Thursday, November 29, 2012

Secular Mindsets

Earlier this month, we posted a bit about the terror that Catholicism instills in secularists and why their professed fears are really just absurdities. It's very easy to think that this fear is grounded solely on the fact that the Church lays out some behavioral standards that a lot of people just aren't willing to accept. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'll bet that far more people leave the Church due to their personal groin-centric issues than anything to do with the abuse scandal or a war on women. Is the "code of conduct" really the reason people are afraid of the Church, though?

There is an old cliche, one echoed many times throughout the realms of comics and sci-fi/fantasy, that people fear what they don't understand. I think this is precisely why secularists, including those within the Church, fear Her so much.

I think that the modern, secular mind cannot comprehend a religious view of the world, especially a Catholic one that includes the sort of submission to hierarchy like we see to the bishops and the Pope. Our society is one that promotes individual choice on everything from morality to convenience. Notions of the common good are fit in this mold as well (much to the apparent delight of Fr. Jenkins), with the path of least resistance held as sacrosanct, which is why abortion and contraception are so popular. That someone could submit their intellect and will to propositions that entail sacrifice and hardship, rather than ease and convenience, is unfathomable to the secularists.

Martyrdom has no place in such an ethos. When you hear people in the US praising a person who dies for a higher cause, what is that higher cause? Typically, they'll say freedom. Freedom basically translates to "license" in the modern vernacular. "He died so that we can live the way we want to live and do the things we want to do." Someone who dies for the directives of Divine Revelation are written off as barbaric. Naturally, I don't buy into Islam or the suicide bombings associated with its current incarnation, but the entire grasp of why the bombers do what they do seems to be lost on most Americans. It's far easier to just say they are primitive screw-heads than to figure out the mentality that makes one die for their god.

When the HHS mandate comes up in conversation, even Catholics will shrug their shoulders and wonder why it's such a big deal. Why would the Church in America choose this hill to die on? It's just some pills and some folks deciding not to have babies (or kill ones that they are having). "God said so" is not an adequate explanation because the person posing the question has either forgotten about God or remembers Him but doesn't care about His opinion all that much.

Protestants are actually somewhat better off from a social standpoint than we Catholics here. Public perception of Protestants is that they are still basically taking all this off of how they read the Bible (and the fact that they embrace contraception, so they've already got one foot in the secularist camp anyway). From the secularist perspective, that still is an operation of their individual choice. They read the Bible, their personal interpretation says that "x" is what they should live by, so they live by "x." Catholics don't have that luxury. We have human leaders in the form of the bishops and, of course, the Pope. The secularist ignores our free choice to follow these leaders and sees only bondage in our obedience. And so comes the horror.

What the secularist can't understand is the concept of Truth. Truth does not necessarily begin or end with one's choice or the satiation of one's groin, bank account, job, or whatever. In fact, denying such satisfaction is often demanded by Truth. That there is something above self, this is where the disconnect lies.

I'm reminded of the bit in Lord of the Rings where everyone is at Rivendell trying to decide what to do with the Ring. Taking it to Mordor with a small party like the Fellowship seems like madness at first. However, it's mentioned that Sauron would never look for the Ring in that kind of setting because he could never imagine someone wanting to destroy it. Why give up such power? The secularist can't imagine someone opting for the sort of submission of intellect and will called for by the religious mindset. Why give up such power, such autonomy? Why give up the ability to be like God?

[Y]our eyes shall be opened: and you shall be as Gods

Genesis 3:5

Yeah, why would anyone give that up?

Friday, November 23, 2012

St. Augustine And Rorschach

Another thought from St. Augustine. This one regards the recent election

For I am aware that your Excellency has to encounter the most determined opposition from certain persons, who think, or would have others think, that Christian doctrine is incompatible with the welfare of the commonwealth, because they wish to see the commonwealth established not by the steadfast practice of virtue, but by granting impunity to vice. But with God the crimes in which many are banded together do not pass unavenged, as is often the case with a king, or any other magistrate who is only a man. Moreover, His mercy and grace, published to men by Christ, who is Himself man, and imparted to man by the same Christ, who is also God and the Son of God, never fail those who live by faith in Him and piously worship Him, in adversity patiently and bravely bearing the trials of this life, in prosperity using with self-control and with compassion for others the good things of this life; destined to receive, for faithfulness in both conditions, an eternal recompense in that divine and heavenly city in which there shall be no longer calamity to be painfully endured, nor inordinate desire to be with laborious care controlled, where our only work shall be to preserve, without any difficulty and with perfect liberty, our love to God and to our neighbour.

