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Saturday, July 13, 2013

This Is Not It

5 Thoughts For Your Consideration

5. The Texas Senate voted to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. They actually debated it. Somehow, killing defenseless people has become acceptable.

4. No, I will not be "reasonable" on this issue. I'm glad Dr. King never listened to the voices of "reason."

3. I have an idea: We'll let any undocumented immigrant stay and have "anchor babies" as far as the eye can see, on one condition: NO ABORTIONS.

2. Our practice of killing people must stop. Some are on their way to death because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Which aspect of our death-cult am I addressing? Does it matter?

1. Hatred of heterosexual marriage, forced contraception, death chambers of all kinds, foreign wars...it sounds like someone hates us. Oh, wait.

Friday, July 12, 2013

On The One Hand

We have a lot to think about in economics with respect to markets, human dignity, and meaningful economic self-determination. On the other hand, I really enjoyed this comment someone posted:

"Catholics are notoriously bad at economics, so I'm not at all surprised to see one advocating for leftist policies."

Sue me.

For the record, we are not as Catholics supposed to "split the middle" on the issues of the day; we are supposed to apply the principles of Church teaching to whatever we happen to be doing. I would rather say, "This particular market set-up takes insufficient account of the human dignity of one or more of the participants, or is not ordered to the common good" than I would say, "Markets are not the answer."

Markets give you what you ask for, no more and no less. We should stop blaming our tools for the flaws in ourselves. And frankly, asserting that one is acting in the common good is not necessarily sufficient grounds for intervention into economies. If the term is well-defined, it could be a good start. But here's the key: A good intent isn't sufficient, either. To paraphrase a famous aphorism, "The road to economic disaster is paved with good intentions."

I believe in free markets. But free markets require free people. And "free" has a lot more in it than, "not being coerced by something external".

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Name And Town, Name And Town

5 Pithy Thoughts For Today

5. Why I'm not Protestant in one sentence: "One cannot be both the arbiter of divine revelation, and a humble receiver of it at the same time."

4. The interpretations of a community mean precisely squadoosh in the realm of theology--that is, dogma--unless that community's interpretations are vouchsafed by God Himself. And if it is, you can't leave (or you shouldn't).

3. Some people love to prattle on about the finitude and wickedness of man; oddly, these insights do not apply to their own biblical hermeneutics.

2. The Incarnation is the explicit refutation of the idea that the Christ of faith and the historical Jesus are not the same person.

1. One verse destroys that silly "Law/Gospel" paradigm: Romans 3:29. N.T. Wright, call your office!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I'm Havin' A Thought Here, Barbossa

5 Thoughts For Today

5. Note to the Lutherans: You can't say, "We want nothing to do with you papists!" and "But we have a valid Mass!" Something's got to give. Pick one.

4. Getting all sacramental without answering that teensy authority question is like wearing a tuxedo t-shirt to a wedding, and hoping no one will notice.

3. "Getting all sacramental" is the ecclesial equivalent of crying during a Pee-Wee Herman movie, in case you're wondering.

2. [Does this mean Catholics are allowed to cry at Pee-Wee Herman movies?--ed.] Hmmm, didn't think that one through. [Clearly.--ed.]

1. [This clearly means you get all sacramental during "Zoolander."--ed.] Hey, when Derek and Hansel unite, it's genuinely affective, OK? [Bwahahaha!--ed.]

The Trees Called; They Want Their Sap Back

The only reason a bunch of dudes singing Wilson Phillips at the top of their lungs is ironically funny in the Decade of Irony is that it's good. You realize that, right? Everyone in music that SNL made fun of is actually awesome.

At some point, I said, "Forget this, man. I've been through so much stuff that holding on to Cool Points is stupid." Most people secretly love that mainstream pop ballad on the radio; they're just hoping that making fun of it will deflect scrutiny.

But isn't the real reason we've had a Decade of Irony is because we're all deeply wounded? And if you think the whiplash from the 1960s was bad--cue the Carpenters--how gut-wrenching do you think the recovery-pop of the Millenials is going to be?

