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Showing posts from July 19, 2015

I Love-Hate Taylor Swift

I've been a legitimate fan since 2006. She really does write great songs. I have no idea really what makes a good pop singer, but suffice to say, she sings well enough to be very successful. She's one of those weird people whose biggest fans and biggest detractors are both right. You may have noticed (even if you want to vomit at the thought) that she's really attractive. She's got that classic red lipstick look that we like, to paraphrase one of her songs. I'm still young enough to notice, and old/pious enough to know that it makes me a little uncomfortable. She's always used the word "classy" in reference to herself as a goal in presentation, or in reference to how she wants young girls to perceive her (and themselves). We're reaching the point culturally where, if this is the modern culture's attempt at modesty, we are doomed. This is Taylor Swift; this is not supposed to be a person known for trying to shock us. She's not Madonna, o

Mark Shea, If People Think You Are Liberal (And Frankly, That You Flat-Out Don't Like Them) You Are Earning It

All teasing aside, which I've done in several posts I don't care to link, I love your stuff. I actually like your "edge." We all know I've got one. We've got several noble friends in common, and they don't hesitate to speak well of you. In light of that, I strongly desire to speak well of you, also. Also, I can tell that you are strongly motivated to affirm all that the Church teaches without exception. We are of the same mind and heart in this. I will not say that being involved in American political activity makes this easier. I also can't say that I have fully understood all of the implications of the social doctrine, especially as it applies to acting politically in public, for the common good. But I'm really trying. I need you to give Republicans a break. Honestly, give politics a break. To speak truth to power by means of the social doctrine is an important task, and an urgent one. Nor do I dare to take away satire as a means of doing i

Rosary Wars: The Apathy Strikes Back

You know that you ought to pray the Rosary; you actually know that somehow, it is your Obi-Wan Kenobi. You may have mildly impious arguments as to whether Mary is interceding, or whether you are simply distracted from the wickedness you'd rather be doing. Your enemy is more subtle than we tend to think. He only says, "Don't pray; praying sucks" to a certain kind of weakly virtuous person. To another he says, "Do you really mean it when you pray? Why do it just to do it?" and other things. Everybody needs a St. Ignatius-style fire-breathing Jesuit (realizing that sounds absurd today) to simply look at you and your devotional life and say, "Just do it." Real Jesuits (and others) laugh at being called Pelagians and such like, because the whole point of grace is to be with God, and to be like Him. Frankly, I don't know that many Catholics today who are actually in danger of trusting in the number of prayers that they've said, as if God need

Principles, Principles

He's right , you know. Only difference is, the Reformed have many degrees, so when they fail to distinguish between human opinion and divine revelation, they don't notice. Their ad hockery is plausible, even to themselves. There are only 2 questions that matter ecclesiologically: "What is the Church?" and, "From where did this dogma, or set of propositions x come?" I did not really want to re-consider my belief in an invisible Church, but that notion could not account for the data, or keep me in the fundamental position of a receiver; that is, for me to sort through the mess of history to decide what was from God, and what was human is to stop assenting to revealed truth, and to start being its arbiter. I have always taken doctrine too seriously to sort of glibly say, "Well, we're united in the essentials!" because we have never been, as Protestants. It was a loaded gun, sure, a loaded question, but it doesn't make it wrong: What exactl

If You Know About Evil, Say Something

I grant that it's harder than I make it sound. But do not assume "everyone knows." Do not assume your obligations to the victims (or at least potential victims) have been fulfilled. That's why I'm not all that upset that good people are getting hit by "failure to report" laws; it's very important. It's a trending story, Jimmy Walker commenting on Bill Cosby. Yes, something this grave and dangerous, start talking. What he's really saying is, "I'm chagrined that this evil person is maybe the most beloved black person in America, and I'm the guy who yells out, Dy-No-Mite! to a vaguely racist audience." Maybe there was a little satisfaction in knowing America's favorite TV Dad was a fraud. Cold comfort to the ones he hurt.

Who Ya Like?

I have said that likability is one of the biggest factors in winning the presidency. In the GOP field, who do I think is likable, and how much? I'll just do as many of these I deem necessary. (If I think a candidate has zero shot in any universe, you're not going to see him or her.) Carly Fiorina: If the GOP base decides to try to take Hillary's "history" card away, this could be the most interesting general election in our lifetimes. Likability (out of 5): 3.5. At least some of the GOP will want to know why HP was so bad while she was there. The religious conservatives might be jumpy about multiple marriages. Women don't catch those kinds of breaks. (It should be noted that I think Mrs. Clinton won't be winning anything, so Fiorina's strongest selling point may be moot.) Jeb Bush: I think a good number of people are saying they hate dynasties, but they are liars. I'm a card-carrying Republican, but if it purports to tell us history, and says &

Herman Bavinck, Closet Thomist

Recently, I noticed that the Reformed types in my internet social network are recommending Bavinck as a systematic theology. My brain is a hodgepodge of half-read books and such, but I remember reading that guy. I remember him being utterly incomprehensible to me, until I sampled Aquinas. St. Thomas Aquinas seriously can make you less stupid by himself. I had a professor at The Old School who made me re-write a Bavinck summary, because I just got ticked, and just began yelling at Bavinck in my paper. DON'T JUST READ THE SUMMARY PARAGRAPHS of anything or anyone. If you're doing this assignment right now, and about to punch yourself or someone else in the face, take half an hour or an hour and read an article of the Summa. Seriously, just do it. No, you don't have the time, but I promise you, you will save it on the back end. If they aren't teaching you philosophy terms and the rudiments of the natural law, they are just hurting you intellectually. It may make you Catho

Read It Like This, Part 3

With regard to property or temporal goods, which 2 principles are important to hold together? (CCC, 2401) Does the Church see any conflict between the universal destination of goods, and the right to private property? Why not? (CCC, 2402-2403) If there is an apparent conflict, which one takes precedence? Why might this be so? (CCC, 2403) Private property ought to be used to benefit others. Which others ought we seek to benefit first? (CCC, 2404) Does the Church believe that a business owner only has a responsibility to his or her customers? (CCC, 2405)

Pray For Us Sinners

This is the most obvious reality: that we are sinners. There is something altogether appropriate about asking Mary to do this. We're all just little kids. I read a line like that in a story about DeAndre Jordan, the Los Angeles Clippers center, who had considered the idea of playing instead for the Dallas Mavericks basketball team. Their owner Mark Cuban is a billionaire; I'm sure the guys can have some fun. DeAndre had gone so far as to verbally agree to a contract during the moratorium period. He'd gone to see Coach John Lucas, one of the pillars of the black community in Houston, a former NBA coach, and something of spiritual guide. He's still just an impressionable kid, said Lucas. We all want to make people happy. I'd like to make Mark Cuban happy. He could accidentally drop some money while sneezing, and pay off your house. A lot of times, we get in trouble with sin, because we want to make people happy. Maybe even ourselves. The devil's playing smal

Carmelite Rainstorm

We had an outdoor Mass for the last night of the Novena to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Right after the Gospel reading, the heavens opened. I haven't been that wet in awhile. Some 400 people piled into a small chapel. The homily was about martyrs, how the secular state always thinks it has the right to impose itself, though I suppose the Roman one did it on behalf of its religion. And the Islamic State, likewise. Father pointed out that their remarkable resolve, forgiveness, and serenity is not a human virtue, but a supernatural one. I know one thing: Little kids refusing to become Muslims in Iraq and replying, "We have always loved Jeshua" (Jesus) before dying at the hands of the Islamic State will make you wonder why you are such a pansy, and pray for the grace to do better. We're headed right for it. Martyrdom, that is. There's no real cause for alarm. It's happened so many times before; there is no magic shield around the United States; we're not sp

Process Of Elimination

There are times when the truth is just looking at you, waiting to be spoken aloud. It's going to hurt someone; someone may not want to look at it, whatever it is. I might be one of those crazy people who just doesn't assume that people lie, and hide things. I guess that's pretty stupid for a theologian. Dr. Greg House would mock me, I'm sure. Warning: This post may get uncomfortable. Somebody spoke a truth to me, at least a potential truth, that I may want to ignore. In dating and marriage, your disability could be an issue for women. No one wants to say it out loud, because who wants to be that girl? They might not even admit it to themselves. I guess the thought of that hurt a little. I don't think that way. There's enough self-doubt floating around without adding this to it. So I don't think it. I don't expect my friends to feel this way. If I had a good friend who was a woman say it was true in her case, I'd be stunned, actually. Would I