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Thursday, April 25, 2013

What In Blazes...!

Heresy. Actual heresy. In First Things. We are doomed! [But Leithart writes there often.--ed.] That was rude. [You were thinking it.--ed.] Fine.

And just to be clear, I do not believe--nor am I permitted to, I don't think--that the creation account is a myth.

Who is Babyface, You Ask?

My favorite songwriter, and a legend. Thanks for asking. He wrote this song. And this one. And this one. You can hear him singing the background vocals pretty clearly. I don't know what to tell you. I daydream about writing a pop song half as magnetic as he's done routinely.

His own albums blow me away. "For The Cool In You" is the perfect R&B/pop album. And that came in 1993, after the LP "Tender Lover" made him a star. Have you heard this one? And cue the wedding standard. That last one was from 1996, off the album "The Day." It's incredible. The whole bloody thing. And then he got bored, and did a Christmas album, which gave us this. If that doesn't end up in a sappy picture slideshow of my life, someone's in trouble. That's all I'm saying.

If you put out a greatest hits collection a mere 14 years after your debut as a solo artist, and it gets criticized for being incomplete, you've done very well indeed. I've just given you a small sample. I love this song, which is just a chorus. But I heard this in a bar in Tampa Bay, performed by a white dude who sang better than Adam Levine, (of Maroon 5) and I knew that my favorite dude had a much bigger influence on people in music than the sales figures might show.

Just letting you know.

Dating A Protestant: Why I Won't Do It

It's just too hard. It is not triumphalism, but rather, profound respect which leads me to make a conscious choice to avoid the occasion. I know enough theology to carry some semblance of sympathy for almost every non-Catholic Christian position you can name. I love so many hundreds of people in other communities, it seems as though my heart would burst if it were not kindled with divine Love, like the bush that was not consumed. It was that Love which drew me gradually toward the Church, toward a peace I could not begin to fathom. No sexual attraction could touch this. No charm can replace it. I won't date you because I love you too much to lie to you.

Holy Mother Church always teaches with truth and love, by virtue of her special gifts, despite the failure of her children. Chief among them is me. That said, when she hits back, she hits back hard. You don't get back up again, theologically speaking. But her love is like a good jab that blinds to the overhand right behind it. You drop your gloves, thinking you are out of range. And then you are down. The Church doesn't have to win every argument. Any one person you talk to won't have inside knowledge of whatever tradition is being discussed. But she defines her terms rather well; she never denies your right to believe whatever seems right to you. But she challenges the basis of those beliefs.

Do you realize that you'd have to raise your children Catholic? You'll have to at least accept every moral teaching of the Church. If you honestly believe the Catholic Church has distorted the gospel and placed extra heavy burdens on Christians--permit me a chuckle at that one--you can't even dare lie to your children, and teach them what you regard as a false gospel, can you? If you have the gospel, and that good news you wish to give them pure and undefiled, you'd better decide right now if your feelings are more important than Jesus Christ, whom you claim to love above everything and everyone else.

The Church won't back down. And neither should you. If the love of Christ is drawing you toward this Catholic person, know that He is also drawing you toward Himself and toward us. But no one is a project. If you honestly believe the Catholic Church is wrong, then say so, and stand by it. But we believe the opposite. And we're not ashamed. Nor are we afraid. If you care, then respect. Assume the best. Listen. And when it's all done, if you still think we have another gospel, then the only honest thing to do is walk away. Because a real Catholic won't deny Christ and His Church to make you happy, and vice-versa.

I'll never please everyone. They'll have their pick of unprincipled, emotional, primal reasons why I sought full communion with the Catholic Church. Heck, I'll name them off myself, if you want. But they'll miss the real reason: Because it is the Church that Christ established. The ecclesiastical authority of the bishops in union with the Bishop of Rome. Same one. They say I read the wrong books; they say I wasn't fair; they say lots of things. But I know better. I do know that I wouldn't ask a woman to deny her faith for me.

