Chaput: Hope as Despair, Overcome

For those following the Synod of the Family in Rome, this is a telling and illuminating speech from Philadephia’s Archibishop Charles Chaput:

Paragraphs 7-10 of the Instrumentum did a good job of describing the condition of today’s families. But overall,the text engenders a subtle hopelessness. This leads to a spirit of compromise with certain sinful patterns of life and the reduction of Christian truths about marriage and sexuality to a set of beautiful ideals — which then leads to surrendering the redemptive mission of the Church.

The work of this synod needs to show much more confidence in the Word of God, the transformative power of grace, and the ability of people to actually live what the Church believes. And it should honor the heroism of abandoned spouses who remain faithful to their vows and the teaching of the Church.

George Bernanos said that the virtue of hope is “despair, overcome.” We have no reason to despair. We have every reason to hope. Pope Francis saw this himself in Philadelphia. Nearly 900,000 people crowded the streets for the papal Mass that closed the World Meeting of Families.

Longtime readers of my work know how much a fan I am of Chaput’s “authentic Catholicism” in the public square.

This is brilliant stuff, and we need to hear more of it from our bishops and priests.  Sadly, too much of the Church is attached to government grants, subsidies, tax benefits (see: Germany) and co-operation.

The long experiment in colluding with the social welfare state is over.  The Church was not and could never recapture its mission this way.  Very glad to see Chaput point the way forward — let’s hope that the bishops of the Church have the courage to be shepherds, despite the best efforts of their bureaucrats to obscure hard truths on the ground.

Posted in Catholic, Culture | Leave a comment

CNET: Our Brains Will Be Like Smartphones By 2030?

Somehow, this doesn’t strike me as pleasant news:

Kurzweil has a truly, madly, deeply optimistic view of who we will be when nanobots are implanted into our brains so we can expand our intelligence by directly tapping into the Internet.

This is such a relief. I had feared that when a robot was implanted into my brain, my head would hurt. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be quite in touch with my feelings, as I wouldn’t be sure if they were real or just the promptings of my inner robot.

Kurzweil, though, has reassured me. Speaking recently at Singularity University, where he is a member of the faculty, he explained that my brain will develop in the same way my smartphone has.

Yeah… if my brain is going to turn out like OS 8.0?

I’m going to have to pass on that.  Everyone else can have fun with their new godlike OS upgrades.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Russia and Iran Prepare To Do The Job In Syria

This from Reuters today:

“The vanguard of Iranian ground forces began arriving in Syria: soldiers and officers specifically to participate in this battle. They are not advisors … we mean hundreds with equipment and weapons. They will be followed by more,” the second source said. Iraqis would also take part in the operation, the source said.

Thus far, direct Iranian military support for Assad has come mostly in the form of military advisors. Iran has also mobilized Shi’ite militia fighters, including Iraqis and some Afghans, to fight alongside Syrian government forces.

Include the news that Russian warplanes are actively bombing AQ sites near Homs, plus Putin’s call up of 150,000 conscripts, means that we could very well be witnessing a repeat of the Second Chechen War.

Posted in International Politics | Leave a comment

Aeon: French Thought In Crisis?

Ah yes, those stuffy French philosophers.  Chain smoking their way through the deepest of thought, holding in contempt all that their minds can conceive…

So what the heck happened?

The French way of thinking is a matter of substance, but also style. This is most notably reflected in the emphasis on rhetorical elegance and analytical lucidity, often claimed to stem from the very properties of the French language: ‘What is not clear,’ affirmed the writer Antoine de Rivarol in 1784, somewhat ambitiously, ‘is not French.’

Perhaps so… and even as recently as 50 years ago, French philosophy was the master of all it surveyed: Camus, Derrida, Foucault, Levinas.

…and yet:

Since the late 20th century, the rich tradition of French thought has come under increasing strain. The symptoms of this crisis are numerous, beginning with a widespread belief in the decline of French artistic and intellectual creativity. In 2007, Time magazine’s cover article even announced ‘The Death of French Culture’, cruelly concluding: ‘All of these mighty oaks being felled in France’s cultural forest make barely a sound in the wider world.’ Even philosophical ideas about resisting tyranny and promoting revolutionary change, which were the hallmark of French thought since the Enlightenment, lost their universal resonance. It is instructive that neither the fall of Soviet-style communism in eastern Europe or the Arab spring took any direct intellectual inspiration from French thinking. The European project, the brainchild of French thinkers such as Jean Monnet, has likewise stalled, as European peoples have grown increasingly skeptical of an institution that appears too distant and technocratic, and insufficiently mindful of the continent’s democratic and patriotic heritages.


Of course, this isn’t to say that American philosophy has reached such lofty heights, much less aspire to even achieve the lows of where French intellectual thought remains today.  In a world where we live to react rather than reflect, it’s a tough business.

