Monday, December 30, 2013

Belated: Sunday Snippets — A Catholic Carnival (Vol. 13:52)

My apologies for the late appearance of this post. My brain decided it hadn't had enough rest on Wednesday and shut down on me Sunday.

"Sunday Snippets — A Catholic Carnival" is, as I've explained before, a selection of posts from around the Catholic blogosphere collected by RAnn of This, That and the Other Thing. In this manner, it's sort of like New Evangelists Monthly, to which I also contribute, except instead of directly linking you to the articles themselves, Sunday Snippets links you to posts in which any number of articles can be linked. So while it entails more steps, you'll find some good writing by writers that the big blog aggregators can miss.

On this blog I haven't done much ... just passed along a message from Phil Robertson concerning cuts to veterans' benefits, as well as linked to my quater-weekly submission to Catholic Stand, "Talking white trash". On Outside the Asylum, my only effort was "Phil Robertson's other controversial statement", where I turn my attention to the public perception that the Duck Dynasty patriarch had said black people were happy under "Jim Crow laws" and find it to be an exaggeration. Hopefully I'm all done with the Bearded One, and can discuss other things closer to my heart than a "reality show" I never watch.

And that's it for now. Have a great week, and a safe New Year's Eve!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Catholic Stand: Talking white trash

People of a certain age ought to remember the routine that made comedian Jeff Foxworthy a household name. And I’ll give just one example: “If you mow your yard, and you find three cars and a couch, you might be a redneck.”

What Foxworthy was describing, though, wasn’t really a redneck. No, there’s another name for the ignorant, slovenly boors Foxworthy’s jokes painted in such garish colors: white trash. We could go less race-specific and use the term I heard growing up — trailer trash. Either name makes the egalitarian-minded liberal shudder; and yet, while progressives are good at talking populist, when the crunch comes they can be as elitist as any Porcellian among the Boston Brahmin.

The term white trash has been popping up here and there since the infamous Phil Robertson GQ interview; understandably, since Robertson used it to describe himself and the people he came from (post-WWII, pre-Vietnam rural Louisiana). Peter Lawler, in the blog “Postmodern Conservative” on First Things, remarks:

The phrase “white trash” is, in fact, one of the most unattractive features of aristocratic Southern Stoicism. The Stoic, aristocratic (not to mention gay and racist) poet-philosopher William Alexander Percy disparaged “white trash” far more than southern blacks. And we see that same sort of stereotyping in To Kill a Mockingbird, where the white trash are really, really trashy — so trashy that nobody minds how cruelly Stoic attorney Atticus Finch deconstructs the pretensions of their way of life in the service of justice for a noble — if simple — black man. And of course the white trash jury was too trashy to keep an innocent black man from being convicted. …
When a Stoic Walker Percy character says that the behavior celebrated on our talk and reality shows is that of white trash — of people who don’t know how to act because they don’t know who they are — we can’t help but want to agree. … White trash, any real Southern Stoic would say, describes a way of living not confined to the impoverished or the South. (Here I refer you to the novels of Tom Wolfe.)
Read more at Catholic Stand!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Please stand by ...

Well, the essay for Catholic Stand hasn't posted yet — what the heck, I got it in late, and it's Christmas so everything's bound to be in disarray for a little bit — so let me offer a filler:

In the essay, "Talking white trash", I discuss the term white trash in connection with the Phil Robertson GQ interview and the rise of cultural illiteracy in which, as Southern writer Charlotte Hays puts it, "white trash has become the new normal". In a society that's culturally illiterate, people don't know enough of their culture to intelligently oppose or promote a viewpoint; yet, with an ever-increasing incidence of classic narcissism, the coming generation isn't bothered by their lack of subject-matter knowledge: "I don't know that s**t! Keep it real!" They believe they know enough to have a valid opinion ... and aren't we supposed to think for ourselves, anyway? Despite our technological progress, in some areas we're actually more ignorant than any previous generation ... and we're smug about it to boot. The essay is mostly in the context of religious knowledge (cultus being both the etymological and anthropological root of culture), but I fear it extends to other aspects as well.

Well, since the post is finished and committed for review, I can't incorporate this op-ed piece by Patrick B. Craine in LifeSiteNews: "The real 'war on Christmas' is perpetrated by Christians themselves". In my own piece, I mentioned the "stoopid lefty meme" as well as a CNN BeliefBlog piece which Terry Mattingly dismantled in GetReligion. Both of these items are good examples of what Craine is talking about:

The problem is that Christ and His Gospel have been co-opted and distorted. The Cross has been edited out, and Christ has been re-envisioned according to modern sensibilities. In the public mind, the Lion of Judah has become a hippy sentimentalist; the Lamb of God a cuddly teddy bear. He’s nice; He doesn’t make great demands of us – except for the ones the culture does. Our path to heaven is laid wide by being a “good person,” in other words, by staying on the right side of the law and giving to charity now and then. One of the key challenges of proclaiming Christ in this culture we live in is that to get our message across we have to first break through these preconceived distortions.

Granted, this is nothing I haven't said before elsewhere ... but then, I write in defense of Catholic Christian orthodoxy; there is a sense in which originality is a liability rather than an asset. Or, perhaps I should say that it's more important to get something right than to make it original or idiosyncratic.

Monday, December 23, 2013

A message from Phil Robertson

... or, at least it claims to be from him. With Photoshop you can never be sure. But given the kind of person Robertson's revealed himself to be, I can believe he is behind this message.

That's gratitude for you. Gratitude to all those who have served. Seems every time Congress wants to save a nickel, veterans are the ones they screw to save it.

Of course, the real problem is the longer lifespans we live. If you enlist right out of high school, you qualify for a 2/3rds pension when you're not even forty years old ... a pension the government pays you for conceivably twice as long as your original term of service. Go thirty years, and the government pays you 3/4ths pension for about as long as your service term. In either case, you have plenty of years left to earn a civilian salary while collecting a military pension; some even go to work for the government in another sector and become "double-dippers". Is it any wonder Alexander cut the Gordian knot rather than try to untie it?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival (Volume 13:51)

... And I finally got the proper photo credit at the bottom. Credit where credit is due.

