Saturday, December 28, 2013
Watching the rather rancid crop of bowl games to this point has spurred something of a thought. Consider the following, which is played at the beginning of every LSU home game on their jumbotron:
It is a pantheon of concrete and steel
It is a city that rises defiantly in the delta alongside the father of waters
It is the humidity of autumn evenings that drapes stately oaks and broad magnolias
It is haunted ... and it is loud.
It is Halloween night & Cannon blasts
It is a Louisiana gumbo of humanity that cheers its Tigers to victory and destroys the dreams of invading foes
Chance of rain is ... never!
It is the cathedral of college football and worship happens here
When the sun finds its home in the western sky it is a field of glory for sure...
But much more than that it is a sacred place
And it is Saturday night in Death Valley.
Very poetic, yes?
Notice the terminology, though, especially the bit about worship happening in a sacred place that is compared to a cathedral.
I submit that these lines encapsulate pretty much everything that is wrong with our diseased society. It isn't something particular to LSU. This bowl season has brought us a bevy of atrocious games. This hasn't stopped thousands of people from spending millions of dollars or traveling thousands of miles for the "pleasure" of a few hours of bad football. Many would call themselves "rabid" in their zeal for doing so. Their attention is utterly consumed in all details and aspects of even the worst game possible. They will nitpick over the smallest of minutiae and decry anything that encroaches upon the dignity of the sport.
And how does the worship of God compare to this?
Do the people even go to worship God? Do they worship Him in the form and fashion that He wills or do they make up their own methods? Is the form of worship given the same level of priority or the same demands of excellence and perfection? Do people even financially support the Church providing them the opportunity for worship?
And so on and so forth. Of course, this just pertains to the Almighty God, Creator of the Universe, Redeemer of the Human Race, and Sanctifier of Souls. It's not like it's something important, like, say, the conference championship.
Of course, I'm sure most of these people will be happy to tell you that they value their relationship with Christ far more than whatever their team affiliation might be. But what does their behavior indicate? What consumes more resources? What activity sets their schedule and demands the acquiescence of their time?
Thesis: A culture that places the entertainment of the masses on a level higher than the worship of God deserves to be destroyed.
Friday, December 27, 2013
Consider the following items.
First, there's the Legion of Christ. Despite whatever good folk might be or have been affiliated with it, this does not change the fact that it was the source of all sorts of horrors ranging from the sexual abuse of seminarians to fornication to theft. It's also known that the Legion had powerful defenders in the Vatican, most notably Cardinal Sodano. Pope Benedict began the dismantling of the Legion when he ordered an apostolic visitation back in 2009.
The process is still ongoing, as this article illustrates. Make sure you read the whole thing.
Second, there's the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. This group has had no scandals until recently, when a percentage of a percentage of the membership complained to the Vatican. I don't mention what the complaints were because it's all very confusing, nobody seems to know exactly what the deal is or was. I feel comfortable saying that the charges don't arise to the level of molesting prospective priests.
Rorate has been covering the story. So that nobody accuses me of taking particular sides, I offer an alternative perspective on the events from Catholic World Report.
This post isn't about taking sides. It's about a study in contrasts. For example, the FFI were subjected to closure of their seminary and a suspension of all ordinations for a year. As Tancred reports, they seem to be getting squeezed out of existence. The LOC? Nothing of the sort. In fact, they are losing members due to the fact that so many feel that the needed reforms will never come.
So we must ask ourselves. Why the deliberate pace for one, while the other is immediately put on the cusp of suppression without nearly the same level of investigation? Is it simply because of their relative sizes? If the LOC is that unmanageable, is it wise to be expending the resources being used against the FFI? Why not dedicate all hands on deck to reforming the LOC? They are losing members due to the current snails-pace.
It seems the real lesson in all this is that not all reforms are created equal. It's anyone's guess how much the Holy Father actually knows about what is going on, regardless of who makes claims about what is done in his name and by his order. The Curia are still in charge. The wolves will not be slain easily.
Thursday, December 26, 2013
Merry Christmas, all. I have been fighting the flu, so my attempts to get back to regular posting have been thwarted for now. I wish you all the best during this Christmas season. Remember, it IS 12 DAYS!
And thank you to all who offered assistance to the Schneider family. God bless you all.
Sunday, December 22, 2013
Isn't it remarkable that the author of the GQ piece uses blasphemy so easily and without any apparent reservations at all? We should all boycott GQ (which we should be already doing just from principle) for running articles that treat God with such irreverence.
