Thursday, June 30, 2005

Taft may be forced to resign

The Ohio News Network is reporting that Governor Bob Taft is under official investigation for a major ethics violation that is related to the Workers' Compensation investment scandal that we've discussed in the preceding weeks here at the World. According to the Governor's own admission, he accepted the gifts of repeated golf outings paid for by rare coin dealer Tom Noe, the same man who has been accused of mismanaging the Workers' Compensation funds of the State of Ohio within his coin investment operation. Taft admits openly to failing to report these outings, as required by Ohio's ethics reform laws.

My guess is that prosecutors would go light on Taft because he has fessed up to his failure to report. However, deliberate failure to report under the ethics law is a crime, that can be punished by jail time. Even if Taft doesn't go to jail, if the evidence continues to show that he violated the law, he should resign immediately, and not cause the GOP further embarrassment.

Eucharist is source and summit of Catholic faith


Following Adam Graham's audioblog podcast on Catholic/Protestant ecumenism, I thought it would be good to begin an occasional series here at the World on some of the key differences which divide Catholics from Protestants. This won't be a continuous series, just one of those "we'll discuss it as we have time" sort of things, and as I have the time and energy, I'll have installments on a number of theological, moral, and disciplinary issues which divide the two sides. Catholics should know that the series will be aimed primarily at educating Evangelicals and other interested parties as to the fundamentals of Catholic doctrine. Many of you already know much of what I am writing here, and like me, you accept it as true. Many more of you have had very poor catechesis and will actually be learning some of this for the first time. Its okay to ask questions, I will do my best to answer them, and if I cannot, I will refer you to someone who can.

To Evangelicals, other Protestants, unbelievers, and seekers of the truth, this series will (I hope) help better explain to you why Catholics believe what we do, and why Catholics seem so peculiar to you. It may also help to have a solid grasp of history, because when we talk about these things here, history will invariably come into the discussion. I am going to do my best to deal with our differences respectfully and with charity.

Adam hit the nail on the head when he said that the Eucharist was probably the most serious issue that divides Catholics and Evangelicals. Evangelicals don't even think about the Eucharist, I believe Adam used the words "not on our radar screen." Adam does have somewhat of an understanding of the Catholic teaching on the Eucharist, however, so let me direct the attention of our readers to John 6:31-70. I won't post the whole passage here, I'll leave that to readers to go to their Bibles, but I will say that Evangelicals believe that in this passage, Our Lord was speaking only symbolically, in fact, in the latest Nelson Study Bible, the Evangelical (mostly Baptist) scholars who wrote the footnotes went to great pains to emphasize that Christ was speaking symbolically. However, Christ made no reference to speaking symbolically in this passage at all, and in his ministry he was always careful to distinguish between an analogy or symbolism and what was real. When he said, in this passage, "the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world," and "except you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you," he meant business. Many of his Jewish hearers understood that he meant business, which is why that the passage tells us that after he said these things, many of his followers "walked no more with him." Like the Protestant reformers of a later era, the notion that Jesus asked these people to eat of his flesh and drink his blood was just too much for these now-former followers.

Where Evangelicals interpret this passage and the passages of the Last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist symbolically, Catholics interpret them literally. Hence, when an Evangelical/Protestant receives Communion, he or she believes that it is merely a symbol for Christ, an act of remembrance alone. Christ tells us it is an act of remembrance, alright, but says "this IS my body," not "this REPRESENTS my body." Catholics believe that Our Lord gave the Eucharist to the Church at the last supper, and that He Himself is really, truly, and substantially present in the Eucharist. Though the Eucharist, once consecrated, has the outward appearance of bread and wine, that is merely the form which the Lord has taken in order to make himself present to us in a holy and living sacrifice. Once the Eucharist is consecrated, it is no longer bread and wine, but it IS Our Lord...Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. That is why good Catholics rarely talk in church, not because they are unsociable or snobby, but because it is disrespectful and rude at the least to have a social hour when sitting in the very Presence of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, and obnoxious and blasphemous at most. At the least he his a King, and at most he is Divine.

This is probably the first and most major difference between Catholics and Evangelicals , and perhaps explaining it will (at least) help Evangelicals understand Catholics' churchtime habits, which I am sure seem peculiar to them.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Michael Rose blows the whistle again

Michael S. Rose, just as he blew the whistle on the seminary crisis in Goodbye, Good Men, now blows the whistle on the possibility of diocesan leadership promoting sodomy, particularly behind the backs of the faithful in what is arguably the most Catholic neighborhood in America, where I have made my home the last two years.

The President v. Colonel John Boyd

The President made a good speech last night, but I still question whether he said or did enough to sway public opinion per the Iraq War. Before the war began, some of you will remember that I cautioned (when people asked-it was before I began this blog) that Iraq had the potential to bog our forces down, not because I thought they could not overcome the insurgency that we all knew was bound to happen, but because our military was not holding to what has popularly become known as "The Powell Doctrine." "The Powell Doctrine" is really "The Boyd Doctrine," because General Powell really got most of his ideas from the late Air Force Colonel John Boyd. Boyd's brilliant military strategy is what helped us win the first Gulf War so quickly. Boyd's principles are simple:

1. Overwhelming numerical force: We had over 400,000 troops in the first Gulf War. We've cut our military to the bone and now we have just over 200,000 in Iraq. We're also fighting on a second front in Afghanistan. While the Navy, Marines, and Air Force are at or above their recruiting goals, the Army, which is the backbone of the war effort, is way below effective manpower for a two-front war. In addition, Guardsmen and Guardswomen are not re-enlisting when their tours are over, and the Guard, which in addition to being vital to the national war machine, is the great engine of home defense, is nearing a recruiting emergency.

