Ransom Notes: Who Asked You?

Although nobody asked for my opinion on these bits of news, I have a few things to say.

First.  Finally, the head of a major Christian denomination with a grain of sense!  The bleeding-heart-liberal Archbishop of Canterbury has informed the world that it is not racist to oppose mass migration. http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-35781613.  While calling upon England to do more than it is doing to help so-called Syrian so-called refugees, he said that it was "outrageous" to describe fears about the migrant crisis as racism.  Archbishop Welby is as leftwing as most English and North American bishops and ministers of the Anglican communion, but unlike too many of them, he has more than a drop of common sense and Christian charity toward his own people.

Second.  "Conservative" Catholics have been tweeting and bleating their dissatisfaction with the prankster in the Vatican.  A Reuter's Story quotes a number of them, including one Ross Douthat, a columnist with the New York Times.  (Since there have been no conservative columnists at the New York Times for decades, we have to suspect Mr. Douthat is the Catholic equivalent of David Brooks.)

Popes are like the weather--sometimes good, sometimes not-so-good, and sometimes they turn out to be Leo X.  We have to endure most of them, and, when a good one comes along, we should resist the temptation to adore him.  We can respect the office without necessarily admiring the man or endorsing his trendy opinions.  Catholics are supposed to believe in the Tradition, which means they are not looking for anything new from Saint Peter's successors.  The best we can hope for are Pontiffs who apply the old teachings to new challenges.  If they have bright ideas of their own, they will be forgotten as soon as the puff of smoke announces the selection of a new Pope.

Who is the last Pope to tell us something we did not already know?  My guess is that it was St. Peter.  Who was the last creative thinker on the chair of Peter?  My choice would be Gregory the Great,  a sometimes puzzling writer whose work are filled with insights.  I am not sure that it is even a good idea for modern Popes to think too much.  Their job is not to play at being philosophy professors or theology teachers.  I honor and salute the achievements of Popes like Pius IX and Leo XIII, who reorganized the defense of the Tradition in the 19th century, but when I am searching for truth in the Tradition I start at the beginning, first with the Scriptures, then go to Apostolic Fathers, and to the great doctors of the Church.   As a Catholic I can cheerfully accept or even endure the current occupant of the papal throne.  I shall not make the mistake of William Buckley and his NR gang, in their heading, "Mater si, magistra no," because I have no interest in the uninformed economic prejudices of either Paul VI or Francis I, but, at the same time,  I shall not make the mistake made by too many Catholic conservatives whose disappointment in a Pope's human frailties lead them into schism.  (By the way, I don't get upset with the schismatics either.)   Becoming a Christian, a Catholic, or a Pope is no guarantee of intelligence or even sanity.  We do what we can.

3) Has everyone seen the video of Ted Cruz's father giving his insane spin on the Old Testament to prove that son Ted is God's anointed instrument for despoiling the wicked of their wealth and enriching the faithful?  The footage includes the ravings of the mega-church pastor Larry Huch and sexy rock band girls jiggling their charms onstage.

Here is a simple question.  Can anyone explain how any of this has anything to do with Christianity?  Let me be frank for a change.  I doubt Ted Cruz is dumb enough to fall for this nonsense, but if he is, he should not be allowed into the criminal society of the US Senate, much less the White House.  A criminal yes, we are used to that, but a lunatic, no.   Whether he does or does not believe, Cruz's religious associations strike me as whackier than Mitt Romney's.  Give me the cheerful insouciance of Trump who claims to have eaten that wafer thing on many many occasions.

It is not just Cruz who is scary.  We have a country with tens of millions of these money-grubbing freaks who pretend that their cult meetings--based on 19th century speculations of ignorant preachers--are Christian.  I am not talking about Protestants--these zanies are as far from the mind of Luther, Calvin, and Cramner as they are from Thomas Aquinas.  As I watched Pastor Larry Huch--Hell-bent on outdoing the zany antics of Joel Osteen and Rick Warren--I could only wish for a return of the Inquisition.  Better no religion at all than this cult of greed and smugness!


