RELIGION, NATION, MARRIAGE: THE LOYALTIES OF MEN
PRAY, WORK, STUDY, PROTECT: THE DUTIES OF MEN


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

SOLEMNITY OF SAINT PETER AND SAINT PAUL, APOSTLES, June 29: What is an Apostolic Church?



[first published June 29, 2014]



by Dr. David Pence


Every Sunday at Mass, Catholics stand to profess in the Creed that we believe in "the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church." What does it mean to say the Church is Apostolic, and why is the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul one of the ten holy days of obligation in the Catholic Church? The feast day reminds us that the Church wants us to reflect on these men and their office as apostles, in the same way we reflect on Mary’s Immaculate Conception or Christ’s Ascension into heaven. These are central truths that organize the way we understand reality and live our common life as a Church.

                                                       
Saint Paul
                                                                                 
Both Peter and Paul had their names changed in their encounter with Christ.  Saul became Paul and Simon was re-named Peter.  Christ the new Adam re-organized humanity, not as the blood sons of Adam and Eve, but now as a sacral brotherhood that would allow entry into the life of the Trinity. “Those whom He foreknew, he predestined to share the image of His Son, that the Son might be the firstborn of many brothers.” David drew Jonathan (the blood son of Saul) away from his own kinship claims to succession, into the newly anointed Davidic Kingdom.  So Christ configured the first twelve apostles -- all loyal sons of Israel -- into the new priesthood that would be the twelve foundation stones of the Church. Calling Paul an apostle a decade later showed that some vital aspect of the apostolic duties and office of the original Twelve would live on in other elected men through the ages. The joining of Paul to the apostolic office and his mission to the Gentiles gives evidence that the Church built on a highly localized brotherhood of Galileans was to spread all over the earth, and yet still be fully manifested in such crucial Catholic local forms as the parish Mass and the diocesan Bishop and his presbytery.

The fraternal relationship of Christ to his chosen men forms the living sinew of the new Temple, in which the presence of God will be carried to the ends of the earth. This is the sacramental order that the Church establishes as the central organism to reorder humanity under the Father. Holy Orders is the third of the sacraments which imprint an indelible mark on the soul; and, like Confirmation, it shows again how indispensable is the communion of the bishops to the Church’s sacramental order. Peter and the apostles live on in the pope and the bishops, and the bishop and his diocesan priests. These are the patriarchal fraternities that mirror the Trinity, and provide the Catholic framework for the baptizing of nations, and the public ordering of human beings necessary to prepare for the Second Coming.

To this priestly apostolic order are given particular powers to forgive sins, cast out demons, and definitively proclaim the message that God dwells among us and invites us to dwell in Him.  This priestly authority to beseech the Father -- to send the Spirit to bring us back in the presence of the Son’s sacrifice -- is the Mass. The priests have been given the keys to a mysterious "time/space machine" which binds dispersed humanity into the one Body of Christ.

                                 
"Crucifixion of St.Peter" - Rubens
                                                                       
It was Peter’s proclamation, not that Christ was the Messiah (a big deal in itself) but that he was the Son of the living God, that evoked from Christ His ordaining of the Petrine office. Christ did not award Peter’s faith. In fact, he told him clearly that Peter was not talking on his own. The Holy Spirit allowed Peter to profess the divinity of Christ, and upon that central theological truth was the Church built. The real rock is not so much Peter, but the accurate testimony of Peter that Jesus is God-become-man.  Christ is the cornerstone, and the apostles are the twelve foundation blocks. The keys are given to Peter to unlock mysteries in teaching, and unlock jail cells in releasing men from their sins. It is no mistake that the second reading of the feast day is an angelically engineered jailbreak for Peter -- recalling an earlier prison tomb that was evacuated so that hell might be harrowed. The priestly powers  are conferred, not on every man who chooses Christ, but on certain men whom Christ chooses.  Peter was not Superman dressed like a fisherman who burst out of prison to work miracles.  He was Peter who was led out of prison by an angel, and called out of his fishing boat by Our Lord. And that Peter was given the authority to work the miracles of healing the sick and, more importantly, forgiving men their sins.

Christ asked, “Who do men say the Son of Man is?”  Whenever Christ called himself the Son of Man, he was affirming his human identity. In Hebrew, he would have called himself the Son of Adam.  Peter, by power of the Holy Spirit, answers Christ’s directed question to the apostles about his identity: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” That was the instance the Holy Spirit spoke through Peter, speaking for the whole church with an infallible statement. We share that infallible authority every time we also comply with the Spirit, and read Scripture or profess the Creed together at Mass. It is all part of being an apostolic church with real authority given by Christ through the Spirit.

In these recent weeks of the Church liturgical year, we meditated on the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the Trinitarian nature of God on Trinity Sunday, and the presence of Christ in the Eucharist on Corpus Christi. Today let us give thanks and praise for the Apostolic priesthood that makes the bridge between those spiritual realities and our lives in the practice of our sacramental life.  

                                                       

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, June 25

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch


I. BREXIT AND THE RISE OF NATIONS

Citizens in the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) voted for Great Britain to leave the European Union. This was against the urging of the British Prime Minister who has resigned and the US president. It was against the advice of the cosmopolitan press and financial experts. The vote to leave was led by older voters and the working class of the English countryside. Scots and Northern Ireland, as well as the city of London, voted strongly to remain. A leftist-dominated Scotland will now probably vote to leave Britain and stay in the European Union. This will cause acute economic re-configurations. Long term it is devastating to the European project and its institutions -- the EU and NATO. The two foreign leaders who will cheer this are Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. The foreign leader most discredited by this action is Merkel of Germany.


II. ORLANDO TERROR

ORLANDO - A FAMILIAR SOFT TARGET FOR A JIHADIST OR A HATE CRIME AGAINST HOMOSEXUALS: We know the gunman was an excellent marksman. We know his father is misdirecting the narrative. He said his son (the shooter Omar Mateen) was upset that his three-year-old boy had seen a couple men kissing. But multiple witnesses have said Mr. Mateen was a regular visitor to the Pulse nightclub. He was not repulsed by the Pulse, and while not adapting a gay identity, he had no problems with male-male sexual contact for release. We need to see much more of the transcripts of negotiations. But what has been released makes no comments about the degeneracy of the club. When asked his name he stated: "My name is I pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi of the-Islamic State." Now that is a pretty clear identity and plenty of motivation.

The New York Times, the FBI, and  NBC have been quick to downplay his proclivity for same-sex relations. Almost all political officials have said this was an attack on "the LGBT community for who they are.” The FBI has said there is no physical evidence that “he was gay”. There are multiple witnesses to his homosexual interests but technically witnesses are not “evidence.”  There will also be some publicity seekers  whose lies will be used to discredit all other testimony. There is desire to paint this story as more hate crime and  less jihad.  But once the gay pride parade season is over, the obvious truth will emerge if there are men who will speak it. It will help if we understand the man who did the mass shooting has told us clearly why he did it. It will also help if we leave the peculiar modern western notion that same sex encounters constitute a “gay identity."  Along with 99.9% of all men who have regularly or sporadically engaged in such acts, Mr. Mateen would never consider himself or call himself “gay" and neither would his relatives.   It seems more likely that the Pulse club was a very well known, very soft target in which one killer could execute a maximum number of Americans in retaliation for "bombing my country" and in solidarity with the new Islamic caliphate of al-Baghdadi. He knew the place well and did not fear there would be a "let’s roll" response to thwart him. At one point he asked people hiding in the bathroom if there were any blacks among them. He said he would spare them  because they had suffered enough. As of now there are no reports that he made any distinctions of special animus in terms of sexual proclivities.

