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Monday, March 31, 2014

Thorin Oakenshield's Boat

The boys (12, 10 and 8) and I saw the second part of Peter Jackson's Hobbit series. My sons were mystified by what they considered a major plot flaw: what could Thorin Oakenshield possibly have used as a boat on the river of molten gold?

After all, it would have to have a lower specific gravity than gold (to float), a higher melting point (to avoid disintegration) and a low heat transfer rate (so Thorin wouldn't be grilled like a hotdog while riding it).

After much research, the eldest discovered the answer.

According to Peter Jackson, Tolkien's dwarves not only discovered mithril, they also discovered how to make aerogels.

Anti-Christian Marketing Bonanza

Scorcese proved it with The Last Temptation of Christ. Dan Brown proved it with The Da Vinci Code. Now the producers of Noah have demonstrated it.

If you want to make a LOT of money on a story, write something that is so outrageously provocative, so incredibly over-the-top in its anti-Christian themes that Christians can't help themselves. The Christian community knee-jerks and express outrage against it, thus giving you reams and reams of free publicity.

Everyone will go to see what the issue is.
You walk to the bank and deposit your winnings.
It's a very safe bet.

Sure, you can make money with family-friendly, Christian-friendly movies, but it isn't nearly as much fun.

Why We Embrace Contraception and Abortion

There are some interesting factoids from the world of science that may have some bearing on why people so happily embrace homosexuality, contraception and abortion.
Why would a sterile male cricket mate with an infertile female? On the surface, this behaviour makes no sense: sex takes energy and effort, and there’s nothing in it for either of these partners. Neither one can foster the next generation. 
Shelley Adamo from Dalhousie University has the answer. Her team have shown that one particular insect virus can sterilise crickets, but also change their behaviour so they continue to mate with each other. By doing so, they pass the virus on to uninfected hosts.
And there's this from Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene:
One of the best-known segregation distorters is the so-called t gene in mice. When a mouse has two t genes it either dies young or is sterile. t is therefore said to be 'lethal' in the homozygous state. If a male mouse has only one t gene it will be a normal, healthy mouse except in one remarkable respect. If you examine such a male's sperms you will find that up to 95% of them contain the t gene, only 5% the normal allele. This is obviously a gross distortion of the 50% ratio we expect. Whenever, in a wild population, a t allele happens to arise by mutation, it immediately spreads like a brushfire... before long the whole local population is likely to be driven extinct. There is some evidence that wild populations of mice have, in the past, gone extinct through epidemics of t genes.
Also, we have the explanation of the Bruce effect from the same tome - male mice secrete a chemical whose smell can cause female mice to abort her current pregnancy so the new male mouse can successfully mate with her. There is also the reverse Whitten effect: female mice synchronize menstrual cycles based on olfactory cues.

We already know that people infected with Toxoplasmosis gondii display measurably different mental behaviour compared to those who do not. T. gondii victims have six times the rate of automobile accidents as non-infected people. Given the love women traditionally have for cats, this may explain why women are stereotypically described as worse drivers than men. Men infected with the organism tend to engage in more risk-taking behaviour. Schizophrenics are twice as likely to be infected as the general population.

So, is it possible that some gene, bacteria or virus or combination is part of the reason so many people seem to have gone insane and begun embracing homosexuality, contraception and abortion in the last century?

I am certain no one has investigated possible links.
There could be a medical discovery waiting to be made!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The 4th Sunday of Lent

I have been attending the TLM for the last five years and have written about the richness of that liturgy. I attended the Novus Ordo today, and am absolutely pleased that I did, precisely because this liturgy is so much richer in the Novus Ordo than it is in the TLM. Why do I say that? Because of the liturgical readings.

The TLM readings for today are restricted just to Gal 4:22 (the two sons, representing the two covenants) and John 9 (Jesus feeds the 5000). But the Novus Ordo! Ahhh!! If I have called the Novus Ordo a child's Mass, it is with regard to the consecration prayers, but with regard to the Scripture readings, there is simply no contest - the Novus Ordo has a depth and breadth the TLM can never match.

Today's example is a superb case in point. It revolves around the theme of "sight".

It begins with the Samuel anointing David king of Israel. This story is a classic demonstration of the four senses of Scripture. "Bethlehem" means "house of bread". Samuel does not go of his own accord, rather, he is sent by God to anoint the king, he is a prophet, an apostle of God. When Samuel first arrives, he sees a son of Jesse and moves to anoint him. God says "No! Don't see as men see, see what God sees." Samuel does not know who the king is. It is only when David arrives that God opens Samuel's eyes, it is only with the arrival of the 8th son that Samuel finally recognizes and anoints the king. Immediately upon being anointed, the "Spirit rushes upon him (David)."

Read according to the four senses, it is the story of God in the Eucharist. When you go to find God in the House of Bread, don't see with the eyes of men ("it's only bread!") see with the eyes of God ("This is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, the God-man"). Only then will you see the son of the Resurrection, who raised Himself up on the 8th day (crucified on Friday, resting in the tomb on the 7th day, rose on the 8th day). It is through the power of the Spirit that we are able to see the King of Kings in the House of Bread.

