The Wit of St. John Fisher

June 22nd, 2016

St. John Fisher, 1469-1535, who was executed on this June 22nd date, wrote several documents defending the marriage of Henry VIII to Catherine of Aragon. In one, the Licitum fuisse matrimonium Hen: 8: cum Catharina relicta fratris suj Arthurj, probably written in 1529, Fisher displays particular wit. According to the late scholar Edward Surtz SJ, Fisher employed the Latin adage or proverb “quite effectively”:

In striving to discover a basis for the invalidity of Henry and Catherine’s marriage in the Levitical prohibition (Lev. 18:16, 20:21), his adversaries are engaging in an activity as futile as seeking wool on a donkey (“lanam ab asino quaerunt”), or hunting a hare outside its burrow (“Inanis est venatio leporis extra sedem suam”), or shaking a bush from which the bird has already flown (“frustra dumus excutitur, in qua non residet avis”). By failing to reconcile the prohibition in Leviticus with the leviratic precept in Deuteronomy (25:5), they are keeping the two farther apart than treble and bass (lit. than a double octave: longius quam bis diapason). Nevertheless it is plainer than any sun (omni sole clarius) that the wife whose husband has died childless is exempt from the Levitical prohibition against marriage to one’s brother’s wife. Yet Fisher can apply a proverb to himself also. In trespassing on the territory of canon lawyers, he realizes that he must face the criticism: The cobber should not go beyond his last (Ne ultra crepidam sutor).

From: Surtz, E. L. (1967). The works and days of John Fisher; an introduction to the position of St. John Fisher (1469-1535), Bishop of Rochester, in the English Renaissance and the Reformation. Cambridge, Harvard University Press, pg. 352.

For more on St. John Fisher, and why he should be named a Doctor of the Church, please see my previous posts.

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The views posted at sanityandsocialjustice.net are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.

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The Rise of Virtual Shirt Movements

June 8th, 2016

In a 2010 post, I wrote about the history of “shirt movements” like the Blackshirts and the Brownshirts, and how these violent thugs drove more moderate associations and leaders from the public square in the 1920s, 30s, and thereafter, allowing Fascist and other totalitarian movements to take power.

Thanks to Twitter and other social media, it is now possible to mount a virtual shirt movement of hundreds of thousands of participants (but usually a much smaller, but very vocal group) to marginalize individuals and one’s political or social opposition.

Since this virtual shirt movement phenomenon is still immature, many individuals are shaken when seemingly thousands of persons virtually gang up on them. However, as this phenomenon does mature and become better understood, we may see a situation in which only virtual reactions involving one million or more participants will be taken seriously, and only if they sustain themselves over time. Universities are especially susceptible to relatively small virtual shirt movements.

Right now, virtual shirt movements seem very powerful. This power may degrade as it is better understood, and as information countermeasures are established.

A virtual shirt movement may seem “fierce,” but these “virtually fierce” ones eventually can be virtually discredited and even ignored as their manipulative efforts are themselves revealed and better understood.

But if virtual shirt movements are taken too seriously and are allowed to succeed, we will see the makings of a new virtual fascism or totalitarianism. One sure harbinger of Fascism is a group of thugs who drive their opposition from the public square, virtually or otherwise.

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The views posted at sanityandsocialjustice.net are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.

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Catholic League E-Mailing List and Media Resources Hijacked to Promote Pro-Trump Op-Eds?

June 2nd, 2016

With great disappointment, I report that the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights e-mailing list, on 4/22/16, and on 6/2/16, promoted off-mission pro-Donald Trump Newsmax articles by Catholic League President Dr. William Donohue.   The 6/2/16 Newsmax article was even displayed as a banner as of 9PM CDT 6/2/16 on the Catholic League website.   These articles have nothing to do with the stated mission of the Catholic League to defend the religious and civil rights of Catholics.

Those responsible for this continual violation of the mission of the Catholic League and appropriation of its media resources for political purposes should step down from the organization.   The above actions constitute a stupendous lack of judgment and lack of prudent stewardship of Catholic League social capital.

