March 30, 2009

Holocaust deconstruction unmasked

Was Judaism itself responsible for the Holocaust? At least one deconstructionist thinks so, claiming that Jewish belief in absolutes was the real culprit.

This draft is a casual, yet critical foray into the surreal world of deconstructionism. I will touch on a few salient points of deconstructionism’s ideology and social engineering agenda primarily as exemplified in a lecture given by a deconstructionist philosophy professor. This excursion includes a peek behind the curtain of the postmodernist stage to get a glimpse of post-structuralism unmasked.

Deconstructionists may readily object to my characterization of deconstructionism as ideology, claiming to the contrary that deconstructionism stands opposed to ideologies. Nevertheless, can we not identify in deconstructionism a more or less systematic body of ideas about human life and culture, a characteristic way of thinking, and a dogmatic mindset? Deconstructionism typically denies the existence of absolutes, including truth. The deconstructionists’ skepticism about truth is manifestly dogmatic. What deconstructionist, or any other skeptic, ever speaks doubtingly about skepticism.

Unlike the philosophical skepticism of Pyrrho, Montaigne, Gassendi, Bayle, Hume, Santayana, Camus and others, deconstructionism’s skepticism takes a non-philosophical turn. This is because deconstructionism is not philosophy as normally understood. It is anti-philosophical. In one sense, it is true that one must philosophize, and necessarily so, to argue an anti-philosophical position. On the other hand, from the perspective of deconstructionism’s social or ‘political’ agenda, we can accurately describe deconstructionism as a lateral move away from philosophy. This strategic move will someday merit deconstructionism a mere extended footnote in the history of philosophy.

Deconstructionism, as everyone knows, denies man the knowledge his senses and intellect are capable of attaining. However, deconstructionism fails to present any compelling philosophical argument supporting its position of radical skepticism, i.e. solipsism. For this, and certain other reasons, I characterize deconstructionism as primarily an attitude: an attitude of disaffection, hostility to permanent things, and a distancing from reality. It is a profusely articulated expression of teenage rebellion.

We will now look at an example of a deconstructionist’s use, or rather misuse, of the Holocaust account, as a means of social engineering, and an attack on absolute values and philosophy itself.

Professor Little plays the big Holocaust card

Some time ago, I attended a university lecture for graduate level philosophy students given by a deconstructionist philosophy professor, whom I will call Professor Little. Professor Little is a devotee of that aberrant French past time called Deconstructionism. Counted among his intellectual lights are Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Friedrich Nietzsche and (pro-Nazi) Martin Heidegger. Professor Little’s lecture was more bizarre that what I expected, yet he seemed brilliant, professional, and well spoken.

In typical postmodern speak, Professor Little, in a matter-of-fact way, made the contra factual claim the Jews themselves were responsible for the Holocaust. Specifically, the Jewish belief in absolutes of right and wrong, being, and truth created a climate of absolutist thinking from which arose the total state, absolute power, Nazi persecutions…and the rest is history. Professor Little offered no evidence or proof to support his position.

Like the courtroom theatrics of an attorney, Professor Little’s objective was to present a strictly persuasive argument, one that instills the desired attitude and beliefs in the audience. The question whether his assertion about the cause of the Holocaust is true, that is, true in the usual sense of the word, becomes a stillborn issue with the deconstructionist. Like any radical skeptic, the deconstructionist denies the existence of truth, so proof in its usual sense does not exist in his surreal world.

Deconstructionism asserts that we cannot read meaning out of texts. Neither can we extract an author’s intention from his text. For various reasons, deconstructionists claim that we can never be sure of an author’s intent. Therefore, we can only read our interpretation into texts. Standards do not exist by which to decide whether one interpretation is more accurate than any other interpretation. The most that texts provide us are springboards for our own ideas.
Therefore, what we might normally consider historically accurate or plausible accounts of the causes that brought about the Holocaust are, open to the deconstructionist reinterpretation. New interpretations will not be any less accurate than that any other reading. To object to Professor Little about his non-historical take on the Holocaust will lead to, as is typical with any deconstructionist, interminable and fruitless discussions about language, interpretation, truth, signifiers, signified, and subjectivity.

Historical accounts of the Holocaust are merely text for the deconstructionist to manipulate and use to his own purposes. Historical fact and truth, is the normal sense of the terms, does not enter the equation. What then is Professor’s Little’s purpose in advancing his dubious interpretation of the Holocaust?

Professor Little intended his polished, postmodern ‘political’ speak to undermine belief in western metaphysics. He was not teaching philosophy; he was proselytizing students to the position that absolutes do not exist. Therefore any reasonable understanding of intentionality, meaning and communication fall by the wayside, victims of deconstructionism’s road clearing to that brave new world. There is no truth in communication; no grasping the meaning intended by an author. To argue the truth or factual nature of any account of the Holocaust becomes moot.

