A Kentucky county clerk, Kim Davis, has been jailed for contempt of court. She refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, even though ordered to do so by a US District Court Judge.
She is against same-sex marriage because, she says, her Christian faith teaches that homosexuality is wrong. Which it futilely does.
(But by saying that fobidding homosexuality is futile we do not mean to imply “same-sex marriage” makes sense. It doesn’t. It’s a farce. However many people of whatever sexual proclivities decide to form a union, there has to be at least one man and one woman among them for it to be marriage in the universal historical meaning of the word. It would be best to leave marriage to the religions, and for the state – or rather the states – to recognize Contracts of Union for all sorts of voluntary conjugal relationships.)
Kim Davis should issue the licenses whatever her thoughts and feelings about same-sex marriage, because it is her job to do so. The principle of “separation of Church and State” must apply to her case. She is as free as everybody else to express her opinion of same-sex marriage, homosexuality, Christian doctrine, and this horrible government with its ever more foolish laws and regulations that America is now groaning under; but not to refuse to do the job she is paid to do.
What is wrong is that she has tenure. The proper reward for her refusal is dismissal.
Nobody should ever be unsackable. Most particularly, government employees should not be unsackable. Tens of thousands of them need to be sacked – urgently, The head of government, Barack Obama, needs to be sacked – urgently. Like Kim Davis, he doesn’t obey the law.
Government employees should not have trade unions: government negotiating terms of employment with itself is absurd.
Government employees should not have the vote (as some of our commenters have recently compellingly argued).
Bureaucrats all too easily get uppity and dictatorial. In Britain they are called “civil servants”. They may forget to be civil, but at least their job description defines their place as servants, not masters. Governments shoud be servants, not masters.
If Kim Davis canot bring herself to do her job, she should leave it. She’s no doubt enjoying being a Christian martyr at present. Martyrdom is the non plus ultra of Christian virtue; best if it entails death, and best of all if it entails agonizing death. We hope Ms. Davis won’t go that far. We’re very much against it.
Yesterday we had 1,336 readers of (or glancers over) the essay by Jillian Becker (under Pages in our margin), posted on January 14, 2015, titled:
Communism is Secular Christianity
We have no idea why there is a sudden interest in it.
But for those who have discovered it, and enjoyed finding it right and good, or provocative and outrageous, we recommend, for more pleasure or vexation, our post of June 19, 2015, titled:
Paul and Karl: the most consequential same-sickness marriage in history
Comments on either article, pro or con, are welcome.
On the same theme, Steven Hayward at PowerLine quotes this from the concluding chapter of Leszek Kolakowski’s “magisterial three-volume treatise”, Main Currents of Marxism:
Marxism is a doctrine of blind confidence that a paradise of universal satisfaction is awaiting us just around the corner. Almost all the prophecies of Marx and his followers have already proved to be false, but this does not disturb the spiritual certainty of the faithful, any more than it did in the case of chiliastic sects: for it is certainty not based on any empirical premises or supposed “istorical laws”, but simply on the psychological need for certainty. In this sense Marxism performs the function of a religion, and its efficacy is of a religious character.
We like that. But then Kolakowski goes on to say:
But it is a caricature and a bogus form of religion, since it presents its temporal eschatology as a scientific system, which religious mythologies do not purport to be.
And that spoils the point. While it is true that other religions do not purport to be scientific, we cannot see that that nonsensical claim qualifies the religious nature of Marxism. Regardless of its claim, Marxism is not “scientific”. It is as much a superstition as any other religion. It even has a god, which it names History.
Kolakowski certainly understood the nature of Marxism. After writing three volumes on its shades and interpretations, his undertanding of it could not have been less than profound. But he turned from faith in Marxism in his youth to the Christian faith in his maturity. (In a non-conformist way – see here and here.)
Steven Hayward also quotes this passage from Main Currents of Marxism:
Communism was not the crazy fantasy of a few fanatics, not the result of human stupidity and baseness; it was very real, very real part of the history of the twentieth century, and we cannot understand this history of ours without understanding communism. We cannot get rid of this specter by saying it was just human stupidity. The specter is stronger than the spells we cast on it. It might come back to life.
The same can be said of Christianity – a very real part of the whole history of our Common Era. That specter will be hard to banish too. It seems to have grabbed Kolakowski by the same need in his personality that had once driven him to Marxism. We think he should have rendered himself invulnerable to the temptation a second time. It is the same specter. That Kolakowski could not see it, proves his depressing assertion is right: it is a strong temptation – whether to “human and stupidity and baseness” or idealism and naivety – and it will not easily die.
… my golden door is barred to Christians,” says the Mother of Exiles, who earlier misspoke, and whose views on who is welcome to America have now evolved.
We do not like Christianity, but we are appalled by the persecution of Christians by Muslims in the Middle East.
Donald Trump has noticed that the Christians in the Muslim countries of the Middle East, and those who fall under the rule of IS/ISIS/ISIL, are being persecuted almost to extinction – and that the Obama administration is unmoved by their plight.