2. Think like the enemy: Our enemies are terrorists. They do not fight according to the regular established "rules" of warfare. They use antiquated ways of fighting, and some of our forces still aren't used to these ways. We not only need to think like the enemy, we need to fight like him, too.

3. Give our forces the best of everything: The latest weaponry, the best uniforms and equipment, the finest in technology. Not only is this good for morale, but our forces knowing that they'll always have the best means that more people will likely enlist, because the military can teach them more than any classroom could.

What we have done is the opposite of Boydian thought. We did not send in forces in overwhelming numbers, despite the recommendations of sounder military minds to the contrary, when the war began. The President is right that sending those forces now may send the wrong message. They needed to be sent when this invasion started to begin with. Because we failed to do so, we are now in an uncertain overall military situation.

We have not yet learned that we must fight in the same way our enemies do. Some of our present military geniuses seem to think that holding enemy combatants at Gitmo without giving them proper POW status is fighting like the enemy. This is, quite frankly, a load of bull. We need to do what the enemy does...we must go after him and those who may harbor him without discrimination. That is the only way to win with certainty.

While our forces are overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, they have to worry about things like whether they'll be transferred to another base, or whether they might not get the veterans' benefits that they have earned for their service to our country. We are closing bases and cutting military spending while our nation is fighting what amounts to a world-wide war. This is really intelligent.

These principles are far from the effective military strategies promoted by the late great Col. Boyd. It is obvious that Boyd's formula why doesn't DoD use it?

SOURCE for bookjacket cover photo: School of Industrial and Systems Engineering-Georgia Institute of Technology

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Graham on Protestants and Catholics

My dear friend Adam Graham has an interesting two-part audio post on the ecumenical relationship between Catholics and Protestants. You can listen to his thoughts from a Protestant perspective here and here.

Supreme Court v. America

For years, I have wondered whether the Supreme Court of the United States were still worthy of the monicker "the highest court in the land," or whether that monicker should be changed to "repository of national legal stupidity." In the wake of yesterday's twin rulings on the issue of the Ten Commandments being displayed in public grounds, the Court has confirmed what millions of Americans already knew: The Court's historically recent doctrine of a complete separation of religion from public life is so convoluted that it cannot be defined. The U.S. is such a historically Christian society that references to the Almighty simply cannot be completely removed from the public square.

In Van Orden v. Perry the Court ruled that the display of the Ten Commandments at the Texas Capitol is okay, because it served to honor the legal tradition of the nation and the State of Texas and served no overtly religious purpose. One thing I agree with the ACLU about is that the notion that the Ten Commandments can serve any other purpose but a religious one is patently ridiculous. Our agreement on this issue, however, ends there.

The Court contradicted itself, however, in McCreary County v. ACLU, a Kentucky case where McCreary County (and one other county of the Commonwealth) was sued directly by the jihadists at the ACLU because of their Commandments display. In this case, the Court attempted to utilize the Lemon test of a "compelling secular legislative purpose." The Court proceeded to rule that McCreary County et. al. did not have a secular legislative purpose, and therefore did not pass what five of our robed gods deemed to be constitutional muster.

Since the decision in both cases was 5-4, what the Court has really signaled to both the legal world and the nation is this: "We screwed up on this whole separation of church and state thing. We have now created a huge legal hole in a largely Christian society that we know can't be filled by ordinary law as it is now written, since that law is based on a tradition we or our predecessors have deemed unconstitutional. We can't decide what is right, therefore, we will never be able to decide. We have screwed ourselves into a hole." The Court has opened the door for a long and protracted battle in the culture war to be played out in the federal courts, beginning with the Ten Commandments, and extending to public prayer, abortion, and a whole host of issues. In making two seemingly contradictory statements about the same issue on the very same day, the Court has told the nation it cannot decide the question. That means the battle will continue to play out in the federal court system, possibly for decades to come.

If there is one reason why I am glad I voted for George W. Bush, this is it. I know that he, and by extension, conservatives in general, will at least have some say in who the next Supreme Court Chief Justice is. I think we can count on it being a person of real integrity, someone who will turn the Court around.

As for how counties all over America should react to yesterday's ruling: Leave your Ten Commandments displays up! Frankly, the American people, each in their separate sovereign states, should have the final say over the display of the Ten Commandments on public property. Whatever the Supreme Court may say, it is none of their business, nor is it the business of anyone in Washington, whether McCreary County, Kentucky, or the State of Texas, or Adams County, Ohio, or anyone else has or does not have the Ten Commandments in a public place in their counties and towns. The Supreme Court had best learn to keep its grubby hands off of our sovereign local affairs, they are none of the justices' business.

Hell is where the Supreme Court of the United States is aiming for. Local communities ought to simply tell them to go there.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Today's post

For those of you wondering, today's audio post sounds a bit out of sorts because I was making a beeline down Montana Avenue in my chair while posting it. I'll have something of substance, hopefully written, to post tomorrow about today's insane decision from the United States Supreme Court.

Found a place

this is an audio post - click to play

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