Saturday, July 26, 2008

Lay Not Violence At God's Feet

While it is true that the Holy Spirit blows where it will, freeing persons from slavery to the primitive sacred insofar as one renounces our human addiction to the victimary mechanism, it is of utmost importance to realize the categorical uniqueness of the biblical revelation. As René Girard has said,
Revelation is the reproduction of the victimary mechanism by showing the truth, knowing that the victim is innocent and that everything is based on mimetism ... The more we understand the truth of this description, the more we understand that it discredits not only those who crucified Jesus, but all the myth-makers in the history of humanity ... The mimetic theory rectifies the figural and shows what is most essential: the violence which is not divine but human. (My emphasis).
What this clearly means is that part of the workings of the Holy Spirit, perhaps the most essential part of all, is our realization that God is never the one demanding violence, bloodshed, and/or killing of our fellow human beings. Never.

Ultimately, this is the message of both the Old Testament and the New Testament. We will know that a corner has been turned when we can come to agree as humans of all ethnic backgrounds and religions that it is not the divine which is asking us to show fealty and faithfulness by doing violence to other humans.

Truth About Suffering - Merton

...the truth that many people never understand, until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid suffering, the more you suffer, because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you, in proportion to your fear of being hurt. The one who does most to avoid suffering is, in the end, the one who suffers most: and his suffering comes to him from things so little and so trivial that one can say that it is no longer objective at all. It is his own existence, his own being, that is at once the subject and the source of his pain, and his very existence and consciousness is his greatest torture. This is another of the great perversions by which the devil uses our philosophies to turn our whole nature inside out, and eviscerate all our capacities for good, turning them against ourselves (my emphasis).

- Thomas Merton, Seven Storey Mountain

Blows Where It Wills

NOTE TO READERS: One may or may not have noted the change in the header of Chronicles. It used to read: Truth, Goodness, Beauty - Some Things Are Worth Fighting For.

I have observed both in myself and others that a pugilistic spirit lends itself more easily to falling into mimetic rivalry and the problem of the doubles; that is, if one sees another with his "dukes" up, one is more likely to "put 'um up" too.

Therefore, in the hope of being extricated from that fallen state of non-being, I have changed the header (above) and the general tone of Chronicles of Atlantis to:
Truth, Goodness, and Beauty - Gold is Where You Find It. It is easy to curse the darkness. It is more difficult to light a candle, but far more profitable (Mtt 5,15ff).

Not everything I post will always be uplifting or even lend itself to hopefulness. But I promise to look for signs that the Spirit of Jesus Christ is active in current events and in the lives of men and women in our world today, regardless of ethnic or religious background. While I remain ever one with the Body of Christ begun by Our Lord and founded on the first pope, Saint Peter, it would be foolish to think the Holy Spirit is without witness in persons who are not Catholic.

I have personally experienced great charity from persons made imago dei who are Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, Evangelical, and Catholic. Gold is where you find it: keep your heart and eyes and hope open and alive.

Memorial of Sts. Joachim and Anne, parents of Mary

Girlhood of Mary Virgin (1848-49) - Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Collect: God of our fathers, you gave Saints Joachim and Ann the privilege of being the parents of Mary, the mother of your incarnate Son. May their prayers help us to attain the salvation you have promised to your people. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Anne: against poverty; barren; broommakers; cabinetmakers; carpenters; childless couples; equestrians; grandmothers; grandparents; homemakers; housewives; lace makers; lace workers; lost articles; miners; mothers; old-clothes dealers; pregnancy; pregnant women; horse riders; seamstresses; stablemen; sterility; turners; women in labour; Brittany; Canada; France; Quebec; archdiocese of Detroit, Michigan; diocese of Norwich, Connecticut; Santa Ana Indian Pueblo; Taos, New Mexico.

Joachim: fathers, grandfathers, grandparents.

