Tuesday, December 2, 2008

UK Bishops Begin Capitulation of Catholic Schools

edit: I originally titled this: "Catholic Bishops of England Make Arrangements to Ease Cession of their Schools to Muslims in Coming Decades"

Or, as the Daily Mail reports: Muslim prayer rooms should be opened in Catholic schools, say church leaders Why did I title my post the way I did? Because Europe's native population is dwindling and being replaced by Muslims and because England in particular is making way for Islamic Sharia Law to hold court in their country. Apparently the English don't think that their own culture is worthwhile enough to reproduce or to hold on to what is authentically Christian, Catholic, or even English. 100 years down the road, will America even know the UK?

Some English Bishops seem to be preparing for the rising Muslim population in their country to one day inherit their Catholic school system's facilities. Of course I'm being facetious there. But if the Telegraph's Damian Thompson is to be believed, the English Bishops are absolutely a mess. To me, it seems like many of them have no desire to shepherd their flock or see them bear enough fruit (spiritually or otherwise) to engender a subsequent generation. Either that, or they're all campaigning to instead become the next Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury.

In the article, Daphne McLeod puts it well when she says, "If Muslim parents choose a Catholic school then they accept that it is going to be a Catholic school and there will not be facilities for ritual cleansing and prayer rooms" and "I don't think the bishops should go looking for problems. Where will it stop?" Although the news made Muslim parents of Catholic-schooled children "delighted", I think it really exposes the incorrect focus of Church leaders in a country (like ours) that has largely failed to inculcate the culture (or the faith) of Catholicism to its children, perhaps for decades.

Pope Benedict XVI is deciding on a successor to shepherd the Catholic Archdiocese of Westminster, whose bishop has served as a sort of leader for the rest of the English Bishops since some point after the time Catholic hierarchy were allowed back into England. Please pray, and pray hard that Benedict will once again give faithful Catholics cause to cheer!

It's so sad that the bishops of a country that is known for St. Thomas More (!) and St. Edmund Campion bow down so reverently to the lukewarm current of public pressure. But I should really give those bishops more credit for their actions. After all, it takes their own "drive" to take the Catholic Church in England, given its history and martyrs, and make it less Catholic than "High Church" Anglicanism.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Catholic Culture in Online Media

The other day I examined a YouTube widget where you can choose channels of "YouTube Partners" that you're willing to have posted in the sidebar of your blog in exchange for ad revenue. While attempting to add channels that I like, it soon became obvious that the "Partners" are a more exclusive group than I thought. There is a difference between Partners and just any random person who posts a video (even if it's good).

According to the site, "YouTube Partners" are those video makers who are paid by YouTube to keep making videos because they bring lots of traffic to YouTube. When adding this widget, there are categories to help you find videos that you think would fit with your site (e.g. Entertainment, Comedy, Sports) but no category for Religion.

I'm not sure whether this means that religious videos aren't as valued or that religious videos don't bring in as many eyeballs to the site. Perhaps Catholics just don't patronize the companies who pay YouTube for those eyeballs. Who knows. You can go with whatever YouTube "thinks" goes with your site, but you don't know what you're getting. Perhaps something that would reflect poorly on you.

There are (at least) dozens of very good Catholic videos on YouTube. Unfortunately, the keyword "Catholic" pulled up politically liberal channels (TheYoungTurks), atheist/anti-theist channels (TheAmazingAtheist), and the like because they were the only Partners to choose from who used the term Catholic as a tag, probably to ridicule them in a video. Who knows why, but at the moment when it comes to Partners' channels, you're more likely to get something anti-Catholic or just un-Catholic.

So who cares. When my fellow conservatives analyze this last political election, they point to a need to change the culture and trust that people's hearts will follow. (I agree of course, but during and after that I think we need to push for a mechanism like Ranked Choice Voting or else the Republican Party is going to corner us conservatives every two to four years into a desperate, lesser-of-two-evils vote for their various "anybody but a Democrat!" candidates and then proceed to do very little or nothing to improve the situation of the innocent unborn.)

So if we're going to spread Catholic culture, we need to first partake of Catholic culture. Now where to start? I'd say we should consume something Catholic and share it if we liked it. Ask for a recommendation from a priest or other spiritual advisor. Curtis Martin, the founder of FOCUS (the Fellowship of Catholic University Students) recommends never recommending a book that you haven't read. I suspect that his advice is spot on. Of these two choices, what makes a better gift when you're buying something for someone's Confirmation, conversion to the Catholic faith, etc.?

A) a book that I "saw at the store and thought it might be good"
B) a book that I "also own myself and got a lot out of reading"

By process of elimination, I think it's 'B'. I've gifted a good number of Catholic books that I hadn't read yet and nobody has ever mentioned the gift to me again, so 'A' is out.