Regarding belief in the non-existence of truth, the graduate philosophy students were already most of the way there, most believing that truth and morality are relative. Therefore, Professor Little’s implication that any belief in absolute values is dangerous, destructive and leads to enormous evils such as the Holocaust fell gently on receptive ears. Professor Little impressed on the audience the counter-valence of relativity while devaluing permanent things.

The intended implication of privileging relativity is to promote the idea that a secular society of absolute relativists (is that an oxymoron?) will not experience atrocities such as the Holocaust. Deconstructionism refuses to recognize an objective standard that enables us to judge anything in itself as higher or lower, true or false, good or evil. Things are only what we say they are. Just as some people believe beauty only exists in the eye of the beholder, so deconstructionists assert that higher and lower, true and false, good and evil are strictly subjective values. What we value as evil today we may value later as good.

It is inconsistent, then, for the deconstructionist to judge the Holocaust as evil, since that value presupposes the existence of an objective standard for value judgments, a standard whose existence he summarily denies.

Truth, the politicizing of philosophy, and the demise of sound philosophy

It is mindboggling to realize that such drivel as Professor Little’s self-refuting claim, which says truth does not exist, passes these days for higher education. Consider this: If the statement, “Truth does not exist” is “true", then there exists at least one truth. Therefore, the statement, “Truth does not exist”, is false and self-refuting. Nonetheless, I could see that many attendees of the lecture felt (goose bumps all over) enlightened by Professor Little’s version of radical skepticism.

In deconstructing great works of the past, the deconstructionist would like us to believe that all language is ‘political’. His assertion is patently false because it fails to consider the multiple levels and functions of language. It is, rather, the deconstructionists’ own language, which is mostly ‘political’.

Deconstructionism does an end-run around truth by assuming that textual language is a chain of signifiers that does not point to independently existing signifieds. That is, texts do not portray a reality existing independently of the text. There is nothing outside of the text. Life itself is text.

According to the deconstructionist literary critic, understanding a text requires its deconstruction or dismantling to expose its covert rhetorical machinations. Textual deconstruction does not discover truth. Rather it claims to expose the emptiness and absence of truth that language previously concealed.

Language is all we can know. We do not know a single thing existing independently of the text. That we normally think of things as having independent, real existence in the world, apart from language, is merely an effect or by-product of language.

What normally appears as a consistent unified literary work, in the hands of a deconstructionist literary critic becomes a structure of rhetorical strategies and maneuvers. The critic exposes what is the absence of a unified, logically consistent, and intelligible meaning. This is the best that language can do for us since language is merely a chain of ungrounded signifiers.

Derridian criticism sees philosophical texts as often comprised of assumed opposites such as being and non-being, literal and metaphorical, and so on, in which one term is privileged over its opposite. Since, the gap existing between the polar signifiers is irresolvable, the deconstructionist critic may invert the oppositional terms, privileging the subsidiary term, which inverts the text, and by that exposes its contrivances. Since text is composed of terms that, for various reasons, the author privileges, and signifiers as previously mentioned are ungrounded, we find the absence of truth in philosophical texts, where once we thought truth existed.

What applies to the language of texts, applies in like manner to the language of speech. Deconstruction literary criticism, based on a false philosophy of language, is an almost pathological ravaging of literature, which substitutes for doing sound philosophy.

Professor Little’s next lecture point was a devaluation of Christian higher education. In so doing, Professor Little related the story of medieval university students debating how many angels are able to dance on the point of a needle. The audience laughed loudly. Professor Little implied that Christian higher education is for the silly minded and postmodern thinking is for the enlightened ones.

Angels on the point of a pin does sound like an odd subject to debate, but most people are unaware of the question’s significance. Even though some scholars find little evidence for this question in medieval universities, I believe it was an exercise in debate, logic, and ontology. For example, angels are incorporeal substances, so it matters not whether the corporeal object in question is the point of a needle, or something as large as planet Earth. In like manner, the logical analysis continues.

If our present-day universities taught sound philosophy, students might have the wherewithal to recognize Professor Little’s lecture as unadulterated nonsense – and he would be looking for another job, perhaps as a used car salesman. Now there is a rich idea for some creative writer! Can you imagine the sales pitch a deconstructionist car salesman might try out on a customer looking to buy a used car? For example, “The culturally conditioned idea that an automobile with four wheels is necessarily superior to this beauty with one wheel missing does not hold true for everyone. Superior and inferior are merely subjective terms lacking an absolute point of reference. Privileging four wheels discriminates. It marginalizes every wheel-challenged auto on this lot. What value attaches to a particular number of wheels varies with every individual’s unique perspective, which is determined by…...”.

