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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Lynch mobs

The pagan Chinese remind us that lynch mobs aren't just driven by Christian sentiments, but by sentiments of natural law written on our stony hearts. They remind us that even people who have no understanding of Christ do understand that some attitudes are simply too selfish to be permitted.

On the other hand, the individual the great mass of Chinese have chosen to attack, a person who feels no empathy for thousands dead and tens of thousands injured, wasn't created ex nihilo. The atheistic culture of China - a culture our parasitic elites want us to emulate - helped produce her and many more like her.

The wish that the old would simply die and get out of the way, that the injured would shut up and quit moaning, that the bereaved would be quiet and quit mourning, these ideas are enshrined in both capitalist and communist cultures.

In both cases, the sorrow and pain serve "no useful purpose".
Indeed, without the Cross, neither sorrow nor pain can make sense to anyone.

Yet, like every pagan religion, Confucius and his descendants understood that the inability to fully understand something didn't strip that something of its power to awe. They acknowledged a need to stand or kneel in silence before the mystery of suffering and death.

This silence before the mystery, this is what both capitalism and communism abhor. It implies that there are things outside of human control, that we are more than the sum total of our chemical constituents. This silence cannot be borne.

Christians aren't abhorred because our faith makes no sense.
Rather, we are abhorred precisely because our Faith does make sense.

But the understanding it brings, the facts it supplies, are at variance with the illusions the elites would prefer, whether those illusions be the phantasms of our favorite television shows or our favorite sins.

The television shows us a lot of little pictures, and through its lens it is easy to mistake Hollywood's creation from God's creation or our own.

God creates the good, we create the suffering.

Through the lens of the television set, we compare the glory of Hollywood's creations to the reality of our own.

We see the suffering we created and reject it.
"That has nought to do with me," we insist.

And in that moment, when our defiant voices ring defensively around our illusions, in that moment the stones themselves cry out for justice.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Solving the Problem

If America just permitted public school teachers to get married, this kind of thing wouldn't happen.

I blame the women-only priesthood of middle school teachers.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Best Laid Plans

As regular readers know, I'm a nut about doing restored order for the sacraments, i.e., trying to get Confirmation done before First Eucharist, and for adult catechesis.

This story describes a diocese in which the bishop has restored the order of the sacraments and insisted that parents undergo formation at the same time as their children. They call it "family catechesis," other dioceses refer to it as "whole community catechesis."

Great idea, right?

Well, yes, the idea was great.
The execution....

As the reporter unwittingly illustrates, even when a bishop does the right thing, if the parish catechists are clueless, nothing really gets better.

"Parents at St. Thomas More attend separate formation sessions for part of each class. They learn the same topic as their children and then prepare a skit or poster for the young learners.

[Editorial Note: Nice that parents and kids learn the same topic at the same time, but why force adults to do childish things like "skits" and "posters"? Posters are so out of date. Maybe if parents created web pages... I'm kidding. How about we just let the parents interact with their own children naturally? Why force them through these stupid kindergarten exercises? But wait. It gets worse.]

....The older students are staying involved in the parish, too.

Alexis LaBenz, a seventh-grader at St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Chandler, said her family has become more active. She began liturgical dance and will be confirmed later this year. [liturgical dance? Is this some sort of sick joke?]

“It’s kind of nice that you get to do it now and be a member of the Church earlier,” she said. (emphasis added) [Oh, glad to see she has been reading the Catechism. And here I thought that BAPTISM made you a member of the Church...]

“We’re lucky,” said St. Theresa sixth-grader Jared Wagner about being confirmed now.

Barb Lishko, coordinator of youth ministry at St. Andrew the Apostle, fosters continued parish involvement. She already asked the youth what ministries they are interested in and will hold training during confirmation class later this month."

Sigh. The article even started with commentary from the diocesan spokesman emphasizing that Confirmation is not a sacrament of maturity, but no one at this parish seems to have gotten the word.

So, what's the lesson here?

When the catechists are uncatechized and/or idiots, it doesn't matter where you have moved the deck chairs. The ship is still going down.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Einstein's Error

I have been searching for quotes from scientists in support of faith. During the course of this search, I've run into quite a few misunderstandings about how the two interact, but the subtlest of the errors was here:

However, according to Christianity, the purpose of the universe is not to be morally or physically perfect, but to provide a place where spiritual creatures can choose to love or reject God - to live with Him forever in a new, perfect universe, or reject Him and live apart from Him for eternity. It would not be possible to make this choice in a universe in which all moral choices are restricted to only good choices. Einstein didn't seem to understand that one could not choose between good and bad if bad did not exist. It's amazing that such a brilliant man could not understand such a simple logical principle.

That's not quite right.

God did not put us in this universe in order to choose between good and bad. He put us in this universe so that we might grow. We were never meant to choose evil, evil was never meant to be part of this universe.

God created everything.
God created everything good.

Evil is, therefore, not a created thing - it is a distortion or twisting of the good, an absence of the good.

