Mary, Henry Adams, and the Catholic Mind

Ah, this is a beautiful post – don’t miss it.

Not beautiful in a POD sense, but beautiful in the sociological sense. It took me years before I finally “got” Mary and the language of Catholic piety towards her. There is a bit of a theological problem when it comes to the failure of the medieval mind to attribute mercy to the Holy Trinity – but it’s not a fatal problem, and in the end it proves not to be true, because it is the Holy Trinity Who ultimately gave mankind the Mother of Divine Grace. God knows that for most men, the most convincing face of mercy is feminine.

“Don’t Bunch”: FLDS and Intentional Communities

First, the good news of the day: The Supreme Court of Texas has ordered that the FLDS children be returned to their parents. Thanks again to the tireless efforts of The Common Room’s “Headmistress” for such thorough coverage and commentary.

But this comes amidst a tidal wave of bad news for Anglo-American civilization in the Year of Our Lord 2008. In addition to the kidnapping of 464 children by the Texas CPS, we learned that Great Britain is creating animal-human hybrids for research, Catholic agencies in England are being forced to end adoption services (as happened in Massachusetts in 2006), a California appelate court has banned homeschooling, the California Supreme Court has invented a constitutional right to same-sex “marriage”, and today we have news that New York will be recognizing same-sex “marriages” as well. The euthanasia movement continues to pick up steam, the popular media continues to degenerate into a hideous facsimile of Hell itself, visible manifestations of Christian belief have all but disappeared from our public places, the homosexualist agenda seems to be victorious everywhere, the old traditional songs at West Point Academy are going “gender neutral”, and for the first time since Ronald Reagan we do not have a viable presidential candidate who even pretends to be a social conservative. According to commenter and fellow Californian Mark Butterworth at What’s Wrong With the World:

“People, America is over. Buy guns. Practice shooting. Think about moving and starting businesses in remote places with like minded folks. Turn your ploughshares into swords. If you want to be free again, that is … There’s no fixing this country within its present structure.”

I’m inclined to agree, though I hope he is wrong.

But if there is anything to be learned from the FLDS debacle it is that certain kinds of counter-cultural communities – “intentional communities”, as they are often called – will not be tolerated by our new masters.

Dr. Thomas Fleming, a Catholic, surmises that the underlying hostility of the state towards the FLDS was the latter’s commitment to marriage. The teen pregnancy rate on the YFZ Ranch was no higher than an average American neighborhood: the main difference seems to be that pregnant FLDS teens were married, or at least believed themselves to be, and were committed to remaining married. I don’t believe for a minute that Texas CPS was morally outraged at polygamy or teenagers having sex. Polygamy, once correctly understood as morally licentious, is now seen by most as uber-traditional and repressive. That is how far we have fallen. No one who is saturated in the culture of American television sit-coms and popular entertainment – and that means just about everyone these days – is going to be prudish about something as old-fashioned as polygamy. No one who scarcely blinks at Bratz dolls or celebrity fundraising concerts is going to be particularly worried about teenage girls having sex.

I think Dr. Fleming is on to something, but he misses the mark slightly. It is true that the new regime is permeated with feminism, and it is also true that feminism is traditionally hostile to marriage, but today’s feminism has reconciled itself to marriage because modern marriage puts few restraints on the power of female sexuality. So it isn’t a commitment to marriage, necessarily, that upsets the feminist men and women who dominate the culture of Child Protective Services and, indeed, all government services at every level. What upsets them is anything that restrains, restricts, controls, inhibits, represses, or coerces the world’s most powerful social force:female sexuality. That is what lies behind their militant advocacy of divorce, contraception, abortion, and homosexuality – and their opposition to anything that stands in the way. Feminist men have long acquiesced to this arrangement because the liberation of female sexuality confers on them certain … benefits … which they very much enjoy.

