Wednesday, December 13, 2006
So I think it needs to be said that there is NO debate going on, both descriptively speaking and substantively. It's not theology and doctrinal thought that matters anyway, it's about happy times and embracing our...whatever. If the progs were to actually address orthodox liturgists, they'd lose, pure and simple. It really is that simple.
Bishops haven't even called us to debate these "liturgy matters" in a time when "dialogue" and evermore dialogue is their default policy for all controversies (my, how the Unitarians have taught them well).
In essence, I can't help but feel blueballed for my liturgy friends who are so desperately seeking that next declaration from Rome that put all our liturgical nonsense to bed. Unless someone makes our heretical clerics listen and step up to face the fearsome testimony of the martyrs and saints of the Church, all these books, articles, and blogposts just leave me feeling numb.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Contrary to what his detractors say, I don’t believe Gibson is roused by violence in itself. What lures him, in his dark remoldings of Catholic iconography, is breakage and restoration—the deeper and more foul the wounds, the more pressing the need to see them healed.Lane gets credit for digging in search of a deeper theological current that Mel may be tapping into. (I believe Lane is Catholic himself?) I noticed something similar after watching TPOTC. Yes, the violence of film could only be justified in my mind as a magnifying glass on the sinfulness of mankind. But to what degree does that manufacture a certain perverse incentive, or "lust," for depravity, not in and of itself, but in quest of an ever-greater glory. The "wicked" paths of Graham Greene, Hemingway, and Oscar Wilde come to mind. Not that Gibson shares much in common with these literary greats, other than a deep-seated Catholic aesthetic, but I've always wondered how the particular tilt of the Catholic metanarrative can spin outward in uniquely pathological directions.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
My sense is that beards are like the iconostases in Eastern churches -- they veil that which is luminous and mysterious; but in so veiling, they highlight a dignity and maturity that is far more difficult to discern socially among the shorn and shaven. I don't see a particularly compelling theological reason why the West has opted against beards among its clergy, other than as a sign of the vow of poverty or chastity, but even facial tonsuring should permit regrowth into full beards, for there is a greater vanity in regular grooming. The Roman clergy furthermore don't even have to deal with wives who might find beards this side of sexy. Much more could be said on this but, but I'm started to sound weird even to myself, so I'll leave this brainfart while I'm ahead. But if I were in the Congregation of the Clergy or of Institutes of Consecrated Life I'd propose restoring mandatory beards, at least for all monks and bishops. Where would His Flocculence Cardinal O'Malley be without his beard?
Anyway, back to Brownback - he cuts a nice contrast to Giuliani, Pataki, McCain, Romney, et al who are supposedly tough, strong GOP leaders on everything except life issues. His advisors are onto something in underscoring the common weak spot of all the current GOP racehorses. I could vote for him, depending on how he handles manages the turbulence of campaigning and challenges to his lack of executive experience.
Friday, December 01, 2006
(If it weren't for the superimposed caption, it would be an icon of the evangelical Protestant Jesus...maybe it is. No idea where it's from.)
HT: The Cafeteria is Closed.
I think Allen's a little too soft on the press for their characterization of B16's statements, which were made privately to PM Erdogan and never officially released to the public, as a "flip-flop," but that may be because Charles Donahue of the Catholic League has already staked out a huge chunk of the field on this issue in his usual hyperbolic way.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Lots of random thoughts and observations:
1) The commentary covering the Papal visit in general has been most interesting. On EWTN, Raymond Arroyo and his special guest, Msgr. Stern, have been way too sanguine about the balance of unity and conflict between Catholicism and Orthodoxy, especially Arroyo who has slipped into callous error when he makes statements that the two churches have the same sacraments, priesthood, etc. There is far more separating the two churches than the role of the papacy. The Orthodox see the different understandings of the See of Peter as symptomatic of a greater loss or disordering of apostolic fidelity in the Catholic Church, not just as a single-issue policy problem that can be corrected by juridical fiat. The key to getting the Orthodox is this: everything is about the liturgy, really everything.
2) The very learned Orthodox commentator during the Divine Liturgy was impressive in his ability to make plenty of subtle jabs at Catholic strawmen while being very instructive of the Orthodox Liturgy. Nothing really new if you've studied the traditions of Orthodox polemics, but I almost felt he was deliberately counteracting the Western reflex of grasping for easy and cheap bonhomie. Understandable in that context, but by itself, a bit overwrought. He spoke of Orthodoxy's understanding of the epiclesis as the Spirit's transformation of the entire community (not just the elements) into the Eucharistic Body of Christ (read: unlike those Catholics who think Jesus is "magically" in the eucharistic elements only). Sure, I get his point, but the Orthodox have got to stop characterizing the Catholic Church by its worst theology at the fringes. There are real differences in official eucharistic theologies, but "magical Jesus bread" ain't one of them.
2a) After the Liturgy, Arroyo makes an awkward disclaimer that the commentary was not from EWTN but from Vatican TV. He tried to be oblique about it, but it was obvious he and EWTN didn't like the Orthodox commentary. Gotta protect the dumb Catholic flock from Orthodox propaganda. Sheesh, lighten up. Yeah, it was a bit tendentious, but it was a lot more theologically meaty in contrast to the sugary EWTN analysis. Plus, do you really want to be pitting EWTN against Vatican TV?
3) The Divine Liturgy really is LONG, which isn't news to me, but it made me think of that as the reason they don't like pews. Keeping them on their feet reduces the snoozing that would be pandemic if they had pews.
4) The Christological and apostolic superiority of the Divine Liturgy should be stunningly obvious when compared to Protestant liturgies or most modern incarnations of the Novus Ordo Mass. I just don't get why any Catholic would want to move further away from the Orthodox sense of liturgy.
5) The superiority of the Divine Liturgy to the "RadTrad" Mass (which I do not equate with the Tridentine Mass) is also stunningly obvious. Why the SSPX-type schismatics find so much value in mostly inaudibly muttered prayers by the priest and only the most miserly acknowledgement of the congregation's presence still has me baffled. Secondly, RadTrad Masses have become so hyper-choreographed as to be oozing with self-consciousness; it's really starting to overshadow the liturgical good they stand for. When I've attended these Masses, the heebie-jeebies I sometimes feel comes from the subtext of all the precisioned genuflections and secret prayers: "WE are so cool and traditional. WE are the REAL Catholics." That all may be true, but true liturgy, as the Orthodox show us, should be a total abandonment into Christ (and not a total abandonment into OUR total abandonment) which washes out whatever self-posturing and self-consciousness we have in attending to the sacred mysteries. There were plenty of signings of the Cross and sacramental gestures in the Patriarchal liturgy, but they just did them without much concern for how it looked to others. The choir chanted in a simple circle without much need of exacting intonation or posture. A whole multitude of actors running around chanting, blessing, censing, processing not just the presider and his two sidekicks. It's almost chaotic, and we Catholics need not imitate it, but it has an ecclesiological authenticity that's not in the RadTrad Mass.
