Saturday, March 27, 2010

Katla Volcano - Iceland

More immediate than concern for an eruption of the supervolcano that is Yellowstone National Park: the volcano on Iceland, which is the sole place on Earth where a mid-ocean ridge is above sea-level.

The AP reports:

REYKJAVIK, Iceland - Blasts of lava and ash shot out of a volcano in southern Iceland on Monday and small tremors rocked the ground, a surge in activity that raised fears of a larger explosion at the nearby Katla volcano.

Scientists say history has proven that when the Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupts, Katla follows — the only question is how soon. And Katla, located under the massive Myrdalsjokull icecap, threatens disastrous flooding and explosive blasts when it blows...

Like earthquakes, predicting the timing of volcanic eruptions is an imprecise science. An eruption at the Katla volcano could be disastrous, however — both for Iceland and other nations.

Iceland's Laki volcano erupted in 1783, freeing gases that turned into smog. The smog floated across the Jet Stream, changing weather patterns. Many died from gas poisoning in the British Isles. Crop production fell in western Europe. Famine spread. Some even linked the eruption, which helped fuel famine, to the French Revolution. Painters in the 18th century illustrated fiery sunsets in their works.

The winter of 1784 was also one of the longest and coldest on record in North America. New England reported a record stretch of below-zero temperatures and New Jersey reported record snow accumulation. The Mississippi River also reportedly froze in New Orleans.

"These are Hollywood-sort of scenarios but possible," said Colin Macpherson, a geologist with the University of Durham. "As the melt rises, it's a little like taking a cork out of a champagne bottle."

Read more here.

Hitchens, Bailie, and Apocalyptic Days

Essential viewing: Peter Hitchens talks about his book, The Rage Against God, here. NB: Hitchens was an eye-witness to the goings-on in the Soviet Union (including its ending). He says that the so-called "new atheists" - among whom he counts his brother, Christopher - do not know the forces they are trying to "summon from the ground" that culminate in a "howling wilderness."

Last note: I am steering you to friend, mentor, and fine fellow Gil Bailie's web blog above. I had the privilege of sharing a meal with Gil, founder of The Cornerstone Forum, the executive director of the same, Randy Coleman-Riese, and others interested in the work of the Forum on Wednesday evening in Washington, D. C.

It was subdued little gathering in a large, noisy downtown watering-hole, largely due to the recent goings-on on Capitol Hill. Yet there is something to be said to living in apocalyptic days. Especially if one has the Magisterium of the Church grasped firmly in one hand and the mimetic theory of René Girard in the other.

Berman's Flight of the Intellectuals

Slate's Ron Rosenbaum reviews Paul Berman's new book, The Flight of the Intellectuals.

... Berman's portrait of the behavior of today's intellectuals when confronting the plight of Ayaan Hirsi Ali (for example) is devastating. I was going to say his portrait of certain intellectuals, because he singles out the well-respected writers Ian Buruma and Timothy Garton Ash for their aggressive sniping and snarking at Hirsi Ali when she was (and still is) under threat of death. But in fact the relative silence of the rest of the intelligentsia, when confronted with the threats against her, is almost more scandalous. (An exception is my colleague here at SlateChristopher Hitchens.)


Hirsi Ali's critics argue that she represents a simpleminded allegiance to the tolerant and libertarian values of the Enlightenment, that she's an "Enlightenment fundamentalist," pretty much the moral equivalent of an Islamic fundamentalist who supports suicide bombing. Presumably because she doesn't believe in tolerating an intolerance that kills, maims, and shackles women. It was Ian Buruma who coined the oxymoronic phrase "Enlightenment fundamentalism," which was then picked up by Timothy Garton Ash.* To his credit, Garton Ash eventually publically apologized for applying the phrase to Hirsi Ali at a London debate, although he didn't seem to withdraw from a belief that the phrase might have some residual legitimacy.

Apology or not, Berman believes that the phrase reflects a deeper misconception among a certain set of Western intellectuals. That although "the enlightenment is one of the great achievements of Western civilization," these intellectuals "have come to look at the enlightenment as merely a set of anthropological prejudices"—to view a belief in free expression, for example, as merely a parochial Western view.

