PETE: Dr. Boli, do have any words to describe your relationship with your persona, Chris Bailey?
DR. BOLI: What bicentenarian gentleman would not wish to imagine himself, even if only for a moment, as a young man of less than half a century again? It is true that one would not wish to give up one’s age and experience: youth, as the popular saying goes, is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there. Still, an occasional excursion, even if only in imagination, is refreshing, as long as proper safety protocols are observed.
Father Edward Oakes, S.J., distinguished theologian, gifted writer and teacher, generous ecumenist, and our friend, has died, of pancreatic cancer, at 8:00 this morning. The announcement from the Academy of Catholic Theology, of which Father Oakes was president, reports:
Father Oakes entered the Society of Jesus in 1966, and was ordained a priest in 1979. He received his doctorate in theology from Union Theological Seminary in 1987. He taught at New York University, Regis University, and Mundelein Seminary, where he was deeply loved and valued by his colleagues, students, and indeed everyone on the staff as well.
He was a major contributor to the ecumenical magazine First Things on theological and scientific topics, and a longtime close friend of Father Richard John Neuhaus. For close to two decades he was an influential member of Evangelicals and Catholics Together. He was a founding member of the Academy of Catholic Theology and was elected president of the Academy in May 2013.
A deeply cultured man, Father Oakes enlivened everything of which he was a part by his penetrating intelligence and warm, friendly spirit. He was an esteemed translator of the works of Hans Urs von Balthasar and others. He was the author and editor of important works such as Infinity Dwindled to Infancy: A Catholic and Evangelical Christology, Pattern of Redemption: The Theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar, and The Cambridge Companion to Hans Urs von Balthasar.
To say that Father Oakes will be sorely missed is a profound understatement. Let us pray for his soul as he enters into the infinitely loving communion of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as an adopted son in Jesus Christ!
Many of us here got to know him through Evangelicals and Catholics Together and his occasional visits to the office. Father Ed was a witty and entertaining guest, the kind who enlivens dinner parties, but also a man of weight and insight, the kind who deepens dinner parties—and then enlivens them again. The enlivening and deepening expressed not just his gifts and personality (both of which were large) but his concern for people (which was also large), that is, his character. He will be missed, on many levels.
We commend him to your prayers.
“Why are we compelled to dismiss him simply because the truth regarding the history of Zionism may be uncomfortable?” protests a commenter on reading my Greek Archbishop Speaks, Doesn’t Help. He argues that the criticism of the archbishop’s words—mine and the Greek Orthodox Church in America’s—only expresses a different understanding of history from his.
How do we know that what he [the archbishop] has said isn’t true? Are we to dismiss it as untrue simply because it is critical of Zionism and therefore would seem counterproductive to the cause of ecumenical relations between Christians and Zionists? It would appear that Mr. Mills et al and the Archbishop adhere to historical narratives at odds with each other regarding the history of the Zionist movement. Does it not then become a question of fact? Why are we compelled to dismiss him simply because the truth regarding the history of Zionism may be uncomfortable?
This all sounds quite reasonable. History can be read in different ways, we don’t know everything, what facts we do have can be put together in different ways, some of us are too influenced by the mainstream view, which eventually changes anyway, and so on. It seems reasonable to think that the archbishop and I just see the history of Zionism differently.
If you don’t know what the archbishop said—and the commenter did. Archbishop Seraphim of Peraeus said: “Adolf Hitler was an instrument of world Zionism and was financed from the renowned Rothschild family with the sole purpose of convincing the Jews to leave the shores of Europe and go to Israel to establish the new Empire.” The Holocaust, in other words, was the result of a Jewish plot to create a Jewish empire. Seraphim’s clarification, as I pointed out, didn’t make things any better.
“Please don’t label me an anti-Semite simply for asking these questions,” the commenter asks. “I don’t know if what the Archbishop said is true or not, but as a mere observer, it is frustrating to learn from Mr. Mills that certain ideas are dismissed out of hand simply because they might cause offence.” (Which is not, by the way, what I argued. I said the archbishop’s ideas should be condemned because they’re lunatic and bigoted.)
