Robert Spencer’s Observations on Islam Are Mind Opening - Robert Spencer has caused quite a stir with his writings on Islam. Just the title of his most recent book, The Truth about Mohammad: The Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion, gives insight into the truths Mr. Spencer has illuminated.
Spencer points out many alarming facts, but probably the most important is his insistence that when Muslims are in the majority in an area they are required by the Koran to subjugate the other people of the Book (e.g. Christian and Jews) into second class status. This combined with the Muslim tendency to have large families assures that they will become majorities wherever they are currently significant minorities. This means that countries such as France, Germany, England, Spain, Holland, Italy, etc. will become Muslim countries in the next one hundred to two hundred years. These European countries, for various reasons, have allowed large influxes of Muslims, and in order to keep a steady flow of oil from the Muslim countries in the Mideast have formally forsworn, by written understanding, any forced (or even ”incentives based” induced) conversion of Muslims to Christianity.
This situation is intolerable. For Christianity to lose the countries which were/are its melting pot - where for 2000 years Christianity has grown and flowered, and from which Christianity spread around the globe - is beyond comprehension. To contemplate the raising of the Cathedral of Chartres so that a mosque might be constructed on that piece of high ground sends shivers through the body of any sensitive Christian.
The question then occurs - What does the western world have to offer to the countries of the Mideast to gain relief from this earlier written promise not to induce (or force) the conversion of European Muslems to Christianity? There is only one thing important enough to gain such a concession. That concession is, of course, Israel. If the European countries offered to take the Jews of Israel in exchange for the right to transfer all European Muslims who refused to convert to Christianity to the Mideast, the oil rich countries of the Levant would probably take the deal. The Christians of the United States would have to support the program and agree to use their political clout to cut off American aid to Israel to force acceptance of the deal in Tel Aviv.
The secondary benefits of this plan would be: (1) a reduction in Mideast tension, (2) the elimination of AIPAC’s reason for existence together with the political distortions its activities cause in the US, and (3) the infusion of some “enlightenment” values into the Mideast through the relocation of millions of European Muslims.
Of course, all this would serve no long run purpose if most European women continue their refusal to bear children. ...................... (prepared by Hugh Murray on 1/8/2007)
U.S. History Professors must Broaden their View of Lincoln - Lincoln was President during America’s most trying time. Thirteen states were attempting to leave and a President who had receive 39% of the nation’s popular vote decided to keep them in the Union. The list of lawyer Lincoln’s transgressions against moral law, common law, and constitutional law are numerous. To list just half a dozen:
- - he operated as though “ends justify means” with the “ends” being preservation of the Union and the “means” being the killing of hundreds of thousands of people - both soldiers and civilians - among other things.
- - he operated as though the principle of “subsidiarity” (that is the moral principle that gives political preference to families and localities over a distant, central government) had not been accepted by the great Christian moral thinkers as being universally applicable.
- - he operated as though qualifiers placed in state ratification documents of the US Constitution were suddenly no longer applicable; for instance, Virginia had specifically reserved the right to leave the U.S. at the time it ratified the Constitution.
- - he operated as though the existence of war gave him the right to suspend Constitutional rights such as: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and habeas corpus.
- - he unilaterally freed slaves who were “under common law contracts” the property of other persons without making any provision for the compensation of the former slave owners or making arrangement for the adequate training of the slaves who were being freed, even though he knew from Britain’s experience in the 1830's that such provisions were necessary for a successful emancipation.
- - he interviewed generals to command the Army of the Potomac insisting that the selected general agree to attack the south with no regard for casualties on either side and with no goal other than the unconditional surrender of the South even though such “total war doctrine” had been condemned by moral theologians for at least half a millennium before the Civil War.
Obviously there are arguments that can be made (and are made) that favor Lincoln’s actions. But shouldn’t America’s history scholars point up both failings and successes? Should a President who has violated important moral and legal principles on a grand scale be held up to our youth as an unqualified paragon of greatness and virtue? Shouldn’t he be presented as a person of great strengths whose transgressions of good conduct were monumental?
