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Saturday, September 7

A YEAR LATER -LEST WE FORGET: Our parish is hosting a prayer service on September 11. All leave for police and emergency workers in Baltimore has been cancelled. I spoke to a friend who was at the World Trade Center during the attack, and saw the planes fly by. He didnÍt plan to do anything. His firm planned no memorial; it was an international company, and many of its employees didnÍt see why they had to think about AmericaÍs experiences. The memorial services seem to assume that the attacks and war are over. This is a big assumption.

For the past year everyone has used the attacks to call attention to ñroot causesî: third world poverty, moral corruption, support of Israel, SUVs, whatever. Edward Rothstein in the NYT analyzes our prospects:

But this notion, which has often been selectively applied to serve political purposes, fails to account for the lure of fundamentalist ideology or for the resentment of modernity that permeates Islamic terror. And poverty, the accumulating evidence suggests, far from causing terrorism, barely even correlates with it. So the empathetic invocations of "root causes" „ a reflexive part of post-9/11 rhetoric „ have become far more rare, particularly as it has become clear just what sorts of societies and values are championed by terrorism's practitioners.

The enemy, after all, is not the narrowly defined Qaeda, but a wellspring of Islamic terrorist organizations, sponsored and embraced and sometimes feared by numerous states in the Arab world, many possessing networks in both Europe and the United States.
The battle against these organizations is dangerous and precarious. American society, the apotheosis of Western liberalism, is by definition an opponent of fundamentalist and totalitarian terror. But it is also a society reluctant to grasp the nature of the beast. It is most devoted to procedure and reason, to tolerance and egalitarianism, hoping to find similar values even in its enemies, despite the ever-mounting evidence.

Our enemies are irreconcilable. They hatred began when they saw the American society of the 1950s ¿ barely involved with Israel or the Arab world, free but with a strong devotion to family and at least a veneer of Christianity.

Beginning with the American Resolution, Americans have been skeptical of government, a skepticism that was strongly enforced by the debacle of the Vietnam War.

Adding to the tensions, this war demands that American citizens trust authorities even though all their impulses have been trained to distrust authorities. And while waging war requires a belief that you are just, these same critical impulses have tended to encourage skepticism of that justice.

We must have confidence in our cause to wage a war that means killing many people and experiencing massive attacks on our civilian population. Yet the self-scrutiny that we engage in and which is
one of our strengths makes it difficult to achieve this confidence.

The United States is seeking to transform closed and tyrannical societies into open, democratic societies, because the closed societies overtly or covertly support terrorism.

This form of nation building once had another name: imperialism. The word still jangles with jingoistic echoes. And American neo-imperialism may yet turn tragic with frustrations, as Kipling long ago
predicted in his misunderstood paean to "the White Man's burden."

Yet this idea is bound to change character. After all, instead of exploitation, imperialism is now being associated with democratic reform, sometimes to the great satisfaction of its subjects. Maybe even 19th-century imperialism will be reinterpreted and invoked by example since many non-Western nations developed democratic institutions solely because of imperialist influence. Imperialism's exploitation often had a virtuous flip side; perhaps there is a way, despite Kipling's skepticism, to separate the two?

Even if the United States succeeds in its new imperialism, it will bring upon itself the hatred of the forces it is defeating, and the animosity of all those who dislike being ordered around.

The exercise of this kind of power and influence in this war though, will require not single acts but continuous and continuing decisions, active involvement in the destiny of nations. The United States already possesses political, cultural, economic and military power on a scale unknown in the history of humankind. What will happen if this war is waged successfully and such power grows? America will inspire unjustified hatreds and justified enmity, gratitude and allegiance, disgust and envy; it will need to use the power unilaterally but will also need to forge alliances and defer its use; it will demand obligations but also incur them.

And so will begin the American Empire.

But will democratic societies be able stop terrorism? The September attacks were planned in Germany. All European societies have sizeable and growing Moslem minorities. Can states reconcile anti-terrorist campaigns and democracy? Terrorism is like guerilla warfare; the terrorist move like fish in the ocean of civilians who give them some support or at least cover.
Even if the United States transforms the political structures of the Arab world, even its military might intimates the rest of the world into cooperation, how would explicit imperialism on a worldwide scale transform the American character?

