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Friday, September 30, 2005

Bennett, Eugenics and Eucharist

Bill Bennett has committed the horrendous crime of agreeing with professors from Stanford university and the University of Chicago. After all, it was only six years ago that Dr. John J. Donohue 3rd of Stanford Law School and Dr. Steven D. Levitt of the University of Chicago publicly argued that the high percentage of abortions in the 1970’s was responsible for the drop in crime in the 1990’s. Dr. Levitt, it may be recalled, was the winner of John Bates Clark award for the best economist under the age of 40.

The Wall Street Journal even ran a book review by economist Steven E. Landsburg which praised Levitt for "daring to address the question...of whether the effect on crime rates is a sufficient reason to legalize abortion."

So, Bennett's thesis is neither remarkably new nor remarkably different from that advocated by abortion supporters and population control advocates for decades: get rid of poor people and the world would be better off. The strong liberal support for population control programs, contraceptive distribution and institutionalizing abortion in the developing world is built on essentially Levitt’s idea. Indeed, Levitt’s statistical work was clearly intended to drum up support for a pre-existing agenda.

So why are luminaries like Nancy Pelosi shedding tears over the fact that Bill Bennett remarked on an idea she already promotes? She has long been an advocate of international population control, which generally translates into making sure that fewer black people are conceived and/or born. Why advocate for this?

Well, we have limited resources, you see. We don’t want other people being born and begging us for food or clothes. Worse, they may simply take our food and clothes. The only way to stop this from happening is to make sure they never get born to begin with.

The entire international family planning system is built on the idea that being born black or poor is in itself a crime. If poverty is itself criminal – and all the best socialists assure us that it is – then contraception and abortion are solutions that address the root cause of crime.

So while Bennett is under assault for saying that aborting blacks reduces crime, one is forced to wonder if the real basis for the latest ululation is the liberal fear that the Republicans intend to take over one of the Democrat's own party planks.

The liberals assaulting Bennett are clearly inconsistent. They embrace the elimination of black people through international family planning initiatives. Then they decry anything they choose to define as "racism" in order to win votes from black constituents. But they certainly don't have a monopoly on inconsistency.

The author of The Book of Virtues clearly buys into the liberal idea that poverty causes crime. He may simultaneously insist that we can't kill people pre-emptively, but it is the dissonance in his worldview which is attracting so much attention.

Like his opponents, Bennett is clearly inconsistent. After all, he clearly believes both that the individual is responsible for creating his own future and aborting certain kinds of individuals pre-emptively will reduce crime.

That is, he embraces the spiritual supremacy of a person's own will in order to appeal to the religious segment of the population. Then he embraces a version of science which insists that human beings are just automata that do not possess meaningful spiritual qualities. By endorsing this version of science, he seeks to appear "cutting edge" to the empiricists among us.

The Nancy Pelosi's of the world cry over lack of medical care for black infants in America but support the abortion of black infants in both the US and abroad. The Bill Bennett's of the world try to hold onto a version of science whose flawed understanding of the human person is in direct conflict with the reality of what it means to be made in the image and likeness of God.

Many people attack the idea of God because of Judeo-Christian Scriptures. They see the evil perpetrated by our spiritual forebears, the rapes, the murders, the mass slaughter and think Scripture is in some way advocating rape, murder or mass slaughter as a way of life. They do not realize that Scripture does not condone these acts - it merely records that these things happened. "Every man did as he judged best."

Science is the same. It cannot bless what happens or prescribe what should happen, it can only record what has happened. When we treat science as Scripture, we end up with eugenics instead of eucharist.

Monday, September 26, 2005

News Catches Up with Commentary

As I've noted over the last few weeks, the MSM histrionics over the Superdome and Convention Center situations seemed unwarranted by the facts. They kept telling us that the situation was essentially pure ultra-violent chaos. Now, reports are surfacing that most of what the MSM told us concerning the situation was a lie.

