Saturday, March 31, 2012

Blessed Holy Week

A blessed Holy Week to Extra Thoughts readers.
Assist us mercifully with thy help, O Lord God of our salvation; that we may enter with joy upon the meditation of those mighty acts, whereby thou hast given unto us life and immortality; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

In which I stick my nose into someone else's business

I am a Protestant, as I have repeatedly said. So in a sense I haven't got much of a right to get involved in the present kerfuffle concerning Fr. Guarnizo's set-up by a lesbian. Tony Esolen's comment here (first comment in the thread) is excellent.

However, as this post shows, I do have an interest in the Sacrament. Besides, since Dr. Peters (see below) has made this a matter of canon law, I should think that an interested outside observer should be able to look at the arguments for himself.

I want to add that the Catholic leaders of Washington, D.C. should consider that their handling of this is a scandal, in the technical sense, to traditionally minded non-Catholics. To be clear, I have many reasons (which I don't intend to go into) for not accepting the claims of the Roman Catholic Church. But this bad treatment of a faithful priest trying to protect the sacrament from profanation by an open and proud lesbian is yet an additional reason. The hierarchy here, so far from preserving truth (which is truth on their own terms) is placing itself on the side of those who wish to destroy the Church and on the side of a woman who set out to persecute a real Catholic priest.

Now, you can read here Dr. Peters's learned disagreement with Fr. Guarnizo's refusal to give Holy Communion to Johnson. The nub of it appears to be that Peters believes that, despite the fact that Johnson lives openly with another woman as a lesbian and bragged about this fact on purpose to the priest ahead of time, Fr. Guarnizo could not really have known that her sin was "obstinate, manifest, and persevering."

Ironically (at least ironically in my opinion) Dr. Peters apparently thinks a priest could be justified in withholding Holy Communion from a person who was in "gravely immodest dress," because that would mean that the person was "objectively indisposed" to receive the Sacrament, but not from Johnson, who was running an obvious sodomite set-up of Fr. G. and bragged about her lifestyle.

That's pretty striking. In this day and age, when gravely immodest dress is so common, a devout Catholic young woman who had received poor guidance concerning her clothing (and I gather there are a lot of these out there) might approach the rail in, comparatively speaking, all innocence to receive the Sacrament, and Dr. Peters's argument would support denying it to her, while Peters supports the punishment of Fr. G. for refusing it to a hardened sexual sinner who boasted ahead of time of her sinful lifestyle and clearly indicated her intent to continue therein!

Without belaboring the point too much, let me just say that if a person who is living in open sexual sin approaches a priest ahead of time and introduces deliberately in conversation the fact that he is living with a mistress (whom he has brought with him), with a male lover, or a woman with a lesbian lover, this seems pretty obviously to count as showing the sin to be obstinate, manifest, and persevering. It should not be necessary for the priest to have known the person for a long time for such an open declaration to be sufficient evidence on this point. This seems only logical.

Finally, here is a thought experiment that I posted at a different blog. I think it says it all. If Dr. Peters or those who agree with him want to maintain his argument, they're going to have to show some relevant differences here, and I think they're going to have a hard time doing that. Or else they could just bite the bullet and say that this priest, too, would be "breaking canon law." Which, to put it mildly, should call either the present state of canon law or their interpretation thereof into question.
Imagine that the U.S. slides further into debauchery and that pedophilia is legalized. Now imagine that a man shows up at his mother’s funeral mass with a 7-year-old boy in tow, whom he introduces with a proud smirk to some target Fr. G., before the service, as, “My boy lover (isn’t he beautiful?).”

Based on this learned analysis of canon law that we are hearing about, is this hypothetical Fr. G. breaking canon law if he refuses to give the Sacrament to this man when he approaches the rail?
Can we be done now?

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

The left has entered a new level of insanity

Lawrence Auster has had some good posts recently on the contraception mandate. Like any sensible person, Auster is in something like shock at the audacity of the left in presenting these insane ideas, and still more, at the level of acceptance they are receiving:

I cannot get into my head that people are demanding, as a right, as an unquestionable right, that they should be provided with contraceptives totally free.... No one heard of such an idea a couple of months ago. And now it's already a pillar of America which no one may safely challenge.

