Monday, June 15, 2009

Prayer request

Today, June 15, 2009, at approximately 2:30 PM, EST, I will be interviewed by the Commission for Orders and Ministries of my diocese. This is a panel of priests who have been given the various material I have had to submit as part of the process for applying to seminary. Having gone over it, they will use this time to ask me any questions this material may have brought up. After the interview they will suggest to my bishop whether or not I should be accepted as a seminarian. His Excellency will take their suggestion into account when he makes his final decision.

This is one of the last steps in the process of becoming a seminarian. If any of you would be so kind as to remember me in your prayers today, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My how the Liturgy of the Hours for today is difficult

OK, so...

Today is Corpus Christi... except, in the U.S., it's not. Fine. I think that moving the Solemnity so people don't have to attend Mass more than once a week is a bad idea, but I'm not in charge and - since I don't have access to a 1962 Breviary and thus cannot choose to use the old calendar for today - I am obediently praying the Liturgy of the Hours for St. Barnabas the Apostle.

One problem. St. Barnabas is on the calendar as a memorial. Both the Ordinary of the Liturgy of the Hours, i.e. the rubrics written in red, and the General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours say that memorials are not celebrated during the daytime hours of terce, sext and none (or midmorning, midday, and midafternoon prayer, if you prefer). But St. Barnabas has proper readings for terce, sext and none. So what's a man to do? Does the fact that he has proper readings trump the general norms? I am leaning towards not using the readings in his proper since both the rubrics and the praenotanda seem to say that I shouldn't.

Does anyone out there have a 2009 Ordo for the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite in the United States? What does it say?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

On textual criticism

I would never deny that textual criticism can have its uses in the study of Sacred Scripture. But I am skeptical about how all-powerful this usefulness is.

For example, the Fathers confirm that the Apostle John wrote the Gospel of John and the three Epistles of John. Some textual critics argue that this cannot be correct because of the difference in writing style.1 To investigate this further, I will propose and experiment.

Here is something I wrote on a lark in college. Read it and, if you are familiar with the general tone of this blog, tell me if you would have guessed it and this blog were written by the same man if you had not been told:
I don't trust the Care Bears. They're up to something. I believe that they are an alien species bent on conquering the Earth. Think about it. They live in the sky, among the stars. They fly around in strange vehicles.

And how comes they're always trying to spread peace and love? Because they want us all to be shiny, happy people? I think not. They're trying to disarm humanity and take away our ability to fight. When we have disarmed and all people are living in harmony, they will launch their quick and devastating attack, destroying our communications infrastructure and murdering world leaders. After this quick coup they will rule us all with an iron fist... er, uh... paw.

What I don't understand is how I am the only one to see it. They fire lasers from their freaking stomachs. FROM THEIR FREAKING STOMACHS PEOPLE! They use these tummy-lasers to eliminate any enemies that stand in the way of their diabolical plan of slowly sifting the fighting spirit out of the human race.

Once this information goes public, I will probably be targeted for "caring." I can only hope that this message reaches enough people in time. Don't let this cuddly alien menace get away with it. Fight these hibernating hell-bringers with all your strength. Do it for humanity.
I hope this experiment has been useful to you.

1 I'm honestly not all that up on the current ins and outs of Biblical scholarship. Is this still a popular view? It certainly was when I was in high school and college.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

The logic of modernity

At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State. ~Planned Parenthood v Casey
I believe that I've written explicitly enough that the killing of George Tiller was murder, and that it was both evil and foolish for Roeder to do so. That being said, let us reason together.

The quote above is, as stated, from the decision in the Supreme Court case Planned Parenthood v Casey. That means, at least insofar as the present day workings of the legal system of these United States goes, that the quoted position is to be taken as a basic principle contained in and protected by the Constitution of the United States. Now assume the following: Roeder defines human life in such a way that abortionists are not included under it, or at least under the category of human life whereby one is protected by a right to not be killed. Or assume Roeder defines the universe in such a way that it is a moral imperative for abortionists to be killed because of what they do. Or assume both, or any similar type of position, or every similar type of position.