From the Refugee Resettlement Watch:
Trump speaks out on Syrian refugees: “We are saving the Syrian Muslims and not the Christians!”
Trump is almost right. It isn’t zero Christians, but it’s pretty close to zero. Although we have admitted a small handful of Syrian Christian refugees, the vast majority are Muslims and mostly Sunni Muslims. 96% [of those] admitted so far in 2015 are Muslims.
But, don’t forget!
Led by the Senate Jihad Caucus, the push is on to admit 65,000 Syrians before Obama leaves office and the vast majority of those will be plucked from UN camps populated by mostly Syrian Sunni Muslims.
One man in America is trying to bring Middle Eastern Christians to safety in the US, for which he is now threatened by the administration with imprisonment.
From Creeping Sharia:
Living as a Christian in many parts of Iraq or Syria has become impossible – a one-way ticket to martyrdom at the hands of ISIS – yet it remains a near-impossible feat for these persecuted religious minorities to find refuge in America.
But if you can get to America and get your case in the hands of Robert DeKelaita, your chances are greatly improved.
As it turns out, this high-powered Chicago attorney may have been a little too successful. He’s gained asylum for thousands of persecuted Christian from Iraq, Syria and Egypt, and that caught the attention of the Obama Justice Department, which is known to be no friend of Middle Eastern Christians.
DeKelaita, 52, grew up in Kirkuk in the heart of Assyria, a portion of northern Iraq that is home to one of the world’s most ancient Christian communities. …
After Saddam Hussein took power, DeKelaita’s family emigrated to the U.S. in 1973 and settled in the Chicago area. …
He’s helped reunite hundreds of families in the U.S., most of them since 2003 when the U.S. invasion and overthrow of Saddam unleashed a wave of Islamic terror against Christians that far exceeded anything that was seen under the secular Baathist regime.
The Obama administration moved against DeKelaita in September 2014, raiding his office and scooping up whatever “evidence” they could find against him. He was indicted on charges of falsifying the asylum applications of 12 clients over a 10-year period, allegedly concocting “phony claims” of religious persecution. The government has delayed his trial twice while it seeks to firm up witnesses who will testify against him. Each count of immigration fraud carries a maximum of 10 years prison and a $250,000 fine. …
Some find it ironic that the Obama administration is going after a lawyer who helps persecuted Iraqi Christians gain asylum while it welcomed and granted asylum for more than 68,000 unaccompanied alien children from Central America last summer.
At the same time Central Americans are being greeted with a “catch and release” policy at the border, a group of 27 Assyrian Christians who made it to the border earlier this year are being detained indefinitely.
“The way that some of our federal judges view the plight of Christians in Iraq and the way some of the adjudicators view them, you would honestly think ‘what is wrong with these people?’” DeKelaita [said]. …
One judge told him: “To argue that Christians in Iraq are being targeted for their religious beliefs is to appeal to either ignorance or emotion.” …
DeKelaita, after his indictment, learned that the FBI had been investigating him since 2008, soon after Obama took office. …
He points to the Obama administration’s attempt earlier this year to block an Iraqi nun from entering the country to testify before Congress on the issue of Christian persecution in the Middle East. After … a public outcry, Obama relented and issued the visa to Sister Diana Momeka. …
The Obama-led Department of Homeland Security has detained 27 Iraqi Christian asylum seekers in California for six months, despite the fact that most of them have family who are U.S. citizens living in San Diego. …
One of DeKelaita’s biggest successes was in getting a judge to strike down an outdated and inaccurate report out of Europe that insisted there was no persecution of Christians in Iraq. …
Meanwhile, the slaughter continues in Iraq and Syria. Another 220 Assyrian families were kidnapped just last week in Syria and fears are growing that the men will face beheading, the women a life of servitude as sex slaves. Bishops in Syria and Iraq have put out desperate pleas for help, saying they feel abandoned by the West.
While it detains Iraq Christian asylum seekers, the Obama administration has been welcoming thousands of Muslim refugees from jihadist hotbeds in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia, despite warnings from House Homeland Security Chair Michael McCaul, R-Texas, that some of these refugee programs may become a “jihadist pipeline” into the U.S.
Obama is not perturbed by jihadism. He is dropping the bar against admitting Muslim refugees who have links to terrorist organizations:
From a January 2014 report by the Wall Street Journal:
The U.S. plans to resettle thousands of Syrians displaced by their country’s civil war could hinge on those refugees receiving exemptions from laws aimed at preventing terrorists from entering the country.
A U.S. official stated publicly for the first time this week that some of the 30,000 especially vulnerable Syrians the United Nations hopes to resettle by the end of 2014 will be referred to the U.S. for resettlement.
More than two million Syrians have fled their country since the war erupted in 2011, creating the worst refugee crisis since the Rwandan genocide, advocates say. About 20 countries, mostly in Europe, have agreed to take 18,000 Syrians, according to United Nations High Commission for Refugees, or UNHCR, the agency charged with referrals.
