13 February 2010

Coffee Bowl Browsing

In a concerted effort to find something good to write about B.O. once and a while, I note this courageous rebuttal of Chinese intimidation.  Bravo, Mr. President!

If it ever gets to the point where the following can be said about me, I hope I have the courage to just man-up and leave the Church"He doesn’t believe in the priesthood anymore, nor the virgin birth. . .In fact, he doubts that Jesus ever existed and although he is the spiritual leader of a 500-strong Christian community, he says he no longer prays because there’s “'no one to pray to.'”  There has to be some sort of serious psychological imbalance going on here. 

Planned Parenthood needs a new researcher for its anti-Catholic propaganda.  They are claiming that the RCC denies the pleasures of sex.  Here's the Catechism quoting Pope Pius XII (not exactly a big liberal) from 1951:  "Sexuality is a source of joy and pleasure:  'The Creator himself . . . established that in the [generative] function, spouses should experience pleasure and enjoyment of body and spirit. Therefore, the spouses do nothing evil in seeking this pleasure and enjoyment. They accept what the Creator has intended for them. At the same time, spouses should know how to keep themselves within the limits of just moderation.'" (n. 2362).  Took me about ten seconds to find that quote on the internet.

Bees find their Inner Grad Student:  they prefer nectar laced with caffeine and nicotine!

Hmmmmm. . .that Harvard-trained neurobiologist who killed three of her colleagues recently has a history of gun violence.  Oh, and she's a socialist.  Wonder if that tid-bit will make it into the MSM narrative?  Doubt it.

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Sexual Abuse in the Public Schools

How many articles in the NYT have you read about this study"According to a study she [Prof. Carol Shakeshaft of Hofstra] did of abuse complaints against Catholic priests over a five decade period she concluded that '…the physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests.'”  Not many?  Figures.

Public school teachers molesting their students doesn't serve the leftist-collectivist narrative, so we never hear about it.  

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Angelicum snow

 A snowy courtyard at the Angelicum yesterday. . .

 Pic credit:  fra. Charles Morerod, OP

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12 February 2010

Neve a Roma (pics)

The snow has stopped falling. . .but we have pics!

 Lots more pics here.  H/T:  fra. Albert Glade, OP

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Roman snow

It's snowing in Rome!!!

The last snowfall in Rome was 24 years ago in 1987. . .

Update:  three hours later and it is still snowing hard!  From a second storey window we can normally clearly see the monument to Vittorio Emmanuele. . .it's only about two blocks from the priory.  Right now, it is almost completely obscured by the falling snow. 

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Coffee Bowl Browsing

Another "Kennedy seat" up for grabs in November.  At the rate Dems are jumping the Congressional ship, the GOP may return to the majority by way of attrition alone.

". . .the Tea Party engine is driven first and foremost by a desire to return government to its proper constitutional limits and run it with a lot less money."  If this is true, then count me among the Tea Partiers!

Deal Hudson asks, "Is it time for a Catholic Tea Party?"  I'd say, "Most definitely!"

From a privacy rights/anti-Nanny State perspective, this seems like a good idea.  I wish they had left all that "666"/Mark of the Beast stuff out of the discussion.

And yet even MORE exaggerations and outright lies from the IPCC Global Warming boondoggle. 

Dissident feminists pretend to be ordained into the Catholic priesthood.  As usual, media clueless in reporting on the faux event.

Heh.  And Catholics think our Spirit of Vatican Two vestments are ugly!  Note the absence of any sort of Christian symbolism on these rags.

On the difference between the firm, outspoken leadership of BXVI and the limp, waffling reactions of Rowan Williams.
Now for some good news about the Catholic Church in the U.S.  (corrected)

Is the issue of state secession a settled political matter?  I read the Volokh Conspiracy blog b/c I am a Legal Fanboy.  And I am always amazed at how often this blog's well-argued posts put my assumptions to shame. 

