Saturday, June 30, 2007

Ronald Knox on God's Love Incarnate

Ronald Knox (1888-1957) was (another) convert to the Catholic Church, and one for whom C. S. Lewis had great admiration. After their first meeting, they "both afterward expressed their delight with the other. Each was witty, humorous, very widely read; each had an unobtrusive but profound Christian faith. They had much to say to each other, and it was a pity that Monsignor Knox left Oxford and that they had few further opportunities to meet." Lewis went so far as to describe Knox "as possibly the wittiest man in Europe." [Pearce, 269]

Great wit and humor aside, Ronald Knox struggled with doubts himself and never stopped seeking ways to present the faith that would help others, too, in plain and simple ways. Here he finds evidence of Jesus' divinity in the ordinariness of Our Lord's life:
He came, and the world missed the portents of his coming. The stars could not keep the secret, they blurted it out to the wise men, their cronies; the angels could not keep the secret, they sang it to the shepherds over the fields of Bethlehem. But the world, the world of fashion and intelligence, was looking the other way. What, after all, was there for it to see? A baby, crying at its mother's breast; a boy working in a carpenter's shop; a street-corner orator, producing a nine-days wonder among the fisher-folk at Capharnaum; a discredited popular leader, ignominiously put to death; a corpse lying in a tomb -- and this was God! He rose again, but in doing so he showed himself to none but a handful of chosen witnesses; the world looked to find, him, and he was gone.

Would you know that Jesus Christ is divine? Then see how he imitates, in his humanity, the reticence of the God who created the world and left it to forget him, the God who rules the world, yet rules it imperceptibly; and recognize, in the masterpiece of the Incarnation, the touch of the same artist's brush. [Pastoral Sermons, 326-327]
Knox wanted also for persons to begin to comprehend the mysterium tremendum of God's universal love for all, and for each:
You pass through the streets as you go to your daily work, and see all those thousands of your fellow beings -- faces hardened by money-getting, faces impudent with the affectation of vice, faces vacant with frivolity, faces lined with despair -- and it seems to you impossible that each one of those faces, with so little recognition in it of a divine vocation or an eternal destiny, can yet represent a soul for which God cares. And yet he does care, if theology is to mean anything; cares for this one as he cares for Zaccheus, cares for that one as he cared for Mary Magdalen, cares for that one as he cared for the penitent thief.

All these millions of souls, and he cares for each, thirsts for each. And then suddenly you think of your own soul, only one among all those millions, and among all those millions so little distinguishable by really vivid faith, by really generous love, by real intimacy with the things of eternity; can it really be, you ask yourself, that he cares for me? [PS, 303]
I highly recommend Milton Walsh's fine book to you, Ronald Knox as Apologist – Wit, Laughter and the Popish Creed. Cheers +

ChesterBelloc Mandate - Distributism 102

The ChesterBelloc Mandate is an online archive of distributist materials. This site was created for the novice or the researcher interested in the subject, whether sympathetic or not. By the by, Bertrand Russell coined the conjoined names of G. K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc -- "ChesterBelloc" -- to refer to the united front these two great friends presented to an obstinate and faithless world of modernity and atheism. (We could use them today; Gilbert and Hilaire, pray for us.)

One may want to begin here for a definition of Distributism.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Piccadilly Circus & Perspicacity

Good catch, Scotland Yard. What ho!

There Are Crowds, and Then There Are Crowds

A post by Mark Daniels that is worth reading all the way through. The power of crowds and the power of prayer.

via Instapundit

Speaking of Catholic Youth Ministry

Check out Life Teen. Here is one of their videos geared toward relationships and the Bible.

Testimony to the power of scripture in the lives of teenagers and young adults. Great video!

Steubenville On The Bayou

Steubenville On The Bayou 2007 begins today, see link. Nothing quite like the inflamed heart of the young. So if you are anywhere in the south and happen to hear shouts of adoration it is probably coming from Steubenville, LA.

Only Muslim Mobs, or ALL Mobs?

All Mobs
"Baron Bodissey" of the Gates of Vienna, looks at Islam from the perspective of how individuals act and react versus groups and mobs.

This is a vitally important area of research, and one that mimetic theory takes a special interest in. I commented in the Baron's post, linked above, but I want to share my comment here as well:

FWP wrote: as harmless as individual Muslims might seem, in any sort of concentration they become mob-minded and dangerous to others.

How true. But why? And is this observation applicable only to Muslims in mobs?

A popularizer of Girard's mimetic theory, Gil Bailie (author of Violence Unveiled) said this about a sad incident in a Japanese school:
What is going on in a situation like that (a Japanese school boy was bullied, stuffed head-first into a rolled up gym mat, and suffocated) is hard to sum up quickly, but I think we could say this about it:

It is a form of social rejuvenation at the expense of the victim; the recreation of the esprit de corps of a community at the expense of a victim, which has both social and psychological effects. It produces both social and psychological conviction. The etymology of that word (conviction) reminds us that it happened with a victim. It is a form – what we would call a largely unconscious one – of regenerating social and psychological stability at the expense of a victim. And the question is, Can we do it otherwise?

Because of the Crucifixion, we can’t do it that way any more. The Crucifixion has made those who it influenced, it has exposed the gears and pulleys of this (sacrificial) system such that it has crippled them. It has awakened an empathy for the victim of such things so that we can’t do it any more. Those people who are even tangentially exposed to the Crucifixion and its cultural effects can’t do it that way any more. That does not mean we won’t keep trying to do it, but our efforts will be increasingly disastrous. [End of Bailie quotation]
The degree to which human are influenced by the Gospel, at the heart of which stands the Cross of Jesus Christ, will impact the degree to which we will be able to live civilly and sanely without resorting to the accusatory, satanic rule of the mob. The degree to which we continue to lean on the ways and means of these satanic powers and principalities will impact the degree to which we can preach in such a way so as to help others move away from the scapegoating mechanics of crowds and power.

We stand at a critical juncture in human history, at which many powers are jostling and crowding for stances of control of the destiny of our cultural destiny. We need to remember that Our Lord spoke in simple parables about the difference little things, small things can make: a little yeast in the bread; a candle burning in the darkness shedding great light in a household; a few talents that are multiplied; grains of wheat that fall on good soil.

Each of our decisions help move and create a niche for God's in-breaking Kingdom if they originate in the grace-infused, supernatural theological virtues of faith, hope, and love. And, like Jesus before the crowd demanding the stoning of the woman taken in adultery [Jn 8,1-11], we, too, can stoop-yet-stay with the victim of the crowd/mob. Maybe -- just maybe -- they'll begin to drop their stones and walk away, too.

"Let the Dead Bury Their Dead"

Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the Pontifical Household Preacher, speaks to this Sunday's Gospel reading (Luke 9:51-62) using the Holy Father's book here.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Divine 'No' - Zeffirelli's St Francis

Because Some Images Are Just Too Good to Pass Up

via Hugh Hewitt

See What Can Happen in 40 Days

Dramatically reduce abortions in your community... Mobilize hundreds of new pro-life volunteers... Help post-abortive women find healing... Generate prominent pro-life news coverage... Make LIFE the most important issue in elections... Copyright © 2007 40 Days For Life.

