Blog Template Theology of the Body: May 2007

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Twentieth Honeymoon with God



For as long as I have been capable, I have tried to set aside some time each year to get away for some in-depth discussion and loving with God; in some years, this has amounted to the year entire, and in others, it has taken up no more than a day. This time around, my retreat will be a long, silent weekend on the shores of Lake Dallas, under the guidance of a really excellent retreat director at the Montserrat Retreat House. The retreat will be based on the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola. Please pray for me.

(If any of you have not made a retreat in a while, perhaps give the Jesuits a shot sometime in the near future... it will do you no end of good. See their national directory of retreat centers here-)

... and congrats and best wishes to all of my friends and Vocatum contributors who are attending the amazing Colloquium here in Dallas this weekend. Peter Kreeft will be there! How awesome.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Left, Right, and the Latin Mass.

Vatican City

"A SENIOR Vatican official has confirmed that sometime soon Pope Benedict XVI will expand permission for use of what’s popularly known as the Latin Mass, the service that was standard before the Second Vatican Council. Though some details remain vague, one point seems all too clear: When the decision officially comes down, its importance will be hyped beyond all recognition, because doing so serves the purposes of both conservatives and liberals within the church, as well as the press...

Many on the Catholic right will hail the move as a death knell for the liturgical reforms of Vatican II, such as use of the vernacular languages and modern music, and participation by the laity, most of which conservatives have long derided as misplaced efforts to make the church “relevant.” The older Mass, many argue, has such beauty and elicits such a sense of awe that, over time, it will triumph, leaving the changes of the last 40 years as a failed experiment.

Many on the Catholic left, meanwhile, will make a cause célèbre out of the document because, to them, it symbolizes a broad conservative drift in Catholic affairs. They will read it as another sign of a “rollback” on Vatican II."

More from the NY Times here. Thank you, KI!

Sermon for the Eve of the Feast of the Visitation...

I have posted my sermon for tonights celebration of the Eve of the Visitation on The New Faithful Archive, the part of this blog that deals with more lengthy materials like sermons, course materials, and syllabi. I must admit that I borrowed heavily from Patrick Madrid and an article from the early 90s entitled Mary - The Ark of the New Covenant.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Blog Party in the City!

Friends of mine in New York are planning a party for bloggers this weekend! - I wish I could be there, but some of you may be in the area...if you go, you will meet some of the finest, funest, and best young Christians on the planet.

Alarming News is spreading the word. The hostess writes:

"There will be a blogger party this Saturday: It will start at 9pm. The location will be announced by Thursday. You should be there.

As always, the blogger party is open to all bloggers (political
bloggers, poker bloggers, food bloggers, whatever) and their readers.
Note, though, that as I am the one planning the party, the percentage
of right-leaning political bloggers in attendance will probably be
quite high . If this will shock and offend you, perhaps this is not
the party for you."

Really Helpful Synopsis

Dead Theologians has posted a very helpful summary of Conciliar teachings. No hold's barred...and an excellent reference for those of us who don't memorize dates as well as we should...

1. Prayers for the dead . ………………AD 300.
2. Making the sign of the cross ………………………… …300.
3. Veneration of angels and saints ……………….375.
4. Use of icons in worship………………………………… . 375.
5. The Mass as a daily celebration……………………………… 394.
6. Beginning of the exaltation of Mary; the term Theotokos applied at the Council of Ephesus…431 A.D.
7. Extreme Unction instituted (Last Rites)……………………………… ..526.
8. Doctrine of Purgatory-Gregory I…………………………… .593.
9. Prayers to Mary & saints ……………………………… .600.
10. Veneration of the cross, images & relics ……………………… … 786.
11. Canonization of saints ………………………………… ..995.
12. Celibacy of priesthood …………………………………… …1079.
13. The Rosary ……………………………………………… … 1090.
14. Indulgences ……………………………………………… …..1190.
15. Transubstantiation-(Innocent III) …………………………… 1215.
16. Auricular Confession of sins …………………… 1215.
17. Adoration of the Host…………………………… .. 1220.
18. Cup forbidden to the people at Communion (revoked) …………………..1414.
19. Purgatory proclaimed as a dogma……………………………..1439.
20. The doctrine of the Seven Sacraments confirmed …………….1439.
21. The role of tradition in the interpretation of Scripture, Council of Trent..1545.
22. Apocrypha affirmed……………….1546.
23. Immaculate Conception of Mary……………………………….1854.
24. Papal Infallibility, Vatican I …1870.
25. Assumption of the Virgin Mary...1950.
26. Mary proclaimed Mother of the Church……………………… 1965.

Serving the Rich


Our contributor Mark Wiebe recently had some great things to say on Christians and personal wealth at his own blog.

My wife and I have been talking a lot about wealth lately. We talked about the frightening questions of the gospel with regard to wealth and poverty and justice. One response that we hear a lot is "rich people need Jesus too," and along the same lines, "Jesus loves the rich too." Absolutely. This is critical. We must not despise the rich; economics are complicated, and there are myriad factors that we must take into account in trying to answer questions of Christian life and wealth. What really struck us today though were these two statements about "loving" the rich, and that the wealthy "need Jesus too." What do we mean when we say these things? What precisely does it mean to love the rich, and fill their need for Christ?

One passage that really stands out here is from Mark chapter 10, which we typically butcher just a bit. In Mark 10, the rich young ruler approaches Jesus and tells him that he has fulfilled the commands, and asks what else he needs to do. Then it says that Jesus "looked at him and loved him." The rest of the sentence says that Jesus then told him to sell all he had and give the money to the poor." Typically, the first part of the passage is isolated from the rest of it. Jesus' "love" for the man is separated from his command that the guy give away his possessions. “Jesus *loved* the man.” Pause… AND, “separate and apart” from that, he told him to deal with justice and poverty. We’re missing the point here: the command WAS the articulation of Jesus’ love for the man.

Similarly, the language in the prophets about the failure of the rich to deal with widows and orphans IS God’s expression of himself and his love to those wealthier members of society (e.g., see Isa. 1, and Isa. 58). Which means that to love the rich is precisely to take their (our) faces and point them toward issues of justice and poverty. One of the most central ways to fill wealthy people’s “need for Christ” is precisely to tell them to look at the poor. Love and justice are never separate. To love the rich is to help them to participate, alongside people from all socio-economic levels, in a process of confronting the boundaries and problems that are created by a society obsessed with money.

And honestly, I myself have perpetuated these boundaries more than I have confronted them, let alone led others in the confrontation.


Most High, glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart, and give me right faith, certain hope, and perfect charity, wisdom and understanding, Lord, that I may carry out your holy and true command. Through Christ our Lord, Amen. (Francis of Assisi)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Suggestions urgently needed: Evangelism Training for young people

Ok readers, you have never been needed like this before.

I am preparing to serve this summer as a counsellor and instructor for the wonderful St. Michael's Conference. It's a 7-day conference where an intentional community of prayer, support, and education helps to form young Christians to be witnesses to the world of the Saving Power of Jesus Christ. There we 1) will have fun and 2) talk about dealing with angels and demons, praying and fasting, and other hard-core matters for Christ's more serious kids. (cf Fr. Nelson's course on Defending Against the Dark Arts. So cool) My topic for six daily class meetings will be learning to share your faith! Scary scary.