The report of a rape-murder was a lie.
The report of stabbing deaths was a lie.
Only 6 bodies were found at the Superdome, only 4 at the Convention Center.
As I pointed out earlier, this indicates a death toll so low that it doesn't even count as an emergency according to Harvard University experts.

Now, does this mean New Orleans wasn't a disaster?
Of course not - it's a ghost town now.
But it would appear that the media played all the politicians on both sides of the fence.

Were the governor and the mayor incompetent?
They sure looked it from the way they handled the situation.
Was George W. Bush incompetent?
He declared the Gulf a disaster area 24 hours BEFORE Katrina even hit and had response teams on the ground faster than any previous natural disaster has ever seen.

Did people die because of the incompetence of all the politicians involved?
Possibly - but you can't prove it by the number of corpses at the Superdome or the Convention Center.

The media sold a lot of papers and a lot of commercials by lying about the situation on the ground. The media elites deliberately manufactured false impressions so that they got their filthy lucre and everyone else - Republican, Democrat, independent, whoever - twirled on their stick.

There's always someone calling for heads to roll when a defense contractor overcharges for a bolt, a nut or a screw. MSM, however, creates false news so they can overcharge for their ads and we aren't supposed to notice.

The phrase "the press" is supposed to denote the free exchange of information. It is in that context that "freedom of the press" is a right enshrined in the Constitution, but we don't have any presses in the MSM - we have only lying charlatans left. If we are required to have the vitamin and mineral content of our food listed on the side label, perhaps we should require the press to list the percentage of truth available in each issue of their papers, with full prosecution permitted for any deviation from the asserted content. After all, insofar as it doesn't transmit the truth, it isn't a press, is it?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

House of Martyrs

When Halloween rolls around, everyone puts up a “House of Terror” with scenes from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, one of the Friday the 13th movies or some equally violent and bloody events drawn from history and fiction. There might be a way to keep the format but change the message.

Part of the terror lies in the fact that these scenes of death and destruction are built around senseless violence, violence that seems unredeemable. But there are, throughout history, myriad examples of violence that served as a means of redemption.

Instead of creating a House of Terror, why not create a House of Martyrs, commemorating people who died for love of Christ? Each scene in the house could depict the violent death of one or more of the saints, with the last scene of the Crucifixion.

Here are links to descriptions of some martyrs to start you off. I will add more as readers suggest them.

Martyrs in Scripture
John the Baptist, beheaded (Gospels)
St Stephen, stoned to death (Acts 7)
James - beheaded (Acts 12

Apostolic martyrdom
Mark died in Alexandria, Egypt, after being dragged by horses through the streets until he was dead.
John faced martyrdom when he was boiled in a huge basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution in Rome. However, he was miraculously delivered from death. John was then sentenced to the mines on the prison island of Patmos. He wrote his prophetic Book of Revelation on Patmos. The apostle John was later freed and returned to serve as Bishop of Edessa in modern Turkey. He died as an old man, the only apostle to die peacefully.
Peter was crucified upside down on an x-shaped cross, according to church tradition because he told his tormentors that he felt unworthy to die in the same way that Jesus Christ had died.
Bartholomew, also know as Nathanael, was a missionary to Asia. He witnessed to our Lord in present day Turkey. Bartholomew was martyred for his preaching in Armenia when he was flayed to death by a whip.
Andrew was crucified on an x-shaped cross in Patras, Greece. After being whipped severely by seven soldiers they tied his body to the cross with cords to prolong his agony. His followers reported that, when he was led toward the cross, Andrew saluted it in these words: "I have long desired and expected this happy hour. The cross has been consecrated by the body of Christ hanging on it." He continued to preach to his tormentors for two days until he expired.

The Holocaust

Example: Maximilian Kolbe – starved along with nine other men, he finally had to be killed with an injection of carbolic acid.

