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Friday, February 06, 2015

Actually, No, I Don't Have Difficulty Listening To The Pope On Economic Issues

Because the social doctrine is so cool. When we understand its fundamental principles, when we have a baseline anthropology that explains why we are here, and our destiny, it's easier to sense where he is coming from. Most people's basic theological methodology is, "Is this infallible?" and if it isn't, they ignore it, rather than saying, "How might the social doctrine be applied prudently in this situation?"

One of the other unique things about our pope is his native country. When we factor that in, and when I listen with my political ears (not my ideology), he becomes perfectly intelligible (and reasonable).

The Catholic Church never cedes that there is any field of human life that is untouched by the gospel she is tasked with proclaiming. If you are waiting for her to butt out, you'll be waiting a long time. Direct jurisdiction and expertise is another matter, but if we are Catholic, we accept the anthropological vantage-point of the Church, and make it our own.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Let's Talk About Hell

I saw Sen. Cotton say he hopes the detainees at Guantanamo Bay rot in Hell. I can't. I believe it's real; I can't even begin to wish for that. You'll have to forgive me. You do realize that it's far worse than any anger we have ever felt, worse than all the evil deeds ever done? You will never say such a flippant thing ever again.

Just meditate on it for a moment. How every human heart does not cry out for mercy is beyond me.

O my Jesus!
Forgive us our sins,
save us from the fires of Hell,
lead all souls to Heaven,
Especially those in most need of Thy mercy.

"The Message" And Homosexuality

I went looking for the passage in Romans specifically, and the wording clearly indicates homosexual sexual activity. It's hard to miss. Could it be used by people to deny the traditional Christian teaching (that is, Catholic) on homosexuality? Of course it can. What can't? But what does Peterson intend by writing it? It would shock me if you could show Eugene Peterson teaching anyone that homosexual activity wasn't a sin. Maybe he believes that. But you can't assert it without proof.

You might say, "This "Bible" equivocates on important issues, and gives unrepentant sinners cover to continue in sin!" Fine. That point is conceded. I wouldn't teach from The Message. It's not even a full Bible. (See, "Catholic Church, Canon of Scripture") But that's a far cry from saying its author will burn in Hell for all eternity for writing a colloquial, conversational Bible!

I think a great many people are obsessed with who is "in," and who's "out." Maybe it's a Calvinism thing; I don't know. I do know that perhaps a guy who's read and taught the Scriptures for a solid 40 years wanted to hear them with fresh ears. I doubt you do devotionals from the Greek and Hebrew like he does, Sparky. It's a book for people who have read the Scriptures their whole lives.

I'm certainly not going to crucify him for it. Sorry.

There Is No Sunny Calvinism

There's no Chestertonian Calvinism, either, Doug. It's oil and water. Calvinism isn't sunny; it's not meant to be. The only recourse we had was to say it was biblical, and therefore, true. I'll spare the audience the machinations of why it's impossible to even know what "biblical" means.

Suffice to say, you're claiming people who don't belong to you. If you want to cast your lot with him, the door's open. I have no idea who the bishop of Idaho is, but somebody does.

There may be some enticing versions of Reformed "Catholicity," but are they true? One thing you can say about Dr. Clark: he doesn't act like the Reformation was all a big misunderstanding, like, "Oh, dear me, we've happened to celebrate dinner-parties on the same night!" Somebody is right, and somebody is wrong.

Actually, Mr. Dukeman...

My general instinct is to say, "We need more 'heretics' like this cat." Am I missing something here? I still haven't heard any proponent of "The Message" say that it replaces any other Bible, or the traditional tools and methods of exegesis.

[Omitted paragraph stating that Sola Scriptura is wrong anyway, Holy Mother Church, yadda, yadda...]

He has always seemed like my kind of Reformed. The thing is probably a master-work of pastoral theology, for all I know. Now I have to read the blessed thing, to find out whether this is another irrational vendetta (which it likely is, with all due respect).

Anybody read "The Message," and want to comment?

