Saturday, February 28, 2009

True principle of demystification found only in one religious tradition

René Girard I See Satan Fall Like Lightning

Real demystification comes from our religious tradition. We "moderns" believe we possess intuitive knowledge solely because we are completely immersed in our "modernity." Let us not confuse true enlightenment with the idolatry of the here and now.

Why is the true principle of demystification stated fully only in one religious tradition, the Christian tradition? Isn't this intolerably unfair in the era of "pluralisms" and "multiculturalisms"? Isn't the main thing to make no one jealous or envious? Aren't we supposed to sacrifice truth to the peace of the world in order to avoid the terrible wars of religion for which we must get ready everywhere, so it is said, if we are going to defend what we believe to be the truth?

To respond to these questions I will let Giuseppe Fornari speak:

The fact that we possess a cognitive tool unknown to the Greeks does not mean we have the right to think ourselves better than they and the same is true in regard to non-Christian cultures. Christianity's power of penetration has not been its particular cultural identity but its capacity to redeem the whole history of man, summing up and surpassing all its sacrificial forms. This is the real spiritual metalanguage that can describe and go beyond the language of violence.... This explains the prodigiously rapid spread of Christianity in the pagan world, absorbing the living force of its symbols and customs.1

pp. 186-187

1 Giuseppe Fornari, "Labyrinthine Startegies of Sacrifice: The Cretans by Euripides," Contagion (spring 1997):187

Zeitgeist - René WHO?

If D'Souza's intellectual credentials as a supporter of the Christian faith give you heart burn, try Peter Joseph’s internet film, Zeitgeist (and The Skeptic’s reductionist review!). This one's for you, Aramis! Happy gnashing of teeth at the lack of Girardian awareness therein.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The radicalization of contemporary victimology produces a return to pagan practices

René Girard I See Satan Fall Like Lightning

The most powerful anti-Christian movement is the one that takes over and "radicalizes" the concern for victims in order to paganize it. The powers and principalities want to be “revolutionary” now, and they reproach Christianity for not defending victims with enough ardor. In Christian history they see nothing but persecutions, acts of oppression, inquisitions.

This other totalitarianism presents itself as the liberator of humanity. In trying to usurp the place of Christ, the powers imitate him in the way a mimetic rival imitates his model in order to defeat him. They denounce the Christian concern for victims as hypocritical and a pale imitation of the authentic crusade against oppression and persecution for which they would carry the banner themselves. In the symbolic language of the New Testament, we would say that in our world Satan, trying to make a new start and gain new triumphs, borrows the language of victims.

...

Actually, what the radicalization of contemporary victimology produces is a return to all sorts of pagan practices: abortion, euthanasia, sexual undifferentiation, Roman circus games galore but without real victims, etc.

Neo-paganism would like to turn the Ten Commandments and all of Judeo-Christian morality into some alleged intolerable violence, and indeed its primary objective is their complete abolition. Faithful observance of the moral law is perceived as complicity with the forces of persecution that are essentially religious...

Neo-paganism locates happiness in the unlimited satisfaction of desires, which means the suppression of all prohibitions. This idea acquires a semblance of credibility in the limited domain of consumer goods, whose prodigious multiplication, thanks to technological progress, weakens certain mimetic rivalries. The weakening of mimetic rivalries confers an appearance of plausibility, but only that, on the stance that turns the moral law into an instrument of repression and persecution. pp 180-181

We today "radicalize" the concern for victims in an anti-Christian manner

René Girard I See Satan Fall Like Lightning

What only the great insight of a Nietzsche could formerly perceive, now even a child can perceive. The current process of spiritual demagoguery and rhetorical overkill has transformed the concern for victims into a totalitarian command and a permanent inquisition. The media themselves notice this and make fun of "victimology," which doesn't keep them from exploiting it. The fact that our world has become solidly anti-Christian, at least among its elite, does not prevent the concern for victims from flourishing - just the opposite.

The majestic inauguration of the "post-Christian era" is a joke. We are living through a caricatural "ultra-Christianity" that tries to escape from the Judeo-Christian orbit by "radicalizing" the concern for victims in an anti-Christian manner. pp 178-179

They speak much of original sin, but they fail to make the idea concrete.

René Girard I See Satan Fall Like Lightning

Western theology, in rejecting the idea of Satan tricked by the cross, has lost a pearl of great price in the sphere of anthropology.

Medieval and modern theories of redemption all look in the direction of God for the causes of the crucifixion: God’s honor, God’s justice, even God’s anger, must be satisfied. These theories don’t succeed because they don’t seriously look in the direction where the answer must lie: sinful humanity, human relations, mimetic contagion, which is the same thing as Satan. They speak much of original sin, but they fail to make the idea concrete. That is why they give an impression of being arbitrary and unjust to human beings, even if they are theologically sound. p 150 (my emphasis)

No Longer Able to Limit His Capacity for Destruction

René Girard I See Satan Fall Like Lightning

By depriving the victim mechanism of the darkness that must conceal it so it can continue to control human culture, the cross shakes up the world. Its light deprives Satan of his principal power, the power to expel Satan. Once the cross completely illuminates this dark sun, Satan is no longer able to limit his capacity for destruction. Satan will destroy his kingdom, and he will destroy himself. (my emphasis)

To understand this is to understand why Paul sees the Cross as the source of all knowledge about the world and human beings as well as about God. When Paul asserts that he wants to know nothing besides Christ crucified, he is not engaging in "anti-intellectualism." He is not announcing his contempt for knowledge. Paul believes quite literally that there is no knowledge superior to knowing the crucified Christ. If we go to this school, we will learn more about God and humankind simultaneously than if we look to any other source of knowledge. p142

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A recession and its effects are caused by a mimetic contagion gone wrong

I am sitting here hoping that a good mimetic contagion will take hold and turn things around pretty soon.

Some strong and necessary words from Archbishop Chaput

Ahtos links to a good interview of Archbishop Chaput.

While I think others may get caught up with the 'politics' what interests me is his sharp understanding of how;
American Catholics need to realize that many in the current generation haven’t just been "assimilated" into the American culture, but have in fact been "absorbed and bleached and digested by it," Archbishop Chaput asserted.

If this realization doesn’t happen, the coming generations will continue on the same path and "a real Catholic presence in American life will continue to weaken and disappear," said Chaput.
Lets play connect the dots with another link from Chronicles of Atlantis on an interview of Dinesh D'Souza. We might conclude that there is a paradox or that both can't be right about the strength (or weakness) of Catholicism or Christianity, at least in the West.

