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29 February 2008


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Sidney O. Smith III

Col. Lang,

Thank you for the reference -- Eminent Victorians. I have not read that book, although I believe I have seen it referenced before (perhaps in regard to General Chinese Gordon?) I will most definitely put it on my “to read list”.

Your novel, I believe, describes one of the keys that unlocks the beauty of Catholic mysticism. It was when Fr. Krueger said to Claude Devereux, “It is not permitted that you should despair, Claude”.

I consider myself extremely lucky or, perhaps more accurately, blessed. Thanks to my mother (may God bless her saintly soul), I was born and raised Episcopalian. During my more “rambunctious” years, I ostensibly called my a secular humanist, which was really just an excuse. And now-- thanks to a Trappist monk/priest -- I am certain that when the time comes, I will die a Catholic.

That said, I am fascinated with an idea in Carelton Coon’s book, The Caravan. He writes of a “mosaic” or seamless garment in the Middle East. I am trying to determine if this reflects a psychological state -- one that many Westerners may yearn to experience, especially when you consider the “despair” in Eliot’s Wasteland or Lewis’s Babbitt. I don’t know the answer. But, perhaps as suggested by the theme of the WWII handbook for US soldiers headed to Iraq, the best US tradition -- including the military one -- is one that respects other cultures. It also is the way of Martin Buber (and probably Judah Benjamin). It is not the way of Hagee, from what I can tell. It would be refreshing if he would consider the former Trappist vow -- the vow of silence.

W. Patrick Lang


Thank you brother, and Father Krueger thanks you as well. pl

W. Patrick Lang


This is not about the Navy. pl


Anyone who recommends that others should not be allowed to vote should be condemned to an eternity of listening to the sermons Farrakhan and Hagee.


As a Republican and a Catholic I wondered where the Party was heading after Bush and now I know.


Mike, I have listened to Farrakhan and Hagee sermons and it seemed like an eternity.

William R. Cumming

The Constitutional amendment will be too late. McCain cannot legally become President and should drop out if he truly wants a Republican Presidency whether or not he is it. The Constitution is very clearly worded. Article II, Section 1 reads in part "No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be elgible to the Office of President; . . ." Unfortunately Sen. McCain is not a natural born citizen, he was born in the Panama Canal Zone of U.S. parents, father in the military. He is clearly a U.S. citizen but not a "natural born citizen." To win any Republican must have a significant percentage of the Evangelical and Catholic vote, not to equate these groups.

Sidney O. Smith III

Col. Lang
Thank you very much. There is no greater honor than a Catholic brotherhood.

It’s strange but my conversion experience was totally involuntary. For much of my life, I was anti-Catholic, primarily from the secular perspective. But then it was as if life grabbed me by the collar and yanked me into the Catholic experience, with me complaining and kicking all the way. I still am a terrible Catholic (this weekend proved it yet again) but I am grateful for the experience and, no doubt about it, I am forever indebted to a brilliant Trappist monk/priest.

That said, all my family and the vast majority of my friends, if religious, are Protestant. And a couple of my best friends are orthodox. The woman I am dating is Methodist. So to each his or her own.

But I would like to share an observation never reported in the msm. Once inside the Church, I have noticed that Catholics have an immense love for the good Catholic sacramental priest, regardless of race or national origin.

Anytime a work of fiction mentions a sacramental priest, I take notice. My radar clicked on when you mentioned Fr. Kruger. And the dialogue that you ascribed to Fr. Kruger -- “It is not permitted that you should despair, Claude“-- really piqued my interest. Very briefly, here’s why. During the involuntary conversion experience, I became fascinated with the “structure” of Mass, as I presumed that, at one level, it was a work of sacred or eternal art. So I spent a little time studying the history of Mass and I noticed that every Tridentine Mass started with a Psalm of the absolute deepest despair -- Pslam 42 or 43. And every Tridentine Mass ended with a reading from the beginning of the Gospel of John, where the person becomes an adopted “son of God”. So I thought to myself, “In the history of art, is there a greater transformation?” I never attend Latin Mass but I respect that tradition, and this particular transformation sums up the great Catholic sacramental priest when he mysteriously “cures the soul.”

Abu Sinan

My grandparents had a cross burned on their lawn when they first came to this country because they were Catholic.

I made a choice long ago to be a Muslim, but I still respect the Catholic Church and realise Hagee and his ilk are dangerous extremists.

He is nothing more than a Protestant "takfiri".

Cloned Poster

Tony Blair is a Catholic convert, welcomed by Cardinal Ratzinger. SOS III?

the office goat

"The arabic word for apostate has more flavor, 'murtadd.'

Like the drums booming forth in the cave city of the dwarves." --pl

^^Not sure whether I should exclaim "ai oi" or "oy vey" to that one.


I particularly enjoyed McCain's defender, Kay Bailey's defense of Hagee: He's done good things for Israel! I guess Kay Bailey doesn't understand that a ring-kissing Papist like myself doesn't give a rat's a** about Israel. I do, however, care very much about fundy slander of my Church.


