A Peacenik Doesn't Quite Connect the Dots on the Repeal of DADT

That peacenik, Colman McCarthy of the Washington Post, laments the thought that ROTC will return to the Ivy League:

Now that asking and telling has ceased to be problematic in military circles, ROTC has resurfaced as a national issue: Will universities such as Harvard, Yale and other Ivy League schools be opened to Reserve Officers’ Training Corps since colleges can no longer can argue that the military is biased against gays and therefore not welcome?…

These days, the academic senates of the Ivies and other schools are no doubt pondering the return of military recruiters to their campuses. Meanwhile, the Pentagon, which oversees ROTC programs on more than 300 campuses, has to be asking if it wants to expand to the elite campuses, where old antipathies are remembered on both sides.

It should not be forgotten that schools have legitimate and moral reasons for keeping the military at bay, regardless of the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” They can stand with those who for reasons of conscience reject military solutions to conflicts.

Personally, I’m not sure why the Ivy League schools would want to reinstate ROTC.  Why raise up your graduates to get blown up in remote places when they can stay home and rule the roost from a civilian government office?

The thing that McCarthy misses in opposing ROTC is this: for a committed peace activist, what does it say about a group such as the LGBT community which made free entry into the military a top priority?  Doesn’t he remember the time when “good” people didn’t join the military?  Doesn’t he still believe that “good” people don’t join?  For someone who lived through the Vietnam War and watched soldiers come home to be spat on as “baby killers,” this has always been the surreal part of the campaign to repeal DADT.

P.S. My own church has a good number of peace activists in it.  Are they ever going to help answer questions like this?

Barack Obama's Birth Certificate: Abercrombie Starts Something Obama May Not Want to Finish

Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie is hopping mad at the “birthers” re Barack Obama’s birth certificate:

Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie said Friday the “dark side” is responsible for accusations Barack Obama is not or should not be president because he was not born in the United States. As governor Abercrombie is optimistic he will be able to quiet at least some of the questions surrounding Obama’s birth place.

“This has to do with the people in Hawaii who love him, people who loved his mom and dad. This has to do with the respect of the office that the president is entitled to,” Abercrombie said after attending the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl at Aloha Stadium.

But, as Hillbuzz points out, Obama may have good reason not to release it:

Yesterday, on Hardball, Chris Matthews asked a very obvious, rhetorical question:  ”Why doesn’t Obama just release his birth certificate?”.

ANSWER:  Because there is something embarrassing on it politically for Obama that he doesn’t want to have to explain to the American people, and the black community in particular…

Of course Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961.

But, there’s something on his birth certificate he does not want America to see, and it’s now down to a few options as to what that something is:

(1) His race is listed as Caucasian-Arab on the birth certificate, not as “black” the way he needs it to be to get away with everything he gets away with in life. Obama’s whole schtick is that he is black, not a Caucasian-Arab.  His mother was full Caucasian, and his father was only 1/4 black.  Most likely, his father was listed as “African Arab” on the race line below his name on that 1961 birth certificate.  When the child’s line was completed, it would have been recorded as an amalgam of mother and father, according to how they recorded mixed race births in 1961.  A full-blood Caucasian mother plus a father who is 3/4 Arab and 1/4 black would result in a child that is 50% Caucasian/near 50% Arab, but with a little black in him.

That’s not what Obama’s narrative needed to be to get him where he wanted to go (hence, the necessity of him marrying someone like Michelle Antoinette, who gave him street cred in the black community).

And that’s just the most likely scenario…

I’ve always said that Anglophone societies are especially inept at recognising mixed race people.  That ineptitude is a major driver behind the identity politics that dominate the scene in this country.  If this idea is true, it would send many people’s ship to the bottom, and Barack Obama’s would be one of them.

