Friday, February 28, 2003

This will be my last post (unless someone wants to enter the lyric contest.
Starting Monday I will be posting on HMS Blog. Please join me there. I don't intend to continue the slow reading of GS on war. I really need a break from all this today, including blogging itself.

As for the lyrics contest, I haven't heard a decision from from Herr Uebermeister about that. In the next few weeks I will post some "best of" posts here sorted according to subject, such as "Liturgy," "Virtues," "The War," "Pop culture."

Thursday, February 27, 2003

Mr. Rogers and President Bush
This commentator speaks of Mr. Rogers unrelentless sincerity. I actually think of George W. in those terms as well. One of my colleagues characterized a debate between Saddam and Bush as "a debate between two liars." I don't think so. The comparison is ludicrous, insulting and shows no real sensitivity to the fundamental difference between a leader like Bush and a tyrant like Saddam. I think that within the bounds of the kind of diffidence required of a public servant, Bush is about as candid and sincere a president as we've had in ages.
Mr. Rogers
I am sure there is someone out there who is so uptight about being "contaminated" by anything but pure, hermetically sealed Rightness that they think that Mr. Rogers was a communist/new age/satanic plot to capture and corrupt the minds of our children. For my part, I loved him and would just as soon watch Mr. Rogers Neighborhood (esp. the Neighborhood of Makebelieve) as anything else that has appeared or ever will appear on t.v. And perhaps the defeat of death will actually prove to be victory, as Mr. Rogers, after whatever time he may have to spend in purgatory (for making Daniel Striped Tiger too cute), will certainly continue to intercede for our children before the Magestic Throne of the Thrice-Holy God.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

GS 81
To be sure, scientific weapons are not amassed solely for use in war. Since the defensive strength of any nation is considered to be dependent upon its capacity for immediate retaliation, this accumulation of arms, which increases each year, likewise serves, in a way heretofore unknown, as deterrent to possible enemy attack. Many regard this procedure as the most effective way by which peace of a sort can be maintained between nations at the present time.
Here begins the discussion of deterrence, which was the long-standing policy of the United sates, with its M.A.D.
Whatever be the facts about this method of deterrence, men should be convinced that the arms race in which an already considerable number of countries are engaged is not a safe way to preserve a steady peace, nor is the so-called balance resulting from this race a sure and authentic peace.
Here is the assertion, followed by the reasons. So does the validity of the assertions rest on the validity of the reasoning that follows?
Rather than being eliminated thereby, the causes of war are in danger of being gradually aggravated.
One could ask whether, in the case of the United State vs. the Soviet Union that really happened. The closest to real conflict appears to have been the Cuban missal crisis, which undoubtedly served as a historical background for this passage, since it was a very recent event.
While extravagant sums are being spent for the furnishing of ever new weapons, an adequate remedy cannot be provided for the multiple miseries afflicting the whole modern world.
The idea here is that there is only a certain amount of money available to a country and that the more the country spends on arms, the less it can spend addressing those situations that might exacerbate the tensions between nations, such as economic inequalities.
Disagreements between nations are not really and radically healed; on the contrary, they spread the infection to other parts of the earth.
To Vietnam, for instance.
New approaches based on reformed attitudes must be taken to remove this trap and to emancipate the world from its crushing anxiety through the restoration of genuine peace.
The reformed attitude would probably include what would come to be called a preferential option for the poor, or more generically, the virtue of solidarity.
Therefore, we say it again: the arms race is an utterly treacherous trap for humanity, and one which ensnares the poor to an intolerable degree.
Because money that should be used to improve their lot is instead spent on arms.
It is much to be feared that if this race persists, it will eventually spawn all the lethal ruin whose path it is now making ready.
And at that time what reason did they have to believe it wouldn't happen? Even today the U.S. has not renounced the use of nuclear weapons. Nixon seems to have seriously considered using them in Vietnam.

