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Showing posts from December 23, 2012

Define Your Terms

I live in two worlds. One is the spiritual or theological, and the other is political. I've always been political as far back as I remember. As you know, I'm pretty opinionated. I also think "extreme" and "extremist" are words people use when they don't like someone, and want to shut them up. Or you could use an adjective like 'far' with a spectrum descriptor like 'Right' or 'Left'. We all do it at times, and depending on the situation, it can be accurate or even welcome. But no one likes to be shamed and silenced. My pet peeve is when people use 'Right,' 'Left,' and 'Center' in theology, as though there is a spectrum, and as though the science of theology is bargained, or even worse, a matter of perspective. Political power often is wielded by majoritarian consensus, or at least acceptance. But things of God don't work this way, and they shouldn't. We may find that we have different truths as a

A Birthday

Today would be my father's 60th birthday. It's hard to picture him as an old guy. He was 36 when I lost him. I'm sad, of course. As I said in the post called, "Funeral," it's a hard thing. But sadness isn't the only feeling. The other very strong feeling is hope. It's a funny thing when you follow Jesus: (Note well, NYT/clueless media) some of us actually believe this stuff. I really do believe in the resurrection of the body, and the life of the world to come. I have no idea how the Lord will judge my father, but I have great hope. I suppose I should say "has judged," but there is still the end to come. I have lesser hopes, too. I hope he is proud of me, and all his children. Perhaps it's fitting that the only enduring memory I have of him is seeing him look down and smile at me. My brother and I, his oldest children, we think a lot about how we carry our name--his name--and whether we do it well. There's a spiritual metaphor i

Death Of A Paradigm

"Derivative authority is a sham." (This is the idea that the creeds have a secondary authority derived from Scripture.) That's what I realized. When I read Mathison's The Shape Of Sola Scriptura, it confirmed that impression for me. Not that I had any warmer feelings for Catholicism (he brought up a ton of potential problems and objections that deserved exploring later), but I saw that he was making a distinction without a difference in his basic thesis. (Sola Scriptura vs. Solo Scriptura) If there was one thing where I rose in defense of the Catholic Church, it was in his taxonomy of tradition: Tradition I, (Church fathers) Tradition II, (medieval Catholicism) and Tradition III (Pope makes up whatever he wants). Because there was no difference between St. Thomas's theology and Trent, and no substantive difference between Origen and Trent, especially on the crucial issue of free will. The basic Reformed/Protestant storyline of the Middle Ages--the burdensome, se

Christmas, Day 2

It was a fine Christmas. Before we took our places at the front for the concert and Mass at the Cathedral, we stopped at the creche. It was a little hard to focus, but I think I was able to bring to mind all the broken relationships I am aware of. Honestly, we live on different planets, me and many of the people I know. It seems hopeless. But that was how it surely seemed when Jesus came in the flesh to the world he made. That stirs hope in me. I felt like I was demanding things I had no right to ask. But I'm sure it only feels that way because I do not understand the meaning of my sonship in the household of God. I got 2 little things as gifts. I don't need stuff; I need people who name the name of Christ to be friends, and I need people who don't know Him to meet him. Pretty simple, but I am a simple man. Peace.


I looked up "heresy" in the CCC. It's paragraph 2089, if you're scoring at home. "Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same." So Luther may well be a sympathetic figure, as may be Calvin or any others. But they were definitely heretics. By the way, one is perfectly free to dissent from the dogmatic definitions of an ecumenical council, but if you do, you're not a Catholic in good standing of any sort, by definition. So let's cut the nonsense about how the Church acted hastily with regard to Luther, or in error. They did no such thing. The faith of the first millenium was as much defined by fidelity to the visible Church as by its propositional content. Indeed, that's why heretics so often claimed that the Church was corrupted, and thus separated from it. I don't have to use strawmen arguments against the Reform

Catholic Actually Means Something

It came to me as I received the Lord today. Both experientially and theologically, Catholic life is less about remembering the past, and is more about living in grace in the present. The old man doesn't finally die long ago; he dies here and now as we take the gifts of our sonship and use them for that purpose. But it shows me more and more how stupid sin is. Sin is acting against our sonship, and with all the gifts of the Church, it's even more pointless. Added to the blessings of sonship, there is the pursuit of further holiness, and the glories of intercession and mysticism. Even the heights of Protestantism can't touch this. It's the sacraments, mainly. You'd think I'd be talking less about the present. After all, if you say "Catholic Church," you might get "tradition" and "history" back in answer. But let's not mistake her evidences, her reasons for credibly telling us what to do, for the essence of the thing. I have