Monday, October 21, 2002

posting may be very sporadic today.

Please keep Kathy Shaidle of "relapsed Catholic" in your prayers. Her Mom passed away early yesterday morning.

Friday, October 18, 2002

Warning: graphic imagery here. Big S Blog Not for those who have tried to avoid seeing 9-11 pictures again.
Bad news :-(

I'm going to have to give up being a Catholic blogger, now that I am joining the Church of Reality! Check out their list of saints. And note, unlike boring, schismatic Catholic nuns, their nuns actually wear habits.

The Kairos Protocol

No one has ever named anything for me, except behind my back, and that was in Junior High (a time I'd just as soon forget, so why'd you have to bring it up, huh?). But today I am proposing something that I would like to see all blogs adopt, and all commenters adopt: the Kairos Protocol. It's designed as a means of moderating my own bad behavior, and it might help you, too. The rules are in bold face.

Say a brief prayer before you read a blog. "In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Dear Lord, grant me charity and prudence. Amen." Seriously. Say that same prayer before you comment, or dash off an email to the author of a blog. If you have your own blog, say it before you write, and especially before you publish.

Next, when you find your blood pressure rising, stop reading. Look, as hard as ever you can, for the most charitable, least complaining way to construe what you just read. If you still see an error, find the most charitable manner of correcting it. It is absolutely true that most heretics have no idea that they are heretics, don't want to be heretics, and would fix it if they understood their heresy.

Remember that email and blogging, even filled with emoticons, does not convey body language, and jokes fall flat far more often than they succeed, even among people who are used to one another. I hope the Great and Wise Pop Daddy won't mind me using our correspondence as an example. Greg and I bicker, quibble, and fire poison darts at each other via email all week long, even when--especially when--we agree. Every exchange winds up including two or three extra emails reminding each other that some comment or other was intended only in jest. We both know and expect that the other one is going to make a sarcastic joke without ill intent, and yet we *still* miss it. My own sense of humor depends so much on the deadpan expression followed by a quick wink that it is impossible to reproduce it in written form without risking a great deal of offense. And yet....

Don't question the motives of an opponent in an argument. Ever. As soon as you start worrying about *why* the other person is wrong, you have stopped asking *if* he is wrong, and nothing but anger and insults will be the result. If you read something that is untrue, it will be untrue no matter what motivated the person to believe it. Prove your point not by showing what is wrong with the arguer, but with the argument. You will never convince someone that contraception is wrong by pointing out his vested interest in accepting it, only by showing him that it is objectively wrong.

If you are in a bad mood, go play Furious George, don't read blogs and certainly don't write them, or complain to their authors. This isn't Junior High, but every few months St. Blog's has a phase where most of us act like it is.

Find something nice to say. Our post-modern sensibilities have so corrupted us, that when we read a sentence like "I usually really enjoy your blog," we anticipate with bitter irony the "but" that will follow, and wonder why the correspondent bothered to include it. But that sensibility is poison. The reason to include it is to set the recipient at ease that the writer is not the enemy, and only seeks clarification or understanding. If you can't find something nice to say to the author of a blog about it, then why do you bother reading it? Reading something with the express intent becoming outraged is rude (for you rationalists) and sinful (for you Theists).

I expect to be gently reminded when I violate these rules.
Given the comparatively small number of hits I get, and given how many of them originate at other blogs, the odds are inconceivably small that you are not aware of Disputations' series on the Rosary. In spite of a few shameless attempts at claiming credit for everything but the Angelus, it really is quite good, whether you are a dedicated Rosicrucian or someone who didn't know what the Rosary was until the Lidless Eye declared the Pope a heretic (and/or a fool) for thinking up some new mysteries for it. Check it out.
My mother (about whom I will speak kindly since she sometimes read this blog) bought me a silly "Catholic Trivia" game at a yard sale this weekend. I might post some questions just for fun over the next few weeks. However, Emily Stimpson and any other theology students specializing in Knowing More Than Thy Neighbor: you are officially disqualified.) Questions will *not* be open book, and you are on your honor not to cheat.
It is an ironclad rule of blogging that any blogger who swears off a topic publicly will violate that oath within 48 hours, and often in less than 6. I just thought you should know that.
Friday Intentions

For Ivette. For the safety of travellers. For the victims of terror in Bali, and the people of Australia. For Kathy's Mom. For Candace's grandmother. Please pray for Sally, for Mairen, for Tiernan, and for me. Please pray for the victims and families affected by the shootings near Washington. Please pray for For Dylan's Mom. For Fr. RWB, and the repose of the sould of his mother. For Sam G., and for Dave. For Steven, his wife, and their friend's daugher JB. For Mrs. Kairos Guy's student and the rest of the student's family. For Dean and his wife. For Adam E, who was hurt in a serious fall, but is recovering. For Fr. Jim's cousin Tom. For Karl K. For the people of Zimbabwe and the prisoners of the Lao Gai. For my wife's cousin Sue. For John Paul II. For Bill L.'s mother, father, and daughter, who shares something in common with me. For Eugene D. For those who need strength to bear their crosses. For mothers who choose life, especially those who choose adoption, and for those who did not. For Karin. For Randy, Deb, Roger, Corey, Michael and the anonymous ones as well.
I Love the Lord, His Strength Is Mine

I love the Lord, His strength is mine;
He is my God, I trust His grace;
My Fortress high, my Shield divine,
My Savior and my Hiding Place.

From God the victory I receive;
Most perfect is His holy way;
His Word is tried, they who believe
Will find the Lord their Shield and Stay.

For who is God, and strong to save,
Beside the Lord, our God of might?
’Tis He that makes me strong and brave,
The Lord Who guides my steps aright.

Thy free salvation is my shield,
My sure defense in every strait;
Thy hand upholds me, lest I yield;
Thy gentleness has made me great.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

So, I stand by what I wrote about the UN yesterday. But I definitely was having a bad biorhythm day or something. So I apologize for being intemperate in my choice of words at the outset. I'm no expert in international law, either. The personal blog is not some sacrosanct "personal record"; I routinely revise posts long after they first go up. But this one I'll leave alone. (And, if anyone cares, I am heretofore adopting--at least when I remember to--the British convention of only putting punctuation within the quote marks if the punctuation is part of the quotation. It's a much more sensible way of doing things.)
Pope to faithful: "Be not afraid, suckas."

Oh, Victor, Victor.
Okay, I'm as patriotic as the next guy (unless the next guy is Jimmy Carter--then I'm waaaay more patriotic). And I think a lot of the hysteria being fomented by civil libertarians is, um, hystrionical. But this gives me the creeps.
I had a trifle to forgive this weekend—something petty and stupid, really, and not that big a deal, except for the expense of undoing the damage. Someone vandalized both of our cars, along with a number of others parked in the same area, knocking off the passenger side mirrors. Considering that the North Koreans want to nuke me, the Islamicists want to put me and my family to the sword, and some nut job is shooting up every place I lived and shopped in the DC area, this petty act seems pretty inconsequential.

