Thursday, June 26, 2014

Actions speak louder than words, and silence can speak volumes

Dalrock posts about a strange interaction on Catholic Answers Forum:
I thought that at first as well, but after re reading the exchange is isn’t a non sequitur at all. As part of her question she said she wants to frivorce but fears doing so will cause her to struggle financially. In response, he reminds her about the cash and prizes she will be rewarded with if she betrays her marriage vows. Here are the relevant excerpts from the full exchange.
A fear I face, is that if I go on my own, I will face many troubles financially which is a reality that I will have to endure. I’m driven and motivated, and I feel that God has given me talents, blessings, and an opportunity to do something magnificent with the life He has given me. And I feel an overwhelming sense that I need to just trust Him that it will all be ok if I just take this risk and do this.
The priest:
The Catholic Church does allow a Catholic to file for divorce as a legal means of equitably dividing goods that were held in common.
 Fr. Serpa is normally pretty good so this answer is baffling. The woman has clearly made up her mind that she wants out, and posted to CAF looking for encouragement or possibly for someone to talk her down. She outright says that her husband is not abusive. As Cail Corishev accurately put it, Fr. Serpa's response is technically correct but ultimately misleading. God hates divorce, and frivolous divorce is deeply sinful. Nowhere does he warn her that divorcing her husband for no good reason would be putting her soul at risk.

99% of the priests I've known have a peculiar timidity about speaking God's honest truth. As near as I can tell, their thinking goes like this: "If I tell this woman that frivolously divorcing her husband would be a mortal sin that could put her in danger of eternal damnation, then she'll get angry or discouraged, leave the parish, and enter a downward spiral of sin and despair from which she'll never escape. If I soft pedal the Church's teachings and do anything, anything at all, to keep her in the pews, then there's a chance she'll stick around and be converted." That's the most charitable light I can put on it anyway.

I understand the need to be pastoral and stuff (only God knows how many acts of cowardice were committed in the name of being pastoral) but that thinking betrays a certain pride, does it not? "I, and I alone, am responsible for this woman's salvation so I have to walk on egg shells and pick just the right euphemisms to keep her around." Eventually there comes a point where we have to say, "God's truths can be hard. I'm sorry you're leaving but I pray the Holy Spirit may bring you home like the Prodigal Son. God's will be done." Catholics are called to preach the Gospel in season and out of season, whether it's popular or unpopular. We can show people the way, but they're ultimately responsible for choosing whether to walk it or not.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Human nature will out

I don't know whether to think this is badass or horrifying. I agree with the manosphere's oft-repeated assertion that the modern world seems specifically designed to castrate men, to form men without chests as C.S. Lewis put it. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. No matter how often the blank slaters subject us to their inhuman ideology, men and women are different. It sounds silly to say that out loud, but asserting that men and women are essentially different is a source of much controversy in our degenerate culture. Men, however, are not born but made. If a man grows up without a father figure or some healthy outlet for his masculine drives, then those same drives will manifest in unhealthy ways such as delinquency, gang violence, video game and pornography addiction, drug and alcohol abuse, and so on.

On the one hand, I strongly dislike the idolatrous pagan flavor of that organization. On the other hand, I admire their devotion to the group and to a masculine ideal. We Catholics can do something similar. We used to do something similar. Such strong communities devoted to common belief and common practice are all but extinct, but they still exist in isolated pockets. They can accomplish great things:
Now, please take a moment and read this article in its entirety. These two tiny little towns have produced 80 nuns and 44 priests - and the two towns combined only have a population of 2,162! Now I know all those vocations happened gradually over the years, but just for giggles, if we do the math and divide the number of vocations by population, an astounding 5% of the population of these two villages enters priesthood or religious life. I know the statistic is not accurate, but you get the point; getting 44 priests out of two dinky towns in the post-Vatican II period is simply amazing. The Diocese of Lincoln has nothing on Fowler and Westphalia!
I almost can't conceive of such a thing from a post-Vatican II Novus Ordo parish, but there it is.

