Saturday, September 13, 2008

Feast of the Holy Cross

On this eve of the Feast of the Holy Cross, I heard a priest from India speak at Vigil Mass about a tradition in his native country among Catholics: placing a cross at each corner of one's property for protection from the Evil One.

His homily reminded me of what Father Edward McCorkle, former Abbot of Our Lady of the Holy Cross Monastery, O.C.S.O., once said to me during spiritual direction when I was on retreat at the Guesthouse. Fr Edward told me that the first head of security for Dulles International Airport was a devout Catholic (I can't call up the name he told me). He insisted on burying Crucifixes at each corner of the property of that vast facility "for protection" from crashes.

The same man visited a funeral home that sported a magnificent Crucifix in one of its chapels for the spiritual benefit of its Catholic clientele. He saw it and had to get it, somehow, for the monastery chapel. What amount of money transferred from him to the funeral home, one will never know, but that same Crucifix now hangs above the altar in the chapel.

A blessed and peaceful Feast of the Holy Cross to you and your loved ones. And, if you get a moment, reflect on the Holy Father's words on monasticism and the foundations of Europe.

Jung, Girard, and Walking in the Dark

As I've mentioned before elsewhere, I used to put great stock in the analytical psychology of Carl Jung. And, truly, in terms of getting to know one's personal unconscious issues, a Jungian analyst is as good as one of any other modality.

Where I've quibbled with Jung, strictly as an unprofessional mind you, is with his so-called "collective unconscious." This is where, for Jung, the archetypes abide which form the basis of one's "complexes". Archetypes act as though they each had their own consciousness, if you will allow; their own willfulness. Dig deep enough with your analyst, and you will arrive in the presence of the archetype which (or who) forms the kernel of your complex.

Balderdash, right? Former president of the C. G. Jung Foundation, Jeffrey Burke Satinover, has done outstanding work deconstructed the "collective unconscious" of Jung and showing its direct relation to paganism.

But, in my opinion, Jung's system still does yeoman's work describing the inner life and outer manifestations of the human mind in human culture. Yes, it is pagan; so is René Girard's unregenerate cultural template, the "primitive sacred." And, unlike Freud, Jung recognizes the collective nature of the psyche in his analytical psychology, albeit in a metaphysical way quite alien to Girard's mimetic theory.

The thing is, both seem helpful to understanding the dilemmas of the modern crisis. Girard lays bare the mimetic nature of unredeemed human culture, stripping us of the illusion of the autonomous self; Jung describes the uncanny similarity and power of inner thoughts, images, and motivations among all peoples, religions, and ethnic groups undetectable to the scrutiny of the anthropologist but quite predictable and recognizable to the inner eye of the analyst.

For example: Jung's system would see Loki in Norse myth as a depiction of the "trickster" archetype. This archetype, one could observe, has as little concern for the welfare of humans as concern for Balder. This trickster archetype one might say has been working deviously, nefariously, for decades among human cultures - unrecognized, unheralded, ignored by a reductionist race of beings who cast out the baby of allowing for such powerful influences with the bath water of supernaturalism. Like an imp at the basis of such thinking and behaving as "free love" and Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Trans gnosticism, the trickster archetype degrades the humanith literally into a degenerate, self-loathing, self-extinction-seeking race of beings.

Like a naughty, little boy, the trickster archetype trashes and then runs away to find new mischief and havoc to raise. Or perhaps Mars strides among "street youths" in a Parisian slum, if you want to analyze another archetype whose monumental presence is ignored but present in today's hazardous world.

Jung, like Girard, still has much to contribute to human awareness and welfare. Even if one doesn't believe in archetypes, one should respect their powerful, illusory (?) influence as Jung described them. Or, as a wiseman once said, just because you don't believe in ghosts doesn't mean you shouldn't or won't be afraid of them walking in the dark.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Death, Personhood, & Trading Up

Friend and mentor Gil Bailie of the Cornerstone Forum relates an anthropological and ontological truth in Session 7 of his Emmaus Road Initiative. The locus of our selfhood as persons is found in the being we have on loan, as it were, from the Father, "maker of heaven and earth," in the words of the Nicene Creed. This personhood, imago dei, is unique to the Christian faith, with its forerunners the prophets of Israel with their unique relationship to the LORD.

