The Faith, the Catholic Church (the two were inseparable for him - and me), is discovered, is recognised, triumphantly enters reality like a landfall at sea which at first was thought a cloud. The nearer it is seen, the more is it real, the less imaginary: the more direct and external its voice, the more indubitable its representative character, its 'person', its voice. The metaphor is not that men fall in love with it: the metaphor is that they discover home. 'This was what I sought. This was my need.' It is the very mould of the mind, the matrix to which corresponds in every outline the outcast and unprotected contour of the soul. It is Verlaine's 'Oh! Rome - oh! Mère!' And that not only to those who had it in childhood and have returned, but much more - and what a proof! - to those who come upon it from over the hills of life and say to themselves 'Here is the town.' The true is proved by analysis and demonstration where there are to hand - where they are not, by direct vision: as is our proof of daily things and their reality. When vision again is lacking, how can it be proved? By its other aspect in the triune definition: by Beauty and by Goodness.
The Faith has Beauty and nothing has it so fixedly, permanently, pointingly. It is a Beauty ambassadorial and determinant, a proving Beauty. And it has Goodness, in this time of ours more marked than ever by contrast. It shines with, produces, supports, promises and reveals Goodness. I say again, it is a person to be discovered and not to be merely loved: a plenitude of excellent experience. Not only satisfaction, but conscious satisfaction. Satisfaction reasonable and final. You know the phrase 'Sero cognovi?' It expresses it all. And that other phrase the little teacher wrote me years ago which was a revelation to me and which I have quoted too often: 'Secure within the Walls of the City of God'.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
The Vatican has dismissed as a heretic a mystical medieval monk apparently cited by Barack Obama as a moral authority and visionary.
According to Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the Pontifical Household, the US President referred in campaign speeches to Gioacchino da Fiore, or Joachim of Fiore, as a ''master of contemporary civilisation'' who had sought to create a better world. Drawing on the Book of Revelation, Gioacchino envisaged a "new age of the Holy Spirit" in which the Church hierarchy would cease to exist and Christians would unite with infidels in an "Order of the Just".
Dante refers to Gioacchino da Fiore, who lived from 1130 to 1202, as a ''gifted prophet'' in The Divine Comedy, and claimed that miracles occurred to those who prayed at his tomb. His followers have applied to the Vatican for him to be officially beatified, the step before sainthood.
However, Father Cantalamessa said: ''Few of those who expound on Gioacchino da Fiore on the internet know, or go to the trouble of finding out, what this character really said." In the latest of a series of Lenten lectures for Pope Benedict XVI and the papal household, he said that, according to ''vogueish'' interpretations, the monk had proposed a "liberal and spiritual Church" able to move beyond dogmas and hierarchies. However, Gioacchino's views were ''false and heretical'', Father Cantalamessa said, since Christian believers were guided not only by the spirit but also by the laws of the Church. "It can be fatal to do without one or the other of these guides.''
After all, do not forget, as the Mass'keteers' friend, Gil Bailie, says:
re-enacts the event that reveals it.
Rome (AsiaNews) – For this Lent we are inviting our readers to devote a special prayer for Pope Benedict XVI. The idea came to us from a number of Muslim converts to Christianity who wrote to AsiaNews launching a novena for the Pontiff. They see in Benedict XVI as a “defender of the weak” and “a sign of Jesus’ love” in a world that is trying to attack him every which way. As new converts they too are among the weak, forced to hide their conversion even from their family. Moreover, the Pope himself had asked for a special prayer.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Reflecting of the "gravitational power of collective hysteria, the mob phenomenon" - The spiral in which we are falling into
As one casts out to sea in the contemporary world, modernist moorings are slowly left behind. It becomes increasingly difficult to recall precisely to what core essence one must remain true. The ideal of authenticity frays about the edges; the meaning of sincerity slowly lapses into indeterminacy. And with this sea change, the guilt of self-violation also recedes. As the guilt and sense of superficiality recede from view, one is simultaneously readied for the emergence of a pastiche personality. The pastiche personality is a social chameleon, constantly borrowing bits and pieces of identity from whatever sources are available and constructing them as useful or desirable in a given situation.Like so many postmodern apologists, Mr. Gergen – having diagnosed a self-dissolution that coincides with the loss of Christian sources of hope – must try as best he can to remain cheerful. Now perfectly unencumbered by the modern quest for what de Lubac termed “static sincerity,” the postmodern accommodates to his life as a de-centered “social chameleon,” taking bits and pieces at random from the incessant parade of mimetic models to which he is exposed. “If one’s identity is properly managed, the rewards can be substantial,” Gergen strains to assure his readers: “the devotion of one’s intimates, happy children, professional success, the achievement of community goals, personal popularity, and so on.” All this is possible, he imagines, “if one avoids looking back to locate a true and enduring self, and simply acts to full potential in the moment at hand.” Avoiding this glance backward – the glance that might awaken that blissfully dormant “guilt of self-violation” and its accompanying “sense of superficiality” – is what another postmodern apologist, the indefatigable Norman O. Brown, calls “improvising a raft after shipwreck,” the shoring up of fragments against one’s ruin...
