Wednesday, September 20, 2006


A Word to the Wise

"And what I'm trying to say is that nobody ever had a rainbow baby until he had the rain"

Jim Croce-- from the song Tomorrow's Gonna Be a Brighter Day

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Taking Dale Vree and Certain Catholic Figures Who Defend Him On a Much Needed Trip to the Woodshed

The article " Sock It To Us! Fling Us Into That Brier Patch" that appeared the New Oxord Notes portion of the New Oxford Review, whining about Pete Vere's rather terse criticism of their "critique" of a Michael O' Brien article about the tyrannical foothold militant homosexual activists have gained up in Canada with the passage of C-250 (legislation that makes any public criticism of the homosexual lifestyle a hate crime, punishable by jail time) is a recent example of the descent into the abyss of the asinine by Dale Vree of the New Oxford Review over the last couple of years.

Vree laments:

On Vere's Internet blog, The Lidless Eye Inquisition (Feb. 16 and 17), he socks it to the NOR because of our critique of Michael O'Brien of Canada. O'Brien wrote an article in another magazine where, according to Vere, he "warned [that] the homosexual agenda was leading to a new totalitarianism in Canada." Vere says, "the folks at NOR made use of their first ammendment [sic] rights to attack O'Brien and other Catholics from Canada for standing up to the gay agenda." In our February 2006 issue, we published a long article revealing "The Truth About the Homosexual Rights Movement," and as a result, we've been directly threatened by a homosexual. No First Amendment rights will protect us from violence.

Now I’m not saying that criticism of the methodology Pete employed in his criticism of Dale is off limits. In fact, I told Pete, in private correspondance, that some of the criticisms of the way he went after Vree had some merit. I think he was a bit heavy-handed with the namecalling and should have focused more on the substance (or should I say lack thereof) of Vree's arguments. For one thing, it gave Dale a big enough rabbit hole to jump down to avoid the substance of Pete’s criticisms.

Since Mr. O’Brien’s forte as a writer is fiction…apocalyptic fiction that is, I was more than willing to take that into account and overlook any literary exaggerations common to that genre. But after reading the article, I saw no need to grant such latitude. O’Brien’s characterization of the situation in Canada is spot-on accurate and his language more than appropriate.

But Dale Vree disagrees:

Michael O'Brien is an accomplished Catholic novelist. His strength is fiction. In The Catholic World Report (April), he ventures into nonfiction, specifically political science, and what he writes turns out to be fiction as well.


This is pure hysteria, and is so reminiscent of the New Left in the late 1960s and early 1970s, which claimed that Nixon was Hitler and America is Amerikkka.

Agreeing with Vree, Karl Keating says:

I thought Michael O'Brien's essay was well composed, but Dale Vree happened to be right in saying that O'Brien overstretched in using "totalitarian" to describe the trend of the present situation in Canada. That word has a particular, narrow meaning, and I think O'Brien used it unwisely.

If Messrs Vree and Keating think O’Brien is hyperventilating, consistency would demand that they hand out the paper bags to Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI as well. The former says:

As history demonstrates, a democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism" (Veritatis Splendor #101)

In his homily at the opening mass of the Conclave that elected him pope, the former Cardinal Ratzinger made this well-known and oft-repeated statement:

"We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires."

O’Brien’s article accurately (and without hysteria I might add) underscores how this “thinly disguised totalitarianism" and “dictatorship of relativism” has concretely taken shape in Canadian society and Canadian laws.

Moreover, I would like to ask both Keating and Vree if “a printing company that declined to print Toronto’s annual gay pride day literature was sued under the human rights law, fined heavily, and forced to print the material or close their business” doesn’t smack of totalitarianist tactics or militant homosexuals, buoyed by the positions taken by the Canadian legislature, behaving like “Nazi hooligans” in their in protesting outside Archbishop Adam Exner’s Episcopal residence in Vancouver because His Excellency “withdrew his Catholic schools from a bank due to their promotion of homosexuality” doesn’t contain a “ whiff of Germany in the early 1930’s” then what the hell does?

Vree quotes Vere stating (correctly I would say) that "New Oxford Review are useful idiots of the gay agenda." In Vree’s defense, the Pertinacious Papist (Dr. Phil Blosser) says "That NOR is 'useful idiots of the gay agenda' utterly absurd.... Nobody in his right mind who has read such essays [against homosexuality in the NOR] can see such statements as those above [Vere's statements] as anything but absurd."