Anne: Book, symbol of her careful instruction of Mary; flowering rod; crown; nest of young birds; door; Golden Gate of Jerusalem; book; infant Virgin in crib; Shield has silver border masoned in black, with silver lily on a blue field referring to the girlhood of the Virgin.
Often Portrayed As: Woman holding Mary or Jesus in her arms or lap; Woman at her betrothal to Joachim; Mother teaching Mary to read the Bible; Woman greeting Saint Joachim at Golden Gate; Woman with a book in her hand.

Joachim: Basket containing doves; model of Golden Gate of Jerusalem.
Often Portrayed As: Man bringing a lamb to the altar and being turned away by the priest; greeting and/or kissing Saint Anne at the Golden Gate; elderly man carrying a basket of doves and a staff; elderly man with the child Mary.

Humanae Vitae - Love and Life

VATICAN CITY, JULY 25, 2008 ( It's been 40 years, and the critics of "Humanae Vitae" still don't get that it's about love, says a Vatican spokesman.

Jesuit Father Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, said this today in response to a half-page ad appearing in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, which voices disagreement with the Church's stance on artificial contraception.

The ad is in the form of an open letter, signed by more than 50 groups, that asks Benedict XVI to lift the Church's ban on artificial contraception, which they say has had "catastrophic effects," particularly in the fight against AIDS.

Catholics for Choice, a Washington-based pro-choice group, spearheaded the initiative, published on the 40th anniversary of the 1968 encyclical "Humanae Vitae."

Father Lombardi denounced the ad explaining that it was "nothing new," and that the 50 signatories are groups that have for years "found themselves at odds with the magisterium of the Church."

The spokesman said the major error of the letter is that it misses the point of "Humanae Vitae," that is to say, "the link between the human and spiritual relationship between spouses."

"In the entire letter, the word 'love' doesn't appear," he added. "It seems as if this doesn't interest the signatories at all. For them, it seems that the hope of couples and the world is only in contraceptives. Read all.
To this, one can only add what Gil Bailie says about criticism of the Church's Magisterium and the idolatry of desire: "All projects of liberation in our world that start from the presumption that we cannot question desire, that desire is the ticket to our libertion, end up by offering us victims and an ideology that justifies that victimization."

Friday, July 25, 2008

New Age & Mass-murder

The Times Online intuits what mimetic theory and other researchers have known for quite some time: New Age ideas and mass murder go hand in hand.

40th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae

.- Today marks the 40th anniversary of the often debated papal encyclical Humanae Vitae, in which Pope Paul VI reaffirmed the Church’s teaching against contraception. Looking back at the events as he experienced them, Cardinal James Francis Stafford writes that the reaction by dissenters to the papal document involved a level of infidelity which divided the ranks of the clergy to such an extent that they have still not recovered.

[ ... ]

“Lead us not into temptation” is the sixth petition of the Our Father. Πειρασμòσ (Peirasmòs), the Greek word used in this passage for ‘temptation’, means a trial or test. Disciples petition God to be protected against the supreme test of ungodly powers. The trial is related to Jesus’s cup in Gethsemane, the same cup which his disciples would also taste (Mk 10: 35-45). The dark side of the interior of the cup is an abyss. It reveals the awful consequences of God’s judgment upon sinful humanity. In August, 1968, the weight of the evangelical Πειρασμòσ fell on many priests, including myself,” the cardinal began.

“The summer of 1968 is a record of God’s hottest hour. The memories are not forgotten; they are painful. They remain vivid like a tornado in the plains of Colorado. They inhabit the whirlwind where God’s wrath dwells. In 1968 something terrible happened in the Church. Within the ministerial priesthood ruptures developed everywhere among friends which never healed. And the wounds continue to affect the whole Church. The dissent, together with the leaders’ manipulation of the anger they fomented, became a supreme test. It changed fundamental relationships within the Church. It was a Πειρασμòσ for many” ...

Read all of Priests still suffering from effects of Humanae Vitae dissenters.

