Tuesday, July 29, 2003

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Friday, July 25, 2003

Odds And Ends:

Conservative world govt dreaming world dreams..

For those who have seen it, can Mel Gibson's Passion even come close to this?

Encouraging Vocations over at Summa Contra Mundum

From before the country changed:
“These are the things that stay God’s hand,”

View from the Core reports: Out of the Closet, Into the Catacombs

Your government at work:
Criminalization of Risk
Queering the Schools

Who benefits if kids are sexual? Let's see. Sexual predators – adults who now want to be known only as consensual partners. Planned Parenthood – an abortion business...
Let me add Tyranny by the State

Even the 'educators' are beginning to worry
I worry about the fact that they ask about more extreme and more detailed things. Questions about sex in itself are quite natural but there has been a change in the details children ask about and that is worrying

More on Alternative LifeStyles:
Gene Study Finds Cannibal Pattern

Amend the Marriage Amendment!
A cause worthy of inclusion in the Defense of Marriage Ammendment:"Parents have a fundamental right to raise, and direct the moral upbringing of, their children. The state shall not interfere with this right without a compelling state interest."

De-funding Terrorism: "Saddam's fall causes terrorist cash shortage; Downfall of dictator also results in power vacuum in Arafat's Fatah"

An interesting take on things:
The war against tobacco has done... far more harm to America than tobacco
As economist Ludwig von Mises cautioned, "Once the principle is admitted that it is the duty of government to protect the individual against his own foolishness, no serious objections can be advanced against further encroachments."

Is the Grey Lady on the Government Dole?

Interesting tidbits:

Africa has 2,089 languages (courtesy of NYT)

The Secret of the Burning Bush

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Thursday, July 24, 2003

An Aside:

Our capitalist economy, our socialist government Have the socialists won?
"New Deal reforms created a government that is now responsible for 45 percent of national spending." Weinstein cites various programs, noting accurately that the US is now "more than half socialist today" because "more than half of the total output of the country is being distributed in a way that is determined by the government."

Also of Note:

Lane Core asks: Is pedophilia of interest only when one can use it as a weapon against the Catholic Church
And from Paul Walfield over at EnterStageRight: Caring less for our children

Losing Civilization: The Marriage Stakes

Pryor's religion triggers debate
An earlier look at the anti-Catholic agenda:
Bill Pryor's Turn (Another Practicing Catholic Gets Fillibustered)

Justice in America (BSA)

For those who are interested:

Vatican Undersecretary approves the admittance of an openly homosexual man to seminary...Courtesy of Pro Deo et Patria

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

The Moral Order - 1

In The Revenge of Conscience which was published by First Things, J. Budziszewski addresses this provocative question:

< But go read the entire article for yourself.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

I read a rather strange article today which links abortion and Wicca. It suggests that Wicca is a causative factor in the pseudo-feminist defense of abortion. Apparently, from an historical perspective, witches like to perform abortions and offer infant sacrifices to their goddess. They worship the devil and …. Well, read it for yourself.

I used to be a witch and the article doesn’t ring true. It seems far more likely to me that the article is putting the cart before the horse. I can imagine that Wicca might have a special appeal to women who have experienced abortion. Naturally, many of these women would have a vested interest in asserting the legitimacy of abortion . Seeing it as a morally neutral act or as an act of painful but heroic empowerment permits these women to maintain a positive self-image. It buffers them from any acknowledgement that they are culpable for grievous injury.

Although I imagine that the majority of Wiccans might be pro-abortion (or at least pro-choice), Wicca itself is silent on the issue. For many witches, their pro-life values conflict with their personal autonomy values. Both of the following articles are pro-life pagan attempts to deal with this conflict.
A Happy Balance
Schroedinger’s Fetus
Whether or not their logic is coherent, each article shows sincere effort to establish a consistent moral stance.
There is even a pro-life pagan web site with links to Project Rachel.

I think that the link between Wicca and abortion is worth exploring but only in the cause of greater understanding. To be honest, having made the journey myself, I think that Wicca is a viable path into the Church.

Although I haven’t yet mentioned it, I also think that the link between abortion and spiritual warfare is valid and often overlooked.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

A Metaphor for our times

And the earth was of one tongue and of the same speech.

And when they removed from the land of the East, they found a plain in the land of Sennaar and dwelt in it.

And each one said to his neighbor: “Come, let us make brick and bake them in fire”, and they had brick instead of stones, and slime instead of mortar.

