Archive for August, 2010

Corruption and incompetence as institutional racism

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

The academic world, especially in Illinois, is abuzz about an article in the Washington Monthly by Ben Miller and Phuong Ly about “drop-out factory” colleges that highlights Chicago State University, which boasts a pitiful 13% graduation rate. Miller and Ly carefully debunk Chicago State’s defensive statements about serving the urban poor by citing examples of urban public universities which do a much better job with the very same demographic groups.

Chicago State is a prime example of how politics and patronage do not mix with higher education. It has been a political and patronage playground for Illinois, Chicago, and in particular African American power brokers for decades, who have deeply embarrassed their own community and failed their own young people by their incompetent leadership. I’ll leave it to the newspapers to name names, as they have been doing for quite some time.

Institutional racism has many ways it can bar the door for a racial groups to progress. One structure of institutional racism is the acceptance of lower standards of performance in leadership and in education for the sake of symbolic self-determination and the spoils system. Symbolic self-determination without performance is useless. If an evil genius were to seek a way to hurt African Americans, that evil genius would not have to do anything more than put Chicago and Illinois politicians and certain community power brokers in charge of an institution of higher education such as Chicago State.

One especially poignant part of the Washington Monthly story was how the lack of knowledge on the part of Chicago State staff misinformed a student about an opportunity for which they thought he was not eligible. Politicians, unions, and state personnel officials have an obligation to provide staff to public higher education institutions who can actually do the job, and not just vote the right way, serve in a political army, pay their dues, and perpetuate a hopelessly under-resourced personnel bureaucracy that consistently delivers unqualified employees to the public workplace.

Social justice is based more on performance and competence than it is on symbolism and representation, or even the exercise of social or political power. Simple justice demands that students be given the services and education for which they are paying.

It’s time for the public sector to demand of the personnel bureaucracy and the unions what the construction and automobile industries have substantially addressed in certain sectors–all parties working together to bring qualified personnel to the workplace.

It’s also time for the politicians and power brokers to step aside at Chicago State, and let educators educate the way they know how.

© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved

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Aphorism XX

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

I have a theory that may explain how a man can listen to a woman time and again and not remember a word she said.

From his earliest days, a boy listens to the music of his mother’s voice, a very comforting sound. He hears her voice as music.

When a husband comes home and hears his wife speaking, he listens to the comforting music of her voice. Sometimes, he hears the sound of love, and discards its particular context.

It is therefore because I love you that I often can’t remember a thing you’ve said.

Perhaps this is the best excuse yet. . .

© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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A few lessons from the California constitutional convention of 1879

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

(What I will share with my University colleagues on 8/24/10) —

Colleague,

Here’s a few quotes of the day from the convention leading up to the California Constitution of 1879, by a non-partisan, Columbia U.- educated San Francisco attorney, University of California regent, and civil rights advocate named Joseph Winans, who argued that the University of California be set up as a “public trust,” governed by an independent board of regents, separate from the corrupt California legislature.

To those who opposed such a public trust arrangement, Winans held that they “would not only throw the university into the hands of the Legislature, but make it the plaything of politics. . . as long as it is made subject to legislative caprice; so long as it can be made subject to the beck of the politicians; so long as it can be made to subserve sectarian or political designs, it will never flourish.” According to Winans, California’s university “must be beyond all power of assault and subversion.” Separately, Winans stated that he wanted UC to be structured outside of “all pernicious political influences.”

In the end, after a contradictory, topsy turvy battle, Winans’s position prevailed, and the University of California was structured as a public trust. The California Constitution read that the University would be “subject only to such legislative control as may be necessary to insure compliance with the terms of its endowment and the proper investment of and security of its funds.” According to the California attorney general, the University was a virtual fourth branch of government as a “constitutional corporation. . . equal and coordinate with the legislature, the judiciary, and the executive.”

Sources:

Douglass, John Aubrey, 2000. The California idea and American higher education 1850 to the 1960 master plan. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, pp. 67-69.

and —

http://www.oac.cdlib.org/view?docId=hb4v19n9zb&doc.view=content&chunk.id=div00310&toc.depth=1&brand=oac4&anchor.id=0

By the way, the 1880 state appropriation to UC was $10,000, or 8% of the total operating expenses, which arguably is approximately the effective contribution, factoring in funds in arrears, of the State of Illinois general revenue funding of the U of I today.