The U.S. has not set a specific target for how many refugees it will resettle. But at a Senate hearing Tuesday, State Department Assistant Secretary Anne Richard said, “We expect to accept referrals for several thousand Syrian refugees in 2014.”
Post-9/11 immigration laws designed to keep out terrorists have had the unintended consequence of ensnaring some innocent people. …
And rather admit a thousand terrorists than keep out one “innocent” Muslim.
Anwen Hughes, a lawyer at Human Rights First …
One of those bleeding-heart organizations that do so much harm in the world …
who has studied the laws’ impact, said that the government has been “reactive, slow,” about giving exemptions up to now, and urged a swifter process, given the magnitude of the Syrian crisis.
The advocacy group has called on the U.S. to work to resettle 15,000 Syrians a year. The International Rescue Committee, another advocacy organization, is pressing the U.S. to set a goal of 12,000 Syrian refugees this year.
The U.S. leads the world in refugee resettlement. In the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, the U.S. received 70,000 refugees from 65 countries, including more than 19,000 from Iraq. In that year, more than 1,340 Syrians already in the U.S. applied for asylum.
And you can safely bet that Anwen Highes wil not be investigated by Obama’s sniffing-dogs.
But aren’t we going too far when we blame Obama personally for this injustice?
No. He makes the decisions:
From a Fact Sheet of the American Immigration Council:
A refugee, as defined by Section 101(a)42 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), is a person who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her home country because of a “well-founded fear of persecution” due to race, membership in a particular social group, political opinion, religion, or national origin. This definition is based on the United Nations 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocols relating to the Status of Refugees, which the United States became a party to in 1968.
Each year the President, in consultation with Congress, determines the numerical ceiling for refugee admissions. For Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, the ceiling is 70,000.
Under Obama, the US has “pivoted eastward”:
Almost half of all refugee arrivals (46.4 percent, or 32,450) in FY 2014 came from the Near East/South Asia—a region that includes Iraq, Iran, Bhutan, and Afghanistan.
There are three principle categories for classifying refugees under the U.S. refugee program.
Priority One. Individuals with compelling persecution needs or those for whom no other durable solution exists. These individuals are referred to the United States by UNHCR, or they are identified by a U.S. embassy or a non-governmental organization (NGO).
Priority Two. Groups of “special concern” to the United States, which are selected by the Department of State with input from USCIS, UNHCR, and designated NGOs. Currently, the groups include certain persons from the former Soviet Union, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Iran, Burma, and Bhutan.
Priority Three. The relatives of refugees (parents, spouses, and unmarried children under 21) who are already settled in the United States may be admitted as refugees. The U.S.-based relative must file an Affidavit of Relationship (AOR) and must be processed by DHS.
The INA requires that the majority of prospective refugees make their individual well-founded fear cases.
The Christians of the Middle East have well-founded fears. But they are Christians. That, apparently, is enough to bar them from the US, which Obama has clearly stated is “one of the largest Muslim countries in the world”. (Watch and listen to him saying so here.) And in his opinion, the more Muslim the better.
For a little light relief, here’ s what Catholics believe about “Purgatory”.
Millions of adult, literate, otherwise sane people do actually believe this.
From “Religious Tolerance”:
Logistics of Purgatory:
The Roman Catholic church dogma states that:
- Purgatory exists for temporary purging of sin.
- Punishment and prayers by people on earth will help those in Purgatory.
There is a range of beliefs about Purgatory in the Eastern Orthodox Churches. Most or all of their theologians reject the Roman Catholic belief system. However, some Church authorities have taught that the inhabitants in Purgatory are systematically tortured with fire.
Passages in the Bible describe many additional forms of torture used on the inhabitants of Hell for all eternity without hope of mercy or relief: worms, unbearable heat, unbearable thirst, etc. However, St. Thomas Aquinas taught that only one form of torture is used in Purgatory “to cleanse us from the remains of sin…the pain of fire only is ascribed to Purgatory.”
Where is Purgatory?
Some have puzzled whether Hell and Purgatory are actually in the same location. St. Thomas Aquinas quotes Gregory the Great as quoting St. Augustine who wrote: “Even as in the same fire gold glistens and straw smokes, so in the same fire the sinner burns and the elect is cleansed.” St. Augustine apparently believed that the same fire that tortures the sinful in Hell also is used to purify the saved in Purgatory. Some believe that this implies that Purgatory and Hell are either adjacent or in the same location. Aquinas wrote that there are probably two Purgatory locations: one is inside the earth and is close to hell so that they can share the same fire. The other location is above the earth, between us and God. Aquinas appears to be wrong: Space exploration has not yet uncovered any sign of Purgatory above the earth. Deep holes drilled into the earth have not discovered Purgatory either, although there have been some interesting Christian urban legends to the contrary.
