Links roundup, 5.13

Before I get to some links, some reflections on the killing of Osama bin Laden:

Was the killing of bin Laden morally justified? It is a question worth asking. Leon Panetta tipped his hat in a recent press conference to the jus in bello tradition of not executing combatants who have been neutralized or who do not constitute an immediate threat.  He said that they gave the authority to kill but "as part of their rules of engagement, if he suddenly put up his hands and offered to be captured, then they would have the opportunity, obviously, to capture him."

I am sure the administration is glad that the situation moved so quickly that such an opportunity did not present itself.  Detaining him and trying him would have been a very complicated thing.  Still, one is left to wonder how the actual events played out.  Was it a "fog of war" rapid decision to shoot to kill, done in ignorance of the fact that he was unarmed, that is justified under typical jus in bello rules of engagement?  Was he being evasive or seeking to arm himself? Or was it more of a summary execution?  If the latter, I find that somewhat troublesome.  Granted, al Queda militants treat our captured soldiers and civilians much worse.  But that does not make for a compelling moral argument.  That they do worse to us is just a grown up version of the child’s "argument" – "he hit me first" or "he did something bad to me first".  If we are a civilized nation, we have to fight our enemies in a way that is notably different from how our barbaric enemies choose to fight us.

Despite the early misinformation that indicated it was a "firefight", I am still inclined to give the benefit of the doubt here.  It sounded like a rapid clean out and given the weapons discovered in the compound, it was reasonable for them to proceed with a "shoot to kill" engagement on the assumption that everyone they faced would be armed, hostile, and resistant to capture.  But if video ever surfaced that he gave himself up and they summarily executed him, that would look very bad.

While we are at it on bin Laden, I was somewhat troubled by the rambunctious celebrations of his death. I can understand there being some satisfaction in some sort of justice being done. bin Laden was an evil man and the world is a safer place without him in it. But we should never take joy in someone’s death. It is of course good that wicked men be brought to justice. But we need to remember, at the same time, that even the wicked our are brothers. To love our friends is easy, to love our enemies hard. Fr. Barron offers similar sentiments here.

Now to the links roundup:

Lots of stories of late on a PEW study that showed ex-Catholics are the 3rd largest “religious” group in the United States. This is and should be cause for concern – why is the Church losing so many people? I have some ideas, and poor catechesis and ugly liturgies are at the top of my list. Here is one reflections on the issue and then a comment on that reflection.

Though it seems early to be on the look for such things, John Allen looks at three possible future Popes. I dearly hope that the Church continues to be sharp theologians instead of bureaucrats into the office.

David Brooks reflects on the difference between a democracy and a republic, and why we need to recover the “public-spiritedness” of the latter to get out of our current fiscal crisis.

The Latin Mass has been in the news of late. A recent document issued by the Vatican clarifies and strengthens the Summorum Pontificum letter from Pope Benedict that paved the way for a real return of the Extraordinary Form to parish life. Read here for an argument in favor of the Latin Mass from the great personalist philosopher Dietrich von Hildenbrand. And articles on the Tridentine Mass and its return can be found here and here and here and here.

Speaking of liturgical issues, Mike Aquilina reflects on the move from “And also with you” to “And with Your Spirit” in the new Missal translation that becomes the official Missal next Advent.

And Fr. Z rants a bit about the hand holding custom during the Our Father. I myself consistently refuse to hold hands during this prayer. Like Fr. Z, I think it is contrived sentimentalism and think the sooner the practice disappears, the better. This piece takes on hand-holding and other liturgical offenses.

So is Benedict a traditionalist or a progressive? Lately he seems to be getting flack from both camps. Perhaps this is because Pope Benedict is best described as a “progressive traditionalist.”

William Oddie reflects on the interesting contrast between Ratzinger / Benedict and dissident theologian Hans Kung.

Hadley Arkes on the lunacy of some abortion rights advocates. They have really gone nutty in response to the attempt to revoke Planned Parenthood funding, arguing that such measures will basically return us to the Dark Ages. Isn’t it obvious to all that not all private liberties (supposing that we really have the liberty to kill innocent unborn people) are public goods. I have the private liberty to view pornography, but since it is not a public good we do not insist on public funding to support it!

The new Ag building across the Quad from my office is really starting to take shape. I hate it. With the big glass facade on the south side I am not sure if I am on college campus or at an office park. Gross.

For those interested in liberal arts education, it is worth checking out this site. And this article reflects on why policy leaders just don’t seem to be getting the message that what business leaders want is people with a broad liberal arts education. So even if we think education should be all about job placement, what business leaders are telling us is that they want degrees in the humanities (because they want people who can think critically and creatively and who can communicate effectively). Instead, we have legislators saying that liberal arts degrees are “degrees to nowhere”. Why aren’t these vocationally minded policy makers listening to the business community? Huemenann recently reflected on who these people are and why they seem to be missing the message.

For progressives who think that those who want to fundamentally change MediCare and Social Security are changing (to quote Obama) the America we have “known throughout our history”, George Will offers some perspective and history.

Who were Jesus’ brothers? Howard Kainz reflects on the question as it relates to Mary’s perpetual virginity.

Simcha Fisher on stunted womanhood and the fascination with princesses. She seeks to navigate a middle road between “harsh feminism and stunted daughterhood.”

Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of assassination attempt on JPII.

What does the move to co-ed dorms have to do with binge drinking and the “hook up” culture? This article explores the issue and argues for a return to single sex dorms.

I don’t know if neo-Malthusianism is officially dead or not (it certainly still lives in the uninformed ideas of progressives), but even National Geographic (not exactly a conservative outfit) turned away from fertility issues in a recent edition on global population and said that (as conservatives have long argued) the answer to any environmental pressures from large populations comes from education (particularly of women) and improving living conditions.

You may recall the controversy around Apple’s decision to pull the Manhattan Declaration App. The Manhattan Declaration is a serious and thoughtful reflection on the Christian moral life as it concerns the sanctity of life, the family, and religious freedom. It was crafted by renowned scholars and was signed by leaders of many major Christian denominations in America along with about 500,000 other people. It reflects the popular opinion of a majority of Americans according to most polling data. If you have not read the Declaration, I encourage you to read it here. I must say, if this sort of charitable and serious account of traditional morality is not permissible, then discourse on these issues will simply be impossible. And yet it was deemed offensive to “large groups of people”, though we would more accurately say that it was deemed offensive to a certain group of people. Anyway, news today of a new App approved by Apple that helps people find and reserve prostitutes. I will await the outcry from those great defenders of the oppressed who thought the Manhattan Declaration did violence to the marginalized.

About Kleiner

Associate Vice Provost and Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Utah State University. I teach across the curriculum, but am most interested in continental philosophy, ancient and medieval philosophy as well as Catholic thought, all of which might be summed up as an interest in the ressourcement tradition (returning in order to make progress). I also enjoy spending time thinking about liberal education and its ends.
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