Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Softie Christians Anonymous

Hi, My name is Glenn...[sigh]...And I'm a softie Christian. Or at least I was for a while there. A little too much "pastoral care" indoctrination in my Yale Div and clinical pastoral education, valuable as it was for some things. No, I'm definitely not amongst the worst offenders, but I've consistently experienced discomfort hearing the full-throttled offensives from many orthodox Catholics, even after you filter out the neo-fascists. Maybe it's a Nietzshean ressentiment over not having the wit or intellectual fiskpower to pull them off, maybe it's just my personality. Whatever the case, I no longer lean on any specious WWJD, "New Testament" arguments for a kinder, gentler polemics. This article puts the nail in the coffin for that argument:
There’s a massive contrast between the weighty and satirical, the masculine and hilarious modes of communication employed by the inspired biblical characters versus the whiny, saccharine, nicer-than-Christ, strained Gerber’s goo served up by evangelicalism and Catholicism’s effete clerics. Have you noticed?
Concerning these greatest of biblical characters, we not only see great acts of compassion toward the repentant; we also see an unapologetic verbal “gloves-off” approach with someone God wants and needs His spokesman to offend.

Liberal double standard

Found this dated Salon article by Camille Paglia on the Elephant-dung Madonna incident from years back, from Relapsed Catholic:
And I'm just as sick of "Catholic-bashing" as Giuliani himself. I may be an atheist, but I was raised in Italian Catholicism, and it remains my native culture. I resent the double standard that protects Jewish and African-American symbols and icons but allows Catholicism to be routinely trashed by supercilious liberals and ranting gay activists.
Evidence that God has not totally abandoned the atheists despite their deepest wishes.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Feast of St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Bishop, Defender of the Faith and Martyr

I love sharing my birthday w/St. Irenaeus' feast day, partly because it's one saint whose memorial date is a lot easier for me to remember. But also because I think our birthdays should have a liturgical "frame;" they shouldn't be self-standing, nakedly projecting our self-significance onto the world. Irenaeus is infinitely more interesting than me and I'd much rather share gems from his Against Heresies than birthday cards. So here's one:

"The glory of God gives life; those who see God receive life. Men will therefore see God if they are to live; through the vision of God they become immortal and attain to God himself."

Check out the link--I had no idea Calvinists destroyed his tomb & reliquary in 1562! I hate when they do that.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

More liturgy blues

"The church feminized is not only the church demasculinized, but inevitably the church infantilized as well."

from the May04 Touchstone magazine article by an evangelical Episcopalian on "romanticized worship" in all the hip, culturally-uptodate, technosavvy nonsense that passes for liturgy.

Damn Ohhreeeyentalists

Thomas Fox, a regular columnist for NCR, has covered the Catholic Asia beat for years. Because of his persistent and sincere love for Asia, NCR has the distinction of being the only American Catholic periodical that cares a little more than a hoot about the Church in Asia.

A few years ago, one of Fox's columns on Asia pissed me off so badly I wrote a letter to the editor, complaining of his objectification of Asians and their culture as a means of furthering his ideological agenda. Since the problem wasn't restricted to Fox's column, it wasn't long before I cancelled my subscription.

Well, apparently he's still enlisting Asian Catholics in his war against Catholic orthodoxy:

"Leaders of Catholic lay organizations throughout East Asia met here for four days last week before issuing a paper urging their bishops to stay faithful to the forward-looking pastoral path they have outlined since the early 1970s." (Italics mine)

"All expressed hope that when their bishops consider issues of the family to develop pastoral guidelines that these guidelines fit Asian realities and are not simply repetitions of traditional moral principles."

"Conference participants called for an end of all discrimination within the church. They criticized an exclusively male hierarchy and said the laity needs to have more say in decision-making."

"The statement called for an end to discrimination against children, who are not allowed to receive the Eucharist until 'the so-called age of reason.' The practice of withholding communion came out of Western Europe, the statement noted. 'Children, by virtue of their baptism, are full members of the church and have a full right to Eucharist.'"