Switzerland is my ideal of a democratic society, which minds itÍs own affairs and doesnÍt get involved with the affairs of its neighbors. But political types, left and right, like democratic centralism, because operating the levers of power in a large, national state increases the importance of political types. The government of a Swiss canton does not inspire fear, envy, or awe; the government of China or the United States does because of the size of the nations these governments control, the resources they can marshal to impose their will. Perhaps the new Empire will be benevolent; perhaps it will last as long as Rome, perhaps it will not succumb to hubris, at least during our life time. But KiplingÍs voice, Imperialist as he was, should still be heard:

God of our fathers, known of old--
Lord of our far-flung battle line
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine--
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget - lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies;
The captains and the kings depart:
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget - lest we forget!

Far-called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget - lest we forget!

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe--
Such boasting as the Gentiles use
Or lesser breeds without the law--
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget - lest we forget!

For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard--
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding, calls not Thee to guard--
For frantic boast and foolish word,
Thy mercy on Thy people, Lord!

8:04 AM

Thursday, September 5

From my reading earlier this morning:
"Somewhere, moreover, the metaphysicians of publiclity have absorbed the idea that the goal of life is happiness through comfort. It is a state of complacency supposed to ensue when the physical appetites have been well satisfied. Advertising fosters the concept, social democracy approves it, and the acceptance is so wide that it is virtually impossible today, except from the religious rostrum, to teach that life means discipline and sacrifice." (Richard M. Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences, 1948)
If Weaver were alive today and writing, he would have to delete "except from the religious rostrum" from the last line. It is not a given that your average church will have anything worthwhile to say about discipline and sacrifice, now more than 50 years later. You will hear more about self-fulfillment and self-esteem. Weaver wrote that his book was about the dissolution of the West. Religious rostrums, it seems, have joined in helping the process of decay. So much for being a city on a hill.

9:49 AM

WINDS OF WAR: This article from the (London) Times on Line offers the latest glimpse into the near-inexhaustible fecklessness of our religious leaders' thinking about matters of war, peace, economics, and the like. I particularly like the gospel-man who defines "wickedness" as something going against the UN Charter. Who needs the mind of Christ, when you have the UN and the Arab "street" to tell you what to do? and has it occurred to Eamon Duffy that "our desire to share the freedoms and prosperities we enjoy with the worldÍs poorî might not be incompatible with the replacement of a murderous regime that offers its people hope of neither? I don't deny for a moment that the issues being raised are very important and serious ones. The need for this war is far from obvious to all, and that the discussion now going on needs to take place. It would be nice if religious leaders had something to contribute to it, other than mouthing stale, second-rate secularist platitudes, dressed upon in flowing robes. I'd rather hear from someone who actually knows something. Even the posturings of politicians seem much more responsible than this ranting.

Church leaders speak against 'wicked' war
by Ruth Gledhill and Phillip Webster

BRITAINÍS two most senior churchmen have launched separate impassioned initiatives aimed at preventing war against Iraq.

In an article in The Times today the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-OÍConnor, writes that a war would have grave consequences, possibly setting the Arab world against the West. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, has also raised his concerns in a private letter to the Prime Minister.

Their interventions are the latest in a number by bishops opposed to action against Iraq „ and their comments are increasingly irritating the Government and its advisers. One official said that remarks from some senior clerics suggested they regarded Saddam Hussein as liberal-minded.

Tony Blair himself has been careful to refrain from comment on the criticism other than to say: ñYou have to decide what the greatest risk is and what the morally right thing to do is." The Prime Minister has promised to publish evidence to support his conviction that Iraq poses a grave and imminent threat. However, Cardinal Murphy-OÍConnor writes that unless the evidence is both persuasive and incontrovertible, concerns in this country and abroad are unlikely to be allayed.