In part because of the lack of such a public trust arrangement in Illinois, over the past century and one half our own University has been pressured to be a political jobs bank, to be a purchasing machine, to be a cash line of credit for the state, to accept buildings it did not plan for or need or couldn’t afford to maintain, to accept numerous unfunded mandates, to be publicly shamed in the integrity of its admissions and earlier its scholarship process while the legislative rascals who compromised the University walked away scot free, to be regulated at a higher standard than the Illinois Legislature would ever impose on itself and at an increasing rate inversely proportionate to the decline in state funding–and more–while University administrators have had to grin from time to time, and act as if they liked it.

That the U of I, including UIC, has accomplished all that it has is a testament to the savvy determination of its leadership and to the integrity of its faculty. However, the state of corruption in Illinois requires an ever more vigilant public attitude toward state government.

Therefore, the independence from political corruption of the U of I, including UIC, should be at the top of every government reform agenda in the state, no matter what one’s political persuasion. Independence from political corruption should not be limited to admissions, but include hiring, purchasing, scholarships, real estate, research, investment, in short, every kind of human value that can be turned by enterprising scoundrels into a political pay day.

While the U of I cannot be constitutionally independent of the political mess in the state–and may never be–it can be morally independent, by pursuing its missions of teaching, research, service, and economic development with absolute focus and integrity.

If we of the University transform ourselves along these lines, we can also hope to transform the state.

Never underestimate the transformative power of a university.

Cordially,

Albert Schorsch, III

© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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On a just God, justification, and social justice

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

The teachings of Jesus are attractive in and of themselves, because they manifest a radiant kindness and love, and urge us to treat each other with an unselfish, humble, or just regard that calls upon us to love others as we would love ourselves.

The Beatitudes, the Sermon on the Mount, the Parables such as the Good Samaritan or the Prodigal Son, the incidents such as the Woman Caught in Adultery, the Priestly Prayer of Jesus at the Last Supper, and especially Christ’s Passion profoundly touch both believers and unbelievers, and have inspired many visions of a just society based upon basic human kindness and love, and upon an attempt to see God’s Kingdom come “on earth as in heaven.”

It is therefore relatively easy to love and admire Jesus the man, as millions from all backgrounds of belief and unbelief have done for centuries, and will continue to do.

This love and admiration for Jesus the man, for his teachings and example, has had an unfathomable power in shaping civilization and human history. When one considers the cruelty of law and daily life in ancient empires and cultures, one has to admit that Christian ideals, once introduced into cruel society, have literally reshaped these cruel civilizations and have thus to an important degree changed the world. There is therefore a link between the permeation of Christian ideas of kindness, love, and justice throughout cultures in history, and the slow growth of social justice, or of a just society.

That the world is not a peaceful or just place by any means of course indicates that the Christian mission is incomplete. There are many reasons for this, not the least of which include Christians themselves. In our attempts to love and to shape a just society, we Christians continue to miss the mark, or literally, to sin.

A modern Christian can accept and love Jesus the man, and form his or her life within a Christian ideal of love, kindness, and justice toward others, without ever believing in Jesus the God. In their ethic, those who follow only the human side of Jesus in a quest for social justice, appear for all the world to be Christians. But in a very deep and meaningful way, because they have not trusted, or believed, in Jesus both God and man, they do not live as Christians as Christ called them to so do.

It is therefore possible to “live a Christian life,” but at the same time not to “believe in Christ.” It is possible to strive to be “the perfect Christian” socially, but to deeply doubt or reject the salvation narrative, that for some important reason Jesus had to be both divine and human, to die, and rise, so that a new and eternal life would be available to us.

Many of us modern Christians thus stop short at the Cross, and at the Christian Mystery, the transcendent act of Christ in showing us, by his Incarnation, Life, Teachings, Sufferings, Death, and Resurrection, what perfect and eternal love is.

It is for this reason that “social justice” Christians who are not believing Christians continue to “miss the mark” by not witnessing to Christ’s love in all its perfection. The very purpose of Christ’s birth and subsequent witness, and His mission in establishing a Church, can thereby be lost. It is only by accepting the Cross, and all that led up to it and followed it, that the fuller meaning of the “Greater Love” as lived by Christ, of laying down his life for his friends, can be received. It does less good to accept only the social justice implied by Christ’s mission, than it does to accept the very stated purpose of His mission, which includes all true manifestations of justice.

