Friday, March 12, 2010

Personal Asides: Pope’s Brother Whacked Kids in Choir? Wow! Maybe I Had a Case Against the Church!...The Case for 10%, Then Another, Then Another.

       Feast of St. Gregory the Great.* 
                                     Whacked in Choir.  
            No one my age can be even faintly stirred about the allegation from a breathless liberal journalist that being whacked in choir practice during the old pre-Vatican II days was “child abuse.” In 1938 at age 10 for the entertainment of  my fellow choirsters I was clapping my hands in peppy 3 quarters waltz time during a rehearsal of  Aquinas’ Tantum Ergo in the choir-loft of Saint Juliana’s churchthrowing the Angelic Doctor’s medieval hymn off-beat to the amusement of my 5th grade class…when I got socked so hard by the choir directress Sister Patricia McGill OFM…that I almost tumbled over the brass rail, down to the congregation floor. I never gave a thought to whether or not it was “child abuse” but rubbed my cheek and determined never to do it again. 
          Moreover the next year, 1939, when confirmation time came round I chose the confirmation name Patrick in her honor.  She was very pleased and the bop on the cheek was forgotten.   During the ceremony Bishop Bernard J. Sheil gave me a cautionary slap on the same cheek,  a liturgical symbol admonishing that if I were to become a Soldier of Christ I would have to steel myself for a host of rebuffs far more serious than his gentle slap.  
        But if slaps from a nun choir director were as serious as they apparently are now, then I could have raced down Touhy to my home on North Oleander in Edison Park on the northwest side and urged my mother to retain a lawyer—where I would hope a suit would be instituted against her for shocking my concept of the world, likely precipitating me to trauma where I could never hear Tantum Ergo again without throwing up. 
           But it’s lucky I never thought of doing this because had I made that request in the heart of the FDR Depression, my mother would have dismissed retaining a lawyer (we knew none anyhow), siding with Sister Patricia …and possibly have given me a second disciplinary rap…much rougher than Bishop Sheil’s…for disabusing me of this foolishness and for taking her valuable time with this nonsense.   
           Yet today here is this precious worry-wart twit columnist David Gibson of the ultra-left-wing (how left wing is it?  The Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet writes a blog for it: is that enough?) Gibson declaring he just found out that…horror of horrors…the Pope’s brother, Fr. Georg Ratzinger, 86,  admitted to slapping an erring kid soprano in the world-famous Regensburger Domspatzen boys choir in Bavaria three decades ago. The columnist, a tender convert named David Gibson who ever since he came to the Fold has been finding things too archaic in my 2000-year-old Church, wrote a breathless story headlined that the incident “draws uncomfortably close to the Pope.”   
             Believe it or not, Gibson asks: “So, could any of this damage Benedict or even imperil his papacy?  That’s highly unlikely unless there were direct and credible allegations against the pope himself.”
             We can all breathe easier now—except that is John Allen of The National Catholic Reporter a guy who wrote two biographies of Ratzinger…one panning him when he was a cardinal—the second nearly canonizing him after he became pope.  That’s why you don’t have to believe anything Allen says.  He changes like the wind.  
                                           Pander Bear and Martire. 
              Pander Bear with the limpid soulful eyes appeared before the legislature yesterday and said that in order to “save” education he has to get a 33% tax hike.  To “save” education.   A look at the stuff he did cut convinces me that he owned trimmed spending with a very fine tweezers. My view is that this Pander Bear is so paralyzed by indecision…fearing to trim favored liberal special interests…that the best thing that could happen would be…just as Bill Brady said…a 10% across-the-board cut.  
               Even then it wouldn’t be nearly sufficient.  Well then, there should be another 10 percent across the board. And another. And another. The psychology of prioritizing the cuts doesn’t work because you run into liberals’ favorite programs.  Don’t tell me that the state can’t run with draconian cuts. It’ll damn well have to.  How did it run 60 years ago with a budget infinitesimally smaller than what we have now.  Did people die in the streets?  That’s liberal Pander Bear talk. 
              The one guy the liberal media run to at budget-cutting time is one Ralph Martire, head of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, the guru of bigger tax hikes.  He says it’s a criminal shame that Illinois ranks as one of the low tax states regarding the income tax. He doesn’t calculate the aggregate of taxes…city, county, state…which make it a high tax state.  Nor does he understand that business flees a high tax state. I’ve had him on my show and he’s in-educable.   One disconcerting thing about him when he was on my show a number of times was his irritating elitism, flavored with erudition sprung on the spot where it was impossible to challenge him.   
              For example, he would say something like this: It will interest you to know that none other than Adam Smith argued for the progressive income tax. Well one night I invited a guy on the show who brought a copy of Smith’s Wealth of Nations. He couldn’t find any support of Smith for the progressive income tax.  Martire was outraged. He refused to shake hands with the guy at the end of the program…and has never appeared on my program since.             
         *:  St. Gregory the Great [AD 540-604]. One of the most influential popes of the Middle Ages and of all time.. Born the son of a Roman senator, he entered the service of Rome as a young man but in 573 he sold his enormous properties and founded six Benedictine monasteries in Sicily and a seventh in Rome. After serving as a diplomat for Pope Benedict I and his successor Pelagius II, he returned to Rome to become abbot of St. Andrew’s, convinced that the future of Catholicism lay with monasticism rather than the culturally decaying Roman empire. 
                He had hoped to bring Catholicism to the Anglo-Saxons but this had to be interrupted when he was elected Pope. He faced crises: floods, famine, plagues, a Lombard invasion, the rising influence of Byzantium in Catholic affairs. A natural diplomat, in 592-3 he concluded a separate peace with the Lombards while the Emperor’s man twiddled his thumbs. Then he at last turned to the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons. He sent Augustine of Canterbury (not the scholar but the Benedictine) to the island that is now Britain, laying the groundwork for Catholicism there that was more solid than it was in France. He wrote tracts that were models of clarity.  He was also an educator, passing on to the converted barbarians the wisdom of the early Church fathers of  the Graeco-Roman world.  Moreover his name has been associated with music as well, composing chants which took his name, Gregorian.  
               When he died, he was canonized by acclamation, so great was his reputation. .


  1. Gregory is one of history's few to earn the appellation Great. Only three Popes, one English King, and two American Presidents: Leo the Great; Gregory the Great; John Paul the Great; Alfred the Great; Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator; and Ronald Reagan, the Great Liberator.

  2. Hello Tom

    Smith is generally credited by most economic historians with introducing the the notion of the progressive tax. Though he did not argue specifically for the progressive income tax, he did consider progressive taxation a reasonable approach to the apportionment of tax burden. A consumption tax on rents, rather than tax on income, was the source of public revenue when Smith wrote:

    "The necessaries of life occasion the great expense of the poor. They find it difficult to get food, and the greater part of their little revenue is spent in getting it. The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expense of the rich, and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess. A tax upon house-rents, therefore, would in general fall heaviest upon the rich; and in this sort of inequality there would not, perhaps, be anything very unreasonable. It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion."

    This passage occurs in Wealth of Nations: Book 5, Chapter 2, Article 1. Available for free download via Google Books.