Thursday, March 31, 2011

Life is Beautiful

As to movies depicting the Holocaust I have found the Italian film, "Life is Beautiful" quite wonderful. It resembled the archetypal fairy tale in the knight rescuing the maiden. But then it entered into the history of the holocaust where the knighthood of the humble Italian waiter displayed itself in his heroic levity in the face of the meanness of the concentration camp---all for his child and his wife. Yes, a story to live on in us as we hear still the opera Barcarole midst the brutality and yet the final triumph of goodness.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Air Conditioning Aingst

Air conditioning should be banished. I remember when I was in Atlanta how cold everything was kept. Every store, library, etc. was kept so frigid that ice crystals would form on your breath. I hoped to go to the south for warmth and the opposite happened. Every day was an adventure in hypothermia.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Little Acts of Chivalry

I think it is all related. And you are right that there is not a knowledge but also not a will and courage for such chivalry these days. But I would add that there is just as much a need for women to see how modern philosophies have crept into the woman's head and heart and influenced her to try and be man-like. This unfortunately has influenced men to treat women as men. It is such a modern mess! As I said, giving a seat is a small act but as Wordsworth said, it is in the little acts of kindnesses...(I unfortunately forget the exact quote---it is from one of his poems) in which are the acts of love (I believe this is the gist of his thought). Anyhow, I'd have to say we both, men and women alike, have been fed a good deal of bad ideas from modern sociology rather than listening with humble hearts to God's way for man and woman.

Fundamentalism and Simplicity

Because I regard the Proverbs as part of God's inspired word and more to be followed than the latest sociological journal I am branded by my responder as fundamentalist and simplistic. He instead refers to Jesus' words (as if Jesus will be in direct contradiction with his own book) and that this somehow the trumps the Old Testament---I believe this was the Marcion heresy that said that the Old Testament was not to be heeded. To these notions of fundamentalism and simplicity I readily and proudly accept in their original meanings.

Thus, I answer:
Why should it not then be fundamentalist to take Jesus' words seriously? I sure am glad I am simple minded regarding the Scriptures. I seem to recall Jesus, yes, Jesus saying, Unless you become like little children. Surely such little beings aren't sophisticated in their reading?

Little Acts of Chivalry

The odd thing that in our day, even the small acts of chivalry, giving up a seat on a bus, say, are still not too readily received---although I have been noticiing that more women smile in their refusal these days. Perhaps Alice von Hildebrand is starting to wear out Simone de Beauvoir in in their 15 rounder.

Proverbs as Inspired as Paul?

I am told that the Proverbs were written by Solomon and the implication is that the Proverbs are of mere human origin and that Jesus Himself was silent on the matter of who had the authority in the family, father and mother or the State. And since Jesus was silent on the matter then it seems the default position of familial oversite falls to the State. My answer is simply that I have been under the impression that the Bible was the inspired word of God and that the words in Proverbs were just as inspired as the writings of the Apostle Paul. Was I mistaken? I seem to recall that St Paul himself mentioned this from his prison cell to his disciple Timothy.

Proverbs and Parenting

The next response indicated to me that such a verse I cited was from Proverbs. He gave me a challenge: See what Jesus said on the matter (here I assume he means on the proper authority in the rearing of children) to which I answer thusly:

I did know where such a verse resided. I was merely, as a Catholic Christian, attributing to Jesus who is God in the flesh, these words. Do you not? And so, is the Holy Spirit, then, (to be Trinitarianly accurate) not speaking to parents here in Proverbs or is he speaking to bureacratic socialistic structures that haven't come about until the 19th century?

Let the Village Raise the Child?

In refutation to my "Solomon or the State" post the responder considered that I was pitting mother vs. father love, and that I was putting parental love over Jesus' love. I couldn't see that either were accurate readings of my post.

Nevertheless, I answered:
I am not pitting mother vs. father love, or parental love over Jesus' love. And so let us stay with Jesus a moment: his command was to raise our children in the way they should go. This was an admonition to parents, not to a State's bureacracy, or to Hillary's Village. I was merely saying that one must consider the consequences of allowing the State to dictate to the parent the proper use of parenting.

Solomon or the State?

Remember the story of Solomon. Solomon rightly read that the actual mother, and not the pretend mother was the one that would truly demonstrate a love for her about-to-be-divided child. I would always bet on blood.