The Psalm Response is Psalm 23: "the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want." This Psalm is used several times throughout this liturgical year, but it has a special poignancy here.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Not only does baptism anoint me king as Samuel anointed David king, baptism also allows me to participate in the Eucharistic feast, within sight of my enemies. The second reading, taken from Ephesians 5, continues on this theme, considering exactly who those enemies are:
You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord...Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them, for it is shameful even to mention the things done by them in secret; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light.
I was once one of the enemies. Now, through my baptism, God has enlightened me. All shameful deeds, even my own, are exposed to the light and become visible. 

And this theme of darkness to light, blindness to sight, is crowned with the Gospel reading: Jesus healing the blind man. Jesus uses His own saliva - for Jesus is the source of living water - along with the dust from which we are formed to make a paste which He uses to anoint the blind man's eyes. Water and dust combine to give sight, just as baptismal water and a living human being combine to give us sight into Him who is divine. Samuel anointed David's forehead, empowering his mind to understand God's ways, Jesus anoints the blind man's eyes, empowering him to see Divinity Himself. 

But the paste by itself is not sufficient. Jesus sends the man to Siloam, which means "one who is sent", to wash the paste off. Another word for "one who is sent" is "apostle." Mary is often called the Apostle to the apostles, because she is sent by God to bring Jesus, the first Apostle, into the world and give Him to the Twelve. This blind man is also sent by God, he is also an apostle, but he is sent to Siloam, sent to the Apostles, so that he can soak in their teachings; through their teachings, they will give Christ to him. 

Baptism begins the work, but only after we wash in the teachings of the apostles can we truly begin to see. Once the man has been washed in this teaching, he is able to successfully argue with the scribes of the Temple about who the Christ really is. 

Elsewhere, Christ says "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, so do what they say...". Christ requires us to possess a certain amount of respect for those who do not believe. Yet, in this passage, the formerly blind man actively mocks the Pharisees, pointing out to them the failures in their logic, the gaps in their understanding. They have not been anointed, they have not accepted the teaching of Him who the Father sent, Jesus: the first Apostle. The Pharisees and scribes have not the grace, the power to understand. They are blind. 

Only after the man is thrown out of the synagogue does Jesus seek him out and reveal Himself to the man. Yet, even at this point, the man is unsure of Christ's identity: "Who is he, Sir, that I may believe in Him?" He cannot identify Christ.

He may wonder who anointed his eyes with mud, he may speculate about why he was sent to this pool of Siloam and not some other pool, he may think himself ill-used by the Pharisees, he may be uncertain of many things, but of one thing he is unshakably certain. He knows God healed him. 

It is at this point that Christ fully reveals Himself. The man does not know Jesus after baptism, or after soaking in the apostolic teachings, or even after defending his new Faith to the point of persecution. It is only after all these things, only because of all of these things, he can see. God has given the man the tools he needs so that when Christ reveals Himself, the man with sight can now see Him. Now the Spirit of God rushes upon the man and he falls down and he worships the King of Kings. 

And here we see the glory of the Novus Ordo. It is on THIS day that the candidates for Easter baptism are subjected to their third and final scrutiny. It is on THIS day that the Church wears rose vestments, a lightening of the penance, for on THIS day, the baptismal candidates begin to fully see what their baptism will entail. Now they finally begin to be enlightened.

They may be uncertain of many things. They may wonder, question, speculate. But even though they do not fully understand, now they begin to see the need for baptism, the need for apostolic teaching, the need to defend the Faith despite persecution. They begin to understand more fully their desperate desire for the light of Christ. They are given firm hope, grounded in God's own word, that Jesus will reveal Himself to them when all these things have come to pass. 

Their loads will be lightened because the sacraments, the apostolic teaching, the persecutions, their steadfast defense of the Faith, will enlighten them. Through these, they will become intimate followers of Jesus Christ, God.

In this regard, compared to the Novus Ordo, the liturgical readings of the TLM are weak and empty by comparison. The power of the Novus Ordo readings for this day are found not just in the readings, but in the way the Novus Ordo Mass intertwines the liturgy into the lives of those about to enter into Christ's body through baptism. There is simply no comparison. On this, the fourth Sunday of Lent, the Novus Ordo's Liturgy of the Word is incredibly superior to the TLM's Mass of the Catechumens.

If we could combine the enormous beauty of the TLM's consecration prayers with the power of the Novus Ordo reading cycle and RCIA liturgy, what a Mass we would have! 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Attacked For Speaking the Truth

Sodomites and some Catholic school students (by a ratio of 1800 to 200) are angry  that a nun is stating the facts about sodomy. They don't like it.

