12 June 2010

Coffee Bowl Browsing

The Left spent eight years laying the blame for everything from socio-economic injustices to natural disasters on Bush, making the President of the U.S. the nexus of all causes and responsible for all effects:  ". . .unfortunately for President Obama, [this move] has become a nihilistic genie who cannot be put back into a bottle."

B.O.'s Labor Dept celebrates:  $863 billion for "green job" creation!  Woo-Hoo!!  Then wonders:  now, can someone Out There tells us what a "green job" is? 

An exemplary bishop shows the whole Church how to handle the potentially explosive issue of openly gay Catholics serving at Mass.  The key?  Be a pastor/teacher and not a legal client. 

The inevitable evolution of the Culture of Death:  nurses admit to murdering patients.

On two sorts of fundamentalism banging together their equally thick skulls.

Will B.O. abandon our only reliable Middle East ally at the next U.N. Security Council?  Probably.  Fortunately, the U.N.S.C. is largely irrelevant to reality.

Italian police tapping the Pope's phone calls?  Yes, but it's not as bad as it sounds.  Yet.

Former Anglican bishop proclaims, "Wouldn't it be wonderful if there were as many sexualities as there are human beings?"  Needless to say, the ex-bishop is divorced and currently playing with his new found homosexuality.

Get Religion dissects the latest pathetic attempt by Madonna-wanna, Lady GaGa, to shock and appall the bourgeois.  Of course, all she's really doing is playing to her highly trained, equally debauched cheerleading squad of Hollywood suckups and NYT readers.  Should Catholics be outraged?  No.  Brats want attention when they pitch fits.  Just chuckle quietly to yourself, shake your head, and continue on with your life.

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A new design

A new look for HancAquam. . .what do you think?

Blogger was no longer offering a way to customize the older templates, so it was either stay with the old design forever or make a change.

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11 June 2010

Itinerancy & the Wish List

After a flurry of much appreciated activity on the Wish List, I'll be closing the link soon.  

I will once again become the classical itinerant friar in about nine days, moving from Rome to Mississippi to Texas to Oxford and back to Rome.

Hoping that books could keep up with an ever-shifting shipping address is probably not a good idea.

Besides, the overwhelming generosity of my book benefactors has given me more than enough material to keep me out of any serious trouble over summer!  Well, let's hope so anyway.

There's a sizable stack of books sitting at my parents' house in Mississippi.  They've been thoroughly impressed by this example of Catholic largess!  It's always a good thing to have the Baptist parents of a Catholic priest impressed by his fellow Catholics.

Mille grazie!

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Coffee Bowl Browsing

Fascinating ruling from a Maryland court on the constitutionality of a law that makes fortune-telling illegal.  This decision is fascinating--to me anyway--because the ruling hinges on whether or not fortune-tellers are involved in fraud. 

"Illegal aliens" vs. "Undocumented workers."  Once again our political betters among the leftist elite demonstrate their faith in the ability of language to create reality.  As usual, its a cynical ploy.

Evangelical roundtable discussion on illegal immigration:  "Is there a 'Christian position' on illegal immigration? Would it be un-Christian to expel illegal immigrants who have built their lives in the United States?"  As I understand the Church's position, the State is morally obligated to enforce all legitimately enacted laws.  Catholics are morally obligated to follow these laws so long as they coincide with the natural law.  The question seems to be whether or not immigration laws are consistent with the natural law.

Why aren't the Hollywood glitterati who flocked to the Gulf of Mexico after Katrina clogging Interstate 10 to get there now as millions of gallons of oil gush into the Gulf?  That's easy.  Their guy is in the White House now.

Violence against a Tea Party demonstration in NC.  The video was removed from Youtube.  I wonder why?  Could it be because the story violates the "Tea Pariters are the Violent Extremists" meme of the MSM?  Or is it that the puncher is a black union activist and the punchee a white Tea Partier?  You can see the video here.

