Sunday, August 30, 2009

Excerpts from Ted Kennedy's letter to Pope Benedict XVI

I have been praying for Ted Kennedy myself the last few months, and Joe Biden too. I've been praying that both of them would man up and admit, to themselves and the world, that you cannot be a Catholic and support abortion on demand as the status quo.

I am moved by this exchange between Sen. Kennedy and the Pope, and somewhat bemused. It is redolent of the days when kings and popes would regularly communicate on matters of spiritual importance. It was probably constructed with an eye towards release to the press, after Kennedy's death. But that does not obviate its authentic and timeless nature as a communication between a Catholic and his priest.

Tip of the hat to Gordon Zaft for bringing this to my attention.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Quo Vadis? Where are you going

I knew the phrase, "Quo Vadis", from the book and movie of the same name.

I knew the story of Peter fleeing from Rome.

But I never knew that the phrase was made famous by the incident.
Thanks, Fr. Jeffrey.

Fr. Jeffrey Mickler is a priest in the Pauline family, of the Society of St. Paul. Check out his St. Paul's Tube.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Owen Danyo - Miracle Boy?

Whew. It's finished. This YouTube video is the fruit of my recent trip to Los Angeles for a media literacy workshop with the Daughters of St. Paul. It's been rolling around in my head for a couple of years now. It's the closest I can come to expressing the sorrow and joy of the last couple of years in my personal life and that of my family.

Here is what I wrote in YouTube under info:

This is the true story of my grandson, Owen Danyo, set to the beautiful and distinctive music of singing-songwriter Zoe Mulford.

A miracle is defined as "an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers."

Owen's neurologist wrote to the Postulator for the cause of Blessed James Alberione in Rome, that "Based on all the information that we had from Owens history, physical exam and brain studies as a newborn, his remarkable outcome to date is completely unexpected and not explainable medically, even given the substantial plasticity of the newborn brain."

Economist Stuart Chase is credited with the saying, "For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don't believe, no proof is possible." I am a Catholic Christian believer. I believe in the power of Christ as I believe in the power of love. Neither is subject to experimental verification, because neither is solely material. Both have one foot in nature and one in supernature.

Experience of a lifetime has shown me to my complete satisfaction that although the chaos and tragedies of life can threaten to overpower beauty, truth, and love, these nevertheless beat at the heart of reality.

These and all good things are encompassed and encapsulated in the Passionate and Sacred Heart of Christ -- your redeemer and mine.

Ask Him if it be not so. You will discover the pearl of great price, and win the lottery of your heart's delight.

Friday, August 21, 2009

George Breitbart on the enduring heritage of Saul Alinsky

Fascinating article by Andrew Breitbart about the strategy of demonizing one's opponents:

The origins of manufactured "politics of personal destruction" is Saul Alinsky, the mentor of a young Hillary Rodham, who wrote her 92-page Wellesley College senior thesis on the late Chicago-based "progressive" street agitator titled, "There Is Only the Fight."

Mr. Obama and his Fighting Illini, Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod, have perfected Mr. Alinsky's techniques as laid out in his guidebook to political warfare, "Rules for Radicals." In plain language, we see how normal, decent and even private citizens become nationally vilified symbols overnight - all in the pursuit of progressive political victory.

"Rule 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it. Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)"

Breitbart applies his analysis to explain the extraordinary hatred of George W. Bush in the last administration, and maintains that Bush's disappearance from the political scene has left a void that progressives are filling with a diffusion of targets: Sarah Palin, Joe the Plumber, the Mormons, the tea party participants. Progressives are using Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals" as their playbook, he says.

He might be right that left is more familiar with the rulebook for radicals than the right. Both sides seem to have an instinct for the gains to be gotten by playing the demonization game, though.

Machiavelli is alive and well in 21st-century US politics, it seems.

Read the whole article.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

John L. Allen Jr. on the "greenest Pope in human history."

Debra Murphy of Idylls Press pointed her blog readers towards an article by John L. Allen, Jr. about Benedict XVI's growing reputation as the "greenest Pope in history."

Although I am very interested in the Pope's new encyclical, indeed in the environmentalism he has been promoting almost since his election, this is not what grabbed me. What I found of great interest is his reflection on Benedict's thought that the green movement may be leading secular thinkers to develop what is essentially a natural law theory -- not that environmentalists use that term! According to Allen, the Pope hopes that this might lead thoughtful secularists to reason out, and then re-think, their opposition to Catholic moral teaching on issues such as abortion and embryonic stem cell research. As Pope Benedict is only too keenly aware, these derided teachings, no less than the applauded teachings in the new, "green" encyclical, stem from Catholic understanding of natural law.

Here's what John Allen writes:

Natural Law

Whenever church officials enter a moral debate these days, someone will inevitably object that they’re attempting to impose a particular religious teaching upon a pluralistic culture. According to this way of thinking, church teaching on abortion, stem cell research or cloning is disqualified as a basis for public policy because it’s sectarian in nature. That’s a deeply frustrating reaction for thinkers such as Benedict XVI, who argue that it puts things exactly backward. Abortion and human cloning are not wrong because the church says so, they insist -- rather, the church says so because they’re wrong.

The argument goes like this: The church’s moral teachings are not a set of arbitrary rules for joining the Catholic club, like wearing a fez or using a secret handshake. They’re based on universal truths rooted in human nature, which in principle anyone can recognize. This mode of reasoning is known as a “natural law” argument. It assumes that right and wrong, truth and falsehood, are real qualities which exist in nature, and which human beings can discover using their conscience. So when Catholicism says “x is wrong,” the ultimate validity of that claim rests not on the authority of the church, but the fact that x really is wrong.