He also makes this point:

This is liberalism taking off into hyperspeed. And if Obamacare is not repealed, we are going to be dealing every day for the rest of our lives with this faster-than-light liberalism.

I've noticed this as well since Obama became President. The left makes new demands at breathtaking speed. The Internet then puts out talking points for defending them as essential, and all the little leftist commentators go about repeating them everywhere until people simply believe that whatever is now being touted is now normal, a right, etc. We've seen a bit of this in the relatively quick speed with which homosexual "marriage" has moved from being a fringe idea to being the only alternative to evil bigotry. But the free contraception mandate sets a speed record.

My own opinion is that the abandonment of democracy and constitutional government is connected to this new speed with which insane liberal ideas become accepted by the public. Someone might argue that it is otherwise, that this shows the pitfalls of democracy, because people are too easily manipulated. But my instinct is that it is otherwise. I believe this contraception mandate would have moved much more slowly if it had instead been proposed as something to be passed individually by Congress. There would then at least have been a debate, with people saying, "What? This is silly," and so forth. As it is, because Sebelius was given dictatorial powers by Obamacare, the left stole a march on us by promulgating the rule as a done deal, as something they already have power to dictate. The debate then automatically takes place in reactionary fashion. Indeed, I've seen commentator after commentator piously declare, "This is now the law." Sebelius and Obama make this thing up out of their heads one fine day, announce it in a press conference, and that makes it "the law," and that is used as a pompous argument for its legitimacy. So real American constitutional representative democracy would have some power in slowing this process down, if it were operating properly. Which it is not.

Auster also makes the point that the left is losing its humanitarian halo in all of this. There are all sorts of people with serious illnesses and very high co-pays, or people who need drugs not on their HMO's formularies and who are in really dire straits as a result. And what does the left decide to declare to be "free" and an entitlement? Birth control pills! So much for their caring about sick people. Auster relates this to feminism:

The situation described by Mr. Zarkov exemplifies how, as Gintas and I wrote in another entry, liberals have launched themselves into some speeded-up liberal dimension of complete irrationality. As we all remember, nationalized health insurance was supposedly absolutely necessary because, as the Democrats kept saying over and over and over, there are so many people in America with terrible medical conditions for which they cannot afford the care. Nationalized health insurance was demanded on the basis that there are seriously suffering people who lack affordable health care and must have it. As flawed as that argument was, it at least made a rational-sounding appeal related to some supposed actual human need.

But now, with this contraceptive business, the Democrats have thrown away their own supposedly irresistibly compelling rationale for nationalized health insurance. Now they want to give free birth control to every woman in America who wants it,--free birth control from puberty to menopause--while people with serious, debilitating conditions must continue paying very large amounts for their care.

Why? What explains this?

What explains it is that the Democrats' sob stories about sick people in need were never their true or highest motivation. Their highest motivation is their ideology of sexual liberation and particularly of female empowerment, all aimed at destroying whatever remains of the traditional family and traditional sex relations.
I certainly agree that there is a connection to feminism. In fact, I've pointed out again and again that the state laws that are somewhat like the present federal law (though, contra the leftists, providing more loopholes for religious organizations) were passed on a wave of feminist ideology. This is for women. If you don't do this you are anti-woman. (A friend asked recently why the left is casting this as a women's issue rather than an issue affecting couples who are allegedly unable to afford contraception. The obvious answer is that neither the left nor the mushy middle gets really teary-eyed over couples. "It's for women" is a battle cry that rouses the public and makes the PC-whipped scurry to obey, so that's what they are using.)

But of course the other aspect, which Auster mentions, of "sexual liberation" is also powerful. There is a kind of frenzy here. Why push free contraception rather than free migraine medication? The only answer I can find is that contraception is not being treated as just another product by the left. If people were treating contraception as just another product, one can imagine their meeting with bemusement the idea that it should be free. Indeed, one can even imagine people who actually purchase contraception being baffled by this new entitlement. "Um, I also purchase many other products. Why is free access to this an entitlement?" I discussed here the selective Marxism of the left, the idea that things are to be "made free" on an ad hoc basis to the extent that they are considered "really important." It can only be that contraception is being treated not simply as important, but as uber-important, as somehow holy--to be worshiped rather than simply used in a matter-of-fact fashion like any other product on the market. And if it is to be worshiped, then evidently everyone has to participate in making it available "for free" to its users.

