Monthly Archives: July 2015

the most intimate relationship

One can never sufficiently stress the fact that evangelization does not consist only of the preaching and teaching of a doctrine. For evangelization must touch life: the natural life to which it gives a new meaning, thanks to the evangelical perspectives that it reveals; and the supernatural life, which is not the negation but the purification and elevation of the natural life.

This supernatural life finds its living expression in the seven sacraments and in the admirable radiation of grace and holiness which they possess.

Evangelization thus exercises its full capacity when it achieves the most intimate relationship, or better still, a permanent and unbroken intercommunication, between the Word and the sacraments. In a certain sense it is a mistake to make a contrast between evangelization and sacramentalization, as is sometimes done. It is indeed true that a certain way of administering the sacraments, without the solid support of catechesis regarding these same sacraments and a global catechesis, could end up by depriving them of their effectiveness to a great extent. The role of evangelization is precisely to educate people in the faith in such a way as to lead each individual Christian to live the sacraments as true sacraments of faith- and not to receive them passively or reluctantly.

(source: Evangelii Nuntiandi (December 8, 1975) | Paul VI, emphasis added)

Religion or Harmless Folly?

So, too, today, as it has often been throughout history, as long as all you seek is “freedom of worship,” you don’t have much to fear from most governments. You can do whatever elaborate rituals you want inside the walls of your private temple or church. It’s when what you do starts to spill out into the public square, like a fountain of water overflowing its basin, that the overlords get concerned. As long as one’s “religion” is purely otherworldly, most people don’t care whether you worship Zeus or Yahweh or the god of balloon animals.

Modern newspapers that speak out against the moral teachings of the Catholic Church and exhort the government to keep firm the “wall of separation between church and state” have no trouble publishing daily horoscopes, even though belief in astrology is a distinct religious belief, because they know what we all sense: namely, that people who read horoscopes and even those who take them seriously pose no threat at all to the government. Horoscopes have no moral content, which is why they can’t possibly be a threat to anyone in power, no matter how evil. This is also why rarely does anyone ever get persecuted for engaging in astrology. It’s considered “safe.” It’s harmless foolishness.

A religion that says that all laws and executive actions of the government must be judged against a higher standard or authority; that any laws found wanting in this regard are to be resisted; and that “faithful citizenship” is to be judged precisely by one’s resisting the government in this way, now that is dangerous. Such religions rarely escape persecution for long.

(source: Martyrdom Then and Now)

Answers to a Survey on the Family–part 13

In early 2015, our Archdiocese like many others was offered a 47-question open-ended survey in order to gather information about what people throughout the world understand about the Church’s teaching, her pastoral practice, current conditions, and the reality of marriage and family life.  The survey was probably a poor translation, and the questions were ill-structured, so I ended up writing about 15,500 words in the one week window for completing it.  I have chosen to share a few of these, here, as well, for your comments.  I will quote the question, and what follows is my answer.  I have edited the answers slightly for brevity, politeness, and clarity.

Several questions with shorter answers this time; by this point, many of my answers had already been mostly given in other parts of the survey.

25. Are people aware that the rapid evolution in society requires a constant attention to language in pastoral communication. How can an effective testimony be given to the priority of grace in a way that family life is conceived and lived as welcoming the Holy Spirit?

People are aware that “the rapid evolution in society requires a constant attention to language in pastoral communication” is the sort of language we are constantly offered, these days: whether people think those words mean anything, or whether they know what if anything they mean, is a question that one would need “attention to language in pastoral communication” to answer. As a scholar of literary theory and a teacher of rhetoric, let me say simply that “rapid evolution in society” has not resulted in any changes in human being; it has only led to “constant attention” to the lack of clarity about essences which bedevils any self-authorizing human discourse. Or still more simply, that we only feel compelled to change our terms constantly when social pressure seems more real to us than the realities we are discussing.

I have no idea what the second sentence of this “question” has to do with the first. I also have no clear idea what that sentence could possibly mean. Perhaps we could begin “constant attention to language in pastoral communication” with speaking plain English.

32. The pastoral accompaniment of couples in the initial years of family life — as observed in synodal discussion — needs further development. What are the most significant initiatives already being undertaken? What elements need further development in parishes, dioceses or associations and movements?