St. Augustine, Letter 137

When was the last time we heard Christianity described as the enemy of or a detriment to the State? Oh, yeah, pretty much every day for the last year or so, but especially in the last couple of weeks. This makes for another good example of how there's nothing new under the sun. Augustine saw a society that sought freedom by the destruction of virtue and the exaltation of vice. Whether it's killing babies, self-sterilization, legitimizing homosexual relationships, degrading the working man/defrauding him of his wages, we've pretty much made vice into an art. Not only that, but we give the prophets of these evils their own forums for promoting their filth (thanks to Haskovec for this lead).

When I read St. Augustine's comments and think about how things these days are so horrible, I'm reminded of why I'm so happy that God is God. Just imagine a more, shall we say, pragmatic deity, as might be described by Rorschach (a character from Alan Moore's graphic novel Watchmen and possibly the greatest literary character ever created):

The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout "Save us!"... and I'll look down and whisper "No."

Yeah, Rorschach wasn't into the whole "grace and mercy" scene. Lucky for us, God is.

Everyone needs to take Augustine's advice to heart, though. We aren't abandoned. All of this is just another part of Providence. The worst thing anybody can do is succumb to despair. Even Rorschach admitted as much.

Nothing is hopeless...Not while there's life.

And he's not even counting the benefits of Divine Life either.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Church And State

Just a thought from someone way smarter than me:

Here also is security for the welfare and renown of a commonwealth; for no state is perfectly established and preserved otherwise than on the foundation and by the bond of faith and of firm concord, when the highest and truest common good, namely, God, is loved by all, and men love each other in Him without dissimulation, because they love one another for His sake from whom they cannot disguise the real character of their love.

St. Augustine, Letter 137

Modernity finds this premise one of the most repugnant ever expressed.

However, one must wonder a bit. How many otherwise faithful Catholics would agree? How many would consider Jefferson's Letter to the Danbury Baptists to carry more authority than the Doctor of Grace (not to mention the multitude of other Fathers, Doctors, Saints, and Popes who have said likewise)?

Neither Jefferson, the Supreme Court, nor the Constitution itself, are magisterial. It amazes me how many think of them that way. Many think separation of church and state is a more sacrosanct idea than the Social Kingship of Christ. What a wretched age we live in.

Anglicans Reject Women Bishops. Again.

And Archlayman Justin isn't happy about it. We had mentioned earlier about how this was something he was going to push for. Maybe he expected that the Anglican hierarchy was exhausted with this issue and that he'd win in a walk. Whatever he thought, he's starting over from scratch now.

Let's look at the Daily Mail's bullet points for this story:

Senior bishops want to bring in professionals to sort out the chaos


My head is exploding from the enormous influx of jokes that can be made about that one sentence.

Church leaders have warned a fresh vote on the issue may not be possible before 2015, with changes not coming in until 2020

People, it's been 500 years. You've made it this long without women playing Bishop Barbie. Is another 3-8 years really going to make that much of a difference?

Cameron says the Church is at risk of looking dangerously out of touch

Well hell, if David Cameron said so, then it must be true! Just who does he think the Anglicans will be out of touch with by not doing this? The entire Global South contingent of the Anglican Communion? Catholics? The Orthodox? Sane people?

Right Reverend Justin Welby, called it a 'very grim day'

Sorry, Justin. I don't know what your expectations were, but I've got to say that this total and utter humiliation right out of the gate is so pathetic that it appears Rowanesque in its ineptitude.

And that was just the bullet points. Check out these other items:

Bishop Welby, who had a career in business before being ordained, is likely to acquiesce after warnings that the row could lead to the disestablishment of the Church, according to The Times.

David Cameron yesterday warned the Church of England to think again about its ‘very sad’ rejection of women bishops, as MPs called for Parliament to intervene directly.

Did you see that? Holy smokes! Henry must be rolling over in his grave! People are actually willing to disestablish the Anglicans over this. Parliament wants to get involved to force the issue. I would ask if things could get more bizarre than that, but given this is the Anglicans that we're talking about, I know the answer already.

Bringing in "professional mediators" (often translated as "lawyers") will, I'm sure, help out immensely. After all, isn't that what the Apostles did in Acts 15 to sort out their differences with the Judaizers? And who can forget Pope Leo the Great bringing in the attorneys to help reconcile the Church's position with that of the monophysites at Chalcedon? Yes, there is a deep tradition of junking orthodoxy for lawyer-forged compromise.

