Monday, September 24, 2012

A Little Terrifying

Wow.  Excerpts:
IN my public school 40 years ago, teachers didn’t lay their hands on students for bad behavior. They sent them to the principal’s office. But in today’s often overcrowded and underfunded schools, where one in eight students receive help for special learning needs, the use of physical restraints and seclusion rooms has become a common way to maintain order.

It’s a dangerous development, as I know from my daughter’s experience. At the age of 5, she was kept in a seclusion room for up to an hour at a time over the course of three months, until we discovered what was happening. The trauma was severe.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Catholic, Liberal and Conservative

Marc Barnes explains.  Excerpts:
...When we look at the desire of the Christ, at his heartfelt cry to his Father before he delievered himself up to die, the silliness of a liberal/conservative split within the Church becomes apparent:
I pray also for those who will believe in me through [the disciple's] message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17)
Christ wants us to be one, truly one. This desire was a desire important enough to be his death prayer. Thus whenever we see a false division in the Church, our impulse, flowing from our love for Christ, should be to make it whole.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Most Powerful Force in the Universe

Professor, take it away!  Excerpts:
Before action, there is being. Before apostolate, there is prayer. Before mission, there is contemplation.

The primacy of contemplation is rooted in the primacy of grace in the spiritual life.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Salt of the Earth, Light of the World..."IceNine of the Universe?"

An interesting analogy, drawn from science fiction.  Excerpts:
In his 1963 novel Cat’s Cradle, science fiction writer Kurt Vonnegut introduces a fictional polymorph he calls “ice-nine.” According to Vonnegut, ice-nine is an alternative structure of water that is solid at room temperature. It acts as a seed crystal which, when it comes into contact with liquid water below 45.8° C, causes the rapid freezing of the entire body of water...

Since publication of Vonnegut’s Hugo Award-nominated work, “ice-nine” has been used as a metaphor for anything that converts other things to more of itself.

And that’s where WE come in...

In reality, we are the “ice-nine” of the universe...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Catholic Church, Secularization, and Survival

Let's reuse what worked, shall we?  Excerpts:
...The cardinal noted that religious freedom was guaranteed in the Soviet constitution too, while the reality was very different and highly constrained. Some Russian Orthodox Church leaders had KGB rank and perquisites.

The most prominent Catholic opponent to this Cold War reality was, of course, Cardinal Wojtyla of Poland, later Pope John Paul II. He provided a four-point plan for the Church in those circumstances:

Presidents Obama and Bush

on some things, are almost indistinguishable.  Excerpts:
As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama pledged “a top to bottom review of the threats we face and our abilities to confront them.” He promised a sweeping overhaul of the Bush administration’s war on terror, which he criticized for compromising American values.

But FRONTLINE has learned from a former high-ranking CIA official that even before he took office, Obama’s team “signaled” they had no intention of rolling back secret programs begun under the Bush administration...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Did Jesus Have a Wife?

A scholar presents on a 4th century scrap of paper with writing on it, prompting speculation the world over: did Jesus have a wife?

Darn tooting, he did.  She's featured in all four Gospels, has her adventures featured in Acts, and plays a huge role in the book of Revelation.

What's her name?

The Jesus Problem

Very well put. Excerpts:
...Christianity is a paradoxical religion because the Jew of Nazareth is a paradoxical character. No figure in history or fiction contains as many multitudes as the New Testament’s Jesus.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Christians of the Middle East

Are fewer than they once were.  Excerpts:
...many Christians across the Middle East...fear that the Arab Spring may turn into a Christian winter.

Recent history illustrates it’s not a hollow concern. In Iraq after Saddam Hussein fell, in some ways it's become open season on Christians. According to the Hammurabi Human Rights Organization in Iraq, some 900 Iraqi Christians were killed between 2003 and May 2012, while 200 were kidnapped, tortured and ultimately released for exorbitant ransoms. While there were 1.5 million Christians in the country prior to the First Gulf War in 1991, today the high-end estimate is 450,000.

Many Christian leaders in places such as Egypt and Syria worry it may be their turn next – that the fall of a dictatorial regime will not usher in vibrant democracy, but rather chaos and a rising fundamentalist tide, with Christians bearing the brunt...

