Blog Template Theology of the Body: August 2007

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Ecumenical Acumen Excursus (I)

Test your ecumenical acumen: unpack the following statement from one of our contributors, and (gently) respond, rebut, affirm... or not.

Reformation soteriologies have consistently purported to offer a solvent of human being rather than a solution to the problem of sin and separation from God.

"From now we will call God Allah"

...The bishop is aware that the introduction of the name Allah could make emotions run high. "Of course it is something we would have to prepare thoroughly and lengthily and contemplate extensively."

Tee hee. Look, I admit it, he's RC. Bless his heart.
More here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Cranmer lives!

The Anglicans on this blog will be pleased to know that the second-fruits of the resurrection have appeared, as Thomas Cranmer now has his own blog. It appears to be an Anglican, perhaps a priest, blogging from England under Cranmer's name. In addition to the novelty of a dead bishop blogging, I actually find the postings to be interesting. Go check it out!

The Potter Reform?

"The Harry Potter books remind us of this, and they can be, if we read them rightly, both a delight in themselves and a school for our own imaginings. They have many flaws, but I have not dwelt on them here because I forgive J. K. Rowling for every one. Her seven books are, and thank God for it, always on the side of life."

Our dear reader KI shared this excellent article from Books & Culture: A Christian Review. Read The Youngest Brother's Tale: Harry Potter's Grand Finale by Alan Jacobs here.

Happy Feast of St. Augustine!

"And I sought a way of acquiring strength sufficient to enjoy You, my God; but I found it not until I embraced that Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who is over all, God blessed for ever, calling unto me, and saying, I am the way, the truth, and the life, and mingling that food which I was unable to receive with our flesh. For the Word was made flesh, that Your wisdom, by which You created all things, might provide milk for our infancy. For I did not grasp my Lord Jesus,—I, though humbled, grasped not the humble One; nor did I know what lesson the infirmity of His would teach us. For Your Word, the Eternal Truth, pre-eminent above the higher parts of Your creation, raises up those that are subject unto Himself; but in this lower world built for Itself a humble habitation of our clay, whereby He intended to abase from themselves such as would be subjected and bring them over unto Himself, allaying their swelling, and fostering their love; to the end that they might go on no further in self-confidence, but rather should become weak, seeing before their feet the Divinity weak and wearied, and might cast themselves down upon Him, and so that Him rising, might lift them up."

Confessions, Book VII.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Blessed Anna Maria Taigi

(It's remarkable how frequently the terms "mystic" and "mother" appear together over a Google search)

Anna Maria was a poor 18th Century Italian wife and mother who was given visions. Legend has it that she could forsee a person's death, so that she might encourage their timely preparations for a holy death and spend herself in intercession on their behalf. She healed the sick, counseled popes, and raised her children to follow Christ.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Where do I apply?

Inside Higher Ed reports that Christopher Wolfe, a scholar at Marquette, is going to start a new university based on the teachings of Thomas Aquinas.

Wolfe says 'the university’s core purpose will be to provide “a
unified, integrated conception of reality” based on the scholarship of St.
Thomas Aquinas, the 13th century Roman Catholic thinker, and even further back
to Classical thinkers like Aristotle. “Contemporary higher education is
increasingly specialized and disintegrated,” he said. “We want to go back to the
kind of education where students develop a coherent understanding of deeply
integrated areas of study.”'

Wolfe hopes it will be up and running by 2011. My application will be in the mail in 2010.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Real Woman Award VI: Jennie Dangers

For those of us who know and love Jennie Dangers, her new book- The Long Road to Hope-is out. For those of you who have yet to meet this amazing woman: Jennie is a dear college friend who lives in Luwero, Uganda. She works on staff for the children's center for Ugandan orphans and young people that her father founded almost thirty years ago; her family carved their ministry out of the Ugandan bush, on the killing fields of the former civil wars, and they have made a little piece of Heaven available to "their" Ugandan children. I have spent a lot of time at the New Hope Children's Center, and I love it there. The children live and grow in family groups and receive some of the best classical Christian education available in Africa; at night, when you walk among the huts of family groups doing chores and getting ready for bed in the amazing African starlight, you can always hear the sound of happy children playing drums and singing praises to God.

