29 November 2008

The Ten-Year Solution to War

We all know some Obama Catholics who would think that this is a splendid idea! In fact, given the published arguments of some Obama Catholics, I'm not sure how they would distinguish their opposition to outlawing abortion in favor of reducing the number of abortions with the solution these folks have come up with.

This solution fits all the moral criteria that any modernist utilitarian Catholic would worship:

1). It's done by consensus of the "womenfolk," so it must be wise.
2). It's done to "reduce the number of killings in the future."
3). It's death--someone elses death--as a quick and easy solution to a complex problem.
4). It's an evil done with the good intention of preventing future inconveniences.
5). It's done in the name of peace and justice.
6). It's done in good conscience, no doubt.
7). We should not judge out of respect for cultural differences (see comments on the article).
8). Something about poverty, women's health, condoms. . .
9). Besides George W. Bush is evil.
10). The Pope is out of touch with mainstream American Catholics, so it's OK to ignore him.

Truly, this is a frightening world we live in. . .

Vampire Queen to Catholic (again)

Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession, Anne Rice.

It's old news now. Anne Rice--vampire queen, Goth diva, gay icon--has returned to Mother Church. Her book, Called Out of Darkness, chronicles her journey back to the Church after years of wandering low and lower in the wastes of atheism, radical politics, neo-pagan fantasy, and the blackness forest of all--grief.

I won't spoil the book by answering the Big Question--what happened to bring her back? I will tell you how God lured her back. He used the author's sacramental imagination. He used the stuff of creation and the art of His greatest love, man, to seduce our vampire queen back into the fold.

Rice goes into some detail when describing how the last few occult books lingered in her mind as pseudo-Christian tales of redemption. But the spark that lit the fire of the Holy Spirit in her was that human faculty that Augustine and Aquinas argue is vital to art: memory. She remembered her Catholic upbringing. She remembered the sisters. Her high school. The Mass before the Council. She remembered the Baltimore Catechism, the devotionals, the sacramentals, and all the things whose absence now left her without anchor or bearing.

She came back and now professes a love for Christ. And here's where things get muddled for our goth diva. She comes back to the Church but not to the fullness of the faith. She comes back to her pre-Vatican Two Catholic cultural identity but not to the difficult parts of being a Catholic. She embraces confession, the Mass, the Holy Father. She embraces all those parts of being Catholic that make being Catholic something special in the eyes of the world. What she has not embraced quite yet are those parts of the Catholic faith that the make us look like Old World peasants in the eyes of our WASPY neighbors: opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage, all male priesthood, etc. If one wanted to be cynical, one might point out that our vampire queen has embraced just enough of the Catholic faith to seem weird among her NYC cocktail party friends but not enough to get her booted off the circuit list as an intolerant right-wing freak. That would be cynical.

Here's what I'm very happy about: Anne Rice has returned to the Church. Like any of us she will likely spend some time figuring out how to embrace the Whole Truth of the Faith without losing herself in a bizarre kind of Romish fundamentalism. I think this book is the very first step among many steps she will make to come to the fullness of the faith.

I will recommend the book as a great boost for anyone whose faith in God's Self-revelation in His creation is lagging. To anyone who needs to hear that someone from the Bad Ole Days before the Glorious Revolution of 1965 has been saved from the wreck that their generation has made of the Church since 1965. The book is very readable, chatty almost, beautiful in places, and even prayerful. We can't overlook Rice's reluctance to embrace the fullness of the Church's moral teachings, but we can rejoice that now that she's one of us again, she has a much better chance of finding that oh-so-narrow, oh-so-long road to holiness.

28 November 2008


Random questions. . .

1). What is your thesis about?

