Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Christian Halloween Fan

A full service website for all your All Hallow’s Eve needs. [HT: Mark Shea] UPDATE: HellCo's Corporate Propaganda

Pilgrimage Route to Reopen

Now here is something the Four Mass'keteers should one day undertake: an 100-day pilgrimage on foot from Canterbury to Rome: the Via Francigena, which dates back to the 10th century, stretches from England across France and the Alps into Italy. What ho and anon, gentlemen. What sayest thou?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Care Enough to Smoke?

Dang! I suspected I was being hasty with that non-smoking thing . . .

(via Instapundit)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Atheists - "Autonomous, Loose and Randy"

Doug Giles pulls the covers off with his slam-bang funny -- and truthful -- essay, Atheism: An Intellectual Revolt or Pelvic Rebellion?

Look, I’m not buying that the atheists’ altruistic self-professed pursuit of reason is what undergirds their conclusion that God does not exist; I believe it’s because they want to believe that they’ll never be called into eternal accountability for their temporal actions by a holy God. Talk about an opiate for the masses ...

Y’know, Karl Marx said religion is the “opiate of the masses.” I think the real poppy derivative is the black tar belief that tells you atheist lads and lasses that when you take the big dirt nap that’s it. Ah what peace. What a high. No God. No accountability. All our sins of commission and omission will never ever come up again. No pain. No penalty. No heaven. No hell. Imagine. Yeah, dude. Hold that hit. Let it out slowly. Ahhh. Feel better?

There’s your opium.

Ouch. Sometimes the truth hurts. But it is preferable to the alternative; namely, denial of the biblical God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who wants us to redeem us from a hell of our own design. Update:
What the New Atheists Don’t See -- Theodore Dalrymple (To regret religion is to regret Western civilization)

The Quiet Revolution of Middle Eastern Greed

S. Gregg posits an interesting observation in Islam’s Quiet Revolution:

Coherence is not something expected from fundamentalist terrorists. But Osama bin-Laden's latest missive (September 7th) to the rest of humanity attained new lows in confusion by articulating ideas normally associated with unrepentant Western European leftists trapped in the 1960s.

Amidst the usual denunciations, al-Qaeda's leader developed a new theme: an attack on globalization, multinational corporations and capitalism alongside praise of hard-left conspiracy theorist Noam Chomsky.

In bin-Laden's words, "I tell you: as you liberated yourselves before from the slavery of monks, kings and feudalism, you should liberate yourselves from the deception, shackles and attrition of the capitalist system."

Leaving aside bin-Laden's somewhat inadequate grasp of basic Western economic history, he's probably aware -- and worried -- that several thousand miles to the southwest of his Afghan-Pakistani hideaway, small but important Muslim countries are gradually embracing features of those very same market-systems he despises ...

Economic liberalization is not a panacea for all the Muslim-Arab world's problems. These go far beyond economic issues. But while economic liberty and free markets are not sufficient for societies to be free, they are essential.

Fifty percent of new entrepreneurs in the UAE, Sheika Lubna Al Qasimi claims, are women. In all four countries, religious liberty restrictions are also loosening as a concession to non-Muslim expatriates.

Presumably neither bin-Laden nor the Taliban are thrilled by these transformations. Not long ago, such changes would have been considered revolutionary in the Gulf.

But as the nineteenth-century French philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville observed long ago, economic freedom has a way of loosening those bonds that unjustly diminish other legitimate expressions of human liberty -- including, it seems, in Muslim cultures.

Whether or not capitalism can bring purely secular, multiculturalist goals of gender and ethnic equality is one question. In the West, as Belloc and Chesterton foresaw, it ushered in newer and more lethal forms of pagan barbarism -- look around. Is it a "strong horse" that bin Laden would rather Muslims not admire in his neck of the woods, er, dunes? That looks like a big yes.

Pursuing Christ - Into Great Silence

"And He said to them, 'Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.' (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.)" Mark 6:31-32

I don't know a single soul who does not acknowledge that the world we live in today is over-run with noise, distractions, anxiety and fear. Troubling to me is that we continue to increase our daily consumption of this noise without end, as if addicted to it, sensing or believing that it is the only way to fill the 'void'. And what is worse is that our refusal of the silence puts our children at tremendous risk.

