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Friday, May 24, 2013

Make Me Laugh, And Make Me Think

I like a lot of women, I suppose. That's just me. I'm comfortable with them. In a limited sense, I can say I may even understand them somewhat. [In a very limited sense, apparently.--ed.]

There's a meme floating around today featuring a nerdy guy and his moderately pretty high-school girlfriend. The message is something like, "Stick with it... [picture of same nerdy guy, and his lady is now a "10"] ...because sometimes it works out."

I'm not gonna go on about super-unrealistic ideals of attractiveness, because even that fuels unhealthy attitudes about body image. I'm angry more about how this thing portrays men. Let me say it this way: Real men don't care that much about your looks or body. It matters some. Of course it does. It matters to you, doesn't it? But if we like you, we like you. End of story. Personally, I don't really care if no one else does. That's the point. I'm not showing a museum-piece; I'm loving the one God has for me. So much the better if she's not objectively "the hottest." Because she's mine.

I'm definitely not saying I haven't fallen into the world's trap sometimes. But underneath it all, I want to love totally, and be loved. Pretty simple. I think the true heart of pornography and lust is alienation and fear. We get afraid that people won't love "the real us," (because maybe we don't) and so we prefer the fake us getting what we can from the fake her, as it were. That seems better than trying to face the fear and whatever else.

But while I have you here, let me add that we need to start pairing off. We've all bought this lie that things have to be in order, that you have to have all your ducks in a row. Look here: Life's gonna knock over the ducks. If you're not a eunuch, get with the program! We're all failing sexually more and more because we're waiting too long to get married. That's not to say we shouldn't pursue chastity. You're going to practice it, one way or the other. Single or married, a life of fruitfulness is a life of self-control.

But who are these people, selling us crap, and lies about ourselves?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

I Don't Watch "Nashville," But...

My friend, Russ Ramsey, was on the show. Yes, really. He knows people. This is just the sort of big thing that ought to happen to good guys, and sometimes, it does.

If you're wondering, it's not that I wouldn't enjoy a show like that, because I totally would. But I made the prudential decision that it wouldn't be good for me. Just go with it. Besides, it's not like I have time anymore; I'm in graduate school.

I'm not one of those "TV is the devil!" types. Quite the opposite. Stories are important, and TV is one of the big ways we tell each other stories. But a Christian says, "Is this a good story? Why or why not?"

It may be more my calling to read the great works of theology, so I feel the question of, "Why are you watching TV instead of reading Newman or Vatican II?" more than most. But I think one is a traditionalist in the Pelikan sense more than a Christian when he blames things and not people for sins. Call me a sinner unworthy of a hearing if you like, but I have always sensed a desire to be with people rather than separate from them for some other purpose. If you have a "holy huddle," it had better be for contemplation, not fear. Prayer is an excellent reason to stand apart. Maybe the best one. But do you think those Christian cultural critics are praying for the people who produce unworthy art?

On the other hand, Russ and I probably lack the standing to criticize. Back in the day, his favorite show was "Friends". I agree that it might be the funniest thing I've ever seen on TV. But "The Spiritual Themes Of 'Friends'" would probably be a short book.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

I Want To Meet That Guy


Joshua Lim: “Barth was of little help here. His constant criticism of all human knowledge, a consistent overflow of the Protestant notion of total depravity mixed with Kantian skepticism, led to a point where no one church or person could be trusted–for God is ever the Subject and can never be made into an ‘object’ that is controlled by man. Though Barth was undoubtedly reacting to the Protestant Liberalism of his time, his own christocentric solution only held things in abeyance without giving a permanent solution. Ultimately, by insisting so heavily on the event character of revelation, the focus on the actual content of revelation itself could only be blurred. As one Catholic theologian put it, Barth’s “insistent cry of ‘Not I! Rather God!’ actually directs all eyes on itself instead of on God. Its cry for distance gives no room for distance.”

 

For my part, the precise content of revelation is exactly what is at issue in this debate. The positing of a fundamentally invisible Church that has no means of distinguishing branches within and schisms from itself thereby disqualifies itself as a true mediating authority between the individual and God. As I've said before, an individual cannot be the arbiter of divine revelation and a receiver of it at the same time. Revelation in its precise content is the fuel for liturgical action, whether public or private. If we have an ecclesiology that does not in fact allow us to know what God has said, we cannot do it. We cannot do the gospel.

 

I have never been averse to the acknowledgment of human finitude, to the likelihood of my own failures and misjudgments concerning even very important matters. But to surrender to this thoroughgoing skepticism especially in the name of hermeneutical humility presents an obvious problem which might have been missed: if the matters of theology are not simply ad hoc expressions of personal preference or cultural inertia, we must have a principled way to say, "I follow these men, and these doctrines as opposed to others." The new ecumenism seems to flatly ignore the real implications of lowest common denominator dogmatic theology. Worse still, it does not do justice to the men who pledged their sacred honor, and often their very lives, in defense of particular doctrines, which, despite the inevitable multiplicity, contains ample evidence of the desire for truth. If the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ finds fault with her children and the men who led them astray, some such as myself find a far greater fault in the notion that it is a fool's errand to seek a singular truth, and a reliable means by which to distinguish it from error. Theological skepticism is flatly contrary to the message of the Incarnation, whereby God himself took on flesh to overcome human weakness, rebellion, and sin. Shall we say that he in any way was less than victorious in his effort? Is it not wiser to say--somewhat ironically along with Barth--that our separated communities, which are the visible manifestation of our inability to profess a common faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, constitutes a grave sin? Is it not also an intellectual sin against ourselves and God to feign agreement where it does not in fact exist?

I'm Back, And A Lot Has Happened

You all know what has happened in Oklahoma, I'm sure. I pray for those who have died, that they soon enjoy the Beatific Vision, knowing God face-to-face very soon, if they do not see it right now. I pray for those here who have lost loved ones, including children. You alone, O Christ, know their sorrow. Give the Holy Spirit abundantly to all in need of comfort. Turn the hearts of the wicked toward You, and remind us all to seek the things that last, since we have seen that so much does not. We pray this through Christ, Amen.