Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Signs of a New Springtime

According to Archbishop Dolan, there are now 38 seminarians for Milwaukee. Not a wonderful number, especially for a diocese of nearly three-quarters of a million, but it is up from 22 just two years ago.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Friday, August 25, 2006


Taking apart a Church in search of the "Sang real".

Dan Brown must be proud for inspiring the worst & most nutty in human nature.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Perhaps as a result of reading Daniel Larison and Rod Dreher's blogs recently, I've been thinking of what the options are in the Middle East. It's clear from the news, especially pieces like this, that the current strategy is failing. Something needs to change, and needs to change dramatically. But what? Most options either more or less give the insurgents what they want, or pursue largely the same types of strategy that have led us to this place in the first instance. So, with my trademark humility, allow me to propose The Solution:

First, divide Iraq. Iraqi Nationalism has been shattered by the insurgency, adn there remains no real constituency demanding the country stay together. The Kurds get the country they always wanted, with the cities of Kirkuk and Mosul intact. The Shiites get to have a nation of their own, and will not have to worry about keeping the Sunnis from killing them.

The Sunnis have caused a great number of problems, and so it would be nice to reduce their power still further. I say it's time to call up King Abdullah of Jordan and see whether he's interested in taking over any part of Sunni Iraq. Let's not forget a cardinal rule of geopolitics: a monarchy is better than a republic. The remaining part of Sunni Iraq gets what they want, pretty much: no Shiite domination, no foreign occupiers and a chance to control their own destiny. Of course, their destiny won't include a very substantial part of Iraq's oil resources. That gets divided up principally between the Kurds and the Shiites. Perhaps eventually they'll see the wisdom of coming under the stable rule of the Hashemite dynasty. Since the Sunnis have been deprived of the oil wealth they appropriated during the Baathist years, we might as well allow them to control Baghdad (with the probable exception of Shiite suburbs, at least as a transitional measure. It will be necessary to allow Shiites in Baghdad to provide for their own safety either until the willingness of Sunni radicals to kill Shiites evaporates, or the Shiites leave Baghdad for greener pastures.)

Such a solution means that the substantial military deployments will no longer be necessary. There would be little need to stay in the Kurd or Shia state except at the request of the new governments there- and the entire point is to get out of the Sunni areas. Dividing Iraq not only removes the necessity for America to police Iraq, but it removes the need to fight for control of the central government.

What are the drawbacks? Well, this will strengthen the Shiite domination of the largest and most important state to emerge from the rubble of Iraq. Still, the Shia largely control Iraq as it is- why should we be overly concerned that the Shiite revival will grow stronger with a firmer grip on a smaller prize? If this is a key concern, there is virtually no way to prevent it other than allowing Shiite Iraq to expend all its energy putting down a Sunni insurrection, which is not an acceptable strategy.

Secondly, you annoy the dickens out of Iran, Syria and Turkey by creating a Kurdish nation in northern Iraq. But who cares? Turkey would be foolish to try to invade with American troops helping train a new Kurdish army (not because the Kurdish army would be unbeatable, but because it would be an implicit American guarantee of Kurdish independence, and Turkey is not eager to get kicked out of NATO and lose whatever chance it has at getting into the European Union). And annoying Iran and Syria is a definite advantage. The Kurds would immediately become the most pro-Western nation in the region, and would need minimal international assistance.

Lastly, such a solution will result in substantial population migrations. With Baghdad no longer the capital of a powerful, oil rich nation, I'd imagine that a great number of Shiites will return to Shiite Iraq. A less dramatic result would probably occur in Kirkuk and Mosul, where a fair chunk of the Sunni Arab population will probably slowly migrate back across the border. These migrations are unlikely to prove as bloody as the current near-civil war situation.

I've referred to this as The Solution. Will it be? I don't know. I'm optimistic that the result will largely be positive. But the principal reason to do this is that virtually nothing could be worse than the current situation. As a secondary reason, remember that the entire region is dysfunctional. Exerting pressure Syria, Iran & Saudi Arabia by creating counterweights to their power is a postive move for the region. Ultimately we are dealing with an Islamic threat which will continue to gather its strength unless some events move in our favour. Geopolitics are incredibly complex, no more so than in the Middle East. Introducing a few unknowns into the equation will increase our chances of some positive element emerging.

