Saturday, July 20, 2013

Afternoon Haiku For The Day

What if today is
the beginning for glory,
not ordinary?


5 Thoughts

5. James Morrison.

4. Mint Condition.

3. James Taylor.

2. Kenneth Edmonds (let the reader understand).

1. George Strait.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Fred Noltie Is Amazing

I just can't thank him enough for this. It is not an apologetic for the Catholic Church as much as it forces us to really critically examine perspicuity, and whether we can hold it. Sola Scriptura--no matter how cleverly nuanced--utterly depends on the alleged perspicuity of Scripture. For my part, I saw all our separate Christian communities not first as a scandal--though it is--but as repositories for different interpretations of Scripture. It added fuel to the real question: Who is the arbiter of divine revelation? There are two choices: Either I am, or someone else is. In the absence of a visible community claiming to be the one Church, imbued with a gift of infallibility, (we'll get there) it would seem that the communities would just be shorthand for the arbitration the individual is doing anyway; he could do it without them; he could defer because he believes the community to truly teach what Scripture teaches. In either case, he discerns what Scripture says; he is the arbiter. It seems therefore that the only difference between Dr. Mathison and the various fundamentalists of the "me and my Bible" stripe are the number and type of conversation partners and conclusion(s) reached. That's what I mean by "Rob Bell with a bigger bookshelf." It's not guilt by association; it's making the point that with respect to the question, Rob Bell, Peter Leithart, Keith Mathison, et al. are doing the exact same thing: being the arbiter of what counts as orthodoxy, whether in history, or in Scripture with varying results, of course. In other words, to submit to any authority in a real way requires that there is no "provisionally" about it. And simply invoking the Holy Spirit changes little; He either guides me infallibly as I interpret the Scriptures, (whether I care a whit for the developments in history or not) or He guides the Church. I'm aware that all Christians use the word, but Catholics mean it differently: The Church is visible fundamentally; it is not "all regenerate Christians throughout the ages, holding the true faith. [as defined by me, or to whomever I'm deferring]"  And that was a thorny little problem, because I realized that I couldn't even define "orthodoxy" (eventually) without running into an organ of the Catholic Church, most immediately in the form of an ecumenical council. My faith has always been a faith received; it struck me right away that I could not be the arbiter of Scripture or of the witness of history; I have a lot of knowledge; I cannot deny that. But for all my searching of the Scriptures then or now, I cannot but rely on another. "I, by the Holy Spirit, declare that the Scripture says..." sounds as arrogant to me as I hope it does it does to you. But are not all our scattered communities (even just on the Protestant side) just collections of people saying that to each other? Unless one of them is in fact the one "Church," the one he was talking about in Matthew 16:18 (which as Protestants, we were not willing to say) then it's fruitless to talk about or have a visible church at all. The only credible way to talk about it is to say that our community, our visible church, is in some way visibly connected to the larger Church. But we know that isn't the case. As much as I appreciate "Unto this catholic visible Church Christ has given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life, to the end of the world: and does, by His own presence and Spirit, according to His promise, make them effectual thereunto" and, "The purest Churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error; and some have so degenerated, as to become no Churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan. Nevertheless, there shall be always a Church on earth to worship God according to His will" (Westminster Confession of Faith, XXV, paragraphs 3 and 5, respectively) it's a cop-out; they realize that they have no fruitful visible connection with those other "Churches," and their judgment as to the purity or not of them only matters insofar as they speak for Christ Himself, which leads us back to the nature of our authorities, and their authority over us.
If it is at all coherent to speak of a "Mere Christianity," we must come to terms with the fact that the balance of it relies on the Catholic Church. It is comforting to live under the delusion that one can obviously use Scripture to arrive at the orthodox Christology of Chalcedon--and even rightly celebrate it as a high point of human history--until such a time as a fool uses Scripture to deny it. You can only say he is "obviously wrong" with a principled reason. Both the Catholic and the fool will accuse you of being ad hoc, and they would be right. When the desire to be both principled and safe from damnable error collide, a man's heart beats Catholic. I have more to say, but this is enough for now.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

El Haiku de Noches

My cross is lifted;
the time, as a prison cold
binds me no longer!