6) The Divine Liturgy shows the superiority of vigorous chant over blaring organs. I'm getting so tired of not knowing whether any sound is coming out of my mouth because the organ is drowning out or blurring all other voices. The constant chanting of the Orthodox is truly more mindful of the cloud of witnesses than what an organ produce.
7) The effusive presence of Our Lady in the Divine Liturgy also puts our Masses to shame. I don't think I've ever heard a good reason why Catholic Masses don't really include her, except in passing in a couple of prayers. I thought Catholics are supposed to be excessive about Mary.
8) The papal ermine-trim mozzetta's growing on me. I used to think it made him look that much more like Santa Claus.
9) Never noticed before how the gesture of bowing with clasped hands, common in the Mass, does not seem to be reflected in Orthodoxy. On that count, Catholicism is closer to Buddhism and Hinduism.
10) "Two lungs" metaphor - don't wear it out.
11) Orthodox chants in Korean - now I've never heard that before.
12) Did I mention the Divine Liturgy's long? Aside from that glaringly egregrious injustice, Orthodox liturgy is simply unimpeachable, even from the Catholic perspective.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
These lines from John Allen's National Catholic Reporter daily Vatican column made me choke up, especially in light of the historical animosity of the Orthodox towards the Catholic Church:
“Sometimes when you’re living in the shadows of religious asphyxiation, a brother coming from the West can bring light to the East,” said Fr. Alexander Karloutsos, an official of the Ecumenical Patriarch based in New York.On the Islam end, it really is remarkable how the Holy See right now is the only serious Western dialogue partner with Islam as a religion on a large scale. Is there any Western state, church, or NGO right now that could duplicate the Pope's potential impact on Islam's spiritual orientation to the West and Islam's own self-reflection? Screw your exclusively private and individualized spirituality -- let Christ be a light unto the nations!
“Peter has come to give strength to his older brother,” Karloutsos told NCR on the margins of the liturgy celebrated by Benedict and Bartholomew this evening, describing its impact as “almost incomprehensible.”
Monday, November 27, 2006
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Perry therefore concludes that there are two main ways of depicting Mary in the New Testament: there is “Mary the person” and “Mary the symbol.” And in his finely drawn survey of the historical development of Mariology in the West (pp. 119-263), Perry highlights the ways in which the symbolic Mary “has come almost completely to suffocate” the individuality of Mary the person. If we are to develop a biblically responsible Mariology, then, we must give far greater emphasis to “Mary the person,” to the one “who hovers on the margins of her society and on the fringes of the biblical text” (p. 263).If evangelical exegesis were more theologically rigorous, Perry might want to hesitate on drawing too strong a distinction between the personhood and symbolism of Mary, for it puts him on a path that leads right back into the camp of the now-discredited "Jesus Seminar," which was all about playing the "Jesus of history" against the "Christ of faith," a dialectic totally foreign to and absent from the New Testament, the early Church, and the apostolic churches before the Reformation. Perry and Myers may object on the grounds that they explicit reject that a "historical Mary" can be constructed out of Scriptural texts. But to my eyes the dialectic is the same -- artificially inferring split identities from the diverse portrayals of particular figures in Scripture as a means of resolving philosophical anxieties that have little to do with Scripture itself. Even his use of the term "biblically-responsible Mariology" presumes the central Protestant tenet that the Catholic Church is not biblically responsible. Quaint but intellectually dishonest.
In other words, if Perry insists on suggesting that the Catholic and Orthodox Churches have "suffocated" Mary the person in favor of Mary the symbol, then what principle prevents me from claiming that the evangelicals have "suffocated" Jesus the person in favor of Jesus the symbol? Isolating passages that on their face pit the "two Jesuses" against each other is easy enough (my years as an evangelical proof-texter have to be good for something). So once again, we see how sola Scriptura forces the evangelical mind into these strange corners.
Perry is correct that the Lucan narratives on Mary are "theological history," but most of the New Testament is theological history, especially the Gospel narratives. Catholic and Orthodox exegetes nonetheless see a unity in Christ's (and thus Mary's) identity because of their grasp of the fundamental harmony between theology and history and the assistance of apostolic Liturgy and Tradition to unify the ostensibly dissonant portrayals of Christ (and Mary) in Scripture. But because evangelicals tend to accept the modernist doctrine that history has a scientific ground strictly independent of ideological or religious perspectives, they will often sit ill at ease with the idea of "theological history." The problem there is evangelicalism's uncritical acceptance of certain modernist epistemological theories, not the Catholic Church's sense of unity between Mary the person and Mary the symbol, falsely interpreted as suppressing one aspect of Mary against another.
Perry should take more seriously his own observation (which the Catholic and Orthodox Churches have made consistently for 2000 years and he's only getting around to now) that Mariology is directly tied into Christology. He should then ask himself what his theology of the "two Marys" implies about his Christology and ecclesiology.
Perry also seems to adopt the tiresome "complementarity" model of ecumenism in which evangelicals imagine themselves to be fillers of certain critical gaps in the Gospel that the Apostolic Churches have missed or failed to uphold. This supposedly gives them ecclesiological parity or equivalence with Catholicism and Orthodoxy. Hence when he speaks of Catholicism suffocating Mary the person, he's implying that evangelicalism can 1) contribute substantively to the Mariological tradition and still 2) retain its adversarial stance over and against Catholicism. That's all very cute to me (the way an adolescent would try to advise, without any sense of irony, a parent about a matter she's only giving serious thought to for the first time) but also demonstrative of the theological immaturity of mainstream evangelicalism.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Liberal thinking has always appeared to be marked by a largely self-induced fragility of ego, hence the chronic inability to distinguish sin from the sinner, both in oneself and in others. So when the life vs death rhetoric gets thrown at liberals, their unarmored egos get easily bruised and scatched. But as a political pro-lifer (political in the sense that I believe that pro-life ethics requires political and legal solutions as much as cultural and socioeconomic solutions), I have never thought of "Kerry Catholics" or the more moderate "Roche Catholics" as permanent members of the "Culture of Death;" if anything, their membership depends on their shifting beliefs and practices. I think Kaveny would have a hard time trying to find explicit language that is any more judgmental of their persons than that.
"Liberal" casuistry may in fact feed what we call the Culture of Death (and it is in the end figurative) and on that count, be foolish, non-sensical, and worthy of a swift smack upside the head. The brutality of pro-life criticism is, more often than not, a proportionate reaction to the way a certain erroneous worldview can wreak such grave havoc upon the rational faculties of otherwise highly intelligent and well-intentioned Catholics.