Gammas in the mist

Larry Correia is one of my favorite living SF/F authors. I eagerly await the release of his latest entry in the Monster Hunter series. Don't click on the link if you've never read any of the books yet. In a series that long, the blurbs inevitably contain spoilers, heh. Another reason why I enjoy Correia is the way he utterly destroys leftists on his personal blog and on Twitter. If John C. Wright is the rapier, Correia is the big ass war hammer.
Larry Correia is the author of science fiction fantasy Monster Hunter series and the Grimnoir Chronicles, among other titles. He is also an unapologetically right-leaning supporter of the second amendment and firearms instructor. This sets him apart from a lot of folks in his industry leading to the occasional dust up.
After the freakout sparked by Miss Nevada promoting women’s self defense, Correia wrote a blog post with the headline The Naive Idiocy of Teaching Rapists Not To Rape. Here’s a taste:
The idea that there is a “rape culture” in the USA is a myth. There are individual imbeciles, individual evil scumbags, and there are some criminal gang subcultures where rape is business as usual, but for most regular people it is an evil anomaly, and our children are taught accordingly. To all of these TEACH BOYS NOT TO RAPE morons, my question is who the hell is teaching them that it is okay? Where do you live? Next to Roman Polanski or Bill Clinton?  
Some of his science fiction author brethren weren’t too pleased with it and sanctimony ensued.
Enter fellow science fiction author John Scalzi.
 Sarcasm, agreeing and amplifying, subtlety, mockery, dry wit... all of these things are perfectly fine in their proper place. Scalzi frequently tries to employ them and frequently fails at it, coming across as a passive-aggressive tool. For example, he claims that this blog entry is not a continuation of the Twitter discussion but it's obvious he's insulting Correia without specifically naming Correia, thus giving Scalzi plausible deniability if Larry chooses to respond.
On the other hand, gun as fetish object? Creeps me out. When I see a picture of some dude hoisting some big damn gun about, often with appallingly poor trigger discipline, the first thing that comes to my mind is not look out, we have a badass on our hands, but, rather, here’s a dude who’s afraid of every fucking thing in the world. The big damn gun is like the eyes on the wings of a butterfly or a pufferfish sucking in seawater — a way to look bigger and maybe not get eaten. By whom? By whomever, man, I don’t know — when you’re afraid of every fucking thing in the world, I guess you spend a lot of time worrying about getting eaten.
The man's in his forties and he writes like a teenage girl. What exactly is a "big damn gun" in Scalzi's mind: a .45? A shotgun? A hunting rifle? A .50? Who are these mysterious dudes who creep him out, besides Correia?

Scalzi is displaying a peculiar liberal attitude in this paragraph which I can only describe as the Macho Eloi. They demand to know what gun owners are so afraid of, implying that they, liberals, are real he-men who don't need to rely on sissy guns for self-defense but would eagerly spill their opponents blood with their bare hands.
So wait, are you calling me a coward? I hear some of these dudes saying, hoisting their guns. No, not a coward. Just afraid.
I’m not afraid! I have a big damn gun! Yes, well. Whatever makes you feel not afraid, chuckles.
You wouldn’t be saying that if I were in front of you, with my big damn gun! Indeed, I probably wouldn’t, because when people who are afraid of every fucking thing in the world wander about with big damn guns, bad things have an increasingly likely chance of happening. I’ll just go have lunch in Chipotle until you wander off, if it’s all the same to you.
 Scalzi lives in one of the most pasty white enclaves in the country: John Boehner's congressional district. Why not move to a more vibrantly diverse neighborhood sir? I'm sure the vibrant youths would be eager to hear you call them cowards for wearing pistols stuck in their belts.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Neo-Medievalist and proud of it

Very well, we are neo-Medievalists... but could we end the ignorance of the Middle Ages anyway?

The supreme indictment came in an article published by "progressive" Catholic periodical "Commonweal". Though it is certainly an honor for us to be placed alongside those mentioned below, it is quite a disparate group:

Francis also faces criticism from those who seek to restore nineteenth-century European Catholicism, like the historian Roberto de Mattei. His Lepanto Foundation holds that Vatican II was a radical break with tradition, as do the online magazines he oversees: Corrispondenza Romana and Radici Cristiane. The neo-medievalists resist Francis because they oppose Vatican II on liturgical issues. The widely read blog Rorate Caeli falls into this camp, as does Vittorio Messori, who co-authored the famous Ratzinger Report (1985). As recently as May 28, he wrote about the church’s diarchical papacy—two popes, Benedict and Francis—in Italy’s most important newspaper, Il Corriere della Sera. (Massimo Faggioli, The Italian Job: Can Pope Francis Manage His Local Opposition?