Yes, this movie is about seeking silence, yet throughout its unraveling we are made aware of our need to strip away the noise so that we can come to real sustenance - real work. For those of us not called to monastic life, this movie provides a look into our very critical need today for sustenance - for silence. "For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat." Mark 6:31-32 They did not have time for what gives them meaning - sustenance.

Into Great Silence

"A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn't to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn't in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn't in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper."

“You seduced me, O Lord, and I let myself be seduced.”

“He who does not give up everything cannot be My disciple.”

Whether your teenager can sit through what Jesus asks of His disciples (Mark 6:31-32) or not, at least you should, and as one observer said, "I believe the experience of sitting with this film for three hours can change you; if you surrender to it you'll never be the same again."

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Combatants for Peace - Israel

A toe hold of peace and a testimony to the power of forgiveness between a grief-stricken father and a prison guard.

There's a Parable Here

I agree with LGF - Maybe the greatest music video ever. And, does it have an embedded parable of hope in it? The West -- secular, vacuous, nihilistic -- suddenly hears the Spirit and dances, jives, flies once more?

Saturday, October 27, 2007


Take your kids, nephews, nieces, pals to see "Enchanted" this Christmas and forget about atheist Philip Pullmans "The Golden Compass, which Dr. Ted Baehr calls An atheist's 'Narnia' knockoff. Baehr:
Pullman's world is a sad, animalistic universe. Since this is the only world there is, the trilogy ends in hopelessness. Love is not selfless giving, because that would be useless in a materialistic world. Love instead is the lust of pleasuring each other. In Pullman's world, there's no hope of eternal life where the lame and the blind and the deaf and dumb can walk and see and hear and talk, where the old are made youthful. There's no heavenly banquet, there's no loving God, there's no order, and there's no peace.

The logical consequences of Pullman's atheism can be found in the lives of the leading atheists of the 20th century – Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot – men who killed millions of their own people and had no respect for justice or love. Ultimately, it is a road that only leads to meaninglessness and murder.
It is about time parents and concerned persons of faith start to realize the profound effect that images, lyrics, and their embedded philosophies have on the hearts and souls of the young. Leave "The Golden Compass" alone with the other box office tripe and piffle it so richly deserves.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Nicean Blues

[Tip: M. Shea, Love to be Catholic]

How Do I Know Geo Washington Existed?

The former mufti of Jerusalem, Ikrema Sabri, has issued the historical statement that there never was a Jewish temple on the Temple Mount, and the Western Wall was really part of a mosque. Historians: take note. Jews and Christians: well, tough luck. Inquirers: Ask yourself: How do you know that George Washington ever really existed? Did YOU see him? And those pesky liars at NASA really landed men on the moon? Yeah, right. Were YOU there? Huh?

Just trust the mufti. The Temple? Never happened. Nope. Who ya gonna trust? Why? For YOUR epistemological certainty, remember one thing: Trust your imam.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Light'em If Ya Got'em

Do it ... for the Kids
[HT: M. Shea]

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A Bonny Good Post

On the Bridge of Khazad-dûm

Mark Gordon @ Suicide of the West gives the finest summary of the foes of the West in his post, Assessing the Enemies of the Shire. He kindly cites what I hope is my entertaining fictional yet didactic explication of René Girard's cultural anthropology, The Dionysus Mandate, though this is not why I laud it. Nope.

What Gordon does in his post is this: he circumvents the usual heavy breathing, ego inflation, and tangential rabbit-chasing that typifies most discussion about the "enemies of the Shire." I attribute this, being a Catholic convert myself, to the ballast and stability he has accrued from staying in close proximity to the Eucharistic Table, for one thing. For another, he has kept his understanding of Girard's mimetic theory, or "anthropology of the Cross," as he would have it, as an active tool for explicating one's self, others, and culture in general. Mimetic theory, a clinical sounding phrase, is a breath taking instrument for plumbing the depths of Everyman and every People. If one frequents the Sacraments as a practicing Catholic ("in every sense of the word," as our pal and mentor Gil Bailie says), and firmly resolves to see the world and oneself through the hermeneutic of the Church's Magisterium, to which Girard's work merely adds a forensic footnote in terms of sin pathology, one has as sure footing, vision, wisdom, and humility one is likely to possess in the early days of the 21st century.