But you certainly wouldn’t have thought I felt that way if you had heard me on Saturday morning when I found the damage. The morning started out wrong, and just as it seemed it might start to improve, I walked out to discover the crime. Imprecations and swear words to color the cheeks of a nautical type flowed freely—though at least in a mumbled tone, lest the 5-year-old’s surprisingly acute hearing gather them in.

After the initial violence of anger had calmed a bit, I worked hard at keeping the embers warm, until I realized that this is one of those things that I needed to forgive, or the vandalism of my property would become vandalism of my heart. “Fine. I forgive them!”

So later on I was talking to someone, who wanted to know why I was in a tizzy. “Some idiots vandalized my cars last night! Can you believe some jerks would do that?” I replied. That still, small voice in the back of my head kept pushing the intercom button, but I ignored it. The sympathy of my friend (who lives nearby and so began to wonder about his own car) was like a bellows across a dying fire. “Put the still, small voice on hold. I’ll get back to Him later!” I told my internal secretary. “I can’t,” she replied. “He says it’s urgent.” “Fine, I’ll take it in the other room. Listen, Ben, I’ll have to call you back.”

* * *

So the not very great moral of the story is pretty obvious at this point. Merely saying “I forgive them!” means very little if I don’t consciously discipline my mind to adopt a spirit of forgiveness. Deleting angry references in my internal monologue to “Idiots” “Jerks” “Chuckleheads” and certain participles I’m unwilling to commit to the blog helped a lot. Finding a kind person at the Ford Dealership, who gave me a discount on the part for one car (the original cost he quoted is about 10% of the book value of the ancient Escort) helped as well—as did my realization that I could do the install myself. But what worked best was asking for the grace and help to get over it. The realization that I had to do something and am not wired in such a way as to make doing it a solo project was a very liberating one.

The violence to my car was a sin and a crime, a deliberate, wrong act. If the actors are identified, I would expect restitution or insist on punishment before the law. I honestly believe that those are the merciful and charitable things to do, if the villains are to learn to amend their ways. So, “What,” you may ask, “is the result of your forgiveness?” A fair question. 1) I no longer relish the many creative ways in which I imagined myself doing violence to their persons. This is significant. 2) I no longer wander around disparaging their parentage. 3) I could speak to them personally, without anger or malice, but objectively. They did in fact commit a crime, and walking away from that crime would not serve them or Justice. But I have given back to them power only over themselves, no longer over me. So long as I nurtured an anger (especially an anger out of all proportion to the wrong) towards them, I allowed them to go on harming me from afar.
O God, Preserve Me

O God, preserve me, for in Thee
Alone my trust has stood;
My soul has said, Thou art my Lord,
My chief and only good.

I love Thy saints, who fear Thy Name,
And walk as in Thy sight;
They are the excellent of earth,
In them is my delight.

Their sorrows shall be multiplied
Who worship aught but Thee;
I share not in their offerings,
Nor join their company.

The Lord is mine inheritance,
The Lord alone remains
The fullness of my cup of bliss;
The Lord my lot maintains.

The lines are fallen unto me
In places large and fair;
A goodly heritage is mine,
Marked out with gracious care.
Thursday Intentions

For the victims of terror in Bali. For Kathy's Mom. Please pray for Sally, for Mairen, for Tiernan, and for me. Please pray for the victims and families affected by the shootings near Washington. Please pray for For Dylan's Mom. For Fr. RWB, and the repose of the sould of his mother. For Sam G., and for Dave. For Steven, his wife, and their friend's daugher JB. For Mrs. Kairos Guy's student and the rest of the student's family. For Dean and his wife. For Adam E, who was hurt in a serious fall, but is recovering. For Fr. Jim's cousin Tom. For Karl K. For the people of Zimbabwe and the prisoners of the Lao Gai. For my wife's cousin Sue. For John Paul II. For Bill L.'s mother, father, and daughter, who shares something in common with me. For Eugene D. For those who need strength to bear their crosses. For mothers who choose life, especially those who choose adoption, and for those who did not. For Karin. For Randy, Deb, Roger, Corey, Michael and the anonymous ones as well.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

I have failed repeatedly to invite you to visit the home of the Ennis Sisters, a marvelous trio of Canadian folk singers. Go there, and enjoy...
In honor of eve Tushnet's "Poetry Wednesdays" I am doing my own today.

There is a scene in the Patrick O'Brian novel "Post Captain" where Mr Lowndes, an insane but fairly harmless person, who supposes himself to be a teapot, offers to recite some poetry for another character. I shall now do the same:

Arma virumque cano, etc. Ain't it grand?

[Don't be annoyed if you think I may be the Teapot here. Once in a while I like to do things that amuse only me, to the flummoxing of others.]
Quick. Look over there, on the right. Have you signed the guestmap?

Have you made a donation? (Hint: I don't get the money if you do.)

Well, what are you waiting for? Get to it, man! Old time is still a flying, and these same flowers that bloom today tomorrow will be a dying. (or somesuch.)
As war blogging goes on, and people who know absolutely nothing about international law (along with a few who know something about it) weigh in with muddled thinking, one idea seems to have caught hold of the imaginations of those who oppose war in general, but want to believe they only oppose this one.

The objection is usually phrased as an apposite: "in this age of weapons of mass destruction..." or some similar wording. What follows is almost always a moral surrender. "In an age of weapons of mass destruction, we must hesitate to act, lest our acting cause something worse to happen." This usually appears as a part of an argument that also asserts that, say, Saddam Hussein (to pick a name at random) is no *immediate* threat to the US.

The syllogism seems to go like this: 1) The bad man is not an immediate threat. 2) He wants to be even more bad, getting weapons that could kill us all. 3) He will either use those weapons someday, or hold us hostage with the threat of using them. Ergo, we should not act now, because he might actually *be* an immediate threat to us.

It is possible, I think, to oppose war with Saddam on legitimate grounds at the present time. But this is not a reason for doing so. If war is ever just, then it must sometimes be mandatory. A day will soon come when Saddam and his ilk will declare their ability to harm us, almost if not in fact mortally, and we will in the very best possible outcome arrive at a new kind of Cold War. It will be more violent and ugly than the old one, though, because the Islamist fascists with whom Saddam will find himself allied value their own skins not nearly so much as the Politburo did, making "containment" a much, much riskier proposition.

If weapons of mass destruction necessitate a change in just war doctrine, as the bishops and others appear to believe, then I would posit that the change needs to be in the direction of acting on less immediate threats, precisely because of the danger those weapons present.
Wednesday Intentions

For the victims of terror in Bali. For Kathy's Mom. Please pray for Sally, for Mairen, for Tiernan, and for me. Please pray for the victims and families affected by the shootings near Washington. Please pray for For Dylan's Mom. For Fr. RWB, and the repose of the sould of his mother. For Sam G., and for Dave. For Steven, his wife, and their friend's daugher JB. For Mrs. Kairos Guy's student and the rest of the student's family. For Dean and his wife. For Adam E, who was hurt in a serious fall, but is recovering. For Fr. Jim's cousin Tom. For Karl K. For the people of Zimbabwe and the prisoners of the Lao Gai. For my wife's cousin Sue. For John Paul II. For Bill L.'s mother, father, and daughter, who shares something in common with me. For Eugene D. For those who need strength to bear their crosses. For mothers who choose life, especially those who choose adoption, and for those who did not. For Karin. For Randy, Deb, Roger, Corey, Michael and the anonymous ones as well.
Lord, hear the right

Lord, hear the right, regard my cry,
My prayer from lips sincere,
Send Thine approval from on high,
My righteousness make clear.
Thou in the night my heart hast tried,
Nor found it turned from Thee aside.

