Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Materialism Disproved

Because it cannot handle the existence of meaning. Excerpts:
...Greene writes that "a staunch reductionist would claim that...in principle absolutely everything, from the big bang to daydreams, can be described in terms of underlying microscopic physical processes involving the fundamental constituents of matter." Good stuff. I'm with him so far. But here's where he loses me: "If you understand everything about the ingredients, the reductionist argues, you understand everything."

If you understand the ingredients, you understand everything. I think this is a perfect summary of where modern atheism goes off the rails. A computer program could read and analyze the words of Shakespeare's Sonnet 18, and even answer questions about its content. It could "understand" all the ingredients perfectly. But does that mean that it has grasped the essence of Sonnet 18? Scientists could attach a neuroimaging device to the head of a man who is reunited with the woman he loves after a long absence. The scientists could describe in great detail every part of his brain that was in use when she first walked in the room, and explain precisely how all the neurons were firing as he gazed at her. Would that data alone fully capture the moment?...

Saturday, October 27, 2012

"Abortion Never Saves a Woman's Life"

UPDATE:  Some necessary substantiation here.  See also this consideration of ending ectopic pregnancies and the principle of double effect.  Excerpts:
It is absolutely true that the Catholic Church bans direct abortion to save the life of the mother. However (and this is an extremely important point) the mother's life may be saved by a surgical procedure that does not directly attack the preborn baby's life.

The most common dysfunctions that may set a mother's life against that of her preborn child's are the ectopic pregnancy, carcinoma of the uterine cervix, and cancer of the ovary. Occasionally, cancer of the vulva or vagina may indicate surgical intervention.

In such cases, under the principle of the "double effect," attending physicians must do everything in their power to save both the mother and the child. If the physicians decide that, in the case of an ectopic pregnancy, the mother's life can only be saved by the removal of the Fallopian tube (and with it, the preborn baby), or by removal of some other tissue essential for the preborn baby's life, the baby will of course die. But this kind of surgery would not be categorized as an abortion. This is all the difference between deliberate murder (abortion) and unintentional natural death.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Aborted Children: "They're Just Thrown Away Like Garbage"

Father Dan Pattee of Franciscan University is interviewed by Emily Stimpson and talks faith, life, and human rights. Excerpts:
...OSV: Did spending weekend after weekend praying at abortion centers across the country change how you see the abortion industry?

Father Pattee: It did. As the weeks went by, I started noticing that these centers tended to be unmarked. You often would have no way of knowing what was going on inside except for the pro-life groups praying outside on the sidewalks. It’s like they’re trying to cultivate a stealth presence.

Others have very misleading names. In Shreveport, La., the abortion center is called the Hope Family Care Center. There is deception at the heart of the abortion movement, and that comes across even in the way their centers look. Of course, along the way, it came out in far worse ways as well.

OSV: Like what?

Father Pattee: The reason they always give for keeping abortion legal is that it’s necessary to keep women safe. But to make that argument, they have to cover up all the ways abortion is not safe for women and all the terrible things that happen to women inside abortion clinics. 

For example, in Birmingham, Ala., right before we got there, two ambulances came rushing to the abortion center, and two women were carried out on gurneys. The pro-lifers standing outside took pictures, but if they hadn’t, no one would have known about that. Again, in Jackson, Miss., the day before we arrived, the court permitted the last abortion center in the state to stay open for another 90 days so that it could find a way to bring itself into compliance with the law that requires only OB-GYNs perform abortions. Before that, they were allowing people who weren’t doctors to do abortions. No OB-GYN was present.

Then, there was the case in Chicago this summer, where a woman died because the clinic workers held off on calling 911. They knew she was in trouble, but they didn’t want it to look bad for the clinic. Again, there is deception at the heart of the pro-abortion movement. They claim they’re all about the health and well-being of the mother, but their actions say otherwise.

OSV: Before Andrew Moore’s death, what was the hardest moment of the walk for you?

Father Pattee: That was in El Paso.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Catholics, Political Parties, and Just Desserts

John Zmirak on the hazards of Catholics getting too attached to a political party. Excerpts:
...As Catholics and Americans, it's clear from recent events that we have just embarked upon a long and dangerous Lent. It's a secular Lent, with no resurrection promised, with tempting spirits aplenty, and no guarantee we will refuse their bread transformed from stones, their angels to cushion our fall, their kingdoms on offer for kneeling before the world. The hungrier we become, the more reckless we will get, more likely to worship would-be "saviors..."

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Average Christian: Non-White, Non-Western

A great piece on the true state of contemporary Christianity.  Read the whole thing (and buy Philip Jenkins' books).  Excerpts:
...For some centuries, European and American Christians prayed fervently for the conversion of the wider world, especially in Africa and Asia, and many devoted their lives to achieving this end. And to an astonishing degree, they succeeded. During the 20th century alone, around 40 percent of the population of Africa converted from animism or primal religion to some variety of Christianity. Within a few decades, the African continent could be, in numerical terms, the center of world Christianity. Growth in Asia has also been impressive, while enthusiastic new forms of Christianity have blossomed in Latin America. Many denominations are discovering, to their surprise, that large numbers of their adherents, even majorities, no longer live in those areas that could once be claimed to represent the "Christian world."