The nun’s data is accurate. According to the National Institutes for Health, father-son  estrangement is linked to homosexuality:
“The consistent pattern of results obtained from these three studies suggests that the emotionally distant relationships of fathers and androphilic sons relate to the sons’ atypical childhood gender identity (or observable gender role behavior) rather than to the sons’ erotic preference for male partners per se.”
The New York Times certainly agrees:
However, less time shared between father and young son was an important factor. In the first year of life, the fathers tended to spend somewhat less time with their effeminate sons than did the fathers of masculine boys. During the next four years, however, the differences increased. By the time the boys were 3 to 5 years old, fathers of feminine boys were spending significantly less time with their sons than were fathers of the masculine boys....
Rather than attributing homosexuality to cultural, parental or genetic factors, Dr. Green sees an interaction of the three, as evidenced in particular by a pair of identical twins in his study. One boy was clearly feminine and the other twin typically masculine. The feminine boy was sick a lot and had little to do with his father, whereas the masculine twin had a more typical relationship with his father. As adults, both boys were bisexual, but the feminine twin was far more homosexual than his brother. 
Yale University Press agrees as well. It is a very common finding.

Her homosexual partner numbers are also accurate
28% of homosexual men had more than 1000 partners: “Bell and Weinberg reported evidence of widespread sexual compulsion among homosexual men. 83% of the homosexual men surveyed estimated they had had sex with 50 or more partners in their lifetime, 43% estimated they had sex with 500 or more partners; 28% with 1,000 or more partners. Bell and Weinberg p 308.” (exodusglobalalliance.org/ishomosexualityhealthyp60.php)
Modal range for homosexual sex partners 101-500: “In their study of the sexual profiles of 2,583 older homosexuals published in Journal of Sex Research, Paul Van de Ven et al. found that “the modal range for number of sexual partners ever [of homosexuals] was 101–500.” In addition, 10.2 percent to 15.7 percent had between 501 and 1000 partners. A further 10.2 percent to 15.7 percent reported having had more than 1000 lifetime sexual partners. Paul Van de Ven et al., “A Comparative Demographic and Sexual Profile of Older Homosexually Active Men,” Journal of Sex Research 34 (1997): 354.”
As for the masturbation-homosexuality link, there is this story to contend with:
In turning to a dedicated study of sex practices, the Hewletts formally confirmed that the campfire stories were no mere fish tales. Married Aka and Ngandu men and women consistently reported having sex multiple times in a single night. But in the process of verifying this, the Hewletts also incidentally found that homosexuality and masturbation appeared to be foreign to both groups.
For those who are angry because they think she was being inaccurate, she wasn't. 
You can apologize to her now.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Catholic Education 2014

The collapse of Catholic education in America continues as I have predicted. The numbers below come from the National Catholic Education Association and the US Census Bureau. Study them carefully.
School Year
1919-1920
2013-2014
Total US Population 106,000,000 319,000,000
Catholic Population 17,700,000 69,436,660
Catholic as % of Population 16.60% 21.7%
Total Catholic School Population 1,925,221 1,974,578
Grade School Population 1,800,000 1,390,000
# of Grade Schools 6,551 5,399
High School Population 129,848 582,785
# of High Schools 1,552 1,195
As you can see, total Catholic school populations are nearly identical to a century ago - the current school population should match or drop below by next year. America's population has tripled,  America's Catholic population has quadrupled, but America's Catholic schools have shrunk to almost exactly the same size they were a century ago.

The Catholic Grade Schools
But the news isn't even that good. The 2013 numbers have been pumped up by non-Catholic children. Yes, fully 16.4% of the 1.974 million children currently enrolled in Catholic schools are non-Catholic. If we took them out of the equation, the total Catholic student population in Catholic schools would actually be closer to 1.65 million. The Catholic student population has actually shrunk below the 1919-20 level as the nation has grown.

In 1920, almost no one went to high school, so nearly 1.8 million of the 1.9 million children enrolled were in grade school. The grade schools grew faster than the high schools. Today, the grade schools are shrinking faster than the high schools. Only 1.39 million children are in grade school. That 1.39 million includes the 14.6% of grade school students who are non-Catholics.

If we take out the non-Catholics in the grade school system, you're looking at 1.19 million Catholic grade school children. So, today's Catholic grade school population is actually 33% smaller than it was in 1920. That is, the nation tripled in size, but Catholic grade school populations shrank by one-third. Even so, 60% of the children who attend Catholic grade school never see the inside of a Catholic high school.

The Catholic High Schools
There are currently 582,785 Catholic high school students, but fully 20% of those high school students are not Catholic. That means we have only 462,000 Catholic students in Catholic high schools - quite a bit less than half a million. High school populations are not collapsing as fast as grade schools' primarily because today's parents want their kids in good colleges. They hope a private high school will help. Even so, both the number of high school students and high schools have been dropping for years. The current enrollment is 583,000: the high school population hasn't been this low in the last sixty years. The number of high schools is 1195: the number has not been this low in the last century.