Video of the fireworks display at the Vatican last night.  I heard the explosions and wondered what was going on.  Now I know.

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11 February 2010

Updates. . .

1).  Please continue to pray for Mama Becky.  She is now on a portable O2 tank. . .we're thinking of changing her nickname to "Scuba Mama"!  :-)

2).  I updated the Book Depository Wish List yesterday to include two books from the reading list of the curriculum from Wyoming Catholic College.  Very impressive list!  (H/T:  Fr. Z.)

3).  Summer plans are shaping up.  Looks like I will spend most of the summer in Houston, TX at Holy Rosary Church (my priory of assignment).  I'm hoping to spend Sept. at Blackfriars Hall, Oxford.  Excellent phil/theo library. . .AND they will let me cook for them!

4).  My province, St. Martin de Porres (a.k.a. "the Southern Province") is in the midst of its annual "1216 Campaign."  This is our fundraising drive.  The largest portion of our annual operating budget goes for initial formation.  I.F. includes the novitiate and the costs of 5-7 years of graduate theology studies for each student brother.   Please consider donating!

5).  Also, my province will hold an elective chapter in June.  We will be electing new provincial officers, including a new Provincial (the OP version of a bishop for the province).  Please lift the province up in prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to guide the electors.  

6).  AND the whole Order will be electing a new Master of the Order in Sept.  The Master serves a single nine year term.  More prayer, please!  :-) 

7).  There will be a homily this coming Sunday. . .if I have to steal something straight out of St. Augustine's work, there will be a homily.

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Being Cool with the Cool Kids

The Anglican Church of Canada provides progressive Catholics in the U.S. with an important object lesson:

The report, prepared for the Anglican Diocese of British Columbia, calls Canada a post-Christian society in which Anglicanism is declining faster than any other denomination. It says the church has been “moved to the far margins of public life.”

So, in a misguided effort to "get in steps with the times," the leadership of the ACA adopted progressively more secular policies and practices.  Rather than confront the culture with the gospel, they abandoned the gospel to accommodate the culture.  And once the ACA was thoroughly, fundamentally changed into nothing much more than a politicized-therapeutic group with colorful vestments, the culture said "bye-bye."

The lesson?  When the Church tries to Be Cool in the public arena by adopting the behaviors and attitudes of the Cool Kids, what counts as cool changes.  Rather than destroying who we are as Catholics in order to appease the fickle manufacturers of culture, we should be strengthening our counter-cultural witness as men and women steeped in a 2,000 year old philosophical and theological tradition.  

There's nothing more pathetic than a senior citizen trying to be hip among the professional hipsters.

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10 February 2010

Italy freaks out over paranormal activity

There's a minor controversy roiling in Italy over the movie, Paranormal Activity.  

Apparently, some Italian movie-goers are freaking out during and after the movie.  Showing signs of classic panic attacks, children and teens are complaining of shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, etc.  

I'm not sure what to make of this.  My first reaction was:  the movie studio must be delighted at the free P.R.  Nothing promotes a book or film better than a call to ban it for producing unpleasant effects.

Then I started wondering if the attacks were more than just your typical teenager overreaction.  It would be interesting (though difficult) to find out if these afflicted teens have any connections to occult practices or worldviews.  Most of the attacks are being reported in Naples.  I've been told more than once that Naples is a center of occultism in Italy.  Rome has its share too. 

Hmmmmm. . .???

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Coffee Bowl Browsing

Why Are Liberals So Condescending?  Reaching back into my left-liberal days in grad school, I recall many cocktail party conversations with my fellow-travelers.  The target of our ire was the entrenched "white male dominated culture of western values" in the academic study of literature.  Of course, this bled over into our politics as well.  Unfortunately, we chose to adopt various versions of deconstructionism and Marxist ideology to uproot these scalawags.  Though we often differed on the details of how to carry out our Utopian revolution, we never argued over one essential point:  conservatives were beyond stupid; they were evil.

