"WASHINGTON — President Bush urged Democratic senators Saturday to end a two-week filibuster of Miguel Estrada's nomination to a federal appeals judgeship, claiming that delays in judicial confirmations 'endanger American justice.' ..." more
"WASHINGTON — A high-ranking Russian diplomat will be coming to Washington late this weekend for meetings with top Bush administration officials about a possible war with Iraq ..." more
"WASHINGTON — The United States hopes to begin moving troops and equipment into Turkey as early as this week, preparing for an expected second front in a possible war with Iraq ..." more
"CRAWFORD, Texas — President Bush said Saturday that Saddam Hussein does not intend to disarm and expressed confidence the United Nations will approve a new resolution authorizing war against Iraq. ..." more
"BAGHDAD, Iraq — U.N. weapons inspectors tagging Al Samoud 2 missiles for destruction were met Saturday by an irate factory director, who pleaded with them to let Iraq keep its weapons so it can defend itself in the face of war. ..." more
Too much free time: "NEW YORK — War -- it's a far cry from debating garbage pick-up times and how to fill that bothersome pothole down the street. ..." more
"BERLIN — A second suspected helper of the Germany-based Sept. 11 hijackers will soon be charged with supporting a terrorist organization ..." more
"BEIT LAHIA, Gaza Strip — One of eight people indicted in Florida for terrorism-related charges denied the allegations Saturday, saying he had visited the United States several times and had nothing against Americans. ..." more
"TOKYO — Secretary of State Colin Powell and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi shared concerns about North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile programs, and agreed Saturday to coordinate efforts to deal with the problem ..." more
"By the time they reach age 18, American children will have seen 16,000 simulated murders and 200,000 acts of violence (American Psychiatric Association, 1998). Media violence can be hazardous to children's health ..." more (registration required)
"... Valentine's Day has long been a day for romance, hence the heart as its ubiquitous symbol. Not only is Valentine's Day big business in the United States ..., but so is heart disease, as illustrated by these staggering statistics: ..." more (registration required)
"Feb. 7, 2003 — ... Researchers have identified at least one gene that may be responsible for autism, according to a report in the March issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics. ..." more (registration required)
"NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Feb 11 - Very low-birth-weight (VLBW) infants experience significant improvements in word recognition and intelligence during the first years of life, according to a report published in the February 12th issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. ..." more (registration required)
Medicine and money: "managed care"; improving "healthcare delivery"; insuring the uninsured; malpractice insurance and walkouts
"IPA-model HMOs are now the dominant organizational structures for delivering managed care in the United States. Are they taking advantage of opportunities to support physician practices in ways that arguably could improve care? ..." more (registration required)
"Feb. 14, 2003 — ... At the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) 2003 Annual Meeting, neuroscientist and physician Floyd E. Bloom, MD, delivered the President's Lecture on Feb. 13, mandating creation of a National Commission to Restore the American Health System. ... Recent crises confronting healthcare delivery in the U.S. include skyrocketing health-insurance premiums, shortages of some healthcare professionals, time constraints imposed by managed healthcare and outdated information management, and the threat of war and bioterrorism. To deal effectively with these challenges, Dr. Bloom recommends a radical new approach. ..." more (registration required)
"When Oregon sought approval in the mid-1990s to trim benefits in its Medicaid program to finance an expansion of coverage, the proposal stirred intense controversy and was eventually rejected by federal officials. In October 2002 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services approved a second proposal to reduce benefits for some beneficiaries to pay for coverage of up to 60,000 uninsured Oregonians under new flexibility guidelines promulgated by the Bush administration ..." more (registration required)
"Poll results: Many physicians in New Jersey walked off the job for a day last week to protest increasing malpractice insurance premiums. Similar actions have recently taken place in Florida, Mississippi, and West Virginia. Do you approve or disapprove of this kind of walk-out? ..." more (registration required)
"Feb. 10, 2003 — Physician protests are erupting across the country over the rising cost of malpractice insurance, which many of them blame on a legal system bloated with frivolous lawsuits and excessive awards for injured patients. ..." more (registration required)
Today is the Feast of the Chair of Peter. In the Office, we read from a sermon by Pope St. Leo the Great:
Out of the whole world one man, Peter, is chosen to preside at the calling of all nations, and to be set over all the apostles and all the fathers of the Church. Though there are in God’s people many shepherds, Peter is thus appointed to rule in his own person those whom Christ also rules as the original ruler. Beloved, how great and wonderful is this sharing of his power that God in his goodness has given to this man. Whatever Christ has willed to be shared in common by Peter and the other leaders of the Church, it is only through Peter that he has given to others what he has not refused to bestow on them.
The Lord now asks the apostles as a whole what men think of him. As long as they are recounting the uncertainty born of human ignorance, their reply is always the same.
But when he presses the disciples to say what they think themselves, the first to confess his faith in the Lord is the one who is first in rank among the apostles.
Peter says: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus replies: Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona, for flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but my Father who is in heaven. You are blessed, he means, because my Father has taught you. You have not been deceived by earthly opinion, but have been enlightened by inspiration from heaven. It was not flesh and blood that pointed me out to you, but the one whose only-begotten Son I am.
He continues: And I say to you. In other words, as my Father has revealed to you my godhead, so I in my turn make known to you your pre-eminence. You are Peter: though I am the inviolable rock, the cornerstone that makes both one, the foundation apart from which no one can lay any other, yet you also are a rock, for you are given solidity by my strength, so that which is my very own because of my power is common between us through your participation.
And upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. On this strong foundation, he says, I will build an everlasting temple. The great height of my Church, which is to penetrate the heavens, shall rise on the firm foundation of this faith.
The gates of hell shall not silence this confession of faith; the chains of death shall not bind it. Its words are the words of life. As they lift up to heaven those who profess them, so they send down to hell those who contradict them.
Blessed Peter is therefore told: To you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth is also bound in heaven. Whatever you lose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven.
The authority vested in this power passed also to the other apostles, and the institution established by this decree has been continued in all the leaders of the Church. But it is not without good reason that what is bestowed on all is entrusted to one. For Peter received it separately in trust because he is the prototype set before all the rulers of the Church.
Let us thank God for Peter's successor, and pray for him.
Whatever you think of their stance on Iraq, they're not just moral idiots:
In a strong rebuke to the government of German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on cloning, the German parliament has overwhelmingly approved a declaration urging the government to change its position at the United Nations and to embrace a comprehensive ban on all forms of human cloning, even suggesting that the government should partner with the United States to achieve this goal.