It is the line the shrewder Holocaust deniers and revisionists and others of that sort always use. They’re not anti-Semites, oh no no no, they’re just asking questions, probing the evidence, raising matters for consideration, exploring anomalies in the data, pointing out problems with the dominant narrative—just being good (if continually misunderstood) historians.
One tends not to believe them. There are some stories about which to claim, or to feign, agnosticism is to advance a lie. Hitler the instrument of world Zionism is one of them. This leaves us asking why such people claim, or feign, agnosticism about such stories, which are so often stories about Jews. Why these stories in particular? Anti-semitism is one obvious answer.
Update: A note from a friend prompted me to a quick web search, which led me to remembering that one of the main Holocaust-denying groups is called the Institute for Historical Research. See paragraph five above.
The Archbishop of Piraeus, Seraphim, has called for the excommunication of Greek MPs who vote for same-sex partnerships, which the European Court of Human Rights has required the country to implement. The news stories I found were uniformly critical to hostile, and none quoted him at any length, so what exactly he said and how good his arguments were can’t be decided.
Whatever one thinks of the archbishop’s declaration, however, there are some people who just shouldn’t speak in public because they’ve lost the respect necessary to be heard. The archbishop had previously (in December 2010) told a Greek television show “Adolf Hitler was an instrument of world Zionism and was financed from the renowned Rothschild family with the sole purpose of convincing the Jews to leave the shores of Europe and go to Israel to establish the new Empire.” The Greek Orthodox Church in America condemned his statement as “gravely offensive and totally unacceptable.”
His clarification did not help. After explaining that his views are his own and that “I respect, revere, and love the Jewish people,” he continued:
My public vehement opposition against International Zionism refers to the organ that is the successor of the “Sanhedrin” which altered the faith of the Patriarchs, the Prophets and the Righteous of the Jewish nation through the Talmud, the Rabbinical writings and the Kabbalah into Satanism, and always strives vigorously towards an economic empire set up throughout the world with headquarters in the great land beyond the Atlantic for the prevalence of world government and pan-religion.
One can’t say that sort of thing and expect to be listened to again. In this case, he’s made it particularly easy for homosexualist partisans to equate opposition to the political approval of homosexuality with lunatic bigotry.
“New Pew Research Analysis Finds No Clear ‘Pope Francis Effect’ Among U.S. Catholics” reads the headline of a press release from the Pew Research Center’s Religion and Public Life Project. The release explains that though 79% of American Catholics rate the pope favorably, “the percentage of Americans who identify as Catholics has remained the same—22%—as it was during the corresponding seven-month period in 2012.” A summary of the study can be found here.
Sounds bad, or at least disappointing, and some newspapers are going to pick up the story — and ignore that hedging “clear” — but it is a non-story. With 314 million Americans, the number identifying themselves as Catholic would have to rise by three million to raise the percentage one percent, and that’s three million among the portion of the population countable by surveys . Francis’ greatest fan does not expect that kind of response in just seven months.
And besides, suppose in that time just one million more people started identifying, or more likely re-identifying, themselves as Catholics. Wouldn’t that be possible evidence of a “Francis effect” though it would make no difference in the percentage? Surveys are too blunt an instrument to measure such things, but not too blunt for press releases.
Excellent advice for pastors, and for the rest of us: Paul Levy writing on Reformation 21 on When Your World Caves in, writing in response to two pastor friends who’d “fallen morally” and lost their positions and families. For example:
Online life is a killer. This isn’t new is it? There are lots of warnings about it out there and yet I’m not sure it really sinks in. I was on Twitter for a while and loved it. To be honest it’s addictive, catching up with old friends, getting new followers, checking who retweets you, linking to good articles etc. Very subtly good things can become bad things. It’s true in every area of life but online it’s probably more subtle.