So Jennie's book is the story of her family's work with God to nurture His children and thereby change a nation. This would be an amazing book to recommend to young people (and especially young women!) who are interested in exploring a vocation to ministry or foreign missions.

The Long Road to Hope is available here. (All the profits from the book go towards career development programs and scholarship funds for the New Hope young people)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Why Do They Go?

It seems that for every excited, smart, young convert to the Catholic Church that I get to meet, I run into an (almost) equally passionate defector- one of those who left the Church in response to what they understood to be the personal call of Christ. Of course those who have defected from the tradition of their childhood can be found in and among denominations, but the most vocal tend to be former Catholics.

Defectors tend to be different from a lot of converts. In the first place, they tend to be older. They tend to share a common generational story about re-interpreting and re-assessing establishments in general. Whereas the convert's story usually involves years of reflection, prayer, and rather agonized considerations in the slow wooing of wisdom, the defector's (often equally heroic) story involves quick things like "flashes" of insight and "sudden" intuitions. On the whole, defectors trace their decision to leave the Catholic Church to a noble impulse: they had an experience of interior conversion and personal revival, whereby it seemed that they could find, follow, and adore Christ only outside of the Catholic Church. Interspersed are the personal nuances that shape the contours of the story: disillusionment with the Church's rigorous standards (most often in the area of sexual ethics), a strained relationship with a priest, discontent with being told what to do and how to believe, a restless ego.

Often, the stories are quite beautiful. One hears of a person suddenly waking up to the love of Jesus, or of realizing the reality of His personal presence, or finding great freedom and exhileration in self-reflective Bible study or contemporary worship styles, or of finding more authentic relationships elsewhere. And consequently, the explanation goes, the person simply had to leave. I am a naive and enthusiastic convert, granted. But I am always left with a slew of questions at these explanations of defection. Were the self-described defectors deaf, dumb and blind so long as they remained faithful to the Catholic Church? Did they not hear the daily promises of God's love in the Scriptures, or the priest's daily words, which, so much more than assuring us verbally of Christ's spiritual presence, offered Christ the God-man to the faithful bodily? Were they not able to read their Bibles and pray reflectively, as their priests and bishops and Pope were encouraging them to do? Were they not able to be the change in their own Church that God Himself was probably calling for? Did they really think that Jesus was not there in the RC? Do they really think that He is a Protestant?

One recalls Fr. Nelson's very good post on the unbearable burden of evangelicalism.

... So whenever I hear the stories of defectors who have left the Church, who encase their tales of departing from her on account of their purely personal enthusiasm for their personal love encounter with Jesus, I have a few more particular questions as well.

The first question reflects the bare facts of current data. Will evangelical defectors, with all of their good intentions, be able to speak with the unified voice of the Church against the evils in our culture, much less be able form our culture along the lines of God's will? History has shown that this is difficult to do- it tends to take the Church's polity to effect political and cultural changes.

More importantly, will evangelical defectors be able pass on their experiences to their children? Passing on a confession and a heritage of truth, on which the Holy Spirit can breathe and bring the vitality of a living faith, is one thing; passing on a purely personal encounter is another thing entirely. Current trends are showing that evangelical parents are failing to pass on their personal encounters with Jesus, because ultimately, a personal encounter cannot be passed on; a tradition (from the Latin, "to hand down") is passed on, but a personal encounter is just that- a personal encounter. Evangelical defectors are finding that in the absence of the tradition which they left behind for a personal encounter, they have nothing more to offer to their own offspring than another story of a mystical experience (though apparently modern offspring are asking for more).

I am curious and troubled about these things. What do you think? Why do many Catholics who have a legitimate experience of interior conversion to Christ then leave?

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Retrospect: "now now dearie, use your feminine pronouns"

... because I am dashing off for this year's First Day of School.

I've about had it. The next time a White European Male professor with fewer degrees than I've got tells me that I cannot refer in my extensive writing to "mankind" or the masculine pronoun "he" or "his" for the human being, or the Fatherhood of God, or the Sonship of Christ, etc. I am going to throw a royal fit.

... actually, no time like the present.