Even with such evidence, important questions remained to be addressed, including the effect on international law and how well it would be respected in future if military action were not endorsed by the UN.

The Cardinal received swift backing from Catholic bishops and theologians both here and abroad. The Right Rev Thomas McMahon, one of four Catholic bishops who signed a Pax Christi petition handed to Mr Blair last month, said a strike against Iraq would be ñwicked and foolhardyî.

Bishop McMahon said: ñIt would be wicked in the sense that it goes against Article 2 of the UN Charter. No matter how evil IraqÍs armaments are, unless and until the Iraqi Government itself launches an attack it is wrong for us to do so.î

Dr Eamon Duffy, Fellow and President of Magdalen College, Oxford, and president of the Catholic Theological Association, urged Mr Blair and President Bush to take heed of the CardinalÍs comments, which he described as a shrewd counsel of prudence and an urgent call to morality.

ñIf the democratic West is to retain moral credibility and if we are to avoid a murderous confrontation with an Islamic world radicalised by poverty and resentment of Western imperialism, then we have to move beyond defending our interests and punishing our enemies. We need to demonstrate our desire to share the freedoms and prosperities we enjoy with the worldÍs poor.î

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit, said Cardinal Murphy-OÍConnor did not go far enough in questioning the validity of a pre-emptive strike. He said going to war had to be a response to an attack. To strike first would be an unjustifiable act of terrorism and must be condemned outright.

But the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, said that military action against Iraq would be legitimate if there was persuasive evidence that Saddam Hussein was dedveloping weapons of mass destruction.

8:30 AM

Wednesday, September 4

CLERICAL CAREERS: Careerism is a blot on the Catholic Church. Too many priests look forward not to serving the people of God, but to a series of advancements: monsignor, auxiliary bishop, bishop of small see, bishop of large see, cardinal, Vatican.

The Vatican uses the carrot approach to encourage priests to toe the line, but it leads to a careerism that Cardinal Arinze himself has criticized (although he seems to have followed it). A bishop should normally remain in his see for life; if he is transferred, if should be to a poorer or more troubled diocese

The transfer of Bishop Sean OÍMalley from Fall River to Palm Beach (which has had two pedophile bishops) is the model of a transfer. OÍMalley has the reputation of being both saintly and competent (not necessarily the same thing). He was transferred to Fall River to clean up the terrible mess that the James Porter pedophile case left. The Globe reports:

Under O'Malley's system, abuse victims are referred to a social worker unaffiliated with the church. The social worker has a group of mental health and legal professionals that sits as a review board to decide what kind of action could be taken against the priest and what kinds of services are needed to help the victim.
In 1995, the Diocese of Fall River said, O'Malley made it mandatory that any priest, seminarian, employee or volunteer whose position involved access to children take part in an abuse prevention workshop, complete a detailed questionnaire about his or her past, and agree to a criminal records check. More than 17,000 employees and volunteers have met those requirements, the diocese said.
In the Porter cases, the diocese paid for therapy, medication and residential treatment for the victims.
"Bishop O'Malley was incredibly empathetic to the victims. He was not only empathetic, but he listened to the victims," said Roderick MacLeish, a lawyer who represented victims in civil lawsuits filed in the Porter case.

When the lawyers for the plaintiffs praise a bishop, one can be sure he is a good and effective bishop. Bishops have consistently refused to meet with victims to listen to their agony. Perhaps the lawyers are behind this refusal; but bishops have to answer to One greater than any lawyer for their responsibility as shepherds of souls. We are blessed to have some bishops like OÍMalley, who will one day hear these words we all hope we may hear:î ñWell done, good and faithful servantƒ.î

8:00 AM

Tuesday, September 3

I'm posting the following for S. M. Hutchens:

ON WAR POWERS: The necessity for awarding quasi-dictatorial powers to the president of the United States becomes more acute as the nation becomes more "democratic," that is, as powers that must be highly ordered and concentrated, in particular the extraordinary executive powers necessary to wage war, are endangered by becoming subject to dispersal and challenge among competing factions, all of which have some power and influence.

