War is Hell, but is it Just?

Law and order may at times have need of the strong arm of force. Some enemies of justice can be brought to terms only by force. But force should be held always in check by law and order and be exercised only in their defense. Nor is any man law into himself. Pope Pius XII, October the 8th, 1947 Often, the first sign of a shifting stance on a position is marked by holder’s acknowledgement of the position’s possible theoretical validity, accompanied by an explicit or implicit rejection of any practical validity of the position.  This process is neither right or wrong,

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‘Aesthetic Witnesses’: Using
Beauty to Build the Kingdom

“Art must make perceptible, and as far as possible attractive, the world of the spirit, of the invisible, of God.” – Pope Saint John Paul II The quote above is taken from Pope John Paul II’s “Letter to Artists,” published on Easter Sunday in 1999. I’ve been reflecting on that letter in terms of the saint’s call, beginning in the late 1970s, for a new evangelization, and also in the context of young Karol Wojtyla’s cultural resistance efforts with the Rhapsodic Theater during the period of Nazi control of Poland. The more I reflect, the more convinced I become that

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Living in a World of Delusion, Part II

While writing my last blog entry, Living in a World of Delusion, I recalled an iconic scene from the classic 1999 science fiction film The Matrix. In the scene Morpheus holds a little capsule in each of his palms and proposes a choice to Neo. “This is your last chance. After this there is no turning back. You take the blue pill-the story ends, you wake up in bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill-you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember, all I’m offering is the

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Ireland’s Flagging Abortion Stance

The Irish Times recently hosted a discussion on their podcast regarding the effort to repeal or reform the Eighth Amendment to Ireland’s constitution. The Eighth was voted in by popular referendum 33 years ago by a 2-1 margin, largely through the influence of the Catholic Church.  The addition to the constitution reads: The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right. I don’t pretend to know

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Asylum Living

A good chunk of humanity is insane.  By a good chunk I mean a very big chunk, possibly the majority.  This isn’t hyperbole or poetic exaggeration; I mean quite literally that billions of people in the world are insane.  “Now hold on,” you may say, “a lot of things in the world are in pretty rough shape, but that is going way too far.  Maybe that statement shows that you are the insane one.”  Well, maybe so, but I’m betting my life that I’m not.  And not this piddly earthly life with maybe a few pathetic decades left either, but

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Mercy Is Not Accidental

Mercy as it is here contemplated is said to be a virtue influencing one’s will to have compassion for, and, if possible, to alleviate another’s misfortune. It is the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas that although mercy is as it were the spontaneous product of charity, yet it is to be reckoned a special virtue adequately distinguishable from this latter. … Its motive is the misery which one discerns in another, particularly in so far as this condition is deemed to be, in some sense at least, involuntary. Obviously the necessity which is to be succoured can be either of body

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War Is Hell

In 1622 Powhatan Indians killed 347 men, women, and children at Jamestown, nearly 1/3 of the entire colony. Fifteen years later at the Mystic River, English colonists and their Indian allies trapped an entire village of 600 Pequots inside their fortified wooden houses. The structures were set afire and the inhabitants burned alive. The few who escaped the flames were put to the sword. With each new wave of military technology, the scale of killing in war continually inundates the sensibilities of the past. Before the American Civil War, infantry fought at close range with muskets, one bullet at a

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Mercy Is Not Strained Part One

Pope Francis is now three years into his pontificate. He is a popular pope, but there are Catholics who believe his popularity has come at a cost. After many of his extemporaneous remarks as well as some of his more deliberate pronouncements, he has been roundly criticized for avoiding clarity and arguably even undermining Catholic doctrine, as though he views Catholic teachings as simply too much for people to accept and thinks that the nice thing to do is to blur or ignore some teachings and doctrines to make Catholicism more palatable for those he wants to win over. These

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Living in a World of Delusion

“You are here because you have failed in humility, in self disciple. You would not make the act of submission which is the price of sanity. .. You believe that reality is something objective, external existing in its own right. You also believe that the nature of reality is self-evident. When you delude yourself into thinking that you see something, you assume that everyone else sees the same thing as you. But I tell you Winston, that reality is not external. Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else. Not in the individual mind, which can make mistakes, and

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