In 1920, 64% of the population, or about 67.8 million children, were under the age of 18 (p. xv, Table E). About 11.6 million (16.6%) of those children were Catholic. Today, America has about 74 million children under the age of 18. About 16 million (22%), are Catholic. This means that both in 1920 and today, about 58 million children are non-Catholic. These figures assume Catholic children make up the same proportion of the population as Catholic adults.

Given that there are more Catholic children alive today than there were in 1920, the absolute drop in number of children attending Catholic school is truly impressive. The news probably won't get better on the Catholic front. While "data indicate that almost all self-identified Catholics having children are baptizing those children (most within a year of birth and some in later childhood years)", the raw number of children being baptized into the Catholic Church each year has been declining for decades. So has the annual number of Catholic marriages.

So, while the proportion of Catholic children in the general population may continue to increase, there is no indication this will increase the number of Catholic students in Catholic schools. In fact, the trend has been very much in the opposite direction. Bishops who insist that the Catholic schools are the key to passing on the Catholic Faith are ignoring the last 40 years of evidence to the contrary.

Non-Catholic Students
Non-Catholic students will not save the day. The last year the Catholic school system saw growth was  2000-01. In that year, 365,328 (13.8% ) of the school population was non-Catholic. By 2012, this number had dropped to only 318,277 (15.9%). While 2013 has seen that total rise to 323,542 (16.4%) non-Catholic students, the raw total is still over 10% off the Catholic school mini-boom of 2000-01.

Right now, Catholic schools can't seem to attract either Catholic or non-Catholic students.

Even if Catholic schools succeed in attracting the same number of non-Catholics each year, given the shrinking number of Catholic students participating, the schools won't be able to sustain themselves on non-Catholic populations alone. Over the course of the last twelve months, even with Catholic school gains of over 5000 non-Catholic students, they still lost over 27,000 total students. In both percentage and raw terms, this was actually the lowest loss rate (-1.36%)  since 2001-02 (-1.17%). It is not a recipe for success.



Saturday, March 22, 2014

Parsing Abortion Arguments

Recently, the head of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards, said that the discussion of when life begins was not really relevant. She said her children's lives began at birth. Many people were horrified. They shouldn't be.


We are shocked by Cecile Richards response because we are Christians and we aren't used to hearing the Jewish viewpoint. But all she did was enunciate what nearly all Jews believe. On this subject, the Jewish viewpoint is indistinguishable from the secular viewpoint. Christians believe a human person begins at conception, Hindus and Buddhists argue that human beings pre-exist conception, Muslims define the beginning as a certain number of days after conception (depending on whether the child is male or female). There is a fairly wide range of opinion on the subject within the Jewish community, but Reform Judaism is the largest bloc in the United States; they generally argue that life begins at first breath. Unless you understand other people's arguments better than they do, you won't succeed in changing their minds.

People who argue abortion often make little headway because they compare apples and oranges. Here's a scorecard to help you keep track of what the subject is. Arguments about abortion generally revolve around three areas:
1) being alive vs
2) being a human person vs
3) the rights inherent to a human person.

 

1) Being Alive

When people say "We don't know when life begins", they aren't making a statement about evolution.

The sperm is alive, the egg is alive, the fertilized egg is alive. the embryo alive. All of it is alive. When we discuss abortion, we aren't discussing when "life" begins. What people really mean to say is "We don't know when the human person's life begins."

But, since you DO know when the human person's life begin, and they claim not to know, they actually mean, "We can't agree on when the human person's life begins." Correct them immediately and verify that this is what they meant. Definitions matter. This is why:

 

2a) Personhood: Biological tests

In almost every case, they will then insist on some biological test to establish personhood. Some popular biological tests are listed below.
  • Size – is it too small?
  • Appearance – does it look human?
  • Heartbeat (not all living persons have heartbeats, yet all living snakes do)
  • Brainwaves (you don't need brainwaves, to be alive. Cows have brainwaves but are not persons)
  • First breath (Jews believe no child exists until the first breath after birth infuses the soul)
  • Physical suffering: Cannot feel pain, so killing is justified (neither can surgery patients)
  • Viability (depending on time period considered, none of us is viable)
  • Birth defects (what counts as a birth defect? Two X chromosomes?)
The problem, of course, is that science cannot even consistently define what life is, much less specify the kind of life which is personhood.

These are all external tests. None of them really demonstrates personhood; at best, they are all merely proxies for personhood. After all, if external tests were sufficient to know a person, then the most efficient way to get to know someone would be to meet them, and then immediately vivisect them: slice open their chest, examine their stomach contents, crack open the skull and verify brain structures, etc.  Every biological test - stethoscopes, EEGs, MRIs, etc. - are all forms of painless or virtual vivisection by which we verify the integrity of various bodily structures.

Yet, for some odd reason, people rarely take their first dates to an MRI scanner or have their EEGs checked. If these tests were really efficient tests for determining the quality of personhood, everyone would subject each other to these tests all the time. If you want to know what a person is, consider whether there can be such a thing as a person who has absolutely no brain. Such persons do exist.