Forget feelings. I've had such strong feelings every which way so many times, I scare myself. In fact, if you are unmarried, female, and not my sister/cousin, (and are an adult) there is a 97.2% chance that I have been, or am now attracted to you. Just sayin.' But there's more to marriage than that. I owe it to everyone to be honest, and to give my best self at all times. Lord, have mercy for my failures! But I am nothing if I forsake Christ for my own desires. When I have worried, He has said, "Seek ye first the Kingdom, and all these things shall be added unto you." And so it goes.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Notes To Self

You can do this. Satan would like nothing more than for you to turn inward on yourself. Word by word, you conquer. Power through the frustration. Make each sentence a prayer. You are approaching your destiny.

Thank Him for this life. Let the song in your heart play all day. No one can take your joy, but you can give it away if you forget. You are great. There is no one like you. You were made unique for a unique thing.

You are not alone. You have done more than you think. You are more loved than you realize. Embrace who you are, and seek grace to be better.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I'm Happy To Read The Book, But...

Scripture according to whom? Who decides what Scripture says? Until you say who the Church is, and what standard they are going to use, you're wasting everyone's time. But in fairness, I don't think you can do this in a principled way, anyway.

At least you're starting to bite the bullet by admitting the Councils have no authority in themselves.

Same problem as before.

And I Said, "Blog You Very Much, May I Have Another?"

There was a meme about successful people versus losers today on the interwebs. A "meme" is one of those pithy pictures with a thought-provoking, snarky, or otherwise hilarious caption made to make a point. Anyway, it said that people who watch TV and fail to keep daily journals were losers. [What if you kept a daily journal about watching TV?--ed.] That's what I was thinking.

In any case, it got me thinking: Have you ever noticed that people always say they don't like "bumper-sticker" politics? First of all, you're lying. You don't like the other side's bumper stickers. I know I don't. And let's cut the mess: There are "sides" in politics, just like in every discussion. And there's nothing wrong with this, inherently. But I think disenchantment comes when we use the same words, but mean different things. We get really hostile with politicians who willfully equivocate for political advantage. But I think it's fractious because we don't define terms, and we don't have a common patriotic heritage anymore that gets us through the frustration of the times when we don't agree on terms. You have to respect someone at a basic, human level in order to define terms together. That's what we've lost: The creative space to do the hard work of defining our terms in policy. That's what people are actually talking about when they say we need "civility." We don't need a rigidly enforced "politeness", though; we need a non-threatening, human, gentle way of teasing each other to make a point. We need bumper stickers.

In the same way that a parable disarms a defensive audience to make a point, that's what our politics should be. But we need to restore the boundaries between the political arena, and neutral civic space. Because the workings of our democratic institutions and processes are a good chunk of the space where rebuilding that common heritage is going to take place, if we are able.

I think if I am called upon to seek and hold political office, my first two promises will be to not make everything political, and to not promise the world. I really want to have a good conversation about the nation and its people. I'd rather lose having committed some mythical "heinous" gaffe in the attempt to have a meaningful discussion than to not have one at all.

Not that I've always been known for level-headedness, but it's worth a go, eh?

Notes To Self

His mercy is new every morning. Don't stop writing. Don't stop praying. Do your best to forgive. Sing a little song. Maybe even write one. Take the risk of being too sentimental. Take a moment or ten to think of the Cross. Thank the Lord for your friends.

Remember your father. Remember how you are him in all the ways that are good. There is no harm at all in trying to live today to make him proud of you. Dad's just a little picture of the Father. He'd shake his head, ashamed of himself, but everyone falls short.

Call your brother. You haven't talked in a while. Save him time by looking at the game recap. But if he wants to talk about it, let him. Baseball is not trivial; baseball is a part of our past, a reminder of all that once was good, and could be again.

Don't forget to eat. And for Pete's sake, drink some water! Shave the beard. Don't be afraid to embarrass yourself. No one will ever say, "He loved me too much."