Some have inquired whether the pain that people experience in Purgatory is greater than the pain that we experience in life. Some reasoned that it is not greater because punishment is a result of sin; since we do not accumulate more sins in Purgatory, then the punishment will not be greater than that which we have been used to experiencing. But St. Thomas Aquinas quotes St. Augustine as saying that “This fire of Purgatory will be more severe than any pain that can be felt, seen or conceived in this world.“ Aquinas agrees with St. Augustine. There will be two types of pain in Purgatory. They feel a keen sense of loss because they will not be in the presence of God while they remain in Purgatory. They will also feel the “punishment by corporeal fire.” The former is an overwhelming pain because the souls there will deeply long to be with God. The thermally induced pain would also be severe because it would be inflicted on the soul itself – there are no bodies in Purgatory. “Therefore it follows that the pain of Purgatory, both of loss and of sense, surpasses all the pains of this life.” The Catholic Encyclopedia mentions that St. Bonaventure thought: “that this punishment by fire is more severe than any punishment which comes to men in this life.“
Many unofficial beliefs have arisen among individual Catholics: One source quotes Mary as saying that there are many levels in Purgatory. Living Christians can pray on behalf of individuals in Purgatory in order to give the latter temporary relief from pain. Those in the lowest level of Purgatory can only receive respite from their torture through the prayers of the living on NOV-2. The greatest number of souls leave Purgatory on Christmas day.
One writer comments:
“Do penance, or you will burn long years in Purgatory, is a fact that there is no getting away from…Which of us does not tremble when he thinks of those who have been burnt to death in a slow fire? What fear would not be ours if we had to face a similar death? Yet their suffering was of relatively short duration. The incomparably fiercer fire of Purgatory, which we may have to face, may last 20, or 50 or 100 years!”
Another source lists a Prayer of St. Gertrude the Great, which M. Cardinal Pahiarca allegedly said (at Lisbon, Portugal, on 1936-MAR-4) would release 1000 souls from Purgatory each time it is recited:
“Eternal Father, I offer thee the most precious blood of thy Devine [sic] Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the Universal Church, those in my own home and with in my family. Amen.”
It is not beyond the realm of possibility for a person to repeat this prayer 1000 times a day, and thus release 1 million souls from Purgatory. A three person team, working for an entire year could release over one billion souls!
Are there such teams, we wonder, working at this project right now?
Well, someone has to do it, of course.
… or two.
The Washington Post reports:
On an official trip to this ancient city [Naples] in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, Pope Francis entered the local cathedral to pray to Januarius, the patron saint of Naples. Januarius’s 1,700-year-old dried blood is known to “spontaneously liquefy”, a phenomenon seen by true believers as a miraculous sign from above. Those gathered anxiously watched as Francis prayed before, then kissed, the ornate silver and glass reliquary containing the coagulated clot.
And lo and behold, the dark stain dissolved.
The cardinal of Naples, standing beside Francis, joyously heralded the sacred melting, bringing a round of gasps and applause. Then Francis himself acknowledged the mystery, in which the blood had only half liquefied. “It means the saint loves us halfway,” Francis said, according to accounts of those present that day five months ago. “We must all spread the word of God more, so that he loves us even more.” …
For some Neapolitans, the blood-melting made the recent papal visit all the more magical. Rita Santoro, a 69-year-old who sells prayer cards on the steps of the cathedral, was waiting just outside during Francis’s March visit. He touched her head as he left, “and after that, the stomach problems I had been having just disappeared”. … “For me, the blood liquefaction for the pope was a miracle,” she said. …
Far more than his predecessor, Francis has thrust himself into the contentious world of so-called popular devotions — including the mystical celebration of holy relics, such as the blood, bones and clothing of saints, as well as the adoration of the Virgin Mary through processions and other rites. By doing so, Vatican watchers say the pope is effectively endorsing a more ardent and mysterious brand of Catholicism that is popularly practiced — especially among the poor — in his native Latin America.
Critics, however, say the pope may be flirting with superstition.
May be? Otherwise there is nothing about religious belief in the supernatural which can be called superstitious?
Also citing his frequent mention of the devil and explicit backing of exorcisms, some say he risks undercutting his image as a 21st century moral leader in tune with the times. “The danger is that popular devotion becomes all too important, that we seek to elevate ourselves by touching a body part or a cloth touched by a saint,” said Vito Mancuso, a theologian and author based in Bologna, Italy. “We would be moving backwards, almost to idolatry.”
Almost? Worshiping a painted plaster “Virgin Mary” is not idolatry?
The incident in Naples, where Francis caused a stir with the blood of Saint Januarius, marked only one in a long list of recent papal devotions to relics and other mysterious artifacts. In June, for instance, the pope “venerated” the Shroud of Turin, praying before the cloth believed by some to be the burial garment of Jesus Christ despite disputed tests that have carbon-dated it to centuries after the crucifixion.
The pope made no official claim about the shroud’s authenticity. But his personal charity has sent at least two busloads of homeless Romans to visit the shroud, and the pope additionally taped a special video message celebrating it.
“Let us listen to what it wants to silently tell us, across death itself,” the pope says in the message. “The sole and ultimate word of God reaches us through the sacred shroud.”
