Thursday, September 27, 2012

Stop me if you've heard this one

And when he had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him: 2 And behold a leper came and adored him, saying: Lord, if you will, you can make me clean. 3 And Jesus stretching forth his hand, touched him, saying: I will, be made clean. And forthwith his leprosy was cleansed. 4 And Jesus said to him: See that you tell no man: but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.
Thus according to the Gospel of Matthew. Every time this reading comes up at Mass, almost every priest I've ever heard gives the same homily: lepers were the social outcasts of Jesus's time; they were segregated from the community and forced to shout "Unclean! Unclean!" if someone approached them; this made them feel bad; Jesus loves everyone, even the lepers; we should ask ourselves who the lepers of the 21st century are and love them and hug them and pet them and call them George.

This is bad theology and bad history.

Leprosy is not socially constructed. It's a disease caused by bacteria. Lepers were segregated from mainstream society not because they were the victims of prejudice but because leprosy is contagious. St. Damian of Molokai who spent his priestly life minstering to a leper colony on Hawaii himself died of leprosy. Note that even after he cured the leper, Jesus commanded him to follow the laws required to reintegrate into society. Leprosy ravages the body leaving open sores and causing great nerve damage. So, how many of us loving, tolerant, welcoming moderns are prepared to go kiss some lepers now?

What leprosy does to the body, sin does to the soul. The man immersed in sin has a soul as ugly and deformed as the body of a leper. The point of the story is that Jesus is the only one who can heal the soul eaten by sin in the same way he cured the body eaten by leprosy. The point is that I am a leper. All of us are lepers. And we need Jesus Christ, the only one who can make us clean.

If the point of the story is that we're all narrow minded Pharisees who exclude others out out of bigotry, then what do we really need Jesus for? Doesn't he become just another liberal busybody chiding us for being mean and hurtful and prejudiced and all the other modern litany of unforgiveable sins?

If the problem is prejudice, then it's just a matter of attending more seminars and lectures on multiculturalism. It can be fixed through education. If the problem is sin, in contrast, then we can't pull ourselves up by our own efforts. We need supernatural help. Why do so many priests shy from speaking this? Why do they settle for the safe, nonoffensive message of inclusion and tolerance? Is it because they're afraid they'll make us mad? Is it because they don't believe anything is really wrong with us? If any priests read this, I give you permission to offend me or make me uncomfortable.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

In defense of bullying

My house has been getting new hardwood floors put in so my internet access has been intermittent. My office is finished so that should give me more time to waste perusing silly stuff on the webs.

Over the last year or two we've been informed by our media overlords that bullying, especially the bullying of homosexuals, is the greatest evil in the land since the Holocaust. "Bullying" includes the usual "beating the crap out of" in addition to name calling, ostracizing, and generally making someone's life unpleasant. To be sure, bullies can be violent. They can be cruel, which is always wrong. I think bullying is an abuse of the enforcement of social norms which is a vital tool for creating a society worth living in and a decent life for ourselves.

As an example, imagine Bob Torquemada is cheating on his wife. At the bar he brags about his extramarital conquests. At the office he chats up the secretary and asks if she wants to go out some time. At social functions he often brings his latest girlfriend and leaves his wife to sit at the bar and drink to ameliorate her misery. This makes everyone involved deeply uncomfortable. There is an unspoken but real agreement between everyone in Bob's life that they will not discuss their marriages or their family life when he is within earshot. They will refrain from ever suggesting that something is wrong with adultery because that might hurt Bob's feelings. Whatever his failings where his marriage is concerned, Bob's a nice guy. He goes to church every Sunday. He volunteers. He coaches Little League. He ran for school board. He drives the kids to their soccer games. Who are we to judge Bob?

This is, of course, a deeply silly route to take. The better way to respond to Bob's behavior is to grab him by the lapels, tell him he's a no good son of a bitch, and then punch him in his goddam face.

The best way, maybe, would be to tell Bob that adultery is wrong and to shun him until he repents. Ideally, it would be the people closest to Bob who tell him that his behavior is disgraceful and to knock that shit off. Vigilante justice is always more vicious than the justice dispensed by those whose responsibility it is to deal with the malefactor. Bullying happens when the proper authority figures fail to enforce the social norms of the community.