It is important that America’s teachers give a balanced view of Lincoln so their students, some of whom will become leaders, do not feel they can violate fundamental moral principles just because they are seeking some “greater good”.
America’s teachers should use Lincoln as a example of a man under pressure who made terrible mistakes; mistakes that the country is still trying to recover from. Race relations are still more strained today than they are in other former slave holding countries, such as Jamacia, mainly because the emancipation of the slaves in America was handled so badly. All Presidents since Lincoln have not hesitated to throw this country’s military weight around if the urge struck them, and local control of important decision making has been lost (consider: No Child left Behind, Abortion Policy, Pornography Control, etc.).
It is true that this balanced attitude toward Lincoln might lead to a negative reaction from the history teachers’ employers. High schools and colleges have taught Lincoln history in such an unbalance, laudatory way for so long that they have created a nation wide “Lincoln Cult”; it will be difficult to bring balance to this subject. ..........(prepared by Hugh Murray on 1/15/2006)
Sec’y Paulson’s Thoughts on Free Trade are Appalling - On 3/1/07, Henry Paulson appeared before the Economics Club of Washington to recount the benefits of free trade and to encourage those present to go forth and slay the protectionist dragons.
He noted that there has been a lot of job dislocation since 1970, but he countered this admission by saying most of the job dislocation of the last thirty years has been caused by the introduction of new technology and only to a lesser degree by the movement of jobs to other countries. He noted that there has been wage stagnation among the lower 2/3 of the American work force, but he countered this admission by say that low priced imports have cushioned the impact of these wage problems by providing a vast array of cheap imports for wage starved Americans. He noted that people with 12 or 14 or even 16 years of educations have been struggling to retain steady employment, but he countered this admission by saying that highly educated Americans, providers of sophisticated services (ie international lawyers, investment bankers, computer network design specialists, consultants, etc.) have seen rapid increases in demand for their services. He noted that NAFTA has caused some dislocation in America, but added that income data shows that average Mexicans are advancing rapidly.
Extra thought needs to be applied to each of Paulson’s observations:
1) The introduction of new technology is truly a driver of work place change and employee layoffs. New technology oftentimes requires higher educational and intellectual capability for the remaining employees. Technology is introduced quickly or slowly depending upon the price differential faced by each producer. If a high cost producer faces a 10% differential between its price and the price of the lowest cost producer, corrective action is called for but not drastic corrective action. Some new technology might be introduced but a producer might deal with a 10% differential by using creative marketing methods, allowing normal attrition to reduce employee headcounts, forgoing certain management bonuses, etc. If the price differential is 50%, the high cost producer has no choice but to take drastic action such as a total technology overhaul, a relocation of the plant to a low wage country, or a complete shutdown. If new technology is chosen vast change must be introduced, assuming cheap capital can be found to pay for its acquisition and for the acquisition of the talented, well educated folks needed to operate and maintain the new equipment. Otherwise, the high cost producer must close its high cost facility. In either case the less talented, the less well trained employees are headed out the door. It should be noted that 10% cost differentials are typically found between/among domestic producers while 50% cost differentials are more typical when producers from low labor cost, lightly regulated countries compete with high labor cost, heavily regulated producers. The statistics might show that the introduction of technology is a larger cause of job dislocation than closed factories due to low priced imports, but oftentimes the low cost imports were the key factor causing the American producer to make massive and rapid investments in new technology and engage in massive and rapid layoffs of less skilled workers as a way to stay in business.
2) When Paulson makes the argument that low priced imports makes up for the fact that middle class folks can’t get wage increases, it is sad because it treats Americans as though they were nothing but economic widgets. What about the psychological benefit of a good raise or promotion at work. A good raise or big bonus indicates to a worker that his employer is doing well, this in turn creates a sense of job security, a sense well being. These feelings are important if society wants young couples to get married; such feelings are important if society wants married couples to start a family or have extra children. It is not the same thing to be able to stretch your same old paltry paycheck a little further by going to the nearest Wal Mart.