Social justice attempted without “loving one another as I have loved you” risks building a society without leaving room for the transcendent calling of the human person in Christ to live not just for today, but for forever. This transcendent, eternal dimension accepts Christ as a friend, because only if we accept eternity can we know Christ as he eternally is now, as our friend. Friendship with Christ teaches us in ever more deepening ways to become friends to each other, since we share in adoption by the Father. Human friendship, the basis of any just society, is diminished when Christian friendship is incomplete.

When the human person is seen in an eternal dimension, a life ethic is not only possible, but necessary. When human life is seen as potentially eternal, then the entire span of human life requires our sacrificial respect and friendship, our love. Without belief in the Christian Mystery in addition to acceptance of the Christian ethic, there is no firm connection between life ethics and social ethics. Modern “social justice” Christians often reject the connection between life ethics and social justice ethics. But by rejecting this connection, they reject the very message and mission of Jesus Incarnate, Jesus in his true dimension of both God and man. They reject, often without knowing it, the very reason Jesus is Who He Is. They risk rejecting Salvation, life complete and abundant.

For anyone who has struggled with the questions—

“Why was it necessary for God to become man and die?” or

“What was accomplished by Christ’s death on the cross?” or

“Why was it necessary for Christ to found a Church?” and

“From what do we have to be ‘saved’?”

–the notion of a just God, of justification, and of social justice seem to clash. Modern Christians often accept a quest for social justice, but are perplexed by a just God, or why justification is even necessary.

Yet in searching and listening for a connection among these three concepts of just-ness, we can ever more discover their very meaning, learn more deeply what Christ teaches us, receive healing and therefore integration of our very selves, and gain deeper insight into the steps necessary to improve human life in general.

Outside the Scriptures, there are perhaps no more profound, beautiful, and compact summaries of the salvation narrative than are to be found in the Confessions of St. Augustine of Hippo.

St. Augustine ended the famous Tenth Book of his Confessions, a meditation on memory, with an eloquent summary of the role of Christ as Mediator between a just God and imperfect and mortal human beings.

For the past several days I have been carefully reading, re-reading, and meditating on this passage, which also appears in the Office of Readings for Friday of the Sixteenth Week.

I first list the Latin original, then two different English translations:

Verax autem mediator, quem secreta tua misericordia demonstrasti hominibus, et misisti, et eius exemplo etiam ipsam discerent humilitatem, mediator ille dei et hominum, homo Christus Iesus, inter mortales peccatores et inmortalem iustum apparuit, mortalis cum hominibus, iustus cum deo, ut, quoniam stipendium iustitiae vita et pax est, per iustitiam coniunctam deo evacuaret mortem iustificatorum inpiorum, quam cum illis voluit habere conmunem. hic demonstratus est antiquis sanctis, ut ita ipsi per fidem futurae passionis eius, sicut nos per fidem praeteritae, salvi fierent in quantum enim homo, in tantum mediator, in quantum autem verbum, non medius, quia aequalis deo et deus apud deum et simul unus deus. In quantum nos amasti, pater bone, qui filio tuo unico non pepercisti, sed pro nobis inpiis tradidisti eum! quomodo nos amasti, pro quibus illi non rapinam arbitratus esse aequalis tibi factus est subditus usque ad mortem crucis: unus ille in mortuis liber, potestatem habens ponendi animam suam et potestatem habens iterum sumendi eam, pro nobis tibi victor et victima, et ideo victor, quia victima, pro nobis tibi sacerdos et sacrificium, et ideo sacerdos, quia sacrificium, faciens tibi nos de servis filios de te nascendo, tibi serviendo. merito mihi spes valida in illo est, quod sanabis omnes languores meos per eum, qui sedet ad dexteram tuam et te interpellat pro nobis: alioquin desperarem. multi enim et magni sunt idem languores, multi sunt et magni; sed amplior est medicina tua. potuimus putare verbum tuum remotum esse a coniunctione hominis et desperare de nobis, nisi caro fieret et habitaret in nobis. Conterritus peccatis meis et mole miseriae meae, agitaveram corde meditatusque fueram fugam in solitudinem, sed prohibuisti me et confortasti me dicens: Ideo Christus pro omnibus mortuus est, ut et qui vivunt iam non sibi vivant, sed ei qui pro omnibus mortuus est. ecce, domine, iacto in te curam meam, ut vivam, et considerabo mirabilia de lege tua. tu scis inperitiam meam et infirmitatem meam: doce me et sana me. ille tuus unicus, in quo sunt omnes thesauri sapientiae et scientiae absconditi, redemit me sanguine suo. non calumnientur mihi superbi, quoniam cogito pretium meum, et manduco et bibo, et erogo et pauper cupio saturari ex eo inter illos, qui edunt et saturantur: et laudabunt dominum qui requirunt eum.

