Saturday, July 19, 2008

Parrish - Look Up

Stars (1926) - Maxfield Parrish

More than just another of Parrish's "girl on a rock" paintings, Stars represents for me both the true vulnerability of being human and our need for transcendence.

After the horrendous slaughter of Pentheus in Euripedes' THE BACCHAE, old Cadmus tells his daughter Agauë to "turn your eyes this way - look at the sky" to clear her mind of the madness of Dionysus.

Where do we go, to whom do we turn, to "look up," clear our minds of the madness of the tumult around and within us?

The first Vicar of Christ, Saint Peter, said it long ago: "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God" [Jn 6,68-69].

We do not have to re-invent the wheel, begin at square one in each new generation - a comforting thought since ours is a generation so at-odds with ontological Being that it seems to despise the thought of begetting another.

Christ began the Church moving through history these 2,000 years plus. Its patrimony, truth, goodness, beauty, and grace are there for all to imbibe and partake.

Who are you going to trust for true transcendence?

'Stealing Churches' in England

Damien Thompson reports that the Church of England's leading traditionalist bishop is accusing liberals of planning to 'steal churches.' The Bishop of Fulham said,
"The other thing that strikes me quite hard is that most of the assets of the Church of England in terms of buildings, schools and other property either come from the pre-Reformation Catholic Church or as a direct result of the Tractarian and Catholic Revival. This property is very much our heritage and inheritance and to suggest that many wish to steal it from us in a very unpleasant form of legalised theft would not be an understatement. I know that many people will be looking at the legal implications lying behind both these matters."
What the good bishop seems not to understand is that many British have a decidedly nebulous understanding of church history in England, while exceedingly astute in other realms of study and professionalism. All this "pre-Reformation Catholic Church" business sounds to them like a ruse or con game of some sort, sadly, so deeply has suspicion of Mother Church been engrained by pro-Reformation "historians". For example, one whom I admire in his efforts to fight the Lisbon Treasy astonishingly equated the ramming through of the EU treaty ratification with the Catholic Church trying to keep England in her fold as the Dowry of Mary in the 13th century!

The disestablishment of the monasteries and the martyrdom of Saint Thomas More led to one of the worst conflagrations and manifestations of the primitive Sacred in the West. It also begat what is today the neo-pagan revival in the beautiful isle that is England.

If the traditionalist Anglicans do in actuality become one-with Mother Church once more, it would only be decent for the dying Church of England to allow them their erstwhile beauteous places of worship.

The alternative, otherwise, would be to watch them become restaurants or mosques. And one might ask oneself: Will there be little British (or American) flags in Heaven? Probably not.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Scattered and Lost

Joseph Bottum at First Things analyzes the decline and demise of of American Protestant denominations:
Are non-Catholic groups doing any better elsewhere in the world? Pentecostalism is growing, yes. But how orthodox is its beliefs and doctrines?

Can Some Phobias Be Healthy

Michelle Malkin writing in the New York Post says, WHY 'KUMBAYA' CAN'T FIGHT TERROR.

Is the tipping point approaching when it will be realized that a Scimitar-phobia is a healthy thing to feel?

UPDATE: The Iconoclast weighs in.

BXVI - Wounds Social & Environmental

SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 17, 2008 ( Just as there are environmental wounds in nature, there are also wounds in society that threaten the purpose for which humanity was created, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope said this today at the World Youth Day welcoming celebration at Barangaroo in Sydney on Thursday afternoon local time. The youth day celebrations will culminate Sunday with a closing Mass at Randwick Racecourse.

The Holy Father began with a reflection of the natural beauty of Australia, which "evokes a profound sense of awe."

"It is as though one catches glimpses of the Genesis creation story -- light and darkness, the sun and the moon, the waters, the earth, and living creatures," he added, "all of which are 'good' in God’s eyes."

"At the heart of the marvel of creation," the Pontiff affirmed, "are you and I, the human family 'crowned with glory and honor.'"

The Pontiff said that just as there are "scars" that mark the earth -- "erosion, deforestation, the squandering of the world’s mineral and ocean resources in order to fuel an insatiable consumption" -- there are also "wounds indicating that something is amiss" in our social environment.

"Here too, in our personal lives and in our communities, we can encounter a hostility, something dangerous; a poison which threatens to corrode what is good, reshape who we are, and distort the purpose for which we have been created," he said.

