Thursday, May 30, 2013

More of Beefy Levinson's brushes with greatness

Fr. Derek Lappe of Our Lady, Star of the Sea parish on the Boy Scouts:

Dear Parishioners of Our Lady Star of the Sea,
Although I am not at all surprised, I am certainly disappointed in the recent decision of the Boy Scouts of America to change their membership policy. The incredible legacy of the Boy Scouts of America and the amount of good they have done for so many years, creates a particular sadness that they would compromise the good of their mission and the good of the boys they serve for the sake of political correctness.
The exact policy change is this: “to remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone.” That is to say that those young men aged 10 to 18 who identify themselves as “gay” or “homosexual” will not be excluded from scouting based on the fact of that self-identification.
I do not feel that it is possible for us to live out, and to teach, the authentic truth about human sexuality within the confines of the Boy Scout’s new policy and so I would like to give an explanation as to why it will be necessary for our parish to part ways with the New Boy Scouts.
My mother's side of the family lives in Washington state. Whenever I go to visit, Our Lady Star of the Sea in Bremerton is my go-to parish. Fr. Lappe is a good man and a great priest. The Mass is as beautiful as it can be in the Ordinary Form. His preaching is solid. He is an excellent confessor. Fr. Lappe is one of those priests that makes me want to be a better Catholic, and I can't say that about many priests in the western US. God bless him for staying strong, and I pray the Holy Spirit gives him the gift of perseverance.

Our parish cannot be involved with a group that has decided to ratify or approve the self-identification of a 10-18 year old boy as “gay” or “homosexual”. To me it is cruel, and abusive and absolutely contrary to the Gospel to in any way confirm a teenager in the confusion of same-sex attraction, which is what the New Boy Scout policy will do. 
 I am very aware that my objection to the change in the New Boy Scouts is increasingly considered bigoted and backward. I know that there are many good people within the Catholic Church who will disagree with me. I am aware that in many people’s minds “homosexual” identity is the new civil-rights issue and that there has been huge swing in public opinion on this issue over the past few years. But I won’t put public opinion ahead of the good of the boys and young men in my parish, and I won’t pretend that polls can trump the truths about sexuality and humanity that are revealed to us, first of all by natural law, and confirmed in Sacred Scripture and the teaching of the Catholic Church.
 May God grant us a thousand Fr. Lappes. He is speaking in truth and charity, and he knows that he'll be persecuted for it. He'll be persecuted by his own parishioners, and probably by the Archdiocesan chancery when they complain to it. Don't let them muzzle you Father. You are right: it is cruel to confirm these children in their sexual confusion. What the homosexual brownshirts fail to tell you is that even when they are "out and proud," the homosexual community still suffers disproportionately from disease, depression, substance abuse, and suicide. No, it's not the fault of us heteronormative, heterosexist black knights. That's the nature of the beast. And you wish to encourage children to become part of that? Some parents dread it more than others but nobody, if you press them about it, wants their child to grow up to be homosexual.

Never back down. Never compromise. Hold to what is true, good, and beautiful.

H/T: Thinking Housewife

Failure in this case can have eternal consequences

Barbara Nicolosi on the painfully obvious:

"Who can name the Gifts of the Holy Spirit?" It was Pentecost, and our pastor was walking up and down the middle aisle with a goofy grin and tone that said, "Bear with me, here." There were a few embarrassed chuckles from the congregants who hadn't already tuned out. Father pressed on, "Come on, anybody?" Again, the people dutifully and lightly snickered. This was supposed to be the funny set up of some point, right? I didn't think it was funny at all. I raised my hand.
I think our pastor was a little put out because he really hadn't intended for anyone to speak up. He made a comical face and then said, "Really?" The people laughed. Still grinning but with his hands on his hips, Father nodded at me, "Okay, let's hear it." So, I answered using the WUCKPuFF formula I had learned back in the third grade from Sr. Mary Randall, RSM. "Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Knowledge, Piety, Fortitude, Fear of the Lord." (Probably because I am a child of the Sixties, I prefer the word "Reverence" to "Fear of the Lord," but WUCKPuFR just doesn't work as well as a mnemonic.)
People gasped. Father approached our pew actually shocked. He was intrigued and, I guess, figured maybe I had gotten lucky. "Stand up and say them again. Slower." So, I did. And then our priest looked around and pointed at me and people applauded. Like I had done something extraordinary. Like I had said something brilliant. Like I was some kind of theological nerd, instead of just a fellow disciple in the pew, delineating something so catechetically pedestrian that seven-year-olds should know it before we ever think of placing the Eucharist in their little mouths. I would have been much more impressive explaining the meaning of all the gifts but Father clearly didn't want to go that far with his little trivia moment. 
Anklebiters will point out that we are not saved by knowledge. St. Peter will not give us a catechetical quiz when we appear before the pearly gates. I respond that you can't love what you don't know. How are you going to keep the commandments if you don't even know what they are? Who the hell do you think you are putting your child up for confirmation when they don't even know what confirmation is? Is confirmation just a "graduation" from CCD to you?

Faith is the theological virtue specifically aimed at the intellect. Charity is an act of the will. Do not confuse the one for the other. The revolutionaries didn't like the old emphasis on rote learning exemplified by the venerable Baltimore Catechism. Granted, the Baltimore Catechism by itself is not sufficient but it doesn't follow that it is of no use at all. Like much of the other treasures of our patrimony, it was tossed out in the 1970s. The emphasis was placed on the living experience of the faith. This unnecessary separation of knowledge and experience has borne fruits that only the most blinkered ideologue could ignore. Two generations of Catholics went through Catholic schools without learning anything about the faith. Our great-grandfathers could quote more Scripture and more doctrine drunk than we can sober.

I'm not angry at the people. I'm angry at the clergy, religious, and lay catechists who ought to know better. Who should do better. The Church is in the state she's in because we aren't doing better. Granted, parents are the first and best teachers of the faith to their own children. As Nicolosi said though, you can't give what you don't have. That's why religious educators face an even greater responsibility today than they did in times past. Remember the distinction between invincible ignorance and culpable ignorance. Is anyone really prepared to argue that a Westernized, First-World, computer literate SWPL parishioner is invincibly ignorant? We have a binding responsibility to know our faith and to learn the faith. Not everyone is capable of giving learned theological discourses on the subtle distinctions between St. Thomas Aquinas's and St. Anselm's formulations of the justification theory of the atonement. Everyone can and should know the commandments and know the precepts. How can you live them if you don't know them? How can you love what you don't know?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I coulda been an apostate instead of a bad Catholic which is what I am

This sounds all too familiar:

I have a certain acquaintance from a few years back who was raised Protestant. He gradually came to see recognize the claims of the Catholic Church through independent study and was convinced that he needed to enter the Church...

...Unfortunately, the Church he studied his way into, the Church he fell in love with, in fact did not exist. He spent two years studying Latin because he thought Latin was the language of the Church - and in a technical sense it certainly is - but my friend gradually became saddened as he realized that Latin had been all but banished from Catholic liturgical usage.

The intellectual arguments he learned in defense of papal authority lost their edge as he witnessed the popes apparent embarrassment at the traditional teaching, and their subsequent consistent refusal to exercise the power that they spent centuries previously insisting upon. The boldness that characterized Gregory VII's interactions with Henry IV or Innocent III's dealing with King John had fled, or been banished, from the Vatican. The Church had insisted for centuries that it wielded a sword of spiritual power bequeathed to it by Christ - why now did it refuse to wield the sword that God gave it?

He was saddened and confused that the simple yet powerfully eloquent teachings of the saints found no parallels in modern writing or preaching, and could not understand why the beautiful structures that were the glory of Christendom were being replaced and in many cases destroyed in favor of ugly modern structures constructed on secular humanist principles. Most of all, he was distraught that the Church that had produced so many martyrs, who had suffered death in defense of the purity of the faith, was now no longer proclaiming the uniqueness of that Faith in undiluted purity, but seemed intent upon affirming non-Catholics where they were, implying to them that their own religious traditions were also salvific, and that there was really no need for formal union with the Catholic Church.

