Thursday, December 18, 2014

I'm Not Mad. Really.

I don't know what buffoonish person decided that you must be mad if you answer a simple question in writing or text with "Yes." but it's crazy. I'm not even comfortable ending a text without punctuation. I'm just not. If you ask me a yes/no question, you're going to get a yes/no answer, and probably with a period. I would feel weird putting an exclamation point there; am I excited? Are we laughing? I don't use smileys, either, unless I mean it. I shouldn't have to, to communicate a modicum of goodwill.

Anyway, tell you what: anybody reading this, if you get a one-word text with a period, that period means, "I love you very much, and I'm so happy that you took the time to ask me that question! I'm looking forward to the next time we meet! In person!" It seems a bit melodramatic, but actually, that's a lot closer to the reality than, "I'm angry and seething; I shall communicate my dislike with this period." Seriously, who decided that?

Not me. Thanks for reading. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Let's Cut It With The "Fallen World" BS

It's certainly true that the world is imperfect in some way. We are imperfect in some way, and we know it even before we spend any time analyzing this or that moral situation. So I do not intend to say that we should deny original sin, or our inclination toward evil. The creation groans in expectation for the sons of God to be revealed, says St. Paul.

What really irritates me is when this phrase is deployed when grievous, avoidable, culpable human sin is present. We should say, "That is wickedness," or, "I have done evil, when I had it within my power to do otherwise, by God's gracious help." I don't know if some of you are in the grip of some determinism that disallows blaming the actual people responsible, but it bugs me.

I don't ever want to be so Christian that I talk and think like an insane person. Feel free to lament the fallen world when a young kid who hasn't even learned to ride a bike gets cancer, or a young woman dies before she becomes a mom. That's worth asking God, "Why?" Short of that, we know why: someone actually did something, and it's fruitless to blame God when the truth is plain. If that makes me too much of a Jesuit, or something worse, fine.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Just Shut Up, And Let St. Edmund Campion Talk

Seriously, where has this guy been all my life? Every convert will luck into a few of these, but I'm not gifted like him to present them so clearly. Joe is OK, too.

5 Thoughts For Today

5. Go Cards! [Baseball won't start for awhile.--ed.] Doesn't matter. WOOOO!

4. Thanks a bunch, Ireland. [He's Catholic now.--ed.] Chortle. True story.

3. I'll tell you why. Because R. Kelly is "ghetto." He was never quite acceptable to white people. The most racist thing is this right here: They/we don't expect better. The Cosby thing hurts, because he is like us. He gave us white people exactly what we wanted, in the very deepest recesses of our Lincoln-loving, paternalist souls: the ideal Black man. We could love him without cost, like an entertainer MLK. Man, it's hard to write that. But it's true.

2. Then again, I doubt Ali is any less beloved, though he was about as "unacceptable" at certain points as anybody. Liberal revisionism that worked, for once? Who knows?

1. If Will Smith does something heinous, I might curl into the fetal position and sob, with the rest of White America. Sigh.

Sunday, December 14, 2014


As you may or may not know, this is a plural imperative. In the Southern, then, it is "Y'all rejoice!" I think we all know things that aren't occasions for joy. Yet, this is a day for mercy, and therefore, joy. Mercy consists in this: we have not only pardon for sin, but the abiding invitation to be drawn ever more deeply into the life of the Blessed Trinity. While we cast aside what is common for what is eternal, we find the joy that is the promise of Heaven.

Friday, December 05, 2014

I'm Trying

If you're reading this blog, you know that I have a social media presence. Maybe it's vanity, and maybe those who say discussions in those places aren't helpful are right. Fair enough. I've always liked them, and as long as I have the time, I don't plan on stopping. Yet I notice that the public at large doesn't like grey anything. People--whether the media, corporations, political parties, you name it--put you in a camp, and they expect you to stay there. The drug of choice is a false dichotomy.

It's no secret that I'm a passionate guy, with many strong opinions on everything. But I find this intellectual challenge welling up inside to find the truth, even if I have to refrain from speaking to do it. Saying there is grey when others see only black and white isn't to say there is no truth; it is to say that it may take more time and effort than some people are comfortable with to find it.

I'm 34 years old. My days of being a "prophet" are numbered, if not over. The little flecks of grey appearing at the back of my head tell me that a new task is at hand: teach those after me how to think, how to acquire new information, and how to argue cogently (and sanely).

