May 21st, 2013Rome Versus Romance in “Romeo and Juliet”by Joseph Pearce
Yesterday morning I was interviewed on "Morning Air" on Relevant Radio about my new book, Shakespeare On Love: Seeing the Catholic Presence in Romeo and Juliet. The radio station has now posted the interview on-line:
May 21st, 2013Belloc, Chesterton, and the French Revolutionby Joseph Pearce
In my post on Friday (True Democrats are Not Democrats), I mentioned that I would aim to say a little more about the Chesterbelloc's misguided support for the French Revolution. For the time being, though much more could be said, I'd like to restrict my comments to my brief discussion of it in my forthcoming book, "Race With the Devil: A Journey from Racial Hatred to Rational Love", which I finished writing yesterday and which should be published in August.
Here's the paragraph about Chesterton, Belloc and the French Revolution:
Another important and beneficent influence that the reading of Chesterton and Belloc had upon me was a weakening of the Prussophilia that I had inherited at my father’s knee. Through my sympathy with Strasser’s Bavarian perspective, I had already begun to distinguish between Prussia and Germany, the former of which was now perceived to represent a belligerent and destructive imperialism. Now, in reading Belloc and Chesterton, I came to see European history through their anti-Prussian eyes and with their Francophile perspective. My sympathies swung from Germany to France, freeing me further from my previous ideological bondage to the Teutonic and Norse fetish. In Belloc’s view, which was adopted and echoed by Chesterton, France had always been at the heart of Christendom whereas the Germanic spirit had always been on the heretical hinterlands and barbaric fringes, threatening European civilization with its uncivilized presence. I have since come to see that Belloc’s own Francophile perspective suffers from patriotic bias and that his and Chesterton’s sympathy for the French Revolution and the secular Republic that followed in its wake is untenable and indefensible from an orthodox Christian perspective. At the time, however, the psychologically seismic shift from Germany to France was a vital move in the right direction, leading me away from all that is indubitably evil in the pride of Prussia and in its genocidal legacy.
May 21st, 2013Frankenstein: The Monster and the Criticsby Joseph Pearce
I was delighted and heartened to see a good review of the Ignatius Critical Edition of Frankenstein in Crisis Magazine. Here's the link:
May 19th, 2013The Demand for Social Assurance that Abortion and Sexual Evils Are OKby Colin Jory
Richard Kerley, of whose descent into schizophrenia and tragic death as a vagrant I recently told on this site, back in the late 1970s when abortion was still generally abhorred and abortionists were still occasionally prosecuted, made a very telling point. I remember the scene clearly: he was leaning on the piano in our living room. He observed that the greater the number of women who have (elective) abortions, the more demand there will be that abortion be legalized, because these women will only be able to dull their irrepressible sense of the evil they have done by demanding social assurance that it was OK. One can extend the point and say that the greater the number of mothers, husbands, and sisters there will also be who demand social assurance that abortion is OK, because of their wish to feel assured that their loved ones acted defensibly.
This same related-party wishfulness has been a strong factor in compounding the support for every type of sex-related evil which has become publicly respectable since Vatican II and Woodstock, from fornication to homosexual "marriage". I recall a friend telling in the 1970s of her experiences when trying to present the Church’s teachings on marriage to a school religious education class here in Canberra. The response was aggressive hostility from some (Catholic) girls: “My older sister/brother is living with her/his boyfriend/girlfriend because they are not yet ready to get married. Are you trying to say that she/he is in mortal sin?” “My older sister/brother and her husband/wife are practising contraception because they can’t yet afford to have a baby. Are you trying to say that she/he is in mortal sin?”
A few days ago I circulated by email my above account of Richard Kerley’s observation, in relation to an excellent article on abortion, “The Deed that Dare Not Speak Its Name”, in the Spectator (U.K.) of 11 May by Dr David Daintree, who recently retired as President of Campion College in Sydney, an orthodox Catholic liberal arts college. Dr Daintree himself replied with the following pertinent remark:
"I recall a meeting with the headmaster of the very evangelical St Andrew's Cathedral School [Sydney], who told me that the day after he preached against abortion he was deluged by complaints from parents, all of whom (he knew or suspected) were mothers or aunts or what have you of young women who had had abortions. He said too that it was a very middle-class thing. My daughter is a GP [medical practitioner] in a working class area: none of the women there, she says, countenance abortion.”
May 17th, 2013NEWMAN A to Z: SAINTS, INVOCATION OFby Joseph Pearce
You would not think it against the Gospel, I suppose, to ask for yourself the prayers of a good man on earth. Why then should you scruple to ask his prayers, when, having left this world and gone to God, he has become possessed of a far greater power?
All quotes from the Newman A to Z are taken from The Quotable Newman, recently published by Sophia Institute Press.
May 17th, 2013True Democrats Are Not Democratsby Joseph Pearce
It's a mark of my protracted absence from the Ink Desk that I am only now responding to a comment on one of my posts, dating April 8th, almost six weeks ago! The comment was written by "Ed" in response to my post "Tolkien and Democracy".