So HERE is another dot from René Girard as he speaks of Christianity's great loss of ground (in more ways than one) over the last few centuries by way of relativism and a modern liberalization of Christian thought with a near total dismissal of dogma. These people, in fact whole congregations, may claim a Christian label but they will be like chaff tossed to and fro when they come to realize the crucial reason for the dogma.

So Christianity, as D'Souza says, may be the fastest growing religion in the world, yet we can safely say that it is not 'performing' at that pace in the West. I think Girard would agree with Chaput that we need to be people girding ourselves up with the Real Presence so we have something to pass on to the next generation.

BEWARE of the claims of being "more Christian"

René Girard I See Satan Fall Like Lightning

Christian dogma has always inspired distrust in Judaism and Islam, and nowadays many Christians are beginning to share that attitude (of contempt for Christian dogma). The Cross appears too strange to them, too outdated, to be taken seriously...

Christianity has been losing ground for centuries in the Western world, a decline that continues to accelerate. Now not only isolated individuals abandon the churches, but entire churches, led by their clergy, switch their allegiance and go over to the camp of "pluralism." This pluralism is a relativism that claims it is "more Christian" than the adherence to dogma because it is "kinder" and more "tolerant" toward non-Christian religions. p 122

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Efforts to minimize religion last remnant of religion in its archaic form

René Girard I See Satan Fall Like Lightning

The modern tendency to minimize religion could well be, paradoxically, the last remnant among us of religion itself in its archaic form, which seeks to keep the sacred at a safe distance. The trivialization of religion reflects a supreme effort to conceal what is at work in all human institutions, the religious avoidance of violence between the members of the same community. p 93

Don't sell short what countless repetitions account for

René Girard I See Satan Fall Like Lightning

The true guide of human beings is not abstract reason but ritual. The countless repetitions shape little by little the institutions that later men and women will think they invented ex nihilo. Actually it is religion that invented human culture.

Human societies are the work of the mimetic process that has been disciplined by ritual. Human beings know very well that they cannot master mimetic rivalries by their own powers. That is why they attribute this mastery to their victims, whom they take for gods. In a strictly matter-of-fact sense, they are wrong; in a deeper sense, they are right. Humanity, in my view, is the child of religion.
pp 92-93

Powers and Principalities - we cannot call the powers simply "diabolical"

René Girard I See Satan Fall Like Lightning

Though not identical with Satan, the powers are all his tributaries because they are all servants of the false gods that are the offspring of Satan, that is, the offspring of the founding murder. So here it is not a matter of religion for the individual or belief in a purely individual sense, as modern people tend to hold. What we are talking about here are rather the social phenomena that the founding murder created.

The system of powers Satan has engendered is a concrete phenomenon, material and simultaneously spiritual, religious in a very special sense, efficacious and illusory at the same time. It is religion as illusion, which protects humans from violence and chaos by means of sacrificial rituals. Although this system is grounded in an illusion, its action in the world is real to the extent that idolatry, or false transcendence, commands obedience...

The powers, though always associated with Satan and based on the transcendence of Satan, are not "satanic" in the same sense as he is, even though they are his tributaries. Sacrificial rituals do not seek to become one with false transcendence; they do not aspire to mystical union with Satan. To the contrary, they try to keep this formidable figure at a distance and hold him at bay outside the community.

We cannot call the powers simply "diabolical," and we should not, under the pretext that they are "evil," systematically disobey them. It is the transcendence on which they are based that is diabolical. The powers are never strangers to Satan, it's true, but we cannot condemn them blindly. Moreover, in a world that is alien to the kingdom of God, they are indispensable to the maintenance of order, which explains the attitude of the Church toward them. St. Paul says the powers exist because they have a role to play as authorized by God. The apostle is too realistic to go off to war against the powers. He recommends that Christians respect them and even honor them as long as they require nothing contrary to Christian faith. pp 96-98

Divine law enters our will - our will becomes one with His - we are really free

Pope Benedict XVI “lectio divina” on the Letter of Saint Paul to the Galatians at Rome's Major Seminary: “Paradoxically, freedom is achieved through service; we become free, we become servants of one another.”
We have been called by the Gospel, we have really been called in baptism, to participate in the death and resurrection of Christ, and in this way we have passed from the 'flesh,' from egoism, to communion with Christ. And so we are in the fullness of the law...By participation in the sacraments, by listening to the Word of God, the Divine Will, the divine law really enters our will, our will identifies with his, they become only one will and thus we are really free, we can really do what we will, because we love with Christ, we love in truth and with truth. Therefore, let us pray to the Lord that he will help us on this path that began with baptism, a path of identification with Christ that is always realized again in the Eucharist.

Ash Wednesday '09



HT: Fr Z and Nick Milne
ALSO: Jeff Miller has a nice Ash Wednesday round-up.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Choice is inevitable

René Girard I See Satan Fall Like Lightning

If we don't see that the choice is inevitable between the two supreme models, God and the devil, then we have already chosen the devil and his mimetic violence. p42

Lent 2009

Catholic Educators Resource Center brings us the Holy Father's message for Lent 2009.

At the beginning of Lent, which constitutes an itinerary of more intense spiritual training, the Liturgy sets before us again three penitential practices that are very dear to the biblical and Christian tradition -- prayer, almsgiving, fasting -- to prepare us to better celebrate Easter and thus experience God’s power that, as we shall hear in the Paschal Vigil, "dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy, casts out hatred, brings us peace and humbles earthly pride" (Paschal Præconium). For this year’s Lenten Message, I wish to focus my reflections especially on the value and meaning of fasting. Indeed, Lent recalls the forty days of our Lord’s fasting in the desert, which He undertook before entering into His public ministry. We read in the Gospel: "Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry" (Mt 4,1-2). Like Moses, who fasted before receiving the tablets of the Law (cf. Ex 34,28) and Elijah’s fast before meeting the Lord on Mount Horeb (cf. 1 Kings 19,8), Jesus, too, through prayer and fasting, prepared Himself for the mission that lay before Him, marked at the start by a serious battle with the tempter ...

Read all of the Message of His Holiness Benedict XVI for Lent 2009.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Caldecott - Lessons from the Middle Ages

Meanwhile, Stratford Caldecott speaks to the topic dear to at least two Mass'keteers' hearts, (neo-)Distributism.

Present-day admirers of G.K. Chesterton (The Outline of Sanity) and E.F. Schumacher (Small is Beautiful) are sometimes accused of wanting to return to the Middle Ages, and can be easily mocked for wanting to do so with full access to modern medicine and laptops.