More on Stephen Hawkings' attempt to use a strictly materialist scientific method to answer a metaphysical/existential question.  The question, "Why is there something rather than nothing?" cannot be answered by science.

A report on Haitian voodoo.  I believe that the human fascination with magic is directly related to our deeply planted desire to live sacramentally.  Turning to magic/voodoo/occult practices is a disordered attempt to satisfy this desire.

Rocket propelled chainsaw. . .built for terrorists, works on Zombies too!

Birds and the Bees (Computer Geek version 2.0)

Why I wear a beard. . .

Military humor. . .

Sacred Heart homily (2007)

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus: Ez 34.11-16; Rom 5.5-11; Luke 15.3-7
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
Serra Club Mass (Church of the Incarnation)

What does it mean to “boast of God”? Paul tells the Romans that b/c they are reconciled to the Father in Christ Jesus that they may boast of God. Are we to brag about His power? His mercy? Are we to talk him up like a presidential candidate? Or are we lifting Him up so that we might be lifted up as well? Rising in glory with Him? These all seem a little self-serving. A little too much like pride slopping over the edges of vanity and spilling out into self-promotion. Such publicity—especially for personal enlargement—does little to strenghten the source of legit boasting: a Christ-shaped heart pounding out the loving blood of service and sacrifice. Our Good Shepherd rescues us from the rugged gullies and the dark forests and brings us back to level ground and light. It is precisely his love for us that sends him out in search of just me or just you. With great joy he finds us lost and celebrates our return. That joy, that elation at the return of just one lost soul is the burst of holy fire, the BANG! of the Spirit that shakes our own hearts, lets us feel his pleasure at giving his Father one more broken spirit. So full are we then with the light and warmth and glow and crackle and silk smooth love of Christ’s sacrifice that our own hearts are set apart, consecrated for holy duties, becoming that place in us out of which we serve and serve and serve. The Good Shepherd knows his sheep because his sheep pump his blood; his sheep hold his sacred heart in their bodies and feel the pounding of all the love he can pour in. He died for us while we were still sinners. Still sinners. He died for us confident that our own hearts—tabernacles made to hold his presence—would come alive with his blood. The Psalmist says this morning, “Only goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life.” Can you say that? Listening to the thump of the shepherd in your heart, can you say that goodness and kindness will follow you…everyday of your life? If not, do not boast of God. Do not claim His presence or patronage. If your heart will burst with goodness, then boast! Tell it all to the world! Boast of His words, deeds, and what He has done for you. Boast your witness until the conflagration of all sacred hearts.

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Children's homily for the Sacred Heart (2007)

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus: Ez 34.11-16; Rom 5.5-11; Luke 15.3-7
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
DECAT Mass (St. Rita)

[NB. This homily was written for and preached to about 250 fifth graders who are finishing up their time in the diocese's DECAT program (a summer program for academically gifted children attending Catholic schools). The sound is weird b/c I was moving around a lot. Also, this is the first time I have ever preached w/o reading my homily. . .] 


Having grown up Baptist in the deep south, it took me a long time to get used to this Catholic habit of venerating holy body parts: the arm of Aloysius, the head of Agnes, the chipped up bones of Martin, Dominic, Ignatius. Pieces of clothing or keepsakes like glasses or bookmarks seemed perfectly fine. But taking a saint’s pinkie bone and locking it in a gold trimmed, vacuumed sealed glass case for safe travel around the world…well, that’s just creepy. Spending time in Rome didn’t help me being any less creeped out either. Made it worse in fact! There’s a church there made of nothing but human skulls and thigh bones. It seems like every church has a Holy Body Part in a box and some have the whole body! Now, here we are today honoring the sacred heart of Jesus. What exactly are we honoring? And why?

