January 7th was the fifth anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in France, when the offices of the satirical magazine – which made fun of Catholicism as well as Islam – were stormed by two gunmen, who killed 12 people, cartoonists and editors, with head shots at close range, for the ‘crime’ of drawing mocking images of the ‘Prophet’ Muhammad. So much for the ‘religion of peace’, and good for Geert Wilders for renewing the competition to draw the founder of the world’s most violent, coercive religion.
Was the killing of Qasem Soleimani justified? Assassination is not an intrinsic evil – ponder the Catholic Colonel von Stauffenberg’s attempt on the life of Hitler – but it is a choice of last resort, and must be proportionate to the good and evil consequences. And, insofar as is possible, whatever is done should be within the rule of law.
I have my doubts that this was overall a good thing, and wonder whether the evils that accrue – missiles are reported launched at American military bases as I write – will be worth it. And how guilty was Soleimani? Ideally, a war criminal should be arrested, and judged in a court of law, as was the case with Sadaam Hussein. We will see what unfolds – see Hebdo – but as the saying goes, si vis pacem, para bellum.
Meanwhile, on the cossetted front, Justin Trudeau seems to have returned from his carbon-heavy holiday to Costa Rica, on private jet, with family, staff, bodyguards and so on in tow. I care not how much carbon is pumped into the environment, for I think the Earth can handle it, and one bout of forest fires in the land down under puts more carbon into the atmosphere than years of industry, and undoes all the pompous Paris accords could ever dream of – but Justin and those of his ilk should at least live by what they believe, even if what they believe is a pile of hogwash, or worse.
On that note, although it is crude, Ricky Gervais did really give to the feted Hollywood set – a house divided against itself and all that. One must see it to believe it, even though Mr. Gervais himself is no conservative. He has never married his long-time ‘partner’, with whom he has no children, apparently claiming that they would be a waste of 16 years, and there’s too many of ‘them’ regardless. Yet, here he is, skewering his own, for running sweatshops and making crappy films, for their blatant hypocrisy, pomposity, self-aggrandizement, all the while having spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg. Schadenfreude, thy name is Gervais.
I may have more to write about George Weigel’s own advice for us all to limit our reading to a few websites of his patristic choosing, for most of which he himself writes, along with a self-selected coterie of his like-minded fellows. Thank you, Mr. Weigel, but I think we can all make up our own Catholic minds. For now, read what you like, including Catholic Insight (not on Weigel’s list, but neither was Crisis, ironically, where I first read his article); of course, all within reason, so long as what you read leads to an increase in virtue, in learning, in the desire and efficacy of your prayers, and to a wider view of the world and the Church.
What was it Pope – not Francis, but the poet – said, way back in 1709?
A little learning is a dangerous thing;
drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
and drinking largely sobers us again.
So drink deep, dear reader, so you may think soberly, clearly, as befits the wide universality of the Catholics Church, which has capacious room for many points of view. Only so, may the truth win out in the end.