Martyrs of Pagan Rome
Examples: St. Ignatius of Antioch – eaten by lions
Martyrdom of Polycarp – attempted burning to death, eventually speared to death, his blood put out the flames of the pyre.
St. Lawrence - grilled on a griddle. Reported to have told his torturers, "Turn me over. I'm done on this side."
St. Sebastian - shot with arrows and beaten to death.

The English Reformation
Example: Thomas More and Cardinal John Fisher – heads cut off for refusing to acknowledge Henry VIII’s claim that his marriage was not valid.
Margaret Clitherow – pregnant, she was pressed to death for having allowed Masses in her house.

Japanese martyrs
Adults and children crucified

Filipino martyrs
Hung upside in a pit

Jesuit Martyrs in North America
Examples: Isaac Jogues - knifed and tomahawked to death
John de Brebeuf - burned with glowing embers in every part of his body, even his eyes.

French Revolution
Example: 16 nuns beheaded for the Faith

Uganda Martyrs
Example: Charles Lwanga and companions were burned alive for refusing the homosexual advances of the king.

Other Martyrs
Example: Lucy – eyes torn out and attempted burning alive, finally stabbed with a dagger.
Maria Goretti – rapist murdered her for fighting him and telling him it was a sin.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Was Karl Marx Right?

A recent series of e-mails from a self-described “pro-life feminist” demonstrated how badly even well-intentioned people understand the basics of human life and interaction. Though a graduate of an orthodox Catholic school, Franciscan University, she was apparently uncontaminated by its teaching.

For instance, the woman took issue on several levels with homeschooling. She asserted a homeschooled child could never be as well-taught as someone instructed by a professional teacher. This was especially true in Florida, she said, a state with “real standards.” She felt homeschooling was “demeaning” by being forced to stay home with her children. She insisted she would never obey her husband or submit to his authority.

Instead, she intended to get her doctorate in education and work at a job somewhere, competing with men for the most important thing: money.

The immensity of her errors were breathtaking. They are worth examining in detail simply for the instruction they provide.

Completely oblivious to the fact that homeschooled children do as well or better than their public school counterparts in every area, she did not realize that Catholic parents are required to teach their own children about the Catholic Faith. Spiritual instruction cannot be left up to a school or external agent.

A parent is not simply one who gives biological life – s/he is one who gives spiritual life by introducing the child to the God who is the source of life. To the extent a biological parent does not perform the spiritual task, that parent is not fully a parent.

Similarly, she seemed unaware that authority derives from service. To the extent that anyone does not serve, that person has no authority. Thus, when Scripture commands submission to authority, it assumes that the authority in question is serving the needs of the one submitting. If that is not happening, no submission is required. God has authority over us in part because He answers our every need.

We all instinctively know this relationship between authority and service exists. President Bush’s authority was called into question in the New Orleans crisis precisely because he was accused of not having served the people of that city well. The local government of New Orleans stands accused of precisely the same offence. To the extent that a man does not serve his wife, he has no authority over her, and to the extent that she does not serve him, she has no authority over him.

But the most interesting error was the last one: career and money. Although she called herself a feminist, she clearly saw the male career path as the superior choice. Money, power in business circles, careerism: these were her highest goals. In short, this “feminist” put the pursuit of wealth above her relationship with her own future children.

Karl Marx held that capitalism, the pursuit of wealth, led inexorably to atheism. Now, he also thought it would inexorably lead to communism, but that was primarily because he misunderstood one aspect of human nature. He agreed with Rousseau that mankind does not suffer from original sin, thus, he thought everyone would eventually learn to share everything in common.

As it happens, this is not the case. Because we are all greedy bastards, that is, because we suffer from original sin, we kill each other in order to acquire things. But the acquisition of things at the expense of building relationships with one another does most assuredly lead to atheism.

This was the misunderstanding our “pro-life feminist” held. Because she was a capitalist, she held the mistaken belief that life was about acquiring things. Thus, her “feminism” necessarily meant repudiating children, even repudiating her own womb. She necessarily undervalued women’s work because it does not revolve around acquiring things, it revolves instead around helping small people develop into adults.

