29 August 2016
The French judiciary has overturned bans on the "burkini", a swimsuit designed to cover the bodies of female Muslims. The purpose of this posting is neither to laud nor to lament the ruling but to note the sad irony that, previously, it was illegal for a woman to thus evince modesty on the same beaches where others went topless with impunity!
22 August 2016
I consider socialism, at least as presently practiced [v.i.], to be inferior to capitalism—others have said and written enough about this subject so that there’s no need for me to elaborate for a well-informed reader—; this inferiority is, however, practical rather than moral. (In fact, one could argue that, since Galatians 6:2 tells us to bear one another’s burdens, a government that commits itself to socialism on Christian principles, and which makes it known to the governed that Christianity is the motivation for the adoption of that system (since, in lieu of this cognizance, people will place their trust in the government rather than in God), would more truly approach the Christian ideal than any other regime that has yet existed. (There have been Christian Socialist parties in Europe, but I don’t know whether any of them have ever held power.) Burdens can be borne by charities, of course, but not everyone who is able to contribute to charity does so, and so the burden is not shared by all. “Christian Socialism” (or, to be alliterative, Sacred Socialism) might prove less effective economically than (pure) capitalism, but this drawback could be deemed acceptable for the sake of rescuing those who fall into the cracks in the free-market sidewalk. Anyway, this hypothetical socialist brand could probably be modified from the current bureaucratic model. Why, for example, couldn’t a government provide the people with services only indirectly, by contracting with charitable organizations (which operate less expensively than government departments and agencies), just as it does with arms manufacturers?
16 August 2016
It’s also noteworthy that President Lincoln in the Gettysburg address made no overt reference to slavery, possibly alluding to it once when he expressed anticipation of “a new birth of freedom”, even though he had issued the Emancipation Proclamation a year earlier. Had he abandoned his presentation of the Union’s war upon the Confederacy, which actually was a hypocritical effort to quell the secession of those 11 Southern States, as a crusade against slavery? (Yes, hypocritical. It’s only logical that those 11, or any other States, had a right to secede from a country which had itself been founded by a unilateral declaration of independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. What the Union ought to have done was to simply allow the Confederate States to leave the Union in peace.)
15 August 2016
(Since this u.c. is appearing on the Feast of the Assumption, its alternate title is “Not All Assumptions Ought to Be Celebrated”.)The words of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address deeply affect people who believe in America—when I put this name in small capitals, I’m referring to the myth rather than to the reality of the USA—as we ought to believe in God; so deeply that it may not occur to them to wonder about the reason for such phrases as “… who here gave their lives that that nation might live” and “… these dead shall not have died in vain … that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” The President appears to have been trying to persuade his listeners and readers to support the Union war effort by making them think that the secession of the Confederate States somehow posed an existential threat to the United States of America, when, in reality, an ultimate Southern victory would merely have left Lincoln’s country with 11 fewer States than it comprised before the belligerency. (Ironically, the gravest threat at that time to “government of the people …” may have been Lincoln himself, who greatly exceeded the authority granted to the chief executive under the US Constitution.) Some might call it cynicism to assert that this most renowned oration in US political history was wartime propaganda; I call it truthfulness, and cite this truth as another reason to be spiritual rather than worldly, to have faith in nothing but God and His Church.
03 August 2016
A pristine wilderness is not an “eden” or a “paradise”; the true Eden was paradisiacal because it existed prior to Original Sin, which resulted not also in the Fall of Man but also in a fall of the rest of creation. This is important to understand, because there is so much opposition in our era to hunting and to keeping animals in captivity.
All animals die at some time, and, in the case of higher forms that are able to feel both pain and fear, the ways in which they die are usually quite unpleasant. Human hunters generally are far more humane than their natural counterparts, many of which begin to eat their prey without killing it; those beasts that evade predation commonly perish from such causes as disease, climactic conditions like winter or drought, and starvation, the last of which can occur because of outliving the ability to feed. In truth, death by bullets or by arrows is about the best demise for which wildlife can hope. And while they live, animals are better off in zoological gardens (“zoos”), where they have abundant food and protection from above-mentioned threats, than in the wild; they may not have “freedom” in captivity, but, being instinct-driven, they don’t care about this abstract concept, and act only to satisfy physiological urges like hunger. (It ought to be mentioned also that zoological gardens and often human hunters, ironic though this may seem in the latter case, are important in conservationism. Some species survive only in captivity, and others were saved from extinction by the establishment of hunting-preserves, as was true of the European bison in the 1900’s.)God made animals to share our world, but He gave us dominion over them; it’s therefore wrong either to treat them ruthlessly or recklessly or to grant them rights (e.g., life and liberty) that are equal to ours. Nature must be protected, but not romanticized.