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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Descent Into the Maelstrom

Janet Smith has unleashed one of the most disjointed, unscholarly attacks of her career. It is a sad thing to see someone who was once a great defender of the Church fall into the hands of a personality cult.

Smith, who has zero formal education in theology, who has never even done undergraduate work in the discipline, much less gone through the rigorous examination of a graduate degree in theology, believes Dawn Eden's master's thesis is seriously flawed. Keep in mind that by saying this, Smith not only denigrates Eden, she directly denigrates the entire board of theologians who judged Eden's thesis and found it acceptable, and indirectly denigrates the entire teaching institution which gave Eden her degree.

Dr. Janet Smith, classical languages scholar, now informs us that she has become the standard to which graduate theology programs must submit themselves. Truly, Dr. Janet Smith is the very model of fairness, humility and docility.

Smith begins her tirade by stating that she is unhappy a master's thesis is published for public reading. We may recall that she was previously unhappy that a man with an actual doctorate in theology, Dr. David Schindler, the man who actually taught Chris West theology, made public his concerns about West's distortion of Catholic theology. Indeed, Smith has expressed disappointment about any public criticism of her idol.

But that is as far as Smith has ever gone. She has never adequately answered Dr. Schindler's concerns about West, nor has she ever produced the evidence that she claims she had concerning any of West's more outrageous claims. Smith has entirely failed to engage anything Dr. Schindler has said in any substantive way.

Instead, Smith has decided to go after a "soft" target, a freshly-minted MA in theology - someone who has exactly the same credentials Chris West has, with the obvious exception that none of Eden's instructors have publicly condemned Eden's work.

So, Smith - with all of her myriad formal qualifications in theology - decides to fill that lacunae.

As is so often the case with the Westian cult, Smith begins with an ad hominem attack. Instead of engaging in a substantive discussion of issues, Smith takes issue with the non-issue of "tone." Numerous Westian critics have been taken to task for their "tone", including Fr. Geiger, Wade St. Ong, and myself. Every time anyone says anything remotely critical of West, that individual is attacked as vicious, divisive, hateful, jealous, envious and ridden with dandruff.

If the critic has read West's works, he is attacked for not having attended his public lectures. If he has read his works and attended his lectures, he is attacked for not having attended the extremely pricy private audiences West makes available through his institute. If materials from West's Institute are used, the critics are attacked because they aren't quoting directly what Wast says right now. West is apparently impossible to critique because you have to have shadowed him for the last ten years in order to be qualified to critique him.

We know this is true because a woman with zero formal training in theology, a paid employee of Chris West, tells us it is so.

You see, Westians don't need to even study theology in a formal way in order to know that a West critic has to have been by West's side every minute of the past ten years for a critique to be valid.

Smith then goes on to say that West has refined and re-written portions of his work, and Eden hasn't taken that into account. She completely mis-quotes Eden - "Eden responds to those who have called her on her false statement that West refuses to reflect on his presentations. " Actually, Eden has said West refuses to correct his presentations, she has never said he refuses to reflect on his presentations.

And, in fact, Smith's "defense" is incoherent on this point.

Either West substantially re-wrote the portions of his work that Smith refers to or he only did a cosmetic re-write without changing anything substantive.

If it is the latter, then Eden is correct - West refuses to correct his presentations.

If it is the former, then what is Smith upset about? West certainly wouldn't need to substantially re-write something that was already correct - that would be absurd. And if he really did substantially change what he was saying, then all of his critics were correct in the past in their assertion that West distorted Catholic theology and those same critics may well be correct now, again.

Furthermore, to say that he substantially re-wrote sections of his work is not to say that he corrected his work. A man can re-write something and still be in error.

So, for Smith's charge against Eden to work, Smith has to show that the original passage is substantially different from the re-worked passage and that the re-worked passage is correct.

Smith does neither.

Instead, we are just supposed to take her word that West is fine and always has been fine. We know this is true because she has consistently failed to provide any of the evidence she has herself said exists, despite numerous private and public pleas to do so. Indeed, other Westians have replied instead by insisting no evidence is necessary.

Teaching Authority
Smith then takes Eden to task for daring to critique West, given that Eden is not a bishop (i.e., she continues the ad hominem). Now, Eden doesn't have to be a bishop to offer fraternal correction, either publicly or privately.

But, sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. On what grounds does Smith critique Eden, for Smith is no bishop either? What level of hubris does it take to attack Eden for critiquing West, and charge her with an error (if it is an error) that Smith herself makes?

Yet we are meant to take no notice of this - Smith is being generous and helpful, while Eden is being hateful and divisive. Smith doesn't need to be a bishop to critique Eden. Smith does, after all, have all the requisite formal credentials in theology (no.... wait.... strike that), while Eden only has an MA in theology... the same theology degree Chris West has... and a much higher theology degree than Janet Smith has. And, of course, Eden's teachings have not been publicly condemned by her own instructors, as West has.

Now, notice that if Smith were being consistent, this charge of "not being a bishop" could be raised equally against Dr. David Schindler, West's own theology instructor, who (along with other members of the faculty) condemned West's work publicly. Yet Smith has never had the cojones to raise such an objection to Dr. Schindler.

Why not?

Because Dr. Janet Smith, classical languages scholar, would have her teeth handed to her if she tried it. West's own instructors have said he is untrustworthy. Eden merely expands on that thesis.

Besides which, even if one were to admit that only bishops could undertake this kind of criticism, it still wouldn't help Smith's case. Bishops can be wrong. They often are wrong. As anyone with formal training in theology could point out, most of the major heresies of the Church have been started or promoted by bishops, including several patriarchs (Constantinople leaps to mind). So, West may have the approbation of bishops, but this means absolutely nothing from the standpoint of whether or not his work is trustworthy.

Janet knows this, or should know it.

But she deliberately introduces this red herring about authority because.... well, why would a good theologian bring forward such a stupid objection, unless she hoped that the common folk wouldn't notice the error?

Marketing Genius
Smith is upset that Eden charged $10 for her thesis for a period of roughly two weeks.
She is not upset that West has offered substantially flawed theology for thousands of dollars for years on end.

And if it wasn't substantially flawed, why did he re-write it?
And if he didn't re-write it in a substantial way, why does Smith pretend he did?
Ahh... the horns of the dilemma...

Faulty Evidence
She provides no evidence of any faulty evidence.
It's breathtaking, really.

Several ad hominems later, she chastises Eden for pointing out that imprimaturs are not canonizations. Yet this is a point that even those with theology degrees often fail to remember.

Indeed, it seems to me that Smith herself, in this same essay, had just pointed to the bishops' approbation of West's work as a sign of its orthodoxy. Now she denies that it is.

So, which is it, Janet?

Is the bishop's approbation - which you attacked Eden for daring to question - is that a sign of orthodoxy, or is Eden to be attacked for reminding us that such approbation is no necessary sign of anything, even though you yourself seem to have trouble remembering this salient fact?

It's a wonderful argument that can be used to attack the same victim from both directions.

Smith than goes on to say
A bad tone can convey to the reader that the critic has a personal agenda against a particular author; that the critic has produced a polemic rather than a sober scholarly analysis.
Exactly, Janet.

Substantive Analysis
Janet begins her substantive analysis with the classic logical fallacy "poisoning the well." She addresses "only one" problem while implying that there are scads and scads more. Of course, she doesn't provide any evidence for her implication, because she has none (just as she has no evidence from the Magisterium to support West).