Cloud: The Resting Place

The Resting Place (Dove 62, 1978)

Cloud was the large (>10) British folk group whose main claim to fame was its ethereal praise and worship music.  The Resting Place continues in that tradition, up to Cloud’s excellent tradition of musicianship and composition as well.  Cloud was connected with the famous Anglican church Holy Trinity Brompton in London, better known for Nicky Gumbel and his Alpha course.

This album continues in a similar vein as their earlier works; however, like Achor’s later productions, Cloud shows signs of drifting off from what made them unique and beautiful to start with to a more middle of the road/pop sound. Nevertheless The Resting Place is an nice addition to their discography.

About this post

I originally became aware of this album via this comment on my Music Pages page.  The album was up on the ýlowek scavel-cronek blog until it ran into trouble earlier this year, and the YouTube “video” comes from their digitisation.  It’s one of their earlier efforts and isn’t the best quality, but I am grateful to them for it.

The performers:

  • Guitars–Weena James (12 and 6 string,) Sarah Dulley (6 string,) Philip Lawson (12 string,) John Spuring (bass)
  • Flute–Toby Littlewood
  • Clarinet and Recorder–Kristin McLaughlin
  • Violins–Fiona Morgan-Williams, Christine Alford
  • Piano and Electric Piano–Cara Ruttle
  • Drums–Peter Thompson
  • Vocals–Christine Alford, Alan Bell, Sarah Dulley, Julia Grant, Weena James, Moyne Lawson-Johnston, Philip Lawson-Johnston, Toby Littlewood, Kristin McLaughlin, Fiona Morgan-Williams, Chris Pemberton, Cara Ruttle, Richard Scott, Penny Somerville, James To

The individual songs:

  • A1 The Resting Place
  • A2 As The Sun Is High
  • A3 That’s All I Need To Know
  • A4 Jesus Alive!
  • A5 All I Know Is Jesus
  • A6 You Have Not Because You Don’t Ask
  • A7 Psalm 63
  • B1 His Love Has Found A Home In Me
  • B2 To Rest In His Love
  • B3 Perfect Love
  • B4 In The Shelter Of His Wings
  • B5 Praise Alleluia!
  • B6 We Love You Lord

Click here for all of our music offerings

Pat Robertson States the Obvious on Marijuana Penalties

But the Washington Post and others had to get out the brown pants after seeing it:

Television evangelist Pat Robertson has made inflammatory remarks in recent years that offend gays, Muslims and others, but a recent comment he made on his Christian Broadcasting Network was more notable for whom it pleased: people who want to see marijuana legalized.

“We’re locking up people that take a couple of puffs of marijuana, and the next thing you know they’ve got 10 years,” the controversial pastor said on “The 700 Club” on Dec. 16, in a clip unearthed by bloggers this week. “I’m not exactly for the use of drugs – don’t get me wrong – but I just believe that criminalizing marijuana, criminalizing the possession of a few ounces of pot and that kind of thing, I mean, it’s just, it’s costing us a fortune and it’s ruining young people.”

I saw this when it was first aired.  I think what he’s trying to get across is simple:

  1. The legal penalties for marijuana use are too stiff, and the prison sentences are too long.
  2. Throwing people in jail and disposing of the key is too harsh in many cases, and frequently counter-productive.
  3. Our incarceration rate is too high.

And, I might add, it’s not just our drug laws either.  We have too many laws of all kinds.  I’ve complained about our ridiculous incarceration rate before.

The sad part about this is that there has been no impetus about reducing the rate of criminalisation of all kinds of human activity in our country from either side of the political spectrum.  The only difference is what kinds of activity each side wants to criminalise, and many times Congress ends up criminalising both.  Maybe this kind of “across the aisle” movement will help things along.

Who knows?  Someday you may start your favourite video on Fox News or elsewhere and, in the ad segment at the start, be greeted by “No stems, no seeds that you don’t need…”

The Christmas Story: William Tyndale's New Testament

From here:

And it chanced in those days that there went out a commandment from Augustus the emperor, that all the world should be taxed.  And this taxing was the first, and executed when Cyrenius was lieutenant in Syria.  And every man went unto his own city to be taxed.  And Joseph also ascended from Galilee, out of a city called Nazareth, into Jewry, unto the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be taxed with Mary his spoused wife which was with child.