Fisking the pro-abort hysterical overreaction to the pro-life Tebow Superbowl ad.  Can you say "clueless"? 

As an academic, a philosopher-in-training, I thrive on discussion.  It's just what we do.  When it comes to ecumenical dialogue, I'm all for it.  Talking to other religions and other Christian bodies is not only a good idea, it's a moral duty.  However, Cardinal Kasper's latest idea is a really, really bad one:  the Ecumenical Catechism.  I have visions of the CCC being replaced on seminary bookshelves all over the world.  Talk about the rise of an alternative magisterium!

Should Catholic Charities be in the business of providing a needle exchange for heroin addicts

The Boy Scout Handbook:  the most conservative book published in America?  With sources in virtue ethics and Stoicism, just maybe.  Though I think "conservative" is the wrong label here.

The mind of Ratzinger and the heart of Roncalli:  Italian Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture.  John Allen profiles one of the Vatican's rising stars. (H/T:  New Advent).

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09 February 2010

Are we driving men away?

On any given Sunday here in Rome, the congregations attending Mass will be mostly women, and most of them will be elderly women.  God bless them!  What you will almost never see is younger men.  Hispanic friars tell me that the same goes for Masses in Latin and South America as well.  Church-going is women's work.

Why is that?  Not so long ago it was suggested by critics of a modernist Church that the reforms of Vatican Two and the subsequent hijacking of those reforms by feminists had "feminized" the Church (esp. the liturgy) to the point where men felt excluded.  Men voted with their feet.  

As a student brother in St Louis I once attended a Newman Center Mass at a university in Illinois.  Among the 30 or so students in attendance there were exactly three men--me, the priest, and the boyfriend of a young woman who read the readings.  Father, unfortunately, was the stereotypical Newman Center chaplain--deeply committed to a 1973 reading of Vatican Two, tied-dyed vestments, syrupy homily, huggy-kissy liturgy, big chunky loaf of granola bread for consecration, etc.  

The Center's personnel were women.  All of the student officers of the Catholic Student Organization were women.  All of the communion ministers were women.  All the readers and the entire choir were women.  I saw several offices with name plates on the doors.  All women. 

The building itself was "female" as well!  Round building, the chairs arranged in a circle, the altar dressings were "hand-made" in that oh-so-1973 style.  Since the chapel was basically a multi-purpose religious celebration space, images of other religions were hung about.  The Episcopalians had recently painted the walls and ceiling pink and hung up "art" by their grade school children.  The whole place exuded the feeling of a kindergarten classroom. 

During the Mass, I noticed that the boyfriend was standing stoically by his girlfriend with his arms crossed.  He never opened his mouth.  He was especially resolute in his silence when we sung a hand-clapping rendition of the Gloria!  When Mass was over, I tried to introduce myself, but he hit the door faster than I could get to him.  

I asked the priest afterward about the conspicuous absence of men at the Mass.  He just shrugged his shoulders and seemed not the least bit worried that his summer camp Mass might be alienating his male charges. 

Fr. Z. has some thoughts on getting men back into the parish

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A Strange Sight: Nuns on Oprah!

The Holy Father recently called on priests to use the internet to preach and teach the Gospel.  The Dominican Order regularly calls on its friars, nuns, sisters, and laity to enter the fray in cyberspace and mark out a place for the Holy Preaching.  

In answer to these calls, the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist will process onto the set of the Oprah Winfrey Show.

“When asked why they chose to accept the invitation and appear on the show, “Oprah is powerful -- we entrust this endeavor to Mother Mary for the greater glory of her Son! It's truly been a lot of fun as 'the world' does not begin to understand our life,” the Dominican said. “Hopefully, this will inspire more people to love God and serve Him in the manner He invites each of us -- and get the Gospel on the airwaves!!”