Welcome again to "Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival", where, after briefly recapping my own poor efforts to entertain and instruct, I refer you back to RAnn's This, That and the Other Thing, wherein you'll find links to other Catholic writers begging for discerning readers to become followers. Just follow the link, and you'll be enriched and edified by a goodly collection of obscure but worthy talents on many issues.

Of course (of course you knew I'd say "of course"), this week I don't have much to offer, though I am getting better at posting at least once a week. In Outside the Asylum I offer you "No 'Christmas' without Christ", a reflection on American Atheists' annual whiny-a$$, crybaby billboard reflecting their odd conviction that people still go to church only out of a sense of social obligation (the only people this description really fits are Unitarians, whose church has been described as "Sunday worship for agnostics"). Then here on The Impractical Catholic I offer you "Another stoopid lefty meme to fisk", one that shows us once again why it takes more than a Bible and a sense of one's intellectual superiority to properly learn Christianity. Just for fun, I've also posted a video clip demonstrating that Chuck Norris is The Man and Jean-Claude Van Damme is a mere wanna-be.

I don't know if I'll be posting anything between Wednesday and today; if not, then have yourself a wonderful, memorable Christmas! See you Thursday with a link to my upcoming Catholic Stand post!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Another stoopid lefty meme to fisk

To your left is another meme making the usual rounds. Like most memes, its BQ (bulls*** quotient) is high and its SMK (subject-matter knowledge) is low; like most progressive memes invoking Jesus, it shows a high degree of scriptural choosiness combined with a shocking innocence concerning anachronism (do I need to point out that Jesus didn't have to pay for malpractice insurance, buy expensive diagnostic equipment or maintain a suite of offices?).

*sigh* Here we go:

Jesus was not a radical revolutionary. He affirmed the authority of religious leaders (Mt 23:2-3) and of the secular government (Lk 20:25). He hung out with sinners because "I came to call not the righteous to repentance but sinners" (Mk 2:17). Jesus' "silence" on homosexuality and abortion can only be taken to mean he did not oppose Jewish law forbidding gay sex and the use of abortifacients; Jesus “did not come to abolish the law ... but to fulfill [it]” (Mt 5:17). He did not condemn the adulteress, but he did tell her, “Go and sin no more” (Jn 8:11). 

Most of all, Jesus did not come to be a political sock puppet or to take sides in our godawful culture wars but so “that he who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Watch as Chuck Norris pwns Jean-Claude Van Damme

Jean-Claude Van Damme does the splits between two moving Volvos? Pfffffffft. Van Damme, Seagal, Jet Li — all of them amateurs and wanna-bes. Here he is, the star of Lone Wolf McQuade and Good Guys Wear Black, showing that Belgian second-stringer how it's really done:

(Heck with it — what I really like about the commercial is that Norris sends up his own tough-guy image so well. It's like watching William Shatner goof on himself.)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival (Volume 13:50)

Ah-HAH! Finally found the photo I used to use for this segment!

Although I post links to pieces I've written through the week here, this feature really isn't about me. If you want to read what I've done the last week — and this week it wasn't much to speak of — you can always go to my archives here and on The Other Blog. Heck, you can just scroll down the page and click the titles you want to read.

No, the real purpose of this post is to direct you to RAnn's blog, This That and the Other Thing, where once a week she holds a virtual kaffeklatsch called "Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival". This will lead you to other posts like this, where Catholics from around the blogosphere — most of whom you may not know — have their own efforts linked. You can always go to New Advent or BigPulpit to find the big-leaguer Catholic writers and the more promising of the farm-club players. But if you're a true aficionado, you can find some tasty writing among us sand-lot and small-town players. That's also why I promote Catholic Stand and New Evangelist Monthly — it ain't just because the editors of those outlets were kind enough to ask me to contribute.

So anyway: In Outside the Asylum, I offer you "The 'starter job' myth and economic reality", in which I muse over the recent fast-food strikes and demands for a $15/hour minimum wage. On this blog — well, heck, just scroll down a bit for a semi-review of two books on the Christian roots of science in the High Middle Ages, as well as for a slightly naughty rib-tickler on the thermodynamics of Hell.

Today is Gaudete Sunday — gaudēte being Latin for "all y'all rejoice" — when we're reminded that the coming of the Lord is a thing to rejoice over:

Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
with divine recompense
he comes to save you.

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing.

Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return
and enter Zion singing,
crowned with everlasting joy;
they will meet with joy and gladness,
sorrow and mourning will flee.
(Isaiah 35:4-6, 10)

Have a joyous week!

From the "Religious Apocrypha Department" ...

... comes this tale of a University of Arizona student's answer to a question on a chemistry midterm:

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic [gives off heat] or endothermic [absorbs heat]?

Wrote the student in reply:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving, which is unlikely. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let’s look at the different religions that exist in the world today.

Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. [?] Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. [??] With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle’s Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas holiday reading

There are two books touching on the history of scientific development that are out now which you may find interesting, and which bear on the Christian-atheist dialogue ... so far as a "dialogue" can be said to exist on any controversy on the Internet. (Most of what occurs out here on the misinformation superhighway consists of competing monologues, strawman-bashing and argument by sneer and meme.) The first book I haven't read yet, but which is going on my Amazon wish list on the recommendation of an atheist.

Yes, you read that right.

Tim O'Neill's "About the Author" blurb tells us that he "holds a Master of Arts in Medieval Literature from the University of Tasmania and is a subscribing member of the Australian Atheist Foundation and the Australian Skeptics. He is also the author of the History versus The Da Vinci Code website and is currently working on a book with the working title History for Atheists: How Not to Use History in Debates About Religion." The "About the Author" blurb is found on his review of God's Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science, by James Hannah (London: Icon Books, 2010). 

O'Neill's recommendation comes almost as an aside to his real topic, which is the "staggering level of historical illiteracy" he encounters on atheist discussion boards. "I like to console myself that many of the people on such boards have come to their atheism via the study of science and so, even if they are quite learned in things like geology and biology, usually have a grasp of history stunted at about high school level. I generally do this because the alternative is to admit that the average person's grasp of history and how history is studied is so utterly feeble as to be totally depressing."

