30 January 2010

Grammar Nazis Unite!

For all the Grammar Nazis out there. . .

Is "snuck" the past-tense of "sneak"?

Yes and no.  Yes, it has become one of those words that has gained some legitimacy through repeated use.  So, when the word is used in common American English, it communicates.  No, it is non-standard English usage.  The proper past-tense of "sneak" is "sneaked." 

I have been on a one-man crusade to save the subjunctive mood from extinction.  I'm losing. 

Also, "hopefully" is an adverb not an adjective.  "Hopefully, I will see the Pope" translates into the nonsensical sentence, "I will see full of hope the Pope."  The original sentence communicates the idea that I hope I will get to see the Pope.  Correctly written, this would be, "I am hopeful that I will see the Pope."

What's on your Grammar Nazi agenda?

Sieg Heil.  Carry on.

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Coffee Bowl Browsing

The hits keep on comin'!  IPCC chair knew that the so called "glacier meltdown" was false before Copenhagen.  I do believe that that is a bus headed his way.

B.O. and the Dems are outraged--OUTRAGED, I say--at the Supreme Court's decision gutting campaign finance laws.  In the SOTU speech, B.O. falsely accused the S.C. of legalizing foreign contributions to political campaigns.  Good.  We look forward to the day when B.O. returns all the money he got from foreign sources during his campaign for the White House.  Oh, and all the corporate campaign money, including union money, he and the Dems received.

Has B.O. grown bored?  Hmmmm. . .maybe he'll take an early retirement?

Can we talk to Muslims?  Of course we can.  But there can be no negotiation on the principles of democracy and religious freedom.

Killer of abortion doctor convicted of murder.  We may never do evil in the cause of good.

Ralph McInerny has died.  A giant among American Thomists, McInerny was probably best known as the author of the Father Dowling Mysteries novels.

Perhaps the only good thing about the possibility of the U.S. joining the International Criminal Court is the long history of the ineffectiveness and incompetence of most international bodies.  We can join.  Look like good neighbors.  And go about our business.

The Ultimate Fr. Philip Movie:  Redneck Zombies.  Now, this movie can only be exceeded in my view by a potential sequel:  Catholic Redneck Zombies from Outer Space.  I'm working on the script.

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The coming Nunja smack-down


In the face of Sisterly defiance of the Apostolic Visitation, the Vatican authorizes the use of its secret weapon:  the Nunjas! 

Make no mistake, these are not your ordinary nuns. They don’t correct the wayward with rulers. When NUNJAS correct you, you stay corrected. They are NUNJAS! These Nunjas mock albino monk assassins…to their pasty white faces.

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T0rture: Right and Wrong

Tom K. at Disputations does what I do not have the patience to do:  round-up the Church teachings on the immorality of torture.

Noted many times by others but worth repeating here is all too common habit of Catholic dissenters to place their local politics over and above the authority of the magisterium.  Among Catholics on the left, the Church is wrong on all issues that involve the libertine use of one's pelvic area.  Among Catholics on the right, it seems that the Church is wrong on all issues having to do with the just use of violence (there is such a thing!) and the imperative of the Christian to pursue peace.

It is striking--though completely predictable--that Catholics who defend the moral use of torture use the argumentative templates of those who defend abortion, SSM, etc.  These arguments are always utilitarian and consequentialist; that is, what determines the rightness or wrongness of a human act is the amount of good or evil that results from the act.  This is not Catholic moral theology. 

There is Right and there is Wrong.  The physical and/or moral torture of another human being is always wrong.  Nothing can change this, most especially appeals to consequentialist/utilitarian considerations.

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29 January 2010

Your generic news report

. . .the only thing missing is the "Blame Bush" meme and a gratuitous slap at Tea Partiers.  NB.  The "f-bomb" is dropped once.  Brits use this word more freely and with less negative reaction than we do.

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What is fulfilled in your hearing?

Finally!  Better late than never, I guess. . .

3rd Sunday OT: Readings
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
SS. Domenico e Sisto, Roma

History is prophecy fulfilled. While history looks back at events, prophecy looks forward to well-ordered possibilities. When possibility becomes reality, we see prophecy most clearly. Pushed by our history and pulled by prophecy, our lives unfold in the tidal forces of what has been and what what will be. (No doubt this is why we often feel dragged under and swirled to dizziness!) With the unchangeable past under us and the vast expanse of what could be above us, is it any wonder that we turn to prophecy for both hope and direction? And that is the purpose of prophecy: to give us a living sense that our existence is not futile, to provide our wandering hearts with a path to follow. What's revealed by God's prophets is not a detailed road map or a spiritual GPS, but rather a broadly drawn outline of His providential care for us. Acting with (or against) this plan, we help to unfold (or wrinkle) His plan, and in doing so, we benefit (or suffer) accordingly. Even the most cursory glance at our history reveals that blessing and prosperity follow obedience. And sin is its own punishment. When Jesus reads aloud the messianic prophecy from Isaiah and proclaims to his listeners that the prophecy is fulfilled in their hearing, he changes history. Not just the possibilities for the future but the hard-set events of the past as well. From the word of creation spoken over the void, the promise of the coming Messiah sweeps human history, informing, shaping, pushing, and pulling. What was fulfilled in their hearing? Everything that has gone before and everything to come: the arrival of the Word made flesh among us.