Dr. Blosser’s remark shows that he is either:(a) clueless as to what the term “useful idiot” means , (b) clueless as to the strategy of homosexual advocacy groups and how Vree’s statements play into it, or (c) clueless about both. Dale’s wanton use of vulgar epithets like “fags” and “rump rangers” (neither of which, especially the latter, have any place in public Catholic discourse) make it much easier for gay activists to portray all of us who oppose societal validation of the homosexual lifestyle as “God hates fags”-chanting Fred Phelps wannabes. I fail to see how this helps to put the proper (and I think badly needed) stigma on homosexual behavior. Then he launches an attack on Michael O’Brien who (at the risk of jail time) courageously speaks out against the Canadian government’s attempt to force the gay agenda on the Canadian public by way of legislative fiat. The coupling of these two facts make clear that idiots for the gay agenda don’t come any more useful than Dale Vree.

If one reads the article written by O'Brien and then reads what Vree, Keating, and Blosser have said about it, he will see that the former makes an airtight case, replete with examples, to justify the use of his terminology, while the latters demonstrate they know not what they are talking about.

Just so no one misunderstands me, I am in no way saying that constructive criticism of O’Brien’s article is off limits. But Vree’s BS knee jerk drivel (as well as Keating's and Blosser's agreement with it) misses the mark of constructive criticism by such a long shot it would not have been affected if they had tried to hit it with an atom bomb.

But what I find more disturbing than Vree’s drivel is the eagerness employed by prominent Catholic apologist Karl Keating, Catholic philosopher and author Dr. Phil Blosser, and prominent canonist Dr. Ed Peters circling the wagons in Vree’s defense. This is especially true when we consider those whom Vree has unfairly attacked. O’Brien and Vere are not the only Catholics who are the targets of Vree’s vitriol. Popular scripture scholar and author Dr. Scott Hahn, John Paul II biographer George Weigel, and even Pope Benedict XVI himself come under fire from the NOR editor.

One would think that the prominent Catholic personages, especially the ones listed above, would practice fraternal correction with Mr. Vree. The fact of the absence of such badly needed correction, to say nothing of the defense of such excesses, is a gravely disturbing one.

In the interests of full disclosure, I must point out that Keating does say that he "sometimes disapprove[s] of the way Vree writes (and several times...[has] told him so privately, on the phone)". But as we will see in the paragraph after the next, Karl is clearly talking out of both sides of his mouth.

We have already seen Keating and Blosser embarrass themselves with their defense of Vree’s nonsensical attack on O’Brien. But it gets even better---or worse depending on how you look at it.

For starters, we have Dr. Blosser happily informing his readers of the “You didn’t have to defend him like you did, but you did, but you did (enter ZZ Top slide and return guitar riff here) and I thank you” phone call from Karl Keating complete with nauseating platitudes about how nice of a guy Vree is.

As we will see when we look at Dr. Phil’s apologia pro Dale Vree, he got Mr. Keating’s gratitude on the cheap. Dr. Blosser masterfully demonstrates that a Ph.D. in philosophy doesn’t guarantee sound argumentation...or intellectual honesty for that matter.

His main post defending Vree was entitled Dale Vree, God's Faithful Pit Bull: Show Some Respect! First of all, for Phil Blosser to demand that people show respect for Dale Vree while not demanding that Vree do the same in light of his vicious treatment of good Catholics is beyond insulting.

Secondly, some “pit bull” this Dale Vree is! He yelps like a whiny poodle when Pete Vere gives him a dose of his own medicine.

He defends Vree’s treatment of Dr. Scott Hahn:

Scott Hahn is a very dear personal friend of mine, and I generally repose a near absolute trust in his theological judgments. Whatever may be said of his views concerning the Holy Spirit, however, the broadside derisive dismissal of NOR's discussion of Hahn's Pneumatology represented by such witless folderol is simply embarrassing, for NOR published no such nonsense as this. In fact Karl Keating, one of NOR's contributing editors, argues on Shea's blog that even if Vree's editorials were to be criticized as hyperbolic, the same charge could not be leveled against articles such as the one that appeared in the June 2004 issue entitled "Scott Hahn's Novelties," by Edward O'Neill. Keating writes: "I read that article more than once and saw no hyperbolic language or uncharity in it. It was a low-key look at some of the positions Scott has taken (some of which I hadn't been aware of), and I thought it brought up fair questions." (Source) I read the same article and drew much the same conclusion myself. Most of the emotional rants against the NOR that I have seen have not been based on first-hand acquaintance the journal, but with secondhand hype and balderdash.

Dr. Blosser's preface “Scott Hahn is a very dear personal friend of mine…” strikes me as reminiscent of what Dan Rather said to Bernard Goldberg before Mr. Rather went ballistic over the Wall Street Journal Op-Ed Goldberg wrote about liberal media bias, ”Bernie, we were friends yesterday, we’re friends today, and we’ll be friends tomorrow.” Well, just as Bernie got “Mugged by the Dan”(Bias pp.33-34), Dr. Scott Hahn (along with George Weigel) got flayed by the Phil in the interests of protecting Dale Vree.