My father was a student of the late Virgil Blum, SJ, who founded the Catholic League in 1973, and was one of his earliest supporters.   I’m therefore deeply saddened by this inappropriate diversion of Catholic League resources, which threatens the integrity and future of the organization.

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The views posted at sanityandsocialjustice.net are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.

 

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Richard Dawkins, Mark Tushnet, and the Rise of the “PC Fatwa”

May 14th, 2016

Earlier, I commented on what I satirically termed a “fatwa” by Richard Dawkins when in 2012 he called upon his atheist followers to mock Catholics who believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

On 5/8/16, Harvard constitutional scholar Mark Tushnet issued what I am now calling a “PC fatwa” to treat conservative Christians as Nazis.

Political correctness, or PC, first advanced benignly within university culture over the past decades as a polite way of avoiding conflict among students and scholars of divergent backgrounds and points of view. But it gradually became a malignant orthodoxy banning opposing points of view, and has now metastasized across government and society.

Those like Richard Dawkins and Mark Tushnet who speak for the PC orthodoxy now issue their own PC edicts, or “PC fatwas.” A future age will view these edicts, and PC orthodoxy, as regrettable mistakes.

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The views posted at sanityandsocialjustice.net are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.

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Time Well Spent: Karl Richter’s 1971 Bach St. Matthew Passion video

March 13th, 2016

In the middle of every crazy thing that’s going on, take some time to ponder what the suffering and death of Jesus of Nazareth meant. Want to go deeper? Got about 3 hours, the traditional span of the Crucifixion? Search out the Karl Richter-conducted Bach St. Matthew Passion from 1971 (with subtitles) on YouTube, library, or for purchase. This piece was the JC Superstar of the 1700s. The Richter-led performance was controversial Big Bach (easier to take for Bach rookies), with great singers like Julia Hamari –

The complete recording:

Here is the worldcat.org reference for library use or purchase.

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The views posted at sanityandsocialjustice.net are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.

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Condemnation of Donald Trump’s “You have to go after their families” Remark

March 11th, 2016

The following note is being shared with colleagues at UIC:

Colleague,

Certain outrageous and criminal public statements require public condemnation. Donald Trump’s remark, “You have to go after their families,” referring to the families of terrorists, calls for our country to commit war crimes. Yes, DT walked the remark back, but that he would make such an intemperate and ignorant remark groups him with the most infamous and dangerous demagogues in history.

One interesting development this past week of 3/7/16 is that a number of leading and more traditional Catholic intellectuals, mostly allied with the GOP, issued a condemnation of Trump, stating “Donald Trump is manifestly unfit to be president of the United States.” While UIC colleagues may not agree with a number of the premises in the statement, addressed to men and women of good will, I share it for your interest:

http://eppc.org/publications/an-appeal-to-our-fellow-catholics/

Cordially,

Albert Schorsch, III
emeritus research faculty

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The views posted at sanityandsocialjustice.net are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.

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Aphorism XCV

February 28th, 2016

Some of the very clergy who criticize politicians for wanting to pause immigration themselves opt for slowing the incardination of internationally-born clergy into the ranks of US Catholic clergy.

We need and benefit from the incardination of international clergy into the US.

This aphorism is not original to me, but is from a loved one.

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The views posted at sanityandsocialjustice.net are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.

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Prediction on SCOTUS

February 16th, 2016

Prediction:

If Loretta Lynch indicts HRC 4 top secret e-mail breach before November 2016, Senate will confirm Lynch for SCOTUS.

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The views posted at sanityandsocialjustice.net are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.

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How to Fix the Chicago Schools Without Building More of Them

February 9th, 2016

In a few neighborhoods in Chicago, there is a call for building more public schools due to overcrowding. But when one looks at vacancies in public schools adjacent to these overcrowded schools, one often finds excess capacity that can accommodate more students. It is therefore apparent that some schools are overcrowded because they are schools of refuge from less desirable schools. Nevertheless, the public constituency for what I refer to as “refuge overcrowding” calls for the building of new schools rather than fixing the adjacent schools that are less desirable.

