Intolerance and Discrimination in Europe

GHRLWhile attending the Center for Ethics and Culture conference at Notre Dame I had the good fortune to get to know the people who carry on the important work of tracking the growing constraints on the rights of Christians in Europe. Our predicament on this side of the Atlantic is somewhat different, but we need each other and should support each other.


Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Democracy devoid of the sacred

The desacralizing effect of the Jewish and Christian revelation which René Girard so masterfully explicated is not to be confused with an ideological agenda which enshrines in the place of meaningful moral and political norms saccharine bromides — tolerance and inclusion — designed to detach political rights from moral responsibilities. The distinguished Italian philosopher Agusto Del Noce understood this.

“In the Western world we have reached a ‘democracy devoid of the sacred.’ Some will reply, resorting to a standard rhetorical device, that this is precisely the [meaning of] progress. This kind of democracy marks the transition to an ‘open society,’ which accepts and respects all forms of thought and enables religion to become purer by separating politics from religion, and so on. In actuality, this democracy ‘devoid of the sacred’ coincides with absolute atheism. But is this new atheism a new foundation of values, or does it mark the impossibility of speaking in terms of values?” —

AugustodelNoceAgusto Del Noce, 1970

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

“Imagine There’s No Countries”

“Imagine There’s No Countries”: Pianist Plays Vacuous John Lennon Song at Site of Paris Massacre

by Charlotte Allen


How brain-dead is the Western cultural elite?

This brain-dead:

As hundreds of mourners gathered outside Paris’ Bataclan venue, where a terror attack at an Eagles of Death Metal show resulted in the death of 118 people, an unknown musician set up a grand piano outside the concert hall and delivered a poignant, instrumental take on John Lennon’s “Imagine.” A peace sign adorned the musician’s piano.

Flowers, candles and memorials were also set up outside the Bataclan, the epicenter of the deadliest day in France since World War II. Lennon’s 1971 classic features the lyrics “Imagine there’s no countries / It isn’t hard to do / Nothing to kill or die for / And no religion too.” Those lyrics especially resonate in the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks, a massacre perpetrated by the Islamic State (ISIS).

You won’t be surprised that the above encomium, complete with not one but two vids of the Lennon-addled pianist doing his thing, appears in Rolling Stone, the magazine where…oh well.

Let’s unpack:

“Imagine there’s no countries.” And that’s why ISIS, which has taken credit for orchestrating the Paris massacres, calls itself  the “Islamic State”:

The Islamic State claimed responsibility on Saturday for the catastrophic attacks in the French capital, calling them “the first of the storm” and mocking France as a “capital of prostitution and obscenity,” according to statements released in multiple languages on one of the terror group’s encrypted messaging accounts.

ISIS seems to have a bit of a problem with imagining that “there’s no countries.”

And so, fortunately, does France:

The French air force carried out bombing missions on ISIS targets in Raqqa, Syria, for a second day in a row. France is retaliating against Islamist extremist terror attacks that killed at least 129 people in Paris.

ISIS claims Raqqa as the capital of its so-called caliphate.

“And no religion too.” ISIS would agree with John Lennon on that one:

For more than a decade, extremists have targeted Christians and other minorities, who often serve as stand-ins for the West. This was especially true in Iraq after the U.S. invasion, which caused hundreds of thousands to flee. ‘‘Since 2003, we’ve lost priests, bishops and more than 60 churches were bombed,’’ Bashar Warda, the Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Erbil, said. With the fall of Saddam Hussein, Christians began to leave Iraq in large numbers, and the population shrank to less than 500,000 today from as many as 1.5 million in 2003.

The Arab Spring only made things worse. As dictators like Mubarak in Egypt and Qaddafi in Libya were toppled, their longstanding protection of minorities also ended. Now, ISIS is looking to eradicate Christians and other minorities altogether. The group twists the early history of Christians in the region — their subjugation by the sword — to legitimize its millenarian enterprise. Recently, ISIS posted videos delineating the second-class status of Christians in the caliphate. Those unwilling to pay the jizya tax or to convert would be destroyed, the narrator warned, as the videos culminated in the now-­infamous scenes of Egyptian and Ethiopian Christians in Libya being marched onto the beach and beheaded, their blood running into the surf.