That does not excuse violence or cruelty of course. Priests are held responsible for the spiritual welfare of their people. Parents are held responsible for the conduct of their children. If gay kids are being assaulted by their classmates, then Father, mom and dad, or a teacher, or any other authority figure needs to be more assertive in telling Little Johnny to stop acting like a queer and to be a man.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Here he is, back again, call a friend

There's a saying, attributed to Talleyrand, that the House of Bourbon learned nothing and forgot nothing. I used to think this election was Mitt Romney's to lose even though I probably wasn't going to vote for him. Now I think Barry will be the one taking the oath next year. So, given that Republicans are likely to lose now, Steve Sailer asked today what lessons should Republicans draw from their loss? And what lessons will they draw?

One lesson they should draw is that people who are dependent on the government for whatever reason tend to vote Democratic. Everyone always gasps in horror at the notion that citizens of a free republic or democracy would vote for the candidate that promises to give them the most goodies. Which human race have they been dealing with all of their lives? If I'm benefitting from a government policy, why would I vote for someone who promises to terminate the policy? I know, we're supposed to be disciplined and aim for the greater good. Any Catholic can tell you about the daily struggle of falling down and getting up again in pursuit of a lofty standard.

If people who are dependent on the government tend to vote Democratic, then obviously we need to make it so fewer people are dependent on the government. One way to go about this is to impose an immigration moratorium and make the US an attractive place to do business again. Easier said than done, right? Republicans are all about the latter but proposing the former would be career suicide. And that is one of the reasons why I don't follow politics as closely as I used to. No Republican or conservative media figure would ever, ever allow themselves to propose reducing or even ending legal immigration for a short time. Right-liberals, like their left-liberal enemies, have bought wholly into the "America as a proposition nation" creed. Anyone, anywhere, who likes freedom or something is an American at heart. If that's the case, then why wait for them to come here? Just announce that everyone in the world who likes freedom is an American citizen now. The idea that the United States is comprised of a particular people, a particular culture, is anathema. "Blood and soil" sound vaguely Nazi-ish, and who wants to be thought of like that?

What lessons will the Republicans draw? To ask is to answer. Karl Rove will say it's because we alienated Hispanics. The base will say it's because they didn't nominate a "real conservative." They will learn nothing and forget nothing.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Labels are awesome, revisited

I hear this a lot when discussing the state of the Catholic Church: "I don't like your use of labels like liberal or conservative, Traditionalist or progressive, to describe your fellow Catholics. Either you're Catholic or you're not. I'm just a plain old Catholic."

I agree with that sentiment if they mean that if you're not an orthodox Catholic, you have no business publicly identifying yourself as such. But I suspect they mean something more sweeping than that. I suspect they mean labels like liberal, conservative, Traditionalist, and progresssive are meaningless when talking about the Catholic religion.

This might be true if all Catholicism was traditional. If every corner of the Catholic world was traditional, then the label "Traditionalist" would not make sense since Catholicism would everywhere be faithful to its own traditions. But labels like these become necessary when there is deviation from the historical norm. Moving away from the traditional norms is called "progressivism" and when the progressives become dominant, it is they who begin referring to what went before as "traditional." These kinds of labels do have uses in making distinctions about what kind of Catholicism we're studying.

Consider the alternative: if we deny that these labels have any meaning, then we are saying there is no difference at all between the Catholicism of Hans Kung or Pope Benedict XVI. We're saying there is no difference at all between Mass celebrated in a water park with a rock band or a Solemn High Mass celebrated by the FSSP. Both groups claim the name Catholic, but one of them is closer to the Catholic faith as it has been historically practiced than the other. To deny that there is such a thing as progressive or traditional Catholicism is to assert that the substance of the Catholic faith resides in self-identifying as Catholic, not according to what we believe, how we worship, or our moral life.

Labels aren't perfect of course, and we can be mistaken about applying a label to something just as we can be mistaken about anything. Nonetheless, I maintain that labels like liberal, conservative, Traditionalist, and progressive are both helpful and necessary in today's Church. I pray for the day when the Church is once again so closely in line with her own traditions that these labels are unnecessary, but we aren't there yet.

h.t. Unam Sanctam Catholicam

Electing an introvert

Stuff like this makes me think a little better of Obama. A little:

KC: You say that Obama doesn’t like needing people. Other than a normal feeling that many people have of not liking to ask for things, what is that about?
JH: Obama is an unusual politician. There are very few people in American politics who achieve something — not to mention the Presidency —in which the following two conditions are true: one, they don’t like people. And two, they don’t like politics.
KC: Obama doesn’t like people?
JH: I don’t think he doesn’t like people. I know he doesn’t like people. He’s not an extrovert; he’s an introvert. I’ve known the guy since 1988. He’s not someone who has a wide circle of friends. He’s not a backslapper and he’s not an arm-twister. He’s a more or less solitary figure who has extraordinary communicative capacities. He’s incredibly intelligent, but he’s not a guy who’s ever had a Bill Clinton-like network around him. He’s not the guy up late at night working the speed dial calling mayors, calling governors, calling CEOs. People say about Obama that it’s a mistake that he hasn’t reached out more to Republicans on Capitol Hill. I say that may be a mistake, but he also hasn’t reached out to Democrats on Capitol Hill. If you walk around [the convention] and button-hole any Democratic Senator you find on the street and ask them how many times they have received a call [from the President] to talk about politics, to talk about legislative strategy, I guarantee you won’t find a lot of people who have gotten one phone call in the last two and a half years. And many of them have never been called.
I’m not a psychologist, so I don’t know what the root of that is. People have theories about it. But I know in practice he is a guy who likes to operate with a very tight circle around him, trusts very few people easily or entirely. He ran his campaign that way in 2008, he runs his White House that way, and he’s running his campaign that way in 2012. President Obama just doesn’t talk to too many people.
His moral failings aside, Bill Clinton horrifies me on a deep, personal level. His extroversion is almost supernatural. He is perfectly at home back slapping, glad handing, and wheeling dealing. He relishes arm twisting and favor currying the way some people obsess over chess or Star Trek. That sort of thing, that endless, burning craving for the approval of others, drives me up the wall.

I think Heilemann is confusing introversion with disliking people. I like people just fine. I enjoy observing others, figuring out what makes them tick, what drives them or restrains them. But I need some alone time to recharge. That's one thing, perhaps the only thing, the president and I have in common. Our idea of a good time is spending an afternoon alone at the bookstore. And most bookstores encourage that sort of thing now with their big comfy chairs and coffee shops inside the building.

It reminds me of my favorite introvert president, Calvin Coolidge. Silent Cal was famously morose despite his press conferences where he was downright chatty. He was the last president to write all of his own speeches. And he was smart enough to stay out of the way. He was immune to the American monomania of always having to do something. "Don't just stand there! Do something! Get out there! Hustle! Seize the moment! Go go go!" That might work if you're looking for a job, but in a politician it's almost always disastrous. After the last few presidents, I would give a kidney for one who was content to snooze the day away like Silent Cal.

h.t. Sullivan

Liberalism vs reality

Sounds plausible enough:

U.S. Marines defending the American embassy in Egypt were not permitted by the State Department to carry live ammunition, limiting their ability to respond to attacks like those this week on the U.S. consulate in Cairo.
Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson “did not permit U.S. Marine guards to carry live ammunition,” according to multiple reports on U.S. Marine Corps blogs spotted by Nightwatch. “She neutralized any U.S. military capability that was dedicated to preserve her life and protect the US Embassy.”
The hits keep on coming:

As for the White House: Acting in its usual appeasing and apologetic mode, it blamed the critics of Islam. “The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.” Then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (“The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others”) and Barack Obama (“the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others”) confirmed the initial cringe.
Mitt Romney rightly retorted that “It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.” This argument has very large implications, not so much for the elections but because such weakness incites Islamists again to attack, both to close down criticism of Islam and to impose one aspect of Sharia law on the West.
Never mind that the US government and its allies waged on war on Libya in 2011! The real outrage is what Romney said about Libya in 2012!

There are days when I really do feel lamentably sane.

h.t. Larry Auster and Steve Sailer.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

There's madness to my method

It would seem that we can make a distinction within  "Catholics for Obama" between Catholics who support Obama despite his evil policies and those who support him because they agree with his evil policies. About the latter, there's not much to say. If a Catholic votes for Obama because they believe, for example, that abortion should be legal and they believe Obama is the best man to keep it that way, then they are guilty of formal cooperation with evil and should not be presenting themselves to receive holy communion until they repent and confess.

