Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Pride & Prejudice

Just got around to seeing the 2005 film. Loved it.

Keira Knightley = Winona Ryder + Helena Bonham Carter

Matthew Macfayden = John Cusack + Jonathan Pryce

Friday, January 26, 2007

What's in a blog name?

I usually don't do this, but I must poke fun at a fellow St. Blog's parish site which has spent the last week defending an adjective in its blog name as if it were homoousia. This is the kind of thing that makes the Orthodox laugh at us.

Update: Whoa, didn't know Amy Welborn had expounded on the matter. I still think "intentionality" is inextricably chained to a voluntaristic model of human agency, more congruent with Protestantism than apostolic Catholicism. If intentionality is what Catholics lack, we're not going to find it by aiming to be more "intentional."

Silence of the Lambs

When I first read the headline, I thought maybe I was being too hasty in my pessimism about Catholics and ascesis. Schoolchildren being instructed to remain silent throughout lunch period -- an inculcation of monastic virtues and disciplines -- mortification of the loose tongue -- refraining from idle chatter -- get'em while they're young -- Catholic formation from cradle to grave! Then this:
"The move comes after three recent choking incidents in the cafeteria."
Man, do I need a break.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Dorothy Day on the nonprofit model of religious incorporation

Came across some juicy bits by the great Dame of the Bowery, Dorothy Day writing in 1972, as I was doing some research on nonprofit law. I've always been impressed by Catholic Workers who made it a point to refuse tax-exempt status, both for themselves and their donors.
Christ commanded His followers to perform what Christians have come to call the Works of Mercy: feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the harborless, visiting the sick and prisoner, and burying the dead. Surely a simple program for direct action, and one enjoined on all of us. Not just for impersonal "poverty programs," government-funded agencies, but help given from the heart at a personal sacrifice.
On another level there is a principle laid down, much in line with common sense and with the original American ideal, that governments should never do what small bodies can accomplish: unions, credit unions, cooperatives, St. Vincent de Paul Societies. Peter Maurin's anarchism was on one level based on this principle of subsidiarity, and on a higher level on that scene at the Last Supper where Christ washed the feet of His Apostles. He came to serve, to show the new Way, the way of the powerless. In the face of Empire, the Way of Love.
We believe also that the government has no right to legislate as to who can or who are to perform the Works of Mercy. Only accredited agencies have the status of tax-exempt institutions. After their application has been filed, and after investigation and long delays, clarifications, intercession, and urgings by lawyers - often an expensive and long-drawn-out procedure - this tax-exempt status is granted.

As personalists, as an unincorporated group, we will not apply for this "privilege." We have explained to our donors many times that they risk being taxed on the gifts they send us, and a few (I can only think of two right now) have turned away from us. God raises up for us many a Habakkuk to bring his pottage to us when we are in the lion's den, or about to be, like Daniel of old.
You simply can't plot this stuff along any of our modern political axes. There's plenty here to offend Republicans, Democrats, and Libertarians. Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker definitely represent one end in the spectrum of models for church-state relations. The mainstream view in the Catholic Church is represented by your average diocese, Catholic college or hospital -- chartered or incorporated under state law, subject to IRS rules, but benefitting from 501(c)(3) tax-deductible gifts and exemptions from federal income and local property taxes. They've become part of the welfare state, yet shielded from excessive state entanglement, supposedly, by the free-exercise clause and the general principle of separation of church and state.

That shield has been eroding over the last couple of decades, so as I've peeled more layers of the regulatory and managerial onion that Catholic nonprofits clothe themselves in, I'm increasingly sympathetic to Lady Day's critique, especially alongside declining ascetic discipline and consciousness in the Church. Nowadays the model for charity is to get filthy rich and then give tons of it to a foundation in your or another fat cat do-gooder's name while claiming a fatty tax deduction and an on-TV hug from one of your grateful (but photogenic of course) beneficiaries. Nowadays dioceses are turning to Goldman Sachs and Wachovia to underwrite multimillion dollar bond issues to finance capital expansion projects, again, supposedly to support the Church's "charitable work." Nowadays "capital expansion" has become part of religious nonprofit lingo as "fasting" and "almsgiving" have dropped out. But I'm still torn. The Catholic Church has never seen itself as separatist. Of course, neither has the Catholic Worker.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

NYTimes brainless on abortion once again

In anticipation of the Marches for Life in SF and DC, the cover article of this weekend's NYTimes Magazine tries to get mileage out of the new alliance between pro-abortion advocates and the neo-Darwinians. It's such a ridiculous piece of journalism. Sure, I'll give you your quack pro-life scientists who unscientifically claim the existence of a psychiatrically diagnosable post-abortion trauma syndrome.