If I read him aright, Gordon and I share a vast pessimism about human nature, but a far more sustaining assurance in the providential grace of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. May we all hoist a tankard of Green Dragon's finest one day in a Shire that is "safe and secure from all alarms."

Snake Handler or Snake Stomper? A Literary Rant

(Apologies to any genuine snake handlers . . .)

As a favor to a former student, I proofread a paper on D. H. Lawrence. The paper was fine as a lit. paper, but some of the facts that came out in it were head scratchers for me.

It was paper was on The Plumed Serpent (I haven't read it, but have at various times read most of Lawrence's other work). A key episode in the novel is when the character Kate takes part in a traditional Aztec snake dance and experiences a rebirth. The raw, primitive masculinity of the guys in the dance make her feel like a virgin ("Uw! Touched for the very first time.") She is figuratively resurrected as an Aztec goddess. Eventually she marries a key figure in the Aztec dance revival, who is himself a figurative ressurection of the Aztec hummingbird god--the hummingbird sucking nectar from a flower being connected with ritual bloodletting. (Resident Girardians take note.) All of this has much to do with "blood consciousness" and "phallic consciousness" and Lawrence's ideal of womanhood, which is earthy and, er, submissive. (Feminists take note).

Two facts came out in the paper. First, the female Aztec goddess never existed (instead, the figure in the dance is likely connected with an Indian slave woman who was the mistress of Cortez). Secondly, the Aztec snake dance was invented by Lawrence as well, a lot of it transposed from a Hopi snake dance he observed (with approval) in New Mexico. In fact, Lawrence was reportedly dissappointed that there wasn't a living tradition of native religious dance in Mexico. (How considerate of him, then, to create one out of whole cloth!). These factoids about Lawrence's non-factual facts are noted in passing by my former student, and neither criticized nor praised (which is OK--the paper is impartially describing Lawerence's spiritual vision and what components he needed to create in the fiction to make it work).

As for me, I was sort of like, "So, let me get this straight. To portray the revitalizing power of authentic pagan spirituality, Lawrence has to invent an 'authentic' pagan spirituality in the form of a Aztec snake dance that Mexicans don't actually perform, and an Aztec goddess that never existed. Oooookkkaaaayyyy." It struck me further that Mexicans actually do have a very strong traditional devotion, centered on Our Lady of Guadalupe--who also, as it happens, has a reputation for somewhat decisive snake stomping. One can speculate as to why the devotion to Our Lady of G. would not dovetail very neatly with the Lawrencian agenda. (Not kind to snakes? Not submissive enough?)

Finally, Lawrence's enthusiasm for multiple resurrections is curious. I remember his short story, "The Man Who Died," which put in narrative form his vociferous objections to the resurrection of Christ. It seems that (somewhat like Andy Warhol's 15 minutes of fame) every Tom, Cipriano and Kate gets to be resurrected, just as long as they are not Jesus Christ.

End of literary rant.

Duffy Presentation on BBC

Fr Nicholas Schofield reports the following @ Roman Miscellany: Professor Eamon Duffy (author of Stripping of the Altars and Professor of the History of Christianity at Cambridge) has started an interesting series for BBC Radio 4 called Ten Popes Who Shook the World - and he starts with St Peter. Listen to it here.

He'll be looking at St Leo the Great, St Gregory the Great, St Gregory VII, Innocent III, Paul III (an interesting choice), Bl Pius IX, Pius XII, Bl John XXIII and John Paul II. It will be particularly interesting to hear his analysis of more recent pontiffs. The write-up on Pius XII poses the promising question: 'struggling to remain impartial, Pius failed, in the eyes of many, to speak out strongly enough against the Holocaust. But has history judged him fairly?' However, the description of the John Paul II programme mentions the usual criticism of 'inflexible theological and moral positions,' which Duffy mentioned in his Saints and Sinners book.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Whose Star Shines?

Decide whose star shines brightest in this mockumentary. Is it smarmy John Safran or crusty Father Bob McGuire? [Tip: Holy Smoke]

More Star Wars Spoofing

To complement Ath's Darth Vader Microsoft thing. This is a funny "Cops" type parody with surprisingly good effects.
(Maybe PG-13 for violence.)