I am not saying such love is always perfect or that parents never err, even cruelly err. But there is great peril in giving parental authority to the State. Once this religious role is usurped where does it end? What is to prevent the State, once it has such authority, to consider your intolerant teaching not in keeping with the State's tolerant agenda? No, I would risk always being a mother's child rather than the State's abstraction.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Another Fruit

Was it in pre-feminist society that men objectified women? Certainly in all ages men have not been without blemish in treating each other as the imago Dei . But to imply that it is a particular characteristic of feminist society that women are not objectified goes against all the emperical evidence. Why, wasn't it in the society that preceeded the "liberation movement" where men tipped their hats to women, open doors for them, bowed to them, married them? Isn't it in our current feminist society where women have been objectified, both by men and by themselves? Another fruit of this grand ideology of Ibsen.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Endangered Family

When I travel to Boston on the bus I am quite shocked when I see an actual family, husband, wife, children---it is seeing an endangered specie. And as with anything endangered the absence of habitat is one of the priniciple causes. All we have to do is look around at our posters, tv, movies, magazines, curricullae, etc., to see that our habitat is inhospitible to the family.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Modern Fashion

The whole of modern fashion has formed us with fabric. Men and women must lust after one another. This the formula of the clothing calculators of the Malls. And so we wonder why love has been rent and is no longer wearable. May we all rebel with needle and thread.

Bathing Suits

I have a friend in Montana that makes her own bathing suits. She didn't want her modesty to be mismanaged by the Hollywood and Madison Avenue fashioners. Just think of it: a few Manhattan men make us conform to immodesty. Shouldn't we rebel to this? I am reminded of what St Paul says in his letter to the Romans: "Be ye not conformed to the world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds..." And in his letter to Timothy: "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel..." One argument is that this is restrictive, is inhibiting of a woman's beauty. All I know is that precious things are usually covered, and there is a great beauty to mystery and this in our modern times we seemed to have forgotten.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Inordinate Theology of the Body?

I think part the Catholic response is a reaction against the emphasis of sex as the casual sterilized sport it has become in our culture. But I must agree that we may have fallen into the trap that Theology of the Body is taught almost to an inordinant degree, or exclusively as the only statement that the Church has made concerning the place of sex in God's design. I personally find St Paul more succinct and clear and beautiful concerning this in his analogy of Christ and the Church as bridegroom and bride. John Paul's Evangelium Vitae also seems to me more excessible and succinct than TOB. And yes there are other spiritual poisons that have infected our culure that we ignore at our peril---secularism, modernity, the "isms" of the twentieth century. These need to be addressed from a solidly orthodox viewpoint. I, for one, think too that a similar exclusionary emphasis exists in the pro-life mentality---while abortion certainly has to be fought and I laud those folks that fight this cancer in our culture; yet it must be stated that it is only the symptom or consequence of a godless society that seeks promiscuous pleasure to fill the God-shaped hole.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Is the Catholic Church Exclusive in Her Restrictions on the Eucharist?

Houses have the exclusivity of walls. Otherwise it cannot keep out everything that is not it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Will Hi-Tech Make Books Obsolete?

There is something about having a book in hand that you can touch, the pages, flip them, have something substantial and material. There is also the fact of aging in books, like wine long fermented. Internet reading doesn't ever age.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Presentin an Ism as it Is.

But to rectify it we must seek to present feminism as it is. Not as some (the world is a big place and implies everyone) see it. That is how such "isms" spread. People thought Nazism and Communism were goods and they were perceived in this way by the worlds they existed in. One must however have the courage of a Bonhoeffer and von Hildebrand in unmasking such ideologies for what they are. And it does women no service to reinforce their thinking that feminism is a good thing. It is a very blinding lens through which to view the world.

The New Linguistics

This is exactly why I think the term feminism is dangerous to use. It does not promote the church as "pro-woman" but "pro-feminist". It gives a kind of Christian credibility to the ideology that, in my view, is antithetical to the ideas that were settled in the Virgin Mary as to what God's ordained distinction was all about. In other words St Mary wasn't busying herself trying to be St. Joseph.

The Cut and Dry Reading of the Bible

Should we only accept the passages of the Scripture that suit our taste? The claim has been proposed that one can retain their Catholicity and still reject some of what the Church herself believes. No, these are not mere human rules but precepts that are from that Truth that gave us, and continues to give us, this Tradition. So I for one stand with the Holy Father whom many have dubbed as a fundamentalist. May we all be formed thus.