Franciscan Peace - Video and Plug for a Retreat

Songs performed by John Michael Talbot.
Beginning in the late 1960s with Mason Proffit pioneering the Country Rock that became the mainstay of modern Country Music, John Michael went on to be part of the more radical founding generation of the newly forming Christian Contemporary Music in 1976.
In addition to John's music, writing, and teaching ministries, he and the Brothers and Sisters of Charity operate an agricultural mission in Nicaragua, provide major assistance to Mercy Corps, maintain a free medical clinic and engage in itinerant ministry locally, and operate The Little Portion Retreat and Training Center. He is also the founder and President of CAM, the Catholic Association of Musicians, an organization dedicated to the support and nurturing of Catholic musicians.

Check out the Little Portions Hermitage - a great place for a retreat, guided or individual. From their website:
The Brothers and Sisters of Charity, a Public Association of the Faithful, was founded by John Michael Talbot in 1980. We are a Catholic-based covenant community of celibate brothers, celibate sisters, and families, called as a
monastic spiritual family into deep live relationships with and in Jesus Christ... We share common work and recreation areas while retaining appropriate separate cloistered areas for each expression...
Most of the work we do at the Little Portion Hermitage consists of gardening, care of livestock, office work, cooking, cleaning and maintenance of the grounds and buildings. Part of our life deals with the manual tasks of making the community as self-sufficient as possible. Each brother or sister may also choose to spend a few hours a week doing some ministry in the nearby towns. Our local outreaches include manning our Little Flower Clinic; ministering at our Little Portion Retreat and Training Center, which is run mostly by local domestic members but with some involvement from the monastic community; and meeting various other needs of the local populations that come to our attention from time to time. Another ministry of ours is giving tours and simply being a loving presence to the hundreds of “pilgrims” who come to visit the hermitage every year.
JMT has a very nice series of instrument music listed under "Pathways" that I really love.

Live Free, Your Majesty?

The Queen Sees New Willis Movie ...
…and tries a new, more personal approach to security.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Tehran Burning


Hope something comes of it.

via Pajamas Media

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sin Taking Advantage of the Law - Again

Sacred Scripture, the Word of God, as the Church teaches, is always about the work of freeing people from slavery to sin and death. This slavery, so well thematized in the work of René Girard, is inextricably bound up with Satan whom Our Lord himself designates as a “murderer and a liar from the beginning” [John 8]. I have given a quick rundown of how the primitive sacred lays the sacrificial foundations for fallen, human culture in "Summer Thoughts" (below) and elsewhere (Cf. 'Mimetic Theory' in sidebar), so I won’t go into it again now (Porthos: “Whew!”).

What is too important now not to do is to expose yet another way the primitive sacred has skittered, roach-like out of the light of Christ in our day. Secular materialists are churning out books on atheism that sell like hot-cakes, so appeal to the Divine for approval of violence is silenced in the west. That should be good news, and it is! But ... the satanic primitive sacred slips under a different rock of sanction. What is left if one cannot get approval for one’s brutality from one’s deity? Why, what worked so well in the 20th century, of course: government and law.

It’s an old recipe: Saint Paul pronounced it telling us that sin took advantage of the Law [Romans 7,8].

So, today a German pastor is sentence for merely making a comment against abortion. Massachusetts, a state that used to know something about fighting governmental tyranny, won’t allow people to vote regarding a key element of the new expression of the primitive sacred, literally degenerate sexuality. And the central government of the Sudan allows systematic rape and murder in Darfur (The Koran and the government say it’s okay – double whammy - a billion Muslims can't be wrong).

What do all three of these examples have in common? Sin taking advantage of the Law – something extremely difficult to see as evil, because we depend on law to keep the peace and order of society. But it is happening. Now.

And the sinful same ol’ same ol’ slithers out of sight again. But only for the time being. The Holy Spirit is opening the eyes of many who will not this snake get away with enslaving and murdering again. But what damage, what death, what destruction will take place under the mantle of the Law in the mean time?

A Few New Items on our Sidebar


Catholic Video of the Day
New Advent News
Doctors of the Catholic Church

Americans United (?) in Fighting Secular Fundamentalism

This article is not too long so I will wait patiently while you read it before preceding.

Done reading?

I don't get too wrapped up in "pending disaster" predictions, however I think there are a couple interesting aspects to the article that I want to draw out.

Rabbi Lapin is the founder and leader of Toward Tradition - a ground-breaking coalition of Jews, Christians and other Americans united in fighting secular fundamentalism and promoting traditional, faith-based American principles of constitutional and limited government, the rule of law, representative democracy, free markets, a strong military, and a moral public culture.

The creation of an alliance of people with differing backgrounds and traditions is something to look at. What is their 'gathering' principle? What model of coming together are they fashioning themselves after? Don't misunderstand, I think in this case they may answers these questions in a very favorable light to our way of thinking. If this is a good working model of 'coming together' then I hope others can copy their method...

And then this following quote needs to be held up for all to meditate on -- and each of us should delve deep inside to touch our own core belief of end times.

"The secular world view will generate an end of time picture of hopelessness and doom and by contrast a Biblical world view of both Jews and Christians shows an end of time picture that, while it may have its turbulent threshold, is a time of some kind of unimaginable solution to all human problems."
Many of us get caught up in "turbulent threshold" paranoia and we don't allow the "unimaginable solutions to all human problems" to wash over those fears. Kind of reminds me of a story Gil Bailie has told:

I remember reading, back in the 80’s when they were building nuclear weapons as fast as they could, there was this woman arrested for pouring blood on a nuclear warhead. She was interviewed while the nuclear build up was going just as fast as it could, the interviewer said, “Don’t you despair? Here you are serving 18 months for that, meanwhile these warheads are coming off the assembly line as fast as they can?” “Oh no,” she said, “the victory over evil was accomplished at the Cross my task is to live in the light of the victory.” Isn't that something?
I think that Rabbi Lapin's remarks should not be taken for granted nor tossed aside. My first question regarding their 'gathering principle' should be examined, particularly from a Girardian perspective to see if at its center there is a victim.

But there is something very special going on when a group can move peacefully beyond the dialogue (initial stage) with members of other faith traditions and venture to the next level of discernment together so that each feels safe to explore their end of times picture. Along this path of exploration a group will find that each faith tradition will be able to help the other, but the absolute key to helping foster a safe meeting place is the holding onto this end of times picture of "unimaginable solutions to all human problems," as Rabbi Lapin puts it -- or as the Christian in the above story says, "the victory having already been won." The Judeo-Christian tradition is vital for this process. And it is a Girardian anthropology that will help ground the group in the knowledge that it is our violence - not God's that has to be undone.

The wrath of God is forgiveness - problem is that we just don't want to believe it.

Chimeras - Never Let Me Go

So, what's a chimera? English and Welsh bishops say that chimeras are humans and deserve life and dignity.

Porthos recommended Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go. It apparently has come to this ...

"It Grows In Silence"

How does a vocation grow? The Deacon’s Bench offers two magnificent videos on vocations to the priesthood produced by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Sign of the Cross +

If you haven't watched it, Children of Men qualifies as the most fear-filled prophetic film of sacrificial meltdown you will see. Why bother to watch the whole phantasmagoria? For a simple reason: Theo. Theo (played by Clive Owen -- King Arthur, 2004) is not a finger-pointing accuser, but a hustler/cubicle flunky who becomes a Saint Joseph-like protector of the only child born (in the entire world!) in 17 years. It is he who threads this immigrant mother and child through the death-dealing special interests of this dystopic futuristic vision of England, with the help of political cartoonist, Jasper Palmer, a favorite character of mine, played by Michael Caine.

