Saturday, July 27, 2013

This Just In: Conservatives Think Gun Control Is Stupid

Because it is. Last time I checked, criminals do not obey laws. The very definition of "criminal." And the common folk, not wanting to be criminals, will obey your ill-conceived, emotion-saturated law, thereby rendering themselves completely defenseless when some nut-bar goes on a rampage. But hey, it's only lives, right?

Sometimes, all you can do to stop the danger is shoot back. That's what the police would be doing. So obviously, the problem is not guns. All together now: Abuse does not negate proper use.

And if you're wondering: Yes, I'm willing to live with the suicides, accidental deaths, and the like that are oh-so-manipulatingly added to the gun violence statistics. Because that's what freedom really means: the possibility that someone will use it wrongly.

I don't know what level of vigilance or fear would be inappropriate for a Christian to have. I choose at this time not to exercise that right. But you're darn skippy, I will defend that Constitutional right for others as long as I'm alive. A disarmed populace is an enslaved one. Thank you, and good day.

Deep Thoughts, By JK

5 Thoughts For Today

5. When Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) drops Ann/Anya off at the corner, I said to my friends, "Shake it off, Greg!" That was hilarious.

4. Your Ridiculously Interesting Read Of The Day.

3. You were right; it wasn't as sad this time. Whole new read of the situation. She got to be "normal" for a day. That's something, right? And I never noticed how authoritative she was when she returned.

2. Obviously, the writer(s) of the second season episode, "The Dauphin," from Star Trek: The Next Generation, were intentionally evoking Roman Holiday.

1. The only thing Hume destroys is his credibility.

Friday, July 26, 2013

At The Movies

5 More Thoughts

5. Audrey obviously knew how to torture the guys, but Katharine is the better acting Hepburn. (no relation)

4. Cary Grant turned down Sabrina. Did you know that? Bad move, Mr. Grant. One of several.

3. Speaking of that, Hollywood actors today are no more sexually immoral than in the Golden Age. The difference is, the culture has shifted to be more like them.

2. But the old movies are better.

1. So is the acting.

Everywhere Around The World

5 Thoughts For Today

5. That skepticism cuts off the branch you're standing on, Johnny-Bob.

4. Making a firm distinction between the God of the Philosophers and the God of the Bible? Why don't you just wear a sign that says, "I am a fideist!" It would save time.

3. All together now: "Grace builds on nature; it doesn't destroy it."

2. I started looking for a visible Church because an invisible one has no dogma.

1. What is an ecumenical council? Strangely enough, one of the more spiritually edifying questions to ask yourself.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Yes, Please...

5 Thoughts For Today

5. Self-absorbed people blame others and deflect attention from their flaws; the humble person seeks to improve when he receives criticism.

4. Pray for us.

3. Christ is LORD.

2. Catechism Day 3. Missed yesterday, so...

1. I'd say you'd better go down that rabbit trail, and attempt to explain.

This Is Crazy, But...

5 Thoughts For Today

5. I'm one of those people who likes Neil Diamond, I think. Not in an ironic way.

4. The Isley Brothers' decision to sue Michael Bolton over "Love Is A Wonderful Thing" was incredibly lame. Everybody loves the Bolton version; those who say they don't are filthy liars. Dear Spotify, I will continue to watch the YouTube video with impunity until this little dust-up is corrected.

3. If I were Ronald Isley, I'd be content to be forever known as "Mr. Biggs," the creepy kingpin guy from the "Down Low" video.

2. Never leave your loved ones alone with R. Kelly, dude.

1. What I've been saying is that if the Magisterium proposed for belief that St. Peter liked to fly around on a fuzzy purple elephant while in Rome, (leaving aside that this would never happen) the proper Catholic response would be, "Yes and Amen."

The Outcome Of My Investigation vs. The End Of All Striving

In my post on dogma, I was attempting to articulate how the primacy of the individual as represented by Sola Scriptura would impact the knowledge and the use of dogma within ecclesial communities. To say once again that Mathison has failed to distinguish between solo and sola is actually to say that the visible community has ceased to function as an organ for the communication of divine truth, at least in terms of the individual as one who submits unequivocally to its dictates.


That is, my so-called Tyranny of the Plausible becomes a tyranny only insofar as each competing theology is derived from the same hermeneutical process, using the same tools, with the same starting assumptions. It is a restatement of Fred's problem, from a slightly more global ecclesiological viewpoint. The Noltie Conundrum, as we have termed it, asks about the truth value of a particular set of theological assertions, given the reality of theological pluralism. As I continue to reflect in a hopefully fruitful way upon this problem, my contribution is to assume the good faith horn of that dilemma, and then take stock of where we are. The other horn of the dilemma leaves in play the notion that the individual could arbitrate the theological problems. My own experience is of having a faith that was received, or better said, a faith that was taught. In such a case, the authority of the presumptive teachers is precisely at issue.