The future of Christianity in the region of its birth is now uncertain. ‘‘How much longer can we flee before we and other minorities become a story in a history book?’’ says Nuri Kino, a journalist and founder of the advocacy group Demand for Action.

So–the best our cultural elites can do to memorialize the worst mass killing in France since World War II is a song whose lyrics are not only inane but an attack on patriotism and faith.

But even at Rolling Stone there’s some sanity–from the commenters on the above story. Here’s one:

Should have played the Soft Boys’s “I Wanna Destroy You.” Playing “Imagine” is a melodic way of saying, “Please kill me last.”

“Brain-dead” may be too kind a way to characterize our elites.

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

“We have to radically change the way we think”

On Saturday November 14th, the day of René Girard’s funeral Cynthia Haven posted the following review of and excerpt from Girard’s last book, Battling to the End:

René Girard on terrorism: “We have to radically change the way we think.” Have we?


Posted in Blog | Tagged , , | Comments Off on “We have to radically change the way we think”

Dies Irae – Requiem René Girard

At the funeral of René Girard the Requiem Mass was a sung Gregorian Mass. The celebrant and homilist was Fr. Francisco Nahoe, OFM Conv

Fr. Nahoe has kindly provided the text of his homily and permitted its distribution thanks to the efforts of our friend Cynthia Haven:

On other occasions, preaching from this pulpit, you have heard me refer to the much maligned, but little read, Regensburg address of Pope Benedict XVI. In it, the Pope emeritus suggests that there are two uniquely modern disorders that more or less overwhelm the way we experience religion today. The first is a pathology of reason, that we would identify as secularism; the second, a pathology faith that we might call fundamentalism. It seems to me that nowhere is the impact of these disorders felt more acutely than in contemporary attitudes toward death. The modern world fragments the essential dignity and wholeness of man — spirit, soul and body (as Saint Paul tells us) — into neat, but very small compartments. Family is one, job another, friends, civic life (by which typically mean political attitudes more than social engagement), science (that is, commercial technology)…. Let’s see, there’s music and reading, now highly dependent upon technology, which still doesn’t seem to make more time for such pursuits. Maybe community service, usually not religion.

Just moment ago, we heard the schola chant the Dies iræ, that magnificent encapsulation of medieval piety, with its bright and violent imagery, its razor-sharp focus on the enormity of man’s end, as if to say, death is the most significant moment that life offers to the believer. If I remember correctly, the Dies iræ is attributed to one of my Franciscan confrères, Friar Thomas of Celano, the earliest biographer of Saint Francis of Assisi. You doubtless remember that Saint Francis refers to the fact of human demise as Sister Death, one of a cohort of natural phenomena made familiar: Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Brother Fire, Sister Water, Mother Earth. At first glance, Saint Francis seems nicer than Friar Thomas, more suitable to contemporary standards of decorum… until you hear what he has to say next:

Most High, all-powerful, good Lord, Yours are the praises, the glory, and the honor, and all blessing, To You alone, Most High, do they belong, and no human is worthy to mention Your name. Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whom no one living can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin. Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will, for the second death shall do them no harm.

Sister Bodily Death, for Saint Francis, is the one who ushers us into the experience of the Dies iræ. To the modern ear, pulled between the antipodes of secular atheism and fundamentalist sentimentalism, Franciscan poetics strike an oddly discordant note, even for the faithful. Generally speaking, we would be more comfortable with a funeral understood as the celebration of a particular life, rather than a serious, demanding, elegaic reflection on the universal certainty of death.