Dr. Blosser portrays NOR’s criticisms of Dr. Hahn’s views regarding the “femininity” of the Holy Spirit as they though are constructive and when they are nothing of the sort. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that Ed O’Neill’s article is as Karl Keating says, “low-key look at some of the positions Scott has taken…” and “brought up fair questions”, it does not even come close to giving the full picture as to NOR’s treatment of Hahn. To wit:

In our New Oxford Note “Burn, Baby, Burn!” (Sept. 2002), we took on the highly esteemed Dr. Scott Hahn for saying outrageous and scandalous things. We noted: “Feminist theologians and their Queer cheerleaders have been campaigning for a feminine Holy Spirit for decades. How odd — how depressing, actually — to see Dr. Hahn jump on the bandwagon.”

Does Phil Blosser consider this “low key” and “fair”? Or is he unaware of this article or the “Burn Baby Burn” article? This doesn’t seem to be the case since, as Dr. Blosser makes clear, he is very familiar with the NOR and would, therefore, be aware of them. If he is not, he is not as familiar with NOR as he claims. So he is either deliberately, by way of omission, not giving his readers sufficient information as to NOR’s characterization of Hahn’s views or he is not sufficiently familiar with them to mount a credible defense of them. Either way, it seems clear that he is being less than honest with his reader.

I find Dr. Blosser’s characterization of the comments made at Mark Shea’s blog as “witless folderol”to be…well…witless folderol. Since comments boxes on weblogs are venues given more to sound byte-type off-the-cuff remarks instead of lengthy explanation or arguments supporting a position, as Dr. Blosser seems to demand, one should not expect such. That being said, I thought that the remarks made regarding Vree’s criticisms of Dr. Hahn generally accurate. I also think Blosser is less than honest in his portrayal of the comments box statements. For instance, he totally avoids the trenchant (and very relevant) explanation Rosemarie gives of Hahn’s position vs. Vree’s criticisms:

Having studied "Christian feminism," I'd hardly call Scott Hahn's speculation on the Holy Ghost "feminism." I read that controversial passage in First Comes Love; Hahn explicitly denies that the Third Person of the Trinity is essentially "feminine" and states outright that we cannot call God "Mother." That would annoy any "Christian feminist."Hahn basically cites certain Christian sources who spoke of the Holy Spirit in maternal terms over the centuries (he avoids heretical sources like Gnosticism). He then speculates that, since a mother is the "bond of love" in a human family and the Spirit is the "bond of love" in the heavenly family that is the Church, then perhaps the Spirit plays a "mother-like" role in our heavenly family. Since He also has a special bond with Blessed Mother and Holy Mother Church (the Spirit is "soul of the Church"), Hahn speculates that the Spirit's "mother-like" role may be somehow related to the Motherhood of Mary and the Church.


Here's an example of how Dale Vree completely misconstrues Scott Hahn's argument. In his "Burn, Baby, Burn" Newsnotes he writes the following:"Dr. Hahn goes so far as to say the Holy Spirit is "bridal" and that "Mary's maternity is mystically one with that of…the Spirit." The imagery here is blatantly and scandalously lesbian."Here, Vree gives readers the false impression that Scott is saying that the Holy Spirit is the "bride" of Mary. Nothing could be further from the truth! He has taken Hahn's statements grossly out of context. On page 135 of First Comes Love, Hahn writes:"As the Father made Eve from the rib of Adam, so Methodius called the Holy Spirit 'the rib of the Word' - the uncreated principle of maternity".This comment from St. Methodius relates to the mystery of the Church as Bride of Christ. As Eve was taken from Adam's side, so the Church was born from the New Adam's pierced side on the Cross. St. Methodius represented the Spirit as coming forth from Christ's side on the Cross as well.What Scott Hahn is saying is: since the Holy Spirit is the Soul of the Church, and the Church is the Bride of Christ, in some mysterious sense the Spirit may be said to have a "bridal" relationship to the Word by means of the Church, the Bride of Christ. He relates this to Methodius' statement that the Holy Ghost is "the rib of the Word."He is NOT saying that the Spirit is Mary's bride, but that the Spirit is the "Soul" of Christ's Bride! This is a further example of how Vree misrepresents Scott Hahn's argument, making it seem he said something which he did not in fact say!The statement "Mary's maternity is mystically one with that of the Spirit" does not indicate lesbianism, either. It simply means that, since the Holy Spirit has a close bond with Our Lady (as St. Maximilian Kolbe taught), Mary's motherly love for Jesus and for us is imbued with the Holy Spirit, Whom Fr. Manteau-Bonamy called "the maternal love" of God the Father for the Son.It does not mean that the Holy Spirit is a "mother of Jesus" in addition to Mary. Scott Hahn makes no such argument. When you really understand what he is saying, you'll see there is no lesbianism there at all.Vree's malfunction is in part due to his erroneous idea that the Holy Ghost played a "sexual" role in the Incarnation. That is why he reads Hahn's work and thinks, "Lesbianism!!!" He's reading it through the lens of his own misunderstanding of the Spirit's role in the Incarnation, which was not a paternal -or maternal- role at all!