That’s why the state of Texas does not remove children from highly promiscuous teenage mothers who are, after all, only exercising their sexual freedom. In stark contrast, the FLDS teenage mothers have sacrificed their sexual freedom for the vocation of motherhood and domesticity, which is the worst of all possible fates in the eyes of feminist women like Judge Barbara Walther, who saw nothing wrong with forcibly removing infants from breastfeeding mothers because, as she put it, “every day in this country, we have mothers who go back to work after six weeks of maternity leave.” The problem is not that teenage girls were having sex on the FLDS compound, but that these particular teenage girls were not given the option of leveraging their sexuality in the larger marketplace.

Back to the topic at hand. If we are to learn anything from the great “El Dorado Roundup” of 2008, it is that traditional, socially conservative communities which are thought to inhibit female sexuality will always be under the microscope and suspected of “abuse”. Individual families scattered about are not a threat because they can’t effectively isolate their children from mainstream cultural influences. They become a threat only when they form communities which are successful at keeping the influence of the world at arm’s length. This must not be tolerated.

There is something of an evangelistic, missionary spirit to modern ideologies, particularly feminism: their adherents must proselytize, and they are deeply offended when anyone is deprived of their liberating message. They feel compelled to bring this gospel of liberation to all children – to your children – because they fervently believe that “choice” is the essence of freedom and personhood, especially the choice of losing one’s innocence, and that having choices is the only thing that makes people fully human, and that the natural family is all about limiting the choices (and the humanity) of children. To such people there is truly nothing more scandalous, or more intolerable, than the presence of a person who has not freely and consciously chosen his own circumstances and is nevertheless happy.

Paradoxically, then, the regime of choice and sexual liberation will not look favorably upon the choices of traditional Christian communities. Such communities will be deemed abusive by definition. A few like-minded families might live together in close proximity without raising many eyebrows, but that is because they still breathe the same toxic air as everyone else; it is insularity that threatens and offends.

Therefore let Waco, Ruby Ridge, and El Dorado serve as warnings to Catholics who dream of rebuilding Christendom somewhere out on the prairie. Lydia McGrew summarizes the unmistakable message:

“It’s like they say about avoiding being a victim of a terrorist’s bomb: Don’t bunch.

These people bunched. They looked odd. They did odd things. (And polygamy is wrong, I want to add unequivocally.) They did them all in one place together. So they came to the notice of the state. And when a report, possibly a hoax, came in about a forced marriage of a teenager going on there, the entire group was torn apart and 400 children thrown to the winds.

Don’t bunch.”

The Will of the People?

Poll reveals a sharp regional divide among Californians:

The new Field Poll highlights the battleground for the fall campaign, showing the state splitting dramatically along regional, ideological and religious grounds.

The heavily Democratic urban areas strongly support same-sex marriage; 55 percent of Los Angeles County and an overwhelming 68 percent of the Bay Area are in favor.

By contrast, only 38 percent of the Central Valley and 41 percent of Southern California outside of Los Angeles are in favor.

Same-sex marriage also digs a chasm between California’s heavily populated coast and its inland areas; 55 percent of coastal voters back same-sex marriage compared with 40 percent in support inland.”

Tuesday morning

Lack of forgiveness can make you sick.

Texas FLDS updates: some good news.

Corpus Christi procession in Front Royal, Virginia.

Christine of “Laudem Gloriam” visits Lisieux, France.

Classical music online – New York City.

Classical music online – Fort Collins.


The latest California anti-spanking bill has died in committee. From today’s HSLDA e-mail update:

“We are very grateful to God to be able to report that AB 2943 failed to be passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee by the May 23rd legislative deadline.

God has used your phone calls and letters to the Legislature to bring this victory. As a result of our Action Alerts, many parents repeatedly wrote and called their legislators, sending a strong message encouraging them: 1) to let AB 2943 die in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, and 2) to dissuade them from considering writing any such “anti-spanking” bill in the future. Thank you for all of your prayers, calls, and letters in response to our Alerts on this bill!

This is a tremendous victory! Like its identical predecessor (AB 755) by the same author, AB 2943 is now dead!