... all that professor Brown can do with this immensely fruitful insight is to turn it into just another rough beast slouching toward the local mall or web browser to be fed and famished. Brown writes:
“…It is by means of a series of identifications that the personality is constituted and specified.” Trying to stay alive: it is always an emergency operation; “emergency after emergency of swift transformations.”
The postmodern self is adrift on a roiling ocean of mimetic stimulation vastly more mesmerizing than anything humans have ever known in the past, an incessant mimetic bombardment which fractures the subject’s psychological poise and diffuses his “ontological density.” This amounts to a spiritual invasion, against which the individual has little immunity. “From the one who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away” (Luke 8:18).
that is Adam's inattention,
his confused attention to everything,
impassioned by multiplicity, his despair.
Multiplicity, his despair;
at a barbaric fairgrounds --
noise, lights, the violent odors --
Adam fragments himself. The whirling rides!
Fragmented Adam stares.
dazzle, the lights blind him. Fragmented,
he is not present to himself. God
suffers the void that is his absence.
It seems to me that Levertov expresses so vividly what Archbishop Chaput depicts from the result of our last election where the electorate including the 54% Catholics voted for 'O': "unless Catholics have a conversion of heart that helps us see what we’ve become -- that we haven’t just 'assimilated' to American culture, but that we’ve also been absorbed and bleached and digested by it – then we’ll fail in our duties to a new generation and a new electorate."
While God longs and searches down the road to spy for the first signs of returning prodigal sons and daughters, being made imago dei, our free will contains within it the power to utterly reject the grace and being of our source, God.
Any system of thought that posits a reduction of this anthropology begins to lean toward the heresy of Calvinism, classical Protestantism, with its extremely high theology and low anthropology.
Will all those whom Christ encounters - perhaps eternally - when "he descended to the dead" freely choose to accept the grace proffered them, finally? That is out of our hands to speculate about, in my opinion.
What is certain is that in the here and now, there is no lack of rejection, reviling of, and actively working against the truths taught by the Catholic Church, the guardian of divine revelation. Those who live blithely ignorant or in agreement with such efforts to negate and suppress Mother Church need a conscience transplant.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Perhaps it is best thematized by Bishop Olmsted in a single sentence from his letter to President Jenkins of the University of Notre Dame regarding his invitation to I Won: It is a public act of disobedience to the Bishops of the United States.
Coming from a non-Catholic background myself, I see the long term ramifications of such a disastrous decision on the part of President Jenkins, though, apparently, he does not, being an impatient modern fellow who does not bother his head with Eric Voegelin's warning not to "immanentize the eschaton."
For, firstly, this was and continues to be the heresy par excellence of the Enlightenment project, from the French Revolution through the disasters of the 20th century, and on to the trite mayhem we are experiencing only leading edges of which were heralded in the pagan slogan, "Yes We Can."
But, secondly, Bishop Olmsted is doing more than stating the indicative. He is proclaiming a dread warning to Jenkins: Cut yourself off from the True Vine at your peril. Mainline Protestantism no less than the vast remains of Christendom are withering and becoming dry tinder ripe for the conflagration that Our Lord warns of in John 15.
Even so great an institution as the University of Notre Dame can be so short sighted if so great an institution as the Church in England can also cut herself off from the sole Church leading to the sad, dreadful affair the Anglican communion has become.
I, for one, would hate to see the Golden Dome become a relic of what it once was.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
For students of René Girard's mimetic theory, this is not a surprise rather a corroboration.