The great RĂ©gine Pernoud would be so frustrated! Decades after her main works, over a century worth of studies that demystify the long period that lasted roughly from the collapse of the Roman Empire in the West to the Protestant revolt and that was anachronistically defined simply as a "middle" age -- as if every age were not the middle between one that came before it and one that succeeded it -- and the term "medieval" and its derivations are still used, misused, and intended as disparaging. Even by Catholics, who should be the first to know better.
 It's bizarre for baptized Catholics to speak Medievalist as if it were a pejorative. Wasn't the whole progressive project of aggiornamento at Vatican II to erase fifteen centuries of development and return the Church to the imagined practices of the second century? Pope Pius XII didn't think highly of this exaggerated antiquarianism:
59. The Church is without question a living organism, and as an organism, in respect of the sacred liturgy also, she grows, matures, develops, adapts and accommodates herself to temporal needs and circumstances, provided only that the integrity of her doctrine be safeguarded. This notwithstanding, the temerity and daring of those who introduce novel liturgical practices, or call for the revival of obsolete rites out of harmony with prevailing laws and rubrics, deserve severe reproof. It has pained Us grievously to note, Venerable Brethren, that such innovations are actually being introduced, not merely in minor details but in matters of major importance as well. We instance, in point of fact, those who make use of the vernacular in the celebration of the august eucharistic sacrifice; those who transfer certain feast-days -- which have been appointed and established after mature deliberation -- to other dates; those, finally, who delete from the prayerbooks approved for public use the sacred texts of the Old Testament, deeming them little suited and inopportune for modern times.

It's almost like he's calling out the entire hierarchy of the 21st century, isn't it? The problem I have with the progressive project is that it reeks of Deism. To hear them tell it, Jesus gave the Great Commission and the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, but after that God abandoned the Church to the tides of history. By arguing that we need to return to the Church of Antiquity, they imply that the Church has gotten everything wrong since the sixth century. They imply that the Church went far astray in the Middle Ages and that the most glorious period in the history of Christendom was all a mistake that needs to be erased. Fortunately, those wise, holy, ingenious men of the Second Vatican Council convinced the Holy Spirit to give us a Mulligan so we can pretend the Middle Ages and the Counter-Reformation never happened.

This may be why clergy and laypeople of a certain generation are desperate and will do anything, anything to ensure that Vatican II was not a failure. They will move goalposts, rationalize manifest disasters, explain away the Church's cataclysmic demographic decline, anything at all to convince us that the emperor has clothes. The Church is a living organism as Pius XII said. We have a divine guarantee that she cannot and will not solemnly teach error in a way binding upon the faithful. That leaves a lot of room for the Church to make decisions that are wrong, destructive, or just plain stupid. She is our Mother, and just like our biological mothers, she can do drugs, get drunk, put on fishnet stockings and scandalously short miniskirts in an attempt to seduce strangers. We don't abandon her when she goes off the rails, but we tell her to clean herself up and start acting like herself again.

It'd be one thing if the progressive project led to a true renewal of the Church with increased vocations and conversions of souls. But everyone knows that it hasn't and that it won't. By their fruits ye shall know them, and the fruits of progressivism have been heresy, apostasy, immorality, worldliness, and decline. The chaos will continue until the last progressive goes on to his eternal reward. Too many careers and reputations and too much money is staked on our current course. But the Church will eventually right herself. She has to.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

It was Iraq lobster

Kirkuk and Mosul have fallen:
BAGHDAD/ARBIL, Iraq, June 12 (Reuters) - Iraqi Kurdish forces took control of the northern oil city of Kirkuk on Thursday, after government troops abandoned their posts in the face of a triumphant Sunni Islamist rebel march towards Baghdad that threatens Iraq's future as a unified state.

In Mosul, Sunni militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) staged a parade of American Humvees seized from the collapsing Iraqi army in the two days since the fighters drove out of the desert and overran Iraq's second biggest city.

Two helicopters, also seized by the militants, flew overhead, witnesses said, apparently the first time the militant group has obtained aircraft in years of waging insurgency on both sides of the Iraqi-Syrian frontier.

State television showed what it said was aerial footage of Iraqi aircraft firing missiles at insurgent targets in Mosul. The targets could be seen exploding in black clouds.

Further south, the fighters extended their lightning advance to towns only about an hour's drive from the capital Baghdad, where Shi'ite militia are mobilizing for a potential replay of the ethnic and sectarian bloodbath of 2006-2007.
Iraq is majority Shia, so at some point the Shiites will put up a stiffer resistance against the Kurds and Sunnis. So far this is the inevitable consequence of the mad neocon project to bring democracy, feminism, and gay marriage to the Middle East. Democracy among these people will always end in Islamist extremism. Always. Holding Iraq together was something that could only ever be done by someone like Saddam Hussein. If the US had to get involved in Iraq at all - and I don't believe it had to - then we should have either annihilated them or installed another Saddam-style strongman more friendly to us. As it happened, we destroyed the existing power structure while leaving all of the different factions strong enough to cause trouble for each other. We created the perfect conditions for a determined band of Islamic 4th generation fighters to overthrow a weak central government.