“The Dominican Sisters of Mary were founded in 1997 by four Dominican sisters responding to John Paul II’s call for a new evangelization. In the 13 years of their existence, they have grown to almost 100 members. Their newly constructed motherhouse is already filled to capacity.

Currently the average age of the sisters is 26 and the average age of their postulants is 21.

“Young people, inspired by John Paul the Great and Pope Benedict XVI, are generous and desirous of living sacrificial, authentic lives as God asks of them,” Sr. Joseph Andrew said.

“We agreed (to be on the show) because it will further understanding of Religious Life,” she added. “The Catholic Church is alive, well, and thriving as is authentic religious life,” she added.” 

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08 February 2010

Rationalists, Doomsayers, & Survivors

Though not generally a big fan of horror movies, I really enjoyed The Mist (2001).  Here's a very brief thematic summary from Wikipedia (Spoiler Alert:  the full entry in Wikipedia outlines the whole movie, including the end):

[. . .] the central theme is what ordinary people will be driven to do under extraordinary circumstances. The plot revolves around members of the small town of Bridgton, Maine who conceal themselves in a local supermarket when a violent thunderstorm cuts off the power. While they struggle to survive an unnatural mist which envelops the town [. . .], extreme tensions arise amongst the survivors.

What's interesting to me about this movie is the way Stephen King (the novella's author) and the script writers of the movie present three distinct hermeneutical lenses through which the people in the supermarket view the crisis they find themselves in and how they come to deal with the horror they have little control over. 

The three lenses are clarified once a small group of those locked in the supermarket try to leave the building through the loading dock.  I won't give away exactly what happens, but this group witnesses an event that confirms for them earlier reports of what the mist conceals.  When they report what they have seen, the people divide into three hermeneutical groups:

Evidence-based rationalists who believe that the men are lying about the event they witnessed, steadfastly insisting on empirical proof and refusing to credit the incredible story w/o such proof.

Apocalyptic doomsayers who believe the men but interpret the event as a sign of God's wrathful judgment on a sinful world, demanding expiation in blood.

Pragmatic survivors who are unsure of what the men saw but nonetheless prepare themselves for survival as if the men are telling the truth.   

Each group proposes its own explanation of the crisis according to its hermeneutical lens and sets out possible responses to the crisis given their initial assumptions.   Each group is sorely tested by events, and each experiences potentially debilitating set backs.

The ending is heartbreaking.  And you will be very surprised to learn which of the three turns out to be true. 

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Coffee Bowl Browsing

American-style sex scandal hits the German Church.  The Church in Europe is under both external and internal attack.  Pay attention to the amount of energy and time the Holy Father puts into calling on European Catholics to return to the faith of our fathers.  He knows what's going on.

BXVI calls out the culture of death in the E.U.  Talk about a lone voice crying out in the wilderness.

Kudos to B.O. on making the right decision:  no plans for the U.S. to join the International Criminal Court anytime soon.

The decline of the global warming farce is not being hidden.  It's time to de-fund the whole thing and send the IPCC apparatchiks back to their dank basements at mama's house.

I watched highlights of Sarah Palin's address to the Tea Party convention.  What I heard wasn't all that impressive.  Some are painting her as a female Ronald Reagan.  Naw.  She's gonna need a MUCH better speechwriter to achieve that.  Governor Palin, have your people call my people.  I'm free this summer!

The other side of the CCHD story:  Fr. Frank Pavone, pro-life priest extraordinaire, defends the former head of the CCHD, James Carr, against accusations of being pro-abortion. 

Tom Peters, the American Papist, has a round-up of links about the CCHD controversy.

This is both cute and cruel.  But the really important question here is:  where's the sweet and spicy relish?

10 places you cannot visit. . .including the chapel containing the Ark of the Covenant!

Man survives polar beat attack:  gruesome pics that may make you lose your breakfast.

13 foreign words with no English equivalents.  During my time in China as an English professor, I had a very difficult time learning the rules of guanxi ("gwan-chee").