Monday, March 23, 2009
To know about probably the most faithful architect of Mother Church in 19th century England, read this, or search the Chronicles of Atlantis weblog for Pugin.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Just to show how the Holy Spirit works (by coincidences ... wink, wink), I happened to visit the Shrine yesterday morning, the day after my hospital visit to check if the Mitomyacin was working on my cancer. Good news: Yes, it is working - no new lesions or returning old ones, praise God.
Before my check up, I made a promise to visit the statue of the Mother of Mankind just outside the Crypt Church at the Shrine if I got a clean bill of health. I would light a candle of thankfulness to Our Lady and stuff a stiff, new ten dollar bill in the box. (All right, it was a limp, crumpled one - who cares? It was all my mad money.) Though I forgot that the Marine Marathon was being run that day, and my pilgrimage was rerouted endlessly, I fulfilled that mission.
Go watch Mark's video at Dawn Patrol. Then buy his new book, A Tremor of Bliss – Reclaiming Sexual Virtue from the Pagan Left.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
As mimetic theory posits on the basis of the archaeological record, the ignoring and/or rejection of the Judeo-Christian influence that is haute couture will not result in the progressivists' pipe dream of a secular-science based utopia; far from it. What we can expect is a newer, more technologically enhanced paganism. Take my word for it; it won't be pretty.
From this despair and gnawing helplessness, I suggest setting aside time each day for solitude: prayer before the Blessed Sacrament (if feasible), private contemplative prayer, lectio divina, the Rosary, even viewing Into Great Silence; in short, time to "be still and know that I AM God" (Ps 46,10).
The late Henri Nouwen reflects on the utter necessity of such solitude - for sanity, civility, community, and service in the world in his important book, Clowning in Rome.
How can solitude help our world? How can we, by practicing solitude, bring love into the world? In our emergency-oriented society, fear and anger have become powerful forces. Not only do we see ... daily ... people driven together by fear or bound together by anger, but we also start to realize that many of us in our families and communities are plagued by a restlessness tainted by fear and anger. We search to satisfy a growing need for community that offers a sense of belonging, a place where frustrations can be expressed, disappointments shared, and pains healed. We who in the past felt quite secure and self-confident today suffer from self-doubt, and sometimes from a deep sense of powerlessness ...
For this reason we will take a very careful look at the importance of solitude in our lives. It might be that by de-emphasizing solitude in favor of the urgent needs of our world, we have endangered the very basis of our lives as Christian witnesses.
How the hell did this happen? How did the largest single religious organization in the country, the oldest continuously functioning human institution on earth (after the fall of the Chinese monarchy in 1905), the heir to Roman law, the preserver of Classical learning and the creator of the university system, end up toothless and humiliated, basically begging for basic rights? Should Catholics see this as the fruit of an ugly conspiracy? Are the Protestants finally getting their revenge? Or are these just first hints of the persecutions to come pursued by the evil secularists whose creed is the “Culture of Death”?
There’s some truth in each of these notions, but giving them credence is really just a way for Catholics to let ourselves off the hook. The fact is, we had power and influence which we could have used in the service of the community, uniting Christian witness with civic duty. And we blew it ...
Continue reading …
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Modern intellectuals tend to confuse the deep meaning of the Gospel with the history of Christianity, which is fundamentally the slow process of coping with the heritage of the sacred mentality and with our mimetic behaviour. Men could not possibly do away with the sacred altogether, dismissing at once the mentality they had lived with for thousands and thousands of years... Man has a tendency to relapse into the sacred, prompting violence to defend any idea or principle seen simply as sacred...
It is also true that the historical process for the growth of this awareness is not linear and it is quite complex... It took centuries for the Western world to acquire a Christian sensibility. During the Middle Ages there was a relationship with violence that remained quite pagan in many ways, and in which the scarcity of goods certainly played a key role...