The fact that the above mention demolition of the traditions of the Church was not happening externally but was being aided and abetted by the Princes of the Church and the successors of the Apostles was especially devastating. He realized that the Church today is very weak, weak because it chooses to be. Weak because it will not clearly proclaim the message entrusted to it by Christ, weak because its people and prelates do not seek holiness, weak because the Church refuses to take up the weapons and armor our Lord left with it and instead tries to muddle through on its own.
If the personal example of Catholics was to be my only acquaintance with the Catholic religion, then I never would have converted. Not in a million years. Traditionalists are stereotyped as being dour, humorless, know-it-all, pharisaical prigs. Like all stereotypes, there is truth to it. However, the people who hurl those accusations ought to consider the plank in their own eye: many Novus Ordo attending Catholics are lukewarm at best, ignorant superstitious heathens at worst. If I may presume to speak on behalf of my fellow converts, our complaint is not so much that the Church is a hospital for sinners or that her ranks are rife with ignorance, heresy, and apostasy. Wasn't our Blessed Lord betrayed by one of his hand picked Apostles? Did he not say the tares would grow alongside the wheat until the harvest time? Weren't the first generation of Protestants all apostate Catholics?

I think the most jarring thing for all converts is the sheer indifference to it all. Many Catholics - including, I fear, many priests, bishops, and religious - are ignorant of their own faith's traditions and they prefer it that way. They recoil in horror from traditional Catholicism's emphasis on suffering, on sin, grace, redemption, sacrifice, carrying the cross, discipline, and spiritual warfare. We prefer saccharine sweet reassurances that a Christ without the cross came to lead men who were without sin into a Kingdom they could not ever lose. We prefer to dialogue with the world rather than confront it. We wish to engage in ecumenical talks with the heathen instead of converting him. Hundreds of millions of souls throughout the world, going on fifty years now, have been drowning in secularism, materialism, hedonism, and nobody cares.

The New Evangelization is a tacit admission that the Church is in shambles and something must be done. The Church is in shambles because she wants to be. The world is the way it is because we Catholics are the way we are. We are the salt of the earth that has lost its saltiness, and Christ himself said that we are good for nothing but to be trampled underfoot. And we have been. The faith is all but dead in Europe. It's dying in North America. In the global South, we are losing tens of millions of souls to the Protestants.

But even if the Church and the whole world come crashing down around us, we cannot despair. The temptation is powerful but we know how the story ends. God could have created us during any other time, but he put us here, in these times for a reason. This is why I'm committed to learning and spreading traditional Catholicism even if my parish, my diocese, or even my entire country be lost to Modernism. Didn't St. Athanasius persevere even when the world groaned to find itself Arian? The self-destruction of the Catholic Church was perpetuated by men who lost sight of its supernatural character, who came to regard her as a human institution that they could reshape and reform based on their own liberal will to power. Those of us who would see her restored to all of her former glory mustn't come to think that the restoration too is just a matter of human will power. The decline and fall of the Catholic Church in the West was the work of human hands. Her resurrection will be the work of divine providence.

Of course this doesn't mean we ought not take action within our spheres of influence and states in life. Ultimately, God judges us as individuals. How much did we love our neighbor and love our God? In times past when the Church was submerged in worldliness and corruption, God raised up saints. The modern Church is infected with Modernism, liberalism, and feminism. Who better to do battle against it than men formed with Traditionalism?

The long hot summer of diversity

Everyone is, of course, more worried about the English Defense League than the vibrant young killers:

War memorial vandalised, mosque firebombed and ugly clashes on the street: Tensions rise after slaughter of British soldier

  • Help for Heroes rejects money raised for it by English Defence League
  • Said it did not want the charity to be used for 'political purposes'
  • Thugs sprayed the word 'Islam' across two war memorials
  • Bomber Command Memorial and Animals In War Memorial vandalised
  • Mosque fire-bombed in wake of Lee Rigby's execution in Woolwich
  • 1,000 EDL chant, sing and march from Trafalgar Square to Downing Street
The country that gave us George Orwell now sends people to prison for Facebook status updates or Tweets judged to be offensive or racist. Ironically, the more the British government tightens its grip on speech, the more violence we will see. If speech is not an option, then action must be taken. Likewise in Sweden:

* In less than a single decade, the foreign-born share of the Swedish population has risen from under 10% to over 15%.
* Unemployment among immigrants exceeds 16%; among native Swedes, it is only 6%.
* Despite a heavily redistributionist tax system and a generous welfare state, the wealth gap between natives and immigrants is wide and apparently widening.
* Sweden's asylum seekers come almost entirely from very poor Muslim-majority countries, notably Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Syria.
* Sweden has a center-right government with a strong libertarian flavor. Prime Minister Frederik Reinfeldt, whose office since 2006 has enthusiastically welcomed the asylum influx during his administration: "We are more open than other countries. Long term, as a society, we win on this. It will lead to more people getting jobs. It will contribute to a more exciting and open society.” 
 I suppose nightly riots and car burning is a kind of excitement. But is it really necessary for Western countries to take in the competing sides of every on-going conflict around the world? I'm too young to remember a time when Western governments actually looked out for the interests of their own majority populations. I can understand the temptation to sit poolside and enjoy the decline and fall of civilization.

H/T: Vox and Sullivan

Monday Night Raw, 5/27/13: "We forgot about Curt Axel!"

Lest anyone doubt my perennial criticism of WWE's current philosophy of booking, let's take a look at the last week. Last week on Raw, Big E Langston defeated Alberto Del Rio by pinfall. That is a major upset and a big victory for the newcomer Langston. Last Wednesday on Main Event, ADR defeated Big E. Gotta get that win back! Last night on Raw they squared off for a third time, and ADR won again. Gotta pay those dues! AJ cost Langston the victory which at least moved the storyline toward the inevitable Langston/Ziggler split, but come on WWE. Was Langston unwilling to do the job for anyone else on the roster that night?

John Cena has been promoted to head booker as he opened the show by telling The Ryback, "Nah, we're having a Three Stages of Hell match." Smart move making the second stage be a tables match. That allows Ryback to defeat John Cena without actually pinning him. And if nothing else, Super Cena has a well known weakness to tables. The Ryback showed up to snort and snarl for a bit, and then Heyman and Axel walked out. Just as I predicted, Heyman is selling last week's match as Curt Axel beating Triple H. They gave Terse Driveshaft some new music already. I liked the remix of the old Mr. Perfect theme much better. Cena accepts their challenge to a match. It wasn't enough for Trips to bury Axel last week, but now they're feeding him to Cena already?

Daniel Bryan got to meet his hero, Bretdalf the Grey. The look on DBry's face was priceless.

I just criticized WWE's Groundhog Day style booking, but I'll make an exception for the Shield, Kofi, and Team Hell No. Those six guys work well together. The Dean Ambrose vs. Kofi match was great. The Rollins-Reigns vs. Team Hell No match is a contender for best match of 2013. As the crowd said, it was awesome. The show took place in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. As an homage to the Hart Foundation, Kane and Bryan performed a Hart Attack on Rollins. Bryan's new gimmick is proving to everyone that he's not the weak link. As I've repeatedly said elsewhere, he is the best wrestler on the roster and the most over guy in the company. Those running drop kicks in the corner look brutal. Rollins eventually pinned Kane after a flying knee to the head. Keep it up Shield. I haven't emotionally invested in any wrestler this much in years.

Poor Wade Barrett. Just... poor Wade Barrett. It looks like the Fandango craze has died off. At least there might be an upcoming feud over the IC belt. If only the IC belt weren't worthless now.

Khali and Tons of Funk squashed 3MB. Khali led the crowd in singing Happy Birthday to Natalya. Little known fact: "Happy Birthday" is not a public domain song. That's why you seldom see or hear it anymore.

Looks like CM Punk is returning sooner than expected. Good. I'm also glad Jericho and Heyman acknowledged their history together in ECW.

The Bellas beat Natalya in her hometown, on her birthday. Dat booking.

Curt Axel held his own against John Cena for much of their match. He even went for the Perfect Plex, for which I thoroughly marked out. But Cena ended up getting distracted by the ambulance and Ryback. I'm amused that everyone keeps mistaking the ambulance for Scott Steiner's entrance theme. What is that guy up to these days anyway? The ambulance was probably more over than any of the other wrestlers for that segment. Next week on Raw: Curt Axel vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin. Toward the end of their match, Stone Cold gets bored and wanders off to go get some beer.