With steadfast courage I design
No wrong to speak or do;
Thy path of life I choose for mine
And walk with purpose true.
For help, O God, I cry to Thee,
Assured that Thou wilt answer me.

O Thou that ever savest those
Whose trust on Thee is stayed,
Preserving them from all their foes
By Thine almighty aid,
Let me Thy lovingkindness see,
Thy wondrous mercy, full and free.

O guard me well as one would guard
The apple of the eye;
While deadly foes are pressing hard,
To Thee, to Thee I cry;
Do Thou my rest and refuge be,
O let Thy wings o’ershadow me.

Mine enemy, grown strong in pride,
Would take my life away,
A lion lurking by my side,
Most greedy for his prey.
Confront and cast him down, O Lord,
From evil save me by Thy sword.

Defend me from the men of pride,
Whose portion is below,
Who, with life’s treasures satisfied,
No better portion know;
They, with earth’s joys and wealth content,
Must leave them all when life is spent.

When I in righteousness at last
Thy glorious face shall see,
When all the weary night is past,
And I awake with Thee
To view the glories that abide,
Then, then I shall be satisfied.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

These remarks are represent my first efforts at articulating something extremely difficult to place into words. Each time I try to specify precisely what I think I mean, the idea I am after changes direction, wafts away on the breeze. I post these comments because I think the idea matters, but please understand that this is entirely provisional. So no freaking out on me.

I have been thinking a lot about the “Pearl of Great Price” concept (what Greg Popcak was using in the form of “The Mercedes Principle” a few weeks ago) versus the idea of “Meeting people where they are”—“Defining Christianity Down” to a mere pabulum of harmless moral teaching.

What troubles me about many Christians who consider themselves Orthodox, or even “conservative,” is the exclusivity of the definitions, which plays itself out in the price they consider worthy of the pearl. The problem with this is not so much that they are wrong in setting the price (for that price is absolutely everything, and is never marked down) but that they err in supposing that they themselves have successfully paid it, and cherishing the belief that others have not. (Yes, cherishing. What else to call it?)

“Meeting people where they are” is fine as a starting point—necessary even—but stupid as an objective. Where “people are” is as fallen, sinful, wicked creatures. All of us. If all you do for someone is say “Welcome. God loves you,” then you have done them no good and actual harm.

The problem, for me, is these two points represent the extremes on a continuum. It is necessary to start at “where people are” and bring them to “the pearl of great price.” But it is not always necessary, or even desirable, to demand payment in full, up front. Most of us are probably familiar with conversions where this was in fact required, and thus are equally familiar with the singularly high failure rate of such conversions. Vows of perpetual virtue are all well and good, but uniquely unsuited to effecting a change in our nature when taken as the first step, rather than the last.

People like Mike Hardy do good work, as far as I’m concerned, and I find my charity sorely tested by people who want to ostracize him. Mike’s mission, it seemed to me, was to meet people at the door, ask challenging questions (of both heterosexuals and homosexuals), and move them along the continuum. It is certainly true that Mike’s end point would be different from mine. It is equally true that Mike advocated a position in moral theology different from that traditionally held by most Christians at most points in history. But so what? His sins may be much more public than mine but they are hardly worse. And I am no less inclined than he to try to carve out for myself an exception sometimes.

Mark Shea (I think) commented a couple months ago that he is no supporter of the “I will hold this absolute minimum/maximum set of beliefs” school of Christianity. In one sense, I agree—when those beliefs permanently fix themselves, calcifying as soon as formulated. But in another sense, I think people who set limits around their beliefs, if they are honest, are ripe for further conversion.

This is where the two endpoints connect. “I will believe this much and no more,” must inevitably lead to another step, and another, if a person is nurtured and cherished and treated with caritas. But treat that person with smug self-righteousness and instead of encouraging the person to open himself further to the Holy Spirit, you set the pearl out of reach. The pearl grows within each of us; in a sense we are the oysters, and it is the tiny irritant of a grain of sand that causes the pearl to grow, layer upon layer. It does not spring from us fully formed, and a great shock is far more likely to kill us than set the growth process in motion.
Monday Intentions

For the victims of terror in Bali. For Kathy's Mom. Please pray for Sally, for Mairen, for Tiernan, and for me. Please pray for the victims and families affected by the shootings near Washington. Please pray for For Dylan's Mom. For Steven, his wife, and their friend's daugher JB. For Mrs. Kairos Guy's student and the rest of the student's family. For Dean and his wife. For Adam E, who was hurt in a serious fall, but is recovering. For Fr. Jim's cousin Tom. For Karl K. For the people of Zimbabwe and the prisoners of the Lao Gai. For my wife's cousin Sue. For John Paul II. For Bill L.'s mother, father, and daughter, who shares something in common with me. For Eugene D. For those who need strength to bear their crosses. For mothers who choose life, especially those who choose adoption, and for those who did not. For Randy, Deb, Roger, Corey, Michael and the anonymous ones as well.
Take Me as I Am

Jesus, my Lord, to Thee I cry;
Unless Thou help me I must die;
Oh, bring Thy free salvation nigh,
And take me as I am.

Refrain

And take me as I am,
And take me as I am,
My only plea—Christ died for me!
Oh, take me as I am.

Helpless I am, and full of guilt;
But yet for me Thy blood was spilt,
And Thou canst make me what Thou wilt,
And take me as I am.

Refrain

No preparation can I make,
My best resolves I only break,
Yet save me for Thine own Name’s sake,
And take me as I am.

Refrain

Behold me, Savior, at Thy feet,
Deal with me as Thou seest meet;
Thy work begin, Thy work complete,
And take me as I am.

Refrain

Friday, October 11, 2002

A fate worse than death?

Random thought: for a Christian, every fate is worse than death. Only at death are we finally granted the Beatific Vision that makes all the suffering, pain, and agony worth having been endured.

Losing a child and being rich are really much of a piece in a metaphysical but nevertheless real sense, along with living in the suburbs and undergoing torture. All of them offer opportunities for salvation or damnation, and even the happiest human existence is a horrible thing to have to endure compared to what comes next. I don't make light of suffering; I merely remind that even "the good life" is a fate worse than death.
Welcome for U.S. in Gulf No Longer Quite So Hearty (washingtonpost.com) Many Kuwaitis say that while they remain grateful to the United States, they are outraged by what they perceive as growing U.S. bias toward Israel and against the Palestinians.