Let me say this differently: Christ's crucifixion means that the victimary mechanism will no longer work, for no one can imagine that the Jesus portrayed in the Gospels might be guilty. Therefore, the mechanism itself is revealed as deceptive as well as fundamental to human culture. This is the paradox that we have to try to understand, and to which my work has been devoted. pp 259-261
Jean Michel Oughourlian interpretation of the passionless individual; namely, contemporary individuals aren't strong enough to have mimetic desire. They aren't passionate about anything. This is something I used to believe could never happen, but now I am more open to it. Consumption society, which was 'invented' partially to cope with mimetic aggressive behaviour, has eventually created these socially indifferent human beings unable to communicate with each other and mainly concerned with what is strictly accountable in their life, in the sense of self-interest. p 251
Why are we able to use mimetic competition positively? Because we trust that we can keep competition from becoming violent. Capitalistic competition would be impossible were it not restrained by moral rules, which ultimately come from Christianity. p 242-243
The Cross has destroyed once and for all the cathartic power of the scapegoat mechanism. Consequently, the Gospel does not provide a happy ending to our history. It simply shows us two options (which is exactly what ideologies never provide, freedom of choice): either we imitate Christ, giving up all our mimetic violence, or we run the risk of self-destruction. The apocalyptic feeling is based on that risk. p 237
There will probably be some thinkers in the future who will reformulate this principle (criticism toward Christianity because it is too soft on victims) in a politically correct fashion, in more virulent forms, which will be more anti-Christian, albeit in an ultra-Christian caricature. When I say more Christian and more anti-Christian, I imply the figure of the Anti-Christ. The Anti-Christ is nothing but that: it is the ideology that attempts to outchristianize Christianity, that imitates Christianity in a spirit of rivalry. p 236
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Let me say that a good friend whose opinions I value greatly carries an animus against Fra Angelo. But this analysis is ostensibly too important to disregard for past regrettable events. The penal era in England has too much to teach us today not to examine comparisons and contrasts.
Lest any attempt to level such a charge in our delicate and gentlemanly direction, I share this evidence of our taste, class, and that certain ... je ne sais quoi. Voilà!
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Do you feel as helpless as an unworthy candidate trying to extricate Excalibur from the stone (see above)? Quite all right, friend. Instead of fretting over global catastrophes, the financial markets, and all manner of woe, it is quite high time to consider the gift that has been given you; namely, the gift of cognizance, life, breath, and the ability to love and be loved, to forgive and be forgiven.
Walker Percy said that we should all come to a moment of having sustained a crisis - like a suicide who realizes he is still alive and pats himself to see if he is still in one piece - sit on our front stoop and gaze in wonderment at the glory of our being.
If you get past that experience, may I recommend a more formalized form of being, that of Marian chivalry? Corpus Christianum is an association of men and women who seek to say Yes! as Our Lady did to the invitation of the Almighty.
We would welcome your company among our merry band of chivalrous knights errant.
He hovers in the imagination of many Cassandras as surely as he marches with his fellows, the masters, on the streets of major cities of the dhimmis who provide an adequate breeding ground for demographic superiority and a blind eye to his hate speech and actions toward Jews and Christians, his elders.
It is the archetypal nature of this figure that I find upsetting. René Girard has exhibited sufficient evidence of the nature of the primitive sacred to show conclusively that those people not influenced by the Gospel are likely to have such unflappability. Whereas those who have heard the cock crow know their own culpability, question their innocence, and can be enervated by it.
Such is the dilemma of Ralph in Golding's Lord of the Flies and Shakespeare's Hamlet. Interestingly, veterans of the trenches in World War I, C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, saw both the necessity of questioning one's fragile and dubious innocence and the absolute necessity of occasional legitimate defense.
But what is the reason for the strength, the psychological superiority, of the Scimitar figure? Why is this shining example, to use Lee Harris's phrase, without a masculine counterpart in the West? Is not Christ OUR "shining example?"
If so, then why are we enervated, degenerate (or un-generate) demographically, and quaking before an inferior "shining example" which leans so heavily on might, subjugation, and sacred violence?
Of course, the Old Testament prophets - Amos, Hosea, Micah, Isaiah, Jeremiah - would talk to us about judgment: that our present lack of vision and coming exile are by-products of our breaking covenant, not keeping the Torah, being adulterous, murderous, idolatrous. If we cannot see our Shining Example, whose fault is it? God's or our's?
Friday, March 13, 2009
Bush's nationally televised stem cell speech was the most morally serious address on medical ethics ever given by an American president. It was so scrupulous in presenting the best case for both his view and the contrary view that until the last few minutes, the listener had no idea where Bush would come out.Read all of Krauthammer's op/ed here.
Obama's address was morally unserious in the extreme. It was populated, as his didactic discourses always are, with a forest of straw men. Such as his admonition that we must resist the "false choice between sound science and moral values." Yet, exactly 2 minutes and 12 seconds later he went on to declare that he would never open the door to the "use of cloning for human reproduction."
Does he not think that a cloned human would be of extraordinary scientific interest? And yet he banned it.