"On the subject of homosexuality, the statement called for 'pastoral openness' and guidance to parents of gays and lesbians. 'Everyone is created by God and loved by God just as they are.'"

"He and others said it is now the work of an active laity to hold the bishops responsible for their words."

The only good Asian Catholic, it seems to Fox, is a liberal American Catholic with a twist of lotus essence. He always makes Asian Catholics seem little more than a collective megaphone through which he gets to mouth off his NCR-brand of Catholicism. He invokes their experiences selectively, that is only when they make nice cannon fodder against his "conservative" enemies. I'd call it ethnic eisegesis or "proof-profiling," sorta like proof-texting.

I prefer to be ignored by orthodox white Catholics than "orientalized" by the liberal elite. At least by ignoring me, they're honestly acknowledging my "otherness," not the cheap, maudlin "otherness" embraced by liberals, who usually paint Asians as opposite of what they hate about the West.

Bad priests have rights too

Coinciding, interestingly, with SCOTUS' ruling on jury sentencing this week, Peter Jenning's ABC special report on Guantanamo, and Jack Ryan's resignation from the Senate race in IL, Cardinal Dulles has written a canonical analysis on how accused priests should be treated, reminding us once again of Catholicism's insistence that Christ ALONE is the FINAL sacrificial scapegoat. What a buzzkill.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Our Lady of Abu Ghraib???

Not very intelligent about Marian iconography, but interesting nonetheless for the comparison.

The cult of youth

It's hard to get too angry over these imbecile pro-choice Catholic politicians. Sort of like witnessing a college frosh come home enamored with his new nipple ring and then cry like a baby when it gets infected. It gets at one of my favorite quotes from von Balthasar:
The cult of youth is always a sign of the graying of a culture. Just as it is true that every stage of life has its own meaning, which resists funtionalization, it is equally true that youth is internally disposed toward maturity and formation. To praise the condition of being young as an absolute, self-contained value, or even as the highest value, gives evidence of a disjointed hierarchy of values. Further proof is given by the kind of men, produced by youth movements, who remain permanently infantile. To be a child and remain a child before God is something totally different, which indeed requires human maturity.
Over in the Diocese of Lexington, KY, a bishop is just fulfilling his magisterial obligations and 2 politicians in his flock respond with phlegm like:

"I plan to continue taking Communion and would love to receive it from a woman priest some day soon,"

"anti-abortion advocates don't have a monopoly on the faith."

"I certainly believe there are a lot of good American Catholics who believe in choice,"

"the bishop's statements would not keep me from taking the Eucharist."

"My position is that legislators do not have a right to impose their religious views on others and that's all I'm going to say,"

"I go to Communion when I want to go, and no bishop, no pope, they're not going to keep me from my religion,"

Boohoo. What's the big deal? Bishop admonishes you not to take Communion, you submit to his authority and save some face--hello, he's giving you an out! Chalk it up to the cost of doing the business of politics in the Democratic Party and you can go on worshipping yourself. In the immortal words of Hyman Roth: I let it go. And I said to myself, this is the business we've chosen -- I didn't ask who gave the order -- because it had nothing to do with business! A fictional criminal like Roth ends up showing more wisdom than these masturbatorial children of the Church who take their lines from Dr. Evil/Mini-Me.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Brown v. Board of People w/half a brain

Good to see my former NT prof taking some stand on Dan Brown's butt brownie of a book:

"People were thinking Jesus was divine in some sense or another from the first century on," said Harold W. Attridge, dean of Yale Divinity School and a translator and authority of the Nag Hammadi trove. Professor Attridge, who recently gave a lecture on the novel in California, said that while he welcomed the book as a "teaching opportunity," it "takes facts and gives them a spin that distorts them seriously."

Moonie convert from Catholicism

What do you get when you turn away from the true Church, choosing a wacko gnostic cult of personality instead? You get "Archbishop" George A. Stallings Jr. duping a bunch of our US Senators, in the Dirksen Senate Bldg no less.