3) Paulson might point out that certain service areas are experiencing rapid growth. He might argue that those who lose manufacturing jobs, or have trouble getting raises in their current jobs, should seek employment in these specialized service areas. So the factory worker who can’t get a raise takes a job in an international law firm and discovers no real promotions are possible without a lot of additional schooling followed by successfully passing a very difficult multi-day bar exam; while a factory offers a steady progression of more challenging, better paying jobs through "on the job training" (e.g. lead man, assistant foreman, expediter, foreman , etc.). The credentialing hurdles to advancement like those found at the international law firm are also found in areas such as consulting, computer networking design, investment banking, etc.
4) Finally, the remark about the people of Mexico doing better is totally disingenuous. Any country that has the ability to “encourage” the immediate, easy emigration of it unemployed masses to a first world country a few days walk to the north can easily manipulate its economic statistics. Mexico has “encouraged” literally millions of its displaced unemployed people to head north to the US. When these departed Mexican citizens are removed from the economic calculations such as “average family income”, there is a sudden improvement in nationwide indices of well being.
Sec’y Paulson has an important position and needs to be more forthright and complete when he discusses economic realities.
(Note: Before closing it is important to note that America with its highly diverse population has a very wide array of families, ethnic groups, and racial groups. Some of these are well educated and possessed of high IQ’s. Others tend to have little education and are possessed of significantly lower IQ’s. Obviously the first group is going to continue to get education and do well economically. The second group, which represents from 20% to 40% of all Americans, do not currently possess much education but more importantly they do not possess the IQ to gain first class educations in the future. These people are good people and deserving of work opportunities that offer "on the job training" and advancement as a reward for steady work. Factories that use simple technology are ideal workplaces for these less well educated, low IQ people. But these are exactly the work places which current US policies destroy. Some argue that this strata of society should be provided with dead end jobs and given extra financial support, such as Earned Income Tax Credits, Food Stamps, and Medicaid. Such a life is deadening to the human spirit. Some alternative needs to be developed for these forgotten, deserving Americans.) ........................(prepared by Hugh Murray on 3/5/2007)
The Purpose of Public Education Needs Clear Definition - Bill Gates is constantly complaining about the shortage of highly trained American college grads to satisfy Microsoft’s employment needs. He wants to increase the H-1B visa program so Microsoft can increase its recruiting efforts in India and China to get more qualified employees for jobs in America.
The answer to this shortage of technically qualified workers is to offer intellectually qualified high school students access to fast track technical education followed by full scholarships in technically difficult course such as an engineering program. Such training will produce a large number of highly qualified people that companies like Microsoft can employee profitably.
There are of course a few problems with this program: 1) High schools will object to a program that separates their brightest students from the rest of the student population. Today’s educators are convinced that schools should be used to socialize all students with politically correct thinking so they can interact smoothly with all types of people. This type of socialization is best accomplished by moving the class along at a pace that allows lots of student interaction and does not discomfort the slowest students; after all every student needs to have a “positive self image”. Bright students will never achieve their full potential if their progress is checked by their less well endowed fellows. That is why separation in high schools is essential. 2) Full scholarships to engineering college will be very expense. And these scholarships will have to be given to all students regardless of financial need. (Note: Bright students oftentimes are the children of bright parents, and bright parents will tend to have higher than average incomes. Normally such parents are not entitled to scholarships for their children, but this program will require that an exception be made if Mr. Gates goal is to be attained.). 3) Finally, these bright, well-trained people have to be encouraged to remain in technically challenging positions either in industry or in graduate school. Perhaps the people who have been the beneficiaries of a free engineering education should be required to pay back the cost of their college educations if they leave a technically challenging position for a non-technically challenging position.