The above passage is taken from Book 10, 43 68 of Augustine’s Confessions at:
http://hiphi.ubbcluj.ro/fam/texte/augustin/augustin-conf10.htm

An alternative text is at:
http://www.stoa.org/hippo/text10.html

The Maria Boulding, OSB translation:

In your unfathomable mercy you first gave the humble certain pointers to the true Mediator, and then sent him, so that by his example they might learn even a humility like his. This Mediator between God and humankind, the man Christ Jesus, appeared to stand between mortal sinners and the God who is immortal and just: like us he was mortal, but like God he was just. Now the wage due to justice is life and peace; and so, through the justice whereby he was one with God he broke the power of death on behalf of malefactors rendered just, using that very death to which he had willed to liable along with them.

He was pointed out to holy people under the old dispensation that they may be saved by faith in his future passion, as we are through faith in that passion now accomplished.

Only in virtue of humanity is he the Mediator; in his nature as the Word he does not stand between us and God, for he is God’s equal, God with God, and with him only one God.

How you loved us, O good Father, who spared not even your only Son, but gave him up for us evildoers! How you loved us, for whose sake he who deemed it no robbery to be your equal was made subservient even to the point of dying on the cross! Alone of all, he was free among the dead, for he had power to lay down his life and power to retrieve it. For our sake he stood to you as both victor and victim, and victor because victim; for us he stood to you as priest and sacrifice, and priest because sacrifice, making us sons and daughters to you instead of servants by being born of you to serve us.

With good reason there is solid hope for me in him, because you will heal all my infirmities through him who sits at your right hand and intercedes for us. Were it not so, I should despair. Many and grave are those infirmities, many and grave; but wider-reaching is your healing power. We might have despaired, thinking your Word remote from any conjunction with humankind, had he not become flesh and made his dwelling among us.

Filled with terror by my sins and my load of misery, I had been turning over in my mind a plan to flee into solitude; but you forbade me, and strengthened me by your words: To this end Christ died for all, you reminded me, that they who are alive might live not for themselves but for him who died for them.

See, then, Lord: I cast my care upon you so that I may live, and I will contemplate the wonders you have revealed. You know how stupid and weak I am: teach me and heal me. Your only Son, in whom are hidden all treasures of wisdom and knowledge, has redeemed me with his blood. Let not the proud disparage me, for I am mindful of my ransom. I eat it, I drink it, I dispense it to others, and as a poor man I long to be filled with it among those who are fed and feasted. And then, let those who seek him praise the Lord.

From: the Confessions of St. Augustine, Maria Boulding, OSB, translator, New City Press, 1999, pp. 220-222.

Office of Readings translation:

The true Mediator was he whom you revealed to humble men in your secret mercy, and whom you sent so they might learn that same humility by following his example. This was the Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who intervened between sinful mortals and the immortal Just One, himself mortal like men, and like God, just. Thus, since life and peace are the compensation for righteousness, he could, by a justice united with God, annul the death of sinners now justified, since he willed to share death with them.

Good Father, how you loved us, sparing not your only Son but delivering him up for us sinners! How you loved us, for whose sake he, thinking it no robbery to be equal with you, was made subject to death on the cross. He alone, free among the dead, had the power to lay down his life and the power to take it up again. For our sake he became in your sight both victor and victim – victor, indeed, because he was victim. For our sake, too, he became before you both priest and sacrifice – priest, indeed, because he was a sacrifice, changing us from slaves to sons by being your Son and serving us.

Rightly then have I firm hope that you will heal all my infirmities through him who sits at your right hand and intercedes for us. Otherwise I should despair. For great and numerous are these infirmities of mine, great indeed and numerous, but your medicine is mightier. We might have thought your Word remote from any union with man, and so have despaired of ourselves, if he had not become flesh and dwelt among us.

Crushed by my sins and the weight of my misery, I had taken thought in my heart and contemplated flight into the desert. But you stopped me and gave me comfort with the words: Christ died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them.