It would be so much easier to take statement like this seriously if Kuwait had not undergone an ethnic cleansing of sorts, with the expulsion of nearly every Palestinian from the country in punishment for Arafat's support of Saddam last time around.
The Holy Nut explains to the excessive quantity

Babelfish does not always illuminate the writer's intent. To wit, from Benedikt's blog:

From the constitution over hl. the Liturgie:
2. In the Liturgie, particularly in the holy victim of the Eucharistie, """ the work of our release "carries out itself
4. Faithfully the holy council finally explains to the excessive quantity that the holy nut/mother church awards same right and same honour to all legally recognized rites. It is their will that these rites are promoted in the future received and in each way, and it is their desire that they, as far as it does emergency are examined to their whole extent in accordance with the spirit of healthy excessive quantity and equipped regarding conditions and necessities of the present with new strength.


My German is very, very rusty, but I'm pretty sure that's not what he said. But, since I'm not absolutely certain, I'll fall back on the copout I used to use when Frau McCune called on me and I had no idea what had been happening: Ich stimme zu!
A Light Blogging Day

Today will be free of lengthy posts, unless I get some serious time around lunch. Thanks for all the nice comments on the "Catholic Blogger" posts. Keep your suggestions coming for additions to the "You might be..." list. I'll yank them out of the comments box at some point and post them out here.
Friday Intentions

For Kathy's Mom. Please pray for Sally, for Mairen, for Tiernan, and for me. Please pray for the victims and families affected by the shootings near Washington. Please pray for For Dylan's Mom. For Steven, his wife, and their friend's daugher JB. For Mrs. Kairos Guy's student and the rest of the student's family. For Dean and his wife. For Adam E, who was hurt in a serious fall, but is recovering. For Fr. Jim's cousin Tom. For Karl K. For the people of Zimbabwe and the prisoners of the Lao Gai. For my wife's cousin Sue. For John Paul II. For Bill L.'s mother, father, and daughter, who shares something in common with me. For Eugene D. For those who need strength to bear their crosses. For mothers who choose life, especially those who choose adoption, and for those who did not. For Randy, Deb, Roger, Corey, Michael and the anonymous ones as well.
Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!

All Thy works with joy surround Thee, earth and heaven reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee, center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain, flowery meadow, flashing sea,
Singing bird and flowing fountain call us to rejoice in Thee.

Thou art giving and forgiving, ever blessing, ever blessed,
Wellspring of the joy of living, ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother, all who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other, lift us to the joy divine.

Mortals, join the happy chorus, which the morning stars began;
Father love is reigning o’er us, brother love binds man to man.
Ever singing, march we onward, victors in the midst of strife,
Joyful music leads us Sunward in the triumph song of life.

Thursday, October 10, 2002

Late Intention

Please include Kathy Shaidle and her mother in your prayers.
A largely rhetorical question

Is it possible to read the Gospels and the epistles, and come to the conclusion that Christ ever intended us to invent the species known as “canon lawyer?” I don’t mean to imply that canon lawyers are bad people, or unnecessary. But I can’t help but wonder how, with the Truth of Christ as our sword and the Holy Spirit as our armor, we still managed to go so far wrong as to have to invent canon law and a whole class of citizens to interpret it for us.
You might be a Catholic blogger if…

You have a PayPal account but have never been to eBay.
You didn’t know the word ephebophilia 8 months ago but consider yourself an expert on the subject now.
The words “liturgical norms” in bold face type make your palms sweat and your pupils narrow.
You have bookmarked comments.
You realize that “Flos Carmeli” is not what Italians do after eating candied apples.
You have more serious arguments with people you’ve never met than with anyone you know in person.
You would give up a major organ for a mention in “The Corner.”
You don’t like Andrew Sullivan but pester him in the hopes he will publicly take notice of your pestering.
You can say without thinking who uses the phrase “You are one with my blog.”
You have ever given serious thought to asking Shawn O’Neal to conduct an email or chatroom confession for you.
You’ve ever wanted to punch Jody, Justin Katz, Josh Claybourn or the Americanist in the nose.
You know who all the people in the last two are.
You’ve ever done a google search for “socratic cave baseball” to see where you rank on the list.
You are the only TRUE Catholic you know.
You know who “Joseph” is, and his age in months.
You have ever sent an email to 15 complete strangers asking them to comment on your opinions.
You have used the words “post conciliar church” in the same sentence more than once this year.
A calendar of “The Girls [or Boys] of St. Blog’s” sounds like a fabulous idea.
You have programmed EWTN into the “speed dial” buttons on your cable remote.
You have called your local cable company and said “I want my EWTN!”
“Booster” and “Reeves” make you giggle.
You know there’s a person called “Nihil Obstat” but you don’t know why.
“Lady Wimsey” is not a character from some 19th century chick novel.
“Strength, Pride and Strength” radio kicks “Heart, Mind and Strength” radio’s chasuble.
You have tried to order Pop Daddy’s “Gregorian Rap” at a record store, and run out giggling.
You own any book by Mark Shea or Greg Popcak.
Thursday Intentions

Please give thanks in your prayers for the completion of Elizabeth's treatment. She has been on and out of the list here since the beginning, and she had her final treatment on Friday. So far, so good.

Please pray for Sally, for Mairen, for Tiernan, and for me. Please pray for the victims and families affected by the shootings near Washington. Please pray for For Dylan's Mom. For Steven, his wife, and their friend's daugher JB. For Mrs. Kairos Guy's student and the rest of the student's family. For Dean and his wife. For Adam E, who was hurt in a serious fall, but is recovering. For Fr. Jim's cousin Tom. For Karl K. For the people of Zimbabwe and the prisoners of the Lao Gai. For my wife's cousin Sue. For John Paul II. For Bill L.'s mother, father, and daughter, who shares something in common with me. For Eugene D. For those who need strength to bear their crosses. For mothers who choose life, especially those who choose adoption, and for those who did not. For Randy, Deb, Roger, Corey, Michael and the anonymous ones as well.
Yesterday I posted Psalm 15, today Psalm 4. I'm not much into numerology, but it often seems that when a number has significance to me, the corresponding Psalm does too.