 

2b) Personhood: Communication tests

Most people don't even realize that they require a communication test for personhood. They think they are demanding some inherent quality of being, such as:
  • Self-Awareness
  • Social capability: can embryo make decisions?
  • Rationality vs. non-rationality
  • Sense of morals and/or ethics
  • Presence of Ego/soul
  • Sense of humanity
Unfortunately, it is impossible to demonstrate any of these attributes unless the entity is capable of communicating. Someone who possesses one or more "inherent" attributes but cannot communicate them to the outside world will be judged a "non-person". Many people who were thought to be in comas turned out not to be - they simply were unable to move the muscle systems necessary to establish communications with others, and so were misdiagnosed. 

Persons can only be known by self-revelation. You can't know if I like Snickers bars simply be examining my stomach. You might see that I have eaten one, but you don't know if I like it until I tell you. I have to reveal myself to you.

One of the reasons the Romans considered everyone else to be barbarians is that no one else spoke Latin. They couldn't communicate with them, therefore they considered them subhuman. This was a common conceit in early history - most peoples considered themselves human and everyone else subhuman barbarians for the same reason. Modern people make exactly the same judgement: if you can't communicate, you aren't a person. 

The triumph of Christianity was exactly the realization that communication doesn't matter - others are fully human even when we can't communicate with them. What matters is the presence of the human soul, which is comprised of the human intellect and human will. Whether the soul can successfully use the tool of the human body to communicate is irrelevant. Non-Christians don't understand reality well enough to accept this understanding, so they revert to a variation of the pagan view: "If you can't talk to me, then you aren't human."

In fact, this is arguably why the "biological test" for personhood is so popular. The culture would like to retain the Christian insight (communication doesn't matter), so it uses tests that do not require the subject to communicate (EKG, EEG, etc). Unfortunately, by treating the subject as an object, those tests throw away one central aspect of personhood: self-revelation.

However, this raises another problem. What if the entity can talk to you, but it isn't a human person? 

Within a few years, we will have a different kind of misdiagnosis: the Turing test. Machines may soon be able to communicate in ways that make them hard to distinguish from persons. If a machine does communicate in this way, is it a person or the illusion of a person? We can create auditory, visual and tactile illusions. Would this be a kind of logical illusion? After all, the machine is really just following a program written by a real person or group of persons. So are we communicating with the machine? Or are we communicating with a group of persons, some who may even be dead? Is a computer that passes the Turing test really just an interactive book, a cell phone conversation once removed, or is it something more? 

And given the fact that the machine is created by a group of persons, will it be a walking, talking example of a corporation, the "legal person" idea dreamed up by lawyers and judges in the late 1800s? To Christians, it is obvious that computers which pass the Turing test are really just rather complicated phone calls to recording machines. But others won't see it that way. 

 

3) Personhood: Rights

Even if you can agree on how to define the existence of a person, what rights does a person have? Are rights inherent to the individual (e.g., granted by God or ontology), or are rights granted by society?
  • Does society grants rights? 
    • Can we kill it if its existence would make us feel guilty:
      • for refusing to care for it as we should (it would suffer)
      • for not being able to care for it as we should (it would suffer)
      • if someone else could care for it as we should have (e.g., abort rather than adopt)
      • That is, do others have a right to make us feel guilty by volunteering to care for it? 
  • Can we replace it?
  • We have already granted society the right to take away other people's lives (death penalty).  
Arguments about death penalty vs. abortion are merely arguments about whether society's right to take human life is limited (to the guilty) or unlimited (government can kill whoever it chooses). For instance, the Chinese agree that women are persons, but deny that women have the right to choose the number of children they bear. The government does. Belgian doctors agree you are a person, but you don’t choose when your life ends. They do.

So, Planned Parenthood doesn't really care about biological tests nor communications tests. By their lights, personhood is granted by society through society's delegate: the woman who gives birth. If society (the woman) denies you personhood, then you are a non-person, subject to whatever future society (the woman) deems appropriate.

 

Analysis

If one person mentions brainwaves while the other insists on a woman's right to choose, the two people are talking past each other. One wants to know what constitutes a person, the other wants to know what rights a person has. Point this out. Ask them to settle on one discussion or the other, and then stick to that discussion.

If you are trying to define when personhood begins, then don't discuss personal rights until the definition is agreed upon. If you want to discuss personal rights, there is no point bringing in a discussion of when personhood begins. They don't care when personhood begins - they just care what rights a person has. 


Monday, March 17, 2014

Heresy and Liturgy

"When I search more thoroughly... I find that it is rather a kind of fashion [in Czech: 'móda']. And if it is a fashion, therefore it is a matter that does not need that much attention. It is just necessary to show some patience and kindness to people who are addicted to a certain fashion. But I consider greatly important to go deep into things, because if we do not go deep, no liturgical form, this or that one, can save us." ~ Pope Francis, 14 Feb 2014
While speaking to the Czech section of Vatican Radio, Pope Francis pointed out that liturgy doesn't save us.

