Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Personal Asides:

Peter Fitzgerald Signs On to My Roosevelt University Course to Talk Off-the-Record About the Senate and Illinois…Becky Carroll, Top Blagojevich Budget Aide, Will Also Lecture…Leon Dixon Gets Trivia Answer and is WPD Wrong About Its Origin?…Jansenism? Does it Abound Today?

Peter Fitzgerald.

One of Illinois’ great United States Senators, Peter Fitzgerald, told me yesterday that he will be a guest lecturer in my Roosevelt University course. He, as will all other guest lecturers, will speak off-the-record. His topic will be the legislative branch: the United States Senate. At age 46, Peter Fitzgerald has won deserved fame as one of the state’s greatest Senators because (a) he challenged the Combine system and paid a price by being denied support for reelection by the then Republican state chairman, Judy Baar Topinka; (b) insisted on his right to recommend a U. S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois in contradistinction to the wishes of Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and others and (c) refused to vote to bail out the airlines, saying “who will bail out the taxpayer?” (d) stood virtually alone opposing Mayor Daley’s and Governor Ryan’s plan to expand O’Hare and (e) refused to sign off automatically on federal largesse for Illinois, breaking centuries’ old tradition.

History will record that his single term accomplished more from the standpoint of reform for the state than that of any other Illinois Senator. On the issue of effectiveness, I would put him down with Everett Dirksen (at whose office desk he sat) and Stephen A. Douglas (whose farsightedness built the transcontinental railroads) and Paul Douglas (no relation to Stephen, the rock-firm pillar of integrity). A sharply dissenting view on the other side will come from another guest lecturer, Congressman Ray LaHood of Peoria, skilled parliamentarian and fellow Republican who once vowed to find a primary opponent to run against Fitzgerald. Thus our class will hear two sharply divergent sides…at different dates, assuredly…on the issues before the Congress concerning Illinois. Since I admire both men, you can expect that the moderator will be very impartial. Peter Fitzgerald is a close confidant and supporter of the likely presidential campaign of Senator John McCain.

Thus far we have State Rep. Jack Franks (D-McHenry) on the state legislative process…former Governor Jim Edgar on the state’s executive branch… Congressman Ray LaHood, ace parliamentarian, on the U. S. House of Representatives…and Peter Fitzgerald on the United States Senate.

Becky Carroll.

Also added to the “faculty” is Becky Carroll, spokeswoman for Governor Blagojevich’s Office of Management and Budget, who will speak Thursday, September 14 at 7 p.m. Carroll, a veteran of Mayor Daley’s office, is charged with dealing with the communications aspect of the state budget…and as such is superbly equipped to talk about three constituencies that the course will cover: the Executive…the Bureaucracy…and the Media. Those who listen to my WLS radio show know that she’s been a guest many times because she has thorough knowledge of the budget and has a forensic skill in debating that is formidable. I don’t often say this to my Republican friends but whenever Becky is involved in debate she has never lost…has come in first several times and has tied once. She is one of the brightest young professionals the Illinois Democratic party has—and my Roosevelt class is lucky to have her.

Leon Dixon.

The correspondent Leon Dixon is right about the trivia question. It’s “Do the Hokey-Pokey.” Scott Mesick came in second. Congratulations to both. WPD comments that it comes from an anti-Catholic origin. Not so. He’s thinking of the phrase “hockus pocus” which was a play on the Latin “hoc est corpus est” and has no reference to hokey-pokey…unless he can prove differently. Other responses to correspondents: WPD cites Anne Burke’s and the National Review Board’s recommendation that priesthood candidates be recruited at a later age, pointing out that Anne’s husband, Alderman Eddie, went to Quigley at an early age. So? That doesn’t invalidate the recommendation. Eddie was washed out by Quigley. Tom Lang writes that Pamela Hayes was another pro-abort Catholic on the NRB. Absolutely and vehemently so.