AB 2943 would have had the practical effect of making criminals out of those who spank with an implement (i.e. inanimate object, such as a small paddle or ruler) in California, which could have resulted in prison or jail time and loss of children. We believe very strongly that this bill was an extremely dangerous attack on the rights of all parents in California to be able to determine for themselves what is the best way to raise and discipline their children. If this bill had become law, it could have ended up destroying thousands of families.

NO further action is needed on AB 2943.”

Preparing for peak oil

This article has been making the rounds:

“Convinced the planet’s oil supply is dwindling and the world’s economies are heading for a crash, some people around the country are moving onto homesteads, learning to live off their land, conserving fuel and, in some cases, stocking up on guns they expect to use to defend themselves and their supplies from desperate crowds of people who didn’t prepare.

The exact number of people taking such steps is impossible to determine, but anecdotal evidence suggests that the movement has been gaining momentum in the last few years.

These energy survivalists are not leading some sort of green revolution meant to save the planet. Many of them believe it is too late for that, seeing signs in soaring fuel and food prices and a faltering U.S. economy, and are largely focused on saving themselves.

Some are doing it quietly, giving few details of their preparations – afraid that revealing such information as the location of their supplies will endanger themselves and their loved ones. They envision a future in which the nation’s cities will be filled with hungry, desperate refugees forced to go looking for food, shelter and water.”

I don’t know much about peak oil, but one doesn’t have to be a radical environmentalist to understand that there are limits to natural resources. Fossil fuel may be technically “renewable”, but the jury is still out as to whether its natural renewability can keep up with our very un-natural level of consumption. I tend to think not.

But whether or not peak oil brings on a crisis of the magnitude described in this article, there will be hardships and adjustments to be made when a ready supply of cheap oil finally comes to an end. In my opinion the scenario need not be dire. We can make adjustments. The key – to get back on the old hobby horse – is to return to regional economies and societies.

Technically, we live out in the country. When we decided four years ago to “flee to the fields”, I really wanted a place much further away from civilization. But as Providence would have it, we ended up only three or four minutes outside of a small city of 7,000. Today that strikes me as a good place to be. The town is close enough to be a convenient source of supplies, services, and potential customers for our produce. And it is small enough not be a source of hungry, desperate, marauding and pillaging gangs in a time of crisis.

We will be forced at some point to keep more of our business and interests here in Orland. Presently we drive to Chico – a metropolitan area of 100,000 about 30 minutes away – five or more times per week. Between work, church, music lessons, and shopping we spend most of our money in another county. So do most people who live here.

The biggest challenge will be finding viable work close to home. At present, the opportunities here in town are slim. But I expect that to change as local residents re-direct their dollars, time and activities due to the high cost of commuting. Although many Orlanders work in Chico, a surprising number of Chicoans also work in Orland. If fuel prices continue to climb the Chicoans will opt for Chico employment, opening up positions for locals, and vice versa. Furthermore I expect that some employers will relocate to Glenn County where unemployment is higher and wages are comparatively low.

Eventually the large commercial farm operations, with their heavy dependence on diesel fuel to operate fleets of trucks and other equipment, may find that economies of scale aren’t what they used to be and will downsize. Combined with continuing increases in the price of food, we may witness a revival of small-scale agriculture and the return of the family farm.

In short, the consequences of “peak oil” or something like it may not be so bad. There will be hardships and re-alignments, certainly, but in the long run perhaps we will all be better off.

New e-mail address

Some of you may have read about the allegations against Catholic Online founder Michael Galloway. These have been unsettling, to say the least. Furthermore I have had quite a few technical problems over the last year with their e-mail service, and today the service is apparently down again.

If you have sent an e-mail in the last 24 hours, please re-send it to my new address:

This is meant to be a permanent change, and I apologize to all for the inconvenience.

County employees and material cooperation

Come June 16, county employees in California will be faced with a decision: Do I cooperate with the new same-sex marriage regime, or do I refuse and suffer the consequences? County administrators are now trying to figure out how to handle employees who refuse.

