitions in her article, which you can read by clicking HERE.  (subscription required)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Words of Relevance: Fr. George Rutler: The Secularist and Islam

Father George Rutler wrote today at Crisis Magazine an essay entitled: Mad Intelligence: The Secularist Response to Islam.  In the essay, Fr. Rutler has nothing good to say about "public thinkers," who he says have been usurped by practical atheists who are politely styled "secularists.” He goes on: Essentially, the secularist is not without religion: rather, he has made a religion of politics and wealth, and rejects any religion that worships anything else...Secularists play down Islamist atrocities because they seek to eradicate the graceful moral structure that can turn brutes into saints.  Heinous acts are sometimes dismissed as “workplace violence.”  

Fr. Rutler explains why the secularists do not see the world as it is: The secularist makes a religion of irreligion, and is different from the saints who are “in this world but not of it” because the secularist is of the world but not rationally in it. This explains why the secularist’s solutions to the world’s ills are so destructive.  Today's quote provides an example of the destructive irrationality of the secularists.

Here's the quote:
There even are those in high places who pretend that Islamic militants are not Islamic and foster the delusion that false gods will not demand sacrifices on their altars.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Words of Relevance: St. Pope John Paul II: "Be Not Afraid!"

Today is the Feast of St. Pope John Paul II, who began his papacy, on October 22, 1978, with the now famous words: "Be Not Afraid!"  

In 1994, in his encyclical, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, he recalled the words with which he began his papacy.

Here's the quote:
When, on October 22, 1978, I said the words "Be not afraid!" in St. Peter's Square, I could not fully know how far they would take me and the entire Church. Their meaning came more from the Holy Spirit, the Consoler, promised by the Lord Jesus to His disciples, than from the man who spoke them. Nevertheless, with the passing of the years, I have recalled these words on many occasions. ... Why should we have no fear? Because man has been redeemed by God. ... The power of Christ's Cross and Resurrection is greater than any evil which man could or should fear.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Words of Relevance: Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki: Synod's First Week Summary Unacceptable

The first encouraging sign for traditional Catholics since the beginning of the Synod in Rome came today from Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, the current Bishop of Poznan, Poland, who criticized the document summarizing the first week of the Synod.

The following was posted on the website Rorate Caeli today:

In an interview with Vatican Radio, the President of the Polish Episcopal Conference did not hesitate to say that this document departs from the teaching of John Paul II, and even that in it can be noticed traces of the anti-marriage ideology. According to Archbishop Gądecki, this text also highlights the lack of a clear vision for the synodal assembly.

Bishop Gadecki laments what the summary leaves out as much as what it does report which, he says, is not clearly focused on Truth. 

Here's the quote:
Speak about the practical exceptions, but we also need to present the truth. Also, the points that speak of children entrusted to same-sex couples are formulated somewhat as if this situation is being praised! This is also a defect of this text, which instead should be an incentive to fidelity, family values, but instead seems to accept everything as it is. It created an impression that the teaching of the Church has been merciless so far, as if the teaching of mercy were beginning only now."   

Monday, October 6, 2014

Words of Relevance: Don John of Austria: Leadership at Lepanto

Don John's victory at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 was the cause for Catholics everywhere to celebrate tomorrow the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.  Before that famous battle, Don John whose forces were vastly outmanned and outmatched by the Islamic Turks, issued to each of his warriors, a rosary.  Pope Pius V, back in Rome, urged all the faithful to pray the rosary before the battle, and in his stateroom aboard his flagship Don Juan had mustered his admirals to go over the battle plan.  One of those admirals broached the possibility of further negotiation with the Islamic Turks, but Don John did not hesitate before making his decision clear.

Here's the quote:
"Gentlemen, the time for counsel has passed.  Now is the time for war."

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Words of Relevance: Russell Kirk on Social Conservatism

Russell Kirk, who influenced the American Conservative movement more than any other man, is best remembered for his 1953 book: The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot.

