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Saturday, January 04, 2014

5 Pointed Thoughts

5. There are many kinds of beauty, and we should affirm all varieties of it. But I shouldn't have to say that it's perfectly wonderful to be physically attractive. No one should have to apologize for it in the face of others' envy.

4. Actually, whether someone is an open homosexual has no direct bearing on what public policies they should or do support. In fact, if an openly practicing homosexual opposes gay unions, I call that correct thinking, not self-hatred. Frankly, those who would be offended by this don't know how to think.

3. The immoral man who nonetheless affirms he is immoral--and the laws which judge him thus--is better off than the foolish person who believes morality is determined by what he desires.

2. I really hate The Huffington Post. I don't hate progressivism; I hate stupid progressivism.

1. If you lose Camille Paglia, maybe it's time to re-think a few things. Just sayin.'

Friday, January 03, 2014

"Derivative Authority" Is A Sham

I've said this many times, notably here. The "arbiter/receiver Rule," stated by me as, "One cannot be both the arbiter of divine revelation, and a humble receiver of it at the same time," is a wordier, less quippy version of, "If I submit only when I agree, the one to whom I submit is me." A fundamentally invisible Church deals with the twin problems of ecclesial pluralism, and the charge of schism. You can't be in schism from an invisible Church. You can't be in heresy, either, from a Church defined by you, big enough to contain the opinion you happen to hold.

That's why the divine authority of a visible community becomes of primary importance, and why reason suggests that such a community would have to be infallible in certain circumstances. If some group isn't the Church, what are they going to say when someone calls their bluff? "You are wrong! You are in heresy! We really, really, mean it this time"? Once more, wasn't Arius basically theorizing an invisible Church? "Well, this group of fallible men isn't the Church! I'm right, and they are wrong!" Pretty easy to do, eh?

That's why Mere Christianity leads back to Mere Catholic Church, or Mere Whatever I Want. Or I could call it the Galli Incoherence. I see why this would be attractive, but I'm surely not the first person to say this is more ad hoc than a Dave Matthews Band concert.

Food for thought.

You're Both Right

I don't find it ironic that Leithart's prosecutor is now Catholic. If you talk to him, it makes perfect sense. Jason Stellman has always been an ecclesial Christian; that is, his faith has always been a faith received. Once you make that decision, and investigate it to the end, the Catholic Church is inevitable. If you purge that highly ecclesial sensibility of the random individualist elements, (like Sola Scriptura) Mother Church is all that remains. Let's just be blunt: Leithart is a more perfect fundamentalist; he's read a lot of books, and he's got buckets of sympathy for the Church, at least insofar as it serves to obscure the central truth: he is his own arbiter of what counts as divine revelation.

R. Scott Clark has roundly criticized the Federal Vision for being out of accord with traditional Reformed theology; he's right. But people like Rich Lusk have pointed out that the story with the sacraments has never been as stark as Clark says. He's right, too. And here's the kicker: this is evidence for the claim that the Catholic Church is the Church that Christ founded. Would you not expect two communities that were once one to share affinities? Lusk says, "Look back here! We share affinities!" But there are reasons why we are not one. Clark is there to remind people of those things. That is, Clark represents that which defines itself in opposition to the Catholic Church. In a way, he should. That's why those communities were founded in the first place.

I breathed deeply of that FV air, and I can tell you that most of them don't realize the ecclesial implications of what they say. They have recovered something of Catholic truth without knowing this is what they have done. They earnestly believe they have recovered an authentic charism of God from within their tradition. They're right. Something has to give. You either pretend that trans-communal theological continuity isn't an authentic work of the Holy Spirit, or you ignore the ecclesial implications of having recognized it, by making the Church invisible. Or, you become Catholic. If you become Catholic, you can recognize the work of the Holy Spirit outside the Church, AND recognize the visible, ecclesial implications of it. LG, 8.

Come home, Rich. We have what you're looking for. James and Peter, we have what you're looking for, too. God already thought of your insights, and he gave them as treasures to the Catholic Church. Dr. Clark, does it really seem reasonable that Jesus Christ left His brothers in darkness until 1517?