The Death March continues

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Book Recommendation: Come Rack! Come Rope!

Come Rack! Come Rope! is a work of historical fiction by Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson. Msgr. Benson had the distinction of being the son of Edward Benson, who was Archlayman of Canterbury from 1883 to 1896. It must have been a terrible scandal when Robert converted to popery but convert he did in 1903 at the age of 32. In this book, he gives an account of the recusant experience of Catholics during the reign of the genocidal usurper, Elizabeth I.

In an age of Cate Blanchett movies and other hagiographical references to "Good Queen Bess," it's probably a shock to a lot of folks to learn how blood-drenched England was while she was in power. This book does an excellent job of showing what our ancestors in Faith had to endure at the hands of Her Majesty and the rapist, murdering psychos she kept as pets (such as Richard Topcliffe, who features prominently in the story).

Other than correcting the historical whitewash of Liz's reputation, the book serves a couple of other purposes.

1. It shows what measures can be used to compel Catholics to abandon the Church. These can be financial pressures or outright torture. We should be familiar with both of these. The former is being experimented with now in the United States. The latter has been used in some of our neighboring countries (eg- Mexico) not that long ago. Who knows what the future holds here?

2. It demonstrates the lengths Catholics went to in order to preserve the Faith. A couple of saints even make appearances to be sure that we're paying attention. Needless to say, there was a tremendous amount of suffering just to attend Mass. Or, if you were a priest, just to offer Mass. The lack of priests was used as a weapon to drive the believers into despair. One can only imagine the psychological torment, but it's not necessary. Benson paints it in graphic tones.

3. It enhances the awareness of what will happen when everyone isn't faithful. The remnant will be betrayed by their "friends" and family members. They are destroyed by those closest to them and even the smallest act of kindness can result in exposure and condemnation.

I'm not going to say that Msgr. Benson is a fantastic writer. He sometimes tends to redundancy, and his dialogue can be choppy and vague at times. However, when he turns his attention from the actions and plot and focused on the longing of the people for the return of the Faith, he shines very, very brightly. He paints the picture of what was and what should have been so eloquently that the reader can feel his pain from England's wholesale turn to heresy and schism. Praise God that he was spared from seeing the modern wreck of Anglicanism.

Anyway, when the story hardens around the "why" of recusant suffering, you will begin to see what I mean.

I will conclude with a warning and a secondary recommendation. The warning is this: the last pages of this book are the most heart-wrenching literature I've ever read. So there, now you know.

When you are done with this, move on to Msgr. Benson's Lord of the World. Then meditate on current events with both of these works in mind.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A New Evangelization For Anglicanism

We've already talked about Rowan's successor as the Archlayman of Canterbury and the tremendous legacy of incompetence that he has to live down to. Somehow, we find ourselves in a tremendous disagreement with someone in the episcopacy over (a) the role of the current Spawn of Cranmer, (b) the identity of Anglicanism vis a vis Catholicism, and (b-1) Rowan's tenure as Archlayman.

The comments come from Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham (England, not Alabama) by way of Zenit. Let's take a look at what was said:

Archbishop Bernard Longley said: "I am delighted to hear the good news for the Church of England and the Anglican Communion that Bishop Justin Welby has been appointed Archbishop of Canterbury."

Ok, isn't it time that we come up with an alternate title for these guys? They aren't even bishops, much less archbishops, of anything. Moreover, even if they were bishops, they have zero right to being called the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Successor of St. Augustine. These are Catholic stations by right. This man is a heretical, schismatic usurper, who by the very nature of his continued pretendership is complicit in the theft of Church property. Call the guy "Reverend" or "Hey, dude" or something else. Don't play into the utter fabrication that he has any clerical status or jurisdiction.

"This will be good news too for Anglican-Roman Catholic relations, nationally and internationally, as the new Archbishop builds on the strong commitment and ecumenical legacy of Archbishop Rowan Williams."

By this, does he mean Rowan's efforts in allowing the Anglican Communion to so thoroughly destroy itself that its members sought refuge in the Barque of Peter? If that's the case, I wholeheartedly agree with him. Rowan might therefore be considered as one of the greatest ecumenists of the last century. This is why I listed the "Rowan's legacy" item as a (b-1). I'm not sure if this is a disagreement or not.

The Archbishop of Birmingham emphasised: "In Bishop Welby it will be good to have a strong ally in the work of evangelization that lies ahead of all the churches, especially during the Year of Faith when the Catholic Church is seeking an evangelization that is 'new in its ardour, methods and expression'".