Sure, I have a hum-dinger course plan and some great ideas ready to go, but I want to provide the absolute best practicum on evangelism techniques for this elite group. Do any of you have any great ideas or materials for this sort of training? Please fire away in the comments. I would really appreciate any suggestions, since I happen to know that some of you are quite good at this sort of thing...

Clergy Babies


... the daughters of two Vocatum contributors at play. Can you guess which one has a vocation? ;)

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Wow.

Rabbi Reveals Name of the Messiah

Shortly before he died, one of Israel's most prominent rabbis wrote the name of the Messiah on a small note which he requested would remain sealed until now. When the note was opened, it revealed what many have known for centuries: Yehoshua, or Yeshua (Jesus), is the Messiah.

Furthermore, from Israel Today: "Kaduri gave a message in his synagogue on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, teaching how to recognize the Messiah. He also mentioned that the Messiah would appear to Israel after Ariel Sharon’s death. (The former prime minister is still in a coma after suffering a massive stroke more than a year ago.)"

HT. Fr. WB, Taylor Marshall.

Aw yeah, boy. Woo hoo.

The Pope's new book, Jesus of Nazareth, is out, and it's on just the right topic: get one here!

"The great question that will be with us throughout this entire book: But what has Jesus really brought, then, if he has not brought world peace, universal prosperity, and a better world? What has he brought? The answer is very simple: God. He has brought God! He has brought God, and now we know his face, now we can call upon him."

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Death by Selection


"For thousands of couples suffering from infertility, the advances in reproductive health have given many new hope--and, in some cases, new life. However, with progress comes the burden of ethical responsibility--a burden many in the field seem unwilling to shoulder. This weekend, The Washington Post published an emotionally-charged article, "Too Much to Carry," that did an admirable job portraying the wave of selective reduction that often accompanies modern fertility treatments.

Doing her best to put a human face on the inhumane procedure, author Liza Mundy visited the offices of Dr. Mark Evans to observe the dark side of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) for herself. The experience, as she tells it, was an eye-opening one. If IVF were as simple as fertilizing one egg with one sperm, the process would be less troubling. Yet for several of these at-risk women, doctors insist that to make (multiple IVF) pregnancies more "viable" there must be less competition in the womb. This often means that "excess embryos" are created, implanted in the womb, and then destroyed after tests are performed to determine which of the fetuses are healthiest. In some instances, Mundy was present for the "reductions" and describes the horror of seeing tiny lives, once active on the ultrasound screen, quickly silenced by a lethal injection to the heart.

The "selection process" is also used to single out small victims that doctors suspect have Down syndrome or other maladies, which, 85% of the time is used to justify an abortion. In one visit, Mundy describes the patient crying, "Oh, my gosh, I can really see it! I can see the fingers!" and then sobbing uncontrollably as the small baby goes still. Another woman says, "It's killing me that we're going to do this. I never thought I would feel that... I'm vehemently pro-choice." Yet the sight of seeing the needle, as one nurse puts it, "chasing the babies" who try to get away, overwhelms mothers. This same nurse, a new mom herself, has trouble with the procedure because she feels like they are "playing God." "Some of these people tried to get pregnant...and prayed to God. And now that they're pregnant, they're telling God, 'You gave me too many.'"

Rather than using IVF as an end to create life, the process is all too often a means that destroys it. This article serves as a timely call to conscience in an era when couples consider it a "right" to have children but seek freedom from the unintended consequences."

More on point here. HT Family Research Council.
See also Al Mohler's excellent post. Warning: not for the faint.

For the record, the Church forbids IVF as morally unacceptable for several reasons. First, the procedures entail the dissociation of husband and wife in the procreative act, which is properly an expression of their marital union. The dissociation of the sexual act from the procreative act undermines the dignity of the marital union as mutual self-gift. Such "procreation" is deprived of its beauty and distorts God's intentions for marriage. Furthermore, the life and identity of the embryonic children who are produced through IVF are entrusted to the power of doctors and biologists. This establishes the domination of technology- rather than the care of loving parents- over embryonic babies. The act of IVF affirms a wrong idea of children as a "right" or "entitlement" to be engineered rather than as a precious *gift* to be received from God. Finally, as we see here, the most obvious problem with IVF procedures is that they are typically abortive.

Responding to: Religion as Social Construction





It was the French sociologist Emille Durkheim (1858-1917) who originally proposed the familiar refrain that religion is humanity's created device, by which humanity can meet its needs by forming the community and society that it craves. Primal people want and need to be together; so they form various religions to provide a sense of social cohesion and moral responsibility. A sense of religion provokes communal consciousness and common emotions, which enhance a sense of group identity and establish the group itself as a worthy, 'sacred' reality. Furthermore, necessary societal expectations are framed and protected as the will of the gods. In reality however, it is the human community that is really "god," and it is the community- not a real divinity- which humanity ultimately "needs." In Durkheim's words, "the sacred is nothing more nor less that the human society (with its authority and beneficence) transfigured and personified." In another instance, Durkheim explains: "Society determines, while religion is the thing determined. Society controls; religion reflects." The essence of Durkheim’s theory of religion is that society is the all-pervasive force from which religious beliefs have evolved.

It was Mircea Eliade, the Romanian father of modern Religious Studies (1907-1986) who answered these reductionist claims by asserting that the religious experiences of human beings matter, and that on the evidence of the human experience of a personal and real God, theories such as Durkheim's become indefensible.

First, Eliade pointed out that the religious longings of humanity tend to be universally the same, regardless of time and place, whereas social needs are transient and socially conditioned, and their solutions are widely diverse; thus it is the former reality of the universal human sense of the sacred that points to something truly transcendent and real in human experience. In particular, the universal prevalence of mythic atoning savior tropes and myths of an eternal return pointed to the Christian story as the best manifestation of the sacred.

Secondly, Eliade reminded the world of the gross elitism of Durkheim's claims. Durkheim spoke as a Frenchman of the nineteenth century, for whom everything was political. As such, he could not purport to speak truly for the millions of complex and spiritual human beings who had their own account of what religion really was, and knew for themselves what they meant by the reality of the sacred. Eliade proposed that we actually listen to the claims of faithful people. Rather than imposing Western reductionist structures upon personal accounts of the sacred, Eliade held that a more authentic account of religion should be derived from the stories of simple people who claimed to have encountered God.

In short, Eliade might democratically suggest, "how do you know there is a God? - Listen to the people who worship Him."

More on my hero Eliade here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

FRC Blogger Briefings

Did you know???? The Family Research Council has a cool service of weekly "Blogger Briefings:" every Thursday the Family Research Council hosts a Bloggers' Briefing conference call that gives bloggers the opportunity to communicate directly with politicians, policy makers, religious leaders, and others who set the agenda within our nation's Capital.

If would like to join this initiative, you sign up by sending an email to jpc[@]frc.org. Enjoy! :)

Feeding the hungry gods


I recently used these contrasting passages to illustrate a key difference between primal religions and Christianity for my class; they were quick to pick up the difference.

"You see, the spirits are not being fed properly and are being forgotten, but still life continues and the still make the fields fertile. So the spirits are forced to make raids as forces of nature. And if you see an AIDS epidemic or a big boat sinking, that is the spirits having to take what they need. The energy transfer. So when they are forgotten they have to come and take what they need or else they will die. The spirits feed us through the natural world all around us. We feed the spirits by offering them gifts, human artifacts, which the spirits are unable to create themselves. We need what the spirits give, and the spirits in turn want what we have. When the spirits are forgotten this reciprocal relationship goes out of balance and the spirits become malevolent forces rather than benevolent forces in human life."

