Leisure, the Basis of Culture

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From Benedict XVI, VATICAN CITY, AUG. 20, 2006 (Zenit.org)… It is necessary to pay attention to the dangers of excessive activity, regardless of one’s condition and occupation, observes the saint (Bernard of Clairvaux), because — as he said to the Pope of that time, and to all Popes and to all of us — numerous occupations often lead to “hardness of heart, … they are no more than suffering for the spirit, loss of intelligence and dispersion of grace”. … The message that, in this connection, Bernard addresses to the Pontiff, who had been his disciple at Clairvaux, is provocative: “See where these accursed occupations can lead you, if you continue to lose yourself in them — without leaving anything of yourself for yourself”.

Mind their own business

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by Terrence Scanlon, Aug. 22, 2006

… Who would have guessed that the world’s second-largest oil company would fail to maintain its own facilities? Unlike the Middle East or the Gulf of Mexico, Alaskan oil production hasn’t been considered risky. There are no wars or hurricanes. But America’s domestic energy supply is in jeopardy now because BP put the rhetoric of corporate social responsibility ahead of minding its own business — literally.
BP should spent some of its advertising budget and corporate philanthropy on fixing its pipeline.

http://www.washtimes.com/commentary/20060821-094831-8514r.htm

American Exceptionalism

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By MICHAEL BARONE, WSJ, August 10, 2006; Page A8
… In 2004, pollster Scott Rasmussen asked two questions relating to American exceptionalism: Is this country generally fair and decent? Would the world be better off if more countries were more like America? About two-thirds of voters answered yes to both questions. About 80% of George W. Bush voters answered yes. John Kerry voters were split down the middle, with yeses outnumbering nos by small margins. That’s reminiscent of the story about the Teamster Union business agent who was in the hospital and received a bouquet of flowers with a note that read, “The executive board wishes you a speedy recovery by a vote of 9-6.” Not exactly a wholehearted endorsement…

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115515847647431384.html?mod=opinion_main_commentaries

México, a la cabeza de América Latina

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CIUDAD DEL VATICANO/MÉXICO D.F., jueves, 13 julio 2006 (ZENIT.orgEl Observador).- México es el país de América Latina que más ayuda económicamente a la labor de la Iglesia universal.

De acuerdo con el informe económico presentado esta semana por la Prefectura de Asuntos Económicos de la Santa Sede –que preside el cardenal Sergio Sebastiani–, la aportación mexicana se sitúa detrás de la de los Estados Unidos, Italia, Alemania, Francia, España, Irlanda, Canadá y Corea, y por encima de la de Austria.

El país azteca ocupa la novena posición tanto en la aportación al «Óbolo de San Pedro» –para sostener la misión apostólica y caritativa del Papa–, como en la que prevé el canon 1271 del Código de Derecho Canónico que refleja la aportación de los obispos en la colecta realizada en sus respectivas diócesis para sostener, en la medida de sus posibilidades, a la Iglesia en su misión universal.

Fuentes eclesiásticas mexicanas consultadas, mostraron su alegría ante esta noticia –difundida por la agencia informativa «Notimex»—, pues en años anteriores, el país, que cuenta con cerca de 90 millones de católicos, no ocupaba lugares destacados en la ayuda a la labor de la Iglesia.

Sin duda las cinco visitas que realizó durante su pontificado Juan Pablo II a México han motivado a los fieles a redoblar su aportación económica al Vaticano, hasta volverla la novena del mundo, según destacó el cardenal Sebastiani.

Giving Charity a Good Name

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… This debate over charity and philanthropy is crucial for America’s foundations. A new and perhaps surprising figure entered the debate in January, when Pope Benedict XVI issued his first encyclical, Deus caritas est (“God is love”), and insisted that there is no substitute for charity—for the direct, personal involvement of individuals and communities in the lives of those who are suffering, those in need of material or educational assistance, or those simply needing the consolation of human contact. Deus caritas est is not, to be sure, a broadside aimed from one side at another in the philanthropy wars. It has things to say, however, that deserve reflection by all concerned, because they challenge us to re-examine our understanding of modern philanthropy…

http://philanthropyroundtable.org/magazines/2006/marapr/blessingsofcharity.htm

A Sage in Christendom

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By FOUAD AJAMI, Wall Street Journal, May 1, 2006; Page A14

For Bernard Lewis, there is something now of the closing of a circle. As a young man, he had been on His Majesty’s service during the Second World War, working for British intelligence between 1940 and 1945. The young medievalist had been pressed into modern government work, and that experience had given him his taste for contemporary political affairs. This new war is something of a return to his beginnings. For an immensely gregarious man of unfailing wit and personal optimism, a darkness runs through his view of the future of the Western democracies. “In 1940, we knew who we were, we knew who the enemy was, we knew the dangers and the issues,” he told me when I pressed him for a reading of the struggle against Islamic radicalism. “In our island, we knew we would prevail, that the Americans would be drawn into the fight. It is different today. We don’t know who we are, we don’t know the issues, and we still do not understand the nature of the enemy.”