NFP training is gradually increasing its profile, but needs to be more clearly integrated into total marriage preparation and enrichment. Efforts to support marriage in prominent movements such as Retrouvaille require identifying a marriage as “troubled” first, which makes it unlikely that couples who want to grow but do not face a crisis will pursue them. Resources for faithful couples who want training and help with practical problems must be greatly multiplied, and the best way to do that is family-to-family with a priority on training in families at all levels. See above.

33. What criteria in a proper pastoral discernment of individual situations are being considered in light the Church’s teaching in which the primary elements of marriage are unity, indissolubility and openness to life?

What I see generally is a tension between proclamation-as-ideal and reality-as-compromise. If we proclaim the reality, we ought to be able to teach how to conform what is mistakenly, ignorantly, or rebelliously mistaken for truth to the truth about reality. If we begin from the assumption that we cannot do so, we will certainly fail to do so. See above.

39. With regard to the divorced and remarried, pastoral practice concerning the sacraments needs to be further studied, including assessment of the Orthodox practice and taking into account “the distinction between an objective sinful situation and extenuating circumstances” (n. 52). What are the prospects in such a case? What is possible? What suggestions can be offered to resolve forms of undue or unnecessary impediments?

This has been extensively discussed already, and really does not need further study. See the work of Walter Cardinal Brandmüller; Raymond Cardinal Burke; Carlo Cardinal Caffarra; Velasio Cardinal De Paolis, C.S.; Robert Dodaro, O.S.A.; Paul Mankowski, S.J.; Gerhard Cardinal Müller; John M. Rist; and Archbishop Cyril Vasil’, S.J. in Remaining In The Truth Of Christ. As to how to help resolve such situations, See Above.

Just a Refresher

Among the initiatives necessary to strengthen more and more is family pastoral ministry, in the face of the serious social problems that afflict it: the difficult economic situation, emigration, domestic violence, unemployment, drug trafficking, corruption. These are realities that are cause for concern.

Allow me to draw your attention to the value and beauty of marriage. The complementarity of man and woman, the vertex of the divine creation, is being questioned by gender ideology, in the name of a freer and more just society. The difference between man and woman is not meant to stand in opposition, or to subordinate, but is for the sake of communion and generation, always “in the image and likeness of God.”

Without mutual self-giving, the two cannot even understand the depth of what it means to be man and woman. (General Audience April 15, 2015) The sacrament of marriage is a sign of the love of God for humanity and Christ’s self-giving to his Spouse, the Church. Take care of this treasure, one of the “most important of the Latin American and Caribbean peoples.” (Aparecida, 433)

(source: Pope Francis: Men and women are different for a reason :: Catholic News Agency (CNA))

Positive Role Models

What kind of strange doctrine do we have here? A boy needs a mother, his mother?

Joe Rantz had one girl friend in his youth. He married her the day both of them graduated from the University of Washington. Joe’s wife Joyce, who had a hand in bring up his own half-siblings, was a devoted wife. This is how Brown describes her:

Over the years, Joe and Joyce raised five children – Fred, Judy, Jerry, Barb, and Jenny. In all these years, Joyce never forgot what Joe had gone through in his early years, and she never wavered from a vow she had made to herself early in their relationship: come what may, she would make sure that he never went through anything like it again, would never again be abandoned, would always have a warm and loving home.

Joyce died before Joe. In his old age and death, Joe is looked after by his children.

“The next culture war?” Man, wife, fidelity, vows, work, children, home, glory – these are the things we have been destroying, the things that men and women, boys and girls, want most, if they want anything at all, except for this one thing. Why, Chesterton asked, are we “home-sick at home?” If “the boys in the boat” teach us anything, it is that to be what we are, we must know, in experience or in hope, what a home is – father, mother, their children. Transcendence passes through the home.

(source: On the Boys in the Boat – The Catholic ThingThe Catholic Thing)

Benedict Option Misnamed

From a Facebook conversation:

Reading Zmirak is often like getting punched in the face while trying to determine whether inference C follows from premise A on any B you’re willing to accept, but he has stated more clearly than I have seen yet what I consider to be the fatal flaw of the “Benedict Option” as stated: that it seems to confuse the consequential public realities of monastic and marital vocations for lay people.