Psalm 4

1 Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.
2 O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah.
3 But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him.
4 Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.
6 There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.
7 Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased.
8 I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

The 21 stages of Catholic blogging:

1. I HAVE A BLOG! I am soooooooooooooo cool. It’s going to be bigger than the Drudge Report! I will save souls. Many, many souls. “Dear Mark Shea, I have just started a new blog and…” I have so much to say.
2. 42 hits! Four. Tee. Tuuuu. I rock the party!
3. Alright! Somebody emailed me!
4. Hmm. Only 39 hits. “Dear Mom and Dad, You know how you’re always complaining that you don’t know what’s going on in my life? Well, now you can find out by reading my blog!”
5. “I know I promised I wasn’t going to blog ‘the Scandal,’ but..” (but I’m not getting very many hits) “I mean, pedophilia? What were they THINKING?”
6. “Thanks to Judy Blogsalots for the link…” but don’t miss MY unique take on it.
7. “Dear every other blogger whose email I could find, won’t you please link to this exciting commentary on the proper position of the eyelids during the Gospel Acclamation?”
8. Hmm. 36 hits? “Unusual sexual positions!” Hah! That will generate some google searches.
9. “The [check one] heretic/mindless Vatican drone/hateful little b--tard over at ‘Orthoblog’ is completely wrong about the eyelid positioning, and is going to Hell.”
10. “Marty Haugen is [check one] the greatest thing ever to happen to liturgy/the Antichrist/who?”
11. 25 hits. Agony! Self-doubt! Depression. “I’m thinking of shutting down the blog…”
12. Wow! 4 emails threatening suicide and excommunication if I stop! WOOHOO! Now, If I could just get a date with Emily Stimpson and/or Victor Lams
13. “I’ve added this little comments feature…” because none of you morons seem to know how to email me.
14. 76 hits! “Nihil obstat can kiss my dangling participle!”*
15. Hmm. What to write? Hmm.
16. "I'm not doing this for my own good, so I have added a Paypal button/link to my 'book' for sale at Amazon on the righthand column." Fork over. Salvation ain't free, you know!
17. “Dear Mr. Johnstone, The company is very concerned about the decline in your productivity during the 3rd quarter. We expect better during the fourth. Signed, The Boss.”
18. Hmmmmm.
19. “As of today, this blog is finished. I need to spend more time on other projects, and…”
20. “I know I said I was quitting, but…”
21. 36 hits. “I quit.”

(*I have to credit John D. from Disputations with the colorful image in 14.)
Our child was due April 15. With that in mind, here is Psalm 15, instead of a hymn.

Psalm 15 (link takes you to NIV text)
1 Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?
2 He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.
3 He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.
4 In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.
5 He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.
Wednesday Intentions

Please give thanks in your prayers for the completion of Elizabeth's treatment. She has been on and out of the list here since the beginning, and she had her final treatment on Friday. So far, so good.

Please pray for Sally, for Mairen, for Tiernan, and for me. Please pray for the victims and families affected by the shootings near Washington. Please pray for For Dylan's Mom. For the residents of Iberia Parish, Louisiana. For Steven, his wife, and their friend's daugher JB. For Mrs. Kairos Guy's student and the rest of the student's family. For Dean and his wife. For Adam E, who was hurt in a serious fall. For Fr. Jim's cousin Tom. For Karl K. For the people of Zimbabwe and the prisoners of the Lao Gai. For my wife's cousin Sue. For John Paul II. For Alicia, her sister, and her sister's boyfriend. For Bill L.'s mother, father, and daughter, who shares something in common with me. For Eugene D. For those who need strength to bear their crosses. For mothers who choose life, especially those who choose adoption, and for those who did not. For Randy, Deb, Roger, Corey, Michael and the anonymous ones as well.

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Not surprisingly, I have been reflecting on the Lazarus story in John 11 a lot over the past few days, and there is something remarkable about it that I have never seen commented upon (though I have no doubt such comments exist; my insight is not very great).

What struck me as truly remarkable is the fact that Jesus had a friend who was not a disciple, nor a member of the larger following that went with him from place to place. Does it not seem odd, when first noticed, that the Son of God should have formed the sort of friendly attachment and even deep love that people normally form, without it leading, as in the case of the Apostles, to Lazarus being called?

And we know it was a real friendship from the language of the Gospel. In verse 35, Jesus wept.

For myself, I find it odd but in a good sort of way. It reveals an affection between Creator and creature. It blesses that natural bond that springs up between unlike people. It shows in unmistakable terms that Jesus was indeed fully human. And it reveals a profound sorrow that the state of the world is such that people must, in the course of things, die.
ICEL takes on great orations in history

In case you were wondering exactly what’s wrong with making language more “accessible”:

The Gettysburg Speech (by the International Committee on English in the Liturgy)

About 90 years ago, our grandparents founded a new country: thought of in terms of liberty, and guided by the ideal that all people are created equal.

Now we are fighting a violent civil war, trying to ensure that that country, and any country thought of and guided that way, can last a long time. We are meeting on one of the war’s bloody battlefields.

We have come to memorialize some of the ground as graves for those who died for their country. It is good to do this.

But, in a bigger sense, we can’t dedicate — we can’t make sacred — we can’t bless — the fields. The living and dead soldiers who fought here already did that, and we can’t change it. The world won’t hear or remember today’s speeches but it can’t forget what happened.

Instead, we who are still alive must finish what those who died were starting. We need to keep trying to complete the job; so that these special dead help us increase our commitment to the cause to which they were unselfishly committed — that we seriously promise that these dead won’t have died in vain — that this country will renew its freedom — and that government for the people’s benefit, chosen by the people, and made up of the people won’t disappear.

Thank you to all who posted or emailed your good wishes, prayers and words of comfort. Sally and I are deeply appreciative of the solace so many of you have offered.
Tuesday Intentions

Today, please pray for Sally, for Mairen, for Tiernan, and for me. Please pray for the victims and families affected by the shootings near Washington. Please pray for For Dylan's Mom. For the residents of Iberia Parish, Louisiana. For Steven, his wife, and their friend's daugher JB. For Mrs. Kairos Guy's student and the rest of the student's family. For Dean and his wife. For Adam E, who was hurt in a serious fall. For Fr. Jim's cousin Tom. For Karl K. For the people of Zimbabwe and the prisoners of the Lao Gai. For my wife's cousin Sue. For John Paul II. For Alicia, her sister, and her sister's boyfriend. For Bill L.'s mother, father, and daughter, who shares something in common with me. For Eugene D. For those who need strength to bear their crosses. For mothers who choose life, especially those who choose adoption, and for those who did not. For Randy, Deb, Roger, Corey, Michael and the anonymous ones as well.
This Is the Day the Lord Hath Made

This is the day the Lord hath made;
He calls the hours His own;
Let heav’n rejoice, let earth be glad,
And praise surround the throne.

Today He rose and left the dead,
And Satan’s empire fell;
Today the saints His triumphs spread,
And all His wonders tell.

Hosanna to th’anointed King,
To David’s holy Son;
Help us, O Lord; descend and bring
Salvation from Thy throne.

Blest be the Lord, Who comes to men
With messages of grace;
Who comes in God His Father’s Name,
To save our sinful race.

Hosanna in the highest strains
The Church on earth can raise;
The highest heav’ns, in which He reigns,
Shall give Him nobler praise.

Friday, October 04, 2002

Sally lost our baby today. No more blogging for a bit.

Thursday, October 03, 2002

In regards to Mark Shea's question at HMS, if that really is all the bishops are arguing about, then they are way outside their competency. Just war theory holds only that "sovereign authority" is needed. Unless they are going to start claiming ("Gore won!") that the US government is not a legitimate authority for just war purposes--a patently unsustainable argument--then they have no basis for saying anything further.