Let’s answer these questions with this one: what is the link between Jesus’ sacred heart and this morning’s biblical image of Jesus as a good shepherd? To start an answer to this question and the two previous questions, we need to know what the heart is and does in our Catholic spirituality. Historically, the heart for our faith is a symbol of the whole person, the person made whole by God, brought to the fullness of healing, and set right in holiness. All of the various images of the heart bear this out: the pierced heart of Mary, showing us her grief; the crowned heart of Jesus, showing us his triumph over death in heaven, and so on. The heart is also a mystical image of our covenant with God. Think of your heart as a tabernacle, a holy vault where you keep your promises to God and He keeps His to you. Your heart then is that place in your soul where you are closest to God, most intimate with the Holy Spirit; your heart is the center of our very being, the source of your life.

Now, I have to tell you what your heart isn’t, or better yet how the word “heart” gets used in our popular media and why that use doesn’t apply to us here. How many of you have heard Disney characters tell the story’s hero: “Just follow your heart! Feel your way along!” I heard Yoda say this to Obi Wan Kenobi just yesterday afternoon. I groaned out loud and switched the channel back to Mythbusters. At least they were blowing up raw chickens with nitro. The idea that the “heart” rules our deliberations, governs our passions, and serves as an infallible guide to our decision-making isn’t all that crazy if (IF!) we remember that God governs the heart. But Hollywood generally means that we should just do what we want to do and use the excuse “I was just following my heart” to justify whatever mess we cause in acting irrationally.

OK. Back to Jesus’ sacred heart and the Good Shepherd. Here’s what Christ wants for you and from you. What he wants for you is a life of holiness lived in service to others. There is no holiness for the Christian without service to others. Let me say that again: if you do not serve others—help other people when they need your help—you cannot grow in holiness. God loves you and His love for you is perfected (made complete, whole) in you when you use your talents and gifts for the benefit of others. Your job is to become Christ for other people—doing what he did, teaching what he taught, and preaching what he preached. You can do this with your brains, your hands, your back, with music, words, paints, numbers, motherly talents, fatherly talents, with technology, without it, in an office or a church, with song, dance, a poem or a novel, whatever gift God has given you to improve on: use it, use all of them, for others. That’s what Jesus wants for you.

What does he want from you? Christ is the Good Shepherd, his heart is holy, his relationship with His Father is perfect. Everything that Christ is as a person is wholly perfect in God the Father and the Holy Spirit. There is nothing we can give Christ or do for Christ that will add to his perfection. All we can do is multiple his love in the Church. So what he wants from us is to be good shepherds ourselves. To be men and women with strong hearts, clear vision, peaceful souls, and welcoming arms. Sometimes the shepherd has to redirect the flock from danger. Sometimes a sheep wanders away and must be brought back. Sometimes the wolves chase the flock and the shepherd has to defend his sheep. Each of us is responsible for the flock in his or her own way. Make sure your heart, that place in your soul where you keep the covenant, is ready for the challenge, ready to break free and get to work for God’s greater glory!

Paul writes to the Romans: “The love of God has been poured out into your hearts through the Holy Spirit…God [has proven] his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” Notice here: Christ did not wait for us to stop sinning before he died for us. He died so that we might be freed from sin. The Good Shepherd came running after us. We don’t have to find him. He has already found us. Now, we walk around with the tabernacle of God’s love, with hearts brightened by the Spirit’s fire.

Do what you must to perfect your gifts and talents. And a huge part of that perfection will be using your gifts and talents for the benefit of others. Some would say to you that you are too young to be thinking about giving your life to a gift or a talent or a service. I say: now is precisely the time to take on a passion, to pick up a call to do something heroic, to do something holy and to be a saint. When it comes to God perfecting His love in you, why would anyone choose to wait until later?

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10 June 2010

Coffee Bowl Browsing

Ahhhh, the stench of progressive tolerance and inclusion in the morning. . .

The man who gave us the Pentagon Papers says, "Obama is deceiving us."

Is B.O. "the alien in the White House"? 

Do feminists disparage conservative women at their peril? 