In that magnum opus, Kirk provided us with the perfect definition of Social Conservatism, and in present day America that is a term that begs accurate definition since it is often used as a pejorative by those who consider themselves enlightened.

Here's the quote:
Conservatism is not a fixed and immutable body of dogmata; conservatives inherit from Burke a talent for re-expressing their convictions to fit the time.  As a working premise, nevertheless, one can observe here that the essence of social conservatism is preservation of the ancient moral traditions of humanity.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Words of Relevance: Anthony Esolen on The Illusion of Neutrality

Anthony Esolen, professor of English at Providence College, and prolific writer and translator, wrote a timely essay recently which first appeared on Public Discourse, and today was reprinted, with permission, on Crisis Magazine.  You can read the entire essay HERE.

Esolen makes the case for the deconstruction of the Liberal dictum that "the State must remain neutral as regards religion or irreligion."  He provides "two more fundamental reasons for rejecting the dictum.  One is that it is not possible.  The other is that it is not conceivable, even if it were possible.  It is a contradiction in terms." He goes into depth explaining the contradictions inherent in remaining "neutral" on important matters, and leaves us with a memorable quote concerning the "neutral position" regarding abortion.

Here's the quote:
You cannot say, as liberals try to say, that you will allow abortion for people inclined to procure one, and then pretend that that too is to remain blissfully neutral and tolerant, no more than if you tried to say that you would allow infanticide for parents who decide, after all, that the diapers are too messy, or the baby too ugly or too sickly or handicapped. A society that allows some people to kill babies is a society that does not protect babies, period.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Words of Relevance: "Mad Dog" Mattis on Telegraphing Plans to the Enemy

James "Mad Dog" Mattis is a retired United States Marine Corps general, who last served as the 11th commander of United States Central Command.  He retired (or was retired) in August 2010.

He testified this past Thursday before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and in his usual fashion did not mince words.  His testimony, part of which was published in today's Wall Street Journal, could be judged a rebuke to the commander-in-chief's penchant for displaying a level of ignorance about waging war thankfully never before observed in someone of that rank.  He addressed the lack of clarity on the part of the current administration regarding the strategy needed to be employed against our latest existential threat.

Here's the quote:
Whichever strategy is chosen, we should be reticent in telling our adversaries in advance any timeline that governs us or which of our capabilities we will not employ.  Specifically, if this threat to our nation is determined to be as significant as I believe it is, we may not wish to reassure our enemies in advance that they will not see American "boots on the ground…"

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Words of Relevance: Jeane Kirkpatrick's Prescience and ISIS

Jeane Duane Kirkpatrick (1926-2006) served our country in many capacities before becoming the first woman to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

If we were ever fortunate to have the likes of a Margaret Thatcher serve in our government, it would have been Jeane Kirkpatrick.  To stay with the British meme, her prescience had to rival that of Winston Churchill who was the only man on the planet warning of the coming threat of Nazi Germany in 1934.

A quote from the Introduction to Kirkpatrick's book:   Making War To Keep Peace, published in 2007, a year after her death, provided an example of her prescience and served as a warning of the coming of a threat such as ISIS.

Here's the quote:
We have had ample opportunity in this century of wars and revolutions to observe what happens when violent elites, who espouse coercive ideologies, gain access to the resources of states.  They start with murder and denial of freedom in their own states, and move on to war, which may spill over to their neighbors and sometimes to genocide.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Words of Relevance: Bishop Emil Shimoun Nona on Muslim Immigration

Bishop Emil Shimoun Nona is the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Mosul in the northern part of Iraq.  He was mentioned this week in a piece at Crisis magazine by William Kilpatrick, entitled: Islam, Immigration and the Importance of Culture.

Kilpatrick opens his essay by referring to recent remarks by the Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane, Mark Coleridge, condemning the barbarism of the Islamic State.  Kilpatrick noted that Coleridge "for some reason felt compelled to add: It has nothing to do with real Islam….”  He then provides an insightful quote from someone much closer to the evil: Bishop Emil Shimoun Nona, the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Mosul.  

