15 July 2010

Smoothing the Way (Podcast)

Arrrrgggg. . .I'm beginning to think that I am going to have to be either a philosopher or a preacher.  This homily made perfect sense while I was writing it.  Once I started preaching. . .all sense was lost.  You can probably hear it in my voice.  Sigh.  Also, I was completely distracted by the rivers of sweat flowing down the back of the neck. 

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


Jesus tells the disciples that his yoke is easy and his burden is light. Is this how we experience our lives in Christ? Light and easy? It's a fair question and one no few of us have asked. But no blame should fall on us for doubting that the life we have chosen in Christ is light and easy. True, the demands of growing daily in holiness are few. All we need do is love God and others as God Himself loves us. Be merciful, avoid evil, witness with our every word and deed the way to salvation through Christ. The demands are few, but they are relentless—unwavering and constant. Even the smallest task done all day every day for years will eventually exhaust the strongest body, the purest soul. It's not the weight of our work toward holiness that burdens us but the repetition this work requires that can send us into despair. Anyone can be holy, do holy work for an hour or a day. But being holy, doing holy work for a lifetime is much, much more difficult, if not impossible—well, impossible, that is, if holiness were measured by what we manage to accomplish in a lifetime, or measured against the perfection of achieved by Christ. His yoke is easy and light, and so is the life in Christ to which we have vowed ourselves. Isiah shares the secret of being a follower and doing God's work: “The way of the just is smooth; the path of the just [God makes] level.”

If we experience our lives in Christ as a heavy burden is it probably because we believe that our work toward holiness includes the arduous task of clearing away the wreckage of our sin. How can I come to Christ and do and be what and who he demands if I am loaded down with the garbage of a dissolute life? Don't I need to be clean before I start down the Christian path? It makes sense to hold that nothing clean can come from a filthy source. Nothing good can come from evil. And this would make sense if we were talking about human goodness, human evil. But we're not. Isiah says it plainly, it is God Himself who levels the steep hills, straightens the crooked paths, and sets us right by washing us clean. It is God Himself who prepares us for the work we must do. Christ's yoke on our shoulders is light and easy not because we come to him as self-made, ready-made holy men and women, but because the really hard work of our holiness has already been done for us. All we need do is persist, endure in the work. And even then we persist and endure only because of His grace.

If Christ's yoke is heavy and difficult around our necks it is likely because we ourselves weigh it down, because we ourselves have tried to put it on without Christ's help. Knowing that only Christ forgives us our sins, does it make sense to believe simultaneously that we are burdened by sin and that we must come to Christ cleansed of that sin? Can sin remove sin? If you believe that you cannot take on Christ's yoke until you are strong enough to bear it, then how do you get strong enough while you are weak? Can weakness strengthen weakness? Obviously not. The burden our Lord lifts is not only the actual sin that we carry but also the heavy and false belief that the job of lifting this burden is ours alone. It is not. Never has been. It is God's job to smooth the steep hills and straighten the crooked paths. Let Him do His work. It is your job to travel His smoothed-out, straightened-upped Way. Now, that your work is light and easy and the yoke around your neck is a joy, count yourself among the loved ones of the Lord, hurry to Him and find your rest.

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Church of England considers allowing its male bishops to become nuns.  You can't make this stuff up.  Seriously.

Should the bar exam be abolished?  I got a mediocre GRE score when I took the thing in 1986.  My MA/PhD GPA was not predicted by this score.  Generally, standardized tests don't really test much more than how well students take tests. . .especially multiple-choice tests.  If you really want to test grad school potential, require students to write an extended essay. 

Hmmmm. . .author wants the Holy Father to condemn the "errors" of Vatican Two.  This looks incredibly dodgy to me.  Certainly there are interpretations of VC2 teaching that need condemning, but to suggest that the Pope should condemn the Council is highly controversial.

How one Catholic preacher struggles to compose his Sunday homily.  I'm learning how important it is for a good preacher to be connected to regular Catholics!  The stuff I spend my time thinking about all week is greatly removed from what 99.9% of Catholics worry about.

I listened to a debate on NPR yesterday about the ban on face veils in France. . .found myself waffling with each side.  Is it about religious freedom?  Or is it about undermining an Islamic fundamentalist tool of social control?

Check out reactions from black writers/thinkers to yesterday's clueless resolution from the NAACP condemning Tea Party "racism." 