Lest anyone think Rosemarie is simply carrying the water for Dr. Hahn, she goes on to say:

Scott Hahn may be right, he may be wrong, and one can certain question whether that book, intended for popular consumption, was really the best place to engage in such nuanced theological speculation. But he did not deserve to be slammed with feminist/pro-gay marriage libel because of it.

Amen Rosemarie. Who’s operating from “hearsay” and “second hand” information? Dale Vree and Phil Blosser, not Rosemarie or anyone else in the comments box.

Dale Vree appears to have a serious axe…more like a guillotine…to grind against Pope John Paul II biographer George Weigel. He calls Weigel George “Humpty Dumpty Weigel” and characterizes his book The Cube and the Cathedral as “rhetorical witchcraft”. If Dr. Blosser is so damned adamant about Vree’s critics showing him respect why doesn’t he demand that Vree show respect for Weigel? In fact, he defends Vree:

But the real issue here is the definition of "freedom" and whether Vree misinterpreted Weigel. The answer, I contend, is quite simple: Vree turns out to be right here, and it is Weigel who is fudging. Let me explain. In his original article, ("A Nation Defining Election", The Tidings, April 2004), Weigel is concerned to distinguish two senses of the word "freedom": (1) freedom in the sense of doing things "my way"; and (2) freedom in the sense "doing the right thing for the right reasons in the right way, as a matter of habit (which is another name for 'virtue)." There is nothing new about this distinction. Out of the multifarious senses of "freedom" one might distinguish (here Mortimer Adler's Freedom: A Study of the Development of the Concept in the English and American Traditions of Philosophy is probably definitive), Weigel has singled out two -- the former, a sense with modern associations stemming from the Enlightenment and Kant's notion of the autonomous executive will ("doing what I want") -- and the latter, a sense with classical associations stemming from the Greek, or more specifically, Aristotelian ideals of virtue ("doing what I should," or "acting in accordance with the inner telos of my true nature"). The latter is also susceptible of overlays of biblical understandings ("the Truth shall set you free") and Thomistic and Lockean natural law ("freedom is discerned through the naturalis ratio") and their respective modes of apprehending the Good.Now it is true, of course, as the Catholic Encyclopedia, and Weigel, and Aristotle and all of classical thought are agreed, that 'virtue' is a kind of 'habit.' Just as by repeatedly smoking cigarettes, one acquires the habit of smoking, so by repeatedly performing acts of moral goodness (like telling the truth) or evil (like telling lies), one acquires moral habits (virtues such as truthfulness, or vices, such as untrustworthiness). This much is a given.But now, when Weigel writes in his letter to NOR: "I have never written that 'freedom' is 'another name for virtue,'" and that what he had originally written was that "'habit' is 'another name for virtue,'" this may be true; but it is also beside the point and misleading. For the question is not whether "freedom" is "another name for virtue" -- which it isn't -- but whether it is conceptually linked with virtue in Weigel's second sense of "freedom," which it essentially and ineluctably is. Therefore it seems to me that Weigel is being not a trifle disingenuous here, probably still smarting from Vree's treatment of him in his Sept. 2004 New Oxford Note ("George 'Humpty Dumpty' Weigel") to which he obviously took strong exception. Vree's answer to Weigel sounds flippant, but it would be unwise to dismiss it precipitously as conceptually mistaken on that account, because it's not. Vree wrote:

What's not to understand? What you wrote is crystal clear: Freedom is habit is virtue. Therefore, freedom is virtue. Sorry, but there's no "plausible deniability" here. You can't wiggle out of it. You said it, and you can't pass the buck on to Fr. Pinckaers.

It's true that the terms and concepts of "freedom" and "virtue" are not identical. But in Weigel's second definition of freedom, he defines freedom in the sense of a habit of virtue; hence, Vree is entirely within his epistemic rights in concluding that, for purposes of that definition, freedom = habit = virtue. Thus Vree is the one who's got his philosophy right here, no matter how flippant he may sound, whereas it's Weigel who is blowing smoke and confusing the issue, no matter how diplomatic and scholarly he may sound. What's Weigel up to? Why would he do such a thing? Why would someone who is the object of sharp criticism react in this way? To distance himself from his critic? To give the appearance of having bested his critic in any way possible? You tell me.