But neither Chesterton nor Schumacher were so naïve. They were calling for a particular kind of progress – towards a more human-centered, though still technologically sophisticated and creatively developing, society. They both realized that there are particular concepts and ideas that were prevalent in medieval Christendom that we might indeed learn from, precisely to make that progress possible. In fact great cultural movements are often brought about by importing ideas from the past into a new social context – the Renaissance is one example.

So what can we learn from the Middle Ages to get us out of our current global crisis?

As a sympathizer with Chesterton’s philosophy of “Distributism”, and with the recent attempt to revive it by the “progressive conservatives,” I can suggest at least three things in order to encourage further debate ...

Read all …

Downward Spiral in Sacrificial Preparation


Part and parcel of the cultural degeneration embedded in the cycle of René Girard's "primitive sacred" is sacrificial preparation. The priest/shaman/kingship actively seeks the breakdown of social mores, intensifying the psychological and social agitation of the people, until the sacrificial denouement is reached in the ritual killing of the proscribed victim.

This was, as Gil Bailie notes, an "economical" method of restoring the peace and tranquility of traditional societies. When the single victim mechanism was working well, it only took one victim to bring about the cathartic release accrued in the sacrificial preparation. And, of course, the ritual was a re-enactment of the founding murder that lies at the heart of each and every culture; its memory, though in the hoary past, was preserved and guarded in the culture's myths, rituals, and prohibitions. It was a well-considered action choreographed to insure a return to a stabilized cultural milieu without getting out of hand and becoming a conflagration of total cultural destruction.

The haunting question is, do the so-called "progressives" who occupy the highest places of governmental power and influence know any of these anthropological realities? No, says
A renowned expert on the life and work of sex scientist Alfred Kinsey, widely known as the "father of the sexual revolution," is raising alarms over President Obama's pursuit of sex "education" for kindergartners and his plans to install a pornography advocate in a top Justice Department position.

Judith Reisman is a Ph.D. researcher and scholar whose exposés of Kinsey have appeared in several books, including "Kinsey: Crimes & Consequences" and, most recently, a new DVD called "The Kinsey Syndrome."

The new video documentary reveals dramatically the profound impact on American society from the “findings” of the famous sexual revolutionary, who succeeded in overturning most of the “morals” and “vice” laws of World War II-era America ...

(She) explains how Kinsey's campaign for extreme sexual permissiveness – many would say anarchy – now has resulted in aggressive demands for approval of alternative sexual lifestyles, rampant abortion, child molestations and even the kidnapping and killing of children.

Specifically, she explains (that) Kinsey's research was conducted intentionally to advance the agenda of a sexually promiscuous society, and the nation forever has been changed – for the worse – because of him.
Read all of the WorldNetDaily article here.

The key to understanding our cultural situation from a viewpoint of mimetic theory is to listen to the themes (economics, conservativism, liberalism, etc.) but observe carefully the structural aspects and how they relate to the anthropological realities.

In this case, Dr. Reisman is correct in seeing the dangers associated with the alarming naïveté and ill-informed choices of President Obama. Girard underpins her fears with structural understanding. The United States leadership is hell-bent on sacrificial preparation. Leading to what?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

'Nuff Said

ht: Karen Hall

In refusing the mimetic interpretation...we minimize the Christian significance

René Girard I See Satan Fall Like Lightning

Those who look for the causes of Peter's threefold denial only in the "temperament" of the apostle or in his "psychology" are on the wrong track, in my opinion. They do not see anything in the episode that goes beyond Peter as an individual. They believe, therefore, that they can make a "portrait" of the apostle. They attribute to him a "temperament particularly impressionable and impulsive," or owing to other formulas of the same kind, they destroy the typical character of the event and minimize its Christian significance. The main thing, I repeat, cannot be the psychology of the individual named Peter. In succumbing to the violent contagion that does not spare any of the witnesses of the Passion, Peter is not distinguished from any of the other disciples in a psychological sense.

Resorting to a psychological explanation is less innocent than it appears. In refusing the mimetic interpretation, in looking for the failure of Peter in purely individual causes, we attempt to demonstrate, unconsciously of course, that in Peter's place we would have responded differently; we would not have denied Jesus. Jesus reproaches the Pharisees for an older version of the same ploy when he sees them build tombs for the prophets that their fathers killed. The spectacular demonstrations of piety toward the victims of our predecessors frequently conceal a wish to justify ourselves at their expense: "If we had lived in the time of our fathers," the Pharisees say, "we would not have joined them in spelling blood of the prophets."

The children repeat the crimes of their fathers precisely because they believe they are morally superior to them. This false difference is already the mimetic illusion of modern individualism, which represents the greatest resistance to the mimetic truth that is reenacted again and again in human relations. The paradox is that the resistance itself brings about the reenactment.

The loan that places us most in debt - the other's desire

René Girard I See Satan Fall Like Lightning

Even if the mimetic nature of human desire is responsible for most of the violent acts that distress us, we should not conclude that mimetic desire is bad in itself. If our desires were not mimetic, they would be forever fixed on predetermined objects; they would be a particular form of instinct. Human beings could no more change their desire than cows their appetite for grass. Without mimetic desire there would be neither freedom nor humanity. Mimetic desire is intrinsically good.

Humankind is that creature who lost a part of its animal instinct in order to gain access to "desire," as it is called. Once their natural needs are satisfied, humans desire intensely, but they don't know exactly what they desire, for no instinct guides them. We do not each have our own desire, one really our own. The essence of desire is to have no essential goal. Truly to desire, we must have recourse to people about us; we have to borrow their desires.

This borrowing occurs quite often without either the loaner or the borrower being aware of it. It is not only desire that one borrows from those whom one takes for models; it is a mass of behaviors, attitudes, things learned, prejudices, preferences, etc. And at the heart of these things the loan that places us most deeply into debt -- the other's desire -- occurs often unawares. p 15

Offering to People the Model to Protect Them From Mimetic Rivalries

René Girard I See Satan Fall Like Lightning

When Jesus declares that he does not abolish the Law but fulfills it, he articulates a logical consequence of his teaching. The goal of the Law is peace among humankind. Jesus never scorns the Law, even when it takes the form of prohibitions. Unlike modern thinkers, he knows quite well that to avoid conflicts, it is necessary to begin with prohibitions.

The disadvantage of the prohibitions, however, is that they don't finally play their role in a satisfying manner. Their primarily negative character, as St. Paul well understood, inevitably provokes in us the mimetic urge to transgress them. The best way of preventing violence does not consist in forbidding objects, or even rivalistic desire, as the tenth commandment does, but in offering to people the model that will protect them from mimetic rivalries rather than involving them in these rivalries.

