Thursday, December 11, 2014

Charles Babbage, in a letter to Alfred Tennyson:
In your otherwise beautiful poem "The Vision of Sin" there is a verse which reads – "Every moment dies a man, Every moment one is born." It must be manifest that if this were true, the population of the world would be at a standstill. In truth, the rate of birth is slightly in excess of that of death.

I would suggest that in the next edition of your poem you have it read – "Every moment dies a man, Every moment 1 1/16 is born."

The actual figure is so long I cannot get it onto a line, but I believe the figure 1 1/16 will be sufficiently accurate for poetry.

I am, Sir, yours, etc.,

Charles Babbage
Sounds a lot like the method of interpretation used by many in regards to the Bible to convict it of "error", only with the difference that Babbage was presumably kidding. :-)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

"A third criterion that Newman puts forward is what he calls 'the power of assimilation.' Just as a healthy organism can take in what it can from its environment, even as it resists what it must, so a sane and lively idea can take to itself what is best in the intellectual atmosphere, even as it throws off what is noxious. Both total accommodation to the culture and total resistance to it are usually signs of intellectual sickness."
-from an article by Fr. Robert Barron (italics mine).

Monday, November 17, 2014

"Sociologist Philip Rieff, in The Triumph of the Therapeutic, observed that institutions die when they can no longer communicate their core values to the next generation in a convincing way. He said this to support his contention (in 1966!) that Christianity was dying in the West, because we Westerners have become hostile to the ascetic spirit that is inextricable from authentic Christianity, and has been from the beginning. As you know, I believe Rieff was right, and that his being right is not something that traditional Christians should take comfort in, except in this one way: a Christianity that does demand something sacrificial from its followers is not only being true to the nature of the religion, but is far more likely to engender the kind of devotion that will endure through the therapeutic dark age. Aside from its radical theological innovations that are impossible to harmonize with Christianity as it was known for its first 1,900 years, Progressive Christianity has fully embraced the therapeutic mindset, in the sense that Rieff means. It is dying because it cannot convince young people to embrace its values within the institutional churches. It can’t be denied that many of the young do accept the social liberalism embraced by the progressive churches, but it also can’t be denied that most of them don’t see why they have to be part of a church to be socially progressive.'

"Theological conservatives had better watch out with this. If you raise up young people to believe that the truth of their theological beliefs is determined by the quality of their emotional experience in worship, you are undermining your foundations."

-Rod Dreher

Thursday, November 6, 2014

"A judicious silence is always better than truth spoken without charity"

-St. Francis de Sales [H/T Michelle Arnold]

Sunday, November 2, 2014

"Self-control is the control and rightful-ordering of desires and passions by the rational self. Liberation, as promoted by liberals, socialists, and other libertarians, is the setting-free of desires and passions from the command of the rational self, the thraldom of the latter to the former, and the manipulation and control of the desires and passions by outer forces over the vanquished self. This is the “free man” which the libertarians promote: the man without self-control, not a master of his passions, but their thrall in “free expression” — and a thrall also to those who know how to manipulate and control the passions of others."

-Deogolwulf, at Wiþ Endemanndom

[H/T Mike Flynn]

Friday, August 15, 2014

"What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning."

–Werner Karl Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science

[H/T Mike Flynn]

Thursday, July 24, 2014

“The behavior of any bureaucratic organization can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies.”

Robert Conquest

{H/T Mike Flynn)

Friday, July 18, 2014

We are not baptized into the hierarchy; do not receive the cardinals sacramentally; will not spend an eternity in the beatific vision of the pope. St. John Fisher could say in a public sermon, "If the pope will not reform the curia, God will." A couple of years later, he laid his head on Henry VIII's block for papal supremacy; followed to the same block by Thomas More, who had sepnt his youth under the Borgia pope, Alexander VI; lived his early manhood under the Medici pope Leo X; and died for papal supremacy under Clement VIII, as time-serving a pope as Rome ever had.

Christ is the point. I myself admire the present pope, but even if I criticized him as harshly as some do, even if his successor proved to be as bad as some of those who have gone before, even if I sometimes find the Church as I have to live with it, a pain in the neck, I should still say that nothing a Pope [or a priest] could do or say would make me wish to leave the Church, although I might well wish that they would leave. Israel, through its best periods as through its worst, preserved the truth of God's oneness in a world swarming with gods and a sense of God's majesty in a world sick with its own pride. So with the Church. Under the worst administration we could still learn Christ's truth, receive his life in the sacraments, be in union with him to the limit of our willingness. In awareness of Christ I can know the Church as his mystical body, and we must not make our judgment by the neck's sensitivity to pain.

