by A. Joseph Lynch and Dr. David Pence
THE WEEKLY BRIEF
DR. DAVID PENCE (1946-2019)
Today we mourn, remember, and celebrate the life of Dr. David Pence. All those reading this are welcome to join us today for his funeral Mass at St. Peter and St. Paul Catholic Church in Mankato, Minnesota at 1 PM (located at 105 N 5th St, Mankato, MN 56001).
This Religion, Nations, and Geopolitics Review post will be the last we write together and the first of many Weekly Briefs written by myself, A. Joseph Lynch. While these will continue to focus on the wider world news, I want to say a few things about my dear friend, brother, mentor, and father-figure, Dr. David Pence.
I first met Dr. Pence after a debate he had against Fr. Eckert at the Argument of the Month Club in South St. Paul, Minnesota. They debated the topic of Vatican II and I went in thinking I was with Fr. Eckert's traditional side. By the end, however, Dr. Pence had made many excellent points in favor of the council so I approached him for a brief conversation. Always looking for more brothers, the big-hearted Pence invited me for to eat with him and further our discussion. I had no idea these conversations would change my life.
I met him at a time of my life - my early twenties - when I was heavily engaged in reading, usually a book a day back then, and teaching the faith at a Catholic parish in Faribault, MN. I told him of my interest in history, geography, astronomy, and theology. I had discovered Peter Kreeft a couple years before this and was now engaging philosophy, too. Dr. Pence gave me a copy of the book Carnage and Culture and told me he wanted help putting together a series of presentations on world history that brought together military history, politics, and religion. I regret I have thus far failed to deliver on my promise to complete these presentations. Not finishing them before his death is regret I will carry to my dying day.
At the time, my reading was total absorption of the material. Pence, however, didn't just read a book. He had a "Pencian" way of seizing the gold nuggets in a text and discharging the rest. At the time I didn't know how to read like him. In addition to the many books he sent me over the years - and I will greatly miss receiving those book packages from him (one of which he inadvertently bought from a friend of mine online here in Kansas City) - he often sent out links to online article to men on his email chain. I would always read the articles, but at first not know how to interpret them with a "Pencian" lens. I would call him to ask him what I should take away from the reading, then after hearing tell him to send everyone his unique commentary. One day I had the idea for the Religion, Nations, and Geopolitics Review. Rather than email links with commentary, I asked him to put them together in this post, with his words, so that we could read the news of the week with him and get his take on things. Since then we've written and edited together, and I'm happy to say he's read some of my entries and thought he had written them himself.
Over the past year, Dr. Pence spoke more often of his coming death and insisted I continue on with this Saturday post and AoA as a whole - and I will do everything I can to continue bringing you his voice and his arguments. I wanted so much to more time with him and I write now with tears. But I am so thankful we had the time and endless hours of conversation together. We have become in many ways of one mind and I feel as though there are enough breadcrumbs for me to follow as I continue developing "his baby" - the Pence project. I told my wife that had he died five years ago it would have been a total disaster. With these five years, I feel I have learned his mind enough to continue in his footsteps. Knowing that is one thing, realizing it it in a way that is truly faithful to his thought is another. I cry in part for loss, and I cry in part for fear that I cannot do this visionary justice. I miss him dearly in so many ways.
I know most of you do not know me or have never met me. I hope you'll continue to keep reading nonetheless. There is more to come and I am happy to say that you have more to read from our departed friend. The two of us have spent years of discussion, and months in writing, a new book called The Catholic Palette. I don't know why, but I worked frantically last week to finish my portions along with giving it an overall edit. Dr. Pence finished editing what I gave him late last week and met with the printing house on Friday. At the time of his death, it was due out by the end of July. I fully plan on seeing it finished and available to you, dear reader. For the last several months it has been a labor of love and I convinced God gave him just enough time to get it finished before his death.