And to millions and millions of sane people, that makes perfect sense?
The pope has recently requested that the remains of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, widely known in Italy simply as Padre Pio, be publicly exhibited in St. Peter’s Basilica next year. Six months after Francis became pope, the Vatican for the first time publicly displayed bone fragments said to belong to Saint Peter despite lingering doubts about their true origins.
What, we wonder, would ever make those doubts stop lingering and go away?
American Catholics anticipate a visit soon by the superstitious pope and a corpse.
Coinciding with the pope’s U.S. visit, the body of Saint Maria Goretti — an 11-year-old Italian girl stabbed to death in 1902 by a family friend — will also travel to the United States on a multi-city tour. In Nettuno, Italy, her sanctuary is filled with mementos of gratitude — wedding dresses, rosaries and statues — from those who claim to have been cured of ailments after praying to her.
But here too doubts are lingering:
Even among those who support the pope, his actions have raised red flags. Citing Francis’s affinity for popular devotion, the Catholic blogger and US-based author Taylor Marshall, for instance, wrote that he feared what “sophisticated non-Catholics” might make of the pope’s actions.
Such a person, Marshall wrote, “shakes his head and thinks to himself, ‘This Pope doesn’t get it. This isn’t the Gospel of Jesus Christ! This is shanty town syncretism at best, or ignorant magic at worst’.”
And the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not about “ignorant magic”?
In this 2011 video, Christopher Hitchens talks aboout the immorality of Christianity, and the absurdity of religion in general.
This video is from years ago. (We didn’t watch it all – just getting a general impression was enough for us, so we could enjoy the parody below.)
And this is the ever funny parody:
One of the comments under the first one:
Religions are advertising agencies for a product that doesn’t exist.
Paul, theologian of the post-Apocalypse heavenly utopia, and Karl, theologian of the post-Revolution earthly utopia, celebrated their union decades ago in South America. The Great Reconciliation of their faiths was published under the title Liberation Theology.
What brought them together is a charming story. Their pet underdogs met on a bank of the Crocodile Tears River, and mated on the spot. Paul and Karl shared a hearty laugh as they watched their pets sporting with each other.
Karl had condemned Paul’s ideas in scornful terms. And Paul had rejected Karl’s ideas with fury. But when they met at last, they found they had far more to unite them than to separate them – above all their bleeding-heart condition.
The happy couple have adopted numerous children, many of whom now live – illegally – in the United States. Ever-caring parents that they are, Paul and Karl have done their best to provide for the safety and comfort of those rather wild kids of theirs. (“Bless their little rebel hearts!”)
Here’s the feel-good story of what they did for them, taken from Canada Free Press, where it is told by Cliff Kincaid:
What has not yet been reported is that the Catholic Church, which gave President Obama his start in “community organizing” in Chicago, has been promoting the sanctuary movement for more than two decades. …
Pope Francis said a “racist and xenophobic” attitude was keeping immigrants out of the United States. …
“Few people are aware that this extreme left branch of the Catholic Church played a large part in birthing the sanctuary movement,” says James Simpson, author of the new book, The Red-Green Axis: Refugees, Immigration and the Agenda to Erase America.
Simpson says Catholic Charities, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and its grant-making arm, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, are prominent elements of the open borders movement.
The sanctuary movement has its roots in the attempted communist takeover of Latin America.
With the support of elements of the Roman Catholic Church, the Communist Sandinistas had taken power in Nicaragua in 1979. At the time, communist terrorists known as the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) were threatening a violent takeover of neighboring El Salvador. President Ronald Reagan’s policies of overt and covert aid for the Nicaraguan freedom fighters, known as the Contras, forced the defeat of the Sandinistas, leaving the FMLN in disarray. In 1983, Reagan ordered the liberation of Grenada, an island in the Caribbean, from communist thugs.
Groups like the Marxist-oriented Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) were promoting the sanctuary movement for the purpose of facilitating the entry into the U.S. of illegal aliens who were supposedly being repressed by pro-American governments and movements in the region. The U.S. Catholic Bishops openly supported the sanctuary movement, even issuing a statement in 1985 denouncing the criminal indictments of those caught smuggling illegal aliens and violating the law.
Section 274 of the Immigration and Nationality Act prohibits the transportation or harboring of illegal aliens. Two Roman Catholic priests and three nuns were among those under indictment in one case on 71 counts of conspiracy to smuggle illegal aliens into the United States. One of the Catholic priests indicted in the scheme was Father Ramon Dagoberto Quinones, a Mexican citizen. He was among those convicted of conspiracy in the case.
Through the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, an arm of the Bishops, the church has funded Casa de Maryland, an illegal alien support group which was behind the May 1, 2010, “May Day” rally in Washington, D.C. in favor of “immigrant rights.” Photographs taken by this writer showed Mexican immigrants wearing Che Guevara T-shirts, and Spanish-language communist books and literature being provided to rally participants.