Any person in their right mind would refuse to buy a car from this kind of salesman. Why, on the other hand, would anyone willingly buy into the deconstructionist’s lame sales pitch about that which is infinitely more important than a car, truth? The deconstructionist position on absolute truth is about as trustworthy as a car missing one of its wheels. Truth is an equation of thought and thing. When we deny the existence of immutable truth, we disassociate from reality and all that is knowable. Chaucer says in The Frankeleyns Tale, “Truth is the highest thing that man may keep.”

Universities were once bastions of truth; now they are bastions of anti-truth. There are exceptions, though, but I could almost count on one hand the number of universities in the U.S. that do genuine philosophy.

Many societies in the past held the philosopher in esteem, as a lover of wisdom: philo + sophia. He engaged in the most difficult of tasks—the pursuit of truth. The specific activity of philosophizing is contemplative; the true philosopher contemplates being. Teaching philosophy is the closest activity to philosophizing, but is not philosophizing (contemplating being). Still, everyone these days who earns a doctoral degree in philosophy proudly calls himself a philosopher. Most likely, though, he has only a meager background in traditional philosophy, and misunderstands key concepts of the greatest philosophers. One of my many pet peeves is the prevalence among philosophy professors of their faulty interpretation of Aristotle’s forms of physical beings as themselves physical. This fundamental exegetical error is reductionist and precludes a correct understanding of Aristotle’s metaphysics, psychology and epistemology. Form is the non-material component in every physical being. Immateriality is that which confers intelligibility on matter.

Still, many philosophy professors engage in a commendable search for truth, even though they are in significant error. The most pathetic of human beings are the so-called philosophers who dogmatically claim that truth does not exist.

This observation especially includes the deconstructionists, who exhibit a penchant for deconstructing every text in sight; from tomato soup can labels to classic works in political philosophy. The goal in deconstructing great works of western civilization is to create a rift by driving a wedge into the achievements of human reason and by it subverting belief in the truths of first philosophy, metaphysics.

The hijacking of Socrates, or, the deconstructionists’ most excellent adventure

Professor Little and his ilk fancy themselves as the true modern day disciples of Socrates. This is not a joke. Well, in a way it is. Professor Little, with a hint of self-satisfaction, lightly bemoaned that people accuse him of corrupting the youth of today just as the Athenians accused Socrates. (I can see why.)

I remember asking myself why a deconstructionist would consider himself a true disciple of Socrates. What could be more antithetical to each other than Socratic philosophy and deconstructionism? After all, Socrates argued against the Sophists, the relativists of his day. Socrates believed in absolutes such as truth, beauty, goodness and justice. He taught tendance of the soul (Know thyself); that man’s responsibility is to make his soul god-like (deiformity), and the human soul is immortal. The answer to my question came when Professor Little said Socrates taught what was “true” and needed for fifth century Athens, while he and other deconstructionists are teaching what is “true” and needed for our time. Now, why didn’t I think of that?

I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but deconstructionists inarguably have nothing whatever in common with Socrates, but they do have a lot in common with the Sophists. As Parmendides said, "The ways of falsehood are many, while the way of truth is one." Deconstructionists have created their own path to falsehood.

Deconstructionism’s small world or, everything I need to know I learned from Jacques Derrida, et al

The deconstructionist imagines himself to be a Nietzschean “free spirit”, superior to the culture in which he exists. He feels enlightened by his so-called discovery that absolutes do not exist. He summarily relieves himself of that difficult age-old philosophical task of seeking truth. Life, in a sense, is simple for the deconstructionist because reality is for him (theoretically) unknowable. He exists in an small world of his own devise, contented with his summum bonum: deconstruction and doughnuts. If the deconstructionist ever roused the moral courage to admit the intelligibility of a world existing independently of the knower, he would then have to deal with it.

The deconstructionist has imprisoned his spirit, unable to know or believe in anything outside himself. Even more, the wedge he drives into culture to undermine western metaphysics is the same wedge he has driven into his own soul. He has created a rift within his psyche that keeps him from ever knowing himself in the Socratic sense.

As I previously mentioned, deconstructionism claims we cannot discover the meaning an author intends with his text. Thus, the deconstructionist’s wedge undermines human communication, and by it tries to sever present-day civilization from its past. Ideas do have consequences, and the deconstructionists’ objective is to sever western civilization from its roots (which is precisely our existing crisis) so man becomes malleable; re-formable according some type not yet specified.

Deconstructionism enslaves rather than frees. It is one more symptom of that spiritual disorder proliferating throughout western civilization during the last four centuries. Rather than being the free spirit he imagines himself to be, or superior to the culture in which he happens to exist, he remains a tragic, earth-bound product of the times.

(Note: I will post soon a discussion of the principles of a sound philosophy of language.)


