Saturday, January 5, 2008
What took place was a rather one-sided escalation of surly contentiousness (on her part) and a respectful and gentle defense of the Church's teaching about the Incarnation, human fallibility and culture (on Bailie's part). Yours truly tried to make an observation, quoting Our Lord's parable of the Publican and Pharisee who went up to the Temple to pray, but was met with a (probably deserved) disdain for interfering with the mano-a-mano engagement the virago ... excuse me, the lady wanted to continue.
In my Jungian days, I would have labeled Bailie's interlocutor as one caught in an archetypal complex. But now, I see her simply one intent on a Gnostic and decidedly unbiblical, anti-Magisterial, and heretical interpretation of the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity ("Cosmic Christ" and other such tripe and piffle) into which some cradle Catholics seem prone to fall.
That Bailie maintained an agreeable and equitable availability with the lady was admirable. That he didn't buckle to her less than gracious diatribe but held the fort for the Magisterium of the Church was one small victory in the culture wars.
Thursday, January 3, 2008
And a concomitant post by Damien Thompson regarding a group that calls itself Muslims Against Sharia. We should be so lucky. Still ... remember what Jeremiah prophesied:
"For the sons of Judah have done evil in my sight, says the LORD; they have set their abominations in in the house which is called by my name, to defile it. And they have built the high place of Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind ... [7,30-31]
... conversion always means coming out of the crowd. When Peter heard the cock crow, it was curing him of that little crowd he gathered with around the charcoal fire at Jesus’ trial. When Paul is knocked down on the road to Damascus and he hears the word ‘persecution’, he is being pulled out of the crowd, of the mob.Contrition is the truest form of knowledge, a wise man once said. So may it be.
It is/was in both cases for them and is, I think, the revelation of the cross that brings us out of the crowd for absolutely obvious reasons, once you think about it, because the crowd is brought together and it generates its social camaraderie precisely in those events that are structurally indistinguishable from the crucifixion. The crowd produces the crucifixion. So it is in identifying with the victim of the crowd that one comes out of the crowd. So the cross is the thing that brings us out of the crowd in the Christian economy of things.
So the birth of subjectivity, real subjectivity, is conversion. And the cross reveals because it destroys all the illusions, eventually, that allow us to believe in the god of the sacrificers. And once those illusions are taken from us, it is possible then to see the living God, the God of truth, which in human culture is always the God of the victim.
I'm a Catholic. You got a problem with that? I'm a Christian too. You other guys got a problem with that?
My crowd has been calling themselves ''Catholic'' for 17 centuries. The adjective "Roman" added in the American context is a slur, sometimes unintentionally conveyed in the tone of the one using it. It hints that we are somehow foreign and perhaps subversive. It came into use when the ''publics'' started to recite the Nicene Creed and their leaders had to explain that the ''one, holy, catholic and apostolic church'' of the creed wasn't us.
We've been Christians since the beginning. The claim of the evangelicals to a monopoly on the term is little more than a century old. It excludes Mormons, secularists and Catholics. We don't like being excluded, and we might just begin to make trouble about it. We invented Christianity, guys, and your claim to sole rights is historical nonsense -- and bigotry, too.
These outbursts are intended as evidence that the rhetoric of the contretemps in Iowa is profoundly offensive to some of us. The United States is not and has never been a Protestant nation or a Christian nation, despite some of the claims made in the course of our history by Protestants ignorant of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
It is, perhaps, ironic that, at precisely the moment when a religiously grounded, existential threat to the civilization of the West (Islam) has manifested itself with real power, a new atheism, dripping with disdain for traditional religious conviction, has risen up in the form of broadsides by bestselling polemicists like Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris. Yet contrary to the claims of these new atheists and their call to the "maturity" of unbelief, a West that has lost the ability to think in terms of "God" and "Satan" and that has forgotten the drama contained in the idea of "redemption," is a West that will be at a loss to recognize what inspires and empowers those enemies of the West who showed their bloody hand on September 11, 2001. A West that does not take religious ideas seriously as a dynamic force in the world's unfolding history is a West that will have disarmed itself, conceptually and imaginatively in the midst of war.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
"I know I am a symbol of what the so-called jihadists, Taliban and al-Qa'ida, most fear," she (Bhutto) wrote in her autobiography, Daughter of the East. "I am a female political leader fighting to bring modernity, communication, education and technology to Pakistan."