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

5 Thoughts For Today

5. Thank a character actor today.

4. I'm sure Alicia Witt is a fine actress, but to me, she will always be Alia: "Wait for my brother, Baron!"

3. Aren't you glad Mom didn't decide she had something better to do when the angel showed up?

2. I just need a tangible copy of Roman Holiday.

1. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Perfect Storm

I'm not your typical political conservative. You probably know that. I still think George W. Bush is one of the most well-intentioned people we've ever elected president. I also think he's guilty of terrible offenses, and profoundly bad moral lapses in judgment. Maybe Dr. Peter G. Klein of the University of Missouri-Columbia is right; voting may be nothing more than an expression of identity. I do know that when one has not only tired of war, but realized perhaps that the entire rationale for a nation's entry into them has been nothing more than political expediency, national pride, and angst for about 100 years, if not longer, the peacenik starts to sound like a live option. If you've been Republican your whole adult life, and policy starts to reflect nothing more than an intra-generational culture war, rather than the real moral battles that need fighting, when abortion is just a card they play to stir up the rubes while nothing changes, when they nominate essentially a Democrat, while pretending this is The Most Important Election Of Our Lifetime, like they always do, don't blame me for taking a flyer. Is Obama worse than anyone (including me) might have thought? Yes. Nor is he a peacenik, as it turns out. In fact, he begins to make W look like Henry Cabot Lodge. So fine, I was very wrong. You still can't pay me to vote for John McCain. And don't even try to make me hate Obama; honestly, I'm not capable of it.

I do think that the lines are about to be redrawn. I think we won't even recognize the coalitions which make up our parties in a few years, if not before. If I were to run for president, I want my coalition to be made up of poor people and minorities; I want to be the most environmentally-conscious president in recent memory, even as I infuriate the professional activists for that cause. I want to help people realize that while socialism is a grave evil, not every government expenditure perpetuates it. On the other hand, government is too large, in that its existence in the present form hinders rather than helps; it grows so large that it doles out the favors that are the fruit of injustice, both economic and otherwise. In general, we have an entire political class that is unresponsive to the needs of all the people they claim to serve, because that reward has grown so bountifully that they are insulated from reality, from suffering and difficulty that afflicts ordinary people.

I believe we have a Culture of Death, and it tells us to kill our children in the womb. It tells us that individual pleasure is more important than our duty to our families and to others. It tells men and women to die for "freedom" far away, when no one else has counted the cost, except them. It tells us that profit at all costs is the same thing as co-operative self-interest, and dares to name it "the market economy." It tells us to re-define marriage when we already have, and when we have completely lost its purpose in the first place. It tells us that killing people in the name of public safety when the situation makes it neither necessary or just is acceptable.

Monday, December 30, 2013

10 Points!

10. When someone says, "According to Scripture..." my favorite retort is, "According to whom?"

9. I like Protestant liberals for this very reason, because they are frank to make this challenge, even if they don't leave anything orthodox in its place.

8. I'm sure it's just a coincidence that "Losing My Religion" is playing in the background. Heh.

7. On the other hand, it eventually leads to agnosticism or atheism if you deconstruct every human structure in human history. It's an act of faith to see this as unreasonable, for the Word made flesh to allow man's corruption to taint His gospel, that is.

6. A person needs to know the content and meaning of divine revelation in the places where he lives. If he cannot know the gospel, he cannot do it.

5. An invisible Church cannot define itself, or what it believes.

4. There is an irreconcilable conflict between the fundamental principle of the Reformation (Sola Scriptura) and the invocation of ecclesiastical authority, precisely because the man ultimately submits to himself, and thus, cannot know that what he believes is in fact divine revelation.

3. Is this a bad time to mention that Anglican Holy Orders are invalid? Blame Cranmer. The riff-raff always ruins it for good papists.

2. Ecclesial deism is in direct contradiction to the biblical story, which is the story of God's faithfulness to His people.

1. One cannot be both the arbiter of divine revelation, and a humble receiver of it at the same time.