And they said: “Come, let us make a city and a tower, the top whereof may reach heaven: and let us make our name famous, before we be scattered abroad to all lands.”

And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of Adam were building.

And He said: “Behold, it is one people and all have one tongue, and they have begun to do this, neither will they leave off from their designs till they accomplish them in deed.”

“Come ye, therefore, let us go down and there confound their tongue, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”

And so the Lord scattered them from that place into all lands, and they ceased to build the city

And therefore the name thereof was called Babel, because there the language of the whole earth was confounded and from thence the Lord scattered them abroad upon the face of all the countries.

Most of the time, I think of this story in Genesis as ‘The Abbreviated History of Secular Humanism.’ We start with a civilization where every one shares a common tongue (Christianity) and are of one speech (Catholicism). Over time, we use our talents to create new technologies. This is how life should be.

Then we make a monumental mistake! Rather than employing our talents and our technologies to glorify God, we use them to glorify man. Our orientation has become distorted. Sooner or later, the fruits of our labor must reflect that distortion.

If our love of neighbor is premised on our love of God, we can serve our neighbor (and ourselves) both wisely and well. However, if we base our service purely on love of man, it degenerates into self-deification. Although we may have noble goals, such as the universal well-being of man, our actions will inevitably bring us to a contrary condition.

In the parable, God takes note of our deviance. To save us from ourselves, He confounds men’s speech. If you imagine that I am putting too benign an interpretation on God’s action, consider for a moment where our ‘humanist’ bio-ethics and biotechnology are taking us. Remember, God’s act is based on the reality that men will not ‘leave off from their designs till they accomplish them in deed.’

Personally, I don’t imagine that this Godly act requires direct intervention in history. It appears more likely that it is one of the natural consequences of our reorientation from God to man. …And it is happening now.

Just look around us today. Although we appear to share the same language, we are attaching increasing divergent meanings to the words we employ. In addition, we are moving farther away from each other in terms of our initial assumptions and underlying values. This is occurring even as we attempt to build bridges between us.

Historically, in an effort to maintain a ‘public square’, Christians moved their dialogue from one based on a personal God to one based on Deism. As that consensus broke down, the shared premise became Humanism. Today, even that consensus is not broad enough to include all the secular viewpoints being aired. The atomization within secularism is proceeding at an even greater pace than it has within Protestantism.

Perhaps it is an act of God. More likely it is a natural outgrowth of distorting our human nature. Either way, our humanist paradigm has confounded our speech. I suspect that it is high time we return to our original language. Possibly the alternative is that we risk being scattered into quite primitive and antagonistic tribes.

Of course, one could always take the attitude that the Tower of Babel was written by primitives thousands of years ago . What could they know of the Modern Age?

Monday, July 14, 2003

Over at SecretAgentMan's Dossier, I found this quote taken from Heinrich Rommen's The State in Catholic Thought

If the rights of man and the duties of authority, and the duties of man and the rights of authority, do not ultimately originate in a transcendent God who is perfect Intellect, infinite Goodness, omnipotent Will, gracious and just Providence, then there is no escape from anarchy or from tyranny. So invincible is this argument that from time immemorial philosophers have deduced a proof of the existence of God from the nature of man as a political and legal being, from the existence of the state and of the law.

I must read Rommen. Although I have never heard anything about this particular 'proof', it has always been my favorite. I have always believed that man (particularly in his social aspect) is sufficient proof of God's existence. I think that the human is only possible in the presence of God. It has always been my secret passion to develop and present this proof. I've never had the time to pursue this ambition and I am probably totally inadequate to the task so it's delightful to know that "from time immemorial philosophers have deduced a proof of the existence of God from the nature of man." I would love to study these various proofs.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Personalism and the Scandal of Particularity

There is an interesting bit on the scandal of particularity over at Disputations. It's a question that never even occurred to me, but apparently "the scandal of particularity" is the theological term for the difficulty in believing God would reveal Himself as a particular man in a particular place at a particular time, rather than in some more universal way. It's a good question, and it may tie into a Christian scandal that I have considered, and which Percy Walker refers to simply as THE Christian Scandal.

The "Christian scandal," Percy says in this interview, is its "emphasis on individual human life." Without that scandalous emphasis, anything goes, including the gas chambers. The importance of encounter of person with immediate existence, the accommodation to this place and this time, which is so heavy a theme in recent literature of the American South, is exactly the issue…MORE >>>

In some subtle way, the particularity of the Incarnation may act to focus our ethics on the particularity of each and every person. “What you do unto the least of your brethren, you do unto me.“ With this overarching insistence on the actual person(s), Christianity avoids the temptation and the horror of utopian and unattached compassion… the kind of compassion that leads to abortion, totalitarianism and the gas chambers.

