h/t to Dawn Eden at Dawn Patrol.
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Meditation of the Day
Placing Our Lamps on a Lamp Stand
The intellectual situation of the church has perhaps never been so open, so full of promise and so pregnant with the future at any time since the first three centuries. When Christians today take a pause on their pilgrimage and look back at the road they have covered, they see the horizons retreating and closing to form images that can be taken in at one glance; and, as the poet says, one can take leave of them with a blessing, rather than with a broken heart. The doors stand open for every new commitment, every initiative, especially on the part of laymen. And they ought seriously to tell themselves that the increased activity in the church’s organizational centers is often traceable not simply to the good will of the occupants but just as often to the lack of participation and imagination both intellectual and spiritual on the part of the lay groups. Where much ought to be in movement but only a little is in movement, one need not be surprised if an attempt is made to muzzle onlookers and do not themselves take part are those least entitle to criticize.
The future of the Church (and today she has the greatest opportunities) depends on whether laymen can be found who live out of the unbroken power of the Gospel and are willing to shape the word.
Father von Balthasar (+ 1988) was an eminent Swiss theologian who wrote prodigiously.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
The militant stainless steel "deliberate barbarism" of western abortion and birth control meets some resistence. Huzzah!
Monday, January 28, 2008
Catholics in the political arena must recognize that opposition to intrinsic evils, such as abortion, euthanasia, genocide, embryonic stem-cell research and same sex unions is always required by the faithful Catholic. Because these intrinsic evils are direct attacks on human life and marital dignity, they are nonnegotiable for every Catholic. Catholics must recognize, too, that in the other human life issues -- such as immigration, capital punishment, the economy, health-care and war -- the dignity of the human person must first and foremost be taken into consideration in seeking solutions to these questions.
As John Paul II reminded everyone involved in civil and legislative affairs, "A law which violates an innocent person's natural right to life is unjust and as such, is not valid as a law" ("Evangelium Vitae," 90). "Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection" (ibid., No. 73). We are warned in Scripture and by John Paul II that "we must obey God rather than man" (Acts 5:29, "Evangelium Vitae," 73).
Every Catholic who supports intrinsic evils is reminded that they will one day stand before the judgment seat of God and give an account of themselves and how they lived the Gospel of Life.
At the same time, as pro-life Catholics, we must have concern for immigrants, the suffering, the sick and the poor. We must work for the avoidance of war, the elimination of the death penalty and an end to drug trafficking. If we are truly going to be pro-life and build a true culture of life, all of these are matters of concern.
While there can be different solutions for questions regarding some issues which are not intrinsic evils, the inherent dignity of the human person from the moment of conception to natural death must be the lens through which all decisions are made. We must constantly, at every level, promote the dignity of the human person and the truth that every human being is created in the image and likeness of God from the moment of his or her conception until natural death.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Monday, January 21, 2008
Living as New Wine
The whole life of Christ recapitulates itself ever anew in man. To live as a Christian means to participate in the re-enactment of Christ’s life. This happens every time a believer takes a step closer to the Lord, whenever he conquers himself in the course of following Christ. When he carries out within himself the Lord’s commandment, something dies within him. And so on, ever the same. Until such time as there slowly grows up within him, “the glory of a child of God,” “made after the image and likeness of Christ,” at first invisible, concealed, covered over with ashes and debris, frustrated, imperiled; but then gradually growing stronger until finally it is revealed, after his death, and the old man drops away forever.
That is Christ’s love: that he lives in us in this way, and we in him, and what is his and what is ours becomes one. That is what Christ’s love is: the love of the Redeemer who dies for us: the love which bestows itself, which gives its all, body and soul, for us to feed upon; the love of being within us, so that his life becomes our life , and ours his.
