Saturday, January 31, 2009

In Vitro, or Babies in Glass

The mother of octuplets has been much in the news recently, with many people saying that she should not have had the kids. Yet, dig a little deeper and you find some interesting details:

  1. She is and always has been unmarried.
  2. She has six children already.
  3. All of the children were conceived in vitro.
  4. The last eight to be born were the "leftover" embryos.
In other words, some doctor found a sperm donor and helped her conceive at least fourteen children, who were then kept frozen until such time as she wanted to give birth to them. She had the last eight because she didn't want her embryos, that is, her children, to be destroyed.

Now, what's the message taken away from this? That someone was unethical for implanting the last eight in her? No. The unethical stuff started much earlier, when human beings were conceived in a glass jar, made into products to be stored on a shelf until such time as they might be allowed to grow.

Did you know that it is customary for many more embryos to be fertilized in vitro than will ever be brought to term? What happens to the excess, to the leftover human beings? Thrown out as medical waste. This woman, as crazy as she seems to be, at least didn't leave her children to die.

The real message is that, from start to finish, in vitro fertilization is very bad.

From the SSPX to the Anglicans

It's been a while since we've brought up the Anglicans. What with the excoms lifted on the SSPX and their folks being on the road to regularization, it seems that the Anglican train might be picking up steam again. Thanks to Rorate-Caeli for bringing us this story from The Record:

It is understood that the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has decided to recommend the Traditional Anglican Communion be accorded a personal prelature akin to Opus Dei, if talks between the TAC and the Vatican aimed at unity succeed.

On a side note to this story, I am hoping very much to make it to the Anglican Use parish of St. Mary the Virgin in Arlington in the next couple of months.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Recruitment and Retention

Getting folks into the Sheepfold is just half the battle. Losing Catholics to other religions has been talked about a lot since the Pew study from early last year.

The news isn't all bad, though. From EWTN:

A new survey of denominational loyalty reports that churchgoing Catholics are significantly less likely than churchgoing Protestants to change denominations.

Six out of ten active Catholics would only consider attending a Catholic church, while about 30 percent would prefer attending a Catholic church but would consider others, the survey says. Eleven percent of churchgoing Catholics reportedly do not show a specific preference for attending a Catholic church.

By contrast, only 16 percent of Protestant churchgoers will only consider attending a church of their present denomination. About 51 percent express a preference for one denomination, while 33 percent do not have any preference for a specific denomination.

It's still not all roses and rainbows, either. You've still got 40% of Catholics saying they would consider converting away from the Church. This is another indication of a belief built on feelings rather than actual Faith. Not good, but at least it isn't the picture we got last year of folks leaving in droves.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ramblings of a Theological Prostitute

Before anyone objects (again) to my use of the term "theological prostitute," please note (again) that I didn't come up with that terminology. The Pope did.

Anyways, this is the latest bullcrap from Richard McBrien, best known as a long-time heretic at my alma mater. He really doesn't provide anything new, but I wanted to put this up as a great example for why folks like McBrien are completely cracked in the head.

To set it up, McBrien has just re-affirmed his status as a heretic. The Boston Globe online presents the follow-up exchange as:

IDEAS: And why don't you leave?

McBRIEN: Because it's my church. It's my home. And I was born in it. I've been a Catholic all my life. And I have affirmation from so many good people. I feel that I have a responsibility to them to continue working at it and doing the best I can.

The comments at the bottom even notice the problem with this statement. He isn't sticking around because he shares the Catholic Faith. It's just "where he lives," for lack of a better paraphrase. Oh, and he has a couple of neighbors that like him. This is the perfect example of the religious psychosis that is affecting the entire nation. Whether or not the faith is true is now irrelevant. All that matters is that you are comfortable there and have some buddies that hi-five you every now and then.

The Angelic Doctor

Today is the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor, the Common Doctor, and a whole other host of nicknames.

My own experience with St. Thomas was basically nil until I made it college. My old Irish priest (now known as "The Hammer" among the younger priests of the diocese) dropped bits of Thomism every now and then, but he was mainly about St. Augustine and other patristic-types. My sophomore year of college, though, I wound up in a philosophy class called Thought of Aquinas with Prof. O'Callahan. I didn't exactly switch on to St. Thomas immediately. It was interesting, but I was kind of new to the whole philo bit. The story about his family locking him in his room with a prostitute to try and get him to break his vows probably did more to engage me with his writings than anything else that semester.

It wasn't until my theology interests got ginned up that I really started hitting the Thomist stuff hard. My theology seminar professor was a guy named Hugh Page. Prof. Page was an Episcopalian minister (near as I could figure) and seemed cut very much from Spong-cloth. St. Thomas's clarity and almost-supernatural ability to cut through BS came in very helpful during that time, especially as I was exposed to more and more guys who profs, TAs, and classmates told me were "great theologians" but whose writings were nonsensical crap.

Did I mention that Richard McBrien was teaching at ND?