Gagdad Bob on Science, Atheism, Intuition and Polanyi

A funky little reflection but maybe worth a read if you're a Michael Polanyi enthusiast (and I am).

Via Pajamas Media

But Is it D'Art?

Or "Art for D'Art's sake." For our resident music man: This has been making the rounds lately. And anyway, we've been a bit thin on music these days.

(I'm being extremely liberal in my use of the words "art" and "music.")

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Plague of Porn-St Augustine Provides Help

This from Catholic Tube

John Piper* reads quotes of St. Augustine’s confessions and makes the correlation to the temptations that Augustine faced, with the temptations that men face in this “advanced” modern society which promotes the disease of pornography as if it were a tasty fruit.

*NOTE: The reader is not Catholic, but he is reading the words of St. Augustine*

Idolatrous Rex

A recent fossil discovery in the Midwest has proved to explain the empty walls and altars, while leaving room for plasma screens, in the Mega-churchs of North America. The newly named Idolatrous Rex appears to be a small, single sighted creature, often found with an abundantly underlined Bible, but without any religious symbols found anywhere in it's meeting or dwelling place (save for a strange "fish" emblem , below a Baltimore Ravens or LAX sticker, often found on it's SUV).

While it is rumoured that this creature was a follower of "The Way", there seems to be no physical evidence of this among the stadium seating (with cup holders) within it's meeting place, nor among the hundreds of family photographs which litter it's nesting habitat. In the writings they seem to love this God/man "Jesus" above all things, but in fact must be terribly afraid of His appearance, as there seems no images of Him anywhere, nor His "wondrous Cross" their Holy writings say saved them from sin and death.

Like the Masons, they could have possibly been a secretive society, not wishing others to see symbols of this "peace that passes understanding" or "unending joy", for fear they might steal it, although their Sacred writings seem to suggest they are to "spread the Good news". The huge televisions in the corporate areas, we assume were used to scare the collective into submission, by letting the "leaders" appear bigger than life (their writing calls it "exalting"), and who we are guessing are the Pharisees their book mentions.

While much further study needs to be done, we have concluded that it was most likely their single-sightedness that lead to their ultimate demise.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Bhutto Speaks

Porthos has been skeetering on the edge of exhaustion these days, with little time or mojo for extended Internet activity, but I noticed a brave speech byBhutto in one of my brief forrays into the blogosphere (via Instapundit).

Things like this tend to keep me from adopting the Neo-Isolationist stance developing amongst my Rad Trad pals.

"Engage," as Cpt. Jean-Luc Picard used to say.

Deadly Scimitar Phariseeism

Darfur refugee camp in Chad

Robert Spencer speaks about Wahhabi extremism @, ”Islamo-Fascist Bigotry: The Persecution of Believers”:
That jihad in Darfur features Muslims targeting Muslims. Such episodes, whether in Somalia, Darfur, or anywhere else, emphasize the need for peaceful Muslims to stand up strongly, in deed as well as word, against global jihadist violence. The sword of takfir ought to cut both ways, with peaceful Muslims willing to distinguish themselves from their bloody-minded coreligionists, and to repudiate their murders not just of fellow Muslims but of non-Muslims also.

Meanwhile, Islamic jihadists and Sharia supremacists continue, with increasing confidence and brutality, to impose – violently – their vision of Islam upon their coreligionists.
It is obvious to the readers of René Girard that we are seeing in this grotesque butchery the outlines of the primitive Sacred: yet another way of designating new victims for blood sacrifice. The parasitic resurgence of the primitive Sacred, sadly, has found an all-too natural a host in the "religion of peace."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Speaking of Faith, Hope and Love...

An interesting paper, "IN DEFENSE OF THE PERMANENT THINGS" by MICHAEL H. MACDONALD Professor of German and Philosophy who writes about CS Lewis. It seems that when we open ourselves up to a good sense of Tradition we must allow for a defense of the permanent things...

Over at Suicide of the West

Check out Mark Gordon's post, "Mr. Hitchens, Meet Mr. Girard" at Suicide of the West.