Dr. Janet Smith just wants the reader to walk away from her polemic with the impression that there's a lot more wrong in Eden's thesis than Smith can actually identify.
I would have thought Eden would be pleased that West says the Theology of the Body “isn’t just about sex and marriage,” because elsewhere she accuses him of presenting the Theology of the Body as though it were only about sex and marriage. He can’t win!
Here, Smith demonstrates either that she is not competent to read a master's thesis in theology or she intends to deliberately misrepresent Eden's points.

Eden's demonstrates, through West's own words, that West wants to make TOB the lens through which all Catholic teaching is seen. Since West's argument has essentially been that sexual activity is the center of TOB, his approach sexualizes all of Catholic teaching. This results in such errors as turning virtue into vice, turning the Easter candle into a phallic symbol, turning the baldachin into a bedroom, and calling the virginal womb "useless." Eden points out that this is rank stupidity (my words, not hers), and exceedingly dangerous.

Smith seems unable to grasp this point.

Smith then goes on to attribute to John Paul II something West created:
West quotes John Paul II as saying that “Since our creation as male and female is the ‘fundamental fact of human existence’ (Feb. 13, 1980), the theology of the body affords ‘the rediscovery of the meaning of the whole of existence, the meaning of life’ (Oct. 29, 1980).”
Now, a good scholar would be very interested in seeing the context of two quotes slammed together from two audiences given nearly eight months apart. But Smith apparently has no curiosity in this direction.

I do.
Let's look:
1. For a long time now, our Wednesday reflections have been centered on the following enunciation of Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount: "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Mt 5:27-28)....

6. Rereading it, this appeal contained in Christ's words in the Sermon on the Mount cannot be an act detached from the context of concrete existence. It always means—though only in the dimension of the act to which it referred—the rediscovery of the meaning of the whole of existence, the meaning of life, which also contains that meaning of the body which here we call "nuptial." (October 29, 1980)
So, John Paul II was not, in fact, referring to the whole of TOB, but only to a specific statement made in the Sermon on the Mount. Worse, JP II specifically restricts its meaning to "only the dimension of the act to which it referred."

When we look at the February audience, the same problem arises:
In the mystery of creation, man and woman were "given" in a special way to each other by the Creator. That was not only in the dimension of that first human couple and of that first communion of persons, but in the whole perspective of the existence of the human family. The fundamental fact of human existence at every stage of its history is that God "created them male and female."
John Paul II ensconced this "fundamental fact of human existence" within the context of "the whole perspective of the existence of the human family." This changes the whole meaning, especially given the fact that the TOB audiences say essentially nothing about the human family.

So, upon examining JP II's actual words and their contexts, Eden's critique is demonstrated to be accurate. West did, indeed, distort JP II by quoting him out of context, eliding the comments, slamming disparate comments together as if they were one comment and Smith bought it!

The degree to which Smith has drunk the koolaid is evident in her next set of remarks, in which she attempts to get John Paul II to say that everything is connected to human marriage.
In light of Ephesians 5, he even says that the ultimate truth about the “great mystery” of marriage “is in a certain sense the central theme of the whole of revelation, its central reality” (General Audience 9/8/82). This is to say that everything God wants to tell us on earth about who he is, the meaning of life, the reason he created us, how we are to live, as well as our ultimate destiny, is contained somehow in the meaning of the human body and the call of male and female to become “one body” in marriage.
Of course, to make her thesis work, she has to avoid the Pope's "weasel words" - "in a certain sense."

As Dr. Schindler has already pointed out - and NO ONE has refuted - our salvation is related primarily to our filiation, our adoption as sons and daughters of God. Nuptiality, the marriage relationship, is important, but it is necessarily secondary to the primary sonship relationship. We are logically speaking, sons and daughters before we are spouse, or, to put it another way, we are spouse because we are first son/daughter.

The reason is obvious.
You can't marry a gerbil.
You can't get engaged to your horse.
In order to become spouse, you must first share the same nature as your beloved.
God gives us His own nature through baptism, in which we are deified, divinized, allowed to participate in God's own nature.

Once we share in His nature, then He can marry us, but not before.
Now, in the space-time continuum we inhabit, both of these things happen simultaneously in baptism.
But in terms of logical sequence, filiation must precede nuptiality.
So, nuptiality must be secondary.

John Paul II knows this, as West and Smith do not, so he knew he had to add the "weasel words", "in a certain sense", in order to avoid being a heretic.
2. So then this analogy which permeates the text of the Letter to the Ephesians (5:21-33) has its ultimate basis in God's salvific plan. This will become still more clear and evident when we place the passage of this text analyzed by us in the overall context of the Letter to the Ephesians. Then one will more easily understand why the author, after citing the words of Genesis 2:24, writes: "This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church" (Eph 5:32).
The mystery which is the ultimate basis of God's salvific plan is the union of Christ and His Church, not of man and woman. This is important because the union of Christ and His Church, like the union of Joseph and Mary, is an asexual union, a continent union, a celibate union, and all the more fecund precisely because of its celibacy.

Sex is a means by which the three goods of marriage may be achieved (procreation, union, remedy for concupiscence), but it is not necessary to attain any of those goods, as both Joseph and Mary, and Christ and His Church demonstrate. In both of those marriages, all three goods are attained without sex.

If, as West/Smith aver, "sex plunges us headfirst into the Christian mystery" then Mary and Joseph are sadly un-introduced to this mystery, and so is Jesus and His Church. No one argues that sex is anything other than holy - what we would like to point out is that sex is not central to the Christian mystery, and, insofar as it "plunges us" into the Christian mystery, it does so not because of itself, but because of its consequences, the procreation of immortal persons and the creation of family, the ability it has to help accomplish the three goods of marriage. But it is never required to establish those three goods, and, indeed, Thomas points out that the remedy for concupiscence is better achieved through other means (namely mortification and prayer).

Smith then swallows whole the idea that the Church is (a) maturing in Her understanding about sex and (b) we know this because West is an obviously well-qualified judge of exactly how mature the Church is.

Because he's so brilliant, he can stand in judgement of the Church and applaud how well She is coming along in matching his understanding of sex. She has a long way to go of course - I've personally heard West describe the Church as a teenager in her level of sexual understanding - but with West's help, She will undoubtedly get there.

Smith finds it remarkable that Eden apparently mocks West's position.
Why, Dr. Smith, why would anyone mock such an open, loving, generous person as Chris West?

Now, West says elsewhere that what the Church is teaching is nothing new.

But if that is true, then why does Weigel call this a "timebomb" that will require a rethinking of all the tenets of the Creed?

If this isn't new, why does Smith apparently agree with West and Weigel that this will, indeed, require a re-thinking of all the tenets of the Creed?

Either it's new, and requires such a rethinking, or it isn't new, and doesn't require a rethinking.

You can't say that it's really, really ancient teaching, thus it forces us to rethink the way the Creed has always been understood.

But, this is precisely and essentially what West, Smith and Weigel say.
Eden finds their position problematic, essentially incoherent.

Latin is Repressive
Smith goes on to essentially say that she finds Latin, the official language of the Church and of the Mass (both Ordinary and Extraordinary Form), the "suggestion" of repression.

That's a remarkable stance for a seminary instructor to take, especially one whose only degrees are in classical languages (she might want to point this out to Google, which recently added Latin to its translation tool set).

So, Dr. Smith asks, what evidence do we have that West's teachings cause people to resent "yesterday's" Church?

Well, how about the evidence of a seminary that refuses to teach the Extraordinary Form to its seminarians, the kind of inadequate seminary that Dr. Janet Smith's Sacred Heart Seminary currently offers?

