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Showing posts from July 28, 2013

It's Back

Let's talk about this . I've never been a free-wheeling evangelical. I believed in Christ at the age of 18. I spent some time in Churches of Christ; I found my way to the Reformed. I can even say that I was the theologian before I was a Christian. In my senior year of high school I studied European history. One cannot help but note that the disputes between Protestants and Catholics form a large part of what drove that history forward. Simply out of curiosity and intellectual honesty I delved into those issues as best I could at the time, because if it mattered to people, then it should matter to me as someone who aims to chronicle the lives of people. All that is to say that at no point in the last 15 years have I been casual about doctrine. After college, I spent six years at a Reformed seminary learning intently something that purports to be the very historic Protestantism that is the antidote to allegedly becoming Catholic. There's only one problem: I'm Catholic.

Don't Mess With My Guys

My reply to the subtle suggestion on a blog that the great C. John Collins ("Captain Jack") is some liberal crypto-feminist, perverting the Scriptures: "I had the distinct honor of sitting under Dr. Collins as a student. I'll not mince words: Only an idiot would question Captain Jack's fidelity to the Scriptures, and to the Word made flesh. Most of the people who say things about him aren't fit to carry his jock-strap, if he has one." I'm Catholic, but you better not mess with my guys.

The Rosary Chronicles

I admit that everything I'm about to tell you is entirely subjective. You would have to become convinced that such a devotion is not contrary to the word of God. Ultimately the only way this takes place is by trusting the Church who gives the devotion to us. I have prayed the Rosary regularly since I was received into the Catholic Church. I have found that it is a comfortable place to express all my prayers, and not simply the ones that are contained within this devotion. I am tempted like anyone else not to pray, but I have begun to enjoy the contemplation of it, and the unexpected moments that come with praying it consistently. For reasons I do not understand, I have been drawn to the Sorrowful Mysteries for quite some time. I have begun to suspect that I continue to contemplate the Sorrowful Mysteries for some reason that I do not yet see, or some person I am aiding that perhaps I have not met. Yesterday, in the middle of the fourth mystery, I felt distinctly that t

I Don't Care What Millenials Want From The Church

What is the Church, anyway? Aren't you just being an ecclesial consumerist, in any case, deciding what the "Church" believes and how to harmonize the wildly disparate theologies of whatever "reformers" you happen to prefer? Just asking. That's what Andrew was talking about. Well, he was pointing out the ambiguity introduced by Sola Scriptura, and what it does to the visible institutions of theological control when the "Church" becomes fundamentally invisible. The trial wasn't about Leithart at all; it's just a little picture of what happens when the real arbiter (Leithart) of what Scripture says collides with the visible institutions who pretend to be that arbiter. As Andrew Preslar had written elsewhere, the other name of this individualism is "ecclesial fallibility." You have to replace ecclesial infallibity with personal interpretive infallibility (fundamentalism) or you end up in agnosticism. Stellman took great pains to ke

It Was A Dark And Stormy Night

Hey Jason Stellman, I hope your novel doesn't start out like that. On the other hand, this culture has quite the penchant to worship novelty, and to make an idol of cleverness. As I've said before, they call them clich├ęs because they are true. I wrote a short story a while back and I realized it wasn't over, so I kept writing. I'm in the middle of the seventh part, and I think it will be 20 parts when it is done. It really wasn't meant to be a little reflection on my conversion story, but that's kind of how it turned out. I need to keep going; it is so easy to say you're going to do something and then let it fizzle out. If I intend to be a writer, then I have to write. I don't know if it's good; it probably isn't. Still, I have never written fiction before. Once I started writing this story, I wrote several terrible short stories in rapid succession. I think one of my annoying tendencies as a writer is to inject myself in

While "The Party Of The Poor" Bribes The Middle Class...

