Friday 19th September 2014

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

Dat’s Nuthin

August 11, 2014 Frontpage No Comments

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK

For most of my married life I was a member of a parish located about 50 miles north of Manhattan. A large percentage of the parishioners were like my late wife and me, émigrés from apartments in the Bronx and northern Manhattan. But there was also a generous sprinkling of people from upstate New York and points further west, many of them employees of one of the IBM facilities in the area.
One night while working on a parish committee with a man from the Buffalo area, he said something I had not thought of before: “I like people from New York City, but one thing bugs me. No matter what you say, they always think that they have a better example of what you are talking about.”
His comment hit home. It was true. One of the most common reactions you will get from people from New York City is something along the lines of, “Dat’s nuthin. I’ll give you one better.”
I tried to explain to the man from my parish that he was taking the comment the wrong way; that the odds were that New York City men he was talking to did not mean to say that his comment was really “nuthin” or second rate, only that they had something to add that would corroborate his point. He was not entirely convinced.
So when I say that I have something to add to comments made by Dennis Prager in a recent column, I do not mean to imply that his words were inadequate or incomplete, only that I have an example of the phenomenon that vexed him that underscores his exasperation. It is not a better example than his, just one coming from a different angle.
In his column, Prager wrote of “Jeff from North Carolina,” a recent college graduate who had called his talk show. Prager was unable to get Jeff to take a stand on whether the United States was any different morally from the governments of Syria, North Korea, Iran, or Putin’s Russia. Jeff would not concede that there was “good and bad” in the world, and that it was only his opinion “as an American” that we were more virtuous than the aforementioned dictatorships.
Prager would not settle for that answer: “I don’t want you to answer me as an American. I want you to answer me as a moral human.”
Jeff’s reply? “I can only answer you as an American. I can’t answer as anyone else.”
Prager answered, “Wait a minute. That’s a terrible answer. If I asked you how much 2 and 2 is, you wouldn’t answer me as an American.” He went on to observe that Jeff’s attitude toward moral absolutes “reflects a fundamental left-wing doctrine taught at colleges — that there are no moral truths and we can only subjectively observe the world as members of a group.”
Prager had run head-on into the moral relativism that parades as open-mindedness and a nonjudgmental view of the world in intellectual circles. Those who hold to this understanding of morality cast their opponents as individuals who have succumbed to ethnocentrism, the view that their society’s beliefs and prejudices should be binding on those from different cultures. College students find this a difficult proposition to challenge. If they do, they frequently find themselves cast as unthinking and narrow-minded by their classmates and professors.
What do I have to add to Prager’s example of the implications of moral relativism? My experience teaching European history to 12th-grade honors students a few decades back. I would use Michel de Montaigne’s 1580 Essay on Cannibals to test my students’ commitment to their moral relativism. Montaigne’s goal was to shame those who were killing each other in the French religious wars of the time; to promote toleration between the Catholics and Huguenots by pointing out how difficult it would be to convince cannibals that they were morally wrong if the cannibals had grown up in a society where cannibalism was practiced by their forebears and viewed as an honorable practice.
His hope was that his essay would lead Catholics and Huguenots to ponder the notion that it was possible for a virtuous individual to be led to an erroneous religious conviction because of motives not warranting death; to cut each other as much slack as they would a cannibal.
I would like to be able to tell you that my students drew the line on their nonjudgmental thinking at cannibalism. But that was not the case. Most of them continued to make the case that cannibalism was wrong “only for them, but not for cannibals who thought it was morally permissible.” They didn’t want to end up like the priggish people mocked in the movies and the rock songs. But I always got the impression from the look on their faces that they were uncomfortable taking that stand; that they realized that cannibalism was — wrong, bad, immoral, evil, even if they didn’t want to say that in front of their classmates.
I think the caller to Dennis Prager’s program may have found himself in the same frame of mind.
There was another angle I would use to make the same point. Indeed, Prager may have brought it up if “Jeff” had stayed on the phone a bit longer. The proud moral relativists of our time, who are fond of calling traditional beliefs about things such as sex and marriage nothing more than opinions, “ethnocentric presumptions” and “societal prejudices,” can be made to squirm in their seats. All you have to do is bring up their politically correct beliefs.
The free-thinkers tend to not be such free-thinkers when that happens, when racism, sexism, and their understanding of social justice is the topic. Have you noticed? They want to send in the troops to rescue the girls kidnapped in Nigeria by Boko Haram; they applauded when Oprah Winfrey threw George Gilder off her show for taking note of the deleterious impact of the absence of fathers in the black family; they block the entrance to the lecture hall when Ann Coulter is scheduled to speak, just as their counterparts did when the late University of California-Berkeley psychologist Arthur Jensen was scheduled to speak on his theory of race-based differences in intelligence.
The nonjudgmental Wall Street “occupiers” smashed the windows of the corporations that they insist do evil in the world. The open-minded liberals agree that Hitler was evil; no two sides to that question.
All these things imply a conviction that there is right and wrong, evils in the world that must be confronted, rather than appeased. Moral relativism goes out the window when their favored causes are at stake. Which means that we are looking at a con game. The attack on moral absolutism is a way of undermining confidence in traditional values and the heritage of the Christian West. It has nothing to do with casting doubt upon the merits of the agenda of the secular left.