Saturday, December 21, 2013
If you've been under a rock lately, you might have missed the story where Phil Robertson, patriarch of the Duck Commander clan, was suspended from his own show due to making allegedly "hateful" remarks about homosexuals in an article from GQ.
Let's look at what he actually said and then reflect on what it means for the future of public proclamations of Christianity.
“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”
What a shocking statement. Phil is saying that, to him, he doesn't get the attraction of homosexual sex. How bizarre for a heterosexual man to make such a claim.
He also seems to be saying that homosexual sex is illogical. This, too, shouldn't be all that controversial. Given that there is a natural biological complementarity in heterosexual intercourse that is completely lacking in its homosexual counterparts, this statement is not all that strange and certainly not hateful. One could probably examine all kinds of animals and logically deduce the functions of their anatomy. Coming up with homosexual practices based on such deduction is a bit of a stretch.
“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong,” he says. “Sin becomes fine.”
[Interviewer] What, in your mind, is sinful?
“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
So Phil thinks that homosexual behavior is a sin. I think it interesting that he made a point to say "behavior." This is hardly an extreme view and is consistent with 2000 years of Christianity.
Oh, and he also thinks that fornication, adultery, idolatry, greed, drunkenness, slander, etc. are all sins as well. One would hope that everyone agrees.
“We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell. That’s the Almighty’s job. We just love ’em, give ’em the good news about Jesus—whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ’em out later, you see what I’m saying?”
So Phil acknowledges that sin leads one to hell but that the ultimate arbiter of forgiveness of those sins, regardless of what sins they may be, is God. Including homosexuals.
That is the entirety of his comments regarding homosexuality in this interview.
What did he say that was untrue or hateful? Where is the controversy coming from? If you read the comments themselves, the only thing that really qualifies as controversial is that he regards homosexual behavior as a sin. That is where society's problem with Phil Robertson comes from.
That is why this incident is important. Stating something so simple is now sufficient to threaten one's reputation and livelihood. As has been pointed out in the past by our collaborator Karl and other posts here, basic Christian beliefs are slowly being spun as statements of hate speech. Cardinal Ouellet knows all about this from when he took a stand against murdering babies. It's happening, folks, and the courts are going to be ok with it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. Eventually, though, we're going to be in "shouting fire in a crowded theater" territory.
In the interim, there will be enough fabricated outrage and attempted economic sanctions to make life miserable. I say "attempted" because A&E is about to learn the Chik-Fil-A lesson. Certain groups might have powerful lobbies and loud, shrieking voices, but they are worthless in these types of cases. Do you really think people watching the Robertsons and buying Duck Commander stuff are going to listen to those voices? Did they somehow think that Phil and Family were ok with homosexual behavior? The only people who will be boycotting the show are people who weren't watching it anyway.
So when the Robertsons and their followers migrate to CMT or wherever, with a sweeter deal and just as many (if not more) followers, be prepared to hear about (A) how much money they are making) and (B) how hateful the people are who are helping them make that much money.
Saturday, December 14, 2013
Not me, but some folks way more deserving.
Let me tell you about a family.
The father is a physician working in one of the poorest communities in Louisiana. He has 7 children. Their mother passed away 2 years ago. Soon thereafter, the youngest daughter (Joan) was diagnosed with cancer. They removed her femur in an effort to get it all but then discovered that it had spread to her lungs and brain. She is now at St. Jude's.
The dad can only work about 20 hours/week now. He moved the family to Memphis to be near Joan. His commitments in Louisiana have kept him from leaving the community health center where he currently works so he can't be with them full time.
The medical expenses aren't the problem, and I hope that anyone who ever needs a worthy charity will always have St Jude's in mind. However, the general living expenses for the family have made things very tight.
I have never made such a request before but I do so now because these are good people in hardship. Please consider a donation through Red Basket, a non-profit, tax exempt philanthropy which connects individuals giving to other individuals. This past week the Lafayette TV station KATC did a feature about them here.
Donations may be made at this link. Please help if you are able.
Saturday, December 7, 2013
For why in your calamities do you complain of Christianity, unless because you desire to enjoy your luxurious license unrestrained, and to lead an abandoned and profligate life without the interruption of any uneasiness or disaster? For certainly your desire for peace, and prosperity, and plenty is not prompted by any purpose of using these blessings honestly, that is to say, with moderation, sobriety, temperance, and piety; for your purpose rather is to run riot in an endless variety of sottish pleasures, and thus to generate from your prosperity a moral pestilence which will prove a thousandfold more disastrous than the fiercest enemies...