The Road to Ruin Passes Through Beijing

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by William R. Hawkins    Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Blind adherence to free trade ideology led England to continue to follow policies that allowed her to be surpassed by Germany and the United States. In fact, but for American assistance, England would have been destroyed by Germany in the early 1940s. Today American leaders wear the same ideological blinders, which are allowing China to rise as an unchallenged economic, political, and military power. Unfortunately for America, there is no other world power standing in the wings ready to replicate her role in assisting England.

Transparency and Truth

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We picked this up to go beyond policy and into philosophy. For some of us in international development, where “transparency” is an established buzz-word, the last sentence cited is unsettling.

PRI Weekly Briefing, 11 April 2006, Vol. 8 / No. 15

[At the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast] President Bush spoke … but with all due respect to the President, Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison, Wis. gave a much more interesting speech. The gracious President pointed out that Chief Justice John Roberts was present. When this was mentioned, Roberts received louder applause than the President had when he was introduced. “I appreciate so very much the Chief Justice joining us,” said President Bush. “I’m proud you’re here, Chief Justice.”

[Bishop Morlino] noted that glaring inconsistencies in American life and law are not aberrations, but are part and parcel of relativism. After all, there is no imperative for a relativist to be consistent. “This inconsistency is especially neuralgic because the civil law is our teacher,” he said. “We have the very same individuals protesting against warrantless surveillance of possible terrorists’ activities, and then in the northwest, affirming warrantless surveillance of people’s garbage containers to ensure that no recyclables are to be found. On the one hand, warrantless surveillance with regard to possible terrorism is politically incorrect while warrantless surveillance of personal garbage is politically correct. . . .
A second example of this inconsistency has to do with killing of a mother who is carrying a child. In certain instances, the murderer is charged with the death of two human beings, both mother and child. However, if a woman exercises her alleged reproductive rights and has an abortion, the law clearly determines that no crime of murder has been committed. Thus, a human life is precious when someone thinks it is, be it a parent or be it a civil court, and when that life is deemed not to be human or otherwise be without value, then it is expendable.”

Those with a little understanding of human nature, and who have absorbed the lessons of George Orwell’s 1984, know that law and action follow language. “The second weapon in the arsenal of those who would dictate relativism to the rest of us consists in a series of linguistic redefinitions, euphemisms, and other anomalies,” Bishop Morlino pointed out. “Language, as the philosopher Heidegger said, ‘is the house of being.’ If our language is contorted and deconstructed through euphemisms, redefinitions and other anomalies, then the being housed by language becomes indeterminate. There are no fixed meanings, that is relativism pushed to its pinnacle, nihilism itself. . . . Our society speaks of openness and tolerance as almost supreme virtues, but to be open means precisely to be closed to the objective truth. If one would claim the existence of objective truth, one is considered closed and arrogant, rather than open and tolerant. So go the language games. The euphemistic approach is perhaps best captured by the words ‘late-term abortion.’ This term covers up the fact that a partially-born human being is brutally murdered in the process of being born.”

“Choice” has long been a term of great power, appealing to many Americans, but curiously, it is consistently applied to only one issue. “I’ve never heard anyone defend a pro-choice position with regard to bank robbery,” Morlino noted. “The only time this expression is used without reference to what we’re pro-choice about is when the most innocent and helpless human being is at stake. Pro-choice is synonymous with pro-abortion because no one speaks of pro-choice in any other context. Pro-choice is a euphemism that causes us to forget the baby.”

Even the very word “truth,” said the Bishop of Madison, seems to be giving way to the word “transparency” as a goal of public discourse.

Hu? Our Strategic Partner. That’s Hu, by George!

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Nothing has changed in more than a year. Please search for “Hu Lost China?” on this blog.

The children were right.

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Return of America First?, by Patrick J. Buchanan, April 18, 2006

The children were right. The system doesn’t work…What the polls are saying is that neoconservatism has failed and we
wish to be rid of it, that Davos Republicanism has failed and we wish
to be rid of it, that the open-borders immigration policy of the Wall
Street Journal is idiotic and we wish to be rid of it.

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