The interminable French Revolution, or, thanks a lot Protestant Reformers

While reading the always-boring French deconstructionist, Jacques Derrida, I began speculating about the changing beliefs and ideas leading up to the infamous French Revolution. The French Revolution’s cults of Reason and Supreme Being, resulted from the subjectivity that spread throughout Europe—an outcome of the Protestant Reformation. Did the ideologies that resulted in the cults of Reason and Supreme Being degenerate even deeper into subjectivity? Did the cult of Reason morph into a subordination of Reason to Will, such as we find in Deconstructionism in which man becomes, at least ideally so, a mere play of forces? Thus, we have here our new age cult—the cult of Will. Has the disaffected postmodern intellectual merely replaced the French cult of a distant Supreme Being with the cult of vague Heideggerian philosophical ideas, or just resigned himself to a meaningless life of denying absolutes in post-structuralism’s solipsistic world?

It seems the French Revolution is playing itself out in our present-day, postmodern universities.

March 27, 2009

Lessons of the Shoah

If my memory is correct, I read somewhere that on closing Auschwitz, a sign placed at the entrance said, “Never Again”.

Since the end of WWII, stories of the Shoah and Europe’s rabid anti-Semitism during the 20th century reach us in books, lectures, movies, television documentaries, and Holocaust museums. Retelling of the Shoah is common enough to ensure that tragic event will not go the way of the memory hole. Nevertheless, are we justified in assuming an atrocity like this will never happen again? I do not think so. That is, we have not yet learned the right lessons from the Shoah.

Nothing in history is inevitable, but history does have a way of repeating itself, though never in the same way. In America, we have unspeakable crimes committed daily against a selected class of individuals, prenatal children. So far, the number of prenatal children legally executed in America, at least 27 million, has dwarfed the number of people killed by the Third Reich.

German government legally exterminated the disabled, Jews, Christians, and others. Yet, there was no legal basis for anyone to challenge the unjust laws of the Third Reich. Germany's govenrment did not recognize natural law jurisprudence, which could have provided the legal grounds for challenging corrupt laws. Instead, Germany’s legal system went the way of legal positivism. This brings me to my next point about history repeating itself. America has also gone the way of legal positivism, and now views natural law jurisprudence as subversive.

I will next briefly explain the concepts of legal positivism and natural law, which should make it clear why we should return to natural law jurisprudence.

Legal positivism

One of the negative outcomes of the Enlightenment period was a secular utilitarian philosophy of law called ‘legal positivism’. There are variant theories of legal positivism, but all positivists agree that even if a human or positive law is unjust it does not entail the law is invalid or not a law. Positivists define law without reference to justice or morals. Positivists do not recognize any law higher than positive law, such as would provide an objective standard for deciding the justness of human law.

According to legal positivism, a law is valid solely because it is enforced, and any judge remains unconditionally bound by legislative acts, even if they are unjust. John Austin and Hans Kelsen are notable modern exponents of legal positivism.

Natural law

In contrast to legal positivism, many ancient Greek and Roman writers such as Aristotle, Sophocles, the Stoic philosophers, Cicero, and so on, recognized the existence of a law superior to human law. It is a universal law, which is the same everywhere, and binds all men in conscience. We call this law the ‘natural law’, or ‘natural moral law’. Natural law provides the basis for positive or human law. To the degree that any positive law contradicts the natural law, it is not law. It is, rather, a corruption of law, and more akin to force than law.

Gratian (12th cent.) explains the superiority of natural law: “Natural law is superior in dignity to customs and enactments. For whatever has been either received through usage or written down that is contrary to natural law, is to be considered void and invalid. “ (Decretum, D. 8, Pt. 2.)

The pre-Socratic philosopher, Heraclitus of Ephesus (536-470 B.C), says the divine law is the source for human laws: “Wisdom is the foremost virtue, and wisdom consists in speaking the truth, and in lending an ear to nature and acting according to her. Wisdom is common to all...They who would speak with intelligence must hold fast to the —wisdom that is common to all, as the city holds fast to its law, and even more strongly. For all human laws are fed by one divine law.”

The Greek dramatist, Sophocles in 441 B.C. refers to the natural law as the “unchangeable unwritten code of Heaven”:

“Nor do I deemYour ordinance of so much binding force,
As that a mortal man could overbear
The unchangeable unwritten code of Heaven;
This is not of today or of yesterday,
But lives forever, having origin
Whence no man knows: whose sanctions I were loath
In Heaven's sight to provoke,
fearing the will of any man.”