St. Thomas and his Dominican brethren were invaluable. There's nothing more refreshing than whipping out the Summa or the Summa Contra Gentiles after slogging through an hour's worth of Rahner.

My point in rambling all this is that I owe a lot to this man and make it a point to celebrate his entire catalog whenever the opportunity arises. You don't have to read the Summa. Check out The Aquinas Prayer Book or The Aquinas Catechism. There are plenty of good commentaries that can get you started before you pick up the heavy stuff. Give it a shot. Don't take my word for it.

We exhort you, venerable brethren, in all earnestness to restore the golden wisdom of St. Thomas, and to spread it far and wide for the defense and beauty of the Catholic faith, for the good of society, and for the advantage of all the sciences. The wisdom of St. Thomas, We say; for if anything is taken up with too great subtlety by the Scholastic doctors, or too carelessly stated-if there be anything that ill agrees with the discoveries of a later age, or, in a word, improbable in whatever way-it does not enter Our mind to propose that for imitation to Our age. Let carefully selected teachers endeavor to implant the doctrine of Thomas Aquinas in the minds of students, and set forth clearly his solidity and excellence over others.

Leo XIII, Aeterni Patris

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Mohammed Was a Weird Guy

If you haven't heard of Fr. Zakaria Boutros, you should make it a point to check his stuff out. He's a Coptic priest in Egypt who basically goes on TV and uses Muslim sources to refute Islam. This is done with extreme prejudice. Need an example?

Here's the most recent excerpt from JihadWatch:

Botros proceeded to read aloud from various sources, such as a hadith relayed by Abu Hurreira (deemed an extremely reliable narrator), where Muhammad sucked on the tongues of his cousin (and future caliph) Ali’s two boys, Hassan and Hussein—they of revered Shia memory.

Next he read a hadith of Muhammad sucking on the tongue of his own daughter, Fatima. Fr Botros also added that the Arabic word for “suck” (muss) cannot, as some apologists insist, mean anything but “suck.” “After all,” added the perspicacious priest, “this is the same word used when discussing Muhammad’s 'activities' with his wives, especially his beloved child-bride, Aisha.”

With an extremely disgusted look on his face, Botros turned towards the camera and said: “Dear lady, imagine, for a moment, coming home to find your husband sucking on your daughter’s tongue? What would you do? It’s even worse: it’s your prophet—the most “morally upright” man, a man to be emulated by the world! A man who on record used to go around sucking the tongues of his wives, his daughters, and young boys: Are these the activities of the man described in the Koran as being the pinnacle of moral perfection?”

I have to hand it to the man. He's got guts. National Review cited a story stating that he was a significant factor in the conversion of many Muslims to Christianity, which tends to be around 6 million a year according to this source. Anybody know if he's ever been on 60 Minutes or some other such show? Regardless, he deserves our prayers, both for his own conversion and for the conversion of Muslims everywhere.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Nancy Pelosi Scares the Hell Out of Me

No, this isn't going to be some sort of personal shot about her face or anything like that. This is more about her infinite capacity for stupidity (which we've discussed before), the fact that she's in a position of authority, and the very real possibility that she would be willing to lead us all straight into Soylent Greenland. Check out her recent comments on ABC why we need to increase contraception services:

Pelosi was also asked about some of the more controversial spending in the stimulus package, including hundreds of millions to expand family planning services.

"The family planning services reduce cost," Pelosi said. "One of the elements of this package is assistance to the states. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now and part of what we do for children's health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs. One of those -- one of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception, will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government."

I want everyone to notice a very significant point here. Typically, you hear folks from the culture of death criticize pro-lifers as "not caring what happens after the baby is born" or that they are "only pro-life up to the delivery." In other words, they lie. The attempt is to make it seem that leftists are REALLY the caring bunch because, while they might sanction the slaughter of the unborn, they are for all kinds of federal spending programs that will allegedly lead to better care being given for the children who manage to escape being murdered.

Nancy is at least honest this time. Let's just get rid of the children altogether. They are a cost, not a blessing. An expense on our collective budget, not a person, not a gift. People are not people. They are things that can be erased as simply as numbers on a balance sheet.

This sounds eeriely familiar.

Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.

Paul VI, Humanae Vitae

Nancy's thinking is exactly the sort of garbage that results in people being baked into little green wafers.

Archbishop Becket is most displeased.

Obama and The Miraculous Medal

Crown of Stars has a most remarkable story on the items Pres. Obama always carries in his pockets.

Among the items shown are a Miraculous Medal and a separate medal with the Blessed Mother holding the Infant Jesus.

Initially, I was dumbstruck at the hypocrisy. It seems that an interesting sequence of mental gymnastics would be necessary in order to simultaneously maintain the president's indifference to the unborn and also to have any sort of positive reflections on an item focused on the Blessed Mother's conception, not to mention the Infancy of the Incarnation.