In so far as the Tea Party movement opposes the statist ambitions of both the Dems and the GOP, I am sympathetic.  However, billboards like this one only serve to fuel the MSM meme that the TPM is controlled by a fringe ideology.  Let's support a moratorium on Hitler comparisons.  Like the accusation of racism, they've become largely meaningless.

So much for ObamaCare will NOT use your tax dollars to fund abortions!  Of course, most of us knew they were lying.  Opposition to BOCare is still high and unchanging.  Guess the snake-oil salesman pitch isn't working.

Oh the irony!  The Civil Rights Commission wants to question the DoJ lawyers about the dept's alleged refusal to prosecute cases with black defendants and white plaintiffs.  Why is this ironic?  Well, we might expect that the CRC would the natural political ally of the US's first black president.  I guess the folks on the CRC are more interested in their sworn duty than playing politics.

On how not to restore credibility to your profession:  Pro-Cap and Trade/Global Warming Theory columnist is frustrated with the pathetic white wash of the the Climate Gate Scandal review committees. 

When social engineering Leftists lose the debate at the Supreme Court they go to the World Court in order to get their agenda imposed.  Good luck with that.

Excellent advice.  Simple and straight to the point.

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14 July 2010

Only the child-like (Podcast)

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Church of the Incarnation, Univ of Dallas

Podcast  (Please let me know if you're having trouble with these podcasts)

The Psalmist sings, “The Lord will not abandon his people!” If we need to be assured of this promise, we have the birth of Christ Jesus among us; his suffering, death, and resurrection. We have the assurance of the his body, the Church; the assurance of his sacraments, most especially the sacraments of our baptism and the saving sacrifice of his Body and Blood in this Eucharist. And if we need to be assured even beyond these rock-solid promises, he has given us his word, “All things have been handed over to me by my Father. . .no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him." The only question for us is this: are we ready, willing, and able to receive the truth of the Father that His Son freely reveals? Though worldly wisdom and worldly learning might help us to clarify and better understand Christ's revelation after we have received him; neither nor both together can prepare us to accept all that the Son has to give. 

If the wisdom and learning of human history cannot prepare us to receive the revelation of Christ Jesus, who or what can? Jesus teaches his disciples that only the child-like can see and hear all that he has to disclose. Only the child-like. Only those unencumbered by the worries of the days and weeks and years that come with living in the world. Only those who live perfectly trusting in the Father's love. Only those who show mercy as the Father shows mercy. Before the glory of God, we must be child-like: innocent, trusting, open to instruction, eager to please, and utterly without guile. In other words, we must be sweating hot with the desire to learn the truth, to put off our anxieties; the desire to be transformed. We can begin this program of spiritual exercise by hearing and believing the Psalmist's refrain: “The Lord will not abandon his people.”

Imagine for a moment what you could learn about God's revelation if you would set aside for just one day, even just one hour, your need to be right, your need to be safe, your need to be in charge. Imagine if you set these aside and fully, truly accepted that the Lord would never leave you to destruction, never forsake you to an eternal death. What could you learn? How would you grow? Think for a moment about the locks you put on your trust, on your love, on your hope. How many are there? Can you count them? Do you believe that hoarding the gifts God has given you will earn you compound interest in heaven? Or that a cautious, meager charity will benefit you in the long run? Gifts left unused for the good of your neighbors will eventually atrophy and die, leaving behind a bitter waste, an angry, soured soul. There is nothing child-like about living your life in resentment and disappointment. Our Father will never abandon us. What is there for us to fear? Nothing. Nothing at all.

The Father created all things to reveal Himself to us; all things reveal the truth of God. But before we can see and hear all He has to tell us, we must be ripe for the revelation; fully prepared to have the seeds of His wisdom planted in our hearts and minds. And only those who watch and listen without anger, bitterness, or guile; without resentment or disappointment; only those who present themselves as students ignorant of pride and envy, only these can be the soil rich enough, fertile enough to grow His Word into a magnificent harvest. The Lord will not abandon us. He has already given us everything we need to remain steadfast along The Way. So, receive His gifts and give thanks; we are His.

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13 July 2010

Scientific Materialism and Cultural Naturalism

First Things (R.R. Reno):  The Gospel of Scientific Materialism, "The basic thrust of a reductive science of the mind involves a move from cultural categories—'I have an obligation to care for my children'—to biological ones—'I only feel an obligation because human DNA has evolved to promote species survival.'  It is a way, in other words, to deny the reality and authority of culture."

