04 March 2010

New seminar at U.D.

Great news!

Instead of teaching Western Theological Tradition at U.D. this summer, I will be teaching a seminar on Religion & Science.  It will be cross-listed as an undergrad and grad evening class.

Sharpen those pencils, kiddies!

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Coffee Bowl Browsing

Can climate science restore its rep after the Global Warming Hoax?  I hope so.

Satanic sects working in the Vatican?  Of course, there are.  Satan isn't stupid; he goes where the work is. 

Catholic campus ministries are the key to reforming the Church in the U.S.  Long a stronghold of dissidents, liturgical flakes, and misfit ministers, campus ministry is slowly becoming The Place for building a solid foundation for orthodox Church reform.

On the dangers of instant communication via Facebook and Twitter:  a false rumor that John Roberts is resigning from the Supreme Court.  Wireless internet connections and laptops in class pose a pedagogical dilemma for profs.  The easy availability of texts on-line vs. the temptation to conduct private conservations.  I hate to tell students not to use their laptops in class, but they can't seem to resist being distracted by them.

Interesting bit of rhetorical "Duh-ism" from the leftist Dutch media.  A right-wing political party that polls second place is labeled "a fringe party."  That tells you who's really on the fringe.

Wow. . .someone give this guy a drink before he explodes!

12 Biggest Rip-offs in America.  All-you-can-eat buffets are included in the list.  Obviously, they've never gone to a buffet with me and my friends!

Stumped for the right thing to say in an award moment?  Confronted with the need for a trite saying that doesn't commit you to taking action?  Use the Cliche Finder!

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Sabers UP!

Think of the deepest place in the Ole Confederacy and you think of the Magnolia State!  Mississippi is also known for being the poorest, least educated, fattest, and most religious state in the Union. 

Despite these less than congratulatory superlatives, Mississippi has also managed in her poverty, obesity, and ignorance to produce Wm. Faulkner, B.B. King, Elvis Presley, Oprah Winfrey, Tennessee Williams, Eudora Welty, Jimmy Buffet, Richard Ford, Muddy Waters, Richard Wright and a whole bushel basket of other extraordinary people. 

One of these extraordinary people died recently--novelist, short story writer, and teacher, Barry Hannah

OXFORD, Miss. – An inspiration and mentor to a generation of young American writers, acclaimed Mississippi author Barry Hannah, 67, died Monday at his home. He was the writer-in-residence at the University of Mississippi and director of its Master of Fine Arts in creative writing program.

Barry Hannah accepts his award as a Distinguished Faculty Fellow from the College of Liberal Arts in 2002. UM photo by Robert Jordan.

Hannah won numerous awards and international recognition. He was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in fiction for his short story collection "High Lonesome" (1996). His first published novel, "Geronimo Rex" (1972), won the William Faulkner Prize for writing and earned him a nomination for the National Book Award. 

In 1987, I took a graduate creative writing class with Barry.  It was--to say the least--an eye-opening experience. 

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03 March 2010

Coffee Bowl Browsing (Smiley Edition)

Muslim preacher finds Christ in the Orthodox Church!  (H/T: Mark Shea)

Pride and PrejudiceEmoticon Edition.

Pope Benedict XVI will consecrate Barcelona's Sagrada Familia Cathedral.  I visited this architectural marvel in the summer of 2006.  Unfortunately, the stairs leading to the higher reaches of the church were designed and built for really skinny hobbits.  Needless to say, I stayed downstairs.

Better than Prozac, better than therapy, better than ice cream:  Laughing Baby!

For all you chemist-geeks out there:  the Human Ingredient Tee-Shirt.

Drumming up business with rocks and paint.  Unethical but funny.

For men only:  Female to Male translation.

Be really, really sure that you've heard. . .really sure.

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More on Mary, Co-redemptrix

NB.  The mention of the conference on the proposed Fifth Marian Dogma generated some emails.  I thought I'd repost this piece from a year ago:


In his amazingly clear explication in the role of the Blessed Virgin's compassion and sorrow in salvation history, The Foot of the Cross Or, The Sorrows of Mary, English theologian, Fr. Frederick W. Faber, argues for the use of the title, "Co-Redemptress" when referring to Mary's contribution to Christ's unique sacrifice for our sins. He argues that the title must be understood in the context of the following five theological facts:

1) Our Blessed Lord is the sole Redeemer of the world in the true and proper sense of the word and in this sense no creature whatsoever shares the honour with Him neither can it be said of Him without impiety that He is co redeemer with Mary

2) In a secondary dependent sense and by participation all the elect co-operate with our Lord in the redemption of the world

3) In the same sense but in a degree to which no others approach our Blessed Lady co-operated with Him in the redemption of the world

4) Besides this and independent of her dolours she co-operated in it in a sense and after a manner in which no other creatures did or could

5) Furthermore by her dolours she co-operated in the redemption of the world in a separate and peculiar way separate and peculiar not only as regards the co-operation of the elect but also as regards her own other co-operation independently of the dolours.

