Monday, August 13, 2007

Personal Asides: What is Romney Talking About?...Nobody Accuses Lynn Sweet of Being Objective but--…The Devil, You Say!...This Week in the Chicago Daily Observer.



When I heard him first say it, in a debate, I thought: Mitt Romney will have some explaining to do. He was asked about his sudden “conversion” from abortion rights advocate to pro-lifer. He cited Ronald Reagan as having changed his mind (true: Reagan signed the most permissive abortion bill of his time as governor of California). Then Romney also cited Henry J. Hyde as having changed his mind to support abortion. The first time I heard it I decided Romney had made a mistake. But he used it again for the second time last week.

I like to think I know about as much of Henry Hyde as most and far more than some—dating from his service as state representative, majority leader, his defeat for the state house and maneuver to be named to the House through the resignation of a Democrat (a unique experience in the old three-member district orientation). I knew him as a young lawyer before he went to the state House and certainly after he went to Congress. I have never known a time—and he never mentioned it to me or anyone else I know—that he was for abortion rights.

If anyone reading this blog knows that what Romney said is true, I wish he or she would fill me in. That’s only one Romney question I have. One more.

In David Brooks’ “New York Times” column of Saturday, he mentions offhandedly that Romney was involved in an automobile accident where at one time he was given up for dead. I have checked the records and have not found this either. If anyone knows the citation of that event I would appreciate they letting me know.

Lynn Sweet.

The “Sun-Times’” Lynn Sweet, the closest approximation to the famed “old George” (George Tagge of the “Tribune” who served his then conservative boss and the conservative cause adroitly by his selective reporting and advocacy journalism) covered the highlights of the Democratic presidential candidates’ gay rights debate…but of course she was highly protective of the nut fringe that could make her party and liberal cause unsympathetic to voters.

Certainly the highpoint of the random pander-fest was the statement of erratic old Mike Gravel, the former Alaska senator, that not only is he not anti-gay but he extols the ancient Spartans whom, he said, encouraged their warriors to be homosexual so that they would have lovers to fight for in preference to their homeland. That went unrecorded in Ms. Sweet’s otherwise voluminous reports promoting liberal Democratic politics. The legend promulgated by Gravel has no basis in fact, of course but has been circulated widely by homosexual front groups as an example of affirmative action on the issue.

The Devil, You Say!

At Catholic Citizens of Illinois the other day, the priest-speaker was holding forth on the devil and demonic possession. Lucifer deserves some attention but probably not all the priest devoted to him.

None of us want to downplay the devil. There are some old axioms about him. First, “the devil is never permitted to tempt us beyond our endurance.” True, which means we always have enough grace to overcome him, which means we have the grace to pray for perspicacity to recognize the evil spirit. Second, “the devil is the Father of lies, the consummate deceiver.” In my Benedictine monastic-style 1940s education which has now, sadly, been replaced the classes in basket-weaving, we learned his three names. Satan is his Hebrew name which means “adversary,” a plotter. Devil (in Greek “diabolos”) because he is a liar who charges those who listened to him innocently and fell with committing the sins he had connived. He is a demon (“daimon” in Greek) because he is a spiritual being capable of extraordinary powers. We were taught that his strategy is eminently logical, that he uses humans and human institutions as agents…that there is such a thing as “possession” and “obsession.”

We were also instructed that many so-called possessions or obsessions can be due to hysteria, illusion or fraud but nevertheless real possessions occur.

Having learned all this from the leading Aquinas expert in the U.S. (one whom Mortimer Adler came to confer) with twin doctorates in philosophy and theology, Fr. Ernest Kilzer, OSB (whom behind his back we called “Ernie”) we wrote our examinations until our fingers nearly fell off that providence is the plan conceived in the mind of God according to which He directs all creatures to their proper end and destiny. Saying that providence is universal is a way of saying all events taking place in the world—even those fortunate or casual—are part of God’s plan for the universe. With God there is no such thing as chance: everything is meant to serve a purpose, mysteriously foreseen and foreordained by God. Nor is this predestination. One question from Ernie on the final fourth year examination: “Where, Mr. Roeser, is human freedom if God has planned everything? What is the value of prayer, sir, if God already knows beforehand?”