I'd Be A Liturgical Music Fascist, Except...

I can hang with St. Thomas and his hierarchy of the good; I am willing to say that sacred music is sacred music, and that Bach is more fitting than Matt Maher for Holy Mass (but seriously, I love Matt Maher). I actually expect to find out when I study it that even what goes on in good parishes (AKA faithful to the Church's Magisterium) is contrary to the rubrics and the intent of Vatican II.

But I am not one of those people who equates a perfectly executed and dignified liturgy with hearts that are aflame for God. Duh.

And that means--Heaven help me--you're darn skippy I sang right along with those contemporary songs last night. I knew every single one of them, and not just because they're popular or catchy. We got saved with those; we love Jesus because of them.

And frankly, most Catholics need to start at the very beginning--right there--anyway.

So sue me, the convert. I'm no traditionalist.

"Mommy, Where Does Dogma Come From?"

If God is our Father, and the Church (however conceived) is our mother, then she ought to be able to tell us exactly what God said. That's why an invisible Church is so stupid: You only have yourself to ask, (points 5 and 4) and your ecclesial conversation partners (your tradition) can't tell you what God said, and they don't want to. They can see the Tyranny of the Plausible as well as I can; I can appreciate the desire to link Christians as well as we can, but if we push it too far (like with a false concept of the invisible Church) we put the very concept of revelation and its knowable content in serious doubt. When I saw the reality of that doubt as the logical outcome of the concept, and its operative principle, Sola Scriptura, I officially had a problem. Say it with me now: "If God didn't say it, it doesn't really matter." Which is to say that even as a Protestant, I did not believe that the Sacred Scriptures had more than one meaning, with respect to truth that we needed to know. But the very concept of "Church" I had demanded that I affirm this. To say, "There is a real spiritual presence in the Supper, but not a physical one" or "Christ is physically present in, with, and under the elements" are not mere decorations to the doctrine of God; they are real claims about what God has done, and who He is. Brethren, if this really is the stuff of adiaphora, why insist on one or the other? The Reformed and the Lutheran, respectively, do not believe this, however. Many more examples abound. So, we must make a difficult choice: Either we relativize the subject-matter in dispute, or we tell the disputants to show their cards, as it were.

But what I myself saw was two things: The real basis for this misguided impulse to unity were things decided before the separation(s); that is, we may call each other brothers because the tie that binds did not originate in the Reformation. And that we cannot settle, under the Protestant paradigm, that which separates us. Given those things, it does not make sense to cling to doctrines and principles that are not part of that common heritage.

The wise course is to inquisit the basis of that common heritage, to take into ourselves anything that helps to discern it. If you read my post on resources, and the resources, you'll see that it comes back to The Three Things.

I have to once again reject the notion that we cannot know what God needs us to know. It has been offered as some kind of defense for the fact of Christian disunity. Yet even an ill-formed reflection would show that I ought not hold any one particular thing as it pertains to the doctrine of God without knowing that God said it. I can't simply throw up my hands and say, "Well, God said some-such in Jesus pretty close to what I believe." If you preach the gospel to me, I don't want to hear the watered-down version of what God said, with a few man-made speculations thrown in. If God didn't say it, it doesn't really matter. Who sent you? That's what matters first. Ultimately, that's why I'm Catholic.

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

I think that one of the great harms in our society done by our lack of virtue is that our noble principles become empty words. The principles don't really work unless they are practiced habits of mind and will that we come back to in the face of emotion.

Let me get to the point: If your friend were accused of something horrible, wouldn't you want the people involved to practice this habit? You see, Fr. Jiang is my friend. He was also my confessor almost exclusively for the first year I was in the Church. A man who encouraged me like he has could not do these things. A man who does these things does not speak so warmly of Jesus like Father Joseph does. If I'm wrong, then I'm wrong, and he would need much more prayer (and a different kind) than someone like Judy Block-Jones is willing to offer the person Fr. Joseph Jiang. Have you prayed once for Father? Have you prayed once for the Archbishop? Because even if all these allegations were true, they would need our prayers.