For Prof. Kaveny to neatly stuff all this into a "prophetic rhetoric is bad" sack is in itself harmful because it threatens to stuff the entire prophetic tradition of the Old Testament along with. The targets of the Nebi'im were always deeply offended by the proclamation of truth. Isn't it in MLK's Letter from a Birmingham Jail where King addresses the offense taken by so many respected clergymen regarding the prophetic rhetoric of the civil rights movement? The key distinction between the prophetic tradition and a puritanical moralistic tradition is that the prophets held themselves to be under the same hand of judgment as their target audience. The political pro-lifer sees herself as subject to the judgment of God in an issue that is quite literally about life and death (cf. Moses' speech on that). As the Prophets did not have the time or luxury to mince words or employ "practical reason" on a trans-pratical matter, I would want to avoid taking too much offense at anything at the very least for fear of finding myself on their bad side.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
What they never bother to contemplate is how a Kennedy who fathered 11 kids, who was far more devoted to his mentally disabled sister Rosemary than his brothers, who took his Catholic faith far more seriously than his brothers, and who increasingly identified with the scrappy working class over the blueblood Brahmin class could possibly become an advocate for the bourgeois addiction to the unrestricted right to destroy human life in its most vulnerable stages.
Had the devil failed in conspiring against Bobby's life, the McGoverniks would never have risen to such unopposed dominance in the party. As it was then, only Bobby can save the Democratic Party from its nihilism now.
Obama comes close in spirit, but he's still politically and intellectually captive to the pro-abortion uni-brain. Casey, well, he's not his father, the last true RFK ghola. Let's see if the purportedly more moderate freshmen Democrats can channel a little of RFK's spirit.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
The best one can do is say it [evangelical access to and presence in academia] will steer the culture, shaping the law, government, and public policy on issues that....presently divide the hell out of Christians, especially ill-defined, fad-chasing, deracinated Protestant Evangelicals and other "post-confessionalists." Lacking ecclesial and political solidarity -- the latter ideally following from the former (though this is precisely what many people fear) -- one cannot expect to be able to do anything with "access" once one has it.I knew there was a reason why I smell a fish every time I hear smart evangelicals talk. Except for Mark Noll.
From St. Bede in the Office of Readings:
Such was the quality and strength of the man who accepted the end of this present life by shedding his blood after the long imprisonment. He preached the freedom of heavenly peace, yet was thrown into irons by ungodly men; he was locked away in the darkness of prison, though he came bearing witness to the Light of life and deserved to be called a bright and shining lamp by that Light itself, which is Christ. John was baptised in his own blood, though he had been privileged to baptise the Redeemer of the world, to hear the voice of the Father above him, and to see the grace of the Holy Spirit descending upon him. But to endure temporal agonies for the sake of the truth was not a heavy burden for such men as John; rather it was easily borne and even desirable, for he knew eternal joy would be his reward.
Since death was ever near at hand through the inescapable necessity of nature, such men considered it a blessing to embrace it and thus gain the reward of eternal life by acknowledging Christ’s name. Hence the apostle Paul rightly says: You have been granted the privilege not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for his sake. He tells us why it is Christ’s gift that his chosen ones should suffer for him: The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us.
Monday, August 21, 2006
Cosby asked the chilling question: "What good is Brown " and all the victories of the civil rights era if nobody wants them? A generation after those major civil rights victories, black America is experiencing alarming dropout rates, shocking numbers of children born to single mothers and a frightening acceptance of criminal behavior that has too many black people filling up the jails. Where is the focus on taking advantage of new opportunities to advance and to close the racial gap in educational and economic achievement?I'm a socially-conservative Asian-American Catholic who adores Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali. Both men in their later years embodied the kind of humility, honor, and dignity that represents the true face of Black Pride. Unfortunately today, most black politicians on the left have no sense of cultivating masculine virtues in young black men, only the trite therapeutic ideologies of the Democratic Party. Kudos Juan Williams for trying to pull the ship back on course.
Friday, August 18, 2006
On the contrary, without special studies and a firm formation in the Catholic faith, we would urge all Catholics to avoid the Kabbalah - it is a mixed bag of the occult and other elements contrary to the faith. Athol's reflections sort through the distortions introduced by the Lurianic Kabbalists to show the truths of the Catholic faith hidden in the Jewish mystical traditions.The Association for Hebrew Catholics needs a much, much bigger megaphone. Read some mind-blowing typological exegesis on Eucharistic Adoration through the eyes of Kabbalah here.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
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Sunday, March 12, 2006
Rick raises a good question about my post over at dotCommonweal re the dominance of the "extreme right" in Catholic discourse and in the general media, wondering whether I consider Father Neuhaus, George Weigel and others (Robbie George, for example) extreme. Whether one considers another "extreme," depends upon where one stands. More important, it depends upon where the "center" or the "core" is. Those of us who self-dentify as Commonweal Catholics tend to see ourselves as occupying a center position between more radical groups on the "left" (again, the term does not track entirely the political meaning of "left) such as Call to Action and writers such as Wills and Carroll, and the aforementioned writers on the right (same reservation re the political meaning of "right"), with whom we differ to varying degrees on a whole host of issues. Of course, as the recent exchange between Robbie and Mike P and Eduardo suggests, those writers regard themselves as speaking for the core of Catholicism, an assumption with which many of us would argue. Nevertheless, the secular press increasingly looks to that group as the voice of American Catholicism, which at least I regard as a problem.Problem: Sargent seems to be relying on the ol' straight line metaphor of political affiliation where there are two opposing end points and not so much a center but, to be more geometrically precise, a median. The American way is to identify everything and everybody along a linear axis - a very dualistic way of looking at the world, which of couse, stems from a typically Protestant worldview. "Center" is indeed an apt metaphor for the Catholicism's "belief map," but within a sphere or circle metaphor. What Sargent calls "extremes" are more accurately "peripheries," for in Catholicism, there is a true center: the apostolic teaching of the ages, including past ecumenical councils and ongoing Magisterial guidance. Just so there's no confusion, the center I am referring to here is not an ontological or liturgical center, which could only be occupied by Christ, but rather an ideological or doctrinal center which must be occupied by apostolic teaching and authority.
So in my view, Commonweal is consistently "medianist" (rather than "centrist"), which allows them to be too easily pushed and pulled by the ideological winds of the day. All one has to do to move the median is move the end point. The GOP of the post-Gingrich era has used this strategy to great effect. And that's just too shaky a foundation for one's politics or doctrine. With no objective anchoring point of reference, Commonweal's "centrism" is another's liberalism and yet another's conservatism, which is why "moderate" and "centrism" are highly misleading terms for Catholics. Pope Benedict and JPII have demonstrated themselves to be the true "centrists" of our Church. Medianism may at times be in line with true centrism, but more often than not, it is simply screaming at the umpire from the upper bleachers.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
Many have noted that the ideal scenario is that we'd have multiple patriarchs around the world, eg. one for Latin America, one for Africa, one for Asia, or what have you, just like they do in the East. The problem I have is that this sentiment seems to ignore history. The churches currently under the jurisdictional authority of Rome are not like the Eastern autocephs which are to their credit, for the most part, guided by Christ from within, ie. from a profound reverence for the "unchanging" nature of the Divine Liturgy. Inculturation for the East is judicious and organic, not ideological or manufactured. They haven't really needed an extrinsic authority figure to tell them what to do with the Liturgy. Sure, there have been a few messy bumps and flareups with the Old Calendrists, etc. But they have what the West lacks: a Patristic and Apostolic passion for Christ in the Liturgy.
