Dithering Toward Brutality



Of all the aspects of the Rite of Christian Initiation classes and discussions I’ve had — with one teaching or concept yielding beautifully to the next as though a flower were opening to reveal succeeding layers of transcendent wonder — very little has captivated me like the quest for a patron saint. My admittedly rudimentary understanding of Catholic doctrine and history tells me that the saints are not mere corpses whose visage here and there adorn stained glass. On the contrary, they are intercessors on our behalf, whose devotion offers an example to emulate, and whose wisdom offers guidance to those who will listen.

Very well then. I’ve been invited to choose one who will be, upon confirmation, my Patron Saint. The Catechism describes the term, “communion of saints,” as “…the communion of ‘holy persons’ (sancti) in Christ who ‘died for all,’ so that what each one does or suffers in and for Christ bears fruit for all.” In that regard, during my quest I’ve been struck by the writing and philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas who, among other things, further developed Just War Theory as espoused by St. Augustine.

In short, St. Thomas Aquinas held that a just war would meet three conditions: First, such a war would be waged only under the authority of a legally instituted entity, i.e., a sovereign or state. Second, the cause itself must be just, “…namely that those who are attacked should be attacked because they deserve it on account of some fault.” Third, Aquinas holds that those who wage a just war will have a, “rightful intention, so that they intend the advancement of good, or the avoidance of evil.”

But come at it from the opposite direction. If a given evil fast becomes impossible for a nation or a community of nations to avoid absent forceful action and the advancement of good; if those committing this evil deserve to be attacked by virtue of their deeds and intentions; is it, “just” to decline to wage such a war? Indeed, is decisive action an obligation in the cause of a just peace? Such a question was easy to answer on December 8, 1941, or on September 12, 2001, but for some reason the eloquent philosopher-king who now resides in the White House has stubbed his intellectual toe on the simple threshold of a cogent vocabulary.

In a trenchant post on the Member side of the house, Ricochet member Manny brilliantly contrasted the reaction of Pope Francis to that of President Obama on the simultaneous beheading of 21 Christians by the Islamic State. Responding to the knife-wielding spokes-savage on the beach whose barbaric video was titled, “A Message Signed With Blood To The Nation Of The Cross,” Pope Francis said:

They were killed simply for the fact that they were Christians. …The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out to be heard. It makes no difference whether they be Catholics, Orthodox, Copts or Protestants. They are Christians! Their blood is one and the same. Their blood confesses Christ.

Faced with the merciless slaughter of Christians, President Obama served up a plate of minced formality:

The United States condemns the despicable and cowardly murder of twenty-one Egyptian citizens in Libya by ISIL-affiliated terrorists. We offer our condolences to the families of the victims and our support to the Egyptian government and people as they grieve for their fellow citizens.

Then, the President, unable to coerce the word “Christian” from his tongue lest it frame the truth, collected his outrage neatly and went straightway to a golf course. For the Islamic State isn’t Islamic, he tells us, even as his State Department Spokes-Valley Girl lectured on Monday that, “We cannot win this war by killing them, we cannot kill our way out of this war.”

Well, retreat didn’t work out so well either, so what’s to stand in the way of these 7th Century throwbacks’ determination to slaughter their way to paradise? Outreach from NASA? Should John Kerry and James Taylor further explore the boundaries of platitudinous ineptitude with their latest reprisal of Dumb and Dumber? To what examples can these people point where bloodthirsty killers have been defeated by half-assed measures and weak-kneed statements specifying what we won’t do and when we will depart the field of battle? Was Hitler defeated by the Peace Corps?


Exasperated, we reach the unfortunate conclusion that ISIS will never merit the full vengeance and attention of President Obama unless it changes its name to Ted Cruz. Or Benjamin Netanyahu. Meanwhile, in the Iraqi town of al-Baghdadi, 45 people have been burned to death by the ostensibly non-Islamic Islamic State, while here in America, two men at a bus stop in Detroit were stabbed just today for the crime of not being Muslim and a church in Florida was set ablaze yesterday with the words “Allahu Akbar” spray-painted on the facility.

“I carry my chains for Christ, which are to me spiritual pearls, more prized than all the treasures of the world,” wrote St. Ignatius of Antioch while bound and chained in preparation for his eventual death in Rome in the year 107. As the lions attacked, he was heard to invoke the name of Jesus. Of the 21 Christians who were recently slaughtered, Pope Francis said, “Their only words were, ‘Jesus help me!'” These are serious times that demand more of a leader than perfunctory bromides for the deceased and retroactive rebukes to Christians for the Crusades, followed by more golf and fundraising.