- Shaman Martin Prechtel, Secrets of the Talking Jaguar

Almighty God, our heavenly Father
We most heartily thank you for feeding us
In these holy mysteries
With the spiritual food of the most precious body and blood of thy Son,
Our Savior Jesus Christ;
And you assure us thereby of thy favor and goodness towards us...
That we are heirs through hope of they everlasting Kingdom.

- Prayer after Communion, Anglican.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Our God clearly believes in social justice


... because He makes really, really big fish.

Read about the recent catch of the world's largest catfish in Thailand, here.

HT: Fr. WB.

More Apologetics 101

... Ive just found a great and highly informed little summary of Mormonism, the Jehova's Witness tradition, and Christian Science: Christianity and the Cults, here.

-Just because I love you all.

A Theology of US Presidents...

Two of our most theologically engaged US presidents are at loggerheads today: Jimmy Carter, an evangelical who was keen to apply his Christianity to his politics and his presidential administration, has just accused the very evangelically intended GWB administration of "being the worst in history." The story is here.

What do you think? How should a Christian president of this great nation apply his Christianity to his politics? (and in that vein, at least one reader has asked about the implications and permissibility of orthodox Christians casting their votes for the very moral and very Mormon Mitt Romney...) What do you think?

Our Belief: Standing on its Own


I've just dug up a really good apologetical statement made by one of our own contributors. Here it is for your viewing pleasure... and usage.

"The current insistence that we use a 'neutral point of view' when discussing religion seems to be a quixotic quest at best, and one based incorrectly on an idealized vision of scientific knowledge as free of metaphysics. In fact, scientists debate metaphysical claims as a result of their research; for instance, the very process of scientific research requires the metaphysical assumption that the universe works with some regularity and predictability. If science is unable to escape metaphysics, then why should we hold religious claims to a different standard? One of the main problems, then, is that religious people and apologists have become captive to an empirical epistemology that is both imperialistic and unrealistic."

- Lux Intellectus

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Amen.

"Before the whole world let all Christians confess their faith in the triune God, one and three in the incarnate Son of God, our Redeemer and Lord. United in their efforts, and with mutual respect, let them bear witness to our common hope which does not play us false. In these days when cooperation in social matters is so widespread, all men without exception are called to work together, with much greater reason all those who believe in God, but most of all, all Christians in that they bear the name of Christ. "

- Unitatis Redintegratio

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Our resident Liturgist strikes again

How deep the Father's love for us


If you take a moment to watch this, you are going to cry a little, and your heart will be changed a little. I just wanted to warn you. Watch- with care; this is what we mean when we say that Christians, having been loved by the Father, stand for the worth of even the smallest people in the Father's world.

HT: Crystal.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Could it be?


"Tony Blair will declare himself a Roman Catholic on leaving Downing Street, according to a priest close to him."

More from the Times Online, thank you Evangelical Catholicism.

Jesus said *feed* my sheep


In the ongoing and often terrifying enterprise of evangelism, there are truly few practices that work as well as good food. Offering someone something to eat is just so disarming, because it communicates love in so many ways: here is a gift for you; here is my service to you; here is a compliment to your company and tastes. Every little act of love opens the doors a little bit wider for Christ to come in.

I've long since known that the best way to get the attention of bad little boys who need Christ is through T-bone steaks, macaroni and cheese, creamed spinach, and cherry clafoutille for desert; this is the advantage of being the big sister of four younger brothers. In college, we IVCF people would distribute homemade cookies to every dorm room on the days before exams. But recently, I've been learning even more about the evangelical advantages of providing food. While acting as a TA for dozens of university students this semester (many of whom had fashionably signed on to 'agnosticism') it was fun to see the impact that homemade snacks could have on their attitude in class.

Whipping up evangelical treats :) for others can be as simple and easy as opening your kitchen and getting creative with what's available; it's a matter of little twists with basic things. For instance:

1. Transform ordinary chocolate chip cookie dough into a batch of exotic chocolate- espresso cookies by heating the dough in the microwave for one minute- long enough for the chips to melt. Stir well to distribute the melted chocolate, and add a few tablespoons of instant coffee. These do best as teeny tiny cookie drops.

2. Dress up regular brownies with a thin layer of raspberry or apricot jam spread across the top, then top with chocolate icing- instant sacher tort.

3. Caramel Corn balls are so easy: pop a bag of instant popcorn and douse it with Karo corn syrup. Form into balls with well-buttered hands.

4. Make instant merengue for topping lemon bars or other fruity treats by melting a bag of large marshmallows in 1/2 cup of boiling milk (remove from heat as soon as the mixture bubbles and froths).

Happy Evangelism :)
More fun tips here.

A Melange: Good Theologians


Thomas Oden was once asked what other writers and theologians have sought to recover postmodern ecumenical orthodoxy. The following is a bibliographic center identified by him.

Among Lutherans

Peter Stuhlmacher, Martin Hengel, Wolfhart Pannenberg, Robert Wilken, George Lindbeck, William Lazareth, Robert Jensen, Paul Hinlicky and Carl Braaten.

Among Orthodox

Georges Florovsky, Alexander Men, Alexander Schmemann, John Meyendorff, Vladimir Lossky, Thomas Hopko, John D. Zizioulas, Kallistos Ware, John Breck, Stanley Harakas, and Vigen Guroian.

Among Roman Catholics
Hans Urs von Balthasar, Louis Bouyer, Henri De Lubac, Yves Congar, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Avery Dulles, Thomas Howard, Paul V. Mankowski, Richard John Neuhaus, Michael Novak, Paul Vitz, and George Weigel.

Among Reformed Evangelical Traditions

Thomas Torrance, James I. Packer, Donald Bloesch, Michael Green, James Davison Hunter, Stephen Evans, Richard Mouw, Clark Pinnock, Elizabeth Achtemeier, David Wells, Mark Noll, Timothy George, Alvin Plantinga, Richard Longenecker, Anthony Thiselton, Nicholas Wolterstorff, Frederick Norris, and Gordon Fee.

Among Wesleyans

Albert C. Outler, William Abraham, Ben Witherington, Alan Padgett, Roberta Bondi, Stephen Gunter, Randy Maddox, Geoffrey Wainwright, David Steinmetz, David Hay, and those inimitable jokers of postmodern evangelical criticism: Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon.

"This mélange has varied characters of different sorts (and warts), but what they have in common is that all of them have survived the death of modernity ever more deeply committed to the renewal of time-tested Christian orthodoxy."

—Thomas Oden, (HT Touchstone Journal of Mere Christianity)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Book Meme!


I've been memed by Evangelical Catholicism; I am so proud of myself.

How many books do you own?

Probably just around 300 - and this includes travel books, cook books, and my awesome coffee table books. Even though I'm supposed to be reading 24-7, a self-help author named Donn Aslett formed my opinions on bookkeeping when I was about seven, while going through my mother's regimen of homemaking bootcamp before becoming a Graduate Student. Aslett forbids keeping books because they take up space and are ultimately expensive to maintain; and after years of moving and helping my family to keep their personal library in order, I have to agree with him. When I was an undergrad, a history professor told his class "now is the time to start building a personal library." - sure, but that was eight years of school ago for me. In the past several years of grad school, I have probably only purchased about three books. I use libraries! They are free, and they have tremendous resources! And when you are done with a book you can document the title and excerpts and then return the thing to the library. I'm also a huge fan of the many (free) online databases of journal articles, early Church classics, etc. This blog needs to be a place where we make these kinds of resources well known.