What about seminary instructors who find Latin suggestive of repression, even though Vatican II required all seminarians to be well-versed in Latin?

What about using the phrase "yesterday's Church" to describe the current, official and ancient language of the Church?

Isn't the very idea that (a) human sexuality lies at the heart of human existence AND (b) the Church is only now deepening her understanding of human sexuality - both Westian themes - a possible cause of resentment, even mistrust of the Church and her teachings?

But Dr. Smith is unable to grasp the connection.

What can we say?
Dr. Janet Smith presents an immature, non-theological, virtually incoherent defense of Chris West. Her essay is almost entirely ad hominem, infrequently buttressed by very few and grossly misunderstood passages from John Paul II's general audiences. It would get, perhaps, a barely passing grade in a sophomore theology class.

This is the depths to which Westianism has brought Dr. Janet Smith.
Who will follow her into this maelstrom?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tom Lehrer's TOB

All books can be indecent books
Though recent books are bolder

For filth, I'm glad to say, is in
The mind of the beholder.

When correctly viewed
Everything is lewd...

Tom Lehrer's famous song has been incorporated into the Theology of the Body lock, stock and barrel.

Theology of the Body "experts" have already turned virtue into vice, turned the Easter candle into a phallic symbol, and called the virginal womb "useless."

Even secular commentators have called this kind of talk balderdash.

Now we are told the baldachin over the altar is reminiscent of the canopy over the marriage bed - and not just by Chris West, but by Jason Evert, of Catholic Answers and Bishop William K. Weigand of Sacramento!

Unfortunately, for everyone involved, the idea is, like its brethren, complete balderdash.

Here is what the Encyclopedia Britannica tells us:

  • dress (in dress (body covering): The Middle East from the 6th century)

    ...cotton, and wool are the norm, but the well-to-do have always worn garments made from rich fabrics with a silk base. Several of the most famous of these materials originated in this area, including baldachin, the richly decorated fabric with a warp of gold thread and a weft of silk, named after the city of Baghdad, and damask, named after Damascus (in Syria), the source of this richly patterned...

  • The Middle East from the 6th century

    The style of costume worn throughout the Middle East has been remarkably constant for centuries. This is partly because it has evolved as one suited to the climate, serving as a protection against heat, dust, and blazing sunshine. The wearing of traditional clothing has also been accepted and supported by many Muslim countries.

    The traditional garments of the Middle East are loose-fitting and cover or even envelop much of the body. The names of these garments vary from country to country, but the similarity between them is clear. Likewise the materials from which they were, and still are, made vary according to what is available. In general, linen, cotton, and wool are the norm, but the well-to-do have always worn garments made from rich fabrics with a silk base. Several of the most famous of these materials originated in this area, including baldachin, the richly decorated fabric with a warp of gold thread and a weft of silk, named after the city of Baghdad, and damask, named after Damascus (in Syria), the source of this richly patterned silk fabric.

    So, the baldachin originally references a style of cloth worn by people as they went about their daily business. No marriage bed, no sex. Nothing of that sort.

    baldachin, also spelled baldachino, or baldaquin, also called ciborium, in architecture, the canopy over an altar or tomb, supported on columns, especially when freestanding and disconnected from any enclosing wall. The term originates from the Spanish baldaquin, an elaborately brocaded material imported from Baghdad that was hung as a canopy over an altar or doorway. Later it came to stand for a freestanding canopy over an altar.

    Early examples of the baldachin are found in Ravenna and Rome. The characteristic form consists of four columns supporting entablatures, which carry miniature colonnades topped by a pyramidal or gabled roof. In Romanesque work, arches generally replaced the entablatures, and gables frequently topped the four sides, as is the case in the Church of San Ambrogio in Milan. Few baldachins of the Gothic period remain, and their use outside Italy seems to have been intermittent; there is, however, a rich Gothic example in the Sainte-Chapelle at Paris (1247-50), reconstructed by Eugene-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th century. In the Renaissance the use of the baldachin became more common, and during the 17th century elaborate structures were built, probably as a result of the influence of the enormous bronze baldachin that Gian Lorenzo Bernini designed for the altar of St. Peter's in Rome.

    Ahhh... but here we find... it still isn't associated with sex or procreation. It's a cloth that hangs over a door or an altar. It isn't widely used outside Italy, only becomes common in the Renaissance. STILL nothing about sex or procreation. Well, how about...

    canopy, in architecture, a projecting hood or cover suspended over an altar, statue, or niche. It originally symbolized a divine and royal presence and was probably derived from the cosmic audience tent of the Achaemenian kings of Persia. In the Middle Ages it became a symbol of the divine presence in churches. During the 14th and 15th centuries, tombs, statues, and niches were overhung with richly decorated tabernacle work in stone, and these were reflected in delicate spiral wooden canopies over fonts. (Encyclopedia Brittannica)

    Wow, this just isn't getting any better, is it? The canopy or baldachin could go over a niche or a statue as easily as an altar, and it is derived from the royal audience tents of the kings of Persia - not a word about sex or procreation here either.

    With the Renaissance, the canopy placed over the altar developed into the baldachin, a fixed structure supported on pillars that reached its most highly evolved form in the 17th century with Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s great Baroque baldachin over the high altar of St. Peter’s in Rome. Between the mid-16th and 18th centuries canopies were in use for various purposes throughout Europe. Over pulpits in the Protestant countries of western Europe a flat wooden canopy called a sounding board was placed, and great canopies of classical inspiration were erected over important sepulchral monuments. The traditional Jewish wedding ceremony takes place beneath a type of canopy known as a ḥuppa.

    This is downright embarrassing. Not only is it NOT associated with sex or procreation, it is associated with "sepulchral monuments." Necrophilia, anyone?

    Well, then consider the fact that Protestants used it over their pulpits.
    Westians may want to stop here - the reality gets kind of harsh.

    During this period, when Luther's words still rang in everyone's ears, it was well-known amongst Protestants that marriage was NOT a sacrament, NOT a means to grace, it was just a way to legalize the slaking of our lusts. Sex within marriage was still lust, in Luther's eyes, but lust rendered perfectly legal by divine ordinance.

    In short, the last thing a Protestant would associate with the proclamation of the Gospels was anything having to do with sex. Yet they put baldachins over their pulpits!


    Because, throughout history, the baldachin has always signified the presence of royalty.
    The canopy, ciborium and baldachin were used at coronations and in funeral processions to indicate the presence of royalty beneath the cloth.

    But wait, Kellmeyer!
    Wasn't it called a chuppah when it was used in a Jewish wedding ceremony?

    Why, yes!
    Yes, it was!

    (big sigh....) Sadly, that has no sexual connotation either.

    You see, to begin with, the presence of the chuppa is not necessary for the validity of a Jewish marriage. Given that fact, if it represented the marriage bed, its' absence would mean, symbolically, that consummation is not necessary to a Jewish marriage. Whoops.

    What is worse (for the Westians), the chuppah is NOT an ancient tradition - it didn't exist at at the time of Christ, nor did it begin to be used until a thousand years after He rose from the dead.

    Four young men would hold the poles as they escorted the bride, who walked under the huppah, from her home to the synagogue.

    So, if it represents sexual union, someone is going to have to explain how that whole "four young men" bit works out in the typology. Good luck with that.

    And, of course, it gets worse still. You see, in order to be a true chuppah, it has to have open sky directly above it.

    Why open sky? Because the canopy doesn't represent a wedding bed canopy, it represents Abraham's tent in the desert. Abraham was famous for his hospitality. Thus, it reminds the couple of the hospitality the newlyweds now have a duty to show to all who come to their domicile (the chuppah represents their house).

