Friday, January 31, 2014

Definition Of A Baseball Player

I saw it in my inbox: the MLB Morning Lineup. They send you contract and free agent information, human interest stories, and other things to keep fans satiated during the off-season. I had almost thought of unsubscribing, but hadn't. "Former Rangers star, batting champ Young retires". I died a little; I saw the Rangers occasionally on ESPN, but I knew who Michael Young was. He switched positions 3 times, because the team asked him to do it. He has that look; it's that, "I love this game so intensely, it makes other players uncomfortable" look. You probably don't know how hard it actually is to play multiple positions at this level. Well, neither do I, but it doesn't just happen. This dude was an All-Star 7 times in 14 years, at the same position and in the same league as some guy named Alex Rodriguez. He was your American League batting champion in 2005. Ask the Rangers who led them to back-to-back World Series appearances in 2010 and 2011; they'll tell you. When they traded him to the Phillies in 2012, all of Arlington went, "What? Why?" Certain guys make it a privilege to watch baseball; Michael Young was that guy.

He won't make the Hall of Fame, but if you could honor people for honoring baseball, I'd start that Hall with him in it.

Thanks, Michael.

I Can't Help It

It has literally everything that people hate about CCM: it's gaudy, emotional, simple, repetitive, and to be blunt, it plucks the emotional strings that make people fornicate. When "B16" was writing about "Dionysian worship," trust me, this is what he meant. I would never use this in Mass, ever. And yet...

It touches me. "Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders..." is exactly what I need to pray if I want and hope to be saved. Yes, I said that just so. Try not to die; it's definitely the drift of the Bible. I digress.

When some of you mock "Jesus is my boyfriend" songs, what I actually hear you saying is, "I don't want to feel that intensely about God; I don't want this thing to hurt me and cost me, and possibly make me cry. That's what women do." Stop lying; that's the entire substance of everything Mark Driscoll has ever said about what's wrong with American Christianity. Are you sure that's how we want to have this discussion? "Manly" as the negation of "womanly"?

Instead, we need to realize that what stirs us is not identical to true liturgy, and yet, we should not fear to be moved to love and to act. Just because what we know about about revelation is secure, protected by the Church, and our liturgy is not made but given, it doesn't mean we have to be sterile. He wants our hearts, and that's going to cost. It might even make you cry.

So this has a place. It does a good. I daresay a few need some estrogen in their theologies.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Children, Wedlock, And The Lack Thereof

Rand Paul said something or other today about capping assistance for mothers who have children out of wedlock. That's not a good idea. It's not a good idea from a conservative perspective. The key to the triumph of so-called "family values" (which I've never heard a Republican actually say, but I digress) is families. It's not rocket science or news to say that the Christian revelation forms at least the religious basis for those appeals, but it isn't the only basis, nor does the secular basis for those appeals find itself in conflict with those, or with social policy that would be broadly harmonious to the good life for all our citizens.

In the 1960s, it made sense to criticize the particular design of social welfare programs, because the new programs directly attacked families, and disincentivized the formation of new (permanent) ones. There is a social context into which we all enter; who we are, and indeed, how we are affects countless others, and affects everyone as a whole, in ways we tend not to notice. I'll just cut to the chase: So called "big government" is bad precisely because it denies human agency, in that it harms the person's ability to connect with the organic social units of which he is already a part, replacing them with itself. But "freedom" conceived individualistically, outside its social dimension not only ignores those social relations and their impact upon morality, but tends to deny that "morality" even exists! In its "free market" form, it turns the man into a commodity; it says that his only worth is his economic utility. The government justly exists to preserve his freedom of movement and action, but it cannot relieve him of his moral obligations, imposed on him by his prior social relations, written into the world itself. The "progressive" error pretends that material poverty or any problem is abstract and collective, and that the State is alone responsible for its correction. It becomes downright tyrannical when it not only does this, but takes the liberty (if you will pardon me) to define the terms, as well.