Jesus Christ is, as Bailie quips, the "invitation" from the Triune God to enter the trinitarian perichoresis of John Damasene; the Catholic Church is the "R.S.V.P." of humanity to become, as it were, converted persons in a community of con-substantiality (Gr. homo-oussia) and mutual self-donating love (Gr. agape') with God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

If this all seems a bit of heavy weather and slow-going, I can only respond by apologizing and saying: you probably have not felt the near proximity of death. Yet. But for those who have like myself, the orthodox Catholic notion that our anthropology and personhood is a gift from the Word made flesh (Jn 1:14) who is "one in being with the Father," and who sacramentally bestows and infuses con-substantiality upon and with us in His divinization ... well! That, my friends, is good news indeed.

In fact, I'd call death "trading up."

Big O Keeps Sending Zingers

Karen Hall points out why John McCain refrains from using a laptop computer to Google or send email: the same reason he can’t tie his own shoes, comb his hair, or throw a baseball anymore. Way to go, Big O. Want to tell some dead baby jokes next?

Shoved Out of Bethlehem

Further proof that the Scimitar is the largest and boldest re-arranger of demographics in the world and claims "racism" (incorrectly) whenever anyone calls them on it:
( The Muslim Fatah-controlled authority in Judea and Samaria is encouraging a "sharp demographic shift" in Bethlehem, where the Christian population went from a 60 percent majority in 1990 to a 40 percent minority in 2000, to about 15 percent of the city's total population today.

It is estimated that, for the past seven years, more than one thousand Christians have been emigrating from the Bethlehem area annually and that only 10,000 to 13,000 Christians remain in the city. International human rights lawyer Justus Reid Weiner, who teaches at Hebrew University, told the Jerusalem Institute for Global Jewish Affairs that, under the PA-Fatah regime, Christian Arabs have been victims of frequent human rights abuses by Muslims.

"There are many examples of intimidation, beatings, land theft, firebombing of churches and other Christian institutions, denial of employment, economic boycotts, torture, kidnapping, forced marriage, sexual harassment, and extortion," he said. PA officials are directly responsible for many of the attacks, and some Muslims who have converted to Christianity have been murdered.
Read all of Muslims Continue Pushing Christians Out of Bethlehem by Gil Ronen of Arutz Sheva.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Beautiful to the Eye

Girl with a Pearl Earring (ca. 1665) - Johannes Vermeer

In an effort to rise above the fray, let us rest our eyes for a moment. Ah. There, that's better, isn't it? No talk of lipstick or any other such absurd drivel.

May I recommend that besides not letting the turkeys get you down, you find a DVD copy of Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003) to view; not for the opportunity feel inordinate passions toward Scarlett Johansson, who plays Griet, Vermeer's servant and model; nor for the melodrama that made Tracy Chevalier's book by that title a minor bestseller. But because director Peter Webber makes nearly every scene exquisitely beautiful in and of itself.

Films like this come along once in a blue moon, like, say, Diva (1981). You cherish it not for the plot, the characters, the dialog, or the cleverness; you love it because it is beautiful to the eye.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Scimitar Religion, Christian Faith

The Bible is, as friend and mentor Gil Bailie has said,
... an anthropological encyclopedia. The {unvarnished} story it tells is the story of we humans trying to awaken from primitive religion, and to come to know the God of love. And it tells us the whole thing. It tells us the journey we’ve been on, and we see ourselves slowly extricating ourselves from primitive religion and “one step forward and two steps back” sometimes. It’s all there.
So it is certainly possible to find verses in the Bible that speak of sacred violence against enemies, you bet. And it's equally certain that if you go to certain places in Indiana you will chance upon paint-ball militia types who want to keep these elements of human nature's worst elements firmly ensconced in their sacred writs.