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Sources confirm Cardinal Burke will be removed. But will he attend the Synod?

Sources in Rome have confirmed to LifeSiteNews that Cardinal Raymond Burke, the head of the Vatican’s highest court, known as the Apostolic Signatura, is to be removed from his post as head of the Vatican dicastery and given a non-curial…Continue Reading

Catholic Education Honor Roll Announced

Today, The Cardinal Newman Society released the list of schools recognized by the Catholic Education Honor Roll as 2014 Schools of Excellence. Since 2004 the Honor Roll has celebrated quality Catholic education throughout the United States. Honor Roll schools receiving…Continue Reading

Hermeneutic of Continuity: Pope Benedict XVI’s 10 Step Guide to Vatican II

pope200

In 2005 His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI gave a Christmas address to the Roman Curia that sparked a “Holy Revolution.” The good pontiff’s comments were received as “epoch-making” by many of those faithful to Sacred Tradition.1 At the heart of…Continue Reading

Satanists Sell Out Controversial Oklahoma ‘Black Mass’ Event, Will Stage Exorcism Despite Christian Protests

The Satanist group that will stage a controversial “black mass” at an Oklahoma City civic center has said that all 88 tickets for its Sept. 21 event are sold out. The co-founder of the group revealed that the ritual will…Continue Reading

Catholic League Bowing Out Of New York’s St. Patrick’s Parade

NEW YORK –  The Catholic League says it will sit out next year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York because parade organizers aren’t letting an anti-abortion Catholic group march. Catholic League head Bill Donohue said Thursday that his organization…Continue Reading

Catholic Cardinal McCarrick Embraces Islam

Catholic Cardinal Theodore McCarrick offered Islamic religious phrases and insisted that Islam shares foundational rules with Christianity, during a Sept. 10 press conference in D.C. “In the name of God, the Merciful and Compassionate,” McCarrick said as he introduced himself…Continue Reading

MURDER OF CATHOLIC NUNS SHOCKS WORLD

The triple murder of three elderly Italian religious sisters in Burundi has their religious family and the local community reeling. The Italian Foreign Ministry has confirmed Monday’s death of a third missionary, Sister Bernadette Boggian, who wasdecapitated, according to a…Continue Reading

Cardinal Dolan and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade

by Hon. Bob Marshall Sept. 8, 2014 New York’s Cardinal Dolan, appointed as Grand Marshal of the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day Parade, praised the decision to allow an openly gay group to march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. “I have…Continue Reading

Founder: Catholic Studies programs help colleges fulfill call to faithfulness

St. Paul, Minn., Sep 8, 2014 / 06:03 pm (CNA).- University-level Catholic Studies programs are an essential response to the increasingly fragmented college experience, said the man who founded the first such program 20 years ago. “At the heart of…Continue Reading