As I became more obsessed with Twitter it became obvious I should just get off it and yet I didn’t want to. To cut off the arm and pluck out the eye. It won’t be the same for everybody but I suspect we can all think of folk who could do with getting off social media for a while. It might be a good thing to tell them. Of course Facebook and Twitter in and of themselves are not bad at all but, if you’ve got a slightly addictive personality like me, then you need to stay off it. For others it’ll be a good hobby but what it has done is make the moral collapse of some of my friends easier.
Both the guys I met with struggled and got into inappropriate relationships online which in the end turned toxic and destroyed them. The language is interesting on this, inappropriate = sinful, but that’s not often how it’s spoken of is it?
He also takes up the dangers of success, the problems with “accountability” programs, the need to sustain your marriage (by going to pubs), and other subjects.
Members of the Society of St. Pius X have distinguished themselves by disrupting a service commemorating Kristallnacht, a service held in the cathedral in Buenos Aires and previously hosted by the man who is now pope. The service they declared a “profanation” because a rabbi was leading it (the same rabbi who used to lead it with then-Cardinal Bergolio). According to someone who was there, the protest “started as a murmur of ‘Our Father’ and other prayers, and then the protesters began chanting the rosary louder and louder. Between 20 and 40 young men, some just teenagers, kneeled down and began praying fervently, their eyes fixed straight ahead.”
The AP reports (the lines in boldface type are Father Z’s):
The Rev. Christian Bouchacourt, the South America leader of the Society of Saint Pius X, said Wednesday that the protesters belong to his organization and that they have a right to feel outraged when rabbis preside over a ceremony in a cathedral. “I recognize the authority of the pope, but he is not infallible and in this case, does things we cannot accept,” Bouchacourt said in an interview with Radio La Red. [Sure. They have—right or wrong—a right to be outraged, and even to express their outrage. They don't have a right to disrupt that service in that manner.]
“This wasn’t a desire to make a rebellion, [“This”, he said—pointing at a duck—“is not a duck!” And this wasn't “rebellion”. Riiiight.] but to show our love to the Catholic Church, which was made for the Catholic faith,” Bouchacourt added. “A Mass isn’t celebrated in a synagogue, nor in a mosque. The Muslims don’t accept it. In the same way, we who are Catholics cannot accept the presence of another faith in our church.” [I think Father is confused.]
Francis responded that “aggression cannot be an act of faith” and “Preaching intolerance is a form of militancy that must be overcome.”
They have, as Fr. Z says, a right to feel outraged, even if one thinks that their disregard for the Second Vatican Council leaves them feeling outraged about something that should not outrage them. But to use the Our Father and the rosary as weapons, that itself is a profanation. That’s not prayer, it’s assault.
Well, winner of the Buckley Award, anyway. Ryan, a former assistant editor and now a member of our Advisory Council, was one of the five people awarded the Young Conservative Coalition’s award for young conservative leaders. The biography included mentions his “influence and ‘courage under fire’,” noting the way he handled himself when under attack by Piers Morgan. (If you have had a similar experience, you will know how impressive Ryan’s performance was.) The quickest way to summarize his gifts and accomplishments is just to say that we’re very, very, very glad he’s one of us.
Congratulations to Ryan.
The little metal shed at the corner near the office sells candy, soft drinks, and magazines, with the magazines—mostly People and its peers—on a shelf sticking out from the corner of the shed so that the passersby notice them. I pick up something about popular culture from scanning the covers as I walk by. (One thing I’ve learned is that you’re supposed to pay attention to people who have no other claim on your attention but that they’re on magazine covers.)
One thing I’ve noticed is how often some young woman is declared “sexy” or even something like “the sexiest woman alive.” It’s a comparative I don’t know how any one would measure. All the magazines’ definition of the word seems to be is “a pretty young woman, either well known or famous (famous is better), wearing skimpy clothes.”
