Saturday, February 21, 2015

You're Creeping Me Out

It was a post about how dating/courting in a Christian context is dangerous, and it should be, because the man should prove his worth, and [long line of military analogies]. It was awful. Not that the intent was bad. But 1) women are not "conquered"; 2. seriously, what is it with Reformed guys and violence/war? 3. we need to have a serious talk about this alleged "complementarianism"; and 4. this is why we can't have nice things. OK, this is really only 2 points.

Most of you seriously need to CHILL OUT. Which doesn't mean that a father is uninvolved. But here's the key point: if you have to short-circuit a romance for your daughter's sake, you have already failed as a father. It's far too late.

Or, you have allowed the first stirrings of romance to happen WAY too early. In either case, I highly doubt she'll thank you later. She will say that you're a domineering control-freak, and she might be right.

My main point here is, "casual dating" is not "casual sex." You cannot control everything, which, ironically, is what BaylyBlog was trying to say. But what they revealed was a stuffy paternalism, and naivete about sin in the first place.

I wish casual dating actually existed. It's these prevailing "Christian" attitudes that prevent it from happening.

Friday, February 20, 2015

"He Died From His Injuries"

I just saw a video of a guy who shot an armed robber in a drugstore. The robber is dead. I think it's reasonable to expect that there may be times when an average citizen has to defend innocent people with deadly force, or at least the threat of it. Still, one disturbing aspect of the "culture of vigilance," let's call it, frankly, is all the dead bodies. Call me a hippie, but I want armed robbers doing 10 years, and dedicating themselves to the same Christ whom the man says carried him through the incident, not dead.

I believe we possess the right to keep and bear arms. I also believe, however, that we should work tirelessly toward a society where there is no need to exercise that right in self-defense.

Ecclesial Christianity Ultimately Has One Home

In a thread about the importance of church attendance hosted by everyone's favorite frank Baptist, Tim Dukeman, Gregory Shane Morris had this shocking attack of good sense:

Gregory Shane Morris If you are depriving yourself and your family of duly constituted sacraments and ecclesial authority, you can claim no promises from God, since you are starving yourself of His appointed nourishment and covenant signs. Hanging on to the Ark by a rope is not a legitimate option. Salvation is inside.

He's obviously right, of course. Only one problem: he's spiritually descended from the guys who rejected "duly constituted sacraments" and "ecclesial authority." This is what every (good) Catholic from here to there knows, and will point out. No, we're not going to let it go, because it is salvation for us, and for the world.

You aren't Catholic because...?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Another Possibility

To follow up on some comments in yesterday's post, I don't suppose one has to account for the ancient Church, if one simply equivocates on the term. If one assumes a fundamentally invisible Church, one could be referencing any one set of people at any time. Sure, it's begging the question with respect to the Catholic Church, since the Catholic Church holds to a fundamentally visible Church (and that she is that Church).*

By the way, the argument is not, "Submit to the pope, because he says so!" It is, "The Catholic Church's claim to universal jurisdiction over all Christians flows from its being continuous and synonymous with the ancient Church." If I had only the word of Pope Francis and my beloved Archbishop, without any reason, no one would be Catholic, least of all me.

But as I wrote before, Petrine primacy, apostolic succession, and transubstantiation of the Eucharist are fairly easily established. At that point, there are two things I cannot do, if I am to be intellectually honest: 1. I cannot ignore the obvious challenge this poses to my claim (as Reformed) that my community has better recapitulated the faith of the Church fathers; 2. I cannot reject the ecclesiology of the fathers, whilst agreeing with some other point. For them, ecclesiology (the study of the Church) and soteriology (the study of salvation) are the same thing.

Indeed, the very reason we cannot pick-and-choose from this history is because Christianity is a faith received. If I am adjudicating what is truly "catholic" from the mass of data, it's possible I have not submitted myself to the Church or to its revealed truth at all, but rather, to myself.

*Please see Pius XII's "Mystici Corpus Christi," paragraphs 64-65. (encyclical on the mystical Body of Christ)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


I don't like it. There is no point in lying. I hate giving up things. I don't like the Cross--even a tiny sliver of it--any more than anybody else does. The truth of the matter is that I am pretty decadent, when we get right down to it.

I was trying to think of an analogy. How do I experience God's mercy and justice? I'm a bit like the Israelites, who betrayed the Lord while waiting for Moses. When I say that I like wicked sinners, it's not piety; it's equal parts holy love, and flat-out recognition. I experience the call to conversion and repentance like a voice from another world, as if there are two of me, and only one will respond.

I know that my better self will find holy joy as these days pass; this other me is only grudgingly on board with this thing. That's just the way it is.

I do know that I will cry on Maundy Thursday, as the Lord is removed from the tabernacle, and no Mass is celebrated until the Easter Vigil. It's a great suffering, and I hope it will speak well of me on the last day.

I don't have much to say about the evangelical Lenten brouhaha, except to say that Trueman can dig his heels in all he wants; he's still begging the question, in this respect: he is assuming the Reformed rejection of Lent is correct. It is in fact an ancient practice. If this ancient practice is not in accord with the will of God, then the ancient Church did not do the will of God. Ligon Duncan is willing to bite that bullet; why not you, Trueman? Well, because it would show all this "Reformed Catholicity" stuff to be the ad hoc nonsense that it is. To appeal to the ancient Church is to appeal to an hermeneutic of continuity that the (alleged) truth of Reformed distinctives does not allow. It's time to choose.

 That is, you cannot consistently appeal to a Church which betrayed the gospel, as you see it. If you say that the ancient Church did not betray the gospel, then nor did the medieval Church, and the "Reformers" have nothing to reform. A vicious little logic circle, or a virtuous one, as you like.

Either way, have a fruitful Lent, everyone!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

CCC, 1400

There are consequences to definitions. In the case of the Reformation, changing the meaning of "apostolic." In fact, every one of the 4 marks was changed by someone, and we reap the unhappy fruits.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

I Looked Across The World Today

And I wondered if anybody saw what I saw. I saw people doing what they do, maybe hoping and needing something they can't articulate. People laugh, people cry, or they stuff whatever it is down inside, maybe even without intending it. There was a hunger today; I saw it everywhere; I saw it in myself. Until my phone rang, I thought I'd be at home, dodging who knows how many flaming arrows.

People often lament for others on this day, those who are not "in love," whatever that means. They take it upon themselves to remind others that these lonely ones are out here, and are people too. That's nice, I suppose. It's a little patronizing and self-defeating, however, since the plain fact is that your own erotic success isn't solving that existential hunger.

I realized somehow that I didn't really need the mildly amusing film, or the tub of popcorn, or in any final sense, the friend who called. I needed God, who made the friend, the popcorn, the idea of a story, and the smart person who builds the thing that lets the story be told to many people at once.

I went to Mass today, and before it started, a poor man started to try to preach us out of holy Mother Church. I did recall he said, "Trust in Jesus," and after I was done being embarrassed and annoyed, I felt pity. Jesus is right here, and he has no idea.

After the first reading, I knew: I am a leper. This is what I feel. I thought it through; am I guilty of something close to mind? No, not really. Nothing grave, no reason to feel special shame. Maybe we just feel stained by the world some days, you know? We know Jesus has to cleanse us, even if he does us the mercy of not showing it to us, at least not in full measure.

Lord, I need you.