Now this is utterly crazy. This is sexual liberationist hysteria cojoined with economic stupidity. It is unclear what, if anything, will stop it. See above on the speed with which people start parroting talking points. I would say that perhaps it might be wise to send people suffering from other very serious health maladies to testify before Congress and to point out the bizarre double standard. "Why should contraception be free when my medication for rheumatoid arthritis costs me so much?" If you get enough of such testimonies concerning enough different illnesses, perhaps the sheer arbitrariness and sex-related frenzy of all of this will become more evident. And since hopefully even people without much economic sense can see that you can't make all of these things "free," the drive to make just contraception "free" might lose its oomph. It would be worth a try.

Ultimately, the best thing we can do is to appeal to people's common sense. This mandate is so bizarre that, if there is any common sense left in people, they ought to be able to see that it is insane tyranny, regardless of their position on contraception itself. Then perhaps Congress would wake up and take back some of those super-powers, the power to make laws with a snap of a finger, that they have delegated to The Secretary.

Sunday, March 04, 2012


Here is a passage from the Brothers of Gwynedd quartet, by Ellis Peters (Edith Pargeter):

In the quiet courts of the Cistercian house of Dore, golden indeed that June, under a sky like periwinkle flowers, those two met and joined hands at last.

I watched them come together, I knew the desire that drew them, and the weight of wonder and thought that made their steps so slow and their eyes so wide as they crossed the few paces of earth that parted them. From the moment they set eyes upon each other they looked neither to left nor right, each taking in the other like breath and food and wine. And it seemed to me, when their hands linked and grew together, that there was in them, for all their differences, for they did not look alike at all, some innermost thing that set up a mirror between them, and showed each his own face...

"My lord of Leicester," [Llewellyn] said, and stopped to touch with his lips the hand he still held, as fittingly and royally he could, with the awareness of destiny upon him, "I rejoice that I see you at last, and I thank you for this kindness. I have long desired your acquaintance, and I wish the times better favoured me, for I know I trespass."

"No," said Earl Simon, and looked at him long and hungrily, and saw, I think, as I saw, the heart's likeness that surely was there, for still the mirror shone between them. "No, you refresh me. I have many times had need of you, and need you still. I had believed it was for a cause. I think it was also for my soul's sake. In my desert now there are not many springs."

He had known deserts in his time, for he had been a crusader.

Peters does a particularly good job in these novels of conveying the importance of friendship. Her narrator and protagonist Samson has committed his entire life to the service of his friend Llewellyn, the last native Prince of Wales. Llewellyn is Samson's raison d'etre. While love between the sexes is also important to Peters and portrayed with great vigor and passion, friendship is almost equally important, though sharply different. Samson understands why Simon de Montfort and Llewellyn mean so much to one another. He understands the need not to be alone and the need for friends who are also heroes and for heroes who are also friends.

One of the things one realizes on the Internet is just how lonely people are. It's almost crushing, the weight of loneliness one encounters on the Internet. A great many people are on the Internet in part looking for kindred spirits, for people who refresh our spirits by being admirable, as Llewellyn and de Montfort refresh one another. Friendship, in both the Aristotelian and the Lewisian formula, involves seeing the same truth. As Peters sees, friends who sees the same truth also see one another, and see one another as enormously valuable because of that kinship.

But there is a danger in this as well. One's heroes and one's friends can let one down. The Internet giveth and the Internet taketh away. The same medium that provides heretofore undreamt-of opportunities for finding kindred spirits also provides a nigh infinite number of pitfalls and opportunities for letting one another down.

The world is longing for heroes. Hence the idolization of sports figures. Hence, among Christians, the temptation to hero-worship Christian musicians. ("Here is finally someone I can really look up to, whom my kids can really look up to.") Probably something like this has always been so. The desire for others to admire and lean upon is no doubt an unchangeable part of human nature. But for some reason it seems especially acute here in the second decade of the twenty-first century. It amounts almost to a hunger and thirst--The world is so dreadful. Where are my heroes? Where is my community? Where are those I can admire?

I counsel caution. And I counsel, too, that we constantly remind ourselves that our Internet acquaintances are no more superhuman than our in-person friends. There will be just as many disagreements--more, in fact. Let us not lean too hard.

Let us look always unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. He is the one hero who can never let us down.

Related post here.