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Monday, June 28, 2010

Covering Their Tracks

So, what's up with Chris West's Theology of the Body Institute?
Strange things are going on there.

  1. Archbishop Chaput quietly disappears from the list of episcopal advisors - no announcement, no fanfare, just POOF! and he's gone. The man who was responsible for West's first (inappropriate) imprimatur and upon whose reputation Chris West built his own reputation is suddenly and mysteriously out of the picture. Why did he leave?
  2. Chris West himself takes the trouble of setting up the first national conference sponsored by his TOB Institute, but then suddenly takes a six-month "sabbatical," timed in such a way that he can't show up at his own first national conference. Can anyone imagine why a publicity-hound like Chris West would set himself up for that kind of hole in his own speaking schedule? It defies belief.
  3. And now the URL has been dropped, with a new URL substituted - Why on earth would anyone throw away Google pagerank on an existing URL? After all, when an URL is dropped, Google not only resets your pagerank to ZERO, it erases all the cached pages to your domain, so you can't access the old content anymore.... Hmmm... And the old URL seems to have expired three weeks before West went on "sabbatical." ... Hmmm.....

Like the Stalinists of old, Matt Pinto, Chris West and the gang at the TOB Institute seem to be in the process of re-writing at least some of their history.

Stay tuned.
I'm sure this gets MUCH more interesting in the next few months.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Honoring The Ides of Christ

"What Would Jesus Do?"

"You need to act more like Christ."

"You are being DIVISIVE and RENDING the Body of Christ!"

Yada, yada, yada.

It's hard to take people who make these comments very seriously. After all, God's prophets were not known for their sweetness and light. People tend to forget the jeremiad was named after Jeremiah. Isaiah promised quite a diverse number of really nasty punishments to his listeners. John the Baptist's favorite question was, "Who told YOU that you could escape the coming destruction?!?"

Jesus was no less serious about getting in people's faces. Remember these Golden Oldies?
"You blind guides!...
You blind fools!...
You hypocrites!....
You snakes!...
You brood of vipers!...
You whitewashed sepulchres, pleasing to look at on the outside but filled with filth and charnel on the inside!...
You make your disciples TWICE the sons of hell that YOU are yourselves!...
How will you escape hell?" (Matthew 23)
He called one woman a dog ("It is not right to give the children's food to dogs": Matthew 15:26), and made His own special whip of cords in order to whip the money changers out of the Temple, turn over their tables and make a general mess inside (John 2).

Jesus cursed a fig tree so furiously it died on the spot. (Matthew 21:18-22)

He insisted that He had not come to bring peace. Quite the opposite:
"Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. (Matthew 10:34).
When an apostle lifted up two swords and said, "Here, we have swords," Jesus didn't reply with, "Idiot - I don't condone violence." He also didn't say, "You fools. I don't mean actual swords." In short, He didn't start explaining His remarks as yet another parable. Instead He saw the apostles' two swords and merely said, "That's enough" (Luke 22:35-38).

When Peter uses his sword to strike off Malchus' ear, Jesus does not forbid the use of the sword entirely, He merely says it is not to be used now, during His Passion (Luke 22, John 18). Similarly, when soldiers came up to him asking for various things, He never told them to stop being soldiers - although He certainly did tell tax collectors that they were saved when they stopped being tax collectors (Luke 19:1-10). Instead, He simply warned the soldiers not to abuse their position.

Although God is Love and Jesus is God, so Jesus is Love, Jesus wasn't very nice.
He was, in fact, about the most confrontational, divisive figure you can imagine.

Indeed, the only time He didn't verbally upbraid the men who opposed Him was when those same religious and secular authorities began to beat, scourge, humiliate, crucify and kill Him. And notice that He didn't shut up as soon as the idea to do this entered their heads - the religious authorities were looking to kill Him from the moment He raised Lazarus from the dead.

No, He continued to energetically correct them until the time HE chose to go silent.

Alright, so His prophets were divisive and HE was divisive, but His apostles were terribly gentle men, weren't they?

Were they?

Read about Paul in Acts, or better yet, read what he wrote to the Galatians sometime.