When it comes to online media, there's something there for people who don't have the time or fortitude to tackle extracurricular books. I would like to see real, orthodox Catholic channels like AscensionPress08(Christopher West) or wordonfirevideo (Fr. Barron) thrive and reach Partner status. There are probably a lot of young Catholics who use YouTube. Sign up for an account there and subscribe to channels like Christopher West's, and Fr. Barron's. Then share it. Thanks.

Credit to Marcel at Mary's Aggies" for mentioning Fr. Barron's channel today.

PS, if you can't be a "bookworm", be a "tapeworm". You can get a great 10-CD set of Christopher West Theology of the Body CD's at The Gift Foundation for only US$4.90, down from the previous $10, which was also very cheap.

Update: the "Naked Without Shame" series is now available for free online download!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ranked Choice Voting on YouTube

A visual explanation of one of the methods of Ranked Choice/Preferential voting! I love it. This video from FairVote.org makes a very good point for Dem and GOP supporters: Instant Runoff Voting would limit the effect of spoiler candidates.

If you are committed to staying with the Republican Party (as many of my friends are), watch the video, but consider Candidate 'A' to a Democrat, 'B' Republican, and 'C' Constitution Party (a conservative third party) as you watch.

Big party supporters might want to be considering this as well. According to the video, spoiler candidates today can have an even greater effect at a local level than they do on a national scale. Every politician starts somewhere, and many (most?) start in local elections. Most don't Schwarzenegger their way into a governorship. Remember how far Sarah Palin has come? Wasilla was a necessary step before her eventual Vice Presidential candidacy. Most major candidates have a longer journey before reaching that stage, though. Again, I re-iterate the Chinese axiom: "the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step."

Perhaps my biggest reason to support Ranked Choice Voting is that I believe it would be a game changer for the political arena. Political parties would eventually be forced to court voters as independent candidates begin to claim seats as mayors, state legislators, and so on. I would be concerned, however, if it spawned a mess of flip-floppy mercenary candidates ready to run for whatever party will have them when they don't get the GOP nomination.

Last thought: I, for one, helped vote G.W. Bush into a second term on an "anybody but John Kerry" platform in 2004. I KNOW I'm not alone. I don't regret it, but I wish I'd had another choice.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Headline: More flies caught with honey than vinegar

Today I read Dawn Eden's post about a young pro-choice student (link STILL broken as of 11/6/08) who had blogged on her first experiences shadowing an abortionist as he carried out his deeds. The blog has since been taken down entirely, but the relevant post is reproduced on Dawn's blog ->here. Unfortunately, the author claims that she was beset by pro-lifer hate-mail and was forced to take down her blog.

Pro-lifer hate-mail? Shouldn't we pro-life proponents ALL be able to easily agree that the latter (hate-mail) should never come from the former (pro-lifers)? If we're truly echoing Christ in our defense of unborn life, we should be receiving hate-mail, never writing it.

In the pro-life movement so much harm is done by Pharisees: those who profess right belief but do not evidence the fruits of the Holy Spirit in their words and lives. All the real good is done be the servants, the sidewalk counselor, the crisis pregnancy centers. As my newsflash says: more flies caught with honey than vinegar. Rational people will choose to side with the more compassionate, less bitter movement.

I live in an area with a very strong Pro-life movement. While I've never fully involved myself, I support them, and I've never had cause to regret it because they're awesome. They protest abortion out of LOVE and they protest WITH love. Every experience I've had in front of a Planned Parenthood has been prayerful and peaceful, and a few have even been inspiring.

I do understand that not all pro-life efforts are motivated by love and that's really a shame. It's unfortunate that they get so much press. They're the exception, not the rule! I think that as the culture war seethes, we have to point to unfair coverage of pro-life efforts as one of the accelerants of that fire. It's hard to convince people of our loving intent when we get conflated with arsonists and bombers.

edited 11/6/08

Ranked Voting Follow-up

I want to thank those who have commented publicly and privately on my post about Ranked Voting I'm getting some objections more than once, which I want to address, just as my opinions, and I thank those who have shared theirs with me.

One concern about advocating for ranked voting is that it's very long term. There's no perfect party waiting in the wings to take up the mantle that the GOP dropped. The best candidates to become that would be the Constitution Party, followers of Ron Paul, or more likely a new entity. In my opinion, the problem of how long it would take to get ranked voting is one reason to start pushing toward this now.

As the Chinese axiom states, "the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." For those who want to rankle the "Grand Old Party," we have to start somewhere to get to that goal. The bipartisan system is very entrenched, after all! The GOP would fight harder against the implementation of ranked voting once the heir apparent to the conservative throne is nipping at their heels. So it's best to start now.

Another concern about ranked voting is that it could open a "Pandora's box," unleashing the left-wing radical parties out there, other non-conservative parties, and independent candidates. In fact, I would guess from my reading that ranked voting is more often advocated by such groups than by conservatives. I'm not worried, though.