A homosexual nightclub (like the printing offices of Charlie Hebdo’s anti-religious pornography magazine) will prove to be an irresistible symbol of a depraved United States for ISIS propaganda. ISIS will spin this as a heroic single Muslim gunman able to kill fifty and wound fifty spiritually emasculated Americans. This model of warfare is much more deadly and repeatable than the highly coordinated, capital intensive attacks of 9/11 which required government level organization and funds. This was a huge loss for America.


III. THE NATIONS ROUND-UP

CHINA AND INDIA - PICKING SIDES, GOADING DIFFERENCES, LIVING TOGETHER: Getting these two civilizational nations right is what  the "tilt toward Asia" is really about. This review of Manuel’s new book is a good start. Anja Manuel, This Brave New World: India, China and the United States.

IS THE US POLICY TO SURROUND THE CORE CIVILIZATIONAL STATES OF RUSSIA, CHINA, AND IRAN? "In the coming era, the avoidance of major intercivilizational wars requires core states to refrain from interfering in conflicts of other civilizations." Samuel Huntington.

US fleet forward in Pacific. Apparently no one read Huntington’s book (Clash of Civilizations) about allowing regional powers their own spheres of influence in a post-bipolar world. The US is building up military forces against Russia on her land border to the West and against China on its eastern sea border. Both countries were attacked from these areas of US build-up in WWII - a war in which those two allies of the US lost millions more soldiers and civilians than we did. In the Mideast, here is a typical rather hysterical account of how "our allies" like Saudi Arabia are feeling abandoned because the US is not doing enough to restrain the hegemony of Iran. Hegemony is the state of dominance by one power in a region. It is a fairly natural state of affairs which can be acceded to by lesser powers (often called bandwagoning) or opposed (often called balancing) when allies are recruited against the dominant power.

ARMS INDUSTRY - TOP SELLERS AND TOP BUYERS: The top buyers are Saudi Arabia (by a big margin), India, Egypt, UAE, Australia and South Korea. The five top sellers are a who’s who in the UN Security Council: USA, France, Russia, China, and then Germany. Is there something wrong with this picture?


IV. AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY, DOMESTIC AFFAIRS, AND PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS

BODY COUNT - OBAMA AS MCNAMARA: In answering a June 12 question about why Islamic terrorism was not named as the enemy, press secretary Josh Earnest defended the strategic incoherence with this: "Obama's record combating terrorism speaks for itself, and that record includes a lot of dead terrorists." This reminds us of the worst days of General Westmoreland in Vietnam and the "body count" rubric for success. While there is no clear strategy it is true there have been a lot of killings.

From a Council on Foreign Relations report on death by drones: "As of today (January 2016), there have been approximately 550 strikes - 50 under George W. Bush, 500 under Obama, which have cumulatively killed an estimated 3,405 militants and 470 civilians." -Micah Zenko in January 2016 report on those killed by drones.

HILLARY AND THE SAUDIS: The Saudis got this quote offline in a hurry but they are big fans of Mrs. Clinton's campaign. They put their money where their mouths are. What if the state we need to declare war against is Saudi Arabia?

THE WAR CAUCUS: Fifty officials in the State Department sent an unusual letter to the president urging resumption of bombing of Assad government. While the president seems to passively welcome Assad and Russia fighting ISIS, there are plenty of dissenters in his government. This could be résumé padding for a job interview with a future Clinton administration. Mrs. Clinton has been much more hostile toward Assad than has President Obama.

IMMIGRATION REFORM NEEDED BUT NOT BY FIAT: The Supreme Court was deadlocked and thus a lower court voiding President Obama’s executive action to change the status of millions of illegal immigrants will not go into effect. The one best chance President Obama had to reform immigration was in his first term when he had both House and Senate majorities. No laws were passed at that time and thus he tried to do by fiat what he chose not to do by legislation earlier.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday BookReview: "Uncle Tom's Cabin"


[Doc Pence has long considered Mrs. Stowe's 1852 classic, which outsold every other fictional work of the 19th century, as the Great American Novel.

The masthead lookout, however, promises that a review of Farmer's nomination will swim into view next month "spouting his frothed defiance to the skies."]



             


Here are excerpts from an essay by Kelly S. Franklin (he's a professor at Hillsdale College):


In its first year of publication, Uncle Tom’s Cabin sold more copies in America than the Bible did.

The novel catapulted Harriet Beecher Stowe onto the world stage, and by 1854, only two years after publication, the novel had been translated into 37 different languages. Attacking the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which forced free states to assist in recovering escaped slaves, Stowe ignited the powder keg of popular sentiments surrounding the tragedy of American slavery. She gave us the memorable figures of Uncle Tom and Little Eva, and the daring escape of Eliza Harris across the floating ice of the Ohio River...

As a professor of American literature, I face a challenge every time I teach Stowe’s famous book in the classroom. Her stock characters, her melodramatic set pieces, and the moralizing of her narrator grate on 21st-century readers. Yet this strange, sensational novel remains one of the most important works in our cultural heritage.

Is it, we might ask, just an artifact of our history? Do we dutifully overlook Stowe’s imperfect artistry for the sake of the admirable (if dated) anti-slavery message of her book? But as we read it, we find that inexplicable power surging between the lines of her prose. "You’re going to hate it," I tell my students, "and then you’re going to love it."

So why do I teach Uncle Tom’s Cabin? I teach it not only because of its anti-slavery message, but just as importantly because of the way that Stowe delivers it. That is, I think Stowe’s great contribution to American culture lies not merely in rejecting slavery, but in the amazing narrative technique that deeply moved millions of readers. Stowe’s powerful novel works not so much by arguing against the evils of slavery (although it does), but rather by bringing readers face-to-face with a suffering fellow human being. In that encounter, she creates dramatic moments of empathy that—for Stowe—serve as the necessary foundation for any future social or legal action. Her approach, even a century and a half after slavery’s abolition, remains extremely relevant to us today, as we face our own array of moral and societal evils. Stowe offers a fundamentally democratic approach to solving national problems: we must first change hearts if we want to change laws.

                       
       

By the time Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, all the arguments for and against slavery had already been made. Legislators and thinkers on both sides of this divisive issue had used philosophy, economics, science, law, and even the Bible to make their case. But in Stowe’s mind, both argument and law had failed the American people, and the United States needed an approach that appealed instead to the human heart. Even for many Americans opposed to slavery, the issue remained somewhat abstract; but Stowe’s novel brings her readers into a fictional encounter with an individual slave, where human empathy—the power of shared feeling—does the work that other forms of persuasion had failed to do.

To bring about this encounter, Stowe consciously draws readers into the world of her novel. In the fourth chapter, titled "An Evening in Uncle Tom’s Cabin," she even addresses us directly with this invitation: describing Tom’s home, a “small log building,” Stowe’s narrator says, “Let us enter into the dwelling.” Indeed, the title of the novel itself is Uncle Tom’s Cabin so that when we begin to read, we enter the book itself, as if we were entering the cabin...