It might be true that the "soundtrack to our lives" kind of people are inclined to a reckless sentimentality; it's also true that when you get old, everything gets real simple. Simple and earnest.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

This Is Hard

I read this today. I think I was able to actually do this finally maybe 2 weeks ago, but I read this, and it brought me back to The Painful Thing, at least the echo of it. So I wanted to be sure. I have probably confessed the sin of my anger over it at least 5 times. I never wished any harm on anybody; I can say that with a clear conscience. Yet we all know when we are really angry and hurt and we're not sure what would come out of our mouths, should that person call or visit.

I have serious abandonment issues, because of some things that happened before. And something tripped a wire. I lashed out; I got possessive and jealous, and I said more than I should, at the very least. I'm not trying to make an excuse here, but there it is. And my friend said goodbye. And I couldn't even take it back. That made the feelings worse. I asked the Lord to take my life, so terrible was the pain and loss. It really hurt that the last thing she said was basically, "All the good in you that I saw, I was wrong about."

I let it go. She doesn't know those wounds I was carrying; I didn't even really know how deep they went. The silence sometimes cut them deeper. It's not like she was really gone; I heard those words every time I was reminded.

I forgive you. I miss you. I hope everything is OK.

Promises, Promises

5 Awesome Things That Are In The Bible

5. "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Rom. 8:1)

4. "But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8)

3. "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father." (John 1:14)

2. "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him." (John 6:56)

1. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

Questions, Questions

Questions To Ruin (Or Probably Save) Your Life

5. "Why would the New Covenant be less sacrificial than the Old?"

4. "Why do I accept one ecumenical council, but not another?"

3. "So you're saying we need an ordained ministry, when our entire movement was a theological rejection of the ordained ministry?"

2. "What is the gospel?"

1. "What is the Church?"

Just The Way It Is

5 Thoughts For Today

5. The homilies suck because they are not biblical.

4. The homilies suck because they are not true.

3. This is not at all opposed to Sacred Tradition; on the contrary; Tradition is biblical theology on steroids.

2. Maybe we just need to listen more to Uncle Scotty. (let the reader understand)

1. Preach from Love, not the fear of man.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Called To Communion

It was my distinct honor and privilege to attend the 2013 Called to Communion Retreat. I cannot express to you how blessed I feel to know these men. There is a closeness here that goes far beyond friendship; it is that spiritual and supernatural friendship that binds us all in the Body of Christ.

Every one of us believes that the riches we found in the Reformed tradition not only formed us, but led us here. We were honored to be joined for the weekend by Dr. Scott Hahn, one of the best theologians in our country and the world today. Ahem. Let's just say that if Dr. Hahn wants to be in the group...we'll talk it over and see what we can do. [Ha!--ed.]

It was fun to hear Scott talk about the "old days" and the men who shaped him. We noticed very quickly that for each one of us, Scott knew or worked with someone who mentored or inspired us. The Reformed world is very influential, but it isn't big.

One thing I will never forget is the laughter; we laughed as much as anything. The Lord God has a sense of humor. If you don't believe this, you need to start again. And the laughter was a symbol for the love that we have for one another. For every single one of the men, I thought: "I feel like I've known him forever."

The other thing you'd notice is the brains. I was in awe of how gifted everyone was in that area. More than this, though, our strengths complement one another, and compensate for our weaknesses. Saturday night, just dumbstruck by the dizzying dynamism of the days-long discussion, [For shame!--ed.] I said to the group, "This is a room full of nerds!"  They all shrugged and said, "You're just figuring this out now?"

Because Casey Chalk was there, I felt consoled in the absence of Barrett "Boot-Strap" Turner, my friend from the Old School. Anyway, Casey said that Barrett was the reason he returned to the Catholic Church. Dude, I know what you mean. He's a smart one. I can't hang with him intellectually, but I have made him laugh a few times. That's something, right? [Dude, you're the only one who calls him "Boot-Strap," and he probably hates that movie.--ed.] Well, if you hang with JK, you're getting a nickname. That's how it works.

