It is a mistake to suppose that Catholics, say, who habitually make use of particular objects and images in their devotional lives, or act as though there were a geography of salvation, with some places being more spiritually imbued than others, are necessarily weak believers, needing props for faith. Indeed, the capacity of ordinary Christians to define and express themselves through the repertoire of material culture - over against a high culture or a mass culture of a more hegemonic kind, it may be - is an impressive manifestation of the virtue of faith.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Friday, January 15, 2010
The host of MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann announced that what Hume said “crosses that principle [of keeping] religious advocacy out of public life, since, you know, the worst examples of that are jihadists, not to mention, you know, guys who don’t know their own religions or somebody else’s religion, like Brit Hume.”
Brit Hume and the jihadists. I wish I could tell you no one takes this stuff seriously, but you know better than that. Mainstream reporters and the president of the United States have appeared on the show. But one has come to expect this of media ideologues. The more disturbing reality of life in our fallen world is: It’s not just those who spend their days immersed in ideology and ratings who reacted this way. In the more than a week since the incident occurred, I’ve heard non-pundit, faithful, church-going people buy into the conventional view: Hume said something wrong.But Hume did nothing of the sort. What he did was approach cultural commentary as a child of God. Punditry requires prudence, but if we do believe what we say we do as Christians, if we take it seriously, we are going to look a little unsophisticated now and again to the MSNBC crowd..More>>
As friend and mentor Gil Bailie quips in his study of fame, "Celebrities are people who are famous for being well known." What the Hume-Woods kerfuffle delineates is the deep chasm between a pundit who keeps himself in humble perspective, Brit Hume, and all the gaggle of multiculturalist self-appointed gatekeepers of the politically correct (read: indoctrinated ones who pay their secular humanist dues to belong to the club of progressivist pomposity and hubris) who believe their celebrity - their being well known - makes them magisterial experts.
Whether or not Mr. Woods hears of Brit Hume's normative is largely moot. What is important is that a candle was bravely lit and held aloft rather than hiding such eternal matters under the usual bushel of human pride.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
As you would imagine, it isn't a pretty situation in which to find oneself. Girard describes it as a "crisis of distinctions." Normal partitions become permeable and those things that stood firm become malleable, nebulous, and indistinct. Saint Paul, that proto-sociologist of our Catholic faith tradition, rightly points to the first distinction that faces collapse as the sexual (Gal 5,19-21) - the "canary in the mineshaft," as it were. He lists the rest of the characteristics as the mimetic crisis continues its downward, maelstrom-like swirl to total cultural collapse.
Avoiding the flying barrage of accusations, attacks, and hostile attempts of self-justification via sacrifice of others becomes a faster and faster dance of death. Where is our place of peace, of solid footing, of truth, goodness, and beauty in our culture's ending?
The day after my father's death, I assisted at the Mass on New Year's Day. Four days after my father's death, I assisted at the Sunday Mass in my old hometown at Saint Thomas Church. I could verify what J. R. R. Tolkien said to his son about the Source and Summit of the Church.
The same is true for those faced with these present times described by Euripides in The Bacchae thousands of years ago: When guilty people are struck mad, their madness knows no guilt.
Stay close to brothers in the Faith; cling to Peter's Barque; receive Sacramental grace as often as possible; love God totally and neighbor as self. Engage in the vocation of Marian chivalry.
This is the Adventure and Quest for us in this time.
In this inner world of every day Church life, the world is created by the Triune God. He intends for each of us to exist, when we exist. He created us free and intelligent. We can in fact mess things up. Christ comes into the world to set us back on the path for which we were created. We each strive to reach eternal life, the inner life of God. That is what is really going on in the universe. The rest is context.
God, I am sure, can be said to enjoy His creation. This creation itself is not intended just to sit there forever. Something goes on there that transcends this saeculum. The Liturgical Year regularly alerts us. The “time” in which we live is the time it takes for us to decide our relation to God. We show this relation in how we live, love, how we understand. We do it in this world, in the lives we are given.
The world is created for man that he might achieve the end that God invited him to achieve. This time passes. We are already in the “end time.” No new revelation is to come to us. We have been told what we need to know. The drama of our existence takes place in this cosmos. We await the “time” in which we will finally and fully exist. The Liturgical Year is our awareness of the real time of our lives, that time of choice that leads to the eternal “now” of the Trinity.
Read all …
Monday, January 11, 2010
At some point we will come to see that the developed world’s massive expansion of personal sexual liberty has provided a useful cover for the shrivelling of almost every other kind. Free speech, property rights, economic liberty and the right to self-defence are under continuous assault by Big Government. But who cares when Big Government lets you shag anything that moves and every city in North America hosts a grand parade to celebrate your right to do so? It’s an oddly reductive notion of individual liberty. The noisier grow the novelties of our ever more banal individualism, the more the overall societal aesthetic seems drearily homogenized—like closing time in a karaoke bar with the last sad drunks bellowing off the prompter “I did it My Way!”