Avatar photo

Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina

17 Responses

  1. Dot says:

    “Better no religion at all than this cult of greed and smugness!” Profiteers – selling Jesus and making a huge profit. Thank you for your opinions on “these bits of news.”

  2. Richie Alexei N. says:

    Russian Patriarch- KGB
    Canterbury – MI6
    Rome worse of all

  3. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    Dot, thanks. My remarks were a bit cranky, and I almost did not post them, but where would we be without cranks?

    Richie, I appreciate your comments but perhaps sentences would be more effective than sound-bites. Fortunately, we do not have to put our trust in princes, either the princes of the state or the princes of the Church.

  4. Richie Alexei N. says:

    Am Orthodox liturgy! “Put not your trust in princes” Very good. However, “Etxra eccelesium nulla salus” – Pope Eugene IV.

  5. Dot says:

    Mr. Alexei, Belief and trust in a First Cause of all creation rather than outside sources solves a lot of guess work and keeps it simple.

  6. Matthew Rarey says:

    An item from the While We’re At It section of the April issue of First Things:
    Headline: “Ted Cruz Recounts the Night He Met Jesus.”
    Comment by Fr. George Rutler, “Who picked up the cheque?”

  7. Matthew Rarey says:

    Pace Papa Cruz, I reckon this is the sermon cited by the Good Doctor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNa5w9js48s&feature=youtu.be

  8. Robert Reavis says:

    On Cruz — ” A criminal yes, we are used to that, but a lunatic, no.”

    Well, I think the jury is still out. When I watched Senator Cruz’s questioning of the Senator from Nebraska, Hegel, during his confirmation hearing who still carries the bullet holes in his body from service in Vietnam and then watched Cruz lecture Christian Patriarchs from the Holy Land on what they did not know about their own precarious and desperate situation, I figured him for another “smart winner” like the North Carolina prosecutor against the Duke Lacrosse team, a guy who would bear any burden, tell any whopper and hide any evidence for a minor political “win.” Yippee!! In times such as our own when such sophists, and God knows they are everywhere, are elevated above our ancient common sense in the face of obvious facts, I prefer the poor folks labeled as “cranks and crackpots” who naively point out our dear emperor has preferred nudity to clothes for some time now . Tom Fleming is neither a crank or a crackpot but even if he was a grumpy old man and nothing more, at least his indignation is directed against known quantities and bootleggers who have been peddling expensive cider for sour mash way too long and profiting from it at the expense of almost all of us.

  9. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    Robert, I don’t think I was sufficiently clear. I take it for granted that a certain element of criminality is included in the outfit of nearly every American senator of our time, but I wonder if it is safe to have a criminal who also subscribes to a Looney Tunes religious cult that justifies greed, oppression, and murder on the basis of their grotesque misreading of the Scriptures. The revulsion that Cruz inspired in me initially was instinctive–his smarmy pontifications on American greatness are only slightly less repulsive than Rubio’s–but as the campaign has worn on, Cruz makes it more and more clear that my initial revulsion was correct. In a Ted v. Hilary election, I should undoubtedly prefer Ted, if only for self interest, but I might not be able to bring myself to vote for someone whose cult membership could make him a very dangerous commander-in-chief. On the other hand, it would be naive to expect Cruz to be faithful to Pentacostalism any more than Jack Kennedy could be faithful to his Church.

  10. Andrew G Van Sant says:

    The Party is Over. I believe that Trump’s campaign and the Republican establishment’s (neoconservative) response has finally destroyed the party as it once existed. The likely result is that the Democrats will win the election regardless of who wins the nomination in both parties. I still believe the country is ungovernable and that it should be broken up into at least five separate countries.

