13 August 2010

Coffee Mug Browsing

As an itinerant friar, I travel a lot.  Mostly by airplane. My experiences are almost always good ones.  There have been times, however, when I wish the plane had an on-board disciplinarian empowered to smack selfish passengers. . .particularly those who jump up and grab their overhead baggage and stand in the aisle.  I always want to ask, "Do you think the plane is going to take off again with you on it?"  SMACK!

Hmmmm. . .maybe the flight attendant in question here is not the folk hero he is made out to be.  

What's good for the iman is good for the. . .um. . .drag queen?  I dunno.  This point of this seems to be to show up the hypocrisy of insisting on building a mosque next door to the 9/11 memorial in the name of tolerance and moderation.  Is this a serious suggestion?

A mighty good suggestion:  work for a few years out of high school before going to college.  Or do some volunteer work, or join the military. . .I went straight from high school to college to grad school.  Big mistake.  When your whole world from age 18 to 30 is nothing but university life, you get a very skewed notion of reality. 

This is not a problem I face!  However, my problem is more insidious:  students consistently confuse "Fr. Philip" with "Dr. Powell."  There seems to be an expectation that Dr. Powell will function as a professor in the same way that Fr. Philip functions as a priest--merciful, understanding, forgiving, "easy,"etc.  The realization that this is an illusion is not always pretty.

A future President of the U.S.?  How quickly would MSM heads explode if the Tea Partiers/GOP nominated and the voters elected a black conservative to the White House. 

A conservative defense of the judge who voided Prop 8 in CA.

Border security tech. . .

This guy hits the B.O, meltdown on the nose. . .ten times in a row.  Excellent.

Can a suffering atheist find God?  Yup.  NB.  the author of this piece assumes that only non-believers are capable of rational, objective deliberation.  How?  By distancing themselves from most of what makes us human.  Very sad.

On political civility and our Elitist Betters. . .when they see the torches and pitchforks coming up to the castle gates, our self-anointed rulers turn up the music, pop the bubbly, and ramp up the rhetoric that marks them as fundamentally anti-democratic.  NB.  R-rated content.

Even the Brits seem to get it. . .and they really know elitism when they see it!

From the tar pits of 1972, mewling ecclesial dinosaur mewls some more.  Bless her heart.

Zen quotes (sorta). . .I've experienced #4.

A conspiracy theory generator.  My guess is that the author of this program needs help providing CNN with fresh material.

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12 August 2010

Stop counting and forgive

19th Week OT (R)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Church of the Incarnation, Univ of Dallas


You may be surprised to learn that most pumpkins in the U.S. are naturalized citizens. That the soul is located in a gland found in the brain. And that monkeys are usually politically libertarian. Are you surprised? You should be. You should be surprised not because these fascinating facts are in fact false, but because they pretend to tell us something about the world that they cannot tell us. Pumpkins are not subject to the citizen naturalization process. The soul is not a physical entity that can be located in a body part. And monkeys are not the sorts of creatures that have political opinions. When we say things like, “I've visited every building on campus, but I've yet to see the university,” we are making what philosophers call a “category mistake.” The university is not a building that can visited. The mistake occurs when we believe that the non-physical entity (the university) can be visited as if it were a physical entity (a building). Peter makes this same sort of mistake when he asks Jesus, “How many times must I forgive my brother?” Jesus' answer is a bit more poetic than, “Peter, you are making a category mistake.” He says, “You must forgive from the heart.”

Peter's mistake is understandable and easily forgivable. The Law under which he carried out his religious duties was stacked with accountable obligations; discreet, countable practices. The proper kind and number of animals for sacrifice. The proper number of days for fasting. Ten Commandments. Twelve tribes. Seventy judges. His question is not a devious attempt to avoid Jesus' teaching on forgiveness. Rather he is trying to learn—within his religious tradition—what his obligation to forgive others means in practical terms. We Catholics are prone to making our own category mistakes. “Father, do I get more grace if I attend Mass twice a day?” Or “Aren't my sins better forgiven if I confess them twice?” Grace and forgiveness are not the sorts of things that can be numbered, measured, or intensified. There is no such thing as “more grace” or “better forgiveness.” There is grace and there is forgiveness. Both are superlative, always excellent in themselves, and achieved once for all through Christ.