The BP oil spill did not happen b/c of Reaganesque de-regulation.  It happened b/c BP imprudently climbed in bed with Big Government.  The media are being prevented from reporting on the effects of the spill by BP and local/federal government officials.

Primary victories show that the political thuggery of unions is really just bad performance art.

An example of judicial prose from back when judges studied classical rhetoric.  Good stuff!

Judicial activism across the ideological spectrum.  This is not surprising.  Few people, believing their ideas to be true, and given the power to implement them, would resist the temptation to do so.

If pictures can speak a thousand words, then the doctored photos printed by Reuters scream, "We hate Israel!"

Stephen Hawking uses a false dichotomy between faith and reason to push for the superiority of science in human endeavors.  Hawkins laughably claims that faith relies on authority alone while science relies on reason.  Any anti-global warming scientists out there try to get published in Nature lately?  Hawkins is a victim of what I call "alethic hubris" in my thesis.

Satan appeared in a church one day and said to an elderly man in the front pew. . .

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09 June 2010

Dissertation topic

Several HancAquam book benefactors have asked about the topic of my doctoral dissertation.   They want to know what sort of academic work they are helping to fund!

My license thesis took on the problematic relationship between science and religion, arguing that a critical realist epistemology and a healthy dose of humility when making truth-claims on both sides represents the best way for the two ancient contestants to make peace.  I used the work of physicist-priest, John Polkinghorne, as my principle inspiration for this argument.

My dissertation topic will leave philosophy of science behind and take up the recently revived question of religious skepticism and divine hiddenness.  The question being asked:  if God wants us to believe that He exists, why doesn't He reveal Himself in such a way that disbelief would be unreasonable and culpable?  IOW, as it stands, our knowledge of God allows disbelief to be seen as reasonable and inculpable, both logical and blameless. 

I hope to focus on the philosophical implications of divine revelation, paying particular attention to how a Christian understanding of divine love entails that God remain hidden in order to honor human freedom.  Unfortunately, most of the work done on this question has been done by Anglo-American analytical philosophers, i.e. not Thomists or continental philosophers.

This wiki entry provides an excellent overview of the issues and lots of external links to primary and secondary sources.

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Coffee Bowl Browsing

A journalistic series to follow:  how the academy is used to push leftist propaganda using tax-payer money.

Not just torture but experimental torture. . .If these allegations are true, then heads need to roll!

I recently saw the movie, Unthinkable.  An American military expert in nuclear arms has converted to Islam and used his expertise to plant several nuclear bombs all over the country.  The dramatic tension of the movie revolves around a race between an FBI agent and an outlawed Army interrogator to persuade the terrorist to disclose the location of the bombs.  The agent uses humane techniques.  The interrogator tortures.  The movie does a good job of laying out the moral dilemmas of torture in the often-cited "ticking bomb" scenario used by proponents of torture.

Chinese Computer Geeks Riot!  Inmates at an internet addiction camp stage a coup.

Dealing with binge drinking among college students.  Yes, we need to lower the legal drinking age to 18.  History tells us that prohibitionist solutions tend to make problems worse.

Excuse Maker-in-Chief tells grads not to make excuses. . .a linked list of his excuses included.

Is abortion a form of demon sacrifice?  In a manner of speaking, yes, it is.

Deconstructing the iPhone:  a Heideggerian analysis

Graphic representations of information. . .using beautiful designs to convey complex info.

Great quotes about writing from writers.  My fav:  "Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them."  --Flannery O'Connor

The infamous Robotic Facial Hair defeater in all arguments.  Use with caution.  Assembly required.

An ad for a poker magazine:  can you pull off this bluff?  I don't think so.

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08 June 2010

Altar girls: permissible but not prudent

That the Holy Father has given permission for the use of altar girls tells us that the practice cannot be illegal or sacramentally invalidating. 

The question is whether or not it is prudent to ask girls to serve. Given what we know about 1) the reluctance of boys to take on roles that girls are encouraged to take; 2) how altar service leads to priestly vocations; and 3) the feminist agenda behind how altar girls came out--it seems to me that it is not prudent to invite young girls to serve in a parish setting.