That mystical ex-hermit [St. Benedict] never tried to organize laymen, but monks—men who could live and work together only because they took vows of celibacy, poverty, and obedience. Benedict drafted his famous Rule to teach monks how better to obey these particular, difficult vows. Married people make very different promises. They don’t obey an abbot but are subject to each other. They’re called to be fertile, not celibate; thrifty and prudent, not poor. The proper bourgeois virtues of responsible Christian parents are almost the diametrical opposite of monastic communalism. Most historical attempts to found such communities among married couples have ended in farce or disaster.

I think I have repeatedly stated that I think something *like* what Dreher and others seek must be in our minds, but “neighborhood” is really quite different than monastic fraternity, and will invariably call for societies with different formal principles and different kinds of civic engagement. What those neighborhoods look like, and what sorts of guilds, land use agreements, sharing programs, and alternatives to corrupt civic institutions we will need to have them, is the problem for today.
(source: Reading Zmirak is often like getting punched in… – Peter Gordon Epps)

Not Obvious, but Real Nonetheless

I think this is a very important paragraph.  I don’t have a lot to add to it, except to point out that what is writ large in the StemExpress bulk human parts industry, part of the Planned Parenthood murder-for-hire profit chain, is writ small in every door in the country with “Human Resources” printed on it.  You have to oppose loudly the bright-line cases; and you should work consistently to reform the fine-line cases, as well.  

Human beings are not lumps of labor. They are not capital, consumer goods, taxpayers, commodities — or meat. The philosophy of Planned Parenthood (and Eros is a jealous god) is the philosophy of men-as-meat, and that philosophy is not long compatible with liberty and human dignity. When Erich Fromm wrote his famous book on the dream of religion without deity, he titled it “You Shall Be as Gods.” The truth is that without an understanding of the uniqueness of human beings and the consequent value of every human life, you will not be as gods — you will be as meat.

(source: Planned Parenthood’s Body-Part Bonanza | National Review Online)

So pray the St. Michael against the demonism evident in the cool-headed murder-for-hire of Planned Parenthood.  And try ignoring the “Self-checkout” and mentioning your conviction that a big-box store can find space in its budget to hire some local workers, for a small start on the rest of the problem.

It matters more than you know that you habitually see these patterns, and resist them.

Answers to a Survey on the Family–part 12

In early 2015, our Archdiocese like many others was offered a 47-question open-ended survey in order to gather information about what people throughout the world understand about the Church’s teaching, her pastoral practice, current conditions, and the reality of marriage and family life.  The survey was probably a poor translation, and the questions were ill-structured, so I ended up writing about 15,500 words in the one week window for completing it.  I have chosen to share a few of these, here, as well, for your comments.  I will quote the question, and what follows is my answer.  I have edited the answers slightly for brevity, politeness, and clarity.

23. What can be done so that persons in the various forms of union between a man and a woman — in which human values can be present — might experience a sense of respect, trust and encouragement to grow in the Church’s good will and be helped to arrive at the fulness of Christian marriage? (cf. n. 25)

“Various forms of union between a man and a woman” are confusingly lumped together in the referenced paragraph, in a manner which makes “forms of union” tendentiously multivalent: in some cases, no “forms” in the colloquial sense of rites or observances are in evidence, and the “formal principle” of the coupling involves nothing which is essentially unifying. While there may be some aspiration beyond mere porneia in such couplings, there is nothing properly called a “union.” In other cases, what we sometimes call “common law marriage,” the unifying essence of natural marriage is ostensibly and perhaps actually achieved while the “forms” remain defective. Indeed, although the Church does not normally countenance this for very good reasons, someone might have a real natural marriage as well as celebrating the Sacrament of Matrimony while the civil “forms” of marriage remain defective (moreover, in much of the world today, we would have to call “civil marriage” itself severely defective with regard to the “forms” of marriage, given the atomizing effects of individualistic property laws, divorce laws, and many other innovations against the proper civil effects of natural marriage).