Behold, Lord, I cast upon you my concern that I may live and I shall meditate on the wonders of your law. You know my ignorance and my weakness; teach me and heal me. Your only Son, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, redeemed me with his blood. Let not arrogant men speak evil of me. For I meditate on my ransom, and I eat it and drink it and try to share it with others; though poor I want to be filled with it in the company of those who eat and are filled and they shall praise the Lord who seek him.

Catholic Church. 1983. The office of readings: according to the Roman rite. The divine office, revised by decree of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and published by authority of Pope Paul VI. Boston, MA: St. Paul Editions, pp. 912-913.

(I suggest that you read the above several times until you begin praying or contemplating, then slowly consider the great mysteries Augustine attempts to communicate. Then repeat!)

The words of Augustine above, as always, are completely permeated with Scriptural phrases and concepts. Maria Boulding cross-referenced twenty-six of these, especially from the letters of Paul (1 Tm 2:5; 2 Tm 1:10; Rom 4:5; 1 Tm 2:4; Phil 2:6; Phil 2:6,8; Gal 4:7; Rom 8:34; 2 Cor 5:15; Col 2:3; 1 Cor 10:31, 11:29), Letter to the Hebrews (Heb 9:28; Heb 7:27), the Gospels (Jn 1:1; Jn 10:18; Jn 1:14; Jn 6:55,57; Lk 16:21), and the Psalms (Ps 87:6 {88:5}; Ps 102 {103}:3; Ps 54:23 {55:22}; Ps 118 {119} 17-18; Ps 68:6 {69:5}; Ps 24 {25}:5, 6:3 {2}; Ps 118 {119}:22; Ps 21:27 {22:26}). The 1927 Cambridge edition of the Confessions also lists a number of other passages echoed in this text (Rom 6:23; 1 Cor 15:55, and more). One could spend weeks reading these Scripture references and meditating on their meaning, and on the interplay between these passages and Augustine’s text.

What I have drawn from meditating on these readings so far, both from Augustine and Scripture, is that we call God just because of God’s perfection, God’s holiness. We humans are not perfect as God is, but we are called to be as God is. Jesus, as Mediator, makes it possible for us to grow closer to God in perfection, to be made perfect and just like God is, in other words, to become justified, so that in seeing us, God would see the intended perfection of creation.

The path to justification is humility, the conformance of our persons to Christ the Mediator and thus to God, just as Christ was humble in following His Father’s will.

In order to make us just, Christ had to break death itself, otherwise, we humans would continue to miss the mark—to sin—in our quest to become just. Sin and death stand between us taking on the justness for which God calls us, and indeed, created us. Christ, the Mediator, both Victim and Victor, both Priest and Sacrifice, calls us to become the free children of God, and to no longer be slaves, or victims, and no longer miss the mark—by sin—and by death. Christ is the Mediator of our adoption by the Father, a gift of loving grace. By partaking in the Eucharist, the sacrament (an oath to the death), both meal and sacrifice, we associate ourselves most intimately with the Mediator, the Christ, and hope, or trust in, a life both just and eternal, by celebrating the Eucharist in a real time and a real place to join us with the living and eternal sacrifice of Christ, in eternal communion with the saints. This trust and hope take place in a real time and in a real place, and in eternity, and empower us to act. Since “the wage due to God’s justice is life and peace,” we follow Christ in respecting life and peace.

This sacramental aspect has powerful implications. Just as Christ physically was born, lived, died, and rose in order to teach His message of the Greater Love, so also we do as He asked in memory of Him by partaking in the Eucharist, which inextricably links Christ’s act of salvation and our own. We accept, affirm, partake, and participate in this eternal act of justification by celebrating this Eucharist.

Christ linked us to his life of sacrifice by the Sacrament of the Eucharist. By partaking in the Eucharist, we accept the same friendship that he offered to the Twelve at the Last Supper. Without this Eucharist, there can be no full friendship with Christ in this world, because only in the Eucharist, do we enter the same place and time—the no-time of eternity— with Christ.

Without the Eucharist, a just God is hidden, justification is impeded, and social justice is denied an eternal ethic of life, thus reducing our vision of human justice to utilitarian or worldly calculations alone. By accepting an eternal dimension to human life, we grow to respect human life’s most subtle, most invisible, most vulnerable, and most dependent manifestations, and we thus can approach social justice in a total, wholistic way, not rejecting any dimension of humanity from our considerations, and therefore, from our love.

Great progress has been made since the Second Vatican Council in achieving a shared Christian understanding on justification. The historic Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church of 1999 affirmed that good works follow justification.