He's right. It doesn't. Only the sacraments save us. Liturgy is wrapped around sacrament, but liturgy - by itself - has no saving power.

A lot of people think older liturgies are more beautiful and protect people from heresy. Maybe they do, but there isn't any particular proof for the proposition. Take, for instance, the East-West schism.

Here is a list of all the bishops of Constantinople who presented or advocated heresies:


Eastern schisms and the Councils that responded to them:
  • Eusebius of Nicomedia: Arian archbishop of Constantinople, reigned 338 AD, answered by Nicaea (325)
  • Nestorius: 2-person Christ,  archbishop of Constantinople, reigned 428-432, answered by Ephesus (431)
  • Acacius: Monophysite Patriarch of Constantinople, reigned 471-479, answered by Chalcedon (451)
  • Anthimus: Monophysite Patriarch of Contantinople, reigned 535-36, answered by Chalcedon (451)
  • Sergius: Monothelite Patriarch of Constantinople, reigned 610-638, answered by 3rd Constantinople (681)
  • Pyrrhus: Monothelite Patriarch of Constantinople, reigned 639-641, answered by 3rd Constantinople (681)
  • Paul: Monothelite Patriarch of Constantinople, reigned 641-648, answered by 3rd Constantinople (681)
  • Photius: Patriarch of Constantinople, reigned 858-867 and again 878-886. No heresy: just schism, answered by 4th Constantinople (869-870). Notice that 4th Constantinople expressly ordered that Photius never hold episcopal office again, much less the see of Constantinople. Notice also the Pope completely ignored the ruling of 4th Constantinople that the papal throne had fully accepted just ten years before, and allowed Photius back into the episcopal chair at Constantinople. Councils don't mean anything if the Pope doesn't enforce them. Remember that when you wail about "what Vatican II did." It did nothing. The Popes did it all.
  • No more Ecumenical Councils in the East.

Now, all these men celebrated beautiful liturgies, in many cases, liturgies that had been developed by Doctors and/or Fathers of the Church. Liturgy doesn't get better than that. You can make a strong argument that the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom or St. Cyril is much more beautiful than the liturgy put in place following the Council of Trent, a council that had no Fathers or Doctors upon its roll.

Despite their great liturgies, all these bishops of Constantinople fell into heresy, as did hundreds of their brother priests and bishops.

The liturgy does not save.

The Tridentine Mass is nice. It doesn't save. Don't get hung up on it.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Homophobe or Racist?

Nearly every country in Africa and southwest Asia is opposed to the homosexual lifestyle. Most of those countries have rendered one or more aspects of homosexual expression illegal. Notice all those countries are also populated by brown and black people. Here's a map showing where homosexuality is illegal (countries in black oppose homosexuality):



If you don't like the Wikipedia map, try the Washington Post or this sodomy-rights blog. Doesn't matter. They all show the same thing

The only African country that approves of homosexual activity is South Africa, where
"gay rights are an exclusive privilege of the white and well-heeled – a small but high profile subset." 
Another homosexual rights site observed
"The Gay Association of South Africa was mostly a white organisation that initially avoided taking an official position on apartheid..." 
Even after the ANC was bullied by white activists into accepting homosexuals, the New York Times pointed out that
"Mr. Brits, for one, said it was striking that 80 percent of the South Africans he has married have been (white) Afrikaners..." 
Even though white homosexuals forced it onto the country, over 60% of South Africans still don't think it's right.  In other words, South African "homosexual rights" is synonymous with white advocates of apartheid.

You can't blame opposition to homosexuality on Christianity, either. India recently outlawed homosexuality, and India is not exactly known as a hotbed of Christian thought. Islam and Hinduism have no particular love for the homosexual act, nor do traditional African tribal morals.

So, we can say with a certain degree of confidence (especially after looking at the dislike of homosexuality within America's black community) that black and brown cultures are strongly opposed to homosexuality.

And these are the cultures the left tells us to admire and emulate. Remember, it takes a village to raise a child. Hillary learned that in Africa. And the ancient wisdom of the East has been pushed upon us by everyone from the Beatles to the Dalai Lama, as we are constantly reminded.

Conclusion: the promotion of homosexuality is a white guy thing (see herehere, herehere and here) It views white culture as superior and attempts to force white cultural values onto the rest of the world (see here, here, here here, here, here, and here).

If you support homosexuality or the homosexual deathstyle, you're a racist. Indeed, homosexuals themselves constantly admit to being virulently racist (see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). As one homosexual-rights supporter observed: "A look at online profiles will bring the same disheartening revelation: the gay world is full of narrow-minded, bigoted racists."

So, this is directed to all of you who are homosexual rights activists. Stop trying to impose your narrow-minded, white supremacist, homosexual agenda onto the rest of us open-minded, multi-cultural, loving and normal people. We heterosexual non-racists urge all you homosexual racists to embrace other cultures. Start showing some love towards people who don't look like you. Start showing some love towards their ancient cultures. 