San Diego County has announced that employees can refuse to perform “marriage” ceremonies based on religious or moral objections:

“San Diego County plans to comply with a state Supreme Court ruling that allows same-sex marriages but will not force employees to perform the ceremonies if they cite religious or moral objections.

County Assessor-Recorder-Clerk Greg Smith, whose office issues marriage licenses, said he has informed the roughly 115 employees deputized to conduct ceremonies to tell him if they object to same-sex marriages.

Smith said he needs to know if he’ll have to juggle employees around or train more to handle what could be thousands of gay couples arriving at his office after the court’s ruling takes effect next month. He also said it would be unfair for any couple to have a person who objects to their marriage performing their ceremony.”

Los Angeles County, on the other hand, may take a hard line and require all employees to cooperate without regard to their religious beliefs.

County employees suddenly grappling with questions about formal cooperation, fundamental options, double effect, and intentionality are urged to contact Zippy Catholic immediately.

Democracy and Marriage

An essay titled simply “Jay Sekulow on ‘Same-Sex Marriage’ Case” was published at Catholic Online today. In a glowing introduction to the essay, Deacon Fournier writes that Sekulow is “the finest Supreme Court Advocate I have ever encountered”. Let’s hope that Sekulow does a little more homework before going to court than he does before writing embarrassing and uninformed articles for Catholic Online.

Sekulow writes:

“By a vote of 4-3, the California Supreme Court struck down a state ban on same-sex marriage – changing the definition of marriage by judicial fiat.

The decision is a disappointing one and represents another example of an activist judiciary that overreached by taking this issue out of the hands of the state legislature where it belongs.”

The definition of marriage belongs to the state legislature? Let’s see where that gets us …

“The California high court failed to uphold what the state legislature and an overwhelming majority of California voters clearly understand – that the institution of marriage is limited to one man and one woman.”

Wrong, wrong, wrong. The California state legislature voted twice – twice! – in the last four years to legalize same-sex marriage. Both of these bills were vetoed by our stuffed-shirt windbag girly-man of a governor out of sheer political expediency. ( Yes, that would be the same governor who now “supports” this ruling and opposes the Protect Marriage initiative. With respect to same-sex marriage, Schwarzenegger told a reporter in an interview last week: “I’m against it, but I don’t have a problem with it”. Seeking to clarify, the reporter asked “So you’re against it?” “No”, replies the governor, “I said I don’t have a problem with it.” Gotcha. ) If the California state legislature had its way, we would have been a gay-marriage state in 2005.

As to the “overwhelming majority” of California voters, the vote in 2000 was 61% in an election where Democrat participation was unusually low. If the Protect Marriage initiative were voted on today (assuming a balanced voter turnout) the margin of victory would be razor-thin – not an “overwhelming majority” by a long shot.

In Massachusetts popular support for same-sex marriage increased dramatically after the 2004 ruling, which stands to reason since most people tend to view the law as a proximate measure of morality. Therefore it is quite possible that here in California, where “the people” have been gradually warming up to the idea of same-sex marriage for decades, there will not be sufficient votes come November to amend the constitution. We shall see.

The problem with today’s so-called “conservatives” is that the rhetoric of democracy no longer serves the cause of faith, family, and traditional values. This, of course, was easily forseen by those who bothered to think ahead. Democracy only works when there is a social consensus that agrees with the truth. That consensus is eroding because democracy itself – in the ideological form embodied in Sekulow’s remarks – weakens the very notion of truth.

We need a new political vocabulary.

“What is stunning about this decision is the fact that the court overreached and usurped the authority of the state legislature and the voters of California.”

The same tired, useless talking-points again. The legislature is not on our side, Dr. Sekulow. And the voters could turn on us in a heartbeat. California is arguably a center-right state, but most of our voters lack serious political convictions and eschew what they see as “partisanship”. In November they will vote for the side which seems the least partisan and makes them feel good about themselves.