During today's morning session of parliament, almost all members of the major German political parties, the Christian Democrats, the Greens, and Schroeder's own Social Democrats, voted in favor of the declaration. ...
... Maria Böhmer, a leader of the Christian Democrats, expects the Germans and the French to abandon their previous position and to embrace the US position. ... more
"MARQUETTE, Mich. (CNS) -- Officials of the Michigan Catholic Conference will soon find out which of their key issues will be embraced by Michigan's first female -- and first Catholic [sic] -- governor ..." more
"WILMINGTON, Del. (CNS) -- The head of the Wilmington Diocese's marriage preparation programs believes cohabitation ... is a major cause of a sharp decline seen in the number of couples married in diocesan churches ..." more
Bad idea, I think: "NEW YORK (CNS) -- Kathleen L. McChesney, director of the U.S. bishops' Office for Child and Youth Protection, said in a New York appearance Feb. 20 that she thought bishops should allow Voice of the Faithful to meet in the churches of their dioceses. ..." more
Are the French anti-American ingrates? Maybe some are - maybe some aren't. An AP story (which I can't find online) in my local paper, headlined "Iraq situation causing America to lose prestige," is accompanied by a picture with the following interesting caption:
"French retiree Bernadette Mouchel poses in front of the American military cemetery in Saint-James, western France, Wednesday. Nothing could erase her gratitude to the brave GIs who liberated her Normandy farm from nazi occupiers in World War II, said Mouchel. However, the prospect of renewed war over Iraq, concerns Mouchel that the United States is a superpower running amok."
She may not be right, or even entirely fair. But she doesn't seem ungrateful. I'd still buy the cheese from her cows' milk.
"CLEARWATER, Fla. — A judge granted child custody to a transsexual man involved in a bitter divorce case and ruled Friday that the man is legally male under Florida law, even though he was born female. ..." more
"WASHINGTON — At the first Democratic National Committee meeting of the 2004 presidential election cycle, a decidedly left-wing attack on party centrism by a little known White House hopeful clearly won hearts. ..." more
"BRUSSELS, Belgium — NATO's top military commander in Europe has ordered AWACS surveillance planes to Turkey to watch for any potential attack from Iraq, the alliance announced Friday. ..." more
"BEIRUT, Lebanon — Iraq has rejected U.S. claims of links to a Kurdish terrorist group believed connected to Al Qaeda, and said it has offered to hand over a suspect in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. ..." more
"BAGHDAD, Iraq — Half of the U.N. humanitarian staff in Iraq has left the country over the last two weeks to make a possible evacuation easier in case of war, a U.N. official said Friday. ..." more
"WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Colin Powell said Friday if President Saddam Hussein leaves Iraq, there will be no war. ..." more
"BAGHDAD, Iraq — Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan offered a 'dialogue' with the United States, saying in an interview broadcast Friday that his country was ready to talk if Washington abandons 'aggression' and ceases 'interference in internal affairs.' ..." more
"UNITED NATIONS — Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix ordered Iraq on Friday to destroy dozens of its missiles with ranges that violate U.N. limits, and gave Baghdad a March 1 deadline to begin the demolition. ..." more
"ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey's foreign minister said Friday that a 'broad agreement' had been reached with the United States on basing American soldiers here for a possible Iraq war, and that remaining disagreements would likely be resolved. ..." more
From that foreign-relations genius: "SALT LAKE CITY — Former President Jimmy Carter blamed U.S. policy in the Middle East for creating animosity abroad, but he stopped short of taking a stand on war with Iraq. ..." more
"WASHINGTON — Public support for eventual military action against Iraq remains strong, but the number of people who think the United States doesn't have enough international support yet for such military action is growing ..." more
"VATICAN CITY, FEB. 21, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II asked all Catholics worldwide to pray the rosary, a 'privileged instrument for building peace.' ..." more
"CHICAGO — A federal judge has dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed against The Associated Press and five other news organizations by an Islamic charity whose assets were frozen as part of the government's terrorism investigation. ..." more
"GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The militant Islamic Jihad said Friday it will not attack American targets to retaliate for the U.S. arrest of four alleged members and the indictment of four others on terrorism-related charges. ..." more
"WASHINGTON — 'International terrorism' isn't what the Justice Department deems it to be, according to congressional investigators, who say federal prosecutors mistakenly misidentified convictions in the war against terrorism. ..." more
"CASABLANCA, Morocco — Three Saudi Arabians were sentenced to 10 years in prison Friday by a Moroccan court for leading an Al Qaeda plot to attack U.S. and British warships. ..." more
"Artist" misses contractual deadline, then cries "censorship"
Irony of the Month:the article quotes the "artist": "'If they continue to do this, they'll stop other things,' he said. 'It's not a very good thing to have the rest of America look at.'" Actually, I think that's much more true of his awful "sculpture" than of Milwaukee County's effort to stop his madness. (See also below.)
So says NRO. It is gravely mistaken.Some just wars are probably obligatory, but "obligatory" does not automatically follow from "just," if one correctly understands (as NRO and Weigel do not) the precise meaning of "just" in "just war." A "just war" is one that is not contrary to one's duties in justice to one's "enemy." Hence, it is, as a matter of justice, permissible. But that which justice permits us to do to others, it does not necessarily oblige us to do to others. For that which is just may not be fully in accord with charity. And that which is not fully in accord with charity is not beneficial, even if "lawful."
This NRO essay is certainly correct in its analysis of the (constitutional-)legal question about a Texas law, and makes a good case concerning the public-policy question. Social conservatives (like me) need to remember that the law, including the Constitution, does not and should not repress every vice. Libertarians need to remember that the Constitution does not repress every arguably-unwise repression of vice.
I've long found the secessionist crisis and Civil War, and especially Lincoln, fascinating. In fall, I'm going to offer a grad course on "American politics, morality, and faith," in which we're going to read about this period, among other things. One important question that Rod reports is treated in the movie is how arguably honorable people like Lee, who had even opposed secession, could have fought for the South. Rod answers that they did so "for much the same reason that black GIs fought bravely in World War II for a country that still didn't guarantee them their full rights: because their homeland asked them to."
I'm not sure this answer is fully adequate, though. It's one thing to fight for your homeland despite its injustice to you; it's another to fight for it because of its injustice to others. (And it is simply disingenuous to deny that slavery was, at bottom, the source of the conflict between North and South: the "states'-rights" dimension of the Southern cause was subordinate to this.)
Still, I think, Rod is correct to ask, "If you or I had been Virginians back then, how many of us would have had the courage to have gone north to fight for the Union, or even had the imagination to conceive of such a thing?"