Americans have a tendency to go for “quick gold” with little regard for the greater, long term needs of society; bright educated people tend to go for lots of “quick gold”. Graduate programs such as law or business are particularly tempting. Public policy needs to discourage these paths which might tempt these bright, educated, technically qualified people away from the difficult useful work only they can do. .............(prepared by Hugh Murray on 3/10/2007)
Israel May Suffer because America’s Neo-Cons Misled Bush into the Iraq War - The American people are patient and slow to anger, but once aroused they are difficult to assuage. The Iraq war is the current case in point. The fact is over a million American soldiers have been routed though this “mess” and upwards of one third of these are coming home with mental or physical injuries. These injured soldiers come from every village, town, and city. Their presence will serve as an on going reminder to the people that something was severely amiss in the planning and justification for this fiasco.
Over time the American people will come to understand that it was a largely Jewish group of “intellectuals” in Washington, the Neo-Cons, that got the ear of a “naive” President. They convinced him to commit the Army to Iraq. This knowledge will be augmented by knowledge of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) which supported the Iraq project and which has had tremendous influence in Congress for years. In Nov 2006, the people voted for a pull back from Iraq. But they can’t get their way because AIPAC uses its influence with certain Congressmen to get them to turn their backs on the American people.
The Nov 2008 elections are coming and if no progress is made on disengagement, the voter anger will be extreme and punishment will be meted out. AIPAC and its principal client, Israel, will be seen as the villains of the tragedy. This voter anger toward the Neo-Cons, AIPAC, and Israel could lead to a de-funding of Israel by American taxpayers. There could also be a backlash against Israeli investments, tourism, and particularly its policy toward the Palestinians.
The forgoing is written with the assumption that Bush’s surge goes forward but that the planned American invasion of Iran does not occur. If Bush (and Cheney) are foolish enough to respond positively to Israel’s request that Iran be attacked, there is no telling how strongly the American voters will react. Almost certainly petitions will appear in every county demanding all sorts of impeachments, constitutional amendments, etc. In addition, candidates for Congress will be required to sign pledges to de-fund the Iran/Iraq War or face certain defeat at the polls.
This is not an issue that can be swept under the rug, (the way the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty was forgotten). For the most part, the young men who were injured in Iraq were not buried, the medical care was too good. These soldiers are coming home with their wounds, their artificial limbs, and their mental illness. They will serve as constant reminders that something is terribly wrong in Washington and that the wrongdoers must somehow be held accountable.
................ (prepared by Hugh Murray on 3/12/2007)
A Review of the Chapter Entitled “Two Friars’ by G. K. Chesterton - To begin a short review of the Catholic Church’s first 1200 years will set the stage for the arrival of these two Friars. After 300 years of operating in the shadows of the Roman Empire, sometimes persecuted, sometimes tolerated, the Catholic Church emerged in 315 as an official, accepted religion of the Empire. This happened as the Capital of the Roman Empire was moved from Rome to Constantinople leaving the home of the Pope susceptible to periodic invasions by Germanic tribes from the north. (As an aside, it should be noted that a multi century cooling period was beginning at this time. This global cooling was making it imperative for the barbarians to gain a foothold in the warm, productive south.).
About this time St. Augustine came on the scene with his fine mind, his "patient - determined - Christian" mother, and his unique set of life experiences. These included: fathering an illegitimate child, adherence for a time to a heresy, deep exposure to Plato’s philosophy (including his idea of dictatorship by the most qualified), training in debate and rhetoric, rapid promotion from recent convert to bishop of Hippo, being shocked by the devastation of Rome at the hands of invading barbarians, etc. These experiences manifested themselves in his great works - The Confessions and The City of God. Augustine’s work had a powerful influence on the Catholic Church as the Dark Ages descended on Western Europe. The emphasis on the evil of sin caused the Church to down grade the importance of the good in nature and the human body. The emphasis on the hierarchy left most Catholics feeling that only kings, princes, bishops and popes could give meaningful direction to society or discover deeper truths. Superstition, relic worship, transcendentalism, and near universal ignorance characterized the faithful and even the lower clergy for centuries.
The two friars G K Chesterton wrote about were St. Thomas Aquinas, a Dominican, and St Francis of Assisi, the first Franciscan. They were both Italians of comfortable birth and came upon the Catholic scene in the 13th century, about 800 years after St. Augustine.