Which leads him to the most damning moment in his attack: "Buruma and Garton Ash had lost the ability to make the most elementary of distinctions … they could no longer tell a fanatical murderer from a rational debater" like Hirsi Ali..MORE>>

Friday, March 26, 2010

Goldman - Obamalypse Now

As both my readers will attest (okay, apparently I have five), I occasionally fixate on the demolitionist living in the White House. But let it be said I cannot hold a candle to what David P. Goldman of Spengler fame is doing at First Things with an erudition and research to back it up. His last three posts about the on-going Obamalypse are here.

When the white heat begins to burn, the Old Testament prophet feels it in his bones and it must out or it will consume him

Presidential Ego and False Values

This president, in his overweening desire to convince Iran ( __ ! ) of his undying new allegiance, went out of his way to act shoddily toward the Israeli head of state. You read all about it. I can only second the sentiments expressed by the founder and point man of The Cornerstone Forum, Gil Bailie:
All Americans should be ashamed of this willful insult to the leader of a nation against which the entire Islamic world has arrayed itself, and whose enemies will take Obama's treatment of Netanyahu as a signal that Israel no longer has reliable U.S. support. This from the president who reverts to diplomatic niceties when "negotiating" with Iranian mullahs and the thuggish psychopath who does their bidding. Our president has fallen all over himself trying to ingratiate himself to some of the most notorious tyrants of our time, apologizing as he goes for America's sundry sins.

To my mind, it is a day to feel deep remorse. At the same time, it is, I fear, a harbinger of things yet to come.
This fellow clearly wants to dismantle what he holds ressentment toward, which is much of traditional American values - and now has the wherewithal to do so. The facade is lordly and intellectual; the puer beneath is trickster and destroyer.

May the LORD bless and keep Israel; may the angel of the LORD watch over and protect her from the harm her enemies would deal out; may the LORD quickly return to us an American leader who shares the values, hopes, and dreams of the vast majority of Americans; and may the LORD put more back-bone and wisdom in Americans to insure such an absurd mistake never happens again. Selah.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

McCotter - Hope and Change Will Come

I would be proud to be a constituent in this man's state:

Beginning of a New Age

For those paying attention: today is the Feast of the Annunciation. Interestingly, J. R. R. Tolkien chose this day to be the moment when Frodo and Same reached the Cracks of Doom, Gollum seizes the ring of Sauron and plunges with it into the molten chaos, beginning a new age.

Fancy that.

Living in Evil Times

Predictably, the NYT and their ilk are circling like wolves around the sex abuse story in Germany. The Last Self-Help Administration and their ilk are licking their chops over what they surmise is the dead adversary called Freedom. And in cities like Philadelphia, mobs text and merge, roaming and seeking victims to pummel.

As I predicted in The Dionysus Mandate, it would come to this - and worse - in America, the land of the anthropologically ignorant and the home of the power-lusting leadership and Gospel-rejecting populace.

Oases of civility and sanity survive, so far, however. In those Catholic parishes where the Magisterium of the Church is revered, safeguarded, and maintained, we gather round the true Victim, perfect Sacrifice, and eternal Lord, Jesus Christ. He feeds us with the Bread of Heaven, and we are a universal family around the world.

Pray for our good Holy Father, for Christendom, for families, for all who love justice and seek goodness, truth, and beauty. This is Marian chivalry at its utmost in these desperate and evil times.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Standing Firm in the Shadows

Archbishop Charles Chaput reflects on four lessons learned in the battle over health care reform in A bad bill and how we got it.

A lesson I learned is that, as Victor Davis Hanson said, "The bill was not really about medicine; after all, a moderately priced, relatively small federal program could offer the poorer not now insured, presently not on Medicare or state programs like Medicaid or Medical, a basic medical plan." It wasn't about health insurance for 31 million uninsured Americans at all.
It was about power; an attempt at a fundamental restructuring of America by leftist humanists. Let's be clear: the "Congressional Catholics" are, ipso facto, those who threaten to "shove my rosary down the throat" of those who deny their religion (Biden), "pray" to St. Joseph (Pelosi), but go 180-degrees contrariwise to the teachings of faith and morals of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.