Terms are Important

Terms are important. I could ask, "How do you define "communist"? Perhaps I see that there is inequality in the world and so I buy into that one aspect. With regards whether one can call one a Catholic feminist I draw our attention to feminism's fruit: a distaste for domesticity, abortion rights, children as inconveniences, women in war, etc.

Truth and Falsehood Mixed

When truth is mixed with falsehood it is most dangerous. That's what made Marxism a very dangerous ideology. So it is even with the beginnings of the feminist movement. Harriet Beecher Stowe, quite a strong feminine intellect, claimed that her suffragette sister was working for an evil cause. I respectfully disagree with the view that one can be happily, a Catholic feminist. I think the two things are mutually exclusive, like calling one a Christian communist.

The "Feminist Pope"

Pope John Paul II dubbed himself "The feminist Pope" and I think that his ceding this credibility to the feminist ideology is one of the things I respectfully disagree with John Paul on. Please read Donna Steichen's essay. She is a most wise Catholic woman. Also Alice von Hildebrand. Feminism has its roots in Marxism. Marx saw the disparity in economics and feminists saw the disparity in gender. Each created a mentality of conflict.

The Enemy of the Beautiful and Wonderful Feminine Distinction

Read Donna Steichen's essay on feminism in the book Disorientation. It reveals feminism for what it is: an enemy of the beautiful and wonderful feminine distinction. It has indoctrinated women to see home as a prison. It is an ideology that has produced bad fruit and surely bad fruit implies something about the tree.

Brocoli and the Bible

It appears that some hold to a type of Church where its principle document is not to be believed or at least picked over for what fits one's taste. We need to let this Church document (the Bible) inform our opinions. Not pick what suits us. To say that any of God's word is "distasteful" is something one may have to look at again. Let it infom our tastebuds. Maybe brocoli is distasteful but it is good for us.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Genesis 9:6 and Jesus' Silence in the Face of Roman Crosses

How do you reconcile Genesis 9:6 as well as Jesus' silence on the subject of crucifixion with it being as you call it a "moral abomination". This phrase puts it with abortion and euthanasia where it doesn't belong. Also one would have to consider a good portion of the bible and God's punishment of the wicked as morally abominable, wouldn't one? Disagree fine. But to use such a phrase for capital punishment (don't forget the criminal, to warrant such a sentence, has murdered someone) undermines it for what it really applies to.

Capital Punishment a Moral Abomination?

Modern security? Most violent crimes are from repeat offenders who get out of overcrowded prisons on parole decisions. I can understand differences of opinion on capital punishment but to call capital punishment a moral abomination seems to me quite a reach. Who decides what is a moral abomination if not God and if God one must reconcile Genesis 9:6 with this. Also Jesus never condemned crucifixion. Quite interesting.

Is War Ever Just?

I would argue that we must give great weight to the Fathers of the Church, especially St Augustine from whom the Church primarily gets her formulation of Just War Theory. While not infallible I would suggest that their opinion matters greatly and I think I would rather refuse the op ed's of the NY Times over the spiritual wisdom of tradition and the Fathers which consider that there are times when war is just. I'm certain the Jews in Dachau thought so.

Another point: If war as you imply is never just what do we do with the Old Testament and God's seeming approval and even initiative in bringing them about? And likewise there is a deafening silence on Jesus' part in his dealings with the Roman Centurians.

What Mr. Lewis Leaves You With

"And just as there are moments when simply to lie in bed and see the daylight pouring through your window and to hear the cheerful voice of an early postman or milkman down below and to realise that it was only a dream: it wasn’t real, is so heavenly that it was very nearly worth having the nightmare in order to have the joy of waking, so they all felt when they came out of the dark." - C.S. Lewis, Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Here is a marvel. To write words that place into you that irrepressible longing that must be satisfied when we at last do awake for real.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Plucking of the Flower

I hope it doesn't come across as of not pitying. But I originally entered the discussion trying to see the danger in using language as "forced" in this actresses's case. We do no one any favors by using language in "I just couldn't help myself" way. Certainly we don't know the state of the poor girl's soul or her weaknesses. However, the message we send out there is that selling one's body for career advancement is something that is quite rampant in the world and when we find it circumstantially exuseable this ends up evolving into permissable. May we instead encourage our sisters to heroic virtue and may they encourage us men in the same way. The banner of victimhood will not help either of us. This case makes me angry because these men took someone beautiful and used her; also that our culture sees career as so important that we are readily to see the logic in using one's body to advance in the business world. A shame that no man encouraged her (I assume) to say "no!" and that she sold her birthright, so to speak, for a bowl of porridge. She was a flower of the field and allowed a man to pluck her up for a momentary whiff of her fragrance. May we encourage the roses in our midst to put out their thorns when such men come around.