Often we believe we are imitating the true God, but we are really imitating only false models of the independent self that cannot be wounded or defeated. Far from making ourselves independent and autonomous, we give ourselves over to never ending rivalries. p 14

What is the basis of imitating Jesus?

René Girard I See Satan Fall Like Lightning

...It cannot be his ways of being or his personal habits: imitation is never about that in the Gospels. Neither does Jesus propose an ascetic rule of life in the sense of Thomas a Kempis and his celebrated Imitation of Christ, as admirable as that work may be. What Jesus invites us to imitate is his own desire, the spirit that directs him toward the goal on which his intention is fixed: to resemble God the Father as much as possible.

The invitation to imitate the desire of Jesus may seem paradoxical, for Jesus does not claim to possess a desire proper, a desire "of his very own." Contrary to what we ourselves claim, he does not claim to "be himself"; he does not flatter himself that he obeys only his own desires. His goal is to become the perfect image of God. Therefore he commits all his powers to imitating his Father. In inviting us to imitate him, he invites us to imitate his own imitation.

Far from being a paradox, this invitation is more reasonable than that of our modern gurus, who ask their disciples to imitate them as the great man or woman who imitates no one. Jesus, by contrast, invites us to do what he himself does, to become like him a perfect imitator of God the Father. p 13

Leveling Effects of Mimetic Rivalries

I am re-reading René Girard I See Satan Fall Like Lightning.

The more these rivalries are aggravated, the more the roles of model, obstacle, and imitator become interchangeable at the heart of the mimetic conflict. In short, to the extent that their antagonism becomes embittered, a paradox occurs: the antagonists resemble one another more and more. They confront one another all the more implacably because their conflict dissolves the real differences that formerly separated them. Envy, jealousy, and hate render alike those they posses, but in our world people tend to misunderstand or ignore the resemblances and identities that these passions generate. They have ears only for the deceptive celebration of differences, which rages more than ever in our societies, not because real differences are increasing but because they are disappearing.
pg 12-13.
emphasis is mine.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Choice the Dragon

Anthony Esolen looks at tales from The Quest of the Holy Grail, written by an unknown Cistercian monk of the 12th century, and sees a dragon that still devours hoards today.

Choice is the dragon of our day. It smuggles into its charcoal-smelling barrow not goblets and gilt pommels but human souls, one after another after another, enticing them there with “choices,” all of them more or less trivial, while it sits upon the hoard and snores away in its inhuman sleep.

We like that dragon. We eat the fruit of the land in season, out of season. We surf the speckled Internet for spiky games and delights, or for the sheer satiation of ennui, only a click away. We shop for schools, we demand “electives.” We shop for churches (alas that we should have to shop for churches), even shop for creeds. We will give the dragon our gold for the privilege of wider choice in how we may put our brain waves to sleep for a couple of hours a day, irritable and unaccountable as those brain waves are.

We find arranged marriages abominable. What, no choice? And after we marry, we retain a fail-safe, lest married life prove to be married life and not the predictable scripts of our own writing. We are the first people in the world who expect that our children will live far away from us and from each other. Why should anyone be subject to the geographical accident of having been raised in Bag-End, near a certain hill or beside a certain brook?

We even believe in the “freedom to choose,” a lizardly slogan that darts past the silent object of the infinitive: as if we feared that the children of our own wombs would be reptiles themselves, now come to prey upon our precious choice. We like that dragon. We like our choice ...

The dragon has a name; it is Choice. [ht: Mary Victrix]

Saying AAAAHHHH Preferred 41% Over Asking How Much is in the Checkbook


In a recent national survey 41 percent of women prefer going to the dentist over talking to their spouses about their daily finances.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Lenten Adventure

The Anchoress (Elizabeth Scalia) brings us a timely and highly beneficial primer on the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is nearly Lent, you know. And for a truly nice find, check out Dawn Eden's re-discovered writings of Father Daniel Lord, S. J. Here is one entitled, I Don’t Like Lent.

One More Post on Postman

(See HERE to view my previous writing on Postman) I want to throw out another Neil Postman post, as he has many attention grabbing ideas, but it may be my last at least for a while for as I read more of his articles online these last 2 days I began to again feel drawn to a much deeper and fuller reservoir of knowledge, or may I say, truth of us human beings, that being the work of René Girard. This is not to put down Postman for he helped me come to see much about the human predicament. He made sense out of what was going on around me as a student of human behavior - through my interest in marketing/advertising, as a retail store entrepreneur and as a parent of a special needs child (and his struggles particularly with schooling - right or wrong his mother and I chose public education for him). Anyway, here is a sample of juicy thoughts to ponder from Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death.

We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn't, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares.

But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell's dark vision, there was another - slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley's vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions". In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.

Today, some 22 years after this book, I can't help but see where we are beginning to experience some of Orwell's fears coming into play, maybe due in part because of how deeply Huxley's fears took root in our beings and then in our culture. If allowed to bring in a bit of mimetic theory, I think Huxley's comment about our huge "appetite for distractions" easily advances us to what Gil Bailie relates - the generational effect of this distraction, where its fruits are a generation of hearts of indifference or defiance. And these hearts of indifference or defiance will inevitably usher in a "revolution" from outside (enter Orwell's fear). Though great in their overt ways of grabbing the attention of the masses, these 2 authors were telling, maybe in a rudimentary manner, what the Church has been pronouncing some 2000 plus years and what Girard more recently has re-focused in methodology that some sciences can start to incorporate into their research.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Reality Check - Postman to Girard

Most important tip to Athos HERE and Daniel Mitsui HERE

I have been highly influenced by Neil Postman – particularly studying his early works Teaching As a Subversive Activity and The Disappearance of Childhood. It was in his works as well as the work of A.S. Neill that I started to realize the violence (at an institutional level) that we inflict on our children under our particular guise of education or catechizing as well as how that violence is slapped right back into our faces. I eventually fell away from his work shortly after discovering the work of Réne Girard yet Postman reappears here for me again.

All his points on the effect of technology on religious faith are intriguing yet I would like to pick up something from his point #4:

“That is also why we must be suspicious of capitalists. Capitalists are by definition not only personal risk takers but, more to the point, cultural risk takers. The most creative and daring of them hope to exploit new technologies to the fullest, and do not much care what traditions are overthrown in the process or whether or not a culture is prepared to function without such traditions. Capitalists are, in a word, radicals....

“I trust you understand that in saying all this, I am making no argument for socialism. I say only that capitalists need to be carefully watched and disciplined. To be sure, they talk of family, marriage, piety, and honor but if allowed to exploit new technology to its fullest economic potential, they may undo the institutions that make such ideas possible.”