Even if we were to concede some of Vree’s portrayals of Weigel’s definition of freedom had any merit (or that Vree is within his “epistemic rights”), Dr. Blosser would have to acknowledge that Vree’s attack on Weigel was way over the top. Given the insulting tone Vree employs in his “critique” of Weigel, I think Weigel’s “snippety” response was well justified.

Anyone with any familiarity with NOR knows, contrary to what Dr. Blosser claims, what is really at issue here is that Vree’s personal animus against Weigel and the rest of the Catholic “neo-con” establishment over issues like the war in Iraq is what fuels his vitriolic criticism of Weigel’s definition of freedom. And since Vree knows he cannot effectively take on Weigel or any of the other dreaded “neo-cons” in arena of ideas on this issue, he has to divert attention from that fact by starting a tempest in a teacup, pole-vaulting over the mouse turds of Weigel’s minor epistemological errors (real or perceived) on the nature of freedom. Anyone who actually reads Weigel’s article knows what he is talking about and just how petty Vree is being.

I find it disturbing, to say the least, for Blosser to not only refuse to hold Dale Vree accountable for conduct that is clearly unbecoming of an editor of a Catholic periodical, but hold Vree is high regard: “With very few and comparatively minor exceptions -- generally constituting, at worst, indiscretions of tact -- my judgment is that Vree's editorial performance has been utterly irreproachable.”

Let’s take a look at a few more examples of Dale Vree’s “utterly irreproachable” editorial performance, shall we?

To wit:

In an unjust war -- which is what the Catholic Church said the war on Iraq is -- killing soldiers, killing civilians who get in the way of military targets, and killing civilians on purpose are all murder. (And just what is the difference between terrorism and murder in warfare?) (emphasis added)

Now, Mr. Vree should know that when he says the “Catholic Church” said the war in Iraq is unjust that is ascribing magisterial authority to the opposition to the war of Pope John Paul II and then Cardinal Ratzinger despite the latter explicitly stating otherwise on two separate occasions:

Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia. (Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion — General Principles #3)(emphasis added)

Furthermore, the former Cardinal made clear that political matters (under which category the war in Iraq qualifies) are “not within his competence” and are “not a matter of Catholic doctrine”:

"Of course, [The Pope] did not impose this position as a doctrine of the Church but as the appeal of a conscience enlightened by faith. The Holy Father's judgment is also convincing from the rational point of view: There were not sufficient reasons to unleash a war against Iraq." ( Cardinal Ratzinger interview with Zenit News in May 2, 2003)

Vree has, recently, made his belief regarding the magisterial status of Vatican opposition to the war in Iraq even more clear:

So all in all, opposition to the war on Iraq can be considered a teaching of the Ordinary Magisterium, that is, not infallible. The moral teachings of the Ordinary Magisterium are to be given "loyal submission of the will and intellect" (Vatican II's Lumen Gentium, #25). This should be reason enough for loyal Catholics to oppose the war on Iraq.

But is this teaching infallible? Stick with us, for in a roundabout way, the condemnation of the invasion of Iraq is infallible. (emphasis added)

If we are to follow Vree’s logic here, Cardinal Ratzinger, by saying that Vatican opposition of the war in Iraq is not part of Catholic doctrine, is guilty of the same kind of Mater, sí; Magístra no refusal to submit to the Ordinary Magisterium viz. Lumen Gentium 25 , as the pro-war "neo-cons".

In the interests of full disclosure, I have to admit that the latter Vree quote came some time after Dr. Blosser’s defense. However, as the first quote indicates, the trajectory towards the latter was rather clear. Moreover, Dr. Blosser, I am sure, is well aware of the second quote and has yet to raise any objections to it. Considering Dr. Blosser’s willingness to go to pains to defend Mr. Vree in the past and the heterdox nature of Vree’s position as stated in the latter quote, I think Dr. Blosser ought to at least make clear that he objects to it.

Now enter in canonist Dr. Ed Peters. He weighs in on the Contra Dale Vree affair in his guest blogger post of February 20th of this year on Jimmy Akin’s blog. I would like to say that his approach was more reasoned than that of Karl Keating and Dr. Phil Blosser, but it wasn’t. He begins with:

“Lately it seems that ripping Dale Vree and the New Oxford Review has become many people’s favorite past time.”

Yeah, it’s because Dale deserves the "ripping" he has been getting.

“Of course, Vree is no stranger to intellectual street-fighting, so knocking NOR is nothing new. But to this observer, the pile-on looks like it’s getting out of hand.”

