Saturday, June 27, 2009
I posted a longer essay on the Public Square blog, the front window of the First Things site. Marriage, I contend is not a “right,” but a condition, an “estate,” as the Book of Common Prayer says it is: a human mating pair attains the condition of marriage by entering a holy congregation as bridge and groom, uniting the reproductive activity of man and woman with the eschatological hope for eternal life of the faith community. We fight off death in two ways: by raising children, and by expectation of salvation. Marriage unites both of these into a single condition. It uniquely fulfills our human nature, our need for eternal life. Without holy matrimony the human race will die, as portions of it already are dying in countries whence faith has been banished.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
And a host of special interests - from Greens/climate changers to ACORN types - claim prestige and therefore power. None claim truth, however. The vortex doesn't allow for truth; only prestige and power.
But please believe me on this: I do not question their sincerity, just their shamelessness. Every merely human utopian project has ended ... badly.
If persons want to reclaim anthropological (who we are as persons imago dei), epistemological (a grasp of real truth and certitude), ontological (a knowledge of our source and being, God), and soteriological (the Way of eternal salvation) mooring while living in the time of such cultural meltdown, there is only one place to find it.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
In truth, C. S. Lewis grasped President I Won more inclusively in his stupendously prescient work That Hideous Strength. Think of Lord Feverstone but wayy out of his depth - a functional atheist/pragmatist who is an astute politician and practitioner of the ways of the world.
What he and his ilk - and, I might add, the regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran - do not factor in is a divine justice that is strictly and manifestly vouchsafed by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.
Men's hearts and minds are changed from within, not by the power and force of the state or the primitive sacred ("that hideous strength"). This the Christian faith knows. This is the truth that sets men free. This and this alone.
I would say, if I were given the occasion: Mr. President, "there are more things in Heaven and Earth [...] Than are dream't of in your (political) philosophy."
What do you get when you mix in solution equal parts hubris, Decisionism, Gnostic puer élan, and progressivist naïveté? Indeed.
Time for prayer, observance, thought, and action, Christian.
(This) is where the danger begins. The Persians invented chess. What opponent’s move would Ayatollah Khameini anticipate? Israel now has more leeway to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities than ever before, on the grounds that a regime that massacres peaceful demonstrators asking for their rights under law cannot be allowed to have nuclear weapons. Whether Israel plans to attack, I do not know, but that is the obvious move on the chessboard. Were Israel to strike successfully and set back nuclear weapons development by a number of years, it might humiliate the regime further, rather than rallying nationalist support.Read more of Dangerous When Cornered.
What countermoves might Iran offer against an Israeli air raid? Iran is not without resources: it has the rocketeers of Hizbollah and Hamas, terrorist sleeper cells throughout the world, and considerable covert action capability inside Iraq. The price Israel likely would pay for a raid against Iran would be terrorist attacks against Jews overseas, on the model of the 1994 bombing of the Buenos Aires Jewish center that killed 85 people and wounded hundreds. A warrant is outstanding from Argentine prosecutors for the arrest of Hashem Rafsanjani in that affair.
Iran might seek to pre-empt what it anticipates to be the next move from Israel by demonstrating its capacity to inflict injury on Israel or on Jewish targets elsewhere. That would require careful judgment, for a heavy-handed action could provide a pretext for even more serious action by the Israelis and others. The same sort of consideration applies to Iranian support for Pakistan Shi’ites, for Hizbollah in Lebanon, and other vehicles of Iran’s program of imperial expansion.
This is an exceptionally dangerous moment, and it is important for the peripheral vision of Western security agencies to keep in view Iran’s external interests and vulnerabilities. The demonstrations in Tehran are in a sense the least interesting thing to watch from the standpoint of intelligence evaluation, because their evolution is the most predictable.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
The overwhelming case against Mary would have discouraged most scholars from attempting to revise history's judgment. Not so Eamon Duffy. With his earlier book, The Stripping of the Altars, Duffy revealed the strength of grassroots loyalty to the Catholic church under Henry VIII, despite his iconoclasm, which saw altars profaned, monasteries plundered, even church music banned. With Fires of Faith, Duffy peels away the myths and partisan accounts that have distorted the image of Mary's reign.Keep reading Finding the good in Bloody Mary.
Instead of senseless cruelty and unpopular demagoguery, Duffy argues that Mary's five years were characterised by a brilliant campaign for hearts and minds; a systematic intimidation of errant Protestants; and far more public support, even for the most brutal incidents sanctioned by the regime, than historians have ever credited it with. Had Mary not died, barren and prematurely, England may well have returned to the fold.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
I think perhaps it does. What I see, on the one hand, is a huge public disappointment with the religious leaders who they believe - rightly or wrongly - abused the trust of the people, allowing an unfair, rigged election to occur. On the other hand, I see a plaintive effort to say to those religious leaders, "Play fair! Be the religious leaders we believed, we hoped you were and you can still be!"
C. S. Lewis posited for inspection his personal findings of versions of The Golden Rule in nearly all the writings of human civilization - Treat others they way you want to be treated. (Cf. The Abolition of Man)
In this way, it may be said, the Holy Spirit is not without witness in all the world, a blessed and holy seed of the Gospel that - sometimes - is only released in the fierce heat of a forest fire of tumult.
Now is such a time in Iran. Who could have foreseen it? Is President I Won right to assume a largely laissez fair attitude? Yes, I think so, bipartisan sniping and deconstruction aside. He sees what is happening; he is a politician. Grandstanding and waving the flag of democracy is cartoon-esque.
Let's see if the Holy Spirit will fan different flames than those of mere crowd contagion in Iran.
The pattern of media attention -- or lack of it -- has led some Vatican officials to privately lament what they see as a paradox of Pope Benedict's pontificate: the pope's primary focus and greatest talent is teaching, they say, but it's the kind of teaching that rarely breaks into the news cycle."You don't get soundbites from this pope, and that is a challenge to journalists. Another challenge is that he often speaks a language that presupposes faith," said one senior Vatican official.
One priest complained that controversies generated by such episodes as the rehabilitation of a Holocaust-denying bishop have detracted from the pope's newsmaking capability.
"They're not interested in him. I think part of the reason is that there is a prejudice there now," he said.
On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples:
"Let us cross to the other side."
Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was.
And other boats were with him.
A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat,
so that it was already filling up.
Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.
They woke him and said to him,
"Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?"
He woke up,
rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Quiet! Be still!"
The wind ceased and there was great calm.
Then he asked them, "Why are you terrified?
Do you not yet have faith?"
They were filled with great awe and said to one another,
"Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?"