As I pointed out to her, she held onto a false feminism. She wanted to compete with men in the business world because she was instinctively afraid that she was not good enough to compete with women in the creation of a good home.

As has been noted previously, while capitalism is certainly superior to most alternatives, it does have its own inherent excesses to contend with. In short, while there are certain mistakes that only a communist could make, there are other mistakes that only a capitalist could make. This young woman demonstrated that truth in spades.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Katrina Incentive

I want to thank those who have donated cases of books to the Katrina effort so far.

As a way of saying showing our appreciation for your generosity, Bridegroom Press will provide a special gift to everyone who has donated or will donate a case of books to Katrina victims: premium access to

This site is normally available only to retail stores and wholesalers, but a free membership through the end of the year will be made available to all donors.

Membership is by application and approval - once you have donated, you can go to the discounts site and create a discount store login. That login will be cleared for entry into the store within 24 hours of its creation. The access will afford you a 20% discount on all products (minimum orders and shipping still apply).

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Katrina Aid

We have just been informed that St. Vincent de Paul society in Houston is in need of Catholic materials for the victims of the Katrina Hurricane. As you know, over 30% of the New Orleans population was Catholic. There is a great need to help these people in their time of loss. Time hangs especially heavily on their hands since they have no job to go to and nothing to do. The St. Vincent de Paul society is specifically requesting books that deal with grief, pain and loss, along with rosaries, medals, Bibles, and similar items.

In response to this plea, Bridegroom Press is donating nearly $2600 worth of books to the Houston organization. Unfortunately, this is just a drop in the bucket compared to the number of people being cared for. Given our situation, we cannot make a greater donation at this time.

If any of you would like to purchase a case of books to send to the St. Vincent de Paul society in Houston, you can do so. Simply click here. A case of books will be sent to the Houston society in your name and Bridegroom Press will send an invoice and letter to you acknowledging the donation and where it was sent. The packing slip for the box sent to Houston will also contain your contact information so that the Houston society can send you a receipt.

You will be sending one case (128 copies) of Effective Habits of the Five People You Meet In Heaven. This book discusses death, pain, grief and loss from the Catholic perspective. It also discusses the life of virtue and how to follow it.

Thank you for your support.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Living in a Fish Bowl

As the old saying goes, “Man’s best friend is a wall.”

Everyone has commented on the violence in the Superdome, but no one has thought about why it seemed so bad. Because it isn’t clear the violence was really anything out of the ordinary for any city in the nation.

Consider the facts: the New York Times and CNN both tell us the same thing: 10 people died at the Superdome, 24 died at the convention center.

The population of the Superdome was approximately 24,000, a good-sized town in the Midwest. That death rate works out to less than one death per 10,000 per day. The population at the convention center was 25,000, which works out to two deaths per 10,000 per day.

But we know something else about this population. "Two-thirds of the 24,000 people huddled inside [the Superdome] were women, children or elderly, and many were infirm, said Lonnie C. Swain, an assistant police superintendent overseeing the 90 policemen who patrolled the facility with 300 troops from the Louisiana National Guard."

Now, ask any demographer, and discover that most deaths in a population occur in children, especially those under age one, and in the aged. This population was heavily skewed towards the kind of people most likely to die.

Further, according to the New York Times, most did not die of violence, they died on the last day as the physical exertion of walking in the heat while insufficiently hydrated killed them.

"By the time the last buses arrived on Saturday, [New Orleans assistant police chief Swain] said, some children were so dehydrated that guardsmen had to carry them out, and several adults died while walking to the buses. State officials said yesterday that a total of 10 people died in the Superdome."