Remember that nobody's vote is wasted under this system and you don't have to rank candidates you wouldn't want your vote going to! Most people I know would have voted for John McCain first and nobody second. One physical therapist I know would have ranked Ron Paul first and McCain second (her vote would have gone to McCain anyway).

I use presidential candidates for illustrative purposes only. Again, I think the first phase for conservatives would be to get some worthy third party candidates into State Congress and the U.S. House and work up from there, perhaps over the course of a decade. I know Americans (I'm one) often have short attention spans. I also re-emphasize "worthy" candidates! An eventual conservative third party shouldn't be change for change's sake!

Continuing with the Pandora's box objection, I think the biggest loser would be the Democrat establishment. They'd hemorrhage state and U.S. House seats to the Green and Libertarian Parties, whose platforms aren't exactly the same as the Democrats'. The liberal third party gains would likely be minimal and at the expense of the DNC.

Although conservative third party gains would be at the expense of the GOP, I anticipate that they would work toward many similar, deserving goals including smaller government, protection of the unborn from abortion(and now, the recently born from infanticide too), freeing the market, etc.

Lastly, a concession. It's been suggested that Europe suffers from its multitude of parties. I'll just have to investigate that, then! Post-Christian Europe (or as I prefer to think of it: Pre-Re-Christian Europe) has many problems, biggest of which are their loss of the Christian faith and demographic collapse. I think this is more of a problem of the soul. We can probably agree that politics follow people's hearts and minds and not the other way around. I think religion (or its absence) moves the heart and culture forms based on many factors.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Preferential Voting Could Save Pro-Life Voters in the Next Election

I want to make a suggestion for a project for voting Catholics to work on for the next four years:

Preferential (aka Ranked) Voting

It's called "Ranked Voting" or "Preferential Voting". According to Mark Monmonier's Bushmanders and Bullwinkles: How Politicians Manipulate Electronic Maps and Census Data to Win Elections this practice is used in other parts of the world that don't suffer through a strict two-party system. Some of us who consider ourselves conservative pro-life Catholics and Christians of other stripes find ourselves grumbling about the current state of things, especially after this most recent electoral disappointment where we await the most liberal and pro-abortion President in American History.

Some of us wonder if a third party could serve us better. I think it's premature for conservative Christians to push for the creation of a strong third party right now. A third party would be in big trouble in a hurry if it somehow materialized tomorrow.

Ranked or Preferential Voting would ensure that in the future there WILL be room for more parties. Basically, it ENSURES that you never "throw your vote away", as some people claim third party voting does to one's vote. It does this by giving the voter that a single transferable vote that transfers to second and third choices as the voter's choices are knocked out, allowing us to vote for big party candidates as a contingency, but to show our support for a hypothetical third party of our choice first. And hopefully, we'd one day see a third party of more authentically pro-life representatives and senators in our States and in Washington D.C. I strongly believe that this won't come until preferential voting, or some other way of voting, comes first.

Let's take an example that doesn't involve me suggesting the Constitution Party. Say you take a guy who, for God knows what reason, is voting in a Presidential election and he leans toward the Green Party, likes the Libertarian party a little less, but always ends up voting Democratic. In this previous election, his vote would be applied to Obama because in the first two rounds of processing, the Green and Libertarian candidates would be knocked out. Read the article cited for a better explanation. Again, I maintain that this would allow us to put a future, admittedly pie-in-the-sky-idealistic, third party candidate on the ballot. I just want to see that option!

Many Pro-life Catholics tend to vote Republican either enthusiastically or with a grain of salt, and the GOP's policies could definitely be improved upon for our purposes. Even conservative pro-lifers working against abortion should also be working against the death penalty and unethical torture practices, and believers of Catholic just war doctrine have problems with pre-emptive war, all of which are baggage that the Republican party carries.

According to one Steve Skojek (quoted here),
"We've heard a lot of talk this election cycle (and the one before it . . . and the one before that . . .) about stopping a great evil by voting for a lesser one. And yet, the only certain outcome of constantly choosing the lesser of two evils is the perpetuation of evil."
I agree, although I'm hesitant to call either party evil in and of itself. My own family fights over this: we're all pro-life and we hate having to choose parties right now; we're a house divided in this way.

I would love to hear what people think about Preferential voting. I think it could lead to a lot of good and is the one thing that could finally shake the complacent bipartisan system and force the Republican party to compete for Pro-life votes by producing more results! Even better it could inaugurate another party, espousing better Catholic ideals that even Evangelicals and other people of faith could get behind. We need to use our current frustration and unleash it on some new goal to fix our country before it goes through a "parting of the ways", as Father Benedict Groeschel has speculated.

Image Credit:

* Sample ballot image created in MSPaint by Tom Ruen (For public domain)

edits: bear with me, I'm improving my writing little by little