And in the end even the sex doesn’t do it. In the Netherlands, the most progressive nation in Europe, the land where whatever’s your bag is cool, where naked women beckon from storefront windows, a certain ennui is palpable. Last week, the ANP news agency released a poll showing that the Dutch now derive more pleasure from going to the bathroom than from sex. It wasn’t a close-run thing: eighty per cent identified a trip to the toilet as the activity “they enjoy the most”—or, as the South African newspaper the Witness put it, “The Bog’s Better Than Bonking.” To modify Eliot, this is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a flush..More>>
Personally, gentle reader, I would happily hear as of a far away shipwreck news of Hollywood's demise, the mainstream media's atrophy, and all liberal rags like the WaPo and NYT being swallowed up by the earth.
Chesterton said it long ago: news is the bizarre. It's what sells advertising. The demise of the spreading of the strange and aberrant would not hurt my feelings at all. Then, the true, good, and beautiful might have a chance once again.
CHIVALRY IS ONLY a name for that general spirit or state of mind which disposes men to heroic and generous actions and keeps them conversant with all that is beautiful and sublime in the intellectual and moral world.
- Kenelm Henry Digby
When once a people, a culture, a society lets loose of the sole source of ontological and epistemological certainty, namely, the Magisterium of the Catholic Church which safeguards the deposit of faith, the inevitable downward spiral begins till the words of dear old Will Shakespeare come true:
And hark what discord follows! each thing meets
In mere oppugnancy. The bounded waters
Would lift their bosoms higher than the shores,
And make a sop of all this solid globe:
Strength would be lord of imbecility,
And the rude son would strike his father dead:
Force would be right; or rather, right and wrong
(Between whose endless jar Justice resides)
Would lose their names, and so would Justice too.
Then everything includes itself in power,
Power into will, will into appetite;
And appetite (an universal wolf,
So doubly seconded with will and power)
Must make perforce an universal prey,
And last, eat up himself.
What the Church proclaims about legitimate defense (echoing St Thomas Aquinas) is forgotten; what the Church definitely states about property and dignity and family is denounced by law.
Sad, poor old England, land of King Harry, Saint Augustine of Canterbury, Saint Thomas Becket, Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, Hilaire Belloc, G. K. Chesterton, Evelyn Waugh, J. R. R. Tolkien, and more. It is become ouroboros.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
"Satanic!? Whoa, Athos! Are you going fundy on us?" Fear not, gentle reader.
I am speaking from a vantage point of the Magisterium of the Church, and from what I consider a faithful servant of her Magisterium, mimetic theory of René Girard. And, for that matter, I am speaking from merely an etymological viewpoint.
In the New Testament, "Satan" (Gr. Σατάν ) means quite literally "the accuser." The accusatory gesture lies at the heart of fallen humanity and our conventional culture. The accuser of the mob becomes the arbiter of who the next victim will be. "It's HIS fault!" is the satanic gesture par excellence.
Today, there are more accusatory fingers pointing to truth, goodness, and beauty embodied in the Catholic Church than ever in prior ages. The Catholic Church refuses to relinquish truth, goodness, and beauty in an age of neo-pagan recrudescence, relativism, and ugliness. There ARE truth statements that will stand forever. There ARE faith values that are immutable. There ARE morals that shall not be brought down by the craven hoards.
May God Almighty remember Our Lord's promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His Church (Matthew 16, 18). And men and women of good will join arm in arm in chivalrous virtue.
It is the Adventure of faith, hope, and charity.
To believe that men were as functionally atheist and pragmatically unthinking of the will of God then as they are today, I say again, is not only poppycock but slanderous.
Did they use phrases fervently or as mere catch-phrases, going along to get along? Well, with how much fervor do you always - always - pray the Our Father ('Lord's Prayer')? Exactly.
But medieval Europe was drenched with the language of the Church, the language of the Faith; which were one and the same thing. As you have noticed, this is not the case today; yes, sure, in pockets, but not in the mainstream media, not in politics, not in general. It is the exception to the rule. The reformation, so-called, arrogated the arbitration of revealed knowledge from the true keeper of the deposit of faith. Now, every one from the storefront preacher to NPR tries to define the terms of discourse for faith and morals.
In our sad times, most persons are bereft of the wholesomeness of the Catholic faith (I'm sorry, but all other christianities are downstream) their birthright, scorned and rejected out of ignorance, assumption, prejudice, or political expediency. Therefore, those who still are graced enough to join in full communion with Mother Church see the truth of everyones' personal responsibility:
The greater number of men have by far too high an opinion of their own worth and too great a confidence in their own strength, but of their own vocation, of the end to which they are destined, they have, in general, a sense far too low. They do not believe in it; they look upon their calling and destiny and themselves as from the point whence they survey the whole world. But in this they are guilty of a great error and of a great injustice; for every man is a separate world in himself, a true micro-cosmus in the eyes of God and in the plan of the whole creation. Every man has a separate calling and an end peculiar to himself.
As in the warfare of the Middle Ages, when each man was regarded as a power, so in the spiritual combats of all times, Chivalry requires every man to believe that he is personally called upon to pronounce between error and truth, injustice an justice, vice and virtue.