Is he so obtuse as not to see that he had just made a choice of ethics over science? Yet, unlike Bush, who painstakingly explained the balance of ethical and scientific goods he was trying to achieve, Obama did not even pretend to make the case why some practices are morally permissible and others not.
This is not just intellectual laziness. It is the moral arrogance of a man who continuously dismisses his critics as ideological while he is guided exclusively by pragmatism (in economics, social policy, foreign policy) and science in medical ethics. (Emphasis added)
Science has everything to say about what is possible. Science has nothing to say about what is permissible. Obama's pretense that he will "restore science to its rightful place" and make science, not ideology, dispositive in moral debates is yet more rhetorical sleight of hand -- this time to abdicate decision-making and color his own ideological preferences as authentically "scientific."
Dr. James Thomson, the pioneer of embryonic stem cells, said "if human embryonic stem cell research does not make you at least a little bit uncomfortable, you have not thought about it enough." Obama clearly has not.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
While we are looking to the passions for fulfillment, our desire for the infinite is doomed to be frustrated. Once we realize this, we discover that God alone can satisfy the need which is basic to our nature.
Origen has described a striking vision of the soul plumbing the depths of evil by experiencing the horror of excess; after actually dying, having journeyed through the infernal regions, it eventually realizes that evil has its limitations, that one can be surfeited with it to the point of utter boredom. [I can vouch for this. -ed] Then God is revealed as alone inexhaustible, to whom everyone, even Satan, will turn in the end...
Metanoia, the complete turning round in a person's heart of hearts, is not an attempt to achieve some superficial mental improvement by an effort of will , to overcome some fault or vice. It is first and foremost the utter trusting in Christ who gives himself up to death, hell, and separation for us, for me; to the death which I have caused, to the hell which I create, and in which I make others and myself life, to the separation which is my condition and my sin. By enduring them, he has made death, hell, and torment the door of repentance and new life. Then we discover something we never dared hope for, that our hellish autonomy has been breached by sin, death, and despair, that these have opened us to the mercy of the living God. Then the heart of stone becomes a heart of flesh, the stone which sealed the fountain of life in our heart is shattered; then gush forth the tears of repentance and wonderment, washing us in the waters of baptism, the great waters sanctified by Christ in the beginning, in which we are purified and recreated by the Spirit. -Olivier Clement
Lord, let me walk that lonely road with you,
Under the weight of the wood.
Lord, let me walk that last mile in your shoes,
Under the weight of the wood.
Freedom can be found, laden down,
Under the weight of the wood.
Lord, let me cool your lips baked like clay,
Under the weight of the wood.
Dried up like rain on a hot, dusty day,
Under the weight of the wood.
They gave you gall and sour wine for your food,
Under the weight of the wood.
Father, forgive them; they don't know what they do,
Under the weight of the wood.
Lord, must the journey always end this way,
Under the weight of the wood?
How many times have we nailed you up today,
Under the weight of the wood?
Text and music copyright 1975, WLP
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
In legal theory, decisionism had a notable proponent in the German law scholar Carl Schmitt. Schmitt held that it is not the actual precepts of the law which determine its validity, but rather the fact that it has been made into law by the proper authority. Later in life, when Schmitt became a member of the NSDAP, he used decisionism as a way of justifying Nazi policy, when he was quoted as saying "Der Führer has made the law, der Führer protects the law".
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
More omnipotently, the president has now co-opted the federal income taxes paid by the faithful to do the work of Moloch, one or two steps removed from the Freedom of Choice Act he arrogated to sign into law before Planned Parenthood. His agenda is clear - to "do away with culture wars," because they are "so 90's" (read: silence foes of the "progressive" agenda once and for all). To what end?
The proponents are sincere. I do not doubt their sincerity. Nor do I doubt their thinking, their logic, their determination, or their belief that they are doing it all for a good reason, even for the good of all people.
What I beg to differ on with President Obama and all who are supporting and working so hard to enact against faith and morals that are NOT "so 90's" - they are so 32 A.D. - is this: their presuppositions.
What we as people of faith in general and Catholics in particular presuppose is diametrically opposed to their presuppositions. And the difficulty is that neither of us can prove our a priori first principles through which we view the same world, same evidence, same data: they are faith statements, and ever shall be.
What we as followers of Jesus Christ say, however, is that the vast heft and glorious weight of wisdom and Tradition vouchsafed in the Magisterium of Mother Church far, far outshines and outweighs the puny, proud secular and humanist knowledge, news and information recently garnered by the advocates of "progress", utopian change, and modern-day Gnostic pipe dreams.