Under such an assumption, how can Roeder be prosecuted for murder? He has a basic Constitutional right to define these things for himself, and to do so without any compulsion from the State. That compulsion obviously includes using laws against his position to punish him. This is the same logic that says abortion must be legal, else we would we using "compulsion" to define things like life for people and thus denying them their liberty. If Roeder holds any position similar to the ones given above, then he should be immune from prosecution under the Constitution of the United States as authoritatively interpreted by the United States' Supreme Court.

In other words, the logic of modernity and basic consistency demand that Roeder be free from prosecution by the State. If they were truly consistent, then pro-aborts would be decrying Tiller's murder, but at the same time they would be decrying any attempt to prosecute Roeder. They would admit that they do not like the murder of abortionists. But the answer to that is simple: if you don't like abortionists being murdered, then don't murder one. They would reach across the aisle, extending hands of peace and cooperation, so that both pro-lifers and pro-aborts could work together to make the murder of abortionists safe, legal and rare.

This is what logic would demand. Moderns love to claim the mantle of logic and reason. Let us see if any actually follow their first principles were logic leads.

Thursday, June 04, 2009


This is interesting, especially the Habermas quote. But, as far as practical matters go, demographics are destiny. If Europeans don't start having children, there soon won't be anybody left to practice the faith, comeback or no.

And now for something completely different...

I was browsing "teh interwebs" and saw this post by (amazing) sci-fi author John C. Wright. And, because I'm tired and feeling a bit whimsical, I thought I'd roll with it (even if I don't use ::shudder:: LiveJournal).

My wallpaper is a picture of one of the marines from Warhammer 40,000's Black Templar Space Marine chapter. Someone, somewhere on the web, used the drawing to make one of those "motivational poster" parodies. I'm using it because, for all its faults, the 40k universe can be fun. And because I like the caption. And because the Black Templars are kind of awesome.

You can click on the thumbnail for full size version of my desktop. AWE at a chance to get a glimpse into parts of my mind to which you have never before had access! MARVEL at the number of icons and files on my desktop! CRINGE as I continue to write cheesy lines like this one!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Contraception, abortion, euthanasia and the slippery slope

(N.B. This is a slightly modified form of an argument I first wrote in one of Mark Shea's comment boxes. The original is available here.)

There are a number of people who have pointed out that the acceptance of contraception will lead to the acceptance of abortion and euthanasia. Think, for example, of the prophetic words of Pope Paul VI in Humanae vitae. Yet there are many who argue that such a stance is an example of the fallacious slippery slope form of argument.

The argument that the acceptance of contraception logically leads to the acceptance of abortion and euthanasia is not a slippery slope. It entails necessary conclusions drawn from what the acts of contraception, abortion and euthanasia are, and from the principles that must be accepted to view these acts as morally acceptable.

Sex causes babies. This is what sex does. To say that there is a right to contraception entails holding that one has a right to the cause of babies - sex - without the result that naturally follows - the babies themselves.

Principle 1: a right to sex without babies.

There is, however, a problem: no form of contraception is 100% reliable. Barrier methods fail, pills fail &c. But we already necessarily hold that there is a right to sex without babies. Thus there must be an all purpose backup that will eliminate babies in the cases were contraception fails. This is abortion. This is how abortion was historically argued for by a number of people, i.e. as a necessary backup to contraception.

Moreover, it is still how abortion is argued for today. Please see this HuffPo article that Mark Shea links to here: "Others find that their dignity depends on being able to end the pregnancy." Human dignity depends on Principle 1, on the right to sex without babies. Thus human dignity depends on abortion.

There is, however, a problem. From the moment of conception there is a genetically unique, self-contained, self-directed, genetically human life. This is a fact that science - today's great god-king of all that is knowable - confirms. There is no logical way to say that this life is anything other than a human being. But Principle 1 necessarily demands that this innocent human being can be killed if it is not desired. Thus it must follow that human life only has worth dependent on circumstances. It has no inherent worth in itself.