The legislative aristocracy has access to enough information to conclude a war must be fought, and understands that if harm comes to the constituency because of its inaction it will be blamed, but does not wish to take responsibility for the fighting until it is sure it will become a popular cause that will return its members to office and assure their continued power.

The conclusion: it devolves upon the executive to initiate and conduct the war, subject to criticism from both the congress and the electorate if it does not, or if the war goes poorly, but in order to do the work that must be done it is given immediate protection from hostile factions in the congress and among the enfranchised rabble by something like a war powers act, a form of martial law.

We are dealing with a set of what appear to me virtual inevitabilities in a country that has in fact been reformed into the democracy its founders, having read their Thucydides, wished to avoid. Like all democracies, it ripens for the tyrant, the man who will do, without hesitation or apology, what he considers necessary to make the trains run on time, adumbrated in a small way by what we see happening in Washington now.

This all reminds me that Christians are au fond monarchists, and that the modern Western democracies are, as Churchill observed, the best available bad governments. All human governments being of limited duration, each takes its rise and fall moving from its strength to its weakness, as do we all. War powers acts, while essentially repugnant to the Constitution, are an inevitable expression of its weakness. They are the political analog of the pills old men take to function at what used to be normal capacity.

7:45 AM

AU REVOIR, COLLEGIENS: An article in Montr³alÍs La Presse, L'universit³ au feminine by Andr³ NoÔl calls into question the analysis in The Washington Post about why there are fewer men than women in America universities. Francophone Qu³bec does not have the social and racial divisions of America, but it nevertheless has a similar problem: men donÍt go to college.

Quebec has a system of two year schools that have technical programs and also prepare for the university: the c³geps. This year 57.5 % of the new students were women, only 42.5 men. Of the women, 75% complete the course successfully, and only 60% of the already fewer men. Women dominate both the technical fields and the pre-university studies.

Consequently, the proportion of women entering Laval has increased steadily: 1991 ¿ 57%. 1996 ¿ 60%, 2002 ¿ 63%.

At the University of Montreal, there are twice as many female candidates as male candidates authorized to enroll, that is, 8800 girls as opposed to 4400 boys. The proportion of girls reaches 80% in the first year of medicine. The girls also dominate the biological sciences as well as faculties as diverse as law, dentistry, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, and of course nursing and education.

Why are boys absent from colleges?

At age sixteen, a lot of them drop out and get a little job. They can buy a car and make enough money to have the impression that life is good. Later they discover that it is not easy to plan your life without a diploma.

Why donÍt boys like school? M. Hrimech of the University of Montr³al blames three things:

La s³dentarit³. - The lack of activity. ñBoys have a need to wiggle. They have to express themselves through physical activity. Before, they used to play outside. Today, they play in front of the television screen, the computer, Nintendo. The time given over to physical education has diminished. Result: The boys canÍt sit still in school. They have trouble concentrating. They do not compete well with girls, who have the tendency to express themselves through communication. ñIt is necessary to have more physical education and more recreation in the primary schools. Class time should be shortened.î

La monoparentalit³ ¿ single parent families ñSingle parent families, which are more and more numerous, are headed by women, M. Hrimech emphasized. The girls identify with their mothers. But with whom do the boys identify? It is necessary to create new models for boys, in the schools, as well as in the movies and the media. Models of men who love to study and for whom communication is important.î

La mixit³. ¿ coeducation. Here we are on slippery ground, but like many experts. Hrimech questions it. ñSchool is a feminine milieu, with most of the teachers women, and with small girls who succeed better than boys. These feel themselves perhaps less judged if they go to a boys school. Otherwise, it is if you were measuring a group of runners who do a hundred yards in 10 seconds, and others who do it in 30ƒî

If boys continue to avoid college,

The Quebec of tomorrow will be composed of thousands of well-paid professional women and thousands of under-educated men vegetating in petty, precarious jobs,

And the result of that will be a big change in marriage customs:

Up to the present, one sees (male) doctors marrying (female) nurses, but the reverse remains rare. ñWill well-educated women want partners who do not have their level of education or their social level?î Mohamed Hrimech asks.