In the ninth chapter of her novel, titled "In Which It Appears that a Senator Is But a Man," Stowe takes readers into another home, that of the fictional Ohio senator John Bird, who is personally opposed to slavery but a vocal advocate of the Fugitive Slave Act. The senator defends this contradiction to his wife, protesting, "Mary! Mary! My dear, let me reason with you." We can hear Stowe’s own frustration in Mrs. Bird’s response: "I hate reasoning, John,—especially reasoning on such subjects. There’s a way you political folks have of coming round and round a plain right thing." For Stowe, American reasoning can no longer be trusted, because politicians have sacrificed the good and the true upon the altar of the pragmatic.

But when the escaped slave Eliza Harris, fleeing the Kentucky master who tried to sell her child, arrives on Senator Bird’s doorstep in distress, Stowe creates an encounter that changes the heart of the legislator. The abstract issues of law and property collide with the physical presence of a suffering woman and her child. The senator, struck by Eliza’s real sorrow, and by her fierce love for her child—for he, too, is a father—rejects the Fugitive Slave Act and breaks the law. Stowe’s narrator tells us that, before this encounter,

his idea of a fugitive was only an idea of the letters that spell the word,—or , at the most, the image of a little newspaper picture of a man with a stick and bundle, with “Ran away from the subscriber” under it. The magic of the real presence of distress,—the imploring human eye, the frail, trembling human hand, the despairing appeal of helpless agony,—these he had never tried.

Here it is the vaguely Eucharistic "real presence" of an actual escaped slave (Stowe claimed to have conceived the novel during a communion service) that converts Senator Bird. Empathy—the compassionate experience of another’s suffering—rather than logic or debate, has won. Senator Bird himself helps Eliza escape, driving her by carriage at night to a safe location. Empathy has turned into real charitable action, for as Mrs. Bird says to her husband, "Your heart is better than your head."

Stowe does more than change the hearts of her characters; she acts out this life-changing encounter for her readers in hopes that we will respond in kind. To move us in this way, she leaves one tragedy unanswered by the resolution of the novel: the brutal murder of Uncle Tom at the hands of Simon Legree. Tom’s death, for all its melodrama and heavy-handed Christian allegory, retains real dramatic power and clinches Stowe’s appeal to empathy. The characters in the novel cannot save Tom. Now it is we whose hearts must change to end the horror of human slavery. Stowe leaves it to us to decide what comes next...

The meeting between President Lincoln and Mrs. Stowe

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Francis and Fraternity: Orthodox/Catholic unity


Maybe it is time for all of us -- the broad spectrum of defenders and critics -- to take a break from the cycle of Pope Francis' impromptu remarks transmitted through the jarring megaphones of today's media.

Slow down when you have a chance, and listen to this recent address (40 minutes, followed by questions) of Orthodox bishop TARASIOS. Much of it is about the close friendship he forged with Francis when both of them led their flocks in Buenos Aires.

Metropolitan Tarasios was born in Gary, Indiana, in 1956. One of the men he studied under was the Jesuit expert on Eastern Christianity, Father Robert Taft (part of the political family). Tarasios spent four years in Rome, and later worked with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople: Bartholomew. That high cleric (accompanied by Metropolitans Tarasios and Zizioulas) attended the inaugural Mass of Pope Francis -- the first time that had occurred in all of Church history!
                                         
Patriarch and Pope

Monday, June 20, 2016

Map on Monday: TERRITORIAL ORGANIZATION OF THE CHURCH

TERRITORIAL ORGANIZATION OF THE CHURCH
FROM THE MEN OF GALILEE TO THE PROVINCIAL AND DIOCESAN CHURCH

by A. Joseph Lynch


At the Ascension, Christ commanded the Apostles to go and make disciples of all nations. The map above displays the fruits of 2,000 years of apostolic labors. Many missionary-oriented churches or movements have world maps with small dots representing mission territories. The world map above shows the territorial organization of the Catholic Church by neither dots nor dioceses, but by provinces.

For those unfamiliar with ecclesiastical provinces, the Church organizes groups of dioceses together as a province with an archdiocese playing a leading role in the province. Some archdiocesan sees have a significant enough Catholic population to merit its archbishop to be elevated as a cardinal. A quick glance at the map reveals that the provinces and dioceses of the Catholic Church respect and reflect national territorial boundaries -- certainly in keeping with Christ's command to baptize the nations.

Judging by the map the larger the province, the smaller the overall numbers of Catholics in its region. Areas with many small provinces, on the other hand, generally reflect larger numbers of Catholics. Regions outside Europe that indicate high Catholic populations include Mexico and coastal South America, the west coast of Africa, and south and east Asia. Compare the Philippines -- a smorgasbord of small but highly populated provinces -- to the United States. The Philippines is home to over 80 million Catholics whereas 66 million Catholics are spread across the geographically larger United States.


As an example of a provincial map that also displays dioceses and archdioceses, the above map shows the territorial organization of the Church in the United States. Notice the large, black dots represent an archdiocese and the large, red dots represent archdioceses whose archbishop is also a cardinal eligible to elect a pope. Regions with small Catholic populations - like the southeast - tend to form provinces that include dioceses across multiple states. Other provinces are organized along state lines, like Iowa and New York. Only two states in the U.S. - Texas and California - are broken into more than one province. Provinces are named after its sole archdiocese. The province encapsulating Missouri, for example, is called the Province of St. Louis.

This final map (see right) is a provincial map of Italy. Pope Francis is not just a leader of the global Church, his first title is Bishop of Rome. The Diocese of Rome encompasses 340 square miles and is administratively subdivided between the Vatican and the city of Rome itself. Two vicars general - one for the Vatican and one for the city - oversee day-to-day affairs.They are assisted by 1,219 diocesan priests, 2,331 priests from outside the diocese, and over 5,000 religious priests. Rome is also home to 2,266 women religious.

Rome is also the leading diocese of the Province of Rome. The province is comprised of seven suburbicarian dioceses, located around the city of Rome. Cardinal-bishops, the highest rank within the cardinalate, are the titular heads of these dioceses. In addition to these seven, ten dioceses throughout the province look to Rome as their metropolitan see.

The apostolic work of baptizing the nations continues to this day, but the maps above reveal the fruits of the apostolic labors in terms of global territorial organization.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, June 18

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch

I. MISDIRECTION AND FALSE FLAGS AT THE ORLANDO MASSACRE 

We must bury the dead and then, as Mr. Trump likes to say, "Figure out what the hell is going on."

This event happened at the intersection of Modernity’s twin demonic forces (gender ideology and Jihadism) which Cardinal Sarah warned about at the Synod on the Family. We need to be very careful to sort things out before we take our lessons and respond. Experience is a good teacher but only if you learn her true lesson.

There was no figure, though, who so quickly, so disgracefully raised a false flag as Bishop John Lynch of St. Petersburg. Like many of his fellow adult-oriented homosexuals in the American episcopacy, he knows how to misdirect.

His blog post ("Orlando, Orlando we love you") blamed "religion (including our own)" for creating animus toward homosexuals. Now past retirement age (born in May 1941), he wrote an op-ed in the Tampa Bay Times (January 2015) after a court decision overturned the state’s ban on homosexual marriage (enacted by state referendum). In it he said:
However, together with Pope Francis and in light of the discussions at the recent Extraordinary Synod on the Family held in Rome, I also recognize that the reality of the family today, in all its complexities, presents the church with pastoral challenges as the church strives to accept people in the specific circumstances of their lives and support and encourage them in their search for God and their desire to be members of the church.