“Sexiest woman alive” is a distinction of sorts but not a very useful one. The sexiest woman alive now isn’t going to be called that in five years, or maybe ten if she wins the title early. There are other distinctions more useful and longer-lasting. Beauty, for one, partly because it does not depend upon genetic accidents, plastic surgery, personal trainers, and youth. As Emily Stimpson writes in What Makes a Body Beautiful:
We may not think we’re beautiful. We may look at the women and men gracing the pages of Glamour or Men’s Fitness and think we don’t measure up because our hair isn’t as thick or our abs as tight or skin as firm. We may not like what we see in the mirror: the wrinkles, the scars and stretch marks, the cellulite or gray hairs, the nose or eyes or lips that don’t resemble the models in the magazines.
But the people we love don’t see what we see.
They don’t see a collection of body parts; they see us. They see our love for them. They see sacrifices made and patience exercised. They see how many times we’ve forgiven them, listened to them, and encouraged them. They see our honesty, integrity, fidelity, and devotion. They also see our intelligence, humor, wit, and creativity—all gifts from God and all ways we image God.
Of course the guy with little hair and what hair he has is white would say that, you may be thinking. And there may be something to that. This may be one of those (many) cases where age brings insight. But there are many young women who are beautiful but not sexy who need to know they’re beautiful and that beauty beats sexy any day. Because these horrible magazines tell them otherwise.
For New York area readers: the Crossroads Cultural Center is sponsoring the author of The Pope and the CEO, Andreas Widmer, speaking on Doing Business in a possibly dog-eat-dog world. He’ll be speaking at the American Bible Society (just up Broadway from Columbus Circle) two Fridays hence at 7:00. The talk is free.
“Nowadays,” the description runs,
it is a common cliche that the world of business must live by its own rules, and that the first rule is the systematic and relentless pursuit of one’s advantage, in a sort of Hobbesian ‘war of all against all.’ . . . Our humanity can be our biggest business asset. Our desire to meet with others and to work with them, our need to build something beautiful, our faith in God: all these things are good for business, and are in fact necessary to practice entrepreneurship happily and successfully, especially in the long term. . . .
Widmer is director of entrepreneurship programs at the Catholic University of America.
Update: The lecture is being given on the 22nd, not this coming Friday as originally written.
A kind of On the Square classic, our former webmaster Joe Carter’s What a Veteran Knows, published on Veteran’s Day four years ago. (Leon and Amy Kass selected it for the Veterans Day section of their American Calendar.) It begins:
“Thank you for your service,” they say, as they shake our hands and pat our backs.
We smile and thank them for their gratitude and try to think of something else to talk about. These encounters with strangers happen from time to time, though always on Veteran’s Day. It’s the one time we can count on civilians—a group from which we came but can never fully return—to think about us.
On Veteran’s Day, they think of the men and women who march in the VFW parades. They think of their grandfathers, the gregarious World War II sailors, eager to share sea stories, and their uncles, stolid Vietnam-era airmen reticent to talk about the war. They think of the aunt who served in the Persian Gulf and the neighbor’s son who recently shipped off to Afghanistan.
They think of us when . . . more.
And my own civilian’s offering, written for Memorial Day but relevant to this one: Old Men Deserving of Gratitude.
“You’re not becoming a vegetarian, are you?” said a friend who was actually scowling at me, when I ordered a salad at lunch. I wasn’t, as it happened, but only eating lightly because we were going to a banquet in the evening and I wanted to take full advantage of the free food.
But the vegetarian case is one that pokes at me, at least the moral one. Not, in other words, that we shouldn’t eat meat, but that perhaps we shouldn’t eat most of the eat offered to us. As Mary Eberstadt writes in her introduction to Catholic theologian Charles Camosy’s new book For the Love of Animals,
One wonders, for example, whether vegetarianism for some believers might be a unique “sign of contradiction” in its own right — particularly in a time of relative plenty marked by rampant consumerism, and particularly given what Blessed John Paul II decried as an accompanying “culture of death.” Wanton cruelty to animals, of the sort that is now pitiably routine, is arguably part and parcel of that same culture, and it further deadens the general moral sense at a time when it’s needed most.
The welfare of animals is not a matter we (generally conservative religious believers) usually think about, partly because so many obviously urgent issues require our attention. But it seems to me that it is one of those matters, the not taking up of which affects how we think and what we do about the issues we do take up.