Too, here is an appreciative review/essay by John Murphy in Godspy.

Warning: 'R' rated gun violence. But if you watch, look for the Sign of the Cross:

That Catholic Show - Statues & Icons

Dreadful Numbers

While Aramis launched a comment to The Turning Tide – Youth Turn to the Catholic Church that was worthy of a post in itself, John Heard (“Dreadnought”) ferrets out the faulty logic and crumbling reasons for supporting the so-called entity, "gay marriage" (warning: some disturbing images). As a professed homosexual, Heard is at one and the same time in full obedience to the Magisterium and teachings of the Catholic Church.

Let us never flag in prayer, practicing the virtues (Cardinal and Theological), and observance of the Blessed Sacrament. Our warfare, like that of St.-Anne's-on-the Hill in C. S. Lewis's That Hideous Strength and Aly's in The Dionysus Mandate is against the powers and principalities of Satan.

Jesus on the Most Holy Cross did not see wolves crucifying Him, as our friend and mentor, Gil Bailie says. He saw lost sheep. Hate the sin, never the sinner(s). Deo gratias!

The Turning Tide

Youth Turn to the Catholic Church
as the Solid Rock amidst the shifting sands of cultural chaos.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Tiny Crack

Using the image of Monsignor Ronald Knox, “Within the Revolted City,”* one sees clearly that our planet is still that dreadful place. Gangs roam and ravage, seeking to quell their fears by making others feel what they refuse to feel in themselves: cowardice, dread, anguish, despair. Unforgiveness is the O/S, blame is the coin of the realm, and violence the cathartic pay-off.

Atop this unholy polis, like a mocking regent, sits Lucifer in dulcet, preening self-aggrandizement. All appears under his malevolent sway and power. His sole fear is that somehow the tiny crack in his city’s wall – caused 2,000 years ago by the One who, then, really did strike fear into him -- that tiny crack may one day bring down his ruinous reign and all the world’s kingdoms that parody his own. But his forces seem greater, more powerful and deadly today than ever. The tiny crack no longer concerns him.

But that tiny crack has both allowed something into his city and into the heart of every citizen of it. No longer are humans consigned merely to the heroic, or romantic, or lyrical -- noble human qualities at one time -- but now there is the breeze of the providential. One sees it in the best literature, like Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, and hears it in Leonard Cohen's Anthem, for example (Golding tries in his The Dionysus Mandate, too). In these there is the ineffable conviction of unseen help, beyond satanic power, pistols, pomp, and policies. And beyond even the cessation of biological life itself (Gandalf, Lenny).

And this providential help is not impersonal or transpersonal. It is “more we ourselves than we are are ourselves.” There is no need to stand off from it, fearing its influence or intrusion. It is mother’s milk, father’s arms, spouse's steadfast love, children at the table -- comfort, joy, red meat, mead, wine, and Home all in One.

And this Personal has a human face and name. And Mother.

This is the Good News of that tiny crack. It has not only breeched Satan's city wall. Its fissure runs through every human heart, only asking for the chance to broaden, widen, and let in the light of life and breeze of the Holy Spirit.

One of the best spokesmen at work thematizing this providential hope is Gil Bailie. For many years, Bailie worked along literary lines, mixing in insights of Carl Jung's analytical psychology -- but this, again, only gave a shove to the most noble aspects of human nature (Tenemos). It could not go further than the impersonal help of the collective unconscious -- a questionable source of assistance, at best. Then came Gil's discovery of René Girard's mimetic theory. Like nothing else, Girard's work gave Bailie the lens through which to view the "revolted city" of Lucifer with clinically forensic eyes (The Florilegia Institute).

But now Bailie has turned his attentive work to the providential tiny crack (The Cornerstone Forum) with such projects as The Emmaus Road Initiative.

I, for one, laud Bailie's work and urge readers to support his work. It is time to lean more heavily on providence, cursing the darkness less and letting the light in more.

Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That's how the light gets in. -- Leonard Cohen, "Anthem"

*University Sermons [1963, 322]

Ray, Jake, & Elwood's Vision for World Peace

Catholics Ponder Muslim Coexistence

In beautiful Venice, Catholics gathered to discuss this timely and vital issue.
One Western leader who has made a point of listening to the concerns of the Christians of the Muslim world is Venice's Cardinal Angelo Scola, host of the two-day encounter at the 17th century Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute. Scola is rapidly becoming Catholicism's most influential voice — beyond the Pope himself — on matters related to the Muslim world. From Venice, which for centuries has served as a bridge betweeen civilizations, the Cardinal founded Oasis, a cultural and study center and twice-annual journal that gathers perspectives from Catholics in Muslim countries. The initiative is both as a way to safeguard the rights of Christian minorities, and to promote mutual understanding between the Church and Islam.

"We gain knowledge about the different forms of Islam by starting with what the Christians living in these various realities suggest to us," Scola said. In the past, many in the Vatican hierarchy believed it was too risky to raise the issues of religious liberty and violence in Islamic countries. "Sometimes we have been too timid," Scola said. "We can't stay quiet. We want the encounter. It is vital to distinguish fundamentalism not just from the so-called 'moderate' Muslims, which can be an ambiguous term, but from the masses in the Islamic world."

Read more …

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Nativity of St. John the Baptist - Abu Gosh

Saint Anne with the Christ Child, the Virgin, and Saint John the Baptist
Hans Baldung Grien - 1511

On this Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist (the Church only celebrates three births on her liturgical calendar -- guess the other two), I want to make mention of an interesting place if you ever make your way to the Holy Land on pilgrimage. It is a place that (a) may be the historical site of Emmaus, (b) is the site of a magnificent Crusader church similar to that of St. Ann's Church in Jerusalem, and (c) bears the name, alternatively, of St. John the Baptist and the Church of the Resurrection, commemorating the birth of the former and the post-resurrection appearance of Our Lord at Emmaus of the latter. The frescoes in the nave were being restored when I visited in 2001. Also, a chamber music festival takes place there utilizing its magnificent acoustics each year.

This Crusader church at Abu Gosh, Israel also bears the dubious honor of being the setting for a climactic scene in The Dionysus Mandate. Here is a brief excerpt:

He backed Aly down the steps to the grotto holding her arm in one hand and the pistol in the other. Aly recognized the mistake Neesam was making in the darkness as he walked them closer and closer to the edge of the deep, spring-fed baptism pool. She did nothing to warn Neesam or slow their progress. They stepped off and splashed simultaneously into the baptismal’s shockingly cold waters.

Aly had a split second to gulp a deep breath before going under. She felt herself going down in the dark waters with her hands tightly bound in the small of her back. Neesam disappeared. She thought, He’s up and back to the surface already. I can’t swim and I can’t breathe. And I can’t get my hands free.

But Lucent Neesam, though a naturally gifted swimmer, at that moment found himself slowly yet inexorably moved under an ancient stone archway once stood upon by chaplains to the Crusaders. His head struck solid rock when he tried to surface making him wince. All right, son of a buggering b**ch, he told himself. Let’s get out of this infernal puddle. He twisted, sweeping a hand through the further reaches of the baptismal pool. His lungs burned, and he lurched in the direction, he thought, of the opening beyond the massive walls of the Crusader church ...
+ + +

May the good saint forgive any exploitation the author of The Dionysus Mandate may have perpetrated by using the church commemorating his birthplace. Did Neesam and/or Aly get out of the baptismal pool's dark and dangerous waters? Ah, well ...