But give me a break -- pro-lifers don't base their opposition to abortion on these claims nor do we base our understanding of science on their methodology. The academic experts could conjure up a study demonstrating the healthy psychological effects of abortions and it would say nothing about its morality -- which, hello Left, is what the fuss is ultimately about.

The Left continues to discredit itself with their cheap, paltry attacks on pro-lifers.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Pre-Pro-Life-March Tailgate Party

A lovely, frightfully honest story by the mother of a Downs Syndrome child, who is now a Hollywood actor. Once again I'm reminded that inserting the word "choice" into any conversation about motherhood or pregnancy is absolute lunacy.

HT: Prof. Lisa Schiltz from Mirror of Justice blog

Anger doth burn the liver

The Man with the Black Hat, David Alexander, has posted his own insightful review of the Hand of God Frontline documentary. The money quote:
It is completely arbitrary to assign blame to a system of belief that, in its essential nature, is being ignored in a given situation by its own agents.
The film's maker, Joe Cultrera, apparently has been combing the blogosphere for reactions and blasted angrily away at Mr. Alexander's considered comments.

Cultrera was especially pissed about Alexander's observation that the film painted the Cultrera parents as ignorant. I did not note it in my post below, but I was also disappointed that the only reason the film gave for his parents' persistence in the Catholic faith was that it was what they were used to. How is it possible for people to remain Catholic in the light of priestly abuse and scandal? Well, it's the only thing they knew; we younger, more liberated kids have more options and know better. That does indeed condescendingly present Mr. and Mrs. Cultrera as ignorant Catholics who believe merely out of habit and "brainwashing" to use Paul Cultrera's word. Joe may not have intended it to be condescending, but it was. Nowhere in the film was there an acknowledgement that Catholicism might possibly be bigger than priests and bishops. Not only was Catholicism reduced to clergy, but to particularly malformed clergy. You can't eat your clericalism and have it too; you can't stab it and then wish it were more alive.

I've seen the kind of faith that the senior Cultreras demonstrated in other elder Catholics -- a deep-seated gut sense and wisdom that the world is filled with evil and that the Faith binds us to the truth that the evil cannot and must not consume or blind us if we are in Christ. The goodness of priests cannot hold a candle to our eucharistic communion in Christ, so that the evil of priests can never snuff it out.

Sorry, Joe, Mr. Alexander was right. You ruined your otherwise fine film as your vitriol boiled over and sought to scorch everything else true, good, and beautiful in the Catholic faith. Injustice does not grant its victims a license to throw reason out the window.

Galatians 3:28 in India

And the progs continue to insist that a universal Latin Mass serves no good in our day and age. Behold the glories of the vernacular in the era of Neo-Babel.
Father William, from Mangalore in southwestern Karnataka, said the parish's ethnic divide became serious last Easter, after some Tamil leaders expressed resentment over a decoration that had "Glory to the Risen Christ" written in Kannada. He blamed the Christmas incident on drunken youths.
Bishop Thomas Vazhappilly of Mysore says he feels helpless as Kannada and Tamil Catholics from Mother of God Parish in Jakkalli remain adamant about their positions.
Helpless??? Reinstitute the friggin' Latin, you fools!

Friday, January 19, 2007

At least it wasn't a Manolo

A shoe, tossed by a legislator, is seen bouncing off the forehead of Parliament speaker Wang Jin-pyng, center, igniting a brawl between both ruling and opposition parties during the final day of the winter legislative session, Friday, Jan. 19, 2007, in Taipei, Taiwan. Friday's trouble erupted when dozens of lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers stormed the Parliament speaker Wang Jin-pyng's dais to try and prevent consideration of a proposal to change the composition of the Central Election Commission. (AP Photo) (AP)

The best line from the WaPo article: "Taiwan's Legislature has a reputation for violent incidents ever since the dismantling of martial law in 1987." Yeah, democracy often makes me wanna throw a shoe too.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Do You Remember Fr. Birmingham?

Every true lover of the Catholic Church must see this newly broadcast Frontline documentary. But every hater of the Catholic Church will only be further deluded by it.