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Modernist crisis in religious life?

Cardinal Franc Rode, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, recently addressed the problems in contemporary religious orders, describing the situation as a "modern crisis." 

He argues that declining numbers, systemic dissent and disobedience, and spiritual malaise are all rooted in a surrender to secular worldviews, specifically, "the adoption of a secularist mentality and the abandonment of traditional practices."

The situation in contemporary religious life is not only a modern crisis but a "modernist crisis" as well; that is, a crisis brought on by the introduction, cultivation, and harvesting of the destructive fruits of modernist thinking.  

As a philosophical and theological worldview, modernism leads to several ways of thinking and acting that erode spiritually fruitful religious life. . .

First, modernism elevates scientific rationalism above mystery.  In an attempt to replace less reliable sources of knowing such as revelation, myth, mystery, etc., modernist thinkers placed materialist reason and science on the throne of knowledge.  Reason's patrimony as a divine gift for understanding God through His creation was up-ended.  Reason became an end in itself. 

Second, modernism, now committed to the pursuit of knowledge through reason alone, abandoned traditional metaphysics, the science of being.  No longer concerned with existence itself as a foundation for knowing, modernism replaced the divine with the natural, leaving us blind to everything but the material world.  Once our ways of knowing were naturalized, we no longer needed to appeal to any sort of objective ethical/moral standards.  There is nothing beyond nature that gives us a way of deciding between right and wrong, so there is no real  metaphysical difference btw right and wrong.

Third, if there is no real metaphysical difference btw right and wrong, how do we go about deciding which behaviors, beliefs, etc. are acceptable and which are not?  Since we are dealing only with the natural world--no objective standards, no appeal to God--we must appeal to emotion, affection.  Now, our moral decisions are made after asking the question, "how does this make me feel?"  Trusting in feelings over and above a rational assessment of objective truth inevitability leads to moral chaos. 

Fourth, by focusing exclusively on individual feelings, modernism rapidly declined into a project for self-fulfillment and narcissist projection:  the world and everyone in it is all about me and my needs.  As the sole creator and redeemer of my world, I am the final arbiter of what's good for me, bad for me, necessary for me to thrive, and you are just a player in my world--though a player I choose to respect as if you were totally independent of my decisions.   My respect for you, however, is premised solely on your willingness to stay out of my way.  Detached from community and transcendence, I am a morally free agent but, perversely, one largely determined by genetics, social forces, and biology. 

Fifth, as modernist rationalism slowly became more and more the possession of materialist science, the humanities surrendered to nihilism.  No objective standards.  Total suspicion of authority.  Elevation of liberationist politics over the search for truth.  Anti-realist appeals to language as the sole builder of "reality."  Collectivists models for knowing (philosopher Richard Rorty once noted, "The truth is what my colleagues will allow me to get away with saying.")  And the most destructive development of all for religious life:  the death of charity in the pursuit of individualized careers, agendas, etc. even to the destruction of the community.

Though Crdl Rode is correct in noting that secularization is destroying religious life, I do not think that an uncritical return to traditional religious practices will reverse this trend.  What we need is a renaissance in the humanist pursuit of mystery in the art, liturgy, theology, philosophy, literature of the Catholic sacramental imagination.  Simply picking up a rosary or wearing a habit is not going to revive religious life.  We have to come to a broadly, deeply held understanding of what it means to "stand under" the mystery of the divine and live toward our perfection in Him.  Traditional religious practices are more likely to lead us to this goal than the fabricated neo-pagan rituals many religious communities use now.  However, there is no magic in devotionals; no magic in habits or monstrances or anything else we associate with traditional religion. 

What we must do at every level is re-establish the notion that intellect, will, reason, emotion, etc. are all divine gifts oriented toward our divinization though Christ.  Nothing can stand above faith as the source and summit of our life in Christ, but every gift we have received as well-loved creatures can stand along side faith in order to clarify, enlighten, and distinguish.

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