Yes, fear is the right word. The fear of women, of women's freedom, and most of all, of women's sexuality, runs through Islamism. It is a large part of Islamist hatred of the West. "The issue of women is not marginal," writes the Dutch scholar Ian Buruma. "It lies at the heart of Islamic occidentalism (anti-Westernism)."
It is the "deep, ignored issue", writes Paul Berman, author of Terror and Liberalism. Why, I wonder, is it mainly men who are making these points? Read all of Bone’s article, Assassinated because she was a woman.
This anthropological fact about the primitive Sacred leaves many, like the journalist above, in a state of complete bewilderment. Why? For the simple reason that an understanding of cultural anthropology as explicated by René Girard thematizes human motives and behavior in ways that college professors who teach a rigidly, one might say fundamentalist, social science simply cannot grasp.
Girard plumbs a wisdom about human nature that goes far beyond the secularist version. Girard's "mimetic theory" substantiates and serves the Catholic Church's anthropological understanding of culture, knowing that sin is at one with the bloodthirsty nature of fallen human nature, demanding ever more victims in its satanic origins. That western feminists cannot grasp the significance of Benazir Bhutto's assassination -- any more than they are able to grasp the servile state of the role of women in Islam -- isn't surprising. What is is that Ms. Bone can ask why they can't.
As a rule, it should be noted that the ability to see and hear the cries of the victims of the primitive Sacred is directly proportionate to one's being affected by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the treasure vouchsafed in the Magisterium of the Catholic Church (and to lesser degrees the christianities downstream from It). The greater the influence by the Gospel, the greater one identifies with the Lamb Slain Since the Foundation of the World, Jesus. The lesser the influence, the more one is apt merely to have one's victims chosen for one by the mimetic forces swirling around and to continue the "eternal return" engendered by the primitive Sacred. The former is true freedom. The latter is the same old same old.
The choice, as they say, is yours.
Together, Gill and Trimpa decided to eschew national races in favor of state and local ones, which could be influenced in large batches and for much less money. Most antigay measures, they discovered, originate in state legislatures. Operating at that level gave them a chance to “punish the wicked,” as Gill puts it—to snuff out rising politicians who were building their careers on antigay policies, before they could achieve national influence. Their chief cautionary example of such a villain is Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who once compared homosexuality to “man on dog” sex (and was finally defeated last year, at a cost of more than $20 million). Santorum got his start working in the state legislature. As Gill and Trimpa looked at their evolving plan, it seemed realistic. “The strategic piece of the puzzle we’d been missing—consistent across almost every legislature we examined—is that it’s often just a handful of people, two or three, who introduce the most outrageous legislation and force the rest of their colleagues to vote on it,” Gill explained. “If you could reach these few people or neutralize them by flipping the chamber to leaders who would block bad legislation, you’d have a dramatic effect.”
[ ... ]
In the 2006 elections, on a level where a few thousand dollars can decide a close race, Gill’s universe of donors injected more than $3 million, providing in some cases more than 20 percent of a candidate’s or organization’s budget. On Election Day, fifty of the seventy targeted candidates were defeated, Danny Carroll among them; and out of the thirteen states where Gill and his allies invested, four—Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Washington—saw control of at least one legislative chamber switch to the Democratic Party. (In Massachusetts, Travis decided to retire rather than seek reelection.) The national climate, which was strongly anti-Republican, helped bring about this transformation. But Gill’s stealth campaign was both effective and precedent-setting. For the first time, in a broad and organized way, gays had taken the initiative in a sweeping multistate strategy and had mostly prevailed. Read all …