His post brings up many thoughts, too many to try to discuss right now, however I will submit a quote from Josef Pieper from "Faith, Hope, Love": Pieper quotes Aquinas,
"In all belief, the decisive factor is who it is whose statement is assented to: by comparison the subject matter which is assented to is in a certain sense secondary." ... (Pieper goes on to say) To believe means: to participate in the knowledge of a knower...No argumentation, no matter how "compelling," can actually bring us to "believe" in someone else.
I, for one, am all for debating and participating in intellectual discussions of religious beliefs, however when we are arguing Christian beliefs we must realize a different starting point, and like Gil has said,

Christianity is not a belief system, it is an encounter, an encounter with Christ, and for the most part, it is a mediated encounter, we encounter Christ in one another. We catch faith from one another, and then we learn about it. The doctrines are important, but that is not how we come to our faith.

[I bracket the following simply as a sideline comment. As to a discussion on substitutionary atonement theories from my limited Girardian perspective, I guess my take is that blood sacrifice was never meant to atone, to reconcile humans with God, but rather, that sacrifice was always part of the human attempt to eliminate violence. Jesus' death wasn't a sacrificial atonement, but God revealing once and for all the fallacy of the generative mimetic scapegoating mechanisms (GMSM) and revealing to us the roots of human violence and the ultimate failure of all of our methods to eradicate that violence. In fact, the method we have always used to eliminate violence, is shown to be an affront to God and only perpetuates violence, since the peace that is established can only be short-lived--the GMSM process embeds violence into the very structure of the society that uses it.]

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Woman Warrior Queen ... Yawn

Steve Greydanus gives a review of "Elizabeth - The Golden Age" that I expected, seeing the trailers. Greydanus calls it, aptly, a "Christopher Hitchens vision of history." If that isn't enough warning, Hilaire Belloc reminds readers that the queen's speech before and review of the troops at Tilbury --- as she rides in armor and tremulous tones of bravery --- was actually given after all English encounters with the Spanish armada, not before as the movie purports [HTRH, 243].
For another review, see Roger Ebert’s review. In it, Ebert asks, "Can there be a third Elizabeth film? Of course there can ... With the same cavalier attitude to history as this second film, we could be talking about 'Elizabeth and Shakespeare in Love.'"

ISO - A Spiritual Director

Deacon Greg posts a thoughtful recounting of a search for a spiritual director here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Because my name is Lazarus and I live.

My little ditty here is a way to lead into the Chesterton quotes that came to mind while I was at mass this morning.

It happened once again,
head bowed in prayer during
Mass this morning.

Nothing special with the homily,
maybe it was because a
friend returned from vacation.

There it was, the vastness
of ... everything rose from
the altar - no special fanfare

I remembered Chesterton
giving voice to this moment
not visible from outside.

"Only, when he has entered the Church, he finds that the Church is much larger inside than it is outside."

After one moment when I bowed my head
And the whole world turned over and came upright,
And I came out where the old road shone white,
I walked the ways and heard what all men said,
Forests of tongues, like autumn leaves unshed,
Being not unlovable but strange and light;
Old riddles and new creeds, not in despite
But softly, as men smile about the dead.

The sages have a hundred maps to give
That trace their crawling cosmos like a tree,
They rattle reason out through many a sieve
That stores the sand and lets the gold go free:
And all these things are less than dust to me
Because my name is Lazarus and I live.

"The Catholic Church is the only thing which saves a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age."

--G. K. Chesterton--

Monday, October 15, 2007

How Providence Usually Works

... In the Knick of Time
New Advent relays the story of
Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov, ”The Man Who Saved the World” one cold September night back in 1983.

A documentary is set to be released in 2008 that relates Petrov's heroism and judgment. Whew ....

The “Evil Generation” - St Teresa of Avila

Meditation of the Day from Magnificat

St Teresa of Jesus gives us a view of:

The “Evil Generation”

O my Lord and true God! Whoever does not know you does not love you. What a great truth this is! But, alas, Lord, there are those who don’t want to know you! A dreadful thing is the hour of death. But, alas, my creator, how frightful will be the day when your justice will have to be exercised! I often consider, my Christ, how pleasing and delightful your eyes are to one who loves you; and you, my God, want to look with love.