But the vast majority of Christianities world-wide have come to an unwritten but firmly agreed upon stance that progressive revelation shows our antennae were turned away from the spirit of the living God and toward our baser instincts and passions in those passages. Or, as Pascal said somewhere, you can always prove the Bible wrong but only by invoking the Bible.

Trouble is, there is a billion-strong religion in the world - some say a totalitarian system - which I call the Scimitar, that hasn't the providence to see its more violent passages as changing. At all. Not one wit.

For a lean article that seems measured and cool, I suggest that of Dr. Sami Alrabaa, a practitioner of the Scimitar religion.

The fact that he risks publishing a reformist tract gives one hope. Perhaps the biblical spirit can help swing people of goodwill toward a peaceful co-existence. We are, after all, on the same divide as monotheists. Perhaps we can one day agree to point our antennae in the same direction and receive the same Signal.

Why the World Despises Us

... and why political parties either try to co-opt the Catholic Church or demean her teachings:
(W)hen people act together in community, resentment of their ideas can fester into hatred of who they are. The reason is simple. It's usually easy to ignore individuals, but communities are another matter. When organized and focused communities - like the Catholic Church - are pressing for what they believe, they are much stronger and much harder to ignore than are individuals.

What many critics dislike most about the Catholic Church is not her message, which they can always to dismiss, but her institutional coherence in pursuing her message, which is much harder to push aside. And yet the church is neither a religious version of General Motors nor a "political" organism; the political consequences of her message are a by-product of her moral teachings ...

The church engages the world in two ways: through the life of each individual believer and through the common action of believers working together. Every Christian life, and every choice in every Christian life, matters. There's no special headquarters staff that handles the action side of the Gospel. That task belongs to all of us. (41-42)
So says Archbishop Charles Chaput in his best-selling book, Render Unto Caesar. I cannot recommend it highly enough, so I will continue to post splendid excerpts from it.

I leave you with one last, brief quotation from him: "...the Catholic Church in the United States makes an ideal target for critics of religion in the public square because we're larger and better organized than most other Christian communities. And thanks to habits of mind created by the "old" anti-Catholicism, Catholics are easy to caricature" (41).

It is that "old" anti-Catholicism that blinds people in the West to their indebtedness to and need for the Catholic Church today and her bastion of truth, goodness, and beauty amid the rising tide of neo-paganism and the Scimitar.

Quacked & Cooked

Forgive the abruptness, but the reason I left the wasteland of the phenomenon in the West called "Protestantism" was that I yearned for epistemological certainty. Or, the words of a fellow convert, Arnold Lunn, "I was tired of being my own pope."

The question came down to: Who are you going to trust to tell the truth? Someone within this cultural "hall of (smoke and) mirrors," or someone who, historically, with credentials that hail from beyond human funny business?

The honorable Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi need to realize that if something walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably IS a duck. That is, if they want to step away from the teachings of the Catholic Church it is within the purview of their free will, being as they are made imago dei. But they are NOT being Catholic, by definition.

In fact, they are being Protestants. They see the individual conscience as a final arbiter of truth, and this is, in fact, heresy.

Who Threw That One

Occasionally, even our own psyche will work against us when we seek to be disingenuous. Was it a case of "the truth will out?" Or simply an unconscious slip of the tongue? Whichever, the One did not help quell the rumors of his Scimitar loyalties.

About it, BHO stated, "These guys love to throw a rock and hide their hand." Ah, but what if your own hand did the throwing?

Monday, September 8, 2008

A Elbereth, Gilthoniel

Silivren penna míriel!

J. R. R. Tolkien did not hide the connexion between his brain-daughter, Galadriel, and Our Lady, whose Nativity we celebrate this day.