The old newspaper clipping shows two families, one descended from a white man and a black woman and the other descended from two white people, with the text, “Interesting researches by the Carnegie Institute disprove the popular notion that a ‘pass-for-white’ person married to a pure white may have a negro child.” The Carnegie and all the other major foundations that began modern philanthropy not only thought heredity important, they were, writes William Schambra in The New Atlantis, eugenicists when eugenicism was cool.
America’s first general-purpose philanthropic foundations — Russell Sage (founded 1907), Carnegie (1911), and Rockefeller (1913) — backed eugenics precisely because they considered themselves to be progressive. After all, eugenics had begun to point the way to a bold, hopeful human future through the application of the rapidly advancing natural sciences and the newly forming social sciences to human problems.
By investing in the progress and application of these fields, foundations boasted that they could delve down to the very roots of social problems, rather than merely treating their symptoms. Just as tracking physiological diseases back to parasites and microbes had begun to eliminate the sources of many medical ailments, so tracking social pathology — crime, pauperism, dipsomania, and “feeblemindedness,” a catch-all term for intellectual disabilities — back to defective genes would allow us to attack it at its source. As John D. Rockefeller put it, “the best philanthropy is constantly in search of the finalities — a search for cause, an attempt to cure evils at their source.”
The story does not improve. “According to the perspective of philanthropic eugenics,” explains Schambra, the director of the Hudson Institute’s Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal,
the old practice of charity — that is, simply alleviating human suffering — was not only inefficient and unenlightened; it was downright harmful and immoral. It tended to interfere with the salutary operations of the biological laws of nature, which would weed out the unfit, if only charity, reflecting the antiquated notion of the God-given dignity of each individual, wouldn’t make such a fuss about attending to the “least of these.”
For example, Planned Parenthood’s founder Margaret Sanger, still a kind of secular saint and someone funded by the Rockefeller Foundation,
included a chapter called “The Cruelty of Charity” in her 1922 book The Pivot of Civilization, arguing that America’s charitable institutions are the “surest signs that our civilization has bred, is breeding and is perpetuating constantly increasing numbers of defectives, delinquents and dependents.” Organizations that treat symptoms permit and even encourage social ills instead of curing them.
The problem, he argues, is that the foundations wanted to reform rather than help, to change rather than heal. The essay not only explains the history of foundational eugenics but offers a shrewd analysis of the way the major foundations work today and why so many are still, if not directly eugenicist, just as committed to social engineering and the reform of those they consider (though they don’t use this term anymore) defective. For one thing,
It is not difficult to understand how our philanthropic experts can, over time, lose sight of the fact that individuals are not just inadequately self-conscious bundles of pathologies but rather whole and worthy persons, possessed of an innate human dignity that demands respect no matter what problems they may suffer. Once philanthropists have steeled themselves sufficiently to discount the dignity of the suffering person before them in order to pursue a good that the sufferer cannot be trusted to appreciate, they may conclude that the most merciful way to alleviate suffering is to prevent anyone from becoming a sufferer in the first place — by cutting off suffering at its supposed root.
Philanthropy’s Original Sin is a very illuminating essay, and it illuminates the major foundations’ present as much as it reveals their (sordid, wicked) past.
For those of you who like this kind of thing, an image for which I wish I could think of a use: At a lecture this evening, the moderator said that she hoped to “tie together some of the irons we have in the fire.”
I am pleased to introduce two friends who have recently joined the list of regular writers for “First Thoughts.” We are honored, touched, moved, pleased as punch, happy as clams, and tickled pink to have them.
Readers of the magazine may recognize Mark Barrett, as he has been quoted several times in “While We’re At It” and is the source for other stories about which he didn’t say anything quotable. Or maybe I just pinched his lines. Can’t remember. He is the author of The Snug of the Pub tumblr, which gathers an eclectic collection of things and sometimes includes his own photographs. Mark grew up in a Irish Catholic family in the Bronx and now lives outside Pittsburgh, where he was a good friend and frequent companion, and writes with a sympathy for working and lower middle-class concerns rare among conservatives. He’s also a lawyer, and a Yankees fan, a wound of which, sadly, he will only be healed in the next world.