Yet he does. Admittedly, he also has some completely non-Christian stuff in there as well. I'm pretty sure that's a minature of Shiva, for example. However, I am quite intrigued by this. The Blessed Mother being who she is and all, I am suddenly hopeful that her influence might be the sort of thing to turn Obama away from his current sanctioning of infanticide.

If anyone knows the story on why he carries these objects, I'd be most appreciative if you'd pass that information on.

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.

Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux

March For Life

Do I have any attendee readers?
Do I have any readers at all?

Seriously, anybody with stories, news, whatever, please let me know, and I will be more than willing to post it.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Worst Popes of All Time

I've run through this before when I recommended The Bad Popes by ER Chamberlin for the readers here. You should still be able to find it for purchase somewhere on this page. It looks like a blog called Odee has tried to compile its own list.

I call foul. Stephen VI as the worst? Really? I don't care what anybody says, that whole Cadaver Synod thing is one of my favorite stories from Church history. It's the perfect example of the Church's divine consitution. As Pius VII told Napoleon, if the popes over the years weren't bad enough to destroy the Church, then Bonaparte didn't stand a chance.

I'm going to plug Chamberlin's book again, if for no other reason than it corrects a lot of the exaggeration and polemic directed against guys like Alexander VI. My personal pick for the worst is Benedict IX. They called it The Pornocracy for good reasons, and this guy embodies most of them.

I'm willing to bet that the folks who compiled the list aren't Catholic. Innocent IV and John XV was real stretches here, especially when you've got guys who jeopardized doctrine with their weakness (yeah, I'm looking at you, Honorius). When you consider that the main job of the pope is to shepherd the Universal Church, these types should be much higher on the list. Even saints can make for bad popes, as St. Celestine V showed us. This is more a listing of bad guys who happened to be pope (except maybe Clement, who is down at #10), rather than bad popes.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Looks Like the Rumors Were True

CNS has the report on the SSPX excoms being lifted. We've come a long way, I suppose. Twenty years of polemic has to go somewhere. From the looks of things, they are still suspended are far from any sort of canonical regularity.

Of course, the mainstream media, ever the Church's friend, has chosen to report the matter this way:

Pope lifts excommunications of 4 bishops, including bishop who denied the Holocaust

So Bishop Williamson winds up being the focus of the whole story. That whole story being mostly fabricated, by the way. I am willing to listen to anyone's correction here, but all I've ever heard Williamson deny is that the number of Jews killed was as high as 6 million and that the executions that did take place were carried out in gas chambers.

If you want to gripe about his seeing Freemasons around every corner or the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, go ahead. Telling lies about the guy really isn't necessary.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Lifting of the SSPX Excoms?

Word is all over the place according to the New Liturgical Movement.

I'm going to withhold my comments for a bit, just to give this time to play out.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

So How's That Whole Pill Thing Going?

Not too well according to the guy who helped invent it.

Eighty five year old Carl Djerassi the Austrian chemist who helped invent the contraceptive pill now says that his co-creation has led to a "demographic catastrophe."

In an article published by the Vatican this week, the head of the world's Catholic doctors broadened the attack on the pill, claiming it had also brought "devastating ecological effects" by releasing into the environment "tonnes of hormones" that had impaired male fertility, The Taiwan Times says.

The assault began with a personal commentary in the Austrian newspaper Der Standard by Carl Djerassi. The Austrian chemist was one of three whose formulation of the synthetic progestogen Norethisterone marked a key step toward the earliest oral contraceptive pill.

Djerassi outlined the "horror scenario" that occurred because of the population imbalance, for which his invention was partly to blame. He said that in most of Europe there was now "no connection at all between sexuality and reproduction." He said: "This divide in Catholic Austria, a country which has on average 1.4 children per family, is now complete."
He described families who had decided against reproduction as "wanting to enjoy their schnitzels while leaving the rest of the world to get on with it."

The fall in the birth rate, he said, was an "epidemic" far worse, but given less attention, than obesity. Young Austrians, he said, were committing national suicide if they failed to procreate. And if it were not possible to reverse the population decline they would have to understand the necessity of an "intelligent immigration policy."

The whole article from CatholicNews is good and goes into a lot more detail on the abortifacient aspects of the pill, as well as the possibility of its contributing to pollution. Check out the whole thing and marvel at the conspiracy of silence that has been organized to bury these problems.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Pope and The Chief Rabbi of Venice

Do not walk into a bar.

Instead, the rabbi seems to be the latest to succumb to the Holy Father's knack. Rorate Caeli has the report on the latest outrage that has allegedly brought us to the "cancellation of the past fifty years of the history of the Church."

What could the Pope have done to spark such outrage?

He wants people to pray for the conversion of Jews to Christianity.