The myth goes that the Greeks and Romans were wise and rational types who loved science and were on the brink of doing all kinds of marvelous things (inventing full-scale steam engines is one example that is usually, rather fancifully, invoked) until Christianity came along. Christianity then banned all learning and rational thought and ushered in the Dark Ages. Then an iron-fisted theocracy, backed by a Gestapo-style Inquisition, prevented any science or questioning inquiry from happening until Leonardo da Vinci invented intelligence and the wondrous Renaissance saved us all from Medieval darkness.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival (Volume 13:49)

Translation: "A real Merry Christmas and a real St. Nicholas!"
The best Feast of St. Nicholas meme I've seen so far is to your left. The second is an Eastern-style iconic portrait with the words: "He sees you when you're sleeping /He knows when you're awake /He knows if you've denied the divinity of Christ, so if you're an Arian, DUCK!"

(For those of you not up on your saints, St. Nicholas of Myra, the root of the "Santa Claus" legend, supposedly attended the Council of Nicaea, where in a fit of holy fury he punched the heretic Arius dead in the face. Alas, his attendance is apocryphal ... but it's still a good story.)

Okay, the Saint Nicholas observance is a couple days late, but just in time is this week's "Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival" link to RAnn's blog This, That and the Other Thing. My entries for the week:

From Outside the Asylum: "Ecce ancilla Domini ...", a reflection on the typology of the Blessed Mother as the New Eve, especially as it ties in to the Immaculate Conception.
From The Impractical Catholic: "Conservative 'cafeteria Catholics' on parade", which takes on Rush Limbaugh and the Catholic conservatives who treat the social doctrine of the Church as somehow "optional" or "not authoritative".

I've also submitted my monthly link to New Evangelist Monthly. When I picked "In loving (and selective) memory", I was thinking it was about the only real effort I made last month. However, I could have also selected "Bethlehem redux", which has gotten plenty of shares and "likes" over at Catholic Stand, although it's a trimmed-down and slightly updated version of a post I wrote for The Other Blog three years ago.

Last thought: I'm finally starting to separate the voices of Outside the Asylum and The Impractical Catholic. While I still expect to occasionally take on controversial subjects in OTA, that voice is more reflective, and will probably see at most one post a week from here on out. TIC, on the other hand, will be more engaged with topical matter, where I pull off the gloves and get in my first reactions in a more idiomatic voice. Any thoughts on this?

Have a great week! Pax vobiscum.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Conservative "cafeteria Catholicism" on parade

I thought that it was impossible for me to respect Rush Limbaugh less; I thought that needle was buried at zero for some years. However, there must have been a little morsel — perhaps a hidden affection for his term "femi-nazi" — sneaking around in a dusty, little-used corner of my mind. That little booger died quickly yet screaming in agony when Limbaugh decided to take issue with Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (which is back online in HTML format, although you can also download it in PDF format for perusing on your tablet or e-reader).

What, specifically, did Limbaugh take issue with? Why, Paragraph 54, which has turned out to be a stumbling block to free-market apologists, both Catholic and non-Catholic:

... [S]ome people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably [in Spanish, por si’ mismo, which Fr. John Zuhlsdorf argues is better translated as "by itself"] succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Fake victims and lying for the Cause

Pseudo-victim Dayna Morales. (Dept. of Defense)
This has to be the most pathetic story I've read in thirty-plus years of following the culture wars.

Let me set this up by saying I'm conflicted on the issue of tipping. I tip good service because it's customary, and because I know a lot of servers depend on the extra change for their ability to pay rent and utilities and put gas in their cars. However, I don't believe servers are entitled to tips, and I resent that restaurateurs can legally take advantage of the custom to pay their waitstaff less than minimum wage — it's their moral obligation to pay a decent wage for the server's work, not the general public's.

But no way would I not tip a waitperson solely because of his/her sexual orientation. That's the kind of judgmentalism Jesus condemns in Matthew 7:1-5 — "You deserve to be underpaid because of your sinful life." Charity gives not to the deserving but to the undeserving; to give to the deserving is not charity but rather justice. If we were all to be denied the necessities of life because of our sinfulness, who would own so much as a loaf of bread or a pair of pants?

So when Dayna Morales, a former Marine and a server at Gallop Asian Bistro in Bridgewater, New Jersey, claimed that a customer stiffed her on a $93.55 bill and wrote on the receipt that it was "because I do not agree with your lifestyle", I was torn. On the one hand, such an act is petty and Pharisaical; on the other, precisely because it is petty it doesn't warrant a lot of attention ... it barely budges the needle on the persecution meter. Other people disagreed, and started sending Morales "tips" from all over the world, which she claims she will donate to the Wounded Warrior Project (a fine and worthy cause).

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival—REBOOT!

So I got the weekly email from RAnn at This, That and the Other Thing with the link for submissions to Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival, in which I've been participating off and on over the last two years ... lately more off than on. 

With the email came a little lecture: This thing is a two-way street. It's all fine and dandy to post links to your own scrivenings, but how about linking back? Other writers post to Catholic Carnival, too, y'know.

Quoth the prophet Homer of Springfield, "D'OH!" Yes, I dropped the ball, and I really have no excuse. 

So, to conform in all fairness with the host's "suggestion", the link back to Sunday Snippets is posted above. And here are the posts which I've submitted: From Outside the Asylum, I've posted "First Sunday in Advent", a meditation on the beginning of the Church's liturgical year; and from this blog I've linked to the post on my Knights of Columbus council's annual charity drive (which is done with, but you can still contribute through this link here).

So go visit RAnn and check out all the Catholic writers who post there! You'll be glad you did!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Bethlehem redux

Three years ago, Jeff Miller (aka the Curt Jester) posted a somewhat-lengthy discussion of the Christmas movies he’d been watching. Along the way, he noted just how many of them hit the same themes over and over: 1) Family is important; 2) Materialism is bad; and 3) Santa Claus is real. On the other hand, the only other option seems to be watching some iteration or other of the Nativity story. Couldn’t somebody, Miller wondered, manage to write a story that would hit the Nativity themes without being a Nativity movie?