We're in for a huge battle. Our enemies think, naively and proudly, their recent ascension to stately power make them nearly invincible.
We know differently. And that is why we practice the virtues, pray constantly, teach our children, and trust in the perichoretic power of the Most Holy Trinity in and through the sacramental presence of the Catholic Church which Our Lord promised would prevail against all attacks till He comes again.
In this excerpt Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor is addressing Christ, who has returned to earth but is arrested and imprisoned again:
Oh, never, never can [people] feed themselves without us [the Inquisitors and controllers]! No science will give them bread so long as they remain free. In the end they will lay their freedom at our feet, and say to us, “Make us your slaves, but feed us.” They will understand themselves, at last, that freedom and bread enough for all are inconceivable together, for never, never will they be able to share between them! They will be convinced, too, that they can never be free, for they are weak, vicious, worthless, and rebellious. Thou didst promise them the bread of Heaven, but, I repeat again, can it compare with earthly bread in the eyes of the weak, ever sinful and ignoble race of man?
Monday, March 09, 2009
So, your argument concerning Gans' approach is the necessity of pre-linguistic solutions against violence.
Yes, because there are also biological aspects which have to be taken into account. Such as, for instance, the features of humans in relation to primates, characterized by 'neoteny'. Neoteny is the persistence (retention) of juvenile characteristics in animals. In the case of Homo sapiens, we can observe, among other things, the loss of bodily hair, smaller bones above the eyebrows, inability to walk in infants, etc. All these things are physical-cultural and researchers are still wondering about how all this came about. My idea is that the scapegoat system makes it possible at a pre-linguistic level. At some stage of the evolutionary path - which turns primates into humans - a sort of prohibition of a religious nature or some sort of fear of an immense invisible power at the most basic level triggered prohibitions against violence. These forms of prohibition protected the female, and made possible long-range care for infants. The formula 'self-domestication' has been used quite often in reference to the human being: e.g. 'man is a "self-domesticated" animal'. NO, he isn't: it is religion, it is sacrifice that domesticated him. Religion is a structure without a subject, because the subject is the mimetic principle. I think one can have a purely realistic and materialistic interpretation of it. What I am suggesting is an integration of culture and biology through the scapegoat mechanism. pp 124-123
(In other words I believe Girard would say, man is a creature birthed and nursed along by religion. p121)
They (Dupuy and Dumouchel) say that the consumer society is the way to defuse mimetic rivalry, to reduce its conflictual potentiality. By making the same objects, the same commodities available to everybody, modern society has reduced the opportunity for conflict and rivalry. The problem is that if this is pushed to the extreme, as in contemporary consumer societies, then people ultimately lose all interest in these universally available and identical objects. It takes a long time for people to become disaffected, but this finally happens. The consumer society, because it renders objects available, at the same time also makes them eventually undesirable, working towards its own 'consumption'. Like all sacrificial solutions, the consumer society needs to reinvent itself periodically. It needs to dispose of more and more commodities in order to survive. Moreover, the market society is devouring the earth's resources, just as primitive society devoured its victims. However, all sacrificial remedies lose their efficacy because the more available they are, the less effective they become...
The consumer society turns mimetic desire and its possible crisis into a positive instrument of economic wealth, but it has a side-effect: when more of the same objects are offered, they become less and less mimetically desired. This creates an inflation of objects, the consequence of which is that one now has an array of objects which go directly from the shop to the bin, with hardly a stop in between. One buys objects with one hand, and throws them away with the other - in a world where half of the human population goes hungry...
The consumer society, at its extreme, turns us into mystics in the sense that it shows us that objects will never satisfy our desires. It can corrupt us in the sense that it can lead us to all sorts of useless activities, but it also brings us back to an awareness of our need for something entirely different. Something that the consumer society itself cannot provide. pp 79-81
"As a person of faith, I believe we are called to care for each other and work to ease human suffering. I believe we have been given the capacity and will to pursue this research* -- and the humanity and conscience to do so responsibly."
"We will lift the ban on federal funding for promising embryonic stem cell research," Obama said to vigorous applause at a White House gathering.
"We will also vigorously support scientists who pursue this research. And we will aim for America to lead the world in the discoveries it one day may yield."