    You see, the newly married couple is supposed to show Abraham's generosity to all, they are supposed to treat all of their guests like royalty...
    Protective devices and markers of sacredness

    Other objects, such as fans, flyswatters, parasols, and standards〞analogous to the symbols of royalty〞often complete the permanent furnishings of sacred places. In addition to their utilitarian role, they are endowed with a sacred character; fans used in Brahmanic and Buddhist cults may be compared to the flabella (※fans§) in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches. They are waved before the iconostasis during the Eucharist in the divine liturgy of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and they also are placed on either side of the papal chair in solemn processions. The parasol, or umbrella, is generally a symbol of the vault of heaven, as in India and China; the domes of stupas are often surmounted by parasols (chattras). In its symbolic and protective role the umbrella can be compared to the baldachin (canopy) in many of its forms. Whether it covers the altar, the statue or symbol of a deity, or even the imperial throne〞as in Zoroastrian Iran during the Sassanian period (3rd-7th centuries) and Orthodox Byzantium (during the 4th-15th centuries)〞the baldachin's celestial symbolic ornamentation is generally explicit, and its cosmic character is apparent. The standard (dhvaja), in the Brahmanic cults, takes on the appearance of a high column (dhvaja-stambha) erected in front of temples; it is surmounted by a divine effigy, most often that of the sacred steed, or vijrhana, of the god. Simultaneously a signal (because of its height) and a protective device, it first receives the homage of pilgrims. The poles adorned with flags erected before the pylons of the temples of ancient Egypt may also have had such a double character.

    But isn't the marriage bed canopy related to the baldachin?
    Oh, most assuredly it is.
    But neither the baldachin nor the canopy over the bed ever represented sex or procreation.

    You see, in the 16th and 17th centuries, the royal palaces of the various European kings and queens became increasingly public places as more and more people found reason to come in and petition for various favors. As the rooms were opened to the public, the royals found fewer and fewer private places for themselves in the building.

    Near the end, the only private room available was their bedrooms.
    So, they would receive only the most special and favored guests into their "personal space", their bedrooms. In order to show how important and favored the guests were, the royals had baldachins established above the beds. The baldachins were a reminder to everyone who walked in that, even if the person on the bed was reclining, they were all still in the presence of royalty. That's why Marie Antoinette fled from the mob and her bedroom in a fruitless attempt to avoid capture - the room immediately outside her bedroom was where she formally received public visitors, the splendidly ornate bedroom itself was where she received private visitors.

    By the end of the 1700's, with royalty falling out of favor, the commoners started picking up this habit of a royal canopy over the bed, and began creating the same "royal" effect in their own bedrooms, by which time the royalty dropped the whole custom because it had become "common."

    So, no matter where you look or how it was derived, the baldachin, ciborium, canopy, chuppah always represented exactly one thing - the presence of royalty.

    It never had a sexual connotation.

    Well, it never had one until Chris West and company started doing their best Dan Brown imitation and began giving it the symbolic meaning it so long lacked.

    Now, Chris West claims that people who call his work "Theology of the Bawdy" are Manichean heretics because the phrasing isn't sufficiently sexually explicit.

    But what does West call someone who constantly sees sex where it has never been?
    Mr. Lehrer... call your office.

    Monday, September 27, 2010

    What is Social Justice?

    “Whilst the pagan priests neglect the poor, the hated Galileans devote themselves to works of charity, and by a display of false compassion have established and given effect to their pernicious errors. See their love-feasts, and their tables spread for the indigent. Such practice is common among them, and causes a contempt for our gods.”
    The Roman Emperor Julian hated and feared Catholics. Though raised Catholic, from his earliest days, he had been a political hostage, held captive by Catholic emperors. These men murdered his father and executed his half-brother. Catholics pretended to love people, but he knew the truth. His father’s spilled blood witnessed to it.

    So, when he became emperor in 361 AD, Julian rejected Christianity and turned to paganism. He worked to destroy the Church. To this end, he directed his government to care for the poor, so the crowds would swear allegiance to him and the pagan gods. He would use the Christians’ tricks against them.

    The Earth Cries Out For Justice
    People deserve just treatment. Thus, Christians have always counted justice among the four cardinal, or hinge, virtues: “[Wisdom] teaches moderation and prudence, justice and fortitude; nothing in life is more useful for men than these.” (Wisdom 8:7).

    Christianity is simply this: fully recognizing and correctly responding to reality. Reality - that is, Christianity - forced his paganism to do what paganism had never done before. To conquer the Christians, Julian had to imitate them. He had to at least pretend to care about the poor.

    Ever since Julian, those who have wanted to destroy Christianity have been first forced to imitate it. Unfortunately for the imitators, this is not as easy as it looks. From Emperor Julian’s loaves of bread to Adolf Hitler’s soup kitchens, from Vladimir Lenin’s war on on the kulaks to Saul Alinsky’s war on the corporations, everyone who has tried to provide a non-Christian charity has failed. The reason is simple. Even at its best, the most a Christian imitator can provide is social justice. And justice is not enough.

    What We Need
    Justice is the virtue by which we recognize the rights of our fellow man and give him his due. But, as Pope Benedict pointed out in his 2006 encyclical God is Love, while justice is the defining concern of the state and the central concern of politics, it is not the central concern of Christians. The Church has a higher standard:
    “Charity goes beyond justice, because to love is to give, to offer what is “mine” to the other; but it never lacks justice, which prompts us to give the other what is “his”, what is due to him by reason of his being or his acting... Charity always manifests God’s love in human relationships... it gives theological and salvific value to all commitment for justice in the world.” (Deus Caritas Est #6).
    Since its conception in Mary’s womb, Christianity has recognized that persons need relationships. Indeed, The Church invented the word “person” precisely to describe the relations between the three Persons of the Trinity. Humans and angels are persons because our wills and intellects are oriented towards relationships both with one another and with the original Three Persons in Whose image and likeness we are made. It is precisely because our society is meant to mirror the society of Persons within the Godhead that Christianity has always emphasized the importance of the works of mercy.

    Be Ye Merciful
    In Matthew 25, Jesus tells us these works will bring us to heaven. We must visit the sick and those in prison, give food, and drink to the hungry, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, and bury the dead, as Tobit did. In this lies salvation.

    But Christianity has also always recognized even greater works of mercy: teaching the ignorant about Christ, counseling the needy, chastising sinners, comforting the sorrowful, forgiving enemies, suffering wrongs patiently and praying fervently for all.

    As the Fathers and Doctors of the Church point out, the neediest among us are not those who simply suffer from physical poverty. The poorest of the poor are those who do not know the Gospel, those who do not understand how much God loves them, those who do not model His love. Hunger, thirst, nakedness: these are all hard to bear, but these burdens are as nothing compared to spiritual poverty. The heaviest emptiness a man can bear is being ignorant of being loved by the One Who Is Love, the God for Whom we are made.