Therefore, I do not wish to lend our voice to notions which might suggest that same-sex couples are a threat incapable of sharing relationships marked by love and holiness and, thus, incapable of contributing to the edification of both the church and the wider society.
This, of course, is the exact opposite of what the Synod on the Family concluded and Pope Francis wrote in his Apostolic Exhortation after the synod. Here is what the pope really said:
251. In discussing the dignity and mission of the family, the Synod Fathers observed that, “as for proposals to place unions between homosexual persons on the same level as marriage, there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family”. It is unacceptable “that local Churches should be subjected to pressure in this matter and that international bodies should make financial aid to poor countries dependent on the introduction of laws to establish ‘marriage’ between persons of the same sex”.
In 2002 Bishop Lynch paid $100,000 to a departing male communications director who accused the bishop of sexual harassment. A revolting but typical tale. Lynch utterly distorted the Pope’s words on homosexuality and marriage and was never removed or shamed for spending Church funds to compensate for his sexual misdeeds. He has benefited from the journalist taboo on investigating the role of an episcopal homosexual subculture in covering up the abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. Florida journalists certainly didn’t want to pursue a story about an adult homosexual male taking advantage of a straight subordinate. This is the story that the 'Spotlight' crowd didn’t dare touch in Boston as well. It will turn a lot of journalists into pretzels trying to report on the Orlando massacre as well. To answer the bishop we would remind him that the problem in the Catholic Church is not our animus toward homosexual sin but our incorporation of so many homosexuals in the priesthood and episcopacy. Case in point: Bishop Robert Lynch of St Petersburg.
 A Muslim  murders fifty persons at his favorite homosexual bar. The Catholic Church's labeling of homosexuality as an intrinsic disorder and American proposals to screen Muslims as terrorist threats are blamed as underlying causes--the Bishop was among the first to raise these false flags. He won't be the last.


II. POPE FRANCIS AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

LITURGY ELEVATES, BUT PRIESTS PROTEST: Half of American Catholic priests do not like the too elevated language of the five-year old-Mass translation. Here is an argument why it may take a somewhat awkward liturgical language to convey a somewhat awesome liturgical reality.

MUSLIMS CONVERT TO CHRIST AND BRING EUROPE WITH THEM - THE NEW EVANGELIZATION: As the evangelicals like to ask, "How big is your God?"

WHEN CHRISTIANITIES COLLIDE: An excellent introduction to the meeting of Mideast and American Christian communities with a goal of defending the Mideast Christians from extinction in the region of Christ’s homeland.


III. ISLAM AND THE MIDDLE EAST

SAUDIS MAKE U.N. REVERSE THE CONDEMNATION OF YEMEN BOMBING OF CHILDREN: The Saudis are kings of outrage over insult, no matter how true. At some point their whole House will come crashing down, but for this UN committee... not quite yet.
FROM FP DAILY BRIEFING: In a stunning set of revelations, FP’s (FOREIGN POLICY MAGAZINE) Colum Lynch writes that Saudi Arabia threatened to pull hundreds of millions of dollars from U.N. programs if the international body included the kingdom in a report detailing how various regimes and militias around the world are guilty of killing and maiming children. The report included details about the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen, which has killed thousands of people, including hundreds of children. The U.S. has provided extensive aerial refueling and intelligence support to the Saudis over the past year in the bombing effort. The threats led U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to scrub mentions of Saudi in the report, and sparked international outrage over his decision. Lynch reported “senior Saudi diplomats told top U.N. officials Riyadh would use its influence to convince other Arab governments and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to sever ties with the United Nations.” The upshot? Now that U.N. officials have been telling the media about the kingdom’s behavior, the report has received more press than it likely would have in the first place.
Read the Lynch article.

FORMER US AMBASSADOR TO PAKISTAN TELLS THE TRUTH ABOUT PAST HISTORY AND FUTURE POLICY: A single article with the clearest narrative I have seen on US mistakes in understanding Pakistan goals. Breaking the Taliban-Pakistan Alliance by Zalmay Khalizad.

DRONES (TARGETED KILLINGS) ARE NOT ENOUGH: A Mideast Strategy by George Friedman of Stratfor.

ISLAM VS. LIBERAL DEMOCRACY: If that is the choice, they will win. That is why we continue to argue that we are fighting for Christianity and a civilization based on the fraternity of nations. Some of those nations will be grounded in Islam. Rod Dreher of The American Conservative puts together more insightful links and clips from other important religious writings than any columnist in the journalism blogosphere. His terrific synthesis of several sources on Islam vs. Liberal Democracy. What is becoming increasingly clear is that the Cold War was not really Liberal Democracy against Communism, and neither is the present conflict.


IV. AROUND THE GLOBE: NATIONS R&G ROUND-UP

MODI OF INDIA - A NEGATIVE REVIEW BUT SERIOUS CONSIDERATION OF HINDUISM AND NATIONAL IDENTITY: Modi and the Mob.

BREXIT - BRITAIN PONDERS LEAVING EU, A VOTER PROFILE: From this article and embedded video, the author finds growing momentum to leave. Typical stay voter: Female 18-28 Green party, College educated, professional or mid-management. Typical Leave Voter: Male, >60, UKIP party, High school or less education, skilled tradesman.

NATIONS REASSERT IN THE BALKANS: An excellent overview of Bosnia and the coming Balkan conflicts as Euro-western integration loses its hold over Serbians and other nationalities.

CATHOLIC POLAND VS. CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY: Each nation has a soul and that is what its form of government must be fit to. The ideal of The West and liberal democracy with a celebration of individual autonomy is not the end of history for most peoples - not even those in Europe. Philip Reith of Imaginative Conservative in this insightful article is telling a particular story about Poland that has significant meaning for many other nations.


V. GENERAL R&G ROUND-UP

SOCCER FANS DRESSED AS CRUSADERS: BBC says "no! no!" but maybe the footballers have got it right. This picture is a great ray of hope - masculine, joyful, the Cross of the Lord, and a bit of ale.

DRAFTING WOMEN - A WOMAN MARINE OBJECTS: Jude Eden on Selective Service and Women in Combat. She shows the exemptions and changes in standards required to get a few women in top programs. She shows "the shredding of records." She shows the continued central role that John McCain plays in the abolition of sex roles.

THE JUDGE MAY BE BIASED. DOES THAT MAKES TRUMP A RACIST?: Were his remarks really so inexcusable? The Donald and the Judge from La Rasa. Why Trump should not apologize.

A profile of Judge Curiel is needed to help think about this. I have not yet seen one. A new strategy of impeachment of our more out of control judges has to be part of the reform of our present problems. A judiciary should not be independent of natural law or the sovereignty of God. How will we get to impeaching the likes of Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor if a defendant can’t even criticize Judge Curiel?

Frank Rich doesn’t care for either but his comparisons are insightful - the Donald and the Ronald.

WHITEWASHING ALI - A LOOK AT THE CHAMP FROM ANOTHER CHAMP: Joe Frazier, winner of the 1976 Fight of the Century with Muhammed Ali, didn’t like being called an Uncle Tom and then an "ignorant gorilla." An interview in Sports Illustrated with Frazier on the canonization of a man whom he helped return to boxing and then who turned on him. Joe Frazier was darker-skinned, less educated, Christian not Muslim, and a patriot not protester. He, too, has his tale. Whitewashing Ali.

THE CULT OF CRIME - A MEXICAN ASSASSIN: A real-life killer as a You Tube sensation.


