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Monday, September 18, 2017

Is God Trying To Reach Lady Gaga?

Yes, man! God is real, you know. "Jesus Loves You" isn't just a bumper sticker. I think a lot of people think God only loves people when they aren't sinners anymore. It's true that God loves a righteous person more, and it is also true that we may grow in both justification and sanctification. It is also true that God is the great unchanging force of love. "What is received is received according to the mode of the receiver." As we grow in obedience to God, we are better able to understand and reflect His love.

I have always sensed that her heart wasn't truly in this Sexual Revolution stuff. Oh, she's tried it, like many of us. But she carries the scars. I also think many people are "affirming," not because they don't know the truth about who we are, but because they think it's the only way to be people-affirming.

If you hang around people in bars, you figure out they have a lot of regrets, but above all, they don't want to be alone. They've got an image of judgy church people, and they don't want to be like them.

I can remember when the video for "Alejandro" came out. I have only seen it once or twice. (Music videos can be used for good or ill, and it's been mostly ill, to be honest.) The dude from the Catholic League was scandalized, and probably rightly so. But he said she was a talentless hack or some such, and all I heard was, "Get off my lawn!" I know Jesus doesn't think she is a talentless hack.

Pray for our sister Stephanie. She's close to the Answer, I feel. He doesn't call her Lady Gaga.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Faith, Again

Faith sees things that can't be ordinarily seen, because it pertains to things beyond rational demonstration. Not contrary to things known by reason, but beyond; that is, above. I'm going to leave the philosophy to the experts, at this point.

But we should not be afraid of a theology of personal encounter. I don't have doubts, as people tend to think of them, because Jesus has spoken to me personally. The same Jesus who gives the divine gift of holiness to His Church. It had only remained for me to re-orient myself to the means by which supernatural revelation is known, viz. the Catholic Church. There was a time when I knew things supernatural without understanding how I knew them. And before reconciling to the Church, what I knew, I knew imperfectly.

Sooner or later, it has to come down to the fact that Jesus has come, died for our sins, and rose from the dead. There is much more "of faith" than this, but if you start here, it's very possible to end in the right place. It's a lot easier to frankly question Luther's doctrine of justification, knowing Jesus will not leave me or forsake me, to take one example. I can abandon any error, any mistake in reasoning, if Jesus commands me to do it.

"And I tell you that you are Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it."

If we fall in love, as it were, with a theological method of knowing Jesus--like Sola Scriptura--we could theoretically and actually abandon truths about God, in a false belief of being "biblical." The relentless and passionate biblicist who abandons faith in the Holy Trinity, because it's not found in the Scriptures (according to him) is a fine example. And as the Reformation rebellion goes longer, more and more things become "negotiable" that were not so a short time ago.

In the realm of sexual ethics, most of what we identify as traditional belongs to natural law. But it is telling that scads of "conservative" Protestants are using the Bible to uphold (perhaps unwittingly) a Catholic sexual ethic. As Sola Scriptura does its nasty work, it'll be harder and harder to hold the line. All the appeals to "history" will be dismissed as ad hoc, and rightly so. Because the theological meaning of history is the visible communion of the Catholic Church. An individualizing principle bites back hard, when faith and morality is falling apart.

Friday, September 08, 2017

On Pastoral Theology (Again)

Pastoral theology isn't just for pastors. Pastoral theology is the art and science of leading people to know, understand, and love God. It involves essentially "translating" the truths of the faith into language and experience that people understand. Sometimes, though, it involves sinners being sinners. We all know that correction and admonition can be part of that, but how do you actually speak the truth in love, in concrete situations?

If it is true that God has designed our sexuality in a particular way, such that any number of behaviors are contrary to His purpose by their very nature, I have to speak that truth at some point. Maybe not in 30 seconds. Maybe not upon meeting their loved ones for the first time. Maybe not. But if I never say it, if I don't hold out God's design and purpose as a goal, then I do not love them as God does, and for His sake.

But someone linked a story, obviously to provoke a reaction, of a "gay" couple bringing forward the gifts of bread and wine that would be used for the Eucharistic sacrifice. It will become the body and blood, soul and divinty, of Our Lord. Am I against that?

No. I want all wicked sinners to know and believe that they belong at Mass. You might not actually be worthy to receive Holy Communion. I've been there myself. But bringing the gifts is a great act of service to God and others. It's something praiseworthy that anyone should do, if they can.

I suppose another problem is that in most places, families bring the gifts. Well, true enough that we don't want to communicate that various arrangements are families when they aren't. But perhaps we should discourage the bringing of the gifts as principally a family activity. Just thinking out loud. I definitely want people to know that they are welcome, even if they are sinners. We all are, at one time or other.