The Latin Rite churches all over the world, by contrast, have grown so used to receiving guidance and discipline from Rome, I think the Liturgy will run amok for decades if Rome abandons jurisdictional control of the Mass, creating more schisms, before any apostolic normalcy is restored. Just look at how the Western churches have mutilated the Mass post-V2, even with all the formal directives from the Vatican.
The best counterargument is exactly what I've mentioned - that top-down management of the Liturgy obviously invites an extrinsicist view of what constitutes the local church, and hence dissent and resistance against the dictates of Rome. The East has done remarkably well for 2000 years without a unitary centralizing power. But that begs the chicken and the egg question: Can the dispersal of jurisdictional power actually cause greater respect for and adherence to the Apostolic Tradition? Or is it only an effect of some other preexisting cause?
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
To my great fortune, a herd of 147 elk (I had plenty of time to count them) wandered into the very field where I was sitting. To see one elk is exciting; to watch 147 elk in their natural habitat is enthralling. But I soon learned that to watch 147 elk for two hours is, to put it mildly, boring. They lowered their heads and chewed grass. They raised their heads in unison and looked at a raspy crow. They lowered their heads again and chewed grass. For two hours, nothing else happened. No mountain lions attacked; no bulls charged each other. All the elk bent over and chewed grass.All the reactions Yancey describes in his Natural Geographic moment with the elk are represented in the Sacred Liturgy. It's just sad he had to learn it from hoofed beasts rather than from Mother Church.
After a while, the very placidity of the scene began to affect me. The elk had not noticed my presence, and I simply melded into their environment, taking on their rhythms. I no longer thought about the work I had left at home, the deadlines facing me, the reading that Brennan had assigned. My body relaxed. In the leaden silence, my mind fell quiet.
How unfair! they thought. We feel so left out! No, wait, they're filling themselves with all these external, pious, self-righteous religious acts, the kind Paul condemned loud and clear in Scripture - they really need Jesus! Telling them how wrong they are is an essential part of our constitutional right to free exercise, darnit!
Navy fires them for forgetting that the Navy is not a church or a religious marketplace (duh). Evie chaplains sue for a temporary restraining order (TRO) to keep the Navy from giving them the boot. DC Circuit tells these plaintiffs: sit down! Subtext of Navy's actions - sacramental religions work much better with military culture, because they know who their flock is and keep it simple. They also have an intrinsic appreciation for authority and order (where's the authority and order when your entire religion is founded on a preference for personal revelations over the authority of the Body of Christ across time and space?). Subtext of DC Circuit action - the military has enough to worry about and evies need a reality check. Subtext of my post - alright, alright! so I still got an axe to grind, but these guys are giving the U.S. Armed Forces every reason to simply close down the entire Chaplain Corps.
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Throughout the book, adopt a sotto voice, in conspiracy with the reader, and a sad I-expected-so-much tone. Establish early on that your liberalism is impeccable, and mention near the beginning how much you love Africa, how you fell in love with the place and can't live without her. Africa is the only continent you can love—take advantage of this. If you are a man, thrust yourself into her warm virgin forests. If you are a woman, treat Africa as a man who wears a bush jacket and disappears off into the sunset. Africa is to be pitied, worshipped or dominated. Whichever angle you take, be sure to leave the strong impression that without your intervention and your important book, Africa is doomed.Liberals aren't too different when it comes to Asia, or for that matter, anyone different from them. Be sure to read the whole article. Delicious satire.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
But I too question with the Times whether a church can or should be built on a singular personality, other than Christ himself alive and ever-present (which is and can only be the Eucharist):
A looming question for Redeemer, though, is how much of what Dr. Keller and his team have built can be maintained when he ultimately exits the stage. When he was out for several months in the summer of 2002 while undergoing treatment for thyroid cancer, attendance dipped noticeably.The conventional Protestant reply is that it doesn't really matter. Churches come and go. So long as Christ uses Keller to transform lives and save the lost, then he's doing more than good, even if it all dies away in the long run. All our works are rags to God anyway. The problem with this answer is that besides being trite, it reinforces the "next big thing" mentality where Christians are trained to always look either to be or to consume the next hot Christian fad. Then believers are no longer seeking Christ, but chasing after their own desires and aspirations. This is the essence of a hyper-capitalist, not Christian, culture. Redeemer-type churches do nothing to liberate believers from the iron cage of American solipsism.
In essence, Keller is a good pastor in need of a even better Church.
Faced with such examples, Mr. Blachly says, "The best I can offer is that sacred and secular were not such separate categories as they have come to be for us."That may be true, but as much as the sacred and secular have been polarized, so has our typically dualistic culture been guilty of the other extreme, of anointing everything secular as sacred. The defenders of Marty Haugen, et al, tend to argue that throughout church history, liturgical music has always drawn from popular genres, therefore Marty's music is sacred. But the issue for traditionalist contrarians has never been over identifying a purely sacred genre. Pop music is not per se an evil...but most of it IS and Haugenmusik IS. The test is in the Tradition which does impose theological standards, which Von Balthasar's theological aesthetics has helped us to discern. A single melody without any lyrics has a "form" that must be tested for its seaworthiness and longevity on the waters of divine worship. A Josquin Mass though five hundred years old remains remarkably fresh, capacious, and ergonomically well-designed in terms of its musical structure to contain the unfathomable doctrines and prayers of the Credo or Agnus Dei. As today's Mass reading instructs:
No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak; if he does, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and the tear gets worse. And nobody puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins too. No! New wine, fresh skins!’ Mark 2:18 - 22Pop music tends to keep us caged within the prevailing secular Zeitgeist. Haugenmusik is all about naked "spirituality," an individualistic emotionalism incapable of representing any Christological substance. And that's why it and most pop is evil, not because it's pop. May Haugenmusik be an Augenblick on the stage of liturgical history.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
THE question of the place of science in human life is not a scientific question. It is a philosophical question. Scientism, the view that science can explain all human conditions and expressions, mental as well as physical, is a superstition, one of the dominant superstitions of our day; and it is not an insult to science to say so. For a sorry instance of present-day scientism, it would be hard to improve on Daniel C. Dennett's book. "Breaking the Spell" is a work of considerable historical interest, because it is a merry anthology of contemporary superstitions....feast on the rest here. And I thought only Christians found Dennett to be full of crap.
I have to say that the Catholic Church and the DaVinci Code Hoax book are full of s***!! The Catholic Church is one the the biggest liars and responsible for the biggest cover-ups in the History of the planet. Christianity has killed more people than any other group in History. This is History!!!! Throughout History, the Catholic Church has alienated, imprisoned, and killed individuals who who were/are free thinkers (scientists, philosophers, scholars, etc...) and came up with ideas and knowledge that went against what the church stated and/or preached, and than later the church accepted these ideas and knowledge as "truth". What about these innocent people who were alienated, imprisoned, and killed for no reason?!!! The church has killed far more people deamed "witches" and/or heretics than you claim in you bulls*** books!!! Why are you so scared?!!! Why are you so stupid and ignorant?!!!!