It seems to me that only one such gentle glance toward souls that you posses as yours is enough reward for many years of service. Oh, God help me, how hard it is it to explain this unless to those who have already understood how gentle the Lord is.

Christians, Christians! Behold the communion you have with this great God; recognize it and don’t despise it, for just as this glance is agreeable to his lovers, it is frightful with a terrifying wrath for his persecutors.

Oh, how we fail to understand that sin is a battle pitched against God with all our soul’s senses and faculties. He who can commit more sins, invents more treachery against his king. You already know, my Lord, that recalling that I might see your divine face angered with me on this frightful day of the final judgment caused me greater fear than all the pains and furies of hell shown to me.

I beg you that your mercy may protect me from a thing that would be so sad for me, and thus I beg it of you now, Lord. What can happen to me on earth that would resemble this? I want to possess all, my God.

May I not fail to enjoy peacefully so much beauty. Your Father gave you to us, may I not lose, my Lord , so precious a jewel. I confess, eternal Father, I have kept it poorly. But there is still a remedy. Lord, there is still a remedy while we live in this exile…

Now is the time to take what this compassionate Lord and God of ours gives us. Since he desires our friendship, who will deny it to one who did not refuse to shed all his blood and lose his life for us? Behold that what he asks for is nothing, since giving it is of our own benefit.

Saint Teresa of Avila (+ 1582), Doctor of the Church, reformed the Carmelite Order.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Grace of Faith Transforms Our Reasoned Certitude

Monsignor Ronald A. Knox out of the Magnificat by way of the Doctors of the Catholic Church.

“Your faith has saved you”

We don’t, strictly speaking, lead people a certain way by proving that our religion is probable and then invite them to take a jump, which jump we call faith. No, we claim to establish more than a probability; we claim to establish a moral certainty. Moral certainty is not inescapably evident to the mind, like mathematical certainty, but it is certainly still; sufficient reason on which to base a decision that is to alter the whole of our lives and the whole of our attitude toward life – if we will let it have its way with us…In the process of making the act of faith, we attain certitude …

The office of grace is not to provide a substitute for our natural operations, but to perfect our natural operations. It is the same power that manifest itself at Cana of Galilee, turning water into wine. When we are confirmed , we resolve to be good soldiers of Christ, and the grace of the sacrament transforms that resolve into something stronger than our natural powers could ever achieve…The grace of faith is not a substitute for reasoned certitude; it transforms our reasoned certitude and elevates it to a supernatural level.

Monsignor Ronald A. Knox ( + 1957) was a British Catholic apologist and translator of the Bible.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Even Monty Python Knoweth It

Daniel Mitsui, one of our greatest medievalists, fills in the vapid void that most moderns share about the Middle Ages; namely, that it was muddy, superstitious, and drab subservience to the Church. Oh yeah? Well, even Monty Python’s Terry Jones knows better.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Christian Response... H. Karlson

An interesting post over at Vox Nova by our friend, Henry Karlson entitled Evil In The World. He says,

"The Christian response is never to say yes to the anti-Christian’s No to Christ. It is not to engage the spiral of hate and violence. It is, rather, to be a bold witness, bringing the light of Christ further into the situation, revealing even more that demonic content, and bringing to it Christ’s loving Yes to humanity."

I sense a mimetic theory truth to this observation by Henry.

In the Shadowlands

While all Christians look forward in eschatological hope for our True Home in the divine perichoresis of the Most Blessed Holy Trinity, known lovingly during the Middle Ages as the Beatific Vision, such essential twentieth century writers as C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien acknowledge that our earthly vocations must include doing battle with exemplars of evil whose life and livelihood seem intent on destroying that which is true, good, and beautiful.

Lewis, as I note in this post, expressly states the utter need in extremis to do so. Tolkien, who like Lewis (in so many ways) fought and was wounded in the trenches of World War I, depicted the fight for Middle Earth as a mix and blend of warfare, providence, and bravery the likes of which just barely saved truth, goodness, and beauty by the narrowest of margins.