In still other cases, people have observed some “form” and announce themselves as having a “union,” when in fact the nature of the “union” remains at best uncertain because the form observed was radically inappropriate to the uses of natural marriage. A local priest recently attempted marriage, and despite having a civil certificate issued, we may be sure that in fact no marriage occurred—no natural marriage, no Sacrament of Matrimony, and therefore nothing properly called “marriage” regardless of civil legal fictions. Similarly, there are those who are not capable of marriage in other ways who attempt or simulate marriage for a variety of reasons—from political propaganda to genuine longing for family life, for example—and who have no natural marriage and are incapable of celebrating the Sacrament of Matrimony, who are not able to minister those graces to the Church and who have therefore not received from God the means and strength do do so, regardless of what “forms” they may have used, including civil legal fictions which cannot be regarded as having any just effects (though, just as civil “forms” of marriage are often defective with regard to the civil effects of natural marriage, they are also often defective in assigning legal effects to things not capable of being called marriage). In some cases, this is the state of those who are plainly married, having had an acknowledged ratum et consummatum bond and an inappropriate civil divorce.

In other cases, however, there is genuine and ongoing confusion about the nature of what seems to be a “union,” often ratified by some civil “form,” often called “marriage” without clarity about the meaning of the term. Those who are living “at common law” but represent themselves as married, rear children, and then encounter the civil and ecclesial dimensions of marriage, for example, may either discover that they have a natural marriage which requires certain “forms” that have been defective and which guarantee their capacity to serve as ministers of the Sacrament of Matrimony among the People of God, or discover that they ought to be married in order to make a true “union” out of their coupling, and by so doing to begin to heal damage they have done to each other, their children, and their neighbors. In both cases, most of the “forms” will look the same, but the underlying recognition—and the Confession and healing Penance, or the washing away of sins in Baptism—will be crucial to the spiritual wellbeing of all concerned (which can never be the couple alone; it is impossible for marriage to affect only two people). What is important, though, is that by being taught the difference between natural marriage and even the most harmonious illicit coupling, the couple are enabled to recognize their marriage, whether already subsisting or inchoate in “time of ignorance,” for what it really is and must be. They are then able to choose marriage; the essential conversion that is at the heart of the Sacrament of Matrimony, the conversion of concupiscence to chastity within a truly charitable bond, will take place. No amount of trying to “help” the man, the woman, or the children will be truly fruitful unless it addresses them in their integrity, that is, as what either is our ought to be a family formed by marriage.

And what has been true in these cases is still true when we come to the most difficult cases, in which confusion is most likely—and often most chargeable to sloppy teaching within the Church. The case of baptized people who attempt marriage in civil “forms” without consenting to the Sacrament of Matrimony as offered by the Church is a particularly difficult one, because it is hard to explain with precision whether rebellion and ignorance produce the same result with regard to actual “union”—and what happens when they rectify the error. Are those baptized who simply refuse canonical form simply unmarried, regardless of their assertion and any civil recognition? Or are they naturally married, but in disobedience and therefore still separated from communion? Would it be different if their failure to observe canonical form were the result of invincible ignorance or wicked pastoral counsel? In either of these cases, is convalidation simply supplying form to an underlying natural marriage, thus assuring all concerned that the sacramental character has indeed been conveyed to that marriage? Or does what would otherwise not in fact be a natural marriage become a marriage once the baptized have received convalidation of their marriage in the Church? Doubts about this, enlarged by the increasingly defective “forms” of civil recognition of marriage, made severe by wicked priestly advice and “gaming” of the ambiguities, and perpetuated by sloppy or wrongheaded instruction from many who should be teachers among us, not only reduce the incentive for all Christians couples to minister the Sacrament of Matrimony properly within the Church but also make it hard to avoid charges of artificiality. We need the Church to clarify and renew this discipline, possibly even altering some regulations concerning canonical form, so that the reality—natural marriage as definitively characterized in the Sacrament of Matrimony—may not be confused with legal fictions which subvert proper civil recognition of marriage, on the one hand, and vague, unmotivated, or misguided pedagogy of marriage within the Church, on the other.