The Assembly of Rabbis of Italy has made known that, at least for this year, there will be no collaboration between the Jewish Communities of Italy and the Catholic institutions for the celebration of the Day of Judaism (January 17). It is the logical consequence of a particular moment which the inter-Confessional dialogue is living today, a moment in which the signs began to appear when the Pope, by liberalizing the Latin Mass, indicated in the Tridentine Mass the norm to follow. In that formulation, in the prayers of Good Friday, there is a prayer which asks for the conversion of the Jews to the "truth" of the Church and to faith in the salvific role of Jesus. In truth, that prayer, which, in its first wording defined the Jews as "perfidious", that is "outside the faith" and blind, had already been "changed" (but never abolished) by John XXIII. Benedict XVI expunged from it the most offensive terms, and reintroduced it.

How dare he have concern for the souls of others? What kind of a pope is this, who actually wants people to be Christians? Here's a hint, if the Pope was really an anti-Semite, he wouldn't want anyone praying for Jews at all.

The rabbi then shows quite a bit of audacity:

It is not, therefore, a matter of hypersensitivity: it is in the most banal sense about the respect owed to the other as a creature of God. If to that we add the most recent positions taken by the Pope regarding the worthiness of dialogue, defined as useless because in every case the superiority of the Christian faith is clear, it is evident that we march towards the cancellation of the past fifty years of the history of the Church.

If the rabbi really means this statement, I have no choice but to call him a hypocrite. Perhaps he should consider a few basic principles. The Pope is Catholic because he believes in the clear superiority of the Christian faith. We can reasonably assume the rabbi is Jewish for an analogous reason. If not, then he is debasing the very idea of God and revealed Truth. If so, then he is calling the Pope out for an offense for which he is just as guilty.

When did calls to conversion become offensive anyway? If there is ever to be any meaningful discussion of religion, one has to assume that the other is serious enough about his beliefs to want you to share them. To say otherwise is cruelty. Why would anyone who claims to be a good person want others to be ignorant of the most significant things in all of creation?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Why Catholics Should Read Comics

Here's a new web site that I'll be checking out: Holy Heroes. It's basically about religion in comic books. I haven't read enough posts to know the precise religious affiliations of the folks involved, but it's interesting stuff thus far.

What lots of people don't realize is that the comic books are uniquely built for telling stories grounded in Catholic theology. The idea of comics as the modern day myths a la Zeus, Horus, etc. has been examined thoroughly over the years, so it's easy to see a religious character to their stories. Whether it's gods trying to live as men (aka DC) or men trying to live as gods (aka Marvel), the comparisons are there.

Why is it especially apt for Catholic stuff, though?

Because the underlying theme of all these heroic stories is sacrifice, despite the vast powers of the characters. It's about carrying a cross and offering up all those things that you most desire in the name of that which is greater than yourself. You aren't going to find much prosperity Gospel around. Cheap grace? Doubtful. Easy roads to salvation? Probably not.

Close enough to the call to holiness for me.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Because Regular Christianity Just Isn't Good Enough

What we really need is a gay Christianity. From Catholic Online:

The Anglican Church is the perfect vehicle for creating a new “gay” Christianity by virtue of the fact that it is the only church that accepts the logical contradiction of asserting both the sanctity of human life and the existence of a right to abortion.

Could someone pull Gene aside and explain to him what logic actually is?

The logical principle of non-contradiction, a basic philosophical concept identified by Aristotle, is defined as the idea that two opposed things cannot both be true. Aristotle put it that, “One cannot say of something that it is and that it is not in the same respect and at the same time.” It is not possible, for example, for a person to both be in a room and not in a room at the same time. This principle is regarded by philosophers as one of the three first principles of rational thought, without which no assertion of any truth is possible.

It's a nice try, but let's face it. Gene and his ilk ditched logic and rational thought a long time ago.

“The Anglican tradition is uniquely capable of holding two seemingly contradictory ideas together. Its position on abortion, for example is that all human life is sacred. And, that no one has the right to tell a woman what to do with her body. Both are true,” he said.

The sky is blue. The sky is purple with pink polka dots. Both are true. Great logic there.

The sound reasoning continues as he denounced bigotry against homosexuals by laying out the case the heterosexuals are not as capable of charity as gay individuals.

In his talk in London and in a later interview with the Spectator’s Theo Hobson, Robinson laid out the precepts of gay Christianity in which homosexuals, as an oppressed minority, are more capable of Christian charity than heterosexuals. To lend biblical credence to his assertions, Robinson cited a passage in John’s Gospel in which Jesus tells his disciples they were not ready for all of Christian teaching. Robinson asserts that the acceptance of homosexuality was part of the teaching that the Holy Spirit was to give the Church later.

Of course, let's not let facts get in the way here. We'll just ignore the fact that the Spirit hadn't even come to them yet. Oh, and what about not being left orphans and the Spirit guiding them into all Truth? Just Christ making small talk I guess. It's a shame that we've been wandering in the moral wilderness for 2000 years until Gene came along to show us our errors.

He said that the growing acceptance of homosexuality in the churches “is all ultimately about is patriarchy — the beginning of the end of it. The strength of the resistance tells us we’re on to something.