And it fortuned while they were there, her time was come that she should be delivered.  And she brought forth her first-begotten son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them within the inn.

And there were in the same region shepherds abiding in the field and watching their flock by night.  And lo, the angel of the Lord stood hard by them, and the brightness of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid.  But the angel said unto them: Be not afraid.  For behold, I bring you tidings of great joy that shall come to all the people; for unto you is born this day in the city of David a saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And take this for a sign: ye shall find the child swaddled and laid in a manger.  And straightway there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly soldiers, lauding God and saying: Glory to God on high, and peace on earth, and unto men rejoicing.

And it fortuned, as soon as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another: Let us go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing that is happened which the Lord had shown unto us.  And they came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph and the babe laid in a manger.  And when they had seen it, they published abroad the saying which was told them of that child.  And all that heard it wondered at these things which were told them of the shepherds.  But Mary kept these sayings, and pondered them in her heart.  And the shepherds returned, praising and lauding God for all that they had heard and seen, even as it was told unto them. (Luke 2:1-20)

“Jewry” is Tyndale’s term for Judea.

Who Would Be the Real Loser if We Pitched the Charitable Deduction?

I’m seeing more and more calls for the abolition of the charitable deduction, like this one from Martin Hutchinson at Asia Times Online:

At this season of goodwill, my thoughts immediately turn to that unsung hero Ebenezer Scrooge, and this year, in view of the subject’s topicality, to his possible thoughts on today’s major economic policy problem in the United States of tax reform and budget deficit reduction.

One thing immediately springs to mind: he would wish to eliminate the income tax deduction for charitable contributions. Old Ebenezer would in this case be magnificently right.

But who would suffer?

For Christians, the first thought is simple: churches and parachurch organisations.  But maybe not.  Consider this:

Private contributions represented $144 billion, 12% of charitable income, government grants and payments totaled $351 billion, private payments for services represented $590 billion, investment income $81 billion and other income $30 billion. Private contributions were most important in arts and environmental charities, representing over 40% of funding for those sectors (albeit only $19 billion in total) while they represented only 2% for funding for healthcare charities, for example.

The differences in charitable giving between bottom and top-income brackets are striking. For example, 41% of charitable donations directed at the poor come from those earning less than $100,000 (almost none of whom itemize deductions), whereas only 14.6% come from the really rich, with incomes over $1 million. The really rich direct 21% of their charitable donations to the poor, directly or indirectly, compared with 30% for the population as a whole.

Although this doesn’t answer the question directly, it’s obvious that the main beneficiaries of the deduction are major donors, mostly wealthy people.  Churches and charities who derive the bulk of their income from small donors would not be affected as much.  That includes most churches and parachurch organisations in the Evangelical world.  Those who cater to a higher income stratum (like TEC) would have another experience altogether.

Another interesting set of statistics is this:

Employment in the charitable sector is highest in the District of Columbia, with 16.3% of its workforce employed in that sector, then Rhode Island with 13.6%, then New York with 13.3%. At the other end of the scale, Nevada has the lowest charitable employment, at 1.8%, followed by South Carolina, Louisiana and Mississippi, followed by Texas with 4.1% employed by the charitable sector. Colorado, California and Florida are all towards the low end of the scale.

Immediately one fact jumps out at you from this comparison: charitable employment is strongly inversely correlated with economic growth. While there is only a modest correlation between charitable activity and income (Rhode Island is close to the national median income per capita, below Louisiana and Texas) the jurisdictions that have shown the most robust economic growth in the last 30 years are those where charities are least active.

Many of the states Hutchinson lists as “low charity” states are also Southern and “Bible Belt” states: SC, TX, MS, LA, etc.  That also includes Colorado, home to Focus on the Family and other organisations which are largely refugees from the People’s Republic of California (which also is low on the list).