(Antigone, II)

The Apostle Paul spoke of the natural law as engraved on the heart of man; “For instance, pagans who never heard of the Law but are led by reason to do what the Law commands, may not actually ‘possess’ the Law, but they can said to ‘be’ the Law. They can point to the substance of the Law engraved on their hearts—they can call a witness, that is their own conscience—they have accusation and defence, that is their own inner mental dialogue. …on the day when, according to the Good News I preach, God, through Jesus Christ, judges the secrets of mankind (Rm 2:13-16).”

About natural law, St. Thomas Aquinas says, “The natural law dates from the creation of the rational creature. It does not vary according to time, but remains unchangeable (ST I-II, 94, 5).” St. Augustine remarks, “In temporal law there is nothing just and lawful, but what man has drawn from the eternal law (De libero arbitrio, I, 6).”

Revelation and natural law are complementary; they are two ways for man to know what is objectively right for his nature as a rational animal. Positive law has its source the natural law. Positive law is just only to the degree that it reflects natural law. Natural law jurisprudence recognizes this objective standard of right and wrong, and provides legal grounds for challenging unjust laws.

The Nazi regime passed laws that reflected their pseudo-values and counter-valences. Contrary to what legal positivism asserts, every law reflects a system of values, whether it is that of divine law, atheistic socialism, or some other set of values.

After the war, the Nuremberg trials highlighted Germany’s need for natural law jurisprudence. This is a lesson we have yet to learn from the Shoah. In America, our lawyers, lawmakers, and judges acquiesce to or actively support legal positivism.

The Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God

America’s Founders believed in a natural law philosophy of government. We see a reference to this philosophy in the Declaration of Independence where it speaks of the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”. The Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God provided the Founders with the legal basis for succeeding from Great Britain. Sir William Blackstone (1723-1780) the famous judge and law professor, and author of the four-volume Commentaries on the Laws of England, spoke of “the Laws of Nature”, and the laws “of Nature’s God.”

Blackstone stated, “Man, considered as a creature, must necessarily be subject to the laws of his Creator, for he is entirely a dependent being…And consequently, as man depends absolutely upon his Maker for every thing, it is necessary that he should in all points conform to his Maker’s will. This will of his Maker is called the law of nature…This law of nature, being coeval with mankind and dictated by God himself, is of course superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times: no human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this; and such of them as are valid derive all their force, and all their authority, mediately or immediately, from this original…The doctrines thus delivered we call the revealed or divine law and they are to be found only in the holy Scriptures. These precepts, when revealed, are found upon comparison to be really a part of the original law of nature….Upon these two foundations, the law of nature and the law of revelation, depend all human laws; that is to say, no human laws should be suffered to contradict these.”

Natural law jurisprudence can restore sanity to our legal system; provide an objective standard for challenging unjust laws, and facilitate an end to abortion. Because our culture is secularized, many people view the idea of returning to natural law as subversive and counter-cultural, which is exactly why we need natural law jurisprudence. Perhaps it is not too late to learn the right lessons from the Shoah.

War Prayer

by Mark Twain

It was a time of great exulting and excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and sputtering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest depths of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles, beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener. It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast doubt upon its righteousness straight way got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety's sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

Sunday morning came – next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their young faces alight with martial dreams – visions of the stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender! – then home from the war, bronzed heroes, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag, or failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation:

"God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest, Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!"

Then came the "long" prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was, that an ever-merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers, and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in the day of battle and the hour of peril, bear them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory – An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher's side and stood there, waiting. With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal, "Bless our arms, grant us victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!"

The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside – which the startled minister did – and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said:

"I come from the Throne – bearing a message from Almighty God!" The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. "He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import – that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of – except he pause and think.

"God's servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two – one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him Who heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this – keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor's crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.

"You have heard your servant's prayer – the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it – that part which the pastor – and also you in your hearts – fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory – must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God the Father fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle – be Thou near them! With them – in spirit – we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with hurricanes of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it – for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen."

[After a pause.]
"Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits."

It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

March 26, 2009

Human Life Amendment

Do we need a human life amendment that recognizes the personhood of the prenatal child?

Jim Sedlak is vice president of American Life League (ALL), a national pro-life organization based in Stafford, Virginia. For a long time, ALL has been, and still is, one of my favorite pro-life organizations. Sedlak is working to build support for a pro-life constitutional amendment that recognizes the personhood of the preborn child. While Sedlak’s aims are noble, I have two reasons for disagreeing with the objective of promoting a pro-life amendment.

First objection

My first reason for objecting to a pro-life amendment is that an amendment to the U.S. Constitution is legally unnecessary. A proper reading and application of Due Process contained in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments would protect the unborn from abortion.

Due process states, “No person shall…be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;” Since due process refers to criminal proceedings, and the preborn child cannot be guilty of any crime, government remains prohibited from depriving him of life. The Fifth Amendment binds federal government and the Fourteenth Amendment binds the states.

