Roll out the red carpet to welcome a parade of special guests—Oscar night has arrived! Set a celebratory mood with a crisp black-and-white color scheme that evokes the golden age of cinema, as well as shimmering gilt notes in tribute to those iconic statuettes. A luxurious bouquet of white roses, anemones, and tulips, plus a handful of vintage film reels sprinkled about, lends a dash of drama. The most classic of theater snacks, tops a silken Popcorn Soup that pairs beautifully with peach-and-raspberry-kissed Prosecco Sparklers. (Read more.)Share
Sunday, February 19, 2017
In Roberto Rossellini's film of 1966, The Taking of Power by Louis XIV, there is a scene in which the King appears in an outrageous red outfit, all frills and flounces, designed to his own specifications. He explains that with this clownish costume he is setting a dress code to keep his nobles poor, and divert their attention from politics to fashion.Share
It sounds absurd, but it worked. Louis XIV ruled by theatre, turning the palace of Versailles into an enormous stage set where every aspect of daily life was transformed into ceremony. Etiquette was everything in this hermetic environment, and a social faux pas could spell the end of one's brilliant career. (Read more.)
That said, the election of a populist whose program is based in the kind of hard-headed prudence that guided Catholic statesmen over two millennia has provoked an intense fight within church circles. Those Catholics who have privileged their own statist approach to “social justice” over traditional moral teaching, liturgy, and evangelization, are throwing a public tantrum. Some of them are using the institutional power which they are gaining under Pope Francis to tar the policies Donald Trump is proposing as “un-Christian,” in the hope of rallying millions of Catholic voters against the president.More commentary on the political and religious divisions from The Christian Review. By the way, traditional Catholics have been marginalized for a long time. It is nothing new. To quote:
Last week, in two separate pieces at The Stream, Jason Jones and I dissected the case made by prominent Jesuit Rev. James Martin that Trump’s attempts to enforce U.S. immigration law are contrary to the Gospel. We showed that Trump’s position is actually closer to the official church teaching on immigration than is Fr. Martin’s (or Pope Francis’).
The question of solidarity within the Body of Christ aside, this high-minded sounding statement willfully ignores the fact that Middle Eastern Christians are the deliberate target of religious genocide, and that (unlike Sunni Muslims) they have absolutely no safe place to go in the region — while vast and wealthy Sunni Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia accept zero refugees, preferring to build mosques for refugees (staffed with Wahhabi Islamists) in Germany, France and Sweden.
Deal Hudson at Newsmax reports that one theologian, Prof. Charlie Camosy of (Jesuit) Fordham University in New York, has actually declared Donald Trump’s “America First” policy orientation a heresy, amounting to idolatry of our country over Christ. (Read more.)
In Joseph Heller’s 1961 novel Catch 22, a character complains, “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.” Conservative Catholics have long felt pushed to the sidelines of the Church, but since the election of Donald Trump there has been a considerable uptick in the abuse heaped on Catholics who cling to the legacy of Saint John Paul the Great and Pope Benedict XVI.Share
A prime example of this concerted effort was last week when a column by an Associate Professor at Fordham, Dr. Charlie Camosy, called for the Holy Father to declare “Trumpism” a heresy. This type of hyperbole alienates at least half of self-identified Catholics who actually voted for him.
There is obviously a concerted effort by members of the progressive leaders of the Church to marginalize orthodox, politically conservative Catholics. My concern also stems from the fact that during the general election, we learned from WikiLeaks that John Podesta, the head of the Clinton campaign was conspiring with Democrat operatives to influence the Bishops of the United States and others within the Church to take a more aggressive and disruptive social justice approach.
Sometimes this initiative pays dividends in the hostility towards pro-life, pro-traditional marriage Catholics by liberal clergy and the social justice warriors in the Church. This has always been the case, but in the so-called “Age of Trump,” it’s intensifying at a disturbing rate.
Since the outset of the Trump presidency, main stream media outlets like the New York Times and Washington Post are providing leftist groups the platform to attack Cardinal Burke. His Eminence has become the de facto leader of the the conservative, traditional branch of Catholicism that are growing dissatisfied with Pope Francis while largely supporting the policies of the Trump administration.