Update: There have been some significant edits to this post expanding on my initial thoughts.
Nothing Left to Say

A snip-
Having sown the wind of abortion we now reap the whirlwind. This appears in every quarter of our culture and on every day. And that just from the first of the “sacraments of death” of our secular human culture. The toleration of sexual perversions among inverts, widespread contraception, easy access to “no fault” divorce, the killing of the elderly, radical feminism, embryonic stem cell research — all of these things defile and debase our human nature and our human destiny. Should we cry out with the prophet “To the mountains, ‘Cover us,’ and to the hills, ‘Fall on us’” (Hosea: 10:8), lest other peoples see and, God forbid, imitate us?

...These unholy sacraments of our secular culture are the seeds of the destruction of our nation. Think for yourself: what nation that kills its young, perverts marriage, prevents new life, and destroys the family, kills those deemed useless, makes the war of the sexes into a real war, and manipulates the genetic basis of human nature, can long endure?
Go read the whole thing. The author: Bishop Thomas Doran of Rockford, Illinois.

h/t: Ad Orientem

Friday, August 04, 2006

On Racism

There's some very penetrating discussion of racism going on over at Crunchy Con. Rod Dreher discusses the complexity of racism in the South:
I once heard an older white Southern lady criticizing a Yankee interloper who was being mean to some poor blacks in her town by threatening to tear down their church, which was on property he just bought. The lady said that that sort of thing just isn't done in a town as nice as hers. She said, and this is a direct quote, "We've always been good to our nigras." Now, that's a classic example of racist white paternalism. Yet this older lady was involved in a campaign to save the church, because she was genuinely angry over the matter. Here was a white woman who was doing something concrete to help black people in need, but her heart was impure, and she couldn't even see it. Was she a racist? Somewhat so, yes. But when the chips were down for her black neighbors, she put herself on the line in a concrete (and effective!) way to help them.

...Come to think of it, I was at a meeting at that black church one night in which the congregation was trying to figure out how to save their church. Who should show up but a retired elderly sheriff who, back in the civil rights era, organized a so-called White Citizens Council to intimidate black civil rights activists. But there he was, in his old age, coming to a black church to offer his support and assistance to his black neighbors in their fight to save their church. Was that white man racist? What does it mean to be racist? Is it a matter of what you believe, or what you do ... or both?

...the way we think about race, religion and prejudice in this country is vastly more complicated than most people want to acknowledge. The older I get, the more I think about growing up in my own small Southern town, and how incredibly complicated race and human nature is, and how important it is to seek understanding before seeking judgment.

Some more interesting observations I've plucked from the comments. A Philip Mitchell writes:
I've also lived through the wonderful irony of my parents--who used to make comments I considered deeply racist about African Americans--joining a predominately African-American congregation, and having close friendships grow out of this. A couple of years ago, I recall their utter outrage at the way some white cops treated an elderly black couple from their congregation who were pulled over for going one mile over the speed limit in Arkansas.
Another comment:
My family being southerners themselves, I also noticed the complex way they were about racial matters. My grandfather might mention something that might seem a little bigoted, in a subtle way, about blacks and hispanics, yet several of his children married hispanics,he had black good friends,and worked with both races in his job as a cotton gin master, and yet some times...... well, you, who have seen this kind of thing, understand what I mean. He cared about his friends of color, and yet,some part of his upbringing, somehow remained.
Rod again:
Last night at bedtime, I re-read Flannery O'Connor's "Everything that Rises Must Converge" and "The Enduring Chill," both of which have been mentioned here in recent days. I continue to be amazed at the piercing insight O'Connor had into the character of a certain kind of enlightened liberal Southerner, whose right-thinking on the subject of race relations masks a corrosive and corrupting, even inhuman, pride. It's hard to think that O'Connor's deep insight here was not an attempt to put her own temptations on the rack: in those stories, the protagonists, Julian and Asbury, are both intellectuals stuck living at home with their conventionally prejudiced small-town Southern mothers, upon whom they visit all kinds of scorn. O'Connor, partly as a result of her poor health, was stuck at home with her mother Regina, who, if you've read O'Connor's letters, was not the ideal conversational partner. But O'Connor -- assuming that in writing about Julian and Asbury, she was writing about herself -- was enough of a Christian to know that she had to overcome those temptations, and learn to love people despite their sins and failings, because a sense of moral superiority (and the fact of moral superiority; neither Julian nor Asbury was wrong about his mother's racism) served to conceal serious sin from the person who looks down his nose at the poor dumb bigot.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The pages of my new (old) missal crackle as you leaf through!