Ed's comment raises some very interesting questions about the nature of democracy, which warrant further attention. I'm posting Ed's comment in its entirety, my response will follow:
Tolkien a democrat?! Say it ain't so Joseph!
Okay, okay, I know you were not suggesting that, but the very thought makes me cringe! Tolkien was a Monarchist was he not? And a strong believer in the Old (Catholic) world, yes? I know about the guilds, etc, etc in the middle ages, but perhaps it's because of the revolution(s), but democracy leaves a bad taste in my Catholic mouth. To me it just spells the doom of the Catholic world of yore. A pox on it!
And speaking of the Chesterbelloc monster, while there is much from them that I admire, I have never been able to forgive them for their love of the French revolution. How two Catholics could so love a revolution tha massacred their fellow brothers and sisters and so persecuted their Church, and destroyed the world made by that said Church, is beyond me.
Before proceeding to Ed's skepticism about democracy, I'd like to agree with him about the Chesterbelloc's bizarre sympathy with the French Revolution. The Revolution was a manifestation of murderous secular fundamentalism, a precursor of the communism, Nazism and abortionism of more recent times.
I could say more about the reasons for the Chesterbelloc's misguided support for the Jacobins but such a discussion will have to wait until another time. For the present, I'd like to address Ed's suggestion that democracy should leave a bad taste in the mouth of Catholics.
As always, it's important that we define our terms.
Democracy means the rule of the people (Demos = People).
The rule of the people could be the rule of the Majority (note the upper case). This is not necessarily a good thing. Nazi Germany was the rule of the Majority (Hitler was voted into power) and the oppression by the Majority of the Minorities. The communist regimes in the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China were also governments ruled by the Majority, i.e. the workers, at least in theory (unlike the Nazis, the communists were never elected to power by the “Majority” that they claimed to represent). Communism was the oppression by the Majority (poor) of the Minority (rich). This form of "democracy" is tyranny.
Ironically, and paradoxically, modern western “democracy” is not always the rule of the Majority but the rule of a coalition of Minorities who use the political mechanisms to further their own sectional interests, through lobbying, control of the media etc. In such pluralistic “democracies” the Majority is often not only silent but impotent.
The rule of the people could be the rule of the Mob. This was the danger inherent
in democracy that Plato enumerates in the Republic. As one might expect of a philosopher of Plato’s stature his critique is unsettlingly close to the reality that we are experiencing in our own time. His wisdom possesses the timelessness that is attached to Truth.
In our day, the control by minorities of political mechanisms, such as the mass media, has led to the brainwashing of the Majority. It has also led to rule by the Mob of Youth, the most immature and naïve members of society, who are therefore the most susceptible to media manipulation. The thought that the very fabric of civilized society, essentially unchanged from time immemorial, can be unraveled overnight by the Mob of Youth, a teenage rampage, is the lowest and most ignorant kind of mob rule.
There is, however, a genuine form of democracy, advocated by the Catholic Church, which is known as subsidiarity. This understanding of society is rooted in the sacrosanct position of the Family at the heart of society. It protects this smallest of political organisms from the tyranny of Big Power. It calls for democratic structures to be brought closer to the people, i.e. closer to families, through the devolution of power from Big Government to Small Government. It calls for the devolution of power from undemocratic “democratic” institutions, such as the Federal Government or the European Union, and the restoration of real political power to local, regional and state governments.
I discuss the undemocratic nature of modern macro-democracies in my book, Small is Still Beautiful, especially in the chapters titled “A Democracy of Small Areas” and “Making Democracy Democratic”.
The problem is not democracy per se but the bogus democracy which is really a tyranny
May 16th, 2013BIG BROTHER PERSECUTES CATHOLIC VOTERSby Joseph PearceIn light of the recent disclosure that Big Brother has been using its stormtroopers in the IRS to target dissident groups, I thought that visitors to the Ink Desk should read this letter from the Director of Catholic Vote.org Education Fund. It makes for frightening reading.Dear CV Friend,It's true.The recent revelations concerning the illegal actions by the IRS targeting conservative groups compel me to speak out.
In July 2009, the Chicago IRS office threatened the CatholicVote.org Education Fund.
The CV Education Fund is our 501(c)3 tax-exempt entity, created to educate, inspire and mobilize Catholic voters. As you may know, 501(c)3 charities, unlike our sister org (CatholicVote.org, a 501c4 organization) are not permitted to intervene in any political campaign or to oppose or support any political candidate.
We never did.
But according to the IRS, an unnamed source provided them information, including an email that we distributed prior to the 2008 election, which prompted their ‘examination.’
The email in question was titled “Barack Obama on the Issues of Importance to Catholics” and it specifically disclaimed any endorsement or approval of any political candidate.
In fact, our email did not even offer our position! Instead, we used actual Obama press releases and news stories to provide voters information on his positions on the issues of “abortion, stem cell research, contraceptives, and gay marriage.”