“The highest manifestation of life consists in this; that a being governs its own actions,” wrote St. Thomas Aquinas. “A thing which is always subject to the direction of another is somewhat of a dead thing,” he added. America under Barrack Obama has ceded both power and sovereignty to those who wish her ill. As our allies grow detached and our enemies grow stronger while our erstwhile Commander-in-Chief parties, the words of Belloc again ring ominously:

We sit by and watch the barbarian. We tolerate him in the long stretches of peace, we are not afraid. We are tickled by his irreverence; his comic inversion of our old certitudes and our fixed creeds refreshes us; we laugh. But as we laugh we are watched by large and awful faces from beyond, and on these faces there are no smiles.

There are 23 comments.

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  1. Devereaux Inactive

    Speak the truth, Brother!

    • #1
  2. user_353507 Member

    Shout it from the housetops, Dave!

    • #2
  3. Nitwit MN Inactive
    Nitwit MN

    I just can’t come to terms that a government of the United States of America is conducting itself like this.

    • #3
  4. user_86050 Inactive

    Does it strike anyone else odd that this administration clings to a justification that they don’t have to do anything about ISIS because ISIS isn’t an “existential threat?”

    Unless I’m misreading their public statements, from both Obama and his State Department Valley Girls (like, we should give them jobs, like you know?) and Susan Rice, they’ve been pushing the line that we should all relax and not over-react because after all, ISIS isn’t an existential threat.

    Which is a little like saying that we shouldn’t worry about Al Capone; he’s only threatening to kill Dad and one of our sisters, it’s not like he’s trying to kill the whole family, sheesh!

    The obvious conclusion is that we don’t want to go to full-scale war. Fine, but that doesn’t justify doing nothing at all. We can skip over the part about Obama pulling out of Iraq and blaming the rise of ISIS on his feckless anti-war ideology – he’s left us with no leverage or tools of diplomacy at all. But we have to do something about ISIS, and if war is the only alternative that Obama has left us, then it becomes a gut check on Obama’s commitment to individual American lives. Or is he willing to lose a few Christians rather than risk action?

    • #4
  5. user_1938 Member

    Dave Carter: “The highest manifestation of life consists in this; that a being governs its own actions,” wrote St. Thomas Aquinas. “A thing which is always subject to the direction of another is somewhat of a dead thing,” he added. America, under Barrack Obama, has ceded both power and sovereignty to those who wish her ill.

    That’s an insightful reference in combination with Just War theory, Dave. God is the Prime Mover. Lifeless objects move only by external forces. Human beings are created to be movers like God. A nation which will not move except when acted upon has elected to be lifeless. Life is action.

    At the heart of Christianity is the professed belief that we serve ourselves best by serving others. America was most powerful when we exerted that power (militant, economic, artistic) for the benefit of all. Our future was brightest when we cared about the futures of our neighbors. Government is not our only means of helping. But when war is necessary, then government is the only sufficient means.

    • #5
  6. Jackal Inactive

    Dave Carter:

    We sit by and watch the bavarian.

    I thought this was a Hitler reference at first.  Barbarian makes sense too though.

    • #6
  7. user_385039 Inactive

    The Administration brings to mind a description given by CS Lewis when he wrote about “men without chests”.  Having voided out the moral law which commands truth, they have constituted another law, a law of their own making, in which truth must be avoided at all costs.  To be sure, there are a lot of people who are drawn to the new position because they believe it serves them better than the truth served them.  (Assuredly it gives them cover that they did not previously have.)

    When the Jews were killed in France, the Administration could not admit it was Jews being targeted.

    When the Copts were killed in Libya, the Administration could not admit it was Christians being targeted.

    We elected a man familiar with avoiding the truth and we’re now suspicious that he is incapable of recognizing it, and assuredly incapable of expressing it.  His problem goes way back, long before he ever ran for office, and once he was picked, the media savants who want this kind of thing ran interference for him.  His real opinions and his real actions were made as invisible as possible.  The Oracle from Chicago was guilty of nothing.  He arrived without a past.  He imitated the demi-gods in his oratory and in his actions.

    Now finally he is falling from grace.  The cover up of his lies is being ripped open before our faces.  Too bad it took so long.  A press thought of as the fourth estate has largely gone off the rails.  It is now an unpaid advertisement serving its favorite lie while licking the toes of the Oracle.