Being a small business entrepreneur AND having studied violence, including the violence at the institutional and structural level, I am in tune with the dark side of Capitalism and I agree with Athos that with a statement like the above Postman opens the door for us to hopefully explore Distributism on a much deeper level.

On a different level I wanted to challenge us: Today we all make harangues (legitimate as they may be) against the encroachment of Islam into the West yet we remain veiled to how we ourselves usher Islam in by how we have allowed our very own culture to divide and conquer us – having us live lives in compartments separating our Christian faith and values from all the other aspects of our daily life. This cultural and psychological delusion of a separation of and from faith propels us into a ‘hell’ of its own needing no help from others of different religions. The implosion - a “failed transmission” of our faith - that the West is headed toward is in large part due to a fatherlessness that results in each later generation bearing hearts of greater indifference or defiance – neither condition able to pass on the viable and passionate faith of Abraham, Jesus and Paul. (Download Jan09 mp3 file of a talk given by Gil Bailie from his Emmaus Road Initiative)

If there is a growing awareness tugging at your heart calling you out of our violence to start the process of blending your separateness into wholeness may we suggest that you not only get fully active at your parish but that you pick up a work of Réne Girard, Evolution and Conversion: Dialogues on the Origins of Culture. Gil Bailie and his Emmaus Road Initiative is another great way toward integrating the legions of separation within and finding yourself kneeing in the Real Presence.

Lastly, let me change a word or two in Neil Postman's point #5 to make my final thought.

Our enthusiasm for the West (as we have created it to be today) can turn into a form of idolatry and our belief in its beneficence can be a false absolute. The best way to view the West is as a strange intruder, to remember that it is not part of God's plan but a product of human creativity and hubris, and that its capacity for good or evil rests entirely on human awareness of what it does for us and to us.

The heart of this awareness is a transformed education and catechizing that Gil so aptly talks about HERE:
Precisely because the content of the Christian revelation is the mystery of unimpeded giving and receiving of love within the Trinity, its transmission necessarily depends on a relationship of unguarded trust on the part of the recipient – which, of course, places a special onus on the transmitter, for if the recipient is docile to the transmission and the transmitter betrays the heightened responsibilities that this docility requires, he or she stands under the judgment of Jesus’ words: “If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matt. 18:6)

If individually and most importantly as we come to realize that it is only through helping others – so also collectively are to find our way back to the narrow path we must be aware that it is only through Him and that all other roads will lead, sooner or later, to a catharsis of blood-letting, nihilism and violence – the culture of death.

Postman - Technological Changes

Neil Postman via Daniel Mitsui: Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Kids at Play in TV Wasteland

Attending my father's 90th birthday bash over the weekend, my youngest son and I spent two nights in a Ramada. We don't have cable at home, so I got to view snippets of commercial television on cable. Kids TV shows my son turned on? Wow. What happened to Warner Bros. cartoons? Tom and Jerry?

Wasteland. Apparently I'm not alone in my thinking. Erin Manning at MercatorNet writes,
It's hard enough for adults to block out the streams of ugliness that can radiate from a television screen. Children don't have that ability; they often find the television mesmerizing, and are captivated by it. At our favorite pizza place, at least, the TV sets are tuned to sports channels and the sound is turned off, so if you sit where the closed-captioned words can't easily be read, the children are relatively free from the intrusion.

But when we stopped in at a fast food chain restaurant the other day, I was annoyed to see that the televisions hanging high overhead on two different walls were tuned to a cable news channel, just like the doctor's office. It seemed terribly incongruous in a restaurant that features clown faces and a "play space" to hear serious and even gory headlines which would then segue inanely into celebrity puff pieces; it made me wonder if the chain shouldn't change the name of their famous children's menu offering to the "mildly depressed meal" ...
Read more of Leaving the Kids to the Village Idiot here.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Revisited

I really love the band America and of course their version of "Lonely People" however D'artagnan's tip about Jars of Clay cover of this song led to a wonderful video version.

Happy Valentine's Day

A worthy Saint Valentine's post from Jill at Business of Life and it explains what you are seeing (above).

Friday, February 13, 2009

Tobin 'n Obama (Kind of)

Bishop Thomas Tobin carries on an interview with President Obama ... [ht: Curt Jester]

(The following is an interview I didn’t have, but can imagine having, with President Obama.)

BISHOP TOBIN: First of all, Mr. President, congratulations on your election and inauguration. They were certainly historic events that inspired a renewed sense of unity and hope for many Americans.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you, Bishop Tobin. Yes, the goal of my campaign and election was to bring people together, to heal the divisions of the recent past and to inspire new hope for all the citizens of our great country.

TOBIN: I think we’d all agree that your goals of unity and hope are very worthwhile. But for that very reason, many of us were surprised, and even disappointed, that you signed an executive order overturning the so-called “Mexico City Policy” within the first few days of your administration. As you know, your action directs that American tax dollars be used to fund abortions overseas. Why did you have to act so quickly on such a controversial policy?

OBAMA: Well, I believe it was important for me to fulfill the campaign promises I made to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. After all, they’re among my biggest supporters and I don’t want to disappoint them.

TOBIN: But the use of tax dollars to pay for abortions is very controversial. It’s a divisive policy. It violates the conscience of millions of Americans who respect life and oppose abortion. Isn’t that completely contrary to your goal of fostering unity in the nation?

OBAMA: Bishop Tobin, let’s be clear. I said in my inauguration speech that with all the problems our nation is facing we have to overcome narrow ideological positions and move beyond childish behaviors.

TOBIN: But, Mr. President, providing tax money to support abortion – isn’t that in itself an ideological position?

OBAMA: No, not in my view.

TOBIN: But do you consider the heartfelt convictions of pro-lifers to be “childish behaviors?”

OBAMA: Well, not exactly, but let’s move on . . .