Now that so many historic theological difficulties have been resolved in such a spiritual and fruitful Declaration, and the Christian basis for good works has been reaffirmed, why not enter the door to Christ in the Eucharist? When such a gift of grace as the Eucharist has been given to us by Christ Himself, why refrain?

I therefore urge my readers who wish to know the just God, to be justified themselves, and to work for social justice, to meet Christ in the Eucharist, and to acknowledge his real and eternal presence. Who knows where He will lead you next.

It is not an accident that Catholic Worker co-founder Dorothy Day attended the Eucharist frequently, and spent many hours praying before the Divine Presence.

© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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A comment on the remarks of two Catholic Chicago judges

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

Much has been said and written about the recent comments of two prominent Catholic women, each a judge from Chicago, on their disappointment with Pope Benedict XVI and the Church’s handling of the sex-abuse scandal.

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, a former member of the National Review Board established by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to address the sex-abuse scandal, recently suggested that the Pope switch to a black cassock and don other than red shoes as an act of penance over the Church’s handling of the scandal.

Illinois Appellate Judge Sheila O’Brien wrote in the 8/4/10 Chicago Tribune a plea to “Excommunicate me, please,” out of her frustration with the Catholic Church over the abuse scandal.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Justice Burke on several occasions, a few being events of the former Reynold Hillenbrand Institute in Chicago. Chicagoans know that Justice Burke played an integral role years ago in the establishment of the Special Olympics, and that she is a very committed, talented, and special person. I do not recall meeting Judge O’Brien.

But as a Chicagoan, I must observe that it is rather contradictory for Chicago judges to be so very shocked at the Catholic Church, and to be generally silent on the long and jaded history of corruption in the very political party that benefited and advanced them almost every step of the way to their positions of prominence. I do not recall that these judges have called for the ward committeemen who slated them for election in exclusive sessions over the years to change their apparel, or to do penance for anything. Nor have these judges asked their political party to expel them out of embarrassment over their political party’s actions, or for that matter over their political party’s anti-life positions.

Indeed, political corruption is enabled, and government-reform factions appeased and kept within a winning voting coalition, when a few qualified judges like Justice Burke and Judge O’Brien are slated for judicial election along with former precinct captains and assorted other political hacks. For this corrupted judicial appointment arrangement to work, it is essential that qualified judicial candidates keep substantial silence about political corruption, and in some cases, the very means of their own selection to the bench.

I do agree that all of us Catholics should do penance, pray over, and work to end the sex-abuse scandal. But I also think that we Catholics have an obligation, if we work within one of the most corrupt political environments in the United States, to speak out about it on occasion.

The more silent one might feel constrained from speaking out about one’s job or one’s government, the more perfect one wants the Church to be.

Please see a classic article by journalist Abdon Pallasch on how Illinois and Chicago judges are slated for election. The slating of Justice Burke is described in the article.

Update:

On 8/11/10, I received a very cordial note from a person identifying herself as Judge O’Brien, who stated: “Just one note: I was not endorsed/slated by the Democratic party or any party in my run for public office. I ran against the Democratic party’s endorsed candidate.”

I thank the Judge for her kind note, and wish her well in her government reform efforts.

© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Aphorism XIX

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

For many years, I have wondered whether Christ’s Agony in the Garden included a vision of the future of the Church, and whether His knowledge of the future sins, scandals, betrayals, persecutions, and struggles of the Church constituted part of His Agony.

© Copyright 1969, 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Recalling the just war and Christian pacifism

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

The influential Catholic writer George Weigel recently revisited the just war question, critiquing the work of the late Roland Bainton on the history of Christian thought on war. Mr. Weigel cited a recent article in the Catholic quarterly journal Logos by theologian J. Daryl Charles.

Disputing Bainton’s three-part narrative of Christian thought on war from pacifism to just war to Crusade, Weigel turned to Charles to argue that early Christian writers were not univocally pacifist, and reconsidered the grounding of the contemporary Christian “presumption against war.”

Paul J. Griffiths also spoke to this presumption against war when we discussed the question of the war in Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002.

For a robust discussion of George Weigel’s article, see the First Things blog.

In reading these above texts, I returned to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, number 2308:

“All citizens and all governments are obliged to work for the avoidance of war.”

This catechetical imperative is, strictly speaking, not an intellectual or moral presumption against war as a single, stand-alone decision. Rather, it is a positive and comprehensive command to take action to avoid war. Such an obligation to act is much more than a presumption.

© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved

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