McCain had Hagee introduce him on stage not long ago. That in effect negates the term "unsolicited", by
any stretch of semantics or warps of time. (We have all learned in the cases of Barack Obama's meeting with a "domestic terrorist" and Michelle Obama's student papers that time is indeed relative; a decade or two being but a blink of the eye to the likes of Sean Hannity)

Much more importantly, McCain explained/justified
embracing Hagee by saying "he is doing a lot of good things for Israel." Confusedresponderer has already touched on the eschatological twist to Hagee's Israel support, a has Glen Greenwald on his blog. But even if this were not a factor, the utilitarian calculus by which McCain during a campaign for the American presidency aligns himself with the fringiest of the fringe because it is perceived as "good for Israel" - another country in another hemisphere! - is so revealing of the man and the subordination of the American people's interests to the values and global interests of certain unrepresentative factions that the CIA, at least in a country where the media could conceivably function as anything but a reliably comatose bystander, ought to have classified the comment and buried it in its deepest, darkest

To the potential wishy washers, let me drive the point all the way home:
Even if the Obamas were to come out and say they embrace the allegedly racially charged "black values" of Dr. Wright, or the definitely racially charged "white skunks, white conpiracies" rethoric of Louis Farrakhan because "they are doing a lot of good" for Afro-Americans, Well at least those are Afro-AMERICANS - not Afro-Africans or Afro-Israelis.

Sidney O. Smith III

Abu Sinan

Thanks for the comment. From what I can glean, we may have something in common. Although for other reasons and under different circumstances, the KKK crowd also threatened my father because of some decisions he made. It was not as serious as what your grandparents experienced -- no cross burnings -- but I recall phones calls and letters.

Now that I think about it…I have a recollection of USG personnel placing a shotgun at a strategic place in my father’s office and implementing other measures in case of an attack. USMC guards were assigned to the federal building where he worked. But this was probably a standard procedure that arose nationally after a bombing that took place in Alabama and a murder that took place in California, both by ethnic nationalists -- one white, the other black.

Mainly because of great leadership in the Atlanta area, the civil rights era went fairly smoothly, arguably no worse than what happened in Boston a few years later when desegregation orders were finally, at long last, implemented, nearly twenty years after Little Rock.

In any event, I am extremely grateful for the experience. As a child, I was exposed firsthand to some “societal issues” and could observe things from a unique perspective. My guess is that you too have had similar experiences.

One of the great ironies to me is that my father and others of his tradition actually are and were "more" Southern than the KKK crowd from years ago that opposed the idea of justice. This explains in part my fascination with Col. Lang's novel about the Civil War and the tradition he describes. 'Tis true. One can only speculate, but I cannot help but believe that if Judah Benjamin had been alive during the second half of the 20th century, he would have sided with my father's tradition and against the KKK. And the same with Mosby et al. Certainly Longstreet.

We ignore this tradition at great peril because it opposes imperialism and virulent ethnic nationalism. While I am not a military type, I cannot help but believe Mosby would have been appalled at our military strategy and tactics in Iraq.

I have enjoyed thoroughly reading your contributions, particularly your insights into US foreign policy as well as your thoughts about the Arabic language. If I have read Carelton Coon correctly, Arabic is considered the highest art in the Muslim world. The calligraphy is stunning.

I tend to agree with you re: Hagee.

Cloned Poster
Thanks for your comments as well. Truth be told, I have little aptitude for religion. I am a bit surprised I even wrote about it. Too much weekend coffee? Perhaps. But when it comes to a talent for theology, I have what a ex Korean-Am. Girlfriend use to say to me when she was angry: “Double digit IQ!” I may as well admit it.

Until JPII died, I really paid little attention to the Vatican. My experience revolved around meeting and corresponding with a Trappist monk/priest, so I was inclined to place the Trappist experience at the center of Catholicism. To use the vernacular: I figured if those guys were not connected, well…last person around turn out the lights. On a different level, because of the writings of Thomas Merton, I decided they were the Western equivalent of the contemplative tradition often associated with Buddhist monks.

A few years ago, I did get to shake hands with Cardinal Arinze from Nigeria. He was in Atlanta and the Nigerian community celebrated his appearance. I was able to observe Nigerian Catholicism and it, in my opinion, was beautiful.

I know little re: Tony Blair’s conversion. But a few years ago, I did read (former national lampoon writer and wildman)Tony Hendra’s book about his relationship throughout the years with a British Benedictine monk/priest -- Father Joe. If you are not familiar with the book already, Hendra did a great job describing his respect and deep fondness of “Father Joe” who no doubt was a kindly, good man. Here’s a pic of “Father Joe”:



For those of us who have read "Focaults Pendulum" by Eco, or noticed bunker-religions before in history, the whole Hagee part of xtianity (as opposed to christianity, wich is different) seems to be quite insane. In the oldfashioned "Bwahaha! Bring on Armageddon! Bwahahaha! Come Thunder! Come lightning!" style of crazy.


it needs to be repeated, and again, this was not an unsolicited endorsement. hagee endorsed mccain because mccain requested it.
because mccain said please and thank you.
the endorsement is not what matters. mccain seeking the endorsement is what matters.
mccain seeking the endorsement is what matters.
repeat that til it's clear. please. thank you.

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