I always talk at length to Andrew Preslar. For some reason, he likes to hear what I have to say. Just so you know, he's smarter than you. Don't let the "I'm just a dude from Carolina" persona fool you. But he's so...normal. One of the funniest things about the weekend was that Bryan Cross, Fred Noltie, (of Noltie Conundrum fame) and I had met Andrew at the Texas Roadhouse in Steubenville for dinner on Thursday before things got under way. He said, "I don't read books any more." And then spent the rest of the weekend recapping about 60 books none of us had read. Ha! Whatever you say, dude.

Tom Riello gave me a Rosary, and asked me to remember him and Called to Communion in prayer. I will never forget this. And to think it only happened because he didn't want to walk to the other room to get mine. He's like a long-lost brother, man.

I can't forget Dr. David Anders, the one who can be credibly called our expert on John Calvin. Besides all that, he doesn't say a whole lot relative to others, but when he wades into a discussion, it's almost always a game-changer. I love those people. Just so David knows, one of my goals in life is to get him to say to me, "Good point." I am in awe.

Tom Brown is a lawyer in the Navy. I started to talk to him about the impact of historic judicial decisions on our political participation today. Well, he didn't say I was an idiot--actually, quite the opposite--so that's a win.

OK, we need to talk about Dr. Hahn's library. First of all, it was kind of a big deal to be having lunch on Sunday at the Hahn residence in the first place. Then he was like, "Let's go see the library." I don't know what I was expecting, but I was not expecting a library with over 18,000 books in it. I think he said it has more books than the library at Franciscan University. Every book that any of us said, "Yeah, I need to read that," we found. I don't know if the guys were tempted to theft, but I understand it. This was like Disney World for intellectuals. I saw Ross Douthat's "Bad Religion" just sitting there. Been meaning to read that. Heh. And then, a title caught my eye: "The Political Problem Of Religious Pluralism" by Kozinski. I made a comment that it sounded interesting, and Dr. Hahn got very animated and said he wanted to read a paragraph from it. After what was surely the best paragraph I've heard in a year--to the effect that acknowledging Christ is paradoxically the only way to save our society--I asked Dr. Hahn if he had any encouragement for how to think Christianly about political involvement, given my interest. I would characterize his answer as pessimistic on that score, but we should definitely create vital communities and cultures centered around the Church.

The whole exchange underscores one major obstacle to having a flourishing society: Christian disunity. Doctrine creates cultures, in the sense that Christian culture is an attempt to make the doctrine of God real in our lives, and in the lives of others. That we do not agree is a counter-sign to the world against our words that the one God has spoken. Though we can be thankful for the mystic communion we all share by baptism, at some point we all are forced to realize that the gospel is in the details.

Jason Stellman and I debated politics for several hours Saturday, and into Sunday morning. Yes, that Jason Stellman. What an interesting guy! And an eminently likable guy. I couldn't believe this was the guy certain Reformed people had charged with intellectual dishonesty and deception. Anyway, even though he described himself as an "anarcho-socialist," and I think the only good socialist is probably a dead one, our conversation--grounded, we hope, in the Church's social teaching--produced a substantial amount of agreement, at least in the theoretical. I also have it on the record that if I ran for president, Stellman would vote for me.

And then I come finally to our fearless leader, Bryan Cross. I owe him so much. As Guinan told Riker about Picard, "Our relationship, it's beyond friendship, beyond family..." I needed this trip to put a fitting capstone on this phase of our lives. I realize that when I look at Bryan, I am looking at everyone who loves Bryan, and everyone Bryan loves. All those who have, by God's grace, made him who he is are people who I'm obligated to thank. I want Carol Cross and Laura Cross to especially know how thankful I am for them, as they go with Bryan to Iowa. I will remember to pray to and with the Blessed Mother, and that, no matter what happens, I'm still just silly Kettlecorn.

I am privileged to be a small part of the Called to Communion project, as we work for the full flowering of Trinitarian life in our lives, and in the lives of others.