But about Fr. James Martin, SJ: I find most things he says unclear, at best. At worst, from what I've seen, he distorts the teaching of the Church on human sexuality. I would never speak of "our LGBT brothers and sisters" and similar things, because I leave ordinary people with the impression that homosexuality is an acceptable part of a normal Christian life. Or that the Church will teach otherwise. She won't, because she can't. Father, you should know better, and I suspect you do.

If I encountered someone who was really emotionally harmed by Westboro Baptist Church or someone, I might be extra-gentle in presenting the topic. But it's not a time to be seeker-sensitive. Overall, I have not been in a place where Christian leaders were insensitive to good people who were struggling with sin. In fact, I see a much greater danger of Christians failing to speak the truth, or hold on to truths they know, because they are unpopular. Divorce, fornication, adultery, you name it. Someone somewhere is ready to excuse it, because it will cost them something to tell the truth.

It's absolutely true that God is Love. But actually, especially with God, it's OK to say, "Define your terms." It's the best thing I learned in school. You think at first you're being pedantic, but then you realize, "If we don't say what we mean, we won't know what we're doing."

If your child does drugs, it might feel good to say or do lots of things, but love wants, and wills, and goes toward what's best for another person. If you don't do that, it isn't love.

I don't find the Catechism hurtful or insensitive at all. Convicting, at times, perhaps. But I always return to the truth that God loves me, and He won't ever deceive me. "The Church teaches..." and "Jesus says..." are functionally equivalent. The Church's essential character is holiness, the perfect otherness that defines God's purity and perfection, not by nature, but by a divine gift.

So, you won't hear me whine about "the institutional Church," either. I digress.

Monday, July 24, 2017

I Am Not A Maniac

The truth is, before the accident, I was carefree. Getting hit by a car while "walking" was a running joke. It still is, it's just way darker now! Anyway, I get scared now. They tell me it will pass, and maybe it will, but frankly, I've had close calls since. I don't mean to scare you. People turn, and they don't look. Why would you not look? We have well-marked crosswalks here. I do check for turn signals on cars, but if you don't signal, you're going to kill someone. No, you can't sneak that quick turn in. Just don't.

And let's get something out in the open: when you see a person in a wheelchair on the street, you probably think, "How great to see a person with those challenges out and about!" I'm just walking. I have things to do; I don't have time to engage in pity parties, or your inspirational reverie. Point is, we're out here, there are a lot of us, and you need to look.

I live in a building with 80 other people, and maybe 60 of us are disabled. This is one building on one street, in a medium city. Pay attention. Your life can't be that busy. Killing someone in your car will slow it down.

Strangely enough, had I been a walking pedestrian, death might have been even more likely.

So, I'm not walking to Mass without an "AB" along (let the reader understand). I'd love to tell you that will be a temporary thing, but it's not the way I feel right now.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Playing The Hits

I went to Confession today, confessing things I've done before. The advice was the same, too. But God, as supreme Love, keeps no record of wrongs, either. I must give thanks for His priest, who embodies this spirit also. It was much like I had never gone there before.

Do we know the bounty of His love, or are we expecting to be endlessly whacked with a celestial clipboard, at best?

This is not to say we don't have doctrines and dogmas and so on. Too many think "love" cares nothing for these. But I invite you to consider this: if God indeed wills our salvation, as He says many times, then we ought never think God is against us. On the other hand, lest we think we have the power within us, we remember that every single movement toward God we have undertaken or will undertake is enabled by His grace. This is a great and holy mystery.

The encouragement we must draw is this: we acknowledge our sins without being sucked down by them. If we give up on ourselves, we paradoxically claim that our sins are greater than His grace! May it never be!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Don't Poke The Bear

I'm a bit testy today on social media. [Aren't you always testy?--ed.] Probably. I don't have hate-watch groups and "I got banned by Jason Kettinger!" clubs yet, though.

I just don't like traditionalists. I don't like them. I don't want to hear about the Latin Mass. I don't care. I've tried to care. I'm not a hippie; I just attend the Novus Ordo all the time, and I. Don't. Care.

I want the Holy Mass to be reverent, and according to the rubrics. But everything after that statement is the first step to dissent. I want no part of it. I understand that the pope is not routinely infallible; I also understand that many people feel the need to remind him of that. I'm sure his spiritual director has tons of work to do. Good. But you are not that guy. I digress.

I'm not always nice, or even charitable about it, if someone is talking about what I consider irrelevancies. I'd say I was sorry, but I am not. This is a rant. 

Monday, July 03, 2017

A Good Theologian

A good theologian repeats things others have said. I am definitely wary of anything that starts off, "You won't find this on Catholic Answers or EWTN..." You think you're too good for them? There's your problem. I'd love to have the impact they've had.

Cleverness is sometimes the enemy of the truth. You're not too good for the Catechism, either. Idiosyncratic theologians are generally bad theologians.

Don't reinvent the wheel, please.