With most friendships, death leads to the thankful remembrance of good times past. Dr. Pence and I, however, rarely spent time making small talk or going to fun activities. We prayed, worked, studies, and struggled together. It was always fun, but it was never just for fun. And this means that the fun will continue as I continue to converse with him at least through his ideas. So I hope I can help bring Dr. Pence in some way to you each Saturday. We'll also continue to Keep Catholic and Civic Time. I also plan to continue writing the missing articles in our sectional table of contents pages. It might be slow, but there will be progress. I have a wife, a twenty-one month old daughter, and hopes to begin working on a theology doctorate. In true Pencian fashion, the planned dissertation will focus on Holy Orders as a sacrament of fraternity. I pray my friend will help me in some way as I write. He was especially adept at finding my wordy "Lynchisms" - through I was quite surprised to learn from him over the weekend that he had left some of them in the book. I should have known he wasn't feeling well.
I tell you I have never experienced so much grief and so many tears - and this comes from one who lost a six year old nephew to drowning last July and then lost a childhood mentor a few weeks later. I knew my time with Dr. Pence was coming to an end, but I had prayed the Lord would give me one more time to see him in a planned visit next month. Ours was the kind of friendship good men should have with each other - deeply personal but, unlike marriage, aimed at prayer, work, study, and battle rather than intimacy. We had had a very real communio together - and when that kind of bond is there the death of one takes much of the other with him. He has passed into the mystery of Christ and for now I will seek out our fraternal communio in that mysterious communio of the Blessed Sacrament. He is taken with Christ and now hidden yet present with Him through the hands of the Apostolic priesthood. It is fitting he left between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost Sunday.
I would love to meet you at the funeral or burial in Minneapolis on Monday, but please forgive me if I am teary eyed. I know Dr. Pence would give me the hardest time for this and I will do my utmost to show some manly strength. If I fail at this, I will not fail in keeping my promises to the best mentor, friend, brother, and father-figure a young man can have. I wouldn't be the man I am without him. The work continues, and I invite you to join us in it. For now read on for the rest of Dr. Pence's final posting. I also invite you to listen to our inaugural podcast of Religion, Sex, and Politics. As a fellow listener, hearing his voice again has brought me a great deal of peace. I leave you know with the words Dr. Pence always told me when we hung up the phone: "God love you!"
-A. Joseph Lynch
I. POPE FRANCIS AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
JUDAEO-CHRISTIAN - A DEFENSE OF THE TERM: We have always resisted the term Judaeo Christian values because it seems a way to praise good guys and nice people without worshipping the Living God. These authors (an Orthodox rabbi and an evangelical Christian) however make a serious case for the Judaeo-Christian tradition that begins with the sovereignty of God. They deserve a serious hearing.
II. PRESIDENT TRUMP AND AMERICA
JD VANCE TALKS AT AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE DINNER: He argued for a pro-family, pro-worker, pro-nation Conservatism.
THE ROOTS OF NATURAL RIGHTS AND AMERICAN LAW: Canon Law and Roman Law precede the Enlightenment.
PRESIDENT TRUMP'S IMPROBABLE ROLE IN HISTORY: “History is at once aristocratic and revolutionary. It allows the whole world situation to be suddenly transformed by the action of a single individual.” It is this dynamic historical process that is fatal to a secular understanding of religious approaches to history. In the words of Edmund Burke that Dawson quoted with approval, at times a “common soldier, a child, a girl at the door of an inn have changed the face of the future and almost of Nature.” To the Christian, this understanding of historical development permits interpretation of past events in the light of divine will and spiritual forces that may be unknown even to the actors themselves." CHRISTOPHER DAWSON, CATHOLIC HISTORIAN
CHRISTIANITY, THE ENLIGHTENMENT, RELIGIOUS LIBERTY: From Robert Louis Wilken.
III. THE NATIONS
ARGENTINA: At the annual Te Deum Mass, the Argentine Cardinal and the civil heads of the national government agree on a "Great National Pact"-what Cardinal Poli called a "Great Covenant of Honor" with a preferential option for the poor. "Unity is more important than division and reality over ideas" the cardinal said in emphasizing two favorite themes of Pope Francis. We are going to see the Pope and those who think about politics with him are going to be much more open to Christian nationalism than many think. Don't look at his Vatican "magic circle" making statements about immigration and Europe. Look back at the Cardinal in his homeland. That is where the Pope's language and categories are been deepened.