Waterhouse - PRB

The Orange Gatherers - 1890 [Private Collection]

John William Waterhouse (April 6, 1849 – February 10, 1917) was a British Pre-Raphaelite painter most famous for his paintings of female characters from mythology and literature. He belonged to the later phase of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

In 1874, at the age of twenty-five, Waterhouse submitted the classical allegory Sleep and His Half-Brother Death to the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition. The painting was very well received and he exhibited at the RA almost every year afterwards until his death in 1917. In 1883 he married Esther Kenworthy, the daughter of an art schoolmaster from Ealing who had exhibited her own flower-paintings at the Royal Academy and elsewhere. They had two children, but both died in childhood.

In 1895 Waterhouse was elected to the status of full Academician. He taught at the St. John's Wood Art School, joined the St John's Wood Arts Club, and served on the Royal Academy Council.
One of Waterhouse's most famous paintings is The Lady of Shalott, a study of Elaine of Astolat, who dies of grief when Lancelot will not love her. He actually painted three different versions of this character, in 1888, 1896, and 1916.

Another of Waterhouse's favorite subjects was Ophelia; the most famous of his paintings of Ophelia depicts her just before her death, putting flowers in her hair as she sits on a tree branch leaning over a lake. Like The Lady of Shalott and other Waterhouse paintings, it deals with a woman dying in or near water. He also may have been inspired by paintings of Ophelia by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Millais. He submitted his Ophelia painting of 1888 in order to receive his diploma from the Royal Academy. (He had originally wanted to submit a painting titled "A Mermaid", but it was not completed in time.) After this, the painting was lost until the 20th century, and is now displayed in the collection of Lord Lloyd-Webber. Waterhouse would paint Ophelia again in 1894 and 1909 or 1910, and planned another painting in the series, called "Ophelia in the Churchyard."

Waterhouse could not finish the series of Ophelia paintings because he was gravely ill with cancer by 1915. He died two years later, and his grave can be found at Kensal Green Cemetery in London. -- Wikipedia

Friday, June 22, 2007


by Mes Aïeux (in Québécois French, with English subtitles)
[Tip: Andrew Cusack]

Death & Politics

by Joseph Bottum

[snip] These topics of violence and death in the Bible play a major role in the writings of René Girard, and it is hardly possible to consider questions of death and the origin of culture without mentioning Girard’s fascinating work on the ancient mythology of sacrifice and scapegoats.

In a biographical interview he gave in 1995, Girard declared that all the themes he has developed over the last four decades were present in his mind even in the late 1950s as a “dense intuition,” a “block” to be penetrated little by little. His publications began to appear in the early 1960s with widely acclaimed expositions of the way triangular relations form among characters in novels, particularly Dostoevsky’s. He then moved to anthropology, holding that ancient cultures are based on sacrificial violence against a scapegoat.

The connection came with his increasing study of psychology and his argument that desire is “mimetic”—that we learn what it is we want by watching what others want. The simplest examples involve the innumerable ancient stories, from Egypt down to Rome, that speak of siblings, often twins, one of whom is destroyed in the course of founding a new city. Girard insists we read these myths as recording genuine human murders: In the mad swirl of mimetic violence, each revenge in turn revenged, the nascent city threatens to devour itself. But with the choice of a scapegoat to sacrifice, the cycle can be broken with an unconscious agreement to aim all the culture’s vengeance at a single target.

Some of Girard’s followers seem to envision a precultural state of primal violence, opening Girard’s thought to the complaint that what little we know of ancient history offers no evidence that cities were actually born in riot and mayhem. To interpret sacrificial myths, however, we need not posit an original fury. We need notice only that every ancient culture manifests in its myths a deep terror of the mimetic escalation of violence. In response to this threatened violence of all against all, the old foundational myths pose the solution of another violence: the violence of all against one, the violence in which a victim is selected as the source of the cultural breakdown and sacrificed. The sacrificial victim, Girard writes, “unwittingly conjures up a baleful, infectious force that his own death—or triumph—transforms into a guarantee of order and tranquility.”

Girard’s final turn, to explicit Christian theology, allowed him to unveil the solution: At the center of his thought lies the Cross, the Sacrifice that breaks the cycle of sacrifice, violence, and mimetic murder. For Girard, the problem of forming a culture—of preventing and containing the spiraling disaster of internecine murder and cultural collapse—is like a quadratic equation with two solutions: the negative one of sacrificial mythology and the positive one of nonviolence, made visible by biblical revelation. Christ’s sacrifice breaks open the scapegoat mechanism for all to see the murder that lies at its root.

Girard is surely right that modern political theory has systematically underestimated the social power of revenge: At the root of ancient culture, he notes, there was a burial society—although it usually had to commit murder in order to get the body to bury. Along the way, Girard grants real insight into both how the ancients used sacrifice and why Counter-Enlightenment thinkers embrace death as they strain for some new foundation. Through the old cultural mechanism of murder, violence really can drive out violence—Satan can drive out Satan, to use Girard’s expression—by aiming the escalating aggression of a culture at a single enemy and victim, a scapegoat for all that ails it.

The trouble is that Girard seems to lack much political theory—or, at least, much political theory short of Isaiah’s. “It shall come to pass in the last days” that “all nations shall flow unto” the holy city, but eschatology is a bad guide to ordinary politics. Indeed, in Girard’s reading of history, the Judeo-Christian revelation has increased or even created our modern political problems, for the scapegoat myth—the negative solution to the problem of culture—ceases to work particularly well once we understand how it works.

If the ancient mechanism has begun to fail, as Girard insists, replaced by a new mechanism that will work only in the End Time, then what help is there for us now? Girardianism pushes us to conclude that modern culture, in its essence, has become irretrievably thin and self-contradictory, while the modern state has grown fundamentally ungovernable. Surely the scapegoat mechanism proves too much: With Girard’s psychological explanation of mimetic rivalry for the success of death at forming community, we are left with murder and apocalyptic change as our only alternatives—the quadratic equation with only two solutions.

A more ordinary use of death seems necessary to get us by, enriching everyday life with temporal extension. We need, I suggest, a new theory of the cultural power of grief for the between-time in which we live. We need an intermediate—and properly political—understanding of the debt the living owe the dead.

Read the article/essay here.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

They Really Were Out to Get Us...

Self-described ex-KGB operative and defector, Yuri Bezmenov, lays out in this interview the active propaganda measures which the KGB undertook to demoralize the US during the Cold War. NB: This is not a paranoid flag-waving post. Rather a warning in an age of disinformation. Don't get caught in themes; watch the anthropological structures. For more information read from: "Mimetic Theory & Rene Girard" in our sidebar.

Summer Thoughts

Predella - (1879) - Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Over at Right Reason, Pejman Yousefzade posted a light-hearted "Nietzsche and the Eternal Return" based on the hugely insightful and funny movie, Groundhog Day.

It's a great concept, and I don't like to throw cold water on recollections of Bill Murray writhing in all his purgatorial splendor. So, consider this reflection not a squelching of Yousefzade's post, by any means, but instead a commentary on how mimetic theory sees Nietzsche's "eternal return."

In his choosing Dionysus over Christ, Nietzsche was rightly seeing the only alternatives, but he was choosing the way that Girard called "the primitive sacred."