While the Courts have interpreted due process beyond its original intention, due process, in a particular sense affords comprehensive legal protection. That is, it would be a strange set of affairs, indeed, if federal and state governments are constrained from depriving a person of life without due process while individuals, non-governmental groups, agencies, or businesses acting under their jurisdictions violate the right to life with impunity.

Protecting the preborn child’s natural right to equal protection under the law requires legal recognition of his personhood. This entails a non-discriminatory application of “person” contained in the Bill of Rights’ due process clause. Even the Roe Court realized protection of the preborn child under due process of the Fourteenth Amendment depends on legal recognition of the personhood of the unborn. Justice Blackmum stated,

"The appellee and certain amici argue that the fetus is a "person" within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. In support of this, they outline at length and in detail the well-known facts of fetal development. If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant's case, of course, collapses, for the fetus' right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment." Roe v. Wade, IX, A

As we know, the Roe Court majority refused to recognize the unborn child as a person, despite the irrefutable evidence for his personhood. In addition, the Court forced itself into dissembling and invented something about “penumbras formed by emanations from” the Bill of Rights (whatever that means is anyone’s guess) the constitutional right of privacy. This newly “discovered” (fabricated) version of the right of privacy became the basis for the majority decision in Roe v. Wade.

Inarguably, the Supreme Court engaged in a fraudulent reading of the Bill of Rights, and refused positive consideration of the irrefutable scientific evidence for the personhood of the preborn child. The evidence for the personhood of the prenatal child is even greater today, and a proper reading and application of “person” as contained in the due process clause would be enough to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The Founders believed that the fundamental responsibility of good government is protection of human life. When any government fails in its primary and fundamental responsibility, the people should change or abolish that government. The Declaration of Independence states,

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”

Why doe not the Constitution specifically refer to abortion? There was a noted increase in understanding of the early stages of prenatal development from about the middle of the nineteenth century. Before that time, the common assumption was that personhood began at “quickening.” If Americans during the founding era had satisfactory scientific knowledge about prenatal development, the framers surely would have incorporated a reference to abortion in the Constitution. With our current understanding of prenatal development, there can be no justifiable reason for discriminating against preborn children by refusing them equal protection of the law.

Second objection

My second reason for not being enthusiastic about a human life amendment is there is an unpredictable risk involved. That is, if the U.S. Constitution is open for amendment, there may be unforeseen and undesirable results. Opportunists in Congress may propose changes we do not need. This should be a serious concern given our current cultural and political climate. Who can assure us there will be no shady deals and ugly compromises worked out by congressional representatives in low lit, smoke-filled back rooms?

Faith, Hope, and Love are needed

Whatever political or legal actions one thinks are best to protect the lives of unborn children, the battle is primarily a spiritual one. The Apostle Paul reminds us: “For it is not against human enemies that we have to struggle, but against the Sovereignties and the Powers who originate the darkness in this world, the spiritual army of evil in the heavens. This is why you must rely on God’s armour, or you will not be able to put up any resistance when the worst happens, or have enough resources to hold your ground (Eph. 6:12-13).”

The abortion industry is a demonic enterprise. Those promoting a culture of death have involved themselves in satanic religious activity in which abortion is the high sacrament. And Christ informs us in the Gospels that some demons are only cast out by much prayer and fasting.

March 25, 2009

Susan B. Anthony v. Seven Black-Robed Despots

"Guilty? Yes. No matter what the motive, love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed. It will burden her conscience in life, it will burden her soul in death; But oh, thrice guilty is he who drove her to the desperation which impelled her to the crime!"

(Susan B. Anthony, The Revolution, 4(1):4 July 8, 1869)

We know all too well Supreme Court Justice, William A. Blackmun, speaking for a seven-to-two majority in the 1973 Roe v. Wade case, declined legal recognition of the unborn child’s personhood. It was not that seven black-robed despots were too stupid to realize the preborn child is a “person” according to the meaning of the term in the Fourteenth Amendment. The word “person” in the Fourteenth Amendment meant the same as the commonplace term, “human being”. Therefore, the Court’s spurious and dissembling decision remains impossible to justify. After all, even a corporation can gain the legal status of fictitious person.

The incredible degree of public ignorance about the life and personhood of the preborn child is largely the outcome of disinformation spread by pro-abortion organizations, especially Planned Parenthood. In addition, states already having liberalized abortion laws, such as New York, but chiefly the overriding unconstitutional federal cases Roe v. Wade with its companion case, Doe v. Bolton, promoted nationwide moral confusion about abortion. Laws that legalize abortion create moral confusion in the social body because the law is a teacher, and what these laws teach is disrespect the prenatal child's right-to-life. When society devalues the lives of the most innocent of human beings, by simple logical extension, all human life becomes devalued.