Jesus makes this point when he teaches Peter to forgive from his heart rather than from his counted reserves of mercy. A philosopher might say that to forgive is dispositional; that is, when you forgive you forgive because of who you are. You are disposed to forgive. A theologian would say that you forgive because you are intensely aware that you yourself have been forgiven. Forgiving others is a matter of spreading the Good News of God's boundless mercy. Counting the number of times you forgive a sin committed against you violates the very nature of mercy. Mercy flows from Mercy Himself—limitless, continuous, and innumerable. We are not charged with acting as God's accountants of merciful acts, meticulously toting up debits and credits. Rather, we are vowed to being living, unobstructed conduits of His forgiveness for others. We are able to forgive only because He has forgiven us first.

Seven times eleven is not seventy-seven in the arithmetic of forgiveness. Seventy-seven is the number given for our forgiving natures, the number that exceeds counting, exceeds all limits. We are bound in obedience to Christ to forgive the 78th, 79th, and 80th time we are sinned against. In mercy, we are forbidden to count; by divine love, we should want to.

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11 August 2010

No place for self-appointed martyrs

Memorial of St. Clare
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Church of the Incarnation, Univ of Dallas


Resetting a broken bone hurts. Cleaning a bloody wound hurts. Talking about past traumas hurts. Whether we are in need of physical cure or spiritual healing, treating injuries and uprighting wrongs are never a duties we take on with much gusto. Seeing the end, the healed soul and the cured wound, helps with the immediate pain, but the memory of the ordeal lingers and leaves us wary of the next time we might need the surgeon's knife or the Church's medicine. But despite this wariness, despite our deep reluctance to seek out healing and cure, we are unambiguously charged with “taking care” of our hurts—both physical and spiritual. Jesus tells his disciples that whatever they bind on earth is bound in heaven and whatever they loose on earth is loosed in heaven. When a brother or sister sins against you, you are free to bind their offense to you or let it loose. If you let it loose, it is gone. If you choose to bind it, just remember: “Lord, forgive me my sins as I forgive those who have sinned against me.” As you forgive, so you are forgiven.

It is not likely that many of us here are weighed down with truly grievous sins, really weighty offenses that have killed our love for God. God's enemies rarely show up for Mass! It is more likely the case that if any of us are in a state of sin, we are there b/c we are mired in a shallow yet complex morass of wounds caused by holding grudges, nursing hurts, seeking after petty revenge, or by practicing habitual deceit. Each cut leading to another, deeper wound; each wound bleeding out our strength and resolve to seek healing. Perhaps convinced of the righteousness of our refusal to forgive, we cling to being offended, replaying again and again the moment we were injured. I am the victim! I deserve justice! And rather than free ourselves and our assailant from the soul-killing swamp of sin, we nurture our wounds, scratch them open, and let them bleed for all to see, so that all might know how we were violated. What we bind on earth is bound in heaven and bound to drag us down.

However, what we loose on earth is loosed in heaven. Freeing those who have sinned against us is immediately repaid in our own freedom. No longer tied to our offenders by sin—theirs and ours—we are liberated, and no longer left to languish in a self-pitying mess. We can choose to loose, choose to relieve, choose to unlock. Or we can choose to remain wrapped in grudging self-righteousness and the resulting despair. If we will continue to walk with Christ, carrying our cross, and growing in holiness, the only choice for us is to live lives of forgiveness, daily living the mercy that we ourselves have been shown again and again. In fact, the most deliberate way that we can give God thanks for His mercy is to share out that mercy to others. 