Very, very broadly: I will be researching and writing on the medieval debates about the temporal nature of creation and how these debates might help cosmologists today better understand how to talk about their theories of the origins of the universe in philosophical/theological terms. All cosmologies have philosophical/theological implications. More often than not, the scientists composing these theories have little or no philosophical/theological training, so they fail to grasp how their theories work or do not work when discussing existential or theological questions. Very often, scientists simply assume that the modern western scientific worldview is all-encompassing and omni-explanatory. In other words, they are reductionists, reducing everything to material processes signifed by mathematics. Whatever is not immediately reducible in this way is assumed to be either non-existent or existent in such a way that current technology cannot measure it. Now, this reductionist attitude is widespread but not wholly controlling in the scientific world. Lots of scientists embrace a healthy spiritual view of the universe and struggle to understand all that is with various non-materialistic theories, or theories that do not necessarily exclude the possibility of non-materially existing things. These are the scientists I want to talk to!

2. Did you ever get a response to the email you sent the DLC?

No, I never received a response. This question refers to a post earlier this month about the Dominican Leadership Conference's document on social justice, Call to Action. Evidence surfaced that the OP social justice promoters discussed the inclusion of our opposition to abortion in the document but decided against it for reasons that none too few of us think are dubious.

3. Response to a comment.

Earlier this morning I received a comment on this post via email that I initially deleted b/c it was posted anonymously. I'm posting it here b/c it is a perfect example of what I call "hit and run" commenting.

Posts like this remind me of the reason why I don't read Catholic blogs - of either the left or of the right, for there really isn't anything to choose between. Both are simply given over to the passions.

I have known holy Dominicans, but if this is the future of the Order, then may God have mercy on us all.

Note the following features: 1) the insincere attempt to establish credibility by confessing a lack of editorial bias ("either the left or the right"); 2) the know-nothing leveling of the left and right ("there really isn't anything to choose between"); 3) the stereotyping of all Catholic blogs as unworthy of attention b/c they are passionate (speaking of passions, that's hardly a rational conclusion); 4) another attempt at establishing credibility ("I have known holy Dominicans") and by implication, "You ain't one of them, Fr. Philip!"; and 5) a hasty judgment made based on one post on one blog run by one unholy Dominican ("if this is the future. . .God have mercy. . .").

Really, the interesting part of this for me is the assumption made by the commenter that holiness seems to somehow entail niceness or diplomacy. It certainly entails charity but charity is not charity if it is not also true. Charity is not equivalent to being sweet or polite. Sometimes the most loving thing you can do for someone is kick their rear-end. For a charitable rebuke to be spoiled, it must be shown to have been given out of ill will. Unless this commenter has better access to my motives than I do, I can't think why he/she would find the truth I've expressed in that post at all uncharitable.

The several attempts at establishing credibility to comment are laughable. If you want your observations to be taken seriously, resend the comment with your real name on it. Otherwise, you're just a hit and run ghost wailing "foul!" on the sidelines.

4. What are your summer 2009 plans? Can you come be our chaplain/retreat director/pastor, etc.?

The academic year here ends the last week of June. I will spend a week in St Louis at a preaching conference and then, I hope, head down to Irving to teach second term summer classes at the University of Dallas. This will help my 2009-2010 budget; give me time to work on my dissertation using UD's and SMU's libraries; get my books out of storage and shipped to Rome; and just generally reconnect and relax a little. Then I will spend some time with the Parentals in MS. Visit friends. Go on retreat. I will head back to Rome first week of October. So, yes, there is some time in there where I could give a talk or direct a retreat. But I need to firm up my schedule before committing to anything.

27 November 2008

New Arrivals...and some news

Some of you have asked whether or not the books you purchased for me have arrived. . .I've received books from the following benefactors in the last two weeks:

Taryn K. (1), William M. (1), Elizabeth R. (1), Anita S. (1), Martha L. (3), Lynn C.(1), Alice B. (1), and Kevin H. (1).

Thank You notes have either been dispatched or will be dispatched today!

I've already been warned by the Roman vets here that postal service around this time of year is dreadful. . .packages get delivered months after they are sent or lost forever.