Bray Wyatt is coming. And the fandom will rejoice. Much like the last few weeks, what would have been a below average Raw was saved by the Shield. Believe in them.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Friday Night Smackdown, 5/24/13: Whadda maneuver!

I am pleased, very pleased indeed, that Damian Sandow got significant time on the mic. He challenged the mouth breathing troglodytes of the WWE universe to untie the Gordian knot. The insufferable ignoramus Matt Stryker was not up to the task. The missing link known as Sheamus could not do it either. In a stroke of genius, Sandow cut the Gordian knot himself and avoided an incoming Brogue Kick. Well done WWE, well done. Please give Sandow a regular show. That one segment was much, much better than anything that's ever been done on Miz TV. I hope this is the start of a feud with Sheamus. Sandow needs to resume his singles career and be given more time for promos. I feel smarter just listening to him.

I think it's generally agreed that the current WWE commentary teams are terrible. JBL does the best he can with the material he has to work with, but Michael Cole is awful. Jerry Lawler was effectively neutered when he turned face, and it's obvious he doesn't care about the product anymore. Josh Matthews is a nonentity. Listening to them last night made me reminisce about previous commentary teams. Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler are deservedly known as the greatest broadcast team in professional wrestling history. When I first started watching wrestling, Vince McMahon was known as a baby face commentator. I have fond memories of Vince's partnership with Jesse "The Body" Ventura and Jerry Lawler. He wasn't the best commentator but his enthusiastic delivery made up for his spotty knowledge of wrestling techniques. "Whadda maneuver! OH a devastating maneuver! ONE TWO WE HAVE A NEW CHAMPI... no we don't." Every week I heard him open the show with "Welcome everrrrryone to Mooondaaaaay Niiiiiight Rrrrrrrraaaaaaawwwww!" Vince marked out for Shawn Michaels the way JR did for Stone Cold Steve Austin. I remember being disappointed at first when Vince left the broadcast team to begin his Mr. McMahon persona, but I got over it quickly. His commentary skills have declined to be sure. Michael Cole receives a lot of well deserved heat for his performance, but he's only repeating what Vince is squawking at him through his headset.

Poor Wade Barrett. Who did that guy piss off in creative? He lost his title at Wrestlemania and won it back the next night, but since then he's lost every non-title match. Even when he's in a title match he can't win clean. It looks like he'll be feuding with both Miz and Fandango. Who even cares about the IC title anymore? If I were a wrestler I wouldn't touch the IC belt with a ten foot pole. WWE books it so that the IC champion is a jobber to the stars.

Speaking of jobbers, Jack Swagger got a jobber entrance for his match with Daniel Bryan. Bryan's new gimmick is trying to prove to himself that he's not the weak link. You've convinced me sir! I stand by what I said earlier this week: Bryan is the most talented wrestler on the roster and he is gold on the mic. He snapped and put the No Lock on Swagger again after the match ended. You know the dude's got problems when Kane is the voice of reason.

Kofi Kingston got his rematch with Dean Ambrose. Rollins and Reigns interfere, Kofi wins by disqualification, and the Shield are doing their thing when Sheamus and Randy Orton come to the rescue. Brace yourselves...

Teddy Long and the Shield are a match made in heaven. This six man tag team match wasn't as awesome as Raw's, but it was still a worthy main event. Let us all pray the Shield's guardian angel continues to watch out for them in creative.

Curt Axel squashed Sin Cara. All jokes aside, Axel is a talented wrestler. He can't give a promo to save his life, but that's what Paul Heyman is for. I'm glad he's getting a second chance.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Diversity is the source and summit of all that is good, noble, and beautiful

Sweden is enjoying the benefits of diversity:

Unrest in Stockholm’s suburbs continued for a fourth night as rioters showed their anger over a police shooting a week ago by setting fire to cars and buildings and pelting emergency workers with stones.
As many as 30 cars burned in the Swedish capital’s southern suburbs, while 11 were set alight in the Husby area, north of the city centre, where the violence broke out four days ago, police spokesman Kjell Lindgren said by phone today. Police detained one person, a 16-year-old girl suspected of preparing an act of arson. That followed eight arrests since Tuesday.
“While the situation has become better in Husby, where a lot of local people have become engaged to calm things down, the situation has intensified on the southern side of the city,” Mr Lindgren said.
The UK continues to reap the rewards of multiculturalism:

A rapper who witnessed the shocking Woolwich attack revealed the true horror of the situation as he posted a series of tweets from the scene.
Boya Dee was among a number of eyewitnesses who saw the incident yesterday from start to finish, and described how the suspects tried to attack police officers after hacking at a man with a machete.
He wrote: 'The two black bredas [brothers] run this white guy over then hop out the car and start chopping mans head off with machete!!'
In another dramatic tweet, he added: 'The first guy goes for the female fed [police officer] with the machete and she not even ramping [messing about] she took man out like robocop never seen nutn [nothing] like it.'
It was confirmed by police last night that two men had been arrested and officers from the counter-terrorist unit were leading the investigation into the killing.
...'I asked him if he did it and he said yes, and I said, "Why?" And he said because he has killed Muslim people in Muslim countries, he said he was a British solider and I said, "Really?" And he said, "I killed him because he killed Muslims and I am fed up with people killing Muslims in Afghanistan, they have nothing to do there".'Mrs Loyau-Kennett said that the attacker seemed to be 'in full control of his decisions and ready to do everything he wanted to do'.She added: 'I said, "Right now it is only you versus many people, you are going to lose, what would you like to do?" and he said, "I would like to stay and fight".'

Diversity, inclusiveness, multiculturalism... whatever term we use, it's another way of expressing the liberal mania for equality. Liberals believe as a matter of principle that the benefits of society should be equally available to all, and that it is one of the basic functions of government to make this possible. They want everyone of every race, ethnicity, sex, religion, culture, disability, and sexual orientation to equally participate in every major social institution.

The demand for inclusiveness is, in effect, the demand for the State to administer every dimension of human life unrestrained by either tradition or popular sentiment. It is the demand to erase our personal identities. Liberalism holds that I should not be treated any differently from anyone else on the basis of race, ethnicity, sex, etc. If who I am is to have no relation to my place in the world, then I am wholly displaced from the social order.

This is, of course, silly on its face. My race, ethnicity, sex, social class, and place of birth have as much to do with who I am as where I went to school or what kind of work I do. It's difficult to see why the latter should be paramount in determining my identity rather than the former. Man is a social animal, and the good life requires community, and community requires discrimination because human beings are different. It is an objective fact that if my workforce is primarily composed of meat eaters then bringing a vegetarian on board is going to damage workplace cohesion. Communities form from common interests, but historically they form from common ethnicities, races, nationalities, and religions whether it's the nation-state or the local neighborhood. Different peoples and different religions have different ideas of what constitutes the good life, ideas which will inevitably clash when forced into close quarters.

Imagine how disruptive to social order it has been for the Christian West to welcome millions of hostile African, Middle Eastern, and South East Asian Muslim immigrants. We don't need to stretch out imaginations far because we have seen Europe experimenting with this for some time. The bureaucrats like it because diversity requires an ever larger and more powerful State to administer the dysfunctional "youths" and crack down on the lonely voices who protest the systematic dismantling of their culture. And the liberals like it (but I repeat myself) because they want white people to pay for their sins by exterminating their historic nations. Multiculturalism is, ultimately, a form of slow motion anti-white genocide. Personally, I think it's too late for Europe. It's a shambling corpse that will eventually collapse when enough Muslims put a bullet in its collective brainpan. But God has worked miracles before and there may yet be a Charles Martel able and willing to turn back the Saracen invasion.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Vibrancy and diversity without end, amen

Diversity, not Jesus, saves says Episcopalian bishopette:

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church has denounced the Apostle Paul as mean-spirited and bigoted for having released a slave girl from demonic bondage as reported in Acts 16:16-34 .
In her sermon delivered at All Saints Church in Curaçao in the diocese of Venezuela, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori condemned those who did not share her views as enemies of the Holy Spirit.
The presiding bishop opened her remarks with an observation on the Dutch slave past. “The history of this place tells some tragic stories about the inability of some to see the beauty in other skin colors or the treasure of cultures they didn’t value or understand,” she said.
She continued stating: “Human beings have a long history of discounting and devaluing difference, finding it offensive or even evil.  That kind of blindness is what leads to oppression, slavery, and often, war.  Yet there remains a holier impulse in human life toward freedom, dignity, and the full flourishing of those who have been kept apart or on the margins of human communities.”
Just as the forces of historical inevitability led to the ending of industrial slavery, so too would the march of progress lead to a change in attitude towards homosexuality, she argued.
“We live with the continuing tension between holier impulses that encourage us to see the image of God in all human beings and the reality that some of us choose not to see that glimpse of the divine, and instead use other people as means to an end.  We’re seeing something similar right now in the changing attitudes and laws about same-sex relationships, as many people come to recognize that different is not the same thing as wrong.  For many people, it can be difficult to see God at work in the world around us, particularly if God is doing something unexpected.”
...Salvation comes not from being cleansed of our sins by the atoning sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, but through the divinization of humanity through the work of the human will. “We are here, among all the other creatures of God’s creation, to be transformed into the glory intended from the beginning.  The next time we feel the pain of that change, perhaps instead of annoyance or angry resentment we might pray for a new pair of glasses.  When resentment about difference or change builds up within us, it’s really an invitation to look inward for the wound that cries out for a healing dose of glory.  We will find it in the strangeness of our neighbor.  Celebrate that difference – for it’s necessary for the healing of this world – and know that the wholeness we so crave lies in recognizing the glory of God’s creative invitation.  God among us in human form is the most glorious act we know.” 
Show me a church that allows women to be pastors and I'll show you a church that will deny the bodily Resurrection of Christ within fifty years.

Monday Night Raw, 5/20/13: the start of this moment is the genesis of Curt Axel

My predictions for the Extreme Rules winners were 99.9% accurate. Technically, Cena vs. The Ryback was a no contest, but Cena retained his title so he can be considered the winner. Whatever happened to "Last Man Standing?" Ryback was the last man standing was he not?

I, Beefy Levinson, have a WWE exclusive. Everyone knows that Joe Hennig, son of Curtis "Mr. Perfect" Hennig, grandson of Larry "The Axe" Hennig, is now Paul Heyman's new client. He's been on WWE before as Michael Migillicutty. His new ring name is Curt Axel as an homage to his father and grandfather. Heyman sold it as well as he could. Choosing his client's new name was no easy task. I have here the official list of other possible names the two considered:

Slab Bulkhead, Fridge Largemeat, Punt Speedchunk, Butch Deadlift, Bold Bigflank, Splint Chesthair, Flint Ironstag, Bolt Vanderhuge, Thick McRunfast, Blast Hardcheese, Buff Drinklots, Crunch Slamchest, Fist Rockbone, Stump Beefknob, Smash Lampjaw, Punch Rockgroin, Buck Plankchest, Stump Junkman, Dirk Hardpec, Rip Steakface, Slate Slabrock, Crud Bonemeal, Brick Hardmeat, Rip Slagcheek, Punch Sideiron, Gristle McThornbody, Slate Fistcrunch, Buff Hardback, Bob Johnson, Blast Thickneck, Crunch Buttsteak, Slab Squatthrust, Lump Beefbroth, Touch Rustrod, Beef Blastbody, Big McLargehuge, Smoke Manmuscle, Beat Punchmeat, Hack Blowfist, Roll Fizzlebeef

Triple H came out to bury the newcomer. First he told him to be quiet because the adults were having a conversation. Then he slaps Terse Driveshaft hard enough to knock him down, and tells him that he's going to kick his ass. Later on that night, he did. Or did he? This is the second night in a row where WWE has ended a match with no clear winner. They didn't even bother with a false finish. They just decided, "Nah, that's enough wrestling for now." This is a new degree of burial. Triple H couldn't even be bothered to pin the man clean. I think I know what they're going for though. Axel gets to claim he "beat" Triple H, so he looks good. Triple H gets to claim he fought while concussed or whatever, so he looks good (which would be silly because Ziggler is legit concussed, but WWE booking.) Axel gives a promo next week calling Triple H a wimp. Triple H comes out and beats him up for ten minutes. The Cerebral King of Asskicking Games is desperate for that teary farewell from fans before he retires for good, eh? Look WWE Creative, this isn't that hard. If you want a new guy to get over, have him win a clear victory over the veteran. Focus on the new guy celebrating his victory. Don't declare a no contest and focus on the old guy who is now an executive within the company. If you don't want the new guy to get over, then why the hell do you people even bother? You people are supposed to tell us compelling stories, not give us weaksauce endings like these. Send me my paycheck Vince.

Swagger has officially been demoted to midcard status by jobbing to Randy Orton. He still has awesome music and the best manager.

Let's bask in the aftermath of that glorious six man tag team match. The Shield members are further refining their individual wrestling styles, but the whole is still greater than each of the parts. Daniel Bryan will never be the face of the company because he doesn't have the kind of physique that Vince McMahon likes, but he is without doubt the most over guy in the whole WWE. Think of him like the Mick Foley to Austin and Rock. He's the best pure wrestler on the roster and his promos are gold, every time. He needs to resume his singles career but I hope he and Kane remain friends. Or at least as close to friends as they can be. I don't know who is protecting the Shield in creative, but I pray their guardian angel continues to protect them in this company that delights in burying new talent.

Ryback opened the show by riding in an ambulance to the ring and calling out John Cena for an ambulance match. Later on in the night, Cody Rhodes defeats Zack Ryder. Ryback comes to the ring to destroy Ryder again and then dump him in the ambulance. The ambulance then backs out of the arena. I feel bad for the driver if he had to stay in the arena for the whole night.

Big E Langston won clean over Alberto Del Rio. Thus are sown the seeds of the future Ziggler/Big E split.

This company...

Monday, May 20, 2013

Look in my eyes, what do you see? The cult of personality

It's a misnomer to speak of a "vocations crisis" in the Catholic Church. Is anyone really prepared to argue that God is failing to call enough men to fill the ranks of the priesthood? Church leadership is wont to point the finger of blame outward: bishops blame our pornography saturated culture for making celibacy appear unattractive; they blame parents who want a more lucrative career for their sons; they blame a wholly materialistic culture that tells us whoever dies with the most toys wins; they blame a reluctance on the part of young people to make life-long commitments. All of these things play a part to be sure, but I don't think they're the only reasons or even the most important reasons. Celibacy is no harder today than it was during the fall of the Roman empire or during the Renaissance. Parents have always wanted more well-paying career tracks for their sons; St. Alphonsus Liguori's father was furious when his son announced he was quitting his career as a lawyer to become a priest. Even the heathens speak frequently of how America's materialistic culture kills the soul, so surely we civilized Catholics can do them one better. Catholics divorce and remarry at about the same rate as the general population these days, but they remain willing to devote themselves to political leaders who continually lie to them or ignore them.

The chief reason for the priest shortage lies with the personnel policies of Church leadership. They want to inspire young men to be priests but more often than not end up doing the opposite. If bishops and vocation directors are honest, they'll tell you that the problem they face is not that too few men aspire to be priests, but the kind of men who aspire to be priests. There is not a "vocations shortage" in the Catholic Church. It's more accurate to say that there is a shortage of the kind of men vocations directors and seminaries like who are able and willing to be priests given the current understanding of the nature of the priesthood. Compared to fifty years ago, the priesthood is depleted and demoralized. There are many ordained men who do not live as priests, and many priests who do not understand what their vocation actually means. Many Catholic men who might have become priests back then become instead teachers, bankers, doctors, lawyers, or social workers today.