Read more …

Friday the 13th

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Robert Coles - Sex, Envy, Videotapes

Never mind the videotapes. Educators are fully aware of the insights of Harvard's professor of psychiatry, Robert Coles. For those with mimetic theory ears to hear and eyes to read, the following is a wealth of wisdom.
When Freud listened to his first patients, he observed their substantial difficulty in coming to terms with their sexual thoughts and impulses -- to the point that, he began to realize, this aspect of their lives was hidden even from them, never mind others who might want to attend them, be of help to them. So it was that the unconscious, thoroughly familiar to novelists, and poets and playwrights over the centuries, took on new life as a construct in a neuropsychiatrist's metapsychology -- one, however, derived not from the reveries of a theorist, but from his daily clinical effort to understand his patients. Today, of course, sexuality is a virtual mainstay of our bourgeois, capitalist culture, a commodity, even -- sold, as it were, on the covers of magazines, in the advertisements for a host of products, and increasingly in the advertisements by individuals on behalf of themselves that appear in the respectable press (journals, newspapers), never mind the scandal tabloids ...
Read more …

What If

From a corresponding member of the 4 Mass'keteer, and, I might add, a powerful message:

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Go Merrily in the Dark

As brother Aramis says, the way that seems most apparently points to a faithful, loving, and just future is a a collective effort to get lean and be re-fitted in the amour of Christ. No truer words can be spoken, and, in my opinion, too, a form of Distributism rather than secular socialism or capitalism is the economic form it must take.

But we are living in a time when hubris is driving persons who are locked in a bipartisan death-spiral (read: mimetic rivalry in which the object of desire has taken a backseat to a destructive doubling rivalry that threatens all within its dance of death). If - IF - the $550B run on the banks preceding the elections was part of this power feeding frenzy and economy-busting grab to take the presidential election, we see what lengths this doubling rivalry will go - and we haven't seen the end yet.

But men and women of theological hope must realize with Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput the insight of his essential book, Render Unto Caesar. Namely,
“Critics like to say that religion is divisive, or intellectually backward, or that it has no proper place in the public square. … But this is nonsense. Democracy depends on people of conviction carrying their beliefs into public debate -- respectfully, legally and non-violently, but vigorously and without apology. If we are uncomfortable being Christians in a public debate, then we've already lost the war. In America the word "pluralism" is often conjured up like a kind of voodoo shield to get religious people to stop talking about right and wrong. In reality, our moral beliefs always shape social policy. Real pluralism actually demands that people with different beliefs should pursue their beliefs energetically in the public square. This is the only way a public debate can be honest and fruitful. We should never apologize for being Catholics.”
The way to making it through these dark, apocalyptic days so filled with apoplexy and fear is to keep our eyes and hearts firmly on the Agnus Dei, the "lamb of God who takes away the sin(s) of the world," the Lord of the Eucharist and One Who has over the world. How? Easy.

First, stay close to His altar, assist regularly at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Second, read the Gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John - know Him in the Word of the God, the Bible. Third, see how the Church teaches economics. And fourth, follow the Two Great Commandments (Matthew 22,37-40) - go on now, find it!

The devil's weapons, a priest said two weeks ago in the Crypt Church of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, are cynicism, despair, and violence. Our weapons more than counter his. They are faith, hope, and love. Never - never - fall into despair. Practice these virtues, seek God's Kingdom (Mtt 6,33), and "all these things shall be yours as well." Peace and joy, pilgrim.

What was your best St. Valentine's Day gift?

"Chivalry might be called the baptism of Feudalism," says Chesterton. "It was an attempt to bring the justice and even the logic of the Catholic creed into a military system which already existed."

And from chivalry came the idea of romantic love... and St. Valentine's Day.

So hoping that THIS trend does not catch on anymore than what it has already I thought I would ask folks to comment on what was their best valentine's day gift received or given.

Take a quiz on the history of St. Valentine's Day HERE and notice how mimesis played a role in this tradition.

The Fall

One of the most breathtakingly every-frame-beautiful, devious, archetypal and trustworthy films I have ever seen is The Fall (2006) featuring Lee Pace and a delightful, young Catinca Untaru (both pictured above). Though never ostensibly alluded to - except by carefully placed Crucifixes on hospital walls, Mass being celebrated just off stage, a stolen Host - Providence looms largely in this fantastic tale within a tale of heartbreak, despair, revenge sought (never got), comradeship, Girardian mediation, redemption, and love.

Director Tarsem (The Cell (2000)) keeps viewers in a constant waking dream state; meaning, one is richly rewarded for trusting enough to suspend one's sense of reality to enter this glorious, dangerous, deep enough for an elephant to swim in (one does, by the way), yet shallow enough for a broken little girl to safely explore round every corner.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

LC/RC - Mark Shea

It seems to me that Mark Shea gives the healthiest, up-front take on the Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi crisis regarding the scandalizing behavior of founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel, here.

Economic Stimulus Enhancement

Ht: New Advent

Father Barron on "Gran Torino" (SPOILERS)

If you have not seen the movie beware this video gives away quite a bit of the it.

The essential things in history begin always with the small, more convinced communities

I truly believe that the 'essential' time is upon us and the only way to spring forth from so much that has strangled life over the last 2 or 3 decades, like the relativism that has polluted our lives infecting many even within our church pews, is a collective effort to get lean and be re-fitted in the amour of Christ. This inevitably means a smaller Church (in actual numbers initially) yet those remaining will have their faith increased in vitality, exuberance and passion of Christ, and once more become the contagion for personal and cultural transformation as like the original 12 apostles and early church.

As Pope John Paul II wrote in 1990 that, "(n)evertheless, in this 'new springtime' of Christianity there is an undeniable negative tendency... Missionary activity specifically directed "to the nations" (ad gentes) appears to be waning, and this tendency is certainly not in line with the directives of the Council and of subsequent statements of the Magisterium. Difficulties both internal and external have weakened the Church's missionary thrust toward non-Christians, a fact which must arouse concern among all who believe in Christ. For in the Church's history, missionary drive has always been a sign of vitality, just as its lessening is a sign of a crisis of faith."

So even though there has been strong negativism directed at Christianity and the Church as well as a waning of activities to convert nations, resulting in a long and dark winter, springtime is approaching (for some of us though maybe not in our lifetime). The question is, "how are we building up the body of Christ" - for the building up of others' faith is the surest way of renewal of your own faith.

In a 2003 interview by EWTN News Director Raymond Arroyo of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger we get a glimpse of how this new springtime will unfold.

Raymond: The Pope (John Paul II) has talked a great deal about the New Springtime and you, yourself have laid out your own ideas. Your vision is a little different from some. Some see the numbers growing and everybody believing and dancing hand-in-hand (the Cardinal chuckles) into the millennium. You see a different picture. Tell us what that picture involves. How do you see this Springtime evolving?

Cardinal: As I do not exclude even this dancing hand-in-hand, but this is only one moment. And my idea is that really the springtime of the Church will not say that we will have in a near time buses of conversions, that all peoples of the world will be converted to Catholicism. This is not the way of God. The essential things in history begin always with the small, more convinced communities. So, the Church begins with the 12 Apostles. And even the Church of St. Paul diffused in the Mediterranean are little communities, but this community in itself is the future of the world, because we have the truth and the force of conviction... But we will have really convinced communities with élan of the faith, no? This is springtime — a new life in very convinced persons with joy of the faith.