Warned by the calamities which the human race has made possible, let us make use of the interlude granted us from above and for which we are thankful to become more conscious of our own responsibility and to find means for resolving our disputes in a manner more worthy of man.
Which means what?
Divine Providence urgently demands of us that we free ourselves from the age-old slavery of war. If we refuse to make this effort, we do not know where we will be led by the evil road we have set upon.
One thing is for sure: we cannot simply consider the status quo "war as usual" to be permanent. The Church believes that we can work ourselves out of such a strong dependence on war to resolve problems. Have we since that time availed ourselves of every such opportunity? Have we supported, for instance, the United Nations as much as we could have or ought to have?
It is our clear duty, therefore, to strain every muscle in working for the time when all war can be completely outlawed by international consent.
Outlawed does not mean "eliminated" any more than outlawing murder has eliminated it.
This goal undoubtedly requires the establishment of some universal public authority acknowledged as such by all and endowed with the power to safeguard on the behalf of all, security, regard for justice, and respect for rights.
The United Nations is supposed to be such an authority.
But before this hoped for authority can be set up, the highest existing international centers must devote themselves vigorously to the pursuit of better means for obtaining common security.
At that time that would have been the United Nations. The Council seems to be acknowledging that the U.N. doesn't quite cut the mustard as far as being a universal public authority. Has the Vatican made a different determination since then? It seems so, if one reads the universal affirmation that only the U.N. has the authority to prosecute a war against Iraq right now.
Since peace must be born of mutual trust between nations and not be imposed on them through a fear of the available weapons, everyone must labor to put an end at last to the arms race, and to make a true beginning of disarmament, not unilaterally indeed, but proceeding at an equal pace according to agreement, and backed up by true and workable safeguards.(3)
The key here is mutual trust. That simply doesn't exist between Iraq and the rest of the world. The "true and workable safeguards" concerning Iraq's weapons do not exist.
I offer for your consideration....
A friend of mine e-mailed me this. I'm wondering what you think?
My leisure reading of late has been "The Proper Bostonians" by Cleveland Amory, a sort of insider's historical description of the city's Brahmin families.

The following statement about artists by Endicott Peabody, one of Boston's nineteenth century merchant princes, reminded me somehow of Biblical exegetes.

"Bascially he [Peabody] distrusted artists as a genus. Something Puritan in him told him that, in spite of his love for them often as individuals, they were a folk who have unreliable relationships with the world, the flesh, and the devil, with a consequent weakening of moral fiber. At best, he felt, artists are interpreters, and while interpretation is well enough in its way, it is not on a plane with genuine accomplishment."
Just as I'm about to sign off, people start using my comments boxes. Where's the justice in that?
A war blog--not!
This is quickly becoming a war blog, which is irritating me to no end. I especially don't want to end this blog with a series of reflections on war, since it started out as a reflection on literature. I hereby foreswear any posts about the war.

Rats. I can't do that.
GS #80 (cont.)
With these truths in mind, this most holy synod makes its own the condemnations of total war already pronounced by recent popes, and issues the following declaration.

Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities of extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and man himself. It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation.

The unique hazard of modern warfare consists in this: it provides those who possess modem scientific weapons with a kind of occasion for perpetrating just such abominations; moreover, through a certain inexorable chain of events, it can catapult men into the most atrocious decisions. That such may never truly happen in the future, the bishops of the whole world gathered together, beg all men, especially government officials and military leaders, to give unremitting thought to their gigantic responsibility before God and the entire human race.
This is why I am unrelentingly against saturation bombing and any use of weapons of mass destruction by the United States....and why I am prone to think we ought not to even have them because of the "inexorable chain of events" that "can catapult men into the most atrocious decisions." I don't think the "I didn't mean to" defense is defensable.
Vatican and the war
My friend, Joe, who appears frequently in my comments boxes, send me this link, then says:
More stupidity with the Vatican. Its no wonder no one takes the Vatican seriously. Basically, they are not saying, we think it best not to have a war. They are saying that anyone who correctly applies just war theory is a criminal. How does the Vatican expect anyone to follow them on contraception and abortion when they make such ideological statements with such certitude on these other issues with a kind of moral certitude that is used on those other issues?
Although I disagree that the Vatican is saying that those who apply just war are criminal, but I do share a certain confusion about the real argument that the Vatican is trying to make. If they are saying a multilateral coalition must have U.N. approval to wage war, I'm wondering whether even the U.N. charter requires that. I know the right of a sovereign nation to wage a just war is guaranteed by the charter. I also don't know that the Vatican is in the pocket of western Europe, as Joe says in the comments box here. Keep in mind that the Pope is an eastern European. They tend to be more supportive of the U.S. position.

I agree at this point that a U.S. led coalition invasion would not necessarily be an war, as Kevin points out, just because a war is just does not mean it should be waged.
Public Radio: a poll
How many of you financially support public radio (not t.v.) or have supported it in the past by direct cash contributions? In the 1980s I did, but as some point I stopped because it became clear to me that I was sending money into a commercial station, which seemed odd to me. Any thoughts?