There is no shortage of men who wish to enter the seminary or novitiate, but there is a shortage of men who get ordained or take final vows. The blame must rest squarely upon the clergy for this. For the last few decades many men who, by all of the traditional criteria, fittingly aspired to the priestly life have been unable to survive the formation process. Vocations directors will tell you that they receive a disproportionate number of applications from self-identified Traditionalists. These young men are typically interested in the things that only priests can do: confect the Eucharist and absolve penitents. Seminary faculty ding these men for being too narrow - or worst of all, rigid - for not being as interested in social justice, or cutting edge theology, or other things that the faculty thinks important. I'm not going to make specific charges that can no longer be substantiated, but anyone who has been in the seminary can tell you that there is often a strong homosexual subculture that alienates healthy heterosexual men from ever trying their vocation. You don't have to take my word for it - Fr. Donald Cozzens and Fr. Andrew Greeley, no conservatives they, have written extensively on the reach and power of the lavender mafia. To be fair, American seminaries are much improved compared to thirty or twenty years ago. Even so, there are some seminaries where I would consider it to be to a man's great credit if he got himself dismissed.

It sounds trite, but I believe there would be far more priests if Church leadership emphasized those specifically priestly duties: offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and absolving repentant sinners. These days a priest is not only a priest, but he also has to be a fundraiser, an administrator, and a counselor. Many of them end up as mere bureaucrats who don't date, as social workers who can't get married. This is not to say they don't work hard; priests are some of the hardest working men you'll ever meet. The problem is they end up having to do a lot of work that could just as easily be trusted to a lay person. If priests could spend more time on those specifically priestly things such as improving the liturgy, improving their preaching, praying more, and spending more time hearing confessions, the life of the Church would be immensely improved. I don't think we need to belabor just how God awful so many priests are about their preaching: "Jesus was a nice guy so let's all be nice guys too." When it comes time for communion, the smiling old priest is surrounded by a bevy of clip haired old ladies in pant suits who distribute communion and offer "blessings" to people who come up with their arms crossed. Why should a healthy young man give up a wife and family when he can just be a lay minister or whatever?

Contrary to what the heretics say, priests are essential. No priests, no Eucharist. No Eucharist, no Church. If you read the linked article, you'll find that Mr. Cahill said his priest friend defined his priesthood as "all about the people, all about relationships, all about service, all about Jesus' message of love and inclusiveness." That sounds all well and good but... why do I need to be a priest to be all about people, relationships, and service? Why do I need to give up a wife and family to be all about love and inclusiveness? Emphasize those specifically priestly duties, and the men will come. Stop blurring the ontological distinction between states of life. Stop clericalizing the laity and laicizing the clergy and they will come.

H/T: Michael Liccione

The madness will never die, yeah

Randy Savage passed away two years ago today:

It wasn’t as funny as it seemed. Randy and other ICW performers began showing up at opposition shows, threatening to disrupt matches and frightening their adversaries to the point that some began arming themselves. During a confrontation outside a diner, Memphis Wrestling’s Superstar Bill Dundee pulled a gun on the Macho Man. Savage grappled it away and pistol-whipped him.
Jake "The Snake" Roberts's cobra died a few days after biting the Macho Man. It couldn't handle the madness! RIP to one of the greatest.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

"All at once a sound came from heaven like that of a strong wind blowing"

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today we contemplate and re-live in the liturgy the outpouring of the Holy Spirit sent by the risen Christ upon his Church; an event of grace which filled the Upper Room in Jerusalem and then spread throughout the world.

But what happened on that day, so distant from us and yet so close as to touch the very depths of our hearts? Luke gives us the answer in the passage of the Acts of the Apostles which we have heard (2:1-11). The evangelist brings us back to Jerusalem, to the Upper Room where the apostles were gathered. The first element which draws our attention is the sound which suddenly came from heaven “like the rush of a violent wind”, and filled the house; then the “tongues as of fire” which divided and came to rest on each of the apostles. Sound and tongues of fire: these are clear, concrete signs which touch the apostles not only from without but also within: deep in their minds and hearts. As a result, “all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit”, who unleashed his irresistible power with amazing consequences: they all “began to speak in different languages, as the Spirit gave them ability”. A completely unexpected scene opens up before our eyes: a great crowd gathers, astonished because each one heard the apostles speaking in his own language. They all experience something new, something which had never happened before: “We hear them, each of us, speaking our own language”. And what is it that they are they speaking about? “God’s deeds of power”.

In the light of this passage from Acts, I would like to reflect on three words linked to the working of the Holy Spirit: newness, harmony and mission.

1. Newness always makes us a bit fearful, because we feel more secure if we have everything under control, if we are the ones who build, programme and plan our lives in accordance with our own ideas, our own comfort, our own preferences. This is also the case when it comes to God. Often we follow him, we accept him, but only up to a certain point. It is hard to abandon ourselves to him with complete trust, allowing the Holy Spirit to be the soul and guide of our lives in our every decision. We fear that God may force us to strike out on new paths and leave behind our all too narrow, closed and selfish horizons in order to become open to his own. Yet throughout the history of salvation, whenever God reveals himself, he brings newness and change, and demands our complete trust: Noah, mocked by all, builds an ark and is saved; Abram leaves his land with only a promise in hand; Moses stands up to the might of Pharaoh and leads his people to freedom; the apostles, huddled fearfully in the Upper Room, go forth with courage to proclaim the Gospel. This is not a question of novelty for novelty’s sake, the search for something new to relieve our boredom, as is so often the case in our own day. The newness which God brings into our life is something that actually brings fulfilment, that gives true joy, true serenity, because God loves us and desires only our good. Let us ask ourselves: Are we open to “God’s surprises”? Or are we closed and fearful before the newness of the Holy Spirit? Do we have the courage to strike out along the new paths which God’s newness sets before us, or do we resist, barricaded in transient structures which have lost their capacity for openness to what is new?

2. A second thought: the Holy Spirit would appear to create disorder in the Church, since he brings the diversity of charisms and gifts; yet all this, by his working, is a great source of wealth, for the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of unity, which does not mean uniformity, but which leads everything back to harmony. In the Church, it is the Holy Spirit who creates harmony. One of Fathers of the Church has an expression which I love: the Holy Spirit himself is harmony – “Ipse harmonia est”. Only the Spirit can awaken diversity, plurality and multiplicity, while at the same time building unity. Here too, when we are the ones who try to create diversity and close ourselves up in what makes us different and other, we bring division. When we are the ones who want to build unity in accordance with our human plans, we end up creating uniformity, standardization. But if instead we let ourselve be guided by the Spirit, richness, variety and diversity never become a source of conflict, because he impels us to experience variety within the communion of the Church. Journeying together in the Church, under the guidance of her pastors who possess a special charism and ministry, is a sign of the working of the Holy Spirit. Having a sense of the Church is something fundamental for every Christian, every community and every movement. It is the Church which brings Christ to me, and me to Christ; parallel journeys are dangerous! When we venture beyond (proagon) the Church’s teaching and community, and do not remain in them, we are not one with the God of Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Jn 9). So let us ask ourselves: Am I open to the harmony of the Holy Spirit, overcoming every form of exclusivity? Do I let myself be guided by him, living in the Church and with the Church?

3. A final point. The older theologians used to say that the soul is a kind of sailboat, the Holy Spirit is the wind which fills its sails and drives it forward, and the gusts of wind are the gifts of the Spirit. Lacking his impulse and his grace, we do not go forward. The Holy Spirit draws us into the mystery of the living God and saves us from the threat of a Church which is gnostic and self-referential, closed in on herself; he impels us to open the doors and go forth to proclaim and bear witness to the good news of the Gospel, to communicate the joy of faith, the encounter with Christ. The Holy Spirit is the soul of mission. The events that took place in Jerusalem almost two thousand years ago are not something far removed from us; they are events which affect us and become a lived experience in each of us. The Pentecost of the Upper Room in Jerusalem is the beginning, a beginning which endures. The Holy Spirit is the supreme gift of the risen Christ to his apostles, yet he wants that gift to reach everyone. As we heard in the Gospel, Jesus says: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to remain with you forever” (Jn 14:16). It is the Paraclete Spirit, the “Comforter”, who grants us the courage to take to the streets of the world, bringing the Gospel! The Holy Spirit makes us look to the horizon and drive us to the very outskirts of existence in order to proclaim life in Jesus Christ. Let us ask ourselves: do we tend to stay closed in on ourselves, on our group, or do we let the Holy Spirit open us to mission?

Today’s liturgy is a great prayer which the Church, in union with Jesus, raises up to the Father, asking him to renew the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. May each of us, and every group and movement, in the harmony of the Church, cry out to the Father and implore this gift. Today too, as at her origins, the Church, in union with Mary, cries out:“Veni, Sancte Spiritus! Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love!” Amen.