The eternal return is the way that violence "makes gods" and establishes (at least) three elements necessary for culture formation: myth, ritual, and prohibition. After the founding violence during which a victim is arbitrarily chosen and cast out or murdered, myth develops, making the now unified people feel good about their actions of violence. Ritual too accrues vital importance, re-enacting the founding violence so as to "bind back" (religare) the people to what made them unified. This accounts for the universal presence of a sacrificial altar at the heart of every culture. And, finally, prohibitions keep people from falling into behaviors that threaten to destroy culture (murder, adultery, incest, etc.) before ressentiment can be siphoned off in the sanctioned, ritualized, cathartic events of sacrifice.

The "eternal return" takes place in Girard's understanding when the ritual no longer carries sufficient cathartic effect to cohere the culture. It spirals into a sacrificial event (the prologue called "sacrificial preparation") during which prohibitions, distinctions, and taboos are erased, and cultural "meltdown", as it were, occurs.

Disregarding the themes that bombard us in newspapers, internet news reports, blogs, and websites, many see western civilization in the throes, structurally, of just such a stage of the "eternal return."

Personally, I don't think Groundhog Day symbolizes Nietzsche's "eternal return" at all. But go rent it and enjoy -- the cool, snowy scenes may make summer more bearable!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Master Catechist - Pope B16 on St. Athanasius

All too often we seem to blog away about choosing sides; like Christianity v. Islam or conservative v. liberal or atheist v. religious or corporate life v. farming (and on and on as we can't seem to define the "I" of each of us any other way except by the 'us v. them' scenario) and the sad reality is that very few of us in the pews this Sunday will have actually taken the time to study from any of the great catechists for the sole purpose of drawing ever nearer to God. I think that Amy Welborn has a great challenge for all of us, Catholic or otherwise, and that is to develop or get into a study using the soon to be available Apostles and her study guide coming out through OSV.

This is not to say that it isn't interesting to learn about the 'other side', however if called upon to defend the Church and The Word, just how much are you up on it to do that? It is one thing to know the 'other side' but it is another thing to have experienced the encounter of Christ and having your "I" expanded so to meet the 'other' and be on firm ground. Having just come from a Jeff Cavin and Tim Gray workshop on Acts of the Apostles (I'm that one toward the back right side next to the aisle) there is more and more options (meaning less and less excuses not) to get immersed in The Word. Are you up to doing that in a manner causing the least amount of scandal? When we model after the great catechists, who have drawn all their faith, hope, knowledge and love from the Living Word, rarely is one scandalized for the Truth sets one free. Read about St. Athanasius and St. Anthony and allow them to help you draw nearer to God.

From "ATHANASIUS: PASSIONATE THEOLOGIAN OF THE INCARNATE WORD" at Vatican Information Service reporting on Pope Benedict XVI's catechises this morning.
This saint's most famous work "is his treatise 'On the Incantation of the Word'," in which he affirms that the Word of God "was made man that we might be made God; and He manifested Himself by a body that we might receive the idea of the unseen Father; and He endured the insolence of men that we might inherit immortality."

Athanasius is also the author of meditations upon the Psalms and, above all, of one of the most popular works of ancient Christian literature, "the 'Life of St. Anthony,' the biography of St. Anthony Abbot which ... made a great contribution to the spread of monasticism in East and West."

The life of Athanasius, like that of St. Anthony, the Pope concluded, "shows us that 'those who draw near to God do not withdraw from men, but rather become truly close to them'."
Here is a link to "Life of St. Anthony" by St. Athanasius that Pope Benedict XVI refers to in his catechises this morning.

Tip of the hat to Michael @

Prager's Alley & Don't-Get-It Atheists

Dennis Prager confronted Christopher Hitchens with an hypothetical situation. Hitch cited Prager's question in his book, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, and even Richard Dawkins mentioned it. However, Prager now says Hitch mis-remembers the question, the context, and just about everything that he, Prager, was driving at. Decide for yourself -- Prager:
A question I pose to atheists and others who argue that religion is irrelevant to moral behavior has been cited by Christopher Hitchens in his national best-seller, "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything." And Hitchens's citation has been widely quoted – from the New Yorker to the website of the Oxford evolutionist and best-selling atheist author Richard Dawkins.
Keep reading …

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Must Read - On the Impact of Christianity

Fjordman (on a par with Mark Steyn, in my book) takes on enemies of Christianity, although admittedly not a Christian himself:
Quite a few individuals among the anti-Western crowd hate Christianity passionately. You have to be an imbecile to believe that Christianity and Islam are “almost identical,” meaning “just as bad.” There’s a world of difference between the religious founders and their followers. Yes, it’s true that the Church has at times suppressed dissenters, including scientists. This is common knowledge. But to present Christianity as exclusively anti-science is factually wrong.
Keep reading …

Dads - In Body and Truth

An area of occasional concern for the 3Ms is what fatherhood should look like for Christian men. Gerald Augustinus over at The Cafeteria Is Closed posted featuring an article from Slate entitled, ”Stretch Marks for Fathers.” Research is now showing that as their spouse's pregnancy develops, and even after birth, they too undergo some fairly significant physical changes. This is a hopeful development in underscoring the essential rôle of fathers today.
Interest in how men's bodies prepare themselves for fatherhood only seems to matter to the extent it sheds light on mothers. Meanwhile, the ways in which dads screw up their kids is a thriving area of research.
Meanwhile, in today's Washington Post, Eugene Robinson's op/ed piece, ”A Father’s Absence and a Son’s Message,” addresses the "dire" situation caused by absent fathers.

Both areas -- the new-found physiological changes in fathers' bodies and the abandoning of families by fathers -- are areas for profound prayer, accountability, and responsibility. Dads are not perfect. But nature can be profoundly changed, and even perfected, by the grace of God. (Neither of my sons would claim that of their father, I assure you.) And the place to begin is and ever will be the sacramental locus of God's grace, the Catholic Church.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Denouncing the Culture of Death

'The secretary of the organization Pro-Life Youth of Valencia (Spain), Juan Rivera, denounced the State and society for their “de facto protection of abortion,” saying, “Its hypocrisy to speak about human rights and at the same time pay no attention to those who walk down the street with their hands stained with blood.” '

This sounds like remarkable wisdom from one so young.

Pope Benedict XVI in Assisi - 800th Anniversary of the Conversion of St. Francis

Benedict XVI delivers a great message to 25,ooo youth gathered in Assisi yesterday.

Pope to youth: be, like Francis, in love with Christ and history’s protagonists

Dear young people, you have reminded me of some of the pressing issues for youth today, of your difficulties in building a future for yourselves and above all of your strained efforts to discover the truth. In the account of Christ’s passion we find Pilates question: “What is the truth?” (Jn 18,38). It is a question which resounds widely throughout modern day culture. The Gospel indicates Christ as the truth: God’s truth and man’s truth. We risk spending our entire lives deafened by the chaos of empty voices, we risk losing his voice among the din, the only voice which counts because it is the only voice which saves. We content ourselves with fragments of the truth, we allow ourselves to be seduced by truths that are only such in appearance. Is it really a wonder, then, that we find ourselves surrounded by a world of contradictions, which, despite the many marvellous things, so often deludes us with its banal expressions, its injustices, and its violence? Without God, the world looses its basis and its direction. Do not be afraid my dear friends, to imitate Francis above all in the ability to turn to yourselves. He knew how to make room for silence within himself, to listen to God’s Word. Step by step he allowed himself to be taken by the hand and guided by God towards a full encounter with Christ, to the point of making it the precious treasure and light of his life. Link to the article.