It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."
And to conclude by calling for "malice toward none," "charity for all." American slavery was a tragedy; so also was the subsequent conduct of Reconstruction. And we should try to see Lee's virtues - as well as Lincoln's and Grant's. And, I think, we should see this new movie.
"Nearly 900 people from churches and faith-based groups around the region put public officials on the hot seat last night during a public hearing sponsored by the Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network.
"In an hour, they had extracted promises to work on getting computers in youth centers, extending the African-centered program at Miller Elementary School in Pittsburgh, and securing $150,000 from the county budget to clean up abandoned homes in Wilkinsburg. ..." more
"University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark Nordenberg says Temple University's decision to grant domestic partner benefits to employees is 'probably a positive thing' but doesn't change Pitt's belief that it's not yet prudent to offer the benefit there. ..." more
"Not yet prudent" is an understatement. Qualitatively, and not only quantitatively. Restricting benefits to spouses (and children) - linking them with marriage - is not arbitrarily "discriminatory." And restricting marriage to opposite- (or better, complementary-)sex couples likewise is by no means discriminatory. And while remaining competitive in the market for employees is important, it is not the summum bonum. Same-sex-couple benefits are unjust to those who must pay for them, and bad for the moral health of society.
"In perhaps its first clear indication that managed care might have added to surging health insurance costs, Highmark Inc. plans to stop requiring patients to obtain referrals for medical tests and treatments by 2005. ..." more
"VATICAN, Feb 20, 03 (CWNews.com) -- Pope John Paul II met on Thursday with the leaders of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and told them that efforts to ensure world food supplies could be a 'decisive factor' in preserving peace. ..." more (subscription required)
"RICHMOND, Feb 20, 03 (CWNews.com) - Virginia's Senate on Tuesday passed a bill to ban partial-birth abortions by a veto-proof margin. A similar bill passed the House, also by a margin large enough to override a veto by Democratic Gov. Mark Warner. ..." more (subscription required)
"ROME, FEB. 20, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Sir Martin Gilbert, considered one of the greatest living historians, praised Pope Pius XII's efforts on behalf of the Jews throughout World War II.
"In an interview broadcast Feb. 2 on C-Span, Gilbert was asked if Pope Eugenio Pacelli was passive in face of Nazism. ..." more
Also good: This Weekly Standard review (subscription required) by Rabbi David Dalin of Daniel Goldhagen's "dishonest and misleading," "flawed," "error-prone," "tendentious," "both bizarre and dangerous," "anti-Catholic," ... A Moral Reckoning: The Role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust and Its Unfulfilled Duty of Repair.
"WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday 'there may be some creative things we can do' to gain acceptance of a proposed U.S. aid package meant to pave the way for Turkey to help in a war against Iraq. ..." more
"WASHINGTON — Failing to win Turkey's approval to base American ground forces there for a possible invasion of Iraq would be a big setback for U.S. war planners, but Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld says it could be overcome. ..." more
"BAGHDAD, Iraq — Saddam Hussein convened his top aides and military commanders Thursday to prepare for a possible war with the United States and to discuss how to 'inflict defeat on the evil aggressors.' ..." more
"BAGHDAD, Iraq — Iraq allowed another flight by an American U-2 spy plane Thursday, but a U.N. spokesman said Saddam Hussein's government was still not cooperating fully with the inspection program. ..." more
"UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations joined the United States and Britain on Thursday in saying that Saddam Hussein is still not cooperating fully with U.N. inspectors despite Iraq's go-ahead for surveillance flights and hand-over of new lists of scientists. ..." more
"WASHINGTON — The White House and Britain, hoping to garner support for the use of force against Iraq, are preparing to present a new resolution to the U.N. Security Council Monday. ..." more
"WASHINGTON — Brushing aside media reports analyzing his travels, Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday 'living in an airplane' is not the only way to be in touch with other governments. ..." more
"NEW YORK, FEB. 20, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican addressed the U.N. Security Council to affirm that 'to resort to force would not be just' in eliminating the threat of weapons of mass destruction attributed to Iraq. ..." more
"NEW YORK, Feb 20, 03 (CWNews.com) -- In an address to the UN Security Council, the Vatican's representative has called attention to the 'irreplaceable' role of the UN itself, and urged new efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis in Iraq. ..." more (subscription required)
"VATICAN CITY, FEB. 20, 2003 (Zenit.org).- With the specter of war looming, John Paul II appealed for the avoidance of policies that might become sources of major divisions among the world's religions. ..." more
They should have chosen him last year instead of the constantly-overrated Carter: "ROME, FEB. 20, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II is among the candidates for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize, say sources at the Norwegian Nobel Institute. ..." more
"MONTPELIER, Vt. — Some booksellers are troubled by a post-Sept. 11 federal law that gives the government broad powers to seize the records of bookstores and libraries to find out what people have been reading. ..." more
"WASHINGTON — The United States and Britain ordered financial sanctions Thursday against a Kurdish Islamic group suspected of harboring Al Qaeda fugitives from Afghanistan. ..." more
"AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — The leader of a Kurdish group with alleged links to Al Qaeda will again seek political asylum in the Netherlands, his Dutch lawyer said Thursday. ..." more
"BERLIN — The first person convicted in the Sept. 11 plot appealed the verdict, arguing the court did not hear testimony from another suspect in U.S. custody, his lawyers said Thursday. ..." more
"RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — A British man was shot and killed Thursday waiting for a traffic light to change, and a Saudi citizen was arrested, the Interior Ministry said. ..." more
"WASHINGTON — Hundreds of U.S. special operations troops will soon join Philippine forces in combat operations against Abu Sayyaf rebels in the southern Philippines, defense officials said Thursday. ..." more
Rod Dreher on Jesse Jackson on the Chicago nightclub stampede
"Mean-spirited cynics (like, well, me) heard the news that 21 people died in the stampede at a black nightclub in Chicago, and thought, 'Jesse Jackson is going to take advantage of this somehow.' ..." more
"UNITED NATIONS — Chief U.N. inspector Hans Blix is likely to order the destruction of Iraq's Al Samoud 2 missiles after experts determined their range exceeds U.N. resolutions ..." more
"TAMPA, Fla. — A University of South Florida professor previously accused of having terrorist ties was arrested early Thursday by federal agents. ..." more
"WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Colin Powell will travel to Japan, China and South Korea to compare notes on the developing crisis in North Korea ..." more
"UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council discussed North Korea's nuclear weapons program and its rejection of an anti-nuclear treaty Wednesday, before asking specialists from its member states to study the issue. ..." more