Please Note: I use the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition, 1st edition, for study. In devotion (my feeble attempts at "lectio divina") I use the lectionary of the United States Conference Of Catholic Bishops, which is from the New American Bible. I figure that since it is supposed to be a time of Scripture-guided prayer, numerous gripes with that translation can wait. I can always look up the text in the Greek/Hebrew/Latin if it's really bad. I digress.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

The Truth Is...

I would like to believe that I am patient and kind, ready with a gentle word. The truth is, however, I'm prone to say that such and such an idea is blanking stupid, and the people who entertain it...well...

I can honestly say I don't want to hurt people. More often than not, I'm spoiling for a fight. I hate it when peace is purchased at the price of the truth. "Why I Am Single," film at 11! [Oh, stop. You're trolling for sympathy.--ed.]

It was one of those, "Let's stop shaming girls for the fact that men lust" posts, but it was satire. It was a woman asking, "Why do men have to wear suits, knowing my propensity to lust?" It really hacked me off. It basically said, 1. I can wear what I want, and men are the problem; 2. lust really isn't that bad; and 3. anybody who uses the word "modesty" hates women and their bodies. It was a Christian blog, mind you!

Well, my friends, the only thing I hate more than feminism is "Christian" feminism. Full stop. No qualifiers. Why? Because, at the end of the day, someone's moral agency will be denied, in the service of the narrative. No, it isn't a woman's fault that she is attractive. Lust in fact is the unlawful possession of the beautiful. But no, you can't wear a bikini to Mass. In Romans 14, individual freedom gets supplanted by love and the good of the other. If you told me that my clothing caused you to lust, I'D GLADLY WEAR SOMETHING ELSE. You may need to grow in grace; well and good. But I'd do that for you, because your soul is more important than my rights.

If a large group of men say that Christian women have taken insufficient account of modesty, their sins are their own, BUT YOU NEED TO LISTEN. You belong to Christ; you have no right to ignore those concerns, even if the thought of those sins creeps you out, and even if it involves sacrifice.

I'm not ashamed of women's bodies; do not assume that not wanting to see every inch of them represents a latent misogyny; this is the lie of feminism and sexual "liberation." If I lose friends, so be it.

I lost my patience in discussing this. I may have hurt someone. I regret that. But I never regret speaking truthfully and frankly. We are awash in nonsense.


Monday, February 02, 2015

I'm With Burke (Mostly)

But this is a good point. Orthodoxy has never really been under siege. Not really. Here's the truth, from a quasi-outsider: You assumed if it was Catholic, it came with the worldview. This is why every pagan in the Church says, "You can't tell me anything! I went to Catholic school for 12 years!"

Introduce them to God. The things of the Church can help, but there is no substitute for true conversion. There is no attitude or program that can fix the real problem, which is sin.

If it were my decision to make, there'd be no altar girls, because it's theologically and sacramentally confusing. I'm not going to die on that hill, however. This is why I'm inclined to yell at "traditionalists" as much as anybody else: You can't just yell, "Novus Ordo!" or "Communion in the hand!" or "Altar girls!" and think you've done your duty. You haven't done anything but declared your tribe in a pointless family spat. That's right, pointless. There is a world out there who doesn't give a [expletive] about obscure liturgical rules, and "reverence" applies to people like their Dads (hopefully) or John Wayne. (Tom Brady?)

Underneath all the crap, people are asking three questions: 1. Who is God? 2. Who am I? 3. What are we doing here? If you can't answer that, just go home. But understand, the crap is pretty powerful. Someone somewhere is Googling swimsuit models, pounding beers, eating too much, chasing money, etc. Yes, it's an illusory happiness, but the truth is, it's more real than the gnawing sense that I'm alone in this world. People don't feel bad about that stuff, because it makes them happy. At least for a short time.

You have to give people a reason to change their definition of happiness. If you are a humorless scold, you're not converting squat. Real holiness changes you. People say, "He's not like us, but he's got something I want." Most people who think they are warring against modernism and the forces of darkness in the Church are just the older brother in the parable of the wayward son; they aren't sinners, but they have no joy.

Pope Francis has joy. Real joy, nearly all the time. It's not my job to criticize all of his inartful statements. In fact, I think it is my job to find out why the freaks and weirdos of society flock to him like a magnet. Give me whatever that is. Give me joy, Lord.