When some people come to the awareness that abortion takes the life of a child, a culture of legalized abortion will have desensitized their moral conscience so they will lack any reverence for human life. Their response, consequently, to the fact of abortion being murder, becomes an apathetic “So what?”

If we took a trip back in time to the late 19th century, we would see that Susan B. Anthony and the early feminists clearly understood abortion as taking the life of a child. The early feminists, in contrast to the false feminism of the 20th century and today, held the ethically correct view of abortion as ‘child murder’. The following quotes from early feminists reveal the moral courage displayed in their countercultural challenge to society’s inhumanity.

"When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." (Elizabeth Caddy Stanton, Letter to Julia Ward Howe, October 16, 1873, recorded in Howe's diary at Harvard University Library)

I hesitate not to assert that most of the crime of ‘child murder,’ ‘abortion,’ ‘infanticide,’ lies at the door of the male sex.” (Matilda Gage, The Revolution, April 9, 1868)

To my certain knowledge this crime is not confined to those whose love of ease, amusement and fashionable life leads them to desire immunity from the cares of children: but is practiced by those whose inmost souls revolt from the dreadful deed…What then has driven these women to the desperation necessary to force them to commit such a deed? This question being answered, I believe we shall have such an insight into the matter as to be able to talk more clearly of a remedy.” (Susan B. Anthony, The Revolution, July 8, 1869)

The murder of the innocents goes on. Shame and crime darken the history of our whole land. Hence it was fitting that a true woman should protest with all the energy of her soul against this woeful crime.” (Paulina Wright Davis, The Revolution, January 20, 1870, eulogy to pro-life Dr. Charlotte Lozier)

Scores of persons advertise their willingness to commit this form of murder, and with unblushing effrontery announce their names…in the daily papers. No one seems to be shocked by the fact…the single fact that child murderers practice their profession without let of hindrance, and open infant butcheries unquestioned, establishing themselves with an impunity that is not allowed to the slaughterers of cattle, is, of itself, sufficient to prove that society makes a demand which they alone can supply.” (Sarah Norton, Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly, November 19, 1870)

We are aware that many women attempt to excuse themselves for procuring abortions, upon the ground that it is not murder. But the fact of resort to so weak an argument only shows the more palpably that they fully realize the enormity of the crime. Is it not equally destroying the would-be future oak, to crush the sprout before it pushes its head above the sod, as it is to cut down the sapling, or cut down the tree? Is it not equally to destroy life, to crush it in its very germ, and to take it when the germ has evolved to any given point in its line of development?” (Victoria Woodhull and Tennessee Claflin, Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly, June 20, 1874)

These self-same servants form the greater proportion of the unmarried who patronize such dens as that in Chatham Street. They…learn from the common gossip in the house…that child-murder is an easy and every-day affair. The pernicious effect of all this is to make the seduction of the unmarried an easy matter, and murder an accepted contingency.” (Sarah Norton, Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly, November 19, 1870)

"When a man steals to satisfy hunger, we may safely conclude that there is something wrong in society - so when a woman destroys the life of her unborn child, it is an evidence that either by education or circumstances she has been greatly wronged." (Mattie Brinkerhoff, The Revolution, 4(9):138-9 September 2, 1869)

Imagine for a moment what the event would have been like if a time machine transported Susan B. Anthony and friends forward to the year 1973 to debate seven black-robed despots on the personhood of the unborn.

Back to the real world: it is well past time for more Americans to emulate the pro-life efforts of the early feminists, find the moral energy to provide aid to pregnant mothers in desperation, and protect the lives of prenatal children. What greater work is there than saving the life of a child?

(For more information about pro-life feminism, visit the Feminists for Life website

March 23, 2009

Shoah Denial

Bishop Williamson, a member of the St. Pius X Society, reportedly denies the Shoah, which has been the cause for recent protest by Jews. Shoah denial or reductionism readily appears as an attack on historical truth and an offense against the dignity of human life. I cannot address Williamson’s own views here because I am unfamiliar with anything he has said. Therefore, I will be discussing briefly my own concerns prompted by the Williamson affair.

Evidence for the Shoah as a historical fact remains indisputable, so we naturally suspect the motives of anyone making a blanket denial of that sinister event. The denier may very well be acting out of a personal prejudice against Jews. Alternatively, if a person takes a reductionist view of the Shoah, it may not necessarily be from prejudice or ill will. He may have particular historical reasons for believing the Nazis did not murder nearly as many as 6 million Jews. The disputer’s smaller numbers, though, may be the product of inadequate methods of historical research.

As for myself, I find that 6 million Jewish victims of Hitler’s pogrom to be an ‘unbelievable’ yet credible number. After all, Stalin’s purges dwarfed those of the Third Reich. Communism and National Socialism turned 20th century states into highly efficient killing machines.