The health care bill, as this administration has made it clear from its outset knows its primary obstacle is the Catholic Church, and has done an outstanding job (sic.) dividing Catholics by playing off our compassion, our concern for victims, our avoidance of scapegoating - all the while driving a stake into the heart of the Church's deeper understanding and teachings of Sacred Scripture and Tradition.

"By their fruit shall you know them," Our Lord admonishes (Mt 7,20). It is time to be faithful sons and daughters of Mother Church. Pray for our nation's leaders, the few faithful ones, the many bent and broken ones. Especially protect and stand by our priests. The shadows are surrounding truth, goodness, and beauty. We must stand firm, be strong, loving, and faithful.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Art and Music - Keep Freedom Alive

So, here is a suggestion: When the National Anthem is played, we place our hands over our hearts. We sing. But when we come to, "O'er the land of the free," ALL of us lower our heads and stop singing.

Other suggestions: I'm expecting a lot of songs coming out of the Country Western genre to give voice to our feelings about the atrocity. Get them. Play them. Memorize them. Make up your own songs.

Art and Music are the true media for taking back America.

Oh, yes, and go to Church.

VDH - Revolutionary Times

President Obama has crossed the Rubicon with the healthcare vote. The bill was not really about medicine; after all, a moderately priced, relatively small federal program could offer the poorer not now insured, presently not on Medicare or state programs like Medicaid or Medical, a basic medical plan.

We have no interest in stopping trial lawyers from milking the system for billions. And we don’t want to address in any meaningful way the
individual’s responsibility in some cases (drink, drugs, violence, dangerous sex, bad diet, sloth, etc.) for costly and chronic health procedures.

No, instead, the bill was about assuming a massive portion of the private sector, hiring tens of thousands of loyal, compliant new employees, staffing new departments with new technocrats, and feeling wonderful that we “are leveling the playing field” and have achieved another Civil Rights landmark law. (NB: do the math: add higher state income taxes in most states; the new Clinton-era federal income tax rates to come; the proposed lifting of limits on income exposed to FICA taxes; and now new healthcare charges — and I think you can reach in some cases a bite of 65%to 70% of one’s income.)

So we are in revolutionary times...

I Remember a Free America

A mad man at the helm, veering wildly to port, hench-persons gleefully applauding and dragging the country into a gulag of unprecedented control. What's to worry about?

Come Aside

Just in case you may be feeling a kind of let-down after the big vote on Sunday: the Last Self-Help Administration et al are doing an end-zone dance forgetful of eternal matters; the talking-heads are jabbering away; the blogs are all a-tittering and a-nattering.

Come aside for a while: Visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Shake Fists and ...

The perfect metaphor for hubris, human achievement sans God, and yesterday's idiocy. And the president also chose Kansas to win the NCAA. Yeah, right.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Eternal Laws Aren't 'Voted' On

Appearances are Deceptive

There may come a pivotal moment today prior to the vote on the health care bill when each voting member of the House of Representatives will hear a clarion call to turn back from the brink. The United States Bishops have pleaded, Do not pass this pro-abortion health care bill.

You see, our Bishops do not follow mere "party" platforms. They are concerned for not only the unborn who will be imperiled by the passage of the bill, although that is the reason they do not support this bill.

Our Bishops are concerned for the souls of lawmakers, of Americans, and the eternal consequences of supporting a health care bill that will endorse and underwrite a mortal sin.

As uncouth as that may sound, the eternal salvation of souls is a bottom line concern here. The spirit of the age may mitigate against such concern, but Mother Church never stops caring about the consequences of our decisions and actions. The Ten Commandments still stand. The Beatitudes still stand. The Precepts of the Church still stand. Our Lord says the Law still stands (Mt 5,17f). The weight of glory, as C. S. Lewis said, is a ponderous thing. And willful - if ignorant - human pride can indeed preclude our ability to enter into the Beatific Vision.

Pray for lawmakers and their souls today.