It sounds like an interesting idea. At least, until you ask yourself: How do you separate the themes of the Nativity from the fact of it? Three years and two or three dozen Hallmark Channel movies later, it still seems a terribly difficult task.

Let me set the scene:

For thousands of years, in the midst of the toil and heartache of survival, humans have been wrestling with the apparent indifference of the universe to their existence. They’ve watched children come into the world and loved ones go out, and learned that the strange phenomenon called life is ephemeral—brought forth in pain, yet destroyed so easily. “Why,” they’ve asked the remote, abstracted heavens, “why all this pleasure and suffering and joy and sorrow and health and sickness and war and wedding, if it all comes to nothing at the end of our days? Is there a purpose to all of this? Do we matter at all in the grand scheme of the cosmos? Is there nothing about our scratching to survive and fighting to love that inflames some greater being to pity?”

Read more at Catholic Stand!

And just as a reminder, you can follow this link to contribute to the Knights of Columbus St. Mark Council's annual charity drive. Please help us make a difference in the lives of North Texans!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Annual Charity Drive!

Looking for some worthy causes to donate to, but don't have the time? Let the Knights of Columbus take care of that for you!

Okay, so that's a little tongue-in-cheeky.

Just to give a little background, for those of you who are kinda foggy as to who and what we are: 

The Knights of Columbus is the world's largest Catholic fraternal service organization. Based mostly in the US, its territories and foreign bases, there are also chapters in Canada, Mexico, Poland, Guatemala and other nations. Originally formed as a mutual benefit society for poor immigrants, we now donate over $160 million in direct contributions and 70 million man-hours of labor to various good works. We also have over $90 billion in insurance policies in force, backed by $19.8 billion in assets, with the highest of ratings. The Knights have also done some political lobbying over the years, but that's only one small part of our total effort on behalf of the Catholic Church; no, we have no albino assassins.

Now, to cut to the chase: Black Friday weekend is when my council (St. Mark, Denton, Texas) holds its annual charity drive. All the money collected this weekend — that's right, all as in "100%" — goes to our charity fund; not a penny goes to us (our membership dues pay for what little overhead we have). Most of the payouts are local, especially to the Loretto House, a local crisis pregnancy center, Seeds of Change (a project that feeds homeless people), Texas Special Olympics and the American Wheelchair Mission.

This year, though, we've set up a PayPal account which goes directly into our charity fund. So if you're not going to be in the area of the Golden Triangle Mall in Denton this weekend, you can follow this link and make a contribution by Visa, Mastercard, AmEx or Discover, or through your own PayPal account. And you can continue to give long after the weekend is over, either through recurring debits or just revisiting the link (as we have no plans to take it down Sunday). 

Just tell 'em that Tony the Impractical Catholic sent you.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

And as anger normally follows disillusion — UPDATED

H/T to Rorate Caeli, who has apparently gotten over his traditionalist initial reservations and joined the legion of orthodox fans of Pope Francis.

"Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his own country" (Luke 4:24). The video below shows Argentinian pro-abortion feminists in front of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist (San Juan Bautista) in San Juan de Cuyo, burning Pope Francis in effigy this last Sunday night [WARNING: BRIEF PARTIAL NUDITY]

Francis has indicated before that there would be no budging on the Church's teaching on the intrinsic evil of abortion, yet many in the commentariat insisted on painting him as The Chosen One Who Would Lead the Church Out of the Dark Ages and Into Progressive Enlightenment. Now comes this passage in Francis' recently-released apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), paras. 213-214 (bold type mine):

Among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenceless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this. Frequently, as a way of ridiculing the Church’s effort to defend their lives, attempts are made to present her position as ideological, obscurantist and conservative. Yet this defence of unborn life is closely linked to the defence of each and every other human right. It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development. Human beings are ends in themselves and never a means of resolving other problems. Once this conviction disappears, so do solid and lasting foundations for the defence of human rights, which would always be subject to the passing whims of the powers that be. Reason alone is sufficient to recognize the inviolable value of each single human life, but if we also look at the issue from the standpoint of faith, “every violation of the personal dignity of the human being cries out in vengeance to God and is an offence against the creator of the individual” (John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici (30 December 1988), 37: AAS 81 (1989), 461).
Precisely because this involves the internal consistency of our message about the value of the human person, the Church cannot be expected to change her position on this question. I want to be completely honest in this regard. This is not something subject to alleged reforms or “modernizations”. It is not “progressive” to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life.

Now, if you can get radical feminists to burn you in effigy and that pompous reactionary blowhard Rush Limbaugh to stop just short of calling you a Communist, you must be doing something right.

¡Viva el Papa!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

So much for the "progressive Pope" ...

Somebody got it right from the start ...!
The thing I love most about Pope Francis is that he unequivocally demonstrates that to be a "conservative" is NOT to be a big meanie who likes to kick puppies and make children cry for fun.

(Well, so did Papa Bene, but no one in the librul media wanted to believe it of him.)

From Fr. John Zuhlsdorf's blog What Does the Prayer Really Say?:
The 450th anniversary of the closing of the Council of Trent is coming up on 4 December.  We like to celebrate these great milestones in salvation history.  So, there are great doings in Trent, in the northern area of Italy which is part of the (also) German-speaking Tirol.  As is customary, Pope Francis will send a Cardinal as his personal representative.  Who better than His Eminence Walter Card. Brandmüller?
When the Pope sends a Cardinal off on one of these missions, he sends him a formal letter, charging him with his task and indicating something of his own hopes for the occasion.  The anniversary of the closing of the Council of Trent is no exception.
In his letter to Card. Brandmüller, Pope Francis explicitly cites Pope Benedict XVI pontificate-defining address in 2005 to the Roman Curia in which he spoke about the “hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture” (e.g., the Karl Rahner crowd and their descendants, still active today) and the “hermeneutic of reform”, or “hermeneutic of continuity”.