To read a second of Benedict XVI's message; On Peace, a Call From Assisi link here. And for more photos of what Assisi looked like on June 17, 2007 link here.

Girard, Gans & Imitation in Children

Athos and I touched on GA lightly and briefly in the comment boxes. Not directly related, but there is an interesting and informative article by Richard van Oort in the new issue ofAnthropoetics.

Antioch Closes

The small, liberal arts college famed for establishing policy governing methodology of sexual activity ("May I unbutton your blouse?" "May I touch your br**st?") is closing. Sad, are we?
Antioch College became a rump where the most illiberal trends in education became entrenched. Since it is always easier to impose a conformist ethos on a small group than a large one, as the student body dwindled, free expression and freedom of thought were crushed under the weight of ultraliberal orthodoxy. By the 1990s the breadth of challenging ideas a student might encounter at Antioch had narrowed, and the college became a place not for education, but for indoctrination. Everyone was on the same page, a little to the left of The Nation in worldview.
And so, R.I.P. Antioch College. Nah.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Solitary Refinement

Landscape with Apollo and Mercury (1645) - Claude Lorrain
Leave your Blackberry behind: local retreats offer a serene reprieve from the workaday grind in today’s Washington Post.

The Bane of Western Man

But, Hey - At Least I'm First! Aren't I the Winner?

Fjordman once again stuns with insights about Western Man. Analyzing the cause, say, of 9/11, he observes that,
The Canadian writer Naomi Klein believes that the terror attacks of September 11th 2001 were caused by Western racism. On the contrary, they were triggered by excessive anti-racism. If you believe the story of Michael Tuoheya, a former U.S. Airways ticket agent, he checked in terrorist leader Muhammad Atta for a flight that day. According to Tuoheya, “I said to myself, ‘If this guy doesn’t look like an Arab terrorist, then nothing does.’ Then I gave myself a mental slap, because in this day and age, it’s not nice to say things like this.” Atta joined three other hijackers and crashed into one of the World Trade Center’s towers in New York City.

Modern Westerners are increasingly unwilling to risk our lives for anything, but we are willing to die for anti-discrimination any day. Anti-racism is the new God, an angry God requiring your unquestioned submission and if necessary death — a bit like Allah, incidentally.
Regarding Western Man's compulsion to be "first" at any and everything:
The Western man was the first to create parliamentary democracy, the first to reach the North and the South Pole and the first to travel to the Moon. He always likes to go where no man has gone before him. The sad thing is that there is now so little unchartered territory, so few boundaries left to breach. What to do? Well, embracing organized national suicide is something no man has ever done before, presumably for very good reasons. The Western Man smells an opportunity to once again lead mankind into unchartered territory, and boldly seizes it. He may not be sensible, but at least he’s first, and to the Western Man, that is what matters above all else.
Fjordman's analysis is not informed by Girard's mimetic theory, yet it is clear that he sees what Girard points to as a key element of a sacrificial preparation; namely, the breaking down of distinctions, of mores, of prohibitions that lead a society even further into the abyss of cultural chaos:
It is possible to view the history of the West as one of freeing oneself from the constraints of the past, and of granting equality to ever-expanding circles of people, starting with universal suffrage for men, later for women, then equality for all ethnic, religious and sexual subgroups and eventually even for non-citizens and enemies. The West has led the world in innovation for centuries. Yet perhaps this disposition, which has been the Western Man’s greatest strength, can also be his curse. Perhaps he sometimes breaks down restraints that are needed, and insists on equality where no equality naturally exists. His self-image has been to question tradition on every level, to always move forward. The Western Man has freed himself from the restraints of his traditions, his religion, his culture and the memories of his past. More recently, he has also rid himself off his sex, his skin color, his very physical being. He is, in essence, nothing, and is thus constrained by nothing. The Western Man is thus free at least.
Fjordman is right, from a non-Christian point of view. So let us end by clearing the air with some much needed tonic hope from a master of the 20th century who also greatly loved all things of the broad, clear expanses of the north, J. R. R. Tolkien.
In a letter to son Michael he said,
This is a fallen world ... The world has been 'going to the bad' all down the ages. The various social forms shift, and each new mode has its special dangers; but the 'hard spirit of concupiescence' has walked down every street, and sat leering in every house, since Adam fell ... I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament ..... There you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves upon earth, and more than that: Death: by the divine paradox, that which ends life, and demands the surrender of all, and yet by the taste (or foretaste) of which alone can what you seek in your earthly relationships (love, faithfulness, joy) be maintained, or take on that complexion of reality, of eternal endurance, which every man's heart desires. [6-8 March 1941]

Woody Allen Interviews Billy Graham

In honor of the passing of Ruth Graham. These clips (H/T Instapundit several months ago) from a more civil era!

Part 1

Part 2

Saturday, June 16, 2007

GKC - Truer Today than When He Said It

G. K. Chesterton connects the dots concerning Sex, Life, and Property.

Dreadnought Redux

John Heard - aka Dreadnought - is, as Porthos repeatedly tells us, one of the most forthright crusaders for the Church's teachings on human sexuality. In a post on an article from Commonweal here (warning: some disturbing "eye candy"), he decries the succumbing of so many who want to subvert the Church's teachings to mere human predilections and whims (read: Gnostic desires and disordered passions):
(This is nothing except) a telling example of what Catholicism would look like if it were a bastard religion that worshipped a new god known (or more likely unknown) most often via personal experience. In short, it is the same Christianity-lite and near neo-Pagansim we've been fed by sixties-era liberals for decades.
This from a self-avowed homosexual ("gay conservative") who deems John Paul II the Great's Theology of the Body the "summa" of the 21st century. You go, Dreadnought.

Friday, June 15, 2007

"Girl on a Rock" (+ Truth & Goodness)

Maxfield Parrish - (1870 - 1966)

And, while you are looking at beauty, read Father Cantalamessa's homily on Conversion and the Pearl of Great Price.

Crisis of Distinctions

Over at Vox Nova, Katerina Marie posted news about the Hamas/Fatah fighting happening in Gaza. The comments contain the usual "news analysis" one comes to expect from the respective liberal / conservative arenas: it's the Bush/Cheney Regime's fault; no, it's the UN's ... Sigh.

None of this addresses the problem at the "tectonic level," if you will. For this, one must turn to the unique revelatory witness of the canonical New Testament for the deepest anthropological underpinnings of human culture, human interactions, human violence. And, in the service of the Magisterium of the Church, no one has explicated the ramifications of biblical understanding in anthropological terms better than René Girard. If you don't know a thing about Girard or are convinced that your mentor/interpreter of human life is much better than Girard, c'est la vie.

This blog is not an apologetic, but a forum for "Squaring the Circle of Our Rad Trad Catholic Girardian Conserberalism." So, in the words of Father Goose, if you don't happen to like (us), pass (us) by.