A ‘dereliction of duty’? Catholics react to Cardinal Dolan’s role in St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s decision to act as grand marshal of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade despite its decision to allow an openly homosexual organization to participate has drawn strong criticism from Catholic writers and outrage from many…Continue Reading

Notre Dame Caves

notredame

The following comes from an Aug. 30 email from the Sycamore Trust, “alumni protecting Notre Dame’s Catholic identity.” Notre Dame is complying with the abortifacient/contraceptive mandate in renewing its student health insurance program for 2014-15. Aetna, the insurer, will now provide students with…Continue Reading

Vatican’s Cardinal Burke dismantles ‘Who am I to judge?’

burk

Cardinal Raymond Burke, head of the Vatican’s highest court – the Apostolic Signatura – has given a lengthy televised interview in which he decisively rectifies the false notions about Pope Francis’ “Who am I to judge” quote that has been…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to subscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.

 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

'From our friends at The Foundry'


Today . . .

Pope At Santa Marta: The Courage To Admit We Are Sinners

pope516

(Vatican Radio) Having the courage to acknowledge that we are sinners enables us to receive Christ’s caress, His forgiveness, said Pope Francis Thursday morning during Mass at Santa Marta. The day’s liturgy presents the Gospel of the sinful woman who washes Jesus’ feet with her tears and anoints them with perfume drying them with her hair. Jesus is invited to…Continue Reading

Pope’s General Audience: The Church Was Born Catholic and Apostolic

pope308

“To be part of the Apostolic Church means to be aware that our faith is anchored in the proclamation and witness of Jesus’ Apostles themselves and, therefore, always to feel sent.” Vatican City, September 17, 2014 (Zenit.org) Here below is the full text of Pope Francis’ weekly general audience catechesis, delivered in St. Peter’s Square, September 17th.  Dear Brothers and…Continue Reading

The Saint Who Was Never Born

By DONALD DeMARCO St. Raymond Nonnatus came into the world in the early 13th century (1200 or 1204 according to scholars) in Portello, Catalonia (Spain). His appended name, in Latin, means “not born.” He was taken from the womb of his mother by caesarean section after her death. Shakespeare used this notion of not being…Continue Reading

Bluster And Bluff In The Baltic

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN “I say to the people of Estonia and the people of the Baltics, today we are bound by our treaty alliance. . . . Article 5 is crystal clear: An attack on one is an attack on all. So if . . . you ever ask again, ‘who’ll come to help,’…Continue Reading

One Thing Hillary Clinton’s Memoir Doesn’t Explain About Benghazi

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY In her memoir, Hard Choices, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton included a chapter on the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012. But she failed to specifically explain why Ambassador Chris Stevens was there that day. “U.S. ambassadors are not required to consult or…Continue Reading

Violence Begets Violence

By REY FLORES Is it me or is violence becoming more prevalent across our society? Is it because most people have a cell phone nowadays with a camera and are able to share these ever-increasing acts of violence across cyberspace on social media? Perhaps it’s a little of both, but it’s definitely a lot more…Continue Reading

Birth Statistics Show Collapse Of The Family

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY (Editor’s Note: Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor in chief of CNSnews.com. Creators Syndicate provided this column; all rights reserved.) + + + If you count a generation as spanning 20 years, then approximately 36 percent of the American generation born from 1993 through 2012 — which has begun turning 21…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Q. I am currently reading Paul Likoudis’ excellent but shocking book Amchurch Comes Out, regarding incidents of immoral conduct among our clergy, the cover-up, and the accompanying damage that has been wrought within the Church. I recall being alarmed while involved with religious education in our then parish in the late 1980s and attending diocesan seminars for teachers and hearing…Continue Reading

Our Attitude Should Be The Same As Christ’s

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Sixth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: Ezek. 18:25-28 Phil. 2:1-11 Matt. 21:28-32   In the Gospel reading today our Lord asks the question of which son did the will of his father: the one who said he would not go into the field but eventually did or the one who said he would go…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World . . . “And Who Is My Neighbor?” The Embryo And The ALS patient

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The prophet Jeremiah in chapter 20 bewails his isolation as a result of the scorn of nonbelievers: “The word of the Lord has brought me derision and reproach all the day.” He describes his temptation to throw in the towel as a prophet tasked by God with a message for mankind: “I say to myself,…Continue Reading

