Far worse than the threat from international terrorism is the aggressive process of secularisation that has gripped our country, and most of Europe, and which is becoming ever more frenzied. For example, I guess not many people are aware that it is against the law for state schools to teach the Christian faith as true. Teachers are allowed only to teach about religions. This is atheism by decree, for the only perspective from which one can teach about all religions is the secular perspective. So our children are not brought to a sense of holiness and awe, but are merely taught the meanings of religious terms as sociological descriptions. This deprivation of the spiritual is a form of child abuse.
[ ... ]
When it comes to the religious aspect of social issues, the devout Muslim reproaches the secularised for their valueless consumerism and reckless hedonism and urges us to accept Islamic values. What do we reply? “No, thank you. We've got our own values - and if you don't like them we'll fire a salvo of condoms at you.”
Over the past 40 years we have lived under a “liberalisation” that has abolished the idea of the holy and replaced the dignity and moral status of the person with a merely instrumental definition of that once noble term. How truly Nietzsche prophesied that, after the death of God, crass utilitarianism would result in “pig philosophy”. Read all …
Saturday, January 19, 2008
According to the Archdiocese of Vienna’s website, during a January 12 speech on the missionary life of the Church at the Pastoral Assembly of Austria, the cardinal underscored the need to recognize and proclaim the truth, since it is there that love is found. Likewise, he noted that missionary opportunities can be found in daily life, as the Holy Father mentioned during his visit to Austria.
At that time, Cardinal Schönborn recalled, the Holy Father stated that “where there is no truth, the human being cannot distinguish between good and evil.” He also explained that “truth properly understood is humble and is directed to the interior and does not seek external power.”
Cardinal Schönborn later noted that Benedict XVI stressed on his trip to Austria that possessing the truth revealed by God should not lead to pride or to scorn for other religions, but rather should “move us in response to what has been freely given us, so that we too give it to others.”
Christians should confidently and boldly approach others to spread to the faith, since otherwise “many opportunities for mission work are lost.” (Catholic News Agency) h/t: Real Clear Religion
Friday, January 18, 2008
Be sure to note well the two illustrative photos embedded in Dr. Shackleford's article.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
There is no website to my knowledge. The mailing address to which contributions may be sent is:
CENTER FOR CHRISTIANITY & CULTURAL SURVIVAL
P. O. BOX 11865
NAPLES, FL 34101-9901
The public inquisition of Steyn has triggered outrage among Canadians and Americans who value free speech, but it should not come as a surprise. Steyn's predicament is just the latest salvo in a campaign of legal actions designed to punish and silence the voices of anyone who speaks out against Islamism, Islamic terrorism, or its sources of financing.
The Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC), which initiated the complaint against Steyn, has previously tried unsuccessfully to sue publications it disagrees with, including Canada's National Post. The not-for-profit organization's president, Mohamed Elmasry, once labeled every adult Jew in Israel a legitimate target for terrorists and is in the habit of accusing his opponents of anti-Islamism -- a charge that is now apparently an actionable claim in Canada. In 2006, after Elmasry publicly accused a spokesman for the Muslim Canadian Congress of being anti-Islamic, the spokesman reportedly resigned amidst fears for his personal safety.
The Islamist movement has two wings -- one violent and one lawful -- which operate apart but often reinforce each other. While the violent arm attempts to silence speech by burning cars when cartoons of Mohammed are published, the lawful arm is maneuvering within Western legal systems.
Islamists with financial means have launched a legal jihad, manipulating democratic court systems to suppress freedom of expression, abolish public discourse critical of Islam, and establish principles of Sharia law. The practice, called "lawfare," is often predatory, filed without a serious expectation of winning and undertaken as a means to intimidate and bankrupt defendants.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Are Presbyterians rioting in Memphis over it? Methodists throwing stones in the streets of Nashville? Lutherans overturning and setting ablaze cars in St. Paul?
What does your intuition tell you would happen were a western nation to do turn about fair play regarding the Prophet -- make a movie of his life? Even a retelling of his life as accepted by all of his religionists downstream to this moment? Would it be accepted as a token of appreciation and admiration? Yeah, right.
Take for instance the recent words from Sheikh Ahmed Badreddin, better read as veiled threats: "A simple piece of information can spark a war. If a man dies because of information that you have made public, his death will be on your conscience."
As noted in the article, his words mean 'that he is telling Europeans that if they dare to publish certain things (described vaguely, and with the intent to obfuscate, as "information that you have made public"), and this maddens Muslims, and causes them to commit acts of violence, and someone dies -- an Infidel, or possibly a Muslim in a riotous mob -- then the "death will be on your conscience" -- that is, it will be the fault of the Infidels for having dared to "make public" certain "information." '
Here is proof positive regarding two points: (1) so far Christians still know how to turn the other cheek; and (2) Islam is and always has been in mimetic doubling rivalry with the biblical faiths. How they'd love for Christians to get their shorts in a bunch over their film on the Islamic Jesus -- they just don't understand we're ignoring the ignorant.