Benedict XVI gave as examples alcohol and drug abuse, violence, and sexual degradation, which are "often presented through television and the Internet as entertainment."
Read all …

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Obama & the Art of Persuasion

Joseph Knippenberg at First Things observes, Obama isn’t moving toward the center. He’s trying to move the center toward himself. He has a gift. After all, Obama Raised $52 Million in June...

Nevermind that he has this amount of experience as a 1st-term Senator: 143 days -- I keep leftovers in my refrigerator longer than that.

A Reminder - Corpus Christianum

Remember too that the Catholic Church under the leadership of the Vicar of Christ made western civilization that we lovingly call Christendom (England, too, bedad, long before King John did anything in 1213 or any other year for that matter).

Christian Faith Illegal at UN?

The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) wants to criminalize Christianity at the U.N.? It is comprised of 57 Muslim member nations. Maybe they didn't like the Holy Father's address...

Serving Christ Our Light

And now, from the ridiculous to the sublime, Dawn Eden interviews Maronite Sister Marla Marie Lucas, who has founded the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light.

I had the joy and privilege of meeting Sr. Marla Marie at Lady Dawn's apartment blessing several months ago. We chatted either side of the dip on Dawn's kitchen table as strange hands passed tortilla chips to and fro between us.

Read all of Dawn's interview with Sr. Marla Marie: Serving Christ Our Light.

Hubris & the French President

M. Sarkozy calls for second Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treat - a "Lazarus, come forth" effort to resurrection the dead. Gee, what a surprise.

Neighborhood Bully

Leslie Sacks at Family Security Matters writes,
The rich get richer, the poor get poorer. That selective claim now underpins world politics. It seems that since the war of 1967, with its stunning victory against all odds, Israel finally lost its "underdog" identity...

Everything becomes upside-down in this Alice of Wonderland. Five million Israelis on 1% of the land in the Middle East with no oil and natural minerals are holding hostage to 300 million Arabs with 75% of the world's oil reserves and an unbreakable majority in the UN councils.

These Jews must be very powerful, very sinister ...
Read all of The World’s Most Successful Con Game.

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

Discalced Carmelite Father Kieran Kavanaugh gives a fine account of the history of the Carmelite Order, the appearance of Our Lady to Saint Simon Stock, the brown scapular, and sacramentals in general in Brown Scapular: a "Silent Devotion."

UPDATE: Cardinal Urges Devotion to Rosary and Scapular.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Another Step Toward What We Know Must Eventually come

Father Z posts on that body of wisdom and dignitorial splendor, the San Francisco City Council and its resolution that officially labeled the Catholic church’s moral teachings on homosexuality as "insulting to all San Franciscans," "hateful," "defamatory," "insensitive" and "ignorant" will be challenged tomorrow in court for violating the Constitution’s prohibition of government hostility toward religion.

One must, from a viewpoint of mimetic theory keep in the forefront of one's understanding this specific insight of Gil Bailie: "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."

Cutting to the chase, sans identification with the universal Victim revealed in and safeguarded by the Catholic Church's Tradition, Scripture, and Magisterium, such parodies of liberation as the action taken above will as surely produce more innocent victims as women's liberation has produced abortuarial victims by the score.

This action on the part of San Francisco feels righteous, as any mob feels righteous scapegoating, but actually has found a sanctioned means of churning into action the victimary mechanism of the primitive sacred. Welcome to neo-pagan America in earnest.

UPDATE: Karen Hall’s take on developments.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Picture Worth 118 Words

In a nutshell: before the advent of Judaism and Christianity, in one way or the other, the scapegoat mechanism was accepted and justified, on the basis that it remained unknown. It brought peace back to the community at the height of the chaotic mimetic crisis. all archaic religions grounded their rituals precisely around the re-enactment of the founding murder. In other words, they considered the scapegoat to be guilty of the eruption of the mimetic crisis. By contrast, Christianity, in the figure of Jesus, denounced the scapegoat mechanism for what it actually is: the murder of an innocent victim, killed in order to pacify a riotous community. That's the moment in which the mimetic mechanism is fully revealed.
- René Girard, Evolution and Conversion

Desire, Ideology, & Victimization

Gil Bailie reminds us of a disturbing truth regarding popular themes in so-called "liberation" causes and special interest groups today:
(P)eople are tempted to multiply the innocent victim, to kill all the enemies of the nation or the class, to stamp out what remains of religion or family as the origins of all forms of repression, or to sing the praises of murder or madness as the only true forces of liberation.