But the reason the tu quoque is inapt as an objection to the Catholic Church is that investigating the claims of the Catholic Church using reason is quite distinct from submitting to the Catholic Church and doing theology as a son of the Catholic Church. The best possible outcome of an investigation of the claims of the Catholic Church is to say that such claims are reasonable. It is not inherently irrational to conclude that the Catholic Church is the church that Christ founded. In fact, it may be irrational to conclude otherwise. Yet this is not synonymous with, "I prefer the  Catholic Church" or, "the Catholic Church agrees with me". A person who talks this way may be Catholic by name, but has not fully understood and accepted what it means to be Catholic. Such a person is also vulnerable to some discovery that would cause him to withdraw his affirmation of any or all Catholic doctrines of which he is aware. That is not faith, and that is not the basis for anything the Catholic Church claims for itself or those who claim to be its members. When I became Catholic, I used the fact that the Catholic Church's claims were reasonable (and that other claims were not consistent with the evidence, or were hideously implausible) to decide to become a member of the Catholic Church. After having decided, my relationship to that evidence is very different. I may use my reason to bring order to it, to explain how the data coheres, but I do not subject it to a rationalistic scrutiny, as though its truth were in doubt. Rather, the truths of Catholic faith, given the authority of the Church which handed them on, are the irrevocable starting-points for future reflection and possible development in theology. It always seems a little odd when people ask me which parts of Catholic faith I deny, because the question makes no sense in true Catholic ears. I cannot deny that which is my only hope in this life or the next. For the Catholic, the Church is itself an object of faith in a secondary sense; we cling to her as the mother Christ gave her to be.
That which is common to all Christians stands outside competing paradigms as a monument to the faithfulness of the incarnate Word. It remained for me to discern where exactly that commonality originated, and to forthrightly ask if I stood in the proper relation to that origin-point, which is in fact the Church, by the mercy of Christ. The Church is not an idealized concept into which I pour my spiritual hopes and dreams; it is in fact the visible, hierarchical supernatural society intended by Christ. The corporate reality of sin is no less real than the personal, yet our mistake was to assume that the indefectible truth could not be communicated through humanity. Divine and human are not opposites, as Our Lord demonstrates, though an almost infinite chasm exists between them. I say "almost" because God wills them to be united in Christ and in the Church. This is why I asked myself if the Council of Trent could be true, despite any number of failures to embody Truth. That goes for all ecumenical councils, before and after. There is nothing wrong with what God said; there is something rather wrong with us.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Heretical And Anti-Christian? A Few Thoughts

Someone said to me, "I did not say there was no grace in Catholicism, but even an iota of weight placed on one's own merit and deeds is what is heretical and anti-Christian." This Facebook comment really got me thinking. It didn't make me upset, and in fact it never does, but I confess that it pushes me to articulate why we need to answer the real question behind the question: by what authority (or rather, whose authority) does anyone decide or declare the doctrine of God? That is of course the ultimate question, but as we can see, one could ask two equally important sub-questions that are relevant: "What is 'heresy'?"and "What is 'anti-Christian'?" Let's use the definition of heresy provided by the Catechism of the Catholic Church. You'll find it in paragraph 2089. It reads, "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." I would say that's a pretty solid definition, even if we do not agree that the Catholic Church is the church who should be doing the defining. I draw from the context of my friend the objector that "anti-Christian" means, "opposed to Christ and his message of good news". Let's leave aside the unstated premise in the objection that any participation in his own salvation leaves a man opposing the free grace of God. I can say in brief that no one who says they believe this actually follows it in practice. If they did, they are not the sorts of people that you want to practice your biblical Christianity alongside.