Finally, there is only one additional layer to the problem in the matter of those who have received a civil divorce and claim to be married to another person, and have observed some civil “forms” that assert these. Unlike other cases in which a claim of marriage is made, and which may be backed by some civil “form” that claims to recognize a marriage, in the case of divorce there is not only a man and a woman, plus any children, plus a neighborhood to be considered—there is also another man or woman, possibly other children, and possibly complications in more than one neighborhood. No decision about marriage affects only one individual, or only one man and one woman; but decisions about attempted marriages after divorce are always by definition decisions about other marriages (or putative marriages). It is therefore only slightly more difficult, but orders of magnitude more important, to speak clearly about the presence or absence of real natural marriages, as definitively characterized in the Sacrament of Matrimony, among those who claim to have dissolved or contracted marriages in such circumstances.

Nothing will benefit those who need “respect, trust, and encouragement” more than being treated as those with the dignity and competence to hear truth about reality clearly and honestly spoken, to be approached as those who might be trusted with the ministry of the Sacrament of Matrimony—the very mystery of Christ’s love for His Church!—and welcomed to the neighborhood of families who model the sharing and service that grows from that sacrament. In the case of those who cannot be reconciled to a true spouse, and cannot be separated from one who is not a spouse, it is vital that their state be clarified as altogether different from marriage. The help of neighborhood could alleviate the demands that might make a separation impossible; it would certainly help to provide models of family to children who must learn that civil divorce alone cannot end natural marriage (though it may mark the admitted nullity of an attempted marriage), and that the couple caring for them are not husband and wife. Families living hospitably and sharing each other’s daily life would also lessen much moral hazard and scandal in the situation, as it will be harder to hide in ambiguity and easier for all to tell that the couple are not living as though they were husband and wife. In that situation, lapses should be less frequent—and easier to repent without seeming to recurrently call into question the entire situation (though the situation should be subject to occasional reassessment). Finally, as these advantages of mutual care, proper models and clear distinction concerning marriage, and reduced moral hazard and scandal are realized, it will also be the case that there will eventually remain no reason for the couple to continue to share a household.

Working toward this goal in a heavily overlapping neighborhood of hospitable, generous, faithful families—who intentionally include singles, celibates, and others in their ministry to the Body of Christ—should reliably produce better results than attempting to proclaim the truth about marriage while excusing every kind of breach as “only human” and then attempting to make compromises between discipline and the myriad of claims people will make about cases. When we refuse to make the effort to direct families toward mutual support and encourage them to make and to model clear distinctions about marriage because we are afraid to tell couples in complicated pseudo-marriage or putative marriage situations that our eventual goal is to remove any obstacles to their true marriage or definite separation, we fail them. We either lie to them or, what is no better from a pastoral perspective, we tell them that we do not respect them enough to tell them the truth; that we do not trust them enough to ask difficult things of them; and that we despair of their ever being brought into full conformity with Christ. To do so is pastoral malpractice, and should lead us to tears of repentance.

Who Could Stand?

Out of my nature has come wild despair; an abandonment to grief that was piteous even to look at; terrible and impotent rage; bitterness and scorn; anguish that wept aloud; misery that could find no voice; sorrow that was dumb.  I have passed through every possible mood of suffering.

Better than Wordsworth himself I know what Wordsworth meant when he said—

‘Suffering is permanent, obscure, and dark
And has the nature of infinity.’

But while there were times when I rejoiced in the idea that my sufferings were to be endless, I could not bear them to be without meaning.  Now I find hidden somewhere away in my nature something that tells me that nothing in the whole world is meaningless, and suffering least of all.  That something hidden away in my nature, like a treasure in a field, is Humility.

It is the last thing left in me, and the best: the ultimate discovery at which I have arrived, the starting-point for a fresh development.  It has come to me right out of myself, so I know that it has come at the proper time.  It could not have come before, nor later.  Had any one told me of it, I would have rejected it.  Had it been brought to me, I would have refused it.  As I found it, I want to keep it.  I must do so.  It is the one thing that has in it the elements of life, of a new life, Vita Nuova for me.  Of all things it is the strangest.  One cannot acquire it, except by surrendering everything that one has.  It is only when one has lost all things, that one knows that one possesses it.