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.
- Gil Bailie, Gift of Self
In other words, if one begins in the realm of what Saint Paul calls epithumeia in his letter to the Galatians and accepts desire as a perfectly valid raison d'être for human behavior, one will inevitably end at the place of sacrifice - human sacrifice (Gr. thumos) - as St Paul predicts. Desire here is used not merely in a Freudian sense, but rather from the lexicon of cultural anthropology. It is "compulsive fascination with the other, either positive or negative," which leads to rivalry, resentment, obsession, and, finally, murder.

What is stunning about Bailie's insight is that so many litigious groups today seek "liberation" - freedom - for the free exercise of desire never realizing or having any concern for the victims strewn in the wake of their endeavors, including the smallest and least heard victims, children aborted from their mothers' wombs.

For what rationale? For the freedom to follow unquestioningly one's desire.

The Catholic Church still maintains with Saint Paul that freedom comes in stepping away from the old ways of the primitive sacred and its enshrining of desire in pantheons of gods and goddesses or - in one case today - a Scimitaresque bloodthirsty monotheism.

This is the true war in which humanity is engulfed today.

1,000 Cuts to Catholicism

Catholic faith and morals, it comes as no surprise today, are under a barrage of attacks. The herd of Christianities - indebted to the Church for all the beliefs that they hold so dearly - has been culled. The enemies of the Christian faith feel certain that these can offer no real resistance, will die off one by one, or can be picked off easily at a latter time. So time is now ripe for the death by a thousand cuts to the Source and Summit of the Christian faith, the Catholic Church.

Professor and student choose a frontal attack, desecrating the Holy Eucharist. Hollywood continues its dissing of morals, producing blockbuster films that mock and ignore the Sacrament of Matrimony with heterosexual couples living together - National Treasure I & II - and procreating children with nary a thought of marriage: Superman Returns (2006), Hellboy II (2008), Mamma Mia! (2008) While the "brave" BBC depicts a Muslim beheaded by a modern-day Templar group in a "what-if" turnabout fair play mental experiment.

And now a new film is due to arrive: Hamlet II (2008) from those wacky folk who brought us South Park. Here, Our Lord is depicted in a high school play as a sexy object of derision, ridicule, and sacrilege. No doubt aimed at the 11-21 age group, this will make school corridors even nicer places to live, move, and have being for young Catholics.

Nietzsche reputedly said that the way to attack the Christian faith is by eroding its ethic. Defenders of the sanctity and high adventure of the Sacrament of Marriage, the domestic church, the Ten Commandments and Beatitudes, and Mother Church are needed today. This is the task given to us in these days of the attack by "a thousand cuts." Will we live up to our responsibility, young and old, well and sick, male and female, by means of our giftedness, exercising legitimate defense and virtuous chivalry?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Newman - Ontology & Wonder

I AM A CATHOLIC by virtue of my believing in a God; and if I am asked why I believe in a God, I answer that it is because I believe in myself, for I feel it impossible to believe in my own existence (and of that fact I am quite sure) without believing also in the existence of him, who lives as a Personal, All-seeing, All-judging Being in my conscience ... A religious mind is ever marveling, and irreligious men laugh and scoff at it because it marvels. A religious mind is ever looking out of itself, is ever pondering God's words, is ever "looking into" them with the angels, is ever realizing to itself him on whom it depends, and who is the center of all truth and good. Carnal and proud minds are contented with self; they like to remain at home; when they hear of mysteries, they have no devout curiosity to go and see the great sight, though it be ever so little out of their way; and when it actually falls in their path, they stumble at it. As great then as is the difference between hanging upon the thought of God and resting in ourselves, lifting up the heart to God, and bringing all things in heaven and earth down to ourselves, exalting God and exalting reason, measuring things by God's power and measuring them by our own ignorance, so great is the difference between him who believes in the Christian mysteries and him who does not. And were there no other reason for the revelation of them but this gracious one, of raising us, refining us, making us reverent, making us expectant and devout, surely this would be more than a sufficient one.
- John Henry Cardinal Newman (+1890)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Joy of Chivalry

The Vigil - Percy W. Muncy (Weidensall Hall - Gettysburg College)

In the remote chance that one did not find time to read The Chivalry of Saint Joseph by Stratford Caldecott of Second Spring, here it is once more, gentle reader.

If one must set aside more time than reading the above allows, try a nice page by a Knight of Columbus who takes this vocation of chivalry seriously, one Steven Forgette.

And, finally, if, gentle reader, it enters your mind that chivalry, heroism, fortitude, and other such virtues are a dream of long-gone days, take heart: chivalry is most decidedly NOT dead.