Because we are now in a context where "personal freedom" includes everything except economic self-determination and the freedom of association, where "reproductive choice" sanctions not only murder, but, if carried forward logically, assures the death of our society, it makes sense to prioritize demographics over moralism, in this case. On the other hand, re-defining marriage obscures and attempts to deny this, our most pressing problem. Marriage is a tool to minimize the bad socio-economic impacts (that is, the collective ones) of personal morality, or the lack thereof. Pressing the State to recognize anything other than permanent heterosexual sexual unions is not only pointless; it's suicidal. Pretending that any social policy can be "amoral" is equally foolish. The law of nature conspires to thwart those who govern when they attempt it. That is not only the story of our social safety net; it will be our destiny, if we do not discard the lie that a plurality of ethical systems means that our polity can tolerate any of them.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What Are You Talking About?

This is not the gospel. At all. I actually had a teacher--no Tridentine papist, mind you--say when lecturing on Psalm 24:4, "If you say this is Jesus who does it all for us, I'm going to slap you." And good for him. Because that isn't what it says. Paging Fred Noltie! For all the Rome jokes, and the cracks about Borg marching orders, I'm here to tell you, mother Church's grid is pretty wide open. You get the big stuff right, you can interpret the Bible to your heart's content. It's this grid that is limiting and authoritarian. I don't even recognize this figure of Jesus you are attempting to fashion. Someone should say it.

CCC, 817

That they may be one. They are setting us up, you know. If they are going to distinguish heresy, apostasy, and schism, a definition is coming. Definitions are great; I think we have a tendency to have our mean-sounding words, rather like trump-cards, and we play them when we feel someone hasn't heard us, or we are threatened. Provided that the terms refer to reality, definitions free us from the tyranny of our passions; a thing is or or not; terms are not to be wielded arbitrarily, or for selfish ends.

In any case, when they say "human sin," they may may refer to our general tendency toward corruption in the Fall, but I'd bet they mean personal sin. That is, there were specific actions taken that wound the Body of Christ. In other words, a specific error has specific actions that characterize it, and we're about to find out about those.

The Church has always taken it personally when there are divisions; that is, we all use the occasions to reflect on our own failure to make the Church the radiant bride she is. It does not mean, however, that those who rent His Body are innocent.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

CCC, 816

As a former Reformed Protestant, I get that this isn't some people's favorite part of the Catechism. And you're going to want some evidence. Believe me, I know. Enter the Catechism right here, and you can have a good start on the bibliography to get it.

On a semi-related note, those who posit a radical departure from Catholic ecclesiology and soteriology at Vatican II fail to realize that the Catechism is a product of the reforms of Vatican II. It is Vatican II. We can at least say that the Church who wrote this paragraph is not committed to a weak-kneed, non-evangelical universalism. I don't even take people who say this seriously anymore.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Yes. In Fact, It's Inevitable. Next Question...

Well, you asked. Dude, justification sola fide sets up an irreconcilable dilemma: If all your sins, past, present, and future were forgiven at Jesus' death on the cross, by the instrumentality of your faith in that event, and that alone, there is no theological necessity to pursue holiness. God either sees you as you really are, or you are covered with Christ. It really must be one or the other. God cannot truly threaten consequences for sins He cannot see. You might say that none of its proponents ever actually intended that "faith alone" meant, "intellectual assent alone," but that's what you're left with, if you stick with the Reformation sola fide. If you say there is a connection between the pursuit of holiness and your justification before God, that's good, I think, but that ain't Reformed. And you're stuck with the former as a Protestant, because the Protestant notion of the Fall doesn't allow you to say that man is able to become more just, more conformed to the image of Christ in response to the Cross and in the hope of attaining eternal life. To be blunt about it, to believe the pursuit of holiness by grace is not only possible but necessary, (and not inevitable) is to be Catholic.

CCC, 100

Some guys didn't just come up with this to satisfy their desire for ecclesial domination; it's the other way around: the Catholic Church today has legitimate jurisdiction over you and me because the fledgling Church recognized this authority right away. He's the Church's visible principle of unity.

The right of private interpretation, and the rejection of ecclesial authority based upon it, has no reasonable limit, in principle. That's why I had written of an Abyss of Relativism; it was the logical end of the principle consistently applied. You have to see the horror of it to have the guts to question the principle.

This is not to say the Bible is opaque, and that we can't read it, or shouldn't. In fact, we should read it as much as we can. But it means that whatever we discern is not ours; we offer it to God, and to the Church. If it is in harmony with what the Magisterium has said, well and good. We then edify our brethren in accord with our ability and position.