“May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us in all our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy.” – George Washington

“On Monday [Rev. Wright] insisted that he is not anti-American: It is, he said, Americans’ government, not the American public, that is a genocidal perpetrator of terrorism. So, he now denies that America has a representative government- that it represents the public. He believes that elections constantly and mysteriously- and against the public’s will- produce a genocidal, terroristic government.” – George Will

“I am all too familiar with the false theology of these racist black preachers. [They]… attempt to use their pulpit, the Bible and God himself to hide the evil that lies within their hearts. They use the anger of black Americans to keep them demoralized, dependent and Democrat.” – Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson

“Could the pastor of a man hoping to become president really have said those things? And what would it mean for the nation and the world if America’s highest officeholder had marinated for 20 years in that kind of thinking?” – Kathleen Parker

“Whom will Obama believe and trust if he is the president? How will he judge an ally and an enemy? How will he staff a vast Executive Branch? Whom will he appoint to the Supreme Court and how will he judge their characters and their personal histories?… If he even figures out who the radicals are, will he have the courage to refuse them office or influence?” – Hugh Hewitt

“The biofuels debacle is global warm-mongering in a nutshell: The first victims of poseur environmentalism will always be developing countries. In order for you to put biofuel in your Prius and feel good about yourself for no reason, real actual people in faraway places have to starve to death.” – Mark Steyn

“Sometimes people come up to me and inquire, ‘Justice Scalia, when did you first become an originalist?’ You know, as though it’s some weird affliction, you know, ‘When did you start eating human flesh?”‘ – Justice Antonin Scalia

Book Review: Benedict of Bavaria

I picked up this book after hearing an interview with the author on Catholic Answers Live. (Listen to the interview online.) By way of coincidence, the author Brennan Pursell is a professor at DeSales University in Allentown, run by the Oblates of Saint Francis de Sales, who also run the best damn high school around. Oh, and while I’m on the subject of my high school: St. Mark’s sucks!

The point of this book is to draw a picture of Pope Benedict XVI not just as a theologian or a Bishop, but as a Bavarian. It does an excellent job of showing how growing up in Bavaria impacted the Pope’s life making him the person he is today. By the accounts of all who actually know him, he is a gentle, humble kind man who tries to lead and persuade, rather than impose his will as some stereotypes would have it. It should hardly need to be done, but Pursell takes the time to deflate the myths of the “Panzer Cardinal,” claims that Benedict was a Nazi who shot down American planes, or that he’s a hardliner who crushes all questioning on theological topics. He shows the falsity of all of those claims with specific examples from Benedict’s life.

He also provides an introduction to Benedict’s theological thought and beliefs which serves as an interesting starting point for learning more about his approach to Christianity. An interesting note: his thesis was rejected the first time it was presented due to his contradiction of the beliefs of a member of the board presenting it, and a poor typing job. He was given the opportunity to revise it and re-present it, only to have the board turn on each other debating his central arguments. He was, of course, ultimately allowed to pass. History could have taken a much different path had he been rejected again.

One thing I had read a while back, but forgotten, that the book brings out is that Bavarians do not really consider themselves German. Having had independence from greater Germany for much of history, they don’t feel as as strong a connection with the rest of the nation. (Religious difference likely exacerbate this: Bavaria tends to be very Catholic, especially when compared to the Protestantism of much of the rest of Germany.) Bavaria was one of the most anti-Hitler regions of Germany, as it wasn’t until Hitler was given dictatorial powers that there was much of a Nazi presence in Bavaria, and even then it tended to be “softer” than in the rest of Germany, while still quite deadly to those who openly opposed Hitler, and there were quite a few Bavarians who met their end this way.

This book serves as both a useful introduction to Pope’s theological views and his many theological books and a reminder that we can’t understand the person Joseph Ratzinger if we think of him as German. He’s not: he’s Bavarian as this book amply shows and explains. It’s a great way to get to know our “German Shepherd.”

Reports of the economy’s demise are greatly exaggerated

BBC NEWS | Business | US grows by 0.6% in first quarter

The US economy grew by 0.6% in the first quarter of 2008.

The first quarter figure exceeded analyst expectations of a 0.2% growth and eased expectations of an economic slowdown.