The Simple Word, "No"

Yes, concerning the news piece of the actress that had committed suicide presumably over being forced to give "sexual favors" for acting jobs, we must certainly condemn the exploiters. Nonetheless, we must recognize the slant of the article or at least the slant in the girl's mind that she was "forced". This word implies no other alternative existed. I must wonder what ever happened to the simple word, "no"? May this story help us to be diligent in developing in ourselves and others the strength of virtue and how it must trump any worldly gain. May we be quite willing to use the word, "no", when the cost is our own soul. Yes, what does it profit a man if he gain the whole world...

Yes, we should be loud in condemning those who use sex for their own selfish gains as those employers, but I think we are too willing to settle for a culture that sets the bar quite low, and this young lady, while I pity her, I do have to recognize that she seems to have held gains in the acting world worth the price of her soul. I would have hoped that she had someone in her life who would have taught her the word "no" for anyone that sought to snatch any beauty from her soul. I've known many women of previous generations who would've rather starved than have sold themselves. Witness the biblical record of Susanna. I think God wants us to hold ourselves to such a standard and not encourage such a low bar as implied in the article.

And I would not dubb it heroic virtue for the mere refusal of sexual favors for an acting job. Perhaps you're not saying this. Nonetheless, in the case of Susanna who was faced with death, well that certainly was heroic virtue. If it was able to be used in the former case (the case of the actress if she refused) should we not be ready then to apply the quality to Clinton's intern if she refused? I don't want to lower that great thing that the saints have aspired to and that we as followers of Christ should aspire to. And we shouldn't think this as a proud ambition as it is all grace, and not ours.

On the Exploiters of a Young Actress

Though I don't side with the exploiters whatsoever, I wonder what ever happened to the simple word, No? "Forced" seems like the wrong word here. It implies that there was no other alternative. In a case like this it appears as though carreer had become an idolatrous end in itself. May this story help us to be diligent in developing in ourselves and others the strength of virtue and how it must trump any worldly gain. Yes, what does it profit...

Are Wars Evil?

From the biblical perspective, if one says war is inherently evil that poses quite a few difficulties: one, of course, being the Old Testament wars that at times are God ordained; and there is also the fact that Jesus never rebukes the centurian for his being a soldier and even commends him for his faith. St. Augustine, no light-weight among Christian thinkers, also provides quite a good treatise on it from which the Church formulated "the Just War Theory". I would add that from a simple philosophical view there are times, given the condition of the world, that one must fight to defend another. The hard truth is that bullies bully. A boy must battle him both as a boy and as a country. It is one of those irrefutable laws of the streets that it is good and heroic for a boy to defend another. In our modern era we wring our hands and beg a bureacracy in to alleviate the bullying plague. However, our forefathers would have simply advised that a good punch in the nose would fix things. Yes, sometimes the punch in the nose is justified. Certainly the Jews in Dauchau must not have been disappointed that the American forces had in them to step into Normandy and punch someone in the nose. Sometimes it must just be done. But of course, as Christians, if we have to do it, it is best after any liberating that we have the spirit to provide a clean handkerchief for the bloody nose.

The Crusades and the Reading of History

The actual history of the Crusades has been very slanted aganst the Church in modern histories, as has so much, i.e. The Pilgrims, Columbus, Lincoln, etc. The Crusades thematically were to combat moslem takeover of the holy land and to protect pilgrims. I will concede that as with any enterprise sin, no doubt, came into the mix. But we should take care in the modern historians take on the subject. There certainly is an anti-christian bias and this seems especially evident in the modern comentaries on the Crusades. We must take great care in not holding history in a fashionable light. For then we will certainly be wrong in our reading.

The Dark Ages and the Enlightenment

The Middle Ages, often looked at by the moderns as the saeculum obscurum, were not in my historiography, a time of dull intellects and dark souls, but a time rich in theology and piety. It was a time that towards its close saw a Dominican monk pen the Summa Theologica and the Summa Contra Gentiles; at its beginning a philosopher pen Consolatio Philosophiae. No, perhaps it was the Enlightenment that was dark, and the saeculum obscurum that was quite enlightened.