    God gives us all good things, and the Fathers and Doctors of the Church constantly pointed this out. Because all things belong to God, we are merely stewards of the goods things God gives us. Thus, saints like John Chrysostom knew that keeping more than we need is actually a kind of theft. If I have six pairs of shoes, but need only two, then the other four pair in my closet are stolen from the poor.
    God gives us things for a reason. He gives us things so that we can live in His image. When we give of our wealth to the poor, we do for others what God has done for us. We learn how to love others by freely giving our own things to them

    We Need the Practice
    But if someone takes my things, even if he gives them to the poor, he has stolen from me my ability to image God. He has taken away the material I need to practice the presence of God. In a very real sense, in order to be Christian, I must be able to own property, property that cannot be seized by anyone else. If I can’t own my own things, I can’t give them away. If I can’t give anything away, I can’t image God. God took on His own human body precisely so He could give it away to us. Similarly, I need to really have things in order to truly practice charity. As I practice this physical charity, I become aware of the need for spiritual charity, the need to tell others what God gave to all of us: eternal life via Himself

    This is why the Church has taught charity for two millennia, but only began to teach “social justice” since the Industrial Revolution. When farmers were thrown off their land in order to force them onto factory floors, they lost their property. The Church’s insistence on labor’s right to organize is precisely an insistence that every man must have access to his own things, if only so he can learn how to give his own things away of his own free will. For, unless he learn to give, how can a man learn to love?

    Indeed, as Pope Benedict points out in his apostolic exhortation, Sacrament of Love (Sacramentum Caritatis), only the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, truly empower us to love. In every sacrament God models for us how we are to give ourselves away to others. Through every sacrament, He empowers us with the divinizing grace which enables us to actually follow His example.
    The government cannot do this. Community organizers cannot do this. It is only via the sacraments that we receive all that we need to live as Christ lives.

    The Real Terrorists
    In 2010, 7300 Muslim doctors in Morocco declared “Christian charity ought to be considered religious terrorism.” Note carefully their concern. Non-Christians are not frightened by Catholic social justice. Indeed, Lenin, an atheist, and Alinsky, his student, encouraged Christians to participate in their social justice programs. Both intended to use these programs to convert Christians to atheism, in much the same way Julian meant to convert Christians to paganism.

    They knew what many Christians have not yet realized: if we can be tricked into focusing on the limited power of human social justice, we will never discover the infinite power of the sacraments, the divine power of Christian charity, wherein each man personally gives of his own to the stranger at his door. It is this divine love that terrifies the world, and makes the demons tremble.

    Wednesday, September 22, 2010

    Get College Credit!

    Are you continually laughed at when your friends talk about theology?
    Do Thomists kick sand in your face at the beach?
    Are you intimidated by Chippendale strippers?

    We have a solution to your "little problem"!

    If you've always wanted to study Catholic theology, but didn't want to get too deeply influenced by the "religious right", then come and study at Chris West's Theology of the Body Institute and earn college credit at Creighton University at the same time!

    As everyone knows, Creighton University is a world-class Catholic theological institution!

    Indeed, it is currently the home of the first Catholic theologians since Father Richard McBrien to have their book formally condemned by the USCCB!

    But these Creighton U. theology professors didn't just get any work condemned!

    They went out of their way to show off their credentials in sexual ethics!

    Yep, using the same personalistic philosophy espoused by Chris West, Drs. TODD A. SALZMAN and MICHAEL G. LAWLER, not only reached the same conclusions Chris did about the moral rectitude of anal sex foreplay, they took West's arguments to their logical conclusions! They "[blew] the lid off the common idea of what Christianity teaches, and demonstrate that Christianity isn't an invitation to starve [at the table of love]!"
    "For the authors of The Sexual Person, a sexual act of virtually any physical description, whether it be vaginal sex, oral sex, anal sex, or masturbation, can be justified if this act has a suitable meaning in the minds of those involved. For them, the only relevant question is whether "a particular sexual act facilitates or frustrates the partner's human flourishing, their becoming more affectively and interpersonally human" (68, see 156)."
    Or, as has been "explained" elsewhere:
    "In other words, in order to determine what is good, we only need to ask a simple question: Does this sexual attitude, thought or action truly image God's free, total, faithful, fruitful love?"
    Yes, you heard that right!

    Now YOU can get college credit from the same institute whose theologians have had their work on sexual ethics condemned by one of the most liberal bishops' conferences in the world, the Democrat Party at prayer, the USCCB!

    Yes, if you act now, you not only get Chris West's peculiarly personal version of personalist theology, you also get college credits accredited from Creighton University, the same university whose theological faculty just got a smack-down from all the bishops of the United States!

    This amazing offer won't last long so act as soon as you can!

    Remember, for the low, low low, early-bird price of $1045, our heavily discredited set of highly suspect Catholic theologians can put you well on your way to earning a degree in Catholic theology!

    Now, sure for the extra $350 you spend on college credit over and above the cool GRAND you just dropped on the TOB Institute, you will find that “there will inevitably be some who are offended” by Creighton's non-traditional presentation of Catholic teaching on sexuality. "But you'd probably be surprised as to who they are, [they're] usually from the religious right."

    Don't let the "religious right" kick sand in your face any longer!

    If you join now, you'll not only learn how to turn Thomistic theology on its head, you'll be taught how to do it by internationally recognized experts in the field!
    These people are WORLD-CLASS!
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    But don't swoon yet!
    That's not all.

    If you act now, the first fifty callers will also get a FREE set of Sham-Wows.

    And yes, you'll need those Sham-Wows because you'll be wiping down your own personal set of... Ginsu Knives!

    Yes this AMAZING deal comes at NO EXTRA COST and includes FREE SHIPPING!

    That's right - when you come to the TOB Institute, we'll pack your suitcases full of
    All of this - Theology of the Body, Creighton University, formally condemned theological works, Chris West, Todd Salzman, Michael Lawler, Ginsu Knives, Sham-Wows... what more could we ask for?

    Well, since you insist, we added ONE MORE VALUABLE ITEM!

    In the spirit of true college fraternities (and sororities) we'll have a rock concert afterwards!
    With Chris doing his best imitation of Hefner doing karaoke!
    Throw your panties on the stage for Chris!
    He eats this stuff up!

    We take credit cards and money orders, and cold, hard cash.*

    *Partial refunds available for right-wing Puritanical Manichean prudes who are insecure in their own sexuality. If you are unsure if you qualify for a refund, just ask Chris - he'll instantly read your soul and infallibly assess your state of spiritual maturity. Refunds consist of sufficient bus fare to return you to whatever spiritual hell-hole produced a divisive rat like you. All refunds given in a spirit of loving Christian charity.

    Friday, September 17, 2010

    Honor Killing in Islam

    One of the more disturbing aspects of Islam is its willingness to allow parents to kill their own children if the child's actions are perceived to be against Islam:

    Dr. Alan Godlas, Associate Professor of Religion at the University of Georgia, calls it a “carefully translated manual of the proper practice of Islam (shari’a) according to the Shafi’i madh’hab. It has been an essential book in the library of any serious English speaking Muslim or scholar of Islam since its publication in 1991.”

    Here's the certification in Arabic

    In Book O, titled “Justice,” in section 1, “Who is Subject to Retaliation for Injurious Crimes,” section o1.1 reads, “Retaliation is obligatory … against anyone who kills a human being purely intentionally and without right…”:

    However, o1.2 clarifies (above) that “The following are not subject to retaliation” and then lists after the lovely, egalitarian “Muslim for killing a non-Muslim” and “Jewish or Christian subject … for killing an apostate” “(4) a father or mother (or their fathers or mothers) for killing their offspring, or offspring’s offspring”:

    Islamic/Sharia Law imposes no punishment on:

    o1.2 “Muslim for killing a non-Muslim”

    It fits with Quran 4:89 “slay them (apostate) wherever ye find them”, 9:5 slay the Pagans (kuffar [sing.] kafir, infidels, unbelievers) wherever ye find them, 2:191 “slay them (unbelievers) wherever ye catch them”, 8:12 “… Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks” & 47:4 “smite at their necks” (beheading with a knife) …

    “(3) A Jewish or Christian subject the Islamic state for killing an apostate of Islam (because a subject of the state is under its protection (dhimmis) while killing an apostate from Islam is without consequenses)”

    Fits also with Quran 9:29 & hadith Sahih (“reliable”) Muslim Book 19, Number 4294 – jizyah, a protection tax, “… this is how the mafia operates” Page 166 “Understanding Muhammad”)

    “(4) Father or Mother (or their fathers or mothers) for killing their offspring, or offspring’s offspring”

    “(5) …[a child cannot retaliate] when his father kills his mother.”