To give you a better sense of the import, let me give you Fr. Z's translation of the first part of the letter, which was written in Latin (of course):

To our Venerable Brother
Walter Cardinal (of the Holy Roman Church) Brandmüller
Deacon of St. Julian of the Flemish

Since the 450th anniversary of the day on which the Council of Trent drew to its favorable end, it is fitting that the Church recall with readier and more attentive eagerness the most rich doctrine which came out of that Council held in the Tyrol. It is certainly not without good reason that the Church has for a long time given such great care to that Council’s decrees and canons which are to be recalled and heeded, seeing that, since extremely grave matters and questions sprang up in that period, the Council Fathers employed all their diligence so that the Catholic faith should come into clearer view and be better understood. Without a doubt as the Holy Spirit inspired and prompted them, it was the Fathers’ greatest concern not only that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine be defended, but also that mankind be more brightly illuminated, in order that the saving work of the Lord could be diffused throughout the entire globe and the Gospel be spread through the whole world.

Harking closely to the same Spirit, Holy Church in this age renews and meditates on the most abundant doctrine of the Council of Trent. In fact, the “hermeneutic of renewal” which Our Predecessor [yes, "Praedecessor Noster" in the original] Benedict XVI explained in 2005 before the Roman Curia, refers in no way less to the Council of Trent than to the Vatican Council. To be sure, this mode of interpretation places under a brighter light a beautiful characteristic of the Church which is taught by the Lord Himself: "She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God" (Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI to the Roman Curia offering them his Christmas greetings, 22 December 2005).

Monday, November 18, 2013

Ten Things Jim Rigby Gets Wrong about Jesus, the Church and Homosexuality

1) If Jesus did not mention a subject, it cannot be essential to his teachings.

The fact is, we don’t know whether Jesus ever mentioned homosexuality or not. “But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25). But the real error is the implied argument “not essential = irrelevant and disposable”. Jesus’ silence cuts both ways; if he said nothing particularly memorable about the commandment in Leviticus, it means that he neither rejected nor modified it.

2) You are not being persecuted when prevented from persecuting others.

Persecution is “a program or campaign to subjugate or eliminate a specific group of people, often based on race, religion, sexuality, or social beliefs”. To persecute is “to pursue in a manner to injure, grieve, or afflict; to beset with cruelty or malignity; to harass; especially, to afflict, harass, punish, or put to death for one’s race, sexual identity, adherence to a particular religious creed, or mode of worship.” Persecution is persecution; persecutors always believe they have some noble social goal which justifies their repressive legislation and litigation. So long as you use the courts to force Christians to play along, you're engaging in persecution; you can call it "counter-persecution", if that eases your over-burdened conscience.

3) Truth isn’t like wine that gets better with age. It’s more like manna you must recognize wherever you are and whoever you’re with.

Which means … nothing, really, unless Rigby is trying oh so gently to argue that anything old must be false, which is nothing more than “chronological snobbery”.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Catholic Stand: Laughing at the demons

This year for Halloween snacks, Mom bought a box of 18 packages of bat- and pumpkin-shaped pretzels. If this year follows the pattern of the last five, we’ll have twelve of those bags left Friday morning. Three will have gone to neighborhood urchins, and the other three will have gone to my grandniece and grandnephews.

For one thing, we live in a cul-de-sac near the only entrance to the neighborhood; most of the houses are further up and away. For another, we live near a mall — certainly not so grand a consumerist paradise as Mall of America, but they do sabotage the spirit of Halloween fairly effectively by handing out candy and treats there. Madison Avenue has done more than four hundred years of Puritans and one hundred fifty years of skeptics to ruin Catholic festivals … simply by marketing them.

No, I’m not going to any parties. Many years ago, while resting my head on the cool porcelain of a toilet between violent bouts of vomiting, I concluded that getting drunk wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. And the adults at some of the parties I’ve been to are like the people who show up at medieval fairs dressed as characters from fantasy novels; they’ve forced me to conclude that some people just don’t “get” Halloween.

(By “fantasy” I mean they show up as either elves or dominatrices. At one major fair in Waxahachie, I saw a woman who was wearing leather “Daisy Dukes” with a sword strapped around her hips and a chain-mail top with not so much as a Brazilian bikini top underneath it. I’m guessing her research stopped around Season Three of Xena: Warrior Princess.)

So okay, if you show up at the party dressed as Yakko the Clown, I get it — clowns scare many adults. C+ for the effort, regardless of the execution. But where’s the memento mori in dressing like a French maid or Superman? To get closer to the feel of what Halloween is supposed to be about, you’re better off going someplace where El Día de los Muertos, the “Day of the Dead”, is still celebrated.
Read more at Catholic Stand!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A mortal, sinful man

On July 16, 2011, during the funeral rites of Dr. Otto von Habsburg, the last heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, a curious ceremony took place for what will almost certainly be the last time.

Following the requiem Mass at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, his coffin was carted through the Innere Stadt, the historic old town, to the door of the Capuchin Church of Saint Mary of the Angels. There Ulrich-Walter Lipp, a family friend, used a staff to knock on the door three times.

Just inside the door was the custodian of the Imperial Crypt, Father Gottfried Undesser. “Who desires to enter?”

Lipp, taking on the role of a herald, then began to read Otto of Austria’s numerous titles. Former Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary. Royal Prince of Hungary and Bohemia, of Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Galicia, Lodomeria and Illyria. Grand Duke of Tuscany and Cracow, Duke of Lorraine, of Salzburg, Steyr, Carinthia, Carniola and Bukovina. Und so weiter.

Replied Fr. Gottfried, “We don’t know him!”

Lipp knocked three times again, and with Fr. Gottfried’s query, began to read Dr. von Habsburg’s many secular titles and awards. President and Honorary President of the Pan-European Union. Senior member of the European Parliament. Honorary doctorates from numerous universities; honorary citizen of many communities in Central Europe; member of honorable academies and institutes. And so on.

Again the denial: “We don’t know him!”

Lipp knocked again. This time, in response to Fr. Gottfried’s question, he announced “Otto – ein sterblicher, sündiger Mensch (a mortal, sinful man).” To which Fr. Gottfried replied, opening the doors, “So may he come in.”

