Chris Christie May No Longer Receive Communion

This morning, Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), who is running for president, attacked Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who is also running for president, by arguing that Rubio is too pro-life. From the New York Times:

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Against Trump: A Roundup

I expect to add to this list as the race continues.

First Things: Nikabrik’s Candidate
National Review: Against Trump
National Review: Symposium: Conservatives Against Trump
Ten Pro-Life Women: Dear Iowans Not. Trump.
Matt Walsh: Dear Christians, If You Vote For A Godless Man, You Are Asking For Tyranny
Weekly Standard: King Trump
Sen. Ben Sasse: Tweets Against Trump
Jay Nordlinger: How Trump and Clinton Supporters are Alike
William Kristol: The Confidence Man
David Harsyani: Donald Trump Is Not The Solution To GOP Incompetence
William F. Buckley: On Trump the Demagogue
James J. Heaney (as BCSWowbagger2): Trump’s Wall Won’t Stop Abortion

Robert Oscar Lopez: …on an entirely different note, It’s Too Late To Dump on Trump
GitHub: TrumpScript v1.0

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Should I Watch: Utopia?

It is hard to capture the essence of Utopia in one image, but that yellow suit and the eyepatch are a good start.

Type of Show: In the 21st Century, there are two kinds of shows: dark (think Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies) and bright (think Guardians of the Galaxy).  Some straddle the middle, or vacillate between the two.  Utopia is unlike all of them: its plot and characters are pitch-black, darker than anything I’ve seen recently.  But its tone — everything from its color palate to its music to its dialogue — is brighter than anything since Pushing Daisies.  It’s a drama, but often feels like something else.

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10 Ways NPR’s Star Wars Was Better Than The Movies

This guest post comes from local Star Wars fanatic Luke LoPresto.  He was saying nice things about the NPR 
Star Wars radio drama on Facebook, and, as a big fan of radio drama myself, I asked if he’d write up something for De Civitate.  He did!


At first blush, it doesn’t seem like there’s any good reason to listen to NPR’s 1981-1996 radio adaptations of Star Wars. Take away all the groundbreaking visual effects, iconic actors, and revolutionary design, and it sounds like all you have left is the dialogue — not exactly Star Wars‘ strongest point. But with Brian Daley’s writing and John Williams’s legendary soundtrack backing it up, you actually get something well worth listening to! Here’s ten reasons why you should pick up NPR’s Star Wars radio plays:

10. The Lost Biggs Scenes

These deleted scenes are some of the most well-known, giving the audience a look at Luke Skywalker’s life on Tatooine before a pair of robots came into his life. They also establish Luke’s friendship with fellow pilot Biggs Darklighter, who is defecting from the Empire and will later fight in the assault on the Death Star. In the movie, Biggs gets about two lines of dialogue and an out-of-place moment when Luke mourns Biggs’ death, like they were BFFs. Well, that’s because they were.

However, this sequence, which takes up the first episode of the radio drama, does suggest quite a backstory. Biggs mentions that he’s still first mate on an Imperial starship, having not yet joined the rebellion. The plot of the entire movie probably takes place over no more than a few days, yet in that time Biggs managed to jump ship, find his way to the rebellion, and become a member of Red Squadron in barely more time than Luke did! Not impossible, but still seems improbable…

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Should I Watch: The Man in the High Castle?

Should I Watch? is a new feature in which James will write brief, to-the-point reviews of television shows, because he watches quite a few.  Like most features on De CivitateJames will probably not have time for it over the long haul and this will end up being the only installment. For the first column, James watches Amazon’s new prestige drama, The Man in the High Castle.

Still from The Man in the High Castle’s hauntingly effective opening credits 

Type of Show: It is unfair to call The Man in the High Castle a heavily-serialized drama. Like many other shows written for the “binge-watching” audience (House of Cards &c.), it is way more serialized than that.  As a series of episodes, it is unintelligible; it can only be understood as a full, season-long story.

What It’s About: In 1947, the Nazi Reich and Japanese Empire conquered America.  Now, in 1963, Juliana Crane and Joe Blake are helping the Resistance smuggle films that depict an impossible world where the Allies won.

Where People Watch: Amazon Prime (subscription only), The Pirate Bay (illegally)

What James Watched: The entire 10-episode first season, which is all that has been released so far.