The former are a little less clear cut. Then Cardinal Ratzinger wrote a private letter to Cardinal McCarrick on this very issue in the run up to the 2004 election:

When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favour of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.
The Cardinal is referring to the principle of Double Effect. It is worth noting that Double Effect is only valid if the object of our act - our actual chosen behavior - is not intrinsically evil. In other words, no, it is not morally permissible to deliberately kill an unborn child even to save the life of the mother. The act of voting for president passes that test. Where people become curiously obstinate against further discussion is the question of what is a "proportionate reason." Many Catholics I know feel that if they run down a checklist - "Yep, I agree with his good policy on that issue, I disagree with him on that other issue" - and the balance is toward the good, then it's fine and dandy to vote for whomever they wish. Method is all that matters, meaning they create themselves. That's not quite how it works my little babbies, at least not if you don't want to be carrying the dicatorship of relativism's luggage.

Whether there is a proportionate reason to vote for a candidate with evil policies is ultimately a question of fact, not a matter of opinion. We may have to do a lot of work to answer that question, but at least it's the right question.


Behold the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him,
Upon them that hope in his mercy;

To deliver their soul from death,
And to keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waiteth for the Lord:
He is our help and our shield,
For our heart rejoice in him,
Because we have trusted in his holy name.
Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us,
According as we hope in thee. (Ps 33. 18,22)

And now for something completely different

I was watching and saw this happen live.

Jerry Lawler, who had a heart attack Monday during a live broadcast of WWE's "Monday Night Raw," is in the Cardiac Care Unit at a Montreal hospital and is heavily sedated after undergoing a coronary angioplasty procedure. He remains in critical but stable condition.
My fathe and I often watched WWF programming together when I was a boy. I watched all through the "Attitude" era from the late 90's through about the mid 00's when Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross were probably the best announce team in wrestling history, or maybe a close second to Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan. Get well soon King. You're in my prayers.

Monday, September 10, 2012

"Because nobody cares"

He took the words right out of my mouth:

When one of the best men I know is thrown into a dark night of the soul, into drinking and weeping over Bishop Finn enabling CHILD ABUSE and members of Finn's Opus Dei prelature covering up, lying, and making excuses for him and belittling the severity of this abuse - I want to get drunk and weep a bit myself.

When commenters here and elsewhere on the blogosphere are defending Fr. Groeschel's indefensible defense of abusers, which consisted of blaming the victims for seducing them; and when these same commenters read Bill Donohue's lies but refuse to read the facts of the case regarding Bishop Finn's conviction - I want to hit somebody.

And for me this is tied in with everything else.

In my twelve years as an adult convert to the Catholic Church, I have seen this issue build.  

Why is the music bad and the architecture ugly?  

  • Because nobody cares. 

Why has the sacrament of Confirmation become "graduation from church"?  

  • Because nobody cares. 

Why are openly homosexual bishops allowed to turn seminaries into gay orgy factories and destroy the faith of their dioceses, some given full reign to do so over a thirty or forty year period?  

  • Because nobody cares. 

Why is it that neither adults nor children know the fundamentals of Catholic teaching on Faith and Morals?  

  • Because nobody cares.

Why are principals of Catholic parochial schools allowed to bully parents and children and lock out any and all constructive criticism?

  • Because nobody cares.

Why are priests allowed to ABUSE CHILDREN and bishops allowed to enable them to do do?

  • Because nobody cares.

Why are Catholic media celebrities defended when they propagate anti-Catholic teaching and make excuses for anti-Catholic political candidates?

  • Because nobody cares.

Well, I care.
 So what is Mr. O'Brien going to do about it? Read on over at his place.

I've never known anyone who was abused by a priest but I understand Mr. O'Brien's pain. I relish the opportunity to engage in good-natured back and forth with people who do not hold the Catholic faith. Conversion is the work of the Holy Spirit, but I like to think that he might make use of an ignorant buffoon like me in someone else's eventual conversion. But Catholics who just don't care - and we all know some - are a different animal all together. I don't feel anger toward them; how could I? They literally know not what they do in most cases. I confess that I feel anger toward the establishment that has systematically failed to pass on the Catholic faith for two generations, going on a third.

That, ultimately, is what the Church means when she speaks of the "New Evangelization." It's an implicit admission that she is awash in ignorance and apathy, and that we must act. Many priests I know wring their hands and place the blame entirely on the culture for the dismal state of the Church on nearly every quantifiable measure. To be sure, the culture is a powerful influence, but hasn't it always been so? Are we not called to be the salt of the earth, the lamp on the stand, the city on the hill? Blaming the culture makes a convenient scape goat and allows us to avoid self-examination. Gentlemen, the culture is the way it is because we Catholics are the way we are.