I must admit it's happening quicker than I expected. We'll see if the Iraqi government puts up more of a fight once Baghdad is under siege. This further demonstrates the wasting away of the nation-state. It may take another few decades, a century or two, but the nation-states of the West will eventually become as decrepit and ramshackle as Iraq's. Spoiler alert: my novel "World without End" takes place in a future where the nation-state has become a thing of the past, the subject of myths and legends.

Prayer request

In your charity, please pray for the repose of the soul of Fr. Kenneth Walker who was murdered the other night.

Meek and humble of heart

People keep using those words but I do not think they mean what they think they mean. When we say the word "meek" in the 21st century, we think of being a sissy beta male doormat. Humble is taken to mean shy, introverted, prone to running yourself down. Humility, in the traditional sense, means seeing yourself as you really are. For Christians, this means recognizing that we are but dust and ashes compared to Almighty God. Whatever good we do is only done with the help of his grace. Whatever talents we have are gifts from him. The only things that are unquestionably ours are our sins and flaws. Humility requires knowledge of self so that we do not train our eyes on things that are far above us against right reason. The virtue of magnanimity is setting our eyes on great things that are within right reason.

Knowledge of self means knowledge of our gifts and talents. Humility that paralyzes us into inaction is a false humility that is in reality a form of pride. If we never do anything then we will never have to confront failure. In the parable of the lazy servant, the servant who was given ten talents went out into the market place and used them to earn ten more talents. The master rewarded his good and faithful servant. Another servant was given one talent which he buried in the back yard. The master condemned his wicked and lazy servant. The moral of the story is that whatever gifts and talents we have, we are to use them in the service of God and neighbor.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I forgot to remember to forget

Boniface asks us to recall our first impressions of Pope Francis. Cardinal Ratzinger became pope a few weeks after I entered the Church. I remember feeling truly excited and happy, partly due to my newly converted zeal I'm sure. When Pope Francis stepped out onto the balcony for the first time, I too felt that sinking feeling and sense of foreboding that many of his commenters mentioned. I didn't know him from Adam of course. Hardly anyone did. He looked strange at first and I couldn't put my finger on why until someone pointed out that he wasn't wearing the traditional signs of papal authority (I can hear Mark Shea cranking up his furious scorn already.)

I've pretty much given up trying to make heads or tails of anything Pope Francis says. I understand why so many Catholic bloggers scramble to reconcile the pope's public remarks with the Church's traditional teaching. I get why everything is blamed on bad translations, on a malicious media, on faulty memories. If those are the source of all the pope's communication woes, than how am I supposed to be confident that his orthodox quotations are being accurately reported?

In their efforts to pour fulsome praise upon the person of Pope Francis, many Catholics end up smearing the Church. For example, a common trope is, "Pope Francis is bringing the Church's message of mercy to the world!" As if the Church had failed to speak of Christ's mercy for the two thousand years of history before Francis came along. "Finally, the world is paying attention to the pope and giving Catholicism a hearing!" As if the Church had utterly failed in her mission to preach the Gospel before Francis. I'm aware of all the buzzwords, i.e. "meeting people where they're at." I've noticed that clergy who make a lot of noise about meeting people where they're at seldom break a sweat in lifting them up to where they ought to be.

I know a lot of Catholics think that Francis is being a Jesuitical genius in saying things that make the world sit up and take notice, and then after the furor has died down he speaks directly to Catholics with a wink and a nod: "This is what I really meant." Some of those "this is what I really meant" clarifications are actually good. But the world doesn't hear them. Or if they do the message they take away from it is, "Well, Catholicism is too big and ugly and reactionary for one man to change, but man, if anyone can do it, it's Pope Francis!" It's a pity the Holy Father can't stick to the script more often.

Sometimes I'm haunted by the notion that the progressives and Modernists might be right. In the past, heretics were generally easy to identify. They either left the Church of their own accord or they were shown the door by a vigorous Church government. These days the heretics have not only stayed in the Church, they continually assert that the Church has always taught what they have taught. The stripped altars, the ugly churches, the embarrassing music, the saccharine platitudes, the Buddy Jesus stories, the comfortable worldliness... what if these are logical extensions of the principles of the Catholic faith? What if this really is the way the Church is supposed to be? What if the Catholic Church really did get everything wrong for a thousand years and it was only those enlightened men of the twentieth century and the Second Vatican Council who truly understood what the Christian faith is all about?