According to this Harvard study the death rate at the Superdome would have had to be 50% higher just to constitute an emergency, "The term 'complex emergency' describes a situation in which a large civilian population is affected by a combination of war, civil strife, food shortages, and population displacements. Although there are a few exceptions, complex emergencies are characterized by substantially elevated mortality rates, especially in the acute phase. An arbitrary threshold, above which an emergency is said to exist, has been established at one death per 10,000 people per day, or about three per 1000 per month. This rate is approximately two to four times the baseline rate of mortality in developing countries. (This threshold is probably less relevant in developed countries, where baseline mortality levels are considerably lower.)"

For a population of 24,000, that means the Superdome would have had to generate 15 corpses in five days for the situation to be considered an emergency. And even that number doesn't take into account that this population was skewed, with an unusually high proportion of children and elderly. The convention center situation, where the death rate was twice as high, was actually much worse, but also got much less coverage. It wasn't as photogenic.

But the real question is this: why did the people in the Superdome perceive the crime rate as being unconscionably high? After all, we’re talking about a population that tolerates a murder rate ten times higher than New York City’s. This population knows and permits crime rates that would make other cities blanch.

The difference is simply this: for five days, the people of New Orleans lived in a literal fish bowl. All of the walls were gone. They couldn’t hide inside their apartment buildings or houses and pretend nothing bad was going on.

For five days, every person in this literal city of 24,000 saw the flash of every gun shot, heard the cries of every beaten man and the screams of every raped woman in an echoing amphitheater where nothing could be ignored or evaded.

They had to watch - not what they had become - but what they had always been. They had to come face to face with the loss not only of their possessions, but of their illusions about themselves. They could no longer pretend they were good people who would do the right thing. They had to actually do the right thing.

And some of them did respond to the injustices. For instance, we know a man caught raping a young girl to death was himself beaten to death by the Superdome citizens.

We could equivocate about vigilante justice, but the state has always had the right to mete out the death penalty, and in a situation where there is no place to put an unrepentant criminal, it is hard to say the citizens of this temporary city did the wrong thing.

The press would have us write off the Superdome crowd as animals, but the case is not so cut and dried. If we had put 24,000 New Yorkers into a similar fishbowl after 9/11, would it have turned out any differently? How many of us would like to be stripped of all we own and sit in a huge circle with 24,000 fellow citizens of our fair city? For five days? With no walls to hide behind?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Muslim Authority

The Quran calls Jews, Christians and Muslims “People of the Book.” It is an appropriate title, and in more ways than Muslims might like.

I mention this because several Muslims recently wrote me concerning a column that’s almost nine months old, Death Threats from Muslims.

Of the group, two Muslims wrote to apologize for the stupidity of the man who is praying for my death from virulent cancer (p.s. So far, Allah isn’t coming through for you on that one. Sorry, Khalid). They both insisted that he showed ignorance of true Islamic teachings and he did not look hard enough for reliable sources. They both went on to chastise me for having believed him. I should not trust Khalid’s interpretations, they said, I should trust theirs.

Really? How do I know that? Who should I trust? Who has the power to authoritatively interpret the Quran? After long discussions with Muslims on the subject, that answer is obvious. No one.

Near the end of his life, Martin Luther observed, "There was a time when there was one Pope on the seven hills of Rome, but now there are seven popes on every dunghill in Germany.” Muslims have the same problem Luther had: when no one is the Pope, everybody is.

It is a tenet of Islam that Mohammed is the last prophet. That creates an enormous problem.

You see, he didn’t authorize anyone to collect his sayings together during his lifetime into the book we now have, the Quran. The Quran is not a book that Mohammed put together nor did he say it had to be put together. So who did it and on what authority did they do it?

Worse, Mohammed didn’t authorize anyone to authoritatively interpret his visions and sayings. And he didn’t authorize a specific successor to his post.

In fact, all he said was that the next leader of Islam should be someone close to him. Our only witness to this is the people close to him. As one might imagine, this created problems.

Mohammed’s death was the direct cause of the first and deepest schism within Islam: the break between Sunnis and Shiites. Sunnis believe one follower, Abu Bakr, was Mohammed’s true successor, Shiites believe a different follower, Ali ibn Abi Talib, was.