So, what can we do? I can't convert anyone. I can't change anyone. I can pray that our Blessed Lord changes me. I can take up my cross and follow him even if the whole world is crashing down in flames around me. I can pray that he grants the grace of conversion to all. With that in mind, I'm working on a curriculum for adult converts, one aimed at filling in the gaps in my own deeply dissatisfying RCIA experience. Will anyone read it? Will anyone care? It's our Blessed Lord who grants the increase.

h.t. Rod Dreher

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Death of a hireling, and the perils of celebrity

I think this is the best obituary I've read yet for the late Cardinal Martini:

Seeing the ocean of lavish praise and awkward exaltations about Cardinal Martini in yesterday's newspapers, the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus admonishes his followers came to mind: “Woe to you when all men speak well of you” (Luke 6, 24-26). The true disciples of Jesus are, in fact, a sign of contradiction: “If you had been of the world, the world would love its own: but because you are not of the world (…) therefore the world hateth you- (…) If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” (John 15, 18-20)

Then Jesus indicated this beatitude to His disciples: “Blessed shall you be when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Be glad in that day and rejoice; for behold, your reward is great in heaven.”(Luke 6, 22-24)

One thing is certain, for decades Cardinal Martini was praised by the mass media all over the world, and particularly adulated by those who were the most anti-Catholic and the most hostile to Jesus Christ and His Church.

What does this mean? Do you object by saying that this did not depend on him? But the facts are clear - Cardinal Martini always sought the applause of the world, he always caressed Power (that of the dominant mindset) and went along with the current of the latest ideological fashions in the secular newspapers, obtaining applause and esteem.

He was an honoured and regular guest in talk-shows almost to the end.

Or does it appear to you that he refused the exploitative adulation of the mass media which for years acclaimed him as the Anti-Pope, as the rival of Pope John Paul II and after that of Pope Benedict XVI?
It does not appear that way to me.
The longer I'm a Catholic, the more I'm convinced that "theologian" is a euphemism for "heterodox" if not outright heretic. I don't think Cardinal Martini was a heretic, but much of his published words leave the Traditional Catholic scratching his head and asking, "How is it this man was ever elevated to the purple?" That high ranking churchmen hold questionable opinions is nothing new in the life of the Church. What is new since the 1960's is the Church's baffling refusal to exercise her rightful authority in disciplining errant prelates. The tares will grow alongside the wheat until the harvest time, but that doesn't mean the tares should be rewarded with funny hats and cushy gigs. One thing I will do - all of us should do - is pray for the repose of his soul and that God be merciful to him.

Closer to home, I was sorry to hear of Father Benedict Groeschel's troubles. I think EWTN made a mistake in remaking itself into a 24/7 news network kind of operation. Those kinds of networks depend on regular viewers, and if a network wants to find and keep regular viewers, it needs big names. How many big name EWTN figures have gotten in trouble over the years? Before Father Groeschel, it was Father John Corapi. Before that it was Father Thomas Euteneur. Father Alberto Cutie, Father Francis Mary Stone, Monsignor Eugene Clark, Father John Bertolucci...

Now it's not my intention to kick these men when they're down. If I had become a priest, I might have done much worse. Priests face enough trials from the world, the flesh, and the devil without adding celebrity and the temptations that go along with it into the mix. If a priest we looked up to turns out to be not as good a man or as good a priest as we thought, it ought not shake our faith. Pray for him, but don't someone else's sins turn you away from the Faith. Easier said than done, of course. But our Blessed Lord had it right in this as he did everything else. If your Catholic faith hasn't made somebody mad at one time or another, you might be in trouble.