The inalienable dignity of the person made in the image of God is absolutely and undeniably affirmed through the mystery of Incarnation wherein God Himself becomes a particular person in a particular place at a particular time.

An Aside:

No 'safe' time to avoid pregnancy . . . 'Flabbergasted' scientists find they've been all wrong on ovulation

I found this a fascinating article.
In the meantime, "it tells us why some women don't get along well with oral contraceptives." Most birth control pills are based on a 21-day treatment cycle, where women take active hormones, followed by seven days of placebo or "dummy" pills, which trigger menstruation.

Apparently, birth control pills rely on old-style 'rythmn' assumptions which is something I never knew.

There's an off-the-cuff snide remark about natural family planning but, based on the little I know (which given my non-marital state is next to nothing), it seems that this might be a further argument in favor of NFP. As far as I know, current NFP methods are based on measurable bodily changes which would show up when ovulation occurs and would be unaffected by the new data.

The statistics put out by the Couple to Couple League show a 97-99% effective rate.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

I remember an occasion from my childhood when I was engaged in an ethical discussion with my father. As a premise for my position, I mentioned that the Church teaches that all men are created equal. My father was quick to point out that I was confusing American political philosophy with Catholic doctrine. At the time I was shocked into silence. I couldn't imagine that the Church would omit such a fundamental truth from Her repertoire. It was only in exploring the omission that I discovered that the assumption of equality is not a universal prerequisite for justice. We do not need to believe that all men are created equal in order to treat each and every person with equal respect. As a matter of fact, this belief might even handicap us in our attempts to treat every person justly. Flesh and blood human beings differ from one to the other and yet, if we truly believe that each of us is made in the image and likeness of God, we will treat each person with the greatest of deference while retaining the knowledge that we are incompetent to adequately honor the least of men.

The assumption that all men are created equal has been a useful legal and political construct. Possibly it’s a necessary construct for a full democracy or for a just democratic republic. It might even be true … although I doubt that it is self-evident. Regardless of this, as Americans, we have agreed to give our assent to this construct.

This unexamined assent to an unexamined assertion is one of the factors that has allowed our culture to be manipulated into a parody of justice. I suspect that the time is coming when we will be forced to either clearly define and prove this assertion or find an alternate basis for asserting the rights and obligations of men. Consider this. We no longer live in a world of shared assumptions. On one hand, we are facing a dystopian lust for power from secularists who deny the very basis on which this claim was built. On the other hand, we are seeking to coexist with a religion that asserts that some people are more equal than others. In the gripping hand, we have the Truth of Christ. We need to find viable ways of translating this truth.

Sex Trafficking... "Slavery, in some of its workings, is too dreadful for the purposes of art."

It's been a while since I updated this blog. Perhaps the thing I liked best about blogging was that it gave me an opportunity to explore the mundane implications of my Catholicism. Often in following a particular train of thought I would find myself at some unanticipated point. I would reach a conclusion that would alter my living of the Faith. A good example would my exploration of the friend vs. family models for parish participation. As a result of that (and special thanks to my readers), I am now convinced that I have an obligation to my territorially designated parish. I have come to understand that I have no more authority to selectively abandon my parish than to choose alternative parents. Another life changing realization was the recognition that my obligations to charity and my obligations to church support were fundamentally different. This growth in understanding the rudiments of my own commitment was incredibly rewarding.

At the same time, in blogging, I felt constrained to limit my exploration to the everyday shared assumptions of the faith. I didn't want to present my private interpretation of Catholicism as an element of our 'living memory'. Instead it was my intention to present a view of our faith tradition that cradle Catholics would instantly recognize as a part of our lived tradition. I know that I only skimmed the surface of this tradition but, to the extent that I did write, I hope that I was faithful to my intention.

Over time, however, I found my thinking and, perhaps more significantly, my life was leading me to explore the implications of my faith in areas that necessarily involve a large degree of prudential judgment. I found that I could continue with my original intention or I could follow a more private exploration. I ended up following the more personal option.

Frequently, in the last few months, I have wanted to return to blogging. What stayed my keyboard was the recognition that my inquiries went beyond the initial and stated purpose of my blog which was "... reflecting 'the living memory' of the Catholic Church". My own journey is taking me in other directions.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I've returned to blogging. And at least for the interim, I'm changing my emphasis to "... living in the Catholic moment."