That is what Christ’s love is. And it is only in the light that shines hence that all else that had to do with love in his life takes on clarity in the plan or design of Christ’s love: how he called to himself the weary and oppressed that he might comfort them; how he took unto himself all the sufferings of mankind, bringing relief; how he cast his mercy over the dark distress of nations; how he showed tenderness for all living things, plants, and animals: the first kind of love we spoke of shows in all these instances. That is the love that is revealed in them.
Monsignor Romano Guardini (+ 1968) was born in Italy and was a renowned theologian and writer.
The Pauline Year will therefore, particularly for Catholics, be an invitation:
A) to rediscover the great figure of the apostle Paul, his tireless and varied activities, his many travels, particularly recounted in the Acts of the Apostles, written by St. Luke;
B) to reread and study his numerous letters addressed to the first Christian communities;
C) to relive the early days of our Church;
D) to deepen his rich teaching addressed to all and meditate on his strong spirituality of faith, hope and charity;
E) to make a pilgrimage on his tomb, and in many places he visited, where he founded the first ecclesial communities;
F) to revitalize our faith and our role in the Church today, in light of his teachings;
G) and finally to pray and work for the unity of all Christians in a church that is united, and that it is true “Mystical Body of Christ.”
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Gil Bailie notes in his November 2007 ”Emmaus Road Initiative” series the powerful status of the primitive Sacred today in the forms of radical Islamism and an antiseptically sterile yet murderous postmodernism. C. S. Lewis, too, tried to warn us of its "hideous strength" in his Space Trilogy.
So why, then, is the immeasurably more heinous strength of postmodern abortuary madness and radical Islamist terror not brought before such tribunals? If you begin to feel the hideous strength of the primitive Sacred, good. The effect of the Gospel and, perhaps, the gift of faith, is at work in you.
You may be discovering one of the reasons you are alive and in the world in these dark and dangerous times. My suggestion? Follow that string out of the minotaur's labyrinth of the culture of death called the primitive Sacred. If you are blessed, it will lead you into the Catholic Church. If you are really blessed, you will be led to pick up Gil Bailie's Violence Unveiled and The (René) Girard Reader -- the two most useful taxonomies of the primitive Sacred you are likely to find.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Friday, January 18, 2008
Our hostess, Maid Dawn (center, pink blouse, vivacious smile) welcomed each and all to Chez Eden, a tidy and modest one-bedroom arrangement replete with balcony ("perfect for serenading," said she) and books stacked neatly everywhere ("until the bookshelves arrive").
May God bless and keep her through the upcoming thyroidectomy (end of the month). Read, post, and bask in the warm glow of your newly blessed home, Dawn.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Only for today, I will seek to live the live-long day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.
Only for today, I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in my behavior; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or discipline anyone except myself.
Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one.
Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.
Only for today, I will devote ten minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul.
Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it.
Only for today, I will do at least one thing I do not like doing; and if my feelings are hurt, I will make sure no one notices.
Only for today, I will make a plan for myself; I may not follow it to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two evils: hastiness and indecision.
Only for today, I will firmly believe, despite appearances, that the good Providence of God cares for me as no one else who exists in this world.
Only for today, I will have no fears. I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness.
If however, reason, solicitous of its presumed purity, becomes deaf to the great message that comes from the Christian faith and its wisdom, it would wither up like a tree whose roots no longer reach the waters that give it life. It would lose its courage for the truth and will stop being great - it would diminish.
Applied to our European culture, this means: if reason wishes to self-construct itself circumscribed by its own argumentation and that which convinces it for the moment, and - preoccupied with its secularity - cuts itself off from the roots through which it lives, then it does not become more reasonable and pure, but will decompose and break up.
With this, I return to our starting point. What does the Pope have to do or say in the university? Certainly, he should not seek to impose the faith in authoritarian fashion, because faith can only be given in freedom.
Beyond his ministry as Pastor of the Church and on the basis of the intrinsic nature of this pastoral ministry, it is his task to keep alive the sensitivity for truth; to invite reason ever anew to set itself to a quest for the truth, for goodness, for God; and along this path, call on it to be aware of the useful lights that have emerged throughout the history of the Christian faith, and thereby to perceive Jesus Christ as the Light who illumines history and helps us find the way to the future.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Amy Welborn @ Charlotte was Both has a couple posts on the picture above. May I suggest you take a look them.
