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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Cheating

Performance-enhancing drugs are a crisis in sports. The American 7-time consecutive champion of the Tour de France, Lance Armstrong, has admitted doping, and the Tour had previously stripped him of the honors. His fall has been spectacular, considering that he is a cancer survivor. And there has been an entire career of lying, intimidation, and legal action against those who spoke out against him. He will not be forgiven for this. One of the targets of his wrath was American cycling legend Greg LeMond, who legitimately won the Tour in 1986, '89, and '90. Armstrong said that LeMond was jealous of his dominance. For a time, the fans of the sport believed this story. But now we can say that LeMond is (again) the greatest American cyclist of all time.

Some people may be bothered by my absolutist stance, and to pretend that 1999-2005 did not happen. But the greatness of sports is precisely this: that men and women, on the fields of play, within the rules fight to see who is the best. If it didn't matter, why is there a rule? Most of the arguments to let the cheating (or the betting) go in baseball boil down to, "Everybody does it." Didn't your mother ever teach you anything? Why is this OK? And there is a pile of mess for an argument that says, "Well, this is the 'era' we lived in." Horse-puckey. Not everyone cheats. Not even close. So it's patent nonsense to blame a guy for coming along in the alleged Steroids Era. That's what you amoral morons did to Biggio and Bagwell for the Hall Of Fame, and you deserve everlasting shame. If you want to ask me in an accusatory fashion whether Whitey Ford should be axed for spit-balls, or Gibson, or whoever...YES. Whether you like it or not, sports is a microcosm of real life. We overstate it, and idolize those who play games well, true. Fine. But do you think God is going to say, "I don't care about what you did and said"? Do we really want to say, "They aren't saints" and follow that to its logical conclusion? Be honest: When you found out Tiger Woods had committed serial adulteries against his devoted wife, was it easier or harder to appreciate him and his ability? So why are all these commentators even more permissive about rules broken in the games themselves? Does that even come close to making sense? People make a living at these games. If we wax eloquent about the man who puts in "an honest day's work," is it all that much to ask those who play sports for a living to do the same? Especially because we know they become famous, fabulously wealthy, and admired.

But I can't believe that the ones the chattering classes want to mock are the "moralists" and "absolutists." Well, yes, I am both of those things, and I don't feel bad about it. The glory of anything consists in its goodness, so our games--and our heroes--are not glorious if they are not good. Bare minimum goodness that fans have a right to ask is to play by the rules. Anything less cheapens the joy of watching sports in the first place.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Loss Of Dogma, And A Smile On The Way Down

Loss Of Dogma, And A Smile On The Way Down, Exhibit A: Isn't he pretty much admitting that it comes down to personal preference? Is this what we're left with? Why does "appreciation" entail, "Accepts your doctrinal distinctives without a fuss"? No one sees a problem here?

More questions: Does he know that Kung is a heretic, and that, at the least, von Balthasar, Rahner, and Kasper are wrong in what they teach? Does he care?

I hate to break it to you: If you're not Catholic, you are not in the Church. That was the whole point of Trent: to say that the Reformers needed to repent of their errors, and return. That's what heresy means. It does not mean you are an inhuman beast who has no value. It means you are intentionally and persistently at a variance with Catholic doctrine. The penalty of excommunication is meant to produce repentance, not defiance and badges of honor.

This makes people really mad. It upsets them. It makes them think the Catholic Church is pronouncing damnation on people, something it never does, actually. For me, to consider the possibility that I was a Christian not in Christ's Church was liberating. It allowed me to seek out the evidence and the definitions of such words, instead of making them up myself.

My previous definitions of such words: Heresy--Some wilfully evil dirt-bag who believes falsehood intentionally at the behest of Satan.

Church: All who believed in Jesus Christ, whatever that meant.

Schism--What is that, anyway? It sounds cool.

The inconsistency of my theological stance had been that I was not a theological relativist, but by necessity as a Protestant embraced an ecclesiology which leads to it as a consequence. Why? Because "what Scripture says" was defined by me, and my embrace or not of secondary authorities was also defined by me. My submission to ecclesiastical authorities was provisional, insofar as it agrees with Scripture, which of course, is defined by me, ultimately. Mr. Olson seems perfectly content with the relativism which is inherent in his ecclesiology; I am not. Nor should we be content with this, as Preslar notes. What if the truth is that Keith Mathison argued for Sola Scriptura as well as he could, but the emperor has no clothes?

1000 Posts!

It took me 10+ years to get here, but here we are! A few rants, articles, and lists later, it's 1000. I want to thank all of you who read me, and I'd like to thank the Academy, and James Cameron for such a well-written script... [James Cameron has never written a script well.--ed.]

It's Day 1 of the Week Of Christian Unity. [I want no unity with papists.--ed.] Well, too bad. We have much in common with our brethren. On the other hand, too many Protestants think that saying nice things about us alters what the Church has always believed: this is Christ's Church, that he founded.

We appreciate the appreciation, but unless you change the assumptions underlying your ecclesiology, nice words aside, you're still saying, "We're too Protestant to be Catholic," and that's no different than what the Reformers said. I'm looking in your irrational, emotive direction, Peter Leithart.