The arrival of the Word as Man is both prophecy and history. Foretold and remembered, Christ is delivered to God's people as the fulfillment of a promise made long ago. Looking back, as Jesus does in the temple that day, we can read the signs of his coming—the long awaited King, the servant who suffers for us, the Anointed who serves and rules as a priest and prophet. Think of a triangle, pointing upward. Now, imagine another triangle turned upside-down so that the points of the two triangles touch—an hourglass figure. The bottom triangle is our salvation history, the record of God's promises to His people, the ancient narrative of His word and deed among us. The top triangle is prophecy, what's to come for the Church while we strive to live as one Body. Where the points meet is the arrival of the Word made flesh—that day on the calendar when prophecy became history. Now, scroll the bottom triangle up so that the history of the Church is transformed into the Church's future as it passes through the Christ. Neither triangle is emptied, neither triangle is exhausted. There is always more history, always more prophecy. . .until the coming the Kingdom.

Now, who sits at the transformative point between the historical past and the prophetic future? Christ, certainly. But in what form? The Son of God took on human flesh to become like one of us. He suffered, died, and was resurrected to sit at the Father's right hand. Yet, he is with us still. He is still with us in the Eucharist, Body and Blood. He is with us still as the Church, the Body and Blood, constituted by her individual members. In the eternity of heaven, Christ sits at the transformative point. Within the history of Man, his Church occupies that crucial spot. For us, here on earth, progressing in spiritual perfection, it is the Body of Christ, the Church, that mediates our salvation history into our prophetic future. As we draw in more and more of our past through the Church, we bring to completion more and more of our future. Today—right here, right now—prophecy is fulfilled in our hearing.

If the Church is to be who and what she was created to be, we, her members, must be who and what we were created and re-created to be. Paul writes to the Corinthians, “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ.” Though distinct in our gifts and ministries, our purpose is singular. Though individuals talents, we collect our talents to produce a single work: to be the sacrament of Christ that shows the world his victory and makes that victory real. Each of us is a unique sign of Christ's love. And all of us together live as a Sign of his love. We contribute our treasures and take from the treasury what we lack. Without the Church our individual deficiencies remain deficiencies. Without our individual contributions, the Church is poorer and if the Church is poorer, so are we. And if we are poor, how can we contribute? Can you see the vicious circle? The cycle of vice that supplants the progress of virtue?

We can ask ourselves what prophecy was fulfilled in our hearing today? The better question is what prophetic word have we spoken today, what prophetic work have we done today that fulfills the Father's promise of eternal love? What have you contributed to the Church's treasury today that a brother or sister in Christ lacks? What talent are you hoarding? Are you withholding a gift that weakens the Church's ministry to shape a future in mercy and love? If we see ourselves as the collective mechanism whereby God's promises are made manifest in human history, what have we done, what are we doing, what have we vowed to do to be the healthiest, strongest, most vital Body that we can be? What is missing from the treasury that yourself lack? Do you wonder: who in the Church is clinging to the wealth I need to be who God made and re-made me to be? 

None of us can claim to possess the strength of the whole Church by ourselves. But we all share in her weaknesses. If you find this to be an occasion for despair, hear again Nehemiah's admonition to God's people: “Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength!”

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28 January 2010

On the Church & T0rture*

from the Catechism:

2297 [. . .] Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity. Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputations, mutilations, and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against the moral law.

2298 In times past, cruel practices were commonly used by legitimate governments to maintain law and order, often without protest from the Pastors of the Church, who themselves adopted in their own tribunals the prescriptions of Roman law concerning torture. Regrettable as these facts are, the Church always taught the duty of clemency and mercy. She forbade clerics to shed blood. In recent times it has become evident that these cruel practices were neither necessary for public order, nor in conformity with the legitimate rights of the human person. On the contrary, these practices led to ones even more degrading. It is necessary to work for their abolition. We must pray for the victims and their tormentors.

* I have to use the zero in torture b/c the ridiculous nanny filter software the Vatican server uses won't let me open this post again if I spell it correctly.  I couldn't even use the searchable Catechism using the word as a search term!  The university & priory uses the Vatican server, thus we are subject the filter.