Tragically, what you're on to is heresy and mortal sin. We should continue to pray for Mr. Robinson and all of our Anglican friends who are caught up in this mess.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Rebirth of Calvinism

John Calvin is a pretty misunderstood guy, at least in terms of his ideas, I think. When you hear talk of Martin Luther, you usually get a huge shovelful of romanticized crap about "Here I stand," his liberation of religion from papal tyranny, the joys of marriage, and so forth. With Calvin, you basically hear about uncomfortable pews and people going to hell.

Here's the bit nobody ever wants to talk about. Calvin's ideas make a lot more sense than Luther's. Read The Institutes (thrilling stuff, I know). Then read anything by Luther. Whether it's The Babylonian Captivity or The Jews and Their Lies, it tends to be long, rambling stuff that isn't all that devoted to actually explaining anything. It's more about ripping into anybody that disagreed with him.

Calvin, though he is wrong on just about everything, at least is internally consistent for the most part. Like any good lawyer, he has a logical order to stuff and sets it out in a much better, albeit more boring, fashion.

Needless to say, Calvinism seems to have been in a bit of a decline. Like all Reformed communities, they've been losing support. The visions of uncomfortable pews and hellfire probably hasn't helped. According to this NYT article, a comeback might be underway:

At a time when the once-vaunted unity of the religious right has eroded and the mainstream media is proclaiming an “evangelical crackup,” Driscoll represents a movement to revamp the style and substance of evangelicalism. With his taste for vintage baseball caps and omnipresence on Facebook and iTunes, Driscoll, who is 38, is on the cutting edge of American pop culture. Yet his message seems radically unfashionable, even un-American: you are not captain of your soul or master of your fate but a depraved worm whose hard work and good deeds will get you nowhere, because God marked you for heaven or condemned you to hell before the beginning of time. Yet a significant number of young people in Seattle — and nationwide — say this is exactly what they want to hear. Calvinism has somehow become cool, and just as startling, this generally bookish creed has fused with a macho ethos. At Mars Hill, members say their favorite movie isn’t “Amazing Grace” or “The Chronicles of Narnia” — it’s “Fight Club.”

Going on in greater detail:

Human beings are totally corrupted by original sin and predestined for heaven or hell, no matter their earthly conduct. We all deserve eternal damnation, but God, in his inscrutable mercy, has granted the grace of salvation to an elect few. While John Calvin’s 16th-century doctrines have deep roots in Christian tradition, they strike many modern evangelicals as nonsensical and even un-Christian. If predestination is true, they argue, then there is no point in missions to the unsaved or in leading a godly life. And some babies who die in infancy — if God placed them among the reprobate — go straight to hell with the rest of the damned, to “glorify his name by their own destruction,” as Calvin wrote. Since the early 19th century, most evangelicals have preferred a theology that stresses the believer’s free decision to accept God’s grace. To be born again is a choice God wants you to make; if you so choose, Jesus will be your personal friend.

None of this, of course, is really all that radical if you look at it from a Reformed perspective. Another reason why I don't get Protestants. Apparently, none of the Reformers knew what the hell they were doing, so we're left at the mercy of the next innovative soul to get things right. But I digress:

Most people who attend Mars Hill do not see themselves as theological radicals. Mark Driscoll is just “Pastor Mark,” not the New Calvinist warrior demonized on evangelical and liberal blogs. Yet while some initially come for mundane reasons — their friends attend; they like the music — the Calvinist theology is often the glue that keeps them in their seats. They call the preaching “authentic” and “true to life.” Traditional evangelical theology falls apart in the face of real tragedy, says the 20-year-old Brett Harris, who runs an evangelical teen blog with his twin brother, Alex. Reducing God to a projection of our own wishes trivializes divine sovereignty and fails to explain how both good and evil have a place in the divine plan. “There are plenty of comfortable people who can say, ‘God’s on my side,’ ” Harris says. “But they couldn’t turn around and say, ‘God gave me cancer.’

It's not Catholic, but I find this whole thing very refreshing. I've had a number of Protestants over the last few years tell me in exact or so many words that "Theology is dead." In fact, theology is a bad thing because it "gets in the way" of a person's relationship with God. This would have sounded very strange to the Reformers indeed. However, if you look at most evangelical communities, I can't argue. Or consider the average Joel Osteen presentation. Or, shifting settings again, think of your typical Pentecostal group. One's experience, to different levels, swallows up one's intellect.

Mr. Driscoll seems to be challenging that and asking people to actually consider the logical extensions of their ideas. For that, I applaud him. If he continues down this road, we may very well find him following the trail of, say, Scott Hahn or Marcus Grodi.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sometimes, I Wish the Conspiracies Were True

This is from what seems to be an SDA website called The Trumpet. Most of my friends know that I am a huge fan of whackjob conspiracy theories. Sometimes, though, they strike a real chord other than irrepressible laughter. Such is the case with this masterful work by Mr. Ron Fraser.