In fact, now that I think a moment, it is much harder to sustain a case for a "just war" based on the United Nations *at all* because the UN has no sovereign authority over anything. Nada. Zip. The UN properties around the world are afforded the treatment given to national diplomatic missions, but that's it. The UN is an assembly of sovereign authorities, but is not itself sovereign in any useful sense of the term. Going back to my IR classes and trying to remember the definition of a state: it possesses no territory; it has no internationally recognized boundaries; it has no citizens; it has no means of establishing or enforcing laws; and it has no government.

Even if one wanted to argue that its members have yielded some sovereign powers to it (which is not in fact true; because the general assembly has no legislative authority, and the security council can only resolve; No authority independent of its constituent states exists to enforce security council resolutions) the fact remains that it is up to individual sovereigns to accede to or resist the demands of the UN, and enforcement ability is an essential criteria for establishing sovereignty.

So, all those who want to base the "justness" of the coming war on the UN, sorry, but the UN by itself would in fact make this an ipso fact unjust war.

(That doesn't make it *imprudent* to involve the UN. But it does make it unnecessary.)
There's a good discussion going on the comments on my "Last ever on contraception" post from the other day. If you've skipped them, take a peak.
If anyone here has contact with the "Ratzinger Fan Club" people...

I tried to submit this through their website, but had no luck. I don't know on which end the problem lay, so if you have emailed with someone there, would you please pass these comments along:

I bought a mug and a hat via Cafe Press and was depressed to see, when they arrived, that they were made in China. It seems to me that the best way to honor a Cardinal of the Church is not to buy products made by imprisoned members of that church in a forced labor camp in China.
I promised this some time ago but have just now gotten around to typing it up. I have preserved the British punctuation etc. from the original.

The Conditions for a Just War


(as printed in “God in the Dock” by C.S. Lewis.)

Sir, In your January number Mr Mascall mentions six conditions for a just war which have been laid down by ‘theologians’. I have one question to ask and a number of problems to raise about these rules. The question is merely historical. Who are these theologians, and what kind or degree of authority can they claim over members of the Church of England? The problems are more difficult. Condition 4 lays down that ‘it must be morally certain that the loss, to the belligerents, the world, and religion, will not outweigh the advantages of winning’; and 6, that ‘there must be a considerable probability of winning’. It is plain that equally sincere people can differ to any extent and argue for ever as to whether a proposed war fulfills these conditions or not. The practical question, therefore, which faces us is one of authority. Who has the duty of deciding when the conditions are fulfilled, and the right of enforcing his decision? Modern discussions tend to assume without argument that the answer is ‘The private conscience of the individual,’ and that any other answer is immoral and totalitarian. Now it is certain, in some sense, that ‘no duty of obedience can justify a sin,’ as Mr Mascall says. Granted that capital punishment is compatible with Christianity, a Christian may lawfully be a hangman; but he must not hang a man whom he knows to be innocent. But will anyone interpret this to mean that the hangman has the same duty of investigating the prisoner’s guilt which the judge has? If so, no executive can work and no Christian state is possible, which is absurd. I conclude that the hangman has done his duty if he has done his share of the general duty, resting upon all citizens alike, to ensure, so far as in him lies, that we have an honest judicial system; if, in spite of this, and unknowingly, he hands an innocent man, then a sin has been committed, but not by him. This analogy suggests to me that it must be absurd to give to the private citizen the same right and duty of deciding the justice of a given war which rests on governments; and I submit that the rules for determining what wars are just were originally rules for the guidance of princes, not subjects. This does not mean that private persons must obey governments commanding them to do what they know is a sin; but perhaps it does mean (I write with some reluctance) that the ultimate decision as to what the situation at a given moment is in the highly complex field of international affairs is one which must be delegated. No doubt we must make every effort which the constitution allows to ensure a good government and to influence public opinion; but in the long run, the nation, as a nation, must act, and it can act only through its government. (It must be remembered that there are risks in both directions; if war is ever lawful, then peace is sometimes sinful.) What is the alternative? That individuals ignorant of history and strategy should decide for themselves whether condition 6 (‘a considerable probability of winning’) is, or is not, fulfilled?—or that every citizen, neglecting his own vocation and not weighing his capacity, is to become an expert on all the relevant, and often technical, problems?
Decisions by the private conscience of each Christian in the light of Mr Mascall’s six rules would divide Christians from each other and result in no clear Christian witness to the pagan world around us. But a clear Christian witness might be attained in a different way. It all Christians consented to bear arms at the command of the magistrate, and if all, after that, refused to obey anti-Christian orders, should we not get a clear issue? A man is much more certain that he ought not to murder prisoners or bomb civilians that he ever can be about the justice of a war. It is perhaps here that ‘conscientious objections’ ought to begin. I feel certain that one Christian airman shot for refusing to bomb enemy civilians would be a more effective martyr (in the etymological sense of the word) than a hundred Christians in jail for refusing to join the army.
Christendom has made two efforts to deal with the evil of war—chivalry and pacifism. Neither succeeded. But I doubt whether chivalry has such an unbroken record of failure as pacifism.
The question is a very dark one. I should welcome about equally refutation, or development, of what I have said.
Thursday Intentions

If you have someone you would like to add, please email me.

For Dylan's Mom. For the residents of Iberia Parish, Louisiana. For priests who have sinned, and priests who have not. For Gerard. For Steven, his wife, and their friend's daugher JB. For Mrs. Kairos Guy's student and the rest of the student's family. For Dean and his wife. For Adam E, who was hurt in a serious fall. For Fr. Jim's cousin Tom. For Mrs. Kairos Guy, who is getting better. For Karl K. For the people of Zimbabwe and the prisoners of the Lao Gai. For those who minister in inner cities, that they may help bring about peace. For Chris and his wife, in training for the law and NFP. For my wife's cousin Sue. For John Paul II. For Alicia, her sister, and her sister's boyfriend. For Bill L.'s mother, father, and daughter, who shares something in common with me. For Eugene D. For those who need strength to bear their crosses. For mothers who choose life, especially those who choose adoption, and for those who did not. For Randy, Deb, Roger, Corey, Michael and the anonymous ones as well.
The Dying Robber Raised His Aching Brow

The dying robber raised his aching brow
To claim the dying Lord for company;
And heard, in answer to his trembling bow,
The promise of the King: Thou—even thou—
Today shalt be in Paradise with me.

We, too, the measure of our guilt confess,
Knowing Thy mercy, Lord, our only plea;
That we, like him, through judgment and distress,
For all the weight of our unworthiness
May win our way to Paradise with Thee.

But so bewildered is our failing heart,
So dim the luster of Thy royalty,
We hardly know Thee, Lord, for what Thou art,
Till we begin to take the better part
And lose ourselves in Paradise with Thee.

Then lift our eyes, dear Lord, from this poor dross,
To see Thee reigning in humility,
The King of love; that, wresting gain from loss,
We, too, may climb the ladder of the cross,
To find our home in Paradise with Thee.