The Bishop of Mosul warned European and Western Christians that they “will also suffer in the near future” because…

Here's the quote:

"you are welcoming in your countries an ever-growing number of Muslims…. You think all men are created equal, but that is not true: Islam does not say that all men are created equal. Your values are not their values. If you do not understand this soon enough, you will become the victims of the enemy you have welcomed in your home."

Monday, September 8, 2014

Words of Relevance: President Coolidge on Budgeting

John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. served as the 30th president of the United States, from 1923 to 1939.  He was known as "Silent Cal" probably because in his own words he was "never sorry for something (he) never said."  He was thought by some to be overly concerned with the budget, and maybe he was, but wouldn't we be better off if that attitude would once again rear its head in our nation's capital?

He spoke often of the necessity of government to operate as frugally as possible, but one particular quote made to a group of Jewish philanthropists around 1925 summarizes his entire philosophy concerning his strong feelings about budgeting for the nation.

Here's the quote:
"The budget idea, I may admit, is a sort of obsession with me.  I believe in budgets. I want other people to believe in them.  I have had a small one to run my own home; and besides that, I am the head of the organization that makes the greatest of all budgets, that of the United States government.  Do you wonder, then, that at times I dream of balance sheets and sinking funds, and deficits, and tax rates, and all the rest?  I regard a good budget as among the noblest monuments of virtue."

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Words of Relevance: President Reagan on Foreign Policy Strategy

While the world struggles to learn something, anything, that will shed light on the foreign policy strategy of America's current administration, we should always remember there was no such ambiguity during the white house tenure of Ronald Reagan.  Characterized by intellectuals as overly simplistic, it nevertheless worked to perfection.  When asked to state his strategy on ending the cold war, President Reagan kept his reply short and, yes, simple.

Here's the quote:
“Here’s my strategy on the Cold War: We win; they lose.”

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.” 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Words of Relevance: St Joan of Arc: Living Without Faith

Joan of Arc, "The Maid of Orleans," who, on this day in 1431, was burned at the stake at the age of nineteen, was subsequently declared a martyr in 1456, and canonized a saint in 1920, is one of the most interesting saints in the history of the Church.  You can read more about her life by clicking HERE.

Today's quote, uttered just before her being burned at the stake, manifests her deep faith in God, which she credited for her being able to lead the French to victory over the British in the Hundred Years' War.

Here's the quote:
To live without faith is more terrible than the fire, more terrible than dying young. I have nothing more to do here. Send me back to God, from whom I came.
Today is her Feast Day.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Words of Relevance: Edmund Burke on The Age of Reason

Edmund Burke, famous Irish author and statesman of the 18th century, is quoted in Russell Kirk's seminal work, The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot,
on the subject of The Age of Reason. Those among us who profess to believe only in Reason, and totally ignore Faith (except for their Faith in Reason), might give some thought to the reasoning of Burke.

Here's the quote:
The Age of Reason...was in reality an Age of Ignorance.  If (as most men, since the beginning of human history, have believed) the foundation of human welfare is divine providence, then the limitation of politics and ethics to a puny “reason” is an act of folly, the refuge of a ridiculous presumption.
Kirk goes on: Precisely this blindness to the effulgence of the burning bush, this deafness to the thunder above Sinai, is what Burke proclaims to be the principal error of the French "enlightenment."

Monday, May 19, 2014

Words of Relevance: Charles E. Rice on The Homosexual Movement

Charles E. Rice, emeritus professor at the University of Notre Dame Law School (and former assistant coach of the Notre Dame Boxing Club), in his latest literary contribution provides us with today's quote, which explains in clear language just what the homosexual movement is really about.