Raymond: But, smaller numbers?

Cardinal: Smaller numbers, I think. But from these small numbers we will have a radiation of joy in the world. And so, it’s an attraction, as it was in the old Church. Even when Constantine made Christianity the public religion, there were a small number of percentage at this time; but it was clear, this is the future... And so, I would say, if we have young people really with the joy of the faith and this radiation of this joy of the faith, this will show to the world, “Even if I cannot share it, even if I cannot convert it at this moment, here is the way to live for tomorrow.”

It seems to me that much of our negativism that spawns a nihilism in our youth and that gets transmitted along a number of generations who lose or barely maintain a faith is, as then Cardinal now Pope Benedict XVI identified, a direct result of us "building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires."

Pope Benedict XVI advocated in his trip to America this past April,
“We can and must believe, with the late Pope John Paul II, that God is preparing a new springtime for Christianity.”

This new springtime is ushered in by a mature faith. Pope Benedict XVI describes this as, "(a)n 'adult' faith is not a faith that follows the trends of fashion and the latest novelty; a mature adult faith is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ. It is this friendship that opens us up to all that is good and gives us a criterion by which to distinguish the true from the false, and deceit from truth." This mature faith is fostered by passing it on, evangelizing and mission - by accepting your call to life in Christ.

Much of what I see as negativism is based on the "demise of the West" and there certainly is much to be concerned. Yet the West is not Christianity - the West sprung from Christianity and it is our sinfulness that has us clutching to the West and marginalizing Chrisitanity. I just cannot see where our call as Christians is to build up the West, as if the West is our salvation. The issue is our lack of faith and our unwillingness to be called out into spreading the good news. As Pope John Paul II relates; a "missionary drive has always been a sign of vitality, just as its lessening is a sign of a crisis of faith."

To help the West, if I am not way off base, is to mature our faith similarly as our youth grow into adulthood and take up their vocation whether that be religious or laity (and by way of either procreation or as the supportive community) to sow the everlasting fruits, as Pope Benedict XVI says, "in human souls: love, knowledge, a gesture capable of touching hearts, words that open the soul to joy in the Lord. So let us go and pray to the Lord to help us bear fruit that endures. Only in this way will the earth be changed from a valley of tears to a garden of God."

Here is another great way to describe what a mature faith looks, feels and acts like; it is by Gil Bailie from his January Emmaus Road Initiative:


Precisely because the content of the Christian revelation is the mystery of unimpeded giving and receiving of love within the Trinity, its transmission necessarily depends on a relationship of unguarded trust on the part of the recipient – which, of course, places a special onus on the transmitter, for if the recipient is docile to the transmission and the transmitter betrays the heightened responsibilities that this docility requires, he or she stands under the judgment of Jesus’ words: “If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of
the sea.” (Matt. 18:6)

Let us go forth and spread the good news!

PS: I can't help but think that "small, more convinced communities" is more apropos of distributism than of capitalism.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Stemming the tide by Doing the Lord's Work

I would like to follow Athos post on Simon's Fate with another Athos' post that you can find at Chronicles of Atlantis where he shares an article by Archbishop Charles Chaput - in it the Archbishop of Denver writes:

The truth is, the challenges we face as Catholics today are very much like those facing the first Christians. And it might help to have a little perspective on how they went about evangelizing their culture. They did such a good job that within 400 years Christianity was the world’s dominant religion and the foundation of Western civilization.

Rodney Stark, the Baylor University social scientist, is an agnostic. He’s not a Christian believer. But he became intrigued by a couple of key questions. How did Christianity succeed? How was it able to accomplish so much so fast? In his book, “The Rise of Christianity,” he focuses only on the facts he can verify. And he concludes that Christian success flowed from two things: first, Christian doctrine, and second, people being faithful to that doctrine. Stark writes that: “An essential factor in the (Christian) religion’s success was what Christians believed. … And it was the way those doctrines took on actual flesh, the way they directed organizational actions and individual behavior, that led to the rise of Christianity.”

Or we can put it another way: the Church, through the Apostles and their successors, preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ. People believed in that Gospel. But the early Christians didn’t just agree to a set of ideas. Believing in the Gospel meant changing their whole way of thinking and living. It was a radical transformation—so radical they couldn’t go on living like the people around them anymore.

The early Christians understood that they were members of a new worldwide family of God more important than any language or national borders. They saw the culture around them, despite all of its greatness and power, as a culture of despair, a society that was slowly killing itself. In fact, when we read early Christian literature, things like adultery and abortion are often described as “the way of death” or the “way of the (devil).”

Here’s the point: if the world of pagan Rome and its Caesars could be won for Jesus Christ, we can do the same in our own day. But what it takes is the zeal and courage to live what we claim to believe.

God created each of us. Each of us matters. Each of us has the vocation to be a missionary of Jesus Christ where we live and work and vote. Each of us is called to bring Christian truth to the public debate, to be vigorous and unembarrassed about our Catholic presence in society, and to be a leaven in our nation’s public life. That work needs to begin today, right now, among the people Jesus called to be his disciples and friends—in other words, you and me; everyday Catholic men and women, the people of God. All of us already have the ability to make a difference in the world by virtue of our baptism. Now we need to act on it. Now we need to live it. So let’s pray for each other, and encourage each other, and get down to the Lord’s work.

The complete link to the Archbishop's column is HERE

Simon's Fate

I want to speak briefly about one of the finest literary analyses ever written, William Golding's Lord of the Flies. If you passed through American high school education, you probably (had to) read it with all the relish of eating leftovers from the very back of the refrigerator.

Nevertheless, if you are fortunate - no, blessed by Providence - you may one day come across another analysis, that done by Gil Bailie of the Cornerstone Forum that was based on two works: Golding's (above) and Euripides' The Bacchae. In this analysis, Bailie neatly summarizes nearly the whole of the cultural anthropology of René Girard (called mimetic theory) and limns the deplorable fallen state of the mankind drawing from these two deep pools of wisdom, modern and Tragedian. My own meager fictional (and didactic) offering, The Dionysus Mandate, was born a runt from these two titan parents.

I want to suggest that Golding's work also provides us with a further insight. If one reads of the "choirboys" and their leader, Jack, one is looking at figures looming largely and dangerously in today's world: any who either have fallen out of the influence of the Christian gospel - neo-pagans in search of another pantheon to worship - or those who never were under its influence save in mimetic rivalry - the Scimitar. The former is gaining new vitality in the ruins of the old West, picking over its bones. The latter is swiftly immigrating into the West and propagating offspring at a rate that will overwhelm non-Scimitar man, conservative estimates say, by the mid-21st century.