Read the rest at Catholic Stand!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

To our friends at NARAL

... and to every other gullible simpleton who honestly thought Pope Francis' interview in America signaled a leftward shift in Church doctrine (that means you, William Saletan):

The moral of our story is just this: Even liberals shouldn't believe the liberal media.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Ask Tony: Did the Pope just teach that atheists can go to heaven?—UPDATED

The short answer is "No". Not "not really"; not "not in so many words". Just "no".

In just a few months, a pattern has been set such that the ineffable Fr. John Zuhlsdorf could start a companion blog named "What Did the Pope Really Say?" and not run out of material for awhile. It seems that now a month can't go by without Papa Bergoglio saying something the Vatican has to explain or walk back. The mainstream press has cast the "progressive pope" filter in concrete, and will continue to run his impromptu remarks through it until he dies or relinquishes the Chair of Peter.

It doesn't help that Papa's words sometimes take three or four readings to get clear ... especially if you have to rely on Zenit's English translation, which is only marginally better than Babelfish. When he was elected, Marcelo González of Panorama Católico Internacional sneered, "Famous for his inconsistency (at times, for the unintelligibility of his addresses and homilies), accustomed to the use of coarse, demagogical, and ambiguous expressions, it cannot be said that his magisterium is heterodox, but rather non-existent for how confusing it is." His unique, populist style sometimes gets in the way of his clarity of expression.

Maybe he should get his new head of the CDF, Abp. Gerhard Müller, to proofread these things. Or, there's supposed to be a rather eminent and well-respected theology professor living in retirement at the Vatican ....

Let's start with the context. Eugenio Scalfari, editor of La Repubblica and a non-believer, published three questions for the Pope, to which Francis responded in an open letter. After setting some initial ground work, Francis wrote:

It seems to me that, in the first two, what is in your heart is to understand the attitude of the Church to those who don’t share faith in Jesus. First of all, you ask me if the God of Christians forgives one who doesn’t believe and doesn’t seek the faith. Premise that — and it’s the fundamental thing — the mercy of God has no limits if one turns to him with a sincere and contrite heart; the question for one who doesn’t believe in God lies in obeying one’s conscience [bold font mine.—TL]. Sin, also for those who don’t have faith, exists when one goes against one’s conscience. To listen to and to obey it means, in fact, to decide in face of what is perceived as good or evil. And on this decision pivots the goodness or malice of our action.

The context here is not about atheism specifically, but rather about non-Christians in general. In fact, the question is closely tied with another Scalfari asked about Jews. Moreover, the question was about forgiveness, not heaven, though the two concepts are tied together. However, these distinctions were lost on the press, who proceeded to announce that Pope Francis had opened heaven to atheists, causing orthodox facepalming and Evangelical howling (as exemplified by the noted prophet and theologian Kirk Cameron, who got it wrong, too).

Friday, September 6, 2013

Catholic Stand: Tradition vs. traditionalism

The Communion song this last Sunday at the 11:30 a.m. Mass was “The Servant Song”. One might say it’s one of those Gather Hymnal songs that traditionalists point to whenever they compare the richness of the traditional Latin Mass to the relative poverty of the Novus Ordo Mass that’s been with us the last forty-odd years.

Okay, “The Servant Song” as it’s sung now is truly dreadful: with quarter notes stomping the diatonic scale on the beats, it plods along like a man flat-footing it up a sidewalk. However, I have a faint quasi-memory that at one time the melody was much more syncopated … light, sweet and inoffensive, though still too much “all about me/us” to be appropriate for worship.

So I’m a child of the 1970s. The Gather Hymnal is what I grew up with. Occasionally, though, the chorus will sing an older song, like “Lift High the Cross”, and something in me lifts up with it. And Mozart’s Requiem, though not his best work, still beats out anything by Marty Haugan.

De gustibus non est disputandum: there are times when I can really appreciate the traditionalist perspective on liturgy, especially when it comes to my first love, music. The cultural heritage of the Church is one of great aesthetic richness and beauty; when done well, the Tridentine Mass is a glorious concentrate of everything the Latin Church did right for centuries.

The great danger in traditionalism, however, is the tendency to conflate liturgical and devotional traditions with the apostolic tradition. Doctor Taylor Marshall speaks of “the [radical traditionalist] belief that Latin Mass Catholics are ‘A Team’ and Novus Ordo Catholics are ‘B Team’”, but that’s actually a bit mild: the further you move to the right, the more you run across the sentiment that Novus Ordo Catholics, or “neo-Catholics”, aren’t really Catholic at all — we’re crypto-Protestants with an idiosyncratic fondness for the pope.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Impractical Catholic goes on the air!—UPDATED

If you're going to be in the Louisville, Kentucky area this Thursday (9/5/13), flip your car radio to WLCR AM 1040 at 4:00 pm ET for "The Mike Janocik Show". If not, click this link to get their live feed or mobile app. Your Humble Blogger will be a guest on the show about 4:30, talking with Mike about Joseph Bottum, Dr. John Zmirak and Catholic opposition to same-sex marriage. Of course, you'll have the opportunity to call in and cuss me out (though if you do use profanity, your window of opportunity will most likely be foreshortened ... this is Catholic radio, after all). And don't be surprised if I sound like I have a permanent cold.

Ah, AM Radio. Play it, boys!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Irish whiskey steak!

One of the benefits of living just north of the 33rd parallel is year-round grilling. Theoretically you can grill year-round just about anywhere in the lower 48; in practice further north than here, especially in the Midwest and the Rocky Mountain states, Labor Day tends to see the end of the grilling season ... except for tailgate parties.

I love to grill. I'm actually a pretty good cook, though I don't think Bobby Flay is gonna challenge me to a throw-down anytime soon. (I'm still waiting on the Iron Chef battle between him and the Swedish Chef.) And I kinda-sorta follow Fr. Leo Patalinghug; I hope someday we can swap recipes for chicken adobo. So there's your Catholic connection — I do believe in the power of home cooking to bring families and friends together, to reinforce "the domestic church".