Here's the quote:
The homosexual movement is not at all about a right of persons to be free from unjust discrimination against them and their lifestyle.  Rather, it is a totalitarian movement that demands that society and the law affirm those lifestyles not only as good but also as entitled to special privilege even to the point of abrogating millennia of moral tradition dating back to Genesis.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Words of Relevance: Malcolm Muggeridge on Believing Lies

Malcolm Muggeridge is quoted today in an essay penned by Fr. James Schall at The Catholic Thing Blog, entitled: On Really Loving the Hairless Bipeds.

Fr. Schall, discusses Robert Reilly's new book: The Gaying of America, (see previous post), in which book, the author "remarks that often we are content to lie to ourselves about what is, about what we do and hold." Reilly then quotes Malcolm Muggeridge in a passage that "pretty well sums up what the devilish mind seeks to establish in us; that is, a willingness to lie about even the most obvious truths, if they go counter to what we want."  

Here's the quote:
“People do not believe lies because they have to, but because they want to.”

Friday, May 9, 2014

Words of Relevance: Robert R. Reilly: Evil as Good

Robert R. Reilly has written a book with what will surely be treated as a controversial title: The Gaying of America.   You can read an essay on the book posted today at Crisis Magazine by Austin Ruse by clicking HERE.  Ruse explains how society has come to accept what Aristotle cautioned against, but Rousseau encouraged.

Here's the quote:
 “Anyone who chooses an evil act must present it to himself as good; otherwise, as Aristotle taught, he would be incapable of choosing it. When we rationalize, we convince ourselves that heretofore forbidden desires are permissible. In short, we assert that bad is good.” 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Words of Relevance: Aristotle on Man & Virtue

Donald Kagan, writing today at The Imaginative Conservative, quoted Aristotle in a piece entitled: Why We Should Study the History of Western Civilization.

 Kagan recommends an examination of "the older traditions of the West that came before the modern era and to take seriously the possibility that useful wisdom can be found there, especially among the Greeks who began it all.  They understood the potentiality of human beings, their limitations, and the predicament in which they live. Man is potent and important, yet he is fallible and mortal, capable of the greatest achievements and the worst crimes. He is a tragic figure, powerful but limited, with freedom to choose and act but bound by his own nature, knowing that he will never achieve perfect knowledge and understanding, justice and happiness, but determined to continue the search."  

Kagan quotes Aristotle on the necessity of man to be virtuous.  Here's the quote:
As man is the best of the animals when perfected, so he is the worst when separated from law and justice. For injustice is most dangerous when it is armed, and man, armed by nature with good sense and virtue, may use them for entirely opposite ends. Therefore, when he is without virtue man is the most unscrupulous and savage of the animals . . .

Monday, May 5, 2014

Words of Relevance: St. John Paul II Top 10 Quotes

Dr. Taylor Marshall posted the Top 10 quotes from the newly canonized Saint John Paul II on his blog today.

Here they are:
“Faith and Reason are like two wings of the human spirit by which it soars to the truth.” 
“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and Alleluia is our song.”
“Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”
“I plead with you! Never, ever give up on hope, never doubt, never tire, and never become discouraged. Be not afraid.”
“The worst prison would be a closed heart.”
“A person’s rightful due is to be treated as an object of love, not as an object for use.”
“As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.”
“It is the duty of every man to uphold the dignity of every woman.” 
“If He asks much of you, it is because He knows you can give much.”
“Love between man and woman cannot be built without sacrifices and self-denial.”

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Words of Relevance: Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev on Secular Consciousness and Religious Values.

Today’s quote is from Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, head of the Department of External Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church, Moscow Patriarchate, in an address at a conference in London, on February 21, 2014.

The entire address can be read HERE.

The address was posted on the website, Inside The Vatican, by Dr. Robert Moynihan.   The following is from that post.

...and what Alfeyev sees is a process of  "de-Christianization”, of the removal of Christian symbols and Christian teachings in the public and private life of the West, and of the world, which proceeds apace, year after year, decade after decade. "And today," he said, "we can hear of how in democratic Europe an airline employee was forced to remove her cross, supposedly in the name of tolerance, peace and harmony in society."