Umm, ok. Should someone bring up that Anglicans lack the True Faith and therefore are opponents in a real evangelization? This is the same guy who recently said he was going all-in for women bishops. This is someone who is going to help with evangelization?

What is meant here by "all the churches"? Considering that the Church of England isn't even a church, this is a weird statement. 

I'm not sure what Archbishop Longley was trying to say. Maybe he was just trying to be nice. Holy smokes, though, there's a line between being nice and overboard.

Notice what Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church wrote to Mr. Welby:

Regrettably, the late 20th century and the beginning of the third millennium have brought tangible difficulties in relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Churches of the Anglican Communion. The introduction female priesthood and now episcopate, the blessing of same-sex ‘unions’ and ‘marriages’, the ordination of homosexuals as pastors and bishops – all these innovations are seen by the Orthodox as deviations from the tradition of the Early Church, which increasingly estrange Anglicanism from the Orthodox Church and contribute to a further division of Christendom as a whole. 

Sure, he calls the guy a bishop too, but does it appear all that difficult to define things in terms of the problems, rather than some illusory contribution to evangelization that, by definition, isn't going to happen? Talking about what we agree on, which is precious little these days, wastes everybody's time and makes it easy to put real issues on the back burner. I understand that Archbishop Longley is part of ARCIC, so he might feel pressured to moderate his tone somewhat, but there's no need to pretend that it's all roses and rainbows either.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Fear Of A Catholic Planet

One of the more amazing narratives that has emerged in the post-election media blitz is of the intense, pervading terror that seems to have driven so many of the Obama supporters to the polls. Most of you know that I hang around the NDNation message boards here. It's been quite striking to follow the whole shpiel being offered for why the Republican candidate lost the election and why the entire party is finished at the national level.

Let me begin by saying that I don't identify myself as a Republican and haven't for quite a long time. This has far less to do with being a Republican as it does to demonstrate how believers are regarded by the public at large.

It is now apparently a commonplace view to be absolutely terrified of Christian voters. They are crazies and loons. They are intolerant and theocratic. They are anti-science extremists, worthy of being mentioned with white supremacist groups. They are screeching bigots. They are the knuckle-dragging American version of the Taliban. I quote from a variety of sources here, but if you really want to be depressed, you can also read the comment section from any mainstream site. Try CNN, for example.

So we must ask ourselves, what are these folks actually afraid of? If you believe their own statements, their list of nightmares include things like Six Days Creationism being mandated in public school curricula, contraceptives are banned, and homosexuality is a capital offense, as well as unbelief in general.

Of course, these weren't the only reasons for their political leanings. However, since many are practically begging for a re-alignment of the Republican Party that would exclude religious voters, it's safe to say that it factored at least a bit. As far as this goes, it's nothing to be shocked about. For people to want their political enemies to be weakened is nothing new. Hell, it's not like we're happy about their existence. Let's take a look at a different angle here, though.

When these individuals say they are afraid, are they being rational? To begin, consider the focus on evangelicals. The word "evangelical" is basically bereft of meaning now, except in the media lexicon of "religious Protestant who votes for Republicans." Second, when was the last time you heard anybody fitting this description as looking to deny woman access to contraceptives? Right away, we can see that there are some shenanigans going on with how the argument is being framed. I submit that Catholics are the real bogeymen here because it's the only way to get contraceptives into the argument. And make no mistake, contraceptives are the big prize here. More people are invested, so more people are afraid. The Church, naturally, is the only party engaged on this front. Painting evangelicals with the brush is just to benefit from the aforementioned loaded term of "evangelical." Aside from that, knowing that the Church will never give way here, there is a perpetual opponent to focus on.

Anyways, engage in the thought experiment where religious folk suddenly controlled the White House and both Houses of Congress. What are the actual odds that any of the above-listed legislative platforms be engaged? Contraceptives? They don't even matter to the evangelical wing and Catholics are too split on the issue to care. The odds of faithful Catholics occupying this level of office to this degree is about as likely as the Kardashian sisters entering a convent.

Six Dayism? How? Considering just about every Republican candidate this time around wanted to liquidate the Department of Education, it's tough to imagine there would be anything associated with a national policy on this front. Not to mention, of course, that so-called "evangelicals" are hardly monolithic on this issue and Catholics really don't care. Facing that reality would spoil the narrative, so it has to be maintained despite its stupidity.