Friday, June 17, 2016

Friday BookReview: Alexander Hamilton, "the most progressive and most neglected of the Founding Fathers"

           
(first published May 22, 2015)


1755 - 1804

Here are excerpts from David Brooks' take on the Ron Chernow biography of Hamilton:
When Alexander Hamilton was 10, his father abandoned him. When he was around 12, his mother died of a fever in the bed next to his. He was adopted by a cousin, who promptly committed suicide. During those same years, his aunt, uncle and grandmother also died. A court in St. Croix seized all of his possessions, sold off his personal effects and gave the rest to his mother's first husband. By the time he was a young teenager, he and his brother were orphaned, alone and destitute. 
Within three years he was a successful businessman. Within a decade he was effectively George Washington's chief of staff, organizing the American revolutionary army and serving bravely in combat. Within two decades he was one of New York's most successful lawyers and had written major portions of The Federalist Papers. Within three decades he had served as Treasury secretary and forged the modern financial and economic systems that are the basis for American might today. Within five decades he was dead at the hands of Aaron Burr. 
Alexander Hamilton was the most progressive, and is the most neglected, of the founding fathers. He was the most progressive because he saw that America could be a capitalist superpower, and he figured out which institutions it would need to realize that destiny. 
He is the most neglected, first because he was a relentless climber (and nobody has unalloyed views about ambition), second because he was a great champion of commerce (and nobody has uncomplicated views about that either) and third because his most bitter rivals, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, outlived him by decades and did everything they could to bury his reputation. So there is no Hamilton monument in Washington, but at least we now have Ron Chernow's moving and masterly Alexander Hamilton, which is by far the best biography ever written about the man... 
Hamilton, we now see, was a dark thicket: aspiring and optimistic, but also pessimistic about human nature and often depressed. He was a modern striver, but also an archaic man with a deeply self-destructive lust for aristocratic honor. He was devoted to his heroic wife, but he was uncontrollable at times... 
Hamilton, whose life, as Chernow notes, was ''a case study in the profitable use of time,'' absorbed Plutarch, Bacon and the Bible and emerged onto the public stage as a pamphleteer for the American Revolution. ''The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records,'' he wrote in 1775 at 20. ''They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature by the hand of the divinity itself and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.'' 
During the war, his administrative talents were quickly recognized, and he was plucked to serve on Washington's personal staff, beginning the most important relationship of his career. Washington was steady, elevated and active. Hamilton was frenetic, combative and intellectual. Though they were not affectionate toward each other until later in life -- Hamilton actually repelled Washington's friendly overtures during the Revolution -- neither man's greatness would have been possible without the other.
At Valley Forge, Hamilton saw how fundamentally weak the nation was, how lacking in the sort of productive capacity one needs to wage a war or survive as an independent nation. This was the formative insight that shaped his career. 
His conclusions put him outside the mainstream at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. He favored more centralized power than most of the delegates and was more suspicious of the masses. But he threw himself into the cause of ratification. He wrote his part of The Federalist Papers, America's most significant contribution to political philosophy, during the spare moments of the day between meetings with law clients. 
''He always had to fight the residual sadness of the driven man, the unspoken melancholy of the prodigy,'' Chernow observes. While others resented him with a furious passion or gaped at him with amazement -- Talleyrand considered him one of the three greatest men of the epoch -- Hamilton himself was lacerated with a feeling of ''personal inadequacy that the world seldom saw.'' 
His greatest achievements came as Treasury secretary. He was confronted by an economically weak and fractious nation. He nationalized the debt, binding the states together and creating the fluid capital markets that are today the engine of world capitalism. He was working at a time when many around him had an entirely static view of economics. They scorned credit, banks and stock markets, and considered manufacturing the least productive form of economic activity. 
But Hamilton dreamed of a vibrant economy that would allow aspiring meritocrats like himself to rise and realize their full capacities. He sought to smash the aristocratic fiefs enjoyed by Southern landowners like Jefferson and to replace them with a diversified marketplace that would be open to immigrants and the lowborn. Their vigor, he felt, would drive the nation to greatness... 
Hamilton's relationship with his wife and family is one of the revelations of this book. At home he was a loving father, who could compose a treatise on how to bathe a sick child as expert and specific as anything he wrote on tax policy. He was utterly dependent on his wife, who emerges in this account as a woman of almost superhuman fortitude. 
And yet Chernow never lets us forget that he was a man inflamed by his desire for honor. The final duel with Burr started over nothing. But the feud between the two men escalated and escalated. Chernow rebuts those historians who have argued that Hamilton was really seeking to commit suicide. Among other things, his attachment to his family was too deep, and his awareness of the suffering that his death would cause them too profound. But Hamilton still went to Weehawken [July 1804, on a remote bluff of the Palisades of New Jersey] determined to throw away his own shot, fully aware this choice might cost him his life. 
His widow outlived him by 50 years, trying vainly to repair his reputation against the assaults from the Jeffersonians. As Chernow is aware, this book finally accomplishes her task.


Check out Peter Robinson's interview with Mr. Chernow. One of the discussion points is the ferociously bitter fighting between Jefferson's philosophical camp ("Farmers are the salt of the earth, and national power is anathema!") and the Hamiltonians ("Cities with manufacturing, along with a strong federal government, are our future.") The political climate back then makes ours today look benign.



                   
Hamilton with King George III

UPDATE: Currently, the biggest Broadway hit is a musical rapping version of Chernow's book. (It received the most Tony Award nominations in Broadway history.) Here is a good overview by the 'CBS Sunday Morning' show.

Peggy Noonan called the show a masterpiece:
There is nothing like it on the New York stage, and never has been. I got choked up so often I started counting how many times I tried not to weep... Why was everyone so moved? 
Because it hits your heart hard when you witness human excellence. Because the true tale of how an illegitimate, lowborn orphan from the West Indies went on to become an inventor of America is a heck of a story. And because it is surprising yet perfect that that story is told in a hip-hop/rap/rhythm-and-blues/jazz/ballad musical whose sound is pure 2015 yet utterly appropriate to the tale... 
Young Hamilton was alone in the world, an orphan with no connections, a self-tutored genius... He is ambitious, full of hunger for life, but he needs a stage. He gets himself to New York, then as now the city of ambition, and hears in the taverns of the rising American revolutionary spirit. This is his moment, his chance... Barely arrived and Alexander Hamilton was already an American.
In a telephone interview Mr. Miranda [the star and creator of the show] says: "There are so many highs and lows in Hamilton’s life—tragic circumstances. Then he pulls himself up to incredible early American heights. Then he pulls himself down!" Mr. Miranda recalls that by the end of the second chapter of Ron Chernow’s biography, Alexander Hamilton, on which the show is based, "I fell in love. I know this guy. I know about improbability. He’s like Pip in ‘Great Expectations’—the genius, the frustrated genius, I know who this guy is."
The show is not politically correct, but not in a way that feels forced. It seems effortless and natural, as if Mr. Miranda never heard of political correctness. 
And there’s some kind of new racial alchemy in the show. Mr. Miranda is Puerto Rican, his cast is black, white and brown, and the actors get to play the parts that suit their talents, not their racial circumstance. "Hamilton" marks multicolored America seizing U.S. history and making it its own, and producing in the process a work not of all colors but of a universal American color. By respecting the American Dream and presenting it in this way, "Hamilton" says the dream is alive, everyone owns it, and if you look close you can see it playing out every day, all around you... 
"If there’s a political takeaway," says Mr. Miranda, "it is that it’s always been like this. The Eden in which we had no political parties lasted about six months or a year. Divisions were inevitable. We fight, we’re people, it’s messy."