In the clearest example of the error in the currently predominate secular notions of free choice, Metropolitan Alfeyev uses the story from scripture of the  woman about to be stoned for adultery.

Here’s the quote:

When the woman caught in adultery was brought to Christ he said to those who demanded that she be stoned to death: "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." He not only did not condemn the woman but saved her from death. And yet he said to her: "Go, and sin no more" (Jn. 8: 2-11). If we are to follow the secular notions of free choice and human dignity, then the Saviour of the world ought not to have said these words but recognize her behaviour to be normal and say: "Go and continue to do the same."

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Words of Relevance: Fr. George Rutler on Euphemisms

Fr. George Rutler, pastor of St. Michael's Church in New York City, posted an essay on the Blog of Crisis Magazine today, entitled Recalling Euthanasia's Legacy of Death.

In his essay, Fr. Rutler laments the passage, six days ago, by the Belgian Chamber of Deputies of "an amendment to its 2002 euthanasia law, extending its provisions to include the killing of children…"

A man watching the proceedings cried out, "Murderers," so of course he was immediately silenced for having the bad taste of calling something by its truthful name.  Fr. Rutler then takes off on the use of euphemisms, and the reason we are currently inundated with them.

Reading the essay, several of the euphemisms that should be familiar to many came to mind, for example: "A woman's right to choose," "Planned Parenthood," "Compassion and Choices," the new name for The Hemlock Society, and here in Florida, "Competitive Work Force Act," a thinly disguised title bestowed by something called "Equality Florida," an organization dedicated to forcing the acceptance of the LGBT agenda on an unaware public.

Fr. Rutler understands euphemisms more clearly than anyone as is evidenced by today's quote of the day.

Here's the quote:
A euphemism covers shame, a timid confession by syntax rather than by sacrament, for a euphemism wants approval and not absolution.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Words of Relevance: David Berlinski on Climate Change

David Berlinski, PhD, manifestly one of the most educated, and intelligent (there is a difference) men in America, sat down recently with Peter Robinson of The Hoover Institution, and expounded upon various topics, one of which was global warming or what has now become climate change.  He does not think much of the "science" of global warming or of the "scientists" proselytizing their theory (and getting government grants to do so).  His most damning quote on the subject was published at, on August 26, 2013.  The quote was mentioned during the interview with Peter Robinson (on the left in the above photo), and it serves as the quote of the day today.

Here's the quote:
"Global warming?  Who knows?  Not me, for sure.  But what I do know is that climate science is and has been in the hands of intellectual mediocrities and pious charlatans."

Here's a link to a segment of the interview:

If you have 44 minutes, you can click below to watch the entire interview.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Words of Relevance: Fr. Barron on Inclusion & Tolerance vs Love

Fr. Robert Barron, the Rector/President of Mundelein Seminary/University of Saint Mary of the Lake, near Chicago, and the founder of Word on Fire, posted on his Blog back in May of 2013, an insightful piece about a sermon preached around that time by Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in America.  The post, and the analysis of the sermon can be read HERE.

Fr. Barron totally deconstructs the Bishop's understanding of St. Paul's first visit to the Greek town of Philippi recounted in the 16th chapter of The Acts of the Apostles.  That's the story of the driving out of the demon from the slave girl.  The Bishop's understanding of that event is beyond understanding: she describes it as a "tale of patriarchal oppression and intolerance."

Fr. Barron summarizes his analysis of the Bishop's sermon as follows: What is at the root of this deeply wrong-headed homily is a conflation of early twenty-first century values of inclusion and toleration with the great Biblical value of love.  Then he provides us with the quote of the day.