Feminists, God bless them, have exploited the rhetoric of The Oppressed! to revise the way we speak about one another. They have thus distorted the beauty of the English language and the dignity of a woman's right to self-expression in the academy. - We have to refer to "humanity," never use the masculine pronoun (though we can use FEMININE pronouns, which is hilarious when one is speaking about historically male-dominated cultures), and above all, God must be "Mother" and "Nurturer" and "Sustainer," etc. etc. Which makes things very difficult when once wishes to refer to Christ's robust language of His Father. Which makes things difficult when one is perpetually sick of being patronized for (her) refusal to be a feminist.

Even with references to our predominately male-behaving God aside, I prefer to use masculine pronouns. Why?

1. Because I am a Christian. As such, I believe that all of humanity- and especially we baptized- are categorically and really identified by this MAN, Christ the Lord. We are capitulated by this male. We believe that we are from Him, through Him, in Him. We believe that in some sense, every person ever created is from Him, through Him, in Him, even for Him. He is before all persons, and by Him all things consist. We hope, in the end, to be regarded as "in" Him, under His juridical and ontological headship and hence constituted by His merits and safe under His protection from judgment. Thus- from His masculinity- it becomes perfectly rational to refer to persons in general with the masculine pronoun.

2. Because I am my father's daughter. Like it or not, my life has in a very precious way been lived "through" this amazing man who lays his life down to promote the women in his life. He was instrumental in my creation. He protected me and trained me and made sure that I had every opportunity that he and I could imagine. He inspires me. He interrupts his meetings to take my calls. He takes me around the world and insists that I never neglect a single dream. Someday, God willing, I will similarly live my life "through" and "in" my husband. In as much as my whole life is characterized by the gifts, love, and leadership of such men, it makes sense that I would employ... masculine pronouns.

With this in mind, I recall that language is supposed to be an instrument for honoring the other. Language, with its grammatical order and normative clarity, was (and should be) a means of the charity to which we are called in every moment. When this woman refers to the masculine pronoun, I freely honor the men in my life. (If the men in my life were to become so besotted with me that they insisted on always using femminine pronouns in my particular honor, well then, more power to 'em). As a woman who is willing to use masculine pronouns, I honor all men as fundamentally other than myself, and with whom I stand in loving solidarity as persons nonetheless. It's all about charity, people.

All this to say: I am a traditional, conservative, Catholic Christian girl who regards herself in the man Christ Jesus, and who honors her Dad among men, and I am thus become a voice of the marginalized.

Off to overthrow the oppressors.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

I bit the bullet. The Nelsons were always mentioning their extensive list of ought-to- be- boycotted businesses that support Planned Parenthood. I stalled my own acquaintance with this list for a while, knowing that once informed, I would then be fully responsible to boycott every institution that gives money to kill babies. And now, I have seen the light/list, and I am gearing up never again to shop Whole Foods, Neiman Marcus, Wal Mart, Cingular, Aveeno, or Ponds, among many others (woops, did I let those names slide?)

So. Christian readers, brace yourself and march over to Life Decisions International for your own list of corporations that have no business getting Christian money. The List has to be ordered- this is for the serious- or you can cheat a little and get a very brief list by Googling "boycott list planned parenthood" or something like that; I did, and retrieved the following.

I know, it's challenging. Non-murderous brands tend to be the sort that are not exactly cheap. But to complain about dying babies without raising a real protest is ultimately just sulky, and to stand for the life of the unborn while inadvertently funding their demise is tragically self-defeating.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Hail Ascended Holy Queen

...And Exterminatrix of Heresies.

As often happens, I have a lot of explaining to do around the time of such major Marian feasts as that which we Catholics are blessed to enjoy on this Wednesday, the Feast of Mary's Assumption. And as always, simpler is better. Yes, she is our Queen Mother. She's the mother of the King. And yes, we think that her Son once called her to ascend through the clouds to be in His presence in Heaven. This is what He promised to do for all of us, and it just makes sense that our courteous Lord would have His mother go first.