UPDATE: In light of brother Aramis's comment, here is another sad reality facing those called to the priesthood: Media (is) crucifying priests. A reason why we need to protect our Catholic priests who bring us God's grace through the Sacraments, who are faithful to the Magisterium of the Church, who safeguard the epistemology, ontology, and anthropology of the deposit of faith.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Blessed Sacrament - Merton

Madonna with the Host - Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingre (1780-1867)
I TELL YOU, YOU who are now what I once was, unbelievers, it is that Sacrament, and that alone, the Christ living in our midst, and sacrificed by us, and for us and with us, in the clean and perpetual Sacrifice, it is He alone Who holds our world together, and keeps us all from being poured headlong and immediately into the pit of our eternal destruction. And I tell you there is a power that goes forth from that Sacrament, a power of light and truth, even into the hearts of those who have heard nothing of Him and seem to be incapable of belief.
- Thomas Merton, Seven Storey Mountain

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dark Knight - Cathartic Eye Candy

Apparently I am a sole critic of the newest box-office hit, Batman – The Dark Knight. Themes of justice and mercy are paraded; Batman as "Christ figure" lauded; Joker as satan, pure evil, etc.

But I came away witnessing a great undifferentiation between spectacle and audience; a cathartic denouement that I associate with crowd participation in the rituals of the primitive sacred. This crossing over a line between "entertainment" and sacrificial event, it might be argued, can even be seen structurally in the actual death of the actor who played The Joker, Heath Ledger, shortly after the filming, and the events just prior to the film's London debut that entailed the lead himself, Christian Bale, allegedly attacking his own mother and sister.

The first Batman gave reflective moments. This Batman film is sheer adrenaline, sugar high, gut wrenching manipulation of the senses and emotions from scene one. If anyone needs a rush of false transcendence and mimetic eye candy, go see Batman - The Dark Knight.

If anyone wants to know who are the "priests" of this cinematic form of false transcendence, they are the screenwriters.

UPDATE: The New York Times' estimable A. O. Scott chimes in with his usual smarmy comment, making his approach from the usual postmodern, liberal, "why the heck do the masses want to shell out cash for this tripe?" He misses the apocalyptic ramifications altogether.

Mortals We Are

A geriatrician recently spoke ballroom at a sea of middle-aged faces: health policymakers, legislative staff, advocates for the aged and for family caregivers — an audience of experts.
Charts on how people die(Joanne Lynn/Rand Corp.)

“How many of you expect to die?” she asked.

The audience fell silent, laughed nervously and only then, looking one to the other, slowly raised their hands ... [h/t: The Business of Life]

Benedict XVI - A Real Leader

As we know, politics is seven eighths perception, one eighth reality. Like the now-famous "Obama Rally" - yeah, right - that was actually preceded by a rock concert. Never mind that the pictures made it appear the hungering pack was there lapping up his ontological substantiality. My personal definition of a successful politician coaligns with mimetic theory: he sees what direction the mob is headed and jumps out in front of it.

Matthew Archbold at Creative Minority Report breathes some fresh air into the rancid political atmosphere with this insight: He’s So Out of Touch!

UPDATE: Andrea Mitchell reports that the Obama campaign machine during his Middle East tour provided only ”fake interviews.”

The Truth IS Out There

A good piece on The X-files at Taki's by Tom Piatak, The Truth About “The X-Files”

Monday, July 21, 2008

Jurassic Packs

When soft tissue fragments from a Tyrannosaurus rex femur were found, it staggered the conventional understanding of scientists. If science can study blood vessels and DNA from a dinosaur that died 68 million - 68 million - years ago, can other materials be found and analyzed that has been considered lost and inaccessible?

