Sunday, April 20, 2008
Personal Asides: Memo to CatholicsBenedict Intends the Media Shock Waves He Provokes Nunn, Boren Endorsements for Obama Gives Seal of Inevitability to Nomination For Theological Wonks Only The Iranian-North Korean Nuclear Threats.
At this writing Sunday afternoon it is certain that Pope Benedicts visit to the U. S. was a triumph. His willingness to bring up clerical pedophilia, to the discomfiture of some U. S. bishops who have shrugged it away with bureaucratic answers, was the perfect thing to do. The only question is why Rome hadnt addressed it in this thoroughly serious way before. But Benedict has proven to be in every sense a brilliant successor to both Peter and John Paul II and his homilies on this and other things falls neatly into the authenticist Catholic rubric his supporters had hoped.
There is another factor, brought up by the Registers admirable correspondent Fr. Raymond De Souza that bears reflection. Where some Catholics regret the spin the news gives on some of the Popes talks with some discomfiture De Souza astutely points out that in his estimation the Pope intends the shock value that is contained in the documents, using the media admirably to educate. Example: Before his elevation, he wrote much if not all of Dominus Iesus which used the words gravely deficient and defects in describing Christian sects outside the Catholic pale. This caused some consternation by those who felt the media was exaggerating a possible rupture in ecumenism. Some said the Pope goofed, used bad p. r. in communicating the goal of ecumenism.
Not so, says De Souza. For those of us who were reared in the certainty that (no matter how chauvinistic it sounds in todays Rotary Club-style p. r. imaging) Catholicism adheres to the Church founded by Christuniquely one. The Roman Catholic church we believe is not just another Christian denomination, but, as Vatican II has said, is the organism in which is possessed the objective fullness of Christs heritage to the Church, the totality of His revelation, sacraments with authority to rule the people of God in His namethe church of which the Bishop of Rome is visible head. Other Christian bodies participate, in greater or lesser measure, of those elements of sanctification and truth that exist in divine fullness in the Roman Catholic Church. This is a tough truth. It means not as some advocates of ecumenism maintain that the truth is to come about from reunification of the churches. Tough but true: Catholic doctrine teaches that the Church is the end to which all churches and ecclesial communities must strive to attain, that it possesses truth which subsists is the one true church governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him.
Thus Benedict is as skilled as his predecessor in using the media to communicate. Some p. r. practitioners say he has erred in making mistakes that cause criticism. Not so. There is a deliberate method in making these so-called mistakes that are not mistakes at all.
Nunn, Boren Endorsements.
The Obama endorsements by Sam Nunn and David Boren give a seal of inevitability to the Illinoisans candidacy not withstanding that three super-delegates also endorsed Hillary or the embarrassments to Obama of the past weeks concerning remarks in San Francisco and disclosure of Jeremiah Wright hate sermons.
My guess is: no matter what happens in Pennsylvania, the party leaders generally have decided that it would be too grave a risk to stiff the hugely powerful African American electorate at this point. The private judgment seems to be that black resentment would be fatal for the partys well being in perpetuity if Obama were denied. After all he has the momentum and star power that guarantees far more than just black waves of volunteersbut an ocean full of youth, affluent whites et al in the future. Even if Obama were to be defeated by John McCain, the party would be better off than if it stiffed Obama. And, of course, theres no certainty that McCain will win since the pendulums rhythm definitely seems likely to swing in Obamas favor. Barring some Event as Harold Macmillan would say.
Some questions for theological wonks (and you dont have to be Catholic as this writer is, to play). Reminder: The honor system is in force once again and we trust you not to go to search engines or outside theological books. Your own rationale will sufficebesides its much more fun. If perchance you have read an official answer somewhere, you are honor bound to cite it. Here goes.
All of us understand that Moses was a person of great sanctity and Elijah as well. Why is it, then, that Christianity particularly the Catholic church which investigates people of great sanctity and affixes a formal canonization to which other Christian denominations follow suit (for the most part) hasnt canonized Moses or Elijah? Is it because these people come from what we call the Old Testament but which Jews call the Jewish Bible? In other words because Moses and Elijah were Jews? Or because the Catholic church hasnt gotten around to it yet? None of the foregoing? Whats the reason? And should Moses and Elijah and other great spiritual leaders of the Old Testament BE called saints i.e. Saint Moses, Saint Elijah?
The Iranian-North Korean Nuclear Threats.
Last week Iran announced it is tripling its number of centrifuges to 9,000. A centrifuge is a motor-driven piece of equipment that puts an object in rotation around a fixed axis, used in chemistry, biology and biochemistry. The importance to us is that gas centrifuges are used in uranium enrichment preparatory to constructing a nuclear weapon. It takes many thousands of centrifuges to enrich uranium for use in a nuclear reactor and a great many more to enrich it to nuclear bomb grade. But Iran is getting there.
What to do about it is a key question since the ruler of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is a millenarian madman and fatalist. Also you have the highly likely matter of future earthquakes. A 2003 rumble rocked Bam and scientists see the strong possibility of future ones that may rival Chernobyl. In short, Iran is a disaster no matter where you look.
