Sunday, January 29, 2006

Interesting times

Lots of conflicting angles on the Palestinian situation: the Washington Post emphasizes the decline of the old (often Christian-backed) Arab nationalist movement; the WSJ emphasizes that this was mainly a rebellion against a corrupt regime; the New Republic warns that Hamas is going to align the PA's foreign policy with Iran.


The NYTimes is still trying to figure out the Pope, with limited success.

The truth

This NYTimes Magazine story on Evangelical missionaries in Africa is worth reading.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Social intelligence

What could be responsible for this?

Evangelical attack

This article from Morocco reveals a slightly different perception of the notion of religious freedom.

A new frame

An Israeli view of the Hamas electoral victory.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

To experience love

A summary of the new encyclical.

Afraid of what?

This British commentator makes a good point: that the virulent anti-Christian attitude of some people on the political left is really a symptom of deep insecurity about their own values.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Unavoidable alienation?

Also from S. Magister, more details on the Pope's view of Islam.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Symbolic figure

This biography of Maritain sounds interesting. He was a remarkable figure that embodied both the strengths and weaknesses of the Christian experience in Europe in the 20th century. He loved the US as a model of harmony between freedom and Christianity. It would be important to try and understand why, ultimately, he was defeated in his own time.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Pulling weeds

Fr. Neuhaus thinks that the papacy of Benedict XVI is being undermined by the American Jesuits. Sandro Magister thinks it is being undermined by the neo-cathecumenals. At any rate, the best starting point is gratitude for who this Pope is and what he says. A pontificate is also undermined when we try and use it to push our well-meaning political plans for the Church.

Searching for rigor

The debate on this new education bill is interesting.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Corrupt midgets

Amir Taheri is one of the most lucid commentators on Iran.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Nomura's jellyfish

There is always some weird interesting creature you did not know about.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Will that be enough?

Joseph Bottum argues that the mediocrity of the hierarchy has not prevented the emergence of a class of influential Catholic public figures who are holding the line against the nihilism of the liberal elites. There may be some truth to that, except it is not clear that their cultural arsenal is really that much stronger than (or different from) mainstream (protestant) american conservatism. Unfortunately, opposition to abortion is not, per se, enough to build a new culture.

Uniform ignorance

A defeat for school vouchers in Florida.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Hope from Radiohead

This is absolutely fascinating. And it is not just a weird Japanese phenomenon; it expresses a situation shared by most modern societies: that parents give their children literally everything except hope that their lives may have any meaning whatsoever. Japan is extreme only inasmuch the situation is not mitigated by any residual Christian cultural influences.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Facing reality

Leon Wieseltier's assessment of Sharon's legacy rings true: the supreme exponent of Zionist ideology may have been the one who buried it. As for the Palestinian side, this report gives a good idea of what is going on.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

A new one

Apparently, the next major war may be the result of a weird messianic ideology known as mahdaviat.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


More on the Korean therapeutic cloning scandal. Remember to attend the upcoming Crossroads conference.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Internet used as tool to squash dissent in China

We in the U.S. are familiar with controls that allow parents to block their children from viewing pornographic web sites on the Internet. If you live in China you can find all the porn you want, but you won't see terms like "demonstration", "democratic movement" and "Taiwan independence" on your screen, thanks to the government, with the help of U.S. software companies. It seems that some big names like Microsoft, Yahoo, and yes, even Google, are helping Chinese authorities crack down on dissenters and even put some in jail, according to Asianews. Yahoo has already been the target of protests by human rights groups for its policy of collaborating with Big Brother.

Sunday, January 08, 2006


An interview with Leon Kass.

Secure friendship

The Pope gave a moving homily on baptism.
"In Baptism, the child is inserted in the company of friends who will never abandon him, in life and in death. This company is the family of God which bears the promise of eternity within. A company which will accompany him always, even in days of suffering, in the dark valley of life, giving him consolation, comfort and light. This family gives him eternal life. It indicates the right direction, offers the consolation, comfort and love of God even in the dark valley and on the threshold of death, it gives friendship, life. This company, absolutely trustworthy, never abandons. No one knows what will happen on our planet, in our Europe, in the coming 50,60,70 years, but of one thing we are certain: whoever belongs to the family of God is never alone, he always has the secure friendship of he who is life. This family of God, this company of friends, is eternal because it is communion with He who has won over death, who has the keys of life in hand. Being in the company of the family of God means being in communion with Christ, who is life and who gives eternal love beyond death."

World war

This interview with Fr. Fessio has an interesting quote from the Pope where he explains why he thinks that Islam is constitutionally incapable of adapting to modernity. Which generates a very dramatic situation in which, once the two come in contact, one has to kill the other.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Big questions

You can listen to some interesting (but long) interviews with Msgr. Albacete and others on

Joy and conviction

The weekly column by John Allen is worth reading. "The emerging heart of Benedict's papacy is about truth -- his belief that modern men and women must find their way back to objective truths about human life, imprinted in nature by the Creator. Even if the fallen human mind needs the "purification" of faith to perceive this truth, Benedict believes that it nonetheless responds to something deep in the human heart."

Friday, January 06, 2006

Without Roots

A new book by Benedict XVI is about to come out in the US.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Speaking of education

Along the same lines of previous posts, here is the new Spengler column: "Something more than democracy is required for peace and prosperity, and that is a people committed to good rather than evil. Democracy in the Middle East means something quite different: Hamas in Gaza and the West Bank, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Muqtada al-Sadr in Iraq. The sooner President Bush changes the subject, the better."

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Bottom line

Liberal pro-israeli hawk Marty Peretz has a scathing column on the growing anarchy in Gaza. Whereas one should well be irritated by how clearly he despises the Palestinians, one cannot refute his basic claim just by producing a list of Israeli moral abuses and trying to weigh them against Palestinian ones. This moralistic approach would ignore a more fundamental issue: that, by and large, Judaism educates its people, who are of course capable of terrible moral failures. Conversely, Islam in many of its current historical incarnations does not seem able to educate. This is why the fate of the middle east depends so much on the fate of its Christians. Is anybody helping them?


This column is a good summary of the pessimistic "demographic doomsday" scenario that Mark Steyn has been writing about for a while. He is probably right in most respects, but does he think that a better future can be built just based on the belief that "Western civilization is on balance better than the alternatives?" As he correctly mentions, Islamism is just a parasite of Western nihilism. So, how do you beat nihilism?

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A father, a son, a death in Iraq

The father of a Marine killed in Iraq writes about his experience. "Though it hurts, I believe that his death -- and that of the other Americans who have died in Iraq -- was a waste. They were wasted in a belief that democracy would grow simply by removing a dictator -- a careless misunderstanding of what democracy requires." A painful reading from today Washington Post.