Given the way Vree whines when he gets his comeuppance, he isn’t much of a streetfighter. Seeing as how Dr. Peters seems to express no concern over what caused the “pile-on” to begin with, namely Vree’s beyond-the-pale vitriol, “this observer” isn’t all that observant.

“For example, just recently, Pete Vere, an early-30s, fairly well-known, orthodox Catholic blogger from Canada, thrice taunted Dale Vree (who is twice Vere’s age) for virtually being at death’s door and therefore practically out of time to repent of his publishing sins lest he go to hell. (I am not making this up). That does it. Somebody, hold my glasses. I’m going in.”

Well, given the blindness with which Peters flails about in this post, he would have been better off if he kept his glasses on (or at least wore contacts). Again, I think the manner Pete Vere choose in some of his criticisms of Vree left something to be desired, but the way Peters minimizes Vree’s faults in comparison to Pete’s is both embarrassing and intelligence-insulting. Note how Dr. Peters plays the “youth card” against Vere. What does Pete’s age (or Dale’s for that matter) have to do with any of this? Can we stick to the issues please?

“Dale Vree is not omniscient, his logical skills are not perfect…”

No one is demanding this, so why even bother with this non-sequiter?

“…and sometimes he fails in patience and charity. In other words, he’s a lot like me.”

Anyone who has even a cursory acquaintance with Vree’s writings over the past couple years knows that Vree’s failures far exceed a momentary or even an occasional lapse in charity and good judgment. Vree’s rantings regularly display a gross lack of charity and concern for accuracy. In this light, I must now defend Dr. Peters against his own self-flagellation. No, Ed you are not like Vree. I don’t think anyone could find anything written by you that shows anything like the kind of lack of charity and concern for accuracy that has become par for the course with Vree.

“I’ve been reading NOR off and on for some 25 years—almost as long as Pete Vere has been alive—and there’s an old saying I just made up: ‘Blessed are the believing GenXers, for theirs is a world with abundant outlets for orthodox expression.’ “

If Peters has been "reading NOR off and on for some 25 years—almost as long as Pete Vere has been alive” he should know just how rancid Vree's polemics have become and just how silly and insulting his attempt at defending him is. Well , here's an "old saying" I just made up “Blessed are those abundant outlets for they prevent expressions of Catholic orthodoxy from being controlled by the apologists' old boys club.”

“They can’t remember the bad ole days, when virtually every organ of religious and secular media was dominated by the monolithic chant of ‘Burn, baby, burn.”

“Burn, Baby Burn”? Wasn’t that a title of one of Vree’s hit pieces on Scott Hahn? Yep, I think it was.

“Fewer people remember when, for his articulate defense of Catholic principles, Dale Vree was perhaps the loneliest man in Catholic publishing.”

So how does Vree's past good work justify the gutter ploemics he presently engages in? I mean, how many historians use Benedict Arnold’s earlier heroics (which by far exceed Vree's--real or perceived) to justify his later act of treason?

“But I remember those days, and say that if, in the twilight of his career, Dale Vree is making some unnecessary enemies, that is a genuine matter for concern and individual confrontation by his peers, not for disrespectful rebukes from youth.”

Well, if you guys who consider yourselves his peers would stop circling the wagons and actually confront him, there would be no need for “disrespectful rebukes from youth”. Peters’ statement here smacks of an elitism that has become all too commonplace amongst certain prominent Catholic apologists. Again Ed, can we stick to issues and put the youth card back in the deck? Thank you.

This gives rise to the question of why a Catholic apologist of the caliber of Jimmy Akin (who IMO is the most responsible and the most scholarly of the professional apologists) would allow his blog to be a venue for this. Now I don’t think Jimmy did it out of deference to Vree as much as to Peters, since he and Peters have a well-established working relationship. But I think Jimmy should have known better and examined what Peters wrote more closely or at least made some explicit qualifications.

Last fall when the conservative base of the Republican party was up in arms over President Bush’s nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court and pressured him to pull her nomination (which he eventually did), some characterized it as a “crack-up” within the conservative base. Rush Limbaugh responded to that charge in an Wall Street Journal Op-Ed piece entitled “Holding Court There's a crackdown over Miers, not a ‘crackup’” The title said all that really needed to be said about that issue.

Likewise here, this piece I have written, if understood and assimilated properly, will serve as a “crackdown” on what is going astray in Catholic apologetics and aid in its getting back on proper course, not a “crack-up”.

If Catholic apologetics is going to be taken seriously by those outside the Church, Catholic apologists (especially those most prominent) have to demonstrate that they are willing to hold themselves and their fellows to at least the same standard as they hold their non-Catholic opposition. In fact, I think they need to hold fellow Catholics (particularly those whom they have close working relationships with as Keating does with Vree and Akin does with Peters) to an even higher standard.