Um ... where was I? Oh yeah! Grilling! 

Because I grill pretty often, I use a lot of different marinades. In a couple of restaurants, I've come across variants of steaks marinated in a Jack Daniel's base. I've got no problems with bourbon or Tennessee sippin' whiskey, but it's not my first drink of choice. And Scotch is a horrible, blasphemous corruption. They tell me, "It's an acquired taste," which is shorthand for "It's nasty, but you get used to it." You can get used to hanging by your thumbs, too ... but why would you want to?

So, Irish whiskey it is.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

RNS puts a new twist on the "liberal Pope" trope — UPDATED

From Religion News Service ... of course:

Pope Francis is unsettling – and dividing – the Catholic right

 David Gibson

(RNS) For more than three decades, the Vatican of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI operated on a version of the conservative maxim, “No enemies to the right.”
While left-wing theologians were silenced and liberal-to-moderate bishops were shunted aside in favor of hard-liners [Oh, what a give-away!], liturgical traditionalists and cultural conservatives were diligently courted and given direct access to the apostolic palace.
But in a few short months, Pope Francis has upended that dynamic, alienating many on the Catholic right by refusing to play favorites and ignoring their preferred agenda items even as he stressed the kind of social justice issues that are near and dear to progressives. [To be fair, commentariat liberals aren't the only ones who conflate political conservativism with doctrinal orthodoxy and liturgical traditionalism.]
“I’ve personally found many aspects of this papacy to be annoying, and struggled against that feeling from the beginning. I’m hardly alone in this,” Jeffrey Tucker, editor of the New Liturgical Movement blog, wrote as Francis basked in the glow of media coverage of his recent trip to Brazil. [The name of Tucker's post? "The Tedious Press Narrative of Pope Francis". That, my friends, is irony; it's as if Gibson were blindly determined to illustrate Tucker's point.]
“Every day and in every way we are being told how glorious it is that the bad old days are gone and the new good days are here,” he lamented.
Tucker and other traditionalists who are dedicated to high church rituals have been especially miffed at Francis’ simple — they might say simplistic [then again, they might not] — style since the moment the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was introduced to the world as the new pope back in March.
“How can I love a Pope who doesn’t even want to be Pope?” Katrina Fernandez, a popular conservative blogger, wrote in a column about her disillusionment. [Kat commented, "I'm a little flattered the author referred to me a popular blogger. Puzzled at the label 'conservative'. And annoyed that my one flipping post is being used to paint me as a pope hater."]

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Katy Perry's chest can't stay out of trouble

What does a writer do when s/he doesn't have the talent to write for People but is too proud to work for the National Enquirer? The answer is obvious: S/He goes to work for the New York Post. The Post is a wanna-be British tabloid — lots of celebrities, lots of sex, lots of celebrity sex, lots of rumors denied in order to get them started.

I didn't know there was a rumor that Katy Perry was dating Robert Pattinson. I didn't know that the aforementioned Pattison had broken up with Kristen Stewart. I didn't know that Pattinson and Stewart were dating in the first place.

Yes, I do know who they are. At least, I know who Perry and Pattinson are. You get the feeling my mind's been elsewhere other than on the romantic entanglements of the young and over-publicized?

So Perry told Elle UK, "I sent [Stewart] a text message saying: 'I know you've seen all this stuff but you know I would never disrespect you. I'm not that person. I'm just trying to be a friend to him but it is unfortunate that I do have a set of tits.'" Of course. Even if Perry were a more modest person who didn't leverage her cleavage for the sake of her career, she knows that entertainers aren't allowed to have opposite-sex friendships — unless they're "friendships with benefits".

Katy Perry blames Robert Pattinson romance rumors on her breasts

(facepalm) Oy-oy-oy.

Anybody remember when boob meant "moron"? I don't know what's worse — that an editor would risk looking like an idiot to print an attention-grabbing headline, or that the headline does grab attention, or that it grabbed my attention enough to provoke me into writing about it.

Vanity of vanities ....

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Summer fashion nonsense

Just a couple of things I noticed just this last week:

I get ads from; about the only advantage to getting these ads is not having to scour the DFW metroplex for 10½ EEE shoes, which I promise you are harder to find than a restroom along I-25 in New Mexico. The picture on the left came in with their most recent mailing.

Forget that the model doesn't look that much like Jackie O (shouldn't we be over her by now?). Note the word I underlined: "Physician endorsed"? 

Okay, I can understand doctor recommendations for footwear, because I've seen women wear shoes that must be a podiatrist's nightmare — unless you're a ballerina, there's no earthly reason your foot should be nearly perpendicular to the ground for longer than it takes to grab something out of the cupboard. But Global Glamour Fashions sells "accessories", and I don't understand why a belt or a pair of gloves should require a doctor's sign-off. Are we gonna need prescriptions for jewelry next? Let me put it another way: where's the value-add?

Saturday, July 6, 2013

It's official! ... Well, almost ...

Soon-to-be Ss. John XXIII and John Paul II.
Yesterday at the Vatican, Fr. Federico Lombardi, reading from a prepared statement, announced that Pope Francis has signed and promulgated a decree approving a second miracle attributed to Bl. John Paul II. At the same time, he has also approved a vote by the Congregation for the Cause of Saints to raise Bl. John XXIII to the altars of sainthood without need of a second miracle.

Francis has also called for a consistory of the College of Cardinals to discuss further the canonization of JP2. This step isn't strictly necessary for his canonization to take place; my guess is that it's a last check to insure that he isn't declared santo too subito. As for the waiver of the second miracle in J23's case, Fr. Lombardi explained that it is "the Pope’s will that the Sainthood of the great Pope of the Second Vatican Council be recognized". There is some theological discussion over whether two miracles are really a necessary bar to hurdle; in any event, the Pope is free to set aside the rule.

No date has been set yet for the consistory, which will set the dates for the canonization ceremonies; Fr. Lombardi did not rule out a dual ceremony, and expressed confidence that both would take place by the end of the year. At the same time, the decree approves miracles by two other venerable servants, Alvaro del Portillo y Diez de Sollano and Maria Giuseppa Alhama Valera (Speranza di Gesu), recognition of four Spanish martyrs and the heroic virtue of five other candidates.