Whether we like it or not, young boys do not rush to take on roles that girls are encouraged to take.  If 40 years of feminist indoctrination pushing the idea that equality means sameness hasn't convinced 10 y.o. boys that girls' role aren't icky, then I don't know what will convince them.  There is almost nothing more important to a 10 y.o. boy than to be seen as "not a girl."  We can argue ourselves into the dirt about how wrong this is, but we might as well stand outside at dawn and argue with the sun that it ought to be rising in the west!

There is ample evidence that altar service often leads to priestly vocations.  Since priests are indispensable to the ministry of the Church, we can't set aside the practice of all-male altar service simply b/c boys ought to know better.  

Those who pushed hardest for female servers in the 70's and 80's did so out of a philosophical and political agenda alien to the Church's understanding of the essential differences btw men and women.  The most damaging element of this agenda is the idea that ministers are merely functional; that is, there is nothing more to ministerial service than performing a function during a sacred service.  If a girl can "do the job," let her do it.  This notion is fine for all secular jobs, but ministerial service is not merely functional; it is also sacramental.  The early proponents of female servers often claimed that their stand was "prophetic" and would help Catholics "get used" to the idea of women on the altar when the Church finally got around to ordaining women as priests.  This exact argument was made in the Episcopal Church--that opposition to female priests was rooted in an aesthetic discomfort--and look at what's happened to that venerable institution.

So, girls serving the altar is permissible but probably not prudent, especially in a parish setting.

As I noted in an earlier post, I have asked women to serve Mass at the University of Dallas.  This came about primarily b/c none of the men I asked would serve.  There were several reasons the guys gave for not serving, but the most prominent was, "Sorry, Father, but I haven't been to confession."  This same reason was often given by both men and women when asked to serve as EMHC.  At one point in my last semester at U.D. I started postponing the start of Mass until I had all the help I needed.  I had to do this four or five times--postponing the start of Mass up to 20 mins!--before my message got through. 

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The Rainbow Bishop

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church recently sent a pastoral letter to her people defending TEC's radical innovations to the catholic faith.  GetReligion has the story, along with some questions that the media haven't asked.

If you are interested in the complex ecclesial issues behind this letter (and that hideous cope), check out Chris Johnson's take.

Coffee Bowl Browsing

Americans aren't buying the anti-Israeli/pro-Hamas spin of the MSM's coverage of the flotilla fracas.  Good on them.

Lots of pics and reports on the recent Stop the Mosque at Ground Zero rally. I'm not entirely sure what I think about this issue.  Not all Muslims are terrorists.  Nothing--that I know of--requires Muslims to be violent in the propagation of their faith.  But I can certainly understand why the families of 9/11 victims would be peeved.

Is there a "pedator-priest" problem in the Catholic Church? No.

Is being anti-Catholic essential to being English?  I hope not!  If I forced to renounce my American citizenship, I would immediately apply to become a subject of Her Majesty, the Queen.  My third choice?  Refugee status in the Vatican City State.

As a reasonably educated person with a deeply held sense of fairness, I realize that Wal-Mart is not always good for the local businesses it usurps.  However, as a Partisan Redneck with limited funds, I say, "Leave Wal-Mart alone!"

Fr. Z. tackles the thorny issue of female altar servers at a celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.  I've never celebrated the E.F.--probably never will--so I don't have a dog in this fight.  If I were a parish priest, I would not allow female altar servers for all the reasons normally given for this exclusion.  However, as a university chaplain, I frequently asked young women to serve.  The difference?  Boys are put off serving when girls are allowed to serve.  I hope this isn't a problem for college-aged men.  And I wish it weren't a problem for the boys!

Q:  do the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip need humanitarian aid?  A:  Not if infant morality rates are any indication of humanitarian need.

B.O.'s failure to promote an essential American value:  religious freedom.