(source: De Profundis)

Answers to a Survey on the Family–part 11

In early 2015, our Archdiocese like many others was offered a 47-question open-ended survey in order to gather information about what people throughout the world understand about the Church’s teaching, her pastoral practice, current conditions, and the reality of marriage and family life.  The survey was probably a poor translation, and the questions were ill-structured, so I ended up writing about 15,500 words in the one week window for completing it.  I have chosen to share a few of these, here, as well, for your comments.  I will quote the question, and what follows is my answer.  I have edited the answers slightly for brevity, politeness, and clarity.

22. In the case of those who have not yet arrived at a full understanding of the gift of Christ’s love, how can the faithful express a friendly attitude and offer trustworthy guidance without failing to proclaim the demands of the Gospel? (cf. n. 24)

It is inconceivable that we could understand friendship or be “trustworthy” if we failed to proclaim the Gospel, and it is in the Gospel that we learn of God’s gracious provision for our healing—a healing which demands, first, that we know we are sick; a sickness that is sin, the destruction of our cooperative union with the Creator who sustains life within and around us. To affirm that there is any actual tension between “friendly attitude” and “trustworthy guidance” and “to proclaim … the Gospel” would be to believe the Satanic lie that stands in opposition to the Gospel, the ancient serpent’s lie to Eve.

We do seem to experience a tension, though, that derives from several sources: our immaturity and insecurity in friendship; our lack of confidence, or rank unbelief, in the Gospel; our intellectual incapacity to articulate the truth about friendship, charity, and Gospel in the face of cultural misconceptions and even poor teaching in the Church that presumes the real existence of such a tension. The last is the most serious, as it tends to enforce and perpetuate the nominal existence of this banal error.

With regard to the first, or most common, cause of the delusion that cultivation of amity and ethos is at tension with sharing the Gospel clearly and adequately, we must help people to develop mature friendships and surround them with a neighborhood in which such friendships are normal. Having become secure in such friendship, a person will recognize that in a situation where a tension between the Gospel and the ease of friendship seems to exist, it is not of the nature of real friendship or true Gospel that such a tension exist. It will then be a matter of justice to determine what is due in that situation, to be surmounted with a charity which seeks to creatively infuse the situation with goodness and truth. Does a friend seem to feel “attacked” whenever the Father’s gender is brought up? The friend can still enjoy lunch with a friend, and can still be encouraged to think about what role a Creator would play in the lives and loves of [His] creatures. If that friend insists that continued friendship hinges on one’s denial of the Father’s paternity or the Son’s essential masculinity, however, then that insistence is unjust; charity demands equally that one show care for that friend in appropriate ways and that one refuse to deny the truth that alone can truly help that friend.

One cannot move forward in charity by destroying the ground of charity; such an act is not the act of a friend. The general good of “friendliness,” or affability, itself a form of justice, is to be cultivated; but it is less than charity, and must be overruled by the gracious work of God that makes us bold witness of a healing Truth. As the Ox says,

Because man is a social animal he owes his fellow-man, in equity, the manifestation of truth without which human society could not last. Now as man could not live in society without truth, so likewise, not without joy, because, as the Philosopher says (Ethic. viii), no one could abide a day with the sad nor with the joyless. Therefore, a certain natural equity obliges a man to live agreeably with his fellow-men; unless some reason should oblige him to sadden them for their good. (II.II.114.2)

With regard to the second cause of this sad misconception, we often doubt that we can help friends by risking their friendship in the service of the healing Truth because we ourselves are wounded by disbelief and despair, whether we succumb to those wounds or bear them. This challenge, too, is best met by surrounding the faithful with a neighborhood where faithful friendships are normal. However, to this we must superadd the more essential step of boldy, forthrightly, without fallacious and equivocal faux-intellectual nuancing or pandering to secular cultural impositions, proclaiming the Gospel as we have received it: in Christ’s Passion and Resurrection, in the dominical sayings, in the whole of the Book of the Gospel and the whole of the Scriptures, in the dogmatic definitions of the Church, in the utterances of her Fathers and Doctors, in the concomitance of the whole of Sacred Tradition that bespeaks the sense that those who are faithful do indeed have of the faith.