The Catholic Church is the richest entity on the planet. If the Catholic Church is supposedly into helping people, how can you live with yourselves making and having so much money when people are struggling to live day to day. You make me sick!!!
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
The Government's suggestion that carving out a RFRA exemption from the drug laws would represent judicial activism is entirely backward. This case does not involve courts ordering an exception to an Act of Congress based on general language in the Constitution. It involves an exception to the Controlled Substances Act based on another Act of Congress that expressly calls for exceptions to federal statutes. The case involves two federal statutes, and each must be taken seriously. It is not judicial activism to read the two together and rely on one to create an exception to theother. Judicial activism would be refusing to enforce RFRA.Chief Justice Roberts and all 8 of his merry justices bought it. And of course, Mirror of Justice has it covered.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Freedom is freedom for truth. Error has no rights. This was the perspective of the Church for many centuries. It was used to support censorship and persecution in many countries. The same perspective was employed by Protestant countries for the same purposes and by non-religious dictatorships. The freedom was the same; the truth was different.First of all, Church teaching cannot be contrary to human dignity, and if you think it does, then you don't get Catholic teaching. The doctrine that "error has no rights" has not been overturned and is still correct, even after Dignitatis Humanae. Persons, however, do have inalienable rights. But I would hold on to the principle that there is no unconditional "right" to spread error, especially harmful error. This does not grant a right to religious institutions to actively suppress error outside its borders. The Vagina Monologues is not a person; it's a play. A university can ban a play from campus. A university can limit what a speaker may or may not speak on if she's invited on the university's dime. To assume that the principle inexorably leads to bloody persecution and repression borders on paranoia. So let's get off the pre-Vatican II Church's back -- it's getting old.
At least with respect to the actions of government, Vatican II changed the perspective of the Church. Vatican II respects the dignity of the individual and his or her freedom to make religious choices. It respects the right of individuals to choose error, but hopes to lead them toward truth. As I understand it, liberal Catholics believe that individuals should enjoy the same freedom with respect to Church teaching. They should, for example, have been free publicly to maintain that religious freedom was demanded by appropriate conceptions of human dignity when Church teaching was to the contrary.
What is almost always overlooked is that the erroneous viewpoints being pushed onto Catholic campuses are not just at variance or at odds with Catholic teaching; they're utter nonsense that do not deserve the respect of university-level discourse. Just because a lot of university-educated people love it doesn't magically transubstantiate bad milk into good meat. VM is not about expanding the debate; it's about pure mockery of any other viewpoint but its own. If it affirms anyone, it does so by way of incitement to hate everything that differs from it. That kind of material belongs on Jerry Springer, not a university campus.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Hopefully, our elected officials will step back from the rhetoric that has dominated both sides of the debate. They can do so by keeping in mind three fundamental—but frequently overlooked—truths about our society. First, if pressed by pro-life advocacy groups for a conscience clause, legislators should remember that supporting freedom of conscience does not mean that individuals must be legally empowered to act on the dictates of conscience without any possible negative consequence. An individual’s conscience should not be snuffed out by state edict, but neither should it be elevated as an absolute trump over the similarly conscience-driven convictions of employers and customers.True Christian martyrs have never demanded that the law of the State give them free pass when they stood up for their faith. Christian discipleship entailed saying to oneself, "This is what I believe, and let the chips fall where they may, even to the death if necessary." None of this whining about violation of our conscience rights. When Christians lobby the state to respect human rights, it's on behalf of others who are oppressed and of the State which also needs redemption. But when conservatives expect the state to protect their faith and morality from all the slings and arrows of the world, they fall into the same victimization mentality canonized by the Left and begotten by all our rights-obsessed identity politics. The Cross was never meant be greased and made comfy by the law.
I am so confused about why we are still having to argue with patriarchal sentimentality about teeny weenie so-called babies — some microscopic, some no bigger than the sea monkeys we used to send away for — when real, live, already born women, many of them desperately poor, get such short shrift from the current administration.The self-contradictions are dizzying.
Most women like me would much rather use our time and energy fighting to make the world safe and just and fair for the children we do have, and do love — and for the children of New Orleans and the children of Darfur. I am old and tired and menopausal and would mostly like to be left alone: I have had my abortions, and I have had a child.
But as a Christian and a feminist, the most important message I can carry and fight for is the sacredness of each human life, and reproductive rights for all women is a crucial part of that: It is a moral necessity that we not be forced to bring children into the world for whom we cannot be responsible and adoring and present. We must not inflict life on children who will be resented; we must not inflict unwanted children on society.
1) On Garrisson Keillor's NY Times review of Bernard Henri-Levy's new book on America:
"As always with French writers," says Keillor, "Lévy is short on the facts, long on conclusions." I would give about, oh, five cents to know which ones Keillor has in mind. Perhaps he has been boning up on his Foucault or Balibar or Derrida, in which case he modestly makes no show of his own learning. He cannot mean Albert Camus or Olivier Todd or Michel Houllebecq. Nor can he have read BHL's last book, which was a very detailed investigation of the murder of an American reporter named Daniel Pearl. I think BHL did a service to America there, as he did when he warned years ago of the dangers of the Taliban and Slobodan Milosevic, at a time when America was sleeping. But of course, guarded as it is by stout commonsensical fellows like Keillor, who think we should tend to bidness right here and stay out of them furrin places, our culture has little to fear except fear itself.Hitchens' reading abilities are at the level of a high school thrasher if he couldn't catch Keillor's irony in the quote he posted. I read the Keillor review and the guy was being coy when he said "As always with French writers" -- a dash of wit that completely flew over Hitchens' head, which isn't hard if it's stuck in your navel or your arse. Keillor had just quipped that Lévy is quite comfortable with phrases like "as always in America." So he threw a right-backatcha with his "As always with French writers." Hitchens read it simply on its face as a serious declaratory statement, silly wabbit. The guy really does need to calm down. Every time I see him on TV, he's looking more and more disheveled and jittery -- a product of his ever-growing churlishness towards all things not Hitchens. All anyone has to do is peep "Religion!" and he'll bark like a feral alley mutt. At least Levy is having fun mocking America and its religiosity.
2) On the cartoons of Mohammed:
It is revolting to me to breathe the same air as wafts from the exhalations of the madrasahs, or the reeking fumes of the suicide-murderers, or the sermons of Billy Graham and Joseph Ratzinger. But these same principles of mine also prevent me from wreaking random violence on the nearest church, or kidnapping a Muslim at random and holding him hostage, or violating diplomatic immunity by attacking the embassy or the envoys of even the most despotic Islamic state, or making a moronic spectacle of myself threatening blood and fire to faraway individuals who may have hurt my feelings. The babyish rumor-fueled tantrums that erupt all the time, especially in the Islamic world, show yet again that faith belongs to the spoiled and selfish childhood of our species.As Pacino in Glengarry Glen Ross would have responded to Hitchens, "Oh, what a big man you are! Hey, let me buy you a pack of gum. I'll show you how to chew it. Whoof. You're pal closes, and all that comes out of your mouth is bile. Ooh, how f----d-up you are!"