Shares of companies specializing in stem cell research burst upward on the news, with Geron Corp up by as much as much as 35 percent and StemCells Inc up 73 percent at one point. Other related company shares rose, too.
* (my comment) Obama's Will-to-pursue is the new way of saying Nietzsche's will-to-power and as "René Girard has shown us what the god-making laboratory looks like. It looks like Golgotha, but one that ends, not with the realization of the victim’s innocence and the dispersal of the confounded mob, but with the mob’s celebration of its victory in a holy cause." This is the age of 'deliberate barbarism'.
Highlighted from the American Religious Identification Survey 2008
• The challenge to Christianity in the U.S. does not come from other religions but rather from a rejection of all forms of organized religion.
Fighting the "good fight" is at times battling on a slippery slope as numbers of the moral and ethical population dwindle yet as the religious relativists fall away the "good fight" becomes more apparent and clear as people will begin to experience what the real difference is between choosing life versus choosing death.
Sunday, March 08, 2009
Catholic News Service
ORLANDO, Fla. (CNS) – Declaring that stem-cell research does not present a conflict between science and religion, the U.S. bishops overwhelmingly approved a statement ... calling the use of human embryos in such research "gravely immoral" and unnecessary.(T)he bishops voted 191-1 in favor of the document titled "On Embryonic Stem-Cell Research: A Statement of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.""It now seems undeniable that once we cross the fundamental moral line that prevents us from treating any fellow human being as a mere object of research, there is no stopping point," the document said. "The only moral stance that affirms the human dignity of all of us is to reject the first step down this path."
Saturday, March 07, 2009
On today's EWTN program, The Good Fight, Gil Bailie was interviewed by Barbara McGuigan. A lively discussion ensued. It might be summarized by the observation of the great German theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar:
We witness this in bipartisan bickering. The political party in power gets to say, "We won," smile beguiling smiles, and set the terms of discourse ... as their rivals gnash their teeth and throw spit balls.
"Fighting the good fight" for people of faith in Our Lord means saying "Yes" to Christ our Lord and saying "No" to those who reject Him and His revealed Catholic truth of faith and morals in such a way that behind our "No" to them will (we hope) shine charity rather than mimetic enmity along with concern for the victims of the spirit of the age and culture of death.
Hard work this. But such Marian chivalry practiced with faith, hope, and charity is the vocation of all living in these days.
One last note: I found Bailie's responses to McGuigan's and callers' questions very distilled, concise, and, as usual with all of his work, profoundly helpful to our current situation. For more resources from Bailie and René Girard, see our sidebar (scroll down).
Thursday, March 05, 2009
From Gospel Chivalry Franciscan Romanticism by Mark of Whitstable:
Folly for Christ does not disparage true wisdom but conformity to worldly wisdom. It is the antidote to 'men pleasing' about which the apostle Paul gives warning (cf. Romans 7). In a special way it points to the incarnation signifying the foolishness of God as when Christ was stripped naked, clothed in mocking purple and became the butt of scornful laughter. Fools for Christ are thus driven mad by love, but a love for God who was made known by the folly of the Cross. One particular jester like saint was Philip Neri (1515-1595) whose pranks and merriment seemed to increase as he increased in holiness. He would wear his clothes inside out, receive dignatories on the commode (I love this one), and when overhearing people talk of his holiness would give the most outrageous chicken impressions. One of his favorite works of reference was the joke book of the fifteenth-century priest buffoon Piovano Arlotto. Like St Francis he really considered gloominess a danger to the soul. p 88"Cheerfulness strengthens the heart and makes us persevere in a good life. Therefore the servant of God ought always to be in good spirits." -Saint Philip Neri
Self-denial is never an end in itself but is only a help toward greater charity—as the life of Saint John Joseph shows.
When his term as provincial expired, John Joseph dedicated himself to hearing confessions and practicing mortification, two concerns contrary to the spirit of the dawning Age of Enlightenment.
John Joseph’s mortification allowed him to be the kind of forgiving superior intended by St. Francis. Self-denial should lead us to charity—not to bitterness; it should help us clarify our priorities and make us more loving. John Joseph is living proof of Chesterton’s observation: "It is always easy to let the age have its head; the difficult thing is to keep one’s own" (G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, page 101).
By Father Thomas Rosica, CSB
TORONTO, MARCH 4, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Moriah. Sinai. Nebo. Carmel. Horeb. Gilboa. Gerizim. Mount of Beatitudes. Tabor. Hermon. Zion. Mount of Olives. Calvary. Golgotha. Mountains are often used in the Bible as the stages of important encounters between God and his people. Though we may have never visited the lands of the Bible, we are all familiar with these biblical mountains and the great events of our salvation history that took place there.