Sociological totalitarianism and merely majoritarian accounts of reality, alike, fail to address the real core of human desire for and aversion to God, and have as their first move a dismissal of the “democracy of the dead” and the divine Authorship of the whole of Creation with particular privilege for the signature works of Redemption. When doubt and disbelief are trumpeted from the highest reaches of the Church, you may surely expected that the Church militant is struggling within itself more than contending with the “principalities, powers, thrones, and dominions”; we know that “the whole world is under the power of the evil one,” but depend on those proclaiming the Gospel for the spiritual strength to witness confidently to its truth.

And the last is an educational matter: without real hermeneutical resources that proceed, as the Gospel does, “from faith to faith,” not only the faithful but also their teachers are left to respond incoherently to the chaos and confusion of dominant popular thought. When the Magisterium sounds like a gabbling talk show, how are the faithful to respond to the accusatory and indistinct challenges they are posed by their culture? We must know how to unfold the riches of Scripture accurately and without alienating and fragmenting compromises with hostile theories of truth, history, and literacy; we must know how to make the elementary distinctions of category and causality that will help us to answer cultural questions usefully, rather than to slip into the web of lies posed as either/or choices about merely nominal essences. Unfortunately, neither our ecclesial leadership nor (still less!) our educational models are well suited to teaching us these necessary intellectual virtues. This must be rectified.

Anticipating Sunday’s Psalm, and more

Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
Faithfulness will spring up from the ground,
and righteousness will look down from the sky.
Yea, the Lord will give what is good,
and our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness will go before him,
and make his footsteps a way.

(source: Psalm 85 RSVCE)

But read the whole thing.

Ravenous Beatitude

Another interesting interesting Facebook conversation:

Well, to “hunger and thirst for justice”–to be like Job, or the importunate woman, or Jacob at Mamre, bashing at all hours on doors human and divine, and wrestling with God until He does something to make it right, is a thing that Jesus tells us makes us happy. After all, which is better: to choke down wrongs, or worse to actually collaborate in them, or to bear witness boldly?

I think of last Sunday’s readings, where the Lord told Ezekiel,

But you shall say to them: Thus says the Lord GOD!
And whether they heed or resist—for they are a rebellious house—
they shall know that a prophet has been among them.

…the hard thing, the really *HARD* thing, is to hold this ravening after God’s “setting it right” in the place Jesus gave it among these important “Just so you know, this is what it looks like when it’s working” statements.

We discover, and do not deny, that we are incredibly broken and needy and empty; we trust God to deal with it, and live with what we’re sure He’s given, rather than what we think we might have a right to take; we love Him and other people, and even the life He’s given us, enough to grieve deeply for the suffering of this life; and in that poverty, meekness, and mourning, we become hungry and thirsty, and cry out to God (“O that thou wouldst rend the heavens, and come down!”  “How long, O Lord?”).

And in our cries for justice, which are part of the happy and blessed way of Christian life, we who are poor and broken, meek and circumspect, mourning and seeking hope, starving for justice and demanding that things be set right, cannot help being driven back to our own need for mercy–our own unpayable debt needing forgiven, Continue reading »

Even Great Ideas Look Moronic When Enacted on False Premises

I’ve previously pointed out the ludicrous way that a totalitarian ideology devoted to the “liberating” of autonomous individuals from all bonds except the regime’s ends up re-inventing necessary institutions in truncated, intrusive, grotesque forms that are worse than the caricatures with which the real institutions were lampooned by the “liberators.”  Well, the circle keeps closing!

Lo, the kit for formally giving consent–a mini-wedding, perfect for short-sighted and ill-considered efforts to enjoy the bond of a lifetime briefly and pointlessly, and for lawyering away the inevitable regret and recrimination!

All you have to do is immortalize yourself with your fling-of-the-moment on camera:

If no camera is available, students are encouraged to fill out the form on the back of the contract which states, “On this date [fill in the blank], we agree to have consensual sex with one another” followed by a space for students’ printed names and signatures.

The kit also also includes breath mints and a condom.

(source: Affirmative Consent Contract — Fill Out Before Sex)

A camera, a certificate, a breath mint, and a condom–no receiving line, no fusty toasts, nothing but “down to business”–and you’re off on your honeymoon!  And who cares what happens when the honeymoon’s over, really?

Really, folks, it’s nice that someone recognizes the need for formalized consent where life-changing realities are in play.  Next time, why not a consent which is not also premised on the denial that these are realities that are life-changing?!