- Pope Francis, homily for Pentecost Sunday, 5/19/13

Text from page
of the Vatican Radio website 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Friday Night Smackdown, 5/17/13: Challenge of the Super Friends

Allow me to indulge my invincible superiority complex and lecture WWE on how to do its job. They have handled the Fandango vs. Jericho feud better than they have other feuds in recent months. The old WWF, and especially WCW, knew how to build up these conflicts. The key is to have the heel get the better of the face more often than not on TV. The heel should win dirty, insult the fans, enrage the face, and be an all around terrible-horrible-no good-very bad man. That way everyone is eager to purchase the PPV so they can see the heel get his richly deserved comeuppance. Fandango and Jericho have gone back and forth, but Fandango has gotten the better of Jericho in numerous encounters on free TV. Their dance off was silly but WWE managed to get it right by having Summer Rae get in on humiliating Jericho. I am quite confident that Jericho will win on Sunday, and I'm okay with that. He and Fandango have had a good run, and he's helped Fandango get over. As much as that gimmick can get over anyway.

The rest of the roster is a different story. It feels like every week we see the Super Friends (Cena, Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, Randy Orton) beat up on the Legion of Doom (Ryback, Mark Henry, Jack Swagger, and Big Show.) At least on the cartoon show you got the impression that the Legion could be a serious threat. Heck, in one episode they succeeded in destroying the world before time traveling aliens set things right.

The show opened with the return of WWE cramming the Miz down our throats with Miz TV. He began by allowing Big Show and Randy Orton to yell at each other. Like a Super Friends roll call, one by one Alberto Del Rio, Jack Swagger, Mark Henry, and Sheamus all came down to the ring to trash talk each other. Well, Sheamus horse whipped Mark Henry with a leather strap and cleared the ring. Sheamus should just stop talking all together and just vigorously whip his opponents instead of cracking lame jokes. They went to commercial break. I was amazed, astonished, flabbergasted, thunderstruck. Six men in the ring on Smackdown? All became right with the world when they returned from break. Guess who came out?

That's the Smackdown I know and love. Teddy must be slowing down as he gets older. Backstage he's talking to Miz when Damian Sandow appears and demands his own show. MAKE IT HAPPEN WWE.

Cesaro vs. Jericho was a good match. Zeb Colter gave his first "We the People" promo in a long time. Again, WWE wants us to think of Colter and Swagger as Ugly American style heels, but I found myself nodding in agreement with Dirty Dutch as he railed against the latest government scandals and millions of Americans being out of work. Being extreme is the only sane response to an extreme world, he said. Hell yeah!

The Miz vs. Sandow was another good match. Cody Rhodes noticed the crowd was dead so he got on the mic halfway through the match to demand that they show some respect for the intellectual savior of the unwashed masses. Sandow deserves a push. He's good in the ring and awesome on the mic, much more so than the Miz. Josh Mathews compared Sandow to General Zod. "KNEEL!" should become one of his catch phrases.

Next was a Divas match between Kaitlyn and Aksana. I don't think the announcers talked about the match going on in the ring at all while it was happening. Why does WWE do this to their own female superstars? They must regret giving John Laurinaitis so much money.

I didn't pay as much attention to the six man tag match just because I've grown tired of seeing these same six guys in the same matches week after week. I'm still not convinced to buy the PPV tomorrow. Spoiler alert: Brock Lesnar wins, John Cena wins, Chris Jericho wins, ADR wins, Sheamus wins, Orton wins, and every member of the Shield wins.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Noble lies and the Ubermensch

(title shamelessly stolen from Zippy Catholic)

Liberalism portrays itself as being committed to science, facts, rationality, and reason as opposed to the ignorant, superstitious, bigoted, irrational Right. So then why all of the hysteria surrounding the paper by Jason Richwine which shows that Hispanics have, on average, a lower IQ than native born American whites and argues that we should take this into account when determining an immigration policy? The question of whether Hispanics have a lower average IQ than whites is ultimately a question of fact. Either they do or they do not. Obviously there is room for discussion on how much this IQ difference should matter as a question of public policy, but to hound Richwine out of his job, tar him as a racist, and say that this is not a topic for civilized society? And we really think we're superior to our poor dumb Puritan ancestors who led witch hunts!

What's happening here is Richwine impugned a liberal dogma, that of Zero Group Differences. The orthodox formulation of ZGD goes something like this:

Experiment Y:  Take a largish group—say five thousand—of people at random from any fairly compact, but not too compact, populated region—fifty to a hundred miles across, say—anywhere in the world.  Now take a second group of the same size from some other similar region elsewhere.  Run both groups through batteries of mental and personality tests. 
There can only be one result:

Experiment Y will, under all circumstances, with all possible combinations of groups, deliver identical statistical profiles on all metrics, with only statistically insignificant variations.
Atheists caricature the theological virtue of faith as being the acceptance of something based on no evidence whatsoever. That is not what the theological virtue of faith is, but it's a pretty good description of the strength of ZGD. How is it that ZGD has persevered for so long despite having no empirical evidence in its favor and tons of evidence against it?

Liberals, being in rebellion against the laws of nature and nature's God, know only atoms and the void. The noble lie of ZGD was created in part as a reaction to the ignoble lie of materialistic reductionism. Liberals are devoted to equality above all else. However, if ZGD is false and Human Biodiversity is true then that means there will be inescapable inequalities in the economic outcome of different ethnic groups. If philosophical materialism is a given, then equality reduces us all to utilitarian calculations. To the liberal, making these inequalities go away is imperative because to be unequal in the socio-political-economic realm - the only realm that matters - is to be less than human. Everyone implicitly understands that if atoms and the void are all that exist, then ZGD is the only thing standing between the advanced liberal superman and the Nazi.

Traditional Catholic teaching holds that human beings are equal in the sense that we are all created in the image and likeness of God, and that he will judge us all according to his standard, not to the standards of the world. Deontologically, we all belong to God and as such each individual human being qua human being has intrinsic value and moral worth. This is why it's silly to ask a parent which one of their children they love the most, or to make utilitarian calculations about body counts when discussing historical questions such as nuking Hiroshima as opposed to a ground invasion of Japan at the end of WWII. This is why abortion is considered such a great evil: it is the willful destruction of the most helpless human beings of all.

Liberalism is aimed at the creation of the free and equal new man, liberated from nature, tradition, God, and all unwilled constraints. Standing in the way of the liberal superman is the oppressor untermensch who seeks to keep the superman bound in chains. If the purpose of the State is to ensure equal freedom and equal rights for all then existentially there must always be oppressors to be overcome. The State must be ever vigilant and be granted ever greater powers to ensure non-judgmental equal freedom for all. Anyone who opposes the march of liberalism must be converted or vanquished. Kermit Gosnell's clinic was filled with the eviscerated remains of children who stood in the way of the mother's freedom and autonomy. The sick and the elderly who can no longer choose or will anything for themselves are euthanized because they have become less than human. Men like Richwine and those who question liberal dogma are the worst of all for we have freely chosen to reject the liberal vision of absolute freedom and equality for all. We are heretics who must be destroyed.

H/T: What's Wrong with the World

This Richwine left a bitter aftertaste

The burning at the stake of Jason Richwine is the most depressing thing I've seen in what passes for American political discourse in many years. Richwine was a Harvard trained scholar at the Heritage Foundation who committed an enormous gaffe - a gaffe in the Washingtonian sense of saying out loud what everyone knows to be true. He wrote a paper concerning the latest amnesty bill in Congress which pointed out that Hispanics generally have a lower IQ than whites. All of the respectable media voices immediately cried out for the heretic to be burned. To his credit, Andrew Sullivan came to Richwine's defense, as did Mr. Bell Curve himself Charles Murray.

Liberalism is about the equal satisfaction of the equal desires of the free and equal superman who has been liberated from the shackles of unchosen constraints such as race, IQ, gender, or nationality. In practice, this is impossible as these things cannot be made to go away. To ensure that they don't matter requires an ever larger and more intrusive State to ensure that we remain perfectly equal in every way.