I'm asking this because one of those frequent and interminible pledge drives is on right now.
Okay, I'll bite....
Kevin says he disagrees with me "that ensuring a 'stable international order' meets the Catechism's criteria." To him, "This sounds vague and uncertain." Well, I'll unvagueize and uncertainize it for him. To me Saddam Hussein's regime poses a threat of "lasting, grave, and certain" "damage." to Israel, if not immediately to the United States. So I don't just think any ol' international order is a criterion, but a very specific and explosive one.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

St. Therese Movie
For years I've been a fan of Leonardo Defilippis , ever since I saw the one-man Maximilian Kolbe play in St. Paul. Now his St. Luke Productions is releasing a theatrical film on the life of St. Therese called Therese. Check out the great website, including the Flash page. It looks awesome.
The final installment of the lyric contest
My favorite anti-drug song from the 60s. E-mail me with the next line in the lyric and get your name and url in lights! "Girl, you thought you found the answer on that magic carpet ride last night."
Modern culture
I am torn inside about modern pop culture. As you all know I really like the old songs and t.v. shows. On the other hand, I regret that so much of my mind is filled up with trivia about the Beatles and plots and gags from Gilligan's Island. The fact that I even have an opinion about Kirk vs. Picard (don't bring Sisko or Janeway into this!) is downright embarrasing.

What is worse, my kids are starting to get into this as well. They listen much too much to the oldies station and much too little to Tom Chapin or the classical station. (Part of the problem is that WFMR comes in so lousy in Franklin). My seventeen year old daughter has a copy of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and the Herman's Hermits Greatest Hits. I have to tell her not to play certain of the songs in the house. That I have to even tell her this is disappointing. I'd hope she'd be more senstive than that.

At least she and her brothers and sisters hate all the rap and alternative rock and heavy metal. I can't imagine going to Summerfest, although I know of many Christians who do.
GS #80
Back to the mantra....
80. The horror and perversity of war is immensely magnified by the addition of scientific weapons. For acts of war involving these weapons can inflict massive and indiscriminate destruction, thus going far beyond the bounds of legitimate defense. Indeed, if the kind of instruments which can now be found in the armories of the great nations were to be employed to their fullest, an almost total and altogether reciprocal slaughter of each side by the other would follow, not to mention the widespread deviation that would take place in the world and the deadly after effects that would be spawned by the use of weapons of this kind.

All these considerations compel us to undertake an evaluation of war with an entirely new attitude.(1) The men of our time must realize that they will have to give a somber reckoning of their deeds of war for the course of the future will depend greatly on the decisions they make today.
Things just aren't "business as usual" in the area of war. We've got to rethink things. The old manner of applying just war theory does not sufficiently take into consideration the large-scale death and destruction that characterizes modern, "scientific" warfare. Or has U.S. technology really developed to the extent that our bombs are smart enough to just hit military targets?
Gaudium et Spes #79 (cont.)
Those too who devote themselves to the military service of their country should regard themselves as the agents of security and freedom of peoples. As long as they fulfill this role properly, they are making a genuine contribution to the establishment of peace.
This, of course, includes the injunction for soldiers never to do anything they know to be immoral, even at the price of their own freedom. But it also means that there is no justification for dissing soldiers or the military so long as they are keeping within the bounds of just use of war
My real problem with the war
I am basically convinced that, for the sake of a stable international order, Saddam must be overthrown (not necessarily primarily for protecting U.S. citizens). I believe that the United Nations ought to condone military action in this case, since SH is obviously not going to cooperate. If the U.N. doesn't I believe it is because of an inherent weakness in the organization itself, the veto power of the five permanent members of the security council, which renders the U.N. not an effective international legal body, thus paving the way for a U.S. led multilateral (NOT unilateral) military compaign. My one hesitation is concerning the ad bellum proportionality criterion. If the U.S. is planning to use saturation bombing of populous areas, or nukes, or any other form of indiscriminate warfare as part of this compaign, I'm opposed to our military action. I believe that the Iraqis will in fact surrender without much of a fuss, since most of them want Saddam outta there, including even some of the high-ranking people. So I don't think the destruction will be that great if we don't do the indiscriminate stuff.