According to Benedict’s vision, today’s environmental problems, from climate change to deforestation, illustrate that natural law is real. We now clearly understand, for example, that endlessly pumping out greenhouse gases in order to satisfy our consumer instincts exacts an objective physical price.

In that sense, Benedict XVI sees the rising tide of environmental consciousness as the most promising route for a recovery of the natural law tradition. In July 2007, Benedict said that environmentalism presumes that there are laws written into creation, and that “obedience to the voice of the earth is more important for our future happiness than the voices of the moment, the desires of the moment.”

Without any reference to religion, Benedict seems to believe, the secular world today is arriving at its own version of natural law theory. To put the pope’s point simplistically, if the world is willing to limit its carbon output on the basis of the laws of nature, then maybe it will become more willing to accept limits in other spheres of life as well.
The article is titled "Benedict XVI's very own shade of green", and is well worth a read.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Paradoxical imagery: blood and transfiguration

The Bible is chock full of images that stir both the spirit and the senses. Here is one from the Book of Revelation. It is used on the solemnity of All Saints (my birthday!) in the 1st reading:
Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me,

"Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?"

I said to him, "My lord, you are the one who knows."

He said to me,

"These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress,
they have washed their robes
and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb."

Washed in the Blood of the Lamb... made white in the Blood of the Lamb... how can you not love such a sensual image of redemption??

Medicare for all isn't the answer

Yes, Alan Miller is CEO of Universal Healthcare, Inc., a healthcare management company. But what he says makes sense to me.

If a government health-care plan is significantly cheaper than private health insurance, then employers are going to leave private insurance in droves and offer only the government option. And if the government plan does not have to care about profitability, then its low-cost is artificially maintained, because no matter how poor the plan the gov't can pour endless tax dollars into it.

Further, he notes:

A single-payer system may appear attractive to some. But as someone with more than 30 years of experience running a leading hospital company with international operations, I have firsthand knowledge of the hidden costs.

Medicare reimbursements to hospitals fail to cover the actual cost of providing services. The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), an independent congressional advisory agency, says hospitals received only 94.1 cents for every dollar they spent treating Medicare patients in 2007. MedPAC projects that number to decline to 93.1 cents per dollar spent in 2009, for an operating shortfall of 7%. Medicare works because hospitals subsidize the care they provide with revenue received from patients who have commercial insurance. Without that revenue, hospitals could not afford to care for those covered by Medicare. In effect, everyone with insurance is subsidizing the Medicare shortfall, which is growing larger every year.

If hospitals had to rely solely on Medicare reimbursements for operating revenue, as would occur under a single-payer system, many hospitals would be forced to eliminate services, cut investments in advanced medical technology, reduce the number of nurses and other employees, and provide less care for the patients they serve. And with the government in control, Americans eventually will see rationing, the denial of high-priced drugs and sophisticated procedures, and long waits for care.

The Democrats need to work with businesses, especially small businesses. A government-backed insurance plan seems to have an unfair advantage over private insurance.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Camille Paglia on Obama's health care plan

Camille Paglia, that warhorse of a dissident feminist who always has something of interest to say, has written in Salon about President Obama's health care initiative:
But who would have thought that the sober, deliberative Barack Obama would have nothing to propose but vague and slippery promises -- or that he would so easily cede the leadership clout of the executive branch to a chaotic, rapacious, solipsistic Congress? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whom I used to admire for her smooth aplomb under pressure, has clearly gone off the deep end with her bizarre rants about legitimate town-hall protests by American citizens. She is doing grievous damage to the party and should immediately step down.

There is plenty of blame to go around. Obama's aggressive endorsement of a healthcare plan that does not even exist yet, except in five competing, fluctuating drafts, makes Washington seem like Cloud Cuckoo Land. The president is promoting the most colossal, brazen bait-and-switch operation since the Bush administration snookered the country into invading Iraq with apocalyptic visions of mushroom clouds over American cities.

Read the rest here.

Bill Stabosz thinks that the only thing Obama is really good at is campaigning. I continue to be happy that McCain lost the election, although I voted for him and considered him by far the better of the two candidates. What I like is that the folks who stood back and did nothing but throw stones at Bush are now discovering that the country can't run itself on the good intentions of self-righteous 21st century liberalism. The new president himself seems shocked that people won't just accept his policies without question and let him enact his own New Deal. He seems surprised by opposition.

I am glad to see all the political couch potatoes, myself included, stimulated into a sense of civic duty. I know I am paying more attention to the government than usual, reading up on bills and trying to figure out what the heck is going on with our economy and our polis.

I am also following the stock market for the first time, and I am understanding capitalism a bit better than I have before.

May you live in interesting times. Indeed, the curse is upon us.

Tip of the hat to Kathleen King for the Camille tip.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Planes, grains and Danyos at play - Chicago near Midway Airport

Bill is in Chicago visiting his siblings & assorted Stabosz kith and kin. This year he road-tripped out there with daughter Reetie and her three kids: reader & soccer-player Ruth, Wii champ and book-business helper Wade, and miracle boy Owen.

He took the grandchildren out to watch the planes take off from Midway. Here are pictures. As this is Confessions of a Cooperator, I confess: I have the most wonderful seven grandchildren in the world! Here are three of them!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Jesus and Facebook -- a networking dream!

Remember when John Lennon took it on the chin for saying the Beatles were more popular than Jesus Christ?

Thanks to social networking, Jesus never has to worry about Johnnie-come-latelies stealing his thunder again! He can stay in the loop forever -- 'cause hey, he's the loopiest guy we know. And just Who was the Word, before time and words began, anyway?

Tip of the hat to Paul Hyde!