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Washington State, Gay Marriage, and Religious Freedom

Archbishop Sartain speaks:
And an excellent piece from the Catholic bishops of Washington state here. Excerpts:
...the redefinition of marriage does not bestow any new legal rights on couples of the same-sex in Washington State. In 2009 a law was passed that granted to registered domestic partners every legal benefit enjoyed by couples in traditional marriages.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Hope of Sinners

The sacrament of confession.  I can speak from experience--many falls, but many times picked back up and set on the path by Christ in the sacrament of Confession.
"As the Father has sent me, even so I send you. . . . Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (John 20:21–23)

Friday, October 19, 2012

So Obama, Romney, and Cardinal Dolan Walk into a Dinner

and awesomeness ensues.  Seriously. This is fantastic. Cardinal Dolan is stupendous. Awesome. In front of Romney and Obama, his speech is a stroke of brilliant evangelization and gospel challenge. Worth watching just for that:

Thursday, October 18, 2012

I Can't Vote For Romney

Welp, he just lost my vote.  Excerpts:
...Romney: “I’d just note that I don’t believe that bureaucrats in Washington should tell someone whether they can use contraceptives or not. And I don’t believe employers should tell someone whether they could have contraceptive care or not. Every woman in America should have access to contraceptives.”

This is basically conceding the farm on the Mandate. It’s a line straight from the Obama playbook. According to the Administration, employers who don’t want to be forced to buy contraceptives are “telling women they cannot have contraception”. Romney is signaling he opposes employers who make that argument just as much as Obama does.

Complete and utter betrayal...
Again, I think the man would be great on turning the economy around, but on the life issues, he's just not there.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"Is Life Fully Human Wthout Christianity?"

So I posted this to Facebook:
h/t Father Robert Barron and the Catholicism Project.
 Read the Pope's Wednesday address here.

and immediately got this question from a friend:
Is life fully human without Christianity?
to which I responded:
Ah--thereby hangs a massive, massive theological discussion. Bleah--permit me a few really nuanced, seemingly non-answer answers.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

By The Pricking of My Thumbs

Something Wicked This Way Comes .
I think this needs a remake, and ideally would be done by the Doctor Who team. I'm not sure, though, if anyone could really translate Bradbury's prose to the screen.

He does have an odd approach to the world and to God, almost as though the Creator had withdrawn from contact with his creation, such that man and man alone was left to make the choices and use his own nature to drive back the dark.  Rather along the lines of Enlightenment deism, really.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Marriage, Family, and the Christian Faith

From Pope Benedict's homily opening the synod on the new evangelization. Excerpts:
...matrimony is a Gospel in itself, a Good News for the world of today, especially the dechristianized world. The union of a man and a woman, their becoming "one flesh" in charity, in fruitful and indissoluble love, is a sign that speaks of God with a force and an eloquence which in our days has become greater because unfortunately, for various reasons, marriage, in precisely the oldest regions evangelized, is going through a profound crisis. And it is not by chance. Marriage is linked to faith, but not in a general way. Marriage, as a union of faithful and indissoluble love, is based upon the grace that comes from the triune God, who in Christ loved us with a faithful love, even to the Cross.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Secret to Successful Catholic Christian Evangelization

This is a little piece of brilliance. Can you imagine what the world would look like if it was put into action? If this had been present at my past schools, for instance, or at youth groups, or parishes, or...geez, any of the many, many local Catholic organizations I've attended on the way up?  For some sense of what's meant by the interior life, see The Fulfillment of All Desire: A Guidebook for the Journey to God Based on the Wisdom of the Saints, The Three Conversions in the Spiritual Life, and The Soul of the Apostolate.  Excerpts:
...These two priests had the following plan:
1. To bring to light, from among the hundreds of young Christians in their movement, a minority, even though infinitesimally small, capable of really desiring and seriously practicing the interior life.
2. Then to enkindle their souls to white heat with love for Our Lord, inspiring them with the ideal of the evangelical virtues, and isolating them as much as possible from contact with other students, clerks, or workers, etc., as long as their interior life had not reached the point where it could truly make them immune to all contagion.
3. Finally, at the right time, to give these young men a zeal for souls, in order to use them to reach their comrades more effectively.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Romney: Family Man, Businessman, Problem Solver

So The Real Romney was a really interesting, revealing biography, at the end of which I've concluded a few things.