Still, the idea of a French renaissance in philosophy is an interesting thought, given that much of what the 20th century French philosophers gave us remains largely unexplored and untested, save through the writings of another great European thinker, Pope St. John Paul the Great.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

BrainPickings: Peiper and Leisure

Admittedly, I have not read much of Josef Pieper, but his excellent tract Leisure As The Basis Of Culture has held a tremendous sway in my own personal experience ever since I read it…

The opposite of acedia is not the industrious spirit of the daily effort to make a living, but rather the cheerful affirmation by man of his own existence, of the world as a whole, and of God — of Love, that is, from which arises that special freshness of action, which would never be confused by anyone [who has] any experience with the narrow activity of the “workaholic.”

Definitely worth the read, though I will readily admit that I have failed entirely to implement much of Pieper’s insights.  In today’s technology driven world, acedia is a vice that seems to attach itself to every virtue as so many barnacles on a ship — and as of yet, we have not really stumbled upon the cultural copper plating that rejects it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Standing Firm Against Planned Parenthood

Those who know me know that few things will get my Irish temper up faster than the issue of defunding and de-coupling Planned Parenthood from the federal government:

Voices within the Republican Party have argued that we should not shut down the federal government over federal tax funding for Planned Parenthood.  That the juice isn’t worth the squeeze, that we always lose such fights, and that we (on principle?) should never use a federal government shutdown as a tactic to achieve legislative goals.

If only the Democrats believed likewise…

Folks, here’s my beef: if defunding Planned Parenthood — an organization that has killed 61 million babies and is currently serving as a cartel trafficking in baby body parts — isn’t the hill to die on, then what is?

Feel free to read it all over at Bearing Drift.

Posted in Pro-Life | Leave a comment

Pope Francis And The Absurd

Albert Camus

Albert Camus has always fascinated me as a philosopher, more so now that the conflict between Islam and the West has brought the Algerian conflict of the 1960s in such a vivid light with rediscoveries of films as The Battle of Algiers (1966) and the film Of Gods and Men (2010) concerning the monks at Tibhirine in the late 1990s.

Camus was shaped by many events, most notably his involvement in the French resistance as well as his Algerian pied-noir background.  Much of this informed his concept of the absurdity of human existence…

It’s no secret that we live in a nihilist age.  The advent of “modern man” in the sense that Romano Guardini has predicted his rise in The End of the Modern World and Pope Francis’ repeated remarks on Guardini’s insights — mostly ignored by the Western media in their coverage of Francis’ latest encyclical, Laudato Si — has completely ravaged the idea of Western civilization.  We are faced with cultural absurdities of our own, nevermind the individual absurdity Camus identifies in The Stranger and Myths of Sisyphus.

In fact, the cries for recognition are no better found than in the rise of new media, blogs, publications, books, and so forth.  The scholar lives a thousands lives, so the saying goes, and the opportunities to make one’s mark on the world — to eat a peach and disturb the universe — are profound in the face of Camus’ absurdity.  Yet mankind remains dissatisfied. Continue reading

Posted in Catholic, Culture, Philosophy | Leave a comment

RedState: The Cargo Cult of Trump


This a great article defining the Trump phenomenon (movement is perhaps too strong a word) that is refreshing old wounds between the conservatives and the populists:

At the risk of being called a giant elitist, I think about these cargo cults (and the Underpants Gnomes) as I watch the Trump phenomenon make its way across this fine country. Trump would be, I think one of the finest cult leaders the world has ever known. His energy is apparently limitless, he extols the virtues of himself tirelessly, and he never even acknowledges the merest hint of humility or personal limitations.

Jay Cost over at The Weekly Standard has more:

About 50 years ago, political scientist Philip Converse argued that ideology could be understood as issue restraint. In other words, somebody who accepts conservative principles about free markets is restrained from endorsing the kind of redistributive tax scheme that Bernie Sanders is promoting. By this standard, Trump has little if any ideology. For instance, he avers that he is for “free trade,” but also for making Mexico pay for a border wall, and he will slap a tariff on Mexico if it won’t.

Issues are not the reason to support Trump. Instead, Trump wants you to send him to Washington to do great deals for America.

Of course, those who put their money behind their convictions are overwhelmingly choosing Bush as their favorite, followed by Rubio before Trump comes in at barely 1 in 4.  Even Kasich comes within striking distance, which should tell you something.

Posted in National Politics | Leave a comment

Scientific American: The World Really Could Go Nuclear

So if you really care about the environment, go nuclear?

Based on numbers pulled by the research team from the experience of Sweden and France and scaled up to the globe, a best-case scenario for conversion to 100 percent nuclear power could enable the world to stop burning fossil fuels and start fissioning uranium for electricity within 34 years. Requirements for this shift of course would include expanded uranium mining and processing, a build-out of the electric grid as well as a commitment to develop and build fast reactors—nuclear technology that operates with faster neutrons and therefore can handle radioactive waste, such as plutonium, for fuel as well as create its own future fuel. No other carbon-neutral electricity source has been expanded anywhere near as fast as nuclear,” Qvist says.


The French model, for instance, reprocesses the fuel until you have something about the size of your thumb.  No need for massive water tanks or huge storage facilities in Nevada.

Of course… when we get to nuclear fusion…

Posted in Economics, National Politics, Science, Self-Sufficiency, Technology | Leave a comment

Your Twenty Seven Minutes of Civilization!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen… 27 minutes from Mr. William Bartley and the year 1599.


Posted in Culture, Music | 1 Comment