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Friday, October 10, 2014

Won Me Over

Audrey Assad owns me, just so we are clear. I probably don't hate "Jesus records" as much as I say I do, but the test is this: Would I put this on and just sing with it? In the words of Winston, "Yes, man!" And not like, "I'm gonna be spiritual now." "Heart" deserves to be up there with "The Blue Album," "August And Everything After," and anything else my generation wants to name.

I'd say she got dropped by her Christian label because they are stupid. Shocking, I know.

Christian music generally finds a way to be phony and horrible, which is almost impossible. And if there's a way to turn "authenticity" into a vanity project, somebody will find it.

Play To Win

The most important part of the spiritual life, after the sacraments--given by the Word Himself--is prayer. If you don't pray, then the obedience of faith becomes a bunch of "Thou shalt not" statements, and you will fall. Just trust me on this.

But prayer is communion with God, and even if we are not possessed of a certain virtue, being with God is an invitation to delve deeper into the mystery of it. The vices are all on the surface; there is no mystery or beauty to them. It's like finding treasure in a field. Imagine that!

I can remember telling the Lord's priest, "Father, it's like I'm playing not to lose." He said what they always say: "You need to pray." If you want to play to win, pray.

I'm not going to tell you that I love praying. I hate praying. But if I am utterly convinced of God's goodness by faith, I will do it, believing that what I seek--who I seek--is waiting for me.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Why Put Up With Incurious Dullards?

Check your privilege.

I Agree Entirely

This.

Teach Us To Pray

"...as we forgive those who trespass against us." That's the tough part, eh? I'm not acutely aware of being trespassed against all the time. Frankly, if I am though, look out. I have still so much to learn.

The Lukan version of the Our Father was the Gospel last night. Aside from the odd translation, it struck me that we pray for what we do not have. To pray, "for we always forgive those indebted to us" is to pray that we would grow into that kind of faith and love.

There is a generosity of spirit, a magnanimity that comes when we taste the grace of God, as it is written, "Love keeps no record of wrongs." Please, Lord, give me that.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Looking Forward To The Holy Father's Thoughts On Ecology

Even if they swing more "Left" than I might be comfortable with. The American Right's problem is that it has absolutized individual self-determination; the Left's problem--as always--is that this self-determination doesn't even exist. They pretend to be libertines, in order to secure the votes of the economically illiterate.

Markets are a great way to manage the scarcity of finite goods, but you cannot quantify clean air and water. A "free market" could be defined as a voluntary, mutually beneficial exchange of goods or services. We might end up saying that a particular regulation or a scheme of them is ultimately counterproductive to achieve a certain end, but there is a clear sanction in the abstract for regulation by governments for the common good.

We need to be pre-emptively aware that the developing world still lacks the most basic and obvious environmental regulations, that we in the US take for granted, so the Holy Father may sound like a socialist at times (even though he isn't, at all). Let's keep our ears ready for a whole bunch of stuff reaffirming the fundamental dignity of the human person. The Right-flavored version of consequentialism will chafe against these sorts of things, saying, "But look at all these great outcomes!" which means precisely squadoosh, if some structure is fundamentally opposed to human dignity and solidarity.

5 Thoughts For Today

5. Every Cardinals fan before the NLDS: "It's OK. We own Clayton Kershaw." I actually said this.

4. John Lackey: Chris Carpenter, 2.0?

3. St. Louis should have won 105 games. They didn't, but that depth is showing itself now.

2. The media has written off the Cardinals. However, they picked the Cardinals to win it all in spring training. Maybe they were right the first time.

1. San Francisco is going to be tough. They are worthy to be feared. Tough, gritty, underappreciated...like the Cardinals.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

The Good News Yesterday (Lk 10:25-37)

If you're any sort of Christian, we can talk a good game about not being the Levite, who goes the other way. Most of us would probably say there was no person we could not love in the abstract. But what about that person you do not like? It's not so bad when someone's sinfulness looks like yours, or when there is something lovable about them. Other times...

Personally, there is a small but real list of people I wish would go away. I'm not so callous as to wish harm upon them, but I'd just as soon not have to think about them. Today, God is calling me to love them. Some practicality, some gift of prayer or help.

God, grant me the grace to love.

The fact that the "robbers" are of their own making only makes the call stronger.

We praise you for your boundless mercy, O Lord!

Monday, October 06, 2014

Don't Stop The Music

I'm sitting here stewing over Cardinal Newman's essay on development of doctrine, (again) and enjoying some music from when I was younger. Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds really is an amazing songwriter, I think. I'm probably just saying this to annoy my friend Lillian, who has gone to the Cave of PhD, and will never read this. Ha! Anyway, youthful popular music has only ever been about 2 things: destroying the social order, and seducing women, (or men, I suppose) and I guess I'm not one who's ever been keen on destroying the social order!

Eros and thanatos. Men indeed are simple creatures.

I just marvel at how he constructs a chorus; songwriting is one of those things I could have done, were I not so easily...oh, look! A kitty! KITTY!!!

Anyway, I was just thinking how awesome it would be if Kenny Loggins formed a duo with Kenny Edmonds (Babyface). Dude, that would bankrupt the entire contraceptive industry! [Your favorite songwriter wouldn't have a job if America wasn't full of wicked fornicators.--ed.] Hey, one problem at a time!

Weren't The Readings Interesting Yesterday?

This is one of those times where this post could get long, so get a cup of coffee, or a roll of Spree, and settle in. [No one eats Spree but you.--ed.] Fine. Whatever.

It struck me as I heard the first reading from Isaiah 5 to keep in mind the context: Israel in the north has already fallen, and Jerusalem's fall is not far behind. That's why the field is overgrown, and there are briers and the like. Judgment is coming, and right soon. But did you catch the thing about wild grapes? Did anyone else think of Romans 11, or was that just me? And this is precisely what St. Paul is actually talking about in Romans 9-11, not some weird Calvinist election thing. St. Paul is trying to explain how God has not repudiated Israel, even if most of Israel is presently rejecting the Anointed One: it's for the salvation of the Gentiles. That's most Christians today, by the way.

And then in the Gospel reading, (Mt. 21:33-43) the Lord says the same thing: someone else is going to receive your inheritance. He holds them responsible, (just like Esau) but the plan will not be thwarted. True Israelites receive Jesus; false Israelites reject Him. So it has been, and so it shall be.

That's why I've been mildly intrigued by the discussion about how much Christ can be seen in the Old Testament among the Reformed, but I don't have a dog in the fight. If a putative minister cannot give the true sacraments of the New Covenant, he's wasting his breath, ultimately. Only the grace of the New Covenant will feed the pilgrims on the way to the New Jerusalem. (OK, it's not that long.)

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Showing Up Is Half The Battle

Jim Gaffigan once famously asked, "How many plans has the snooze bar destroyed?" If we believe St. Josemaria Escriva, a lot. The Gaffigan bit is funny, but it's funny in a dark way. Not everyone meets the same challenges, but if we decide that we are going to meet them, we're well on our way. Didn't I say this last week?

It's an expression of living with a purpose, with the end of eternal life in view. There will be plenty of things coming at us that are completely beyond our control, but if we pray and live with intention, we won't be held fast by the rest of it.

I'm working on it.