Readers of the magazine may also recognize Carl Trueman, who contributed Tragic Worship to the June/July issue. A professor of theology at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia, former editor of the journal Themelios, and author of books thick (his Luther’s Legacy: Salvation and English Reformers, 1525-1556 [Oxford]) and thin (Republocrat is the latest), he is an Englishman with a sharp view of things American as well as a genteel and irenic Calvinist. He writes frequently for the Reformation 21 weblog. He was also my host last week when I spoke at the seminary, and a very gracious host he was too.
One is American, one English. One is Irish, one English. One is Catholic, one Presbyterian. One works in the real world, one in academia. They both live in Pennsylvania, follow European football, drink good ales, admire Thomas and Calvin, and have interesting things to say. We’re glad to have them writing for us.
Update: I should have mentioned that Mark was the one who introduced me to Carl’s writing.
Our good friend Fr. Edward Oakes, S.J., with the editor and me a member of Evangelicals and Catholics Together, has written a very good review of David Hart’s The Experience of God. “One would be hard put,” he says, “to find a more thorough and a more devastating refutation of naturalism,” a point he goes on to explain, with several illustrative quotes from the book.
For example: “The atheist who proudly and persistently strives to convince others that there is no God,” Hart writes,
does so out of a devotion to the absolute, to the highest of values, to the divine. It is an old maxim — one that infuriates many unbelievers, but that happens to be true nonetheless — that one cannot meaningfully reject belief in the God of classical theism. If one refuses to believe in God out of one’s love of the truth, one affirms the reality of God in that very act of rejection.
Read the review, and then read the book. You will not be disappointed. There are few books of which I would say that with confidence (with the qualification that if you are disappointed with The Experience of God, it’s your own fault).
Reading good literature will make you better in dealing with people, according to a new study published in Science. The study
found that after reading literary fiction, as opposed to popular fiction or serious nonfiction, people performed better on tests measuring empathy, social perception and emotional intelligence. . . .
The researchers say the reason is that literary fiction often leaves more to the imagination, encouraging readers to make inferences about characters and be sensitive to emotional nuance and complexity.
The writers the Times quoted in its report agreed. (Surprise!) I’ve long thought this, and what the study shows certainly seems intuitively obvious. But I wonder how long the effect lasts, a point the article itself raises.
The ego is always strong, if not ravenous, and our habits of relating to people strong if not overwhelming (which is why they’re habits). It’s hard to think that feelings of empathy for others will last long and that if we gain in social perception and emotional intelligence we won’t turn that gain to our own advantage.
Conman undoubtedly rank very highly in social perception and emotional intelligence. The successful ones, anyway. They need to know exactly what you want in order to give you the illusion they’re giving it to you.
When I think about the empathy one gains from reading, I think of the feeling of sympathy for human weakness and frailty one can feel at the end of a great tragedy, whether play or movie, and how quickly that disappears when you get out of the theatre and get behind a weak, frail, but really annoying tourist who won’t get his polyester-covered Iowa backside out of the way as he gawps at the buildings when all you want to do is get home, or an aggressive panhandler who tries to make you feel guilty, or almost anyone who’s weak and frail in the ways with which you were just so grandly empathizing.*
I don’t doubt the accuracy of the study, as far as it goes, but it also seems to me another of man’s ongoing attempts to make goodness easier by finding a technique that will make us better without challenging our wills or changing our lives, other than by the small sacrifice of employing this technique. That attempt is doomed to fail, at least for those of us who are not yet saints.
* To avoid enraged messages from Iowans: the description was a rhetorical technique meant to illustrate the feeling I am describing. No slight upon Iowans is intended. Also, no animals were harmed in the making of this weblog item.