Principle 2: Human life has no inherent worth.

Now, the chronically sick and the elderly can be difficult to care for. Caring for them can be just as difficult, if not more difficult, than raising children. But we have already posited a right to sex without children. How can we have a right to be free of the latter "burden," but not the former? We cannot, and Principle 2 gives us the way out.

The chronically sick and the elderly live lives that are of a lesser quality than others do. They live with pain. They suffer a loss of qualities such as speed, strength, agility, beauty &c. They are a "burden" on those who have to take care of them and are usually without a means giving much of anything back as compensation for being such a "burden."

We would certainly appraise the value of anything else that had so many detriments with so few benefits as being of little worth. And since Principle 2 holds that human life has no inherent worth, we can appraise the value of a human life the same way we would appraise the value of anything else. Thus we can appraise the life of the chronically ill and the elderly as being worthless and eliminate them is we so choose.

Contraception necessarily requires abortion because the principle behind the acceptance of contraception is that we have a right to sex without babies, and the only way to fully guaranty sex without babies is to have abortion as a backup for the failure of ontraception. The acceptance of abortion necessarily requires that some innocent human life is worth less than others and can thus be taken if it is undesirable. It thus becomes a necessary principle that human life has no inherent worth. And if human life has no inherent worth, then there is no reason why the life of the chronically ill and elderly cannot be appraised as having little worth and eliminated so as to relieve the burden that would otherwise be imposed on those who would have to care for them.

In proof form:

If you accept a right to contraception, then you accept Principle 1.

If you accept Principle 1, then you accept that abortion is a right.

Therefore, if you accept a right to contraception, then you accept that abortion is a right.

That is a valid hypothetical syllogism.

If you accept that abortion is a right, then you accept Principle 2.

If you accept Principle 2, then you accept euthanasia.

Therefore, if you accept that abortion is a right, then you accept euthanasia.

That is another valid hypothetical syllogism.

If you accept a right to contraception, then you accept that abortion is a right.

If you accept that abortion is a right, then you accept euthanasia.

Therefore, if you accept a right to contraception, then you accept euthanasia.

This is yet another valid hypothetical syllogism.

The conclusion is thus proved: If you accept contraception, logical adherence to principles demands that you accept abortion and euthanasia.

Monday, June 01, 2009

On the murder of George Tiller

I have seen a number of Catholics question whether the killing of the child-murderer George Tiller was actually an act of murder. In more than one place I have seen an analogy drawn between the act of the killer and the assassination of Hitler planned and attempted by Colonel Claus Philipp Maria Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg. The thinking seems to be that, since both Hitler and Tiller were mass murderers, if killing one can be justified, so can killing the other. The analogy not only fails, but it does dishonor to the memory of Colonel Stauffenberg by associating him with a murderer. I will take the time to spell out why and in what ways the analogy fails for the sake of honoring a true German patriot and hopefully shedding some light on some bad moral philosophy and theology.

First, the analogy fails because Stauffenberg did not attempt to assassinate Hitler simply qua mass murderer, but qua tyrant. And even this can be argued as potentially suspect, since tradition has generally held that a tyrant by usurpation can be justly killed but a tyrant by oppression must be deposed by legal, not extra-legal, means. Indeed, the Syllabus of Pius IX condemned the proposition that, "It is lawful to refuse obedience to legitimate princes, and even to rebel" (prop. 63). See the article from the 1912 Catholic Encyclopedia for more information.

Now, it can be argued that a tyrant by oppression can become a tyrant by usurpation when they extend their power in a manner that is contrary to the law and constitution of their nation. As far as I can see, such an argument appears sound. Thus Hitler would have been a tyrant by usurpation after illegally taking the presidential power for himself following the death of President Paul von Hindenburg, if for no other reason - and I'm sure that at least a few more, if not many, could be found. But even given this, the analogy fails.