An academic paper, The Acme of the Catholic Left: Catholic Activists in the US Sanctuary Movement, 1982-1992, states that lay Catholics and Catholic religious figures were “active participants” in the network protecting illegals. The paper said, “Near the peak of national participation in August 1988, of an estimated 464 sanctuaries around the country, 78 were Catholic communities—the largest number provided by any single denomination.”
A “New Sanctuary Movement” emerged in 2007, with goals similar to the old group. In May, the far-left Nation magazine ran a glowing profile of this new movement, saying it was “revived” by many of the same “communities of faith” and churches behind it in the 1980s.
One group that worked to find churches that would provide sanctuary to immigrants in fear of deportation is called Interfaith Worker Justice, led by Kim Bobo, who was quoted by PBS in 2007 as saying, “We believe what we are doing is really calling forth a higher law, which is really God’s law, of caring for the immigrant.”
But conservative Catholic Michael Hichborn of the Lepanto Institute says Interfaith Worker Justice is run by “committed Marxist socialists”, and that Bobo is “highly active and involved with the Democratic Socialists of America”, a group which backed Obama’s political career.
And here is Ted Cruz, a candidate for the presidency, who apparently cannot understand that the Obama administration is letting the children of Paul and Karl into the US and tolerating any mischief they are getting up to – murders and rapes, for instance – in the interests of the Higher Morality and the Greater Good of Mankind:
Today we have posted essay number 14, Mystic Communism: Georg Lukács, in the series by Jillian Becker titled The Darkness of This World (Part Two). (Find it under Pages in our margin.)
Here is part of it. We hope you won’t neglect the footnotes (not added here). They are laden with information.
Georg Lukács (1885-1971)
Georg Lukács was the quintessential revolutionary romantic of the twentieth century, longing to avenge his inner desolation on the civilization that nurtured him. And as an active participant in two revolutions and two despotic regimes, that is what he did.
With this essay we come to the nub of the whole series. Like all the other self-absorbed intellectuals we have talked about, fictitious and real, Georg Lukács advocated the doing of evil as the necessary means to a higher good. But unlike the others, he found himself actually in possession of the power to harm and destroy other lives, and he used it with passion and pride.
He was born in Budapest in 1885. The son of a banker ennobled by the Emperor of Austro-Hungary, he was nurtured in luxury. In his late teens he started writing professionally, reviewing plays for a small circulation periodical. He promoted the staging of avant-garde drama. He also tried to write plays, but without success. He realized and accepted that he “would never be a producer” and regretted that he “was no writer” – by which he probably meant a writer of plays, novels or poetry.
In fact he wrote prolifically. His first book, Soul and Form, appeared in 1910; a collection of essays mostly in literary criticism. Their dominant themes are art, Romanticism, longing, God, love, death, and bourgeois life. The volume was greeted with critical acclaim. No less a judge of literary merit than Thomas Mann – who was later to be the most insightful and devastating critic of Lukács’s character – praised the work as “beautiful and profound”.
One of the essays is about some German and Swiss writers who, Lukács allows, created admirable works despite being bourgeois. “The bourgeois way of life signifies only a denial of everything that is beautiful, everything the life-instinct longs for”, he states with conviction.
This was not the disdain of the aristocrat for a class beneath him. (The von Lukács family, for all its wealth and title, would in any case have been classed as haut bourgeois rather than true nobility.) Nor was it (yet) a revolutionary’s contempt for the established order. It was the romantic artist’s repudiation of the average and ordinary. Lukács deemed himself an artist because, he wrote, “the essay is an art form”, and essays such as his could be “intellectual poems”.
He concedes that a degree of genius is to be found in the works of those ordinary bourgeois men who were nevertheless writers. “This bourgeois way of life,” he wrote, “has no value whatsoever, in itself. For only the works which it brings forth confer value upon a life lived within such a framework and within such a form.”
What makes a life bourgeois, Lukács explains, is “first and foremost by the exercise of a bourgeois profession”. (One of the writers he examines earns his living as a judge, another as a clergyman, another as a government clerk. Lukács himself had no need to earn a living.) “A bourgeois profession,” he goes on, “as a form of life signifies, in the first place, the primacy of ethics in life”. These ethical men “do their duty”. The characters in the stories of one of them are “incapable of evil”; there is “no real sin” in their world. But that, to Lukács, far from being a fine thing, is a fault. The artistic achievement of these merely ethical men is, he declares, “great after its own fashion”. But he himself valued the aesthetic far above the ethical. The highest art could not be achieved by a person who binds himself to duty, but only by one who is capable of sin, intimate with beauty, and whose life-spirit longs for … the unreachable. For years his life-spirit burned with longing, seeking what it could not find; the search, and its frustration, being the tragic fate of such a soul as his.
“This longing is more than just something waiting for fulfillment, it is a fact of the soul with a value and existence of its own; an original and deep-rooted attitude towards the whole of life, a final, irreducible category of possibilities of experience,” he wrote. Such a soul “will always long for something he can never reach”.