Abp Chaput and Fr Z Not Biden Their Time

The invaluable Father John Zuhlsdorf posts on Archbishop Charles Chaput's response to the flawed moral reasoning of some Catholic public servants. Like Joe Biden's muddled moral thinking on Meet the Press.

DC Chancelor Implements Plan (Zyklon) B

Chancellor Michelle Rhee culls the herd. High standardized test scores or else; or, teachers as victim-fodder. Has Ms. Rhee tried reteaching the teachers? Never happened. It's quicker and dirtier to get rid of the deadwood, corporation template. Nothing succeeds like success.

If Catholic education ever comes to this, shame on us and I'm outta here. Ciao. Sayonara. Arrivederci. Auf Wiedersehen. Good riddance.

Sikh and Ye Shall Find (Bias @ BBC)

Sikhs and Hindus accuse the BBC of biased favoritism toward the Scimitar. Perish the thought! No!

Paris - Attacks on Jewish Students

All the more reason for legitimate defense and chivalry.

Brownback - The Catholic Vote

Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, fellow convert, speaks to the issue of the critical Catholic vote in this year's presidential election.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Birth of the Virgin Mary (1661) - Esteban Murillo

For more on this feast, visit Women for Faith & Family.

Internal Mediator Critique

James T. Harris turns to G. K. Chesterton to chide Ms. O. Winfrey and others who see BHO as a messiah for our time. Or, just because you know how to rake in advertiser revenue as a daytime television celebrity doesn't mean you know a hawk from a handsaw.

Rabbis & Bishops Defend Marriage

A lengthy excerpt, yes, but one that is vital to read. My comments appear after it.

ROCKVILLE CENTRE, New York, SEPT. 5, 2008 ( Marriage should be protected as a relationship between a man and a woman, affirm Jewish and Catholic leaders.

Rabbis and bishops joined in affirming their common beliefs regarding marriage in a joint statement titled "Created in the Divine Image." The statement was signed by Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld of Young Israel Synagogue in Kew Gardens Hills, New York, and Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, with other Catholic and Jewish leaders

The bishops and rabbis affirm "our shared commitment to the ordinance of God, the Almighty One, who created man and woman in the divine image so that they might share as male and female, as helpmates and equals, in the procreation of children and the building up of society."

In June, California became the second U.S. state, after Massachusetts, to allow same-sex marriages. The governor of New York earlier this year instructed authorities in his state to recognize same-sex marriages contracted in states or countries where the unions are legal.

Not discrimination

The Catholic-Jewish statement contests the claim that refusing to recognize same-sex unions as marriage is discrimination against homosexuals.

"We recognize that all persons share equally in the dignity of human nature and are entitled to have that human dignity protected, but this does not justify the creation of a new definition for a term whose traditional meaning is of critical importance to the furtherance of a fundamental societal interest," they said.

The statement continues: "God's design for the continuance of human life, as seen in the natural order, as well as in the Bible, clearly revolves around the union of male and female, first as husband and wife, and then as parents. A unique goal of marriage, which is reproduction and the raising of families, exists apart from that of same sex unions, which cannot equally participate in this essential function."

The rabbis and bishops affirmed that a legal classification of private relationships between people of the same gender "dilutes the special standing of marriage between a man and a woman."

"Since the future of every society depends upon its ability to reproduce itself according to this natural order and to have its young people reared in a stable environment, it is the duty of the state to protect the traditional place of marriage and the family for the good of society," the religious leaders added. "While others have the freedom to disagree with us, we hope that even those outside of our common religious traditions will recognize that we speak from the truth of human nature itself which is consistent with both reason and the moral life.

* * *

This group of rabbis and bishops clearly understands the fragile nature of prohibitions and their role in the present cultural "crisis of distinctions." The proponents of chaotic antinomianism - a.k.a. the gnostic myth of unbridled "I can and must do anything I can think to do" - are slaves to the overarching power of the primitive sacred's false transcendence. It only feels like freedom.

The difference between an Al-Qaeda terrorist and a western hedonistic pansexualist is negligible.

Read more here