Monday, February 13, 2006
Saturday, February 11, 2006
The same article linked above notes that at the Georgetown Hoya a columnnist was removed from the staff for writing a review that sharply criticized a performance of VM there and his review was never published. But noooo, that's not suppression of free thought. Only those damn papists are capable of infringing on intellectual freedom.
Crescat Sententia wonders whether this issue indicates an intrinsic limitation to greatness for any Catholic university. (HT: Mirror of Justice) I have a soft spot for my fellow Maroons, particularly those who are much smarter than I, but on this is one philosophical point I part ways with the UChicago model of a liberal education. Chicago just never went far enough during its honeymoon dalliance with Thomism back in the day. At any rate, what it would perhaps admit if it did, is that a modern liberal paideia at schools like Chicago cannot tolerate morality or revelation as having any standards accessible to reason. This is its primary intellectual blindspot. Liberal ed holds its students and professors to lofty standards of academic form and content in all its departments, except when it comes to morality, ethics, or religion. There the only standard is tolerance subjectivized and privatized, which is of course a dishonest double standard. Catholic universities, by their very existence and relationship to a Magisterial Church, have always challenged this glaring lacuna at the heart of post-Enlightenment learning in the West.
Fr. O'Connell has simply made it plain and firm that at the Catholic University of America, right reason advises against sponsorship of a play that is of such low quality in terms of its contribution to moral or political discourse as to disqualify it from admission to the school's resources. As a function of intellectual freedom, do grad students have a "right" to put on a performance of The Wiggles? I'd argue no, even though the Wiggles are well known to stand for "family values" (to a fault IMO). They may be great for the family living room but at a university, it's just not up to snuff. Rather than moralizing over the VM problem, I'd argue that this is a "clinical" matter of intellectual and moral standard-setting. Granted, there are no hard and fast rules in excluding the performance of a particular play at a university, but universities can and do make these discretionary calls all the time. To accuse a Catholic university for violating intellectual freedom on these grounds is thus a red herring.
If by "greatness" Crecat Sententia meant the apotheosis of Enlightenment ideals, then I say, let the secularist schools have it. Catholic schools should not be intimidated by these alluring suggestions that they need to sponsor a play of dubious quality to be great. So long as we as a society remain mired in a culture that measures artistic greatness in terms of the amount mud one can splatter on traditions and conventions alone, it will be the Catholic universities that history will hold to be great. Unfortunately, most Catholic universities haven't yet found the cahones to buck the pressure to conform their minds to the world's worst stupidity.
Friday, February 10, 2006
A moment for a distinction that must be made. Some have compared Mrs. King's funeral to the Paul Wellstone memorial. It was not like the Wellstone memorial, and you'd have to be as dim and false as Al Franken to say it was. The Wellstone memorial was marked not by joy but anger. It was at moments sour, even dark. There was famous booing.
The King funeral was nothing like this. It was gracious, full of applause and cheers and amens. It was loving even when it was political. It had spirit, not rage. That's part of why it was beautiful.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
You can add that to the list of reasons why contraception is way overrated.
And you can add that to the list of biological metaphors for the theological relationship between Christ and his Mother and the Church.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Cardinal Achille Silvestrini, a retired diplomat of the Holy See, said: "Freedom is a great virtue but it must be shared and it must not be unilateral. Freedom of satire that offends the feelings of others becomes an abuse, and here we are talking about nothing less than the feelings of entire peoples who have seen their supreme symbols affected." SourceBut Prof. Bainbridge is "disappointed" by the Vatican's rebuke to the Western press for printing the Danish cartoon as evidencing a "deplorable moral relativism." And surprisingly, so have several conservative Catholic commentators noted that Catholics should stand for freedom of expression above the principle of respect for sacred things of other people. They're obviously in the moral universe of Rudy Giuliani where the example of Islamic extremism serves as nice wash bowl in which we Western Christians never have to take moral responsibility for our own conduct towards non-Westerners.
But the Holy See was on the mark. Maybe American neocons will one day realize that the Holy See actually has some moral and diplomatic wisdom when it comes to dealing with non-Americans. What it said simply was that the incitement to violence was wrong but so was printing the offensive cartoons. No moral equivalence was made and it's not relativistic to condemn two different things in the same sentence.
American Catholics would do well to remember that if any mofo desecrated the Eucharist in public, there should be hell to pay in this life and the next. I mentioned this last night to a Protestant former div school friend of mine who leans left and he retorted that such a response would violate what the Eucharist stands for, invoking the good ol' turn the other cheek principle as a justification for pansy-ass roll-over doormat-ism. But this is classic Protestant denial of the human, try as they may to reduce the Beatitudes to a "Make Love Not War" bumper sticker.
Reverence for sacred things is a basic human instinct. I guess modernity has obliterated that sense in us Westerners so thoroughly that when Muslims react so strongly for their holy things, we're not so much offended by their contempt for our "values" as we are subconsciously shamed by the implicit fact that we as a society have no regard for the sacred anymore.
As Catholics, we should be far more sympathetic to the desecration of anyone's sacred objects, especially if they're cherished by tens of millions of people as sacred. Over the millennia, Catholics have been through waves of persecution by iconoclasts who have mocked us for idolatry, spit on our holy relics, violently torn down our altars and statues, and disfigured our icons. If this is starting to sound like a pro-Osama statement, then you're not getting it. Sacred things are to be respected, even if they're of the "enemy." Terrorists who seek to spill innocent blood, on the other hand, are not. But if you callously or maliciously desecrate sacred objects, well, you're not so innocent anymore. I don't think death is a proportionate punishment, but still, you're not innocent anymore. You're a certifiable asshole deserving zero support from Catholics. Instead, the Danish cartoonist, his editors and publishers are now considered martyrs for the cause of free speech.
Dinesh D'Souza has an intriguing take that I find to be far more reasonable than what I'm hearing from Western Christians.
Fr. Jim Tucker too.
Fr. Robert Araujo on the Mirror of Justice blog provides a helpful perspective on geopolitical role of the Holy See in these matters.
Monday, February 06, 2006
I love how the Western Liberal Cultural Imperialists are patting themselves on the back for their magnanimous response to the Danish Mohammed cartoon mess. All this chatter about freedom of speech and press in the global marketplace is a lot of bunk and totally fails to grasp the Muslim world, at least the part that's pissed off about the cartoons. As if mention of legitimate suppression of Neo-Nazis and child porn advocates weren't enough to reveal the double-standards, it must be noted that Western elites have totally forgotten how religion actually can be a matter of life and death to many people and that it's not "primitive" or "fundamentalist" to take religion that seriously. Sorry, Mr. West, but just because you've privatized religion into a narrow pidgeon-hole of subjective, individual taste, where religion is accorded the same reverence as my favorite flavor of ice cream, doesn't mean everyone else has to buy it. Isn't that simply what diversity, pluralism, and multiculturalism are all about? But no, we're relativists only when it's over our ability to scratch our latest sexual itches; absolutists when it comes to our contempt for serious religion that isn't at our beck and call.