"SEOUL, South Korea — A North Korean fighter jet briefly crossed the western sea border with South Korea on Thursday, and a South anti-aircraft missile unit went into battle position, a South Korean military official said. ..." more
"TOKYO — Japan considered developing its own nuclear arsenal in 1995 to counter the threat of a nuclear-armed North Korea, but rejected the idea because it might deprive Tokyo of U.S. military protection and alarm Asian countries. ..." more
Polish cardinal, Russian Orthodox metropolitan on EU
"WARSAW, Dec 19, 03 (CWNews.com) - Poland's Catholic primate on Wednesday stumped for a 'Yes' vote on joining the European Union, but acknowledged that the future evolution of the EU bears watching. ..." more (subscription required)
"MOSCOW, FEB. 19, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Moscow Orthodox Patriarchate joined the majority of European churches in requesting the inclusion of a reference to the continent's Christian heritage in the future Constitutional Treaty. ..." more
"VATICAN, Feb 19, 03 (CWNews.com) -- Despite the tensions that have marred relations between the Holy See and the Russian Orthodox Church for the past year, the Vatican's top ecumenical officer sees distinct signs of progress in dealings with the Orthodox world. ..." more (subscription required)
Cardinal: what Africa does and doesn't need from West
"ROME, FEB. 19, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze says that Africa needs food, not weapons, but that there is a drive to solve the continent's problems by controlling the number of children it has. ..." more
"ROME, FEB. 19, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Edith Stein addressed a sealed letter to Pope Pius XI, requesting his intervention at the start of the persecution of Catholics and Jews in Hitler's Germany. ..." more
"VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Just a few weeks after Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany, St. Edith Stein -- a Catholic convert from Judaism who was soon to enter a Carmelite convent -- wrote to Pope Pius XI asking him to condemn the Nazi ideology. ..." more
"VATICAN CITY, FEB. 19, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II encouraged the International Fund for Agricultural Development to continue the struggle against poverty and hunger, in the face of obstacles arising from egoisms and special interests. ..." more
"VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In a message decrying the persistence of global hunger, Pope John Paul II said multilateral cooperation and not 'the desire to prevail' must govern international decisions on peace and development. ..." more
This week's book has nothing whatsoever (that I can discern) to do with moral theology:
Dava Sobel, Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time (Penguin, 1995).
In this era of GPS, we take accurate navigation for granted. Fishing boats, luxury cruise ships, aircraft carriers, aircraft themselves know their positions. But once upon a time, there were no satellites, and they that went down to the sea in ships ran a significant risk of ending up not at their desired destination, but rather, in fact, at a decidedly undesired one, like on the rocks.
Measuring latitude (north-south location) turns out to be fairly straightforward with the help of the sun. Measuring longitude (east-west location) is much less so. The lack of a method for measuring longitude had, by the 1700s, become enough of a source of headaches and worse that the English Parliament offered a reward for the inventor of such a method.
Proposals generally ranged from crackpot to impractical; astronomical methods that might have worked in theory nevertheless generally fell into the latter category. One method that would work, if it could be made practical, would involve a clock. A clock could be synchronized with those in a ship's home port, then carried aboard the ship on its voyage. To measure the ship's longitude at any point in its voyage, it would only be necessary to ascertain the time at the ship's location by noting the location of the sun. The shipboard time could then be compared with the home-port time (read from the onboard clock), and the difference would correspond directly to the longitude of the ship relative to that of its home port.
This method, however, intially seemed impractical as well, for the perhaps-surprising reason that 18th-century clocks that worked with great accuracy on land ran very inaccurately aboard a ship. The constant movement of a ship on the waves interfered greatly with the operation of a clock's pendulum - and the pendulum was, in the early 1700s, the only known way to keep a clock running at constant speed. Also, as a ship traveled from place to place, it traveled from climate to climate as well, and temperature differences would affect the size of a clock's components, like its pendulum, and therefore also its accuracy.
Longitude tells the story of John Harrison and his unlikely (in the eyes of the establishment) effort to win the longitude prize by inventing a clock that would run accurately at sea before some other (astronomical) method of measurement of longitude could be perfected. Sobel, also the author of Galileo's Daughter (review), tells the story well. If you don't have time to read the book, read about the PBS NOVA episode based on it.
Pollack attacks the long-standing arguments for deterrence made by the French, by many within the Near Eastern Bureau of the State Department, and by more than a few antiwar realpolitik Americans. Their case is quite simple: Saddam Hussein won't egregiously misbehave again, since he knows that we would retaliate with equal or greater force. And even if Saddam got a nuke, it wouldn't give him a decisive advantage, since he would know that we (or the Israelis) would incinerate Baghdad. Saddam is ultimately checkmated, and we should calm down.
But as Pollack points out, the issue is not whether Saddam is deterrable--and Saddam's past actions suggest that he might not be--but whether the United States is. Every Western intelligence service knows that the Iraqi ruler has been trying since 1976 to build a nuclear weapon. If the Israelis hadn't bombed the Osirak reactor in 1981, and if America hadn't responded to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, Saddam Hussein would now have an atomic weapon. Thus the question is "whether we would be willing to risk sacrificing New York--or Tel Aviv, or the Saudi oil fields--to save Kuwait, Jordan, or Syria." As Pollack remarks, "Saddam's foreign policy history is littered with bizarre decisions, poor judgment, and catastrophic miscalculations. . . . His track record argues that if we allow him to acquire nuclear weapons, we are likely to find ourselves in a new crisis . . . in which we will not be able to predict what he will do, and his personality and his history can only lead us to expect the worst. Leaving Saddam free to acquire nuclear weapons and then hoping that in spite of his track record he can be deterred would be a terrifically dangerous gamble."
There are at least three problems here. First and most crucially, the risk that someone will in the future be able to deter us from deterring him does not justify military action against him now. Such action would be preemptive or preventive, not defensive, war. I've explained the problems with that.
Second, if Saddam can be deterred, then he can be deterred from deterring us to deter him. That is to say, his ability to deter us depends upon his willingness to absorb a nuclear hit as the inevitable price of inflicting one upon us. So the attempt to shift the discussion from his deterrability to our own fails. As the passage above unwittingly admits when it returns to the question of Saddam's deterrability in the end.
The question, in other words, is whether Saddam would be willing to risk sacrificing Baghdad in order to force us to sacrifice New York, etc., in order to save Kuwait, etc.