“I had drifted away a little bit. This book has brought me back into the fold. I was so incredibly struck in writing these stories by the incredible power faith had in people’s lives, it has made a profound impact on me in my belief. That’s been the completely unexpected effect of writing this book. I am in the process of rediscovering my own faith again.” So explains the New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell, describing the effect of writing his new book David and Goliath.
He is not, he explains to our friend Sarah Pulliam Bailey, a member of a church, though he’s drawn back to the Mennonite tradition in which was raised. And though he now calls himself a Christian, his understanding of Christ isn’t (yet) all one would wish. But when asked if he’d had a conversion experience, he responded:
I realized what I had missed. It wasn’t an “I woke up one morning” kind of thing. It was a slow realization something incredibly powerful and beautiful in the faith that I grew up with that I was missing. Here I was writing about people of extraordinary circumstances and it slowly dawned on me that I can have that too.
Sinead O’Connor offers an argument for what is effectively chastity in the way young women present themselves in public, and in particular in relation to the way one misguided young woman, Miley Cyrus, presents herself in public. In an open letter prompted by Cyrus’s claim that one of her videos inspired her own naked-on-a-wrecking-ball video, O’Connor writes:
Nothing but harm will come in the long run, from allowing yourself to be exploited, and it is absolutely NOT in ANY way an empowerment of yourself or any other young women, for you to send across the message that you are to be valued (even by you) more for your sexual appeal than your obvious talent. . . .
Yes, I’m suggesting you don’t care for yourself. That has to change. You ought be protected as a precious young lady by anyone in your employ and anyone around you, including you. This is a dangerous world. We don’t encourage our daughters to walk around naked in it because it makes them prey for animals and less than animals, a distressing majority of whom work in the music industry and its associated media.
“Associated media” clearly including the editors of Rolling Stone, who apparently just featured Cyrus on the cover. O’Connor continues:
Real empowerment of yourself as a woman would be to in future refuse to exploit your body or your sexuality in order for men to make money from you. I needn’t even ask the question . . . I’ve been in the business long enough to know that men are making more money than you are from you getting naked. It’s really not at all cool. And it’s sending dangerous signals to other young women. Please in future say no when you are asked to prostitute yourself.
Her language is, I should warn you, rough, and I’ve omitted some of the best quotes for that reason.
O’Connor writes, she explains at the beginning of the letter, “in the spirit of motherliness.” Three cheers for Sinead O’Connor.
My thanks to Bob Gardner for the lead.
Update: There is, not surprisingly now that I think of it, a pro-Miley backlash, according to Katy Waldman, an editor at Slate. (The photo at the top of the story is unedifying, let me warn you, and also a little weird looking.) Driven, again not surprisingly, by people who stand to make more money with the exhibitionist Cyrus than with one more modest, and who use the liberationist and feminist rhetoric to justify their exploitation of this girl.
These women, from august glossies like Cosmopolitan and Harper’s Bazaar, say Cyrus is being slut-shamed for “owning her sexuality.” One editor calls her a “genius,” an “emblem of rebellion and trouble.” According to another, Miley has “launched a conversation about female sexuality.” Most importantly, they say, she knows how to sell herself.
There follows other revealing quotes, then Waldman explains:
People may be talking about Miley Cyrus, but even her partisans don’t seem to respect her for much beyond her ability to generate buzz—and drive traffic. What bold and courageous point has Cyrus left us with? That sex sells? That teddy bears and foam fingers have still got it? That metal machinery is delicious? I think it’s a cop-out to reflexively applaud her for, as my colleague Jessica Grose puts it in Elle, “publicly exploring her sexuality in a provocative way.” The ranks of pop stars are overflowing with young men and women doing just that. They’re not doing it out of bravery—they’re doing it because it works.
Anyone who understands logic could see this kind of thing coming, but it’s still a shock. A Belgian transsexual woman chose to be euthanized, which is to say, killed by a doctor, when her operation didn’t work out. From the Daily Mail story Wesley Smith reports:
Nathan Verhelst, 44, died yesterday afternoon after being allowed have his life ended on the grounds of ‘unbearable psychological suffering.’ . . .