Today's Old Testament and Gospel reading take place on two important biblical mountains-- Mount Moriah and Mount Tabor. Both readings give us profound insights into our God and his Son, Jesus, who is our Savior. First let us consider the story of the sacrifice of Isaac by his father Abraham as portrayed in Genesis 22:1-19. The story is called the Akedah in Hebrew (Anglicization of the Aramaic word for "binding") and it easily provokes scandal for the modern mind: What sort of God is this who can command a father to kill his own son?
How many pagan voices were assailing Abraham at this moment? What would a contemporary father do if he were to be called on to sacrifice his only son to God? He would be thought mad if he even considered it -- and unfaithful to God as well. What a poignant story indeed! "Take your son, your only son Isaac whom you love ... and offer him as a burnt offering. ... So Abraham rose early in the morning." Because Abraham listened to the Lord's messenger, his only son's life was spared. The binding of Isaac, then, is a symbol of life, not death, for Abraham is forbidden to sacrifice his son.
What happens on Mount Moriah finds an echo in what happens atop Mount Tabor and Mount Calvary in the New Testament: The mounts Moriah, Tabor and Calvary are significant places of vision in the Bible. For on these peaks, we see a God who never abandons us in our deepest despair, terror and death. God is with us through thick and thin, through day and night.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Think you're not a joiner? Didn't get on the Big O Bandwagon in the fall? So what?
Haven't you wanted to lower your level of consciousness and become part of a whole greater than the sum of its parts, just like those cartoon-protesting, church-burning, victim-seeking hoards in picturesque, exotic places (like London and Minneapolis)? Well, now you can!
But wait! There's more! Buy an 'angry mob' set (pictured above) for your favorite nephews or nieces. It's never too early to start practicing!
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Only mimetic desire can be genuine desire because it must choose a model more than the object itself
The real question is: what is desire? The modern world is arch-individualistic. It wants desire to be strictly individual, unique. In other words, the attachment to the object of desire is, in a way, predetermined. If desire is only mine, I will always desire the same things. If desire is so fixed, it means that there isn't much difference between desire and instincts. In order to have mobility of desire - in relation to both appetites and instincts from one side and the social milieu from the other - the relevant difference is imitation, that is, the presence of the model or models, since everybody has one or more. Only mimetic desire can be free, can be genuine desire, human desire, because it must choose a model more than the object itself. Mimetic desire is what makes us human, what makes possible for us the breakout from routinely animalistic appetites, and constructs our own, albeit inevitably unstable, identities. It is this very mobility of desire, its mimetic nature, and this very instability of our identities, that makes us capable of adaptation, that gives the possibility to learn and to evolve. p 58
Monday, March 02, 2009
One might think cynical conniving was behind the $550B electronic run on the banks just prior to the elections. One can throw stones a-plenty at the full steam ahead culture of death policies being put in place by the new administration. But the bottom line is, a majority of Americans voted in agreement with a leader who is setting up a stalwart team to implement what looks like the demise of the country in which we live.
Why? René Girard describes the cultural meltdown in wrenching detail through out his life's work on mimetic theory (cf. our Mass'keteers' sidebar collection of all things Girardian).
Therefore, it is truly the time for us to practice Marian chivalry, Franciscan simplicity, and all the virtues in this Lenten Journey through the 'Shadowlands' of our culture's gloaming.
The Church keeps the light of Christ ever burning, ever bright. We must set our lamps on lampstands and not under bushel baskets (Mk 4,21) where and as we can, individually as friends, spouses, parents, students, co-workers. Our Eucharistic and Risen Lord goes with us.
The Ignatius Insight interview of Gil Bailie is a fine introduction to the life and work of this "Roamin' Catholic" and "Road Scholar" here.
By the way, Bailie will on featured live on EWTN Radio Network this Satuday, 2-4 p.m. EST. Listen and call in your questions.
Sunday, March 01, 2009
Keshia Thomas, 18, uses her body to shield a man from protesters at a Ku Klux Klan rally in Ann Arbor, Mich. A crowd had begun to beat him with sticks after spotting a Confederate flag on his jacket. "Just because you beat somebody doesn't mean you're going to change his mind," Thomas said.