I am struck lately by how desperately the Church needs to cling to its Queen these days- not in terms of gorgeous litanies and personal affection, but in terms of the doctrinal rigor that only she can afford. The heresy of our day is that the Incarnation of God that occured in her womb is negligible. Spiritually, liberalized Christianity has decided to die the easy death of those who follow an unembodied Christ ideal. Our atmosphere is rife with such lovely-sounding, air headed proposals of uber New Age spiritualities that make the devil chuckle. Politically, a national culture that used to affirm that the Body of Jesus saves us now has its future threatened by the irritated Islamic heresy that does not tolerate this truth, while from within, we kill our babies and "euthenize" our infirm because we have forgotten that from the reality of the Incarnation, every human body intrinsically belongs to God. And all the while, the sacred warning of I John rings in the backgound like a distant memory... every spirit that denies that Christ is come in the flesh is the spirit of antichrist... who is the antichrist but he who denies that Christ is come in the flesh...any spirit that denies...

The Church has not forgotten that we are saved by knowledge of the Son, in the Biblical sense. The Church has not forgotten that we are not saved by a set of well-worded propositions about God, but by the visceral, physical reality of Jesus of Nazereth, who is God united to human flesh. The Church has thus not forgotten that Mary, above and beyond all the human creation, really knows the Son. He is her Son. She knew his stirrings in her own body before His birth. She recognized dominant DNA patterns from her parents and grandparents in His features. She knew Him when He was two. While He grew in wisdom and stature, she knew what He liked to eat and what He did not (look people, this is essential to what Christianity is- the firm conviction that God in Christ probably has favorite foods). It is she who knew that just as much as His human will grew in perfect conformity and union to His divinity, He had eyes of a certan color and pains of a certain sort, and she knew exactly what His excruciating bloody wounds looked like on the day He died for the great love of His life. And it is thus that it is Mary, the mother of our Lord, who can uniquely crush that elegant and sinister lie that God has not come in the flesh, that redeeming Truth is separate from a Person. Mary wiped His nose and rocked Him to sleep. She knows.

History has proven that it is the mother of God who protects the essential, precious truth of our salvation: the Word is made flesh and dwelt among us. Several essential aspects of the Church’s worship and confession were expressed around the 4th century in response to the proposals of detractors. The first, at the Council of Nicaea in 325, declared that Christ is fully God. At stake was an understanding of salvation: the Cross can save us only if the Crucified Redeemer is fully divine. Once the Church had expressed that the Son is also fully man at the Council of Constantinople in 381, the third statement, expressed shortly thereafter at the Council of Ephesus in 431, responded to the smelly heresy of a zealous idiot named Nestorius. Nestorius wanted above all things to evade the reality of the Cross. In sum, Nestorius was convinced that a God who suffered in the flesh could not save us. Surely such a God would have ceased to be God. So, Nestorius invented the fun proposal that I sadly run into over and over again (most recently, in the implicit statements of a Christian Science primary school curriculum and in the Beth Moore womens' Bible study at a local Presbyterian church): Jesus of Nazareth is not fully God because in Him God is not fully united to man. Jesus is only a "temple" in which God dwells; the child born of Mary may be honored as the vessel in which God's power became manifest, but Jesus cannot be worshipped as God. In short, the Nestorian heresy contended then (as it contends now) that the Word has not been made flesh, that God has not united Himself to us.

As promised, the Holy Spirit led Christ's Church into all truth, and the conciliar clarification came through loud and clear in the orthodox doctrine that Catholic Christians confess today while we joyfully worship Jesus. Mary's testimony won the day: the Person conceived by the Holy Spirit in her virginal womb is Himself the unity of God and man. He has a rational soul and a human body born of His mother; everything that belongs to a real human is in the divine Christ. The subject of the whole human reality is the Logos, which He took on from the Virgin in mortal time. With respect to His essential humanity born of Mary, God was born, God suffered, God did everything that Jesus was doing… the one who was born of the Jewish girl is the same as the one who was begotten of the Father before all worlds. As Athanasius had put it, the whole Christian story must be the story of Jesus’ descent and ascent- of the Logos' descent into our flesh, and of the taking of our flesh into the very heart of God. The story of salvation is the story of the Logos, from the bosom of the Father, to the depths of our flesh, returning to the Father clothed forever in our flesh, fused with it. What Christ has not assumed of our nature and united to His godhead cannot be healed.