Last book I read:

- I like the use of "read" here rather than "digested." :) Graduate students rarely "read-" rather, we "consume." The last book that I really read was Randall Sullivan's The Miracle Detective: An Investigation of Holy Visions while on vacation with my family last month. I had to give two lectures on the content, and I really enjoyed it. Sullivan gives a very personal and narrative account of his investigation of the Marian apparitions in Medgugorje, of the Vatican's protocol for confirming such events, and of his own personal conversion that followed his investigation. Loved it.

Five Books That Mean a Lot to Me:
Quo Vadis (Henry Sienkiewicz; my most favorite novel ever, a Nobel-Prize winning story of the early Church)
The Brothers Karamazov (Fyodor Dostoevsky; essential reading for all real Christians)
The Cost of Discipleship (Bonhoffer; I thought this was terrifying when I was in college -the professor still quotes my saying so in class- but I'm still in the game; read it if you dare)
The Politics of Jesus (John H. Yoder; if you read this, you dont need to read a lot of the other hot modern theology going these days. It changed my life.)
A Chance to Die (Amy Carmichael; this of course is de riguer for womankind.)

Now tag five others:

(this is for the girls- non bloggers, please respond in the comments)

Mrs. J at More Water.

Fr. Nelson's Wife, Mrs. Nelson.

Fr. Matthew's Wife, Mrs. Matthew.

Crystal at Biblical Womanhood.

LDMiller's wife, Mrs. Miller.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Augustine on the Eucharist


Brace Yourself.

I sometimes wonder how the Reformers claimed to get some of their best material from this guy.

ST. AUGUSTINE (c. 354 - 430 A.D.)

"That Bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the word of God IS THE BODY OF CHRIST. That chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the word of God, IS THE BLOOD OF CHRIST. Through that bread and wine the Lord Christ willed to commend HIS BODY AND BLOOD, WHICH HE POURED OUT FOR US UNTO THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS." (Sermons 227)

"The Lord Jesus wanted those whose eyes were held lest they should recognize him, to recognize Him in the breaking of the bread [Luke 24:16,30-35]. The faithful know what I am saying. They know Christ in the breaking of the bread. For not all bread, but only that which receives the blessing of Christ, BECOMES CHRIST'S BODY." (Sermons 234:2)

"What you see is the bread and the chalice; that is what your own eyes report to you. But what your faith obliges you to accept is that THE BREAD IS THE BODY OF CHRIST AND THE CHALICE [WINE] THE BLOOD OF CHRIST." (Sermons 272)

"How this ['And he was carried in his own hands'] should be understood literally of David, we cannot discover; but we can discover how it is meant of Christ. FOR CHRIST WAS CARRIED IN HIS OWN HANDS, WHEN, REFERRING TO HIS OWN BODY, HE SAID: 'THIS IS MY BODY.' FOR HE CARRIED THAT BODY IN HIS HANDS." (Ennartiones on the Psalms 33:1:10)

"Was not Christ IMMOLATED only once in His very Person? In the Sacrament, nevertheless, He is IMMOLATED for the people not only on every Easter Solemnity but on every day; and a man would not be lying if, when asked, he were to reply that Christ is being IMMOLATED." (Letters 98:9)

"Christ is both the Priest, OFFERING Himself, and Himself the Victim. He willed that the SACRAMENTAL SIGN of this should be the daily Sacrifice of the Church, who, since the Church is His body and He the Head, learns to OFFER herself through Him." (City of God 10:20)

"By those sacrifices of the Old Law, this one Sacrifice is signified, in which there is a true remission of sins; but not only is no one forbidden to take as food the Blood of this Sacrifice, rather, all who wish to possess life are exhorted to drink thereof." (Questions on the Heptateuch 3:57)

"Nor can it be denied that the souls of the dead find relief through the piety of their friends and relatives who are still alive, when the Sacrifice of the Mediator is OFFERED for them, or when alms are given in the church." (Enchiridion on Faith, Hope, Love 29:110)

"But by the prayers of the Holy Church, and by the SALVIFIC SACRIFICE, and by the alms which are given for their spirits, there is no doubt that the dead are aided that the Lord might deal more mercifully with them than their sins would deserve. FOR THE WHOLE CHURCH OBSERVES THIS PRACTICE WHICH WAS HANDED DOWN BY THE FATHERS that it prays for those who have died in the communion of the Body and Blood of Christ, when they are commemorated in their own place in the Sacrifice itself; and the Sacrifice is OFFERED also in memory of them, on their behalf. If, the works of mercy are celebrated for the sake of those who are being remembered, who would hesitate to recommend them, on whose behalf prayers to God are not offered in vain? It is not at all to be doubted that such prayers are of profit to the dead; but for such of them as lived before their death in a way that makes it possible for these things to be useful to them after death." (Sermons 172:2)

"...I turn to Christ, because it is He whom I seek here; and I discover how the earth is adored without impiety, how without impiety the footstool of His feet is adored. For He received earth from earth; because flesh is from the earth, and He took flesh from the flesh of Mary. He walked here in the same flesh, AND GAVE US THE SAME FLESH TO BE EATEN UNTO SALVATION. BUT NO ONE EATS THAT FLESH UNLESS FIRST HE ADORES IT; and thus it is discovered how such a footstool of the Lord's feet is adored; AND NOT ONLY DO WE NOT SIN BY ADORING, WE DO SIN BY NOT ADORING." (Ennarationes on the Psalms 98:9)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Jerry Falwell Dies


An icon of American Evangelicalism, Jerry Falwell died today at the age of 73. Requiescat in pacem.

He sometimes made us look bad, but still: pacem.

More on the President of Evangelical Theological Society's Return to Rome

"He said that for many years he agreed with the criticisms of the Catholic Church made by Martin Luther and other leaders of the 16th-century Reformation, who emphasized the authority of the Bible alone -- rather than the pronouncements of church leaders -- and who argued that justification resulted from the grace of God, not from good deeds.

Beckwith said he was deeply affected by a joint declaration in 1999 by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church on the doctrine of justification, which he said went a long way toward eliminating this historical source of division.

"I do agree with Protestants that there is no good I can do, no work I can perform, that would justify me," Beckwith said. "But there are many places in scripture that say there's an obligation Christians have to take on the character of Christ, and that contributes to their justification. The Catholic solution is: I am required to take on the character of Christ, but it is not my power that does it, but God's grace."

"At the end of the day, the reason for the Reformation was the debate over justification. If that is no longer an issue, I have to be Catholic," Beckwith said. "It seems to me that if there is not a very strong reason to be Protestant, then the default position should be to belong to the historic church."

More from the Washington Post here.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Homosexuality: The Official Position

Over the weekend, NPR did a two-hour special on the evolution of definitions of homosexuality as "pathology" in American psychiatric circles. The stories were fascinating and sad. I was inspired to renew this old post, below.

"Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction towards persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity (Genesis 19:1-29, Romans 1:24-27, I Corinthians 6:10, I Timothy 1:10), tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, and by the support of friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection."

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2357-2359.

(This author's most long-winded musings to date- occasioned by the film Brokeback Mountain-are available here)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

How to Evangelize a Hindu


In your next conversation with a Hindu friend about the merits of Christ, refer to the quintessential text of the Hindu tradition, the Bhagavad Gita.