Could not be clearer or more precise.

BTW, this book was written in the late 1840's and published in 1858. And Fr. Faber was an Anglican priest before converting to the Church under Cardinal Newman's tutelage. He was also a founding member of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in London, the famous "Bromption Oratory."

Also, check out this post for further information and links:  Mary, Co-redemptrix?

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Scam, scam, go away!

Walking to and from French class this afternoon, I was accosted by no fewer than four scam artists.

Beggars are a common sight in Rome, but they tend to stay close to churches and busy shopping areas.  

The scam artists are much bolder and much, much more creative.  My guess is that the big American in his full Dominican habit is just too tempting a target to ignore.  I tried "No parlato Italiano," but they just switch to broken English and continue the scam. 

Today's most creative:  the decently dressed old lady parked in front of an ATM who flashes an obviously fake bank card and tries to convince you that the ATM is broken.  She just needs four euro!  Her scam falls apart when a young man walks up to the machine and gets his cash.  Oops.


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Coffee Bowl Browsing

That "grassroots" liberal-latte Coffee Party is anything but grassroots. . .how did the NYT miss such the connection?  Or rather, why didn't they report the connection?  

Atheists will trade you a Bible for p0rn!  No wonder their nihilistic ideology is so incredibility popular worldwide.

Archbishop Wuerl of D.C. says that the archdiocese "will be in compliance" with new laws requiring organizations that receive city funds to provide benefits to their employees in SSM.  This decision deserves very close scrutiny.

Update:  the D.C. archdiocese will comply with the new SSM laws by not offering spousal benefits to  new employees.  Ahhhhh, the good fruits of imposed equality.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts denies a petition to stay the enactment of the D.C. SSM law.  His reasoning is based on his philosophy of judicial restraint not on the merits of the law.

Ole Miss to replace Colonel Reb mascot with Admiral Ackbar?  I was a freshman at Ole Miss in 1982 when a black cheerleader refused to use the Confederate flag at football games.  The campus was in racial turmoil the whole academic year.

Fr. Z. puts the smackdown on the silly (and illicit) practice of replacing Holy Water with sand during Lent.  If your pastor is allowing this, print off the notice from the Vatican and send it to him.  Consider it a penance.

Conference in Rome on the fifth Marian dogma:  Mary, co-Redemptrix.  If this idea were declared dogma by BXVI as it is stated in the supporting material, I see no theological problems with it.  The dogma would state what the Church has always taught:  Mary, in her assent to being the Mother of God and her suffering at the cross, cooperated in our redemption.  To the degree that each of us follows Christ to the cross, we too are "co-redeemers" in our salvation.  The title "co-Redemptrix" in no way indicates that Mary is a redeemer equal to Christ. 

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01 March 2010

Avoiding status drama

2nd Week of Lent: Readings
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
SS. Domenico e Sisto, Roma

One of the favorite hobbies of the western media is a game called “Gotcha!” When a politician or church leader or some other public figure gives an interview or press conference, the media folks herd around and poke at this person in the hope that he or she will make a mistake by saying something stupid, or something insulting or petty. Perhaps the only version of the Gotcha game that the media love more is the one where a public figure is caught behaving in a way that contradicts his stated principles. A “family values” politician caught in an adulterous affair. A bishop caught stealing from the collection basket. This sort of hypocrisy sells newspapers and draws viewers. An audience loves to read about or watch a leader die on the dirtied sword of his ideals. Of course, public figures could avoid this media trap by consistently living up to their ideals, or by having no ideals at all. You can't be accused of hypocrisy if you hold nothing dear! Jesus warns his disciples about the dangers of exalting themselves as the Pharisees do. He says, “. . .do and observe all things whatsoever [the Pharisees] tell you, but do not follow their example. . .The greatest among you must be your servant.” 

In order to make clear what a servant in the Church looks like, Jesus describes the self-exalted religious leaders of his day. They weigh their people down with heavy burdens, yet refuse to help them carry the load. They perform good works in order to be seen not out of genuine charity. They don exaggerated religious garb; take places of honor at dinner parties, in the synagogues; and they crave adoration on the street. They allow themselves to be hailed as “Master,” placing themselves on the same level as our Father in heaven. All of these add up over time to be a shadow play, a kabuki mime—props, set pieces, scripts, choreography, all used by those who want to act the part of a righteous religious leader without actually having to be anything like a righteous religious leader. This is the road to damnation, spiritual destruction. Thus, Jesus warns the disciples to avoid playing at being humble and instead teaches them to find exaltation in being a servant.