Cardinal Burke, one of the four cardinals submitting the dubia to Pope Francis, is now being dragged through the headlines for handling of a leadership scandal within the Knights of Malta. As the appointed patron of the Knights, Cardinal Burke did not approve of a decision that used the Order’s charitable donations to fund condom distribution in Africa. When Burke acted to remove the person responsible, Pope Francis objected.
Cardinal Burke, however, has grown used to controversy: He has been a target of the liberals within the Church since 2004 when he said publicly that he would not give communion to that then Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry. Kerry was a “Catholic” candidate and a highly vocal supporter of abortion rights.
It has been well documented that Pope Francis is not fond of “rigid members of the Church and now is taking more jabs at Trump and his supporters among practicing Catholics. As he said a year ago about Donald Trump, “A person who thinks only about building walls — wherever they may be — and not building bridges, is not Christian.”
Leftist media outlets and activist groups have also become obsessed with Trump advisor Steve Bannon since he traveled to the Vatican and met with Cardinal Burke. Bannon, the chief strategist in the Trump administration, is now portrayed as being in league with conservative Catholics who want to thwart the Holy Father’s initiatives on climate change and immigration. That demonization of Bannon and Burke is making its way into the minds of Catholics who still view the main stream media as having credibility.
Whether or not many Catholics will start seeing Catholic Trump supporters as “Trumpist” heretics remains to be seen. What is clear, however, is that President Trump, his White House staff, and Cabinet secretaries are getting an historically rough ride not only in the secular media but also in much of the Catholic media as well. (Read more.)
Saturday, February 18, 2017
“There is nothing more pathetic and futile than a general who lives long enough to explain a defeat.”Share
“You are not beaten until you admit it.”
“War is the only place where a man lives.”
“Do your duty as you see it, and damn the consequences.”
“Success in war depends on the golden rules of war: speed, simplicity, and boldness.”
“The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.” (Read more.)
Fr Claude’s assignment to Paray-le-Monial proved to be brief. Jesuits everywhere attempt to hold themselves in readiness to respond to new missioning, to be sent to new frontiers even when their current work appears successful; they are meant to be on the move. Claude found himself sent to England, to London where, seventy years after the Gunpowder Plot, there was still hostility to Catholics. Claude was sent to be Chaplain to the Duke and Duchess of York, both Catholics. The Duke was the younger brother and heir-presumptive of the reigning King Charles II; the Duchess, Mary of Modena, was a devout Catholic. As King James II & VIIth, he would become the last Catholic monarch of England, Scotland and Ireland until deposed in the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688. Charles II had granted the couple special permission to maintain a chapel in St. James’s Palace. English Jesuits were still, in those days, in considerable disarray and English Catholic priests would not have been permitted to occupy such a prominent posting. Fr Claude was given a modest apartment in the Palace and moved in on October 13th, 1676.Via Stephanie Mann. Share
Fr Claude found it difficult from the beginning. That first London winter seems to have been severe. Perhaps imprudently, he would not hear of any extra heating in his sparse apartment. He admits to finding London cuisine inedible. Physical hardship was not the worst of his unhappiness. The morals of the Restoration era (broadly 1660 – 1710) were lax and louche, as the contemporary literary evidence shows. Claude was distressed by what he saw but he refused to harangue; instead, he returned again and again, in his preaching, to the Eucharistic love of Christ’s heart. Another biographer notes that “he breathed good will” and that there was “nothing of Savonarola about de la Colombiere”. Fr Claude’s spiritual diary of that time records an increasing devotion to St Francis de Sales; in Claude’s preaching we find a similar emphasis on the tenderness of God’s mercy, and an amazement at the contrast between God’s unlimited love and the boundless ingratitude that people show in return. This would surely have recalled, for Claude, those spiritual conversations and discernments in the Paray-le-Monial days.