In Acts, Paul gets thrown out of synagogue after synagogue because he keeps fighting with the Jews who reject Christ. In Galatians, he not only proudly recounts his fight with Peter over how to interact with the Gentile converts, he also mentions that he hopes the Judaizers will castrate themselves. (Galatians 5:12, 6:12-13, 6:15)

Paul is so divisive he gets beaten, with rods, thrown in jail and nearly stoned to death. That's the man who becomes all things to all men so that he might by all means have a chance to save some.

Peter was no better. He threatened Simon Magus with damnation (Acts 8:9-24) and struck Ananias and Sapphira stone cold dead (Acts 4). His work in Rome so thrilled Caesar that the Emperor had him crucified upside down.

Essentially every martyred Christian follows this example. That's why the saints got martyred, after all. You don't get martyred unless you really tick somebody off. At some point, the words and actions of every single one of the apostles managed to generate a murderous rage in their hearers.

What makes us think we are supposed to be different?
Are we smarter?

So, when someone tells me to "act more like Christ" and "stop being so divisive!" what does that really mean?

Well, the short answer is simple - it's the coward's way of saying, "SHUT UP! I don't want to listen to you anymore!"

People who spew this "You are being DIVISIVE... NOT Christ-like!" phrase are not particularly Christian. They can't let their YES mean YES or their NO mean NO because they don't like being like Christ. They don't like getting in people's faces.

Instead, they call names - "YOU aren't like CHRIST!" - while pretending that they aren't calling names. They judge while retaining the false veneer of being non-judgemental and loving. They are white-washed tombs, pleasing to look at on the outside, but filled with venom and hatred on the inside.

They are like nothing so much as the pro-abort who says, "No one has the right to push their morality on others." Of course, if any pro-abort really believed such nonsense, she would remain silent, lest voicing this opinion render her a hypocrite as she forces on others her opinion about how morality should be handled.

As with the "Be more like Christ!" example, the phrase "Don't force your morality" really means, "SHUT THE HELL UP! I don't want to hear what you have to say." But by phrasing the sentiment as a moral judgement, the speaker gets to take the moral high ground and pretend to be holier than the one condemned by the phrase.

Of course, it should be noted that Jesus did command us to turn the other cheek, to give more than is asked of us, to care for one another. He did give us the greatest example of this when He opened not His mouth as He was led to destruction as a lamb led to the slaughter.

We must always remember that, after three years of incredibly divisive language and action, Jesus ended in silence.

Like the month of March, He came in like a lion, but left like a lamb. The ides of March fall on the 15th, the turning point of the month. It is the day Caesar was murdered, the day that Shakespeare has Marc Antony remark on the silent mouths of the knife wounds on Caesar's body that give testimony to his death.

So, for those of us who want to model our lives on Christ's, what is the take-away here?
We who follow Christ must honor the ides of Christ, honor and imitate every part of His life.

Jesus followed the law in all things, right down to the paying of the Temple tax.
As long as He had breath in His body, He fought injustice, hypocrisy and lies.
For three long years, He fought the good fight - divisive, in-your-face, brutal, but always the very essence of divine love.

Only at the end, as He allows human law to drag Him to His death, does He allow Himself to enter into His great silence. Although the breaking of the first six seals were accompanied by all kinds of calamity, the breaking of the seventh seal brought a long, great silence (Revelation 8:1).

Jesus was divisive in His words and in His actions.
But He was the most divisive of all in His silence.

It was in His incredibly provocative, contentious silence that Simon was forced to become God's co-worker and help carry the Cross.

It was in this divisive silence that eleven of His apostles broke and ran like water, leaving only one man, John, and a small group of women behind to watch silently with Him.

It was in this great silence that the tombs split open, the dead walked amongst the living, and the Temple curtain was torn in two.

It was in this great silence that the pagan soldier finally turned and spoke the unspeakable Truth: "Surely this man is the Son of God!"

So, yes, as Christians who want to model Christ, we have a right and a duty to fall silent before authority, to turn the other cheek, to give more than is asked of us.

But we have an equal right, and even a canonical duty, to make a great noise, a noise as reverential and gentle as the crack of a whip, before we enter that silence.