Any seminarian, religious sister or brother, deacon, priest, or bishop will tell you that one of the most difficult temptations we face as public persons in the Church is the temptation of self-exaltation. We are charged with upholding the teachings of the Church on some of the most hotly debated issues of our day; we are vowed to do good works and we do them openly; we wear distinctive clothing and our people greet us on the streets by calling us “Sister,” “Father,” “Reverend,” even “Your Eminence.” It gets worse for those of us who teach in universities. We have “Doctor” and “Professor” added to our titles. You haven't been exalted properly until you hear yourself introduced at a party as “the Reverend Father Doctor”! Just imagine the temptations our poor Pope must endure when his titles are rattled off. Rightly or wrongly, our status is recognized and celebrated. And therein lies the danger for us and for those we serve—our status, the place we occupy, the public role we have taken on in the Church. Status is fleeting, temporary, easily lost and too easily mourned. Status is nothing.

Jesus clearly shows us the way out of this potential spiritual wreck. The Church needs leaders not actors, servants not masters. She needs living examples of holiness not self-exalted Barbie Dolls in religious drag. She needs saints, and, fortunately for us, most saints start out as sinners. The transition from sinner to saint, from religious actor to servant-leader is summed up nicely by Isaiah: “Hear the word of the Lord. . .Listen to the instruction of our God. . .! Wash yourselves clean!” And once cleansed by humility, we can start a life of true service. Quietly or loudly, openly or in secret, we can be slaves to a Church, a world in desperate need of being loved by those of us who lay claim to the love of Christ.

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Dyslexia to the rescue!

For once in my life, my dyslexia may help me learn a foreign language!

Of all the Romance languages, Italian has the most rational pronunciation rules:  each vowel is pronounced exactly the same way every time it occurs; all the syllables of a word are pronounced.

French, on the other hand, is dirty with weird inflections, elided syllables, dropped endings, silent letters, and accents on vowels frequently alter the meaning of a word.

Yesterday in class, I had little trouble pronouncing the French.  I am still stymied by Italian.

Go figure.

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Quick update. . .

Just got off the phone with Mama Becky.  She reports that her parents went to a nursing home this weekend.  Her father, Clyde, is 97 and suffering from a bad eye infection.  Her step-mother, Mildred, is 89.  

They have lived in the same house in the Mississippi Delta for 70 years! 

Please keep them, my mom, and her sisters in your prayers.

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My day. . .

Between 1.00 pm and 5.00 pm today, I. . .

. . .saw an Italian couple get hit by a taxi in front of the Wax Museum.

. . .took classes at the French Embassy.

. . .met a young Roman woman in my French class who had lived in Houston as an exchange student.

. . .visited the Church of St Louis of France and saw four beautiful Caravaggio paintings, including three world-renowned canvases of The Calling of St Matthew, The Inspiration of Saint Matthew, The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew.

What did you do today?  ;-)

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28 February 2010

Coffee Bowl Browsing

Didn't we listen to eight years of the bleating Left telling us that Bush was "shredding the Constitution" with the Patriot Act?   I guess your definition of "shredding" depends on who sits in the Oval Office.

Hilarious:  demographics of American newspapers.  (NB.  the embedded Youtube vid is mildly R-rated.)

Challenging the "Ron Paul's seat" mentality of a TX Republican primary.  Apparently, Dems aren't the only ones infected with the politicus imperialis virus.

UK's Labour Party harboring Islamic radicals?  Why not?  European leftists seem pretty cozy with all sorts of delusional utopian ideologies.

More rhetorical slight-of-hand:  using "men" to mean Bad Males vs. using "people" to mean Good Males.  The definition of Good and Bad is, of course, political.  (NB.  I recently ordered, Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student.  Look for many more entries on the use and abuse of rhetoric!)

A meditation on suicide.  We need you!

While failing to understand (much less love) western civilization, Harvard's liberal arts faculty sneers at the critical study of religion.  One prof distinguishes between the phenomenon of religion and the use of reason as if reason cannot be used to study a phenomenon.  

Dismantling the latest Elitist Meme:  liberals and atheists are more intelligent than conservatives and theists.  As you might suspect, the proof (or lack thereof) in it the definitions.  Note especially the definition of "liberalism" that the researchers use.  Poll after poll indicate that self-described conservatives are far more charitable with their money than liberals.

Sunday's homily is on its way!

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