Everyone saw the problem. None of the Companions were prophets, they could easily have misunderstood or mis-remembered what the Prophet said or did and no one agreed on who should lead.

Within thirty years, Islam was in a civil war that resulted in a three-way split amongst the followers of the dead Prophet. The splits have only grown in size and vigor since then.

Today, it’s simply not possible to claim that anyone knows what true Islam is. In Saudi Arabia, for instance, anyone who isn’t Wahabbi Islam can be jailed; certain Islamic sects are even put to death for daring to carry their own literature in that kingdom.

Mohammed himself predicted this would happen. One of the Hadiths, the sayings of the Prophet, is quite blunt: “Jews divided into 71 sects, Christians divided into 72 sects, and the Muslim nation will divide into 73 sects of whom all will be in hellfire except for one.”

So the first question to ask any Muslim who tries to tell you of the wonders of Islam is this: “Are you of the true sect of Islam, or one of the 72 out of 73 sects that will be in hellfire? If you are of the true sect of Islam, how do you and I know this?” Then watch them sputter.

Like Protestants, evangelicals and fundamentalists, Muslims have only the Book. They have no definitive way of knowing exactly how the Book should be read. Which passages should get what emphasis in the varying circumstances of life? No one knows. There is no Caliph who can adjudicate any dispute that arises over interpretation. There are only hordes of competing scholars who each put forward a different understanding: seven popes on every dunghill in Germany and the Middle East.

Now, as the Prophet say "differences among scholars is a mercy." Thus, scholars who reject the authority of the Quran are a mercy from Allah.

When I pointed all of this out, the Muslims struck back. “We have no clear line of authority, but we don’t need it. After all, where is your authority to read your Scripture?” I laughed out loud when I saw the question. That was easy.

Christ is the apostle sent from the Father (Heb 3:1). He appointed twelve apostles and gave them all authority in heaven and on earth (John 20:21). He gave them the very authority of God, even unto the authority to forgive sins. They appointed successors through the laying on of hands (Acts 14), and those successors in turn appointed successors through the laying on of hands. Each generation of apostles created through the laying on of hands had “all authority.” (1 Tim 4:14, Titus 2:15). Even Paul was not called an apostle until after the Church laid hands on him (Acts 13:1-3), and none of his speeches were recorded in Acts of the Apostles until after that event. After all, he wasn’t an apostle until the Church had consecrated him as one.

Together, the apostolic successors have the authority to determine how Scripture is to be understood. Apostolic succession continues today, for neither Scripture nor the history of the Church shows it ever having ended. Christianity is unique in having a clearly established line of authoritative succession, each apostle appointing his successors. Today, some Christians would like to pretend that this line does not exist, but it does, as both Scripture and history witness. The head of the apostles resides in Rome, Benedict XVI.

When all Christians recognize this, Islam will be destroyed.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


A new free movie series called "Masterpiece Mysteries" is now available for download at

The series is based on a talk I gave over a year ago at a Michigan conference. The movie files are in Windows Media format and are not trivial in size (between 20 and 60 MB), but they will walk you through how to read the symbols present in several masterpieces of medieval and Renaissance artwork.

Please tell anyone who might be interested in them.


Monday, September 05, 2005

Superdome Death Toll

CNN reports that 10 bodies were found in the now-empty Superdome.

This is wildly at odds with what the news organizations told us.

After all, there was, at one point, nearly 23,000 refugees at the Superdome. Put another way, the Superdome held a population the size of a small city. Worse, that population was disproportionately old, poor, sick and disabled - the people who could not leave New Orleans. That is, the Superdome population was that remnant of the greater New Orleans population most likely to be killed by adverse circumstances.

But despite the most adverse circumstances imaginable, only ten people were found dead over the course of five days. We know at least one of these dead was a suicide, and two more were the result of a rape - a young girl raped and killed, her murderer himself killed shortly afterwards by the enraged crowd.