Still others of you haven't come to terms with the fact that Sola Scriptura reduces to subjectivism. Ecclesiastical authority and elaborate creedal dances and appeals to confessions are pointless if that authority is not ultimate. Terry Johnson knows; he's just not ready for The Answer yet. [Light of the World/Shine on me/Love is The Answer..."--ed.] Yeah, well, Mother Church is a big Love sandwich. [Except when it isn't.--ed.] Exactly.

The rest of that song is borderline Gnostic heresy. [I'm glad you noticed.--ed.] Aren't you glad we have a principled definition of what 'heresy' is in the Catholic Church? [Pshhhhh.--ed.] Have a cookie.

How's RCIA going, by the way? [Horrid. And shut up.--ed.] You'll be fine. [When I walk out.--ed.] Do it then. [I can't.--ed.] Why? [I don't know.--ed.] I hate it when that happens.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Truth Matters

Yesterday, I read Colossians in preparation for an assignment I know I'll have this semester. Today, I'm gonna read Hebrews. You know, because it's Scripture. And it's there. I want to thank you all for praying for my stepdad and us. Keep it up. There may be hard things ahead.

I was just reflecting on the fact that we're surrounded by liars, if I may digress. Lance Armstrong is a liar. He cheated, and based on his lies, reaped millions of dollars. He even found a way to ruin 'Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.' Thanks, jerk. Manti T'eo's "girlfriend" didn't die, nor was who she who she says. You can think of many more, I'm sure.

Isn't it funny? They say of us Christians that we pretend to be better than we are, or in fact, perfect. And I suppose sometimes we do. But I think that a huge part of living before God and others is not digging in deeper, because the truth is too hard to face. In these sports examples, the estimation of the character was more damaged by the compounded lies than by anything else. People want to forgive most things. But people hate liars.

I'm not afraid of finding out that I'm worse than I thought. I'll be alright, as long as there is mercy. But if we lie to ourselves, we're in big trouble. Because that pride makes you oblivious to everything.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Miracles Happen

My stepdad Bill is awake, and it looks like he'll be OK! There may be a hard road ahead, but we knew that. I only know that it has happened this way for something we don't yet see. He should have died. End of discussion. And the damage should be worse. I don't even think it was a mercy to us, though it was. I sense something more.

Every moment is in the hand of God. The mystery of Divine Providence and the interweaving of human freedom is beyond my understanding. But the lesson is surely this: If you get another chance, don't waste it.

O God, Fount of Mercy, thank you for these gifts. I don't want to forget that each moment is a gift from You. Thank you for my life, for Bill's life, and for the chance to start again. I pray this through Christ, who lives and reigns forever and ever, Amen.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Suffering

As the latest struggle has come upon us, I had a few thoughts. My stepdad is in a coma, and he may never wake up. If he does, he most likely will never be the same. It took me a few hours to feel anything. But then watching my sister in her grief took me apart. As I laid there later in my bed thinking that I couldn't possibly cry more than this, I realized something: I will gladly cry every second of every day, as long as it means that I'm alive, and that there is Good. My sorrow is the proof.

This is not a senseless world. The people who say this don't know what they mean. We're supposed to feel this way when horrible things happen. Wouldn't you worry more if you didn't? Our trouble is when we try to make a meaning out of this thing, as if the most fragile creatures we are could begin to guess.

I only know that I was thankful for each breath. If one lonely life nearly ended could shatter the lives of thirty-odd people and who knows how many more, how special we must be! How powerful we are, and how beloved of God! What are we doing, wasting our lives? Forgetting to love, and forgetting to be loved? Especially by Him who put the breath of life in us in the first place.

We're gonna have folks over tonight. I'm going to look into each person's eyes and remember that this moment is not a small one. This person is special and powerful in their ability to love God and others. Any of us may be doing a poor job of it at any one time, but that's our task.

I never understood what this life was about. Why is it so...intense? Why is it so memorable? Because He made us. And when we fouled ourselves and this world, He died to save us. The joys and the loves of this world are not nothing. They are good in themselves. But without Him, they are forgotten. Lost. Don't you want to remember, and be remembered? To chase the good we know back to where it came from? To "walk in the Spirit" is to be walking the path that leads to everlasting joy. To know who we are, and what we are to do. We often fail and falter, but God can restore us again.

I don't want to die knowing that someone didn't know I loved them. I don't want to leave without hearing the words of God's peace. Don't fail to do good, to heal, while there is time.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

It's Me Again

5 Thoughts For Today

5. It looks like Matt Ryan won't choke it away.

4. JJ Abrams's Star Trek on FX, and Star Trek: Insurrection on SyFy.

3. I admit it, I like the Patriots. [You always root for the favorites.--ed.] Not true. [Or the old guys.--ed.] Guilty.

2. We hadn't seen the Manning Face for awhile. I am pleased.

1. After the Holy Spirit and the Father's affirmation, it makes sense why Jesus didn't feel the need to prove anything. Happy Feast of the Baptism of the Lord!