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Ulysses S. Grant


                                   


General David Petraeus was recently asked what historical figure he would most like to have dinner with. His answer: U.S. Grant.


"In my view, Grant stands alone among American military leaders as hugely impressive at all three levels of war: tactically (as shown in his capture of Forts Henry and Donelson in Tennessee early in the war); operationally (the Vicksburg victory in 1863, one of the greatest operational-level campaigns of all time); and strategically (devising and overseeing the first truly comprehensive strategy for the Union forces to defeat Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army)... 
For me, Grant was always captured best in the pithy response he offered to Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, his most trusted commander, after the nearly disastrous first day of the Battle of Shiloh in 1862, when Grant’s army was almost pushed back into the Tennessee River. Sherman had emerged from the darkness to encounter Grant sitting under a tree with the rain dripping off his slouch hat. 
'Well, Grant,' Sherman said, 'we’ve had the devil’s own day today, haven’t we.' 
'Yep,' Grant replied, taking a soggy cigar out of his mouth. 'Lick ‘em tomorrow, though.' 
And he and his army did just that – all the way to Appomattox."

                                 



UPDATE --
The historian Phil Leigh writes: "After Lincoln’s assassination, radical Republicans urged that Robert E. Lee be tried for treason, thereby potentially starting a wave of executions. General Grant ended the matter by telling President Andrew Johnson he would resign if the surrender at Appomattox, which included de-facto amnesty for Lee and his soldiers, were not honored."       


Here is our review of Bruce Catton's book on Appomattox.


Check out this "History in Five" video with biographer Jean Smith. 
[Scroll down to find it].

Monday, June 13, 2016

Map on Monday: The Spanish and Portuguese Empires


The map above (click to enlarge) depicts the vast reach of the Spanish and Portuguese Empires at their heights, and the time periods at which each portion of their realms gained independence. The map reveals some differences in strategic outlook between the two empires. While the Spanish sought to move inland and plant the Spanish flag (and faith) in new territory, the coastal nation of Portugal tended to retain its colonial lands and outposts along the coasts of South America, Africa, and Asia. Here we see the Spanish as a landed empire and the Portuguese as a maritime empire. Nevertheless Portugal gave South America its largest nation, Brazil, and bestowed on it the Portuguese language.

Another feature that stands out is the independence of much of Latin America prior to the active colonial divisions of Africa. Long before European nations began entering the African hinterlands, nations such as Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile, Peru, Brazil, and Bolivia had gained their independence.

The Portuguese and Spanish were two very different cultures but they were also deeply united by their common Catholic faith. Their robust military and imperial character was forged in the experience of expelling the Muslims from their rule on the Iberian peninsula. Portugal and Spain  helped return Christianity to its character as a global faith. From the Americas to Africa, from the Arabian Sea to the Pacific Ocean, missionaries brought the Faith to lands across wide oceans and over harsh lands. It was from the Spanish and Portuguese Empires that Christian nations were forged. One Asian example of this is the Philippines -- Asia's largest Christian nation. It is no small fact that the immigrants who come to the United States across our southern border share with us the Christian faith. We meet them in our churches. The Europeans undergo a very different experience when their southern neighbors enter their lands. To paraphrase Philip Jenkins: immigration from the south transforms the US from a Christian country into a more Christian country. We can thank the Spanish and Portuguese for that.  

May the global Catholic nations awaken, and may our Christian nation awaken as well to our shared brotherhood. One Church, many nations.


This post originally appeared on Anthropology of Accord on December 1, 2014.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, June 11

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch


I. POPE FRANCIS AND THE CHURCH

POPE SETS UP MECHANISM TO REMOVE BISHOPS - A TRUE REFORM: His official statement (motu proprio) As a Loving Mother.

What is seismic about this is that findings of negligence can be grave cause for removal. No doubt the  Francis skeptics will miss this true breakthrough. The pope has made a significant policy initiative and Michael Winters has a good overview. But we must be on guard. Since the 1980s, homosexual-friendly bishops and priests have continually worked themselves onto the oversight committees of "child protection" to ensure those committees would never really uncover and punish the clergy corruption at the heart of the scandals. That is why it is a very good internal move that there is no overall commission but established dicasteries who will carry out these removals. It is also of great practical importance that this is not a penal act but removal from office which will let things happen much faster. We have argued that a true penal system is necessary for the Church to reform the clergy but that must not slow the more immediate goal of getting bad priests out of the parish and negligent bishops out of the chancery. Prudentially it is important there there are no new definitions of crimes or law here.  Thus there can be no ex post facto claims that removals can be effected only for negligence after 2016.

PUTTING GOD FIRST - LEARNING FROM AFRICAN CHRISTIANS: Catholics urged by African Cardinal Sarah to turn toward God in liturgy. Methodists heavily influenced by growing African congregations reverse their support for Abortion Roe Decision and abortion advocacy group.

METHODISTS, MRS. CLINTON, AND AFRICAN CHRISTIANS: The Methodist General Assembly has voted to withdraw from the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights. The worldwide Methodist church is in a great battle between traditional Methodists in America allied with African members against white American progressives who aligned the Church with an aggressive pro-abortion group under a religious mantle. The story here.

MUSLIMS AND CHRISTIANS - THE REAL STRATEGY IN RELIGION: Muslims converting to Christianity.

THE CATHOLICS AND ORTHODOX: A primer on the oldest split in Christendom by Aidan Nichols O.P.

RICH ATHEIST INDIVIDUALISTS VS. THE RELIGIOUS HUMANITY: A convincing demographic communal argument. Nietzsche is dead, but God is still around; and Africa knows it even if Europeans are clueless.


II. GEOPOLITICS AND NATIONS ROUND-UP

NATIONS, RELIGION AND FASCISM: A very negative article about Russian thinker Ivan Ilyn but plenty of information makes it worthwhile to read. There is a growing intellectual and moral sloppiness among the Western elite to equate a vigorous defense of religion and nation as Fascism. Nationalism is not Fascism - and it is nationalism that is rising (by George Friedman of Stratfor).

PHILIPPINES - THE CATHOLIC DRAMA IN ASIA: The new President of the Philippines is a
"cross between Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump." In this most Catholic of all Asian nations he professes "a belief in God but not religion." Several bishops opposed him and he wasn’t shy in blasting their interference. He is an enthusiastic proponent of capital punishment, and comes to office as a man who cleaned up the notorious crime-besieged Davao City. He also is a man who was sexually abused in the Jesuit high school where he was educated. He may see clerics who commit capital crimes, and then say they are against capital punishment, as more special pleaders than moral prophets.