Now, more information has become available and, in the words of a friend, "No one could make this stuff up!"
Islam watchers blogged all weekend about news that a secret archive of ancient Islamic texts had surfaced after 60 years of suppression. Andrew Higgins' Wall Street Journal report that the photographic record of Koranic manuscripts, supposedly destroyed during World War II but occulted by a scholar of alleged Nazi sympathies, reads like a conflation of the Da Vinci Code with Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail.
The Da Vinci Code offered a silly fantasy in which Opus Dei, homicidal monks and twisted billionaires chased after proof that Christianity is a hoax. But the story of the photographic archive of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences, now ensconced in a Berlin vault, is a case of life imitating truly dreadful art. It even has Nazis. "I hate those guys!" as Indiana Jones said.
No one is going to produce proof that Jesus Christ did not rise from the grave three days after the Crucifixion, of course. Humankind will choose to believe or not that God revealed Himself in this fashion. But Islam stands at risk of a Da Vinci Code effect, for in Islam, God's self-revelation took the form not of the Exodus, nor the revelation at Mount Sinai, nor the Resurrection, but rather a book, namely the Koran. The Encyclopaedia of Islam (1982) observes, "The closest analogue in Christian belief to the role of the Koran in Muslim belief is not the Bible, but Christ." The Koran alone is the revelatory event in Islam.
What if scholars can prove beyond reasonable doubt that the Koran was not dictated by the Archangel Gabriel to the Prophet Mohammad during the 7th century, but rather was redacted by later writers drawing on a variety of extant Christian and Jewish sources? Read more ….
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Today, Father Michael Seed seems to be filling those shoes.
Father Michael Seed may be, according to his great friend Ann Widdecombe, whom he received into the Catholic Church, "the missionary to celebrities", but his office is a modest, untidy, basement broom-cupboard.
And an overheated one at that, caused, he explains as he shows me in, by the hot water pipes that pass across the low ceiling en route to warm up his boss, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, who presides above stairs in Archbishop's House, a huge, dark pile in Victoria that is about as welcoming as a faded railway hotel in a period of national mourning.
There is, in this subterranean den, just about space for two chairs. They are tucked between the mini organ that, Father Seed reveals, someone has dumped in here, and the desk, which has a telephone lead going into a closed drawer. "It's the only way to get any peace," he says, sitting down in one of the chairs.
Father Seed is a boyish 50-year-old priest with tousled hair, permanently red cheeks, a genial manner and a reputation for making converts to Catholicism. As well as the formidable Miss Widdecombe, his name has been linked (sometimes erroneously, but we'll come to that) with the reception into his Church of John Gummer, the Duchess of Kent, Alan Clark and – most recently – Tony Blair. Read all ...
A West that sees in its past nothing but pathology -- racism, colonialism, religious wars and persecutions, sexism, and all the rest -- is a West that cannot and almost certainly will not, defend its present. A West that can't remember its past accurately will not be able to project itself imaginatively into the future. A West that has airbrushed from its collective memory the contributions of biblical religion to its present freedoms is a West that is in a poor position to meet the challenge of a religiously shaped alternative reading of the past, present, and future.
As British philosopher Roger Scruton writes, the West must be able and willing to demonstrate to the rest of the world, and to Muslims who believe that "western success and prosperity [are] ... the products of a purely secular, even atheistic creed," that the greatest achievements of the West are not material but are, rather, "works of spiritual grace and high culture that transmit eternal meanings."
Saying no to moral insouciance, then, means saying no as well to historical amnesia, and no to a crudely secular reading of the roots of the freedom project that is not under assault, and that we must defend.
Every man examines himself, every man examines his neighbours, to see whether they or he quite come up to the exact line of greatness. They answer is, naturally, "No" ...we are always praying that our eyes may behold greatness, instead of praying that our hearts may be filled with it ...
We are connoisseurs of greatness, and connoisseurs can never be great; we are fastidious, that is, we are small. When Diogenes went about with a lantern looking for an honest man, I am afraid he had very little time to be honest himself ... The error of Diogenes lay in the fact that he omitted to notice that every man is both an honest man and a dishonest man. Diogenes looked for his honest man inside every crypt and cavern; but he never thought of looking inside the thief. And there is where the Founder of Christianity found the honest man; He found him on a gibbet and promised him Paradise. Just as Christianity looked for the honest man inside the thief, democracy looked for the wise man inside the fool. It encouraged the fool to be wise. We can call this thing sometimes optimism, sometimes equality; the nearest name for it is encouragement. It had its exaggerations -- failure to understand original sin, notions that education would make all men good, the childlike yet pedantic philosophies of human perfectibility. But the whole was full of a in the infinity of human souls, which is in itself not only Christian but orthodox; and this we have lost amid the limitations of a pessimistic science.