Hamas and Fatah, structurally, are rivals. To the observer, one would have a difficult time discerning many differences in them. Both lay claim to leadership via authority from the people and, more importantly, from Allah. Both see Israel an abomination to Islam. Both strive to observe Shariah, with subtle and slight differences that are hardly noticeable. And that is the issue: a crisis of distinctions. That which causes conflict is not difference but similarity. As Girard notes:
Sometimes the cause is internal -- political disturbances, for example, or religious conflicts. Fortunately, we do not have to determine the actual cause. No matter what circumstances trigger great collective persecutions, the experience of those who live through them is the same. The strongest impression is without question an extreme loss of social order evidenced by the disappearance of the rules and "differences" that define cultural divisions. Descriptions of these events are all alike ... We should not be surprised since all the sources speak endlessly of the absence of difference, the lack of cultural differentiation, and the confusion that results. For example the Portuguese monk Fco de Santa Maria writes in 1697:

As soon as this violent and tempestuous spark is lit in a kingdom or a republic, magistrates are bewildered, people are terrified, the government is thrown into disarray. Laws are no longer obeyed; business comes to a halt; families lose coherence ... Those who were burying others yesterday are themselves buried today ... No pity is shown to friends since every sign of pity is dangerous.
What terrifies the onlooker is that one worries with a not-insignificant fear that what is happening in Gaza (or Sarajevo not so many years ago) may happen in Paris, in Madrid, in New York, or Dearborn before long. What happens when ad-hoc "priests" (aka "street youth") light very dry tinder near me? Thus, Girard lays open the anxieties of the post-modern western person who is beginning to realize with Girard that the inchoate fall-back religion of the human race is not a sweeping, Rousseau-esque "Co-Exist" naïveté of so many New Age bumper-stickers, nor is it the Golden Rule (that is a hard-fought value as every Christian parent knows).

Rather, the natural and fallen human religion is bloodthirsty, violent, and sacrificial -- other, not self-. The anthropology of the Bible knows this. The deposit of the faith safeguarded and dilegently taught by Mother Church knows this. Modern westerners have forgotten or rejected this, and those not under the influence of Christ's teaching never knew this.

The "crisis of distinctions" in Girard's stunningly accurate analysis is the world we now live in. How we shall address this crisis when it draws near to us is the task given us to perform.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Walker Percy @ Notre Dame

Whacked - Lives 18 Months

This reads like something I vaguely remember from the Desert Fathers. Or was it Washington Irving?

[HT: Shea]

I once was lost, but now am found - Feast Day of St. Anthony of Padua

These words from John Newton seem to reflect a devotion similar to what many might pray to St. Anthony. We know Anthony as the saint to pray for lost items, yet he was gifted in many areas of life. It was by chance that Anthony was asked to preach for the friars at an ordination and it was then that they discovered one of his great gifts, that of preaching the Good News. Francis soon wrote to Anthony:
I Brother Francis send wishes of health to Brother Anthony, my bishop. It pleases me that you teach sacred theology to the brothers, as long as in the words of the Rule you "do not extinguish the Spirit of prayer and devotion" with study of this kind.
“(N)ot to extinguish the Spirit of prayer and devotion with study”…within this admonishment comes the view that in everything we teach we present it fully in the Spirit of prayer and devotion. Boy, how we have lost that in our schools, universities and, I am afraid, in many of our families. Let us lift up our prayers to St. Anthony today asking for help to see and speak everything through the Spirit of prayer and devotion.

Guys check out the basilica of St. Anthony. Click here to see more on St. Anthony

Why Shop @ a Farmers' Market

Narnia in the Meantime

A visitor @ Mark Shea's blog lifted up an apparent Catholic Narnia Fan Website (not that one needs be Catholic to love the land of us Puddleglum types).

Village Atheists

There are several prominent authors presently promulgating books regarding what they consider to be the idiocy of believing in God. Since it is a time-honored practice to consider one's opponent as a valuable voice in the low tavern of life, the Three Massketeers choose not to dismiss their wrong-headed opinions out of hand, much the way Professor Ransom considered MacPhee an invaluable member of the group gathered at St.-Anne's-on-the-Hill in Lewis's That Hideous Strength. (Yes, yes, modeled on Lewis's tutor who taught him syllogistic thinking: "I have no opinions!")

As resources, Michael Liccione suggests the follow ways for ”Dealing with Dawkins.”

[Tip: Amy Welborn]

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Other Musical Monk

It was inevitable. I mean, somebody had to do this . . .

Saint Eulalia + PRB

St. Eulalia - John William Waterhouse [1885] - The Tate Gallery, London

This painting earned Waterhouse, member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, his election as an Associate of the Royal Academy. Waterhouse avoids manipulation by depicting the vulnerability of the dead saint, life "going on," and the ostensible power of the state in a now-peaceful moment after her martyrdom.

Prudentius says that the body of St. Eulalia was shrouded by a miraculous fall of snow when lying exposed in the forum after her martyrdom.

"A Spanish martyr in the persecution of Diocletian (12 February, 304), patron of the cathedral and city of Barcelona, also of sailors. The Acts of her life and martyrdom were copied early in the twelfth century, and with elegant conciseness, by the learned ecclesiastic Renallus Grammaticus (Bol. acad. hist., Madrid, 1902, XLI, 253-255). Their chief historical source is a Latin hymn of the middle of the seventh century by Quiricus, Bishop of Barcelona, friend and correspondent of St. Ildephonsus of Toledo and of Tajo, Bishop of Saragossa. This hymn, identical with that of Prudentius (Peridstephanon, III) for the feast of St. Eulalia of Merida (10 December, 304), was preserved in the Visigothic Church and has reached us through the Mozarabic Liturgy.

"There is no reason to doubt the existence of two distinct saints of this name, despite the over-hasty and hypercritical doubts of some. The aforesaid Quiricus of Barcelona and Oroncius of Merida were present at the tenth council of Toledo (656). The latter had already founded (651) a convent of nuns close by the basilica of the celebrated martyr of his episcopal city, had written a rule for its guidance, and given it for abbess the noble lady Eugenia. Quiricus now did as much for the basilica and sepulchre of the martyr of Barcelona, close to whom he wished to be buried, as we read in the last lines of the hymn. The inscriptions on many Visigothic altars show that they contained relics of St. Eulalia; except in the context, however, they do not distinguish between the martyr of Barcelona and the one of Merida. On an altar in the village of Morera, Province of Badajoz, we find enumerated consecutively Sts. Fructuosus and Augurius (Tarragona), St. Eulalia (Barcelona), St. Baudillius (Nimes, and St. Paulus (Narbonne). The Visigothic archeology of Eastern Spain has been hitherto poor in hagiological remains; nevertheless, a trans-Pyrenean inscription found at Montady near Béziers mentions a basilica dedicated to the martyrs Sts. Vincentius, Iñes, and Eulalia (of Barcelona). Until 23 November, 874, the body of the Barcelona bartyr reposed outside the walls of the city in the church of Santa Maria del Mar. On that date both the body and the tomb were transferred to his cathedral by Bishop Frodoinus. In memory of this act hehe set up an inscription yet preserved in the Muséo Provincial of Barcelona (no. 864); see also volume XX of Florez, "España Sagrada", for a reproduction of the same. Not long before this the martyr, St. Eulogius, having occasion to defend the martyrs of Cordova for their spontaneous confession of the Christian Faith before the Muslim magistrates, quoted the example of St. Eulalia of Barcelona, and referred to the ancients Acts of her martyrdom. Her distinct personality is also confirmed by the existence of an ancient church and monastery in Cordova that bear the name of the Barcelona martyr; this important evidence is borne out by the Mozarabic calendars examined by the learned Dom Ferotin." -- New Advent

Her Feast Day is February 12.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Fearsome, Faithful Living + Part 2

Athos' post Fearsome, Faithful Living + stirred in me a response that turned into something more than a mere comment - so I decided to post it here.