Jesus says that he is with us when we gather in his name. How much more powerfully will we experience his loving presence if, when we gather in his name, we gather to loose the ties of sin that bind us, to bind ourselves in obedience to his commandment to love one another? Let's own up to a hard truth: the refusal to forgive, an unwillingness to show mercy is an act of mortal pride and deadly to the soul. We risk forsaking our heart's charity, the love we have for God. No gamble is worth those stakes. The Good News is that the choice is ours to make. Bind and be bound. Loose and be set free.

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09 August 2010

Coffee Mug Browsing (Catholic edition)

Prof. Peter Kreeft on whether or not the CDF's 2000 document, Dominus Iesus is liberal or conservative.  The answer:  neither and both.  IOW, the document is a model for Catholic orthodoxy! One of my seminary profs, a self-avowed feminist sister, declared to our class one day, "This document will be on the trash heap of history in ten years!"  Of course, the author of DI is now Pope Benedict XVI.

Is Catholicism collapsing in Italy?  When answering questions like this one we have to take the long-view and remember that we live within a 2,000 year old history.  Mass attendance can decline for decades. . .but the Church prevails.

The federal judge who declared CA's Proposition 8 based his decision on a dangerous anti-American premise:  religion is harmful.  Few believers would deny that religion can be harmful; however, Christianity is not inherent harmful.  Like anything created, religion has its uses and abuses.

This judge pointedly included passages from a 2003 document on the family written and signed by Cardinal Ratzinger. 

Contra indifferntism:  can non-Catholic be saved?  The short answer is:  Yes.

How to talk to someone who supports same-sex "marriage"

Catholic heathcare blues

"There's a Little Black Spot on Your Head Today". . .the Catholic Weird Al.

Lots of Jesuit jokes

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Blogging Lite

Dear HancAquam Readers:

It's crunch week!  Final papers are in. . .exams are set and will need to be graded. . .last few reading assignments and classes to complete. . .then on to packing, cleaning, saying Goodbye-'til-Next Year!

So. . .blogging will likely be kinda light this week.  I have the noon Mass at U.D. on Thursday, my last this time 'round, so there will be a homily posted. 

Once I am safely nestled into the idyllic academic life of Oxford, I'll be freer to post more often.

God bless, Fr. Philip

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08 August 2010

Coffee Mug Browsing

Boy Scouts boo B.O.'s recorded message to them. . .he skipped the BSA meeting to sit on the Fawning Couch with the harpies. . .errrrr. . .ladies of The View.   Not sure it is a good sign that Boy Scouts are booing the President.  If nothing else, the Office deserves respect.

Hope and Change for real transparency:  city gov'ts are posting public employees' salaries on-line.  Maybe this will be the first step in teaching public servants that American citizens are not simply storing the gov't's money 'til April 15th.

First Lady acting like a certain pre-Revolutionary Queen?  The story of Michelle's extravagant vacation in southern Spain isn't about the money spent. . .surely some U.S. city could have used the $375,000 she spent.  This is about the apparent inability/unwillingness of the Obama's to SEE that middle America is in desperate shape.  Whether they care or not is besides the point. . .they must appear to care.  It's what politicians are supposed to do.  

The Southern Poverty Law Center used to be one of my favorite organizations.  Lately, they have swerved into self-serving fantasy land by attacking Tea Partiers as racist.  But the question must be asked:  Who's Whiter:  the SLPC or the Tea Party?

Chris Christie for President?  I say, "Yes!  It's time for another Fat Guy in the White House!"

Bush appointee to the federal bench is accused of colluding with prosecutors in an immigration raid and then presided over the trail of those arrested.  If true, she needs to be impeached.

The environment disaster that wasn't. . .or isn't any longer.  The Worst Disaster in Natural History meme served to thump B.O.'s crisis management skills, bolster environmentalist hysteria, and expose corporate greed and irresponsibility.  Unfortunately, for those who hoped/planned to use the accident to maximum political advantage, it looks like the oil spill is little more than spilled milk now.

Um, yea. . .but no thanks.  I like the ground.

Two birds, one stone. . .the plot thickens.

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