    Monday, September 13, 2010

    When Attitude Meets Verisimilitude

    On August 29, I publicly challenged Janet Smith specifically, and Westians in general, to put up or shut up.

    Dr. Janet Smith and Dr. Michael Waldstein led Westians everywhere in the public attack on Dr. Schindler of the JP II Institute for daring to question Chris West publicly. These two so-called "scholars" said West had ample evidence in the Fathers and Doctors of the Church to call the Paschal candle a phallic symbol and to sexualize the liturgy.

    On August 29, 2010, I called their bluff.
    Produce the quotes or quit pretending to be scholars.
    I gave them until September 11, 2010, roughly the day of Chris' "coming out" of sabbatical (No pun intended. Really).

    This was the best any of the Westians could produce:
    "Acknowledging the Paschal candle’s phallic imagery does not require a quote from a particular Father of the Church."

    Cough. Chortle. Snort.

    We now can see why Dr. Smith and Dr. Waldstein wanted this argument taken to the journals.

    After all, Dr. Schindler already took Westian TOB apart, and made Waldstein look like a fool to boot, in a journal article published well before the ABC Nightline interview ever aired. But, since none of the ticket buyers ever read journal articles (or if they did, they didn't understand how thoroughly Westian theology had been debunked), Schindler had already demonstrated that a discussion in the journals would never hurt the income stream these two got from piggy-backing on West.

    So, if they took the discussion of the phallic symbol to the journals, they could admit there that they were flat-busted, didn't have a shred of evidence, etc., and it wouldn't hurt anyone's income because no one would ever know they had admitted it.

    They'd look like fools to their peers, of course, but that's easily remedied in journals. Journals are always so nice and refined that there's no sting. You simply don't publish a reply, without explaining WHY you aren't publishing a reply, and you can still hold your head up at the theologian's tea, you see. When asked about it, use big words, joust at side issues, and watch your listener nod sagely. Everyone's gaudy image remains intact.

    But, being called out in public, that's a different story.
    That can be kind of.... well, humiliating.
    People actually see you are bankrupt.
    Can't have that.

    No, our two Westian professors got NOTHIN' and they are too proud to admit West suckered them.
    So, they'd rather lie like rugs, pull the rags of their pride about them and pretend they are rich, lest they lose face.

    Heck, Fr. Loya (see how restrained I am?) even doubled down (I doubt Fr. Z would approve):
    "Don’t stop with the Paschal candle. Every aspect of the Church’s theology and its expression in liturgy plays out of the spousal ('sexual') mystery."
    And, to add insult to injury, the good priest seems to have entirely fabricated a quote he now pretends is from John Paul II (you want us to believe the late great Pope used the phrase "conjugal relations"??? Please.).

    Even Michael Waldstein, our famous non-Polish speaking translator of JP II's Polish TOB addresses, didn't try to slip that phrase under the Pope's TOB rug (now, since I don't wear a rug, you certainly can't read a double meaning into that turn of phrase).

    Oh, and how about this one (I simply love this one):

    The womb is a vacant space, with an opening to its emptiness. The theology, the “language” of the womb, says that it is ordered to being filled with life, to being inseminated. To see the womb-like character of the baptismal font but not a complementary phallic element in the Church’s liturgical action is to see the womb (font) in a disintegrated, contraceptive, sterile, and useless way. This is not a Catholic (sacramental-mystical) view.
    Wow, a womb without a phallic element.
    That's just CRAZY talk, I tell ya'!
    It would be, like, disintegrated, contraceptive, sterile and useless!
    'Course us old prudes used to call a womb without a phallic element VIRGINAL, but what the heck do we know? Everything has changed since Vatican II! The Church used to teach all kinds of crazy stuff, but thanks to Westians, we know better now!

    So, thank you, Blessed Virgin Mary, but according to Father Loya, it turns out we don't need you after all, you contraceptive, sterile, useless woman you! Turns out you don't make any sense without a phallic symbol, Mary! And that whole "virginal font" stuff? That went out with Augustine. Aquinas. Vatican II.

    You know, St. Louis de Montfort once gave a talk in a public square on the Blessed Virgin while three men made cat-calls and derisive comments about her from the corner cafe. And after de Montfort finished his talk, he walked over to the corner cafe, and beat the livin' snot out of the three gentlemen.

    I don't know why I mention that just now.
    I just go off on bunny trails sometimes.
    Anyway, to get back on topic....

    It would be absolutely rude for anyone to point out that Fr. Loya, the author of the piece, could arguably be referred to as Fr. Liar, or that Janet Smith has now descended to being the Lady Gaga of Catholic theology, to complement Chris West's slavish imitation of Dr. Ruth Westheimer and Michael Waldstein's "little monster" riff.

    As I am never rude, I refuse to make make any of those comparisons.
    I would certainly not encourage any of you to do so either.
    Unless you were like, well, really pure and stuff.
    And wanted to, of course.
    In which case, I'm sure there is precedent in the Doctors and Fathers of the Church.

    Yep, you gotta love The Big Lie.

    Repeat a falsehood often enough, and your opponents will be swamped trying to refute something that doesn't even exist.

    So, the Westians are going to pretend they have already supplied all the evidence they always said they had, but never actually produced, and now admit they don't actually have because... wait for it... it isn't necessary!

    With West, it always come down to a very simple question:
    Who do you believe?
    Chris West?
    Or your lyin' eyes?
    For men and women who insist that you stare at nudity, it's amazing how little they want you to trust your eyes, isn't it?

    Thursday, September 09, 2010

    Dominating Muslims

    You know, it occurs to me that we are doing this all backwards.

    We should set up a factory with armed guards, a printshop that does nothing but produce authentic versions of the Koran. Then put in a conveyor belt to a furnace.

    We stop printing and burning Korans when they stop inflicting terror on the rest of the world.

    Simple, eh?

    Well, the pastor of Dove Center took my advice.
    He's leveraged the threat to burn a Quran into a promise to move the 9/11 Mosque.
    It's the only thing that works.

    I wonder what this Baptist preacher in Nebraska will be able to get done?
    Now he's threatening to burn a Quran...

    UPDATE 2:
    Oh, HERE'S a shocker.
    The Muslim may have lied to Pastor Jones about moving the mosque.
    So now the pastor is thinking about barbecue again.
    Sir, in the spirit of ecumenism, I'll spot you the matches.

    UPDATE 3:
    More groups piling on the bandwagon in favor.

    Everyone is putting out essays against burning the Koran.

    I'm publicly asking someone to explain this to me because I truly don't get it.

    When the Council of Nicaea burned Arius' works, was that council acting sinfully? After all, the rejection of Arianism created a centuries-long set of difficulties for the Church, including frequent armed violence. Heck, St. Nicholas punched Arius on the floor of the council and, after the council threw St. Nicholas into jail, God and the Blessed Virgin REWARDED him for having violently defended the Faith.