The conclusion centered on Mary. In the end, in summary of the Church's Christological confession, Mary was declared Theotokos, Mother of God- not mother of a fleshly "vessel," nor mother of an earthly "temple." Rather, she herself was known to be the Vessel and Temple in whom God Himself had dwelt. In sum, we are left today with the historic Fourth Anathema against Nestorius: if anyone distributes between two persons/subjects of Jesus Christ and attaches some to the man as separated from God, let him be anathema.

The lie that the second Person of the Trinity had not come in the flesh and been born of a woman was silenced. At the time, the Church celebrated with processions similar to those that Catholic churches will perform tomorrow. In defeat of the heresies, an image of the mother of God Incarnate is paraded through the towns of the fallen world in public proclamation that the hellish lies about her Son have to stop at her humble feet. The Church recalled prayers from the Fathers Eusebius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Origin, and Gregory of Nazianzan then, as we do now: sub tuum presidium, we fly to your patronage, oh holy mother of God. Do not reject our prayers in time of need... you who alone are pure, holy and blessed... if anyone does not believe in Mary as the Mother of God, he is severed from the godhead

(Tomorrow, while I am in proud procession against deadly heresies, I will enjoy recalling the prayer of a more modern figure):

In this work whereby she was made the Mother of God, so many and such great good things were given her that no one can grasp them. ... Not only was Mary the mother of him who is born in Bethlehem, but of him who, before the world, was eternally born of the Father, from a Mother in time and at the same time man and God...She is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin- something exceedingly great. For God's grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil...The veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart...It is the consolation and the superabundant goodness of God, that man is able to exult in such a treasure. Mary is his true Mother, Christ is his brother, God is his father...Mary is the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of all of us even though it was Christ alone who reposed on her knees . . . If he is ours, we ought to be in his situation; there where he is, we ought also to be and all that he has ought to be ours, and his mother is also our mother.

- Martin Luther.

Bishop Pope Popes: ECUSA Catholic Movement at an End

"The Catholic movement in The Episcopal Church has degenerated from a theological imperative into haberdashery, the retired Bishop of Fort Worth, the Rt. Rev. Clarence C. Pope, Jr., told a reporter for The Living Church, explaining his departure to the Roman Catholic Church.

On Aug. 6, Bishop Pope wrote to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, resigning from the House of Bishops, and telephoned his successor, the Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker, to announce his decision.

Bishop Pope said the Catholic movement, which has been part of “Anglicanism from the time of the Elizabethan Settlement, has gradually dissipated until we are left with lots of ‘catholic’ vestments worn in areas of The Episcopal Church where ‘low church’ used to be the order of the day.”

The movement has reached its end within the current institutional structures of The Episcopal Church, Bishop Pope asserted, and as a matter of conscience, it was time for him to go."

More from T19 here, if you have not been following this rather old news already.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Baptist seminary to offer homemaking for women only

There are times when parts of the Baptist convention become parodies of themselves. This is one of them: Baptist seminary to offer homemaking for women only.

Who can offer the best name for a course in this program, with a course description? Leave them in the comments...

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Fr. WB Speaks: There is No Plain Sense of Scripture (as we can see)

"The notion that there is "a plain sense" of Scripture, and correlatively that Scripture alone should govern our life in Communion, is mistaken. It is belied by the existence of many thousands of Protestant denominations, all of which have their origin in disagreements over what Scripture says."

A little more here.

Corroborating evidence can be found at Doug's heartbreaking post for the day on "how to leave a church honorably."

"One way that supreme covenant finds expression is through the “mini” covenant of their relations and duties to Christ’s local church. Because Christians are in covenant with Christ, they are to be in covenant with a local church. They are not (united) to the local church, but they are to be in a state of formal covenant with it. This “mini” covenant (an extension of our covenant with Christ) carries privileges and responsibilities, and is not to be taken lightly...there are sound biblical reasons for leaving one local church to attend another, but the reasons for departure must derive from sound biblical reasons, not personal whims and preferences. Biblically leaving a local church involves transferring covenant duties and privileges from one local body to another."