“The majority … simply does not have the right to erase, then recast, the age-old definition of marriage, as virtually all societies have understood it, in order to satisfy its own contemporary notions of equality and justice.”

Quite so – and this applies not only to Supreme Court justices, but to any majority who would dare “erase, then recast, the age-old definition of marriage”.

“The California Constitution says nothing about the rights of same-sex couples to marry. On the contrary, as the majority concedes, our original Constitution, effective from the moment of statehood, evidenced an assumption that marriage was between partners of the opposite sex.”

True, but this knife cuts both ways. If the majority of the people, or their representatives, voted to legalize same-sex marriage in California, the Supreme Court would be obliged to override the “will of the people” in order to defend the traditional definition of marriage which is implicit in the constitution. And what would the American Center for Law and Justice have to say about it then?

“How to define marriage must rest with the People and not become, as Justice Baxter in his dissenting opinion put it, an ‘exercise in legal jujitsu.’”

How to define marriage must never “rest with the people”. That’s how we arrived at this disastrous juncture in the first place. “The people” have already redefined marriage as a voidable, transitory business contract, for the subjective purposes of sexual pleasure and personal fulfillment, having no intrinsic connection to the begetting and education of children, and without any essential relationship to the health of our civilization and social order. There is no reason for “the people” to oppose same-sex marriage other than what someone has called “the yuck factor”.

I’m glad that most Californians, thus far, still have “the yuck factor” when it comes to homosexuality. But the reality is that “the yuck factor” is all that stands between California and barbarism. The natural and theological underpinnings of marriage have already been destroyed by champions of democracy like Jay Sekulow. When “the yuck factor” disappears – and our sick, degraded culture knows how to deal with “the yuck factor” – California will have become what most people east of the Sierras, quite erroneously until now, have long believed it to be, a paradise for sodomites and a land defined by perversion.

Rosa Mystica

“How did Mary become the Rosa Mystica, the choice, delicate, perfect flower of God’s spiritual creation? It was by being born, nurtured and sheltered in the mystical garden or Paradise of God. Scripture makes use of the figure of a garden, when it would speak of heaven and its blessed inhabitants. A garden is a spot of ground set apart for trees and plants, all good, all various, for things that are sweet to the taste or fragrant in scent, or beautiful to look upon, or useful for nourishment; and accordingly in its spiritual sense it means the home of blessed spirits and holy souls dwelling there together, souls with both the flowers and the fruits upon them, which by the careful husbandry of God they have come to bear, flowers and fruits of grace, flowers more beautiful and more fragrant than those of any garden, fruits more delicious and exquisite than can be matured by earthly husbandman …

Thus our first parents were placed in “a garden of pleasure” shaded by trees, “fair to behold and pleasant to eat of,” with the Tree of Life in the midst, and a river to water the ground. Thus our Lord, speaking from the cross to the penitent robber, calls the blessed place, the heaven to which He was taking him, “paradise,” or a garden of pleasure. Therefore St. John, in the Apocalypse, speaks of heaven, the palace of God, as a garden or paradise, in which was the Tree of Life giving forth its fruits every month.

Such was the garden in which the Mystical Rose, the Immaculate Mary, was sheltered and nursed to be the Mother of the All Holy God, from her birth to her espousals to St. Joseph, a term of thirteen years. For three years of it she was in the arms of her holy mother, St. Anne, and then for ten years she lived in the temple of God. In those blessed gardens, as they may be called, she lived by herself, continually visited by the dew of God’s grace, and growing up a more and more heavenly flower, till at the end of that period she was meet for the inhabitation in her of the Most Holy. This was the outcome of the Immaculate Conception. Excepting her, the fairest rose in the paradise of God has had upon it blight, and has had the risk of canker-worm and locust. All but Mary; she from the first was perfect in her sweetness and her beautifulness, and at length when the angel Gabriel had to come to her, he found her “full of grace,” which had, from her good use of it, accumulated in her from the first moment of her being.”

From“Meditations on the Litany of Loretto for the Month of May“, by Ven. John Henry Cardinal Newman.