The inevitability of a persecuted Catholic Church. . ."the gates of hell shall not prevail. . ."

Gangster hermeneutics:  Robert Frost as Poetic Thug 

On lying to children about the culinary habits of rhinos.

40 sayings from Nietzsche that promise to rock your world.

You know you wanna hear this guy's story!

Are you a psycho-killer?  Take the test!

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07 June 2010

Chevron 10 encoded!

You have to be three different kinds of Nerds to get this. . .

Coffee Bowl Browsing

Continuing fallout from the anti-Semitic rantings of the Left's favorite "journalist."  Imagine, if you will, Rush/Beck/Hannity/etc. declaring on national TV:  "Blacks back to Africa!  Out of the US!"  

Her co-author quits.  High school cancels her graduation appearance.  Heh.  Apparently, the only people who aren't offended by her naked racism are her fellow-lefty travelers in the MSM.

Papal visit to the U.K. is in a "state of chaos"?  What's going on up there?  If I were the suspicious type I'd say someone in the Church up there wants to keep the Holy Father's away from his people.

Different Franciscans, different habits:  what do the differences mean?  A venerable OP friar told me once that OP's wear the capuce (the "hoodie") as a sign of perpetual permission to leave the convent in order to preach.  By contrast, a monk would wear the capuce as a sign that he had permission to be out of the monastery.

Our post-American Commander-in-Chief skips out on D-Day celebrations to attend his second party this week.  Can Nov. 2012 come fast enough?  Are Dems sabotaging The Won?  Naw.  He's doing well enough on his own.

And in other democratic news. . .I mean Democrat News. . .they really don't want to give their employers another chance to yell at them if it means their butt-chewing will end up on Youtube.
"W" is still a powerhouse!  Two years out of the White House and he can cause radical Islamic terrorists to beat up Israeli troops and make those troops kill civilians.  Wow.  If I had that kinda power, I could pass the French exam!

The Church of England continues its suicidal slide into total evangelical irrelevance.   What's next?  Muslim bishops? 

This chipmunk does NOT need acting classes.

Math nerd pie. . .yes, even math nerds need the occasional pastry-fix.

Statistical proof that you are less likely to be killed in the Iraqi War Theater than you are in D.C.

The best kind of sarcasm?  Zen sarcasm!

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06 June 2010

23rd of 25! Could be better, could be worse. . .

Eric Sammons at The Divine Life has tallied the top 25 most subscribed-to Catholic blogs on Google Reader. The results:

(1) What Does the Prayer Really Say?: 4841
(2) Whispers in the Loggia: 4685
(3) Charlotte Was Both: 3053
(4) Conversion Diary: 1817
(5) New Advent Blog: 1429
(6) Creative Minority Report: 1248
(7) Patrick Madrid: 1173
(8) Standing on my Head: 1156
(9) The Hermeneutic of Continuity: 1053
(10) Damian Thompson: 954
(11) Rorate Caeli: 933
(12) The New Liturgical Movement: 892
(13) Ask Sister Mary Martha: 867
(14) Mere Comments: 811
(15) Catholic and Enjoying It!: 796
(16) Ignatius Insight Scoop: 749
(17) By Sun and Candlelight: 712
(18) Catholic Cuisine: 648
(19) The Shrine of the Holy Whapping: 643
(20) Testosterhome: 638
(21) Happy Catholic: 607
(22) The Crescat: 573
(23) Domine, da mihi hanc aquam!: 521
(24) Shower of Roses: 481
(25) Wildflowers and Marbles: 474

See the list of the Top 200 Most Popular Catholic Blogs over at my main website.

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Two more pics

For Moniales. . .per a request!

Fr. Alfred Wilder, Thomist philosopher-theologian of the Southern Dominican Province.  Fr. Wilder presided at the conventual Mass this morning for the last time in his 37 year teaching career here at the Angelicum.  He is headed back to the U.S. this summer.