In 1911, Lukács wrote a story titled On Poverty of Spirit. It is told in the form of a letter from a woman to the father of a young man who has killed himself. She recounts a conversation they had two days before his death, about the suicide of her sister, who had been the young man’s lover. He talks at length about his ideas and feelings, for the most part philosophically, but he does state plainly that he is guilty of her death “in the eyes of God”, in that he failed to “help” or “save” her. One can discern through the thicket of beautiful profundities, that he had refused to marry her because he wanted to dedicate himself wholly to his work as a writer. Furthermore, “she had to die so that my work could be completed – so that nothing remains in the world for me except my work.” But after all the argument about it and about, Lukacs wants us to understand that the young man did the right thing when he shot himself, because of his guilt and for other sound, if rather obscure and certainly long-winded, philosophical reasons.
On Poverty of Spirit was written after – and about – the suicide of his own lover, Irma Seidler, whom he had not married, being dedicated to his work as a writer. She had married someone else, had not been happy, and had drowned herself. The story he wrote was a confession of his guilt. But he himself did not do the right thing. It was enough that his alter ego did it in the story: the brilliant young man tragically performing an extreme act of penance in fiction rendered it unnecessary for Lukács himself to perform it. Besides, what he, the author, did was something better, higher: he gave the episode a “form” as a work of art. When Lukács spoke of “form” he meant art – always expecting the word to resonate in the minds of his cultured readers with Plato’s theory of “Forms” or “Ideals”. To him, a work of art was a revelation, or representative, or reminder of the “noumenal” reality that – so Plato and Kant have convinced Middle European intellectuals – lies behind, beyond, above this “phenomenal” world in which we live.
When he wrote Soul and Form, Lukács believed that the two worlds were irreconcilable; that a soul belonged to one or the other. (He does not say, but almost certainly knew, that in the creeds of the old Gnostic cults, the souls of the “Perfects” or “Pneumatics” belonged to a transcendent world, while the souls of the common “Hylics” were bound to the earth). His own soul – he knew – belonged to the higher, better, mystical world, the world of “essences”; the unreachable world. Here in this world, “abandoned by God”, he felt he was a stranger, an alien on earth; that humankind did not belong here; and that there was “an antagonism between the soul and the world”. That is what he meant when he asked rhetorically- cried out, so to speak, in his writing – “How can one bring essence into life? How can life become essential?” For years he searched for an answer. Morbidly pre-occupied with death, tragedy, and the condition of the human soul – above all his own – he wrote: “Man is abandoned to immanent meaninglessness.” He longed for “an extinction of selfhood” through “complete absorption of the ego into a higher being”.
Often he conjectured that the only answer was in death, and he brooded on suicide. He declares in Soul and Form: “Life is without value, without significance, and we [presumably he and all those who suffer the same spiritual anguish] would be ready to consecrate it every moment to death.”
His was an intensely religious temperament, but he was drawn neither emotionally nor intellectually to any organized religion; not to the Judaism of his ancestors, nor to Christianity – though his parents had him baptized in the Lutheran church in 1897 so that he could attend a good Lutheran school.
Karl Jaspers – later a famous philosopher – met Lukács in Heidelberg in 1913 and had no difficulty recognizing the nature of his contemporary’s mystical beliefs. He records: “Many came to Heidelberg [University] who were men of letters and potential candidates for Habilitation. Among them was Georg von Lukács from Budapest and Ernst Bloch from Mannheim. … At that time, they were Gnostics who shared their theosophical fantasies in their social circles.” It is probable that Lukács simply announced to Jaspers and all the company that he was a Gnostic. He was calling himself a “gnostic activist” in his writings years before he became in any way active in public life.
By “gnostic” he meant possessed of that intuitive knowledge which is a special gift to the specially gifted. What he intuitively knew which the ordinary (bourgeois) person could not know in the same way, was that there was a higher better world, the “intelligible” world: the “essential” world; the “noumenal” world. What he meant by “activist” is less clear. He seems to have meant that he not only thought philosophically that there is a higher better world, but that he also felt it. The activity was not muscular but emotional. It was not worked out by the intellect but immediately known by “intellectual intuition”, through which one might become “good”.
Become good? But had he not rejected ethical behavior? Certainly he had – and by “goodness” he did not mean anything so bourgeois as ethical behavior. He expounds his idea of what goodness is in Poverty of Spirit:
“Prince Myshkin [hero of Dostoyevsky’s novel The Idiot] and Alyosha [hero of Dostoyevsky”s The Brothers Karamazov] are good; what does that mean? … [T]heir knowledge [gnosis] became realized in deed, their thinking left the purely conceptual realm of knowledge, their view of mankind became an intellectual intuition: they are Gnostics of the deed.” … “Goodness is the miracle, the grace, and the salvation. The descent of the heavenly realm to the earth. … It is an abandonment of ethic. Goodness is not an ethical category; you’ll find it in no consistent ethical system. And with good reason. Ethics is general, binding, and far removed from men; it is the first – the most primitive – exaltation of mankind over the chaos of everyday life; it is man’s moving away from himself, and from his empirical condition. Goodness, however, is the return to real life, man’s true discovery of his home.” … “Goodness is madness, it is not mild, not refined, and not quietistic; it is wild, terrible, blind, and adventurous. The soul of the good one has become empty of all psychological content, of grounds and consequences; it has become a pure white slate upon which destiny inscribes its absurd command to be followed blindly, recklessly, cruelly to the end.”