As our Blessed Lord said, "By their fruits ye shall know them." It'd be one thing if the Modernist chaos of the last fifty years put butts in the pews so to speak. But everyone knows that it doesn't. The story of Catholicism has been one of corruption and decline for decades. Paradoxically, that gives me some hope. I pray it happens in my lifetime, but even if it doesn't, I'm confident that some day the Church will awaken from her long slumber and end the Modernist nightmare. She will undoubtedly shrink even more before then. Eventually the Church will have no choice but to resolve her identity crisis.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The law of prayer is the law of belief is the law of living

A return to the sacrifice to save the Sacrament:
It all began with the disastrous reform to the Rite of the Mass which followed the Second Vatican Council.

With the pretext of translating the Mass into the vernacular in 1969 - it was changed radically, practically re-made and purged of all the explicit references to the Propitiatory Sacrifice – in order to please the Protestants.

In fact, the Mass was increasingly transformed into a Holy Supper and this was done basically, so that the priests and the faithful [could] be nurtured at the “two tables” of the Word and the Body of Christ; in short, the Mass was done so as to have Communion.

So the central and determining factor of the Sacrifice of Christ disappeared from the everyday life of Catholics. It was for this Jesus instituted the Eucharist so that His sacrifice on the Cross be perpetuated - the sacrifice, which alone cancels sins and placates Divine Justice.
This illustrates why it's vital to take ownership of your Catholic faith. If you rely solely on the life of your parish, then the odds are good you'll wind up an apostate or a baptized pagan. Not once in my six months of RCIA or in the nine years since my reception into the Church have I ever heard anyone breathe a word about the notion of the Mass as a propitiatory sacrifice. The dominant belief in the local parishes is that we go to Mass to receive Communion. That's it. That's all. Mass is an occasion to make nice, hold hands, and have fun. The priest will crack a few jokes to break the ice and let us know that nothing too serious is going on. At Communion time a bunch of old ladies will crowd into the sanctuary to assist the priest in presiding over the distribution of the community's meal.

It's a sad state of affairs that most Catholics take the radical disconnect between praxis and doctrine for granted. It takes a particularly impoverished Catholic imagination to believe that so long as the matter and form are hunky dory than anything goes. If you do not actively teach the faith, then the people will lose it. If you do not speak the truth, the people will forget it. If you teach and preach the truth but your actions do not square with it, your work will be for naught. If the official doctrine is that the Mass is a propitiatory sacrifice but you never speak of it like that, only in terms of the community meal, then the people will eventually think of it as nothing more than a community meal. And if it's just a community meal then it makes sense that so few people show up for Adoration and that Corpus Chrisi processions are so rare nowadays. The Eucharist is for eating after all.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Happy birthday

Today my blog turns two years old. There are many like it but this one is mine. Thank you to my four loyal readers, to Rorate, Zippy, Boniface, Bonald, and Button for putting me on your blogrolls, and to all of the kids who came here looking for Skyrim or Fallout builds. I know less than half of you half as well as I should like and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.

Catholics-Orthodox to meet again at Nicaea?
It’s obvious that some Orthodox are not willing to move quickly — if at all — toward unity with Catholics, and many Orthodox would first require some reassurances, if not bold action, on several issues, beginning perhaps with the filioque, the clause in the Nicene Creed that proclaims the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father and the Son.” Orthodox and Catholic scholars for 20 years now have discussed this issue and agreed that it is not church-dividing, but some Orthodox still feel that the Church in the West lacked the authority to unilaterally alter a creed that was decided upon by the consensus of an ecumenical council, and that the Western Church needs to return to using the creed as it was originally written without the Latin interpolation. Thus, Christians would all together once more process our faith in “the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father.”
Other areas touch on Church discipline and governance. Those teaching Catholic theology in the name of the Church would need to do so in a demonstrably faithful (“orthodox”) way. Those celebrating the Church’s liturgy would need to do so in a way that avoids much of the silliness, the slovenliness and the banality that still afflict Masses today. The Orthodox would want to know that their own system of electing and disciplining bishops would remain free of Roman curial interference. And they would want it clearly understood that their own tradition (which is also the tradition of Eastern Catholics and those Anglican and Lutheran clergy who are now Catholic priests) of ordaining married men to the priesthood would remain untouched, and nobody would be forced to adopt celibacy.
Obviously I think that we Catholics are right and the Orthodox are wrong on all of the issues that separate us. I deeply respect the Orthodox though. Those guys stick to their guns in a way that puts most of us Catholics to shame. I don't expect reunion will happen in my lifetime. The average Orthodox looks at the typical suburban Novus Ordo Mass and thinks, "Full communion with that? Nope." I wouldn't wish the Spirit of Vatican II on my worst enemies. If reunion ever happens, I hope they influence us more than we influence them.