From Foreign Policy (the magazine) daily briefing a few quotes remind us that soon an International Court will rule against China by applying international law of the sea to territory China has claimed historically as China. See our Map on Monday: the South China Sea for a discussion of important distinctions. Two quotes.
“All the islands, where we are doing reclamation, are Chinese islands, are Chinese territory,” Wang Xining, a deputy director-general at the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a recent interview.
“The Philippines maintains that the decision of the tribunal, once rendered, will be legally binding and should be accorded due respect by everyone, including China,” said Jose Cuisia, the Philippine ambassador in Washington, told FP.
IF BRITAIN EXITS THE EU - ENGLAND, SCOTLAND, WALES WILL CONTINUE TO SEEK THEIR COMMUNAL IDENTITIES: A talk on the the Christian roots of England by Aidan Nichols O.P. He refuses to reduce the Church in the secular world as an advocate of certain issues. He quotes Christopher Dawson and reminds English Catholics that England herself is a Christian entity. He does not advise taking an anti-Anglican or anti-throne position. They too are breakwaters against the modernist secular tide. I have read Fr. Nichols before but I didn’t understand what a METAPHYSICAL resource he is. He swims in the deeper waters where we must navigate to present anew Christianity and the nations. An excerpt:
"In the second chapter of The Realm I argue that England is historically inseparable from Christianity. Here my chief witness is St Bede, whose History of the English Church and People shows how the genesis of the idea of England is inseparable from the conversion – even if the English nation had not yet acquired its own State form, an event usually dated to the dynastic union achieved under King Athelstan in 927. To put it rhetorically, England was born in the waters of Baptism. It came to natural life, sociologically, as it entered supernatural life, sacramentally. The inability to disengage the identity of England from its ecclesial context – the covenant community of Baptism –means that a memory of the metaphysical will always haunt the English soul."
INDIA, IRAN,  AND AFGHANISTAN - THE ALLIANCE TO TEMPER PAKISTAN: How the great game is played by Iran and India.

IS THERE A US STRATEGY FOR THE MIDEAST IN SIGHT? Bacevich says no.

MILITARY SECURITY INDUSTRY COMPLEX: From 'Foreign Policy Daily Report':
Recently retired U.S. Army General John Campbell might not be commanding American and NATO forces in Afghanistan any more, but he has been appointed to the board of directors for defense behemoth BAE Systems. In a statement, Michael Chertoff, chairman of the company’s board of directors - who is also founder of the Chertoff Group, a D.C. advisory firm, senior counsel of mega law and lobbying firm Covington & Burling LLP, and former secretary of the Homeland Security Department - said Campbell’s “knowledge and perspective on the U.S. military’s needs around the world will be highly valuable.” BAE employs over 32,000 people in the U.S., UK, Sweden, and Israel, and had sales of over $10 billion in 2015.
ISRAEL AND RUSSIA: Keep paying attention to these growing signs of cooperation. What will also be striking is how neo-con journalists are going to suddenly be open to Russia now that they see a green light from Israel.


III. SEXUAL ORDER: THE CULTURE OF LIFE, CULTURE OF PROTECTION

WOULD SPORTS TEAMS BE STRONGER IF THE GIRLS PLAYED? Australia’s top women soccer team vs. boys under fifteen. You don’t want to know what happened.

CHURCHES AND FEMALE CONSCRIPTION: When Washington DC Cardinal Donald Wuerl (successor to Cardinal Ted McCarrick) was asked if the new policy to let homosexuals serve openly in the US military was a problem for Catholics, he said: "That will have to be worked our politically. The Catholic Church has no position on that." The Catholic Church has a most relevant history in allowing an all-male brotherhood to be inundated with homosexuals. Neither Wuerl nor McCarrick should be expected to be very eloquent about that problem. Why the Church should oppose female conscription.

Failure by Design by Anthony Esolen. The best writer on God, human nature, and sexual differences and gender roles is Mr. Esolen. Here, he reminds us why men and women are homosocial in so many of our most natural interactions.


IV. R&G ROUND UP

TRUMP REFORMING THE REPUBLICANS - A PARTY FOR THE WORKERS:
I (Joshua Green of Bloomberg BUSINESS WEEK) asked Trump what he thought the GOP would look like in five years. "Love the question," he replied. "Five, 10 years from now—different party. You’re going to have a worker’s party. A party of people that haven’t had a real wage increase in 18 years, that are angry. What I want to do, I think cutting Social Security is a big mistake for the Republican Party. And I know it’s a big part of the budget. Cutting it the wrong way is a big mistake, and even cutting it [at all]."

It used to be considered very responsible to look for entitlement reforms (especially delaying the retirement age of social security) as a place to fix the budget. The retirement age of social security is a much more important issue to men who work with their hands than those who push the pen. There are plenty of places to fix entitlements without exacerbating the discrepancy of aging for physical laborers and white-collar jobs. Like open immigration for manual laborers, the issue looks different from the perspective of Mitt Romney vs. a non college-educated male.

MUHAHAMMED ALI - HE WAS THE GREATEST - RIP: This video with the article catches a lot about the best heavyweight boxer of the century. From a LA news article in 1984:
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 2— Muhammad Ali, the former heavyweight boxing champion, who endorsed the Rev. Jesse Jackson's unsuccessful run for the White House, has announced he is switching to President Reagan. Asked to elaborate on his endorsement of Mr. Reagan, Mr. Ali told reporters, ''He's keeping God in schools and that's enough.''

Friday, June 10, 2016

Friday BookReview: The bicycle mechanics who powered men up to the clouds


(first published June 5, 2015)



"The airplane has unveiled for us the true face of the earth."   (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry)

                       
Begin by refreshing your schoolboy memory of the Wright brothers soaring over the North Carolina beach (this video is only a couple minutes long).

On December 17th in 1903, the first flight lasted twelve seconds; later in the day, their plane was aloft for 59 seconds!


                       



Here are some excerpts from a review of David McCullough's The Wright Brothers. It is by the youngest child of Charles Lindbergh:
Wilbur Wright played the harmonica, Orville the violin. There were two older Wright brothers, Reuchlin and Lorin, and a younger sister, Katharine, a graduate of Oberlin College and a high school Latin teacher. She and the younger two brothers, both lifelong bachelors, lived in Dayton, Ohio, with their father, clergyman Milton Wright. Their mother had died of tuberculosis in 1889. 
The detailed glimpses of the Wright family revealed in the first pages of David McCullough’s superb new book, “The Wright Brothers,” give more personal information than most of us can claim to know about aviation pioneers Wilbur and Orville Wright. Their 1903 manned flights off the Outer Banks of North Carolina at Kitty Hawk “were the first ever in which a piloted machine took off under its own power into the air in full flight, sailed forward with no loss of speed, and landed at a point as high as that from which it started.” 
Few people at the time showed any interest in this extraordinary feat. No reporters were present when the flights took place on Dec. 17, 1903, no representatives of scientific journals, no politicians eager to ally themselves with the enormous promise of aviation...
Dedicated to the dream of flight, the Wrights endured countless setbacks, disappointments and frustrations as they labored to perfect their flying machine. According to one witness, they were “the workingest boys” he ever knew...  
Raised under the benevolent influence of Bishop Wright, the Wright children were encouraged to read widely and learn extensively, not necessarily at school. Orville claimed that “the greatest thing in our favor was growing up in a family where there was always much encouragement to intellectual curiosity.” In high school he started a print shop and published his own newspaper. Wilbur became the editor. 
When the bicycle craze seized the country in the 1890s, Wilbur and Orville joined the madness... The brothers soon opened a workshop repairing and selling bicycles and sharpening ice skates in winter...  
The Wrights lived in a time of unprecedented innovation and invention. George Eastman of the Kodak camera and Isaac Merritt Singer of the sewing machine were contemporaries. Dayton was home to manufacturers of everything from cardboard boxes to railroad cars. 
Like many other aviation pioneers, the Wrights were skilled designers and builders. McCullough writes that they “proceeded on the Flyer much as if they were building a truss bridge, only with the attention to detail of watchmakers.” Their inventions showed a particularly American blend of ingenuity and imagination. To study the effect of wind on wings, they created a small wind tunnel using a wooden box, a fan and a series of modified hacksaw blades. Unlike some colleagues, however, the Wrights declined financial support from outsiders. Samuel Langley’s experimental airship, the Great Aerodrome, cost $70,000 and plunged into the Potomac on Dec. 8, 1903. The Wright brothers’ “total expenses for everything from 1900 to 1903, including materials and travel to and from Kitty Hawk, came to a little less than $1,000, a sum paid entirely from the modest profits of their bicycle business.” 
Though the triumph of Kitty Hawk went all but unrecognized in America at first, the Wright brothers took their flying machine, now with a more powerful engine, to a pasture known as Huffman Prairie and persevered. They enjoyed ever-increasing success, “routinely making controlled flights of 25 miles or more.” Still, their proposal to sell the machine to the U.S. government was rejected twice, though the British and French governments showed interest. 
The Wrights signed an agreement with a group of French businessmen in 1905, and Wilbur went to Paris. His reception there was likened to that of Benjamin Franklin’s in 1776, so enthusiastic were the French about “the American wonder” and his aerial feats. He was hailed by such acclaimed French aviators as Louis Blériot and Léon Delagrange, and was known throughout France by his first name, pronounced “Veelbare”... 
The transformation of the Wright Bicycle Shop into the “Wright Company for the manufacture of airplanes,” and the following struggles with legal and business matters, reflect the Wright brothers’ central position in the ongoing development of aviation after Kitty Hawk. McCullough’s magical account of their early adventures — enhanced by volumes of family correspondence, written records, and his own deep understanding of the country and the era — shows as never before how two Ohio boys from a remarkable family taught the world to fly.
                                   