If I were a scientific materialist I would object:  No, SM doesn't seek to replace the cultural with the biological, but rather it seeks to explain the cultural with the biological.  In other words, the cultural imperative to care for my children is derived from the biological imperative to promote species survival.  In so far as SM seeks to explain the physical world we live in, it generally eschews drawing neat conclusions about social phenomena (e.g., family obligations).  A scientific materialist would simply shrug her shoulders at a question about the nature of the family, or the cultural norms embedded in communal practices. 

Those who hope to replace cultural imperatives with biological explanations are committed philosophically to more than scientific materialism; they are committed to a kind of cultural  naturalism that argues against the existence of truths knowable apart from materialistic-naturalistic explanations (in this case, objectively knowable moral truths).  

The $15 name for this is Non-eliminative reductive ontological naturalism.*  NEON argues that  the reality of the world we live in includes only those things that the natural sciences can describe and explain.  This means that all cultural, social, economic categories are reducible to naturalistic categories (genetics, etc.). 

Scientific materialism, when limited to its proper field of expertise, is culturally, socially neutral; that is, it makes no claims on the existence or nature of non-material entities or categories.

*cf. Paul Moser, The Evidence for God, pg. 71.

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"abortion is a blessing and our work is not done"

You have to wonder, if abortion is all its supporters say it is, why don't we see more vids like the one posted below shown on CNN, MSNBC, etc?

Also, watch the vid if we are curious about what sort of education a $100,000 will buy you at the  Episcopal "Divinity" School these days.   This woman is their Dean.

Is it any wonder my old home, The Episcopal Church, is nearly dead? 

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12 July 2010

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Think you might be called to serve God and His Church as a priest or religious?  Try out the Discernment Tester!   I'd love to hear from anyone who tries this.

LibDems whining about the colossal failure of their liberalism, especially the disappointment they feel about B.O.  Sorry, you guys never had any good reason to think that he was anything but just another Chicago politician. 

Hope for all of us aging geezers:  chemical to regrow brain cells.  All the braincells I killed in my first two years of grad school thank you.

Iran's human rights chief defends the sentence of stoning that an Islamic court gave a confessed adulteress.  Remember:  Iran sits on the U.N.'s Commission on Women's Rights.

As the Church of England abandons yet another tenet of western catholicism, hundreds of Anglican clergy contemplate swimming the Tiber.  I just hope they learned the lessons of 1994 and work over the heads of the Catholic bishops of England & Wales.  IOW, go straight to the Holy Father!

The governmental "War on Science" is continues unabated under the enlightened stewardship of B.O. 

Cupcakes for the Zombies in your family.  Um, should we be feeding these guys?

These graphs fully express my own sense of social/intellectual inadequacy.  Sigh.

The iPhone comparison checklist.  iPhone wins!  But just barely.

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11 July 2010

New podcast

The homily for the 15th Sunday in OT has been uploaded as a podcast. 

Not sure if it's working though. . .I can't get the thing to play.

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On Kagan's free-speech double standard:  free for the right kind of speech.

B.O. has finalized plans for his third vacation since April 20.  I guess presiding over the political, economic, social, and diplomatic failure of one's country is pretty exhausting.  Didn't the lefty MSM scream bloodly murder every time "W" went to Crawford?

Lots of sabotage suggestions from one of the web's funniest bloggers, Iowahawk.

Spanking Oliver Stone for his Chavez propaganda.

"All told, the feds have deputized 1,100-plus cops in 26 states to round up illegals. . ."  So, why is the DoJ suing AZ for doing what the federal gov't is already paying them to so?

Another clerical betrayal:  CT pastors a whole lotta parish money on rent boys.  NB.  procedures are in place in this diocese to prevent this sort of thing. . .they weren't followed.  IOW, policies and procedures in and of themselves prevent nothing.  People do.

Anglicans still wrangling over women "bishops."  Can there be any doubt that the Church of England is thoroughly Protestant?

How onions make us cry.  I've found that it's best to wear ear plugs.

Cute fix for today. . .and the rest of this week.

M&M Darwinism. . .which color of M&M is worthy to survive?

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OP Conference on Thomism

Fair Warning!  Dominicans getting together to think out loud!!!

A conference on contemporary Thomism held in Warsaw, Poland just last month.  
Site includes audio files.

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