I never got that vibe from Prof Girard. I never found him to be so saturated with the maudlin sentimentality of our age not to stop, thoughtfully and humbly to consider that one day he would find himself precisely here. I always had the impression that he deliberately eschewed the romanticism that saturates every other aspect of religious thought and experience in the contemporary world, that his practice of the Catholic faith centered upon our hope in the resurrection of the dead, a hope we have learned from the promise of the Lord Jesus Himself. To have seen Satan fall like lightning from the sky, is to have experienced the kingdom of God growing, not only in the world, but in the hearts and desires of humankind. It is this transformative power of God unleashed upon the world in saving Incarnation, Life, Ministry, Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Christ, that makes of the dies iræ, not, in the end, a day of wrath, but our definitive encounter with the pie Iesu, the holy Lord Jesus, to Whom we give all glory and honor forever and ever. Amen.

The schola at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church to which Fr. Nahoe refers in his homily has been led for many years by William Mahrt. The recording below of the Dies Irae is from a public domain audio recording and is similar to what we heard in the Requiem Mass at René Girard’s funeral.

Follow this link for an English translation of the Latin text.


Posted in Blog | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Dies Irae – Requiem René Girard

Paris: Friday November 13, 2015

Paris_20151113The funeral Mass for René Girard will be celebrated today. How tragically ironic that it is a day of grief and mourning in the city he so loved. As Paris reels from yet another eruption of the resurgence of “sacred violence” about which René warned, one wonders if those trying to reckon with this crisis will have recourse to René’s insights into the looming catastrophe now facing our fragile and feckless civilization.

May this warm, gentle, and wise man receive the ultimate reward for a life well lived. And may we who survive him find ways to bring the fruits of his work to bear on those tasks which have fallen to us.

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Paris: Friday November 13, 2015

Kiss the Devil – Lyrics

EaglesDMThese are the lyrics from a song entitled “Kiss the Devil” written by the band The Eagles of Heavy Metal which was performing at the Bataclan in Paris at the time of the murderous attacks. Nothing better exemplifies the crisis overtaking what’s left of Western civilization than this.

“Kiss The Devil”

Who’ll love the devil?…
Who’ll sing his song?…
Who will love the devil and his song?…
I’ll love the devil!…
I’ll sing his song!…
I will love the devil and his song!…
Who’ll love the devil?…
Who’ll kiss his tongue?…
Who will kiss the devil on his tongue?…
I’ll love the devil!…
I’ll kiss his tongue!…
I will kiss the devil on his tongue!…
Who’ll love the devil?…
Who’ll sing his song?…
I will love the devil and his song!…
Who’ll love the devil?…
Who’ll kiss his tongue?…
I will kiss the devil on his tongue!…
Who’ll love the devil?…
Who’ll sing his song?…

(Thanks to my friend Melanie Statom for this stunning piece of the picture.)

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Kiss the Devil – Lyrics

Veteran’s Day

Veterans_day…formerly known as Armistice Day which commemorated the end of World War I, the ‘war to end all wars’. In 1954 the name of the day was changed to ‘Veterans Day’ to honor the service of all US military veterans.

On this day perhaps we should consider how we might best honor the those who have served or are serving in our armed forces.

Recently the First Things website ran a series of stories on the Synod on the Family held in Rome. One of these contained an interview with a US military chaplain that contained the following:

Training to assure the best physical condition is constant; but exercises to meet both regular responsibilities and extraordinary situations are also part of the experience of Catholics in the military. No one in uniform expects to hear that a goal is merely an ideal, or that an expectation does not have to be met. The Church canonizes saints not for their benefit, but for ours. The saints are examples.

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Veteran’s Day

René Girard: NY Times Obituary

RG_libThat forthright religious stance may have cost him status in university circles, said Robert Pogue Harrison, a professor of literature at Stanford. “No doubt it was an obstacle,” he said. “He believed in Christian truth, which isn’t going to find ready acceptance in contemporary academia.”

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , | Comments Off on René Girard: NY Times Obituary

Bishop Robert Barron: René Girard – Church Father

RG_deskThere are some thinkers that offer intriguing ideas and proposals, and there is a tiny handful of thinkers that manage to shake your world. Girard was in this second camp. – Bishop Robert Barron

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Bishop Robert Barron: René Girard – Church Father