The first post, Necessary Conversations started a chain reaction in the blog world, which she mentions in this post, What a picture is worth..., where I found the comments at Thrown Back particularly interesting. Anyone here have any comments?
Two responses/comments I liked:
1) Romulus, who wrote of the picture:
I see a man offering a sacrifice. The man has a cross on his back.
and 2) from Amy, herself:
As I’ve said before, my big ah-ha moment over the past couple of years has been the realization that most of us - myself included - have been formed to think of the Mass as a prayer meeting. A highly structured prayer meeting, but a prayer meeting nonetheless, one which emphasizes community and who we are in the here and now, a prayer meeting which should somehow be expressive of who we are as individuals and a community.
Prayer meetings are good. But that’s not what the Mass is.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Every man examines himself, every man examines his neighbours, to see whether they or he quite come up to the exact line of greatness. They answer is, naturally, "No" ...we are always praying that our eyes may behold greatness, instead of praying that our hearts may be filled with it ...
We are connoisseurs of greatness, and connoisseurs can never be great; we are fastidious, that is, we are small. When Diogenes went about with a lantern looking for an honest man, I am afraid he had very little time to be honest himself ... The error of Diogenes lay in the fact that he omitted to notice that every man is both an honest man and a dishonest man. Diogenes looked for his honest man inside every crypt and cavern; but he never thought of looking inside the thief. And there is where the Founder of Christianity found the honest man; He found him on a gibbet and promised him Paradise. Just as Christianity looked for the honest man inside the thief, democracy looked for the wise man inside the fool. It encouraged the fool to be wise. We can call this thing sometimes optimism, sometimes equality; the nearest name for it is encouragement. It had its exaggerations -- failure to understand original sin, notions that education would make all men good, the childlike yet pedantic philosophies of human perfectibility. But the whole was full of a in the infinity of human souls, which is in itself not only Christian but orthodox; and this we have lost amid the limitations of a pessimistic science.
Monday, January 14, 2008
In many ways, the typical Evangelical Protestant and conservative Catholic exhibits the virtue of tolerance in a much grander sense than the liberal religionist who thinks that no religions are true. For it is only when you believe that you are right and others wrong that the virtues of graciousness and respect become real, manly, virtues. The liberal religionist is like a man without genitals bragging of his chastity.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
The seemingly fatal disconnect seems to run down a tectonic fault line between what the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls "the integrity of the powers of life and love" (No. 2338):
This integrity ensures the unity of the person; it is opposed to any behavior that would impair it. It tolerates neither a double life nor duplicity in speech.
The beneficiary of this withering of the fruitfulness of the human family in the West is Islam. Whatever one may think of its theology, intolerance, or gender inequality, Muslims have not forgotten the vital necessity of not letting go of the hand of the past generation nor the need to procreate another.
What has caused this malaise in the West, in my opinion, is the following: we have allowed the basest, most ignorant, and coarsest sources of false ontology and epistemology to define the terms of discourse, value, and commerce. We have heeded so many clammering and shrill voices unworthy of our hearing -- hawkers, hucksters, blowhards, and mandarins (if the spate of presidential candidate "debates" come to mind, so be it).
The result a poor trade: instead of epistemological and ontological certitude we have opinions and attitudes; instead of lives grounded in lifelong, committed marriage and family, we have indecisive paralysis passing for "freedom" and pan-sexual debasement passing for "fulfillment". A waste at the individual level and a tragedy at the cultural. It is only a short step to matter-hating latter-day Gnosticism, if a step at all.