-Frank Sheed (1897-1981)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"It is far better to do a few things well than to undertake many good works and leave them half-done."

 -St. Francis de Sales

Monday, June 30, 2014

"I hope that, should pop Atheism ever becomes more mainstream, appeals to Brute Facts will be allowed in courts of law."

-commenter on Edward Feser's blog

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

From a comment on Edward Feser's blog by "Mr. Green":

MR. GREEN: No sane person would take David Hume seriously!!!
MAN IN THE STREET: What? Take whom seriously?
MR. GREEN: No, don't!
MAN: Don't what?
MR. GREEN: Don't take Hume seriously.
MAN: That's what I want to know — whom?
MR. GREEN: Yes, Hume!
MAN: So will you tell me — whom do you mean??
MR. GREEN: Of course.
MAN: OK. Then tell me.
MR. GREEN: Tell you what?
MAN: No, tell me whom!
MR. GREEN: Um... [holding my head] I can't!
MAN: I. Kant? Oh, man, what a crackpot. No sane philosopher should take him seriously!

Monday, April 21, 2014

"Proud is many a man who looks down on his neighbor because the wool of his gown is finer! Yet as fine as it is, a poor sheep wore it upon her back before it came upon his back, and all the while she wore it, she was after all still only a sheep. And why should he now think himself better than she was simply by having that wool-----wool that, even though it is now his, is still not so truly his as it was truly hers?"

-St. Thomas More (H/T Jason Sims)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

In the long run, it’s not the side that can inflict the most damage, but the side that can bear the most suffering that inevitably wins. History leaves no doubt that people of faith are unmatched in enduring hardships

-commenter Brian Niemeier on John C. Wright's blog (April 7, 2014)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Second, there is the idea that the universe should contain ‘traces – evidence of His involvement’. Dawkins questions whether the apparent ‘fine – tuning’ of the universe for life is one of those ‘traces’. He also asks what it would be like ‘if God did indeed set things up so that life would evolve, but covered His tracks so brilliantly that no clues remain; if He made the universe look exactly as it would be expected to look if He did not exist’. But Christian theology does not envisage the universe as being different from what it might have been if God did not exist, rather that there would be no universe. It is the whole universe that is the ‘traces’, not some little piece tacked on by way of a signature. To think otherwise bears certain similarities to searching the components of a jet engine for traces of Frank Whittle. The search is in vain; it is the whole engine which owes its being to Whittle’s creativity, rather than any individual part bearing his signature. Furthermore, to expect the existence of God to be open to scientific tests is like trying to treat the existence of Whittle as an engineering question!

Michael Poole
Do not make an effort to overcome you temptations, because these efforts would strengthen them. Despise them and do not dwell on them. Call to your imagination,... Jesus Christ Crucified in your arms and on your breast, and say, "This is my hope; the living source of my happiness. I will hold you tightly, Jesus and will not let You go until You have placed me in a safe place.

-St. Padre Pio (Letters III, pp. 573-574)
"Most Protestants have no problem saying 'The Lord told me this' and 'the Lord told me that,' but they won’t believe that the Lord speaks through the pope. At least the guy has some credentials."

-Rich Mullins

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The function of news organizations is to contribute to the smooth and difficulty-free lives of the powerful people who own them, to make sure they get invited to the right parties, and to sell beer and shampoo to the rest of us.

-Mark Shea

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A good Mark Shea quote
The reason the three same names–Hypatia, Bruno, and Galileo–keep getting trotted out by historical illiterates as evidence of “The Catholic War on Science” is because there was no Catholic war on science. Hypatia was killed because she was unlucky enough to live in Alexandria, where civil violence was a municipal sport. Bruno was not a scientist, but a practitioner of what has rightly been described as mystic woo woo. For Cosmos to herald him as a champion of SCIENCE[TM] persecuted by the Church is like wringing one’s hand because the Pope did not convert to Scientology. And Galileo? Well, what you want to do is read Mike Flynn’s magnificent and hilarious account* of how, largely due to the work of Catholic scientists, we got from geocentrism to heliocentrism–and how Galileo being a pain in the neck who went beyond the evidence available at the time and wound up running afoul of a hierarchy reeling from the Protestant revolt and jittery about his rash theological claims.

Next time some historical illiterate talks about the Church’s “War on Science” ask for details on these three. Then give the real details. Then, ask for other names. A “war” with only three casualties is not much of a war, particularly when the Church has canonized St. Albert the Great, has a couple dozen craters on the moon named for Jesuits, was mother to Robert Grosseteste, Roger Bacon, John Peckham, Duns Scotus, Thomas Bradwardine, Walter Burley, William Heytesbury, Richard Swineshead, John Dumbleton, Richard of Wallingford, Nicholas Oresme, Jean Buridan Nicholas of Cusa, and Louis Pasteur (not one of whom the average Cosmos-educated sophisticate has even heard of), carefully fostered the work of Gregor Mendel (the Augustinian monk who founded the science of genetics), and fully supported the work of Jesuit Msgr. Georges Lemaitre, the formulator of the Big Bang hypothesis.