And third, Saddam probably can be deterred at least from using WMDs himself. Why else has he not been using the ones that we insist he's been hiding from us? At the very least, we have nothing approaching moral certainty that he can't be deterred from using them.
The necessary exception to, or rather qualification of, this last point turns on the word "himself." If Saddam slipped WMDs to the terrorists we seem to know he's harboring, those terrorists could use the WMDs against us, with perhaps some degree of "plausible deniability" of Saddam's role. This is why I have been saying that to me, the case for war turns especially on the Saddam-terrorist link.
"ANKARA, Turkey — With Washington warning that time is running short, the United States and Turkey failed again Wednesday to agree on a plan to let U.S. forces deploy for a northern front against Iraq. ..." more
"UNITED NATIONS — The United States and Great Britain will soon introduce a new Security Council resolution demanding that Saddam Hussein disarm, probably with a concrete deadline. ..." more
"PARIS — Secretary of State Colin Powell on Wednesday said countries like France that oppose swift military action against Iraq are afraid of upholding their responsibility to disarm Baghdad by force. ..." more
"WASHINGTON — Any Iraqis involved in attempts to use civilians as human shields during U.S. military operations would be punished as war criminals, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Wednesday. ..." more
"BAGHDAD, Iraq — Saddam Hussein said Wednesday that Iraq doesn't want war with the United States, but peace cannot be kept at the expense of 'our independence, our dignity' and freedom. ..." more
"WASHINGTON — A coalition of groups opposed to a U.S.-led war in Iraq will have supporters call, fax and e-mail the White House and Congress next week in an effort to overwhelm switchboards and catch the attention of political leaders. ..." more
"ROME, FEB. 19, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See says there are still many peaceful ways left to impose disarmament on Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. ..." more
"VATICAN, Feb 19, 03 (CWNews.com) -- Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican Secretary of State, believes that military action against Iraq can still be avoided through of diplomatic means. ..." more (subscription required)
"VATICAN CITY, FEB. 19, 2003 (Zenit.org).- British Prime Minister Tony Blair is one of the many direct contacts John Paul II is pursuing in his efforts to ensure a peaceful solution to the Iraqi crisis. ..." more
"CINCINNATI — Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge on Wednesday launched the 'Ready Campaign' — a citizen preparedness effort aimed at teaching Americans what they can do to protect themselves in case of a terror attack ..." more
"WASHINGTON — Civil liberties and Arab-American groups on Tuesday filed a Supreme Court appeal to try to halt the federal government's surveillance activities against U.S. residents suspected of ties to terror activities. ..." more
"WASHINGTON — The Homeland Security bill that passed Congress last November included a provision to allow pilots to carry guns in the cockpit ..." more
"OSLO, Norway — The leader of a Kurdish Islamic guerrilla group operating in northern Iraq was ordered out of Norway on Wednesday for what immigration officials called 'a threat to national security' due to alleged Al Qaeda links. ..." more
"SEOUL, South Korea — In the past month, U.S. spy satellites have detected smoke rising from the once shuttered buildings clustered around a loop of North Korea's Kuryong River. Trucks arrived and departed, and workers bustled. ..." more
"WASHINGTON — The State Department says there is a flowering of democracy in Iran that sets it apart from Iraq and North Korea, the two other members of President Bush's 'axis of evil.' ..." more
HMS's Greg blogs some interesting developments regarding drug-free therapy for schizophrenia. I agree with him: "This is very good news." I'm not a (mental-)health-care professional, and I don't know anyone with schizophrenia. But I know that the drugs used for it aren't always very effective and often have nasty side effects. And I do teach medical ethics, and I know that sad medical-ethical dilemmas therefore arise when patients don't want to take anti-psychotic drugs. Greg's post also reminded me of something I saw on Book TV last spring:
Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill from May 12, 2002
From the Arthur M. Sackler Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts, author Robert Whitaker talks about his new book, "Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill." In it, the author explores the business of treating and caring for the mentally ill in the United States. Mr. Whitaker chronicles the treatment of the mentally ill over the last three hundred years and explores the issue why the United States has one of the lowest successful-treatment rates of schizophrenia in the world. After the presentation the author answered questions from members of the audience.
I wonder whether Greg knows this book, and if so, what he thinks of it?
"OSAMA BIN LADEN, or some good likeness of him, spoke from the ether again on two occasions last week, releasing two undated audiotapes as Muslims completed their pilgrimages to Mecca. His call to Jihad did not stop at tying himself to Iraq's people ..." more
"EVERY SO OFTEN, news is made that tells a story larger than first appears. That happened earlier this month when the Education Department issued a four-page document titled 'Guidance on Constitutionally Protected Prayer in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools.' ..." more
The first reading in today's Office tells us, "Wisdom has built her house, she has set up her seven columns ..." What are these "seven columns"? In the second reading, Procopius of Gaza suggests:
To man who was made in the image of Christ when the rest of creation was completed, Wisdom gave the seven gifts of the Spirit to enable him to believe in Christ and to keep his commandments. By means of these gifts the spiritual man grows and develops until, through firm faith and the supernatural graces he receives, he finally reaches maturity. Knowledge stimulates virtue and virtue reflects knowledge. The fear of the Lord, understanding and knowledge give true orientation to his natural wisdom. Power makes him eager to seek understanding of the will of God as revealed in the laws by which the entire creation is governed. Counsel distinguishes these most sacred and eternal laws of God from anything opposed to them; for these laws are meant for man to ponder, to proclaim, and to fulfill. Insight disposes man to embrace these expressions of God's will and to reject whatever contravenes them.
Want to lead a wise, moral life? Pray: "Come, Holy Spirit!" Cooperate with the abundant gifts he will bestow.
"... Perhaps, Oppenheim said Tuesday, supervisors will postpone a final decision until after the proposed debate. He declared himself 'disappointed and confused by the dissent' over the translucent sculpture. ..." more
I think I'm going to install a PayPal button and take up a collection to get this guy a clue.
I've been following this story with special interest, by the way, since Walker, an old friend of mine, took up the anti-ugly-"art" cause. Amazing to see someone sane running Milwaukee County.
"PITTSBURGH — A Ku Klux Klan member charged with making explosives planned to blow up abortion clinics and told an informant he altered his car into a 'suicide bomb on wheels,' prosecutors said Tuesday. ...
"Dwight Hull, 71, testified that he would be willing to watch his son if he is granted bond. He said he had seen cross burnings on the property, but didn't inquire about them. When asked by Assistant U.S. Attorney Margaret E. Picking if he was familiar with his son's beliefs, Hull replied: 'We do not discuss them.'