(Cliff Notes: The Bhagavad Gita is the story of a young man named Arjuna who hesitates on the edge of a battle field. Members of his own family are fighting on opposite sides of the battle. Enter Lord Krishna, the incarnate manifestation of Vishnu, one of the triad of Hindu deities. Krishna advises young Arjuna- the wuss- to get over it and to enter the battle. First, Krishna explains, all of life is merely fleeting and illusory, such that the violence of war is relatively inconsequential, any action- whether right or wrong- is ultimately destructive, and the people who die in battle will be incarnated anyway. Secondly, given the transience of life, it is most moral for Arjuna to do his duty as a member of the warrior caste and to simply fight this battle, rather than to puzzle over apparent moral quandries. Thirdly, Arjuna is to dedicate the simple performance of his duties to Krishna himself; in this way even the most mundane and objectionable acts become means of achieving the spiritual virtues of renunciation, surrender, and liberation from his Samsara-bound personal ego. It is imperative also that these duties be performed selflessly, without regard for their consequences or rewards, and as mere manifestations of the will of Brahman; ultimately, duties are to be performed out of "love" of the Lord Krishna, in whom alone all personal desire is fulfilled.)

There are several points which the Christian apologist can draw from this paradigmatic story.

1. A Personal, Incarnate God. Although Hinduism joins the myriad of other Eastern traditions in affirming that Ultimate Reality is an impersonal, ungraspable, unknowable, and indescribable Void beyond all personal aspirations and attributes, there are persistent trends in Hinduism which describe this Reality as the personal Brahman (which, in a complicated way, is the same "thing" as your own self in Hinduism, such that to realize Brahman is to realize one's own self). In the story above and througout the Upanishadic period in India, Brahman is described as having a personal will. Brahmin receives acts of personal devotion and sacrifices, and counts them towards the individual's release from Samsara. Most importantly for our purposes, the Gita recounts that Brahmin has one, paradigmatic, historical incarnation in Vishnu. Vishnu appears to the perplexed Arjuna in order to lead him to truth and to invite him to fellowship with himself.

This is a critical point of Christian/Hindu resonance: the notion of the personal and self-revealing god in search of the human person, who makes his fundamental inexhaustible mystery cognizable and experienced in the manifestation of the “redeeming” Lord Krishna; the “result” of such encounter is the achievement of desired union between god and the person.

2. Redemption. One of the sources of anxiety in Hinduism is the need to secure benefits in the cosmic banking system of Karma, such that ultimately, one may be released ("Moksa") from the cycle of Samsara. The problem with Samsara is that one is trapped in an endless progression, from one finite stage to the next, wherein it remains eternally impossible to (really) satisfy one's desires. One is thus doomed to live with a constant sense of uncomfortable dissatisfaction because of his great desire for Ultimate Reality, combined with his finite inability to attain it. Various yogic (litt., "unitive") practices emerged through the centuries to facilitate release from Samsara, in order to develop the human spirit ("Atman") and intellect as a kind of spiritual vehicle which could carry the person to his resting place/salvation in Brahman.

These of course are themes familiar to both Christian and Hindu conceptualization: the story of the incapacitated human in agonized quest for the personal god; consummation in total surrender to this personal god; and the consolation of inner enlightenment through conformity and obedience to god.

3. The sum of the dilemma shared by Hindus and Christians is an unquenchable longing for God, and the issue of what to make of an incarnation of God who appears to lead humanity to Himself. Here, it is important to remember the nuance that Hinduism posits that “the history of humanity is the history of salvation,” in an ongoing cycle of divine revelation and human progress. Here, parties to a Christian/Hindu conversation might query whether it is possible that one particular historical event- in Christianity, the incarnation of God in Christ- might be absolutely central and normative for the entire historical process. Recall that the paradigmatic encounter between Krishna and Arjuna is in fact canonized and upheld (in Ghandi’s terms) as the “quintessence” of Hindu understanding. Since Hindus are willing to acknowledge a point of “quintessential” revelation, they should be sympathetic to Christian claims of the quintessential revelation of God in Christ, and in the ultimate provision of redemption through Christ's crucifixion and resurrection.

In sum: The conclusion of the matter is at this point, as Professor Volf says, to "tell them about Jesus." A Hindu might argue that all moments of divine revelation stand in dialectic relationship to one another, without uniqueness or precedence. But Hinduism's account of an incarnate god appearing to redeem humanity through an invitation to personal relationship, As Krishna does in the Bhagavad Gita, is paradigmatic for the Hindu. Authentic Christian belief holds not only that God reveals Himself truly "at various times and in various different ways," but also, as the relevant Epistle excerpt continues, “God has in these last days spoken (definitively) to us by his Son, who is the exact representation of God’s being.”

... and this is the God who has taken on our very flesh in order to suffer and die for our redemption in history, who intercedes for us, and who draws us into communion with Himself even in the midst of our finite limitations. A Hindu, in his obvious desire to reach God, can't get any closer to the divine than in Jesus of Nazareth.

Gluttons for punishment can refer to my Reading and Discussing the Bhagavad Gita, available here.

The Mother of My Lord


"It must not be denied that God in choosing and destining Mary to be the Mother of his Son, granted her the highest honor. Elizabeth called Mary Mother of the Lord, because the unity of the Person in the two natures of Christ is such that the mortal man engendered in the womb of Mary is at the same time the one and eternal God."

-John Calvin
(Calvini Opera, Corpus Reformatorum, Braunschweig-Berlin, 1863-1900, v. 45, p. 348, 35.)

Happy Mother's Day!

(How are all of you honoring your moms today?...)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Cute

... In praise of Recently Overheard Evangelical One-Liners:

1. "Nihilism: There's Nothing to it."

2. "Is Jesus a Crutch? Heck, I need two."

Have a nice weekend :)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Al Mohler on Francis Beckwith's Conversion to Rome

Mohler, president of some Baptist Seminary, addressed Beckwith's remarkable return to the Catholic Church on his radio program, within the context of American Evangelicalism's "crisis of identity." Mohler's remarks are available here.

HT: Ignatius Insight Scoop.

(With all due respect for Mohler and American Evangelicalism, the good professor makes the evangelical trend sound like quite the frantic guessing game... I would have been tres' annoyed back in the day)

Evangelize and Build the Family

Benedetto to Brazilian young people yesterday: Look forward to the sacrament of marriage.

- Now that's refreshing news. I also think this is such a wholesome way to encourage vocations... by affirming marriage and traditional family life.

More on his remarks here; does anyone know where we could find the actual transcript of the pope's address?

Speaking of Rauschenbusch...

Here is a nice summary of the Pope's take on liberation theology. It also serves as a nice rebuttal of the theological concepts behind the social justice movement. The point is not that the Pope is opposed to social justice, but rather that social justice is the result of proper theological formation; good theology forms good ministry, not the other way around.
(HT: Mirror of Justice, a great blog by Catholic legal experts)

Pope canonizes 1st Brazilian-born saint

So the Pope canonizes the first Brazilian-born saint, but the real surprise is that his name isn't Pele. Of course, maybe that's just because Pele is still alive and the Pope is just waiting. What? You want miracles?? Okay, here are some miracles (with a nifty soundtrack):

Walter Rauschenbusch 100 years later

Here's a nice article from the Wall Street Journal's Taste page on the publication of Walter Rauschenbusch's landmark book "Christianity and the Social Crisis" which was published 100 years ago. The author's critiques are spot on and Rauschenbusch's ideas continue to plague our churches even today.