Muslim Students, Catholic Universities, and Secular Hospitality

Where do you really feel at home? Excerpts:
"... At any of the countless secular universities she might have chosen, religion — at least in theory — would be beside the point. But she picked one that would seem to underline her status as a member of a religious minority. She enrolled at the University of Dayton, a Roman Catholic school, and she says it suits her well.

“Here, people are more religious, even if they’re not Muslim, and I am comfortable with that,” said Ms. Alhamad, an undergraduate in civil engineering, as several other Muslim women gathered in the student center nodded in agreement. “I’m more comfortable talking to a Christian than an atheist.”...

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The "Christian Dark Ages"

A notion thoroughly eviscerated by Mike Flynn here, with a recommended reading list given here.  Some choice excerpts:
...It is curious how many fundamentalist tropes show up in atheist writings. In this case, the "Constantine founded Christianity" trope, which was originally proposed by fundamentalists of the "secret church" persuasion. Their animus was directed against the Roman Catholic church, which was terribly unfair to the Eastern Orthodox. At the time of Constantine, there was not yet any distinction.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Steyn on Clint Eastwood, Powerful Broke Governments, and the Weather

Just some gems from some recent articles.
The United States has the most powerful government, with the longest reach, of any nation in history. It is also the Brokest Nation in History. Resolving that contradiction is unlikely to be pretty.--The Paramilitarized Bureaucracies
No dictator will ever need to declare martial law in America. All he’ll need to do is issue a “severe weather advisory” and everyone will stay indoors until they’re told it’s safe to come out.--Rain of Terror
And some very interesting points about Clint Eastwood.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Faith, Reason, and Believing What the Church Teaches

Emily Stimpson, take it away!  Excerpts:
...“Because the Church says so” is indeed reason enough to believe something when you have thought long and hard about what the Church is, by what authority she teaches, and what duty you owe her.

Since Day One, the Church has professed to being Christ’s Bride, Christ’s Body, and the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. She has likewise professed that she is the guardian of both Sacred Revelation and Sacred Tradition, guided by the Holy Spirit in her interpretation of both and protected by him from teaching error on matters of faith and morals (See: Acts 15 and 1 Clement).

If you believe the Church is all that, if you believe she is what she claims to be, trusting her teachings—even when you struggle with them—is the only sensible response. If you don’t believe the Church is what she claims to be, not trusting her teachings is equally sensible. But calling yourself a Catholic is not.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Dr. Scott Hahn on the Eucharist and Calvary

This is a gem.  Dr. Scott Hahn says:
If the Eucharist that Jesus instituted was just a meal, then Calvary was just a Roman execution. But if Jesus instituted the Eucharist to be the Passover of the New Covenant, then it had to involve both sacrifice and communion, as did the Old Covenant Passover.

The words of institution show that Jesus instituted the Eucharist as the sacrifice of the New Covenant. As such, the Eucharist transformed Calvary from a Roman execution to a holy sacrifice, the consummation of his self offering that was initiated in the Eucharist.

Thus, he didn't lose his life on Good Friday, since he had already given it - in loving sacrifice - on Holy Thursday. Jesus was not the hapless victim of Roman injustice and violence, but rather the willing victim of divine love and mercy.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bill Maher: Clint Eastwood Killed

Well, obviously.  I mean, recall his past film roles, and it's perfectly clear...oh, we weren't talking about, like, shooting people?  Oh.

Interesting comments.  Excerpts:
“...As a performer, as a stand-up comedian for 30 years who knows how hard it is to get laughs, excuse me, he went up there … without a net, on a tightrope. There was no teleprompter. He did a bit with just an empty chair and killed,” Maher said. “He committed to it, it was consistent and it worked.”

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Political Idolatry

Go read the whole thing, but the best advice she gives comes at the end.  Excerpts:
...we seem not to believe that God’s hand may be working within our world at all, and so it is up to us. We “pray” as a means of telling God what we want done, but we don’t trust him very much, hence the hysteria. Both left and right are nearly fainting with fear: “What if the other side wins? The other side is evil!”

Look at the crucifix. Is there any greater reassurance that nothing happens—not even the worst things we may imagine—without it working ultimately to God’s purpose?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Romney, Pro-Life, And Reality

By your news stories combined, I am...tempted to conclude that neither party is fielding a pro-life candidate for President this year.  And that makes for some interesting questions.

