Saturday, February 23, 2013

Saturday, The Legend Continues

5 Thoughts On A Saturday Evening

5. I'm still sitting next to Bob.

4. I think I'm awake.

3. I'm DONE thinking today.

2. Don't you dare ask me how I can still play mindless video games at my age. [How can you still play mindless video games at your age?--ed.] Thanks.

1. Actually, I think the sports world and the video game world have merged. I am either: 1) Doing theology; 2) watching sports; 3) Doing theology while watching sports; or 4) playing a sports video game, usually old, so I can re-live the glory days of my favorite (usually retired) althletes. [Geez, you're a nostalgic old fart.--ed.] I know, right?

Saturday, Saturday

5 Thoughts For Today

5. I'll be glad when I get all these back. On the other hand, I'll be gladder for that Master's degree.

4. I wonder how fast the postal service is these days?

3. I wonder if Martin will find this funny. I bet I'm looking at him right now. "When did he write this?" he muses, when he should be thinking of Canon Law.

2. You don't really need the alarm, Teach! I'll watch the clock for you! Honestly.

1. I'm awake, Bob. No, seriously.

Friday, February 22, 2013

It's Me Again

5 More Thoughts

5. [Cool Movie Voice-Over Guy] "This Lent...One man...For the sake of humanity...will sacrifice everything." Well, no, not everything. Just some things. To hopefully gain the One Thing. Cue the Rich Mullins.

4. If you're too Catholic to know who Rich Mullins is, I pity you. I believe what St. Cyprian said, and what the Catholic Church has always taught. But Rich better be there. I'm not making demands, I'm just saying.

3. I think what I appreciate about him the most in what little I know of his music (though I've surely listened to Songs 8000 times) is that I really believed him when he sang. Honestly, most Christian music sounds like a pep talk, like we're trying to convince ourselves of what we believe, instead of believing it--and doing it.

2. John Mayer doesn't believe or do anything of great consequence, but I appreciate his earnestness as well.

1. For years, I woke up with "Creed," by Rich Mullins. This is what I mean when I say that "derivative authority" is a sham. If this creed is true, if it is an authority in any sense, the authority which gave it must be authoritative as well. There is a value in arbitrarily holding this creed true while rejecting other things from that same authority--for all I know, it's saving your soul--but ad hoc and arbitrary is what I mean when I accuse you of being "unprincipled" on the point. I digress.

5 Thoughts For Today

5 Thoughts For Today

5. Actually, it is a sin. Maybe Christians are so "uptight" about sex because it can hurt you and others if not done according to God's will. Stop being morons. How's that "freedom" working out for you?

4. I was "open-minded" once; then I realized everyone who says we should be open-minded is stupid.

3. I am unitarily convinced that universalism is stupid.

2. If we follow your advice, Person of Prevailing Opinion, actual people die, spiritually and physically. But I'm the killjoy. Right. That makes sense.

1. Maybe our whole culture got stuck in a game of Opposite Day roughly 50 years ago. That would explain it.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

I'm Not Crazy, I Told You

It's time to seriously think about this. Look, I get it, you can't listen to me any more, because I've accepted the Mind-Eel, and will no longer participate in your rousing debates about paedocommunion and Calvin's most stylish dinner jackets. But honestly, do you see this? We're right in the Christological golden age! This is your undivided Church right here! Um, how many theological giants will you casually assume had the wrong ecclesiology before it becomes hilarious? How strong does the evidence have to be?

I'm not saying that the theological enterprise is always so awesome. I'm not even saying that everything is remotely trouble-free. I'm in the same Church as Joe Biden, for Peter's sake! But it is the Church. There is no other.

I used your own narrative about the history of the Church to prove it false. The proud man asks what else they got wrong. The Christian asks what else they got right.

I'm your theological Tom Bodett, and we'll leave the light on for you.

You Were Saying?

5 Thoughts For Today

5. Snow has postponed the Audrey Assad show in St. Louis. But Audrey will still be my house. (let the reader understand)

4. I've really done it this time. (let the vaguely-inclined reader understand)

3. Schmidt is funny, because he's crude in an endearing way, and he says "Honestly" at the perfect time. Honestly. (let New Girl fans understand)

2. "JK, do you want a Coke?" "Make it so, Number One." (let the Trekkies/Trekkers understand)

1. "You're my person." (let the Grey's Anatomy fans understand)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Yo, Adrian!

5 Thoughts For Tonight

5. "Just keep punchin', Apollo." Good advice when things get tough.

4. Adrian Balboa in the "You can't win!" scene from Rocky IV=Job's wife? Food for thought.

3. Martin Luther=Tommy Gunn?

2. "If I can change...and you can change...EVERYBODY CAN CHANGE!"