This is obviously rhetorical question on my part. In Evolution and Conversion, René Girard writes,
...rituals are a little bit like cultural fossils, and my main evidence is ritualistic violence, even more than myths. The issue, again, is filling the gaps, and finding the overall narrative, a theory - like the mimetic theory or Darwinism - in which the single pieces of evidence, fossil or ritual, would fall in the right place, providing a compelling explanation of the phenomenon at stake. [168]
But like the dinosaur soft tissue find, most moderns do not realize that the primitive sacred, far from being extinct and fossilized in ritual, myth, and prohibitions that we can cast away like an old bone, it is still quite soft, fleshy, and extant. Again, Girard:
...the main elements that I always find in myths are: (1) a crisis of undifferentiation (which corresponds the orgiastic elements in rituals); (2) a victimary sign that singles out a villain; (3) an expulsion/killing of this villain (which is also represented as a hero because he/she eventually saves the community). [162]
One might do well to remember that during this presidential campaign season.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

How Much Greater God's Love

"What father among you would hand his son a snake
when he asks for a fish?

Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?
If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the holy Spirit
to those who ask him?"

- Jesus in St. Luke's Gospel 11,11b-13

Dire Questions - Dangerous Days

Scott Dinsmore over at In the Meantime asks in extreme understatement, is this Exploitation of Polite Society?
David Bernstein at Volokh Conspiracy asks whether the Israeli prohibition against the death penalty for terrorists isn’t foolish. He details the strategy of Hezbullah to abduct Israeli soldiers for the express purpose of initiating such a trade. Is this recent trade of an iconic terrorist (convicted of killing a father and beat to death his 4 year old) and four others for the remains of 2 dead Israeli solidiers another example of the strategic exploitation of liberal society in order to destroy it? I wish to think that liberal values are too precious to lose in the fight against one’s enemies. I’m not sure right now.
What I hear Scott asking is this, Is the relinquishing of the hard-fought value of radical non-retaliation against one's enemies - which is at the heart of the movement of the Judaeo-Christian ethos - something we must reconsider in light of enemies who do not share this moral apprehension?

To have such moral apprehension and inhibition, one must be exposed to the revelation of the biblical faiths. Followers of the Scimitar have no such influence, or only a poor one, insofar as their prophet put together their holy book piecemeal from the Scriptures of the Jewish and Christian faiths.

René Girard has explained via his mimetic theory the reasons that a Rival in a Model/Rival doubling problem will both hate and be fascinated with their Model. We can also know that a religion without the benefit of the influence of the biblical spirit will function on an entirely different O/S; namely, the primitive sacred replete with need for human sacrifice.

But what it does not help us understand is how to find the answer to we how deal with enemies who will use any means to destroy their Rival double - Israel, Judaism, the Christian West, the Catholic Church - and don't mind destroying themselves in the process.

The Catholic Church uses the reasoning of Saint Thomas Aquinas in sanctioning legitimate defense. I would offer it to any who are interested in answering the dire and difficult problems posed by terrorists today.

Benedict XVI Nixes "Proportionalism"

In the hope and determination that a sex abuse crisis never again bring scandal and dishonor to the Church, John Allen reports, Benedict XVI examined factors that led to it in the first place.

Echoing points he made in the United States, the pope told reporters that it's "essential for the church to reconcile [with victims], to prevent, to help, and also to see guilt in these problems." In a little-noticed coda, however, Benedict went a step further than he did in America, identifying a potential culprit underlying the crisis: a moral theory known as "proportionalism."

Here's what the pope said, in English, according to the official Vatican transcript of his remarks:

"We have to reflect on what was insufficient in our education, in our teaching in recent decades. There was, in the '50s, '60s and '70s, the idea of proportionalism in ethics: It held that nothing is bad in itself, but only in proportion to others. With proportionalism, it was possible to think for some subjects -- one could also be pedophilia -- that in some proportion they could be a good thing. Now, it must be stated clearly, this was never Catholic doctrine. There are things which are always bad, and pedophilia is always bad. In our education, in the seminaries, in our permanent formation of the priests, we have to help priests to really be close to Christ, to learn from Christ, and so to be helpers, and not adversaries of our fellow human beings, of our Christians." (My emphases)

Read all of Searching for the hows, whys of sex abuse