The Dearth of Scriptural Knowledge

I think what he may be responding to (if I may be so presume being a convert myself) is that there is a dearth of Scriptural knowledge among the average Catholic. And the traditional Protestant has had a knowledge and love of Scripture which it seems was missing in the general Catholic congregation of the past few generations. However, as was mentioned the Church is rich in her history concerning Scripture and in her understanding of how we are saved. And the Pope's present book, Jesus of Nazareth, and the thrust of his potificate is to realize in us, the love and knowledge of Scripture. As St Ignatius has stated:"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ". This, Benedict is seeking to undo and I believe he is greatly succeeding.

The Practicality of Motherhood Footwear

In past times, some years after the biblical sandal era, women wore high-heels quite regularly I think. Not very good accessories for sprinting full-throttle after a youngster, I suspect. No first hand knowledge though.

Creation Care

As the Father watches over the sparrow he watches over all his creatures. They are all his quite extraordinary works of his artistic love.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Secular Magisterium

We must keep strong against all these allusions or should I say illusions to the American Psychology Association. I guess this is the secular magisterium. In contrast, we have a magisterium that was put forth by the Magister who created marriage in the first place. The culture is continually seeking to alter the definitions to suit certain agendas. And in resisting these attempts to redefine marriage and parenting we mustn't be cowed by the arguments for "tolerance". That is a word that demands context. Apart from context it is just an agenda driven word without meaning. Those who use it thinking it an absence of a virtue don't see that they themselves wield it just as well as a vice.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Cathedral

My friend, Mike, talks about the wonderful vaulted ceilings of this cathedral. This vaulted ceiling the Architect built does go on forever.
I responded that I love the way the book of Genesis records the putting in of the candelabra of the Cathedral. "And he made the stars also.' So understated!

In the Beginning...

"In the beginning" must always have a Subject. We never walk into a Cathedral and doubt the existance of an architect." In the beginning" in such an instance must be followed by..."the Architect built the Cathedral."...and it was good.

Ignorance of the Scriptures...

Before I converted I met many who knew nothing of the Church's book, the Bible. That was discouraging---it was like meeting someone whom you thought was the true bride but didn't care to read any of her bridegroom's love letters. It just made you hesitate that much the longer before thinking that this was the right wedding you were invited to.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Atheism's Cry

Billboards that claim that one doesn't need God to live fulfilling lives: Yes, we have them them here on buses, trains, billboards. They may just backfire in that they, by their very presence, will open up conversations. The visible face of atheism's claims are really a cry for meaning and may just be undermined by simply the incredible technology in a blade of grass.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Another Reason Men Do Not Marry

So much of modern culture is against marriage the way God has designed it. And this aspect of the inequality in the courts is a major cause of reluctance in men to marry. We all need a good dose of I Corinthians 13. The old Catholic view that marriage is for life should be revived. If a man, a woman, knew that if they divorced, there was little, if any chance, of being able to marry again---well this would get them to really pay attention when the vow says, "What God has joined let no man put assunder". Again the current state of the family is just a sympton of the ideologies we have let infect us.

The Intrusions of Political Correctness

In the UK a couple has lost their ability to care as foster parents because of their politically incorrect views on homosexuality: Christians are seen to infect children with their outdated morality.

We must be ever vigilant soldiers for Christ as such fascisms of ideology are continuing to take away our freedoms, especially the freedoms of the family.

Ideologies have Consequences

Ideologies have consequences. Feminism is a spin-off of Marxism that creates a class warfare between the sexes. So many symptoms of this today. God's design gets discarded to our own peril. We are not designed to be in competition but as complements to each other. We are so confused today that it is only the radical elements of feminism that are dangerous. I would side with Donna Steichen and say that the very beginngings of modern feminism flow out of the Marxist mind-set. That there are oppressors and there are victims. That there must be liberation from these artificial economic, or in the case of feminism, artificial patriarchal oppressions. This was the teaching while I was in college. Marxism seasoned all the foods that we were fed.

Oh, that we may discard such destructive ideologies! May we take our cues not from Marx or de Beauvior but from the Lord who designed masculinity and femininity and how wonderfully they are with one another when according to God's original design.

For a fuller and expert account see Donna Steichen's essay on Feminism in "Disorientation", a collection of essays on the ideologies that infect us in academe.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Review of The Franklin Trees by Jonathan Naumen

I would echo the above comment particularly regarding the claim that this book is "in the tradition of Nathaniel Hawthorne". Yes! This book provokes that same mystery that recalls one to other places, other dimensions. Not simply in the material world but also in the spiritual. In the reading, one experiences (as Jim Canby does) a transcendence that transports one to considerations that are other-worldly. This is a special thing.