Germany has since made Holocaust denial a crime. I can sympathize with this law, but I am not sure I can agree with it. When governments begin criminalizing ideas or opinions I would be concerned that it may set a precedent for outlawing almost any view considered offensive to the body politic, to a select but politically influential minority, or to the government itself. The unintended negative consequences of such a precedent can outweigh the good intended by the current proscription. For example, government might choose to criminalize Biblical teachings, that is, outlaw God Himself from speaking. This is what the Canadian government has done.

The Canadian government responds to public presentation of Biblical teachings on homosexuality with an unjustifiable suppression of free speech and religious practice. Oppressive lawmaking, when left unchecked, will bring about once more the total state as god.

Unlike many folks, I do not view healthy democracy as allowing free public interplay or expression of any and every opinion regardless of how injurious to the common good a certain opinion may be. It is the duty of government to protect and promote the common good. However, when government begins criminalizing particular viewpoints, the risks are many. We are dealing with a two-edged sword, which so far has cut both ways. Sometimes it is better to tolerate a little evil now rather than open the door to greater evils in the future.

In addition, it is not only denial of the Shoah that is a problem. There also exists a contra-historical denial of that great good carried out in counter-response to Nazi oppression of the Jews. Specifically, no one did more to aid the Jews in their plight than did Pope Pius XII working through his nuncios. Yet, certain writers, including the New York Times, out of some sort of perverse anti-Catholic prejudice, would have us believe otherwise. The Times falsely claims that Pius XII was silent about the Nazi pogrom. No claim could be further from the truth. It is worth noting here that during the war years, the Times printed truthful stories about the heroic efforts of Pius XII to call worldwide attention to the plight of the Jews. However, nowadays the New York Times denies that same truth it once recognized.

The denial or reduction of the great good the Vatican accomplished in aiding persecuted Jews during WWII is an attack on historical truth and it defames the courageous, prudent and saintly Pope Pius XII. Catholics should be vigilant in protesting this falsification of history whenever it occurs. Likewise, Jews ought to protest this attack on their great benefactor, Pope Pius XII, just as they readily protest denial of the Shoah.

(I recommend the following books about Pius XII: The Defamation of Pius XII, by Ralph McInerny; and Pius XII and the Second World War (According to the Archives of the Vatican) by Pierre Blet, S.J.)

March 16, 2009

The Bush-Obama Debacle

This is a re-write of my little harangue about depraved presidents. Yes, I mean depraved, though it sounds so indelicate.

During one of my recent backpacking trips in the high Sierras, I met Steve, a former sergeant with the U.S Army Rangers. Steve was catching up on some long overdue camping, of the leisurely kind. He spent many years in Iraq and now suffers from exposure to depleted uranium munitions. Government doctors say otherwise…of course.

Steve plans to spend some time protesting U.S. involvement in Iraq. We talked awhile about U.S. air strikes in Iraq. His opinion is that smart bombs aren’t. Far too often, they miss the mark. If I were to grade smart bombs on accuracy, I would give them a “C”, at best. Coincidently, that was George W. Bush’s grade average in college. I suspect many people helped him and he did some cheating on the sly to get that 2.0 G.P.A. (Or, was it 2.5?)

How did this illiterate Texas buffoon land in the White House and manage to bushwhack the nation for eight long years? The answer: many people helped him and he did some cheating on the sly. Congressional Democrats and Republicans, and especially war mongering neocons successfully manipulated America into two illegal and immoral wars. These wars will plague the world for a long time both economically and by the extremisms, they so predictably unleashed.

The U.S. economy is convulsing and some folks fantasize that Obama, whose understanding of political economy happens to be next to nil (with an error factor of plus or minus 1), can save us all. So far, Obama’s economic recovery ideas make about as much sense to me as Franklin Roosevelt daily flipping a coin to decide the price of gold. Obama will expropriate huge sums to fund every dead or dormant, unconstitutional special interest project Congress can unearth. To date, the Obama Administration remains clueless about the right actions to take in response to the economic crisis.

Be that as it may, far worse Obamanations are looming on the horizon. The pro-abortion movement will gain significant ground with this pro-abortion president. Obama's repeal of restrictions on fetal stem cell research is just one of many destructive waves to hit American society. Fetal stem cell research slights the sanctity of human life. In addition, it is nonproductive research. It has not produced anything that is medically useful. On the other hand, adult stem cell research has been successful in treating at least seventy different types of diseases.

With Obama in the White House, there is no end in sight to our nation's difficulties. An elected official who uses his position to support legalized abortion and deny an entire class of persons, the unborn, of the right-to-life, lacks true integrity and sound moral judgment. Therefore, when it comes to promoting the common good of society, we can expect that far too often, Obama will consistently miss the mark.

Share This