In any case, I would like to ask this person how he came to be entrusted with the fullness of truth in such a way that he knew I was in heresy. Even if we set aside the obvious point that the community from whence he came has yet to show--and in fact cannot demonstrate--that it is the Church of Christ, able to bind the consciences of all Christians, there still remains a yet more troubling point. Even if we ignored this one community and its presumed authority to declare the doctrine of God at least to those who bind themselves to it, this man has not demonstrated that he possesses the authority or the ability to arbitrate that question. If I may take a moment to boast for the sake of the argument, I doubt he has as much education in the hermeneutical sciences as I do. But even if he did,--and this is the sheer force of what we call the Noltie Conundrum--we could not settle the question, in all likelihood. It seems to me that the ever dwindling space of what we call "conservative Protestantism" is barely subsisting on a gentleman's agreement not to argue about that which we would consider dogmatic and non-negotiable points of doctrine. The primacy of the idea that the church is fundamentally invisible supersedes even that of a dogmatic principle within those communities. The thing that goes hand-in-hand with this concept of an invisible church is the individualism that is at the very heart of the principle of Sola Scriptura. It is that individualism that creates an irreconcilable tension between this the fundamental principle, and the visible community of whatever stripe, who on some level is attempting to act in the name of Christ with real authority. Unless the people doing the defining of doctrine are the Church, outside of which there is no possibility of salvation, it frankly doesn't matter what conclusions they come to. It is unlikely that any person reading the Scriptures and trying to do the will of God realizes that practically, "Scripture" means, "Scripture according to me," but we're going to have to face up to that problem, whether we want to or not. Most of the people who read this blog are not fundamentalists or positivists in hermeneutics; they do not believe that in consulting Scripture to do the will of God that God has uniquely infallibly spoken to them. It is in that very act of humility of asking someone else to help them interpret the Scriptures that the question of history--or we might say, continuity and authority--becomes acute and must be answered. If "creedal Christianity" is the real remedy to not only the arrogance of individual interpretation but the real error that follows from it, we must eventually concede that creedal Christianity is Catholic Christianity. I accepted her authority because no amount of education in the science of hermeneutics or in the content of the Bible itself produces that which we call "classic Christian orthodoxy" in the Protestant sense. That orthodoxy is Catholic, and the ad hoc reliance upon it to maintain some semblance of order is either out of ignorance or fear. In any case, the implications of this individualism will no doubt destroy the vestiges of whatever gives this "historic Protestantism" a surface plausibility.

You Were Right, Tar Heels

Grrrrr. I want to punch someone. Preferably him.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Fun With The Catechism

I'm trying to be more disciplined and systematic in my approach to Catholic theology. I have determined that if I read 26 pages per day, I can read the entire Catechism in a month. I was trying to be cool and read it while listening to Mahler's Symphony No. 2, which I listened to twice, but I switched to country-pop. If I start singing Diamond Rio or Dan Seals during catechesis, all bets are off.

Mahler sounds like a movie soundtrack. I bet Jerry Goldsmith liked Mahler. Is it wrong if I feel like I'm watching a movie?

This other weird thing happened earlier, where I was listening to Itzhak Perlman and I had this urge to listen to Streisand. Is that weird? Is that a Jewish thing? Don't you judge me; Streisand is better than you think.

I Stand Corrected (I Think)

Ahem. Party on, then, married women with child! (If you want to.) I'm not married, but that's kind of a relief. I thought dudes had to suck it up and take one for the team for most of the nine months. [Maybe they still do, but not for safety reasons.--ed.] Yeah. Anyway...

The Duggars

Good point. Look at all these great kids! I fail to see how less people on the Earth is a good thing. Do you even know how amazing it is to be a human being? To expand our knowledge, to learn all that is learnable? There are so many facets to the human experience, so much that one person adds to it, I find it hard to even understand the counter-argument.

STOP HATING YOUR BODY! If this is what it does, just go with it. Mrs. Duggar obviously is a picture of the Church: wise, yet with an enduring youthfulness and energy. Am I missing something here?

You say, "There are problems with this theology." You don't say? I've got problems with your theology, too, but we're still friends and siblings in the Lord, yes? I don't know their theology well, but they've got "Be fruitful and multiply" down pretty well.

And the haters are not "pro-choice" at all; they're pro-death. Let's call it what it is.

I'm no OB/GYN, obviously, but people can't have sex for a large portion of the pregnancy; before we call Mr. Duggar a perverted freak or something, let's marvel and celebrate the chastity and self-possession the man actually must have, to have so many children.

Just my two cents.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Royal Haiku

From your cousins here,
I say, "Welcome and best thoughts!"
to the future King. 

So I Said

5 Thoughts For Today

5. The Lutherans are still enthusiastic. (let the reader understand)

4. I am still a snark-face.

3. Ironically, people defending Obama makes me snarky.

2. No, government is not a bunch of space aliens, unwelcome and sinister. They are a bunch of amoral busybodies, unwelcome and sinister.

1. Worst President Ever: Teddy Roosevelt. Discuss.

Midday Haiku

Mystery revealed,
Kingdom promises come true,
for Gentiles, true Light.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Haiku For The Dark

No matter the time,
I don't fear to call You, the
Friend for all seasons.

Evening Haiku

Waiting, eager, I
prepare myself to receive
You, Lord Jesus Christ.

Sunday Haiku

Into the morass
Of human folly profane
steps Jesus, again.