  • Mitt Romney would probably do great things for the economy.
  • He'd have a lot of trouble working with Congress, simply on the relationships and politicking level, but might appoint someone with real skill at that as his chief of staff and so obviate that difficulty.
  • On social issues, he's not likely to take a strong stand, so action on Roe v. Wade or other related issues are not likely. While he seems to truly be personally pro-life by conviction, we are unlikely to see any substantial change on the laws regarding abortion in his presidency, unless such a push came from the legislature.
  • He's a good guy, personally.
  • He's not a natural politician.
  • For whatever reason, he appears to be willing to package himself however he feels the need so as to get votes. As in, you want to know who the guy is, take a look at the home/church/family life.
  • He tends to be pretty utilitarian in his decisions, even while avoiding any hint of corruption, such that his national security approach is not likely to significantly challenge the current policies regarding drone strikes, enhanced interrogation, extraordinary rendition, etc., etc., ad nauseam.
At the end of which, I dunno. Vote for the guy who won't get much done on the life issues but won't make matters worse--a sort of holding action--while he does great work on a national economic turnaround but holds the line on the current trend in national security thinking, versus the current President with the strong record of pro-choice decisions, a dodgy record on religious liberty, an up and down record when it comes to national security...

Dunno yet. Read the book. It's well worth it.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Simcha Fisher: "Pro-Choice Catholics Worship an Idiot God"

Wow.  Excerpts:
...The God of the pro-choice Catholic says, “On Mount Horeb, I shattered the barrier between heaven and earth, and I will led an entire nation of people out of slavery and into the wilderness to give them My commandments.  The history of the human race was changed forever because of the gift of My law, which will protect them and will guide them to the promised land.  So, which commandments affirm your lifestyle?  Follow those;  don’t sweat the rest.”

The God of the pro-choice Catholic says, “I will send my Son who will give up His body to show you that there is something worse than suffering, something worse even than death. That God Himself expressed the truest form of freedom by obediently and humbly giving Himself over to death so that weaker creatures might have life.  This is the message of the Cross.  But maybe for you, freedom is best expressed with a suction machine.  Your body, your choice.  Who am I to say?”

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Fulton Sheen, New Evangelization, and Grace

Brandon Vogt cites a man with a plan.  Excerpts:
Who was the greatest Catholic evangelist of the twentieth century? To me it’s no contest: Venerable Fulton J. Sheen. Some might argue for Pope John Paul II, who had a bigger impact on the world. Others might claim Mother Teresa, whose smile and sari were certainly more recognizable. But in terms of evangelization, I don’t think anyone drew more people into the Church than Sheen.

His success was due in large part to his mastery of new media, which in his day meant radio and television...

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Key to the New Evangelization

From a magnificent, challenging book, The Soul of the Apostolate. Excerpts:
...If the priest is a saint (the saying goes), the people will be fervent; if the priest is fervent, the people will be pious; if the priest is pious, the people will at least be decent. But if the priest is only decent, the people will be godless. The spiritual generation is always one degree less intense in its life than those who beget it in Christ.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Gah! Atlas Shrugged Rises Again!

Behold!  Atlas Shrugged...2!  Excerpts:
The second installment of what will—Rand willing—become an epic trilogy based on the objectivist ur-text Atlas Shrugged is even more implausible than the first. By the conventional economics of the film industry “Atlas Shrugged Part II,” which opens to around 500 theaters this October, should never have been made.

Unless the movie in question involves simply tacking another numeral on to a field-tested franchise like “Scary Movie” or “Final Destination,” universal derision from critics and a box office loss are usually enough to count a sequel out. And yet here’s the next installment of “Atlas Shrugged” anyway, not limping straight to DVD but doubling the size of its theatrical release, having added $20 million to its budget, 20 minutes to its run-time, and a new cast...

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Third Party Voting, Presidential Elections, and Mark Shea

I agree almost completely with Mark Shea's points.  Excerpts:
...Now if we were smart, we’d be writing, faxing, and phoning R/R every day with wheedles, threats, cajoles saying, “Get serious or you lose my vote in a very close election and if you so much as *think* about betraying me you have made an enemy and one who will work to defeat you and your party in the midterms.”  Instead, what we get is enormous energy spent on constant shushing from other prolifers who fear that thought of this duplicitous man losing and who believe the myth”vote for Romney or you are really voting for Obama”. Utter rubbish.  A vote for a third party candidate is a vote for that candidate, not for somebody else.

So, yeah: I accept the case for No...
Now, I also find John Wright's reasoning on a vote for Romney/Ryan rather interesting. Excerpts:
...Which stances of the two parties, Democrat or Republican are compatible with faithful Church teaching and natural reason, and which are directly opposed to faith and reason?...

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Good News, Vocations, and Catholic Women Religious

Brought to you by the Anchoress.  Excerpts:
I was surprised to receive an email, and a couple of tweets, from people wondering why I had not perpetrated my annual “Nun News” post, focusing on vocations. To be honest, I have just been too busy, but I have been amassing a HUGE list — so large that each time I look at it, I feel too tired to begin. But today is the feast day of St. Terese of Lisieux, so, it seems a good day to get to it...

Monday, October 1, 2012

Deification and the Middle East

What do they have in common?  Oh, so much.  Excerpts:
...In the context of the Christian faith, “communion is the very life of God which is communicated in the Holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ”. It is a gift of God which brings our freedom into play and calls for our response. It is precisely because it is divine in origin that communion has a universal extension.

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