    When the Council of Constance not only burned the works of Jan Hus, but also burned Hus, was that Council acting sinfully? This act started the Hussite Wars, which not only raged for a decade but also introduced gunpowder into warfare in Europe.

    Granted, the man burning the Koran today is a cult leader. But, given the history of the Catholic Church, exactly what is wrong with burning the Koran?

    Can't be threat of violence - every council that burned heretical works had to deal with that.

    Can't be the sacredness of the text to others - Arius' works were considered holy and righteous by his followers.

    Can't be the sacredness intrinsic to the text - there isn't any.

    So, instead of just assuming that burning the Koran is wrong, could someone please explain what the difficulty is?

    I've heard people say that his motives are evil. OK. I wouldn't know, since I don't live in the man's head, and I only have news accounts to go by. But what I've heard doesn't indicate that his motives are evil. He simply doesn't want to be Muslim, nor does he want America to be Muslim. Color me evil, but I kind of agree with him on those points.

    So, I've yet to see an explanation that wouldn't also condemn about half the ecumenical councils of the Church, along with the entire 600-year history of the Holy Office.


    Wednesday, September 08, 2010

    50 Best Blogs

    Wow - one of my posts "Abnormality, Thy Name is Homeschool" has put me on the 50 Best Blogs For Homeschooling Dads List.

    Who'd a thunk?


    There's a good analysis of TOB here.
    Well worth reading.


    Do you know a friend, a co-worker, a relative, perhaps even a close family member who is a Muslim? Are you worried about how best to take care of him, and keep him from hurting himself or others?

    Don't worry! Our new organization, Al-A-Muslim, is designed to help you deepen your co-dependent relationship! We'll teach you how to identify the qiblah, the direction of prayer, how to live out the Five Pillars of Islam, and tricks on keeping the Quran nearby in case your Muslim loved one suddenly needs to dip into it to justify beating you down!

    But how can you ward off these sudden fits of righteous rage?
    It's Simple!
    Just Remember the Twelve Rules!

    How To AVOID Inciting Muslims To Violence:

    1. Don't Run an Orphanage

    2. Don't Provide Eye and Health Care

    3. Don't Provide Schools

    4. Don't Provide Relief During Calamities

    5. Don't Wash Dishes

    6. Don't Treat a Muslim  "Almost Like A Son"

    7. Don't Use the Name "Mohammed" In A Sentence

    8. Wives, Don't Pretend To Be Independent

    9. Girls, Don't Date

    10. Men, Don't Defend Minorities.

    11. Everyone: Don't Refuse To Convert To Islam

    12. And for Allah's Sake, DON'T Burn a Quran

    Obviously, all of these actions are deliberate provocations of the The Followers Of The Religion of Peace.

    Learn the lesson that history teaches!
    When they act out, it is OUR fault for provoking them!
    Just do whatever they say, and nobody has to get hurt.

    *Al-a-Muslim is selling franchise rights to interested parties. Please contact us to buy your way into our highly lucrative, sharia-compliant system!

    Call 911: The Quran is Burning! Part 2

    Matheus Ticiani, a regular reader, had some excellent points to make about the Call 911 post.

    Regarding all the interesting facts you mentioned of Church officials burning documents, didn't Pius XII burn a fiercely anti-Nazi encyclical he had just written when he learned about the kind of reprisal Christians inside concentration camps used to get?

    You say you are sure that the fundie preacher is aware of the concerns raised by the issue, but if he really knew the extent to which both radical Muslims and their liberal love-hate partners master socialist dialectic, wouldn't he consider that, perhaps, his act of demagoguery is much more likely to fuel support for the 9/11 mosque instead of being a reply, as you put it, against it?

    And isn't the timing for this fundie to play "paladin of Christian tradition" just wrong? The neocons of whom fundamentalist Protestants like him are spiritual advisors indirectly decimated an entire Christian community through their adventure in Iraq.

    But they were just a bunch of Chaldean papists, so who gives a crap about them, I guess...

    Pardon me if this is too politically incorrect, but wouldn't be a better way for this fundie to "declaring Christ's authority" to just abandon his Protestant heresy and embrace the church Christ founded?
    Your points are well-taken. It would, of course, be best if he abandoned his heresies and joined the Catholic Faith.

    But, apart from that, let's examine the motive and consequences of this action he contemplates.

    I think we can all agree that there is no intrinsic problem with burning the Quran. The act itself is fine, even morally to be encouraged. It is only the possible negative consequences from Muslims that cause people to be concerned.

    So, let's talk about consequences and moral responsibility.

    As we all know by now, the invasion of Iraq and overthrow of Saddam had both good and bad consequences.

    We ended government sponsored political torture, but engendered civil chaos.
    We ended rape rooms but engendered riots.
    We stopped the gassing and destruction of the Kurds but engendered the eviction and destruction of millennia-old Christian communities.
    We dismantled Saddam's weapons programs, but removed the political counter-weight to the terror state that is Iran.

    The Pope foresaw the negative consequences and said overall, the war was a bad idea.
    American politicians foresaw the positive consequences and said overall, it was a good idea.

    Now, is there a correspondence between the pastor in Florida and the Pope?
    Or even between the pastor in Florida and the President of the United States?
    Well, no, not much.

    What the Pope does is news because he really does rule a world-wide church with millions of adherents. We can quite rightly assume that when he speaks or acts, he speaks or acts in the name of billions. Thus, what he does or does not do can very accurately be said to affect a billions lives or more. Same goes for the President of the US.

    But the only reason pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center (a cult leader) is in the news is the MSM put him there. He doesn't speak for anyone except those who choose to identify with him in this action. Indeed, that's why the MSM put him in the news - they were hoping to sell some newspapers based on the popularity they knew this action would have.

    So, there is a very basic difference in responsibilities for outcomes here.
    If this man's actions have worldwide consequences, it is only because the world media
    (a) guessed his actions would be popular and
    (b) decided to make a buck off that popularity.

    Now, will it have negative consequences?

    We're talking about a group of people who massacred priests and nuns in Africa because they didn't like a cartoon in a Dutch newspaper. These people cut off the hand of a Catholic professor of English in India because he used the name "Mohammed" in a question on a midterm exam, and would have killed him if the opportunity had only been more conducive to it. On several occasions in Indoneisa, they have beheaded a bunch of Catholic school girls for the crime of being Catholic school girls.

    In short, we're dealing with a group of people who are all as nuts as Hitler.

    And it's not like any of this is new.
    They've been running rampages through the world since 632 AD.

    We only recently gained less than a century's respite from Muslim terror by virtue of tearing apart the Ottoman Empire with tanks, guns and high explosives, physically deposing the caliph, and putting the whole region under Western guard for decades.

    Now they're back.

    A soft word may turneth away wrath, but it has historically had little effect on a Muslim.

    Experience demonstrates that the only thing which stops the terror they inflict on others is making them abjectly submit to militarily superior, heavily armed forces. You may remember a few years ago, Ann Coulter recommended we invade their countries, kill all their leaders and convert them to Christianity. I am more and more of the opinion that she's exactly right.

    So, we ask again, is this pastor's actions going to result in unnecessary violence?
    Well, it will result in violence.
    But, unless we are all willing to become Muslim, pretty much anything we do will result in violence. That includes simply walking across a field, breathing. These people don't need a reason to attack Christians - just ask the bishop in Turkey. After all, he was impudent enough to give a man a job, meals, a place to live and medical care. Obviously, the bishop deserved to die for these acts of terror.

    Indeed, you could just as easily condemn the maintaining of an orphanage for the care and feeding of children as an act of terrorism just as heinous as burning the Quran.