The second reason the analogy fails as follows: even if one is acting against a tyrant, one is only justified in acting if doing so will do less harm to the tyrant's subjects than the tyrant's continued rule (Summa Theologia (hereafter ST), II-II, q. 42 ad 3). Even if Tiller where somehow analogous with a tyrant qua tyrant, this does not hold. The potential lives saved - and they are only potential, since we neither have evidence that anyone who was signed up for an abortion with him would have gone through with it, nor that he would not have eventually been stopped by legal means due to performing abortions after it was legal to do so, nor that the grace of God would not have moved him to repentance, nor that some other doctor will not now willingly step in and take his place due to the fact that the pro-abortion crowd can now treat him as their own twisted version of a martyr - these potential lives saved do not seem to outweigh the potential lives lost due to the marginalization of the pro-life message that will be attempted following the act, a marginalization that will further set back the legal battle against abortion.

But even if the lives saved do potentially outweigh the lives lost, the analogy still fails for a third reason. Tiller was not a tyrant. He did not have any special authority over the abortion laws of his state or of the union. Indeed, he willingly violated those laws that did exist. He was an evil man, but no private individual has the right to take the life of an evil man of his own volition. This authority rests with those people who have responsibility for maintaining the common welfare of society, and here only through those means as set out by the law (ST II-II, q. 62, a. 3c).

Finally, some have offered a hypothetical situation: suppose we find out that the man who killed Tiller was acting in the defense of a child or grandchild who was scheduled to be aborted by Tiller later that week? Even if this hypothetical is true, the act would still be murder for at least two reasons.

First, because self-defense must be proportionate to the threat (ST II-II, q. 62, a. 7c). Since the hypothetical child we are speaking of was not immediately under Tiller's knife, the violence used was not proportional to the immediate threat to the hypothetical child's life. Tiller's attacker could have first attempted to convince the mother of the hypothetical child not to go through with the abortion. Failing that, he could have restrained her until she gave birth. Such an act would have been illegal, but the attacker apparently had no qualms in breaking the law, and such an act would have been proportional to the threat at the time.

Second, even if the physical force used would have been proportional to the threat, a private individual still cannot intend to kill an attacker, only to repulse the attack with the force necessary for doing so (ibidem). To intend otherwise would be to violate the aforementioned rule forbidding private individuals from taking the life of an evildoer of their own volition.

There is no analogy between Tiller's killer and Colonel Stauffenberg. The tradition of Catholic moral philosophy and theology clearly appear to condemn the killing of Tiller as an evil act of murder. We may not do evil that good may come of it. And of those who say we can, I offer only the words of St. Paul: damnatio iusta est, "their damnation is just" (Romans iii.viii).

As for the fall-out of this act, my opinions have already been written. They once again boil down to this: "Unfurl the black banner. Quarter neither asked for nor given. No Surrender, no retreat."

I know that, given the ludicrous, hysterical and void of documentation Homeland Security Report we found out about not two months ago, I may be suspect as a "domestic terrorist" simply because I called a spade a space and said that Tiller was a murderer and evil, even though I did it while condemning his own murder. But I already had a Ron Paul bumper sticker on my car, so I was suspect long before writing this. I plan to become even more suspect by eventually adding a Gadsden flag bumper sticker, a Bonnie Blue flag bumper sticker, a 1st National flag bumper sticker, and maybe even a Jolly Roger bumper sticker. So color me not all that frightened.

Indeed, given that same report, and the fact that the last such murder or attempted murder was over ten years ago, I am not yet certain that this whole thing is not simply a false flag. But I take heart in the fact that today is the memorial of St. Justin Martyr. To quote the saint: "For as for us, we reckon that no evil can be done us, unless we be convicted as evil-doers or be proved to be wicked men; and you, you can kill, but not hurt us" (First Apology, Chapter 2). "You can kill, but not hurt us." Words to remember when things seem darkest.