So, in case you didn't know, here are some of the downright scandalous items that our current Vicar of Christ is planning:

As Benedict XVI advances toward completing his fourth year in office, he continues to impress with “the surprises of a conservative” as he steadily continues on his unswerving course toward his ultimate goal of uniting Europe under the crusading cross of the religion of Rome. The underlying theme is his crusade for Roman Catholicism to become the singular great moral and spiritual force in the world.


Ever the master diplomat, Benedict set out early in his pontificate to wage a cultural war on four broad fronts: the complete eradication of post-Vatican ii liberalism from the Catholic priesthood; the defense and the revival of Europe’s Catholic heritage in a drive for its dominance over secularism; the rollback of Muslim penetration of Europe; the war against communized pagan societies that resist the church’s global crusade for the universal conversion of mankind to the dogma of Catholicism.


No doubt with the technology the Vatican now has at its disposal, Benedict went on to state that the spirit of that which he termed the church’s missionary impulse, the gospel according to Rome, “must be proclaimed from the rooftops, to the ends of the Earth.” That is crusading language that has to stick in the craw of every competing religionist who espouses a gospel other than that of Rome, especially Islamist crusaders and those secularists who increasingly find themselves fighting on the back foot to resist the Vatican’s steady incursion into European society.

No sure how much of an incursion there has been, but we can certainly hope for that.

Mr. Fraser mixes a bunch of other stuff that goes slightly far afield, tying together Catholic social doctrine, the Holy Roman Empire, the recent global economic problems, the End of Days, and the Pope's next encyclical. Some of it makes sense. Most serves as a bad punchline. However, the best part is the alarmism associated with the above snippets, as though this sort of stance is some kind of secret or something that no other pope has ever thought about.

Coming soon- Next president vows to resolve nation's economic woes! War breaks out in Middle East! Francisco Franco Still Dead!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

She was asking God to not let me die in Iraq.

Dear God, My Daddy is a very good Daddy. Please remember to keep him safe for me. Love, Alex.

This from the blog of NDNation's indiana_irish, a soldier who deserves our thanks and prayers. Take a look.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Turks Trying to Exterminate the Orthodox Church

You'd think we would have gotten used to that kind of headline over the last millenium or so. But it's still going on. Not in the sort of graphically violent ways that we're seeing in Iraq and India, but by attrition and political maneuvering.

Per AsiaNews:

"We will never permit tricks or the vagaries of history to wipe us out from this land": the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, has commented on the report of the Turkish foreign ministry, which denigrates the "minority" presence of the Greek Orthodox community in Turkey, and refuses to recognize the "ecumenical" character of the ancient patriarchate.

Presiding over the reopening of the church dedicated to Saints Constantine and Helena in the Bozakoy neighborhood in Istanbul, Bartholomew I highlighted for the faithful present that "we are not finished, or hopeless." And recalling the great battle of Greek king Leonides against Xerxes of Persia, he added: "we will never abandon our Thermopylae."

It seems that the Turkish foreign ministry is trying to make the patriarchate "disappear," continuing to call Bartholomew I "the patriarch of Fanar [editor's note: the neighborhood where the patriarch resides]," refusing to use the title "ecumenical" and acknowledging only that he has spiritual responsibility for the domestic Greek minority, and not for the Orthodox communities connected to Constantinople. It also seems almost a concession from above to accept that Bartholomew I uses the title "ecumenical" abroad. All of this has an impact on the juridical status of the patriarchate, on its freedom to travel abroad, and to host foreign delegations in Turkey.

And for those who aren't paying attention, this could be hugely affected by what goes down in Russia with the selection of their new patriarch. It's well-known that Russia has, in the past, licked its chops over the potential demise of Constantinople. If the Turks get their way, the keys to the Eastern kingdom will fall to Moscow (in many ways they already have). Maybe this will be the sorts of pressure needed to bring Patriarch Bartholomew back into the fold. I don't know, but the situation bears a lot more watching than it's getting.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

On the good fortune of lengthy dying

I note that today, Fr. Richard Neuhaus has died. I met him once, but that's of no matter. He was extremely fortunate to go through the process of dying twice. I say fortunate, because a slow death can be a very good thing. This was pointed out to me recently by an elderly woman in my parish who remarked that some of her friends hope for a quick death: "Not me," she said. "I want to linger so that I can repent and do penance!"

This is a good way to look at it. Given what's at stake in every death, the eternal destiny of a human soul, it's a good thing to take some time.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Knack of Pope Benedict

If you've ever read any of the Alvin Maker books by Orson Scott Card (and I don't recommend that any do so; Ender's Game, et seq are much better), you might be familiar with his use of the term "knack." Think of it as a sort of magical talent. I am beginning to think that Pope Benedict has such an ability. It is the ability to (pardon my language) piss people off.

