Saturday, March 28, 2009

Free to Reject

In the same way that persons writhe and caterwaul toward the Catholic Church's claims of truth regarding faith and morals, the same must be acknowledged about persons' rejection of the very source of their being, God.

While God longs and searches down the road to spy for the first signs of returning prodigal sons and daughters, being made imago dei, our free will contains within it the power to utterly reject the grace and being of our source, God.

Any system of thought that posits a reduction of this anthropology begins to lean toward the heresy of Calvinism, classical Protestantism, with its extremely high theology and low anthropology.

Will all those whom Christ encounters - perhaps eternally - when "he descended to the dead" freely choose to accept the grace proffered them, finally? That is out of our hands to speculate about, in my opinion.

What is certain is that in the here and now, there is no lack of rejection, reviling of, and actively working against the truths taught by the Catholic Church, the guardian of divine revelation. Those who live blithely ignorant or in agreement with such efforts to negate and suppress Mother Church need a conscience transplant.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Reno on Bentley Hart

David Bentley Hart's new book is reviewed by R. R. Reno at First Things. Reno drops one quote that, if nothing else, should entice the reader to one-click over at Amazon:
"(A)theism that consists in vacuous arguments afloat on oceans of historical ignorance, made turbulent by storms of strident self-righteousness, is as contemptible as any other form of dreary fundamentalism.”
Read the review here.

Henry VIII's Folly

And speaking of cutting oneself off from the True Vine (below), MercatorNet's Joana Bogle gives us a sad reminder of the people and events surrounding the cutting off of England, 'the dowry of Mary,' from Mother Church.
This year marks the 500th anniversary of the coronation of Henry VIII. His reign marked the greatest single upheaval that Britain has known – because it was a spiritual and cultural upheaval as well as a social and political one. No other single event, not even the industrial revolution of the 19th century, or the two World Wars of the 20th, has had quite the profound impact of the Reformation. We see its effects everywhere – in the way we view history, in the rural landscape with its (often very beautiful!) ruined abbeys, in the way we take for granted the notion of churches of different denominations in our towns and cities.

Certainly, however, the events in England cannot be seen in isolation. In 1534 and 1535 when the king’s “great matter” – his planned annulment of his marriage to Catherine and his marriage to Anne Boleyn – were being played out, it was against a backdrop of ferocious religious ferment in Europe. Martin Luther had been hauled into court in 1518 to defend his arguments on indulgences. In 1521 he wrote his letter to the Pope, von der Freiheit des Christenmenchen, and events were set in train for his excommunication which happened later that year. Despite its title, his famous document was not concerned with freedom as we today would understand it –it no prototype for a United Nations declaration on religious liberty. On the contrary, it is a set of affirmations on what the Church ought to say and believe. It rests on a whole range of ideas – still at that stage being worked out – concerning man, his free will, God’s plans, salvation, punishment, how we obtain God’s mercy, and much more.

But what really resonated with people was not really Luther’s doctrinal ideas – which then and later were confused and not particularly popular. What resonated was a general sense that the Church needed some cleansing. There was corruption and greed. There was an indefinable inability to engage with a changing world.

It is ironic – and a tragedy – that among those who would die as martyrs for the Catholic cause in Britain were leading supporters of authentic reform within the Church. Thomas More, the Chancellor of England, and John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, both saw an urgent need for change. Long before he clashed with the king over the latter’s demands for support in abandoning his wife and marrying his mistress, Fisher was pioneering reforms in the education of clergy – he effectively established the Library at the University of Cambridge in a modern form – and in their pastoral training. There are touching accounts of him visiting the sick and dying, showing his priests by practical example how they should minister. Thomas More, as a leading layman, denounced clerical greed and ignorance. Both men died on the scaffold at the Tower of London for opposing the King’s break with Rome ...
Read all here.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cutting oneself off from the True Vine

I'm not quite certain why, but I am experiencing a new found hope regarding the Catholic faith these days, the kerfuffel at Notre Dame to the contrary notwithstanding.

Perhaps it is best thematized by Bishop Olmsted in a single sentence from his letter to President Jenkins of the University of Notre Dame regarding his invitation to I Won: It is a public act of disobedience to the Bishops of the United States.