"David Hull's neighbor, the Rev. Bruce J. Bandel, also said he would be willing to monitor Hull. He said he didn't believe Hull was a threat to the community." more
Iraq/Gulf, terror, N. Korea spy, cold India-Pakistan war
"WASHINGTON — The U.S. and its allies are pressing the U.N. Security Council for a second resolution authorizing war with Iraq, and they'd like to see it passed in a matter of days -- despite staunch resistance from countries in opposition to a possible war. ..." more
"BRUSSELS, Belgium — Days after ending a stalemate over planning for an Iraq war, NATO on Wednesday approved the deployment of AWACS radar aircraft, Patriot missile systems and chemical-biological response units to Turkey. ..." more
So our ships will be safe - unless al-Qaeda can somehow get its hands on a bucket of fish: "MANAMA, Bahrain — Move over Navy SEALs: There's a new sea creature in town. ..." more
"WASHINGTON — U.S. authorities recovered a list of 20 financiers they suspect funneled money to Usama bin Laden and others extremist Muslim causes among a cache of documents that provide insight into the financing of terrorism ..." more
"HAMBURG, Germany — A Moroccan accused of aiding the Sept. 11 suicide hijackers faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted in the first trial anywhere of a suspect in the plot to attack the United States. ..." more
Don't recall hearing about this case before: "CASABLANCA, Morocco — A prosecutor on Tuesday sought the death penalty for three alleged members of the Al Qaeda terrorist network from Saudi Arabia who are accused of plotting to attack U.S. and British ships in the Strait of Gibraltar. ..." more
They'll either railroad the innocent to make it look like they're serious, or kill the guilty quickly to forestall a real investigation that might turn up the House of Saud's dirty little secrets: "RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia, facing U.S. criticism for laxness on fighting terrorism, said Tuesday it has referred 90 Saudis to trial for alleged Al Qaeda links and that 250 Saudi suspects were under investigation. ..." more
Enemy spies must register with Feds: "LOS ANGELES — A federal grand jury indicted a snack shop owner Tuesday for failing to tell the government he was working as an agent for North Korea, officials said. ..." more
"NEW DELHI, India — India on Wednesday ruled out meeting with Pakistan at next week's Non-Aligned Movement summit as the chill in relations between the two countries showed no signs of thawing. ..." more
"SOUTH BEND, Indiana, Feb 18, 03 (LSN.ca/CWNews.com) - Administrators at Saint Mary's College in South Bend are now saying that the $1,700 used to send four students and one faculty member to a pro-abortion rally was wrong. ..." more (subscription required)
(See also Mark Shea's posts here, here, and here about this.)
"VATICAN CITY, FEB. 18, 2003 (Zenit.org).- To ensure Europe's recognition of religious groups, the Catholic Church would like to see three fundamental points addressed in the continent's future Constitution, says the Vatican's secretary of state. ..." more
I blogged below that "based on Powell's speech, a reasonable person might conclude that the threat now posed by Iraq (via terrorists) is as morally certain as the one posed by Afghanistan revealed itself to be post-9/11; I incline fairly strongly toward that conclusion, so I am inclined to think that war would be legitimate (even as I continue to pray several times daily that it be avoided)." I meant it (despite one commenter's strange concern: "Now, you and others who would criticize the Bush administration on grounds of preemption seem to me that you would require that the US 'wait until the bombs have literally fallen or the armies landed' in spite of your denial on that score. After reading your blog, I have a hard time figuring out exactly what there could be short of that to pass muster with you"). And - assuming that means short of war of ending Saddam's ability to give weapons to al-Qaeda have been exhausted - I don't take it back.
That said, though, not all arguments for war are cogent. Enter Michael Novak.His latest NRO essay falls short on several points. For instance, he says that "the Catechism of the Catholic Church lays down as a fundamental principle of its method of thinking about morally obligatory wars that, in the end, the last responsibility for making decisions falls on public authorities — lay persons, not clerics. Weighing the circumstances of whether to go to war or not falls upon the prudence of those responsible for the common good [See #2309]."
What 2309 says is, simply: "The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good." The Catechism mentions neither "authorities" nor "lay persons" nor "clerics." Why not? It must first be kept in mind that the Catechism speaks of "the evaluation of these conditions of moral legitimacy." Whether to go to war in a particular case is a prudential judgment, but there are moral - as well as political or other contingent - principles that govern this prudential judgment, within the framework of which the prudential judgments must be made if these judgments are to be legitimate. "Clerics" have something to say about these principles/conditions! They certainly have the right to observe that a government may seem to be making its prudential judgments about war on the basis of something other than "these conditions for moral legitimacy" - the ones mentioned in 2309 prior to the closing sentence quoted, e.g., requiring war to be a last-resort defensive response to "lasting, grave, and certain" damage. If a political leader's argument for war does not seem even to claim that this condition has been met, clerics - and others - have the duty to point this out, and to object to the argument.
Furthermore, to the extent that a prudential judgment is indeed called for, the matter is more complex than Novak suggests. Novak goes on: "In republics, these are the elected public authorities, that is, people like Berlusconi, Blair, and Bush, along with their parliaments, according to law."
But again, the Catechism doesn't speak of "authorities." And in republics, all citizens - elected leaders and their constituents - "have responsibility for the common good." Declaration by proper (elected) authorities is necessary for the legitimacy of war, but that doesn't mean that others lack the responsibility to argue for or against war on the basis of the evidence available to them (obviously on the matter of evidence some deference to political leaders' statements and expertise is necessary) and right moral principles, to try to persuade their fellow citizens and elected representatives.
What about "clerics"? Novak continues: "That was a muted point in the statement issued on the war in Iraq by the U.S. Catholic bishops last November. In fact, the bishops delivered themselves of a number of prudential judgments about key circumstances regarding Iraq, on which they have no particular grace, as bishops, to be certain they are right."
Of course, political authorities are not "certain" to be right about such judgments either; this is a red herring. More to the point, though, when bishops teach in communion with the pope, they exercise the share in Christ's prophetic office that belongs to the Magisterium - even though, obviously, in a non-binding way. And that being the case, one needs to take into account the CDF's instruction, which I've blogged before:
24. Finally, in order to serve the People of God as well as possible, in particular, by warning them of dangerous opinions which could lead to error, the Magisterium can intervene in questions under discussion which involve, in addition to solid principles, certain contingent and conjectural elements. ...
