Friday, October 04, 2013

Poll Vault

In a previous poll, I wanted to know the religious affiliation (or lack thereof) of you, my 3 readers. So that poll question gave "Other" as an option. I found it curious how popular that was, because it tied with "Catholic". I suppose I could have mentioned other religions, but that's dumb. Come to a Christian/Catholic blog, and you ain't gonna find a whole bunch of sympathy for The Flying Spaghetti Monster, or whatever the kids are into these days.

The follow-up poll was:

"Other" means:

A. I will morally preen, pretending we have no biases/distinctives at all.

B. atheist.

C. pagan.

D. agnostic or undecided.

Winning that poll with a whopping 2 votes was "A". If you want the truth, I wanted to offend with that answer. I think of it as the Restorationist answer. It worked. I hope it did make you mad. I hope it gets you thinking about the arbiter/receiver problem, and frankly, if it is even a reasonable supposition that, from a Protestant/Sola Scriptura paradigm, "I am right, and others are wrong". The sheer magnitude of the pluralism, given the same paradigmatic assumptions and tools, gives this problem its weight. Do not mistake me: this is not a plea for unity, except perhaps very indirectly. It is rather like this: "Given that my hermeneutics are neither better nor worse than theirs, AND they also claim to be guided by the Holy Spirit, such that I have no real cause to question their sincerity, what does this say theologically and dogmatically about God?" You can create a magisterium of sorts of expertise and scholarship; you can ignore it; you can also vastly oversell both the extent and the basis of the alleged unity. The only other option, besides some combination of these three, is to ask, "What if the premise(s) is/are faulty?" What if the Scripture was never meant to be used in this way?" Yikes. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Opposites: Prayer And Pride

"No, we are not as strong/As we think we are." So said Rich Mullins. And he was more right than we care to admit. I was in a jam. A rut. It wasn't going to sound like a nun's confession, OK? It's been said that hearing the confessions of nuns is like being stoned with popcorn.

Have you ever said, "God, I don't want to need you as much as I do?" Pride goeth, and all that. And that's stupid. I also heard that communion with God is our greatest happiness. You know how it is, though. Sometimes, prayer fills our deepest longings, or so it seems. Other times, it's just a thing on a checklist. You hear a little voice that says, "Don't worry about it. You're doing well. Take a break."

I'm one of those people who wants to be strong. In control. In charge. I was not in control as I sat before the Lord's priest. Ironically, the biggest thing I have learned since I was received into the Church is that I am nothing. Every time I hear someone say that the Catholic Church practices a religion of self-effort, I just want to laugh in his or her face. Ha! Come in and find out. Are you kidding? True enough to say that we don't believe the exaltation of Christ requires the negation of self. Ah, but you do find out that self isn't much to write home about. Self needs grace, or self is doomed.

I don't know what I thought would happen, but I'm one of those people who really despises himself, in a way. There is always a part of me who thinks I will land in Hell on a technicality. I know there are no technicalities in God's case, but you still wonder.

He heard my words, and he put his hand on my shoulder. The one who is in persona Christi put his hand on my shoulder. Christ put his hand on my shoulder. Do you still want to know why we confess to a priest?

I don't want to need you as much as I do, but I'll take it if you are offering, Jesus. "My one defense/my righteousness/O God, how I need You!"

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

5 Thoughts On Health Care

5. If third-party involvement via insurance obscures the true cost of medical procedures, why does it make sense to coerce the purchasing of insurance?

4. If people feel free to spend much more on care when it isn't their money, the only reasonable solution is to put those decisions in their hands. Your money, your choices.

3. I agree with "liberals" on this point: There is no quantifiable limit on demand, which is the desire to stay alive.

2. Hearing Obama lecture us on the evils of Big Business is like hearing Pinochet lecturing on human rights.

1. Let me get this straight: You want the same people who haven't passed a budget in 5 years to effectively control one-sixth of the economy? I'm sure it'll all work fine.

5 Piquant Thoughts For Today

5. Isn't it funny? Those progressive types who prattle on about conservatives who don't know the difference between socialism and communism are socialists or communists.