Compliment or no, I'll take it as one

The despicable David Frum imagines this is what Republican delegates might think:

This whole thing about us not being "diverse" enough - can we cut the crap on that? You suddenly load up the country with millions of newcomers, put them on food stamps and unemployment insurance and Medicaid and what all, put them on the voting rolls without any ID - invite them to help themselves to everything that was earned before they showed up - and what do you expect the original Americans to do?
You think we're not diverse? This is what diversity looks like: the newcomers bunching up in one party, the old stock inhabitations bunching up in the other. It's the same in Britain and in France and in Germany, and just about everywhere. You don't like it? Maybe you should have thought of that before you invited half of Mexico to move here.
Nothing against Mexican people! Or black people! Or any kind of people! So long as they pull their weight. Maybe instead of asking us why all these so-called diverse people are not Republicans, maybe you should ask them why they don't support the party for the people who do the work and pay the bills. Maybe it's their problem, not ours, that they identify with a president who is tearing down everything I grew up with.
Whoever you blame, I don't see why I should change my beliefs just because somebody with a different color skin doesn't like them. I don't like Barack Obama's beliefs, but he won't change them on my account. Why is it that the guy with the white skin has to change his mind, not the guy with the other kind of skin? Or why can't we just respect the fact that some of us have one set of beliefs - others have different beliefs - and let us all compete on voting day and may the best team win? Why do you liberals always have to be dragging race into it? Makes me think that it's you guys, who are always blaming just one race for everything that's wrong with America, who are the real racists.
What you want is a country where everybody looks different, and everybody thinks the same. That's what you call diversity. No thanks. You work hard, you pay your way, you quit asking for handouts, and you're American enough for me - and you'll be up there on the podium with Bobby Jindal, Allen West, Herman Cain, and Nikki Haley as a leader of the one party in this country that isn't hung up on race.
Other than that "you're the real racists and sexists!" stuff, not bad, not bad at all. I can't tell whether Frum thinks it is good or bad for Republican delegates to think this way, but I hope some of them are thinking this way. Steve Sailer, from whom I found this, has written extensively about this subject. If the Republicans wish to remain a viable political party in the future, then they need to 1) impose an immigration moratorium for at least thirty years, and 2) double down on increasing their share of the white vote. The latter is especially galling to modern political ears. What politician in his right mind would want to actively pursue a majority of the majority?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

This is a fear of mine

Purgatory and Presumption

I'm going to put it in my will that I want a traditional Catholic funeral Mass. I've said to every priest I know, "Gentlemen, I swear before Almighty God and all the angels and saints, if my funeral Mass has white vestments and alleluias, I will ask our Blessed Lord to release me from Purgatory so that I may haunt you for the rest of your earthly lives."

Bloggers as Corinthians

The Happy Catholic makes the comparison:

Now, we do have a lot more guidelines about our faith than the Corinthians did, but those guidelines are some of the very things we argue about ... to infinity and beyond. I’ve got to say if there is something that Catholics bloggers are great at, it is arguing. We aren’t always good at settling the argument but, boy howdy, can we argue. Some of the time, not very politely or forgivingly or kindly.

To be fair, Catholic bloggers come from as many different backgrounds and faiths as the secular environment we inhabit. A certain amount of confusion or misunderstanding is probably inevitable. …

...1. Remember Christ chose you.We all got into blogging for different reasons. But whether we realized it at the time or not, we were not the ones initiating the choice. Jesus said (John 15:16):

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide.

Jesus chose Pat Gohn to show the right way, the Catholic way, to put women first. He chose the B-Movie Catechism blogger to share his love of his Catholic faith AND his passion for cult cinema and really, really bad movies. He chose Terry Prest (at Idle Speculations) to share a love of Catholicism, history, and art ... all entwined in a way that feeds our senses and opens our eyes.
Now that's a scary thought. Our Blessed Lord chose me to be a Catholic blogger? If that's so, I'm sorry I've been letting Him down so much. Human beings letting down Jesus... what else is new, right? I've been blogging on and off for over ten years across different platforms. I was on LiveJournal for a long time but gradually drifted over to Facebook. I chose blogger as my new platform just because it's easy and I don't have the aptitude or the patience to give it extensive customization.

And this blog is more of a parking place for ideas that occur to me while commenting on other blogs or perusing news sites. When I first entered the Church, I thought that I could learn the most about living the Faith through the old fashioned method of attending Mass and getting involved in parish life. Alas, this left me woefully ignorant at best, and in error at worst. So much of what went on at my home parish caused my spidey sense to tingle that I finally took my distress online in search of answers beyond "Oh the Church doesn't do that anymore since Vatican II." I fell in with the Traditionalists and haven't looked back. Are we a disputatious lot? Certainly. Are we bitter and angry as other Catholics often describe us? Sometimes. Do we do more good than ill? Let's pray that it be so.