When it comes to the question of interventions in the prudential order, it could happen that some Magisterial documents might not be free from all deficiencies. Bishops and their advisors have not always taken into immediate consideration every aspect or the entire complexity of a question. But it would be contrary to the truth, if, proceeding from some particular cases, one were to conclude that the Church's Magisterium can be habitually mistaken in its prudential judgments, or that it does not enjoy divine assistance in the integral exercise of its mission. ...
So, do the bishops have a "particular grace, as bishops, to be certain they are right"? Of course not. But they do have a grace with which to cooperate in giving advice that Catholics should take into genuinely pious consideration. The Catechism neither says nor implies that this general principle is repealed when war is at issue. (Nor is there a violation of subsidiarity here, as some have claimed. If citizens of the nations that will be affected by war may and must contribute to deliberation about war - and this is in no way contrary to subsidiarity - then those citizens who are clerics are not excluded.)
With regard to the substance of the question about Iraq, Novak complains, "In any case, the Vatican itself encouraged the humanitarian intervention in Kosovo ... But in what way is the regime of Milosevic in Kosovo less horrific than the barbaric practices of Saddam Hussein in Iraq?" Another blogger wonders about this as well.
I don't think there's necessarily an inconsistency here. Milosevic's campaign against the Kosovar Albanians may have been much more clearly a military action - already the beginning of a war - than Saddam's human-rights violations have been. And the necessary military response to the Kosovo crisis fell short of invasion of Serbia and removal of its rulers. It was a question of keeping the Serbian army away from the Kosovars. For a good analysis of the consistency of and basis for John Paul II's statements on war, taken together, - including statements about early phases of the crisis in the former Yugoslavia and about the 1991 Gulf War (but not the Kosovo crisis or the current Iraq situation) - see the 1996 Communio article I've blogged before. I would say that our current protection of northern and southern Iraq via "no-fly zones" is more nearly analogous to (if quantitatively different from) what we did in Kosovo than an invasion of Iraq would be.
Novak later poses and tries to respond to an important objection:
"But there is no provision in just-war theory for 'preventive war.'
"Well, there is no provision for war by non-state actors such as al Qaeda, either. For future purposes, just-war theory needs some work, to account for suddenly existing realities."
I have dealt with such assertions below. Taken in themselves, they are simply utilitarianism. The point of "just-war theory" has not been, and cannot be, to "baptize" war whenever it would achieve some proportionate good. Protection of the innocent is part of justice and charity, but not the whole of justice, and still less the whole of charity. Novak simply fails to take this into account. He is arguing, not from "just-war theory" (still less from the Catechism's more developed view, more concerning which, in response to previously-commented objections, in another post in the coming days), but from a caricature of it.
Commenters were bothered when in a previous post noticing Novak's planned speech in Rome on Iraq, I mentioned Novak's record of dissent. The above-quoted claims about just-war theory occasion another mention of this record and its relevance now. Specifically, among other things, Novak has repeatedly asserted that Adam Smith's discovery that selfishness can generate economic growth requires the Church to declare moral an economy driven by selfishness rather than love (and has wishfully thought that Centesimus Annus has done this). Novak's current claim that, because non-defensive war could prevent terrorism, we must hold such war to be just, evinces the same non-Catholic, individualistic, utilitarian reasoning.
Note, again, that I think that if it has been shown (as I think it probably has been shown) that Iraq is supporting al-Qaeda, which has been and has stated its intention to remain at intermittent-but-active war with us, then war against Iraq would not be merely "preventive," and, hence, could be justified. But this is a different argument from Novak's.
Finally, for now, Novak, like others (including some of my commenters), claims: "The moral grounds for this war are quite traditional. Legally, the United States is operating under international law, under Security Council Resolution #1441 (and its 15 predecessors, to the same effect), which have kept the Gulf War of 1991 not quite closed. In international law, Saddam has been obliged to disarm, and to prove that he has disarmed (as other nations have been, from South Africa to members of the former USSR), simply as a condition of his remaining president, and as a condition for closing the first Gulf War.
"It was the solemn obligation of the U.N. and of the United States to oblige him to disarm by force, if he did not do so willingly, even before the dramatic events of September 11, 2001. One of the reasons for going to war under traditional just-war theory is to restore the rule of international law. For peace is not a feeling. It is the work of political action, mediated by law, to secure the minimum conditions of international justice and order. War is sometimes morally obligatory to restore the tranquility of international order."
This, I insist, will not do. Not every violation of "the tranquility of international order" is proportionately - justly - responded to by war. Justifications for war must rise above legalism. War affects the international sphere, and so the Vatican rightly insists on international (UN-mediated) deliberation about it. But mere international-legal approval is not enough. We went to war in 1991 (perhaps prematurely - the Vatican, it will be recalled, thought so at the time, and has not, to my knowledge, retracted that view) because Saddam had invaded another country (probably largely to get oil money to pay the costs he had incurred in his war against Iran that had ended not long before, and which he had probably begun much less out of territorial ambition than because of his concern that Iran would encourage and back an uprising against him by Iraq's Shi'ite majority). Despite our not having removed Saddam at that time, he has not, to my knowledge, invaded another country since. Nor, pace the excellent Peggy Noonan, would the accumulation of weapons by itself evince a certain intention to do so. That being the case, Iraq's failure to keep arms agreements cannot justify an active continuation of the 1991 hostilities - could not do so even assuming those hostilities were justified.