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Apropos of something Mark Shea said

John Prine, "Please Don't Bury Me" ©John Prine

Woke up this morning
Put on my slippers
Walked in the kitchen and died
And oh what a feeling!
When my soul
Went thru the ceiling
And on up into heaven I did ride
When I got there they did say
John, it happened this way
You slipped upon the floor
And hit your head
And all the angels say
Just before you passed away
These were the very last words
That you said:

Chorus:
Please don't bury me
Down in that cold cold ground
No, I'd druther have "em" cut me up
And pass me all around
Throw my brain in a hurricane
And the blind can have my eyes
And the deaf can take both of my ears
If they don't mind the size
Give my stomach to Milwaukee
If they run out of beer
Put my socks in a cedar box
Just get "em" out of here
Venus de Milo can have my arms
Look out! I've got your nose
Sell my heart to the junkman
And give my love to Rose

Repeat Chorus

Give my feet to the footloose
Careless, fancy free
Give my knees to the needy
Don't pull that stuff on me
Hand me down my walking cane
It's a sin to tell a lie
Send my mouth way down south
And kiss my ass goodbye

Repeat Chorus
The argument from efficient causality.

Music comes from a man playing a piano. If he stops, so does the music. If there is no uncaused being, there can be no thing.

Those who appeal to the physical laws of the universe to disprove the existence of God do not understand them. These laws demand that every effect have a cause outside of itself. Without an uncaused physical being outside the universe to set the chain of causality in motion, nothing could have happened within those laws. As I'm constantly reminding my wife, we can't win PowerBall without we buy a ticket. The odds of winning are 1:120 million or so if we buy a ticket, improbable to the point of absurdity, but still possible. They are infinitely against us winning if we don't.
An immutable law of the universe, revealed

Call it the "NBC Law of Inverse Comic Proportionality." I don't know why it should be true, but it is. If NBC advertises a new sitcom, and the commercial makes you laugh--not smile, or grunt, but really laugh--the show will prove to be terrible. On the other hand, if the commercials for that new show really stink, the show will be good. I first noticed this law in regards to "Frasier" ten years or so ago. Recently, it has applied to "Scrubs" and "Will & Grace" (though that show got meaner and I wearied of it) and now "Hidden Hills." Of course, all these shows have too much sexual content, and they have their appeals to the lowest common denominator at times. But there is an intelligence about Scrubs in particular that is intelligent, and Hidden Hills has at least the potential for dealing with things that are both funny and part of life. Last night's show was about jealousy and lust, for instance, and neither concept came out looking very good.
A little self-satisfaction

My bait-and-switch tactic is working. I have noticed at least 3 google searches for "sexual positions" have brought people here. And you all thought I was trolling up the wrong tree....
Wednesday Intentions

If you have someone you would like to add, please email me.

For Dylan's Mom. For priests who have sinned, and priests who have not. For Gerard. For Steven, his wife, and their friend's daugher JB. For Mrs. Kairos Guy's student and the rest of the student's family. For Dean and his wife. For Adam E, who was hurt in a serious fall. For Fr. Jim's cousin Tom. For Mrs. Kairos Guy, who is getting better. For Karl K. For the people of Zimbabwe and the prisoners of the Lao Gai. For those who minister in inner cities, that they may help bring about peace. For Chris and his wife, in training for the law and NFP. For my wife's cousin Sue. For John Paul II. For Alicia, her sister, and her sister's boyfriend. For Bill L.'s mother, father, and daughter, who shares something in common with me. For Eugene D. For those who need strength to bear their crosses. For mothers who choose life, especially those who choose adoption, and for those who did not. For Randy, Deb, Roger, Corey, Michael and the anonymous ones as well.
A hymn from the East today

The King Shall Come when Morning Dawns

The King shall come when morning dawns,
And light triumphant breaks;
When beauty gilds the eastern hills,
And life to joy awakes.

Not as of old a little child
To bear, and fight, and die,
But crowned with glory like the sun
That lights the morning sky.

O brighter than the rising morn
When He, victorious, rose,
And left the lonesome place of death,
Despite the rage of foes.

O brighter than that glorious morn
Shall this fair morning be,
When Christ, our King, in beauty comes,
And we His face shall see.

The King shall come when morning dawns,
And earth’s dark night is past;
O haste the rising of that morn,
The day that aye shall last.

And let the endless bliss begin,
By weary saints foretold,
When right shall triumph over wrong,
And truth shall be extolled.

The King shall come when morning dawns,
And light and beauty brings:
Hail, Christ the Lord! Thy people pray,
Come quickly, King of kings.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

I must be grouchy because no one has signed my guestmap all week. Why don't you make my day by doing so now?
I honestly hope this is the last thing I ever write about contraception for the rest of my life.

[Ed. note: if you have communicated with me and believe I have you in mind with this commentary, you are mistaken. My discussions with other bloggers and commenters and emailers have been civil and decent. Many of them are married with kids. One young woman might think I mean her, but I am perfectly aware that I invited her commentary, and she is very far from my mind as I write.]

There are few things more disagreeable than being lectured about my station in life by someone who has not yet reached and will not reach that station himself. The staff officer who visits the infantryman in the hospital, who tells him what a blessing the prosthetic leg will turn out to be, is the sort of person I have in mind. The fact that the staff officer may be perfectly in the right does not by itself make it any easier to take; rather the opposite in fact. The staff officer, possessing a kind of truth, may have a duty to share it, however unhappy the recipient may be to receive it, but he also ought to think carefully about the manner in which he does so.

This, I think, is at the root of so much of the discussion about contraception and NFP. To be lectured—and that is the tone I mean, lecturing—by a single celibate person about my “contraceptive mentality” and about the blessings of children is intolerable. Badgering and cajoling do not serve the cause of truth, even when the teller is armed with it.

I love my son more than my own life. I love the child growing in my wife every bit as much, and feel a different love as well for the problems that have surrounded the pregnancy thus far. If God sends me six more I will love each one as much, however much I hope He doesn’t. And I will punch in the nose any person who dares to stand before me and suggest otherwise, honestly I will.

But children are not an unending series of happy moment piled upon happy moment. They shit and piss and puke. They talk back. They get scary high fevers at 3am (never at noon). They break bones and ruin carpets. They set fires and ruin weddings. They say hateful, hurtful things. They choose friends unwisely and they put their own lives in jeopardy without a moment’s thought. American society is downright hostile to the raising of them, from rampant abortion to a tax structure that often eats up the second salary merely paying taxes on the first. Public schools treat them as cattle and private ones cost twice the median income.

Documents written in Latin by men without children that tell me what is alleged to be in my heart are less than devoid of meaning for me; they are harmful to the truths they contain. “God will provide” is perfectly true and singularly unhelpful when coming from a person for whom that provision is entirely hypothetical. God at some times provides enough money to pay the rent and at others enough fortitude to bear being evicted.