Before CNN's report, it seemed distinctly odd that news reports kept telling us of the corpses strewn around the Dome, but their photos and descriptions were always of the same three bodies: a disabled grandmother in a wheelchair, a man on a chaise lounge and a man on a blanket in the median.

Now we know why.

Ten deaths in five days in an old, disabled population of 23,000?
All things considered, that's pretty darned good.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

New Orleans' Baptism

According to nearly everyone, New Orleans got nailed because of sin. This isn’t just the opinion of the evangelicals. It is the opinion of atheistic liberals.

European papers assert Katrina was the punishment the US received for the sin of failing to sign onto the Kyoto accord. Robert Kennedy Jr. wrote a column saying Katrina happened as a result of and punishment for Gov Barber's ( R-MS) work against the Kyoto Treaty. Other American Democrats say the sinner was President Bush. He sinned by sending troops to Iraq instead of spending the money on flood control measures in New Orleans.

Islamic militants believe Katrina was Allah’s punishment for the Iraq war. Others suggest the hurricane was God's punishment on the U.S. for cooperating in the removal of Jews from the Gaza strip.

A Catholic pointed out four years ago that Galveston, on the other side of the bay, was destroyed by a category-four hurricane that arrived in 1900 after the city hosted a Mardi Gras with a costume theme of "Beelzebub and the Devils." Ryan Lee points out that Katrina – the name means “pure” – struck New Orleans on the feast of the beheading of John the Baptist, just two days before the scheduled start of the 34th annual Southern Decadence festival, a six-day public homosexual orgy that New Orleans was supposed to host from August 31 to September 5th. The Baptist, you will remember, was beheaded for having told the king to stop debauching himself with his brother’s wife.

So, no matter who you ask, everyone seems to agree that New Orleans had it coming. The primary difference between all of these commentators is why. The Christians think New Orleans got slammed because the inhabitants of the city sinned. The atheists, pagans and Muslims think New Orleans got slammed because people outside of New Orleans sinned.

In a way, they are both right. As I pointed out in the essay on the Indian Ocean tsunami nine months ago, God doesn’t cause evil. He permits us to cause it, if we insist upon it. Grace empowers the world. If we insist on removing grace, if we insist on ordering God out of our world, then our world will fall apart.

For an atheist, for someone who sees politics as their whole world, the reign of an evangelical Christian who wreaks war upon anti-Christian Muslims and refuses to sign onto Mother Earth protection is already a world falling apart. New Orleans is just a finely-tuned example of how bad it is.

For Christians who see one out of three children in the nation murdered in the womb, homosexuality constantly promoted, and debauchery on every television show, it is also a world already falling apart.

No matter who we are, New Orleans isn’t really a surprise. It is what we knew was coming, because we all know that things are terribly wrong. We may not agree on how these things are wrong, but we knew in the back of our minds that something like this had to happen.

On September 11th, two buildings fell and 3000 died. It was a shock if only because we had grown so blind to our own injustices. Since that day, Americans have gone through a long period of self-examination, trying to discover what drove that event. No matter what answer the various commentators have arrived at, the self-examination has made us aware of moral problems in our nation that are obvious now in a way that simply wasn’t true four years ago.

This week we haven’t just lost two buildings. We’ve lost an entire city. Where thousands were homeless, now millions are. What took months to clean up before will take years now.

Revelation is like that. God reveals slowly, allowing us time to reflect and adjust. Four years ago, two towers were taken. This week, a city has been taken. What else will have to be taken before we recognize what is going on?

Catholic Relief Services

For those who would like to contribute to the relief effort but don't trust or don't know enough about many of the relief organizations involved, I will personally vouch for the ability of Catholic Relief Services to get things done.

CRS provides relief services in over 80 countries.
It is one of the largest relief organizations in the world, and it has an incredibly low overhead to boot: the last time I checked, almost 95% of the money it received when right back out on the streets.

Their link is here:

Their financial statement is here: