Friday, May 09, 2014

5 Thoughts For Today

5. Apparently, you weren't allowed to do a soft rock album without a cameo by Michael McDonald.

4. This Christopher Cross dude definitely doesn't suck.

3. When we culturally recapture the '80s, we tend to grab onto the latter part. The early to middle part was a lot like the '70s. (Not that I was there for the '70s, but style doesn't change that fast.)

2. I fell asleep reading St. John Paul the Great again. I am a bad person.

1. You will be addressed as "Cardinal Sparky" until you repent of your heresy. It's for your own good.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Are You Kidding?

Of course, Audrey Assad is coming out with a new EP, and of course, she likes John Donne! I have no idea what I'd have to do to covet my neighbor's wife, but seriously, William, you won the lottery. Like 5 times.

Honestly. Anyway, I haven't loved a Christian pop artist this much since Rich went to be with the Lord. My friend Sam said he thought Rich was just meh, and after I spent 15 seconds or so mentally wondering if he was insane, I realized that Rich has a special bond with deeply wounded people (whether he would have appreciated that or not) and I realized I should be thankful my friend doesn't really "get it," because then he'd be as screwed up as all of us. (Of course, we're all screwed up, but there are definitely levels, and I'm thankful some of you don't reach them.)


Wednesday, May 07, 2014

5 Thoughts For Today

5. No, really. We actually think the Council of Trent was correct.

4. That's what Ecumenical Councils do; it's a Holy Spirit thing.

3. Actually, I love the Council of Trent. That's not just popish cheerleading, mind you. Certain things about about participation in a theological sense would be much hazier without it.

2. What sort of brass ones do you have to have to say that an Ecumenical Council was wrong? I never even realized how crazy this suggestion was. Or, you could just call God unfaithful. Same difference.

1. Nothin' like sittin' down with Pastor Challies and enjoying a nice, cool glass of begging the question.

[Vaguely Biographical Love-Rant] I can remember when I started to see the differences between the paradigms of Protestants and Catholics. Every time someone Reformed would stake out a different position than the Catholic Church, I could appreciate that; after all, if you thought it was correct, you'd go with it. It's your heritage. But I couldn't simply do that, because the truth of the Reformed position--more precisely, its status as the correct Christian position on faith and morals--could not be assumed when it is in dispute. I could see all history opening before me; if I could go back to the pivotal moments in history, to the formation of the Lutheran communities, or the Reformed, what if I were just an observer? What if I had no idea what the true doctrine of Christ was? I would have to be very open and careful; I would have to allow each man to say why I should follow him in the cause of Christ. To be perfectly frank, I don't think most people in the Reformed world are ready to do this. They have never allowed the possibility that what they take for granted as obviously true is not. Boy, if you've heard "You are more sinful than you can imagine, but you can be loved and accepted in Christ than you ever dared to hope"--if imputation is the gospel--you have almost no chance of giving the Catholic Church a fair hearing. None. Sola Scriptura and an invisible Church go together; if I had not personally witnessed the failure of both concepts to give any doctrinal and moral coherence to the practice of Christianity, I would not have looked into the matter. But I had to; I was not going to be an ambassador for Jesus Christ, the only hope of humanity, without knowing what we are to believe, and why.

All the realizations and clever quips of mine on the blog these past three years were all there, lurking in my heart, ready to be realized. "Derivative authority is a sham." That's what hit me first; if all doctrinal decisions are subject to revision by Scripture allegedly, then the interpreter of Scripture takes on a great importance. But I was not the first to inquire of God and his word, (Word) so the origin and truth of the doctrine I was taught is also very important. "One cannot be both the arbiter of divine revelation, and a humble receiver of it at the same time." Sola Scriptura violates this outright, even when tempered by a putative mooring to an "historic" community. Couple this with the lack of a mechanism within those communities for discerning unchanging dogma, and sheesh, no wonder people seek communion with the Catholic Church! O Lord, what have you said, and to whom have you said it?" Or rather, to whom have you entrusted your good news that is for the salvation of the world? I remain joyfully obsessed with this question, and I want others to be, also.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Political Ironies

If I were to take a broad brush to our political conversation as a nation, it would seem that we have at one and the same time an intrusive federal government, whose interests and activities are legitimately and really injurious to socio-economic self-determination, and a substantial group of people who have no access at all even to the limited gravy-train serving up goodies to large firms in union with said government. You've got people who look at this and say, "They've 'assisted' quite enough, thank you, and perhaps it was never licit to try." That is, the adverse economic outcomes resulting from attempting to provide for the general welfare are not only obvious, but lacked legitimate sanction from the start. Others (like myself) point out that an unstated premise is that a contract entered into mutually by two or more parties is per se morally licit, and contributes (albeit indirectly) to the common good of all. This is false on the face of it, as a contract between two thieves trading stolen goods might serve to refute it. At its heart is the denial of the social nature of man, and a conception of "liberty" that is unduly individualistic in scope, and concerned only with coercion from the polis, as well as being indistinguishable from license.
On the other hand, the progressive cannot even imagine an intervention from government at any level--couched as it is as solidarity with the less fortunate--that would be unwarranted or unjust, unless it involved a moral claim. He is unwilling to investigate how virtue or the lack thereof affects entire groups, and how morality might impact how well or how poorly the government of the people serves those by which it is empowered. Indeed, the only moral absolute is the justice of ruthlessly suppressing any economic inequality, no matter its cause or result. More than this, he does not see the danger in grounding the justice of any government action in majoritarian consensus alone. Proper process indeed does not equate to justice, if the bloody 20th century is any guide.
In this way, conservatives who reject the false dichotomy between the economic and the moral (or in the common parlance, "social") stand ready to make a unique contribution: preserving the justice of government as such as an instrument of the common good, but recognizing the value of its limitation for the sake of socio-economic self-determination. We are the new "liberals."

Sunday, May 04, 2014

I Had A Cat, And Named Him "Snarky"

5. I thump the Bible in the general direction of people who post dumb, self-congratulatory memes about their moral superiority to Bible-thumpers.

4. I want to get one shirt that says, "I'm With Frank, The Hippie Pope," and one that says, "Meet The New Boss; Same As The Old Boss," and wear them alternately, to annoy people for whom being a child of the Church isn't good enough.

3. The next time someone asks me what I think of President Obama, I'm going to say, "Not bad, except for the 'killing people for no defensible reason' part" and roll away.

2. What if the next-worst part about the triumph of Obama (after "KPFNDR") is the death of neoliberalism?

1. GO, SPURS, GO!!!

A Few Mindless Blurbs

5. From a glory standpoint, God doesn't need us, but He wants us.

4. It seems to me the heart of the gospel is, "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

3. I do not touch the heart of the gospel, the heart of Jesus, if I believe there is someone for whom Christ did not die.

2. Grace can be refused.

1. Thus, there is nothing universalistic about the offer of salvation.