The prodigal son found the shortest path out of the pig-sty and back to redemption was coming to himself and trudging back toward his father's farm [Lk 15,11-32]. If the West wants to pull itself up and out of the mud wallowing of sexual and psychological promiscuity, it must do the same thing. It is the only way out and away from demographic winter and total collapse of all that is still worth redeeming of western civilization.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Friday, January 11, 2008
In my opinion, Stein is noticing, naming, and trying to confront the worsening level of scandal in the scientific research community. This is something of which many take notice, like Stein himself, but few know how to address. To do this, one must have revelatory knowledge borne of the Church and her saints, or the homespun wit and wisdom of a Flannery O'Connor, or, most exceptionally, the gift of René Girard's mimetic theory.
Having said this, let it be stated for the record that Girard, a son of the Church, would bow to the greater knowledge and magisterial wherewithal of the Catholicism, according to sources close to the great man. Indeed, again in my opinion, mimetic theory is a subset of the deposit faith; a true expression of the work of theology and anthropology in service to the Magisterium of Scripture and Tradition.
Even so, it is fun watching Stein clean the clock of Darwinian fundamentalists. Anyone want to watch? Anyone? Anyone?
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
One of the great puzzles of modern Britain is the political left's attitude to Islam.
Why should an atheist, sexual liberationist, morally relaxed liberal attack people such as me (as they do) for criticising Islam? They have nothing in common.
It is in fact quite simple.
The left will deal with any ally against conservative Britain. It thinks it can use Islam to further its ends, just as in the past it has allied itself with any anti-conservative, anti-patriotic cause that was going. But the alliance lasts only long enough to allow the Left to destroy what it doesn't like.
The trouble is, Islam is more serious and determined than any of the other people whom the left have sought to use for such purposes.
And so, while intending to dethrone Christianity and make this a secular society, the left now risks helping make this an Islamic society, which - if it comes to pass - will be profoundly hostile to everything the left wants.
These are the fruits of cynicism.
UPDATE: Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali stands by his views - Telegraph.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Are movies like “Hannibal” and the remake of “Halloween,” which serve up murder and mutilation as routine fare, actually making the nation safer?A paper presented by two researchers over the weekend to the annual meeting of the American Economic Association here challenges the conventional wisdom, concluding that violent films prevent violent crime by attracting would-be assailants and keeping them cloistered in darkened, alcohol-free environs.
Instead of fueling up at bars and then roaming around looking for trouble, potential criminals pass the prime hours for mayhem eating popcorn and watching celluloid villains slay in their stead.
“You’re taking a lot of violent people off the streets and putting them inside movie theaters,” said one of the authors of the study, Gordon Dahl, an economist at the University of California, San Diego. “In the short run, if you take away violent movies, you’re going to increase violent crime.”
Professor Dahl and the paper’s other author, Stefano DellaVigna, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, attach precise numbers to their argument: Over the last decade, they say, the showing of violent films in the United States has decreased assaults by an average of about 1,000 a weekend, or 52,000 a year.
Quirky. I'd love to know how he quantifies such "decreased assaults" -- mind reading? Precognition? Meanwhile, Mark Shea takes succinct exception in a related piece aptly entitled RUBBISH.
Mimetic theory agrees with Shea, not to mention mirror neurons. Such balderdash from an economist belongs in the bull-sessions of the undergrad dining room, not for publication. Lest someone actually take his advice seriously.
Monday, January 07, 2008
Saturday, January 05, 2008
What took place was a rather one-sided escalation of surly contentiousness (on her part) and a respectful and gentle defense of the Church's teaching about the Incarnation, human fallibility and culture (on Bailie's part). Yours truly tried to make an observation, quoting Our Lord's parable of the Publican and Pharisee who went up to the Temple to pray, but was met with a (probably deserved) disdain for interfering with the mano-a-mano engagement the virago ... excuse me, the lady wanted to continue.
In my Jungian days, I would have labeled Bailie's interlocutor as one caught in an archetypal complex. But now, I see her simply one intent on a Gnostic and decidedly unbiblical, anti-Magisterial, and heretical interpretation of the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity ("Cosmic Christ" and other such tripe and piffle) into which some cradle Catholics seem prone to fall.