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Coffee Bowl Browsing

B.O. demagoguing over the recent Supreme Court decision to invalidate McCain-Feingold.  For a former constitutional law professor, B.O. seems woefully ignorant of the basics.   Also, the S.C.'s credibility with the American electorate is far, far higher than the Won's.  He might want to back off.

". . .a shocking lack of decorum. . ." and a really dumb political move.  The amateur hour continues a pace.

Anti-ACORN filmmaker wasn't out to wiretap.  There's more to this story. . .

The Diocese of Phoenix strengthens regs for marriage prep.  This is an excellent idea.  As our culture continues to trivialize marriage, the Church is called upon to sharpen its focus on the sacramental nature of the bond. 

More on the perils of demanding ironclad definitions in the pursuit of virtue.  Definitions function as semantic limits on how words are properly used in a language's grammar.   A definition will change as a word's usage changes.  Few people nowadays declare themselves "gay" when they mean "happy."  The demand that "torture" be given a fixed definition is dangerous precisely for this reason.  What counts as torture today may not count as torture tomorrow.

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26 January 2010

Coffee Bowl Browsing

Bishop Jose S. Vasquez appointed as ordinary for the Diocese of Austin.  Excellent choice.  I met the good bishop while serving as a deacon in Houston.  He came to the priory to visit a sick friar who had preceded him as pastor in a parish in San Angelo.  His respect for our elderly brother was exemplary.  Very impressive.

Activist behind the ACORN pimp/prostitute video stings has been arrested for trying to wiretap the office of a LA Senator.  If convicted, he and his friends will spend ten years in jail.  If this allegation is true:  dumb, just plain dumb.

Socialist experiment in Israel bends toward private property rights.  This happens in religious life as well.  Communitarianism (the model for religious life) is not socialism, but sometimes the drum beat of "community life" can drown out the fruitful contributions of the individual.  As always, there's a via media that balances both community and the individual.  It ain't easy.

On facing east at the altar.  I think this is going to catch on big time in the RCC.  There's no problem here really, but the people in the pews need to be properly and thoroughly catechized about the why's of doing it.  Ad hoc changes are always a bad idea.

Personhood Initiative in Kansas.  On the face of it, amending the Constitution to recognize the personhood of the fetus seems like a good idea.  But we need to be careful and think through the legal implications of doing so.  Yes, it would make abortion a crime.  But would it open mothers to lawsuits by grown children for failing to eat properly, for drinking/smoking while pregnant, for knowingly bringing a child into an abusive home, etc.?  Lawyers are very creative.  Caution. 

Paralyzed for want of a definition:  Tom K. busts the wafflers on "torture."  Just in case there's a question. . .the Church is against it. 

Apparently, if there's any doubt in your mind that your baby will grow up to be anything other than the Next Einstein, the Next Mozart or NFL quarterback, you should just kill it.  Do we really need anymore pedophile rapists?

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Poets to Read (two lists): UPDATED

Per a reader request:  Fr. Philip's Modern/Contemporary [American] Poetry Recommendations!

Modern (deceased)

Hart Crane
Robert Lowell
Amy Clampitt (formal)
Denise Levertov
Louise Bogan
Marianne Moore
Wallace Stevens (difficult)
Sylvia Plath
James Wright

Contemporary (living)

John Ashbury (difficult)
Louise Gluck
Charles Wright
Franz Wright (Catholic)
Eric Pankey (Anglican)
Robert Hass
Mark Jarman (Christian)
W. S. Merwin
Jack Gilbert
Jorie Graham (very difficult)
Edward Hirsch

Great Mod/Cont Poets Who Aren't from the U.S.

Eavan Boland (Irish)
Seamus Heaney (Irish)
Rainer Maria Rilke (German)
Charles Baudelaire (French)
Octavio Paz (Mexican)
Pablo Neruda (Chile)
Anna Akhmatova (Russian)

The Poetry Foundation has an excellent collection of poems searchable by author, subject, school, date, etc.  

NB.  The exclusion of a poet from these lists does not mean that I don't like their work.  These are all listed off the top of my head.  I don't have my poetry library with me.  Like wine and movies, poets tend to attract devout followers and detractors.  Some poets we can all agree are Worthies even if we don't care for their work (e.g., W. C. Williams).  Some poets are so absolutely basic to the American voice that they must be read in order to understand everything that follows:  Whitman & Dickinson.

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25 January 2010

Coffee Bowl Browsing (Mini-edition)

Words and phrases that drive progressive Catholics crazy.  I nominate "Dominus Iesus."  Drove some of my seminary professors nuts!

Like, um, ya know. . .it's like I dunno, true?  An inarticulate generation

Are pro-abortion women at war with their biology?