Both worship a very different deity than the diminishing Christian faith of the West. Who represents the Christian in Golding or Euripides? Exactly. He does not exist.

But the one who represents the dying Westerner is present in Golding, at least: Simon. He employs the fruits of the Christian West - science - but cannot, in my opinion, be said to represent the Catholic or non-Catholic Christian.

And what is Simon's fate? He brings news from the realm of the primitive sacred - the false transcendence of the "pig's head on a stick" - to the boys on the beach. His is the fate of all victim-fodder before the mob of humanity possessed by the primitive sacred. He is murdered.

I fear that without the foundation of the Christian faith, western man will suffer the same fate as Simon. For fate it is to all who abandon the roots of the West, old Christendom. The power of the primitive sacred, in either its modern nihilist form or the street-mob Scimitar form is far too strong for the non-believing scientist trying to maintain himself with no true transcendence, no "external Mediator."

So Lord of the Flies is of only limited value to one seeking a way to live as a Christian in these darkening days of the old West. The fiction has yet to be written that provides such prescriptive answers. But who knows? Perhaps the author is out there right now, listening and following that divine muse insistently that he or she dictate the good news.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Jenky Calls Persecution Persecution

Deacon Greg Kendra presents the point of collision between The Catholic Diocese of Peoria’s Bishop Daniel Jenky and the news media and Illinois courts.
Catholic Bishop Daniel Jenky is lashing out at the news media and Illinois courts over the handling of sexual abuse allegations made against priests.

In a letter dated for distribution this weekend to Catholic parishes throughout Central Illinois, Jenky expresses concern over media coverage and court rulings he thinks have been unfair to the diocese.

“Amid all the tensions of our nation’s culture wars and in the face of the media’s intense hatred for our Catholic faith, I am increasingly concerned that our Church in effect no longer enjoys equal justice under the law,” wrote Jenky.

The diocese did not respond Friday to a request for comment on the letter.

Jenky defended the church’s policies and track record for dealing with abuse cases, saying credible claims have been settled while allegations unsupported by facts are rejected. He thinks measures put in place in recent years have made the church a safe environment for children.

The Catholic Diocese of Peoria has not allowed abusive priests to move from parish to parish, said Jenky, who also vowed not to be intimidated by “choreographed demonstrations or the abuse that is sometimes personally directed against me” by victims’ support groups.

The bishop questioned the motives of attorneys representing some victims and groups supporting them, saying, “Obviously (they) have a significant financial stake in trying to overturn our Diocesan policies.”

Jeff Jones, Peoria leader of the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests, responded Friday to a copy of the letter provided to the organization.

“It’s a sad day when the bishop has to use these kinds of tactics to make sure innocent victims receive no reparations. He will stop at nothing,” said Jones.

In his letter, Jenky also assures area Catholics that he will be a “prudent steward of the money you offer for the work of Christ” and warned that difficult days may lie ahead as the diocese faces the potential of more than a dozen abuse lawsuits. You can read more at the link. Meantime, advocates for victims have responded: A support group for those who say they were abused by the clergy blasted a letter Bishop Daniel Jenky planned to send out to the Diocese of Peoria this weekend, saying its contents are outrageous, sad and scary.

“It’s hard to know which of Jenky’s radical claims is more bogus — that journalists hate Catholicism or that the diocese handles clergy sex cases perfectly,” said Barbara Dorris, outreach director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, in a statement.

SNAP received the letter dated Feb. 7-8 addressed to all “priests, deacons, religious and faithful of the diocese,” from a concerned Catholic. SNAP provided the Journal Star with the letter.

The bishop wrote, “Amid all the tensions of our nation’s culture wars and in the face of the media’s intense hatred for our Catholic faith, I am increasingly concerned that our church in effect no longer enjoys equal justice under the law.”

+ + +
We see in this conflict the nexus of various groups claiming to set the definitive terms of discourse: on the one hand, the power of state with its courts, investigative branches, and those "special interests" that cater to the power of the state, none of whom declare any higher claim to truth than what human institutions define as truth. On the other hand, Bishop Jenky who, admittedly, has the irksome and reproachable task of dealing with fallen and sinful reprobate priests, posits a living link to truth claims whose origins and foundations make the state's look like sandbox decisions and tinker toy justice.

In short, the good bishop is calling out the courts, the MSM, and western culture's propensity for scapegoating the Catholic Church. And he is right. The victim is not rolling over the way its persecutors want. Neither did Job before the onslaught of his "friends". Eventually, neither did the disciples of Our Lord.

Read all of Deacon Kendra's post here.

UPDATE: Here is an example of an international attack on what Bishop Jenky, the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, and Natural Law stand up for. "Human rights" = Gnostic hubris and romanticism run amok.

Friday, February 06, 2009

SLOW down please, how do you expect to receive your Validation?

From the person who created the award winning short film, VALIDATION Kurt Kuenne does SLOW. Catch how Kuenne weaves the magic of photography to create a legacy in this video and watch how he uses mimetic desire to demonstrate our contagious nature, can't you relate?

Watch Slow (Director: Kurt Kuenne)

This morning during mass I heard the words from Hebrews 13:2 "Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels," and I thought of the short film, Validation and our need to be hospitable showing brotherly love to all as you never know if you are entertaining angels.

And if that wasn't enough our cantor sang just before the reading of the Gospel; "Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart, and yield a harvest through perseverance." We must always look to keep the faith especially when we are so apt to get caught up in some mimetic entanglement as if we were staring in the lead role of some soap opera or a B-movie.

Still Waiting For It

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Fire at Holy Name Cathedral

Holy Name Cathedral in downtown Chicago is a very special place for my wife and I. We pray that the fire that broke out this morning around 5:30am is contained and has not damaged the structure beyond repair.

Prayers for Amy

Deepest condolences to Amy Welborn from the Mass’keteers on the news of the sudden collapse and death of her husband, Michael Dubruiel. How near, how near is our mortality, O Lord. Yet how far we keep the awareness. Teach us to number our days, O Lord, and not to fill our lives with absurd distractions.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Blake - In Memory of D'artagnan's Father

O when, Lord Jesus, wilt thou come?
Tarry no longer; for my soul lies at the gates of death.
I will arise and look forth for the morning of the grave.
I will go down to the sepulcher to see if morning breaks!
Lest the Last Judgement come & find me unannihilate
And I siez'd & giv'n into the hands of my own Selfhood.

- William Blake, Vala or The Four Zoas‎: Night the First