Somehow, I doubt the media will be trumpeting these results. To the extent they’re covered, it will be with a “yeah, but…” attitude. Because good economic news under a Republican presidency is no news.

Book Review: Living the Mass by Fr. Dominic Grassi and Joe Paprocki

Loyola Press had a promotion where people participating in a parish RCIA program either as candidates for full communion with the Catholic Church or as team members could receive a free book from their catalog. I looked at the books they were making available through the program and selected Living the Mass: How one hour a week can change your life by Father Dominic Grassi and Joe Paprocki. I didn’t really have high expectations for the book, as I had a hunch based on past experience with Loyola Press that the book would be somewhat fluffy and lightweight. Plus, you get you what you pay for, right?

Well, I wasn’t wrong… The book was kind of light and fluffy and I didn’t find much new in the way of insight. And the authors got some stuff wrong: they belittled the “old” Mass for giving people the supposedly mistaken notion that the priest alone, without participation from the laity present, performs the consecration, changing the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. Of course, this is exactly what happens, as the priest-author should know, especially since he relates that he often celebrates the Mass alone, as priests are encouraged to do on days when they are not publicly celebrating the Mass. If the laity’s attendance were essential to the consecration, then he couldn’t perform the consecration alone. (I don’t think I misinterpreted what they were writing; I read the paragraph a number of times.)

In addition, they seem to develop a false dichotomy between the body and the blood of Christ saying that receiving under the appearance of bread expresses our unity with all of Christ’s baptized people, since “through baptism, we become members of his mystical body”, while receiving from the cup expresses our “commitment to the mission of the church.” There are a number of problems with this section. First, there is no separation between the body and the blood under the two different species. Receiving either under the appearance of bread or under the appearance of wine gives us the fullness of Christ’s body, blood, soul and divinity. Receiving under both species is not necessary. While describing that way might be helpful and make it more meaningful, implying that both are necessary is incorrect and against the long-held teaching of the Church. Additionally, if receiving under the form of bread expresses our unity with all the baptized, why has the Catholic Church always restricted reception to those in full communion and good standing with the Catholic Church, excluding those Catholics not yet admitted to Communion, those not in a state of grace, and non-Catholic Christians?

I can’t really recommend this book. The theology is shaky and I think it really fails in its main mission of inspiring us to live the Mass during the week.

Thomas Sowell: It should be earned, not given

Townhall.com::An Old Newness::By Thomas Sowell

Many years ago, a great hitter named Paul Waner was nearing the end of his long career. He entered a ballgame with 2,999 hits — one hit away from the landmark total of 3,000, which so many hitters want to reach, but which relatively few actually do reach.

Waner hit a ball that the fielder did not handle cleanly but the official scorer called it a hit, making it Waner’s 3,000th. Paul Waner then sent word to the official scorer that he did not want that questionable hit to be the one that put him over the top.

The official scorer reversed himself and called it an error. Later Paul Waner got a clean hit for number 3,000.

What reminded me of this is the great fervor that many seem to feel over the prospect of the first black President of the United States.

No doubt it is only a matter of time before there is a black president, just as it was only a matter of time before Paul Waner got his 3,000th hit. The issue is whether we want to reach that landmark so badly that we are willing to overlook how questionably that landmark is reached.

I’m a sucker for a good baseball analogy, especially when it works as it does here. We shouldn’t obsess ourselves with getting “the first black President” (or woman President for that matter); rather, we should focus ourselves on getting the best president we can at all times. Just like Paul Waner wanting to earn his 3000th hit, the first black President should be someone capable and qualified. Obama seems to fail on both accounts.

We had a similar situation in Wilmington last decade. Jim Sills was the first black mayor of Wilmington and that seemed to put him beyond reproach in many people’s eyes. Meanwhile, his administration was spending like crazy, destroying the tax base, handcuffing police among lots of other damage he did to Wilmington, that we’re still trying to fix and recover from. But he was untouchable in many eyes due to his status as “the first black mayor.”

Electing on identity politics alone, as Obama’s and Hillary’s supporters often seem to be pushing, can be very damaging if the wrong person is being elected due to their identity. Wilmington’s past shows that, and it’s lesson the entire nation shouldn’t be forced to learn.