1. Coming into the Catholic Church (with Confirmation Sponsor Guy) was like the awkward beach scene (3:02-3:25) from Rocky III.

You Want Me On That Wall

5 Thoughts For Today

5. I think your bold ecumenical vision is to make Catholics into Protestants using nicer words.

4. The Council of Trent, sessions V, VI, and VII actually aren't hard to read. Give it a shot.

3. Yes, I have read the Joint Declaration on Justification, and it would appear those Lutherans agree with the Council of Trent. It's not much ado about nothing, and we're too smart to be your next Chris Castaldo.

2. I'll explain what Vatican II actually did: They took Trent and translated it for the average person. It's what Billy Graham would sound like if he were Catholic.

1. Deep down in places you don't like to talk about at parties, you know you're wrong. All the books and forums and meetings don't change it. Stop punching a brick wall.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Final Frontier

5 Late-Night Thoughts

5. It's not my fault you agree with the Council of Trent.

4. Apparently, you only like those Catholics who aren't fully Catholic.

3. We're not keeping you out, you are.

2. Extra nos isn't close.

1. If Sola Fide you spurn, you must return!

5 Thoughts For Today

5 Thoughts For Today

5. The Lakers will really miss owner Dr. Jerry Buss. 10 titles in 30 years. If you watch sports, you begin to understand the magnitude of this. Like the Lakers, the St. Louis Cardinals in baseball also have the second-most championships in their sport. They have 11...since 1892. RIP, Dr. Buss.

4. You might be lucky enough to have someone cover your mistakes, to have someone cushion the blows of this world. You might even feel entitled to it. But sooner or later, the buck stops here. Get busy livin', or get busy dyin.'

3. You're going to have to forgive tons of people for being stupid. Not malicious, just plain stupid.

2. I'm taking my questionable character to the Audrey Assad show on Thursday. JK is pumped. Or maybe even jazzed.

1. I might have an inordinate desire to eat a cow right now.

5 Late Thoughts

5 Late-Night Thoughts

5. I really shouldn't be awake now.

4. Might as well make the best of it--music.

3. Surely "The Following" has quite the following.

2. If I got paid for listening to music, I'd be Bill Gates.

1. This just in: Joan Osborne is a really great artist.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Well, If You're Asking Me...

5 Thoughts For Today

5. I read a whole bunch of movie reviews from Focus On The Family. I really appreciated it. They are much more thoughtful, balanced, and discerning than they get credit for.

4. Even "JK Classics" like Top Gun are worse than you remember.

3. I read some music reviews also. Maybe I've been living in a cave, but I'll never be able to look Rihanna in the eye. [She makes Mariah Carey seem downright modest.--ed.] And that was just the lyrics.

2. Nicki Minaj, you need to repent. Right now.

1. If "The Bieb" teeters on the edge of total perversion, we are doomed.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Answer To The Problem--Resources

I wrote this series of posts to explain what I was thinking as a Christian; why it came to pass that I sought full communion with the Catholic Church. It was as surprising to me as it appeared obvious to everyone else, on all sides. Perhaps you track with me and find it compelling. Perhaps you don't. Let me be frank: I want you to say, "I can see what he's saying; I see why he might do this." You don't have to agree.

I appreciate you also if you feel I've done the wrong thing, and even put my soul in danger. At least you desire the will of God, for me and all of us. (I might think that you lack the "standing", as it were, to make such a judgment, but I understand it.) But I confess, I need more grace to deal with what I perceive as a bunch of mealy-mouthed equivocators, for whom "ecumenism" is the dinner party meet-and-greet at a useless UN conference. Theology matters. Jesus Christ matters. It is neither insurmountable, nor necessarily an occasion for acrimony if we find that we disagree. But whether we can come to agree depends on definitions and authority, and perhaps only this. If there is some moral deficit or lack of wisdom, let us beg the Spirit of God to come to our aid.

If you dare to travel down the same path of thought at least as I did, I read several books that seemed to ask and answer the same questions I was asking. I will try to remember the order in which I read them. Nota Bene: For the record, I did not attend weekly Mass until I was Catholic, on April 23, 2011. I decided to become Catholic on April 10, 2011, at 3:56 PM CDT. I attended my last Presbyterian Lord's Day service on April 17. You may well rightly suggest that I was unfit for ministry in any Reformed church long before that. But until April 10, I fully intended to complete my studies for ministry and pursue ordination in the Presbyterian Church in America, despite any sympathies to the contrary.