Coming from a non-Catholic background myself, I see the long term ramifications of such a disastrous decision on the part of President Jenkins, though, apparently, he does not, being an impatient modern fellow who does not bother his head with Eric Voegelin's warning not to "immanentize the eschaton."

For, firstly, this was and continues to be the heresy par excellence of the Enlightenment project, from the French Revolution through the disasters of the 20th century, and on to the trite mayhem we are experiencing only leading edges of which were heralded in the pagan slogan, "Yes We Can."

But, secondly, Bishop Olmsted is doing more than stating the indicative. He is proclaiming a dread warning to Jenkins: Cut yourself off from the True Vine at your peril. Mainline Protestantism no less than the vast remains of Christendom are withering and becoming dry tinder ripe for the conflagration that Our Lord warns of in John 15.

Even so great an institution as the University of Notre Dame can be so short sighted if so great an institution as the Church in England can also cut herself off from the sole Church leading to the sad, dreadful affair the Anglican communion has become.

I, for one, would hate to see the Golden Dome become a relic of what it once was.

Baptism Baby Boom - Bye to Demographic Winter

Beautiful. Here's the solution to "demographic winter" led by the Eastern "lung" of Christendom and by a beloved leader of the Church.

How's about our bishops doing the same thing? If there is a spike in Catholic family births, all the better!

At the end of 2007, in a move to reverse the Caucasian country's dwindling birth figures, the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Ilia II, came up with an incentive. He promised to personally baptize any baby born to parents of more than two children.

There was only one catch: the baby had to be born after the initiative was launched.

The results are, in the words of the Georgian Orthodox Church, "a miracle".

Read all …

Light a candle or curse the darkness

It is very good when I see that great big I Won smile everywhere and feel my blood pressure rising - most recently over the Not Our Dame fiasco - to listen to cooler and more temperate voices; like, for instance, Father Z:

It seems to me that the best approach is not through the negative but rather the postive. Would it not be better were (Bishop D’Arcy) to concede something positive, such as an indulgence, for an alternative event, such as a prayer service?

By the way - Francis Beckwith is speaking at Notre Dame this weekend.....

Ain't it the truth

And in so many ways. Archbishop Demetrios, the head of the Greek Orthodox Church in the United States, visiting the White House said, "Following the brilliant example of Alexander the will be able to cut the Gordian knot of these unresolved issues."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mary's Surprising Day

Dymphna posts the hands-down best contemporary depiction I have seen of the Annunciation..

Lighthearted Crucifixion

When I wrote The Dionysus Mandate, I knew it would not stay ahead of the curve of neo-paganism very long.

A PLAN by a Wexford nightclub to re-enact the Crucifixion of Christ for the entertainment of revellers over the Easter weekend, has been condemned as “blasphemous” by a Catholic priest.

The Music Factory in North Main Street, which regularly hosts themed nights, is staging a mock Crucifixion on Easter Sunday night with an actor playing Jesus on the Cross being whipped by dancers dressed as Roman soldiers.

Club co-owner Peter May said the Cross would be erected in the middle of the dance floor and a performance will take place as part of a show called the Resurrection Section.

“It will be done in a fun, lighthearted way. A lot of young people forget what Easter is really about. This is a way of reminding them,” he said. However, Wexford parish administrator Fr Jim Fegan has called it “a mockery and a blasphemy” and warned that the nightclub might be underestimating the reaction of some of its customers.

Read all ...


The Annunciation (1914) - John Waterhouse

Stem Cells for Dummies

E. Christian Brugger, Senior Fellow at the Culture of Life Foundation explains.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bishop D'Arcy on Not Our Dame

The timing could not be apt, as Bishop John D'Arcy points out in his statement regarding President Obama being invited, and accepting the invitation, to speak at Notre Dame:
Even as I continue to ponder in prayer these events, which many have found shocking, so must Notre Dame. Indeed, as a Catholic University, Notre Dame must ask itself, if by this decision it has chosen prestige over truth.

Tomorrow, we celebrate as Catholics the moment when our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, became a child in the womb of his most holy mother. Let us ask Our Lady to intercede for the university named in her honor, that it may recommit itself to the primacy of truth over prestige.
Read all …

Shock and Outrage

A somewhat bemused essay in the Washington Times wherein the French and other denizens of modern times discover to their appalled displeasure and discombobulation that the Pope is Catholic!!