    That argument has already been made.

    So, we have two different examples of the Church acting when violence threatened:
    1. We have the Council of Constance burning Hus and his writings even though it was fairly clear that violence would result.
    2. We have Pope Pius XII burning his own encyclical precisely because he did not wish the violence that would result.
    Given these two examples, I think good Catholics can disagree about which route is best.

    For myself, I tend to see nothing particularly wrong with the pastor's decision.

    When even the smallest action can result in a disproportionately evil result, I don't lay the violent response that will certainly come as a result of this action at this man's doorstep. He's not a world leader. He's a nobody. And it cannot be the case that we implicitly condone the violent response that will come by chastising the man who will be claimed as the cause. He's a man making a personal stand for the right as he sees it, and he follows a long Catholic tradition in the substance of what he does, in the fight against Muslim aggression.

    This is the paradox of overwhelming, disproportionate response. When response is consistently and overwhelmingly disproportionate, then there's no point worrying about it because ANYTHING you do (except becoming Muslim) will tick these people off.

    Precisely because the disproportionate response happens with clockwork regularity, it renders everything I do morally equivalent when it comes to evaluating consequences.

    All consequences for every action are the same, so I need only look at act and motive now.

    This is a very unusual situation in moral theology, which is why so many people aren't factoring it into their moral analyses of this situation. We keep pretending the outcomes with Muslims will be different if we just fine-tune the way we do things.

    They won't.

    Once we recognize that, the whole equation changes.
    Christians, get your matches.

    Dial 911: The Quran is Burning!

    A lot of people are upset about the fact that a group of Florida Christians plan to burn one or more Qurans on September 11.

    The Florida Christians (who constitute an honest-to-goodness cult) claim they mean to demonstrate the Quran is false. They mean to show sharia law is not to be imposed on the United States. Among the numerous opponents of this policy we find Catholic personalities as diverse as Cardinal McCarrick, the famous liar of Washington DC who mis-represented Pope Benedict's directive to deny Eucharist to pro-abort politicians, and Bill Donahue, the extremely orthodox man who heads up the Catholic League. Both of these men, and many others beside, have condemned the intended action as horribly insensitive and thoroughly to be opposed.

    The usual reasons are brought forward: burning the Quran will merely inflame Muslims, it's twisted, mean, dangerous.

    Look! Already, Muslims in Pakistan and Afghanistan have turned from their long and vociferous support for America! Due to this lone Florida pastor and his little flock, entire nations of Muslims have changed their incredible and moving protestations of love for us into loud protests against us. What a shock.

    People who never gave a fig about American soldiers are suddenly concerned about the additional deaths of American soldiers that may result now that the media have turned the Christian pastor into an international celebrity (not that his current world-wide celebrity status is due to anything the media did, of course - it's all Bush's the pastor's fault). The Greens haven't weighed in on the pollution produced, but that's just a matter of time, really. It probably will increase the bedbug infestation in New York.

    While I appreciate the concerns brought forward (as I'm sure the Florida pastor who planned the demonstration also does), it's not immediately clear to me what is wrong with his plan.

    Christians have a long history of burning heretical religious works.
    Starting with Niceae, many of the ecumenical councils burned the works of the heretics they condemned - Arius' work was consigned to the flames and Arius himself banished following the Nicene Council (325 AD).

    This tradition of book-burning was maintained in the millennia which followed, culminating in the 1420 AD Council of Constance. That council not not only burned the works of Jan Hus, for good measure, it burned Hus.

    No one knows better than Catholics what kind of violence book (and book writer) burning can cause. After all, the Hus barbecue was the immediate cause of the ten to fifteen years of Hussite Wars which subsequently ravaged Bohemia. Those wars not only introduced into Europe the use of gunpowder as a tool of war, it marked the beginning of the end of heavily armored knights on the battlefield, and permanently changed the way war was waged on the continent.

    But that violent consequence did not stop Rome from burning either books or the heretics who wrote them. Within a century, Luther's works were set alight, and the heretic Giardono Bruno was burned along with his works while Galileo was alive (1600).

    The burning of a book is a way for the one doing the burning to show authority over both the book and its author. By burning a book, the one who burns it not only makes the statement "I do not wish these works to exist" but also "I have the right and the authority over these works to make sure that they don't exist."

    In other words, the burning of a Quran is a fitting counterpoint to the 9/11 mosque.

    The Muslims want to build the 9/11 mosque in order to demonstrate their power over the khaffir and dhimmi, their victory in New York City, lo!, just ten years ago. Funded by jihad terrorists, it is the boot in the face of us non-Muslims.

    Our Florida pastor has decided to reply by declaring Christ's authority over the Quran, burning it in a Christian setting on the very anniversary of the Muslim battle, as a way of demonstrating that Christ, not Mohammed, is supreme.

    In doing this, that Christian pastor follows a long Christian tradition.
    As a Catholic, I have great respect for Catholic-Christian tradition.

    Saturday, September 04, 2010

    Pearls Before Swine

    The headline story on today (September 4, 2010), is about an Australian couple whose newborn infant had been declared dead. The doctors worked on the baby for 20 minutes, could not revive him, and ended by giving the body to the mother so she could pay her last respects.

    Now, the mother cradled the infant in her arms against her bare chest and this is what she observed:
    1. After a few minutes, the baby's arms and legs began to move. The couple assumed it was reflex action.
    2. A few minutes later, the baby's eyes opened and his arms and legs continued to move. The couple continued to assume it was reflect action.
    3. A few minutes after that, the baby began to "root",
    4. The mother gave the baby a dab of breast milk and the little man started suckling on her finger, at which point they decided that maybe this wasn't reflex action after all.
    5. The couple tried several times to get a nurse or doctor, but were roundly ignored each time because "the baby is dead."
    6. They only managed to convince medical personnel to come into the room and check the baby out by pretending to accept the idea that the baby was dead, but instead asking the medical personnel to explain the "reflex" reaction they were seeing. In their haste to show off their expertise, the doctor apparently was more than eager to demonstrate to the couple his superior knowledge and their complete ignorance.
    Now, there are several disturbing parts to this story, but I am most disturbed by the fact the couple SAW their baby:
    • move his arms and legs and
    • open his eyes
    yet STILL didn't believe the little one was alive.


    Well, because the "experts" had said the baby was dead.

    Think what they were looking at - a normal baby making normal movements - and they still thought the little one was dead because that's what they had been told.

    As with Jesus, these two parent-apostles didn't believe the boy was alive until they saw him eat and drink. Only then did they suddenly realize the experts were wrong.

    Terri Schiavo, call your office.

    Michael knew what he was doing when he kept Terri from eating.
    He wasn't just starving her to death - that was a bonus.

    Michael knew his Scriptures.
    The fact that no one watched her eat meant the experts could spin their yarns.
    She was dead.
    Dead people may walk through walls or talk with you, but they don't eat.

    So, like the adulterous husband caught in the act by his wife, the choice is posed:
    "Honey, who are you going to believe?
    Me? ....... Or your lyin' eyes?"
    This is a tremendous example of how "experts" can destroy one's own confidence in one's own observations.

    Now, how many people will take home the lesson?
    Yep - virtually no one.

    You know, we all understand that the parables about sheep and shepherds are about us and Jesus, or us and the bishops.

    But God allowed demons into the herd of swine, much to the consternation of the swineherds, and the pigs ended by throwing themselves off a cliff.

    And, in a completely unrelated story, God warned against spreading pearls before swine.

    This experience was a pearl.
    What are we?