Here's the quote:
To love is to will the good of the other as other. As such, love can involve—indeed, must involve—a deep intolerance toward wickedness and a clear willingness to exclude certain forms of life, behavior, and thought. When inclusivity and toleration emerge as the supreme goods—as they have in much of our society today—then love devolves into something vague, sentimental and finally dangerous.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Words of Relevance: Plato on Civilizational Decay

Plato, in his Socratic dialogue and best known work, The Republic, written in 380 B.C., warned us of possible pitfalls that could lead a society toward civilizational decay.

Here's the quote:
“A society in which there is a multiplicity of doctors and lawyers is already a sick society,...constant litigation and consultation are signs of civilizational decay.  Complete absorption in the pursuit of justice and health somehow ends up with neither.”

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Words of Relevance: Flannery O'Connor: Tenderness & Terror

Flannery O'Connor (March 25, 1925 – August 3, 1964), has been described by Fr. Damien Ference on the Word on Fire Blog as:
One of the greatest disciples of the twentieth century was neither a priest, nor a religious, nor a married person. She was a celibate, single woman who spent the last 13 years of her life battling lupus while writing some of the best fiction the world has ever known—all while living on a 544-acre dairy farm in Milledgeville, Ga. with her mother, her books, and forty-four peacocks. Her name was Flannery O’Connor.
Today's quote manifests her concern over attempts by the secular world to discredit faith in the goodness of God, and replace it with a misunderstanding of the origin of tenderness.

Here's the quote:
One of the tendernesses of our age is to use the suffering of children to discredit the goodness of God, and once you have discredited his goodness, you are done with him... In this popular piety, we mark our gain in sensibility and our loss in vision.  If other ages felt less, they saw more, even though they saw  In the absence of this faith now, we are governed by tenderness.  It is a tenderness which, long since cut off from the person of Christ, is wrapped in theory.  When tenderness is detached from the source of tenderness, its logical outcome is terror. 

Mary Beth Bonacci, expounded on the relevant words of O'Connor in a piece she wrote at, entitled:   Compassion Leads to the Gas Chamber?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Words of Relevance: The Seahawks and Jesus

The 2014 Super Bowl was, for all Peyton Manning fans, a  great disappointment, but the below linked video has erased any feeling of disappointment for at least one such fan.  The comments made by members of the newly crowned champions are certainly words of relevance - especially to our youth, who might be totally consumed with the pursuit of  worldly accomplishments, perhaps forgetting their place in the total scheme of things.

Here's the video:

H/T: rkwlsn

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Words of Relevance: G. K. Chesterton: The Value of Purity

Dale Ahlquist, the president and co-founder of the American Chesterton Society, is the creator and host of the Eternal Word Television Network series, "G.K. Chesterton: The Apostle of Common Sense."  He wrote an essay today on the Blog of Crisis Magazine, entitled: Sin and Purity.

Drawing on Chesterton in his essay, Ahlquist tells us: It should not be that difficult to understand what purity is, and that when we talk about purity, we mean something that has not been befouled by something that befouls, namely sin. There is something all-or-nothing about purity. Purity needs to be completely pure to get itself so called. A little purity does not go very far. A teaspoon of clean water does not purify a tall glass of sewage, but a teaspoon of sewage utterly ruins a glass of clean water. But physical cleanliness should not be confused with moral purity. As Chesterton says, “Saints can afford to be dirty, but seducers have to be clean.”… Though the modern world seems utterly mystified by the ideal (purity), Chesterton points out that there is an unconscious acknowledgement of it in the modern worship of children, and,

Here's the quote:
Why else would anyone “worship a thing merely because it is small and immature?”
It is because we value purity.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Words of Relevance: Alexis de Tocqueville & Income Inequality

Alexis de Tocqueville's main piece of writing, Democracy in America,
was published in 1835.  It tells of what he found during his travels through the New World "from the perspective of a detached social scientist."  His observations on the American view of equality (which hasn't changed in almost 200 years) might come as a surprise to Barack Obama, and his acolytes, who prefer to engage in class warfare because it aids their political agenda.

Here's the quote:
Americans are so enamored of equality, they would rather be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom.  

(Don't miss the quote on the above photo)