However much truth there is in the Church’s teachings about contraception, about abortion, about divorce, the messengers really ought to be people who have looked the devil in the eye and stared him down. You want to tell me contraception is sinful, fine. But when I tell you we’re expecting, don’t tell me children you’ll never have to feed are a blessing. Tell me you’ll establish a day care center in the parish hall that only charges direct costs of insurance and food, and is staffed by at home volunteers. Tell me you’ll arrange a clothing swap every couple of months, so that my little apartment won’t be stacked with boxes of clothes that don’t fit with no money to buy new ones that do. Tell me that you’ve asked some of the nurse practitioners and gynecologists in the parish to hold a free clinic once in a while, so the health insurance I can’t afford matters not quite as much. Tell me you’ve got a list of midwives and Catholic doctors who understand that I am not a theologian and can help me make good, wise, faithful choices about my tubal pregnancy. Tell me, in short, that my Church will not just utter the truth and condemn those who fail to see it, but will make it possible for me to practice the truth. Tell me you’ve been scared too.

Just don’t mouth platitudes and generalizations and tell me children are such a blessing. That’s the one thing you don’t need to tell me, for I know that, I am wired that way, I was born with that in my heart and screaming in my head. The feeling that a glance at my little boy asleep causes overwhelms me sometimes. My knees weaken and my eyes well up and I am consumed by love, immolated by it. What I need you for is not to tell me what is self-evident, but to tell me the truth, and how you are going to help me realize it.
A big Kairos welcome to whoever it was who came here by searching google for "socratic cave baseball." (Strangely enough, I am fourth on the list of 142 results for that search...) If there are leagues forming, would you please let me know?
Tuesday Intentions

If you have someone you would like to add, please email me.

For Dylan's Mom. For priests who have sinned, and priests who have not. For Gerard. For Steven, his wife, and their friend's daugher JB. For Mrs. Kairos Guy's student and the rest of the student's family. For Dean and his wife. For Adam E, who was hurt in a serious fall. For Fr. Jim's cousin Tom. For Mrs. Kairos Guy, who is getting better. For Karl K. For the people of Zimbabwe and the prisoners of the Lao Gai. For those who minister in inner cities, that they may help bring about peace. For Chris and his wife, in training for the law and NFP. For my wife's cousin Sue. For John Paul II. For Alicia, her sister, and her sister's boyfriend. For Bill L.'s mother, father, and daughter, who shares something in common with me. For Eugene D. For those who need strength to bear their crosses. For mothers who choose life, especially those who choose adoption, and for those who did not. For Randy, Deb, Roger, Corey, Michael and the anonymous ones as well.
I chose today's hymn at random, but because it has the same melody as "A mighty fortress is our God" (which has been in my mind all morning) I'm posting it. Plus, I like the word "roseate."

The Roseate Hues of Early Dawn

The roseate hues of early dawn, the brightness of the day,
The crimson of the sunset sky, how fast they fade away!
O for the pearly gates of heav’n! O for the golden floor!
O for the Sun of Righteousness that setteth nevermore!

The highest hopes we cherish here, how fast they tire and faint!
How many a spot defiles the robe that wraps an earthly saint!
O for a heart that never sins! O for a soul washed white!
O for a voice to praise our King, nor weary day or night!

Here faith is ours, and heavenly hopes, and grace to lead us higher;
But there are perfectness and peace beyond our best desire.
O by Thy love and anguish, Lord, O by Thy life laid down,
Grant that we fall not from Thy grace, nor cast away our crown!

Monday, September 30, 2002

Our friend Maureen McHugh is posting a series on the nature of Authority in the Church. Since this is an issue with which I am grappling right now, I commend it to you. She's up to part 7, so scroll down a while to start at the beginning.
Apparently, I have to tone down the rhetoric. Someone arrived here after searching google for "ultraskeptics."
(Everyone should own a copy of this book, by the way. Please not that many of these arguments will not point to a “personal God” who gives a fig for us. That will have to come later, so don’t bother jumping on that complaint-wagon just yet, since I’m not trying to prove it—so far.)

The Argument from Change, from Kreeft and Tacelli, as interpreted by the Kairos Guy

Something that has not yet come to be, does not exist. My $150 million winning PowerBall ticket hasn’t happened yet, so I would be wise not to start spending the money or endowing a charity with it just yet. And because it doesn’t exist, it cannot cause anything. If I start spending the money, that will not bring the ticket into existence. So the purported “cause” of my spending (the ticket) is false, and it is only my delusion that has brought my spending about.

Everything in the universe exists and constantly changes. The state of being of myself as I write this is different as each letter goes down on the electronic page. The state of satisfaction that I expect to achieve when I am done cannot cause me to start (only the desire for that state). As I mentally progress backwards through my own life, and further in time, I cannot find a state of being that could have brought itself about. Someone or something ultimately must have set the thing in motion, for the physical laws of the universe are clear: there cannot be an uncaused cause within the universe.

So, therefore, the existence of a universe of constant change, rather than a flat, static system, is evidence that someone outside the system set the system in motion. Therefore, there must be a God.
Monday Intentions

If you have someone you would like to add, please email me.

For Dylan's Mom. For priests who have sinned, and priests who have not. For Gerard. For Steven, his wife, and their friend's daugher JB. For Mrs. Kairos Guy's student and the rest of the student's family. For Dean and his wife. For Adam E, who was hurt in a serious fall. For Fr. Jim's cousin Tom. For Mrs. Kairos Guy, who is getting better. For Karl K. For the people of Zimbabwe and the prisoners of the Lao Gai. For those who minister in inner cities, that they may help bring about peace. For Chris and his wife, in training for the law and NFP. For my wife's cousin Sue. For John Paul II. For Alicia, her sister, and her sister's boyfriend. For Bill L.'s mother, father, and daughter, who shares something in common with me. For Eugene D. For those who need strength to bear their crosses. For mothers who choose life, especially those who choose adoption, and for those who did not. For Randy, Deb, Roger, Corey, Michael and the anonymous ones as well.
This hymn is very, very long, so I have included only the first few verses. It is by Admiral Nelson's nephew, of all people...

From All Thy Saints in Warfare

From all Thy saints in warfare, for all Thy saints at rest,
To Thee, O blessèd Jesus, all praises be addressed;
Thou, Lord, didst win the battle, that they might conquerors be;
Their crowns of living glory are lit with rays from Thee.

Praise, Lord, for Thine apostle, the first to welcome Thee,
The first to lead his brother the very Christ to see.
With hearts for Thee made ready, watch we throughout the year,
Forward to lead our brethren to own Thine Advent near.

All praise for Thine apostle, whose short lived doubtings prove
Thy perfect twofold nature, the fullness of Thy love.
On all who wait Thy coming shed forth Thy peace, O Lord,
And grant us faith to know Thee, true Man, true God, adored.

Praise for the first of martyrs, who saw Thee ready stand
To aid in midst of torments, to plead at God’s right hand.
Share we with him, if summoned by death our Lord to own,
On earth the faithful witness, in heaven the martyr’s crown.

Praise for the loved disciple, exiled on Patmos’ shore;
Praise for the faithful record he to Thy Godhead bore,
Praise for the mystic vision through him to us revealed.
May we, in patience waiting, with Thine elect be sealed.