The existence of this ability was pretty clear even before he ascended the Throne of St. Peter. Dropping words like "dictatorship of relativism" made a lot of the heretics and secular whackjobs cringe at the thought of such a guy as pope. As if he would be the first of this kind. Anyways, then you had stuff like Regensburg, his discussion of pro-abortion politicians, etc. It's been a busy couple of years, and it seems like most of it has been spent rousing anger of one sort or another.

And, as reported by The Washington Times and Damian Thompson, he can't seem to stop himself. This time, it seems that Pope Benedict is a hate-mongering homophobe. In a nutshell:

The pope called for a “human ecology” - a serious, sustained effort to protect not only the environment, but fragile social relations between men and women: “The tropical forests do deserve our protection. But man, as a creature, does not deserve any less.”

The response to this statement, as mentioned in the Times piece, was just the sort of rational, measured debate that we've come to expect from the Holy Fathers adversaries:

The pontiff's statements were immediately attacked by the pro-homosexual lobby and its liberal media allies. Rev. Sharon Ferguson, chief executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, told Britain's venerable newspaper, The Times, that the pope's comments were “totally irresponsible and unacceptable in any shape or form.”

”It is comments like that that justify homophobic bullying that goes on in schools and it is comments like that that justify gay-bashing,” she said. “There are still so many instances of people being killed around the world, including in Western society, purely and simply because of their sexual orientation or their gender identity.”

She added: “When you have religious leaders like that making that sort of statement, then followers feel they are justified in behaving in an aggressive and violent way because they feel that they are doing God's work in ridding the world of these people.”

In other words, according to Ms. Ferguson, Pope Benedict's comments pave the way not only for widespread hate crimes and gay-bashing, but the genocidal eradication of homosexuals. The anti-Catholic left views the Holy Father as a crypto fascist whose real aim is to keep the church in the Dark Ages.

”The Prada Papa Ratzi opens his trap again, and the homophobia stinks like trash piled up during a New York City garbage strike,” writes Pam Spaulding, a prominent American lesbian blogger.

I think we are coming to something of a watershed point in the Church's clash with modernity. It seems more and more that the opposition is conceding the intellectual high ground. There really aren't any attempts to take Pope Benedict on with anything that resembles intelligence. Emotional hysteria and abuse are the new weapons of choice. Of course, the Vicar of Christ is yelled at for being a backwards-thinking jerk, but nobody is bothering to back up their polemic. He's wrong because they said so, and that's that.

Thompson makes an even better point. The opposition isn't even paying attention anymore. Regarding homosexuality, he's at a loss to find it brought up in the Pope's speech:

Perhaps that was because Benedict himself didn't refer to it. On the other hand, he does say that humanity needs saving from "outmoded metaphysics" that blur the distinction between men and women. The destruction of traditional heterosexual relations is part of the wider destruction of God's creation.

The liberals will hate that juxtaposition. In the view of the secular world, and more than a few Tabletistas, "saving the planet" has become an alternative or successor project to the defence of the family. Pope Benedict has had the nerve to argue, in effect, that marriage is yet another aspect of the planet that needs saving.

I would suggest that they hate it because such a position would force them into coming up with ideas rather than insults. Metaphysics are pretty much dead for the materialist anyway. Why bother, right?

Going back to the Times, we start getting the real picture:

The debate about same-sex marriage has nothing to do with “gay rights.” Homosexuals are free to do anything they like in the privacy of their bedrooms. The relentless push for gay marriage is not about tolerance, but the legitimization of homosexual behavior - to place it beyond the boundaries of moral disapproval and social ostracism. To accomplish this, the liberal elite seek to marginalize the great traditional religions, especially Christendom's most powerful defender, the Catholic Church.

Cuts right to the quick. What "rights"? Where do these "rights" come from? We've discussed this strange thinking here before. Rights are the smokescreen to cover the deeper point which is strictly cultural.

Thompson wraps up all the outrage quite nicely:

So it boils down to this, really. Pope Catholic, shock horror. Admittedly, the shock and the horror are real. But that's Catholicism for you: a sign of contradiction.

I'm sure we'll see more of this same in 2009. Pope Benedict ticking people off all over the globe. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

NJ Methodists Forced to Permit Gay Civil Unions On Its Property

Per FoxNews:

A church group that owns beachfront property discriminated against a lesbian couple by not allowing them to rent the locale for their civil union ceremony, a New Jersey department ruled Monday in a case that has become a flash point in the nation's gay rights battle.

The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights said its investigation found that the refusal of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association to rent the oceanfront spot to the couple for their same-sex union in March 2007 violated the public accommodation provisions of the state's Law Against Discrimination.

While the ruling is decisively in favor of the couple, Harriet Bernstein and Luisa Paster, it does not end the case. An administrative law judge still must decide on a remedy for the parties.
"What this case has always been about from my clients' perspective has been equality," said Larry Lustberg, the lawyer for the couple. He said they will seek an order that requires the pavilion to be "open to all on an equal basis."

