NCR Today

Reductio ad KKK


In teaching logical fallacies as part of persuasion and public speaking courses, I sometimes refer to a half-serious one called "Reductio ad Hitlerum," or "playing the Hitler card."

Debaters who use this fallacy attempt to "prove" that something is undesirable or evil by pointing out that Adolf Hitler or the Third Reich advocated or implemented a similar thing. It can be a fallacy because, of course, Hitler advocated some positive things, like classical music, for example.

Playing the Hitler card tends to derail any argument or conversation, because it--not surprisingly--angers the other side to be compared to a man generally considered to have been evil incarnate. Thus, its use is considered lazy, at best, if not always fallacious.

(There is also the--again half serious--Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies that states that all online discussions eventually degenerate to the point where someone compares another's beliefs to Hitler's.)

I was reminded of this as I've observed the recent debacle about Cardinal Francis George's comments comparing some in the GLBT rights movement to the Ku Klux Klan.

Cardinal George keeps pot boiling


It was expected that Chicago Cardinal Francis George would apologize or issue a clarification a few days after he compared members of a gay liberation group to the Ku Klux Klan. This he often does when he speaks impulsively or chooses an inept metaphor.

In this case, he did not retreat, choosing instead to throw more coals on the fire.

In an interview with Fox News Chicago before Christmas, George had commented on concerns at a north side parish that the gay pride parade scheduled for next June would interfere with its Sunday Mass services. He said, “You know, you don’t want the gay liberation movement to morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism." This prompted a flood of objections from gay supporters and community groups. Some demanded that George resign.

Morning Briefing


Cincinnati, Ohio -- Catholic school fires woman for being pregnant as a result of artificial insemination, which violated Catholic teachings and her employment contract.

Minna, Nigeria -- Our of security concerns, Bishop Uzokwu orders cancellation of traditional Midnight Masses on New Years Eve. Suggests early evening prayer services instead.

Worcester, Mass. -- Diocese seeks to have Filipino priest defrocked because of child porn possession. It is believed he has fled to his native Philippines.

Doors open for Anglicans to join Catholic Church Jan. 1

Snow and ice church


On the ABC News blog:

"A Church built entirely of snow and ice had its grand opening in the Bavarian village of Mitterfirmiansreut Wednesday night. Villagers built the church, which is made up of more than 49,000 cubic feet of snow, to commemorate the construction of a similar snow church in the village 100 years ago."

Read more of the story here.

Santa in the sanctuary


I have mixed feelings about Santa.

Sure, he represents the spirit of giving, is based on a saint and can be very useful for coercing good behavior out of children for about three weeks out of the year.

On the other hand, he has come to symbolize the overemphasis on presents, the blurring of the line between "wants" and "needs" and general excessive materialism during what should be a spiritual season. Nothing says "Gimme" like a kid making a list for Santa.

While most parents love to encourage the magic of Santa, making the annual photo on a store Santa's lap an important tradition, others shy away from embellishing the story too much. For it is a story, after all, and one children eventually learn is based on much "fibbing" by their parents.

But if you really want to get controversial, try bring up the topic of Santa in church.

As part of Christmas Eve family Masses, some parishes have added a visit from Old St. Nick, perhaps in part to pique the interest of kids who can't help but be thinking of what will be under their tree the next day.

Pennsylvania diocese loses appeal, to pay health provider $264,000


Back in October, I blogged that the Allentown, Pa., diocese lost its appeal in paying a health care provider for services provided to one of its priests, Fr. James Mulligan, who slipped, fell and injured himself.

The diocese lost its appeal for re-argument and will be required to pay about $264,000 to the Lehigh Valley Health Network:

In a slip-and-fall case involving a 72-year-old diocesan priest, Fr. James Mulligan, the Allentown, Pa., diocese, which self-insures for workers' compensation, claimed it was not responsible for 100 percent of the bills charged by the Lehigh Valley Health Network for acute care provided to Fr. James Mulligan for immediately life-threatening or urgent injuries at the Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest.

The total cost of in-patient care was $406,338.79. The diocese paid only $142,196, short-changing Lehigh Valley Health Network more than $260,000.

Morning Briefing



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May 19-June 1, 2017