First, the stories.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Mary and the True Glory of God

Thomas Howard explains in Evangelical is Not Enough: Worship of God in Liturgy and Sacrament.  Excerpts:
...There came an end to those gory altars and all that slaughter. But it was not a tissue of elevated thoughts that replaced them. Rather, an angel appeared to a woman and said, “Hail!” What we now had, far from the summons away from the physical realm that high-minded men might have wished, was gynecology, obstetrics, and a birth. Whatever we may imagine about the spiritual rhapsody that might have attended this angelic visitation to the Virgin, the one thing we know to have occurred was a conception. The Virgin’s womb teemed.

It was embarrassing to the religious mind. It proved a scandal. The whole ensuing story bothered and even enraged religious men, and it has continued to do so.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Healing the Culture In High Schools

This curriculum is endorsed by Mark Shea.  Excerpts:
...Healing the Culture is a huge sign of hope that the prolife movement will be able to communicate clearly the plain and obvious teaching of the Catholic tradition in a way that high schoolers can not only see it and understand it, but communicate it themselves.  I’ve read the curriculum and it’s extremely good.  Urge your local school–Protestant or Catholic–to snap it up!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Jon Stewart: Court Jester to America

Mocking the left and the right whenever they deserve it.  Behold!  The awesomeness!

Christians Give Scandal

Every single time we do something like this, we deserve the mockery of the world.  Excerpts:
Police officers in Northern Ireland came under attack during a third consecutive night of disturbances in Belfast, police said late Tuesday.

A crowd of up to 200 people gathered in the pro-British Denmark Street area of the city. Youths, some hooded, pelted officers with fireworks, bricks, bottles and other objects, including golf balls, officials said...

The violence on Tuesday appeared to be less intense than the two previous nights when more than 60 police officers were injured trying to keep the peace during disturbances. Six people were arrested Tuesday and three officers suffered injuries that did not require medical treatment, police said.

Police said the disorder was linked to tensions between Catholics and Protestants over parades in a district near Carlisle Circus...

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Sins of Catholicism

Are remarkably similar to the sins of Israel in the Old Testament.  Or so saith Thomas Howard.  Excerpts:
...Rome's opulence, her political machinations down through the centuries, her tyrannies and hauteur and self-assertiveness, not to mention the Dionysian romp in the Vatican in the Renaissance, what with Borgia popes and catamites and so forth: all of that is bad - very bad.

The Catholic Church knows that.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

On Brandon Raub

This is just one of those things that cause spontaneous face-palming.

On the one hand, we have Brandon Raub--a "former Marine," whatever that means. Did he retire?  Was he discharged?  If so, was it honorably or dishonorably?

Anyway, Mr. Raub was posting things to his Facebook account which caused such concern about his mental health that the authorities were called.

Video of the police taking him away:

2012 London Olympics--The Funny Side

This is quite funny.

A Prayer at the Democratic Convention

Well done.  Excerpts:
As a young woman of faith and a leader, I am humbled to follow the First Lady, whom we all admire. So, thank you for inviting me here. As we close this day, let us quiet our hearts in prayer.

God, I stand before You and ask that the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing unto You.

I pray for our President, Barack Obama. May he know Your presence, oh God, as he continues to serve as a leader of this nation, as a husband to Michelle, and as father to his daughters. Help him to seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with you.

I pray as well for Governor Mitt Romney. May he know Your presence, oh God, as he continues to serve as a leader, as a husband to Ann, and as a father to his sons and their families. Help him to seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with you.

Evolution and Catholicism Are Compatible

Simply because faith and reason are compatible.  At least, so saith the Pope.  Excerpts:
Pope Benedict XVI said the debate raging in some countries — particularly the United States and his native Germany — between creationism and evolution was an “absurdity,” saying that evolution can coexist with faith.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Judas, Betrayal, and Following Jesus

A fascinating point by Pope Benedict XVI.  Excerpts:
“Judas could have left as many disciples did,” the pontiff explained. “Indeed, he should have left had he been honest. Instead, he stayed with Jesus, not out faith, nor out of love, but with the secret desire of taking revenge against the Master. Why? Because Judas felt betrayed by Jesus, and decided in turn to betray him.


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