Monday, January 14, 2008
A 32-foot-long, brightly colored mobile home dodged in and out of traffic and made its way down the narrow streets of New York. It's a sight you don't see every day.
But this isn't just any old RV. This one has a portable ultrasound unit onboard - and its mission is to save unborn babies. Read all ...
Sunday, January 13, 2008
The seemingly fatal disconnect seems to run down a tectonic fault line between what the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls "the integrity of the powers of life and love" (No. 2338):
This integrity ensures the unity of the person; it is opposed to any behavior that would impair it. It tolerates neither a double life nor duplicity in speech.
The beneficiary of this withering of the fruitfulness of the human family in the West is Islam. Whatever one may think of its theology, intolerance, or gender inequality, Muslims have not forgotten the vital necessity of not letting go of the hand of the past generation nor the need to procreate another.
What has caused this malaise in the West, in my opinion, is the following: we have allowed the basest, most ignorant, and coarsest sources of false ontology and epistemology to define the terms of discourse, value, and commerce. We have heeded so many clammering and shrill voices unworthy of our hearing -- hawkers, hucksters, blowhards, and mandarins (if the spate of presidential candidate "debates" come to mind, so be it).
The result is a poor trade: instead of epistemological and ontological certitude we have opinions and attitudes; instead of lives grounded in lifelong, committed marriage and family, we have indecisive paralysis passing for "freedom" and pan-sexual debasement passing for "fulfillment": a waste at the individual level and a tragedy at the cultural. It is only a short step to matter-hating latter-day Gnosticism, if a step at all.
The prodigal son found that the shortest path out of the pig-sty and back to redemption was coming to himself and trudging back toward his father's farm [Lk 15,11-32]. If the West wants to pull itself up and out of the mud wallowing of sexual and psychological promiscuity, it must do the same thing. It is the only way out and away from demographic winter and total collapse of all that is still worth redeeming of western civilization.
On the night of April 24, 1944, British air force bombers hammered a former Jesuit college here housing the Bavarian Academy of Science. The 16th-century building crumpled in the inferno. Among the treasures lost, later lamented Anton Spitaler, an Arabic scholar at the academy, was a unique photo archive of ancient manuscripts of the Quran.
The 450 rolls of film had been assembled before the war for a bold venture: a study of the evolution of the Quran, the text Muslims view as the verbatim transcript of God's word. The wartime destruction made the project "outright impossible," Mr. Spitaler wrote in the 1970s.
Mr. Spitaler was lying. The cache of photos survived, and he was sitting on it all along. The truth is only now dribbling out to scholars -- and a Quran research project buried for more than 60 years has risen from the grave.
[ ... ]
Mr. Puin says the manuscripts suggested to him that the Quran "didn't just fall from heaven" but "has a history." When he said so publicly a decade ago, it stirred rage. "Please ensure that these scholars are not given further access to the documents," read one letter to the Yemen Times. "Allah, help us against our enemies."
Berlin Quran expert Ms. Neuwirth, though widely regarded as respectful of Islamic tradition, got sideswiped by Arab suspicion of Western scholars. She was fired from a teaching post in Jordan, she says, for mentioning a radical revisionist scholar during a lecture in Germany.
Around 1990, Ms. Neuwirth met Mr. Spitaler, her old professor, in Berlin. He was in his 80s and growing frail, but remained sharp mentally. He "got sentimental about the old times," recalls Ms. Neuwirth. As they talked, he casually mentioned that he still had the photo archive. He offered to give it to her. "I had heard it didn't exist," she says. She later sent two of her students to Munich to collect the photo cache and bring it to Berlin.
The news didn't spread beyond a small circle of scholars. When Mr. Spitaler died in 2003, Paul Kunitizsch, a fellow Munich Arabist, wrote an obituary recounting how the archive had been lost, torpedoing the Quran project. Such a venture, he wrote, "now appears totally out of the question" because of "the attitude of the Islamic world to such a project." [h/t: IBA]
The St. Ann Choir is directed by Stanford University music professor, William Mahrt, who for 44 years has directed this schola of male and female singers. Mahrt is also considered by some to be one of the nation’s foremost experts on Gregorian Chant, said the Chronicle, and has a chant library that rivals, or even surpasses, Stanford’s.
The professor is worried about the survival of Gregorian Chant. Pope Benedict XVI may have ordered the Vatican choir to return to the chant, but there are few Gregorian Chant choirs in the United States. Beginning in the late 1960s, the chant was muscled out of Catholic churches by bands playing popular music-style songs, which, Mahrt said, he “wouldn’t cross the street” to hear. Mahrt said priests who love the chant have told him it is not accessible to modern worshippers.
But to Mahrt, 68, Gregorian Chant is accessible, if it is properly presented. "When you sing it beautifully and when it really works, there's an absolute still in the church,” he told the Chronicle. “That's the kind of silence that's fruitful and it represents a kind of self-awareness that is also aware of the wider realities, and that kind of silence is where you have your best opportunity to speak to God and to listen to God." Read all …