ITALY AND THE POPE: Be a brother - engage with elected Italian officials from the populist nationalists says Cardinal Mueller to Pope Francis. Mueller criticized the "magic circle" around Pope Francis including Jesuit Fr Antonio Spadaro of Civilta Cattolica and Cardinal Gaultiero Bassetti head of there italian Bishops Conference. The conversation is getting a lot clearer.
CANADA: In the second largest geographic nation, something new is blowing in the wind. A Canadian University professor must use a pseudonym to report. “This is the world of those without a mystique. . . .Let there be no mistake, and no one rejoice in it, on either side. The de-republicanization of France is essentially the same movement as the de-christianization of France. . . It is one and the same movement which makes people no longer believe in the Republic and no longer believe in God, no longer want to lead a republican life and no longer want to lead a Christian life. One and the same sterility withers the city and Christendom.” CHARLES PEGUY
EGYPT AND SAUDI ARABIA: A good review.
ROMANIA: Orthodox for sure. How religious?
IV. CULTURE OF LIFE, CULTURE OF PROTECTION
JUDGE CLARENCE THOMAS AND JUDGE RUTH GINSBERG: EXCERPTS FROM RECENT ABORTION CASE: THOMAS - "The use of abortion to achieve eugenic goals is not merely hypothetical. The foundations for legalizing abortion in America were laid during the early 20th-century birth control movement. That movement developed alongside the American eugenics movement. And significantly, Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger recognized the eugenic potential of her cause. . .
"Eight decades after Sanger's 'Negro Project,' abortion in the United States is also marked by a considerable racial disparity. . . there are areas of New York City in which black children are more likely to be aborted than they are to be born alive—and are up to eight times more likely to be aborted than white children in the same area. . .
"Enshrining a constitutional right to an abortion based solely on the race, sex, or disability of an unborn child, as Planned Parenthood advocates, would constitutionalize the views of the 20th-century eugenics movement. . . Although the Court declines to wade into these issues today, we cannot avoid them forever."
GINSBURG: ". . . a woman who exercises her constitutionally protected right to terminate a pregnancy is not a 'mother.'"
CARDINAL ROBERT SARA ON GOD, FATHERHOOD AND THE ATHEIST PROJECT OF THE WEST: "People in the West are guilty of rejecting God. They have not only rejected God. Friedrich Nietzsche, who may be considered the spokesman of the West, has claimed: “God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed him…” We have murdered God. In view of God’s death among men, Nietzsche would replace him with a prophetic “Superman.”
The spiritual collapse thus has a very Western character. In particular, I would like to emphasize the rejection of fatherhood. Our contemporaries are convinced that, in order to be free, one must not depend on anybody. There is a tragic error in this. Western people are convinced that receiving is contrary to the dignity of human persons. But civilized man is fundamentally an heir, he receives a history, a culture, a language, a name, a family. This is what distinguishes him from the barbarian. To refuse to be inscribed within a network of dependence, heritage, and filiation condemns us to go back naked into the jungle of a competitive economy left to its own devices. Because he refuses to acknowledge himself as an heir, man is condemned to the hell of liberal globalization in which individual interests confront one another without any law to govern them besides profit at any price.
... I want to suggest to Western people that the real cause of this refusal to claim their inheritance and this refusal of fatherhood is the rejection of God. From Him we receive our nature as man and woman. This is intolerable to modern minds. Gender ideology is a Luciferian refusal to receive a sexual nature from God. Thus some rebel against God and pointlessly mutilate themselves in order to change their sex. But in reality they do not fundamentally change anything of their structure as man or woman. The West refuses to receive, and will accept only what it constructs for itself. Transhumanism is the ultimate avatar of this movement. Because it is a gift from God, human nature itself becomes unbearable for western man. This revolt is spiritual at root. It is the revolt of Satan against the gift of grace."