So many layers to this documentary. If you finish watching it with only one bottom line conclusion, you only caught at best one layer.

Ultimately, I'm with the victims. Unfortunately, the victims in the film become consumed by their own victimhood. That's the saddest part of the film -- watching how the moral depravity and vacuity of our clergy not only makes victims but creates a victimhood that turns them into victimizers of truth and reality. It was like watching Oedipus gouge out his own eyes. Instead of presenting the blanket judgments on the entire 2000-year, transnational Catholic enterprise as expressions of deep hurt and anger, the film dwells on them and presents them as liberating "truth." I can only begin to understand why one would feel that way, but it's just not the bottom line and you'd have to be so blinded by your own sense of victimization to not see that.

As I watched the repetitive tirades towards the end of the film, I kept thinking that the blanket judgments are identical in form to total hatred of America by those who think that everything American is evil and corrupt and worthy of destruction. If America is literally nothing more than slavery, Jim Crow, Native American genocide, and economic imperialism, then the terrorists are right -- America is Satan and must be destroyed. If the Catholic Church is literally nothing more than pedophiles and spineless soulless bishops, then the documentary is right -- it's all a big scam. But you can't reduce the 2000 year-old Church to despicably evil clergy any more than you can reduce America to despicably evil slavemasters and racists. We don't even have to go to evil clergy -- the Catholic Church cannot be reduced to the clergy at all, including the good ones! True injustice can only take you so far, beyond which the victim has to reduce his identity/soul to nothing more than victim. Paul the victim even mentions being wary of this at first. Unfortunately by the end he totally succumbs to it and the film only wants to spread more of it around. This is my only criticism of the film.

Otherwise, it really confirms my detection system for spineless clergy. There's that telltale look in the eyes of a bishop or priest who has no soul, the look of one who simply doesn't get it. And I mean all of it -- Christ, Church, Catholicism, sin, human nature, love, redemption, justice, etc. They are disgusting. And I see that look way too often behind the Roman collar. Damn them to hell.

And the film demonstrates unwittingly how the "Spirit of Vatican II" had its destructive roots way before the council was conceived. The victim-hater of the Church said it himself that Fr. Birmingham was a "liberal" priest who took his priestly vocation all too lightly. The pervert priest clearly was never forced to undergo ascesis, that monastic discipline that forms a man into a priest of Christ's Holy Church. Disgusting.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Youtube Catholics

I don't know what it is about Youtube, but the devout Catholics who post there have a revolting taste for revolting evie pop music.

So are these charismatic Catholics? I'm all for reverence of the Most Blessed Sacrament but what's with the mosh pit act? Maybe it's the evie muzak. Get a grip and get on your friggin knees like real Catholics. Nice monstrance though.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Why I wish my college diploma was in Latin

See here.

So that's what kenosis feels like

The Ochlophobist on fatherhood and kenosis:
I tell you, when you walk into a room and see your wife asleep with your baby asleep on her chest, you will experience the fullest emptiness you will ever know.

More Catholic Indifferentism

Amy Welborn, in this post on the recent interview with Abp. Wuerl over the Pelosi I Cor. 11 Tour, puts her finger on the real issue:

If this woman, engaged in a public role, very publicly works against the teachings of the Church to which she professes a very public tie isn't publicly challenged by even one of the primary teachers of the Church - the bishops - the rest of us - lay Catholics, living and working in the world, every day facing decisions on how to be faithful disciples of Jesus in the midst of the complexities of our professions, some of us who really suffer because of the things they refuse to do because of their fidelity to Christ - we get a message.

And the message we get is that - it doesn't matter. Do whatever you want. Catholicism isn't about discipleship, about (among other things) living in the truth that every person God chooses to create - from conception to natural death - is our treasured brother or sister - I'm not sure what it's about, but it evidently isn't about that.

This indifferentism has been eating away at me for the last few years as a Catholic from a different angle -- the growing sense that what I believe doesn't even make much of a difference in my own life; that while right belief might make for right voting, it doesn't have much impact on right living.

At Mass yesterday, we were confronted with a priest (the pastor) who exuded indifferentism -- his liturgical style was 100% colloquial and banal -- his homily peppered with "Anyway.." and "such and such..." He might as well have threw in a few "whatever"s. He'd interrupt Mass with silly announcements and ad libs. The message is clear, whether he intended it or not -- none of this liturgy stuff really matters. I looked around at the faces and body postures and it was pretty obvious that though many were trying to resist the underlying message, it was getting through very loud and clear. Eventually the people will buy it and the people will wilt. And then so does the Faith. That sums up to me why Pentecostalism is winning.