Monday, February 24, 2003

Gaudium et Spes #79
79. Even though recent wars have wrought physical and moral havoc on our world, the devastation of battle still goes on day by day in some part of the world. Indeed, now that every kind of weapon produced by modern science is used in war, the fierce character of warfare threatens to lead the combatants to a savagery far surpassing that of the past. Furthermore, the complexity of the modern world and the intricacy of international relations allow guerrilla warfare to be drawn out by new methods of deceit and subversion. In many causes the use of terrorism is regarded as a new way to wage war.
Although things have changed since St. Thomas Aquinas, they really haven't changed that much since 1965. This is pretty much characteristic of our time. Note, the emphasize that new forms of war have made war much worse and much more dangerous and much more savage. This is why we need to avoid it even more than ever before
Contemplating this melancholy state of humanity, the council wishes, above all things else, to recall the permanent binding force of universal natural law and its all-embracing principles. Man's conscience itself gives ever more emphatic voice to these principles. Therefore, actions which deliberately conflict with these same principles, as well as orders commanding such actions are criminal, and blind obedience cannot excuse those who yield to them. The most infamous among these are actions designed for the methodical extermination of an entire people, nation or ethnic minority. Such actions must be vehemently condemned as horrendous crimes. The courage of those who fearlessly and openly resist those who issue such commands merits supreme commendation.
Genocide is the chief among them, but certainly not the only one. There is the question of, ahem, saturation bombing, which the United States, as far as I know, has not renounced in principle.
On the subject of war, quite a large number of nations have subscribed to international agreements aimed at making military activity and its consequences less inhuman. Their stipulations deal with such matters as the treatment of wounded soldiers and prisoners. Agreements of this sort must be honored. Indeed they should be improved upon so that the frightfulness of war can be better and more workably held in check. All men, especially government officials and experts in these matters, are bound to do everything they can to effect these improvements.
Geneva convention, etc. But, no blanket condemnation of war itself.
Moreover, it seems right that laws make humane provisions for the case of those who for reasons of conscience refuse to bear arms, provided however, that they agree to serve the human community in some other way.
As far as I know, Catholics in the United States have not been able to use this passage to obtain C.O. status, because Catholicism isn't a tradition "peace" religion in the eyes of the government.
Certainly, war has not been rooted out of human affairs. As long as the danger of war remains and there is no competent and sufficiently powerful authority at the international level, governments cannot be denied the right to legitimate defense once every means of peaceful settlement has been exhausted. State authorities and others who share public responsibility have the duty to conduct such grave matters soberly and to protect the welfare of the people entrusted to their care. But it is one thing to undertake military action for the just defense of the people, and something else again to seek the subjugation of other nations. [jus ad bellum] Nor, by the same token, does the mere fact that war has unhappily begun mean that all is fair between the warring parties. [jus in bello]
This is the provision that pro war people use to defend the U.S. intervention in Iraq. The idea is that the United Nations is not a "competent and sufficiently powerful authority at the international level." This is a prudential judgment. The pope and bishops seem to be saying that it is, the U.S. that it isn't. It seems to me clear that the Church wants the U.N. to be stronger and more effective. It also seems to me that that depends to a certain extent on the level of support given by the member nations, especially the stronger ones.
And the winner....
Victor Lams, who probably needs no introduction, wins with the submission, "Brenda Lee's comin' on strong..." from the Golden Earring classic driving song "Radar Love." Victor isn't much of a fan of Golden Earring. I suppose I'm not either, since I know nothing about their work besides this one, which really epitomizes high power rock to me. I had no idea that this was the lyric from the song until doing the research for this contest. I guess it is their Dutch accents. Or maybe just the screaming guitars.
Jesuit Preaching
I heard homilies this weekend given by two different Jesuits at two different Masses. The first, on Saturday night, was given by Fr. William Kurz, S.J., New Testament scholar at Marquette, at a monthly Mass for Life we attend. The second was by Fr. Cletus Healy, S.J., at our parish of St. Anthony. Both ended with an exhortation to receive the Sacrament of Penance frequently. This should hearten Karen Hall.
Dire Straits
I was never a fan, but I heard "Sultans of Swing" last night and the lead guitar work is just plain awesome.
And it's NOT "Stairway to Heaven!"
Speaking of the Lyric contest, there will be two more. The first is what I consider the best 70s rock song of all. If you can e-mail me the next line I will post your name and a link on this blog. Here goes: "The radio plays some forgotten song."
Europe and America
They had a show on public radio this weekend called "Europe is from Venus, America is from Mars." I didn't hear the show, but I thought the title was hilarious. And maybe onto something.

Greg Popcak has me to be join HMS Blog (pictured on the left). Since resistance is futile, I have graciously accepted. I will cease posting regularly on this blog as of Friday, February 28.

As to what will happen to the lyric contest, that will be up to Emily Stimpson (pictured right), who, as far as I can tell, is the one really in charge over there.