St. Francis was the older of the two. He was originally a soldier who endured a year of captivity as a prisoner of war. He emerged from this experience ready to look at things anew. He found a Catholic Church that was so other worldly that the plight of the poor was not being addressed and the beauty of God’s nature all around was not properly appreciated. Francis set out to change this, and he created a revolution with young people everywhere flocking to his movement.
St Thomas was born to a royal family and was scheduled to become a monk at Monte Casino with easy transition pre-arranged for him to become abbot. Instead he choose to join the Dominicans an itinerant group devoted to bringing Catholic truth to the confused situation that followed the re-conquest of the Iberian Peninsula from the Moors. The Dominicans, founded at about the same time as the Franciscans, were charged with preaching and teaching a mixed group of heretics, the Albigensians, and former Moors and Jews who had become Catholics but knew little of their new Faith.
With the forgoing in mind consider G K Chesterton’s insights about these men, their effect on the Church of their day, and their on going effect on society.
First - Chesterton remarks on the physic of the two men - one fat and big, the other thin and little. One very laid back slow moving; the other was full of energy, a live wire. One a lover of poetry but distrustful of books; the other a lover of books and scholarship. Thomas once remarked that he thanked God because he understood every page he ever read .
Second - Chesterton remarked that a saint is an antidote for the particular poison of an age. Each generation seeks the saint, not that they want but the one they need. Victorians liked Francis because he confounded their excessive interest in commerce and common sense. Victorians studied the pictures by Giotto and learned Francis’ story. It pierced their fatuousness. However Thomas is the saint to bring stability to the 20th and 21st centuries with its flood of new scientific and quasi-scientific ideas that man can’t put in perspective. People have lost the philosophical tools needed to order things rightly. Understanding can’t come until as Chesterton says “man understands the use of understanding” .
Third - Chesterton said Francis brought a new way to see Christianity to Christians. Thomas brought a new way to see Christianity to the world. They did not compromise with the world or surrender to either heathens or heretics; rather their ideas grew from within the very heart of Christendom and brought forth a new kind of Christian vision. Theirs was what is called an authentic development of doctrine, one that offers an expansion of possibilities for Christians.
Fourth - Chesterton feels these saints saved us from excessive spirituality. They brought God back to earth, Thomas by his affirmation that truth must be acknowledged regardless of which human, pagan or Christian, high born or low born, has reasoned to that truth. Francis did the same by promoting through his example: writing poetry, providing hands-on-care for the poor, and showing his love of all things created by God - people, animals, plants, the earth, the sun, the moon, etc.
Fifth - Thomas pointed out the authority of the senses and affirmed the right of any person to appeal to reason. This great saint felt that human reason may not be as high as the angels, but it was definitely higher than the animals.
Sixth - Both these saints loved the earth and animals; both felt comfortable being compared to animals - Francis liked to compare himself to a donkey because a donkey had carried Christ; Thomas was comfortable being called “a dumb ox” by his classmates at school.
Seventh - Though later thinkers claim the title of reformer; it is really Thomas who was the original and greatest reformer. He was able to take the deepest of pagan thought and reconcile it to Christianity. He looked both backward and forward. He prepared the framework to allow the thought of coming centuries to be integrated under the umbrella of Christianity.
Eighth - Francis took the passages about the poor from the Bible and made them concrete in the Umbrian Hills around Assisi, he saw God’s creative work in nature. Thomas recognized that the great gift of reason, which accompanied God’s gift of man’s free will. Reason is needed and must be used for man to properly order his life and possibly find new truth. These two saints reminded Christians of the importance of the earth, the animals, man’s reason, the human body, and the truths all about us. They reaffirmed the message of the Incarnation, the inescapable fact that God had become man and participated in things human. Human things were/are important to God so they must be important to each human as well.
Ninth - Their teachings appears similar to modernism, but they are contrary to that, because they incorporate belief in the resurrection of the human body and union with God in heaven These two doctrines are at odds with modernism.