By the way, every Friday the WSJ has an article on religion that is worth reading on their Taste page. I highly recommend it.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Drop-Box for Unwanted Babies?

"A Japanese hospital opened the country's only anonymous drop box for unwanted infants Thursday despite government admonitions against abandoning babies.

The baby drop-off, called "Crane's Cradle," was opened by the Catholic-run Jikei Hospital in the southern city of Kumamoto as a way to discourage abortions and the abandonment of infants in unsafe public places. The hospital described it as a parent's last resort.

A small hatch on the side of the hospital allows people to drop off babies in an incubator 24 hours a day, while an alarm will notify hospital staff of the new arrival. The infants will initially be cared for by the hospital and then put up for adoption."

Read the whole thing.

For some reason, I can totally relate

The Gospel as Jaws

Sometimes I worry...(these people mean so well...)

Nice.


Imagine... the church advocating and caring for those that the state cannot reach...

Count Karl Ballestrem dies, March 9


This man was one of the noblest, most devout, and generous men I have ever known. He is survived by his beautiful wife, who adored him, and his four children. Modern Europe has lost one of its peers most committed to extending Christ's kingdom. He was an advocate for the culture of life and a true servant of the Church.

Pray for Count Ballestrem, his family, and his legacy if you think about it.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him, and may his soul, and all the souls of the faithful departed, though the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Daily Updates on the Pope's Pastoral Visit to Brazil

National Catholic Reporter's John Allen is travelling with the Pope on his Brazil visit, and is offering daily updates at NCR Cafe.Org, here (see "Daily News and Updates" on the face of the site itself.)

Also, a new blog that I love is A Catholic Life, by a young RC seminarian. He will also be posting daily on the pope's visit.

Enjoy-

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Augustine on "The Lord's Supper"


Brace Yourself.

I sometimes wonder how the Reformers claimed to get some of their best material from this guy.

ST. AUGUSTINE (c. 354 - 430 A.D.)

"That Bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the word of God IS THE BODY OF CHRIST. That chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the word of God, IS THE BLOOD OF CHRIST. Through that bread and wine the Lord Christ willed to commend HIS BODY AND BLOOD, WHICH HE POURED OUT FOR US UNTO THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS." (Sermons 227)

"The Lord Jesus wanted those whose eyes were held lest they should recognize him, to recognize Him in the breaking of the bread [Luke 24:16,30-35]. The faithful know what I am saying. They know Christ in the breaking of the bread. For not all bread, but only that which receives the blessing of Christ, BECOMES CHRIST'S BODY." (Sermons 234:2)

"What you see is the bread and the chalice; that is what your own eyes report to you. But what your faith obliges you to accept is that THE BREAD IS THE BODY OF CHRIST AND THE CHALICE [WINE] THE BLOOD OF CHRIST." (Sermons 272)

"How this ['And he was carried in his own hands'] should be understood literally of David, we cannot discover; but we can discover how it is meant of Christ. FOR CHRIST WAS CARRIED IN HIS OWN HANDS, WHEN, REFERRING TO HIS OWN BODY, HE SAID: 'THIS IS MY BODY.' FOR HE CARRIED THAT BODY IN HIS HANDS." (Ennartiones on the Psalms 33:1:10)

"Was not Christ IMMOLATED only once in His very Person? In the Sacrament, nevertheless, He is IMMOLATED for the people not only on every Easter Solemnity but on every day; and a man would not be lying if, when asked, he were to reply that Christ is being IMMOLATED." (Letters 98:9)

"Christ is both the Priest, OFFERING Himself, and Himself the Victim. He willed that the SACRAMENTAL SIGN of this should be the daily Sacrifice of the Church, who, since the Church is His body and He the Head, learns to OFFER herself through Him." (City of God 10:20)

"By those sacrifices of the Old Law, this one Sacrifice is signified, in which there is a true remission of sins; but not only is no one forbidden to take as food the Blood of this Sacrifice, rather, all who wish to possess life are exhorted to drink thereof." (Questions on the Heptateuch 3:57)

"Nor can it be denied that the souls of the dead find relief through the piety of their friends and relatives who are still alive, when the Sacrifice of the Mediator is OFFERED for them, or when alms are given in the church." (Enchiridion on Faith, Hope, Love 29:110)

"But by the prayers of the Holy Church, and by the SALVIFIC SACRIFICE, and by the alms which are given for their spirits, there is no doubt that the dead are aided that the Lord might deal more mercifully with them than their sins would deserve. FOR THE WHOLE CHURCH OBSERVES THIS PRACTICE WHICH WAS HANDED DOWN BY THE FATHERS that it prays for those who have died in the communion of the Body and Blood of Christ, when they are commemorated in their own place in the Sacrifice itself; and the Sacrifice is OFFERED also in memory of them, on their behalf. If, the works of mercy are celebrated for the sake of those who are being remembered, who would hesitate to recommend them, on whose behalf prayers to God are not offered in vain? It is not at all to be doubted that such prayers are of profit to the dead; but for such of them as lived before their death in a way that makes it possible for these things to be useful to them after death." (Sermons 172:2)

"...I turn to Christ, because it is He whom I seek here; and I discover how the earth is adored without impiety, how without impiety the footstool of His feet is adored. For He received earth from earth; because flesh is from the earth, and He took flesh from the flesh of Mary. He walked here in the same flesh, AND GAVE US THE SAME FLESH TO BE EATEN UNTO SALVATION. BUT NO ONE EATS THAT FLESH UNLESS FIRST HE ADORES IT; and thus it is discovered how such a footstool of the Lord's feet is adored; AND NOT ONLY DO WE NOT SIN BY ADORING, WE DO SIN BY NOT ADORING." (Ennarationes on the Psalms 98:9)

On the emancipation of women!


"The same false teachers who try to dim the luster of conjugal faith and purity do not scruple to do away with the honorable and trusting obedience which the woman owes to the man. Many of them even go further and assert that such a subjection of one party to the other is unworthy of human dignity, that the rights of husband and wife are equal; wherefore, they boldly proclaim the emancipation of women has been or ought to be effected. This emancipation in their ideas must be threefold, in the ruling of the domestic society, in the administration of family affairs and in the rearing of the children. It must be social, economic, physiological: - physiological, that is to say, the woman is to be freed at her own good pleasure from the burdensome duties properly belonging to a wife as companion and mother (We have already said that this is not an emancipation but a crime); social, inasmuch as the wife being freed from the cares of children and family, should, to the neglect of these, be able to follow her own bent and devote herself to business and even public affairs; finally economic, whereby the woman even without the knowledge and against the wish of her husband may be at liberty to conduct and administer her own affairs, giving her attention chiefly to these rather than to children, husband and family.

This, however, is not the true emancipation of woman, nor that rational and exalted liberty which belongs to the noble office of a Christian woman and wife; it is rather the debasing of the womanly character and the dignity of motherhood, and indeed of the whole family, as a result of which the husband suffers the loss of his wife, the children of their mother, and the home and the whole family of an ever watchful guardian. More than this, this false liberty and unnatural equality with the husband is to the detriment of the woman herself, for if the woman descends from her truly regal throne to which she has been raised within the walls of the home by means of the Gospel, she will soon be reduced to the old state of slavery (if not in appearance, certainly in reality) and become as amongst the pagans the mere instrument of man."

- Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii, 1932.

A Shocking Statistic...

From today's New York Times:

"About 90 percent of pregnant women who are given a Down syndrome diagnosis have chosen to have an abortion."

Apparently the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is now recommending that all women undergo Down's Syndrome testing for their unborn babies. Previously, they had only recommended it for women under 35. This, dear readers, is the enemy.

Read the whole thing.

A handy citation source

Here is one of the best resources possible for those of us who may need to cite a source from time to time: (just because I love you all)

The Chicago Manual of Style Quick Guide.

Al Sharpton to Mitt Romney: You dont believe in God!

... What Mormons believe:

Divine Authority
The Mormon church uses two sources as its primary authorities: the Book of Mormon and the Bible. The Doctrine and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price are also viewed as divinely authoritative. Joseph Smith is recognized as a prophet.

The Nature of God
The Mormon church sees God as the Supreme Being of the universe. However, He gradually acquired that position over a long period of time by living a perfect and righteous life. God the Father has a body (flesh and bones). The Christian church proclaims God as eternally and infinitely supreme. He is the same today as always. He is a spirit Being.

The Nature of Man
The Mormon church teaches that humans exist as spirit beings before their birth. At physical birth, bodies are given to these spirits. They are also given an opportunity for free-will choice. The physical world represents a period of probation. The status of a person in the afterlife is determined by the way that person lived their life on Earth. If the person lived by a satisfactory standard, (including the fulfillment of Mormon temple obligations) that person has the potential to become a god in the after-life. They can also produce "spirit children" to populate a world of his own (like God did with the earth). The Christian church holds that humans do not exist as spirits prior to conception. Humans cannot attain godhood or populate other worlds with "spirit children."

The Nature of Jesus Christ
The Mormon church views Jesus and Satan as spirit brothers and sons of God. God put forth His plan of salvation for the world, and Satan proposed his own plan. Jesus accepted the Father's plan and offered to implement it as the Savior. The Father chose Jesus, and the spirit of Jesus was given a body through the virgin Mary. He was crucified on a Roman cross, and rose from the dead three days later to establish His deity. The character and life of Jesus is attainable by anyone who performs at such a righteous level. The Christian church teaches that Jesus Christ has existed eternally as the Son of God, the second "person" of the Trinity. Jesus took on human flesh about 2000 years ago and was born into the world through the virgin Mary. He was crucified on a Roman cross for our sins, and rose from the dead three days later.

How we Achieve Salvation
The Mormon church holds that Jesus Christ overcame physical death and guaranteed physical resurrection to all mankind. However, spiritual death can only be avoided through personal obedience of God's commandments. Forgiveness of sins requires faith, repentance and baptism by an approved Mormon priest. The practice of baptism for the dead is an extension of this belief, in which Mormons are baptized in proxy for those who have died without proper baptism. The Christian church teaches that we are unable to live a life righteous enough to meet God's perfectly holy standard. Therefore, we establish a relationship with God by faith in the work of Christ on the cross.

Life After Death
The Mormon church maintains that although there is temporary punishment for those that are most wicked, Jesus Christ will establish a new kingdom that will consist of three levels: the celestial kingdom, the terrestrial kingdom, and the telestial kingdom.


- Slightly edited, from the "All About Cults" website...

The Simple Life: Kitchens


The New York Times has an excellent article up today that I thought I would at least reference entitled A No-Frills Kitchen Still Cooks. On this, I must say that I am a hypocrite of the highest order. It's one of those things - if you never eat out for the sake of simplicity - then why should your kitchen be simple? Our kitchen is the Williams-Sonoma catalog meets lower-middle class duplex galley! French cookware, German knives, gadgets galore, the best of the best. But, do we really need it? Not really, even though when we acquired most of it - that's certainly what we said! And - I must admit that I positively love Auberge pie-plates and our growing collection of cast-iron - and it has largely been justified by our aforementioned thrift when it comes to food.

My conviction, it seems, has been handed down by the New York Times and a restaurant supply warehouse-junkie by the name of Mark Bittman, who outfitted an entire kitchen for $300. I would note - he doesn't, that it comes at the price of Aluminum cookware which might (if you believe the urban-myth) give you Alzheimer's (even though the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that's bunk!) But, nevertheless, it's surprisingly well-stocked. He has included five pots and pans, a cutting board, two knives, a strainer, a colander, one of those cool Japanese-made Benriner mandolines, a loaf-pan, a whisk, tongs, some wooden spoons, measuring cups, and an instant-read thermometer, among other things, for the cost of even the best iPod. Truth be told, this is a kitchen that reflects downright monastic simplicity, and if it weren't for wedding registries, this would be the ideal setup - capable of just about anything worth cooking. Perhaps a trip to Acme is in order. That mandoline looks cool! I need it!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Felony Murder and the Moral Law...

(MM, perhaps you could help me with this?)

I was watching a Frontline special tonight on juveniles serving life sentences in the State of Colorado. There was the case of a 17-year-old kid who had set up a gun sale hoax. His plan was to fake the sale of a handgun to another teen, taking the cash, and asking to show a feature of the gun, then taking the gun and the money. In the course of the hoax, he accidentally fired the gun, killing the other teen.

If tried in juvenile court, he would have been given a manslaughter charge, a robbery charge, totaling as few as 2 years and as much as 15 years for his sentence. But, because he was tried outside of juvenile courts, the felony murder statue applied. The prosecution charged the teen with first-degree murder. The jury lowered the conviction to reckless manslaughter, but convicted him of the robbery, resulting in an automatic conviction for felony murder due to the robbery conviction. He was thus sentenced to life without parole. You can read the whole story here.

Anyway, my question is one of the justice of a felony murder statute. Does it make sense to charge a getaway driver with murder when a robbery goes bad? Can this in any way be considered proportional? I had never even heard of felony murder before tonight. Aquinas seems to state that unintended consequences in legitimate acts are not the cause of guilt, even for homocide, while killings committed unintentionally in the course of illicit acts (i.e. felonies) are murder. He even states that if the person fails to take due care, he can be guilty of murder.

This seems to me to, from a moral perspective, circumvent the qualifiers of mortal sin. I don't think, however that this is what Aquinas was attempting to elucidate. But, he was also addressing canon law, not civil law. As understand it, felony murder statutes first appeared in English common law in the 12th Century, shortly before Aquinas. Yet, it seems that in the case of felony murder, there is a lack of full consent, as well as a lack of knowledge. Anyone able to help on this?

A Find By Real Archaeologists


Archaeologists in Israel appear to have found the final resting place of King Herod, yes the same King Herod who sent soldiers into Bethlehem to slaughter the Holy Innocents.
The long search for Herod the Great’s tomb has ended with the exposure of the remains of his grave, sarcophagus and mausoleum on Mount Herodium’s northeastern slope, Prof. Ehud Netzer of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Institute of Archaeology announced today.

Herod was the Roman-appointed king of Judea from 37 to 4 BCE, who was renowned for his many monumental building projects, including the reconstruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the palace at Masada, as well as the complex at Herodium, 15 kilometers south of Jerusalem. .

Herodium is the most outstanding among King Herod’s building projects. This is the only site that carries his name and the site where he chose to be buried and to memorialize himself -- all of this with the integration of a huge, unique palace at the fringe of the desert, said Prof. Netzer. Therefore, he said, the exposure of his tomb becomes the climax of this site’s research.