Thus we arrive at the ultimate and most important result of boysÍ failure to advance in school: avec de beaux casse-t°te amoureux en perspective. ¿ weÍre facing a lot of heart-break.

Very French, and very true. Marriage and family are the foundation of any sound society. Qu³bec already has a very low marriage rate and a birthrate among Francophones less than half the replacement rate. Each generation of Francophones is only half the size of the preceding generation. French Canada may vanish, as its shrinking numbers succumb to the Anglophone sea of North America.

The models the boys need once not only were present in Qu³bec but dominated it: the cur³s, men who were dedicated to learning, preaching, and teaching. Like so much else they vanished in the Quiet Revolution.

5:06 AM

Monday, September 2

GOODBYE POOR MEN: Men are not going to college at the same rate of women. More precisely, poor and black men are not going to college, unlike poor and black women. In the Washington Post Laura Sepp discovers Gender Warriors Fight the Wrong Battle.

She claims that men are not being shut out of higher education:

The proportion of young men enrolled in two- or four-year colleges immediately after high school has gradually risen since 1980 to about 60 percent, and the proportion of young men who received a bachelor's degree has hovered at about 25 percent.
Over this same period, young women have entered college in higher proportions. Twenty years ago, about 50 percent of them entered college; today's figure is slightly less than 70 percent. Four-year degree-holders have increased from 21 percent of young women to 29 percent.
So it's not that fewer boys are going to college; it's that more girls are. If education is simply one pie, then boys are getting a smaller share. But they aren't being shut out. Universities and colleges have expanded the number of students they admit, so we're talking about more opportunities for everybody.

However, note that 60% of young men are in college, and 70% of women. That is a significant difference. Sepp admits that:

One male subgroup, however, does deserve closer attention, and amid all the hype, it isn't getting enough of it: men from lower-income families.

Boys from poor families, black, white, Latino, , and boys from black middle class families do not much care for college; in fact boys in general do not like school:

high school senior boys of all races and ethnic groups report they spend most of their time outside of school exercising, watching television and playing video games. Girls are more likely to say they do homework or take part in extracurricular activities. One unfortunate result is this: Federally funded organizations that give out higher education grants to needy students say two-thirds of their clients are female. No matter what they do, the young men just don't show up.

There are theories to explain the lack of interest in school and the lack of attendance at college:

Christina Hoff Sommers, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, argues that curricula and teaching styles have changed to better fit the way girls learn. Strategies to capture boys' imagination and energy, such as competitive games and war stories, have been replaced by lessons in cooperation and family life. Schools, she says, are "increasingly hostile to boys."

Because a young man from a poor family sees less financial advantage than his female counterpart in continuing his schooling, educational authorities say. As soon as he graduates from high school, he can go into a field such as auto repair or construction, which pays, on average, about $33,000 a year -- $10,000 more than the retail or service jobs that most young women can find,
Applications to college from men are regarded less favorably than applications from women:

Are college admissions offices hostile as well?

Nothing indicates that boys are applying to college in fewer numbers, according to Joyce Smith, executive director of the National Association for College Admission Counseling. So if women outnumber men on certain campuses, it must have something to do with the admissions process, and indeed, a number of colleges and universities are looking at their own procedures.

When I went to Providence College, the undergraduate body was all male, and many of the boys were the first on their family to go to college. However, an all male school is a luxury. The Ivy Leagues kept their all male colleges as long as they did because they had big endowments. Providence College was going under financially, and had to admit women to survive. It is now 2/3 female, and is cutting menÍs sports. There are still poor Catholics to be served. The poor Irish and French Canadian boys that filled Providence College in previous generations have graduated to the middle class; the poor Latino boys are not in college. Education and religion in the United States have always been heavily feminized, and a religious college, unless major efforts are made to maintain a male presence, will become a womenÍs college by default. Because of religious feminism, religious colleges are not simply neutral, they are going in the wrong direction.

5:11 AM

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