Over the Christmas break, I will be outlining my license thesis and praying all the while for all my book benefactors. Since study is a form of prayer for Dominicans, you will all be placed before St. Thomas Aquinas in my prayer and his intercession invoked on your behalf.
NEWS: I briefly discussed my thesis topic with the philosophy dean. He nodded approval and noted that the topic is very large for a license thesis. I promised to focus it more. He said, "Use the license thesis as the first chapter of your doctoral dissertation."

Looks like I will be writing another doctoral dissertation. . .

26 November 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

A very Happy Thanksgiving to all of my readers in the U.S.A.!

My readers, commenters, critics, book benefactors, prayer warriors (oh-rah!), spiritual mothers/fathers, spiritual son/daughters, all those who help to keep me on the straight and narrow and help to push and pull me through that %$#@ eye of the needle--you are all on the top of my list of those for whom I am deeply grateful!

Also on my list of those for whom I am grateful, all of those professors in my long academic history who have endured my procrastination, my weird mood swings in theory and focus, my often-time inexplicably bizarre writing style, my monkey-mind antics--Ann F.-W., (The Dissertation Director), Ellen G., Doug R., Deborah B., Chris F., Barry H., Michael M., Rick P., Jean DeB., Pat W., Denis M., Simon G., and many others who would probably rather just forget the whole nasty business!

On a list all her own is my Italian language teacher, Sabina! For her good cheer, determination, patience, and her willingness to lie to my face and tell me what a good Italian student I am, I give God thanks!

And on a list all to themselves are Mom & Pop, Andy & Marilyn, Megan & Melanie, Patrick H., Perry S., Michael K., and Rudy B. . . .those who know me and love me in spite of knowing me so well.

Being grateful builds humility.
Humility is necessary for prayer.
Prayer is the best way to God.
God is the Source of our blessings.
Therefore, bless God with your gratitude!

Here's a list of great poems for gratitude. . .

Fr. Philip, OP

24 November 2008

Dissenters "Leaping Forward" Into Deeper Irrelevance

Aging Hippie Dinosaur Alert!!!

Most of the dissident "Catholic" groups in the U.S. are planning a gathering in 2011 to stamp their feet and publicly pout because the Evil-Phallocentric-Celibate Hierarchy of Roman Catholic Church has repeatedly refused their demands to ignore Christ and turn his Church into the world's largest group-therapy session.

Here's what I found:

from a newsletter sent to ARCC members on Friday Professor Swidler writes:

The Reform Movement of the Catholic Church in America — in the spirit of Vatican II [WARNING!!! This guy is seeing ghosts! The actual Spirit of Vatican Two is the Holy Spirit who founded the Church on the Rock of Peter and his successors, the Popes.]— is on the cusp of a "Great Leap Forward", to borrow a phrase from Mao [Yes. You read that correctly. This "Catholic" is quoting Mao, the genocidal commie dictator of China, a man who destroyed over 5,000 years of Chinese history and culture in a decade, not to mention millions of lives. . .go no further in looking for the spiritual inspiration of this conference.] ARCC has for several years been promoting the idea of all the major Catholic Reform groups in the U.S. joining together in an American Catholic Council to move our common agenda forward. That Great Leap Forward is now being launched! [Google "great leap forward" and read about how Mao's little plan for economic and political reform worked for the Chinese. . .hint: it threw China back into the middles ages, straving millions, ruining whole industries, and collapsing the nation's economy]. The largest of the American Catholic Reform organizations– Call to Action and Voice of the Faithful–are on board, along with, of course, ARCC, and others. [On board and ready to sink the Church in the U.S.!]