In sum, the iron truth remains that the more ignorant somebody is, the more certain they are they are obviously smarter than the common herd. Seth MacFarlane, the producer of Cosmos, is certain he knows what is talking about, and therefore has never bothered to discover how wrong he is.

Someday, somebody is going to have the guts to tell the story of the history of Science and the Faith that is not a cartoon. But one can hardly expect that from a cartoon maker.
*Incidentally, for the work by Mike Flynn detailing the affair with Galileo, see here:

The Great Ptolemaic Smackdown

Thursday, February 27, 2014

"The true path to power in a democracy is the creation of the demonic 'other.' Those of a different party are portrayed not as people who in all sincerity start with different assumptions and reach different conclusions, but as deliberate and demonic destroyers of the social and political order. Reason is replaced by fear, and if the 'other side' is always feared, then one’s own performance doesn’t really matter; no matter how inept one party proves itself, it can always make the appeal that the other party is demonic. To be sure, there are assumptions and opinions which do tear down society, but there are few, if any, who hold their opinions for the purpose of destroying the social order; rather they have a different, if often erroneous, vision of that order."

- John Médaille

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The great enemy of civilization is Monopoly, whether industrial, financial, or political. Big Government is no more lovely than Big Business. In essence, they are the same. Let’s not put all our eggs or all our liberties into one basket. If we do, our children may have neither liberty nor eggs.

-Samuel G. Pettengill

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Epitaph on the Politician

Himself
Here richly, with ridiculous display,
The Politician's corpse was laid away.
While all of his acquaintance sneered and slanged
I wept: for I had longed to see him hanged
 

 -Hilaire Belloc


(h/t Sean Dailey)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


“When the vast majority of men no longer live the way they think, then they begin to think the way they live. The average man does the average thing: the Christian is bidden to transcend the mediocre. Society settles down to the level of the ordinary but society is saved by those who push on to the second mile when compelled to walk the first. No character is developed in the first mile: the difference between the good and the barely good is not a difference in talent, but a difference in service.”

~ Fulton J. Sheen, ‘Love Walks the Extra Mile‘ 1958.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Abraham Lincoln on the "Know-Nothings" of his day (who are certainly in the ascendancy today, even if under different names)

Our progress in degeneracy appears to me pretty rapid. As a nation we began by declaring "all men are created equal." We now practically read it, "all men are created equal, except Negroes." When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except Negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty--to Russia, for example, where despotism can be taken pure and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.

Friday, January 10, 2014

I think that the Church is the only thing that is going to make the terrible world we are coming to endurable; the only thing that makes the Church endurable is that it is somehow the body of Christ and that on this we are fed. It seems to be a fact that you suffer as much from the Church as for it but if you believe in the divinity of Christ, you have to cherish the world at the same time that you struggle to endure it.

-Flannery O'Connor

Sunday, January 5, 2014

[A meditation by John Henry Cardinal Newman]

God was all-complete, all-blessed in Himself; but it was His will to create a world for His glory. He is Almighty, and might have done all things Himself, but it has been His will to bring about His purposes by the beings He has created. We are all created to His glory—we are created to do His will. I am created to do something or to be something for which no one else is created; I have a place in God's counsels, in God's world, which no one else has; whether I be rich or poor, despised or esteemed by man, God knows me and calls me by my name.

2. God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission—I never may know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. Somehow I am necessary for His purposes, as necessary in my place as an Archangel in his—if, indeed, I fail, He can raise another, as He could make the stones children of Abraham. Yet I have a part in this great work; I am a link in a chain, a bond of connexion between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do His work; I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it, if I do but keep His commandments and serve Him in my calling.

3. Therefore I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be necessary causes of some great end, which is quite beyond us. He does nothing in vain; He may prolong my life, He may shorten it; He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends, He may throw me among strangers, He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide the future from me—still He knows what He is about.

O Adonai, O Ruler of Israel, Thou that guidest Joseph like a flock, O Emmanuel, O Sapientia, I give myself to Thee. I trust Thee wholly. Thou art wiser than I—more loving to me than I myself. Deign to fulfil Thy high purposes in me whatever they be—work in and through me. I am born to serve Thee, to be Thine, to be Thy instrument. Let me be Thy blind instrument. I ask not to see—I ask not to know—I ask simply to be used.