I have taken the time and energy to write this not only out of my respect for Catholic apologetics and the inestimable assistance it has provided to many (this writer included) in coming a proper understanding of what the Catholic Church is and what it teaches and why, but also out of respect for those who have made Catholic apologetics their life’s work, including those whom I have taken to task here.

Karl Keating’s “Catholicism and Fundamentalism” was the first work of Catholic apologetics I ever read. I found it to provide a valuable framework within which to understand certain controversial and difficult Catholic doctrines such as papal infallibility, the Real Presence, Mary etc. I would not hesitate in recommending it to anyone seeking a better understanding of the Catholic faith. I also believe that Catholic Answers, the organization founded by Keating, has provided an indispensable service to the Church as well.

Ed Peters’ canon law work, especially in regards to marriage and annulment issues is, in my view, second to none. He has also been more than generous in sharing his expertise on these matters, including his agreement to my request to give a presentation on annulments to a marriage and family (more like anti-marriage and family but I digress) class I was taking at a local community college about ten years ago.

I am not as familiar with the work of Dr. Phil Blosser, but I did find his work “War and the Eclipse of Moral Reasoning” a well-done work. The only significant, but harmless, error he made in the paper was about Ginger Baker dying of a drug overdose in 1960’s, unless of course he was miraculously resurrected for the 2005 Cream reunion concert at Royal Albert Hall. In fact, Baker looks better now in his 60’s than he did in his 20’s. And he’s still a great drummer.

Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for his defense of Dale Vree. The defense of Dale Vree by Dr. Peters and Mr. Keating, as well as Dr. Blosser is, in my view extremely harmful to the credibility that Catholic apologetics and scholarship needs to have if it is going to be able have any real impact today. Finally, let me ask them how do they expect the non-Catholic, to say nothing of the anti-Catholic world to give them a fair hearing when they engage in the same kind of behavior they have so often rightly upbraided their opposition for?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


A Word to the Wise

"The only cowboys they [Time Magazine and the rest of the Old Media] like are the ones from Brokeback Mountain."

--Mark Levin, yesterday on his syndicated radio show speaking about the Time magazine article proclaiming (they think) the end of the "Bush Doctrine".

Monday, July 03, 2006


Our Founding Fathers: Reluctant Revolutionaries

Without a doubt, no revolution has had the impact in shaping the course of history as did the American Revolution. Because it is called the American “Revolution,” some seize upon this opportunity to characterize our Founding Fathers as though they are the patron saints of those who look for any excuse to just buck the establishment.

Does this description fit our Founding Fathers? Since the constraints of time forbid me to hold you in suspense, I will come right out and say no. We won’t have to look very hard to see that not only is description unwarranted, but that the exact opposite is true.

In the middle of the tenth line of the Declaration of Independence, we read the word

“Prudence indeed will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes. And accordingly, all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

Did Thomas Jefferson add this line for rhetorical effect only in an effort to make our case before the world? Again, the answer is no. It was an exact reflection of the attitude of the colonial leadership regarding the tensions that had arisen between the colonies and the British Crown, beginning at the end of the French and Indian War in 1759 culminating with the Declaration of Independence in July 1776. While resisting the Crown’s attempt to encroach upon the rights granted to the colonies under English law, independence was the furthest thing from their mind. For example, in we have saying Ben Franklin to Lord Chatham in March 1775: “ I have not heard in any conversation, from any person, drunk or sober, the least expression for a wish for a separation or even a hint that such a thing would be advantageous for America. “ George Washington, in a conversation with Rev. Jonathan Boucher of Maryland the spring of that same year said: “If I ever heard of his joining such measures as independence, I had his leave to set him down for everything wicked.” John Adams, known as the Atlas of Independence and who, by his own account, made himself obnoxious for the cause of independence recalls late in his life: “For my part, there was not a moment during the revolution that I would not have given everything I ever possessed for a restoration to the state of things before the contest began.”

In July of 1775, the colonial leadership drew up what was called the “Olive Branch Petition,” which, as the title suggests, was an appeal to the king for peace. This petition not only didn’t express any desire to cut the apron strings of the Mother Country, but sought to strengthen that bond all the more. They entrusted Richard Penn grandson of Pennsylvania founder William Penn with the delivering of this petition to the king.

So, what happened? Here we have Franklin, Washington, and Adams speaking against independence. You also have this petition to strengthen ties with the Crown. What was the straw that broke the camel’s back? It was the action of one man. His name wasn’t John Adams, nor Thomas Jefferson, nor Ben Franklin. His first name was George, but his last name wasn’t Washington. It was Hanover III, king of England. He refused to even see Richard Penn. He rejected the petition, perhaps without even reading it. He issued an intemperate proclamation threatening condign punishment to those authors of the petition. And condign punishment for treason (which is what he was charging them with) was not exactly a slap on the wrist. From this there was really no recourse, but independence. The Declaration says it thus: “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations pursuing invariably the same object envinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty to throw off such government and to provide new guards for their future security.”