Priestly Celibacy: Unnatural? Or . . . Supernatural? Celibacy In The Teachings Of St. Paul

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 4 St. Paul was not one of the twelve, but he is known as “the Apostle,” certainly because of the richness of his apostolic zeal in teaching, possibly more than all the other apostles put together. He was educated in the faith by Jesus Himself, and after that intense training, he became as zealous…Continue Reading

The Implications Of Faith In One God

By DON FIER Over the past three weeks, we have reflected on but an infinitesimal fraction of all that the faithful affirm when they reverently and genuinely say the first four [or five] words contained in the Creeds of the Church: “I believe in [one] God.” In saying these words with heartfelt sincerity, one is acknowledging his belief in who…Continue Reading

Cast A Gauntlet – Sola Scriptura: Part 1

Catholic Heroes… St. Joseph Of Cupertino

By CAROLE BRESLIN Now that the school year has begun, students — especially Catholic students — will find recourse to their favorite patron saint of studying. Some may choose St. Thomas Aquinas or St. Augustine of Hippo. For those students who find it difficult to retain what they read and write about it, perhaps this saint will encourage them: St.…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Mother Teresa Of Calcutta

By CAROLE BRESLIN After returning from a visit to Mother Teresa of Calcutta and giving a retreat to her Missionaries of Charity there, Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ, told a class of lay faithful, “Americans are living in a dream world.” He spoke of the thousands of people dying on the streets of Calcutta where Mother had begun her work…Continue Reading

What to Do If Your Boyfriend Wants You to Get an Abortion?

by Krisi Burton Brown | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 2/20/14 4:00 PM Washington, DC (LiveActionNews) — Note: This article is for any girl or woman who is feeling pressured into having an abortion. If you are a guy who is trying to find out how to stop an abortion, please see this article written for dads. 1.  Stand your…Continue Reading

It’s Time to Build Schools, from the Ground Up

February 13, 2014 by Anthony Esolen   It might have been worth repairing, if it had once been noble and beautiful, or at least conceived in an orderly way, for ordinary human purposes. But it wasn’t. It was constructed upon false principles. Its walls looked like those of a bad factory. It smelled like a warehouse. It could be terribly…Continue Reading

Why I am Pro-Life

February 4, 2014   Pro-Lifers   By Therese Recinella   Editor’s note. This tribute was posted on Therese Recinella’s Facebook account. She is graciously allowing us to reprint it in NRL News Today.   There are many things that I could say about my Dad, but what I want people to know is this: My parents faithfully raised 8 children…Continue Reading

Fathers . . . The Essential Role of the Father

Posted on February 10, 2014 by The Catholic Gentleman 13 Comments   Divorce rates skyrocketing; adultery rampant; non-married cohabitating couples; children abandoned by their fathers or mothers; “same-sex unions” adopting children and calling this the “modern family”; pornography invading homes, leading to powerful addictions and total alienation from other members of the family: all of this is a bird’s eye view…Continue Reading

How Much is One Billion Dollars?

This article appeared in the March 20, 1941 issue of The Wanderer. (Well, 70 years later we can add 15 trillion into the example.) Here’s a simple and homely illustration of what one billion dollars amounts to: Suppose we take an imaginary boy, aged 15 years, and assign to him the task of counting one billion dollars in one-dollar bills.…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood

This article appeared in The Wanderer, April 3, 1941.  (WOW, Look what we have 70 years later.) A group which calls itself the National Committee for Planned Parenthood has begun a nationwide campaign to have the promotion of birth control included in State and national health programs. The committee—which, according to propaganda sheets reaching our desk has a branch in…Continue Reading

Questions of Non-Catholics . . . Answered by Father Richard Felix, O.S.B.

Reprinted from The Wanderer April 10, 1941 Why Does God allow us to be tempted? God allows us to be tempted so that we may prove our attachment to him and merit a higher place in heaven. Temptations are the lot of all men; they are the battle ground upon which heaven is won or lost. “The kingdom of heaven…Continue Reading