Because neither the state, nor the county, nor the city have enough money, the means to build a new school of refuge is usually a Tax Increment Financing district, or TIF. A TIF is basically a public means to rob Peter to pay Paul, through public financial slight of hand that prevents Peter, Peter being whoever loses in the TIF deal, from ever finding out the truth of the matter. Even so, the public sector bears an undue capital burden to build a new school when an adjacent school has excess capacity. The public sector in Illinois, be it state or local government, barely has enough money to avoid bankruptcy and utter collapse. Despite this fundamental change in the fiscal position of government, public leaders continue to argue for capital expenditures as if we were in a period of growth, which we are not. This wishful thinking is sheer folly, since their proposed new capital expenditures cannot be completed to a high degree of quality, nor sustained and maintained in a declining future.

I therefore propose a different way to think about preK-12 schools, and that is to think of all such schools, be they public, charter, parochial, or private, as all one educational system. If we look at the capacity of this combined educational system of all schools, there is more than enough capacity to educate all the available children. But what is seemingly missing is a financial mechanism to fund all the schools.

I wrote “seemingly missing” because the financial mechanism is educational or school vouchers which are unpopular with a vocal fraction of the political sector. Educational vouchers help prevent needless capital expenditures on new public school buildings by funding the more efficient use of all existing educational buildings. They are a better use of public funds for education primarily for this very reason–that they preclude the need to build new schools by funding the whole educational system rather than funding new capital improvements for the often stressed or dis-functional public fragment of it.

Educational vouchers would easily allow non-public schools to accommodate many of the students facing overcrowding in nearby public schools when one factors in the reduction in capital outlays. Due to the dire financial condition of the public sector in Illinois that prevents capital expenditures, there is presently a real opportunity to make the school voucher argument as a way to reduce the need for future capital spending. It is therefore surprising that the argument for vouchers is not made more forcefully at this very time of opportunity for school vouchers by educational, non-profit, and religious leaders responsible for non-public schools. This could be due to lack of insight, to distraction, or perhaps, to cowardice.

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The views posted at sanityandsocialjustice.net are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.

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Reflections for Catholic Schools Week

February 3rd, 2016

The Catholic Church in the US celebrates Catholic Schools Week starting 1/31/16, following the 1/28 feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, priest and Doctor of the Church. Here are some of my thoughts on US Catholic Schools, originally shared in Fall 2015 on the Homiletic and Pastoral Review’s website as a comment to an article, but now slightly updated:

1. Since the middle of the 20th century, our clergy and bishops have been of several minds on the Catholic schools. This is evident by the lack support for Catholic schools by one given pastor or bishop, while a neighboring pastor or bishop might enthusiastically support Catholic schools. Until the clergy reach a consensus and determine an agreed strategy, the schools will continue to languish in many dioceses and parishes. The fact that there is no national collection to sustain and support Catholic school capital needs is exhibit one that there is not a consensus on Catholic schools among the clergy. But it took the bishops decades to realize they needed to set up a collection for the retired religious after many calls for same. Perhaps there is still hope for the schools. . .

2. Fundraising should also address the salary, pension, and benefit needs of Catholic school teachers. This component is too often, and unjustly, left out of major diocesan fundraising efforts.

3. Due to energy inefficiency of school and church buildings, a sizeable, and I might even offer, an unjust portion the noble fundraising efforts for the schools by tens of thousands of parishioners are literally going up the chimneys. Public school districts are now moving to geothermal and other highly efficient heating and air conditioning strategies. Catholics have yet to get serious about the scale of the capital expenditures and organizational changes necessary to sustain the schools, and have instead added symbolic, but not fundamental, energy saving features.

4. The over $250M spent by the Church in the US on community organizing since the 1960s, however well intentioned, would have had much more lasting social and religious impact if used to sustain inner city schools. It will take generations to come to terms with this strategic mistake.

© Copyright 2015, 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The views posted at sanityandsocialjustice.net are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.

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