Finally, is it rational to think that homosexuals or unbelievers of any kind will be actually persecuted by an evangelical or Catholic majority? That Cardinal Burke, Ralph Reed, Bishop Jenky, James Dobson, Billy/Franklin Graham or whoever would condone these kinds of actions? I suggest that people willing to buy into the narrative at this fork are unhinged.

That being said, let's consider the flip side of this situation. Do the religious have any reasons to fear the rise of a secular government?

Well, I think it goes without saying that this is far more likely to occur than any kind of Catholic or evangelical majority.

What specific items should we be afraid of? Other than the HHS mandate which will shut down every Catholic institution from schools to hospitals, the demand for taxpayer-funded abortion in the Democratic platform, judges considering forcing Catholics to have abortions, federal grant funding being made contingent on providing abortion services, the Vice-President of the United States imposing a litmus test-that-isn't on Supreme Court judges, bishops being threatened with IRS investigations, and a host of other items, I'd say that our fears are much more rational and grounded in reality since, you know,


The hilarity of all this is how the secularists can watch all this happening and pat themselves on the back for having "tolerance" as their trademark position. Go back and read some of the articles I linked to, like this one. Not only do they see nothing wrong, they promote the idea that anyone with religious beliefs must be naturally subservient to the secular. And we should thank them for their magnaminity.

Yes, friends. What is truly needed is a government purged of all religious influence and founded solely on secular values like Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. That's worked well in the past.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Rowan's Successor

The new Archlayman of Canterbury will be Justin Welby. Despite what Rocco Palma says, Mr. Welby will not be occupying the chair of St. Augustine, but rather the Chair of Thomas Cranmer. Hey, at least Cranmer was a real bishop. Justin is just a guy playing dress-up.

What can we expect? It's almost unfathomable to think that he could be as incompetent as Rowan has been. Looking at the statements from Whispers, he claims to be a big fan of Rerum Novarum, as well as Benedictine and Ignatian spirituality. I'm going to guess that his admiration for Pope Leo's work somehow translates into the version of "social justice" that we're used to hearing about from liberation theologians and the LCWR. I could be wrong, but I haven't seen anything Catholic that couldn't be screwed up in spades by the Usurper's spiritual progeny.

Let's give him credit for something, though. He's all-in for women's bishops, instead of just maintaining perpetual wobbliness on the issue as was Rowan's habit.

At the same time, not all the appointee's initial comments will make things easy across the Tiber. Welby signaled full speed ahead on the Church of England's long-simmering proposal to ordain women bishops, announcing that he will vote in favor of the plan at this month's General Synod.

What is Rocco talking about here? Seems like it will make things a lot easier. The more the Anglicans drop the facade that they're actually interested in anything resembling the True Faith, the easier it becomes to call them out for their heresy and schism. It also becomes way easier for any of the confused folk in the pews to realize that the shambling corpse of the Anglican Communion is animated more by shared stationary and letterhead moreso than shared faith. This will enable them to get a grip on reality and take advantage of the Anglicanorum Coetibus offer.

I can't come up with a downside here.

The Barque of Henry rolls ever on. Straight to the bottom.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Anybody Out There?

Sorry about that hiatus. You'll just have to take my word for it that it was necessary. Just yet another example of our collective need to submit to Providence no matter what the circumstances might be.

Which brings me to my point, given what is going to happen November 6.

If I was a betting man, I'd wager that Obama is going to win. There will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth over this, but it will be for naught. In the spirit of what I wrote above, it seems to me that we should all focus on a couple of things.

1. Regardless of who wins, what is happening to the Church won't change much. Sure, the timetable might look different if Romney wins, but outside of that, we should all expect for Catholicism increasingly to be mocked, attacked, and isolated from what are regarded as mainstream values.

2. At some point, things stop getting better. Even if now isn't that time, and things just get worse for a while, how are we to complain? Our forerunners had to deal with Nero, Domitian, Decius, Diocletian, Julian, the rise of Islam, the Reconquista, Elizabeth I, the French Revolution, the Bolsheviks, the Cristiada, and so forth. Are we somehow better than them that we should be spared the same travails?

Regardless of what happens, God will bring forth some good, as He already has in the form of bishops developing a spine and Catholics waking up to political reality and the consequences of surrendering the Faith as surely as the traditors gave up the Sacred Scriptures.

3. Everything of the now is temporary. Eternal life is where it's at. Frequent the sacraments. Keep yourself and your family in a state of grace.

4. God is on top of things.

Easier said than done, right? Like I said, these are items to focus on, but being human, we'll slip up. Still, worthwhile items, I think, in light of folks' natural inclination let their passions get the better of them when things don't go their way.