Collective Violence - a new study

Collective religious rituals, not religious devotion, spur support for suicide attacks. So says a new study in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. This substantiates it.

For students of René Girard's mimetic theory, this is not a surprise rather a corroboration.

Not Our Dame II

Stephen Barr at First Things weighs in on the Not Our Dame Scandal here.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Thank You, WHO

Holy guacamole. Karen Hall has posted a video that a brave African American woman made here. Must see!

Burden of Proof

The Wall Street Journal's Tawfik Hamid says Islam Needs to Prove It's a Religion of Peace. The Holy Father said much the same in his recent address to Muslims in Cameroon.

I would say the burden of proof lies squarely at the feet of the Scimitar. Yes, it is "guilt by association," but the Scimitar has ever proselytized by the sword, intimidation, and allegiance to the primitive sacred's dependence on blood sacrifice.

Till then, Mr. Hamid, above, is correct.

Gothic Glory

A big hat tip to the Anchoress who shares a gothic cathedral in which the Crucifix of the rood screen is illuminated only twice a year.

To know about probably the most faithful architect of Mother Church in 19th century England, read this, or search this weblog for Pugin.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Not Our Dame

As most of us know, I Won is slated to speak at The University of Notre Dame for commencement. Having gone to its website and written my displeasure, I awaited a timely comment from those slap-happy denizens at Shrine of the Holy Whapping. It wasn't a long wait - Emily posted.

Okay? okay. Well, folks, this one is pretty bad, and no doubt about it. Now, on the one hand, of course, I would imagine that Notre Dame, like many other major universities, invites the sitting President as a matter of course. They may not have expected an acceptance any more than usual. I am not pointing this out to excuse the invitation, because, of course, one would hope that there is much thought put into any honor bestowed by the University. I am merely noting that he may not have been singled out particularly. It’s still inexcusable, as they’ve managed to bring scandal to many, as well as marring the exercises by causing many graduates to question whether they can even attend their own commencement in good conscience.

I gather that the administration's take is that we need to engage the president in dialogue, and that inviting him to speak somehow fulfills this. I imagine that I do not need to point out the flaws in this argument to our readership, as he is being honored by the university, and not merely invited to lecture or debate. Keeping the lines of communication open is always good; but I doubt they’re turning the commencement exercises into a town hall debate.

The flaws in the argument having been duly noted, I think that being aware of their rationale can be helpful in voicing our objections. It is true, of course, that we are called as Catholics to engage those with whom we disagree. The problem is that the opportunity for scandal to the Faithful has been ignored, perhaps willfully, by the administration. The argument for inviting him is rather nuanced, if flawed, and it behooves arguments against his coming to be well thought out and address more nuanced points. As a commenter elsewhere noted:

"saying ‘ND thinks it's okay to kill babies!’ fails to recognize the complexity of the situation. Something like ‘ND isn't taking Obama's policies toward life issues into serious enough consideration’ is a much better argument.

The difference between an ordinary speaking engagement or debate and the honor of giving a commencement address ought to be highlighted, as well as our duty to avoid giving scandal. We are not trying to retreat to the ghetto, and we do need to live in the world, but given the at least potential appearance of endorsing the president's pro-abortion actions, the choice was a highly imprudent one, at best.

Read it all.

UPDATE: Father Ralph McInerny, author and soon to retire professor at The University of Notre Dame, writes of Obama's invitation at The Catholic Thing, here posted by Father Z with his usual level of commentary.


They Went WHERE

Incredible Lightness of I Won

Peggy Noonan's snapshot of the Last Self-Help Administration heretofore:

He is willowy when people yearn for solid, reed-like where they hope for substantial, a bright older brother when they want Papa, cool where they probably prefer warmth. All of which may or may not hurt Barack Obama in time. Lincoln was rawboned, prone to the blues and freakishly tall, with a new-grown beard that refused to become an assertion and remained, for four years, a mere and constant follicular attempt. And he did OK.

Such impressions—coolness, slightness—can come to matter only if they capture or express some larger or more meaningful truth. At the moment they connect, for me, to something insubstantial and weightless in the administration's economic pronouncements and policies. The president seems everywhere and nowhere, not fully focused on the matters at hand ...
Read all ...