4. My response: Either way, it's bad.

3. It's not like a have a political science degree or anything. Oh, wait.

2. The irony of it all is that I'd be the most 'liberal' Republican you've ever seen. But you're right, I'm a reactionary.

1. Silly me. I want our policies to work, and our people to flourish.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

The Madeleine Stowe All-Stars

Some people are lucky, you know? They age, but not really. And since actresses are better-looking than the rest of us, anyway, I figured that it merits special attention. I'm still a young man (kind of) so it seemed like a worthy endeavor, if a little crass. On the other hand still, no one makes the list on looks alone. You have to contribute in some way to my special geekdom. And of course, no one under the age of 40 qualifies.

Without further ado:

Madeleine Stowe. Best known for her starring role in The Last of the Mohicans, Stowe usually turns whatever she stars in into something awesome. Morton Kondracke won't let just anybody play his beloved wife, either.

Kelly Preston. Easy call. Fine, she's a former model, but she's in my second-favorite baseball movie, For Love Of The Game. Done and done.

Marisa Tomei. Marisa rose to prominence in 1992, winning an Academy Award for My Cousin Vinny. And Wild Hogs is hilarious.

Francesca Annis. Ms. Annis is immortalized forever in the film adaptation of the science-fiction classic novel, Dune, as the Lady Jessica.

Julia Roberts. Considering the fact that she played a prostitute in her most famous role, making the character sympathetic, and single-handedly creating an entire genre, (romantic comedies) she had to make this list. She also co-starred in the most underrated film of all time (Hook).

Top 5 Rejected Blog Slogans

5. Mindless Drivel, Sans Kardashians.

4. Laughably Fallible Pronouncements From My Cathedra Of Snark.

3. Still Wasting Less Of Your Money Than Congress.

2. Slightly Catholic, And Slightly Off.

1. Reclaiming Rainbows, George Michael, And Musicals Since 2002.

Pete's Sake, Vote In My Poll!

I'm trolling my audience for information. Oh, wait, Facebook is probably selling your IP addresses to Obama. Never mind. DON'T VOTE IN MY POLL!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Liturgy As The Response To The Real

The liturgy of the Church is a public act; it is not a private encounter with God, though it is and should be deeply personal in many respects. I'm drinking from a fire-hose turned on by Ratzinger and others, and these thoughts are just beginning to form my heart, and to form in my heart. We cannot tolerate liturgical abuse, no matter how small, because of what it is: the in-breaking of Heaven into this world broken by sin, but beloved by God. Liturgy is not what we do for God; it is rather to enter into the reality of His redemption. If so, we cannot alter what that proper response is and should be, because to do this is to deny reality itself, in order to fabricate another one. We have to trust the Church, and to receive what she gives, even if it does not please us in some way, because it's not about us in the first place.

I have really begun to see what the ecumenical minimalism truly is: a denial of the reality of the Kingdom. If the Bible represents the story of the Kingdom/Church, the tragedy is that a story with so many shared elements fractures in as many ways as you can imagine. The anarchy of individualism conspires to obscure the plain fact that there is one God, one Kingdom, one altar, and therefore (essentially) one liturgy. It's the heavenly one that breaks in here, not the other way around. We cannot ascend to God, and we never could.

To frankly acknowledge the reality of competing claims to Christian truth and to judge between them is not to somehow desire a unanimity or certainty that is foolhardy; it is to insist that God is in the business of reconciling and making new. There is only one Church because there is only one King. We have to see Christian disunity for what it really is: competing liturgies, competing testimonies concerning Jesus Christ, the Word. For all the talk about appreciating "distinctives," it's someone's assertion that his are right, and yours are wrong. It doesn't matter how nice you say it. "Authority" and "history" is a shorthand way of saying, "There is more backing this liturgical claim than a bald assertion of correctness."

We do not do the works God requires of us by pretending that theological and liturgical choices are expressions of preference or cultural situation. "Who sent you?" is exactly the right question, and it always has been. How can a "Church" of one be the Kingdom of God?