In the First World War, Lukács was conscripted into the Austro-Hungarian armed forces; but he dodged the draft with the help of a certificate from Karl Jaspers (who was a qualified doctor and psychiatrist), and through the use of his father’s connections – the calling in of a favor owed to the banker by a personage close to the royal and imperial government. Duly declared unfit for active service, Lukács did his patriotic duty as a letter censor in Budapest for a few months in 1915.
It was after the war, when his country was in the abjection and disorder of defeat, that he found the answer to his spiritual search, a solution to his loneliness, despair and longing. He recognized that the “higher being” into which his “ego” might be “absorbed” was the International Communist movement. In December 1918 he joined the newly formed Hungarian Communist Party.
The commitment of his soul to the Party was no less religious for being political. He saw Communism as a cure not only for his own discontent – his despair, or loneliness, or Faust-like boredom with the contemplative life – but for everyone else’s too. He assumed that everyone suffered from the same malaise as he did. As a general social phenomenon he called it “alienation”, and declared it to be the result of capitalism and the bourgeois order. Communism, he believed, was the salvation of all mankind, provided only that each soul had faith enough and submitted utterly to its church. …
Jillian Becker July 19, 2015
Jorge Mario Bergoglio, an Argentinian Communist and Pope, is telling whoppers.
Fortunately, Christopher S. Carson puts him right with a wonderfully cheerful story. It comes from Front Page. We slightly abbreviate it:
Last week, Pope Francis released his controversial environmental Encyclical, Praised Be, to the public. It is not simply a matter of global warming endangering the planet, he writes. The Pope has a comprehensively dark vision of the world. He writes that
The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth … beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish … Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years.
In other words, the Industrial Revolution is to blame for covering the planet in rubbish. But if it’s covered in trash, it’s a strange kind of trash that has caused global crop yields to increase by 160 percent since 1961 and deaths from droughts to be reduced by 99.8 percent since the 1920s.
It’s an odd kind of “mistreatment” of the planet over the life of the Industrial Revolution that’s resulted in the global life expectancy rising from 26 years in 1750 to 69 years in 2009. This is in spite of the fact that Earth’s population increased from 760 million to 6.8 billion and incomes (in real dollars) rose from $640 to $7,300 during the same period. …
If the globe were truly turning into a great heap of exploited waste, you would expect natural resources to become more expensive as the cost of extracting rises and scarcity becomes the norm. But natural commodities are cheaper today than ever. The real price of almost all natural resources – from iron to salt to coal – is cheaper today in than 50 or 500 years ago. In Britain, artificial light is 20,000 times cheaper per man hour worked than it was in 1300.
On a global scale, with only a few exceptions like China, air and water is cleaner than ever. Since the late 1970s, pollutants in the air have plunged. In advanced countries, lead pollution declined by almost 100 percent, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide by more than 50 percent; ozone and nitrogen dioxide declined as well.
A car today emits less pollution cruising at full speed than a parked car did in 1970.
In the America of 1900, about 25% of all deaths were from contaminated drinking water. Today, hardly anyone here dies from this scourge. The Pope seems oblivious to the fact that the richer the nation is, the cleaner its environment.
Despite the masses wading around in the Pope’s seas of “filth,” and despite a world population of 7.3 billion, the poorer countries’ incomes have surged since 1975; since 1981, the number of Earth’s people in extreme poverty fell by an amazing 1 billion, even as the population increased by more than 1.5 billion.
But if there is one environmental issue that most exercises the Supreme Pontiff, it is global warming. “A very solid scientific consensus,” he writes, “indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events.”
Well, the warming over “recent decades” apparently does not include the last two decades, because over the past 18 years no net increase in global temperature has been recorded, despite the atmosphere’s CO2 content rising by 8 percent. Both the Arctic Ocean and Antarctica have this year posted record high ice packs.
The Pope’s letter seems quite concerned about the poor of Africa experiencing crop failures as a result of global CO2 emissions. But the opposite appears to be true: CO2 is plant food, and the rising CO2 levels are helping to water and green the continent.
According to a 2007 study in the science journal Geology, Africa is currently “experiencing an unusually prolonged period of stable, wet conditions in comparison to previous centuries of the past millennium. … The patterns and variability of 20th century rainfall in central Africa have been unusually conducive to human welfare in the context of the past 1400 years.”
If the trends of higher CO2 concentrations continue, and political strife abates, Africa, far from being a ruined land of desiccated drought, could well become the breadbasket of the world. All it needs from the West is fertilizer and genetically hardened crop strains that resist insect damage.
“Praised be” … Mankind, which has so rapidly improved his lot and that of his Earthly home.