Wuerl should know better than to think this is just about politics.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Achtung Aachen

Yes, a Catholic Church named, of all things, Corpus Christi. Maybe it was trying to replicate the feeling of being in a coffin as a participation in Christ's death???

Yes, and here we have ping-pong-paddle-head Jesus. One of those Gnostic gospels must have included something about Jesus getting flattened by a steamroller before the Romans crucified him.

Nobody expects the Donatist Inquisition!

The fuss over Polish "traditores" to the former Communist regime is certainly much ado about more than nothing, but before I get my boxers in a twist, I'm gonna wait for some historical perspective from an expert on the Donatist controversies of St. Augustine's era, from which the Catholic Church established the ex opere operato doctrine of sacramental validity and episcopal authority.

Whatever happens, I think it's critical that emphasis be placed on what exactly these "cooperating" bishops are guilty of. The Church no longer controls who sits on the throne of any nation. It has learned to be somewhat agnostic about forms of government. Communism had its evils; so does capitalistic democracy -- no permanent enemies; no permanent allies. The Church always seeks to be present whatever the type of government. Collaboration with the govt is not per se evil and is a matter of degree, even if the govt is more evil than others. It all depends on what exactly the "traditores" did. Not a whole lot of emphasis on this, as far as I've seen, and I think John Allen needs to calm down a bit before he uses rhetoric like "shocking disclosure."

Now the despised traditores of the historical Donatists did some pretty bad stuff that was directly relevant to the Faith. It's not so clear here in the Polish case what the substance of the evil was. So far, looks like low-level informant sort of political collaboration, according to Robert Miller on FT. Even if the information led to unlawful arrests, torture, and murder, the collaborating bishops may have been at most within varying degrees of material cooperation with evil.

We can also draw references from the Russian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, and the Eastern bloc nations in the Orthodox context. How did they deal with this problem? Don't know much about that, but the scandal scavengers need to slow down, especially the evies who are always welcoming of scandals that can reinforce their fantasy that Catholicism is just bunch of hooey.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Infantilization of Atheism

WSJ has a great piece that contrasts today's postmodern atheists with the Victorian atheists.
Anyone who has actually taught young people and listened to them knows that it is often the students who come from a trained sectarian background--Catholic, Orthodox Jewish, Muslim, Mormon--who are best at grasping different systems of belief and unbelief. Such students know, at least, what it feels like to have such a system, and can understand those who have very different ones. The new atheists remind me of other students from more "open-minded" homes--rigid, indifferent, puzzled by thought and incapable of sympathy.
I can personally vouch for that after teaching religion in an urban Jesuit high school for a couple of years. The Catholic majority had more in common with "open-minded" indifferentism Schulman alludes to, thanks again in large part to the "Spirit of Vatican II." It was the Muslim students who took to Catholic theology with far greater verve and seriousness than their confused and boneless Catholic counterparts. The constant apathetic skepticism of the nominally-raised Catholic boys was truly depressing to behold.

Pope St. Gregory the Iconodule

The Lion and the Cardinal has posted an eloquent missive from Pope Gregory to Emperor Leo from the iconoclasm controversies of the 8th century. Here, Gregory just as aptly addresses the Vatican II Church:
But you have ordered the people to abstain from the pictures, and have attempted to satisfy them with idle sermons, trivialities, music of pipe and zither, rattles and toys, turning them from the giving of thanks to the hearing of idle tales. You shall have your part with them, and with those who invent useless fables and babble of their ignorance.
And here, Gregory displays a vivid Apostolic consciousness, holding himself partly responsible for the fidelity of politicians to the Gospel:
But we shall blush for shame, because you will have lost your soul by your disobedience, while the Popes that proceeded us have won over to God the Emperors of their life times. How ashamed we will be on that day, that the Emperor of our time is false and ignominious, instead of great and glorious. Now, therefore, we exhort you to do penance; be converted and turn to the truth; obey the truth as you found and received it. Honor and glorify our holy and glorious Fathers and Doctors who dispelled the blindness from our eyes and restored us to sight.
Would that our bishops blushed a little more over their Congressional flock...