A few random things this morning….
Have you ever noticed that people who pride themselves on their brutal honesty are usually much more interested in the brutality than the honesty?
Back in the late 90’s I spoke to a group of students at a large Midwestern university about the role of faith in the development of Western Civilization and its intersection with public policy in modern times. As often happens, one student got up and asked if faith was so good, how could I explain the Crusades. I can deal with ignorance, but I loathe ignorance with attitude, particular in a center of learning, so this hit one of my hot buttons.
“I would no more apologize for the Crusades than I would for defeating Hitler,” I shot back. “I know most of you think the Crusades were Christianity’s attack on peaceful Islam. The Crusades were, in fact, Christianity’s counter-attack against Muslim genocidal aggression that sought to conquer the whole world and destroy Christianity entirely. My main problem is that Christianity got started so late. By the time we roused ourselves to battle at all, Islam had conquered all of the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) and huge chunks of Western Europe, including parts of France, Germany and Italy. The defensive success of the Crusades made it possible for you to be at this university today.”
The students were stunned. The head of the philosophy department, who was also a prominent medieval historian and well-regarded by the students, was there. They appealed to him to correct my errors. He rose and said that though I gave a very short version, what I said was accurate. They were even more stunned.
My old friend, Al Salvi, is writing an historical fictional account of the man who rallied the nobles to the cause of defending Europe and Christianity and winning back the Holy Land from the Muslim invaders, Count Raymond IV of Toulouse. Two of his sons, David and Joe, have become quite knowledgeable on the subject, as well. Al was the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Illinois in 1996, winning an upset victory over the sitting lieutenant governor in the primary and I ran his campaign, my first statewide effort. David got his name from events during that campaign. Joe was then a toddler, Often, during my visits at the house, if Joe was fussy, I would take him because I somehow had a very soothing effect on him (I’ve always been good with babies). It pleases me to no end that, later today, I will put up a guest column on the Crusades written by David and Joe Salvi.
The synod on marriage has ignited some intense controversy. I am disappointed that some otherwise reputable Catholic sites have reduced commentary on the matter to trashy polemics. I think something needs to be done, as I wrote here. I do not support Cardinal Kasper’s efforts to try to ignore doctrinal teaching to offer relief on the matter – but I do not support Cardinal Burke on making no administrative changes to take into account the effect of the toxic culture on the validity of many marriages. As usual these days when something is thoroughly politicized, the ugliest attacks diminishing the seriousness of the matter are coming from the progressive wing of commentators. Elizabeth Scalia who writes the Anchoress Column – and has a few progressive tendencies herself – is thoroughly disgusted with the trashy smears mounted by the progressive wing in support of its case.
Sandro Magister, a Roman author and journalist who specializes in writing on the Catholic Church, has an article up that goes into some detail over the appointment of Spokane’s Bishop Blasé Cupich as the new Archbishop of Chicago. Alas, it is not a very hopeful article if you are faithful to the Magisterium. I pray that it is prelude to a heroic story of conversion and fidelity…Paul before Damascus, the early days of Augustine. We shall see, but as one of my dear priests likes to say, “The plot thickens…”
Some of you have noticed that I have put up the randomly generated “snowflake” icons again by your name in comments. I had dropped them a while back because someone complained that his reminded him of a swastika. I didn’t see a swastika in it, but I figured, what the heck, why give unnecessary offense to anyone? Well, now I see that several different people use the same screen name in comments. I tried to see if I could force people to register unique screen names – but the platform does not provide for that. These “snowflakes,” though, are unique to each person who registers for comments, so it will make it easier for people to know who is who. If you don’t like the “snowflake” the system assigned you, simply set up an account with Gravatar. It’s free and allows you to put any picture you want as your avatar, which will replace the “snowflake” when you comment here.