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Friday, July 08, 2016

Do Black Lives Matter?

I don't know the facts of each case, but 2 more black men have died at the hands of police. Dr. Bryan Cross asserts that a dubious utilitarianism which could countenance a pre-emptive war (unjust) in Iraq is the same philosophy that justifies excessive police violence after the fact. Indeed, it is utilitarian, but also consequentialist, in that an observer could find some positive outcome, and use that desirable outcome to judge an action morally acceptable.

I also read a good piece by a lawyer who essentially reminded law students not to support a law unless they were willing to kill in order to enforce it. It seems a bit stark, until we realize that governments coerce by their nature. The question of when and whether such coercion is just is separate from the acknowledgment that force is the nature of political authority. All the more reason we have to lament the loss of awareness that the natural moral law gives governments their authority.

As a baseline, I agree with the argument that black lives in America are especially vulnerable. To speak out for them is not to exclude others; it is to say that the peace and justice we privileged take for granted has been denied. It is not in that sense a "privilege" at all, but a dignity of justice too scarce.

People of good will should not have to assert how much they appreciate police officers. If their criminal element is as rare as we are told, good officers should rise up in righteous fury against their own, who have damaged that sacred trust.

I only know that I want the knowledge that I could go nearly anywhere at any time without interference by the police to be everyone's knowledge. If you want to believe in heroes, go and find them, or be one yourself. We have too many people afraid to say the truth: police ought to be heroes, but too few are.

Correcting this discrepancy is not only what we need to pray for, but to work toward. Nothing more needs to be said.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

An Ordinary Moment

I had some time today in the morning, so I made a morning offering. I would love to tell you that this happens every day, but that's a lie. But there I was, and I was thankful for grace, which seems to be more plentiful than my disgust with myself. Perhaps that truly is the story of God's love for all of us: abundant life more plentiful than our disgust with ourselves.

I don't mean to suggest that we don't do things which offend the holiness of God; read the Catechism concerning sins of various sorts for five minutes if you have a doubt. But we overdo everything in this culture, including self-condemnation. It seems holy to drone on and on about how terrible you are. It's really just pride. The truth is, I'm on the knife's edge of my worst self at any given moment, but it is that worst me that Christ knows and loves, giving His life to save. Personally, I don't want to hear about Christ's "finished work" from the lot of you. If you don't have a message to meet me there, if you can't give me good news there, you don't have gospel; it's something else.

It's why the priest said, "Don't give up, don't be discouraged!" That's what Christ would say. If Christ wanted you to win, that's what he would say. Can you imagine a Calvinist tennis fan at Wimbledon yesterday, addressing Roger Federer during the first two sets? "Well, you suck anyway, but you're a tennis player by virtue of the finished work of Rod Laver." Truly inspiring stuff.

[I think you just compared Rod Laver to Jesus.--ed.] That I did. It may or may not get the point across, but it'll have to do. Meanwhile, I'm going to see if I can string some good moments together.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

We Celebrate, Not Just Do

We celebrate sacraments in the Church; we don't just perform them. I think many separated Christians get afraid of the way the sacraments work, because it seems at once presumptous and fearful. Yet if we can agree that a pious soul might need to remember that Christ is the true minister of all sacraments, then we can understand that the Catholic teaching is the logical application of that truth. You cannot stir up in yourself enough faith or zeal to make a sacrament work, so to speak. We can, however, in those moments during and prior, decide whether we understand who Jesus is, and whether we are willing to let Him walk with us, no matter how many times we stumble. The whole thing is shot through not only with charity, but faith and hope, too. I can think of nothing more bold than to approach the throne of grace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but the way some people tell it, we never needed any of it. The double-edged sword of the claim that sacraments aren't necessary is the idea that they aren't necessary. The person who believes this, and yet becomes piously sentimental about bread and wine is most to be pitied, because he doesn't know what he wants. If the world is enchanted, you might as well be Catholic. If not, no raft of O'Connor quips gets you a free ride across the Tiber. The trip is bathed in blood, and possibly your own.

Even so, we know how to celebrate. Nobody who tells stories of rebel sons, prodigal fathers, and reformed whores should lack the skill.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

In Other News, The Sun Rose

Roger Federer is in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon, a tournament he has already won a record 7 times. I'm going to remind you that Federer is the greatest tennis player ever, and still near his peak at the age of 34. To watch him even on TV is an experience. The tennis is art, cloaked in sports.

What is more, Federer nemesis and the world's top-ranked player, Novak Djokovic, was upset by another player. Many people are saying that it's Federer's tournament to lose. I won't say that, because there are great players still in the draw, including the second-ranked player and 2013 Wimbledon champion, Andy Murray.

But Federer beat Murray for the title 4 years ago. And here we are again. Recall that Federer has lost in the championship final to Djokovic the last two years. There is no doubt we are witnessing in Federer the greatest player ever to play.

If he wins Wimbledon for the 8th time, it will be both a massive triumph, and entirely predictable. Maybe that's the best description of Federer you can find: unimaginably great, and entirely predictable.