Brian Raum, a lawyer for the Alliance Defense Fund, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based group that represents the Methodist organization, Camp Meeting Association, said his clients would keep pushing back against being forced to allow civil unions on the property.

Secularism strikes again. You can chalk this up to a couple of different things, I suppose. One, it could be attributed to the same judicial disease I mentioned a few days ago where judges (including ALJs) decide to re-invent the meanings of words. In this case, the ALJ decided to re-write the 1st Amendment of the Constitution to delete the "Free Exercise" clause. Not that it means much anymore anyway. Plenty of this buffoon's ilk have been chipping away at free exercise for years. This is just one more drop in the bucket.

You could also, and more meaningfully, ascribe this to a rejection of the Social Kingship of Christ called for in Quas Primas. This is what happens in secular states, and popes have been warning about it for a couple of centuries now. Of course, the question now is how long until a Catholic church is forced into the same position. Or forced to "ordain" a woman as a priest due to our "discriminationatory" all-male priesthood. It's coming, friends. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But soon.

Be prepared.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Speaking of Driving Out the Presence of Evil . . .

Planned Parenthood Out of Texas Panhandle

In 1997, Planned Parenthood operated 19 clinics in the Texas Panhandle. As of Jan. 1, 2009, the local affiliate with its two remaining clinics will change names and sever ties with the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

(Respect Life Coordinator Rita )Diller and Bishop (John) Yanta made defeating Planned Parenthood the focal point of their efforts at the diocesan Respect Life offices. They worked with Sedlak and American Life League in implementing the STOPP plan to shut down the organization.

"As the result of our 23 years of directly confronting Planned Parenthood, STOPP has developed a plan of action that is closing Planned Parenthoods across the nation," Sedlak said. "Our plan needs local activists to do the hard work of implementing it in a consistent and persistent manner until victory is won. The dedicated people of the Texas Panhandle did just that and God has granted this victory."

Now if we can just change "Texas Panhandle" to "Business," we'll really have something to celebrate.

Be there. Every week.

Re: Abortion- We Can Make a Difference

Don't ever think otherwise. If you ever doubt, read and re-read this story from the NCRegister.

When pro-life messages and actions are consistent and regular, pro-life fruits are sweet and abundant. The 4 1/2-year-old parish of St. Helena of the True Cross of Jesus Catholic Church in Corpus Christi, Texas, is seeing several ripen.

Every Tuesday, in numbers too big to ignore, parishioners plant themselves in front of the city’s one remaining abortion business. They pray the Rosary and offer counseling. Led by their pastor, Father James Farfaglia, they’ve been at it for nearly two years.

Thanks to the work of Bishop Emeritus Rene Gracida, along with a very active chapter of Operation Rescue, three of the city’s four abortion businesses had closed by the time the St. Helena group got a full head of steam. Only one remained. On Jan. 22, 2007, after Father Farfaglia finished the Rosary during the annual diocesan Roe v. Wade protest at this lone business, he asked parishioner and longtime pro-life worker Ray Reeves: What next?

“Be here,” Reeves said assuredly, “every week.”

Father Farfaglia and Reeves calculate that, at the start of these Tuesday vigils, between 40 and 50 abortions — possibly as many as 75 — were being carried out each week. Now, they estimate, the business is down to less than 20.

If there is a mill where you are, please consider these words. Be there. Every week.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Wisdom From the Atheist

"If you believe that there's a heaven and hell, and that people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think that it's not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward ... - how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible, and not tell them that?"

Penn Jillette

Bravo, Mr. Jillette. I doubt anyone could have said it better.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Slavery is Making a Comeback.

In the US. This is a pretty bad story about what seems to be a common practice among Africans coming to America. They are bringing their child slaves (ahem, maids) with them. This is going to be an interesting conflict, I think. Considering all the pushes we are seeing for cultural accommodations for our immigrants, not to mention the willingness of certain Supreme Court justices to examine other nations' laws to rule upon our own, I will not be surprised if this sort of arrangement is gradually accepted.

To hell with that 13th Amendment stuff. After all, the Constitution is a "living document," and the meaning of the words are dynamic, rather than static. Or maybe it's all in the penumbras. Whatever insane rationalization is used, I have a bad feeling that that is where this is headed.

The idiocy of the Roman Rite

My wife went to church this morning to "fulfill her obligation", and so went to the local Roman church, only to discover that, in Chicago, Epiphany happens on January 4 instead of January 6.

This is idiotic.

Christianity demands a total transformation of life from the old way to the new. In baptism, we die with Christ so as to live with him. No area of our lives is supposed to be exempt. But how can this be believed, when the Church tells us we needn't mark the proper days of the feasts? If we can make accommodations to the sacred calendar, why not make accommodations in one's moral life?

Someday maybe I'll write a paper on the primacy of the liturgical over the moral. As it is, let me respond to this with a gruff "Humbug!"

Happy New Year to Everyone!