The approach to the burial site - which has been described by the archaeologists involved as one of the most striking finds in Israel in recent years - was via a monumental flight of stairs (6.5 meters wide) leading to the hillside that were especially constructed for the funeral procession.

The excavations on the slope of the mountain, at whose top is the famed structure comprised of a palace, a fortress and a monument, commenced in August 2006. The expedition, on behalf of the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was conducted by Prof. Netzer, together with Yaakov Kalman and Roi Porath and with the participation of local Bedouins.
There is also very good correlation with the works of Josephus, who states that the funeral procession for Herod was about 25 miles out of Jerusalem. The Tomb and monuments were destroyed during the revolts of AD 66-72, leading up to the destruction of the Temple by the Roman occupation. Looks like this ones legit, folks.

Read more at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and at the the New York Times Lede Blog.

Lady Julian of Norwich, 1416


"IN this moment suddenly I saw the red blood trickle down from under the Garland hot and freshly and right plenteously, as it were in the time of His Passion when the Garland of thorns was pressed on His blessed head who was both God and Man, the same that suffered thus for me. I conceived truly and mightily that it was Himself shewed it me, without any mean.

And in the same Shewing suddenly the Trinity fulfilled my heart most of joy. And so I understood it shall be in heaven without end to all that shall come there. For the Trinity is God: God is the Trinity; the Trinity is our Maker and Keeper, the Trinity is our everlasting love and everlasting joy and bliss, by our Lord Jesus Christ. And this was shewed in the First Shewing and in all: for where Jesus appeareth, the blessed Trinity is understood, as to my sight.

And I said: Benedicite Domine! This I said for reverence in my meaning, with mighty voice; and full greatly was astonied for wonder and marvel that I had, that He that is so reverend and dreadful will be so homely with a sinful creature living in wretched flesh.

This shewing I took for the time of my temptation, —for methought by the sufferance of God I should be tempted of fiends ere I died. Through this sight of the blessed Passion, with the Godhead that I saw in mine understanding, I knew well that It was strength enough for me, yea, and for all creatures living, against all the fiends of hell and ghostly temptation."

The Commemoration of Lady Julian is May 13th in the Roman Church, but as that is a Sunday, I thought we would simply keep the Anglican date, which is today. After all, Lady Julian was an Anglican!

Sola Scriptura?


"The constitution of the secular state exists, first of all, as an idea or a document, and one sets out to conform reality to this. It is quite otherwise with a living thing inhabited by the Spirit of the living God: it bears its own law within itself and does not realize it according to a written scheme or an ideal constitution. It is self-realizing, it develops what it recieves in germ from its Begetter, and can no more escape from its law, interior as it is, than one can leap outside one's shadow.


It is the case with the Church, and the circumstance is of great importance. Our Lord did not found His Church after the fashion of Solon, Lycergus, or Lenin, giving it a charter, a document, a constitution. He founded His Church by giving its very being and life, promising it His Spirit to animate and assist it. He announced that, in virtue of His living within her, we would have within her truth and life, because He would live in her Himself, who is the Way and the Truth, by His Spirit. Christ has given to us His very self."

- Yves Congar, The Church and its Unity.

Such quotes are appropos for conversation in the wake of the Beckwith resignation from the Evangelical Theological Society, which ocurred largely on the basis of his disagreement with the ETS "sola scriptura" article of faith (in my humble opinion: enormous ecumenical potential gone to waste). See also Holy Whapping's post of today on "Loving the Word" for a catholic perspective on the role of the Scripture in the Church.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Papa Ratzi in Brazil

The pope's pastoral visit to Brazil will extend from May 9-14. Read more about the plan here.

Happily, the New York Times is all over it: As Pope Heads to Brazil, a Rival Theology Persists! Etc. They are referring of course to Liberation Theology, a set of notions which admirably calls attention to the Gospel's implications for the poor, while lamentably reducing Jesus to a means to an end. See Timothy's trenchant summary at Whitehall.
This alerting headline in the Times indicates nothing of the masses of former Catholics who have left the safety of the Church in anger and become caught up in a materialistic version of charistmatic Evangelicalism in the past decade. This is also to say nothing of the rural tribes who persist in blending their animism with the most kitschy manifestations of the RC, resulting in a rather appalling level of idolatry. This is to say nothing of the horrors of the sex trade in Brazil.
In short, Papa has his work cut out for him in Brazil.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Students at Pro-Gay High School Swarm Parents Protesting Homosexuality


Can you believe this?

A small group of parents demonstrating against homosexuality were assaulted by a crowd of nearly 200 hostile students outside Brookline High School during the pro-homosexual "Day of Silence," MassResistance reported April 25.

Described as "screaming, swearing and throwing food," the students surrounded the half-dozen parents while several school faculty members and administrators stood by.




I love gay people. (I especially admire, as exemplars of heroic courage, those gay Christians who obey the Christian standard of chaste morality, contrary to the trends of our culture) I would fight to the bitter end for the protection of the dignity of homosexual persons. But this kind of display is yucky. Since when did the prerogatives for "free love" and the dignity of "self expression" that are so often hikacked by the Gay Rights Movement become associated with demonstrations of violence, lewdness, and the marginalization of the parental class? It's so undemocratic.

Into Great Silence... A Review



"Lord, you have seduced me..." says Saint Augustine, "... and I have been seduced."

Seductive truly sums up the experience of this wonderful film by director Philip Groning, who first went to the Carthusian monastery of La Grande Chartreuse over 16 years before the making of the film to ask them for permission to film it. It was only after that time that the abbot allowed him to film. Carthusian spirituality is perhaps the most austere and ascetic expression of Christian monasticism, and I have always been fascinated by its ideals. But, there hasn't been a great deal of exposure recently for it, as Carthusians typically keep to themselves.

After the first 45 minutes, the film begins to suck you in, you become gripped by the whole feel of it. The only thing I found myself wishing is that the technology for producing smells in theaters was available. Having made brief stays in monastic environments, the smells of a monastery can be intoxicating - the smells of unfinished pine floors, fresh bread, old books, and of course, food. This would probably only be accentuated in the Carthusian realm, with most meals being served directly to the cells.

Nevertheless, the audio/visual experience is one of finding yourself embraced by simplicity, so strange when we usually think of striving for simplicity. Over the course of 3 hours, it is really this way - the simplicity embraces the viewer. In fact, the only thing ornate in the movie are things like icons, and monstrances, and crucifixes. The rest is unflinchingly simple - beds with springs popping through, wooden tables, wooden forks and spoons, steel bowls, enamelware pitchers. The fact brought to immediate attention is the vastness of God, and man's utter simplicity before Him. The film is wrapped up rather nicely by the words of a blind monk who is thankful that God allowed him to become blind, because he was brought to recognize his utter dependence. He displayed so vividly the simplicity of detachment, abandonment to the Divine Will, and the lack of worry made so prominent in monasticism.

The thing I am glad of, though, is that the film does not exclude the viewer from the experience of this simplicity, but rather gives you the impression that you are truly a part of it, raking out a garden, eating bread, reading books, chanting canticles. My hope is not that this film will fertilize vocations to monasticism, but that it will be used to inspire Christians leading complicated lives to be embraced by simplicity - to be seduced by the Lord.

If you're in Dallas, this film is showing at The Inwood at 1:45p.m. most days of the week. But, in June, it will come to the Fort Worth Museum of Modern Art, beginning on the 22nd. Should be a great venue. Pax.