  11. Ben says:

    AGVS is correct. Hillary will win and will not be able to govern the ungovernable; she will have come to do good and will indeed do very well [for herself]. But five separate countries will require five different sets of borders, language, and culture – good luck defining those…

  12. Dot says:

    AGVS and Ben are correct. Hillary will win the election. I think we are headed toward a one party system and the slide downhill will get steeper and quicker.

  13. Dot says:

    P.S. Five separate countries? Do we even have a country? I think we have an economy run by corporations and Wall Street.

  14. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    I don’t put much stock in political predictions, including my own. It is hard enough to predict the weather–much less global climate change–and the human element, as Aristotle points out, makes scientific analysis not only unreliable but inappropriate. Mr Van Sant’s scenario is certainly a likely one, but there are others. Firstly, the GOP leadership is planning a coup, which, if it succeeds, takes Trump off the ballot and replaces him with a blander candidate. Second, in a Trump v. Clinton contest, many conservative Republicans will initially plan to boycott, but Hilary may help them to change their minds. Their conversion might be hastened by Trump’s aggressive attacks on a lying thieving traitor who belongs in jail and not the White House. As Fats Waller liked to say, One never knows, do one?

    Dot, Mr. Van Sant’s point was precisely that we don’t have a country. Texas, on the other hand–with or without that North Texas currently known as Oklahoma–is a kind of country and so are some parts of the South. The situation is similar to what Peter Brimelow argued in his most important book that no one seems to have read (It’s a source of our friendship that I read, liked, and reviewed Patriot Games). Most of Canada is just an extension of the USA and could easily be absorbed. Quebec, by contrast, is a nation.

  15. Robert Reavis says:

    Dr. Fleming,
    Using your years of experience and current powers of observation, how much violence, if any, will the duopoly deploy to quell the current popular revolt against them?

  16. Vince Cornell says:

    The sad thing is, if the Republican Elites are successful in their attempt to steal the nomination from Trump, nothing much will really happen. There won’t be any riots in the streets, and I suspect half, if not more, of Trump’s supporters will wind up voting for Paul Ryan or Mitt Romney or Rubio or Kasich or whoever the Elites elect in order to “fight Clinton.”

    That the Republican Party showed its full disdain for conservatives and for the so-called Democratic process, will be met with some angry shouts but little else. Trump may be better than most suspected, but I doubt he’s willing to be the leader of an actual uprising. His fans, loud as they may get, in the majority are not looking to be lead to an actual uprising, either. Most appear to hope that Trump will turn out to be a crass version of Regan, as if his presidency represents some sort of high water mark.

    The sad reality of modern Americans is that we will sit on our hats, trundle off to vote for the non-Clinton candidate, grouse about it, and then go back to watching football or Fox News. National Review and the establishment punditry will explain how, obviously, everything that was done was perfectly legal and by the book. Others will cheer because, even if it was underhanded Trump would have been the worst disaster to ever befall the nation and putting him down by “whatever means necessary” is worth anything.

    No pitchforks. No torches. No bang. Just whimpers.

    I sometimes despair that nothing short of an absolute (and catastrophic) economic collapse or a complete armed assault by a sizable foreign power can pull us out of our stupor. I am not in any way looking for or desiring either of those things, but I don’t fancy our slow-motion national suicide, either.

  17. Allen Wilson says:

    Dr Fleming, your comment reminds me of an old 60’s secret agent type comedy. I cannot remember the name of the movie, but in the end, an American agent uncovers, of all things a Canadian plot against America. When, in disbelief, he asks a captured Canadian agent “why”, the Canadian agent just says, “How would you like it if your country were just a broken off piece of America?” Hilarious, but the manifest truth of it was obvious. I guess that’s why Canadians are so paranoid about absorption, and I don’t blame them. Just start talking about breaking the U.S. and Canada both up into smaller units, and the paranoia kicks in immediately. They can’t help but be suspicious. They can’t see any other end game but a plot to make Canada part of America. They must be awful glad we left the empire.