That Bailie maintained an agreeable and equitable availability with the lady was admirable. That he didn't buckle to her less than gracious diatribe but held the fort for the Magisterium of the Church was one small victory in the culture wars.
Friday, January 04, 2008
From Evan Almighty
If someone prays for the family to be closer, do you think God actually wants them to just have warm and fuzzy feelings or does He give them opportunities to love each other? -- Al Mighty
"...lot of people didn't get the point of the (Flood) story, they think it is about God's wrath and anger...they love it when God gets angry..." Al Mighty
"What is the story about, the ark?" Mrs. Baxter
"I think it is a love story... about believing in each other. You know the animals showed up in pairs - they stood by each other... side by side, just like Noah and his family. Everybody in the ark were side by side. " Al Mighty
"But my husband says that God told him to do it. What do you do with that?" Mrs. Baxter
"Sounds like an opportunity. Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, do you think that God gives them patience or does He give them the opportunity to be patient? If one prays for courage does God give them courage or the opportunity to be courageous? If someone prays for the family to be closer, do you think God actually wants them to just have warm and fuzzy feelings or does He give them opportunities to love each other?" -- Al Mighty
You may have laughed, and I hope you did, as I did; laugh with all in the movie, but we need to always be asking, what have we done today with the opportunities He has provided us to grow, nurture and support the family - our own, others and the institution? Isn't today a great time to take our place in, with and support of the family, to build it up as God calls us to do?
Cutler Beckett -- a scum CEO-type who will make and break any deal under the pretence of "It's just good business" -- seems to have absolute control, even over supernatural forces, which he uses to his greed and power lusts. Small ownership, whether human, mythological, nautical, or supernatural, all cave to the overwhelming conglomerate.
But if this amounts to a kind of watery Distributism against the state of servility to Big Business, an undercurrent (sorry) exists too: what C. S. Lewis called (in That Hideous Strength) the Normal. Decency, civility, a recognition of fair-play, loyalty, and even the Golden Rule are known, again as per C. S. Lewis (in The Abolition of Man), when one is done unto. Lewis said that all persons have the Golden Rule embedded on their hearts. We may not practice "treating others the way we want to be treated," but all of us know when we have been ill-used, as shown in the pirates' repeated phrase, "Not fair!"
To top it off, the film gives probably the funniest depiction of purgatorial suffering shown on the silver screen, which Johhny Depp pulls off hilariously as Captain Jack Sparrow in Davy Jones' Locker.
All in all -- thumb up. Enjoy.
Thursday, January 03, 2008
I'm a Catholic. You got a problem with that? I'm a Christian too. You other guys got a problem with that?
My crowd has been calling themselves ''Catholic'' for 17 centuries. The adjective "Roman" added in the American context is a slur, sometimes unintentionally conveyed in the tone of the one using it. It hints that we are somehow foreign and perhaps subversive. It came into use when the ''publics'' started to recite the Nicene Creed and their leaders had to explain that the ''one, holy, catholic and apostolic church'' of the creed wasn't us.
We've been Christians since the beginning. The claim of the evangelicals to a monopoly on the term is little more than a century old. It excludes Mormons, secularists and Catholics. We don't like being excluded, and we might just begin to make trouble about it. We invented Christianity, guys, and your claim to sole rights is historical nonsense -- and bigotry, too.
These outbursts are intended as evidence that the rhetoric of the contretemps in Iowa is profoundly offensive to some of us. The United States is not and has never been a Protestant nation or a Christian nation, despite some of the claims made in the course of our history by Protestants ignorant of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
He said: "The same love that builds and maintains unity in the family, the vital building block of society, favors these relationships of solidarity and of collaboration among the peoples of the earth, who are members of the single human family."