Among the sensual delights of a Tridentine liturgy, smoking, unfortunately is not one of them. The closest we Catholics get is, of course, incense. Not that I think the Congregation for Divine Worship should introduce pipes into the Mass but it's nice to see the Utah Supreme Court uphold the right of Native Americans to get high with Awonawilona. Oh, what a different faith we'd have if Moses' Passover included a smoking ritual. There'd be a lot fewer uppity Catholics, for sure.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

NAACP & DC Catholicism in happier times

From McGreevy's book, p.211:
...when some southern bishops balked at the idea of issuing a statement decrying racial segregation and discrimination, Pius XII, just before his death, ordered that the statement be issued "at once."
Catholic leaders now marched in step with the liberal vanguard. "In marked contrast with Protestants," the NAACP leader Walter White explained, Catholics in the District of Columbia had achieved a remarkable "degree of integration." "[O]f course I don't prefer an authoritarian church to a democratic one," Reinhold Niebuhr told one friend in 1957, but he admitted to alternating "between a violent anti-Catholicism and a measure of respect for what they [Catholics] are doing." The Catholic authoritarianism that he found so unattractive, Niebuhr conceded, allowed Catholic bishops to discipline priests and congregations unwilling to integrate Catholic institutions. In most Protestant denominations, by contrast, no one could protect a "poor parson against the manias of his congregation. In this sad world we must pick up virtue wherever we can find it and also recognize weaknesses in our own position."
What a mixed record. The Church a century earlier was on the whole vehemently opposed to any "hasty" abolition of slavery, but for non-racial reasons, even defending the fairness of enslaving white peoples. Then there's Catholic racism throughout Reconstruction and Jim Crow. Then there's Catholic academic books, papers, and ecclesiastical statements condemning racism beginning in the 1930s, with threats of excommunication from bishops against segregationist Catholics. At times progressive, at others reactionary, the Church is tougher to pidgeon-hole than Kweisi Mfume would like. That said, Catholic University still has crappy reasons to deny the NAACP a campus chapter.

Monday, June 21, 2004

From the "Resilience of Catholic faith" file

Amazing. Isolated Catholic minority groups in southwestern China have not only maintained the faith without a priest for over half a century, but they've evangelized and grown some five-fold. They pray the Ave Maria in Tibetan! I could see Richard Gere looking confused--why would Tibetans turn to Catholicism when my Tantric Buddhism makes you feel so good about yourself and your orifices?

No Eucharist for 50 years! Well aren't we a spoiled bunch with our casual penance-free Eucharist-on-demand attitude. Maybe the bishops should just declare a Eucharistic ban on all American Catholics--few are any better than Kerry, and even fewer are such, so it sounds, than these forgotten Catholics in the mountains of Yunnan province.

Jack out of the box

Sad watching Illinois Republican candidate for US Senate Jack Ryan gettin grilled on live TV over the release of his divorce papers, peppered with more salacious sex scandal bits that we in the post-Lewinsky era enjoy in our media salad. However, it's good to see how the elephants are coming home to roost. Ryan should be so lucky to not have a Democratic version of Kenneth Starr on his tail. The additional irony of Clinton's book release today... God is funny.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Subsidiarity & the UN

From NCR's John Allen's column:
Conservatives devoted to the principle of subsidiarity increasingly wonder why the Vatican is gung-ho about handing over chunks of national sovereignty to an international authority they see as unaccountable and occasionally hostile to religious values.
Why do conservative Catholics seem to think that subsidiarity = American federalism? Just as subsidiarity upholds the good of an international theocratic bureacracy headquartered in the Vatican that we call the Catholic Church, so does it uphold the good of an international council of nations that seeks to maintain the good of a globalized humanity. Excessive contempt for the UN held by conservative Catholics only adds to my suspicion that they're just closeted "cafeteria Catholics" of the red, white, and blue stripe. And if being "unaccountable" and "occasionally hostile to religious values" were reason enough for wholesale condemnation then conservatives should be the first to renounce their US citizenship.