Best Part: Mad Men won a bunch of awards for its powerful, faithful evocation of the 1960s. The Man in the High Castle goes much further: it powerfully, faithfully evokes a 1960s that never happened: a 1960s America that has been quietly perverted by anti-Semitic propaganda and seppuku.  The world it creates feel real in every detail, from production design to tiny quirks of dialogue, and that world-building is entrancing. Obergruppenführer John Smith (really? that’s the name of a main character?) is singled out in most reviews as a standout, and I must agree: every regime will has its collaborators, and some of them will be true believers. Smith is fascinating.

Worst Part: The Man in the High Castle is, even at this early date, obviously joining Lost’s tradition of asking questions that it has no intention of answering.  The refusal to commit to and advance the broad story drains the show — and apparently its writers — of any sense of urgency.  The story is ten hours long, but has less character development and change in all that time than your average 90-minute B-movie. What’s there is good, but it is soooo slow in coming and involves soooo many long silent shots of people frowning that you start wishing you were watching Peter Jackson’s Hobbit movies, which were somehow less overextended than The Man in the High Castle.

Should I Watch?: 



The Man in the High Castle could work very well, if its first and (probable) second season were smashed together into a tightly-paced six-episode miniseries.  Watch the pilot episode for its gorgeous production values and world-building (the pilot is free on Amazon even to non-subscribers, so, bonus).  The rest of the series just isn’t worth the time it asks for, so bail out and go watch the original Red Dawn, which has far less verisimilitude but a hell of a lot more entertainment value.

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Vox: Pedantic and Unproductive Microaggressor

Furthermore, any behavior or language which is unwelcoming—whether or not it rises to the level of harassment—is also strongly discouraged. Much exclusionary behavior takes the form of microaggressions—subtle put-downs which may be unconsciously delivered. Regardless of intent, microaggressions can have a significant negative impact on victims and have no place on our team.

There are a host of behaviors and language common on tech teams which are worth noting as specifically unwelcome: Avoid “well, actuallys”—pedantic corrections that are often insulting and unproductive

—Vox Product Team Code of Conduct, published 10 November 2015

“Philosopy majors actually earn a lot more than welders.”
—headline, Vox, 10 November 2015

“There is a better way to run presidential debates.  Actually, there are several.”
—headline, Vox, 5 November 2015

“Democrats are in denial.  Their party is actually in deep trouble.”
—headline, Vox, 19 October 2015

“Why the reasonable-sounding ’40-hour workweek for Congress’ idea would actually backfire”
—headline, Vox, 5 October 2015

“Russia says it’s bombing ISIS in Syria. It’s actually bombing their enemies.”
—headline, Vox, 30 September 2015

“Researchers said a popular antidepressant was safe for teens. It was actually deadly.”
—headline, Vox, 19 September 2015

“Kudzu hasn’t actually taken over millions of acres. These other invasive species have.”
—headline, Vox, 25 August 2015

“E-cigarettes and health — here’s what the evidence actually says”
—headline, Vox, 24 August 2015

“How Obama’s Clean Power Plan actually works — a step-by-step guide”
—headline, Vox, 5 August 2015

“USA’s Mr. Robot actually does everything True Detective pretends to do”
—headline, Vox, 29 July 2015

“Which Republicans actually debated one another, in one chart”
—headline, Vox, 7 August 2015

My personal favorite, because it is simultaneously so completely disconnected from reality and so darn smug about it:

“The truth about ‘political correctness’ is that it doesn’t actually exist”
—headline, Vox, 28 January 2015

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EXCLUSIVE: Synod Reaches Compromise! Remarried Catholics May Receive Communion, But Only At Extraordinary Form Masses

Actually Pope Pius X or XII saying Mass in St. Peter's
EXCLUSIVE photos of the Synod on the Family, courtesy Fr. Rynne

The 2015 Ordinary Synod on the Family has today reached an “Extraordinary” compromise between “liberal” and “conservative” factions, De Civitate has learned. Speaking under condition of anonymity, Fr. Xavier Rynne of Boston confirmed that Catholics who have divorced, remarried, and remain sexually involved – thereby committing themselves, according to the constant teaching of the Church, to a life of unrepentant adultery – will be allowed to receive the Eucharist, a major victory for a faction led by Cardinal Walter Kasper, which has emphasized the importance of “mercy” over “legalism” and “the Gospel of Jesus Christ”.

However, in order to win support from reactionary bishops whose obsession with obeying Jesus borders on the Pharisaical, the enlightened Franco-Kasper faction was forced to make major concessions to conservatives. Although not all agree: “I prefer to see this not as a concession,” said Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi, “but as a wonderful opportunity for irregular couples to learn a new language!”