This is sound advice for the Protestant millieu. But somehow, I've missed the notion of the one glorious Bride adorned for her Husband in all of this thinking... the whole scenario of churchly contracting sounds more like a car dealership to me.

Gregory of Nyssa on the One in Three

Get it right, people.

"For Luke is a man, or Stephen is a man; but it does not follow that if any one is a man he is therefore Luke or Stephen: but the idea of the divine "persons" admits of that separation which is made by the peculiar attributes considered in each severally, and when they are combined is presented to us by means of number; yet their nature is one, at union in itself, and an absolutely indivisible unit, not capable of increase by addition or of diminution by subtraction, but in its essence being and continually remaining one, inseparable even though it appear in plurality, continuous, complete, and not divided with the individuals who participate in it.

And as we speak of a people, or a mob, or an army, or an assembly in the singular in every case, while each of these is conceived as being in plurality, so according to the more accurate expression, "man" would be said to be one, even though those who are exhibited to us in the same nature make up a plurality."

Gregory of Nyssa, AD 335-394
On Not Three Gods

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Worship with Graven Images

Icons can raise sticky situations, but they are so vital to Christian prayer that resistance to their use was condemned at the Council of Nicaea II in AD 787.

First, (of importance to Jews), Christians read the First Commandment in light of our worship of Jesus, who is the Word incarnate, and hence the image of God. Thus, the use of images (icons) in Christian worship, in light of this fundamental principle of our faith (the Incarnation of God, wherein God makes Himself known to us not only through Word but through the physical, visible, creaturely reality of flesh and blood) does not violate the First Commandment.

Secondly, as God united Himself to the creaturely reality in Jesus Christ, the creaturely realities expressed in images have thus become appropriate resources for our worship. The Incarnation of the Son of God ushered in a new role for images; though God is always invisible and incomprehensible, images of Christ (in whom God has made Himself definitively, visibly, and physically known) allow for deeper contemplation of our Lord Jesus.

So iconography is always ultimately about Jesus, who is our only "picture" of God. As such, icons are helpful in communicating the Gospel in images which illuminate the words of Scripture- the two realities can illustrate and illumine each other, particularly for nonliterate persons. Icons allow for a harmony of the senses, as persons hear God's Word proclaimed, and simultaneously consider the illustrations of that Word in icons; this harmony also allows for a deeper impression on the hearer's memory, imagination, and heart. Christ can be glorified in images, in as much as they signify Him to the viewer and make Him manifest. The beauty of icons can subtly deepen a person's experience in prayer. Finally, images of other believers who are now in God's presence powerfully remind Christians that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, with whom we join (now) in praise and worship of the Lord.

CF also New Advent on point here, and the Orthodox Catechism here.

Maximus the Confessor, 580-662

"For out of God's infinite longing for humankind he has himself become by nature that for which He longed, neither suffering anything in His own nature in his inexpressible self-emptying, nor changing anything of what is human through His ineffable assumption, nor in any way diminishing nature, which the Word properly supports as constituting it."

Monday, August 06, 2007

Hooray Hooray!

Happy Day! I've found my new favorite blog, and it's authored by girls!!! See Reformed Chicks Blabbing. It's fabulous. How fun to see good political theologies from The Other Side of the Tiber. CF their official quote:
"...civil religion is the misidentification of the nation of the United States with the covenant people of God. It is the casual assumption that America enjoys a special role in redemptive history. It is the confusion of the office of the political leader with the office of the spiritual leader. It is the frequent presumption of divine blessings without submission to divine judgment. It is the sublimation of Christian distinctives to a generic amalgam that conflates many faiths into a common national identity. It is as old as America itself. And it is not biblical Christianity." - William Inboden

Happy Dance.

Does Protestantism = The Rise of Secularity?

(It's an honest question)

Christopher Hitchens recently wrote a book entitled God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. Obviously, this sad intellectul has determined that the secularization of a culture (in terms of the purported separation of church and state, and the denuding of a culture's intellectual/artistic references to faith and spirituality in public) is not only possible and beneficial, but vitally necessary.