When the Obama Administration attempted to reduce the charitable deduction, the organisations that defeated it were the “liberal” charities.  Those on the other side didn’t have the pull in the Congress now expiring (praise be to God!) to stop it.

This is another one of those issues where the political dynamics are counterintuitive, and that needs to be kept in mind when the next run against the charitable deduction takes place.

Gloria in excelsis Deo. Now Let's Get That Pronunciation Right!

Christmas is a time when many “traditions” (that word has worn with use in our culture) get hauled out and paraded.  Some, like standing out in the elements on Black Friday morning waiting for the store to open at 0500 (or earlier) could be dispensed with, especially with the internet, where we could do Black Friday in our pyjamas.  (Then again, there are those who stand out in the elements in their pyjamas…)

One good one is Christmas music, especially those songs with a long heritage.  Our culture has a knack of dumping the best in our civilisation, but many of the songs we sing–or at least let Mannheim Steamroller perform for us–have a long pedigree, either as “classical” music or in our folk traditions.  Many of them were first written in other languages and made their way into English translation while no one was looking.  But even these sometimes get trotted out in their original tongue.

Many of you who have waded through the prose on this blog have probably figured out that I a) took Latin as part of my education and b) enjoyed it way too much.  Both being the case, I want to use this festive season to pick a bone with a large portion of Christianity and some others as well.  I think it’s time that we pitch this so-called “ecclesiastical” pronunciation of Latin which plagues such classics as “Veni, Veni, Emmanuel,” (O Come, O Come, Emmanuel) “Adeste Fideles,” (O Come, All Ye Faithful) and part of “Angels We Have Heard on High” and pronounce the language the way the Romans did when Our Lord actually laid in the manger in swaddling clothes.

Latin has persisted on the earth for nearly three millennia now; it’s unsurprising that changes in the pronunciation took place.  Although there are many pronunciations of the language, two stand out: the so-called “ecclesiastical” pronunciation that the Roman Catholic church in enamoured with, and the “classical” pronunciation that is a reasonable reconstruction of the way it was said during the Republic and Empire (or at least the best parts of both.)  If you’re interested in more details (but not too many), you can read this excellent presentation by Dr. Michael Covington at the University of Georgia.  The Roman Catholics never stopped using Latin in their liturgy (although things didn’t look good in the 1960’s and 1970’s) but that didn’t obscure the fact that they had allowed changes that started in the Late Empire (when things really didn’t look good) to alter the way the language was pronounced.

The simplest example of this is the refrain to “Angels We Have Heard on High”.  We’re used to pronouncing the c in “excelsis” like “ch” but in reality all c’s in Classical Latin were hard c’s like a k, so it should come out like “exkelsis”.  That underscores another advantage of the Classical pronunciation: it was consistently phonetic, which is more than later Latin (to say nothing of the idiotic situation we have in English) could manage.

It’s tempting for me to say that this should be pronounced the way the angels did that first Christmas, but that butts into another problem: the Vulgate actually states that their proclamation was “Gloria in altissimis Deo, et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis”. (Luke 2:14)  In addition to sending the whole Christmas carol to the bottom, the literal translation of this is “Glory to God in the highest, and in the earth peace to men of good will”, which also throws cold water on the univeralist interpretation of the “traditional” KJV.

But that’s what happens when you get back to the source: you find the truth.  We need to revert to the pronunciation of Cicero, Caesar, and Tertullian. That’s the way, at least, I’ve always pronounced Latin when the occasion called for it.  That includes every time I said the Pater Noster.  Well, you ask, didn’t anyone call you on this?

I got out in time.  Have a Merry Christmas!

The Ten Weeks: Weeks Two and Three (20 December-2 January): A Lovely Catholic Confession, An Ugly Secularist Rejoinder

The setting of the novel The Ten Weeks was exactly forty years ago. This is one of a series of excerpts from the novel, one for each week (except for Weeks Two and Three, which were combined).