One person needs about $800 a month. And a little help. If our "assistance" programs aren't providing at least this, I'm telling you, we're not actually providing a safety net at all. I paid off a car and got a college degree with that. And I'll have an advanced degree soon, God willing. So I may not be your typical conservative. The reality is, though, that's without any grievous moral mistakes or habits that cost. I have a great support system, a good moral foundation, and a couple credit cards. What if someone else isn't so lucky or smart? We're going to have to be the kind of conservatives who don't freak out at the phrase, "direct cash payments" in some instances, even as we continue to insist that the gravy train stops somewhere. Read this . Go on. A person with a permanent disability is exactly the kind of person who knows the balance between a "culture of dependence" and self-reliance. Even as some self-styled "

Ockham Called; He Wants His Nominalism Back

Let's talk about this . I do not agree that there is only one hero in the Bible. I also do not agree that your kids are becoming atheists because they are burned out on trying to obey. Frankly, your kids are burned out because the theological system that you and they labor under fosters pride. Some of them will never escape the "iron couch of introspection" and will forever be the victims of their own sinful self-awareness, because grace is only favor; it is neither required nor likely that anyone will become more holy by believing that the only reason they are holy is because the Father looks at them and sees Christ. The others will cut out the middleman; if they are ever and always reckoned righteous by an alien righteousness that has nothing to do with them, why waste the time and effort becoming more holy? They'll be antinomians, and they'll probably enjoy themselves in a certain sense. In any case, they're all proud. The gospel is not, "God lo

Actually, The Arrogance Is...

There are two aspects of arrogance in this entire discussion about the Church. One is the evangelical presumption that an individual has the right to define the Church in its essence; the other is that there is anything "historical" about the visible community that one happens to be inhabiting. I can remember many discussions that start out, "The Church should…" I realized that no one had bothered to stop and define the term. We took it for granted that our dialogue partners were "orthodox" in some way. Of course, we didn't know what we meant by that, either. The individualism at the heart of this whole project is so pervasive that people don't recognize it. If I cite a few old guys, and put them together in a way that seems coherent to me, I am all of a sudden historically aware, and my church is part of the "historic church," whatever that means. If people are really leaving evangelicalism for Orthodoxy and Catholicism I hope it is

The Vengeance Factor

5 Trek-Inspired Thoughts (Just to be clear, the titles of these posts correspond to the episode titles from Star Trek: The Next Generation.) 5. Seriously, Riker, you have no restraint. At all. Then again, I'm more like you than not. 4. Isn't it funny how talking solves everything, at least for the writers? 3. If your vocation is killing people, you made a mistake in the discernment process. 2. Is there anything more awkward and tortured than watching Riker and Troi pretend they don't care what the other does romantically, and that they were "good friends" for 7 years? (Which says that the acting on this show was pretty good.) 1. Why couldn't Riker just knock the antagonist unconscious?

The Church Is...

One of the things that is question-begging and circular about the Protestant definition of the church is that one cannot offer one's rejection of an ecumenical Council on the grounds that it was not ecumenical by redefining the term. It had never been the case that all the bishops in the world were present for an ecumenical Council. It is also not out of the ordinary for the Church not to seat and not to listen to those bishops who, although true bishops have been judged to be in schism from the Church. That's why it's not unfair to judge Luther according to the Catholic hermeneutical paradigm, because that's the paradigm Luther himself was living under. It is a paradigm where the ecumenical councils are true as such and must accepted without reservation according to the terms set by the Church. When we are criticizing the practical outworking of Sola Scriptura, and wondering about the ecclesiological and dogmatic implications of the principle, it is not from a pla

So There I Was

5 Thoughts For Today 5. It's not unusual to be loved by anyone. 4. Most of you just pictured a short man dancing, didn't you? 3. Don't fight it; you're just hurting yourself. 2. Has anyone ever stopped to wonder if Klondike bars are actually good enough to embarrass yourself? 1. There's a light, a certain kinda light...


I had gone last night; it was essentially Sunday Mass, since it counted as such. The readings were today's Sunday readings. I went again this afternoon, and I think I understand why. Last night, the priest asked why we pray, given the fact that God doesn't change. Good question. But the answer is partly this: we need to change. I am seeing more and more that with respect to how we respond to God's grace, there is only one right answer. The troubles and trials may not change for the better, but we will. And today, the priest said that God was a God of laughter. I must confess, it is hard to laugh at times. But He is Abba, Daddy, and it is hard not to laugh when you are in Daddy's arms and you know you are safe.