Orville and Wilbur in 1910


The finest summing up of the peculiar American genius of the two brothers is this tribute, published recently in 'National Review.'

                                 



UPDATE: Don't miss this conversation between Mr. McCullough and Ken Burns.


                                          



Wednesday, June 8, 2016

One of the heroes of the "Purple Heart Battalion"


                                   


SHIZUYA HAYASHI was serving in the 65th Engineers in Hawaii when Pearl Harbor was bombed. After the attack, there was uncertainty about what to do with the Japanese Americans in this unit... [The following June] Hayashi and 1,400 other Nisei soldiers were sent to Camp McCoy in Wisconsin, where they formed the 100th Infantry Battalion, the first combat unit in the history of the U.S. Army made up mainly of Japanese Americans. After more than a year of instruction, the 100th became the most intensively trained unit in the Army... It received its colors and the motto it had requested: Remember Pearl Harbor.

In September 1943, the 100th landed at Salerno, Italy, where the Germans were amazed to see Japanese Americans fighting against them...

Late on the afternoon of November 29, 1943, Private Hayashi's platoon was attacking the Germans... The Germans were firing their 88 mm artillery, called screaming mimis by the GIs... In an effort to find cover, the Americans stumbled through a minefield, setting off deadly explosions. A bullet grazed Hayashi in the neck; his commanding officer was shot in the back.

As night fell, Hayashi and two other GIs were separated from the rest of the platoon. After waiting all night to be rescued, Hayashi sent his two comrades to look for help at daybreak. Drawn by their loud conversation, the Germans opened fire and advanced on them. One German, looking for the two men, came within three feet of Hayashi, then fired at point-blank range. He missed, and Hayashi killed him. In the face of grenades and rifle and machine-gun fire, Hayashi rose, alone, and shooting his automatic rifle from the hip, charged a German machine-gun position, killing nine of the enemy. When his platoon tried to advance, and an enemy antiaircraft gun began to lob shells at them, Hayashi returned fire, killing nine more Germans. Then he came upon a boy, perhaps thirteen years old, in uniform, curled up and crying. Hayashi couldn't shoot -- he took the boy prisoner, along with three other Germans.



[from Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty by Peter Collier]

Monday, June 6, 2016

Map on Monday: THE SOUTH CHINA SEA

Geopolitics and Ocean Law in the South China Sea: China, Philippines, and Vietnam 

by A. Joseph Lynch and Dr. David Pence


Understanding the dangerous disputes in the South China Sea between China, the Philippines and Vietnam begins with a few maps, some important history and legal definitions from a treaty signed by over 160 nations but not the United States. The old “law of the seas” assumed a three-mile border for all national coastlines and then open sailing in international waters beyond that “range of a cannon ball” distance. The UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) in 1982 established several zones of authority as seen in the map below.

Each country has a 200 nautical mile (a nautical mile is equal to 1.1 miles or 1.85 kilometers) Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), in which natural resource claims are exclusive. The twelve nautical mile zones are considered territorial waters in which the country has jurisdiction over regulating use. There are rights of innocent passage by non-military vessels and transit passage for military vessels in narrow straits. The next twelve miles (contiguous zone) is also regulated for taxes and immigration and is a free chase zone if vessels were caught in the inner twelve. These definitions came from the 1982 UN Conference and are sometimes called LOST (Law of the Seas Treaty). China has said it does not accept these international definitions and jurisdiction in the South China Sea where questions of sovereignty must still be settled. The US never signed the treaty because of several disputes about deep-sea mining and the amendment procedures.

China draws the lines very differently. At the end of World War Two, the Republic of China (ROC, soon to be Taiwan) drew the 11-dash line around China and included the Spratlys and Paracel Islands as well as the Scarborough Shoal off the Philippines. Both Taiwan and mainland China are in agreement that these are China’s borders established after a long battle and millions of battle deaths from a local neighbor who invaded across a poorly defended regional sea. When the Chinese make these historical arguments they are often told that in international law, history doesn’t count. They answer that questions of sovereignty are historical matters settled by war and tradition. The 200 mile rule is not meant to replace historical sovereignty claims but establish a uniform law of the sea in areas without competing sovereignty claims. (e.g. Cuba is 90 miles from the tip of Florida.  Neither the US or Cuba can use a 200 mile rule to take resources from the other.)  The red dashed line on these maps mark China’s territorial claim. All the other lines are two hundred mile extensions from various other countries in the region. Obviously there is a lot of overlap. It is not so obvious how all of this is to be resolved. It is not really enough to frame this dispute as innocent smaller countries obeying international law while the big Chinese bullies seek more territory.


The Paracel Islands are found at the northern end of the South China Sea. Claimed by both China and Vietnam, the Chinese defeated the Vietnamese at the Battle of the Paracel Islands on January 19, 1974. Although only seventy-one died in the battle, China argues it won control of the islands and that Vietnam should drop its territorial claims.

Both the Philippines and China lay claim to the Scarborough Shoal (known as Huangyan Island in China), a little more than 100 miles (160km) from the Philippines and 500 miles from China (see map at left).

The claims of the Philippines are drawn from the 200-mile EEZ concept and obviously overlap with China’s map. All of these islands have been uninhabited but they can serve as bases and more importantly mark territories with hydrocarbon, mineral, and fishing resources. Here is a good BBC review of some of the conflicting claims.

The Spratly Islands are among the most contested in the South China Sea. Although composed of fourteen islands, islets, and kays, the Spratlys are also home to hundreds of reefs. Reefs are underwater bars of sand, rock, or coral; and some of these have been the building blocks for China’s so-called artificial islands, which are being built as military outposts -- including an airstrip -- on what they consider Chinese territory.

Chinese and Vietnamese lands are over 400 miles away from the Spratly Islands, yet both have historical claims on the area. Much closer to the islands are Malaysia and the Philippines. Both have airstrips as well on particular islands within the chain.They make their claims from the 200-mile law.  See the map below to better understand the various territorial claims and see where airstrips within the Spratly Islands are located.