Most people don't think today; they feel. They react. It doesn't matter what "team" they play for; everyone does it. Frankly, I would like to go an entire 2 minutes without being prodded to feel outraged about something. The Duggars. Obama. Cops. Criminals. The gay agenda. Take your pick. Is anyone else just kind of tired?

We're talking about de-escalation. We need it. Not just for a breather, but to find truth. To find what's more important. Goodness takes longer than evil; evil strikes like lightning. How many tragic stories have a, "Next thing you know"? All of them?

Next time you decide not to say or write the first thing you feel, think that you may have struck a blow for the good. Love moves slow.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Fred Says Things Better, Again

I should just admit it. Recall, the Noltie Conundrum only works in a world where God supernaturally reveals things. It works as a dilemma because it demonstrates what legitimate epistemic doubt does to the ability to hold a supernaturally revealed truth x. It relies on the fact that one horn of the dilemma is completely unacceptable for the Christian: that God could err, or lie.

I also thought it was interesting, as I felt the force of it, that it relies essentially on love and goodwill to make the point. It's easy to take the other door, to simply say that Johnny Methodist isn't smart or saved; it's a great deal more fruitful to wonder if Sola Scriptura is the way God intended us to know the faith. (No, in case you're wondering.)

Every serious theological school has a Captain Jack; this backdoor appeal to expertise dies a quick death, upon reflection. At least it did for me.

Maybe the other door out would have been atheism or an existential agnosticism, but for the fact that Christian truth had existed prior to anyone influentially arguing for a change not only in doctrine, but in methodology. Aside from variances caused by later ecclesiological and theological commitments, Christians do agree on some things. It seemed wise to inquire at the basis for that consensus. To seek full communion with the Catholic Church is to recognize that the gospel itself requires a change not only in the content of what I profess, but the bases of my profession, and my horizontal relationship to those who profess it with me.

The Longest Confession Line Ever (And The Virtue Of Patience)

It wasn't that hard, really. I couldn't help but notice, though. That got me thinking. Firstly, this isn't the first time I've waited an hour, at least. I wonder what God is trying to say?

Secondly, I was acutely aware that there was no way I was leaving this line, unless the priest gave up and ran away. Even then, I can't guarantee I wouldn't pester him like I was the persistent widow. That's just how these things go. That's all you need to know about whether we believe all that sacramental stuff. Yes, man!

Thirdly, it helped me shake the dust off my mental feet regarding this Latin American Reformed guy who was arguing with me about the sacraments some weeks ago. I guess I was supposed to feel bad that mother Church teaches that attrition, or fear of the punishment of hell, is sufficient to obtain the grace of absolution. I just kept thinking, Dude, if I sat around worrying about whether I felt sorry enough, or the right kind of sorry, I would die of paralysis and terror. Let's just say that I would have to have reached a level of self-deception heretofore yet reached (thank God) to say that my sins are not sins, or that I desire steadfastly to remain in them. Make of that what you will. He apparently missed the incongruity of claiming that the sacramental ministrations of the Catholic Church are too easy to obtain and benefit from, whilst also claiming that the whole system is an unholy abrogation of the free grace of God in Christ! Pardon me while I enjoy this for a second.

Fourthly, I definitely had this song in my head. I blame Nicole DeMille, in case you are wondering. In other news, how adorable is KT Tunstall? I never actually liked that hit song of hers, about a black horse and a cherry tree, but I could get over it. [Maybe you should just marry a Scottish girl who plays the xylophone.--ed.] That's uncomfortably specific, no? I don't think God cares about that stuff. Whatever it means for immutable Perfection to laugh, I always picture God giggling at my plans, like those evangelical posters that make you feel bad for having plans and dreams. That all probably means I'm wrong about that.

Fifthly, once I got there, Fr. made sure to say--right as we were about to part--that God loves me, sin or no sin, and that He never stops. I think this makes people uncomfortable, because we really are practically as Pelagian as a good Baptist thinks we are, half the time. I actually don't think that an outbreak of "God Is Love" is the cause of all the wickedness in the world. I think our hearts are too small. It can be hard to grasp, for example, if "God" means, "my stern father" and "Love" means, "whatever I hope to find from that guy or girl who promises the world, that I don't really trust". I digress.

Stew on that, if you like.