While contemplation of the Most Blessed Godhead is a vital part of our mission today as followers of Christ, is it all we are called to do? I think not. While in these "shadowlands", as Lewis called our troubled world, we are called to love and forgive even our enemy; but also defend all that we call good through legitimate defense. Occasionally the faithful thing to do is to do one's best to stop destroyers, practicing faith, hope, and charity in so doing.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Invitation to THIS DANCE is the Meaning & Goal We All Seek

From Deacon Keith A Fournier, Editor in Chief for Catholic Online, THE TRINITY: LIVING IN THE FAMILY OF GOD.

...It is a "eucharistic" view of the role of humanity in the wonder of creation.

In the actual text of the oldest Liturgy of Christianity, at the Eucharistic offering, the priest proclaims that the offering of Jesus is "for the life of the world" (liturgy of John Chrysostom; cf. John 6:51). That sense of offering oneself for the life of the world, in Jesus, lies at the heart of understanding the Christian mission and the meaning of life itself.

We are all invited into that communion through baptism into Jesus Christ! The “dance” of our relationship with Him and in Him and for Him continues through our participation in life in the Church, which is His Body. The Church now extends its circle of invitation through our participation in the world which will one day become His “kingdom”. (See, Revelations 11:15).

We are invited into the complete union of love with God and in Him, with one another! This experience begins now in our daily ‘ordinary” lives and will only reach its consummation in the life to come where we will be fully given over to God in this “dance”, this dynamic life of love.

The invitation to this dance is the meaning and goal of the spiritual life. Our response to God’s invitation to the dance opens us up to the very core of the meaning of our human existence!

(This is a reference from notes taken from Gil Bailie's ERI talk #1 in Wheaton, IL)

Have We Entered into the Story?

Entering the Biblical Story at the Eucharistic Table - Gil Bailie excerpt.

...there is no alternative to sacrifice, the only question is what kind of sacrifice is it going to be? In Jesus’ re-interpretation of it all, it is the anticipation of the messianic banquet and the induction of us all into the body of Christ. So this piece of furniture and the ritual we celebrate around it is absolutely at the throbbing heart of the Christian mystery. This piece of furniture is like the wardrobe in Narnia – you Episcopalians will always know Narnia better than any other denomination – it’s the wardrobe in Narnia where you enter into the story – the real story – where the story becomes vivid.

For much of my presentation so far I have talked about the story, recovering the story in scriptural terms, and of course we have to do that. But there is this place where we actually enter the story. We don’t just learn the story, and say the story, but we become actors in the story; we begin to perform the story. And I don’t think we should be too self-conscious about that kind of language. Refer to the unbelievable central passage from Paul, “I live now not I, but Christ lives in me.” We have to take that at face value. One has to say about that what Flannery O’Connor said about the Eucharist, if it is just a symbol, the hell with it. It is not just a symbol. Christians are here to be incorporated into the work of Christ in history.

Jesus never claimed to be operating on his own. He even says in John’s Gospel, “If I had come in my own name you would believe me, but because I have come in the name of the one who has sent me you don’t believe.” We are asked to be like that. We are asked to re-present Christ to the world. To be actors in the great drama – like von Balthasar’s ‘Theo-drama’, a magnificent orchestration of the grandeur of the Christian drama in history - and so the language of drama is appropriate – and the language of re-presenting it to the world in however way, even though we are all clay vessels, we are all clumsy, we’re all fallen and sinful, we don’t do a very good job of it, despite our clumsiness God knows how to use leftovers and misfits – in fact our clumsiness is part of it, our failures to do it are part of it.

We are called; we are incorporated; we are deputized to receive into our lives - personally and with our communion with one another - the spirit of Christ, and to step into the world and absorb all the anxieties, uncertainty and the confusion and be part of the light of Christ in the world. Having had the rug pulled out from under us as Jesus has done, without our stepping up as Christ-links, the world is going to go to hell in a hand basket. And we see that happening in many parts of the world today.

Jesus says take this cup, which is the cup of suffering. We don’t have to be melodramatic about it; there is suffering in our lives. The suffering that I should understand as redemptive is my suffering. The sufferings that I see other people undergoing I should not think that I am going to take it away, I won’t be able to, but I can be present with them in that suffering so they can feel that they are not alone in that suffering and perhaps feel the truth of the situation which is always, always, always that Christ is in it with them. They may not be able to experience that unless they know that I am in it with them. That may be their only entrée to the discovery that Christ is in it with them. Being in that suffering with others, and of course, that sometimes means helping to relieve the suffering, is our responsibility. Mother Teresa once answered a journalist’s comment, “…but you’re not suffering.” She said, “I am not worthy.” So all of us in this room have suffered, and some of us a great deal, but those who have suffered the most are worthy of it. And those of us who have suffered less must have admiration for those, and we must try to be there so they can feel God’s present.