Islam has never had a chance to really respond freely to modernity, much less postmodernity. And so long as the West continues to patronizingly instruct religions older than itself to "get with the program" and require that they turn their age-old beliefs into porridge, it will only further inflame the rage of "true believers." Islam is indeed responsible for its extremists, but the West has got to stop serving as the ignorant accomplice to the radicalization of Islamic orthodoxy, first by being honest about its own relationship to Christianity.
That means recognizing that religion is legitimately about the highest values and therefore it's naturally about life and death if it's worthy to be called a religion at all. By "highest," I don't mean what most moderns mean by it, ie. the ethereal, intangible, subjective, transcendentalist definition. I mean that which is most deserving of our utmost respect, deference, and reverence both publicly and privately, whether you're religious or spiritual or nothing. The West still loves talking about "spirituality" as the negation of institutional and historic religion, or the evolution beyond Christianity, or as some advancement in human progress. But that's just one "myth" about religion, about as scientifically rigorous as my love of fried potato products, about as advanced as the ancient paganisms.
So when the modernists cry foul when Muslims express public and murderous outrage over the mocking of one of their sacred prophets, the modernist has two realistic options: either treat Islam with respect and not impose its baggage over Christianity onto it, or just shut up. Maybe if we respected Islam enough as a true Other (which is not the same thing as tolerating violent extremists), Muslims would find enough space to grapple with modernity and make some workable peace with it to lay down the weapons. Satirizing religion comes after the horse.
Traditional Christianity has always distinguished between religion worth dying for and evil acts worth killing for. The repeated shaming of Islam by the West has pressured it to conflate the two. That does not justify the terrorists one iota. If you're insistent in seeking the deaths of innocent people, there's nothing in Christian faith that keeps us from seeking your destruction if that's what it takes to stop you. But Islam itself - the Quran, her most blessed prophets, her temples and sanctuaries, ie. her intrinsic sacred cows - they must be respected by the West. Forget the theories; it's simple politeness. And in my family, rudeness was a punishable offense; but you can't even suggest that to the fascist freedom-of-speech-niks.
Personally, I think the appropriate punishment for the cartoonist and his editor should be a public spanking. No blood, just a little public humiliation which always does the soul good.
Sunday, February 05, 2006
SENATE RESOLUTION 364—HONORING THE VALUABLE CONTRIBUTIONS OF CATHOLIC SCHOOLS IN THE UNITED STATESThanks to Religion Clause Blog for the flag.
Mr. VITTER (for himself and Ms. LANDRIEU) submitted the following resolution; which was considered and agreed to:
S. RES. 364 - February 1, 2006
Whereas Catholic schools in the United States have received international acclaim for academic excellence while providing students with lessons that extend far beyond the classroom;
Whereas Catholic schools present a broad curriculum that emphasizes the lifelong development of moral, intellectual, physical, and social values in the young people of the United States;
Whereas Catholic schools in the United States today educate 2,420,590 students and maintain a student-to-teacher ratio of 15 to 1;
Whereas the faculty members of Catholic schools teach a highly diverse body of students;
Whereas more than 27.1 percent of school children enrolled in Catholic schools are minorities, and more than 13.6 percent are non-Catholics;
Whereas Catholic schools saved the United States $19,000,000,000 in educational funding during fiscal year 2005;
Whereas Catholic schools produce students strongly dedicated to their faith, values, families, and communities by providing an intellectually stimulating environment rich in spiritual, character, and moral development; and
Whereas in the 1972 pastoral message concerning Catholic education, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops stated, “Education is one of the most important ways by which the Church fulfills its commitment to the dignity of the person and building of community. Community is central to education ministry, both as a necessary condition and an ardently desired goal. The educational efforts of the Church, therefore, must be directed to forming persons-in-community; for the education of the individual Christian is important not only to his solitary destiny, but also the destinies of the many communities in which he lives.”: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Senate—
(1) recognizes the goals of Catholic Schools Week, an event cosponsored by the National Catholic Educational Association and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that recognizes the vital contributions of thousands of Catholic elementary and secondary schools in the United States; and
(2) congratulates Catholic schools, students, parents, and teachers across the United States for their ongoing contributions to education, and for the vital role they play in promoting and ensuring a brighter, stronger future for this Nation.
Saturday, February 04, 2006
Against "liberal" Catholics, a distinctive and authentic Catholic position will not extrapolate from abortion to death penalty without distinguishing privately-authorized killing of innocents from state-authorized killing of persons guilty of committing heinous, dastardly crimes against the innocent. In other words, it will not rule out capital punishment categorically under some loosely-knit banner of "Pro-Life." It will not ignore the demands of retributive justice, which, though out of fashion, remains a standard element in the Catholic definition of justice.
At the same time, it will uphold the dignity of all persons, including criminals, and seek their redemption (which does not exclude capital punishment either). It will also regard the state's ability to inerrantly discern guilt beyond reasonable doubt in capital cases with some skepticism. Finally, JPII's advocacy against exercise of the death penalty must also be taken seriously and cannot be dismissed with that favorite overused tool of ideologically conservative Catholics - "prudential judgment." Catholics can test how ideologically-driven they are to the extent they brush off or ignore any of these Catholic concerns.
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Not to speak for Mr. Yong, but I believe he's referring to that aspect of "grace" which connotes blessedness, beatitude, and plenitude. To draw perhaps a poor Confucian analogy from Yong's reference to the Ave Maria prayer, the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the biblical scene from which the Ave Maria derives, is honored for being the most dutiful and filial among the daughters of her Heavenly Father. Through her free, affirmative submission to the Father's will, she becomes the tabernacle for the Incarnate Son, who all Christians profess to be their Lord and Savior. Therein lies her "grace" and the fulfillment of her "duty" as "the handmaid of the Lord." She thus becomes a model and Mother to all Christians.
There are many quasi-Confucian relations at work, especially in the Catholic interpretation of the Gospels' Nativity story: father-son (both heavenly and earthly), mother-son, father-daughter, husband-wife, cousins/siblings (not strongly distinguished in biblical times), even ancestor veneration if we analogize to the genealogies of Christ in Matthew and Luke. Of course, familial duties are not emphasized as they are in Confucianism, but they're implicit, with a Christocentric, rather than a horizontal humanistic focus. Just my two cents. Gong xi fa cai!
Thursday, January 26, 2006
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
As I begin my presidency, I am aware that, as I make particular decisions and undertake initiatives, I am establishing patterns and expectations for how I will lead in this position. Consequently, it is important not only what decisions I make, but how I make them. On matters of significance, I will always strive to make decisions, consonant with my authority, according to my most informed and considered judgment about what is best for this university and its mission. I will not lead by consensus, nor by majority vote, nor in response to the pressures that individuals or groups inside or outside the university may bring to bear. However, prior to making a decision on an important matter, I will, as appropriate and practicable, strive to solicit and listen to the views of relevant individuals and groups. Central to the obligations of my office are the twin responsibilities of listening to the views of members of this community prior to a decision, and then making that decision. (emphasis added)Jenkins sounds awful lot like Alito and Roberts, and come to think of it, like B16. Convergence is such a beautiful thing.