Evil does not have its own existence because God didn't create it and nothing else has the power to bring existence out of nothing. Thus evil cannot have its own existence. At best, it is something that is less good than it should be, sometimes radically less good. Evil is that which lacks the good it should have.

In short, evil is illusion, it is the illusion that something exists where nothing actually exists.

That's why Aquinas said the doing of evil is the choice of the good instead of the best. When we mistake the good for the best, when we choose the good instead of the best because we have confused the two, we have committed evil. When we confuse ourselves deliberately, we commit sin.

To say that God created the universe so that we had to choose implies that evil MUST exist alongside good.

This is the heresy of the Manichees: the idea that evil is necessary to the universe.
It isn't.

The purpose of the universe is, indeed, to be morally, physically perfect, but that perfection is something we are meant to attain through growth in our knowledge and understanding of God. As we grow in our intimacy with God, we are supposed to train creation to attune itself more and more towards God.

Our knowledge of God is supposed to make our faith, our trust in Him, grow, mature, become unshakeable. We do not grow through choice, we grow through delving ever deeper into intimate communion with the Persons of God.

It isn't choosing the good over the best, but choosing the best over and over again, and learning something new each time we do it - that is what we were originally meant to do.
It is what we are still meant to do.

In heaven, we cannot choose evil.
But that is not because evil doesn't exist, rather it is because our knowledge, our understanding, our communion with God has expanded to such an enormous degree that it overflows the full capacity of who we are.

In heaven, I have such an enormous understanding of God's goodness, it is so immediate, so pure, so powerful, that there is no more room for the illusion that anything else approaches His goodness.

I can't choose evil anymore because there is no room in me to be fooled anymore. My growth is complete, my knowledge has reached its zenith, my understanding has reached its depth, my intimacy has reached its perfection.

It isn't about choice.
It never has been.

A tough question

For all those people who already know the difference between a terrorist and a liturgist (you can negotiate with a terrorist), I have written this new and deeper contemplation:

What's the difference between a suicide bomber and a liturgist?

A suicide bomber only ruins your day once.

I am waiting for the day when someone repeats this joke back to me...

Silver Lining

The Huffington Post, Camille Paglia and Lifesite News are all in agreement: Barack Obama might choose Governor Sebelius as his vice presidential candidate.

While the successful election of an Obama/Sebelius ticket would be an absolute disaster for the United States, such an election would hold out real potential to force the Catholic Church in the United States to become faithful again.

If nothing else, such a win would have ENORMOUS potential to embarrass Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington DC.

The good Archbishop has said that any decision to deny the Eucharist belongs to the bishops of the dioceses from which a pro-abortion politician hails, not to him. Given that a bishop has the duty to teach to the Church universal, with a particular stress on safeguarding the reception of sacraments within his own diocese, this has been a very convenient, if not entirely truthful, way to pass the buck. None of the local bishops with such publicly heretical Catholics have had the guts to do their job in this regard.

But what if Obama won with Sebelius at his side?
The very possibility would give Archbishop Wuerl nightmares.

After all, Arcbhishop Naumann of Kansas City has already publicly told Governor Sebelius that she is not to approach for reception of the Eucharist.

If Obama/Sebelius win the election, Archbishop Wuerl would be in the peculiar situation of denying the Vice President of the United States the Eucharist, while giving Jesus to Ted Kennedy, who is incidentally dying from a brain tumor in no small part because of his insistence on receiving the Eucharist during a papal Mass.

Archbishop Wuerl would be hoist by his own petard into highlighting the absolute rank stupidity of the current USCCB policy on Eucharistic reception and the de facto schism it has already wreaked upon the Catholic Church in the United States.

The USCCB policy could not long endure such a public spectacle.

Either all pro-abortion politicians would begin to be denied, or the entire hierarchy of the United States bishops who espouse giving the Eucharist to men like Kennedy and women like Pelosi would have to make plain their schism from the Church.

And we know which way that will go.

Men who don't have the guts to stare down Kennedy and Pelosi certainly don't have the guts to stare down Pope Benedict XVI. They would toe the line, even if they didn't believe it. And, as Pascal's Wager made plain, if you live the Faith for a year, you start to understand in your bones how to believe the Faith and accept it in your life. Such a public spectacle could force our bishops back to orthodoxy.

So, there is a possible silver lining even to the Obama cloud.

But, sadly, this is why Sebelius probably won't be chosen as the VP candidate. If she is, the USCCB will have an extremely vested interest in making sure Obama is NOT elected. Not because Obama is pro-abort, but because Sebelius is sanctioned, and it could get publicly messy for the bishops if she got in, therefore Obama has to be kept out.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Angels and Monkeys

You know, I have heard endless numbers of atheists make fun of the Middle Ages because philosophers debated how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.

Today, we are much more sophisticated.

We argue about how many monkeys it would take to type a legible sentence on a typewriter.

Which just goes to show that technology DOES transform discussions.