Trouble lay ahead. Seventeenth-century London was an ambiguous place and not safe for Catholics, especially Jesuits. An entirely fictitious conspiracy, dreamt up by one Titus Oates, gripped both the English and Scottish kingdoms between 1678 and 1681. Catholics, it alleged, were plotting against the life of Charles II. The Jesuits in England were to carry out the “Popish Plot” (there had been a popular, hysterical assumption that the Great Fire of London in 1666 had been ignited by the Jesuits). Oates claimed to have attended a meeting, in a pub on The Strand, which discussed the Jesuits’ tactics. Caught up in this wave of frenzy, Claude was denounced by someone whom he thought he could trust. Imprisoned in November 1678 in an unheated filthy dungeon, he suffered a rapid deterioration in his health. Claude was charged with traitorous speech against the King and parliament. He was deported back to France and, seriously ill, slowly made his way back to Paray. There, his health broken and after one final meeting with St Margaret Mary, he died, 41 years old, on February 15th 1682. (Read more.)
As a professional counselor, I have seen how the inability, or lack of an opportunity to honor and grieve a very painful or traumatic loss, can impact a man’s emotional and physical health, and his relationships. Events such as childhood divorce, sexual and physical abuse, the neglect/rejection of a parent, and job loss can inflict some very deep wounds on the heart and souls of men.Share
I was surprised to discover early in my counseling work with men, that abortion, like Churchill’s loss of his daughter Marigold, can also be a very complicated and confusing experience of loss for some men. They can carry a heavy burden of regret, shame and guilt that continues to impact their lives and relationships.
This has been confirmed by the largest study on men and abortion by sociologist Arthur Shostak. (Shostak was himself part of an abortion decision and accompanied his partner to the abortion center.) His research revealed that men frequently think about the child that would have been born. Many men revealed guilt, confusion and openly grieved during the interview process. 
The grieving process is unique for each person, and there are differences in how men and women express and process emotions. But it is life giving and essential for men to be open to that experience. Without a safe place and the necessary support to share about such deep wounds, like Churchill, men will avoid looking deeper into that murky pond.
Some men will find significant relief in just being able to share with a counselor or friend, a caring person who understands their loss, or in a men’s prayer group some of their feelings and struggles. (Men who have been part of an abortion decision and procedure can find help here and also here.) (Read more.)
Friday, February 17, 2017
Here are just a few examples of Alinsky’s rules being put into practice in an effort to bring down the Trump administration.
“Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” During the 2016 election, the media tried to stop Trump from winning by focusing on his personal flaws, real and imagined. That failed — so they are targeting the people around Trump.
The most unfortunate victim of this strategy is not former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign this week, but White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway, who is the most accessible member of the president’s media team, and one of the most effective. For making a flippant remark at the end of a Fox & Friends segment, in which she endorsed Ivanka Trump’s fashion line, she is now being singled out for investigation by the Office of Congressional Ethics. (What “investigation” is needed? She was on live television.)
The media are simply throwing whatever they can at the people around Trump, whether it is true or not. For example, bloggers and journalists smeared Deputy Assistant to the President Sebastian Gorka as a Nazi sympathizer, in keeping with the ongoing defamation of White House Chief Strategist Stephen K. Bannon (both formerly of Breitbart News) as a “white nationalist” and worse.
Sometimes the attacks are not only false, but also personally abusive, such as a recent article in Fusion targeting White House speechwriter and policy guru, Stephen Miller: “Why does Stephen Miller sound like such a dick? A voice coach explains.” MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough’s attacks on Miller have become so openly hostile to Miller, and so personal in nature (“my young, little Miller”) that even the Washington Post seemed genuinely taken aback by the Morning Joe host’s criticisms.Share
It is worth noting that the media did not press for the resignation of any of the Obama administration officials associated with much more serious scandals — Benghazi, the IRS scandal and the NSA scandal come to mind — even when officials admitted that they had misled Congress and the public. Now, the media are constantly searching for personalities they can pillory as proxies for the Trump administration as a whole.
“Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” In the weeks after Election Day, Saturday Night Live contented itself with weepy tributes to Hillary Clinton. Now, however, it has returned to comedic form in ridiculing President Trump and his staff. There is nothing wrong with that — and Melissa McCarthy’s impersonation of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is funny — but what is interesting is that mainstream news outlets, such as CNN, often spend the next several days after each new sketch reporting and re-running Saturday Night Live segments as news.
Politico recently piled on with an entirely speculative report that Saturday Night Live could actually force the dismissal of the White House staffers it has been targeting, including Spicer. The obvious goal of such “fake news” stories is turn entertainment into a political weapon against the Trump administration.
“If you push a negative hard and deep enough it will break through into its [positive] counterside.” What Alinsky meant was that tactics that would ordinarily be abhorrent — say, rioting on a university campus, or telling the public that members of the government were “Nazis” — would be tolerated, and even celebrated, once they had been proven successful.
The current Democratic Party strategy is not to reach out to the voters they have lost over the past several years, but rather to make the country appear ungovernable, hoping that voters then turn to the Democrats for relief. In recent protests at Los Angeles International Airport, for instance, Mayor Eric Garcetti not only joined demonstrators in solidarity, but did so at a time when protesters were blocking traffic and disrupting travel. He was perfectly willing to harm his own city for political gain — normally objectionable, except that it worked. (Read more.)
Look, if Trump is ever guilty of real abuses of power, real corruption, real scandal, I will be the first to call for his head, metaphorically. And I don’t think a Trump scandal is mitigated or made less important or more acceptable by the fact that Obama also had scandals. I’m not going to shout “But Obama!” in order to bail Trump out of whatever trouble he may bring upon himself. Leftists spent eight years shouting “But Bush” for Obama’s sake, and I don’t intend to adopt that strategy. But the fact is that Obama did have scandals — real scandals, terrible scandals, scandalous scandals — and, in the interest of truth, we can’t allow the Left to stand right in front of us and rewrite history on the fly. The truth matters.Share
I say it again: The truth matters.
The truth matters. It matters now just as it mattered for the past eight years. So when Dan Rather claims that Trump may already be guilty of the biggest political scandal in his lifetime, and the New York Times insists that Obama had a scandal free White House, and USA Today along with many other outlets echo that absolutely ridiculous assertion, it behooves those of us who value the truth to calmly respond: UM, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT?
I don’t know what the future holds. Perhaps Trump will indeed eventually own the biggest political scandal in modern history, but in order to achieve that feat, he’s got a lot of work to do. He’s not there yet. Not anywhere close.
Despite what our news media says as it awakens from a coma, Flynn’s conversation with a Russian ambassador is not a bigger scandal than Obama targeting his political opponents with the IRS.
It’s not bigger than Obama’s ATF shipping guns to Mexican drug cartels.
It’s not bigger than Obama sending millions to Iran and then lying about it.
It’s not bigger than Obama’s DOJ spying on journalists.
It’s not bigger than the Obama Administration orchestrating a series of violent coups in the Middle East, funneling weapons to terrorist groups, then leaving an ambassador to die in Benghazi, and then lying about it.
It’s not bigger than Obama’s State Department, headed by a woman who conducted government business on an illegal private server, selling our foreign policy to the highest bidder.
And it’s not bigger, in my view, than Obama’s NSA conducting mass surveillance without a warrant, or Obama assassinating American citizens without a trial, or the DOJ conducting ideologically charged witch hunts against police departments across the country while Obama used his bully pulpit to push false narratives in order to foment racial chaos and division.
Trump may well seize upon the precedent set by Obama and repeat some of these same atrocities. If that happens, we’ll finally see what it looks like when the media actually reports on the types of stories listed above. We’ll also be treated to the spectacle of leftists denouncing Trump’s abuses of, say, the IRS or the DOJ, while insisting that his abuses in these areas are so totally different from Obama’s identical abuses because, well, because, you see, because of various reasons and so forth.
But as they continue with these double standards, we should remember the truth. It won’t excuse whatever Trump may do, but it matters nonetheless. The truth matters. Even if it doesn’t matter at all to the media or the Left. (Read more.)