Then you have North Korea. Six-party talks there failed and Pyongyang has started nuclear testing and is on the threshold of becoming a full-blown nuclear power. It has declined to reveal its nuclear facilities, breaking its earlier word (to Jimmy Carter and others).
Most people except the Far Left agree that Iran should be prevented from making a bomb and North Korea should be remonstrated not tobut you can imagine what a President Barack Obama will do. He will, to quote his words, negotiate with Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong-Il in North Korea. Thus we will sit transfixed until this very young president re-learns what other naïve young presidents have learned (and what Jimmy Carter never learned)that there are some people in the world who are crazed and not susceptible to rational dealing.
A President Obama will arrange a formal meeting with Ahmadinejad first and then fly to see Kim Jong-Il with mainstream media attending both sessions with high hopes. Well, Ahmadinejad will stand on his tip-toes in order to pat Obama on the head and say, there-there little boy whereupon Obama will retort Dont call me BOY! and the MSM will rush to the cameras to announce a full-blown racial crisis, interviewing Al Sharpton for comment. Then in North Korea, media will thrill to the fact that two men of color are conversingwhich will be big on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.
Following which Obama will address the U. S. on prime time and announce the following: He will ask Jimmy Carter, age 84, to be a personal mediator between us and Iran and George McGovern, 86, to go to North Korea and sit down with Kim Jong-Il .
The reason for Carters hatred of Israel being that U. S. Jews backed Ted Kennedy against him for the nomination in 1980, he will recommend that we let the Palestinians drive Israel into the sea and good riddance since Israel has had the temerity to defend itself against rockets which Carter has called provocation of war. Then he will set himself up for a second Nobel prize and warm editorial support from the New York Times. This happens and U. S. Jews give serious consideration to eventually voting Republicanwell, maybe. Probably many of the non-observant ones will still stay with George Soros.
McGovern will recommend that we pull all our troops out of South Korea where they should never have been in the first place. Back home, Ron Paul will be getting ready to run for president in 2012 when he will be 77. He will become the social lion of the Left and Right and be interviewed on Meet the Press with Tim Russert. CBS on the left will greet isolationists and paleos of the right triggering what will be known as The Grand Realignment of politics.
In that spirit, the nation will return to the Era of Good Feelings under President Monroe when a single party commanded the affections of practically all segments of society. The paleos will hug the anti-war bombers of the `60s including Billy Ayres. Pat Buchanan will toast Eleanor Clift and Jimmy Carter, both kindling a vigil light for the late Sam Francis. The Nobel people will strike several medals for a multiple ceremony Jimmy Carter (#2) and for McGovern and Ron Paul, one each. Revisionist historians will date our debacle from entry into World War II and will ask themselves: What the hell was Pearl Harbor doing in the Pacific anyhow?
Then KABOOM. From Iran and North Korea the missiles will rain down reproducing the felicitous last scene from Dr. Strangelove with the song: Well meet again, dont know where, dont know when and as smoke rises from desiccated Manhattan, two chimps who survive the blast, will look at themselves and ponder: Should we start this thing all over again?
Meanwhile, Charles Krauthammer, a brilliant commentator and my favorite on foreign affairs suggests that with North Korea, we initiate a two-layered anti-missile defense system where each layer, while imperfect, has a 90% shoot-down accuracy, based on which we tell Kim that if he starts something we will by god finish it. Kim is eccentric but not crazy. The chances are good there will be a stalemate until regime change. Thus far I agree with Krauthammer with respect to North Korea.
Not so with Iran since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a total wacko who truly believes his is the hand of God, about whom Bernard Lewis, at 92 the greatest living expert on the Middle East has said this (I paraphrase):
Amhadinejad is not a patriot where Iran is concerned. He and his followers do not worship Iran; they worship Allah. He has said that patriotism is another name for paganism and that he is willing to see Iran go up in smoke provided Islam emerges triumphant in the world. You dont you cant cower this guy.
Therefore with that mindset which is far different than North Koreas, a deterrent strike has to be launched. Since Irans nuclear facilities are dispersed, with some of them underground, there should be a systemic bombing campaign that would set back its nuclear program for years to come. That would be the best legacy Bush would leave for his successor and for all of us. In George W. Bush we have a unique president who is unconcerned about the eddies of popularity and who knows evil when he sees itprobably the most courageous, heedless of personal popularity, man to serve as president. Let us pray Bush initiates the preemptive strike before he leaves office and is succeeded by John McCain who has said publicly that there is one thing worse than bombing Iranand that is to leave Iran with nuclear capability.
In passing, the stakes are so great that the nightmare startling me to sit up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat is the probability that the next president WILL be Barack Obama. For this election is his to lose. His election there is no nice way of saying it could send the Great Innkeeper coming downstairs in His house slippers to address the global cocktail party, rap His knuckles on the bar and say, Ladies and gentlemen, its closing time.