In the hours before his death he told Belgium’s Het Laatse Nieuws: ‘I was ready to celebrate my new birth. But when I looked in the mirror, I was disgusted with myself. ‘My new breasts did not match my expectations and my new penis had symptoms of rejection. I do not want to be . . . a monster.’
The article reports that “His family learned of his decision this morning via a farewell letter.” This is desperately sad.
“Political leaders do not want to give a speech, cut a ribbon, or pose for photographs at the opening of a casino,” David Blankenhorn points out in a new and damning study, New York’s Promise: Why Sponsoring Casinos Is a Regressive Policy Unworthy of a Great State. “They understand that there is something unseemly about it, and even if they want the casinos to exist in order to get the money, politicians don’t want to frequent, much less to become a symbol of or spokesman for, casinos and their values.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo “talks with comic-book hyperbole about ripple effects and super-charges and resorts and convention centers and boosting upstate tourism. But he knows — everyone paying any attention to this issue knows — that the gambling initiative is about New York’s government getting the money.” There isn’t, David argues, any evidence for the governor’s claims about the benefits of gambling, and the governor himself presents none, and a great deal of evidence against it.
Among the damning evidence David presents is the view of the current governor’s father:
We had a former governor who spoke honestly about these matters — Mario Cuomo. Regarding the state’s sponsorship of gambling, he said: “We do it for the money, but I don’t know anybody who’s excited.”
In his book, The New York Idea, Mario Cuomo states that over and above both his “personal feelings” and the significant civic and religious opposition to casinos, “there is a respectable body of economic though that holds that casino gambling is actually economically regressive to a state and a community.”
As Governor Mario Cuomo put it in an interview with the New York Times in 1994, bringing casinos into a state “doesn’t generate wealth, it just redistributes it.”
David is the president of the Institute for American Values. The Institute just published Why Casinos Matter, which offers “Thirty-One Evidence-Based Propositions from the Health and Social Sciences” explaining why state-sponsored gambling is a bad thing. (It’s the subject, as it happens, of an item by the editor in the November “Public Square,” as well as a few “While We’re At It” items. That issue’s now at the printer.)
From Town & Village, a neighborhood newspaper here, in a story about the New York Theatre Ballet:
The company, which has reparatory seasons and revivals of long-lost chamber masterpieces, is also well known for its hour-long adaptations for children. Through both the training at the school and the shows they put on, Byer wants to introduce young kids to theater and dance.
I suppose we should all have such seasons.
A couple of days ago, in Francis Excommunicates Dissident, Not Man Sullivan Thought, I mentioned Andrew Sullivan’s misreading of Pope Francis — typical of such efforts, which would once have been called “jesuitical” — which his (Francis’) excommunicating a dissident Australian priest disprove rather nicely. The National Catholic Reporter reports, not happily, that the pope’s letter,
a copy of which NCR obtained and translated, accuses Reynolds of heresy (Canon 751) and determined he incurred latae sententiae excommunication for throwing away the consecrated host or retaining it “for a sacrilegious purpose” (Canon 1367). It also referenced Canon 1369 (speaking publicly against church teaching) in its review of the case.
“Pope Francis, Supreme Pontiff having heard the presentation of this Congregation concerning the grave reason for action . . . of [Fr. Greg Reynolds] of the Archdiocese of Melbourne, all the preceding actions to be taken having been followed, with a final and unappealable decision and subject to no recourse, has decreed dismissal from the clerical state is to be imposed on said priest for the good of the Church,” read the document, signed by Archbishop Gerhard Muller, prefect for the congregation, and his secretary, Jesuit Archbishop Luis Ladaria.
Fr. Zuhlsdorf offers a close reading of the NCR‘s story, noting that the story has upset liberal Catholics because “After all, isn’t Pope Francis supposed to be against rules? Isn’t he the most wonderfulest and bestest and fluffiest Pope ehvur? He’s so chill about, you know, like, stuff like . . . you know!”
Thanks to Father Joseph Wilson for the links.