As earlier stated in my “Wanderer” piece, these so-called nationally known Catholics were chosen by a secular p. r. firm in New York, decisions that Burke had nothing to do with. Somebody wrote in and said that a priest the Burkes knew got hooked in the pedophilia scandal. So? A priest I knew from many years ago…49 years ago to be exact…and who went on a European trip with a group of us got picked up a few years ago for being familiar with a young teen-aged girl and is confined in the Stritch retreat center at Mundelein. What’s that got to do with me? Does that mean either Burke…or I, for that matter…are defiled through association? That view approximates Jansenism. The view that says “the only two people I know who are immune to sin are you and me—and I have doubts about you.” Which leads to the question: what is…


Jansenism is the fetish composed of two prongs. One is of being “holier than thou.” The other is: “I am totally unworthy.” It dwells on anyone who shows a smidgeon of sin or association with sinners…not to mention one who had committed a mortal one…as being unworthy. Christ had answered prong number one with His famous rebuke to those preparing to stone the woman taken in adultery: “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

The other prong was propagated by one Jansenius, focusing on our unworthiness. His views were speculative. They were swiftly amended by one Antoine Arnauld who concentrated on man’s unworthiness, in particular frequent reception of Communion with doubt that those who do so can be worthy given our weaknesses. Jansenism led to less frequent reception of Communion and scrupulosity and pietistic rebuking of others along with the judgment of whether or not others are worthy. It played into the hands of those who didn’t want the bother of going to confession, anyhow—so they didn’t, proclaiming themselves unworthy.

Pius X knocked that view in the head with his decree permitting frequent reception of Communion. But it’s still around somewhat. Politicians who must compromise on good legislation in order to get it passed, are occasionally condemned as trimmers and unworthy which is Jansenism. The alternative is to postulate legislation that cannot be enacted, with the consolation that any compromise is evil. Assuredly there is a fine line between the attainable and the perfect: one can compromise too swiftly for the attainable or hold out to long for the perfect. But these are human evaluations and to my mind one who utilizes them should not be condemned under the rubric of Jansenism. For instance, Saint Augustine of Hippo, one of the intellectual pillars of Christianity and western civilization would not have been received into the Church by Jansenists because earlier he had had a mistress, an illegitimate child with her and once acknowledged that as he experienced conversion that he prayed, “O Lord, make me chaste but not right now!” Let’s say these Jansenists are more Catholic than the Church.

When I was a kid my parents believed that one should only receive Communion at most twice per confession no matter whether or not you were in the state of grace. That was residual Jansenism. When I told my mother that she was a Jansenist she said, “shut up. I don’t know about Jansen, but you?—you’re under my roof and you’re not going to receive more than twice on one confession.” Yes, ma’am. But, I said, Pius X… She said, “Pius X doesn’t live here. I do.” But, Ma, I haven’t committed a mortal sin. She said, “Tell it to the priest in confession and he’ll decide. You hear me? Subject closed.” Then she thought a second and said: “Listen, don’t give me that college boy stuff on Jansenism written by some old kook I never heard of. Now by your own definition I say you’re a Jansenist because you think you’re perfect. Well, you’re not, buddy boy, so you’re going to confession.” So she won the argument—not only because she was a philosopher, although she never read Aristotle, but a shrewd Irish Catholic Democrat. Until I met Hubert Humphrey I never met anyone who could turn an argument around better than she. Thanks to her I get twitchy unless I go to confession frequently. And that doesn’t mean I’m 100% pure. Far from it.


  1. Does a person have a free will to chose Janseism?

  2. No, Ed Burke's having attended Quigley does not invalidate Anne Burke's recommendation against early seminary recruitment. Indeed, the fact that her opinion might be informed by more than just abstract speculation makes it all the more interesting -- and, quite possibly, all the more compelling.

  3. I've forgotten the source of the following quip, but here goes:
    Q: What is the difference between a French Jansenist and an Irish Jansenist?
    A: A French Jansenist is sure that he is part of the elect, while an Irish Jansenist is sure that he is not.

  4. will the city's planned diaster enactment effect your 9-7-06 class or is your class not part of the disaster yet?

  5. I was less than excited about the speaker lineup for your class. But now I see you have Peter Fitzgerald. Now you're talking Tom!

    How about letting Peter debate those two old Combine dinasaurs LaHood and Edgar? Now THAT would be a seminar worth 5 times the price.

  6. The best source I could find on purported anti-Catholic origins of the "Hokey Pokey" is this citation in the UK's Daily Telegraph:

    Apparently, the "Hokey Pokey", which was copyrighted and made popular in the United States back in the 1940's, developed out of a predecessor version in England, where it is known as the "Hokey Cokey" and dates back to an earlier century.

  7. In the course of looking up the information below on the Hokey Pokey, I discovered the possibility that the bumper sticker that started this discussion was inspired by Jimmy Buffett's song, "What If The Hokey Pokey Is All It Really Is About?" from his 2002 album "Far Side of the World".