The Pope affirmed that "there is a close relationship, therefore, among family, society and peace." Quoting his message for the World Day of Peace, he added, "Whoever, even unknowingly, circumvents the institution of the family, undermines peace in the entire community, national and international, since he weakens what is in effect the primary agency of peace."
He's saying undermining the family threatens peace, right? It seems demonstrable to me. Exhibit A: the
inner cities of the U. S.. Exhibit B: Europe.
You got weakened family structure, you get violence (where young males seek role models they haven't had in the family) or an essentially nihilistic society that can't recognize or resist violence (poor ole Europe).
(Sigh. For the days when Amy Welborn was as a rapid response resource for this kind of stuff. This will have to do for now.)
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
It is, perhaps, ironic that, at precisely the moment when a religiously grounded, existential threat to the civilization of the West (Islam) has manifested itself with real power, a new atheism, dripping with disdain for traditional religious conviction, has risen up in the form of broadsides by bestselling polemicists like Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris. Yet contrary to the claims of these new atheists and their call to the "maturity" of unbelief, a West that has lost the ability to think in terms of "God" and "Satan" and that has forgotten the drama contained in the idea of "redemption," is a West that will be at a loss to recognize what inspires and empowers those enemies of the West who showed their bloody hand on September 11, 2001. A West that does not take religious ideas seriously as a dynamic force in the world's unfolding history is a West that will have disarmed itself, conceptually and imaginatively in the midst of war.
• René Girard, Andrew B. Hammond Professor of French Language and Literature, Stanford University; Member, Académie française
• Robert Hamerton-Kelly, Volume Editor and Senior
Research Scholar Emeritus, Center for International Security and Arms Control, Stanford University
• Jozef Niewladomski, Dean, Faculty of Theology, Innsbruck
• Stefan Rossbach, Centre for the Study of Politics and Spirituality, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Kent
• John Ranieri, Professor of Philosophy, Seton Hall University
• Fred Lawrence, Professor of Theology, Boston College
• Peter Thiel, Independent Scholar, Founder/CEO of PayPal, President of Clarium Capital Management
• Wolfgang Palaver, Professor and Chair, Institute of Systematic Theology, Innsbruck
It looks like a great reference book for mimetic theory.
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
My own desire for reconciliation brought me to the East Village a little more than two years ago. I was at a little Orthodox church of the Carpatho-Russian jurisdiction, listening to the actor Peter von Berg read from something he had found on the Internet:
“The encounter with the beautiful can become the wound of the arrow that strikes the heart and in this way opens our eyes, so that later, from this experience, we take the criteria for judgement and can correctly evaluate the arguments. For me an unforgettable experience was the Bach concert that Leonard Bernstein conducted in Munich after the sudden death of Karl Richter… The music had such an extraordinary force of reality that we realized, no longer by deduction, but by the impact on our hearts, that it could not have originated from nothingness, but could only have come to be through the power of the Truth that became real in the composer’s inspiration. Isn’t the same thing evident when we allow ourselves to be moved by the icon of the Trinity of Rublëv? In the art of the icons, as in the great Western paintings of the Romanesque and Gothic period, the experience described by Cabasilas, starting with interiority, is visibly portrayed and can be shared.”
Our little group proceeded to a game of Guess the Author. A man who knows the Islamic tradition very well from the inside said that these had to be the words of a great Sufi master. The leader of one of the smaller Orthodox denominations suggested that great and good man Philip Sherrard, with whom I myself had been privileged to study, though all too briefly, and indeed it seemed like something he might have said, though for him, perhaps, even Bach would represent the egoistic assertion of Latin Christendom. Von Berg let us discuss this for a good while before he announced something that I already realized, that these were the words of the man the Catholic Church had recently elected Pope — though certainly not the Panzerkardinal depicted by the aggrieved media in the style of World War I posters of the Kaiser. They were addressed to a Meeting for Friendship Among the Peoples at Rimini, the very name, I must admit, having unpleasant associations with the late Mrs. Roosevelt.
Read all of The Pope’s Kitchen Cabinet