Whenever I think of the of the American Revolution, I am wont to recall what English Chancellor St. Thomas More said just before he was executed for refusing renounce his religious submission to the pope, “I am the King’s good servant, but I am God’s first.” Likewise, the American Revolution, in securing those inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness was a great act of obedience to the God who is the source of those rights.

Friday, June 30, 2006


A Word to the Wise

A little common sense goes a long way in the spiritual life.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


WMD's? What WMDs?

I have always maintained that the fat lady hasn't even taken her first singing lesson as to whether or not Iraq had stockpiles of WMDs prior to the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. In fact, I have always had a feeling that she is just getting ready for the Mother of all Concerts and the anti-war, pseudo-peacemaker crowd isn't going to like the tune she sings.

Yesterday, Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) called a press conference to reveal details of a recently declassified Pentgon report stating that over 500 projectiles with warheads filled with chemical agents, most likely sarin and mustard have been found in Iraq 2003.

According to the Loft, the six key findings noted by Santorum are:

--Since 2003 Coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent.

--Despite many efforts to locate and destroy Iraq’s pre-Gulf War chemical munitions, filled and unfilled pre-Gulf War chemical munitions are assessed to still exist.

--Pre-Gulf War Iraqi chemical weapons could be sold on the black market. Use of these weapons by terrorists or insurgent groups would have implications for Coalition forces in Iraq. The possibility of use outside Iraq cannot be ruled out.

--The most likely munitions remaining are sarin and mustard-filled projectiles.

--The purity of the agent inside the munitions depends on many factors, including the manufacturing process, potential additives, and environmental storage conditions. While agents degrade over time, chemical warfare agents remain hazardous and potentially lethal.

--It has been reported in open press that insurgents and Iraqi groups desire to acquire and use chemical weapons.

Although, according to a Defense Department Official speaking to Fox News, "This does not reflect a capacity that was built up after 1991," the official said, adding the munitions "are not the WMDs this country and the rest of the world believed Iraq had, and not the WMDs for which this country went to war", it did " did raise questions about the years of weapons inspections that had not resulted in locating the fairly sizeable stash of chemical weapons. And he noted that it may say something about Hussein's intent and desire."

According to Rush Limbaugh Fox News Military analyst Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney said on Hannity and Colmes last night:

"[M]y personal opinion is, I think the fact is that the Russians moved large stocks of weapons of mass destruction out of Baghdad and Iraq in the fall of 2002. We've all heard what General Sada, the Iraqi defector said. He said that they went into three locations in Syria and one location in the Bekaa Valley, and if you get in there and if you found those weapons and found the precursors, the fingerprints would go back to Russia, China and France."

This is definitely a plausable theory considering the fact that Russia, China, and France were major members of the "Coalition of the Illlin'"{1} who lined their pockets with Hussein blood money vis-a-vis the corruption of the U.N. Oil for Food Program in exchange for their efforts at undermining U.S. and British-led efforts in the Security Council to put pressure on Iraq to disarm, stood to look really bad if we found WMD stockpiles post invasion. Secondly, they sure as hell had all the time in the world to do it. Everybody new we were going to invade Iraq a year ahead of time.

The next question is why doesn't it look as though the Bush adminstration or much of the GOP leadership gonna say a lot about this? Rush Limbaugh poses this theory:

"We've had a three-year propaganda program on "No weapons of mass destruction. None have been found." This is just settled in now as fact. It is not "fact." It is propaganda. The facts are coming out and there's probably a lot more to be unclassified if somebody will just do it. Now, there are other problems that exist here in addition to people not wanting to stick their necks out like Santorum has and Pete Hookstra [sic] has -- and Hookstra [sic], by the way, is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. He's not a minor player here, not a minor figure."

I agree with ElRushbo here, but I also think it makes all those in the Adminstration, the Republican Party, and much of the conservative punditry who, for whatever reason, threw in the towel on the WMD issue saying, "Okay we had bad intelligence. Yada yada yada" look bad as well.
This is why it is important to remember it ain't over until the fat lady sings. Take heart, have courage and let Miss Tub O'Lard sing to her heart's content.


{1} I found this phrase somewhere in the blogosphere. I don't know who coined it. But props to whoever did.

Monday, June 19, 2006


A Word to the Wise

The difference between liberals and conservatives is that the former judge people whereas the latter judge ideas.

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