Click here for more information on the book, including the new e-book version.

The Sacred Heart Cathedral was the oldest Catholic church of any kind on the Island; the original structure dated back to the 1870’s, and the Cathedral was preparing for its centennial. It was rather small for a cathedral, and although quaint it had none of the architectural beauty of St. Sebastian’s over on Point Collina, which Lucian Gerland built in part to make up for the Cathedral’s shortcomings. Nevertheless the Cathedral had one unique adjacent feature: the Island’s only completely Catholic cemetery, which was the final resting place for many Catholics who came and laboured in a land which always looked at Roman Catholicism as an aberration in the general scheme of things.

Madeleine found the transition from deft handling of a tennis racquet to handling a cane easier on her physically than her pride, but going to the Cathedral meant that she saw few of her Catholic schoolmates, most of whom went to St. Sebastian’s. She managed to genuflect upon entry with her family and then made her way towards the confessional boxes, which had a reasonably short line. Behind her was Raymond, who knew he needed forgiveness—from God and his family—more than his sister did.

This evening she insisted upon wearing a veil on her head in the old Catholic tradition, even though this had been discarded by most of the women in the Cathedral. As she stood waiting for her turn in the box, Pierre turned to Yveline and said, “She looks just like you did when you were young and going to Mass.”

“Her dress is considerably shorter than mine was,” Yveline noted.

“Young men do have some advantages these days,” Pierre said. Her illness had obviously not dimmed her focus on outfit coordination, with her white dress and matching stockings and shoes which exuded a message somewhere between the angelic and the sensual. The way she carried herself, accentuated by the cane, tended to shift the scene towards the angelic.

The cane did help steady her through the entry, exit and kneeling of the confessional box, as it had on the steps that led into the Cathedral. She emerged shortly, followed even more shortly by Raymond (“He must have given the executive version,” Pierre dryly noted later.) They returned to their pews towards the back to join their parents, where they prayed as they waited for Mass to begin.

The Cathedral’s conduct of the Mass was about as eclectic of a business as Madeleine’s outfit. The Novus Ordo Missae had been introduced into the diocese earlier that year, and priest and lay person alike were settling into it. The Cathedral’s music was still traditional, unlike St. Sebastian’s which set forth as much of the new music from the mainland as it could get through customs. The Cathedral was at its best at Midnight Mass, but one got the impression that the exhortations of Vatican II for congregational participation in the liturgy had a long way to go to realisation.

That impression was driven home with the people’s hearty response to Bishop Santini’s announcement that the Mass was ended. But the usual stampede for the door was braked by the conflagration outside. The des Cieux were a little slower than usual thanks to Madeleine’s condition, but they managed to make their way around the edge of the crowd which had filled the narthex and spilled out into the street and ended up at the curb on First Avenue.

The focus of everyone’s attention was the large trash fire that was burning in the middle of the street. Obviously the subject of great care of its makers, it burned white and hot in the cool Christmas Eve night which had turned to Christmas Day.

The des Cieux ended up standing next to Father Moore, who attempted to compensate his short visit to Madeleine as she lay ill by standing next to her family admiring the bonfire before them.

“What is this? Why is there a fire in the street?” Moore asked.

“It is a Yule Fire,” Madeleine replied without emotion. “They have set it to remind us of what they want this holiday to be.”

“Yule Fire. . .isn’t it supposed to be a ‘Yule Log?’” Moore came back.

“It is the best this place can manage,” Pierre observed.

“Shouldn’t we call the police?” Moore asked.

“Why? This is not a hidden event. They know what is going on. They just don’t want to come,” Pierre stated.

“But that is their job,” Father Moore came back.

“Their job is to stay out of the CPL’s way,” Pierre said.

“The CPL is behind this?” Moore asked, surprised.