    • #7
  8. user_385039 Inactive

    One more thing of greater importance than the current administration: A man will associate his life with a holy servant of God by picking a patron saint.  There are no wrong decisions at this level, just recognitions that some more clearly fit the requestor’s life and thought than do others.

    Welcome aboard, Dave.

    I assume that you’ll join us on Easter.


    • #8
  9. Mama Toad Member
    Mama Toad

    Dave, it warms my heart to hear that the RCIA program is feeding your soul so well.

    HAve you chosen St. Thomas Aquinas as your patron saint? (or, did he choose you?)

    All you holy men and women of God, pray for us!

    • #9
  10. user_1134414 Member

    Great bow tie.  let’s just start calling him: Mr. Dithers

    • #10
  11. DocJay Inactive

    Nice.  Keep at it Dave.

    • #11
  12. Dave Carter Podcaster
    Dave Carter

    Yes sir, Donald Todd. It will be at Easter, and I’m very much looking forward to it. Apologies for not box quoting you, if that’s the right term. Doesn’t work on my iPhone for some reason.

    • #12
  13. Mama Toad Member
    Mama Toad

    I kind of feel like, just as it is possible to have a patron saint who helps you to model your life correctly on Christ’s, it might be possible for some to look to Nero for inspiration… is that what your illustration is trying to show?

    And speaking of illustrations, did all of you see Roman Genn’s deadly image of Vladimir Putin the shirtless thug beating the crap out of a sweet little Ukrainian Maidan dancer while our president stands by and files his nails in the latest National Review? Makes it worth the price of the magazine…

    • #13
  14. Dave Carter Podcaster
    Dave Carter

    Mama Toad, they have been very accommodating at our church, doing one on one RCIA for me since my schedule is so off the charts unpredictable. I remember the first Mass I attended with Shelley, and I remarked to her that it was a buffet for he soul, predicated on a belief that miracles abound, with every item and segment of the Mass overflowing with meaning. And the reading I’ve done since then and continue to do is simply incredible. It really is a feast for the spirit.

    • #14
  15. Mama Toad Member
    Mama Toad

    You’re giving me chills. Blessings to you this Lent!

    • #15
  16. Max Knots Member
    Max Knots

    Welcome. I have missed you and your inspiring writing. Semper Fi.

    • #16
  17. Nanda Panjandrum Member
    Nanda Panjandrum

    Dave, you are a poet-prophet among us…Thank you and bless your Easter-ward journey!  I agree with Mama Toad: St. Thomas Aquinas it is…Btw, have you read Chesterton’s biography of the Seraphic Doctor, called The Dumb Ox?  (I think St. Thomas would’ve enjoyed some gumbo.)

    • #17
  18. Dave Carter Podcaster
    Dave Carter

    Can’t say that I’ve read that, Nanda. But I will. And thank you!

    • #18
  19. Grendel Member

    Welcome, Dave.  My wife took three runs at RCIA before it took, which indicates what a refulgent example I had been for 20-some years.

    The GKC bio of Thomas Aquinas is GKC-Aquinas.  It’s an inexpensive and short paperback.

    Patron saints can be a dicey business.  I picked Francis of Assisi for my Confirmation name, because of the animals, and at 12 I wanted to be forest ranger. You have the advantage of making your choice from a more stable personality.  I’ve never been happy with Martin of Tours as the patron of soldiers.  He was a doughty and fearless bishop, but not much of a soldier.

    • #19
  20. Michael S Inactive
    Michael S

    As always, beautifully written.

    • #20
  21. Dave Carter Podcaster
    Dave Carter

    Grendel:Welcome, Dave. My wife took three runs at RCIA before it took, which indicates what a refulgent example I had been for 20-some years.

    The GKC bio of Thomas Aquinas is GKC-Aquinas. It’s an inexpensive and short paperback.

    Patron saints can be a dicey business. I picked Francis of Assisi for my Confirmation name, because of the animals, and at 12 I wanted to be forest ranger. You have the advantage of making your choice from a more stable personality. I’ve never been happy with Martin of Tours as the patron of soldiers. He was a doughty and fearless bishop, but not much of a soldier.

    Just bought it on iBooks so I can read it on the go.  Thank you!!

    • #21
  22. user_233532 Thatcher

    I read the Chesterton bio on my iPad– just looked it up for Amazon kindle. Chesterton is great, and the book is a feast.

    (sorry, don’t know how to do this as a simple link)

    • #22
  23. user_233532 Thatcher

    and sorry– your reply was posted while I was looking for the link!

    • #23

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