Under the apostolic constitution ratified Tuesday morning, remarried Catholics may present themselves for communion at Holy Mass only if the Mass is said entirely in the Latin language, with the priest facing away from the people, using the medieval Tridentine Rite. They must receive the Body and Blood of Christ on the tongue, while kneeling, at an altar rail, may only receive if they have also received the Sacrament of Reconciliation within the past forty-eight hours, and will be strongly discouraged (like most followers of the “extraordinary form”) from receiving every week, or even every month.

Immediate reactions are mixed. “Two steps forward, one step back is better than no steps forward,” wrote Michael Sean Winters of the National Catholic Reporter. “It’s past time progressive-minded Catholics started paying attention to the burgeoning Traditional Latin Mass movement, and this gives us a great opportunity to start looking at ways to support that movement. After all, if the TLM is exploding in membership and interest despite the huge demands it places on its supporters, then how much more would it grow if we got some Marty Haugen tunes into the TLM hymnals?”

Reached for comment at his confessional, Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, resplendent in camel-hair vestments, remarked, “Repent! For the day is at hand!” ate a locust, and then asked this reporter, “Seriously, are you here for confession or what? And how can you even tell what I’m wearing from behind the screen?”

The Society of St. Pius X has issued a vigorous condemnation, but, Superior General Bishop Bernard Fellay noted in his statement, “To be fair, we were going to issue a vigorous condemnation no matter what.”

Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, cancelled plans to release a statement of her own, saying, “Bishop Fellay pretty much covered it.”

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Bill Nye’s Big Lie and Science’s Bigger Problem

DID YOU KNOW THAT…?Embryology has clearly established that, scientifically speaking, human life begins at conception.


As a child, I was a religious fan of Bill Nye The Science Guy’s PBS show.  I watched every episode, and, as a result, I didn’t actually need to pay attention in science class until about the middle of 6th grade.  On a few occasions, I even corrected my teachers with information gleaned from his program!  I wanted to be a scientist when I grew up, and that was largely thanks to The Science Guy.  (I did end up a computer scientist, technically, but, with a mere B.A., I’m really a tradesman.)  Nor are Bill Nye’s talents limited to explaining science to children: his episode of Stargate: Atlantis was one of the best things that ever happened to that franchise.  My faith in Bill Nye was not extinguished by growing up.  When I saw that Nye had come out in favor of anthropogenic climate change, that was (more or less) when I stopped seriously arguing the point.  As the old saying goes, “Nye locuta est; causa clausa est.

I’m reconsidering that decision.

Bill Nye put out a video last week arguing for abortion rights.  I’ll let you watch it.

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Posted in Abolitionism, Mere Opinion | 2 Comments

Return of the Blogroll

I shut down my blogroll a while ago, because I discovered that all the blogs on it had either shut down or gone inactive.  Blogrolls are wonderful tools for sharing and building up blogs that would otherwise remain obscure, but it wasn’t working well for De Civitate.

But now a blog I enjoy — full disclosure, run by a friend of mine — has survived and stayed active for a year (yay), so I have an excuse to bring back the blogroll.  It’s in the right sidebar.  I’m even adding pictures this time.

That’s a very lonely little blogroll.  Just one item.  It needs more.  So: if you have a blog, and it’s a reasonably interesting blog, and it’s not about to roll over and die, and you’re willing to link back to De Civitate from your blog, then get in touch with me ( and we’ll talk about getting you onto my blogroll.

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Fetal Legal Eagle: Answering Common Objections to #DefundPlannedParenthood

The Fetal Legal Eagle Mascot: Umbert the Unborn (© Gary Cangemi)

It is no surprise, of course, that Planned Parenthood brutally dismembers living human children.  And the casual inhumanity with which their doctors commit and profit from murder can only be mildly surprising.  After all, we have all read (or, perhaps, pretended to read) Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jeruslaem.  Yet the citizen journalist videos recently released by the Center for Medical Progress (watch them if you don’t know what I’m talking about) have thrown the sheer shocking evil of the abortion industry into sharp relief.  I didn’t live in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s time, but I have always imagined the moral awakening that followed Uncle Tom’s Cabin felt something like what we’re feeling now.

The first, immediate, obvious, necessary, and urgent step to be taken, in light of the videos, is to eliminate Planned Parenthood’s federal funding.  The need for this is obvious to any remotely ethical human being, but, sadly, we live in a world where people generally think of themselves as much more ethical than they are.  So there are objections.  And objections to the replies to the objections.

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Posted in Abolitionism, Fetal Legal Eagle | 1 Comment