8. Get outside your “Catholic” box.Whether in real life or on the internet, don’t let yourself get into the habit of only hanging out with Catholics. That can skew your perspective in surprising ways. It is nice, for example, to discover that some people have no reaction at all when you say “guitar Mass” to them.
I must say I've suffered from the opposite problem: not having nearly enough Catholics to hang out with. Young people between the ages of 21 and 35 aren't known for being especially church-going. I keep in touch with some people I met at my alma mater's Newman Center, and I'm currently attending a group for Catholic youth and young adults. Otherwise, I don't have much contact with other Catholics outside of the interwebs. Well, I do, but they tend toward bitter ex-Catholics who left the Church in a dramatic huff or gradually drifted away in the face of a culture that told them that they were racist, sexist, bigoted, and homophobic. Who likes that, right? No, I'd say my closest friends are your average American young people: if they're not avowedly atheist they don't let belief in God affect their behavior in any way, and they're committed to freedom, equality, and all that.

If anything, having so many non-Catholic friends and acquaintances has made me far more contentious than I might be otherwise if I hung out only with Catholics. I remember attending a New Year's Eve party and being accosted by a drunk who demanded reasons for the certainty of my faith. It was like pulling teeth to get him to concede that reality exists independent of our perceptions: "But how do you KNOW man?! How do you KNOW we aren't all brains hooked up to a computer like in the Matrix?!" I told him, "Sir, you're overthinking this. It's like St. Thomas said: as it appears, so it is."

Only God knows how this is all "forming" me to use Church jargon. I sure don't know. Like my profile says, I don't know much and I'm not much good at anything, but that doesn't stop me from taking up the keyboard anyway!


Cultures bent on self-destruction

Extraordinary comment thread:

SUZANNE writes:
My husband and I are happy to be expecting our fourth child in seven years of marriage. Unfortunately, I rather dread telling most of my family members. We are Protestant, and the idea of “openness to life” has not been embraced for at least three generations, as far as I call tell. I wonder if you or any of your readers have clever answers to the questions I am sure to receive such as, “Oh no! What are you going to do?,” “You’re not having anymore after this, are you?!” and the ever popular, “You DO know how that happens, right?”
I would appreciate the suggestions.
Laura writes:
Please don’t respond to rudeness with a clever line.
Anyone who suggests, even jokingly, to a pregnant woman that her having another child is weird or excessive is not just rude and stupid, but cruel. Such comments are often motivated by envy, but you don’t need to feel sympathy toward someone who is envious.
I suggest you say, “A simple congratulations is all that is needed.”
Or if someone says, “Oh no, what are you going to do?” You might say, “What do you mean, ‘What am I going to do?’ I’m going to do exactly what I did with my first three children, and what I’ll do with any other children I am fortunate enough to have.”
If someone asks with horror if you’re going to have more, just say, “I’d love to. The greatest gift I can give my children is siblings. After all, it’s not just about me, you know.”
Or respond to insensitive comments with silence.
Needless to say, what you are experiencing could only happen in a culture bent on self-destruction. 
Sneering at the Duggars or any large family should be added to the list of Stuff White People Like. I'm reminded of something Walker Percy once said. He said that, as a novelist, he wasn't so much interested in man's malevolence - what else is new? - but in modern man's looniness. I really and truly do not understand modern man. Animus against large famillies is one of the biggest mysteries of this unusual creature. I've asked some of my non-Catholic contemporaries why they're so opposed to big families. The responses tend toward "We're overpopulated as it is!"

I'm hardly one to judge on this matter, but it seems like example #23409785 of not trusting God to provide. A culture that is unwilling to propagate itself is a culture that is bent on suicide.

Die, heretic scum!

Is American atheism headed toward schism?

In the passionate world of American atheism, the venom usually directed at believers has now been turned against the wrong kind of atheists.

The cause of this freethinking furore? A new movement called Atheism+. According to its website, "Atheism+ is a safe space for people to discuss how religion affects everyone and to apply skepticism and critical thinking to everything, including social issues like sexism, racism, GLBT issues, politics, poverty, and crime."
St Paul would be laughing his head off, had a Roman soldier not already deprived him of it. "See," he might now write after reading those modern epistles, the blogs, comments and tweets around the birth of Atheism+, "how these atheists love one another."
South Park already predicted this: in a distopian future, the followers of Richard Dawkins will square off against the admirers of Sam Harris. They will butcher each other until the streets run red with the blood of millions.

h.t. Rod Dreher