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No spirit of cowardice among us

Timothy & Titus: Readings
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
SS. Domenico e Sisto, Roma

We are not born again of water so that we might wither and die in a spirit of cowardice. The spirit that binds us to one another in the Church and the Church to Christ is the spirit of power, love, and self-control—the Holy Spirit of God, the same Spirit that set the apostles on fire at Pentecost and gave birth to the Church. Hiding in the Upper Room, fearing for their lives, Christ's followers were spiritual refugees, dissidents and heretics, outcasts from their temple and rebels against the Empire. Their Teacher was dead, and though resurrected from the tomb, he had yet to fulfill his promise to send a spirit of consolation and guidance. They were weak, scared witless, desolate, and completely without a purpose. When the Holy Spirit descended upon them, they were transformed as bearers of the Word to the world, set aflame with a zeal for preaching and teaching, for witnessing and healing. And they knew—Christ has promised it—they knew that their ministry in the spirit would see them once again cast out and persecuted. But rather than gather again to complain about these injustices or plot a strategy for dominance, they went out and did what they were ordered to do: they lived lives of power, love, and self-control. In the presence of opposition to the gospel, even outright hostility or violence, do we bear witness to this spirit, or do we live cowardly lives of silence?

In a homily on Paul's second letter to Timothy, the great Patristic preacher, St. John Chrysostom, says, “. . .if we were soldiers of this world, and waged an earthly war, the chains that confine our hands would [serve to restrain us]. But now God has made us such that nothing can subdue us. For our hands are bound, but not our tongue, since nothing can bind the tongue but cowardice and unbelief alone.” Had we been charged by Christ to subdue the political powers of the world, it would be enough to throw us in jail as violent prisoners of war. Unable to kill our enemies from behind bars, the war for the Kingdom would have been quickly ended. Our courage, steadfastness, and determination would have been wasted and ultimately footnoted in history as just another zealous Judean uprising against Rome. Fortunately, as St John preaches, though our hands can be chained by the enemy, our tongue cannot. Only we can bind our witness; only we can silence the Word we have been given to speak.

If we are silent, suppressing the spirit of courage we have been given, are we silent b/c of cowardice or unbelief? What do we fear? Why would we not believe? There is a certain clarity to fear. Being afraid provides a straight path, a downhill run. For example, the discomfort we may feel in preaching the gospel is easily avoided, simply ignored. Just be quiet. Don't speak. No one is offended. No one is harmed. Everything remains as it always has been. And we can continue to enjoy the esteem of family and friends. Disbelieving is more difficult but no less effective in silencing the gospel. Love is really just being polite. Mercy is really just overlooking sin. Faith is really just a wild gamble against the inevitable, crossing your fingers and hoping for the best. Disbelieving is a cowardly way to pick and choose easy victories over our equally disbelieving enemy. It's fighting for the other side.

Paul writes to Timothy, “. . .bear your share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God.” What is this strength? Yes, it's the spirit of power, love, and self-control, the Holy Spirit given to the Church, the Body that Christ himself identifies when he says, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” Are we brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers of the Son? If so, we will do the will of God, setting aside cowardice and stirring up the Spirit that gives us life and strength and, finally, even victory over death.

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24 January 2010

Coffee Bowl Browsing

National Book Critics award nominees announced.  I'm only familiar with three of the poets (Louise Gluck is one of my top ten living American poets) and none of the rest.  Been out of the lit business too long.

Ed Driscoll has a great round-up of various "They Warned Us He Wasn't Ready" essays.

More on the difference btw men and women.  This time it's the difference btw husbands and wives.

On recruiting Islamic terrorists in the U.K.

A Brit visits the Platonic Form of All American Mega-Churches:  Saddleback Church.  Takeaway immpression?  ". . .the butt end of Christianity: stripped of history and icon­ography, wholly immersed in its secular surroundings. . ."  Ouch.  The writer notes that research indicates that communities like Saddleback are the future of American religion.  Wrong.  They are just the latest fad.  When a church polls its "market" and relies on "occasional attenders," things will not go well in the future.

Is voodoo the answer to Haiti's problems or the cause? 

BXVI to priests:  "Blog, Fathers!  Blog!"  Been there, doing that since 2005, Your Holiness.  :-)

Sister Mary and Sister Martha buy some beer. (via New Advent)

Death Wish:  on why we in the West are obsessed with apocalyptic scenarios.  Apparently, global warming and global jihad are the two dominant scenarios at the moment.  No mention of the Zombie Apocalypse. . .no doubt the Zombies are paying this guy off to keep quiet.

Apostolic Visitator asks sisters to cooperate with her mission.  NB.  don't read the comments if you are easily provoked by nonsense.

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