Desperately Seeking Relevance

Organizations like the NAACP, with an intense collective memory of more august days, feel a need to replicate the "Great Struggle" in our day even if the era of great struggles is over. Battles for legal equality have already been fought and won. What remain are the thornier problems of social and cultural reconciliation. While that may include policy and legislative advocacy, the bulk of the work rests not in voter drives or lobbying but in the transformation of neighborhoods and families from within--the one thing the Nation of Islam got right.

Unfortunately, the NAACP has found in Catholic University an easy target to reassert its dream of the "Great Struggle." NAACP sees only another big, bad, white-dominated, socially conservative institution, not a representative body of the Holy Catholic Church struggling amidst its own unique set of political circumstances to hold on to its identity. If Kweisi Mfume stirs any group of NAACP protesters into a frenzy of "We Shall Overcome" refrains on the steps of the Basilica, I'm gonna puke.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Race & Division in the One Body

I can't stand the politics of racial victimization. That said, there is a real problem amongst a large percentage of so-called traditionalist Catholics when it comes to accepting the possibility that the Eucharist includes me, not even AS an Asian-American, but simply despite being an Asian-American.

This past Corpus Christi Sunday, at my parish at which I have felt profoundly at home liturgically, yet profoundly unwelcome ethnically, one parishioner made it palpably clear to me that I am a non-entity. There I was amidst my faith family as we stood outside praying a series of stations to the Body of Christ. I was empty-handed not knowing there were programs. A woman with several programs in hand began distributing them to other parishioners around me. She first took care of her companions and then turned around to disburse the remaining copies. Practically facing me but looking right past me, she handed the last copies to the people directly behind me. A classic instance of white blindness to the ontological reality of Asians I've experienced quite often.

My first reaction was pure rage. Then the irony of ignoring a co-member of the Body of Christ while celebrating the Feast of the Body of Christ opened a pressure-relief valve. Then came the flood of questions. Was I being petty? Was I being hypersensitive? Was I falling prey to identity politics? Was I totally misreading this lady's behavior? Was I being unfair given the rarity of Latin-loving Asian Catholics? All unanswerable with any conclusiveness. Nonetheless, I left thanking God that I was Catholic, b/c I would never have put up with this treatment, intentional or not, had I remained Protestant.

Sometimes the cushy world of Asian-American evangelical churches with their ethnically-focused ministry models and familiar-faced fellowship is so alluring. Yet the noble testament of Black Catholic fidelity to the Church despite racism throughout Reconstruction and Jim Crow comes quickly to mind and I feel a kinship with them that only the resilience of Eucharistic communion could engender. It's the "long loneliness" of Dorothy Day writ onto the jagged multiethnic world of the modern American Church.

This experience has confirmed for me the weakness of Haugenesque pop hymns like "One Bread, One Body." The warm fuzzies that the melody evokes bears ZERO relevance in a church where there exists real difference. The unity of Eucharistic fellowship cannot be found in any oceanic feeling of rapturous Gemeinschaft--that's simply too static and it empties out the eschatalogical dynamism of Christ's call "Ut Unum Sint." St. Paul insists there is no Gentile nor Jew under the New Covenant but this is not a declaratory statement of a self-evident fact. Rather it is an apocalyptic statement--an unveiling of a cosmic truth that is hidden. The coziness of Asian-American churches and lovey-dovey Volkparishes is illusory. I'll take a slight against my ethnicity even during the Liturgy any day over the seductive bliss of homogeneity.

Praestet fides supplementum sensuum defectui!

I'm back

Maybe it was because I needed a break from the blog storm of Lent 2004 and the TPOTC aftermath. Maybe it was just the doldrums of Ordinary Time. Maybe it was the wiseass comments from my college buddies who have remained in a state of perpetual sophomorism. Whatever it was, the blog itch strikes again.