We urged voters to gather the facts, and ended our email with this line: “Let’s have an informed electorate .”
For this, we received a lengthy letter with over 50 questions asking for everything from how many people are on our email list, bank account names, and our checking account numbers.
Yes, even our checking account numbers!
To properly respond to the IRS, we were forced to divert staff time and precious resources to pay for legal counsel. Over a period of weeks, we provided the IRS everything they asked for.
But we didn’t stop there.
As a part of our response, we cited the IRS code, which explicitly states that charities like ours are permitted to reach the public with a ‘pure issue message.’ Nothing in the law prohibits organizations like ours from informing voters about the positions taken by candidates for public office. Our 501(c)3 entity has never endorsed, supported or expressly advocated the election or defeat of ANY political candidate.
We argued that the IRS code is vague and standardless, and that no objective standard exists to regulate what might or might not constitute political intervention – thus opening the door to abuse. We told the IRS that groups like ours should not be subjected to arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement.
If they chose to fine us, we were prepared to sue.
The IRS ultimately chose to do nothing – they backed down.
Why is this important? Because the IRS scandal brewing in Washington D.C. suggests that their examination of the CatholicVote.org Education Fund could have been politically motivated.
Were we targeted for our political views? Who and what prompted the IRS to investigate us?
Did their investigation have anything to do with our “Imagine the Potential” viral video celebrating the gift of life, including the choice for life made by Barack Obama’s mother that was watched by millions of people? This video was released 5 months before we were investigated and received national attention including coverage on the front page of the Washington Post website.
Was the IRS investigation intended to intimidate us, or have a chilling effect on our future plans?
We may never know. But we are going to do our best to find out. Reluctantly, we have decided to retain counsel to evaluate the IRS’ conduct and determine whether we can take action to fight back against this abuse of power. We want to know who induced the IRS to come after us, or whether that was a pretext, and whether the IRS or any government agency was attempting to thwart our lawful issue advocacy.
This is America. Something must be done to fight back. What we are witnessing in Washington is disgusting and shameful. We are better than this. Those responsible should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
Thankfully we have thick skin, and some top-notch attorneys.
You can chip in to support our effort here.
But at least now you know.
And you deserve to know that we will always defend our right to speak the truth, and to provide you and every Catholic in America the resources they need to vote with an informed conscience.
Thank you, as always, for your ongoing support and prayers.
Brian Burch, Director
CatholicVote.org Education Fund
May 15th, 2013From Homeschoolers in Louisiana to a Prison in Englandby Joseph Pearce
I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. After two frenetic months of manic activity and almost ceaseless travelling, I can sense a respite on the horizon. Apart from speaking at a homeschooling conference in Charlotte, NC, on Saturday May 25 (which is, in any case, only a two hour drive from my home), I have no other speaking engagements until June 7.
Last weekend I was at a homeschooling conference in Lafayette, Louisiana, one of my favourite parts of the country. I sampled southern hospitality and cajun cooking, the latter of which included deep-fried oysters and alligator legs. I also had a taste of home cooking when a teenage homeschooler brought me some home-baked English-style scones. They were truly scrumptious and reminded me of my home across the Water.
Returning home to South Carolina, I have also returned home to England this week. Perhaps I should clarify. I returned home to South Carolina in the present, sharing time and space with my family, but I have simultaneously returned home to the England of my past. I am presently writing a full-length book on my conversion to Catholicism, which is provisionally titled, "Race with the Devil: A Journey from Racial Hatred to Rational Love". I am almost finished. Yesterday I found myself back in prision with my former self, serving a twelve month sentence for "hate crimes". Thankfully, a twelve month sentence, when revisited in the memory, only lasts a few hours of written reminiscing.
Today I am released from prison but embark upon one of the darkest and unhappiest years of my life, a chapter of my past which will form a chapter in my book entitled "The Gutter and the Stars".
I hope to finish the book within the next few days. Perhaps I might request the prayers of all Ink Deskers that I can glorify God in the writing of my story.
May 14th, 2013Strange Notionsby Dena Hunt
I seldom recommend anything, lest Murphy's law kick in, but this looks really, really good. Watch the clip at:
May 14th, 2013A Truly Catholic Educationby Joseph Pearce
Following my earlier post about Cardinal O'Malley's boycotting of Boston College's commencement in protest at BC's honouring of a pro-abortion politician, I thought I would contrast BC's abandonment of the Faith with the fidelity of Thomas More College, an hour north of Boston, the genuinely Catholic institution at which I am honoured to teach. The extent to which the students at TMC receive an authentic and bona dife Catholic education was epitomised in a letter handed to the college President by a student following her final exam. Here's an extract from the student's letter. It speaks for itself:
"When I arrived I was indifferent to the Catholic Faith into which I was baptized, but the great witness of friends and faculty has called me back. I cannot tell you how heartening it is to see you and all our professors at daily Mass. I cannot tell you how heartening it is to know that you believe in objective goods and desire them for your students."