Read the rest to get the substantive philosophical arguments. It'll warm the Catholic mind and soul.
Monday, January 23, 2006
I am not sanguine. For one thing, the chill has become systemic. The episcopacy shaped by John Paul II will continue to perpetuate its fearful distrust of theologians. Defenders of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) argue that its investigations and sanctions of theologians are about “truth in advertising”-Catholic theologians in Catholic colleges should teach the way the Vatican says they should teach. Such a claim does little more than reduce theological truth to catechesis.I'm no big fan of JPII's pics for the episcopacy, but LTJ is not helping. It's a little sad to see a fine Catholic NT scholar like Johnson, who I once admired greatly, slowly but willingly fall prey to the same infectious delusions of the modernist liberal intelligentsia. "Fearful distrust of theologians"? I guess anything less than rubber stamping is unequivocally distrustful then. "Truth in advertising" = reducing theological truth to catechesis? I suppose with the way American Catholics do catechesis, it deserves the insult. But if LTJ and his like-minded theologians can't distinguish between catechesis and CCD, and then incorrectly isolate catechesis from theological inquiry, well then no wonder modern theology is a mess.
I think we all need to wake up to the "you put down your gun and I'll put down mine" principle. Maybe if theologians didn't spend so much time bashing the hierarchy with their historicist narratives of power and their hermeneutics of suspicion, there would be a good reason for the hierarchy to trust you all. Meanwhile, the bishops have a huge unwieldy Church to hold together while the theologians, for the most part, have the luxury of playing pinata with effigies of the bishops.
LTJ's Emory colleague, Michael Perry, on Mirror of Justice blog is starting to annoy as well, with his Johnny-One-Note postings demonstrating little intellectual, but plenty of ideological, fussing. (HT: to MP for notice of the LTJ article, but not for his comments.)
Hosted friends from out of town, in town for the March for Life. Participated in a planning meeting for Americans On Call, a new movement started by my classmates. Went to a powerful Byzantine Compline at the Shrine last night and did a Holy Hour before the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Sat by the AOC phone today in case any media got curious. Talked to several marchers. Between classes, a very full day.
Came across this nice article by Frederica Mathewes-Green (thankfully avoiding her frequent anti-Catholic jabs) in which she says:
There is tremendous sadness, loneliness in the cry, ‘A woman’s right to choose.’ No one wants an abortion as she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal, caught in a trap, wants to gnaw off its own leg.Read the whole thing.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
Lewis lovers must squabble among themselves. I cannot join the party, having missed out on Narnia as a child. I was busy elsewhere, up to my armpits in hobbits, and starting to ask hard questions about the sexual longevity of elves. When, as a grownup, I finally opened “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” it struck me as woefully thin soil, with none of the gnarled roots of lore and language on which Tolkien thrived. If the movie has to forgo Lewis’s narrative tone, with its grimly Oxonian blend of the bluff and the twee (“And now we come to one of the nastiest things in this story”), that is fine by me. And, if there is Deep Magic, as Lewis called it, in his tale, it resides not in the springlike coming of Aslan but in the dreamlike, compacted poetry of Lewis’s initial inspiration—the sight of a faun, in the snow, bearing parcels and an umbrella.If the movie's Aslan came anywhere close to representing C.S. Lewis', then I think I've finally found my good doctrinal reason for not liking Lewis: bad Christology.
Aslan is not even compelling as a movie hero, much less as as Christ-figure. For example, to allegorize Christ's scourging, Aslan got a bad hair cut by lawn gnomes brought to life. Puhlease. Mel's Braveheart cut a more Passionful Christ-figure than the movie's Aslan. In the end, he's just an all-powerful, sacrificial hero-type with a mean, toothy roar. That's not even the half of the true Christ, with a far more intriguing Trinitarian persona at work in the Gospels. Then again, Western Christianity has always been far less interested in the Sub-apostolic and Patristic understanding of Christ's Trinitarian identity.
Christ, without any conscious reference to a Person from Whom he was begotten, is a Christ for the heretics. It is not the Christ of the Gospels, nor a Christ of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. But I'm probably making too much of Lewis' Aslan. Of course Aslan was not presented intentionally as an anti-Trinitarian Christ, by either Lewis or the filmmakers. For the kids, that's fine. For adults, especially adult Christians who take Christological doctrine seriously, Aslan is a big disappointment. Yeah, yeah, I need to read the book before I judge too harshly. But that won't happen till I have me some kids of my own to read to sleep.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
This policy will inevitably raise questions regarding academic freedom. The true meaning of academic freedom is often misunderstood; it is not the license to hold any view that one chooses. Academic freedom is instead always governed by truth. It is the freedom to pursue the truth in a discipline in accord with the accepted canons of inquiry without any impediment by extraneous considerations. Prohibiting a theatrical production of The Vagina Monologues does not prohibit free inquiry about the play. All members of the campus are free to read, study, and discuss the play in various settings, especially the classroom. It is perfectly appropriate that we study texts that have diverse views in order both to broaden our understanding of others and to bring our own views into sharper focus. I fully expect that one result of this communication will be some controversy. As a long-time student of St. Thomas Aquinas, I think disputes are an important part of education, so long as they are conducted with charity. While arguments about intellectual positions help us to learn from each other, attacks on persons do not.God bless the sons and daughters of St. Dominic! (HT: The Curt Jester)
As a Catholic with strong traditionalist sympathies, I must confess that I do not share in the adoration of humongous, gaudy episcopal/papal headgear. The bigger, more swollen and bulbous it gets, the more uncomfortably Freudian I become. What is the point, really, with the whole size thing? Once a mitre dwarfs the head it sits on by a factor of two or more, I think it safe to say we're in the Land of Ostentasia or Repressed Homoeroticism. This is another area where I'm with the Eastern churches - very dignified, theologically-distinctive, and naturally-proportioned mitres.
B16 actually seems to have a better sense of proportion and theological aesthetics in his headgear, so far as I can tell. I'm not into the red shoes though, unless they're an explicit reference to Elvis Costello's song about the angels who want to wear them.
Monday, January 16, 2006
William Cavanaugh's Torture and Eucharist is still among my most cherished theology books, but last I checked he's still Catholic and more of a Hauerwasian than a Radical Orthodoxist, or whatever you call them.
Friday, January 13, 2006
Thursday, January 12, 2006
| You scored as Chalcedon compliant. You are Chalcedon compliant. Congratulations, you're not a heretic. You believe that Jesus is truly God and truly man and like us in every respect, apart from sin. Officially approved in 451.|
Are you a heretic?
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EN: I've been faulted for the 67% Pelagianism. I never batted an eyelid about it because Catholic orthodoxy takes free will and moral agency seriously. Pelagianism became a "hot" heresy only because of the Calvinist appropriation of the late Augustine whose sense of human depravity by that point was getting the better of his moral theology. Beyond that, Pelagius' moral theology wasn't so bad, just his Christology.