In some ways, Hitchens chimes in with the undercurrent Reformation principle that the transactions of the Christian faith are purely interior. Accordingly, Christians should not be surprised that religion in America (I mean real religion) is becoming increasingly privatized, a matter of the "choice," "preference," and prerogative of the individual or the nuclear family. The Protestant Fathers may be spinning in their graves at what their progeny are up to, but it's true: modern Protestants generally refuse to acknowledge the common, binding quality of the Christian faith, and have gladly relinquished their birthright to act corporately as the holy nation, the people of God. You see how far the modern Western society has come.

In the USA, celebrated Boston University sociologist Peter Berger has suggested a possible connection between secularization and Protestant Christianity (and he is being descriptive, not offering an evaluation as to which religious persuasion is superior). In sum:

If compared with the fullness of the Catholic universe, Protestantism appears to be a radical truncation, a reduction to "essentials." Protestantism requires an immense shrinkage in the scope of the sacred as compared to Catholicism. Sacraments are reduced to a minimum, divested of their magical qualities. The miracle of the Mass disappears. In general, miracles are given little or no credence. The vast network of saintly intercession disappears altogether. In short, Protestantism rid itself as much as possible of mystery, miracle and magic and created a "disenchantment of the world." The Protestant believer no longer lives in a world penetrated by sacred beings and forces. Reality, for the Protestant, is polarized between a radically transcendent divinity and a radically "fallen" humanity which is made entirely devoid of the sacred. Between God and man lies an altogether "natural" universe. The umbilical cord between heaven and the earth is cut. Humanity's relationship to the sacred is reduced to one exceedingly narrow channel: God's word. All that remains is the cutting of this one narrow channel of mediation to open the floodgates of secularization, to create a world in which "God is dead." A sky empty of angels becomes open to the absolute conclusions of the astronomer and the astronaut.

Various sociologists have agreed that Protestantism, at the very least, is an historically decisive factor in the process of secularization, regardless of the importance of other factors as well.

... what do you think?

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Caption contest

I saw this sign today and thought that it was ripe for a caption contest. There are so many things wrong with this on so many levels, I figured the best response would be humor.
So, in the comments, please leave a funny response to this sign...

For the Cabin Crazy

Jesus' words about "going into all the world" have always rung true with me. I'm a YWAMer, after all. This summer, I've chosen to stay closer to home, and I chuckled at this morning's reading from Luke 8, where Jesus tells the cured demoniac and hopeful disciple to "return home and tell how much God has done for you."

For those of us who are not globe trotting this summer, it's a fun diversion to map out your personal travels at my for nostalgia's sake. Here is the territory I've covered in my lifetime:

What does your world look like?

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Pray for the Victims of the Minnesota Bridge

There are four dead and sixty injured. Please join me in offering up the souls, bodies, and families of all involved... and pray especially for everyone who will be asking the serious question of how these things can happen to good people.

Tell Them How You See It

As many of you know, I love Starbucks- LOVE it. And I'm on a campaign to get real Christian sentiments on the back of those conversation-sparking Starbucks cups. Why should the Trendy Opposition get all of the exposure?

I was highly gratified to find this glimmer of hope on the back of my venti this morning:

Darwinism’s impact on traditional social values has not been as benign as its advocates would like us to believe. Despite the efforts of its modern defenders to distance themselves from its baleful social consequences, Darwinism’s connection with eugenics, abortion and racism is a matter of historical record. And the record is not pretty.

-- Dr. Jonathan Wells
Biologist and author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design.

So go for it... do any of you readers have any burgeoning ideas for a Starbucks cup contribution? I wouldn't put it past you. Post it here first, and then by all means, send it in!

Abortion: A Failure to Communicate

Paul Swope, Project Director of the (excellent) Caring Foundation and President of LifeNet Services, Inc., has an incisive analysis of why women choose abortions and how our culture could convince them otherwise at First Things, here.

Skimming this article will remind the reader that it takes the Church, in its integrated structures and culture, to change the world: "...those women who are likely to choose life rather than abortion do so not because they better understand fetology or have a greater love for children, but because they have a broader and less fragile sense of self, and they can better incorporate motherhood and the dignity of the person into their self-identity."

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Contemporary Jewish Converts