We are called to bring forgiveness into the world, being there with people who are suffering from their own unforgivenness and being simply an agent in the presence of whom people can begin to feel forgiveness. Forgiveness is a great mystery; it is not some sanctimonious thing that somebody who has it gives to somebody else. It is a spirit that infects us – it always has an infecting agent. There is always somebody who brings it in and introduces it into a situation of unforgivenness, and it is our Eucharistic responsibility to be about that business. In order to be able to be about such business, we have to experience the kenosis (meaning: a self-emptying) of Christian discipleship. So we take our lives, and this is our supreme privilege, we must not see this as some kind of melodramatic act of renunciation, it is the source of our freedom, to take our lives, thank God for them because it is a gift to us, and break them or let them be broken and give them away. And then, Jesus says, “do THIS in memory of me.” Do what? Do this in memory of me. Not just the gesture, of course we do the gesture; of course the Real Presence, but when Jesus says, do THIS, He is talking of something much more vast then that. He means doing that which the gesture represents – being Christ in the world.

Monday, October 08, 2007

All Our Whining and Where Does It Get Us?

Sunday October 7th
Reading 1
Hab 1:2-3; 2:2-4

How long, O LORD? I cry for help
but you do not listen!
I cry out to you, "Violence!"
but you do not intervene.
Why do you let me see ruin;
why must I look at misery?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and clamorous discord.

Isn't this just like us - whine, whine, whine, whimper, whine, whine!

Then the LORD answered me and said:
Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets,
so that one can read it readily.
For the vision still has its time,
presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint;
if it delays, wait for it,
it will surely come, it will not be late.
The rash one has no integrity;
but the just one, because of his faith, shall live.

Wow, "The rash one has no integrity..." and what is integrity anyway, as I go stomping off to continue my whining.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Herding Cat-o-licks

A Bishop's Job Ain't Easy
[Tip: LGF]

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Good Shepherd's Face +

The Shroud of Turin, and especially the Face image, has been the source of great devotion for me over the years. The peacefulness, now, in death is juxtaposed in wrenching witness with the wounds. And, while I do not care for nearly anything else in Kazantzakis, these words of his spring to mind:
My God and I are horsemen galloping in the burning sun or under drizzling rain. Pale, starving, but unsubdued, we ride and converse.
"Leader!" I cry. He turns his face toward me, and I shudder to confront his anguish.
Our love for each other is rough and ready, we sit at the same table, we drink the same wine in this low tavern of life.
At moments as I pray the Rosary before this Face, it seems somehow like a stone monument of Our Lord and I smile. For I know that this image has a vindicated, more-alive-than-I-am, loving Person who has passed through death and wants to be Good Shepherd to all who are weary and heavy laden. To all the Prodigal Sons and Daughters of the world. All.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Feast of St. Francis of Assisi - October 4

“Francis of Assisi is not for everyone. Even many saints would not be comfortable with Francis. He appeals primarily to the heart. He would never be accused of being lukewarm, for he lived his life afire. Francis found God in real life. He led a life of radical devotion to God and to service of other people, especially poor people.
- excerpt from the book “Praying with Francis of Assisi”
Read a bit more here at Aquinas and More Catholic Goods

Only the Church

Being a lover of freedom, when the revolution came in Germany, I looked to the universities to defend it, knowing that they had always boasted of their devotion to the cause of truth; but, no, the universities immediately were silenced. Then I looked to the great editors of the newspapers whose flaming editorials in days gone by had proclaimed their love of freedom; but they, like the universities, were silenced in a few short weeks. …

Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler's campaign for suppressing truth. I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration because the Church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual truth and moral freedom. I am forced thus to confess that what I once despised I now praise unreservedly.

Albert Einstein, TIME, 23 September 1940
[Hat tip: Andrew Cusack]

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Forebears of the EU

A paean of praise for Christian Democracy at Vox Nova.