The answer: human freedom, Father, is part of the divine plan. God wills the ultimate effects of all created actions, has provided that they be achieved. Saying that would get you a gentlemanly “C” in his course—but he was waiting for the clincher. This would get the “A”: God wills two kinds of activity in the universe—one predetermined by its own nature…another that is “able to act otherwise.” So prayer belongs to its essence, since part of His divine plan is that we should obtain many of the things we need only by asking others—especially the Great Other: God. God has foreseen our prayers from eternity and has included them in His plan for the universe to give us what He knew we would ask for.

The finale: well then tell us, Mr. Roeser, why does this good God of yours permit evil? Our answer, ingrained after hard-core teaching by Ernie: So that He may bring good out of it. Remove all evil and much good would go with it…such as the patience of the just that supposes, offers up, persecution from the unjust; the charity of those who have much which presumes it must be given to those in need.

But there were things Ernie would dismiss as a relative waste of time. For example, why if the fallen angels presumably had the Beatific Vision, did they, led by Lucifer, rebel? Does that mean that if we go to heaven we could still have the power or inclination to rebel? To that question this genius would dismiss an answer with a wave of his hand and quote the aged John the Evangelist: “My dear people, we are already the children of God but what we are to be in the future is not revealed; all we know is that when it is revealed we shall be like Him because we shall see Him as He really is.” Meaning Ernie didn’t know and wouldn’t bother guessing. The priest the other day tried to explain it by theorizing that the angels did not have Beatific Vision then—before this world was created.

I would have preferred the priest admit that like Ernie he did not know and not try to theorize.

Did God create hell? The priest the other day quoted someone who had had a discussion with a demon as maintaining the demon said they—the fallen angels—created hell. But then if Lucifer is the font of all lies why should we believe him here?

See what I mean? You can drive yourself crazy by entering into the devil’s playground of speculation. Better to stick with Ernie and my own mother who said of Lucifer, “to hell with him. Forget the subject and concentrate on something else.”

This Week in The Observer.

This week in the Chicago Daily Observer ( if all goes well we will have Cal Skinner’s review of the legislative session and the governor’s role (from one who was a highly regarded state legislator, nominee for controller and Libertarian candidate for governor)…why some business types pressed earlier this session for an income tax hike? By our president, John Powers. Is the Latin Mass going to swell Catholic churches? By Jim Bowman, former religion columnist for the old “Chicago Daily News,” former Jesuit priest, current blogger . He knows where all the bodies are buried—but of course that will have to be demonstrated. All this and Jim Leahy, exec of the Republican Assembly of Illinois and one of the GOP’s finest grassroots organizers, tells us what the state party should do to regroup. Also much more.

Having said this, guys get your copy in here ASAP (all except Cal who has admirably already done so). Oh yes. What am I writing? A dissection of Jim Nalepa.


  1. Tom,

    I just wanted to give a heads up to all of your readers who are attending the Illinois State Fair on Thursday that the GOP Party is conducting a straw poll from 11 am - 4 pm. Voting is free & any Illinois resident with a valid ID can vote and you do not have to be a registered Republican / voter to vote (any Illinois resident can vote).

    I would also like your astute readers to click Ron Paul's link and learn more about the true Henry Hyde lifelong Pro Life candidate in the race.

    Dr. Ron Paul also wants to eliminate the IRS, end birthright citizenship for children of illegal aliens and secure our borders immediately. Ron Paul is also the strongest supporter of the 2nd Amendment and has never voted for a tax increase! No other Republican can claim support for all of these issues and the so called leading candidates are against many of these pro American / pro liberty stances.

    Ron Paul 2008

  2. Romney was in a serious accident in France when he was serving as a Mormon missionary. It was written up at various places on the web; I think there was full coverage in a Boston Globe series on Romney about a month or six weeks ago. A Google search should turn it up.