Book 1: The Shape of Sola Scriptura, by Keith Mathison. You may be surprised that this first book on my list is by a Reformed author, defending Sola Scriptura. But I want you all to know that when I attack Sola Scriptura, I am not attacking a straw man or false concept. This man does a fine job nuancing it in a manner that accords with the awareness of history that the most sophisticated Protestants endeavor to have. His purpose is to distinguish "Solo Scriptura" ("me and the Holy Spirit and the Bible") from "Sola Scriptura." (a more historically-informed view he says, held by the first Reformers, and Church Fathers) The attack on "Solo Scriptura" is absolutely devastating; no Catholic apologist could make it better. That's why every Catholic who is able should read and understand this book. True, he destroys his own position unwittingly, but hey, Truth does that.

Book 2: A Father Who Keeps His Promises, by Scott Hahn. This should be read, if one is Reformed, in conjunction with Far As The Curse Is Found, by Michael Williams, an old teacher of mine. You can see that the story of redemption is pretty much the same; it's what we do with it in response that determines the contours of our separations as Christians. You will find Dr. Hahn engaging and sympathetic if you are Reformed, because he was Reformed himself.

Book 3: The Lamb's Supper, by Scott Hahn. Not so much a work of apologetics as a primer on the eschatological hope and fulfillment of the Mass, it does pretty conclusively establish a link between Passover and the Eucharist, which is important if one's disagreement with the Catholic Church on the Eucharist in any way hinges on a more pronounced discontinuity between those two rites.

Book 4: Upon This Rock, by Stephen Ray. If I had to pick one book to say, "See! The Catholic Church is not crazy!" this is the one. You cannot make the case any stronger in so short and readable a way. Which is not to say there are no problems with the book. Ray sounds like a man who's been arguing with hateful and stupid people for a really long time. I had no firm opinions at the time, so the "edge" on this book seems meant for someone else. But the best parts of this book are the bonanza of quotations from the Church Fathers. This book has bishops and priests yelling, "Yahtzee!" and high-fiving for no good reason. (Except converts.)

Book 5: The Russian Church and the Papacy, by Vladimir Soloviev (edited by Ray Ryland). This abridged version of a longer work addresses the Eastern schism by way of a look at the Russian Church. Soloviev believes that the ineffective ministrations of the clergy in Russia and the Slavic world generally are caused by their entanglement in worldly affairs, and in fact believes that the whole schism was caused by those earthly powers. Accordingly, he argues for reunion with the Pope. This book certainly murders the notion that to be Catholic is to surrender to a Western cultural captivity. For that reason alone, we all owe him a debt.

Book 6: The Early Papacy, by Adrian Fortescue (edited by Alcuin Reid). This book confronts various challenges to papal primacy, most notably in my mind the notion that Petrine primacy could be one of honor but not jurisdiction. He reads like Lewis. It's a joy to read this short, punchy book. It takes you up through Chalcedon in 451.

Book 7: The Faith Of The Early Fathers, by William A. Jurgens. This is a source-book of patristic excerpts. This shows both continuity and the vagaries of human opinion, for those who believe that the Church is unaware of disagreement. It is a mistake to believe that even luminaries in theology are authorities in themselves; this shows their submission and rebellion, reinforcing the need for the Church.

Reference works, and books I never finished:

Fundamentals Of Catholic Dogma, by Ludwig Ott. This book explains and cites the sources of every dogma of the Catholic Church, through Vatican I. You need this book.

Catholic Christianity, by Peter Kreeft. Average person's guide to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Awesome.

Catechism of the Catholic Church. Up-to-date, authoritative guide to all things Catholic.

If you have any more questions, sheesh, get a degree. Ask a priest. Honestly. I'm a theologian, not a miracle-worker!

Blessed Are The Listmakers

5 Thoughts For Today

5. I'm not saying that I'm a desperate, sad excuse for a man, but let's just say that I no longer laugh at the Geordi LaForge Holodeck Debacle. (let the Trekkies understand)

4. I finally watched the Blake Shelton Not So Family Christmas. No kidding. You couldn't have done worse with Dawkins, New Age nuns, and an Asherah pole. Blake Fail.

3. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, 19, first-round draft pick out of the University of Kentucky, says he lost a game of one-on-one to Michael Jordan. Yes, that Jordan. He's 50.

2. It is my honor to offer my favorite thing to Jesus in union with His paschal suffering. That said, if I say, "You have the bridge, Number One" 1000 times and eat steak for 97 straight days, cut me some slack, OK?

1. I wouldn't say kindness and charm is everything, but let's call it the Scarlett Barrier, as in, "I don't care if you're Scarlett Johansson; you need to get outta here, before I freak out."