Re: Larry Thornberry’s The Bitter End?
What does Obama mean when he says he believes this country should have a national civilian security force at least as strong as the U.S. military? For what purpose? And what jurisdiction — federal, state, local? Under whose control? What does Obama mean when he says the country needs such a force in order to achieve the security purposes we have set? What are those security goals and who set them?
— Carl Davis
Point taken, Democrats. You have proven that, with enough money and the press on your side, any inexperienced anti-American can be elected President.
— David Govett
Re: Robert Stacy McCain’s Stickin’ With the Hockey Mom:
Thank you for your defense of our vice-presidential candidate, Governor Sarah Palin. She represents all that is good about our country. Her candidacy summons forth a narrative comparable to that of the first Republican, Abraham Lincoln; she has risen self-made from one of the most remote outposts of our nation and is a staunch defender of faith, family, patriotism, and fiscal responsibility. Despite her extraordinary accomplishments in reforming state government and negotiating a massive infrastructure project which will benefit both Alaska and the “lower 48,” Governor Palin has been relentlessly pilloried by the media, Obama surrogates, and most despicably, Republican opportunists and turncoats (Brooks, Powell, Noonan, Will). Many Americans have found their voice in “Sarah,” are offended by this abuse and are embracing her in large numbers.
— William N. White, M.D.
Perry, New York
I have a theory that this entire election cycle is about the rejection of the institutions of America: both the parties’ establishment choices were rejected, the media’s “it’s over” storyline for Hillary didn’t dissuade voters from coming out an registering dissatisfaction with Obama… now I just need one more event tomorrow to put the cap on the story. But maybe I’ll be wrong… Still, I think that this article captures something of what I’ve seen on the ground as someone who’s been campaigning for McCain for the last year and a half.
— Michael Maletic
THE COUNCIL OF TAS
Re: Stuart Koehl’s letter (under “Up from Opacity”) in Reader Mail’s Stark Contrasts:
I must say that sensitivity over religious issues actually seems to be greater among the readers and writers of the Spectator’s pages than politics itself. I have meant no offense to Mr. Koehl or the Eastern and Orthodox Churches. Far be it from me to impede ecumenical discussions between Rome and the “Greeks.” As Mr. Koehl rightly suggests, I am not privy to those discussions; but I do contrast what is said with similar discussions between Rome and the Protestant Churches — mine most reflective of the Lutheran/Roman Catholic ones. My intent was to throw a few “caution” flags.
1.) Until the Roman Magestrum and the Pope definitively speak, sign the dotted line and get the last word, it ain’t done.
2.) Experience teaches us that one thing is clear. There just some things Rome will never say. No matter how much common ground Rome may establish with those who are not within her formal structures, she will never declare she has been in theological error — much less having ever been a harbor of heresy. Individuals and whole communities may be wrong but the Church as the “Body of Christ” cannot by definition be in error.
3.) Modern Catholic theologians such as Pope John Paul II (The Great) and Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) approach doctrinal differences first by exploring underlying philosophical assumptions and linguistic difficulties between Rome and her old foes. Thus we often find Rome speaking of old theological disputes as being nothing of the kind. Instead, two different expressions are in fact in ‘substantial equivalence:’ two superficially conflicting statements which in reality are confessing the same mystery.
In a thumbnail, most recent scholarship in the West — however accurate it may be — indicates that beneath the filioque argument is two different historical responses to the Arian heresy. Both the Eastern and Western Churches fought that anti-Gospel sacrilege; but the battles for each were not precisely the same. Absent the precise historical and theological contexts (as well as the fact that at times Latin and Greek do not translate well between each other) the West and East were talking past each other. Or so it is said.
4.) In any case, I should remind Mr. Koehl that in ecumenical matters Rome also has an eye on the Protestant Churches as well as the Orthodox. Among those Protestants who confess the Nicene Creed, the “filoque” is firmly established within their own basic doctrinal symbols and as such is a non-issue between Rome and themselves. Dropping the “filoque” will cause a calamity in relationships Rome does not need. Thus Rome as a matter of function walks a fine line. No doubt Rome wishes to repair the breach between the Orthodox and herself. But Rome also wants to draw into herself the Churches of the Reformation.
5.) As a matter of practice, since the 16th century, my own Lutheran Church has confessed the Creed with the “filoque” in the West and in its original in the East — content to observe the precedents of each and confident that ultimately there is no real conflict. Rome for centuries has also followed this same practice in a similar way if not for the same reasons. Thus it is natural that Papal addresses to the East observe an absence of the filioque; but it does not necessarily reflect what Rome finds binding for the West.
6.) Nearly all sides within worldwide Christianity agree that the pneumatological theology of The Holy Ghost is woefully underdeveloped. All must guard themselves against any premature foreclosure as we go forward. Both the West and the East have big chips on their shoulders and that will have to stop if progress is to be made.
However the Church Universal resolves this issue, both the Orthodox Church and the Churches of the Reformation will still have a rugged mountain before them to deal with — namely this Roman Bishop who insists on his Peterine primacy among all the faithful.
— Mike Dooley
CAN THEY TAKE THAT AWAY?
Re: John A. Barnes’s Empire State Holdouts:
“If tomorrow all the things were gone
I worked for all my life
And I had to start over again
With just my children and my wife
“I’d thank my lucky stars
To be living here today
‘Cause the flag still stands for freedom
And they can’t take that away”
What’s the worst that can happen has been asked TAS on more than one occasion.
So, Mr. Greenwood, respectfully, I will get back to you after January 20, 2009 and see if a Democratic Congress and a President Obama can take away not only what you’ve worked for all your life but your freedom as well.
— Ira M. Kessel
Rochester, New York