The Dark Enlightenment was born from the realization that everyone in public life is a liberal of either the right or left variety. Not once in this whole brouhaha has anyone, in their high moral dudgeon, deigned to demonstrate flaws in Richwine's data or analysis. They haven't because they can't. On average, the IQ of blacks is about one standard deviation below the average IQ of whites. Hispanics generally score somewhere between blacks and whites. If these statements were the designs of evil white racists, it's baffling why east Asians would score similar to whites with Jews sitting at the top. Putting your fingers in your ears and chanting "Pseudo-science, shoddy work, raciss" over and over again will not change reality. Facts are stubborn things, as some racist imperialist old white man once said. Race is not a social construct pal.

For the Catholic faith, the reality of IQ differences based partly on genetics is something to take in stride. St. Peter is not going to give us an IQ test at the pearly gates. Truth cannot contradict truth, so Christians needn't sweat it too much about the day when enough people notice that the multicultural emperor is naked and the world accepts human biodiversity. For the liberal religion however, widespread acceptance of HBD would be a catastrophic blow. It would have enormous implications for every level of social policy. For one, phony-baloney plastic-banana good-time-rock-and-roll policies like No Child Left Behind would have to be jettisoned. I imagine it would be an enormous relief for public school teachers to know that they don't need to worry about closing the Gap anymore because the Gap cannot be closed.

The Cathedral would probably survive somehow because liberalism is based on an impulse as old as creation: the desire to rebel against God and nature. The devil was the first liberal.

H/T: Steve Sailer

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Protestant soteriology is bad for children and other living things

Soteriology is too big a subject to confine to one blog post, but I've noticed a fairly common error among Catholics about the nature of the atonement. Ask any Christian in the United States "Why did Jesus Christ have to die?" and you will probably hear a response that falls under the penal substitution theory of the atonement. "Jesus took upon himself the full punishment for all the sins of humanity," or "Jesus freely gave himself up to the punishment we ourselves deserved." There are a few problems with the penal substitution theory of the atonement.

What does the mercy of God mean if the full punishment for sin was in fact meted out? The fullness of God's divine wrath was not withheld but redirected to a third party, an innocent party. How is that either just or merciful?  This leads to another problem: the full punishment for sin is not simply death; it is eternal separation from God in hell, not three days in the tomb. If Christ was punished for all of the sins committed by all human beings of all time, then doesn't that give us a license to sin? God would be unjust to punish both us and Christ for the same sin, and since Christ has already been punished, he could not in justice punish us as well. There are only two ways to resolve this dilemma: Universalism, the "All Dogs go to Heaven" theory of salvation, or John Calvin's double pre-destination, where Christ only died to save the elect and the damned are predestined for hell, leaving the elect free to sin with impunity.

The biggest problem with the penal substitution theory for Catholics is that it leaves no room for a perpetual, propitiatory sacrifice for our sins. If Christ died on the cross to accept the punishment for sins for all men in all times and places, then why would we need to continually re-present that sacrifice to God? We wouldn't. So then why would Catholics need to go to Mass at all? These days we tend to emphasize the subjective benefits of going to Mass: we go to receive our Blessed Lord in Holy Communion, and to worship in common with the whole mystical Body of Christ, our brothers and sisters in the faith. That isn't wrong but we are omitting something important. Consider this: it is a precept of the Church that Catholics are to attend Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation (going to Mass more often is praiseworthy). It is also a precept that we are to receive Holy Communion at least once a year (again, receiving more often is praiseworthy and to be encouraged).

We must attend Mass every Sunday but we are not obligated to receive Holy Communion every Sunday. In practice, many Catholics have inverted this: the so-called "Christmas and Easter" Catholics who haven't darkened the doorway of a confessional in decades but still happily tromp up to receive communion at weddings and funerals. The reason for the precepts is that the Mass is not primarily about the subjective benefits we receive. It is to give God the honor that he is due. This is what Catholics mean when we speak of "the Sacrifice of the Mass." It is a propitiatory unbloody re-presentation of the bloody sacrifice of Calvary offered to God. Jesus Christ was both the high priest and the sacrifice as the letter to the Hebrews tells us. The priest, acting in persona Christi, becomes the offerer and the offered at every Mass every Sunday. Today I believe there is an upside-down emphasis on the communal meal aspects of the Mass at the expense of the traditional understanding of the Mass as a sacrifice. If the penal substitution theory is true, then it makes sense that we should think of the Mass as only a Communion Service for the benefit of the community.

So if penal substitution is incorrect, what is the correct Catholic understanding of the atonement? It's known among theology nerds as the satisfaction theory. At a superficial glance, the satisfaction theory appears similar to penal substitution, but there are vital differences. That deserves its own post, but in the mean time the decrees of the Council of Trent about the sacrificial nature of the Mass provide some enlightenment on divine satisfaction:
CANON I.--If any one saith, that in the mass a true and proper sacrifice is not offered to God; or, that to be offered is nothing else but that Christ is given us to eat; let him be anathema.
CANON III.--If any one saith, that the sacrifice of the mass is only a sacrifice of praise and of thanksgiving; or, that it is a bare commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross, but not a propitiatory sacrifice; or, that it profits him only who receives; and that it ought not to be offered for the living and the dead for sins, pains, satisfactions, and other necessities; let him be anathema.  

 And of course St. Thomas:

 Christ's Passion is in two ways the cause of our reconciliation to God. In the first way, inasmuch as it takes away sin by which men became God's enemies, according to Wisdom 14:9: "To God the wicked and his wickedness are hateful alike"; and Psalm 5:7: "Thou hatest all the workers of iniquity." In another way, inasmuch as it is a most acceptable sacrifice to God. Now it is the proper effect of sacrifice to appease God: just as man likewise overlooks an offense committed against him on account of some pleasing act of homage shown him. Hence it is written (1 Samuel 26:19): "If the Lord stir thee up against me, let Him accept of sacrifice." And in like fashion Christ's voluntary suffering was such a good act that, because of its being found in human nature, God was appeased for every offense of the human race with regard to those who are made one with the crucified Christ in the aforesaid manner (1, ad 4).

H/T: Unam Sanctam Catholicam

Monday Night Raw, 5/13/13: A set of steak knives for this man

It occurred to me when I stumbled into work bleary eyed, mumbly, and wickedly hung over that I should write my reviews of Monday Night Raw while I'm actively getting smashed. I failed to write a review for last Friday's Smackdown because I fell asleep during the last half hour of the program (that was all on me, not WWE. This time.)

I'm glad they've paired Jericho with Faaaaandaaaaaangooooo. Jericho has been making the newcomer look good in all of their matches, and Johnny Curtis is already no slouch in the ring. But a dance off? What is it with Vince McMahon and dancing? Now that I think about it, there's probably always been at least one wrestler with a dancing gimmick on the roster ever since I started watching WWE with my dad back in the late 1980's. I'll admit I enjoyed Rikishi and 2 Cool. Summer Rae is a handsome woman as good old JR might put it, but I prefer Fandango's older dancing partner. Damn.

Zack Ryder jobbed to Ryback in about a minute and ten seconds. I'm surprised WWE didn't censor the chants of "GOLDBERG" from the crowd. Physical resemblance aside, Ryback is no Goldberg. WCW was smart with Goldberg. They built him up over the course of nearly a year before he got his first title shot, picking up some lesser titles along the way. Ryback had a series of squash matches and suddenly became a main event headliner. And lost every PPV. John Cena doesn't take The Ryback seriously. Why should we? We already know how their match on Sunday is going to play out, don't we? Super Cena overcomes impossible odds and an excruciating injury to his Achilles Tendon for a come-from-behind win with the 1 2 3 BY GAWD BY GAWD MRS. CENA'S BABY BOY HAS DONE IT LADIES AND GENTLEMEN YOUR 28 TIME WWE CHAMPION SUPER CENA!

Teddy Long came out and much to everyone's surprise did not book a tag team match. Dolph Ziggler suffered a concussion last week on Smackdown and he is officially out for this Sunday. It certainly didn't hurt his Twittering any. I don't have Twitter but seriously, Dolph stole the show last night and he wasn't even on the air. Joey Styles said he was considering taking a shot every time Michael Cole said "WWE App." Good call Joey. That would be too much even for me.

The Prime Time Players defeated Tons of Funk. Moving on...

Kofi Kingston vs. Damian Sandow. Sandow holds his mic like a snifter of fine brandy as he employs his sesquipedalian locquaciousness to inform us, the unwashed masses, of the depths of our intellectual ineptitude. And then goes on to job to Kingston. Kofi is where he is because he's a great athlete but mediocre on the mic and doesn't have the acting chops to play a convincing heel. Solid, solid mid-card guy. Sandow is good and the ring and awesome on the mic. I hope his career takes off this year.

Sheamus and Mark Henry vigorously horse whip each other with leather straps. Henry's come a long way from the days of fathering hands.

Randy Orton beats Antonio Cesaro in another throw away match. Cesaro had a great match with Kingston last week on Main Event. Here Orton pretty much destroyed him in less than five minutes. What was the point of that? I've heard rumors on the internets that, Vince and Triple H aside, WWE management finds him boring. Creative thinks like this: "Antonio Cesaro is too boring. What we need is MORE KHALI."

The Miz defeats Heath Slater. Is Miz a face or a heel now? It's hard for me to tell the difference just because I find his character so irritating. "Really? Really? Really?" Knock it off. Be a man and call him out immediately: "You sir are a damned liar or you are delusional."

John Cena and Team Hell No take on the Shield in a six man elimination tag team match. Excellent, excellent match with the Shield, as always. They lost as a team for the first time but they got the last laugh by giving Cena the triple power bomb. I give Super Cena a lot of heat (some clever fan held up a sign which read "Seen Enuffa Cena") but he sold this match well, I thought. Kane got himself disqualified. Bryan got pinned after some excellent team work from the Shield. Cena faced them three on one. Reigns got himself disqualified. It was a believable finish to a good match. Well done.

Jack Swagger vs Big E Langston. This match was a rare heel vs heel match. The crowd seemed dead but once in a while they chanted for Swagger. Decent enough.

AJ Lee beat Natalya with a... interesting submission hold. Divas matches these days are generally underwhelming but they're even harder to watch when AJ is in the ring. Natalya is an Amazon and AJ is what, 5'2" and 100 pound soaking wet?

Triple H gave a promo inside a steel cage. Sure, why not? They didn't convince me to buy Extreme Rules.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Word to your mother

Yesterday was Mother's Day. I thought about getting my mother a sentimental Hallmark card, but I sent her this instead. I mean, what else is there to say that he didn't say better?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

An economics class can change your life

There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch is a cliché, but like all clichés it became one because it contains a kernel of truth. Real life involves trade offs. Every choice you make has an opportunity cost. The time you spend at work is time you cannot spend fishing, or drinking, or smoking (if it is, I envy you.) More and more women are learning the hard way that they can't have it all:

There are now two million lone-parent families in the UK — they account for one in four of the nation’s families — and rising numbers of them are headed by educated, middle-class women.
Many of these, forced by the ticking of their biological clocks and their failure to find the right partner, have procreated by non-traditional methods such as sperm donation, egg donation and IVF.
Because typically these women are deferring motherhood until they are 35 when their fertility is in perilous decline, they are often having just one child. It is also financially very exacting to raise a child alone.
Passive language pervades this article. She failed to find the right partner. Mr. Right just never showed up. Or even better, it's men's fault for failing to meet their end of the bargain:

‘In your teens you envisage marriage and two children,’ she says. ‘Then my 20s were career-focused and I got to my 30s and hadn’t met a man good enough to be a father. They fell far short of my expectations.
It could be that you failed to meet their expectations Madame. Ladies: if you are going to college for any reason other than to find a husband, you are insane. Think about it from the man's point of view. Why should he choose a grouchy overweight thirty-something who focused on her career and spent her twenties riding the Alpha carousel, when there are plenty of younger, thinner, and more fertile girls ready and eager for marriage? You can damn me for being a sexist pig for saying such things, you can rage against men for their preferences which leave you out in the cold all you please, but that doesn't change the reality.

You cannot have it all. Simple biology should be enough to convince you: women's fertility dramatically declines starting in their thirties. If you choose your career over becoming a wife and mother, that's your business. Before you make that decision, be mindful that if you change your mind in your mid thirties or forties, it's probably going to be too late. The longer you defer, the less likely it will ever happen. If you're serious about motherhood, it would behoove you to spend less time in your twenties pursuing nebulous "career goals" and more time getting to know the men in your social circles.

What, there aren't any men who meet your expectations, your highness? Try this experiment for me. Train yourself to stop thinking "There aren't any good guys out there" and to start thinking "There are a lot of great guys out there." That all by itself will dramatically improve your chances of finding a good husband.

h/t: Oz Conservative

Slumming it in anathema land

The leader of our Catholic young adult group describes St. Thomas Aquinas as knowing the objections to the faith better than the objectors themselves do. Thomas regretted the medieval Church's tendency to burn heretical books, because he believed that by refuting the strongest arguments for error we can arrive at a better grasp of the truth. For example, the canons of the First Vatican Council declared the following about the nature of God:

  • If anyone says that
    • the one, true God, our creator and lord, cannot be known with certainty
      • from the things that have been made,
      • by the natural light of human reason:
    let him be anathema.
Let that sink in. The Church is teaching us that anyone who denies that the existence of God can be proven by human reason alone is not just wrong but anathema. If we doubt, set aside, or deny the rational preambles to the faith, then hope and charity are robbed of their foundation. Instead they become based on our subjective feelings or experience of the divine, which is characteristic of Modernism. It won't do to say that reason alone can prove that the possibility of God's existence is reasonable. Common sense tells us that since the existence of God does not involve a contradiction, it is possible that he exists. But that is not what the Church teaches. The Church teaches that God's existence is real, not merely possible, and that the reality of God's existence can be reached through human reason alone. If God's existence can be proven through reason alone, then what does it mean to have the supernatural virtue of faith?

Reason cannot demonstrate supernatural truths such as God  being a Trinity of persons or the Real Presence in the Eucharist. These are truths revealed by divine revelation and accepted on faith. The act of faith does not rob Christianity of its rational character. Reason must recognize that there are knowable truths beyond its own limits. Reason assents to these truths not because of logical necessity stemming from evidence, but with the supernatural aid of grace. Faith is the virtue that resides in the intellect. How is it that we learn of the Catholic faith? It is taught to us by other people: our parents, our priests, our catechists, our RCIA instructors, etc.

The fact that there has been a divine revelation to us is knowable through history. The authority of that revelation is also something that can be shown through reason. We don't accept God's authority solely on God's authority. We accept divine revelation as authoritative because of arguments showing that it comes from a God whose authority can be known through an analytical examination of the concept of God. Thus the sources of Catholic authority are grounded on reason. Reason submits to authority because reason itself sees that it must submit. Our grounds for believing rest not on our own limited capacities but in the truth of God's own Being.

Modernism holds that our faith is produced by our subjective feelings and experience of the divine, and that whatever conceptual truths that the intellect holds are just expressions of our feelings. Liberal society finds it gauche to assert that rational certitude is the preamble to faith. We value searching more than finding, doubt more than certitude. It sounds like the more humble position, to value the journey more than the destination, but it is in reality a form of immense pride. What is it we really value when we say we prefer the search to the truth? We value our subjective movements, our ego, more than the Good our intellect and will was designed to find. Faith is the virtue specifically related to our intellect. Tending toward God is hope.

The ground for the certainty of faith lies outside of the believer. For the true believer, this certainty is the most unshakeable of all certainties no matter what his subjective experiences. "Even if I am damned, Christ reigns." Supernatural truth (the Trinity, the Real Presence, etc.) is neither discoverable nor verifiable by reason. The believer must simply receive it and accept it. To believe with Catholic faith - that is, based on the authority of God - is to believe that no argument ever devised or that ever will be devised will ever prevail against the faith. It is to know that every argument ever marshaled against the Catholic faith is false, inconsequential, riddled with contradictions, or readily answerable. Reason cannot lead us to supernatural truths, but it can refute every argument made against them. Are you prepared to solemnly swear that nothing that ever has or ever will be discovered by the light of human knowledge can ever disprove the Catholic faith? If you are not so prepared, then you do not have Catholic faith.

h/t Iota Unum

Cross posted to Catholic Veritas