Tenth - Thomas favors variety over unity. Each created thing should be given as much autonomy as possible. Each created thing has a uniqueness. Man should have a sense of when certain behavior is appropriate or inappropriate. “A married woman is always a daughter in her parents home, but is mistress in her own home”. He believe that proper behavior can be arrived at though reason but that few men have the time, or educated instructors, to master the reasoning processes necessary; so Divine revelation is important for most men.
Eleventh - Gothic architecture was a new form. It was a development of the 13th century. The thought of Thomas and Francis was also new. The 13th century showed the way to the future. The Renaissance which came later was more of a relapse - its architecture recalled Greek and Roman tombs and temples; its thought led to the destruction of Catholic Europe, to the Protestant Reformation, to civil war within Christendom.
Twelfth - Once when St. Dominic was with the Pope; the Pope said “Peter can no longer say ‘silver and gold I have none’” Dominic answered “No and neither can he now say ‘Arise and walk’”. Besides being the founder of the Friars Major, St. Dominic introduced the rosary to aid the spiritual life of Catholics.
Thirteenth - Francis and Thomas created a revolution in Europe quite as popular, and unpopular, as the French revolution of 500 years later. Some moderns would say these friars did not go far enough, and yet many of their contemporaries thought they went way too far.
G. K. Chesterton’s separate biographies of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Francis of Assisi were recently republished by Ignatius Press in a single paperback volume (ISBN 0-89870-945-8). This small book would be a fine addition to any library. ............(prepared by Hugh Murray on 3/22/07)
Review of Catholic Catechism (para 2232 - 2246) on the Family, Civil Society, and the Church - These paragraphs follows logically the guidance provided by the natural law or a well-informed conscience regarding these relationships:
.... 1) The ties of family are important but are not all important. Members of a family must put God ahead of family and each individual in the family must put the call to a vocation (or a spouse) ahead of loyalty to family.
.... 2) Public authorities are entitled to the respect and support of the citizens so long as they treat people justly, as long as fundamental rights are respected , as long as the common good is promoted, so long as no favoritism toward personal friends or interests is pursued, and so long as the needs of the human community, particularly families, are respected.
.... 3) Citizens should regard public authorities as representatives of God. Citizens should pay taxes, obey the laws, serve in the military, and pray for their leaders.
.... 4) Rich nations are obligated to aid poorer countries and to allow reasonable amounts of immigration so others might also enjoy the rich country’s prosperity.
.... 5) Citizen are not obligated to do immoral things even when political authorities order such behavior. Going further, open resistence to authority is only allowed if five conditions are present: the violations are sever and likely to be prolonged, other means of redress have proven ineffective, a worse condition is unlikely to develop if resistence is engaged in, there is well founded hope of success, and a less extreme solution can’t be imagined.
.... 6) The Church is not part of the political realm, but she is present in the world to assure, among other things, that political leaders a) keep in mind that the ultimate destiny of man is to be with God, and b) establish political programs, processes and structures that facilitate (not impede) man’s movement toward God.
Of course, the foregoing is full of high sounding principles but are there examples in today’s world where these principles are being violated or, on the other hand, being implemented. Consider one of each:
The current president has created the Office of Faith Based Initiatives in the White House which attempts to find ways that organizations like Catholic Chanties can benefit from Federal money without many of the secular strings that Catholics find so offensive. Some of these strings are: no government money if the charity doesn’t hire open homosexuals, no government money if the charity doesn’t place children who are up for adoption with same sex couples, no government money if the charity doesn’t provide abortion information along with adoption information to unwed expectant mothers, etc. These problems have not been worked out, but this White House needs to be given credit for trying.
The current president has been dragging his feet on the control of illegal immigration. The American people have always been open to immigrants, but they want order in the process. The current system has no order. People just flood across the borders and crowd into certain big cities where social services can’t cope with the law enforcement, education, and health care overload. But perhaps what is worse is the negative effects this process is having on the legal immigrants who wait their turn. They suffer the stigma that should be reserved for the illegals. They are deprived of the social services because the illegals have consumed a disproportionate share of available social services. Here the White House needs to be taken to task for failing to bring order to this mess. .............(prepared by Hugh Murray on 3/27/07 )
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