Professor Swidler goes on to outline four major points that have been agreed upon in the discussions that have taken place at the leadership levels of the reform organisations. They are:

1. The basic Resources of the American Catholic Council are the documents of Vatican II [interpreted according to the ghost that this guy claims to see on occasion, of course] and the processes and documents of the 1976 Call To Action led by the National Council of Bishops and involving massive numbers of laity, religious, and priests. [CTA persistent citation of the NCCB as support for its dissent is a farce. Yes, initially, the bishops did endorse the 1976 CTA meeting, but quickly withdrew and repudiated the whole thing b/c the process was hijacked by Maoist moonbats like Swindler here. Again, let a google search show you the way.]

2. The major focus will be on church governance. None of the diverse concerns of the various U.S. Catholic reform organizations will be attainable unless there are structural means to work toward their implementation. That means, minimally, striving for Catholic Church decision-making structures that are built on the democratic principles of accountability, transparency, representativeness, and due process of law. [Christ didn't found a democratic church for a reason. . .that reason? Check out the Episcopal Church in its current state and tell me if that's what you want the Catholic Church to look like. The real goal here, of course, is not democratization but the elimination of the RCC as a teacher of the objective truth of the gospel. Once the Nicene Creed is up for majority vote, the Church as Christ found it loses all authority to oppose the pelvic politics of the aging Baby Boomers.]

3. There will be the widest possible solicitation of input from all levels of Catholics around the country [Yea, right. I bet that input will not include orthodox believers. Much like the '76 CTA fiasco, the panels, podiums, polls will be stacked with dissenters and heretics.] Techniques that have already been discussed include national public hearings (as was done in 1976), approaches to parish organizations as well as organizations of laity, religious, and clergy, internet and other electronic means. Concrete suggestions in this area are especially solicited from you! [And we'll even consider them if they neatly fit into our pre-baked notion of what counts as truth from our side of the bonfire!]

4. The initial aim will be the coming together of thousands of chosen delegates and interested Catholics from around the country in an American Catholic Council in the year 2011. [Hold your nose! This one is gonna stink. Of course, I have to wonder how many of these AHD will still be with us in body come 2011.]

Fair Warning: This part is a rant. . .

Go to bed tonight giving God thanks that most of the young men in our nation's seminaries are orthodox Catholics. Give Him thanks for the thriving orders of orthodox sisters and brothers and the up and coming ranks of educated lay folks who have wised up and shown Sr. Moonbat and Fr. Rainbow to the door of their classrooms.

This dissident circus is one of many "last gasps" of a revolutionary generation in the Church that has failed to knock the Church off her Rock. Expect more these public temper tantrums before they finally hang up their felt banners, their tie-dye vestments, and douse the coals of the Spirit of Vatican Two Peace Bong.

Though they have failed to destroy the Church from the root, they have done wonders for the Enemy along the way. They have driven millions out of the Church; vandalized the Mass and the other sacraments; emptied the seminaries and convents; radicalized Catholic universities against the Church; raised at least two generations of Catholics who know next to nothing about their own faith; ushered in a sexualized spirituality that allowed, encouraged, and then covered up the molestation scandal; created a fake shortage of priests by excluding orthodox vocations on ideological grounds; gave us a Catholic electorate so confused morally that they voted in huge numbers for the most extreme supporter of baby killing ever to run for public office in this country.

Rather than gathering to celebrate their alleged "wisdom" these ego-manical clowns should be gathering to offer this country's Catholics an apology for the disaster that their narcissistic experimentation and dissent has left my generation and those younger to clean up. CTA, VOTF, etc. are little more than organized swarms of spiritual leeches, sucking the life from the Church for no other reason than that the Church will not yield to their tantrums.

There is hope, brothers and sister. I give you the Tick-Tick Solution to our Generation Narcissus problem: "ticktockticktockticktock. . . ."

(And please spare me the finger-wagging in the comboxes about how we are supposed to love one another. . .I am well aware of that. . .I am also aware that very often "being polite in matters of politics and religion" is little more than a cowardly excuse for keeping quiet so that the dinner party invitations keep coming. . .not a big concern of mine. Time to speak truth to lies.)