Oh infatuated men, what is this blindness, or rather madness, which possesses you? How is it that while, as we hear, even the eastern nations are bewailing your ruin, and while powerful states in the most remote parts of the earth are mourning your fall as a public calamity, you yourselves should be crowding to the theatres, should be pouring into them and filling them; and, in short, be playing a madder part now than ever before? This was the foul plague-spot, this the wreck of virtue and honor that Scipio sought to preserve you from when he prohibited the construction of theatres; this was his reason for desiring that you might still have an enemy to fear, seeing as he did how easily prosperity would corrupt and destroy you. He did not consider that republic flourishing whose walls stand, but whose morals are in ruins. But the seductions of evil-minded devils had more influence with you than the precautions of prudent men. Hence the injuries you do, you will not permit to be imputed to you: but the injuries you suffer, you impute to Christianity. Depraved by good fortune, and not chastened by adversity, what you desire in the restoration of a peaceful and secure state, is not the tranquillity of the commonwealth, but the impunity of your own vicious luxury. Scipio wished you to be hard pressed by an enemy, that you might not abandon yourselves to luxurious manners; but so abandoned are you, that not even when crushed by the enemy is your luxury repressed. You have missed the profit of your calamity; you have been made most wretched, and have remained most profligate.
St. Augustine: City of God, Book One, Chapters 30 and 33
Just change the name "Scipio" to any pope of the last century and think of the "enemy" in question as "The Adversary." Oh, and everything bad is Christianity's fault.
The more things change...
Sunday, December 1, 2013
Today's Gospel is grounded in the story of The Deluge, the Great Flood. The story of which, by the way, is going to be a movie with Russell Crowe as Noah. Here's the preview for those who haven't seen it yet:
Anyways, let's take a look at what Jesus says in today's reading:
“As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. In those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left."
This is one of several Biblical allusions to the Ark and its connection with salvation typology. It's spelled out a bit more by St. Peter:
Long before, they had refused belief, hoping that God would be patient with them, in the days of Noe. That ark which Noe was then building, in which a few souls, eight in all, found refuge as they passed through the waves, was a type of the baptism which saves us now.
1 Peter 3:20-21
Let's unwind this a bit more, especially in light of the whole "Will Many Be Saved?" question and the general reluctance of people to consider the possibility of damnation.
First, I want to point out for any "Rapture" types that like to reflect on this verse that the ones getting "carried away" are the wicked, not the righteous. The righteous, Noah in this case, are the ones left behind. This is what Jesus says, which carries a bit more weight than Tim LaHaye.
Now that that is out of the way, let's look at the story itself. We know that God sent the Deluge because mankind was so wicked. We also know that He spared Noah and his clan because of Noah's faithfulness. Whether or not his family was equally faithful, we don't know specifically, but there is evidence on both sides.
We know that God is willing to spare the multitude of the wicked for the sake of the righteous. Sodom and Gomorrah would have been fine if Abraham could have found ten virtuous folks. Moses successfully pled the case of the Israelites to God in order to prevent their destruction. God is good and merciful like that. In the case of the Deluge, there obviously weren't enough of the faithful to warrant a withholding of God's justice. The result is a Sodom/Gomorrah-style purging.
Now, if we believe that a people can be so wicked that God would be willing to destroy whole cities or nations, is it not reasonable to think that such people were wicked enough to be in hell? After all, God didn't use fire and brimstone even on the Nazis.
Even ignoring the parallels between the Ark and the Church, we clearly see those saved in the Ark as a type of God's elect who are preserved from destruction. The rest are condemned. Which is the greater number?
I'm not posting this as direct speculation on the number of the elect or reprobate. I do think that it is an indication that people should take salvation more seriously.
I find many who believe in the Deluge as a literally global phenomenon and have no trouble with the idea of God destroying thousands or millions of people as a consequence of their wickedness. What they don't do is take it to the next level. What was the final destination of that multitude? Since they are classed as universally wicked, hell is at least on the table for them, right?
"Yes," some might say, "but God only destroyed their bodies. He didn't give them the eternal punishment of hell by sending the Flood."
Well, yeah, He actually did. Again, if we can agree that the wicked go to Hell, and we know all these people were wicked, what does that mean? It means that God's justice in allowing evil people to perish in their wickedness, even if that would be 99.9999% of the world, is perfectly just and keeping with God's goodness (if we believe the Bible, at least).