"LONDON — British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Tuesday that he believed public opinion in Britain would swing behind military action against Iraq if the government decides to take that course. ..." more
"WASHINGTON — President Bush said Tuesday that countries trying to extend weapons inspections in Iraq are attempting to give Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein 'another, another, another last chance.' ..." more
"TULSA, Okla. — Marine Maj. Craig Berryman can't shake the memory of his 37 days as an Iraqi prisoner of war. ..." more
"MANILA, Philippines — With or without weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein is a 'grave danger,' particularly to his own people, a former Iraqi nuclear scientist said Tuesday. ..." more
"WASHINGTON — A U.S. attack on Iraq would be a swift, powerful combination of airstrikes and ground assaults aimed at overwhelming Saddam Hussein's defenses and keeping him from mustering catastrophic retaliation ..." more
"ISTANBUL, Turkey — Turkey asked the United States to nearly double its multibillion dollar aid package as a condition for allowing U.S. troops on its soil in a war against neighboring Iraq ..." more
"BAGHDAD, Iraq — U.N. weapons inspectors visited five sites involved in the production of a banned missile Tuesday as rockets became a new flashpoint in the Iraq crisis. ..." more
"WASHINGTON — President Bush, often portrayed as using a strict good-and-evil compass to navigate national issues, has always peppered his speeches with exhortations to moral and civic duty. With war, tragedy and terrorism confronting him now, his allusions to spirituality and morality seem to be increasing. ..." more
"WASHINGTON — The Defense Department has activated more than 20,000 more Army troops to be sent to the Persian Gulf as the U.S. military buildup continues for a possible war with Iraq ..." more
"UNITED NATIONS — While the United States and Britain worked on a new resolution that would authorize military action in Iraq, many countries spoke out Tuesday against a rush to war and demanded more weapons inspections to disarm Baghdad peacefully. ..." more
"VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- After extensive talks with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, a Vatican envoy said he was hopeful that a new war could be avoided and that the work of U.N. weapons inspectors could continue in a climate of trust. ..." more
"VATICAN, Feb 18, 03 (CWNews.com) -- Cardinal Roger Etchegaray briefed Pope John Paul II on his mission to Baghdad, and UN secretary general Kofi Anan arrived in Rome for a meeting with the Pontiff, as the Holy See continued its energetic diplomatic efforts to avoid war in the Persian Gulf. ..." more (subscription required)
"VATICAN CITY, FEB. 18, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan agree it is still possible to find a just solution to the Iraqi crisis. ..." more
"VATICAN, Feb 18, 03 (CWNews.com) -- UN Secretary General Kofi Anan visited the Vatican on Tuesday, and spoke privately with Pope John Paul II for about 30 minutes, primarily about the crisis in Iraq. ..." more (subscription required)
"VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As the threat of a U.S.-led war against Iraq loomed, Pope John Paul II and Vatican officials met U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and held out hope for 'effective solutions' that would spare Iraqi civilians further suffering. ..." more
"VATICAN, Feb 18, 03 (CWNews.com) - British Prime Minister Tony Blair will meet with Pope John Paul in a private audience on Saturday ..." more (subscription required)
"VATICAN CITY, FEB. 18, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See is not 'pacifist' but rather 'peace-making,' says Cardinal Angelo Sodano when explaining the Pope's efforts over the past months to avoid a new war in Iraq. ..." more
"BAGHDAD, Iraq, FEB. 18, 2003 (Zenit.org).- A Catholic leader in Iraq says that Cardinal Roger Etchegaray's visit gave Iraqis a new view of the Church's commitment to peace. ..." more
"ROME (CNS) -- It was billed as a 'pilgrimage of peace,' but Tariq Aziz's visit to the tomb of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy, prompted as much political diatribe as prayerful reflection. ..." more
"When the Lord saw how great was man's wickedness on earth, and how no desire that his heart conceived was ever anything but evil, he regretted that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was grieved" (Gen. 6:5-6). Earlier in the story of creation, God looked at the work of His hands and took great delight in all that He had made. Everything that He had made was good and He found pleasure in its purity and goodness (cf. Gen. 1:25). As it came forth from the hands of God, creation proclaimed God's grandeur (cf. Ps. 19:1).
The generations that followed the exile from Paradise were not able to find delight in God's presence. They exchanged the glory that was theirs as the handiwork of God for pleasures that were base and disgraceful (cf. Heb. 4:7). People who once basked in light of glory now wrapped themselves in darkness and despair. Unlike their forbearers, they could not recognize the sound of God's footsteps (cf. Gen. 3:8). Their eyes were blinded by sin and their hearts were hardened like stone. When God encountered them, they neither hid for shame nor bowed in adoration. Their cold indifference caused God great pain. Looking down upon His errant children, He said, "I have longed to gather you into my arms and hold you close to my heart like a mother hen gathers her young under wings but you would not let me" (cf. Mat. 23:3,ff). St. Luke tells us in a similar setting, the Son of God was so overcome with sorrow that he wept (cf. Lk. 19:41). God's delight had been turned to pain and grief. The people whom He had made for Himself had abandoned Him to serve an image of their own making (cf. Is. 40:19).
The tragedy of the flood is that all of those people did not have to die. Had they followed the example of Noah and chosen to walk with God, they would have survived the flood. Human beings whom God had created to be the masters of earth, sea and sky did not discern the signs of their impending doom. The noise caused by the ark builders did not catch their attention. Had the only understood what they were hearing, or perceived what they were looking at, they might have repented and lived (cf. Is. 9:9-10). Like Cain, they were ill disposed towards the Holy One who created them. As a result, sin had ensnared them (cf. Gen. 4:7). The wages of sin are death and destruction (cf. Rom. 6:23).
The story could have had a different ending. Consider these words of Ezekiel the prophet. "Why are you so anxious to die, House of Israel? I take no pleasure in the death of anyone – it is the Lord Yahweh who speaks. Repent and live" (Ezek. 18:32). Some of the details in the story of Noah seem to indicate that God was not in a hurry to bring about the flood. God instructed his friend to build an enormous vessel that would require large quantities of supplies and took a number of years to build. Once the ark was completed, Noah had to trap and collect all those animals. Certainly, this menagerie should have attracted his neighbors' attention! Only after the rain started to fall did God close the door of the ark. Had someone asked to be allowed to board the vessel, God would not have turned him or her away. All who repented and turned their sights towards God would have been admitted. Sadly, they acted like the future sons-in-law of Lot who treated the threat of death and destruction as a joke (cf. Gen. 19:14).
God desires the salvation of all. However, to be saved the individual must surrender his or her will to God's. Salvation is God's gift to us and we can only receive it on His terms. We must be willing to confess our sins and to repent of all we have done. Then and only then can we enter the shelter of the ark.
The conversation between Jesus and His disciples as they crossed the lake might prove disconcerting to some baptized Christians. It seems possible that some people who are passengers on the Barque of Peter may still have missed the boat. Merely being in the boat does not guarantee one safe passage to the other shore. To test our purity of heart, Jesus looks at us and asks, "How do you satisfy the deepest hunger of your heart, with the bread of earth or with the bread of heaven" (cf. Mk. 8:15)? The bread of earth is that of hypocrisy and deceit. The bread of heaven is that of sincerity and truth. The bread of heaven will carry you across the storm-tossed seas of life and sustain you until you reach that other shore. The bread of earth will weigh you down and cause you to sink into the fathomless abyss. When the Lord of Life comes at the end of time, may He bring us to the other shore.
CMU jumps on pro-"affirmative action"-brief bandwagon
"Carnegie Mellon University will file a U.S. Supreme Court brief today on behalf of 38 private universities nationwide that say educational excellence hinges on diversity that can only be achieved by considering race in admissions. ..." more