Dear Ath, beware that you and Monk do not fall into some kind of model/rival scandal. Pondering this post left me thinking about 3 great remarks from 3 great teachers:

1) Gil Bailie's comment from The Truth of the Cross tape, "The Gospel is like the Supreme Court. Let’s say that you are going to do something that is going to cost you many millions of dollars; however you are a little anxious that it is somehow against the law, or it might be unconstitutional. You go to the Supreme Court and say that we are going to do this and it is very expensive, is that unconstitutional? The Supreme Court will tell you that they cannot tell you because we cannot give advisory opinions. So they say, go spend your millions and if someone sues you, come back in and then we will tell you. The Gospel is the same way. It answers no idle questions. It answers no questions that are asked for merely curiosity sake. But it does answer questions that arise with urgency, and new questions always arise. When we are moved due to historical situations, because of existential situations, go to the Gospel and ask it, ask the Christ Gospel, to answer our needs, it will answer us, but we will have to come to it with that kind of need." and

2A) Model-Rival. Strictly speaking, if a model is a person in our immediate life setting (parent, authority figure, peer), then he or she is always potentially a rival. Likewise, a rival in this same immediate setting is always basically a model, although this may not be apparent to the subject. The model-rival is associated with an object of desire which the subject wants to obtain, but the important thing is not as much the object as the defeat of the model-rival. Continually putting oneself in situations of rivalry may be exhilarating if one is winning, but losing may lead to extreme depression. The situation becomes a crisis if the person is entrapped in a model-obstacle relationship.

2B) Model-Obstacle. The model-obstacle is someone or something over whom the subject cannot win, or in some cases it would be accurate to say that the subject will not allow himself to defeat the model/obstacle, for to achieve that would be to lose the model. All sorts of self-defeating behavior, including addictions (so well described in Dostoyevsky's writings), stem from this predicament. From the standpoint of the mimetic theory, it can only be understood in terms of the mimetic, interdividual character of human existence. The person in this predicament could be described as stumbling over or being blocked by the skandalon. The skandalon of the Gospels is a an obstacle or stumblingblock (the older meaning of "scandal" in English and French, from the Latin and Greek). The skandalon is associated with Satan. This is seen particularly, e.g., in the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus has spoken of his suffering, death, and resurrection, and Peter rebukes him for saying he will suffer and die. Jesus in turn rebukes Peter: "Get behind me, Satan! You are a skandalon to me... " (Matt. 16:23). That is, "you are a scandal, an obstacle, a hindrance to me." Here Satan, usually named as the personification of the mimetic model-obstacle, is "deconstructed" or "demythologized" in that Jesus uses the name to express the mimetic rivalry that obsesses Peter. Peter wants to identify himself with a worldly winner and in anger he begins telling his master what he can and cannot do. Something quite similar is reported concerning James and John, who ask to be Jesus's chief lieutenants when he comes into his glory (Mark 10:35-45; Matt. 20:20-28).
The preceding is taken from "The Girard Reader," edited by James G. Williams.

and 3) being a follower of the Franciscan way; once Brother Leo asked Francis what perfect joy is? Francis related that if, they, when wet, cold, and muddy, knocked on a convent door, and the porter refused to let them in but drove them away like a couple of thieves, beating them with clubs until they nearly died, "and if we endure all this so patiently, and think of the sufferings of Christ, the All-praised One, and of how much we ought to suffer for the sake of our love of him - O Brother Leo, mark thou, that in this is perfect joy."

Question: Prior to the Protestant rebellion would such wonderings (such as what constitutes legitimate "security" that you and Monk tossed around) have even entered the minds of anyone?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Fearsome, Faithful Living +

From today's New York Times, what you need to know about what the Koran teaches regarding killing another human being, entitled Permission – The Guidebook for Taking a Life.

In a post, below, Monk from The Wacky Wannabee Musical Monk and I discussed what constitutes legitimate "security". It's only normal if one is exercising any concern for oneself and one's loved ones that we try to size up potential areas of danger ahead, and avoid them (walking in Central Park or on the Washington Mall in deserted, shadowy places sans visible people, etc.). But in reality, it is nearly impossible to take into account all such contingencies.

In C. S. Lewis's second book of his Space Trilogy, Ransom is on Perelandra (Venus, in the Massketeers' Guide to the Galaxy). Lewis tells how his hero made his way through the treacherous caverns of Perelandra: at one moment taking what would appear (if watched by an observer) overmuch caution, at another extreme risks, because he himself could not see but was climbing by feel alone.

In my opinion (in the same way that Saint Paul will occasionally step aside in the Epistles and say, "Now this is my opinion -- Paul" when not proclaiming the Gospel) -- this is Athos speaking now -- we must do three things in the face of such realistic threats:

(1) Not succumb to hate. We must pray for our enemies, as Our Lord commands [Mtt 5,44], and never willingly give in to "righteous" anger. Love [caritas, agape] is a decision. Like top-spin in ping-pong, it takes all the side-spin of evil off the ball served to us. Through God's grace, we choose not to return evil for evil. I will suggest a method for such prayer in the first comment (below).
(2) Exercise legitimate defense. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is clear: "Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality ..." (Remember, "Love your neighbor as yourself?") and "The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm." (Nos. 2264, 2265) This is posited on justice as Saint Thomas Aquinas understood it: to give what is due to God and to our neighbor; namely, what is right for the common good. This is perfectly in keeping with honoring and loving our aggressive "enemy" -- one wants to keep the enemy from carrying out unjust evil and violence, even if the enemy is accidentally injured or even killed in so doing (No. 2264).
(3) And, perhaps the most important point, do not provoke a potential enemy into aggressive and sinful behavior. This is scandal, and constitutes grave sin. Again, the Catechism:
Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor's tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense. (No. 2284) "Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come!" (Lk 17,1 in No. 2287).
So, as difficult as these days are, Our Lord gives us a viable path through them to Heaven by His grace: in seven wonderful words, prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance (the Cardinal Virtues), faith, hope, and love (the Theological virtues).

And keep your eyes on Jesus! As the old Gospel chorus said: Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace. +

Embed Experiment: Zappa, Inca Roads

Not for everyone, this Zappa piece is nevertheless a brilliant composition, at least in Porthos' personal canon, especially the 2 1/2 minute guitar solo that starts 2 minutes in--one of the best and most searching guitar solos ever. Nice percussion and xylophone, too.

The breathless techno video presentation/message is well-done but not of interest to me--it's just that this is the only YouTube of the studio version of Inca Roads . . . I do not endorse the philosophy here, which for the most part is alien to me. (I hope the author who was nice enough to put it together does not mind that ungrateful reflection . . .)

Collapse of Europe Conference

It is great to know that our-man-on-the-scene, Gil Bailie, of the Cornerstone Forum, will be attending a conference on the collapse of Europe at Pepperdine University, Malibu. Participants will include Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Mark Steyn, Daniel Pipes, Avi Davis, James Q. Wilson, and a boatload of other top flight folk.

It's great to know Gil will be present. See his thoughts about the event here.

See for yourself what the conference will be about. And you might want to pray that security is beefed up today and tomorrow at Pepperdine ...