Homosexuals, throw off the shackles of racist hatred!
Support cultures that outlaw homosexuality!

You're welcome.


UPDATE:
Here are some stats demonstrating the difficulties with the homosexual deathstyle.

Lesbians have higher rates of
obesity,
cancer,
depression,
STDs,
tobacco abuse,
alcohol abuse,
substance abuse,
interpersonal violence
and early death
than the normal female population. The Canadian Rainbow Coalition actually filed a complaint with Canada's health services admitting that homosexuals die 20 years earlier than heterosexuals.

Second Update
Even MSNBC admits it is true.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Pope Francis and Civil Unions

Rorate Caeli is throwing a tantrum about Pope Francis' recent remarks on civil unions. To their credit, they provide a direct quote of his reply to a question recently posed to him:
Many countries have regulated civil unions. Is it a path that the Church can understand? But up to what point?
Holy Father: Marriage is between one man and one woman. The secular States want to justify civil unions to regulate different situations of coexistence, spurred by the need to regulate economic aspects between persons as, for instance, to ensure healthcare. Each case must be looked at and evaluated in its diversity. [English translation: Zenit]
They follow up by providing a long string of quotes from Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI which we are supposed to interpret as being at variance with Pope Francis' remarks. Unfortunately, RC fails to notice that there is no variance between the remarks of the three Popes. All three are, indeed, discussing civil unions, but one of them is discussing an aspect of those unions the first two simply did not address.

Of Popes and Condoms
Remember when Pope Benedict pointed out that homosexuals who use condoms may actually be on the road to sanctity? Many Catholics got upset because they were under the false impression that the use of condoms is intrinsically evil. Benedict merely pointed out the obvious - condom use is not intrinsically evil when the only possible purpose of the use is disease control. Homosexuals can't impregnate each other, so the condom is not a prophylactic against pregnancy, it is a prophylactic against disease. 

If anyone wants to recall, while I applauded and agreed with Pope Benedict's remarks in that context, I was nearly alone in pointing out that the good Pope of recent memory actually screwed up part of the doctrine by failing to distinguish between the use of condoms by a male prostitute serving a male client and a male prostitute servicing a female client. Condom use is actually a step towards morality in the first instance, but is an intrinsically evil act in the second. 

I point this out to remind people that I have a track record of looking for precision in language. Pope Francis is generally quite precise in his language, and this instance is no exception. 

Precisely
If you carefully read the papal quotes RC provides, you will quickly notice that the two previous Popes always addressed their remarks to the procreative aspects of the unions between persons. They did not address the economic aspect at all.

Here, Pope Francis, knowing that the generative aspect of the discussion is already well-covered by previous Magisterial statements, is addressing the economic aspects of the contracts which are known as "civil unions". Just as the condom is intrinsically evil for opposite sex relations, but perfectly legitimate (and, as Benedict reminds us, possibly even a step towards proper human morality) in same-sex relations, so civil unions are evil in their disordered approach (or complete lack) towards generative, procreative functions, but are not necessarily evil in their approach to economic issues. 

In short, Pope Francis was distinguishing different aspects of the relationship and bringing important nuance to the discussion. 

The Goods of Marriage
And before we go all ballistic, stop and think. There are many, many different conceptions of marriage in the world. The ancient Greeks considered marriage important primarily because procreation and the raising of children was a duty that every citizen owed to the city-state. The Romans considered marriage and procreation primarily a duty owed to the family; you couldn't inherit property from your father until you gave him grandchildren. The Hindus consider marriage and procreation a necessary state in life for the joining not only of the two souls of the spouses, but also the joining of two families. It is a kind of sacrament. Jews consider it primarily a business contract between man and woman that is almost devoid of spirituality (apart from the joining of the souls of the two spouses) and not necessarily related to procreation at all. Muslims see it as a business contract between two men: the bridegroom and the custodian of the woman. Buddhists see it as an attachment to the world, and a sign that you aren't really ready to enter nirvana. They have no rules about marriage or procreation whatsoever. 

Now, all of these views have aspects that are both correct and incorrect. At most, the best of these attitudes are somewhat distorted understandings of natural marriages, with only a few having a glimmering of the supernatural possibilities. Due to lack of baptism, even those with a correct glimmering are wholly unable to actually accomplish the vision that a true sacramental marriage presents. 

But, despite all of these failures, the Church recognizes those aspects of natural marriages which can be recognized. An unbaptized person married to someone of the opposite sex and looking to enter the Church is recognized as having a valid natural marriage. If they have had multiple marriages, they may even have to go through annulment procedures or invoke the Pauline or Petrine privileges. 

Of Civil Unions
Now, civil unions are not even valid natural marriages. But, they are relationships, even if distorted and tortured relationships. Those relationships do have real consequences in the natural world: economic, biological (even if not procreative), emotional consequences. The Church has to consider how to handle the fact that society has decided to pursue this kind of sin with vigor. As society turns to worship this new idol to their unknown god, what can the Church - standing in the Areopagus of the public square - what, if anything, can we bless and affirm in order to draw them away from that idol and towards the good?

Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul II have fully addressed the problems in civil unions so that the faithful have no illusions that they may follow the crowd on this topic. Those problems are quite clear. The prohibitions are quite clear. 

But, as Aquinas points out, people sin because they perceive a good in the sinful action. So Pope Francis has begun to contemplate the other part of the issue: how does the Church use whatever small slice of good which may be present to draw the idol worshippers to Christ? 

Because so many people comment on the economic benefits, and because he is a man concerned about the poor, he remarks on the possibilities of economic goods that might be acknowledged and "baptized." The Church has done this kind of thing in the past (as Pope Benedict tried to do with condom use and Paul tried to do with the idol to the Unknown God). This is nothing new under the sun. You would think a traditionalist blog would recognize that. 

Teaching Traditionalists

The Catholics at Pewsitter.com seem aghast and agog at a bit of Catholic doctrine they were apparently never taught. The headline to the story is:
Evangelii Gaudium: "We become fully human when we become more than human?" (sic)
The misplaced question mark (it should be outside the quote, not inside) is quite telling. Apparently, the headline writers never heard of the doctrine of deification.

Deification, aka divinization, is one of the most ancient doctrines of Catholic Faith. Because of this doctrine, we know exactly what the sacraments do to us: the sacraments make us gods.

If you think I'm overstating the case, read CCC 398, 460, 1589, 1988 and 1999. These reference and quote St. Ireneaus, St. Athanasius, St. Thomas Aquinas and the very Scriptures themselves. Man was never intended to just be and remain man. God always intended us to become gods.

He is Bridegroom, because He first makes us eligible to marry. A man cannot marry a dog or a horse because no animal has a human nature. In the same way, God cannot marry human beings because our nature is infinitely different from His. In order for Him to be Bridegroom, in order for Him to join us to His own Divine Body, we must first be changed. We must share in His nature.

Since He always intended us to share in His nature, He always intended us to be more than human. Human nature is, itself, a waypoint on a journey to the divine destination.

Evangelii Gaudium is beautifully and exquisitely accurate in its single-sentence summation of the ancient teaching of the Church. But the traditionalist community, unable to wean itself from the childish Baltimore Catechism, is thereby rendered completely unable to comprehend the precision of the adult doctrine.

The EF Mass may be a beautiful and mature expression of the Faith, but the question mark at the end of the Pewsitter headline (like the recent screams at Bishop Olson) shows that the participants at this Mass are largely immature in their understanding of the Faith. This is, strictly speaking, not entirely their fault - their pastors should be teaching them the adult Faith. Obviously, this hasn't yet happened. Perhaps it will one day.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Are Anglicans "Fellow Saints"?

Some people are apparently only now becoming upset that, way back in June 2013, Pope Francis quoted a previous Pope in reference to the Anglicans:
On the happy occasion of our first meeting, I make my own the words of Pope Paul VI, when he addressed Archbishop Michael Ramsey during his historic visit in 1966: "Your steps have not brought you to a foreign dwelling ... we are pleased to open the doors to you, and with the doors, our heart, pleased and honoured as we are ... to welcome you ‘not as a guest or a stranger, but as a fellow citizen of the Saints and the Family of God’" (cf. Eph 2:19-20).
At this point in the story, every good Catholic would remember the story of the Church and her saints, particularly the story of the martyrdom of Charles Lwanga and his companions.  Their feast day is June 3.

Why did Pope Paul VI use these words and why did Pope Francis echo these words? Well, because the Popes know Catholic history better than a bunch of lay traditionalists.
On the night of Mukaso’s martyrdom for encouraging the African youths to resist Mwanga, Charles requested and received Baptism. Imprisoned with his friends, Charles’s courage and belief in God inspired them to remain chaste and faithful.

When Pope Paul VI canonized these 22 martyrs on October 18, 1964, he referred to the Anglican pages martyred for the same reason.
You will notice the June 3 feast day commemorates not just Charles Lwanga, but also his companions. That's right, boys and girls. Just as unbaptized infants are saints of the Catholic Church commemorated at Childermas, so baptized Anglicans are canonized saints of the Catholic Church, martyred companions of Charles Lwanga.

Lex orandi, lex credendi - the law of prayer is the law of belief. Since the liturgical calendar is promulgated by an apostolic constitution, the highest expression of the Church's ordinary infallible Magisterium, the calendar of saints is infallibly correct. The Church has declared these Anglicans to be most assuredly saved and residing in heaven, fellow saints, and members of the elect. Anyone who believes any pronouncement, papal or conciliar, to be in opposition to this fact has thereby demonstrated his/her inability to understand the documents of the Church with the mind of the Church.

Traditionalists who will remain unnamed and unlinked here apparently find papal references to the sanctity of God's chosen martyrs and saints to be scandalous. It is objectively sinful to take scandal where none is to be found. However, their ignorance, perhaps even invincible ignorance, may partially or entirely remove their culpability.

Sigh.