I do know that I have prayed for this girl and her family. I don't know them, and I don't know the circumstances of this case. But it is my habit of mind to assume the best of all parties, unless and until I know otherwise.

Innocent until proven guilty is really a principle of charity. Love. The highest of the theological virtues we cherish as Christians. Do you see charity in the comments? Is it charitable to assume the Archbishop--the figure of Christ among us--covered things up? Are we Catholics, or do we play-act at church sometimes to achieve some other goal? How about it, SNAP?

Sexual abuse of children is a horrible crime. I think all people of good will agree that we all should do whatever we can to root it out. But I am a Christian; I do not attack the very Body of Christ in my zeal for justice. If there is evidence of any of this, bring it forth. This trial has been delayed multiple times. Why? Let the truth come out! We will not know how to help anyone until we know the truth.

I do say also that if these accusations were offered in bad faith, it is as grave a sin as anything that has been alleged.

An AM Haiku

Lord of all that is,
I know You; waiting, watching
through the smiles of friends.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

An Afternoon For A Good Haiku

Dear Father Martin,
Perhaps you were so angry,
the Word was hidden.

Haiku For The Morning

Mother of the Word,
Guardian of faithful ones;
Our guide in sorrow.

A Haiku For The Night

A mighty power
Against which no devils stand;
God's own heart sings it.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Love Wins

God is Love. He can heal any pain, if it pleases Him. He has answered my prayers more than I could ask or imagine. I knew that agape was greater than death, but I admit that I doubted it these last 18 months.

These errors were all mine, but I know that there will be joy abounding to make up for all that was lost.

Never give up; never close the door of your heart, because you never know when God will work a miracle. May God who is Love be praised forever and ever!

Welcome back, my friend.

An Afternoon Haiku

That the joy of now
Has a meaning beyond now;
I am more than that.

A Haiku For The Day

Broken man, crying
Prays through the tears, expectant;
Time will heal his wounds.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Elephant In The Minivan

Oh, wait. You don't have a minivan. Because you're married, and not having kids. Let's get this out of the way: Contraception is wrong. Look, I get it: You're not Catholic, and you don't care what the Pope says. Feel better now? It's still wrong.

Let me take a moment to express my sympathy and prayers for those who cannot conceive, whether due to temporary circumstances, or permanent ones. We all have paternity and maternity built right into us. We long for this. In fact, I'm glad this is still present in a very flawed way in gay and lesbian couples, harmful as it may be.

Exactly how are you going to fulfill that mandate to "be fruitful and multiply" if you are blocking your own fruitfulness? How are you demonstrating your fidelity to the teaching that "Children are a blessing from the Lord" if you don't have any, and are intentionally preventing it?

Someone was lamenting and joking that Facebook was turning into "Mom-book" with all the baby pictures. I don't mind. To be perfectly blunt, it means we're not going to die.

This is not Sex and the City. Both men and women want to be loved as deep as love can go. How romantic is it to say, "I want to use you for my own sexual pleasure"? "I love the design of your body...for me"? Just think about it.

It's So Simple, Really

5 Thoughts For Today

5. Creation is better than destruction.

4. You can win a Nobel Prize, and still not know what you are talking about.

3. Maybe "capitalism" is not what we're going for. But I don't have a word for "The humane opposite of socialism" yet.

2. I hate the All-Star Break.

1. Sorry, Molly. I won't be making it tonight.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

It's Time

The RCIA programs are beginning to get warmed up. You've been lurking about the Catholic world for some time. Perhaps you've acquired some resources; maybe you've even read a few. But we're certainly at that point where you've learned all you can know on your own. Stop being a candy-buns; join the class. They'll even give you a Bible/New Testament and a Catechism. Do what you like; there's no coercion. But you owe it to yourself to hear it from the horse's mouth. You think R.C. Sproul or James White will tell you what you need to know about us and what we believe? (No offense.)

What? Are ya scared?

I Was Thinking Again

5 Thoughts For Today

5. I liked South Pacific, in spite of the innuendo.

4. Glad I'm not a Zimmerman juror right now.

3. Rest In Peace, Cory Monteith.

2. The best team in baseball is still in a funk.

1. It matters little what you say; it's what you do that defines you.