And whether we speak or we be silent, if we truly have the Spirit of God within us, then we will necessarily be a sword unto the world, no matter what we do. Even if we fall silent, especially when we fall silent and do the silent works of mercy and charity, we must do these things in a way that divides, separates, cleaves the sheep and the goats.

So, how now shall we live?
The answer is clear.

Go in like a lion, be led like a lamb, but always wield the two-edged sword that divides the people and brings judgement upon the nations. This honor is for all the faithful.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

McChrystal Clear

According to the Rolling Stone magazine story, two things are McChrystal clear about the general who is attempting to win the fight in Afghanistan:

  1. McChrystal voted for Obama, the community organizer, not for McCain, the Vietnam war hero,
  2. McChrystal cannot get his own troops to buy into his counter-insurgency strategies. "This is the philosophical part that works with think tanks," McChrystal tries to joke. "But it doesn't get the same reception from infantry companies."
Think about these two facts for a minute.

Certainly McCain was no one's idea of a good candidate, but Obama was clearly a complete disaster waiting to happen. How could a military man NOT see the problems associated with Obama? The fact that he voted for BHO is a stunning indictment of his poor judgement.

Combine this with the fact that he's pushing a strategy his own infantry can't be convinced to follow. That's a recipe for disaster. No matter how good the theory may look, if the grunts who are supposed to execute that theory don't buy into it, it isn't going to work, if only because those same grunts won't implement your glorious theory.

As any industry exec can tell you, if you can't even convince your own paid employees that you have a decent product, you won't convince the customers those employees are supposed to be selling to. McChrystal's COIN strategy is already dead - he just doesn't know it yet.

But let's look a little deeper.

Rolling Stone paints a picture of a man who has enormous problems with authority, enormous empathy for the "little guys" out on the front line, but wants those same "little guys" to stay the hell away from the border where all the bad guys are, a man who adamantly endorses the use of the latest technology to advance his agenda, a man who voted for the wimp, and has a winning plan that ivory tower types like, but the grunt hates.

Hmmmm..... who does this sound like?

Let's put it this way: if that thumbnail description had been used to outline an Obama cover story in Rolling Stone, would a word of it have to be changed?

Well, it wouldn't.

McChrystal is a user of people who outmaneuvered his President into giving him exactly what he wanted, but then found he couldn't deliver what he promised.

Again, who does this sound like? Does getting George Bush to hand over the initial TARP funds sound somewhat familiar?

Sure, McChrystal is excellent at organizing the Special Forces community as it assassinates Al Quaeda bad guys. But essentially, he's just an authority-hating, teflon general whose good at organizing specific kinds of communities, much as Obama organized the 'hood.

He's single-handedly managed to collect all power into his hands in Afghanistan: "McChrystal and his men are in indisputable command of all military aspects of the war, there is no equivalent position on the diplomatic or political side. " It's almost like he's set up a commission of czars that run rings around the rest of the government.

McChrystal is said to have enormous disdain for civilians.
Obama is known to have enormous disdain for anyone who doesn't think like him.

It is no wonder McChrystal was saddened when the community organizer he voted for ignored him. Like called to like across the deep, but one of the "likes" didn't really like him.

Is there anything to be concerned about here?
I don't see why.
What we have here is a liberal idiot firing another liberal idiot.

A New Kind of Rape

A new weapon has been brought into the sexual arena, a condom with teeth. Developed by a doctor who wanted to cut down on rape, the woman who uses such a device would be expected to insert this "female condom" when venturing into dangerous areas. The would-be assailant would find himself incapacitated by the device as it painfully latches onto his penis. According to reports, it could only be removed by a doctor.

All well and good, if used for the intended purpose.

But, as with so many items, who really believes it will be restricted to just that use?

What of the woman who is angry with her husband and/or lover, who wants him to suffer because he has inflicted upon her some slight, real or imagined, and she sees this as a marvelous way to strike back at him? As the doctor who developed the device says, the man so afflicted "cannot urinate or walk" after it has attached itself to him. What a delightful way to incapacitate a man!

Indeed, this painful new device could easily be used upon a man who is sleeping, drunk, high, or simply gulled into believing he has been invited to a night of pleasure, only to discover other things have been intended for him.

With this new device, women are now capable of the violent, painful rape of men.
It is impossible to see this "advance" as an unalloyed good.