Frankly, canonizing both popes at the same time would be a brilliant step, emphasizing the hermeneutic of continuity without nailing it to anyone's forehead. I look forward to it, and I shall keep you informed.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The aftermath of Gettysburg

Robert E. Lee
(Source: Wikimedia Commons)
The Gettysburg campaign was the last significant invasion of the North. About a week after the battle ended, CS Brig. Gen. John Hunt Morgan led a cavalry raid into Indiana and Ohio to disrupt the flow of supplies to the Army of the Cumberland; beyond some bridge and railroad damage, and tying up some cavalry in chasing him, his most significant accomplishment was to get captured.

Surrender may be the logical end of defensive warfare, but it isn’t the inevitable or necessary end, as had been shown by the Romans in the Second Punic War, the Americans during the Revolution and the Communists in Vietnam. As long as Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia stayed in Virginia, they had the blessing of interior lines and intimate knowledge of the terrain, as well as friendly hosts. From that perspective, the invasion of the North wasn’t really necessary.

As well, materiel had always been the Confederates’ biggest problem. Half the size of its foe, the Army of Northern Virginia still found it necessary to augment what weapons and ammunition Richmond could send them with whatever they could capture from the Yankees. While in Pennsylvania, the ANV could live off the land. But the orchards didn’t grow bullets, and the wheat fields provided no powder. The further Lee led his army into Pennsylvania, the further his supply line was stretched and the more vulnerable it became. Eighty-one years later, Field Marshal Sir Bernard L. Montgomery would lead British and American forces on a similar push into Holland (Operation Market-Garden), which failed its objective with severe consequences for the Allied advance.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Gettysburg — Day Three

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
—Proverbs 16:18

The sun rose on 3 July 1863 to show the Army of the Potomac still occupying the high ground southeast of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Gettysburg, 3 July 1863
(Source: Wikimedia Commons)
To many in the Army of Northern Virginia, this likely came as a surprise. CS General Robert E. Lee’s Confederates had been dominating the bluecoats since the afternoon of the first day, when they pushed the Federals south through the town. And the day before, they had definitely given the Yankees a bloody nose when they’d pushed it too far away from the high ground. By now, the previous commander, Joseph Hooker, would have retreated. So would have Irvin McDowell, or Ambrose Burnside. Heck, George B. McClellan would have boasted of the success of his brilliant retrograde movement in the face of “overwhelming force”!

But those men wouldn’t have been in the upper ranks. Leaders like Lee and his “old warhorse”, Lt. Gen. James “Pete” Longstreet, knew that they’d accomplished little besides shoving a salient in the Union left back to where they would be strongest, the tactical crest of Cemetery Hill. The bloody nose had hurt the Confederates as much, if not more, given their numerical inferiority. The Union commander, Maj. Gen. George G. Meade, didn’t have to leave his position: as long as his lines of communication were secure and his men held the most advantageous position, they could wait the rebels out.

Now would have been a good time to disengage, swing around to the south, cut the Union supply line and force Meade to give chase again. But for some reason — to the end of his life, he never explained why — Lee simply could not let go of the battle. Perhaps, as novelist Michael Shaara said in his novel The Killer Angels, he thought his men would never understand why they turned their backs and left an undefeated enemy in possession of the ground; however, they had done so once before, at Antietam a year before. I think it’s more likely that Lee, a Virginia aristocrat who was the son of a Revolutionary War hero and related to George Washington by marriage, was impatient for the battle and the war to end, and rationalized that a thumping defeat of the Army of the Potomac so far into the North would precipitate that end.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Gettysburg — Day Two

The sun rose on 2 July 1863 with the Army of the Potomac on the high ground south and east of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. A good stroke of fortune had allowed Union commanders to find this ground before the conflict began, and the bulk of the previous day’s fight had been devoted to holding off the Army of Northern Virginia until the bulk of their forces could arrive.

Now US Maj. Gen. George G. Meade’s forces formed a fishhook-shaped line starting at Spangler’s Spring and Culp’s Hill to the southeast, running north to the northernmost point of Cemetery Ridge, then falling back south along the line of the ridge to fetch up against Little Round Top. This gave Meade the advantage not only of visibility and artillery range but also of interior lines, which allowed him to move units and materiel to reinforce any part of his line without exposing the reinforcements to enemy fire. By contrast, while the Confederates could move units out of the Federals’ range, the length of their lines, which roughly paralleled the Federals’, meant reinforcement could be a slow, time-consuming business.

Most of the morning was consumed in consolidating the lines, as the bulk of both armies arrived on the field. On the positive, from Lee’s side, was the arrival of Lt. Gen. James “Pete” Longstreet and his First Corps. Moody, taciturn and profane, Longstreet was a competent, occasionally brilliant, tactician who became Lee’s right hand after the death of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. However, his corps was missing Maj. Gen. George Pickett’s division, which would not arrive until after the day’s action. Even more disturbing was the absence of Maj. Gen. Jeb Stuart’s cavalry; without their eyes, Lee’s knowledge of the Union dispositions was imprecise. Stuart finally arrived around noon, but played no part in the day’s action.

Believing the Federal left to lie along Emmetsburg Road, Lee ordered Longstreet’s corps to flank them en echelon, a maneuver in which succeeding units attack in intervals to prevent the enemy from shifting reinforcements. Longstreet disagreed; an advocate of defensive warfare, he argued that Lee should swing the ANV to Meade’s south, cut the Federals’ lines and force them to fight on grounds of Lee’s own choosing. But Lee was determined to fight and defeat Meade where they were; Longstreet, a career soldier who had served with distinction in Mexico, eventually accepted his orders.

Lee had left the timing of the attack to Longstreet’s discretion, which was just as well; as the First Corps was moving into place, they stumbled upon a Union signal station in their path which could have blown the plan open. Nor could the soldiers simply about-face and march to the rear; to preserve the order of attack, the line had to double back on itself. Not until late afternoon, between 4 and 5 p.m., were the two divisions in place to attack.