“You and Bishop Santini are slow learners,” Pierre sighed. With that the des Cieux turned away to find their car. As the fire started to go down, others did likewise to find that their cars were either stolen or vandalised. Now the frantic calls to the police began, and they duly arrived to go through the motions of taking the information so at least their insurance company would do something.

The 2CV was unharmed. “Papa, why do you think that they left our 2CV unhurt?” Madeleine asked as they puttered home.

“Maybe they didn’t think it was a car,” Raymond quipped.

Another Round of Ivy League Testing for the Republicans

As a follow-up (of sorts) to my post two years ago entitled Applying the Ivy League Test to the Republican Stars (Such as They Are), let’s look at this again, this time using the National Journal’s chart.

Although the NJ’s emphasis is on managerial vs. populist candidates, the educational pedigree of each can easily be seen.  As I’ve noted before, the US hasn’t elected a non-Ivy Leaguer to the White House since Ronald Reagan, and same trend is echoed in the SCOTUS and other institutions of power in our government.

That being the case, unless the Republicans nominate Mitt Romney or Mitch Daniels (based on this list), and assuming the Democrats nominate Barack Obama or another Ivy Leaguer (the Democrats are more consistent in that regard), the GOP will lose the 2012 Presidential election.

It’s unsurprising that the two Ivy Leaguers are perceived as the best managerial types.  But what about a leader?  They don’t run for President any more; the process is too bruising and our political system too insane for such people.  Leaders require followers, and we’re short on those too.

The only thing that would upset this “iron law” of American politics is a major disaster between now and then, a major terrorist attack or an economic calamity greater than the ones we have already experienced.  Both of these are possible, and given his “cool” response to everything else that’s hit him, Barack Obama’s comeback to such an event could well be his undoing.

In such a scenario, someone from the military (repeal of DADT notwithstanding) would be a strong contender, somelike like David Petraeus or Stanley McChrystal.  Both of these, I think, have at least some of their educational credentials from Old Ivy, so the iron law may even survive a national crisis.

Personally I think Mitch Daniels’ continuing presence on the list is a step forward, certainly an improvement over Mitt Romney.  Whether the Republicans would actually nominate him is another story altogether.  But at this stage I think it’s time that salvation came from somewhere else than Washington.

A Wiccan Proclamation of Anglican Success, as the Winter Solstice and Lunar Eclipse Coincide

Needless to say, the Wiccans are paying attention to the fact that this year is the first since 1554 that we have had a winter solstice and lunar eclipse at the same time:

“It’s a ritual of transformation from darkness into light,” says Nicole Cooper, a high priestess at Toronto’s Wiccan Church of Canada. “It’s the idea that when things seem really bleak, (it) is often our biggest opportunity for personal transformation.

“The idea that the sun and the moon are almost at their darkest at this point in time really only further goes to hammer that home.”

Cooper said Wiccans also see great significance in the unique coupling of the masculine energy of the sun and the feminine energy of the moon — transformative energies that she plans to incorporate into the church’s winter-solstice rituals.

My first thought was: she must be talking about the 2010 US election…

Later, the article does note one interesting thing about the year this happened last:

The last time the two celestial events happened at the same time was in AD 1554, according to NASA.

An otherwise seemingly unexceptionable year in recorded history, the darkened moon happened during a bleak year for Tudor England.

Lady Jane Grey was beheaded for treason that year, while Princess Elizabeth was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Mary of Guise — the mother of Mary, Queen of Scots — became regent of Scotland.

Things did really seem bleak for the Princess Elizabeth, and things didn’t get much better in the short term either.  Thomas Cranmer was executed fifteen months later.  But then things took a turn upward: she became queen four years later, Matthew Parker became Archbishop of Canterbury the year after that, the “Elizabethan Settlement” set Anglicanism on its way with a female “Lady and Governor” at its head.

And the pagans thought they had a corner on a “unique coupling of masculine…and…feminine energy”.

Now if the Anglican Communion could only see this happen again…

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